Saturday, January 31, 2009

The One With Jif

OK, so I am going to refer to my grandson as "Jif." Why? Because it goes so well with Skippy!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The One Where She Blogged Instead of Working

Guilty. And that pretty much describes every single one of my blog posts. I am a huge fan of procrastination. Well, fan may not be the right word. I am a supporter of procrastination, in the way that someone supports McDonald’s by driving through and getting a Big Mac every day even though their cholesterol and their weight are both over 320. I support it like a smoker supports Marlboro. Like my kids support television. Like…well, you get the picture.

My children inherited my procrast- inatory nature. Apparently my grandson has, as well. Everyone is tired of waiting for him, so Monday they were going to make things very uncomfortable so that he had to come out. But in true McD fashion, when he heard there was an actual deadline, he kicked it in, and they went to the hospital last night in labor. Of course, having avoided the deadline, he will now take his sweet time with the whole labor and delivery thing.

And as for me, I have to hurry up and finish all the things I have been putting off before I leave town. There are quite a few. Did I ever mention I don’t do well with live plants or pets? Part of that is the whole procrastination thing, and part of it is, I am a people person, not a plant and animal person. Fact: I have never once gotten so involved in a good book that I went hour after hour without feeding the baby. Fact: I have never walked by the kids day after day after day after day without giving them a drink until they shriveled into brown sticks and had to be thrown in the greenwaste. Fact: I never forget that I have left one of them in a wire hutch in the back yard only to find out that the sun killed them in the heat of the afternoon. Fact: I have never secretly hated them and plotted to give them away for wetting on the carpet. Fact: I have never left the neighbor kid ten dollars to make sure that one of my kids got a bowl of dry nuggets and a bowl of water in the backyard while I was gone for a week. Fact: I have never found one of my kids floating in brackish water and quickly flushed them down the toilet before the other family members could see. Fact: I have never thought to myself, I should have gone with the fake one, these real ones are just way too much work to take care of. Okay, I might have thought that once or twice, but come on…I had five little boys under eight years old. Cabbage Patch Kids start looking pretty good. So cut me some slack. And now I’ve really got to go… I have a lot of stuff I’ve been putting off.

Josh & Jessi's firstborn was dragged kicking and screaming into the world at 5:07 p.m., his weight of 10 pounds, 1 ounce, causing his mother to push for over three hours. As my friend Greg points out, this baby and I will be good friends, seeing how we have a common enemy, so I have to take his side on this one. But I think his mother has good cause to throw today up in his face anytime he misbehaves for, oh, say, the next twenty years or so...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The One Where He Cut Her Up Into Tiny Pieces

In this episode, friend and former missionary Rob made a cameo appearance, in which he cut me all up into really tiny pieces, so everybody could have some. We were at roadshow practice, and he was wielding my biggest, sharpest Cutco knife. Okay, so it wasn’t real life, but a dream sequence (at least I think it was a dream sequence). I remember thinking it was great because everyone I know was there. Even Steve Young, the quarterback, and Rudy Giuliani, although I really don’t know them personally. But they were there anyway, each to get his little piece. There was a lion, beautiful and terrifying. Fortunately, there was no blood, because Ruth was there, and she can’t stand so much as the thought of blood (remember the baby finger?). Oh! And the whole event was catered by Golden Spoon…yay! Free frozen yogurt for all. They even brought toppings.

Now, so far, everything I’ve told you makes perfect sense, right? But there were a couple weird things about the dream. First of all, I arrived to the practice on a tractor. I’m not gonna lie…I’ve always kind of liked that burned-diesel smell. But parking it was sort of awkward, mostly because (and I’m embarrassed to admit this) I never got all that good at driving a stick… and I’m not even going to try to figure out why I was dressed like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I have never been a pigtail or braid fan. Or Judy Garland. Or those freaky flying monkeys. But I did love driving a tractor with my dad when I was ten years old. And did I mention that roadshow practice went really, really great? We didn’t even need the sheriff’s deputies, who (again, I don't know why) were all standing by, guns drawn, just in case. So all in all, not a bad night’s work.

The photo was taken before I was hacked up into a million little pieces.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The One Where She Saved Your Marriage

Garden Weasel dreamed last night that I started a new business, in which I charged parents $100 for four dating/etiquette lessons for boys. I taught them how to cook, how to play hard-to-get, and what fork to use. She said it was weird, but then I wrote a book and became a best-selling author…boy dating tips. I actually totally love that idea. I mean, I’m already running the service…I just haven’t been charging for it.

I don’t think I really care what fork you use, but the rest of it is Dating Survival 101, right? Do you have a dating question for “Ask Victoria?” Ask away… and in the meantime, here are some freebies: No, you shouldn’t call her yet. You smell of desperation. Give it a couple of days. While you’re waiting, go on Facebook and change your status: Dougie is trying to recover from three dates in two days. For your first date, plan something under two hours in case everything goes south. Oh, and here is the recipe I give to all the boys, whether my own, or the missionaries. I tell them it could save their marriage someday. It is also a great way to impress a date. But hey, this is not just for my guys… this diabetic coma in a muffin tin could actually save your marriage someday too.

Recipe for...
Marshmallow Popovers

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The One With the Best Day of His Life

Today I spent the morning working on music, creating some fairly freaky-sounding voice-overs for Roadshow, and then conducting the first Roadshow Practice. But on the way to the practice, I happened to notice that the geese we have been hearing fly over the house for the last two or three days had come in for a landing on the lake.

So when I got home, DK and I took Skippy over to see them. I have to admit, the birds were a little scary for me. There were geese as big as Skippy, ducks, flocks of seagulls, and hundreds of American Coots (DK told me what they were...who knew?) DK, Skippy and I took turns snapping photos. Can you tell which photo is Skippy’s? It is interesting to see his view of the world.

Then we finished with a late lunch at Rubio’s, where they have a giant aquarium with tropical fish. After half a fish taco, Skippy informed us that today was the best day of his life. I thought to myself, wow, Skip, you need to get out more! I seriously considered arguing the point with him. I mean, Skippy has spent time in Hawaii, played at Disneyland, and slept in tents with cousins. He has blown out birthday candles, opened Christmas presents, and gone spider-hunting with the missionaries...He has had some pretty darned good days.

But Skippy lives in the moment. And at that moment, a couple of hours of water birds and fish tacos constituted the best day of his life. And I like that about him.

“I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank Piña Coladas. At sunset we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get that day over and over and over...” ...Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

Friday, January 23, 2009

The One Where She Went the Distance

So my daughter-in-law Jessica is 41 weeks pregnant. And counting. The nausea and vomiting that took her through her first two trimesters is back. She has been having painful contractions and she is working full-time as a nurse in pediatrics at the hospital. She is pretty much done. I remember exactly what that feels like. Sorry, Jes. Here’s hoping for tonight. And for a quick labor, great epidural, short pushing phase, perfect baby, cranberry spritzer and a single good night’s sleep.

Then, here’s to brand-new car seats, baby clothes washed in Ivory Snow, a little head as soft as velvet, booties that won't stay on, nursing in the middle of the night, sitz baths, skinny ankles (yours, not the baby’s), flannel receiving blankets, A&D Ointment, tiny perfect fingernails, impossibly small diapers, beanies, burps and footed sleepers.

We’ll be waiting by the phone...

The One Where Paprika Tells it Like it Is

Paprika Spice. I know, it sounds like an alias, right? It is. When she was about three she was sitting with her primary class at church during sharing time, where all the children sit for a short lesson and singing time. She observed rather loudly to her teacher, “Sister Coles, those are really big fake fingernails you have.” It is hard to know how to respond to that. “Um, thank you?” But Paprika persisted: “My mom says she can’t wear those. She says when she has big fake fingernails, she can’t wipe very good.”

At that point in the exchange, Paprika’s mother, who happened to be in the back of the room, corrected. “TYPE. I said I can’t TYPE very good.”

My son Ethan used to really tell it to you straight when he was that age. One night I took him with me to the grocery store and we saw a very obese woman driving around on one of those Little Rascal motorized carts. Ethan approached her for a closer look and said in his piercing and precocious two-year-old voice, “Mom, pretty soon you’re going to be so big you are going to have to ride on one of those.” Just so you can picture me in your mind’s eye, I was about seven months’ pregnant with Dillon, who weighed ten pounds at birth. I very quietly told him (perhaps while making little child abuse marks on his arm with my fingernails) that we don’t talk about people like that, and besides, I promise you that Mommy is not ever going to get so fat that she will have to ride around on a Little Rascal. To which he replied, “Yes you will, Mommy, just look at you!”

Maybe he was right. I am not planning to get that fat, but right about now I wouldn’t mind riding around on the cart for awhile. Maybe I just need to go take a nap.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The One With the Kitty Backpack

Yesterday one of those little weasel kindergartners stole Skippy’s Lightning McQueen backpack. He came out at the end of class and it wasn’t hanging on the hook. What is up with that? He told me that every bad thing happened to him today. He got pushed down, and scraped, and had no snack. I believe him. Kindergarten is brutal. I made a strategic error when I was volunteering in the classroom a few weeks ago. I was minding my own business, helping five kids at a tiny table to assemble paper reindeer. I gradually became aware of a conversation between two of them. The little girl was explaining how she doesn’t like nicknames and the little boy was slinging them at her, one after another, each one making her more upset than the last. Now, this is not my first time in kindergarten, so you would think I would have been smart enough to stay out of an argument that had nothing to do with me. But no. I had to be a hero. I have no idea how I was so foolish as to let this come out of my mouth, but I confessed that DK calls me Cupcake, and that sometimes I don’t like it.

I really put myself out there, emotionally speaking, and that little brat took advantage and would not stop calling me Cupcake! It was getting embarrassing, and I was worried that the kindergarten teachers were going to hear. So I did the only thing I could do. I sat down in the tiny little chair next to him and hissed at him in my meanest grown-up voice, “If you don’t stop calling me Cupcake, I’m going to tell on you. Do you understand me? Poor Skippy. It is a tot-eat-tot world.

Skip narrowly avoided public humiliation this morning. Ethan and DK got him off to school. With his backpack gone, they were looking for a pack for him to tote to school. Hanging on the closet door was the kitty backpack. He got it for Christmas last year. It is literally a cat, with straps. It is like wearable roadkill. But he is five. He doesn’t really know any better. I guess it all comes down to one thing: Who’s your friend?

It is why I usually can’t watch much of the initial American Idol shows. I have a very low tolerance for seeing people embarrass themselves in public. Every year I can’t help but ask myself, when some sweet, tone-deaf guy from Idaho gets up and butchers yet another Stevie Wonder song: Doesn’t he have a single friend in the world? No one who will take him aside and tell him, look, Dougie, you’re a nice guy. You have a lot of great qualities. You do that awesome armpit puppet thing. You play a mean game of chess. Your knock-knock jokes are seriously...well, you know. But Dougie, I am your friend, so I am going to tell you what no one else will. Here it is: You can’t sing. You couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. I know when we have office karaoke, everyone tells you how great you are. They are either tone-deaf or cruel. Or both. Don’t do it, Dougie. Save your money for that Star Trek Convention you’ve had your eye on. And whatever you do, don’t wear the kitty backpack in public!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The One With the Blowtorch

Tyler e-mailed tonight and wants my crème bruleé recipe. I will post it here. (This should score you a date, Ty) But don't even consider making it, unless you have a torch. Williams Sonoma sells these little kitchen torches that are cool, but they don't hold a lot of fuel, or last long. So one Mother's Day, DK went to the hardware store. He selected a torch in my favorite color (mine looks just like the one pictured below), and then went to the employee that worked that department. He asked him, “Is this torch for use in the kitchen?” The reply: “Kitchen, bathroom...anywhere you need to weld.” Heh heh... Reminds me of that line in Mr. Mom where Jack is pretending to be rewiring the whole house to appear manly to his wife’s boss, who says, “Yeah? You gonna make it all 220?” and he replies, “220...221...whatever it takes.”

Although that isn't the best quote in there. This one is pure Jack Butler: “I understand that you little guys start out with your woobies and you think they’re great... and they are; they are terrific. But pretty soon, a woobie isn't enough. You’re out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, or maybe a quilt. And the next thing you know, you're strung out on bedspreads, Ken. That’s serious.”

I know that doesn’t have much to do with blowtorches. Or crème bruleé. But it is a life lesson worth learning. Thanks, Jack.

To download the recipe, click here:
Classic Crème Bruleé

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The One That Was Nothing to Be Proud Of

My dad hated cats. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. My dad loved his golden retrievers so much that perhaps the cats just suffered from being undogly. (Ungodly is a word…so undogly must be, right?) Anyway this one time we went to someone’s house, and their cat was pestering (as cats do) the one person in the house that least appreciated its attention: my dad. So when the host wasn’t looking he just reached over his shoulder and flicked the offending animal in the nose. And killed it. It fell dead behind the couch, and legend has it, he never told them what happened. I say legend, because my dad was inordinately proud of that story, so maybe it was a tall tale. But then again, probably not.

Family stories. They are the glue that holds us together. Once when I was pretty small we stopped in a Nevada casino for dinner. While my dad checked on a table, my mom looked at us little kids and said, I have this one quarter in my purse, and I’m going to put it in a slot machine, just so I can say I did it. We don’t even have to tell Daddy. Well, by the time my dad came back, there were so many quarters pouring out of the machine that employees were catching them in bowl after bowl, like rainwater coming from a big leak in the ceiling. I thought it pretty much rocked, but my mom was mortified.

I had my moments as well. When I was a new mother living in a cute little apartment in Irvine, DK and I shared a car, so during the day when he was at work, the stroller was transportation. I pushed Josh in the stroller to the grocery store, and since he was one year old (and because I was a bad mother) he knew what candy was, so I went through the one check-out aisle that did not stock candy. All was well until I got home, lifted up the blanket and found that my sweet little baby had filled the stroller with about twenty packs of cigarettes.

That same baby became a 16-year-old with a crisp new driver’s learning permit. And on the first night that he used it, he had a fender-bender. Well, that may be something of an understatement. He hit the gas instead of the brake in Albertson’s parking lot, and with the Suburban, actually went over a parking median and a tree to hit a Mercedes so hard that it flew backward and hit yet another Mercedes and a Toyota pickup. He still says it was the worst day of his life. That is probably because he is only 23. There will be plenty more to choose from. That night we learned that it is possible to destroy multiple vehicles and full-grown trees, without even getting a dent in a Suburban. The owner of the Mercedes that we completely totaled put his arm around Josh, and told him that in a few years he would tell his kids about it and laugh.

Come to think of it, we probably didn’t laugh about any of these experiences when they happened. Only later. I have to admit, that gives me hope. We’ll probably laugh about this later…

Disclaimer: The fact that my one-year-old had a taste for sugar was not entirely my fault, either, as my mother-in-law introduced him to cheesecake before he had even tasted rice cereal.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The One Where Batman Changed His Status

Do you Facebook? If you don't, then you totally won't get this. It is a review of “Dark Knight” done entirely in Facebook “language.” It is just my twisted humor...manufactured for the roadshow I'm working on. Don’t know what a roadshow is? You are not alone. I checked Wikipedia for a good definition...but they’ve got nothing. Think 15-minute long skit/musical presentation performed by LDS youth from ages 12-18. And believe me...they ALL speak Facebook.

Joining us in-studio are Facebook correspondents Shelby and Ethan, who are reviewing the DVD of “The Dark Knight,” starring Christian Bale.

Ethan: Ethan has updated his status: Ethan is: man, that movie was tight…

Shelby: Shelby commented on Ethan’s status. “Too dark for me…”


Add Bruce Wayne as a friend? (You have three friends in common). How do you know Bruce Wayne? Skip this step? Check Bruce Wayne’s status.

Bruce Wayne has a headache and can barely function. LOL... JK.

Bruce Wayne is now friends with Rachel Dawes.

The Joker is new to Facebook. Suggest friends for The Joker?

Rachel Dawes has updated her status: Rachel is what the heck? I am so confused. (six hours ago)

Rachel is in a relationship with Harvey Dent.

Rachel has joined the group “The Group for People Who Don’t Acknowledge Batman as a Superhero.”

Harvey Dent has commented on Rachel Dawes status. “Don’t be confused, Rachel. Marry me. Tell me this isn’t about Bruce Wayne...”

Rachel Dawes has commented on her own status. “I’m just thinking things over.”

The Joker has added photos. Ethan commented on Joker’s photo. “Nice makeup, man.”

Shelby wrote on Ethan’s wall. “Did you see the pencil thing? That guy is seriously creepy.”

Harvey Dent has updated his profile picture and status. (13 minutes ago). Harvey has joined the Gotham City H.S. Network. Are you Harvey’s classmate?

Harvey took the quiz, “Which superhero sidekick are you?” Harvey is Robin. Grrr.

Harvey wrote on his Superwall, “Harvey IS Batman.”

Rachel Dawes wrote on Bruce Wayne’s wall.

See Wall to Wall. Rachel: “How can you let him take the fall for you?” Bruce: “Maybe Batman is a little more important than you or me, and maybe Dent knows that.” Rachel: “I’m sorry you see it that way.”

Rachel Dawes has removed Bruce Wayne from her friend list. Recommend friends for Bruce Wayne?

Bruce Wayne wrote on Joker’s wall. “Your reign of terror is over.” See Wall to Wall. Joker:
:)LOL. Bruce Wayne: I’m coming for you. Joker: But not right now, because right now, you have a choice to make. The gf or pretty boy Dent.

Bruce Wayne has updated his status: “Bruce is going very fast in the batcar.” (six minutes ago)

The Joker has updated his status: “The Joker is in jail. For now. Muahaha! (about 90 seconds ago)

Rachel Dawes has updated her status: “Rachel is in a warehouse strapped to explosives.”

Harvey Dent has updated his status: “
Harvey is in a warehouse strapped to explosives.”

Wall to wall between Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes: Harvey: Don’t worry. They’ll come for you. Rachel: But in case they don’t, I have to tell you something. Harvey: Don’t say it. They’re coming for you! Rachel: Harvey, I have made up my mind. The answer is yes! I will marry you.

Rachel Dawes is engaged to Harvey Dent.

Bruce Wayne has updated his status. “Bruce is making the wrong decision.”

Harvey Dent has updated his status. “Harvey is what happened? I just lost half my face!”
Harvey wrote on Rachel Dawes’ wall. “Rachel? ... Rachel?”

Harvey Dent is now listed as single.

Rachel Dawes is no longer online.

Bruce Wayne has changed his status. Bruce Wayne is going Jack Bauer on The Joker and Harvey Dent.

Commissioner Gordon wrote on Bruce Wayne’s wall. “You saved my son. But what did you just do to Harvey Dent?

Harvey Dent is no longer online.

Wall to wall between Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne. Bruce: Gotham City needs a hero, and I’m not it. Commissioner: Run, Bruce, run!

Shelby changed her status: Shelby is: OMG that was so sad.

Ethan: Ethan changed his status: Ethan is bored. Let’s watch it again. Ethan IS batman.

Shelby: Shelby changed her status: Shelby is: It is late and I have seminary tomorrow. Gooooooooodniiiiiiiiight!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ethan is no longer online.
Shelby is no longer online.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The One Where Doris Goes After What She Wants

I have a friend. Let's call her Doris. We have these “old lady” names for each other. I can never remember if I am supposed to be Gladys or Doris. If your name actually is Gladys or Doris, my apologies (and sympathy) for calling them old lady names. Doris is the true definition of a BFF, because we have been friends for about 24 years, and even though we sometimes go two or three years without even talking, when we do talk, it is as though we just talked yesterday. If we were a sitcom, we would be “I Love Lucy,” and as much as I hate being the sidekick, I would have to be Ethel, because honestly, Doris is Lucy. And, like Lucy, Doris is a woman who knows what she wants, and is not afraid to go after it. I have always admired that.

We have traveled together to some pretty cool places. Once we flew to Boca Raton, Florida. We were staying at the Boca Raton Resort, which was pretty upscale for us home girls. I am not going to lie and say it was one of my favorite vacations, because I stopped nursing one of my babies in order to go on the five-day trip, and the combination of hormones gone awry, and missing my one-year-old was enough to make me uncharacteristically weepy. To make matters worse, everyone’s luggage arrived at the hotel in a timely manner...except for mine. (Cue the tears again) So Doris put her arm around me and said, “Don't you worry. They will be giving us all free bathrobes before I am done.” I did not actually get a free bathrobe (other than the use of the complimentary one in each room...which came in handy since I had no clothes...) but it was not because Doris didn't try. You should seriously hear her go toe to toe with hotel staff. It is a memorable experience.

All of our meals on that trip were included in the price of our stay. We had only to make reservations at one of the 14 restaurants on the resort. Lucy... *ahem*... DORIS, always gravitated toward the buffets... and brought her biggest purse, if you know what I mean. One morning we had reservations at a breakfast buffet, and after filling our plates, we were loading up on beverages. I was drinking orange juice, and Doris was determinedly leaning over velvet rope barriers to help herself to a clearly-off-limits drink spigot (she was probably after soda of some sort), but with no results...nothing would come out of the spout. Finally she summoned a waiter, indicated the offending beverage dispenser, and complained that it wasn't working. His reply has been my favorite line for these many years: “I’m sorry, ma’am. The thing is, we usually don't have much call for beer at breakfast.” I think the only tears I cried that day were from laughing so much.

So today for my 50th post, here's to friends old and new, tried and true...the Doris’ and the Gardenweasels in my life. Here's to blog friends, going after what you want, free bathrobes, and beer for breakfast.

Disclaimer: Being the good Mormon girls that we are, neither Doris nor I (Gladys) actually drink beer, either for breakfast or at any other time. That is the secret to our youthful beauty. If you want to know more about our beliefs, check out

The One Where She's a Genius in Her Dreams

When I take photos of someone, I fall in love with them a little bit. Maybe all the way, because in order to take good photos, I have to see the beauty in a person, and in the course of doing that, it seems that they become more and more attractive with each photo. Lynda and Allen are no exception. I took pictures for their 50th wedding anniversary, and I just finished all the color correction in Photoshop.

That is probably why I had this weird dream last night. In the dream, I invented something truly revolutionary. I keep a notepad and pencil by my bed for just such occasions. So this morning I scrambled to find the notepad. Did I remember to write it down? Yes, I did. Two words: Photoshop Makeup.

Apparently I invented a makeup kit that contains a set of tools very similar to those found in Photoshop. How awesome is that? In my dream, I was out in public after having used almost the entire arsenal of Photoshop makeup tools. I used the smudge tool to smooth out that little vertical wrinkle I have above my right eyebrow. I whitened my teeth using the dodge tool. I lengthened and added hair, using the rubber stamp tool. I used the burn tool to darken my eyebrows and eye makeup, and I made my eyes just a little bit more blue, using the paint bucket.

I was talking to a friend, and she kept staring at a spot somewhere just above my eyes. I finally asked what she was staring at, and she told me that there must be something wrong with her eyes, because every time she looked at my forehead, her vision was blurry. Dang. I should have used the clone tool instead of the smudge tool. Oh well. Thank goodness for undo. Maybe I should just use the airbrush on everything. Then no matter how close someone gets, I will still seem a little aloof and unattainable. Who doesn't want that?

Photoshop Makeup. Recommended for professionals only. Please use responsibly.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The One With the Hard Things

During a youth meeting yesterday at church, I listened to a talk by a woman I have known for many years. She showed a picture of each of her three children, the youngest of whom is twenty years old, and on a mission right now. She told a story about each of them, and how they had each overcome a difficulty during their teenage years. At the end, she said something that struck me, and I keep thinking about it. She said that what she tried to teach her kids, and what she learned herself in the process, is that together, we can do hard things. I really love that idea. Together, we can do hard things. I thought about my recording project. This last week, it really was hard. I had some setbacks and disappointments, and part of me said that I can’t do the project this year, and that it is going to have to wait. Friends and family told me, don’t worry about it. It is really more of a two-year project anyway. It hurt to even think that. I'm not a crybaby. I have a great life and nothing to cry about, but I'm not going to lie. This was not my favorite week.

My mind keeps going back to a particular night a few months ago. One of my boys had come back late in the evening from an appointment. He was discouraged and hadn’t eaten all day. Boys have to eat. I warmed up some roast beef and potatoes. It looked kind of grim and gray on the plate. I wished there was something bright green to eat. He sat there at the table, cutting up his food and eating it, and I sat down next to him. We didn't talk. It seemed like pure misery was rolling off of him in waves. I knew that he wanted me to go away and stop looking at him, but I couldn’t. I just sat there and watched him eat, and felt the pain. I could tell that each bite he put in his mouth tasted exactly like dirt, because his spirits were so low that night. He probably doesn't even remember that experience, but it was carved into my memory.

He didn't want help, or even sympathy. I understand that, because I am exactly the same way. But sometimes we can't do the hard things alone. I got a letter today. My friend doesn't know about my challenges, but she told me that she had been thinking about my project for days, and that she had some ideas for me. She wanted me to know that the thought of my music made her happy and excited, and that her heart was with me and the project. I don't know how I can make this happen. Even without my current challenges, my project goes in the "hard things" category. I have been trying not to think about it this week because it has been painful. But I'm going to trust that I will find a way, because I'm not alone, and together, we can do hard things.

Footnote: Check out these blogs that talk about how we can do hard things together: The Life and Times of Della Hill and Pikes Pickles. I also love this talk by Elaine Dalton called A Return to Virtue.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The One Where Skippy Made Up For Everything

Skippy gave the scripture in Primary today. Giving the scripture is the best-case scenario—total win/win for me and for him. It is cooler than offering the prayer, but doesn’t require the same parental preparation of giving a talk. And Skippy did a great job. We worked on the scripture for a couple of days so he would be good at it. There is a lot riding on it. More than you might imagine…

It has to make up for those times when Skippy has shown up for church without having had a bath in three days, and wearing cowboy boots with no socks under shorts that are maybe just a little too short. (So sue me for letting the Skipster pick out his own clothes…) It makes up for that Sunday where he informed me in a rather exaggerated stage whisper, Mama, I’m STILL not wearing my underwear, and so I ask, What do you mean, STILL? He says, I told you yesterday, I don’t have any clean underwear. I tell him, That’s not a problem, Skip. Just don’t tell anyone but me that you’re going commando today.

It makes up for the fact that when he was just a nine-month-old baby, I brought Honey-Nut Cheerios in the little plastic container instead of the regular kind of Cheerios, and in the humidity they all kind of stuck together, and one of the other moms said, why are your Cheerios all stuck together like that? And I replied that they were maybe Honey-Nut Cheerios, and she gave me that look of horror and pity all mixed up and said, You feed your nine-month-old sugared cereal? Uh, NO. It is honey…thus the name HONEY Nut Cheerios. And besides, have you ever tasted plain Cheerios? All you can taste are the 12 vitamins and minerals with which the oats have been fortified.

Doing a good job on the scripture makes up for the times Skippy has worn jeans because we couldn’t find the church pants he wore the week before because they were mixed in with the rest of the clothes that had been discarded onto the floor all week long. Once Annie, who is Liam’s age but doesn’t need speech therapy, came up to me and informed me: Skippy isn’t wearing church clothes today. I looked her in the eye and replied that, as it happens, Skippy is not really a church kind of guy.

It makes up for that Sunday when I realized Skippy had NO shoes that would fit on his feet without having to wad his feet into little painful balls. So in desperation I took him to Famous Footwear during Sacrament Meeting and bought him some shoes. The ox was honestly in the mire that day because I don’t shop on Sunday unless it is an emergency, but it has apparently scarred him for life…he was only one and a half years old, but he still throws it up in my face: Why do I have to go to Primary today? Can’t we just go to the shoe store again like that one time? Are you kidding me? You can’t possibly remember that! If you can remember that, then tell me this: what does the pre-existence look like? Huh? Huh? Just as I thought.

Okay, so maybe we should have offered to give the talk. Clearly, I have a lot to make up for.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The One With Brown Paper Packages

This one is maybe a little random, but my last post was about something I dislike, and I hate to be negative all the time, so I thought I would make a favorites list. I had to leave out most of the obvious ones. I mean, of course I like going out to eat. I like newborn babies. I like finding money in the pockets of clothes I haven't worn in awhile... but who doesn't? I tried to think of the ones you might not know. So...

These are a few of my favorite things:

Bossing people around (in a nice way of course) Okay. So you probably knew that one.
Cinnamon Red-hots
Sleeping with the lights and the TV on
Washing clothes (but not folding them or putting them away)
New York City
Painting a room. But only for the first hour. After that, not so much
Simultaneously chatting with three people on Facebook
Tang (yup, the official beverage of astronauts)
Reading a long-awaited sequel to a really good book
Being alone in my house (I think…I can't actually remember the last time it happened)
Cooking for someone I really love
Cooking for someone I like, who really loves food (even better!)
Staying in a nice hotel
Drinking Sprite with Mexican food
Long conversations late at night (but definitely in person, not on the phone)
Going to movies by myself, with really awesome candy
Driving fast
Letters from friends
Los Angeles Times Crossword Puzzles, with a freshly-sharpened pencil
Anything to do with Valentine’s Day
Childbirth (physical discomfort aside, it is the ultimate rush)
Camping in the mountains, with boys to set up the tents
Going to Cheesecake Factory and ordering nothing but appetizers
Shooting baskets with my kids

I could go on all day. It's all good...isn't it?

Friday, January 9, 2009

The One With the Little Science Lesson

I used to have a housekeeper. My house was cleaner then. You're thinking, "Well, yeah... duh." But it's not what you think (unless you have had a housekeeper... then it is probably exactly what you are thinking). When I had a housekeeper, I used to spend hours every week cleaning so the house would be clean before the housekeeper came. It cost me about $100 every week for that. At some point I decided to pretend that the housekeeper was coming, and save myself that $100 every week. It didn't work. Not even for a week. In fact, I was so happy not to stress out over the housekeeper anymore that I would have paid $100 a week for them just to not come. Plus there was that time the housekeeper accidentally drank bleach at my house... that was pretty traumatic, I'm not gonna lie.

But now it has been three or four years since I had the housekeeper to make me clean (clean, the verb, not clean, the adjective). I'm looking around right now, and it is not good. I thought about taking a few pictures so you could see what I am talking about. But there are those among you who would still not be able to identify with my problem. In fact, you're thinking right now, "In the time it took you to write this post, you could have cleaned your whole downstairs. Scrubbed three toilets. Put away your Christmas decorations. Man, you just don't get it, do you?

It is not my fault. The laws of physics are against me:

1. Newton's First Law of Motion states that in order for the motion of an object to change, a force must act upon it, a concept generally called inertia. There are no such forces at work in my home, therefore all of the objects that are cluttering my house are doomed to stay where they are.

2. Newton's Second Law of Motion, translated from Latin, states: The acceleration produced by a particular force acting on a body is directly proportional to the magnitude of the force and inversely proportional to the mass of the body. There was this one time when Ethan and Dillon were racing toward each other after school so that they could walk home. They both came around the same corner at the same time, and the resulting collision sent them both to the health office. Ethan was nursing a head injury...although that was the year where I had to go to the health office six different times to sign that head injury form for Ethan, so I wasn't terribly worried about him...and the janitor was still mopping up the blood from Dillon's nose, which was clearly broken. But...I digress...Newton's Second Law of Motion has no application to my housework, because there is no force, and definitely no acceleration at work here.

3. Newton's Third Law of Motion: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or, the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts. This one is probably my worst enemy. For every single object I pick up, there is not one, but several other people leaving/dropping/drooling/slopping/dumping/throwing objects much faster than I can possibly pick up. I am in this alone.

4. The Law of Gravity. This one is working against me as well. I have come to realize that the problem is too much horizontal space. When I put up the lid on my piano so that it is at a steep diagonal, then no one can leave their stuff there. What I need is for every surface in my house to be at a slant...preferably all slanting toward one big central vacuum system/floor drain, with an industrial-size hose that I can use to just hose everything down periodically. Then gravity would be working in my favor. You may have noticed that my blog is really neat and tidy. Peaceful. Almost soothing, right? Proves my point. It's always vertical... or at least at a pretty steep slant.

Listen. I could get into the Theory of Relativity, or Quantum Physics. It wouldn't matter. I will tell you right now, that none of them want me to have a clean house. Right now, I think I'm going to go bake something (physics loves me in the kitchen) and then lie down for awhile. The gravity is really starting to wear on me...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The One With the Baby Finger

Mama said there’d be days like this…

Well, no. She didn’t. In fact, if Mama had told you that, you might not have had kids. I got a phone call at 10:00 p.m. a few nights ago. One of the boys brought me the phone. “It’s Ruth, and she sounds pretty upset.” Yes, she was pretty upset. She tried to tell me through her sobs what the problem was. As soon as I heard the words “baby” and “fingernail clipper” I knew immediately what had happened. It took me right back to the very first time that I was a terrible mom. There have been so many times since then, that I have stopped counting. But that first one… it really has stuck with me.

It was the time when I called DK, crying hysterically, and told him he had to come home from work… right now… because I had cut the baby. I was trimming his fingernails, and suddenly, that little crunch that I feel/hear when I clip a nail…was followed immediately by a shriek of pain from the tiny newborn baby. I almost couldn’t bear to look, and when I did, I saw that I had not clipped the nail, but in fact taken a little nip out of the finger, which was now bleeding. My new baby, the tiny person that every instinct told me to protect with my life, was damaged, and I had inflicted that damage. I still get a little sick to my stomach thinking about it.

In the grand scheme of things, it was the tiniest of blips on the radar. My parenting errors have grown with the children… bigger, better… each more impressive than the last. Have twenty-three years of being a parent perhaps made me a little bit calloused? When Skippy was a newborn, we were asked if he could play the baby Jesus in a live nativity that is offered one weekend each December. The nativity is called “Follow the Star,” and it is really beautiful. I was pretty excited about it, and we arrived at the event at the same time as another couple, whose baby was scheduled to participate. As we arrived, a few raindrops began to fall. The “show” goes on in any case except very hard rain, so we dressed him in his swaddling clothes. Just before the first show, the other mother came to me, and asked anxiously, “Are you going to let your baby be in the nativity, even if it is raining?” I said yes, looking at the nice lady who was Mary that evening, thinking that she would certainly keep Skippy safe and dry. The other mother (who, by the way, was my age) said, “How many kids do you have, again?” I replied that Skippy was my seventh. She said, “Oh. That explains it. This is our first baby. We are very careful with him.” I still find that remark to be hilarious. I thought to myself, “Yup, he is number seven. We don’t even put him in a car seat. We just strap him to the top of the car.” So, because of a few raindrops, Skippy got to star in each and every performance that night. It was magical to sit in the audience, and hear someone’s breath catch in surprise and awe when a little baby hand reached up from the bundle Mary cradled in her arms, and to hear someone whisper, “Oh look! The baby Jesus is real!” What a great memory. Even if he is my seventh baby.

I really don’t know that there are such things as parenting callouses. Each little person you welcome into your home opens you up to a whole new world of hurt. And joy. That is how it works. So, Saturday night: “It’s okay, Ruth. Don’t cry. Just put a band-aid on him. He’ll be okay.” “I don’t HAVE a band-aid," she wailed.” “Okay, stop crying. I’ll be there in five minutes.” An hour and a half, four homemade chocolate chip cookies, a dab of Neosporin and one very tiny band-aid later, everyone had stopped crying and I went home. Ruth’s first bad-parenting moment. And so it begins...

Monday, January 5, 2009

The One Where Nothing Happened

You know, it's easy to write an interesting blog when you are an interesting person, to whom interesting things happen. But it takes a real pro to keep on writing when day after day, nothing happens. At all. The highlight of my day today was when I looked at the clock and realized I was late to pick Skippy up at kindergarten. I knew I was in trouble when I ran up after flagrantly parking in front of one of those really giant fire hydrant things... to find that he was the only child left on the curb. He looked me in the eye and said, "You are late." He stomped out to the car, and refused to let me open the door for him. I said, "Hey, buddy... how was your first day back to school? I missed you!" He replied, "No you didn't. Kindergarten is very short." Amen to that. Me: "I'm sorry I was late... I was fixing my hair?" Glance hopefully at my reflection in the tinted window. Nope, that one isn't going to fly. "I was taking a shower?" Again, no. In my defense, kindergarten is actually OVER at 11:20 a.m. And it's the first day back from break. Okay, fine. I am a slob. A dirty, uncombed slob. "Mommy was busy making you cookies." That one got his attention: "Then where are they?" Oops. "The missionaries ate them?" This is not going well. "Okay, Skip. I'm going to level with you right here. I went back to sleep for a half-hour after you left for school. When I woke up again, I ate most of that loaf of banana bread you were hoping to have with your lunch. Mommy is experiencing something of a holiday hangover. Mormon-style. That banana bread was just hair of the dog, if you catch my drift. I chased it down with some disgustingly flat Martinelli's leftover from New Year's Eve, and then logged in to check my e-mail and pretended to be working on writing the roadshow, while actually playing around on Facebook."

Skippy: "Oh."

Footnote: I'm not going to lie. I actually got a lot done today. In fact, you would probably be surprised by all the things I get done every day. It's not your fault for not realizing. I look deceptively lazy. It is one of my secret superpowers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The One With the Stupid Missionary Tricks

My mission- aries are the best. They work hard. People call them names, spit on them, mock them and lie to them. In response to that, they just smile, shake hands, and do their best to share a message about Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. Many times as I go about doing laundry or straightening upstairs (okay, fine...shoving the protruding dirty laundry back into the laundry room so that I can close the door), I hear them in their room, doing their planning, and occasionally I even happen to hear their prayers. They kneel together and they pray for all the people they are teaching. They are so obedient and hard-working, that it is easy to forget that they are only 20-year-old boys. Most of the time. Until they decide to engage in Stupid Missionary Tricks. You know... like burning things to celebrate the one-year mark. Saran-wrapping a whole car. Oh wait... I actually did that one. Anyway, last night for New Year's Eve they took it into their heads to have a maple syrup-chugging contest. Each of them drank most of a bottle of generic "pancake syrup" that didn't even have a hint of genuine maple flavoring. They felt so sick that they weren't even able to enjoy the New Year's Eve spread I had prepared. They came downstairs later to play a board game with us and Skippy managed to swipe Elder H's water bottle and spike it with a little maple syrup. I have never seen anyone run so fast to the sink to spit. They did bring that on themselves...I told them all day not to drink maple syrup.

But, you know what? Today they are back to work. No syrup hangover or anything. I, on the other hand, stayed in my pajamas all day. Maybe they had it right: Cut loose once a year and go on a diabetic spree. Then get back to work. maple daiquiris, anyone?