Elder Uchtdorf's talk

Wow! Didn't you love Elder Uchtdorf's talk in the General Relief Society Meeting? I can't wait to read over it again, but two parts that stuck out to me on first hearing:
  • "Choose a space, and beautify it"---awesome---this sounds so possible. I can think I can do this.
  • "As daughters of God, happiness is your heritage." Beautiful. Like we can always count on happiness always coming back to us, no matter how far away it may seem at times. What a hopeful, encouraging doctrine.

I loved his whole theme of creation and compassion. I've actually been studying compassion in the scriptures lately, and maybe after I get a chance to read Elder Uchtdorf's talk again I'll write some more of my thoughts about that. Anyway, great talk! I'm always so grateful when we get to hear the prophets speak.



Rarely, very rarely, I can't fall asleep. It's like that restless leg syndrome, except it's restless everything. I feel . . . fluttery. Is that anxiety? I'm not extra nervous about anything, in particular, that I can think of.

Anyway, this is why I am posting bunnies in the middle of the night. Now there is a brilliant decorating idea. Don't you think it's just what is called for to finish off the look of our house? Sam?

Also, I like this "nerdy artwork":
And check out "The World, Justified." You'll like it.

A Good Day

Beth and I have often discussed how the web log is such an inherently self-centered medium, and as a result I'm always thinking to myself about various ideas, "Should I really write this? Everyone is going to think I am so self-absorbed." But the truth is, I AM kind of self-absorbed. I think it's one of those inborn things that we're on earth learning to overcome---hoping to someday be able to put others first instinctively, just as instinctively as we put ourselves first now. [Definitely, I haven't mastered that yet.] But although I'm not so great at being always kind and compassionate to other people, I am very interested in them; in fact I find other peoples' blogs much MORE interesting than my own, and I'm happy when anybody makes a new post, and I hardly ever think, "Why should I care about that?" because I, perhaps pathetically, do. Add that to the fact that the whole reason I started this blog was to give me a chance to write and reflect on things, both to preserve memories and to enhance them, and I can usually go ahead and justify posting just about anything. :)

With that in mind. Today was a good day, a want-to-remember day. Not because of anything earth-shattering, but just because it was Fall and there was football and sunshine and rain showers. The BYU game was awesome, another shut-out and lots of touchdowns to cheer for. (And a kiss for every score. Hooray! Last Saturday was even better, mmm boy.) Sam's cough is a little better and it didn't take us an hour to walk home and he could talk as we walked. The leaves are getting brighter on Y mountain and we got to see them in all different lights, vibrant under the grey skies, and radiant under the blue skies, and muted behind the clouds. Malachi looked tiny and cute in his BYU shirt, and he laughed when we tickled him, and Abe and Seb said "Thank you for the nice time" to Grandma without being prompted. We got to go to a free dinner in our neighborhood, and we thought it would be hot dogs or yucky six-foot subs or something, but it was strawberry-almond spinach salad and herbed roast beef with horseradish sauce, and white-truffle mashed potatoes topped with pulled pork, and wild mushroom risotto with breaded chicken and raspberry compote, and seafood cioppino with sourdough bread, and candles and flower arrangements and a jazz quintet. Then a short drive home in the rain, and hugging little Ky while he nursed, and stories (one was The Funny Thing, one of my favorites), and then cuddling with Sam on the couch and watching more football. I could be happy watching anything, actually, to prolong the cuddling.

Happy. That's what I am today.


Our neighbors have a trampoline, and the other day I was saying something to them about it, and I wanted to refer to it as the "tramp," but somehow I just couldn't do it; I had to say "trampoline" even though I knew it sounded too formal for the occasion.

There are some words like that. I know they're common words; I don't think anything of it when anyone else says them, but when I try to say them myself, I just can't. I don't know if it's my upbringing, or maybe it's just that I'm not cool enough, and I realize that if I were to come out with "tramp" instead of "trampoline," everyone would point their fingers and laugh at me as an imposter in their world of cool slang.

For example:
  • I have to say policeman, not "cop."
  • Dollar, not "buck." "Hey, this shirt is only two bucks!" Nope, never said it. Unable to.
  • Trampoline, not "tramp."
  • "Sweet." (In the sense of, "Whoa, that skateboard trick was 'sweet'." See, I can't even do it hypothetically! I sound like an idiot!)
  • "Sucks." I just can't. Instead I have to say something totally awkward, like, "He took your credit cards? Man, that . . . is . . . horrible!")
  • Some others I have trouble with are phrases like "Bring it on," "Get it on," "Down with that," etc.
Am I the only one with this problem?


At the risk of making myself unpopular, I have to say, I really don't think cupcakes are that great. Certainly not worth their current trendiness. (Sorry, Megan.) Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate nearly any kind of dessert, and I certainly wouldn't say no to a cupcake if offered one; they can be really yummy and good, but I just don't see what all the fuss is about. Specialty cupcake stores? Cupcake toppers? Cupcake cakes, for crying out loud?

But guess what? The cupcake is on its way out. And frankly, I'm not surprised. Give me a traditional cake over a cupcake any day. Yes, even for kids and birthday parties! I prefer the cake-to-frosting ratio in a traditional cake, and it's way less messy, since it can be eaten with a fork. Unlike with cupcakes, there's no awkward moment of indecision trying to figure out how to take the first bite. (Bite down from above, frosting first? Try to open mouth wide enough to bite into an entire cross-section at once? Eat upwards and risk the final bites being frosting-heavy?) If it's small portions you want, slices of a traditional cake can certainly be cut to a slim, child-appropriate size---but there's also the freedom to cut a larger-than-usual slice should you so desire. More of the cake's volume is actually edible, since you have only the sides of the entire cake potentially sticking to the pan---whereas with cupcakes, each serving has edges which are likely to stick to the wrapper and be lost to the eater.

And if we venture out of the realm of cakes altogether, I think I can make an even stronger case for the bar cookie as the ultimate treat---specifically, the brownie. But I'll leave that for another time.

The Robot Voice

My boys have this weird thing they do, and I don't know how it got started. I think it has to do with machinery and making sound effects for things, which they've done their entire lives ("Vvvvv" car/truck noises, "wumpa-wumpa" washer/dryer noises, etc.). And maybe this started when they were trying to make a sound effect for something (like picking up a cookie) that didn't really have a sound effect "built in." Anyway, when they're playing, instead of acting out what they're doing, like any normal person would do, they narrate it. In this robot voice. So, for example, they'll be playing "Store," and one of them will come to the other and say, "I want to buy a brownie." And then instead of pantomiming getting a brownie out of the oven, handing it over, etc., the store owner will say, "Get-the-brownie-down. Put-it-in-your-hand. Get-the-money." It is, truly, bizarre. And yet I'm totally used to it now.

"I'm going to buy a blanket for my monkey."
"No, we don't sell blankets."
"Yes you do. Get-the-blanket-from-the-shelf. Put-it-in-my-bag."
"No! Take-the-blanket-back. Put-it-away."
"No, you DO sell them! Get-get."
"Do not! Get-back-get-back."


"Okay, do you want to go to my carwash?"
"Yes. Get-in-the-car. Push-the-paying-thing."
"Here come the fwumpy brushes. FWUMP! FWUMP! FWUMP!"
"Okay, now I'm all clean. Drive-away-drive-away. Oh NO! Mud is getting on it and it's getting all dirty again! And seagulls are doing their droppings on it! Mud-mud-mud, droppings-droppings. Oh NO!"
"Okay, now it's my turn. Get-in-the-car."
"No, I'm not done! You aren't in my car."
"Yes, I AM in it! Get-in-get-in, drive-away-drive-away."
"No! Get-the-car-back. Get-in. Drive-away-in-the-car."


"Mmmm, I have lots of mints in my mint-box. Get-one-out. Eat-eat-eat."
"May I have a mint too?"
"No! They are only for me!"
"I'm going to get one anyway. Get-get. Eat-eat."
"No, you didn't really get one. They're still in my box. Put-them-in-the-box. Close-the-lid."
"Nooooooo! Abey! I WANT one of your mints! Take-take. Eat-eat."
"No! They're only mine! Don't eat them!! Get-out-of-your-tummy get-out-of-your-tummy."
"No! Don't get them out of my tummy!!"

and so forth.

Yes, that is correct, they have found a way to argue over imaginary mints. (I probably don't have to tell you that it hasn't helped to suggest, "Since they're not real anyway, can't you just pretend to let him have one?") And yes, thank you, I DO have very odd children. Luckily their quirkiness appeals to me, in some deep primal way. Must be that "mothering instinct" I've heard so much about.

D is for Decathlon

Photography---several strong entries here, but the winner

was selected for its strong emotional impact.

Logo Design required contestants to design a logo for a carwash. Here are the entries. (Similar, aren't they? Even . . . suspiciously so. Yet drug tests came back negative, so there were no disqualifications.)

Here are the competitors chopping and cooking in preparation for the "recipe" part of the competition, which required them to make 2 crepe fillings, one suited for a main dish and one suited for dessert. Contestants used only ingredients already on hand. Sam stunned the competition with his Sautéed Chard, Mushrooms and Zucchini in a Lemon-Cream Sauce, topped with Cheddar Cheese and Crumbled Bacon. My own offering was Red- and Yellow-Tomato salad, drizzled with Olive Oil and Chopped Basil, and served on a layer of Fresh Mozzarella.

Dessert crepes ranged from the simple (glazed with lemon juice and powdered sugar) to the complex (fresh peaches with cinnamon-honey yogurt topping, drizzled with balsamic vinegar reduction and topped with Thai basil)

Bunny toss: the event began with the achievement of some spectacular height
s, and many thought the competitors were on track for one of the best events ever. But unexepectedly, tragedy struck when a bunny became lodged on a high ledge. The event was brought to an unceremonious halt.

The Diapering and Needle-threading events injected a much-needed spark of life into my competition . . .

but the Arm-wrestling and shadow-puppetry brought me back down to earth.

The joke event provided comic relief.

Then down to the most grueling event of them all.

Boggle: The race was a tight one, but in spite of a courageous rally while down 14 to 29, my hopes for a victory here were dashed (words such as "schooner" proved my downfall).

Final scores: Sam, 94.5; Marilyn 93.6
Congratulations to the winner!

What goes around, comes around [what does that mean, anyway?]

I don't know how to make this sound like anything profound (classify it under "things that people always say, that are so obvious they don't really need to be said")---But---I was just thinking the other day about how oddly time passes; specifically, how far away some things in the future seem, but how recent some things in the past seem. For example, I was looking at how much more food we eat as a family now than we did when it was just Sam and me, and you wouldn't really think 3 small boys would make such a big difference, but they do. And then I was thinking, in 10 years, we'll have 3 adolescent boys, and what will my grocery budget need to be then? But it doesn't seem real to me. I don't really think that day will ever come.

But yet I never thought I'd be sending Abe off to kindergarten either. It seems like he was just barely born. It's so strange how the stages pass without your even really noticing. Like the stage where kids are always taking their shoes off, no matter what you do. (Are my kids the only ones who do that?) For about 2 years, right after they learn to wear shoes, it seems like it's impossible to keep the shoes on for any length of time. I remember every time we got in the car with little Abe, his shoes would be off by the time we arrived at our destination, and I'd have to put them back on for him. I'd say as we drove off, "Leave your shoes on this time!" but it never did any good. After Abe grew out of it, Sebby was the same. But now, I don't know when it happened, but suddenly Seb seems to have lost his obsession with it too, and more often than not, his shoes stay on the whole time we're out and about.

What else? There was a time when I felt like I was always saying, "Remember to cover your mouth when you cough." But I never have to say that anymore, the boys just do it automatically. (Or maybe, they just haven't had coughs for a while? :) )

Some stages I'm happy (or will be happy) to see the end of:
  • The cutting up/serving/arranging everyone's food stage
  • The constantly putting shoes and socks on/buttoning shirts/pulling up underpants/etc stage
  • The screaming stage
  • The yelling "NO!" stage
  • The runny nose stage

Some stages I'll be sad to see the end of:

  • The cuddling stage (where they have to cuddle with you all the time because they can't really move yet)
  • The boys calling me "Mommy" stage
  • The Seb saying every time he goes up the stairs "Will you hold my hand please?" stage
  • The Seb wanting "a wittle talking time" when I come to tuck him in bed stage
  • The Donut Stage. Where they crawl around holding the plastic donuts all the time and never want to let go. All my boys have gone through this one.

Facilitating your pie

All right. Here's the recipe.

Mom’s Pie Crust (makes 2 crusts)
2 c. flour, sifted
2/3 c. plus 2 T. shortening

1 tsp salt
4 T. ice water
Cut shortening into dry ingredients, then add water. Stir until it forms a ball. (Can add a tiny bit more water if needed.) Divide in half and flatten each half into a disc. Place each between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll out to make top and bottom crusts.

Berry Pie
A boatload of berries. I like raspberries + blackberries. Maybe 6 cups? Or more. Put them in a large bowl.
Stir in: 1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 c. cornstarch
---or so! Till it's as sweet as you like it. Let sit for 10 min.
Squeeze half a lemon or lime into it, if you have one. Stir again.
Pour the berries into your bottom crust in the pie pan. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Seal and flute edges. Cut slits in top crust. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar. (This makes it so crunchy and good on top.)

Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes or until crust is nice and golden.

Eat with ice cream.

Repeat as necessary.

A philosophical question

Berries, sugar, cornstarch, a squeeze of lime. And a (lopsided) crust.

Butter. Mmm.

Plenty of cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.

Nice and golden.

Why is it that we ever eat anything other than pie?


The one

This is the one I like.

I like how he weighs the ice cream bowls to make sure they're even.
I like how he says "omp omp omp" when he bites someone.
I like it when he winks at me. *wink wink*
I like how whenever he eats toast, he raises it up in the air: "A toast!"
I like how our names spell "S.A.M.M.S." (Did he plan that?)
I like him in his new jeans. Weet-weew!
I like that weird bump on the back of his head.
I like it when I'm playing the organ at church and I look down at him and he's biting Malachi on the toes.
I like how he says "full": "Foooool."
I like how he makes sad, moaning noises when he's falling asleep and then tries to pretend he was just clearing his throat or something.
I like how he chases me up the stairs. (I scream.)
I like his hands.
I like how we make bets about things and come up with prizes and he always tries to figure out a way to make me win.
I like how he yells at the refs on TV. (I do it too.) Yes, they can hear us.
I like hating things with him. Like Jack from LOST, Harry Potter, Elijah Wood, and the Utes.
I like it when he starts out with, "Did you have anything planned for tonight? . . . "
I like it when he assumes (erroneously) I'll know what he's talking about. "Can you believe the side-specter rendering on that picture?! Looks like someone really messed up their aspect ratio, ha ha ha."
I like how he picks things up. With his toes.
I like him.
Lucky me.

Fwuffballs, part II

"Look, Mommy! Biiiiiig, SQUARE fwuffballs!!"

I think my son loves fwuffballs more than people.
Also, he sleeps with them now.

On the other hand, many large hills are not Marilyns

Map of Marilyns in Britain and Ireland

Looking at all the good things that are named "Melissa" on my friend Melissa's blog has caused me to reflect wistfully on my own moment in the sun. I refer, of course, to Hurricane Marilyn. At the time, my mom would cut out articles from the newspaper and leave them out for me to read---"Marilyn Rips through Gulf Coast," "Marilyn Gaining Potency over Haiti," and so forth. There's nothing like reading "Marilyn's remnant circulation meandered over the central tropical Atlantic Ocean for another 10 days before becoming absorbed in a frontal system" to really get your self-confidence going (thanks, Mom).*

[There are a couple of other famous Marilyns, as you know: Monroe, of course, and Manson (who is a MAN, were you aware of that?! I don't think he should be allowed to name himself that). Also a woman named Marilyn who has written many religious poems which are quite amazing. I would quote one for you, but she is apparantly NOT amenable to such an idea, so I will merely direct you here to see for yourself. I don't feel I can really claim any kinship with any of these Marilyns, however.]

But now, thanks to Wikipedia, I find myself once again in the spotlight as a "type of mountain or hill in Great Britain." While I do not consider myself a real Anglophile**; still, I have fond memories of my time there and hope to go back someday, so I am pleased to find myself in a sense already part of the landscape. Maybe it's narcissistic of me, but I derive almost endless amusement from reading sentences like these:
Many of the islands' largest hills are Marilyns. . . On the other hand, many large hills are not Marilyns because they do not have sufficient relative height.

Around half of the Donalds are also Marilyns.

So how do you work out which hills are just hills and which ones are prized Marilyns? Happily, there is a list.

Some hillwalkers attempt to climb as many Marilyns as possible as a form of "Peak bagging." (Known as "Marilyn-bagging")

Some radio amateurs attempt to operate from the summit of every Marilyn.

Furthermore, having a go at a Marilyn can take you beyond the well-worn paths up worn-out hills. ***

And so forth. Very entertaining (and informative!).

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of "Marilyn: Beneath the Surface." Join us soon for another fascinating episode.

*Marilyn was directly responsible for 8 deaths, 5 in St. Thomas, 1 in St. John, 1 in St. Croix and 1 in Culebra (Puerto Rico). Most drowned and were on boats at docks or offshore. Marilyn also caused severe damage to the U.S. Virgin Islands, in particular to St. Thomas.

**Let me take this chance to remind you, however, that "he who tires of London, tires of life, for there is in London all that life can afford."

***And to those of you who are finding some sort of innuendo in these statements, please! Restrain yourselves!

An Eggciting Morning

This is a story about an egg.

And a baby who loves that egg.

It's a maraca egg, so it swishes and hisses when you shake it. It's just the right size for baby hands. Malachi carries it around with him everywhere, and bites it, and shakes it, and waves it at you when he's excited.

The other day, Abe and Seb called me from downstairs, so I went down to see what they wanted, and I left Malachi up playing in the loft upstairs. Suddenly we heard, "wump! thump! swish! wump! swish! thump! swish! wump! swish! waaaaaaaa!"

Yes. It was Malachi falling down the stairs with his maraca. Luckily he landed on the landing instead of going all the way down, (did you realize that's why it's called a "landing"?) and he wasn't hurt. In fact, I am very sorry to report that the first thing the three of us did when we saw him, and the fallen maraca beside him, was laugh.

Is that bad? We hugged him and kissed him a lot after that. Really.


Piles of pancakes

It's peach season again! Hooray!


Seb (a photo montage)


"Mommy, this is a washer that says 'monka-monka-monka'!"
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