Thursday, February 26, 2009

The One Where Skippy and I Pulled an All-Nighter

Skippy has been sick for a week. Fever, cough…you know the story. We have had to spend a couple of nights on the sectional in the family room. The cough was keeping Dillon awake, since they share a room. Dillon gets up at 5:00 a.m. for an early-morning scripture study class, and then runs track after school…he can’t stay up all night. It wasn’t bad spending some quality time with the Skipster.

DK asked me today if I knew where Skippy’s name came from. Actually, I did not. He said that he was always creeped out by that clown on the ice cream cone box…whose name was Scoopy. So he started calling our adorable seventh-born “Scoopy.” But the rest of us apparently never realized that was what he was saying, and it turned into Skippy...and then stuck.

I know. It kind of makes you wonder about DK, doesn’t it? He has always had a fascination with the macabre. He used to read stories to the kids. There was one that talked about daddies. “Porcupine daddy is a prickly daddy.” As if that one wasn’t weird enough, he added his own into the mix: “Guppy daddy is a dangerous daddy!” Yes, guppies eat their own young. He also delighted in reading from a morbidly fascinating vintage book, called “Struwwelpeter,” (shock-headed Peter). It is a book of tales designed to terrify young children into obedience…for instance, in one, a disobedient child sucks his thumb and has it snipped off.
Maybe DK has it right…our children have been exceptionally obedient and respectful. And mostly non-thumb-sucking. In the middle of the night, Skippy woke me up and said, “Mama, are you cold? You can hold me and get under my blankie…” That’s my Skippy. And I don’t think we have even read to him yet from Struwwelpeter. I guess it doesn’t hurt to have an ace in the hole.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The One With the Grandma Shoes

These are my grandma shoes. I wore them all day today, while I did all of my grandma stuff. I peeled apples. I prepared a church lesson (and gave it, in my matching grandma dress). I made waffles for hungry missionaries. I baked peanut butter oatmeal M&M cookies. I read stories aloud. I worked a crossword puzzle. I gave some grandmotherly advice (that sounds suspiciously like regular advice) and managed to work in the phrase, Oh, my aching bones. I did dishes, wore an apron, and tucked someone into bed. All with a twinkle in my eye, and grandma shoes on my feet. Yeah, they're four inches tall...and not that easy to walk in. But it is more important to look grandmotherly than it is to be comfortable.

Hey, I am getting good at this grandma stuff.

Recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal M&M Cookies

Friday, February 13, 2009

The One Where Romance Was Not Dead

Did happen to mention how much I love Valentine’s Day? I suppose I am this weird mix of logical and romantic… this morning while I was sorta kinda pretending to myself that I was sleeping in, DK came in and jumped on the bed, and said, “Which is more romantic…French Toast or” at which point I cut him off, with a very rude, “NO FOOD. Food is not romantic!” Yes, I turned down breakfast in bed. Rudely. Then I placed my cell phone in his hand and said, “But if you’re going downstairs, you can plug this in to charge. It has been beeping.” Good sport that he is, he took the cell phone with him, remarking as he went, “Romance is not dead.”

And he was still nice to me as he left for work. I must have had some good juju stored up from awhile back...way back. Tomorrow being February 14th, it will be 25 years to the day that DK and I got engaged. There have been some romantic moments.

Our first Valentine’s Day together (the year before we got engaged), DK had to work, but he designed me an animated Valentine that played on the computer. That was back before computers even did stuff like that, and had a heart-shaped pizza with everything, delivered from Brick Oven Pizza. I was totally in love, and my mouth is watering right now. I thought that was probably as good as it could get. I was wrong.

When we had our first baby, he spent a week in the Intensive Care Nursery. The reasons for keeping him there were becoming more and more unreasonable, and I, having been at home without my baby for five days, was becoming more and more despondent. On the seventh day, DK drove to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Orange, parked in the multi-level garage and left me in the car. He then went to the financial clerk and paid cash for the baby (we sold our Apple stock to pay the $6,000 bill) and then took the elevator up to the nursery. He presented them with the discharge papers from the financial clerk, and then, although he had never even held a baby before that week, he dressed Josh in multiple layers of clothes for the cold, picked him up and walked out to the parking structure where I sat crying in the car. I always knew he would be a cool dad, but that was the first day I realized he was a hero.

When I was 29 years old, I had five little boys, all under eight years old. It was honestly fun most of the time, but the idea of having some alone time was about the most heavenly thing I can think of. How many times, over the years, has DK looked around as he was about to leave for the office, and said, “How about I take Dillon to work with me today?” Or Ethan…or Cambria… and he packed up a toddler, with a little backpack full of crayons and coloring books, sometimes even a little TV with videos, and took him to his office and out on appointments to see clients, so that I could have a little time to myself? Truly, romance is not dead.

Then there was this year, when I told him I decided I was going to make a music album. Instead of asking whether I thought maybe I should have consulted with him before making that kind of decision, he immediately started researching the best music recording software online. He is always strangely happy when I decide to do crazy, creative things, and always seems proud of my compulsively entrepreneurial ways. If that is not romantic, I don’t know what is.

Well, DK just called. He said he is bringing home a Top Chef-style food challenge…he is either bringing home octopus, shrimp, ground beef, filet mignon or lobster tail. It is definitely not ground beef. That would not warrant a phone call. It is also not octopus. I would cook that if he brought it home, but I would not eat it, and he knows that. So I’ve got to go dust off my frying pans and signature recipes…and see if I can’t repent of that “food is not romance” comment…

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The One Where She Got Tagged...Over and Over and Over

The latest Facebook craze is tagging 25 of your friends in a “note” in which you write 25 random things about yourself. Then each of those 25 friends is supposed to do the same thing. I have been tagged about fifteen times, but have thus far resisted the urge. I am not going to post 25 random things about myself on Facebook. I mean, all those people are friends, and I have basically no idea who reads this blog, so naturally I would rather post here. Consider yourself warned…

25 Things About Me You May Wish You Didn’t Know

1. I have spent five and a half years pregnant, 135 hours in labor, and about nine years nursing babies...and you thought elephants had it bad. Oh, and once, I was asked when I was due, about three months after I had one of my kids. It was a grocery checker, and I wanted so badly to get her fired that I sat in my car for fifteen minutes debating how to go about it.. You are NEVER supposed to ask that. Even if you can see the baby’s head actually coming out.

2. My bedroom is so messy right now that you can’t see the bed.

3. I had to go to the emergency room because I almost had a heart attack from taking 12-hour Sudafeds every 12 hours for two days. I don’t make a very good drug user.

4. Once I pretended that my kids were someone else’s because they were so embarrassing. But in a sort of kharmic switcheroo, twice I have breastfed other people’s babies. Believe me when I tell you that it was an emergency both times.

5. In 2007, I read about 90 books. In 2008, about 30. This year, I’m shooting for five. And I’m going to count it if it is the same book five times. In fact, if I flip through a recipe book, I will probably count that.

6. Until about two or three weeks ago, I only had Facebook friends who “friended” me. I didn’t initiate friend requests. However, my self-esteem was flagging, so now I shamelessly cull my friends’ lists for new people to friend.

7. I can eat a dozen hot Krispy Kremes washed down with a Diet Coke, before leaving the Krispy Kreme parking lot. I like guilty, furtive eating binges. When I was little, my mom used to freeze dozens of quart-sized plastic containers of sweetened strawberries. I used to sneak those and eat them like do-it-yourself sorbet, scraping as I went with a spoon, and leaving the empty containers under beds and behind couches. She always knew it was me, but I thought I was pretty sly.

8. I only shave my legs once a week. Unless I have to wear a dress mid-week, and then I take one for the team and do it again.

9. I used to have a red, heart-shaped mark on my lower abdomen. But (please see item #1 for full explanation) unfortunately it has been stretched out of shape, and now I think it might be the mark of the beast or something. Not that I know what the mark of the beast looks like, but I’m just saying…

10. I have sort of ugly feet. I even dropped a table on my foot while working at a law office when I was first married, and now the big toe on my right foot grows some pretty crazy looking nails…I don’t look so hot in sandals. But not as bad as my brother-in-law Joe.

11. I was asked to bring homemade lasagna to a “Sweetheart Dinner” for church once, and I made three containers of Stouffers and stuffed it into my own casserole dish, and everyone asked me for that recipe for months. Suckers. That was the same “Sweetheart Dinner” where someone had the bright idea to have the women come dressed in their wedding gowns. That was wrong on so many levels. They deserved the Stouffers for that one.

12. In third grade I stole arts supplies from my school classroom. My mom made me take them back and tell Mrs. Gunthner that I stole. In retrospect, I think a case could be made that as taxpayers, we actually owned the art supplies. And Mrs. Gunthner wasn’t very nice and forgiving. I’m a little bitter.

13. I don’t like to drink milk. Maybe it has something to do with when we lived on the ranch, and used plastic buckets for milking the cows, and once my mom decided to clean the bucket with PineSol, and then all the milk tasted like PineSol after that. Or maybe I just don’t like milk.

14. I don’t wear a watch very often, because I usually don’t really care what time it is.

15. I would like to waste my life away watching TV. TV is awesome. There are about 75 shows that I would like to Tivo and watch. I could watch all day and all night, and eat goodies. I would blow up like a balloon, and pretty soon wouldn’t even leave the house to go through a drive-thru. I would have to have all my high-calorie junk food delivered, and eventually they would have to remove a wall of my house so I could be taken out the window by a big hauler so that they could bury me in a piano box or something like that. I only watch about an hour a day right now. But someday…let’s just say I haven't ruled that out.

16. I love the smell of dish soap. And laundry soap. Mmm. However, my love for those smells does not extend to their related tasks.

17. Ninety percent of my wardrobe consists of v-neck t-shirts. One should always accentuate the positive.

18. Once I had to do a five-page research paper in Spanish on a Latin-American subject. I did not feel like doing the research, so I made up one about how the ancient Mayans were actually people from the Book of Mormon. I did not back my claim up with a single shred of research. SeƱora Cardoza did not appreciate that at all. Oh! And, that same year, I wrote a children’s story for Spanish entitled “Elefante Embarazada,” which I blithely assumed meant “Embarrassed Elephant,” and as it turned out translated to “Pregnant Elephant.” I think she actually did appreciate that one.

19. I don’t like chocolate all that much, but I really like seeing other people enjoy it.

20. I only ever tell the truth on my blog, even though it would be ever so much funnier and more interesting if I were to invent a really horrid mother-in-law to bash, or if I seemed mad about stuff all the time, or pretended to drink to excess, or if I constantly made fun of people and things. Sorry so bland.

21. I only really enjoy playing games if I win. But I am pretty good at hiding that fact most of the time.

22. I must be a really poor time manager, because despite the fact that I have not implemented my TV-watching plan, I still don’t seem to get much done. What do I actually do all day??? The answer to this one may be related to #14 on my list.

23. One time when I couldn’t find a car ride back to BYU in Utah from my Northern California home, I talked my dad into getting me a ride in a little four-passenger airplane that took off from Montague Airport (try looking that up…you probably won’t find it). It was the middle of the winter and snowing, and I sat in the co-pilot seat the whole way. Now that seems a little crazy. Of course, once we kids rode to Arizona in the back of my dad’s pickup. I guess the airplane seems relatively safe…

24. The most expensive item I own, including cars, is my piano. Once a babysitter allowed the kids to hit the piano with some object or other, and broke a key. I couldn’t afford to have it replaced, and so I superglued it back on. I keep reminding the piano tuner to order a replacement key, but in more than a decade, he has never remembered to do it, so it is still superglued. I still remember that babysitter. She has kids of her own now. I hope they are hell on wheels.

25. Last one. I would probably do most anything for you. Please try not to take advantage of that fact.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The One Where She Admits She Hasn't Been Listening

There is this thing that I have done ever since I can remember. Sometimes when I am playing the piano, at the end of a song that moves me, I like to hold the sustain pedal, and lay my head on the piano, so that I can listen to the final chord reverberate through the soundboard, and feel it with my whole body. Sometimes I can hear it for an entire minute, , and even after my human ear fails to hear it, I stay there for a few more moments, knowing that the sound is still there, even if I can’t hear it anymore.

I haven’t done that in a couple of months…because I haven’t been listening to any music. At all. I don’t play the play the piano, nor so much as look at my ipod. I don’t even listen to music in the car, preferring to drive in silence. And believe me when I tell you that giving piano lessons does not (with a few small exceptions) qualify as listening to music.

When I confided my self-imposed code of silence to a friend, she asked if perhaps I was listening for inspiration. The answer is quite the opposite. I have been running from it. Lately, though, the music has been finding me…just as I lie down to sleep at night. Maybe in the clamor of the day, I simply find it easier to ignore, but the moment I close my eyes, my heart starts to pound, and the music roars through my head. My busy mind betrays me, as, despite my best efforts to fall asleep, it plays with the music, trying new melodies, composing lyrics…making arrangements in the dark as I toss restlessly.

I think I have been running from the music because of a lack of faith. It is not God I have been doubting, but I am afraid I have not been trusting enough in His plan for me. And it is no wonder…nothing good ever happens when you stop listening. But I have ears to hear. Today I will listen. I am going to stop and face the music. Maybe I’ll start by listening to one of my own songs, to remind myself why I’m doing this. So tell me…are you listening?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The One Where She Prefers it Remain a Mystery

You know, there are things that I would prefer remain a mystery. I have six sons, and I don’t know how to tie a tie. And I’m okay with that. I like how they take the bunny around the tree and down the hole, or whatever that is, and come up with the perfect knot, with the point just touching the top of their belt. It is one of those things I just don’t have to understand to appreciate. I don’t want to know how the internet works. I am content to revel in the magical mystery. Thanks, Al Gore. You’re a genius.

On the way home from church today, Skippy asked me how babies come out of a mommy’s tummy. He is no doubt contemplating how his ten-pound nephew could be in Jessi’s tummy, and now, so inexplicably, out. I must confess, I had no desire whatsoever to explain it to him. So I told him, well buddy, that is a mystery you will solve at a later date. How about some ice cream? Awesome. Oh, and I recently had a friend tell me that her husband was uncircumcised. Again, I would have preferred that one to remain a mystery. Seriously…I could have died happy, never knowing that.

I have a couple of boys in my house (the missionary ones) who are trying, for 21 days, to go without sugar and caffeine, and to exercise every day. I am happy they are doing it, and equally happy that I am not. But in my house, trying to go without sugar is kind of like torture. There is a particular smell in my house… a friend describes it as boynip. It could be described as fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies with undertones of homemade bread and bacon. See? Boynip. So yesterday, I made banana bread. I handed a warm slice to one of the boys who is not on the 21-day plan. I told the other, sorry, none for you. He was crushed. Why not? Because you aren’t eating sugar, right? Come on, he begs…there’s not much sugar in banana bread, right? Right?

Okay, Elder Murray, let’s just say that it would be better for that to remain a mystery. It’s bread. And fruit. How bad can that be? Have a slice.

In case you want to make the banana bread, here is my favorite:

Monkey Squares... with a variation to make super moist banana bread

Friday, February 6, 2009

The One Where the Emoticons Gain Ground

OK, so I am pretty smart, right? Say right. And pretty handy with computer stuff for the most part. So why is it that everything to do with Blogger is so darned difficult? Yesterday in order to insert those $#@^%*! Emoticons, I had to download a particular Foxfire add-on, then download a plug-in program, then use the plug-in program to edit the HTML in my Blogger to allow it to use Yahoo Emoticons. Simple, right?

Simple, yet insidious. I believe the whole thing was a plot designed by the emoticons to take over my blog. Now when I go in to make a new blog post, right above the text are displayed all of the Yahoo emoticons. It is a nightmare of a hundred yellow faces. (Witness the actual screenshot above!) I hate that they are animated. They appear to all be mocking me. I removed the lines of HTML that I altered yesterday in order to allow them, but they won’t leave. I feel as though I am possessed. I had a lot of things to do today. Real life things. But I am afraid they are just going to have to wait, because this is war, people. The emoticons will go, if it is the last thing I do. If you don’t hear from me in a couple of days, Gardenweasel, don’t forget our closet pact...I can’t bear to think of the relief society seeing it. Bring a lot of trash bags.

Oh! One more thing. Assuming that I survive my epic emoticon battle, I am playing Pay it Forward with one of my favorite blogsters...Here’s how it works: the first four people to leave a comment on this post will receive, at some point during the year, a handmade gift from me. What it will be and when it will arrive is a total surprise! Although, let’s face it, I’m not very crafty, so you can almost certainly expect to receive FOOD. GOOD FOOD. The catch is that you must participate as well–before you leave your comment here, write up a pay it forward post on your blog to keep the fun going. Then come back, let me know you’re going to play, and sit back and anticipate the arrival of your gift! Remember that only the first four comments will receive a gift from me, so be quick! Oh...and being completely conversant with the mail system, this offer is open to everyone...yes, even those who are geographically challenged (translation: those who don’t live in beautiful sunny Southern California).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The One With the Attack of the Emoticons

The other night my friend Gardenweasel and I were chatting on Facebook. Yes, we live only half a mile from each other. And yes, we both have phones. Multiple phones…that is true. But there is something liberating about chatting on Facebook. I type almost as fast as I think, so I can utter insensitive remarks just as quickly that way as I can in person. Maybe faster.

The only problem was that Gardenweasel was having some Facebook trouble, and Facebook Chat kept dropping her. Not to make fun of disabled persons (I know…anything you have to preface like that is ill-advised and should definitely not be said, and I know this is going to come back to bite me), it was sort of like I imagine it would be communicating with Stephen Hawking. As she repeated herself in a manic way, stuttered, and took forever to string together a single sentence, I found myself holding my breath, feeling very sorry for her, and actually had the urge to dab at the drool that it seemed must certainly be stringing from the corner of her mouth.

In her frustration, she resorted to a very guttural, almost primal form of communication. It consisted of an occasional word

punctuated by a few swear words. Okay, maybe more than a few…

but...and this is the best of all… EMOTICONS.

Suddenly I was talking with a very expressive mute. I realized that I have been ignoring a very potent method of communication. Emoticons can tap into the deep emotional well of my soul.

Let’s say, for instance, that you want to tell your son how you feel when he doesn’t do his homework. Here is how this would go:


I am very malu that you are doing such a tumbuk job at turning in your homework. Your teacher is very adusas well. I would like to say that I am hah at your lack of initiative, but the xpasti attitude which you have cultivated over the past 15 years has not escaped my attention. I know that you would like me to believe that you areangel, and that this “misunderstanding” was brought about by your utter ngantuk because you are just too smart for this class. I am very sedih you feel this way, as you seem to have soalme with someone who feels nangih for you. No, Sam, the fact is, you are in very deep takbole. I am completelytension by your report card, and I am senyum that after we have taken away your ipod, your phone, your ability to sit without gigil, and all the other conveniences with which your father and I have been accustomed to providing you, it will be no time at all before we will be celebratewith you on your straight-A comeback. sengihnampakgigi .

love you,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The One With the Ogre Achiever

Elder Hobley lived with us for six months. Since he transferred to a new area about three weeks ago, we have really missed him. We used to tease him that he was half ogre (on his father’s side, of course) because he was a big kid. In fact, he once asked me if I thought he was a lurp. I didn’t know what that was. I had to look it up in the Urban Dictionary:

1. (n) A person who is long, lanky, and can't quite handle him or herself while doing physical activities, such as playing basketball, dancing, walking, etc.

You learn something new every day, right? He was not a lurp. Exactly. Nor did he have many ogre-like tendencies. In fact, given the maple syrup incident, I would say he had a lot more Buddy the Elf in him than Shrek. Nonetheless the nickname stuck, and while we were in Utah this weekend we passed this awesome billboard. We had to make a second pass and roll down the car window in 18-degree weather to snap a picture for him. This is for the ogre-achiever in us all...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The One Where She Holds the Line

To answer Nan’s question, I will happily be called Grandma. It was good enough for Neva and Dora, my two perfectly perfect grandmothers, who were, between the two of them, everything a good grandma should be. A lot of people have asked me, what do you think about being a grandma? to which my pat response has been “Weird,” or “I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.” Which responses were completely true. I really had no way of saying how I felt about it until I actually experienced it. But now I have been a grandmother for two and a half days.

I realized :( as we pulled up to the hospital where Josh, Jessi and Jif were recovering from birth, that I was very excited. I thought that it would be so fun to see my son and daughter-in-law in the role of parents, and see this little stranger for the first time. But then we walked in and I saw him. I had the same reaction to him that I had when I saw Josh for the very first time, and then each of my seven in their turns. This was not the stranger baby I was expecting to hold for the first time. I could have walked into the nursery full of babies, and picked him out without ever having seen him before. I knew that when I saw Joshua as a newborn, too. I looked at him, and thought, Well, of course that is him. He is so perfectly part of us. So familiar. I have known him forever. The thing is, I just didn’t expect to already know Jif.

People always say that being a grandma is way better than being a mom. You can love them, spoil them, and then send them home to their parents. I know you have heard this...everyone says it, right? Well, I am sorry, but that is just not true. At least it is not for me. I could not pry myself out of that hospital room for several hours on Saturday. The problem (if it is one), I finally realized, is that I would be perfectly happy to trade them. They can leave, and I will stay here with this perfect baby tonight. I will sit with warm blankets on my swollen abdomen to soothe the afterpains; I’ll take the icepacks and the bleeding. I’ll brave the cracked nipples and grit my teeth to nurse when his mouth feels just like a pair of pliers. I will take that sensation where when you stand up to hobble to the bathroom, it feels like all of your insides might just fall out. I will sit awake all night, holding him skin to skin, or just look at him for hours under that fluorescent light, and think how entirely amazing he smart, and alert, and incredibly, impossibly beautiful. Here is the deal: I want to be a mother forever and ever and ever.

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I love what great parents Josh and Jessi already are. They are so patient and calm and wonderful. It doesn’t even make me feel old to be called Grandma. I don’t get jealous when I look at other people’s babies, and wish they were mine. I am going to love being a grandma. But I am not going to lie and say that it is better than being a mom. Jessi got the better end of this one.

I don’t think that I am one of those “over-mothering” mothers. I don’t follow my big kids around and try to tell them what to do all the time... and I’m sure that if I don’t speak the truth, here, they will feel free to comment and correct me. But what in the entire world could be better than having children, watching them be perfect babies, and then adorable two-year-olds, and then teenagers who are smart and funny and make all kinds of mistakes, and then, before you know it, grown-ups who are better at everything than you ever were? There could not be anything better. So there I will hold the line.

Grandma I am; and I have to say that including a new grandson in my family can only be described as life-altering. I love him like crazy. But please don’t cue the Circle of Life music quite yet. I am not done with the first part. And I don’t ever intend to be. I am going to be a mother for eternity.