Monday, December 30, 2013

Up Where They Play All Day In The Sun

My very favorite Christmas tradition happens on the night of Christmas Eve: We get dressed in our jammies, load our blankets and pillows out to the car and drive around looking at all the Christmas lights and listening to the Christmas music on the radio. As a child I remember looking forward to this with just as much anticipation as opening presents. I loved being together as a family, gasping over beautiful displays, laughing at mistaking real deer for Christmas decorations, judging if a cul-de-sac was too covered in snow to get the car in and out without getting caught in a snowbank,  and falling asleep to the hum of the car engine. My dad knew all the best decorated houses and neighborhoods in the city. I remember picking out my favorite decoration and knowing just which lights I would decorate my house with, once I was old enough to have one.

Now I am old enough to have a house. I do have a house, but I do not put up my long list of Christmas lights up on the outside. Christmas lights in Sunland seem a little sad to me: forever waiting for that soft blanket of snow that has no intention of coming. Christmas light in Sunland seem like a mimic; a knock-off. It just doesn't hold the same magic.

Still, my daughters don't seem to mind, so the tradition of Christmas Eve light-driving continues. Even if it does make me a little nostalgic for Hometown.

Don't feel bad for me. In fact, if you are cursing your current cold weather, do not read this post any further.

Feeling nostalgic for hometown lasted almost twenty four hours. After that the high seventy degree weather won me back. Saturday we spent a perfect day on a beautiful beach: playing ultimate Frisbee barefoot in the sand, getting a small sun tan, eating the most delicious food barbecued in front of some breath-taking waves, and generally enjoying the summer weather.

Monday we drove down to the tide pools. The tide was at a low and we went in search of all sorts of sea creatures. We went in shorts and barefeet: swimsuit tops and sunglasses. We waded through the foot-deep warm waters that were as clear as glass and poked under rocks to see the crabs scurry away. We saw lots of sea anemones, that I learned you can actually stick your finger in and they will suck it in along with all thjeir little waving petals. We toughed a few crabs, which reared up in irritation, and we even saw a starfish and a the coolest, softest sea slug (which is much prettier than it sounds). Afterwards we soaked in a hot tub and made plans to spend New Year's Eve Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding on the lagoon.

Now this is the way to spend Christmas vacation. I love it here.




Thursday, December 19, 2013

He Does Not Go To School. He is Too Busy Making Those Sneakers You are Wearing. I Kid You. He is a Doctor. I Kid You Again. You are so gullible

I've always been gullible, although I prefer to use words like: "open-minded" or "non judgmental". Still, if I read something: it's true. if someone tells me something: it's true. Multiple choice tests were always the worst for me. I'd know the answer to the question, but when I read the different choices I'd find myself saying: "Oh! I see how that could be true. That one does have a good point. I see where this one is coming from..."

I've found that part of me changing a little bit. Maybe it's because I'm a little wiser (hah!)? Maybe because I'm getting set in my ways? I'm not sure. But here is the proof:

A friend of mine told me that T (a person we both know, but not very well) was engaged. "Was" being the key word. According to T her finance died last week. He was bitten by a spider and died within a day.

This is not the sort of thing a raging arachnophob likes to hear. And yet, when I heard, my reaction was to cock my head to one side and say "Huh. I do not think that is truth."  Which is a surprising reaction coming from my gullible self. I sat down to google the chances of dying from a spider bite. I din't get very far. All websites with such statistics also have pictures of spiders, so I couldn't stay on the website for more than half a second.

Still, from what little I could glean, unless T was engaged to a very small child or a pregnant woman, her statement was false. Chances of dying from a spider bite in the U.S. for anyone: slim to none. Chances of dying from a spider bite in the U.S if you are an adult male: none.

So I answered: "Are you sure she didn't break up with her finance and she just wished he was eaten by spiders?"

Who knows? Certainly not me.

That very night I was outside taking my laundry off the clothesline. It was already dark and I was barefoot (of course. The reason I live in Sunland is so I can go outside, at night, mid-December, with no shoes and not get cold).  As I stepped on to the grass my toe began to burn. I knew instantly I'd been bit or stung by something. I screamed and shook my foot but in the dark I have no idea what bit me. I ran inside to apply a baking soda paste (which works great on bee stings) while trying not to jump to conclusions. It was no use: I was bitten by a spider. I'm going to die. I have less than a day to live. This is my punishment for being skeptical instead of compassionate toward T. Good-bye cruel, vengeful-spider-filled world.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I am so very sick.

For Thanksgiving we went to Drek's sister's house and met up with the majority of Drek's family like we did the year before. I have loved it both years. I'm all in favor of making it a permanent Thanksgiving tradition.

But it does have drawbacks. Thanksgiving is during cold and flu season. There are fourteen small children (and counting!). One of them, if not half of them, will be sick. Or getting sick, or recovering from being sick.  Gathering children from three different states ensures that new germs are being introduced to young, inexperienced immune systems.  Sugar is a must for Thanksgiving (cereal for breakfast, pies for dessert, candy everywhere) so my children's  immune systems shut down. Driving home all day in a car with sick kids, breathing the same contaminated air means that by the time we arrive home we are all sick.

After spending WEEKS with sick kids, sick husband, and being sick myself, canceling plans, missing LLL meetings, and generally being miserable, we finally all start to recover when we are hit with a new strain of something and I find myself even more sick than I was, with a throat so sore I can't swollow, wondering if, between a four year that won't take naps no matter how sick she is, and an infant that coughs so hard at night she throws up on me (three nights in a row), I will ever have three hours of uninterupped sleep ever again.

And yet, it's December. And I have small children. It should be a given that our family spends a month hovering near the brink of death. That's just how it works. I should be grateful that our family usually misses this sort of thing, and, in fact, it's been a few years since we were all this sick.

But I'm not grateful. I'm cursing these germs. I'm furious at the timing. My dear friend starts emergency chemo and radiation today. I haven't been able to see her since we left for our Thanksgiving vacation. I can't go anywhere near her, or have her come anywhere near the girls, because she might get our germs and since she has no immune system, she will die.

So here I am, uselessly lying in bed, waiting. Hoping I will get to see her before it's too late.






Friday, December 13, 2013

There Up In The Sky A Star To Follow

I got Drek clothes for his birthday. Since Drek isn't big on surprises, it was more of an announcement: "Hey! I'm getting you clothes for your birthday! Happy Birthday!" and then pulling up a few websites for him to order from. He ended up ordering from two stores: Macey's and JC Penny. He ordered with the intent to return the majority of clothes, since clothes shopping for him is an every-other-year event and he's not sure what styles and sizes he will like.

The clothes arrive, he picked his favorites, we were careful to save all receipts, tags and bags. Today I googled the nearest mall (yes, I had to google it. Why would I go to a mall except to return stuff ordered online?), packed the kids in the car and off we went! As I turned the corner and saw the mall in front of me I was hit with a sudden realization: It is December. I am at a mall. Oh noes.

Finding a parking spot was awful. I had to follow someone to their car and take their spot. Once we parked I realized Ash didn't have any shoes. You may think that would have been enough for me to give up and mail the return back, but no. I had already googled this place. I already wasted gas to get here. I already found a parking spot.

So I put Ash on my back in the baby carrier, hold Alexa in one hand and the two huge bags of returns in the other hand. Off we trek through the parking lot! Into the mall! Bypass the huge line to ask the employee where I return stuff! The answer was in any line. So I wait in line for ten minutes, do a quick and pleasant return, then set out through the mall to find the other store: JC Penny. Of course it is on the other side of the giant mall. While we are hiking through the enormous building Ash is asking all sorts of questions, because she's hasn't been inside malls very much and she wants to know what EVERYTHING is. We make it to the middle of the mall and, of course, there is Santa. Groan.

Ash wants to talk to Santa. She doesn't know what she will say, but she really wants to talk to him. I tell her we'll talk with Santa on the way back, because I still have one huge bag that I is slipping out of my hand, but I can't switch hands because I'm carrying Alexa.

We finally arrive at JC Penny. I find the Customer Service desk and wait in line. When we finally make it to the front I am informed that returns must be done downstairs.

I search for an escalator, take it downstairs, find the desk marked "Service: returns and exchanges" and wait in that line. When I get to the front of that line, I am told that internet return are at a different place. She directs me to the proper counter. I go off in search of it, get lost, ask someone else, wander around, and finally find the desk. Even better; there is no line! I give her the bag and the receipt and then watch in horror as he does the return by hand. She does not scan barcodes like Macey's. She has to to match the twelve digit numbers by hand. Because I am returning seven items out of a ten item receipt, it takes a long, long time.  While I wait realize that in two years, when Drek is wanting new clothes, I might have forgotten this experience, so I send him a text:

Rule 1: No clothes for your birthday because that means I am returning in December. From now on you get clothes for Easter.

Rule 2: We are NEVER ordering from JC Pennys EVER AGAIN. Macey's, on the other hand, is just fine.

After everything is returned I make the journey back across the mall with my hands bag-free, although the child on my back is getting heavier by the minute. We make it back to Santa, who has just gone on lunch break and won't be back for an hour. I can't say I'm not thrilled. I tell Ash that Santa will be at the ward party, so she can talk to him tomorrow. She does not complain.

We head out, find our car and I slip the two kids back into their carseats. Finally! I can breathe again! Of course, getting out of a mall parking lot in December is a feat in itself, but we are triumphant!


Friday, December 06, 2013

P.S. The Bird Bites

A few weeks ago we were settling down to bed when I heard some suspicious noises coming from our front room. I made Drek investigate. He determined the noise was coming from our fireplace. During the day, if a bird lands on our chimney it makes the same noise, but this was night! Drek took a flashlight and went outside. A few minutes later he came back in, took me outside and shone the light up on our chimney.

An Owl! It looked right at us! After marveling over how beautiful it was, we tried to tell it that we had a beautiful home needing an owl family set up ion our palm tree. The owl made no movements to indicate it understood.

Still, last night we saw an owl sitting in our palm tree! Cross your fingers that a family moves in and decides to eat our pesky ground squirrel for dinner!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Mean, What the Heck is It, Anyway?


And for today's mystery creature I give you: 


It was at the freshwater aquarium but without one of those handy description plaques. Is there such thing as a turtle mole? 







Friday, November 01, 2013

Call me a Two Dollar Costume King, Baby

So...Halloween. I decorated the yard like a graveyard again. We STILL don't have any landscaping, which is a perk for Halloween. I also put Halloween lights up in the windows, which was festive. 

We painted/carved pumpkins. We decorated our car for the ward trunk-or-treat. It took two minutes and turned out awesome: 


Other than that, Halloween was very low key this year. I tried to do our Annual How To Host A Murder, but missing two weeks of October made it so we couldn't get our schedules to work together. So, since we already had the game (Class of '54) we invited couples from our ward over. It went great! This was the first How To Host A Murder ever where I thought my costume was spot-on. So I was quite happy. The game went great; this episode was very enjoyable, although no one figured out the murder.
As for actual Halloween costumes...I just didn't have the time, energy, or interest this year. Alexa's was bought from a thrift store, and the base of Ash's was, too; although I did modify it quite a bit. Actually, I never ended up finishing Ash's costume at all. And then every single time she dressed up I forgot to grab the face paint, so her costume was never complete. Sigh. I'll try again next year. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Terribly Simple. The Good Guys are Always Stalwart and True. The Bad Guys are Easily Distinguished by their Pointy Horns or Black Hats, and, uh, We Always Defeat Them and Save the Day. No One Ever Dies and... Everybody Lives Happily Ever After.

We are back from our three week trip to hometown. We had a lovely visit with everyone in hometown but my goodness I am so glad that trip is over. It was terrible.

The first day of our trip Drek's cousin died. He was only nineteen, so it was very tragic. The only upside was that Drek came out to the funeral, giving us a few days together were otherwise we wouldn't have seen him for several weeks.

After Drek left my dad went in for his scheduled surgery and stayed overnight in the ICU. He made a miraculous recovery, and it was great that I could be there to visit him and my mom and the hospital, but the results from the surgery were devastating: my dad has lung cancer.

A few days later came the diagnosis I was expecting but dreading for a dear friend of mine: Also lung cancer.

The day we left my grandpa died.  So, really, I wanted to leave as soon as possible before something else catastrophic happened.

The people and the events we did while we were there were wonderful. It was simply bad timing.  On the bright side, I got to hang out with my wonderful family, family in-law and friends. My sister came home from her mission and I did get to see my mountains that I miss so much while I am away. Although it did snow. SNOW. I despise snow. I'm so glad we are home.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

I'm Paying. Which Means I'm Paying. You Know That's Right.

While doing our treasure hunt we discovered this place has a playground! I took the girls down to the park and let them run around with a dozen other children. One other parent was sitting at the bench across from mine; He had a boy and a girl that were playing quite nicely with Ash, but I couldn't see any other parents. After a few minutes I realized that all the other kids knew each other. I also noticed there a group of adults moving luggage between the parking lot and the suites just next to the playground. A few of the adults, as well a few of the children, were wearing BYU apparel. I smiled: A family reunion.

A few minutes later the grandmother came out of her suite to watch the kids. She sat down next to me and I asked if it was a family reunion. She grinned and proudly explained that six children and seventeen grandchildren were here for five days. "I'm only missing one daughter, my youngest. She's at school in Hawaii and couldn't miss class."

"BYU Hawaii?" I asked
The grandmother looked startled so I quickly explained: "I just noticed all the BYU logos."
The parent across from us overheard the conversation and chimed in "I'm actually not with them." It was then I realized he, too, was wearing  BYU hat. He came over and we all talked about BYU and what we were all doing here. The grandfather came out to join us. I asked him why they planned a family reunion so lat ein the summer, after school started.

The gradfather answered: " Well this year was a little different. We do a family reunion every year, see? I like to get the kids back together for a few days. We've done different resorts and cruises during the summer. The kids like to pick and make me pay for it. Hahaha! But this Christmas one of my daughter's found really cheap airfare to Hawaii, so as a Christmas present I gave everyone a Hawaii vacation so we could all see the youngest daughter. We did that in March and it was there that it came out one of our sons-in-law has never been to Lake Powel, and that was the family camping spot every year, so I rented a few boats and cabins down there and we roughed it back in July. No one wanted a camping trip to be the actual reunion so I did this with all my reward points. Gotta use 'em sometime, right? We got five suites right next to the playground for all the grandkids."

...Man. I am apparently attending the wrong family reunions. Who do I see about switching?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fifty Men on a Dead Mans Chest. Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum

We are off on our trip to Hometown for my sister's homecoming! First stop: The beach!

My uncle invited us to a resort right on the beach for the weekend. It is awesome here! They have all sorts of activities you can do throughout the day. Some activities are for kids, some activities are for adults. Once activity caught my eye: Pirate Party! Come party like a pirate, make a pirate hat and search for treasure! Ages 3-12. 

Wahoo! Pirate Party! Ash and Alexa and I attended and were rewarded with an awesome pirate hat-craft and cool pirate snacks (goldfish, apple juice and gold coin chocolates). But the best part was the "search for treasure": hidden around the resort was little treasure chests. Clues to the location of each chest were in riddle form on your "treasure map".  In each chest were certain color beads. Once you found the chest, you take a single bead out of it and add it to a bracelet. Once you collect all the beads, you return to the start to claim your prize. 

I am delighted. This is my kind of game! I am so ready to Amazing-Race-this-up! The person in charge handed out the treasure maps to all the other moms with toddlers and preschoolers. They all started with riddle number one, reading it aloud to their child and asking the children where they think the treasure chest might be. 

I, on the other hand, came up with the winning strategy: grabbing the girls we dashed out of the room. Safely out of earshot of the competition, we started with with the last riddle. I read it aloud before shouting: "The pool! Ash! It's at the pool! Let's go!"  We dashed of on a dead run. Once we got to the pool I let Ash find the treasure chest. We got the bead and added to Ash's bracelet. I read the next clue aloud. "Front Desk! Hurry! We have to go fast!" 

And so on. With two clues left to go we ran into the other mothers and children coming in the other direction. While we had already found eight chests, they were looking for their third. They had stopped to play mini golf after spending several minutes on the playground. Clearly they did not have such a sense of urgency. 

We blasted through the last two riddles and showed up breathless at the start. Ash showed her completed multi-colored bracelet to the startled employee. 

"You are done already?! Wow! That must be some sort of record! I don't think I've ever had anyone finish so fast!" 

Darn right. That's because you've never played with the fierce Pirate K-La before. Or maybe I'm just a little over-competitive. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

And the Last Ee Saw of ol' Bill Turner, He was Sinkin' into the Crushing Black Oblivion of Davy Jones' Locker

Drek has been working a lot of overtime lately. He has a lot of business trips coming up, and since I am also planning a trip back to Hometown to see my sister come home from her mission (!),  Drek decided to take half a day off to spend a little time with the family.

My parents are here visiting us for the September of Birthdays and together we drove down the beach to spend some time on the sand, in the waves, and in a kayak.

I convinced Drek to come with me in the Kayak to take a closer look at the cove and hopefully see some sharks. Drek and I convinced Ash to come with us. We inflated our Kayak, strapped on our Life jackets and off we went!

Drek is not a fan of the ocean. He is not a fan of cold water, either. He says being cold and wet is his description of a terrible time, so Ocean Kayaking isn't really something he seeks out. Ash is terrified of the waves. She'll play in the sand, and this summer she even played a little bit in the tint little waves, but the big crashing waves frightens her. So here we are, trying to take an inflatable kayak out into the big, cold, wet, waves.

Once Ash realized where this boat ride was headed, she tried to bail. This was as ew were launching, so it caused quite the rocking of the boat. Thankfully, Drek and I were still out of the boat, so were were able to stabilize it before she flipped it over. We got her to sit down, than ran it out into the surf. I jumped it and paddled like mad, two waves later Drek jumped it and joined me in trying to keep the kayak pointed towards the waves so we could go over them instead of under them.

A few minutes later we were out on the beautiful ocean rolling on the waves, happy as can be. Both Ash and Drek cheered up quite a bit and we had a pleasant time getting to the cove, looking at the sea lions, spying bright orange fish swimming below us and taking in the sunshine. Sadly, there were no sharks. This time of year is supposed to be the time you can find them by the hundreds. They swim close the the shore and are harmless, so I was really hoping to be able to touch one.  

We had enough and made the return trip. As we started getting closer to the shore, the apprehension returned. Drek said he was just going to jump out and carry Ash to the shore, rather than risk a wave capsizing the boat with them both inside. He had a valid point, since Ash can't swim, and we weren't sure how she would handle being in the water with a life jacket, since she never had before. Besides, if the boat flipped over, who knew if a head would come in contact with something hard, or what the waves would do to a four year old.

"No! We can make it! Besides, the risk is the best part!" I exclaimed gleefully. Drek was not so sure, but since I insisted both he and Ash remain in the boat, he didn't have a lot of options.  He ran over a few instruction as we got closer.

"Keep the kayak straight! Make sure to keep it straight! Once I say, paddle as hard as you can!"

We were close enough to the shore for the rolling waves to turn into a crashing surf. The first wave hit us, but didn't take us anywhere.

"Paddle! Paddle Hard! Keep us straight!" Drek shouted.

 I paddled. Ash held on for dear life.

Suddenly, I saw creatures swimming below us. "Sharks!" I cried out with delight. "Here they are! Look! There are all over!"

"PADDLE!" Drek shouted "Don't get distracted!" I could hear the panic in his voice as another wave crashed into us, nudging us closer to the sand.

I paddled, and we glided gently onto the beach a few waves later. Super easy.

We pulled the boat onto the shore, helped Ash out and I somehow convinced Drek to return to the waves with me, sans kayak, to look for the sharks. I had a blast diving under the waves just before they crashed, while Drek hung back and tried to bob over them, cursing the fact that he didn't take off his T-shirt before it became soaked and freezing. I found a few huge fish but couldn't see any more sharks. Ah, well. I'm pretty sure I touched one with my oar.

I had such a good time I wish Drek could take more days off so we could do it again, although I think Drek might make up a few work assignments to avoid it.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

He showed her how olfactory cues could trigger memories, release floods of endorphins and pheromones and caused by logical and psychological reactions that deeply impacted the way people behave and feel. Using the smell of unfiltered cigarettes to evoke fond memories of her grandmother, he opened her eyes and heart through her nose

I've discovered my local grocery store has "testers" of essential oils. You can open any of these testers, smell it, and dab a drop on your finger. Since a drop is all you need with essential oils, I've found this is a fantastic way to try out new oils before I buy them. I try a new every grocery trip.

During my last trip I decided to try Lime. I dabbed a drop on my finger and smelled it. Instantly I was transported back to the house my grandmother (Nanny) lived in several years ago. She had a lime tree in her backyard. Since I couldn't have been more than ten or eleven at the time, I didn't really care about the lime tree, but my nose sure did! I found myself standing right in front of that tree. Happy memories of my Nanny came flooding back. Until that moment, I had no idea I associated the smell of limes with her.

The next day I went out to my own lime tree to check it out. Drek and I only bought and planted the lime tree because it was on sale for such a good price. It was not one of the trees we tried to seek out, nor was it one we planned for. We planted it two years ago, and it has thrived. A few weeks ago I noticed there were actual limes growing on it. Remembering my smell association, I wanted to see if any of the limes were ripe. To my delight, there are dozens of limes growing on my tree. Several are close to ripe, but only two seemed ready to pick. I brought them inside and made a black bean, corn, avocado salad with honey lime dressing. The recipe uses lime juice and lime zest. I t was wonderful to zest and juice my own limes, but even more wonderful that the smell made me think I was making the recipe alongside my Nanny.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

It Gets Better Every Year

September in our family means birthdays! My dad's birthday is first, and once again I attempted to make him his favorite cake: Tunnel of Fudge cake.

This cake requires a lot of eggs and a lot of butter. I think using our farm-fresh eggs from happy chickens really pays off for this cake. Look at the delicious batter:

Lat year, it tuned out great, it just didn't slip out of the pan quite intact. This year, it came our perfect:

Inside you can see the tunnel of fudge: 

Next year I'll cook ir for 5 minutes less. I'm hoping that will make the tunnel a little bigger. After all, it is the best part of the cake! 




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Whodunnit

It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of ABC's reality show "The Mole." I've seen all five seasons, and watched seasons one and three multiple times.  I can remember most of the games and can tell you who won  and who was the Mole in each season.

I'm such a huge fan, I have run my own "The Mole" games with my own challenges, twists and intrigue. They are awesome, just ask anyone who has played them.

So when I heard ABC was doing a reality show called "Whodunnit" that was a sort of spinoff of "The Mole" I recruited Drek to watch them with me, settled down with some chocolate and watched away. I had the killer pegged in the first episode. The show wasn't as great as the Mole, but, still. It was ok. Until the finale. What in the world? Who wrote that stuff? That was awful! The winner had no idea who the killer was! The whole point of the show was to find the killer! The only reason he won was because he could run faster?

The winner should be the person who knew the identity of the killer. However, when you are down to three, there is a good chance both players will bet on the same person, so speed is also crucial.  The last episode featured a game filled with puzzles and riddles that were very cool, but misused.

Here's what should have happened:

The three players would race to complete the riddles. The last riddle would take them to Giles. When the players told Giles "You are not the killer" Giles would hand them a set of golden hancuffs and say "Then take these to apprehend the real killer."

The players would race back downstairs and use the last puzzle piece to The three players would race to complete the riddles. Once they had all the correct puzzle pieces and their question mark was all lit up, the screen would tell them which room was their next destination, and the key unlocking that room would be given to them. Each player would have their own room. They would run to the room and enter alone. The door opens to a tiny enclosed space, no bigger than a bathroom. The door locks behind them. The far wall would have a single locked door is pained with the "Whodunnit" logo. In the middle of the room is a stand with two buttons. Above the each button is a picture and name of the two suspects.  Kam's room would have Kris and Lindsay, Lindsay's room would have Kam and Kris. The task is simple: Pick the killer, press their button. The winner had to have picked the correct killer first. Meaning, if they both picked the correct killer, the person who got through the riddles fastest would win.  The camera shows the players pressing a button, but it doesn't show which one is pressed. In one room, once the button is pressed, the lights go out. In another room, once the button is pressed, the room fills with a poisonous gas and the person dies.

On the other side of the door is a room in which all the dead players wait with Giles. They see two open graves (because this show loves over-the-top cheesy dramatics). In one is a winner, in one is a loser.  Giles announces that the killer has struck again, that poor ___ is dead, and the latest victim of the killer. They all just watched it happen.  Since all the dead are gathered together, they invite the last victim to join them, and they do. They are met with hugs and condolences and lament that they came so close!

Giles then announces that in one grave is the killer, and in one grave is the winner. The dead players are so excited! Who is the killer? Who is the winner? The viewers at home can't help being caught up in the excitement and anticipation! Giles announces The winner will walk out of their grave. At this point the winner (still not knowing if they have won or not) would have made it to the far door in the dark, and the door would finally unlock, swinging open into the open grave, where they would climb out.  The other players would scream and gasp! There would be shouts of  "I knew it!" and "WHAT?!" The winner would beam and smile and laugh because they had just won! And how wonderful! And they had envisioned this moment!  Giles would give them a hug and congratulate them and say they have just won a quarter of a million dollars!

Finally, the killer would appear and confront the winner. The killer would recite that creepy rhyme and the winner would pull out the golden handcuffs and use them on the killer. Giles would announce that it was at long last time to leave the mansion. Everyone would walk out together and watch and clap as the winner got into the limo and drove away with Giles as the driver. The last shot would be the killer, in handcuffs, surrounded by the players they had murdered.

THAT is a much better finale that the one that actually aired.

So, PLEASE, ABC, for your sake, hire me. I am so available for doing the next season of The Mole and/or spinoff.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Together We Can Rule The Galaxy As Father and Son

I threw a Star-Wars themed co-ed baby shower for a friend of mine to celebrate her impending padawan. It turned out mostly awesome: 






I had these pictures hung up on one side of the door:

 




 along with pictures of the expecting family. on the other side of the door, I had the expecting family's baby pictures, plus these:

 (baby Leia from episode 3)

(Harrison Ford's baby picture)

(Baby Chewy on Hoth) 

The idea being they had to match the adult picture with the baby picture. The game was a hit! 

I was delighted to see that a lot of the games were also star-wars themed. I think this child will be brought up with the Force. 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

We May Experience Some Turbulence and Then...Explode

Our church had a big celebration the last Saturday in July. We had sack races, ball tosses, face painting, a huge dinner, and live music. Prizes were actual live fish, Candy was given out in abundance and everyone had a great time.

One of the "attractions" was a firetruck. The kids could sit in the back on the benches and be driven around the block. Drek and Ash went to stand in the line to ride the firetruck, and I stood in the line for dinner wearing Alexa on my front.  When Drek and Ash got to the  front of the line, I asked the women behind me in the dinner line to save my place while I took pictures. Once I got up there to take pictures, the man in charge of loading the kids on and off said he needed another adult to hand off the end of the firetruck to make sure the kids stayed sitting down. he asked if I would do it. I asked if it was okay if I did it with Alexa and he answered "No problem! He drives really slow."

So Drek and I stepped up on the back of the truck, held hands, and used our free hands to hold onto the bar. The firetruck started up and slowly crawled out of the parking lot and onto the road.

Where it promptly sped up. Speeding down the road at 30 MPH, bouncing all over the place, I let got of Drek's hand to cling to the bar. The kids were delighted. Shouts of "hooray!" and "whee!" sounded as I held on for dear life.

In the end, we had only one fatality: a kid's hat flew off her head and was lost.

When we pulled back into the church parking lot I gratefully took my place back in the dinner line (it was a very long line) and was content.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Why are You Wearing Your Pajamas? They're Not Pajamas! It's My Warm-Up Suit. Why Do You Need Warming Up For? For Doing Stuff. What Kind of Stuff? Super-Cool Stuff You Wouldn't Understand. Like Sleeping?

My beautiful daughter is almost 4 years old. She loves to talk. She LOVES to talk. She also talks quite loudly. She is very talented at projecting her voice. This is great for plays, not so great for grocery shopping. For instance:

There is an employee at the supermarket using a sticker gun to put "organic" stickers on each individual banana.
Ash: "Hey! What is that guy doing? Is he doing stickers?"  Of course this loud enough that the guy (and half the store) can hear. Everyone is polite the guy smiles, I explain what he is doing.

Two minutes later there is an employee at the supermarket unloading produce and stacking the empty boxes in a very tall stack.
Ash: "Hey! That guy is making a tower! He is making it too tall! It will fall and make a big giant mess!" The guy laughs and nods at Ash.

 We get in line at the checkout counter. The woman that gets in line behind us is wearing eyepatch. I see it at the very same time Ash sees it. I do not have time to avoid it. Oh Noes.
Ash: "Mommy! That woman is a pirate!"
The woman blushes and apologizes for looking strange.
"No!" I say. "She thinks it's awesome. Huh, Ash? You want an eyepatch, too?"
"Yeah!" Ash shouts. "I want one like her."
Phew!

But the best one came later, when we were over at our neighbors house. Our neighbor was holding Alexa, when Alexa started to fuss.
Neighbor: "Are you hungry? You want some food?"
Ash "No! She only eats Breastmilk! You need a boob!"
The comeback was just as good:
Neighbor: "You know, when I was twelve years old that would've made me cry."


Friday, July 26, 2013

I've Got Sand in Places I Didn't Even Know I Had

Since we live half an hour from the beach, you would think we would frequent it much more than we actually do. After several beach trips, I find myself thinking that I am not a big beach person. I like it once I am there, but driving out there, finding a parking space, and then hauling thirty pounds of beach chairs, beach umbrellas, towels, sand toys, a picnic basket, boogie boards and water bottles, not to mention a small child, is exhausting.

Our ward does a weekly beach day. Not wanting to brave the beach with two children and no husband, I did not attend. Suddenly seized by an adventurous spirit, I decided we would go this week. I tried to only pack priority stuff. We ate lunch right before we went. We went early to find a parking space.

Alas, I got so lost, so by the time we found the right beach, we were ten minutes late. I couldn't find a good parking space and had to park down the street. I put the baby in the sling, then lugged everything to the beach while trying to encourage mt preschooler to walk at something faster than a snail's pace.

We made it! Out of breath, I dumped all the stuff, then set up our little camp. The trek had left Ash thirsty. I happily produced her spill-proof children water bottle from my bag and handed it over. She took one sip, then accidentally dropped it in the sand, covering the mouthpiece. I hadn't brought more water. She was still thirsty. She started to cry.

This is why I'm not a beach person.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dentist? You Said We Were Going Dirt Biking Through the Cemetery.

Here is a random fact about me: I have never lost a tooth. I had a loose tooth once, but the dentist pulled it out before it fell out. He was pulling a few other teeth and decided to throw that one in for free. That's how all my baby teeth came out: Being pulled by the dentist. This was done in an attempt to give me straight teeth. Apparently my mouth was way too small, and the orthodontic work needed to start before I had permanent teeth.

So I don't suppose it comes as a shock that I'm not a big fan of the dentist. Not that I've had a really bad experience or anything, just that I feel I've already spent way too much time in a dentist chair. My mother had to drag me to the dentist as a teenager. The last time she did that was when I was seventeen years old. I have not been back since. 

Last week we finally got dental insurance. During a fit of adulthood I actually made an appointment for myself. I was secretly hoping that my teeth would be too rotten to salvage so they would give me fake teeth which would mean no more dentist trips ever. 

Alas, no. My teeth are awesome. Besides the fact that the hygienist nearly fainted when I told her it had been ten  years since my last cleaning, things went smoothly. I have one new cavity.  Thank you, parents for giving me awesome genetics for teeth. Sadly, Drek's genetic's for teeth trumped mine with Ash. I fear she has inherited his terrible teeth, and my terrible mouth. We might just have to move straight to the fake teeth for her. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

How Did Your Brain Even Learn Human Speech? I'm Just so Curious

I went into an unfamiliar superstore to do my grocery shopping. After spending way too long searching for each food item in the expansive layout I still needed to find the molasses. It wasn't down the baking aisle, or next to the honey or the syrups. Not sure where else it would be I flagged down an employee and asked him. 

"Where is your molasses?" 
"Molasses?" 
"Yes." 
"Uh..." he looked around him, then back at me. "Is that like a drink?" 

I was startled. I had been prepared for him not knowing where it was, but not knowing what it is?! I laughed, shook my head and said I would just keep looking. A few aisles over I flagged down another worker and repeated my question. 

"Molasses?" 
"Yes." 
"I don't know. What is it?" 
"Um...processed Sorghum?" Which of course was very unhelpful. "It's a dark, sweet syrup used in baking." I quickly added. 
"Oh! Try the baking aisle!" 
Yes. Thank you. Very helpful. 

I never did find it.  Is molasses really that uncommon of an ingredient? Or is it the fact that it is an ingredient and not an end product that makes it so unknown? 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's About to Get Very Cold In Here

I do not like to be cold. I order my water without ice. I'd rather have tap water than refrigerator water. I don't like Popsicles. I can only eat small amounts of ice cream.

I love leaving the car in the sun, and then getting in after the heat has been trapped inside; especially when I've been inside an air conditioned building. I can feel the cold being pulled from my skin. I love that feeling.

So it's not really a surprise that our house has not had air conditioning. I like the house being in the lower eighties. However, I do feel bad when we have guests over for dinner or games and everyone is sweating despite the windows being open and the fan running. I feel even worse when we have guests sleep over, and a tiny bedroom fan does little to keep them cool during the summer months, especially when they have to close the window at three in the morning because of those horrible roosters.

After a heat wave that send Sunland into record high temperatures, Drek decided it was time to get a repair guy out to see if he could fix the air conditioning unit. The guy was so overbooked it took him two weeks to finally come over, but he did, and within an hour he had our surprisingly efficient air conditioner up and running. Drek was at work at the the time, so I sent him a text:

Good News! The air conditioner works!
Bad News: I'm cold. Can I turn it off now?

At least we'll have it for guests.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Who's Flying This Thing? Oh, Right. That Would Be Me.

In May I flew back to Hometown. We flew out of a tiny airport, which has the benefit of really short security lines, and no awful Backscatter machines.

I carried Alexa in a sling. This particular sling doesn't press her to my body, but keeps her more open so I tucked a blanket in around her body to keep her warm and protected. Using the sling kept my hands free to deal with Ash, and all the stuff you have to do to get through the security line.

First, we had to show our ID and tickets. While we were doing this, a man who was ahead of us, and already passed that checkpoint and in the process of taking off his shoes and preparing to go through the metal detector, was told he couldn't take his water bottle. Instead of throwing it away, he stopped, opened the bottle and chugged it. This wasn't a problem, as there was no one else behind him waiting to go through. Actually, besides all the many guards milling about, Waterbottle guy and my group were the only ones around. The problem came after he was done; he looked around confused, then came back and asked the guard checking our IDs if he knew where he could recycle his bottle. The guard was startled, not used to being approached from the back.

"What?"
"I have a bottle. Where do you recycle?"
"I don't know, man."
"The bottle. I need a recycle can. Is there one out there?"
"If you go our you'll have to come back through security again."
"I need to recycle my bottle."
"Ok, man, knock yourself out.

So he pushed passed us in search of a place to recycle his bottle. The guard finished with us and I took Ash's hand to guide her to the conveyor belt. While I was putting all metal things into the bins, taking off my shoes and balancing the baby in the sling, WaterBottle guy came back, and plopped he bins down right in front of ours on the conveyor belt. H then just sort of stood there, looking back toward the first guard. I hesitated, not sure what to do. The X-ray guards were waiting for someone to put there stuff through, and the metal detector guards were waiting for someone to walk through, but I could't get around this man, and he didn't appear to have any intentions of moving. After a few seconds of looking at guards, looking at the man, and then looking at my bins, then back at the man, he looked at me in and in in a surprised voice said

"Oh! Did I cut in front of you?" I smiled but before I could answer he added:   "I'm sorry! I thought you worked here."

It was one of those moments when you open your mouth, and then close it again, then open it again, then close it again. What could I say to that? I had a baby in a sling, a three-year old on one hand. I'm barefoot and juggling a carry-on, a diaper bag and the bins. So I said nothing while he kindly moved his bins to the other (empty) conveyor belt so I could move through security.

On the other side of the metal detector (which I did NOT set off, by the way) a female guard pulled me aside to get a closer look at the sling. Alexa was clearly visible, but I'm she wanted to make sure I wasn't hiding anything else in there. She poked the blanket with a gloved hand.

"What's up with the blanket?" she asked in a hostile tone.
I was taken aback. "What's up with your face?" I almost replied, but luckily my self-control kicked in and I kept my mouth shut. I simply removed the blanket to show her that it was covering the body of a tiny newborn, not a metal exploding device.
She glared at the sling, then at the blanket. "You should have put that thing through the X-ray." She snapped, then turned around and walked off. I wasn't sure what she meant by "thing." The blanket? The sling? The baby? In all three cases, she was wrong, and in any case, she was gone, so I shrugged, tucked the blanket back in, and tried to balance the Alexa and Ash while putting on my shoes.

In the meantime, WaterBottle guy made it through the other metal detector. He came and stood next to me, doing nothing, just looking around. A woman, apparently the travel companion of WaterBottle guy, Stood next to the other conveyor belt.
"Your stuff is over here." She called to WaterBottle guy, pointing to his bags and bins waiting on the conveyor belt.
He didn't move.  I finished repacking all my stuff. He was still standing next to me.
"Hey! Your bags are right here!" The woman called again.
He didn't show any sign of hearing her, so, despite the risk of him thinking I really do work there,  I smiled and pointed to the his stuff. He looked in the direction I was pointing and made a nod. I walked off to find my gate.

Later, I saw him get on the same plane I was on. It's too bad our seats weren't together, but then, he may have been confused as to why I wasn't flying the aircraft.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

I Decided to Sleep in the Car so My Snoring Wouldn't Bother You, and I Left a Tape Recording of My Snoring so You Wouldn't Know I was Gone

My baby is three months old today.

When I had Ash I didn't realize I would have to recover. I didn't realize babies took up SO MUCH time. I tried to jump right back into life. For the most part I did, although it resulted in a really, really long recovery time. The first three months were physically and mentally exhausting because I never gave myself any down time.

With this baby; I wanted things to be different. I pictured staying in bed for the first month, doing nothing but feeding and caring for the baby. I pictured slowly getting back into life, only leaving the house after the three month mark.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

That just doesn't happen if you don't have help. No matter how much you WANT to stay in bed, if you are the only one watching a three-year-old, you have to get up. So you have a kidney infection that turned into a life threatening antibiotic resistant kidney infection that makes you writhe in agony? Too bad. You still have a three-year-old, and no one else to help out. Life marches on and so must you, no matter how much you love the newborn and are desperate to soak up every single minute enjoying your baby while she is still small.

And so we jumped back into the swing of things about two months, three weeks and four days ago. Some of that jumping was voluntary, so was be being thrown in kicking and screaming in protest.

But, here we are at three months, so now there is no reason why life can't get back to normal. I'm fully recovered from the birth (finally) and the stuff I'm taking for my infection seems to be working; I'm only in pain if I miss a dose. It will take a while for the infection to clear out, but I'm sure it will be a full recovery.

So I guess I should start posting on my blog again. I do have some great stories. Stay tuned!


Thursday, April 11, 2013


Recovery was moving along. Things were healing and getting better. Until suddenly I had all the misery of a UTI with the bonus of excruciating back pain.

After spending the night not sleeping, even though for the first night my newborn was sleeping, we went to the E.R. Drek waited in the waiting room while I went it. After a simple test and some quick questions it was declared a massive kidney infection and I was given a shot of antibiotics and a prescription of more antibiotics. 

I went out and found Drek. We got into the car. Before he even turned on the engine I blurted out "they gave me a shot" and burst into tears. I sobbed all the way to the pharmacy, the whole time drek was inside getting it filled, and all the way home. 

Not so much because of the shot (although for a few minutes the injection site hurt more than the kidney pain) but more because of lack of sleep and hormones and such. Also I was still in excruciating pain. 

But a three hour nap and one pill later I felt much better. And we're back to recovering nicely. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yesterday was my birthday. It was very mellow; a few texts, a few phone calls. I took a nap. I took a shower. Drek got me a non ticking wall clock (hooray!) and made me the most wonderful trifle from scratch. He also stayed home from work all day just to be with me.

Well, ok maybe not just me. A lot of it might have to do with the best birthday present that arrived two days before: our little baby was finally born.

Everyone is doing well. Life is wonderful.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Happy Easter (a day late)!

Yesterday we celebrated by getting up super early to go to the Annual Easter Sun Run Marathon! I signed up to do it last year, not realizing the condition I would be in when the race actually came around. But, still no baby, so I decided to go ahead and do it!

It was cold:

Some people wore bunny ears (I assume they handed these out last year?) but I didn't get the memo. 

Still, by the time race started I was ready to go! 

And GO! 


The amazing thing is not that I actually finished, but that I actually ran the whole time. The last few miles I was DYING. Mostly at that point I was too out of it to do anything but keep going. I had been running with a few very peppy people for the last few miles, and at this point they started saying things like "We're almost done!" and then the thing that really caught my attention: "Come on guys, if we push it we will qualify!"

Yeah, so this marathon was a Boston Marathon qualifier. At that point they really took off, leaving me in the dust, but it was motivation enough to keep going. And going. And going. I crossed the finish line.  AND I ACTUALLY QUALIFIED (barely). Sadly, we won't be buying the tickets for the flight to the Boston Marathon in two weeks because hopefully I will have a newborn by then.

EDIT on April 2nd:

Yesterday morning Drek and I walked the quarter of a mile to find a road with an actual gutter. We picked a spot 10 yards long for me to "run" while Drek took pictures. He made me do it three times. I was DYING. Yes, there are amazing people who run marathons while pregnant, but let's face it, I don't even exercise while pregnant.

While at the peak of my training, I could not run a half marathon in the Boston Marathon qualifying time. At 41 weeks pregnant I'm doing good if I'm on my feet long enough to get dressed and brush my hair.

so, APRIL FOOLS!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Go to My Brethren, and Say Unto Them, I Ascend Unto My Father, and Your Father; and to My God, and Your God

I love Easter. Growing up, Easter was always a big deal in my family. To me, Easter means coloring dozens of Easter eggs, having a huge Easter egg hunt (for real eggs, none of that plastic filled with sugar nonsense)  and brunch with neighbors, friends and family on Easter Saturday, and an Easter basket with new church clothes (and hopefully a chocolate bunny!) on Easter Sunday.

 I want that for my family, but I also want more. I want my kids to REALLY understand the reason we celebrate Easter. So, In an effort to make Easter more about Christ, Ash and I have come up with a plan to do an Easter activity every day starting the Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday). 

Palm Sunday
We went to church! When the sacrament came around, I briefly explained the story of Easter. 
This is a fantastic Sacrament talk written about the use of palm leaves. It was great for me to read, and repeated a few simple concepts while doing this craft for the donkey, and simply cutting and slicing green (and purple, because it's Ash's favorite color. And why not? Purple is a royal color!) construction paper into palm leaves and then gluing them onto the paper.

Result:


Monday
For FHE we colored Easter Eggs! It's good family time. 

Tuesday

We printed out and colored this coloring page. We talked about Christ being resurrected  and how that made Mary happy, and how Christ dies and was resurrected for Mary, and also for Ash, and also for me. 


Wednesday
This is about as fancy as I get with crafts. First, we colored and cut out the tomb and stone from the image below. 

Then, inspired by this craft,  we cut a paper plate in half, stapled the two halves together, and pasted the tomb onto the paper plate. We then cut out the door of the tomb and glued He is Risen by Del Parson  inside. 


Result: 

All the while we talked about the Resurrection, and how Jesus dies and was resurrected so when we die, we can be resurrected. 


Maundry (Holy) Thursday
Watch the movie The Last Supper

Color and cut out the images below, the whole time talking about Jesus's Last Supper and the sacrament. 



Good Friday
Today we decided to try watercolors! We painted the images below, talking about the story or the atonement, the crucifixion, and the Resurrection. We then cut them out and glued them on Popsicle sticks!
Result: 


We also made Hot Cross Buns. They were cooked too long, so they turned out harder and crispy on the bottom, but they had such great potential! 

Easter Saturday
Easter Egg hunt and Easter Brunch! 

Easter Sunday
Go to church! In the March 2008 Friend, on page 30, is the Story of Christ. Print out on cardstock and fit together with a metal band. Give to Ash right before church. Read it during Sacrament meeting and look at the pictures during the Sacrament. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This morning I got a text from a number I didn't recognize. It said: "I'm on my way"

I didn't remember setting up anything with anyone for today, and I didn't have anything on my calender.

I'm going to say that text was from the baby.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

You're Wasting Your Time, Man. If You Pick the Lock on a Halliburton, I'll Put You on My Back and Fly us to L.A. You Better Find Yourself a Runway, Daddy, 'Cause there Ain't a Lock I Can't Pick

Guys, I've been so good lately! I haven't lost my keys in over a year! I haven't lost my credit card in over four years! I haven't lost my purse, and I've even managed to hang on to my phone!  I lost Drek's keys for a few days, but not mine, so it doesn't count!

And so every streak must end.

First, let me just say that Ash has really been on a power struggle lately. She will argue with everything I say, no matter what. I've tried to teach her to say "Yes, Mama." whenever I tell her to do something, instead of arguing, but it's not working to well. The other day she offered me one of her grapes and I said "No, thank you." and she said "No! You say 'Yes, Ash!'" Sigh. I've been having a hard time figuring out where the line is between "pick your battles" and "be consistent."

Ok, enough excuses. On to the story:

Ash and I went to the post office. We needed to wait in line to mail a package, and then ring the little buzzer to pick up a package. The former usually takes a while, the latter takes around a minute.

So we got out of the car, struggled to take the boxes inside, and waited in line. It was our turn and Ash was tired of waiting  so I gave her my phone. She has a few Sesame Street episodes on the phone so she happily watched those while I finished up with the clerk. Upon finishing, I realized I didn't have my little slip to pick up the package, so we went back out to the car and I dug around in the front seat and emptied out my purse until I found it. During that time, Ash (who was absorbed in her show) had climbed from the front seat to the back seat, and buckled herself into her car seat (because she is just that amazing). After I found the paper, I realized what she had done, and told her we actually weren't ready to leave and had to go back in to the post office. She argued. Of course, she argued. She told me she would wait in the car.

I think I've had Ash wait in the car once. Actually, now that I think about it, twice: once when she was a baby, asleep, and I was dropping off dinner to someone, and then once a few months ago when I needed to run inside the post office and drop of a package in the package drop. Both took less than two minutes. I really don't like having her wait in the car because I am afraid with our tinted windows, someone will steal the car without realizing there is a child in the backseat.

But I was tired. I'm very pregnant and walking around the car to unbuckle her (she can buckle herself in but can't get herself out) and argue with her for a less than two minute errand didn't seem worth it. It was a nice cool day, so against my better judgement I locked the doors and ran inside, leaving Ash in the car to watch her show.

You see where this story is going.

I came back out, around a minute later, and realized when I emptied out my purse, I had emptied out my keys. My car keys were locked in the car. Along with my daughter. And my cell phone.  Worst. Parent. Ever.

So I tap on the back window to get Ash's attention and explain she needs to unlock the door. She tries reaching, but of course can't reach the button from her seat. I tell she needs to unbuckle herself from her car seat. She sets the phone down and follows my directions for about a minute, until she announces "No, I don't want to. I want to watch my show." She picks the phone back up and ignores me.

Well, at least she isn't panicking, unlike me.

I go back inside the post office and ask to borrow someones cell phone. I call Drek at work and tell him what I have done and where I am. He doesn't have the car, but says he will borrow one and come rescue us.

I go back out to the car, find two bobby pins on the ground and spend the next twenty minutes alternating between trying to pick the lock on the trunck, and trying to convince Ash to get out of her car seat. I am unsuccessful at both attempts.

Finally Drek shows up. He seems surprised at how calm I am, and even more surprised that Ash isn't screaming and crying from neglect. He unlocks the door, opens it, and Ash looks up and blinks at him.

"Oh! Hi, Daddy! Do you want to watch this show with me?" The inside of the car is a comfortable temperature and she didn't appear to be suffering from malnutrition or dehydration.

Lesson learned: it doesn't matter how secure your car is against thieves if you can't get in either. Just avoid the whole thing and don't leave your kids in the car. Especially if you have a history of losing things and very especially if you have pregnancy brain.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Suppose in the End, the Whole of Life Becomes an Act of Letting Go

Happy Pi Day!

For obvious reasons, I didn't have a party this year. Although we did have shepherd's pie for dinner with fresh blueberry pie for dessert.

Still no baby. We were hoping it would come today. If he was a boy, we would name him Percival Ichabod (First name after the Scarlet Pimpernel; can't get a better hero than that) and he would go by his initials. And for his birth announcement it would say: Introducing the Life of Pi. And every year on his birthday we would celebrate Pi's day.

Sigh. These children. They just never cooperate.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Breastfeeding in Public

The really worried over is breastfeeding thing.  I couldn't breastfeed my first, but I am determined to breastfeed this next one (whenever it decides to show up!) Breastfeeding this one will mean the opportunity to breastfeed in public. (Breastfeeding in public means not using a cover or a blanket when you breastfeed in a public area or in front of other people. It can be very discreet, but not hidden). I feel that breastfeeding in public is a very personal choice, and there isn't a right or wrong decision. If given the choice, I will choose to breastfeed in public. And this is why:

Back in the 80's, in a zoo in Ohio, a female gorilla born and raised in captivity gave birth. That gorilla had never seen another mother gorilla feed a baby gorilla. Her instincts told her she should, but she had no idea how. Unable to feed it, she killed it. A while later, this same gorilla became pregnant again. The zoo keepers, not wanting this newborn to be killed, decided to try something new.  They called the local La Leche League and asked for volunteers. Those volunteers came to the zoo, sat on one side of a glass wall, and breastfed their baby in full view of the female gorilla who watched from the other side of the glass wall. This was done throughout the gorilla's pregnancy. When the baby gorilla was born, the female gorilla could do what she was unable to do with the last baby: breastfeed it.  Monkey see, monkey do.

I feel a lot like that gorilla. Before my baby was born I never saw a woman breastfeeding. I knew breastfeeding was important to me. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. Yet, when my baby was born, I couldn't. I utterly failed at breastfeeding. How could I have been expected to succeed when I had never seen it done?

For thousands of years, women breastfed their children. It was, and still is, the natural thing to do. Historically, breastfeeding was never an issue of modesty. In certain cultures walking around without a shirt was completely unacceptable, but in those cultures, having one breast exposed to a suckling child was normal. That's how babies ate. There was nothing immodest about it. That holds true for the Mormon pioneers. Exposing your ankle was immodest but exposing a breast to feed a baby? No one thought anything of it! They believed very strongly in modesty, but breastfeeding your child in full view of other adult males simply wasn't an modesty issue. It was normal! LDS Women openly breastfed in sacrament meeting and while crossing the plains.

Why? Why didn't they think that exposing a secondary sexual organ has anything to do with modesty? Because it's just that: a secondary sexual organ, just like a mouth. You eat with your mouth in full view of others and don't think anything about it being modest or immodest, because it's not a modesty issue. Babies eat with a breast (so to speak). It's the same thing.

The more you read the scriptures the more you get the idea that God thinks a breastfeeding is a beautiful, wonderful, GOOD sight.

"Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb." (Genesis 49:25)

"O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised." (Song of Solomon 8:1)

Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her alike a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 66:10-13)

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. (Isaiah 49:15)

Clearly, God does NOT think breastfeeding is immodest.

Early LDS men and women picked up on that language and held the image of breastfeeding in high regard, as we can see in LDS works of art which are prominently displayed at Seagull Monument in Salt Lake City; in a wall mural in the Cardston, Alberta temple; and even in the Book of Mormon Reader (That image is on Page 31 [Enos 1:11-12] if you want to look it up yourself!).

So what happened? Formula has been around since the late 1800's, but  it was generally considered  inferior to breastmilk. In the 40's and 50's science was the hero of the modern world. In 1951 scientists announced that formula was the better than breast milk. If you wanted the best for your child, you gave them formula, not breast milk. And who wouldn't want the best for your child? Every parent wanted to do the best thing, and most parents thought the best thing was formula. But formula was expensive, and not every mother could afford it. Suddenly, a mother could not breastfeed her child in front of other, because that would be admitting that she wasn't feeding the baby formula; she wasn't "giving her baby the best". Breastfeeding became a status of low income, or of the uneducated. It was hidden away in back bedrooms where the ashamed mothers could feed their babies without the disapproving looks of society.

And then, years later, scientists realized, "Hey, wait a minute. Formula is NOT better than breast milk. It's not even the same as breast milk. Formula is worse that breast milk. Breastfeeding is actually way better. For a lot of reasons. Sorry about that." But the damage was already done. Breastfeeding was no longer the norm and when mothers began to once again nurse in public, suddenly there was an issue of modesty. But  modesty was never the reason women breastfed in private.

Still, seeing a women breastfeed had become a rare sight, and seeing an exposed breast was no longer normal. In our modern society breastfeeding is once again becoming normal, but with nursing covers or with blankets. Especially in church, it a rare sight to see an exposed breast nourishing an infant. That makes it immodest in society's view, but not in God's. How do we change that? How do we make breastfeeding in public normal again? How do we overcome that bias of immodestly? We breastfeed in public. It wasn't so long ago that women wearing pants was considered immodest by society. How did that change? Women wore pants. Simple.

Why is that important to me? Why do I want to make breastfeeding in public accepted, encouraged, and considered normal?

Women need to see other women breastfeeding. Just like that gorilla, they need to see it so they can do it. They also need to see it to know that it's normal, that it's how babies eat. If more women breastfeed in public, more women will be able to breastfeed. That means saving billions of dollars and one thousand lives a year.

Little girls are taught from such a young age that their breasts are to tantalize boys. Everywhere they look women are sexualized. In the words of  M. Russel Ballard: "It is, unfortunately, all too easy to illustrate the confusion and distortion of womanhood in contemporary society. Immodest, immoral, intemperate women jam the airwaves, monopolize magazines, and slink across movie screens—all while being celebrated by the world. The Apostle Paul spoke prophetically of “perilous times” that will come in the last days and specifically referenced something that may have seemed particularly perilous to him: “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (2 Timothy 3:1, 6). Popular culture today often makes women look silly, inconsequential, mindless, and powerless. It objectifies them and disrespects them and then suggests that they are able to leave their mark on mankind only by seduction—easily the most pervasively dangerous message the adversary sends to women about themselves."

We have to fight that! Little girls need to see breastfeeding to understand that breasts are not (only) for seduction! Breasts produce an antibacterial, antiviral liquid that nurtures babies with a perfect blend of nutrients. They make a liquid that builds immune systems, expands life expectancy and cures cancer. They are a completely green, renewable resource of food. Little girls need to see that so they can respect it.  So they can respect themselves. So they can demand more respect.

The sexualization of a women's body is everywhere. You cannot shield your little boys from all the graphic images, immodestly dressed women, and degrading videos seen everywhere.  Every little boy will be exposed to those images. The best you can do is to teach them how to respond to those images.

Little boys need to see breastfeeding so they can see the proper use of breasts. They need to see breasts in a context that is not sexual, but nourishing. Not degrading, but peaceful.  If little boys could see that as a common sight then when they saw a degrading image of a woman's breast they would not think that was normal. They would think something was very, very wrong. They would have a way to fight off those offensive  images. They might even have a way to avoid the plague of pornography.

This study showed that when a man sees a women in a bikini, the part of his brain that responds is the same part that responds when he sees a tool like a hammer. He doesn't see that women as a person, but as an object. In our society, scantily clad women are everywhere. That is all a man sees.

But when a man sees a women breastfeeding, he sees her not as an object or a tool, but a human being; as a mother. That is huge! He is looking at an exposed breast, and seeing a human woman, not an object. THAT is how we raise the level of respect for women. THAT is how we stop crimes against women.

I've never breastfed in public before, and the thought of it is scary, but I know that it is my choice to make. I am choosing to breastfeed in public becasue of these issues. I want to help other women breastfeed their babies. I want to help a little girl understand her value. I want to help a little boy grow up with respect for women. I want to help men understand that I am not a tool, but a human being. I think there are other ways to accomplish all of these things, but this is how I feel I can help change my little corner of the world.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

What to Expect Says That Readying the Baby's Room is an Important Process for Women. It's Called "Nesting."

When I was pregnant with Ash I had a dining room set that needed to be sanded and stained. I'd never done anything like that before and was a little hesitant to take on the project. The day after I thought she would be born I dragged the eight chairs and table into the driveway and began stripping, sanding, varnishing  and whatever else you do to wood. My neighbor thought I was insane. I probably was. I just felt like AI had to get it done! 

Well, I didn't get it done. It was a huge project and the baby came before it was completed, leaving the sanded half-finished chairs in the garage to rot. I never did finish that project. 

This time around I've once again had that feeling that I just have to get things done! Since finding out I was pregnant, I've repainted the entire front room, kitchen, hallway, and bathroom. I really, really want to paint the doors in the hallway, but since I'm now full-term, I'm thinking I should wait until after the baby is born, lest the project go unfinished forever. 

The bathroom was a real challenge. I hated the way our bathroom looked. The whole thing needs to be remodeled, but that costs money. Paint is cheap.  Here are a few before shots: 





 And after:






I'm stuck on the towels. Should I have black towels? Cobalt Blue towels? White towels?  What do you think? I am obsessed with this towel thing. I MUST finish this project!



Thursday, March 07, 2013

Do We Have Enough... Bread-Making Vikings, or Small Home-Repair Vikings...?

We've been in this house for one year, eleven months, and one week. During that whole time, I haven't had and oven, and the stove has been risky to use.  Also, the whole range is ugly: 




Well, after one year, eleven months, one week, lots of trips to Sears Outlet, a fantastic President's Day deal, a visit by the delivery and installation people, a visit by the propane company, a visit by Sears repairman, another visit by the propane company, and several phone calls to both Sears and the propane company, I have this:


And the best part is that IT WORKS. 

I will use this new power to bake cookies.  Or will, as soon as I get some cookie sheets. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Dance, You Squealing Goat!

Drek finished the play structure last Saturday. This Saturday he bought sand for the sand box. He was supposed to just dump the sand in, but he wisely noted that that would add lots of weight to the play structure, and then it would be immovable.

The play structure is massive:

I thought it was immovable already. And why would we want to move it? 

Drek pointed out it would look better more to the right, and then we could have a bigger garden. Still, I estimated you needed at least ten people to move that beast. Where were we going to get ten volunteers together at the same time? 

I shouldn't have worried. I am married to a genius, after all.  With his technique, he could have built the pyramids all by himself. 




We moved it about fifty feet. Drek broke it down into three piece and moved it piece by piece.  My job was to move the slats under the structure so it would slide, and add support to the bridge so it wouldn't topple over while being scooted across the yard. Ash took the position of task master and yelled "SUPPORT!" from the porch whenever I wasn't supporting the bridge with both hands.  We both gave up our jobs at the end to film. 

And it worked! Drek assembled the three pieces back together and added the sand to the sand box. It really does look better on the right side of our yard. And it's easier to push Ash on the swings. 



And now we can make the garden bigger! That will be next Saturday!

*note: Several years ago Drek and I were watching the Ten Commandments. At one point the Egyptian task master yells at the slave making bricks to "Dance, you squirrely goat!" Drek and I thought that was so funny. We've quoted it to each other several times over the years. Today, when I looked up the quote to use as the title, it turned out to be "squealing" not "squirrely". Not nearly as funny.