Monthly Archives: October 2009


Last month the church decided to consolidate all midweek activities for children over the age of eight into one time slot on Wednesday evenings. Hallelujah–I no longer have to run all over town four or five days a week. One trip–and I stay and help now too, since I got my new calling (calling: that's Mormon jargon for an assignment your bishop volunteers you to do for an indefinite period of time) to teach the 12 and 13 year old girls. 
Anyway. Last week as we were getting our coats and shoes together, my daughter looks at me and says, "You're not wearing that shirt are you?"
"Actually, I am." I said.
"Mom," she protested, "We have, like, ten minutes before we have to leave. You have time to change your shirt."
The shirt in question is a dark green t-shirt of the thinner variety. It has an ear of corn screenprinted on in and it reads, "Shucks!". Corny, I know, but I didn't pick it out because I was charmed by its wit. I found it in a bag of hand-me-downs meant for my boys a few years ago and thought–Hey, now there's a good shirt. It is loose, lightweight, and doesn't show every little splatter. Well, except for the white stripe from when I was painting the fence last spring and maybe a few other splatters here and there. But it's in significantly better shape than the grey shirt it replaced. That one had twenty-seven different colors of paint on it and was so thin it didn't even exist anymore in places. That shirt was not suitable for public viewing. My Shucks! shirt, well. I wear it (and others like it) while tending explosive small children and at the end of the day, if I have somewhere to go, well, I don't have anyone to impress, do I? I expressed this sentiment out loud.
My daughter disagreed. I could tell this from the look she was trying to not have on her face. So I tried to compromise by putting on a dark grey hoodie over it. "Now can I wear it?" I asked. 
"It's fine," my son groaned. (Yes! I thought, My boys will back me up on this one.) "Look, she can zip it up." 
I zipped it to my neck and promised not to take it off. I might have crossed my fingers.
"Okay," she said, "But you are NOT wearing those shoes."
The shoes are twice as wide as my feet (all the better to slip on, my dear) and also covered with twenty-seven colors of paint. They are older than the grey shirt, you see. I wear them all over the house, yard and garden because they are easy on, easy off, and they are comfortable. Indestructible, too.  I try not to wear them to church or the store, but sometimes I forget. Sometimes I really don't care. 
She cared. 
So I took off the shoes. I peeked out the blinds to where five of my children were getting in the van and noted the time. I had eight minutes. My conscience twanged. I sighed. Not only did I take off the shirt, I got in the shower just in case there was lingering vomit to rinse out of my hair.  You never know. I put on clean everything. I got in the van in the eight-minute time window and passed inspection. It was dark, but still, I passed.
She cared. I find that disturbing and comforting, both. I don't remember caring what my mother wore. It's like she sees me as a real person, and I guess that's the comforting part, isn't it?

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My own, personal Question Of the Day–Why, more than 119 years after Francis Robbins Upton filed his patent for an electric smoke detector/fire alarm, hasn't anyone improved that little plastic box on my ceiling to the point where it can differentiate between potentially life-threatening situations and say, a smoldering crumb or a rapidly boiling pot of water or even the steam from a really hot shower?
And speaking of smoldering crumbs–in July of 1909, Frank Shailor filed the first US patent for an electric toaster. The idea had been kicking around for some time and the toaster went through so many incarnations that even the Toaster Museum doesn't know for sure who truly invented the first electric toaster, but in 1926 the Waters Genter company definitely began selling the Toastmaster 1-A-1, which promised to pop-up automatically when the bread was toasted. 
So why, again after a hundred years or so, hasn't anyone invented an automatic toaster that actually does what it promises to do–that is, toast (both sides of) the bread evenly, consistently, and then pop up after the maillard reaction has worked its carmelizing wonders on the surface of the bread but before carbonization sets in? 
Does your toaster live up to its claims? Do I just keep buying really pathetic excuses for kitchen appliances? I'm ready to go back to tearing off chunks of bread, spearing them with a long stick, and roasting them over an open fire. If nothing else, it would cut back on the amount of slicing I'd have to do.

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The Insidious American Schwa

When I moved to the States, Americans made fun of my interjection of choice–eh?

I found it preferable to theirs–huh?  Sounds a bit less dull-witted, but gradually and for the most part I lost my eh.
I resisted, however, succumbing to the American habit of converting all vowel sounds to the schwa which permits them to pronounce things like "uh elephant ate uh apple" with ease. Truly, the indefinite article "an" is unamerican, at least around here. Maybe even pretentious. And even the ones that do  say "an apple" it's not "ahn apple", it's "uhn apple."
This morning I asked a child if they would like uh egg. 
In my defense, mentally I mixed the schwa in "some eggs" in there and changed my mind at the last second to say "an egg" and lost the n in the process. I most definitely uttered an "uh". Realized that I even if I'd squeezed the n in there, I was still going to say "uhn egg". Realized that I have lost all my "ah" sounds. I think I probably say "uhn apple" now with the rest of them.
Not proud to be American this morning. 
Glum even. 
So to all my Canadian family and friends–Happy Thanksgiving, eh? I miss your clean snow and your wide open prairies, your mountains and your diction! 

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Birthday Lists

My six-year-old has been planning his birthday party feverishly for some time now. 
This morning he very carefully made up a guest list–it has four people on it–three cousins and a two-year-old we used to watch pretty much 18 hours a day until he moved over to the rainy side of the mountains. He  even oriented all the letters the right way except for the Z's. I didn't have the heart to point that one out; there were three of them.
He knows–and has documented–what he wants for breakfast, lunch, after school snack and dinner; what kind of cake, movie and presents. 
Now I just have to keep track of the lists for the next 161 days or so.

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The Invisible Cabinet

In the (approximately) twenty-four hours since I removed the cabinet from this room, I have had the following conversation with no less than eighteen different children:
"Wow. It looks clean in here."
"You think so?"
"Yeah. . . . [clearly puzzled] it almost looks like something is missing. . ."
"Like maybe something from right there?"
"Ummmmm. No….. Yeah. Maybe?"
"There's something missing," I assure them.
They look very confused for a moment. They stare at the empty place on the floor. Finally they ask, "What's missing?"
"The cupboard."
"What cupboard?"
"The white cupboard that used to be right there."
One ten year old kid remembered that there used to be something there he jumped off of. My fifteen-year-old daughter didn't even figure it out until she'd eaten two meals in here, sitting right next to where it used to be. "I just thought you mopped, or something." Ye-ah–because when I mop it's the equivalent of removing four hundred pounds of unwanted material from the floor! The thing was solid wood, eight feet long by four feet tall and almost three feet deep! When I told my two teenaged boys (joking! I was joking!) who helped me move it that I'd changed my mind and wanted to put it back, I think they actually wanted to hurt me; they didn't think I was funny. 
It was a big, heavy cabinet. But apparently it wasn't very memorable, was it?

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Decisions, Decisions

We have a piece of furniture in our house and every child who has ever visited, within minutes of crossing our threshold has found their way to this cupboard and discovered that if you nudge the door just so, not only will it bang shut with a lovely echo, but it will promptly pop ajar, ready for another go. 
Every kid figures this out. If they can walk, crawl or roll, they will make their way over to the door and begin banging it. They will bang it with their feet while they read, with their backs while they play legos, with their hands while they stare into space–just so long as the reassuring bang, bang, bang never is silenced.
"Stop banging the door" falls onto deaf ears, of course, so we thought we'd thwart them with some of those little rubber stick-on door cushioners. They either fell off or were removed. We bought white felt ones that came with an adhesive strong enough you could lift a mini-van with it and put them on in the dead of night–stealth like. They matched the paint exactly; I couldn't even see them. 
The toddlers picked every pad off, the first day. Bang! Bang! Bang!

Wood screws? 

They don't actually use the cupboard for anything else, honestly. Okay, they climb it and jump from the top; they hide behind the doors when their parents come to pick them up;  the babies like to empty the toys from the bottom drawer and sit in it; it's an indoor jungle gym. It's a ridiculously large Lego box. 
Someone just dumped 16oz of dry roasted peanuts on my feet. Well. It was knocked out of her hand by the two who are playing "tunnel tag" between my feet.  Did I mention that I don't buy peanuts? This same child brought a 16oz jar of peanut butter complete with dinner fork with her for breakfast last week. Yum.
Moral dilemma: the choking prone children are asleep and I just finished mopping an hour ago. Do I a) pick up one million peanuts by hand and replace them in the jar (grrrr!) b) sweep up the peanuts and throw them away (wasteful) c)make the children pick up the peanuts (hahahahaha–yeah right)  d) let the fowl of the floor eat as many peanuts as they please and skip snacktime d) made a paste from the peanuts and glue the cupboard door closed. 
Bang! Bang! Bang!

The broom wins–as any good housewife knows: if in doubt throw it out, right? Hmmmm. I wonder if the cupboard will fit in the trash . . . I bet the door would.

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Those of you who blog on Vox. That little "Create" button at the top of your screen there? I love that. It doesn't say, "Post" or "New Document" or anything else so dull. 

Gets you to thinking–this idea of creating, doesn't it? I am one of those people who go through rather pronounced emotional cycles. I feel things intensely; most days I wake up intensely happy, sad, or angry just as a result of what I dreamed. 
Anyway, I have realized that I am most genuinely happy when I have created something–a blog post that made you laugh or cry or question; a lesson that held seventeen teenaged girls in rapt attention; a quilt; or just order where before there was chaos. 
Anyway, ran across this little sound blip from a larger (and excellent) address about the creative aspect of our natures which was given at a Women's Conference one year ago. When I first listened to this talk, it electrified me, and every time I read it, I again feel truth resonate in my soul. A very short clip that someone has set to music and images:

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