Thursday, January 31, 2013


When I guest blog for my wife I don’t really like to scribble down anything serious.  Certainly I don’t want to write anything that would make any of her regular readers question her discernment for allowing me to take the reins for a few days.  Usually I’ll jot something that is amusing (at least to me) or shallow, or that pokes a little fun at Mrs. Fishbowl herself (so that she realizes what a poor decision it was to let me write in her little world).

Sometimes though, I can’t help myself.

I really don’t like color.  I’m not talking about the fact that my house would be decorated solely in winter colors (greens and blues) and every room painted with walls of white were it not for my wife.  I’m talking about pigment.  I’m talking to the notion that somehow we’re supposed to be predictably different according to the inherited hue of our skin.  I’m referring to the fact that sometimes, even in the 21st century, there are people who can’t get past melanin.  I’d rather not think about it.  I’d rather believe that we were past all of this to the point where we did judge people by the content of their character.  Then again, I’m not an ostrich.

Certainly, I have a vested interest. I have two boys.  One is black.  One is white.  That’s what I’m told.  Obviously I can tell the difference in their appearance, but to me they’re just my boys.  I love watching them play (mostly) and fight (sometimes) as brothers.  When I choose to think of race relations the words of Dr. King echo through my mind—of black children and white children walking hand in hand—I get to see that in my own family.  I am happy to see how far we’ve come, but I am aware of how much further we have yet to go.

I guess this is a pretty long introduction to the story I really wanted to point out.

In a soccer game just this last Tuesday, Jozy Altidore, an American who happens to be black, was playing in a league match in the Netherlands.  Throughout the game he was subjected to racial mockery to such an extent that the referee wanted to suspend the game.  You can read about the incident here (link).  Grant Wahl from Sports Illustrated writes about the entire situation much more skillfully and comprehensibly than you will gather from me on this blog.

Fortunately, on this side of the pond, we’ve come a long way since Jackie Robinson.  Unfortunately, this is not an isolated occurrence on the other side of the world. 

Jozy, however responded with the utmost professionalism and dignity.  He continued to play even scoring in the match that his team won.  Afterwards when asked about the incident he responded,

"The way I was raised, we never looked at black and white.  My family has always stressed to me, yes, you will come against things that are different for a young black kid growing up.  Let's be honest about that, we're still not over that.  But at the same time, they always told me you can't judge anybody by their color.  You have to respect everybody for who they are and what they stand for."

And when asked about the incident he said he'd be praying for the offending fans.

So really I just wanted to give a huge shout out to Jozy Altidore.  If you don’t follow soccer you might never have heard his name before.  But I wanted to make sure you knew it today.  Certainly he is not alone in dealing with this issue, but the class and grace that he showed in dealing with an ugly situation is worthy of acknowledgment.

I wanted to retell the story to make sure you heard because clearly we still have work to do.  And clearly there are a lot of people who need our prayers.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hypothetical Questions

Note: as the husband of the blogger I have been commissioned to post to my wife's blog while she is off enjoying a visit with her parents.  I can't say that the writing will be up to usual standards.  Hopefully, its a little something to tie you over until the talent returns.

As I was driving to the airport the Rock Star began peppering me with questions—this of course is not unusual.  Garrett loves to talk.  He often doesn't stop to take a breath between whole sentences.  Make that paragraphs.  It’s a wonder he’s never passed out in the middle of one of his extended dialogues. 

As we approached the airport he seemed to realize that this was his last chance to ask me for answers that I might not be able to sufficiently provide for the next ten days.  He began to ask me questions, hypothetical questions.  Questions that he deemed extremely important.  Such as:

“Dad, if there was a war where we were invaded by T-Rexes what would you do”

“What?”  Seriously, are you worried about this or are you just trying to ascertain my bravery when I am in REM state?  “Is this a problem you’re worried about?”

“No Dad, what would you do?  If T-Rexes invaded and all the people were shooting them with guns what you would you do?”

OK, I’ll play along but I seriously need more information.  What is the size of the attack force?  Have these revived fossils suddenly increased in intelligence enough to organize an invasion or are they simply running amok devouring everything in sight---all those years of pent up carnivorous frustration being unleashed on suburbia?

Why am I defending myself?  Where is the National Guard?  I hope my tax money would be put to use in order to defend me--in the case that giant prehistoric lizards had returned to launch an assault on my neighborhood.   

“I’d make sure my family was inside, and then I’d do everything I could to protect my family?”


“Probably with a gun.”

“What kind?”

“Any kind I could get my hands on.”

“Or maybe a sword.”

“No.  No.  Definitely not a sword.”  What?  A Sword to charge a T-Rex?  Each of its teeth are tiny swords.  Have you not seen Jurassic Park?  Wait.  No you have not YET seen Jurassic Park because you’re six and aside from my opinion that you’re not yet old enough, I further don’t want  you sleeping in my room for the next month due to nightmares.

“Maybe, a sword," He continued.  "You could cut its legs.” 

And it could eat my head.  Seriously kid, are you not thinking this through or have I done something to anger you?

“No.  Definitely not a sword.  I’d be attacking it with something I could attack it from far away.”  I realize I was repeating myself and that I just used the verb "attack" twice in the same sentence, but I am trying to relay the actual conversation. . . .

“I’d attack it with a slingshot.”  The Little Buddy suddenly decided to enter the conversation. 

“A slingshot really?”  The wife also is joining in.  Actually, she has been listening the entire time  laughing silently.

“Apparently Matthew has been watching a lot of David and Goliath,” I answered.  “You come at me with Teeth and Claw And Crushing Tail but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts . . .”

By this time we had pretty much arrived at the airport so the great dinosaur invasion hypothetical came to an end.  Good thing too, because next I’m sure Garrett would be asking me how I’d react when 18th century Pirates began terrorizing the coastal cities of Utah . . . Based on a conversation we’d had a couple days previously.  I didn't really give him an answer because he couldn't really explain to me how it had come to pass that Utah was suddenly a coastal state.  I mean what had happened to west coast and Nevada?

For the next ten days I’m going to miss my son the hypothetical question-asker and my other son the slingshot-defender.  At least I can write about them.  And I can wonder what kind of questions my wife is being forced to answer in my absence.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

In San Diego

We finally made it to California after a three hour delay because of the icy runways at Salt Lake International. We were super thankful to get out though--on account of all the canceled flights there were. We had my dad's retirement party last night and it was super fun. We've got a VERY busy schedule of Legoland and Sea World and etc. ahead of us.

I can't seem to be able to blog from my parents computer for some unknown reason. My husband's laptop will leave with him today so he's going to guest blog a few times for me.

Hi Troy! I just volunteered you to blog for me! I LOVE YOU! :-)

It's raining. It's pouring. And they're all blaming me for bringing it. I find this an unfair assumption because it is neither freezing rain nor snow. Therefore, we can deduce that it did not come from Utah.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


With the exception of about 45 minutes two weeks ago, we've been living life trapped under a perpetual inversion. I'd heard of this thing called "inversion" even before we moved here. The natives told us. And by natives I mean the people who had lived here longer than a season. It didn't matter that they explained it, I had no idea what they were talking about. In fact, for the entire first winter that we lived here, I couldn't understand it.

I looked outside and saw foggy, smoggy air and thought it was overcast. A wayward marine layer. A Salt Lake layer. I'm still not entirely sure that I understand the phenomenon. Something about ICKYNESS getting caught between the Wasatch and the Oquirrhs and blocking fresh air FOREVER. (Or, at the very least, what seems like forever.) Then, a storm will blow in and blow the ICKYNESS out. So, while those last few sentences imply that I still have no idea what an "inversion" actually is, after five years of living here, I totally know how to recognize one.

When you feel like you're chewing your air--INVERSION.

When you look up and the sky is two feet above your head--INVERSION.

When you look out your window and can't see a mountain range on either side because they are blocked by a thick layer of ICKYNESS--INVERSION!

When you can feel chunks swimming around in your lungs after you inhale--INVERSION.

When the world you're walking around in is freezing cold because the frigid temperatures are trapped between the barriers of the mountains and the ceiling of ICKYNESS--INVERSION.

I don't know anyone who likes them. I've never heard a person say, "Hey, isn't this inversion just totally awesome. I wish it would hang around for another three weeks straight. I'm thrilled that I can't see the sun because, golly, SUNSHINE! What a drag."

For someone with self diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, I go absolutely asylum bound crazy when I don't see the sun for a handful of days. So I'm about ready to rally a team of individuals who will pull the inversion out of this valley using nothing but a little elbow grease and sheer will.

Instead, I think we'll all just hop on a plane tomorrow and head for San Diego. Because I never heard the word "inversion" when I lived there. Although, in truth, the tickets were purchased long before the weather went to Hades.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Don't get me wrong, The Rock Star has definitely had his moments. There was, of course, his epic Sea World meltdown. I've experienced him acting like a teenage girl. He's clawed at me while I try to shove him into the car, making it appear that I'm trying to abduct someone else's child. He's completely lost it and started swinging his arms wildly at me.

But usually he's even keel.

Not so with his dramatic brother.

Last week, I picked Garrett up from school and, as I stood talking to some other moms, a group of boys chased each other in the snow. Both of mine decided it would be awesome to grab fistfuls of snow. It was under 30 degrees outside and they weren't wearing gloves.

One of them approached me, crying, holding his little hands out and shaking.

The other one just kept playing.

I picked the first one up, wrapped my coat around him (although, for the record, YES! and OF COURSE! he was wearing a coat of his very own) and trapped his hands between my torso and my arms to warm them. Still, he sobbed.

"Dey ah so code! My hands! My hands ah so code!" The longer we stood there, the more catastrophic the situation became for him. Tears dripped off his face. Still, the other son ran and laughed and threw snowballs.

"Garrett!" I hollered, "let's go, Bud."

He screeched to a halt. "Why?"

"Your brother's hands are cold."

"Well, my hands are cold, too," he said as he walked to my side.

"I know," I replied. "But sometimes life is just harder for Matthew."

It's a true statement but, of course, I was going for comic relief. The other moms began to laugh--especially the ones with more than one child.

I've heard that there is an almost universal flip. Children who are more challenging as little people turn into well managed teens and vice versa. My husband refuses to acknowledge this phenomenon, stating that he was mostly remarkable at all stages of life. With very few exceptions, his family seems to validate his claims. Still, I've witnessed it in many families--the switch.

So maybe, one day, it will be my oldest who sometimes makes me want to tear every hair out of my head. Maybe, one day, my youngest will not burst into tears when someone asks him to go get his shoes. Maybe he won't ask for help putting them on just to take them off again and do it himself just to sob hysterically because they aren't right and I need to help him. And if you had a hard time following that sentence I understand. Because I, myself, had a hard time following it in real time.

My mother assures me that he's come a very long way from that spirited baby who would SIMPLY. NOT. STOP. SCREAMING.

But some days I just need reminding.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I think our cat might die of old age before he's ever comfortable around our children. It doesn't matter how sweet they are, how much they desperately want to hold him and scratch him and cuddle him, he's just terrified of those kids.

Currently, Garrett is sitting on the floor, perfectly still, trying to get that cat to come to him.

The cat is sitting about three feet away--a huge improvement--eyeing Garrett, ready to spring away if necessary. 

Garrett just crept slowly up to the cat and stuck out his hand. Oliver put his nose to Garrett's finger which is probably the most progress they've ever made in their relationship. Of course, immediately after that, he got up and sauntered away.

Thankfully, we still have a big, dumb, lovable golden retriever who would play with an escaped convict if the situation arose. So Garrett still has a pal, is what I'm saying.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Road Trip

Times are approximate.

5:30--Alarm goes off. I reach over to SHUT IT UP. It's too early. My eyes are glued tightly together. Why is this happening? Then I remember, oh yeah, it's road tripping day.

5:53-- I kiss my husband on his sleeping cheek. He actually wakes up enough to sit up and demand a kiss of the lip to lip variety. He manages to mumble something about my safety. Ah. He loves me.

5:55-- I promise my oldest child that I will try valiantly to wake him up when I get home. I tell him to give his brother a kiss for me when he wakes up and to lock the door behind me when I leave. Then I instruct him to crawl into bed with his daddy and go back to sleep once I'm gone.

6:00-- Christy picks me up. This road trip to Vegas AND BACK in one day thing. Yeah. We're totally ready to do. this. thang.

6:30-- A thermometer in Lehi says it's 10 degrees. It's still dark. There is frost forming on the back windows. We talk about cavities, church, dogs, kids, and a number of other things.

8:00 ish-- We stop to use the restroom. It's freezing. There's a petting zoo with a zebra. We feel sorry for a zebra standing in the snow in Utah when, clearly, zebras were made for African weather. A polar bear might have been a better idea. Except then they should definitely take the word "petting" out from in front of the word "zoo." We are back in the car in approximately four minutes. I discuss the fact that that simply does not happen with children.

10:15-- We stop at Cracker Barrel in St. George. I take my jacket off and leave it in the car. That sentence, the one I just wrote, won't happen in Salt Lake for another three months. I have eggs-in-a-basket on the side of my hashbrown casserole. YUM. HASHBROWN CASSEROLE. Christy uses a gift card and pays for me because she's super nice like that.

11:00-- We get gas. I drive to Vegas. 

11:56-- (Insert time change as I don't think it is actually possible to make it from St. George to North Las Vegas in 56 minutes without a race car.) When I can see the Stratosphere off in the distance, I call my brother-in-law. As I'm dialing I have a conversation with myself about whether or not Nevada is hands free. It probably is. I decide to chance it. I tell Christy that if a cop drives by I'll just pretend I'm holding my head up.  It's a good thing certain people (certain people, like my father) don't read my blog.

12:00-- We decide to meet Dan, who is on his way from San Diego to Vegas, in the parking lot at Excalibur. We're ahead of him by about an hour. We drive on to Excalibur, park, and decide to walk the strip. It is warm. I mean, not, like, hot, but perfectly, wonderfully warm. 

12:20-- A man tries to give us a discounted ticket to something. Under my breath, I say something about how we're only in Vegas for five minutes. We ignore him. He yells, "That's F*^k*d up!" WELCOME TO VEGAS!

12:30-- A man reaches out his hand to Christy and says, "Shake my hand. I'm a nice black man!"

12:31-- Someone tries to sell us a bottle of water.

12:32-- Someone else tries to sell us a different bottle of water.

12:40-- We briefly walk through MGM.

12:41-- We see a ventriloquist. I stop to watch him for a moment. He says something and moves the dummy's mouth. Except that I thought it was the guy saying something to the dummy because his mouth moved. A lot. He wasn't a very good ventriloquist. Not that I'd be any better. But then, I'm not trying to make money with my ventriloquism on the strip in Vegas.

12:42-- We see a man painted gold pretending to be a statue. I get slightly annoyed with him because I can totally see him breathing and EVERYONE knows that statues don't breathe.

12:43-- A human Hello Kitty tries to get us to take a picture with her.

12:44-- We duck quickly into the M&M store. We browse the overpriced M&M store for awhile. We discuss the fact that $12.99 is an awful lot for a pound of M&Ms. I don't care if they are pale purple and teal and forest green. I don't care if you can't find them in hot pink at your local Walmart. $12.99 for a pound of M&Ms is ridiculous. Still, we each buy two pounds for the trip home.

12:45-- Just kidding. We totally didn't buy any M&Ms.

12:49-- I get a text from Dan that they are getting close. We decide to saunter back toward Excalibur.

12:52-- A large man wearing a feathery purple bra on top of his clothes--among other things--starts talking to us. We try not to make eye contact with him. He calls Christy "short." He ignores me. I thank God for small miracles.

12:59-- We decide to use the restroom in New York, New York before buying Starbucks because we don't want to take said beverage in with us. No matter, there were totally cup holders in the stall. We should have known.

1:02-- Christy buys me Starbucks--again, because she's super nice like that. I offer to buy both of ours. I offer to buy just mine. She refuses both offers and insists on paying.

1:15-- My brother-in-law, his mom and dad and my niece and nephew, pull up to our car. They tumble out of their van. And then...

the-whole-entire-reason-we-took-this-road-trip hops out.

That's Winnie. She's my friends' new puppy. She's my dog, Beck's, grandpuppy. She's also super cute. In the event that you couldn't tell.

2:00-- We get back on the road after hanging out with the family in the middle of the Excalibur parking lot. I drive. Christy snuggles her new puppy. I have a hard time keeping two hands on the wheel. My right hand keeps wanting to wander over and pet the softest puppy of maybe ever. She sleeps in Christy's lap. She's an angel. I tell Christy that she's using up all of her good behavior and she's going to be Hades on four legs at 2:00 am.

5:20-- (Again, with a time change) The puppy bolts upright and begins to whine, cry, and wiggle. I promise her that in eight miles we'll stop and let her out.

5:27-- We stop in Cedar City. Winnie encounters snow. She shakes violently. I walk her over to an area of the parking lot that, amazingly, has sawdust scattered. She climbs onto my shoes to avoid the snow. Apparently we've got another San Diego girl on our hands. I know how she feels. She gets off my feet. She makes puppy number one. Clearly, she also has to have an experience with number 2. But she won't put all four paws down. She'll only do two or three at a time. Finally, she manages to get it all taken care of. She jumps around for a few minutes, her giant ears flopping as she runs. Christy and I take turns using the restroom.

5:40-- We feed Winnie on the floor of the car. We pull out of Cedar City. When Winnie's finished, I pick her up and snuggle her. I kiss her. I bury my face in her soft fur. I talk to her in a high pitched voice. I'm not sure where the voice is coming from. She climbs up and obstructs my view. I'm not driving. In case you were wondering.

9:00 ish-- We pull into my driveway. I assure Christy that she can shove me out and continue on her way to introduce her family to their newest member. She tells me that she wants my boys to see Winnie.

9:01-- Winnie gets an adorable chunk of snow stuck to her adorable nose. Still, she opts to relieve herself on the concrete where there is no snow. It's very likely the same choice I would have made.

9:01.42-- We knock on my front door. Troy comes to the door, very excited to meet the little furball. 

9:02-- Beck comes up. He is very excited to meet his grandpuppy.

9:02.30-- Matthew runs out of his bedroom. He quickly darts back in. I tell him that he can come see the puppy. He instantly and completely falls in love with her.

9:05-- I put the puppy on top of a very sleepy Garrett. He mumbles, "She's cute." Then he falls quickly back to sleep. In the morning the only recollection he has of this event is that the puppy's toenails scratched him. He wants desperately to see her.

9:07-- Winnie chases Matthew. He pets her, holds her, rolls around with her and generally decides that she is his forever. Except she's not. She belongs to our friends. Christy takes her home to meet the family.

9:45-- I decide that I am WAY too tired to take a shower. I climb into bed and fall asleep.

7:45-- I wake up. It takes me a minute to figure out why I smell like puppy. The events of yesterday come back quickly. I get up and take a shower. It's a very cute thing when a puppy smells like a puppy. It's entirely not when a full grown adult smells like one.

So how did you spend your Thursday?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chili Cook-Off

Confession: I've never been a huge chili fan. But, for the chili lovers out there who are shaking their collective heads in dismay, allow me to go into more detail. Some chili is good. If, say, there are no kidney beans, no spicy peppers and no undercooked onions. Also good = most chili that comes out of a can.

I know. I know. I just blasphemed the good name of chili forever.

I'm just saying, give me a hot dog and dump some canned chili on top and we're golden. Hand me a bowl of homemade chili brimming with semi-cooked onions and chock full of kidney beans in all their thick skinned glory and I'm gonna do my best to choke it down. Because my parents taught me to eat what is given to me without complaint, to try things again and again because I just might acquire a taste for them, and to think about the starving children in Ethiopia. Okay--that last one was probably my grandparents and they probably said China.

So it seems that our church has a Chili Cook-Off almost annually. This is one time a year too often for me but I understand that there are people who don't actually like the idea of Cheesecake Bake-Off and The Next Best Chocolatier Challenge. I don't know who these people are that would rather eat chili than cheesecake but I intend to find out. In any case, our (mostly) annual Chili Cook-Off is coming up on Sunday.

I'm thrilled.

Maybe someone will open a dozen cans of Hormel and toss them into a pot. Maybe someone will bring a White Chicken Chili because, well, in that case, yes please! Maybe someone will bring the chili that came to our house on the day we moved from California to Utah because that stuff was gooood. Maybe someone's idea of chili is to make a giant chef salad and just call it chili. Whatever. It'll be fine.

Except my husband keeps referring to it as a Chili Feed.

And, can I just tell you that for mostly inexplicable reasons, that phrase makes my stomach toss itself around like the aforementioned chef salad. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in Texas. Maybe it's because I could live the rest of my existence on fruits and vegetables and the occasional hamburger and be just fine. (Oh and CHEESE! Because CHEESE! and I could never be apart for long.) Maybe it's because, as I said to our secretary earlier today, it has something to do with the connotation of "feed" implying that one is putting food in a trough for barnyard animals. Then, add chili to the mix and I picture a bunch of humans, leaning over a trough, consuming mass quantities of chili at a rapid pace.

But, you know, I just tried it with other foods as well...foods that I like a lot better than chili. French fry feed. Cadbury Egg Feed. Tostada Feed. Starbucks Tall Peppermint Mocha Feed. Those all sound better, but only slightly. I suppose I just don't like thinking of myself on all fours, inhaling my food. Maybe it's the same reason that the scene in A Christmas Story where Randy pretends to be "Mommy's little piggy" makes me want to toss my mashed potatoes. Because when I hear "chili feed" I totally picture people covered in beans and meat and red sauce as though spoons were not provided.

We don't have to agree on the place that chili has in society and in our mouths. We don't have to agree on much of anything, really. But can we all please agree that putting "feed" on the end of any kind of culinary experience is both uncivilized* and also disgusting?

Especially chili.

*I am not saying that my husband is uncivilized or disgusting. He is neither of those things. In fact, I find him to be quite wonderful. It's just that he was born in Texas. Apparently you can take the newborn baby boy out of Texas, move him to Oregon and Minnesota and California and Utah, but you can't ever take the Texas out of the boy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jesus In His Hawt

Generally speaking, The Little Buddy takes a couple naps a week. He almost always has a quiet time and sometimes it happens to end with him waking up groggy. Today was one of those days. He padded down the stairs and found me in the kitchen.

"Hode me," he whispered. The dishwasher was open, dishes were in an unfinished state of being put away. I sat down on the floor, leaned my back against the stove, and pulled him into my lap. We snuggled there for a few minutes. I thought about kissing his head and ending our cuddle time. The dishwasher was open, for heaven's sake.

But the "cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow" line went through my head and I pulled my baby-child closer. We made quiet small talk. I don't remember what it was about. Eventually, I decided to discuss preschool level theology.

"Hey, where's Jesus?" I asked him.

"In heaven," he replied.

"Did He die?"


"But then what?"

Matthew replied, "He woes again."

"And He's where, now?"

"In heaven. I aweady said."

"Do you know He can be in your heart?" I asked.

"He aweady is in there," Matthew said.

"Oh! Did you ask Him to come in?"

"No. Cuz there is no woom," he informed me.

"Oh, there's always room for Jesus," I explained.

We talked about the cross and sin and resurrection. I told him that if Jesus came into his heart, he'd have to let him be the boss of his life forever. We discussed Heaven and we discussed separation from God. "I want Jesus to be in my hawt!" he told me.

Suddenly, from the top of the stairs came a bigger boy's voice, "Yes! Oh I am not gonna miss this!" The six-year-old flew down the stairs and crashed into the kitchen.

I told Matthew that all he had to do was pray and tell Jesus that he wanted Him in his heart and he wanted Him to be his boss. Because, well, he's not quite four and "boss" makes a lot more sense than "Lord" to a three-year-old. Matthew started to cry.

"I don't know how."

So I prayed and Matthew repeated after me.

Later, with a smile from ear to ear, he made several phone calls in which he informed people, "I invited Jesus into my hawt and He is going to stay fo-evah."

Do I think he has complete understanding of redemption and salvation? Absolutely not. Do I think that we will continue to explain it all to him so that he grows and learns and understands at age appropriate levels? Absolutely.

And I'm sure glad that I decided the dishwasher could wait.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hope of Summer

It's ten degrees. TEN. The heater runs incessantly. On account of all the TEN DEGREES! When I dropped The Rock Star off at school today I walked him 35 yards to his classroom, said goodbye, and walked back to the car. My lungs were aching with the chill. My face was prickly and taut. I came home and checked the weather. ONE DEGREE. As in, 31 below freezing. As in, 74 below what I consider to be a happy temperature.

I WENT TO COLLEGE AT THE BEACH, PEOPLE! It was consistently in the 70's and 80's. Occasionally, in the winter, we had to suffer through weather in the 60's. There may have been a time or two when the thermometer started with a 5 and we bundled up in sweaters and scarves. I miss San Diego beach weather. Because right now, I am looking forward to the pool in the dead heat of summer. I am looking past February and March and April and all the way to July and August when I will be warm.

The summers here are like the conjoined twins of the summers I grew up with. They are hot and with that comes tank tops and pools and splash pads and flip flops and I love it. The autumn is beautiful. I never really knew fall until I moved here. And I was very pleased to make her acquaintance. December, even, is fantastic. Snow on Christmas? Yes, please. Hot cocoa and spiced cider and a fire crackling in its place? Indeed with an emphatic head nod.

But winter.

When January rolls around I want to climb under my covers and only come out on the warm days in spring (which are separated by the bipolar cold days of spring). The skies are cold. Life is frozen. The earth is dead.

But underneath it all lies the hope of summer.

And when that doesn't feel like quite enough, there is the hope of San Diego.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I seriously wish I had something to do with how darn adorable this kid is. Not that I really had anything to do with my first born, either. I mean, I think God's the only one in control of that but still. With this kid, I can't even pretend that I was in charge of how cute he turned out.

I'm warning all the little ladies out there, when he flashes that smile you are going to melt into a PUDDLE OF COMPLETELY UNDONE. Because that's what happens to me. And those cheeks. I call them his "Chubby Cheeks" and I kiss them multiple times a day. "Can I kiss your chubby cheek?" I ask and he leans over until all the adorableness is smack against my lips.

Today, we were working on his letters. He knows 22 of them. I showed him the T. He pretended like he didn't know it. Then he put it up to his ear and said, "Heh-wo? What's your name again?" Then, in a high pitched funny voice he hissed, "I'm the T." He pulled it down from his ear, looked at me and, with a completely bored look, said "It's the T." His brother and I laughed hysterically.

He was really excited about his Christmas program back in December. I knew it was going to go one of two ways. Either he'd sing and dance and be adorable or he'd put on his grump face and refuse to even stand on the stage. Kiddo surprised me by doing neither. He walked up, waved to the crowd and promptly got shy. However, he remained onstage the entire time. He smiled occasionally and sang at least a few lines of each song. He was also completely OBSESSIVE about HIS spot. If another kid dared to stand on MATTHEW'S star, he was NOT HAPPY. Apparently I need to work with him on improvising the scene if it doesn't go absolutely according to plan. Because it never goes absolutely according to plan.

There are days when I don't know that I'll live through the stunts this kid pulls. And then there are days when I can't believe he's the same child who used to SCREAM ANGRY BLOODY MURDER. ALL. THE. TIME. Because, look at that smile...

Cuteness. Times infinity.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Play Date

The Rock Star had a play date this afternoon.

The kid he had over was seriously funny. I don't even remember all the hilarious things he said but I remember a couple.

1. As soon as I finish with college, I think I'll go to high school.

2. Do not give me a nickel. Don't let me anywhere near a nickel. I used to eat them and they'd get stuck in my throat so I can't be around nickels.

He was also really polite. He ate his entire bowl of macaroni-and-cheese and his banana. He said, "Thank you for my lunch." I made them cupcakes. He thanked me for that too. The older boys got along really well and even included Matthew. He stayed for three hours and there was never a tear shed, a voice raised or a fight had.

It was really refreshing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


It was June, the last time my brother and sister-in-law saw my boys. So it makes sense that Heather would say about Garrett, "He seems so grown up." But when she said it, suddenly the clouds lifted and the feeling that I just couldn't put my finger on was clear and almost tangible. 

He's just about two weeks shy of six-and-a-half. But I think he's going on fourteen. Or forty. He says things like, "Come see the satellite I built out of my erector set." And when I go look, sure enough, he's fashioned a sculpture that looks remarkably like a satellite. It swivels back and forth when he turns it on. I don't know how he knows what a satellite is, much less how he's managed to make a tiny replica.

For better or worse, he's got my nurture and my nature running through his veins. "Matthew!" he chastises. "This playroom is not cleaned up at all. It's going to make my head explode." If that kid had a dime for every time I told him my head was going to explode he could pay someone to come clean the room for him.

He giggles. But it's more purposeful now. He's usually laughing at something that he thinks is actually funny instead of just cracking up for the joy of laughter. He giggles a lot. Because there's always a joke about poop or gas to be laughed at--even if he has to make it up himself.

He eats whatever is put on his plate without complaining. It might take him an hour, there might be a look of general discontent on his face, but he eats it. He loves broccoli, cauliflower, salad, all manner of seafood, even beets (which, for the record, are not my personal favorite). A once self professed potato hater, he now eats even those as long as he has salad dressing to dip them in or gravy to pour on top. He's polite and thankful because he is learning that he HAS when there are so many who HAVE NOT. 

He has a mop on his head that is on its way to being "surfer hair." The bangs are a problem. They're way to long to spike up and way too short to effectively sweep across his forehead. So they just kind of hang there. He says the words "surf" and "camp" together in a sentence at least once a day but usually more like once an hour. Since seeing Chasing Mavericks, he now talks about maybe, one day, getting big enough and brave enough to surf Mavericks. His mother, on the other hand, thinks he should stick to one foot waves for the rest of his life. Still, he holds his breath all the time, makes me count how long he can do it--just in case he's ever being held under the water for too long.
 He does math, reads books, and discusses theology. In some ways he really is all grown up.

But he crawls into bed with me in the morning before it's time to get up and molds himself to me under the warmth of the covers. His skinny body is covered in Angry Bird pajamas and he pushes his head against my chin. I breathe deeply. Johnson & Johnson's No Tears Baby Shampoo fills my nose because there are some things that I'm not willing to let go of and baby shampoo is one of them. We stay like that until the alarm howls. I know, too well, that these days are numbered.

He is one third raised already.

He is well on his way to becoming the man he will be.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas 2012

Ahem. Let us just pretend that it's not already January 6 and I'm only now getting around to blogging about Christmas. Shall we? 

On the 23rd of December my boys looked like this. Just go ahead and lock up your daughters now because, in approximately 24 and 27 years, respectively, I'll allow them to start dating and, well, they clean up nice.

On Christmas Eve we had a church service. Snow was coming down like crazy so we left really early and went out to a late lunch right by the church. (More on that in another post.) After church that night, we headed home and ate some snacks. After we all got into comfy clothes and jammies, we read the Christmas story from Matthew.

Then it was present time.

On Christmas Eve we open the things from Troy's side of the family. This year we also decided to open the presents from my extended family. Garrett had been begging for Battleship for awhile. The cousin who drew his name in the exchange got it for him, along with a little Lego set. Before he opened it he said, "I think this box is my Battleship game!" He's getting pretty smart...

Matthew's jammies matched the season. He also might have been the absolute cutest that either boy has ever been at Christmas. He totally got it all and he was so excited and thankful for each and every gift. It was really adorable to watch.

Garrett borrowed our camera and snapped this shot. We tried to smile instead of yelling, "Be careful! Don't drop it! We can't replace it!" I think it turned out okay. I mean, we're missing rather vital parts of our heads but it's pretty good for a six-year-old.

We set out cookies and milk for Santa and reindeer food for his traveling companions. Troy braved the icy roads and crazy last minute shoppers to pick up batteries for one of the gifts the boys had received. I set to getting the kids in bed. I made the mistake of telling them that I received a text on my phone saying that Santa had been spotted in Colorado. Garrett freaked out because they weren't in bed yet. He dove under his covers and started to cry, "Mommy! Get in bed! Santa won't come if you're up. OH NO! DADDY IS STILL OUT THERE! CALL HIM NOW! SANTA WON'T COME MOMMY WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?" The hysteria reached such epic levels that I had to do something.

I looked at my phone. "Oh!" I said. "Sorry, Garrett. I read it wrong. Santa was spotted in Connecticut. We still have plenty of time." 

But he'd worked himself into a frenzy and suddenly his emotions were completely out of control. He started telling me that he was afraid of Santa because it is weird for someone to wander around his house in the dark and could he sleep in my room and would Santa come upstairs and spy on him while he was sleeping and oh the humanity? Eventually I got him calmed down enough to fall asleep. By the morning he was all fun and games and Santa Clause has been here and HOORAY!

We opened stockings and Santa presents in our pajamas. Then we had a big protein filled breakfast, got dressed and opened everything from each other.

The Little Buddy got a book about a monkey. Among other things.

The Rock Star got a rash guard for surf camp. He begged for this one day and I bought it while Troy distracted the kids. He'd tried on a few different ones and this one fit the very best. Even though he knows how to read, he said, "Is it the Rip Curl one?" I said no. He said, "Is it O'Neill?" I said no. "Well, then, what is it?" he asked.

"Body Glove."

"Oh. The Body Glove rash guard. Okay. THANKS!"

Apparently my six-year-old is working hard on knowing the differences between his surf brands.

Troy found each boy a jersey on Ebay. Matthew received a super cheap jersey of the best Charger of all time. (Yah Tomlinson!)

Garrett decided awhile ago that Oregon State has the best mascot of any school of all time of ever. Because he loves beavers he has become obsessed with OSU. He was happy with his jersey which he put on over the top of his rash guard. He then sported Rash Guard Jersey for half the day.

Later in the day, we opened presents from my parents and half Skyped with them. We have no idea what was going on but my parents were able to see and hear us while we could only hear them.

We had a great day relaxing, not getting chickens, building Legos, and hanging out.

I made chicken*, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce for dinner. We gathered around and gave thanks for the baby Jesus born to die.

*In the interest of full disclosure, it is important for me to state that Costco made my chicken. I merely reheated it. God bless Costco.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Final Elf Installment

Last Sunday, we had family leave just after church and more family arrive about two hours later. In those two hours we flew through the house cleaning the most important things. Like clumps of dog hair embedded in the carpet, a layer of dust settled on every shelf and table, and puddles of _____________*. I'm just keepin' it real. 

So, now that my brother, his wife, and their puppy are headed back to San Diego, I have time to share our final elf pictures.

One night, they were up to absolutely no good. This Winter Wonderland scene is courtesy of my husband who laid out the entire thing. This included a trip to Walmart because we didn't have any regular sized marshmallows.
 December 21
(For you, Missy. As requested.)

Our boys' bathroom is done in a Hawaii theme and we keep a spare roll of toilet paper in a sand bucket on the back of the toilet. You can probably imagine how much my son jumped when he groggily padded into the bathroom and started using the commode only to be met with his elf's staring eyes.

December 22

Garrett made an elf at school. Of course, his "real" elf, Finn, needed to hang out with his his craft elf "Penguin." Why "Penguin" you ask? I have no earthly idea. Matthew's elf decided to have some serious fun that night. He's riding Stinky the trash truck and if you think Stinky didn't start talking loudly while this scene was being set up, you'd be wrong. 

December 23

It was finally time for the elves last night with us. The boys woke up to them both reading the Christmas story out of Garrett's action Bible. I'm certainly glad that the elves know the true meaning of the holiday.

December 24

That's all until next year. Perhaps next year they will arrive on December 19th so as to spare us the agony of trying to find so many spots for them.

And. Now. Stop reading if you get squeamish around bodily fluids.

*Originally this read: Puddles of coagulated urine at the base of the toilet. But then my husband thought it was so nauseating that people would boycott this post, if not the blog altogether. So I decided to put it way down here. If you're still reading I sincerely hope you don't stop coming over here based solely on congealed liquid waste.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


We bundled up after lunch and headed over to the sledding hill. There was sledding and giggling and merriment. Then Garrett said, "Do you want to lick some of my ice, Matthew?"

The little one was sitting in my lap. He turned to me with wide eyes and whispered, "Where did he get the mice?"