Saturday, November 19, 2011

We sing the songs that remind us of the better times

What do you remember as the best times you had as a family?

Answering this could take all day. I love my family and we have LOADS of good times, and still have more to come. Road trips, games, moves, random craziness.

Two instances stand out to me though.

The first - mealtimes. Even when I'm home now as an adult - mealtimes are important family times, especially dinner. They are scheduled for times when the most people can attend and you are expected to be there if you can. If anything's more important than a weeknight dinner, it's a Sunday dinner. Breakfasts were often rushed, discussing events of the upcoming day or fighting over who got the pink bowl or cup (seriously, the pink one was the cool one). But dinners - dinners were where we had good talks. And silly talks. And talks that dissolved us all into uncontrollable laughter (you know it's good when Mom can't even stop). And dinners that kept us at the table for long after the food cooled off just because were enjoying each other's company. The food was always good, but it was the company that made it the best.
I spy two aunts, two uncles, two grandparents, one cousin, one mom,  and one cousin's kid. 

The second - anytime my whole family is in the temple is a best time. It is simply the most wonderful place for us to be together. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Said he was a cowboy when he was young

Do you remember your great-grandparents? What do you know about them?

Only my mom's mom's parents and dad's mom's mom were living when I was born. I met all of them - I definitely remember meeting Grandma and Grandpa Law and there is a picture of me with Gammie. Grandma and Grandpa Law died between when I was 18 months and 3 or 4 years old, I believe. I remember going over to Grandma's once and that she was sitting on the couch in the living room. I have vague memories of one of their funerals and being lifted over the casket to give them a kiss. Gammie died shortly after we visited her when I was about 9 months old.

I honestly don't know a lot about any of my great grandparents. I'll share what I can think of and then beg my grandparents and parents (who read this here blog) to either comment with more stories or email them to me. 

Paternal Great-grandparents 

Dad's Paternal Grandparents

I know nothing about Dad's paternal grandmother, except that he must have had one. His paternal grandfather, however, was one of the youngest of 17 children! These people weren't even Mormon! That side of the family is from Iowa - we even have a street named after our family in Des Moines. My grandpa was Edwin H., Junior, so great-grandpa must have been Edwin H., Senior.

Dad's Maternal Grandparents 

Dad's named for his maternal grandfather as Dad's first and middle names are his grandpa's middle and last names, respectively. His maternal grandmother is Gammie. They're from California. 

Maternal Great-grandparents

Mom's Paternal Grandparents 

Jesso Milo and Ella lived in Southern Utah. I don't remember what Grandpa did for work, but the town that family calls home is definitely a cowboy town. If I didn't miss anyone in the mental list I just made, they had 8 kids - 2 girls, 6 boys.

Mom's Maternal Grandparents 

Vernon and Winona lived in Northern Utah - Cache Valley. Grandma quilted and knitted. They had 7 children - a boy who died in infancy and six girls. They both wore glasses. One of Mom's favorite pictures from her wedding is one of her with Grandpa in front of the temple.

Wow. I clearly have some work to do and people to learn/remember more about!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You're my bad habit, baby

Do you have/have you had any bad habits?

Well now. This is a loaded question. This is my blog and I want to paint myself in the best light possible but I'll still try to answer this question honestly. 

I procrastinate. I yell things at stupid drivers. I don't always wash my face at night which means I go to bed with makeup on. I pop my knuckles. This may be gross but sometimes I chew on the inside of my mouth. When I was a kid this was blamed on a mild peanut allergy. I don't do it in nearly as often as I used to but I do have a scar on the inside of my mouth from one time when I chewed too hard. I don't even know the last time I made my bed. There are three empty toilet paper rolls in my bathroom because apparently I am too lazy to take them with me when I walk the 15 feet to my kitchen and the recycling bin. I don't mop my floors nearly as often as I should. Sometimes I bite my nails. In the past I have been known to hit snooze about 58,000 times before I finally get out of bed. I generally don't keep my house is clean as I would like to.

Your turn!

Hey look - I wrote about bad habits in 2007!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

If you drink, don't drive, do the Watermelon Crawl!

Who is your favorite singer?

Now? I seriously couldn't tell you. What and who I like to listen to changes all the time. But here's a sampling of who is on that list:

Brian Stokes Mitchell
Norbert Leo Butz
Matt Nathanson
My dad
My uncle
Nathan Pacheco
Tori Amos
Mary Fahl
Audra McDonald

As a kid? Tracy Byrd

Tracy Byrd is a country singer from my same town in Texas - Beaumont. We actually lived in the same apartment complex when my family moved there and he was an up and coming local singer, just starting to make it nationwide. I think we heard him for the first time at a March of Dimes WalkAmerica event.

One day, when I was probably nine or ten, my best friend Chantal and I had been tasked with throwing out some old magazines and a tree that had died. We got the magazines into the dumpster just fine, but as two little girls, we were having some trouble with the tree, since it was about the same height as we were. As we were pondering what to do, we spotted a man walking his dogs in the courtyard and decided to ask him for help. He agreed, as long as we'd watch his dogs.

While he was gone, I mentioned that he looked like Tracy Byrd. Chantal insisted that I ask when he got back. So I did.

Me: You look a lot like Tracy Byrd.

Tracy Byrd: That's because I am.

*fangirl SQUEE!*

We ran home and told everyone who would listen. Sisterpants insists that she was there. I honestly don't remember that, but it's possible.

When I was 12 or so, my mom and I went to his concert at the Beaumont Civic Center. The ticket was $15 and I'm pretty sure I had to earn that money myself. It was a great concert!

When I was 18, I was working lunch at Durango Grill in Orem, Utah, and, for some reason, recounting the story of the tree and Tracy Byrd to my coworker.

Coworker: You know he's playing in Kamas tonight, right?

Me: WHAT!?!?

And then I called my mother immediately. We canceled whatever plans we had that night and she dug out my old concert tee from his Watermelon Crawl concert tour (incidentally, not the one we saw, but it was cheaper than the current one when I was 12). Mom picked me up after my shift and we drove up to Kamas.

If possible, this concert was even better. There was a much smaller crowd (it was Kamas and past his heyday, after all), so I got to be right up next to the stage. (Mom was a little farther back, in a lawn chair.) He actually noticed my Watermelon Crawl tee and, from stage, asked me where I got it.

Me: Beaumont, Texas!

Tracy Byrd: What are you doing up here!?

Me: Dad's job moved us.

*fangirl SQUEE!!*

A little later, he was actually signing things, on stage, that people were handing him - beer cozies, napkins, tickets, whatever. I had nothing on me like that, so I became that girl that took off her shirt and handed it to the handsome country singer to sign.

*fangirl SQUEE!!*

Don't worry, I had a tank top on underneath.

It was one of the best nights of my life.

To this day, I still love him. I turned on my Tracy Byrd playlist to write this post, and, in one format or another, I think I own everything (or almost everything) he's ever produced.

This is one of his two biggest hits:


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Clean up, Clean up, everybody, everywhere

 Was there a chore you really hated doing as a child?

My parents would probably say "all of them". That was probably true at times. Eventually, however, I discovered how much I hate sweeping and mopping. I would clean toilets a thousand times over floors. This, for some reason, is still true. Vacuuming? No problem, so it wasn't all floors. I just don't like sweeping and mopping. It's gross and I never feel like it's clean enough.

At some point, we kids all figured out chores we preferred and I often traded vacuuming with someone else so they would sweep and mop. I've joked on Twitter before that I would trade with someone there who was complaining about doing a chore I didn't mind. I guess I wasn't really joking, because I totally would.

I really hope I marry someone who doesn't mind sweeping and mopping.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Heavenly Father's children kneel down to pray

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

Primary is the organization for the children of the church, ages 18 months through 11. Today's memories come from my own time in Primary.

1.    What teachers do you remember?
        The Ards, an older married couple, were my teachers the year I turned 8 and was baptized. As each child in the class was baptized, they gave them a basic CTR ring (CTR = Choose The Right). They made each of us feel so special and shared the love they had for Jesus Christ. 
2.    What were your classes called?
        Each class, divided by age, had some sort of name. For example, I remember the 11-year-olds were called Blazers (the boys) and Merrie Miss (the girls). I think the 9-year-olds were called Valiants? Either way, those names were changed when I was about ten. The younger kids were all CTRs and the older ones were all Valiants, like CTR-6 for the 6-year-olds.
3.    Recall a lesson.
        I honestly don't recall any specific lessons. I do remember enjoying Primary a lot, whether it was in the individual classes or in the group Sharing and Singing Times.
4.    Tell about giving a talk.
        My parents have a book on their shelves called Talks for Tots. I remember preparing at least one talk by referring to that book. I'm sure one of my parents would help me actually deliver the talk by whispering in my ear when I was younger, but I'm also sure that as I got older I insisted on doing it by myself, whether reading it or memorizing it. Probably memorizing.
5.    What were some of the activities that you did?
       I remember paper bag puppets. I remember at least a few children's parades. The Activity Days program, the young girl's equivalent to Cub Scouts, started when I was of that age (9-11), and I remember really enjoying those and filling out my little activity charts.
6.    What ward were you in?
        I don't know which ward I was in while we lived in Murray, Utah, but from age 6 on, we were in the Beaumont 1st Ward.
7.    Tell about your Daddy/child dates or some special primary activities.
        While usually not part of official Primary activities, Daddy-Daughter dates were very important. Daddy made it a goal to take each of his children out for something special, just the two of them, at least once a month. One date, we walked to the Black-Eyed Pea restaurant down the street from our apartment. It was around the time of my birthday, so he had the staff sing to me and I got a brownie for dessert. One couple saw the waiters singing to me and gave me 50 cents as they wished me a happy birthday and walked out after their meal.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Loyal, strong and true!

How do you feel about college football?

(Okay, that's not on the list I've been getting questions from.)

I've known the Brigham Young University fight song for as long as I can remember. When we kids were involved in sports, the family would change the words to be appropriate to our team name (e.g. And cheer our Heartbreakers and Amanda too). My parents met at BYU and I remember even in Texas going to friends' houses to watch BYU football games. Now that we're in Utah, the parents have season tickets and I had some with my freshman year boyfriend in fall 2002. Obviously, we're big BYU football fans at our house. So much so that when I was at Stadium of Fire for the Fourth of July in 2006 wrestling with the decision to move to DC, I got a little verklempt because if I moved, when would I ever be back in LaVell Edwards Stadium?

Apparently, the answer was 5 years and 4 months, because tonight I got to use my dad's ticket and go cheer my Cougars with my mom!

We beat the University of Idaho Vandals 42-7! It was so cold, but so great to be there!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone while Mom drives us home

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I do, cherish you

Sometimes creating family and personal history is more important than writing about it. Today is one of those days.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone at the end of a very wonderful day

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife

Sometimes, you have a groom's cake, but no forks.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone post-wedding reception

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Brothers and sisters and sisters and brothers

What were your siblings like back then, and how did you get along with them? 

As you know, I have two siblings - a brother and a sister. Growing up, we were in a pretty typical sibling relationship - loving each other, playing together, driving each other absolutely batty. 

Brotherface was a stereotypical middle child male - he did all the boy things - frying ants with magnifying glasses, playing sports, being gross. He managed to get into more than his fair share of trouble too, trying to get attention and be his own person instead of following in his goody two shoes older sister's footsteps.

Sisterpants, on the other hand, idolized me. Her favorite color was whatever my favorite color was. She always had to be around my friends and me and tag along with everything I did. Of course, this annoyed me to no end, but I couldn't stop her.

We were all pretty crazy, imaginative kids. Of course there were times we didn't get along, but I don't ever remember hating my siblings for any substantial amount of time. I certainly hope they feel the same way. I really couldn't ask for a better of pair of siblings.

This is a rather general summary, I realize, but I'd rather spend the rest of my evening helping Brotherface and Almost-Mrs. Brotherface assemble centerpieces!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Do you have a house on a hill and a bed for three?

What subject in school was always the easiest for you?

I don't remember any specifically easy classes. I was in Challenge/Pegasus/Honors/AP classes for all my core subjects, which certainly weren't easy. Electives could often have termed easy only in that we weren't challenged in the same way. My Video Production class would have been much harder if we weren't just reading out of a simple textbook and creating very short films. Had we been require to create works worth of Sundance, it would have been a different class altogether.

That said, I want to say that my easiest class was math. Stop laughing, Mom. I took all the way through AP Calculus AB, which is definitely not an easy class. In fact, I transferred out of BC for AB because BC was going too fast for me. However, the thing about math is that once I got it, it made sense. It was logical, objective, and I was really good at it. I actually got a 5 (the highest grade possible) on that AP test.

That's not to say I really enjoyed math and I obviously don't work as a mathematician or anything, but I was consistently good at it, which is more than I can say about the rest of my classes. (I was good, but maybe not as consistently.) Even now, I sometimes wish my homework was as easy as a set of math problems. There's something satisfying about logic problems with one right answer and one right way to get there.

Just don't expect me to remember how to do Calculus right away now. At least give me a few days to review.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone while waiting for my flight to board

You're having my baby

Where were you born and when?

I was born on May 25, 1984 at 10:16 AM Mountain Daylight Time in Provo, Utah, at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. My mom had just finished her Masters the month before, and Dad would graduate with his Bachelor's in August. I was definitely a BYU baby and their first.

Clearly, I don't remember anything about that experience, which is probably for the best. I do know that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, but I seem to have survived that okay. I actually learned that one day when I overheard my mom talking to another mom about it at baseball game of my brother's, which was a strange place to learn such a thing.

I also know I was born with jaundice. This being the day before those cool light contraptions, my parents were instructed to get me in the sunlight each day. At one point, my dad put me in the back runnerboard of the car and then left me there a little longer than he intended. I seem to have survived that too.

I was a pretty adorable baby, really. Check back here later and I'll try to post a picture to show you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I like to look for rainbows, whenever there is rain

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

This is the story of my baptism:

a.    How old were you?

I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was 8 years old.

b.    Where were your baptized?

I was baptized in the font at the chapel of my ward in Beaumont, Texas.

c.    Who baptized you?

My father baptized me.

d.    Who confirmed you?

My grandfather - my mother's father - confirmed me a member and gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost during the regular church services the next day, Sunday.

e.    How did you feel about becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

I was so excited! I had been preparing, reading a book about baptism and church membership and completing the accompanying workbook with my parents, as well as doing the usual things like attending my church meetings and classes and reading scriptures with my family. In fact, I was so excited that I was bouncing on my toes a little in the font.

f.     Who attended your baptism?

I remember my immediate family was there - parents and siblings. My maternal grandparents came all the way from Washington state to attend. As a birthday and baptism gift, they presented with my very first set of scriptures and a case. I'm sure my Primary teachers and other church friends came. My best friend, whose birthday is 18 days before mine, was baptized the same day, so her family was there too. Another boy our age was baptized with us too.

It was a wonderful day. My mother braided my hair sideways ending in a bun on the left side. I wore the same dress she'd been baptized in. She'd also made my confirmation dress - a lovely white dress with three pink roses on the waist in the back. 

I remember feeling so happy that day. I knew I'd made a good choice, and I still know.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

We are family!

Where does your last name come from?

My last name is Pilmer. It's a rather rare last name that comes from the Tweedside district of southern Scotland. There is evidence that it was once spelled Pillmuir and muir means moor in Scottish.

You may have figured out from my post yesterday that my maternal family name is Palmer. It does get a little confusing sometimes.

I love having a rare last name. It's surprising how often people can't seem to pronounce it (it's phonetic, I assure you), but you get used to it after awhile. I fully intend to keep it as a middle name when the time comes for a new last name.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone from bed because I was almost asleep before remembering I hadn't posted yet

Saturday, November 5, 2011

And I won't tell 'em your name

Were you named for anyone?

I was named for my great-aunt Ella Amanda Palmer. She was my mother's father's eldest sister.

Aunt Amanda was born in 1920 in southern Utah and grew up to serve an LDS mission, work various jobs (I think she even worked in a library for a while), and be one of the greatest examples of charity and service I've ever known. She never married or had children, but that's alright.

As the oldest child, my mom could have named me anything, but one day she felt that she should name me Amanda, before she even knew I was a girl, and that was the end of that. Sometimes I kind of wish my full name were Ella Amanda, but it's not and that's actually okay. I'm still honored to be Amanda at all.

While she was alive, she was called Aunt Amanda and I was Little Amanda. We had a special bond, and I'm so glad I got to know her before she died in 2000. In fact, because of our bond, I was asked to write her obituary and deliver her eulogy. It may have been a strange task for a 16-year-old, but it was the least I could do to honor her.

I'm not an Aunt Amanda yet, but I anticipate I will be one day. I just hope that I live up to the name!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone because it's late and I'm too tired to turn on my compy

Friday, November 4, 2011

Had I Known How To Save a Life

Has anyone ever saved your life? Describe.

Not in the traditional sense. None of my accidents, falls, illnesses, etc., have been truly life threatening. Maybe if you count my parents stopping the bleeding and diligently taking me to the doctor when I split my head open the first time. And the second time. We didn't have insurance the third time, but I survived anyway.

You could probably count the doctor who performed my reconstructive foot surgeries when I was thirteen. I would have lived without them, but not nearly had the same quality of life.

There's Krista, who introduced herself to me the first day of school at my new junior high in Utah, having recognized me from being in her ward (congregation) the Sunday before. I didn't know a soul but, thanks to Krista, went out with a whole new, fantastic group of friends to see The Truman Show at Movies 8 that Friday, and I'm still, more or less, in touch with these same friends today.

There's Cristina, who found out I was interested in theatre and invited me to join her at the SCERA Youth Theater after school program. Getting involved in that group opened up many doors, and I wouldn't have known about it if she didn't tell me.

There's Andrew, who suggested I talk to Myrna about getting a job in the music library. So I did, and I'm sure you figured out the rest.

There's Cheeky Monkey, who sent me the posting for the job I still have today that got me out of a bad spiral I was in while living in Utah and brought me to DC, where countless things and opportunities and people have blessed my life.

There's A$, who set me up with a more efficient workout plan I have yet to falter on. And Cabeza and Theater Greek and Eilonwy and Fran and my family and everyone else who has supported me on this particular journey. Being healthy now will certainly save my life later.

I could go on. No, one has ever saved my life in the CPR/rescue breathing sense, but there are definitely many people who have helped direct it towards a more fulfilling and rewarding path and improve the quality of my life which has undoubtedly saved my life in some way.

John Donne said "No man is an island." I certainly believe that, and I'm so thankful for the wonderful people who are part of my life and let me be part of theirs in return!
Clearly, three people on a hammock didn't work out so well.

P.S. I'm CPR/AED certified - so if I needed to save a life, I could!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?

Have you ever been the victim of a crime? What happened?

I did a Theatre Study Abroad in London, UK, during spring term 2004. That's 19-year-old me, overlooking the city from St. Paul's Cathedral. I'd been in the country all of a week and a half when my messenger bag was stolen from under my seat at a play at the the National Theatre. I hadn't wrapped the strap around my leg and the Standing Room Only section was immediately behind my seat. I was just asking to get robbed, really.

Of course, I was devastated. My bag contained my personal journal, theatre journal, camera, camera journal, someone else's copy of Peter Pan, wallet, and other ephemera. I went to the police, submitted a report, and figured that was the end of all of those things. I went about canceling my card, replacing what I could, and getting back to having a great time in this phenomenal city. One friend mailed me a new camera, I found a cute wallet with butterflies on Portabello Road, and my parents withdrew money from my account and placed it in that of a friend who was in London with me via his parents, so I wasn't borrowing money from anyone, just getting it differently. My new debit card came via another friend who visited me in London for my birthday on his way to Finland. My parents knew him, and it was safer than mailing a card internationally.

It was an inconvenience, to be sure, but it really didn't damper my spirits after a day or so. I committed to watching my things better, mourned the loss of my journals, and carried on.

The big surprise was that my bag was found not very long after the theft, by some trashcan behind a building, if I recall correctly. The really big surprise was that my journals were still there! Of course the thieves had taken the wallet, book, and other stuff I didn't care about the same way, but I had my journals and that's all I cared about!

Despite all this, London is still my favorite city in all the world (thus far), and I'd go back in a heartbeat. I've just learned to keep a closer eye on my things!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who are you? Who? Who?

I can't believe that when I woke up this morning, it was November. Actually, it was November when I went to bed too, but that's not the point.

The point is that it's time, once again, for NaBloPoMo!

Now you may be saying: Amanda, you've barely posted twice a month or so for the last few months. And what about school? Don't you have finals coming up? How do expect to be able to write EVERYDAY for the next 30 days?

Trust me, I'm saying the same thing. Truthfully? I don't honestly know. But it's tradition, and I'm going to give it my all!

The theme Eilonwy and I have decided on this month is personal history. We have several prompts lined up, which should give me some direction even in the midst of potential brain frying. I'll answer those starting tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's my Halloween costume from this year!

I dressed as Marilyn Monroe for a party with the theme of celebrities who died too soon. For Halloween proper, I went to class dressed as a Goth, pulling out the black clothes, black lipstick, and purple wig. I even wore a black fishnet shirt under my cap sleeves. Good times all around!

So, my fellow blogging addicts, who else is in for NaBloPoMo 2011?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone while walking to school and somehow managing not to trip or run into a tree.