Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kettles, Packages, and Noodles: Some Things That Make Me Happy

It's time for a favorites list, isn't it? I think so. Here are some things I'm kinda crazy about right now.

Ok, I was all excited about my local grocery store being bought out by Macey's grocery, which has great prices and selection. I rarely rarely went to the Macey's that was a few towns away because a) it was a few towns away and b) it was crowded! I don't like crowds. I mean it wasn't Walmart crowded, vicious and soulless, but it was always packed. And it attracted couponers like nobody's business so whatever happened to be on sale that week was always sold out. Aargh. It encouraged me to have bad feelings toward bargain shoppers and as a rule I try to not have bad feelings toward any particular shopping constituency. So I loyally frequented my own local (empty but for Saturday nights) grocery store because it was, well, local and empty. When word came that Macey's was moving in, I was so excited to have one close by. Little did I realize that with it would come the crowds I so despise. So it's a good-bad situation. And don't worry, I'm coping, but what I really wanted to talk about before I got mired in all the exposition was THIS!!

These!! Bear River Valley cereals, have you seen them? They sell them at Macey's and they are oh so blog-worthy. I had all but cut out cold cereal for lots of high and moral reasons I'm not going into and then I discovered this line. Yes, they are still a processed food, but here is the list of ingredients from this very bag and you can't tell me that your heart doesn't get a little thrill when reading it: Whole grain wheat, evaporated-milled sugar, gelatin. Freshness preserved with vitamin E (mixed tocopherols). Three (THREE) ingredients plus mixed tocopherols which I don't know what they are but I'm trying to bury my head in the sand on that one so don't tell me if you do know. They are more expensive but they are made in Utah and they have far less packaging than normal cereals. There are I think six or so varieties and I am so very pleased with them.

And this... I adore.

I don't know if you know this about me, but I am secretly British. And when I wear my Burberry London perfume it's easier for me to fantasize about walking through the drizzly streets of London with my belted trench and plaid scarf and answering to the name of Pippa. Popping into little bookshops in Notting Hill and having Hugh Grant fall for me. And if you are still buying perfume at a department store and haven't tried fragrancenet.com, you need to. They have awesome prices on so many great perfumes and always have a discount code to use.

But I'm not only stuck in the city. Pippa just as often hails from the countryside and now I've found her perfect address. Edgecombe St. Mary.

If you haven't read this book ohmygosh go do so now! It is easily one of the best books I've read in a long long time. It's so charming. And witty. And biting, but gently so. And perfectly lovely. I will actually read this one again, which I rarely do, because each word is so enjoyable, like an Austen novel, where getting there is 95% of the fun. I'm glad I have a hard copy of this book, it's meant for writing your name in the front cover and dog-earing.

Every good book needs a companion beverage. My recommendation for this fall would be Nutella hot chocolate. I'll give you a moment to swoon ................................. It's simple really; you mix hot milk with a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder, two spoonfuls of Nutella, a bit of cream (whipped or not) and a dash of vanilla. It's okay to cry when you take your first sip. Lots of people do. 
Here's to you, Nutella, sweet nectar of life. I love you dearly.

I recently got on Pinterest and it turns out it's not really my thing, but the good that has come out of it is my finding this blog: Hair Romance. All those pictures of blond romantic updos you've seen everybody pinning? They're from this blog and they're beautiful.

I estimate that in one year, my hair will be long enough for most of these and I'm so excited and determined not to cut!

I'm also crazy about my little brother getting married last weekend. Or at least, I yanked myself back from the brink of crazy right in the nick of time. I am embarrassed to say I was crying more than anyone there. My mom, the bride's dad, everyone. At one point I was this close to breaking into heaving sobs. I could feel my shoulders start to convulse and push me forward into my own lap but fortunately was able to catch myself just before I lost it. What was the matter with me? I think the reasons are almost to tender to share, but seeing him being joined to someone who knows exactly who he is and loves him with all her heart made my little cup of joy overflow.

Photo by Stephanie Ryan

I mean really. Could they be any more gorgeous? It's like a solar eclipse. You can only look at them through a paper plate with a hole poked in the middle.

Also! I'm uber happy about this new blogger setup. This has been the easiest post I've ever put together. Let's hear it for cutting and pasting! And for a preview function that (imagine) gives a true preview! And for running out of steam by the end of a post......

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Agony and the Ecstasy (except without the ecstasy)

I sent my littlest off to school last week (waah!) and now my boobs hurt. Let me explain.

Tommy (who has requested to be called "Thomas" at school--What?!) is four. He is my precious. My baby. I baby him. I don't care what people think or say or how awful he turns out, I can absolutely not help it. Darron asked me if I had a favorite kid the other day and I truthfully told him no. He acted all disbelieving and asked coyly, "Really? Not Tommy?" And I can see how he would think that, seeing as how I coddle him and always have my fingers entangled in his golden curls whenever he is within arm's reach and can't stop smelling or smooching him. All signs point to him being my favorite. But it's not that. It's that he's my baby.

When my other kids reach milestones, I feel pangs of nostalgia and sadness. Sometimes faint, sometimes overwhelming, but always tempered with a bit of pride and excitement at seeing them mature and grow. Not so with Tommy. It's all pain. Real-my heart feels like it's being pulled from my chest-pain. He is getting farther and farther away from me, from that little infant I carried and rocked and nursed and cuddled, and in a few short years he will leave me forever. For some other woman. Oh, the issues. I tell him all the time that he can't ever leave me, and then I pretend to cry. Not like a real fake cry, where I want him to think that I actually am, but a big clown frown boo-hoo. He hates it. He doesn' t like to be teased and this drives him nuts. Feeling sort of guilty the other day and rather emotionally healthy, I came up to him and told him all serious that I although I liked to pretend that he couldn't ever grow up and leave me because I would cry forever, I really actually was glad he was growing and proud of how big he was and that I was happy to see him go to school. In other words I LIED right to him. It seemed to make him happy so I felt good about it. But it was a lie. I'm not glad; I'm not proud; I'm not happy. Every bit of me hurts.

He is the last child I will ever breastfeed (sob). You know that feeling you would get (breast-feeders out there) when you thought of your child, or heard them cry, or it had just been awhile since you last nursed and you were ready...that kind of cinching, almost stinging sensation as your milk came in? It's been years for me, but I still get a little residual psychsomatic let-down pain when I think about my babies. I would liken it to a person who loses a limb, yet occasionally gets ghost pain where the leg used to be. And then that pinching feeling travels from my boobs to my heart, and I can hardly bear it, can hardly breathe.

You may be saying, Heather! Why don't you just have another baby? Well, friends, the thing is, I don't want another child, particularly; I am happy with the ones I have. I feel I owe it to them to stay sane and I think four is this mom's limit. And hello! having another would not solve the inherent problem with babies. They grow up and leave you, every time.

Here he is breaking my heart, I mean, going to his first day of preschool and abandoning the woman who gave her blood, metabolism, and short term memory to bring him and his luscious silken curls into this world. He walked into his classroom with a smile on his face as tears slipped down mine and I quickly put on my sunglasses. When I came to pick him up two hours later, I resisted the urge to sweep him into my arms and smother him with kisses...until I reached the parking lot, where I very nonchalantly picked him up, gave him a quick kiss, like totally not overwhelming or needy at all, and then surreptitiously nuzzled his hair. We got to the car and he asked me to put him down now and I realized I'd been standing there for maybe thirty seconds just smelling him and kind of rocking back and forth. Going "mmmmmm".

Who do they think they are, these children that drop from heaven into our arms? Without any warning they sideswipe us with this powerful, terrible love that addles our brains and completely commandeers our hearts. They're tyrants, these ones. Our lives are no longer our own. Our sleep is never again easy. They come, they conquer, then immediately begin leaving us.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Love Poem

My love, she is fair,

with her wild tangly hair,

and rows of white pearls when she smiles.

Her alabaster brow enchants me (and how!)

and her backside, it goes on for miles.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Show Us Your...

So you've noticed I have a thing for ... dot dot dots. Also air quotes. But those don't translate as well in writing. Just know that when you see "this", I'm actually doing "this".

Any subscribers to House Beautiful out there? It's my favorite design magazine. Well, magazine period. Not too whimsical, not too rustic, not too pretentious (are you reading this, Elle Decor?). Just jaw-dropping perfection on every page. They have a little segment called "C'mon, Show Us Your..." where they have different designers send in photos of something in their house--their entry table one month, or their favorite vacation memento another, stuff like that. And of course I lo-o-o-ove it. I don't like the styled, professional shots some of em send in, but I ado-o-o-ore the honest, snapshot peeks into a real life. And as I leaned out of bed one evening to pull a little somethin' fer snacking out of my bedside table drawer, I was overcome...

...WITH OPTIONS!!! And also with the idea for this post. So c'mon. Show us your bedside table. Well, describe it anyway. Oh, and as a bonus, if anyone can outdo me in sheer volume of snacks, I will mail them the treat of their choosing. It will be so worth the validation. And I'll be in the candy aisle anyway.

P.S. Other things on my table: phone charger, Lands' End and Ballard Designs catalogues, tissues, and my Nook. Now you know.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Am I the Only One...

...who thinks "ex-pat" is the most pretentious word? At first I typed it in the title and then I was all--what? Wait! I hate that word!

I used to be a California girl and proud.

Oh really?! What part?


What's that? Couldn't hear you.

CENTRAL! You know, FRESNO? The wet European armpit of the Golden State? Two steps up from Bakersfield, but 13 steps below everything else? The jewel of the 99? And speaking of 99, if the thermometer registers anything below that between the months of June and October, it's considered "balmy".

I'm going on my 17th year out here in the promised land. Year One was rough. Brutal. My Beatles sweatshirt and penny loafers (aka my "winter gear") got me through mid-September then it started getting all...cold. Like...cold. You wouldn't believe it. It started snowing and just never stopped for seven months. And you know what? I found I didn't care for it--snow. No, not one bit. People would be out all over campus having snowball fights and playing in the snow and pushing people into the snow (but only if they really liked 'em)...ugh, can you imagine? Horrors!

And then....well....

Like so many other things I've been morally certain about for decades only to find myself making a grand about face-- I about faced. You wanna know what? I realized the cold isn't so bad. It's actually kind of...okay. It's true I've birthed four babies. Weight and hormones in a general tizzy for ten solid years surely had something to do with the change. But change I have. I like a little nip in the air. And the snow is just not awful anymore. I even made a snowman one year. Okay, now that still stunk, and let it be noted that if you throw a snowball at me, you will die--slowly and at a time when you do not expect it--but then I just went inside, got snuggled up in a squooshie blankie with some hot chocolate and extra whipped cream and things just got so so nice again. I find I like winter, I do. Winter's all sweaters and Christmas and long nights and dreams of tropical (yet balmy) vacations and baking and homey-ness. The anticipation gathers during the fall, when the temperatures begin to drop and the urge to make large pots of soup propels you into the kitchen. You know you will have time to read--the great, long epic novels that take full concentration and plenty of chocolate to get through. Because when the sun sets at 4:30, what else are you gonna do? Kids get cuddlier, dessert stops being optional, good night kisses get more interesting more often, the charm of old movies becomes irresistible, and life turns decidedly sweeter.

It's long, I'll admit, and it can get tedious, but then just when you think you've had enough and you must have vitamin D or truly die, you get a day of 45ยบ and weak sunlight and it's just enough, that brief reminder that warmer days are ahead. Several months of hinting, whispering, fluctuating up and down the thermometer, eases you back into the warmth. And how I love that tease of Spring. A time when you never know what the weather will be like from day-to-day. Well of course you could know if you checked the forecast, but some of us like the suspense. I love cardigans, scarves, and sandals together, running from the parking lot into the store because a storm broke out as you were driving and you didn't bring an umbrella, canceled soccer games (and how!), wind and hail and low rumbling thunder. The air is clean and wonderfully breathable again.

And then, just like *that* all that lovely cool is taken down by a quick sweep to the leg by ugly horrid beastly summer. No one likes a bully. Hot, swampy and purely dreadful, it saps the will to live and move right out of your sticky odorous body. Languishing on the couch with the fan on is really the only appropriate activity under such circumstances, but one's children seem to think that one must still feed them. And one's husband finds it more than a little interesting that when he arrives home in the evening, one is still in the exact same spot he left one in that morning, although in shockingly more deplorable surroundings. What has one been doing all day, he may be tempted to ask. And if he gives into temptation and does indeed ask, one cannot even respond in tones of righteous indignation and miffed sarcasm, because the answer is so obviously NOT A DARNED THING.

Except for the sweating, of course. Oh how unattractive! Oh how undemure! Is there anything more uncomfortable than sweat-soaked clothing sticking to sweat-soaked skin? If you can, for whatever reason, spend your days in a bikini I don't think you have room to complain. I myself cannot and do not. Wear a bikini that is. Nor should I. Not only for the purpose of modesty, but for the perpetuation of the species do I remain covered. And not only covered, but cinched, hefted, and redistributed through the use of highly developed undergarments, belts, and pulleys. No innocent young woman needs to know what happens to all her buoyant femininity once the babies come. Because the babies need to keep coming, or so I've heard. Especially if one more of my own darling babes sweetly asks me in a tone of horror what all those gross lines on my stomach/back/legs are. Or if there's a BABY IN THERE!!! Overly curious children don't tend to live long enough to pay off the national debt and absorb all the nuclear waste. Stop poking at me and just SWIM already!!! For those who must wear clothing, summer isn't just hot, it's hellish.

Is it any surprise then that I am secretly grateful for this long chilly drawn out spring we've been having? I will keep the obnoxious smile from my face as you moan about the cold, but know that inwardly I cheer. Oh yes, this Utah girl cheers.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For Mom

Happy Mothers' Day to the woman who gave me life, my sense of humor, home-cooked meals, my big wide toothy smile, a love of baked goods, confidence, a passion for books, the actual physical inability to refrain from cutting my own hair, piano lessons, my hunger for babies, appreciation of the absurd, apparently most of my mannerisms,

and a desire to be just like her.

I love you Mom.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Halle

Halle turned eight in February and was able to be baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ in March. She has been so excited to take this step and make this covenant with her Heavenly Father. We had so many family members and teachers and friends come and show their love for her and their support of her choice and she noticed and appreciated each one. As did I. It was an emotional day for me, partly because I just can't handle my kids getting older, partly because I felt... I don't know, overwhelmed I guess. I often feel awed or even unworthy to be Halle's mother. I feel like I have nothing to teach her, not much I can do to improve what she has already been graced with, like she should have been the mother in this relationship--she'd be so much better at it than me.

If I ask Halle to clean her room, or eat her dinner, there's a good possibility it won't get done for a really really long time. But I ask her to do something for her sister, or help me with a chore, or look out for her brother, or sit and snuggle with me for a few minutes--done. Faster than immediately. Before the words have left my mouth. When I say she is sweet, what I really mean is she is sweet times a billion infinity. Every bone in her body, every muscle, every thought, every instinct is caring, gentle, compassionate, thoughtful, affectionate, mild. She is doing her best to make me a better person. Lately, if someone in our family raises their voice in anger or argument with another person, she will turn away and put her hands over her ears. Not rudely, in an "I'm not listening, la-la-la la-la" way, but in a "Your anger is wounding my delicate soul" kind of way. Tell me if that wouldn't shut you right up. You better believe it does me. And makes me feel I should be begging her forgiveness.

The other day, Ava and Thomas were playing in the family room, while Halle and I were reading. The two little ones started to spat and get frustrated with one another. As it began to escalate, Halle put down her book and tried to negotiate a peace settlement. For ten minutes. She calmly and gently talked with them, made suggestions, offered solutions and kept her cool until they worked something out and went back to happy. As I sat with my nose in my book. Had she not been there? Mom's version of peacemaking? I would have heaved a big sigh and because I didn't want to interrupt my reading, given them til the count of three to stop fighting or they would get a time out. And then after the time out, nothing having been solved or addressed, they would begin fighting again. And then I'd be angry because I wanted to read and they'd get mad back and there would be a big scene and lots of contention and a bad afternoon for everyone. Had Halle not been there.

What does one do with a daughter like this? How do I raise her for another ten years and not mess up her perfection? How do I not rub my selfishness and impatience off on her? How can I be the mother she deserves when I'm...me?

Oh how I love my little girl. She is one of the most precious ones, truly an angel among our family of...mere mortals. Happy birthday and Happy baptism day to my beloved child.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's Day 9

...of Darron's recovering from ankle surgery and things are NOT going according to plan.

First of all there is absolutely no romantic spooning on the couch while we share intimate secrets and discuss religious philosophy because a) he's high on percocet, b) and itchy, and c) I've got things to do. If you are sensing irritation, that's so weird because Darron said the exact same thing.

We did balance the checkbook. So there's that.

Also in my plan, the house was really clean. Clean and serene. Just how we like it. That's generally part of every plan of mine. I'm like joyfully cleaning the bathrooms and it's all sparkly and bright everywhere and smells nice. Not like stale cumin and wet rags.

We've been watching "Arrested Development" on Netflix six years after the rest of you which I find hilarious and Darron finds a little too "strumming my pain with his fingers" if you know what I mean. You don't? Good. We'll leave it at that then. I no longer attack people on my blog. Just make cryptic passive-agressive references.

I've never been one for sympathy when others are sick. I mean, I think its a good idea-sympathy-I just don't personally possess much myself. I can take care of someone for about two hours, then I start to get snippy and all put-upon. I have a hard time with needy people. And yes, I realize I am a mother and that that is ironic. You got me, Universe. Darron knows this about me because I really don't hide it. He's been freaked out about me thinking he is going to be a wimp through all this so he's all like hobbling around with his big bulky man crutches and 24 lb cast dizzy and nauseated trying to fix himself a poor little bowl of cereal because he doesn't want me to think he's a sissy and then I jump up to help, but it's really less of a jump and more of a reluctant slide turned peppy at the end when I realize my cold dead heart is showing.

Halle turned eight today. On to other things. She is so sweet. We took some of her friends out to a movie and treat and shopped for a baptism dress. I'm sure I'll write a baptism post when the time comes where I can gush about her a little.

Does having a sweet, kind-hearted daughter redeem me? I hope.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Really Should Be Two Posts

Or Five. Sorry.

Every so often, I'll clean out my posts list...get rid of the ones I never quite finished, polished, or published and feel I never will. So a-dios to a few ne'er-to-be-seens. Here's a little of what you could have been subjected to, if I'd gotten my act together and you had been so lucky:

On Christmas
"I have my shopping done (mostly) and my decorations up (though empty boxes have been stacked by my front door for 4 days now) and a few Christmas activities under my family's belt. We saw a local ballet school's "The Nutcracker" (bomb: remember how boring that thing was when you were a kid? Really? Perhaps you could have reminded me.), visited a live nativity (marginal success: free hot cocoa does thankfully/barely trump a two hour line), and went on my annual Christmas date with my old college roomies (always successful)."

On Butter
"Hello treadmill, my old friend
I've come to run on you again
Because I see my backside swelling
Where it may stop there is no telling"

On Politics (Step. off.)
"My opinion is this: no form of government will work unless its people behave in a certain assumed way. If the people don't, the government is a poor fit, and neither will the government function nor will the people be satisfied, which is how I view our present situation. At the time it was established, citizens of our country held certain ideals and values (there's that naughty word) that many of us no longer see as important. Given that change, the republic we once established, like an old shoe, no longer fits. And so we are left squirming and chafing, alternately cutting holes for our toes to stick out and binding our feet. And one shouts for "honor" and another for "sanity" and each becomes more and more entrenched in their idea that we must bind or we must cut and all who disagree are socialists and all who think otherwise are idiots, because as any angry 5 year old can tell you, the best way to win is to call someone a name."

Dude, you missed OUT. I worked for a really long time on that paragraph. And there was so much more where that came from. But now I can delete, without any regret. Like when I took pictures of all these, so I could throw them out:

I don't know that I ever told you how lauded I was in the fifth grade. This is picture 2 is a series of 24. 1/5 of Woodrow Elementary's annual budget apparently went for trophies and plaques and assuring me I was a winner.

But what's really been getting under my skin, aside from this news to me and the attendant fallout in my typing identity, is my hair. Oh, you KNEW I was going to say that, didn't you! I try to be all interesting and unexpected and then I go and say that! You KNEW!

Here it is now. Four shots and I still couldn't figure how to look like I was looking at the camera.

Goodness sakes girl, put on some lipstick, you're taking a darned picture. And directly below my hair, my bathroom counter top. I didn't end up wearing that necklace.

Oh and then Halle's Forgiving box.

But here's the present deal- back to the hair (please). I've been growing it out, essentially since this disaster over a year ago and and it is exactly one and one half millimeters longer that it was when I started. That is what is known as extremely depressing. Soooo...last night I couldn't sleepaaaaand....I came up with this great idea in my semi-conscious semi-transcendental state that may or may not involve going extreme blond. Ok it does. Like pale blond, dark roots, kinda Sienna Miller, kinda SJP back when she was SJP. (That's the best I can do. I am so sadly out of it. Ryan Seacrest has ruined E! for me and thus my star IQ.) For your information, the last time I had a great idea in this state it was to homeschool my four children. I may or may not have decided that was a complete crap of an idea. Ok it is. But this one. What you think? Crap? Or Xanadu genius epiphany?

Let's proceed with epiphany shall we? For philosophical purposes. If I do go all 2005, it will take some upkeep (money and time) which I am pretty stingy with. Mostly the money. I am not the type to get her hair done regularly. Or to get pedicures or massages or buy expensive makeup or anything like that. It just kills me really, paying all that money on something that will fade or get cut off. So can I properly maintain the look or would it be more annoyance than gratification? Also as I am "growing it out" remember, will this sabotage those efforts and turn my hair to fluffy straw? There is SO much to think about that I find I am grateful Darron will be gone this weekend. The situation calls for some serious Hot Tamales and my Period Romance queue on Netflix.
And don't forget me and Ikea. Doing our part to smother Mother Earth with our establishment consumer refuse.

Here's panning 30 degrees to the right and a glimpse of my new luscious paneling and cabinetry.

We are finally starting to buy to replace the furniture ruined by numbers 1-3. And rat babies I think. I'll probably post pictures of that all eventually, but I may also probably forget.
I don't get a lot of requests around here and really I don't ask for them. But the two I tend to get repeatedly are: Can I see a picture of your hair? and Whatever happened to your sex post? Well hair and sex are both fine venerable interests so I totally get the curiosity, no question. And I do like to be helpful so now you've seen the hair we can move on to the other thing. Awhile back I posted quite a lot of stuff you never ever wanted to know about me and Darron and our intimacies. Especially if you are in our ward and have to look at him every week in church. I'm sorry I'm so sorry. So it was a little too much for me to have that hanging out there for anyone to just...read. I have no problem talking about private things with people I know, but I just couldn't ever completely relax knowing that was all just sitting out all unprotected and judgeable. So I pulled it. I hoped it had fulfilled it's intended purpose...I really felt strongly at the time that I should post it. But that time passed and so did the post. Here's the gist of it:
Darron and I had troubles adjusting to our intimate physical relations when we were married and for a good long while afterwards. See how I'm being all coy and delicate? Fights, misunderstandings, blow-ups, periods of pointed silence, imagine the worst if you will. And we have come a long way since then, especially in the last two years or so. Many things helped us, but a certain book was one of the most integral in getting the ball rolling. It is called And They Were Not Ashamed . Check out the author's official website too, if you'd like.
We're winding up here, I promise. It's getting late and harder to construct a sentence, let alone space only once. Anything else I can do for you, just let me know. As you know by now, baring my (husband's) deepest secrets and showcasing my own narcissism do not deter me, so no request is too cheeky. Feel free.