Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Thrilling Announcement

I'm going to be a grandma.

What a strange mixture of joy and worry that announcement has brought. I'm so happy to be a grandmother to new, precious children of my children. My grandchildren are going to know their grandparents love them to pieces.

But of course I worry for my daughter, too. You never stop being a mother, either. I hope and pray my daughter will be okay. The poor girl is so nauseated all the time. If she's like me, she'll be throwing up for the entire nine months of pregnancy, which doesn't make pregnancy all that pleasant. Fortunately, the end result makes it worth it.

Anyway, the happy announcement came in the form of a phone call from my daughter and son-in-law on Christmas Day because they were spending the holiday with Nathan's parents (we got them for Thanksgiving). Best. Christmas. Present. Ever. I cried. Of course I cried.

Sian is due on September 3rd. I have until then to buy all the onesies and make all the baby blankets Sian will ever need for an army of children.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

I Are Smart

I remember a few months ago that I was driving alone down the road (I even remember which road it was and where on that road it happened), and I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that I used to be so much smarter than I am now. I could almost remember being that smart--orders of intelligence greater--and I could feel the difference between how much smarter and more intelligent I was then and what I am now. I knew in that moment that at some point, information I took in was effortlessly analyzed, leading me to an accurate big picture forecast because of my clear grasp of all possible details, and that my mind was able to lay out the possibilities before me in crystal clear detail in the blink of an eye.

It was an incredibly frustrating moment. It was like having a strong memory flashback without getting the key details. I knew it was true, but I couldn't remember why or how. The feeling kept slamming into me strongly for a week or so after that, while now it hits me only on occasion. But it was such a significant event that it has carved out a well-traveled neuronal pathway in my permanent memory.

If this is a memory, when was I that brilliant? It certainly isn't in this lifetime, even though I know I'm reasonably intelligent on my best days. Echoes of that "memory" suggest that I still think in the same manner, and that the way I approach and analyze information is part of my core personality; but now it's like my head is full of porridge, and I'm struggling to break through that sticky mess every time I learn or analyze information. Given everything else I know and believe, I concluded that this memory is somehow connected to my existence before I was born into mortality.

Before I had a mortal body, before I was born into this world, I was wicked smart.

That's both frustrating and uplifting to think about. It gives me hope that at some future time the porridge in my head will be gone. Sure, I'll be dead then (or "graduated," as I like to think of it), but I'm not afraid of dying. For now, though, I wonder why I was allowed to have that glimmer. I suspect it was to give me hope and to spur me on to do what I need to be doing in this life. I've been really slacking lately.

Anyway, what brought on this little mental musing was that I was watching this guy on YouTube take stuff I've been learning about for the last few years and assemble it clearly into a step-by-step series of actions. His conclusion is my conclusion, but he doesn't seem to have porridge in his head. He is able to retain what he learns and speak about it very well. I always admire that in a person. I envy it, too, even if my envy is without malice.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Beautiful People of the World

I'm always amazed at the variety of personalities this world contains.

My substitute bus attendant, Tay, finally managed to get his own route on another bus. He'd been on my bus for weeks, so the kids were used to him; but it was good for him to be able to have his own route. Having a route of his own gives him a lot more financial stability, and that will help him reduce his anxiety.

We got along fine, even if sometimes I was tired and tended to respond to his constant monologue about his life with grunts and short responses. I did realize after a while that his social anxiety drives a lot of what he does and how he is, so I had patience most of the time. We found common ground in talk of cooking, occasional politics, and various funny YouTube videos he showed me during our break. I count him as a friend, and I know he felt safe to be himself in my presence, so that was good.

Now that he has his own route, I've been getting other sub attendants on my bus. Each of them are so different. Each of them has different interests and hobbies and beliefs and personality traits.

Yesterday, my attendant told me about how she found out her mother was not being cared for--contrary to what she'd been told--and how she went to rescue her from what turned out to be a fairly hellish existence. Now they live together, and her mother is loved and cared for even as she deals with the onset of dementia. While she loves bland foods, her daughter likes to sneak in new and interesting dishes just to see how she likes them.

My attendant for today is fantastic with the kids. She's probably the best attendant I've ever worked with in that way. I just started a new route that takes me out to the far reaches of a nearby town during one of my runs, so it's a long ride for the kids to school and back. All the way, she sat by them, talked to them, played "I Spy" with them, and discussed their innocent little interests. When I told her that I suspect one little girl might be on the autistic spectrum because of her behavior and that the only words I'd ever heard her speak were the alphabet song, this attendant sat next to her and whispered quietly to her, humming the alphabet song. The little girl actually responded to her with words. That's the first time I have ever seen that happen with this adorable little child.

This attendant has also made herself a mom to various teenagers who live in difficult family situations. At her house, they get fed and nourished with both food and love. Though she could only have two children of her own, she is a true mother to many more who need a safe place to be that contains plenty of love and high behavior expectations. The kids live up to her example and expectations because they know she truly cares. I imagine that their lives have been turned onto a much better path because of this woman.

It was very easy to see how she is a life changer by the way she interacts with my little preschoolers.

Unless I get called in to do a substitute bus run for another driver tomorrow, today is my last day of driving before the Christmas break. I'm not sad about that. I could use some napping time.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Wedding Pictures!

You wanted pictures, I finally have pictures. Thought I'd share some of my favorites of Sian, her new husband and my new son-in-law, Nathan, and the family.

Before you look, yes, I'm fat. I started seriously gaining pounds after Husband was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, when I literally felt my adrenal glands break from the stress. The weight piled on after that. I hate it, but there it is.

So now that my vanity has made this all about me, try to enjoy the pictures of that wonderful, poignant, joyful, amazing day.

The newly minted couple exit the temple annex doors to cheers and applause.

In front of the east doors.

In front of the Salt Lake City Temple
I call this one "Loving Look"

This is just cute. Also, it shows off Nathan's boutonniere, which my mother-in-law made.

Left to Right: My MIL, Sian, my mother's mother (she's 92!), me, and my mother.

It's like they're walking down a hallway of flowers with the temple in the background. It was a lovely (though windy) day.

I want to frame this one. My little girl is so beautiful. Sigh. Also, it showcases the amazing bouquet that my MIL and SIL put together in Sian's wedding colors.

Sian and her brothers. Left to Right: Little Gary (10), Sian, and Joseph (13)

All my daughters together. What you don't see is that Elannah was trying to push Sophia's head down from behind, so they were busy giggling the whole time. Left to Right: Sophia (18), Elannah (16), Sian (22), and Gabrielle (20)

I just love this one. I will frame this one, as well. All the time when my daughters were little and squabbling with each other, I reminded them that they needed to watch what they said to each other so that they could all be friends when they got older. Now they're all friends, and every time they get together, there's lots of laughter and joking.

Our family with the happy couple. Left to Right: Elannah, me, Little Gary (in front of me), Sophia, Sian, Nathan, Gabrielle, Husband, and Joseph

The extended family with the happy couple. We were really happy that Husband's sister's family travel plans from Wales coincided with Sian's wedding, so the British contingent of the family were well represented. My brothers are also there, as were my next oldest brother's wife and their children. 

She's still our baby, and we still get to kiss her.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pork Chile Verde Recipe

I tried Taerell's pork chile verde recipe and it worked out really, really well. We feasted yesterday! I brought some of it to my neighbors, who just had a baby, so the new parents wouldn't have to cook dinner.

This isn't spicy unless you use a very hot chile verde sauce and/or red chile flakes. I didn't because I have kids who would refuse to eat it. I used medium heat sauce, and it was just enough to give your tongue a tiny tingle.

I played with the recipe Tay gave me by adding some cumin. If you don't like cumin, it tastes just fine without it. If you really want to play, try adding ground coriander, as well, and then topping it off with fresh cilantro to serve.

Pork Chile Verde

Ingredient portions are based on a 4-lb roast. Use less if your roast is smaller.

1 (4-lb) pork roast (size doesn't necessarily matter, although using a 4-lb roast will yield plenty for a crowd of 10 to 12, or leftovers for freezing or sharing)
1 1/2 cups of your favorite chile verde sauce per pound of meat
1 large white onion, diced
1 Tbsp Garlic powder or minced garlic, or to taste
1 Tbsp cumin, or to taste
1 Tbsp lime juice, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp red chile flakes, if you like your food spicy

1. Place diced onion on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the roast on top.

2. Mix chile verde sauce with garlic powder (or minced garlic), cumin, lime juice, and red chile flakes (if using). Pour over roast.

3. Cook on low for 10-12 hours or overnight. Remove meat and shred with two forks. Return meat to the sauce, mix, and reheat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use for burritos, taco salads, over rice, or in soup.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Who's the Man?

I don't always appreciate music videos. If there's a strong storyline in them, I'm not always happy with the way the band or artist interprets the music--which just sounds selfish, right? I generally prefer to make up my own interpretation to other peoples' music.

But The Killers are an exception. They make some really good music and videos, and nothing beats "The Man." So well done. Plus, it's such a catchy tune that I find myself singing it at the top of my lungs even if I am very much not a man. When I first heard it on the radio last summer, the DJ declared he liked it so much he was going to play it again--and he did. It was the perfect call.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

My previous substitute bus attendant, Jessica, selfishly decided to go ahead and get her CDL and become a driver herself. Good. Fine. I'm happy for her and all that.

I'm not really bitter. I just miss her. We got to be pretty good friends, even if she is 20 years younger than I am.

My new substitute attendant is a guy named Tay (pronounced "Ty," and short for Taerell). He's an interesting fellow.

How do I describe him? He is the first politically conservative gay pagan Tae Kwon Do black belt I've met. He's also passionate about Shakespeare.

If he hadn't told me he was gay, I would not have guessed. He actually looks like a guy who plays Dungeons & Dragons and smokes marijuana and got beat up in high school for being a total geek. He neither plays D&D nor smokes marijuana (or takes any other illegal drugs, for that matter), but he was beat up a lot in high school.

We get along fine, although he tends to talk a great deal. Jessica knew and appreciated golden moments of silence, but Tay keeps up a steady stream of chat for most of the time we're on the bus. I quit going to the library during our break because he just talks in normal voice while we're there, and that is one of my pet peeves. He doesn't really enjoy reading because he is dyslexic, but rather than sit quietly messing with his phone or something, he just keeps the conversation going--even while I hold a book or magazine prominently in front of my face. So rather than get mad at him, I just changed plans, and we've been heading to the Maverick gas station to sit outside between runs and soak up the warm rays of mild fall sunshine.

At least at the Maverick I'm not agonizing about him chatting away while people studying nearby are shooting us dirty looks. We share funny YouTube videos and discuss various conspiracy theories. It helps that I'm still a total geek at heart.

While he's pagan and I'm Christian, there haven't been any arguments about faith and belief. He tells me what he believes, and I listen. I'll ask him questions about it, too, which he appreciates. His beliefs are the gentle pagan precepts that call for a oneness with nature and a deep respect for all living things. I'm not surprised by that, as he really is a gentle, compassionate soul. As the frequent victim of bullying and abuse from various stepfathers and classmates throughout his life, he could be hard and bitter and unkind; but he still chooses to be an advocate for the ones who get picked on, and his heart is still tender.

Today he brought me a homemade chile verde burrito. It was massive. I ate half of it on the way home, and it was so good--better than any TexMex restaurant could have produced. I gave the other half to Joseph, who declared that I must get the recipe. So I texted Tay and thanked him profusely and got the recipe. I'll be trying it out in the next couple days.

One Last, Cute Story

Today I took Joseph and Little Gary to McDonalds for the first time since they reopened after weeks and weeks of renovation. They were interested in the new play place.

While I was standing in line, this adorable little three-year-old girl looked down and exclaimed in her piping little voice, "Oh, I love your pretty red shoes!' and bent over to get a good, close-up look at them.

I told her I loved her sparkly flower barrette. We were best friends after that.

Have I mentioned that I am very excited to be a grandmother? I'm not making an announcement or anything, but all my girls know that when the time is right and they have children, I will be the happiest, most devoted grandmother in the world.