Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Mystery of the Barking Dog

We re-rented the front of our house, and so we have new neighbors again.  They seem very nice.

They have a dog.  As part of discussion before move-in, I reminded them that we do not allow aggressive or excessively barky dogs.  I asked if their dog is aggressive or excessively barky.  They told me it isn't.  They said the dog does bark when people comes to the door, or if people invade the dog's territory, but otherwise it doesn't bark much. (That's acceptable.)

Over the past week or so they've been gradually moving in.  I can tell that they've brought the dog now, because it started barking around 1 pm today, and it has kept barking all day long--it's 8:15 pm as I type this and the wretched beast is still barking.

If you've ever met our dog, you'll know she is almost completely silent.  That's on purpose.  Jeff wanted a Chihuahua and I said "no way, Jose," because Chihuahuas are almost always extremely barky.  (Does anyone disagree with this?  Go visit the small dog room at the humane society and then visit the big dog room.)  The reason I screen for barky dogs before accepting a rental application for our house is because our last renters had a dog that was extremely barky and aggressive when he was outside, and moderately barky inside.  I hated it.

I don't mind hearing the neighbors' dog bark occasionally, but all day long??  Shouldn't it have a sore throat by now?

So, my dear friends, how did this happen??  Please vote.
a) The dog is adjusting to the new home and it will get much quieter very soon; it is not actually a barky dog.
b) The owners didn't realize their dog has a serious barking problem because it actually only barks when they are away, so they really do believe it is a quiet dog.
c) The owners lied or really exaggerated: the dog is barky and they knew it. (Asked about their dogs, how many owners would actually say, "Oh.  Actually our dog is very barky, so this may not work out.")
d) Someone has been knocking on the front door all day long and the dog is just barking about that.
e) It isn't their dog.  Someone else's dog is in the front of our house.
f) Some other reason. (Please explain in the comment space below.)

If this happens again tomorrow maybe I should text them to let them know there may be something wrong and they should probably check on their dog because it has been barking for x hours.  Or slip some poison under the laundry room door.  (Of course I could never actually do that, but my goodness, make the noise stop!)

And, for extra credit, will someone please explain to me why they keep making dogs like this?  If it were up to me, all barky or otherwise "bad" dogs would be neutered or spayed, and then sent to Australia to live out the rest of their miserable lives hunting wild rats and being eaten by fleas.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advice for Job Seekers

I'm hiring again.  Right now I'm looking for a part time assistant to do office work (mainly bookkeeping) and eventually expand to help out with property management tasks (like taking calls and showing available apartments).  The position starts at only 8 hours per week, but we expect that it will grow pretty rapidly.  (Our other positions have basically tripled in hours over the past few months.)

I posted the ad on Saturday, and (less than two days later!) I already have over 30 applications from people who are interested.  This response is typical.

This will be the fourth person I've hired over the past six months, so I'm certainly no hiring expert, but it's becoming really clear to me that there are a few simple things that people can do to increase their chances of getting an interview.

1. Use a professional e-mail address.  Your e-mail address should not have words like "babe," "hot," "stud," "angel," "chick," etc.  If your e-mail address has one of those things, set up a free e-mail address with Gmail that just has your name, and maybe a few numbers.  (If you're a grown up, maybe it's time to say goodbye to your embarrassing e-mail address anyway?)  When I receive resumes from stupid or flirty e-mail addresses, I assume that the applicant is unprofessional, does not pay attention to details, etc, and unless the person immediately appears extremely qualified, these applications go straight to the rejection pile.

2. Pay attention to job requirements.  For this particular job, I am requiring a few things: a background check is a condition of employment; applicants must be totally comfortable using Microsoft Word, the Internet, and Google Maps, etc; they need to have an insured car and valid driver license... and, we're looking for someone who has Quickbooks experience.  They don't need to have used Quickbooks for 10 years, but frankly, my understanding is that it takes some time to learn to use Quickbooks, and that's part of the reason we're hiring to begin with.  If your resume includes experience as a "Sandwich Artist" and a few months as a receptionist, you're going straight into the rejection pile.  (And, why did you waste my time?)  If you don't have the qualifications for the type of job you want, why not get them?  You don't need to have an entire college degree in a related field, but you could at least take a few classes so that your skills will be a better match with what you want to be doing.  Or buy a book to study and practice at home.  People who think that being a "quick learner" means they don't need related experience are kidding themselves.  Being a quick learner may be enough for a job at a sandwich shop, and it will certainly help you as I'm teaching you to use our industry-specific software (which I don't expect anyone to already have experience with), but I still expect you to bring something to the table.

3. Don't bury your qualifications.  I have received so many extremely wordy resumes.  I understand that applicants want credit for as many things they've done as possible so that I'll know they're extra qualified for something, and they can apply for as many different types of jobs as possible.  What actually happens, though, is that it buries your qualifications.  When I "read" your resume, I'm skimming, and I'm looking for specific words that match what I put in the job description: Quickbooks, financial, bookkeeping, real estate, etc.  Don't use complete sentences.  Bullet points that list your skills at the top are even better.  If you actually do qualify, don't risk being accidentally overlooked because your qualification was not obvious.

4. Act like you read the job ad.  You don't have to rewrite your resume for me, and you don't have to spend hours creating the ideal cover letter, either.  (Although both of those things would help you significantly.)  However, if the ad says you're sending your resume to Emily, why address your e-mail to the Hiring Manager?  Are the two seconds it would take to insert my name really too much?  If you don't want to waste your time on a cover letter, send me a very short e-mail that makes it sound like you read the job ad.  Something like:

Dear Emily,
I have experience with Quickbooks, I speak Spanish, and I would love to grow with your company!  My resume is attached.  Please let me know if you have any questions.
Job Hunter

I've had thoughts of expanding my job application instructions to something like this:
"Read this carefully:  If you wish to apply for this job, send your resume to Emily at ---@---.com.  To prove that you actually mean to apply for this job specifically, answer the following questions in the text of the e-mail: 1. Have you ever used Quickbooks before?  2. Do you have a reliable vehicle?  3. How many hours is this position? If you do not include the answer these questions in the body of the e-mail, your resume will not be considered.  Thank you."

5. Don't bother including an objective on your resume.  Objectives were really popular in the 80's, I think, but they haven't been popular for a while now.  I don't actually care what you're looking for--I just care if you can meet my needs.  That's what I'll be paying you for.  If you include an objective anyway, try to have it sort of match my job.  If your objective is all about something totally unrelated to the job that I'm offering, not only does it draw attention to the fact that your qualifications are probably for some other field, it also gives me the idea that you would rather be doing something else, so you probably won't do a very good job at my position that you're applying for, since you don't care about it.

Anyhow, these are just some of the thoughts I keep having as I peek at the e-mails and resumes I'm receiving.  These things seem like common sense to me, but the same issues come up over and over again, so I guess it's common lack-of-sense.  About 80% of the applications I receive have one (or more) of these problems.  The good news is, if my suggestions sound new to you, changing a few simple things can probably move you into the top 20%, which will dramatically increase your chances of getting an interview (and a job).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pregnancy Jokes

Jeff and I have two favorite pregnancy-related jokes.

Our First Joke

The first joke started back when we were trying to conceive.  When you're trying to conceive, you're supposed to act like you're pregnant, because maybe you already are!  Obviously there's some sense to not doing risky things when you could be pregnant, but acting like maybe I'm pregnant felt pretty ridiculous.  (And, then, it was just kind of disappointing when I wasn't pregnant the first month.)

Anyhow, Jeff really wanted me to be careful, though, because mistakes in very early pregnancy can have serious consequences.  Fair enough.

So one time I had a sore throat.  I searched online for "sore throat pregnancy" (or something like that) so that I could find a safe method for treating a sore throat.  To my surprise, the top results were pages answering the question of whether a sore throat is a very early pregnancy symptom.  (It could be!  The charts show that women who turned out to be pregnant had a slightly higher incidence of sore throats...)

It all reminded me of when one of my friends in high school thought everything a particular boy did was related to her: "Oh, he looks sad, maybe he's thinking about how I didn't call this Saturday?"  Uh, no.  Maybe he's realizing he has a test next period.  (He wasn't interested in her at all, so it was kind of silly for her to act like everything he did had to do with her.)

So, Jeff and I had a good laugh about people seriously wondering if they're pregnant once they notice a sore throat.

After that, any time either of us had a symptom, we diagnosed it as an early pregnancy symptom.

"Oh, your nose is stuffy?  You must be pregnant!"  Anything!  Symptoms that seemed especially unrelated to pregnancy became our best indicators.  That was our favorite joke while we were trying to conceive.

Our Second Joke

So, I've had morning sickness for...oh, about 6 weeks now?   I don't remember how this one started, but at some point I started telling Jeff,  "You make me sick!"  I say it in a really irritated voice, as if I find him absolutely disgusting.  But actually, he got me pregnant, so he did make me sick.  So we both laugh about that, because I'm being literal about a statement that is typically used figuratively.  Funny!


So, recently I went shopping and I came back with a lot of random stuff.

Me:  I bought a lot of random stuff.  Like, I got a pineapple.  This is what happens when I have weird tastes and I go to the grocery store:  I'm so used to everything sounding bad that I buy everything that has appeal to me and I get a lot of weird stuff.

Jeff: Like oranges?

Me: Uh huh.  Well, not oranges, but mandarin oranges.  But not in a can this time.

Jeff:  They have a peel.

Me: Hahaha!  Good one.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


We're expecting!

Baby is due June 16th.
This is our ultrasound from Thursday.  Baby is about the size of a grape, and kind of the shape of a gummy bear. The right part of the blob is its head, and the left part of the blob is its body.  My midwife was able to point out all of the arms and legs, the spinal cord, and the jaw.  It has a strong heartbeat, and it was moving its little limbs around as we watched it.

I have been sick, sick, sick for about a month now.  I get nauseous soon after I wake up, and usually I just stay nauseous all day long.  Nothing really makes it better, except for chocolate, which really doesn't sound good to me in the morning.  Now, Jeff makes me hot chocolate every morning, and that makes my days about 80% better.  I still have a lot of days where I just spend most of the day sleeping and feeling awful, though.  We've had my assistant come over much more often to help me keep up with property management stuff and household stuff.  That helps somewhat.  And right now I'm on the "Things That Sound Like They Will Not Make Me More Sick" diet.  Hopefully I'll start feeling better soon.

We picked an excellent midwife.  She's very experienced, and she's always booked about 8 months out, with a waiting list.  We called her as soon as we knew I was pregnant, and we're excited to be working with her.  Jeff and I both want to have an out-of-hospital birth, for a variety of reasons.  We have excellent insurance, so a hospital birth would pretty much be free, but it's an easy decision for us: we want the very best for our child, and we won't get the best at a hospital.  For Jeff, it's all about statistics: out-of-hospital births statistically have better outcomes (for example, much lower rate of c-sections, lower rates of postpartum depression, etc).  For me, it's about the experience that I want to have (I attended four of my mom's home births).  At this point we're leaning toward having a planned home birth, but my midwife also has a very nice birth center, so we're still considering that option.

We've only [tentatively] picked a girl name: Renesme.  We could also combine my mom's name (Karen) and Jeff's mom's name (June) to make something really special, like Juren, or Karune.  We could use the same naming convention if it's a boy--my dad's name is Robert and Jeff's dad's name is Thomas, so we could call him Tombob or Botom, but I'm just not as sure about those.   Just kidding.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Learning to be a Good Employer

I hired a lady several months ago to do some cleaning, organizing, and personal assistant type work for me.  It's been working out all right.  She was promised just 4 hours of work per week, but she's more than happy to work more hours, so it's fluctuated.  For the past week and a half, we've had her coming every week day for 3-4 hours.  Now, primarily she does cleaning, but she also runs some errands for me.

Today something happened that kind of put a bad taste in my mouth.

We're renting the front of our home again, and last week this lady offered to put an ad online for me, from her house.  So she did, sometime at the end of last week.  Honestly, I think the ad is terrible. It doesn't highlight features of the home, and it abbreviates too many words (which means it won't come up in searches), and she only posted it on Craigslist, which would be perfect, except that here in Utah people all use KSL, not Craigslist.  Of course, I have gotten absolutely no response from the ad.  Jeff says her ad is okay.  It's better than nothing, and I've been too busy to spend time on that, he says.  Well, that's fine.

Today, she asked me something to the extent of how did I want to handle payment for her placing ads.  "Oh," I said.  "Right.  How much time did you spend on it?"  "About fifteen minutes.  Because it was the first time, and I had to download pictures."  "Oh.  Hm.  Okay."

Now, here's the thing.  I absolutely do not expect this lady to spend a second of her time working for free.  I have every expectation that she will be paid for every bit of time that she spends working for us.  That's only fair.

Really, though, I kind of thought that I had already paid her for her time that she spent on the ad.  See, she comes late almost every time she works, and then she frequently leaves a little early, too.  So I thought maybe she left early and completed her shift at home the day that she placed the ad.  I didn't clarify that with her, though, so maybe I should have.

Here's the thing: I pay this lady cash every day that she comes to work for us.  It's a pain, and it seems nit-picky to reduce her pay when she works 10-15 minutes less than her scheduled work time.  What is 10-15 minutes if she's been working for 3-5 hours?  Plus, we don't have a time clock in our house, so I don't want to accidentally round her time down just because I wasn't paying close attention to the time when she arrived or left.  So I just round up.  To be nice.

There have been a few times lately where I've invited her to eat lunch with me.  On the clock.  Just to be nice.

And, she's kind of a slow worker.  We think we're over-paying her, by at least a couple dollars an hour.  It seemed worthwhile when she was helping organize, but now she's not doing organization, and sometimes we wonder what's taking her so long to get things done.

We also reimburse her mileage when she runs errands, at .50/mile.  It is obvious to me that she rounds these figures up.  For instance, today she drove out to one of the properties I manage to drop some papers off, and she told me it was 35 miles.   Google Maps says her drive was 23 miles, round trip.  That's an extra $6 right there.

So...today I wasn't really sure what to do.  The amount of payment in question is only $3.  When she left today, she she was short on her time even today by 10 minutes.  So I paid her the rounded-up amount for her hours today, and decided I would just think about what to do.

Here are my thoughts:
1. I should pay her the $3, I guess, since obviously she doesn't feel like she has been compensated for that time.
2. I should keep track of the time that she works, to the minute, and if it means she's getting loose change instead of dollars, well, that's what she earned.
3. Google Maps will be our authority for determining mileage.
4. If I feel like inviting her to eat lunch with me, I will, but I probably won't really feel like it.

Do I really need to be so militant about all this?  It seems a little ridiculous.  But still, really, she knows she comes late.  (She apologizes when she does.)  So, why would she make a big deal about a few minutes of work that she did from home, at her own suggestion?

I don't know.

What do you think, readers?  What is the right thing to do?  What would a good, fair employer do?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Ducklings and a Buck


Jessica told me she knew someone who was looking for a home for their ducks, and wondered if we were interested.  We were.  Jeff has actually been asking me to get ducks for about a year now, and one time this spring I actually looked for them, but I didn't find any.

So, this Friday the family brought their three ducklings to our house.  We like them.

They're really cute.  And they were raised by a bunch of kids, so they're pretty friendly, too.

The ducklings are going through their voice change right now, which is absolutely adorable.  They say "peep peep QUACK peep QUACK."

This morning I put them out in the yard with the goats.  It took them about 5 minutes to find the drinking pond and start swimming in it.   Ducks are fun.

New Goat 

We have our buck for the year.  We got him a couple weeks ago.  Supposedly he's hot stuff, because he has a bunch of champion goats in his lines.  It was kind of an ordeal getting him.  Here's what happened:

We had been watching KSL for a decently priced buck.  I found one, and the guy was willing to deliver for the cost of fuel, so I called and told him I wanted it.  He was going to deliver the buck last Thursday, I think, and then it became last Friday night at 7pm.  We were not excited about that time, but we figured it would be ok.  Except the guy didn't come at 7.  He called around 7 saying he was coming at 8.  We kept waiting at our house for him (on date night) and he kept not showing up.  At 9:40 (past our bedtime) the guy was on his way, with the goat loaded up, about 40 minutes away.  Sigh.  Well, okay.  So we kept waiting, and finally the guy got here, after 10pm!  We unloaded the buck and put him in with the does, and went into the garage to pay the man and have him sign a receipt for us, and to get the registration papers for him.  So I was like, okay, so, $150 plus $20 for delivery.  And the guy was like, "Wait, what?  No, I had him listed at $300."  And I said, "Uh, no, it was definitely $150, and I didn't even see any other bucks posted by you."  [Awkward pause.]  "Well, I just listed him a few days ago."  So it was a big miscommunication, but actually Jeff and I were no way going to pay $300 for a buck, because we would never be able to resell a buck for that much.  I brought out the printout of the ad that I saw on KSL ($150), and the guy realized what I was talking about.  We talked about paying to rent the buck (yes, people do that); the guy wasn't that interested.  Finally, he suggested we pay $200, and we weren't crazy about paying that much for just a buck, but we were both tired and wanted to be done with things, so we just did.  And then, I was looking at the papers, and it said the buck's parents were the same as the other goat we thought we were buying.  Oh well.

So.  Now we have him.  The guy said he is about 6 months old...and so far he is totally uninterested in the does.  And I know some of the does have been interested in him.  So, I don't know what his problem is, but he better not actually have a problem.

Also, he has no name yet.  I need to come up with something so that I can send his papers in.

Other Things

We went to St. George.  It was fun.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Work, New Cat, Temple Pictures, Garden, and Moving.


I've been busy with work lately, which is a good thing.  A man in northern Utah asked me to manage his house for him.  He's moving out of the country.  Then, another man who has eight apartments and lives out-of-state asked me to manage for him too.  So, this month I've spent a lot of time showing vacancies lately, and also responding to maintenance issues at the apartments.  I've actually been busy enough that I haven't been doing any more marketing, although I plan to pick up with that again soon.

Jeff is back to work, too.  He has been for a little while now.  He did get multiple job offers again, but one of the jobs offered higher pay and really good benefits, so he accepted that one.  It's with a company that most people have heard of.  Jeff doesn't really like the job very much, because it's taking a long time for him to actually get started doing programming, and he is bored.  That should improve over time, though.  He keeps finding out about new benefits--we already knew our health care would pretty much be free, but on the first day of work he found out they were going to give him an iPhone--and pay for his service.  (Cool!  Although Jeff is kind of disappointed because he really likes his Droid.)  Then, Jeff offered to work later hours so that he can work some hours with the Australians that are on his team...so the company gave him a credit card and said they will pay for his dinner every day.  Nice!

New Cat

I brought home a new cat.  I was showing the home that I'm managing to some prospective renters and I asked if they had any pets.  (The owner allows up to two, with pet rent.)  They said no--well, they do--they have cats--but they're getting rid of them.  "Oh," I said,  "Are they good at catching mice?"  I explained that we've looked for a mouser before, but people always list cats online saying they would be good at catching mice, or saying they would grow up to be good at catching mice, but I want a cat that already catches mice. 

They said, "Actually, they are!"

So we talked some more about it, and after I showed them the rental home, they invited me back to their house.  I met two of their cats, and decided to take the one who had more of a history of catching mice.  Her name is Kitty, she is 17 years old, and she has long fur that started getting ratty a few months ago.  She is sometimes really friendly and sometimes really aggressive.  Perfect.

So I brought her home, and let her out in the barn, and then I didn't see her again.

Jeff thought I was joking when I told him I'd brought a cat home, but it didn't really matter because she isn't really our pet, she's just [supposed to be] living in the barn and we're feeding her.  We'd talked about getting a barn cat before, so it wasn't completely out of the blue. 

And then, after a few days of Kitty being missing, I was out doing some work in the barn and I heard a meow that wasn't Paley.  I walked around the corner, and (!) there she was!  So I showed Jeff our new cat.  And I fed her.  Paley does not like Kitty.  Kitty is disinterested in Paley.

Temple Pictures

This week my Relief Society (ladies church group) did a "Wonderful Wednesday" activity.  The main project was making temple pictures.  The pictures are beautiful (and popular up here in Utah) but if you just go buy one they usually cost about $200, so although I've wanted one for a while, I haven't bought one.  For the activity they charged us $53, though, and that was totally worth it.

I invited my sister Jessica, and we each did pictures of the temples where we were married.  (Jess did Salt Lake and I did Jordan River.)  It was pretty easy.  Basically, what you do is mount a print onto a board.  Let it dry.  Texture the print.  Let it dry.  Paint your frame.  Let it dry.  Add screws and little metal things to the back of the frame.  Insert the mounted, textured print.  Tighten the screws.  Wait a day and add the bracket thing that lets you hang it.  Then hang it.


My garden didn't go quite how I planned, mainly because I was unable to get a fence up to protect my garden from goats.  So I never planted my garden.  But, after I abandoned so many healthy plants at my in-laws' house, my father-in-law planted anything that seemed like it might survive.  This resulted in a lot of produce, actually.  We've been picking and eating purple tomatoes when we go over to my in-laws' on game days.  And, I've had a couple of the Rich Sweetness 132 melons.  They're small, but they're pretty delicious.  A couple days ago, my father-in-law tore out all of my garden and harvested what he could.  Frost is coming soon, anyway, and I think he is planning to plant some trees where my garden was growing.  It was nice of him to let my stuff grow at their house.  


We're only sort of moving.  We've been living in the back portion of our house, and we've had the front part rented out.  The guys living in the front have been there for over two years, but now they're moving.  So we're going to move up to the front!  I think it will probably need new carpet, and a little bit of work done...but we plan to move in the beginning part of November.  I am SO excited to have a kitchen(!) and a bath tub(!) and a bigger office area(!) and a fireplace(!).  Jeff is worried that moving will be a lot of work, and getting organized will take a long time.  It kind of will, but I don't think it will be too bad, because we won't have to pack, or load things up in a truck, or anything like that.  We'll just take things and put them in their new places.  Easiest Move Ever.  Did I mention I'm excited to have a real kitchen?  Because I am.  We finally got an oven back here a few weeks ago, though, and that's already been excellent. 

We're busy and we're happy and these are the things that are going on.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Yeild for Pidestreines.

Want to see something kind of funny?

Recently, Jeff and I stopped by our Walmart for something and as we were leaving I noticed this:

"Wait.  Isn't yield Y-I-E-L-D?" I asked Jeff.

"Is it?  Yeah, I think it is."

"It definitely is.  Stop so I can take pictures?"


So I got out and took pictures.  (Because, how often do you actually see failblog stuff in real life?)

The next day we stopped by Walmart for something else, and they had already changed them:


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jack-O-Heifer, New Neighbors, and Work (or lack thereof)

I've been in one of those moods lately where I feel like I don't have anything to blog about.  I guess I actually do, though.  We went hiking near Heber for Labor Day.  And we went to the State Fair.  That was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed the agriculture buildings more than I used to.  It was fun to see the goats that people were showing.  Also, the lady that a bunch of our goats are from was there, so it was fun to finally meet her.  We talked with her for quite a while.

Farm News

Our animals are all doing well.  Turkey is getting big.  I wonder how much he will weigh for Thanksgiving.

Daisy lost one of her front teeth.  Poor little girl!  I suspect one of the goats shoved her too hard.  (They're always trying to establish their pecking order.)  We were wondering, will she have a gap in her smile forever???   Do cows have baby teeth???  I finally looked it up.  Cows do have baby teeth.  (GOOD.)  Daisy will grow a new tooth in about a year and a half.

(I kept trying to get a picture of her goofy new smile and she wouldn't cooperate.  So, maybe later.)

New Neighbors

Did I mention we have new neighbors?  Because we do.

A couple days before our old neighbors moved, we were talking to them, and joking about whether the new people realize we have goats.  Our old neighbors said yes, actually, they were excited about the goats.  (They must not have shown the house at 6:30 am when our goats are noisy, I told Jeff.)

They really are excited about our animals, though.  The neighbors have two kids: Peyton (a boy, 10? years old) and Tristen (a girl, 4? years old).  They are adorable, and friendly, and they like us a lot.  We went over to introduce ourselves right after they moved in, and Jeff told them they're welcome to come over any time to visit our animals.

So, they do.

Seriously, the kids hang out in their backyard (by our fence) waiting for me to come outside.  "PEYTON, PEYTON!  THE LADY IS OUT!"  "CAN WE COME OVER?"  "Sure!"

I let them collect eggs with me one of the first times they came over.  I told them they could each take two.  They thought that was a lot of fun.  Peyton has come up with a schedule.  He thinks it is a good idea for them each to collect two eggs once a week.  That's fine.

They like to "help" me milk.  "Okay.  So you normally milk at 7:00?  We'll be outside at 6:55.  Wait for us, okay?"  It's pretty cute.  They come out with me, and I've shown them how to milk, so Peyton always wants to do as much of it as I will let him.  He knows to spray the teats, and wipe them with a goat wipe, and then to spray one squirt of milk not in the bucket.  "Let me do it, okay?  I know how."  Sure.  So I'll milk one side, and Peyton milks the other side, at the same time.  He chatters with me all about how fun it is to have nice neighbors, and about how farm work is like chores--except it is fun.  And he talks to me about how farm food is better than food from the store.  Then when we're finished milking, he likes to come inside and help me filter it.

Jeff thought it was really funny the other day because Peyton had suggested that he could help with the farm work and we could share milk and eggs and meat.  So then we were in filtering the milk and he explained a good way for us to do things:  when we filter the milk, if we get two quart jars, he'll take the one with less in it.  Hahaha!  He wanted to take half of our milk.  "Yeahh, probably not every day, but sometimes you can!"  "Oh, I mean, I know not every day."

So he wanted to try raw milk.  I told him he had to ask his parents.  So they both ran back to their house, and their parents discussed it and decided it was fine, and they came back and I let them take a quart of fresh, warm, raw goat milk back home.  (Labeled, of course.)  The next morning, Peyton told me he didn't really like it.  It tastes really different than store milk.  I asked if he had it cold.  "Halfway cold."  "OH, well you should try it when it is cold.  It tastes a lot better cold!"  So later he did, and now he says he doesn't think he likes store milk anymore because raw milk just tastes better.  Good kid.

He told me he can milk for us when we go on vacation.  It's tempting.  He usually milks about 1/2 of one goat all in all, so I don't think he would actually be strong enough to milk all by himself yet, but maybe next year.  It's cute that he enjoys it so much.

They also help with feeding the animals.  Tristen likes to feed Daisy bottles.  They both like feeding the chickens.

The thing about kids is, they're really funny.  Sometimes I wish I could just do farm chores without "help" (because it takes about 2-3 times as long when they come over), but mostly we just really enjoy having them visit.  They say the funniest things.  Peyton was AMAZED by the door to our garage (from the hallway by our front door).  "I can't believe this," he said, just standing there, staring.  "I've always wanted to see one of these.  It's just like I imagined."  "What?" I asked.  "You have an upside down door!"  "Huh.  I guess I do."  "You never noticed???"  "Well, I hadn't really thought about it." 

Jeff's Job

Jeff got a surprise at work recently.  Not this past Thursday but the week before, Jeff's CEO called him into a conference room---and said Jeff would be taking a six-day furlough, starting that Friday.  They put 80% of their employees on unpaid leave, because they were having financial problems.  Basically, they were receiving investor funds and the last installment was two months overdue.  Jeff asked a lot of prying, hard questions, and left work with the impression that the investor had probably walked.  "Take a vacation!" they told him, but Jeff knew after their conversation that he had pretty much been laid off.

So, the six-day break became a six-day intensive job search.  We were disappointed about the furlough because Jeff really loved his job.  He liked the work environment, and he liked what he was working on.  Too bad. 

This past week, Jeff has been to a bunch of interviews, and he got his first job offer.  He has a few more second interviews at the beginning of next week, and he hopes to make a decision about his next job on Tuesday or Wednesday. 

Finally, last night Jeff got a call from the CEO of his company.  We assumed it would be notification that Jeff was laid off, and it basically was.  On the message, the CEO told Jeff that unfortunately they were unable to secure funding, and everyone was going to be on "indefinite furlough" and he understood if Jeff wanted to find a new job, but the CEO hoped that he would still be able to secure funding.

So, I guess that's that.  We are grateful that we are very prepared, and we don't live on the edge; we haven't had to change our spending at all.  So that's a blessing.

Em's Job

I've still been doing a lot of marketing!  My 500 flyers came, and they look SO professional.  I think they turned out really nice.  I sent a bunch last weekend to people who are currently trying to rent their homes.  No response from that yet.  I also talked with a guy who e-mailed me this week about managing his home for him.  I think that one is going to work out.  So, that will be really exciting.

I would love to get busy doing more real estate work and less marketing.  (I think these things just take time.) 

We're gearing up for a couple vacancies--we've gotten notice for two of our properties.  It's kind of bad timing (summer would have been better), but not a big deal. 

I also ordered my second set of postcards for the 273 people.  I think they will arrive on Monday.

I'm participating with the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), and I love their meetings.  Everyone is very friendly and helpful.

Well, I think that's about it for now!  We're doing well, and we're really happy.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

A new heifer, more work, and preparedness blog posts

This week we got a Jersey heifer calf!

I told Jeff I would milk for three months if he would get me a calf.  He agreed.  We named her Daisy, she is eleven days old today, and she is absolutely adorable.  We won't actually get milk for a couple years, but we're still excited to have her.  I bought a halter for her, and we're teaching her to let us lead her, but cows don't really like going where you want them to.  We (okay, I) wanted her so that we can use her milk for cream, butter, and cheese.  Her mom gives 6-7 gallons per day, so Daisy should be a pretty high producer.  When she is full grown she will weigh about 800 lbs.

I've been working on building my property management business.  So far I am not managing much, so I've been working on marketing a lot.  I sent out 273 postcards to people who either bought or tried to sell multifamily housing in Salt Lake county within the last year.  A couple people called from that, but it hasn't resulted in any new management contracts---yet.  I also developed a flyer for other Realtors to give to their clients that are having trouble selling in this economy.  I designed sticky notes (with a message to the Realtors), and once the flyers arrive (probably Tuesday), I will be able to go out to other real estate offices and introduce myself to other Realtors.  I had 500 flyers printed, and I think they are a good direction to head.

Last week started a property management blog.  I am http://thepropertymanager.wordpress.com.  I have other websites, like my name .com and slcpropertymanagement.com, but I don't know how to put a blog on one of those sites (yet) so I figured I might as well start anyway.  The blog only has a few posts so far, because it is new.  I keep checking statistics to see if other people have found it at all, and it never has any views at all.  That's okay!  I'm still excited about it.  These things take time. 

I have also written more emergency preparedness blog posts.

I haven't mentioned this for a while on this blog, so there are a lot of new posts. I finished my series on sprouting, and then I wrote about: HAM radio, storing various types of fuel, food storage for restricted diets, a couple posts about specific eFoods Direct products, and bartering.  Now I am writing a series called "Preparedness Chickens" which is to help people understand how they can start keeping chickens in their backyard, as part of their emergency preparedness and food storage. 

11 April 2011 - Sprouting: How to Choose Seeds
18 April 2011 - Sprouting Supplies
25 April 2011 - Try Sprouting!
2 May 2011 - You'll wish you had a HAM radio!
9 May 2011 - How to get your HAM radio license
16 May 2011 - Storing Gasoline?
23 May 2011 - Storing Propane for an Emergency
30 May 2011 - Food Storage for Restricted Diets, part I
6 June 2011 - Food Storage for Restricted Diets, part II
13 June 2011 - Kerosene, White Gas, and Butane
20 June 2011 - Storing Wood or Coal
27 June 2011 - Best. Snack. Ever.
4 July 2011 - eFoods Direct Blueberry Muffins Recipe
11 July 2011 - Bartering in an Emergency
18 July 2011 - Everyday Bartering 
25 July 2011 - Prepare to Create Value in an Emergency
1 August 2011 - Preparedness Chickens - part 1
8 August 2011 - Preparedness Chickens - part 2
15 August 2011 - Preparedness Chickens - part 3
22 August 2011 - Preparedness Chickens - part 4
29 August 2011 - Preparedness Chickens - part 5

I have three upcoming posts about chickens, and then I will be moving along to another topic.  There has also been a change in the schedule, so now I will be posting every other Monday, instead of every Monday. 

Well, this is about enough for now.  We're doing well.  Please think happy thoughts of me finding properties to manage.  :)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

How We're Doing

We've been doing really well lately.

Jeff got a new job. This spring, after 7 out of 9 managers at his old job all quit within a few weeks time, Jeff decided he was ready to move on. He started taking calls from recruiters, and he went to several interviews. Finally, he came home from one of the interviews really excited about the company, and it seemed like a good match. After he got an offer from them he gave notice at the old job...and places he had interviewed with kept presenting him with job offers. On the day before he started his new job there was basically a bidding-war between two companies, which was pretty flattering. He took the job that he had been so excited about.

He's been at the new job for a couple weeks now. He really likes it a lot. He feels like he will be able to make a difference, and he really likes that the team works together so well. So, Jeff is very happy with his new job.

We got a lot of goats! First we got the mama and doeling (which were afraid of people). Then we got Sunday, Claire, and Star. Then, we saw another registered Nubian doe online, giving as much milk as Sunday, and we decided to buy her and sell Sunday. Except, then Jeff thought maybe we should keep Sunday after all, because she gives so much milk. But, we did sell Bucko. And then Caroline kidded! Finally! She had two bucklings. And we were Very Responsible, and we disbudded them (burned the horn buds so that no horns will ever grow). We played with the bucklings and enjoyed them for a couple weeks, and then we sold them. And then a couple days ago I finally sold the mama goat and the doeling.

So, now we're down to:
1. Feta - Our original goat. But she's doomed. I was trying to sell her but she isn't purebred and she has horns, and she hasn't had babies (so she hasn't given milk), so she isn't selling for enough. She is worth more to us as meat.
2. Caroline - we're finally getting milk from her!
3. Sunday - She is listed for sale.
4. Claire - She is SKINNY, still, just like she was when we bought her. We are going to try deworming her and giving her some immune support stuff, and we'll see if that helps her.
5. Star - We tattooed her, and now she is in the process of becoming an official registered goat.
6. Mercedes - My favorite goat, because she is so, so easy to milk.

We are getting a ton, ton, ton of milk. I separate cream about twice a week. Sometimes we make cheese and butter.

I also ordered chicks online, which I already blogged about. They're getting bigger. They're outside now. I've been selling some of those, too.

I think that's all of the farm news.

I also finally joined the Weston A. Price Foundation. Jeff and I have been big fans of it for a while, and I thought it was time to pay up so I will start receiving their quarterly journal, and so that I can participate with people locally who are interested in the same sorts of things. I met the local WAPF chapter leader, and it was a lot of fun to talk all about raw milk and butter, and goats, and good food.

This last Monday I started trying to follow the GAPS diet. I've been reading the book about it, and it just makes so much sense. On the GAPS diet you eat no refined sugar (only honey and fruit as sweeteners), no gluten or starchy foods (so, no white flour or potatoes, etc), and no lactose. I'm planning to stay on the GAPS diet for a year and a half, probably. We'll see how it goes. I am not perfect about it, but I think I'm doing pretty well.

In other news, I am still starting my business! I am working on building my property management business. I am developing a website, and putting together mailing lists of people who may be interested in property management (like, people who bought multi-family housing within the last year...because maybe they realized it is more hassle than they want). I hired a handyman to work for us part-time, so that we can offer clients discounted rates on repairs or service. If anyone knows of someone who could use a property manager in Salt Lake county, please let me know!

I think those are some of the main things that have been happening.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Post Office called me at 6 am...

Yesterday morning, my Post Office called my cell phone at 6 am. The call was from a restricted number, so it was kind of a surprise.

My package arrived!

We've been wanting to replace some of our hens, since they're getting older and they're not really laying too much anymore.*

Up until now, we've been happy to try a bunch of different chicken breeds. We didn't have a preference, so having various breeds made it so that each chicken was unique, plus we got to see their varied personalities.

Now, we know what we like: Araucanas and Delawares. No more messing around with red hens and black hens and speckled hens--a flock of Araucanas and Delawares is a perfect flock. And, anyway, when it comes to keeping chickens, it's okay that every bird isn't unique.**

IFA (our country store) stopped selling chicks months ago, so I looked all through the local classified ads for young Araucanas. Nobody has them! (I found some older ones, but we were hoping to raise them from chicks, since it seems like that makes a big difference in how our birds turn out.) I also checked with a lady nearby who sells tons and tons of chicks, as a business--but she is all out of Araucanas for 2011.

Hm. So, I ordered them from a company on the Internets!

They required a minimum order of 25 chicks (and they had no Delawares available until the end of August, which is too late), so I ordered 25 Araucana pullets***!

Neat. I figure I can sell the extra ones online.

So! Here we are with more chicks. This time they are in our garage, in a special chick playground that Jess gave us. I'm being extra careful to keep Paley's dish full of cat food. As long as I don't starve her, she should leave them alone.

We've decided to try our best to raise our animals organically, and these chicks are the first to benefit from that--they are eating organic chicken feed! (The adult chickens will finish off our conventional feed, and then we will start buying organic food for them, too.)

That's all I have to say about them for now.

Oh, except, when you order chicks from this place online they always include one rare chick along with your order. I don't know what kind it is, but it has feathers on its feet, so I'm hoping it is fluffy like my little white bird. (She has feathers on her feet too!)

* Time to learn another homesteading skill.
** See previous footnote.
*** Pullets means they should all be girls.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Goats?? (Our revised plan.)

We were (already!) getting really tired of listening to goats. It was a little bit funny, because the goats got hoarse voices from complaining so much. But mostly it was just obnoxious. (Even J thought it was obnoxious, and usually I'm like "J, this noise is awful!" and he says, "I kind of like it. You know, it's just the sounds of a farm. It's kind of relaxing.")

And then there was this...the doeling has been sitting on one side of the fence, and her mama has been sitting on the other side of the fence. Occasionally she stands up to look over the fence. Sometimes they make distressed cries for each other.

[Mama by the fence...]

[Feta screaming at the door, by the Comcast internet cable which they have pulled down, and doeling by the fence, where her mama is on the other side. Feta made a rotten babysitter.]

The mama goat hates being milked, too. Goats normally like to be milked, because they don't think of it as being milked, they just think of it as being fed good stuff, and it's kind of nice that we relieve the pressure in their udder while we're sharing such good food. Each time we milk the mama goat we have to corner her, or trick her into coming for grain so that we can catch her. Then we drag her across the yard, pick her up and put her onto the milking stand, make her actually stand up, and we only get about 2 cups of milk each time we milk her, and she doesn't eat much grain, so it isn't fun for her. So for that it just really isn't worth all the trouble.

Plus, now that I've spent some quality time with the mama goat, I've gotten to know her a little better. I'm realizing the people we bought her from took awful care of her. Basically, I think they just didn't take care of her. When we got her up on the milk stand we realized her feet are a mess. You're supposed to clip goat hooves every couple weeks or so, but I would guess that she never had her hooves clipped at all. They are all torn and misshapen, and they've grown really messed up. Plus, she is missing some of her front teeth. Poor goat!

We have bad goats.

So, what to do? J and I have been talking about just spending the money to get good goats. Good goats mean more milk, a more pleasant milking experience, and then when we breed them, more good goats (which will sell for more money, too).

After listening to our goats complain so much, and rationing our precious milk that we've been able to get, we think it's time. So today my assignment was to find a good goat, and just buy it. And then, we can sell the mama goat and keep the baby, or whatever.

So, I looked online and found some good goats for sale. I talked to the owner for a little while; she was selling her whole herd because she is moving. So, these were not her rejects, which is a good thing. I ended up buying three Nubian goats! They are:

"Sunday" who is 3 years old, and she's had triplets the past two years. She gives 8 cups of milk each time you milk her and she has awesome teats, which makes her a really amazing dairy goat. Her head looks Nubian and her body has a lot of white (not normally a Nubian thing), so I don't really know what the deal is there, but she's supposedly full Nubian.

Sunday is very friendly, and after you milk her she won't get off the milk stand until you give her some kisses. Sunday was actually raised indoors, as a pet, kind of like a dog. The people kept her as long as they could, and then she got to be too big. One time they got a call from a neighbor, "Your goat is on my counter eating my bananas!" She just went through the neighbor's dog door. Oops. The only other thing is, the people who raised her taught their kids to pull her ears if she knocked them over. So she doesn't like her ears touched, and she isn't good around kids without supervision. (The lady said, "But, what I've found is that if one of your kids wants to go visit her, you can give them a spray bottle, and if she tries to stand up on them have them spray her and she will leave them alone.") Sunday is great.

"Claire" who had her first kids in December. If you let her hang out with her kid, the kid doesn't nurse much anymore, and she still gives 4 cups of milk each time you milk her. The funny thing about Claire is, she's a papered goat (fancy) and...she is from the same farm that Caroline came from! I thought that was funny. So there's this lady who lives up in northern Utah, and we've bought two of her goats...from other people! Supposedly she likes to keep track of her goats, though, so the lady I was buying from gave me the other lady's phone number, and I'm supposed to call her any time I have questions. She runs the 4H stuff up in her area, and she judges in goat shows, and so forth. Funny, eh? So, Claire is a really nice goat. She looks like Nubians are supposed to, but she is pretty skinny. She just never put weight back on after her pregnancy. A vet checked her out and she's okay, though. She just needs to keep eating good stuff and she will be fine to breed again later this year.

"Star" who was born in December. She is Claire's daughter. Claire was pregnant with Star when the people bought Claire, so we can register Star and she will be a papered goat too! Star is very friendly. She still follows her mom around a lot--when we put Claire into the crate in the back of the truck after I bought them all, Star followed Claire and wanted in too. When I go outside, Star forgets all about her mom and follows me instead. It's really cute. For a doeling, she has very good teats, so she looks like she will be a promising milker. She will be old enough to breed in December too.
[Star, Claire, and Sunday]

Anyway, it is exciting to finally have some good goats. Now we will have enough milk to drink, and enough milk for cheese and cream. Maybe even enough for butter. And milking will be pleasant, because these goats willingly come to the milk stand and they like to be milked.

Also, it turns out I like to milk them. I thought it would be fine, but it actually feels pretty fantastic. I get that same excitement that I felt when I picked up the meat from our cow. We're being self-sufficient! I am pretty good at milking, too. There's a little bit of a trick to it, but I got the hang of it right away.

So, I talked to the people today about our mama goat. I told her maybe we should just sell her; she isn't producing much, and she's not very good, etc. They suggested it could be because this is her first year. They said she will probably do better next year. They said maybe we should let the doeling be back with her mama, and milk the mama goat once a day (to make up for the buckling that we left behind), and then try again next year. J and I talked about it and we think she may be just really stressed, too, and that could be part of why she's having problems (with her attitude and her production).

SO, we reunited our herd. Now we have eight happy goats in one happy herd. Or, three happy herds, actually, since Feta and Caroline hang out together, the mama and doeling hang out together, and the three from today hang out together. (Bucko just goes around flirting with all the girls, and the cow likes everybody.) Now, we will sell Bucko (so that he doesn't get anybody pregnant next month when breeding season starts), and we may sell Feta (since who knows whether she will get pregnant or not, and we don't want goats with horns), and then later in the year we will probably get a good, papered buck, and produce a bunch of fancy, papered kids. In the meanwhile, I don't have to listen to goats complain, except when they complain because they want to be milked--NOW, please!

We are still waiting for Caroline to kid. She faked us out yesterday by moaning for hours, and rolling around, and scratching at the ground, and laying down and standing up and laying down and standing up, etc, but then in the evening she stopped the whole charade and started wondering why we were off in this area away from everyone else?? so this morning I released her from the special birthing area. Maybe she'll just stay pregnant. Hopefully not. (And, I don't think that happens.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Goat drama.

Yesterday we drove all the way down to Payson to pick up a couple more goats.

Our goat Caroline is about to kid (she IS pregnant after all!) so J has been trying to find another doe in milk so that we will be able to milk two goats instead of just Caroline. There's a little bit of a process to milking (cleaning supplies, etc) so milking two goats doesn't take much longer than milking one. And you get twice as much milk.

J finally found this place that had three Nubian does in milk. One had two kids, another had one kid, and the third one had a kid that had died. The one with two kids looked the most Nubian, so we bought her.

Our original idea was to separate the mamas from their babies at night, and milk the does in the morning, and then let the kids be with their mamas during the day instead of us milking at night. So everyone would get milk and we would all be happy. Right?


We were only going to need one kid for our plan to work, so we bought the mama with her doeling, and left her buckling with the original herd. (The babies are big enough that they can be separated from mama now; they were actually all listed for sale separately.) There was no reason for us to pay for a buck that we don't need or want. And, if we did buy him, pretty soon we would need to separate him from the herd anyway because he would start trying to breed his mother and his sister. We don't want to be inbreeding here.

So, we took everyone home and the mama goat hollered and hollered all day yesterday. She was missing her buckling. Oh, good grief. We separated Bucko from the herd, too, because we didn't want him to breed the mama goat, and he hollered and hollered all day too.

The other problem was, these people that we bought the goats from didn't actually milk their milk goats. They used to before, but they hadn't in a while because they're busy people. So their goats (except the older ones) were all afraid of people. Not the best.

Today we caught the mama goat and put her on the milk stand, not to milk her but just to let her realize that she can have GRAIN (!!!) on the milk stand. We didn't let her doeling follow her to the milkstand, and they both totally freaked out to be 15 feet apart. So, separating them every night is going to mean that they will holler and holler every night. It isn't going to work. We have neighbors.

Better that they just forget about each other and the mama goat becomes a milk goat instead of being with the doeling. (Like she is supposed to be.) And then, we can bottle feed the doeling until she is weaned the rest of the way, and then she will be friendly with people instead of terrified of them (like she and her mama are now). Milk goats are supposed to be friendly with people.

So, today we let Bucko back into the herd (breeding season doesn't start for a month anyway), and I caught the doeling (much harder than it sounds), I stole her away from her mama and the herd, and put her in Chalcy's backyard (which has a 6' fence). We put Feta in with her so that she isn't alone. Goats are herd animals, so they don't do well alone. Now everyone at our house is very concerned. Feta does NOT want to be over there with the doeling (and without her herd) so she keeps screaming. The doeling wants to be following her mama around so she keeps crying. The mama goat is very concerned about her lost babies so she keep calling to the doeling from the other side of the fence. Caroline should be kidding any time now, but she is not too worried about the new goat commotion because she was with Feta before, and now she is with Bucko, so, no big deal.

Hopefully everyone will calm down in a day or so. We will try to milk the mama goat tonight, and then we will try to bottle feed the doeling too. When Caroline kids we will put her kid(s) with the doeling, and then maybe Feta can go back to the rest of the herd and everyone will feel better.

Any suggestions for names? So far we've thought of Polly and Penny. Or, Betsey. Right now they are "the mama goat" and "the doeling". We need to come up with names.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Chalcy turned one year old on Cinco de Mayo! I realized, we brought her home a year ago on June 15th. A year ago today, I took this picture:

Now here's one of her with J, from a few days ago:

We like Chalcy. She's pretty good, except when people come over. We're working on that.

For Chalcy's first birthday, we bought her a Big Girl Bed, which she really likes. Periodically we've done trials to see how she will do if we leave her out of her kennel at night, and she has usually failed. Months ago she chewed a bare spot into our bedroom carpet when we tried to let her sleep in our room. A few weeks after that we tried to let her sleep in her room (aka. the guest bedroom) without closing her kennel, because it has fake-wood floor instead of carpet. She chewed the edge of trim around the window. So, even though she is kind of too big for her kennel, she kept having to sleep in it anyway. Lately, we've tried letting her sleep in her room on her Big Girl Bed and it works. She does just fine! So we tried letting her have access to the whole house at night. That works a little less well, because she will come stand outside our door, and just stay there. Her favorite place to sleep is on the floor by my side of the bed. When I get up, I have to watch out or I'll step on her. During the day she sleeps there a lot too.

Chalcy is almost always silent, which is nice, because I don't really care for barky dogs. She does alert us when she sees a strange object or hears an unusual noise. There have been a few times where she's started barking in the middle of the night. We always help her investigate, until she is satisfied that everything is okay. Otherwise she'll keep barking for quite a while. When she does bark, she is very loud. This last weekend, our city had "Country Days," which is the annual city festival thing here. As we were falling asleep, we could hear the country music from a few blocks away. That was fine. After that was all over they started doing fireworks. Fireworks make a loud "BOOM" sound, and it concerned Chalcy. She started barking and barking from her room. So, we brought her into our bedroom and opened the blinds, and showed her that the fireworks were the cause of the noise. She stopped barking right away, and we all sat there and watched the entire firework show from our bedroom window. Chalcy was fascinated.

Chalcy still knows tricks. She is still good at all of her puppy preschool stuff, usually. We've taught her a few other tricks too:
  1. J taught Chalcy "Back!" which means "You're too close, scoot back." Chalcy has a different concept of personal space, so it isn't unusual for her to come up and lean against us or put her face right up close to our faces while we're sitting down (because we're her height!), etc. "Back!" has been a fantastic trick because Chalcy gets so excited when people come over that sometimes she's a little too friendly. We tell guests they can tell her "Back!" and she'll scoot away, and they try it out, and it works, and it makes them feel a lot more comfortable to know she will leave them alone if they want her to. It is also a good way to remind her that she is not allowed to be near us when we're eating.
  2. For Jessica's birthday I taught Chalcy "Giddy up!" which means, "Come through my legs so that I'm standing over you like I'm riding a horse." Every time Jess would come over, she would always try to stand over Chalcy, because it kind of looks like you're riding a horse. Chalcy always backs up, though, instead of just standing there. So I taught her this trick because I thought it would be funny. And it is.
  3. Chalcy knows "Jump!" which means, "Jump!" This is pretty impressive and amusing, because she is massive and she'll jump up (not just forward) and get her back legs off the ground too.
  4. We taught Chalcy "Speak!" which means "Bark!" Since Chalcy is so quiet, it is my secret hope that if we wanted her to defend our house, I could motion to her to bark without the invaders noticing me, and then she would look fierce. Actually, though, an invasion would most likely be pretty unusual and it would be enough to get her barking anyway. Chalcy was surprised and a little confused when I taught her this trick, because we also taught her "Quiet!" because she used to bark if she wanted to come inside, or if she wanted to come out of her kennel because people were over. Now she just stands by the door when she wants in or out. So learning "Speak!" was kind of like teaching a kid to eat cupcakes on command, or something. (REALLY? You really want me to?)
Those are the extra ones (in addition to sit, wait, watch me, drop it, leave it, lay down, come, etc.) Most of them go along with hand signals, because she learns hand signals faster.

Chalcy also knows some "tricks" that are not really tricks.
  1. We discovered this one when my brother was over last week. If you pat your lap, Chalcy will come put her head in your lap, where you pat. That's how I usually tell her she can cuddle with me that way. I didn't realize it was a trick, though, until I was demonstrating to Jason how to get her to put her head in his lap and she came across the room to put her head in my lap instead, because I'd just pat my lap. It seemed impressive. Then the next time Jess came over she wanted to see that trick. Uh, she's always done that. It isn't a trick. But it kind of is.
  2. Chalcy is polite about being fed. It started because I didn't want her to rush me when I fed her, back when she was a puppy. Here's how it works: I fill her food dish, and put it where it goes. I tell Chalcy to sit, and she does. I tell her to wait. I go fill her water dish, and put it where it goes. Sometimes I'll make her "wait" a little longer, and then I tell her "Okay" and she'll go eat her food. It's a pretty strict routine now, so I don't even really have to tell her what to do. I bring food out, she sits down. I get water, she waits, and she'll only approach her food after I give her permission. It's nice.
  3. Chalcy goes into her kennel very readily. This isn't an exciting trick either, but it is useful. Our main command is "Kennel up!" and that means "Please get in your kennel, and if I don't look angry you are not in trouble and you will get treats for getting in your kennel" or it means "You are in big big trouble because you did something you knew was wrong, and the only way that I will be happy with you is if you go into your kennel, RIGHT NOW. No treats." She always kennels up, immediately. Very good. There are also a lot of other things that mean "Kennel up"--"Time for bed!" and "Back to bed!" and "Sorry!" all mean to kennel up. Plus, if I put my shoes on and pick up my purse, Chalcy will go get in her kennel, because she always has to be in there when I leave (and I'll give her treats).
Chalcy still loves Paley. When we go into the hall outside and Paley is there, Chalcy wag wag wags her tail and puts her mouth on Paley, or licks her. Paley rubs up against Chalcy, too. But, if I call Chalcy to come inside, or go outside, she'll still obey. So that's just fine.

Chalcy loves toys. Any toy we give her is the Very Best Thing she's EVER seen in her Entire Life (!!!!!). It's really cute. She tears stuffed toys apart really quickly though, even "durable" ones, so she doesn't get many of those anymore. Chalcy also loves tug games and fetch games and play-rough games, and basically any game you can think of. She also likes sticks and bones.

Chalcy loves people. All of them. She wants to be near us all the time. And preferably, very close. She is very affectionate. Also with our guests.

Chalcy likes dogs. Especially little ones because puppy preschool had puppies in it, and they were her friends, and I don't think she realizes they grew up too. Big dogs are more intimidating, but Chalcy is not aggressive at all; it just takes a little time for her to warm up. When dogs bark at her she looks at them, but she doesn't bark back. This makes me proud of her when we go on walks, or to the dog park.

Chalcy loves chickens. They squeak and have feathers that fluffle all over, they flop around really cool when you shake them in your mouth, and they run on their own--until they stop. We raised a few sets of chicks inside, and that helped Chalcy realize that we do NOT put our mouths on chickens. EVER. Except, when we're outside with her, occasionally she forgets and starts chasing a chicken until we remind her not to, so now she just doesn't get to be where chickens are unless she is under close supervision.

Our puppy is probably pretty close to full size now, and I'm looking forward to her rabies booster shot this summer (who looks forward to that??), because when we visit the vet we can find out how much she weighs. Can you imagine if she were to continue growing at the same rate next year too?? She won't.

Anyway! We like our dog. That's all.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Best Father's Day Ever!

A couple weeks ago I had a really excellent idea. What if I had my primary class (ages 8-9) decorate ties for their fathers? The kids would have a ton of fun decorating ties, the dads would receive a cool gift that they would treasure forever, and I would have the joy and amusement of watching several of the men in our congregation wear ties that my class designed. Win-win-win!

I checked to see if Father's Day was one of my weeks to teach (because I alternate with another teacher) and it was! So I ordered a bunch of white ties online, I bought some fabric markers, and got some cheap gift bags. Today all of my kids were there except one. We had a shorter than average lesson (about Jesus being The Good Shepherd, and what shepherds are, and why Jesus is like our shepherd, and why we should follow his voice because he will lead us) and then I announced our activity. The kids were so excited! I told them they don't get another tie if they mess up, so they each had to draw (on paper) a practice version of what they were going to do. I approved each design, and handed out ties, and let them start coloring.

We ended up with a wide variety of designs. (If the picture is too small, click on it so that you can see it bigger.)

From left to right:
1) Her dad's name spelled out as an acrostic: Excelent. Dad. Wonderful. Awesome. Ridiculous. Dude. There was space left over, so she repeated the whole thing. There was still space left over so she wrote YOUR THE BEST DAD EVER! (Looks great!)
2) Stars all over the top of it, and then she wrote The Best Dad in the world! Then she drew a random shape and colored it at the bottom. (He's going to love it!)
3) He wrote The Best Dad In The world and then drew a big BYU logo and a big Green Bay logo. The bottom of the tie has a whole bunch of BYU and Green Bay logos. (Wow, that looks really good!)
4) A bold zigzag-type pattern in blue, red, and purple. It looks pretty cool because the colors blend together just a little bit. (Nice!)
5) She drew a whole bunch of light green stripes, really close together. Her dad likes stripes, she said. In the middle the tie says Your the Best dad in the world. She kind of ran out of space a little for the end of "world" so it is on the next line. On hers the stripes cover the skinny part of the tie that tucks in back, too. (Good job!)
6) Another striped tie, with #1 Dad in the middle. Her dad likes green. She was kind of worried because the stripes were not all perfectly parallel. I told her it looks really good. It came out great. (Wow!)
7) She made a diamond pattern and then colored in all of the diamonds with the colors all mixed up. (She finished after I took the picture, while I was helping the other kids put theirs in gift bags.) On each of the diamonds she wrote a letter "D". Her dad's initials are C.R. "D" is for "Dad." (I bet your dad is going to really like that. It's so colorful!)

"You guys, your ties all look REALLY GOOD, so you should tell your dads to wear them." (One girl said, "Yeah, they can wear them next week!" "That's a great idea!")

So anyway, it was kind of silly, but I bet their dads will be really surprised. They'll have the perfect tie to wear for every future Father's Day, and hopefully some times in between.

Friday, June 10, 2011

California, again! (part 2)

On Monday we went to a park!

We had been planning to go to the beach again, but my sister Steph is in a walking cast right now and the beach wasn't going to be very fun for her. So instead, we went to a park near her house. Steph brought her boyfriend and their new pug puppy ("Pippi"), plus my brothers. My mom came (with melon! and games!), and eventually my dad showed up too.

It was a pretty cool park, especially for like, 5 year-old kids. It had lots of exiting play equipment, and a water park--all out in the open and free. There were also basketball courts (which my teenage brothers enjoyed) and covered picnic tables (which the grown-ups enjoyed).

The weather was absolutely perfect. J and I mostly just sat at the picnic tables, playing with the puppy and chatting with my sister. After Mom showed up, we played a few games of Rummikub. When my dad got there, he brought a bunch of little water guns and secretly handed them out to everyone. After that, there were little water fights going on, especially among all the boys. At one point, my dad went up to this 8 or 9 year-old kid who was also at the park, because he had a supersoaker, and Dad said he would give him 50 cents if he would soak my brother. That was pretty funny, because then my brother ran like crazy, and this kid we didn't know was chasing him.

After that, we went over to Steph and her boyfriend's house. We watched the second half of Dirty Dancing, because it was on TV and my mom loves that movie. I don't know that I'd ever watched anything in HD before. It was incredible! It made the movie look like something that was filmed on a regular camera or something. We ordered pizza, and just hung out for a while. J took a nap with the puppy.

That evening, J and I drove down to San Diego to find a hotel for the night, because we had an appointment with Garin to go across to Mexico at 9 am. We stayed at the Best Western Seven Seas, which seemed extremely fancy and modern compared to the Vegas Chalet Motel. The only thing was, the room was kind of small and crowded, and one of the main walls was entirely mirrored. Mirrors would normally make a room seem larger, but since it was reflecting VERY busy stripes on the drapes and a VERY busy pattern on the bedspread, the mirror made the room seem really overwhelming. It didn't matter too much, though, because we basically collapsed on the bed and slept until we absolutely had to get up, and left in a rush.

On Tuesday, we met Garin as planned. (Garin is always very punctual.) We went across the border. We met up with our driver, another one of Dr. Llamas' sons. (The other son, Andrew, who picked us up last time, is now in medical school!) He drove us straight to the clinic, which is in the same place it was last time. J and I met with Dr. Llamas together again, like last time. This time we talked with the doctor about the improvements that J has seen from his worms. Dr. Llamas asked a bunch of questions and took some notes. They were deciding between giving J 10 or 15 more worms. (Ultimately they decided to do 15 more.) Then he went through my interview responses and lab test results, and we talked about my medical history, but I don't really have much of a medical history. We went through the consent forms, and so forth.

Then, we went into the other room to get our worms! I got mine first. J made a video for me, and took some pictures. It took 3 minutes and 45 seconds for me to start feeling the worms. It was so itchy. I really wanted to scratch my arm, but you're not supposed to, so I didn't. I guess that was my main reaction--I was surprised by how itchy it felt when they were going through. (It was still itchy even a few days after I had gotten them.)

When J got his worms it took 4 minutes and 2 seconds for him to start feeling them. He said it felt just like it did last time. No big deal.

So, we waited for a little while, because they always have you do that just to be sure you don't have a bad response (but nobody ever does). And then, they checked the information on lines for going back across the border, and this time it was going to be faster to go across by foot. The doctor's son drove us to the line, and we waited for a little while and eventually got through the line, and we walked back to our cars.

We went out to lunch with Garin, because it was about lunchtime. J and Garin have some common interests, so we enjoy spending time with Garin. He is great for conversation.

After lunch, we drove back up to my grandparents' house. We were exhausted from the drive. I talked to my grandparents for a while again that evening. The caregiver let me feed my grandma her dinner.

Then, Wednesday morning I took some more pictures of my grandparents' house, so that I will be able to remember it. I will really miss going there. We met up with my dad to visit with him for 20 minutes or something. And then, we got in the car and drove up to Utah. (Oh, but we did stop at a Trader Joe's for French Truffles, just on our way out of town.)

The End.