Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sleepy and the Queen

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . my husband calling to say that his motorcycle battery had died halfway up a mountain.  Fortunately he knows someone with a truck.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . sleeping in while Phillip watched the kids.  Thank you, Sweetheart.

And another thing . . .

. . . my daughter was briefly into princesses, but she has now decided that she prefers to be a queen (probably because she realized that queens are further up the hierarchy, and she likes to be in charge).  She has requested that we call her "Your Majesty" when she's wearing her dollar store tiara.

Skimming the Empire

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . getting stuff done.

And another thing . . .

. . . you know that you and your spouse are geeks when you watch The Empire Strikes Back for date night, skim the end credits twice looking for James Earl Jones's name, then immediately fire up the internet to find out why it isn't there.  According to Wikipedia, Jones asked that his name not be credited in Episodes IV and V because he felt his contribution as Darth Vader's voice was "too small to warrant recognition." I beg to differ.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Splish Splash

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . spending about twenty minutes easing myself down into the cool water when the kids and I went swimming.  Yes, I'm a water wimp.

. . . being very tired most of the day.  The swimming helped a bit, but let's face it: I really need to get to bed earlier.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna splashing happily in the bathtub.

. . . the cashier at the bread store giving us a free box of donuts when she heard that Joy likes them.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jam and a Crab

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel being super cranky after a short nap in the car.  Fortunately I've discovered that it helps to put him in the double stroller with Anna and go for a walk.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making strawberry jam with Mom and my sister.

. . . eating said jam on toast for lunch and pancakes for dinner.

. . . shopping for foamy soap with Joy at Bath and Body Works.  It was fun to sniff a dozen different scents and decide on two we wanted to try (Sweet Pea and Japanese Cherry Blossom; White Citrus is a perennial favorite, too).

. . . hugging my sweetheart.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Visit and Some Noisy Nanas

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy spending most of our walk complaining that she wanted to go home.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . visit teaching Linda (and her husband, who always likes to sit in on the conversation).  We have great discussions, and I love the fact that two people who didn't even know me six months ago welcome me into their home every month and chat with me like an old friend.

. . . Phillip trying really, really hard to get home on time so I could go to my visit.  He still arrived late (and consequently so did I), but I love that he tried.

And another thing . . .

. . . I've seen an interesting recipe on Pinterest several times, and I finally decided to give it a try this afternoon.  It involved slicing up overripe bananas, freezing them, then whirring them in the food processor with some peanut butter and cocoa to make soft serve "ice cream."  The idea of a simple and healthy "ice cream" recipe appealed to me, so this afternoon we gave it a whirl.

The result tasted pretty good, but it was a pain to make.  I had to stand next to my loud food processor, stopping it about fifteen times so I could scrape down the sides until the frozen banana gravel finally became smooth and creamy.  I suppose a Yonanas machine would make the process much quicker and easier, but I'm not sure I want to plunk down $50 for another gizmo to clutter my counter, especially if I'm not sure I'll love it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Home Again

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing my grandpa arrive at a birthday party with a walker for the first time.  I keep expecting him to be the same active, commanding figure he was a decade or two ago, and I tend to forget that he is over eighty and our mortal bodies don't last forever.  Even so, Grandpa says he's grateful that his mind is still sharp, and I hope that I can say the same at his age.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching my kids play happily in Papa's pool.

. . . seeing my brother's girlfriend experience my family's extra-long birthday song for the first time.  I don't think Rob had prepared her for the fact that it is three different songs tacked together, and is usually sung out of tune.

. . . walking into my own front door after our trip.  Ah, home.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing Joy smile.

. . . glancing at my husband and noticing the "white badge of courage" (i.e. dried baby food and who knows what else) smeared on the shoulder of his suit coat. I love that man.

. . . Joy playing happily with her second cousins.

. . . watching great grandpa walk past with an ice cream cone and a big grin. I just had to go get an ice cream cone, too.

And another thing . . .

. . . apparently I noticed a lot of smiles today. The one that stood out the most was from a little boy at church who I don't even know. I noticed him looking at me so I smiled at him, and without hesitation he flashed a genuine smile back at me. I suppose it made an impression on me because so often people (myself included) respond to a smile with a half-hearted courtesy smile, or they self-consciously look away if you catch their eye. This boy's easy, sincere smile seemed to convey a belief that life and the people in it are good and wish him well. Since we tend to find what we look for, he's probably right.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oscar and the Stubborn Rope

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . my very, very tired son wailing on the train because he couldn't beat a level of Cut The Rope on Daddy's iPhone.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . spending the day with lots of dear relatives who we haven't seen in ages.

. . . seeing the Grand Canyon. It's an awesome sight.

. . . hearing to Oscar the bus driver crack silly jokes on our tour (e.g. "There's the Grand Canyon! Oooooo! And those are tourists! Oooooo!"

. . . playing with our kids on the lawn after our tour. Anna thought the grass and wind were fabulous. I guess they really are novelties when you live in an apartment.

. . . cuddling Anna when she fell asleep in her Ergo carrier.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cool Stuff

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a walk with my kids in the cool morning air.

. . . finally arriving at our hotel for a reunion eleven hours after we had planned to (Phillip was delayed at his lab, so we left in the evening instead of the morning).

And another thing . . .

. . . I saw a DeLorean on the freeway yesterday. When we hit 88mph it disappeared. OK, that last part didn't really happen, but it would have been awesome if it had.

Brave Girl in the Pixar Boys' Club

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . eating nachos with Pink Grandma, and petting her little dog Poppy.

. . . Anna smiles.

. . . saying family prayer tonight with both the big kids sitting on my lap.

And another thing . . .

. . .  I'm curious about the Pixar film "Brave," which comes out tomorrow.  I love Pixar and I think they do brilliant work, but as I've shared their films with my daughter and she has looked for characters to emulate, I've noticed that Pixar movies are very male-centric.

The lead character is always a guy.  The villain (if there is one) and his henchmen are always guys (Mirage is a notable exception, but she ends up being a softie who joins the good guys).  The main supporting character is usually a guy, too (Pixar loves buddy stories: Woody and Buzz, Mike and Sully, Lightning McQueen and Mater, Remy and Linguini, Russell and Carl--noticing a pattern?), and any romance tends to be a sub-sub-plot.

Supporting female characters with a major roles in the story tend to fit a very similar mold. They are assertive, no-nonsense types. Most of them are good in a fight--Eve has a wicked laser, Colette wields chef knives like a ninja, Elastigirl has a mean right hook (just ask Mirage), and Jesse can get Woody pinned in about two seconds. If the female character has a job, she does it 110%, whether she's a chef, a mom, a community booster, an ant princess preparing for a grasshopper raid, or a cowgirl toy trying to let a dog out of a bedroom. Dori is one exception to this rule, but while she's one of my favorite Pixar creations, she strikes me more as a fun plot device than a character, and she fits the next rule to a T.

I've also noticed that major female characters never really grow or change during the course of a Pixar film. They are there simply to assist the male protagonist on his journey, and any major personal decisions they make are purely pragmatic. Mrs. Incredible starts using her super powers because they're suddenly needed, not because her view of them has changed. Dori finally remembers a couple things during the course of her story, but at the end she's still her same, loopy self who can't get Nemo's name right. If the female character begins to love a male who used to annoy her, it is usually because he as matured and/or she's gotten to know him better, not because she herself has changed.

For a company that is so creative in so many ways, I find Pixar's narrow range of female characters surprising, especially since their male characters are so delightfully varied.  Perhaps it's because most of their writers and directors tend to be men, so it's easier for them to dream up male characters than female ones.  I'll be curious to see what they do with "Brave."  The main character is female for once, and though she seems to fit the usual assertive mold, I assume she will be more complex than her predecessors, and will grow in some way during the course of her journey.  We'll see.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Weird Juice and Joy!

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . utterly failing to solve a computer glitch this afternoon.  Good thing I married a computer whiz.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel choosing to walk out to the laundry room with every time I went.  It was fun to have him along.

. . . hearing our one-year-old neighbor calling out "Joy!  Joy!" because she has such fun playing with my daughter.

. . . my visiting teacher coming over.

And another thing . . .

. . . when I was a kid, my mom got really into buying white grape juice for about a year.  I thought it tasted weird.  Now that I'm a few decades older and my tastes have matured . . . I still think it tastes weird.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . imbibing baby cuteness.

. . . taking a shower.

. . . snuggling with my sweetheart.

. . . joining Club Unicorn.  Wow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Butter Flavored? Really?

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . discovering that the squarish pretzels I recently bought are butter flavored.  Weird.  I just wanted a different shape so the chocolate won't melt through so much when we make pretzel treats. Fortunately the chocolate masks the butter flavor, for the most part.

. . . Daniel trying to get my attention by poking me in the nose.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching my kids play in the sprinklers out front.

. . . finally writing some overdue blog posts for the family blog.  Huzzah for postdating.

. . . Joy offering to help prepare dinner and set the table.  Bless her heart.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Survived Primary

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Sharing Time going well and being fun.  Whew!

. . . eating Drumsticks after lunch as a Father's Day treat.

. . . hanging with my fam, watching Papa, Heather, and the big kids play "No Bears Are Out Tonight."

A Tumbling Snake

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . stressing about my first Sharing Time lesson in Primary tomorrow.  Even if it's a train wreck, life will go on and I'll do better next time, but for some reason it's really weighing on me.  Thank goodness I only have to teach once a month.

. . . glancing over at Daniel just in time to see him fall off a chair and pull our corn snake's tank down on top of him.  Daniel got only a small bump on the head and Spot the snake seemed unharmed, but he hid in his shavings for a while until he was satisfied that the world wouldn't turn upside again.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . cuddling Anna.

. . . Joy talking with me about the scriptures I was reading.

. . . grooving to oldies in Trader Joe's.

. . . smooching my sweetheart.

. . . reading my own cookbook.  Is that kind of like laughing at my own jokes?

. . . reading Nienie's blog. She is a welcome dose of happy nearly every day.

. . . seeing a picture on that blog of a gal who was in my student ward at BYU.  Small world.

And another thing . . .

. . . this evening I saw a cartoon caption that bears a very unfortunate resemblance to my life these days: "My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane."  I want to stay abreast of current affairs, but it is so hard to find time and energy to take in even the basics ("Election in Egypt; Romney's focusing on the economy.  Got it.").  I'm beginning to understand why young people with little responsibility are more likely to be liberals pushing for change, while older folks with more on their shoulders tend to be conservatives who don't want their overburdened boats rocked.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


On our trip to Yosemite . . . 

. . . my not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . being attacked my mosquitoes on the Ahwahnee lawn.

. . . my favorite moments included . . .

. . . coming around a bend and seeing Half Dome in the distance.

. . . hiking (i.e. walking along a level, paved path) to Lower Yosemite Falls with my family.

. . . the big kids climbing rocks near the falls with Daddy, and talking about how fun it was for days afterward.

. . . eating ice cream with Red Grandma.

. . . feeling a fallen sequoia's bark and discovering that it is soft and fuzzy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rainbows and Crazy Bunnies

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy crying because she only liked two of the things I put on the table for dinner.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Phillip watching the kids so I could sleep two extra hours this morning.  Sweet bliss.

. . . Daniel repeatedly exclaiming, "Those bunnies are crazy!" as he watched Joy playing a version of chess with bizarre little animated rabbits on our computer.  The pawn bunnies fought using plungers.  Enough said.

. . . buying some Rainbow sandals.  The price tag was a little steep for me, but I've heard they're incredibly comfortable and durable, so hopefully I won't have to buy new ones for a few years.  Last year I wore a cheap pair of flip-flops paper-thin in a single summer.

. . . Phillip making an absolutely delicious smoothie.

. . . Joy reading scriptures to Daniel.

. . . this interchange:

Joy: Please don't do that.
Daniel: Why, Joy?
Joy: Say, "Why, Queen?"
Daniel: Why, Queen?
Joy: [dramatic pause] . . . Because there was a dodo!
Daniel: [uproarious laughter]

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Belonging and Graduation

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel intentionally misfiring Angry Birds so they flopped down an inch from the slingshot.  Every time he did it, he laughed as if it was the most hilarious thing ever.

. . . attending Joy's preschool graduation.  It was a nice ending to a very good school year.  I particularly enjoyed hearing the teacher's predictions about what each child might be some day.  Since Joy has very decided opinions about everything, the teacher predicted that she will be a judge when she grows up.

. . . playing with Daddy and the kids at the park after a picnic dinner.

And another thing . . .

. . . lately I've been reading a parenting book called Positive Discipline.  Many of its principles make sense to me, including the theory that all children want to belong and feel significant, and most misbehavior stems from their ineffective efforts to achieve that (i.e. seeking attention or power in negative ways) or their frustration when they don't achieve it (i.e. lashing out or withdrawing). The author notes that if a child came up to you and said, "I just want to belong and feel significant," you would probably respond in a kind, encouraging way, yet kids' misdirected efforts to achieve those ends often earns them the opposite of what they really want.

I think it's safe to say that adults want the same things, and often struggle just as much to obtain them.  I'm always intrigued by people whose appearance screams "Look at me!!" (either because they're immaculately fashionable or outrageous with crazy hair and multiple piercings), yet their eyes reveal that they're deeply insecure and almost terrified of making eye contact with anyone.  Maybe they hope their clothes and hair will convey the confidence they wish they felt.

I met someone like that at the store today.  He was my cashier, and as I looked him over--the tattoos, piercings, edgy hairstyle, and shy eyes that flicked away from mine as fast as they could--I thought of that phrase from the book: "I just want to belong and feel significant."  I found it easy to be friendly with him when I realized that he might want and need it so much, and our brief interchange seemed to make him feel happier and less self-conscious.  I hope I'll remember that principle even when it isn't so obvious.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sudoku Therapy and a Banana Train

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . feeling a little overwhelmed as I contemplate summer vacation.  I'll miss being able to run errands with just two kids, and the sudden lack of structure (i.e. five days each week with nothing planned) is a little overwhelming.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daddy coming home and giving me a big hug.

. . . cooking a dinner that was simple but good.

. . . Daniel cracking up when I pretended some bananas were a train chugging past him.

. . . chatting with neighbors at the park.

. . . giving Anna a bath.

And another thing . . .

. . . I learned to play Sudoku today.  It was nice to tackle a problem that I knew had a clear answer which I would figure out if I just analyzed it long enough.  That said, I'm not sure I want to devote a half hour of my life to it on a regular basis.  On the other hand, Alzheimer's runs in my family, and a recent study found that playing games like Sudoku (or Angry Birds) decreases your risk for that disease.  Of course, it also said my brain could benefit from reading and writing, so maybe I'll just keep journaling, reading blog posts, and playing chess with Joy.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's The Thought That Counts

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a walk to Joy's future school, and seeing what's blooming in people's gardens on the way.

. . . playing catch with Daniel.

. . . smiling at Joy.

. . . getting lots of stuff done.

. . . Phillip offering me the last jelly bean (then discovering that Daniel had eaten it when Daddy wasn't looking).

And another thing . . .

. . . some of the many reasons I like Trader Joe's:

- friendly, cheerful staff
- friendly, cheerful customers ranging from hippies to yuppies
- fun background music
- no tabloids at the check stands
- store brand staples tend to be inexpensive and good quality
- my picky kids will try virtually anything at the sample counter

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Home Again on a Cool Spring Day

Today's favorite moments included . . .
. . . feeling the cool, spring breeze at the park today.

. . . my husband coming home from his long trip.  It was so very good to see him and hold him again.

. . . seeing the kids get excited to see their Daddy, too.  Anna was so happy that she kicked her little feet while he held her.

. . . cooking a dinner that everyone liked.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Story Time and Fire Girl

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . collaborating with Joy to make a costume for superhero day at school.  Joy chose to be Fire Girl (who can ignite or extinguish blazes at will), and I'm glad I got her input on the costume, because her idea was much simpler than mine.

. . . the car wash guys finding the house key I lost in my car four months ago.

. . . hangin' with my fam.

. . . taking a nap.

. . . telling Joy scripture stories in the car, at her request.  Sometimes I'm tempted to decline when I'm tired and she asks for a movie recap, but how do you say no when your daughter asks you to tell her about Jesus?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Courage and a Ceibo

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . singing Nephi's Courage in Primary.  It's one of Phillip's favorite Primary songs, and it makes me think of him.

. . . the Primary chorister drawing hilarious stick figure art to help the kids learn a Father's Day song.

. . . taking the kids for a walk and seeing a ceibo* tree in bloom.  It is one of the few trees native to Uruguay, and it always makes me think of the land of my mission.

. . . reading yesterday's post on the (Gay) Mormon Guy blog. It was both heartrending and inspiring.  I deeply respect the fact he keeps going (in the Gospel and the dating scene) even though it's so very hard sometimes.

*Pronounced "SAY-boe"

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Shards and a Goblin

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . the unmistakable sound of a glass bowl shattering when my daughter dropped it.  The kids actually broke two of our ceramic bowls today, too (never on purpose).  Our dish population is dwindling rapidly, and I think it's time to shop around for some durable plastic plates and bowls that are nice enough to use for dinner.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making a Green Goblin Smoothie.  I love my Green Monster smoothie, but variety is a good thing so I decided to branch out and try something a little different.  I seriously tweaked the recipe, but it turned out well.  Joy said she liked it, but changed her mind after a few sips.  Daniel said he didn't like it, but then changed his mind and asked for seconds.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Jello Newb and Too Many Artichokes

This week . . . 

my not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . most of Tuesday.  I was dragon mom.  It was really, really bad.

my favorite moments included . . .

 . . . Phillip getting home from the lab on Tuesday.  He was very supportive, and somehow he helped me back onto the sanity track, from which I had totally derailed.

. . . making a strawberry lassi to share with Daniel.

. . . cuddling Anna.

. . . sharing a hug with Joy.

. . . Anna happily kicking her feet in the pool.  Joy got right in and swam (with her pool ring), but since the water is still pretty cold I was happy to sit on the side with Anna and let her splash.

. . . taking a walk with the kids to check out local gardens in the area.  The corn is high at one house, and the Anna apples are almost ready to eat at another.  I asked an artichoke grower about his giant plant, and he commented that thirty artichokes is far too many to eat in five weeks.  I agree.

. . . having a good laugh when we walked past a garden that has always struggled, and found that the owner had finally given up and replaced the veggies with lots of roses, which looked healthy and happy.  I'm glad they found something that worked for them.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy asked me to make strawberry Jello for her class buffet today.  I can't remember the last time I made Jello.  I had to check the box more than once to confirm that the boiling water goes in before the cold water.  Or is it the other way around?