Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A disruption in the force

I love those messages that the celebrities do for "The More You Know" commercials sponsored by NBC, mostly because I find it amusing that the networks believe we are more likely to serve in our communities if we are told to do so by a blond bombshell like Molly Sims, or that John Stamos is the residing authority on monitoring what our kids watch on TV. But regardless of the irony, I still wholeheartedly concur with many of the messages that they deliver. And if it weren't for heeding advice like this from Howie Mandel, the following dinner conversation never would have happened last night:

Drew: "I like Harry Potter better than Star Wars."
*GASP* *GASP* *GASP* The forks dropped to our plates; our mouths gaped open in astonishment. Cory donned a tone of utter betrayal and asked the inevitable, "WHY?"
Drew: "Because I like magic better than the force."
Cory: "The force is more powerful than magic. Who would win in a fight? Neville Longbottom or Obi Wan Kenobi?"
Drew: "That's easy. Obi Wan."
Cory: "ExACTly!"
Drew: "But wizards can fly and jedis can't."
Samantha: "Harry Potter could take on a storm trooper, but NOT Yoda."

Thus ensued a comparative analysis on lightsabers vs. magic wands. Perhaps Howie is on to something. Maybe the very forces of good and evil are not actually fought on the battlefields, but right here at the dinner table. "Meal, or no meal."

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Meal Deal

Like I said, men are simple. My Dad is no exception, and I love him to death for it. But there are instances when less is not necessarily more. For example, my siblings and I are in the midst of planning a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my parents. [Feel free to offer a little cyber-applause for two people who didn't just manage to stay together but who hold hands more than Cory and I do.] Anyway, I had an idea regarding the food issue at hand (i.e., "How do we feed more than 300 people a full course meal without spending $8000?") so I called home to share my idea with the guests of honor, and my Dad answered.

"So Dad, what would you guys think about this for the dinner...."
"Oooh, Kris, I have an idea. This could be fun. You know Subway has these six foot long subs...."
He was totally serious.
"Sooo, when's Mom gonna be home again?"
Mom, I had forgotten, was across the country helping my sister move back across the country. My sister just had a baby a week ago. C-section. She is 44. [Cue more cyber-applause.] And did I mention she's moving? Across the country? With three kids ages 12-18, a two week old baby, one dog, one husband, and my sister with a stitched up abdomen from Connecticut to Arizona? You can see why my mom flew out to help.
"...and you know what else could be cool is we could maybe shape the sandwiches into the number 50...."
I began openly teasing him and he laughed along, but I promise you that if I had said, "That's brilliant!" we would be hiring 3 high-schoolers to cater my parents anniversary party. With mayo and sides of Sun Chips.

I'm hoping we can do a little better than that.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Quote of the day

While talking to my sister on the phone today I actually heard her say these words as she prepared lunch for her hungry brood:

"I would rather you not eat your food with a screwdriver, I would prefer that you use a spoon."

She gives excellent advice.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

x times y is not that complicated

"Which is easier, boys or girls?" It's a question that's been debated since the chicken and the egg fighting over who came first. Having one of each (a son and daughter, not a chicken and an egg - although I do have eggs, and I'm not against chicken ownership entirely, but...nevermind) I might seem qualified to weigh in with credibility, but most of the time I would probably say "neither" as it depends on the situation. For instance, when it comes to the issue of change my "Y" chromosome has far more resilience. When I mention to my "XX" chromosome that the house needs a new paint job, she defends its current color and later on during family prayer emphasizes to the heavens above that "...we are thankful for our beautiful home." Yet she always agrees with me when I say they need a bath, while my son remains content with wearing socks that can stand up on their own.

But one area that men and boys seem to have some stereotypical truth, and that I feel qualified to vouch for is that they're really not very complicated. As a woman, I keep trying to find out if this is true and not just something society is trying to impose with "Everybody Loves Raymond" reruns by cornering my husband and asking things like, "Really? Food and lovin' and you're TOTALLY happy. That's it? Those previously advertised phrases like 'love long walks on the beach' was just for show?" He seems to search for more because he feels like he should and then smiles as if to say, "Uhhhh...pretty much."

Lately I have noticed that this simplicity trait starts young, as exemplified in my seven-year-old bundle of testosterone wielding cap guns. Here's a little sampling from the last few weeks.

* While messing around with my iTunes playlist he selected some "Blake Lewis" songs we downloaded after watching American Idol:
Drew: "Hey Mom, can you guess who my favorite singer is?"
Me: "Um, Blake Lewis?"
Drew: "Yeah."

* Playing with his new Harry Potter wand:
D: "Hey mom, can you guess what my new favorite toy is?"
Me: "Could it be...your Harry Potter wand?"
D: [exhaling as if to signify defeat] "Yeeeeess."

* Listening to my iPod:
D: "Hey mom, do you know what I want really bad for Christmas?"
Me: "Let me see, is it an iPod??"
D: "Yep."

*And finally, last night as we sat at the dinner table and enjoyed the perfect watermelon:
D: "Hey Samantha, what's your favorite fruit?"
S: "Mangoes."
D: "Do you know what mine is?"
S: "Uh, watermelon?"
D: "Yep."

As fate would have it, in the middle of writing this post I was interrupted by the other "XX" chromosome in my house who asked, "Is that your blog?" "Yes," I replied. "Oh. What are you writing about?" How you don't want to paint the house and if we ever move I will have to use the equity in our home to pay for your professional counseling and that your brother loves watermelon. "The difference between boys and girls," I said. "Oh, that's easy," she interjected. "Boys are annoying and girls...well, I guess they can get sassy sometimes."

Ah...so simple. I wish I'd thought of that.

Monday, July 23, 2007

As Seen On TV

In his book "The Screwtape Letters", C.S. Lewis writes, "Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Or to put it in lay terms, it starts out kind of like Play-Doh. A nice, pliable, toxic-free clay, suitable for young children to enjoy as they hone their motor skills. Clean up not too painful. Seems all right. But before long you've moved on to perler beads, not suitable for children of younger ages who are prone to meandering the hallways scrounging for a stray fruit snack because they may come upon a perler bead instead. Choking might ensue. Not good. Also somewhat tedious to supervise as it does involve ironing and enough wax paper to line the inside of Oprah's closet. Next you're on to Floam, a marriage of the gooey-and-pliable-but-magically-not-sticky with the irresistible texture of small beads. Actually, not that messy. But holy cow, they do NOT warn you about that smell when you call the 800 number.

And before you know it you have been carefully led down to hell with the culmination of a product called "Moon Sand", which sounds whimsical and worthy of purchase from a mom who is desperately trying to save her children from a summer dedicated to video games and a TV station created by the very devil himself, but might very well be the culprit behind my grainy corn on the cob.

That C.S. Lewis was no dummy. Anybody want to weigh in about Aqua Dots?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nailed

I've only had a pedicure once in my life, and probably 2 or 3 manicures. But lately it seems like I haven't been able to cure the roughness of my heels on my own and so I broke down today and went for my 2nd of a lifetime pedicure. Frankly, I don't know why I stayed away so long. But because I am not in the habit of such indulgences, there was a level of uncomfortability that I had to grapple with.

First of all, sometimes I have questions. The first and only time I had fake nails (about 2 years ago - hated it - will never do that again) I wanted to make sure that they weren't too long, too square, too oval, too much, etc. In essence, I needed a nail consultation. But it's hard to have a conversation with a guy named Frank from the Philippines (whose name is surely not really Frank but who had to change it because he would rather go by a plain, American name than suffer the rest of his life with his given name being butchered by a world of Brittanys, Ashleys, and Mikaylas) whose forte is nails and not english chit-chat with a salon rookie. I walked in and tried to describe my needs in detail with some kind of articulate monologue like, "Well, I think I want to get acrylic nails with a french manicure, but will they be really long? Because I want them to be relatively subtle, you know, no daisies, no american flags, no spray painted hearts or anything, but I've heard that these things can be a little suffocating to your real nails. Is it true that once you take them off that it takes like TWO MONTHS for your real nails to come back? 'Cuz I don't know, that seems like a long time."

All he seemed to hear was "french manicure" and "acrylic" as he smiled but wordlessly motioned me to a chair got to work.

So, yes. I find that communication can be a bit of a problem. Second of all, I find that I have a hard time really relaxing. The salon I went to today was in the middle of my local Wal-Mart and so there was a lot of traffic passing by. I found myself regularly distracted, and thinking things like, "Holy cow, that kid is MAD," or "Honey, you really shouldn't wear sleeveless," or "Hey! There goes Lauren!" And above all I kept thinking, "Is it really appropriate for me to completely relax in a vibrating chair with another man rubbing me feet? What will people say?"

But I will tell you this, my feet are now pretty and smooth and at the end of the day, I think my new friend Frank is worth every penny.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Turning Circles

I can't say exactly when it started, but from the time Samantha was little I have had this thing that I do with my kids. During the short window of opportunity when they are standing far enough away from me to get a running start but close enough to make eye contact and sense the invitation, I throw my arms out wide and they know exactly what to do. They run toward me, jump into my arms when they get close enough, and then we turn a circle or two before I let them down.

Tonight Samantha was walking a friend home, but it was getting dark outside and so I waited for her in the driveway to return. I stood at the edge, observing an ant colony and pulling at a few stray weeds when I looked up and saw her coming back. She was wearing a dress that we just bought today, and I took note of the fact that this new outfit was a little different. It was the kind of dress that an older kid would wear - no bows, no cutesy fabrics, no Disney characters, nothing to suggest that she was doing anything but growing up and starting those very early stages of choosing her own personal style. She got closer, and reached the point where normally I would have spread my arms.

But I looked at her tall frame, her maturing face, and her resolute pace and decided that she had probably outgrown that little tradition. So I just stood and waited, watching for her to get close enough for me to turn my back on the heat of the outdoors and head back inside to my home where I keep it at a nice, refrigerator-like temperature. But before taking my first step I glanced back one more time, and instead of opening my arms, she opened hers and began to run. Surprised at her initiative I reciprocated, and before I knew it we were turning circles. "I love you mom," she said before putting her down. "I love you too," I returned. You have no idea.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I have a dream

You know how some people have a list of things they want to do before they die?

Well, I have a new wish, and it all started with a visit from Cory's parents a couple of weeks ago. One of the things we did with them was visit the "Bass Pro Shop". Are you familiar with this place? If not, you should understand that this is no ordinary store. Similar to a place called "Cabela's", this is the ultimate camping/hunting/fishing establishment and is not for the faint of heart. It is a place where you could not be surrounded by more testosterone if you were standing in the middle of a sperm bank. The famous "lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" line takes on a whole meaning as you walk in and dozens of pairs of eyes are immediately staring at you from above in an area created after the likeness of the terrain and wildlife of the Rocky Mountains. "See kids? I TOLD you they had tons of stuffed animals here!" I shouted as I pointed up. They don't think I'm funny. Luckily I've always got myself to fall back on.

The square footage of this store is such that upon entering you are met by zoo-like assistants bearing maps near their information center. And not to be outdone by any other self-respecting retail joint, a Starbucks connected the area between the fishing rods and camouflage. The kids spent several minutes observing the aquarium after which Samantha scaled the rock wall and rang the bell at the top. Near the Children's section (we're shopping with Grandma, let's not forget how vulnerable she is) was an enormous stuffed grizzly bear, in half mid-air, simulating an attack upon a wolf, also in mid-air and inches away from his fatal encounter.

And that's when it hit me that one thing I'd like to see before I die is Susan Sarandon and Rosie O'Donnell in the Brass Pro Shop. Let's see, I'd need a camcorder, some popcorn, a little soda, maybe some licorice, I'll wear my mink...oh yeah, I'm so adding that to my list.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"Reviving Ophelia's Mom" - a Sequel

We have been on vacation this week (hence my lack of communication), but I neglected to secure appropriate vacation reading material before we left. So I rummaged through our existing reserves and chose to take a book along with me that I purchased a couple of years ago that I haven't yet read, but have been told by many is a critical and helpful guide for parents of adolescent daughters. It is called Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, and considering my plight of the onset of middle school in less than two months, this seemed like a good time to hone my mothering skills so as not to disrupt my current pattern of perfection. (heh)

Day one provided me with my first opportunity to open this book and begin my enlightening quest. By page 38 I called my friend Ganelle, a major proponent for this book, to express my sheer horror at which she laughed because what does she care she has 3 boys. Apparently I've got little more than thirty days before my 55 pounds of blond-haired-delight-who-cheerfully-helped-her-brother-pack-his-suitcase-for-our-trip-and-recently-decided-to-start-doing-her-own-laundry is about to hate me, obsess about boys, stop caring about grades, wear too much eyeliner, and get annoyed by my every move such as clearing my throat in a way that OH MY GOSH EVERYONE WILL NOTICE. One night as we sat at dinner Samantha was rambling on about her Webkinz and all I could think of as I looked into her big blue eyes was who might try to say or do something horrible to her in the halls of her new school. I chattered on in raised tones to Ganelle, who suggested I skip the case studies and move to the back where the helpful suggestions are supposedly located. I chose option B): run to the grocery store and buy a "People" magazine and read instead about Prince William and Kate Middleton making eyes at each other at a concert and that Lindsay Lohan, pictured holding a tall cold one on the beach, seems to be handling her rehab really well.

If this author is right about what my child is about to go through, Lohan and I just might become roomies.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Lucky 7??

So yesterday's date was 7/7/07. As such, many were saying it could be called the luckiest day of the year.

So which part of our lucky day would you like to hear about first? The part where our car broke down on the freeway at 6:30 am, or the part when Cory got two flat tires on his bike ride, lost cell coverage, and after finally getting a hold of me he sat down to wait and stepped in dog poo? OR, the part where the tow truck company we hired to remove our abandoned vehicle called when they were 1/2 an hour late to apologize that their truck had broken down on the way to our rescue? The irony. Not to worry, he gave us the phone number of another tow company. I called him but he too apologized, explaining that his flatbed truckdriver had died of a heart attack a few days prior and he had not hired another driver yet. This was starting to get crazy, and it didn't escape my attention that somebody's life was far worse than mine right now. Still, I had a stranded car that needed to find its way to the dealership before day's end. I was referred three more times before we found someone who could extract our car from the Krispy Kreme/Del Taco parking lot where Cory had waited for three hours. As a result, we had to cancel some dinner plans with co-workers and reschedule our babysitter for later that night, hoping for eventual reprieve.

Dinner was great, and we decided that our stroke of bad luck was over for the day. We came home and asked our babysitter for the report. "The kids were good, but...ummm...there was this really loud sound that came from the garage...I'm not sure what happened, it just came out of nowhere. There's something that fell on the garage floor...." We went to scope it out and sure enough, we discovered parts on the floor indicating a broken garage door.
On one side.
The side that had our one working car in it.
And we would have moved it to the other side, but we didn't have the opener for that one because it was in the other car. You know, the one that was towed to the shop? Yeah, that one. Recognizing that we still needed to return our babysitter to her rightful family, Cory and I exerted a little force and opened it manually. The sitter and I got in the car, started it up, and began to exit. As I inched my way out I looked back, and then front, back and front again, only this time as I looked forward I saw Cory lurch in a panic, trying to stop the garage door that was suddenly plummeting and heading for the top of our vehicle. I slammed on the accelerator, stared ahead, and watched as the weight of the garage door missed the hood of our car by approximately two inches. I sat there in stunned silence until Cory appeared out of the other side of the garage.

As soon as we saw each other and noted the circumstances we just endured and the disaster we just narrowly escaped, we started to laugh. All the events of this day, mostly endured by Cory, came boiling to the surface and the laughter came so hard that soon I could hardly breathe. The babysitter giggled nervously along; this poor 15-year-old girl had come to our house for the very first time, and I fear she might never return.

A lucky day? The car broke down, but not too far from home. Cory's tires blew out on his bike...TWICE...but he was going uphill. Fast? Downhill? That would have been bad. His cell phone worked eventually, and after stepping in the poo he still had to wait 45 minutes for me to get to him so he had plenty of time to clean it off. He's not the one who died of a heart attack, and in the end we didn't actually crush our car with the plummeting garage door. 7/7/07. Could have been worse.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Bailee made her USA debut at Denver International Airport last Saturday. I had to wait until today to meet her for the first time and couldn't resist the opportunity to snap a few pictures. It's my personal belief that there's no such thing as an ugly Asian baby, and Bailee is certainly no exception.
Welcome to America little girl.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

"The Pool"

I’ve decided to make a more conscious effort to talk nicer to myself. Not in a downtown, homeless, mental illness kind of way, just in a “you’re not in middle school anymore so stop it already” kind of way. And I have to say that it’s actually been going rather well. However, in hindsight, I probably should have saved this experiment until AFTER going to the pool.

You see, we don’t have a pool in our neighborhood and so we don’t go unless we are invited by somebody else who does. This means that I have approximately 84 fewer opportunities to be seen in a bathing suit, which equals about 84 fewer occasions to consider a quick leap off the nearest bridge. But today we were invited to a neighbor’s pool and the kids were ecstatic. Upon our arrival, our paths immediately crossed with a Woman Who Should Never Be Allowed To Look Like That After Giving Birth To Any Kind Of Five To Nine Pound Mass who happened to share part of our table with her lunch bag. “Good for her!” I said out loud while quietly thinking, “Would it KILL you to eat a chocolate chip every few days?”

After the initial unpacking and sunscreen rubdown the kids were off and we sat down to relax. I observed my surroundings only to spot another body in a bathing suit that should have been reserved for only those under 20. “Good for her!” I thought, trying to practice. “Tramp.” I thought for real. And then I did see somebody under 20, whose body seemed fit for her age. “Enjoy it honey, it’ll catch up to you…” I thought as she got out of the water and wandered over to her chair…which was housing her newborn in a carrier. “Tramp.” Wait, no, I mean, “Good for you!” My host spotted a familiar face, wandered over to visit with her for a minute, and then returned to explain, “See those three kids? Those are her triplets.” It wasn’t until then that I noticed the quads of this mother of 3 to be the same size as my calves. I pulled out a jolly rancher from my bag; it was left over from our fourth of July piƱata and seemed to help me concentrate on something else other than all of the moms at this pool who seem to have never heard of “Nabisco”. “Good for them!

I kept most of these thoughts to myself as I chatted with our hosts about schools, family, summer plans etc. The kids came back for a break and a snack. I pulled out some graham crackers and YoGo’s while the other mom I was with (whose figure is no less impressive than the other mutants who seemed to surround me) yanked out a small plastic container for her toddler. Expecting it to contain something like Cheerios or fruit snacks or some other factory-laden yogurt wannabe snack, I was dumbfounded when she pulled out GREEN BEANS. One by one she fed them to her child who inhaled them as if they were dipped in sugar. “HAVE MERCY! WILL SOMEONE PLEASE GET THIS WOMAN A BOX OF FRUIT LOOPS???!!!!” My sub-conscious yelled, only to crowd out any other thoughts still attempting a better life for me.

See what I mean? It’s been going really well. Next time you’re at the pool, look for me. I’ll be the one in the corner licking a stick of butter.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fireworks

Coming home from the fireworks, we were stuck in traffic that was loosely being controlled by police officers who I swear would have been more effective if they had been distracted by the line at Krispy Kreme. Sensing the wait, Drew moaned:

D: How loooong is it going to take to get hooome?
Kristy: Hey, no whining. How about, ‘THANKS Mom and Dad for taking us to see fireworks. THANKS Mom and Dad for coming early so we could get a good spot and play for an hour with our friends before the fireworks started. And THANKS for bringing us lightsticks to play with in the dark while we waited and for taking us to the movies earlier today.’”
Samantha: Uhhh…how ‘bout we just stick with “Thanks.”

Monday, July 2, 2007

No one knows the power of the dark side

It's not that I have anything against it. I actually think it's been a great motivator, especially for our younger contingent. It's just that I've never really subscribed to the "everybody's doing it" philosophy, and so it serves as my own little personal form of rebellion to not participate. Like the western Mormon who flaunts that they have never been to Salt Lake City, or my friend at a party the other night who bragged about never having seen "Titanic". I seem to enjoy moments of not feeling like everybody else, which is why I've resisted a minivan all my life. (I live in Colorado and drive an SUV - I'm quite the rebel.) So in my twisted realm of definitive individuality, this is one more way I have chosen to dissent.

But it just won't die! This has been going on for so long now; it actually seems that "everybody's doing it" is not in fact a gross overgeneralization, and that resistance seems futile. And to be honest, I don't think I would give in if it weren't for the fact that my kids seem to be feeling left out. Conversations are erupting all around them that they can't relate to and they want to know what the fuss is all about. And if those conversations were about stupid things that kids do that mine don't understand because they are not stupid kids, that would be one thing. I could chalk that up to good parenting. But this? It's not actually harmful, and might even have the potential of being a good thing.

I'm talking about Harry Potter. I have enjoyed being able to say that I've never read a single Harry Potter book or attended a single Harry Potter movie. But I stand (sit?) before you today, humbled and forthcoming with my confession that I have officially lost my Harry Potter virginity. It's called "we were on a road trip and had to pass six hours of time during which we had nothing to talk about and 'Oh look! What's this? Well if it isn't the volume I book on tape of Harry Potter'."

The kids are hooked, so much so that they can't wait to get in the car. Which at this point may as well be traded in for a minivan.