Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Little Boys

He's recharging.

Go Ahead - Make My Day

As I drove up to my house early this evening I saw a cluster of smallish people outside my front door.

When they turned and saw me they ran towards my car - and they weren't even my offspring. They were some of my favorite kids from our neighborhood.

"Hey, Sisto Bwack!" Super C yelled as he ran to me. "These are for you! For your birfday!" He and his brother, along with N~, handed me a bag filled with treats. "Thanks, guys!" I said. "This totally makes my day!"

"Guess what else?!" Super C asked with all the excitement that could possibly be contained in a 6-year-old body. "N~, do the bark!"

N~ looked at me with a sly grin and let out a few barking noises. "Can you be-weave it?!" Super C asked. "It sounds like a REAL dog!" N~ then turned to Super C and said, "Do the burps!"

Super C produced a series of quick burps-on-demand. "Isn't that awesome?!" N~ proclaimed excitedly. "It sounds like REAL burps!"

The treats were fantastic, but nothing compares to the method of delivery.

Kids. Are. Awesome.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Creative Writing

I will be the first to admit that I am partial to my kids' creativity. But this? This is awesome.

Hubba's kindergarten teacher gave this to me at parent/teacher conference last week:

In case you can't decipher it, it reads:

Where is my?
Hot DoG?
It is on my hed.

She asked the kids to write a short story and draw a picture to go along with it. She said that Hubba's was a class favorite. And how could it not be? It just screams Hubba - creative, funny and unexpected.

It makes me laugh every time I think about it. It is, in my biased opinion, the best short story - ever.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Unexpected Gifts

Music has always been a part of me and a part of my life in a large way. Somehow, the people who I become good friends with always seem to be people who share this passion for music. It is as if we are drawn to each other somehow. I like to imagine that perhaps there are two dimensions which co-exist in this world - the dimension where we all live and interact with each other as well as a higher dimension where people are uplifted, inspired, moved and influenced by music.

When I was a junior in high school I was a member of a choir called Aristocracy. The teacher, Mrs. Jensen, decided that for the last half of the year we would have 'secret pals' in this choir. The plan was for each of us to secretly leave small notes and gifts in a large box labeled "Secret Pals" for the person whose name we drew.

I was excited about this plan. I hoped and maybe even silently prayed that I would draw the name of my friend Debi because I knew everything about her and could imagine all sorts of perfect little surprises that I could gift her. But really, everyone in this choir got along well - perhaps because we co-existed on that higher, music-infused dimension, so I wasn't too worried about whose name I would choose.

I pulled a slip of folded paper from the bowl on top of the piano and went to a corner of the room where I could peek at the name of my secret pal. It was Richard Yu.

Richard was probably the most quiet and shy of all the members of Aristocracy - pretty much my loud, attention-seeking opposite. He mostly kept to himself so I didn't know much about him. Initially I will admit that I was a little disappointed to have chosen his name, but that quickly changed.

At first I did not know much about Richard aside from the fact that he liked to sing, so I would leave him things like candy bars and gum - you know, the sort of things that it was safe to assume most teenagers could appreciate. Eventually, as I watched him and got to know him better, my gifts became more personalized. He became someone I considered to be a close friend even though he did not really know much about me or who I was. I saw that there was more to him than was perceived in a glance.

One thing I loved to do for my friends was to share music. I would sit next to my pale pink radio with a blank tape in the cassette deck and press the record button when one of my favorite songs would play. Once the tape was filled with good music I would make a copy for myself in our dual-cassette deck stereo and gift the original to a friend. After one especially good weeks' worth of recording I decided to gift my tape to Richard.

I was so excited. This tape was definitely one of my best - it contained songs from Depeche Mode, REM, The Smiths, The Cure, U2, Pet Shop Boys and UB40. I wrote a note to him, explaining that these were some of my favorite songs, along with a 3x5 card which listed each song and artist. I watched the next day as Richard checked the secret pal box and picked up the gift I had left him. I wondered what he was going to think.

A week later I found something unusual in the choir room - a gift labeled "For Richard Yu's secret pal". I waited until everyone had left the choir room at the end of class and then retrieved my gift and quietly slipped it into my backpack. During lunch I opened the note taped to the top of the cassette-shaped package. It read,

Thank you for sharing your music with me. I want to share my music with you also. -Richard

The tape had a label which read: Beethoven. I wasn't sure what to think. This was definitely not my typical genre of music. In fact, I could not remember ever listening to any classical music before. I placed the cassette and note back into my bag and forgot about them until a few days later when another note waited for me:

Did you like the music I left for you? I would like to hear more of your music. Thank you, Richard

When I got home that day I listened to the music of Beethoven for the first time. And I cried. There was something so beautiful in the way that the music flowed and swelled. There was such passion and emotion in this music that I had never taken the time to listen to! It helped me to understand Richard on a different level, somehow. I made a copy of another one of my tapes, this one with more of a variety of music from artists like Cowboy Junkies, Michael Jackson, Violent Femmes, They Might Be Giants, Journey, The Church and Def Leppard. I wrote a note thanking him for sharing the classical music of Beethoven with me and told him that it brought tears to my eyes.

This became our method of communication over the remainder of the school year. He shared his music with me - pieces by Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Pachelbel and Handel - and I shared my music with him, everything from Anything Box to Morrissey to Oingo Boingo.

It was difficult to see him in the halls and not talk about the music he gave me. I wanted to yell out, "Richard! Vivaldi's Four Seasons is my new favorite! Thank you!" But I couldn't reveal who I was until the end of the year. I often wonder if he knew anyway because of the way I tried to include him more in what was going on with the choir.

When our choir sang at Disneyland that spring and were free to explore the park for the rest of the day following our performance we split into smaller groups. I noticed Richard was standing alone at the outskirts of the groups and pointed him out to my friend Debi. "Let's have him join our group," I said. "Hey Richard!" Debi called to him. "Come with us!" He smiled shyly and joined us as we walked toward our first destination, Space Mountain. We each took turns choosing which ride was next and when it was Richard's turn he said, "I don't know. I have never been here before." We were all incredulous. Growing up in southern California, Disneyland was a regular destination for most teenagers. We all pitched in and got him some mouse ears with his name embroidered on the back and had the best time enjoying Disneyland through the eyes of a first-timer.

On the bus ride home from our day at Disneyland I asked Richard what his favorite thing was. "The music!" he told me. "There was music everywhere!" I had never really noticed that before, but when I thought about it, he was right.

When the year came to a close and it was time to reveal our secret pals, I gave Richard a tape I had purchased called 'The Best of Disney'. We thanked each other for the music which had been shared. But really, how could I thank Richard for all that he had given me? The true gift was my new ability to see beyond stereotypes - in music and in people.

Richard and I have not stayed in contact over the years, but I think of him anytime I hear a now-familiar classical piece of music or discover a new artist that stirs my soul or when I befriend someone who I might have otherwise shied away from.

Richard, wherever you are, thank you.

(Look what I found on my friend Kendra's Facebook page! This was the day. Awesome.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Forget Reality TV - This Is My Life!

Some days, when I need a little bit of extra motivation to get a task done, I pretend I am a cocky contestant on a reality TV show called CLEAN! THAT! HOUSE!

Here's the latest episode...

VIMB*: GERB! We're so excited to have you back here on CLEAN! THAT! HOUSE!

Me: Happy to be here, VIMB.

VIMB: Are you ready for today's challenge?

Me: Bring it on, pal.

VIMB: Today you will be bringing order to the chaos that you call YOUR PANTRY! Let's take a look...

Me: No problem.

VIMB: Oh, but WAIT! You will only have 40 minutes to complete this task before you have to pick your kids up from school.

Me: Psh. I thought this was a challenge.

VIMB: AND! You must complete this task while attending to one crying baby and two rambunctious toddlers!

Me: Child's play, VIMB. I've got this one.

VIMB: We'll see about that! Ready aaaaaaaaaaand... GO!

(40 minutes later we have a full kitchen trash can, a sleeping baby, 2 toddlers enjoying a snack, a load of clean laundry in the dryer and this...)

VIMB: Amazing, Gerb. Simply amazing. How DO you do it?

Me: Determination, VIMB. Pure and simple.

VIMB: Tune in next time when Gerb faces her walk-in closet!

Me: Wait... what did I win?

VIMB: (chuckles) How could I forget? You get to use the bathroom WITHOUT INTERRUPTION for FOUR whole minutes!

Me: This is a reality show, VIMB. Don't toy with me.

VIMB: All right, all right. How about half of a Toblerone all for yourself? You can lock yourself in the closet while Curly and Little O finish their snack.

Me: Done.

*VIMB= Voice In My Brain

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quick Quips

"Bacteria are like cell zombies because they have no brains. That is, if you call a nucleus a brain."

"Sometimes I just forget to think."

"Every time a baby is born a mom turns into a milk cow."

(In a prayer) "And please bless that we can all be good so that God can have a good day today."

"Mom, I have more cookie?"
"But I soooooo cuuuuute!"

"I really want All-a-Boy to be with Jesus in heaven someday but he just keeps on following Satan. I'm going to miss him when I'm in heaven and I look down to where he and Satan are all hot and sweaty."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shout Out!

Today I present you with a list of people/places/things that I would gladly recommend. You know, just in case you were wondering.

On the Web:
I have always had the desire to get my family eating healthier - but there are so many rules I know we should follow and things I know we need to put effort into in order to really make this happen. It can be overwhelming and frustrating. Until now! A friend recommended this blog: Word of Wisdom Living. And it is AWESOME. It teaches you how to incorporate just one new rule for healthier living each week and has informative posts regarding why and how to do so. If I was only allowed to read one blog, this would be it. It has been an inspiration toward helping my family live a healthier lifestyle. Seriously, go check it out.

In my neck of the woods:
If you need a new insurance policy from someone who really works for you (I mean it - he actually answers his phone or returns calls right away!) then you want to call Sean at LA Bowen Insurance. Not only is he a genuinely nice guy, he works to find a policy that both fits your needs and doesn't break the bank. If there is any insurance you need (homeowners, auto, life, etc.) then Sean is your man. For reals. Call him and you'll see what I mean. You're welcome.

At the grocery store:
One of my favorite things to buy as a treat for myself is an Izze. What's an Izze, you ask? Only the tastiest drink around. Want to know what makes it better than a typical soda? Well, it's naturally sweet with no refined sugars. It has no caffeine, no preservatives, and no artificial flavors. It is 70% fruit juice with a splash of sparkling water. And it comes in an awesome array of flavors, my favorites being the Clementine, Blackberry and Pomegranate Sparkling Juices. If you've never had one, you're in for a treat.

When Tillamook cheese is on sale, BUY SOME. Trust me on this. Words can not do this cheese justice - it is in a class above all other cheeses. If you've ever had the pleasure of eating some, you will know what I mean. Now I need a grilled cheese.

*No one asked me to write this post or compensated me in any way. I just really, really love these people/places/things and think they deserve a shout-out. Plus I've seen these kind of disclaimers on other blogs and I thought it would make me look like one of the cool kids.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Being Cheerleaders

I love my neighborhood.

One of it's finest features, as in all great neighborhoods, is the people.

I have one across-the-street neighbor in particular who I have loved interacting with over the years. Initially it was just watching her as a smallish person, hearing the well-worn basketball as it would beat against the concrete while she practiced dribbling and shooting in her driveway. Ashley was an awesome little kid who was much more comfortable in tennis shoes, knee-length shorts and a Scooby Doo t-shirt than the other girls her age who wore cute bejeweled sandals and pink everything.

As Ashley grew older her basketball practice paid off - she played in some city leagues and eventually made it on to her high school's varsity basketball team. I don't think it's much of an exaggeration to say that she was the star... and we were all proud of our Ashley.

Well, Ashley grew up. She graduated from high school last year and signed on to continue playing basketball for a college in Colorado. Everyone missed Ashley - but we were in luck. Her team was coming here, to Utah, to play against two of the local universities! The excitement in our neighborhood was palpable. Ashley was coming home!

As my oldest kids and I walked into the game, we were thrilled. There, filling the stands for the away team, was Ashley's own personal cheering squad! There were signs! There were custom-made t-shirts!
Girls who had played basketball with her in high school, neighbors, family and friends all yelled and cheered our hearts out for #4. We talked to each other in excited tones over how amazing Ashley was and what a thrill it was to watch her play college ball. Any time she had the ball in her hands, her cheering section went wild. We jumped to our feet when she threw a pass. We pumped our fists and shouted for joy until our throats were sore when she made a shot. Any time she was on the bench we all screamed to put her back in. The crowd had a fever, and the only cure was MORE ASHLEY!!
The local university's team had never seen anything like it. There were more fans for the away team than there were for the home team. Why? Come what may, we were there for Ashley! She could do no wrong and we loved cheering her on through it all. TEAM ASHLEY!

Wouldn't it be awesome if each one of us had such a cheering squad? Can you imagine what it would be like if no matter where you went there was someone there to encourage you, pumping their fists in excitement and letting you know that they believed in you and knew you were capable of anything you wanted to achieve? I wonder what it would feel like to have such incredible support in everything you chose to do.

Hey! Why wonder? Why imagine? Let's do it!

If we could all offer this kind of acceptance, encouragement and unconditional love to our family, friends and even strangers that we encounter, the possibilities of what each of us could achieve are endless.

I'm the head cheerleader for team YOU.


Monday, March 14, 2011

That's How You Know

Each Sunday that I missed church over the last couple of months I have been presented with a Tootsie Roll from Hubba as soon as he gets home. The awesome family who is in charge of running the church library on Sundays always has a dish full of treats available for those who return their borrowed items - and for those who just want a treat. Hubba has stopped in there faithfully each week to get himself a pack of Smarties and the customary Tootsie Roll for his mom. (Because: chocolate! That's why.)

A few weeks into this new ritual I asked Hubba why he brought home a Tootsie Roll for me every Sunday. "Because I love you!" he replied in a tone that would suggest I was insane for not already knowing the answer.

Since the day of my accident I have had people bringing things over. Plates piled high with cookies and cinnamon rolls, get well cards and packages in the mail, books to read and other things to keep me occupied. We still had friends and family bringing us meals six weeks after my fall. I'm sure if I were to ask why so many people did these things for my family and I the response would have been the same as Hubba's. Because we love you! What an overwhelming feeling it is to really see and know how very loved you are.

I wish I had a Tootsie Roll for every one of you.

You don't have to ask. You know why. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


pic found here

Last Sunday was the day we took our new little one to church for the first time so that he could be blessed and properly shown off to the members of our congregation. It was also my debut appearance at church since breaking my leg and dislocating my ankle - and I am embarrassed to admit that I was nervous about it. Why? Because I walk funny. I ultimately decided to show up with both crutches rather than let others see my limpy gait.

It really bothers me that this bothers me, but it is what it is. I do not want others to feel sorry for me. I do not want my friends to avert their eyes when they see me coming because they feel uncomfortable or do not know what to say. It seems ridiculous, I know. But these feelings of insecurity started when I went grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago.

Because I am still unable to drive myself anywhere I asked my eldest man-child to chauffeur me that day. We got into the store and I crutched my way over to the motorized shopping carts, knowing this would be the only way I could complete my shopping trip. I could see that Coolister was a little... I'm not sure what. Uncomfortable? Embarrassed? I'm not talking about your typical that-is-not-my-mother look. He generally revels in my zaniness. This was something different. It immediately disheartened me.

Throughout our shopping trip I noticed how people would look away when my eyes met theirs. I tried to remember if it had always been that way before, but no - I distinctly recall making eye contact with strangers and smiling or nodding or saying excuse me when I squeeze my cart past theirs. I'm not saying that I've always recognized each and every person I encounter while grocery shopping but there is usually a general rapport among the shoppers in the aisles. Nothing earth-shattering, just a basic acknowledgment of each other in the frozen foods section. People were not doing this today. Somehow my wheelchair/shopping cart had made me invisible.

It made me wonder if I have acted this same way? When I see someone who is different in some way do I recognize their existence with a nod or a smile? Or do I look away, feigning sudden interest in the price of canned pineapple to hide my discomfort? I don't think I do, but I don't know. I've never really thought about it before.

I think that what I am really trying to say here is that I am not my handicap. I am not Gerb the Gimp. Well, I am, but I am also still me, Gerb, mother and wife, bargain shopper, people watcher, experimental chef and quirky writer, roller skater, book addict, aficionado of baked goods and lover of music and happiness.

And I am not invisible.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quick Quips

"I'm going to dress up for the science fair because it makes me look more intelligent."

"I wish people would pay me money instead of compliments."

ElemenoB: "I have the car in drive, but it won't go forward."
Me: "You'll have to let off the emergency brake."
ElemenoB: (Lets off the emergency brake.) "It still won't go forward!"
Me: "Well, you're going to have to actually start the car before it will drive anywhere."

Little O burps. "I farted in my mouth!"

Me: "What does apple start with?"
Hubba: "A!"
Me: "What does snake start with?"
Hubba: "S!"
Me: "What does car start with?"
Hubba: "A key!"

"Why does this ball say 'CHINA' on it?"
"P-cuz that is where all balls are made. That's what they do in China."
"So.... China is like Santa's workshop?"
"Yes. The elves live in China."