Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Day

Christmas is strange without children.

We actually had our celebration and visit from Santa on December 11, since all of the kids (except Conor, of course, whose parents are sticking it out so far) all went to spend the holiday with their other parent. We've enjoyed pleasant, stress-free days the last week and a half, filled with music and baking and friends, while everyone else counted down the shopping days.

Christmas morning didn't really feel Christmas-y, without children clamoring outside the door for us to wake up and take them downstairs. I watched several Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas specials, which helped the mood, but it wasn't until later that day that things really got festive.

A family in our ward invited us to spend Christmas evening and dinner with them. We had such a fun time being with a family, helping in the kitchen, serving children's plates, cracking jokes, and eating some juicy turkey with all the trimmings. Then they had their family present opening, and lo, and behold, there were presents for US under the tree! Each of the grown children's families had brought us gifts! We were flabbergasted! We really felt like part of the group. And I was touched to look around the room and see the others included in the group: the husband and wife (who invited us originally), her five grown children and their families, her aging father, and even her ex-husband (who is father to several of the kids), and the girlfriends of the two unmarried children. And us. Definitely the Spirit of Christmas.

We missed our own little ones, for sure, but got to talk to everyone on the phone, along with siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends. Hope your holiday was warm and cozy too. I wish we could have ALL been together. All of us.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cookie Time!

(don't be fooled by his cute smile. Check for evidence. This is a baby on the run after snitching cookies! See the crumbs on his fingers and the remnants on his teeth! What a good boy!)

I love cookies. LOVE them. I have many cookbooks solely devoted to these scrumptious little morsels, and I wouldn't part with any of them. I got a fabulous new cookie bible from my mother this year to add to my collection. Cookie Monster sang, "C is for Cookie", and C is also for Christmas. I don't think for one second that that is an accident! Cookies and Christmas definitely go together.

Every family has their holiday favorites, and I don't think it matters much what they are, as long as your family has them too. Many of my favorites are favorites because they remind me of the way my mother created Christmas for us as children. These would include Candy Cane Cookies and Russian Teacakes. Others are favorites because my own children have come to expect them every year, like Peanut Blossoms and Gingerbread Men. Regardless, there must be cookies at Christmas, and lots of them! And they must be eaten and shared! Almost nothing is as much fun as putting on a Christmas CD or DVD and get ting to work in the kitchen with cookie dough and children. Make sure the tree lights are on!

Cookie Central started just after Thanksgiving, and the freezer quickly was filled to capacity with dozens and dozens of nine varieties, along with huge batches of peppermint divinity and peanut butter fudge. This week we assembled cookie tins and cookie plates, and are having quite the time blessing our neighbors and friends. Baking in the kitchen together is one of my favorite ways to spend time together, especially with my children. It's so easy to involve them! I believe that anything baked with love has that love infused within it and will nourish, no matter the fat or calories. Share what you have, no matter how simple or elegant. Cookies are gifts of the heart. And I mean that.

"C is for cookie. It's good enough for me!"

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Caroling We Will Go!

Boy, it really isn't Christmas until Dolly Parton has sung the Hallelujah Chorus now, is it? Wow.

I think there's hardly anything cozier than singing carols together in a group around a lit Christmas tree. And so, we do, to practice. And then we hit the streets.

I have taken my children caroling for many years, and it's a tradition we look forward to each December. Practices take place on Monday nights as part of family home evening, but at this point we don't really need the practice. We go out after dark and canvas the neighborhood singing our hearts out to unexpecting friends and strangers alike, and the experience is one that everyone should have.

When Adam and I first married, and I wanted to carry on the caroling tradition with our new, blended family, he balked a bit at the idea. Well, a lot. He was a downright Scrooge, and I worried that his blatant bad attitude would spoil the evening for the children. Fortunately, the Christmas Spirit intervened with the knock at our very first door. We knocked and began singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", and a white-haired old man opened the door. I could tell he wasn't expecting visitors, and he didn't want to be disturbed, but almost instantaneously upon hearing singing on his porch, and seeing a family (and not a salesman), his wrinkled face melted and the corners of his smile reached up to catch the tears that soon began winding their way down his aged face. He wanted more and more, and we gave it to him. He lamented that he wished he had known we were coming so he could have had hot chocolate ready for us, that we might come in and visit. He was lonely, and we had been Christmas angels. And his eyes weren't the only wet ones.

Dear Adam caught the spirit, and led the way from there. He had been changed, softened too. He's now a caroling convert.

We walk the neighborhoods for an hour or two each season now, and love the joy we see on the faces of the strangers who answer their doors to us. The children receive an instant gratification for their service. They know it makes a difference.

We have had people open their doors to us, and then turn and call the rest of their families to come and listen. We've had whole groups gather out on the porch to get a view. We often receive gifts from those we sing to. People are so happy, and so touched, that they want to do something, and they disappear into their kitchens, returning with cookies, chocolates, gifts, even a few dollars. We always try to refuse, but then again, they received our gift with gratitude.

It always makes for a wonderful evening that the entire family anticipates. Maybe caroling is a forgotten activity. Maybe people have become too shut in, too closed up, too involved in their own little circle. Maybe people have become too scared of people they don't know, too affected by the news reports, and too nervous of knocking on a stranger's door, but every Christmas we hope to sing a carol or two and give our brothers and sisters a little cheer, and a little more belief in the basic goodness of people, especially at Christmas time. After all, a song is a powerful tool, and a universal language.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We Interrupt this Holiday Season...for a Tag

Good thing I did some catching up on friends' blogs tonight. First, I read Josi's, and felt a little dissed that she didn't tag me, but then Annette came to the rescue. Thank you, Annette. Josi, you're on thin ice with me, girl, because of the Grocery Game, so watch your step. :)

So, this is hard, because my 100th post is fast approaching, when I'll have to do The List, but here's a sneak preview of the fun that is to come:

1. Once my husband bought me sex toys for Christmas, which wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that we were living with his parents that year.

2. Ever since I was about 8 or so, I would sneak downstairs on Christmas night by myself and tenderly caress the ornaments on the tree and cry about how another year of my life and my siblings' lives was over, and how fast time seemed to fly. I would play out memories of the past year in my mind and weep, sentimentally. What a dork.

3. Shortly after my divorce, I changed my diet to consist primarily of Totino's cheese pizzas, puffy Cheetos, and Ben & Jerry's. Those were the things my body wanted, and they were GOOD.

4. Once, while babysitting, I was snooping around the master bedroom, and came across the cremated remains of their infant daughter. It was CREEPY, and not hidden all that well.

5. Another time while babysitting, I was snooping around in the bathroom, and I found a picture right in the bathroom closet next to the towels of the mother's dead mother lying in her casket at her funeral. Even CREEPIER, although if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I like these kinds of creepy.

6. When I was in 2nd grade, I lived in a primarily African-American neighborhood, and I could double-dutch with the best of them. Little tiny white Jenna.

7. I have never been able to do a cartwheel. Darn it.

8. But I can almost do the splits, even when I'm 9 months pregnant, although my husband won't let me because it freaks him out.

9. Once I made a cake for a cub scout auction, and it sold for $85, because people know I make good cakes.

10. Today I rollerskated in the driveway with my son. I'm an 80's girl, and I still got it, baby.

Now, to tag:
Abby, because I wanna know more about my little sis.

Hannah, because I wanna know more about my other little sis.

Sarah, because she's part of the gang too, and she needs to give up the goods.

Mom, because I always tag Mom and she's so interesting.

Hilary, because I think it would be fun if she joined in the blogging funness of being tagged.

and, Piper...because I'm dying to know more.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Children Were Nestled

When asked what their favorite Christmas tradition is, my children will all tell you that they look most forward to the night they get to sleep under the Christmas tree. As a family, we decorate the tree, and then the children bring their pillows and blankets downstairs for a slumber party. We usually watch a Christmas movie first (this year it was the perennial favorite A Christmas Story), drink hot cocoa, and eat homemade gingerbread cookies. Sometimes I will sit and read Christmas stories to them. Finally, after several hours giggling and talking (and mom shushing), they fall asleep with the tree lights on all night. Every year, they just can't wait!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Home for the Holidays

Ever since I was a child, gingerbread houses have been part of Christmas. However, with so many children they were rarely ever constructed of real gingerbread, but graham crackers instead. Still fun, and not nearly so devastating in the event of breakage. I have carried this tradition on with my own family, and what a fun workshop day it is! I love how everyone's house reflects a piece of his/her individual personality.

Adam's house began with lofty intentions that he didn't even begin to think through. He's the artist in the family, a master of creativity, but not one of pragmatism or efficiency. So, he began sawing his graham crackers into individual boards and started laying floor beams, trusses, and "framing" his two-story house. That lasted almost two hours, and when he still didn't have a single wall up (and the kids were hogging all the graham crackers), he went for the more traditional slap it up method, common in suburban neighborhoods. But he was the only one with a porch.

My house, had to be beautiful, balanced aesthetically, landscaped, and had to have storage out back.

Lyndsay's house had to be accessorized, so she built an open loft, with graham cracker furniture, a snowman in the front yard, and a mailbox.

Dylan, went for clean lines and exactness, as he is ever-watchful of justice and fairness in life.

Caitlin went for free-thinking and fashionable, with an open door. She's always welcoming.

Sean is not exactly a detail-oriented or tidy builder, but he gets his house up faster than anyone else, which leaves lots of time for eating the candy strewn along the table.

And, Aiden, having spent most of his life in Arizona, went with an adobe style house, neatly paved and cheerful.

In the end, I have a feeling the boys didn't care as much how their houses looked, as long as they held as much candy as the laws of graham cracker and royal icing physics allow. And their mom. ("Put half of that back, my friend.")

Monday, December 3, 2007

Baby's First Christmas

It's one of the milestones of life, and the holiday new parents look most forward to after the birth of their baby. And even though babies don't care one whit about gifts or trees or the holiday rush, I'll admit that I have played the game too, and to think back warms my heart.

Lyndsay was 5 months old, and we spent her first Christmas in New Jersey on a surprise (to my siblings) visit to show her off to family for the first time. I remember my dad holding her for the first time, his first grandbaby, and weeping. All of my eight siblings adored her, and somehow, though she barely touched the floor during those few weeks, she learned to sit up while we were there. Notice her doll with brown hair and eyes like she had, and her matching nightgown that my mom made for her, but wait, it gets better:

I had a matching nightgown too! My mom made us matching Lanz of Salzburg flannel nightgowns for Christmas morning. I am a little shocked by how young I look. I really was an adult. I had even been married for more than 3 years!

Dylan was born January 6th, so he got to celebrate his first birthday right after Christmas, lucky duck! He got a Little Tikes basketball set that year, I remember, and he knew instantly what to do with it.
Here's baby Aiden, born the day after Thanksgiving that year, and in...the duck sweater Nana knitted for him. He didn't much care for Christmas, and preferred nursing to opening presents.

Here are the three of them that year:

Last year was baby Conor's first Christmas. He wasn't all that thrilled with the Jolly Old Elf, and he didn't get any presents that year because of his poor attitude. I mean, we were just poor, and figured we'd better spend our money on the five kids who would notice.

But doesn't he look cute in that hat he borrowed from cousin Calix? I love babies in hats!

So here it is Christmas time, and looking back on my sweet babies, it almost makes me want another one! But Santa definitely isn't bringing that this year!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Through the Eyes of a Child

I love my ornament collection. It is so dear to my heart. I'll be sharing some favorites this month, but by far my sweetest ornament is also my oldest. I made it when I was 4 years old, in Sunbeams class. It's a salt dough baby Jesus in his manger, and as a child, I remember licking it each Christmas to taste the salt. Weird and random, I know, but a Christmas memory nonetheless. I've grown out of that tradition (at least as far as I'm admitting), but every year it warms my heart to carefully place it on my tree. It makes me feel like a child again.

Here are two of my journal entries from that year: (I drew and dictated, mom was the scribe. Obviously (not) I was blessed with her extraordinary artistic talent.)

This one, dated 24 Dec. 1977 says, "We had a special Christmas show. I liked it. I played Mary. I rode my donkey. Joseph was surprised when I had my new baby." (they always are, right?)

And then this one, from Christmas Day, 1977:

"We're having a happy time together. We don't want a sad family in our happy Christmas. Josiah got an Inch-Worm and I got My Friend Mandy." (how I loved that doll! Many years later I got the newer version of My Friend Jenny, and my sister Amanda got My Friend Mandy. It fit better that way.)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmas Genesis

In the beginning, there was me. (I've often joked that the word should be spelled "Jenna-Sis", since I was the first, and I am definitely a sister, but I digress.) It didn't stay that way for long, as each of my eight siblings was born one after the other almost like clockwork, but here I am on my very first Christmas. These are the only two pictures I have of that day. For the only time in my life, all the focus was on me, as I don't think my mom knew she was even pregnant with Ethan yet. Well, maybe she did, but just barely. He was born in September the next year.

It's such an odd thing to look at baby pictures of myself. I don't think I was an especially beautiful baby, but I'm sure my parents disagreed. I was hopelessly bald for several years, for one thing. But I do see traces of my own babies in my little face and it makes me feel more connected to my children.

I smiled when I saw this stocking that my mom knitted for me. She knitted one for each of us, and all eleven of them hung from our mantle every Christmas. The color combinations got way better as we moved into the 80's, but there I am with pink and green, and it brings back such a flood of memories. I'm sure my mom still has it, though it's probably disintegrating by now, as yarn quality was the other thing to improve over the years. She let us take our ornament collections with us when we moved out, but she held on to the stockings, and I don't blame her. She has since knitted a whole new collection for my family and several other siblings'.

I wanted to reminisce this December, and share memories from Christmases past. My mom made Christmas my very favorite holiday of the year, and my sisters share the obsession. My mom is all things quaint, cozy, and traditional when it comes to Christmas, from the stories she told, to the treats she baked, to the carols she played and we sang. I have tried to pass those things on, and more, to my own children, so this month you get a glimpse! I hope it warms your heart and fills you with Christmas joy!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


It's amazing how the scriptures take on new meaning when you're dieting and your pants are still too tight. I took heart at the following passage from Deuteronomy a few days ago, and while it was promised as a curse upon the Israelites if they failed to keep their covenants, it sounded pretty darn good to me:

"...thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee." --Deuteronomy 28:31

Bring it on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Once Upon a Time...

You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a mother who read to me.
--from "The Reading Mother" by Strickland Gillilan

Reading to my children is one of my favorite things to do as a parent. My mother gave her nine children this gift, and it has been so valuable in my life both as a child and as a parent. Over the years we've read hundreds of stories together, and read-aloud has always been a part of our homeschooling day, even as the children have entered junior high. We've had many great experiences, interesting conversation, a few disagreements, but always a connection with each other.

I bring this up because today we finished a charming little book called The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, the author of Because of Winn-Dixie. This sweet story was the winner of the Newbury Medal in 2004. If you're a veteran read-aloud mom (or dad) you must read this story to your children. If you've never tried to read a book aloud before, this is the perfect one to start with. It is quite clever, touching, and meaningful, and all of my children from 2nd grade through 8th grade couldn't get enough of it.

Despereaux is a tiny mouse, much smaller than a mouse should be, and his head is in the clouds...or rather in the books, reading them instead of eating them as proper mice should do. He breaks all the cardinal mouse rules, and this puts him in the company of the Princess Pea, with whom he falls in love. But a mouse cannot penetrate the human world without punishment, so Despereaux is thrown in the dungeon where his adventures with an old jailer, several conniving rats, and a homely little serving girl who longs to be a princess begin. Everyone is connected in some way, and the author's simple narrative voice, that never condescends, is so delightful. We loved it. I pass the recommendation along to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finish the Sentence Meme

In this meme, that I snagged from Kathleen, all you do is finish each sentence.

I've come to realize that my ex is:
Not as perfect for me as I'd always thought.

I am listening to:
My kids eating breakfast downstairs. And rollerskating in the kitchen. Can't get mad at them for that one....they learned it from me!

I talk:
Many times when I shouldn't, and often for too long. But not deeply enough.

I love:
Books. Kitchen stores. Homeschooling. The color red. Clean, high thread-count sheets, sparkling bathrooms, the smell of vanilla and coconut, a really good haircut, when my jeans are loose, reading to my kids, snuggling with a baby fresh from the tub, to buy things for other people.

I lost:
I never (never say 'never'...hardly ever) lose anything. Except maybe hope sometimes, and my mind. But I'll find that too.

I hate it when:
I have to dust, fold laundry, or clean bathrooms. When I don't have harmony in my marriage, or when I bounce a check.

Love is:
My goal in life. To give it, to have it, to feel it.

Marriage is:
A mystery to me.

Somewhere there is:
Enough for all of us.

I'll always be:
The oldest child in the family, and all that that entails. There's no breaking free from that stereotype, and how it's shaped my personality.

I have a [little] crush on:
hmmmmm......I'm drawing a blank.

The last time I cried was:
A few nights ago.

My cell phone is:
Ruined, thanks to my slobbering baby.

When I wake up in the morning:
I try to always be cheerful when I greet my children.

Before I go to sleep at night:
I like to watch a few episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond".

Right now I am thinking about:
How to best help Dylan with his writing assignment, when we should schedule our early Christmas with the kids before they leave, how to squeeze in a nap today, and where else I can canvas for a few more piano students.

Babies are:
Not little for long enough.

I get on myspace:
Never. I am not a fan.

Today I:
Went to the grocery store early in the morning to get enchilada sauce and black beans so that I can make dinner for my friend who is on bedrest for pregnancy complications.

Tonight I will:
Teach piano lessons and then watch a Christmas movie with the kids while Adam works.

Tomorrow I will:
Do everything I have to do today over again. (Doesn't it feel like that sometimes?)

I really want to:
Write my book(s).

The person who is most likely to repost this:
I hope it's Hannah.

Eight is Great!

My little Aiden turned eight years old yesterday. Ah, how I remember his birth. It was my first homebirth, and I was very excited for the experience. Adam and I had taken our classes, purchased our homebirth kit, and were well prepared. It was a Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that year, and I had a short visit with my midwife that afternoon. She felt confident it would be that day.

Contractions began in the late afternoon, and in a flurry of anticipation, I went to the grocery store to get "labor food", stopping to breathe during contractions in the chip aisle, I recall. We ran some errands for Adam's work, and stopped at the video store to get something to watch during the early stages of labor.

Adam, being the workaholic he can sometimes be, decided we could make use of waiting time to stain the back deck he had just built. So we did. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was that I was bent over applying stain and feeling my body prepare to give birth. To say nothing of the fumes. But it got finished. (I remember I painted the trim of our house the day before Lyndsay was born, too...hmmmm....)

Contractions stopped for a few hours, so I bathed the kids and put them to bed, cleaned the kitchen, and threw in some laundry. We sat down to watch "Notting Hill", and thirty minutes into the movie, labor started up again, in full force. We called the midwife, we called Adam's mom who would attend the birth, and we got to work breathing. The baby came just two and a half hours later, in our candlelit bedroom, with our two other children sleeping across the hallway. It was so exhilarating. We named him Aiden Tanner.

Little Aiden was a comfort to me immediately, and he became a source of great strength to me, as he was only 15 months old when his dad and I separated. Taking care of him often kept me from curling up to die. He was my little buddy. When the other two kids attended school for a year in UT, he became my companion in work and fun, tagging along at Mary Kay appointments, and sometimes lunch dates. Now there is scarcely a trace of that sweet baby and little guy. He is a boy, through and through. Tough and tender. Rowdy and affectionate.

Now he is a cub scout, and will be baptized in a month, two very big goals that he's been looking forward to. Now he is a green belt in Tae Kwon Do, is learning cursive, and loves to help me in the kitchen. He is anxious to change diapers, is an incredible organizer, and has the most forgiving soul of any of my children. He will share the very last thing, or the very most cherished thing he owns, and he has an infectious giggle. I sometimes am filled with sadness that he has lived with divorce, having no memory of the love between his parents that gave him life. His reality, of having two families, two homes, is one I cannot really relate too, but I do hope he is made the stronger for his trials.

Eight whole years I've loved this boy. Sweet Aiden. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wickedly Good Time!

Through a piano student's parent, I was able to procure and work off seven tickets to see the amazing hit musical Wicked. This was our Christmas gift to the kids this year. I got to see Wicked three years ago on Broadway with my two favorite girlfriends, Luisa and Amber. I have been addicted to the soundtrack ever since, and since the play began in Los Angeles I have been dying to get the family there. It was really our first big family treat, and the kids had a blast.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, we no longer have a second car, or a car big enough for our entire family to fit in, so it was stressful trying to find a way to get us to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, but Adam's sister came through at the very last second with a willingness to come watch Conor and let us take her car. We had a "Girls' Car" and a "Boys' Car"; I'm not sure which was in worse shape mechanically, but with prayer and some side street maneuvers to avoid steep hills we were able to make it safely, and enjoy some hearty laughter at the adventure and ridiculousness of the whole ordeal. Thank goodness for laughter!
Nobody fidgeted (we left Conor at home with a sitter) and nobody asked, "Is it almost over?" What a thrill to see it again, and to see it through their eyes. And now my dreams of belting those clever lyrics to sold-out crowds has been renewed, and I'm dreaming wicked green!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

In All Things, Give Thanks

Truly, one of the hardest commandments. This has not been a year full of abundance in my life, and I have not spent most of my time feeling grateful, to be quite honest. I have, instead, felt more loneliness, despair, confusion, worthlessness, anxiety, and disappointment than almost any other time in my life. This year has been hard, plain and simple.

The other day when I was out for my walk, pushing Conor in the stroller up Wentworth Avenue, I struggled for the last three blocks, as the street becomes increasingly uphill. I had set a goal of reaching Mt. Gleason Street, but many times I heard whispers as my legs burned and my heart pumped: "Just cut down one of these side streets and head back home. At least you got out here today. It's not going to make that big of a difference." But I trudged on, utterly ticked off and sweating. I just want to be in shape again! I don't want to have to do all this stupid walking up these stupid hills, pushing this heavy baby. The last hundred feet or so is very steep as it makes a final climb before leveling out. Something in me kept taking one more step. I braced myself behind that stroller, with arms straight out and leaning over into the pushing, I finished the climb. The thought occurred to me that though the entire walk up Wentworth is difficult, it's the last several yards that are the hardest and the steepest, and always the ones I'm most proud to have walked. And then, I get to turn around, and walk effortlessly (for a while, anyway) downhill.

Life is especially hard right now. Steep and challenging, and the voice whispers almost daily to just quit. Take a side street and get off the course. In the meantime, I tell myself that I set out to do this, darn it, and I just keep taking another step.

Our family was together this year for Thanksgiving. Four of my husband's siblings came as well, and everyone had a lovely day. I worked my tail off and the food was incredible, but I didn't feel as full of gratitude as I felt full of dressing and pumpkin pie. I faked it just fine, but to those who know me best (apparently no one in this house), the fact that I used "very nice" disposable plates and cups would have been a dead giveaway that something was off.

I must feel gratitude before I go to bed. I need to feel gratitude before I go to bed.

So this year, I'm grateful that my legs work in the trudging, that I haven't yet listened to the voice and taken a side street detour, and that I have enough faith to believe that the downhill must be coming up soon.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Last night I dreamt of the Taliban. The fear was not as petrifying as it was a piteous surrender. This is what life means to be a woman. And there is still beauty among the shards and rubble of life, and there is depth and resiliency in the secret longings within the folds of a woman's heart. And there is redemption.

I finished Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns today, with barely anything else accomplished this week. I read it in three days, because while I could not put it down, I also could not miss a single, beautiful word. I am having a hard time even speaking, because I'm afraid that anything I utter will tear my heart further from the experience and thrust me back into my own real life. This is a book that has changed me. Mariam and Laila feel like sisters to me. I love them. I understand them, even worlds away. We are the same. I will weep with them for days to come. Khaled Hosseini knows the heart of a woman, somehow, mystically. And he painted a painful, yet breathtaking portrait of a war-torn and brutal Afghanistan. It's not just land, it's people.
I am not a book critic, but trust me, if you haven't, you must read A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Entrepreneurial Spirit at its Finest

I came downstairs the other day to find a booth set up in our livingroom, behind which sat two of our boys. The other boy was in charge of PR, and he was wandering about the house pasting up signs directing us to the livingroom booth. I asked what was going on, and was given a "business card". I see they are marketing each boy's best talent (I guess), and it reminds me a lot of a sign I saw on the side of the road when we first moved to rural Show Low, Arizona: "Backhoe and Croissants". Might as well please everybody, right?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Truth...and told

Well, obviously I am not a good liar. I suppose this could be a good thing, but it makes me feel so boring! I've definitely got to work on my lying skills. Most of you were right, darn it.

1. True. I did go to a dork's prom with him as a favor for my dad. I did not want to, and I made it clear the entire evening. I was horridly rude to him, and just wanted the night to be over with, which it was, early. Poor guy. I think about him from time to time and feel so ashamed that I was a person of such little character in those days. I even tried to find him on the internet to apologize, but so far have been unsuccessful. The details of that night are too shameful, so I'll leave them in the dark.

2. Lie. I went to a Halloween party once where a seance and a game of Ouiji board were being played, but I had been taught to leave, and so I did. My friend Lisa Dovi and I both called our parents, and we were picked up early.

3. True. This was a highlight of my life since Richard Paul Evans is one of my very favorite authors. I dated his brother for a while, and got to know Rick on a somewhat personal level. I did beat him at the karaoke, and I owe him for giving me such a fun memory.

4. True. But don't act like it's never happened to you, alright? I was a long way from home and it was snowing HARD! Even sphincter muscles don't work as well in the freezing cold!

Great job, everybody!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I think he's majorly insulted.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Memory Lane Monday...on Tuesday

My sister-in-law did a fun game on her blog yesterday, so I'm tagging myself. I have to list four things about myself, with one of them being a lie. Your job is to guess the lie. Good luck!

1. I went to a prom at another school with a complete textbook case DORK as a favor to my dad, who was law partners with the dork's father. I was horribly rude and insulting to him the entire night, and I still regret being so mean and ruining his prom.

2. Against my better judgement, I participated in a seance and in a game of Ouija board at a Halloween party once, and was told that I would have two husbands named Adam. It scared me so much that I never told my parents, and I didn't believe I would ever have two husbands anyway.

3. I played Karaoke Revolution with Richard Paul Evans in his family room, and kicked his butt.

4. Once, while delivering my Shopper's Guide newspapers during a snowstorm on the other side of town, I couldn't hold it anymore and I pooped my pants. But only a little bit.

Now I'm laughing. This was fun! I'm tagging Kimberly, Pezlady, Josi, and JulieQ. And my Mom, because even though it gets on her nerves to be tagged, I always love her answers.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Seven Things Meme

I feel special! Pezlady tagged me for a fun meme. I must list seven things about me that you probably didn't know. I've been very excited to hit 100 posts so that I can make the 100 Things About Me list, but this will be a sneak preview.

Okay, here goes:
1. I love karaoke, but I'm mostly too chicken to get up in a karaoke club/bar and sing. My first time was by complete coercion, when my friend submitted my name without my knowledge, and suddenly I was called up to the stage to sing Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman".

2. I prefer cats to dogs for pets. Long-haired cats. Although if I had a dog, it would be a big, giant, fluffy one, like a St. Bernard or a Great Pyrenees.

3. I love to catalog shop and shop online, although I hardly ever do either. (But I would!) My favorite thing to buy, hands down, is books.

4. I am very frugal with most things, but one of my indulgences is that I will spend a lot of money on good linens for bed and bath. Sheets must be at least 400 thread count.

5. When I was a teen, dreaming about my future family, I wanted to have 4 or 5 children, all girls. (I got one.) I wanted to name them Karin, Michelle, Stephanie, and Jessica. (We named her Lyndsay.)

6. I absolutely love peanut butter sauce on ice cream (with accompanying hot fudge, peanut butter cups, and Reese's Pieces.) Peanut butter sauce is very hard to find. I had a friend in AZ who owned a Dairy Queen franchise, and for my baby shower gift for child #3 she gave me an entire (restaurant size) jar of peanut butter sauce. It was the best gift ever, and it was gone in about 2 months. I don't remember sharing. Yeah, baby.

7. My favorite color is red. My favorite flower is the tulip. My favorite child is....KIDDING! I do not like sushi, or shellfish, or shrimp. I love salmon more than steak on most days.

Wrong Things to Say

This is all in good fun, no seriously hurt feelings. But I'm the one usually saying the wrong things, so I must tattle on my husband who messed up BIG time on this one.

I am starting a 30 day Isagenix nutritional cleanse, and as part of my preparation, I needed my husband to take "Before" pictures, and "Before" measurements. (I know, right? What crazy wife asks her husband to document how chubby she is?)

We got lots of different shots in bike shorts and sports bra, and then even in less than that, cause I want to be sure! Mr. Hollywood wanted the pictures to be all dramatic, with back lighting, and scenery, and he wanted the theatrical no make-up, messy hair, slouched, stomach bulging, miserable expression thing going on. You know the one. After he took all the different angles, I got after him because I didn't look "fat enough" in the pictures. I said things like, "You didn't get all the cellulite!" and "You can't really see the bulge good here!" He said a good thing here: "Jenna, sorry, but you're not as bad as you think you are." Okay, I forgive you.

But then he got out the measuring tape. We had to fill in a chart with very specific measurements of my entire body. We measured upper arms, rib cage, neck, waist, abdomen, and carefully wrote down in inches the findings. Then, we measured buttocks. 9" below the waist, were the directions. He read off the number and then said, "Wait, maybe I'm measuring from the wrong end of the measuring tape."

Nope, dear. But it gets worse.

As he double-checked to be sure, he asked, "How many feet is that?" And he was totally serious! He even did the conversion, held out his arms, and said, "Weird. It doesn't seem like it."

What???? Big jerk.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sad news

Well, you've probably been hearing about all the wildfires burning in southern California. Unfortunately, the Lombardi Ranch and Pumpkin Patch from my post just below, was burned up in a fire earlier in the week. Just a week after we got to go and enjoy it! I'm saddened by the loss because it was a family's legacy and a tradition for many other families. I hope all the animals were saved! What a loss. Fires are scary. That will be another post, another time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

All Things Fall

'Tis the season to make a trek to the pumpkin patch! This was actually my very first time taking my children to a pumpkin patch EVER, can you believe that? Our homeschool group had a field trip to Lombardi Pumpkin Patch in Saugus. (how many times can I say 'pumpkin patch' in this post, right?)
I must say that I miss the seasons of other states I have lived in. Being in sunny California does have its benefits, but I loved looking forward to the crisp bite to the air that usually accompanies fall. The changing of seasons always reminds me of my mom, who loves anything cozy. I know she would have loved this trip with us (though she was at a pumpkin patch herself last week with my brothers!)

This service costs extra, but it's well worth it.

Anyway, here's to autumn, and the harvest, and all things "cozy". Even if I did come home with a sunburn.