Wednesday, May 28, 2008

this boy

Turns out he doesn't need glasses. The vision in his injured eye today was better than mine and the nurse's who tested him. So there! He was somewhat disappointed. (But his mom thanks you all for your prayers.)
Sunday night he got hit in the face with a spade. I'm not clear on how it happened, but he was bent over the spade, Bernie stomped on it... Anyway, I heard screams and I ran outside to find Marcus clutching his eyes and howling. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest. I pulled his hands away and there was a scrape between his eyebrows. A little blood, but not too much. It was a really hard hit though--within minutes a huge goose egg appeared. The swelling was down by yesterday morning. I think I'm going to let him keep his hair long all summer to shield it from the sun so it won't scar.
Seriously, if I can keep this boy in one piece until he reaches adulthood it will be an incredible triumph.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Georgie gave a talk today at church. For those who are not familiar with an LDS sacrament meeting, we do not have ministers who speak. People from the congregation give talks as assigned by the bishopric. Usually there is a youth speaker followed by two adults. This is the third time Georgie has spoken in sacrament meeting, and she did a wonderful job. She gave her first talk about a year ago, and when she spoke today I was struck by what a difference a year can make in a child's maturity. We helped her quite a bit with her first talk, but very little with this one. She spoke on the topic "Stand as a witness of God." She chose many very relevant scriptures and mentioned some of the stories from the scriptures that touch her. She shared a personal story and her testimony. What I loved about it was how obvious it was that she was speaking from the heart. Her talk was the perfect length. Oh, that adult speakers would realize that in most cases, the briefer the better!

Georgie got many sincere compliments on her talk. I hope they don't go to her head. I told her she should be proud of herself "in a very humble way."

In the above photo she is sorting through old school papers and art work. That's our afternoon fun today.

the negotiator

Marcus got sent to his room today for a fairly minor misdemeanor. I didn't plan on leaving him there long, but he did know better than to do what he did, so there he was. After a few minutes we got one of his proposals. It said (with my comments in blue):

Hey! Which one do you want:

  • I get out of my room

  • I get $5.oo

  • I get 40 minute turns [as opposed to his current 20 minute turns allowed on Wii]

  • I get something of my choice

  • I'm never going up to my room

  • I'm having $10.00 allowance [as opposed to the current paltry two bucks]

Which one? _______________________

As you can see, Marcus is a big fan of the bullet point. He also included Spanish punctuation with an upside down exclamation point in front of "Hey!" and upside down question mark in front of "Which one?"

Another recent proposal he sent down while banished to his room was covered with "xoxoxoxo." I suppose he thought the parental party might be open to other influences outside the hardline negotiations he favors.

What goes around comes around. I don't do this so much now with Marcus, but when he was younger, multiple times per day I would take him by the shoulders, look him straight in the eye, and proceed to list his options. Looks like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Friday, May 23, 2008



You may have assumed I dropped off the edge of the

world but no, I only feel like I have. We decided to go forward with a remodel, though I suppose it can hardly be called that. Just changing the floors and painting all the walls. It's a makeover more than a remodel. But boy, has it been involved. There are too many choices out there for flooring. We finally decided on an on-site finished hardwood for our main level with cork in the kitchen and new carpet everywhere else. I have to paint all the walls in the next week or so. I haven't even finished the basement where I've put in a good seven hours at least. Pray for me.
We bought a new refrigerator last night to replace the 22-year old. They will deliver it next Thursday and take away the oldie for recycling. J and the salesman had a good laugh when I asked if I had to clean the old refrigerator before they took it away.
Lidia is very close to finishing school for the year! She has only 3-4 days of work left, thank merciful heavens. She took the NWEAs, a standardized test they take here at the beginning and end of the school year. She improved by exactly 20 points in Reading and Math, and 16 points in Language Usage. I believe that is considered drastic improvement, but I don't know much about these tests.
I went to Georgie's orchestra performance Wednesday night and it was very impressive. She has practiced a lot this year and it shows.
Marcus's eye has healed well, but we won't know until next Wednesday if he needs glasses or not. He wants glasses.
I curled Bernie's hair yesterday for her kindergarten choral performance and, as you can see, it made her feel very pretty. She really enjoyed singing and dancing in front of an audience. You'd think she was on American Idol or something. She was very visible in the front row center, and a few parents told me later what a good job she'd done. This is our only child who has ever been excited about these school choral performances.

Friday, May 16, 2008

highly recommended

Ok, Meg, I've got a weekend movie for you. Actually, I recommend it for everyone and for any time of day or night! We saw "Bella" last night, and it's one of the best films I've seen recently.

Writer/director/producer Alejandro Gomez Monteverde and actor/producer Eduardo Verastegui are from Tamualipas, the state in Mexico where J was born and raised. They formed Metanoia films a few years ago with the intention of making films that uplift and inspire. "Metanoia" means "conversion" in Greek, and these filmmakers decided to pursue this path after experiencing a renewal in their Catholic faith.

Eduardo Verastegui says the following about Hollywood's negative hispanic stereotypes in this interview: “Always the banditos, the prostitute, the criminal, the thief — and, if you are good-looking, then you are the Don-Juan Latin lover; in other words, the womanizing liar. I was feeding that negative stereotype by the roles that I was choosing. So I realized that I was not being responsible as an actor I was just taking jobs only for the money and my career and the fame, not because I wanted to do something that had the potential to make a difference, and to elevate the dignity of Latinos in this country.”

This movie is powerful and good. I loved the focus on understanding rather than judgement. I don't want to give too much away in a plot summary. Avoid reading about the film before you see it. In fact, don't read the interview linked above until you've seen it.

labels, blog list, etc.

I've had some negative feedback about my removal of the labels and blog list. I prefer the look of the blog without them. I have a really long list of labels and it bugged me to have them all there. But if people actually use them, I guess I can stand to bring them back. :-) Maybe I can pare it down a bit. As far as the blog list goes, I don't think I'll bring it back quite yet. (Ave, I'm afraid you'll have to add yourself to your favorites list ;-)) There are so many blogs I read now; some daily, others a couple times a week, etc. I decided it would be better to not have a list at all then a poorly updated one. Is that lame? I'm open to constructive criticism.

Monday, May 12, 2008

completely random

Lidia and Bernie played outside at the park at lot yesterday in spite of the cold. They chatted with a girl who goes on the bus with G. The girl told them that she'd always thought that we were Russian Jews. (?!) When Lidia asked her why she'd assumed that, the girl replied that we "looked it and acted like it." Hmm.

Separately, here are a couple articles from Psychology Today I thought were very good:

Pitfalls of Perfectionism: Perfectionism may be the ultimate self-defeating behavior. It turns people into slaves of success—but keeps them focused on failure, dooming them to a lifetime of doubt and depression. It also winds up undermining achievement in the modern world.

Second Nature: Your personality isn't necessarily set in stone. With a little experimentation, the ornery and bleak can reshape their temperaments and inject pluck and passion into their lives.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

more from the life of a pampered mom

If I'd known things were going to get this fancy, I might have worn more appropriate attire. It wasn't so much a t-shirt and pijama pants kind of place.
Though sorely tempted by the Chef's Special, I went with the mahi mahi and basmati rice.
Mother’s Day Menu


Zesty Shrimp Cocktail

Nachos with Spicy Cream Cheese Dip

From The Grill

Beef Brats, Hotdogs, and Delicious Ground Sirloin Hamburgers with Melted Cheese, Avocado, Lettuce, and Tomato

Grilled Chicken Breast Filets

From The Sea

Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with Chipotle and Lime

Wild Pacific Mahi Mahi Marinated With Sweet Mango and Roasted Peppers

Chef’s Special

Costco Microwaved Meatballs with Potato Pearls from Family Storage Vintage 1999


Rice Pilaf

Aged Basmati Rice with Cranberries Almonds and Orzo Pasta


Oreo Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Wild Strawberry and Cream Cheesecake

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Fruit Platter with Blackberries, Pineapple, Banana, Watermelon and Strawberries

queen for a day

[Edit: Family members, please refrain from commenting that my expression in this photo reminds you of Grampie Rex. Thanks so much!]

I love Mother's Day. Everyone treats me so nice. I get flowers, chocolates, and even more appreciated--breakfast, lunch, and dinner taken care of for me. Plus clean up. J keeps the kids on track so I don't have to nag. No one begrudges me computer time. Ah, that it would last forever! Look, the girls even made me dandelion crowns.

Today in Relief Society we talked, among other things, about the importance of savoring the time of life in which you find yourself. The class was based on the General Conference talk "Daughters of God" by Russell Ballard. I love the following quote by Anna Quindlen:

“The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less”(Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11).

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I have all kinds of things I'm interested in. There are thousands and thousands of things I could be thinking about at any given moment. For the most part, I try for productive rumination, but I define "productive" much more broadly than many. A perfectly kosher line of thought for me would be trying to decide what hue of green would look best on a redhead invited to attend her first medieval banquet on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. (No, I haven't been invited to one and I'm not even a redhead. I'll just let you wonder.) I consider that productive, but my thoughts also tend to the more mundanely industrious, like what's for dinner and how I can get my children to fold their clothes or flush the toilet.

For the past week I've found thoughts of all kinds most annoyingly disturbed by a new focus. Home decor and maintenance. Bleh. We are replacing the carpet damaged in the basement flooding. We've been looking for an excuse to get rid of the off-white carpet throughout the rest of our home that has not held up well under four young children and a dog. It seems wise to do this now when we can get a good volume discount, or so we tell ourselves. But, asks J, do we really want more carpet on our main level? Why should we replace what's there if the kids and dog will just destroy it, no matter what color? My quick reply is that we should not put in more carpet on the main level, we should put in hardwood. No-brainer, right? J does not think so. He thinks it's expensive. I say that we will save money in the long run because we won't have to replace it every few years or get it professionally cleaned. J replies, what long run? How long are we going to be in this house?

See? The simple matter of replacing basement carpet has suddenly snowballed in such a way that it strikes at the very heart of who we are and what we hold dear. Are we staying in this house? Do we need more bedrooms? Are we tired of our dull suburb? Do we really want to move out of our stake boundaries (for people who are not LDS--Mormons are assigned geographically to attend church at a certain building--if you move out of this area you may be giving up associations you've had for years. I know, it's weird. I'm telling you, there are weirder things about Mormons than the old polygamy days. Don't get me started.)?

And whatever happened to my winter dreams? If we invest a lot in the floors of our home, does that mean we can't take off and live in some exotic location for a while? (Costa Rica is my latest passion. I've been holding out on you!)

Are we the kind of people who have to spend this much money on flooring? Do we really care? Should we consider other options for that huge chunk of dough, like a trip to Europe with the kids? Savings toward our next car? Helping the needy who don't even have floors, for crying out loud?

Can you tell I've been thinking about this a bit too much?

What I should be thinking about is what colors I'm going to paint on all the walls of this house. You've got to paint before you put in new flooring.

I'd rather think about just about anything else. This is so not my thing.

nickelodeon universe

This is the former "Camp Snoopy" in the Mall of America. We hadn't been for at least three years. We needed a big break because the last two times we went we had bad experiences. Two times ago Bernie was about one month old and I was a mess. The other three (almost two, four, and seven) probably would have been too much for both J and I to handle without a newborn, but with newborn? Nightmare. The last time we went Marcus had a couple tantrums because he was too small to go on the big rides.
This time it was wonderful! We had a blast. G stayed home because she doesn't do rides. Bernie invited her best friend (this is how I got out of throwing her a birthday party this year) and they were so fun to watch. They squealed and hugged every few minutes, which is perfectly o.k. in such a loud place. They went on the above ride three times.
Lidia and Marcus. Well! I guess I shouldn't be surprised. But I want to leave something for Lidia to blog about it, so I'll keep mum for the present.

Friday, May 09, 2008

six today

I can't believe my baby turned six today. I have managed to not cry.
She insisted on wearing a yellow summer dress to school and luckily it ended up being warmer than forecasted. As you can see we're still working on those bangs. (Will they EVER grow out?)
She desperately wanted a three-wheeled scooter so I got her one, but it's too small. Now we're looking for a bigger one but after three stores, no luck.
She helped decorate the cake and thought it was the "most beautiful cake ever." (What about this one? Hello?)
The guys went to the Father and Son campout tonight, so the girls and I ate cake and ice cream, pizza, breadsticks, and popcorn and watched "Whisper of the Heart." Cute movie--perfect chick flick to watch with smart, artsy girls. But now I have a stomach ache.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

midsummer night's dream at the guthrie

It was completely over-the-top and in-your-face. It was sexual rather than sexy. Aggressive and loud. Crass.

I loved it.

The setting was contemporary and there were constant pop references. Theseus and Hipployta were reminiscent of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (if you can picture Hillary in a Russian fur hat) complete with secret service sporting sunglasses and earpieces. Other characters, like Egeus and Demetrius, wore military garb. The fairies were wildly punk--those were my favorite costumes. Oberon even had a touch of Maori. Quite a few speeches are put to song of varying styles, including R&B, rap, bee bop, and something faintly Disney-ish. There is a lot of dance too, even some Irish dance!

The tradesmen who do the Pyramus and Thisbe play were such a motley crew that it was hard for me to buy them as a group of people who would hang out together or in fact have anything to do with one another. But their play was very appealing to the Guthrie crowd--lots of slapstick milked for everything it was worth.

I wondered how appealing, however, the rest of the play was to older Guthrie patrons, of whom there are many. I would say close to half the audience was upward of sixty. This was a pretty edgy, sexually agressive performance. The costumes were skin-tight and in some cases, barely there. Some of the dance moves were suggestive. If there was an opportunity to exploit a double entendre, they went for it big time. When both Lysander and Demetrius had fallen for Helena they were practically writhing with lust. At one point Hermia hugs Helena and Demetrius mutters throatily, "That's so hot." At another point we overhear the goings-on of the literal Bottom and Titania in Titania's bower while Oberon hovers nearby enjoying it. I didn't need that.

I do admit that this version is a sad commentary on what our society has become. But I still enjoyed it. Why? One reason is I suppose I liked seeing how radical Midsummer can be and still mostly work. I've read the play many times and imagined it different ways. I've seen a couple versions on film--this is the first I've seen on stage. I liked it as an extreme interpretation. If you're looking for subtlety or nuance, this would not be the one. But seeing it this way made me look anew at some of the themes.

I thought the performances were wonderful. I especially liked Valeri Mudek as a hilarious Helena and Erin Cherry's singing and dancing as First Fairy. I loved the set. Titania's enormous conch-like bower was amazing.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

lidia update

Lidia finally updated her blog. Go see what she's been up to.

[Edit: I had meant to write this in the post but then forgot. Mom told me she was amazed at how persistent Lidia was about making that skirt. It took several hours and there was no way she was quitting. Mum said it reminded her of when Lidia was little and she'd get this certain look on her face sometimes when you told her "no." It was a look that meant, "I will have ______ or I will do _______ regardless of what you say. Watch me." I replied that all of my children were/are like that and it's a big reason no more have come along. Dogged persistence may be a great quality that will take them far in their adult lives, but for the parents of these unrelenting toddlers, it's a killer.]

Monday, May 05, 2008

more of nana's photos

My mom whipped out her fancy-shmancy Nikon D300 to take these yesterday. Here are some more from the park and some of my dad and brothers vacationing in New Mexico.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

this afternoon

It's a spring day in Minnesota. Surely God will forgive a little Sabbath-breaking...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

more nana fun

I would never have thought teaching a five-year old to iron could provide hours of entertainment. (And only two burns.) My mom is such a Mary Poppins.

Friday, May 02, 2008

of the blog

It is so entertaining to see on my stats what Google searches are leading people to my blog.

Here are the latest:

spaghetti on stick
living in saudi
stories of poor saudi people blog
ballet folklorico dresses
kiki strike
casa bramasole
latin american dance classes in riyadh

Another that turns up all the time is "o dhia gach aon cabhair meaning."

I was getting major traffic from the "deuce wall street journal" search so I removed that post.

As you might have noticed, I changed the look of my blog again. It's lots of fun and I'll probably do it again soon. Check out Cocoa's posts from Chocolate on My Cranium about how to fool around with html. I already knew how to do a lot of these because Cocoa had directed me a few months ago to another site that explained some blog customization. But Cocoa's tutorials are much easier to follow. I'm especially happy with my new font. Which it actually almost identical to Cocoa's. What can I say? Great minds think alike.

Here are Cocoa's posts:
Customizing Your Blog--Part 1
Customizing Your Blog--Part 2 html code
Customizing Your Blog--Part 3 fonts
Customizing Your Blog--Part 4 creating a new header

Thursday, May 01, 2008

may baskets

Yesterday my mom asked me if we were going to hang May baskets. She asks me this every year. When we were kids we used to painstakingly decorate a basket, fill it with candy and little gifts, and "hang" it on a family's front door on May Day. Then we'd knock on the door and run. The children of the family are supposed to capture the kids who hung the basket and then everyone gets to share the treats. I think my mother must have explained this beforehand to the participating families so they'd know how to play, because I don't think it was commonly done.

Every year I tell my mom no, we did not do May baskets or no, I do not plan to do May baskets. I'm sure this is disappointing, because obviously it is tradition she wanted perpetuated throughout the generations. I just never think of it. Or maybe I don't feel like it. Do my kids really need more candy? I know, just call me Scrooge.

So yesterday, feeling like a major party pooper, I told her no, Mom, we are not doing May baskets. I've told her before that people around here do not even know what May baskets are. They are Scandinavians, not English.

Tonight when I got home from taking Lidia to dance class, lo and behold, my children were making and hanging May baskets all over the neighborhood. I looked incredulously at my mother, who was on the phone. Bernie and Marcus were busily filling a paper bag, which they informed me was their next May basket. It contained one laffy taffy and two baggies filled with Cheetos. Marcus grabbed the bag and dashed out the door. Eventually I learned the whole story, and no, my mother was not to blame. The next-door neighbor boy had hung a May basket on our door as well as two other neighbors' doors. This set off a frenzy of May basket giving. We got Chinese White Rabbit candies from the next-door neighbors. When my mom got off the phone she said that the first May basket that Marcus and Bernie had made up contained one yogurt and one can of Spaghettios. J had said no to that one, so Cheetos, almonds, Saltines, and stray candy went into the subsequent baskets.

My mom's pointed look at me contained a major, "I told you so." "Next year you'll have to be prepared!" she said gleefully.

a day late

April in Maine

The days are cold and brown,
Brown fields, no sign of green,
Brown twigs, not even swelling,
And dirty snow in the woods.
But as the dark flows in
The tree frogs begin
Their shrill sweet singing,
And we lie on our beds
Through the ecstatic night,
Wide awake, cracked open.
There will be no going back.

~Mary Sarton