Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Intact or Circumcised?

My beloved and pregnant sister just found out she's having a boy. Yea!!

Of course, now she is starting to debate over the circumcision issue.

I know lots of you who read my blog have boys of your own.

How do you feel about circumcision? How did you decide?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Am Such a Slacker!

Some of my devoted readers may not yet know that Brent was let go from his job about a month ago. The financial industry, as I'm sure you all know, is suffering right now, and his bank had 10% layoffs. His job was made redundant and all his duties absorbed by the parent company, based in NYC. We got a very generous severance package, and Brent already has a new job lined up; they're just not quite ready to take him on yet (it's with a new bank currently in organization).

So basically Brent's Christmas bonus this year was several months paid vacation, rather than any sort of monetary supplementation. We're not complaining, because the gift of time is just as valuable in my ways.

My problem is that ever since he came home full time, I have turned into a total slacker. I am guilt-ridden about this, because as a woman and a mother, I am usually full of guilt for one thing or another. We have to have an excuse for all our self-loathing, right? :)

Brent is SuperDad and SuperHusband. He cooks. He cleans. He feeds the baby and lays her down for naps. He entertains her and plays with her and takes care of her so I can lay about moaning or go out to lunch with my mom.

I have completely lost my routines that used to be so grounding for me. I feel lost every day, knowing what I should be doing, but not finding the motivation to do it. In the past, when Brent went to work on Monday morning, it sort of felt like I was going to work too. I immediately started bustling about, full of productive energy. Now I sit listlessly wishing I had the self-discipline to fold the laundry.

In other news, I had my first prenatal appointment a couple of days ago. My midwife is wonderful and I'm so excited to go to her. She was rather surprised at the size of my uterus, and thinks I'm further along than I do. I keep really good records on my calendar and know without doubt that I'm 12 weeks along. I told her that, but she still thinks something is up.

She recommended that I have an early ultrasound to measure the baby and see what technology says my due date is. Because we all know that technology is infallible and much more accurate than the human brain, right?

There are eight sets of twins in my neighborhood, so I told Brent that there must be something in the water here and I'm having twins, which is why my uterus is measuring large. Oh, I hope I didn't just jinx myself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Little Fig

In case I haven't told you yet, I've got a new life growing in my belly.

I don't feel pregnant yet. I just feel sick. I suppose the inability to sleep, frequent urination, omnipresent nausea, intermittent vomiting, and continuous fatigue that I feel should clue me in, but it still seems kind of unreal. I suppose it won't really feel real until I feel the baby moving around.

First visit with the doctor tomorrow, and hopefully we'll hear the heartbeat. Yea!

According to my baby has left the embryo stage and is now fully considered a fetus. Oh, I'm so proud of it! This week it is the size of a fig. I kind of miss when it was a blueberry or a kumquat. Saying "My baby is the size of a fig" just doesn't have the same ring as "My baby is the size of a kumquat."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why Are People Jerks?

Yesterday I was stuck in traffic on the freeway. Apparently a tanker full of propane had rolled at a major freeway interchange, and traffic was backed up on all freeways for miles as a result. In fact, the propane was leaking and local residents were being evacuated.

As I sat at a near standstill for an hour, I appreciated that all the hundreds of people on the road were being patient and courteous. Mostly. After a while I saw an old rusty truck drive up the right-hand shoulder, passing everyone. That made me mad. What makes him so much more important than the rest of us that he can't wait his turn too?

Five minutes later a BMW and a Lexus came zipping by on the shoulder. A semi saw them coming and pulled out into the shoulder to cut them off, forcing them to wait in line just like everyone else. I admit I internally began to cheer. The BMW driver started honking and swearing and acting like a complete idiot. I think it took him a minute to realize that the truck driver was doing it on purpose. At first he just seemed annoyed at the truck driver's obvious incompetence. Then as Mr. BMW realized that the truck driver was trying to prevent him from being a jerk, he became even more of a jerk.

As he gesticulated wildly and offensively, Mr. Lexus calmly rode further onto the shoulder, completely off the pavement and onto the dirt and grass (that dropped down at a 45 degree angle) and passed both the BMW and the semi. I found myself hoping that he'd get stuck in mud as he tried it. Alas, he made it around fine. Then Mr. BMW did the same thing, only he included more honking and rude gestures as he passed the truck.

So my question is, what gives people such a sense of entitlement that they permit themselves to act in such a fashion? Why is this acceptable behavior to them? It is arrogant, thoughtless, rude, mean-spirited, and selfish. What is WRONG with people? Why do we let them get away with it? I can't wait for Karma to make its rounds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seriously, so blessed!

Do you ever

  1. Mentally take a red editing pencil to friends' and family members' emails or blog posts?
  2. Laugh or cringe at some blogging friends' overly enthusiastic writing style? (Oh my gosh, seriously, life has been SOOOO busy lately, but SOOO great too! I just love my hot hubby, he is the best EVER!)
  3. Do you believe that text-messaging spelling trends are an abomination? (U R so HOTT!)
  4. Enjoy a good satire?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then I have the blog for you. It's I don't know who writes it, but it is a scarily accurate satire on the entire mormon mommy blog culture that has cropped up. It makes me laugh. It makes me wince. It makes me wonder if my blogging is full of exaggerated happiness rather than truthful expressions of the good and the bad in my life.

I do believe in finding joy in simple things, counting your blessings, and being content with what you have. Hopefully I do those things. I equally hope that I don't write in any way like Tamn (the author of Seriously, so blessed!) does.

Enjoy the blog. It's hilarious.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bad Grammar

My mother just sent me a funny email, and I wanted to share it with you.

She said she just heard Obama say "President Bush invited Michelle & I to the white house." My mother thought: NO! We are not going to have bad grammar right off the bat, are we?

We certainly got more than enough of that with Bush, right?

I'll consult the Magic 8.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Magic 8 Really Works!

I just asked the magic ball if Obama would win, and it said "It is decidedly so." Just a few minutes later, he was declared the winner.

Spooky. It really is magic. Maybe it will tell me that I will become independently wealthy someday.

So What Did You Do on Election Night?

I watched the news and blogged.

I sat on the floor in the office and blogged while Brent surfed ebay and listened to disco.

I helped my daughter practice walking.

I have to say that it's nice to finally have the election over, after two years of anticipation. It's been a big one, and hotly contested. It's been exciting, and finally we're done and can move on.

Regardless of who you voted for, at least we can now look forward to next January when W. leaves office. Anyone want to come to an End of Bush's Administration party? Anyone?

About Brent

I got this off Jaclyn's blog, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to write about my husband.

1. Where did you meet your husband? We met on a blind date. Thank you Noels!! And yes, they can work. It's amazing how you can go on a hundred terrible blind dates, swear them off forever, then agree to ONE more. Then you go to lunch one day, and it changes your life.

2. How long did you date before you married? About 7 months. We were engaged just after 3 months. I knew he was the one after about 2 weeks. When you've been looking as long as he and I had, it doesn't take you long to spot the real deal when it comes along.

3. How long have you been married? Just over 3 years.

4. What does he do that surprises you? I don't know that he does much to surprise me anymore. Perhaps the way he continues to tell the same bad jokes to me over and over.

5. What is his best feature? His dimple. Whenever he flashes me a smile with that dimple showing, I'm putty. Not to mention the rest of his Adonis-like physique. Drool. I have one hot husband.

6. What is your favorite quality of his? How hard-working he is and how much he loves our Jenny. I love to watch him playing with her.

7. Does he have a nickname for you? Sexy Lady.

8. What is his favorite food? Italian. (Real Italian, not the Olive Garden, which doesn't qualify as Italian.)

9. What is his favorite sport? Poker. (They play the world series of poker on ESPN, so yes, it is a sport.)

10. When & where was your first kiss? On our third or fourth date, in his driveway. I knew he was going to make his move that night, and I wasn't ready for it yet, so I was avoiding eye contact with him during the goodbye scene. Once we made it off the porch, I thought I was home free, but once I was sitting in my car, he rallied his courage. I gave him a tiny peck and shooed him off. Then I called him back and gave him a proper kiss. Then he said "That's what I was looking for."

11. Do you have any children? One daughter, 18 months old, and as adorable as they come. Can I brag about her too?

12. Does he have any hidden talents? He makes great carbonara. And he is fantastic at Krypto.

13. How old is he? 35

14. Who said I love you first? I'm not sure. He told me that every time he kissed me the song "I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of?" would run through his head. Does that count, even though he didn't say it flat out? I replied "Well, I know I love you." So I suppose it depends on your definition.

15. What is his favorite music? 80's Rock, I suppose. He also likes Mozart's operas, U2, the theme song to Rocky, and Con te Partiro.

16. What do you admire most about him? His devotion to his family and his sense of duty.

17. What is his favorite color? Red.

18. What's his favorite movie? He claims his top 5 are Casablanca, Life is Beautiful, Patton, Stand By Me, and The Mission. He also likes Reuben and Ed, and if you have seen it, I'm sorry.

19. What's his favorite song? Why is this question here after #15? He says he doesn't have a favourite song. Maybe Pet Shop Boys "Opportunities" except he says that he's got both the brains and the looks. Either that or "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." ;)

20. On a scale from 1 to 10 how romantic is he? Hmm. In the old sense of the word, not at all. In the typical American sense of the word, um, a 4? He is not spontaneously romantic. But when it is time to be romantic (holidays, anniversaries, etc.) he always comes up with something way better than me. He always gives me a massage when I ask, and he likes to cuddle during movies, and those are both pretty romantic to me. Plus he often does the dishes, and that is VERY romantic. Just ask any housewife.

21. Are you glad you married him? Yeah. I guess I'll keep him.

Tag to anyone who wants to brag about their husband.


Jenn tagged me on her blog to post the fourth picture in the fourth file on my computer and explain it.

Personally, I don't think it needs much explanation. I just really love Jenny's bed head in the mornings, and frequently photograph it.

I tag Jaclyn, Emma, & Shelley.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

For Your Fortune-Seeking or Just-Wasting-Time or Feeling-Nostalgic Pleasure . . .

I have put a magic 8 ball on my sidebar. Now whenever you visit my blog you can ask the mystical 8 ball for guidance and truth.

I loved the magic 8 ball as a kid. I never had one of my own, but I always got very excited when someone else had one and I could play for a while. It was always very good for ascertaining if a certain boy liked me or not.

Yes, it's a waste of time. Yes, it's cheesy. However, it is also fun. So enjoy! What is it that you want to know?

Friday, October 31, 2008

After Hours of Grueling Labor . . .

Here are our pumpkins. Or rather, since you can't see the actual pumpkins, here is the light shining through the negative space on our pumpkins.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

For Your Viewing Pleasure

I realize that I haven't posted any pictures for a while. I know that some people don't like to read unless it's a picture book, so if that is you, here you go.

I think she looks like a child from the 80's with the side ponytail she's got going on.

Now I'm off to go carve pumpkins.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Primary Program

Today was the Primary Program in my ward. I have the luck of being the Primary Chorister, so I got to help with the madness.

Yesterday was our final practice and pancake party.The children got to put an assortment of toppings on the pancakes before devouring them. Some of their options were mini chocolate chips, Halloween sprinkles, maraschino cherries, whipped cream, syrup, marshmallows, toasted coconut, etc. It sounds disgusting to me, but the kids really enjoyed it.

During the practice I had Brent be my assistant. I gave him a helium balloon with a really long ribbon. I told the children that the balloon would float higher the louder they sang. If they sang too loud, it would hit the ceiling. If they weren't singing loud enough, it would sink. They had so much fun watching that balloon. We have a really high vaulted ceiling in our chapel, so they tried hard to sing it to the top.

On one of our songs the teachers sing a verse by themselves. While they were singing they all had their eyes on their music, rather than on me or the balloon. Brent started pulling the balloon lower and lower. Pretty soon all the children were snickering, and as soon as they joined the adults, the balloon shot right back up.

Today they did as well as I could have hoped. They were adorable of course, and just enough things went wrong to be funny for the congregation and make it not only spiritual, but entertaining as well.

I'm so glad it's over and I get to finally teach some new songs!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Madame Butterfly

Last night Brent took me to the Utah Opera's production of Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. It's always fun to get dressed up, go out to dinner, and then to the opera. Brent really enjoys it too. Usually when I tell people we're going to the opera they make some comment about how I must have guilted, persuaded, or otherwise tricked my husband into going. Actually, it was Brent who suggested that we attend the opera together, that first time we went when we had just met.

Brent took some sort of opera appreciation class in his undergraduate years at the U. He learned four Mozart operas in depth, so he is very familiar with those four, and willing to learn about others. (He is VERY excited about Marriage of Figaro coming up this season.) That doesn't keep him from dozing off now and again during the show, but he enjoys it nonetheless.

I've been rather dissatisfied with the Utah Opera the last few productions I've seen. The worst was a couple years ago when they did The Magic Flute. The woman who sang the Queen of the Night aria was TERRIBLE. She was totally off key on the super high part. I don't know if she was just having an off night, but good grief! She's supposed to be a professional and I paid good money to hear that aria and NOT cringe during it. But I digress. Back to Madame Butterfly.

I won't bother putting in a synopsis here. If you like opera, you likely already know the plot lines of Madame Butterfly, and if you don't I'm sure you'll likely look it up. If you don't like opera, then you've probably stopped reading this post a long time ago, so it doesn't matter anyway.

The production of Madame Butterfly was lovely. The playbill (as pictured here) was stunning. The set perfect. The costumes beautiful. The performers were perfectly adequate. Their acting was good, their singing was good. Their performances left nothing wanting, technically. The soprano who played Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly) was very good, but her voice didn't transport me during the famous aria "Un bel di" as I might wish.

However, the adequacy (and one might say mediocrity) of the performers couldn't mar the beauty and near perfection of Puccini's writing. Madame Butterfly is certainly one of the most tragic of all operas, and you feel such pity for the naive Butterfly, even from the very beginning. As she sings of that "one beautiful day" when her beloved husband, B.F. Pinkerton, will return to her after a three year absence, you feel so sad for her. You, as the audience, realize that Pinkerton does not love her and has no intention of returning to her, which makes her faith, love, and devotion all the more moving as you listen to the soaring melody.

Of course the end is tragic, and I usually am crying at the end of tragic operas. Last night, however, I was sobbing for a good part of the last 30 minutes. I won't go into details, because I could never do them justice. Let me just declare that only a woman who passionately loves her husband and desperately loves her child could feel so affected by this opera. After the final heart-wrenching moment I was almost shocked at the amount of grief I felt. The curtain dropped, and suddenly rose again for the applause. It was such a jarring shift of emotion. It took me a couple of minutes to calm down and stem the tide before I could join in the applause. I think the curtain should have stayed down for a full minute or so, just to let the ending sink into the audience a bit.

I'd recommend going, but it has sold out. So sorry if you wanted to see it. "No soup for you."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Make-Believe Words

I was just leaving a comment on someone else's blog, and the word verification to input before submitting my post was "jwidgyy".



It feels like a real word to me, albeit a strange one. I love it! Can it be my new catch-phrase?

"That's so jwidgyy."
"Jwidgyy THAT!"
"You're such a jwidgyy."
"Jwidgyy THIS!"
"Let's go jwidgyy."
"I feel jwidgyy."

Can't you imagine all sorts of definitions for it?

Here are other words that are not words that I use:

Floopy: To feel slightly incoherent with accompanying dizziness, a sense of drunkenness, and general fuzziness of the brain and other faculties.

Gurgly-wurgly: To feel rumblings in you tummy and other general digestive upset.

Schmanki-han: What's up? How's it going? What are you up to? How are you? A general term for inquiring about someone's wellbeing.*

Schmanki: An abbreviation of "Schmanki-han." Kind of like "s'up" for "What's up?"*

Schmank: A derivation from "schmanki-han" that is used as a noun to greet the other person. Rather than asking "Schmanki-han?" (How are you?) you say "Hey Schmank" as a term of endearment. Only to be used with sisters or good friends with whom you have a close and joking relationship.*

Paduwan: I'm not certain of the spellings of this word, but it indicates a young Jedi in training. I refer to my baby as Paduwan, although when I began using this word I thought I had made it up as a random nickname. I don't remember who clarified the origins of this non-word for me, but I thought that the official definition is quite fitting for my wee one.

Do you have any non-words that are part of your vernacular? (And please, no words made up by the author J.K. Rowling, such as muggle, quidditch, snargaluff pod, etc. These I consider to be real words, although they are newly added to the lexicon.)

* Spellings and definitions are open for further clarification by the inventor of these words, a Ms. Emily Bailey. See for further illumination into the workings of her mind.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Love Flylady

Maybe you know who Flylady is, and if so, feel free to stop reading now because I won't write anything you don't already know about. In case you have never heard of her, let me enlighten you. My dear sister Shelley told me about Flylady, and she has changed my life, so I'm just passing along the favor.

Flylady is a woman named Marla who lives in NC. She started a yahoo group that was for women who wanted help with organizing and cleaning their homes. She sort of picked up the torch from "The Slob Sisters" and has added to and adapted their methods for us "SHEs" (Sidetracked Home Executives). She went from a little group of a handful of members, to her own website, an online radio show, and 500,000 members. She tours all around the country having "Fly-fests" visiting her flybabies (members, apprentices, what have you) in her efforts to bring help, motivation, and peace to everyone and anyone who cares for their home.

Her system is all based on routines. You build routines, make them habitual, and soon you'll find that your house seems to clean itself. She is all about babysteps. Here are some of my favourite flyladyisms:

"You can do anything for 15 minutes."
"You can't organize clutter. You can only get rid of it."
"Housework done imperfectly still blesses your family."
"Your house did not get dirty in a day, and it's not going to get clean in a day."
"You are not behind. Just jump in where you are."

Reading Flylady's daily emails has changed the way I think about housekeeping and the way I do it. I'm far from perfect, and I'm sure I'll never be so. But her system makes sense and helps and inspires me.

So if you suffer from disorganization, excessive clutter, or simply don't know how or where to start, check her out.

Thanks to her, my bathroom is almost always clean, my dishes are almost always done, my floors are often vacuumed, my bed is nearly always made, and my front room is never more than 15 minutes from being "company ready". Oh yeah, and I always stay on top of my laundry and never have to search for clean underwear. May you know the same blessings.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Favourite First Lines

Here is a short list of my favourite first lines from some classic novels. (And yes, I've read them and personally selected them, rather than just copied a few from some list I googled.) Can you name the references?

1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

This line is a favourite not just because it is from one of the best books ever written, but I found it so applicable to my own life when I was single, in search of a husband, and thinking "Doesn't anyone get it? I'm the total package here! Are all men blind?"

2. All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

I like this line because it is so true. There is one way that leads to happiness, but many diverse ways to unhappiness. It reminds me of King Benjamin teaching his people in Mosiah 4:29 "And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them." How cheerful. Now that may be a discouraging thought, but as I contemplate the one right way to happiness, I feel peace in the simplicity of the course I should follow.

3. There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

I love taking long walks. My favourite time of year to take walks is in Autumn when there are leaves on the ground that I can crunch beneath my feet. It is so satisfying. After that would probably rank summer nights, after dark, when it's still warm. It's so peaceful and restful and solitary. Delightful. I dislike the winter because it's too cold to walk outside comfortably for any length of time, and I miss my meanderings.

4. Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

I love the concept of afternoon tea. I unfortunately come from a time and place that doesn't participate in that custom. I occasionally have little tea parties just for myself. When I was a girl I would have tea parties where I would serve water and cinnamon toast cut into strips. Cinnamon toast may be delicious, but it is a bit prosaic. However, if you cut it into long strips it becomes a delicacy proper to afternoon tea served by a seven year old girl.

5. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

This is an excellent quote as it makes me think of my own father and his inestimable wisdom. He taught me many things in my youth, and continues to. If I'm ever in need of advice, he is the one to whom I turn. He is the one that taught me how to find solutions, how to look objectively at a problem, how to think through all factors of an equation.

The next line of the quote is just as excellent: "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

One of my many advantages in life is having the father that I do.

6. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

This line is great just because it's so evocative. It paints a vivid picture that I quite like.

That's my list for now. I can personally recommend every book it references. If you don't know them, feel free to ask or make use of your favourite search engine.

Anyone have any other lines they'd like to add?

You Know You Have Fibromyalgia When . . .

you have a multiplicity of odd and/or painful symptoms that cannot be explained. Such as:

  • Muscle aches everywhere, always.
  • Shaky leg syndrome.
  • You're tired. Really tired. All the time. Simply blowdrying your hair wipes you out.
  • You can't sleep.
  • Unexplained pain. Today it's in your shoulders. Next day it's in your calves. Who knows where it will be the day after that.
  • Headaches. Oh, the headaches.
  • Tender pressure points. Not just tender, but like "HOW DARE YOU TOUCH ME THERE, YOU INSENSITIVE, HORRIBLE SADIST?"
  • IBS. If you know what that stands for, then you probably have it and I'm sorry. If you don't, well then, lucky you.
  • Various and sundry other symptoms that are strange and not easily catalogued.
I'm not trying to complain here, and usually I don't even like to discuss my health with anyone other than my mother or sister. But I'm now experiencing a new symptom that is rather strange, and I feel the need to share. Strange symptoms are par for the course when you have FMS, but this is something other. Something is going on here. I'm not sure what.

My sister who also has FMS has an uncanny talent for describing our symptoms with almost poetic accuracy. I wish you could hear some of her descriptions. This new development I doubt she has experienced, so I'll do my best to describe it without her assistance. Emma, if you know what I'm talking about, please let me know so I don't think I'm going crazy.

Everything I eat tastes like eucalyptus. Well, I guess it doesn't taste like that, but it feels like it's been infused with a few drops of eucalyptus oil. I still register the regular flavor of my meal, but mixed with it is an aromatic, methol-like freshness. Normally I really like eucalyptus and menthol, but not when I'm eating salmon and quinoa pilaf. The refreshing tingling sensation should be reserved for brushing your teeth and chewing mint gum.

Actually, these vapors seem present in my mouth and sinuses all the time, but at first I just thought it was my lip balm. It's pretty normal to feel that after applying, but it feels like it's on my tongue too. And it doesn't go away. Not when the balm rubs off during the course of the day. Not when I eat. Not when I chew the skin off my lips because they are leperous. (Anyone ever felt like they had leperous lips before, or is it just me?)

It's not exactly unpleasant, but it is odd. Just one more thing to add to the list, I suppose.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I hereby request that you post something on your blog other than a picture of your pretty face and a delightful poll.

I want a feast. I want a bean feast. Oh, one of those.

(You're hearing the music in your head now, aren't you, little sister?)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

To Playlist, or Not to Playlist

I'm just going to say it. I HATE the playlists that have become so trendy to put on people's personal blogs. Now don't get all offended if you have one, please. I wasn't even going to write about this (though I have been contemplating it for some time,) for fear that I would offend one of my friends.

Then I checked my sister's blog and she had a poll about how people feel about these playlists. It felt so liberating to click the "Excessively Irritating" option, that I decided I'd just write what I've been aching to get off my chest ever since these things showed up.

I agree, that it's fun to see what kind of music people like. If you are my friend and you have a blog with a playlist, I have to say I have been generally pleased with your taste in music. There's a lot of good stuff out there. However, when I'm jumping around my friends' blogs or checking my email or whatever else online, enjoying the quietness of my house as Jenny naps, and suddenly I'm audio-slapped with raucous music that isn't fitting to my current mood or state of mind, I find it jarring. (I always pick my tunes based upon my mood, don't you?) I can usually get into whatever song is playing if I change my attitude of initial irritation to playfulness, but then I'm not usually on a blog long enough to hear a whole song, and I hate starting something and not finishing it.

Now, if you have a playlist on your blog, please still be my friend. I just needed to vent a bit. Please forgive me. I really do like music. I promise. I even like the over-processed-ear-candy that most people think is music.

While I was in college I studied music every day. I picked it apart. I critiqued it. I analyzed it. I studied form & part-writing. I learned to write 12 tone rows. I learned about pandiatonicism. I went through ear training. I practiced and practiced. I performed it. I went to mediocre recital after mediocre recital, listening to beautiful arias being desecrated by sub-standard singers, including myself. I learned to play (very ill, I might add) the french horn, clarinet, flute, trumpet, saxophone, recorder, snare drum, and various other instruments. I studied music history and 20th century composition techniques. I learned about throat singers in Bulgaria. I learned the difference between opera seria and opera buffa. I learned how to conduct a choir and how to manage behavior in a classroom. I wrote papers advocating for music education in public schools and analyzing Monteverdi's motets. Shall I go on?

After all of that and more, I learned to stay away from music during my personal time. Who likes to take their work home with them? For a while, just putting on a popular radio station was enough of a break for me, since it was such a different kind of music. But even then, I couldn't turn off the music critic inside my brain, and I found the simplistic harmonic progressions in pop music stultifyingly dull, not to mention the completely unmelodious melodies these songs have, or the complete lack of singing technique in the performers.

I've mostly gotten over that. I still don't play music in my car (NPR anyone?) unless you count the occasional cd of The Beatles or Baby Signing Time when Jenny is whining. Brent calls it auditory opium; it always settles her right down. Anyway, I find I can enjoy concerts and the radio again, but I still struggle with those ubiquitous playlists.

Rant over.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ode to Emma

She brought me chocolates when I was sick.

All my favourites did she pick.

Truffles: chocolate mint and key lime,

My savoring of them - sublime.

See's Candies are so delightful,

And make
all others seem just frightful.

A sister kind, thoughtful, and fun.

I praise her name! And now I'm done.

Seriously, though, I want to give a shout-out to my fantastic and stunning sister, Emma.

Emma and I are partners in pain. She gets it and can empathize with me better than anyone I know. Unfortunately, that ability comes from her own suffering. She understands that usually nothing can make me feel better physically, but the power of something to lift the spirit in the midst of illness is invaluable. I was sick a month or two ago, and she came to visit me bringing an offering of my favourite chocolates. What a sweetie!

She announced recently that she's expecting her first baby - yea!! She is going to make such a good mommy. Not only is she loving and thoughtful and kind and sweet and empathetic, she is also creative and hilarious and interesting. I wish I was like her.

Here she is as Super Auntie with her cute husband and my Baby Jenny. Doesn't she look like a natural? Soon she will be Super Mommy.
Love you Emma!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Jonah and Caroline Leave a Message

I babysat my nephew and niece tonight and told them about my blog. They wanted to leave a message to my friends and family.

From Jonah:
I want to tell you about my favourite princess and games. I went to Noelle's house and I found out they had a new game and I liked it really much. I didn't know the name of it, but it was really fun. You have to save all these princesses: Cinderella, Jasmine, Belle, and Snow White. You do three levels and you help each princess. My favourite of all princesses that I like is Sleeping Beauty and Ariel. They are my favourite because they have the prettiest dresses of all. The one I like the most is Sleeping Beauty's dress. I try to copy it on a piece of paper and draw it, but it's too hard. I can draw picture for all of you if you want one. Ariel is the next one. I like her fin. She can swim and dive in water and I like her red hair.

From Caroline:
Umm. Princess? Princess and Ariel and (giggle giggle) umm . . . Snow White one? Um, yeah. Um, 'cause, um, I don't know. Umm . . . Sleeping Beauty! Sock? Not sock! That's an animal. Everything has to eat seals. Well. White seals. Umm . . . I don't know. Help me. My favourite animal is a giraffe. Jonah likes a giraffe too. It's my favourite 'cause it is. Lion!! (giggle giggle).

From Jonah one more time:
On Planet Earth I saw a great white shark swallow a seal whole. It dived right out of the water, but I don't know how high. It swallowed the seal high and flipped it's tail and went right back down into the water. We saw a crazy part, but the most fun of part of all before I tell you the crazy part. We saw a dead tree and it fell over. We saw all these new sprouts that were beautiful and were starting to grow. We had a race to see who would get there first, but I don't know. And I saw the crazy part was we saw all these crazy mushrooms. One of them came out with a stem and came out a top. But the crazy part it wasn't just a top, it was a white thing that covered it to be guarded.

And one more from Caroline:
I don't know - you! (giggle, giggle)

Jonah is 5 and Caroline is 3. They are quite proud to be online. Here's a picture of them.

Stinky Cheese Party

For Brent's recent birthday we drove up the canyon to a picnic ground and had a cheese tasting party. Brent and I both love blue cheese and we decided to buy several kinds and try to develop our palates a little. We took cheese and crackers, some tasty bubbly, and some fruit. We got rained on, but under the trees we didn't get too wet. It was so fun!

Pretty Pigtails
Mmm . . . stinky cheese.
We had a Danish blue, Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola,
and an Amish Gorgonzola.
What a handsome man!
How did I get so lucky?

Cold Duck: my favourite bubbly.
It's WAY better than Martinelli's Sparkling Cider.
You've got to try it!

Jenny has learned how to say umbrella.
She says "blella" and sticks her tongue way out.
It's so adorable!

Happy Birthday my sweet husband!

A Train to Potevka

A Train to Potevka A Train to Potevka by Mike Ramsdell

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I enjoyed the stories in this book. The author has had some interesting experiences, and I loved learning a little bit more about what life was like for people in Russia during the fall of Communism. What a hard and sad life many people had. It's awful to think what hardships they lived under for so long, and still do to a great degree.

That being said, it's not a very good book. It's not written terribly well. The tangents the author takes to give background on his personal life don't flow well with the rest of the story. It's the kind of thing that would be interesting to hear him talk about, but it doesn't translate well to the page.

In the end, I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone. Although it did inspire me to learn more about the Bolshevik revolution and its aftermath. I want to learn more about the Russian people and culture now, so I'll be on the lookout for a better book than this one.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Food Storage

I feel a renewed and urgent need to work on my food storage. I received a strong impression to work on this last Spring. I have made the token effort here or there, but I haven't really gotten down to it. It's just so much work and so much planning. I have a couple of really good resources, and I know what to do, it's just doing it.

Right now I'm working on my 3 month supply. I'm trying to adapt my usual recipes to use shelf-stable ingredients, but as soon as I do that it no longer sounds appealing to me. I like to eat fresh, seasonal foods. Anyone got any good recipes to share? Anyone got a 3 month menu to share? Anyone interested in doing this with me?

If you are looking for a few good resources on food storage and emergency preparation, here are some I like:

  • "Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook" by Peggy Layton (My favourite resource. Very comprehensive, not just about food.)
  • "Emergency Food in a Nutshell" by Leslie D. Probert & Lisa L. Harkness (This has useful tables and tells you how much you need of what for however many people in your family.)
So let's get to it. Where are you on your food storage? What are you going to do this week to work on it?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quirky? Who, me?

I was recently tagged by my good friend Jenn to post about my top three quirks, and Brent's top three quirks. I have to admit that I once thought myself quirky, until I met Brent. I am positively normal and bland vanilla compared to Brent. It will be hard to limit the list to only three. :)

Brent's Top 3 Quirks:

1. His penchant for learning vast amounts of relatively useless trivia. For example, he can quote Pi to 320 decimal places. He actually tells people that he memorized it to 314 decimal places, because that is even quirkier, but he memorized it in sets of ten, so really he knows 320. I don't know why he wasted time on this feat except to get the best of his brother who memorized 100 digits or so. That, and he had nothing better to do with his free time before he met me. He admitted this about himself on our second date, but I was already smitten, so it was too late to scare me off.

2. His penchant for collecting useless stuff. He collects coins, poker chips, baccarat chips, Old Spaghetti Factory glasses, backgammon doubling cubes, multiple and various editions of Monopoly, and various pirate paraphernalia. I refuse to go into further detail other than to victoriously declare that the pirate table no longer lives in my dining room. Unfortunately the skulls still adorn the shelves and walls. :(

3. His tendency to dominate a conversation. He often loses sight of who his audience is and he gets technical as he explains things. It's like he's at a compliance officer's party and he forgot that you were invited, rarely letting you get a word in edgewise, ask a question, or change the subject. I think it's because of his extremely high IQ. Mensans are always a little odd like that. :) Also, he unwittingly interjects the phrase "you know" between every two or three sentences.

Having written the above, let me declare that my husband is brilliant, kind, loving, hard-working, and dead sexy. I am madly in love with him, despite his idiosyncrasies.

Maren's Top 3 Quirks:

I thought it was only fair to get Brent's input on this, since I wrote about his quirks without consulting him. I don't agree with his assessment of my quirks, but whatever.

1. My ability to potently relive the past. When I share a memory with Brent I get emotional, as if I were going through it for the first time right in front of him. For example, I will tell him about how much I adore my brother Matt and how great he is (now), but when I see a picture of the little boy Matt I begin to cry as I remember how he tortured me as a child and my helplessness and powerlessness against him. It all comes rushing back and I can't help myself from reliving the emotions, even though they no longer exist for me.

2. My voracious reading. Brent apparently thinks it is quite rare for someone to read as much as I do. If so, then that is just sad. What do people do if they don't read? I can understand finding other avenues for entertainment, but what do you do for information? Where do you learn about whatever it is that interests you? Do people just remain in ignorance about the world? Reading is such a wonderful exchange of ideas between author and reader. Reading is a hundred times more interesting and entertaining than watching a movie, because so much more can happen in a book and your imagination can illustrate it so much better than an action sequence on the big screen. But whatever. To each his own. (I admit, however, that it is rather quirky to re-read the same book over and over, like I enjoy doing.)

3. My tendency to speak in hyperbole. I mostly do this when describing something negative. I often feel like whomever I'm speaking to just won't GET it, unless I exaggerate. I knew I had this problem as a teenager when my mother pointed it out to me. However, my life is so much better as an adult that I thought I had gotten over this habit. Apparently not, according to Brent.

Now, I'm not sure that those three items count as quirks. So here is my list, without reference to Brent's opinions.

1. I cannot stand to have my eyebrows mussed up. It drives me crazy. It's like petting a cat the wrong way. Ugh. Now, you may think, when does anyone have opportunity to muss up my eyebrows? All I can say is, if it's not something that bothers you, you don't notice how OFTEN it really happens.

2. I talk to myself in the mirror. All the time. Sometimes I interview myself. Sometimes I role play. I can waste hours doing this late at night. It's very therapeutic.

3. I keep secrets. Lots of them. Things that are so lame they shouldn't be kept secret, I keep secret. Things I buy, things I eat, things I read, things I write, things I wear, etc. Now we're not talking about anything embarrassing, incriminating, unpleasant, or kinky. Just normal, balanced, relatively boring stuff. Don't ask me why. I'm just very private. (I've got you wondering now, don't I?)

So if after reading this list, you still want to be my friend, consider yourself tagged. Tell me, what makes you quirky?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Of Mice and Men

So Loki (short for Locutus, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular feline), Brent's cat, drives me crazy most of the time. Maybe once a week for two minutes he will be adorable, but the rest of the time he is just ANNOYING.

That being said, he is also the most interesting cat I've ever known, and I like him better than any cat I've ever known. I suppose I'm being educated in the ways of cats and I shouldn't be so irked by their elitest attitudes, being rather stuck-up myself ;).

We live next to a rather large empty lot that is overgrown with weeds and whatnot and has become a haven for mice. I'm not sure how many mice live out there, but they are plentiful enough that Loki has no trouble capturing them and bringing them indoors.

Whenever he does this, I feel the urge to curse, and sometimes do. He acts all proud of himself, like he's bestowing a great honor upon me by bringing these things into my house. I get mad at him, and lock him up so I can deal with the mouse without his interference.

Sometimes Loki has played with the mouse enough that it is rather limp and you can tell it's suffering. I feel bad for the poor little thing, but at least that makes it easier to catch. Usually, however, the mice are more than lively and either Loki is very stupid or mice are smarter than we give them credit for, because they usually evade him and me for quite some time.

I'll spare you all the details of my many mouse-catching escapades, but today was the final straw. Today's mouse was quick, but injured, as he left bloody smears all over my kitchen floor, baseboards, and spots of it all over my living room carpet. I spent my morning catching the injured mouse, removing him from my house, then searching all over for bloodstains to wipe up and scrub out of my carpet.

Today I lay down the law! No more open-door policy for the cat! If he goes out, he stays out, until he meows to be let in and can prove to me he's not carrying something wriggly in his mouth! Yuck, yuck, yuck. I'm still slightly wretching at the memory of this morning.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Poor Baby - Hee Hee

I was busy getting dressed when I heard a wail come from the bathroom.

I ran in and saw Baby Jenny perched on the open seat of the toilet. She had put a rubber duck in the bowl and decided she wanted to get it out of the bowl, but of course she couldn't reach far enough. So she climbed up.

Her climbing has just recently taken off, and I'm always amazed at her latest feat.

So there she was, feet on one side of the toilet seat, hands on the other, crouched over what to her must feel like a bottomless pit of water. And, oh, the bewildered expression on her face of "How in the world did I get into this horrible predicament? I don't know what to do! Help! Help!" was priceless.

I busted up laughing, which made her cry harder. Guess it's naptime.

Oh man, I wish I had had my camera handy.

The Sounds of My Life

I saw this on Emma's blog and decided to play along.


So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc.)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the "next" button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool!

Opening Credits: Fallen Angel - Alphaville

Waking Up: Video Killed the Radio Store - The Buggles

First Day At School: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band - The Beatles

Falling In Love: I Need Your Love - U2

Fight Song: Sommertage - Composed by Berg, Performed by Anne Sofie Von Otter (Nothing like German Lieder to get your fired up!)

Breaking Up: Staring at the Sun - U2 (That's kind of what it feels like, huh?)

Prom: Muhammad My Friend - Tori Amos (Perhaps this is to symbolically indicate that religion can be as controversial as dress codes at prom.)

Life's OK: Maxwell's Silver Hammer - The Beatles

Mental Breakdown: His Yoke is Easy from The Messiah - Composed by Handel, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra

Driving: Kiss the Rain - Billy Myers (TOTALLY good road trip song)

Flashback: Ships are Sailing - Eileen Ivers

Getting Back Together: Dancing Through Life - Wicked the Musical ("Life's less painless for the brainless"? Yeah, that seems like good ground to build a relationship on.)

Wedding: Least Complicated - Indigo Girls

Birth of Child: Gesu Bambino - performed by Liberace (I swear I didn't cheat on this one. Maybe this is prophetic and someday I'll have a baby on Christmas.)

Final Battle: Fire and Rain - James Taylor

Death Scene: New Year's Day - U2

Funeral Song: Soul Song - David Wilcox

End Credits: Rain King - Counting Crows

There you go. I'm not sure the movie will be any good, but at least the music is.

Tag, you're it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Jenny Signing Time

Here are a few clips of Jenny signing the other day. She's added lots of words to her vocabulary, and it is so rewarding being able to communicate with her.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What Have You Read?

Aimee had this on her blog and challenged everyone to reply. I'd like to continue the challenge.

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. How did you do?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (Ties for favourite book of all time)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (Ties for favourite book of all time)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible - (I didn't love the WHOLE Bible, as the who begat whom got a little tedious)

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (How can I not have read this one?)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I'd like to read more Shakespeare, but definitely not the COMPLETE works, yikes!)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (I can't believe I haven't read this yet)
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne - love it.
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

How about you?

Musical Opinions

Most of you probably already know that I've been released as choir director and have been called as Primary Chorister. The new choir director is scared to death and is way out of her comfort zone. I think she's going to be great, however (Go Jenn!!) once she gets comfortable with it. She has asked me to pick a song to sing as a solo for the Christmas program in a few months, and I want to know what y'all think.

What's your favourite Christmas carol that you never get to hear?

I was thinking I'd like to do the Wexford Carol, but the only arrangement of it I have has a funky accompaniment that I don't care much for. Anyone got an arrangement of it they like?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Last weekend Brent, Baby Jenny, and I went camping with the Rasmussens. We went to Washington Lake off Hwy 150 in the Uintahs. Beautiful setting. It was so lovely to be in those mountains again. My three years of working summers up there have made the Uintahs my favourite place to go be outdoorsy. Not that I'm very outdoorsy in the athletic sense of the word. I don't rock climb. I don't backpack. I don't ride four wheelers or snowmobiles. I don't ski, water or snow.

So what exactly do I do in the great outdoors?

I walk. I identify and collect wildflowers. I throw rocks in lakes. I sit in the shade and read a favourite book or enjoy conversation with a loved one. I find solitude and peace and beauty. I meditate. I daydream. For me, all the toys are just noise that detract from the true joy that can be found in the mountains. I wish all those four wheelers would stick to the sand dunes, and leave my mountains alone.

This camping trip wasn't particularly restful for me, however. I spent the whole time cooking, cleaning, and taking care of Jenny. Notice that sleeping was not on that list. That's right. Camping with a baby = 2 hours cumulative sleep. It has taken me two full days to recover. Sure, the food was good and it was fun to be with my family, but I am absolutely exhausted. Who knew vacation could be this tiring? I bet my parents know, as do any parents who have ever vacationed with children before. This is how it's going to be for the next 20 years, isn't it? Exhausting vacation after exhausting vacation. I'm going to have to get away with just a sister or my sweet hubby once in a while, because family vacations just aren't going to do it for me.

On the other hand, I have such wonderful memories of camping as a child with my dad and sisters. I have great memories of going to Disneyland, Mesa Verde, Disneyland, and Disneyland again. I look forward to providing those same experiences for my children.

Tomorrow we leave for a week-long camping trip with the Jensens. I have loved these trips in the past three years I have been a member of the Jensen family. This year I'm going with a bit of trepidation (okay, a lot of trepidation) after my night with Jenny in a tent. I told Brent I reserve the right to go home Tuesday night if I'm miserable. I hope Baby Jenny adjusts to sleeping in a tent so we can happily stay for longer.

I have always mocked people who camp in a trailer or RV. I've always said that doesn't count as camping. Well, we'll see if at the end of this week I still feel that way.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Jenny Exploits

Today I had a nap after church. This is a rare event and one to be relished, so I was a little annoyed when Brent came in and laid down next to me. The baby was playing on the floor in our room, and I'm sure he thought he'd keep an eye on her and just lay down for a minute. Of course I knew he would fall asleep in about 30 seconds, which meant I needed to wake up. Of course I drifted to sleep again, and so did Brent.

I woke to the sound of Brent snoring, and no other sound. Immediate panic mode. How long had we both been asleep? Where was the baby and what was she doing? Was I going to find her sucking on scissors or something? Things are pretty well baby-proofed, but who knows what I might have overlooked? I got up and called her name. No sound other than the rhythmic thrumming from Brent's nasal passages. I called again. No response. I called again. Then I heard the tiniest of squeaks from our main bathroom.

I walked to the bathroom, the light was off and it was nearly black inside. Jenny? No response. Then I heard a splash. I flip on the lights and find Jenny playing in the toilet water. That's not so strange. She loves to dip her hand in the bowl. Then I notice the toilet paper roll is connected to the toilet bowl. I look inside the bowl and find half the roll of paper, a pair of pink plastic sunglasses, and a bottle of nail polish. I could tell this little girlie was just getting started and needed to be removed from the temptation.

And so it begins.

Bonus Question

You receive 5 Schrute Bucks if you can tell me where I got my poll question from. You receive 10 Schrute Bucks if you know what a Schrute Buck is. You get 15 Stanley Nickles if you can tell me the ratio of Stanley Nickles to Schrute Bucks.

Social Networking

Okay, for any of you who really know me, you also know that I consider myself to be anti-social. I would much rather sit at home and read or watch Price & Prejudice for the billionth time than go to a ward party. Now, I love my ward, and I always enjoy myself when I do go to activities. It's just really hard to get me out the door.

I'm also not great at committing to Facebook or MySpace or any other social websites. I sign up. I kick around for a couple of weeks, and then I get bored. Today I checked out a friend's blog, which led me to another friend's blog. Pretty soon I had a list of several blogs I want to check out frequently. I've never posted a section of links to friend's and family's blogs because a list of three just looks so pathetic. So I was pleased to find out I have more than three friends in the blogosphere.

So scroll down and look to the left and see if you're there. If not, let me know your blog address if you have one, or start one, gull-durnnit!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Not So New News

Brent has been made Elder's Quorum President. Goody goody. It will mean a lot of hours and time away from us, but it will be a good thing. He likes to quip that callings are given for two reasons: because the individual would be good in the calling, or because the individual needs to grow into a calling. He claims to be the latter. "Now I have to care about people." is what he said after receiving the call. So now that he's the EQP, do I have to be better at my visiting teaching because I'll be under scrutiny by association?

I have also received a new call. I am now the Primary Chorister. This will also be a lot of hours in preparation and planning, but it will be fun. In addition to teaching the children the primary songs, I hope to teach them a little bit about music. I want to teach a few basics about rhythm and reading rhythm. I also want to teach them to follow a conductor and how to lead a song themselves. The youth of our ward have no idea how to lead a hymn, so I thought I'd give the senior primary a head start in learning how to beat basic patterns. This will require careful planning, as I want to teach these concepts in a way that is both engaging and spiritual. It is church, after all, not a private music studio, and I'll have to watch myself to keep that focus.

I have been promised that I'll be released as the choir director, but I have no idea when that will happen as the bishopric is having a hard time finding a replacement for me. The one person who has the ability and hasn't done it before refused the calling. So I'll be doing both jobs for a while.

This has been challenging the last few weeks, because I have to take the baby with me to choir practice as Brent is in P.E.C. at the same time. I also need to have her in primary with me because Brent can't have her in E.Q. anymore. I usually have our friend Stacey Egan take Jenny to Relief Society, so that helps. Jenny misses her morning nap due to our block schedule, so she is especially tired and fussy, and that makes everything that much harder. Sundays are busy and hard days for us. However, we believe in consecrating out talents for the building up of the kingdom, so hopefully that's what we're doing.

Recent Happenings

Looking so very glam in her new pink sunglasses. We go on walks most evenings, and this particular time Jenny kept looking over at me about every 30 seconds with a very self-conscious smile on her face. She wanted to make sure that I saw how adorable she looked. Amazing that at 14 months old the girl has already learned how to accessorize and be vain.

Taking a bite of mama's turkey leg. It's almost as big as she is!

Posing with her cousins Shannen and Noelle. We had to do something while waiting for the tattoo to start at the Scottish Festival.

Having fun at the Scottish Festival.

Daddy loves his girlie!

I made this for Brent's Father's Day gift. His office is plain and bare, so I thought a picture of his daughter would make things a little nicer. Plus, his work life has been rather stressful as of late, so he needed something to look at occasionally to remind himself of what he's doing it all for. It helps to have an eternal perspective when you're climbing ladders and bringing home bacon.

Baby Jenny loves playing in her box of books and toys. Getting out the box and playing with the toys is not enough. She has to become one with the toys. She has to immerse herself fully. It is much more satisfying that way.

Having a snack in the woods. This was taken after our first hike of the season. We hiked to a Uintah yurt. It was a pretty walk and Baby Jenny loved seeing all the birds and dragonflies.

After our walk in the woods.

Our new roof. It used to be an ugly blackish color with almond colored gutters/soffit/fascia and had shingles missing in various places. Much better now. If we replace the old railing and plant a garden we will no longer be the ugliest house on the street. We're making progress - yea!

Well, that's all folks! That is what we've been up to the last several weeks. (Well, that's what I have pictures of us doing the last several weeks.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I know, I know . . .

It's been a while. Sorry Emma and my one other fan.

Tomorrow the roofers arrive. We are having our roof ripped off and replaced. Hopefully we won't find anything too grizzly when we remove the current roof. It's exciting on one hand: I'm pleased that my house will finally look decent from the outside (assuming of course that once the roof/soffit/fascia/gutters are done that I also replace the railing and FINALLY get around to planting some flowers in our dirt/weed beds). On the other hand, it's a little depressing to spend $12,000 on your house and still have a nasty old kitchen and gross bathrooms. Green faux marble linoleum can only look good for so many years, and at 30+ years, it is definitely past its prime.

I spend the majority of my time inside my home, and so that's where I want to spend the money on improvements. Sigh. However, I am pleased that we will rise up a bit in our ranking for curb appeal of all the houses on the street.

In other news, Baby Jenny continues to be adorable and learn new things and develop new skills all the time. She frequently speaks and signs simultaneously. Her vocabulary includes, but is not limited to: ball, dog (actually she signs "dog" but says "woof"), socks, shoes, more, Daddy, Mum, kitty, Jenny, and banana. You should really see her sign banana. It is utterly adorable!

Her cognitive skills are advancing at a quicker pace than her physical skills, but she is now walking around while holding onto my fingertips. She also can go up and down staircases with little or no help, and can turn around and slide off a couch without injury.

Her favorite playtime activity is throwing the cat food into the cat's water dish (she likes the plunking sound, I believe), and splashing her hands in the same water dish. She likes to eat crumbs off the floor after having thrown them there herself. She likes to play with my red telephone booth magnet that hangs on the refrigerator. She likes to sit in a pile of books and take her time perusing each one. She especially likes the snowman book that has a stuffed snowman head on the back page, and holes on all the previous pages. She amazes herself by sticking her foot in the hole and successfully pulls it out again.

Another game she has just discovered, with the assistance of her Auntie Shelley, is pulling objects out of a bag or bucket and handing them to you. This is only fun if you say "thank you" in increasingly strange ways so that she can laugh uproariously at you before handing you the next object.

She is an absolute delight, and I am so grateful to be her mother.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jenny Signs

I captured on video our wee one demonstrating the signs she has learned. Sorry about the lighting. I tried to recreate it with better lighting, but then she wouldn't perform, so this is what you get. She is learning so fast!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Baby's Blood

Today I took Baby Jenny to Primary Children's Hospital to have her blood drawn. An ordinary lab couldn't do it because she's so little (our wee babe is not even 17 pounds yet, which puts her in the 3rd percentile!), so we had to drive up to the U. They were so great with her. They had baby-sized tourniquets that were soft. An assistant came in an blew bubbles to distract her. They even gave her a stuffed duck to soothe her after the trauma. I thought the duck was just to play with temporarily, but they told us to take it home. Maybe it's a good karma kind of move: they're trying to stay on the good side after tormenting a wee babe. She cried when the needle went in and as long as it was in her arm, but as soon as it was done I swooped her up and she was just fine. It is such a comfort to have a fantastic facility like Primary Children's Hospital in the area. I hope we'll never need to go there, but it's nice to have it there all the same.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Allergies & Epi-pens

Today was a fun day. I took Jenny to an allergist at the referral of her pediatrician. She has exhibited a dairy allergy since she started eating solids at 6 months of age. She had the skin-scratch allergy test for ten different things, and five of them were positive. These were not just mild reactions either; she got hives the size of quarters all over her back.

She was an angel and was perfectly happy and didn't act upset or itchy or anything. Things got even more fun when I was told she now has to go to Primary Children's Hospital for blood work. Since she's so young and so small, a normal lab can't draw her blood. The tests from the blood work will quantify her allergies, reveal any false-positives, and give an indication of the severity of her allergy and the likelihood of her growing out of it.

Then came the epi-pen demo. An epi-pen is an adrenaline auto-injector. Sounds like a good time, huh? If Jenny accidentally is exposed to an allergen and has a severe reaction (hives all over her body, swelling throat, trouble breathing, etc.) then I get to stab her in the thigh with one of these fun toys and rush her to an emergency room. Wherever the baby goes, an epi-pen must also go.

If all of that didn't sound fun enough, I now also get to educate all of her aunties/grandparents/potential babysitters about all of this. Hopefully she'll grow out of her dairy allergy before she is old enough to be invited to friends' birthday parties and I have to send her with her own tub of soy-ice-cream so she doesn't feel left out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weight Off My Shoulders

About two months ago I was asked by our Stake Music Director if I would accept the assignment to have our ward choir participate in an Interdenominational Choir Festival. Of course I accepted, because that's what you do in this church when you're given an assignment. We had our Easter program to get ready, but as none of those songs would have really been appropriate for the Festival, so they were of no use.

We had to perform two songs by ourselves and prepare three more to do combined with the other choirs. The combined songs were HARD and freaked my whole choir out when we tried to sight-read them. I continued to reassure them and tell them that they would be surprised at how quickly they came together when we were there with the other singers. They didn't believe me, but I was proven correct in the end.

There were a few songs that were so clearly protestant, that a lot of my singers were weirded out by them. My singers just haven't been exposed to anything other than LDS-Sacrament-meeting-appropriate music. They've never sung upbeat spirituals with percussion. They were out of their comfort zone, but they still had a good time.

I was totally stressed about it because my singers haven't been very diligent or consistent in their rehearsal attendance. On top of that I was told about how the other choirs all have professional directors and professional accompanists, etc. etc. I was expecting them to be fantastic, and I wanted to be too.

We rehearsed two hours last Thursday night and two hours this afternoon. Then we had a 90 minute rehearsal combined right before the performance tonight. (That doesn't include the two hours I spent singing on Saturday with another choir.) So I have been a little burnt out and worried. I have been looking forward all weekend to Monday (can you believe it) because that would mean that this Choir Festival would finally be over!

Well, I was all prepared to hang my head in shame, because as many of you know, I am a music snob and perfectionist and am always dissatisfied with my performance. However, as soon as I heard the first choir sing I knew we had it in the bag. The first choir was terrible. The second choir was only moderately terrible, but picked a couple of really nice songs. Then we sang, and if I do say so myself, we were good. Pretty darn good. Not quite fabulous, but nearly. The first song was a little shaky, but the second was BEAUTIFUL. We did an arrangement of "Come Thou Fount" that I sung years ago with Aimee & Erin Palmer entitled "Blessings". It is a gorgeous arrangement, and I have had every ward choir I've directed since perform it.

I truly felt that angels came down and sang with us; our performance was consecrated by the Lord and the Spirit was there and we did so well. I was so proud of my singers. Hopefully they enjoyed themselves and haven't completely burned out. Now I get an emotional break and it feels good!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Birthday Girl

Yesterday was Jenny's 1st birthday. We had her aunties and uncles and cousins and grandparents come over for cake and ice cream. I spent the day getting ready for the very low-key and simple party. I was at the party store buying balloons when I spied a plethora of "first birthday" merchandise. Suddenly everything I had planned seemed inadequate. I had baked a yummy cake, but it didn't have any cartoon characters on it. I bought balloons to color-coordinate with Jenny's dress, but there was no theme! Do I need streamers? What about matching paper plates, napkins, and plasticware? This is my first time throwing a birthday party as a mom, and I'm going to be a failure!

Then I reminded myself of my big sister's first experience throwing a birthday party for her first-born. She made individual Mickey Mouse cakes for everyone and frosted them laboriously. I helped her and I remember her stress level that afternoon. She has since learned her lesson, but every birthday party still she has a theme, and somehow, miraculously, the cake always matches the theme (thank you Costco). Now my sister will be the first to admit that she is a classic over-doer when it comes to projects like these, but will I be able to be so self-aware as my mommy-coordinated events continue? Perhaps I can find the balance that eludes so many moms.

In the end the party wasn't fancy and it didn't last long. But the cake was yummy, the pictures are cute, and Jenny will never remember it. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jenny's Second Easter

Jenny was born the day before Easter last year, so even though that was her first Easter, she wasn't very cognizant of it. She wasn't very sure about what was going on this year either. She didn't like going outside and sitting on the grass. She wasn't even interested in picking up an egg that was sitting on the ground right in front of her. Only when I picked it up and shook it like a rattle did she become remotely interested.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Joy in Daily Drudgery

I love vacuuming. Is that strange? I get great satisfaction from the whole experience. As many of you know, my husband is a bit of a slob. He is a packrat, rarely puts things away, and when he does put things away he places them in the wrong spot, making them impossible to find when I need them later. When I am frustrated at the mountain of possessions on his half of the room which leads me to be less than tidy myself, and the clutter is making me depressed, I get out my vacuum.

In fifteen short minutes I have entirely satisfying experience. I get my sluggish, tired, and pain-ridden body up and moving. I suck up dirt particles, nasty crunchies that the baby has either left or will roomba up later, and the ever present kitty litter that is strewn across my stairs. When I finish I leave a clean floor with beautiful parallel lines running across it. I love those lines. Vacuum lines in carpet are a great testimony. They testify that the room is clean. They testify that I have been productive. They testify that I accomplished something on my to-do list more than just keeping the baby alive and happy. And they look pretty. Maybe only a homemaker can fully appreciate the beauty of vacuum lines, but beautiful they are nonetheless.