Wednesday, December 22, 2010

4 Years

Today is our 4-year anniversary.


Isaac and I often talk about how neither of us felt there were any big "surprises" when we got married, despite our VERY short courtship--our transition to married life was pleasant and smooth. But now that we've hit four years, I am pleasantly surprised about a few things:

1) We still love to hold hands, cuddle, smooch, and say "I love you"

2) Isaac is, if anything, handsomer than the day we got married

3) I still get excited when Isaac comes home at night

4) Isaac has never yet raised his voice at me

How did I get so blessed? I love you Isaac!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Anthropomorphism at the Hess Home

I'd like to introduce you to some of the lesser-known members of our family.





Horace (Isaac's)


Waldo (Camber's). He used to have pupils...






And Wilbur, Camber's deaf ear.

Turns out it's hard to take a picture of one's own ear.

And, to be helpful, the definition of anthropomorphism, in case you're too embarrassed to ask:

Anthropomorphism: Any attribution of human characteristics  to animals or non-living things, phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. --Wikipedia


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My poor, confused body

I worked too many night shifts in a row last weekend.

Some of you scientific types may wonder, "What does that do to a person?"

I can tell you what it does to a Camber.

10:30 PM: Go to bed at the same time as Isaac. Oh boy!

10:30-2: Sleep happily.

2 AM: Isaac wakes me up by hitting my face while turning over (no hard feelings, dear). My stomach starts growling.

2:30 AM: I am still WIDE awake, and my stomach is STILL growling. Really?

My stomach thinks it's dinnertime.

2:35 AM: I grudgingly crawl out of bed and yes, eat dinner.

3:00 AM: Still wide awake. And reading every blog in creation.

5:45 AM: My body is finally ready to think about going back to sleep.

6:30 AM: My body actually gets around to going back to sleep.

11:20 AM: I wake up almost 13 hours after going to bed.

Please, think twice before deciding to have chest pain at midnight. Think about your nurses.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What do nurses do when they get sick?

They wish for cloning to be real.

2 Reasons:

1) I'm pretty sure that I would be my own favorite patient. I can get myself to the bathroom, I can self-entertain with a DVD player and a good selection of Disney cartoons, I don't require a bed bath, and I would never, ever let my relatives call and ask incessant questions of the nurse when she's trying to take care of other sick people. Also, I already like myself, so I think that's a big plus.

2) I'm pretty sure that I would be my own favorite nurse. I'd bring enough morphine and phenergan to guarantee 8 hours of solid sleep without pain or nausea, and I'd tuck myself in and say, "Hey, Camber, you're an awesome person and I'm sure you'll pull through this." And then I'd take care of the kitchen and cook Isaac dinner and scrub the toilets to boot.

As it was, my patient and nurse selves had to coexist in one body, and the patient won out. So I spent the afternoon on the couch, emerging only to crawl on hands and knees to the DVD player to change the movie. And my nurse self never got around to cleaning the kitchen or making dinner. Oh, and she also forgot the Morphine. I feel jipped.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween is for kids...mostly

Isaac and I are both past our mid-twenties. We both have college degrees. We pay bills and are responsible people.

But we still voluntarily regress in maturity every year at about the same time:


Take our pumpkin-carving: Still elementary. Our pumpkins have not progressed in sophistication since about third grade:

Our costumes: Lacking grown-up refinement but very fun.

And our awesome neighbors, the monkeys:

They spent $2 on the adult monkey suits. Jershon and Shelly, if we ever grow up, we want to be as frugal as you are.

And last but definitely not least, Isaac and his teenage haircut:

Sorry ladies. He's taken.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bittersweet Fall

I have a good feeling about fall in Iowa. I have never lived in a place where trees spring up at will, without coaxing and coddling and irrigation. And the trees are not only dense but also deciduous. That means every one of them is destined to go down to their ugly winter slumber in a fabulous blaze of color.

And how can I help but love fall? I can't resist crunching leaves under my feet, feeling a tiny nip in the air, getting excited for Halloween even though I don't have any kids to bum candy from, eating pumpkin cookies, drinking hot chocolate, and knowing that Christmas is getting soooooo close.


But I can't enjoy it. Not fully. Every beauty and pleasure of the fall is tainted with the bitter flavor of winter's imminent arrival. And I have a BIG problemo with winter. To me, aside from the glories of cross-country skiing, and the magical white Christmas, winter is 4 months of endless, shivering misery.

So, welcome fall! You're beautiful. But if you ever catch me weeping as I take in your beauties, they are not tears of joy or wonder.

They are tears of dread.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ahhh, family

Our home has been christened with its first real house-guests: Ryan and Janae.



-Went to a lake

-Ate Indian food and learned an important lesson: "Mild" for Indians means "medium-hot" for Americans...and too hot for Janae (sorry Janae!)

-Made homemade raspberry ice cream

-Watched Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Thirteen (Camber's not sure what happens in Ocean's Twelve, but skipping it didn't make Ocean's Thirteen confusing)

-Ate the following crazy pizza flavors at Mesa Pizza: chicken enchilada, Philly cheese steak, barbecue chicken with french fries, and chicken penne pasta, among others.

-Went to church

-Talked a lot

-Slept in (well, Ryan and Janae slept in. Camber thought it sounded nice)

-Played Jenga and made it to 36 rows

-And went to Nauvoo! Here's Ryan and Janae in front of the beautiful Nauvoo temple (they look little).

And here's Isaac in the blacksmith shop

The famous walk down Parley Street

And the Mississippi River at the end of Parley Street. It's very, very big.

Camber was there too, but she was on the wrong side of the camera.

Sight-seeing seems like something to do on vacation, not when you live somewhere, so it was wonderful to have Ryan and Janae there to give us an excuse to be tourists ourselves. Further, it was just nice to have Ryan and Janae around for their own sake, because they are very fun people.

And when they left, they took a little of home back with them.

We miss you, family!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Smart Life Lesson from Camber

Never put something plastic on top of the oven when it's cooking something. Even if all the stove burners are off.

It turns out that it still gets hot up there.

The carnage:

Farewell, salad spinner. Those two weeks we had together were bliss. Thanks for being replaceable.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


When we decided to move to Iowa, I decided to look at a map to figure out where, exactly, Iowa is. My reaction: "Iowa's there?"

Turns out, I am not alone in my poor grasp of mid-western geography. Even the week before we left, close friends and family members were still asking, "So you're moving to...Ohio?" Because in the narrow-minded Western mentality (of which I am a part), Iowa and Ohio are essentially the same place.

One of Isaac's good friends, who is from Ohio, experienced the same problem when he moved to Utah. They thought he was from Iowa. And so the great state of Ohiowa was born. Can't remember which state we really live in? Just call it Ohiowa and cover all your bases.

With this in mind, it seemed all the funnier to us that our first road-trip as mid-westerners was, in fact, to Ohio. We visited some of our favorite people there--Jeff & Amy, and Dan & Katja.

Our visit included a trip to Hocking Hills State Park, the Columbus Temple, a few nights talking way past our bedtime (Ohio friends--you were totally worth it), and this monstrosity:

Is everything bigger in Ohiowa? Perhaps so.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On going to bed alone

Isaac is away at an MBA conference for three nights. This post is not meant to be a plea for pity, just an observation.

When he is gone, my days do not change--any normal day I'm working or running errands and cleaning anyway. At dinnertime I prop up a book next to my plate and it substitutes adequately for conversation. Evenings take a little planning, but I entertain myself well when he's gone--a girl's night, a church potluck, an extra bowl of ice cream (shhhh).

But bedtime is different.

At first I think, "Going to bed will be so fast! No prayers, no talking after hours, no waiting for each other to floss."

But I'm wrong. Rather than go to bed early and take advantage of the simplified routine, I stay up late, avoiding bed. Somehow there is no reason to go to bed. Not alone. It is the one thing we always do together. So instead I pick up the kitchen one more time. Browse recipes online. Check my email over and over. Read blogs I've already read. Anything to put off crawling into that quiet bed and lying down next to an empty pillow.

Sleep is an inherently lonely activity. It's eight hours of just me and my subconscious. Yet it is the time I miss Isaac the most.

Friday, September 3, 2010

An open letter to Clutter

This is a difficult letter for me to write.

You've been a big part of my life, seeing me through every stage of childhood and adolescence, and even accompanying me to college. All my roommates knew you well, knew that we were inseparable. We went everywhere together. I spent more time with you than with my own mother.

But, you see, I'm a married woman now, and have been for several years. We can't carry on like we used to. It's just not right.

I'm going to have to be blunt. I'm breaking up with you.

There. I said it.

Look, you know I've tried to do this before. I'd make it a few days without you, and then you'd be there in my living room, begging me to take you back, to give you another chance. You told me that life was better with you around. Everything out in the open. No secrets. Sure, I'd trip over you in the night from time to time, but you have to take the good with the bad, right? And so we never did manage a clean break.

Then I met Isaac and I forgot about you for awhile. I'm committed to him, plus our new place was big enough to keep you out. But you came back. So we moved. And you came back again.

This time, it's really over. I'm a grown-up now, and when I say it's over I really mean it's over. We're through. Isaac and I want this apartment to ourselves.

Sincerely (but without affection),


P.S. I'm un-friending you on Facebook too. So there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bonafide Iowans

The last box being unpacked, I am at last able to emerge from the cardboard time-warp in which I spent the last week, and tell you about our lives.

We're in Iowa! Isaac is getting his MBA here, so we're committed for two years.

Here's a general overview. Feel free to scroll through the headings if some of the topics seem boring.

New Couches and a Real Apartment

Our apartment has been a "real" apartment for over 40 years, but as we arrived without any furniture and lived that way for 5 days, then had 4 more days before our couches arrived and the last box was unpacked, our apartment felt more like a glorified camping spot than a civilized abode.

But no more! Here's proof:

Camber and Isaac on their brand-new couches. Well, brand-new on Friday. They've been sat on a few times at the time of this picture.

I include this picture only as a testament to my hardships of this week. Cabinet space in the kitchen is minimal, so getting almost every kitchen gadget and morsel of food into this room required several trips to Walmart, some black mold (ewwwww), a brief moment of crisis questioning modern prophets and their counsel to keep so much food storage, and several meltdowns (sorry, Isaac!).

Another view of our lovely front room (please note the natural lighting. We have sworn off basement apartments for life!)

Our office and the world's most complicated "some assembly required" desk. This took us about 5-6 man-hours to complete. (Let's call them gender-neutral hours, because I want a little credit in the assembly).

The adorable view out the back of our apartment. Iowa oozes green from every crevice. It's beautiful!

And last but not least, a tribute to my little brother: the very first decoration I put up. Justin, you are a handsome, handsome man.


I have a job! I start in two weeks, and will work on the cardiology and thoracic/vascular surgery floor at the hospital. For my non-medical readers, thoracic surgery basically involves anything in the chest--heart, lungs, esophagus, etc. Vascular surgery involves blood vessels--veins, arteries, stuff like that. I'll be taking care of patients after surgery and will get to learn a LOT.

A few weeks of unemployment gives a person time to reflect on the benefits of having a job. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I miss working!  I'm in a new place where I don't know very many people, being outside makes me sweat excessively, and touring the sights costs money or begs companionship. Even though I'll have unnatural hours (12 hour shifts, 2 weeks of nights every 6 weeks), I'm excited to come home feeling like I worked hard and accomplished something truly useful. I'm excited to have some structure to my week, and even a little sense of urgency to help me waste less time. I'm excited to feel like I'm progressing and learning new things--which is partly why I felt so attracted to the cardiology unit, even though it's a change from what I did before. And I have a sense of how profoundly difficult un-planned unemployment must be.

Iowa and all its quirks

-Everyone drives the speed limit. The speed LIMIT. Not five over, or 15 over like in Utah.

-90 degrees in Utah=a little on the warm side. Wear shorts if you want. 90 degrees in Iowa=Are girls allowed to sweat that much?

-Cicadas. Really loud background noise. All the time.

-Turns out that the old saying "when it rains, it pours" is not just figurative. I think it originated as a description of the weather patterns in Iowa.

-Carl's Jr. is "Hardee's," Dreyer's ice cream is "Edy's," and the local grocery store is called "HyVee". HyVee? Please tell me that's not named after a person...

-People are nice here! There are nice people outside of Utah!

-No Cafe Rio ANYWHERE. Chipotle, you're good, but you're not Cafe Rio. Panchero's, I haven't figured out what the difference between you and Chipotle is. Is life really worth living?

-Back to the HyVee--it has a large dining area and the most extensive deli and salad bar ever. If you want Chinese take-out or southern-fried chicken, it's all there. I think people actually go out to dinner at the grocery store. Huh.

-No sprinklers. Apparently grass just grows because it self-waters from the rain. I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that concept.

The Verdict

Good. Very good.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Many Faces of Nebraska

Nebraska bears a poor reputation among travelers, who love to make disparaging comments about its lack of topographical variety.

Having driven through it myself, I beg to differ. I think the following landscape views will refute Nebraska's nay-sayers.

In this first picture, please notice the variety of colors: blue sky, green grass, even a small brown fence.

In this next piece, the number of clouds is increased, and you can see some trees against the horizon:

In this stunning piece, you'll notice rows of grain (corn perhaps) as a surprising change from the grass.

And here, I saved the best for last. Please note the gorgeous greenery strategically placed directly in the foreground of the photo. Even now it moves me to tears.

We are eager for the return trip, as you can well imagine.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Farewell, Dear Mountain Home

Out past the western prairies, and over a mountain range, you will find a small valley. On its eastern border are high mountain peaks, providing shadow and protection. They stand tall, pillars of God, snow-covered, and still. On its western border lies a calm lake. The valley is green, covered with trees, and yes – a river runs through it. And these peaks, these high mountains, this river and this lake, are beautiful beyond any singing of them.

Between this lake and the mountain cliffs is my home, and today is the first time I am truly leaving it – for I suppose you don't truly leave a place until you no longer know when or if you will return. As a missionary I left for two years, but always knowing that awaiting my return were my beautiful mountain peaks, my quiet and soft valley. But now, as I leave for school, there is no certainty in the future.

In our modern society, it seems that many have lost their attachment to place. They wander about, homeless in a way, without a place to call their own. But this place, these mountains, these hills, these rivers – they are, and always will be, uniquely mine. Why? Because it was here, under the mountain shadows, on the banks of the rivers, and on the valley hills, that I became me. The land is part of my personality, the hills pieces of my soul. And I will always cherish them.

There is a hymn in our hymnbook that is almost never sung, but which ends sweetly with these simple words:
Words cannot tell how well I love thee
Nor speak my longing when I roam.
My heart alone can cry to heaven,
“God bless my own dear mountain home.”

And so, as I leave, I'll say this silent prayer in my heart – a prayer for the mountains and hills, for the rivers and lakes, but also for the friends and family whom I will leave behind:

May God bless my own dear mountain home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

7th Heaven, RIP

Today was my last day of work. Counting my capstone semester, I have been on the 7th floor of the hospital for nearly 4 years. That's like high school, but better paying. Leaving the hospital today in a semi-depressed state caused me to reflect on the love/hate relationship we so often have with our jobs.

Working on 7th floor means waking up in the morning at the same time all the drunks are going to bed. Which is before the roosters wake up but after the dairy farmers.

It means working Christmas and New Year's Eve and General Conference and Easter and Father's Day all in the same year. If the President were to declare a national "Everyone go home from work early and eat ice cream and fly a kite" day, I'd probably be stuck at work then too.

It means old confused people who refuse to leave their catheter where it deserves to stay, and young confused people yelling for the rats on the ceiling to leave them alone.

It means foot ulcers that start on one end and come out the other, defying both nature and stomach. Growing in that ulcer is a bacteria so nasty you wouldn't wave at it from a satellite. But I get to touch it, shielded only by a layer of latex the thickness of a sheet of paper.

It means lots and lots and LOTS of poop. Poop of every color and consistency imaginable. Poop so strong it can singe your eyebrows and melt plastic.

So why did I feel sad when I walked away from work today? And why did I keep coming back day after day for more of the above? For four years?

I think it's that old lady whose hair sticks up in the back from lying in bed so much, and the old man that asks you to marry him in the most flattering way possible. And the cancer patient grossed out by blood so you cover it with a pillow case while you transfuse her. And the Tongan guy with a million siblings that sing you Sunday songs in four-part harmony. And the mentally handicapped man who sits cross-legged on his bed and begs for more boondoggle. And the lady who brings in her Christmas tree during the holidays and tells you the story of all the ornaments on it. And the little old lady who wanders the halls with you to pick out the room with the best view for her husband. And the book of cowboy poetry an old cowboy gives you. And the quiet guy you had all weekend who tears up as you send him home and gives you a huge, unexpected hug. And the doctor who asks your opinion on a patient and then does what you suggest.

And, AND, my coworkers. Watching them get married off to great guys, or getting pregnant after trying forever. Hearing about grand-babies and quirky husbands and weird step-sons. Eating their cheesecake and discussing American Idol. Catching up on someone's love life while cleaning up a bowel explosion. Laughing at new residents together. Complimenting each other's good looks in the isolation gowns. Watching the manager and educator don bling and do a rap. Do coworkers do those things in Iowa?

For all my complaining, I'll miss you, 7th floor.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

NOW what's wrong with this picture?

Two weeks, two colds, and an injured shoulder later...

The TV is still in the office. But in our poor foresight, we neglected to banish the laptop, hence...

We have no willpower when we’re sick.

By the way, those are ice cream bowls you see on the ground. Empty.

You see, we burned calories moving the couch.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's wrong with this picture?

Do you see what's missing? Here's the inventory: 2 couches, a piano, an end table, a writing desk, and some speakers.

Yes, thank you, the piano really is lovely, isn't it? But wait a minute, there's no TV!

The TV has been banished to the office, and covered with a blanket to further block it from our consciousness.

What was its crime, you inquire? I thought you'd never ask! It began to infiltrate our lives, taking over our conversations and most waking thoughts. Even mealtime was tarnished, as we sometimes took our plates to the couch to watch while we ate. No use wasting our good TV-watching time eating! When we started praying nightly that Ashley wouldn't win the Biggest Loser, we knew we had a problem.

We now plan to spend our evenings feeling less hurried and more productive. Ideas include reading, writing, cleaning, kite-flying, frisbee, going on walks, and toning our abs for that nice, chiseled look.

With these illustrious ambitions in mind, so far one of us (we won't say which) spent a rough afternoon watching TV on the computer, and another evening we went to the movies because we couldn't watch anything at home. Tonight we ate dinner in the office around the blanket-covered TV, reminiscing about the good old days.

I can't believe we were ever scared to put it away.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cooper Rules for Disneyland

Growing up as a Cooper, we went to Disneyland every year and spent several days there. With three hard-core brothers, and having a little die-hard Disney blood myself, we developed a unique strategy for experiencing the park.

1. Show up early enough to weasel your way to the front of the crowd in Main Street at the rope. Do this by any means necessary, but try not to step on any babies.

2. When the rope drops, run as fast as you can without looking like you're running to either Big Thunder Railroad or Space Mountain. Ride that ride as many times in a row as possible until the line gets too long.

3. Never dawdle, never waste time strolling leisurely in between rides, and never drink too much water and waste everyone's time with bathroom breaks. Always run. You can rest in line.

4. Never, never, NEVER watch the parade! That's when the lines are shortest! Plan out which side of the park you want to be stuck on beforehand.

5. Banned: It's a Small World, Captain EO, Toon Town, and musical shows in general.

That said, I was a little nervous to go to Disneyland with Isaac's family. Did they understand the rules? Would they be dawdlers? What if they wanted to split the day between Toon Town and Captain EO? Or worse yet, spend the day shopping?

While Isaac's family is not and never will be Coopers, I am fully satisfied with the day I had with that awesome family. Granted, we did break one of the cardinal rules and rode "It's a Small World", but the line was short, lessening the infraction. Here are some examples of how hard-core we were:

Yeah, we rode Space Mountain three times. Never buy the pictures. You can just take a photo of the screen.

Nathan, Karen, and Sierra, looking happy to be hard-core Disneylanders.

The happy couple. Isaac got a lot of compliments on his awesome "More Cowbell" shirt. (If you've never seen the SNL skit, here's a link:

If you look veeeerrrry closely at Isaac's face, you may notice that one side is hairier than the other. His electric razor died mid-shave and made for a funny-looking beard.

Nap-time. While not explicitly stated in the Cooper rules, nap-time at Disneyland is generally shunned in our family. But I decided to give everyone a break for good behavior.

The classic castle shot, just to prove we were really there.

As an added note, we stayed until closing at 11:00 PM. Hess family, you make me proud.