Sunday, November 30, 2008

The One With 50 Before 50

I was just on someone's blog who posted a "30 before 30" list. Intrigued, I began reading it, and realized that it was 30 things she wanted to do before she turned 30. Ick! That made me face the fact that not only is it too late for me to do that, but it is also too late to do a "40 before 40" list. The next horrifying step was to realize that I would have to do a "50 before 50" list. It just keeps getting worse.

At least I would have six years to complete it. But 50 things. I see that to complete 50 things, I would have to make some of them really easy, like "Run a mile without stopping." No, how about "Walk a mile without stopping." or maybe "Walk a mile without stopping more than six times." And honestly, I might have to cheat a little... I could pretend the things had been on my list all along, and check them off, like, "Have gray hair," "Start a blog" or "Spend eight years of my life lactating." See where I'm going with the cheating thing?

I read through her 30. One of them was "natural childbirth." And she had it checked off. Hats off to her. I came out of childbirth classes in my first pregnancy determined I was going to have "natural childbirth." I even read "Thank You, Dr. Lamaze." It was very enlightening. I thereby learned that it is possible to have painless childbirth, and that all the pain that people talk about was really just muscular exercise being misinterpreted. It made it sound a lot like doing abdominal crunches. I'm pretty good at those, so I felt pretty good about my chances. On November 26th of that year, when my baby was two weeks late, I had labor induced. My doctor was an enormous Polish man, with fists like hams. The first thing he did was rupture membranes, before he even started pitocin. There was blood dripping off his elbows by the time he was done. After eighteen hours of pitocin, when I was still only dilated to one centimeter and I could hear people whispering about a C-section, I was done. Bring on the epidural. I don't care anymore. And I have to tell you, that epidural was like a miracle. I was actually able to fall asleep for a few hours. I woke up about six hours later. It was November 27th, and guess what! I was fully dilated and ready to push. (By the way, happy birthday, Josh).

So with the next baby, I figured things would go much smoother, and I could do the whole natural thing. No drugs. Well, I had pregnancy-induced hypertension and was rushed in to be induced again. I was being carefully watched because they were afraid I would have seizures, and the labor went faster. At two centimeters, I told the nurse I didn't need an epidural, and so the anesthesiologist went home for lunch. About midway through his PB&J, I hit five centimeters, and I wanted an epidural so bad that I tried to get up and drive to his house, despite the gown that opened down the back and would not cover my hugely pregnant body. By the time that guy got back to the hospital, I was already curled up like a cat, ready for the needle. What does an epidural feel like? I like to think of it as being curled up in front of the fire on a cold night. A little piece of heaven. If I remember correctly, I may have named Tyler after him.

Third baby, I had learned my lesson. I told the doctor I wanted an epidural at three centimeters. I made sure the doctor had lunch brought in. By the fourth baby, I didn't even wait to tell the doctor. I told everyone I saw in the hospital that I wanted an epidural. The financial clerk at check-in was informed. I chatted up José, who wheeled me up to the LDR, to make sure he knew that I would be wanting an epidural as soon as possible. As the nurse started my IV, I told her I'll take that epidural now. Mind you, I wasn't even in labor at that point, since I was induced all seven times. Oh, and I also learned that the anesthesiologist would always ask you how you felt. The answer is, "Oh, it hurts bad." See, his goal is to keep the drug light enough to make sure you can still push when the time comes. However, my personal goal was to have absolutely no sensation from ribcage to knees. For several hours. Sometimes our goals were at cross purposes, so the answer to his question was always, "Well, it still hurts pretty bad. Let's have a little more juice."

Obviously, natural childbirth will not be on my list of 50 before 50. I also don't want to go in a hot air balloon. Or learn to cut hair, or build my own house. Or pretty much any of the other things on her list. Which is as it should be, since it is her list. Honestly, I'm not sure I want a "50 before 50" list. I have 50 things to do just this week, that I don't really want to do at all. I am getting tired just thinking about it. If I do make that list, I am afraid it is going to have things on it like "Get a pedicure," "Find the floor of my laundry room" and "Figure out what is making that smell in the refrigerator." Sometime before I am 50 years old. And you know what? Life is just too short to bring such low expectations to it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The One Where Goes She Goes Off On Safari

Two weeks ago I took my sweet little laptop to the Apple store because Safari, the internet browser, would not work. E-mail, check. iTunes, check. Internet browser, FAIL. They tried re-installing programs, re-installing the system, and those didn't work. So they replaced the internal hard disk. They said that would solve the problem. So on Monday morning I picked it up right when they opened. I brought it home, opened it up, and there was a welcome 36 different languages. Velkommen to your new hard disk... that was a very, very bad sign. It meant there was nothing on the hard disk. No data whatsoever. I'm not going to lie...I actually cried. DK was standing by, and he immediately called the Apple store, and miracle of miracles, they had all my data. We took the computer right back there. They said it would probably take about three hours to put it all back.

It didn't. It took 48 hours, and even at that, they were not able to put back the programs, just the data files. I was okay with that, since they saved my files. So this morning I brought the computer home, opened it up, and guess what doesn't work? SAFARI! What did I just go through this for the last two weeks for? The original problem is STILL THERE!!! (Sorry about the exclamation points. Let's just say that with all the frustration, I've fallen off the wagon).

Without any internet browser, I didn't even have a way to download an alternate internet browser like Mozilla Firefox or Netscape. I did finally come up with a plan. I asked DK/KH to e-mail me the installation program. It was 17 megabytes, and I didn't think it would even e-mail, but about 30 minutes later, there it was in my e-mail...and guess what! It worked. I am browsing... in Firefox. I don't particularly like it, but at least I am online. I am going to have to psych myself up for another round with Apple before long, but for this weekend at least, I am OFF Safari, and on to greener pastures.

And I didn't even have to go get a hobo finger. Hobo fingers are actually a little hard to come by this time of year. Hobos are better fed around the holidays, and the mortality rate drops slightly. I know... hobo fingers... pretty random, right? This is one of my favorite posts from the Bloggess... check it out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The One With the Screaming Slingshot Monkeys

I apologize that I don't have a lot to say, but I realized that I had better post anyway, if only to keep bored people from composing off-color limericks in my comments section. Besides, you may have noticed, my "About Me" says "Quantity, not quality." I take that very seriously.

So...I am pretty excited right now. I won six screaming slingshot monkeys over at Della Hill's place! Della has a very fun blog. You should check it out: The Life and Times of Della Hill. Those monkeys have haunted my dreams for several days now. I have always thought it would be great to adopt some kids. Seven just isn't enough. However, DK/KH said no. That is why we have the missionaries. It is the next best thing. But I believe that these sweet, albeit loud, little monkeys, are really going to fill a void in my life. There is no such thing as loneliness when you have a whole litter of screaming slingshot monkeys. My only regret is that they couldn't join me on this trip. They probably could have helped to keep me awake on the drive.

Oh, and I was issued a challenge on Lisa's blog (Here's the link...but I'll warn you, it's not for the faint of heart). If you want to cruise on over there, you can read it in her words...but basically she offered me 50 bucks if I could bring her back some jerkey that was neither beef, pork, turkey, chicken or salmon. Easy peasy, Spice, ready your wallet... In fact, I am bringing you back both buffalo and elk jerkey. I am working on the trucker hat... from an actual trucker. Ewww.

Since I'm here, I may as well tell you a few not-so-interesting facts about Oregon. 1. They still have Birkenstock stores. Isn't that awesome? 2. They are rabidly "No on Prop. 8," even though that is a California ballot initiative. 3. You know those Harry & David catalogs that you get in the mail, where you can buy the Royal Riviera Pears? They are located here, and it was a seriously fun store. I even bought a couple of Royal Riv pears. 4. Here in Medford, they consider California people "hicks." Having grown up in the town just over the border in California, I sort of get that, but it is still amusing. 5. They still have full service gas stations, if you even remember what those are.

So tomorrow I'll be on the road. If you have any good suggestions for places I should stop, or just want to say hi while I'm driving, I'll be dropping a couple of posts, so be sure and check in!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The One About the Wet Stucco, or Her Quest For a Postcard

I was just going to be all mysterious about the wet stucco, because it is really a fairly lame story, but Pete, this one's for you. I stopped in SANTA NELLA, which is the town with "whatever the heck travelers want" or whatever their misrepresentation of a motto is (which location, by the way, no one guessed except my mom), and the Skipster and I went to three different truck stops looking for a single non-offensive, missionary-appropriate postcard. Do you think they would have anything like that? No. The answer is no. No they do not. They had pornographic magazines, model semi-trucks that were so large they might have been 1:4 scale, Dr. Phil CD boxed sets, cigars from a vending machine, "fresh" almonds with an expiration date from 1995 (I actually bought those, because on Tuesday Bob from The Biggest Loser said that I need to keep "power snacks" handy. He recommended almonds. It was an unfortunate mistake, as I didn't look for the expiration date until after I actually ingested some of the almonds), as well as all kinds of really cool auto parts for very large vehicles. I was informed by Manny, Moe and Jack at each location that no one sends postcards anymore. They just e-mail. Thus the free Wi-fi. Thanks guys.

Now I have spent 30 minutes searching for a postcard. I didn't want to stay any longer in that armpit of a pit stop, so I crossed the freeway and drove to the Ramada Inn in the picture (which does, indeed, have a guitar-shaped swimming pool. I know, because I have swum in it). Skippy and I got out of the car and walked up to the front entry. There was a maintenance man taping off pillars, and there was a big sign that said, "Please Pardon Our Dust. We Are Remodeling, Expanding and Modernizing." Awesome. We peered in, and it didn't look promising, but I was on a mission. I had to find a single postcard. Non-offensive was becoming negotiable... and shocker! The girl at the counter said, "Yes, right here. They're free." At this point I should have stocked up, since I would not find another postcard the rest of the day. But then for the next four days, Elder H would be getting the same Ramada Santa Nella postcard.

So I walked out with my prize. I triumphantly affixed my See-Threepio stamp, and then stood next to the USPS box right outside the hotel, addressing furiously. I looked up, and saw that Skippy, being the adventurous boy that he is, had scaled to the upper wall of a long bench-like shelf that ran around the whole courtyard. The level he was standing on dropped off about six feet straight down behind him, so I dropped the postcard and ran to help him step down. I told him to play on the bench part while I finished the card, and I sat down beside him so I could do just that. But I set my hand down, and the stucco bench was wet. My hand was covered with a light brown goo that was sort of a cross between paint and concrete. Ahh, a perfect match for my pants. Skippy had been playing all over the wet stucco, and now it has my butt print. Thanks, Ramada. And here is a sign for you: "Please Pardon My Butt During Construction. I Am Currently Remodeling, Downsizing and Modernizing."

The One With the Roadtrip, Part 3

Yes, I have arrived. It is wet here, and really beautiful with all the fall leaves that we don't get in Orange County. Thank you for joining me on the trip. It was very memorable. It is interesting to snap pictures, upload them, find Wi-Fi almost anywhere that has a little girls' room, and blog in minutes. Weird, right? Thanks to Lisa for loaning me the laptop-o-saurus, since she is right and apparently I need to get a hobo finger to operate mine, as I have killed it for about the third time this year. Thanks to Jamie for making a valiant attempt to out-comment Lisa. While it was a futile attempt, it was strangely touching.

I think I need to clear up one thing. First of all, the "truck driver" who took the bum picture was actually Skippy. And no, he is not going to need therapy because he had to take a picture of Mommy's butt; I asked him to take a picture of Mommy's whole back, and then I cropped the rear for the blog. I actually did not become overly familiar with any fellow travelers, except maybe Gladys and her husband (whom I hope safely reached their destination several hours ago, since they were clearly not equipped to drive in the dark). God Speed, Marty and Gladys!

The One With the Bum Picture

Yes, this is my rear end. It's a long story, but I sat in wet stucco. I know, huh? I'm driving hundreds of miles in a car, so how did I sit in wet stucco? It is not my fault. Skippy actually tricked me. I'm not going to talk about it anymore. These were my most comfortable jeans.

You still haven't figured out where I was with guitar-shaped pool? Hmm. I'll give you a big hint. It has a Spanish-sounding name. That should narrow it down.

So I have been playing car tag with this old couple for the last hundred miles. Grandma is driving, which is a sure sign that I should give them a wide berth. Oh, and they're both wearing those giant wraparound sunglasses--you know the kind--they are post-eye-surgery glasses, guaranteed to screen out every last unwanted ray. Every time they pass me, they turn to stare, and then look at each other. I can almost hear the conversation. "GLADYS, we keep going by the same people. Are you sure we're not lost? We must be going around in circles!" Yes, Grandpa, you do keep going by the same people. But it's just me, playing a cruel trick on you. Psyching you out with my cruise control.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The One Where She Sings Backup for John Mayer

Not very many people know this, but I have a really awesome singing voice. One of the best things about driving on the freeway without the whole family in the car, is I can listen to my music as loud as I want, and sing along, while Skippy can enjoy his movie with headphones. I sound so amazing singing with John Mayer, that if he heard me he would ask me to sing with him for his concerts. Other motorists agree. Although, in the interest of honesty, I will have to say that at 75 miles per hour, I can't be exactly sure that was what that guy was trying to communicate to me. (Sorry, DK...did I say 75? I meant 65! Love you!)

Anyway, I am pretty darned good. I wish you could hear me. But you can't. And the reason is not really what you think. It is actually because I think I might possibly be a vampire. I am sure you are thinking right now that that is a pretty big leap of logic, but hear me out. First of all, I am quite pale. And I often get my days and nights mixed up, to the point that I could sleep pretty much anytime. In fact, I could totally use a nap right now. I have sort of prominent canines. But here is the kicker: When people take pictures of me, it totally doesn't look like I appear in the mirror. They turn out way fatter, for one thing. And audio recordings of my voice also do not work. I sound so awesome in person, and on a recording, it is like some horrifying, otherworldly version of me. Or it could be that the "Twilight" movie is coming out tonight at midnight and I have that on the brain. Either way, you will not be hearing a recording of my voice. But if John Mayer were to go on a road trip with me, then we would see... Oh, and taking my logic to its next logical step, isn't it good to know that, despite appearances, John Mayer is very likely not a vampire? Probably can't rule out werewolf.

The One With the Guitar-Shaped Swimming Pool

Well, it is only 10:00 a.m., and I am already in... ? You have to guess. Clue: Deep in the heart of lovely Merced County. (Merced meaning mercy in Spanish... as in they mercifully have an In 'N' Out) Actually, I might consider In 'N' Out, but Skippy and I are still full from our lovely breakfast of homemade apple crisp which we enjoyed at the scenic rest area conveniently located practically on the grounds of beautiful Pleasant Valley State Prison (who thought that was a good place to put a rest area? Genius). Which led me to ask myself...these Caltrans workers cleaning the bathrooms... are they supposed to be wearing orange jumpsuits? Oh, back to the clues. Hotel with a guitar-shaped swimming pool. Their motto is "Everything For the Traveler," which I decided to put to the test, as I was in search of free internet and postcards. Postcards, you ask?

Not to talk out of school, but there is a certain missionary living in my house who is what I will call "postally challenged." Having a dry spell. Sans mail. His condition is complicated by the fact that his companion has probably gotten 30 or 40 letters since the last time he received even one. It is his own fault, for not coming out on the mission without any girlfriends. I mean, he could at least be getting "Dear John" letters. But despite the fact that he got himself into this mess, Skippy and I are on a mission of our own... we are going to mail him a postcard from everywhere we stop today. I have a wallet full of postcard stamps, and I'm not afraid to use them. Our challenge is to find postcards at truck stops that are not morally offensive (the postcards, not the truck stops. okay, maybe both). We'll keep you "posted." Sorry, that was low...

The Rehash Episode, With a Bonus

Do you know what I mean by a rehash episode? It happens frequently right before the holidays. You is when the network teases you all week that your favorite sitcom is All New. You tell the kids to go brush their teeth and say their prayers and whatever you do don't bother mommy, and you settle in with your twinkies and Diet Coke for 24 minutes of pure escapism, interspersed with 39 commercials. And then it happens. It usually comes in the form of a dream sequence or series of flashbacks. It is the rehash. They didn't want to pay all the actors to come in this week, so you get one or two main characters who keep remembering all the stuff that has already happened. The Twinkies turn to sawdust in your mouth. You feel cheated and defeated. If you had wanted to watch what already happened, you would just jump onto your computer and watch them all over again on Hulu, right? (The photo is from the Dream Sequence in the movie "Vertigo." It really says it all.)

Well, the holidays are coming up, and sorry, but I have decided to rehash and recap. I'm Victoria. This is my blog. I have six sons and one daughter. I am a musician, a photographer, a Domestic Goddess, and (this part is new... even in a rehash episode, you always have to throw in a little All New material...) I shoot a pretty mean free throw. If you look back through my old posts, you will find that I have ingeniously figured out how to embed mp3 files in my posts, and you can hear some of the songs I have written. Shameless plug: I'm working on recording a cool Christmas one, that I will post early next week, so don't forget to check back to hear it.

Now, pay attention... this part really is All New. Tomorrow I am making a 14-hour drive to Oregon to pick up my only daughter from Grandma. DK (Darling Kevin, also herein referred to as KH, or Kevin Honey) cannot make the trip, as he has to stay and work to keep us hip-deep in whole wheat. I know. You are probably worried about me right now. Don't be. I should have been a trucker. I love driving long distances with nothing but Skippy, Excedrin and the sound of Kung Fu Panda to keep me awake. But just to keep things interesting, I have plans to blog several times while on my trip. The route up I-5 from Orange County to Oregon could be considered long and uninteresting. Unless you love agriculture. Imagine... a personally guided tour through the garlic farms of California. But have no fear. Skippy and I will find some fun on this trip.
Do me a favor and check in tomorrow and leave me some comments so I don't feel like I am traveling alone. Here is the bonus: If you comment on my blog while I am driving along, I will enter you in a drawing for a loaf of whole wheat bread and a jar of Knott's Boysenberry Jam. Don't worry... I won't bake it until I get home, so it will be nice and fresh before I mail it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The One With the Domestic Goddess

I know. The term Domestic Goddess has been tossed around a little too freely. But I am the real deal. Fact: I sew. Fact: I make an amazing pie. Fact: I knit, crochet and even cross stitch (who does that?). Fact: I can milk a cow (okay, so that is more agrarian than domestic, but let's call it extra credit). Fact: Twice (since 1984) I have been completely caught up on washing, folding and putting away laundry (cut me some slack... I have seven kids, for goodness' sake).

Since I'm feeling confessional, I'll just put it out there...I am not a great housekeeper. However, I am something better. I am very discriminating when it comes to good housekeeping. Let me give you an example: I can go to my friend Lisa's house, look around, rub my nose and cross my arms, and say, very seriously, "Wow, Lisa, your house is really clean." And do you know what? I will be right, every time. It is very clean. Can you see how having good taste in clean houses is actually better than having one's own house be clean all the time? Much more versatile. And consider this: Would you rather have a spotlessly clean house, or a cookie jar that is always full of some seriously decadent cookies? I rest my case.

Having rejected good housekeeping as a valid criterion for Domestic Goddess status, let me offer my most compelling evidence: I make bread. I don't just "make bread." I. Make. Bread. I have not bought store-bought bread since last January of 2008. Every two to three days I turn out three perfectly formed, incredibly fragrant, wholesome loaves of lovin' from the oven. Why do I do it? It is not to defend my title of D.G. Rather, I figured out that: a) I can make three loaves of incredible whole wheat bread for approximately 55 cents. That is not per loaf, that is for all three. In a house full of teenage boys, that is practically free food. b) My house always smells amazing (not like Mr. Clean, but even better). c) I can have the dough rising in the oven in less time than it takes me to find my car keys and my shoes and drive to the store to buy a five-dollar loaf of bread. d) Since I have started making the bread, my whole family has discovered that our previous favorite, Orowheat Country Potato Bread, actually has a strange chemical smell. We weren't able to smell that before, but now even Skippy won't touch the stuff.

I am not a jealous goddess... I am willing to share with anyone who would like to join me here at the top. Therefore I am including a link to my Six-Minute Magic Bread recipe, which I have developed over the last year. It is simple, delicious and makes fabulous sandwiches. I wish to warn you, however, that you have to pay your dues if you wish to become a D. G. Your bread will likely not turn out perfectly the first few times. It is an art, not a science. But it is worth it. If you decide to get serious, invest in some heavy aluminum non-stick one-pound bread pans from Williams-Sonoma. Also worth it. So put on your high-heeled shoes (you know the ones) and buy yourself one of those sexy, 50s-style aprons... every true Domestic Goddess deserves one.

Victoria's Six-Minute Magic Bread

Friday, November 14, 2008

The One With the Quirks

A friend of mine listed some of her quirks on her blog, so I tried to think of some of my own, and was coming up blank. I think it was some sort of traumatic memory block, because as soon as I thought of one, they started to pile up quicker than (insert colloquialism here--fleas on a dog, zits on a fry cook, leaves in get the picture. I am not from the South, so my 'isms are kind of lame). Now I can’t stop. A quirk should not be confused with a peeve. Pet peeves are those things about other people that bug you. In fact, I have actually given up all my pet peeves, since I realized how many quirks I have, and that my friends seldom mock me for them. Here is a small sampling of the quirks that I will admit to having.

1. I adore infomercials, and I want to buy anything I have ever seen on one. I know it is not logical, and no, I don’t believe everything I see on TV. But just the thought of a Pompeil pasta maker and a Maxiglide (do you see the genius here? a hair appliance that sounds like feminine hygiene?) has me reaching for my credit card right this minute.

2. I’m scared of doctors and dentists. Especially dentists. I’ll take a pelvic exam over an oral any old day. I would elaborate more on this quirk, but I find that I am beginning to sweat excessively just thinking about it… so, enough said.

3. I love using exclamation points. I have to go through my writing when I am done, and take most of them out. Each time I replace one with a period, I feel a stab of regret. A single tiny dot doesn’t adequately express what I want to say.

4. I’m not very good at talking on the phone. I have to force myself to return phone calls. Please know that if I returned your call, it was a sacrifice of my personal comfort. I really had to dig deep. If I didn’t return your phone call, then you sacrificed for my personal comfort. Thanks for taking one for the team.

5. I hate sad movies and books. I used to love them. When I was younger, I would watch “Terms of Endearment” and “Steel Magnolias” just to wallow in the tragedy of it all. At some point I realized that there is enough sadness in real life, without having to borrow it from entertainment. I don't really need to see moms dying from wasting illnesses and leaving small beautiful children to be raised by their fathers. Now I still like action movies. “Quantum of Solace” comes out tonight! (sorry, but that exclamation point was warranted) Now if I were holding onto any of those pesky pet peeves, I would probably have some sarcastic remark to make about that movie title right now. See? I have let them all go.

6. Apparently I have this funny expression I make when I look in the mirror. Let's call it Blue Steel. (compare my photo with Derek Zoolander's) It’s kind of a lip thing. My kids love it. Give me a break, guys...I'm really not trying to do Blue is, no doubt, a subconscious attempt to make my reflection look skinnier.

7. I can’t stand ants… in fact, I can smell them when they are nearby. No, I am not crazy. I looked it up, and they really do have an odor. The smell is actually formic acid, which is produced by their little ugly ant bodies. An anthill is sometimes called a "formicary" (I thought that was where you could buy generic medical prescriptions--who knew?). If Wikipedia says it, then it must be true. Creepy creepy creepy.

I’m sure that my really good quirks are ones that I a) don’t know about, or b) can’t quite admit to. If you would like to add a quirk that you think I should have included, please feel free to leave a comment. I know where the delete button is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The One Where You Get to Have Dinner With Rob

Here is the menu for tonight, by special request: Cedar Plank Salmon, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Pizookies for dessert. These are a few of Rob's favorite things...and Rob was one of our favorite missionaries...

Of course, I feel somewhat obligated to sauté some green beans to serve with the meal...or maybe some oven-roasted asparagus. You have to have a vegetable, right? Potatoes don't count. Click on the link below to download the recipes.

Never heard of a pizookie? It is a giant cookie served in a deep dish pizza pan (thus the "piz" part of the "ookie") hot from the oven, topped immediately with scoops of ice cream, and eaten straight from the pizza pan with your friends. Or all by yourself, if you have had a bad day. It is guaranteed to make you feel better, or your money back.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The One With All the Questions

A lot of people call me for answers. How do I make pulled pork? I get a lot of cooking questions. How should I lose weight? Easy: don't make the pulled pork. My husband said __________ (fill in the blank). What do you think? I almost always agree with your husband, unless he is an idiot. What should I send my son for Christmas? How much roast beef should we buy to feed 300 people at the Ward Christmas Party? Do you have the sheet music for "In the Hollow of Thy Hand?" Insert eye rolling here. Is it exhausting having seven kids? You really have to ask that? Don't you believe in birth control? None of your business. Funnily enough, I even get medical questions; I am not a doctor. No, bloody urine is never a good thing. Even funnier is when the medical questions come from my daughter-in-law, who happens to be a nurse. I am flattered and honored by the questions...I do like to solve problems. I must just look old and weathered enough to have the answers.

But, today, I have a few questions of my own. Why is it that a 15-year-old boy would rather walk twenty miles barefoot in the snow than simply clean his room? Why did my feet keep growing even after I got married? Why is it that I am folding the same clothes that I folded a week ago, and I didn't see you actually wear the clothes? Why is it that I am the only one in the house who knows how to a) replace an empty toilet paper tube, b) wipe the kitchen counter, or c) answer the phone? Why do guys have such a hard time finding things? It is true...if I call 4-1-1 for a phone number, and a man answers, I simply hang up and try again. (I hate to way of apology I'm posting pictures of some of my favorite guys...that's Dillon and Skippy in the top photo) Why can't we play Wii for family home evening? Oops, that question was Skippy's. I'm starting to get wrinkles...doesn't that mean I shouldn't still be getting acne? Why do those spots in the carpet come back, no matter what I do? Why must I be a computer programmer just to figure out how to put cool stuff in my blog? Why does everything sound better in Italian? What does the United States Vice President do, again? Wow, now that I've gotten started, there are really a lot more things I would like to know. I'll have to pick it up later... right now it is time for that eternal question: What am I going to make for dinner?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The One Where She Gives In

Ok, I just had to do it. One little Christmas song. It is one of my favorite ones I've done. There was this cool experience Rachel and I had performing this at MV High School about three years ago. The night of the Christmas concert we did this song, Evening Lullaby, and when it ended, there was dead silence for about three heartbeats, and then the whole theater went crazy. We left the stage, and they wouldn't stop cheering until we went back out for another bow.

I got a call from the music director just a couple of months ago, and he asked about that song. He said that of all the music they have ever done there over the past twenty years, that one gave him the most amazing feeling when he heard it. I know it's not even the middle of November yet, but here's a little Christmas spirit just the same.
{This song is included on my Christmas CD. You can read more about it here.}

Evening Lullaby

They traveled far along the dusty way
To reach Bethlehem by close of day.
Come Joseph, hasten down the winding road.
Bring your donkey with its precious load.

As they entered through the city gate
Shadows fell; the hour was growing late
Then in the purple of a falling night
Shown a brand-new star in glory bright.

Who will share a room, a loaf of bread?
Where will Mary lay her weary head?
A tiny manger in a stable bare
Will be the cradle for her baby fair.

Come, shepherds, watch and wonder at the sight.
Find the stable bathed in holy light.
Enter softly; see the babe foretold
By prophets far and near since days of old.

Baby Jesus, now it’s time to sleep.
Close you eyes; angels their watch will keep.
And when you wake the night will fade to gray
Then you will smile upon a brand-new day.

Oh, and by the way, this beautiful painting, "Be It Unto Me" by Liz Lemon Swindle was the premiere image in an amazing series of paintings about the life of Jesus Christ. It is one of my very favorites, and hangs just inside my front door year-round. I love it. The missionaries told me they thought I chose it because it looks like me:) Now do you see why I like them so much?

The One Where She Resists the Urge

I am trying so hard right now not to just skip over Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas. It doesn't help that Skippy keeps asking when we are putting up Christmas decorations. Besides, I have some really great Christmas songs that I am just waiting to post for you to listen to. But I am resisting the urge.

I  hate to give short shrift to a holiday that celebrates gratitude, but is gratitude really what Thanksgiving is about? Let's talk turkey. Last Thanksgiving Day fifteen houses burned to the ground. How did this happen? They burned as a result of deep-fried turkeys gone wrong. Let me put that in context for you. Imagine...only the month before, over 1,500 homes burned in Southern California as a result of wildfires. So let me  get this straight...your house escaped that epic blaze...only to go up in flames over a deep-fried turkey. Tragic? Yes. Embarrassing? Definitely.

Here in Southern California, we hunt our turkeys in Costco. If you wait until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, fresh birds may be scarce, and you might risk life and limb to wrest a 20-pounder from the hands of some very determined home chef. But in other parts of the country, they actually have turkey season, during which hunters go out with their shotguns to bag a bird. Quaint and picturesque, right? Consider the father who shot his nine-year-old son this year, because he mistook him for a turkey. Or how about Dan and his sister from Wisconsin, who crashed their car after a wild turkey went through their windshield.

Undercooked turkey was to blame for a salmonella outbreak in South Carolina that affected some 300 customers of a popular restaurant. Be sure to take your turkey's temperature with an accurate thermometer... he (or she) should be about 170 degrees in the thigh to be safe. Wondering if you may have salmonella poisoning? The major symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills and headache. Oh yeah, and occasional death.

So am I going to prepare a turkey on Thanksgiving? Certainly. I am going to cook that thing until it is on the safe side of completely dried out. I just won't be eating any. It really doesn't have to do with any safety, either. I mean, if I actually cared about that, would I ever eat at Jack in the Box? I have just realized over the years that I don't really like turkey, and if I leave it off the plate, there is room for orange rolls, homemade cranberry sauce, and all the side dishes that are really so much tastier than the turkey. It is my understanding that the pilgrims had venison at that first Thanksgiving anyway. I'm not going to go shooting any deer, but if our new tradition were, say,  prime rib of beef, I would probably make a little room on my plate...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The One with the $30 Macaroni & Cheese

I'm not here to tell you what to have for dinner, but are you seriously going through the Taco Bell drive-thru again? (You know who you are...) I know you think macaroni and cheese was invented by Kraft, and I am very sorry for you and your sad upbringing, but it is time to grow up now. Wake up and smell the cheese melting.

I have made this using all different kinds of cheeses. The easiest substitutions are regular sharp cheddar in place of the aged white cheddar, and regular Swiss cheese in place of the Gruyere. That will take the price down, so that it is $12 mac and cheese. This makes a lot of food. Invite your neighbors. Throw some tomato slices on top, and call it health food. Enjoy...

The One With Tyler vs. the Mammoni

In Italy, they call them "Mammoni," which translated means "mamas' boys." It is a cultural phenomenon, wherein men in their 30s and 40s, with disposable income, girlfriends, high-powered careers...still live at home where they can be cared for by their mothers. In fact, in Italy, the average age for a man to move out of his mama's home... is 36 years! This is no joke...Google mammoni, and you will see what I'm talking about.

Here in the McD home, we have started our own trend...let's call it "Mormoni"... whereby we send our men out of the home by the time they are 19 years of age. In order to prepare my men for this early (by Italian standards) transition, by the time they are twelve, they are usually able to do their own laundry, complete the grocery shopping, change a tire, cook a wide variety of dishes and give a decent foot massage (that last one is not really necessary, but I really like it).

Take Tyler, for example. Tyler is 21, and has been living on his own for about three years now. Tyler is at BYU, majoring in Youth Leadership and Recreation Management (something that he did on the amateur level at home for several years). He plays guitar, sings, cooks, bakes bread every week, rides a bike to school, hikes, and has seriously awesome hair (no, I'm not kidding about the hair. It is great). He knows how to install a ceiling fan, fix leaky faucets and replace door hardware. He can change a diaper, clean a toilet, put up Christmas lights and draw amazing illustrations. He is an Eagle Scout, and has even ridden in a Nascar.

So I put it to you...Tyler? or the Mammoni? 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The One Where Victoria Goes Green

Did you wake up this morning, look out on your lawn, and think, "What am I going to do with the political yard signs?" Of course you did. And I have an answer. Recycle. Give back to the earth by finding a new use for those signs.

I am not a gym person. In fact, the last time I went to the gym, the kid working at the desk said, "Ma'am (that was the first bad sign), I have never seen a gym pass like that. I'm going to need to get the manager." When his 16-year-old manager came over, the two of them determined that they haven't used my style of pass since before they were born. When I asked if they could show me how to use the machines, they really didn't have to start with the indoor plumbing. Come on! They actually had real, flushing toilets in the eighties. Listen, it is people like me, who pay $24 every single month for years on end, even though they never have any intention of going to the gym, who give you job security and support your steroids and Red Bull habit.

The problem is, I don't want to have MacArthur arms. Otherwise known as "bat wings." My friend Jan dubbed them MacArthur arms...I don't really know why. In all the pictures of Douglas MacArthur I could find (that's him with the pipe), his arms were not exactly his problem area, if you know what I mean. 

So over the last two weeks, I have perfected a highly effective upper-body workout using nothing but your standard, two-pronged political yard sign. You can do it too. Once you have grasped the strong, yet flexible wire prongs, one in each hand, you simply wave the sign back and forth. Think big...really move those arms. You can vary your workout by utilizing an up-and-down motion from time to time. I know the election is over, but it is far more motivating to do this workout on the street, where cars can honk at you for encouragement.

Really, any political stake-style yard sign will work for this simple workout. But if you want to expand your workout to include some lower-body work, I would advise using a "Yes on Prop. 8" sign. You really can't underestimate the strength and agility that you gain from dodging full cups of coffee and other refuse from passing motorists as you stand out at the side of the street. The street-side workout is also much more entertaining than standing in a gym. Until this last week, I had no idea there were so many ways to flip someone off. So go green. Grab a yard sign. In the words of the immortal Douglas MacArthur, "There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The One That Got Lost in Translation

Casey turns 20 years old this month. I will never see Casey as a 20-year-old! He is a missionary in the Texas Dallas Mission. He teaches Spanish-speaking people there the basic principles of our religion. If you don't know Casey, you are missing out. Casey definitely inherited the McD family sarcasm, wit, and tendency to get into trouble. Third child out of seven, tall and way too skinny, he could have just turned out to be a nerd. But not Casey. He has always managed to make everything he does look effortless and cool.

In one of his recent letters home, he described how his ward in Mt. Pleasant meets in a funeral home. The clerk's office is the enbalming room. A lady who had been recently baptized attended church on Sunday, and Casey accompanied her to the women's meeting the third hour of church, so that he could translate for her. He translated the lesson, but not exactly... he found that the lesson was lacking in essential doctrine, and so he "may have mistranslated just a little bit in order to teach some basic principles... whoops!" Okay, we may be a little glib at times, but McDs know how to get the job done. Casey likes to quote a line from his missionary handbook, that says, "How great is your calling!"

That's our Casey. And so to celebrate his birthday, here is a little song I wrote called "He Hears Me." It is sung by Rachel Ricchio, and talks about the principle of prayer. Happy Birthday, Elder McD!

He Hears Me

When it’s time to rest at the end of the day
I go to my room and I kneel down to pray
But when I close my eyes and I open up my heart,
Is my Heavenly Father listening?

In a quiet grove a young boy knelt one day.
Though he didn’t know how, he was determined to pray.
And when he closed his eyes and he opened up his heart,
Was his Heavenly Father listening?

Joseph felt the power of darkness and he started to despair
But a beautiful bright light appeared in answer to his prayer
In the light above his head he saw the Father and the Son.
He knew his Heavenly Father was listening.

Does He love me? Does He know by name?
Yes, He knows me like Joseph and He loves me the same.
So when I close my eyes and I open up my heart,
Then my room becomes my own Sacred Grove…
Because he knows me
And he loves me.
When I close my eyes in humble prayer
I know my Heavenly Father hears me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The One Where She Finally Just Embraced Mediocrity

I'm not a perfectionist. In most things. Okay, maybe deep down, I'm a perfectionist. But I have managed to smother that instinct 98 percent of the time. There are a few notable exceptions. I always have to have the perfect Christmas card. When I say perfect Christmas card, I mean Per. Fect. I am also always on the lookout for the perfect tablecloth (don't ask me why; some things just are what they are) and the perfect black dress (black is slimming and doggone it--it's hard to find a dress that looks really sexy while covering up most of my arms, most of my legs, and, let's face it, camouflage a few other key areas). I gave up on the perfect swimsuit a few seasons ago for obvious reasons...I mean, if I can't even find the perfect black dress...

So, music. Hmmm. Something I devote so much time to...even more than I spend on my quest for the perfect black dress. Believe me when I tell you this: I actually am not a perfectionist about music. I can't tell you how many times someone has come up to me just to say that the reason they messed up playing in church or a concert was because I was there, and they knew I was listening to them. WHAT? Are you kidding me? I wasn't even listening to you! I was thinking about donuts. Or puppies or something. Solving the problem of global warming. Yeast infections. I only looked like I was laughing. Or in pain. No, seriously, I teach eighteen piano students, at least three of whom are completely tone-deaf. When the music gets too excruciating, I just pace back and forth and imagine myself in my happy place. Honestly, my mistake tolerance is extremely high.

That said, there is the matter of my own music. I really don't like to make mistakes. Sometimes I have even been known to practice in order to lessen my likelihood of making said mistakes. A lot. And then there is the music that I write. There are two aspects to that. It is like any other kind of creative work, in that once I have finished it, sometimes I really don't like the way it turned out. There are lines that bother me, or the music isn't right. The other aspect is the recording part of it. My recording is strictly amateur, so it is most often an exercise in frustration. My ears want to hear it sound perfect, but I have not ever once had the time or the right circumstances to get the recording I really wanted. Just once, I would like to do it right!

So, I'm putting this song up for you to listen to. I love it, except for two things: The song, and the recording. It's a pretty dumb song. I threw it together in a couple of hours, and it really doesn't stand up. Not the words or the lyrics. I don't like it. And it's not a good recording. I recorded the accompaniment in California, and Rachel recorded the voice in Utah. We were never even in the same state, let alone the same room.

Why then, you might ask, am I even putting the song up here? Because I was listening to it last night, and darn, if her voice is not spectacular! I have two other recordings of her singing other songs I wrote...songs that I actually like and will eventually play for you. But they were recorded when she was about sixteen. This song was just last year, when she was twenty, and she has only gotten better better better. The girl even makes humming sound amazing. She is going to come over in a couple of months, and we are going to do some real recording. I can't wait! In the meantime, overlook the poor recording...overlook the completely mediocre song...and listen to the amazing voice of Rachel Ricchio!

And by the way, I did find this website called that not only has a stunning selection of extremely modest black dresses, but an impressive array of traditional Saudi-style triple-layer burqas to complete the look (See the lovely photo above). You'll thank me later. And so the quest continues...

When I Sing

What do you see when you look at me?
Tell me, who do you want me to be?
I may stumble and fall
Seem like no one at all…
But I’m more than your eyes can see.
When I sing
There are angels beside me.
My doubts cannot find me.
I almost believe I can fly.
And I sing
So the world can’t ignore me
They may not adore me
But they’ll never again pass me by.
So I’ll sing
Then you’ll see I’m not broken
I’m everything I want to be.
Hear me sing…

Look at my face
At the end of this race
I’m your sister, your brother, your friend.
I’m not black
I’m not white
I’m not too tired to fight
I’ll be here till the journey’s end.
So I sing
With the angels beside me
To lift me and guide me
I close my eyes and I fly.
Yes, I sing
Now the world can’t ignore me
They praise and adore me
The ends of the earth hear my cry.
Hear me sing…
Then you’ll see I’m not broken
I’m everything I want to be.
So I’ll fly
I’ll fly
I’ll fly
Hear me sing…
Then you’ll see I’m not broken
I’m everything I wanted to be.

The One In Which She Discovers That You Really Can't Go Home

When we went up to Oregon last month, I felt a certain pull, as always, to find a little piece of document it, somehow. The mountain is what always calls me. As soon as we are winding through Lake Shasta and climbing up through the thick forests leading up to Siskiyou County, I find myself straining to catch a glimpse of Mt. Shasta every time there is a gap in the trees. I really wanted to see the picturesque LDS church in Mt. Shasta. Behind that church is the house that my dad built when I was about eight years old. I have few memories of that house. We put some pretty awesome 70s wood paneling on every single wall. Different colored carpet in every room. I remember getting five feet of snow in one night and waking up to see only white out of every window. But what I remember a little better was where we lived while we were waiting for that house to be finished. It was summer, and so my parents did what any good parents who let their kids ride all the way to Arizona in the bed of a pickup truck would do... they moved us into the Hippie Shack!

It was one of the best summers ever, probably because I was in love with "Little House on the Prairie," and this shack rivaled anything Charles Ingalls could have devised, in terms of rusticity. Wind blew in between the boards that made up the exterior walls. There was no drywall on the inside. I was particularly excited about that, because it meant I could pin up whatever the heck I wanted, and nobody cared. I papered my personal space with Nixon and McGovern buttons I had popped out of the Weekly Reader. Did I mention a creek ran by, right outside the shack? The crowning glory of the Hippie Shack was a slightly rusty claw-footed porcelain bathtub. That came in pretty handy when all three of us kids managed to get chicken pox that summer. In typical fashion, I got a mild case, and soothed the itch in the stream, while Wendy naturally got so sick and feverish with it that she almost had to be hospitalized. She was covered for two weeks with little tiny baking soda poultices all over her body.

So there we were, driving through Mt. Shasta on our way home. Skippy, who was wearing his Montana shirt from our Yellowstone trip last summer, was extremely insistent that this was not Mt. Shasta at all, but was in fact Montana. He said  he had the pictures to prove it. I didn't want to delay our 14-hour drive home, but I really wanted to find my old house. We drove up and down street after street. Thirty years had not changed town much, but I just couldn't remember the right street. Strangely enough, though, I had no trouble whatsoever finding where the Hippie Shack used to be...

Did you see...The One Where No One Set the Clocks Back?

Sorry, I didn't get the memo. Daylight Savings insidious government conspiracy, that. I got my family up an hour earlier than they had to be on Fast Sunday. For goodness' sake, go read your scriptures or something! It is not the end of the world. It's not like an hour from now, we won't still be sitting in the car waiting for someone to find his shoes.

I have had a request for more songs. I will probably only put one up every few days, but I have a fun one for today. We have been missing Cambria, who is visiting with her Grandma this month. So in honor of the "demon child," here is "Perfect Day," a song she sang for her daddy. I wrote this when she was only seven years old. So here's a way to use up five minutes of that extra hour...

Perfect Day

Daddy, fly me to Africa
Buy me a Jeep
And we’ll drive through the Kalahari.
We’ll tame a young lion and teach him to sit
And he’ll sleep at our feet in the grass
Yes, he’ll sleep at our feet in the grass.

Then we’re off to the ballpark
To play in the game.
We will wave to our hollering fans.
Dad, you’ll be on second and I’ll bring ya’ home
When I hit it right out of the park,
Yes, I’ll hit it right out of the park.

We’ll go to our island to lie on the sand.
We’ll have mangoes and coconut milk.
Then I’ll teach you to surf and catch fish with our hands
And we’ll build a huge fort in the trees
Yes, we’ll build a huge fort in the trees.

Then we’ll board a big ship and we’ll sail out to sea.
I’ll be captain and you my first mate.
We will fight off the pirates and swim with a shark
And discover a brand-new country,
Yes, discover a brand-new country.

And when the sun sets we’ll be sailing for home.
Mom will see our ship at the front door.
She’ll say “Shake out that sand before you come in,”
And “That lion stays in the backyard.”
“Yes, that lion stays in the backyard.”

Then you’ll read me a story and tuck me in bed.
You’ll kiss me and turn out the light.
Then you better sleep too, ‘cause you’ll need all your strength
When tomorrow we do it again.
Dad, tomorrow we’ll do it again.
Yes, tomorrow we’ll do it again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The One With the Permanent Houseguests

Missionaries live with us. I actually highly recommend it. In fact, if I had it to do all over again, I would probably opt to have missionaries instead of children. Here are my top ten reasons why:

1. They unload the dishwasher without being asked.
2. I never have to beg them to take a shower.
3. I don't pay for their gas.
4. They are polite, even when Skippy colors on their backs with a yellow crayon, while pretending to give them a back scratch. (Suckers!)
5. I never have to tell them to tuck in their shirts, pull up their pants, or that they are dressed too casually for the occasion.
6. They come (almost) fully grown, and I avoid stretch marks, the terrible twos, the "why?" years, that awkward stage where they wore braces for three full years, the sullen teen syndrome, and any pre-mission rebellion they might have gone through.
7. You never have to worry about the lyrics of the songs they are listening to. Mo-tab doesn't get jiggy wit' anything.
8. They ask before they eat my Lean Cuisines.
9. If they do something really bad, then the mission president will discipline them. It is not my job.
10. When it is time for them leave the nest, we don't have to have that "special talk." They just wash their sheets for the first time in six months, pack their 2.5 suitcases in someone's pickup, and off they go with a thank you and a wave goodbye.

I love those guys!

The One With the Rock Stars

A couple of months ago, I did a photo shoot for a friend of mine, so we could make a book for her husband's 40th birthday. Check out the Spice kids...

The One With the Scottish Missionary

Kevin Anthony, Jr. left for his mission to Edinburgh, Scotland a couple of weeks ago. Before he left, we managed to take an evening and record a song. I didn't write this one. It is "Face to Face" by Kenneth Cope. But I love the way Kevin sings it. Kevin has a great spirit. I hope he never shuts his mouth the entire time he is in Scotland. Listen all you want...

The One With Betty and Irene

I have a friend who is separated from her husband, and may be getting a divorce. We talked a little bit this week about divorce in the church. She said it seems on the surface as though everyone has a cookie-cutter family, but the more she thought about people she admires, she realized that their road to where they are was not the traditional "Mormon" route...boy meets girl, they marry, they have babies and live happily forever.

Betty was my dad's first wife. They had one daughter before my sister Lynne was born. Her name was Irene, and she died when she was very small. Betty and my dad divorced. Probably only a few of the hundreds of people who attended my dad's funeral even know he had been divorced. He went on to marry my mom, be a dad to six kids, a bishop, a mission president, a grandpa. He was a different person because of what he went through, but that was not necessarily a bad thing. He still went out and made everything he ever dreamed of come true. We can all go and do that, even if the road winds a little on the way.

The One About Dad and the Socks

My dad, Parley Hamblin, passed away October 2nd. At his funeral, a bishop who served while my dad was stake president told this story. I had forgotten it. About 15 years ago, my dad was running errands and ran out of gas on a country road. He had to hike about three miles to a gas station and then back again with a gas can. It was wet, rainy, and a little snowy that day, so when he got back with the gas can he took off his wet socks in the car to let them dry.

That evening he had to drive to Medford with my mom. Because he had run out of gas, they were running late, and they climbed into Dad's pickup for the hour-long drive. As they neared the top of Siskiyou Summit, it was raining and snowing. The pickup coughed a little, running low on gas, and so my dad hit the switch to use the secondary tank of gas, which he always kept full, wasn't! My dad hadn't run out of gas in years, and now he had done it twice in one day.

It was about 35 degrees, they were five miles from the nearest exit, and my dad wasn't wearing any socks. There is not much traffic on I-5 that for north, and especially not in inclement weather. He trudged along, realizing he was going to be late for his stake meeting. Blisters were forming on his feet, and he was very cold and wet. He began to pray that he would be able to accomplish the task at hand as quickly as possible. He said that he thought that it would sure be great if he had some dry socks. He bitterly regretted taking his off earlier in the day.

Suddenly, in the middle of the freeway shoulder, he saw something and stopped to pick it up. It was a sock! Despite the fact that everything around him for miles was wet and snowy, the sock was completely dry. He stopped, took off a shoe, put on the sock, and then replaced his shoe. He walked for several more minutes, pondering the miracle of that solitary sock, when suddenly, there in the middle of the shoulder, was another sock! Again, perfectly dry. He stopped and put that sock on the other foot. He wore the socks to his meeting that night, and when he got home he washed them, and he kept them in a plastic bag in his sock drawer as a reminder that prayers are answered.

It always seemed to me that it would have been more convenient if Heavenly Father had left a full gas can sitting there in the road. Or he could have sent a Good Samaritan to give him a ride. Or maybe given the pickup a boost of power to get to the top of the mountain, so that they could coast down to the gas station. But instead, he sent socks. Socks! The socks didn't take away the trial he was going through. They just provided a little comfort to get him through what he had to accomplish. Physical comfort, but also spiritual comfort, because they were proof that the Lord loved him and was watching out for him in a very individual way.

I think sometimes that our job in life is to be the socks. There have been many times when I have been the recipient of socks. But all in all, I would rather be the socks for someone else as they are hiking along on their way to the gas station.

The One Where Sam Calls Me Grandma

Since Josh and Jessica are expecting their first baby in January, I am going to be a grandma in less than three months. Our friend Sam S. has taken to calling me Grandma.

When I took "Skippy" to his first day of kindergarten a couple of months ago, I thought I would be the oldest person there. Grandma with a kindergartner. People have a hard time wrapping their brains around that one. I have a perverse desire to explain it to them. It is like I woke up one day and and thought to myself, "Wow, wouldn't it be great if I could be nine months pregnant at my son's high school graduation?" And then, all my dreams came true... yes, not only was I nine months pregant, but I had pregnancy-induced hypertension, and was on bed rest. Kevin had to drop me off at the top of the stadium, where I immediately sat in my folding chair and reclined for the remainder of the evening. Good times! People told me that Skippy would never be close to his older siblings because they would all be gone and he wouldn't get to know them. That is not the case. Skippy loves his older brothers; he carries around pictures of them, receives letters from them, talks to them on the phone, and is very excited to be an uncle. Not only that, but he has a very flexible idea of family that grows to include missionaries that might live with us, as well as Jessi, his new favorite sister. "People" are not always right.

So back to kindergarten. I found that I was not the oldest parent. In fact, I may be in the bottom half. Maybe half the kids are being raised by their grandparents:).

The One Where Vic Writes a Song

I am trying to write and record more music. I thought this would be a fun way to let people hear what I have been working on. This song is called “The Gate.” I recorded it with one of our missionaries, Elder Garry Pfile.

The Gate

I am just a wayward child
I wander in paths that wind
Through dark and danger.
There is one who calls me
To walk in the way of truth and love.

But I am not alone.
The Savior lights my way,
Leads me through the narrow gate
To everlasting day.

I am not the only one
To struggle in unbelief,
To blindly roam.
Jesus bids me find his sheep
For to lead them safely back home.

Lost, but we are not alone
The Savior lights our way.
Leads us through the narrow gate
To everlasting day.

Few there be that find the gate;
For narrow is the road.
I will walk the path that’s strait,
Then he’ll welcome me into his fold.

Lost, but I am not alone.
The Savior lights my way.
Leads me through the narrow gate
To everlasting day.

I am found,
I’m freed from worldly cares,
The Savior lights my way.
Leads me through the narrow gate
To everlasting day.

The One With the Mormon Demonstrators

So, I would hate for my first post to be about Prop. 8. Unfortunately, that is what our life is about this week. I spent about three hours on Thursday as a demonstrator at the side of a busy street, waving a big yellow sign. I jumped up and down. I waved like I was in a parade. I screamed and yelled like I was at a football game. And I have to admit that it was some serious fun. I had Skippy with me. He is five years old, and I wished as soon as I reached the intersection that I had brought some sort of leash for him. I could just see the headlines: "Crazy Mormon Mom Allows Kindergartner to Play In Oncoming Traffic." As it happened, he completely entered into the spirit of the thing, and waved a sign the whole time, yelling, "YES ON 8! YES ON 8!" Skippy still needs a lot of speech therapy, or I would have taught him to yell, "Please don't teach me about gay marriage in kindergarten!" That might have made those middle-aged gay women crash their car, instead of just giving us the finger...

I am going to admit that I haven't spent any time until this week waving signs on the street. That made it all the more ironic when the OC Register article came out Friday, and featured a picture of the demonstrators, with Skippy and me right there in the center. Sorry, diehard just proves once again, that life isn't fair.