Sunday, July 31, 2011


Kimber: I'll clean up Graham's dresser tomorrow.

Nathan: If you keep putting things off until tomorrow, you'll have a lot of empty yesterdays.

Kimber: What greeting card did you get that from?

Nathan: Uh, President Thomas S. Monson.

Kimber: Touché.

The complete quote from President Monson's October 2008 General Conference talk, Finding Joy in the Journey: "I thoroughly enjoy many musicals, and one of my favorites was written by the American composer Meredith Willson and is entitled The Music Man. Professor Harold Hill, one of the principal characters in the show, voices a caution that I share with you. Says he, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays."'

Saturday, July 30, 2011

So I'm Reading a Fantasy Novel ...

I'm equally parts delighted and ashamed when I read a sentence like this:

"Blushweaver fell silent, watching the latest display from the firemasters."

I'm reading a fantasy novel. On the cover is this:

Apparently blue eyeshadow is not fashion suicide in the city of T'Telir (of the kingdom of Hellendren, duh!).

I don't think I'm the "typical" "raging fantasy nerd" (as my bro-in-law calls them). I'm not wearing an amulet, Graham's name isn't Wolfsong, and I didn't get engaged during a creative writing class taught by Brandon Sanderson (but I did witness such an event). But then there's the small part of me that wishes cloaks were in fashion ...

Back to reading Warbreaker. Thanks for the suggestion, Jenn!

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's About Cannibalism

I just finished watching The Way Back, a film adaptation of Slavomir Rawicz's memoir The Long Walk, an account of his and a few others' escape from a Siberian gulag (tsk tsk Communists!) and subsequent 4,000 mile trek to freedom through the Gobi dessert and Himalayas. Then I made the mistake of Googling the story ... and found out it was potentially all made up. My warm, fuzzy, inspired feeling was just consumed by the dark gray skepticism monster.

You will be thirsty while you watch this.

Anyway ... in the movie based on the book which may or may not be true, the little band survives by eating a snake. There's also a gross moment when Colin Farrel eats a little grubby caterpillar. Colin Farrel also contemplates eating some of his companions.

All this made me wonder ... what would I eat if I were hungry enough? Probably not human. Okay, I can say with certainty that I would not eat human. Because the goal would be survival, yes? So if I survived, I would then have to live with that super creepy knowledge that I was a cannibal. It's an elite club, yes, but the membership dues are brutal. Also, I looked up "cannibalism" on, and apparently we don't believe in it. In fact, a gory 1975 Ensign article written by a BYU psychology professor discusses how cannibalism can be seen a corruption of the sacrament.

So people are off the menu, but what about snakes? I'd be okay with snakes, I think. Especially if it were cooked. Snake would definitely not be the grossest thing I've eaten, I bet.

While at a tapas bar in Spain I had the displeasure of consuming the lining of a pig's (Google has corrected me) cow's stomach--unknowingly. That happens sometimes when you don't speak Spanish fluently and you're in a noisy bar and the man behind the counter just hands your roommate a plate of something and you say yes when she offers you a taste. There's a picture of the dish below. The flavor wasn't so horrible, but the texture was just like eating pure fat.

Looks kind of like honeycomb, right? Honeycomb of vomit!

It's a good thing a Carte D'Or shop was a few doors down so I could purge my mouth of the foulness with some expensive European chocolate ice cream.

What's the weirdest thing you've eaten? Feel free to comment anonymously if your answer is "human."

Thursday, July 28, 2011


After two months of trying "The No-Cry Sleep Solution," we've had to admit defeat. I was totally opposed to any type of "cry it out," method because it seemed selfish and heartless and unnecessary if you had enough patience. So for five and a half months now I haven't slept longer than a five-hour stretch (and there have been less than three of those long stretches in those five months--usually my longest stretch is three hours).

I never knew the lack of sleep could be so damaging, could wreak so much havoc on my physical and emotional stability--on my ability to be the kind of mom I wanted to be. I hated the feelings of anger and resentment that were coming to define my attitude towards being a mom when it came time to get Graham to sleep. And even when I wasn't trying to get Graham to fall and stay asleep--I was horribly exhausted, irritable, depressed, with no motivation or energy to be anything but a crying mess in sweat pants. Graham deserves more than a zombiemom.

I can honestly say that we are resorting to letting Graham cry himself to sleep not for my sake, but for Graham's. If I could be a wonderful (if a little sleepy) mother on three hours of sleep a night, then Graham would sleep next to me. He would fall asleep while I cuddle and nurse him, and he would stay in my arms all night. That's how I wish it could be. I would give up my nights for him if it didn't mean giving up his days. But I've discovered my limits; I can't be supermom and do everything every good parenting book suggests. I can wear Graham in my homemade baby carrier, I can laugh and play with him for hours-until my face is sore from all the smiley faces I'm making (true story), I can shield his little eyes from the evil television, and I can sing him I Am a Child of God seventy times seven times a day, but I can't go on with this little sleep.

It's hard when instinct and common sense and emotions all collide. When my maternal aspirations smack headfirst into my limitations as a mortal. When there are dozens of militant baby books all telling you to do something different--and that you're horrible or lazy if you aren't doing what they prescribe.

I used to judge the moms who let their babies "cry-it-out," and I probably still do to some extent. I don't think you should let newborns cry themselves to sleep. I don't think you should resort to this to meet your own needs. How you decide to nighttime/naptime parent should revolve around the needs of your child.

A part of me feels guilty about turning into one of those moms who plays the "I can't be a good mom unless my needs are met" card. Generally I think this excuse is lame and a rationalization of selfishness-mostly because I think lots of women mistake "wants" for "needs." (Another soapbox, as usual.) But these months have taught me that I have a very real need for sleep. And I definitely need to start having more charity towards other moms. I don't know the details of their lives. I don't know their motives.

Things I do know: I love Graham. I want to be a good mom for him more than anything else. It will be alright.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spoiler: Harry Potter Dies. JK! ... Rowling.

I saw HP7p2 tonight. Loved it. Probably because I haven't read the book recently or thoroughly enough to be persnickety about all the stuff I'm sure they cut out.

We aren't real ... but you wish we were.


How come the passage of 19 years didn't do anything to Hermione's face? Also, Harry's son seemed like a total pansy. "What if I get put in Slytherin?" Harry should have said, "You better be a Gryffindor! If you aren't, don't come home for Christmas. Santa doesn't give presents to Death Eaters."

British boys are pale.

Baby Voldemort=siiiick.

Kidney stone!!!

The Elder Wand looks like it has a little wasps' nest every few inches.

I hate when you've been waiting for a kiss for seven books, eight movies, and eleven years, and the shot of the kiss is blocked by Rupert's fat head. Gah!

Where does Hermione get her shoes? I liked them a lot. Also, where does she get her face? Jealous.

Snape. Too many conflicting emotions about Snape. Love to hate him, but love him!

My arms got tingly when Professor Flitwick started casting the force field charm. That's when you know a movie is true.

Chinese girl with a Scottish accent=way cool! Way! (that's for you, Steph ... not because you are part Asian, but because you are way cool)

Mischief managed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Somebody Call the Waaahmbulance

I haven't been getting a lot of sleep lately so I'm feeling grumpy. So it's time to complain about things I can't change and that don't matter.

1. Why are Blue Bell ice cream lids so hard to open?? Don't they know I'm dying for some high-calorie delish and that the extra ten seconds it takes to open the tub makes me that much more crazy for chocolate? It's their "freshness seal," so the college-age tour guide told me while I was on the Blue Bell creamery tour last week. Bah.

2. People who are overly into The Beatles. Yes, their music is great and innovative and blah blah blah Ringo blah Abbey Road blah blah Yoko's lame blah blah blah. It takes no skill to like The Beatles. In my musical ignorance, I declare them overrated. But I like them. However, I'm equally opposed to people who are interested in a band simply because no one else is. You aren't in high school any more! Stop denying that you love Britney Spears!

3. Professing that "my baby/husband/mom/goldfish is the best in the entire world." I'm sorry, but that just isn't true. You may love/appreciate/adore them more than anyone else--but your standards probably aren't unbiased. Is Nathan the best husband for me? Yes. Is he the best husband in the world? Probably not. Sorry, but he doesn't tolerate my failure to replace the tp roll when I finish one off, and until he does, he will continue being close to but not quite the best husband ever. Instead of blasting some false superlative about your loved one onto Facebook, think of something with actual meaning. Ex. "Nathan was so sweet today. He replaced the tp roll for me when I didn't." On a related note, Graham is the cutest perfect baby ever in the world beyond my wildest dreams.

My baby rocks.

4. Our mailbox is the very last stop on our mailman's route. And he's always smoking a cigar (chewing on it, really) while he sorts the mail and he never smiles back at me.

5. This creepy thank-you note that I got from Locks of Love.

My name isn't Melanie ... I was just too lazy to get an image of my own thank you note.
It's like there's some unhealthy symbiotic relationship going on. And what's with the disembodied heads? And one of them sporting a sultry/threatening look on her face? Then there's the random heart comet ... I love the charity's mission, but I am totally weirded out by this card.

I promise I will be less grumpy tomorrow. Because the freshness seal on my Blue Bell has been broken.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Graham's Riddle

I sit like a sphinx but know no riddles (except this one).
I have a self-inflicted bald spot but I am not a monk.
I have lived all my life in the United States but I do not speak English.

Who am I?


I'm Graham!

Check out this awesome outfit I got from my pal Jennifer (who has yet to meet me!):

I'm trying to channel James Dean here.

I love the juxtaposition of wild animals (bears) with domesticated (dog!). And then there are the frogs--which, in their ability to be found in both fish tanks and natural ponds, offer a nice bridge between the other animals of the outfit. I think they really pull it all together--that's probably why they chose frogs for the showcase area: my little feet. Except I noticed something interesting while sucking on my toes ...

Mutant frog!!!

One of the frogs has four eyes!! It reminds me of those crazy frogs they found a few years ago with all the extra legs and stuff. I was going to put up a picture of those, but they are too scary.

The horizontal stripes aren't doing much for my baby paunch.

So, a while ago I could sit up pretty well if I could lean up against something, like the couch or Dad. But guess what?

I can do it all by myself now! Sometimes I'm a little wobbly, though ...


... and I have trouble getting up. Mom helps me out, though.

And then we make cornbread together. Can you guess how we got them to bake like this?

Oh ho ho, it's magic, you knoooow!

It's time for me to go to bed without any protest, like I do every night, right Mom? (heehee)


Chiquita Grahamana

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shocking Confessions

I just found out that my husband watched Dragon Ball Z as ... a high schooler.

In his words, "It was awesome."

I'm sorry, Asians, but I hate your cartoons. They weird me out. Especially that one, Spirited Away. Creepy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tears and Plot Devices

I just finished The Book Thief, and I cried about three times in the last fifty pages. I don't remember the last time a book made me cry. Why did I care so much? Because I loved the characters. Liesel, Hans, Rosa, and Rudy! Poor Rudy.

I would love to write a book worthy of a cry one day.

Until then, here's a cool video I got from an awesome blog.

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Corn: In Memoriam

Let me tell you a little bit about corn ...

Especially my heart ... and my stomach.

First off, Nathan's dad is the head HR honcho at a corn plant in Iowa, which means that as far as corn royalty goes, I'm pretty much a duchess. Like Catherine. (Sidenote: Is it un-American of me to love William and Kate? Sigh.)

A memory of corn ...

I had just completed kindergarten when it happened. When some miscreants cornnapped my beloved little plant.

My family was living in an apartment then, waiting for our house on NE 36th Street to be built. It was a first-floor apartment, and the back porch faced an unfenced grassy area (the same area where I stepped barefoot into a pile of dog poop ... I shall never forget that sensation ... shudder), bordered by a road with a vacant lot on the other side. The porch was therefore difficult to defend against thieves.

But I was six, and I wanted my little plant to have the sun it needed and deserved, so onto the porch it went, seemingly safely nestled in it's little blue plastic pot. I gave little thought to the fact that just one corn plant won't produce much. There's that PG-13 fertilization that has to go on ... but I was naive to both the intricacies of plant reproduction and the cruelty of man, so my corn was celibate and defenseless.

It looked like this. The pot, not the corn.

Corn was my favorite food at the time. On the cob, frozen, from the can, as an additive of some form or another in any processed food--I loved it all. So I planted a withered kernel into the black soil, anxious for the magical rising of the perfectly green spear that was my corn seedling. When I say "perfectly green," I mean the color green that means life. The freshest green. The cleanest, most delicious green. That green would grow something yellow, yellow and sweet ... corn. (I am so mad that some gross metal band stole this innocent little vegetable's phonetics.)

And I'm pretty sure I was growing my little corn plant organically, thank you. My dad may have slipped some chemical fertilizer into the soil, the capitalist!

My cornbaby was nearing a foot in height when our family went away to Utah to celebrate the 4th of July with my cousins and grandparents. I remember the trip because my great grandmother died on Independence Day while mowing the lawn in preparation for the family party. Was I graceful about our planned trip to Lagoon being replaced by her funeral? Probably not. I remember being really bummed about it, but I think I had enough social awareness not to whine too much about missing out on The Samurai. And then at the funeral my mom suggested I touch my grandma's hand ... her dead hand. And I did, and I was simultaneously creeped out and proud of myself for having touched my first (and last) dead person.

Back to the story of the loss I felt a bit more keenly (a testament to my horrible priorities as a six-year-old. What can I say? I loved corn).

Short story short, I came home to find my corn plant gone. Pot, gone. Dirt, gone. Cornbaby, gone. Dreams, gone.

I cried, and my dad blamed teenagers for the theft. That was probably when I started hating teenagers.

My bro-in-law Louis put a link on his Facebook today to an article on how employers may do "background checks" on your internet history. That makes me worry about writing things about hating teenagers. What if I want to be a high school bus driver one day and my potential boss finds out that I will hate my passengers? There goes that dream.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lessons from a Mediocre Housewife: Kitchen Edition

I make the mistakes so you don't have to!

I've discovered the sinister natures of four seemingly docile foods. After extensive time in the field, here are my notes:

"G'day mate. I have an ugly hump on me back and I'm a crotchety old fish."

Fish: If you had fish for dinner--any kind of fish--count on doing the dishes that night. Don't heed the seductive, oily voice of procrastination and let them wait until the morning. Unless, of course, you want to wake up to an olfactory sensation akin to having Shamu's damp, mildewed beach towel wrapped around your face.

"You may say I'm a cleaner, but I'm not ..." -John Lemon

Lemons: Lemons are touted as one of nature's best cleansing agents, but don't be deceived. If you try hard enough, they will stain. Like if you roll and smash them on your counter top in an effort to ready them to be juiced by hand because you don't have a juicer and strawberry lemonade just sounds so good ... there will be permanent yellow smudges on your counter. Your rented counter.

Oat plant that looks like it's growing alien larvae

Oatmeal: I've discovered the new superglue: dried oatmeal. Oatmeal is like the antithesis of a gremlin. Similar to how you don't want to get the little critters wet or they spawn evil, you don't want to let oatmeal dry out ... I'll let you imagine the horrific creature that starts to parasitically consume your bowls and spoons.

Some peppercorns in the woods. Mmm, spicy.

Pepper: If you run out of peppercorns and your pepper grinder/dispenser is empty, don't refill it with already ground pepper, unless you want to find a little pile of pepper droppings left behind every time you move the pepper shaker.

Learn from my unwisdom. Don't underestimate the ingredients in your kitchen. Respect them, and they will respect you. Maybe.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Behold ... Our Little Water-grubbing, Grunting Eagle

Not Graham. Did you know that a "Baby Eagle" is also a type of pistol? Just like Kimber!

I feel like my entries have been kind of lame lately ... lacking a ton of effort or creativity, you know. A joke about policemen? Come on! So here are two videos of something I did put a lot of effort and creativity into.

Yeah, yeah, we're not supposed to give Graham anything but milk until he's six months old. But Nathan introduced this while I was on the Lord's errand (visiting teaching), so Graham will be protected from water intoxication or whatever else might happen, right?

He isn't doing what you think he's doing in this video ... he's just being cute in a way that only his parents you should love.

In other news, I'm going to my very first benefit gala tonight! I would feel posh and wealthy ... but it's only $10 and a fajita bar, for our apartment complex's groundskeeper, who was apparently in a really bad car accident with his wife a few weeks ago. I will gladly eat fajitas to help cover his family's medical bills, but I can't help feeling like this little shindig is putting an Elmo-bedecked Band-Aid on the gaping wound that is the probably failure of our apartment complex in providing the benefit of health insurance. A soapbox for another day ... I have to go ready my ballgown for the gala ... and change Graham out of his yellow-spotted onesie. (sheepish ... what do you do with poo-stained baby clothes that are otherwise completely wearable??)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My To-Be Wishlist

I have a list of women I aspire to be like. It's not written down anywhere, although I probably should document it so I can do better about remembering all the bits of people I want to call my own.

I'm adding to the list constantly. You're probably on the list. I want some of you. I think you're great.

I want Molly's way of making people feel like they're her best friend, her down-to-earthness.

I want Amy's confidence in her parenting.

I want April's inner (and outer!) beauty, her knowledge of the scriptures.

I want Sister Always Wears Her Hair in a Bow's way of gently making strong points in Relief Society, avoiding the fluff without being harsh, and knowing the doctrine while knowing people's hearts.

I want Sharon's ability to laugh.

I want Stephanie's sweetness and patience, her knowledge of Harry Potter trivia.

I want to be a glamorous, humble, and competent mom like Melissa.

I want Holly's strong testimony and discipline, her friendliness and willingness to serve. I want an apartment right next to her's again.

I want Dana's skills and her accepting sweetness.

I want Naomi's hair.

The list is miles longer, but I thought I'd get started on it. I feel like every woman I meet has something--often many things--to offer me in way of example. I hope I'm returning the favor in my own way. I feel like if I associate with enough awesome women, eventually they'll all rub off on me just a little, and then I will be covered in their coolness ... the eraser rubbings of wonderful women. How's that for a metaphor? Ha!

Tomorrow: videos of Graham.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I can't believe I forgot to post! I was totally going to, and then Nathan was doing something on the computer, and it was late, and I was tired, and my back hurt, and my house was messy, and then I went to bed. Sigh.

Is it alright if I date stamp this post as the 17th, even though it was written on the 18th? Let me consult the blog president.

Yes, that's fine.

She said it was okay.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Duck Moment

A sitting duck.

The semester before Nathan and I got married, we both lived just south of BYU campus. We would often walk home together, as engaged couples are apt to do, and our route home often took us on the path past the fabled duck pond (formally known as the botany pond, but hello, there are ducks there. Ducks=duck pond).

Sometimes, there would be a cute little duck curled up on the path, sleeping in his feather bed. So serene, so vulnerable, so ... shaped like a football. It would just be so perfect to ... punt the duck across the pond.

Those little orange legs remind me of something ...

Cruel, I know. Senseless violence, you say. Yes, yes, of course it is. But is is so opportune. So just right. Oh, it would feel so good to just skip a little as I break free of Nathan's hand, gather a bit of speed, pull my right leg back as my left leg plants firmly to the left of the duck--just like a penalty kick--then the top of my right foot connects perfectly with the underbelly of the duck, sending it flying down the path, a projectile of shock and feathers. Yes, that would be just right.

It's not that I want to hurt the duck, not at all. And I never have followed through with the impulse. This is the nature of the "Duck Moment." Basically, whenever a wonderful opportunity for mischievous violence presents itself, that's a Duck Moment.

Little kid running aimlessly by your park bench? If you just extended your leg, just a little bit, at just the right time ... ? Duck Moment.

Husband eating a bowl of popcorn ... it reminds you of confetti. If you just popped the bottom of the bowl up just so ... Duck Moment.

Child leaning over the edge of a fountain,straining to get his pudgy hand under the stream? If you just bumped him a little with your hip, maybe just shoved him ... ? Duck Moment.

Wife lying on the edge of the couch during a nice cuddle, on the very edge?  If you just gave a little push ... ? Duck Moment.

You've got a soft, rotten peach, excavated from the dark recesses of the drawer at the bottom of your fridge. A cocky-looking jogger runs just beneath your balcony ... Duck Moment.

You know you've experienced a Duck Moment. If not, you're about to start because I made you think of it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Perning Kangs

You all know how much of a refined foodie I am. Because, come on, I have Dijon mustard in my fridge. Right next to my Newman's Own Oil and Vinegar salad dressing. Because what's more posh than oil and vinegar? So simple, so understated, so "refrigeration not necessary." But there it is, in my fridge, because I would just feel weird (shudder) with an opened bottle of salad dressing in my pantry. Weird I say!

On this Foodie Friday I will be gracing you with something more sweet to the palate than my tricked-out bon Appetit-worthy condiments.

I give you, Perning Kangs.

Top-secret recipe (sorry for spilling the family secret, Mom)

The players: (Pay close attention, these are complicated.)


1. Box of Jell-O Brand Cook & Serve Chocolate Pudding: It doesn't matter which size ... get the bigger one if you want more. Tricky, I know. I get the bigger one because I like leftovers. Also, don't get all lame and buy the "Great Value" crap. Even though I buy Great Value for pretty much everything else and really don't believe there is a noticeable difference for most things, I think there should be some upper-class integrity to a Perning Kang (keeping it foodie here). Also, every good human hates Wal-Mart, probably because they are an excellent example of capitalism at work. I just hate it when the American dream works out and companies flourish.

"Buy my pudding!" "Heck, no!"

2. Needed amount of milk for pudding: The higher the fat content, the more delicious your Perning Kang will be. Duh!

3. Cheap vanilla ice cream: Isn't the cheap ice cream less delicious? For all other purposes, perhaps, but not for Perning Kangs. I suspect it's because cheap ice cream relies on artificial thickening ingredients to reproduce that thick creaminess found naturally in superior ice creams. What this means is that as the cheap ice cream melts, it retains a more desirable thickness, whereas premium ice creams become more liquid as they melt. Also, I like to eat my Perning Kangs as fast as possible, so I'm not exactly savoring each bite of pricey ice cream like I would if I were eating ice cream alone.

The exact kind I used last night. Note the friendly spokescow.

The script:

1. Make the pudding, and keep it hot. Until last night, I always cooked my pudding on the stove, but the constant stirring gets old really fast. I tried it in the microwave last night, and it was just fine. Yeah, yeah, microwaves may kill some of the nutrients or whatever, but guess what? I'm eating ice cream smothered in pudding--do I care about nutrients as I shovel this glorious mixture into my face? That's a big, high-fat NO.

2. Scoop the ice cream. Come on ... give yourself another scoop. If you are a Perning Kang veteran, you may want to scoop your ice cream first and then put it back in the freezer so it is the maximum hardness when the next, glorious step is performed.

3. Pour hot pudding over the ice cream.

4. Eat like mad!

This stuff is good. Each bite is a mix of hot and cold, chocolate and vanilla, Darth Vader and Luke. Marvel as the Pangea of ice cream yields to the torrid sea of pudding. As the pudding burns, the ice cream soothes. Yum.

I grew up with my mom eating these ... never the kids, I don't know why. They probably fell into the same category as tapioca pudding: a treat my mom made herself to recover from a day spent enjoying her five beautiful children. I think I finally tasted my own Perning Kang at the worthy age of sixteen. That makes sense, seeing how Perning Kangs are pretty much better than dating.

Why are these called Perning Kangs? Why am I asking so many rhetorical questions in this post? To the former question, the answer is that my family just comes up with weird names for food (ex. Yankee Doodle, Chicken in a Cuddle Blankie, M45, etc.). Mom, is there a story behind the name?

I'll admit, this dessert probably wouldn't make it into bon Appetit. It's basically poor man's fudge over cheap ice cream. But that poor man is satisfied. And he has leftover pudding for breakfast the next day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

That Kid ...

Most definitely wearing a cloth diaper.

There's one in every ward. You know the kid I'm talking about. The one who just. won't. shut. up. The one who giggles maniacally while the sacrament is being passed, not because he remembered some funny joke from a popsicle stick, but because his parents are tickling him. The one who runs a steeple chase under and over the pews, leaving a trail of snot and stickiness behind him. The one who runs up and down the chapel aisles like a babe possessed. Despite the locale, no exorcism is performed, to the regret of the entire congregation, minus the two who spawned such a demon.

Oh, how I judge that little innocent being, a victim of his (lack of) parenting. Oh, how I yearn to call up the she-bears to devour his parents. Oh, how I want to seize his little zip-up tie and ...

Anyway, enough of my being a Pharisee.

Here's a poem--an anti-ode, perhaps?--that I wrote about this topic.

Adoring Madonna

The little brat in Sunday school will not
Obey his mother. He is screaming hell
And damning his fruit snacks. His mother laughs
And pats his gaping, sticky mouth. I roll
My eyes at the behavior, knowing that
The God above would smite the little imp
If not for age-mandated innocence.
He’s writhing like a monkey, smearing his
Be-jellied little paws against the white
Of Mother’s Renaissance blouse. She turns to
The women near her, whispers, “He is such
A little clown! You’ve got to love him.” Next
He tears the hymnal as his mother scolds,
A smile oozing love unqualified.
Behold the little one, the holy terror.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blackberry Bramble

This is a poem I wrote for my poetry class a year ago. It's about a blackberry bush that was in my backyard in Boise. It's an English sonnet--in iambic pentameter--and I am proud of it. I'm not saying it's amazing, but I am happy with the result. Iambic pentameter was difficult to work with at first, but I found it very fun once I got the rhythm--a bit like a literary Rubik's cube. That's what I love about poetry--good poetry isn't just "expression" or a random assortment of words tossed dramatically onto the page. Good poetry follows rules, or works around or breaks them if there is good reason. There is no "just because," and I like that.

Blackberry Bramble

My backyard has a blackberry bramble,
That creeps and tangles pine, reluctant host.
Through needles, sharp, the lode the vines gamble,
And form a cave, the fort I love the most.

I creep into my shadowed berry cave
To pluck the purpled gems from whippish vines
That hang so low with dimpled globes. I crave
The leaf-dressed amaranthine sugared brine.

I dream of jam and tarts and berry pie
As thorned nets grasp my curls and black-stained coat.
A lush and juicy berry meets my eye,
It slips, de-juiced and crushed, on down my throat.

I turn to leave the tangled briar net,
My mouth, with berry blood, so sweet and wet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bookshelf, Bookshelf, Where'd You Get That Book, Shelf?

At any time, I am almost sure to be reading anywhere from two to six books. I love reading, and after a recent realization that since becoming a mother I hadn't read anything but The Baby Book by Dr. Sears and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, I decided I must resume reading in order to preserve my mind, my sanity, and my passion for the written word. One library card later ...

On my writer's shelf:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King

I'm loving this. I've never read anything by Stephen King until now, although I've watched a few film adaptations of his work. His style is so easy to read--not that it's simple-minded at all--it just flows. And his voice is very distinct without overpowering his content. While I don't agree with all his ideas, and his language is a bit colorful every once in a while, I'm finding this book motivating and interesting.

On my reader's shelf:

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

My Aunt Becca recommended this book to me, raving about how every sentence is pure poetry. I'm only on page 50 of 550, but I already know she is right. It's set in WWII Germany, and I find the different perspective refreshing. Narrated by Death, this book is lyrical. It's the type of fiction that I can read for fun but still feel enriched and inspired by. I would definitely not mind being caught by an old professor reading this.

On my parent's shelf:

Brain Rules for Baby, by John Medina

I just finished this, so technically it's on my "to return to the library bookshelf." Written by a developmental molecular biologist, this book approaches babies and young children from a very biological point of view. I really liked that the author vetted any studies mentioned in his book to those published in peer-reviewed journals and successfully replicated. No junk science or pop psychology here. What I really enjoyed was that all the advice in this book perfectly complemented my education as a family scientist--only this was the from the "brain science" perspective instead of the "social science" perspective. I loved that the two disciplines validate each other in this area. Another thing co-validated: the gospel. All the parenting principles outlined in this book were familiar to me, not only because of studying families and human development in college, but because of the church. The best parents are, in a word, Christlike. Very empathic and loving, but they also have high standards for their children. This book also comforted me as a new parent. How do I raise a smart child? Do I need all the bells and whistles of electronic toys and early reading programs? No. The best thing to do for your baby's intellectual development: talk to them, a lot. Also, no TV ... but that's another soapbox.

On my cook's shelf:

Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, by Stephanie O'Dea
Most of the recipes in this book don't meet my health standards (low meat, low processed foods, high in grains and veggies), but I am always looking for new Crockpot ideas so I was excited to find this cookbook at the library. There's also a blog. I've tried a couple of the recipes and they've been great. I love slow cooking. I feel like such a gold medal housewife when dinner is essentially done by 9 am.

On my brainless toad's shelf:

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, by Linda Berdoll
I saw this on the library shelf and thought I remembered someone somewhere saying something about how this was good. So I checked it out and brought it home, ignorant of the smutty content within. Like most things female, I love Pride and Prejudice, so I thought this would be a fun sequel, though I had my doubts about whether I even wanted to read it and thus replace my own imaginings of what happened after Jane Austen's genius novel ends. Thank goodness for Amazon reviews. Before even starting the book, I looked it up to see if it was any good, and I found so many tales of how sexually explicit and poorly-written this book was. So I didn't even read the first page. So I'm in search of another brainless toad book to entertain me--one I would feel embarrassed to be reading in front of a literature professor, but not my bishop.

What's on your bookshelf?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Peter and the Wolf and Scut Farkus

I got a wonderful package in the mail today from my Aunt Becca, or rather Graham got a package. It was this lovely CD:

I told Nathan I want to name one of our girls "Bowie," and he said no. Pout.

David Bowie? Yes, please! In a wolf hood? For sure! To Prokofiev! !!!!!!  Aunt Becca, you know my soul.

So I started to play the beauty music (a musical symphony with narration, written for children-how cool!) while I made leftovers for dinner, and Nathan realized he recognized it! Not just the music, but the narration. And I thought that maybe I did, too.

Then, track six started to play. A chill filled my heart as "the wolf" motif played. I definitely knew this song, but from somewhere else ...


I am delighted that one of my favorite movies, A Christmas Story, used a composition by a Soviet composer. Then there's the parallel between the scene in the movie and the plot of "Peter and the Wolf": the cute and innocent are attacked by the furry and ugly ... but then the cute and innocent triumph over the furry and ugly.

This reminded me of one of the main benefits, I think, of being educated about the humanities: you recognize them. I realize this doesn't sound that cool, but it feels really great when you recognize a subtle homage to something artistically grand. Especially when it involves mythology. Greek mythology is everywhere, and until I took a class on it, I had no idea! Once you get educated, it's like you're in on the elitist joke. Otherwise, you are completely oblivious to all these sub-levels of thought and detail that went into a work--you don't know the why.

It's all homage and allusions. Artists paying tribute, winking at, piggybacking off of their predecessors and contemporaries, saying "we're connected." Connections make things funny, relevant, interesting. When you are aware of those connections, you can experience the movie, the song, the book, the photo of tourists recreating the cover of Abbey Road that much deeper. And it doesn't always come from a knowledge of the classics--just knowing stuff helps. Like the little dragonfly in The Rescuers (1977-had no idea it was that old) who pushes the mice around in the leaf boat. His name is Evinrude. Weird name, I thought as a kid. Years later I learn that Evinrude is a brand of outboard motors! Haha! How fun, how witty, how thoughtful. It was completely lost on me, confusing even, until I had the key to unlock its meaning. The key: education.

Get off Facebook, turn off reality TV (except Masterchef ... never Masterchef!), and read something! Listen to good music! Go to the art museum! Live! I promise, so many other areas of your life will be enriched. Your cultural vocabulary will increase. You will know what people are talking about. You may even make some witty allusions yourself! 

A silver dollar to the person who can come up with the best allusion-containing caption to this picture.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Wondering ...

This is kind of morbid, but I've always wondered how someone missing a limb knows if they are overweight. Or do they take advantage of the fact that they're missing a 30 lb leg when calculating their BMI? Do they not tell the nurse at the scale in the doctor's office that one of the legs beneath their jeans is a slim 8 lb carbon fiber model? Just wondering.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Diaper Me This, Diaper Me That

So hot right now.
Does it make me a bad mother that the reason I choose Pampers over Huggies is not fit, quality, or price, but that Pampers don't make Graham look like he's wearing a loincloth? I'm also swayed by the character endorsements. I'm all about baby Sesame Street characters (Pampers), and having Pooh on a diaper (Huggies) just seemed a little too punny for me. And before you think I'm some name brand elitist, I can get diapers super cheap from Amazon. Otherwise it would be Costco brand for my little nugget's college baby bottom.

Loin cloth.

Nathan wanted to be extra thorough.
I considered cloth diapering for nearly my entire pregnancy, because the environment is pretty much by best friend, right after money. So I painstakingly researched every cloth diaper brand, materials and their different absorbencies, and how to wash the little cloth demons. Then I realized ... I hate doing laundry. Well, I hated it in Wymount because I had to trudge it all down three flights of stairs and across the quad and then a parking lot to the little laundromat. Then I had to haul it all back. Ugh, it was loathsome. So the thought of having to do that not once a week as per my lovely organized schedule, but every couple of days?!?!--it snapped me back to reality. I don't want to do more laundry; I want to throw that steamy little package in the trash. Huzzah.

Doesn't he just look like sugar cookie dough? Mmm.
I asked Nathan for his thoughts on diapers. He shared his surprise that Pampers hasn't engineered something to prevent the up-the-back blowout. I agree. Huggies has some elastic waist feature that I think is meant to prevent this, but I never saw it succeed. Also, the elastic kind of pulled the tabs inward into the mess while changing, so it caused more problems. So maybe I do have reasons to prefer Pampers.

Well, this post is very mommish and potentially boring or gross to all my childless friends. In my defense, just you wait. You will have little pooping gremlins one day and then see how much of a priority all this is. You'll be addressing the matter about eight times a day for two years (or less if you have a whiz (haha) kid like Graham who is already potty trained! only poops twice a week).

Speaking of potty training ... am I totally naive that I think it won't be that big of a deal? Seriously, just let the kid run around outside sans pants for a few days. He can come back in when he figures it out. He'll love it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reflections on Strawbreeze

Strawberries are my favorite fruit. If you say it "STRAW-breeze," you will seem British and sophisticated. Also, while watching a cooking show featuring an Australian chef, I realized that one of the tricks to faking an Aussie accent (one of the harder ones), is replacing all the short "e" sounds with short "i's." Special=spishel. See this strawberry? It's so spishel. I bit you want to eat it.

O, glorious, dimpled fruit, mmm.

Strawberry Shortcake was created because "market surveys showed that little girls connected emotionally with strawberries and felt 'security and affection' in relation to them" (Thomas, 58). I read this in a wonderfully scary book, Buy, Buy, Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds. Despite the darker marketing origins of the little redhead Strawberry Shortcake, I can totally relate! Strawberries do mean security and affection! Why, when I was a little girl, when people would make fun of my fuzzy hair, I'd come home from school and just sit in our strawberry patch, spilling all my woes to the little sproingy green plants and their red, heart-shaped treasures. They would listen, and when I was done crying my salty, soil-contaminating tears, those little strawberries would offer words of comfort and thoughtful suggestions. And then I would eat a couple of them.

Ah, a royalty check from the pernicious marketers. How wonderful!

Today, while preparing some strawberries for my bowl of Honey Bunch of Oats with Almonds (best cereal ever!), I felt like a real adult--a rare feeling. I was cutting the strawberries that awesome, dangerous-seeming way where you pinch berry and blade together with your slightly crooked index finger and thumb. There's that moment when you've cut through the last bit of berry and the edge of the blade presses just barely into the flesh of your thumb--it amazes me every time that I don't cut my thumb off. I remember watching my parents cut fruit this way when I was little and I was so in awe. They are so brave, I thought. I would imitate them with butter knives and bananas, but you don't get the same thrill when there's no risk of laceration. But there I was this morning, standing at the kitchen counter slicing a strawberry onto my cereal with smooth, deft motions. And I thought, I have motor skills! I am brave! I am a grown-up! It was wonderful.

Strawberry Sandwich:
Brianna's Poppyseed dressing

Combine, and be translated.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Mother Haikus

(cue delicate bongo drumming)

I have tangled hair.
And knockoff bags beneath
Mascara-less eyes.

My toast: it is burnt.
Curse you, big toaster oven.
Leave my small counter.

Your little breathing
used to click, a notch, a tap.
Now the click is gone.

I know, I know! A steady diet of Blue Bell ice cream and leftover tacos, coupled with extreme sleep deprivation, produces quite the poetic muse in me.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why Graham is Awesome

Because I know you all read this blog for pictures of Graham and accounts of his awesomeness ... allow me to showcase my little dude.

He looks like a Cabbage Patch doll. And see that sparkly little Band-Aid on his gloriously fat thigh? A couple weeks ago this little trooper got his 4-month shots and was so brave. Then he let me do that goofy thing with his shirt that I love.

I LOVE my dad!!!!!!

Graham loves his dad. He is happiest when he wakes up in the mornings and when Dad comes home from work. I love watching them laugh together.

Look at the breakfast Graham helped me make for Father’s Day. Graham was responsible for the hash browns, and he cultivated the strawberries in our garden.

Graham loves to read. He will totally hold the book with me and even turns the pages! This is not a lie! (Like that part about the hash browns and strawberries-that was a lie.)

Is he starting to look like me at all yet?

He was good for the babysitter while Nathan and I ran a mud run! For Father’s Day I got this for Nathan. Apparently it’s been a dream of his for years. The course was a mudified BMX track.

Complimentary buffet in the executive suite? Hollah!
Graham’s first baseball game! We got sweet suite tickets to an Astros game from Exxon. We lost, but Graham was the champion of the night, charming the other interns even after his bedtime had long past.

Rockin' the 'stocks

Look at this cute church outfit! His feet were too fat for the sandals to last longer than sacrament meeting, but it was adorable while it lasted.


AHHH! CUTENESS. Graham allowed his father (yes, Nathan was the genius behind the Americana outfit) to dress him festively for the 4th of July. 

Graham and his bodyguard, to keep the paparazzi away

Graham is smart and protects his skin from harmful UV rays. I have never seen anyone rock a bucket hat like that, either.

Nom nom nom.

I love my little Graham. His hair is feather-soft and he has little seashell ears. I love how he sticks his tongue out when he coughs and spreads his arms like a little eagle when I come to pick him up. He is such a sweet little guy, and I love spending my days with him.