Nine on the 9th: Hidden Talents

Welcome back to Nine on the 9th (err...16th)! We actually had the text of this done by the 10th, but Kristl took her sweet time finding pictures to add in. Whoops! Sorry we missed September, but we were a little busy. Life is (hopefully) about to calm down for us a bit, as Rachel is graduating from her urban agriculture program on Thursday. We've got a few blog posts planned - let's all cross our fingers that we actually write them! For now, enjoy this list of some of our hidden talents. If we tell you all our favorite hidden talents, then they won't be hidden anymore. So, just be warned, we aren't giving up all the goods.
1. Bacon and eggs: Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So it's good to know who should be in charge of what part of breakfast. Rachel is incredibly good at making bacon. We like to buy thick cut, humanely-raised, locally-sourced bacon. The result is crispy bacon, with a pleasant chew.  Kristl is a genius at making fried eggs.  She knows how to get the edges crispy, and keep the yolks runny.   If she's adding eggs to something, she has a knack for getting the whites steamed without hardening the yolks.  It's a dream.  It's important to know that Rachel is awesome at bacon and Kristl is a genius at eggs because Rachel ruins eggs and Kristl burns bacon, pretty much without fail.

It was hard to find pics to go along with these facts, so here's a random selfie!

2. Weird voices: About two years into their relationship, Rachel completely confounded Kristl by speaking to her in an alien Kermit the Frog type voice.  Kristl asked, "Where the heck did that come from?!" Rachel responded, "Well, it's just my weird voice for special occasions."  As an only child, Rachel did have to come up with ways to amuse herself, one of which was manipulating her voice.  It doesn't come in particularly handy, but it's weird.

 

3. Monkey feet: Kristl is really good at picking things up with her toes. Like, creepy good.  She's always been good at this.  Turns out this comes in handy (ha ha) when she's wearing a skirt, or a low cut dress, and doesn't want to flash everyone if she has to bend over. Plus, she's pretty much always wearing sandals, so it's convenient. Woo!

 

4. Google Fu: Kristl can find almost anything on the internet. Anything. If it is on the internet, it is meant to be be found by one Kristl Kwai Fah Yuen. She's magic. Rachel will complain about not being able to find such-and-such online and then, a few minutes later, Kristl will send her a barrage of links. Rachel is often outwardly annoyed by this, but secretly loves it.

Rachel all decked out in her farming gear!

5. Finding deals/discounts: This is somewhat related to the previous one, but if you are ever about to buy something, Kristl can probably find you a deal on it. When Rachel was outfitting herself for all-season farmwork, she expected to have to spend hundreds of dollars. After using eBates and shopping around for the best coupon codes and sales, Kristl was able to find all of the gear (work boots, rain pants, Goretex jacket, heavy fleece jacket, light hooded fleece vest, steel toe rainboots, and long silk underwear) for about $250. The Goretex alone retailed for almost $200. This skill definitely came in handy during our leaner months earlier this year!

 

6. Whistling and humming at the same time: Rachel can whistle and hum at the same time. Like an old timey radio is being tuned or a space ship is landing, or, on a good day, in harmony  Every time she does so, Delilah rushes over to make sure everything is okay.

We played NERTS with friends and, as usual, Kristl won.

7. Card games: Kristl is unbelievably good at games, card games especially. She often doesn't even know how she does it. Most recently, we were camping with friends and decided to play Go Fish. Kristl was the second person to go and she somehow managed to get through two full rotations of the group before asking someone for a card they didn't have. She, of course, won by a landslide.

 

8. Accents: We occasionally like to speak in exaggerated, nonspecific Minnesota/Northern Wisconsin or Russian accents. We developed our love of Minnesota/Northern Wisconsin accents independently of each other (Kristl in high school, Rachel in college), but the Russian accent acquisition was a concerted effort. Once, Kristl was in the kitchen and she heard Rachel talking in the living room. She assumed Rachel was on the phone with someone, but when she walked over, she realized Rachel was practicing her Russian accent with a YouTube video.

 

9. Wiggling ears: Rachel can wiggle her ears. Kristl cannot. This makes Kristl jealous on a daily basis. Not really, but Rachel wishes it did. When Kristl tries to wiggle her ears, her eyebrows move. (Rachel is jealous her secret talents are not more useful in real life, although upon further reflection back upon this list, she has some pretty strong tools for entertaining children.)

8-year-old Kristl proudly posing after a baton performance.

Since we are so late posting this, here are some bonus talents: Rachel tends to meow along to songs since she never remembers the lyrics, Kristl is a decent baton twirler, Rachel is great at spotting cats in windows when we're out walking, and Kristl can do some pretty rad makeup.

 

So there you go, hidden talents, and now they are not so hidden anymore. We can make you breakfast, entertain your children, and find you really good deals.  Then Kristl will take you all down in Go Fish.

Nine on the 9th: How We Are Different

This is a list of nine glorious ways that Kristl and Rachel embody the phrase "opposites attract" and how that works and doesn't work for them on a daily basis. 1. Math/No Math: Kristl loved math all through school.  She loved math so hard that she decided to major in math in college.  She only stopped loving math when it stopped being math and became theoretical (i.e. not really "math"). That's when she left college to go be an acupuncturist.  Kristl is really good at computation, mental math, being a calculator, figuring out how many of that will fit into that, etc. On one of their first dates, Kristl challenged Rachel to make her do large number multiplication in her head. It was amusing, but Rachel never knew if she was right or not. Rachel, on the other hand, is Team No Math. She will do her best to avoid mental math if she can eyeball or intuit how much she will need of something. She was a straight A student all through grade school with the exception of 4th grade math, in which she received C's because she could not slam multiplication tables into her brain fast enough. She managed to adapt to higher level math (algebra, calculus, etc), because it WAS more theoretical, but the calculations were almost always the reason she lost points on quizzes and tests. Thankfully, Rachel passed her AP Calculus exam with a 3 and did not have to take ANY MORE MATH EVER in college. The only bad thing (so far) about being a farmer, is all the math Rachel has to do to figure out how many plants will fit in a plot. Agony.

Studying

2. Sports: Rachel was never really good at sports, but she really loved playing them growing up, especially basketball. (Having been raised a conservative Christian, she had a shirt that said "Christ is Life, Everything else is Basketball." Don't judge.) In high school, she played basketball, and ran cross-country and track. She was pretty buff. Kristl, on the other hand, did not play sports. At all. She was very involved in choir, drama, and student government, but didn't play a single sport in high school. The funny thing is, Kristl's not actually bad at sports, she just never had the desire to play on a team. When Rachel tries to apply sports team analogies to real life situations, Kristl frequently can't relate. Neither of us really enjoys watching sports that much, unless it's our friends playing in a league or it's an Olympic year.

3. Looks: We look completely different. Completely. We were thinking about the old adage that partnered couples start to look alike as they get older and we tried to figure out where we were similar - where someone would be like, "Oh, it's your ears, definitely. Your ears are the same." Yeah, no.  Kristl is short, she's got big boobs, she's half-Chinese, she has short legs, brown eyes, dark brown hair. Rachel is half a foot taller, has basically no boobs, she's got some hips, long legs, blue-green eyes, light brown hair, she's mostly German-American with some Anglo-Saxon muttness thrown in. Our faces have different shapes; our ears don't even connect to our heads the same way. We do both have size 8.5 feet, but our feet are shaped very differently. We've concluded that as we age, we will only look the same in spirit.  If you start to think we do look alike, it's merely an illusion.

See? We don't look at all alike!

4. Introvert and Extrovert: This one is sort of a cop out, but it frequently plays a big role in our lives. Kristl is definitely more introverted, so she needs a lot of alone time to get her energy back when she's had to be around people. Rachel is more extroverted, so she is able to get energy by being around people. Sometimes this comes in handy when Kristl has to go to a party for something semi-professional, but she doesn't really want to talk to people. She can bring Rachel, and Rachel can talk to people and enjoy herself while Kristl can still make an appearance for the sake of her business.

5. Cats and Dogs: Rachel grew up super afraid of dogs, because she was attacked by one when she was three, and Kristl grew up super allergic to cats (thankfully, she's adjusted to Delilah). Rachel grew up with at least one pet cat in the house at all times, and Kristl has always loved dogs, but her mother refused to let them have labor-intensive pets growing up, so they had things like fish and a Japanese quail. Kristl wanted to get a dog as soon as she had her own place that allowed them (which she did). So, obviously, the fact that Kristl and Rachel now have a cat and a dog together is a pretty big accomplishment. Bradley and Delilah have been very patient through the whole process. Little known fact: Rachel told Bradley that she loved him the first time she met him, on her first date with Kristl. It took her almost four months from that day to say the same thing to Kristl.

Rachel loves Bradley.

6. DANCING: Kristl loves dancing. She loves swing, lindy hop, and tap, and tends to thrive in dance styles that allow freedom within structure. She's planning on taking up tap again, just because she loves it so much. Rachel is quite a different matter and loves to dance in as free a style possible. She loves to just groove to the music and isn't good at super structured moves because she doesn't exactly see the point of it. If you can impress people without structured moves, then just move your body. Part of this difference of opinion about dancing style and structure is why Kristl and Rachel haven't tried any partner dance classes yet. They have their eye on the queer tango class, but they have yet to commit.

7. Sleeping style: This is a little bit difficult to describe, but Kristl and Rachel have very different approaches to blanket usage while they are sleeping. This bothers Kristl a great deal and bothers Rachel very little, until she completely loses a blanket or a pillow and finds herself super cold and sad in the middle of the night. They don't even share blankets for the most part because each person in the bed is the master of her own blanket destiny. Kristl usually makes it through the whole night with her blankets in place, while Rachel is lucky to make it to midnight without dropping a pillow or curling into the fetal position because she's cold and she's lost her blanket. Kristl frequently will ask Rachel if she wants her pillow or blanket because she looks uncomfortable, but Rachel doesn't answer these interrogatives...because she is sleeping. (Kristl usually gives Rachel the pillow or blanket back anyway and then Rachel smiles and it's super adorable.) The best is when Rachel loses her own blanket and then tries to steal Kristl's. Kristl loves that.

8. Cooking style: Rachel makes big messes when she cooks and it stresses Kristl out to be in the kitchen with her working on the same project. They can peacefully coexist in the kitchen, IF Kristl doesn't pay too close attention to what Rachel is doing. Rachel does always clean up after her giant messes, and then cleans up after the tiny messes that Kristl leaves when she gets too stressed out by cooking in the same kitchen as Rachel and has to leave. We both try to clean as we go, but it doesn't always work out as planned.

Canning tomatoes is definitely one of our messier kitchen endeavors. Last year there may have been a lot of Kristl yelling at Rachel for being messy. Hopefully things will be different this year.

9. Good morning/good night world:  Rachel falls asleep pretty easily, especially since having to wake up at 4:45 for farm work, but it takes her a good hour to be a fully-functioning human in the morning. Kristl takes a while to power down in the evening, but she wakes up almost immediately in the morning, or pretty much whenever she's woken up. Sometimes, especially in the spring, Kristl will wake up all on her own around 6:00 am for weeks at a time, just like the sun. This bothers Rachel to no end, as Kristl will wake up and start chatting immediately. For the first year of their relationship Kristl had to learn not to talk to "Morning Rachie" until she was given the okay.

Nine on the 9th: Things We HATE! (Rawr!)

It's the 9th! So soon! Listen, neither of us tolerate change well. Change makes us crabby. And what's been going on for us this year? Basically nothing but change. Going back to school, new office space, new internship, new apartment, so on and so forth. Change change change change change. Crabby crabby crabby crabby crabby. (We are aware that we asked for and enacted almost all of this change, but it still makes us crabby to be in flux.) So, we figured we should probably write about the things we hate for Nine on the 9th this month. Enjoy! 1. Rachel hates grass/sod. HATES it. One day we took a walk and Rachel just started yelling about all the grass in the neighborhood. She's already a grumpy old grandpa. She is of the opinion that grass is a complete waste of space and resources and there are much better ground cover options out there. (Go ahead.  Ask her how she feels and see what happens.)

2. As we mentioned in our belated Facts on a Date post, Kristl hates being tickled. She has been known to turn into an aggressive ninja when tickled. Rachel hasn't quite learned this (or thinks it's amusing), and has therefore sustained many an injury from trying to tickle Kristl. In fact, Kristl hates being tickled so much, that when she was in school she often requested to be in a group of three for point location class so that she wouldn't have to be touched (also, it sucked to have her as a point location model, as she squirmed and screamed and flailed so much it was nearly impossible to find the points accurately).

You can see just how much we love humidity here

3. We both hate humidity and would much rather be cold than hot and sweaty. This year's Dyke March happened to fall on a very hot and humid day, and as soon as we arrived we turned to each other and lamented about how we missed the polar vortex. Thankfully this summer has been really mild thus far!

4. Rachel hates clammy hands. Kristl's hands are perpetually clammy. For the first few months of dating Rachel stalwartly held Kristl's hand without any indication that it made her feel gross. She finally mentioned it and now Kristl will make a point of holding Rachel's hand if she's having an exceptionally clammy day. Perhaps it's to get back at Rachel for all the damn tickling.

One of the only cakes Kristl has made that she actually enjoyed eating - triple layer banana cake with caramel frosting and a salted caramel drizzle.

5. Kristl hates cake (most of the time). This is especially odd because she loves baking and bakes a damn good cake, she just won't eat it. She doesn't particularly like the texture, the frosting/cake ratio is usually off, and it's usually too sweet. She'd much rather have something fruity and baked (pie, cobbler, buckles). Or ice cream. Or brownies. Or cookies. Basically any sweet treat other than cake. BOO CAKE.

6. We both hate shoes, though Kristl hates them more than Rachel (probably because she grew up in Hawai'i and wore rubber slippers for most of her formative years). We both have rather problematic feet and shoes tend to aggravate those problems more than sandals do. Kristl will wear sandals well into winter, even if there's snow on the ground. At this point, we should probably buy stock in Birkenstock as we usually have about 8-9 pairs hanging around our house at any given time.

You'd never guess that she was in extreme pain and couldn't hear out of that ear!

7. Rachel hates not being able to hear. When we got married, poor Rachel had a double ear infection and a sinus infection. After a day of being unable to hear, she started to feel like she was going crazy and was willing to do almost anything to make it better.  She was in pain and couldn't hear completely out of her right ear for a month after. Her new life goal is to avoid ever losing her hearing again.

8. Kristl hates most floral smells, especially roses and lavender. The other day she saw some beautiful roses, unconsciously leaned in to smell them, and immediately gagged. Rachel just looked at her like, "Why did you smell it, you dumbass?" Kristl especially hates floral flavors in food - it all tastes soapy to her, even if you think there's "just a little" in there.

9. Adding on to that last one, we both hate artificial fragrances and the smell of chemical cleaners, even things like Febreze, that are supposed to "remove" odors. This may actually be less of a "hate" situation and more of an allergy one. There have been times we've actually had to leave places with strong smells because one or both of us was coughing, sneezing, and unable to breathe.

Well, that's that. There are more things that we hate (Kristl more so than Rachel, if we're being honest), but we're going to stop at nine. Also, we're actually trying to use the word "hate" less and focus on more positive things in our lives. So if you catch us bitching about things from here on out, you have permission to call us out on it.

Facts on a Date! - INJURIES!

Tuesday, June 10, I woke up and the first thing I thought was, "Oh no! We missed Nine on the 9th!" (I'm not even kidding. It was literally the first thing I thought when I opened my eyes.) As always, we've got a boatload of things going on - Rachel started her internship at the Chicago Botanic Garden's Fruit and Vegetable Garden (meaning she has to get up at 4:45am, so that's been quite the adjustment!), I finally was able to start seeing patients in my new practice space, we decided to move a few blocks north of our current apartment because we got an out-of-the-blue offer to rent a friend's condo for the next 2-5 years, AND we set a date for our wedding reception. All of that happened in a span of a week or so, hence the complete lack of a Nine on the 9th post. To make it up for you, we're going to do a random number of facts on whatever date we end up finishing this post! Aren't you the luckiest?! 1. When Kristl was around 3 or 4, she sprained her arm diving across the room to grab a toy bus. This is the first "real" injury she remembers.

Kristl couldn't find a pic of her sprained arm, so she thought this adorable ruffled-bikini-bandaid-on-each-knee pic would be a good alternative.

2. About six weeks before graduating from high school, Rachel was participating in the dress rehearsal of her high school musical review and was rushing to get to the dressing room and tripped over own (damn) feet.  She went sprawling, and broke her elbow (also sprained her ankle, gave herself a mild concussion, and shattered the bracelet she was wearing at the time).  When the dust settled, she wasn't quite sure exactly what had happened, and for better or worse, no one had seen her fall, so there she was, curled up in a fetal position for no apparent reason. She did sing in most of the musical review that weekend with her arm in a sling and with her mind on Vicodin.

The show must go on, even with a broken elbow, sprained ankle, and concussion.

3. As a junior in high school, Kristl fell down walking so many times, that she had to have knee surgery. Seriously. The first incident happened on the first day of band camp - they were practicing marching formations and her knee gave way when she popped her heel up. She had to sit out for the entirety of camp (it was on the Big Island, so she couldn't easily go home). The final time, she was supposed to participate in a panel discussion at school. She was walking across the courtyard and her knee gave out again. She blacked out from the pain and the next thing she knew she was lying on a bench. She ended up having surgery on her meniscus. One of her greatest regrets is getting general anesthesia instead of local - she really wanted to watch the surgery!

4. In summer 2012, in the way of most lesbians in love, Kristl and Rachel decided to finally shack up.  This involved moving some of Rachel's stuff temporarily into a storage space.  Rachel cleverly decided wear open-toed sandals for the big move and managed to rip off her left big toenail while moving a piece of her sectional.  Blood squirted everywhere for a little while, which was awesome, and it took almost an entire year for the toenail to grow back completely. For some reason, we affectionately named the affected toe "Toebert."

5. As a senior in high school, Kristl managed to chip her knee cap without coming into contact with anything. She was standing up, turned to do something, and felt such excruciating pain in her knee that she fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. She reached out to break her fall and almost tore a cabinet door off its hinges. She ended up in a full leg brace, which is really awesome when you're sixteen.

Leg brace + DIY too short bangs = best senior year ever

6. When Rachel was training to be an Resident Assistant at Calvin College, they went on a three day biking/camping trip as part of the training.  On the last day of the bike trip, Rachel was getting off of her bike, but the clips holding her feet in got stuck.  Her legs were still stuck to the bike, but her body was not, so she dislocated her right kneecap.  It was the most painful thing. By far. Ever.  The knee cap migrated back to it's usual place once her teammates helped her off the bike, but she definitely didn't do anymore biking or walking on that trip or for a while.

Rachel (possibly) writing angsty poetry about her dislocated knee cap.

7. Shortly before Kristl visited Chicago for the first time, she sprained her knee doing a dip while swing dancing. She had to navigate Chicago on crutches, which may be why so many people asked her for directions. She fell in love with the city and moved here for good two months later.

8. As an eight year-old, one day in the early spring, Rachel had a day off from school and was just helping her dad do errands around town while wearing her snow boots.  Somehow this made her sprain her Achilles tendon. Mysteries abound. (I believe it's because the snow boots were a bit over-sized and stressed out her poor tendons trying to keep the boots and her feet all in the same place.)

9. During a slow afternoon at esthetician school, Kristl made a coffee run for her classmates, even though she has never been a coffee drinker. On her way back, she stepped  off a curb wrong, sprained both her ankles, and fell face first in the street. She managed not to spill a drop of the 79 cent coffees in her hands, so there's that. She tore up both knees, which is even more of a sight when you're required to wear all white, as she was for school. She also had to wear an aircast on each ankle for weeks after. She still has those aircasts and, unfortunately, still uses them on occasion.

10. Rachel and her dad used to go scuba diving in old rock quarries around the Chicagoland area.  (This is not as weird as it sounds, but it is kinda weird.  People make money by filling in old rock quarries with water and fish, sinking small boats, helicopters, planes, etc in the quarries and then charging scuba divers to dive in them during the warm months.  Usually, people learn how to dive here, so they can be ready when they go somewhere where it's actually pleasant to scuba dive like, I don't know, the Bahamas.  But some interesting people, like the Schipulls, will go for fun.)  Rachel had finished her dive and was bobbing around the surface taking pictures of the fish with her underwater camera.  Suddenly, a bluegill jumped out of the water and bit Rachel in the eye. This caused quite the commotion as you could imagine, but luckily Rachel was wearing soft contacts at the time and the bluegill got a mouth full of corrective lens and Rachel went home with a sore eye and one less contact.

11. About six weeks after they started dating, Kristl sprained her ankle dancing at a friend's wedding. Rachel had been liberally partaking of the open bar and was in no shape to drive them home, so they had to wait for her to sober up. Kristl is staunchly independent and was beyond mortified to need Rachel's help that night. She actually tried to crawl to her condo from the parking lot because she didn't want Rachel to help her walk. Rachel, however, was insistent and Kristl finally gave in.

Dishonorable mentions:

12. Rachel has some fire ant scars on her right wrist from growing up in Florida where you have to check the color of the ants you are working with.  Black ants are relatively benign, red ants will mess you up.

13. Kristl hates being tickled; Rachel sometimes tickles Kristl anyways.  Sad things happen.

Kristl *really* doesn't like being tickled

14. Despite her numerous injuries, Kristl has never actually broken a bone. The closest she's gotten is that chipped knee cap. *knock on wood*

15. When you are having a grand mal seizure, the common medical advice is for your friends and family member to arrange you on your side so that you do not choke or lose the ability to breathe (job #1).  When you are convulsing, your joints are kinda at the mercy of physics and gravity and whatever else might be lying around. Rachel tends to get seizures while she's asleep, so she was already on her side the last time she had a grand mal. Because she was on her side while seizing, her poor shoulder took the brunt of it and ended up dislocating. Dumb epilepsy. (We are still taking donations to pay for Rachel's medical bills, if you haven't had a chance to donate yet, please feel free do so here.)

Well, there you have it!  A random number of facts on a random day!  Although, here is a random fact that is not related to injuries: Rachel and Kristl just passed their three year anniversary! (AWWWWW.) They will try to be careful and not have any more ridiculous injuries as they go forward with all their big changes this summer. Happy last week of June everyone!

Nine on the 9th - Birthday Edition

Tomorrow, May 10, is Kristl's birthday, so we figured we should do a Nine on the 9th with birthday facts! 1. Kristl was born at 3:17 pm on Monday, May 10, 1982, in Honolulu, HI. It was the day after Mother's Day. She's about to turn 32.

2. Rachel was born at 12:09am on Wednesday, September 26, 1984, in Panama City, FL. She'll be 30 this year.

3. Kristl isn't a huge fan of birthdays. She won't be mad if you say "Happy Birthday!" and give her a hug, but she would usually rather not celebrate hers and doesn't agree with the idea of obligatory gift giving. (Her philosophy on gift giving is that if you see something that someone you know would like or that reminds you of someone, you should get it for that person, whether or not you have a reason to. Of course, this is only if you are comfortable buying said item. She once saw a $400 cross stitch of rainbow penguins that reminded her of a friend, but she didn't buy it for him because four hundred dollars for a cross stitch.) She also WAY prefers have experiences/time with people rather than more stuff, so if you absolutely have to do something for her birthday, offer to take her out for a nice meal. Done.

On the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier on Rachel's 28th birthday.
On the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier on Rachel's 28th birthday.

4. Rachel loves birthdays. L-O-V-E-S them.  In high school, she would keep a countdown on the dry-erase board in her locker starting AT LEAST 30 days out from her birthday.  And she would drop hints, trick people into talking about it, force other people to plan their social events around her birthday celebration, etc... if Facebook had existed then, she would have been fully insufferable.

Kristl was thrilled to be having a birthday party
Kristl was thrilled to be having a birthday party

5.  For Kristl's 30th, Rachel convinced her to have a party. They kept it low-key and planned a potluck at a beach park. Because of scheduling issues (i.e. a 10-day road trip to Florida during Kristl's actual birthday), the party didn't happen until June. They got to the beach park a couple hours early to set up and claim the spot. Shortly there after, Kristl started to break down. She cried, said she didn't want to have a party because she didn't want people paying attention to her, and decided to leave. Rachel had to talk her down and tell her that her friends would probably be disappointed arrive at her birthday party to find that she'd gone home. Kristl ended up staying and having a good time, but it will forever be the benchmark of how NOT to throw a party for her birthday.

6. Rachel vividly remembers her fourth birthday party only because everyone bought her Barbie dolls and she was wildly disappointed.  She wanted nothing to do with Barbies because they were boring.  All she wanted was dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs... with some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thrown in for good measure. Future birthdays made up for this by including games where participants had to act like dinosaurs and Rachel getting to wear a shirt with a dinosaur on it. Thank goodness.

Check out the cool "What-ever!" hat and the Walkman Kristl got for her 14th birthday. Also, her boyfriend at the time was sitting next to her, but she cut him out of the photo in a fit of teen angst.
Check out the cool "What-ever!" hat and the Walkman Kristl got for her 14th birthday. Also, her boyfriend at the time was sitting next to her, but she cut him out of the photo in a fit of teen angst.

7. When she was 15, Kristl had a big party. The plan was to hang out at the beach for a few hours, then go back to her house to watch movies and eat pizza. This time Kristl had such a good time at the beach that she forgot (or neglected? she was 15, who knows) to put on sunscreen. She got such a bad sunburn that when they got back to her house she essentially passed out in her mom's air conditioned bedroom. Her friends gathered in the living room and watched movies and ate pizza without her. It's still one of the more memorable birthdays she's had.

8. Rachel's family had a tradition of taking her to Red Lobster for her birthday, which she was really into because shrimp are delicious.  Every year, she would enthusiastically order a virgin strawberry daiquiri to start, whatever entree would allow her to eat the most shrimp prepared in the most different ways (with cheddar biscuits, of course), and whatever dessert had the most chocolate, so the restaurant staff would be forced to light a candle on it and sing happy birthday to her while she had a foam lobster on her head. Ah... traditions.

Cocktail party thumbs up!
Cocktail party thumbs up!

9. In 2011, still near the beginning of our relationship, Rachel decided to host a fancy cocktail birthday party at her apartment at the time (which was really an excellent location for a large party!) We applied new and exciting stresses to our relationship, by visiting locations such as Men's Warehouse (looking for an appropriate suit), hiring a photographer, and inviting in guests from out of town.  Those of you who were there know it was a wild party.  That's because birthdays are so fun!! (Including outfits, food, the photographer, and other sundries, we together spent about $800 on this party, ridiculous. We spent only slightly more on our wedding.)

Nine on the 9th - Pet Edition

All right, y'all, here we go again. First off, earlier this year we mentioned we had some big changes happening around here. One of those changes was Rachel quitting her job and going back to school, which we've already talked about. The other is that Kristl is moving into her own practice space. We're very excited, but it's definitely a time consuming process, so we'll probably be light on the posts for the next 4-6 weeks. Bradley, doped up on meds after his first surgery

1. Kristl adopted Bradley in September of 2006. He was 4-6 years old at the time. He then had to have four surgeries (two on each hind leg) in the first year and a half that Kristl had him.

Delilah likes the fancy things in life

2. Rachel adopted Delilah in 2007 after returning another cat that was so annoying she couldn't get any sleep. She looked at Delilah and thought, "She seems less annoying." and the rest is history.

Bradley resting

3. Kristl has "diagnosed" Bradley with canine sleep aggression. If you bother him while he is resting or sleeping, he will growl, bark, and bite. Back when Bradley used to sleep in her bed (before Rachel came along), Kristl managed to train herself to give him verbal warnings in her sleep if she was going to move or turn over.

Down coats are her favorite

4. Delilah doesn't like boxes, but she does like being under things like tables and chairs. She also likes being in drawers and on top of crinkly things. She absolutely LOVES lying on winter coats.

Drawer cat

5. Bradley does not like it if you talk on the phone. He will cry and whimper unless you pet him while talking on the phone. It makes it difficult to make any sort of professional or important calls from home.

6. Delilah has a white spot in the middle of her back and a tiny white spot on the tip of her left ear. She has a little brown spot on the side of her nose that Rachel thinks makes her look dirty. Her left hind leg looks like it has a bandage on it.

Swimming like a champ

7. Bradley occasionally stopped using his left hind leg at the end of 2012. By the spring of 2013 he'd stopped using it completely. In the fall of 2013, we started him in water therapy. He was supposed to walk on an under-water treadmill, but he was so agitated he kept trying to bite (seriously, every single entry in his chart says "WILL BITE"). One of the awesome vet techs figured out that Bradley would swim without getting nearly as agitated, so we switched to that. At the end, though, the weekly trips were too stressful and we decided to stop for the time being. He is showing some improvement in his leg usage, so it was worth it!

8. If you're crying, Delilah will immediately check on you to see if you're okay. She'll then cuddle up to you and won't leave until you stop crying.

It looks like they might actually like each other!

9. It took Bradley and Delilah some time to get used to each other. Delilah would often swat and hiss at Bradley when he walked by, or Bradley would growl when Delilah walked near him on the couch. Gradually, their aggressions became more and more half-hearted. Now they tolerate each other and mainly look surprised when they realize the other one exists.

P.S. The hardest part of writing this post was deciding which ADORABLE pictures to post with it.  You're welcome.

Nine on the Ninth - True Confessions

We're doing our Nine on the Ninth a little differently this month. Some readers may think that because we try to live a sustainable lifestyle we eschew anything that doesn't fall under the eco-friendly/sustainable umbrella. That just isn't true. It's about choices and education. We make choices that make the most sense for us in a specific moment - based on knowledge, budget, and need. Those choices are not always the most sustainable or eco-friendly. And, honestly, sometimes we're just lazy. So, without further ado, here are nine ways in which we do not always make sustainable choices. (This was also inspired a bit by the Christian lenten season, because, let's be real, this is confessional.) 1. We do a lot of dishes by hand, even though we have a portable dishwasher. Dishwashers have been shown to use less water and energy than hand washing, but we have a number of items that aren't dishwasher safe and we cook so much that we have to hand wash most of our cooking utensils because we're going to use them again immediately. All this is to say, we often use more water than we should to wash dishes. (Excessive water usage is only going to become a bigger issue as climates around the country continue to change.  We may be blessed to have the Great Lakes, but who knows how long they'll be around.)

2. We both have a soft spot for peanut butter M&Ms and they do occasionally jump into our basket when we're at CVS or Target. (Ditto for Kristl and gummy candy.) Eating candy isn't 100% unsustainable, but supporting multi-national companies that benefit from exploiting workers and the agriculture system in the U.S. is not sustainable.

Kristl loves gummy candy (though, to be honest, the gummy tummy series from Trader Joe's is not her favorite)

3. We tend to buy our clothes at national retailers who likely have terrible practices and exploit the garment industry (Gap used to be notorious for this). Though we would like to buy well-sourced, fair trade, organic clothing, a lot of it is out of our budget and/or doesn't suit our needs. Rachel has a little more luck, since there is more available in her size, but there just isn't much out there for Kristl's plus-size needs.

4. Rachel has a habit of putting hot soups directly into old plastic containers, even though she knows that can cause the chemicals to leach out. (In Rachel's defense, the liquids are rarely boiling and it takes high temperatures to release anything potentially dangerous.) What is more of a concern is buying canned vegetables/beans in cans coated with plastic containing BPA (specifically tomatoes, because of the high acid content).  See this article for some legitimate pros and cons.

5. We use more plastic and paper in the kitchen than we would like - specifically ziploc bags and paper towels. Even if you are buying paper towels and plastic bags made from post-consumer recycled products, the best choice here, for all of us, would be to use rags and reusable containers (like Pyrex glass containers).

Seriously, we weren't kidding about using a few too many Ziploc bags (also, it's hard to resist a Costco deal).

6. We have a car and use it a lot, definitely more than we need to. It's a luxury we aren't completely willing to give up, even though we know it isn't the most environmentally friendly choice. We're hoping to decrease our car use with some upcoming changes, but we're not going to get rid of it. Check out this infographic about how wasteful it is to idle your car (which is sometimes unavoidable in traffic or extreme weather conditions like we get in Chicago).

7. We don't always eat well-sourced food. Sometimes we just want some chicken wings and fries from the local bar, and that's okay.

8. We LOVE a good sample. Whenever we go to Trader Joe's, Costco, or Whole Foods, we gobble up the samples (sometimes more than one per person - shh!), even though they're frequently in non-recyclable plastic cups. Even the ones in paper cups are problematic, as they are likely not made out of recycled material and probably won't get composted. And don't even get me started on toothpicks! The best way to get around this would be to only sample the things that are served in a sustainable way (e.g. chips served with reusable tongs.)

9. *GASP* We have thrown away perfectly good containers because they'd gotten pushed to the back of the fridge for months on end and were filled with some unidentifiable substance and we couldn't stomach the thought of opening them. Real talk, though, if you haven't done this at some point in your life, more power to you. (We had to have a friend of ours who works in a hospital to get rid of some former pumpkin that had transformed into a many-splendored mutant multi-organism that probably is still lurking out there somewhere and will start the zombie apocalypse.  Thanks, Ashleigh!)

So, that's it for now, since we're keeping it to nine.  We aren't perfect, we aren't even trying to be perfect or preachy or bastions of sustainability in our community.  We are simply sharing our struggles and successes when armed with knowledge and faced with a global system that has (d)evolved to the point of self-destruction.  Swimming against the current is super exhausting and sometimes we fall back on our old habits simply because they are the paths of least resistance. Our hope, the only hope out there really, is that small changes can help, and that our stories will inspire you to make small changes too, so we can get the current moving in the right direction!

Nine on the 9th

Well, we managed to publish one additional post since our last Nine on the 9th, so that's some progress. As we mentioned last month, we are in quite the transition right now. As things get a little more solid we will definitely fill y'all in on what's going on, but you'll have to just bear with us for the time being. 1. Kristl's right eye is noticeably smaller than her left. It especially shows up when she's smiling. Her family affectionately calls it her "small eye."

Check out that small eye

2. Rachel is went to the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. She got to see a women's basketball game, an archery competition, and rowing. Her aunt and uncle bought her and her parents a brick with their name on it which you can still find in Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta.

3. We take our pets to the Royal Treatment Veterinary Center, a holistic vet here in Chicago. Bradley has received acupuncture, chiropractic, laser, and water therapy for his bum knees. He's currently on a raw diet and we're in the process of trying to switch Delilah to one as well.

4. Kristl loves shopping for school/office supplies. Earlier today Rachel said she wanted to go to Target to get a notebook and Kristl got so excited she teared up. Seriously.

5. Rachel went to Russia when she was 7, just after the fall of the Soviet Union. Her parents took her with them on a mission trip to Latvia and part of the trip was a train ride to Russia. She has visited St. Petersburg and Moscow and was even able to tour the inside of the Kremlin.

6. Recently we have designated Rachel as the bacon cooker and Kristl as the egg cooker in our family, because Rachel cooks awesome bacon but frequently messes up the eggs and Kristl cooks pretty great eggs, but often burns the bacon. This is why we're a good team.

7. Kristl was a swing dancer/lindy hopper off and on for almost 10 years. You could find her out dancing most nights of the week. Unfortunately, she's fallen out of the scene lately (mainly because she likes to be in bed by 11 and that schedule isn't super conducive to social dances). Hopefully she can convince Rachel to take some classes so they can dance together!

8. Rachel used to have a nose piercing. She got it in San Francisco in 2008 and had to take it out when she got her wisdom teeth removed in 2012. She couldn't get it back in after the surgery, but it hasn't been any great loss to her beauty or character.

Rachel showing her curling prowess with the stone (a tea kettle filled with water)

9. We are in a supper club with some friends and the most recent event was in honor of the Olympic opening ceremonies. We each were part of a two-person team representing a country. We chose China and I made flags out of felt and glitter for our outfits. Jess cooked dishes from each of the countries present and made us compete in 4 events. We won the "curling" event (which our competitors attributed to us having taken a Learn2Curl class, but we attributed it to sheer awesomeness) and then dominated in the land skating (like pairs skating but on land, in Jess' kitchen, to a surprise music selection), to everyone's surprise (those years of partner dancing really paid off). We were middling in the other two events (a blind taste test and "Name that Tune" game), but managed to pull off the win.

Victory for China!

Disclaimer: The politics in Russia are horrific and we know there is a lot of controversy surrounding the Sochi games. We went back and forth on boycotting the games, but decided that watching and engaging in discussions about the gross inequities is more our style. Brooke Cartus explained it really well in her blog here.

Nine on the 9th

1. Rachel went to college in Michigan and considers it her second home. She went to Calvin  College in Grand Rapids, and usually visits 2-3 times a year.  The nature preserve at Calvin is where she would get away from busy college life, and it is also where she proposed to Kristl this past August. At the nature preserve at Calvin College, just after getting engaged

2. Kristl did two years at Boston College before quitting to attend acupuncture school. She loves Boston, but hasn't been back since 2002. Hopefully one day she'll be able to take Rachel there for a visit.

3. Rachel has a minor obsession with Stephen King and has gotten Kristl into his stuff as well. Kristl went from having read no Stephen King to having read 14 of his books in the past couple years (including the entire Dark Tower series). She's currently working on The Shining. (Rachel has read 26 of his books, but she hasn't read The Stand, which Kristl has read.)

4. Rachel used to play the oboe (and it's slightly larger and deeper-voiced cousin, the English horn) in high school, and there is a wonderful home video of her flipping her hair a lot before, during, and after a recital.

5. Kristl went to Space Camp in the 5th grade. She served as the pilot of her space mission and was the only girl in her group not placed in Mission Control. There is a home video compilation featuring her awkwardness in all its glory.

Can you handle the Space Camp awesomeness?

6. Somehow we have a knack at getting free food. At least once or twice a month we'll get a dish comped at a restaurant for no reason or our order will be minorly messed up and they'll fix it by bringing us a bunch of extra food. Once we were at a restaurant in Grand Rapids and they comped over half our tab (including Rachel's beer flight!) for no other reason than we "looked like nice people."

7. Rachel ran cross country in high school, but she was almost always the last person to finish. Once she got so lost at a meet that someone had to come find her because she didn't know where the course was. She still runs for exercise, but rarely competes (or gets lost) anymore.

8. Kristl took the ubiquitous ballet/jazz/tap classes as a kid, but really excelled at tap. One day, she found out that Fred Astaire shared a birthday with her and she told her mom that she was pretty sure she had his spirit and that's why she was such a good tapper. (She's not actually anywhere near as good as Fred, though.)

9. We've lived in our apartment for a year and a half and still have a handful of boxes we haven't unpacked and a bunch of pictures and artwork that we haven't hung on the walls. Despite all of this, our home feels rather warm and inviting. (On a related note: Anybody have any hookups for frames? We've purchased a few art pieces that are odd sizes and we don't have the money to get custom frames for them right now.)

We hope to be back to somewhat regular posts in the next few weeks. Things are in a major state of flux right now, but once everything settles, we should have much more time for blogging. You can keep up with us on Facebook until then!

Nine on the 9th

In reading other peoples' blogs we realized that we really enjoy posts that allow us to get to know the bloggers better. So we've decided to start a (hopefully) regular feature called "Nine on the 9th" where we share nine things about ourselves, both individually and as a couple, on the 9th of the month. Let's get started! 1. Rachel's favorite food is pretty much always tacos. She has gone to great lengths to eat at delicious taco joints, both in the city of Chicago and out-of-state. She even has a "Favorite Tacos" list on her Yelp! profile and we made tacos for our wedding lunch!

2. Kristl is from Hawaii, where there is a big car culture. She used to have a list of all the mods she wanted to do to her car to soup it up. That all stopped when she moved to Chicago in 2004. Now she and Rachel share a 2005 Hyundai with a cracked center console and no spoiler.

3. We met in our local LGBTQ community choir, Windy City Performing Arts, in September 2010, but we didn't notice each other until 6 months later when we both got cute, queer-ish haircuts. We didn't actually go on our first date until June, 2011.

4. Rachel is a constant and avid reader and frequently has at least three books going at once. She also is a frequent library-user and forced her host brother to help her get a library card when she lived in Tokyo for 2.5 months.

5. Kristl loves baking (and is really good at it), but she hates eating cake. She has been known to spend hours baking and frosting a cake for someone and then not even try a bite.

6. We rarely watch movies and almost never watch TV, even though individually we used to watch a lot of movies and Kristl in particular would spend hours watching TV. We usually can't name three (or any) movies that are out at a given time. (We did, however, see The Hunger Games in the theatre in 2012. We waited so long to see it that it was only playing in ONE theatre in the entire Chicagoland area, so we drove over an hour each way to see it. We haven't yet seen Catching Fire, and are likely to wait until 2014 to do so.)

7. When she was little, Rachel loved catching frogs, lizards, and grasshoppers in the swamp by her house in Pensacola, FL. As an adult she tries to avoid the aforementioned animals.

8. Despite having lived in Chicago for nine years, Kristl still gets inordinately excited about road trips, big or small. Having grown up in Hawaii, she is just not used to the fact that you can hop in your car and end up in another state. Her road trip experiences have grown a lot since dating Rachel, as they've driven to Florida, North Carolina and Virginia in the past year and a half, not to mention numerous weekend trips to other states in the Midwest.

9. Kristl knew she wanted to have a lifelong commitment to Rachel pretty early on in their relationship, but Rachel took her time. One thing she was adamant about was not having  a long engagement, saying she didn't understand the point. At the beginning of this year, Rachel was pretty sure she wanted to marry Kristl, but thought about it in terms of "five years down the road." Then in late August, she proposed to Kristl, and in early November they got married in Iowa. Guess she got her wish of having a short engagement! (And Kristl got a road trip as part of her wedding! W00!)

Goofing off on our wedding day

Hope you enjoyed this first installment of "Nine on the 9th"! Let us know if you have any questions you'd like us to answer in the future.