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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Body Snatcher...

Jen isn't here today. Unbeknownst to her family and friends, she has been secretly replaced by a raging hormonal maniac we'll call Nej.

Innocently, Jen's poor children accepted a ride home from school with this monstrous creature, thinking it was their loving mother. At first things seemed fine, but then they got out their homework - and then they didn't "get it." Convinced that the homework struggle was a ploy meant to drive her over the edge, Nej jumped down the poor children's throats and wasn't very helpful. Used to a kind, non-hormonal mother who is generally unaffected by the hateful cycle of the moon, the children stared, and cowered at this obvious impostor.

She was completely unmoved.

Then came piano practice. Although their own mother is known to speak rather loudly and repeat words like "COUNT!" and "FINGERING!" the cowering children were ill-prepared for the likes of Nej. Once again Nej was convinced the children were feigning memory loss, and quickly the Jen-impostor took Frustration and Impatience to a whole new level. As the children nervously stumbled through their lessons, the growling beast of pull-your-hair-out-and-try-not-to-beat-them swelled and threatened inside of Nej, begging and pleading to be set free.

Enter husband. JEN'S husband. Used to a loving, caring wife of limitless patience, he thought nothing of waltzing past the creature Nej as she labored at the piano with one of the conspiring children, and set right to fixing himself a bite to eat.

At 4:30.

Right before Nej would have started fixing dinner. I use the term "would have" because Nej didn't actually have ANY plans for dinner, and should have been glad the husband was fending for himself. But that is not Nej's way.

Instead Nej swooped into the kitchen, and descended on poor husband, accusing him of thoughtlessly stuffing his face within moments of dinner time. Statements like "But I've been working all day," and "I'm really hungry" only fanned the flames of Nej's irritation, until she had launched into a ten minute tirade on why eating at 4:30 was the most low-down, disrespectful, irritating thing a husband could do to his poor, abused, over-worked wife.

Husband slinked away (sandwich in hand) and escaped to the gym before another lecture could begin. Unfortunately, this left Nej with the children. Alone. With an hour and a half to kill before they were to depart to a Cub Scout meeting. Nej spent the time sitting on the couch eyeing the children suspiciously - waiting for them to make a wrong move so she could pounce. At one time, all three of the poor, poor, boys were standing in corners simultaneously.

There's no telling how this story might have ended if it hadn't been for the highly developed olfactory senses of Nej-like creatures. Knowing a CS meeting just might push her over the edge, Nej was explaining to the Den Leader that she'd prefer to "watch the children" when she caught a whiff of something on the Den Leader's breath. Chocolate. Practically attacking Jen's poor unsuspecting friend, she secured the necessary information - the visiting speaker had brought Peanut M&M's. And Reese's Pieces.

Within a few minutes, a handful of the chocolate remedy was shamelessly secured. Three handfuls later, the beast Nej was soothed, and becoming almost Jen-like. By the time the meeting was over Nej was feeling almost relaxed. Another handful of M&M's, plus the remains of the Reese's Pieces, and the husband and children began to breath easier, with hopes of living until their patient mother's safe return.

When this blessed, and much looked for event will take place, no one knows, but for the sake of the children (and husband) I hope it's sooner rather than later. And in the meantime - let's keep the chocolate coming.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm Not Complaining, I'm Fantasizing

A private bathroom, and a walk in closet. I have no doubt that these two little things would change my world. Most of you have heard me complain about sharing one bathroom with five other people, so I won't bore you with those details here. Instead, I'll just tell you all the wonderful things that would happen if I had my own bathroom. And walk-in closet.

First, the bathroom:

1. It would be connected to my bedroom (as opposed to being on a separate floor of the house).

2. Thanks to number one, that would mean I'd have TWO locking doors between myself and a little privacy. I seriously fantasize about this. Never again would my bathing be interrupted by the family network of bowel movements.

3. There would be room for all MY stuff - and I wouldn't be constantly assaulted by everyone else's. And my boys wouldn't be allowed to pee in my toilet EVER.

4. I could have my own towel. And it could have it's own hook. And no one would ever use or abuse it, because of all the locks I would put on the door to ward off potential pee-ers.

5. My jewelry wouldn't be strewn between my upstairs bedroom where I dress, and my downstairs bathroom where I get ready. Seriously. This is getting so old.

6. If I ever were to wake up in the middle of the night needing to use the toilet (which never happens), it would be right there.

7. When plagued by the stomach flu, I would actually be able to lay in bed AND have close proximity to a flushing receptacle. I'm telling all of you with "attached baths" - you don't know how good you have it.

On to the walk-in closet:

1. It would have a door.

2. It would have shelves, hanging rods, and a place for my shoes.

3. If I didn't feel like using the benefits in number three, it wouldn't matter because of number one.

4. It would have a light, so I would no longer have to sneak around undressing in the dark - which happens three hundred forty-nine days a year because of my husband's need for a full eight hours rest. Instead, I would simply walk in to my closet, shut the door, turn on the light, and be able to see where I was actually putting my clothes, which would definitely up the chances that they'd go somewhere besides the floor.

Again, those of you currently blessed with these two modern marvels should be thankful. In fact, you should all get down on your knees right now, and show your gratitude for the blessings of modern architecture, because I fear you may be taking these things totally for granted.

I, on the other hand, will continue to attempt to remind myself that I really am grateful I at least have indoor plumbing, and that I wasn't born in China, because (in the bathroom department anyway) those really would both be way worse. And the rest of the time I'll just be fantasizing about the locks I'd put on my bathroom door, and the full closet wall dedicated to my shoes. It really would be a beautiful thing.

*sigh*

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sisters, I Have Sinned

We had a Relief Society sleep over this weekend. For those of you who don't know, the Relief Society is the women's group at our church. It was fun, and I enjoyed myself, but it was rather disconcerting to learn something critical about my personal salvation. I think I'm going to Hell. Maybe not "Outer Darkness" Hell, but definitely someone as shallow as me doesn't have much chance at Celestial Glory. This depressing revelation presented itself the moment I walked in the door - starved and ready to eat - and discovered soup was on the menu. Healthy soup, to be exact.

I looked for the chips and cheesy-bean dip we always have at our "unofficial" girl's nights - nothing. I looked for cookies, cake, brownies, or any other fattening, desserty type foods - again, nothing. I finally went as far as asking very nonchalantly if I should be "saving room for desert." The answer - THERE ISN'T ANY. I know. Whoever heard of a girls' night without dessert?! And then I learned the cold, hard, truth.

I was at a HEALTH FOOD sleep over. We were "eating light." And as my subconcious mind screamed "NOOOOOOOoooooo!!!!!!!" I was suddenly faced with the fact that what I've always suspected, but never truly admitted about myself is true - I was there for the food. I'd thought all day about the food, and even ran possible menu items through my head as I starved myself at lunchtime to justify the binging I was positive would happen at the sleep over. It was depressing.

And then, just as I'd hit a junk-food low at the prospect of having nothing but vegetable soup to quench my cravings, I realized the eternal perspective of my situation. Surely, anyone who attends a spiritual Relief Society retreat just for the food is going to Hell. All through dinner, there I was thinking about beanie weenies. The get-to-know-you game was witnessed through a sugar-crazed haze. Finally, during the big activity I broke down and asked if there wasn't some kind of chips in the house. I know, I'm totally shameless. But I was desperate! It was so bad I was almost ready to steal my mother's car and drive to the nearest Taco Bell. Instead I had to make due with those veggie rice chips from Costco. Yes, you read correctly, both "veggie" and "rice" came before "chips".

So sad.

And then came breakfast. I would tell you how it consisted of english muffins and fresh fruit (sans whipped cream OR sugar), but it would just be too painful to talk about it. Or how all the other women raved over the strawberries, grapes, and melons, while I sat dejected, trying to imagine there was sugar on my strawberry, while taking what comfort I could from my butter-drenched muffin.

I'm so ashamed. (And apparently, so shallow). But I want to proclaim to all of Blogland that as of this moment, I am going to repent of my obsession with fattening, sugary, deep fried snacks at Relief Society functions, and become more like all the rest of you. I too will be content with the fun games, good company, and barrels of laughter provided by my fellow sisters, and cease to allow health food to come between me and a good time.

And then I'll start planning a girls' night of my own...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

VL Club Part Two:

***In case the title didn't clue you in, this the second installment of my first kiss story. To begin at the beginning, start here.***

Okay, so we'll call him "Phil". (This actually isn't the first post about Phil. Remember the Valentine's Day disaster? Same guy. Except that post (despite a VERY trunkated version of last night's info) was about the end of our relationship, while this is about the beginning. Totally different vibe here. Anyhow).

After two years of playing roughly twelve hours of pick-up basketball a week with 99% male coeds, I had never once been asked out, asked for my number, or even spoken to much - unless it was words like "Ball!" or "Shoot!" Then I go home for Christmas, change my buddy-stamp for an I-want-to-date-you-stamp, and bingo. Within the first week Phil stops me after a hot and sweaty night of basketball (I'm sure I was looking lovely) and asks for my phone number.

I'm sure I was very calm, cool, and collected on the outside, but inside I was doing some kind of primitive victory-freak-out. And Phil was pretty cute too. And six foot five. And a really good basketball player.

So then he called me, and we went to an on-campus dance. And then he called me again and took me night skiing at good old Kelly's Canyon. Poor guy - my court skills gave him the impression I was athletic. It was my second time on the slopes, and he took me to the top. Let's just say it was a really long way down. Yet he still continued to call. And we kept going out on cheesy little dates, and hanging out together.

But there was no kissing. Hand holding - yes, but smooches - zero. Why, you ask? What was wrong with him/me/us? He found out I'd never been kissed and felt GUILTY taking that away from me!!! Here I was trying to get rid of my VL status like it was radio active, and he was all "That's so special. Your first kiss should be really meaningful."

Bleck. But then I put that scheming little brain of mine to work and set about getting what I wanted...

Phil took astronomy. What could be more natural than for me to go star gazing with him? So (at my request) we made a date, and set out for the baseball fields one frigid, February night.

Did I mention it was cold? We're talking Rexburg cold here - like below-zero-with-that-wonderful-blowing-wind kind of cold. Other than that, however, the situation was prime. Beautiful sky, beautiful stars, and me wanting a beautiful kiss. My brother had even called to coach me on how to secure this kiss. He informed me that all I had to do was stare into his eyes... and then look at his lips. I was armed and dangerous, and Phil didn't stand a chance.

But it took him a really long time to believe he was worthy to kiss a VL member. Seriously. He talked about the honor for like ten minutes. And all the time my poor little kiss-starved lips were growing colder, and colder.

Then finally, he stopped talking. (As much). I was staring. We were locked in a tight, kiss-me-baby embrace. Orion and his belt were shining down, illuminating the utter romance of the moment. My neck was about to break from staring straight up at his 6'5-ishness. And then he leaned down, and I stretched up, and our lips met...

Have you ever tried to talk in Rexburg cold? Did you happen to notice how it actually gets difficult to form your words because as your lips begin to freeze off your face they don't work so well? Yeah. Frozen lips do nothing for kissing. My lips were so cold it felt like they'd been shot with novocain and I was chewing on them to see if there was any feeling coming back. And his weren't any better. And his nose was REALLY cold.

And not realizing the full impact our frozen lips were having on our kissing experience I began to panic, sure that I must be the world's worst kisser ever. No matter how hard I tried to make my lips do something besides act like two blocks of wood, they just wouldn't work. I was so depressed. I had been so positive I'd be a great kisser - and even more positive I'd love kissing - and instead, I was a failure.

What a let down.

So we went back to my apartment. And talked. And my lips thawed out. And then... The dream came back alive, baby! Those first kisses might have been like making out with a side of frozen beef, but once I got warmed up it was all good. And don't worry Mom, Phil had kissing rules. As evidenced by his chivalrous attitude toward my VL status, he was very pure. (But he was still a great kisser).

So the moral of the story is, if you live in Rexburg and are plotting your first kiss, plan for summer. I hear the baseball fields are beautiful that time of year.

How I Lost My Membership in the Ricks College VL Club

So Crash wants first kiss stories. I was going to attempt to put it in her comment box, but I quickly realized such limitations would never allow me to do it justice. Instead, I decided to treat you all to the full meal deal here on my blog. Lucky you.

First off, I would just like to say that my first kiss did not happen before I was sixteen. Second off, I would like to add that it didn't happen before I graduated from high school. To be brutally honest, it ALMOST didn't happen before I graduated from Ricks College.

I know. I attended Dateland America for five semesters, and didn't get kissed until half way through the last one. No innocent pecks. No spin the bottle. Not a single night of NICMO. (For those of you that didn't attend BYU-something-or-other, that stands for non-committal-makeout)(Can you believe I missed out on that???)

I would also like to say, that this not-kissing business was NOT because I was against kissing. It is also not because I had no opportunities. Even as far back as high school, there were definitely boys who would have kissed me - I just didn't want to kiss any of them. The boys I actually would have considered never offered. Go figure.

Then I got to Ricks and found out there was a club for people like me. The Virgin Lips Club. And although I was in pretty good company, I was not a proud member. At any time I would have been very happy to hand in my VL status for a little kissing action, but...

I was too chicken. This is what happens to girls who go that long without being kissed. We begin to wear a stamp on our forehead visible only to eligible members of the opposite sex, that says "Kiss you? No I don't want to kiss you! I mean, not unless you want to kiss me first, which probably won't happen since you'll NEVER KNOW I actually have a major crush on you, because I am so terrified you'll know I really do want to kiss you (or even just date you) that I will act as if I am the world's best buddy instead."

Whatever we put out there truly is what the world sees. And I will prove that point.

I went along like this for four semesters. I lived in three different apartments. I met LOTS of people, got set up on several dates, and was asked out a grand total of one time. I was the perennial buddy. I was "one of the guys". Other girls were jealous of all my "guy friends".

And all because of that stupid, invisible stamp.

And then came my final semester at Ricks. Rather than graduate in four semesters, I saved Math 101 (because I need serious time and help when it comes to math), Fit For Life (because I was avoiding the mandatory running involved), and FA 100 (because I'm a huge procrastinator) for one last semester. Besides that, I had started Ricks in a winter semester, and wasn't really ready to leave the fun behind mid-year.

That Christmas, while my bosom-buddy/roommate/niece (I know, it's weird) Kelly and I were home with the fam, we decided to change our stamps. We adopted a new motto: "Take Rexburg By Storm" (which was actually code for "Take Rexburg's Male Population By Storm").

And we did.

Rather than hiding from prospective flirtations, we left the apartment each day in search of male attention. We were available, and wanted the world to know. Eye contact was implemented, smiles were cast, and our stamps changed to "Date Me!" And within the first week I gave out my first phone number EVER.

Coincidence? I think not.

Who was he? Is he the one that broke the evil non-kissing spell? I'd love to tell you now, but it's getting late (and this post is getting REALLY long), so this story is going to have to be

To Be Continued...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Dinner Dilema Solved (for one night, anyway)

I am so proud. Last night, I actually remembered to take meat out of the freezer so we could have a nice, easy, throw-it-in-the-oven Sunday dinner. In fact, I was so proud of myself I even made a cake just so I could really feel that June Cleaver feeling. (But I didn't wear pearls. Or even fake ones. I was, however, still in my Sunday clothes, does that count? Dang! I just realized I forgot the apron! Maybe next time...)

Anyhow, I am seriously bad at the whole plan-dinner-ahead thing. Yes Mother, we do have dinner - it's just generally more of a last minute affair, if you know what I mean. This is really rather silly when you think about it, because planning ahead would be so much easier. And things like roasts, and crock pot meals are so convenient. Just throw them in, go about your business, and be around later when it's time to eat.

But I always forget to take the meat out of the freezer. And inevitably, if I buy a nice roast and throw it in the fridge because I think I have a day to stay home and make it, something unexpected comes up (like work - one of the few drawbacks of subbing) and the meat goes uncooked. Then, still hopeful I'll get a chance to throw it in before it expires, I optimistically refuse to relegate it to the roast cemetery otherwise known as my freezer.

And then my days are contrarily plagued by unexpected doctor visits, morning calls to work, and other disruptive things, and the roast gets wasted.

Then there are the times I simply forget I bought it, and it wastes away in the fridge for no good reason whatsoever. So generally, we eat other, less June-Cleaverish kinds of food. Like bean and cheese burritos (yes they're [usually] homemade), chili and cheese fries, spaghetti, and chicken soup (because I can boil chicken when it's frozen).

The other night, however, I was struck with one of those rare dinner-inspirations. Desperate for something to throw together with only a half hour till the ravenous children would begin to tear my house apart in the throes of starvation, I looked in the freezer to see what I could come up with.

Aha! I had a few remaining pieces of boneless chicken (which also doesn't require thawing), and some frozen stir fry veggies. The obvious choice - stir fry.

Except my kids don't really like stir fry. They like the chicken, and one or two of the veggies, but the rice kills it.

And then I had my grand inspiration. I cooked my chicken, added the veggies, made up some sauce, and... threw it over linguine.

A-La-Kung Foo Panda Noodles!

They loved it. It was a HUGE hit. And seriously - who doesn't like linguine? Or Kung Foo Panda? Putting those two things together is a major win-win situation any way you cut it.

So next time you're having creative-dinner fatigue, reach for the linguine, and treat the fam to some good old American/Italian/Chinese food. Your family will thank you. (And then you can thank me).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Why I Feel Like A Frog

As many of you know, just before Christmas we found out my mom has breast cancer. But they said it was small, and they'd probably just have to do a simple lumpectomy and possibly radiation. Simple enough - no freak out required. So they did the lumpectomy.

Then, they said they needed to go back in, because there was a little more they needed to get...but it should be simple, although she'd for sure need radiation.

Then, after they went in to finish the "simple" job, they said it was way bigger than they thought. Now she'll need a mastectomy. And radiation. And probably chemo. The surgery is scheduled for the 26th. I can't wait to hear what they have to say when it's over.

How am I doing? I feel like a frog in a pot of water that's gradually being heated up. And I have to admit that after this last piece of news I'm beginning to notice the heat - and I'm hoping (and praying) it doesn't get any hotter. It's hot enough, believe me. Which brings me to my next thought:

Have you ever really thought about food? (I know, shocker that I would think about food at a time like this). Seriously though, have you ever thought about what a huge roll it plays in our lives? Just the other day, Kelly and I were discussing family holidays. She knows someone who has these events catered, rather than making food the old fashioned way. I made the comment that if they can afford it, why not? Kelly disagreed. In light of recent events, I am changing positions. Food matters. A lot.

Just take a minute and think about the food in your house. What you make, how you make it, what recipes you use, what you do (or don't) know about cooking/baking, and what kind of associations you have with different comfort foods. Where does the foundation for your foodishness come from? What makes you the way you are? What determines what makes a good Thanksgiving dinner, or whether you have turkey, ham, or pork on Christmas?

Your mother. And her mother. And maybe your mother-in-law. And every woman who went before you in your family. Through the generations, the food your family consumes has been handed down, tweaked, added to and subtracted from, by each generation of women. The changes came from their lifestyles, tastes, talents, and available technology, and you are the next step in that line. As women, we shape the food tastes, habits, and healthiness of our growing families, and that is a really big job. Someday they will leave and take our foodisms - tweaked accordingly - with them.

I suppose what made me think of this is that food is my mom's thing. In a way, cooking/baking is what defines my mom. Maybe I should say "really good food" is what defines her. And thankfully, she has passed at least a little of that on to all of us, and given us something that we can contribute to our families. (Even if we don't necessarily contribute it as often, or as punctually as she does... It still counts, right? I mean, we don't ALWAYS need a vegetable to be carrying on the family tradition, right Mom?)

Anyway, it just got me thinking - what if my mom hadn't been so into food? What if we'd catered Christmas instead of spending all those hours learning how to make my grandpa's stuffing? (Which is AMAZINGLY good, by the way). What if we'd never started making that rainbow jello salad (that takes a hundred years, but is sooo worth it)? What if Mom's rolls weren't a staple ingredient at every family get together (including anytime anyone shows up in her kitchen for anything)? What if Mom didn't make EVERYONE'S birthday cakes? (Yes, I know how lucky I am).

And what do all of these things represent to all of us? Family. Togetherness. Love. Something vital would be missing from all of our lives if Mom hadn't taken food so seriously. If you are what you eat, than we're all the embodiment of love, because that's the main ingredient in Mom's kitchen.

So today I realized how grateful I am that my family has established food traditions. I love that we all use the same cake recipes. I love that we have Afton's Boiled Raisin Cookie recipe. (I love that it makes so many cookies). I love that we all assimilated Mom's bread making skills from spending so much time hanging out in the kitchen with her. (Our wards are thankful for this too). And I love that we do pork roast for Christmas, because turkey really isn't my thing - and pork roast really is. Who knows? I might never have thought of such a thing if my mother hadn't shown me the way.

Basically what I'm saying is this - I bet I am in some way reminded of my mother every time I prepare a meal. Right now she lives right up the road from me, and I often call her for advice, recipes, or ideas. It's almost like she's a part of my kitchen-consciousness. And I'm glad. I'm glad she's so close, I'm glad she's contributed so much, and I'm glad that she is a part of my life every single day whether I see her or not. Her prognosis is actually quite good, and I expect to have her (and her food) around for many more years. And yes, someday that will inevitably change, so I'm glad that today I had this revelation. One way or another, my mother will always be in the kitchen with me, so yes, my position has changed. Food matters. A lot. (Thanks Mom).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Going Against All My Principles Because the World Needs To Know

So in case you missed the memo, I HATE CRAFTING. Notice, however that I didn't say I hate "crafts" - just the act of making them. Thanks to a previous post on this topic, I am also relieved to find myself in good company on this one.

Now, while I don't necessarily hate crafts, I must admit that I tend not to be too crazy about anything that looks like someone made it at their kitchen table with a glue gun. Or, anything that screams out "I'M CUTE!" These kind of crafts do absolutely nothing for me. And frankly, even when I've ventured into the intimidating world of "Craft Fairs" I still don't find too many things that suit my taste.

But then sometimes you find something really, super, cool.

That someone made.

Around their kitchen table with a glue gun.

And occasionally, when the stars align and universe sings, and you observe a comet streaking past a total solar eclipse, you find yourself related to one of these glue-gun-geniuses (even if it's only by marriage), whom you realize you've been failing to fully appreciate once you find the online site where they sell their stuff.

And then you feel compelled to go straight to your blog, and tell the world. Because they need to know. So that's what I'm doing. (*Surprise* Tia!)

Now yes, I was aware of some impressive creations from this individual. I have even told others about her talent, and attempted to explain how cool the few things I've seen are. But I had no idea, until I went here, that she was So. Incredibly. Awesome.

Seriously. The creator is my niece-by-marriage Tia Valentine, who is an extremely cool girl, and the name of her boutique-y stuff is Urban Karma. And can I just say that I want to buy one of her amazing signs for Little Miss Two sooooo bad!

So, considering how anti-homemade-craft I am, I figure anything that impresses me this much should be shared with the world. So here you go. Link yourself on over, drool on your keyboard while you check out her stuff, make a selection/wish-list, and then get back over here and let Tia know how cool you think she and her glue gun really are, since there's no place on her craft site for comments.

I can't believe I'm pushing a craft on my blog. The world may end tomorrow. But won't this be a nice surprise for Tia, who has absolutely no idea I just found her craft site and decided she deserves a little attention for being cooler than the average crafter?

(And can you imagine what her scrapbooks must look like? Even I might craft if I could achieve these kinds of results!)

(Oh yes, and please feel free to contact Tia-maker-of-awesome-crafts at valentine@urban-karma.com and order something. Or tell her she's amazing. Or refer her to your friends, because they deserve to know. You can thank me for sending you her way later).

(So did you go there yet? Can you believe she makes that stuff? Out of her own head? Just thinking about trying to come up with anything half that cool makes me tired. Hey! Maybe she'd do some kind of giveaway on my blog for my next limerick contest! I know, I know, earning the title of "The World's Greatest Limerick Writer Ever" is already a HUGE distinction, but there's nothing like taking things up a notch... Feedback people, I need feedback!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Boys Will Be Boys

If a little boy and his baby sister (or brother) were being raised on an island by and old woman, how old would the little boy be before he began sitting on his smaller sibling to repeatedly jab his index finger into his/her chest?

Just wondering.

You can see here how I have factored in a care giver that would in no way pass on knowledge of such torture. In fact, since said island is also void of any other humans/television/contact-with-outside-world, I have removed any and all sources for sibling torture information.

And yet, you can see that I am still banking on the fact that it will happen. Eventually. Probably sooner rather than later. Why is this?

I distinctly remember the infamous chest-poking and other (MANY other) tortures inflicted on me by my older brother. Having my nose stuck in his smelly armpit, being exposed to extremely harmful bodily gases at point-blank range, and other worse (MUCH worse) tortures I will save for another post. (This particular brother was so creative in his sibling-torture methods, it will require a separate post to truly appreciate his mastery of this male art).

The inspiration for this post? I just watched my nice little five year old sit on Little Miss Two's stomach, and poke her repeatedly in the chest. This is obviously a genetically hardwired behavior, and it's not the only one either. Take sound effects for instance. Boys are practically born making sound affects. I remember being completely awed by the explosion noises my nephews (who are only a few years younger than me) could make when we were kids. When no one was around, I'd actually practice just to see if I could figure out how to make them myself, and I couldn't do it. Now I sit around and continue to be amazed by my own three boys.

Seriously. Five year old males are better than a sound stage when it comes to Marshall arts or laser gun wars. Little Miss Two makes her feeble attempts at gun sounds and things, but her chromosomes are clearly not designed for convincing noises. Sound affects are not part of female genetic make-up.

The female gift is bossing.

Am I the only one who's noticed this? By the time she was old enough to walk, my girl child could put her hand on her hip and sass with the best of them. She lives for telling people what to do. It's like I have an echo. As soon as someone's in trouble there she is relishing every last chastisement, and doing her best to repeat it all word for word, and gesture for gesture. And if you're smaller (or even just barely bigger) than Little Miss Two, watch out. She will be telling you where to go, and how to get there. And you will be blamed for everything not right in the universe. And if you're around during the prayer, she will have her eagle eyes peeled to catch the slightest break in proper-praying-posture. (Actually, no one - regardless of size - is exempt from this last one).

After watching the scores of children around me (and remembering being one myself) I have come to the conclusion that these things are universally so. And while there are always exceptions to every rule, for the most part I stand by my theory. Boys will be boys, and girls will be bossy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

I have a confession. I'm reading.

I know, I know, I should be doing laundry, dishes, the vacuuming, family history, or any number of other, more worthwhile pursuits - yet here I sit, completely ensconced in the throes of a novel.

I didn't mean to do it, I swear. I went to work this morning to sub for the digital communications teacher (i.e. extremely boring and laid-back day), and innocently went in search of a book to read. I was looking for my usual fare, which would be anything I can a. finish reading during six periods of school, or b. something that's good enough to read, but just barely. That way it won't hinder my abilities to feed my family and assure they have clean underwear.

And then I succumbed to the dark side. As I was rifling through a fellow teacher's plethora of books, I had the misfortune to come across Bresingr, aka the third book in the Eragon series. I tried not to take it, truly I did, but it just sort of jumped into my hands.

All 748 pages of it.

And so here I sit - worthless to my children, deaf and dumb to my husband (who finally gave up and went to bed), reading my book. So don't expect to hear from me this weekend, because I'm also worthless to blogland. The friend I borrowed the book from needs it for students on Monday, so unfortunately (imagine that spoken with COMPLETE sincerity) I pretty much need to read it non-stop in order to ensure its prompt return. True, I'm already half-way through, but what if there was an emergency and I had to take several hours off from reading time?

No, I am all about getting the job done, and so I read. Now stop interrupting me - I have a book to finish.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Day I Almost Died (of both mortal peril and humiliation)

I almost died in a freak accident once. Seriously. And it was VERY freaky, let me tell you. The funny thing about it, is that besides being a near-death experience, it also falls into the "most humiliating" category as well - which is close to, but not exactly the same as the "most embarrassing" category.

It happened back when I was a young, know-nothing newlywed. We moved into the second story of an old Victorian home/turned apartment building. Ironically, although I was over three hundred miles from where I grew up, there was someone previously from my home ward (church) living on the same block. We'll call him "Raul". Raul was from another country, and had a strong accent. He'd also left his family to live an "alternative lifestyle" and was living with his significant other, working as an artist of fine (and VERY strange) paintings in a similar Victorian three houses down, on the other side of the street. We didn't talk much, but I often saw him trotting around in his cut-off jeans and clogs. Typically with two different, multi-colored socks. He was a character, but an extremely nice person.

One day, I came home in the middle of the afternoon to find I didn't have my house keys. Normally, the outside door was locked, but by some stroke of luck someone had left it open. I went inside even though I didn't have my apartment key, and decided I'd just hang out till Rusty came home.

But then I went upstairs. As I went to sit on the window seat overlooking the veranda porch roof, I got an idea. That porch roof wrapped right around to our window! AND, our window was open because we had this big, old air conditioning unit my brother had loaned us sticking out of it. I could just walk around the roof to our window and be home-sweet-home.

Did I mention they'd been re-roofing the porch that week? Yep, it was a nice, shiny, blue metal roof I stepped out on in my flip flops and nylon shorts. As I made my way around, I noticed my flip flops didn't provide much traction, so I took them off. That was fine at first, but by the time I got to my window my feet were starting to sweat from the warmth of the roof. Sweaty feet + metal roofing = not-so-good. Just so you know. But I'd made it, and there was my window. All I had to do was open it up and climb inside. I was a genius.

So I grabbed onto the window and lifted it up. But there was a problem.

It seems the roofers had needed to take away the board supporting our air conditioning unit to put on the new roof, meaning the window was the only thing holding it in place. Meaning, as soon as I opened the window the huge, giant, so-heavy-my-very-buff-hubby-could-barely-move-it-alone, borrowed, air conditioning unit started to fall.

It was reflex. I obviously wasn't thinking. I reached down and grabbed a hold of the stupid thing. And then a strange and unusual phenomenon occurred. One moment I was standing behind the it, and the next moment my feet flew out from under me and I was lying underneath it holding it above my head with my palms up.

Did I mention how heavy it was?

And can I draw your attention back to the fact that I was lying on a hot metal roof in NYLON shorts? Oooo, how about the fact that directly beneath me was a flight of cement steps? Did I mention that?

And I was sliding. And not only would I land on those steps, but the huge, giant, oh-so-heavy, ac unit would land on top of me. I was going to die. (or be seriously maimed for life)

In my desperation, I happened to notice that the new roofing had left a small gap between the roof and the siding. In that gap there was a rusty old nail sticking up.

I hooked my big toe around it. (Thank heavens I'd taken my flip flops off, or I might not be here to tell you this hair-raising tale).

Momentarily I was saved, but the air conditioning unit was so heavy I knew I couldn't last too long. What to do? Try to move? Nope. Every time I shifted I started sliding again, and I knew that if I slid too far the angle would be wrong and the nail wouldn't stop me anymore. Wait for Rusty? Impossible. My arms were already shaking from the strain of the ac unit, and it would be at least an hour before he came home. I had only one option left.

I would have to yell for help.

Can I just say that this was one of the hardest things I have EVER done? I did not live in a nice neighborhood. I felt like an absolute fool, and I kept thinking of all those stories about city people who ignore cries for help. But I also knew I was about to die, so finally I started yelling.

The ridiculous sound of my voice screaming "HELLLLPPPPPPP" will forever remain in my memory. When I modified it to "I'M GOING TO DIE IF SOMEONE DOESN'T HELP ME" I knew I was truly desperate.

And then I remembered Raul. Who was always home. So I started screaming "RAUL!!! RAUL!!! IT'S JENNY VALENTINE! I'M STUCK ON THE ROOF! I'M GOING TO DIE! HELP ME PLEEEEEEASE!!!!!" (Isn't it nice that I had the chance to give my identity to the world in my moment of desperation/humiliation?)

Within moments I heard the most beautiful sound in the world. It was Raul's clogs clomping down the street as he yelled in his weird accent, "Jenny?! Jenny Vahlenteen? Wehr ah yooo? It's Raul! I'm cooming, I'm cooming!"

To this day, I have never experienced relief like I felt at that moment. It sometimes makes me emotional when I think of how lucky/blessed I was that Raul lived down the street. Within moments he (and an entire entourage of other interesting individuals who lived in his house) were with in sight, running down the street. Someone grabbed a ladder from somewhere, while I yelled instructions to Raul on how to get to me. In no time at all he was out there on the roof (barefoot) hefting the ac unit while some stranger on a ladder made sure I didn't fall as I stood up. It was a beautiful thing.

I don't know if anyone can really appreciate what this experience was like for me, but it really gave me some perspective. Sometimes we do dumb things. The Lord can't stop us from doing them, but he can send his angels to help us make it through by prompting us to do things like take off our flip flops, providing old rusty nails, and old friends.

And I would also like to say that I'm really happy to be here, because seriously - I almost died that day.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love Ya, Tomorrow

If you've come to see the results of the naming contest, go here. If not, don't go anywhere. Until you come to the comment form. Once there, leave a word or two describing my awesomeness, and then you are free to go. And please keep your hands and arms inside at all times. Thank you.

And now we return to normal programing.

Can I just say how excited I am about tomorrow? I may even take the advice I always give my children when they're waiting for something exciting to happen, and go to bed super early so morning can come even sooner. (And after my holiday hours, it's going to seem awfully early, believe me).

And what is it I'm so excited about? What wonderful, glorious thing happens tomorrow? (As if every mother out there doesn't already know EXACTLY what I'm referring to) TOMORROW THEY GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!

And I don't mean the neighbors.

I mean them. The ones currently wrestling all over my house (because that's what boys do), teasing their sister (because they do that too), and being bored and hungry the rest of the time.

It was so much fun having them home that first unexpected week when we had the snow days. It was really quite pleasant having them around as Christmas drew closer. Christmas day, I even managed to enjoy them between Nerf gun blasts and nose blowing. The next few days were a blur of messes, and toys, and cold-recovery, but they weren't so bad. As we've drawn closer to tomorrow, however, things have begun to go south.

They're wrestling more. They're teasing more. And they are now the boredest, hungriest kids in the entire universe. (And yes, I know 'boredest' isn't an actual word. Whatever.) I guess you could say that their bored little minds are ready for a little stretching.

And while I'm on the subject of it, can I take a moment to say "God bless elementary teachers"? Seriously. Any woman willing to sacrifice every ounce of energy (both physical AND mental) to teach children and decorate bulletin boards is a saint. Do any of you know what that job is like?

Well, let me tell you. As you know, I am a substitute teacher. I've subbed in elementary school. The children are both adorable AND adoring, but it is constant interaction the entire day. Like every second of every minute. (Well, there was that time I sent the second graders out to recess and took a nice long break until some adult knocked on the door and informed me that my door was locked, and the children had been standing outside for at least ten minutes. I was wondering when their recess was supposed to be over...)

I love subbing in high school. I enjoy subbing in middle school. I will (when absolutely necessary) sub in the sixth grade. Anything below that - forget it. Just looking at those bulletinboards gives me a craft-headache. I can't imagine having to decorate them (and the entire room) for every changing season, and every single holiday. When I get off work from a nice cushy day telling high schoolers to be quiet and do their work, I go to my kids' school to pick them up. Just watching the adults wrangle the children waiting for their parents gives me a headache.

And then I think, "Those amazing women have been doing this ALL DAY LONG. And every day for who knows how long."

And what's even more amazing? They like it. I think some of them even like the decorating/bulletin board thing.

So God bless the teachers, every one. Thank you for all you do. For teaching and mediating, disciplining and tolerating, liking and even loving my children. Mothers every where would be a little more insane without you - not to mention what you're doing for my children and their little minds. I know that I personally, would be lost without you.

And YAY!!! for tomorrow! I may even miss them in my quiet house. Well, maybe not. I'll love them the whole time they're gone, however, and be thrilled to see them when they get home. But the hours in between going and coming are mine. I may even nap. It'll be beautiful.

And may all your tomorrow's be as quiet and peaceful as mine.

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe - I Couldn't Wait, So Here We Go...

I know I said Sunday night, but I just couldn't wait any longer. I had to pick a name. The suspense (and indecision) were KILLING me. So here you go:

And the winner is......

Well, actually I didn't just "pick" a name. I couldn't decide. There were so many good ones that it began to overwhelm my indecisive nature, and I started to feel like I was in Baskin Robbins trying to choose a flavor. So I devised a plan.

At the actual Patch, whenever a new doll is born (grown? picked? de-lettuced?) they let the visitors name them, and sometimes take the two names from different people. So I decided that rather than just pick a name, I would take all the names I liked, first and middle, and write them individually on little pieces of paper, and then have Meara draw two names out of a hat. Here are the names that made the first cut:

Tallula, Diamond, Desiree, Princess, Priss, Daisy, Sky, and Tinsle.

But before I tell you the name, I have to answer Pat's question. Apparently, she's mistaken this blog for the Paul Harvey Show, and thinks I should tell "the rest of the story," aka, how my financially challenged parents managed to secure the doll, and what body parts they had to sell to do so. My mother, it turns out, agrees with her. She read Pat's comment and called me right up to give me the details, which I'll now pass on to you.

December, 1984. As previously mentioned (and already known by everyone anyway) EVERY parent with female offspring under twelve was desperate for a Cabbage Patch Kid doll. According to my mother, it wasn't that they were initially that expensive - $19.95, or something like that - it was that they were so unavailable. People who managed to secure one (or more) at regular price were turning around and making a bundle. Or acquiring new body parts. (So the legend goes...)

Well, it turns out my dad's ex-wife - who consequently wasn't/isn't that fond of my mother, OR my dad - was at some toy warehouse (don't ask me why), saw three Cabbage Patch dolls (there were three of us girls) and was apparently in an extremely charitable mood, because she called my mother to see if she was interested in buying them.

Who knew??

So I owe thanks to my dad's ex-wife for the Cabbage Patch doll my girl-child is currently loving and adoring. My own mother hadn't even considered the possibility of trying to locate and pay who-knows-what for one. The three found at the warehouse were at the regular retail price, so they really didn't cost my parents much at all.

(Sorry Pat, you were probably hoping for a little more sacrifice, starvation, or de-limbing than that. I do hate to disappoint - frankly, I'm a little disappointed myself, to tell you the truth. My years of guilt seem so unnecessary now).

And now, The Name:

(Drum roll, please)

"Desiree Sky"

Isn't that great?! I admit we also drew the name Sky Princess, but it seemed just a bit too regal, so I let Meara try again. And ironically, those were both names submitted by Natalie, compliments of her six year old daughter whom Meara loves and adores. Isn't that fitting? It's like Fate, really. Having a Fate-ish name just might make up for all the years of neglect, and help my old Cabbage Patch doll find a little peace and happiness in this world, don't you think?

So thank you Natalie, and thank you Brooke. You should both be soaring on an emotional high right now, due to this remarkable honor. It's almost like you went to Atlanta, Georgia, visited THE original Cabbage Patch, and named a newborn. And it was totally free.

Isn't Blogland amazing???

And thank you all for your submissions, Desiree totally appreciated your concern on her behalf. She thanks you, I thank you, Meara thanks you... And we'll all live Happily Ever After.

The End.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"Out of the Patch" Twenty (plus) Years Later...

I braved my mother's attic the other day. Seriously. Not only did I have to cut my way through a solid wall of cobwebs, but the light was out, and the boards laying across the rafters that serve as a "floor" are WAY less sturdy than they used to be.

But guess what I found? No, not the things I was actually looking for. Something even better...

I found my old Cabbage Patch. In her original clothes. Her long brown hair was still braided. She was still wearing a diaper. She's in like-new condition, and she deserves someone to love and adore her, because (as you can tell from the description) it's pretty obvious that no one ever did.

Let's go back in time.

The year: I'm pretty sure I was in third grade, making it 1984.

The situation: Every girl-child in the world wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll.

The resulting complication: They were impossible to find, cost an arm and a leg, and I think a few people sold-their-souls/lost-their-lives in the pursuit of obtaining one.

The big lie: I told my parents I wanted one, because that's what everyone else was saying. Good thing they weren't jumping off cliffs...

I have no idea why I thought I would play with one. Kelly had been trying to force me to play with dolls for all six-plus years of my existence, and I really wasn't interested. Besides, I didn't really think my parents would get one anyway. Things were pretty tight for us, and every day there were crazy people paying ridiculous prices for Cabbage Patch dolls.

Imagine my surprise (and mustered excitement) Christmas morning when I unwrapped brown haired, brown eyed, brown dressed, _______ _________.

That's right people. I am apparently the only grown woman in the world who owned a Cabbage Patch and doesn't even remember her name. EVERYONE I talk to remembers the name of their Cabbage Patch! (And the name of their sister's, and their cousin's, and that little girl's down the road). I, on the other hand, have no idea.

You know when there's something you know, but you just can't remember? Like a phone number, an address, or some one's name??? Yeah. Nothing. It isn't in there - it's G.O.N.E. gone. Probably because I only said it like three times. I had hopes that Annie or Kelly would remember, but since they rarely SAW my doll, (because I would never play babies with them) although they can tell me all about each other's dolls, they recall nothing about mine.

But did I mention what fabulous shape she's in? In fact, if it hadn't been for Whitney, she'd still be wearing her original diaper. (Thanks Whit. I'm still holding that one against you). But hey, at least she got played with that one time, right? And since there's no getting that diaper back, she's out of the collectors-item running, so I decided to pass her on to Little Miss Two (who is apparently very un-like me when it comes to playing with dolls, and is bound to give mine all the love and affection she deserves).

But if LMT is going to play with her properly, she needs a name. A Cabbage Patch-ish name. So taking the lead from Annie (who secured a FAKE i.e. nameless Cabbage Patch for her own daughter), I am going to have a "Name That Doll" contest. Leave me you're best, most authentic sounding Cabbage Patch name in my comment box, and I'll choose a winner. If the choice is obvious I'll just choose, and if I can't decide I'll pick out of a hat.

The prize? (In typical lame-prize fashion), My old doll will be the proud bearer of the name YOU submitted. I know. Just think of it. I hope all you hopefuls don't crash my site in your mad dash to earn this important distinction.

And please don't let me down - I need a good selection to choose from. Think of it this way: My poor, old, TERRIBLY (very possibly more so than any other Cabbage Patch in history) neglected doll needs a new name/identity for her new start. You could make this happen. YOU could change a Cabbage Patch life. This kind of good-will opportunity doesn't come along every day, so don't let it pass by! (Besides, I need the help. I can only come up with really lame names that sound like I'm trying too hard. Apparently I just don't have good Cabbage Patch Karma).

(Contest open until Sunday night)