Friday, January 30, 2009

Look At Me

ElemenoB and Thumbelina joined me for my bi-monthly all-day marathon grocery shopping trip last Saturday. As we were leaving the third store on our route ElemenoB made an interesting observation:

"People at the store just look at each others grocery carts when they walk past. Nobody looks at anybody's face."

I had never really thought about that before, but decided to see for myself if it was true in the next supermarket. Sure enough, not one person with a shopping cart looked at me. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. So I decided to do something about it at our last stop.

Let's call it an experiment in human nature.

From the time we left the car, I looked into the face of every person who passed me.

"Hello there!" I said to the cart-collector in the parking lot.

I got one of those slight-upwards-nod-of-the-head movements in return.

"Welcome to Walmart," the door-greeter said in his monotone, I-hate-my-job voice.

"Thanks! I LOVE shopping here!" I replied, which was a little bit of a lie, but it solicited a friendly half-wave as I continued walking. So I think it was worth it.

"How are you today?" I asked an older gentleman in passing in the produce section.

"Very well, thank you. You have a good day!" he replied.

This was fun.

Eye contact, smiles, and an occasional word met every shopper who passed my cart.

In frozen foods, a twenty-something scanned the Bagel Bites.

"Hi!" I called to her with a smile on my face.

She looked behind her. Nobody there. She looked back at me.

"Um, hi." she answered, closing the freezer and avoiding eye contact, as she pushed her cart past me.

No Bagel Bites today, apparently.

In the peanut butter aisle I passed a woman dressed in her Sunday best.

"I love your dress!" I exclaimed.

She looked at my cart.

"That's a lot of peanut butter."

"Yes," I replied, "I have a lot of kids and they all love peanut butter."

"Hmmm. Have a good one." she said as she continued down the aisle.

"You too!" I called after her.

In the dairy section I encountered my toughest case. Her hair was 3 shades of purple along with some of (what I assumed was) her natural brown. One colorful, glittery eye peeked out from behind her long bangs and I couldn't count all of her facial piercings. She was perusing the many varieties of yogurt.

"Hello," I said, looking her in the (one) eye.

She continued perusing. Yoplait or Dannon? Mountain Dairy or Great Value?

"I really like Mountain Dairy," I offered.

She went back to Yoplait. Ignoring me.

Should I give up? I thought to myself.

I am not a quitter.

"Have you ever tried this kind before?" I asked, holding up some Dannon.

She turned and looked me square in the eye.

She pulled her headphones out of her ears.

"Were you saying something to me?" she asked.

"Oh, I didn't realize you had headphones in," I answered, slightly embarrassed. "I was just saying hello. You know, making friendly conversation. Nothing important. Sorry to bother you."

"Hey, lady," she called to me as I walked away.

I turned. "Yeah?"

"Hello. And I like your shoes."

I looked at my shoes, then back up at her. "Thanks."

"No problem. You have a good one, ok?" she said with a smile.

"Yeah, you too." I responded.

Here I was, trying to see how others would respond to me, and this young woman's smile made my day.

Happiness can come in the most unexpected packages.




photo from personalnewtrition.com

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dad




-->
8 years ago today you silently slipped away
in the quiet morning hours
an escape from your pain, a beginning for mine
leaving behind only memories
in mental and tangible photographs.

It unsettled me
that the world could go on turning
without you here.

Time does not make the loss easier
does not fill the empty part of me
which still longs for one final dance;
the way we used to sway when I was young
and again when your time here was ending.

Yet, hope warms my soul
and your strength embraces me
when I need to face life's storms.

In moments of silence I often reflect
on the life you lived
and the love you left with us
a priceless treasure I hold closely guarded
until the promise of forever is kept.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cake For Breakfast!

One of my favorite things to make for breakfast is baked oatmeal. The kids call it 'Oatmeal Cake' and they beg for the leftovers after school. The great thing about it is you can refrigerate the mixture overnight and bake it in the morning or you can even bake it the night before and just re-heat the individual servings as needed. I have thought about freezing slices of it but there is never any left to try that with.

Well, friends, it's your lucky day. Because now you have the recipe.

Oatmeal Cake

1 cup applesauce (you can use oil instead)
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
6 cups oats
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups milk

(optional add-ins before baking: 1 diced apple, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries)

Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes (or until lightly browned).

You can serve each slice 'as is' (perfect to eat on the way out the door!) or in a variety of other ways. Here are a few ideas:

-Pour some milk over it and enjoy
-Top with brown sugar and butter
-Whipped cream and fresh fruit make anything taste amazing!
-Dust the top with powdered sugar

There you have it. Cake for breakfast.

Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Music In Me

Want to read a post that is pretty disjointed and not very flowy? Then welcome! You've come to the right place.

My cousin Jen commented recently on one of my posts:

"I have noticed that you talk about music and can tell you have a love for it - but you don't have music on your blog?"

This is true, and there are reasons for that.

First, my tastes in music change constantly. I don't think I could keep up with a playlist.

And second (this may sound strange), music is a very personal thing for me. I'm not sure how to explain that so anyone could understand, but I'll give it a shot.

The earliest recollection I have of music in my life is of a beloved 8-track player in our kitchen. My mom would listen to various songs as she went about her day and I would listen, mesmerized by the melodies and the lyrics and the way the songs made me feel.

The first time I ever really performed in front of an audience was after I started taking accordion lessons. I played a song for a small group at a recital and the teacher approached me afterward.

"Why did you sing as you played?" he asked.

"Because there were words," I answered, "and the words help me know where the music goes."

"That's fantastic!" he said. And then, the unexpected words that still coarse through me today: "Keep that music in you. Don't stop singing."

And so I haven't.

I don't know... how can I really describe the music in me?

In my tween years I would sing every chance I got - others' songs as well as the melodies in my own heart, the ones I could never get written down for lack of enough technical knowledge. I would sit in my bathroom with my pink tape recorder at least once a week, recording the music and lyrics that floated around in my head so that maybe someday I could figure out how to write them down.

Music became a way for me to handle anything life could throw at me. A certain song's lyrics can speak the exact feelings of my heart. Another song's beat is the perfect rhythm to express my anger. The way some singers' voices mesh together in a perfect blend of harmonies help me feel at peace. Music inspires me.

I love playing around with different notes, trying to harmonize with the songs I love on the radio.

In my mind, poetry is another form of music. The beauty of certain words and the way they can come together to express something inside of me is almost unreal.

I love music.

Like I said, my tastes in music change constantly. I love different artists at different times for different reasons. Some for the story of how they made it big. Some for the words that are so fun to sing along to. Others for the imagery that their music brings to mind. Some impress me with their creativity or cleverness. Others help me see that I am not the only one who feels a certain way.

Emotions. Words. Meaning. Inspiration. Feelings... does any of this make any sense?

I often need to close my eyes as I listen. I always hope no one is looking my way and thinking I am asleep. Some music is just so much more when I see it behind closed eyes. When there are no visual distractions it is easier to wrap my mind around a certain phrase or harmony - and just bask in what I'm hearing.

Some music literally makes me catch my breath.

I don't know - it's kind of like trying to describe sugar or salt to someone who is unfamiliar with "sweet" or "salty".

Words are just not sufficient.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Poop Poop Poop Poop

I wonder, did you see the title of this post and consider NOT reading on? It is really funny to me how uncomfortable the word can make people feel. I mean, we all do it... me, you, animals.

As teens my brother and I even came up with our own acronym so we could talk about poop in mixed company: PONAS. Love it. It became my favorite exclamation.

Didn't make the cut for the play? PONAS!

Didn't get asked to the dance? PONAS!

Burned the cookies? POnAS!

(Have fun deciphering it. It's a little gift from me to you - a puzzle of sorts. You're welcome.)

That being said, my heart gave a little flutter when I saw this at the store the other day:
This toy "...comes with its very own newspaper, pile of puppy poop and pooper scooper accessories."

Cowgirl and I were looking for a birthday gift she could give to a friend from school. I thought, mission accomplished! the second I saw it, but Cowgirl was horrified and refused to gift such a thing. She thought it was disgusting.

That made it even funnier.

I would have bought it for myself, but I held back.

Besides, my birthday will be here before I know it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's ME!


I have been mulling over this post in my mind for a long time.

I have no words to describe what I want to say with any degree of eloquence - so I'll just come out with it.

Here goes...

I can do more than just make/raise children.

Most of you are shocked, aren't you? It's OK. Most people think that's what I'm all about. And hey, can we blame them? Of course not! I mean, admittedly, I do have quite the talent for birthing beautiful babies. And, well, nine is a pretty big number to most people when it comes to kids.

Take my mom for instance. When I went to visit her at work the other day she introduced me to every person we saw like this:

"Have you met her? SHE HAS NINE CHILDREN!"

Not, "This is my daughter, Gerberta. She can be SO funny and clever and creative! She loves to sing and has been passionate about music for as long as I can remember. And you should taste her homemade bread. Her cooking is fabulous. She can get pretty crazy, too - she even plays the accordion a little!"

I understand her introduction. I know she is proud of me and loves my kids, and that makes me very happy. But you know what? There is so much more to me! So much that has been bottled up and put on the shelf, preserved and stored carefully away for future use.

I have mentioned before that I have a hard time choosing and making friends. I have to know you're for real before I can open up and really be ME. I have to know I can trust you with the things I share. But you know what? Once you make it past that, I want you to know everything! I want to sit my true friends down and say, "OK, my first memory was of the time I was 4 and my brother and I were pretending to be chipmunks..." and not stop until I have showed you every photograph, told you every story, cried and laughed and even sat silent at times, covering my entire life's history, so you really know what you're dealing with.

I guess that's what my blog has become.

You catch glimpses of my life as a mother and wife, but I love to throw in the sweet and spicy stories of my childhood and teenage years so you can get a taste of who I really am - and how I got to where I am today. This place is my outlet for writing, a passion I have enjoyed from the age of 7 when I wrote my first poem and discovered the magic of words.

So.

I have nine children. This is true. And I LOVE it! But inside that mother, there is another person.

Thank you for coming here, for reading my blog. Thank you for taking the time to get to know the real me.

It is the most generous compliment I could be paid.

above photo found on flickr.com

Friday, January 23, 2009

Not So Super

You like reality T.V.? Here's reality for you: I am no supermom.

Many people believe in this illusion that I am some perfectly amazing mother. Well guess what? I'm human. No cape, no superpowers. And here is the proof:

-My smallest kids don't even get breakfast until 10 or 11 a.m. some days because I'm blogging or checking my email. Don't even get me started on the dishes and laundry.

-When my kids have to turn in their monthly reading calendars at school, I totally make up the minutes they read all month. I mean, I know they read. Probably more than most of the kids at the school all put together. I just don't have time to keep track of it every single day. Are you kidding me? Sometimes I even use two different colors of pen so it looks like I've been doing it all month long.

-Hubba (age 4) had been telling me that his "face hurts" for 2 weeks before I was smart enough to look inside his mouth. His molars are pretty much rotten because I let him brush his own teeth. The dentist was very gracious and said that his having a million ear infections in his first few years was a factor. I appreciate his trying to make me feel better, but the fact that poor Hubba has to be put under and have surgery to fix the problem makes me feel terrible. No more cookies for breakfast, I guess. (Just kidding. We only eat cookies for lunch.)

-If one of my kids wore something all day Friday, slept in it and then showed up at the table in the same clothes the next morning, you better believe I'm going to let them wear it again. It's Saturday! Who's gonna know?

-My husband is a big supporter of hot cereals for breakfast which to me = pasty nastiness in a bowl. So after I force all the kids to choke it down I put on a movie for the ones who don't go to school and have myself a bowl of cold cereal and a slice of cinnamon toast behind the door in the pantry.

-I totally chug milk out of the jug, right in front of my kids. It tastes better that way.

That's right, friends.

No supermom here.

Forget reality T.V. This is MY LIFE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

We Meet Again

I had to take Hubba to a pediatric dentist the other day.

I followed standard procedure: signed in, filled out a stack of paperwork and signed my life away while Hubba happily explored the kid-friendly waiting area.

There were Legos. There was a large playhouse. There was a huge fish tank, complete with real-life Nemo. And around the corner... an arcade.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw one of my best-friends from middle school: Ms. Pacman.

Memories of the Steve's Burger joint behind my middle school flooded my mind. My friends and I would all chip in for the largest order of fries we could get, grab a booth, and take turns trying to beat the high score on Ms. Pacman.

I couldn't help myself - I checked the high score: 22,500.

That's it?! I thought to myself. I could beat that in like 6 rounds...

"Hey Hubba!" I called to him, "Look at this fun game!"

He walked over to where I was sitting. "Which one? The guy in the car one?"

"No!" I responded, priming the pump. "I mean this cool chomping all the dots game with ghosts and everything!"

"Them ghosts gots colors and that chomper gots a pink bow. That's a girl game. I'm a he, mom, not a she" Hubba said as he moved towards the Mario Brothers game.

My time was ticking away! I said a silent prayer for a long wait to see the dentist.

"You know what, Hubba? If you beat two levels, then the girl chomper with the bow meets a boy chomper and you get to see a little cartoon! Want to try?"

"OK, mom" he answered with an eye roll, stepping up to the controls.

"You want mom to help you?" I asked, innocently.

"Yeah."

I stood behind him, joystick in hand. The old patterns started to come back to me... right, down, blinking dot, left, up, get the peach....

Before we knew it, I had beat level two. Child's play! I thought to myself as the animation of "They Meet" began.

"That was it?" Hubba asked. "Was that the cartoon?"

"Wasn't that awesome?!" I asked, a little too excited.

I continued to play, eating blinking blue ghosts left and right, foiling their plans for my capture when a little girl said to me, "That game is beautiful."

"Yeah." I responded, not wanting to lose my concentration.

"I am a girl, so I like pink. That is the pink game. It is beautiful. I want to play."

Where is this kid's mom? I thought. "I am a girl, too," I said, "so I like pink and I am playing right now." Go play with the Legos, kid! I thought to myself.

"Excuse me, but these games is for kids to play and I am a girl and I like pink so that is my game."

"Well, my boy likes this game, so he is playing...." I looked around. Where did Hubba go? Dang it! I checked my score: just over 20,000. I would have to stall for time.

"Why do you like the pink game?" I asked, chasing the banana.

"I am a girl, and it is my turn, lady." The kid was getting serious. There was no way I was going to let a 5-year-old take my turn and win my high score!

And then, "Hubba?" the nurse called.

From over by the Legos he yelled to me, "MOM! STOP PLAYING THE CHOMPY GIRL GAME AND COME HERE!"

The receptionists started. The little girl's mom gave me the evil eye. I gave them all my best fake-warm-smile and stepped away from the game.

Defeat. And as I walked toward Hubba to take him back to see the dentist, I heard the unmistakable sound of Ms. Pacman's death. (Wa-wa-wa-whump-whump!) Pretending to check on my car out the window, I quickly glanced at my score. Just 400 points away from victory! With a sigh, I left my middle school memories in the arcade and became a mother again.

But this isn't over.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Night At The Theatre

(Two of the audience members, eagerly awaiting the start of the play)

I am often treated to a play which is written, directed and acted out by my kids. Last night's was especially suspenseful. Here are the general rules:

1. It must take place in the basement.
2. Costumes and props must be used.
3. If anyone forgets their lines, any other actor may fill in.
4. The script can change at any time. (Improv is good.)

And now, without further ado, I present for your theatrical pleasure:

MURDER IN ALYSSA'S MANSION!

SCENE 1.

We begin in the kitchen where the maid is preparing dinner.

"What are you doing here, Miss Coleson?" the maid asks.

"I'm just visiting." Miss Coleson responds.

"Dinner will be late, madam." the maid says kindly.

And then Miss Coleson pulls out a pink plastic knife from her tea set and STABS HER TO DEATH!!
(dim lights, crew member drags maid off)

"Mom! I'm getting dragged to change my costume!" the dead maid calls out to me.
SCENE 2.

Miss Coleson tries to visit Alyssa in her room.

Lucky for Alyssa there happens to be a guard at her door who sends Miss Coleson away.

BUT! The guard turns his back on Miss Coleson. Big mistake!!

She pulls out her pink plastic knife from her tea set and STABS HIM TO DEATH!!

SCENE 3.

Alyssa meets Miss Coleson in the secret passage to her secret cellar and asks, "What are you doing here?"

"Ever since you invited me to your birthday party and your dog bit me I have been ANGRY!" Miss Coleson yells. "And now you shall never see daylight again!"

Miss Coleson pulls out her pink plastic knife (from her tea set) and STABS HER TO.... wait!

Alyssa ducks!

She lives!

A guard happened to be in the secret passageway to the secret cellar and saw the whole thing and called 911!

A storm trooper shows up with a rubber-band gun pointed at the guard! Is he in cahoots with Miss Coleson?
No one knows!

Because at this point the cast giggles uncontrollably, takes their bows, and declares the show over.

But WAIT!!

Regardless of the fact that most of the audience has gone, the storm trooper turns his rubber-band gun on Miss Coleson and shoots her dead with a loud "P-choo! P-choo!" sound.
THE END.
(close curtain)


Thank you for joining us for a night of mystery theater.

Tune in next week when the entire cast meets for a group counseling session.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Duct Tape, I Love You

To The Person Who Came Up With This Genius Idea,

Thank you.

I wish I had come up with this myself! Of course, I assume it counts as defacing public property or something of that sort, so in that regard I am glad it was you and not me.

But seriously - thanks for putting a smile on my face.

This was just what I needed on Monday.

Sincerely,
Gerb

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What's For Dinner?

It had been a long time since I made Sweet and Sour Chicken for dinner.

I love this meal. Even though it takes a little more effort than usual, it is well worth it.

I gathered the ingredients and began to slice, measure, chop and mix.

Boy, did it smell tasty when it was finally ready to serve!

I dished up a serving for everyone, proud of myself for putting forth the extra effort.

I was a true domestic goddess!

As the kids gathered around the table, Princess looked upset.

"What's wrong, Princess?" I asked. "Why are you sad?"

No response.

Me: "You should be SO happy today because look! Did you see what I made for dinner? Do you know what it is?"

Princess: "Yeah. It is dus-gusting!"

Now I remember why it has been so long since I've made it.

I am the Domestic Goddess of Disgusting.

Friday, January 16, 2009

We're ROCKIN' !!

In a very uncharacteristic move, Allen and I decided to purchase a Wii for the kids for Christmas.

Only so we could also purchase RockBand - the most fun I have ever had in my living room!

It is so much fun to invite our friends over to play...
(I wish I could be pictured above, but someone had to be photographer)

I mean... the kids invite their friends over.

OK, they will. Eventually.

Because we totally bought it for the kids.

Totally.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guest Post: Mary Sunshine

Hello. My name is Leiannaconnaannaconnadonna. I was actually born on a small island off the coast of Iowa where my parents named me Mary Sunshine but that name was a little too... merry. Plus it was the same as my mom's name. So I legally changed it when I left home at the age of 14.

I have traveled the world in search of the perfect donut, sharing my accordion music along the way. Seriously, who doesn't totally love accordion music? And donuts? I know, crazy to even think about it.

On Tuesday I made it to this city in Utah where I had heard there was an amazing bakery. I was dropped off near an elementary school so I decided to check it out.

As I wandered the halls, I saw a sign that said "Literature responses due!" on one of the doors. I wanted to find out what that was all about so I stepped inside.

The teacher welcomed me to their class - he didn't call security or anything - and asked if the kids could ask me some questions to practice interviewing really amazing people who played the accordion. So I was like, "Yeah, no problem" because people are always fascinated by me and want to ask me stuff. I am totally used to it.
They asked me to play them a little polka so of course I obliged. They were completely amazed by my talent and I think I even saw a couple of kids wiping their eyes afterwards. I do that to people all the time so it didn't come as any big surprise.

Some of the questions the kids asked were weird. Like, "How do you feel about your music?"

I mean, hello! I play the accordion, kids. How do you think it feels? Obviously amazing.

And then one of them asked me why, at the age of 2, I chose an accordion over a car.

Again, it's an accordion. After I let the kid who asked that question get an up-close look at Baby (uh, it's not like I named my accordion but sometimes I call her that - you got a problem with it?) he totally saw the light and was like, "Yeah, I'd totally choose an accordion, too." And I was like, "Yeah, that's what I thought."
One kid asked if they could feel Baby. I was thinking like, "Are you totally kidding me? No way, junior!" but I got all sweet-like and said, "OK, you can all touch her with ONE finger later".
My favorite question was "What is your favorite kind of donut?" I had to try real hard not to bust a gut over that one. I mean, they're donuts. That's like asking a mom "Hey lady, which one's your favorite kid?" I tried to stay all calm though and named a few of the goodies: Boston Cream, Maple Frosted and of course donut holes.

One kid even asked what my favorite fast food restaurant was. These kids! So funny. I just named a couple - Dunkin' Donuts & Yum Yum Donuts. You know what I'm talkin' about? If it's a donut and I can get it quick, I'm pretty dang happy.

Well, all great things come to an end, and I knew I couldn't stay there forever, so I had to say goodbye. I gave them all a real treat and let them touch my accordion before they headed out to recess like I said I would.
I said ONE FINGER but some thought they'd be all funny and touched Baby with two fingers or even THEIR WHOLE HAND and I got a little persnickety but it turned out alright.

I polished Baby down real good after I left that place.

Next I'm heading to the Salt Lake City 'cause I hear there's some Dunford Donuts that taste real good up that way.

Oh yeah, I guess the teacher guy was pretty floored by my performance and the ambience I brought to his classroom and everything 'cause he totally wrote about it too. You should go check it out by clicking on those blue words. This computer stuff is pretty amazing.

Kind of like me and my skills on the accordion.

And donuts.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Music For Monday

When I am happy, I like to sing. Loudly.

When I am sad or upset about something I like to sing even more. And even louder.

The song does not matter, as long as I know all the words and can sing along.

Music somehow helps bring happiness to my heart or peace to my inner turmoil - even more so when I can belt it out, unabashedly.

It's a good thing it's winter and my windows are closed.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cinderella vs. Pixie

Want to see the coolest new toy, ever? Go check out my cousin Pottymouth's blog. Seriously awesome.

That was the inspiration for my showing you what I found on the day after Christmas...

Ever seen Toy Story? Apparently Lego Cinderella and the Pez Pixie were not getting equal time with Cowgirl and I walked into the room before L.C. had time to let P.P. out of her death grip.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

One Girl's Trash...

"Is that your treasure chest, Mom?" Hubba asked me.

"Not really," I replied, "It's mostly some junk I need to get rid of."

I had decided that it was a good day to clear some stuff out of this 'hope chest' my parents gave to me years ago. I knew it contained items that were important to me at one time or another but my priorities have changed dramatically since I was a teenager. I opened it up and stared down at the top layer.

Old VHS tapes? Those could definitely go.


Wait... it's a tape of the first 2 musicals I performed in? And a complete video of the (one and only) pageant I competed in? And some footage with my Dad in it? Hmmm... maybe they're keepers.

Holy cow - check out these pictures of me at school dances. I don't need these!
Well... maybe the kids would think they are fun to look at. Besides, check out my hair in this one! Classic 80's!
I can totally remember that I had to buy Jason that sweater to get him to go to the dance with me. Ha!

Here are these old, stained dolls. What do I need them for?


They were my favorites. That Holly Hobby was my only gift one Christmas. And those stains were from my 'feeding' them at every meal. Maybe I could try washing them. Maybe they're antiques? I better hold on to them.

How about this folder? I don't need my old church folder. Let's take a look inside first...
Wow- it's my camp patch and neckerchief! I worked so hard to earn those. I can still remember how I almost didn't pass off the fire-building or first aid. These are still pretty cool.

Alright, let's see - 2 pictures of me that people drew. Kind of fun. Old posters from the plays I was in? They don't take up much room. Cassette tapes? What in the world... No way! Trish and I singing Surfin' USA... I totally forgot about FunTrax in Westwood! I guess all this stuff is going back in...

OK, on to the bottom layer.


Those blankets are all worth keeping. And I can't throw out my yearbooks or my letterman's jacket. That has my name on it. I wonder what's in that little box?


The first book I ever wrote! I loved this - my Fashion Plates made the perfect pictures to illustrate it. I love the clothes I picked for the people who "just relax at home".

What the heck is this?


Oh yeah! I totally forgot that I own the magic whistle that makes me ruler of the seas! My friend Joe found it for me and wrote a story to go with it. I can't just toss creativity like that in the garbage.

Why am I keeping some piece of paper...

Yes!! Holly still totally owes me from my 17th birthday! I'll have to give her a call...

And look! PROOF!
I totally got an A+ in speech! Ahem... good thing I didn't keep any other report cards...

What's in this envelope? Old negatives? I can toss 'em. Well, let's check what they are first...



Oh - pictures from my theatrical makeup class. Hmmm... maybe I'll develop them and see if they're worth keeping.

In the end, this was all that got thrown away:


Apparently, I am something of a junk collector - or maybe just a sentimental softie. But either way, Hubba was right.

It is my treasure chest.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Who Is That Masked Family?

Cowgirl was sick yesterday.

She stayed home from school to (hopefully) recover from the last of her sore throat and cough while the other kids headed off for the first day back after Christmas break.

(I love when my kids stay home!)

As soon as the other kids were out the door she set to work on her plans for the day.

We all became superheroes.
I have always wanted to be like that mom on the Incredibles. Look, you can hardly recognize me!

Curly wanted a crown. Cowgirl was only taking orders for masks. They compromised.
She then made Hubba a Thomas the Train mask.
Princess requested a red mask.
And then, of course, Cowgirl made herself a cowboy hat-mask.
Sick days are awesome.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Choosing

My new "job" at church on Sundays is to teach a class of 4-year-olds in the Primary, the organization for all kids ages 3-11. I started yesterday.

The reason I have this new job is because Hubba is not a big fan of going to his class on Sundays. The thinking was that if his mom was his teacher, he'd go. Sounds reasonable, right? I thought so, too.

We underestimate Hubba.

I came prepared and excited for my first day with Hubba in tow. At first, he seemed excited.

"You are my chee-cher, Mom! You will be my chee-cher all the year!" he happily chattered on the way to the Primary room.

After 5 minutes of sitting on my lap, it started.

"Mom, let's get out of here."

"Where should we go, Hubba? I am your teacher now, remember? I am the teacher for the other kids, too. We get to be together all the time on Sundays now! Let's listen to the new song!"

"No, Mom, you don't look like my chee-cher no more. You're just a mom. Let's go to nursery."

(Nursery is the class I used to teach - the 18 months to 3 years old class. In nursery they have puzzles, trains, books and treats. Hmmm. Wonder why he likes it there.)

"Hubba, I am not in nursery anymore, and you are a BIG boy! Big boys don't go to nursery!"

"Yes they DO! And Primary is DUMB! And I want a DRINK!"

"Hubba, we will get a drink when we go to our class. Not right now."

And so on.

When we finally went to class, things started off well. The lesson was on choosing the right. The kids all sat in their chairs and listened well. Except Hubba.

Throughout the lesson he did all sorts of things.

He walked over to the light switch and flipped it off.

Then on.

Then off.

He tipped his chair upside down and sat on it, making train noises.

He kicked the divider that separated us from another class. Repeatedly.

At one point, he kicked the chair of the girl next to him. She raised her hand.

"Yes?" I asked, smiling.

"Hubba is kicking my chay-uh. I dough wanna sit by him any mo-uh."

Hubba sat in his chair again for about 20 seconds. In this brief window of time I passed out CTR rings. I told the kids they could look at them as a reminder to choose the right every day. Each child was excited and proud to wear one. Except Hubba.

He threw his at the window. Repeatedly.

And then it started. One of the kids in my class said, "Hubba! Choose the right!"

Another child chimed in, "Yo mom is tee-ching us to choose the wight! You are choosing the wong!!"

And another, "Look at your wing and wemem-buh!"

Hubba then proudly proclaimed (while laughing) "I don't choose the right! I choose the POOP!"


The way I see it, it can only get better from here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

Thoughts on self-portraits:

How do people take pictures of themselves? Every time I try, mine turn out wacky. Like too dark or too bright or you can only see half an eyeball. Or my nose is freakishly large.

Or I look like a female Skeletor.

How do people know they are in the camera frame when they snap the photo?

I am never in the camera frame.

Is there some secret the world is keeping from me? Is it because no one wants to see my picture?

My smile always looks fake when I take my own pictures. Maybe because it is sort of fake, unless I make myself laugh - and then my nose flares and I have to start all over again.

Thoughts on haircuts. Specifically, mine:

There is something magical about getting a haircut.

Yesterday marked a milestone for me - this is twice that I've had my hair cut in a span of 5 months. I usually go about a year, sometimes two, between visits to the salon.

Am I becoming vain?

Probably.

I finally realized (3 haircuts ago) that I don't really like my hair short. It doesn't matter how badly I want short hair. I don't like it on me.

Are people lying when they say my hair looks good short?

It may be too short this time.

I wanted it shoulder-length when curly. It's shoulder-length when straight.

I am nervous about how my hair will look when it is washed and curly.

I don't want people to pretend they like my hair.

I don't want people to not like my hair.

Why do I care what people think? Because I am human, that's why.

I will not have straight hair again until I get my next haircut. I don't have that kind of time or patience.

Maybe I will love how it looks when curly and always have it cut this short.

Maybe not.

Maybe.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My 15 Minutes of Fame

Don't get too excited... it was only in my friend Rebecca's dream.

But still, I performed with Donny Osmond! How cool is that? He's like the Mormon Michael Jackson. Hey, dream or reality, I'll take what I can get.

So today, for your reading pleasure, may I present (in her own words!) Rebecca's dream:

In my dream...  You came to my house, very excited to share the news that you had almost been privileged to perform with Donny Osmond! And even though the performance didn't work out, you did get a beautiful, flowing dress (it was brown with blue trim, and very 70's chic!) out of the deal. I was so excited for you. So was Doug. (Rebecca's husband, better known around here as D-Dog or Scoop Dougy-Doug) You led us (through the air--we can fly in dreams, you know) to the place where you were given the dress. It was his apartment complex lobby, in a big city. You put the dress on, and it was lovely, of course. You were lovely. And then...Donny himself came into the lobby to greet you. I pulled out the video camera to record (of course, even in my dream I had video issues and could only capture 30 seconds of it!) as you and Donny sang, danced, and signed "Soldier of Love" together, al impromptu. I was so impressed and wondered how he knew the signs, too. You guys were fabulous, performing together! The small crowd in the lobby cheered, and then Donny graciously got away and went back to his business (checking his mail or whatever). But as we went outside to leave, we ran into his lovely wife and she sat outside on the grass with us and chatted with us (at this point, you were the big celebrity, of course!) about her family woes. So I once again took on the role of paparazzi and went down the grassy hill a distance to take some still shots of you and Mrs. Osmond and your groupies. And darn it if I didn't have camera issues AGAIN! This time, it turned out I was holding the camera upside down and getting a glare in the pics. Silly me!

How do you like that? I flew! I had groupies! I wore a fabulous, flowy, 70's chic dress! And Donny Osmond knew sign language! (I'm sure he was tutored by his brothers, Virl and Tom.) Honestly, does it get any better than that?

OK, it would have been amazing if I sang an encore number, maybe a song from Newsies, with Christian Bale.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Happy Birthday and a Happy-Me-Day

I needed to start this new year out on the right foot. I have been a little grumpy lately and I don't like myself much that way. (I'm fairly certain my family doesn't enjoy it either.)

So because today is Princess' 6th birthday and because it has become a kid-created tradition to serve the birthday person breakfast in bed, I decided to go all out and make Dutch Babies (better known as German Pancakes) with fresh whipped cream and marion berries. With freshly whipped cream on hand I couldn't resist making a nice mug of hot chocolate for her, too.

The result? A happy Princess.
I have found that doing something nice for someone else usually helps pull me out of the pool of self-pity that I've been wallowing in. I don't usually want to do it - that's the difficult part. Sometimes I like having a pity party. But the good news is that I have never regretted it once the good deed is done.

And look at that sweet face... how could I still be grouchy with that around?