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.

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 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!