Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kindness everlasting

OK, friends: being kind is harder than you might think! Not that there aren't opportunities, it just gets incredibly awkward trying to rate the things that you do on a "kindness scale", in order to blog about it later. I've been putting off this post, because I just feel silly listing the things I've done to be kind. So bear with me while I blow my own trumpet for a bit!

On Monday, as mentioned, I walked my neighbour's dog.
On Tuesday I gave my very pregnant Visiting Teachee some knitted bootees for her soon-to-be-born son.
I spent Wednesday on campus, studying for and taking a test. Turns out that this is not the best frame of mind for being kind! I did make some efforts to hold the door for people, let them go ahead of me in line (one of my own favourite kindnesses to receive!) and just generally be a bit more friendly to the people around me. Instead I ended up getting annoyed with the testing center people for not doing their job to my satisfaction, or with people for crowding into the elevator when I was trying to get off, and other dumb little things like that. Not a very angelic day for me!
On Thursday it became apparent that everyone else was a lot kinder to me than I was to them! One friend took me to class, another invited us over for dinner. Nick gave up copious amounts of time to help me study for a class
On Friday I made one of Nick's favourite dinners, even though it meant a 40 minute roundtrip, on foot jaunt to the grocery store - and an old lady with a full shopping cart let me go in front of her in line.

By the weekend, i had drawn the conclusion that being kind is hard. You're not always going to be in the mood for it, you're going to see opportunities and not take them, sometimes people will think you're weird and creepy for being nice to them (Hey kid, want some candy?). However, (cue nice moral to wrap everything up) it is so worth it when it works! When I let the guy behind me in line for some on-campus edibles cut in front of me, I saw the exact same warm fuzzies in him that the little old lady at Albertson's gave me when she let me cut in line. I made a little dog very happy by letting him bark at the ducks by the pond (let's not consider the ducks, shall we?), and just maybe taking half a second to thank the driver before hopping off the bus actually might brighten his day the tiniest bit? I feel like there is enough negativity in the world as it is, so perhaps if we add enough small kindnesses, we can be a collective counterbalance for good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Be kind

I am currently working on a monster post about the planning and execution (in a good way!!!) of Nick's birthday party, which I hope to finish pretty soon. I do, however, have a paper and two midterms this week, so bear with me.

In the meantime, this week's focus is Kindness Week. I'm going to try to do at least one kind thing for someone else every day this week. So far (yesterday) I walked my neighbour's dog while she was at school. However, seeing as this is something I probably would have done anyway, I redirected my kindness to the puppy himself, and took the long way home. Which felt like a genuinely altruistic thing to do, because he's not going to tell anyone, so no glory for me. Then again, I just told you, so my ego gets fed anyway. Oh dear.

I"m going to see if I can find some opportunities for kindness when I'm on campus today. While you're waiting for the thrilling update, please leave a comment and tell me about something kind that someone has done for you, or something that you have done for someone else. That way I can steal your stories and do them myself. :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

This week...

...didn't really happen. There was the aftermath of Nick's birthday to deal with, the lovely Annika came to visit from Norway, and we had a little midweek drama/sadness (which I won't be writing about) thrown in with the usual work, school, church and HOA meetings. OK, so I guess this week really did happen, just not in the way I had planned in terms of my blogging adventures. We just had a lot more week than I had planned for! I have, however, planned a few more weekly activities (see the ever-growing list on the right) that I can just grab on weeks like this one and go with, so I'm hoping there won't be too many more weeks like this one.

Now, let me catch up on last week and give you the run-down of Nick's 30th birthday extravaganza so you can see what all of last week's planning went into. Let me preface this by saying that it is my firm belief that birthdays should be celebrated, and celebrated properly, round number birthdays even more so. I give to you: The Birthday Weekend.

To commemorate Nick's last day of work in his 20s, I got up early and cooked him a yummy breakfast of eggs, bacon and English muffins. I then scooched him off to work, and attacked the house with the rage and voracity of 1000 angry kittens. I cleaned, I wrapped gifts, I did homework and laundry and I pulled a muscle in my neck so badly I couldn't turn my head. Pausing only briefly to take some pain killers, slather on the Icy Hot and crawl into bed to lie flat on my back for an hour, I powered through the day leaving a trail of neatness and order in my wake. I also inaugerated the new North Family Tradition of getting clean sheets and towels on your birthday. Which is high on my list of Favourite Things, and is therefore a keeper. Then I gingerly got myself all gussied up for a Hot Birthday Date with the lovely birthday boy.

When Nick got home from work, we went out to dinner at the Bombay House and had a lovely, splurgy dinner of vegetable samosas, Rogan Josh, Peshwari naan and strawberry and mango lassis, respectively. We love us some Indian food, and the waiters were all super nice and remembered us even though we haven't been there for months. I love that about the Bombay House.

After dinner (when we had regained the ability to walk, talk and breathe again from all the foodiness), we drove over to BYU to see a play. We had a few minutes to spare, so we wandered through the late Modernism exhibit, which had some pretty cool pieces. There was also a medieval music group playing in the museum, which added some pretty interesting contrast to the art pieces we were looking at. Then we scurried across to the Pardoe theater to watch Dial M for Murder. Barring some fairly atrocious fake English accents, it was very well done, and perfect October/Halloween viewing. Then we stopped by Maestro's, a gelateria on Center Street, to grab some dessert before heading home, and pretty promptly falling asleep.

We slept in until about 9:30-ish, when I could wait no longer and had to scurry off to my secret birthday stash and get Nick's Big Present: a Nintendo Wii. Let me tell you, finding, buying, hiding and keeping quiet about that thing is probably one of the toughest things I've done in a while. It's hard to keep your mouth shut around someone you tell everything too, especially when it's something you know that you would both be excited about. There were so many times in the 3 weeks that it has been hiding under the bed in our guest room that I wanted to tell him, but the pay off when he opened it up was SO worth every moment of it. Fantastic. Then I cooked another breakfast of champions while Nick got the Wii set up. He was even in his jammies, so it was totally like he was a little kid at Christmas :) Happy happy.
After that we headed off to the store to do some pre-party shopping. Just before we left, we noticed that the power went out, but didn't really think too much of it because we were planning to be gone for a couple of hours, and it would surely be back on again by the time we got back. Wrong. Two hours (and 5 stores later) we came home and were going to start food prep right away, only to discover that the power was still out. So I freaked out and panicked a little bit, then proceeded to continue cleaning the house. An hour or so later, it came back on again, and I freaked out and panicked some more about how much food there was to make in not enough time. In the interest of this not being absolutely the longest post ever, I will fast forward to the actual party.
The menu consisted of:
-The ever-famous Zucchini cakes (minus the mushrooms) and roasted red pepper sauce. They disappeared so fast that I only had two! We made a triple recipe, so had about 36 of them for the party.
- Pain Chocolat. We had them in Paris, and liked them so much that we figured out how to make them here.
-Trifle. The only semi-disaster of the evening. Due to the power cut (and some poor direction reading on my part), the Danish dessert didn't have time to set all the way, so it was more liquid than I wanted it to be. Sad! Still, it all got mostly eaten up.
- The all essential vegetable platter, which I'm very glad we decided to repeat, seeing as we had some vegetarians, and some people who couldn't eat wheat or dairy. It's kind of a boring party staple, but always gets eaten up, so I'm keeping it on my party food menu.
- Strawberry lemonade with strawberries and lemon slices.
All in all, the party went well. The first guests were here at 6:30, the last ones left around 10:30 (not counting Annika who stayed for another month!), I think we had about 30 guests in all, which seemed appropriate for a 30th birthday party. Nick scored big time on the birthday presents (Thank you, generous friends!), most of the food got eaten up, and an all round good time was had. Annika, Nick and I rounded off the evening with some pretty intense Wii-playing.

The actual for realz birthday! It started out pretty uneventful, seeing as it was a Sunday and we had church at 9 AM, but we cam home afterwards and had tasty lunch, birthday naps and presents. Once again, Nick did really well, and got lots of British television, a shirt (that was magically transformed into a pair of pants a few days later), opera tickets, a book and the quintessential birthday money (later transformed into more British television). The families called, we played more Wii (do you sense a recurring theme here?), and then headed up to the canyons for a combined birthday drive, walk and photo shoot. It is a recent North family tradition that everyone gets an official birthday portrait

I would like to point out that there was only walking, not hiking involved. It was a Sunday, after all. Then we went home and had Cornish pasties for dinner, at the behest of the Birthday Boy himself. The evening ended with the watching of the birthday movies, and possibly, more Wii playing.

And so Nick is 30.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Party planning

This week has been mostly devoted to planning Nick's 30th birthday party this weekend. I am currently in the final throes of planning the menu and the accompanying shopping, and finalizing the guest list - the rest of the RSVPs should be in today or tomorrow. I still need to clean the house (prep the venue, if you will) and figure out where to put 25 of our closest friends. I love me a good party, so it's all fun and exciting, but the more of the prep work I can get out of the way now, the less Nick has to do on his birthday weekend. I can't tell you too much of the schedule (because that might ruin the surprise!), but suffice it to say that three days of celebration has been lined up for Nick's Big Birthday. I'll give you an update when it's all over :)

Image found here

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quick Update

This week has seen two midterms and a paper (ah, the joys of being back in school!) and not much else. I'm struggling a bit with finding time to do the things I've planned for my weekly projects, so should probably try something less ambitious. I'll let you know when I think of what that can be!
I've been fretting all week about not having time for a project, and then I realized that I'll be sitting on my couch for 8 hours over the course of the weekend, watching General Conference, which ought to give me time for something, right? So I decided to knit some baby booties/socks to donate to LDS Humanitarian Services. I have no idea how many I can finish in 8 hours, but I'm hoping at least one or two pairs.
Also, I realize there has been a lot of knitting lately, but it something I like to do (as evidenced by the list on the right), and can quite easily incorporate a knitting project into my week. So hopefully it's not too boring to read, and if it is, I promise I'll do something more fun next week.