Sunday, December 30, 2007

She's a poet, dontcha know it...

Jane went to work with Jake on Friday, where she was honored with a guest bogging gig over at Todd's blog. If you read that, and are hungry for more, then check out her blog for some of the best 1st grade prose anywhere.

In Jane's early blogging efforts (she's about 9 months here), she was aided by her trusty amanuensis,  almost-three-year-old Ross.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm not cwying, I hab a code.

I hab a code. I took Zicam and held it off for almost a week, but it has finally caught up with me.

So I could blame all the sniffling in the movie last night on this curs-ed virus. I have no good explanation for the two hours of teary eyes, though.

Why am I such a sissy? I didn't used to be such a GIRL.

In college I never cried. My roommate Liz and I rented the entire Thornbirds miniseries with high hopes of tears, but to no avail. I'll wager I coulda slammed my hand in the car door without eliciting any tear duct activity. I was Elizabeth Bennet, I was Elinor Dashwood. I was a rock; an island. A rock feels no pain. An island never cries.

Then I got pregnant.
(Well, actually I met Jake and married him, then I got pregnant. Just to be clear).

Then, I was Jane Bennet, I was Marianne Dashwood. The ever-present, not-so-smart-and-witty Austen sister, ruled by her emotions, who makes the lesser match and is too dumb to notice she's settled for a second tier man (although he's usually still moderately rich and handsome). Ach! Who wants to be HER? It's a good thing my own match was made while I was still in my Elizabeth phase.

But the waterworks started almost immediately with the pregnancy hormones. That was almost ten years ago. I continue to this day as a public embarrassment.

I cry during Church hymns, I cry during public speaking (I think it is triggered by adrenaline), I even cry during James Blunt songs. Some of you borrow my books and wonder why the pages are all crinkly. Did I read them in the tub? Maybe; but more likely, I just cried on 'em. I apologize to whomever read the final Harry P. after me. I actually had to take a short reading sabbatical from that one, and give my full attention to inconsolable weeping, since my eyes had swollen shut.

So this movie, last night: P.S. I Love You. I heard it was based on a Nicholas Sparks book. Books of which I am not a fan. I realize I am likely only girl in America who is not. The movie was quite good, though. Quite good for girls. The theater was almost full and included about 10 men. Men whom Jen pronounced "very nice for coming along."

I started up crying right away. Before the opening credits were even over, before there was even anything to cry about. I knew what was coming, you see. It was like getting on a roller coaster and starting to scream from the anticipation, before the surly long-haired gender-neutral teen has even checked your safety restraint. I kept up a gentle drizzle through the whole show.

When I am pregnant, it gets worse. When I was big and round with with baby Ross, Jake and I saw Deep Impact. It was a mediocre movie about a meteor about to strike the earth and everyone totally freaking out about it. I cried so hard I started hiccoughing and wiping my nose on my coat sleeve. People around us noticed and stared; I mean, who weeps during Deep Impact? Armageddon came out around the same time, and I think many shed a tear over Bruce Willis' untimely, self-sacrificing demise (would have been heartless not to). But to carry on in such a manner as I did over Tea Leoni (B-list actress at best); well, it was quite gauche.

I just wanted to tell you all this as a sort of public service announcement. Sometimes, people aren't trying to make a scene. Sometimes, when you see someone crying and you feel like saying "for goodness sake, girl, pull yourself together!", well that's exactly what that girl is muttering to herself; it is exactly what she wishes she could do. But she can't.

Her freaky girly hormones have hijacked all her good sense. She is Marianne crying over her lost inner Elinor. Outside, she weeps; inside, she is ticked. She is grieving the treachery of her own sob-racked body.
Are there any other bawl-babies out there willing to confess?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Morn: a Movie




I made this video of the kids in Imovie on my new iMac! Thanks, Santa!
The kids LOVE their very dangerous Christmas presents from Grandma Mareen and Grandpa Ross.

Only one pair of jeans were shredded.
Only one band-aid was employed.
I'm not sure Ross will ever earn a driver's license.
He drives like a total nutter.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Not the Baby Moses!

Tommy has spent most of his free time this season tearing up the Christmas tree. But last night he finally turned his attention away from the pagan symbols that have infected our Christmas celebrations and began to focus his destruction on the true meaning of Christmas. He climbed the piano and ravaged the nativity set, finally getting his sticky little fists on the piece de resistance: Baby Jesus.

Jake brought in the headless child last night to my bedroom where I was locked in quiet, kid-free, gift wrapping bliss and informed me: Tommy has decapitated Baby Moses. Oh. And his arm is gone, too.

Jake leaves the room to look for glue, and soon I hear: Five dollars to whoever can find Jesus' arm!

Apparently somebody is five bucks richer, because there it is in the photo.

Tommy was pretty upset about the whole incident. He is very, very sorry, as you can see here:

I am certain he will never do it again.

Nice booger bubble, Tom.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Buying thee-ate-uh tickets in a highbrow minefied

I'm in charge of buying theater tickets for the NYC trip next month. I don't know why my family keeps putting me in charge when I make occasionally terrible choices. I get sucked into reviews that say things like 'highbrow.' I have learned from hard experience that 'highbrow' can mean either 'delightful, rousing, intellectual feast' or it can mean 'so deadly boring even the cute elderly Jewish couples from New Jersey in front of you leave at intermission, but not until they have commented angrily at full volume through the first act.'

One such little play was called Democracy, starring John Boy Walton. It was about some sort of German political scandal in the 70s, all taking place over two hours on a stage made to look like an office with props from IKEA. Maybe it would have been better with Steve Carrell instead of John Boy. At the end, unseen hands dropped thousands of file folders for the big finish, but all I could think was: "What a mess. Who do you think will clean those up? Why didn't you do it an hour ago and put us out of our misery? Ach. Who cares. Let's go to Bloomingdale's."

In London this summer, I got us tickets to 39 Steps. It was a British farce, set in Scotland. The audience was full of authentic characters come to town for the evening, who had had enough time to slip on their only slightly gravy-stained cardies, but not enough time to brush their bushy hair. The colorful audience and Jake's coat pockets full of Cadbury treats were the highlights of the show. It had some moments, but not enough to keep Jen and Andrew's attention. They slipped out at half time, murmuring "no, no, we really like it, but we've gotta go. Meet ya at Mr. Chow's for a midnight snack."

Sometimes, though, I get it right. On the same trip as Democracy, we saw a great show called Bombay Dreams. Sort of a VERY loose Bollywood take on Les Miserables. Loved the music and the choreography. I even bought "Shakalaka Baby" on Itunes. And in London this summer we saw Evita, which was very good, even without Madonna and Antonia Banderas. Maybe especially without them.

Even if 'high brow' doesn't work out, I am fairly certain 'lowbrow' isn't the solution. I guess what I'm thinking is we will find most happiness in the 'middlebrow' range, and I will have to do my intellectual feasting on Masterpiece Theater or BBC America. Or read a book. I can't waste much more time looking for it on the stage. It's a highbrow minefield out there.

So I've been doing some research, and there are a few shows I'm leaning toward.

The first is Rock 'n' Roll. Tom Stoppard's Arcadia is my favorite play ever, and this is his newest. The name may be misleading, though. Apparently the rock music plays background to the story, which is about an aging Communist in Britain set around the time the Berlin Wall comes down. So you see, the play could really be called COMMUNISM, in which case it sounds too terribly close to DEMOCRACY. Is this play gold, or iron pyrite? It has generally good reviews (the line "hopeful heart behind the cerebral glitter" is just the sort of things that sucks me in, usually for ill), but Stoppard's last play was 12 hours long, so maybe this time the reviewers were just grateful to be let out of their seats in a timely manner. Is likely boring highbrow, not Arcadia Revisited; but can I afford NOT to see it?

The Farnsworth Invention stars Hank Azaria and follows the race between two men to invent the television. It got a few reviews that called it bo-ring, and some others probably written by Hank Azaria.

Legally Blonde could be okay, but I'm worried it is made for tween girls. I can watch Hannah Montana right here at home.

August: Osage County has glowing reviews, and a story that looks terribly depressing. But good/depressing better than bad/cheerful, probably.

Speech and Debate: Off Broadway, and good reviews. My sister Jen was Arizona State high school debate champion of 1994. She is all over this'un.

Mary Poppins
Mamma Mia. Just cause I've never seen it.
Les Miserables. Cause I'm a sucker for it. It is a new production, but how different can it be, really?


Already nixed:
Spring Awakening might be good if some of the songs didn't have the F word in the title.
Cyrano de Bergerac starring Claire Danes will be over.

Jen's the one I'm out to impress. I'm not so worried about my Mom liking the shows I pick. She isn't picky. She likes it all. Musical, Drama, Revival; heck, she even liked Democracy (though, to be fair, she actually lived in Germany during the Willy Brandt scandal). She won best actress at BYU two years in a row or something. I've seen the statues hiding in the laundry room closet, where she keeps them so no one will ask her to direct road shows at Church.

Have any of you seen any of these shows on Broadway or off? Please leave lengthy, brutally honest reviews. I'll be purchasing tickets to 3 or 4 shows this week!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Okay, I'll confess...

...to some very bad parenting: Sunday night we went to the Temple to see Joe's group perform, and see the Christmas lights. MC-6 was quite good, unlike my kids, who were quite bad. So bad, in fact, that I had a tiny little nervous breakdown, and yelled at them on the way home and told them they weren't ever going back to the Temple. (Which of course isn't true. I will surely take them back when one of them needs to marry or go on a mission). It was definitely the low point of the Holiday Season. Knock on wood.

...to some lack of self control: During the white elephant gift exchange at a Christmas party Saturday night (this is after gorging ourselves on piles of free sushi earlier in the evening at pre-opening night at Sushi RA. I recommend the lobster spring rolls and the Viva Las Vegas rolls), I stole a giant box of Pot of Gold Turtles, which also came with a handy toilet plunger. I know, I know. A forgivable moment of weakness, even for a girl with big dreams of tiny pants in NYC, only 4 weeks from now. So I should have been relieved when they were stolen from me. But no. First chance I got, I stole them back. Then, over the next 3 days, I ate them (and shared some, too). They were delicious. Somehow, due to a Christmas miracle, I've lost a pound this week on my Pot of Gold Diet. And Shireen told me yesterday that I look FABULOUS, which I totally do. Need to go get more turtles quite soon.

...to both poor meal planning and contributing to the sugar induced coma of some minors (ie moderately bad parenting): The other night I really needed to eat cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting and hot chocolate. So I made them for dinner.

Sometimes it is necessary to eat treats for dinner, because otherwise, how do you fit TWO giant cinnamon rolls in the relatively small belly space provided? Let's be straight: We all know it isn't going to happen if you first fill up on edamame. I think we know each other pretty well by now. I no longer need to beat about the bush, like I did in September. Back then, our blogging relationship was still new and uncertain, and I was afraid you might dump me for a more Molly Mormon Mommy Blog. These days, I feel no need for soy bean decoys and other pretense. I'm serving it up straight.

Anyway, after dinner/treats, we all watched The Empire Strikes Back together, our sugary bloated tummies stretched flat on the leather sofas. Twas a very nice holiday evening.

So I'll confess. I'm only sorry about the threats to children. I'm not sorry about all the treats. And if a nice neighbor brings me her delicious Holiday goodies made by the sweat of her brow, I will eat them. It's my neighborly duty. Pants be dammed!

P.S. I spelled that wrong to fool the Cybersitter. For even more low-down on our wild Saturday partying (plus a little bragging on me), read Jolene. For those of you dying for a longer list of what I ate at Sushi RA, Jane's got it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Post Traumatic Stress Shopping Denial Paralysis

Seriously, I have no time for this. I am officially an idiot just for sitting down at the computer. I just started Christmas shopping a few days ago. (Oh, except for your present. I've had that for months. I had to order it early so it could arrive from Europe in time for Christmas! And except for the kids. My Mom forced me out to Toys R Us one early December evening.) Anyway, I was in shopping denial. But now I've totally snapped out of it, and I'm in post traumatic stress shopping denial paralysis. That means I am no longer in denial, but still cannot shop because the anxiety created by waiting so long to shop, and potentially having to go to a mall, has left me paralyzed with fear and loathing. It is very serious. You should send me cards and presents. Or comments.

Plus, my house is a big wreck, even though Jake did dishes last night which was very, very nice. I don't want to say the house is a big wreck, then have him read that, and think I don't appreciate all the dishes he did.

Then he might go on strike like the dang-blasted TV writers. Am growing angry with money-grubbing TV people, who fight amongst themselves and victimize me! Do you think it would help if I started up a collection and sent it to writers of The Office? You can all send donations to my paypal account. I'll match any donations up to $5.00. Unless I have 300 crazy Office-watching lurkers. In which case I'll have to choose between matching your donations and buying Jake a Christmas present. And really, that's a no-brainer. Jake washes my dishes, and fathers my children, and all you lurkers do is read my blog without even leaving a comment. I totally love comments. But even if you left me comments, comments aren't as good as clean dishes. Lo siento, lurkers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Keeping up with the Martins'


So I saw my sister Jen's Christmas card yesterday, and in it, all her kids look like Guess models. To make matters worse, in the mail I'm getting cute Christmas cards from many of you and your beautiful offspring. So then I got sad and jealous because I didn't ruin a whole day getting everyone dressed up, then taking pictures where I look murderous. (I look that way because I because I actually become murderous, with evil tight-mouthed grin, and angry, smoldering eyes. Is very sexy, I know, but sexy is not desirable trait of family Christmas card pictures.) No children obey even smallest parental or photographer prodding. They make faces that look like they are defecating, or run about crazy, and Mom just scolds out the side of her snarling lip. After all this, I must mail them out on paper made from real-life trees, to everyone I know. So I was sad for a little while, but soon enough, I was happy again because in Digital Image Pro they had this template, so I plugged it with random shots (3 out of 4 of which were taken by talented SIL Jane at times when I was not at all cantankerous, much less homicidal. Thank you, Jane) and Wallah! (hick for Voila!): Beeson Christmas card 2007. I cyber-scrapped (I think I just made that word up. Someone tell me if that is a word) it for your viewing enjoyment. Yes, I know it isn't the same as stamped mail in your box. I know it looks a little homespun, but my kids are still the cutest ever. Even cuter than yours, and yours are darn cute, too. Please don't take me off your Christmas card lists. I promise to get a high fashion photographer or Annie Leibowitz next year (or maybe Aunt Jane can take some more pictures. Hers are likely better) and send you all head shots of my kids looking intense, brooding, and way awesome, like these kids:

Jack Zoolander on the left there is debuting a new look. Is it MAGNUM or BLUE STEEL?

Oh, and Jen: I put the apostrophe on the end of Martins' in post title to arouse your indignation. Strunk and White are turning in their graves, if, in fact, they are dead. Could very likely be alive, and Googling themselves. In which case they may read this and tsk tsk me. But they will not be shocked and horrified, because honestly, have you read the internet? Cybersitter doesn't block poor writing and grammar. Thing's are bad out their. Anyone highly sensitive to the difference between the possessive, the plural, and the contraction should stay off the world wide web or will likely need to be medicated.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Saturday Story

The Beginning:
I am still in bed reading The Book Thief. Jane is mother henning Tommy and for some reason he is loving it. She feeds him breakfast, showers him, tries to wrestle him into his clothes. Other Costa Rica golf widow, Jen, calls and proposes an outing for all the children. I am game. We finally decide on Sea Monsters 3D at the Arizona Mills Imax. I have a niggling fear that perhaps the mall is not the best place to be heading this fine and drizzly December day with 8 kids, 8 and under. But I find a parking space with little trouble, and I feed Tommy junk food at full speed for the full forty minutes of the film, in an effort to keep him seated. He is wild with sugar by the end. Claire and Charlie are equally unappreciative. It was cool movie, though. Kids and I loved the 3D action. Ross kept yelling out things like: Look! That's a pleistomegalostegatortadolisaurus! Did you see it, Mom?
Yeah. Course. I'm wearing the 3D glasses, aren't I?

We planned to eat in the food court, but the place was packed. So we stand and hover for a minute, until one of the kids spots a vending machine that spits out Pokemon crapola for the bargain price of 4 quarters. Let's do the math. I need 12-16 quarters, Jen needs 12. I have no quarters, and all my cash in in the car. (Yes, I know, good way to become a holiday crime statistic.) So I tell Sam the bad news, and he totally loses it. He is seriously heartbroken (and peevish, since he stayed up until 11 Friday night). So instead of getting the heck outta there, we stand around the Pokemon machine and talk about leaving. Sam gets worse. Other kids are plotting mutiny. Jane whips out her purse and buys her own Pokemon toy. Purseless, coinless boys whine at the unfairness of the world.


Sad Sam, hugging Pokemon machine.
Jane, gloating and riling up her male relatives.
Finally, some poke-love.

Jen finally goes into Gameworks and gets enough quarters for 4 toys. So everyone gets something except Claire (and Tommy, who doesn't really know what is going on). Claire isn't happy, isn't placated by small empty plastic dome courtesy of Sam.

Noise and mall crowds freaking me out. We walk out and Claire starts tantrumming in parking lot. Jack is pushing Charlie's stroller in dangerous-looking way, with evil smile on his face, and small 4-quarter Pokemon in his sweaty fist.
Charlie threw a fit, too. No, not really.

Finally everyone is 5-point-harnessed and belted into both Honda Odysseys, and we are on our way home. I drive through In-n-out, which as you know is always a bad idea.

Cardinal rule of In-n-Out: You must eat it fresh, whilst sitting inside building, or you must not eat it. Even walking to outside tables might expose burgers to terrible taste-ruining draft. There is magic in the burgers and fries, but the magic wears off the fries in 2 minutes, and the burgers get only 1 minute beyond that.

I had planned to eat my burger on the way home, but then I remembered I had touched the horrible and nasty floor at the Imax looking for Tommy's shoe, and I couldn't reach the baby wipes while driving. I began to picture myself running off the road and dying, leaving all the children for Jake to raise alone. I could hear in my mind the eulogy. "Kelly died doing what she loved, with her handi-wiped fingers full of hot fries." No, no, it isn't worth it!" I concluded. Then glanced with longing as the fries lost their savor around Val Vista, and the burgers were mushy by Greenfield. Why oh why did I order it animal style? Now is soggy mess.

All in all, quite a good outing. Things could have gone much worse.

Came home to clean the house so Jake won't see dirty underpants piles and want to fly back to Four Seasons to live in Costa Rican jungle with howler monkeys and sloths.

Finally, long lost husband arrives home (Yippee!) with Cadbury Hazelnut candy bars, a fakebaked looking tan (just way too dark for December, even in the desert.), and some T-shirts, and we all (except Sam, sent to bed for being crazy mean) watch Star Wars (the real one, not one of the boring, lame new ones with lots of effects but no heart), then everyone is in bed by 9:30.

The End. Almost.
This morning Sam dropped his tiny vended Pokemon toy into brand new gallon of whole milk. He is stopped as he is on his way outside to dump it in rocks. Now Pokemon is stuck. We have Poke-milk.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Nativity: Starring the Old Testament

December 2001. Ross was nearly 3 years old. As I unpacked the nativity set I quizzed him on the cast of characters. The side dishes-the camels, the wise men, and the Angel-he had cold. But he was having some trouble with the main course.

"So Ross, who is this?" I say as I hold up the Joseph figure.
"Jonah," Ross says evenly.
"Who is he?" I prodded further.
"He got stuck in a whale and he is this baby's daddy," he explains as he points to the tiny ceramic baby.

I held up the next figure, Mary. "Who is this?"
"Mary. The Mom." Ross looks bored, like I'm wasting his time with these easy-peasy questions. The animals were more interesting, because he got to invent camel sounds.

Well, were are at 50%, sorta. Much higher if we count the donkey. But he should get this one, no problem. Jesus is the star of the show.
"Who is this, Ross?" I ask as I hold up the wee babe in manger.
Ross' eyes rolled left, but he didn't turn his face away from the Teletubbies.
"Baby Moses."
What? Moses?
"What did he do?" I ask carefully.
Ross stood and gave me his full attention.
"His Mom put him in a basket, then left him in the river. Then someone else found him, and brought him to live here in this barn with the sheep."

So I began to wonder at this Old Testament interpretation of the creche. Might Ross be Jewish? So glad we got him circumcised. But wait. He gets Mary right 100% of the time. Maybe he's Catholic. Whatever his religious inclination, the names stuck. He couldn't be dissuaded. And we really didn't try that hard. Because it was super funny.

He didn't seem to have any trouble understanding Santa.
Big red guy who brings gifts.
Didn't bring animals two by two into the ark.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Martha and Erma, guest bloggers

My anonymous blog correspondent was googling Christmas letters to find just the right tone for her letter this year (should be mildly self-deprecating; includes lots of chuckly anecdotes), when she came across this, which I love a lot:

Martha Stewart's Christmas letter to Erma Bombeck:

Hi Erma, This perfectly delightful note is being sent on paper I made myself to tell you what I have been up to. Since it snowed last night, I got up early and made a sled with old barnwood and a glue gun. I hand painted it in gold leaf, got out my loom, and made a blanket in peaches and mauves. Then to make the sled complete, I made a white horse to pull it, from DNA that I had just sitting around in my craft room.By then, it was time to start making the place mats and napkins for my 20 breakfast guests. I'm serving the old standard Stewart twelve-course breakfast, but I'll let you in on a little secret: I didn't have time to make the tables and chairs this morning, so I used the ones I had on hand. Before I moved the table into the dining room, I decided to add just a touch of the holidays. So I repainted the room in pinks and stenciled gold stars on the ceiling. Then, while the homemade bread was rising, I took antique candle molds and made candles & then made the dishes (exactly the same shade of pink) to use for breakfast. These were made from Hungarian clay, which you can get at almost any Hungarian craft store. Well, I must run. I need to finish the buttonholes on the dress I'm wearing for breakfast. I'll get out the sled and drive this note to the post office as soon as the glue dries on the envelope I'll be making. Hope my breakfast guests don't stay too long, I have 40,000 cranberries to string with bay leaves, before my speaking engagement at noon. Love, Martha Stewart

PS When I made the ribbon for this typewriter, I used 1/8-inch gold gauze. I soaked the gauze in a mixture of white grapes and blackberries which I grew, picked, and crushed last week just for fun.

Response from Erma Bombeck:

Dear Martha, I'm writing this on the back of an old shopping list, pay no attention to the coffee and jelly stains. I'm 20 minutes late getting my daughter up for school, packing a lunch with one hand, on the phone with the dog pound, seems old Ruff needs bailing out, again. Burnt my arm on the curling iron when I was trying to make those cute curly fries, how DO they do that? Still can't find the scissors to cut out some snowflakes, tried using an old disposable razor. . .trashed the tablecloth. Tried that cranberry thing, frozen cranberries mushed up after I defrosted them in the microwave. Oh, and don't use Fruity Pebbles as a substitute in that Rice Krispie snowball recipe, unless you happen to like a disgusting shade that resembles puke! The smoke alarm is going off, talk to ya later. Love, Erma

Things I learned; Things I Thunk; and Brookie & Charlie

1. Don't leave Tommy's jeans off, even for a minute, even when he pulls them off himself, even when you are babysitting three extra kids, including 1 year old twins. He might pull off his diaper and take a dump next to the Christmas tree and even on one of the ornaments he pulled onto the floor earlier.
2. Canada is the middle child of America. It works hard to keep up with its louder, hyperactive, over-achieving sibling, the U.S., but is quieter and probably has a complex about being in the U.S.'s shadow. It seems generally well-behaved and rule-abiding, nothing like youngest children Central and South America, who won't seem to find some nice democratic governments and settle down, instead going for the dictator bad boys and each other and what not.

Yes, I do realize this is mostly the fault of the greedy oligarchies at work, and an inheritance from the Spanish colonial governments which raped the land, and that they were not lucky enough to have religious dissidents from England and France land on their shores and set up representative democracies like we did in North America, although things didn't go much better for the Native Americans, either way. Those of you who have lived there can set me straight. All I learned about Latin America was from a crazy guy (professor) at BYU who had been pelted about the head with rubber bullets and partially blinded by mustard gas in Panama (he could draw a crowd to lectures bigger than actual class enrollment, much like Susan Easton Black, but couldn't talk auctioneer fast like she can), and also from the musical Evita, which is muy bueno.

I'm not sure why Jake feels Central America has better golf than the good 'ol USofA, except maybe for the monkeys on the course. I think if he took Sammy with him in the gorilla mask and played Superstition Springs, it would be sorta the same, and wouldn't require 12 hours of travel one way. For all you Canadians, I don't mean no harm. I was born in Lansing, Michigan, so I'm almost a Canadian, right? And I didn't call you the red-headed stepchild of America. Hermanos, all!

3. Do all my laundry BEFORE I get out Christmas decor (and do it on December 23rd).

4. Whole Foods (Ray and the 101) is a very fun place to visit on the way home from the Cannery. Sort of a cross between AJs and Sprouts. Welcome to my life, Shrimp Bisque! Plus, BBQ Soy Crispettes, which sound gross, but are very "light and delicious, tasty soy snacks" as it says on the bag. (Update: could not eat the 19 crisps required for 120 calorie serving before began to feel sick. The good news: I think my appetite is ruined for whole morning.) Whole foods is still awesome.

5. Had a great time at Brookie's 10th birthday party last night. Jane's cake (chocolate sheet cake topped with marshmallows and then frosting) hit the spot. Janie took pictures at the Taylors and I can't figure how to get them off the Fisher-Price digital camera. Check out Aunt Jane's blog later to see if she posts photos. After that we went to Jen and Andrew's where they had baby Charlie's blessing. All kids in attendance were crazed lunatics. Lots of fighting with light sabers. Andrew's cookies (he is something of an expert) were very nice, and actually calmed kids down. What did you put in the cookies, Andrew?
Above: Man-of-hour, Charlie, with Jen and Andrew
Below: Grandma Mareen with Tommy



Above: Sam and Grandma Taylor
Below: Friends Hallie and Ellie, with Jane and cousin Claire



Above: Friends Shireen and Brett
Below: Tommy and Grandpa Ross

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rain, Naughty Christmas Songs, and Tommy's getting a straight jacket for Christmas

Rainy day. Am terribly excited. Have never lived anywhere that it rained enough for me to tire of it. LA rained more than Phoenix, but not enough. Utah snowed a little, but mostly the winters I was there were cold and sunny (worst possible scenario). Even while I was on study abroad in London, they had a freakish, once in a hundred years, record-breaking hot summer. Before there was a tanning salon on every corner (like now), normally pasty-white British people were glowing with St. Tropez-like tans (almost). One could deduce from all this that I am such a HOT CHICK, wherever I go I affect the weather. If one wanted to deduce such things.

Today I will stay at home and wait for the one inch of rain that the trampy-looking weather girl promised would come. (Why do all the young news ladies look less like less professional journalists and more like aging ex-sorority girls? They get into bar fights, or shoplift, and all the other stations cover these stories like they are actual news.) I should get started right away with all that needs to be done this morning, but instead I sit here and sip hot chocolate from my personalized mug that Jen brought me (and the rest of the family) last night. She also brought with her carolers who taught my kids a new, naughty Christmas song, which is, of course, the best present ever. It goes like this:

Deck the Halls with gasoline. Falalalalalalalalala.
Light a match and watch it gleam, Falalalalalalala,
Watch the school burn to ashes, Falalalalalalalal
Aren't you glad you played with matches? Falalalalalalalalalalala

I'm sure this is just new to us, not new. It is probably a boy thing, but Jane is happy to sing a-long. At least it gives us a few days' respite from the old standby:

Dashing through the snow, on a broken pair of skis
O'er the fields we go, smashing into trees.
The snow is turning red, I think I'm almost dead.
I'm lying in the hospital with stitches in my head.
JINGLE BELLS BATMAN SMELLS ROBIN LAID AN EGG. THE BATMOBLIE LOST A WHEEL, AND JOKER GOT AWAY. HEY!

If any of you know any different ones, please leave them in the comments section. I have decided the ride to school isn't nearly so bad if we have a little variety.

I have new tree woes. I'll confess, I think my proclamations of love for the plastic tree were premature. Our relationship might be on the rocks. The problem isn't its plastic-ness (plasticity didn't seem like the right word), but its very existence. Let me illustrate:

When Jen came over yesterday, she asked: "Why don't you have any ornaments on the bottom of the tree?"

I replied: "There used to be some, but Tommy keeps ripping them off. Then he wanders around the house dropping the pieces all over. So then I decided to fold over the branch around the ornament (don't try this with your Noble Fir), so with even medium tugging the ornament will not come loose, and Tommy will soon be persuaded that the baubles are part of the tree, and after a few days will leave them alone. I was feeling pretty smug about my plan, but Tommy just sees it as a more exciting challenge. Look, here he is. He can show you the problem."

Tommy comes over to the tree and looks and points, eyes wide, asking "whasat?" He has a very limited vocabulary. He wouldn't be a good blogger. Then he grabs hold of a little chandelier ornament and starts to pull. His eyes narrow, and he tugs harder, using both hands, gritting his teeth. Finally, as half the chandelier comes crashing to the ground (the other half still attached to the tree), Tommy puckers his lips and starts yelling "Oh. Oh ohohohoh!" He is like a hunter with his kill. It's all about the sport.

He just showed me a small silver baby rattle he pulled from the tree a few minutes ago, then he ran off. It is probably lost now in the mountains of clean and dirty clothes in the entryway. Now has removed his own pants, has pulled the step ladder up to the tree (while muttering "get down" over and over like a mantra), taken down a silver disco-looking ball, and thrown it at the side of my head, yelling "ball." Now he is under the tree on his belly, flipping the lights on and off.

Sam is out in the garage, looking for more stuff to bring in for Tommy to break. Occasionally, he comes in and demands something, like:
"Why isn't my name on my stocking? Help me make a name tag for my stocking!"
"Get me on ToysRUs.com so I can make a Christmas list!"
"Let's put up the stockings. Right now!
"I want four crackers and four pieces of salami. Cut the salami in half and then in half again. No, not like that. Now I need more crackers."
"Did you print out the Christmas list?"
"Did you make me hot chocolate?"
"Can you turn on the village?"
"Where is the little tree for my room? I'll go back out to look."
"Can I have a candy cane?" No. (So he goes and eats the candy cane on the tree dressed as a reindeer, which I made in the 2nd grade, circa 1981).

Not sure I can do this for a month.
I think I hear rain! Am very pleased.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Big, Awesome, Fake Tree!

The Christmas tree is vertical and all the lights are functional! It is a Christmas miracle!

Last year there was no such miracle. The lights didn't work, so after I fiddled with them for a few hours, I stared at the tree with my angry eyes for a while. Then I cried for a while, occasionally peering at the offending tree with one swollen eye to see if the miracle would materialize, and the lights would pop on, like the wondrous star above the Baby Jesus. No such luck. But really did not expect it. My Christmas lights do not lead the wise men to Bethlehem, or announce to the world the birth of Son of God, but are only symbols of said miracle. By leaving the lights out, the Lord was telling me to stop being a whiner and be grateful for my two goods hands and accessibility to cheap lights at Walgreens.

So the busted white lights were ripped from the tree with wire cutters (4 hours, even with Jake's help. Occasional sob still escaping my heaving bosom), then replaced with my favorite gaudy colored lights that no one but me likes anymore (8 hours, wailing starts anew about hour 4, but this time mostly due to pain in lower back). Then I had to decide whether the abrasions on my hands and arms needed professional medical attention (decided, no, just gauze and neosporin), and I put on the ornaments (3 hours more).

Tommy was 6 months old at the time and didn't enjoy being put down, so this whole process took about 3 days. Even when I was done, I was not completely satisfied, because fake trees make me a little sad. Plastic trees are like plastic boobs: They look nice from far away, but if you get close enough to get a handful, well, it isn't quite the same (I've learned lots of things from Seinfeld re-runs). Don't get me started on plastic grass. AstroTurf in the yard is declasse.

This year, though, I'm starting to feel differently.
I'm in love with this 10', multi-colored, plastic beauty!

And since I had 2 extra days blocked off on my calendar for weeping, wailing, gnashing, and light stringing, I can now use the extra time to buy and decorate a little tiny real tree to put in the family room, surf the internet to see what I missed by not shopping on Cyber-Monday, and then blog about all of it. I'll post pictures of the tree when she gets all gussied up with her dangly bits and what-nots.

So, do you prefer fake or real? (Tree comments only, please.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Payson, Jell-o, and Sam: Christmas-crazed

On Friday afternoon, we packed up our Thanksgiving leftovers and a couple pairs of clean underpants and jumped in the van, heading north to Payson. I had been plotting it a couple of days, but Jake doesn't like to be pinned down too early. That's how Jake rolls: his insistence on spontaneity makes things interesting around here. Somewhere around Usery Pass, Jake called his parents, so they grabbed toothbrushes and jumped on the Beeline Highway, too. Sister Liz and Aunt Nan, who was in town from Nebraska, completed the party.

Jake took our guests for a ride in the Rhino on the golf cart path Saturday morning, and they came back in with frozen faces (is that what botox looks like?). It was COLD up there. The picture at left is from last summer.

I feel certain now that all my former Christmas cheerlessness was due to our hot weather. I am feeling feisty and festive tonight. I think a couple of days in bed under a down comforter, in front of the fire, reading, eating cranberry jello, and drinking Martinelli's from the bottle, are good for a girl's constitution. I changed clothes only between my stay-at-home sweats and my hot-girl-about-town sweats. Sometimes a girl needs to get out of bed to go to Arby's and get a french dip sandwich, and for that she needs black Juicy Couture.

I took the kids for a 'hike' (along the cart path), in the 'woods' (on the golf course). After a quarter mile or so, we veered off onto some elk trails looking for lost golf balls, in similar manner to Survivorman. The kids started to freak out that we would be lost forever (between holes 2 and 3 on the Chaparral Pines Course), so Ross, the good Wolf Scout, started marking our trail with tiny bits of litter and small quartz stones he was collecting for just such an occasion. The trail went into a steep decline, and the kids thought that meant you should pick up speed, and they all ended up rolling down the hill. I showed them how to step sideways so they wouldn't slip, but they stared at me bug-eyed. I got them back on the cart path and things went more smoothly. Sam even tried to step sideways on the cement hills.

Here is what Tommy did this weekend:
Climbed stairs (only rolled down on his head once)
Had lunch in bed with Mom

Played Super Mario Brothers with Dad on relic Nintendo Jake fished out of dumpster at Higley and Baseline after Grandpa Ross chucked it.


On our way back into the neighborhood tonight, Sam started exclaiming about all the Christmas lights. We started driving around, and saw all the highlights, including the Shmeltzs', Wards', and the guy with the leg lamp on Portobello. Sam was so excited he was shaking (it could have been exacerbated by the Gatorade he'd been drinking). He told me we don't have to get ALL the decorations up tonight. We could just do half and do the rest tomorrow. Great.

Below: Sam with his pop. You can see he was half-crazed before he saw the Christmas light display.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Squeezing Thanksgiving

Am stuffed with Thanksgiving feasting. I love Thanksgiving. Love that FOOD is main way of celebrating, but also that we take time to think about many blessings in our lives. Feel like all America are kindred spirits on this day, cooking and eating and ignoring muted football games (okay, maybe that's just me.) I love the American-ness of it. I feel like waving flags in manner of 4th of July celebrant. Am welling up with patriotic fervor. Must be lesser known side effect of tryptophan.

Wouldn't it be nice if retailers left me unmolested through Thanksgiving? Must they hang Halloween decor next to Christmas trees? I boycott early Christmas! Actually I don't boycott. I'm too lazy for such extreme political activism. I just try to avert my eyes from gaudy displays of green and red, and hum loudly when Barnes and Noble plays Christmas muzak two weeks before Turkey Day.

So Thanksgiving got squeezed. I am feeling squeezed, too. Don't sit down, Kelly. No time to rest and digest your candied yams and reflect on your many blessings. You can sit and relax when your Christmas tree is up and you've spent and saved a pluzillion bucks at the shops tomorrow at 4 a.m.!

So before it all starts (Melanie and I just spent fruitless hour on phone, finally deciding sleep worth more than dollars potentially saved on $5 Barbies at Mervyn's at 4 am), I'll take a moment to review some Thanksgiving highlights:

1. Thanks to Mom and Gini for great dinners. I did not shirk my duty to eat both of those delicious dinners.

2. Thanks for my family-in-law. I was thinking today what great people those Beesons are! But if only Jake's brothers had married a little less attractive, intelligent, and athletic girls, or if his sisters weren't just as great, I could let myself go a little more (than already have.) But instead must vigilantly keep my stuff tight ( at very least wear girdle), or will not be able to keep up with Jones's.

3. Thanks for my Taylor family. I'm thankful that Grandma Taylor, who will be 97 in January, was there today in good health (only she doesn't think so), looking fine and fashionable as always. My matriarchal family is comfortable like a velour sweatsuit. All the ladies in Mom's kitchen today were raised by mothers who were raised by the same mother (Verna). So we cook and clean and think similarly. Melanie and I used to gang up on our college roommates and berate them for having different tastes, habits, and recipes. (Not sure why we had any friends.)That pie crust today is a perfect ten because it tastes exactly like it has for generations (would be unsurprised to find recipe inherited as part of mitochondrial DNA). It is also a perfect ten because, goodness, it is tasty. I thought of Aunt Ardy tonight while doing dishes (and yesterday while making rolls). She always stayed to do dishes. Perhaps she was there doing dishes in spirit, and that's why I was thinking of her.

4. Thanks for my Layton family. Historically, most of my Thanksgivings were spent on the farm in Willcox, or in Central. I remember one Thanksgiving I got bucked off a horse, and once I got chased around a roping arena by a very sick (covered in its own vomit and feces) calf. My uncle Chuck thought it was hilarious. It was not hilarious. Another year all the kids went for a ride in the horse trailer and cousin Ben (I think) snuck in a cattle prod, using it on all his relatives. All these things were very exotic for this city girl(I grew up in LA), and gave me many stories to tell my city girl friends back home, who did not have such interesting, exotic Thanksgivings.

5. Thanks for Jake, Ross, Jane, Sam, Tom. At the Beeson's today, as Sammy sat down to his dinner of corn and jello, he looked at me and said: "Mom, you are the best jello-maker in the whole world!" (And I totally believe him.) At my parent's house, Tommy and Claire found the remnants of other kids' discarded pumpkin pie, and ate it all. Every bit. They gorged themselves on pie. It will be cute until I have to change the pumpkin pie diapers, probably at 6 am tomorrow.

Oh yeah. I'm thankful that Sam squeezed Desitin all over the floor in the office just now, instead of the living room. Not super thankful, though. He got sent to bed with no more jello.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wife Car, Part 2: Respect the Van

I know I'm being nerdy. Can't help it. Here is a little addendum to post entitled "Single Kelly's Wife Car." This here is the new '08, but same color as mine. New one has bluetooth and fancier Acura-like wheels. Mine is still obviously super-cool as per above advertisement.

Jake: maybe Santa will bring you chrome wheels.
Me: Please tell Santa no wheels.

Anyway, I done him (my van) wrong last time with that camera phone 'wide load' shot. If someone took a picture of my big rear end and put it on the internet, I'd be ticked.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Nap Hangover

Always the same. The house is quiet. The bed calls to me, and I begin to rationalize. Everybody else is already asleep: I'll just rest here under this big down quilt for a few minutes, and read.

I wake up disoriented in the semidarkness. My limbs won't move, and my brain is sluggish. I've drooled on myself a bit. Is it Sunday, or Monday? 6 am, or pm? I can hear the kids outside. Twilight, then. I can hear Jake in the kitchen, rustling around. He's either doing the dishes, or eating the bacon I cooked for tonight's soup. Likely, both. I need to get up and rescue my bacon, but I can't move. I know that once I get up, there is a long night ahead. I'll be tired, but not at all sleepy. I'll try to talk Jake into playing Trivial Pursuit on the XBox. He'll probably consent, since he can't sleep either. I'll probably win, even though there is a dark hole in my brain where all the answers to the Sports and Leisure questions should be. (I do have a niggling fear he might be throwing the games, just to see me squeal with unsportsmanlike glee, like I just won the superbowl or something). Oh, and Sam will be up, too. He's still asleep on the floor next to me.

Dinner was the Potato Bacon Soup with sharp white cheddar and heavy cream, and homemade wheat rolls. How very Martha-y of me. Only Martha probably doesn't waste her Sunday afternoons napping when she has dogs to brush and sheets to iron, and glitter to order from Germany for Christmas table place cards, and some of the very finest semi-sweet Belgian chocolate on her enormous pantry shelf, just waiting to be made into something remarkable.

Or who knows? Maybe her Sabbath is a day of rest, too. She does have a huge staff to do all that stuff on Monday.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Books, Grass, Babysitter

I finished The Thirteenth Tale today. I really enjoyed it. Dark and brooding, a sort of modern Jane Eyre. Lots of crazy relatives and family secrets in a big, neglected house in England. Very suspenseful. I bought two new books last night: The Birth House, and The Book Thief. Yes, I realize I am not getting to many books in my queue over there. Sue me.

Today we will cut the wheat grass and attempt to blend and drink it. Jake says he's not trying it. Not for any amount of begging, bribery, daring, or calling him chicken. Chicken.

I was planning a quiet evening at home, but Jake just informed me we have a sitter. Oh, the possibilities! Better go clean (me and house).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not so Glamorous

I think it's hard to be uptight and have four kids. If there's a flow, you go with it. Things never, that is: 0% of the time, go like you predict. Luckily, my personality is well-suited to my chosen profession (except that loud noises drive me bonks, and the noise will make me ill-tempered. So maybe I should say I'd be well-suited to motherhood if I could have a soundproof glass partition between me and the kids in the car like in a limo). I am not a list-maker, or the kind of gal who plans her whole day before it begins. I normally tend to forget things, but now I've set my cute red Blackberry Pearl to remind me 15 minutes before cub scouts starts (Ross, put on your uniform!), 2 hours before Family Home Evening (Oh no, Pearl is right! It is Monday, isn't it?), or two days before book club (so I have enough time to buy the book and read it. Usually.) Everything runs smoothly until I forget to charge my phone.

Today is such a day when all my careful plans, had I made any, would have been crushed; and the organized, super-productive Kelly, had there been one, would have been horrified by all the stuff that couldn't get done. But I only had plans to help in Jane's class, and clean up my kitchen after a day and a night of wild, raucous, wheat merriment. Maybe fold clothes, if things went very well.

So when Jane got up this morning and started to barf, I was able clear my schedule and hold her hair and the bowl for her with no problem at all. So far, she has barfed 12 times. She is keeping careful count, and keeping me updated. So I've been caring for her (no giant messes yet. She got sick on the tile once, but in our family rules for illness, that is considered fair play. I'll clean up tile with a smile.) Then, while Jane is lying on the couch clutching her bowl, and we are having yet another discussion about mean girls (just in general, not the movie), and why not to be one (I am somewhat concerned for her future), I noticed little squiggly blue lines on my fancy oriental rug. Apparently, when Tommy got into the dish washing liquid on Sunday, he did not get it only all over his feet as I previously wanted so desperately to believe.

Why is Dawn antibacterial orange scented dish soap BLUE? Wouldn't orange have been nicer? What can I use to clean it up? Grease? It won't stop foaming. I keep adding water and scrubbing but the suds won't quit. All the while I am fantasizing about living in a barn. A barn with AC. Barns rarely have oriental rugs. Two hours I worked at it, and all I've got to show for it are very clean hands. I guess the next step is to take it out and hose it, but this rug isn't small and I won't be able to lift it myself.

On Friday night at Bass Pro, Cousin Melly told me I needed a new blog profile image, because the one I have doesn't look a thing like me. She said it looked 'glamorous'. I took geometry, and that was no compliment. But today I realize, she is right. There is little glamour about me these days, and if you know me well, this image is probably disorienting. So I stole a new picture from SIL Jane's blog, because she is the only person lately who has been kind enough to record my image for posterity. (When I looked through our digital images, all I found of me were taken in Europe, where like everyone else, I had very bad hair. Old electrical systems in old buildings conspire to shut off your blow dryer before frizz can be tamed. There are also a few pics taken during or after water rides at various amusement parks. I deemed both (the bad hair and the drowned rat photos) highly entertaining but unacceptable for this purpose.)

Today has already been full of surprising adventures. Jake isn't coming home tonight (last test at Broker School), so I need to pace myself. Right now I need to go clean up the wheat flour powder off the kitchen floor, so it can't get mixed into the wet, sudsy spot in the family room and make paste. While I'm at it, I might look just a tiny bit glamorous. I have lost 3 pounds, and I am having a great hair day.

Check out my new blog Food Storage Lady. It has my handouts from yesterday's Wheat Soiree. My 14 grain bread is practically famous. Look over there if you have any interest in buying an electric grain mill. If I get an order of 10 or more they are $139.99 each. Cheap cheap.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wheat sprouting hiatus

I am the food storage lady. This mantle doesn't rest easily on me. I didn't learn to can food while sitting on my Hippie Mother's hairy knee. (My Mother is quite well groomed, but she did can things occasionally. I remember a fiasco with a bunch of ladies, a bunch of kids, and some grape juice that turned to wine. I believe one kid ended up with stitches in her head.)

Last week I was thrilled to find that my food storage sign-up notebooks fit into my new, 52% chance of being 100% authentic, Coach bag my Mom bought me at a purse party for $50. Jake said he found irony in the idea that I would carry around said food storage items in a bag that, at retail price, would cost enough to buy a family of three their basic foods for a year. What he is missing, of course, is that it was a great deal. Coach bags for 80% off is what Provident Living is all about!

I am teaching a class ("How S'wheat It Is". Not my idea) on Tuesday at 9 am and 7 pm (you are all invited) all about wheat. I'll be honest. I was feeling self-righteous and cocky over my vast wheat and bread-making knowledge. I thought, easy-peasy. I'll just share with these wheat novices my years of experience, and I'll wear a hand-crocheted caftan or maybe a Pioneer Day bonnet to give me extra credibility. Then the sign up sheet comes around last Sunday, with a blurb about what I'll be teaching. I had to get a out a pencil and take some notes. Among other things, I'll be teaching about sprouts. I don't sprout.

So I got on the internet. Everything on the internet is true, so I figured it was the best place to start. Plus, the library keeps sending me angry letters, so I can't check anything out of there. Turns out, you wet your wheat, it sprouts. Then, you can eat the sprouts, or you can plant the sprouts, and grow grass. You can juice the grass and drink it, but no, you can't smoke it. Or you can skip all these steps and buy wheat grass juice at Zuka.

When it comes to any sort of gardening, I'm like a sprout out of water. So far, though, sprouting isn't too hard. The problem is, I've been spending all my time with the sprouts, and I haven't given any thought to the rest (and most important) parts of my wheat presentation. They are like thousands of thirsty babies, consuming all my time. (Really they aren't. I'm just busy going to Costco, Bass Pro for Ryan's birthday, and going to see Hairspray at the late night dollar movies. It stunk like vinegar in there. I also read "The Girl With the Pearl Earring" (See my Shelfari review) for book club. Today is the day, though. We might go the the cabin tomorrow after church).

I will put the info from my handouts on here next week. Useful and practical information: this will be a first. Do any of you have any wheat questions or tips or trivia? Please leave a note addressed DEAR FOOD STORAGE LADY in the comments section of this post at your leisure.

Happy sprouting!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Single Kelly's Wife Car

Melanie talks to her wedding photo and tries to explain her current lifestyle to the girl in the white dress. She's pretty sure 'Wedding Melanie' doesn't understand why many things have, of necessity, been cast aside in 2007 Melanie's life. Things like eye makeup. I don't often talk to my past self, but I sometimes snicker at what 'Single Kelly' would make of all this. She had a very narrow perspective and was judgmental and intolerant (more than now). Looking back, I'm not entirely sure what she expected out of life. Maybe a Master's Degree, or, in leiu of that, a skinny hiney. Really, though, I've got it good. Much better than whatever Single, Small-minded Kelly had planned for me.

When my roommate from the UofA was getting married (I was about 21), she gave me the name of a lady who would sew the bridesmaid dress for me. This is how Single Kelly remembers it: We went to this seedy apartment way out in the sticks. We knocked on the door, but no one answered it because they couldn't hear us over the baby screaming. We were finally ushered inside the tiny, cramped, dirty, loud space. It smelled like the soggy cheerios that still sat on the table, even in the early afternoon. Something smelled sweet, too, like part-licked lollipops, and the smell grew stronger the longer we sat on the couch. There were about 6 children, between them wearing enough to fully clothe one child. One small boy was wearing a pair of faded character underpants, and since the elastic had given up entirely, they were rigged up with a safety pin. The safety pin had come undone, and the child stayed dressed only by holding up a wad of fabric with his left hand. Another child with sticky hands and face and a horribly saggy diaper was screaming for her mama, so Mama dropped her behind a baby gate and let her scream while she took my measurements. (36-24-36, of course.)

I was horrified by the scene. I was judging the heck out of that poor lady, and I'm probably going straight to Hell over it. The image of the boy in the underpants is still burned into my brain.

Looking back now, I see the scene in a new light. First of all, the apartment was at Power and Williams Field. Even now, that is still not a metropolitan center, but the poor woman wasn't a pioneer out there, homesteading her 100 acres. It wasn't seedy, just not new. Second of all, she was having a bad morning. Dishes weren't done, kids weren't dressed, nobody was napping (how could they, in the 400 square feet she lived in?). Plus, I think there couldn't have been more than 4 kids total.

As for the little boy in the underpants: I now have great respect for him. He had enough modesty to hold up those underpants all through our visit. During his potty training, Ross would strip naked when the doorbell rang, so he could run to the door and flash the visitors before we caught him. Instead of a "Return with Honor" sign above our front door, we need one that reminds us that "Underpants are the minimum standard." (Maybe one of you crafty ladies can make me one with your stickers and painted wood.) I'll tell you this, though. If any elastic in this house shows any sign of weakness, it goes in the trash, immediately. No safety pins. No questions asked.

Around age 20 I had a blind date with a boy named Brigham. Before I met all the wonderful Beeson Brighams (Hi big Brigham! Hi little Brigham!), I put this name in the same category as the name Nephi or Zerubabel. (I was also very judgmental about names. I might still be, but now I like Brigham.) First he took me to a Disney movie, then we went to dinner and had to analyze the Disney movie and compare it to all other Disney movies. Then he asked me what sort of "Wife Car" I would like to drive. I was done with this joker. "That one," I said as I pointed. To a Porsche. He didn't get it. "Where will you put all the kids?" he queried, very seriously. I told him, "In the trunk."

So I look back at Single Kelly, and I think, hey, I've come a long way. It sure would be fun to mess with her a little. I wish I could send November 1992 Kelly a letter to her dorm from 15 years in the future (today). A bit like how Dwight gets messages from future Dwight. (Only really his are from Jim). I think I would send her this picture:


The caption would read: Dear Kelly, this is what you drive in 2007. P.S. You like it, and you have four kids to go in it. Love, Future Kelly

Single Kelly will be so freaked out! Married to Jake! (It will be a shock to learn her future spouse's name on a vanity plate, but 19-year-old Kelly already thinks Jake is pretty cute. She has known him about 6 months in November '92). She is horrified by the mini-van. Not even its automatic lift gate, black leather seats, or sunroof can turn her head. (There is no place to plug in my Ipod, but Single Kelly doesn't know about Ipods, so she wouldn't be glum about that). 1992 Kelly wouldn't be impressed, even with all these features. 2007 Kelly is, though. She thinks it is a mighty fine Wife Car.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Four Eyes

"Ross," I said at Church last Sunday, "Open your hymnbook and stop messing around."
"Okay," he replied. "What page?"
I pointed to the front of the chapel, where the hymn numbers were posted.
"Yeah, I can't see those numbers," Ross informed me.
I looked at Jake. Jake looked at me.
"Just what he needs" Jake mutters under his breath.

So Ross will be getting some spectacles! The recessive gene strikes again. It looks like he got my version of the gene, because I got my first glasses in the middle of third grade, too! (Jake can't remember. He doesn't remember much. I'll bet he doesn't remember his first kiss. I should ask him.)

I'm sure Ross will look handsome and distinguished in his glasses, but it is likely going to be expensive. I'll bet he loses them, sits on them, breaks off arms, pops out lenses, then loses them again. He probably won't try to belt sand them like I did in plastics class in 7th grade. I had some hate issues with my glasses. I really wanted contacts. Or maybe I had contacts, but wanted new glasses. (Maybe I don't remember much either. That's okay. I'm sure I didn't kiss anybody worth remembering before Jake, anyway.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Blocking the Cartoon Hippo

Last night I had to block Youtube on all three computers here in the office. Jane was looking for a cartoon hippo that sings The Lion Sleeps Tonight, even though I told her no Youtube without parental supervision.

She also got on the treadmill at my parents' house yesterday, not 5 months after her joyride on the treadmill at Grandma Beeson's landed her in the ER. See the photo on your right, from last May. Children often exhibit poor judgement. I think it's part of their job description: Short, hungry person, who is willing to make enormous messes, cry and/or whine loudly and often, lose teeth occasionally, be innappropriate in public, show gross ingratitude, and have poor decision-making skills, way beyond the age of maturity. It is the parents' job to help coax these troublesome traits from their childrens' personalities, while at the same time doing the same for ourselves. It is tough work, and it goes on for decades.

In the meantime, before their self-control and good judgment kick in, I use baby gates, child proof locks, and an internet filter, plus more tricks that I'll send you in an email if you put $1.95 in my paypal account. I know you all want parenting tips from the lady who leaves her 18-month-old at home alone, so very soon I'll be rich!

So I glance over and see Jane staring at the main Youtube home page. It is filled with film titles like Sexy Japanese Girl, all of them breezing right past the filters. Cybersitter is normally rather tight with security, I don't know why it has a soft spot for Youtube. It is diligent with my blog, which as you know is pretty racy. I have to turn off the filter before I publish a post, or it will block every instance of words like girl, blood, mushroom, chicken breast, death, bomb, and hate.

For instance:
Without the filter: "Kelly cooked her roommates some chicken breasts with mushrooms, with some sinful Devil's Food Cake for dessert. The other girls hated it. The dinner was a bomb."

With the filter: "Kelly cooked her roommates some s with s, with some ful 's food cake for dessert. The other s d it. The dinner was a."

Jake told me his cousin Sam and wife Sarah haven't received many emails from Sam's parents Dick and Gaye since they installed the internet filter. (Blocked because of the sender's names, not due to salacious content. I hope.)

Have any of you had this sort of trouble? Do you have filters that work better than mine?

Anyway, I thought I'd put this out there, as a sort of public service announcement. Your kids may be safe from chicken breasts, but not from sexy Japanese girls. Be warned.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

364 Days 'til Halloween

My sister just called to ask if I was hard-of-blogging. "Yes," I told her, "I am." I've been reading, Halloweening, cleaning my house more than usual, and screening my calls to make sure CPS doesn't catch me. I haven't been blogging, or doing laundry.

It seems that in a single day I can blog, or I can read, or I can celebrate a holiday. I can't do even two effectively, in addition to my other chores. Maybe I'll try again someday with something less taxing: Arbor Day and a Richard Nixon biography, maybe. For now, though, I've learned my lesson. It is one at a time: I can walk or chew gum. Yesterday, I couldn't seem to do either. I'm so glad Halloween is over.

I am always harried on Wednesday morning. I go to help in Jane's class, so in addition to getting all the kids ready and out the door by 8, I have to be ready, too. Ready enough to not embarrass her in front of her peers by having scary witch hair and wearing yoga pants.

No, wait. I'm ahead of myself.

Tuesday night for dinner we had a whole baked chicken. Normally we eat off the breasts and throw the rest away, with only some fleeting guilt over starving children in Africa. This time, as he's getting ready to put it in the trash, Jake says:
"Do you want to do something with this? Make stock or something?"
"No," I replied. "Just toss it."
"Do you want me to do it?" he offers.

Oh, no! Has he been up in the middle of the night watching the food network again? Jake can do the laundry, clean the floors and bathrooms, and do the dishes. He makes me tell him: "You're the best at finding things," as a sort of mantra to remind me that he has important, irreplaceable skills. But if he learns to make stock, what use will I be? The Martha in me is getting riled. Plus, I began to feel guilty as I mentally tabulate the number of unboiled carcasses, now buried in landfills, that were my stewardship. So the pot goes on. My alarm is set for 3am to check the stock. Then, Wednesday morning at 6:25 I'm up again to strain it and cool it and freeze it. Since I'm up, I make eierpfannkuchen (close enough) for the kids for breakfast, since I know there will be lots of candy later. So far, so good.

Then the kids get up. In addition to the regular stuff, there is stuff that needs to go to the Halloween parties at school, Jake is in some sort of hurry, too, and the kids won't eat the breakfast I made. So I get ticked and start threatening to shorten their trick-or-treating by five minutes for every bite they don't eat. Just like all the parenting books say to do. Ross and Jane are sure I bought them Halloween shirts last year, but I can't remember them, and they spend half an hour at it, but prove me wrong and locate said shirts. Sam's, too. Hair, teeth, backpacks, and oh! no! make some lunches, and then I hear Jake yell, "Everybody in the van!" I get Tommy's bottle and diaper bag, give up looking for Sam's backpack, and head out the door. Jake is just leaving. I jump in and drive out. It is 8 straight up. Nope, not enough time to drop Tommy off. I'll have to go to school first. I get to Guadalupe and Sossaman (3 miles from home)before I pull down the rear view mirror and get a gander at my posse. This is what I see:

"Where is Tommy?" I say, real high-pitched-like.
Jane replies with a blood-curdling scream that lasts for some time, perhaps through the U-turn. Ross and Sam start yelling, too.

I call Jake, he says Tommy was still in his high chair, eating the eggs, last he knew. Jake seems unperturbed. I race home, and find Tommy watching Little Einsteins, just finishing his breakfast. (At least somebody likes it).

So...back to school, where we all get out because Sam needs to be signed into his classroom because of some lame state law. Strap Tommy back in and drop him at Grandma's, then head back to school to Jane's class. As I enter, the teacher greets me with: "So, you got your baby out of the high chair ok?" How am I supposed to look like good-classroom-helper-mom, when my own kid rats me out? So I sit there sorting all Mrs. Huish's graded papers, and she's probably deciding whether she should report me to CPS.

Next, I pick up Tommy and head to Wal-Mart. While I was gone, Grandma Mareen taught him about five new words: throw, whee, and tree among them. (Grandma is a speech therapist). My eyes are still bugging me. I buy a year's worth of the painful, out-of-focus contacts anyway. They tell me I should try reading glasses. I'm only thirty-four. I DON'T NEED READING GLASSES. I read fine WITHOUT your crap contacts! (I order the reading glasses anyway, because I am a pushover, and because they are free when you buy a year's worth of crap contacts.)

Go home and start on my Dinner in a Pumpkin. (I used only 3/4 lb. beef and added 2 diced carrots and 2 stalks diced celery, cooked until soft with the onions and mushrooms. Next time I'll add some sausage to it, I think.) I'm a slow cook, but the time consumed feels cathartic, like the Mormon equivalent of saying Hail Marys. It is penance for my earlier crime. I might have left Tommy home this morning, but look at us now! He's taking a long nap, and I am slaving over what is basically from-scratch Hamburger Helper which I will soon bake in a gourd! "You see," I purr contentedly to myself, "you are a great mother. You have a freezer full of homemade chicken stock. Leaving Tommy at home was probably Jake's fault somehow. Either he helped too much or too little. You just haven't decided which one yet." Rationalizing and shifting blame onto others always makes me feel much better. This is a difficult case because I was the last one out of the house and I was the one who was driving the car. It might be my fault.

About 1.5 hours into the cooking process, I realize my kids probably won't eat any of this, worked up as they are over all the candy-getting. So I call Melanie and invite her brood over for dinner, because, why have just four kids who won't eat your food, when you can have eight?

Sure enough, the big kids ate approximately 50% less than the babies. The 3 babies totally dug it, as did Melanie. She even liked that the pumpkin was still slightly undercooked, and pronounced it delicious. Thank you, Melanie. Still, wouldn't Wacky Wednesday at Sonic have been a great idea?

Finally, we went trick-or treating. It wasn't so hot we had to worry that Tommy would pass out in his chicken suit this time. We had a fabulous time, and I started snacking on a few Butterfingers and Almond Joys along the way. By about 7:45, I had a little headache from all the sugar. By 8:30, my vision was blurring (headache or bad contact lenses, you decide), and I was done with Halloween. "Sam," I said, "take off your parrot before you go to bed. It'll poke you in the neck."

See? A good mother, even in my pain. (Although, making sure he brushed his teeth would have been even better.)

























That's the last thing I remember before I passed out on my pillow. I remember I dreamed that my book club took a trip to England, where one girl, with the initials A.D., began a tawdry affair with a member of the IRA.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Recipe emails : my life :: Iron Chef : my TIVO

So, Hailey (http://haileytracks.blogspot.com/) tagged me! This is a first, so I think I'll participate, and even pass it on! I'm not very good at passing things along like those recipe emails (you know, send your favorite veal recipe to the first 20 people on the list and you will have an inbox full of veal ideas for yourself in 24 hours! Do it or you'll be run over by a dump truck within the week). I don't ignore them because I am against them in principle (aside from the threats on my life), but because I give them very low priority (even lower than cleaning my tile grout with a toothbrush). Iron Chef is low priority in my season pass list, but it sometimes gets recorded unless it interferes with Masterpiece Theatre or House Hunters International. I like Iron chef (especially that cute Asian guy who is the chairman's nephew), but not every show can get the top slot. What if Iron Chef was on Thursday night? It might show up on Now Playing only once or twice a year.

I do realize this entire analogy will be defunct if/when we figure out how to TIVO two shows at once.

Here goes:
1-Link to your tagger (like I did with Hailey), and also post these rules on your blog
2-Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird
3-Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs
4- Let them know they are TAGGED by leaving a comment on their blog

So, 7 facts...
1. I've already disclosed that I watch Masterpiece Theatre and Iron Chef America. I'm sure many of you will consider that random and weird.

2. My wing span is 6'2". It is supposed to be your height (I'm 5'9"), but I am apparently more like my chimp cousins than the average Homo sapiens.

3. I'm a Halloween Grinch. I wouldn't mind if we skipped all the candy and went straight to the Turkey. The kids have been needling me for weeks about their costumes and decorating the house. You know how some people have lights and headstones and goblins in their front yards? Or maybe they stay more traditional and put some pumpkins on the porch? Well, here is what the Beesons did last night:

The kids were appeased, but not at all fooled. They know I'm a Halloween underachiever.

As long as I am making Halloween confessions, I'll tell you I steal all the banana laffy taffy out of their pumpkins at night (now they they are too smart to believe me when I tell them, "it is a choking hazard and I'll need to confiscate it. This is for your own safety!").

4. At this very moment, my kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes.

5. I tell people I am left-handed, but I am actually mixed-handed, or have cross-dominance. I can easily learn new skills with either hand, although I would prefer the left. To fit in in this right-handed world, I have learned to cut with scissors, use a computer mouse, sew, and play the guitar right-handed. When I try to do these things left-handed now, it feels awkward. I can bat or throw a ball equally terribly with either hand.

6. I love sandwiches. I'm always looking for the next great sandwich. If you encounter a delicious sandwich, please tell me, and I will eat it.

7. I collect coats. In colder climates, it wouldn't be a collection, but just my winter wardrobe. But here in Phoenix, one sweater (with a long-sleeved t-shirt under it, if it is really chilly) will pretty much cover 99% of your winter weather needs. So why, then, do I keep buying them? My Mom has the same problem and is feeding the addiction. She bought me this little button-front, belted,wool beauty (right) at the Barney's outlet in Carlsbad last week (It still needs to go to the tailor to get the sleeves lengthened). At least it will get some air time when we go to New York in January!

Okay, here are the 7 people I tag:
Jake http://diversifiedbeeson2.blogspot.com/
Goodness sakes, Hailey! This is taking awhile! Now I have to go leave 7 comments? When am I supposed to do my dishes?