Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ghosties

This week is Fall Break with my kids, which means if I'm not careful Sonny Will Have More Chances than Cher, The Suite Life will cause me to jump ship, and the Wizards will claim permanent residence outside of Waverly Place in my family room.  So.  I decided that today we would make a Halloween craft.  For those of you who read the ending of books before you commit to the whole story, allow me to start with a picture of the finished product.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Know Why The Free Bird Swings

Twenty-five years ago in a broadcasted speech by Gordon B. Hinckley he said, “There is so much of sorrow in the world. There is so much of pain. There is so much of loneliness and fear and misery. There are so many whose circumstances are desperate and who cry out in deep distress.”

I was fifteen at the time and probably thought he was talking to me because I had braces and couldn’t get Mike/Steve/Mark/Kevin to notice me. I am older now (29 days until I hit the big 4-0 – don’t procrastinate getting me my black balloons and Preparation-H gag gifts. The sooner the better – I’m getting really low on Preparation-H.) and as such have witnessed and experienced some For Real trials. Death. Violence. Betrayal. Discouragement. Stress. It’s all around me, and it feels heavy lately.

I felt the pressure mounting early this morning so I decided to exercise it out of me before I exploded.  Since the weather in Denver today had us confused with the opening scene from The Wizard of Oz, I opted for the gym instead of the outdoors. Kelly Clarkson got me going almost 8 mph to one of her latest hits – it boasts a ridiculous message, (“Being with you is so dysfunctional, I really shouldn’t miss you but I can’t let you go…”) and a chorus line that’s categorically lazy, (“My life would suck without you”) but what can I say, it makes me run faster.

I settled onto a machine that faces the wall of windows overlooking the outside. With the rhythm of my steps humming below and my iPod streaming through my consciousness, the tension started to find its way out.

I ran.

And I ran.

I felt a little like Forrest Gump.

Remember how he kept running?

Also, remember how he liked chocolates?

Forrest gets me.

Then, glancing out the window my gaze caught up with a bird attempting to take flight outside. There she was, suspended in the air and flapping her wings faster than a hummingbird on Red Bull – she seemed determined, (I bet she heard about the sale at TJ Maxx) but the winds were so fierce that she couldn’t move. Chaos reigned around her little, determined form. The unpredictable gusts pushed her up, thrust her down, and made her look like she had one too many glasses of wine but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t move forward.

Moving fast and getting nowhere.

I know how she feels.

If birds could talk I would have invited her back to my house for hot chocolate so we could swap stories. I bet she would have accepted my invitation, flown over and then upon seeing my house she probably would have been like, “Hey, I’ve been here before. I built a nest on your porch and then crapped on it all summer!”

I would have forgiven her. And then poisoned her hot chocolate.

In addition to the aforementioned Hinckley quote, he added this a few sentences later:

“May your prayers be answered. May you have peace and strength and love and gladness in your lives. I urge you to lift your heads and walk in gratitude. Spare yourselves from the indulgence of self-pity. It is always self-defeating. Subdue the negative and emphasize the positive. Count your blessings and not your problems.”
Which means I should probably take back that part about the poison.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What I Know For Sure - Volume VI

I've watched Oprah sit across from many a guest and ask them, "What do you know FOR SURE?"  Their answers are typically uninspiring but every time I've heard the question posed I've silently wondered how I would respond to the same.  The result has been a series of Top 10 lists I started a couple of years ago (archived on the sidebar) - it's been a really long time since I've had a fresh one, so here it goes:

1. We need to find a different word for “titillating”.

2. Same with “pianist”.

3. Eating healthy gives you gas. Anyone who refutes this has never had a “Fiber One” bar and 5 servings of vegetables in the same day.

4. Noting #3, our investment in that King size bed is already paying off.

5. When your spaghetti sauce unknowingly explodes in a box that sits in the basement for another four weeks it gets moldy and ruins everything else in the box, including your plastic wrap.

6. Trying to get mold out of a roll of plastic wrap is about as productive as trying to scrape all the butter off of a piece of baklava.

7. There’s a scene from “The Office” where Jim is sitting at his station when he suddenly thunks his head face down on his desk. The camera moves to Pam where she explains that sometimes Jim “dies of boredom” and in those instances it is her job to revive him. Now that they're finally together, I think it's time to see Jim & Pam utilize this tactic on a road trip along I-80.

8. It’s embarrassing when your kid farts in front of your home teacher during his spiritual message.

9. It’s also really funny.

10. I’ve never met a woman who can legitimately pull off the phrase, “You go girl!”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why carve my own when there’s Google?

In case you didn’t know, I’m not the fun parent.  I don’t carve pumpkins, color easter eggs, make homemade valentines or whip up batches of Christmas divinity in a poinsettia embroidered apron.  So, you can imagine my delight when Cory and Drew came home from grocery shopping the other night with a small pumpkin.  Drew announced with enthusiasm, “Now we can make our OWN homemade pumpkin pie!”  I looked at Cory as if to say, “You couldn’t show him where the canned pumpkin was?”  But he totally misunderstood me and thought I said, “Excuse me while I check my fantasy football scores.” 

The pumpkin is resting on our counter where I’m confident it will stay until someone goes, “What’s that smell?” and I’ll sigh and put on my best fake disappointed face and say, “Don’t worry kids, Costco was made for parents like me.”  We’ll throw the spoiled pumpkin in the trash and I’ll drive to Costco to buy the eight dollar pumpkin pie, except when I get to the checkout line the cashier will probably say, “That will be five hundred and thirty-three dollars, please” because I didn’t anticipate such a screamin’ deal on corn.

Some of you might worry that Drew will be disappointed.  It’s okay, he’s used to it.  And if he’s really sad I’ll just show him this picture.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rise and shout, the Cougars are out!

Every year our church puts on a carnival for our members in this area, and each year it's a pretty big hit, particularly for our younger contingent. Sno-Cones, cotton candy, hot dogs, and corn are always on the menu, and the cake walk, face painting, and whatever bouncy castle jumping thing they happen to come up with are typically included in the festivities. Our church is 100% supported by the members; we have no paid clergy, and hence we have no paid or qualified individuals to man the said face painting booth other than 15-year-old girls and their leaders (such as my big bad self.) But every year we show up with our year supply of craft paints complete with paint brushes seemingly qualified for cleaning tile grout and attempt to grant the wishes of the young children in attendance.

"Can you do a cheetah?" my first client of approximately 4-years-old asked. I hesitated because my specialty is not so much cheetahs but more like squares, stars, or perhaps items in the circle family. His grandmother sensed my uncertainty and jumped in with a suggestion of colored stripes down the sides of his cheeks the color of a Colorado Sports team. Thank you Grandma! I did manage to transform one little boy into a Ninja Turtle, but not before running out of green.

Further back in the line was a middle aged woman who I assumed was in company with one of the several youngsters who hovered nearby, and she kept lurking near the box of paints making comments about "the right color of blue". After putting the finishing touches on a little girl's rainbow, this woman found her way to the front of the line. I looked for the child who was waiting with her when she asked, "Do you think you could do 'BYU' on one side and then 'Go Cougars' on the other?" I realized she was requesting for herself, and so I replied, "Oh, sure." "Well, I was looking at your colors and you don't seem to have the right color of blue. [she picked up a bottle in front of me] This one's too light, I mean BYU has more of a royal blue to navy color. Do you think you could make it darker?" Why of course, lady. Nevermind the small children in line. I began mixing in purple and black, and finally came up with a stunning shade of gray at which point she confessed to being content with the original blue. I got to work.

"So, you're doing the block letters, right?" she clarified.
"Yes ma'am."
[pause...pause...paint over middle-aged hairy mole in the 90 degree heat...pause...]
"And are you going to outline it in white?"
"Yes ma'am."
[pause...]
"It's going to be a big game tonight!"
"Uh-huh." Lady, even if BYU is your alma mater, don't you think you're a little too old for this?
I began to paint "Go Cougars" as she struck up a conversation with another party-goer. As if it wasn't hard enough over a hairy mole in the sweaty heat, now she's moving her mouth???

I really should mention that this woman was not rude or unappreciative, I really don't believe she was trying to be difficult, but is it just me or do you think that a longing for a face paint job should dissipate somewhere between 7th grade and high school graduation?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tidbits From Dix: The Lamb & The Lion Series

In our extended family we currently have 3 nephews serving full time missions for our church in various parts of the world.  Given the beauty of technology, we are able to follow their experiences through weekly emails that are forwarded to us from their parents.  One nephew in Mexico recently recounted a phone call from one of his leaders who warned him to run for cover if he saw a helicopter hovering overhead.  Why?  "There was an accident with one of the circus cars and they are looking for a LION" on the loose.  My nephew and his companion ran for cover and survived without incident.  In response, my Dad drafted and sent the following:
I do not think the Missionary Handbook has a section on dealing with escaped lions so I will pass on some old wives tales about how to best deal with roaming big cats when confronted:


1) Roll over and play dead. (I am personally skeptical of this approach. That sounds to me like something a lion wrote just to save him a lot of effort.)
2) Look very content and purr in an EXTREMELY LOUD manner.
3) Do not act territorrial! (Of course this is my space but you are welcome to it.)
4) Act very territorial! (Of course this is my space but you are welcome to it.)
5) Try to look bigger! Have your companion climb up and stand on your shoulders. (You may use 'rock, paper, scissors' to determine who stands on whom.)
6) Look like a tree...(and if the lion uses you as one of his markers for his territory, don't drop your leaves.)
7) Pretend you are a veterinary dentist and show special interest in his teeth. ("You know you really should floss".)
8) Introduce yourself as 'Simba' and hum Lion King songs.
9) Try to interest the animal in the joys of vegetarianism.
~Love, Grandpa
He cracks himself up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Do You Like Me NOW?

When I was pregnant with Drew, like, REALLY pregnant and nearing the end, I had pretty much run out of things to wear.  One Sunday as I quickly eliminated one option after another, I finally ran across a pink number that I hadn't previously resorted to.  A stunt double for the county fair's canopy that draped over the pig exhibit, it was classed up with mother of pearl buttons and a label of "100% silk".  It wasn't pretty, but feeling frustrated and out of time, I exited the closet and asked Cory, "How does this look?"

His eyes darted left and right, no doubt in search of a machete to thrust his body upon to create a distraction, but finally met my gaze and shrugged.  "Seriously," I said, "tell me the truth.  I can take it."  "Well..." he stammered, "I mean...it looks BIG I guess."  I threw him out of the room and started to cry.  Poor guy never stood a chance. 

See, I didn't really want his opinion, I actually just wanted him to tell me I looked great, even if it was a lie.

Which brings me to my new blog header.  I would ask you what you think of it, but I don't really want to know.  All I really want to hear is, "Wow, I love that!  Who did it for you?"  And I would say, "Aly did!" and you'd ask, "How can I get me some of that?" and I'd say, "GO HERE."  Aly makes more food than she does blog headers, which is why I like her so much. It's one thing to be able to put fonts, colors and shapes together, but when you can also whip up a Peanut Butter Brownie Pie?  It's called, Are You Sure We Weren't Separated At Birth?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sometimes

Sometimes I can’t sleep.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep I go online and read blogs.

Sometimes I read something that gets me really fired up, which, incidentally, enhances the initial No Sleeping Problem. One thing leads to another and before you know it you’re signing up for something, typing in your credit card number and checking the box which says you agree to the Terms and Conditions (which for all you know says that you will never again use the words “bodily fluids” in mixed company but you’ll never know, because you never actually READ the Terms and Conditions) and agree to pay the $1 to find out exactly which pedophiles live in your neighborhood.

Sometimes this happens and when it does, the red flag at the credit card company goes up because it’s not used to seeing Vern charge things on her Visa at two o’clock in the morning. Wal Mart at 3pm? Safeway bakery at 6am? (That’s when the donuts are freshest!) Children’s Place 15 minutes before any baby shower? These are all patterns of behavior that my credit card company is accustomed to tracking. But the 2am thing to spy on all the creepsters in my neighborhood really threw it off its game and as a result, it declined my card.

Declined. DENIED. DO NOT PASS “GO”. DO NOT COLLECT $200.

It was just what I needed to feel resigned to going back to bed.

The next morning I woke up to my phone ringing at 7am.

It was Cory.

My life companion.

The one who learned the hard way that when a woman asks you how she looks wearing a pink tent when she is 19 months pregnant you never, EVER tell her the truth.

The one who crunches numbers for a living and checks our Visa statements online every day.

That guy.

He was calling from work. “Hi Honey. Hey, I was just looking at our bank statement - do you know anything about a one dollar charge to a DATING AND ESCORT SERVICE?”

I was awake now.

Someone had tried to mess with me.

Sometimes when you try to be a good guy and go in search of the bad guys, the bad guys try to weasel their way in and give you the finger. Guess what, bad guys? You lose. Even though it showed up on our statement, my credit card company flagged the transaction and sought our permission before allowing it to go through because it seemed suspicious. It wasn’t consistent with my history and as a result, the access to my integrity was vehemently denied.

Which just goes to show you.

Sometimes, the good guys win.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fascists, Michael Bolton & Inflatable Bananas

It’s been an eventful few days.  Thursday I was recruited by a former military man to teach English in Korea.  I met him while getting frozen yogurt.  One minute he was recommending I get the “Blueberry Tart” and before I knew it he had accused me of being a Christian fascist and threatened to blow himself up if Sarah Palin ever became President.  I was like, “Buddy, I’m just here for the blood orange and vanilla wafer swirl with coconut.”  He was like, “It’s a weeknight and you’re wearing a skirt, don’t screw with me,” to which I exhaled a huge sigh of relief because, FINALLY.  We were on the same page.

Friday we went to Chili’s.  I ate nachos.  Nachos rule.

Saturday morning I listened to this guy say, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”  We decided there was no time like the present to take that advice to heart, so we spent a glorious afternoon on the lake with some friends who have a boat.  We’ve decided we are very interested in making more friends with boats and are currently accepting applications.  Requirements:  You tow it to the lake, fill it with gas, supply it with ice cold drinks and haul our kids around on an inflatable banana and WE will bring the licorice.  Pretty much an ideal scenario for you.  (Did I mention that we share the licorice?)

The Word on the street is that Michael Bolton was golfing in our neighborhood today.  I’m not sure why he was here, but I’m also not sure how he ever got engaged to Nicollette Sheridan so I guess it’s par for the course.  (Ha!  Oh, COME ON.  Lighten up.)

What do you think, should I take the Korea job?

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm Not The Embassy Suites

I was listening to a radio discussion last week and their theory about how good looking people have it easier. They argued that they receive more jobs, get higher pay, and weasel their way out of more traffic tickets. (I wouldn’t know.) I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I also think that Pretty comes with consequences.

The thought hit me recently while I was watching Undercover Boss. The premise of this show is that a company big shot goes undercover at his own business to see how well things are really going. He poses as an entry level employee to work side by side with his own staff – all the while the staff is thinking they are being filmed for a documentary. The Top Dog wants to know, are policies running efficiently? Do we employ punks or quality people? Is morale good or bad? (Thus ruling out carnivals completely.) The most recent episode was about a hotel chain. While staying at one of his own establishments, The Boss grew disappointed that he was not provided with free coffee but was instead expected to pay for it at the front desk. (What a ripoff!) (I know how he feels. I’ve paid money, like REAL American dollars, to eat at Casa Bonita.)

What I realized while watching is that I think hotels are kind of like people – many will base their expectations on appearance. For example, I understand that when I go to a Motel 6 I want to keep the black light packed away. Kind of like Sean Penn – we say we want to know what he’s thinking, but deep down we know better.