"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Living a Faery Tale

How long have you known me? Do you know about my obsession with myths and folklore? Do you know that my daughter is named after my mythology professor from BYU? I have more than a passing interest in all things fairy tale. In fact, if you ever come across a good re-telling of a fairy tale, please let me know! (But I've already read lots of them...)

I also have another obsession - well, several, really but this post is just about these two. James Christensen. He's an artist and specializes in the mythical and fantasy genres. His work is incredibly detailed. You will discover something you didn't notice before every time you look at one. Fortunately, he is local artist, which means I've actually had the pleasure of meeting the man! I went to a seminar he gave at a local art gallery about finding your inner imagination. He showed scraps of doodles he did while waiting in line, at a doctor's office or during church meetings. I'd love to sit behind this guy at church and watch what he comes up with! It was a great experience. A few months after, I saw him at a restaurant and about hyperventilated. Then there was the segment on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where a Utah family had a little girl and "local artist, James Christensen" used his trademark style to make a painting of the little girl into one of his fairies. The parents' comment? "Oh, hey! That kinda looks like you!" They had no idea what they had.

So why am I rambling about fairy tales and an artist? Because my husband loves me. For years, seriously...like 10 years...I have coveted a James Christensen piece. They aren't exceptionally expensive but I am so incredibly impulsive that I didn't want to buy the first one I got my hands on only to regret it later when something better suited came along. So I've waited. Waiting, combined with my husband's irrational fear of punching holes in walls, has left my walls utterly bare these many years. The local gallery probably got sick of me coming in and ogling the Christensens they had. But I had my list. Ten works of art that I was desperately in love with and dreamed about owning some day. Guess what, my dear reader? Today is that some day!

This is Faery Tales. My favorite. I've loved this one since the moment I laid eyes on it, when we were poor college students with no budget for artwork. It's a compilation of fairy tales, all mingled and strung together for one picture. Love it, love it, LOVE IT! And it's mine! Had to hold our breath, as there were only two available for purchase. The first one was recently sold. But we got the second one! Last night we went the gallery, where we approved the canvas and chose the frame. The frame is pretty cool, too. It's made from burl wood. It looks unreal, itself, so goes great with a picture of fairy tales.

While we were looking at the canvas for my beloved art, there were a stack of smaller canvases, featuring another of the talented Mr. Christensen's work. These had just recently sold out, so were now being sold for twice the price. It, too, was another one that made me smile whenever I saw it.

It's called False Magic. Floating fish are another one of Christensen's trademarks, meant to signify that there is something special there. Obviously, this one isn't like the real floating fish. And that's why I love it. Reminds me that I don't have to pretend to be something else, that I have my own floating fish, whether anyone else sees them or not. The art dealer gave us a great deal on it and we couldn't resist. So in a little more than two weeks, find a reason to stop by my house...you will get to see them up close and personal.

On the way home, I couldn't stop smiling!

Me: Admit it.
The Man: What?
Me: Come on, just admit that you love me.
The Man: (boyish grin)
Me: I knew it! You love me.

And then we held hands.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

FHE: My Secret Weapons

You may have noticed that there's been a shortage of Family Home Evening posts lately...sorry about that. Last week, there was da Boo's preschool graduation on Monday (I still haven't downloaded all the pictures) and since we were there as a family, we totally counted it. This week was Memorial Day. We had the traditional family BBQ with the Co-ed and Aunt Denise. Lots of fun and lots of food: burgers, hot dogs (PB&J for the Boy), watermelon, striped jello, Brazilian lemonade, salad, and roasted pineapple...still working on the leftovers. And I got a big bag of corn on the cob - only to completely space the fact that I wanted to serve it. It's still sitting in my kitchen, looking a little sad and lonely. Maybe I'll buy a bunch of bananas to keep it company.

Instead of detailing our riveting evening, I am going to share a few of my secret weapons. This is where I go when FHE starts in 10 minutes and I don't have a lesson planned.

SugarDoodle - Usually my first stop if I have a specific theme in mind. She gives such great information and tells you lots of different ways you can go about it. There's no definite, structured lesson so you can pick and choose. This is great for small kids who have the attention spans of the common fruit fly.

Each topic is separated out into different categories, like stories from the scriptures about your topic, poems, activities, printables, etc. You are going to find something that is just what you had in mind. I've never clicked away from this site empty-handed.

This is also my favorite when trying to get ideas for Activity Days. And there's clipart! I love clipart!

fhe4children Yahoo Group - This is a priceless resource! You have to register to join but these members are the best I've ever seen. Do you have a certain story in mind but only remember the general plot? Is there a poem that fits your topic but you can't remember the title? Just post! Within a few moments, you will have responses and links, if not the actual information. I tell ya, ya can't stump 'em!

Now, this is the main group. For more files and lessons, sign up with fhe4childrenfiles2 as well as fhe4childrentreats for some great themed recipes. Found a cool recipe for a rainbow cake that I'd really like to try next time we learn about Noah's Ark.

LDS.org Primary Manuals - I was the Sunbeams' teacher for two years. Luckily, I kept my lessons and handouts in a binder. I used one just this past Sunday when I was asked to substitute. Lesson prep took me all of 10 minutes. These are also handy for my own kids, since they are pretty young. The Primary manuals give you great ideas for finger plays, songs and games to fit your lesson. They also have some pretty spiffy handouts that are simply click and print. And then there's the whole FHE manual on there...

What happens if you don't know the Primary songs your kids are requesting? Well, you could fumble through the words a few times...or you can visit the lds.org website and look it up! Go to Church Music and search for the title or lines from the song. Most songs you can get in mp3 format. There's the option of printing the sheet music, listening to the vocals or just the music. Quite a handy little piece of software when da Boo kept demanding to sing a song we'd never heard of before.

So there you go! Hope these help you out with your next Family Home Evening. And if there is something that you like to use, please share!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Man Jobs

This is the conversation the Man and I had while getting ready for our Memorial Day BBQ.

The Man: Can you get the propane tank refilled?
Me: I have no idea how to do that.
The Man: Just remove the tank, take it to the station -
Me: What?
The Man: It's easy.
Me: I can't do it.
The Man: Why not?
Me: Because that is a Man Job.
The Man: A what?
Me: A Man Job, something the Man is supposed to do. I can't do it.
The Man: (extensive rolling of eyes)
Me: Tell you what, I will birth the children and you refill the propane tank. Deal?

The whole conversation got me thinking about the Man's role at home. There are certain tasks that are undeniably his; I just can't do them. True, there are tasks that are all mine but we need not bring out the femi-nazis amongst my lurkers. Instead, let's talk about Men.

They have the Man Cold and Man Caves. They definitely have Man Jobs. For instance: Bugs. I have been known to not use a room for an entire day simply because I saw a spider in there (and don't tell me that they can crawl under the door! I don't need to hear that!). It is the Man's job to dispose of such unwelcome guests. Agreed?

Cold feet. I got 'em. I had it written into the Marriage Contract that I would be allowed to warm my frozen tootsies on his warm, hairy legs. If he shrieks and squirms away, he is in direct violation of said Contract and is no longer entitled to the benefits and privileges thereof. See? You give a little, you get a little.

Strange noises in the night. I get to cower under the covers - I mean, keep the blankets warm - while he goes in search of the weird sound. And really, let's just blame this one on genetics. Men are bigger and stronger, it's a proven fact. This is one of those times that I don't mind being dainty.

Unloading the groceries. The Man hates grocery shopping. Never liked it. I don't mind it, especially because it usually means I get to be out alone. If I spend the time traipsing around the grocery store, then he should help by unloading the groceries from the van for me. I'll put them away (if I ever want to find anything again), he just needs to use those big strong muscles and haul them inside.

Anything that involves the use of tools. And really, it's not because we don't know how to do these things (my dad taught me well) but we should let them have a little fun every now and then. What puts a smile on a man's face faster than strapping on a tool belt? Changing light bulbs, tightening faucets, replacing the deadbolt that your toddler dismantled while you were in the shower, or rescuing your earring from the sink drain. Good times.

Let's not forget the other jobs: car maintenance, lawn care, only person in the household allowed to pass gas without excusing themselves, and sleeping during church. These are the strenuous obligations of being a Man.

So what are some Man Jobs around your house?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

SOS: Internet Dating

Once again, joining in on Soap Opera Sunday, hosted by the lovely Walking Kateastrophy this week. Read my previous entries here and here.

How many of you cringed from the bad memories brought back by that title? Come on...I know I'm not the only one! Two of my siblings met their spouses through the Internet, even. I wasn't that lucky.

Back when the Internet was new and innocent, I thought it was so much fun making "friends" online. We'd chat for hours and then exchange emails when not on at the same time. Some made it to phone calls and a select few I met in person. Wanna hear about the first one? Of course you do! Because here you are, reading my blog and giving me complete control over it's content. Silly you.

I met Darrel online. I am pretty sure we met in an AOL chatroom because that was the only place to go and chat those days. He was smart and I liked being around smart people. Also? He laughed (or LOL'd) at my jokes, so he was practically perfect, right?

He was a little older than me. I was just starting my first semester of college and he was a junior in college. We went to different schools but our parents lived fairly close to one another so we knew about the same places. He told me where he worked and I told him that I didn't have to work (because I was a spoiled little Daddy's girl). He was studying computers and I was studying flirting - uh, I mean, communications. We both roomed with our best friends from high school. He was not LDS but remembered seeing a commercial once. I was a good little Mormon girl. Oh so much in common.

We talked for weeks, then months. Emails and on the phone. He was on the shy side but I always liked that about guys. Too many wallflowers suddenly found themselves at the center of my attention. I probably scared them. Darrel was amazed at my habit of starting conversations with perfect strangers.

"How do you know what to say?" he asked, bewildered.
"I usually start with a question, something that fits the situation," I shared my vast knowledge so freely.
"Like what?"
"Well, in grocery stores, in the freezer section I'll ask them what's their favorite flavor of ice cream."
"I could never do that," he replied. "I'd be too embarrassed if they didn't say anything back."

Not answering my innocent little question? Unthinkable! In fact, it had never happened to me. I was cute.

Then came that fateful day...we had talked about meeting face to face for a while but never could get our schedules lined up (and I had a boyfriend so I kinda avoided it). But then I switched colleges in the middle of the year, left behind my full-ride scholarship and my boyfriend, changing to Darrel's university, as it was the closest one, which allowed me to live at home. I was free again and starting a whole new chapter. Shortly thereafter, Darrel mentioned he had to work on a particular Saturday. Well, that day, it just so happened that my BFF and I were out driving around. We just happened to be in the same area as Darrel's illustrious job at Best Buy. I convinced my friend to stop...I had to see what this guy looked like! And besides, I was looking cute that day and wanted to take advantage of the fact. We would sneak through the store, trying to find him and then bail if he wasn't a cutie. No harm, no foul, right?

Inside the store, I scanned name tags on every remotely cute guy we passed on the way to the computer department. No Darrel. Back amongst the computers, there was a hottie with streaked hair and I have to admit, my hopes rose. Unfortunately, his name was not Darrel. But being me, I just had to strike up a conversation. Darrel was still nowhere in sight and I could only hang out amongst the PCs and monitors before someone got suspicious. So I enlisted Mr. Hottie's help. I asked him if he knew a Darrel that worked here. He said he did but Darrel was in the back, hardly ever worked on the floor. Oh. Then I explained why I was there. The look on the guy's face should have tipped me off, especially when he looked me up and down and continued to look surprised. But he offered to page Darrel for me. He wasn't subtle. Darrel knew immediately who was waiting for him. So I tried to look nonchalant and at home amongst the motherboards when really I was starting to regret this decision.

Then Darrel showed up.

I don't think he ever described himself to me, other than the basics: brown hair, brown eyes, average height. And those were the high points. His hair was already thinning on top, despite his young age. While he wasn't overweight or covered in pimples, he was not cute. Not at all. And the first thing he said to me?

"Hey, what's your favorite flavor of ice cream?"

So smooth.

Mr. Hottie watched my reaction carefully and gave me a pitying smile.

"I always wondered what one of these meetings would be like," he said, when I could not find anything to say to Darrel, the real Darrel, not some imagined one that I can constructed through all those sweet emails.

I left shortly thereafter. I think my friend probably laughed the whole way home and I don't blame her. What was I thinking? I still talked to Darrel but I didn't flirt anymore. We even saw each other on campus a few times and I interviewed him (over the phone) for an article I wrote for the student paper. However, I promised myself no more meetings without getting a photo of the guy first. But I still didn't swear off the whole "we met on the Internet" idea. Silly, silly me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Product Review: Sesame Street Fizzy Tub Colors

Anyone else tired of the bath time wrestling matches? Anyone else have a child that willingly plunges themselves into the nearest outdoor puddle or plays in the sink until everything within six feet is drenched but then shrieks in terror at the mere mention of a bath? Yeah. I was kinda sick of it, too.

Me, I love baths! When we bought this house, the one thing that I was adamant about was that the Master Bath have a jacuzzi tub. I have spent many a relaxing moment in that tub with music, candles and a mug of hot chocolate. It's exactly what I need when stressed out, at the end of my rope, dealing with a painful situation or all of the above. And the jets are loud enough to drown out the pitiful wailing of neglected kids as the lay crying outside the bathroom door.

My children have not inherited this love of the tub. Da Boo doesn't mind baths. She likes them more now that I let her wash herself and told her she could pretend to be a mermaid, but they are not her favorite thing. But the Boy...well, the Boy we refer to as "the Kraken." For good reason. The Man usually has to give the Boy his bath, seeing as how he has two working arms and can better contend with a slippery escapee.

Then my long-lost good buddy, Kate, posted about something new on her blog: Sesame Street Fizzy Tub Colors. Her kids were even more afraid of the tub but would jump right in when there were funky colors. I wanted to try that! On my last grocery store trip, I found them! They were on the shelf with the other kid-themed bath washes and such. Couldn't wait for bath night!

The Boy got to choose first, since he's the first one in the water. They come in blue, red and yellow. He wanted yellow.

Ewwww...it was a little disconcerting, that yellow color in my bath tub...Da Boo chose the red tablet (it looked purple in tablet form and took some convincing before she believed me).

This is the tablet when I first dropped it in.

About a minute later...

...and after the tablet was fully dissolved, which didn't take very long at all and kept my kids completely enthralled the whole time. It actually looks like a pretty pinkish-orange.

The kids loved having the colored water! There is a warning on the container that it might irritate eyes but they did not seem to have a problem, happily splashing like mad. It did, however, turn the white washcloth a slightly pink color. I expect it to come out in the wash as the color is very subtle.

Like I said, I got this at the grocery store, paid less than $3 for 24 tablets. Kids loved it and it really calmed down the whole bath/wrestling situation. So mission accomplished! Highly recommend, especially if you have a little one afraid of the tub.

If you try this, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What he heard...

I said: "Go clean up the toy room while I make your lunch."

He heard: "Go find random things to dress up in so when I call you for lunch and you show up looking like this, I'll have a good reason to eat chocolate all afternoon."

Last night we went to da Boo's preschool graduation. Pictures coming! Fighting some allergies and hate having to wipe off the computer monitor every few minutes.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

SOS: Date From Hell Part 3

We join our story, already in progress (Part One and Part Two) as our heroine battles Mole Boy in a darkened theater. Will she come out unscathed? Or will she succumb to his insistence that she must kiss on a first date?

We got to the movie early. Of course. And there's nothing more pleasant than sitting in a darkened room with someone who keeps trying to put the moves on you, while praying that the projectionist will accidentally start the movie 30 minutes early so this punk will get distracted and leave you the heck alone.

What makes his efforts all the more irritating was the fact that he kept making more sexist remarks about what he knows girls like. For instance, all girls like to share the big bucket of popcorn so they can hold hands with their dates inside it. Really? The idea of clinging to someone else's greasy hand doesn't appeal to me. I'd rather stuff my face with all that salty goodness...with my own bucket, thank you.

This was a new theater. It had stadium seating, back when that was a new concept. Also, the armrests on the seats could be pushed up to allow for the ultimate snuggling experience. Or to make room for larger bottoms. I was hoping against hope that Mole Boy did not know about this little feature. He did. As soon as the lights went down to start the show, he went for the armrest, my last defensive barrier. Dang it.

The movie was The Mirror Has Two Faces. It starred Barbra Streisand. I don't like Babs. Her music is okay but she is sooooo incredibly full of herself that I just never cared for her (gay men everywhere are deleting my blog from their blogrolls in horror at that statement). The plot of the movie: Ugly woman hates herself, hates mother. She meets a cute guy who wants a relationship but without the complication that intimacy brings. She agrees. She falls in love with him, he refuses to sleep with her. He leaves on a long trip, she loses weight, dyes her hair blonde, learns how to use make-up, and changes into a uber babe. He returns and is so smitten with her that they must immediately consummate their sham marriage. Or something like that. But Barbra was the director and just couldn't make herself look as frumpy on film as her character was supposed to look. And she's in about 99% of the shots. It was the worst movie I'd ever been forced to watch on a date (with Six Days Seven Nights a close second...but that's another story).

So there I am, wedged as far as I can go in my seat, watching an impossibly stupid movie, eating no popcorn (because I re-fus-ed to put my hand in that bucket lest he take it for a sign), with Mole Boy pressed up against my left shoulder. At least he wasn't on my bad shoulder. But he was laying his head on my shoulder and he hair smelled like WD-40 or something else I'd find in a garage. Awkward much?

I went to the bathroom twice during the movie. Didn't really need to, just wanted away, get some fresh air. The second time, I considered having a friend pick me up and just leaving him behind. But that would be mean. So I opted to endure to the end.

As soon as the credits started rolling, I peeled myself away from him and nearly dashed to the car, with my injured pinkie toe urging me to run faster. He drove me home, scarcely believing that I did not thoroughly enjoy the "girl movie." Like a good boy, he walked me to my door. And like a good girl, I thanked him for the evening. Might have hurried a little too quickly to get away from him because he was getting that look. All girls know that look...the one that a boy gets when he really wants to kiss you and is just waiting for the moment. I did not give him an opening. When he started to lean in, I kept my head turned away, so if he attempted a kiss, he'd get my ear. Didn't help that my porch light really brought out his moles.

I ducked inside with one last "goodnight" and quickly closed the door behind me. Finally! I intended to celebrate the conclusion of that misery with a big slice of my birthday cake. But alas, the anguish was not over: someone ate the rest of my cake! That's what I get with three brothers and a sister still living at home.

He still emailed me. I just acted like the girl he thought I would be and didn't get the hints that he wanted to see me again. He showed up at a few dances and asked me to dance but by then, I was seeing someone new so my new crush got most of the dances. Mole Boy finally took the hint after a few months. He's not a quick one, I'd say.

And just to prove how cold-hearted I am...the reason I refer to him as Mole Boy is not to protect his true identity but because I can't actually remember his name! Paul? Michael? I got nothing.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lips Sealed

So I haven't been posting all that regularly lately. Wanna know why? Well, first of all, there were lots and lots and lots of cakes to decorate (and another version of an old one).

Plus? I have a secret. I am horrible at keeping secrets. I'd rather tell you but first I need to make sure of a few more dates...but I really, really wanna tell you! So whenever I sit down to write up a post, all I can think of are different ways to share my secret. And that just won't do. You'll have to wait just a little longer but I promise I'll tell you soon, okay?

How do you keep secrets? Or are you as bad as me at that?
Do you have a secret you want to share?

(And please, if you already know my secret or have a good guess DON'T SAY! I will delete any comments that reveal or hint at it to save the surprise for everyone!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

FHE: The Lie Monster

We don't really have an issue with lying around here (unless the kids ask if I've been eating chocolate). It was da Boo's turn to teach the lesson so we were looking through some online resources, I was reading the titles and she thought "the Lie Monster" sounded the best. Of course.

Opening Song: Once There Was A Snowman (such a break with tradition but the Boy likes this song).

Opening Prayer: I volunteered.

Lesson: We talked a little about what a lie is and why someone would choose to lie (keep from being punished, not hurt feelings, etc.). We lost the Boy at this point...he missed his nap and everything was making him sob so we pointed him in the direction of Time Out until he could settle down. We resumed the lesson.

I read The Lie Monster story. Tommy first tells a lie to keep from getting into trouble for eating chocolate chips (I understand his dilemma!). Then he finds himself lying to cover his lies, lying to himself and blaming others for his problems when it is his lies that are to blame. With each new lie, his Lie Monster grows and eventually Tommy is no longer a happy boy.

Da Boo was in charge of the pictures and did a pretty good job adding the tentacles to the monster after each lie Tommy told. When the story was over, we talked about how the Lie Monster had gotten bigger with each lie. Then we discussed what Tommy could do to shrink the monster back down: tell the truth, apologize, try to be nicer, etc. I made sure to explain that sometimes telling the truth can be a really hard thing and we might want to tell a lie instead. We should never lie because Heavenly Father has asked us to always be honest. If the kids were older (and not throwing a tantrum), I would read them the 9th Commandment and explained what it meant by "false witness."

Closing Song: Choose the Right.

Closing Prayer: Da Boo.

Treat: Scoop of chocolate ice cream. I could say that I served these in my little black ramekins on purpose, to make them look like Lie Monsters but really, I just wanted chocolate ice cream. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Book Tag

The Ward Family tagged me for this latest meme. It's been a while since my last one so why not?

The rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book (at least 123 pages).
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Find the 5th sentence.
4. Post the 5th sentence on your blog.
5. Tag 5 people.

Okay, the nearest book was the one I just finished reading today: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.
"It seemed like a century."

Not a very interesting sentence...but not that interesting of a book, either. I liked it but it's not going to make my list of favorites.

So, people I tag are: Wendiloo and Kristin ('cuz they are my friends on GoodReads so I'm sure they're reading interesting books), Jo, Caroline and Angie P (because I'm nosy and wanna see what they are reading).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

SOS: Date From Hell Part 2

My attempt at finding humor in the train wreck that was my dating life for the sake of Brillig's Soap Opera Sunday. Find Part One here. If you haven't already read it, you might want to or you might not understand the depth of my horror.

So there we were, driving along in what could only be loosely deemed a "car." I noticed he was heading for an area known for it's many restaurants and gigantic movie theater. Cool. Some of my favorite dining establishments were located there. Maybe this wasn't so bad. But just in case, I did a mental check to make sure I remembered to put some cash in my purse. It would fit in with the beginning of our date to have him "forget" his wallet.

We arrive and park at the very back of the huge movie theater parking lot. There wasn't an actual reason for this. There were plenty of spaces a lot closer to the box office. Perhaps he didn't want anyone to ding his cool paint job. So we walk toward the movie theater and he asks me what kind of movies I like. Well actually, he didn't ask. It was more of a statement.

"You like girl movies, right?"

"Girl? Movies?"

"Yeah, with lots of kissing and stuff."

"Well, I like all kinds of movies," I respond, trying not to notice that my shoulder is throbbing from wrenching that blasted door open. "Sometimes a good explosion is better than lovey-dovey stuff."

He scowls at me. Seriously. Furrowed brow and everything. Seems I am not fitting into the mold and I should be ashamed or something.

We get to the box office and he gets two tickets to a movie starting in two hours. TWO HOURS. With this guy. If he makes me sling open that car door one more time...And it's a "girl movie." Oh joy. But our hike is not over. He declares it to be time for dinner and heads back into the parking lot. I follow, acutely aware of the fact that my shoes, while totally fab and looking great with my outfit, are rather uncomfortable in situations where taking more than 10 steps is required. I don't remember the small talk as we walked. But I do remember my pinkie toe was whimpering pitifully by the time we crossed the median that separated the movie parking lot from the restaurant.

And the restaurant he chose? Wait for it...

Red Lobster.

Did you read Part One? Did you read how we met? What started our conversation? Because apparently I was the only one who was there or something. Obviously this guy was staring so deeply into my lovely eyes (or cleavage) that he didn't hear a word. I walked all the way across the mile long parking lot for Red Lobster? Now my pinkie toe really did cry, along with the rest of me.

Since I had to sit in that stinky place with Mole Boy, I would make it worthwhile. I ordered the steak! And the table conversation was weird. He again started making all kinds of statements about how he believed women to be and then seemed absolutely flabbergasted that I would negate his core beliefs. For instance?

"I bet you kiss on the first date."

"Uh," I managed while trying not to choke. "Actually, no, I don't."

"You probably hate sports."

"No, I really love hockey," I replied, but my efforts to discuss the Dallas Stars brought only blank stares.

"Then you must be a huge fan of poetry."

"Only Shel Silverstein." (I don't think he knew who that was because he smiled smugly, having conquered my go-against-the-flow thinking.)

If ever there was a lapse in the conversation, he would chant "Um, um, um..." while snapping his fingers, no doubt trying to come up with his next sexist generalization. At one point, I'd had enough and excused myself to go powder my nose. While looking for the ladies' room, I spotted the courtesy phone. Immediately, I dialed my best friend and proceeded to tell her all the awful details. While she tried to commiserate with me, she was leaving on her own date. I still managed to kill about 20 minutes before I decided I had to go back and see this to the bitter, bitter end.

When I arrived at the table, he immediately jumped up and was ready to go. Ooookay...as I put my jacket on, I noticed there was no tip on the table. Mole Boy didn't have a credit card (another one of his assumptions, that no one our age would have one and of course I did). Surely he wouldn't stiff our waiter...

"How much did you tip?" I asked as I walked as slowly as possible.

"I never tip," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand, still trying to guide me by my elbow out the door.

I stopped. Despite my height, I can hold my own pretty well so he stumbled right into me when I wasn't moving in the direction was leading me. I opened my purse, pulled out a ten and left it on the table, never even looking at him once. Then I marched out of the restaurant, leaving him and his long legs scurrying to catch up. I always over tip. Only if the service is absolutely horrible will I consider leaving a small tip, and then I've usually asked to speak to the manager.

Next came the long walk back across that immense parking lot. My little toe was begging again, but this time it was asking to kick him. As we walked, he kept trying to talk. I wasn't really in the mood for conversation so he got mostly grunts in response. Bet he thought girls didn't grunt.

Then, about halfway across the asphalt desert, he asks me a question, possibly the first one of the evening:

"Would you like to take my arm?"

I almost tripped. Then I almost laughed. Didn't help Mole Boy that was on my right side, where my shoulder don't work so good. And after wrestling with his car door, was in no mood to be wrapped around anything.

"Why?" I asked, "What's wrong with it?"

I smiled and kept walking, causing perhaps just a little more space to open up between us.

This post is getting long...I didn't realize there was so much pent-up bitterness after this date. So we're going to have to wait until next week to see what happens when Mole Boy doesn't get the hint.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Letter To Me

I listen to Country music. Not all the time, but enough to know some of the good songs. I really like the musician Brad Paisley. He writes some hilarious songs and some very poignant ones. The new one that's popular right now is Letter to Me. It's a song where he writes a letter to himself at 17. He gives advice on lost love, future mistakes and just knowing there is more to life than missing out on a Friday night bonfire.

If I could write a letter to me and send it to myself at 17...

"Dear Jess,

I won't call you Jessie because I know how much you hate it, even though you don't say.

Now, Jess, I know you are cute and fun and have a lot of friends. But please, for the love of all things dark chocolate, stopping shaking your butt so much! Really. I'm not kidding here. I won't tell you to stop chasing after the boys because honestly, those skills come in handy when you finally find the right one.

Pay attention in class. Just because you're smart doesn't mean you don't have to try. And stopping kissing up to your French teacher instead of actually doing the work. It's embarrassing how little French you know after three years!

Eat your vegetables. I'm not saying you have to lovingly devour a salad with every meal but a serving of green stuff isn't gonna kill ya! Enough with the whining and get to it.

Today is your birthday but not a very happy one...you started back at school after missing a month, started physical therapy (which you call physical torture) and you are losing your boyfriend. He doesn't treat you the same way. A lot of people don't. They think you're broken. Cancer isn't contagious so you don't understand why they act like that. You think something really is broken, that you will never have a normal life, never live your dreams. But I know better. I know that this is just the beginning. I know what a strong person this experience will make you and I know how many others you will help because of it. I also know that this is not the end of people treating you this way. Don't give up on yourself. You've got so much ahead of you. You are not broken.

Another thing, listen to your parents. I know...I know...seems like they just want to limit your fun but, Jess, they know what they're talking about. And try to pay attention to your mom. When you have kids of your own, the whole situation will completely boggle your mind and the only thoughts keeping you sane some days will be the good memories of your childhood. The Mom-thing is tough and she does a great job. Maybe you should tell her that more often.


Cherish the friendships you have, especially those three wonderful girls that willing spend time with you despite your different faiths. They are great people and you don't want to lose that friendship. They keep you centered. Wouldn't hurt to hug Stephanie a few extra times, too."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

FHE: How Does Your Garden Grow?

The weather over the weekend was simply beautiful! The kids took advantage of good scooter/bike weather to get in a few laps around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, today, things turned stormy, with a fairly decent thunderstorm hitting while we were in the library. But Monday was gorgeous.

The landscaping crews have been out, getting the yards ready for spring. As part of the process, they've turned the sprinklers back on. So there we are, moms chatting on a back porch, kids running through the grass or riding bikes when BAM! The sprinklers go on! We chuckle a little and step back. But then I see da Boo...she's in the center of the grassy area, completely trapped by sprinklers everywhere she looks. She's terrified, frozen to the spot, so our shouted directions for her escape go unheeded. I did what any good mom would do: I laughed at her. And then I ran through the sprinklers and helped her get out of there. At least I wasn't wearing white...not Memorial Day yet.

Family Home Evening was pretty laid back that night.

Opening Song: Everyone say it with me now...Twinkle Little Star.

Opening Prayer: Da Boo volunteers.

Lesson: We headed out to the back and got down in the dirt. In an attempt to actually get our gardens going this year, we were weeding and pulling out grass. Well, the Man and I were doing that. The kids were harassing a poor worm, spider and a slug they found while playing in the dirt. While I was half tempted to show them what happens when you pour salt on a slug, I resisted. Da Boo probably would have burst into tears. I'll show the Boy when he's a little older.

We stayed outside until it started getting dark. I ushered the kids indoor, where we washed hands and then got a treat.

Treat: Mighty Minis. They are these cute popsicle I found recently. It's your basic popsicle flavors in different forms but they're only about two inches long. Quick enough for small kids to eat so you don't get multi-colored drips all over the floor. They are also my major bribing factor right now. Any special task is rewarded with one of these little guys. They're pretty tasty, although I think they all kinda smell funny.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


My kids were in serious need of haircuts. Da Boo could hardly see with her bangs hanging in her eyes and the Boy was growing a lovely set of curls that, while they made me want to rub his head constantly, might make strangers questions his gender. Luckily, I happen to know some amazing women who cut hair and who live right here in my neighborhood! Off we went to Jessica's house to shed a few hairs.

Some before shots:

Poor thing wonders why everything has a yellowy hazy to it.

Can't you just see yourself winding your fingers in these lovely locks? So sad to see them go...

Da Boo, being the bravest, was the first one in the chair. This is Jessica cutting their hair. Let's pretend that's what I look like, shall we? Same name, same dress size, right? And no, she didn't get all dolled up in anticipation of the photo shoot for my prestigious blog. She always looks like this. Always. I need to take this girl more brownies...

The Boy was a little less excited about his haircut. The first half was spent with me sitting in the chair, firmly holding him in place. Then Jessica, the brilliant person that she is, gave the Boy a squirt bottle...he was in heaven! And he got to squirt it! At Mom! What could possibly make a boy happier?

As soon as we got home, da Boo wanted to put in a headband. Jessica not only tamed those bangs but she gave Boo some light layers so her hair falls nicely in the back.

The Boy still was not convinced he needed to be put through that torment...until I let him climb the stool and check out his new do in the mirror. Sigh, no more curls to fiddle with.

Thank you, Jessica!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Party in the Sand

Saturday was the Boy's birthday party. We delayed it two weeks because the Man was going out of town and he actually wanted to be there. So I made plans, invited friends and crossed my fingers that we'd have nice weather.

Since I've been at death's door all week, I had a minor freak-out on Friday afternoon when I realized the party was less than 24 hours away and I had done nothing for it. I didn't even have all the stuff to make the cake! So I left the kids with a sitter and dashed out the door, madly searching for party supplies.

Luckily, I had ideas and pretty much knew what I wanted to do. I saw a really cool sand castle cake in Family Fun magazine (everyone who loves this magazine, please raise your hand!) and decided to use that as the theme. I had sand toys for party favors along with a bag of the Boy's favorite candies and a bottle of bubbles. I only invited four of the Boy's friends because I didn't think I could handle more. I am getting to the point where if I don't feel the need to invite every child in my kid's age range to the party, just the ones with whom he has playdates. Also, the Co-ed and the Man would be there to lend a hand, should I need to cough up a lung. Aunt Denise is our family videographer and would record the events for posterity.

When the kids arrived, we tossed bean bags into different sized sand pails. No points or a winner, just lots of hurling of bags and cheering like crazy. I made the bags by quickly sewing together scrap fabric and stuffing them with dried pinto beans. They didn't have to be fancy and they only had to last one afternoon.

The kids had a difficult time with the whole "taking turns" issue but I kept them moving fast enough that pretty soon, it wasn't a problem. The Co-ed was there to show them how it was done.

After that game, it was time for cake and ice cream! To see a better picture of the cake, go here.

Here's the Boy blowing out the candles. And he didn't even spit on the cake this year! My baby is growing up! After cake, came presents. I asked for no toys (we have way too many) so he got lots of puzzles, which are his current addiction, and pjs. The gift from Mom and Dad was a three-wheeled scooter with helmet and pads. He'd wear that helmet to bed, if we'd let him.

After presents, I gave the kids their sand toys and we headed to the backyard. I had borrowed a neighbor's sand box and let the kids have at it.

To keep the party mood going, I set up a bubble machine. Pretty soon, the Boy found another use for his shovel: bubble popper. This machine is called Gazillion Bubbles...and that's what we got! I've never seen such a cloud of bubbles!

Even Aunt Denise got in on the bubble action! We ran out of bubbles after about fifteen minutes but luckily, I have a ready supply of bubble solution on hand, as every mother of preschoolers should.

Parents came and gathered their sand-covered little ones. The Boy went down for a nap (blessedly) and the adults tried their hardest not to crash, too.

I really wanted a nap but had to get ready for Sunday, when we would celebrate Quatro De Mayo with family. See, Sunday wasn't quite Cinco de Mayo but we still wanted an excuse to have lots of Mexican food. We had fajitas with the fixings, fruit salad, grilled pineapple, homemade salsa (my first attempt and actually pretty dang good) and guacamole with chips, Sangria (non-alcoholic version), and flan for dessert. It was fun! Might be a new tradition.

By the way? Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

SOS: Date From Hell Part 1

This is my second attempt at Soap Opera Sunday, hosted by Brillig.

Looking back, I would still go through with this date. I've enjoyed telling this story too many times to skip the actual experience of that dreadful evening...

When I was cute and single, I went to a LOT of dances. In fact, I started going to them when I was 15 and my older sister wanted me to go with her. I loved them! Any chance I had to meet cute boys and I was totally there.

One fateful evening, I was enjoying chatting with my gaggle of friends during a dance. We were standing close to the refreshments table. And if you have never been to a YSA dance, let me just say that you didn't go for the food. Usually, the food wasn't that great: bowl of starlight mints, chips and maybe lukewarm water with lemon slices floating in it. Nothing fancy. So we were commenting on the lack of variety in the offerings. Okay, we were mocking the dance committee for their lame choices. We decided we could come up with much better selections such as crackers with cheese, root beer floats, toasted brushetta, cherries jubilee, baked alaska! At some point, someone suggested a shrimp cocktail. I responded in the negative, announcing that shrimp was horrible.

"You don't like shrimp?"

The voice behind me was male so I turned. He was kinda cute and very tall. I turned around the rest of the way and gave him my undivided attention.

"Nope," I declared. "Pretty much don't like any seafood."

"I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't like shrimp!"

And thus, the conversation began. It stretched out into a few slow dances. As the dance concluded, I happened to be out in the hallway when I saw him again. And please, I beg you ladies to warn your single friends and younger sisters: if you initially meet someone in a darkened room, make sure you see them in the light before you dance the rest of the evening with them. Because in the light, this boy was not so cute. And covered in weird moles that I didn't see before. But I had already promised to give him my email address and he had come to collect. Dang it. Turns out that I gave him the wrong email address, left out one number. And I swear I didn't do that intentionally. At least, I don't think I did...maybe.

Anyway, he discovered that the email was wrong and with the help of the owner of the incorrect address, was able to find the correct one (dang college directories and their helpful staff...). Some of you know I am a bit touchy about grammar. I also happen to have an unnatural love of punctuation. And not using all caps when typing. This guy wrote entirely in caps with not a period, comma or semi colon in sight. It was brutal just to read his email, like translating a foreign language.

From the first contact, he said wanted to see me again. I mentioned the next dance. He suggested sooner than that...like that weekend. That weekend? Oh boy...that weekend happened to be my birthday. But since I didn't have any other prospects, I agreed to a date on my birthday and I tried to ignore the feeling of dread that started in my stomach.

I should have been watching out the window...really, I should have. If I had, then maybe I would have seen what he drove up in and then I could have hid, not answered the door, pretended he had the wrong house. But I didn't watch. It wasn't until after I had locked the door and was following him down the walkway that I saw his car. Normally, I don't really care what kind of vehicle a guy drives. The minivan I have now is about the coolest vehicle I've ever owned so I wasn't about to mock others. But this car...well, this one helped me realize that yes, a guy's car does matter at some point. This was an old fashioned muscle car and might have been pretty cool, but for a few major flaws, like the fact that windshield was taped together in several places (with different colors and types of tape) and the paint color...well, there was no paint so the color was "primer."

Being a romantic kind of girl, I waited for him to open the door for me. And he did...by using a pair of pliers that he pulled from his pocket. Instead of standing aside so I can get in, he looked rather apologetic.

"The driver's side door doesn't work," he explained and this being a first date, I didn't make mention of the fact that the passenger side door wasn't looking so good, either. "I have to slide in from this side."

He folded his lanky self and slid across the seat easily enough. It was obvious that he considered this to be normal. I got in next, sitting on a car seat that only barely met the requirements. Then I was supposed to pull the door closed behind me.


I can't really use one arm and this door was heavy! I am tugging as hard as I can but the thing ain't budging. He tried to be helpful and suggested I use both arms. I probably gave him a dirty look. I finally managed to swing it shut but it didn't close properly. I had to use his pliers to pop it back open and try again.

And? My seat belt was broken. Of course. I had to hold it across my shoulder so that is looked like I was wearing a seat belt, should an officer of the law take notice of this wreck on wheels. This date was not off to a great start. Surely things could only get better. Right?

Stay tuned next week for "Date from Hell Part 2."

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mr Hyde's Potatoes

Normally, I makes great potatoes. They are a pivotal player in every good meal I've served. My favorite is the browned potatoes that are slow-roasted in the oven with the Sunday roast. I get all drooly just thinking about them. So normally, my potatoes rock. Tonight was not normal.

I waited until the last minute to make dinner, realized that my menus ran out a few days ago and therefore had nothing planned. Since the Man is just returned (YIPPEEEE!!) from his loooong business trip, he was not at all in the mood for takeout. Fine. I usually cook most nights anyway.

So we had grilled chicken, corn and garlic potatoes. I used real potatoes, mashed 'em up good (by hand, thank you very much) with butter, sour cream, seasonings and garlic. Normally (apparently I like this word today) I use dehydrated garlic but my mother has introduced me to jarred garlic. It's in the produce section: little glass jars of minced garlic. It's great! And it's very powerful. I just bought a new jar and they didn't have my usual brand. Now I'm just making excuses...Anyway, I added the normal amount of garlic and commenced with the mixing. I thought it was a little...uh, fragrant but since getting sick, smells aren't really my thing. So I served it up, thinking I'd made another lovely potato side dish.

The Man took one bite and nearly gagged. Turns out, they were more like "garlic with a hint of potatoes" than the usual garlic potatoes. Not so tasty. Da Boo didn't like them, either. The Boy was happily eating his PB sandwich and didn't care. I could only handle one bite. Ugh!

Note to self: highly fragrant garlic means very, very powerful flavor.

Shows how much the Man loves me. He had taken a big heaping helping (because NORMALLY my potatoes rock) and managed to eat half of them. He's my hero.

Also? Today was the Boy's birthday party. Still recovering...post to come (and a cake!).

Speaking of the Boy...the kids went to bed an hour ago but that doesn't mean they are asleep...In fact, I was just frantically summoned to the Boy's room with pleas of help, saying he has a basket stuck on his head...this ought to be good...

What dishes have you ruined just in time for dinner?
What crazy things have your kids done when they were supposed to be asleep?

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