Thursday, December 23, 2010

Murphy Christmas

A Brief Family History:

Historically, we tend to have bad luck when it comes to Christmas vacation. That bad luck typically comes in the form of illness. There was the time that one kid had croup, another kid had pneumonia, and the parents both had the flu. At the same time. We've driven in blizzards, had Christmas trees that refused to remain upright, and even remembered the presents only after the four-hour road trip to Grandma's house. Chances are, if my husband schedules the time off for Christmas, something would go wrong.

This year, we were bound and determined to make it a memorable one. Hubby scheduled the time off months ago. We schemed and plotted and planned to surprise our kids with a trip to Disneyland. We had our hotel. We had our road trip snacks, movies, and games. I secretly packed their clothes. We planned to leave Tuesday afternoon. And then came the Pineapple Express. I'm sure you've heard about it. Southern California is drenched, to put it mildly. Southern Utah is lined with sandbags. Looking at satellite imagery, the storm was directly over the exact route we were going to take. In addition to that, we are buried under SEVERAL feet of snow. There was no way we could safely take our kids on what under the best conditions, would be a 13-hour road trip.

HOWEVER, being the cheerful optimists that we are, we quickly came up with Plan B. We booked a hotel room in downtown Salt Lake City for tonight, where we could swim, eat at a fancy-schmancy restaurant, and take in the beautiful Christmas sights. Yesterday, we even managed to sneak in a trip to Santa's workshop, where we found some pretty awesome Christmas presents. You see, Disneyland WAS THE PRESENT, so we had nothing but a few stocking stuffers. Upon returning from our stealthy shopping spree, we walked into a freezing cold house. The Pineapple Express had struck again, this time by taking out both our furnaces. AT THE SAME TIME. So I called a guy, who said it was happening all over the valley and said he'd never seen anything like it. He was currently working on three houses in Park City. At the same time. He said he would try to get to us sometime during the evening, but if not, he would come first thing in the morning. He's here now. And I'm typing this, at the same time. Fortunately we had a warm place to sleep last night, in the form of my in-laws' vacation home, which is conveniently located 5 minutes away.

Unfortunately, this brings me to the next wrench in the Christmas gears: sickness. Currently, it seems that everything on my inside wants to be on my outside. So the hotel is canceled. The hoity-toity dinner is not an option. City sidewalks and silver bells? I think not.

I tell you this not for sympathy; but for reference. Sometime next summer, when I start dreaming of Christmas Future, and those dang sugar plums start to dance, please, please remind me about this very moment.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas in Bethlehem

Last night our friends Chuck and Rachelle invited us over for dinner and game night. Delicious and fun, for sure. Stuck to their refrigerator was something that looked like a dead sea scroll. It was actually an invitation to their ward Christmas party (ward = congregation). Full of type-o's, it was written in biblical fashion. Prospective attendees were told that they must dress in ancient Bethlehem-type garb or be turned away. Really. I'm not kidding. Apparently, if you don't show up in your desert sandals in Alpine, Utah in winter, then obviously you're a Scrooge who doesn't understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Chuck and Rachelle would absolutely be invited to my Halloween gala, but I fully realize that Chuck would come in his regular clothes. And I'm okay with that. Chuck was as annoyed with having to show up at his Christmas party in his bathrobe as he was at being turned away for NOT wearing his bathrobe.

In typical Chuck fashion, he was trying to think of a "proper" outfit to wear to the party. His first thought was Bethlehem Jedi. Naturally, the rest of the evening was peppered with suggestions:

Bethlehem Avatar
Bethlehem rock star (Gene Simmons to be more precise)
Bethlehem plumber (with a loin cloth worn a little too low)

And the list goes on. Please post your suggestions here and I will pass them along to Chuck, an artist/pharmacist. If your suggestion is picked, I'm sure he'll be happy to paint your face in the style of KISS/Gene Simmons.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heard Around My House

The following is a random list of things my children have said to me this week:

Not to make you mad or anything, but when you walked across the kitchen just now, I could seriously feel the floor shake.

Hey Mom, can you open this?

Seriously, you need to get me a flight simulator.

Hey Mom, can you open this?

I'm guessing since you just made bread, I can't have school lunch?

Hey Mom, can you help me with this?

Why are you driving DAD'S car? Is that even allowed?

Hey Mom, have you seen my ______________? (Fill in the blank)

Oh come on! Chicken again? You HAVE GOT to be kidding me.

Hey Mom, can you pick up my ziggurat?

Why hasn't anyone invented flying shoes yet?

Hey Mom, can you sign this?

That stuff you're mopping the floor with smells like cherry chocolate ice cream.

Hey Mom, do you have a magic eraser? I ACCIDENTALLY did something.

It was an ACCIDENT!!! (A different "accident").

Hey Mom, how do you turn this math problem into a percent?

Why is your shirt so puffy?



Question: where does a kindergarten teacher go when she needs a mommy break?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

*Sigh*

I've been thinking lately. Scary, I know. But sometimes, I am really embarrassed for my gender. There's a woman I know who recently suffered a miscarriage. I don't think you can fully understand the scope of feelings you go through when such a thing happens. There's grief and mourning. Yes, grief and mourning and loss for someone you never even got to say hello to. And yet they were a part of you. Then there's anger. Oh, the anger. Don't forget confusion. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

So back to my friend. There was a heartbeat. And then there wasn't. And now she's mourning. And what do I hear out there in universe? "Why on earth would she have another kid?" "She only got pregnant to hang on to her husband."

Upon my third miscarriage, I actually had someone suggest to me that perhaps God was punishing me for some misdeed from my past, and that maybe if I repented, the problem would be solved. (As if that's the way God does things). Thanks for the compassion, right?

WHY do we do this to each other? Why are we mean? Why do we gossip? Let's help each other. Let's build each other up. Let's take each other a pot of soup and say, "I'm sorry you're suffering. How can I help?" Let's keep our hurtful, negative comments to ourselves. Let's spread supportive words of kindness like wildfire. Let's make only one assumption about anyone we ever know or meet: that they are doing their best. Can you imagine the burdens you will lighten if you did that? Including your own?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Signs


Sometimes, and only sometimes, sitting on the couch feels really, really good. Yesterday, every single knuckle in both hands protested use. Every now and then I find a single, silvery hair amongst the nest of black. As I type this, my husband's fancy infrared therapy machine is doing its thing to my right knee. Finally, and perhaps most telling, as much as it pains me to admit, I think the new Buicks rolling off the assembly line are quite beautiful.





Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What Do Pipe Cleaners, A Third World Country, and Ebay Have in Common?

Stay with me. Randomness to follow.

I woke up confused this morning. It only got worse from there. My hair had a mind of its own. I forgot my pipe cleaners (an important kindergarten necessity) and my herbal tea. Thankfully my school is in the back yard of the grocery store. I paid for my new pipe cleaners at the self-check. Of course, they rang up at more than twice the price they were supposed to be. And of course, there was no one around to fix it. And, and of course, I was late for a meeting. So I forked out the extra cash. I know what you're thinking. How much can pipe cleaners be? It's really the principle of the matter. I was at the same grocery store yesterday, and instead of bagging my groceries, the bag girl was texting on her phone. It was probably something like "bggng sux. wut r u doing? lol." I'll be shopping elsewhere in the future; except of course, when I'm in a hurry and need some pipe cleaners.

As the morning went on, my day got even more discombobulated. No tea to keep my throat moist, an unexpected assembly, short one volunteer for centers. But then, a surprise. We're doing a unit on friends. Today's book was a story called "Friends All Around." The words and pictures showed children all around the world enjoying different activities. There was a picture of some children from Suriname, jumping rope together. Why was that a surprise? Because Suriname is where I was born. Very few people have even heard of it. If they have heard of it, it's because of that slimy little dude who had something to do with Natalee Holloway's disappearance. Anyway, it was just very cool to see that picture in a book that I get to read to my kindergartners.

And that brings me to another thought: election day. We left Suriname when I was very young. There was a brief stint in The Netherlands, but then we came to the good ol' USA. Today I got to vote - not something that happens in Suriname. How awesome is that? I was born in an oppressed country, but lucky enough to end up here. Doing what I want, living how I want, voting because I can.

The other cool thing about voting today is due to where I live. I walked into the polling center where no less than 10 people I knew were waiting in line. The election judges were all women I know. We chatted and we caught up with each other; kind of like a voting party. We discussed everything but politics, which I found both weird and refreshing.

My discombobulated day started to recombobulate as I got home and discovered leftovers for lunch. I made one of my favorite dinners last night, so that was a good thing. Even better, I found a bottle of Coke in the fridge. What is it about that stuff that makes your cares disappear?

However, upon checking my e-mail, I received notice that something I purchased on Ebay is now in dispute. I didn't have a problem, but now I'm wondering if I'll get my fifty bucks back.

The discombobulation continues.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Good Day

In the Mormon church, congregations, called wards, are decided by geographical location. Basically, what time you go to church depends on your address. Outside of Utah, a ward can cover a huge area. But right here in Utah you can live across the street from someone and belong to a different ward.

We moved about a 1/2 mile away from our old place, thus we are now in a new ward. Today was our first day. Do you know what I found? I found some really nice people who weren't afraid to introduce themselves to us. I found a bishop who already knew our names and had been expecting us. I heard talks on procrastination, patience, love, and gratitude. I'm really good at the first thing, and working on the other three, by the way. But most of all, and perhaps most comforting, I found a lot of the same thing I've found in other wards wherever I've lived: people who love God, who want to do good, and who are willing to serve in any way they can. Within hours of church ending, a sweet couple came by, just wanting to get to know us. They are anxiously awaiting the births of their 36th and 37th grandchildren (I know!) and treated my kids like they were the only kids on the planet. He brought an atlas of the local area and showed my son where all of his favorite hiking trails are, and upon discovering Jessica's love of piano playing, invited her to come and play music on his Phantom 4000 fancy-shmancy computerized music thing-a-mabob.

So, it was a good day. And a good reminder that there are fine and decent people everywhere you go.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Spooktacular Spectacle

Have you ever noticed how with various holidays there comes a certain amount of pressure? The turkey had better be juicy or great-aunt Edna won't touch it. You feel the need to spend X amount of dollars on a certain Christmas present or someone is going to be disappointed. Even birthdays can be stressful.

But not Halloween. Dress up, spook out, and eat candy. That's it. So that's why I have this social fantasy. It goes a little something like this:

I would love to throw the biggest, baddest Halloween GALA you've ever seen. You know, like something right out of the movies. Lots of glitter and glowing lights, a fog-covered floor; masks on everyone, music, dancing; elaborate costumes. A fog machine, ghosts in the windows, witches at the door, and bats in the bellfry. And then of course, there's the food: an ornate spread of tricky treats -- complete with a bloody fountain of strawberry punch.

All of my friends would D-R-A-G their husbands to it, because when you get down to it, Halloween is for girls. Boys do the costumes for the candy and then get over it. But do we girls ever outgrow playing dress-up? Hardly.

So if and when I ever find a spare ten grand to throw my gala, you're all invited over for some dress-up!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ah, We Meet Again

Where, oh where, does the time go? I have got to get back to blogging. Every day, and I mean EVERY DAY, something happens that makes me think that is so going on my blog. So no more excuses, even if they ARE good ones, like having the flu and moving and parent-teacher conferences and a primary program to put on. It's just time to get all the junk out of my head and onto the computer screen.

First, some funny things I've seen:

In my new neighborhood, we're surrounded by farm land. There's a gang of chickens with befeathered heads which make them look alot like Phyllis Diller. This gang likes to strut their stuff up and down the road. Their leader: the blackest duck you've ever seen. His name should be Daffy.

On the same road, there's a statue of a big elk. For Halloween, someone stuck a big black raven in its antlers. Just thought that was funny. I find myself shouting out "Nevermore!" everytime I go past it. And I clearly realize that I am the only person in my neighborhood who gets that.

Finally, a conversation with my son:

Me: Do you know anyone at your new bus stop?

Him: Yeah. His name is Jorge. Which is weird because he spells it with a J but you say it like an H. And you say the G like an H. Spanish is really hard. I wonder how you say his name is English. And he has a little brother named Omar who always rode our bus last year and he was the most important kid on our bus.

Me: Why was he the most important kid on your bus?

Him: Because he had his own seat and it had a seatbelt and the bus driver said his name ALOT. And then when we got to school we all had to wait until he got off and the bus driver would shout okay, Omar and the preschoolers, time to go to school! And I always thought that would make a great name for a movie, you know, Omar and the Preschoolers... kind of like Alvin and the Chipmunks, only Omar and the Preschoolers.

What more can I say?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm Sick. Just Humor Me.

Further justification of the already irrational fear which I do possess:Yeah. Jellyfish do more total harm to humans than great whites. So there. I gotta quit reading EVERYTHING at museums.

Status Update

So we decided to move. We'd have to move eventually, and this way we get into a place that we really like, and then it's overwith. The big day is Saturday.

However, I've had the flu all week, and I am not a good patient. I'm one of those stubborn sickies... you know, the kind who won't admit they're sick. So until today, it was just a head cold. It hit me Saturday night. Sunday I powered through church and took care of my responsibilities there. Monday I went to work, packed a few things at home, and did what moms do. Tuesday I couldn't even lift my head, so I got a substitute, but still managed to pack a few things. Wednesday I went back to work, came home, took a load of stuff to the new house, came back home and collapsed onto the couch until I went to bed. This morning I got up, fully expecting to go to work. I washed my face and had to lay back down again. That was when it dawned on me that it might be more than a cold. I finally mustered up the strength to set up for another substitute teacher. By the way, let me just say, setting up for a sub is a pain. It's easier to just go to work. And don't think I didn't think about it.

I have spent more time on my couch this week than I would ever care to admit. In education, the occupational hazard is illness. We're only three weeks in, so I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. A couple of years ago, a fellow kindergarten teacher was hospitalized with pneumonia at this point.

No move ever goes smoothly, but moving while sick? Please.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Irony, Stress, and The Joys of Childhood

There has been so much happening lately... so let me sum up.

First of all, irony. Irony is one of those great writing tools that authors use to tell a story. O Henry was one of the best. Remember the guy who sold his gold pocket watch to buy his wife some combs for her long hair? His loving wife sold her long hair to buy him a chain for his pocket watch. That's irony. I've had real-world experience with it this week.

The house I'm currently living in has a nice, empty, upstairs family room. As long as we've lived here, I've wanted a table and chairs for it, where I could sew, the kids could do their homework, and it could generally be used and abused while my nice dining table was left alone. Last Wednesday I finally found such a set. I brought it home and immediately started sanding it, picturing it in a lovely shade of spa blue. While sanding it, I got a phone call. It was the real estate office (yes I'm living in a house that's up for sale). They wanted to schedule an inspection -- the house was sold.

Irony.

In a further twist of events, we started looking for a new place to rent on Friday. We found one on the first try. And it has room for an extra table. The owner wants us to move in on October 1. That's in two weeks if you haven't heard. The buyer's son/agent told me today that his parents are willing to let us stay here until May 1 of next year. But we really like the new place.

That's not exactly irony... more like stress. Final decisions will be made in the next day or so. There will be much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, for sure.

On the bright side, upon seeing the possible new digs, my daughter Jessica came home and immediately started packing up her bedroom. Had I known that this was all it took to get her to clean her room, I would have threatened to move a long time ago. If we don't move, she's got the cleanest room in the house. Now THAT'S irony.

In other news, I took my son Jamison to the dinosaur museum on Saturday. His chosen souvenir was a sandstone "rock" from which one must dig the bones of a tiny T-Rex and then put the skeleton together. Yesterday as he was "digging," he exclaimed with much enthusiasm, "Hey! I found the crotch!"

Ah, the joys of childhood.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Flying Shoes and Motherhood

So my son is on a big kick lately that he is going to invent flying shoes. He's serious.
"Do you really think I can do it Mom?"
"Wouldn't it be cool if I invented them as a little kid?"
"I could get to the bus stop in a microsecond!"

I, of course, am nothing but supportive.
"There's nothing you can't do if you focus."
"I would be so proud to be the mom of a kid inventor!"
"Why don't you just fly to school?"

Today he came in and immediately told me of all the naysayers out there. "Michael said you're just saying those things to be nice."
I wanted to punch Michael in the nose. He'll see what flying shoes look like then.
"All the kids at the bus stop laughed at me and said it was impossible to invent flying shoes."
Those bus stop kids? I'm not sure what their biggest ambitions are at this point, but I'm sure it involves manipulating their way into the latest DS game.

I am not going to dash the dreams of my seven-year-old, no matter what his dreams may be. I get to foster and support and nurture and encourage him because THAT'S my job. And if and when you commute to work in your flying shoes, you can thank me for believing in my kid. Everyone else can take the bus.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001

Yowza. Has it been that long? Oh well, here goes.

I was wearing a white t-shirt that said "denim blues" across the chest, and a pair of black shorts with a white stripe down the outsides. I was planning to swap cars with my boss (back when I was an automotive journalist -- I was test driving a blue Chrysler Town and Country) and then I was going to the gym. I was making a piece of toast for my two-year-old daughter when my mom called. "Are you watching T.V.?" she asked.

"No, I'm just about to leave," I said.

"Turn on your T.V." she said.

As the T.V. flickered to life, the screen showed a live shot of smoke billowing from a sky scraper, somewhere in New York City, I assumed. What a sad day. What a sad and terrible day. We lived just outside of Houston and what I remember most is how quiet everything became. Nothing in the sky. No train horns in the distance (we lived about a 1/2 mile from a railroad crossing). Fighter jets would occasionally pass overhead, defending the Johnson Space Center. A few days later I met my sister at a Target store; we had both needed to tear ourselves away from the television. The place was deserted. It didn't seem right to be there.

But do you know what else I remember? The next day. The unity. The way perfect strangers on the street were a little friendlier to each other. The way our neighborhood looked. You couldn't see the trees for the flags. Everyone went to church to pray, sing, and cry. Life as we knew it had changed.

I put a flag in my front yard today. I'll leave it there tomorrow as well.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ribs, Anyone?

The last 8 or 10 days have been a whirlwind of craziness here in the Stagg household, but it all came to a head yesterday, when at 2:30 a.m. I woke up in agony. I pretty much diagnosed myself with having a heart attack, until I realized that the pain was on my right side. I stayed in bed hoping for the sweet relief of sleep or death, whichever came first. I probably slept for a sum total of 30 minutes - and it was the first day of school. After describing my symptoms to my physical therapist/husband, he said, "I think you should call a chiropractor."

So I got my kids out the door for their first day. Aren't they cute?


Thankfully, kindergarten doesn't officially begin until September 7th, after placement testing, which did begin yesterday. Also thankfully, placement testing means sitting in the same chair with one kid at a time (standing at this point was not an option). And by the time lunch rolled around, I had an appointment with a chiropractor. After a few simple tests he said, "you have a subluxated rib."

If you've ever had a searing, white-hot dagger hooked to electrical shock wires piercing you through your back to your chest, then you know what I'm talking about. Ouch.

Dr. Froggley did his thing and I was able to walk out of his office more fully upright than when I went in. It's still a little tender today, but I'm more willing to move, walk, bend, breathe, etc. Also, due to the aforementioned whirlwind, I ended up with a day off!
So the question is, do I clean up the whirlwind's effects or do I chill on the couch with the Rachael Ray Show? Hmm. That's a tough one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Slip-Sliding Away

Do you ever feel like you're living on borrowed time? Or that whatever time you have is being pulled right out from under your nose? I'm not talking about the deep, philosophical, facing-my-own-mortality kind of fleeting, in case you're wondering.

But sometimes you just gotta put on your swimsuit without shaving your armpits, know what I mean? In1999 when my daughter was born, I walked away from a lucrative teaching career, vowing to never again return. I knew I would go back to work one day, but I had visions of working in a furniture store and using my paycheck and employee discount to buy pretty things on which to park my patootie.

Flash forward eleven years, and I am embarking on my third year of teaching kindergarten. That vow I took? You know, the one where I vowed never to set foot inside of a school as an employee? Today was one of those days when I was reminded why. Unfortunately, there are no furniture stores here in Midway, so there but for the grace of God go I.

And since returning to teaching, my summers have become sacred. I appreciate, enjoy, and dare I say it, relish the carefree lifestyle that summer offers to teachers. Do I sometimes leave dirty dishes in the sink at night? Yes. Do my kids and I stay up way too late watching Amazing Stories? Naturally. Do we plan to go swimming 10 minutes before we go swimming? Without a doubt.

I have the next few days of blissful summer left before school brings it all to a grinding halt on Monday. What will we do? Anything we want; because, after all, summer is being yanked out from under our noses... and sometimes there's just no time to shave.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ahh...

Today was one of those perfect summer days. You know, the kind of care-free day that makes you wish summer would last just a little bit longer? I got up and went for a bike ride, which turned into a walk after my rear tire went flat; but I got to cross a river and walk amongst bright yellow sunflowers, so no complaints there. After I made it back home, my neighbor knocked on the door, very excited to show my kids the very fat and very orange caterpillar she had found in her yard. My kids were fascinated by its walrus-shaped face. My daughter and I then made apricot fruit leather. Remember that stuff? You'd peel it from the cellophane and mold it to the roof of your mouth... you know you did. When I was a kid, I ate it until I got sick. It's so much better than the food-colored corn syrup stuff that they sell now. Once the fruit leather was leathering up in the oven, we packed a picnic and headed for the park, where we met up with friends. We attempted to fly kites, emphasis on attempted. And then in one of those fabulous, spontaneous, impromptu moments, we swapped kids. Her son came home with me and my son; my daughter went home with her and her daughters.

Can I just say, I very well had the two cutest boys in the galaxy spend the afternoon at my house? They quoted Phineas and Ferb, sang me the Perry the Platypus song, played with Legos and the Wii. They swam and I read a book. They raced toy boats down the river in our back yard. The phrase of the day: "We have soooo much in common!" The phrase frozen in time also comes to mind, because there's nothing more darling than a 7-year-old with a fresh haircut and his friend singing the Perry the Platypus song in the back seat of a 2001 Chevy Tahoe.

After a dinner of grilled drumsticks and green beans, our two families met back up at our favorite ice cream shop. If I haven't mentioned this place before (Corner Sweet Treats) then I apologize. They have no less than a dozen homemade flavors on hand and you can get a giant, four-scoop, super sundae for $5.30, emphasis on giant. The scoops are the size of softballs! If you're ever in town, be sure to try the lemon custard with hot fudge; it's divine. So we hung out, we chatted, we laughed, and the kids raced each other up and down the sidewalk.

The nights here are already starting to cool off; a few renegade leaves are already turning yellow, and school starts exactly two weeks from today. But today? Today was a perfect summer day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's What I Do

This sign struck me as funny. It says "it is illegal to harrass fish..." I spent the next 10 minutes coming up with insults to yell at the salmon.

Your mother was a trout!
Hey fishy fishy... saa-wim fishy! Swim!
Hey, is that a bear over there? Ha ha! Made ya look!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm Baa...aaack


So I took a little time off to go on a cruise with my husband, in celebration of my perpetual 26th birthday. Ahem.

We went to Alaska. Just the two of us. It was spectacular. No phone calls. No kids. No responsibilities. There WAS, however, lots of unbelievable scenery, delicious food, and a helicopter ride.

If you're not the kind to get away without your kids, I highly recommend it. Not that I don't love my little brood. But when my batteries are recharged, it's so much easier to like them, too. A few years ago, there was a woman who wrote an article about how she loved her husband more than she loved her kids - and boy did that stir up a hornet's nest. Frankly, I got what she was saying. I love my kids. I do. But in not-so-many years from now, they will be grown and gone, even starting their own broods. That is what they are supposed to do. But if I haven't nurtured, defended, and protected my relationship with my spouse, then where does that leave us when the kids are gone? He's my husband, not my roommate.


So the escape was terriffic. We held hands, walked arm-in-arm along the waterfronts, kissed on a glacier, ordered lots of desserts, and generally reminded each other that despite the distractions of life, we are in love. I'm still swaying from the motion of the ship, but I like it because it's as if I'm still there. My return-to-the-school-year letter was in the mail today, but I don't care. I've got 19 days before I need to worry about it. Until then, I will be planning our next cruise!


Friday, July 23, 2010

The Cheese Touch

If you don't know what the cheese touch is, you've obviously never read the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books. In the book, there is a piece of moldy, stinky cheese left on the playground. When one kid touches it, nobody wants to get touched by him, thereby receiving the "cheese touch." The only way to avoid getting the cheese touch is to have your fingers crossed at the very moment your assailant tries to touch you. My kindergartners drove me a little nutso trying to pass the cheese touch from one kid to another.

But in the middle of summer, when your 7-year-old is bored, it's fun and easy to oblige. We chased each other around the house the other night, trying to give (and avoid getting) the cheese touch. There are only four people in our family, so we have unlimited potential of getting it. When I tried to give it to my husband, Jamison yelled out, "NOOOO!!!! He's lactose intolerant!!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Good Day

Saturday morning chores. Yeah, I find comfort in that.
Sewing. I'm only two steps away from having a new quilt!
Lunch on the back porch. Have I mentioned there's a river in my back yard?
Craft time with my daughter. We made braided bracelets from some quilt scraps.
Family time. A trip to Home Depot, burgers for dinner, and pool time.

Ah, summer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Say What?

The house next to ours is a vacation rental, which fills up with all kinds of people. In the winter we get ski bums and ski bunnies, all of whom seem to be disappointed that the house lacks a hot tub and a beer tap. The rest of the year we get golfers whose clubs cost more than my car. Yesterday, our newest temporary neighbor knocked on my door, introduced herself and told me they were holding a family reunion for the weekend. She asked about some of the local flavor, then asked if I lived in my house full-time. She gave me a weird look when I told her that I owned a small island off the coast of Greece, but due to the recent political turmoil there, I hadn't been able to visit this summer.

She then asked me something that I've never been asked by a stranger before. With pad and pen at the ready, she said, "Do you have wireless internet and if so, could I get your security code so that we can have internet access while we're here?"

I have to admit, I lied. There's a reason I have a security code.

Besides, if you're on vacation, unplug!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Losing It

A while back, I lost something. Contained on that something were several works in progress, including about 25,000 words of a certain novel. Please don't tell me about backing up files. Please.
However, I am happy to announce that I have since re-written about 13,000 of the lost 25,000 words. Stronger, perhaps? One can only hope.
And yes, they are backed up and saved in three different places.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

G'Day, Mate!




This super-cute girl is my niece, Megan. Tomorrow she will be on a plane, leaving for a semester of study in AUSTRALIA! I have to admit, I'm just a tad bit jealous.

"It is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck even while waiting for it."

Good luck on your new adventure, Meg!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

This Week's Random Thoughts

The other day at the pool, I spotted a guy with a sunburst tattoo around his belly button and all I could think was, does he regret getting that now that he has a gut?

On Tuesday my son and his friend played "spies." In my car. I couldn't figure out why everything was all out of place. I also found a big stack of quarters that they left behind, which I shamelessly used to purchase myself a big coke - with the good ice - today.

Today someone came into my house and insulted the lunch I was eating, which was not even offered to him in the first place. And no, it wasn't the guy with the sunburst tattoo.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Satisfaction

I just spent the better part of the past four hours writing. Except for a small break to make my kids and their friends some snow cones, my fingers have been flying. I haven't done that in a really, really long time. And you know what? It is super satisfying. Remember my serial killer story? Yeah.

What gives you satisfaction? And please, no standard answers, i.e., hearing my children in laughter, a job well-done, etc. Because, while there is truth in those answers, they are the easy answers. So dig deep.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

United

It's hard to let the first day of a new month pass by without some kind of blog post. So here goes.
Independence Day is this weekend. Isn't that great? I am sooo one of those Norman Rockwell-Americana-I-Love-Summer people. Watermelon, corn-on-the-cob, sparklers, and star-spangled ribbons in my hair... what's not to love?

But if you watch the news these days, it seems there's less and less to love. There are lots of issues out there that are dividing us. Common ground and common sense are in short supply. Everyone has an opinion, but there are no easy answers. There's a rift.

Allow me to list a few things that still unite us:

Kindness: today I let a guy in a Jeep merge infront of me as we entered the freeway. His face was as brown as the hills he'd just come from, but his teeth were as white as a choir boy's robe. How do I know? Because that's all I could see as he turned to smile and wave. Ya gotta love the thank-you wave.

Hope: there's a woman from the Salt Lake area who's been missing for many months now. Yet every now and then, she'll get a mention on the local news because friends and family members keep organizing search parties to find her. They have hope. That can only be good. It's contagious. The founding fathers had hope. Hope for a country where men could be free. Today we still have hope. We hope that we can leave the world a little better than we found it. We hope that our children will have it better than we do. And we have it pretty darn good right now. Let's remember that every once in a while.

Ingenuity: don't you just love it when someone has a good idea? Even if the idea never comes to fruition, isn't it fun to cheer them on as they chase their dream? Everyone lucky enough to live in America has the same opportunity to act on their ideas. Is the playing field level? No. But ya gotta love a good challenge. And if it weren't for ingenuity, we wouldn't have 500-horsepower muscle cars, ice cream cones, television, vaccines, paper clips, or scones. And who doesn't love a good scone, drowning in butter and honey?

So this weekend, as you're watching the fireworks, think about everyone else watching the fireworks in their communities, and remember that we are all united.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vacation!

Why is it so fun to find new and glorious ways to embarrass my kids? And why is it so easy?

Can you guess what he is? Why, a fossil of course!

Another reason to love America: National Parks



The original golden arch...
Are you taking a vacation this summer?



Monday, June 28, 2010

What Kind of Casserole is That?


Here is a picture of what may possibly be the most random assortment of groceries I have ever purchased.

This is what happens when your husband wants to kill some time and you only have eight bucks in your pocket.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What I Know

Last night my husband got a phone call at about 10:00. It was the wife of one of his close friends calling to say that their 11-year-old son had passed away, due to some health complications.

We hugged our kids a little tighter when we put them to bed. We hugged a little tighter again this morning as we went our seperate ways.

This is one of those moments. One of those moments where your breath is taken away because your heart hurts. One of those moments where it doesn't seem right to be going about your normal routine when someone else's Normal has been shattered. One of those moments where you feel completely, and utterly useless. One of those moments where no matter what you say or how you say it, it only sounds shallow and cliche. One of those moments where you fall to your knees and thank God for your own blessings, and then feel guilty for feeling that way.

I don't know what I would do if it were me, but I do know this:

I KNOW there is life beyond this one. I know that God loves us and He has a plan. He is at the helm and stands ready to embrace us in what can be our lowest moments. I know that families are eternal, and I know that our friends will be with their son again in a very real and physical way. The unimaginable pain they feel will be forgotten, replaced with a joy unimaginable; made possible because of the atonement of a loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

That is what I know.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wanna Keep Me Company?

So my manuscript is being placed directly into the hands of that lady I met last week. I am remaining calm. Calm like Hurricane Rita.

To keep my mind off of it, today I have done the following:

1. Purged the unwanted contents of my cedar chest.

2. Dusted AND vacuumed my bedroom.

3. Stir-fried some noodles. Ate three bites.

4. Made orange jello (I don't eat jello).

5. Cleaned AND vacuumed my bathroom (long dark hair on Travertine tiles).

6. Watched "What About Bob?" (I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful...)

7. Searched for a new camera lens on e-Bay.

8. Talked to the same person on the phone THREE times.

9. Cleaned and disinfected two Camelback bladders (we're going to Moab on Wednesday).

10. Got on Facebook at least 5 times.

11. Started a new story.

Only five more hours til bedtime.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Poisonous Butterflies

Just thought I would share a conversation I overheard earlier today between Dan and Jamison:

Dan: a poisonous butterfly?
Jamison: yeah.
Dan: how do you know it's poisonous?
Jamison: because a girl in my class told me about it and she's been researching it for a month and she read about it in a NON-fiction book and a scientist wrote the book and he's been researching it for YEARS. So HA!

Ah.

One Step Closer

School has been out for a week and a half now, and I have been waiting for a day to be able to something because I WANT to and not because I HAVE to.

The have-to's on today's list included holding a Primary Presidency meeting and feeding my children. That's a pretty easy day, if I do say so myself.

So for the want-to, I just completed the final draft of a story I have been working on for a year. It's done. Chiseled. Sculpted. Until, that is, an editor says to fix it. The trick is getting it into the hands of an editor who also happens to think it worth fixing.

As luck would have it (and I don't believe in luck so much as seeking out the right opportunities) I met a woman this week who owns a publishing business. She told me to call her next week to show her my manuscript. She said if it's not something she can publish, then she's got connections and can point me to the right people. Isn't that great?

Wish me luck!

Monday, June 14, 2010

14-Year Spin

Once upon a time, in a tiny desert town, a school teacher and a physical therapist met. They went out for tacos, played some tennis, and fell in love. In that order. They got married 14 years ago today.

Here are some of the highlights:

Trips to San Diego, Chicago, New York and D.C. (Hey, they were DINKS and could do that sorta thing). He tried to teach her to golf, with no success. Then her appendix went nuclear and she took a 10-day trip to the hospital. (Year One)

Then came a move to a city in the mountains where the teaching and the therapy continued. They added a Jeep and several friends to their family. After a while they decided it was time to add a kid or two or four to their family so they moved again, to a cute brick house in a little green grove... in Texas. The kid was in a hurry, so the teacher went on bed rest and the therapist worried. The teacher managed to hold onto the kid with only two weeks to go, and then they both got thrown for a loop as they learned how to be Mom and Dad. She left her kids at school to take care of her kid at home. They had three bucks left at the end of the month. But the bills were paid and life was good. The big trips morphed into day trips, discovering the Texas Hill Country. They tried to add a few more babies but Heaven needed them more. Eventually the little family took a trip back to the mountains to see the Olympics. And then an even bigger trip to Japan, because, well, they saved their 3 leftover dollars each month. And then finally, a little boy came along, who brought a piece of Heaven with him. (Years Two - Nine)

So they took care of their kiddos, gave a couple more back to Heaven, and moved back to the desert. I guess they're nomads, that way. They hiked and water skied and saw some cool things. She finally took up golf, which thrilled him to no end. They built a new house, which thrilled her to no end. But when it came time to close, the bubble was just beginning to burst, so they walked away rather than taking on TWO mortgages. After all, Faithful and Fearless was there motto. Then came a quarter-life crisis for the physical therapist, who didn't want to be a therapist anymore. So he developed a 5-year exit plan which lasted exactly 8 months before he made his actual exit. He became a salesman, which required a move back to the mountains. Somewhere in there they squeezed in a trip to Fiji, and now they live on a green hillside where their kids roam without a care. Where the mom is a teacher again. Where the dad finally has his dream job of playing golf for business. (Years Ten - Fourteen)

When compared to Forever, fourteen years is hardly a speck. But what a ride that speck has been so far. One of my favorite quotes is this: "Love shared is love multiplied" (Jeffrey R. Holland). In other words, the more you love, the more love you have to give. And notice how I mentioned all our trips? And all of our moves? They say that home is where you hang your hat. I've hung my hat in lots of places; stuffed it in a backpack on an airplane, laid it on a bed on a cruise ship, worn it when mopping different floors in different houses... in different states. So I guess I'm at home no matter where I am, as long as I'm with my taco-eating, golf-loving Dan.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ah... Summer

We've had some wild weather recently here in the mountains. It seems like we had 7 months of winter followed by a week of spring; and now we're getting some major mid-August thunder storms thrown our way. Major floods have done some major damage. Yesterday I was dodging ping-pong-sized hail as I made my way around Salt Lake City.
And yet, despite the storms Mother Nature throws at us, the flowers still manage to bloom. These purple beauties are blooming in my front yard today.


Aren't they gorgeous? They've been pounded by the rain and blown by the wind, yet they still stand straight and tall, colors bursting. I have to ask myself, am I like those flowers? Do I keep my head up in the midst of a storm? Or do I wither and wilt? Do I manage to blossom and bloom despite the whirlwinds? The answer is, I try. These flowers are strong because their surroundings have made them that way. I guess it's like that with life. Whatever the trial, whatever the issue, we can choose to let it run us over, or we can choose to turn our face to the wind and build up some strength. That's not to say that we won't feel like we've been run over, because, well, life is tough. It's downright painful at times. But it's also beautiful. And the beauty is always there. Just look at these flowers.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

Oh, the Answers

And without further adieu...

1. Only You... Robert Downey, Jr. and Marissa Tomei. Need I say more? I'll just say this: Marissa Tomei plays a teacher who goes to Italy to find her destiny, a.k.a. a yummy 90's version of Robert Downey, Jr. She wears nothing but beautiful black, white, and red clothes throughout the entire picture.

2. A Knight's Tale... I absolutely love this movie. The humor, the irreverence, and a medieval story peppered with modern music and sarcasm. I went to see it with a friend way back when, and when we came out of the movie theatre (yes, I love spelling it that way. It makes me feel fancy) tropical storm Allison was swooping over Houston. We got about 6 blocks down the road before spending the night at a What-A-Burger.

3. Two Weeks Notice... I find Hugh Grant... highly entertaining. Especially alongside Sandra Bullock. It's my go-to movie when I've got a cold and need to hunker down for a day or two.

4. Frequency... I had no idea what this movie was about when I went to see it. People actually applauded at the end. I love sci-fi and time travel and all that stuff. I've tried to type what it's about here like three times. Just see it. You will not be disappointed. I promise.

5. The Sound of Music is the most beautiful movie ever made. And that's all I have to say about that. Oh and also that my favorite scene is when Captain Von Trapp and Maria are dancing on the patio and they realize that they are in love with each other. Ahhhh....

6. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home... (see #4) Also, I was eleven years old when this movie came out and I hated Star Trek. My dad watched it religiously. I was more of a Star Wars kind of gal. I decided the best Christmas present I could give him that year was to treat him to this movie, even if I had to suffer through it. Guess what? We've gone to the premiere of every Star Trek movie together ever since.

7. The Princess Bride... No movie list would be complete without it. I could recite it for you if you like. Would anybody like a peanut?

8. So I Married An Axe Murderer... It's not what you think. It's funny. And silly. Kind of like me. When the Scottish father goes off on the younger son's "enormous melon" of a head, I laugh to the point of tears. Every time. "It's a virtual planetoid! It's like Sputnik on a toothpick! He'll be crying himself to sleep tonight on his large pillow..."

And that is my list. It is by no means a list of all of my favorites; just some of the more notable ones. So watch a movie tonight. I know I will.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oh, the Memories

As of this week, we are Netflix Newbies. It's great. Kinda makes me wonder why we didn't sign up a long, long time ago. Dan and I have had some fun scrolling through their vast movie line-up and squealing with joy when we find a treasured gem from our collective pasts. (Ahem, Fletch).

Borrowing an idea from my good friend Becca (you know, the one who's published TWO novels) I thought I would share some lines from some of my favorite flicks and see if you can guess the movie. Extra points if you can throw in any additional quotes.

1. It-lee. My wife's in It-lee? What's she doing in It-lee?
I was born to kiss you.
Bisquit? Mmmm.... crunchy.

2. Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone else here NOT sitting on a cushion!
We WALK in the garden of his turbulence!
Then I shall call you a fox. For that is what you are, my foxy lady.

3. I find you... highly annoying.
I live in the hotel. And I own the hotel. My life is quite a lot like Monopoly, actually.
Ooooh, those dogs are really barking...

4. We did something. I don't know what, but it's like I remember both.
One word, Kid: Yahoo.
I told you I'd always be here for you, son.

5. I like this lemonade. Not too sweet. Not too sour. Just too... pink.
You didn't tell me to bring my harmonica.
You mean to tell me that my children have been parading about Salzberg in nothing but old curtains?

6. No, I'm FROM Iowa. I only WORK in outerspace.
Everybody remember where we parked.
But weren't those a gift from Dr. McCoy? Yes, and they will be again. That's the beauty of it.

7. If only we had a holocaust cloak.
You have six fingers on your right hand. Somebody is looking for you.
No! TO THE PAIN!

8. Come, Nadia. Let us run like children of the night! (in a Russian accent)
Charlie! Light a match! (in a Scottish accent)
She took my heart and my cat!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Cheese Monger

I was hoping to start off the month of June with a blog post like this:

Today is June 1st and it's finally starting to feel like spring up here in the mountain tops. The trees are exploding with a profusion of pinks, purples, and whites. The sun is shining and my glitter toes are sparkling.
That's what I would like to write. And it's mostly true (the above picture was taken last Thursday). Problem is, that it's raining and I came home and had to turn on the fireplace.
So I'll just share what I did yesterday. There's a fancy-shmancy grocery store down in the Salt Lake City area that boasts among other things, a huge selection of the world's cheeses. I like cheese. A lot. Can you beat a nice slice of gouda on a baguette? Hardly. But Dan adores it. Even more than I do. So as the finial cap to his birthday, we went to this store and spent a while hanging out among the Havartis and Edams.
Wild and crazy, I know.
And then we met the cheese monger. No lie. That is her title. It said it right on her name tag. And boy, did she know her cheeses. She gave us a few samples, and insisted we try the Spanish Machengo with a black olive (and not the kind from a can). Wow. I can never eat olives from a can ever again. Ever. She told us about her job, her love for cheese, and how she's been able to travel to Italy, Spain, and other places around the world to hone her mad cheese skills. We walked away with a block of the Machengo and a block of Butter Kase from Germany. And some olives. Not from a can.
As we hesitantly left the cheese area, Dan said, "if for some reason, my company no longer requires my services, I'm going to become a cheese monger."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Showbiz

In just a few short moments I will be leaving to attend Midway Elementary's First Grade Production, "Take Me Home."

This was the conversation as I tucked my 1st grader into bed last night:
Jamison: "Hey Mom, did you know that I have an understudy?"
Me (incredulous): "No. What?"
Jamison: "Yeah. I have an understudy and he is really hoping that I am sick tomorrow so that he can do my part."

Even in first grade, it's a cutthroat business.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Inside Jokes

If it seems like I've been delaying my 100th post, it's because I have. Do you know how much paperwork is involved in moving a kindergartner to 1st grade? Plus I've been busy planning a surprise party for my husband's 40th birthday. Besides, I wanted my 100th post to be something really, really good. I finally got it.



When Dan and I got married, we each brought things with us to start our new life together. He had a T.V. I had a compter. He had a good car, I had a Dodge Omni that wouldn't run if the weather dipped below 68 degrees. Thankfully we lived in Arizona. But the best thing I got from Dan with our marriage (besides Dan) was a handful of good friends. They were all high school/college buddies and because Dan was their friend, so was I. We've been married for nearly fourteen years and I have heard all the stories from the glory days enough times that I can repeat them to you verbatim. That's almost as good as being there, right?



A typical get-together looks like this: all the guys are on one side of the room incessantly ripping on each other about all the stupid things they did when they were younger. All the wives are on the other side of the room laughing at them. It works.



So for Dan's big 4-0, our good buddy Robb put together this little ditty. It's full of inside jokes, but you can appreciate the talent.



Enjoy.





Wednesday, May 12, 2010

There's a Girl I Know



Happy 11th Birthday to this horse-lovin', piano-playin', friend-makin' gal!

Jessica is the one who brings music to our family. She can't do anything without humming a tune. She hums when she's making a sandwich. She hums when she's cleaning her room. She hums along as she plays the piano. She hums along as she plays the violin.

Jessica is the one who brings beauty to our family. Her smile dazzles anybody, even before the braces went on. She leaves sweet notes and is always up for hugging.

Jessica is the one who sets the example in our family. She fits well into any situation and is our social butterfly. She's not afraid to stick up for her friends but also isn't afraid to tell them when they're "acting ridiculous."

Jessica is the goal-getter in our family. Yesterday she told me she's going to try and read one chapter in The Old Testament every day. Thanks to her grandpa, she's got her sights set on BYU-Hawaii. "It's only 7 years away, you know," she told me. She's planning to own some kind of horse-related business by the time she's 16, and her bank account is getting there. I told her she'll be the only sixteen-year-old riding a horse to school instead of a car, and she simply smiled. "I'll have to make sure they have a hitching post," she replied.

Happy Birthday Jess!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tell the Girls to Get In Line

Today I had some fun. I got to take senior pictures of my nephew, Parker. Yep. He's graduating from high school in just a few short weeks. I used to give him piggy back rides and now he towers over me by about a foot! It really wasn't that long ago when his little legs were dangling off of the kitchen stool while he did his kindergarten homework! How time flies... In just a few short months he'll be a college man. Way to go Parker!







Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mothers' Day

To all the mothers out there, thank you.

Thank you for knowing where everything is, even when you've never laid eyes on the thing in question. Thank you for remaining invisible until somebody wants something. Thank you for vacuuming under the couch, for wiping the sticky messes off the floor, for signing those permission slips, and for combing the knots out of unruly hair.

Thank you for saying the hard things. Thank you for being mean. Thanks for not caring what other kids get to do, for not handing out money like it's candy, and for not handing out candy every other minute.

Thank you for going to work... and then coming home and working hard. Thank you for working hard at home all day long. Thank you for going days at a time without having a conversation with another grown-up, for eating PB&J for lunch instead of shrimp cocktail; for cooking healthy, delicious meals fit for a king, and doing it on a budget. Thank you for for not eating your young when they complain that your delicious, healthy dinner tastes like sour lemons.

Thank you for buying new shoes that will only be worn by short people without jobs. Thank you for spending hours at a time sewing Halloween costumes that will be worn for a fraction of that time. Thank you for the Hello Kitty birthday cakes and the Transformer backpacks. Thank you for thinning out the toy box when no one else is looking. Thank you for everything you do when no one else is looking, because usually, no one else is looking.

Thank you for taking care of other mothers' children. Thank you for feeding them, for allowing them into your house when all you really want to do is watch Oprah; for treating them like they matter to you because they matter to your kids.

Thank you for being the keepers of the peace. The guardians of love. Thank you for making home a sanctuary.

Thank you for being a mom.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh Yes I Will

Today's bucket-list item is the nearest and dearest to my heart. And the one that WILL happen, even if none of the other ones do. I will own a Shelby GT 500 Mustang. I have no doubt. (Tomboy, remember?)
"Why," you ask? There is no why here. That's like asking how long eternity lasts. There is no answer.





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Friday, April 30, 2010

A Last Note On Passion

I started off April with a post about passion, so it's only fitting to end on that note.

Today's bucket list item is no small secret. I want to write stories that get published into books. I've gone to plenty of workshops and conferences where they like to tell you that your chances of taking a flight to Neptune are better than getting a book published. They tell you to write because you like to write.

I can do that.

But I really want to be published. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't care what the odds are. That's my dream and I'm sticking to it.

It was reinforced yesterday when Rick Walton, an author of more than 50 children's books visited our school. He talked to our students all about writing stories. He began with a book he'd written a while back and he ended with a book that is due out later this year. I can guarantee you that there wasn't a person in the audience who was more mesmerized than yours truly.

So I'll continue to write because I like to write. But also because I want to get published.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Irony?

Today as I stood outside in blizzard-like conditions, putting kindergartners in their cars, I yelled at the sky "I am the president of hating winter!"

With that said, here is today's bucket list item:

I want to go on an Antarctic cruise. I know.

Have you ever heard of Sir Ernest Shackelton? He was a British explorer who wanted to lead an overland expedition across the Antarctic continent. On the way, his ship got frozen in the ice, which was subsequently crushed, and he and 27 other men spent two years surviving. Oh, and World War I had broken out, so they were completely forgotten by everyone in the "civilized" world. No Gortex. No G.P.S. Just their wits and the pure will to survive. After eating nothing but penguins and sea lions for two years, they finally made it to Elephant Island, a lifeless rock off the northern peninsula of the frozen continent. Shackelton then made an important decision. He rested for one night, took four other men, hopped into a 23-foot lifeboat and headed for South America. Without taking anything away from the harrowing ending, I will simply say it involved a hurricane, removing the nails from the lifeboat and hammering them into the bottoms of their shoes, and forming a human chain to make a slippery slide down an icy slope.

Endurance, the name of the ship, is also the name of the book recounting this amazing story of the human will to survive. To endure. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Should you feel so inclined, be sure to pick up the copy that includes the photographs.

Granted, my visit will be on a luxurious and warm cruise ship that includes good food, a soft bed, and yes... Gortex.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Counting Down

I realized today that this will be my 93rd post. Just a few to go until that magical #100. So I thought it would be fun to count down by listing a few bucket list items. We all have them, right? Things we want to do before we, uh, meet our Maker?

Today's Bucket List Item:

I want to be an extra on a Star Trek movie set. I know. I'm a nerd. And proud of it. But how cool would that be? I have been a Star Trek fan since I was a kid (converted by my dad). Sometimes I'll watch a movie and say to myself, See! If people could just get past all the boloney in this world, look at what we could accomplish!

Idealistic? Far Fetched? Absolutely.
Possible? Definitely.

But for now, I'll just dream of smaller aspirations, like being an extra. They could shave my hair off and paint my scalp purple. I'd do it in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Signs of the Times

A Random Sampling of the goings on at my house:

*Head Gear
*Gearing up for Little League
*Piano Recitals
*Test Snacks (as in sending snacks to school for Core Testing)
*Laundry (a never-ending battle)
*Mean Girls (some tweens should be knocked down a notch or two - not mine, of course)
*Newer, bigger mountain bikes
*Wii Golf Tournaments
*A 7-year-old in desperate need of a Tuxedo (Bond. Jamison Bond.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kindergarten Spring Fling

Today at recess one of my students, a girl, came running up to me. This is what she said:
"Mrs. Stagg, there's this kid, well he was Jenny's boyfriend, but they broke up, and then he got jealous of her and now he's growling at us. Can you make him stop?"

It's good to know that spring and love are in the air.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's a Big Big World

I'm in a reflective mood today. It could be the gloomy weather and the fact that I'm just itching to go somewhere. I know, I know, I was just somewhere last week. Obviously, it wasn't enough. It's never enough for me. I love, love, love to travel. It's right up there with eating and breathing. So today I thought I'd post a few pictures of a few places I've been. As I often say, God created this big, beautiful world for us, and I intend to see as much of it as I possibly can!

Sabino Canyon in Tucson, AZ

Gold Coast, Fiji


American Fork Canyon, UT


Gallatin River, Yellowstone National Park (Montana)
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You know, there really is something different around every corner. Isn't it awesome?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gila Monster or Iguana?


Here is a picture of the previously blogged-about Gila Monster. Thank goodness for zoom lenses and photo cropping. It is rare to see one out in the open like that, so I guess we were "lucky." Click on the picture if you want to see it a little closer up.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wanna Know What I Like to Do? This:


2010 Lexus RX 450h
Need a conversation starter? Drive a hybrid.

Forty-four bucks. That’s what it cost me to put 820+ miles on the little Lexus SUV. Is that a bargain? Well, at nearly $3.00 per gallon for premium unleaded, I’d say so.
With the double opportunity of spending spring break in Arizona and test driving a really great car, I was given the double escape of leaving behind the snow and 23 kindergartners. Having spent the last several years living in the mountains, I found the straight, flat freeways of Arizona almost relaxing (if only it weren’t for the photo radar equipment standing guard every 500 yards). Combine that with a Lexus and driving gets downright pleasant. In true Lexus style, the RX is an easy road-tripper. It handles with comfort, ease, and refinement. As the driver, I very nearly felt like I could have reclined back with both hands behind my head and let the car drive itself… if only it weren’t for the aforementioned photo radar cameras. The RX, one of the original cross-overs, is more car-like than ever, with a lower profile and a sleeker exterior. It rides on smooth MacPherson struts up front and a double-wishbone suspension in the back – all of which combine to absorb even the biggest bumps quicker than you can say “heated and ventilated front seats.” (A real plus, by the way, after hiking Camelback Mountain in 90-degree weather).
The rear seat offered plenty of space for my two kids, who couldn’t seem to quit fighting over the center armrest. They do the same thing in our Tahoe and our Imprezza, so this was nothing new. My seven-year-old liked that he could reach the exterior door handle and could get in without the use of a step-ladder. In contrast, I really liked the zero-plop factor. Open door. Sit down. Ah.
The rear cargo area was deceptively spacious. We fit several pieces of luggage, a couple of duffle bags, plus at times a couple of boxes – and still had some room to spare.
But where the RX 450h really shines is up front. The 3.5-liter V6, coupled with two electric motors, delivers a solid 295 horses of refined power. EPA fuel economy is listed at 32 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Its non-hybrid counterpart (with the same 3.5-liter engine) gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Acceleration was responsive and quick; braking delivered the same results. However, when braking at low speeds, such as when pulling into a parking stall, the touchiness of the regenerative brakes came into play.
The RX hybrid also delivers when it comes to the driver’s seat. Little luxuries like a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, voice-activated navigation, and dual-zone climate control make the road trip a true vacation. A true testament to my love of all things bright and shiny: high beams that automatically dim for you. No more drivers angrily flashing their headlights at me. My one complaint would be that the GPS wasn’t always quite as accurate or user-friendly as I remember it being in the past. Operator error? Quite likely. But at one point, it told me I had arrived at my destination about a block too soon. When I stopped to ask a guy where the building was I was looking for, he pointed about a block up the road, and then proceeded to ask me about the car. Need a conversation starter? Drive a hybrid. He was impressed with its silence as I crept through his dental office’s parking lot. He also liked “the whole luxury-hybrid thing” it had going on.
Overall, the RX 450h seemingly does it all. In the city, on the highway, and yes, even on a farm road or two, it handles with all the finesse you expect from a Lexus. With roughly $10,000 in optional features, my test vehicle totaled out at $52,160. But if it’s going to cost you about forty bucks every 800 miles, you can opt for the features.

On a side note, several people have asked me my opinion on all of the recent recalls made by Toyota/Lexus. Remember, this is my opinion. I say look at their history. They have a long-standing reputation for building high-quality, reliable vehicles. Call me a cynic, but I also believe that today’s media tends to over-sensationalize stories, hoping to get your attention. I think that Toyota/Lexus is doing what they can to make things right while taking a good look to make sure future (and foreseeable) problems might be prevented. A local news station recently asked: “Do you trust Toyota?” My answer: Absolutely.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let's Hear It For the (Tom)Boys

If I haven't mentioned it before, I was a major tomboy growing up. Like Kramer told Elaine on Seinfeld, "You're a man's woman." I didn't date much, but I had lots of "guy" friends. We played tennis, worked on cars, watched ballgames, and generally did lots of cool stuff like that. I even helped THEM get a date or two. During my trip back to Arizona, I made a point of seeing a few of those great guys.


This is my friend John. We sat together in Senior English and made wisecracks about anything we could think of. He is also a major baseball fan, and here we are last Saturday at a Diamondbacks game. John is one of those genuinely nice guys who would do anything for a friend. He gave one such friend a kidney.

This is my good buddy Chris. I don't really remember not knowing Chris. He's a year younger than I am, but in school somehow, that didn't really matter. He was a fellow trumpet player and we marched together in band. He also loves cars and we spent a lot of time daydreaming about our ultimate driving machines. In high school he drove a '55 Chevy Bel-Air. It was hands-down THE coolest car in town. Today he works for Volkwagen. Go figure.

This kid here is Tommie. Again, I hardly remember NOT knowing him. Tommie was sort of like my protector (one of the many). Our senior year, there was a certain guy who came along that I really, really liked. I mean like liked. Tommie and another one of our friends, B.J., took this guy out to lunch and laid down the law. To this day, I still don't know what they said to the poor, unsuspecting dude. Well, the dude turned out to be a dud (big surprise) and Tommie saved the day by taking me to the senior prom. Little surprise today, Tommie is serving as the bishop of his ward in Mesa, Arizona. For my non-LDS readers, that means he is the leader of his congregation. In other words, he takes care of and protects everyone around him.

This guy here is Dan. The one I said yes to. The one who embraces my tomboyish ways without the slightest sliver of jealousy.
As an adult, my girlfriends are the ones I lean on, but in my youth, it was the guys who shaped me. On vacation I read "The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency." This quote rang true for me: "You can go through life and make new friends every year - every month practically - but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel."
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Desert Springtime


This is a photo I shot with my cellphone... real camera photos to come (when I get home).


It's a picture I took while hiking yesterday in Sabino Canyon, a beautiful area on the northeast side of Tucson. They've had a lot of rain this year, so everything seemed especially lush.


My kids have never spent any real time in a desert setting and Jamison was somewhat wary of being surrounded by so many saguaro cacti. He wouldn't even go near the ribs of a dead one we came across during our hike. And then, towards the end of our adventure, he spotted something that caught his eye and ran right up to it: a gila monster. For you non-desert dwellers, a gila monster is one of two venomous lizards in the entire world. So my son, who wouldn't touch a dead cactus with a 10-foot pole, had no problem mingling with deadly lizards. "But I thought it was an iguana!" he explained.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Things Heard On Vacation So Far...

Jamison came out of the hotel bathroom holding a bar of soap and asked, "how do I use this?" After laughing my head off, I realized that he's never used it, as I am strictly a soft soap/shower gel kind of gal. I hate the goopy stuff bar soap leaves behind. Plus, I don't like the thought of rubbing something all over myself that someone else has rubbed all over THEMSELVES.

After visiting two different friends whose children both own geckos, Jessica went hard on the campaign trail. After explaining that it was probably too cold in Utah to keep a gecko, she said, "Well, you're always saying you want to move back to Tucson. So how 'bout it?"

To give some background, last year, we went to Fiji. We always talk about how the nicest people we've ever met live in Fiji. Today, we popped in on an old college friend of mine, and after leaving his office, Jamison said, "That guy was really nice. Is he from Fiji?"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Socks? We Don't Need No Stinking Socks

Friday's To Do List:

Go to work at 8:00
Leave work at 11:45 (THE perk of teaching A.M. kindergarten)
Put away the winter boots and parka
Clean, scrub, mop
Pack
Prep toenails for sockless freedom
Dinner with friends

Saturday's To Do List:

Take a one-hour plane ride to the desert
Stand outside, in thin, short fabric (and no socks)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Problem?

So I wander out of the abyss that is my laundry room this afternoon, and stumbled upon this scene:I really, really love the fact that my kids are bookworms. Their reading appetites are voracious, to say the least. The tween keeps me well-informed of any upcoming release dates for new books. The seven-year-old won't even let family prayer time interrupt his reading. "Hold on! Just let me finish this page!" He and my husband have started an early-morning ritual of snuggling together in the recliner, each with their own books.

But I realized this weekend that it's becoming a problem. Their dad and I were trying to out do each other at Wii golf while the kids' noses were buried in books. Is there something wrong with that? Is it wrong that my son turned down an offer of playing Catch with his dad because he was "too busy reading?" They later negotiated a deal. Is it weird not to see my daughter for hours on end because she's locked up in her room, lost in the pages of Fablehaven? Is it weird that she just checked out the DVD movie "The Hound of the Baskervilles" because she read the book last week? She watches it with a blanket pulled up to the bottoms of her glasses just in case something scary should rear itself. SHE ALREADY KNOWS WHAT HAPPENS!

I guess it's a good problem to have, but the least they could do is give out a little cheer when I birdie the fourth hole on Wii golf.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

This Good Mom Moment Brought To You By...

A helicopter mom I am not. I don't hover. As long as my kids are behaving like civilized humans I pretty much try to stay out of things. I know a kamikaze mom or two. Sometimes I fear I border a bit too much on being a U.F.O. mom. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about that. But then I insert my iPod earbuds and forget all about it.

But the other day, I did something right. I was upstairs when my 7-year-old came home from school. "Hello?" I shouted. Silence. "Hellooo?" I called out again. I came down the steps to find him buried under a blanket on the couch (his usual routine is to head straight to the kitchen for a snack, and simultaneously making a Transformer appear out of nowhere). "What's wrong?" I asked. Tears were pooling in his quarter-sized eyes.

"I don't feel good!" he wailed. Also a head-fake.

"Really? Are you achy?"

"No. I just don't feel good! And by the way, Hannah hates me now!" Hannah is his best friend. Yes, my son is a ladies man, and I will have to post about that at a later date. Hannah lives up the road from us and is moving. Around the corner.

"Well, I think I have something that might make you feel better."
"Can I call Hannah and see if she can come over and play?" he asked after devouring the $2.50 cupcake.

Yep, sometimes I do things right.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Passion


Last night I was one of 10,000 lucky people who got to see Michael Buble live in concert. Give me a debonaire crooner who can belt out the standards and you have my undivided, very enthusiastic attention. He was funny, sweet, and man... can that guy sing.

There were several memorable moments. Let's face it; the whole evening was a memorable moment. But there was one thread that ran throughout the entire, unforgettable performance, that is staying with me. Throughout the show, he would pause to talk about how much he loves what he does. How he knew that this was what he wanted to do since he was thirteen years old. About how he wishes he could pull each fan up on stage, one by one, so that they could feel what he feels every night. "Because it's pretty cool," he said. "I get paid good money to do what YOU do in the shower." He left no doubt that he was grateful for every opportunity that has come his way. I have no doubt that he is passionate about what he does.
So what's your passion? Have you found it yet? If not, find it. Do it. Don't let anything hold you back. Set a goal and accomplish it. And if you're able to make good money while doing it, well, bonus.
Whatever it is, I highly recommend doing it while Michael Buble sings in the background.
P.S. I can now die happy as I finally heard him sing "Me and Mrs. Jones" live.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A.K.A. MOM

Last night, the evening news featured a story about how a very small number of the population can actually use their cell phones and safely operate a vehicle at the same time. The rest of us are advised to leave our cell phones at home, tucked safely behind bullet-proof glass. The 2% who are evolved enough to do both, were called "super-taskers."

Excuse me?

They can do two things at once? Wow.

Yesterday I did laundry, cooked dinner (which included homemade strawberry lemonade) and helped my daughter with her oral report on the state of Tennessee. Oh - and supervised my son and his "play-date." All at once.

But I'm no super-tasker.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Community, Continued

There's this awesome little store that recently opened in Midway, called simply enough, The Store. It is the first and only grocery store in Midway, despite the fact that there are two larger supermarkets in Heber. And being the only grocery store in Midway, I never go there without seeing someone I know. The Store sells your typical daily-type groceries but they also have many specialty items. My favorite part is the bakery.

They have bismarcks. Bismarcks have always been and shall forever remain my favorite doughnut. Custard on the inside, chocolate icing on the outside. What's not to love? And these bismarcks are the best I've ever tried. Yesterday I stopped in for one. But perhaps it was one too many, because Jessica, the girl behind the counter, said, "Why do I even ask you what you want? I'm just going to start calling you the bismarck lady."

I guess I could be called be worse.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Community

Excuse me, while I have a Norman Rockwell moment.

I love where I live. Have I mentioned that before? It's a small community nestled in the mountains. It's a tale of two towns: Heber City and Midway. Think Dallas/Fort Worth, only without the traffic. Or the buildings. Or all the people.

The people who do live here are exceptional. Tonight my daughter and I went to the local production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." It was presented in-the-round, which was perfect for our town, and here's why: I had a perfect view of EVERYONE. Both on the stage and in the audience, I saw: kids I taught last year, kids I teach this year; children I teach at church. People I work with, people I go to church with, and of course, friends.

There is much to be said for community. To see people and feel connected; to feel as happy about running into someone as they are to be running into you. In this age of personal devices, and i-thisses and i-thats, what a treasure it is to do some real life, face-to-face social networking.

Even better, set to music.

On our way out, my daughter was reading the back of the playbill and asked, "can I try out for the next one?" How can I say no?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guy Update

So today I happened to stop in on a local business owner/friend. As we chatted, guess who should pass by her window? THE GUY!!!

Naturally I had to ask if she knew who he was. And in fact, she knew a little. She told me his name, but I am going to withhold publishing it so as to protect him. It sounds like he might need a little protection. He is a former ranch hand from Montana or Minnesota - she couldn't remember which. Anyway, he has experience with big cattle drives. She's not sure how he ended up here. He had a car, but then sold it for money. Then he had a motorcycle, but he sold it for money. Then he had a bicycle, and, well, you know the rest. Now he can be seen walking all over town. She also thought he seemed to wrestle with Tourette's Syndrome. And that is the total of what she knew.

It's not as glamorous as being an Australian spy whose mind was erased, but I guess my questions are answered (mostly).