Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sickies at Hall Manor

Poor little Jilly has another ear infection! She just got one 6 weeks ago, and already has another one in the same ear. She's been running a fever and having a rough time sleeping, her appetite has been down just a little, and she's even been poking at her ear. So in to the doctor we went today. We weren't able to see her normal doctor, Dr. Cronyn, because she was out of the office today, but we saw Dr. Lockard, who I really liked. The doctor concurred, saying her eardrum was bright cherry red, and that it was a good pick up by Mama. Another round of amoxicillin for Jilly is in the cards. Luckily we don't need to do another follow-up, because her 15 month Well-Baby visit in Feb. 27th. She hasn't been in terrible pain or anything, but the fever has taken a lot of her. For anyone who knows Jilly- she's been cuddling with me, that's how sick she is! You can see it all over her little face how tired and icky-feeling she is. But the antibiotics should work fine and she'll bounce right back, I'm sure.

The doctor also mentioned that she too could hear that the mucus has moved into Jilly's lungs. She wasn't worried about pneumonia, it just sounded really mucusy. When I described the runny nose and cough that Jilly's had since November, the doctor is thinking Jilly has allergies. It makes a lot of sense. The allergies can make her more prone to ear infections also, because the swollen tissue will prevent her Eustachian tubes from draining. She is old enough to go on Claritin, if needs be. We'll discuss it with Dr. Cronyn at the Well-Baby visit. Hopefully, we'll get this all taken care of. Poor baby!!!

She's not the only one who's been sick. Steve and I both got colds over the weekend. He went home from church early on Sunday, but has seemed to bounce back since. I am not feeling too awful (after a horrible headache on Monday), but it seems to have settled in my throat and upper respiratory. So my voice is totally funky. This is especially weird to me, because that almost never happens. I can't lose my voice, if I try. I haven't lost it this time, but I do sound like a 60 year smoker when I speak. But I'm mending as well.

That's the latest with our family. Hopefully we'll all be better quickly.

One last thing: LOST is back on tonight!!!! Praise the heavens! ;-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

You think you know, but do you?

I got this from Bri, and since she tagged everyone, I felt it was my duty to participate. But alas, no pictures. You'll live...

Tag...These really are fun!!! Enjoy!

What were you doing 10 Years ago: I was in 8th grade at Gateway Middle School in Everett, WA. My parents had just divorced, so I was adjusting to that. But mostly, I was having lots of fun with my best friends Ashley and KJ, getting excited for high school.

5 things on my to-do list today:
1. Make more invites for Primary Activity
2. Mail all the invites
3. My daily checks on myspace, facebook and blogger
4. Address the Primary CDs
5. Call my aunt for some Family History info

Things I would do if I was suddenly made a billionaire:
1. Pay off all our debt.
2. Build a house, probably in San Antonio or Austin, and decorate it beautifully but practically
3. Fund college for my kids
4. Invest in a variety of places/things
5. Plan a European vacation for Steve and me
6. New wardrobe for all of us
7. Buy a second car, probably a van or SUV, for me (What? Trust me, Steve doesn't want the van!)
8. Donate to a variety of causes, some official charities, some unofficial- like friends and family. ;-)

Three of My Bad Habits:
1. Procrastination!!!
2. I'm a pack rat and keep everything, regardless of how useless it is. I'm getting better, I swear!
3. I'm selfish, and don't put others' wants/needs ahead of my own enough.

Five Places I have Lived:
1. Bothell, WA
2. Everett, WA
3. Seattle, WA
4. Lynnwood, WA
5. I've only lived in 4 cities!

5 Jobs I have had:
1. Babysitter
2. Vet Clinic gopher
3. Nanny
4. Hotel Front Desk Agent
5. Customer Service Agent/Supervisor at Kenmore Air

Things people don't know about me:
1.I am terrified of water, especially deep clouded water. I can NOT sit in the window seat on an over-ocean flight. I couldn't handle it on a quick island hop! But that is strictly on wheeled planes. I'm totally at peace on a seaplane!
2. I've been on a plane during an engine failure and emergency landing. And I'm still not scared! (or maybe just a little... ;-))
3. I can only follow a receipe when cooking. I can't ad-lib.
4. I'm allergic to angora. I can't wear socks or gloves or anything with angora in it, or my nose and skin will get super itchy.
5. I talk a big mean game, but I really don't back it up. I just complain about it later. ;-)

I tag.....Tara H., Sariah, Renae, Triscuit, and Jenne.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stake Conference

A couple weeks ago we had Stake Conference. It was an extra special treat because an Apostle and a Seventy were going to be there! Elder Richard G. Scott and Elder Brinkerhoff attended and spoke on a couple different occasions. We attended both the Adult Session on Saturday night and the General Session, Sunday morning. Steve also attended the Priesthood Leadership meeting earlier Saturday evening. Thanks to Granny for coming and picking up Jilly, then keeping her all Saturday evening so we could attend without distraction!

(For those of you, not of our faith, Stake Conference is a regional conference that happens twice a year. Our Church is led by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Scott is one of those twelve. We have a few Quorums of the Seventy, one of which Elder Brinkerhoff belongs to, that are generally more localized area/regional leaders.)

The Saturday Adult session was amazing. I really enjoyed myself. I felt the Spirit there in a very strong way and it was so special to be so close to people who've dedicated their lives to serving the Lord. First off, we had a couple (husband and wife) from the Temple Presidency speak, as well as a couple from the Mission Presidency. They were all very pleasant and uplifting talks, but I admit, I didn't take notes on their's! Elder Brinkerhoff spoke next, and again, I didn't take notes. Oops!

Finally, it was time for Elder Scott to speak. I was so excited! His talk wasn't your typical lecture-talk. Instead, he took questions from the audience and answered them. It was clear that he not only a very practiced orator, but he also is very in tune with the Spirit. Elder Scott was able to take all questions and comments and weave them together into a very coherent and organized talk. Here are some notes I took:

*We should be absolutely unanimous in decisions as: Husbands & Wives, Bishoprics, and Elder's Quorum Presidencies. We really should be an unanimous as possible in all settings, but it's essential in presiding authorities.

*When asked what he's learned from President Gordon B. Hinckley, he listed the following: Humility, first and foremost, and extraordinary communication through prayer. Pres. Hinckley never uses cliches or repeated phrases, but is very specific and concise in his prayers. He spends most of the time praying, in gratitude to our Heavenly Father. President Hinckley is very good at getting things done efficiently and to the benefit of man. The example used was about temples. While President Hinckley has been President the number of operating temples from 47 to 124, with 12 more announced or under construction. Pretty impressive, when you take into account that he has only been President since 1995. One other thing was that President Hinckley has remarkable confidence in following the Lord to implement several changes in the operation of the Church and other things.

*Elder Scott was asked how we can make our temple worship more meaningful and "get more out of it". He suggested that we set dates to go to the temple and treat them as if they were major trips. He wants us to view our trips to the temple with the same degree of determination, as if we had to travel long distances to attend. It can be easy to say, "Oh we'll just go next month instead," with the temple being so close. His point was to not let that mindset affect our temple attendance. Another suggestion was to take off your watch and forget about time while in the session. When you're worried about the time, you're thinking about outside issues. You need to focus on what's going on at the moment, and what the Lord has to teach you. Another was to prepare spiritually to be taught by the Spirit. If we go in expecting to learn something, we're much more likely to be taught, rather than waiting for something to happen to us.

*He said something about the Sealing ordinance that stuck with me. I think too often people view it as once you've been sealed to your spouse, you're set. You've checked off everything, and you'll be stuck with the person forever. What Elder Scott said was that both people have to be live worthily and both have to want to be together for eternity. We're not actually bound to eternal togetherness, we have to want it and choose it. By being sealed, we have that option, that would otherwise not be given to us, but we still need to work for it. I really liked hearing that. :-)

*He counseled us to make two lists. One of the thing we want to accomplish on the Earth; the essential, fundamental things. Then make a list of how you have used your discretionary time in the last year. Compare the lists. You want them to match up as close as possible. If you find yourself watching TV more than reading the scriptures and praying, then you probably should make some changes so that you're spending your time on what's really important to you.

*To improve our scripture study, he suggested:
-making notes in the margins
-when you get a new significant calling, get a new set of scriptures and read them with your calling in mind.
-we each need our own physical set of scriptures. The scriptures on the computer are greating for researching and gathering quotes and such, but not for pondering. Reading the actual books will help pondering.

*When asked how we can strengthen our personal relationship with Heavenly Father, Elder Scott replied that we need to understand who His Son is and what He means to Heavenly Father. We focus on Christ being our Savior and Redeemer, but we'll come to know Heaven;y Father more when we truly try to understand who His Son is.

*He spoke about how the Atonement can heal and help rectify the consequences of things that are grossly unfair. The example he used was of abuse. Someone who was abused didn't cause it, and it was grossly unfair, but through the Atonement, they can be completely healed and not have to carry that hurt with them for their entire lives. I found that particularly inspiring.

* "No evil influence can affect a righteous person." That stuck with me. He was showing that just because bad things may happen around or to us, we don't have to give in to the evil. We can, and should, still choose to be righteous.

*Whatever we've earned in this life is ours and no one can take it from us (like forgiveness, blessings, etc). We lose those things through disobedience. But if we're faithful, our love will only increase, thanks to the law of justice.

That's the end of my notes. I really really very much loved attending that meeting. It was a close, intimate meeting. I felt like I was almost sitting in a living room and he was just talking to us. It was amazing.

After the meeting closed, most everyone lined up to shake Elder Scott's hand. I was so excited and made sure Steve and I met him. We waited for a bit, but not too long, and then spoke with him. He shook our hands and told me I had a beautiful smile and that we looked very happy. We replied that we ARE really happy. It was only a moment, but I have NO doubt in my mind that he is an apostle and true servant of the Lord. He doesn't just have a testimony, he knows. It was amazing. (In case I hadn't mentioned that before. ;-))

Sunday morning, we were too late to sit in the chapel or gym and see the meeting. We ended up in the Primary Room, with some other people. It was harder to concentrate because I couldn't see him and the kids were playing. But it was still wonderful to hear everyone speak and the Children's Choir sing. I loved it.

So that is my experience with meeting and hearing Elder Richard G. Scott at Stake Conference a couple weeks ago!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gone With The.....What the?!

My friend Sariah and I have been planning a "sleepover" for a few months now. It all stemmed from Stacey naming her daughter Scarlett, as in Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With The Wind. Sariah and I both commented that we'd never seen the movie, read the book, or really known the story. Since she lives in Vancouver, a scant 3 hours away, I promptly invited her to come up and have a Slumber Party with me, in order to watch it together. We finally hammered out some dates, got the proper time off work and we were all set.

Tuesday morning, she called to tell me she was running late b/c of the snow, ice and Ryan. ;-) It was totally fine, and in fact was better because by the time she got here the ice had melted. Anyway, she arrived like 1:30pm, I think... We pretty much, just hung out chatting for a couple hours, and ate lunch. Steve got home, and we took off to go rent the movie. I wasn't exactly sure where the closest Blockbuster was, but I know where one close enough was, and since Jilly was sleeping, I didn't want to look it up online. Worked out fine, we got it without a problem, made a quick stop at the dollar store and headed back.

We settled in at my house and started it about 5pm. It was one of those plain silver DVDs, actually a double sided one, which makes sense with a 4 hour movie! I just put it in and it started right away! It says, "Entr'acte, " no menu or anything, which was odd, but oh well. So we're watching it, and neither one of us is liking it very much. Scarlett really made us mad and there were some things that didn't make total sense. But whatever. I didn't really get why everyone liked it so much, but hey, sometimes I'm just weird. So the first half comes to an end about 7pm. As it was closing, we just figured it was intermission. But then it says, "The End." We're all like, "Uh...what?!" We knew there was more to the movie, but thought we just needed to flip the disc over. We do that and it starts. It said, "Overture" and goes into the opening credits. OH NO!!! *smacks forehead* We watched the second half first!!! What D-O-R-K-S!!!! Hehehee... So we had a fabulous giggle fit over that. I had to tell Steve (who'd been hiding in the bedroom) and she had to call Ryan. It was too funny! No wonder we didn't understand where that other husband came from that Rhett mentioned! We felt like such dorks, but totally amused nonetheless. Hahahahaha!!! In my defense, the DVD is totally not very clear on which side is which. And since we'd never seen the movie or read the book, we didn't know it was wrong! ;-) After really close examination, I found the "A" and "B" markings, this morning. Hehehehe.

We decided to put off the rest of the movie, until after dinner. While I was making dinner (chicken pillows, yum) I managed to have a couple more brain-dead moments. I put it twice as much cream cheese as was called for, though no one complained about that. And after I'd gotten all the pillow made and sealed, I found the chicken sitting in a nearby bowl. DORK! I opened them back up and stuffed the chicken in. They turned out yummy, but it was still funny. After dinner, Steve got Jilly reeady for bed and we were just watching TV. We watched American Idol, and were both amused and freaked out at some of the auditions. After that, we ended up watching a lot of political coverage on CNN and chatted about that. Finally, around midnight, Steve and I took our leave of poor Riah and went to bed. (Sorry if we kept you up too late!) We put the rest of the movie off until morning.

Steve went to work and I ended up waking up around 9am, Jilly was still asleep. Riah and I turned on the movie, still giggling at the mistake from the night before. We watched the first half and suddenly, a lot more made sense to us. Ahhh. That's the other husband. Oh, she really does have a semblance of a heart. Oh, so Melanie's not her actual sister (which we'd thought). Like I said, it made a lot more sense. And we ended up liking it more. I have to say, I'm still not in love with the movie. Perhaps if I watched all of it together, in the right order, I might like it more. But Scarlett still seemed pretty heartless and thoroughly selfish. Sure, when it really really really counted, she pulled through and did the right thing, but it was always begrudgingly. I see why she acted the way she did in the second half, but I'm still not totally sold on it. Also, the end of the movie was depressing to me, and by having that in the middle for me, it kinda of softened it. Anyway, those are my two cents.

We had to wake Jilly up at 10:45am (lazy baby) and then got ready to go. We finally left my house at like 12:25pm and went out to lunch at Olive Garden. It was sooooo yummy. After that, we stopped at my mom's for a quick errand and then went back to my place. By the time we got back, it was 2:45pm and Sariah had to get on her way quickly, so that she could make it home in time for Mutual. It was a lot of fun having her visit. For sure, the highlight was watching the movie in the wrong order. As soon as we figured it out, we both asked, "Who's gonna tell everyone? They're so gonna laugh at us!!" Hehehehe. So go ahead, giggle away at us. We sure did ourselves! Hehehehe. But it was just a lot of fun chatting and hanging out, mostly just us. She's on her way home now, hopefully, over halfway there. I loved having her visit and hope I can get down there sometime.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Our week

Happy Saturday to you all!

This week has been fairly normal, but there were a couple highlights I want to share with you. Most of them involve Jilly, as if that's any surprise.

*Jilly is now starting to communicate much more with us. She says "Mama" quite frequently, usually to get my attention and beg for food or to hold her. She's starting to say "baba" when she's hungry.

*She LOVES to sing. Anytime music comes on, she starts bouncing and singing along. She'll sing on her own lots too.

*She's way into books. We've had to separate out the more fragile (i.e. plain paper pages) books from her basket, because she tends to rip them. But she's got tons still. So she'll pull them out and look through them. Currently, her favorite is "Peekaboo Kisses" because it squeaks and has a mirror at the end. She loves opening the flap to see herself.

*Jilly is starting to stand! She only does it for a few seconds at a time, but she's done it several times this week. Earlier, she was doing it all by herself. Then yesterday, Auntie Katie was helping her stand up. But she'd actually stay up, which was most impressive! She hasn't wanted to do that, and usually would sit down as soon as she thought you were letting go. Now she'll stay up for a little. Closer and closer everyday...

*She definitely responds to her name. Funnily enough, she responds best to "Jillian", which surprises us because we call her everything else, except Jillian most times. ;-) She's also starting to understand "no".

*She is SUCH a scavenger. Seriously, the kid begs off everyone. For example, yesterday Steve, Katie and I were eating lunch on the couch and even though Jilly had a teething biscuit, she wanted our food. She came over to Steve and stood up at his knee, and kept reaching to grab his plate. He told her to go ask her Mama, so she came right to me. I told her to get the food from her daddy, because I already fed her for her first year. So she went right back to Steve. Then once he was tapped out, she moved on to Auntie Katie. Heheheh. The kid loves to eat.

We had playgroup at our house this Thursday. It was a lot of fun with lots of kids over. Everyone was great, except Jilly got a little freaked out with everyone else being in her space. She wasn't jealous or mean, just overwhelmed, because everytime she'd reach for anything, someone else would swoop in a grab it. Poor thing. But it was a good time, regardless of her sad moments.

Life is finally starting to feel normal again to me. The holidays were really weird, because I had to work or had other appointments and such every day. Steve mostly stayed home with Jilly. Now, we're getting back into the routine of being home during the day and all that entails.

So yup, there's a quick little update. Tonight Jilly will go grocery shopping with Granny while Mama and Daddy go to Stake Conference with Elder Scott! (Church meetings with one of the leaders of the Church.) It should be good times.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hand Party!

It's that time of year again! I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but I do make Hands. Each year, my family and friends get together on New Year's Eve. We make Hands. We trace our hands on pretty paper, decorate with stickers, ribbons, fancy pens, etc and write out our goals for the year on each of the five fingers. On the palm we write "This Year I Will..." with our names and "2008" as well. We then put the Hands up on our fridge, to remind us to work on them all year long. Last year, I accomplished 4 of my 5 fingers. Jilly got all 5 of hers (show off). And Steve did well too. We're hoping this year we do even better.

In 2008, The Halls are going to.....

This Year Aimee Will...

...write a gratitude journal.
...use money more wisely.
...pray more regularly.
...improve my spanish.
...explore the zoo!

This Year Jillian Will....

...walk and run!
...say Granny and Grandpa.
...say Please and Thank You.
...learn 10 Croatian words
...color pictures.

This Year Steve Will....

....Lofa Tatupu (get healthy and in shape like the Seahawks player).
....Hugh Nibley (become a better scriptorian).
....Joseph J. Ellis (write his autobiography).
....Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse (do some creative writing- books, tv show, screenplays).
....Carlos Slim Helu (expland personal wealth and financial stability).

So there you have it! We have some lofty, but attainable goals for this year. I will put up the photos soon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Some Suggestions for Our Hollywood Friends

I friggin love movies, particularly going to the movies. I love a great story expressed visually in a skillful way on the screen. But far too often the wrong movies are made, movies that are stupid, offensive to most, or worst of all, not profitable. Because I am a magnanimous fellow, I'm listing here a few suggestions of how to avoid flop movies and make it much more likely that your movie is profitable. Since the rich need to get richer.

We Like it When the Good Guys Win
Movies that are despair-ridden might be critically acclaimed and good for one time viewing, but nobody wants to go back again and again to watch the hero die or be miserable the entire movie. Into the Wild might be all the rage in critical circles, but it didn't even crack the top 100 earners in 2007, bested by such classics as Mr. Woodcock and The Reaping. People want to leave the theater with a good feeling, not like they just got a lecture.

You Don't Need Filth to Make a Successful Movie
Only 5 R-rated movies were in the top 40 earnings-wise in 2007 (the number is the same for 2006 and 4 in the top 40 in 2005). Since 2002, G-rated movies have the highest per-movie average, followed by PG-13 movies. By far, the most successful R-Rated movie in recent years has been The Passion of the Christ, a profoundly religious movie. Of widely-released movies, R-rated ones tend to fare much worse on average than the other MPAA ratings.

Moviegoers Love God, Family, and Country
Everybody is sick of the Iraq war, even the people who support(ed) it. Together, Rendition, In the Valley of Elah, Lions for Lambs, and A Mighty Heart combined to earn $40 million domestically. This number would barely pay for the budget of Lions for Lambs. Their combined casts include Oscar nominees and superstars like Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Angelina Jolie. People on the right don't watch these movies because they're insulting and people on the left don't because they've been oversaturated.

Family movies fare very well, as noted by the per-screen excellent earnings for G-rated fare. Tyler Perry's pro-family movies have grossed hundreds of millions in the past few years. Meanwhile, Georgia Rule with its tale of sexual abuse (and condescension to Mormons) couldn't clear the $25 million mark.

As for movies with religious content (or that are trying to cover it up), The Golden Compass has at present lost $176 million and must earn $80 million before it becomes the biggest bust in movie history, according to the figures on Its domestic earning couldn't match the blockbusters Stomp the Yard or Norbit. The Passion of the Christ, meanwhile, made 10 times its budget at $370 million domestically and more than $600 million worldwide (not to mention the DVD sales at a near-record pace). The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, authored by Christian icon C.S. Lewis, was a top-3 movie in 2005. It's probably wise to make a movie respectful of the God of the majority of the moviegoing world and unwise to make movies based on a series of books where little children team up with demons to try to kill God.

Know When It's Over
This mainly applies to actors, but "franchises" as well. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are now in a movie celebrating how old and decrepit they are. Woody Allen is still allowed to direct movies. They made Saw IV. Horror movies in their 11th sequel (like the Jason movies) might be profitable, but they just plain suck and are on eyesore on the cinema landscape. Steven Segal, a personal crap fave, is 70 pounds overweight and looks 70 years old, yet still continues to make movies (like the one where he's a butt-kicking archaelogist with a PhD in Chinese history, which he obtained in prison). All of you: please go away.

You Can Make an Action Movie With Heart and Intelligence
I love watching stuff blow up and people kicking the crap out of each other. A fan of the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies, I really enjoyed Casino Royale. In retrospect the movie made me angry, not because of its content or message, but because all of the stupid popcorn Bond offerings before could have been cool AND actually good movies. The same goes for Batman Begins (exluding the 1989 Batman, which was awesome - easily Nicholson's best work). The Bourne trilogy, Harry Potter movies, and Spider-Man flicks all are very exciting movies that are actually good films.

Casting Isn't Everything, but It is a Whole Lot
Val Kilmer as Batman. George Clooney as Batman with batnipples. Denise Richards and Tara Reid playing scientists. Steve Martin in The Pink Panther ( Everyone in The Pink Panther. Obviously, these are examples of staggeringly bad casting choices. Christian Bale as Batman. Matt Damon as Jason Bourne (who would have thought "Matt Damon, action-badass"?) Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (though we'll agree X-men 3 never happened). Everyone in the X-Men movies except for Halle Berry, whose Oscar should have been revoked the second she set foot on the Catwoman set. Daniel Craig as James Bond. Helen Mirren as the Queen. All of these are examples of casting which made good movies great.

Be Smart
The basic message of all of these suggestions is to be smart. If your actress has a bigger bra size than IQ, you can skip the Oscars. If you're going to make a movie that will offend the political, religious, and moral sentiments of the potential audience, make sure you're on a nice, tight budget. Successful movies typically make people feel good, entertain the eye and the mind, and reflect the hopes, wishes, and morals of the audience.