Saturday, March 31, 2007

Paradox Part II - "Jingle" all the way

You’ve seen the pictures, but I feel compelled to expound on our annual visits to Paradox, Colorado. Located in Southwest Colorado about 30 miles from the Utah border, it is the town where Cory’s dad was born, where Cory and his family visited every year growing up, and where several of his aunts and uncles still live. A place where gas, ice cream, and fresh beef jerky are a mere seven miles away, we have faithfully visited every summer for the last fourteen years. This was the first time we visited in the early spring without the attendance of cousins, but the kids still lamented when we pulled away to head home. And even after fourteen years, I learned a few things.

I learned that Cory and I have officially run out of road trip conversation, that when you don’t have city noises subtly demanding your attention you can actually hear the sound of birds flying (it sounds like a lasso circling the air), and that sometimes not even Dramamine can knock your kid out during a six-hour car ride. Samantha learned that trying to do push-ups and sit-ups in a moving vehicle is not a wise boredom-curing strategy, but that urging your brother to try and fit his entire body into his pillowcase provides a good 45 minutes of entertainment. I learned that I should stick with brain candy vacation novels instead of trying to appear more mature by taking on “1776”, and that just because your mother-in-law buys three bags of Oreos doesn’t mean a full sleeve should be counted as a single serving. Long ago I learned that somewhere past Glenwood Springs the animal-loving-tree-hugging-prairie-dog-defending contingent lose their power and the farm killing rodents become suitable and necessary targets for ammunition. And somewhere around Vail Pass I learned that the marketing campaigns for McDonalds, Subway, IHOP, Red Robin, Stanley Steemer, Toyota, Kohl’s, and Geico have been wildly successful as my kids began singing their jingles and reciting their catch phrases. Now THAT’S a really fun game…when you’re under twelve...and you’re bored out of your mind...and it doesn’t really matter to you that you have sung the same song 249 times in a row you still think it’s funny…and, “Holy crap, are you SURE you gave them enough Dramamine?” (Just to clarify, my children actually do get carsick. I don’t just drug them for peace and quiet, though I’m not against it and it’s awfully tempting after round 53 of “bada bop bop baaa…I’m lovin’ it!”)

Oh yeah, good times.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Paradox - Part I

We got back late last night, and while there's much material, there's not enough time to fill you in on the details of our annual pilgrimage to Paradox. So today I give you part one - in essence, my photo journal. We had rain, we had shine. I hope you enjoy the evidence.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Do as I say, not as I (hardly EVER!) do

If you are ever in need of a friend who's not afraid to tell you to stop being an overachiever and give you suggestions on how to simplify your life, I am always accepting applications. At least I will be after I finish my Hypocrite class, because somebody just spent three hours making a ticket booth for her daughter's upcoming Carnival birthday party - as in I went to the back lot of a mattress store, pilfered a large cardboard box, painted it with stripes and a lovely awning, and cut an opening where Drew will stand to collect the tickets I created in PowerPoint as the invitations to use as the guest's entrance fee. This ticket booth will be used for approximately 3 minutes, so that's one minute for every hour spent making it. That's a pretty good use of time when I'm trying to leave town and I have four loads of laundry to do, right?

Hypocrite class. What a great idea.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Has (almost) Sprung

According to my news station, spring officially starts at 6:07pm tonight. Finally, when my children ask me for the 684th time, "Is it Spring yet?" I can answer with a resounding "YES!" I would also like to mention that OPERATION: Free The Carolers has reached a peaceful resolution. A few weeks ago the only thing left holding these suckers into the ground was some relentless ice. It was a rather pathetic sight:

They have since been rescued, but I decided that it was time for them to find a new home. Luckily, there's a great place southeast of here that offers a great location with wide open spaces:

And speaking of Spring, the weather has been fantastic and so I have resumed outdoor exercise. Namely, running. Yesterday when I went out for a run I came up next to a school bus at the traffic light and realized that Samantha was on that bus on her way to a field trip! I found her wave, then pretended to race the bus when the light turned green. I lost. Shocking. Anyway, I only ran about 2.5 miles and when I felt like I was only a few breaths away from leaving the earth forever, I reached home. Later, while sharing my sentiments with my friend Jill about how running had to be invented by the devil I said, "But it feels good afterward." She replied, "Yeah, well I feel good after eating a hot fudge sundae too!" Someone who hates running more than I do - I think that's why we're friends.

Anyway, when you hear the angels singing and light bursting from the heavens above at 6:07 tonight, you'll know what it's about. Welcome Spring!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

For these are the things Jesus taught

My children and I have been asked to sing in church tomorrow with a couple of other parents and their kids. The song is, “I’m Trying To Be Like Jesus.” My job? To make sure my kids know the first verse and get them to church tomorrow half an hour early (8:30 AM that is, for the love of all that is good and righteous on a Sunday morning it should not include getting to church before nine.) So anyway, after dinner but before bedtime and in between baths and showers and trying to put the finishing touches on my lesson while cleaning up dinner and fetching Drew’s newly washed jammies from the dryer we sat down with the CD to memorize the first verse of this song when SUDDENLY, Drew’s canker sore became so unbearably painful that he flipped over on his stomach, flailed his arms, and identified a pain so excruciating that it rendered him unable to sing.

FYI – I have a patience meter, and it doesn’t function after 8 PM. So I said, “Drew, so help me we are going to sing about trying to be like Jesus or I will go in your room right now and start picking out toys to give away.” He sat up. I pushed “PLAY”.

I’m trying to be like Jesus…” Drew, are you singing? If not, I’m starting it over.
I’m following in His way…” Drew, stop kicking me with your feet.
I’m trying to love as He did…” CORY!!! I need your help!
In all that I do and say…” Would you please sit UP?
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice….”

I played it through once and called it good. Samantha knows the words, Drew doesn’t. I’m still supposed to learn the 2nd verse. Jesus would be so impressed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Don't delay, thank a teacher today!

Last night our church sponsored a local event that we call Teacher Appreciation Night. The graduating seniors in our area nominate a teacher they want to recognize and an anonymous donor not only awards the teachers, but provides $750 scholarships to other deserving students nominated by those teachers. You might call it our Mormon version of “Happy Hour”. Anyway, it got me thinking back to some of the teachers I have had, and since I didn’t get a chance to talk about them last night, I would like to honor a few of them here.

First, I’d like to thank my neighbor and Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Horton for teaching me the meaning of the word “fib” after I came to school claiming that my little brother Greg had been trampled and killed by a cow. After verifying with my 5th grade sister that my story was not true, her lecture on fibbing ensued. I wasn’t trying to lie, my dream just seemed so real! (And for the record Greg, I’m really glad you didn’t die.) Next, Mrs. Johnson who taught me that when you smoke and drink coffee, a measly stick of cinnamon gum doesn't cover it up. Oh, and that you should be really careful when you bend over that far. Mrs. Johnson should have worn tighter shirts. Mrs. Bauer – who owned more cats than performed on Broadway, wore more gold necklaces than Mr. T, and would be fired for her “teaching” methods if she was still teaching today. She used to read our grades out loud in front of class and complimented us if we did well or made a sarcastic, condescending remark if we did poorly. I made sure never to do poorly.

Here’s to Mr. Blok for trying to teach me chess and making me feel like a math genius. To Mr. Lidster for wearing Izods and acting as seventh grade eye candy. Next, Mrs. Bohannon. I had developed a talent for imitating Mrs. Bohannon behind her back. One day my friends called her over to our desks and said, “Hey, Mrs. Bohannon! Watch this! Kristy does the BEST imitation of you!” I shot my friends a devil stare but Mrs. Bohannon insisted that she see me do it. Luckily, this algebra teacher had a sense of humor. I should have known she might take it well – for Halloween she came to school wearing a bra with a bunch of foliage on it: an “algae-bra”.

Thanks to Mr. McAllister for being the only one who ever successfully explained word problems to me. To Mr. Thoennes for introducing me to a love of ceramics. I think he was relieved to have a student that loved working with clay who didn’t also love working with weed. Mr. Wetzel for never reporting me when I ditched typing to go swimming at Jodi’s house. To Miss Keithley for, no wait, I hated Miss Keithley. What English teacher in their right mind fails a student and makes them go to summer school when they have all A’s in spelling, vocabulary and grammar????!! Miss Keithley…she needed a man in her life.

And finally, to Mr. See. I had heard of his unconventional tactics of lecturing while riding his stationary bike in class. He was definitely a different breed but as it turned out, Mr. See became an invaluable resource in preparing me for college. He taught me how to write a paper, and writing papers absolutely saved my college GPA!

So, here’s to the grossly underpaid. Thank a teacher.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Winter Games in 2007

A couple of weeks ago we took our kids to Winter Park ski resort for the weekend. We put the kids in ski school for the first time, a commitment we made after we (and by "we" I mean Cory) tried to teach them by ourselves last year. And lest I leave you with the notion that we are that cool kind of Colorado family who gallivants off to the woods every winter for sporty activity let me just say this: while I legitimately enjoyed skiing throughout my college years, it has turned into an activity for me that I somewhat liken to childbirth. I only do it about every four years, and every time I go back my starry-eyed recollections of poetic movements through fresh powder (or using my analogy, like rocking a cuddly baby to sleep) explode into the reality of uncomfortable boots and inherited bad knees (or Sitz baths, teething, and potty training).

Anyway, on day two Samantha wanted to go back for more but Drew was not as enthusiastic. So, he and I stayed at the hotel while Cory and Samantha headed out for more. Later when we went to pick them up we found ourselves waiting for a while. That's when Drew invented this great game that I wanted to share with you, just in case your own children are ever at a loss for ways to challenge your game-playing stamina:

Drew: Hey Mom, I'm gonna try to get you to say "green" okay?
Kristy: OK.
D: What color is the sky?
K: Blue.
D: What color is the snow?
K: White.
D: What color are the trees?
K: Green!
D: Ha ha! I made you say green! Now, I'm gonna try to get you to say "red". What color are cars?
K: Red.
D: Ha ha! I made you say it! Now..."brown". What color are branches?
K: "Dirt"
D: What?
K: Branches are the same color as dirt.
D: Oh right, and what color is that?
K: Brown.
D: Ha ha! I made you say it! Now Mom, today the color of the sky is actually gray, and I'm gonna try to get you to say "gray". What color are trees?
K: Green.
D: The sky?
K: Blue.
D: Moooom! TODAY it's GRAY! Okay, now "white" - what color is snow?
K: Cloud color
D: And clouds are white so I MADE YOU SAY IT! Ha ha!
K: Hey Drew?
D: What?
K: I think I'm done playing this game.

Someday I'll be begging him to talk to me at all. In the meantime, I'll write stuff like this down...just in case I forget.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Old With No Fashion

Samantha, while giving me a tour of her friend's bedroom: "And LOOK Mom, she has an OLD FASHIONED desk!"

Me: "That's the kind of desk I had when I was a kid."

Samantha: "I know."

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fashion For Dummies

I have not been blessed with an eye for style the way my sister Suzi has, but somehow I have at least managed to stay current. You may never see me with a bag and shoes to match every outfit, but you will also never see me in a pair of leggings sporting a perm and five-inch bangs. With meager credentials at best, Cory still counts on me to keep him up to date on his wardrobe. In his world, there are basically two clothing categories: work and church. Work requires nothing more than Dockers and a button-down shirt, and church is easy: a suit and tie. It’s the “less than business casual” and “impress me on a Friday night” categories where we seem to feel the most challenged. Most of the time, I just buy things for Cory and bring them home. But recently after one of our dates, we had an unprecedented opportunity to try and accomplish this task together. I have heard before that success is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. I guess I was unprepared.

C: “I need Skechers? What are Skechers? Am I out of touch if I haven’t heard what Skechers are?”
K: “Yes.”
C: “Who pays for jeans with holes in them? I don’t get it.”
K: “Stop it. You sound like a grandpa.”
C: “Hey, how ‘bout these?” (holding up a pair of light colored jeans that were only one step away from 80’s acid wash)
K: “No, you need to go darker.”
C: “These aren’t dark?”
K: “No.”
C: “I’m not wearing anything that looks dirty already."

I finally picked out two pair of great jeans and handed them over for him to try on. He gave me an incredulous look and said, “Seriously?” Seriously.

Then I handed him a shirt that was long sleeved underneath and short sleeved over it. He put it on and came out - I laughed, then he looked at me with an expression of betrayal so I went on to explain that it seemed like he was trying too hard. He took my criticism personally and proceeded with a ten-minute discourse relaying that, “I invented this look when I was in Junior High and I wore it ALL THE TIME and everybody made fun of me. Well where are they now? I’m GETTING this shirt – I invented this shirt….”

We got the jeans AND the shirt and yes, a pair of Skechers. Can’t wait for our next date...especially if he wears those jeans.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Homeward Bound

This post is dedicated to five wonderful dads who took over a temporary role of single parenthood while their wives, a group of friends, headed for sunnier skies and beaches in Southern California for the weekend. Not only did I get to take this trip with my friends, but Southern California is where I spent the first half of my life and where several members of my family still live.

After landing at the San Diego airport we went to retrieve our bags when I looked out the wall of windows and saw the palm trees swaying without me, and I knew that my bag would have to wait a minute while I went outside to inhale the balmy air. I ran for the exit, opened the door and took a deep breath – unfortunately I was met with an aroma comparable to dark corners of Denny’s restaurants caused by a group of people equally desperate to get outside…smokers. It wasn’t until we reached the shores of the La Jolla Cove that I would inhale again and be able to affirm, “Aaaahhh…I’m home.”

After bike rides around Coronado Island, Go-Kart racing at Miramar, authentic Mexican food for dinner and a nostalgic visit to the temple where Cory and I got married, we headed for the house of my childhood where my parents still live and where we would spend our first night. As we approached my home and ascended the driveway I could see the lights illuminating the kitchen nook, and there sat my parents, enjoying their dinner meal together. I smiled to myself and ran to greet them – they gave hugs all around and again I thought, “Man it feels good to be home.”

For the next two days we took in several tourist attractions and made our way to the beach whenever possible. We saw sunsets, Beverly Hills, carnivals, Rodeo Drive, Darth Vader and Spiderman, street performers and transvestites. We shopped Hollywood Blvd. and consumed the most intoxicating serving of Gelato I’ve had since wandering the very streets of Italy. On our last day, a family dinner with my parents and two of my brothers and their families was the final event before boarding the plane back to Denver. I soaked in the atmosphere I was raised in, laughing as much as humanly possible and consuming enough rolls to make Atkins turn in his grave. I watched my oldest brother take a genuine interest in the lives of strangers, I made my youngest brother do some of his uncanny impersonations, I watched my thirteen-year-old nephew entertain my 3-year-old nephew nonstop, and I watched my parents continue to do what they have always done, creating an environment that makes everyone want to stay. But it was time to go.

I arrived home after midnight. There were jackets piled on the arm of the couch, chicken nuggets in the freezer, and remnants of the guys’ dinners together (in our absence) lining the fridge. The dishes were done and the kids were tucked in bed. I went to kiss the kids and nuzzle their necks – Drew slept through it but Samantha woke up enough to sling her arm around my neck and say, “Hey mama.” “Goodnight baby girl, I’ll see you in the morning,” I said. She fell back asleep, and I tried to get ready for bed as quietly as possible. I finally slipped into bed when Cory woke up enough to give me a hug and inquire about the weekend. With his arms around me I provided a brief rundown and promised more details the next day. I set the alarm, pulled up the covers, closed my eyes and smiled at the ceiling.

“Aaaahh…” I thought. “It’s good to be home.”