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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Top Ten Worst Christmas Songs Ever

I know. It's been a while. But I'm back with the definitive answer to the question that has been plaguing both of us since the day after Thanksgiving (perhaps longer for those of you who don't live with people who have very strict rules about when the playing of Christmas music can officially begin)...

What is the worst Christmas song ever?

Well, we'll get to number one, but first let's start with the nine preceding it in order of least worst to so terrifyingly bad plugging my ears with rusty nails would be less painful worst.

10. Christmastime in Hollis Queens.  Sadly this song would have made the Best Of list until it was used to sell mini-vans to moms. I've only seen the Honda commercial once and I can't find it anywhere on the internets, but what's done is done. The image of moms who look like me rapping this song inside an Odyssey is burned in my brain. It's lost all of its cool cache. I do,however, have a hankering for a new Odyssey.

9. We Need a Little Christmas. I feel like I should like this song, but it's so pushy. There's so much pressure to get Christmas done IMMEDIATELY!  I can't take a month or more to put the decorations up and get my shopping done because this guy's going to do something drastic if he doesn't get his Christmas fix NOW!

8. Little Drummer Boy  by Bob Seger. It's Bob  Seger singing. Enough said. Anything sung by Bob Seger could make a Worst Of list.

7. Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid. Anyone who knows my feelings about Band-aids should not question the position of this song on this list. You should only question why it's only at number seven and not closer to number one.

6. Jingle Bells by Barbara Streisand. The moment Babs sings "and then we got upsot. Upsot??" this version of Jingle Bells officially becomes a Hanukkah carol and no longer qualifies as a Christmas song.

5. Christmas Through Your Eyes by Gloria Estefan. I find Gloria Estefan one of the most annoying people in the entire world. I don't know why. She just is. And she should leave Christmas and its songs alone. Step away from the microphone, Gloria. Step. Away.

4 & 3. O Holy Night by Mariah Carey. Mariah Carey takes one of the most beautiful hymns EVER and adds synthesizers--synthesizers for Gosh sakes!--and then she does another version and adds Michel Bolton. For this reason she gets two spots. You will not be forgiven for your crimes against this song, Mariah.

2. What if Jesus Comes Back Like That by Colin Raye. Colin Raye should be punched in the face for ruining Christmas every time I hear this song.

And, finally, the very worst in what Christmas music has to offer. So bad I want to make myself barf every time I hear it just to get the treacle taste out of my mouth. You already know what it is, right? How could it be anything besides...

1. Christmas Shoes by Newsong. And Rob Lowe, how can you be so good in Parks & Rec and then be in this video? You disappoint me, sir.

I can't in good conscience share only terrible Christmas music with you, so I'll leave you with the best Christmas song ever. It was going to be Happy Christmas (I can't do Xmas, even though I think officially that's what it is) by John Lennon, but I'm feeling very grateful that I get to spend Christmas with my children and my heart aches for those who don't. So here it is, my favorite Christmas hymn and a truly beautiful version of it...

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Impassioned Plea of "Can't We All Just Get Along?"

A few days ago I posted this article, Ending the Uncivil War, from BYU Magazine on my Facebook page that I begged my friends to read. Judging by all the apocalyptic posts using words like "stupid" "idiot" and "Hell" that have been filling up my feed, I'm guessing not very many people did. So let me do a little paraphrasing if you will. The words of the three authors who wrote the article; an Evangelical, the vice chair of the Utah Democratic Party, and a Democratic Senator,* can be summed up with a quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf from last conference:
When our hearts are filled with the love of God, we become “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving [each other], even as God for Christ’s sake [forgave us].”11
The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other.
I know people feel passionately about politics; I get it. I understand being frustrated that things aren't going the way they'd like them to.
What I can't fathom is why people take one man who gives to charity, prays daily, attends church, and calls himself a Christian, put all of their faith in him to save America and keep the apocalypse at bay; then take another man who does the same things and make him the personification of evil.
You may not like Obama's vision for America and you may be right that the cost is too high, but I don't see how wanting people to have equal access to health care, education, and the American Dream is evil. You have every right not to like his ideas and methods, but let's be careful how we throw around a word like "evil," okay? 
Hitler; evil. Bin Laden; evil. Dictators who execute whole swaths of people who disagree with them; evil.
Well, he's our president, whether we like it or not. So how about we start showing him the respect he deserves--even if we don't agree with him--and usher in a return to civility? One man can't destroy our country just like one man can't save it. It will take all of us to do one or the other. My preference would be for saving.
To that end, I'm taking the pledge that Mark Demoss, the Evangelical author of this article, asked members of Congress and people everywhere to take as part of his civility project:
1. I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior
2. I will be respectful of others, whether or not I agree with them.
3. I will stand against incivility where and when I see it. 
I haven't always been respectful of every president (sorry #43), but I'm going to do better now. Not just with presidents, but with people in general. I'm even going to try really hard not to yell at people when I drive. I may have to stop driving for a while. I'll do it though, if that's what it takes to make my corner of the world a little bit nicer (no cracks about my driving ability please).
I know there are many people out there who believe God is affiliated with one political party, but no matter how many scriptures are quoted (or more often paraphrased), I haven't heard any compelling evidence that God cares more about political parties than people. So can I ask that we stop accusing Obama of ushering in the end times? Faith and fear can not reside in the same place, so how about we let go of the fear.
Maybe this quote from another apostle at another of our general conferences will help:
There are some who feel that venting their personal anger or deeply held opinions is more important than conducting themselves as Jesus Christ lived and taught. I invite each one of us individually to recognize that how we disagree is a real measure of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. It is appropriate to disagree, but it is not appropriate to be disagreeable...If we show love and respect even in adverse circumstances, we become more like Christ (Quentin L. Cook, "We Follow Jesus Christ," Ensign, May 2010),
Oh, and by the way, I voted for the guy who lost too.
* That's right, the university that doesn't allow men to have hair below their collars, women to wear bikinis, or anyone to wear shorts above their knees--but does encourage people to report others' infractions--invited not one, but two Democrats to speak to its students. Their Conservative merit badge just may be revoked.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Heroic Deeds Performed by Me and Other Exciting Things...

Heroic Act #1

Last night I went to Target--again (third time this week and it was only Tuesday for crying out loud). I was in a hurry (because when am I not?) and some kind of population explosion had gone off and people were everywhere. I parked in Egypt, loaded up on provisions, and began my journey to the entrance.

By the time I reached the vast desert of the handicapped parking zone I had barely fifteen minutes to get all the things I'd forgotten on my two previous trips, before I had to retrieve Girl 2 early from gymnastics so she could spend the rest of the night doing a project she should have started four weeks ago.

It was then I saw a boy trying to pick up a flailing one year old off the street. Their mother was a few feet ahead, pushing a cart with another little boy in it who was trying his darnedest to escape while she made her way around an idling SUV/monster truck blocking her car. "Just pick him up," she said, obviously in a hurry and trying to keep her frustration at bay. I got it. It was dinnertime and she was at Target with a kajillion kids (though, in retrospect, I only counted three).

Something told me to go pick that baby up. So I did, ignoring my fear that I might be mistaken for one of those crazy, childless, baby-kidnapping ladies. Harried mom left her cart and rushed back to me.

"I'll help you to your car." I assured her. She still looked worried, but went back to her cart to wrangle her other potential escapee.The baby cried for his mom, but quit his flailing as I followed her the short distance to her car. She said thanks as I passed him off to her.

"No problem," I said, giving her a reassuring pat on the back. "It's so stressful taking kids shopping!"

Then I hurried on my way back around the still idling SUV ready to speed shop. Except when I came around the SUV a Mustang turned in front of it, the driver going fast enough as it passed little ol' me and the SUV that I had to jump out of the way to avoid being run over. He sped past me. right over the spot where thirty seconds before a little boy had been wrestling his baby brother. And I knew if  I hadn't picked that baby up, those boys would have been hit. That speeding Mustang driver couldn't have seen them on the other side of that jacked up truck before he decided to turn and speed down that parking lot lane.

So I kind of saved three lives last night: those boys and that I-think-I'm-pretty-cool driver. Because imagine being that guy who was dumb enough to think speeding through a busy parking lot at dusk was a good idea.

Heroic Act #2

Remember Homeschooling Girl? Well, the other day I had to teach her how to solve this problem:
x + 2 = - 4.

And maybe you don't think that's such an act of heroism. But if a hero is defined as someone who shows courage in the face of adversity, then folks, I am a hero. Er, heroine.

 Because if you could have seen me my senior year of college when I looked at my graduation requirements and read the part that said if I had scored below a certain number on the Math portion of the ACT then I would have to take, not only College Algebra, but also the no credit prerequisite Pre-Algebra for Math Dummies class--whether or not I had taken two years of Italian in order to avoid ever taking a math class again--and seen newlywed me, who now had to pay her own college tuition and therefore needed to graduate--and soon-- think back to that fateful ACT and remember how I had totally rocked the English and Science portion of it but the Math portion had significantly lowered my overall score, and then seen me cry. Every day. For the entire summer semester I took College Algebra, bravely/stupidly skipping Math for Dummies in order to graduate on wouldn't argue whether or not I am a superheroine for solving a simple algebraic equation. I am.

I passed that class with flying colors. (If, you know, a C+ counts as flying and not just sputtering). Not only that, but my semester of Algebra has turned out to be far more useful than my four semesters of Italian. Though the Italian will come in handy as I prepare a nice marinara to eat with the words, "why do I need to know Algebra? I will never use it again after this semester."

Exciting Thing #1

Remember my book that got rejected for marketing reasons? My very good friend, writing partner, and talented author, Melanie Jacobson self-published my very own copy for me. Here's a picture:
cute, huh...

Then she told me to order more copies and come do a book signing with her (Smart Move give away soon, until then order here) and our other critique partner, Kristy Tate (Stealing Mercy free on Kindle here). So I did and it was fun. But I didn't order enough books because people keep asking me for one and I'm out. I'm going to order more, so if you want one let me know and if you don't, that's okay, I still like you. But please don't let me know if you don't want one.

It is $10 plus s&h and I'm only doing a small order. No Amazon or Kindle release. Also, it went through one really great, really fast, edit. That was not enough. You will find mistakes.

Exciting Thing #2

For the first time I am doing NaNoWriMo. It starts tomorrow and I am very excited. I am also doing Book Fair, Room Mom stuff, Regular Mom stuff, Home School Mom stuff, Thanksgiving, and lots of other stuff, so wish me luck. (I've already informed hubby I won't be doing cleaning stuff. Cleaned the bathrooms yesterday in preparation for NoCleanSoICanWriMo).

The best part though, is that Home School Girl is doing it with me because I found a whole middle school NaNoWriMo packet she can do. I did not, however, order it in time to start tomorrow. Which means I have to skim through over a hundred pages of said packet and decide how many of those pages I want to print out for her. That is not the best part.

Still... things are good.

Busy, but good.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Things I Miss For My Children...

1. Waking up to this...
my parents sent me this picture of their backyard on Tuesday
Even when it happens in October, the first snow is magical. To wake up to the first snow of the season is to wake up to the wonder of Mother Nature and her ever changing moods. It's a reminder that nothing stays the same. It's a day filled with the possibility of future "snow days."
2. Snow days. Few things are more exciting than an early morning call saying school has been cancelled. It's even better when Mother Nature thwarts the grown-ups and lets the sun shine. It's like a surprise Christmas.
3. Saturday morning cartoons. When the world isn't centered around you, anything that caters to your wants becomes special, no matter how crappy it is.
4. Opening the cover to a textbook on the first day of class to see who had it before you... and knowing that person.
5. Grandparents who live next door.
6.  Long recesses and homework free week nights.
7. Being able to bike to the store to buyAtomic Fireballs and candy cigarettes. Okay, maybe not the candy cigarette part.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

General Observations on a Variety of Topics...


1. Acoustic Songs: A song that can be used to sell fast food will not suck any less if "unplugged" (I'm looking at you, I'll Melt With You).

2. Short Shorts: These are the rules for wearing them... Don't. Odds are you look more like this:
Than this:
Because guess're not airbrushed.
3.  Little Boys: After three days of hands-on research that included an entire box of angel hair pasta strewn throughout my kitchen, family room, and dining room, I have come to the conclusion that two little boys between the ages of two and three are easier than one preteen girl.
4. Home School: Home schooling requires a lot of schooling at home. (Warning: If you're tempted to comment here about all the fun "field trips" home schoolers can go on, please review the rules for wearing short shorts. They apply here also).
5. Bra Etiquette: Missed my post on it? Read it, learn it, live it, and avoid becoming this woman:
Or, worse, this woman, who I'm pretty sure is an anorexic hooker even though I saw her eat pizza and did not see her engage in any illegal activity, although this bra infraction bordered on indecent exposure:
Let this be a warning that it's but a short descent from tacky bra strap exposure
to internet accusations by strangers concerning your.eating habits and chosen line of profession.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Because I'm THAT Mom Now...

I am not a home schooling mom.

I mean, aside from the fact I have a child currently attending school at home, I am not a home school mom.

Because you know who they are, right?

Those moms who are too afraid of what their children will/won't learn if they send them to public school. Those moms who think their children are so special no one could possibly know how to teach them better than their own mothers. Those moms who are always, ALWAYS with their kids because that's who they are. They're moms.

You know who their kids are too, right?

Those kids who try to horn in on adult conversations. Those kids who don't know how to raise their hands when they're in a regular educational setting. Those kids who are just a little off because they live in a bubble where they don't get teased or pushed or ignored by anyone other than their own siblings. Those kids who are always, ALWAYS called weird because that's what they are. They're weird.

We all have those stereotypes, right?

But guess what. If you're a mom with a kid, each of you has a little of that home school thing in you. So be careful how harshly you judge because it just might be you some day. And I know what you're thinking. I used to think "never" too.

Maybe this will help change your mind though. Here's what we did for Girl 1's first day of home school:

Because, you know, we've got to get those P.E. hours in.

Plus, after crying for three days straight*  because every step I took left me on unsteady, unfamiliar ground, I got a rejection letter from my perspective publisher,** followed by some other bad news.*** At that point I couldn't even cry anymore. There was only one thing left to do:

I needed some time with my village.

So there was no way I was missing Bethany's Boogie Boarding Birthday Bash. Did it matter if it fell on the first official day of The Great Home Schooling Experiment? No, because I'm a problem solver. Home school books haven't arrived yet? P.E. hours and therapy needed? Take G1 along and Boom! Problem solved.

You know what other problem's been solved?

I found the smile that's been missing from G1's face for a while.

* Cross not a crier off my Who Am I? list, along with not a home school mom.
** That's right, I'm just going to slip that in there like it's no biggie. Because, at this point, it's not, but in lieu of flowers feel free to donate to Brittany's Retail Therapy Fund. Nordstrom gift cards will be accepted.
** Too personal to share, but nothing to worry about. Unless you're me of course.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy (sort of) New School Year...

So, my kids start school tomorrow.

Two-thirds of them, anyway.

Last year at the this time began The Year of Brittany and it was awesome. Maybe not so much for some (one) of my kids, but it was for me. My youngest started first grade which meant six hours a day (mostly) of me time. Six hours a day to heed the voice in my head whispering write, write, write! And swim, bike, run!

Sure that voice got annoying because sometimes I just wanted to sleep in or sit on the couch and watch a lot of bad TV. But it wouldn't shut up. It had been drowned out for a long time by kids and a husband and dirty floors and endless laundry. Then, suddenly, the three loudest voices were gone for much of the day and I could hear that little voice again.

And it sounded a lot like...


I'd kind of forgotten who that person was. Or maybe I was really getting to know her for the first time. And, you know what? I liked her. A lot.

Don't get me wrong. The Year of Brittany wasn't all typing/swimming/biking/ running and smiles. There were no unicorns and rainbows. Just a lot of hard work.

And maybe some neglect of important things (i.e. not floors and laundry). But still a good year. For me.

Here's the thing though. When I turned in my finished manuscript to the publisher, I forgot about it. When I crossed the finish line of my triathlon, I felt only relief, not elation.

I'm proud of those two accomplishments, I really am. I don't regret the time and energy I put into writing and training, but the question I had to ask myself after I finished both was whether it was worth it. Did the cheers and congratulations make up for the time I'd taken away from my family?

I honestly don't know. But the voice is gone now. It's not driving me to finish that second manuscript I've started or to start training for another race.

And I don't miss it like I thought I would.

This school year is going to be a much different year. Girl 2 & 3 will return to their public school tomorrow while Girl 1 stays home.

On Monday Husband and I both step into the dark abyss of The Unknown (a place neither of us is super comfortable entering) as he opens his own law firm (hooray! in a scary way) and I start home schooling Girl 1 (I just heard a collective gasp from all those who know me and my lovely, headstrong daughter personally).

Add to that a favorite aunt, sick with cancer, who--fortunately for me--lives nearby, and this year is looking more  like a Year of Others instead of another Year of Me.

And that's okay. My Year of Brittany taught me that I can do hard things, which is more important than a fleeting sense of accomplishment.

I'm going to need that education this year... but I think it's going to be a better year.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bra Etiquette

Can we talk bras for a minute? And by talk I mean, will you listen (with your eyes, of course) while I rant?

Also, feel free to imagine my voice as old and judgmental because there's really no other way to hear it while you read this.

I'm old enough to remember when a peaking bra strap was akin to living in a van by the side of a river. My mother was always tucking straps back in for me or even pinning them when necessary and my friends and I did the same for each other when our mothers weren't around because none of us wanted to be known as "that" kind of girl. Because if a girl let the strap of her bra show in public, she was probably willing to let a lot more show in private.

Reputations were ruined by a disregard for proper bra etiquette.

Well, the times they have a-changed.

Famous people (and I use the term loosely here) feel comfortable not only going out in public, but also being photographed and viewed by millions of people like this:
You look like maybe you have something serious to say, but all I can think is:
 "I know those are fake, so why do they look so saggy?"
 You could be announcing that you've just found the cure for cancer and still, this is all I am going to think.

Really? Have we sunk so low that it's okay to match shoes and accessories to our underwear?
Isn't it bad enough that neon is back in that we shouldn't have to see your wrist, feet AND boobs encased in it?

I know this isn't a new trend. It's been fashionable for years to let a little sexy strap show. And if people would stop  there I could get over it. I mean, the word  "trashy" still flashes through my mind every time I see it, but that's my own issue, not the girls/women who follow the trend.

But yesterday things came to a head when I watched the lady parked next to me IN A BUSY PUBLIC PARKING LOT stand outside of her car, put her 3 hook, double D, nude bra on over her bikini top, take the bikini top off, THEN WALK AROUND IN HER BRA. FOR A LONG TIME.

And here's my problem with that:
1. We were at a lake with dressing rooms where she could have changed.
2.  She was not on the catwalk at the Victoria's Secret fashion show where it's acceptable to wear a bra as apparel as opposed to underwear.
3. Sure her bra covered more than her bikini top, but does this make it a suitable substitute for a shirt?

Clearly our society is in need of a little refresher course on UNDERwear and how to wear it. So, Crazy Bra Bearing Lake Lady, this is for you and all your cohorts (and also for my girlfriends who don't really need it but the bra lady told me to share it with you and I am nothing if not obedient when it comes to strangers in YouTube videos who want to make the world a little more classy).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kids, Cows, and California Drivin'

I'm back (sigh) and I know you're dying to hear how the cattle round-up and calf showing went, so I'll tell you. In pictures. Because, you know, a picture's worth a thousand words and I'm really too tired to type that many.

Cattle Round-Up With Very Few Pics of Cows Because It's Hard to Be Both Herder and Photographer at the Same Time. Also, I Thought It Would be Impolite to Let Cows Get Away Since Our Hosts Depend on Them for Their Livelihood and Not Just Their Summer Entertainment...

Cache County Fair Calf Showing Wherein Girl 2 Wins the Show Stick. Cali Girls Represent!

See her scratching the heifer's belly?
That's what you do with a show stick
The stick is also used to get the cow to move
 her feet to the right position.
There she is with her ribbon and her prize stick which she will have little use for in California.
 I, however, will be using it as a Get-Out-of-Bed-Now/Keep-Your-Hands-Off-Your-Sister Stick.
Which you'll have to imagine because my attempt to Google a picture of such a thing failed.
As did this joke without the picture.
Girl 1 is more a cowgirl than a Cali girl.
Calves make her smile more than waves do.
You can only hear so much about how feminine and maternal
 a cow's features are before you get a little bored.

On our drive home I seriously considered packing up and moving to Utah. Mostly so I would never have to do that drive again--because I would already be there.

I also saw a sign just outside of Barstow that said:

And I felt kind of bad because I didn't even know that lanes were fighting for their autonomy. Then I wondered why-- as long as we're trying to end things--we don't put an end to Reckless California Driving. We could make public service announcements that say things like:

"Driving a BMW does not make you impervious to death. Not that I'd care if you died, but it also does not make you impervious to killing other people who are choosing not to weave in and out of lanes while driving 120 mph."


"Do you really want to play chicken with Death right now? Because you're a pretty short distance from Hell when you're in Baker, California."

Ahhh, it's good to be home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Refrigerator Jenga

Have I mentioned I've been hanging out in Utah with my parents for a while? Like about three weeks. And maybe you're wondering what I've been doing during all those weeks. Or maybe not. But either way, I'm going to tell you.

There have been some visits to some water parks. Like this one we went to after watching my nephew play baseball in Malad, Idaho (population: enough to have a dollar store and that's about it):
Downata Hot Springs in Downey, Idaho (population: seriously, does anyone even live here?) has a couple of water slides and a pool, but this is the only thing I took a picture of because Girl 3 asked me to and it was close to my lounge chair.  All the water comes from a natural hot springs which means swimming in the pool felt like floating around in a giant bathtub and riding down the hydrotube felt like a claustrophobic trip through some one's intestines before being shot out into a toilet. So basically it was a little like being in a giant bathroom, but definitely worth $7.

We've eaten at Chuck-a-Rama, been on some picnics, done some fishing, gone on a monster hike
during which my nephew cried for most of the way up that he wanted to go home and then when we got to the top he said, "Wow! Look at the view! It's beautiful up here!" and Girl 3 said, "I feel like the most awesome mountain hiker ever!" Actually all the kids were pretty impressed with themselves for making it to the top and I was too.

We're going on a cattle round up tomorrow and Girls 1 and 2 will be showing calves at the Cache County Fair again this year while I head to Bear Lake for a writer's retreat before we head back to the Golden State (population: So, so many people. And they all seem to be tan and blond).

But a vacation at my parents' wouldn't be a vacation at my parents' without multiple rounds of Refrigerator Jenga every day.

This is their fridge, aka Where Condiment Hoarders Hide Their Shame:
And this is how you play Refrigerator Jenga:

1. Think to yourself, "I would like something to eat."
2. Open fridge slowly and be prepared to catch at least one jar of some condiment that will try to escape.

3. Move a giant tub of cottage cheese stacked on a small tub of sour cream, various sized containers with leftovers that nobody will ever eat, and a giant brick of cheese resting on a jar of mayonnaise, to find what it is you're looking for only to not find it.
4. Try one of the other condiment shelves. There are four of them.
5. Move 53 bottles of different flavored fruit salsa. Most of them are stacked precariously on small containers of yogurt, so they should be easy to find. Remove 75 half empty bottles of salad dressing, another giant tub of cottage cheese, and at least one bottle of some sort of ice cream topping. Wipe up whatever dressing has spilled because the lid wasn't on tight. Decide to try the next shelf.
6. Warning! Be careful not to move too quickly or you will knock over one of the open soda cans Mom keeps in the fridge waiting for it to go flat because it's the carbonation that's bad for you, not the high fructose corn syrup, food coloring or artificial flavoring.
7. Move the industrial sized Miracle Whip. You could throw it away, but there are two more just like it in the pantry, so what's the point? If you passed on the first container of mayo you found, there's another one here. You only have to rearrange the rest of ice cream toppings to get to it.  
8. Clean up the soda you just spilled. I hate to say I told you so but, I told you so.
9. You wanted jelly? Sorry. I was sure there was some in there somewhere.
10. Try the garage fridge only to find that it is used solely to store twelve packs of soda, leftovers, and sour cream.

Seriously, the excitement never ends!

Friday, August 3, 2012

So Now What?

Survive Triathlon

Now that I've crossed that off my bucket list I need something to fill its spot. Especially since that was pretty much the only thing on my nonexistant bucket list. Plus, I've got a few extra hours to kill a day since I'm not running, biking and/or swimming.

So now what?

I thought about taking up crafting, but how can I top this:

So maybe I'll give parenting another go.

Monday, July 30, 2012

No Spudman is an Island

I did a triathlon and all I got was this mildly inappropriate t-shirt:
That's a potato or "spud."
It's resemblance to male genitalia--I assume--is unintentional.

And an ugly black eye:
The bruising will get better.
Sadly, the wrinkles can only get worse.

Oh, and a sense of accomplishment. I guess there's that too. Because swimming 1.5k, then biking 24 miles, then running 6 miles in 2 hours and 57 minutes is hard. Unless you're the 45 women in my division who did it faster than that. Then it's even harder.

But my sense of accomplishment doesn't come from finishing the race. It comes from all the training I did over the last nine months.  That's right. Nine months. And most of that training was basically me trying to learn how to swim.

I think we've already established that it takes a village for me to not only raise my kids, but also find my stupid dog. Well, guess what? When I decide to do something hard, it also takes a village.

In this case it took my swim-instructor-extraordinaire friend Bethany to teach me how to blow bubbles out my nose so I could make it across a 25 meter pool and then back again. But I needed to be able to do that 32 times--at least--in order to do the Spudman. Which meant calling in someone much meaner than Bethany who would MAKE me do the impossible.

Enter Ironman extraordinaire Coach Belnap who for five months stood in the pool and shook his head with disappointment every time I attempted to swim. There were many motivational speeches with phrases like, "stop fighting the water!" and "you're not going to drown!" and "RELAX!" and "do another fifty!" (There may or may not have been much cursing on my part).

Until finally one day I heard the words I'd been working so hard to hear. "Now you look like a swimmer!" Coach Belnap smiled, nodded his head, then swam away into the sunset. His work was done; his only reward the satisfaction in having done the impossible. He had taught me how to swim.

Unfortunately, there was still the matter of my wetsuit anxiety. Not to mention my fear of touching squishy river bottoms. Because this was no swim-in-the-pool tri I was training for. This was an open water swim where, by all accounts, I would be getting kicked in the head and whacked all over as hundreds of swimmers tried to get ahead of me.

And sure it was a current assisted swim in a river I grew up on, so if nothing else I could float to the finish in somewhat familiar water. But this is also the same river that once made the whites of my eyes swell up. Not my eyes, THE WHITES OF MY EYES. Can you picture how gross that is? So you can understand that this is not a river I wanted to just hang out in.

Also, I live 1,000 miles away from that river now, so it's not like I could practice in it beforehand. Instead I took my wetsuit, goggles, swim cap and cheerleaders to the man-made lake four miles from my house where I mortified my eleven year old by wearing a swim cap in public and my cheerleader friends Paula and Heather swam beside me yelling at me to keep my head down and go just a little further. And I almost didn't freak out. For that we ate ice cream and french fries.

It took me a few more times of swimming in the wetsuit to get past the thought I was being swallowed by a boa constrictor, but I did it. And on the day of the race I did like Dory and told myself "just keep swimming." Over and over and over. Even when I got kicked in the eye. And sure I did a lot of side stroke and a pretty awesome backstroke that put me horizontal to the finish line, but I didn't stop and I didn't freak out. Mission accomplished.

Or part of my mission anyway. I still had to bike a pretty long distance. Which I couldn't have done without my friends Cheri and Tania who took me up and down giant hills in California so that a flat, twenty-four mile course in Idaho didn't seem so tough. The bike my awesome cousin Dixie loaned me also came in pretty handy for that part of the race.

I wish someone could have loaned me some legs for the run, because mine were pretty shot after the first three miles. I did more walking than I would have liked during mile 4, but I ran the last mile. My friend, Scott, who I hadn't seen in twenty years cheered me across the finish line where my husband waited for me cheering louder than anyone. And really I couldn't have done it without him either, since he's the one who signed me up.

I haven't even mentioned my younger brother Barrett who made me go on my longest bike ride EVER after I'd had only four hours of sleep and an eight hour drive. It may have been his slowest bike ride ever, but he kept telling me I was going pretty fast. Also, he let me stop at McDonald's to pee about ten minutes into the ride without too much ridicule.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about doing the Spudman.

I'm feeling even better about my village.

Here's the thing with villages: they step up. I chose to do something hard and I couldn't have done it without help. But I am more impressed with people who have hard things thrust upon them than I am with myself. And I love hearing about their villages.

Like my aunt who just found out she has cancer and is in surgery right now. Her Mormon friends have her name on their temple prayer rolls. Her Baptist friends have her name on their prayer rolls. Her Sikh friends are praying to Allah for her and her atheist friends are sending good thoughts out to the Universe on her behalf.

Or my friends from high school whose son died a month ago from a rare disease. People across the country released balloons in his memory and have donated money in hopes of finding a cure for JM so other kids don't have to face the same hard thing.

Or the twelve year old girl in my city who rallied an entire community to donate items to go in Joy Jars that she gave away to kids suffering from cancer before she died of it herself. She's gone but her village is still giving away Joy Jars.

I think John Donne said it best. "No man is an island."

And why would we want to be?

Shawn, me and Barrett with our Spudman Cheer Squad

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Life in the Lab

I know I promised a Philosophy Phriday post and now it's Monday, but let me tell you one of my many philosophies: There's no shame in putting things off in favor of a nap. This is maybe why I don't get very much done.

Anyhow, instead of Philosophy Phriday how about a Meditation Monday? And then a nap. Because I'm feeling productive today and will put off nap time until after I blog.

So here's what I'm meditating about. I love my bedroom and I love my bathroom and I don't really like my kids to be in either of those places. Because kids make messes and sometimes I just want to get away from the messes. And maybe the kids.

So imagine my reaction one morning when I looked up from my shower to see this in my tub:

That's a Littlest Pet Shop floating in a jar that used to contain my soothing bath salts. And it kind of reminded me of this:

Which brought on the epiphany that I'm living in a lab. A big old science lab. And I'm the scientist. The mad scientist. (And I mean that in every sense of the word. Just ask my kids how often I yell).

I'm always trying some new experiment to get them to clean rooms/practice piano/do homework/stop fighting/make beds/go to bed/sit still/move faster. And as soon as I find some formula that works, they go and add some new variable that totally screws it up. That's where the mad scientist part comes in.

The latest experiment involves the following hypothesis:

How does a mother spend hours a day swimming, biking, and/or running in order to train for a triathlon and then spend more hours a day writing because she likes that too and convince her kids to do all the housework and enjoy the parental neglect they are suffering from, all without feeling guilty?

If you have the formula for that, please pass it along. In the meantime, I think I'll take a nap while the kids are entertaining themselves.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We Have A Winner!

The winner of the Summer Lovin' give away is....

Joana Arteaga! Thank you to everyone who participated and became followers of my blog. Look for some more give aways this fall. I know of a few more great, clean books coming out!!

In the meantime, look for the second installment of Philosophy Phridays this Friday!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Lovin'

So you know how I've been ranting about porn for women?


Well, I did it here AND here, just in case you missed it. But lest you think all I do is rant, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and give away some non-porn for women.

That's right, non-porn. And by that I mean a book that, for what it lacks in graphic sex, makes up for it with good writing, romance, and actual story-telling. Pretty novel (get it? Novel. It's a play on words) idea, right?

So here's the book and the blurb:

A Ghost of a Second Chance (Rose Arbor series)

An eastern wind carries more than dust and ashes; it uproots secrets and everyone knows that once one secret is told, no secret is safe. Laine’s haunting secrets--the estrangement from her husband—the unknown body laying in her grandfather’s coffin—the sudden and strange appearance of a difficult ghost—take her to the tiny town of Rose Arbor, her grandfather’s hometown and the place of her grandmother’s death.

As Laine unravels the mystery of her grandparents’ marriage she is forced to face one more question of the heart—Can love live even after it has died?

Sounds pretty good, right? I can verify that it is since I've already read it. And it's only the first in a series written by Kristy Tate set in the little town of Rose Arbor, Washington which is chock full of all kinds of interesting characters.

So, you want to read it? Well all you have to do is comment below to be entered into the drawing I'm having as part of the Summer Lovin' Giveaway Hop I'm part of starting July 11 and ending on July 17. If your name is chosen I will send you a signed copy of Kristy's book.

But if you don't win, you can go here to order Kristy's book on Kindle for only $3.99.

As an added bonus I've included a list of all the other blogs participating in the blog hop where you can go to find--and maybe win--more non-porn. It's a win-win for everyone! So get to commenting and hopping and ignore all the porn for women hype!