Monday, June 25, 2012

Nathan's Summer

I've decided that the perfect age to be in the summertime is 14. Kids this age are too young to have serious jobs, but old enough to be independent going to Seven Peaks or over to friends houses on their own. I watch what Nathan does during a typical summer day, and it's way more fun than work. I keep saying that you're only young once, so let them live it up, but it just doesn't seem fair that they actually have SOOO much fun.

Nathan has about an hour of chores a day which isn't nearly enough, frankly. Let's weigh the work vs. fun. One hour vs. eight hours of play. Hmmm. Slacker Mom big time.

Nathan's life consists of playing his guitar with his friends, and practicing a little for his lesson. He has been glued to the Euro soccer cup going on. That takes up about 2 hours a day. Hanging out at friend's houses or having friends to our house takes up another four hours. Texting back and forth about when and where they will all meet takes up another hour. No one seems to be able to make any decisions. "Dude, my Mom's making me tend my sister, I'll call you when I can hang out," is an example of one of them. Another might says, "Dude, my Mom says we can't hang out at my house because we ate all the food last time and she has a headache." That Mom may have been me.

He went on a canyoneering trip with Darren a couple of weeks ago. Some days he sleeps until 10:30. He eats his six meals a day. He wrestles on the floor with his dog. He texts, he reads Harry Potter, he plays games on the Kindle at night in bed. He jumps on the tramp with a hose and four big sweaty friends. Next week he starts summer soccer practices for his team, The Yellow Jackets. He will go on another scout campout and spend a week at the cabin in Montana riding on the slider behind the boat on Lake Hebgen and buying cool pocket knives and leather wallets in West Yellowstone. Cousins are coming in from New York. He will sleep as much as teenagers need to sleep. That thought makes me happy.

His life is idyllic. I want to preserve this innocent time. Time for pure fun and unabashed joy, the kind of fun that adults can never capture no matter how hard they try. I keep telling him this is best time of his life. He agrees. He grins and says, "I love how great my life is." I notice his teeth. They are getting straight, and he is growing taller. I think he is the most adorable thing I have ever seen in my life. I only get him for a little while longer.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sweet Sam and Finals

Sammie in the hosptial

Poor Sammie. On Easter evening she had a terrible accident and sliced her knee open. She slid into a measly plastic sprinkler head with jeans on. The damage was amazing. It was a huge, awful gash that required surgery and a three-day hospital stay. She is still in a brace and can't bend her knee. The cut was 12-inches across. Some of the skin below the cut isn't getting blood and is in danger of dying, in which case she would have to have plastic surgery. It's kind of a sad way to end her senior year. But she is a trooper--resilient, positive and so good-natured. I love her so much. In the meantime she has three AP tests to study for, and so being less active suits her lifestyle in a way.

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks. Finals are over. I survived. I really did. And a lot of good came from it. This past semester was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I read and wrote, read and wrote for three and a half months. That's about all I did. My brain feels like it's made ample room for all this extra information, that it's being absorbed and filed away. Retrieval of this knowledge at a later date is a distinct possibility. I'm banking on it, anyway.

Just when I have some time to smell the roses my tulips are dying--already. And my lilacs are in full bloom, several weeks early. They usually don't come out until Mother's Day. Time is marching on. Sammie graduates the end of May and school is almost out for everyone else.

Tonight we ate dinner on the patio. It was sort of an idyllic Sunday afternoon. Darren barbecued, Theo chewed on his bones and chased birds, wagging his tail as fast as a hummingbird's wings. We played "Say Anything" and had homemade peanut butter cookies for dessert.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Two days without a microwave

 A few days ago, in the middle of defrosting some turkey, our microwave gave up the ghost. It didn't screech, or whine or peter out slowly or make any other distress sounds. It just stopped. It had died. It was only four years old.

Such a young microwave. Was it defective or is that just how long microwaves last "these days?" The guy at RC Willey said, "I don't care how nice or expensive a microwave it, they are all just garbage and won't last for more than four years." He had obviously been selling microwaves forever, and wasn't in commission mode at all. He could say whatever he wanted. It was sort of refreshing to know the truth about something, but irritating to think that we would just have to buy another one in four more years. Of course we bought one. How can you NOT have one?

We didn't get it until yesterday. So there were two days of maddening chaos in the kitchen. The kids kept asking how they were supposed to eat without a microwave. Put a pan on the stove, pour the stuff in and turn on the stove, I told them. They were perplexed. They are the microwave generation. The stove is for cooking dinner stuff, not for warming up stuff, they said. When they tried this they scored the bottom of the pan, leaving them to "soak."  Putting something to "soak" means you will not ever clean it. Your mother will because she is SICK of looking at it and she needs it because the microwave is broken!

"How am I supposed to put a corn dog in a pan on the stove?" Nathan asked. He had a point. Maybe we really shouldn't be eating corn dogs, I thought, but instead told him that he should find something else to eat. I started my usual bulleted list of all the things to eat when kids say there's nothing to eat. Like always, I started out with the most nutritious, but then gradually moved into foods that will definitely keep me a member in good standing at the Slacker Mom club.

  • cereal
  • bananas
  • apples
  • pretzels
  • yogurt
  • cheese sticks
  • leftovers from last night (no, that would require a pan to warm it up)
  • grapes
  • cheez nips
  • oreos
  • vanilla ice cream
  • double chocolate fudge ice cream (it's the end of the semester, OK?)
So last night having my microwave popcorn again was a real treat after not having it for a couple of days. And the new microwave is cool. It has a nob to turn instead of buttons to push.

But who cares really? It's gonna be dead in 2016.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hot Mess

This is THE week of the semester. It is the week when everything comes together or falls apart. For 13 weeks, things have been falling into place, but I still worry that they could fall out of place so easily.

Hanging by a thread. It is amazing that I think of my school work in so tenuous of terms. My confidence is something that has to be hefted up from its hiding spot every day and put in plain view. And even then it likes to slink down to the place it is most comfortable. Kind of like when you walk out into the light after having been in a dark room and it feels better just to turn back.

Oh, that *%$#^ research paper that has been tormenting me for two months! Adrie spent three hours with me last night getting it into the right format. She laughed, "I seriously hope you never have to do something like this again." That was after she told me my paper was "a hot mess."

I agree, that paper was the "hot mess" of the semester. If it receives any sort of a decent grade, it will be because of Darren and his red pen and my professor's patience when I couldn't get the question right, then got the question right and then changed the question altogether. Poor guys.

Adrie's so sweet. She's the one who brought me the application to this program last spring and said, "Mom, you can do this."

Every day I remember that when I'm busy dredging up the confidence that has lain idle for way too long.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What a Bathrobe Means

A bathrobe means lots of things and has lots of purposes.

  • You use it when you want to cover up ratty pajamas.
  • You use it when you want to cover up other things.
  • You use it when it's Christmas morning and pictures must be taken.
  • It is a symbol of sickness. For example, when you have it on in the middle of the day, people think you must be sick, and then they may not ask you to do something.
  • You wear it when you are busy in the mornings and you just don't have time to get properly dressed and then it is suddenly noon and the bathrobe becomes a symbol of laziness not busyness.
  • A new one means you are serious about not looking too ratty or dumpy, but that bathrobes are just a necessary part of a wardrobe like pants or shoes.
  • It is a Saturday or Sunday thing. You can wear it more on these days than in the middle of the week.
  • It can be fuzzy for the winter, and "breezy" for the summer.
  • If you wear it in the car to drive the kids to school, you are a slacker mom and can't get it together.
I have used my bathrobe in every one of these ways at some point in my life. Today, my bathrobe means that I have lots of school work to do and that I want to be comfortable doing it. But it is now nearly 1:30 and my bathrobe must give way to real life and real clothes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reading and Writing on the Couch, Pork Rinds and Such

I often worry that this school thing will all come crashing down around me. It just sort of nags at me all the time. My permanent spot seems to be the couch where I am reading and writing in odd positions that make my shoulder hurt. For those of you who know my sad, sad tale of woe about my shoulder, this is not a good thing.

This reminds me of a book called,  "She Got Up Off the Couch" by Haven Kimmel. It's about a mom who sat on the couch for 20 years eating pork rinds, watching TV and reading sci-fi novels, until one day she "got up off the couch," lost 100 pounds and went back to school.

OK, I just can't think about that too deeply.

 I haven't eaten pork rinds since my Dad would buy them at Seven-Eleven on the way home from Vernal, UT. Pork rinds are what you eat on the way home from Vernal. And sunflower seeds that you hack out the window. The ones that you don't hack out the window spill all over the seat and stay there for a long time. He would also buy orange circus peanuts that sit in your stomach like sicky-sweet Play-Doh.  No wonder I don't have much desire to go to Vernal. If I could be with Dad then I'd like it.

Wow, such randomness on a Wednesday night on the couch. Now I have the hiccups. And no, I have not been eating pork rinds or circus peanuts.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winter's Back

Winter's back, hopefully just for a few days. I had almost packed away my bulky sweaters, but I guess I'm glad I didn't. Aww, I'm gonna pack them away anyway. I can't bear to actually wear them.

I put a bunch of white flowers with lots of greenery around the house for St. Patrick's Day. I usually cook corned beef and cabbage to get into the Irish spirit, but my husband is the only one who likes it. Everyone else gags, so I decided against it. I found an Irish stew recipe that I wanted to make, but I couldn't find leeks and rosemary or a "pint of Guiness beer" at my local Smith's. I wasn't about to go to the state liquor store just to make something traditional. So Darren and I went out and the kids ate a frozen pizza. Slacker mom! But those white flowers with greenery sure are pretty!

I tried to pinch Nathan yesterday for not wearing green and he said, "Hey, it's on my underwear!" Typical 8th grade response. The horror of it was, I could actually SEE his underwear because his pants were so slouchy, and that was troublesome. I told him to go put on a belt, that I never wanted to to see his plaid boxer shorts again! At least when they're on his body. Heaven knows I'll be seeing them in the laundry for the rest of my mortal existence . .

Speaking of the "L" word, there are about four clean piles down there that are screaming at me. At the bottom of the pile are Sammie's PIONEER TREK CLOTHES THAT SHE WORE IN JULY AND IS NOW JUST WASHING! I am so upset at this that I can hardly speak about it, let alone write about it. They have been fermenting in her room while her tarantula--Obamaniqua- feasts on live crickets and the beta swims in a fuzzy green bowl.

Speaking of Sammie, she just came  to me said, "Worst thing ever, Mom." I sat down to read Tale of Two Cities, and I woke up three hours later!" Maybe you should read something shorter and easier, I said. Too late now, she said. "I'm sorry, honey," I said.

I'm off to make strawberry shortcake with whipped cream for dessert. Darren is barbecuing hamburgers in the snow!

Life is so weird.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fickle Pickle

I have always been fickle.

Luckily I have become less so as I grow older. But Fickle has showed up again--uninvited and definitely unwanted--and is seriously toying with me. It keeps telling me to change my mind about school-related projects. Two weeks ago it convinced me to change the topic of a major paper that was due in 10 days, and now it's telling me change the topic of a short story that's due tomorrow. The story was nearly written, but I didn't like it anymore. Fickle will do that to you. (Well, it also had no plot movement, said my writing teacher. She was right.)

I wish Fickle would go bother someone else, at least until the semester is over. Then I might be willing to entertain it when the topic isn't school. If the topic were flowers or desserts, or what movie to see . . . then Fickle and I could joyfully hang out together. And I know we'd have fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Look What Turned up in the Wash

Today I was performing the "L" word, resigned to its interminable presence in my life, dreaming somehow that the Downey was the blue sea, and the powdered Tide was the white sand . . . and then I woke up from my soap-filled delusion. First of all, I told myself, you don't even HAVE powdered Tide, it's liquid, and second, watching the spin cycle go around is about exciting as your life is going get on this March day in Happy Valley, Utah. To expect any more will only result in disappointment. 
But there was a bit of intrigue--just a flash mind you--when I discovered that some jeans pockets were a bit more bulgy (bulgier?) than usual. My first thought was, "What important piece of information have I missed because it's been wadded up in Nathan's pocket?" My second thought was, "Maybe it's cash!" My kids know that if their money goes through the wash it's mine. I tell them it's my payment for washing their dirty clothes.

I did give back a soggy $10 once, partly because it was $10 and not just loose change, and partly because it was "hard-earned baby sitting money." Through the waterfall of tears running down her face, my daughter told me that the kids she'd babysat for that measley $10 were horrible kids and she would never tend them again for any amount of money. And that she was so glad I'd found the money for the worst night of her life. How could I keep it?

Most of the time it's only loose change. But I've had some $1s at times and one time a $5. I guess laundry isn't entirely thankless.

So I examined the "bulge." It turned out to be a guitar pick that said "Pick Syd for Student Council," (cute) a hard as a rock tootsie roll, a study guide for the Constitution test, and a Media Center Lunch Pass Punch Card which had 10 punches left. To think that these precious things almost went through the wash!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Honors Classes in Utah

Even though I want to be an English teacher in Utah, and even though I am excited about the possibilities, I still get so frustrated with the status quo. The class sizes scare me more than anything, and this is the issue that is creeping into the quality of my own kids' educations.

At the local junior high, 70 kids tried out to get into honors geography and English, yet they accepted only 35. The other kids, who maybe just don't have that edge, are resigned to take regular English. This wouldn't be a problem if all the regular teachers were excellent. But that just isn't the case. I think a good teacher can make any class worthwhile an meaningful, whether it's regular or honors.

My son and his friends were in honors English in 7th and 8th grades. These are kids who score high on standardized tests and can write compelling essays. They are excellent students--they just aren't stellar students. Maybe they goof off too much, maybe they are a bit sassy. Maybe they turn in assignments late once in a while. But they are all honors students and should be challenged. I have studied the consequences when adolescents aren't challenged. They shut down. They coast. They wonder why they are sitting in this class when the work is dull and meaningless.

I am not the type of parent who believes her kids can do no wrong. I would never ask a teacher to change their grades or excuse their bad behavior.

So I hope that they will open another honors class for my son. I have petitioned the principal to consider this. If his response is negative, I know it will be because of budget constraints. I know that he does his best with limited resources. If he says yes, I will be happy for my son the other students who I know will thrive in a challenging class.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Darren and I went to see the Hale Center Theater's production of Xanadu last night. I loved the 80s garb--roller skates, shirts falling off the shoulders, leg warmers, side pony tails. It was a visual blast from the past.

But the music took me down memory lane, so far in fact, that I came home and made a Xanadu Pandora station.  Then I sat up singing Olivia Newton John's "Suddenly." The Bee Gees' "Tragedy" was on the list as well. I had to tell my kids all about my disco lessons in 1978 with my best friend, Teresa. Now that was a sight.

Listen to "Suddenly"

Listen to "Xanadu!"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Research Blah

Today my fears came true. I have been trying to fake it for about seven months now. Pretty successfully actually. I have been quite the imposter. But I think I have been exposed.

 I don't know how to write a research paper anymore. Help! I have a draft of a big, yucky one due Tuesday and I am befuddled.

What do you expect, people tell me. You haven't written one in more than 20 years. It will be fine.

They're right. But the fact remains, I have to do it.

Here I sit. Saturday afternoon. Kids have done their chores (sort of), Nathan's basketball game is over (he scored 8 points, but their team got slaughtered), laundry is progressing (as well as can be expected), and I don't have to do anything until 5.

Blah. It is beautiful today. My yard is a wreck, thanks to that dumb, dumb dog. I should go out there.

Research calls. It will not be ignored.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mean Tooth Fairies

Last night I had to "extract" a tooth from Leah's mouth that was making her gum infected. The dentist told told her on Tuesday that she had to get the tooth out by Friday.  If not, he would have to pull it. NOOOOOOOO! She was adamant that she could do it. So Leah, sweet little worrier that she is, spent most of the day Wednesday and Thursday wiggling that stubborn tooth around. Every time I looked at her she was working on that tooth.

It was hard to get out because the infected gum was poking up through the middle of the tooth. That tooth was defiant. It was also making Darren and me crazy. Of course Darren had to do the Dad thing--go get his biggest pair of pliers and say, "Hey, let me get that old tooth out for you. I have just the right tool."

Leah's response: SCREAM BLOODY MURDER. I told her that's just what Dads do, they try to tease you to make you smile. Or scream. My Dad had the biggest pair of pliers on the planet, and he took great joy wielding them around when I had a tooth that needed to come out.

Even Leah's best friend's father, a surgeon no less, had a similar reaction on Wednesday night. He went and got some surgical tools out of his kitchen drawer and said, "I can get that tooth out for you, Leah."

Leah's reaction: Cover her mouth and back out of the room.

Why do all Dads do that?

So, last night we sat at the kitchen table and with a paper towel I just wiggled that tooth around for about 10 minutes it seemed. Leah would wail now and then I would stop. She started coloring a picture to get her mind off the ordeal.

At this point my arm was numb and I had had enough. RIP!


"I'm not going to school tomorrow," she sobbed. "It just hurts too bad." I made her a milkshake with crushed up ibuprofen so she wouldn't have to chew the tablets. She said it was gross. It was. Little purple chalk-like pieces floating around.

She said she was going to bed. This morning, she could hardly wake up.

As I like to say, "She was having a bit of a lie in." A term the English say for "sleeping in."

The tooth fairy, after putting his pliers back in the garage, only produced $3. He was flat out of cash, he said. That was sort of a rip off after the ordeal. I will try to make it up to her today.

Mean tooth fairies.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Two Great Irish Tales

Top 'o the morning to you! And no, I'm not chipper in the a.m., I just like that expression. I've been thinking a lot about Ireland lately because it's St. Patrick's Day soon, and because I've read two amazing books about Ireland for my young adult lit class.

The first book is a non-fiction book. Like most people, I prefer fiction, but not after reading this amazing story of the Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1850s. The book, Black Potatoes, chronicles the terrible famine that consumed Ireland due to the failure of the potato crop. During those times, the average Irish person ate 14 pounds of potatoes per day. So to have that crop decimated resulted in deaths of at least a million people and the migration of millions to the US and other countries. This is one reason for the strong Irish presence in the eastern United States. 

Non-fiction books for young adults are not written like they used to be. In the past there really wasn't such a genre as non-fiction for young adults. You just went to the library and picked out a boring encycolpedia, textbook-like book in the children or adult sections. Now authors are writing these riveting books for young adults. When you read them, it feels like you're reading fiction because the details are so descriptive and the format is so interesting. The facts are there, but told in such a way that they become page-turners. They're read for pleasure and not just for information.

The second is a novel titled The New Policeman by Kate Thompson. It is a fantasy tale about losing time and gaining time and the connection time has between two worlds. It is rich with Irish lore, customs, music and dancing. The Irish are a superstitious people, and this book explores some of those themes like luck, elves, and the use of music to keep bad spirits at bay. Each chapter has piece of music relating to the plot. I didn't realize music was such an integral part of Irish culture. But it was fun to sit down and play some of the tunes!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March is Such a Flirt

March is not my favorite month. The weather flirts like a lunchroom of hormonal teenagers and then the bell rings and everyone has to go to class. Glorious one moment, gloomy the next. Come to think of it, that's what teenagers are like in general. In fact, I think March is the most teenagerly month of the live-long year.

If I were a month which one would I be? I do have mood swings like March, but since I don't care for March all that much . . .hmm.

I love months that are not too hot or cold. Spring makes me crazy because the weather is so unpredictable--flirty, right? Snow in May is just too depressing for words. So that eliminates Nov., Dec., Jan., Feb., March, April, May, July, August, September. That leaves June and October. June is glorious, with the hopes of the summer before us, and days that smell like roses. October is beautiful and warm and colorful, and I was born in October.

So, by process of elimination, if I could be a month I would be June or October. Such randomness on a Wednesday morning when I've got to be in class in less than an hour!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wow, that was short

Woe is me.

I was supposed to post every day in March. On March 1st I posted. Then I just forgot. For about two days. And how it's the 6th and I wonder why I can't remember things and how this always happens to me.

Take last Friday for instance. I took Leah to buy a gift for her friend. We found the gift and I went to pay. No debit card. I left her at the store (she was with her friend, I'm not that much of a slacker-well, maybe I am) and went home to look for the card. After tearing things up a bit I found it in a checkbook full of empty checks that I had been scrambling though earlier to find a blank check. (I didn't find a blank check, of course, and all the others were gone, not surprising.) I ran back to the store, paid for the gift, then collected the girls. Came home, got in the car to go collect the dog from the groomer, and got two blocks before I stopped to make sure I had the card. Dumped my wallet out. Cursed. Fumed. Cursed again. No debit card. Called the toy store to see if it was there. (At least I had my phone!) Went back home and took the credit card out of the drawer that I use only for emergencies. Now it was too late to collect the poor dog who had been at the groomer's since 9:30 am. because I had a hair appointment to get to. Darren said he'd get the dog and I went on my way. Still have the credit card and am using it because I can't bear to go into the bank and get another debit card for the 2nd time this month! I am thoroughly disgusted with myself and embarrassed.

Yesterday, Sammie was looking on a shelf and said, "MOM, isn't this your debit card?" Bless you dear child I said and put it in my wallet that is now more disheveled than disheveled. I put the credit card back in the drawer.  On my way home from school I stopped at the grocery to get some things, and was all happy to have my cute pink debit card with me, tucked into my wallet. The checker ran it through twice but it was denied. It was then, and only then that I realized that this must have been the debit card that I lost two weeks ago and forgot to destroy when I got a new one.  I got a bit teary when I told the checker that I couldn't believe it, that my life was disorganized beyond belief, and said that maybe I would be back after I went home to get the credit card. But I didn't. I was just too defeated.

Instead I wondered why I had given up sugar, what a stupid, stupid thing.

I know that the minute I go to the bank I will find the $%^#@ thing,  but I am getting desperate and the credit card balance is steadily growing and this doesn't bode well for my marital happiness. I hate checks but it looks like I am going to have to order them.

This just isn't the slightest bit amusing anymore, but it makes for good blog material. I think I had better head for the bank. Defeated by the debit card again.

Hey, how about those Orem High Tigers? State 4 Champions! Go Tigers!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Writing Every Day in March

In my teaching composition class my professor has encouraged us to write in our blogs EVERY day in March. If we do so, and regularly comment on our fellow students' blogs, then our writing will improve, and I think she said something about winning books or something. Winning books is enough for me. I am going to give it a shot.  Here are some things I'm thinking about lately. Just things that keep running though my mind on the first day at March.

  • Walking in the snow is beautiful at night. I love it when it snows at night.
  • Winter doesn't seem to be over. It never came and now it's here when it's time for spring. Hmmmm.
  • Leah was the runner up in the school spelling bee on Friday. She and another girl were in a stand off for 15 minutes! What a nail biter. She was so cute and brave, especially since her teacher forgot to give her all the words to study, and she was in a panic right before the bee. Darren and I were nervous wrecks in the back of the auditorium.
  • I am giving up sugar (in a fashion) for Lent. We were in Salt Lake last weekend and decided to take the kids to the Cathedral of the Madeline, a gorgeous Catholic church with stunning stained-glass windows. They sermon was about Lent, and giving up bad habits while exercising restraint in all ways. This is something that struck a chord with me. I decided to give up sugar--all baked goods, ice cream and chocolate Monday through Saturday. I can have some hard candy or licorice. Then on Sunday I can have a dessert(s). Sunday is a day of desserts. So instead of eating random treats every day, I will look forward to a very nice desserts(s) on Sunday. I have gone three days so far without sugar, except for a couple of Red Vines. 
  • Check out this guy. When were in SL we went to hear him sing with the Utah Symphony. He was awesome. He sings all the old Frank Sinatra tunes, and he sounds just like him!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Things we "GET" to do

Leah came to me the other day and said, "Look at this." She showed me a blank answer on a piece of homework.

Perpetually positive Mr. Olson

She said, "I asked Mr. Olson if I had to do this problem. I didn't think I should have to do it." 

"Well, what did he say?" I asked.

"He said I GET to do this problem, so I HAVE to do it," she sighed.

"No, you GET to!" I laughed.

She groaned.

The power of positive thinking. That is what has kept Mr. Olson teaching elementary school for 34 years.

Thanks Mr. Olson for your kind answer to an interminable question. Thank you for patience when those questions come, the ones you have answered several thousand times during your teaching career.  Thanks for building your students' self-esteem higher than any parent ever could. 

It's a good lesson for all of us. We "get" to do lots of things every day. If we "get" to do them instead of "have" to do them then they have the potential to become great things. If our daily tasks are a privilege to perform, then we perform them with more pride, skill and success. 

I don't know if I will be able to apply this principle to cleaning up dog throw up, or other detestable chores, but there are a thousand other tasks that I "get to do" today by virtue of the fact that I am alive in this world where each day is a gift. 

Mr. Olson has known this secret for lots of years. I am glad he was able to teach it to Leah, Nathan and Sammie, three of my children who GOT to be in his class during their 5th grade year. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Poptarts for Breakfast

Today my kids had Poptarts for breakfast, and thus I am living true to the Slacker Mom title that I bequeathed upon myself many years ago.

Tuesday Feb. 7 To Do List: Be a Slacker Mom. CHECK. Success comes in many forms.

Explanation if there is one:  I didn't sleep well last night (sadly, not an uncommon thing) and so when the kids were wondering what to eat for breakfast, I was still foggy, groggy and not even upright. But I wasn't  groggy enough not to yell, "Just eat some Poptarts!" when they called upstairs to ask what they should eat. The word Poptarts knocked them flat, and I could hear nothing for a bit; I am sure because they were stunned into silence. Then there was a bit of rummaging around in the pantry, and then some paper rustling, and then a "Pop!" sound from the toaster (thus the "pop" in Poptart--clever).

Then I remembered my scruples. I shouted,  "At least have some milk with them--a whole glass!" And as an afterthought: "Some vitamins, too!"

High and Mighty Mom Mantra 10 years agoPoptarts are strictly for an after school snack so as not to deprive the body of valuable nutrients before a school day. Having a high carb sugar rush first thing in the morning is not conducive to learning. I do not want my kids to tell their teachers they had Poptarts for breakfast. That looks poorly upon me as a mother. I will not be a white trash Mom. There will be no Poptarts or Frosted Flakes for breakfast and no Hamburger Helper for dinner. 

Back then I hadn't yet succumbed to being a Slacker Mom. I am proud to say, however, that despite the Poptart incident, Hamburger Helper has never taken up space on my pantry shelves. But my life is only half over. Who knows what the next 40 years might reduce me to.

I finally got up to go downstairs. Even Slacker Moms have to redeem themselves sometimes. I figured I had better make some nutritious lunches to counteract the negative affects of the Poptart breakfast.

As I thought about what might be the most healthy option for lunch, I thought about my father. He passed away years ago, but I wondered if he was watching me now, and if he was, I am sure he was laughing to beat the heavenly bands.

After all, he was the one who taught me to eat Cheerios with chunks of cheddar cheese floating around in 2% milk. But we usually only ate it for a bedtime snack.

Monday, January 23, 2012


It finally snowed.

Every prediction for show during past two weeks has fallen flat, blown away by dry sunny skies. I used to not want snow at all, preferring to fast forward my life from January 1 to May 1. But then last year I started snowshoeing and things changed for me. I have been waiting for two months for the snow to come. The anticipation was killing me. It finally came on Saturday, but I wonder if there is enough to get out the snow shoes.

For me, snow meant no smog, no icky recycled already breathed air. It meant invigoration and pine trees when Darren and I ventured up Provo Canyon. It meant I could shed all the guilt from not working out in a germ-invested gym where sweaty, hyper people are trying to lose weight that they will gain again next year. Adios crazy gym people, I thought. You're all going to get sick touching all those handlebars. You're going to wear yourselves out and be bored in a month. But I am going up to the mountains.

I'm such a snot. But before we got a little snow, I was seriously thinking that I was going to have to join the ranks of gym-going people, eat my own words, and hate every minute of it. Guilt to exercise nags whether you're going to the gym or the mountains. So I might as well just exercise.

Let more of the white stuff come so I don't have to do that. At least the gym people are getting healthy while I am sitting around waiting for a snowy day.

Monday, January 16, 2012


If I wasn't a Mormon I think I'd be a Baptist. Just for the music. OK, and the passionate people. What it really comes down to is I want to have fun at church. Why don't Mormons sing? Myself included. If I was a Baptist I would go to church for one hour. I wouldn't have to skip Sunday School to go home for a Diet Coke!

I particularly like this song from the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City. On Martin Luther Kind Day I like to listen to this kind of music. In fact, one of my radio stations on Pandora is set to contemporary gospel music.

My family and I saw a great exhibit, This Light of Ours, at the new Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City. We walked around looking at hundreds of pictures of the civil rights movement. The college-aged student and my high schooler were rapt with interest. My 13-year old and 10-year old were definitely not rapt, but showed a heartening amount of interest. I will take what I can get!

This exhibit is outstanding. The photographs are stunning. I loved listening to Pastor France Davis of the Calvary Baptist Church speak (on video) about the civil rights movement in Salt Lake City. What we learn in school is about the movement based primarily in the South. I learned that all states were influenced and involved in some way. It was fascinating to see it at the local level. Utah was intimately involved. Utah? Yes, Utah.

As some of you know, I have been spending some time in the public schools. One day I listened to a group of 8th graders talk about racism. They discussed how it is alive and well in the halls at their school. They talked about the assumptions they make about people because of their race or where they're from. One Asian boy said, "Yeah, everyone thinks I'm so smart because I'm Asian. But I'm just normal." Others spoke about how it is easy to make racial jokes. About how fun that is. And how the people who are the brunt of the jokes are often laughing as well. That is what this group of mostly white kids claimed.

"Dude, I don't mean to tell those jokes, but they just come out," one of them said.

I wanted to chime and say that adults are just as guilty of racial assumptions and sometimes actions, maybe even more. Adults would like to say we are not overtly racist, but many of us are passively racist. We don't engage in racist activities, but we do nothing to help stop racism. We rarely discuss it. We don't like to admit that it exists. But I didn't say anything because I was a visitor and I just wanted to listen.

I was impressed with these 8th graders. They were informed. They were aware of their tendencies to make judgments about people.

Here is a poem that we read in my multicultural education class. I will never forget it.

When I was born, I was black
When I grew up, I was black
When I go out in the sun, I am black.

But you, 
When you were born you were pink
When you grow up you are white
When you are sick you are green
When you go in the sun, you are red
When you get a cold, you are blue
And when you die, you are purple.

And you call me colored.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Life in Laundry

If there were an "L" word, laundry would be it.

Laundry has consumed my life since my daughter was born in 1991. I was hopeful when she moved out several years ago after 18 years of washing her clothes that my laundry "load" would be lightened. Perhaps there would only be 10 loads a week instead of 12.  And sometimes I do feel like there is less laundry. But sometimes it means that I find her clothes around  the house when she has spent time here and that I take care of them and try to get them back to her. Practically I should "wash" my hands of her clothing. She is 20 after all. Not much about being a Mom is practical, however. Sometimes I take her stuff to the dry cleaner's, too. Bad mommy.

And yes, one less person in the house should theoretically mean less laundry. For a while now I have been trying to figure out why that really isn't true. I think I have an idea. Even though one person moves out, the remaining children here go through growth spurts (ie 13 year old boy) and their clothes get bigger. Dumb? If two kids go up a size then that increases the amount of laundry, right? Enough to make up the loss of one less person? Maybe not. I am delusional as I sort sort wash wash dry dry fold fold and stare hopelessly at the basket earmarked solely for unmatched socks.

Babies and toddlers generate tons of laundry, but their clothes are the size of washcloths compared to my teenage son's sports jerseys.(And believe it or not, they smell better.) And now that my husband has taken up basketball, biking, hiking and canyoneering, I now have a new genre of laundry--"adventure clothes."

In my teenage years, I would go through my closet in the morning and throw tantrums that there was "nothing to wear." Then I would throw my discarded clothes on to the floor where they would end up in the wash. Today, my kids don't have meltdowns about clothes (thank the Lord), but they still throw perfectly clean clothes on the floor if they decide not to wear them. When I don't feel like smelling them to find out if they are clean (or just don't have the stomach for it) I just wash everything--everything.

Wash wash wash. Fold fold fold. Like a Chinese laundry.

"Have the kids do their own laundry," my husband advises. What that means is that they let it accumulate for two weeks (14 pairs of underwear equals 14 days of not doing laundry!) and then they dump a truckload of clothes on the laundry room floor when I am also doing laundry. They put in a load and then go off for a "day date" to Jump on It and return five hours later with more sweaty clothes. In the meantime I have done multiple yoga moves to get over the pile to the washing machine to keep it all going.

Wash wash wash. Fold fold fold.

If I discover that I am out of Downey (the staff of my laundry life and the only thing about laundry that doesn't completely defeat me) I may lose it for a while thinking that I have to use a crummy dryer sheet. Running out of Downy is like running out of Diet Coke or clean underwear, if you must know.

Don't get me going on the sock basket that never has a single match. It sits on the floor by the dryer with 100 screaming occupants shouting, "match me, match me!"

"It's time for family home evening, kids," I said one Monday night. "We're all going to match socks!" Fun fun fun, match match match. Lame lame lame.