i donated plasma today, like a poor person

So a couple of weeks ago I got this FANTASTIC idea that I wanted to buy a ton of new clothes. Reason 1: All my old clothes are ugly. Reason 2: Given a recent drop in lb's, lots of them are getting baggy. Baggy=frumpy. 3: I just want new clothes.
Now, such a grand notion is a little harder to actually make happen when you just have had a "budget meeting" with your husband that lasted almost an hour. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally glad we did it (and so is our bank account). It also means I can't spend as frivolously as I apparently was. BOO. In the budget we gave ourselves a monthly allowance to spend on ourselves or whatever we wanted, no questions asked (well, depending on what shows up on the bank statements, questions may be asked, but you get the idea). I decided to beef up that allowance, I would do what many a poor college student do- DONATE PLASMA! 

To a full time teacher and mom, this sounded WONDERFUL. You mean I just sit there, uninterrupted and get PAID for it?! Sign me up! 
So Wednesday, I head over to the plasma place and get in line. Literally. I was there for almost 2 1/2 hours and I hadn't even started donating yet (orientations, physicals, blah blah blah). So I opted to come back another day to finish- which was today. 
So starting up wasn't bad. Needles don't bother me at all. When your Dad is an ER doc and you've grown up hearing the nastiest stories quite possibly to have ever existed in a hospital, needles are like pffttt...THAT tiny silver thing? I've watched my Dad stitch up my hand at home on the kitchen counter, while eating a bowl of cereal with the other hand. No biggie. 

Also, after you have a baby I'm convinced you can do anything, any time, any place and hardly be phased. I AM WOMAN; HEAR ME ROAR!

So yeah, plasma? We got this.

As soon as the machine started pumping away and the little tube filled up with blood, DRAIN went the blood from my face. Crap. I supposed that was normal. But about 10-15 minutes into it, I was feeling pretty rough. So I called a girl over and asked her if it was normal to feel really sleepy. She said yeah, a little. Then I started thinking, man, if you were to die by bleeding out, that wouldn't be so bad- you just go to sleep! Then I realized...wait...that's how I feel...CRAP! Within a minute I got super nauseated. I was moments away from leaning over my blood-drained arm to spew all over the ugly linoleum floor. So one girl started to fan my face, they propped up my legs and gave me some water. That was embarrassing. I was surrounded by college guys who probably go in twice a week and are in and outta there in half an hour. But there I was, not knowing if I would throw up and then pass out, or pass out then throw up- hoping it wasn't the later, for fear of not recovering from such events in that order.

In a few minutes I was feeling better, so I decided to try to tough it out to the end. I've pushed a HUMAN BEING out of a 10 CM HOLE. THIS IS NOTHING, WHITNEY! Fortunately, the rest of the session wasn't bad, but I was ready to get my cash and get outta there. 

The only thing that made it less embarrassing was when a girl came in next to me and they had to stick her like 3 times to get a good vein, and she was almost to the point of tears and decided not to even do it. 

Whew. So I can't say yet if this will be a regular thing for me or not, I guess we'll see how desperate I get for super cute boots this fall. 

Time to go shopping.


a vegetable dilemma.

So because I spend so much time on the computer for work, by the time I get around to blogging or facebook or pinterest my eyes try to run to the back of my skull sulking, "No more computer screens!" But since work is always a little slower by the end of the week, I have a little time to do so (and cooperation from the visual department).

I need to go grocery shopping. I HATE GROCERY SHOPPING. It's such a chore. You put the food in your cart, take it out and put it on the belt thing, back in your cart, in the car, out of the car, and finally into your cupboards. BLEGH. But since we're down to lettuce and cereal, it is time. 

I scrounged up a muffin recipe last night with some ingredients I had on hand. They actually turned out super delicious. It's a "toddler muffin" recipe I found on pinterest. I don't know why they're called toddler muffins, because normal sized people will definitely find them scrumptious as well. But I guess we'll go with "toddler muffins." 

I especially liked this recipe because of the nutrition factor. Jillian eats a ton of food lately. Everything BUT vegetables. JUST EAT YOUR FRIGGIN' PEAS KID! 

I figured these would be a good compromise. The original recipe is from allrecipes.com, but I tweaked it some to include more fruits/veggies. Behold:


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, or to taste
  •  1 large banana, mashed
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) jar baby food squash
  • 3 baby carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 24 mini muffin cups or 12 standard muffin cups.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the mashed banana, squash, pumpkin, carrots, and eggs. Stir in the flours, oat bran, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until just combined. Spoon the batter equally into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Store at room temperature for up to two days, or freeze.
    *To make these even healthier, substitute half the butter with applesauce or greek yogurt, and/or the two whole eggs with three egg whites. 

    Happy muffin makin'. Your properly nourished toddler can thank me later.


zombie walker

I've been meaning to write about this FO-EV-AH. Jillian walks! Like all the time!  It is one of the cutest things I've seen. Her feet are too far apart and she hardly bends her knees, but she gets it done.
It really is like a zombie walk because to balance herself, she sticks her arms out in sort of a hail-to-Hitler position. She's like a walking baby zombie. But her smiling, proud little face puts her far from actual walking baby zombie. 
This has made my life SO much easier. Before she would want to walk all over, but only if she was holding on to one of your fingers. This resulted in hours of walking around the living room hunched over with your index finger being deathly gripped for sweet life itself. 
See her in action! We are proud parents these days.

Also, this one, because it's awesome: 

flashbacks, cancer & nostalgia


I love remembering things I've forgotten about. That might sound weird, but it's like watching an entire movie in your head. I was thinking about college yesterday. The glory days. I went to three different colleges, two colleges back in FL & got my AA, then transferred to BYU to finish up. A lot of memories are really fuzzy (turns out I have a really bad long term memory). I was going to type out some of my favorite memories, but pictures are worth a thousand words, right? 

Basically I wouldn't trade that time in my life for ANYTHING. Loved every minute of it.

cancer & nostalgia.

You know how facebook will like show you a random status update of someone you haven't seen a post from in forever? That happened. A girl from college (hence the previous flashbacks) popped up on my news feed. It caught my eye because someone posted on her wall that they were praying for her and knew she could fight it. ...fight what? People only "fight" a number of things. I started looking more on her page, and along with countless words of encouragement I found a link to this website that her brother posted on her wall:

Cancer. Janae has cancer. Janae and I went to BYU together. We were in the El Ed program and in the same cohort (a group of about 30 girls that you take all the same classes with). We all knew each other pretty well, since we sat through all of the same classes day after day.

We wondered things like, "Can Sis. Neff spread her fingers any FARTHER apart when she talks?" "I'm pretty sure our science teacher is where they got the idea for Miss Frizzle." "Joe...why is Joe so weird?" "If I have to learn ONE more court case about Special Ed..."

In reading Janae's story, I learned she went to the doctor for what she thought was a sinus infection, only to learn after a CT scan she had a malignant tumor. She had the tumor removed and is going through chemo and radiation. 
Wow. This is one of those moment's that made life snap back to reality. I thought, "That is so unfair. She is way too young and talented for this to happen to her." That made me realize anything can happen to anyone with no prior warning. She typed this on her website:

"I've been promised a long, healthy life as long as I do nothing to jeopardize that. I don't think I have, so I will keep having faith that whatever I'm going through is for a purpose....perhaps to teach me more empathy. For longer or shorter, though, I don't think I will be dealing with this forever."

What incredible faith and strength. I can't imagine what she has had to accept and deal with in such a short period of time, and I also can't imagine that I would handle the situation as well as she appears to be.  

So when you have a minute today, send up a prayer in behalf of Janae. I know she would appreciate you doing so.


you give me fever

Living with a sick baby is the pits. Currently there are Cheerios smashed up on the floor, animal crackers ground into the couch, a hodge-podge of toys are strewn across the living room floor, and sticky strawberry juice covers half of the counter top. We're in survival mode people.
Poor girl has had a high fever since Monday. It's been a couple long days and even longer nights. The only up side to this situation is she definitely doesn't mind just cuddling on the couch and helping me catch up on So You Think You Can Dance. (She especially loves any hip hip numbers). She also wants to wear socks all the time, which is not usual for her. Or, "sahs" as she calls them.

Tomorrow's forecast: lots of Motrin, apple juice, and hugs. 

bath with friends

Me: Did you ever take baths with your friends or cousins or siblings when you were little?
James: Uh, what?
Me: You know, just for fun!
James: .....
I guess he doesn't get it. Anyway. Jillian took her first "friend bath" with Brynlee the other night. She calls her "Breen". They both loved it! Apparently James missed out when he was a kid.
 Also, almost every time I give Jillian a bath we sing "Splish-splash I was takin' a bath". She's gotten to the point where she'll say a few of the words before I even get to that part. It's the cutest.

adios alberto

Last night my cousin Albert (Albie, as I call him) flew into Utah. Tomorrow he goes into the MTC (Missionary Training Center) where he will stay for a few weeks and learn how to be an awesome bike ridin', door knockin', missionary for our church. Then he's off to...
I think this will be hilarious because Guatemalans are a short, brown people. Short, short. Albert is a massive human being. I'm looking forward to pictures. 
Anyway. A massive storm of college kids paraded to our house last night for a farewell dinner. It was good times. This post is mostly for his Mama so she can see he is doing well and is happy and will be a kick-butt missionary! 
 (Playing some weird Spanish game Adam taught us. Totally fun though.)

 Good luck Albie! You'll do great!
Want to see what LDS missionaries do and why they do it? Click here


a roadtrip

We'll see if I can make it through this post. My nails are longer than normal and are clinking weird against the keys, so instead of getting up to trim them, I'll just complain about it and keep typing. 

Moving on. 

Labor day weekend! Definitely was laborious. I was hoping to get a few craft projects done (as I told James, I was definitely feeling the urge, like I HAD to do it..probably a good thing I'm not into drugs..for many reasons..), but instead I drew the short straw on driving to meet my parents in the middle of the country to essentially swap cars. 

This has happened several times in my family, where we buy/sell/trade cars with one another. It happens. We bought my mom's car and they took back my Highlander. Mom car upgrade for yours truly. 

James was NOT looking forward to the drive with me (I can be a complainer sometimes), so I made an EXTRA effort not to be annoying. I think I was mostly successful. 

Friday afternoon I packed up the cooler with lots of snacks and goodies and off we went. (Thanks Mich for watching Jillian all weekend! I literally would have died if would have taken her with us!) We decided to stop in Rawlins, Wyoming for the night- we're not good through-the-night drivers. Want to visit a po-dunk town? Go there. Holy crap. I thought I was from such a town...nope. The good toothless people from Rawlins, WY are from po-dunk town. Much to our surprise, the only hotel with vacancies was America's Best Value Hotel. 
It didn't even have soap. Like, NO SOAP. Not to wash your hands, hair, body...nothing! It was more of a glorified truck stop I think. The "king" size bed was sunken in, the pillows were so hard it felt like they were stuffed with dead racoons, and parts of the floor were stained and left vacuumed. Come to think of it, I should probably get a tetanus shot just to be safe. It DID come with free breakfast, but I was not so willing to put my guts under that much risk. After all, there was NO SOAP in this hotel. 

The next morning we drove like 13 hours to get to Kansas City, Missouri where we met my mom and brother and a nicer hotel (with soap). We essentially slept there, ate breakfast, and drove back the same way we came. 

What a whir of a weekend. The driving part wasn't *that* bad. The only crappy part was the last 2-3 hours when I got super car sick. I guess I should be glad it only happened the last part of the trip. All in all, I'm way happy to have the new car.

I'm also happy to say with 100% confidence that the Houlins will never live in Wyoming, Nebraska, or Kansas. (We kept saying, "How can someone actually live here?! There is like literally nothing for 90 miles...they could DIE and no one would know for weeks!")