Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's All Greek To Me

I think there are a lot of things the Greeks got right. Architecture, baklava, coastal living and John Stamos (that’s Mr. Stamatopoulos to you) to name a few.  Oh, hi John.  I didn't see you there.  Thinking of me again, are you?  Frustrated that I won't return your calls?  Waiting for something to happen to my darling Cory so you can swoop in and take care of things?  Stand in line.

Anyway, I’m not even opposed to Greek mythology, as Narcissus and I are tight. Yogurt, however, is where my love for the Greeks makes a sharp U-turn from “You put the ‘Ooohhh’ in ‘Gyro’” to, “What did your baby just spit up and why are you feeding it to me with a spoon?”

Last week while watching “The Biggest Loser” I listened to Bob the trainer give Ashley a speech about healthy snacks, and how Greek yogurt was the next best thing to putting the pocket in pita. He served it to her with some berries, and Ashley nodded her head in agreement and said, “Mmm…it’s good!”

Ashley lied.

If I had a dog that was dying and the vet told me that the only thing that would save her was 8 ounces of Greek yogurt, I would not make her eat it. And not even because I don’t like dogs, but because I don’t HATE dogs either and I would want to prove it by saying, “THIS is COMPASSION people!”
It’s okay, Greece, you can’t have everything. Which is probably why you also got George Michael.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Rules of Dance

Having turned 14, my daughter is officially old enough to attend the monthly church dances – I am currently waiting for her to get back from her very first one. Now, I’m not the kind of mother to fret and cry and clamor for the walls while someone drags me out screaming, “My Baby!” as she continues to grow and mature and care about, [lowers to a whisper, looks around to see if anyone is listening] BOYS. I’m actually quite thrilled for her and hope she has a really great time. However, I would like to take this opportunity to define a “really great time” just in case she’s reading.

The Rules of Dance – from your Mother Who Knows

1. If the guy you are slow dancing with is singing the song in your ear while you sway, HE IS NOT FOR YOU. This is particularly true with “Lady In Red” and anything by Chicago .
2. If the guy is super hot and polite, you can let rule #1 slide.
3. If you are standing next to a guy who asks you to look in his cup of punch, and you do, and then he says, “Oh, look. You made my ice melt”, this is a line he learned at EFY and he is only trying to make out with you. And I don’t care what Ganelle told you, making out is TOTALLY out of the question until you’re like, 30. As if.
4. Have I mentioned that you are not old enough to be making out? Or kissing at all, really? Let me be clear, I am totally fine with you having crushes on boys as long as all you do is practice your signature with his last name inserted on your notebooks. To sum up: Practicing signature using crush’s name = Cool. Making out = NOT cool.
5. You must spend at least equal time dancing as you do in the bathroom with your friends putting on more mascara. Disregarding this rule will disappoint your great-grandmother who will surely be watching from a room in heaven during the commercials of “Dancing With The Stars”. [Note: Before leaving for tonight’s dance I offered to show her some last minute dance moves to help her get her groove on. She said, “Uh...seeing as the dance tips would be coming from YOU, I think I’ll pass.” She knows how to make an old girl feel good.]
6. Don’t fight “YMCA”, just embrace it. It’s not going anywhere.
7. Remember, keep a Bible’s width apart when slow dancing! This is a lame rule when you are 14, but when you are the MOTHER of a 14-year-old you’re like, “Who made that rule? I would like to send them some flowers, chocolates and a thank you note.”
8. If there is a lull in the festivities of the night I recommend making fun of the chaperones, particularly if they are operating under the notion that waltzing is what all the cool kids are doing. Still, you might consider going out of your way to take them some punch and introducing yourself. There’s a good chance they are the parents of the hottest guy there.

What can I say? It worked for me.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fox Mulder Is An Optimum Pooper

Some of you know him as “Mulder” from the X-Files.

For me, I prefer to recall David Duchovny (Bob) as the grieving widower trying to brush up on his rusty dating skills as he takes an interest in Minnie Driver (Grace) in “Return To Me”.

(Remember the part where he asks to hold her hand? And when he bought her a new bike? And when his heart spoke before he had time to think and he confessed how good she smelled?) This is the movie that caused me to fall in love with David Duchovny. One time I watched David play “Celebrity Millionaire” and when he got stuck on a question he used his wife as his “Phone-A-Friend”. This made me like him even more for two reasons. One, “Awww…his wife is his FRIEND!” And two, his wife didn’t know the answer to the question either and as the time ran out on the clock for her to help him she said, “Oh honey, you’re so screwed!” and then he laughed, which made me respect their relationship. Later when I found out that he was kind of a creep in real life I tried to plug my ears and go, “La! La! La!” because I wasn’t interested in my image of Bob Rueland, lover of gorillas and monogamy, being tainted.

But alas, his career kinda went in the crapper (which will make even MORE sense in a minute) and he’s one of those celebs who now has to take his money where he can get it. How else do you explain that he is now the voice for a commercial like this?

“Now I’m not just a GOOD pooper, but an OPTIMUM one.” Too funny. I'm wondering, do you think the dog would have agreed to being filmed had he known the nature for which it was going to be used?  And one more thing, do you think this stuff is effective on humans too?  I know a guy who would pay GOOD MONEY....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Even The Sexiest Man Alive Had To Have Work Done

Dear Universe:  I think you have me mixed up with somebody else.  Specifically, I think you are under the impression that I am independently wealthy and I want to set the record straight before you burden me with any more surprise expenses.  Love surprises, hate expenses.  Capiche?  Please stop crossing your wires.  What with the emergency surgery, both cars needing new tires, our property taxes quadrupling, and the $1500 car repair that was required after sliding on icy roads into a curb, I sorta thought we were done.  Then the orthodontist called and said, "Hey, remember me?  My 2009 Ferrari is on its last leg and I am in desperate need of a new one.  This time, yellow, I think.  Please bring your daughter in for her appointment so we can get the ball rolling."  And I will tell you THIS, universe, the ball is SOOOO rolling.  As in, "I know you've already paid three thousand dollars for phase ONE, Mrs. Vern, but your daughter is definitely going to need a phase TWO.  This time it's going to cost FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.  Think you're getting ripped off?  Apparently you've never SEEN the yellow Ferrari.  Call me and I promise to give you a ride sometime.  It's the least I can do."  Are you listening to me people?  EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't think my daughter is worth it.  It's just that I think two Caribbean cruises would be more fun.  Also, I'm a little worried that the word will get out and before you know it Pamela Anderson will be calling us for a loan to help her pay off the $500,000 of back taxes she owes in California.  (Watch your back, Pamela.  The Governator has your number.  P.S. When he calls, be sure to call him that.  He can't get enough of it.)  Worse yet, what if Bill Gates gives us a jingle hoping for financial assistance to help pay for a personality?  I mean, I know he's loaded, but that's got to cost a BUNDLE.

I understand why straight, white teeth are imperative for certain people.  Celebrities, for example, have an image to protect but they also have the bank accounts to back it up.  Us?  We are an accountant/stay at home family that lives in the Rocky Mountains.  Certainly we should be able to enjoy some of the dental freedoms that the Brits do.  Then again, I also remember what it felt like for me when I got my braces off.  For the first time in my life I was able to look in the mirror and think that whoever landed me "as long as we both shall live" was one lucky dude.  Plus, celebrity or not, don't you think it's better for ALL of us that Celine Dion had her teeth fixed?

Seriously, that first picture is like, "Sorry, the role of the 80's version of the vampire loving Bella has already been cast."  And the 2nd picture?  Even though she's wearing too much blue eye shadow I would totally trust that lady to watch my kids.  Next up, George Clooney:

BEFORE: "Newsies" reject.
AFTER:  Well helllloooo Mr. Sexiest Man Alive.

Then again, this might have more to do with the beret vs. the tux. 

This here is rapper 50 Cent.  The way I see it, at some point this guy is going to be doing the rounds as an inner city motivational speaker inspiring kids to never give up on their dreams.  And when he does, I think his "AFTER" shot makes a better statement.  Plus, it encourages all those successful rappers to spend their new found fortune on something useful instead of pointless bling with their momma's initials.

Miley Cyrus.  Sure her teeth look better, but I'm also feeling oddly grateful that in both pictures she has plucked her eyebrows.  Good job Miley, 'cuz your dad is really hairy.

Zac Efron BEFORE:  Aren't you the guy who used to drop all your books in the hallway at school after the football players gave you a wedgie?
Zac Efron AFTER:  Don't you realize that there are OTHER girls to date besides the head cheerleader?  SECOND STRING BASKETBALL PLAYERS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

So, yeah.  Samantha's getting braces.  Again.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Look On The Bright Side, I Almost Posted Something About Elvis

One of the commitments we have made as a family is to try and set aside one night a week to have what we call “Family Night”. Even though we spend every evening together under the same roof, we are often in separate rooms doing different things (homework, dishes, TV, email, Facebook, checking blogs, checking more blogs, researching musical PA systems – more info on that later! Can you say, "Happy Early Mother's Day"?) so Family Night is a way of spending some time together that’s a little more structured. Sometimes we discuss religious principles, other nights we might go out for ice cream, often we share some kind of activity (usually involving Nerf guns and point blank Nerf darts to the head), and when we’re too tired we use “Psyche” episodes to reinforce our family bond. But last Monday, we tried something a little different.

A couple of weeks ago David A. Bednar spoke to millions of people regarding our responsibility as parents to our children, and he made some recommendations for spontaneous discussions in our families. He said, “Imagine a Family [Night] in which children are invited and expected to come prepared to ask questions about what they are reading and learning….And imagine further that the children ask questions the parents are not prepared adequately to answer.” Two days later was our appointed night, so we decided to try this approach. [Translation: It was late, no one was prepared with a lesson, and this sounded easy.] “Okay guys,” I started in. “Tonight, instead of an organized lesson Dad and I have decided to open it up for questions. Fire away.” Samantha and Drew stared at each other quizzically, so I continued. “We just want you guys to know that you can come to us at any time and ask anything you want and we will do our best to answer you. We’re an open book – nothing is off limits. So, do you guys have any questions that have been on your mind?” Samantha looked up at the green hat perched on Drew’s head and said, “Okay, how come Drew’s hat is the color of boogers?” Drew laughed, pointed at Samantha’s yellow shirt and asked, “Yeah! And why is Sam’s shirt the color of URINE?” They broke out in laughter at which point Cory and I decided to just go to bed.

So, I guess the moral of the story is I hope David Bednar never comes to our house for Family Night. He would be so disappointed in us. Plus, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable giving him a nerf dart to the head.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Also, You’re Not Supposed To Drink Toilet Water

I’m not an idiot, but sometimes I play one on this blog. Case in point, this morning I broke out my blender (as I often do) to mix up a breakfast smoothie. Now. I hate my blender. Hate, hate, HATE my blender. Here’s a bright idea, Vern. If you hate your blender so much why don’t you just go buy a new one? BECAUSE. This IS a new one, and it’s not returnable (discontinued – bought the display model – “such a great deal!” – GAH!) I hate it for two reasons. One, because it is wussy. The blades are such that they were not trained to take in aggressive and hearty ingredients such as YOGURT and MILK, not to mention the sheer audacity one might have to throw in a frozen berry. No, no. Throwing in actual ingredients causes the blender to seize like a pregnant woman in the throes of morning sickness enduring the constant struggle to keep her food down; the blades spin out of control at the base, mixing one fourth of the contents into frothy oblivion while the rest of the ingredients sit on top, lurching in small waves as if to protest, “I WILL NOT YIELD!”

Secondly, my blender is so FREAKING loud that if I put it in a yelling contest with Jillian Michaels I’d be all, “What’s that Jillian? I can’t hear you! You’re going to have convey my inadequacies a little LOUDER.” And I bet she’d be like, “GAME ON!” and then I’d bleed to death from all the blood coming out of my ears and it would finally be quiet.

So, yeah. HATE my blender.

As I mixed my regular concoction this morning we launched into our regular routine, except for some reason this time I thought I could outsmart my blender. In other words, I asked myself, “Is it really necessary for the blades to be completely stopped before I shove my knife in there to help it along?” As it turns out, YES. Yes, it is. On the positive side, berries and soy milk and all their protein and nutrients has to be good for a person’s hair, no?

It’s not that I didn’t know it was a bad idea, I just thought I could handle it. Which made me realize something - it is because of people like me that companies have to write warnings on their boxing materials like, “Marbles are not for gargling” and “Juggling of the Ginsu knives may cause bodily injury”. This morning I happened upon this article about the Nation’s Wackiest Label Contest. Among the contest winners:
1. “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover”
2. “Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking”
3. “This product not intended for use as a dental drill”
If I could just add one more, “Despite the fact that the noise from this appliance emanates from the very depths of Purgatory and it might require several minutes of your patience to obtain something as simple as a smoothie without attracting bodily harm, do not insert sharp objects while the blade of this product is in motion. You’ll poke an eye out.” Luckily, my eyes are in tact. I do, however, have various shades of berry now gracing my sweats.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Double Digits

There’s a pretty decent age gap between my kids (4 years) and yet their birthdays are only a week apart (apparently Cory and I have a lot of fun around July) so our birthday celebrations happen all around the same time. Last week Drew hit the double digits, meaning he has survived longer than most Hollywood marriages but not long enough to know that Michael Jackson used to be black. He’s been under the surgical knife three times, made fun of his mother 3,592 times, eaten vegetables at least twice, and I’m sure I managed to get him to the zoo at least once during those years. (Unless you happen to show up on a day when the tigers haven’t had their Ritalin and are spitting mad at each other, the zoo is only fun the first time around. After that, the only thing to look forward to is the kettle corn. Seriously, how many times do I have to watch an elephant dump his load while shoving food in his mouth? I can watch that at home for FREE.) At any rate, in honor of Drew’s TENTH birthday, here is a Top 10 List of things I love about him.

10. While shopping for an Easter dress with Samantha, Drew found a shirt he wanted and asked if he could wear it out. I told him to wait until we got in the car and then he could change. “Okay,” he said, “but only as long as Samantha doesn’t make fun of me and go, ‘Oh! Look at his man boobies!’”
9. Because of this line in his last paper he wrote at school: “It was kind of weird meeting an alien and pretending a peanut butter and jelly sandwich were my parents. Oh well, live and learn!”
8. Hey Drew, remember that day when you were complaining about how hard your life was and so I Googled images of the earthquake in Haiti and made you look at pictures of all the homeless, orphaned children? And you STILL thought you had a case? Ha ha, that was a good one.
7. One time I said the word “sex” and you freaked out, plugged your ears and yelled, “Aaaahh!! Don’t use that word around me!” So I asked you what you wanted me to call it, and you said, “How about ‘snookie’?”
6. In fact, you hate that word so much that when you gave your talk at church yesterday and the scripture you quoted used the word “sects”, you changed it to “churches” because you were uncomfortable with the way that word sounded.
5. You give really good advice.
4. Like that one time you walked down the hall and said, “Whew! NEVER go into the bathroom after Dad.”
3. You think all things are worthy of a celebration. One time you came home from the Father/Son campout and said, “Mom, for my Homecoming can I have a Yogos Roller?”
2. A lot of people say you take after me. If that's true, I hate to break it to you but you’re probably not going to date much.
1. HOWEVER, there will come a time when you will understand Hershey’s to be the poor man’s chocolate, and words like “Dove”, “Cadbury” and “Lindor” will take on new meaning and change your life. Plus, you’ve inherited some killer dance moves, so it’s not all bad.

Happy Birthday to the boy who makes my life better every day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Her Unexpected Life

When I was asked to serve as the new President of our church women’s organization a year ago, I replaced a phenomenal leader. Known for her acute organizational skills and fearless ability to “Git-Er-Done” (during a routine checkup on a woman who had severe health issues she walked in on her covered in vomit and set to work cleaning up and taking care of her) I was completely out of my element in knowing how to follow in her footsteps. I would certainly have to rely on a different skill set. Nevertheless, I wasn’t entering into this new responsibility under traditional circumstances.

Traditional circumstances would mean that she had simply served her time and it was somebody else’s turn. Traditional circumstances would allow me to spend a few hours with this former President so I could learn about immediate needs and figure out where in the world I was supposed to start. After all, I had just been put in charge of 225 women and I only knew about ten of their names.

But these were definitely not traditional circumstances. This talented, articulate, and generous woman had just been dealt a blow that would make Mike Tyson’s head spin. After 20 years of raising her family and serving the people of our community, her husband (a prior bishop in our ward) had just turned himself into the government, confessing to authorities and his family for the first time that he had been running a Ponzi scheme for the last two decades.

Let's just let that sink in for a minute, shall we?  In your wildest imagination, can you even begin to comprehend what that must have been like?  Me neither.

The moment I found out (which was at the same time I was asked to take her place) I was stripped of words.  She immediately became the very first woman I was worried about, and yet SHE was supposed to show ME what to do!

To show you the kind of person that she is, she insisted that she still come over to my home to give me all of my necessary materials and visit with me about the needs in our area. Can you imagine? Going to visit someone who was taking your place to tell them who they should be worried about when their own name is at the top of the list? Never in my life have I prayed harder to have the perfect words. Just this once, Lord. Provide me the perfect words that will give her exactly what she needs right now. The perfect words never came. She sat on my couch and listed name after name of people for me to be aware of, to watch over, to care for. I was stumped, not knowing how to respond. I had a million questions about my new responsibilities, but what could possibly be more important that what was going on with her? I desperately wanted to give her whatever it was that she needed, so I tried to follow her cues. If she wanted to act like everything was normal, I would act like everything was normal. Everything was SO not normal. At any rate, hers is not my story to tell which is why I’ve never mentioned it before. The only reason I’m comfortable referencing any of this now is because she has decided to tell her own story via this wonderful tool we all have called the internet. An excerpt:
They came.

Government representatives, approximately eight of them. Wearing dark jackets and sunglasses, flashing gold badges, they arrived at my home in dark Suburbans with tinted windows–just like in the movies. Only this time it wasn’t a movie, it was my new and unexpected life.
Another little gem:
My experience of 2009 wasn’t going to destroy me. It wasn’t going to be the only aspect to me and of my life forever. I have a story, and it isn’t only one of ponzi schemes, crime, betrayal, divorce and an unexpected life. I still get to write the book.
She’s a great writer with a fascinating story to tell. You’ll be uplifted by her faith, empowered by her resolve, and validated by her honesty. Check out her blog HERE and start at the beginning. You won’t be sorry.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How Old Do I Have To Be Before I Can Stop Posting About Star Wars?

Sometimes when you live at my house and you ask your husband what he wants for Christmas, he says, “An Obi Wan Kenobi costume”. And then sometimes the wife has to extract the husband’s birth certificate to confirm that his birth date is correct, and that he is not actually 7 years old with exceedingly fine hair. And then when she realizes that indeed, the math has been done correctly she is forced to ask, “What in the world are you going to do with a Star Wars costume?” and he might defend his position by saying, “Oh, I’ll do PLENTY with it.” Then the wife shuts up because she believes him, and it scares her a little bit.

Later when you are hanging out with your friends after December festivities they ask innocent questions such as, “So, what did you get [insert your husband’s name] for Christmas?” There are all kinds of suitable answers to this inquiry; “a BBQ”, “a table saw”, “golf clubs”, or “a sweater with crocheted llamas” to name a few. And since I didn’t want to be the one who had to answer “an Obi Wan Kenobi Star Wars costume”, I told my mother-in-law about it and SHE got it for him. It’s been sitting in its bag ever since.

Until last night.

Mr. Kenobi made its maiden voyage out of the bag and into a room full of youth ages 12-18 where Cory gathered a group of 14-year-old boys to perform a Star Wars skit for the annual Talent Show. I didn’t stay to watch, (I suppose in some circles being Obi Wan’s wife is something to brag about, it just so happens that I was not AT a Star Wars convention OR trying to impress Dwight Schrute), but Samantha came home to report that Dad’s tauntaun impersonation stole the show.

A few months ago I told Drew that it was time we decorate his room.  Up to this point he has pretty much just had a bed and a dresser that's older than I am (I KNOW!).  So one afternoon I asked him what kind of a room he would like, and he said, "Well...either an Indiana Jones room or a Star Wars room."  I cautioned, "That sounds fun, but let's keep in mind that you're almost 10-years-old and we want to be sure and pick a theme that will last you a few years."  In his infinite wisdom he reminded me, "MOM.  DAD is FORTY-TWO and HE still likes that stuff!"

*sigh*  As you can see, the boy has a point.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Odds And Ends. Probably more odds.

  • Having just come off of Easter weekend there is something I need to get off my chest. I am tired of every bloody activity surrounding this event being called an “Egg-Stravaganza”. Does anyone out there feel like this is clever anymore? We need to come up with something else. 
  • In other news, I asked the kids a while ago how long they thought it would take their dad to notice that I bought some new throw pillows for the couch. They made their guesses in days, I said a week. Three weeks later Cory found me in the kitchen and said, “Hey, did we get new pillows?” Man, I love that guy.
  • Last week we were playing cards when Drew began studying the back of the card. “HEY!” he mused. “Are these NAKED ANGELS ON POGO STICKS?!” An absurd question. Or so I thought… 

  • Cory loves magic tricks, so when I saw a cool magician on “Ellen” I recorded it for him to watch later. He was so intrigued with a certain stunt that he began rewinding, then forwarding, then rewinding and forwarding again in slow motion to try and deconstruct the trick. Then he became determined to do it himself and started practicing, which is when we kicked into supportive mode and all began laughing at him. There is beauty all around when there’s love at home! Cory piped up, “You guys can laugh at me all you want,” to which Samantha replied, “We’re not laughing at you…YET. We’re just predicting how it’s going to turn out.”

  • Another night last week Drew sat at the table to work on his homework when he started to giggle. “What’s so funny?” I asked him.  “Well,” he began, “it says to write a convincing letter to your parent about why it’s a good idea to get a cockroach as a pet. [shakes head] I got nothin’.”  
How was YOUR week?