Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Single Again

I had to spend the day in Idaho Falls two weeks ago for a class project. Before I left, I made Aaron promise that he would do his homework and feed himself if he got hungry. He promised and gave me a kiss goodbye, and I disappeared to Idaho Falls for several hours.

I got home at 8:30 that night and walked into the kitchen. The once-full pan of rice crispy treats I’d left on the stovetop was now almost empty. I walked down the hallway to the spare room to find my husband hunched over his chemistry book next to an empty bag of tortilla chips and a bowl with some salsa residue in it. When he turned around, I saw that there was a drip of salsa on his shirt. I stated my observation that he hadn’t eaten anything other than chips, salsa and rice crispies since I’d left. He confirmed. He was starving.

After teasing him for a while about converting back to bachelor mode and being a mess when I’m gone (which isn’t actually true), I made us some dinner. We joked about the topic on and off for a few more days, talked about how we’re glad we don’t have to go back to being single, and then forgot about the whole thing.

Aaron left for four days for a school trip last week. I hate being in our trailer alone, so I slept on my sister’s couch, did my homework and hung out with her family for the duration of his absence.

Once Aaron came home, I took stock of my activities while he was gone. I didn’t shower for two days, I bummed food off of my sister, I slept in and stayed up too late, I didn’t change out of my pajamas until 4 p.m. one day, and the one time I did have to cook for myself I ate cold cereal and macaroni and cheese for lunch and dinner.

Needless to say, I’m grateful for Aaron. I’ve never been a bachelor, but apparently I become one when he’s not around.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Box Hero

With the exception of seeing the inside of a packaging warehouse, I’ve never come in contact with as many boxes as we had when we moved in. Each gift we received came in a box. Each item that we bought to set up our house came in a box, sometimes two. Three in extreme cases.

I’ve never had to move large-scale for myself. Every time I’d moved from home to college, college to work, etc. I’ve been pretty minimalistic. I could move in and out in a few hours. Usually, all my things fit into a couple of duffle bags and four or five storage containers, with one or two loose boxes on the side. All of this fit comfortably in a small Buick.

Do you know how big the box a vacuum comes in is? Answer: about the size of a small Buick. Hence, my days of quick and easy moving were over.

After my family came and moved us in, it was up to us to figure out what to do with all the boxes. As we set up the rest of the house, all extra things went into the spare bedroom. You guessed it. All the boxes went in there, too.

Our little spare bedroom was filled, quite literally, to the top with boxes and spare “stuff” for the first week we were in our house. The room was a mess that I didn’t want in our home, so I started sorting things. I tried to fit as many of the boxes into each other as I could, but it was no use. Manufacturers purposely make their boxes just square enough and just oblong enough that, one way or another, they don’t fit inside one another. Now the floor was visible and the room was navigable. Regardless of my success, the tower of boxes remained.

Aaron wanted to use the room as a study, so we went to work organizing more things. He got a Martian death headache and ended up crashing on the couch for five hours, so I kept at it alone. I relocated the tower of boxes to the living room so I could do what I wanted with what was actually supposed to be in the spare room. It ended up looking pretty good, but the tower of boxes still loomed in the living room.

The next day, after we got home from school, I talked to Aaron about my predicament with the box tower. The exchange went something like this:

Me: Aaron, I’m not sure what to do with all these boxes.

Aaron: Why don’t we just throw them away?

Me: All of them?

Aaron: Yes. ALL of them.

Me: But, what if we just have to move again in a few months?

Aaron: We can get more boxes.

Me: (wide eyes - excited facial expression)

One pocketknife, some serious box collapsing and a small roll of packing tape later, Aaron and I had transformed our once-ominous box tower into a harmless bundle. The boxes went to the trash. Organization and space have reigned supreme since then.

Keeping the box tower in our house was just one of several silly ideas I’ve had as a newlywed wife. Aaron has a few now and again, too. I imagine that silly ideas won’t disappear entirely, regardless of how long we’re married. I hope they don’t. When we solve problems for each other, it makes us feel like heroes in some small way.

I guess even newlyweds need to save the day sometimes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Snow Cave

In February, we hit a bit of a “school slump.” Things had been pretty hectic. Aaron’s chemistry and calculus classes had been a pretty big drain on his energy. I was responsible for planning several programs and was sending dozens of emails and placing a comparable number of phone calls every day in frantic efforts to make everything work.

Long story short, we were frazzled, tired and sick of school. Miracle of miracles, it was Friday. I only have one class on Fridays, and one of Aaron’s was cancelled. We held a family council for 11 seconds and unanimously decided we could both afford to miss one class in pursuit of sanity.

So we skipped school. Don’t tell my mom. J

I’m not normally one to flippantly skip class, but this day was special. This was snow cave day.

Many of you might not know this, but in Rexburg, Idaho snow supply is high with incredibly low demand. As a result, you can build a snow cave completely free of charge. This was lucky for us, because we were going to need quite a bit of snow.

Between our driveway and our neighbor’s, there is a big open space that was, at the time, filled with pristine, sugary snow. It was practically begging us to build a snow cave right in the middle of it.

Aaron temporarily stole our landlord’s scoop shovel (don’t worry, our landlord loves us) and started scraping snow from the surrounding area into a big heap in the middle of the clearing. I stayed inside for a few minutes to finish dishes and start on lunch. Very wifely, I know.

By the time I got my snow clothes on and went outside, Aaron had already gotten a mound nearly as tall and big around as my height built up. I’m no professional snow cave maker, so I thought to myself, “The mound is already there…what do I do? Am I too late to take part in this fantastic adventure?”

In response to my puzzled look, Aaron sent me to the car to fetch one of his skis. I was a little confused as to what purpose this served, but I went and got the ski anyway, because Aaron always has a reason for the things he wants me to do.

My assignment was to beat the tar out of our snow cave with a telemark ski. Snow caves have to be packed down and frozen overnight so they don’t collapse when you dig them out.

Though my assignment was simple, it was a little difficult to control where the ski went. I would haul it up in the air and bring it hurtling down toward the top of the cave and it would suddenly end up almost hitting Aaron in the face.

I’m pretty sure I almost killed him at least three times. What an embarrassing headline, “Local Student Killed by Ski-Wielding Wife.” Catchy, but embarrassing. At least now I know how to use a snow ski to defend myself.

To make the situation more ridiculous, Aaron was still shoveling and hitting the snow cave at the same time. Shovels and skis were constantly flying through the air, threatening life and limb. Occasionally our tools would hit or get caught on one another, halting progress. I fell down at least once when this happened.

All the while, our neighbors were driving past, wondering why on earth there were crazy people outside beating a giant pile of snow in the middle of a clearing and falling in the snow.

The explanation is simple, neighbor people. We were taking a day off.

Our cave turned out pretty well and we were pleased at making a three-day weekend for ourselves.

Am I sorry I missed class? No. I feel confident that nothing I learned in class would have been more important than learning how to wield a snow ski in self defense.

I fail to see why they don't teach this skill in school.

Friday, March 11, 2011

First Dinner Party

I made my first roast a few weekends ago. If that doesn’t classify as an important benchmark in the life of a newlywed wife, what does?

I’ve concluded that there are two things that are nearly impossible to mess up when cooking.

The first is casseroles. If you throw shredded potatoes or noodles into a pan with a mixture of other random things and leave it in the oven for 45 minutes, you’re bound for success.

The second is anything you put into a crock pot. You can put things together in a crock pot that you would never dream of putting in your mouth at the same time and somehow, in ten hours or more, it magically becomes a culinary delight.

The third week we were in our trailer, I made a tuna casserole and it made us both a little sick. Maybe it was the tuna. Maybe it was the chef. Either way, my track record for impossible-to-mess-up foods was looking shaky. I admit I became nervous about the roast.

In light of my apprehension, I did what any reasonable newlywed wife would do. I called for my mommy.

Something I learned when I came to college is that mom is the portal to all knowledge necessary for survival in the real world. There are more reasons than I can count, but I’ll share a few that come to mind.

1.      She has every cookie recipe in the universe memorized.
2.      She knows whether or not you can still eat certain things after they’ve been in the fridge for three months.
3.      She can locate anything in any grocery store over the phone, even when she’s never been to that grocery store. From 200 miles away, it still takes her less than 40 seconds to lead me to the deviled ham (or something similarly obscure) when I’ve been searching for over 20 minutes.
4.      She is the MacGyver of cooking. When a recipe calls for eggs, milk, butter, sour cream and brown sugar, and all you have is four cups of flour, tap water and a paperclip, she can still tell you what to do to make it work.

So, obviously, I called mom for roast-making information. Her step-by-step instructions made it sound easier than it could possibly be in reality.

I followed said instructions and left with Aaron for church. It really was that easy.

Three hours later…voila! Actually, it was still raw, so we didn’t eat it for lunch. But our house smelled AWESOME. I felt like the best wife ever.

Since we couldn’t eat it until dinner time anyway, Aaron had a great idea. Have friends over for dinner. So we did. Regardless of the difficulty most people have in finding our trailer, they found us after only one round of instructions. Our friends are smart. That’s why we like them.

I’d have to say, with the combination of making our first roast as married people AND having our first dinner party, this was a fantastic day of benchmarks for us.

Everything went fairly smooth until dinner was almost over. We were all chatting and enjoying just being together when we heard a slight cracking sound and our friend Brent disappeared. For a moment, I was afraid that a hole had opened up in the kitchen floor of our trailer and that we’d never see Brent again.

It turns out that Brent just broke our chair. Once we all managed to stop laughing we got him a folding chair and packed the pieces of my grandmother’s dining room chair to the spare bedroom so we could fix it later.

All in all, a memorable, and extremely funny, first dinner party.

And the roast was fantastic. I feel like an extremely legit wife.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Name Change

Aaron asked me a while ago if it’s hard sometimes to have a different name. I thought about it for a second and responded that it was going to be a little difficult having to work with the Social Security office, the DMV, the bank, the courthouse, the school and seemingly everyone else to get the necessary changes made.

But the logistics of name change had nothing to do with what he was asking me. Because I know and call people by their first and last names whenever possible, many people also call me by my first and (old) last name. He said something like, “You’ve always been Jodi Crozier. It is hard that you won’t get to be Jodi Crozier anymore?”

He went on to discuss that there are certain attributes attached to being part of a family and having its name attached to you. He knows I love my family and that I really value the things that they stand for and have taught me to stand for. Hard work, generosity, faith, dependability, kindness and simply having a sense of humor in the face of life’s ridiculous challenges are just a few.

I could understand now what he was talking about. I’m proud of my family and I’m proud of my old name. He asked again, “Are you sad not to be a Crozier?”

No, I’m not. I loved being a Crozier, and I’ll always be a Crozier. There are “Crozier” parts of me that will never go away. Aaron already sees that by the way I occasionally spurt off a humorous, but slightly inappropriate comment at slightly inappropriate times. That comes directly from hanging out with my dad too much as a small child. He also sees it in the way that I agree to help people even when I know I don’t have time. There’s always time to help people. That’s from dad, too. I’ll always worry about if I’m feeding him enough, if the kitchen is clean enough, if the decorations are homey enough, if I help him enough and if I do nice things for him enough, because I love him. I get that from my mom. Enough is never enough when it comes to taking care of her family.

I’ll try my best to be good at being a Camacho. I’m still learning what it means and we’ll doubtlessly be building what it means for our own little family one bit at a time forever.

I can be just as proud of being a Camacho as I ever was to be a Crozier. And I will be.


It’s easy to forget how fleeting a beautiful Idaho country sunset is.

Fortunately, I’ve recently had the perfect storm of events/lack of skill in my life that presents the opportunity to remember perfectly the speed with which a winter sunset disappears.

My first problem is probably that I don’t plan ahead very well in the “sunset” area of my life. Aaron and I have the privilege of seeing gorgeous sunsets out our window almost every evening. I’ve wanted to share at least one of these sunsets with all of you, perhaps from a secret desire to make you jealous, but mostly just because they’re pretty, we like them and we think you might like them, too.

Each time one of our window sunsets is particularly fantastic, I seem to be in the middle of cooking things that will soon burn or up to my ears in greasy pots, dish soap and water of questionable cleanliness.

I quickly bring the cooking to a close and abandon my dish-cleaning efforts to run out the door in Aaron’s cowboy boots, pajama bottoms and a t-shirt to discover ten seconds later that it is minus 20. I stand in shock for a few moments while my instinct for survival tries to override my desire to take a picture. Eventually, the survival system shorts out, justified by the excuse, “I’ll only be out here for two minutes,” and I dash away.

I scramble over the barbwire fence, curling my toes so Aaron’s boots don’t fall off my feet. I want to take the picture from a certain angle, so I need to cross partway into the field outside our window.

The snow has a crusty layer just thick enough to make me feel comfortable that it will hold me. This is right before it breaks and my foot drives down 18 inches into the softer snow beneath the surface. The snow and I play this little game with every step. It takes me the full two minutes I was planning on spending outside just to make it 10 yards out into the field.

By this time, the sunset is fading fast. I lift the camera with the intent of perfectly capturing the essence of all that is good about where we live to discover that my fingers are too numb to push the buttons. My instinct for survival says, “I told you so.”

Once the button finally presses down, the camera doesn’t take a picture. After shaking it gently and turning it in different directions, I see a yellow light flashing on the front, indicating that it’s set on “timer.” By the time I realize what’s going on, I hear the click of the shutter and end up with a blurred picture of my own confused face.

After the timer realization comes the realization that I don’t know how to change the setting. So I point and shoot, holding the camera still for 10 seconds, waiting for a picture. By the time two pictures are taken, the sunset has vanished, along with all heat from the sun and all feeling in my arms, legs and their attached digits.

I drag my feet back through the snow, crawl over the barb wire fence and make my way back into the house. Aaron looks up from whatever he’s doing and smiles just a little. His raised eyebrows ask, “How did it go?” I answer by handing him the camera, which holds one picture of my own face, upside down, and two black pictures with orangey-purple smears in the middle.

Better luck tomorrow night.


Being married has given me, with reduced time dedicated to socializing, more time to reflect on things.

Being married has also turned out to be an extreme practice in the humbling of Jodi, which I was expecting and am thankful for. Something I didn’t expect, however, was to be humbled by so many other things in planning a reception, opening gifts, etc. As I look back, it is absolutely incredible to me how good people were to us.

Aaron and I were both heavily involved in school, church responsibilities and trying to take time to get to know each other better before we entered into this crazy establishment they call marriage. I had little time to spend planning a wedding, and I realize now that I didn’t spend much time. Almost everything for the most important day of our lives was taken care of by other people.

My parents made extra trips to our little college town to work out wedding details and they paid for dresses, refreshments, flowers and a million other little things I’m sure I don’t even know about.

Dad broke several ribs a few weeks before the wedding and definitely wasn’t fully recovered by the time it rolled around. But he was there for the whole thing, and no one ever heard him complain. All things considered, it’s probably just because he likes Aaron so much…

Mom spent hours looking for clothes in the color sage for the bridesmaids and made dozens of trips back and forth looking for things I wanted. She also put up with the fact that I was too busy with trying to survive school to care about planning a wedding approximately 80 percent of the time.

My sisters planned and executed my bridal shower, made my wedding flowers, hot glued stars, ribbons and berries onto everything imaginable to make centerpieces, ordered little girls’ dresses, hunted down our relatives and friends to make address lists, hand dipped pretzels in chocolate and baked cookies and Bundt cakes for our refreshments.

Aaron’s parents paid to fly the family into Twin Falls so everyone could be there. They also paid for all our food and lodging on our honeymoon. After the honeymoon, they flew us into California where they drove us to and from the airport, arranged a nice open house for us, took us fun places, fed us, entertained us and put up with us even though we’re crazy. His mother, grandmother, aunt and cousin even made an extra trip to Jerome for my bridal shower on Thanksgiving weekend. The weather was miserable. They were troopers anyway.

What’s incredible is that this is only a small fraction of what went on. Dozens of people brought cards, appliances, homemade art for our walls, mixing bowls and a smorgasbord of other house wares that I don’t have time to name. For weeks after our wedding, cards and packages continued to arrive in the mail, some of them from people we don’t even really know. Yet, they were generous and happy for us simply because they knew our parents or were associated with us in some other unknown way. All of these people took time from their busy schedules to do something for us when, more often than not, we knew we’d never done anything for them and probably never will, other than sending a thank you card.

When we returned to Idaho from California and prepared to move into our trailer, my dad informed us that they’d found us a used washer and dryer, which they bought and traveled three hours to deliver for us along with a couch, a piano and several other pieces of furniture that are currently on loan from them. My oldest sister and her little family came to help move us in and my brother-in-law, our landlord and his son helped lift the piano through the back door of the trailer.

It was a humbling lesson in generosity for me. Generosity and the fact that we really can’t make it through this life alone.

We owe so much to so many, and no thanks could ever be adequate. Some of those who helped us with the wedding and starting our new home are people we’ll never see again. Others are still in our lives every day, continually helping us with little things here and there, expecting nothing in return. Sending notes, helping where we can and simply saying “thank you” seem to be the only actions we can really take at this point to pay back people who refuse to be paid back.

I look to all of their examples, excited as each new day begins to help someone in some small way. As I mentioned, thanks can never be adequate for all everyone has done and will doubtlessly continue to do, but I’ll try anyway.

From the very bottom of my newlywed heart, thank you.

And, for your information, my newlywed heart is pretty big and goes down deep.