Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SF Nerds, Unite!

Yesterday after picking up Oldest Child from orchestra practice, I pulled up behind a tidy red minivan with a "Starfleet Academy" bumper sticker in the back window. Because the sticker was so unassuming, it took me a minute to register. Then I laughed. And then I had to explain to Oldest Child why I was laughing.

Here are a few ideas for other acceptable bumper stickers, as discussed by Husband and me later in the evening, between bouts of laughter.

"My child is an honor student at Starfleet Academy"

"This car runs on naquida"

"If you can read this, you're frakked"

"Borg vs. Wraith"

"This Car Is Built By AMERICAN Replicators"

I know there's at least one sf nerd out there laughing with me. If so, divert power from life support to the port and starboard nacells and comment with your idea for a bumper sticker.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dumpster Diving

As I sat on the kitchen floor this morning pulling gooey handfuls of nastiness one by one out of the trash can, I contemplated some of the more interesting things one finds oneself doing as a parent. Child Six's new hobby is throwing anything he gets his hands on into the trash can. I had noticed one of his shoes under a layer of sugar and some orange peels, so I pulled it out. When we couldn't locate his other shoe, I went back to the trash can. I didn't find his other shoe, but I did find one of my pot lids, the fork half of the separateable salad tongs, and a cup. The other shoe turned up in the recycle bin. Now I'm wondering how many of the kitchen implements I've been missing ended up going to the dump or getting recycled.

It could be worse, of course. They could all be ending up in the toilet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More about me. What a shock.

I have this weird line in the layout I'm trying to fix. Something went a little screwy with the HTML code, I guess. Now ask me if I could do anything about it without Husband's constant guidance.

No. And thank you for asking.

Husband is at another round of Parent/Teacher Conferences. He had them only a few weeks ago, as well, but because he's doing a special "extended contract" he teaches two tracks at the same time in his year-round school. He teaches Track A and Track D. Sometimes they're on at the same time, sometimes he only has one track in the classroom. But he still has to do conferences for each track. With all the bishoping stuff he has to do this week, plus the conferences, I may see him once in a while. I hope.

For lack of anything better to write about, I've decided to write about myself. Some of you may be surprised. I hardly ever write about myself in here. (Read that sarcastically, with your mouth pulled into a sneer) (and roll your eyes).

A recently found friend (Laurie) suggested I expand my List of Things You Might Not Know About Me from 37 to 100. I don't know if it can be done, but I'm willing to take up that challenge. I may have to go in stages, though, unless my brain suddenly erupts with youthful vigor and creativity. Ha. I've been thinking about food all day, mainly because I ran out of food money for the month and I'm forced to get creative with what's in food storage. Thus, I'm hungry. I don't feel like doing a lot of scratch cooking today; at this point, I'm even considering snarfing down the whole bottle of red ginger I know is lurking on the third shelf of the frig. So far I've resisted. I even exercised this morning.

Anway, to return to my list:

38. I am Queen of the Universe (possibly the Multiverse) in air hockey.

39. I only floss the teeth I want to keep.

40. I play a lot of ragtime music on the piano.

41. I still occasionally daydream about being in a rock band. I just think that would be cool. My kids would be completely embarrassed since I can't really sing or play any band intruments, but wouldn't it be cool?

42. I've always wanted to dye my hair bright blue but probably never will.

43. I broke my foot and then, two years later, I badly sprained my ankle, both times during ballet rehearsals for The Nutcracker.

44. I'm a Winter.

45. I've saved all the letters I've ever received.

46. When I was in junior high school I memorized the Deseret Alphabet, the phonetic language the early Church invented but never really used. I took all my notes in it, and I got so good at it I could write as fast as usual. I saved one of those notebooks and it all looks like gibberish to me now.

47. When I got called as the Young Women President, I felt exactly like the nerd I was in high school (and, obviously, junior high. Read #46) when I walked into that room full of young women. That feeling never went away. I guess I have issues.

48. I am on the Emergency Preparedness Committee in my ward and I am in charge of keeping The Master List. I tremble at the responsibility. I just hope I don't lose it.

That's it for me today. Dinner is ready, everyone's hungry, and I have a meeting tonight. I know you're asking what I managed to make for dinner out of food storage.

Chicken-Chili-Cheese Casserole, to which I added enchilada sauce, olives and beans. I'll let you know how it's received.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Note to skinny self: I miss you.

While I have started several drafts, I haven't posted anything in a few days. One of the reasons is that I find I'm battling a Facebook addiction all of a sudden. I hardly paid attention to it for quite a while, only opening my profile when I got an email of a message or comment or something. But a few days ago, I posted some mission pictures and started getting a barage of comments from people from all different times of my life (mostly the missionary part, though). It made me giddy with joy to hear from old friends. My relationships have always meant a great deal to me, as I find it very easy to love the people I've been blessed to have known all these years.

And while that addiction was going on, nothing really new happened in our household. The carpet in the spa that had Husband gagging while steam-cleaning and deodorizing it is still a little ripe, but not to the extent that it was before. I may venture out there and use the exercise equipment again when I get my courage up. And the gumption.

And speaking of exercising (which I haven't, yet) I have lost 6 pounds of the 50 I have to lose. Losing 50 pounds won't quite bring me back to my college weight, but it will bring me down, hopefully, to a level where I can run and not be weary, walk and not faint. Also, I may like looking in the mirror again.

My problem is that I had a superb metabolism before I started having kids. I could eat anything and not gain weight. And I ate! On my mission, where I was biking and walking miles and miles a day, I could eat a great deal. I could, in some situations, give the 19-year-old elders a run for their money (situations involving pizza or Indian food). Elders are legendary eaters, as we all know, so that should impress you.

When I got married and then pregnant, I was the typical skinny little thing whose belly didn't pop out until about 6 months or so. I didn't skimp on eating then, either, because I got so morning sick that eating was the only thing at times that kept me from being sick. When all was said and done with the delivery and the weight came off that was going to come off naturally, I had gained 10 pounds. Then I gained another 10 with the next kid. Then 10 each with each of the kids after that. I had lost all but 10 pounds of the weight right before I found out I was pregnant with Child Six. Of course, it all came back on. Now I've got the weight to lose again.

What weight gain does to a girl's self-image is extraordinary. Guys may put on a few pounds and still feel pretty good about how they look; but we women, who think we must also be perfect in every other aspect of our lives, feel like ugly failures. I can't say I speak for all women, of course. Only 99% of them. I have to admit that when I see some of these young married women have babies and then snap back to their impossibly skinny little selves again, I get a little angry. At whom? I don't know. It's not like I can hate someone just because she's skinny. I guess I get mad at my body for not doing that, as if I should be able to abuse it as I have with bad food and have it stay healthy for my vanity's sake. Up until just about a year ago, I was skinny in my dreams. Now, when I dream, I am my plumper self. I've been my plumper self in reality for about 12 years now. Does that mean I've accepted my body and it's amazing abilities despite my abuse of it? Or am I simply and finally resigned? I don't know. I never finished my psychology degree. (Hee hee. Psychology Degree. I would have been content with that for about five minutes.)

So I'm determined to finally lose the weight and make the necessary lifestyle changes that keep me healthy and keep the weight off. I can't deny my vanity. I was okay-looking back when I was younger. Even with the extra wrinkles I've gained along the way, I want to look in the mirror and not grimace. Also, our bodies really are incredible gifts. I need to take care of that gift to show my gratitude.

Mostly, though, I want to look good in the mirror.

Hey, whatever works.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Captain's Log, Supplemental

Today is my mother's birthday. She is a warm, wonderful woman who always tries to do the right thing and instilled in me through her personal example a love of the scriptures and a love for earnest and sincere prayer. While she went through some very difficult things in her childhood, she was strong enough not to pass along the bitterness of those hurts to her children. Because of her I had a wonderful childhood and I can pass for a functioning adult. She works hard at whatever she does.
Thanks for all you do, Mom. I love you.

We're trying not to look like white trash.

I've been doing some soul searching since the election. On the one hand, I'm really glad that we have overcome our national prejudice enough to elect an African-American to the office of president. I hope that it will spark dialogue and acceptance between the people of this nation and make us more unified. I am also glad I could vote.

On the other hand...oh, gosh.

I'm just too tired to go there.

It being Saturday yesterday, and a Saturday when Husband didn't have to be in 100 places at once no less, we got some stuff done around the house. The recent snow has melted and the day was absolutely lovely -- just the kind of day when you're really glad it's Fall. The air was crisp, but not too cold, and smelled full of all those complex autumn flavors: fallen leaves, wet earth, that indescribable "cool" scent that means summer is over.

The snow had, however, hid a multitude of sins in the front yard. To be honest, ours is the messiest front yard on the block. In our defense, we're the only house on the block with a multitude of young children, but that just exacerbates the difference between our "lived-in" look and the manicured, lawn-company-attended yards of our older neighbors.

Here is the front yard with our very tall flagpole on the left.

Our front yard is mostly cement. The previous owners (wisely, in my opinion, in a region that gets so little water) took out most of the lawn and added two more driveways, one that is a half-circle and one on the other side of the house from original driveway. This reduces the actual grass to a very small little patch, and that patch has a flower bed and tree in the middle of it. We got along with an electric mower for a very long time. In the front of the half-circle driveway, by the public sidewalk, there is a large planting bed with two huge pine trees.

Here you can see all the cut limbs of volunteer trees I pruned from amongst the pine trees but had nowhere to throw.

My goal yesterday was to sweep up the elephant's weight of pine needles that have fallen, clean out the gutters both by the street and up on the house, and sweep away the cobwebs by the front entry (I was cultivating them for Halloween as a sort of "green" decoration, but Halloween is over and now it's just creepy with no purpose.). I got most of that done, plus I found I had two compost piles I didn't even know about hiding under the shrubbery -- a black, rich mixture of rotted leaves and degraded lawn detritus. Bonus!

The downside to all that work was that I knew the moment I finished that it was just a small fraction of what needs to be done. *Sigh* The pine needles will come down again with the smallest wind, snow or drop in the DOW; the spiky, ornamental shrubs in one bed are still trying to take over the earth; and the ivy, though pretty, will continue to slowly and inexorably rip apart the wooden retaining wall around the pine trees. I didn't even get to the bikes. We also have this huge stainless steel sink hidden as much as possible around the west side of the house. We bought it from a school district auction, thinking we could put it down in the basement laundry room. It's a great sink. Really inexpensive. It's just a little too big to fit through the window into the basement. No chance of getting it around the corner at the bottom of the stairs.

Spiky, world dominating bushes running amok.

Wanna buy a sink?

Husband spent his day renting a steam carpet cleaning machine and cleaning the carpet in the exercise room we call "the spa" that is off the back of the house. Until very recently, we had homeless people living in it. That's a loooong story, and one I will not go into now (I heard your sigh of relief), but, suffice to say, the carpet had been pee-ed in multiple times. I cannot describe to you the stink of that room, what with the urine and the smell of unwashed bodies that lived out there. And just so you don't think we force people to live out there with no access to a bathroom in which to use the facilities and wash themselves, they were welcome to come in at any time to do so. Maybe I'll make another posting in which I explain that whole situation, but, for now, I'll leave it a bit of a mystery for those of you who don't already know the story. Husband kicked them out last week.

Anyhoo, back to the cleaning story. After Husband got that carpet cleaned and deodorized (oh, I hope it works! Fingers crossed!), he hauled the dining room chairs outside and gave them a good wash. I was surprised to remember that there are flowers on the fabric of the seats.

There is always so very much more to do than one mere human can accomplish in a day, but it was a start. Of course, while Husband and I were busy cleaning, we weren't encouraging (forcing) the children to do their work, so the inside of the house descended further into chaos. They're paying for that today. Even though it's Sunday, a day of rest, how can anyone rest in a house that looks like a permanent rummage sale? Their uncle is cracking the whip. As soon as I recover my energy from the after-church lunch scramble and helping the boys get changed out of their nice clothes, changing the littlest one's diaper and helping him take a nap, and refereeing various fights amongst the girls, I'll head back out into the trenches.

But not to the yard. Now the leaves have dropped. Maybe I'll call them mulch for the flower bed and go back inside.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My kids look much less blurry in real life.

These are terrible photos. Horrible. We've got a pretty bad camera, but it's all I have, so that's what you get. Plus, I took these at the end of a the very long day because I was recharging the batteries (of course) when the evening started. The kids were tired, itchy, and wanted to change into their pajamas and gorge themselves on candy, and I had to convince them to stand for just a couple more minutes so I could take a picture of my and their hard work. All the photos are blurry (you don't need glasses) because we hadn't replaced three burned out bulbs in the living room. They are replaced now and it's much brighter in that room.

Child Two dressed as a Chinese girl. She got her face painted at the ward party (a large scar over her eyebrow, so I'm not sure what that made her. A Chinese girl involved in a terrible accident, I guess), and she looked really cute with eyeliner.

Child Three and Oldest Child were abducted by aliens. I made those expletive alien heads from papier-mache, which took hours, and put together the costumes. They look nothing like the lovely picture in the magazine where we got the idea. For one thing, the aliens were tired and kept looking up at the sky by the end of the evening. For another, I didn't want to spring for two pairs of slippers for the feet, so the feet ended up looking like stubs, even with socks. And these costumes were surprisingly expensive to make. Never again. I told the girls to save the parts of the costumes and we'll use them for other Halloween costumes in the future. This is what they were supposed to look like. This is the Alien Encounter costume from Family Fun magazine.

Child Five was Spiderman again. He didn't care. He just wanted some candy. He wasn't all that keen to get his picture taken, either.

Child Four was a kitty. A kitty with a flag painted on her forehead by the end of the evening, but a kitty nonetheless.

Child Six didn't wear a costume. He didn't seem to mind too much, as long as he had a sweet in each fist, and I was way too tired to care about costumes anymore. Husband and I didn't wear costumes, either. Every year I tell myself I'm going to get some really cool costumes for the two of us, and every year I don't.

Child Two was skating on the floor in the dining room this morning before school and got a huge splinter wedged into her foot. I got half the splinter out before we left ("MOM! Hurry up! We're going to be late for school!" Unsympathetic children.) and then couldn't remove the other half, which was wedged deeply under her skin. I left her home to soak her foot while I took the others to school and my mother to work, then came home to help her. She had already managed to get the rest of the splinter out and was ready to go to school, though she limped through the rest of her day.

Child Four came home and said to me in an English accent, "Oh, Mother, this is dreadfully awful. I have too much homework!"