Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yes, I take advice from chocolate

I found out I was pregnant with Leah on a Friday. The following Sunday, I snagged a chocolate out of the Bishop's candy jar. This is what the wrapper said:

Celebrate the child within you.
I thought that was really cool. I laminated the candy wrapper and put it in a scrapbook.

So, it's been a busy week. On days when I actually have a car to drive (meaning I drove my husband to work at quarter to 8--before I prefer to grace the world with my crusty presence and morning breath), I have to make the most of my errand-running time, of course working around lunch and nap time. Monday was a doctor's appointment and grocery shopping and car cleaning. Tuesday was filled with Relief Society duties. Yesterday I stayed home and went through paperwork and made piles of things to put away. Cleaning up a mess in and of itself creates an entirely new mess. Well, when I say I did paperwork, I mean I spent several hours preparing documentation for a dozen FLEX account transactions throughout the year. Yes, it was a good thing I kept the receipt for that Pepto-Bismol. Today, I swapped babysitting with my neighbor, and in my hour and a half, I made copies of all the paperwork from yesterday and did some birthday and Christmas shopping. Then, even though my child was now in tow, I went visiting teaching, made a Relief Society drop-in visit, and spent $135 at Sam's Club (and in only 45 minutes!) while my child was sound asleep in the shopping cart. How I wished it could have been me asleep in the shopping cart. I think everyone I passed (and they all ogled that there was a kid sound asleep in the cart) saw the sleepiness in my eyes and the half-speed shuffle in my step.

While at Sam's I gravitated toward the free food samples. One of them was Dove chocolates...irresistible. The lady gave me one of each kind, regular chocolate, dark chocolate, and extra dark. This is what the wrappers said:

You're allowed to do nothing.

Flirting is mandatory.

Celebrate the freedom to indulge.

I was grateful for the validation to indulge, since that was my third chocolate in 90 seconds, and it was the extra dark one. As for the second one, I will remember that when Chris gets home from class.

But do nothing? What a relief! I'm so burned out that I'd love to do nothing! Here's what I could be doing right now: make pies for Sunday dinner, research how to successfully cook a turkey, scrub the kitchen floor, disinfect the kitchen counters, remedy that the kitchen curtains are encrusted with cheerios and toddler face-prints, attack the piles I made yesterday, wrap birthday and Christmas presents, attend the sewing class at church, put Christmas lights in the windows, put up that infernal kitchen cabinet that still adorns my living room, and essentially play SuperMom until I run myself into the ground.

But I'm doing nothing. And I'm allowed to do nothing. In 45 minutes Leah will be in bed and I will put up my feet and commence nothing. I will possibly watch Tuesday's House, flip channels randomly while sipping hot cocoa, read a book, blog, or something equally underproductive, because I have permission! Sorry, but SuperMom is not in tonight!

That's exactly what I thought!

I just got the December issue of the Ensign, and I have to say, the very first article by President Hinckley hit me right in the center. It's called "These, Our Little Ones." I thought it was very powerful and inspiring. Let me share a few tidbits.

E. T. Sullivan once wrote these interesting words: “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.”


Do you want a spirit of love to grow in the world? Then begin within the walls of your own home. Behold your little ones, and see within them the wonders of God, from whose presence they have recently come.


The story is told that in ancient Rome a group of women were, with vanity, showing their jewels one to another. Among them was Cornelia, the mother of two boys. One of the women said to her, “And where are your jewels?” To which Cornelia responded, pointing to her sons, “These are my jewels.” Under her tutelage and walking after the virtues of her life, they grew to become Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus—the Gracchi, as they were called—two of the most persuasive and effective reformers in Roman history. For as long as they are remembered and spoken of, the mother who reared them after the manner of her own life will be remembered and spoken of with praise also.


Behold your little ones. Pray with them. Pray for them and bless them. The world into which they are moving is a complex and difficult world. They will run into heavy seas of adversity. They will need all the strength and all the faith you can give them while they are yet near you. And they will also need a greater strength which comes of a higher power. They must do more than go along with what they find. They must lift the world, and the only levers they will have are the example of their own lives and the powers of persuasion that will come of their testimonies and their knowledge of the things of God. They will need the help of the Lord. While they are young, pray with them that they may come to know that source of strength which shall then always be available in every hour of need.


Said Isaiah of old, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13). To which I add, “Great also shall be the peace and the gladness of their fathers and mothers.”

What a great honor and blessing that we have one (and 3/4) children. I only hope and pray and strive to be the worthy mother President Hinckley described that will instill in the hearts of my children the spirit and desire to do good.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This week at our house...

1. We got home on Saturday and until I could go grocery shopping on Monday, all we had to eat that was fresh was chocolate milk. Chris even tried putting it on his breakfast cereal. Gross.

2. We got home on Saturday and until I could clean out the car on Monday, it ranked an 8 on the nasty stench-o-meter. Now it's about a 5. How I wish I had no sense of smell.

3. We got home on Saturday and since then, Chris has loaded and unloaded the dishwasher at least three times!

4. I'm 33 weeks pregnant. I can no longer reach my toes without twisting and contorting strangely, and comfortable sleep is a distant memory thanks to an awkward belly, rambunctious fetus, and acid reflux.

5. My child ate better, slept better, and entertained herself better at Grandma's house than at our house. Why do you suppose that is? Did I just ignore her better because there were more rooms to abandon her in? Is Grandma just more patient with her than I am?

6. Yesterday I made dinner for Chris so he could eat and run. Then, left to myself for several hours, I actually made dinner for Leah and me (and I don't mean Macaroni & Cheese or PBJ) and we both ate heartily until we were satisfied.

7. I'd like to put up our Christmas decorations this week, but Chris wants to do our tree together (good grief!) which means I have to wait until Friday to have a Christmas tree. By the time that comes, I will already have put up a garland, wrapped presents, and put the lights in the windows.

8. I'm surrounded by half-finished projects new and old, including the Christmas decorations (see number 7), a dried-paint-coated craft table that adorns my living room, a finished but unhung kitchen cabinet, the stenchified car-cleaning project, a box full of stuff from a drawer that was reassigned but which sits on my kitchen table, the house cleaning project which continues to become more daunting, my Relief Society responsibilities, and the list goes on. I even took a shower today but didn't actually do my hair or makeup meaning that I'm also half-finished. Good thing I'm not going anywhere today!

9. This Sunday is Leah's second birthday. This Sunday I teach a lesson in Relief Society. This Sunday we are having guests and having our own Thanksgiving dinner. Hey, I gotta learn the art of the turkey and thanksgiving-day kitchen mayhem some day!

10. I'm tired.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our Thanksgiving Mad-Lib

Before we left on our trip, I tried to find Mad-Libs at the store so we could do them in the car, but had no luck. I was beginning to think they were a thing of the past until I serendipitously found them at Barnes & Noble--we had a blast doing them on the way home. I was so inspired to create our own Mad-Lib describing our vacation.

You do it first and then you can read my real, but much less silly version of the events.

Last name
Name of town
Musical instrument
Animal plural

We just went on vacation to visit Grandma and Grandpa (last name) in (name of town). We drove for (number) hours and although we were (adjective), we couldn't resist going swimming in their Endless (noun) right away. They treated us to Chicago style (food) and (food). We had lots of fun swimming, playing games, doing a puzzle, shopping, and (verb)-ing. I sang in the choir on Sunday and Dad treated us to (musical instrument) serenades. Carl scored us free tickets to the circus, where we saw (adjective) clowns and dancing horses, zebras and elephants. My favorite acts were the acrobats, and the (animal plural) that did backflips. One of the elephants painted a (noun) and Leah won it in the drawing! Then two people shot out of a human (noun) at (number) miles per hour. What a treat! On Thursday we had a (adjective) Thanksgiving dinner with lots of turkey, ham, trimmings, and tasty (food). Alas, nothing can last forever, so we packed up our (adjective) car and drove for (number) more days until we got back home to routine and responsibility.

Here's how it really went:

We just went on vacation to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Illinois. We drove for 22 hours and although we were exhausted, we couldn't resist going swimming in their Endless Pool right away. They treated us to Chicago style pizza and Portillo's hotdogs. We had lots of fun swimming, playing games, doing a puzzle, shopping, and visiting. I sang in the choir on Sunday and Dad treated us to organ and piano serenades. Carl scored us free tickets to the circus, where we saw silly clowns and dancing horses, zebras and elephants. My favorite acts were the acrobats, and the poodles that did backflips. One of the elephants painted a picture and Leah won it in the drawing! Then two people shot out of a human cannon at 65 miles per hour. What a treat! On Thursday we had a hugeThanksgiving dinner with lots of turkey, ham, trimmings, and tasty pies. Alas, nothing can last forever, so we packed up our tiny car and drove for two more days until we got back home to routine and responsibility.

Here are some photo highlights:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Year's Worst Toys

Ever since I had a child, I've had this non-profit group on my radar--Every year, they single out the worst toys that are on the market, meaning toys that pose a potential threat of bodily harm or even fatality. Remember lawn darts? Yeah, same idea. What's sad is that 9 out of 10 toys on this year's top ten list haven't even been recalled! How do these things get on the market anyway? Somewhere, someone had to have a serious lapse of judgement...

I admit, I didn't go through the toy bin and get rid of everything made in China, I'm not boycotting mass-produced plastic toys, nor am I switching to all wooden--a child seriously has to ingest an awful lot of paint to get sick. Don't get me wrong, I don't approve of lead paint on children's toys and I think the practice should be stopped, but I'm not in a rampage. But AquaDots? That I have a serious problem with...

Check out this years list for yourself.

Been There

I think we've visited this subject before...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is anybody out there?

Hello? Can you hear me now?

I like blogging. It's a fun way for me to put into words the quirky or mundane things that go on in our lives, and I don't mind sharing them with you. I even provide pretty pictures to go with them and I've added fancy lists and widgets to the panel for your reading enjoyment. This blog is for you.

Right now my blog gets between 10 and 20 hits a day, half of which are from unique users, the other half are returning for a second helping. I get closer to 30 hits on days when I put up new posts. And for the most part, I know who you are. I know where your ISP is located and what your IP address is and can track the referring link and how long you stuck around. So I know you're there...why do you insist on being invisible?

There are you lurkers out there who check my blog on a daily basis, but then leave without ever leaving a comment or signing my guestbook. You know who you are.

But I want to hear from you! I thrive only on your validation that my life is worth reading about and that it wasn't just a waste of your time to stop by for 90 seconds. I beg you to please comment on my posts...give me that validation that I so crave. Remember that I'm kind of insecure? Even if you only want to comment "Hi my name is Cindy Lou Who and I don't know you but I read your blog every day and I think you're funny" or "I love Cafe Rio, too!" is all I need in order to feel that my well-planned posts are not in vain and wasting away in a cyberspace void. Is there a certain kind of post you want me to write that will get you to comment? Do you want funny? Do you want pictures? Do you want analytical? Give me some feedback here...

I'm just aiming for even three comments per that too much to ask for?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Real Deal

Cafe Rio. If you've lived in, near, or have visited Utah in the last, well, five years, I'm pretty sure you've heard good things about Cafe Rio. It's yummy!

Well, as poor students and then as new parents, we don't get to go here very often. But they serve this tasty chicken salad we just can't live without, no matter how poor. Start with a fluffy, fresh tortilla encrusted with melted cheese. Then layer lettuce, cheese, tortilla strips, your favorite veggies, and shredded seasoned chicken on top of a bed of rice and black beans, top with creamy cilantro lime dressing, pico, and guac and you have heaven on an aluminum platter.

In between our merely bi-annual visits to this local mecca, we created our own imitation salad and eat it at home on a weekly basis. Our substandard salad consists of a layer of Zatarrain's Red Beans and Rice, shredded taco-seasoned chicken, and a close second to Cafe Rio's house dressing, Seven Seas Green Goddess dressing. Add to that a pre-packaged tortilla, shredded cheese, and a bed of lettuce. It's not quite as elaborate or delicious, but it does a pretty good job of satisfying our need to experience a taste of the royalty that is Cafe Rio.

Well today we took Chris's secretary, Tiffany, to lunch so he could show his appreciation for all she does. We took her to Cafe Rio. It was time see how close our knock-off is to the real deal and identify what adjustments we need to make to get closer to perfection. Well, of course my salad was delicious, but I realized that our salad at home is nothing like the real thing...not even close. In fact, it doesn't taste anything like the real thing. I guess this is a good thing because our homemade salad is tasty and affordable and since it is such a different flavor we can still eat it at home without being disappointed that it's close but not close enough to the real thing.

The moral of the story is that we failed miserably to recreate this salad, but at the same time, we can still enjoy our homemade salad for two more years until we are again due for a visit to Cafe Rio!

Some food for thought: Here's a random blog with some copy-cat Cafe Rio recipes; here's a thorough restaurant review.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Letters from Anonymous

I've received two anonymous notes in the past week--one was from a neighbor about the placement of our bicycle and the other was directed to me as a member of the Relief Society presidency.

We've had our bicycle locked to one of the metal beams supporting our shared, covered carport. It is on the side next to another renter. Was it in the way? Was it an eyesore? Without giving the reason, we received a note on our bicycle saying "The homeowners would like me moved soon." I'd like to ask anonymous "Where do the homeowners suggest I store this bicycle?" We don't have a locking garage, we don't have a shed in the back yard, there isn't a community bike rack, and we don't exactly have a mud room. Is this request based on the season and the fact that the bicycle probably won't be ridden much until next spring? Is it based on the fact that it hasn't been ridden much in the past two months as evidenced by two flat tires? Am I allowed to resume parking my bike there next year? Or am I requested to remove it indefinitely? Was it decided in last month's HOA meeting that someone would put an anonymous note on the Fosdick's dirty bike? Or was this an individual with a strong opinion about bicycle storage? Am I going to be asked to move our garden hose next and then trim my bushes until our postage-stamp sized front yard resembles the entrance to Stepford? These are questions I'm interested in asking anonymous, and I'm willing to try to accommodate anonymous if I just knew who they were!

(Let me interject here that in my defense, the aluminum siding on the carport is dented and discolored and broken, generations of tenants have stored and abandonded bikes, basketball hoops and kid toys and scooters in the parking lot--there's a mini Jeep that has progressively turned from 1 piece, to two, and then the wheels came off and now it's in four--this is an ugly parking lot and moving our fairly decent bike did little to improve that. I don't see a note on all those trashed and abandoned objects!)

I'll spare you the details of the other letter, but am confused by the need to remain anonymous in both cases. Each person wanted something to happen, and I'm generally a fairly accommodating person when it comes to reasonable requests (Actually, the second person wanted me to bend over backwards and peel her grapes). But what if I don't have enough information? How am I supposed to know who to be seen by when I do my good deeds to society? Am I supposed to tremble in fear and paranoia because of not knowing who these people are? I better be on my best behavior in case its the next person I run into! What is the benefit of anonymity (I almost wrote animosity--coincidence?)? On the other hand, do they secretly want me to know who they are? Are they anticipating for me to analyze handwriting and compare it to outgoing mail? Or have the notes tested for fingerprints, envelopes for saliva, and the ink and paper chemically analyzed for where they were forged?

To be honest, neither letter really angered me, but I'm just baffled that people think they need to be anonymous when it comes to asking for something. Am I so intimidating that people are afraid to confront me? Do I have some mysterious reputation for biting off heads?

Next, lets consider the rules of anonymous note-writing. For example, "I love your haircut" is a nice note to get--I'd still want to know who it came from, but it wouldn't make me shifty-eyed. I think I'd leave an anonymous note to someone parked illegally if it presented a potential danger. I think if my neighbor played their music too loud, I would knock and politely ask them to turn it down. But leaving an angry anonymous note? I'm not sure there are many cases in which I would do that. What is the etiqutte? In what situations is it better to say something anonymously than to put your name on it? When would you leave an anonymous note?

I Voted!

Did you?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Terrible Twos--An Urgent Plea for Help

So I know Leah isn't quite two years old yet, but she has discovered how to be terrible. I've pulled out my hair all morning listening to her whining and keep wondering if I should choose my battles better. I need resources. I need to read 10 books and pick the parts I like of each to try. I've made a list of the topics I want my parent-help book to address: hitting, tantrums, whining, communicating effectively, picking battles, discipline, time-outs, weaning from a binky, the list goes on. And of course, I want to do it all in a loving way.

In the past 20 minutes, Leah, who had been happily playing with crayons and what's left of her coloring book, traded her canvas for the wall. Of course my rope ended hours ago, so I jumped up and scolded in my mean-mommy voice, removed the fistful of crayons from her clenched and fearful fingers and placed them on top of the refrigerator (she can't reach them but she can see them), ignoring the freely flowing tears and exaggerated pouty lip. Then I swiftly readied a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and handed it to her and walked with her to the wall where we scrubbed together. Chris, who was home for lunch, responded, "Oh, that's what you're supposed to do! I think I'm a softy..." He must not be immune to the pouty lip. Does this mean I'm great and terrible and hard? I asked him what he would have done if I hadn't been around and he replied, "I don't know, but now I do!"

This particular example is not exactly descriptive of her being terrible, just creative, but all things leading up to and following this ordeal have been, and now I'm the one that feels terrible. I did a google search for resources on dealing with the terrible twos, and although I did get a plethera of hits about two year olds (and some on how we should give two-year olds a break), I also found these dynamic duos:

I just thought these were funny. And I really needed funny today.

Anyway, if you have any resources you'd like to recommend for a mom who wants to nurture and help teach her two, who can't stand whining, and doesn't want to give in, please help!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Delicious Words

In "You've Got Mail" there's a really cute line where Kathleen Kelly describes why she likes reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. "I get lost in the language, words like 'Thither. Mischance. Felicity...'"

I'm in the process of reading the unabridged The Count of Monte Cristo and am finding it simply fantastic and indulging. It is so beatifully written and has such a descriptive vocabulary. I'm currently on page 263, which is only 17% through its over 1400 pages, but so far I've made a list of words that have made me smile as I came accross them--it's the concept of being able to use one perfectly appropriate word instead of using a complicating and less-descriptive combination of 2 or more words. Whats even more is that the author (Alexandre Dumas) uses these words, which are not obscure or obfuscating, in abstract ways and in exciting conjugations and contexts that provide an even richer meaning to the passage. I don't feel like I need to have a dictionary next to me while I read, and yet I find the writing so beautiful and rich. This is what it's like to read fantastic literature, and this is why it's a classic!

augury: an event that is experienced as indicating important things to come

physiognomy: the face or countenance, esp. when considered as an index to the character

sepulchral: suited to or suggestive of a grave or burial

munificence: liberality in bestowing gifts; extremely liberal and generous of spirit

misanthropy: hatred, dislike, or distrust of humankind

celerity: Swiftness of action or motion; speed

imeptuosity: rash impulsiveness

I'm sure I'll come across more fantastic words like these. I just wish I could keep reading all day!