Thursday, December 29, 2005

What I'll be doing when not desperately trying to finish the B of M by Saturday

This weekend we are hosting (in order of stress-inducement level, from least to most):

--three kids I'm babysitting. They are easy and it's for a short time.
--Steve's brother. He is easy and self-sufficient and fun to have around, but in serious danger of being bored out of his mind.
--the beloved truck of a guy we know who is out of town. He is paranoid that people will break into it if it's left at his apartment complex, and is only slightly less paranoid that it will be harmed "by the neighborhood kids" while parked in front of our house. Irony ensues: no car has ever been damaged while parked in front of our house before, until this morning when Steve noticed our van has egg residue all over one side of it. (What? Why?)
--a dog while a friend goes out of town. Our friend's admonition: "The only thing is the dog has to sleep in bed with you." Steve's and my identical responses, given at separate times upon hearing this admonition: "Absolutely not! There is no way." Steve also said: "We can't guarantee that the dog will be alive when you come back" and he is seriously a little fearful of this.

So, as you can see, we will be home all weekend, playing host to sundry peeps and vehicles and creatures. Feel free to drop in and say hello and leave something for us to watch after.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve Follies

The day started with a bang when my 2-year-old woke me up asking for his "baba." I went to the fridge and poured him some milk, but he grabbed a glass bottle of Orange Fizzy Lizzy and it slipped out of his hands onto the floor. I, half-asleep, barefoot, with blurry vision, disturbed the sleeping household: "STEPHEN!! Wake up! I need help. I'm bleeding! Wake up!" Shards of glass everywhere, orange soda with no added sweeteners or preservatives, also everywhere. My foot, victimized. My husband, rudely awakened.

Then--all of us still clad in pajamas, and me trying to arrange a last-minute cousins' gift exchange--the cable guy called. "I'm running early. Can I come over to fix your internet connection now?" Um, give us ten minutes. Eight minutes later, dressed, but just barely, we opened the door to find the cable guy AND the cabinet guy who was popping in for some last minute touch-ups. Wow, everyone was working on Christmas Eve, and really early at that. "Oh, we didn't know you were coming. We would have cleaned the kitchen." Kitchen was in drastic state of disarray, what would he think of us? And this, after the bounced check debacle. Cabinet guy didn't give me a chance to find out what he thought of us. He was gone in no time, but cable guy stayed. And stayed and smelled like cigarettes in our bedroom and stayed some more. And didn't end up making one bit of difference for the all-important speed component of our high-speed internet connection. Thanks, cable guy. Here's a holiday tip for ya.

I was wrapping presents mid-morning when I did something really lame. I ran out of wrapping paper. That is lame because last year, after Christmas, I hit Target hard on the after-Christmas sales and bought SO MUCH wrapping paper it would blow your mind. I stored it for a year in our garage, and then early this month, I bundled rolls together and tied them with pretty bows and took them to our friends for a neighborly sort of Christmas gift. Our friends were grateful: they needed more wrapping paper! I felt pretty good about how smart I was and how much money I saved, until I realized that I didn't save any of that great, cute, almost-free wrapping paper for us. Lame, lame, lame. I ended up going back to Target and I bought four rolls of full-price wrapping paper. Lame.

Meanwhile, Steve was inspired by the cabinet guy to finally install our range hood over the range. Really, he got it out thinking that cabinet guy would help him install it. No such luck. Several hours, a whole heckuva great deal of aggravation, and several scratches on our new range later, Steve finally finished, and declared that it was totally pointless, because all the hood does is suck up the steam/smoke/whatever, recirculate it, and spit it back out in your face. Not worth the scratches on our range.

We decided to flee the still-messy kitchen, which was even messier than before what with all the tools and cardboard and instructions lying all over the place. Why not get some lunch somewhere? Maybe some Mexican food. Maybe start a new Christmas Eve tradition of eating out Mexican food for lunch. What do ya know? The dive we have heard so much about and were wanting to try was closed for the holiday. Denny's--Steve's next suggestion--was quickly shunned. (Denny's has the potential to be a major hurdle in our marriage, given the fact that he likes it, and I want to vomit every time I drive by it.) So, we settled on Chuy's. Never been there, always heard of people who went there, knew it was Mexican, why not give it a try? We knew we were in big trouble when we ordered at the counter and they gave us a filthy, mangy huge stuffed pink heart to put on our table so they knew where to bring our order. Um, first of all, I do not want to touch that nasty thing with its probable dust mites and baby barf. Second, you want me to put that on our table where our food will go? Aren't there health code restrictions about such practices? When Steve pulled a long blond hair out of his water, there needed to be no discussion between us: severe germ anxiety was settling in, on both of us, really fast. Our reactions were different, though--I subsided the consumption of my lunch, and waited eagerly for everyone else to finish; Steve kept eating, but grew grumpier and grumpier, taking it out on poor Elliot who just wanted a quarter to get a plastic gun out of the gumball machine thingy. Okay, two quarters, and I would never let him buy a toy gun like that anyway, but Steve was awfully grumpy as he chowed down on his chicken and then, upon finishing, hustled everyone out of the germ-infested restaurant with no chance for a six-year-old to so much as look longingly at the toy gun-machines one last time. Steve made up for it by taking the kids to Dairy Queen. We decided to drive thru, so as not to further aggravate our sensitivities toward restaurant health-code violations, which this particular Dairy Queen surely had, but, hey, ignorance is bliss and what we don't know about employees not washing their hands after they go to the bathroom can't hurt us. Er, yeah.

And thus began our day, this day before Christmas. Things were not looking so bright at our household. Luckily for us, we had a bit of a sweet reversal of fortune: a celebrity sighting, of sorts. Dairy Queen was followed by a quick stop at Home Depot. Steve ran in to buy some parts for that blessed range hood. The kids and I waited in the car, and beheld: parked right next to us was someone who may have been the goat from The Chronicles of Narnia. Without his hoof costume, of course. And he was a little broader in the shoulders than the one in the movie. But Elliot was convinced, so who was I to argue? How many people get to see the goat just doing his thing at Home Depot on Christmas Eve?

A merry Christmas, indeed.

(And a merry Christmas to you.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

True Love. . .Through the Ages (Ahhhhh!)

We're 16, going to see U2.
We're 17, doing what we do best at Sunday night get-togethers.
We're 18, with a funny hair sticking out.
We're 19, yo.
We're 20, and we live on different continents.

We're 21, one week before we get married.
We're 22, and pregnant.
We're 23, and it will take us six and a half more years to get rid of this ugly couch.
We're 24, and living in Tucson.
We're 25, with larger-than-life Christmas lights.
We're 26, and you can call him Esquire.
We're 27, and expecting Boy #3.
We're 28, and this is the only picture I could find.
We're 29, and I am one lucky girl.
We're 30!
Happy birthday, Stephen! I love you!

Monday, December 12, 2005

The good, bad, ugly and completely bizarre of our weekend fishing excursion

Good: My first fishing trip ever! (Not counting the time my mom took us kids to a stocked lake at Neil's insistence. Don't remember catching anything. Or the time last year Steve decided to start fishing with the boys so we bought licences and gear and went to an urban lake in Tempe and the boys' attention span lasted about 5 minutes. Didn't catch anything.)

Good: Very fun extended date with Steve and our funny, classy, wonderful friends David and Jami.

Very good: David and Jami did all the hard work--planned it, made reservations, drove, prepared lunch. It was heaven.

Good: Knew our kids were in good hands. (Thanks, mom.)

Good: Fun game night in a great little two-bedroom apartment hotel room.

Good: An entire, lazy day on a river in a stunningly beautiful Arizona canyon.

Bad: An entire day on a river when the air temp did not get above 39 degrees.

Good: My fabulous sister let me use her really warm ski clothes.

Good: Once in a while the sun came out.

Good: Our fishing guide gave us dirt on the celebrities he has worked with when they come to do fishing movies: Christian Slater=jerk; John Travolta=nice but flaky.

Ugly: Once I caught a glimpse of our fishing guide in his rearview mirror all contorted and had visions of a nightmarish serial killer who at any moment would turn around, get in my face, stick out his tongue and yell "Mwah ha ha ha ha!!"

Bad: Our guide pulled into a cove, dropped the anchor and asked, "Okay, Cookie, what'd you make us for lunch?"

Good: My friend Jami handled being called Cookie very gracefully.

Good: A delicious lunch of apples; mangos; white cheddar, blue, and brie cheeses; crackers; baguettes; olives; roast beef; turkey and salami.

Bad: Okay, I don't like salami.

Bad: I am turning 30 and still have never caught a fish.

Good: An appreciation for fishing as a sport that really does take some skill.

Good: David caught a fish, tossed the line back in, and let me reel it in and get my picture taken with it, so I can fake out my kids like I really did catch a fish.

Completely bizarre: Two Mormon missionaries walking along the highway in the middle of nowhere hitchhiking. We turn around, pick them up, and they are going to visit an investigator on the reservation, but don't really know how to get there. We drive, drive, drive. Finally, "Turn right here." Really, we are dropping them off in nowhere land. They are 45 minutes by car, with no car, away from their next appointment in an hour and a half and don't seem worried about how they'll get there: "Someone will pick us up." It will be dark and very cold in about 30 minutes. Oh yeah, one of them was on his third day of his mission. Hello!? Mission President?? Do you know what these missionaries do every day? Hitchhiking across the vast northern Arizona expanse in the dark and freezing cold?? It was kind of surreal.

Overall, our trip was great! Good food, good friends, good fishing (for some of us) and good fun.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Momentary Lapse of Willpower

Eating peanut m&m's. Lots and lots of peanut m&m's.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lesson plan

p week
picture frame ornaments
police officer
(p)russian chocolate

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Inspired by Neil and Larry (find the hidden hyperlink)

I like to think that if I were to ever run into a famous person, I would totally give that person his space and privacy and not be all rubbernecky and pointing and whispering.

Not so. I am a complete pointer and whisperer, as pathetic as that is.

This summer, I saw this man in the Prado in Madrid:

Only he looked older and maybe had some facial hair and he was wearing a baseball cap. Having never in my life seen a complete episode of any crime drama, I did not know who this person was, just that he was getting a lot of attention from the Spanish school children. I pulled some of them aside and asked, in English, if this guy was on tv there in Spain. Si, si, was their answer. What is the name of the show? Casi Miami was the response. Hmm, that must be some local Spanish show. Clearly this guy with the red hair giving out autographs is an American. If I get the chance, I will strike up a conversation about how that is being an American acting in a Spanish tv show.

I almost got the chance. I saw him a while later waiting for his daughter outside the museum gift shop. I almost walked up to him and started a conversation. But then I saw my mom standing closeby, so I decided to share with her the news that she was standing next to someone famous. I pulled her around the corner and got all whispery and pointy (mind you, I didn't know who this famous guy was) and my mom blurted out, quite loudly, "He is just some average Joe Schmoe!!" There is no question that David Caruso knew we were talking about him. Coolness totally runs in my family.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reason #372 Why I Love My Husband

In the "winter," Stephen gets all geared up every night and sleeps with a ski hat pulled low and a warm sweatshirt. He piles on extra comforters and pulls them up to his chin.

We live in Arizona. Our heat is set at 72 degrees. It is not cold in our house.

Simply adorable.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A serious exercise in restraint

I'm giving up sugar. For now, to see if I can do it. Today, Sunday afternoon nap, I dreamt about chocolate cake and tootsie rolls. Tootsie rolls. I am not a huge fan of the common tootsie roll, but, admittedly, I have been eating a lot of them lately as we made the unfortunate mistake of taking our kids trick or treating at the mall.

Last week I had an unusual experience with the common tootsie roll. I grabbed one out of the bucket of candy and sat down at the computer to pass some time (read: procrastinate folding laundry). It was one of the big ones, with ridges (knobs? rolls? indentations?). It was gone before I knew it, and I needed another one. Must have another tootsie roll. So, being the slave that I am to my sugar addiction, of course I ran into the kitchen and got another large, ridged tootsie roll. This time as I ate it, I got an immediate fix. Sugar coursing through my blood. That may have been the first time I have had such an instantaneous and physical reaction to sugar. Whoa. A sugar high/low right away.

Obviously, I need to get my constant cravings in check. I planned ahead for the best day to start my sugar hiatus: Thanksgiving would be bad because of the raspberry-pretzel-jell-o-cool whip number that I love so much and which I was contributing to the dinner cause. Friday was my sister's baby shower and I knew what delectable sugary items would be served at that. Saturday was the day. So, like any good addict would do, I overdosed on my drug bigtime before I gave it up completely. Friday, at the shower--three enormously huge sugar cookies dripping with cream cheese frosting. Mmmm.

Saturday, I was a champ. I passed on cranberry punch; different, although still enticing sugar cookies; German chocolate cake; cream puffs; donut holes; fruit dip; a king-size Symphony bar with toffee; Pillsbury slice and bake cookies beckoning from my refrigerator; and of course, that ominous bowl of Halloween candy. Seriously, I rock. I still wanted something sweet after my meals, but I went to the fridge and got fruit and ate that.

It's Day 2 of no sugar, and I think I'm still on the bandwagon, although maybe I cheated just a little. After that bad dream I had (man, my body is really craving sugar-- I had no idea), I made some muffins. I was planning on using Sweet N Low for the sugar, but then the darn package said that when baking, some real granulated sugar is still necessary to create the ideal texture and browning effect. So, I used half the sugar in the recipe, and half the sugar substitute. Then, I loaded the muffin with butter and honey. It was manna from heaven. Delicious. A fix for my sugar-starved body.

I'm already planning ahead for this Friday when I will be at a chichi restaurant for Steve's work party and will be offered drinks. Can I get you a Sprite? I'll take water, please. Dessert? Creme brulee? I would like a bowl of fresh berries, please, hold the cream. If that's not available, I'll just sit and watch while everyone else indulges in my favorite drug.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tales of an Inquisitive Neighbor, Part 1

I have a neighbor who is obsessed with me being pregnant.

Which I'm not.

Which, I have not even discussed with her the possibility of such a thing happening in the near future, except for that time last week when she came up behind me at her son's birthday party, stuck her face over my right shoulder and said point blank, "So when are you going to get pregnant again?" and my answer was, "It will happen when it happens," by which, of course, I meant, "This is none of your business. I do not wish to discuss it with you" and which of course she interpreted as, "Emily is taking no action to prevent pregnancy."

So today, she sees me get out of my car wearing workout clothes. She crosses my yard and says, "Exercising, huh? Trying to get in shape before the stress of the baby?"

"Um, what?" I ask. " What baby?"

"My husband and I have been trying to guess if you're pregnant. I have been wrong a few times before, but he can always tell. It must be the glow."

"If I'm pregnant??"

Big smile. "Are you?"

"No. I'm not pregnant. What made you think that?"

"You told me you weren't doing anything to prevent getting pregnant."

"No, I never said anything like that."

"You said, 'It will happen when it happens.'"

"Ahh. I see. Well, I'm not pregnant and I'm not trying to get pregnant," I answer, by which, of course, I mean, "This is none of your business. I do not wish to discuss this with you."

Stay tuned for more inappropriate and invasive neighborly inquiries that are sure to follow. She never lets me down in that department.

Monday, November 21, 2005

"I'm sorry, that side of the Cannon Center cafeteria closed 2 minutes ago and you may not go sit by your friends."

While I was reading Kacy's blog, I was reminded that Thanksgiving is great because it reminds me to use a wonderful expression that ought to be much more widely circulated and understood than it is. And Amy June ought to get a nickel every time someone uses it. The expression is: Indian Feather.

Now, I love my Native American brothers and sisters and I mean no disrespect. "Indian" is a politically incorrect term, and wearing Indian feathers on a paper headband to celebrate the first Americans and their contribution to our harvest celebration is not exactly kosher. And let's not forget the enigma of why the LDS church teaches children to pantomime pejorative actions to a song in a minor key and a steady beat about the Lamanites. That doesn't seem very nice to me, and thank you, Dennis, for pointing that out to me a long time ago. I cannot endorse any of that. What I do endorse is the practice of identifying Indian feathers and calling them on it. That said, Indian Feather is the perfect way to describe what an Indian Feather does.

In short, an Indian Feather is someone (who may or may not be wearing aforementioned headgear) who stringently enforces even the lamest of rules.

My Thanksgiving challenge to you, my readers (that means you, Amye, Elinor, ahc and Neil), is to find an opportunity to use "Indian Feather" in context sometime this week and then return and tell us about it, whether you are the Indian feather, or you are Indian featheritized by someone else.

And then mail your nickel to Amy June.

(For my example, see my comment in Kacy's blog.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lobotomy schlobotomy

Did anyone catch NPR's All Things Considered story yesterday about transorbital lobotomies?

Riveting, disturbing, gross, fascinating, and messed up. That's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Equal time for our firstborn

At school, Elliot has a group of friends with whom he plays chase at recess. During this game, Elliot is a monkey--as in, he channels the powers of a monkey to help defeat his opponents. What are these special gifts? A monkey is "smart, well-skilled, and a free spirit," so says he. How do these apply to the real E? Yes, yes, and sort of. I would say he is less of a free spirit and more of a worrier. But we all agree he is a monkey.

In fact, there is another monkey that comes to mind when considering Elliot's unique gifts.

Elliot is curious. Let me illustrate.

Elliot spent his two weeks abroad this summer exploring an all-too-often overlooked aspect of the beautiful Spanish landscape: trash. He spent his days with eyes on the ground, looking for treasures to collect in his overflowing pockets. At the end of any given day, I would empty said pockets and discover treasures, indeed: broken luggage wheels, rocks, rocks, and more rocks, broken glass, spent subway tickets, business cards, sticks. He also enjoyed exploring the textures of Spain. He wanted to touch everything, running his hand along the length of every rail, acquiring smudges on his hands and shirt at every step along the way.

Elliot is also intellectually curious. His latest matter of inquiry is Harry Potter and he peppers us with questions. What is a goblet of fire? Who put the sorcerer's stone in that dungeon? How did Voldemort get into that teacher's body? Actually, I can't do his questions justice. They are much more advanced than that and leave me stumped most of the time.

He also relishes science and knows better than to ask me. To Steve: Let's talk about physical and chemical changes. Why does fire need to have air? What is the atomic theory? What is that called again when the sun's atoms go together to create gases? Can we watch Nova tonight?

Elliot is also like Curious George in that he can get into unusual predicaments. Like the time he cut right above his eye at 10 o'clock on a Saturday night. Or the time he had to get stitches in a hospital clinic in the Canary Islands after chasing the missionaries down the stairs. Or the time he ended up in the emergency room after swallowing a penny.

Come to think of it, the only times he ever gets into any kind of trouble are from instances of being ungraceful. Hmm. Not very much like a monkey, after all....

Monday, November 14, 2005

Oh, the horror

So now I know why countertop dude is ignoring me.

I just found out that I have written thirteen thousand dollars worth of bad checks. I paid lots of people with obsolete checks that no longer connect to our money market fund. I had run out of checks for this account and found some in the back of a desk drawer. Oops! Come to find out, my money market account managers have changed banks at which they hold my funds and these old checks went to the old place, where my money isn't. Ahhhhhhhhh!

Sorry, my friend the ceiling guy.
Sorry, my friends the cabinet people.
Sorry, countertop dude--but you should have called. I still blame you.

Tears. Lots of tears.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Countertop Dude: Missing in Action

I wish I could have my kitchen sink. And my dishwasher. Why won't countertop dude return my calls? Steve said something funny tonight: "Our countertop dude's last name is Loya. I feel like calling him and saying, 'You're not the only Lawya around here.'"

Speaking of lawyas, we went to a lawyer's house tonight who lives on top of Phoenix. This gentleman, in his opulent digs, says his house is higher in elevation than any other house in the valley. It's just too fitting to argue with. Of course he lives at the top of Phoenix. He lives at the top of the world. Anyway, we met a senator and an Arizona chief justice at this house tonight. We saw many an original piece of artwork--this fellow has a corner on the Greg Olson originals market. We ate steaks that were rarer than we prefer. We came down the mountain and got lemon sorbet and ameretto ice cream at Cold Stone and talked about if we ever want to be that rich. The answer is not so much a definitive no as it is a definitive what's the point? Definitive indifference.

We came home and walked past the bathroom and pretended to not take notice for one more night the pile of dishes collecting in the bathtub. Who really wants to wash dishes in the bathtub? But tomorrow I can ignore it no more, for we have coming over for dinner one gyrating old school fire monkey from the Helaman Halls days, and I must do the dishes before she arrives.

Lest I haven't made myself sound important enough, might I add that because our friends from Washington are coming over for dinner tomorrow, we will not be going to the Phoenix Coyotes game tomorrow and then going for drinks afterward with Wayne Gretzky. Oh, and also because we don't drink. And also because I was once, very recently, told that I could never be friends with rich people and I've really taken that to heart. And also because I don't want to go. But not because we weren't invited.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mahana, you ugly

Ten years ago I would have been too cool for this book club. Back then I was sassy, savvy, opinionated and passionate. I inwardly rolled my eyes at things other people said or liked or did because they were too boring/conformist/ignorant/bourgeois/elitist/racist/judgmental/materialistic/ uninteresting/sappy to make a connection with me. I would have been bored to tears by the discussion of this book: How important are friends to women and to their growth in life? Are you a ten-cow wife? Does life get better as we age? Pul-lease!! Gag me with a pre-printed list of book-club discussion questions. I would have found a way to disassociate my book discussing habits from this collective group of womanly "them." You know, "them," like the "them" that eagerly read every word of every nightly 50-page assignment in high school AP history, and eagerly answered every question while "us" sat in the distant corner and wrote limericks and made up new languages and laughed. "Us" and "them," like the Pink Floyd song. Er, well, I just read the lyrics to that song and I don't know if it means exactly what I'm talking about, but the title really works for how I would have felt about this book club ten years ago.

Today, I am a changed girl. I mostly really like this book club and am only slightly irritated that this month's selection was so obviously written in half a day. That it was written specifically for Mormon women LDS book clubs. That it had no depth. No character or plot development. That no one today wanted to discuss whatever trace of literary element there may have been, but rather chose to stick to those horrid discussion points: If fairies could bestow gifts, what gifts would you wish for your children? Which are easier to raise--boys or girls?

What I did enjoy was the company, at least one of whom is on my list of favorite people and others who are becoming lovely friends. The lunch was a treat: decked out baked potato bar, roll, salad, and chocolate cake with my beverage of choice, water. Getting out without the kids--always fun. Having a reason to make myself read is great. Looking forward to future book selections with more substance, exciting. And it was interesting to listen to how this book actually impacted at least one woman significantly (impact on me: very, very low) as it helped her come closer to terms with her inability to reproduce and the disappointment her two adopted children have become.

So, all in all, my experience of reading this book and attending our book club meeting was a few hours well spent. Here's the book:

Don't read it. It's really lame. But if you do, and afterward want to discuss if friends should always be absolutely honest with each other or what children with challenges bring to a family, I'll only roll my eyes a little. I think I've mellowed and am ever-so-gradually becoming one of "them." And I'm cool with that.

Unrelated post script: Will diana or ahc or someone smart please tell me what to do with commas and quotation marks? I get so confused.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I hope questionable-doctrine-lady doesn't read my blog

There were a few tense moments during testimony meeting yesterday. It's really a liberal policy, if you think about it. Once a month set aside a block of time in your worship service during which anybody can and does stand up and say anything at all. Supposedly the bishop or other presider has the responsibility to monitor and intervene and clarify, if things get out of hand, but have you ever seen that happen? I haven't.

Actually, I was secretly hoping it would happen yesterday. Although I was sending prayers heavenward like the next guy that such-and-such wouldn't go on and on for 25 minutes, like she could very well do, and so-and-so-the-inactive-dude-wearing-t-shirt-and-jeans-and-tennis-shoes (although last week it was a three-piece suit, so you never know with him)-and-who-waxes-bizarrely-philosophical-at-every-opportunity wouldn't pontificate ludicrous doctrine, or swear from the pulpit--sometimes there's nothing better than a really bad run-on sentence--I was also furtively wishing to see the bishop stand up and ask a person to sit down mid-testimony or correct someone on an issue. But, although I could tell the bishop was sweating it while they were speaking, such-and-such and so-and-so both sat down without any major testimony infractions. It wasn't a very Christ-centered meeting. Our friend, the former stake president who is pretty darn near perfect the way I see it, stood up at one point and tried to steer the meeting back to Christ. It was a beautiful and simple testimony and it almost worked to get the meeting back on track. Until...

Questionable-doctrine-lady who tells inappropriate and really winded stories in her testimonies stood up right at the end. Read: squirming, sweating everybody in the congregation. Is this really what we want to leave as a last impression for the visiting non-members in the audience? Is there time for one more testimony at the end just so she won't be the last? But, no. She is taking way too much time and we are already overdue for Sunday School to start. We may as well sit back and learn as much as we can about glam-rock cokeheads.

For that is what she spoke about. And spoke about. And spoke about. Apparently, her testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has to do with the bassist of a metal band called the New York Dolls who had a drug-induced injury (specifically, falling out of a window while beating his wife) and, while recovering in the hospital, converted to Mormonism. This man changed his ways (I'm all about the Atonement, don't get me wrong) and got called to serve in the Family History Library. When his band got together to do a reunion show, he dressed up like Joseph Smith to show the world he was a changed person. I don't know if the world got that message, or not. What I do know is there were way too many details about this fellow and the documentary q-d-lady saw about his life. Too. Many. Details.

My husband was out in the hallway (pretending our son was being noisy, but really preparing a lesson). He heard the testimony about the rocker, but missed the squirming-ness and general discomfort that it provoked. The first thing he mentioned as we drove home after church: "Cool. I want to go see that movie she was talking about."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A simple prop to occupy my time

This one goes out to the one I love.

Woo-hoo, my first html experience ever!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mother of the Year

If ever you find yourself in need of a new mom, might I suggest mine. Just a sampling of what she could do for you:

--drive across town four nights in a row to help you paint--or rather, paint for you--buying needed supplies and refusing reimbursement
--arrange and pay for tickets for you and your husband to see an off-Broadway show instead of going herself
--come to your house to babysit while you are at show because it is easier for you
--take kids to a birthday party while you go to a meeting, then fearlessly brave the dreaded sports picture event at Peter Piper Pizza with a zillion people everywhere and three children begging for tokens
--spend $5 to appease the begging children despite horrendous restaurant noise and crowds
--work her grandmotherly magic to make your youngest fall asleep when you can't do it
--compliment your choice of paint color, when you're starting to doubt yourself
--put your kids to bed
--restore calm
--clean your house
--love your children abundantly

And all this, in just one week's time. Everyone should be so lucky to have her for a mom. Thank you, Amye! You're the best.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Post-Holiday Observations

1. If you're cool and you blog (wait, are those two mutually exclusive??), you gotta have a Halloween post.
2. I am inexplicably drawn to, possessive of, and willing to fight for the Butterfinger bars in the kids' giant tub o' loot. I do not eat Butterfingers at any other time of the year.
3. If you go to the mall for trick or treating, you better like Tootsie Rolls and stickers.
4. Tootsie Rolls + decaying crowns and/or cavities = not a good idea.
5. Painted hermit crabs from the mall kiosk that have been abandoned in apartment complex hallway will attack if approached.
6. Creative costumes are overrated.
7. Sixteen-year-olds who trick-or-treat need to get a life.
8. Sixteen-year-olds who dress up as suicide bombers and push the buttons on the timers strapped to their chests and threaten to blow up your house after they have just taken candy from you are irresponsible and in extreme need of getting a life. (What, you don't like Sweetarts?)
9. Six-year-olds who want to change costumes mid-evening from Spiderman to the "grim reefer", consisting of a scary mask, blanket tied around the neck, and sword attached to the end of the broom, ought to be allowed to do just that.
10. The Grim Reefer is a much better name than the Grim Reaper.
11. Three Halloween parties/events in one weekend are too much for this holiday scrooge.
12. Being a holiday scrooge is an inherited trait.
13. Purple kitchens are dope.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jesus taught the gospel and set the example by the way he lived

Aaron is a sun beam and a Sunbeam. He knew his part for the Primary program the first day he got it. He was ready. Although he's on the wild side sometimes at home, his teachers know him to be among the most reverent in the class, and when the big day came, they sat him in the seat farthest away from them. Naturally. They had Lindsay and Joseph and Katrina to worry about. And don't forget Brooklyn. Aaron would be very well-behaved on his own, at the end of the row. And he was. He said his part flawlessly and Steve and I beamed from the third row on the left. He only knew some of the sign language for "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" and he was behind a beat or two, but that was cute, he was trying. He was making us so proud. Poor Joseph cried through his speaking part because he couldn't see his parents, and Brooklyn stared off into outer space with her mouth open. I'm sure their parents still loved them, and all, but clearly, Aaron was ahead of the curve in terms of Primary program readiness. Not that I'm comparing, just facing the facts. But, alas, the meeting was long, and he IS only four, and oh, about 13 1/2 minutes from the end, the tone started to change in the third row on the left. Our proud smiles faded and Steve and I both sat up straight and tall and tried to catch Aaron's eye to let him know that, no, we aren't supposed to pull our sweaters over our heads while we are singing. Identical raised eyebrows and slight head shakes. No, please don't duck below the rail and pop out over and over again. That piece of hair in your mouth! Where did it come from? Why are you eating it? Oh no, please don't lick the podium, son. Nor should you run your hands along the rail and lick them with flourish. We smiled nervously as people turned around to snicker and share their amused expressions. We sank a little lower in our pew. Oh, darn. The meeting is over? Well, that sure was great. Wow, Aaron! You really knew your part! Run off to class. Don't forget to be reverent.

It was two days later and the bishop walked in as we were finishing up a meeting. He went straight to the primary chorister's husband and congratulated him loudly on the fine job his wife had done with the children's program. I added my praise and compliments and turned to leave. As I walked down the hall, a burst of laughter followed from the room, "ha ha ha.....LICKED THE PODIUM!!.....ha ha ha." I had to smile. That's my Aaron. At least he didn't pick his nose.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I need advice

What color to paint the kitchen?

Our cabinets look like this, with a dark brown finish:

The countertop is this:

The appliances look like this:


Nearby walls are grayish-blue, taupe, and a greenish-brown. So my dilemma is: do I play it safe with another drab neutral and then later maybe cover it with faux brick a la Monica's kitchen on Friends or do I paint it a real color (I'm leaning toward a masculine-y grayish-purple) and risk it looking really tacky and having my sister Sarah say, "I told you so" ? Please give your input.

On a related note, anyone who comes to help paint will be invited to one fabulous dinner cooked in above-pictured range. Mom....?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Isaac: A Photo Essay

He eats sand. He alternates saying, squawking, and shrieking "hi!" to every passerby. He mimics. He picks on his older brothers. He dances.

He beams. He climbs. He fears nothing, except an occasional dog. He calls every man on a bike "dad". He prides himself on getting out of the crib during naptime. He vomits.

He entertains. He hangs with his mom at the Grand Canyon. He unrolls a whole roll of toilet paper to blow his nose. He makes us happy. He looks like his dad. He laughs. He rocks.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Great American Export

Who woulda guessed?

Spam has become high-class Seoul food: South Koreans can't get enough
Barbara Demick
Los Angeles Times
Oct. 23, 2005 12:00 AM
SEOUL, South Korea - Stroll into an expensive department store and walk straight past the $180 watermelon with a ribbon twirled just so around its stem. Don't bother with the tea in a butterfly-shaped tin for $153, or with the gift boxes of Belgian chocolates or French cheeses.

If you're looking for a gift that bespeaks elegance and taste, you might try Spam. While it might be the subject of satire in the United States, in South Korea it is positively classy. With $136 million in sales, South Korea is the largest market in the world outside the United States for Spam. But here, the pink luncheon meat with its gelatinous shell is deemed too nice to buy for oneself, and 40 percent of the Spam sold here is for gifts.

Especially during the holidays, you can see the blue-and-yellow cans neatly stacked in the aisles of the better stores. Koreans are nearly as passionate about packaging as the Japanese, so the Spam often comes wrapped in boxed sets.

"Spam really is a luxury item," said Han Geun-rae, 43, an impeccably dressed fashion buyer who was loading gift boxes of Spam into a cart at Shinseyge department store in advance of the recent Chusok holiday.

Chusok is the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving, the biggest gift-giving occasion of the year here. On this one holiday alone, Korean distributor CJ Corp. estimates, 8 million cans change hands.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Things I Will Not Be Doing at the Arizona State Fair

1. Eating chili fries, Superdogger, fried chicken, deep-fried cheesecake on a stick, taco dog, salmon burger, sausage on a stick, pork chop on a stick, anything on a stick, gyro, meatloaf, fried asparagus, fried Milky Way, apple-filled frybread, frozen banana, frybread of any sort, funnel cakes, deep-fried Twinkies, garlic mashed potatoes, deep-fried Mars, anything deep-fried, curly fries, turkey legs, bratwurst, carne asada, Polish sausage, nachos.

2. Participating in the World Grilled Cheese Eating Championship.

3. Riding the G-Force, "a 75-foot giant-swing with the head-spinning centrifugal force of four-Gs" after any combination of numbers 1 or 2.

4. Attending.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Can You Tell I'm a Little Stressed?!

THEN: Wow! We have a respectable sum of money to put into the house. First we'll remodel the kitchen, then we'll get new carpet. After that, a new garage door, then paint, inside and out. With any leftover money, let's landscape the backyard.
NOW: Forget the other stuff-- I hope we're going to have enough to finish the kitchen. Everything's costing just a little bit more than we'd planned. Okay, a lot.

THEN: Our friend the cabinet guy is so amazing! It only took 5 minutes to measure our whole kitchen. I trust him completely!
NOW: I wonder if we should have communicated with our friend the cabinet guy about what we wanted our new kitchen to look like. Hmmm....

THEN: We are so generous to offer to pay the guy raising our kitchen ceiling more money if it turns out to be a bigger project than he originally estimated. We are so nice, and giving.
NOW: What were we thinking to leave an open-ended offer for more money?! He is sure taking us up on that! The price is quickly doubling and it's frighteningly still open-ended!

THEN: Light wood finishes are so passe. Let's go dark, and then maybe glaze the cabinets black.
NOW: Oh dear, that was an expensive exercise in buyer's remorse.

THEN: It's great that we will have someone working on our kitchen in the evenings from here until who-knows-when. It is a good excuse to get to eat out every night!
NOW: Port of Subs, AGAIN?? McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A, Little Caesars, Costco Foodcourt, Boston Market, Kyoto Bowl---make them go away!!

COMING SOON: Then and Now photos

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Electrocution IS pretty bad

I graduated from college without ever taking any English or math of any kind. Zero. Freshman English? Nope. Calculus, zip. No American Heritage either, which was a required GE credit. In fact, my bachelor's degree in International Relations may be technically phony due to a beneficent grade advanced to me by a certain anthropology professor. You see, I was due to turn in the write-up of my field notes from a study excursion in Namibia, and this professor agreed to let me turn them in post-graduation, promising that when I did he would change my grade from an expectant C to a satisfied A. It's been 8 years, and I'm not making a lot of progress on said field notes. I think about it once in a while, and I believe in following through with what you commit to do, so maybe one of these days, I'll resume the tedious transcription of the dusty tapes buried in a box in the garage that every so often I have to rescue from the garbage pile when my husband decides to spring clean. The word is still out on whether I actually needed the credits from that anthropology class for the required number of credits to graduate. I think I'm good.

So I never took any creative writing classes. This isn't an apology so much as an explanation. I tell stories in an abrupt fashion, as if not to undersestimate the listener's ability to grasp my meaning. When I was 16 I won tickets from the radio to a screening of So I Married An Axe Murderer. You may remember the scene where Charlie and Harriet go out with their friend Tony and his date. They are sharing "there's nothing worse than" scenarios and when it's the date's turn, she says "being electrocuted." They look at her, expecting more, and that's it. That's all she had. And I SO related! That's how I tell stories. Really horribly, with little elaboration.

So enjoy. And leave all the comments you care to eat. It's a super-buffet of dialogue.