Sunday, November 30, 2008

This is how well our family picture shot went today...

when at first you don't succeed.... try again on a day when Maren has had a nap.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What have I learned from blogging for the last 29 straight days?

I'm really not cut out for the daily blogging thing. I'm glad I don't run one of those design blogs that constantly clogs my Google Reader. I could never be Scribbit-- who never seems to run out of things to blog about. I'm so glad that the group blogs I belong to don't require daily participation. I can be funny and interesting sometimes, but there are days that just aren't that exciting. Today I ran 17 miles. Maren locked herself in my bedroom. Andrew and I took the kids to the Health Museum where Annie decided she never wants to get old and Bryce decided that he'd love be an alien descending on a suburban shopping mall. We sent our company home. I desperately wanted but didn't get a nap. I read an article suggesting that in the current economy, I might have to forgo True Religion jeans in order to buy my kids exactly what they want for Christmas. I forgot to change Maren's diaper and she leaked pee all over the chair in my room. I strung up Christmas lights in the kids' rooms. We still need to straighten out our tree, which I was too tired to do last night after cutting half of the lights off our prelit tree and stringing it with lights that weren't burned out. I signed up for the marathon on New Year's Day and realized I'm a week off on my training schedule. I did some online Christmas shopping (mostly for myself), picked up the house, and made pancakes for the kids for dinner. The kids and I watched a heavily edited version of Iron Man, and Bryce resolved to brag about it to his entire Primary class tomorrow. Eddie came home from work at 7:30, bearing cold cheeseburgers, which I ate greedily and washed down with the last slice of cranberry apple pie. I finished my book, and I'm still putting off writing all of the reviews which are piling up. Maybe, with some better perspective, I could turn one of those things into a witty anecdote you all would love to read about on the blog. But tonight, I just don't have it in me. I can't be the only one who's glad NaBloPoMo ends tomorrow, right?
1. no more pie in the house
2. locks that can be broken
3. answers to a child's prayer

Friday, November 28, 2008

Overheard at our house...

We're setting up Christmas decorations today, and I turned on a Christmas cd to get us in the mood (the kids have no problem getting in the mood, I, on the other hand, need some coaxing when it's above 70 degrees and our a/c is running). We were unwrapping decorations, listening to Madonna sing "Santa Baby" when Isaac turned to his big sister and said, "Santa doesn't have a real baby, Santa has a food baby."
1. help getting everything down from the attic
2. kids with a sense of humor
3. killer spinning classes

Thursday, November 27, 2008


My belly is full of four kinds of pie, my home is full of people I love, my refrigerator is full of yummy leftovers, my legs are tired after running a great race, my kids are in bed after a day of chasing each other around the backyard, and after a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family and friends, my sweet Eddie and I (and his little brother) are about to snuggle up on the couch (Andrew won't be snuggling with us) to watch a movie.

Once again, today confirms my opinion that Thanksgiving is the finest of holidays.
1. good food
2. good meat
3. good God (oh boy did we eat!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

another thing to check off the list....

Tomorrow morning, I'm running my first 10K (and my first turkey trot). I've done a whole bunch of 5Ks, a handful of half-marathons and three marathons, but strangely never a 10K. I don't have the faintest idea how to even strategize for a 10K, although I doubt an 11-mile run the night before, followed by a big Mexican dinner and ice cream is what anyone would recommend. When I was a high school swimmer, I loved the short distances like the 100 (4 laps) and the 500 (20 laps) but hated the middle distance 200 (8 laps). It was too long to be a sprint and too short to dig in and endure, and I'm a little bit afraid that a 10K is the distance-runner's equivalent to the 200 yard freestyle. I guess I'll find out tomorrrow.
1. free babysitting
2. getting through the morning with six kids with a little help from my sister wives
3. lots of prep work today means less time in the kitchen tomorrow

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sometimes keeping up with all of the blogs is hard work

Check out my post at Segullah today in lieu of great blog here.

I've been busy prepping Thanksgiving (pie crusts, pie filling, cornbread, cranberry sauce, cinnamon roll frosting and butternut squash puree down, and lots more to cook tomorrow). We took the kids to Discovery Green this afternoon. I'm kind of hooked on the book I'm reading and don't want to come up for air to blog-- so read what I already wrote. And be sure to comment over there too! If comments were votes in group blog popularity contests, I'm pretty sure I'd never win much of anything.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Books on my to-read list

This one's for you, Melissa. Here's a bunch of the books on my ever-growing list of things I want to read:

Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it can Renew America by Thomas Friedman
The Likeness by Tana French
Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Domino: The Book of Decorating: A room-by-room guide to creating a home that makes you happy
Shadow the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Ballistics: Poems by Billy Collins
Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Rachel Fershleiser
Collections of Nothing by William Davies King
Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin by Kenny Shopsin
State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey
and everything I haven't read yet by David Sedaris
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

now I just need a month with nothing to do so I can actually dig in and do some reading.
1. The library
3. a husband who doesn't mind turning my light off

In Relief Society Today....

...the teacher asked us to think for a second (and man that second was quick!) about what we were thankful for. She said it could be the first thing that popped into our heads, as random as we wanted it to be. Then she went around the room and asked us what it was. The first person said something like "The Book of Mormon," I was second and said "gelato." Then everyone else in the room (either taking their cue from the first person or much more serious and spiritual than me) said very grand things: personal revelation, gifts of the spirit, eternal families, etc... No one else went for random. No one else went for gelato.

Yeah, sure, I am thankful for all of the serious things, but I also like me some good gelato. So soft, so creamy, so much less fat than ice cream.

1. gelato
2. dinner with friends
3. going grocery shopping without the kids!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

drawing a blank

This NaBloPoMo thing isn't as easy as it looks. Here I sit, wondering what to write about. Topics I've discarded:

1) Why I'm putting off finishing the great book I'm reading (the main character is going to die, and I want to keep him alive as long as possible). I've already blogged about this book, and people might be bored.
2) The six book reviews I have piled up. Too much work.
3) Trying to decide whether or not to run the marathon on January 1st. Haven't I already blogged about that? If so, no one wants to know that the inner struggle continues?
4) Why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I think I covered that one a few years ago-- maybe I should revisit it at fMh or Segullah?
5) The BYU-Utah game. Is anyone interested in the degree of passionate devotion to BYU football that goes on in our house?
6) An update on the ups and downs of home ownership after a major hurricane (we've got the roofers and the power washers and the house painters and the ceiling fixers lined up-- still need to find someone to fix our fence and decide what to do about the carpet). Too technical and boring.
7) What it was like to go without a phone for a week (It's rung about 10 times today-- I wonder how many important calls we missed last week?). Now that it's fixed it no longer seems relevant.
8) Suggestions for daddy-kid date ideas and things to do in the Texas Hill Country. Seems too much like I'm pandering for comments.
9) Link to Lyn's post at fMh. If I do that, then I darn well better get over there and comment like I've been intending to.
10) Meditating on finally being ok with the end of my childbearing time. If I post about that, then it means it's true, and I'm not sure I'm ready to go there yet.

Got any more good ones for me?
1. Visiting friends
2. Somehow managing to be in three places at once this morning
3. Eddie going to work late so I could take a little snooze (and missing the kickoff in the process!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

On lasagne...

According to Lynn Rosetto Kasper, the correct spelling is lasagne, since lasagna refers to a single noodle. I made lasagne this week, but I should have made lasagna, because we've eaten it three nights in a row (and more than 1/3 of the pan remains) and I'm sick of it.
1. At least I didn't have to make dinner
2. A husband who always puts things in perspective (even if I don't agree with his perspective)
3. A phone that actually rings!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

just a moment of perfect bliss....

Bryce had a doctor's appointment today and on the way back to school, I took him through the Sonic drive-thru for lunch. When I got home I cleaned out the cups and wrappers from the back of the car and set them down on the kitchen counter, and right at at that moment that Eddie and Isaac walked through the door. Isaac was not happy that he missed out on a trip to Sonic. Normally, I'd tell him that we'd go to Sonic another day, but today Eddie was home and could stay with Maren, so I told him to put his shoes back on. He was quiet as we hopped in the car, probably because I think he was shocked, and nervous that if he said anything I'd change my mind. Within minutes he had a cardboard sleeve of popcorn chicken in one hand and a rootbeer float in the other. As we drove back home, I kept stealing glances at him in the rearview mirror. He was so happy-- chomping his food and slurping his drink and looking up to shoot me chicken-filled grins. When you have a big family, it seems like there are so many times when indulging an individual child's whims just aren't possible, so I'm glad that today, when it was, I was able to indulge Isaac's craving for fats and fried food. Oh, and some tater tots for me. And bragging rights as the "first favorite" parent.
1. quick doctor appointments
2. having Eddie around
3. a great afternoon for a run

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tonight is a one verse night...

You know those nights when you can't bring yourself to read a whole conference talk in the Ensign or a whole chapter in the scriptures? When I was a teenager and still wanted to fill in the "100% scripture reader" sticker chart and I was just too beat to really read my scriptures, I'd just open my quad and read the first verse my eyes alighted upon. Back then, I think I often looked for some kind of special message that was intended for me to read that night. But it usually ended up being something like "For if the ablood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the bpurifying of the flesh" (wha???). Anyway, my point is, NaBloPoMo can be a long month, and tonight you, my fair readers, are getting the one-verse version of blog. I'm just checking in to say I'm here. A sick kid last night and a totally different sick kid today and an essay completed this afternoon have completely sapped me of any good blog.
1. short-lived stomach bugs
2. peers who will review
3. a husband home after 36 hours at the hospital (do you realize that's a whole work week for most people?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The only hour of the month harder than sacrament meeting...

...takes place in the same building (I usually even sit in the same room), with many of the same people. The main differences are that I swap my high heels for a neckerchief and slide, and Bryce changes out his white shirt and tie for a blue shirt with patches. I'm still wrangling four kids (often solo), still have to pack snacks (this time for everyone, not just some contraband goldfish for my brood), and still have to deal with the "I'm soooooo bored"s from my kids. And if such a thing is even possible in our ward, it's at least 100 times louder than sacrament meeting.

If you've ever been there, you've probably recognized the place-- the monthly pack meeting of our ward's cub scout troop. Last year, when I wasn't a leader, Eddie and I had a deal-- if he wasn't working, he'd take Bryce and I'd stay home with the other kids. Now that I'm officially (if somewhat reluctantly) part of the organization, I can't sluff it off.

But seriously folks, how is pack meeting fun for anyone besides the cub scouts? It's not fun for the siblings, who have to sit around and watch while the boys do activities. It's not fun for the people who come early to set up and leave late to clean up. It's not fun for the women who patrol the hallways shushing the masses because the Young Women are having some sort of award night in the next room. It's certainly not fun for anyone who has to share the same air with the 40 or so boys after they've been running and chasing and jumping up and down. I consider any night that I get out of there without screaming at anyone a good pack meeting.

Tonight was the Raingutter Regatta. Bryce has asthma, so you can guess how well he did. As a leader, I spent most of the night walking around the building searching for the boys who decided that a little friendly competition doesn't always feel so fun and friendly and were hiding under tablecloths and in the chapel so they could cry away from the gleeful smiles of the victors. Mine went to church repeating the mantra, "Just be calm. Just be calm." At pack meeting, I think I need to adopt the same one-- Or else its alternative: "Just stay home. Just stay home."
1. I don't have to do that again for another month.
2. Lunch with friends.
3. A husband who comes home for an hour, even when he can't help with pack meeting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I think she has issues with the story of the creation...

Our house: 6:30p.m. on a Monday night. Kids fed. Kids bathed. Husband not home. One big kid planning FHE. One big kid writing a comic book. One big kid helping me add to the huge pile of upstairs things that have accumulated downstairs over the course of the last twelve hours. No one watching the greatest force of destruction known to the household-- Maren. We find her, surrounded by tiny shreds of paper-- tiny shreds representing the first seven chapters of Genesis, gleefully (and neatly!) pulled from Eddie's scriptures.

I think she's already on her way to being a cafeteria Mormon, and she's decided that her first point of contention is the Adam and Eve story.

1. Kids fed
2. Kids bathed
3. Maren in bed

Sunday, November 16, 2008

direct from the horse's mouth...

"Nobody watches more football than me." Said by my husband, at 9:31pm on Sunday, November 16th. There, I have it in writing, just in case I need it.

That said, despite my excellent "tuning out skills" that was one good BYU game yesterday. But I won't be sad next week when BYU's regular season ends.

I used to be sad when I was a kid and my birthday fell on a Sunday, because it was always Super Bowl Sunday. I hated sharing any part of my day with a football game. But in retrospect, my dad's and my brother's interest in football was pretty mild compared with Eddie's. I guess the good news about having the NFL push back the Super Bowl a week or two from when it was held in the 80s and 90s is that I won't get ignored on my Sunday birthdays, but I think sometimes I'd also welcome the Super Bowl on my birthday as a symbolic gift of no more football for seven months.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

particularly lethal ice cream combo

Blue Bell Snickerdoodle (cinnamon ice cream with a caramel ribbon and crushed up snickerdoodles) with smashed-up mini Heath bars mixed in. There are about a million mini Heath bars in our Halloween stash and no one else in the house has figured out just how good the ice cream is, so it's all MINE!

Good thing I ran those 22 miles this morning!

1. Weekends with Eddie home
2. Family nights out
3. Cooler weather!

Friday, November 14, 2008

what am I missing?

I have a hard time feeling like I'm doing nothing. I listen to podcasts while doing the dishes or making dinner, watch shows on the DVR while folding laundry, and never go to Isaac's physical therapy appointments without a book to read. Right now I'm reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and I'm totally hooked. I started yesterday, and I'm more than 100 pages into it. I feel like I'm finally coming out of the reading funk I've been in, and I'm happy that such a good book is bringing me out (usually I need something trashy to cleanse my palate) and unless I'm actively parenting, I want to be reading that book.

I've gotten to know the office staff at the physical therapy office pretty well (going there for seven or eight months does that, I guess). One of the receptionists is so friendly and cute, and she commented about how much she liked my purse and then went on to chat and chat about purses. Ordinarily, I'd be happy to chat with her, but I really wanted to get back to my book. As soon as I could extricate myself without being totally rude, I started reading again.

Sometimes I wonder how much I miss because my nose is always in a book. Several weeks ago, I had intended to bring the rough draft of an essay I was writing to Isaac's appointment, but I left it in the kitchen on the rush out the door. My only other option was to read Sports Illustrated or an issue of Domino I had already dog-eared to death at home, so I sat and watched Maren play. Another mom was in the office. She was very young and heavily tattooed, with two kids under two vying for her attention. She was also scared-- her pediatrician thought her baby might have a serious heart condition, and she needed someone to talk to. That day, without my book, I was able to listen.

After the St. George marathon last month, I flew home from Vegas on some very turbulent air. I went to the back of the plane to use the restroom and heard the flight attendants ask if there was a doctor on the flight. One of the passengers was having an epileptic seizure, and between the turbulence and the medical emergency, people were feeling tense. I was stranded at the back of the plane and my book was up at the front of the plane. So I sat, nothing to read, and a woman who was in the same aisle as the woman having the seizure came and sat in front of me. A couple of seconds later, she reached behind her seat and grabbed my leg, hard. At first I wanted to pull away, but then I realized that she was terrified. I held her hand until the flight attendants got the situation under control and the turbulence passed.

My love affair with reading isn't going to end any time soon, but these two experiences made me see that sometimes, maybe, there might be some upside to forgetting to pack along my book.

1. great books
2. spirited emails
3. killer spinning classes

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Toys Gone Wild

Remember the premise of the Toy Story series-- when humans leave, the toys come to life? I don't think it's a cute little story designed to endear kids to their toys. In my house, I think it's true. How else do all of the toys in all of the buckets end up dumped unceremoniously on the floor every day? My kids insist (eyes averted) that they have nothing to do with it, or else blame Maren for the mess (she does make a mess, but it's usually confined to Dora, Little People and my makeup-- legos, action figures and Polly Pockets are not her purview). I've been a very mean mom lately, yelling and threatening no Christmas presents if I have to pick up a single toy at the end of the day, but we had something happen last night that makes me wonder if the kids really aren't to blame.

At 2:41 and an ominous wail started up in the playroom. Eddie and I became semi-conscious and ruled out that one of the kids was having an emergency. So what was it? A sick cat? One of the pigeons that roosts outside our bedroom window? We were too tired to figure it out. Over the next ten minutes or so, the sound repeated weakly two or three times. Then, all middle-of-the-night heck broke loose, and it gained in strength and sounded somewhat familiar, though oddly distorted. I feigned sleep, while Eddie went out to investigate (all of those years of nursing babies have gotten me a free pass in the "investigate in the middle of the night" responsibilities) and returned to our room carrying a possessed Little People Castle-- lights flashing, trumpet blaring madly. We were too brain-dead to go hunting for a Philips-head screwdriver at 3 am, and I debated internally whether or not it would be appropriate to huck it into the middle of the street. Thankfully, Eddie found the switch on the bottom and we all went back to sleep.

But I still think our toys are alive. They're probably upstairs right now, ready to spring out of the buckets at the first convenient moment.

1. toys without batteries
2. Christmas shopping underway
3. nothing big on today's agenda

My list (a meme)

Lyn had this on her blog. I've done the bolded stuff. What about you?

Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a Meteor Shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a Mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
Built a snow fort
25. Held a Lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
Kissed in the rain
Played in the mud
Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
Gone whale watching
Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
Lost a loved one
Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

dumpapallooza 2008

I cleaned the whole house yesterday. Top to bottom, scrub, scrub, scrub. At 5pm, I left the house to drop Annie off at ballet, and ran to Kroger for a few necessities (diet Coke, vanilla, ice cream sandwiches since I didn't have time to bake for the cub scouts). When I got home half an hour later, Hurricane Maren had hit, leaving a path of destruction an entire playroom, bathroom and three bedrooms wide. Right now she's climbing on the desk beside me, throwing paper all over the floor. Yeah, the floor I just cleaned. And she wrought all of her havoc while watching Dora, which was my last safe haven.

1. a clean house (while it lasted)
2. Maren (despite her messes)
3. two kids who leave all day and don't contribute to the mess

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bye bye, baby Mac

We got an email from the Houston Zoo last night, bearing the sad news that Mac, the two-year-old Asian elephant, died Sunday night of elephant herpes virus.

Our family spends a lot of time at the zoo, and we spent the summer of 2006 eagerly watching Shanti as her belly swelled along with mine. When Mac was born in October, I felt about the size of a pregnant elephant, and couldn't imagine how Shanti managed to give birth to the largest elephant born in captivity. But when we went to visit him for the first time, he was only about a week old, and he looked tiny. Elephantine, but tiny, next to his Mama.

Bryce cried himself to sleep last night. Annie sobbed too, asking me if I thought Shanti was ok. They cried much harder over Mac than they did when their great-grandma died a few months ago, but they've also watched him grow up. Just a couple of weeks ago we stood for a long time outside of the elephant enclosure and watched Mac and Tucker (the resident three-year-old) swing their trunks at each other.

Bryce was so sad this morning that he said the only thing to make him feel better would be for me to come to school and have lunch with him. Maybe he was milking it, but it totally worked.

1. The Houston Zoo
2. Eating lunch with all of my kids
3. A clean house (at least for the moment!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

I do my best work in the bathroom

One thing I've learned after reading all of these books about "not so big" houses and well-designed houses is that with a little bit of creativity you can often repurpose your existing spaces to make them suit your needs. Sometimes that means adding a wall of desk and bookshelves to a dining room and turning it into a dining room/library. Sometimes that means putting curtains around beds in rooms where kids share to give each child some private space. In my house, it means turning the bathroom into an office.

It sounds totally insane, I know. But I have this big long built-in vanity in the master bathroom, and it's empty. I'm not much of a makeup girl (and Maren's current obsession with lipstick means that any makeup I do have does not go in the vanity), but it's got great lighting, a stool to sit on, and enough room for my laptop, a drink, a stack of books, two toothbrushes, a contact lens case, my wedding rings, a bottle of saline, and some deodorant. If I don't turn the water on, I can even spread out a bunch of papers.

The best part of working in the bathroom is that it's blissfully quiet-- far enough away from the yelling in the playroom and the sound of football games blaring in the family room and the banging on the piano in the living room to actually think and get some work done. Another thing I've learned from reading all of those books about houses and floor plans is that I want a slightly less open plan than we currently have-- because the dueling banjos of the tv and the piano are just too much for my ears most of the time. As long as Bryce continues to play "Song of the Volga Boatmen" eight hundred times a day, the room with our piano in it really needs to have a door.

Anyway, when Virginia Woolf talked about how a woman needed a room of her own to be able to tap into her creativity, I doubt she was thinking of a bathroom. In my next house, I hope to have a room with a door, a desk and a comfy chair where I can spread out-- but I guess the bathroom will do for now.

1. quiet bathrooms
2. finding chocolate cake in the freezer
3. our bedtime competition seems to be working!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Relying on my community

I'm reading House Thinking by Winifred Gallagher right now, and one of the book's most interesting sections discusses the way Americans of different social classes view moving and home improvements. College-educated Americans, who often left home to go away to college, seem to be more open to the idea of settling far from their families of origin, while those without college educations seem more likely to live near extended families. So when it comes time for most college-educated people to improve their homes, they can't call on brothers and sisters and cousins to come pitch in and help them raise their barns, they have to call on professionals.

We live very far from our families right now, but I was able to draw on a friend in my virtual neighborhood, Courtney, to help me redesign my blog. I've been staring at an ugly header for months, stressing over the milk/sweat dripping from my fellow runner's nipple, from comments that I was flaunting my body in an unseemly way and from the overall junky, unstreamlined look of the blog. Courtney took my pictures, cropped them and created something beautiful-- something that should give visitors to my blog a good idea what it's about-- a mom who loves to run. So thank you very, very much Courtney!

1. a pretty blog header
2. the primary sacrament meeting is done!
3. Sunday afternoon naps

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A letter:

Dear anonymous woman in spinning class this morning:

When you walked into the spinning room at 8:12, it was obvious that you were a first-timer. I'm not sure what gave you away, if it was your lack of a towel, or your heavy Hanes sweatpants, or your less-than-svelte physique, or your long-sleeved t-shirt, or your hair falling all about your shoulders instead of pulled up and off your neck (it helps with the sweating, I promise), but it was clear that you had no idea what you had stumbled into.

After several years of spinning classes, I've seen lots of first-timers, few who end up being repeat customers. Most quit before even getting through the first class is done. There were two first-timers in class this morning (you may have noticed the fit guy on the other side of the room who decided to come along with his wife), and if I were a betting woman, I would have put money on you dropping out before he did. After all, even though he was brand-new, he looked like he belonged.

But you surprised me. When we jumped, you jumped. When we cranked up the gear, I saw you doing it too. It's true that you were drenched and looked exhausted at the end of class, but you finished, which is more than we can say for the other newcomer, who staggered out, headed for the nearest bathroom as fast as his weakened legs would carry him. You probably thought you were learning something new when you were spinning today, and even though I've been going to the class for years, I felt like I did too.


1. lazy days with the kids
2. getting my long run out of the way on Friday
3. primary pizza parties

Friday, November 7, 2008

So many restaurants, so little time....

Now that we only have six months left in Houston, it seems important to try to experience as much of the city as possible. A few months ago, I sat down with Citysearch and tried to figure out which restaurants we should visit at least once before we leave for Salt Lake City, and frankly, the experience was depressing. There were just so many good places to eat-- it would be impossible to hit them all.

We had a babysitter tonight and picked one of the places off our list (Benjy's in Rice Village, for the fellow Houstonians). It was hip and had a great menu. The food was fantastic, the chocolate cake even better. I'd go back tomorrow night if I had the chance. But the problem with actually finding a place I love on the endless to-visit list of Houston restaurants is that now I feel compelled to go someplace new when we actually go to the trouble of getting a babysitter instead of revisiting a place we already know we like.

I guess that in a city of nearly six million people, I just need to resign myself to the fact that even if I ate out three meals a day every day between now and next June, I'd barely scratch the surface in places to eat, or even in good places to eat, in Houston. I'll leave and still feel like I never really dug down deep and sucked the marrow out (Eddie had osso bucco for dinner, so we were talking about Billy Collins and sucking marrow at dinner). I love the endless possibilities of Houston, but I think I'll ultimately be more comfortable in Salt Lake, a smaller city in which it might be possible to feel a little bit of mastery. I want to live in a place that I feel like I know like the back of my hand, and where mapquest no longer serves as my best friend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Guess what I found this morning?

I'll give you one clue-- Eddie is exonerated.

The shirt was in the bottom of my boys' laundry basket. No telling how it got there.

I just wonder if I have enough time to wash and dry it before book club tonight? I'm hoping it might tamp down on the inevitable comparisons between Obama and Hitler.
1. Fully functioning kitchen appliances!
2. One day down on the cardiology boards
3. Making a dent on my DVR backlog

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A House Divided (aka, dude, where's my shirt?, aka Happy Birthday to Me!)

Watching election numbers streaming in, balloons dropping and presidential-elects speaking isn't as much fun when the person you're watching them with is curled up in the fetal position. Eddie knows this well-- after all, he lived with me during the aftermath of the Bush-Gore elections, where I stewed and steamed for months, and the Bush-Kerry elections, which was quicker, but also more painful because I already knew what I had to endure four more years of. But when the tables were turned last night, I couldn't resist doing a little bit of gloating, and he did his requisite bit of grumbling too.

But I think he did something even more insidious. I think he stole my shirt.

I wore my new Obama Mama shirt on Saturday. I had plans to do some more shameless gloating by wearing it to my ward's cooking club this morning (sometimes I'm mean that way). I searched through all of my drawers, rifled through dirty laundry and went on a hunt through kids' closets and under beds. It's gone. When I asked Eddie about it last night, he laughed, and denied any involvement. But did he laugh because he thought it was funny that I lost it, or did he laugh because he was responsible for its disappearance? I can't tell. Unfortunately, he's made himself unavailable for comment today (he's taking cardiology boards). I hope that once his test is over, his mood will improve and he'll decide to return the shirt as a peace offering. Otherwise I'm buying a new one.

I suppose I could call the new shirt a birthday present. My birthday is January 20th, also known as Inauguration Day. Ever since my 18th birthday, the day Clinton was elected for the first time, I've been disappointed on those birthdays that coincided with the presidential inauguration (I was in Democratic denial during the Clinton years). This time, I might even throw a party. But can it be a bipartisan party, or should I make Eddie stay away? If he doesn't return my shirt, he might not make the guest list.
1. finally figuring out how to bake bread!
2. girls night out
3. historic elections

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The boy in blue

This morning Bryce and Annie woke up and got dressed for school. At the breakfast table, I joked with them about how they were both wearing, "Red State Red" and asked them if they were undergoing some deathbed repentance and throwing their weight behind McCain. Bryce rolled his eyes, as if to say, "You're so lame, Mom, and turned back to his chocolate milk." Annie lobbied unsuccessfully to go back upstairs and change into her navy polo dress.

An hour or so later, Isaac and I went upstairs to get him dressed for preschool. I had forgotten about the breakfast conversation, but Isaac started rifling through his underwear drawer for blue underpants. Satisfied by a pair with a blue waistband, he then requested a blue shirt, blue jeans and blue shoes. He was disappointed not to find any blue socks. Then he said, "Do you think Miss Annie will know I want to vote for Barack Obama?"

An apology:

Dear Mom,

Remember how we sat at the computer last week and you ordered presents for Maren's second birthday? We decided that since she doesn't really need a darn thing, we'd throw caution to the wind and fill her with Dora-related paraphernalia to her heart's content. Do you remember calling me to tell me that you had confirmation from Amazon that the Big Sister Talking Nursery addition to the Dora Talking House was on its way? I do. (For the record, I'm glad you got while the getting's good, because it's now being sold for four times the price you paid).

It arrived yesterday, right in the middle of the witching hour. I was making dinner, pushing laundry and trying to keep the kids out of the Halloween candy when the UPS man arrived. Isaac pounced on the box and started tearing the tape off. I yelled, "STOP! That's a birthday present for Maren! Don't open it." Then I returned to boiling spaghetti and making caesar salad.

A couple of minutes later, I heard a high pitched squeal. I thought someone was hurt, but before I even had the chance to set down the glasses in my hand and investigate, I heard "Da-wuh! Soopuh-Babies! Soopuh-Babies!"
I guess that Isaac's birthday party a few weeks ago taught Maren a thing or two about unwrapping boxes. She also must have learned about the benefits of eavesdropping somewhere along the way. Because she stood before me, long strip of tape in one hand, trying to extricate the nursery box from the Amazon box with the other. I tried taking it away. She screamed. I figured that she'd forget about it. She insisted on having it on the dinner table along side her. She even wanted to bring the box (almost as big as she is) into the bathtub with her. I started to realize that she was not going to forget. So I opened it. She hasn't set down the Soopuh-Babies since. She bathed with them. She slept with them. They've now got remnants of Lucky Charms stuck to their little plastic bodies.

The good news is, she loves her birthday present. The bad news is that it's still almost two months until her birthday.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Before you pack away the Halloween decorations...

...try to get your hands on a copy of this book and pack it away for next year. My mom bought my kids a copy several years ago, and it is the cutest Halloween book ever-- when all of the fairy tale characters get down and shake it all around. Even Maren will walk around the house saying "shake, shake, shake 'dem bones now." Unfortunately, our copy bit the dust this year, after several years of creative taping (it has one of those cheap Scholastic bindings) and I have to order us a new one for next year, because Halloween just wouldn't be Halloween without Shake Dem Halloween Bones.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NaBloPoMo, Can I Take a Break? and Mormon Histories

It's National Blog Posting Month, which means that bloggers everywhere will test themselves against writer's block and try to post for the month of November. Always up for a challenge, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. We'll see how long I can persist. I'm already a day behind, which doesn't bode well, I guess...

Yesterday I didn't run. And I had no good reason for not heading out the door. It's November, which means that it's almost always beautiful in South Texas, and yesterday was no exception. I just didn't feel like going when the alarm went off. I can't tell you how long it's been when I just didn't run on a Saturday morning, with no good excuse (no tapering, injuries, trips, etc...) I expected it to feel liberating, but I was crabby all day. I guess I really am that crazy. I even considered using my extra hour of sleep this morning to go out and get started on the 18-miler that was on my running schedule, but I figured that I couldn't run 18 miles on a fast Sunday and still remain standing through my Primary and Nursery subbing gigs.

I'm feeling sort of rootless right now. I haven't decided if I want to run the Kingwood Marathon, which I ran last New Year's Day as my virgin marathon voyage. You may remember that it was a horrible race for me, and I'm feeling some reluctance to get on the bandwagon and sign up again. I also want to make sure I don't burn out before the Boston-Wasatch Back-St.George/Top of Utah sweep that will start next April and end in October. But not having anything to train for makes me crabby too. I have about a week to decide before the window of opportunity will slam shut and I won't have time to train properly. What should I do? And more importantly, can I get through the holidays and still fit into my jeans if I'm not running 20 miles every Saturday morning?

Finally, I just posted a two-part series on my Mormon History over at fMh. Check it out here and here.