July 27, 2011

The Frosting

Well I'm home from Utah.  My oldest son and I took a 4 day trip to my home state to check out colleges for him.  He would like to attend BYU but if he can't get in (it's very competitive) then he will look elsewhere.  The other two colleges we toured were University of Utah and also Utah State University.  They each had their own flavor and it was funny to see how we felt after each tour.  They are pretty sly about putting the most outgoing attractive students to head up their tours.  U of U had more ethnically diverse guides who were edgy and cool.  BYU's tour guide was a typical clean cut returned missionary with a sense of humor and a way of working in a spiritual thought with every other stop.  But I think they pulled out all the stops with the cute peppy blond tour guide at Utah State.  Yes she was married (at 22), but she seemed to be the whisper of promise about the kind of girl Big Boy would like to date at Utah State.  Pretty sneaky USU.

We also attended a wedding for my sister.  It's a third marriage for her and it was very simple and sweet.  It was held in the church's cultural hall.  The ceremony was nice.  Before the ceremony she had a close friend give a short speech which begs to be blogged about....  Perhaps I shouldn't, but I just cannot resist.  Here goes.  Her friend told us all that this analogy had come to her the night before.  She told us that marriage was like a cake.  That there were many ingredients in a cake that make it good.  Then she went down the list of cake ingredients and made comparisons.  The eggs, for instance are the two living things in a cake and so the two eggs represented the bride and groom.  The vanilla and salt represented the spice in a cake and thus the spice in your marriage which, she said, meant the dating that needed to continue even after the wedding day.  The baking soda represented the ingredient that makes everything rise and so it was compared to prayer and scripture study which you should do as a married couple.  (I thought that one was good).  I must have zoned out during the flour part but it represented something I can't remember.  I was wide awake however when she mentioned the last ingredient, the frosting on your cake.  The best sweetest part of marriage.  The frosting was compared to the intimacy in your marriage.  She went on to explain that the frosting doesn't always turn out right the first time you try and frost the cake.... but with practice you can frost your cake with perfection.  Even my perfect brother Eric was snickering along with me on that line.  You know, it was really sound advice but the setting was perhaps not the best for such a speech.

And the jokes about frosting just kept coming all evening long.  They served cake after the wedding, and my 17 yr old son said that he probably ought to take a piece that didn't have too much frosting since he wasn't married yet.  I told him I wanted a corner piece.  We went over by some relatives and commented on how good the frosting was.  That someone must have really practiced a lot before decorating that cake.  So smooth...  so white... okay I have gone too far, I realize this.  I need help!  But even my 82 yr old father said rather loudly after they kissed as man and wife "They need to practice that."  Perhaps the apple doesn't fall far from the tree....

July 22, 2011

Utah Bound

I think it is safe to say that my children need me.  It has taken us the last 4 hours to pack for our trip to Utah.  Just for me and Big Boy!  He had to wash shirts to bring (told him to do it yesterday), couldn't find his wallet (under a towel in the bathroom).  I had to re-pack all his pants (he took them out looking for his wallet).  While he was putting away (per-mom's-request) the violin that had been left out for a second damaging this month I asked "what will you do when you are away from home and don't have me telling you what to do all the time?" His response was that he guessed he'd have to suddenly grow up and move on.  As if he could...  What a sec, maybe he could but he doesn't because I am always here reminding him to do stuff.  It's an interesting thought to ponder anyways.

This time when we go to Utah I am going to have to view the mountains with a different perspective.  Our family just signed on the dotted line to stay in the military.  This means we won't be moving back to Utah any time soon.  I have always been okay with that. Although it would be nice to be closer to family, the longer we have been away, the more we like our independence.  That may sound harsh, but we enjoy the diversity here, we like the schools, we don't have to be so involved in family dramas, and we vote however we want to.  Our kids are strong in the church even though they are in the minority.  Or is it because they are in the minority- who knows.  Whatever the case I have come to believe that it's not where you live but how you live that matters the most.

I used to dislike it when Easterners would come to BYU for college in my home town of Provo and dislike everything about it.  No one hates that kind of critical talk more than the locals.  Now I find myself seeing the little weird things that only I seem to notice.  I am sure my family dislikes it when I point these Utahisms out to them.  I will try and hold my tongue this time.  Utah is a great place.  It's THE place I hear.  I love many many things about it.  But I guess I have changed so much since I lived there that I don't really fit in there anymore.  Not blonde, do recycle, make green salad and hate Jello, not outraged at Obama.

I always love books or movies that show change (hope and change even more-ha!) in a character.  Now I've turned (somewhat) into one of those East coast people who I disliked once upon a time. Talk about weird!  Now all I want is love and acceptance from my family members who just don't get me now.  Or at least less ribbing from them.  I wonder how they will take the news of us signing on for more military time.  Probably not well.  I will have to borrow Big Boy's line about finally growing up and moving on.  Nope, That's not insulting at all :  )

July 19, 2011

Do They Need Me?

I have had so many things run through my head that I want to blog about, but alas I've had no time to do it.  Yesterday I spent over 6 hours in the car.  I drove my 14 yr old and his buddy to EFY in Virginia, had lunch with them and then drove home.  I listened to an entire book on tape (Al Capone does my shirts- I recommend it!), chewed a whole pack of gum (yes my jaw is sore today), worried about the kids left at home without me, nearly got into an accident and then worried all the more for the rest of the drive home.  What would my family do if I died in a car crash? Strangely T had the same thoughts at work yesterday.  "What if she were in a fatal car accident?"  Thank goodness I made it home safe but cranky.  I don't really like driving that much in one day by myself.  I certainly hope Middle Boy has a lot of spiritual experiences at EFY to make it all worth it.  Buena Vista is the town he is in.  It is a pretty small town.  Dropping them off at their dorm room where they will be spending an entire week brought back a lot of memories of when my parents dropped me in a similar dorm in a similar small Colorado town many years ago.  Then they took me to lunch just as I did with my son.  Middle Boy wondered aloud about his potential room mates.  He is with his friend but there are also two more boys in his room with him.  I was glad to have a chance to speak to him last night and find out that they were nice.

Upon returning I expected to find that the house had been turned upside down.  I thought probably nothing much happened outside of video games and movies, but that wasn't the case.  I have been hearing tales of sprinklers and squirt gun fights in the back yard, painting, dog walking, swim team practice,  & dishes done (sorta).  Maybe they don't need a mom as much as I thought...

Ah yes, there is fighting going on in the next room.  I believe I am needed after all : )

*ps to this post... Middle Boy has been home for 4 days and reports that he LOVED EFY.  When I asked what he loved the most he said that he loved meeting new people, the testimony meeting and the medley they sang as a group.... I was stunned and asked my husband later on the phone where the real Middle Boy was.  "medley singing" isn't a usual favorite of his...

July 15, 2011

Milano Memories

Today I had my new-driver-son drive me to the library.  He needs driving hours and since our local library is being renovated it's a good 20 minutes out to the next closest one.  I thought it was a pretty easy straight shot that wouldn't stress him (or me) out too much.  I thought wrong.  I could see my life pass before my eyes at least 3 different times.  Since I have no filter I utter every worried thought that comes into my head. His confidence must suffer when he drives with me.  I cherish the stop lights during our drives.  It's when I let my knuckles relax from the death grip I have on the armrest.  I was literally kissing our driveway when we got home for good this afternoon.

When we arrived at the library I let out a huge sigh.  Half way there, I thought.  On the way in we got a look at a new baby in nothing but his diaper kicking back in his infant car seat.  His eyes were bothered by the afternoon sun and his mother didn't bother to turn him around.  "Cute baby" I told her admiring all the rolls of fat and remembering the same rolls I used to squeeze on my babies.  On the way out we saw some vending machines.  I felt the need for some chocolate to make it through the drive home.  Twix was my drug of choice.  Big Boy chose milano cookies.  I told him I thought I knew why he liked those so much and his reply was "is it because I am your son?"  ha ha. So. dang. funny.  "No actually it's because when you were about that baby's age I used them on you more than once to calm you in the car."  It's true.  Even though I knew the rules about introducing solid foods to babies of a certain age, in moments of desperation I succumbed and gave a 2 month old cookies.  I had read the baby books.  But my new parent ears could not really stand the sound of my son's cries in the car.  I had bought a case of sucrose water from the pharmacy before we left Utah and moved to the Bay Area.  That is what the nurses in the infant nursery at the hospital used, who was I to question their techniques?  He loved the stuff and it was quite soother for stress in the car.  When the case of sugar water ran out, I asked my pediatrician where I could get more and he thought I was nuts and told me I didn't need that at all.  Don't you just love being criticized by a pediatrician? Yeah, me too.  So I smartly went with milanos and didn't mention it to the doctor at his next visit.  I weighed the two evils and went with possible food allergies and a quiet car.  It was (ironically) my newness to driving in a crowded area with actual traffic on El Camino that stressed me to the point of such bad parenting.  But as I held the cookie in his mouth while driving,  I watched him gum down his biscuit cookie smearing a messy chocolate center all over his happy face, calming down beautifully.  I probably told him how good it was.  That Pepperidge Farms really knows what they are doing.

We are now in the process of searching for a college for Big Boy to attend.  He has taken the ACT and met with his counselor at school.  We are headed west for some college visits at the end of the month.  This is the big time!  It has been interesting to see him spread his wings a bit.  Taking on his eagle project and playing the boss for a Saturday morning of trail clearing.  I am not sure how ready I am for this next step.  Perhaps I will need a bag of mint milano cookies to sooth me while I think it over.

July 08, 2011

Family Motto

Our Family has a motto.  Sometimes we forget our motto.  Sometimes we forget that we even have a motto.  When evening rolls around and we are all together my husband will sometimes ask our crew "what is our family's motto?"  Silence is the usual response.  The family motto was my husband's idea and I can sometimes see his frustration that none of us can remember this motto.  He reminds us what it is and a couple weeks later he asks what it is again, crickets chirp while we all search the empty spaces in our heads trying to recall the motto for our loving Father.  One time a scout-aged son of mine replied "Do Your Best!" but alas that is the boy scout motto not our family motto.  What's the motto with us anyways? (sorry, I can't resist a pun-op).  This week we were saying that our second motto should be the Lion King's motto joke "What's the Motto With You?" Then this morning I thought of something for our family's third motto.  As I went to spread butter on my waffle I looked at the sad sad state of our butter dish.  There was messy spreading of butter everywhere from last nights corn on the cob, crumbs were throughout.  "When I get some butter" I bragged, "I always try and shape the butter back into a cube taking away crumbs as I see them"  I believe in leaving the butter better than when I found it.  Sorta like the 'leave no trace' scout motto.  Our third motto ought to be "Leave the Butter Better."  It has a nice ring to it don't you think?

I think I have new motivation to remember our family motto this week.  Big Girl has encountered a neighborhood bully.  Let me describe him to you.  He often has a mohawk and rides around the block on his bike at high speed without helmet or shoes.  He's often the kid in class who can't sit still.  I've worked with him in school, and he struggles.  We have always treated him and his sisters (who are lovely) with kindness. Sometimes he makes my eyebrows raise and I think to myself "where is your mother!" as he rides on his stomach face first down the hill on a skateboard in the middle of the street.  I have sensed a bit of a crush on his part toward Big Girl and perhaps this is the reason for his new teasing at the pool.  Both he and a friend have been asking her repeatedly why she is swimming with the younger pre-team swimmers instead of being on the swim team.  It's starting to bug her.  So the other day I went up to him (he totally knows me so I felt more comfortable doing this) and asked why he kept asking her age if he already knew it.  He hasn't bugged her since.  T happened to be present when I jumped up out of my seat to remedy the situation.  He has a much cooler head than I.  He told me I needed to let these things go.  I argued that if you don't put a bully in his place it will only escalate.  And I also reminded him of our family's motto "All For One & One For ALL!"  I told Big Girl that the next time Mr Mohawk says anything to her she should remind him of her three older brothers and of the motto in our family.  But first I better remind the brothers what the motto is.

PS We also have a family SONG!  Everyone remembers the song.

July 04, 2011

Thoughts on Independence

Vive la Indepenace
Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  A day when we as Americans celebrate how great we are.  We rejoice in our independence.  I am 100% behind being proud of our American heritage but as I have aged I see some things a bit differently.  Sometimes our free thinking, we-know-it-all attitude limits our ability to embrace or even see other cultures.  Does anyone else find it funny (or is it just me) that every alien invasion movie has the USA as the prime invasion location?  If I were an alien thinking about visiting earth.  I would probably not start with Ohio.  I'd hit Paris France first.  Maybe that's not very patriotic.  I apologize if I offend.

When we lived overseas I had my eyes opened wider as to the way other cultures lived.  There was a blind obedience to the rules in Asia that sometimes left me wondering if they were born without any will to think for themselves.  Here's an example for you.  One day my family went to a local amusement park on a rainy day. The park was unbelievably empty.  We counted ourselves lucky to be away from the crowd in a city of 14 million even if we were a bit soggy.  My kids kept wanting to ride the merry-go-round.  They were the only ones in sight and yet each time as the ride ended we were escorted out and around and through the chained line-designation space, through the turnstile and back onto the ride.  I tried through my often used charades method of conversation, to persuade the worker just to let them stay on their horses instead of getting off and on again one minute later.  She would not be convinced.  She had been told the rules and she was there to strictly follow them, line or no line.  I found this idea so weird.  Why couldn't she see the silliness of this?  As we drove home the thought came to me that perhaps in a country that has been oppressed by government for so long, free thinking isn't their way.  And yet there is room for admiration in that kind of blind obedience.  Too much free thinking makes for bad case scenarios in many ways as well.  In the USA we have far more crime, corruption, and people basically making poor choices causing chaos.  In Seoul Korea there were no guns, no crime, and no one would ever think of doing something to lose face and shame their family or their country's name.  We could do with some of that kind of pride (or is it fear of what others may think) over here.  American's were somewhat looked down upon by the Koreans was the impression I got.  We were fat and lazy.  We smelled like cheese.  We didn't know how to properly recycle.  The US soldiers drank too much and were always getting into trouble.  We had no clue how to respect our elders.  We were easy to take advantage of.  Sloppy dressers who let our homes become cluttered.  We did not push our children enough to do well academically, and were always overexposing ourselves to the elements.  Silly Americans!

So tonight as I hear the illegal bottle rockets going off in my neighborhood putting us all at risk for a brush fire I am thinking of the hardworking obedient people of Seoul.  The ones who would never be so free spirited as to think of doing such a thing.  But who also probably could not have produced the likes of Thomas Edison, Betsy Ross, or Joseph Smith for that matter.  Happy Independence Day!  Let's all cherish our freedoms and treat them with the respect (and boundaries) they deserve. 

July 03, 2011

The Boys are Back (from scout camp)

Here are the signs....

Courtesy of Big Boy

Remember the poem 'If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be a sweetie-wipe the seatie'  I need one of those framed in my bathroom.  Also this toilet had been left un-flushed.  Normal...

Someone did the leather work merit badge I see...

Someone presented me with this awesome heart shaped rock... at 1:00 in the morning

And that someone is seen here.