Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Best Part of Waking Up...

... was getting to drive through Gary to drop Bubba off at a continuing education seminar. If you haven't visited the city lately, you must put it on your list of things to do soon. It's quite lovely this time of year. It's not everyday you get to drive through the birthplace of Michael Jackson, admiring the abandoned buildings, and desperately hoping your car doesn't break down. I can't wait to do it again this afternoon. Fingers crossed, we make it home without incident or bodily harm...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Henry's Rendition of a Holiday Classic

Thursday, November 27, 2008


One Thanksgiving morning my cousins and I engaged in a debate over the importance of eating breakfast. I had slept over at my cousin Connie's house, and, as our central preoccupation involved the quantity of food we would be able to consume at the afternoon feast, we were concerned with how eating breakfast would impact our ability to gorge ourselves later. It was determined that, contrary to our gut feeling, eating breakfast would actually enable us to eat more of our Thanksgiving dinner, because the morning meal would stretch our stomachs. Fasting would only hinder our gestational goals.

Remembering this debate, I am struck by how, as children, we approached Thanksgiving with the sole goal of becoming full. How we approached the day with the will and desire to feast on the things that were offered us. As an adult, my approach to Thanksgiving has changed. Achieving fullness takes a back seat to food preparation, calorie counting, and making polite conversation with company.

I'm glad that Thanksgiving is more than just a day to consume vast quantities of food. But still, I wonder if there aren't lessons to learn from my childhood approach to the day. Lessons like deprivation only promotes deprivation. Lessons like viewing the table set before you as abundant and enough to satisfy. Lessons like the only way to achieve fullness is to partake of the things that are offered to you here, now, today.

The difference between feast and famine is so often perception. The bounty of our table is so easily diminished when we focus our gaze on our neighbor's spread or await in vain the more elegant entrees that will be served next year. The difference between living an empty or a full life depends less on what our life contains and more on our attitude toward and about those things.

My table is so full. And I hope to approach it in the same eager way my childhood self approached the Thanksgiving table. So I'll loosen my belt, take an extra helping of mashed potatoes, and squeeze in that third piece of pumpkin pie. But first, I've got to eat breakfast...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Week in Review

On Halloween, Henry absolutely refused to wear his costume. This was about the closest we got to having him wear it - and he cried and screamed for the whole 30 seconds it was on. He didn't let not donning a costume stop him from trick-or-treating though. The basic concept of receiving free candy from complete strangers really appealed to Henry.

After trick-or-treating, we headed over to an Obama rally held at a nearby park (sorry, Dad). Although you can't tell, the man at the podium next to the white rectangular teleprompter really is Obama.

This is Henry and I at the rally. Henry is definitely not looking too excited to be there. In fact, as we were driving to the park, we told Henry we were going to see Barack Obama and he said, "No, John McCain!"

This is how I found Henry at 6 a.m. this morning. I could hear him dragging the chair around and knew he was up to something. This is a new move he's figured out - I've had to start hiding the candy and Oreos on the top shelf of our pantry.

This is where I found Henry at 11 am this morning. I think the time change has really thrown him off, because he has refused to nap all week. I think the lack of sleep must have finally caught up with him - I don't think he moved from this position for over 2 hours.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One of these things is not like the other (?) (!)

Recently I heard a poem on NPR written by Elizabeth Bishop that I really liked. I checked out her anthology at the library and had Bubba read the poem as well, convinced that he too would like it. To my dismay, he not only disliked it, he strongly disliked it. He thought it was the most depressing, awful thing he had ever read. This awful poem, titled "Breakfast Song", reads:

My love, my saving grace,
your eyes are awfully blue.
I kiss your funny face,
your coffee-flavored mouth.
Last night I slept with you.
Today I love you so
how can I bear to go
(as soon I must, I know)
to bed with ugly death
in that cold, filthy place,
to sleep there without you,
without the easy breath
and nightlong, limblong warmth
I've grown accustomed to?
—Nobody wants to die;
tell me it is a lie!
But no, I know it's true.
It's just the common case;
there's nothing one can do.
My love, my saving grace,
your eyes are awfully blue
early and instant blue.

Okay. I'll give him that it may be depressing. But the funny thing is, he recently purchased a song on iTunes that seems strangely similar in tone to this poem. The lyrics, in part, are:

She says "If I leave before you, darling
Don't you waste me in the ground"
I lay smiling like our sleeping children
One of us will die inside these arms
Eyes wide open, naked as we came
One will spread our ashes round the yard

My question is: is there a material difference between these two? Is it reasonable for Bubba to despise one and cling to the other?

And, more importantly, who do you think is right?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Halloween Costumes

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More things that make you go hmmm....

Riding on cars with boys - Yesterday after I dropped Bubba off at work, I was driving down Hohman Avenue (a fairly busy thoroughfare), and noticed that there was a woman sitting on the hood of the car driving next to me! The sight of a woman nonchalantly perched upon the hood of a moving car made my think, "what the?," and then I immediately called Bubba to have someone to share my incredulity with.

Goose on the Loose - I don't know if geese lawn ornaments are endemic to Northwest Indiana, but I certainly don't recall ever seeing so many of these lovely home accents anywhere else. My favorite part is that people actually dress these ceramic geese when the weather turns cold - take, for example, this specimen decked out in witch hat and cape. I'll know I'm really turning into a Hoosier when I purchase one of these geese for our own doorstep.

Free? Credit - Who would have guessed that checking your credit report on isn't really free? Okay, probably most people. Maybe the company's catchy jingle lulled me into stupidity and forced me to skip over the small print, but I swear when I checked both mine and Bubba's credit reports on the site I didn't see anything about enrolling in a $14.99 per month credit protection program. So, our free credit reports ended up costing $30 and a very annoying phone call to cancel our membership in the program. Stupid misleading jingle.

Mixed-up Marquee - The message on the marquee for Munster Christian Reformed church has me all confused. It reads: "Christ will turn you life "upside down" - displayed upside down. Does this baffle anyone else? I do not think the sign means what they think it means. To me, the phrase "upside down" connotes catastrophe - as in, "our finances are upside down," or "the divorce turned her life upside down." I think the better phrase to use here would be "rightside up." Unless, of course, I'm missing something. Maybe I'll have to attend the service to find out...

Let me see your toilet roll - Why is Henry completely fascinated with throwing things into the toilet? The other day I went in the bathroom to find this - a brand new roll of toilet paper soaking in the toilet. I swear the thing weighed 10 pounds and had absorbed about 2/3s of the the water. It wasn't as bad as the day I went in to see him dipping Bubba's toothbrush into the bowl and then brushing his teeth. Yuck! Now that's something that really makes me go hmmm.....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's a girl!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fast, Furious, and Frustrated

If the question "Play cars?" doesn't fill you with a sense of impending dread, then you've probably never been the parent of a two-year old boy. Like many boys before him, Henry has recently developed an obsession of sorts with playing cars. I categorize his affinity for the activity as an obsession because his requests to play cars are insistent, persistent, and resistant to the suggestion of any other activity. I have been awaken in the morning more times than I care to count by Henry thrusting a matchbox car into my hand and pleading "play cars?"

So, how does one "play cars", you ask? The activity sounds harmless enough. Normally all it involves is sitting next to Henry, holding the car he selects for you, and scooting the car around the ground. Henry is quite deft in detecting the difference between when I am just sitting there and when I am indeed moving the car around. If I disengage for only a moment, he'll instantly notice and demand "play cars!"

For me, playing cars is like watching a sporting event: I enter a sort of time-warp where the minutes pass slower than I thought humanly possible. I tell myself, "yes, I can play cars for 20 minutes with Henry," and after engaging in the activity for what seems like hours, I look at the clock and only 5 minutes have passed.

Despite how boring I find playing cars, I really think it is good for Henry. It seems to be an activity that exercises his imaginative and verbal skills. He talks a lot when we're playing cars. He'll say funny things like "Hey car, what you doing?", or exclaim "Oh no, my wheels hurt!" when a car turns over. Playing cars is definitely better for Henry than just sitting on the couch watching the tube all day.

If only I could convince myself it's good for me, too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If it sounds too good to be true...

I just received a call from a very polite gentleman informing me that I'd won a $1000 gift card.
He informed me that I was eligible for the prize because I have either a Mastercard, Visa, Discover, or American Express card. All I had to do was confirm which of the cards I carry and verify the card number....

I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy spending that $1000....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Art of Complaining

If practice makes perfect, then I should be a near perfect complainer. I do a lot of complaining. This occurred to me when I ended yet another call to my sister Traci with the now tired expression, "Next time I won't complain the whole time." Poor Traci hears a lot of my complaints; including, but not limited to, complaints about the laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, meal preparation, making the bed, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the toilet, dusting, the price of gas, the price of milk, dirty diapers, health insurance, dental insurance, everything Bubba does that annoys me, everything Henry does that annoys me, everything that I do that annoys myself, acne, bad hair days, pregnancy symptoms, wardrobe issues, needing new towels and dishes and everything, student loan debt, credit card debt, church callings, carpool duties, working from home, the weather. I could go on. And I have.

Poor Traci bears the brunt of most of this ceaseless complaining. And it's not just the fact that she is a blood relative and keeps answering my calls that makes her the poor recipient of my tirades. It's the fact that Traci is a good complainer, too. Correct that. Traci is a good enabler for a complainer. When it comes to complaining, she knows the rules of engagement.

When I complain to Traci, she knows to avoid the following:

Inequitable complaints - Example: I complain about my tight budget, and you in turn complain about how money is so tight you can only afford to remodel your kitchen and buy a new car, but can't afford the winter cruise to the Caribbean.

Failure to reciprocate - Example: I complain about how my husband never helps out around the house, and you in turn praise your husband who does all the laundry, cooks the meals, and cleans the bathrooms.

Disproportionate display of pity - Example: I complain about how hard life is, and you in turn pile heaps of sympathy on me for leading such a downer of a life.

Traci is great at commiserating - she listens to me and complains too, reminding me that life sometimes is just hard for everyone, and I always feel better after I talk to her. But still, I really should try to cut back on the complaints. After all, I have so much more to not complain about. And those complaints that I have probably won't be helped much by continually harping on them. As Jeffrey Holland said, "No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse."

But until I can stop complaining, I'm afraid Traci will still have to hear most of it. It's her fault for being such a great listener.

In Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith concludes that "Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood."

Luckily with Traci, I get both.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


This Labor Day weekend we enjoyed a little slice of heaven in Yachats, Oregon. Bubba's mom discovered the place several years ago, and they have been vacationing there ever since. From the pictures below, you can see why. It is absolutely breathtaking!

Bubba and Henry in front of the mighty Pacific.

Marilyn, Bubba, and Henry on board a ship

Henry telling the beach what's what


Heceta Head Lighthouse

Views from a tidal pool

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Signs of Life

My stomach felt firm today. It felt almost the way a pregnant abdomen should - tight and round and swollen. It's not the way my stomach has felt for weeks - soft and squishy, like the Pillsbury Doughboy's. It seems I noticed the softening almost immediately - the pregnancy test came back positive, and then my stomach went soft. I guess you could say that was the first sign of life.

The difficult thing about the first trimester of pregnancy is the absence of signs of life. The uncertainty that, yes, you are harboring a life within you. Sure, I've had food aversions and nausea and extreme fatigue. I've experienced the bouts of absent mindedness they say accompany pregnancy - I locked myself out of the apartment and left my wallet at Target on the same day. Surely these are signs of something, but life? They seem more to be indicators of my imminent and sure demise.

Nausea and fatigue and food aversions aren't enough. I want more certainty. And so at my pre-natal appointment, as the doctor runs the monitor across my abdomen, I silently, urgently plead: "detect a heartbeat, detect a heartbeat." And for a moment there is nothing, and the doctor mumbles something about sometimes not detecting a heartbeat until the 12th week, and then, there it is, the rhythmic whooshing of the Doppler, providing audible waves of relief. "It's a good, strong heartbeat," the doctor declares, and I like the sound of it so much I repeat it in my mind. A good strong heartbeat. There's an almost certainty in the detection of a good, strong heartbeat.

As a pregnancy progresses, the signs of life increase. I've already begun my nightly treks to the bathroom. At night I am surprisingly alert, and I find myself remembering my first pregnancy - living in a studio apartment in London, padding and then later lumbering down the glaringly bright hall to the community toilet. The toilet was in a room no bigger than a small closet - and the window was always open, leaving the seat cold against my thighs. And then back to our room, with the blue drapes that covered the window at the head of the bed, drapes that provided surprising insulation from the cold London nights and the ceaseless drone of ambulance sirens. I, with hands on the insulated incubator that was my stomach, would wait patiently for a sign of life, and then...

Movement. Such a curious, alien, wonderful sensation, to feel your baby move inside you. Such a certain, positive sign of life.

And so I wait now for those next signs of life, accepting my expanding waistline as assurance that the life within me is indeed still there. Even still, every now and then I find myself drumming my fingers against the tabletop, ta-tum, ta-tum, ta-tum, mimicking the rhythm detected by the Doppler, hoping that that heartbeat remains as constant and steady as my own.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Secret to My Success

A friend passed on a good cleaning tip, and I've decided to pass it on to all of you because it is AMAZING. To remove carpet stains, dilute 2-3 tablespoons of liquid Tide laundry detergent in warm water, and scrub. I tried this today in our living room, and it worked so well I ended up scrubbing almost the whole carpet. The room looks so much better. It's such an economical, effective cleaning tool - it makes me happy. Try it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

To Have Read

I didn't want to like it. I don't know why, exactly, but I considered myself immune to its appeal. I was one sucker who wouldn't be sucked in by a teen-vampire romance. But, the truth is, I finally read Twilight, and I liked it. A lot.

My sister Traci described Twilight as literary junk food, and I think she's right. You know how it is when you pop the lid to the Pringles canister or tear into a package of Oreos - you can't stop eating them, those empty-calorie, high-sodium, trans-fantaculous, utterly irresistible treats. That's what reading Twilight was like - once I cracked open the spine of the paperback book, I couldn't put it down. I brushed aside the book I was currently reading - The Post-American World - a real meat and potatoes kind of book - and feasted my eyes on something far less nourishing but infinitely more enjoyable.

I think I've been too hard on Stephenie Meyer. The truth is, Twilight won't win the Pulitzer Prize, but still, it takes a lot of talent to create a compelling story. In fact, it's been a long time since I've read a book that I didn't want to put down. It's been a week since I finished Twilight, and I'm only on page 105 of the aforementioned Post-American World. I think I was on page 75 when my task was interrupted by Twilight. Sorry, Fareed Zakaria. The decline of America's dominance as a superpower just isn't as compelling as Bella and Edward's love life.

I may not finish The Post-American World. I've heard there are a few more chronicles in this vampire series, and you know how it is with junk food: once you pop, you can't stop.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Summer Storm

Monday night the greater Chicago area (that includes little old Munster) was hit by a severe wind and thunder storm. Having grown up in the deserts of Utah, I have been impressed by the sheer amount of water a Midwest storm can produce. This storm was particularly damaging. Fortunately, the only damage we sustained was almost 3 days without Internet, cable, or telephone service. As you can see from the pictures below, others in our neighborhood weren't so lucky:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mixed Signals

The front left blinker on our car isn't working. I don't know how long it's been broken, but I suspect it occurred around the time the rodents attacked our electrical wires. Because the day I picked up our car from the mechanic and turned the blinker to signal left, the clicking sound was going double time.

I realized the blinker wasn't working last week when I was turning left at a four way stop. My blinker was clicking at double time, and it was my turn to go, but the woman in the car across from me gave me a nasty look when I turned. So I inspected the blinker and, sure enough, it's not blinking.

Since I've discovered this defect, I've become a paranoid left-hand turner. Sometimes I try to compensate for the defect by rolling down my window and signaling my intention to turn by hand, like this:

Only, when I signal by hand, I'm not on a bike, and my arm is not so straight and direct. Actually, I'm pretty embarrassed about signaling by hand, an embarrassment which leads me to only roll the window half way down, and to weakly thrust my arm out of the window. This sorry attempt at signaling left doesn't seem to be working.

It's funny, because before, when I didn't know that my left front blinker was broken, I had a lot more confidence when turning. I was blissfully unaware of the fact that my double-time blinker wasn't really signaling anything to anybody. It's a discovery of sorts to find out that the message you were trying to broadcast isn't being sent at all. And it's made me think about other signals we send each other, not when driving, but when communicating, and how at times they can be terribly misread.

For example, when I first moved to London, I became friends with two women in my ward. All three of us confided in each other that we were hoping to become pregnant soon. Shortly after, the first woman announced her pregnancy, and shortly after that I announced mine. But the third woman remained announcement-free. As the months and the pregnancies progressed, I noticed that this third woman seemed a little withdrawn. As me and the other woman happily discussed our pregnancies, her face looked sour and pained. I read her behaviour as evidence that she was saddened that she too was not pregnant. So I avoided talking to her about anything baby-related.

And then, months later, she confessed to us that she was pregnant, almost four months along, but hadn't said anything because she had had some complications and was worried that the pregnancy was not viable. And suddenly, I had to rewrite history and correctly decipher all those signals she had given over the past few months.

There is an older gentleman who lives in the building next to ours who is usually very friendly to us. Lately he has started commenting that he thinks Henry needs more room to run around. I usually smile and concur with this statement. Then, a few weeks ago, he asked me quite bluntly if it isn't time we bought a house yet. I smiled and said nothing, instead of asking him in return if it wasn't time he minded his own business. To put the final nail in the coffin, a few days ago he actually stopped us and told us that he had found a house for rent a few streets over, and strongly urged us to consider renting it.

What is this man trying to signal to us? It is very possible that he is just trying to be kind and helpful. But I have a hard time not interpreting these messages as intrusive and rude. Why does he seem so intent to drive us out of our apartment? Are we annoying neighbors? Or is he sincerely concerned about our welfare? I don't know.

I guess people, like cars, sometimes have faulty wiring. It's not always possible to determine what, exactly, they are trying to signal. All those nasty looks that were cast my way when I thought my left blinker was indicating my intention to turn were cast in vain. Because I DID think I was signaling left. So I guess I should give my neighbor the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's trying to signal left and doesn't know the wiring's disconnected.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The 3 Most Offensive Words in the English Language

The conversation Bubba and I had this morning while I drove him to work reminded me of something my sister Traci had told me about the 3 most offensive words in the English language. She had taken some sort of psychology or sociology course in college, and her professor had actually spoken these 3 offensive words in class. And I was reminded of them today, because (although Bubba may protest), we were both in kind of foul, early-morning, grumpy moods, and because we used all 3 words in our communication with each other this morning.

So... prepare yourselves. Because I'm about to recreate part or our morning dialogue, and it might get a little offensive.

Here goes:

Bubba: (As I am slow to notice the traffic signal's change from red to green) "You ALWAYS are slow to go after the light changes."

Bubba: (As I ask him for his American Express card, because I reported all of my cards lost or stolen last week, because my wallet(which was quickly recovered), could not be located for a few minutes) "You SHOULD have waited before you cancelled all of your cards."

Me: (Feeling unjustly harassed) "You NEVER say anything nice to me!"

What? You're surprised? You were expecting some profanity? You see, the 3 most offensive words, according to my sister's college professor at least, aren't what you would expect at all. If you really want to excite your partner, if you really want to escalate an argument, skip the swears. "Always," "never," and "should" will do the trick.

Think about it. How many times have you almost flown off the handle because your partner says you should lose some weight? Or you should keep the house clean. Or you never clear the dinner table. Or you're always late picking him up from work. Or you should be making more money. Or you never help with the baby. Or, etc, etc, etc.

I think the reason these words are so offensive is because they immediately cause the receiver to go on the defensive. None of us is consistent enough to always or never do something. So I always am slow to go after the light turns green? What about that time last month that I ran the red light? Huh? How bout it? That time I was so fast, I didn't even wait for the signal to turn.

And none of us like to be told what we should do. Because, the truth is, we probably know it without being told.

The funny thing is, these 3 words don't have to be the most offensive. They could just as easily be used to mollify a situation, to show concern and sympathy. When's the last time you told your husband that he's been working so hard, he should just kick up his feet and watch t.v? When's the last time you heard that you always look beautiful? Or were told that you have never cooked a bad meal?

I'm still not completely sold on the idea that should, never, and always are the most offensive words around. But, it might be useful to avoid using these words as much as you might avoid using other profane words. Because if used too often in the wrong way, they might be more damaging than those other 4 letter words.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Henry's 2nd Birthday

Monday, June 16, 2008

Daddy's House?

Today when I dropped Bubba off at work, Henry pointed at his office building and said, "Daddy's house." Not sure that we heard him correctly, we asked him what he said. "Daddy's house," he replied again. "No," we explained, "that's Daddy's office. Daddy's work." But as Bubba stepped out of the car he said it again. "Daddy's house." We laughed, but it was the kind of laughter you usually reserve for news that is depressingly true, like finding out you've gained 80 pounds during your pregnancy or that the rate for your insurance policy has increased 25% because of that accident you were in last month. Something that you know but don't know until someone points it out to you with startling clarity.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


"Nakee" in his toy basket

Coloring with friends Ian and Easton


Playing at the beach with his favorite toy, his digger

Again, with the digger, and my sad attempt to compensate for not having a sandbox

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Found on our Answering Machine from May 2004

This weekend, Bubba and I found an old telephone we used to use that has an answering machine on it. We plugged it in and found we had several saved messages on the phone, all left in May of 2004. These are the last messages before we moved out of our Highland Drive apartment before leaving for Notre Dame. Listening to the messages was like finding a slice of our lives preserved in time. We were mostly surprised to find that we used to have friends that called us! Below are some of the transcribed messages. They probably won't amuse you unless you were one of the callers. The message from Bubba's brother Jeremy we found particularly amusing (a note of historical context: Bubba's uncle Nolan was running for governor at the time).

-This message is for Michael Karras. This is Reyes - R- e -y -e- s - Aguilar - A -g- u -i- l-a-r - from the University of Utah. If you could please, return my call.

-Hi Bub, this is Seth (Thorup), just calling you back, or um, calling you from your email, if you could just call me at work or at home or reply to my email.

-Hey Bubba and Kim, I'm Patrick (Moyes). This is my new phone number, and perhaps you could call it back if you want to. Okay, bye.

-Hi ,Kim this is Emily Elsmore, aka Emily Bishop. How you doing? Calling because we want to play basically, on Friday, Kim, Kim Garrett, who was Gillespie, and Rachel, we're gonna get together and do something, so give me a call when you can .

-Hello Michael Karras, this is Ryan (Andrus), just calling, I had a couple of questions for you. Heard you got accepted to Notre Dame. Just give me a call back when you have a second. Thank you Michael.

-Mr. Baggins, this is Barry. Hey, uh, just wondering if your plans have changed or remained the same concerning work, just want to talk about timing and that sort of thing. Call me back and we'll figure it out.

-Hi Bubba this is Gary at Guitar Czar, I've got your guitar ready to go. Okay.

- Bubba, call your mother.

-Hi, this is Deanna at Stichin' Station, this message is for Kim. Just calling to remind you about the Afghan Knitting class on Thursday at 6:30. Thanks. (this was during my crossword and knitting phase).

-Hi you guys, it's Stace (Heaps). Just checkin in and and seeing what's going on in your lives. So call us when you have time. Bye.

-Oh, hi guys. This is Emily (Christensen) and we just miss you guys a ton. And I'm just getting even and calling you cause I want to talk to you but I'll call you this week. We're just dying to know what you guys decided and where you're going. I'll just try to call you sometime. Sorry I missed you, kay, we love you. Bye.

-Hello Kimita, this is Jamie (Eldredge). I'm just calling, I, um, there's an Invitational Track Meet tomorrow and I'm um calling to see if you guys could go. If you take the buses it's gonna take till 7 to get home and I don't want to stay till 7, so if you could give me a ride home or something that would be great. It's at East High - so call me so I know what I'm gonna do. Love you, bye.

-Hi Bubba, Risa wants you to do something, and me (Jeremy)too, yeah. Uh, but um, you know they have this poll on the Provo Herald Web page, it's Hark the Herald .com, it's just like, you know, in the bible - (to Risa) is that the bible? -um, just kidding, just get on there and it has a poll for governor and for some reason this poll Nolan's doing really crappy, he's doing really well on other ones but not this one so, but what you can do is when you go to the University of Utah , there at the library, there's all those computers, crank through 25, 30 computers, whatever you can , get in that many votes, but uh, Risa wants you to be sly about it, I don't think too many people will notice what you're doing, so that can be your small contribution to the campaign. But, uh, anyway, and if you want to, give us a call and say hello.

-Hey Kim, it's your mother, I'm just wondering if you needed that book. I have it, so call me. Bye.

-Bubba Karras, we're (Bubba's dad) looking for campaign workers at the campaign office on 4th south. Saturday from 2 till, I forget what it is, 6 or something like that. You'd just be making phone calls and handing it over, they're gonna have Rob Bishop there, who's a legislature, and Enid Greene and Norm Bangeter and Nolan talk to the people. They want people to dial for them. So, and also do some other campaign things like put stickers on stuff. So if you can make it down they'll make a party of it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things that make you go hmmm....

Carpeted Kitchens - Why was carpet ever considered an acceptable flooring option for a kitchen? It's one of those interior design ideas where form trumps function - only the form stinks. The only condition I can imagine where a carpeted kitchen would be a good idea is ... okay, I can't think of one. It is never a good idea - especially when you reside with a toddler who finds crunching crackers into the floor an immensely pleasurable activity.
The only thing worse than a carpeted kitchen is a carpeted bathroom - and believe me, I'd know since we've had the privilege of living in apartments with both. (For more evidence of the ills of carpet, read

Gas Prices - What's worse than paying $3.89 for a gallon of gas? Paying $4.09 for a gallon of gas. Last Tuesday, the price of gas at the gas station we patronize jumped 20 cents in one day. Who did kill that electric car?

Two-piece bathing suits - I hold nothing against two-piece swimsuits - especially my own body. Which is why I can't understand why every single swim suit I saw at Target was a 2 piece. Am I the only seeker of swimwear who doesn't want to expose her abdomen? Does no one else have something to hide? Give me some other options, please.

America Runs on Dunkin
- Dunkin Donuts' slogan puzzles me. It seems such an obvious misstatement. Perhaps I am taking it too literally, but does America really run on Dunkin? I would think "waddle" seems a more appropriate verb. Or "saunters", "meanders", or "slouches. " When I eat a donut, it makes me feel like taking up residence on my couch and drowning in the bluish glow of the television. The last thing it makes me want to do is run.

Diaper Genies - Whatever marketing exec came up with the name "Diaper Genie" must have done something right, because you would be hard pressed to find any other diaper pail on the market. But still, Diaper Genie? Really? Aren't genies the magical creatures that appear when a lamp is rubbed three times? For those of you who haven't had the honor of housing a Diaper Genie in your home, I'll let you in on a little secret - this is one container that you don't want to rub. There's something in that diaper pail, but it ain't no genie.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Having a new-born is perhaps the closest most women will ever come to being a celebrity. When you enter a room with an infant in arms, it is usually to the accompaniment of a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs". Shoppers at the grocery store kindly smile as you navigate the cart with baby aboard down the aisles. At the airport,you get to board the plane first; on the bus, fellow passengers readily offer you their seats. At restaurants or shopping malls you become accustomed to receiving adoring compliments from passing patrons. You know the compliments are directed at the baby, but you relish in them as if they were intended for you. The kindness of strangers is overwhelming, abundant, and extremely gratifying.

I was recently at Navy Pier with my family. Henry was tired of being confined by the stroller, and so we let him out to stretch his legs. He immediately took off, racing past the shops and restaurants, and I dutifully pursued him. As I captured him in my arms, I noticed a young couple watching the scene. Expecting the kind remarks I usually receive from strangers,I wondered what compliment they might offer me. Perhaps they would remark on Henry's astonishing speed. Or maybe they would comment on the adorable way his long, blond hair fell across his beautiful face. As they approached me, I eagerly awaited their praise, only to become crestfallen when the man smiled and said, "Now that's good birth-control."

What has happened to the kindness I have come to expect from strangers? I have begun to notice a change in tone in the way people respond to me and my toddler. At the grocery store, shoppers' smiles are increasingly replaced by looks of sympathy, or worse, unsolicited advice, as I struggle to contain Henry, and our groceries, in the shopping cart. The last time I boarded a plane, I noticed many of the passengers look down as I proceeded down the aisle, uttering urgent prayers that we were not their assigned row-mates. At the library, as Henry races about removing books from shelves, I can sense the librarians perceive him as at best an annoyance and at worst a threat.

My brief-lived near-celebrity status is coming to an end. As a mother of a toddler, I am more often viewed with the pity that one has for Brittany after her custody battle or Lindsay after rehab.Of course, the kindness of strangers has'nt disappeared completely, although its intensity has become somewhat diluted. It is the frequency, not the quality, of the compliments that has changed. As Henry becomes a full-fledged toddler, he can be more adorable than he ever was as a new-born: he can give big bear-hugs, laugh and smile, and even attempt to say "I love you." But with these new developments also comes kicking, biting, and full-on temper tantrums.

As far as I'm concerned, these difficulties are a small price to pay as I watch Henry's personality emerge and develop. But with the terrible twos fast approaching, I'm aware they'll more likely be heralded by the dissonant symphony of kicking and screaming than the adoring "oohs" and "aahs" from strangers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You Might Be a Red Neck If...

...your son's favorite toy is a disembodied stuffed bear called Little Bear. You can't decide whether to be amused or disturbed by the fact that Little Bear has to turn the pages when a book is read, eat at the dinner table, and take walks with the family.

... your mechanic tells you that the reason your car's "check engine" light is on is because some kind of rodent has chewed through all the electrical wires. This accounts for the several hours you invest searching "rodent prevention" on the internet and wandering the "Pest Control" aisle at the local hardware store.

...your abysmal lack of computer skills leads you to pack your non-functioning computer in a laundry basket and drop it off at the Easy Tech at Staples. You manage to leave the technician suspecting that you are a complete idiot as you attempt to explain the error in language that is anything but technical. Suspicion of idiocy is confirmed when the technician calls to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with said computer. are disappointed to find that the $600 per person/ $300 per child tax rebate doesn't actually apply to you because, the adjusted income amount on your 2007 tax return was too small. You end up receiving only 2/3s of what you expected, leaving you feeling hurt and afraid.

I am increasingly becoming aware that we belong to that demographic of poor, white, hardworking Americans that make up the core of Hillary Clinton's base.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Budget Inn

Henry enjoying the Budget's pool

The Budget Inn is an embarrassingly accurate name for a hotel. I would know, because the Budget Inn in St. George, Utah is the hotel my family has been staying at for years. The funny thing is, the hotel is pretty nice, as far as economy hotels go. It has an indoor and outdoor pool, a playground, and a mini-fridge and microwave in suite. Budget nothing.

Last week I joined my family for a little vacation in St. George. We all enjoyed some good joking at Budget's expense. There is something inherently hilarious about a name as honest as The Budget Inn. Like, when Traci's father-in-law asked her if our parents had a place in St. George, and she had to reply that no, but they had a room at The Budget Inn. Or when we ran into a friend at McDonalds, and, declining to state the name of where we were staying, instead motioned vaguely across the street.

We encountered another example of a brutally honest name when we ate at The Cheesecake Factory in Las Vegas. My sister ordered their Weight Management Salad. Must they call it the Weight Management Salad? It's specific, sure, but it also conveys too much information. Like the clothing store aptly called Big and Tall. Surely there are gentler, more euphemistic options.

I don't know what's worse: honest names or ironic ones. There seems to be a hint of sadism in the persistent trend to give trailer parks uncommonly luxurious names, like Country Club Estates. It's all good and well to tell people you live in the Country Club Estates, until they come over for dinner.

Bubba recently accidentally signed up for a discount entertainment card called Big Fun. He was making an on-line purchase and realized afterward that he had also enrolled in a program which gives minimal discounts at restaurants where we never eat for a monthly membership fee of $10. It was anything but big fun trying to cancel our membership, as the number listed on the back of the membership card had very limited customer service hours. We still keep receiving checks in the mail from Big Fun, with a nearly invisible disclaimer stating that, if cashed, we will be re-enrolled in the program.

It is not fun to deal with Big Fun, nor is it fun to tell the waitress you'll have a weight management salad. When Romeo exclaimed that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, he may have been right. The Budget Inn by any other name would still cost as cheap. But a name change may spare its guests from bouts of mild embarrassment.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Catapult

"Much madness is divinest sense, to a discerning eye", and so begins a poem by Emily Dickinson in which she illustrates the fine line that exists between sanity and lunacy. Certainly many brilliant ideas initially sounded like the product of an unsound mind: antibiotics, flight, the inter-web, the entire family of Ronco devices. Bubba has an idea of his own that has led to an on-going debate between us over which side of the sanity line it falls. His idea? The Catapult.

The Catapult was originally conceived among Bubba's friends (ie, the Clann) in high school. The concept is a little blurry and changes over the years, but the basic gist is a Clann owned restaurant/hang out that would cater to the college crowd and serve specialty donuts and hot chocolate (preferably Steven's Gourmet Hot Cocoa). A catapult would in someway be central to this dining institution, whether by design (the building would be in a shape of a catapult), by function (customers would receive their order via catapult), or some other yet to be imagined way.

Bubba is especially fascinated with the concept of food service via catapult. When I have, quite sanely, pointed out that this method of food distribution would be disastrous, he's suggested that other creative methods could also be considered. Alternative solutions include, but are not limited to, service of food by conveyor belt or the implementation of tube-technology similar to that of drive-through banking.

To whom does the discerning eye belong? I have always claimed to possess it, arguing that establishing a restaurant based on a novel means of food distribution is doomed to fail. But the opening of an "automated" restaurant in Germany may force me to forgo my claim. The restaurant, called Bagger's, is described as "automated" because it doesn't employ any servers. Instead, customers order their meals on table-top touch screens. Their orders are then moved from the upstairs kitchen to their tables via gravity operated ramps. Below is a picture of the joint, and I have to say, it looks pretty cool.

Maybe Bubba was right. Maybe one day the Clann will run a successful hip hang-out. Then I'll not only have to eat food served via catapult, I'll have to eat my words, too.