Monday, December 31, 2007

Sniff...

My brother's girlfriend is about to get on a plane and fly back to my mother ship. I am jealous of her in a mighty way.

Oh California, how I miss your 67 degree mornings. But, it's awesome here, too. Tonight, the low is 4. As in F-O-U-R. That's right. Work it, Tundra. Work it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

these are a few of my favorite things...

Of all my Christmas presents, this one could be my favorite. Yep. That's a blanket sleeper. I've been trying on blanket sleepers for, um, years. I've wriggled my way into girls size 16--too tight in the arms and legs and too short. I've tried on boys size 16--t00 short in the torso. I think I've even tried on husky boys to no avail. So this year, when I made my Christmas list, I searched the Internet for adult blanket sleepers and I found the wonder that was http://www.bigfeetpjs.com/ and I rejoiced. My husband thinks I'm silly despite the fact that he purchased the footed negligee himself, though he made my seventeen month-old son give me the desired jammies. My mother and brother's girlfriend, Heather, refuse to admit that they want a pair and, instead, hide their jealousy with smirking and/or eye rolling. My father and brother are quite seriously appalled and think that ridicule is beneficial. But in any case, I was warm tonight while we played a rousing game of Imaginiff. For this pastor's wife, hot cocoa, Imaginiff and adult sized blanket sleepers equal martinis and strip poker. And really, I'm okay with that. I mean, who really wants to play strip poker--especially, um, with her brother and father?

The husband also got me, among other things, a framed picture of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. He wanted to get me a taste of San Diego. This picture now hangs on the wall in front of my bed. When I wake up I stare at the photo and feel, just for a moment, like I am home. Or, at least, I would, if I weren't blind as bat when I first wake up in the morning. So, once I wipe the drool from my cheek, sit up, and pop in my actual eyes, I gaze upon the joy of that slice of San Diego. If I listened to some seascape CD it would be kind of like having ocean front property. We opened presents tonight with my side of the family and my brother got me a drawing of the very same lighthouse. So not only have we proven that great minds think alike, we have also proven that I like lighthouses, I like the Point Loma Lighthouse, specifically, and now I can pretend to be in San Diego in at least two of my rooms. At least I can snuggle in my fuzzy footed jams while I dream about America's finest city.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas morning

Christmas morning is a funny sort of thing when you have a toddler. Garrett decided that his favorite gift of the day was a candle that arrived via my own stocking. He carried it around as though it was his most prized possession. Don't get me wrong, he loved most of his gifts, he just didn't love them quite as much as he loved my candle.

This year was humorous. He liked to open one present and play with it for fifteen minutes before we finally coaxed him into opening another one. I think that next year we will officially enter the "rip/tear" phase that comes with two-year-oldness.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

christmas letter

The following is our Christmas letter. As one of my six loyal readers, you probably know most of this already but please enjoy my year in review...

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas! May the joy and peace of this season be upon you. It’s true that there have been times when we have looked back over the course of a year and seen few changes. We assure you that for us, this has not been one of those years. Twelve months ago we were enjoying a typical, warm, San Diego Christmas with our cuddly and immobile infant. This year we are trying to write a Christmas letter from chilly Salt Lake City, but our toddler keeps reaching for the keyboard or demanding more milk or pushing that pretty button that turns off the computer or running away with the Christmas decorations. No, we did not decide to take a snowy holiday vacation this year. We live here. We know what you’re thinking. Who in their sane minds would trade San Diego for Salt Lake City, right?

To make an incredibly long and prayerful journey short, Troy’s father retired from fulltime ministry at OUR OLD CHURCH in April and the elder board encouraged the remaining staff members to explore other ministry options. Through a church consultant, Troy’s resume was sent to several churches. Over the course of several months, interviews, discussions and prayers, Troy eventually accepted the Senior Pastor position at OUR NEW CHURCH in PART OF, Utah. Just after Thanksgiving we packed up our lives and drove the 750 miles to our new home. During the past few years, Troy has really enjoyed preaching and is looking forward to being in the pulpit every Sunday. His new position will be challenging, but the congregation has been so loving and welcoming and Troy looks forward to leading them and being a light in a land that so desperately needs to hear the truth.

Lori profoundly enjoyed teaching drama at Mountain Valley Academy during the past year. She really loved seeing her vision come to fruition during the productions. However, summer came and she was able to spend three months as a stay-at-home mom. The experience of getting to be with Garrett every minute of the day was tremendous and she’s happy to announce that with Troy’s promotion came her own. She is now a fulltime stay-at-home mom. Although, being a Senior Pastor’s wife and partaking in her own ministerial endeavors will certainly take a great deal of time.

Garrett celebrated his first birthday in July and is enjoying every minute of being a toddler. He walks. He runs. He drops the basketball through the hoop. He plays with everything that even resembles a car—complete with engine noises. And one of these days, we’re sure that he will start talking. His current language involves grunting, squealing, babbling and pointing. He understands enough to obey most commands but can’t exactly hold a conversation. We had quite a year with him and all of his capers, including but not limited to, splitting his head open—blood, blood everywhere—and having a whopper of a dirty diaper on an airplane—poop, poop everywhere. Speaking of airplanes, Garrett has become an avid flyer. In his sixteen months of life he has flown seven times, to Oregon twice (to visit Troy’s family), Sacramento once (for a wedding Lori was in), Utah three times (to visit the church and then to move here) and Hawaii.

Yes, in September we were blessed with the opportunity to vacation on Oahu and Kauai with Lori’s parents. We had a wonderful time visiting Pearl Harbor, swimming, snorkeling, sightseeing, ziplining, hiking, kayaking, tubing down the canals of the former Lihue Plantation, and spending time together. Garrett absolutely loved it and, when the ten days were over, no one was quite ready to leave. In fact, if it were an option, we’d still be there, relaxing by the white sand pool and lounging in the tropical sun. The memories are a far cry from our new life in what Lori refers to as “the tundra.” In addition to our trip to Hawaii, we spent a week at Campus by the Sea, Catalina, where Troy was the speaker, and took a beach camping trip.

Beck and Oliver, plus Evie, a somewhat tamed feral cat that we’ve been feeding for a few years, made the move with us. Currently, the cats are living in the basement of our beautiful rental (anyone want to buy a home in Ramona?) and the dog is still deciding whether he’s a fan of the snow. He loves to play in it but he doesn’t seem to be thrilled with the outside temperatures or the amount of time he now spends inside.

We encourage you, as always, to remember that our Savior’s birth is the real reason for this holiday. May the wonder of that first Christmas fill your lives. God Bless!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Magic and Miracle

Last night I was reading this post over at Rocks In My Dryer. If you've never read Shannon's blog, I encourage you to start, but do it with caution because you'll never turn back. Anyway, reading that wonderful post coupled with watching The Nativity Story with my husband really got me thinking about my own feelings on Christmas. I could never write about my experiences or my thoughts with the grace and poignancy that "Rocks" does but somehow felt the need to discuss, nonetheless.

I've never had a white Christmas before. It's alright with me because Jesus probably didn't either. While snow isn't unheard of in Bethlehem, it's not common, even in the dead of winter. And, in all probability, the Savior was born between May and September, the months during which the great census was taken that brought Joseph and a very pregnant Mary to Bethlehem to begin with. This lack of snow was never a problem, Christmas was, in a word, magic.

I remember Santa Claus. I remember because one Christmas I laid awake for hours with the extreme need to pee. I knew that if I got up I would do so at the precise moment that Santa was leaving me gifts. I also knew that if I saw Santa he would take away all my presents. Where I got this idea that Mr. Claus was a mean-spirited present deliverer I'll never know. But I finally couldn't take it anymore. I flew to the bathroom and back. Santa didn't catch me and I had presents in the morning. I remember the calendar my mom hung in the hallway. Each day a little bear climbed all around that calendar looking for Christmas in every room of his house. On the 25th he finally found it. My brother and I had to take turns moving the bear or else a bloodbath was sure to ensue. I remember that childhood magic because it was almost tangible. It was inside the Christmas decorations. It was in the quiet whisper of the music. It flickered in the flame of each advent candle.

We had Santa. We had stockings and cookies and presents. And we had Jesus. I would stare at my mom's beautiful nativity--the one I would accidentally but carelessly break as a preteen in what stands as the greatest Christmas travesty of my life--and look at each of the pieces, wondering about their role in that most holy of nights. What must those shepherds have thought when the glory of the Lord shone around them? What did Joseph say when the son of God was placed into his arms for the first time? When did the wise men get there? How must Mary have felt as she knelt by the manger?

We still have Santa and stockings and cookies and presents. And, oh, do we have Jesus. It's just that I look at the nativity in a much different way now. I've been to Bethlehem. I've seen the caves that were used to shelter the animals. Not surprisingly, they look a great deal like a tomb. They were dirty. The shepherds, who came to see glory for themselves were, in all probability, filthy. The animals, I'm sure, weren't fresh and clean. Yet this is where the Father sent his Son. From the highest of high to the lowest of low. And I no longer think of Mary as she knelt honorably beside her son. I don't really believe it happened the way we see it in a nativity. I think Mary was the dirtiest of them all. I think she was exhausted. I think she was irritated that there were cattle and sheep in the vicinity, much less the same darn cave as her tiny baby. So, sometimes, when I am setting up my nativity, I want to lay Mary down in the corner. I want her to be overwhelmed by the situation. I want her to cry. I want Joseph to tell her that everything is going to be okay. I want the wise men on the other side of the room because they didn't come right away. It took them longer, like the process by which some of us come to know the Savior that they sought. I want the baby to stare, with wide eyes at his mama, perhaps knowing that he would one day deliver her.

More than snow, which I may have for the first time this year, more than Santa and more than presents, I want to feel the magic and the miracle of that first Christmas. And my breath catches in my throat if I think about what it must have been like for Mary to feel the son of God moving inside of her womb. My own son, fallen and fallible, was miracle enough to overwhelm me. I wonder at that first moment when they locked eyes. Was it as mother and son or as mother and Savior? Did he look more like her or did he personify the Creator of the Universe? Did she swell with pride or did her heart break when she looked upon God's holy and almighty face?

Regardless of how I want to display my nativity, what doesn't change is that born in a barn, the centerpiece of perceived scandal, surrounded by filth, sharing his birthday with shepherds and livestock then and disbelievers and Santa Claus now, cooing softly in a feeding trough was the wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Cake Party


So, in addition to our Christmas ornament and canister of hot cocoa that we got from two of our neighbors, we have also received a snowman notepad to make "making our list and checking it twice" a little easier, a 2 liter bottle of root beer from our neighbors who were "rootin' for a Merry Christmas" and a box of Holiday Cake Party.

Holiday Cake Party came complete with two Christmas Tree tins, cake mix, frosting mix, paintbrushes and two edible dye pallets. I wasn't sure that allowing a 16 month-old to express his artistic side was the best idea but I'm also not really one to shy away from an adventure.

So we began.

I'm not entirely sure how he knew that fun was about to be had, but boy did he. We, er, that is, I, baked and Garrett attempted several times to fry his little hands on the oven. Then the cakes cooled and I whipped up the frosting. And I figured I could guess on how much water to add to the little packet. This would be the part where I figured wrong and had frosting soup. Never fear, I had a little leftover frosting in my fridge so I added it in. And you thought the Holiday Cake Party had been foiled.

Now, when it came time to decorate, I began by helping my little baker. I held his hand and we dipped the paintbrush in the water. Then we swirled it around the pallet. Then we lightly brushed a little color onto our Christmas tree cake. Dip, swirl, repeat. Dip, swirl, repeat. Garrett was having quite the time, grinning from ear to ear as he watched bright lines appear on the white frosting. I decided that he could try it on his own...


Let's just say that the fine art of being delicate is not something in the boy's repertoire. He took that paintbrush and shoved it artistically into the gut of that poor, unsuspecting tree. Then, he quickly put the brush into the water, like I had showed him, swirled the pallet, and stabbed the tree again. Our water quickly had chunks of chocolate cake floating in it and the tree was beyond even surgical repair.

Quite suddenly, Garrett realized that he could use the paintbrush as a fork. He would stab the cake and then quickly shove the paintbrush into his mouth, gobbling at least two crumbs in the process. He never reached in with his fists, he just kept munching on his precious cake, two crumbs at a time.



In case you need a glimpse of the finished product, I have included a picture below. It is so gorgeous, so beautiful, in fact, that I am sure you will want to book him for your next function. Weddings, birthday parties, retirement parties, Garrett can do it all, as long as you don't mind giant holes ripped in to the middle of your cakes and a little bit of baby saliva. Here is the prototype that he will use to decorate your requests...


But oh how he had fun!!!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sleepy Creek Circle

It's weird here. Being that the sun rises from the East and all, it stays dark longer in the morning. See, to the East we have these giant mountains and it must take awhile for the sun to peek over the top of them and bathe the valley in good morning cheer. It must be for this reason that my new world seems just a little more sleepy than my old one.

On Saturday we bundled up the boy, stuck him in his red wagon, and went about delivering our neighborly Christmas gifts. We started at the house to the left. Their garage door was open but no one answered, so we left the tin of candy on their step.

We headed to the next door. Success. An open door. A friendly introduction.

We headed to the next house. We were greeted by fully clothed adults, though, their college aged daughter walked by, mortified, in pajamas. After being invited in, we talked for about ten minutes before we decided to get on with our deliveries.

As we approached the fourth house we found that the entire family was still in pajamas. They invited us in anyway. And they were very, very nice.

After leaving house number four, we crossed the street. Kids answered the door. "Thanks, our parents are asleep. Merry Christmas!" By this point we were starting to look at each other suspiciously. Apparently, we didn't get the notice that we moved onto Sleepy Creek Circle.

At house number six we heard a little boy scream, "Dad! There's people at the door and I don't know them!" After a minute of waiting we were about to leave the tin when the door opened. You guessed it. Dad was in pajamas. And he informed us that his wife was still sleeping. Awesome. Merry Christmas.

The door of house number seven opened promptly and the people inside were actually wearing clothes.

House number eight. Kid in pajamas.

Now, I am all for wearing pajamas, I like to put mine on around five in the afternoon, if we're getting technical. I'm all for sleeping in, if your kids will let you. Mine won't. And it's not like I called first and announced that we were coming. But I was starting to question my own sanity. Maybe we tried to do all of it a little too early. I just, well, I don't know. Call me crazy but, I thought that 10:30 in the morning was late enough. Next Christmas I'll wait until noon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The One Where I Try to be A Homemaker

It has been said that love makes a house a home. I have no idea who it was, actually, who said this, but it's a darn good thing she did. Yes, it had to have been a she. A she who tried desperately to use Windex and paper towels to make a home. A she who watched her toddler come along behind her and undo everything she had just tried to do. A she who finally declared, when her little destroyer grinned, climbed into her lap, and gave her a giant open mouthed kiss, that indeed it is love that makes a house a home.

Today I decided that, since I am officially a homemaker, I would get out a pencil with a new eraser, the Goo Gone, and the Pinesol and try to remove the pencil marks that were left here by a previous tenant. Turns out that the entire door of our guest room was covered in some child's creative memories. I erased. I goo goned. I Pinsoled. And Garrett stood and watched. Occasionally he took his precious chubby hands and rubbed the door. He's such a little helper like that. I turned my back to dig around in the cleaning caddy. Of course I heard the noise. Heard it, in fact, continuing for quite some time as I rummaged around. The problem was that it just didn't register. As I turned around I put an image to the sound. My little tiny offspring was making his own creative memories all over the door that I had just cleaned. I couldn't blame the guy. I mean, I had just been wiggling that bright yellow pencil all over that door. I can't really expect a sixteen-month-old to understand the difference between the eraser side and the lead side. So back to work I went with the eraser and the Goo Gone and the Pinesol to try to remove the pencil marks that were left here by the current tenants.

Later, I decided that the central vac really is a good feature and I needed to conquer it. I could pull the brief lesson my father gave me concerning it's functionality out of the deep recesses of my brain. And even if I couldn't quite remember the exact way he explained it, I could probably figure it out on my own. I'm a fairly intelligent human being. I have a college education. As I slowly started unwinding the tube I could not figure out why my son was shrieking and hiding in the corner and sobbing crocodile tears. I would have understood if I was running the vacuum because he's always been a little apprehensive of the noise it makes. But the thing wasn't even on. Finally I realized that, well, the thing looks like a giant anaconda. Apparently, my son has an irrational fear of snakes.

He tried to use the less than sterile toilet brush to comb his hair.

He spilled a full bowl of doggie water all over the floor. This is an almost daily occurrence. Usually, however, the bowl is near empty when he remembers to dump it out.

I organized his books on his bookcase. He followed along behind me and pulled them off.

I am not calling myself a homemaker ever again (not that I think I have ever before). I am a stay-at-home mom. I have time to clean but the boy uncleans everything. If you come over, my house will probably not be tidy. There will be a truck in the middle of the floor because no matter how many times I put it away, it just seems to materialize at the foot of the stairs. There will be craisins smashed on the high chair tray. There will not be vacuum marks on the carpet and it will not pass the white glove test. My son will probably have stains on his shirt but, generally, he'll be smiling. He doesn't care if there are vacuum marks. He's even fine with a layer of dust. I try. I just don't succeed. I'm busy trying to raise a toddler and it's a good thing that love makes a house a home.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cicles

The neighborhood we moved from was busy. We only knew the names of a few of our neighbors and we did not exchange any kind of Christmas gifts with them. This Utah business is quite different. We live on a street with eight other homes. So far, we've gotten gifts from two of them (a container of hot cocoa from one and a Christmas ornament from the other) and had conversation with four. I thought it would probably be a good idea to get gifts, so I don't look like the resident Scrooge of the cul-de-sac. However, money does not abound in chez de Doozleberry. So I did this...

Christmas tins filled with Hershey kisses, peppermints and Crunch bells. I purchased the tins at Hobby Lobby for approximately 75 cents (they stand about 6 inches tall). Each container is filled with about a dollar's worth of candy. Cheap. Easy. Hopefully acceptable.

In snow news, I bundled the boy up again and we ventured into the frozen abyss of the backyard. Growing out of our eaves is a giant icicle, much too high for me to reach. However, this prompted me to pick up my plump little snow cherub and clomp into the front yard. All the icicles were still too high for me to reach so I chucked a stick at one. Down it fell into the powdery flakes. Now, in my family, the story of me and the "cicles" was told almost as often as the story of me reading a book to my aunt and uncle whilst they took a bath together on a ski trip. They were newlyweds. I was two. Or maybe three. It's not like I knew that bath time could be used for something other than getting clean. Nevertheless the story gets told over and over and over. But anyway, this is not about reading to my naked family members. Which, by the way, I don't remember happening so it must not have. It's a story about the "cicles." Apparently, whenever we went to the snow, I was obsessed with eating icicles. I guess I made my dad bring me repeated frozen water daggers for my happy consumption. And I think what made the story somewhat humorous was the way that I would almost moan the word as I asked for a "cicle, daddy?" I don't recall being young enough to refer to them as cicles, but I do remember loving icicles well into my elementary school years. Garrett doesn't know what a cicle is. Or, at least, he didn't. Until today, that is. But, if we're gonna have to live in what might just be a tundra, we might as well make the best of it. We might as well have snowball fights. We might as well make snow angels. We might as well eat cicles.


Here we have the boy sitting in front of his snow cave (still out there, Dad) sucking on his delicious icicle. (Mom, I had to take his good gloves off for the picture because he couldn't hold it) Oh man did he like it. He liked it so much that when I asked for a lick he turned away possessively. Of course, when the dog started eating it from the other end, Garrett was more than willing to share with him.
On the Christmas front, we have Christmas lights up, they just don't turn on. Our outlets outside aren't working. Today, a maintenance man was over for an hour and couldn't figure out why. He has to come back tomorrow. In the meantime, I have to unorganize our entire garage looking for the one switch that just might fix it. If you know me you know that unorganizing things just isn't my idea of fun. Joy to the world. And tralalalala.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Nursery Is Gone

While I wouldn't be so stupid as to say that it won't happen, I'm not really homesick yet. I have an occasional wave of homenauseousness but so far I haven't had to put my head in the toilet. The weird part, the part that assures me that I am, indeed, a head case in need of therapy, is that the mere thought of one thing in particular makes an automatic lump form in my throat. I miss my son's room terribly. My sister-in-law (who will be temporarily renting our house) asked Troy if she could paint it. Troy said he would have to think about it. That was the last I heard on the subject until Troy informed me that he told her she could paint it but not to tell us. My mom didn't get the memo that it was a big secret and brought it up on the phone. I'm not mad at Troy for telling his sister she could paint it. I'm not mad at my sister-in-law for painting it. I'm certainly not mad at my mom for telling me what I already knew. It's just that for some reason, even with him and all of his stuff moving to Utah, it still felt like his room as long as it was blue. I sometimes feel like the worst mom for making him move. I know he's a toddler. I know he won't remember. I think that almost makes it worse. He won't remember that every Sunday after church he made my dad take him to the playground. He won't remember how he would take himself out in the backyard to play with the dog. He won't remember his blue room. The last few days have been difficult for him. When it's time for me to put him to bed, he clings to me and cries. I want, more than anything, to pull him close and let him sleep with me. I also know that I am not going to undo all of the hard work Troy and I have put in to not having a baby/toddler/six-year-old who sleeps with us. So, though my head isn't in the toilet yet, I have the occasional moment where all I want to do is transport myself back to early November. I want to sit in the glider in my baby's room and rock him. I want to have one more minute with the blue nursery.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Now, If Only I Had A Matching Kermit

Today we got our Christmas tree. We purchased it from outside of a grocery store. I'm trying not to be depressed by that fact. Apparently, Christmas trees aren't a high priority here in the Beehive state. But this isn't a post about how depressed I am at not frequenting a local cut-your-own tree farm. It's not a blog about how we tried to crop the store logo out of the pictures so that we can lie to Garrett and he'll never find out that the year he moved was also the year his mother stooped to an all-time Christmas tree low. It's a post about decorating the store bought pine.

It's a post about hanging the ceremonial first ornament.

Ms. Piggy is her name. Protecting the back of the tree, the one against the wall, is her game. I don't have a clue when Ms. Piggy came into my life. I don't remember a Christmas without her. I do remember the Christmas that she almost left my life forever. She was wrapped up as a white elephant gift for a party my parents were attending. I had given the okay for my parents to give her away, after all, she's the most hideous Christmas ornament ever. She's, um, supposed to be some kind of piggy angel. She has a piece of pipe cleaner shaped like a halo hanging over her hair. She has wings made out of paper and trimmed with glitter sticking out of her head. Yes, her head. Piggy has no body. Just a big ole annoying head. And a snout. And gigantic blue eyes. And a pearl necklace. So anyway, my parents took her as a white elephant gift. Then they brought her home. After the exchange had begun, my dad had second thoughts, the pig had been residing on the back (and probably sometimes the front) of our tree for years. He decided I wasn't ready to part with my pig. I think truthfully, he was maybe not ready to let her go to what would have surely been the trash can. Home she came. And when I got married she moved from my parents house to my own. And when I moved to Utah, Ms. Piggy moved to Utah. I'm not about to get rid of her now. She's practically family. She might always have to stare at the wall but at least she gets to be on the tree. For the last four years, since Troy and I were married, she has been the first ornament hung. Shoved in the corner, about eye level, she smiles, with a bit of her tongue showing under her over sized snout.
Here is my Christmas tree. (It has lights, they just aren't on). No, we do not always have a gate around our slaughtered pine, but this year we have an extremely destructive toddler. Thanks, Aunt Vicki, for letting us move with your fence! I assure you that if I were to increase the size, you would not be able to see Ms. Piggy from this angle.
In order to actually witness the atrocity of Kermit's girlfriend, you would have to press your body up against the wall and peer into the back of the tree. You might even have to move some branches. If you did that, if you wanted, in the worst way, to see what she looked like, this just might be what you would uncover...



Now, I ask you, is she not the most hideous Christmas ornament you have ever, ever, ever seen? But I can't get rid of her. Like I said before, she's practically family. She's like my weird, bodiless, paper winged, huge nosed sister. And you just don't throw away your sister.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

National Football League

I have an obsession with the National Football League and the Chargers, in particular. I'm not even kidding that, where football is concerned, I think I am gender confused. I'm one of those people who used to literally scream at her television screen when a call, whether right or wrong, went against my team. I used to jump up and yell, "Go! Go! Go!" when my running back broke free or my special teams got into a position to run it back. I had to stop yelling when, during the 2006 football season, I had a very small and often sleeping baby. Now I raise my arm silently in the air when something good starts to happen. I'm not sure that very many girls know that a Hines Ward is a person or what an illegal block in the back looks like. Few females understand the difference between a running, quarter, full and half back. I think my husband is thrilled that I am not one of these women. Today, we saw a friend from Ramona who lives out in Salt Lake now and, after she came to our church, we went to lunch. My thoughtful husband asked where we could go and still be able to see the game. Not kidding. I'm that obsessed. I realize that most people aren't.

So, in light of this new information that I have bestowed upon you, I'd like to take a second to discuss how annoyed I am with the New England Patriots. I used to rather like them. In fact, in past years I would never, ever, have cheered for the Steelers to beat them. Because I have a deep and personal loathing directed toward terrible towels. But right now, I am sitting in my family room, running up my utility bill with my gas fireplace, watching the 12-0 Patriots play the Steelers. If my Chargers were 12-0 you can bet I'd want them to have an undefeated season, but every fiber in my body wants the New England Pretty Boys er, I mean Patriots, to lose. I have a thick disgust for Randy Moss and the way he starts laughing in his picture when they show the starting offensive lineup. And, for some reason that has something to do with him dumping his pregnant girlfriend, I have an even deeper disgust for Tom Brady. I also think this might be related to the fact that he knows he is talented and beautiful and fails miserably at pretending that he doesn't know he is talented and beautiful. So, Big Ben, please figure out a way to get some more points on the board. I can't handle the Patriots being undefeated.

I also can't handle people who are fans of teams because they are good. If you stick with a team even when they stink, more power to you. Heaven knows I was a Charger fan back in the 1-15 season. But if you jump on a fanwagon just because a team is somehow stacked, just know that you make me kind of ill. That's all.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Wal-Mart

By a show of hands, who has a super Wal-Mart in town? For those of you who do not, be glad. Be very, very glad. Rejoice in the absence of such a place. I have lived my whole life without a Wal-Mart Supercenter. And now I have one. And it is sad indeed. I have only lived here a mere ten and a half days and I have already learned several rules about the superstore.

Rule #1: Visiting the Wal-Mart Supercenter is a two hour project. At least. It takes an hour to walk from one end to the other, another hour if you are actually trying to accomplish some sort of shopping.

Rule #2: Wal-Mart Supercenter swallows you. I first noticed this phenomenon when my mom and I went shopping last week. We left a sleeping Garrett with his daddy. I informed my husband that I would be home shortly after the boy woke up. Several hours later, Wal-Mart finally released me from its death grip and I was able to return home. By the way, it was nearing dinnertime when I finally entered my house. This phenomenon was further explored today when my husband decided to go Christmas shopping. He just called and informed me that he still had a few more stops. Where had he been since he left hours ago? Yes. That's right. Super Wal-Mart.

Rule #3: Sure, you can feel bad for all the Mom and Pop shops out there. Sure, it's really sad that Wal-Mart is putting them all out of business. Yes, indeed, Wal-Mart just might be the store of the anti-Christ but when you can walk into a building and buy boxes of cereal for under two dollars and a kitty condo and several of your husband's Christmas presents and bananas, why wouldn't you? Exactly.

Rule #4: You can't go into a Wal-Mart Supercenter without buying something. I dare you to try. This is where the possession of such a store becomes not only a problem but a giant financial burden. I suppose there is a sliver lining, however. If I spend too much money and lose my house, I could probably move my husband, menagerie of animals, and very loud toddler into the building and no one would know we were even there. And it's got everything I think we could ever need, and then some.

Oh Wal-Mart Supercenter, what have you done to my life?

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Silent Stalker

Alright, I have concluded that I have an irrational fear of the snow. Don't worry, this doesn't really effect my life. It's much like the way I have an irrational fear of changing the clocks (boo for it getting dark at 4:45) and Wendy's hamburgers (a burger is just not supposed to be square!) But here's the thing about snow, it is eerily silent. It doesn't bother me when I'm out watching my son play in it. It doesn't bother me when I look outside during the afternoon and see it falling. It scares the crud outta me when it's dark and I open the door to let my dog in and he's covered in it. And I know it's going to take some getting used to. I lived 26 years in a land where snow just does not come down so it's not like I'm expecting to see it when I turn the doorknob. Tonight, though, I actually felt that initial panic of, "Oh sweet chicken, what has my dog gotten in to?" This feeling was quickly replaced by, "Oh my gosh, it's snowing and I had no clue that was happening and why didn't I get the memo and maybe Mother Nature should ask me first and how is it so disturbingly stealth?" I just, I feel all unsettled inside. You know on those suspense films where you see the SWAT team surrounding a house and the guys are running up to the windows with their guns but they aren't making any noise and then all the sudden BAM they kick in the door and all pandemonium breaks loose? (Dad, is that really how it's done?) Well. Snow is just like that. Except it doesn't carry a gun. And it rarely, actually, kicks down your door. It clandestinely covers your dog so that you momentarily think some white mutt has hidden your precious retriever. And, quite frankly, I don't know which is worse. It's been hours since my dog entered the house covered in secretive flakes. I'm afraid to look outside. My entire yard has probably been baptised with that which shall henceforth remain unnamed. You want me to look, don't you. Well, alright, I will. I'll face my fear.

OH MY GOSH! It's everywhere! Seriously. I feel so twisty and unsettled inside. Southern California, how I miss you and your lack of surreptitious weather.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The House

I have a gas fireplace here in this mansion. It might be a problem. I might have an enormous heating bill since I run it for many hours a day. I might miss being warm in Ramona. I might use the word might way too much. I might not care.

Let me tell you about how I live in a five level house. That's one, two, three, four, FIVE. You walk in on the third level. If you go upstairs you will find Garrett's room, playroom, a bathroom and the guest room on the fourth level. If you go up four more stairs you will find the master bedroom, very large master bath, and master closet that is a dream come true. If you walk in the front door and do not choose to go up the stairs you will find the living room and kitchen. If you go down the four more stairs you would be on the second level, which is the family room and another bathroom. If you go down a flight of stairs you would be in the basement, where the office is. Plus another bathroom. Plus some storage rooms. It's insane. We could have, I don't know, eleven kids and live comfortably. Hey...wait a minute...now I get it.

By the way, if you want to hide in my house and murder me and my family, I just gave you a pretty good description of where to conceal yourself. I wouldn't try it though. We just installed a million dollar security system. In addition, if you bump into any of our strategically placed trip wires, you will be slaughtered by daggers and/or poisoned arrows. Also, we have hired a dozen ninjas to sleep in our closets. So, don't plan to murder me. I'm just saying, is all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Prognosis: Surgery

Today my little tyke saw the pediatric surgeon at University of Utah. He came highly recommended by both his pediatrician (missing you like crazy, Kaiser) and the pediatric surgeon in San Diego. He was wonderful and the boy's surgery is scheduled for January. It should be a straightforward, outpatient procedure with minimal recovery. His umbilical hernia has, in fact, become incarcerated on two occasions. Apparently, the ER doctor that night was smoking morphene and steri-strips when he said that the fiery ash caused Garrett's repeated ralphing. So, my tiny little tiger will go under the knife in a little over a month. They offered to do it on December 26.

Garrett: What did you get for Christmas, Little Jimmy?
Little Jimmy: Yah, well, I got a Wii.
Garrett: But we're toddlers.
Little Jimmy: Yah. Santa is awesome. What did you get?
Garrett: Surgery.

I didn't want to be the mom who said, "Merry Christmas! Now they're going to slice you open." Plus, I declined since my family is coming to visit the next day. I didn't want Garrett to be doped up for their trip. Does electing to postpone surgery for a couple weeks make me a bad mother? Vote yes or no in the comment section.

Monday, December 3, 2007

So glad I NaBloPoMo'd

Okay, so there were about 6300 NaBloPoMo bloggers and 62 random prizes, I believe. You can see that my odds of winning were extremely low. Nevertheless:

50. Debbie [blog] will send one random NaBlo blogger a $20 Starbucks gift card.
WINNER: Livin' in a Fishbowl

That's right. Yours truly. Miss Livin' in a Fishbowl herself. And I didn't win something crazy like a box of cigarettes or a can of creamed corn (which, by the way, I hope weren't actual prizes). There were some that I wouldn't have been too thrilled to win but Starbucks just ain't one of 'em. I'm not a coffee drinker but you certainly don't have to be to throw back a cup of cocoa or a Passion Fruit Tea. So, thanks, Debbie, for your gift of Starbucks. It seems highly appropriate given my recent move to the tundra.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

snow

We had a giant snowstorm today. My dad built Garrett a snow cave and pulled him around on the saucer that the church bought for him. The dog rolled around in the white wonder. We watched it fall and turn everything into a nice shade of clean. I realized that I am in love with the snow. I also realized that I like more in a "hey you're fun to visit and have hot cocoa and read a book in" kind of way and less in a "yippee! Tomorrow I get to try driving in you. Neat!" kind of way. In addition, I realized that my husband is a crazy person. The guy was out there in shorts. Shorts. As in short pants. Like the kind that you wear in southern California. Yah, those kinds of short pants.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thoughts

Two days ago I met my bishop. Well, er, that is, I met who would be my bishop if I happened to be LDS. He and his wife, who live a few streets over, came to our door to welcome us. They were sorry they hadn't been over sooner, to help us unload. They were oozing hospitality. I think we Christians could learn a thing or two from the Mormons. (Not including their actual religious beliefs, mind you).

I've been here for three days and I have to say that Utah is (so far) not too bad. Love you, California, you'll always be the one. Oh it's freezing. Literally. It snowed the first morning we were here and is supposed to dump about six inches tonight. And oh how I am the minority. Which makes me feel uncomfortable and fiercely proud all at once. And then, there is the small fact that my parents are still here so I can't be too homesick yet. But come on, how could you not fall in love with this view:



This is a picture of the Wasatch Mountains taken from my driveway. They are gorgeous. And at night the valley is alive with Christmas lights and it I imagine hard enough it's almost like I live in the Hollywood Hills and I am looking down on Los Angeles, only there are huge mountains jutting out of L.A. instead of, like, an ocean. And, as promised, here is a picture of the house:


Remember that we are renting. No I did not inherit a bajillion dollars so that I could simultaneously own a home in Riverton, Utah and Ramona, California. Please go away interest only financial burden or what I like to call "Next time, maybe, trust your instincts and don't play around with creative financing." Anyway, all that to say that the house is pretty amazing. It's just a long way from the church which, after all, is why we're here.

Okay, folks, there you have it. I NaBloPMo'd my brains out. I blogged every...single...day during the month of November. I used ellipsis wrong. I started sentences with and, but and because. I started in the south of California and ended in the north of Utah. But I so did it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where Is Melody Creek?

So, when we drove into our town on Tuesday night, the street signs were covered in snow. This was a problem since we had no clue where our house was. My husband grabbed the closest thing he could find, a toilet brush, and started throwing it at the street signs, knocking bits of snow off at a time. I laughed so hard my face hurt. If anyone was looking out their window at 8:30 mountain time, they definitely think they have weird new neighbors.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We're Here

There is so much to tell about my roadtrip but so much house that needs to be unpacked first. I am trying to get Garrett's room finished (mostly) before he arrives with my mom tonight at 9:30. We had tremendous amounts of help from the people in the church who are so excited that we're here. Some of them got here at 9:00 am and just left. Having my dad with us was the biggest blessing. Yesterday he drove the U-Haul for many hours and today he unloaded my moving van and fixed my couch that decided to start breaking, along with countless other things around my new home.

Speaking of the new home. It's a freaking mansion! I will post pictures soon but the thing is pretty amazing. There are nicks and scrapes but for the most part it is ridiculously lovely. Our neighborhood is adorable. Our office (where I am now) is freezing! The heat doesn't go into the basement. Okay. So I really need to go because the boxes just aren't unpacking themselves.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Day Has Come

Today is the day. Turns out that directions from my old house to my new house are incredibly easy. Directions to Riverton:


15 N


215 N


215 turns into 15N (again)


Exit Bangerter (in Riverton)


Right onto 11800


Right onto Janice


Right onto Melody Creek





Possible Stops


1. Barstow


2. Las Vegas


3. Cedar City


4. Nephi





Alternate Stops if I have to go to the bathroom too many times! (probable)


Victorville


Primm, NV


Littlefield, AZ


Cedar City


Fillmore


Provo





If my bladder is awesome! (doubtful)


Baker


St George


Nephi





I'll let you know how the roadtrip was when we get there.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tired

I'm tired. I've packed up my whole house and cleaned it and I'm tired. Nevermind that tomorrow I have to get up at 4:30 and drive for the whole day.

I'm in total denial that I have to say goodbye. Who knows, maybe I'll be so exhausted in the morning that it won't really hit me. How long can one effectively live in denial?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All Moved Out

It's really awesome when Cox is supposed to turn off your cable and internet on Monday and they turn it off on Saturday. It makes keeping your monthly posting promise difficult. It means you have to blog from your parent's house.

What else is awesome is having an empty house because all of your belongings are in a moving van. Yah.

But we had ample amounts of help to get that moving van loaded. It made me feel loved.

I don't want to unpack it. I don't think I will. I might just become a stuffless nomad. Hmmmm.

Tomorrow is deep cleaning day. I'm, um, not excited.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Latitude 40

Okay. It just got...interesting. I decided to check the weather for the next ten days in northern Utah. You know, cuz I'll live there, in four days. Um, I don't know if you understand that I freeze to near death in Southern California. That's right. Latitude of 32. Do you know the latitude of Salt Lake City? 40! It is eight degrees further from the Equator. Y'all (I'm Southern now) I'm pretty fond of the Equator. I don't really want to move away from it. Just to put that in perspective for you, if I moved eight degrees closer to my tropical friend, Equator, I would be in THE BAHAMAS. It's, um, warm there. My thin blood would be happier there. A lot. Probably. So back to the part where I tell you that I checked the weather. First let me show you the weather in Ramona for the next ten days:

Ramona
74- sunny
71- mostly cloudy
72- partly cloudy
71- partly cloudy
70- partly cloudy
69- mostly sunny
65- mostly sunny
64- few showers
64- showers
62- partly cloudy

Here is the weather for Riverton, Utah (where my house is)
42- sunny
45- mostly sunny
44- partly cloudy
41- cloudy
36- partly cloudy
41- cloudy
37- snow showers
36- partly cloudy
40- sunny
45- sunny

Those 40-45 degree days are about thirty degrees colder than I like it. Actually, closer to 40 degrees colder than I like it. I like my weather between 75-82. Those days that are in the thirties, well, I don't really even know what that means. It gets that cold at night, in the dead of winter, in Ramona, but I am tucked cozily in my blankets. I do not have to frolic on over to the grocery store, or church, or venture outside with my son who would happily live in the yard if I'd let him. And this snow showers thing I'm seeing. I've heard of snow. I've even, actually seen it. In fact, I used to ski on it. But it stays there, on the mountain. It doesn't come down and effect my life! I'm shaking for two reasons. Reason number one is because I'm scared. Reason number two is because it's 70 degrees here in Ramona. A good five degrees colder than I like it.

Oh, by the way, in Nassau (Bahamas) it's supposed to be between 80-83 for the next ten days. When my dad and Troy glance in the side mirrors of the U-Haul and wonder where the Santa Fe went, I'll be driving it to the airport in plenty of time to make my flight. I won't need much, just a bathing suit and a cabana. Ahhh, that will be the life.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was just a sweet time for me at my parent's house with my brother, grandparents, and most of my aunts, uncles and cousins. I stuffed myself silly with green bean casserole, yams, turkey, ham, rolls, potatoes, cranberry sauce, olives, pickles, salads, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and trifle (Jon, I did NOT taste the sauteed peas and onions or the beef. What's up with that?) It just felt so special to be able to hang out with my family. Thanksgiving is always one of my very favorite times of the year. It doesn't get much better than football and the smell of turkey filling my mom's home and the people who are the most near and dear to me seated around a huge table. It was determined that the family cannot grow anymore because we won't fit in my parents dining room--in fact, we already spread well into the living room--so I guess it's good that Troy and I are leaving before we add any children to our family. We took the above picture because it's quite a bit like this one...

which was taken on Thanksgiving last year. The only difference, of course, is the length of my hair, which got considerably shorter. And, well, the size of my son, who got considerably larger. Last year the challenge was getting him to stay propped up on his arms and not flop his head back onto the ground. This year the difficult part was keeping him from crawling two feet forward, standing up, and then running out the back door to play with my cousins. Last year he ate breast milk, rice cereal, and a bite or two of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. This year he ate ham, potatoes, cranberry sauce, yams, green beans, corn, roll, pink salad, pie, and olives. We tried turkey. We tried turkey with gravy. We tried turkey hidden in things. It repelled out. Apparently, he doesn't much care for turkey. Weird kid.

My grandmother, approaching the end of a nearly two year battle with lung cancer, made the trip. When she was getting ready to leave, I leaned in to the car and hugged her. There's a chance I will see her tomorrow, if she's feeling up to making it to my cousin's birthday party. There's a chance that she will hang on until I visit in February. But there's a chance that it was the last time I will ever hug her. And as the wire of her glasses pressed coolly onto my cheekbone she whispered, "I'm going to miss you when you're gone."

I whispered back, "I'll miss you, too." But, of course, I didn't mean when I'm gone. And it was a very strange sensation, saying, "I love you" as the door closed and knowing that there is a very real possibility that it was the last time I will ever see her. It made my Thanksgiving that much sweeter and it made me that much more thankful.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lesser Known Things That I Am Thankful For

I am thankful for dirty diapers. We're talking diapers of the giant blowout variety. For in these disgusting wastelands, I am reminded that God gave me my miracle.

I am thankful for the price of gas. When I shell out $50.00 toward this ridiculous necessity, I remember that I have the blessing of a vehicle and legs to drive it.

I am thankful that I am moving. Without the gift of Salt Lake City, I may never have known just how much I want to marry San Diego.

I am thankful for the scale. Without the idea of the scale taunting me, I would easily consume a can of cranberries, a pan of yams, a dish of green bean casserole, a vat of mashed potatoes and an entire pie.

I am thankful for that beer commercial where the two guys are at the opera and their bottles of beer shatter when the soprano hits the high note. You know the one, "First time at the opera, boys?" And the guy shakes the can in their faces? Yah. I've seen it about 100 times and it makes me laugh every...single...time.

I am thankful for math. Without math, I would never have realized the depth of my love affair with language.

I am thankful for infertility (yes, I actually said it) for it made me the most grateful mother on earth. I am thankful that we are experiencing secondary infertility because if God blesses us with another biological child, I will not take my second born for granted. And if He chooses not to bless us with another biological child, I will be molded and grown through the experience.

I am thankful for barbeque potato chips.

I am thankful for the massive amounts of leaves that fall from my trees every autumn because those same leaves kept my house cool during all the summers that I lived here.

I'm thankful for spiders because they eat flies. I hate spiders. I hate flies more.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

This whole moving shenanigan has given me the privilege of spending time with some of my dearest friends. Unfortunately, our lives don't cross often enough. But, when someone declares relocation, the blessing of time is always made. In the past couple of weeks, I have seen several of my closest and oldest friends.

Jenni and I have been friends since high school. We rolled together, in our gang, The LOOPs. If you're curious, LOOPs stood for Last Ones On the Planet. It was spearheaded by, and thus, fairly exclusively limited to, the five core members. In essence, however, it extended to anyone who had not had "the sex." The tribe was concocted during our senior year when one by one by one, we discovered that another friend or acquaintance had thrown her virginity out the metaphorical window. It seemed, at times, that we were literally the last ones on the planet who thought it was worth saving. We are now both happily married and have had different life experiences since graduating from high school but, whenever we get together, I feel a little bit like Samantha and Teensy from Now & Then. Even though I'm no longer the actor and she, well, is.

Jayni is actually my most antique friend (that I am still in contact with). We became friends sometime during the year that I was seven and she was six. No matter how old, beautiful and successful Jayni gets, she will always be that scrawny little seven-year-old in the gigantic cast at my 8th birthday party. And the two of us have the gift of gab, indeed. I think you could put me on Mars for thirty years and then plop me down in Jayni's living room and the two of us would be able to talk for another twenty about the experience. The duo of Jayni and me is one of Troy's favorites. He finds us uproarious. It's good be to be found funny. We were never "best friends" but our steadfast friendship has endured 19 years...and counting.

Kelli was one of my roommates in college. She was one of my bridesmaids. I was one of hers. She now lives in Washington with her hubby but was down for a visit because she is also my token genius friend. Everyone needs one of those, by the way. She is getting her doctorate from UCSD and had to have meetings or something or other on the campus, so she killed two birds with one stone and got together with me while she was here. Kelli is just one of the nicest people I know. For example, in college, during freshman year, my roommate and I were oil and water and it was Kelli's (and Michelle's) room that I slept in when I decided to pretty much move out of my room. Through the huge trial of living with someone who blew her hair dry two feet from my sleeping head, God blessed me with a lifelong friend.

I hated Kristin when I met her. The story is long and involves the pathological liar, but all that really matters is that it took me about two months to realize that Kristin was, indeed, a good apple. One of the best, in fact. It might have had something to do with the beached whale costume. Kristin and I are really quite different. She's talent and, well, I am enthusiasm. She gets lost every time she comes to my house but seems to have mastered the New York subway system, a network of trains and tracks and entrances and exits that boggles my mind. But even though she has a propensity toward misplacing herself, she braved the freeways and came to visit me because she's swell like that.

Cassie/Cassandra moved to Ramona when we were in the 2nd grade. We were insta-best friends for a year. Then we had some kind of elementary fallout and loathed one another until middle school. From then on we were extremely close again, taking production classes together, swimming on the same year-round team and the Varsity high school team together, going on camping trips, etc. At age seven, we pretended to stage plays in her basement. At age 14, we pretended to be famous. At age 18, we pretended that college wouldn't distance us. It did, as college often does, but you can put us in a kitchen, around plates of Caesar salad, and it's like we're those same little kids. We run in different crowds, but then, we kind of always did. Our lives are as different as night as day. She takes a taxi around New York City and flies to Norway for the weekend and I drive my Santa Fe with the baby in the backseat. Still, sitting at her table, laughing and learning about her life, I can't help but catch a glimpse of the teenagers we once were, running down to the basement to finish a project, or the seven-year-olds off to put the finishing touches on their play.

These are a few of my good friends. They are diamonds in the rough. Of course I have others, these are just the ones that I have seen over the past two weeks. Others are in their own cities in their own states with their own lives and I miss them. I once had a picture framed in my room that said, "Dear friends are like antiques. They become more precious as time goes by." I've been friends with Jenni for about eleven years, Jayni for nineteen, Kelli for eight, Kristin for seven, and Cass for one plus thirteen. It's true. They are all so much more lovely to me than the day I met them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Suffocation

Today is my last Tuesday in California. At this time next week I expect to be somewhere near Vegas on my way to a new life. If I wasn't so busy self medicating with boxes and phone calls, I would be able to feel my heart breaking.

I want to breathe everything in. To remember it all exactly as it is. To savor being Californian. I'm desperately trying to scorch images of sea and sun and remembrance and life onto that place just behind the eyes, the hamlet where nostalgia dwells and my soul only aches a little. I am telling myself that this too shall pass. But in that comfortable adage I discover a new fear. Perhaps, one day, I will have forgotten that this is home. It isn't the house, though I am having a terrible time tearing myself away from my son's first room. It isn't even the things I know and the routine of it all. It is the way that I am inexplicably alive in this space.

Utah is fine. It's a beautiful place to visit. I might have even been able to pull up a chair and stay for awhile, by a fire, with the snow-covered Wasatch Mountains peering through the window. Perhaps I will find solace in the slower pace, peace in the biting cold, and warmth in the welcome. But I will not ever find California. For what has always been under the sole of my shoe now eludes me. My definition of home will evaporate with the breath that I am holding. And I can only wait so long to exhale.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Oh The Places I'd See

We have a map of the world on our wall. Sometimes I look at places like Ushakov Island and wonder how many people live there. Then I think about how much better it is that I am moving to Salt Lake City than, say, Ushakov. I mean, Ushakov has a polar station. And that's it. At least Salt Lake City has grocery stores and Sonic to go with its snow.

But I look at this map and it makes me want to travel. I want to see it all.

To name a few places I want to go:
1. ITALY
2. Followed closely by England
3. Australia
4. The remaining 32 states that I have not yet been to
5. Fiji
6. New Zealand
7. Costa Rica
8. France
9. Austria
10. Germany
11. Greece
12. Spain
13. Ireland
14. Venezuela
15. Africa (I'm not sure where just yet)
16. China
17. Brazil
18. The Caribbean
19. Switzerland
20. And more...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kimmy Gibbler Is Not My Friend

One of my dearest friends traveled down to visit me last night. We laughed about how I used to be engaged to a pathological liar. It's good to get to a point where you can laugh about something like that. I don't think I ever knew, though, that "The Ex Pathological Liar" told her she looked like Kimmy Gibbler. Now, I'm sure that looking like Andrea Barber would be just fine. She's nice looking, as is my friend, not that I'm saying they look anything alike because they don't. I'm just saying is all. But to tell someone she looks like Kimmy freaking Gibbler is just plain mean. If you look like Kimmy Gibbler, you might act like Kimmy Gibbler and, well, quite frankly, no one wants that. And Kristin does neither. Seriously. She neither looks nor acts like The Gibbler. Not that that statement is what made him pathological. There were...other things. Many, many other things. It just made him mean.



All this to say that, Kristin, if you're reading this. You're beautiful. You're gorgeous in a Scandinavian way...or whatever it is you are. And you look nothing like Gibbler.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Upon Leaving My Home

Troy: I think that your dad and I will do the majority of the driving and you'll hop back and forth between the two vehicles.

Me: Really? I kinda thought I'd be driving the Santa Fe and you and my dad would take turns driving the moving van.

Troy: But you'll get annoyed with all the meowing and the panting.

Me: Well, I'm going to start out driving the Santa Fe. That's for sure.

Troy: Ok. Why?

Me: Because, initially there will be a whole lot of tears. We're talking floodgates. No one should have to see that.

Troy: Are you going to get in an accident?

Me: I'll let you know.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Theatre

I visited one of my college roommates today and we went over to the campus for a little while. She needed to pick something up at First Church and I wanted to see if Doc was in his office. He was and so he got to meet Garrett. I'm sure neither of them cared much about meeting the other but it was important to me. I consider that boy my greatest production and my director ought to have met him before we moved. Since it is highly inappropriate for a toddler to actually see a show, I had to make a special trip to introduce the munchkin. Doc had exactly three minutes to chat with me before his rehearsal started. As I walked out of his office I told Garrett that it would have been cool if he could have stood on the stage but they had a rehearsal and we had to go. Doc exclaimed, "Bring him in!"

I know he's a baby. I know it was coincidence. I know I'm being absurd but that kid, grumpy from lack of napping, squealed with delight--pure delight--when I plopped him on that stage. He ran around, he gently touched the tormentor, he stared at the ghost lamp, he ran into the center of the stage, gazed out and started babbling. I'm-not-even-kidding. Doc even said, "He's saying his lines." So, maybe it's in his blood? Maybe? I mean, I did take him to Broadway when he was just a teeny little embryo.

And all of that led me to think about the theatre and all the glorious parts I'd love to have, roles I'd just die to play. Oh what I'd give to be Glinda in Wicked. I want to travel by bubble. I want to flirt and flounce. I can say, "It is good to see me, isn't it? No need to answer, that was rhetorical" like the best of 'em. Oh I could so be Glinda. If God had made me a freakishly high soprano. But he didn't.

Oh what I'd give to be Liesl in The Sound of Music. I want to frolic around a gazebo. I do. I want to say, "Weeeeee!" after Rolf kisses me. I want to wear curtains for clothing. I could so be Liesl...if I were still sixteen going on seventeen.

Oh what I'd give to be Maureen in Rent. I want to ride a motorcycle onto the stage. I want to make the audience moo with me. I want to to sing, "Who said that you have any say in who she says things to at all?" I could so be Maureen in Rent...if I didn't think it would be a serious problem if I made out with a girl on stage.

Oh what I'd give to be Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. I could be Frankie Valli...well, if I were a man.

Oh what I'd give to be Laurey in Oklahoma. Wait, no, I don't actually like Oklahoma all that much.

Oh what I'd give to be Gilmer in Godspell. Oh yah, I was Gilmer in Godspell. Fun times.

Oh what I'd give to be Olivia in Twelfth Night. I was Maria in Twelfth Night. Maria is, not exactly, Olivia.

Oh what I'd give to be Lady Macbeth. I want to walk around in a lunatic-induced haze wringing my hands. I want to say, "Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then 'tis time to do't. —Hell is murky. —Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?" I could so be Lady Macbeth if...wait a minute. I could so be Lady Macbeth.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Or If My Ashes Scatter On The Wind, I Don't Care

Yesterday, when I woke up, I thought about taking my son to visit my grandmother. Then I remembered that it was urn shopping day. Much as I wanted to see Grandma, I did not want to shop for an urn. Later, my mother informed me that she put Grandma's funeral on her credit card. Neat. It had been a family affair. Mom, Aunt Vicki, Grandpa and Grandma had all piled into the car and gone urn picking.

Grandma was there because she isn't dead.

Dying, yes. But aren't we all? It's true that her death will, in all probability, occur sooner than the rest of ours, she's been battling lung cancer for longer than anyone thought possible. But it still gives me the willies to think about urn shopping.

This prompted a discussion with my husband (who is adamantly opposed to cremation for his own self) about where we would want to be laid to rest. It's a little bit of a pickle, you see, because Troy loves the northwest and I love California. In any case, Troy determined that if I should die young, he would put me in a wall so that I could be easily transported in case he and Garrett moved. He thinks I should be nearby so Garrett can visit me. To this I informed him that he would absolutely need to cremate me. How gross is it to think about moving day otherwise.

Troy: Got all your toys?
Garrett: Check.
Troy: Clothes?
Garrett: Check.
Troy: Mommy's casket?
Garrett: Yep, I saw the movers put her in the van, right by a box marked kitchen.
Troy: Then I think we're good to go. Hop in, sport.

Troy rolled his eyes and said that there are people who specifically move bodies from one place to another. Sounds pricey. And still. If he's going to transport my remains all over the country, I'm goin' urn all the way.

But do NOT keep me on the mantle. No sir. Scatter me over Tahoe or go all crazy kamikaze during the middle of a Broadway show, sprint across the stage waving and flinging my remains and screaming, "Now she's on Broadway!" Or, if my son really needs to pay his respects to my actual self, put me in a wall with a little plaque. But if any of my four loyal readers discovers that my husband put me on the mantle...get a court order to have me removed. I don't want my ashes and dust kicking it in the living room. Ew.


Kind of reminds me of a Rich Mullins song:
Well, if they dressed me like a pauper
Or if they dined me like a prince
If they lay me with my fathers
Or if my ashes scatter on the wind I don't care
But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah

With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
Well, It'll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won't break my heart to say goodbye

I guess, where my life is concerned, I really don't care. Other than, I'd kinda like to go out like Elijah.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It Takes A Woman

In trying to set up phone/internet/cable service in Utah I was on the phone with Comcast for over 45 minutes. They kept sending me to different people in different places with different accents. It was special.

First I called someone who must have been in India. It took me over a minute just to get him to understand the letters I was saying as I spelled out the street name. He told me that service was not available in my new area.

So I tried another number. I was on hold for five minutes. He told me that service was available but that I needed to call directly to Riverton.

I was on hold for 10 minutes and I got a guy who asked me if Riverton was in California. Oh how I wish. I informed him that, no, it wasn't and I had just been on hold for 10 minutes waiting for someone who was specifically in Riverton. "Oh, I'm in California, ma'am." Well, yah, me too. But I need a freaking phone number in freezing Utah!

He gave me a direct number, complete with Salt Lake City area code. A lovely, English speaking, Megan set me up with my new phone, new cable, new internet and, for five extra dollars, wireless. Now Troy can work on sermons from any room in the house. (It was also at this point that we realized that wireless works within several hundred feet. So that's how Troy was picking up internet in my grandparent's living room.) She asked me why, in the world, I am moving to Utah? I ask myself that every single day.

Anyway, I have a new number. I told her I wanted the easiest one she had. Email me if you want it. The moral of this story is that I should have just started with a woman from the beginning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Odds and Ends

My family has returned.

Last night my son acted as though he'd never known I wasn't there.

Today he's been whiny and clingy and...huggie. It makes me wonder if Troy lost my real son in Oregon and brought back a lookalike. My offspring has never been a hugger. If it weren't for the clinging and the whining, I'd be in heaven.

In other news, my husband thinks that I am going to lose friends over my blog about names. But Bethany said, "Amen, Amen, Amen." I think that's a good thing. So, if all my other friends decide that the relationships are over, I'll still have her. In any case, I am reiterating that they are my rules. You can make up your own rules where meaning means nothing, names are spelled with silent sixes and extra j's and no vowels, and girls are named Todd and Vincent. I won't care. I just won't follow your rules. Just like you don't have to follow mine.

We just got a dumpster delivered to our house. We're really, actually, moving. It's not a nightmare I'm going to wake up from. Crap.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What's In a Name?

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes - The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

You see, there's a reason I love Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And it's not just because she has the most amazing name in the history of the world. I mean, until she got married, she went through life as Elizabeth Barrett, which is marvelous. I wish my last name was Barrett. Except I would have had to have chosen a different name for my son. Garrett Barrett wouldn't have worked for me. I'm incredibly picky about names. This is supposed to be a post about the brilliant quote above but I need to digress.

My Rules For Naming Children (no, I don't expect you to follow them. They are my rules)

1. A name should not be trendy. This is especially difficult because of the natural ebb and flow of naming. A good bet is to chose a name that has, for the past 10 years or so, steadily been in the top 150 names but is not, currently, in the top 20. (Example: Garrett: In the past 15 year it has ranged from 74-138) *Side note: I LOVE some trendy names. Aidan and Isabella, are among my favorites. However, I did not want my son to be Aidan B so I did not name him that.

2. One of the names should be from the Bible. This is so that, as parents, we honor our faith through the sacred act of bestowing our child's identity. (Example: Garrett John)

3. Especially when naming male children, it is strongly encouraged to honor a family member with one of the child's names. Suggestions: Passing on the father's name or middle name or honoring a family member from the mother's side since she (in most cases) did not keep her last name. (Example: Garrett John-after my father and brother who are both named Jon. Spelled like John in the Bible for bonus points)

4. The name must, absolutely, flow together as first, middle, last. This is why Garrett Barrett would not be acceptable. Other unacceptable names include David Davidson, anything that rhymes internally, and names that end with the same letter as the last name starts with (this is not a hard rule) example: Caleb Brown. If said quickly, the poor boy would sound as though he had been named Kayla.

5. Cutesy first names are inappropriate. Name your child something strong or beautiful. If they choose a cutesy name, so be it. Remember that he may grow up to be a professional. (Example: Joseph. If he chose Joey or Joe that is fine, he can always fall back on Joseph if needed.)

6. Do not give your child strange spellings for his/her name. Why, because people will always spell them wrong. *Sidenote: I think that some people have a problem with our chosen spelling of Garrett. While I certainly do not care when people spell his name incorrectly, we chose two r's and two t's for a reason. Garrett is the traditional spelling of a boy's name. Garett is another option but when pronounced, we clearly say, "G-air-rit," if one listens closely they can hear the two r's so one of them should not be eliminated. While you cannot hear the two t's, a garret (one t) is a small attic. We did not want our son to be named after Jo's hideout in the novel Little Women.

7. Be cautious with gender neutral names. If you have a boy and a girl, and name the girl Taylor, make sure you name the boy Matthew or something equally male. If you have Taylor and Jordan and one is male and the other is female, people will get confused. Likewise, if a name is gender neutral, but is MUCH more popular for one gender do not name your opposite gendered child that name. (Example: Lauren for a boy) You do not want teachers to think your child is trying to pull a fast on one them when they first call roll. This can get tricky given the above mentioned ebb and flow of name.

8. If possible, the meaning should be acceptable to you. This was very important during biblical times. We loved the name Garrett which means "spear ruler" or "to watch" and implies the strength of someone watching over or protecting his land. That, however, was not as important to us as his middle name. Named, as mentioned, for my father, brother, grandfather, great grandfather, etc, John means "God is gracious" and is what Elizabeth and Zechariah are told to name their son after so many years of praying for his conception. God graciously gave them their child. Likewise, he answered our prayers and gave us our own John.

Trust me, there are more. These are just the first few that come to mind.

Do all the mothers out there hate me? Have I just offended absolutely everyone? That was not my intention and I apologize if you are now seething behind your computer screen.


Back to the quote:
How often do I sit around a metaphorical bush, so obviously alive with God, and munch stupidly on my blackberries? How often do I let ordinary miracles rush by me without so much as glancing in their direction? A tiny step taken by my son, a whisper of rustling leaves in the trees, a sunset, are all acts of his perfect design. Sometimes I am too busy hungrily gazing at those blackberries to take off my shoes and accept that I am standing on holy ground. Are you?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Help! I'm Stuck in the Bathroom!

Today at church the guest speaker relayed the following story:

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone's help. So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient. Then it was time to leave. I couldn't unlock the door. I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn't do it. I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, "I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom." My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.


"Are you okay?" Mother shouted through the door she couldn't open from the outside. "Did you fall? Have you hit your head?"


"I can't unlock the door!" I yelled. "Get me out of here!"

I wasn't aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window. With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

"Thanks, Dad," I said—and ran out to play.


That's how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work. When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself. When I can't, I should pray. Then God shows up. He hears my cry—"Get me out of here! I want to play!"—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does. But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I'm realizing the Christian life doesn't work that way. And I wonder, are any of us content with God? Do we even like him when he doesn't open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn't heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room. But he doesn't walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn't budge. Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, "Come sit with me!" He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.


I don't always see it that way. "Get me out of here!" I scream. "If you love me, unlock the door!" Dear friend, the choice is ours. Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

I am ashamed to know that feeling of not liking God. In fact, when I'm not liking God I generally try to pretend that I do. Which is probably much worse because He knows I am pretending. It might be a lot like being in junior high. And being a girl. And finding out that whoever was supposed to be your BFF told another friend that you were ugly and dorky-when in reality you were just slightly awkward. And then you found out that she said it but you hated confrontation so much that you never told her you knew, you just cried alone at night. Except not really like that because God isn't in junior high, he probably doesn't even have a BFF, and he doesn't mind confrontation. Ask the lions. And Goliath. And practically everyone else in the Bible. So all I'm saying is that it's pointless to pretend we're best friends with God when we don't feel terribly friendly.

I wish I could always reason with my heart when God is breaking me, molding me, making me. My head says that it's exactly why I won't let Garrett put his fingers in outlets or run into the street. He thinks the outlets are playgrounds for his digits and the street is the promised land. I know that neither is true. So why do I question my heavenly father when I know that he has my best interest at heart?

Even though my mind tells my heart to worship, to listen, to obey, my heart doesn't always comply. I find myself yelling, "Get me out of here! If you love me, unlock the door! If you're going to break me and mold me and make me, love me enough to give me the desires of my heart! You know them better than anyone! Let me out of this bathroom, I want to go play!"

God sits there, quietly, with his legs crossed and his back up against the tub. I flail and pound on the door and sob. He probably doesn't like it. Sometimes, maybe, it even pulls on his heartstrings a little, like when tears run down Garrett's face because it's dinnertime but he wants another cookie. But God sets his jaw and doesn't waver. When I am tired I crawl up beside him and he tells me that he has something better in store. Something more glorious than I ever could have imagined on my own. Slowly and very deliberately, I am learning the truth of his vision. But it is a decision that I have to make every single minute. Some days I remember to sit beside him before I senselessly try to beat the door down. Some days I bash my head against it for hours. Some days, despite how hard I try, I forget to like the one who made me.

I am not proud of these days, but I rejoice in the knowledge that I worship a forgiving God. He is not a junior high girl, he is the Almighty and the Amen.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Packing

Yesterday my mom came over and we packed for maybe six hours straight. There are boxes everywhere but it just doesn't feel like I've made a dent. Troy already had stuff here when we got married. I brought stuff in. People gave us hoards of loot for our wedding. Four years of "stuff incurring" has transpired. We had a baby. He got stuff. It doesn't seem to matter what we sell, what we pitch into the trashcan, what we burn, bury or hide, there's just a whole lot of substance to pack into containers, boxes and bags. She'll be over soon and we'll do it all again. Except, you know, different stuff this time. (Love you, Mom. Could NOT do it without you.)

In other news, does anyone, I repeat, anyone, want to buy my house? Come on, you know you do. Or, if a whole house is just a little too expensive, how about an organ? Actually, you can just have the organ, take it away from me. Toddlers love 'em.

I should probably get a move on (hardy har I crack myself up). There's packing and laundering and stressing to be done.

And, yes, I miss my family. I'm trying not to think about it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

They've Left Me

One could argue that Garrett has always been a part of me. Or, at least, that half of him has always been a part of me. After all, a female is born with all of her eggs. So, never before has he been this far away from me, hovering somewhere over Nevada and on his way to Portland.

My husband's family got the crazy notion that now would be a good time for a visit. Nevermind that we're moving in 18 days. While I could definitely have used my husband this weekend (he's been gone three hours and I've already been on the phone with the guy handling our new health insurance and the new church, asking, answering and fielding questions) I think I'll get more done without the baby. If I put one thing in a box, Garrett pulls two things out. So it's probably a blessing in disguise.

But walking away from them at the airport, telling my toddler that I'd see him in three days, was actually harder than I thought it would be. I seriously almost cried. Seriously. And when I got home there was a message from Daddy and Garrett. At the end the boy babbles something into the machine. I didn't delete it. If I need to hear his voice during the next three days I fully intend to push play.

Have fun Troy and boy. Laugh, play, visit, eat at Izzy's. I'll be here, packing away and dealing with all the odds and ends. It's almost like going on vacation. Except without the fun and the Izzy's.

They better return to me in one piece with no plane crashes to speak of. Because if they don't I'll have to unpack everything. Well, that and the fact that I would be thrown in the loony bin and probably put on suicide watch.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Anticipation

I've been a little bit of a downer lately. With the exception, maybe, of the boob blog, I've been on my woe-is-me-I-have-to-leave-this-awesome-place-and-I'm-less-than-thrilled soap box. While I still maintain that only the truly insane or the wives of the truly insane would ever pack up and leave this mecca, there are some things I'm looking forward to:

1. The stage at OUR NEW CHURCH. Previously, at MVCC, all plays had to be blocked so that the actors could walk off the stage and exit through doors--there was no way to get "backstage" without first getting "offstage." The very first thing I noticed on our first trip to Salt Lake back in August was the stage. It's nothing glorious or fancy but by gosh there are doors ON THE STAGE that lead to a backstage area. My heart and vision are happy. Very happy.

2. Seasons (sort of). I am not looking forward to learning how to drive in the snow, which everyone tells me I should do in a parking lot. "Hello, fifteen-year-old Lori, didn't think I'd see you again, what are you doing? Learning how to drive in a parking lot. Awesome. Me too." I don't think this time will come complete with my mother white-knuckling the armrest but you never know. And I'm not looking forward to my thin California blood going through the painful-and often freezing-process of thickening up. I am, however, looking forward to a white (keeping my fingers crossed) or at least chilly Christmas. It's true that I don't mind a warm San Diego holiday but I just can't see being upset over hot chocolate and blankets galore. And I think, come April, I will be so sick of the snow that spring, for the first time, will seem like the crispest of miracles.

3. I am looking forward to cultivating new relationships with the congregation, most of whom are so very excited about our arrival. Of course, I will desperately miss the friends and relationships that I have here at MVCC but I am truly starting to look forward to getting to know the people of OUR NEW CHURCH.

4. Wicked August 2009. I heard a rumor. Happy 6th Anniversary to me! (And Troy, of course) What's that? Well, yes, we have seen it twice already. Your point?

5. Being about twenty minutes away from this:



and, well, this:

and this:


To be completely honest, I'm giddy about all the waterfalls and creeks and ponds and trails and beauty within a half hour of my new home. But, besides leaving my fantastic California-and her ocean-behind, I'm more than just a little nervous about this:


It's not that we don't have an LDS temple here in San Diego because oh how we do...but it shakes the core of my being to think about existing as the minority. I've never been the religious minority...unless you count high school. Even then it was only because it wasn't "cool" to be "religious." And to not only not be a part of the majority, but to label myself as a pastor's wife and my boy as the son of the preacherman, well, sometimes I think I should just put a sticker on my back that says, "Lunatic!"

And then, sometimes, I thank God that He's sending me to Utah and not to Saudi Arabia or Lebanon. At least if I'm going to be one among the masses I'll still get to speak English and enjoy not wearing a burqa.