Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So Long, Christmas

I took down our Christmas decorations today.  Does that seem early?  Tyler thinks it's early.  I don't know.  I just got to the point where I could hardly stand it.  I mean, Christmas was over DAYS ago.  Normally I think I do wait until New Year's Day to dismantle it all.  I just couldn't wait that long this year.  I get very excited to put all of those things up at the beginning of the Christmas season and then this year I got very anxious about getting it all put away when the holiday was over.   I think I'm just trying to push time along...when you're waiting for a baby the passage of time is always a big deal.  I think I've been thinking in my head that once Christmas is over the due date will be in the foreseeable future, so I'm making Christmas be over. 

C.T. said he thinks the house seems strange without the Christmas things.  It does have a bit of a bareness compared to the Christmas finery, but it is nice to have change.  I like the idea of starting off the New Year without the project of taking down Christmas decorations ahead of me.  We'll see what other projects I can cross off of my end of year list before Saturday rolls around...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flash Mob

So I've seen a couple of these videos of different flash mobs singing the Hallelujah Chorus in malls and things.  I feel a little ridiculous admitting this, but they make me cry.  There is just something about it that I find really moving.  All of those people, just standing up and spontaneously bursting into song celebrating the Savior...I think to myself wouldn't it be great if all these people participating in these things lived their lives as joyously in celebration of the Savior?  If they unashamedly followed his teachings daily the way they so boldly sang his praises in the food court?  If we all could keep this much joy and gratitude and awe in our hearts about the Savior more often...that's what Christmas is about, isn't it?  Reminding us of things like this.  Thanks, flash mobs, for the reminder.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Comfort and Joy

Today is Day 1 of CT's Christmas Break from school.  I just finished making my first batch of cookies for today's Christmas baking.  All three kids are upstairs.  I have no idea what they are doing...I am hearing a lot of screaming, laughing, and loud banging.  A big part of me doesn't want to know what it is they are long as no one is crying and I don't hear glass breaking I like to tell myself that all is well. 

I was so looking forward to the holiday season this year.  I was ready for that special Christmas feeling and the cozy traditions and twinkling decorations.  Now that it is here I'm having a harder time than I anticipated.  For some reason this year I am feeling that it is very unfair that I don't live near anyone in my family, nor any really close friends.  I just feel the need to be around people who love me, and I feel sad that it just isn't possible.  One of the very best parts of Christmas for me has always been that feeling of togetherness, of gathering.  I loved it when my older brother and sister would arrive home for Christmas from college, or come with their families from their various cities as we got older. I loved coming home myself as a young adult and seeing old friends and being enveloped by that sense of belonging that a loving home provides.   I find myself wishing that I could just be at my parents house, hearing my mom in the kitchen while I sit at the piano playing songs out of our ancient Christmas songbook and glancing over to see snow falling outside.  The doorbell would ring and it would be yet another neighbor or friend bringing a little token of friendship for Christmas - sparkling cider or homemade jam or hand dipped chocolates. 

There's that saying "You can't go home again" or something like that...that's the reality of things, isn't it?  My parents aren't even at their house.  My siblings and I don't gather together for holidays. Dear friends are scattered across the country.  And I live here, by none of them.
It's not that I don't love being here with my own husband and children and making memories of our own.  It's just that this year I really wish I could revisit some of my Christmas memories and find some comfort and peace.   

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


So last night we went to the Ho-Ho-Ho-Down at CT's school.  There was a "sleigh ride" (being pulled on a flat bed by a John Deere tractor around the school parking lot), pictures with Santa (which we had to bribe our kids into doing at all - they each got to pick a book from the Book Fair if they would condescend to let Santa be in a picture with them.  Even so they wouldn't get near him and I had to sit on a bench holding them while Santa good-naturedly yet awkwardly stooped behind us.  Maybe some day I'll get around to posting that classic), a "Holiday Shop" where they were supposed to buy presents for their family members ($7.00 later they each bought something for their siblings that in actual value totals approximately 57 cents), sugar cookie decorating (where there were signs saying "Thank you State Farm Insurance and Northwast High School for providing the cookies".  That made me nervous.  I'm not sure I trust high school Home-Ec students to meet food safety standards.  I'm not assigning blame here, but I just want to point out that CT did end up throwing up three times during the night following this event...) and of course the Book Fair.

I don't really have much else to say about it, but I wanted to seize the opportunity to write Ho-Ho-Ho-Down.  His school is very creative about naming all of their events after a Western theme.  Back to School Night was the Parent Round-up.  Every six weeks they have an end-of-term awards ceremony and treat day that is called the Boot-Scootin' Celebration.  It amuses me to see the creativity of these school personnel.  It's quite impressive actually.

In unrelated news, I went to all the trouble of making my kids favorite pumpkin muffins for breakfast this morning...and forgot to put in the sugar entirely.  I thought they were still okay with a little honey on them.  Lily agreed.  CT and Amelia were not so easily swayed.  Anybody have any ingenious ideas for how to use up two dozen sugar-free pumpkin mini muffins? 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh Boy.

So many of you have probably heard that we are hoping for a baby boy in a few months.  The due date is April 1st.  I have a hard time just saying "We're having a baby in 4 months", because I know that's not a guarantee.  I find myself saying "We hope to" or "We are expecting to".  Just a small things that has changed for me. 

Anyway, we just found out this week that the baby is a a boy.  I think that's good.  We have wanted another boy.  And I think a boy baby will be a bit easier to bear...a bit less of people assuming he is a "replacement" for our baby girl. 

Last fall, we were confident that we wouldn't be needing CT's old outgrown clothes that I had been saving his whole life.  So we sold A LOT of them at our neighborhood's annual fall garage sale.  The remainder were given away.   I thought that I had saved his newborn things from the great sale and give-away, but Tyler told me yesterday that I didn't.  I don't remember that, but I sure can't find those two bins of clothes, so he must be right.  So, at this moment I am feeling a bit stressed out.  I have not one thing for a baby boy.  No jammies, no socks, no onsies, no pants and shirts and shorts and jackets.  And it's such a bummer because I had SO MUCH of all of that.  I kept it for 5 years!  And now I don't have it when I need it.  So ironic.  Tyler is even sad.  He told me it would have been fun to see a new baby wearing the same things we have memories of C.T. in.  I guess some people would say this is a lucky hand-me-downs from his big brother!  But in a weird way it is just one more thing that reminds me of how terribly our life changed last November and how that has affected every part of our lives in ways that maybe aren't so obvious. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Different Story

Yesterday someone told me a story about another woman who lost her baby.  Her point in telling me the story was just to say that she never had any experiences with people losing babies, and now she knows tow people in a year who have lost a baby.  The thing is that the story she told me stirred up some emotions that are one of the worst parts of this whole experience.  Her story was that a woman she knows caught a very serious virus that sent her into premature labor at only 20 weeks.  they couldn't stop the labor, so the baby was born and lived for 12 hours.  I do not mean to take away from this woman's pain in any way, but hearing this story made me feel two very powerful and unpleasant emotions: anger and jealousy.  I was 26 weeks pregnant when my baby died.  My baby's chances of survival being born at that stage were over 85%.  Her baby was only 20 weeks and  LIVED for 12 hours.  She gets a birth certificate and a death certificate.  She gets to have her baby on the records of the church.  There is no question about whether or not she REALLY had a baby, or if that baby "counts" as part of her family.  There is no uncertainty on the part of family or friends about if her experience really counts as a real member of the family dying.  And those circumstances made me so envious.  So jealous of those twelve hours that changed everything for her, whether she realizes it or not. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

They Really Did Dress Up

Do you want to know how many pictures I took of my children in their Halloween costumes this year?  Exactly zero.  Zero!  Can you believe it?  I've always said I'm not a picture taker, but now I know I really meant it.  Who misses the costume photo-op?  And I really have no excuse because they dressed up twice.  My parents even called on Skype to see them in their costumes.  You'd think that would have jogged my brain into thinking that a photo might be a good idea as well.  Oh well.  You'll just have to imagine a five-year old batman and two little ballerinas.  The girls wore pink leotards and these really cute, really puffy tutus I got for them..  At one event we went to people kept saying, "Look at the cute princesses".  Now, I know there are other versions of princess stories besides Disney's, but still, I have never thought of "puffy tutu" as "princess gown".  I guess some people do.  I didn't even realize I should have taken pictures until Tyler's mom e-mailed us wanting to see pictures of the kids in their costumes and it dawned on me that we didn't have any. I vow to take a picture next year. 

So far Amelia has chosen to be whatever Lily is for Halloween every year of her life.  We had two Tinkerbell's, followed by two little witches, and then this year the ballerinas.  I hope she knows she really can be something different if she wants to be.  Lily and Amelia are kind of in a "twin" phase right now.  They want to wear the same outfit all the time, and have their hair done the same way.  It is fine with me.  I think they look cute dressed alike.  And it reminds me of me and my sisters who used to wear  "twin" things when we were younger also, even though we were four years apart.  Of course, it's a challenge to have them be twins, especially in the hair department.  Lily's hair is getting some length to it finally, and Amelia has a curly mop that is not long.  Lily thought it was hilarious today that her request of "one rubber band" for their hair ended up as a regular ponytail for her and a little side-sprout of a pigtail for Amelia.  That's as close to the same as I could get it.

On a personal note, I feel sad today.  I feel stressed out about being in charge of our ward Christmas party with no one to help me.  I feel like everyone I know is better at being friendly than I am, and as a result I have fewer friends.  This is especially hard for me because I feel like in the past I was a very friendly person and it bothers me that I'm not anymore.  Also it is November, and I can't help but remember last November and all the things I was looking forward to then and how I had no idea what was coming in just a few weeks.  That's all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Perchance To Dream

Dear Sleep,

I know we haven't been the best of friends over the years.  Especially lately there has been some tension.  I don't want to place blame here, but truthfully, I feel like you are never around when I need you. 

I realize that there are many times during the day when you try to spend quality time with me and I cut it short, or rebuff you altogether, but it is always with the invitation to come back later.  I nearly always reserve a solid eight hours every night just to hang out with you. 

I guess turn-about is fair play, huh?  I don't let you visit in the day, so you refuse to visit in the night.

Let's work something out, amicably.  I really don't want to have to call in the mediator.  Her name is Unisom and I hear she usually favors people like me over you.  If things get really serious I can call a guy I know who has a friend named Ambien.  This is not a threat.  I'm just saying...I'd really like to spend more time with you.  During the night. Tonight would be good for me.  See you then?



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Something That Made Me Laugh

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Mall

I was watching a bit of the news this morning and on comes a commercial for Macy's Labor Day Sale.  Suddenly I am seized by a longing to shop at a mall.  I have not shopped at a mall for...years.  Seriously.  And this is quite something, because it is not an exaggeration to say that when I was a singleton I went to the mall at least once a week for some serious shopping.  I mean, I bought things and everything.

I know people will tell you avoiding malls is not unusual.  It's just a Kohl's, TJMaxx, Target kind of world now.  I don't avoid malls because I don't like them.  I avoid them because things cost more there.  And I have children.  Malls are a terrible place for children.  On the one hand, they are very non-child focused.  All of those racks of clothes at the perfect height to crawl under and through make it extremely difficult to find children who have discovered them.  The whole fine china department right in the middle of everything always tempts them to touch things.  So many clothes for moms to look at and try on with nothing but the occasional full length mirror to distract a child. And then, in other ways, they are TOO child friendly.  All of those sculpted foam play areas where kids can climb on germ-infested giant-sized snack foods.  All of those random islands of candy machines in the middle of walkways.  (Which I unashamedly told my children were not really for sale, but merely a creative display to look at.)  And worst of all, those areas of coin-operated "rides" where you can pay seventy-five cents to spend one minute being jerkily rocked in a plastic bulldozer. 

Yes, I have very good reasons for no longer shopping at malls - but today I wanted to.  If you go to the mall today, look for me in Macy's.  Maybe I'll leave the littles at home with Tyler (on his birthday!  What a treat for him!) and head to the mall.  You know, just for old time's sake.  I wouldn't have to actually buy anything, right?...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Paving The Way

Watching C.T. grow up, I have to tell you that I admire you firsties more and more.  I've never really thought much about what it is like to be the oldest child in a family.  I've never considered how it would be to always have to do things that you have never seen any other sibling in your family do. 

C.T. started kindergarten last week.  He absolutely loves it.  Still, there was some trepidation leading up to it and riding the bus for the first time was not all smooth sailing (He cried for about 30 seconds, until the doors closed, and then the driver said he was perfectly fine).  He has adjusted beautifully and is like a fish in water.  Lily cannot wait to join him next year.  And I think how lucky she is to be able to start her school years with her brother by her side.  She will always have that, and C.T. never will.  He will always have to do things first, and alone.  I have gained a new appreciation for that role in a family.  I have a new respect for all first-borns. 

So thanks to my brother for forging the way in our family and taking on so many new experiences.  Your example made me think I could do absolutely anything I wanted to - take on any adventure, because you did.  And thanks to my sweet C.T. Pumpkin, who is doing the same for his sisters. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reading Woes

What happened to all the good books? I've grown weary of adult literature.  I haven't purely enjoyed a book in a long time.  I've read lots of books that are well written, that are interesting, that I learn things from, that provoke thinking...but nothing truly engaging, if you know what I mean.  Nothing that makes me want to immerse myself in the world of the book the way I felt about stories from my childhood.  Is it impossible for a book you read as an adult to stir those same emotions just because we are adults?  I hope not.  Where oh where is a book that makes me want to discover wild violets in a buffalo wallow on the Dakota Prairie with Laura?  To constantly write my thoughts in a notebook and drink a real New York Egg Cream with Harriet?  To clomp down Klickitat Street on coffee can stilts with Ramona?  To live in a lake front high rise and solve a mystery with Turtle?  To belly crawl across the Alaskan tundra hunting for food with Julie?

I've looked for fun and frivolity in adult fiction.  I've read Bridget Jones's Diary.  I've read the Shopaholic books.  I've probably read all of the British chick lit my libraries have to offer.  It is fun.  But it doesn't make me want to live like those women. 

I've looked for community and coziness in adult fiction.  I've read the Mitford books and enjoyed them tremendously.  But I don't want to live in Mitford. 

I've looked for adventure and richness of place in adult literature.  I like reading escapist travel books like "A Year in Provence" and "Under the Tuscan Sun", but the authors of those books don't live as characters that come to feel like friends in my mind. 

I'm guess I'm just nostalgic.  It must be like Meg Ryan's character Kathleen says in "You've Got Mail" - "I started helping my mother here after school when I was six years old. I used to watch her, and it wasn't that she was selling books, it was that she was helping people become whoever they were going to turn out to be. When you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does."

I am so grateful for the great books I read as a child.  So grateful for the funny and smart and sympathetic authors who thought to write them.  I'm hopeful it's still possible to find books like that as an adult.   My search for new books to call friends continues. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Lost

I wake up several times a night and have a very hard time going back to sleep.  The house is still, quiet, and dark.  My mind is not.  It is busy, busy, busy, thinking of my Lost One. 

I went through a phase not long ago when using the euphemism "lost" to mean "dead" was really offensive to me.  I didn't like the implication of "lost".  That it somehow meant I "misplaced" her, or in some way was responsible for her death by not paying enough attention to where she was so that she could just wander away and become "lost".  I just didn't like it. 

Now, with some time, I am able to accept the intention behind the phrase and agree with it's true sentiment.  My baby girl is lost to me.  I have lost the chance to know her.  And it is a lot to lose.  I feel it every day.  It is so obvious to me, the hole in our family where she is, but isn't.  I miss her.  I miss her deep in my soul.  You may think the missing wouldn't be there since I don't really KNOW her.  Which of your children would you not miss having the chance to know?  Just pick one.  After all, that's all I'm missing.  Just one.  One is lost.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Well, That's A First

About twenty minutes ago Lily came up to me and said "Amelia is locked in the bathroom!"  Sure enough, the door to our downstairs bathroom was closed and locked, and by the amount of knocking and sobbing coming from the other side it was clear that Amelia was indeed locked in.  I felt a bit frantic, because I don't know how to open our locks from the other side. Also, she was in there in the dark.  She was not in any state to find the stool and turn on the light in the dark.   I can only imagine how horrified I would have been at the age of two to have that happen to me.  

Now, our locks are not the push button kind - they are the turning kind. I've heard it is possible to unlock them by sticking a little screwdriver in there and turning it, but I've never been successful with that.  I tried calling a couple of my neighbors with children that I'm pretty sure would have faced this situation before, but I guess no one was up for facing a call from me at 7:40 am.  That left me with my tried and true strategy for any crisis - I called my parents.  It was a last resort because it is an hour earlier in Utah, and I know 6:40 in the morning is not their preferred wake-up hour, but I was desperate. 

I was worried about removing the door knob because it seems like I'd heard some stories about how removing the doorknob is a bad thing to do and can make it impossible to open the door.  Anyway, with my dad's encouragement, I did remove the door knob on my side, and then used a screwdriver to twist the lock and then got the door open by  pulling the rod tight and turning it to set Amelia free.  I tried putting the removed part of the door knob back on, and I did, but I can't get the screws to tighten more than half an inch or so.  Oh well.  At least the door knob is functional, if a little loose.  I'll leave that last part of the project for Tyler so he can feel a part of the whole adventure.  (Especially since he didn't answer his phone either.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Breakfast Anyone?

I always say that having a cupcake for breakfast is no different than having a muffin.  A cookie works also, especially since mine most often contain oatmeal..  And since I think it's really unfair to tell your kids they can't have something they have just seen you eat, there has been more than one occasion when a cupcake or a cookie was featured on their breakfast menu.  Now that I'm a mom, I do draw the line somewhere though.  Ice Cream, candy - not breakfast items.  (This was not my rule when I was in graduate school.  In those two years I had Turkey Hill Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream or a handful of Peanut M&Ms for nearly every meal.  I do not kid.  I don't know why all of my hair didn't fall out due to lack of  nutrients.  I also don't know why I didn't weigh 400 pounds, but I guess you can do that kind of thing when you are 22.)  Another item most definitely not on the list of approved breakfast items - popsicles.  I added this one after coming downstairs the other morning to find all three kids already down here by themselves, happily watching PBS kids and sampling a variety of  flavors of popsicles that were all melting into a colorful array of very sticky puddles all over the kitchen table and dripping onto the floor.  Honestly, not my favorite way to start a day.  Although I do know from prior experience that it could be worse.  Oh, yes.  It could be worse.  The "We frosted our own brownies! " morning was definitely a more intense clean-up. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Keeping It Simple?

Lately I've been wondering about some of the new trends that appear to be cropping up in the mothering world. It seems to me that people are making it REALLY complicated.  I tend to think it's because it helps women feel validated that staying home is a hard job when it requires complex strategies and training sessions to do properly. I'm not opposed to sharing tips and tricks for running a household or raising children, but really, are things like this necessary?: 

This is a photo from a presentation at a motherhood retreat - which I just read about on-line and did not attend - of how to be organized as a mom or something.  Seriously?  Folders and filing systems and charts and makes it seem like to have any hope of having a basically happy family and a basically presentable home you have to attack it and strategize about it like it was the storming of Omaha Beach or something. 

I'm just not like that.  I'm just barely starting to consider the idea of investing in the Family Wall Calender for our kitchen.  I have no day-planner.  I don't keep a calendar on the computer or my phone or anywhere else.  I don't even have a small spiral bound "memo" notebook in my purse full of lists like my mom did.  As the kids get older and their schedules get busier I'm sure I'll find use for some of those things.  But I really don't ever envision a time when I feel I am most effective as a mother only if I have a color-coded filing system housed in designated filing cabinets to manage all of my conjured up responsibilities. 

Maybe I'll think differently in the next few years as we embark on the "school years" and I'll be frantically trying to enroll myself in a bunch of Motherhood Retreats to learn to prioritize science fairs and bake sales and home decorating projects.  It's possible.  I just can't picture it now. I guess I'm just not putting enough into this mothering thing. I mean, I can remember the things on today's to-do list without my color-coded flashcards:

1) Do Laundry
2) Change water in Goldfish Bowl
3) Buy Lily new sneakers and CT a new white dress shirt
4) Change Lily's sheets for the 5th time in the last week and a half due to an unexplainable new propensity for bed-wetting
5) Get a baby shower gift together for a shower tonight
6) Do Grocery store run for milk, which Amelia has suddenly decided she loves to drink (the only of my kids to ever drink plain milk once they passed the bottle stage!)

Look at that!  I made a list!  I'm so organized. Although, I'm sure I'd be able to accomplish my tasks so much more effectively and be more loving as a mother if only I had an expandable file with tabs for everyday of the week and doubled the number of to-do list items...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fireworks on the Fourth

We took it easy on the 4th of July this year.  Since it was a Sunday we didn't have any kind of a big party.  Tyler loves to light a few fireworks though, so he bought some last week to light with the kids last night.  Lighting fireworks is illegal in the city limits of Fort Worth.  In years past we have lit off a few in the street in front of our house anyway.  This year Tyler thought he should set a better example for the kids since they know what "illegal" means (thanks to Tyler's propensity to draw the attention of police officers monitoring motorists speed, but that's another story).  He called our local fire department to find out where it was legal to light them and they gave him directions to some land northwest of our house.  We drove out there at about 8:45 last night and were met with a sight we were not expecting and had never experienced before - the "Park and Pop" fireworks field.  It was a big open field rimmed with cars. In the center fifty people or more were all lighting fireworks at once - fountains that stayed on the ground, Roman candles that went shooting up, and big, bursting fireworks high up in the sky.  It was CRAZY.  The air hung heavy with gunpowder smoke, pieces of ash were falling out of the sky, and the fireworks display was insanely massive.  Frenetic. 

I've never seen fireworks from that vantage point before - meaning I've never had a huge aerial firework explode exactly over my head and rain ash on me before.  It was something.  It truly felt like we were in a war zone.  Things were whistling through the air on your right and left and exploding all around you.  Tyler kept saying "This is crazy!  I LOVE Texas!"  It was all too much to take in really.  I was quite impressed with how well the kids did with all the noise and smoke.  

We stayed for about 30-40 minutes.  People just kept on arriving.  They would unload their cars with cooler and camping chairs and several large cardboard boxes of fireworks and make their way to the edge of the launch area.  Who knows how long this went on after we left.  By the volume of explosives these people were showing up with it could have gone on all night.  There we were with the kids in their pajamas, me in a dress, and Tyler in his white shirt and suit pants in the midst of these people.   We felt a little out of place with our measly paper bag of sparklers, smoke bombs, and tiny fountains.  We obviously were new to the scene.

I think for me it was one of those only-need-to-see-it-once kind of experiences.  I'll  take my fireworks displays in a less "interactive" setting next year, thank you very much.  Maybe we'll just park across the street from the "Park and Pop" and enjoy the madness from a distance (while listening to the requisite Neil Diamond and Lee Greenwood fireworks accompaniment on the radio, of course).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

That's Entertainment?

I just read this book:

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. 

I've read quite a few children's classics as an adult, and many of them I have loved, like Peter Pan.  This one though, was not what I expected. 

I've seen the Disney movie many times, of course.  It kind of has special meaning to me because Tyler and I watched it the night we got engaged - he picked it because I told him once that some of my friends from home liked to compare me to Mary Poppins. He sweetly said that it was an excellent comparison because we were both "practically perfect in every way".  (DOn't ask him if he still thinks so). 

Now, no matter what you may think of the present incarnation of the Disney Corporation, I hope none of you will dispute the fact that Walt Disney was a genius and did quality work with great creativity.  The movie Mary Poppins is almost immeasurably better than this book, in my opinion.  I don't know who wrote the movie, but they deserve an Oscar.  They took the very basic essence of the character and made her a thousand times better. In the book Mary Poppins is frankly not very likable and not very kind.  I am just amazed that the Disney people were able to turn this book into the quality entertainment that is the Mary Poppins film.  It isn't very long - read it and see if you agree with me. 

While I'm in a critiquing frame of mind - let's talk about this Will Smith movie: Seven Pounds.

Tyler and I watched it last weekend not knowing a thing about it.  After watching it it was clear why we hadn't heard much about this movie.  I know some of you out there (Katie) are devoted to Will Smith, but I think this is one movie in his repertoire that is better ignored.  First of all, it barely looked like Will Smith in much of this movie.  Sometimes I wondered if they were using a double for whole scenes.  Strange.  Second, the story was so poorly told.  The whole idea had potential, but it just wasn't very interesting.  They tried to keep you in suspense, but really the lack of information about the back story just made it confusing rather than intriguing. 

I guess it just wasn't my week for entertainment - a disappointing movie and book.  But, thanks to Netflix and my local library I have a good chance of improving my luck.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Date in Dakota

A few weeks ago Tyler was roaming around on the internet.  He looks up and asks me "Hey, would you like to go to a musical at Bass Hall?".  This was big news because first of all we hardly ever go out on a "date". Also, Tyler is a person who goes to musicals for three reasons:
1) We are in New York
2) I have procured the tickets for free through Free Night of Theater.
3) One of his immediate family members is in a local production.
Since this instance fell under none of those categories, I was more than curious.  What musical possibly prompted him to make this suggestion all on his own?  Well, here is the answer, friends:

 Little House on the Prairie: The Musical!  Knowing of my great love for almost all things Laura (no thanks, network TV miniseries ten years ago), especially the books, Tyler thought I might be a tad intrigued by this offering.  And he was right. ( I was equally intrigued by his willingness to go with me and actually pay full price for these tickets...a man of surprises, that Tyler.) One last intriguing aspect:  see that smaller caveat that says "with Melissa Gilbert as Ma"?  That is certainly something isn't it?  I had no idea the buck-toothed television Half-Pint could sing!...

So, Sat. June 12th saw us driving to Fort Worth's bright white art-deco inspired Bass Performance Hall.
(Photos of the Bass exterior and lobby)

Side-note: We'd never been there before and someone had told us it was fun to go there and just appreciate the building.  And it is a nice building.  They constructed in in the mid-nineties, when I was in college.  It still looks new and shiny.  The thing is, we just went to Europe last month.  Specifically to Vienna. The style there is just a tad more...opulent.  And old.

(Photos of the Vienna Opera House, Interior and exterior)

Now, back to the show, as it were.

I view going to theater productions to be in the same league as placing bets in Vegas.  You just never know if you are going to get a gem that you love or something that you are going to love to mock.  Sometimes there are clues.  For example, positive word of mouth is generally a pretty good clue that it will be good.  A musical that you have never heard of is a risk that sometimes pays off enormously, as it did when my parents and I saw "Jane Eyre" in New York and I love, love, loved it.  Even my Dad enjoyed the whole thing, which is really monumental.  So, just because I'd never heard of this musical didn't concern me too much, I knew I could love it or not, so it's obscurity didn't qualify as a clue to me.  However, I do advise you to add one more circumstance to your list of clues:  when it is a musical you've never heard of, with an actor that everyone has heard of as a headliner who has no musical background, take it as a sign that the only way the producers could get anyone in the doors to see this thing is if they use the TV Laura as bait.  That's what she was, pure and simple.  Something to lure an audience in, and then trap them there.

And in case you wondering if she missed her calling by not releasing some singles and doing a Miley Cyrus as a teen-television star, let me assure you, she did not.  She wasn't a horrible singer, but she wasn't a Singer, if you know what I mean.  Randy Jackson would certainly say that her performance was "pitchy".  She seemed a bit terrified of her singing parts, but she held it together and nothing totally embarrassing happened to her.  If I were her, I would definitely be more embarrassed about that strange accent and high pitched tone she was speaking with.  It was extremely odd.  I think she was trying to reinvent Ma, and took the fact that Caroline was born and raised in Wisconsin as a sign that she should do one of those broad "Wisconsin" accents.  It did not work for her.

Something that certainly did not work for us were the songs.  The lyrics were truly, truly awful  Let me quote directly the chorus of one of the main songs (there were basically three songs in this show that would spin out time and time again.  The program was loaded with things like " My Prairie Home...My Prairie Home Reprise...My Prairie Home Finale".)  Here are the lyrics that pretty much killed Tyler:

"It's almost like I'm flying!  But not really!  But almost!"

I am not kidding.  I did not change one word of that phrase.  They sang that.  Time and time again.  Trust me I heard it enough to be sure of the words.

So, to sum up, if the touring company of "Little House on the Prairie: The Musical" comes through your town you'll have to decide how much an evening with Melissa Gilbert in a less than stellar production is worth to you.  For me, a night out with my husband and bonding over the absurditity of it all was worth it.  Definitely worth it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Little Jaunt

In case you've been missing me, I've been out of the country. 

Any guesses as to where we were?

We went to visit Tyler's brother, Landon, who is stationed in Bamberg, Germany with the army.  Europe in May is a beautiful thing.   (As I can attest is Europe in November.  Europe in August however - a whole different thing, and only for the very desperate, or those backpacking on a college break as I was.) 

We went on a big driving trip from Frankfurt to Southern Bavaria to see beautiful castles in a truly fairytale-like setting in the Bavarian Alps.  We continued on to Salzburg, Austria, and saw a lot of places you Sound of Music Sing Along fans would have recognized (two of these are in  photos above - the rearing pegasus with the steps behind is one of the locations from the Doe-Rae-Mi montage in the film, and of course the gazebo that was a prop from the film that the studio donated to the city after filming.  Sadly, it was locked.  I don't blame them.  The liability of injuries from all those failed leaps but out of shape tourists would be too great.).  We pushed on to Vienna for a day and marveled at the vastness of the Summer Palace and it's grounds.  After a somewhat harrowing night-time drive on mountain roads through Slovakia to Poland we reached Krakow.  I felt a sense of homecoming at being in Eastern Europe again, but Tyler didn't feel quite the same joy as I did.  I can say this - either Poland is a whole lot nicer than Romania, or a lot has changed in Eastern Europe in the  last fourteen years.  I assume it's the time lapse that has made things nicer.  I'm sure when I go to Romania again I will see for myself that times have changed there too, which kind of makes me sad. Krakow was full of American styles malls and mega-supermarkets.  It makes me a bit sad to thin that Romania is the way now.  Maybe someday I'll see for myself.  (By the way, if anyone reading this is a mssion friend, I brought back a small stash of Seven Days Crossiants with me - big chocolate filled ones and a bag of little spumante filled ones.  On our Krakow day all I ate was one bag of mini Seven Days chocolate filled crossiants and a kids drink box of peach nectar.  I felt like a missionary all over again!)  So, after a memory inducing day in Krakow it was on to the Auschwitz concentration camps, which is why we put Poland on our itinerary in the first place.  The visit there was such a learning experience and something that I am glad to have done.  I thought I knew quite a bit about concentration camps and the holocaust, but there was more to know.  It was moving and really left me thinking.  My visit there and the things I felt still keep me up at night sometimes.  A professor who is holocaust expert was part of a discussion group on a PBS documentary about Auschwitz that I recently watched.  The discussion leader asked"What can we learn from the holocaust?"  and he answered "Nothing.  There is nothing to learn from it.  It has nothing to teach us.  Once you see a lesson in the holocaust, it is a small step to seeing a silver-lining, and then another step to rationalization." At first I was a bit taken aback by his response, but the more I thought about it, I could see what he was saying. 

Finally we headed back to Bamberg.  And then a day trip to Nurnberg.  And a stop in Weisbaden.  I think that about covers it. 

We were gone for nine days.  Thankfully my parents were able to fly to Texas to stay with these three mites:

Thanks to Landon for his persistence in repeatedly inviting us and for driving us around everywhere.  If you don't take advantage of having a relative living overseas, then there's really not much hope that you'll ever go, is there?  I certainly don't think we would have ever visited Bamberg, Germany if not for Landon living there, and it is a gem of city.  After all we saw on our trip, the little town of Bamberg was one of the best sights we saw. 

We're not going anywhere again for awhile - next trip isn't until August when we go to Yellowstone for my family's annual group vacation.  Already looking forward to it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Amazing Race

How about we lighten this up for awhile with some mindless TV?  Sound good?  Here we go!

So Gina got me back into watching The Amazing Race by introducing me to The Cowboys this season.  I haven't watched The Amazing Race since the Reiken (sp?) season, years ago.  I'm watching all the episodes on-line that I missed this season to catch me up to these final legs of the race coming up.  Some thoughts:

1) I kinda love Jeff and Jordan.  I actually think they are super fantastic.  I wish I could be more like Jeff.  He is so able to not take things too seriously.  He totally realizes that Jordan has her...umm....limitations, and just accepts it and encourages her without being mean.  He is just really good-natured.  She is sweetly ditzy.  Did you see the clip they showed of the Big Brother finale? She was walking through a crowd of people congratulating her and she looked like she had no idea why she was there or what all those crazies were yelling about.  Someone should tell her she won a lot of money already.  I loved the clip where she admitted she didn't know how to tell time "with clocks" and that the phrase "a quarter 'til" was a mystery to her.  She just goes through life in her oblivious way, which is kind of endearing.* 

2) I like Dan and Jordan a bit less after watching the first episodes.  I liked them quite a bit before I went back to the beginning. I guess that's my punishment for not watching from the first, in order.  If  I had, I'd be liking them more and more as time went on instead of backtracking to not-so-much like I am now.

3)  I wonder how that grandmother's other grandchildren feel after hearing her say that Shannon is the grandchild she knows the best and respects the most. Way to dispel the "you're all my favorites" myth.

4)  I haven't Wikipedia'd it or anything yet, and I'm sure this information is readily available.  But every time Phil speaks I always am plagued with the question "Where is this guy from?  What combination of  accents is that?".  I'm expecting something really incongrous, like he was raised in South Africa by a Japanese mother and a French father and had a nanny from New Jersey.  It reminds me of a woman I met in grad school who spoke with a British accent even though she grew up mostly in Arizona and then lived in the middle east for years.  My friend asked her about it once and she readily stated that she had never lived in Britain.  She adopted that accent intentionally, because she felt people would pay more attention to her could understand her more clearly if they thought she was British.  

*Note to Brent and Caite:  It is possible to be educationally challenged and endearing.  It helps if you are not mean.  And if you don't have a shifty-eyed, slow spreading evil grin, Caite.  And if you don't have a perpetual air of indignance about being underestimated, Brent.  And take it from all of us, that's anonymous. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You Can't Win

I've always like poems.  I have no talent at writing them, but almost everyone else in the world seems to be able to.  There are a lot of poems circulating around the stillbirth support groups.  I read this one the other day and just thought to myself "Yes!  That is EXACTLY it." If you want some insight into the mind and heart of me right now, here it is:

You Can't Win With Me
You can't win with me
If you say to me " How are you doing?" with such sympathy and meaning in your voice.
I reply "I'm fine" and brush you off,
because to talk about my loss with you today is just too painful.

If you see me and don't mention the loss that is consuming my thoughts,
I think you don't care enough, or are too scared to mention it
for fear that you might upset me.
You can't win with me.
If you say "I'm sorry your baby died," it is hard for me to reply to that.
What do you expect me to say?
I want to say "I'm sorry too!" or "It's awful"
I want to scream "its not fair"
But I won't because I don't want to upset myself today, not in front of you.
So I reply "Thank-you".
That thanks means so much more than that.
It means thanks for caring,
thanks for trying to help,
thanks for realising that I'm still in pain.
If you don't know what to say to me that's okay because I don't know
what to say to you either.
If you see me smile or laugh don't assume I must have
forgotten my baby for the moment,
I haven't, I can't, I never will.
Tell me that I look good today.
I will know what you mean
I'm getting good at picking up unspoken cues from you.
If you see me and think I look upset or sad, you are probably right.
Today might be an anniversary day for me,
or some event might have triggered
a wave of grief in me.
If you don't say anything I'll think you don't care about me,
but if you do say something, I might act like I don't want to talk about it..
You could try asking if I want to talk, but don't be surprised if I say no.
You can't win with me.
Don't give up on me, please don't give up.
I need your attempts however feeble, however trite you might feel they are
I need your thoughts.
I need your prayers.
I need your love.
I need your persistence.
I need all that but most of all I need to be treated normally,
like it used to be before all this happened.

But I know its impossible.
That carefree, naive person is gone forever,
and I am mourning that loss too.
So you can't win with me.
Written by Jane Warland 1996

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Be Mine

My Baby,

I don't know anything about you really. 

I don't love you for your personality, or your looks, or your attitude.  I don't know any of those things about you.  I love you because you were mine.

Someday I hope to know all of those other things about you.  To know if you are incredibly observant like C.T., packed with spunk like Lily, or caring and affectionate like Amelia.  To see again that sweet little body - the face with the nose that reminds me of your sister Lily and the toes that looked like mine. 

But for now, you were mine and I was yours and that is enough to make me love you for the rest of my life (and longer).

-Your Mom

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This Girl

Back in the winter of 2006 I had a very clear message put into my mind to have another baby. Right away. And so we did. And we got this girl:

Amelia Rose. (This is a picture from about a year ago.)

She has been a joy to me in a unique way.

When she was still a baby I started following some blogs written by women who had recently had small children die. I was drawn to these blogs...I cried reading them and would think about what these women were going through and wonder why I was so compelled to check in on them. I started to get quite worried that the reason I felt drawn to these stories is because something was going to happen to my Amelia - that I would lose her. It was a very real fear and I felt anxiety about it. Once she reached about 18 months those fears receded and I no longer felt that way.

Now it turns out that the fears I had about losing my girl were real, but misplaced. I was worrying about the wrong girl.

I have often reflected lately on that feeling I had to "have another baby, right now" and wondered if I got that prompting so that Amelia would be here with me now as I go through my struggle. Since she was born the song I sing most to her is "You Are My Sunshine". That is very true of her. She lightens me when all my skies are gray. She brings me immense comfort. She is a joy.

Her birthday is the same day I had her little sister. Those two girls will always be linked in my mind. There is much that they share. I can't help but think how lucky the each would have been to be able to grow up with one another as sisters.

People talk about finding comfort in the possibility of raising children who have died in the millennium, but honestly, I don't feel that comforted. Even if it turns out to be true for me, my children will not be able to grow up together. C.T. and Lily and Amelia wont be able to have memories of her as children together.

Lily is almost exactly the same age as I was when my little sister was born. I remember so much about when Sally was a baby. I remember "helping" to take care of a baby. Lily would have been so great at that. So great. She would have loved it so much. This would have the been the only sibling she remembered as a baby. Same for C.T. for that matter. This wold have been the one they actually remembered. I am sad about the opportunity they have lost. The opportunity we all have lost.

I think Amelia has brought great comfort to C.T. and Lily also.  She is kind of our family mascot right now.  I don't know all the reasons why I felt I should "have a baby, right now", but I'm so glad I did.  I know Amelia is meant to be with us, and we are all so, so grateful.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I like to check in on a couple of blogs of mothers who have lost children. One of them is "A Daily Scoop" by Stephanie Waite in Las Vegas. She wrote a post recently that included this statement:

"There is a sense of failure that comes from losing a child. It devastates your self image as a mother. No matter how they died, there is a sense that you failed to keep them alive. That is built into your DNA - Keep them alive. To fail at that, even if it was out of your hands or you know it was God's will for them to go at this time, is devastating."

So true.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Foothills and Valleys

I know the usual phrase is "Peaks and Valleys", but I can't say that I've made it to anything close to a peak yet. I have managed the foothills though. Sometimes I don't stay there for long before I find myself on the downward slope to the valley again. Last week I would say I was at one of the lowest places in that valley, but this week I am striding up to the foothills again. That's how it goes, up and down, up and down. So, sometimes I may write about the view from the valley floor, and sometimes the outlook may be more broad. I hope you don't mind when I describe the scene down low - I don't want to keep it completely to myself, but I also don't want you to think that I have lost hope of ever climbing out. I don't know what this journey is going to look like for me. I just take it how it comes. I'm not going to pressure myself to feel happy, or say that I feel at peace with my life. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Tight Space

I feel the way I think people with claustrophobia must feel. My chest tightens. Breathing takes thought. The world around me looks surreal. I concentrate to keep myself from breaking into tiny shards of myself. I feel this way not when faced with an elevator or a room with no windows, but when I open eyes in the morning and am faced with life. Nearly every second of the day I feel this way. And I think, "This is crazy. Surely this can't be. Surely none of this real." And many times a day I realize that, yes, it is real. This is it. This is life now. My life is a tight space. I can't breathe in it. And sometimes, I don't even want to.

So I live each day, telling myself that really breathing is not optional and I need to just do it. So I do. And lots of people think I am fine. And I am fine. Fine. People can live like this. I can live like this. I have to.

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