Monday, June 25, 2007

Even a Barn Looks Better With A Little Paint...

Someone asked me the question again, and this time it was not a Mary Kay saleswoman.

"Do you ever wear make-up?"

Well, no, um... rarely, I mean... sometimes on certain occasions...why do you care?

May I refer you to the picture at the top of this post. That was my 8th grade self, who discovered eyeshadow, blush, mascara, eyeliner and wet-n-wild lipstick all at the same time. Does this help explain? Or just frighten you? Allow me to explain myself.

I never had make-up lessons.

My good friend Jenny was lucky enough to have her initiation into the make-up world at Girl's Camp around the same time I was experimenting with my .99 cent finds from the end-cap at Thrifty's. Nothing seemed to work for me. I tried different combinations, new color schemes, read all the trashy teen magazines for tips on "How To Get Your Crush To Notice You", but still, nothing worked. At this point I settled for the boring eyeliner-mascara combo which served me well enough throughout junior high and most of high school. Then came the magical envelope in the mail that held potential for an overnight status upgrade: my invitation to compete for the title of "Miss T.E.E.N. Los Angeles".

Surely someone would teach me to apply make-up for such a grand occasion!

I filled out all the paperwork. I got sponsors. I borrowed the perfect dress. I practiced my talent like nobody's business. I performed all tasks that were asked of me - service projects, interviews, anything! And when the day for the pageant arrived, I showed up at the right place, at the right time, dress in hand, make-up bag chock full of all sorts of .99 cent treasures! Only to discover that I was my make-up person. I almost cried.

Miss Redondo Beach's mom was her make-up person. She saw what I was doing to myself, grimaced, then came to my rescue. Here was her finished masterpiece:
(you love the hair, I know. It was like a lion's mane. "Bigger is better" was the idea.)

I had confidence! I had talent! I had make-up! But there is stage make-up, and there is regular make-up, and one of them makes you look like a clown when you are not on stage. You figure it out.

Sigh. Mascara and eye liner.

At the age of 19 I moved to Utah, where a whole new world awaited me. This was my first experience with roommates, and they were make-up experts! One roommate, Samantha (Sam, where are you?), was a lipstick aficionado. She firmly believed that there was never a reason to be without lipstick, and she was determined to convert me to her philosophy. She tried various shades on me and professed them all to be fabulous. I decided to be bold one day and actually wear some out of the apartment. On my way to campus, a friend of the male species stopped me and asked, "What did you do to your lip?"

That was the end of that.

One day soon after the lipstick incident I rushed home to meet this really hot guy that I was going dancing with (The Ivy Tower used to be so cool!). He was already there, waiting for me, and I promised to hurry and apply some make-up and change into dance-club clothing. Do you know what he said?

"Why do you even wear make-up? You look great without it."

And I thought, "I could marry this guy."

So I did.

One last story, and then you can go. (If you're still reading at this point, you might as well keep going. It can't get any worse, right?) My friend Trish is an amazing photographer. At some point, she decided to give it a try as a side-job, but she did not have a portfolio to show potential clients. Guess what happened? I got to wear my sister-in-law's wedding dress and be her model. Another sister-in-law, Christy, did my hair and make-up. So, here I am again, with a painted-on face.

And here's the idea behind this blog post...unless you are going to bribe me with ├ęclairs or peach Clearly Canadian, you can come check out my made-up self here. So, yes, I have worn make-up, and no, I really don't much anymore. I think most other people look all fine and good and even glamorous with their make-up on, but my face is just fine without.

Unless Jenny wants to give me make-up lessons.

p.s. Don't call me if you sell Mary Kay.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pizza Hut Karaoke

Vicki, Julie D., Denise, Michael the Manager, Gerb & Tiffany.
(Please excuse the shorts. And love the polka-dots.)

I was thinking today about all of the jobs I have had. And the list is long, friends. Longer than it should be.

My past occupations include (but are not limited to):

-Lemonade-Maker Extraordinaire (
Hot Dog on a Stick)

-Fashion Consultant (Gymboree, Limited Express, Foxmoor)

-Flower Lady (2-day deal, pushing a shopping cart full of roses around Albertson's wearing a Rockette-type outfit...what I'd do for a buck!)

-Dish Washer (Joe's hole-in-the-wall Diner, I lasted only 3 hours)

-Waitress (The Pantry in Price, where tips are a foreign concept)

-Health-Nut Bartender (Lindburg Nutrition's juice bar)

-American Sign Language Interpreter (This is the only job I really tell people about)

...and the list goes on and on from there. But as I reflected on what my favorite job of all time was, the winner would definitely be:

-Karaoke Singer (Pizza Hut)

I know, I know, you're all very jealous. How in the world did I land such a sought-after position? Well, pull up a seat, friends, and I'll tell you my tale.

Pizza Hut was located in close enough proximity to my high school that my friends and I could hop into Holly's convertible orange bug, get in and out with an order of cheese sticks and back to school between the first and last bell. Pizza Hut was where the surfer boys ate lunch. Who, may I ask, wouldn't want a little eye candy during lunch? It was like a double bonus. Non-cafeteria food, Jake Nilges, and Aaron Ritenour. Sweet.

During one of these lunchtime expeditions, one of the gals in our pack noticed a flier advertising a karaoke contest on Friday night. Who, may I ask, wouldn't want to sing a little karaoke at Pizza Hut on a Friday night? We were THERE!

I know I was not the only contestant that first fateful Friday. I don't even remember if I won a free pizza. None of that mattered. What I do remember is that I started out easy, with a little "Crazy For You". The crowd went wild! I was in my element! I was doing what I was born to do, baby! I could NOT wait until next Friday.

I worked the crowd with "Let's Hear It For The Boy." After the winners were announced, the manager, Michael, asked me to sing a duet with him, "All Cried Out." (How could he have known that Julie D. and I practiced harmonizing that song in the school bathroom every chance we got? The dynamics in there were SO rad!) We rocked the house! They begged for more! He asked if I would be interested in singing a couple of nights during the week for a paltry sum. My people needed me! Money was no object. I could not say no.

So, for two glorious weeks, I took requests and sang for Chinese businessmen and senior citizens on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I was well on my way to becoming discovered and put on Broadway when the Pizza Hut High-Up-Muckity-Mucks decided to cut back and stop paying me my .27 cents/hour. My karaoke career came to a crashing halt.

But, oh, what a dream while it lasted!

p.s. In case you were concerned, I did not stop singing karaoke. Never have, never will.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Oh, my JC!

This little girl is my twin. Only I didn't reach her craziness scale until well into high school after discovering the kingdom of drama. She was born crazy and has not stopped.

JC is the kind of kid everyone loves. She is a spunky sweetheart, chock full of creativity and imagination. She is witty, silly, and quite the singer and actress. And her heart is as big as they come.

When JC was a very little girl, she loved to tell everyone, "I am the beautifulest and also the smartest and cutest" and things of that nature. One day Allen asked her, "So you think you're pretty hot stuff, huh?"

Her response has become a family saying:
"No, I'm just a little sweaty."

When JC was around the age of 8, she started writing "I love Josh" on random papers and in her little journal. Being the inquisitive person that I am, and not being a big promoter of girls-love-boys at her age, I asked, "Who is this Josh boy?"

"Josh Groban, Mom!" she responded. And inside I smiled. Because I loved Josh Groban, too! I owned all of his CDs and DVDs! I was an official Grobanite! And I told her so.

"But what about Dad?" she asked.

So I explained that when we say we love Josh Groban, we mean we really love his music, that he has an amazing voice, and that we could listen to him sing until the cows come home.

"Maybe that's what you mean," was her quick reply, "but I mean that I really love him. Like, love-love-kiss-kiss love him. Like I am going to marry him someday. He is very cute."

Look out, Mr. Groban. When this girl puts her mind to something, she intends to accomplish it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Story of My Dad

I would like to tell you the story of an incredible man, one who I have long looked up to and admired. Not a day goes by that he is not in my thoughts. This man is my dad. I have a picture of him, his senior year in high school, on the wall outside my bedroom door. Every day as I leave my room I see him there, smiling at me. Most people who know me know that my parents are Deaf. Deafness is not considered a disability to those who are a part of Deaf culture, and my father was no exception. He worked hard, gave generously, served diligently and loved unconditionally. I have always wondered how I could be so blessed to be his daughter.

Did you know I am named after my dad? His name is Herbert. I am Gerberta. The story goes something like this: My parents wanted me to be Herbie Junior. But alas, I was not a boy. I was my dad’s first child, and they really wanted to name me after him. G-for-girl was decided upon, thus my name was Gerbert. Luckily, someone suggested an “a” at the end to give it a feminine touch. There you have it, the origin of my name, Gerberta. It is not German. It is Deaf.

When the time came for me to get married, no one was more excited than my pop. He accepted Allen as a son from the time we started dating, I think. And I do believe he was the happiest person at our wedding, excepting my groom and myself. As each of our pregnancies was announced and our children were born, dad was beside himself with joy. I have never seen a more proud grandpa! He would come to visit and the grandkids would immediately gravitate toward him, anxious to discover what surprises were hidden in his pockets. They still talk about the quarters, candy necklaces, and other treats he would distribute.

I will never forget 2000, the year I discovered I was pregnant with our 5th child, EG. Dad was one of the first people I told, and he couldn’t wait to add another grandchild to the tally. This was the year of some big changes for dad. He started acting different. At work, he normally took great pride in a job well done; yet his thoroughness was no longer there. He would say he had finished tasks he had not. He was fired from his job, something that had never happened since the strike at Clinton Corn years earlier (that, my friends, is a story in itself), and we worried he was depressed. He would sit on the couch for almost the entire day, doing no work in the garden that he loved. My mom planned a trip to Washington for them to visit her family, to get them out and doing something fun. He was unresponsive, almost anti-social, and would say he was going to do something then sit and stare at nothing in particular. After their return home and my mom’s increasing frustration, he continued to decline. We were all extremely worried, but unsure of what to do. Then I got a phone call from my mom. She needed me to meet her at the emergency room so I could translate for her and dad. He had soiled himself, on the couch, and would not move.

The doctors worried that he had a mild stroke, yet he did not have the correct symptoms. They decided it was the best option and did a brain scan to check for the possibility. They found a mass that they were sure must have caused the assumed mini-stroke, and wanted to operate immediately to remove it. He went in for emergency surgery within the hour, and we were relieved that they had discovered the cause of all these changes in dad. The surgery would have risks, as all surgeries do, but he was expected to come out of it just fine. Mom and I sat in the waiting room and, well, waited. About an hour into the surgery, the surgeon came out to tell us some of the worst, most devastating and heart-wrenching news I have ever received. The mass was a brain tumor of the worst kind, Glioblastoma Multiforme, and we would be lucky if dad were to wake from the surgery. They would not be able to remove the entire mass, but they could try to slow its growth. The average life span was 3-5 months. We prayed for a miracle, and received many.

When dad came out of the surgery, he was awake and alert. He could not remember anything that had happened in the past 24 hours and we had a hard time helping him understand the seriousness of his condition. He was sure that my brother, Chip, and I were playing some kind of joke on him, and that we had the nurses and doctors in on it as well. Once he realized it was very serious, he became the man we all know and love once again. He wanted to fight this cancer in every way possible, and we were his support team, ready and willing to do whatever was needed. We took him to radiation treatments, but they did not work. The cancer continued to grow and spread. He tried chemotherapy once, but it made him so sick that we decided to stop. From there we tried to make his life as comfortable as possible until the time would come that we all dreaded. His abilities slowly declined to the point where he needed daily care. I was very fortunate and blessed to be able to take care of him for about half of each day. I had the amazing opportunity to do for him what he had done for me as a baby. I helped him walk, helped him eat, and talked to him as much as I could.

At this point, I was 8 months pregnant. I wanted him to make it at least long enough to see the baby, to hold his newest granddaughter, to take pictures of the two of them together. But he stopped eating and slipped into a sort of trance where he was there in body, but not in soul. And on January 29, 2001, he left us.

I know that death is not the end, but it is hard for those of us who are left behind to deal with the loss of someone we love so dearly. I had many fears. One was that my children would not remember or know who their grandpa was, this dear man who loved them all so much. Another was that I would forget about him. Not entirely, but that I wouldn’t think of him often enough. Six years later, I still think of him every day.

I was able to attend the funeral of a good friend’s father on Saturday. Like my dad, he was a good man who lived an exemplary life. Funerals are hard for me, and here is why:

  1. I generally cry.
  2. I am not very attractive when I cry.
  3. I do not like to cry in front of other people. (see #2)
  4. People wonder why I’m getting all bawly over someone I didn’t even know so well, when really I’m just missing my dad.
  5. They make me think of my dad.

At this funeral, one of the sons told a story about how, as the end of his father’s life was near, he would squeeze his father’s hand twice, and his father would squeeze back. Until there were no more squeezes to give. This reminded me of my own dad, and I could not keep back the tears or prevent the red, blotchy eyes. My dad used to squeeze my hand three times. This was secret code for “I love you”. Then I would squeeze his back 4 times, meaning, “I love you more”. He would then squeeze my hand 5 times, code for, “I love you THIS much”. We would continue like this, back and forth, squeezing longer each time on the “THIS” part until one of us was exhausted. I miss the hand squeezes. I miss his sweet, brown eyes. I miss his silly jokes and contagious smile. But it’s ok. I’m ok.

I get glimpses of dad in each of my children. EG was born a month after dad died, and she has a large birthmark on her forehead. I told her that was the place grandpa gave her a big kiss before sending her to us. Our cute GA has his temper like you wouldn’t believe, and I find it cute at times. And I do not think it is a coincidence that our little HH, has the white-blonde hair his grandpa had as a child. These are miracles that come to help me remember.

Soon after he died, I found this poem. I remembered a picture I had of dad that seemed a perfect fit, and I am excited to share them both with you:

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room
-- Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little, but not too long.
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared.
-- Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we all must take,
And each must go alone.
It's all a part of the Master's plan,
-- A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick of heart,
Go to friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
-- Miss me, but let me go!


Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fourth Year Campers Take a Hike: Part 2

If you have not read part one, STOP now, scroll down and read Part 1, then come back to this. We must have order. Unless you are one of those people who read the last chapter of a book first. In that case, I guess you are good to go. Now, back to the exciting 4th year hike!! Here is the entire group on the way back, minus my brother-in-law Seth who took this picture. Please don't look too closely at my legs, as you could easily be blinded. I would like to make a point here. Do you notice the overly-excited smile on my face? How my eyes are opened much too widely? This is planned. I have noticed in the past that most pictures I am in show my open mouth, closed eyes, or my puzzled expression. This is because I was not ready. I am now on constant alert, ready with a purposely silly grin so that my pictures look bad on purpose. Consistency is a beautiful thing. But, enough about me. Back to the hike! You are dying to hear about the casualty, I know. We are getting there, so hold your horses.
Here is one of my favorite spots on the hike. We had to hike through the rocky water for a bit to find the path again. Without getting too philosophical, isn't that a bit like life sometimes? And you know what? We all made it.
Here are all the girls, minus one who is standing behind me, at hike's end. Check out the wet jeans! And drenched heads! The hike back was more of a water-fight-waiting-to -happen than an organized hike. Every time we reached a stream crossing, people were getting wet. Did you notice the cool hats? It is a tradition at Young Women's Camp to receive a "bead" on your camp necklace for just about every camp activity you participate in. I did not award them beads, I gave them Fourth Year Hiker Hats that I found on clearance at K-Mart for 49 cents each! I am very proud of my bargains, people. And these hats became the perfect medium for scooping up and flinging water at other hikers.

Ok, you have waited long enough. The suspense is killing you! You must know, where is the casualty? Who died?! Children, gather around for a little story in wilderness survival. Or not survival. Rob, our fearless hike leader with the dry shoes, along with his lovely wife Cami and 3 Young Women hikers, drove at the head of the pack on our trip up the canyon to the trail head. From behind, we watched little animals run across the road and beneath Rob's car then surface, unscathed, on the other side.

Except for one.

This story is not for the squeamish. You have been warned.

One brave little squirrel/chipmunk/potgut (we will discuss the word "potgut" later) tried its hardest to reach the opposite side of the road, yet somehow did not. He did not get flattened as most small animals would when thrown into a match of nature vs. vehicle, but he did somehow become seriously injured. As I drove past in my SUV loaded full of Young Women Hikers, said animal was on his back at the side of the road, still moving. We all hoped the chipmunk (I am fairly certain this is what the animal is called, although others disagreed) made it, that he found his footing and ran off to join his friends on the other side of the road. But, alas, this was not to be. He simply joined his friends on the other side. We know this because we saw him there, unmoving, on the trip back down the canyon. Farewell, little chipmunk. May your life on the other side be filled with trees to scurry up and down and plentiful things to eat, as well as roads to run across without the danger you encountered today.

This is the end of our Fourth Year Hike story. But I have one last issue to address, and that is the term "pot gut". Is this a technical term? Or simply one invented by someone who didn't know the name of the furry creature? Because, as best I can tell, what Utahans refer to as a pot gut is commonly known as a "prairie dog" in other parts of the United States. It has a pot gut, but is it really called a pot gut? Please enlighten me if you have any insight on the matter.

Thank you, and good day.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fourth Year Campers Take a Hike: Part 1

I was lucky enough this year to get the assignment of planning a hike for the girls who are in their fourth year of attending our stake Young Women's Camp. I love hiking, and seriously, people, we live in UTAH! My options were endless. I am also lucky enough to have some amazing adult leaders to help me out. We went to Santaquin Canyon, 13 young women and 5 leaders. And do you want to know what the really cool thing about this hike was? (Besides the fact that 13 was NOT an unlucky number?)
We crossed a stream 22 times each way!

Here we are at the first crossing. At this point, some girls are trying to stay dry and some girls are just enjoying the water! (It was cold, in case you were wondering.)
Here we are, most of the group, stopping mid-hike for a photo opportunity. Could you have resisted taking more photos than were necessary? Me either.
I must acknowledge our fearless leader, Rob, who did not get his shoes wet even once. Some people are born to maneuver over streams, and some are not. Rob is like a mountain goat. He has been known to defy gravity at times.
I was so sad for the girls who didn't join us on this hike! We walked next to or through this stream the whole way, friends. It doesn't get any better than that.
Crossing the stream became the highlights of the hike. No, I did not mistype. I said highlights because, did I mention, we crossed the stream a total of 44 times?!

Stay tuned for more pictures and details. The story gets pretty exciting, ladies and gentlemen! There are water fights. There is an unfortunate casualty. You won't want to miss it!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Has Anyone Seen My Kids?

Look at these faces. I really can't help it that I have such great-looking kids. It's all in the genes, I suppose. Wouldn't you love having these two characters around? My problem is this: these two kids are still in Texas, and I miss them. I want them here, at home. Our family is incomplete without them.

Because our family is a bit on the larger side (and I'm not talking weight problems here, although my dear husband Allen recently discovered he was "obese" according to some online scale and likes to bring it up often-I think he rates HOT STUFF), we sent AM and EM on an airplane to Texas while the rest of us drove. They were supposed to be home yesterday. We were all very excited! We were jumping for joy!! Then we found out that their flight was canceled because of the weather somewhere. And the next available flight? THURSDAY!! I can not take it any longer. And here is why.

I love my kids. I like having my kids around.

I have had a big lesson in taking these two for granted. Many people ask me, "How do you do it? EIGHT kids?! WOW! You must be super mom! You're amazing!" Did you see the two big kids in the pictures there? THAT is how I do it. These two are my super-helper-bees, always willing to do what is asked (although sometimes bribery and threats are involved) and pitch in when needed. I am very blessed to have the kids I do. Since they have been in Texas, I have become Mom-of-young-kids again (although my JC is a great helper, too!) and it is much harder than being Mom-of-teenagers-and-young-kids. I hope they know how much I love and appreciate them. I have learned that I need to SHOW my appreciation more. Which I plan to do.

OK, lesson learned. Can I have my kids back now?

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'm a Texas Star!

Howdy all y'all! (That's Texan for "Hello everyone!") We just got back from a family reunion down yonder in Houston, Texas, and a rootin' (YEE HAW!!) tootin' (only had beans once) good time was had by all! Our little EG was especially enthralled by the experience. She has always been a cowgirl at heart and even began speaking with the occasional western drawl a couple years back. She was absolutely ecstatic to 'speak cowboy' and fit right in!

EG was honored to receive Texas-themed prizes at the reunion. She was awarded a 'Texas Forever' shirt which immediately became her new favorite article of clothing (Yes, EG, we DO have to wash it!) and a Texas-shaped pen, her new prized possession.

EG has a passion for writing. She brought along her kindergarten journal and wrote about things that happened on our trip. I will quote her journal instead of boring you with my personal details. Keep in mind that she sound-spells quite a bit. If you don't understand, just sound it out. It's like a whole secret language. I remember when my friend Jason and I wrote notes to each other in sound-spell in high school. It was loads of fun! Anyway, back to EG's journal:

"We drove and drove. We watcht a movey! And we drove mor. I lookt awt my windo. We wnt to a stor to go too the bathrom. We got to the temple in Monticello! (She asked me how to spell that one.) We watcht mor moveys. We stopt in Farmington! I did play! I had lunch and then I did play mor then it was tim too go. Then we drove mor and mor. We saw a lat uv TREES. We were at the watermelon mountins. I saw some horses and animals. We drove allat. I had a drink! I wanted too go to a restaurant. (Mom helped her spell that one, too) It was night. Then it was morning. And we had brekfist at a restarunt. And then we drove and drove and we watcht some moveys! We watcht Rubadubrs. We watcht Bob the Bildr. We watcht Barny. And we watcht more moveys. We got to Texas! I liket talking in cowboy! My mom and dad saw a turtle on the road! I saw 8 water tawers. We went to church. We went to the beech. We went to a swiming pool! Ther was a lat mor but I frgot all uv that. We slept good. It was morning!
We drove allat more. Then we went bac hom. (Big sad face drawn here). the End."

There you have it! Our 10-day Texas vacation in the eyes of a 6-year-old. A large portion of this was written with her Texas pen, so it's very special.

EG was not particularly excited to cross the border of Texas and enter New Mexico. When I proclaimed, "We are no longer in the state of Texas! We are now in New Mexico!" She replied, "Awwww!! Now I can't speak cowboy anymore. I have to speak Mexican. Or just normal."

She can still sing her new favorite song, though, which Aunt Becky taught us at the reunion:

(you better believe I'll be singing this at Girl's Camp next month, along with all the actions!!)

I'm a TEX, I'm a TEX, I'm a TEXAS star,
From way down yonder where the cowboys are!
I can ride 'em, I can rope 'em, I can show you how it's done-
So come on down to Texas with your boots & hats on!

But just so you can see that she is happy to be home, and so I can show off her darling new haircut, here's our happy EG, who we are hoping will take up cowboy talk again very soon.

P.S. If you want to see more pictures and descriptions of the reunion, check out my sister-in-law Stephenie's blog HERE.