Monday, January 26, 2009

Conversation with a Six-Year-Old

JB was at my house yesterday and we had a little chat. As a six-year-old, she is doing her best to figure out the world and her place in it and all the anomalies that pop up in her life. I am an anomaly. I'm an adult, I'm out of college and I'm not married. Most of the other adults around her are married and have kids. I could tell her head was spinning with these realities as she came out with this particular gem the other day.

She was playing toys with her little brother and her cousin in my little living room/kitchen while I fixed them a snack. Space is tight so we have to maneuver around each other sometimes. JB seemed to be considering this issue when she spouted out this thought. 

JB: When you grow up and get big and never get married, you get to move into a tiny little apartment, not a house.

Me: Well, no, you could buy a house. I want to buy a house some day and then you will have lots more room to play when you come over. 

JB: Why don't you buy a house now?

Me: (sputtering just a bit) I'm not ready. 

JB: Lots of people get married and buy house.

Me: Yes, but not all people. 

JB: Why don't you just get married? 

Yes, why don't I? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

RECIPE: Smoked Paprika Almonds

The allergy-free diet has been going strong for a week now. While I'm pleased as punch about this week, I'm even more interested to see how week 18, 19 and 20 develop simply because I'd like to have jumped all the hurdles I'm going to have to jump through to actually arrive at those weeks. In other words, mama wants to know if she can make it that long. 

It has by no means been a obstacle-free week. For example: 
  • opened and used a can of black beans and then looked a the label only to discover that it contained sugar. I like to think I'm a pretty consistent label reader but this one caught me totally off guard. Why is sugar added to beans? 
  • foraging after a party at the parents' house this weekend and took a big old bite of flank steak only to realize within seconds that it had been marinated in soy sauce (contains wheat); that didn't stop me from taking 3 or 4 more bites; it took me that long to wrestle myself away from it. 
  • could not eat my smoked paprika chicken without what I call special sauce (mayo, ketchup, dijon mustard) and said a fond farewell to ketchup (contains sugar) as a part of that mix; know that I will be experimenting with making my own ketchup just so I can keep making the special sauce.
Thank goodness in all of this for Elana over at She's been keeping me sane. She's also been keeping me cooking. In the last few days, I've made her chocolate chip cookies, her almond butter blondies, her cod piccata, and her smoked paprika almonds. All were yummy, but the smoked paprika almonds were fragrant and smoky and hot. I tested them out on Meg's clan and got rave reviews. 

I modified the recipe a bit because I'm not a spicy hot fan. You should know though that any recipe that starts with fresh garlic and smoked paprika is going good places. 

from Elana at

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3 cups raw almonds
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
2. Add garlic to the skillet and saute for 3-5 minutes, until the garlic is almost brown
3. Add smoked paprika and salt and stir to make a paste
4. Add the almonds and stir constantly until they are thoroughly coated
5. Continue toasting almonds in the skillet until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes
6. Remove from heat and allow the nuts to cool in the pan
7. Serve

They actually made me think of popcorn too. There was this delicious, toasty smell wafting through my house the rest of the night and I ate more almonds than should likely be consumed in one four-hour period. 

Easy, fast and you may not be able to stop at just one!

Monday, January 19, 2009

What's Lost is Found!

I lost my camera month ago when I took my sister and my niece to The Nutcracker. We had one of those fun, fancy outings where we went to lunch and went to the ballet and participated in the Sugar Plum party afterwards. It was a great day. Except that the camera has not been seen since that day. 

I've made phone calls, searched my car and begged and pleaded to find the camera. I feared that I dropped it in the snowbank along my driveway or that I misplaced it in all the hubbub of our big day. I've gone through my car no less than three times searching for it in every corner and crevice. 

Then things got really bad: I started dreaming about it. I would wake up from a dream so happy because I found my camera. It was in my hands again and I was taking pictures and uploading them recording the big events and daily minutia that made up my life. Only to realize that my discovery was a dream. 

Sunday after church, I was loading five kidkins into the car for our weekly after-church party at my house when I caught a glint of sunshine off something in the cubby of the passenger door. As I reached down and touched it, I nearly hyperventilated and started screaming--an act while not premeditated was NOT a good idea with five children around me. I started babbling incoherently: My camera! My camera! I found my camera! I've been praying about it! I've been praying about it! My prayers were answered. I found my camera! 

I felt like I had won the lottery. I knew I loved my camera. I knew that I missed it. But until you nearly burst into tears in front of the preschool crowd because you found your favorite, lost, digital appendage, you have no idea how much you missed said appendage. 

So for your delight and mine, I recharged the battery, loaded her up and snapped away the day I found it. It just happened to be Sunday dinner at the parents' house. Okay, with a few shots of my place too. 

This was the last photo on the camera taken from the back seat of the car on the way up to the ballet. Look at the wild socks. Any guess who?

My favorite little lamp that sits on the counter and makes me think "cottage" every time I look at it. 

I don't think I ever shared the new black linen cupboard that has now been residing at my house for several months. I break into a smile every time I look at it. It expands the shelf space of my bathroom by, oh, let's see, 200%? 

Pillows on the couch. I've got to find new pillows--or, gasp! make new pillows--but the pillow effect is a must for the couch. 

The kitchen is clean. It's not been so clean the last week with all my cooking adventures, but when it is clean, I like to record it. For posterity, that is. For posterity that doesn't exist yet, but if they ever do, I'm hoping they will like my cooking. Or at least know how to properly admire my kitchen when it is clean. 

Miss P. She's one of the reasons cooking has been fun. She hung out with me the other night and we made cookies. She said next we are going to attempt pie. I say attempt is an appropriate verb because pie is not yet something in my repertoire. She assured me she would assist me. 

Mr. K. with a rubik's cube. I hated those things as a kid. Never figured mine out. I finally just pulled the whole thing apart and put it back together manually with all the right colors. Then I never touched it again. I'm not much of a puzzler. 

Oh, she loves having her picture taken. Yes, she does. She'd much rather be on the other side of the camera but I caught her anyway. She and Cissy were discussing important and crucial things pertaining to Redroko. You visited it lately? You should. Exciting things are happening over there. 

Miss Belle. Lovely dress from mama's recent trip to China. Prepping for her role as big sister and working on her ABCs. Smart little cookie, that one. 

Cute too. 

Who dat? 

Uncle Rus in one of his many moments of glory at the Sunday dinner table. 

Mattie--I think this is a particularly good shot of him. Great smile. I think we were talking about our trip to the cabin at the time and that always makes everybody smile. 

Little Mr. A. He was sick, sick, sick. Seemed to hit him after they showed up. He wasn't his usual rambunctious self and just wanted to sit in mama's lap and cuddle. 

Aunt Diana. The yellow paper in her hands was for notes we were writing to her missionary daughter, Lauren. Lauren, we hope you feel our love out there. 

So after five weeks and one day, the camera has returned to its rightful place inside my purse. You can bet I'll be even more diligent about its location from here on out. At least I'm not particularly interested in crying in front of the kidkins any time soon. It scared them. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Working the Work

Today was one of those days. I woke up with a knot in my stomach and wished the day was over before it began. I had a big project at work with a roaring deadline that was going to be tedious and difficult with undetermined parameters of misery to inflict on me.

I wished the whole drive to work that I had pushed myself out the door an hour earlier, if only for the fact that I could be an hour closer to the end of this awful project. The last several days have been a string of headaches, issues and decisions between school and work. You know, one of those weeks.

I had three bags of things to carry in to my office, so I parked in fifteen-minute parking, carried in my load and then immediately got absorbed in the big project and promptly forgot my car. Only to remember two hours and one parking ticket later. For which I used up my entire storehouse of faux swear words: Dang it! Oh, my heck! I can't freakin' believe this! Shoot!

Yes, one of those days.

What do you do but plunge in and face it, right? Or at least that is what I kept telling myself. My modus operandi in the past has been to curl up in the fetal position and scream "I won't do it! I won't do it! I won't do this day! I don't want this headache!" which often leads only to me having to deal with the headache the next day or the next or the next. Eventually it bites. And the bite only gets bigger. And bigger. AND BIGGER.

I've had enough of those bites, thank you very much.

So, now I bite back. In smallish ways like with lots of exclamation-point-filled emails to coworkers and even more moaning and groaning in private in my office. I'm not quite past the temper tantrum stage even if I don't lay myself out on the ground and wail away with my fists pounding the floor.   

Work, I'm just beginning to realize, is often untidy, undefined and unending. Work takes work. I've never been much of a "put your shoulder to the wheel" kind of gal. I've been more of the "let me ride in the wagon" type. I've been thoroughly convinced since I was a child that if reincarnation exists then I was a pharoah's daughter in a previous life because I'm all about lounging around all day in a pretty room with someone fanning me nonstop and someone else feeding me grapes.

It's an attitude I've only recently realized may not serve me well. At least when it comes to days like this one. This kind of day doesn't respond well to calls for bigger fans and more grapes. This day doesn't like it at all. It barks back "Grow up. Get your own fan! Get your own grapevine!" to which I have no response because I don't know how to grow a potted plant let alone my own grapevine. See, more work.

This kind of day teaches me though that work doesn't just go away because I want it to depart. It plants itself firmly in my gut and digs itself deeply into my psyche and refuses to leave until I get down and dirty and make decisions, define parameters, and delegate when necessary. And often I have to do so with an imperfect set of data in front of me. In other words, I'm going to make bad decisions simply because all the facts are not in front of me. I'm going to screw up. I'm going to regret some of my choices. But thems is just the breaks, folks. Thems is the breaks. 

Could someone please tattoo that on my forehead, so I'll remember? Mostly, I try to forget it. Like right now, when I have this awful itch to call for grapes and a fan. And someone else to do all the heavy lifting in my life.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The One Dad Called Sugar

Today is her birthday. I hope it is a good day for her full of lots of love and lots of happiness. Here she is on her 6th birthday with her new Cabbage Patch doll planted firmly under her arm. And don't you love her pink nightgown?

Meg was my first sister. She showed up when I was five years old. I woke up one cold, snowy Sunday morning to find Grandmother in the living room with my four brothers. She told me that Mom had gone to the hospital to have her baby and Dad went with her. I was hoping they would come back with a baby sister for me.

We had early church that day so we got dressed and Ric did my hair. He made a valiant attempt--he was 10 years old and had never wielded a brush to do a little girl's hair before--and I at least went to church with my hair combed. I had never gone out the door without a ribbon, a bow, a ponytail or curls and this new look of my hair parted in the middle and brushed straight down was new and a bit bothersome. I was mostly afraid that it made me ugly.

Granddad took us to church and afterwards we went to home with him where we met up with Dad. Dad told us we had a new sibling but didn't want to tell us if the baby was a boy or girl until Mom was on the phone and could tell us herself. So, we crowded into the breakfast room at Grandmother's house and Dad called Mom at the hospital. After he reached her, he had to prolong the suspense a bit more by asking each one of us: "Do you want a boy or a girl?" Ric (10) said a girl, Rus (8) said a girl, Adam (6) said a girl too, and, of course, I shouted that I wanted a girl. Even Matt, who was 3 1/2 years old said he wanted a girl too. Once we cast our votes, Dad said "It's a girl!" and we started jumping up and down and yelling with excitement. A girl! A baby sister! A little wee one who wears pink! We had the baby girl we all wanted to join our family.

That is most of us wanted. Matt didn't join our excitement. He didn't jump up and down or shout his joy. He just stood there silently. When Dad asked him what was wrong, he said, "Shucks, I wanted a boy." Turns out little Matt assumed that babies came equipped with motor skills like he had and Matt had to do one daily job with his motor skills: feed the dog. Matt was hunting a replacement and figured a boy would fit the bill perfectly.

Meg has since won him over to her side.

She tends to do that with people. Win them over to her side. She does it quietly and with a smile but she does it.

She certainly won me over from that day in Grandmother's breakfast room when I first heard I had a sister. I couldn't have asked for a better one.

Lots of love today, Blondie, Jamie Jr., Princess and Sugar. You deserve every last drop of it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What's for Dinner Now?

I'm doing an allergy-elimination diet for the next two months on my doctor's recommendation. I got tested for some food allergies/intolerances and it came up with a long and lovely list of potential baddies that I get to now abstain from for the next several weeks. The doc said to try it for two to six months but I say let's begin at the beginning and see where I land after eight or nine weeks.

That list of baddies includes: wheat, oats, soy, corn, peanuts, cane sugar, beet sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, preservatives and all dairy--you know, milk, cheese,  yogurt and the like.  

My response to all the good news? 

Is water the only thing left? 

I've done deprivation before and deprivation and I, well, we don't tango. I cry "uncle" when the going gets tough. I just don't like the restrictions. You even mention the word diet around here and I plunge myself head first into a vat of milk chocolate and swim for my life. 

So, here am I. Holding myself back from the edge of chocolate nirvana and attempting to eliminate all these foods for a few weeks. 

At the end of two months, I get to pick one eliminated food item and add it back into my diet for a day and then I get to wait three more days to see if I have any negative reactions to it. If not, then the food is considered okay. If I do have a reaction to it, then that food stays on the baddie list. Then I repeat that cycle for each food item. 

So, excuse me if I moan and whine and kick the floor a bit as I do this thing for the next few weeks. It's really not so bad, right? I get to eat as many veggies as I want. I get to eat almost every fruit on the planet. And chicken, fish, turkey and steak are all just fine. It's really just anything that comes in a box, bag, package, wrapper, container, can, bottle or drive-thru window that I need to stay away from. Which is really what I should be doing anyway. 

So good bye for now pb&j sandwiches, popcorn, tortillas, cheese, yogurt, chips, candy, dessert, bread, pasta, crackers, soymilk and oatmeal. Parting is such sweet sorrow. May it be but a short separation. Or if not, may I take it with good grace and a smile. 

Or if not, can I least figure out what to make for dinner and may it be goooooood

Saturday, January 10, 2009

RECIPE: Spinach Turkey Burger

I promised to share my favorite spinach turkey burger recipe a while ago. I made it again the other day and realized I had not yet shared it. I love this recipe for a few reasons: (1) I can eat a burger and feel like it was healthy (2) I looooooove the combination of the spinach with red onion and garlic, (3) I get a great serving of greens and its not a salad.

Really, I'm much more of the type to go out and buy a bacon double cheeseburger. So, I was shocked to find this recipe hit the "burger button" spot in a big way for me without a problem.

This is a simple, easy, hearty, healthy recipe. When I discovered it a couple of months ago it was an immediate hit. Often I'm underwhelmed by a recipe or overwhelmed by the intricacies of the instructions, but this recipe is straightforward and simple. I love those kind of recipes.

Typically, I find myself at the grocery store stocking up for the week and unless I have my menus for the week mapped out I will return home having forgotten one essential ingredient for some recipe. This recipe is so easy though, I doubt I will forget anything.

My version is a variation on this recipe from Mostly, I cut the feta cheese and replaced the frozen spinach with fresh spinach. I think the fresh spinach is much yummier.

Spinach Turkey Burger

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 box or bag, 5 ounces, fresh spinach
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, lightly crushed in the palm
  • 8-10 thin slices mozzarella cheese (I use almond mozzarella)
  • 1 1/3 pounds ground turkey breast,
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Salt-Free Steak Seasoning by McCormick)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. To one side, add a little grapeseed oil, add the chopped garlic and chopped red onion and cook 5 minutes. Transfer the onions and garlic to a bowl to cool. Return pan to heat. Add grapeseed oil to pan and then add fresh spinach without stems. Cook over medium heat until spinach wilts about 3-5 minutes. Add the spinach to the bowl with cool onions and garlic and season with 1 teaspoon of oregano. Add in ground turkey, grill seasoning and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Mix and form into 8 small to medium patties, 1-inch thick. Raise heat on pan to medium-high. Add patties and cook 6 min on each side. Or you can grill on an indoor grill for 5 minutes. Add mozzarella slices to top of patties and melt them for 1-2 minutes.

Makes 8 small burgers or 4 large burgers.

Note: The original recipe said to cook the onions and garlic in extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat, but extra-virgin olive oil is not made for sauteeing things at high heat, so I use grapeseed oil to sautee the onions, garlic and spinach. Still adds a great flavor but grapeseed oil can withstand the higher temperatures. You could use an olive oil made for high heat temperatures, but you might want to try grapeseed oil and see if you like it too.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tidbits and Teasers

Here are some things I came across in the last few days that I've either just enjoyed or they have made me think.

CJane's latest entry about her sister NieNie. If you've been following this story, like me, you will know that CJane (Courtney) took over her sister's blog, the NieNie Dialogues, this past summer when NieNie and her husband were severely injured in a plane crash. Before that Courtney had been writing about her struggles with infertility. She's gained quite a readership in the process of both of these stories. In this latest entry she addresses the evolution of her blog and how she began writing for her sister when NieNie was so badly injured. Then Courtney shares the exciting news that her sister is ready to take over her own blog again next week and begin telling her story now after the accident. I think it is a sweet, tender piece about the love between sisters and how no matter the cost, we do whatever we can when someone we love is hurting.

DietGirl's guest post on Refuse to Regain. Shauna Reid from Diet Girl started an extraordinary journey in 2001 when she began to lose weight. Over the period of four or five years, Shauna chronicled that journey on her blog as she proceeded to lose over half her body weight or a total of 175 pounds. She was one of the first famous weight loss bloggers and she ended up writing a book about her story. She's an Aussie girl living in Scotland and I love her use of terms like "knackered" and "mucking" and "wobbly bits." And while I enjoy Shauna's writing, this guest post about the reality of maintenance has got to be one of the most valuable pieces I've ever read. So many people out there are writing about the process of losing weight, but very few of them are dealing with the harsh realities once the euphoria of the weight loss wore off. Shauna addresses the realities. This is exactly the kind of stuff I've been wanting to read. I lost a bunch of weight three years ago and then a year later I regained all of it. I've been a bit gun-shy since then because I don't want to repeat the emotional fall-out I experienced on that journey. Shauna is the first sensible voice I've heard with regards to the long-term journey.

Science Friday podcast on how to stick to New Year's resolutions. They interview psychologist John Norcross who talks about how to succeed with New Year's resolutions. I think the podcast is excellent alone for the tidbit that 71% of people will succeed with their resolution if they report at least three times to a friend or family member regarding their goal. Dr. Norcross has other ideas and insights about how to really attain your resolutions this year.

Just a little inspiration for your Friday. I know they all lent me some insight.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

School Ties

School has started.

And so has my stress level.

'Nuff said?

The euphoria of the new year has dissipated. It's cold outside. The bank balance is much lower after Christmas. And I haven't been given any more magic pills from work.

It's time to buckle down, return all those DVDs to my intern, put my head down and go to work.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Out of My Mouth

Three comments overheard today coming out of my mouth:

I LOVE my car.
Admittedly, I say this often, but I really, really love my 4WD on days like today. I even do donuts in the snow--every time I get behind the wheel in weather like this.

I had a great day at work!
Miracle, indeed. Despite 14 headache-inducing problems and long, long to-do list, I was completely energized by everything today. Please, could someone feed me this kind of magic pill every day?

I need to make him/her cinnamon rolls.
I don't make cinnamon rolls. But my mother does. I think I said this in her presence hoping she would do it for me so I could offer it to two very nice people who earned a bit of sainthood today.

  • The first is some unknown neighbor who cleared two feet of snow off the very big, very wide driveway in front of my house. We now have snow mounds the size of small mountains on each side of the driveway. You, whoever you are, are a prince among men (or a princess among women). If I were your fairy godmother I would grant you 100 wishes instead of just a measly little three. You deserve every one of them. Bless you, you good-hearted, hard-working, too-thoughtful person.
  • The second is for my intern at work. She and I had a cozy chat yesterday as we cleared out some boxes in my office. And in the midst of that little chat, I discovered someone who loves my current obsession more than me. She owns all five seasons. And then loaned me all five. God bless America. And give my intern anything she wants. FOREVER. She just made my day, my week, my month. I think she needs a raise.

This day was definitely a keeper.

P.S. Plus, I got to celebrate this cutie's birthday. It was the frosting on the cake of my day.


Monday, January 5, 2009

What a Way to Begin

I love the new year because it is full of possibilities, hope and the joy of new beginnings. Fresh beginnings. Beginnings that could mark the day that I overcame a bad habit, accomplished a long-wished-for goal, or started doing life just a little bit better.

Today reminded me why I'm so very, very bad at new beginnings.

I wanted to go to bed early last night, but I didn't.

I wanted to get up early this morning, but I didn't (except technically when I rolled over at 4:00AM and burrowed further under the covers).

I wanted to get out the door on time, but I didn't.

I wanted to eat better, but I didn't. (Although, not eating the frosting on that first piece of cake--I call that a step in the right direction.)

I wanted my new computer set up at work, but it isn't.

I wanted my new iPod all set up with my calendar, to-do list, and email, but it isn't.

I wanted my house clean, my car clean, my laundry done, my bathroom scrubbed, my diet begun, my exercise routine down, a new job, my first house, totally debt-free bank balance, and me rockin' a bikini body.

All without lifting my pinkie finger. If only my fairy godmother had come through for me.

It was a nice list, a good list, a list worth noting. At least in my mind, if not in the actual, physical reality of the world.

And once again, I'm reminded that setting 20 exceedingly difficult goals for the new year gets me in the exact predicament I so loathe: me warding off the beginnings of a panic attack.

Well, I guess I can't say that I'm bad at all beginnings. At least not of the anxiety-disordered kind.

Happy New Year to me!

What about the rest of you? What New Year's goals do you have? Are they recent goals or goals that have been sitting on your plate for several years now? How are you planning on accomplishing those goals? In one year from now what do you most want to have accomplished in 2009?

Remember, a goal unwritten is only a wish! So, let's hear it, people.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008: Reflections on a Blog

I've been browsing my archives and reflecting on the past year and feeling grateful, pleased and happy that I've been in the blog world over a year now. I started this blog a bit tentatively because I wasn't clear about my voice or the purpose of my blog. Well, there is nothing like writing several times a month to help you figure out your voice and your purpose. I think I'm growing more and more into my own voice and I feel much more clear about my purpose. It is exactly what my header says--Writing my story: a cornucopia of the loves that make me write. The loves that I've written about most this year include: travel, family, interior design, books and movies, school and then the all-encompassing "daily" label that covers a multitude of topics that I just happen to be thinking about on that day.

This year has had its ups and downs and several highlights. For me those highlights include the family trip to Denmark, a friend's wedding and another friend's long, summer visit, starting school again, re-organizing my house, getting furniture restored or adding new pieces to my collection, and celebrating birthdays, holidays and every day with good friends and family. And really, one of my favorite parts of the whole year has been the chance to write so much and interact with friends and readers on the Internet. It has been my favorite hobby this whole year. I've always written in journals and notebooks and in little asides that litter my hard drive and my bookshelves but the immediacy of writing and actually having someone or anyone read that writing is like the ambrosia of the gods. Too yummy.

I've put together a list of my favorite posts this year. Thank you, readers and lurkers and bloggers alike who've read, perused and inspired me this year to catalog, define, and elucidate the hills and valleys that have charted my course these past months. You've made this ride amazing.

Call Me Miss Potter, If You Please
". . . The character of Miss Beatrix Potter. A quiet, somewhat homely, refined woman who has been under the tight scrutiny of her mismanaging mother for all of her adult life, but who lives an active artistic life with her painting and writing. I want to be Miss Potter. I don't want the mother, or the strict Victorian society, but I do want the countryside of the Lake District, the constant drawing of nature, and the writing of books. If anything embodies my secret desires this is it--to live the artistic life."

Hold My Hand, Forever
"My mother came here as a bride at 21, a California girl used to sand clutching her flat belly. They settled on a little farm where she learned how to irrigate, drive a tractor, and chase stray bulls from the garden on a Sunday afternoon in her heels. She birthed six babies through sixteen years on that dusty acreage west of town. All because one Saturday afternoon while watching a football game and drinking root beers, a dark-haired, earnest cowboy named Ralph held her hand and she never wanted him to let go."

The Born Business
"I think that birth is such a mind-altering and perspective-changing experience that we need to give women every opportunity, every advantage, and every option available to them to make their birthing experiences positive and empowering. And that is where I think a movie like The Business of Being Born is a great introduction to the discussion."

The After-Easter Sale
"How much chocolate is too much chocolate? I mean, really. Two bags? Four? Eight? I'm even burping chocolate. (Note to self: marshmallow bunnies don't taste better the second time around.)"

Isn't that Nice?
"It was soon my turn to have my purchases rung up. The cashier started by apologizing. He was so sweet and so young and I was so wicked and impatient. And then, that trick of my mother’s kicked in: Despite my anger and my impatience, I plastered my oh-so-sincere smile across my face and turned on the sweet.

'Oh, that’s okay. I’m sure it was frustrating for you too. You were so kind to help her out like that. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been so accommodating.' More like I would have turned cashier-kamikaze and head butted her out of my line after scanning her items three extra times."

Chocolate Choices
"You see the people of the world can be divided into two very important categories: Those Who Love Icing and Those Who Hate Icing. And I am a long-time, card-carrying member of the first group. I've always judged a cake by its icing. . . . And this cake, this cake of Sam's? It has the best frosting I have ever tasted in my life. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I might do illegal acts if this frosting were the pay off."

What I Miss About Having Company
"And of course, the talking. The discussions that ranged over five days. The particular question that my friend asked me about an old, old problem and I didn't have an answer, which made me see the issue in an entirely new light. The airing of opinions and refining of tastes that occurred as we shared and explored an array of topics. The great long conversation of our friendship that has stretched across many years, many states, and many emotions."

Denmark Day 1
"The gate agent had just taken my bag and Spencer's bag because there was no room left in the overhead compartments of the very full plane. That look of concern on Spencer's face reads something like this: "Why did that NORTHWEST gate agent not give me a claim ticket for my bag? Why do they insist that they CAN'T gate check my bag? How is my bag supposed to arrive in Copenhagen when the gate agent (read: wing nut) ripped the bags out of my hands without so much as asking my name? Why don't I have a claim ticket again?" (read: someone didn't do HIS job. Same someone who will insist 14 days later that it was EVERYONE else's fault but his that our luggage takes nearly 10 days to be located. Same someone who will not answer our very expensive international calls until we have called him a total of 23 times. Yep, just remember. Don't ever let a NORTHWEST gate agent take your bags from you. They will fall into a dark abyss that only said wing nut will be able to locate. Because he is the ONLY ONE in the UNIVERSE who knows the claim ticket number. And no airline, airport, or lost luggage agent will begin to assist you without first asking, "What is your claim ticket number?" You mean the one I NEVER RECEIVED?)"

Denmark Day 3
"The sign at the pier on Gammel Strand where we exited our harbor tour [says Havenerundfart]. You see the last four letters on that sign? Well, that one tiny little word in Danish means "speed" or "momentum" or "rate" or "velocity" and is on many, many signs throughout the country. (And yes, the Danish meaning only added emphasis to the English meaning.) Let's just say that one little word inspired hours and hours and hours of hilarity on this trip. Especially when Rus would do things like mispronounce the sign below to say something the equivalent of "Have you a fun f**t?"

Denmark Day 4: Part 2
"But one chair went unoccupied. The boys weren't about to take it from one of the girls and the girls thought they would be more comfortable on the floor than one of the bigger boys. Julie was the closest girl to the unoccupied chair and she was protesting and desisting from claiming it with great good humor. That is until the mother ship, Jamie, decided the matter by barking the order, 'Julie, get up in that chair.' To which Julie's body responded with a frightening speed, while her face registered total shock."

The Not-So Secret
"I stink at secrets. Always have and likely always will. At least secrets about myself. From the time I was three years old and experienced the horror of having the longest-calf-needle-in-America plunged into my backside by my seven-year-old brother who was chasing me and laughing wickedly at my terror of said needle."

Tagged: Joys and Fears in My Life
"I'm easily startled. This has something to do with my ability to get quickly absorbed by whatever is in front of me. Please never, never walk up behind me (or beside me, or really, even in front of me) without sounding some kind of alarm or notice or warning. Fog horns work best. If you do walk up without warning me, be prepared to defend yourself. I've been known to utter a shriek so high-pitched your ear drums will split. Then I will begin to flail wildly in your direction and I take no prisoners. (Think Jackie Chan meets Baloo the Bear and you will have the right idea of what a terrifying spectacle you will behold). I nearly took my boss out a few months ago when he approached my desk suddenly and with a booming voice. The black eye was with him for about three weeks."

How Do You Do It?
"Then the pressure starts to build and either more balls get thrown in the rotation or I have to increase the speed that I throw the balls in order to get everything done. Then it starts to get ugly. I start dropping balls everywhere, throwing them wildly, and looking like a crazy person as I try to keep things under control until eventually I can't track any of the balls or the direction they are flying and I put my hands down in defeat and drop everything. Then I curl up in a corner and wish I could die."

Back to Life, Back to Reality
"The native landscape here can be strong and vibrant with rich browns, bold oranges, and startling shots of green. But today it seems parched and withering after the green softness of coastal Denmark. Today I'm seeing with new eyes an old place that I love. And that place isn't winning."

Here's the Dish
"Maybe that is why I've been avoiding, delaying, and running from the implications. I've been really unsure for a long time where I am, if I'm settled and what my life looks like. I've been in a giant holding pattern waiting for the next big thing to come along: my fabulous life as a writer in New York, my adventurous life as deep sea diver in Alaska, my neo-spiritual life as hiking guide in the mountains of New Mexico. Something or anything different than the job I work, the body I have, and the indecision that continues to mount in my life."

Love to Order
"Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy? My order would go something like this: tall, dark and handsome; spiritual, but hold the fanatical; funny, but hold the flatulence jokes; intelligent, but hold the ego; with a side order of will-take-me-to-any-show-ballet-or-theater-without-gritting-his-teeth."

The Buggy Ride
"And that high-pitched shriek, she'd been shrieking in the back of her throat? Well, it turned in to a full-blown panic attack when we hit the Great Cloud. Still keeping her mouth shut and her sunglasses on, and still managing to keep the Polaris on the road, Amy began a frantic tango of survival, the likes of which I have never been privy to witness in this life and hope to never see in the next."

The Lawn Chronicles
"Truly I began to wonder what he was thinking. Until this morning that is, when I realized that Mr. Twenty-Two wasn't lazy, ineffecient, too busy, or lacking in a responsibility gene. He was making a fashion statement. For what our lawn is now sporting is a mullet. We are business in the front, and party in the back."

"I think this year has been especially hard for me because I keep expecting that I'm going to make a trip up to Burley to see them and she will have chili on the stove when I arrive and we will sit on the blue "divan" in the living room and catch up on the news. Then I will go to sleep in the pink bedroom upstairs and wake up in the morning to the smell of popping bacon and sit in the little breakfast room and eat Apple Jacks with half and half."

Why Chocolate Doesn't Do the Trick During a Week Like This
"I must thrive on anxiety for as much as I milk it and coax it and welcome it into my home and heart. It is like a lover who courts and woos me with the constant plying of attention and devotion and proclamations of undying commitment. I can't let go of it. And it certainly seems enamored with me. It is not a mutually agreeable relationship but it is the most long-term relationship I've been in to date. And sometimes misery as your only company must satisfy as company indeed."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Photo Memory: First Day of School after Our Big Move

For a Christmas present to my parents, we scanned over 1000 slides from about 10 slide carousels. They covered the time period from my dad's early twenties through my parents' early married life through the births of seven children and continued into the late 1980s when we moved to Utah so my dad could go to law school. 

It has been a blast to me to find photos that we really haven't seen for years. I think in the last twenty years we've pulled out the slide projector and slides about five times. In other words, they've rarely been seen. They are so much more accessible digitally like this. We spent the Christmas holidays watching the two DVD slideshows we made out of all of those slides. 

Here's one photo that marked a huge change in our lives. 

The photo above is from the first day of school after we moved to Utah in the mid-1980s. We had moved exactly six days before this picture was taken. Dad and Mom sold our little farm, packed up the house they had lived in for 16 years and moved their seven children to a different state so Dad could go to law school at the age of 40. They certainly had guts. Or at least a desire for a little adventure? Dad went to school full-time, Mom started working full-time and we all changed schools and friends. We were lucky enough to live with a widowed aunt and her three kids for those three years--all in one house--so there were thirteen people living together under one roof. 

This photo is how I think of us when I think of those first years after our move. Ric and Rus were in high school, Adam and I were in junior high, Matt and Megan were in elementary school, and Brock was just two and still hanging out at home. I was nervous and scared this day to start junior high and also to start at a new school. I'm sure everyone else had butterflies too. We'd left our whole lives behind us in Idaho. The only home we knew, all of our friends, our grandparents and cousins and life on a little farm. Everything had changed. And nothing would ever be the same again. 

I'm still in awe that Mom and Dad had the guts to take such a leap. 

I guess with the new year upon us and thinking about goals and traditions and the trajectory of my own life, I'm hoping that I have the courage to leap towards the stars myself and grab my own dreams, no matter how crazy they might seem. 


Related Posts with Thumbnails