Friday, May 30, 2008

Seriously Fabulous & the City


I'll admit, it could be that I'm ovulating, but that might be one of the best movies I've ever seen in my life. If you're not a Sex & the City fan, it'll just be a movie. But if your four closest friends from 1998-2004 were named Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, you will love this movie. It is 100% satisfying. 100%, people.

My only complaint? Way too many shoulder pads, primary colors, and huge plastic earrings. The costume designer for that movie is single-handedly trying to bring back the 80's, and I'm not having it.

Houston, We Have Air

It's finished! It's working! I have A/C! The installers had to take yesterday off because of a double scheduling, but they came back today to finish up. Before they left, they turned on the heat to make sure it worked. It worked great. After only a few seconds, toasty air was blowing quietly through the room. We also tested all three units' a/c capacity by cranking them simultaneously. Within 5 minutes, the kitchen unit had cooled the whole main floor amazingly well. I will even be able to bake this summer! The upstairs units were purring a quiet hum of frosty air that cooled the whole upstairs and about froze Daphne's room (the door was shut). They're very quiet and very efficient. I was so happy I almost cried. And I would have hugged the installers if I wasn't worried about seeming like a complete psycho. But it honestly is just about the happiest thing that has happened to me in my whole life. BRING ON JULY!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Recovery

Well, my laptop survived surgery. Now it is in the ICU recuperating. Everything has to be slowly reinstalled. Most importantly, my internet driver. Without that, it's like hauling around a 5 lb calculator.

I need to reinstall:

Microsoft Office,
Photoshop Elements,
my printer driver
my camera software
Instant Messenger
Photmax camera uplaoder software
All the drivers and things needed to run everything I view on the web
A billion other things that I will only realize one at a time when I suddenly don't have them anymore.

It's going to be a long recovery. But I have a great doctor (Big Daddy did most of the work. He has handed over the laptop to the tech nerds at work for the fine tuning though). I even got some more RAM put in. Hopefully this will help. If not, it's a-laptop-shopping I will go.

In the meantime, I'm on my 94 year old desktop computer. It's not really 94 years old, but it is 5 years old. And in computer years, that equals 94. It's capable, but not fast. And I don't have any of my photos or other fun gadgets on here. So please bear with me a few days more. When it doesn't take me 6 hours to load each web page, I will catch up on all your blogs and leave glowing comments for all of you. Provided you leave ample sympathy for my computer while it is sick, of course. In fact, it would be nice if meals were brought in.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hold Tight

My computer is on its last leg. At least, it is acting that way. So we're going to perform computer surgery on it tonight in the form of a complete hard drive erase. That means I'll have to reinstall everything over the next few days. So if I'm scarce here, on your blogs, emails, etc. please forgive me. And maybe even call me if I'm missing something super important. Like a good leg waxing. Or a nice rant.

Sex in the City!

I joined the Sex in the City craze late. After the show had already ended, in fact. I saw a few of the last episodes on HBO, but I didn't know who these people were or what was going on, so I didn't really get into it. Then they started showing up from the beginning of the series on TBS (edited!) so I watched the whole entire series. I loved it! I have to say, I've never liked Mr.Big. The actor, mostly. But also the character. And Miranda can really get on my nerves. But I really did love the show. Especially edited so the swearing and nudity were gone. Hard to believe there was anything left to watch, huh? So I'm VERY excited about the premier of the movie Sex In the City tomorrow. Who is going???

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Happiest Day of My Life

You might think the happiest day of my life was my wedding day. Or the days that my children were born. But you would be wrong. Oh sure, those are close runners up, but the happiest day of my life is today. Because today I am getting AIR CONDITIONING!!!

For those of you who don't know, I live in an old house. Really old. Built in 1895. It pre-dates vents. It also predates insulation and common sense. When radiators were installed for heat, they were only installed in some of the rooms. The kitchen doesn't have a radiator, the bonus room doesn't (it is our media room/office/playroom/guest room), and Daphne's room doesn't. That means in the winter we have to control the heat in those rooms with space heaters. On, off, on, off, don't forget about them and burn the house down, don't let the kids char their fingers on them. Not that fun. And the lack of insulation on the second floor means it is 20 degrees colder up there in the winter, and 20-30 degrees hotter up there in the summer. I am not exaggerating. And since we don't have vents, we also don't have A/C. This house had an ancient swamp cooler in the living room window when we moved in. We added a window air conditioner to our bedroom. That was nice except for the fact that it's about as quiet as a semi driving through a tunnel. So all summer long we would rotate in 1 hour shifts between lying awake listening to the air conditioner until we couldn't stand it (but were cool) and lying awake sweating to death until we couldn't stand it and got up to turn on the A/C again. Then 2 years ago we upgraded to a roof-top swamp cooler that blew air through the upstairs hallway ceiling. That helped somewhat. And some of the air actually made it down the stairs and into the kitchen. But I still avoided baking anything since it would cause shimmering heat mirages to appear on the counter tops. You can see that the heating/cooling situation in our house has been less than ideal. And short of spending $10,000 to rip up our entire house to have vents installed, it didn't appear that there was much we could do.

Enter Mr.Slim. My husband discovered an externally vented heating/cooling system made by mitsubishi called Mr.Slim. Outside is the heating/cooling unit. Much like your standard air conditioning units outide, but way...slimmer. It runs pipes up the outsides of your house (very attractive, I'm sure, but worth it) and into your house. Then each room you're applying it to gets a wall unit to control the temperature in that room. Significantly less expensive than ripping up our house for vents. So today they are putting it in. One in the kitchen, one in the playroom, one in Daphne's room. I am going to be cool in this house for the first summer ever! And this winter, I will be warm.

Even the box that it came in has proved useful for child care purposes.
See? Happiest day of my entire life.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cara Had a Little Lamb

His fleece was white as...dirty snow.

My friend Cara somehow borrowed two lambs the other day. I'm still not entirely clear on the how and why. What I do know is that I brought my kids over to see them and they were so cute and adorable. My kids were fascinated. Even Beck. Daphne had a hard time with the slow and quiet approach, so she mostly ended up terrifying them instead of getting to pet them. But when Cara pulled out the bottle of milk for them, they came running over. Daphne got to help feed them and Beck finally got close enough to touch them. Aside from the fact that it was late May and butt-freezing cold out, it was super fun. Good thing we didn't know then about the ticks. This story might have ended with me running away from the sheep instead of them running away from Daphne.

Thanks, Cara!


In Memorium

Since it is Memorial Day, I thought I'd do a post on my dad.

James Benjamin Freeman Davis was born in Detroit on Halloween, 1941. He was the second of two children to James Hutt and Grace Emogene Davis, also deceased. His older sister Tamar now resides in Florida.

My earliest memories of my dad were of him working. Dark green coveralls. Hands black with grease from the car engine. Sliding under the car on one of those thingees you lay on to slide under a car. (As you can see, I inherited my dad's attention to detail and love of mechanics.) I also remember him working outside, rototilling the garden, cleaning out the storm drains in the church parking lot next to our house so that they would drain properly. No, it wasn't his job. He just saw that it needed to be done, and did it.

My dad was always a jokester. He had a pun for every occasion. We had an on-going game of tag, the two of us, that lasted from about 1986-1990. One of us would suddenly tag the other one and we would race all over the house trying to tag each other back. We'd wear out eventually, and the game would pick up spontaneously a few hours later. He never got tired of telling us funny stories or tickling us to make us laugh (or throwing june bugs on our fuzzy pajamas to make himself laugh.)

Another thing my dad was really good at was making everyone feel special. Although a rather quiet person, he always went out of his way to give people compliments or ask them about themselves. His favorite was to ask people about their last names. Where did they come from? People always opened up to my dad because he was a great listener, and they could tell he was sincere in wanting to know their family history.

My dad was awesome at making about 3 things to eat: Macaroni and cheese with extra cheddar added in, chicken and rice soup, and waffles with blueberry syrup. He made fresh squeezed lime-ade too. He liked his hamburgers with mustard and onions only. His favorite snack was clubhouse crackers with cream cheese and grape jelly. He taught me to eat vanilla ice cream with pure maple syrup on it. I still love all those things. And Dad never cheaped out on us when we went out to eat. We could have whatever we wanted--fries on the side, a drink, even dessert. It was my dad who took me out for my first seafood dinner and introduced me to shrimp and orange roughy, two of my favorite foods to this day.

My dad could fix anything--leaky gutters, broken toasters, wobbly chairs, failing clothes dryers, even cars. People in the ward brought my dad their broken cars because he was smart enough and willing enough to help anyone out with car trouble. This backfired on me when I failed to put oil in my first car and burnt the engine out. Dad made me take the engine out myself--labeling each hose and wire with masking tape as I went so I could connect them again later--and doing all the work to repair the rods and bearings, complete with explanations of how each part worked. I wish I could remember any of that stuff.

I could go on and on about my dad. He was my best friend. He was a wonderful man--kind, generous, smart, funny, capable. Sure, he had faults. Like that two part mustache he wore during the 1970's. Or that time he got mad that my sister and I didn't clean out our drawers like we were supposed to so he dumped them on our beds at 12:30am and made us get up and organize them. And there was that time he poured a glass of cold water on my head to make me get up for school when I ignored him too many times. But even those things make me laugh now. He was just being a good dad. In his own Jim-like way.

In 1993, my dad had urgent surgery on his heart. He almost died on the operating table, but made it through to the ICU. There, his heart stopped again, and they were not able to resuscitate him. I was 3000 miles away at college and didn't get to say goodbye. I miss my dad to this day. But I am left with so many happy memories of who he was and the things he did for me and for others. Dad, I dedicate my blog today to you. I love you.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pasta Carbonera

I love it when dinner takes 15 minutes to make, I had everything on hand, and it turns out super delicious. It's rare. But it happens. So in case anyone else is ever in the position of it being 5:30pm and you suddenly realize you didn't plan ahead and buy groceries and you have no idea what to fix, here is one of my favorite, super easy recipes (a la my mother, slightly modified):

Pasta Carbonera -- Serves 6
(This is the poor man's version, not like the high fat, cream versions from Italian restaurants.)

3 cups uncooked shell pasta (or other pasta on hand)
8 slices uncooked bacon, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated fresh parmeasan cheese
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup frozen peas (Optional. You can serve them on the side if you prefer).

(See? You probably have all that on hand on any given day, right?)

Cook pasta according to package directions (add 1 tsp salt to boiling water for extra flavor). While water is boiling, begin browning onions and bacon in a large deep frying pan on medium high heat. When onions are transparent and both are beginning to be brown and crisp, remove them from pan, drain, and set aside. In a blender, mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in the cheese by hand. When pasta is cooked and drained, add egg mixture, pasta, and bacon mixture (and optional peas) to the bacon pan. On medium heat, turn the pasta continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the eggs begin to solidify into little clumps (4-5 minutes usually). Remove from heat and allow the carbonera to sit for a minute or two more. Enjoy!

My husband and my kids all love this dish. It's best fresh, but you can also reheat it if you add a little bit of water to it before you microwave it. If you end up making this recipe, let me know how you liked it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hot Hot Hot

The concert was awesome. Yes, the accoustics at the E-Center suck. Yes, Robert Smith had lost his voice (and is surprisingly fat now). Yes, we did have 4 drunk lesbians rubbing on each other right in front of us the whole time. But the concert still rocked! It was more of a greatest hits tour from what I could tell (there were only 2 or 3 songs I didn't know) and that's just the way I like it. They played some of my all-time favorites like Killing an Arab, Letter to Elise, 10:15 On a Saturday Night, Edge of the Deep Green Sea, Lullaby....oh, I could go on and on because they're almost all great songs! And the people-watching wasn't bad either.

No, I didn't wear all black. In fact, I'm not sure I had anything on at all that was black. I think when you get to my age and you go to a concert like this, you have two options: You can be a poser and put on clothes you really don't wear anymore and try to pretend that you've stayed true to your new wave roots all this time. And then everyone else looks at you and thinks, that lady is too old for this. Why does't she grow up and get a life? (I know this because we saw quite a few of those there and that's what we thought.) Or you can dress how you normally dress and know in your heart that you are a dyed in the wool fan, no matter how suburbanized you look on the outside. I chose the latter. And I felt good about it.

I'm still glowing in the euphoria of live Cure music the next day I think I'm going to have to swap out the CD changer in my car to all Cure CD's for a while. I need to brush up. I realized last night that I can't remember anymore which songs are from which albums. That's practically an act of treachery to a die-hard fan. Sorry Robert. I'll repent.

Possibly the best part of the evening was using Tiburon's "handy-crippled" parking pass to park right up front at the concert. I'm not saying I don't like The Cure, or hanging out with awesome friends, but not much in this world beats parking up front at a huge concert. Ya baby.

Finally, I have to confess that I happily spent the $45 for a new Cure t-shirt. I have one from the Wish tour that is roughly the size of a refrigerator. I'm not exaggerating. It was the early 90's and baggy clothes were still really in. The Cure took their fashion sense to the extreme, even with their tour t-shirts. By the next tour, mid 90's, baby T's were in, so I got a microscopic little t-shirt that I wore all the time. It looks about the right size to fit Daphne now, so I can no longer wear it. My new t-shirt addition is just right. You should start seeing it show up first as pajamas, then work out clothes, then casual wear. And gradually I'll phase it in as office attire and church clothes if I can find a good black skirt to go with it and some 14 hole Doc Martens. Who knows, maybe I WILL reclaim my new wave roots afterall.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Cure for What Ails Me

You are all going to be SO jealous when I tell you where I'm going tonight...


See, aren't you just hysterical with envy right now? I knew you would be. Who can resist the charms of Robert Smith or his vocals (which Big Daddy mistakenly refers to as "a cat dying", as in "I hope this is not that song where it sounds like the cat is dying." He's actually referring to The Smiths when he says that, but his knowledge of 80's British New Wave etc. could use some polishing up). It's been quite a few years since I saw them in concert. There aren't many concerts I would even go to anymore--concerts just aren't my thing. But the Cure is one of the ones I would go to w/o a moment's hesitation (unless I'm so far back that Robert Smith would appear smaller to the eye than holding the CD case in front of my face.) Thank you Christie and Tiburon for letting me use that unwanted ticket!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Holy Stinky, Batman!

I can live with cigarette smoke. I don't like to, but I can. It smells horrible, it kills you. Whatever. But what I can't stand is someone who reeks to high heaven of old, stale cigarette smoke. Especially in a professional setting. If you must smoke, can't you smoke outdoors where the smell can dissipate? Must you smoke in your closet so that all your clothes smell like they are wrapped in 10-year old tobacco?

Case in point: Yesterday the cable guy came to my house to fix my satellite box. He brought a trainee with him. Not to be judgemental, but when they first knocked on the door, I thought I was about to be robbed by a couple of Hell's Angels (they were privately contracted, evidently). I asked for ID to make sure they really were my cable guys, and then proceeded to lurch violently backward as they approached with their badges. These guys smelled like they had been locked in a 5x5 room with cigarettes burning like incense. No, it was worse than that. Because it wasn't as fresh as that. It was like they had been bathing in water drained from underwear that had been steeped in ash trays. And then rubbing the ash from the bottom of the ash trays all over their tongues. I seriously almost passed out. It was such an offensive smell that I actually did jump backward from the smell. Why do we allow this in our society? What is it about smoking that makes everyone feel like they have to allow it? If someone smelled that strongly of B.O. around us, would we just act like it was no big deal? Or if they approached us smelling that bad of poop would we just be like, Oh, that's their choice. No. We'd freaking barbecue that guy, or harass him, or let him know right to his face, Hey Dude. You stink! But for some reason, because it's his CHOICE to smoke, we just shrug and think, Oh well.

It turns out that the Hells Angels fixing my satellite box were super nice guys. The kind of guys you'd like for neighbors. Polite and considerate and professional. EXCEPT for the fact that it hurt my nose to get within 3 feet of them. Where do we draw the line? Where do one person's rights trample on another person's rights? It's not the smokERS I am complaining about. Or the cigarettes, or even the smoke itself. It's the stench. I don't want to smell rotting fish, or barf, or crap, or body odor, or moldy cheese, or any other noxious smell. So why would I want to smell nasty stale smoke on someone? Is bathing regularly out of the question? Is washing their clothes too much trouble? I'm not sure what the issues is. I know lots of people manage to smoke without it taking on the reek I'm referring to. IS IT JUST TOO MUCH TO ASK TO NOT SMELL BAD?

Calling all Tech Nerds

Anyone out there who is, or who is married to, a tech nerd, PLEASE leave a comment and help me!

My computer runs so slowly lately, mostly when I'm online. But I don't think it's my internet because my husband's laptop works fine at home. It must be my computer. I had my hard drive completely cleaned off and all my programs reinstalled only maybe 6 months ago, but I'm sure there is some sort of maintanance you're supposed to do on your computer to keep it running well, like the tech equivalent of getting your oil changed. I just have no idea what it is. Delete cookies? Temporary internet files? Check for viruses using ____ program? I have no idea. I just get on and start typing. Anyone got any tips for me?

Our Website

Some of you may know that I started a website for my family ( Before I was blogging, I was just doing occasional journal entries here and keeping up with a photo/video section. Now that I blog, the photo/video section has gotten terribly neglected. But I'm starting to try to catch up. So if you haven't checked out the pictures of my fam lately (and you actually want to), here is the link to the pages I just finished (Dec, Jan and Feb. Hey, I said I was behind!). I'm also behind on the videos so none are posted from this year yet. I'm a slacker. But I'm working on it! I'll post more links when I finish March and April and get some videos up.

photo page

Get Out of Debt

I stole this from Koreena's blog. It's sad, but so true! Like everything else on SNL...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Which Jane Austin Character are You?

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Which thrills me to death because I have always identified so strongly with Marianne Dashwood. I was pretty sure after taking the quiz that I would end up getting someone totally not like me like Elinor Dashwood or Fanny Price because my answers felt all over the place. But I guess that test really could see into my soul. I love it when an 11 question quiz can tell me what I'm all about.

(By the way, Willoughby in that movie? Hubba hubba. If you haven't seen Sense and Sensibility, stop what you're doing right this very second and go rent it. It's in my top 3 movies of all time.)

You Heard it Through the Grapevine

I'm not a fan of raisins. There are very few recipes in which raisins are not a completely unwelcome ingredient. They absolutely ruin cookies; that's why God invented chocolate chips! They are a major disappointment when biting into a hot cinnamon roll. And one should never ever put them in Cheesecake (which they do in European versions). It is a nasty shock to find a slimy raisin in your delicious, creamy cheesecake. Even in Raisin Bran, the raisins tend to be too hard and chewy and quickly make you worry about losing a filling. I find that my bowl of Raisin Bran tends to end with a bowl of milk and pile of rock-hard rainsins. I'm sorry, but they just remind me of dried out rabbit droppings! So on the whole, I avoid foods with raisins. But some of my favorite cereals traditionaly have raisins. Like granola. So it was with delight that I recently found a new cereal that uses crasins instead of raisins. It's called Post Trail Mix Crunch, Cranberry Vanilla version. YUM! The cereal is like a cross between granola and Grape Nuts (but not as hard). The craisins are soft and sweet and plump. They are like raisins should be in cereal. There is just a hint of vanilla. And slivered almonds top it off. It's delicious! It's not as high in fat as granola either. So if you're an anti-raisinite like me, give it a try. It also comes in "Maple Nut & Brown Sugar" (which is next to try on my list) and "Yucky Raisin & Rabbit Dropping" in case you're a glutton for punishment.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm an ESFJ

Do you like personality tests? This is the mother of them all: The Myers-Briggs personality test. It is the best one out there, I think. When I read the personality profile(s) it gave me, I almost starte crying. It was like someone was looking inside my brain and describing MY life. Wanna see your personality type?

First take the test: (It is 72 questions and takes about 5 minutes. I just am warning you so you don't freak. This isn't like the "What Spice Are You" test with 5 questions. This is an actual personality test best on SCIENCE.)

Then read your personality profile. There are several good websites to get your profile. They can be interpreted differently by different experts. Here are a couple I really like...

THIS ONE click on "type profiles" in the left margin, then click on your personality type at the top.



You might feel that one interpretation really speaks to you more than the others do.

As for me, I am a "helper" as an ESFJ. Here is one basic overview of my personality profile. Those of you who know me, do you think this fits me?

ESFJs, the most sociable of all types, are energized by interactions with people, tending to idealize whatever or whoever they admire. Harmony is a key to this type, which is represented in about 13 percent of the general population.

ESFJs are the great nurturers of established institutions such as the home, the school, the church, and civic groups. Wherever they go, they promote harmony and harmonious relationships. They are outstanding hosts or hostesses, able to call people by name, usually after one introduction. At a social gathering they can be observed attending to the needs of others, trying to insure that all are comfortable and involved.

Social ties matter to the ESFJs, and their conversations often drift to nostalgic recounting of past memories. Traditions are developed, supported, and carefully observed by the ESFJ.

ESFJs are hurt by indifference and need to be appreciated both for themselves and for the abundance, typically in the form of services, they give to others. They are conscious of appearances and take the opinions of others regarding social standards very seriously. Values in an ESFJ may take the form of shoulds and should nots and may be freely expressed. Conscientious and orderly, ESFJs may become restless when isolated from people.

The Kaden Phenomenon

My sister's name is Jennie. Not Jennifer, just Jennie. But still, she was always one of 2 or 3 Jennies per class, and dozens per school. She can never assume when she hears her name called in public that it is for her. There are Jennies everywhere. And yet our mother swears she had never heard the name Jennie before she chose it. But the facts tell a different story. The year before my sister was born, Jennifer was the #1 name in America. The year before that, #3. The year before that, #4. Even as far back as 1956, Jennifer was always in the top 100 names in the nation. So my mom should have known better.

This is what I like to call The Kaden Phenomenon. (Or the Caden Phenomenon. Or the Kaiden Phenomenon. Or the Cayden Phenomenon. But that's another issue altogether.) I call it that because every single mom I know who named her son Kaden also swears that she never heard the name before she picked it. And yet there are Kaden/Caiden/Kayden/Caden's everywhere. How does that happen? I'm not sure. I think somehow names filter into our subconsious without us realizing we've heard them. And then, if we don't personally know anyone of that name, they seem fresh and new. Also, a lot of new moms don't have older children who mingle with other older children. So it's not until that child enters school that the mother realizes just how many other mothers were on the same wavelength as her. And for lots of moms, it's no big deal if their child has the same name as other kids in school. Choosing a popular name lends a sense of security: that child will never have to worry about someone saying, "Your name is WHAT?" Perhaps those popular names even ensure that the child herself will be popular? I don't think I ever knew a nerdy Heather or Jennifer. But for those moms who don't want to fall victim to the Kaden Phenomenon, I present to you your solution:

Every year the Social Security Administration collects and tallies all the names of babies born that year. They release it about mid-way through the following year, and their website allows parents an easy way to look at names and see just how popular, or not, the name they are considering is.

The website allows you to look up a certain name and see how it has been doing over the last 120+ years. Just type in the name, how many years back you want to go, and it will show you the rank of that name (and the number of kids with that name) during that period of time. You may be interested to know, for example, that the girl's name Addison was in #800 as recently as 1994, but is #11 this year. It's hugely popular, although you may not personally know a single Addison. Or that the name Felix has never gotten higher or lower than the mid 300's for the last 20 years. It's a very steady border-line popular name.

You can also look at the top 1000 names and see what interesting names people are giving their kids these days. Like Genesis (#139 girl), Khalil (#427 boys), Paisley (#610 girls), Zayne (#974 boys) or Rylan (#236 boys). Maybe you'll get some cute ideas. Or maybe you'll just get a good laugh.

You can even look up the names by state to find out how a name has performed in your state. Because maybe that name is super popular in New Jersey, but not at all popular where you live. (That feature is under construction until May 19th). Also, if you live or have lived in Utah, please treat yourself to reading the "The 'Best Of' list The Cream of the Crop - Favorite Utah Names" section at this website. You'll be so glad you did.

My favorite is to find out when a name I like, say Pearl, was most popualar and then to see what else was popular that year. Pearl, though bottom of the top 1000 names in the last few decades, was in the top 100 from 1888-1926. So I pick one of the years it was most popular (like 1898) and find some real gems from that year like Helen, Clara, and Hazel (and a few gross ones like Edna and Bertha and Ethel).

Anyway, whether you are the type of mom that wants to pick something really unusual, or classic, or trendy, or made-up....this website can help you verify whether your name meets the criteria you think it does. You'll never wonder again how your daughter with the totally original name you made up yourself, Nevaeh, ended up sharing her name with 6,689 other Nevaehs that year. The SS Baby Name Website would have shown you that this name was #31 nationwide (really!). And you can rest assured that your baby Michael will never have to worry about his name being thought of as we think of "Herbert" today. (Michael has been in the top 60 names for the last 100 years, #1 or #2 for the last 55 years). And if you are in the market for a really really different name, I'm sure little Essence (#930) and baby Treyvon (#986) won't mind their names being bumped up one spot next year.

*I tried to be as P.C. and non-offensive in this post as possible. Hopefully no one took it personally. Especially those named Kaden and Jennifer.*

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nectar of the Gods

In order of preference:

1) Fountain, lots of ice
2) Mini plastic bottles
3) Glass bottles
4) Cans
5) I.V. directly into my veins

Every single one of them is like sweet ambrosia, mana from heaven, pure perfection.

What's your Nectar of the Gods?

Speaking of Getting Hitched...



+THIS (Yes, that's a drive-through wedding chapel)

= THIS: My new sister in law Sarah. Welcome to the fam.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I got hitched!!!

I'm sure you were all excited by that blog title until you realized, Wait, she's already hitched. Sorry to disappoint you. I was referring to my car. Back when I had my Passat, love of my life, and then I had a second baby, we decided it would be good to get rid of Kelly's gas guzzling SUV and get him a commuter car (the Mini Cooper arrived soon after). And then we realized we needed a more versatile car for the kids, the snow, pulling the trailer full of crap to the dump, and transporting more than 2 1/2 people at once (which is how many fit in the Mini at one time). So I got my Tribecca. The problem: we forgot to get a trailer hitch with the package we bought. So for the last year, crap has accumulated in our yard because we couldn't haul it to the dump. Tree limbs, 17 (I kid you not) extra large bags of leaves from the fall, broken yard tools (Kelly hits them kind of hard in the spring), and most recently some of our neighbor's bags of leaves showed up in our yard. Strong wind we've been having lately. Anyway, it's time for some spring cleaning. So we found a place in Murray to put on a trailer hitch. I drove up today with my laptop in hand, thinking I'd just catch up on my blog reading while I waited. No...this place was a hole in the wall. They didn't even have a cash register, let alone wireless internet and a nice comfy waiting room. But they did have this charming picture on the wall with a caption that read:
"Truck $30,000. Boat $40,000. $40 trailer hitch with proper installation....priceless."

I thought that was a good trade for no internet. But since I would have been picking my cuticles into oblivion out of boredom if I had waited there, I high tailed it to the mall, 8 blocks away (which seems like a REALLY long way when you're walking and carrying a laptop) in hopes of finding a good wifi spot there. Instead, I found a crappy wifi spot that went in and out. Fed up, I headed to The Cheesecake Factory to console myself with some avocado egg rolls and a pina colada. It helped. Three and a freaking half hours later, they finally finished the trailer hitch, and I walked, with my tail much less high, back to get my car. So, now I'm hitched. And the yard will soon get cleaned within an inch of its life. (Mindi, wanna come help?) I never thought I'd be so excited to take a trip to the dump!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bang! Bang! You're dead.

So I got my hair cut last week. And I decided to get a little brave and have some bangs cut into it. Not full-on bangs. Just some shorter pieces around my face. Shorter than I've ever gone. The last time I had any bangs was in 8th grade. In 9th grade I started growing them out. What a nightmare! Have you ever tried to grow out your bangs? Bangs that are being grown out are the equivalent of an 11 year old kid--still small enough to be considered a child, but with huge teeth and huge feet that cross the line into adulthood. They just look awkward. Well, there is about a year where your bangs are just this long chunk of random hair next to your forehead--too short to fit in with rest of your hair, but too long to be bangs anymore. They're horrible. Then the next year, if you keep trimming the rest of your hair, they get close to the front of your hair while you were sleeping as a practical joke. Eventually, your bangs blend in beautifully. But it takes serious patience during the ugly phases where you just want to cut them off and be done with it. So you can see why I had misgivings about cutting in any bangs, even just a few. And the verdict? They're driving me crazy! Not because they look bad. I actually like the way they look. But because I haven't had any hair near my eyes for 15 years. I can't tuck them behind my ear. I can't even clip them back without looking like my kids did my hair. They just hang out in front of my right eye all the time. ARGGGGG!!!! It's maddening when I bend over to pick something up and it is blocked from my view by a segment of my bangs. Or when I'm trying to clean something and I bend down and suddenly my vision is obscured by the bangs. And don't even get me started on how I just about lose my mind when I'm trying to work out at the gym and that one piece keeps tickling my eyebrow. Yeah, cute or not, I think I might have to let my bangs grow out again. And won't that be a joy.

(This is the actual hairdo. But it feels more like the picture above.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My wonderful Mother's Day

My Mother's Day started off the best way it could--by Kelly getting up with the baby and sending me to the guest bed so I could sleep in. Killer! Then, when I got up and came downstairs, he made me breakfast--those yummy cinnamon rolls that come in the tube and an omlette the way I like it--mushrooms, ham, and cheese. Deeee-licious. It's good to marry a man who can cook when he needs to.

I already got one of my presents last night (he couldn't wait)--a Dancing With the Stars game for the Wii. I think I could get addicted. It is similar to Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero in the way you have to do certain things on the beat, as they go by on the screen. Only instead of playing a guitar or dancing on a mat, you use the remote and nunchuck to do a sort of handjive of various motions to the beat. What does that have to do with Dancing With the Stars? Not much. They show animated versions of the celebrity couples dancing in the background. And each round is named for one of the dances (cha cha, jive, waltz) and plays that genre of music. But until they have Wii remotes that strap to your feet, the game is limited to hand movements. The moves you get to learn are especially helpful for ballroom dance: the twist, the mashed potato, and the wave, for example.

My other present was a brand new driver (as in golf, for those of you who were thinking he bought me a Pakistani man to drive me around). It is replacing the one I've used for about 7 years. Drivers have changed a lot since then. My old driver head was the size of a hockey puck. Nowadays the heads of drivers are roughly the size of a washing machine. All the better to not completely miss the ball with! I can't wait to try it out.

"The kids" also made me a homemade mother's day card. It was so sweet. I'll always cherish it.

Kelly's family came over for dinner this evening. That would usually mean a lot of work for me, making most of the meal. But this year the guys cooked. Kelly's brother made grilled pork chops and garlic mashed potatoes, broiled asparagus, and trifle. It was delicious, all the more because I didn't have to cook it. The kids always have a great time when Grandma and Grandpa and the cousins and dogs come over. Watching them run around screaming with joy like crazy lunatics was the best Mother's Day present of all.

And then Kelly put both of the kids to bed himself. Bitchin'.

Seriously though, I'm so grateful to be a mother. It was a long time coming...having to work hard and be very patient before my first child came made me really treasure the gift of being a mother. My children mean everything to me. I'm so happy that I have this wonderful opportunity and blessing in my life.

My Whole Family

My Mom

Written by my sister...

"If you can't behave yourself then I'm not going to bring you to Costco again!"
I said these words, which wouldn't have been such a big deal, except that I was saying them to my mother. She had already been scolded twice by the Costco sample ladies for trying to grab their food straight out of the microwave. "But I don't want to wait for them to cut up the food. I'm in a hurry," she whined. Even though we both knew we weren't in a hurry at all.

My mother is a brilliant, opinionated, artistic, spiritual woman. She also has severe ADHD. When I think of ADHD I picture a third-grader who can't sit still in class, not a retiree whose life resembles one of those Chinese plate-spinning acrobats. She is a very enthusiastic starter of projects. Not much of a finisher, though. Each day when I came home from school, the detritus of her latest phase was everywhere: Sawdust and tools from building new kitchen cupboards from scratch; little bits of wax and silver covering every countertop during the jewelry-making phase; sheets of cork and leather when she decided she would be making her own shoes from now on. Don't even get me started on the stand-up hot tub or the giant flower-shaped lamps she welded. Mom would enjoy an invigorating day of creativity, then spend the afternoon napping, leaving her three children to clean up all of the messes.

For a long time I resented her selfish pursuits, her messiness and her complete lack of normalcy. ("Mom, if you're going to pick me up for an orthodontist appointment can you please not come to school covered in wood shavings?" or "why can't you just crochet or watch soaps like all the other moms?") I used to sit in class fantasizing, not about cute boys, but about a quiet, sweet mother. She would be beautiful and stylishly dressed at all times (no weird homemade shoes, to be sure). She would be reserved and a good listener, not a noisy, brash know-it-all. Most of all, she would be still. Not always starting something. Not always distracted.

As I got older it helped to understand what adult ADHD means: The disorganization, the difficulty finishing tasks, the inability to follow directions, the lack of a filter in conversation (if my mom thinks it, she says it), limited listening skills and the tendency to interrupt. Mostly I just try to think of her as a responsible eight-year-old. I don't tend to be as judgmental or harsh that way. I can enjoy her zany exuberance a little better when I picture her as an enthusiastic child, not just a weird old lady.

This time of year, as Mother's Day rolls around, I think about her and what it's meant to have her as a mother. The roles seem to have changed and somehow I have become the mature, responsible one; the matriarch of the family. I'm now in my 30's but the woman can still embarrass me in no time flat. Since I have become a mother, though, I have come to appreciate and cherish her ADHD as a gift to my children. She is the "fun grandma". The one who doesn't get tired of taking walks or giving piggybacks. The one who has an endless repertoire of fairy tales and Bible stories (spooky/funny/silly voices included). The one who will spend hours helping her grandchildren cut out and decorate homemade gingerbread. And when I walk into the kitchen and see flour and cinnamon and cookie cutters scattered on every single surface, I take a breath--a big breath--and notice only the smiles on everyone's faces."

Ahhh....all so true. Our mom is a nut, but we love her! Happy Mother's Day, Hilde!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ant Killer

Every spring the ant invasion begins. I can tell when the ants are here because one day I will drop a nugget of something edible on the floor...scratch that; it's not me who drops food on the floor...Beck will throw something off his high chair, and I'll turn around to do something, and when I turn back, the floor under his high chair will be covered with ants. At least they are the cute little tiny brown ones. They don't bite. And they are hardly big enough to see. But I don't want them in my house. After they hit the kitchen, they show up in the closet, the bathroom...everywhere. So usually I just get one of those little Raid disks and set it under the high chair, right by the back door where they squeeze in through the gaps in the floor boards. Within a day or two, they stop coming around.

But this year I have a new weapon. Daphne. As it turns out, Daphne is absolutely fascinated by the little ants crawling all around our house outside. She likes to pick them up and "hold them" by which I mean mash them between her fingers on the way to her other palm. She tries to pet them, i.e. squish them into tiny little ant pieces. I also saw her trying a new technique today--body slamming them. Literally. She would find one on the driveway. Jump up in the air above it, and land hard on her bum, right on top of the ant. Then she would hunch way over and look under between her legs to see if she got it. "I did it!" she would yell triumphantly if she thought the speck of dirt under her was a dead ant. It probably was. Maybe several. Which means, only 264,897,112,241 ants left to go. Keep up the good work, Daphne!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More Craziness

These two are courtesy of my brother.

Men are insane. Here is proof:

Now I'm going to go give myself CPR.

El Camino Del Ray -The Scariest Thing EVER

Since several of you (and I myself) expressed interest in what that death trap from hell actually is, here is the explaination of it that I got from Wikipedia...

El Caminito del Rey (English: The King's pathway) is a walkway or via ferrata, now fallen into disrepair, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Álora in Málaga, Spain. The name is often shortened to El Camino del Rey.

In 1901 it was obvious that the workers of the Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls needed a walkway to cross between the falls, to provide transport of materials, vigilance and maintenance of the channel. Construction of the walkway took four years; it was finished in 1905.

In 1921 the king Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce and it became known by its present name.

In some places the walkway has collapsed. The walkway has now gone many years without maintenance, and is in a highly deteriorated and dangerous state. It is one meter (3 ft) in width, and is over 700 feet (200 m) above the river. Nearly all of the path has no handrail. Some parts of the walkway have completely collapsed and have been replaced by a beam and a metallic wire on the wall. Many people have lost their lives on the walkway in recent years. After four people died in two accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed the entrances. However, adventurous tourists still find their way into the walkway.

The scariest thing EVER

I came very close to peeing my pants while watching this, and I think I did suffer a small heart attack. But I couldn't stop watching. See what you think...

My one remaining question is, WHO MADE THAT PLACE AND WHY???

(Thanks for the mega scare, Tiffany)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Are you going to eat me?

Microwaves have come a long way. The one we had when I was a kid had dials, not buttons. It wasn't digital. I'm not sure it even had a clock on it. It was about the size of a Honda Fit and it didn't even have a rotating plate at the bottom.

The microwave I have now has a special button for popcorn that senses when the popcorn is done and never burns it, it has a button to soften your butter without melting it, it has a 30 second button for quick heats (that I love), and buttons 1-6 automtatically cook your food 1-6 minutes with one touch. But the best feature about my microwave is the "Are you going to eat me?" feature. This kicks in when you have put something in the microwave and then become a total idiot and forgotten all about it. After your food is done and you wander away, the microwave begins to beep periodically as if to say, "Hey, are you going to eat me?" If you're around, you will hear it and remember your food. If you've suffered more serious brain damage and don't come back to the kitchen for an hour or two (and also don't notice that you've become ravenously hungry and can't figure out why), that nice little beep will be patiently chirping for you when you return. I think it will beep until the end of time if you don't open the microwave door.

Of course you'll have to either throw your food away at that point because it is now bacteria infested and a danger to your health. Or you'll have to reheat it again because it is colder than when it started. But never fear, if you forget again, the "Are you going to eat me" feature will save the day. (And yes, I have had to use this feature more than once on the same piece of food.)

BLAAAAAH-G - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Do you ever have one of those days where nothing really stikes your fancy to write about? I'm having one of those days. So today's post is going to be a conglomeration of random thoughts:

1) Daphne is potty trained! Woohoo! It took us about 3 weeks, only about a week of more intensive training. I used the book Toilet Training in Less Than a Day (Arzin and Foxx), and it worked wonders. I didn't give in to all the recommended strategies at first. I got Daphne going potty on the toilet every single time using their method, but if I didn't keep on top of taking her, she'd wet her pants. She just wouldn't initiate going. So finally I tried the last principle the book suggested which I had been holding out on: negative reinforcement. Everyone told me to keep potty training all happy and positive. Treats, praise, high fives, etc. And that worked to get her to go. But it didn't get her to care. So I broke down and started telling her one day that wetting her pants was naughty and that I was very sad when she did it. I had to tell her this TWICE, and she never had another accident. Synopsis? This book rocks.

2) Beck is FINALLY starting to walk. He's not walking yet, but he will actually stand up of us own accord and take 5-15 steps before he falls down. Then he'll sometimes get up and try again. Usually he'll just crawl the rest of the way. But at least he's making an effort! And it's about time. He was close to breaking his cousin Finn's record of not walking until 17 months. (He's got 1 day to go). Of course, Finn might win on a techinicality if he was actually walking walking by this time. It seems so strange to me that Beck will be in nursery in 1 month. 1 month? He will still be wobbling around or possibly even crawling sometimes still. Can I really put him in a room with a bunch of rambunceous 3 year olds in that condition?

3) Thank heavens it's finally spring. We have had goregous 60's and 70's weather the last few days. I've been out for walks, playing in the back yard, and finally getting into Daphne and Beck's spring wardrobe. I was so sick of those winter shirts, I can't tell you. Oh, that reminds me. Does anyone have any recommendations for outdoor toys for small children? My kids are bored out of their minds outside. They pick up ants and try to eat rocks because I have no outdoor toys. I did get a bucket and shovel, but I need other ideas. Anyone?

4) Do you ever work out so hard that you come home and are so exhausted you have no choice but to sleep? i feel like I kicked my own butt today because that's how I felt. Maybe I'm just a lazy bum, but I feel that way a lot after I work out! On the other hand, I'm thrilled to actually see some definition in my arms. It's all worth it.

5) I cleaned out and washed my car this weekend. It is so good for my mental state to get into a clean, nice smelling car. The car of a mom with young kids is usually the biggest death trap of disaster and disease and funk known to man. Why is that? Because kids are slobs or because we are? Or because just getting into the house with all your kids and your stuff and your kids' stuff is such an amazing feat that actually taking any of the crap out of the car with you at the same time is laughable? Or because getting back to the car to clean it up after you've dropped your kids, your kids' stuff and your own stuff off in the house is nearly as impossible because your toddler has to go potty, your cat left a giant dead moth just inside the kitchen door which your baby is trying to eat, both of your kids are crying, the phone is ringing, and you desperately need to eat something because it's 11am and your bloodsugar is really low from not having time for breakfast. Ya. Must be that.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dancing With the Stars

Do any of you watch the ABC show, Dancing With the Stars? I do. I love it. I've always wanted to be a ballroom dancer. In fact, I took a ballroom class when I was 16. Loved it. So watching the show is like living a dream that never came to fruition. Plus, there are some amazing costumes and even more amazing bodies. Like Edyta Slawinska's and Karina Smirnov's. I look at those women dancing and think they have the absolute perfect bodies. And occasionally a really hot male star makes it to the show too and you get to watch some nice buns or biceps. And I love watching the fantastic choreography and seeing how well the stars can learn the steps. It's just an all-around good reality show.

My husband also watches the show. Shhhh...don't tell his friends. Or do; tonight I think he revealed the real reason why he watches this show when he said, "I think I watch this show just in case Edyta's dress falls off." A truer word was never spoken. Dancing? Nah. Just hot bodies with the slight chance of their skimpy dresses getting stepped on and flying off. Classic.

Start Spreading the News

I love NY. . . cheesecake, that is. My love affair with it began in 12th grade when I worked for a cheesecake bakery called Kathy's Cheesecakes in Detroit. Kathy made the best cheesecakes I've ever eaten, and she made them NY style. Ever since then, I've been on a quest to find a cheesecake as good as hers. (See below for the closest runners up.)

Well, I have been deprived of many of my favorite desserts while dieting the last four months. So this week when I got off my diet, one of the first things I wanted to eat was cheesecake. And not just any cheesecake, NY style cheesecake. In spite of the fact that every Tom, Dick, and Harry restaurant claims to have NY style cheesecake, most don't. Most don't even know what a NY style cheesecake is. They just add that "NY" onto it to make it sound more fancy. But the truth is, there is an actual style of cheesecake that is traditional NY style, and it is heaven.

It starts off with a baked dough crust, kind of like a sugar cookie, on the bottom. There is no crust on the sides. I have had a few good NY style cheesecakes where the cake itself is right, but they used a graham cracker crust. That is not the traditional way--it is the lazy baker's way--but some do it that way. It's acceptable, just not as good. Then the cheesecake itself is baked to a golden brown on top. It's not pale and pasty. It tends to be a tall cake, and usually the edges are higher than the middle--something about the baking process. The texture is fluffy, not gooey or pudding like. It is light and breaks away with a slight sucking sound when you pull a bite off. It should be slightly cakey, almost the texture of a pound cake, not wet like cream cheese. I good test is to slice it with a knife. If there is goo on the knife, it's not NY style.

Here are some pictures to clear it up:




NY STYLE (Although the one in the background is not NY style)



And personally, I like it with nothing on it. I'm kind of a purist that way. I don't want strawberry sauce or raspberries or even my beloved hot fudge. Just give it to me straight. NY style.

Lately I've been tricked into eating several so-called NY style cheesecakes that were not NY style. They were creamy, gluey, thick, frosting-like, some good some bad, but none of them NY style. I won't diss the Cheesecake Factory. They have good cheesecakes. But they're not NY style. When I want something special or fancy, I'll go there. But when I want a true NY style cheesecake I go to The Macaroni Grill, Mimis, and, surprisingly, Rumbi Island Grill (although the one by my house hasn't had it in a couple of months). Real NY style cheesecakes are harder to find than you would think. If you know of any others, please let me know! I don't have a good NY style cheesecake within a 15 minute drive of my house.

That's how I like my cheesecake. What about you?

Friday, May 2, 2008

(Sung to the melody of "Jimmy Crack Corn"...)

I'm eating Oreos and I don't care
I'm eating Oreos and I don't care
I'm eating Oreos and I don't caaaaaare
My diet's gone away.

And it's AWESOME. Those babies are like 3 points PER COOKIE, plus the milk (which you should NEVER eat Oreos without), so I never got to indulge in those EVER while on weight watchers. Since I can't eat less than 6 in a sitting, we're talking an entire day's worth of points to eat Oreos and milk. How sweet not dieting is.


I'm not crafty. Or creative. I'm too pragmatic to spend much time on cutesy things. I appreciate them (some of them) and I give props to those of you who are good at that stuff. I'm just not. My creative outlets have to have some sort of practical value, not just aesthetic appeal. So when my sister taught me how to make soap several years ago, I was hooked. It was the perfect combination of whimsey and useful. I'm not talking about cold-process soap. That takes serious dedication and skillz. I'm not that patient. No, I'm talking about melt-and-pour. The kind that's about as hard to make as macaroni and cheese. There is a certain finesse to making certain bars, it's true, but mostly it isn't hard. It's fast, fun, and there are almost limitless options of shapes, colors, and scents. I love it.

So every December for the last few years I have invited my friends to come over for a soap making party. Handmade soaps make great Christmas gifts, especially the neighbor type. (It's nice to pass out something cute and homemade that won't go straight to your hips.) Well, my parties have gotten bigger and bigger. Everyone loves making soaps. It's really fun. So eventually I decided maybe I'd try to sell my soaps (really it was just an excuse to keep making them because you can only give so many away). I got my fertility friends to help me think up a name for my new company, and my husband made me that snazy logo up above. Then all I had to do was come up with a place to sell them. That was 6 months ago.

Finally the opportunity presented itself this week. The Bead Girls (run by my neighbor and friend Sherilyn) was having their spring boutique fair, a collection of ladies who run boutiques or home party businesses who get together a couple of times a year and sell their wares in one spot. Sherilyn invited me to sell my soaps. So I stayed up until 1:30am the night before making soaps, packaging them up, and labeling them. I was so excited for my soap debut!

And I sold 9 bars. NINE BARS, people. Who doesn't want cute soaps? Actually, I don't. I don't want to own them, just make them. So I guess I can't blame everyone else. But the stupid thing is that the lady who sold the most stuff at the boutique fair was the Scentsy lady. Pscht. So lame. Her stinky Scentsy candles masked the delicious smells of MY soaps. But then she bought 2 of the 9 bars I sold so I had to forgive her. (Plus I actually really like Scentsy stuff and own a bunch myself).

Ok, so if you want to see some of my soaps, look below. Also Here's my website.

Lemonade Bar

Fresh Mango

Red, White, and Mint and Mint Swirl

Sun-Ripened Currant

Honey Lemon

Tuscan Bar (Hazelnut Vanilla)

Sparkling Grapefruit

Honey Glycerin bar

The cute packaging