Sunday, August 31, 2008

Butterfly Garden

We went to Seattle yesterday with some friends and hit up the Pacific Science Center--something we've been wanting to do for awhile because they have a butterfly exhibit that's "exquisite," as Fancy Nancy would say. You go into this garden jungle and walk amongst hundreds of butterflies of all sizes and colors. Maggie was on the hunt for an azure butterfly (once again, Fancy Nancy-inspired), and she found several. Magson was quite the magnet for the butterflies. When you leave the garden you have to go to this room and stand in front of a mirror to make sure there aren't any butterflies on you. Magson had one on him, which was exciting and cute, but no pictures of that, unfortunately. Anyway, the above butterfly was Magnet's favorite, and mine, too.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Dangerous Ride

Spirit fingers, pom-poms, and robotic chanting--you're thinking ditzy cheerleader, right? It's true, the word "cheerleader" conjures all sorts of images, often acutely airheady ones. But if you look past the stereotypes, you'll find a sport that can be thrilling, challenging and, dare I say, more dangerous than one might think.

As a flyer in college, it was certainly a dangerous ride for me. I remember standing in front of my base partner (often a muscular and athletic male). He'd put his hands on my hips and then with one energized jump on my part, he'd thrust me in the air and hold me with one hand while I stood on one foot in a flamingo pose. (Even I'll admit, sometimes the cheerleading stances are a little different.) But seriously. Is there anything safe about standing on one foot, 12 feet in the air, atop the palm of a hand--a singular hand?

Or what about when a handful of humans would fling me in the air in what cheerleaders call a "basket toss," but what I think would be more accurately termed as a possibly fatal canon blast, leaving the chance of me being uncaught--stunned and slapped against the gym floor. (That never actually happened, but it could have, and you've maybe gawked at a similar scenario...)

For me, there were other dangers aka wardrobe malfunctions. Like the time at practice when I was dropping full speed from a "canon blast," falling into the arms of my trusted catchers, when I was caught funny. My body was twisted and tangled in the mess of arms cradling me, and somehow my shirt caught and was stuck over my head, exposing my belly button and sports bra--an embarrassing several seconds as I tried to free myself from the puzzle and get my shirt down.

Definitely, there are things I don't love about cheerleading, but when I think back to some of the dangerous things I've done, flying in stunts comes to mind. With gymnastics, which is more dangerous than cheerleading in most ways, I only had to depend on myself and my judgment of my own capabilities, but so often in cheerleading I was depending on others, and that's, well, a dangerous ride.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In the Backyard, My Dream Backyard

You'll catch me daydreaming about many things, but what my dream backyard might look like hasn't stolen my imagination. Yet. The only thing I know at this precise moment about my dream backyard (at least this is how I think I feel about it) is that if it is perfect and dreamy, it will take little work and upkeep from me. That said, I will probably never have my dream backyard.

After a few minutes of pondering, I picture it being a secret garden of sorts, big enough to go exploring in but small enough to feel safe and enclosed in the comforts of nature. Rolly pollies and stampedes of aunts live there. Butterflies soar and garden snakes slither. You'll hear crickets chirp there at night.

In the dead center of this backyard is a tree with low branches that spread wide enough to look like a family geneology diagram. You'll find children of all ages monkeying and flipping and swinging and climbing that tree, all of them smiling. It is a tree filled to the brim with life.

It will be a place where memories are made, where sister pictures are taken, where back handsprings are flipped and duck-duck-goose is played. It will have a hill for log-rolling and grass stain contests, and a teepee to hide out in. I envision lots of family picnics and parties take place there, with all the accents--blankets, tablecloths, paper cups--hued in red.

In the back there will be a garden with all my favorite foods: strawberries and onions and tomatoes and grapes. A permanent grandpa resides in the garden, guiding small people through, helping them find the ripe ones.

Come to think of it, this dream backyard of mine isn't as plush as I initially thought it might be. At first, I thought it would have a swimming pool and a tennis court on the waterfront, but the more I contemplated and created this dreamy personal outdoor space, the quicker it became the favorite backyard of my childhood, my grandparents' backyard--the yard where some of my happiest backyard memories were made.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yet to Happen

All the things I want to accomplish, but that have yet to happen, have consumed my thoughts lately. I watch the Olympics and suddenly want to compete in them. I see a beautiful photograph, and I want to be a photographer. I watch the movie Music and Lyrics with cute Drew Barrymore, and I want to be a songwriter. I watch a dancer gracefully flit across a stage and I wish I would have been a dancer instead of a gymnast.

And then there are things that I'm surpised I take interest in, like cooking and baking, for example. I was the one in college who didn't know how to brown beef--the one who would stuff sticks of butter into measuring cups and get frustrated with the messiness of it all. I preferred to "make" cereal for breakfast, microwave quesadillas for lunch, and eat sandwiches for dinner rather than spice up my menu and learn how to cook. But now that I'm responsible for my family's menu, I've taken on the chore of cooking, and shockingly, I kind of enjoy it. Passionate about it? Nooo. Interested? Yes. So maybe on the road to accomplish my "yet to happen" list, I'll discover more things I'll want to make happen.

So, I'm not going to wish I had been a dancer instead of a gymnast because I loved gymnastics. It absolutely consumed me for a huge chunk of my growing-up years. And I'm not going to box myself into the role of stay-at-home mom who loves to read and write. Maybe I can't do it all, all at once, but I can do it all. I have a lifetime to learn new things, and if I run out of time, then I have the eternities.

So, here's a few things on my "yet to happen" list:

ballroom dancer
people photographer
lyrical dancer
cake decorator
interior designer
mom athlete
author
published
guitarist
song writer
magazine editor
business owner

Here's to becoming everything!

Monday, August 25, 2008

More Important, I love you.

Right now I'm helping Maggie put together a 24-piece Cinderella puzzle she got for her birthday, helping her for the fifth time. She just wants to do it over and over again, but with each time her patience is thinning and she's more inclined to cry when she can't fit the pieces together. I'm more inclined to cry, too.

I asked her, "Are you getting tired? Frustrated? Should we put it away?"

And then she responded with words beyond her years, "Yes, but more 'portant, I lub you." She sunk in her seat, tilted her head, and put a shy smile on, waiting for my response to what she even recognized as a brilliantly sweet thing to say, and ah! I responded by gobbling her in kisses and telling her that I lub her, too.

I don't play with her enough, and this tells me I need to sit down and work a puzzle with her over and over again for hours. It's more important than the dirty dishes because to her it says, "I love you."

The Morning After

I can't remember the last time I wrote a haiku--elementary school? You should try it. It was challenging, yet easy enough to punch out quickly.

The Morning After Not Brushing
Pasty, stinky taste
Roll out of bed, race for toothbrush
Never again forget

The Morning After Christmas
Three hundred sixty
More days of waiting, wishing
Next Christmas along

The Morning After Winning Gold
Relief; disbelief
Victory more valuable
Than medal you see

The Morning After Haircut
Hop in hot shower
Too much shampoo for baldy
What was I thinking?

The Morning After All-Nighter
Who? What? When? Where? Why?
Internal clock disgruntled
Back to slumbering

The Morning After the Move
Five-year house becomes
(post packing and collapsing)
Ten-year house, at least

On the Inside

Socially, I've spent most of my life on the inside. But I've never been the one standing in the dead center of a room with everyone miming me. (Thank goodness!) I've always been close enough to the rim of the room; close enough to peer through the window and notice those standing on the outside, often in the cold.

I notice those on the outside, say a kind word or two, smile at them, and befriend them from time to time, but I want to make a greater effort to reach out to those who've had the door slammed on them.

As an adult I don't see snobbishness and clicks like I did in high school. I wish I would have felt as strongly about this then. I wish in high school I would have grabbed outsiders by the hand and brought them inside, included them--all of them. Better yet, I can think of so many instances when I should have joined them, stepped outside. I should have stood alone for what I believed in more often, even if that meant leaving the room.

I look up to my little sister Emma in this respect. She is a leader, someone people flock to. Some actually do mime her, and it drives her crazy! She captures all eyes, all ears, and hearts of all ages. But she doesn't just stand there like statue, letting people worship her; she moves around, leaves the room and embraces those who are different than her. She loves all people, even those standing on the outside. (It helps that she's a hypersocial, as my mom defines it.)

I must remind myself that being on the inside isn't just a high school predicament. Everyone wants to belong, but sometimes we need to have the confidence and strength to leave the world and stand on the outside, alone. We need to remember that whatever our status or standing might be and no matter how many ways we're outsiders, we're all insider's in God's view. We're all inside His family.

Friday, August 22, 2008

All You Nursing Mothers...

Aren't you glad you're not a pig?? I sure am.

We went to the fair on Tuesday, and these pigs were by far the most interesting and fun thing to see. Maggie is still talking about the baby piggies.

I Picked Up a Hitchhiker

My dad always told me to never, never pick up a hitchhiker; he told me to lock my doors while driving, and to never ride a motorcycle, along with all the standard driving safety tips dad's give their daughters. Being the often-obedient and scaredy-cat girl I am when it comes to strangers and steering wheels, I've adhered to his advice.

But yesterday was different.

I was driving along the most scenic boulevard in our waterfront town, winding toward the water. As usual, I was listening to sappy love songs, feeling all swollen inside with gratitude for my husband and kids, when I was distracted from my daydreams by a figure I saw in the distance. Had my kids been in the car, I don't think I would have broken the don't-pick-up-a-hitchhiker rule, and I certainly wouldn't have picked up a man under any circumstance whatsoever, but it was an elderly man and for some reason most old men ring sweet and endearing with me, whereas old women so often seem cranky and irritable. A few seconds passed and I slowed as he came into clear view.

His head stooped down below his hunch back. His down-trodden gait communicated defeat and hopelessness, his thumb the last part of his body that was looking up, barely.

My grateful emotions liquified and escaped through my eyes. For the first time in my life I wanted to pick up a hitchhiker; I wanted to share some of the love I was feeling. I wanted to help this old man get where he was trying to go.

I pulled over about a half-mile after I'd driven passed and swung a U-turn. I rolled up beside him and said what I suspect most people who are picking up a hitchiker say--"Need a lift?"

The man slowly lifted his head toward me with a disturbing grin on his face. I was surprised to see that grin. His body language had been so sad. I expected him to tell me that his wife was dying and he couldn't afford the gas to get to her (because gas prices are so high, you know), and so I was going to take him to her so he could tell her he loved her that one last time.

But no. His face didn't say that. His grin was all wrong. His staggar and demeanor were suddenly a show and his slurred speech told me he'd been drinking. This "sad" old man went from helpless to dangerous upon eye contact.

The peaceful road I was driving, the road that was void of signs of the scary world we live in, and that music, that music that was making me feel so much love, was making me want to do something kind and samaratin-like, and I almost did. I wanted to, but when I saw that face, I just couldn't. I wish I could have because certainly he needed help--he certainly needed a lift.

So, scratch that title. I almost picked up a hitchhiker--in my imagination.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Parties in Review

The Family Party:
We had a family party for Maggie on Wednesday--her actual birthday. I was thanking my lucky stars that she requested pizza for her birthday dinner and all I had to do was dial up Papa Murphy. Aunt Muriel brought her famous layered salad, Grandma Gross brought a delish fruit salad and Aunt Julie brought pink icecream (another one of Maggie's requests) to go along with the "princess" cake I made her. If you haven't had cherry chocolate chunk ice cream, you need to. It was heavenly.
It was so great to have so many loved-ones there to wish her a happy day. Thanks to you all, for being so sweet to my girl!
And a few cute ones of Magson for fun:

The Friend Party (dun dun dun dunnnnn):

Last week was possibly the busiest week of my life as a mother. There was hardly time to breath, so when Saturday rolled around (the day of the friend party) I'd done little to prepare! Friday night was spent baking cupcakes and cake and trying to crunch the details. You should've seen Saturday's to-do list. I was so stumped as to what to do for party favors. I'm positive I made everything more difficult than it needed to be. Dead positive. Next year I'm going to be a new woman in the hostess arena. I'm so sorry to those of you who came to the party and noticed my frazzledness! It really will be better next year. I'm new at this birthday bash stuff.

I woke up early Saturday morning and made her princess crown cake and more cupcakes. We invited like 14 families to this thing. Maggie has been blessed with so many adorable friends! Then I left my disasterous kitchen and scrambled out the door to go to Costco to buy bananas and strawberries and some other things for the ice cream sundaes. After Costco, off to the dollar store I went, on the hunt for some party favors and water balloons.

I didn't find much worth buying at the dollar store, so I headed to Flowers to Go where I had one of the flower girls fill some birthday balloons with helium. Then and there I decided that I would tie goody bags to the bottoms of the balloons and have those be my party favors. Insert sigh of relief here, clocks still ticking...and off to Wal-mart I go, still on the hunt for some bleepin' water balloons. I have just over two hours until the party begins.

Sidenote: There was a heat advisory issued until 10pm that day and most of us Washingtonians don't have AC, so my stress plus the heat made me feel like I was on the verge of a fatal heart attack. Magson, who is normally quiet and content as can be, was crying constantly because he was just so uncomfortable. He hardly got a wink of sleep in the entire day. (PS--carrying around a crying baby in the heat, as stressed as I was, was not fun.)

The plan had been to have the party at the park, but it was just too hot and unshaded with no access to water for the sprinklers and water balloons that we wanted to do. Magnet looked into this minor detail (whether there was access to water at the park) while I was off shopping--certainly something we should have investigated long before the invitations were mailed, don't ya think?

Sooooo, when I got home about two hours before the party was to start, I looked at my wreck of a house and then at Magnet and asked, "Should we just have it here?" We unanimously agreed that our partly shaded yard and hose and sprinkler were enough reason to scramble and get the house clean and send the guests to our house instead.

I put Magnet on duty to fill water balloons. I cleaned and tried not to act on my scatterbrained impulses. Tried to calmly (breath in, breath out) do the rest of what needed to be done--make party favors, frost cupcakes, nurse Magson, get Maggie's hair done, find her swimsuit bottoms, clean, clean, clean...

Somewhere in there I realized I forgot to buy cups! Luckily, my sweet mother-in-law ran to the store for us. Eeek, I can't believe how unprepared I was! It's kind of embarrassing.

Alas, people came and the house was clean and everything that needed to be done by some miracle was completed. Maggie was so cute with her friends and I think people had a decent time. My heart races a little faster just thinking of what my self-inflicted stress did to me, but I also look back and feel like it was worth it because we were celebrating Maggie, my beautiful three-year-old!!

Oh, and our battery charger for our camera decided to malfunction that day, so I need to get pictures from Rise (pronounced Risa)...so, friend party pictures, COMING SOON.

And one more thing, thank you, thank you to all who did come and help us celebrate. It meant a lot to us and to Maggie. She was so happy having all her special friends at her house at the same time!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hostess Heart Attack--Help, Please!

There's only one thing I like about playing hostess, and that is how I am somehow capable of getting my house clean in triple speed. A task that normally takes me hours to finish, somehow can be done in one hour. Granted, I'm likely doing a sub par cleaning job, throwing things into a bedroom that won't be visited, but I'm still always amazed at how motivating the arrival of a few guests can be. Suddenly, I have superhuman cleaning powers.

And that's about all I like about playing hostess.

The rest stresses me out to the max. After hosting my daughter's third birthday party on Saturday, I'm sure I need to go back to school and get a BA in hosting because I'm convinced there are rules about not inviting fourteen families to your party, or a rule about not leaving all the shopping to the morning of the party, and there's got to be a rule somewhere about not changing the location of the party a few hours before it begins. Oh, and note to self: do not, I repeat, do not plan party without air conditioning on a day where a heat advisory has been issued. If you do, you're giving yourself a death wish.

On top of the self-inflicted stress, I am so clueless. How much time should pass before you offer cake and ice cream? Is it rude for the hostess to be in the kitchen serving treats and fussing over different technicalities, or should the hostess be mingling with the guests? And is there a way to gauge if the party was a success or not?

More questions:

Is there such thing as inviting too many people? I just didn't want anyone to feel left out, but maybe people would be grateful to not be invited, but I figure these people can always just not come. I've always thought it just better to invite. Am I wrong? Does anyone know of a mathematical equation where you input hour home's square footage and your allotted birthday budget and equate the maximum number of people you should invite? I could really use an equation like that.

What about having a mixed group? We just recently moved about thirty minutes from our old home and we invited old friends as well as new friends. Only one of the "old" friends showed, so they didn't know anyone.

How old should your child be before you don't have parents/families stay for their birthday party?

Finally, why, oh, why am I always inviting people over and planning little parties if I'm so clueless and enjoy it so little? Does anyone else feel a coming-of-age responsiblity as a good mom/wife/woman to host things??

Answers to these questions would really put my hostess heart at ease.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blog Brain Syndrome

The clock will strike twelve in 22 minutes--my new official bedtime (OR ELSE...)-- that is, if I decide to ignore my relentless blog devil who's ever tempting me to stay up for ten more minutes.

The old me used to go to bed at 10pm, no later. I would yearn for bedtime. I couldn't wait to get there. But all that's changed. Now I'm fighting it off as though it's this greusome thing I have to do every. single. day. To sleep--what a torturous waste of blog time!

If only I could stay awake all night long and read all my favorite blogs without any interruptions, and toy with my blog layout, and best-of-all, spit out all the blog post ideas that clutter my brain--my blog brain. Sadly, to bask in such luxury sounds more appealing than a vacation--almost. Thank goodness I'd rather go on our vacation to Hawaii next month than stay up all night long blogging. (I'm so relieved to honestly feel that way, otherwise I'd be admitting myself into the nearest Blogger Correctional Facility first thing in the morning--after my all-nighter in the blogosphere, of course.)

The information feeding into my new mind must go through a blog filter. Before it ever really settles into my brain I ask myself (somewhat subconsciously), "Does what I'm seeing/hearing/touching/feeling/smelling have the potential to be blogged about? If the answer is yes, then somehow my usual poor-memory-of-a-brain miraculously remembers it. If the answer is no, whatever it was goes into the garbage bin, forgotten.

And there you have the new me, 41 minutes past my midnight curfew, and finally signing off. Good night, dear blog. I'll see you in my dreams...

Maggie's Shopping List

And this is verbatim:

popcorn
cheerios
peaches
crayons
princesses
hair
chocolate chips
chocolate pie
dessert
popcorn
cheerios
pickles
cheese
popcicles

"I'm just hungry," she admitted when the list was complete.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Marie Claire

As far as discovering a kindred spirit goes, it happened in an instant for Claire and me. Silly things like both coming from families of nine, or how the combination of our names was the equivalent of the hip magazine Marie Claire, or how we both "type" our thoughts on our leg, are a handful of things that made our instant bond feel like magic. It was as though God, from his throne overlooking the universe, cared enough to carry me from Germany and her from Utah and plop us together in the same "ghetto" college apartment in Idaho.

God put us in the same furnished three-bedroom, six-girl apartment, but we had to fight to be "room roommates." By default we were paired with two different girls from Pocatello who we now remember fondly, but who then were making our first college apartment situation shy of a clickish perfection.

After a few hours of knowing each other we had a game plan. We would swap mattresses (yes, swapping sheets would have been much easier), moving my mattress around an impossible corner into Claire's room and her Pocatellan roommates' mattress back around that same impossible corner into my old room. No, we didn't have permission to touch their stuff or evict them from their first-come-first-serve chosen bedrooms; they were victims of our compromised etiquette for the higher good.

As "room roommates" we would stay up late at night writing in our journals, doodling in the margins the names of our future children. We'd stay up all night long memorizing lyrics to songs packed with words and making goofy tapes. We'd talk about our pasts and inspire one another with our ambitons of being better people than we'd ever been. Whenever we contrived a new inside joke we'd write it on a sign and hang it on our bedroom wall. Between our inside joke wallpaper, my disco ball, and her cool Beatles posters our room was the perfect abode.

She'd pretent (cough) to be me (cough) on the phone, playing sick for the guys I didn't have the heart to turn down for dates. Most guys we dated felt they were dating two people at once. They didn't complain because together we were funnier and happier and more spontaneous.

Years passed and guys came along--guys that were all wrong for us. We thought we wanted to marry these guys despite how they made us cry and tore at our friendship. Suddenly I felt like screaming at Claire, "How can you date him??! He's all wrong for you!" And she was heartbroken and hurt when I chose to spend my Christmas break in Germany with a boy that was all wrong for me instead of be the Maid of Honor in her wedding. That is one of my deepest regrets. I so desperately wish I would have been there. I should have been there.

But we learned from the bad guys and saw each other through some rough patches. We left the boys that were all wrong for us and found men that were just right for us. We've found new best friends in our husbands, but the magic of our friendship still thrives. We still have major coincidental similarities, my favorite one being that we both have three-year-old daughters and infant sons.

So meet Claire, a petite blonde Irish-American girl with a stunning smile. She's a worrier who eats slower than a turtle; she's a phenomenal pianist who is the best bargain shopper I know. She's smart and hard-working and absolutely lovable and endearing.

I hope you all have a number-one girlfriend like Claire in your life.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chop Chore

Yes, cutting Magnet's hair is definitely a chore. At first I thought it would be fun, and so did he...uh, not so much.

It didn't begin as a chore; it began when we were dating for the second time around (and that's a whole 'nother story) and he decided that I was perfectly capable of cutting his hair--his thick, cowlick crazy hair. "Sure," I responded. "If you really want me to." He takes off his shirt, I run my fingers through his hair so beautiful that it shouldn't be wasted on a man--what's not to love?

It was all chipper with me and the shaver, shaving away. There's not a whole lot that can go wrong with the #2 guard on. But then came the time for me to touch up his neckline. I must've been daydreaming about the variety of sure-to-come headlines about me, the natural hair-shaving prodigy, for a few seconds too long because when he gave me the razor minus guard back, I took it just below his earlobe and dragged it down his neck.

I somehow missed or misunderstood his very specific instructions. A nervous giggle erupted as I wondered if we'd still be engaged when he found a mirror because with the downstroke of my razor wand I took every last evidence of his hair with me. "Uh-ohs" went off like sirens in my frantic mind because my trail left his skin softer than a baby's bum.

We simply couldn't leave a zebra stripe on the back of his head and so he told me to just make it even. I did the best I could to correct the problem and meticulously made his neckline at least two inches higher than it should've been--an earline might be an appropriate term. Oops. My bad. I figure it wasn't so bad; it ignited laughter in me and my roommates every time we saw him. Plus, the fact that this infamous haircutting stint (and the handful of times I accidently rammed his Ford Taurus into things) didn't result in anger smoking from his ears were sure signs of his undying love. A girl needs experiences like these to know that Mr. Right is Mr. Right.

He must really love me (or really love saving money--hmmm...) because here I am his wife of four years and I'm off to cut his hair for maybe the eighth time in our marriage--it's a recent development, me cutting his hair, which is completely understandable. I'd certainly be truamatized if he did anything remotely similar to what I did to him. But the funny thing is, I've improved leaps and bounds and yet he's a little pickier now and expects it to take less than two hours. Whatev. Maybe I'll surprise him with some zebra stripes tonight to take the chore out of the chop and ignite some more contagious laughter.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Roommie Reunion

Last summer Magnet and I went to a roommate reunion of sorts with a lot of his buddies from BYU-Idaho, and I was flabbergasted that a bunch of guys put on a reunion. I thought if the males could do something like that, I certainly could. So, I planned a little BYU-I reunion with some of my favorite girlfriends. I love these girls. Thanks for such a fun weekend you hot mommas! (We missed you Shauna!)
My beautiful friends: Jamie, Amanda, Amy, Claire, and Me
Us hanging out at Amy's neighborhood Rec Center

My #1 GF, Claire--isn't she gorgeous!?

Us with all the babes...who woulda thought the five of us would have six babies?
Me and Jamie Jo with our big babies
Addy and Maggie--BFF (People kept asking if these two were twins.)

Magson and Carter--BFF, haha

Maggie was lovin' on all the boys


Claire's husband and Magnet--BFF :)

Maggie lovin' the sun and park

Magson stuck in the Bumbo

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