Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Nutrition Warrior

Hello everyone,

I'm going to preface this email by saying that I realize that my updates are quite long and rambling and if you don't care to or have time to read them I will not be offended. =] I'm not sending these to you because I think you really want this much detail on our lives. I just enjoy writing about what's happening with us so I figure I might as well send it on.

Since I am currently recovering from an acute saturated fat overdose, I thought it would be a fine time to write my update. Despite beginning my day in a promising fashion with a wholesome "Grains and Nuts" whole grain cooked cereal, things went sharply downhill for the rest of the day. Lunch consisted of a Costco polish sausage and sweet potato french fries (quite delish, by the way) and a chocolate hazelnut milkshake from Burgerville (the Northwest's version of In' N 'Out Burger- fast food that is fresh and fatty instead of processed and fatty), followed by Taco Bell for dinner. Even splitting the shake and fries with the kids could not assuage my guilt for having my only vegetables of the day be deep fried. I don't count the miniscule amount of lettuce that appears on a 7-layer Burrito- maybe I should. Wait a second, it had guacamole- that's a green vegetable, so I'm good.

If you ignore today's lack of nutrition, we have been making definite strides in eating healthier. For all that I mouthed off about the nutrition enrichment, I suppose I should grudgingly admit that it had at least some of it's desired effect: since then I have tried to incorporate more whole grains and fresh foods into our diet, although I still use my microwave and drink pasteurized milk regularly without even a twinge of guilt. My first adventure with whole grains was to make millet for breakfast. It tasted pretty good at the Enrichment, so I figured it was a good place to start. I was not about to wake up 1 hour early to cook it, but being a resourceful person, I found a recipe on the internet for millet made overnight in the slow cooker. Feeling very proud of myself, I went to bed anticipating the nutritional delight that would await me in the morning. I knew better than to even attempt to get Jared to try it in the few minutes before he gets on the bus, but when he was off, I came back for my breakfast, lifted the lid of the slow-cooker and inhaled the delicious aroma of... play-doh. Hmmm. This didn't seem quite the same as whatever we had at Enrichment. I tried it and the flavor was not much more enticing than the aroma. Luckily, just about anything can be made edible with enough quantities of brown sugar and canned milk, although by the time I was done it was probably nutritionally no better than Fruit Loops.

Undeterred by my less-than-delectable breakfast, I valiantly pressed on in my quest for nutrition with whole grains. I ground whole-wheat pastry flour from soft white wheat and made whole-wheat Millet Muffins. I found the recipe on and it was a five star recipe (the best rating), so I was eager to try it. I even substituted applesauce for half of the oil to make them lower fat. I was so excited when they came out of the oven and the kids took their first delicious bite. "Mommy, we don't like these muffins." I should have known better: the kids' version of "muffins" involves either a cake mix and frosting or a fattening concoction dipped in butter and cinnamon-sugar. I tried the millet muffins myself and they were actually pretty good, but they were not exactly what I would call five-star muffins. So I came to a conclusion: if any recipe has the word "millet" in the title, you should just automatically decrease it's rating by two stars. This all started to make more sense when I did a search for millet on the internet and it said, "Millet, also known as birdseed, is one of the most nutritious foods for birds. However, it is also very nutritious for humans..." Or, from "A small-grained, rather inferior cereal from the tropics and warm temperate regions, grown in poor areas or as emergency crops mainly for animal feed and bird seed."
Later on in the week we settled for making waffles with whole wheat pastry flour and that was super-yummy. Even the kids liked it.

My terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad day last week actually came to a pleasant end. Despite fears that we would have to cancel because of the weather, Dave and I went to a Trailblazers game that night (Dave's Christmas present from me). We saw them play the Cleveland Cavaliers so we could see the famous LeBron James in action. Last year I got Dave tickets to see the Warriors play Cleveland (also we so we could see LeBron). Unfortunately, we seem to be bad luck for Mr. James: whenever we go to see him he has an off game. However, it was a great game for Portland: we stomped on Cleveland. =]

This whole week seemed to go a lot better. I have been getting back into my workouts at the YMCA and I went to my first group aerobics class since college. Despite having extremely unpleasant memories of leaving at 5:45 in the morning in the freezing cold to go to the Richards Building for step aerobics during winter of my sophomore year, glaring at our perky instructor who was energetic with perfect hair and make-up at 6:00 am (What was I thinking? How on earth did my roomate talk me into that?), I decided to give step another chance. The class that I tried was at the end of their month with a routine, so instead of breaking down the steps, they flew through the routine with the instructor yelling out unintelligible code like: "Right up, glut, knee, glut; Side, repeater, option, ski: mambo, angel, sidewalk back." I managed to make it through the class feeling quite uncoordinated but not like a complete idiot. It was a good workout, but maybe next time I'll come at the beginning of the month.

This week I have been obsessed with painting. Maybe it's just having lived in a house painted white-white for almost 10 years growing up, but I have been so excited about choosing colors for our bathroom, master bedroom, laundry room and another bedroom. When I paint color samples on a wall I feel like a two-year-old armed with crayons. It's way too much fun. At one point we had 10 different color samples painted on the wall of our bathroom. After hours of debating colors, $30 on samples at Home Depot and yet more time and money spent on samples at Sherwin Williams, on Thursday I finally painted our master bathroom. Yes, I am proud to say, I did it by myself, taping, priming and painting. After 7 months of hating it, I finally removed the old lady pink floral wall-paper border and got rid of the white wall sponge-painted with pink and blue.

I actually ended up using one of my Home Depot colors and since I felt guilty for spending so much on samples I decided to see if I could get away with using only the quart of a paint I had bought as a sample. Ha ha. I wasn't even through half of the bathroom when it became apparent that I was getting close to the bottom. I scraped the sides of the can and kept painting until I used the very last drop and I was not even close. I really wanted to finish that night, but I looked at the clock and realized it was 8:56 pm. I raced to Home Depot, but when I got there, the front doors were already locked. What to do? I was desperate to finish, so I went in through the exit and asked the cashier if there was anyone in the paint deparment. "No, we're closed." Crestfallen, I just stood there for several minutes, not knowing what to do. The cashier finally asked me, "Do you have a question?" Holding out the lid of my paint can, I said, "I'm in the middle of a project and I ran out of paint. I needed to get another gallon so I can finish it." She must have noticed the green paint in my hair, my paint-splotched clothes and the brown high-heeled shoes that were oddly out of place with my paint jeans, because she took pity on me and went and mixed the paint for me herself.

So now our bathroom is painted. The green walls look great in natural light, but in the part away from the window it looks like a cave. I guess I am learning a lot about paint colors by trial and error, but mostly error. At least it looks better than it did before. What I realized from this experience is that I love debating about paint colors and painting samples on the wall much more than I enjoy actually painting a room.

Dave has been very busy at work recently. He has a big deadline coming up so he has been putting in a lot of hours. He had to go in to work today, but we got to go to Home Depot to shop first. While we were there, I noticed that Jared's pants looked kind of tight and much shorter than usual. He turned around and there were hearts embroidered on his back pockets. I guess he accidentally put on Camryn's pants this morning. So Jared went shopping at Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco and more in skin-tight "capris" with hearts embroidered on the back. Oops. At least Camryn's not old enough to be offended that Jared can fit into her pants. =] We finished the day out with shopping and more shopping. Jared has taken to telling me, "Mom, you're wasting our money," when he gets sick of shopping. Funny that he says that while I'm buying zucchini, but not when I'm buying cookies.

Hope you all are doing well.



Quotes and Notes of the Week:

We made "silly soup" for dinner, where we each chose an ingredient to put in. Jared, when asked to eat it: "Mom, I think you're making it because you like it, not because we like it."
Dave: "It's already Friday tomorrow? Shocking."
Jared: "Why is it shocking?"
Camryn discovered that mini carrots are the perfect shape for sticking up one's nose.
Camryn has apparently caught the cooking bug from Jared. I camed downstairs to check on her tonight because I heard suspicious noises in the kitchen.
Camryn: "I just maked-ed you a tasty treat. It's a mandarine. I followed the directions. I got sugar, then sprinkles, then baking powder, then salt."
Jared: "I tried it. It doesn't taste very good at all."
Jared must have noticed that I slept today and when he didn't have school on Friday. Jared: "Mommy, you should go to bed right after we do. Then you won't have to sleep later that we do in the morning. Then you can have more time to play."
Camryn: "I washed-ed my hands and wiped-ed my face."
Camryn: "I flushed-ed the potty and wiped-ed my hands and there wasn't a flood." [Maybe Camryn noticed that we had 3 different potties get clogged this week....]
Jared:"That package says 'Bed in a Bag.'"
Jared: "That says, "Winco Foods."
Jared: "That sign says, "Products." [Close, it was actually "Produce."]

Thursday, January 18, 2007

You Had A Bad Day

Last Saturday I went and bought quarts of 3 colors of paint that I was considering for our bedroom. I had narrowed it down by hours of debate and was sure that I would love any one of these 3 colors. I got them home and painted 8 1/2 x11 paper with the colors to have a bigger sample. After they dried, I held them up in our room and thought, "What was I thinking? None of these colors is right for our room. They are WAY off. I just wasted $30 on paint that we aren't going to ever use."

Yesterday was a bad day. It was our second day of being "snowed in" (with school cancelled). I decided to put aside my distaste for being cold (and wet snow stuff all over the hous) and take the kids sledding with the neighbors again. After spending hours getting wet and cold, we came back and dumped all of our snow stuff in our living room and tried to get lunch on, two hours late. At this point I started to take a look around our house and notice the piles of stuff in random places, the dishes and leftover food decaying in the sink, the food getting ground into the carpet and the piles of laundry waiting to be done.

The kids got cranky from sledding too long instead of eating lunch and then argued all afternoon in between TV shows (after all, who gets to turn off the TV first when they are done is a BIG issue). We went to Jared's gymnastics class at 4:00 only to find that it had been cancelled. No problem, I thought, I'll just have the kids go to childwatch while I have a quick workout. I got them dropped off and went to get changed for my workout and realized that I forgot my gym shoes. So I picked the kids up to go home and they were ticked at me because they wanted to play at childwatch. When I told Jared that we had to go home because I forgot my shoes, he said, "I thought grown-ups were supposed to know more than kids." Then he and Camryn fought the whole way home over sharing the Wheat Thins that they begged off of the lady at childwatch. I finally lost my temper and yelled at them, telling them that if they didn't stop being mean to each other they were going to both go to bed for the rest of the day.

When I got home, I was left to wallow in my failure. This is so stupid, I thought. I can't do anything. I can't keep organized, I can't get up on time, I can't keep my house clean, I can't keep my kids from killing each other, I can't make lunch on time, I can't keep my kids from watching hours of TV a day, I can't serve vegetables or whole grains with our meals, I can't get dressed at a reasonable hour of the morning, I can't do the dishes or keep up with the laundry, I can't keep algae from growing in our bathroom sink, I can't remember my shoes, I can't get the kids to bed on time or stick to my budget or get out of store in less than 45 minutes.... I'm beginning to wonder, is there anything I can do? Well, I guess I can write an update about how much it stunk.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jared the Negotiator

Hello everyone,

Life goes on for the Oregon Porters. On Thursday I had to get Camryn caught up on her immunizations, so we took her to the doctor after preschool for the dreaded shots. To my complete surprise, she didn't cry at all during her shot. Then they came out and said they had to give her a second one and she didn't cry during that one either! I was amazed and impressed. What a brave girl!

On Sunday, we made steak for dinner with the yummy sea salt with herbs that Jen gave us for Christmas. Jared suddenly became convinced that steak was his favorite food and ate a whole piece by himself. Dave had a proud moment as a father when Jared said, "This steak is SO good. The pink part and the sea salt make the steak taste good." He has taught him well: medium or rarer is the only way to have steak. For that dinner we also had broiled zucchini and wilted spinach with garlic and oil. Jared "didn't hate" the spinach, but he only liked it a little bit. In his own words: "I liked the spinach this much [putting his fingers a 1/4 inch apart], I liked the zucchini this much [putting his fingers a 1/2 inch apart], and I liked the steak THIS much! [putting his arms as wide apart as they would go]

In spite of my annoyance and frustration with our recent health-food enrichment, I still was inspired to try to incorporate more whole grains and natural foods into our diet. So, taking advantage of our day off from school on Monday, I followed the health food lady's advice and drove 30 minutes with the kids to Bob's Red Mill, to browse their huge store of every imaginable kind of whole grain and health food. Jared was so thrilled with the idea of going that he drew a picture of a windmill and wrote "BOBS RED MIL" on it, to give to them. He and Camryn were so excited to see the real waterwheel they had in front, despite the fact that it was frozen over. I realized that I truly am a shopping addict when I can be happy as can be, browsing aisles with several different types of oatmeal, comparing whole-wheat farina to gluten-free rice farina and debating between millet grits or hulled millet. I also realized that I am more like my mom than I suspected: I really am a collector, I just collect different things than my mom does. So, since we had driven 30 minutes to this mecca of whole grains and health I HAD to get at least a decent sampling of what they had to offer. So, in addition to picking up some hard white wheat (for bread making), soft white wheat (for making biscuits and pancakes), and hard red wheat (to fill out the group), we got muesli, two different kinds of granola, two different types of hot cereal, whole wheat farina, arborio rice (for making risotto), whole-wheat farina, hulled millet and millet grits (since I didn't know which was better I HAD to get both), steel-cut oats, scottish oats and fresh-ground peanut butter. (The kids HAD to get some when they saw the machine that ground peanuts into peanut butter. They were confused when they didn't like it. I guess sugar-free peanut butter isn't as tasty as Skippy.) So now I have enough whole grains for us to live off of for at least two months and I spent double what my estimate was at the cash register. Ouch. But at least I can revel in how healthy our family is going to be with all of these nutritious things in our diet, um, cupboard.

After our fun outing to Bob's Red Mill, complete with a whole-grain peanut-butter cookie (yum!), we ran into Old Navy to return a shirt. While I was looking at a map to figure out how to get to Old Navy, Jared pointed to part of the map and said, "That says 'Happy Valley.'" Sure enough, it did! While we were at Old Navy, I happened to stumble across an AMAZING clearance sale, so in spite of our post-Christmas spending moratorium, I bought a, er, um, a few things. Okay, you'll have to excuse me if I brag for a moment here, but I bought Camryn some turtlenecks and leggings for next year for $1.99 each! I got a two-pack of girls tights for 99 cents, several sweaters for me for $6.49 (including one I almost bought earlier in the winter for $30) and a denim jacket for $8.50. Jared and Camryn entertained themselves by finding footballs and soccerballs that they had for sale and kicking them around the store and throwing them into baskets. Jared decided that he could not live without an iridescent blue soccer ball, so he opened up negotiations, continuing throughout the whole 10 minute checkout line and up until we left the store. Jared: "Mom, we really need to get a soccer ball today." "No, Jared, we're not buying it." "But mom, the ball is not for me. It's for you and dad to play with. Dad would love a soccer ball. I need to get it to give to him." He would not let up: he just pushed and pushed until finally, the girl at the cash register started laughing and said, "I swear this kid is going to grow up to be a lawyer."

After Old Navy, it was late, but I had to run into Costco to pick up some pictures. We had spent so long out shopping that I just got the kids Costco hot dogs and lemonade for dinner. (Maybe we'll have some whole grains tomorrow....) In spite of the fact that we just needed to get one thing at Costco, we picked up a few things and ended up leaving the store just around the kids' bedtime. Bigger ouch.

So as we were driving home, we went past Michaels. I debated because it was so late, but I just needed one thing: a photo storage box that was on sale for $1.50. I was just going to go back and get it the next day, but it was all the way in Tualatin and that would waste gas and wouldn't be earth-friendly, so it was definitely morally better to just run in and pick up the box now and reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil. So I ran into the store with the kids to get "just one thing," but of course I looked at the scrapbook paper that was on sale and then the kids had to go to the bathroom and then I got a call from Dave saying, "Where ARE you? It's past the kids' bedtime and you aren't even home yet." I sheepishly told him that I was at Michael's "getting just one thing" and that we were about to leave. So we did leave, with $20 worth of stuff (yes, more than just one thing) and I put the kids immediately to bed when we got home (with a Costco pizza slice for Dave as a peace offering for being so late). I would have felt much more guilty about keeping the kids out so late, except the next day we woke up to 2 inches of snow and Jared didn't have to get up for school. What amazing luck! However, I think that I have conclusively proven that: 1) I am completely incapable of going into a store and getting "just one thing." 2) For me, being fast in a store means getting out in less than 30 minutes. 3) When we are on a budget I should just avoid stores altogether.

So yesterday we were snowed in: there was no school and Dave's boss paged him to tell him to stay home from work (How often does THAT ever happen?). So Dave got to work from home and I took the kids out sledding with the neighbors on a side street that had a slight slope. I got Dave to take a break in the middle of the day to watch a movie and we generally had a very good time. The snow still hasn't melted, so we still have two inches. Even though Jared didn't have school today, Dave did have to go back in to work. Unfortunately, in all of the snow play, movie watching and hot chocolate, we have had a pile-up of dishes and general mess, so I'd better go start the excavation.

Hope you all have a great week! Love,


Quotes of the week:
Jared's Word of the Week: Dis-esplode (explode)
Jared: After we had tilapia for dinner, Jared said he was full, so he asked me to put his leftover tilapia in the fridge for tomorrow. About 30 seconds later, he asked if he could have an orange. I said, "I thought you were too full for tilapia." Jared answered, "The orange doesn't have as many calories."
Jared: "I like steak better than anything except candy." Dave: "I like steak better than candy." Jared: "Actually I like BOTH steak and candy."
Camryn: This is ridick-a-lous!
Camryn: I'm going to grow into a mommy soon.
Jared wrote: "MOM. I. RUD. 1000. LAPS" (Mom, I runned 1000 laps)
Jared (to Dave): If you and mom do 1 job for me, I'll give you a penny. If you do 3 jobs for me, I'll give you a penny and a dime. Then you'll have 11 cents.
Jared: "I want to be a rescue hero when I grow up!" Camryn: "I want to be a princess when I grow up. A beautiful thing that lives with a prince." (Aaack! What am I teaching her!)

Jared's shopping list:
SELREE (celery)
APPOLS (apples)
CERITS (carrots)

Jared and Camryn, over dinosaur vitamins (Camryn got the coveted Tyrannasaurus Rex and Jared got Triceratops): Jared: "Camryn, do you want to trade with me?" C: "No." J: "But, yours is the scariest one of all. It will go RAAAAAAAAAAR!!" C:"But it's not real." J:"But it will bite your head off. It just goes RAAAAAAR, but this one goes, "purrr, purrr". So do you want to trade me?" C: "Okay."

Yep, Jared the negotiator.

Friday, January 12, 2007

E for Enrichment

Last night I went to Enrichment. It had been a busy week already and Dave didn't get home until 7:30, so I was half an hour late to begin with. I wandered around the church until I found the room where they were having it, adjacent to the kitchen. It was a presentation on nutrition and healthy eating. I was struck by the irony on the fliers: "Come and learn nutrition basics and how to establish lifelong healthy eating habits. As a bonus, learn to make and sample some of so and so's famous cinnamon rolls." Hmmm, that should get us off to a good start.

Someone in the ward was presenting in the kitchen, with her daughter helping her, meanwhile preparing samples of healthy food for everyone to try. They obviously put a lot of work into it, making samples of 7 or 8 different dishes for the entire Relief Society. Maybe it was just the mood I was in, but I just thought, "Oh great. What a wonderful night for a presentation on nutrition. Now I can sit here in the back by myself feeling guilty about feeding my children a diet of honey-nut cheerios, chicken nuggets and peanut butter sandwiches, pondering on what a terrible mother I am for stunting their growth and health by malnourishment."

Sure enough, we got to hear about the evils of cold cereal (my favorite meal!), the highly toxic nature of preservatives, and the nutritional emptiness of anything processed or out of a box. It is not enough to eat oatmeal for breakfast; in order to be REALLY nutritious, one has to eat steel-cut oats (which take only 30 minutes to cook- she obviously doesn't know that I wake up at 7:18 each morning and Jared gets on the bus at 7:32). Other acceptable alternatives are cooked millet, rye porridge or whole-wheat pancakes- all with honey, no sugar. I was surprised to find that the cooked millet with honey was actually surprisingly tasty. Unfortunately, millet takes the longest to cook of all the grains, coming in at 1 hour.

Nonetheless, I was motivated to try to incorporate some more healthy things into our diet. The beets were not all that delectable, but the brown rice with sauteed vegetables, eggplant parmesan and whole-wheat pancakes were all very tasty. But as the evening wore on, I soon learned that this would not be enough of a change to our diet to avoid certain disease, disfigurement and death. I would need to bake our own bread, because store-bought whole-wheat bread is not the same nutritionally (or morally, I am sure). I would need to get rid of the horrible canned or frozen vegetables that I have been giving my children and replace them with only fresh vegetables that are organic and not nutritionally depleted. I would need to buy rutabagas and kale and beets. I would need to throw out all of the oil in my food storage and replace it with grapeseed oil and extra-virgin olive oil that has not been chemically processed (incidentally, this oil will not keep and you should buy a small amount so it won't go rancid). I would need to throw out everything in my pantry that is processed or comes in a box. I would need to grind my own wheat and faithfully feed my children unsweetened yogurt or acidophilus supplements.

This was hard to stomach (ha, ha) on a night when I was tired and worn out to begin with, but I could definitely see some merit in trying to eat less sugar, more whole grains, and more unprocessed natural foods, despite my lack of energy to actually attempt it. But even this was not enough. After the presentation, they opened it up to questions and I found there was yet more that I was doing to ruin my children's health.... like cooking their food in the microwave. Apparently, food should never be cooked in the microwave because it "changes the molecular structure of the food" in ways that are unhealthy. Someone ventured to ask if it was harmful to heat water in the microwave and was answered with, "Water has a molecular structure, doesn't it?" Someone asked what kind of milk was best and the presenter said, "I have a strong opinion about that, but I can't share it with you." She did, eventually, share it with us anyway and we were informed that raw, unpasteurized milk is the healthiest and best kind, although it is semi-illegal in many states and they could not divulge where they got theirs.

By this time I was in the back fuming. "I have spent two hours hearing about the dangers of microwaves and feeling guilty when I could be with my husband, who could explain to me how microwaves work in the first place. Where is my chemical engineer when I need him?" I did venture to say, "I had heard that it was actually healthier to microwave vegetables because it uses less water and doesn't lose as many nutrients," but as I was at Relief Society, I lost my nerve to be confrontational and added, "so is that counteracted by the negative effects of microwaving it?"

The Enrichment lasted until 9:25 and in the midst of all the information we were getting, they forgot to show us how to make cinnamon rolls, so they did a 30 second summary instead, and then served us cinnamon rolls -- which were at least 5 inches across and probably 600 calories each-- for dessert. (Is it just me, or would eating this counteract the effect of quite a few servings of brown rice or rye porridge?) I tried to say hi to a few of my friends, but it was late enough that most people were in a hurry to get home. I was about to make a slightly sarcastic comment to the girl next to me when she said, "I'm so glad I came. This was such a great presentation." So instead, I went home and ranted to Dave for 30 minutes straight and had him show me, as someone who knows a little bit about chemistry, exactly why microwaves are NOT harmful and perfectly safe.

The last time I felt this way at Enrichment was at a meeting in our old ward in Menlo Park. The presentation was also on cooking for your family, but it was on saving money on your food budget. The woman who gave the presentation, bless her heart, had had 12 children and knew EXACTLY how everyone should cook to be more frugal and economical. It involved making everything yourself, out of white flour and sugar and cream of mushroom soup. That was the last time I sat in the back feeling guilty for buying cold cereal (but for a different reason). I heartily disagreed with this woman because all of the recipes she gave us were HORRIBLE nutritionally: all white flour, canned, high fat, high preservatives. I would much rather spend a little bit extra on my groceries and serve healthy food than to be as economical as possible and be fat and sick. One of my good friends (who actually often made homemade whole wheat bread for her three kids age 5 and under) ventured to raise her hand and asked, "Nowadays, in the age of Costco, is there ever a time when it is just more efficient to buy things than to make them yourself?" and she was answered with an indignant, "No, never! It's always better and cheaper to make it yourself." End of discussion.

So I have had the experience of sitting in Enrichment, feeling guilty that I didn't make white flour pancakes or muffins for my family instead of cold cereal and that I spent exorbitant amounts of money on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of making inexpensive casseroles out of tuna, grated cheese and cream of chicken soup. I have also sat in another Enrichment feeling guilty that I don't make steel-cut oats or rye porridge for my children, I don't buy organic vegetables or raw milk, for buying my whole-wheat bread instead of making it myself, and for daring to risk my children's health by microwaving their meals (which is worse- the chicken nuggets or the fact that they were microwaved?).

Maybe we should just stick to crafts.


  • Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive. -Wallace Irwin
  • Eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling. -Dave Barry
  • Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. -Gilbert K. Chesterton
  • American consumers have no problem with carcinogens, but they will not purchase any product, including floor wax, that has fat in it. -Dave Barry
  • My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four; unless there are three other people. -Orson Welles
  • McDonalds announced it’s considering a more humane way of slaughtering its animals. You know they fatten them up and then kill them. You know the same thing they do to their customers, isn’t it?- Jay Leno

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Once There Was A Snowman

Well, I knew it couldn't last. After three consecutive days of Dave getting home before 7:00 last week, Dave celebrated the weekend by working until 9:30 pm on Friday night. (Afterward, he resolved to never try to start a new thing at work on a Friday afternoon). At least it meant Dave didn't have to work Saturday. Luckily, I had my new-found scrapbooking to keep me company, so I did a few scrapbook pages while watching reruns of Growing Pains on TV. (Do you have any idea how ridiculous late 80's fashions look? It boggles my mind that they are coming back in style.)

After making my first official scrapbook page ever last week, this week I continued with pages 2-5. For as long as I can remember, I have consciously avoided scrapbooking for several reasons:

1) Intimidation: Scrapbooking is one of those things that many girls/women pursue to the point of obsession, laboriously documenting every single event in their lives or the life of anyone remotely related to them with an impossibly cute, painstakingly embellished page or two. Attempting to make sufficiently cute pages as an inexperienced novice might subject me to the scorn and ridicule of my peers.
2) Dislike of the Procrastination and Guilt Cycle: In order to be a scrapbooker, one needs to have elaborately ornamented photo-documentation for your entire life, or at least every event in the life of your children. This would make me already hopelessly behind. Why give myself one more thing that I have to catch up in?
3) Fear of Commitment: Would this mean that I would have to give up other relationships and change my lifestyle? What about and Costco photo albums? Will I have to re-do all of my previous work? 4) Skepticism: It seemed like a waste of time. Could it really be enjoyable to spend so much time/energy/money for a page of embeliished pictures? Isn't there something more productive I could do with my time than cutting and pasting paper and photos?
5) Lack of Talent: Despite being blessed with some amount of artistic sensibility, my talents don't lie in the visual arts. To make it worse, I don't have a cutesy bone in my body. How can someone who likes things simple and understated survive in such a cutesy-saturated hobby?
6) Pride: C'mon, EVERYBODY scrapbooks. Where is my originality? Can't I have a unique hobby like making creations out of duct tape?

Despite all of these initial misgivings, I realized that making a few scrapbook pages will not commit me to a lifetime of scrapbooking as my sole hobby or require me to give up all other forms of crafting or photo-documentation, and I proceeded to explore this as a new possibility for entertainment.

This all got started when, for Christmas, Dave bought me a really cool personal electronic cutter. I wasn't quite sure what it was, but after brief explanation, I figured out that it will cut letters or shapes out of paper for scrapbooking and craft projects. Which is really nifty, except that I (until this very last week) was not a scrapbooker and, in fact, had never done a single scrapbook page (unless you count a very primitive single page done years ago at an activity in my Young Women days). Resisting my first impulse to be offended (thinking that maybe Dave thought that I was an inadequate wife because I didn't scrapbook and was trying to drop a hint....) I realized that Dave had really thought about this gift. I have been to some "Stamping Up" and other crafting parties recently and liked them, so Dave thought I might want to give scrapbooking a try. What I also did not realize is that the electronic cutter or "Cricut" that he bought me is among the most coveted scrapbooking accessories and that I would be envied by scrapbookers all over the ward. So I decided to overcome my misgivings and give scrapbooking a try and so far have been enjoying it a lot.

Then....... I saw the Mastercard bill and I realized that this was a major little toy that Dave bought me (apparently, everybody was envious for a very good reason...) and I proceeded to get mad that Dave would be so frivolous and go overbudget like that. Then it hit me, "What am I thinking? What message am I sending? I always want my husband to do nice thoughtful things for me, and when he does come up with a thoughtful present and spends a bit of money on it, instead of being excited, I get mad that he would be frivolous." So, I quickly and sincerely repented and have since been thoroughly enjoying my electronic paper cutter. It is actually very cool and useful- kind of like a female version of power tools. =] I also realized that it is surprisingly fun and extremely therapeutic to cut and paste pictures and embellishments. It also serves as a way of documenting and validating my life: yes, I actually do something all day with these kids.

Well, our week has been pretty good so far. We had friends over for dinner on Sunday and Dave wowed me by making sugared walnuts for our salad AND making Susan's Cranberry Cake -sauce and all- by himself. Wow, there is something so attractive about a man that cooks. We had friends over again for family night on Monday. I gave a great lesson on obedience, punctuated with demands for Jared to come back and listen to me. Camryn was a lost cause from the beginning. ("Noah obeyed Heavenly Father and built the ark.... hey, Jared get back here and sit down! Nephi was very obedient to ---- Jared will you stop running in circles and yelling!"). But we had fun and the kids at least learned from the lesson that following directions is important if you want your apple cake to turn out yummy.

The kids went to bed late, so Jared had yet another morning of missing the bus, although this time it was intentional on our part, so he could get a few minutes extra sleep. The kids woke up anyway, two minutes before the bus comes- so they didn't have extra sleep, but I still had to drive him to school.

This week I made a startling discovery: if I load and run the dishwasher three times every day, our kitchen stays relatively clean. Despite my lack of skill in the dish department, I have actually had several consecutive days of keeping our kitchen presentable. I have continued in my unusual streak of domesticity by keeping our downstairs clean and tidy for several days in succession. This would create a pleasant surge in my self-esteem at my remarkable domestic efficiency if not, at the same time, we have larger and larger heaps of clean laundry, wrinkling in baskets, sitting unfolded in the master bedroom. We have now had several mornings in a row of digging through the whites basket at 7:26 a.m., looking frantically in vain for a pair of clean socks for Jared. Luckily, last night he slept in his socks, so we were O.K. even though we couldn't find a clean pair. Unfortunately, I have also discovered that despite my several dutiful days of dish diligence, it takes only one missed load before the kitchen is a disaster again...

On Sunday, Camryn graduated from Nursery and had her first day of Primary! She is now a Sunbeam (and a very sunny one, at that). She was VERY excited to go to primary and sing "I Am a Child of God" with all the big kids. She was very proud that her mommy and daddy were doing singing time (which was a very fun game involving putting together pieces of a snowman- with songs on the back). She was thrilled with everything until, during Singing Time, despite raising her hand ever-so-diligently her Daddy would not choose her to pick a piece of the snowman. She was crushed. She did not realize that Daddy was not discriminating against her; he was pulling sticks with names on them from a jar and the children were being chosen at random. She was so sad that she was on the verge of tears (one of the other Sunbeams was in tears because the other Noah was picked instead of him), so daddy finished Singing Time holding Camryn on one hip, assuring her that he really did love her, even though she wasn't chosen for the snowman. I am finding a lot of use out of recycling materials from the last time I was Primary Music Director: this week we woke up on Sunday morning and realized we had forgotten to plan music time. No problem. I pulled out my nicely laminated snowman pieces, put song names on the back and voila! It also helps to have 11:30 church. =]

In other news, Camryn and Jared are taking a break from swimming lessons (too cold to go out of the YMCA with wet hair and too much work to change into and out of a swimsuit and shower on both ends for a 30 minute class, and I'm tired of Camryn insisting on a girl teacher) and are taking gymnastics instead. Jared is lobbying to take rock climbing, but I'm still debating. I let him try rock climbing at the open climb at the YMCA yesterday and he was SO excited. Yesterday it snowed and this morning it snowed again (enough to stick to grass and roofs). Jared and Camryn each gathered up a snowball from the 1/4 inch that had accumulated on our back deck and put them in the freezer for safekeeping. Despite the cold, it is beautiful and sunny today, which is a nice change. Last week I auditioned for and was selected for the Portland Mormon Choir (, so I have rehearsals on Tuesday nights to prepare for a performance of Beethoven's 9th with the Willamette Falls Symphony in February. It is fun to be able to sing again.

I hope you all are doing well. Love,


Quotes of the Week:
Jared: "It else" (instead of "or else")
Camryn: Mommy, can I sit on your laps? Can I sit on your two laps? (Usually one "lap" is for Jared, one "lap" is for Camryn.)

Before I was married, I had a hundred theories about raising children and no children. Now, I have three children and no theories. -John Wilmot

Friday, January 5, 2007

The Felicity of Unbounded Domesticity

Dearest family and friends,

We have started back into real life after a great Christmas holiday. True to form, Dave worked until 8:30 pm the night before we flew to Utah (despite great effort to try to get off early). Luckily, Dave has a highly efficient wife who packed and cleaned and arranged parking at the airport so we were pretty much ready to go anyway. Also, true to form, instead of finishing our packing early and going to bed, Dave and I celebrated the beginning of Christmas Break by getting take-out nachos and salad, renting a few episodes of "24" and going to bed late.

Our trip to the airport and on the airplane was uneventful except for the announcement, 30 minutes into our flight, of some approaching violent turbulence that would make beverage service unsafe. After a few minor bumps, the announced turbulence never arrived and we had a smooth flight with NO DRINKS OR SNACKS, much to Jared's chagrin (for days he had been looking forward to being able to choose his own drink and get soda pop -a.k.a. "frizz" or "fizz"- and airplane crackers). Jared bore his disappointment with fortitude, but Camryn spent the last 30 minutes of the flight asking for juice. I finally asked a stewardess if she could please get her something and she agreed to quickly fill her sippy cup before we started our descent into Salt Lake. Despite the disappointment, the kids were both SO EXCITED to go to Grama Susan's house.

While in Utah we had several fabulous meals, courtesy of Jen, our gourmet chef-in-residence. We spent most of our time generally enjoying ourselves and visiting with relatives. The one downside of the trip was that Jared and I were hit with a fever and sore throat for a few days. We had a great Christmas celebration with lots of feasting, yummy treats and fun gifts all around. During the course of the week we finished the first season of 24 and I am now royally ticked off at the show writers. They could have at least ended a SEASON with some positive closure.

The day after Christmas I was starting to not feel too great, but Dave talked me into going skiing anyway. We had a fabulous time night skiing with Jen at Brighton, which I ended by going down my second black diamond slope, twice. Dave talked me into trying a black diamond with moguls and I was crazy enough to listen to him. (For the uninitiated skiier, moguls are basically large hard lumps of snow/ice dotted throughout the slope that you have to dodge as you ski down a slope that is way too steep to begin with. One does this because it is "more fun.") I started by expertly falling three consecutive times on the first three consecutive turns. After that, I did manage to make it down in one piece, so I tempted fate and tried the same slope again on our next time down. This time I got off to a better start and made it about a third of the way down before slipping and sliding 15 feet or so head first. I finally managed to right myself and get my skis in the right direction and made it the rest of the way, dignity partially intact. In other skiing notes, I also tried going down the half-pipe for my first time. Yes, I sailed up the sheer walls and got 3 feet of air on either side- okay I didn't get any air or even go up the walls, but I managed to make my way down it, gently turning whenever the walls started to rise, without looking very stupid or like I totally didn't know what I was doing (at least according to Jen).

Because of my black-diamond mogul adventure, I spent the next day hobbling around in a semi-crippled state. I then was hit full force by a sore throat and some holiday variety of fever/cold and spent the next few days mostly in bed or in non-strenuous activity. On Friday, Jen, Lisa and Dave were going to go skiing at Alta and I was planning on staying in bed and reading. But Dave warned me that this was my big chance to ski and suggested I could read in the lodge just as well as in bed, and I was, again, talked into going skiing. I had a great ski day, despite my less-than-perfect health and had a great time until our very last run. Near the top, we got hit by a bitterly cold wind and suddenly- for the first time that day- it occurred to me that I was freezing, hungry, tired, sick, my legs felt like jello and burned simultaneously and that I was going to die if I did not get warmth, food and a chair in a matter of minutes. Dogged determination and heroism sustained me to the end of that slope and up the rope tow and the sheer icy cliff that we had to scale to reach our car (okay- it helped that Dave carried my skis up the sheer icy cliff- what are husbands for?). After a warm drive home and a stop at Starbucks for Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Steamed Milk, I was restored to life after a narrow brush with fate. I suppose that I have finally proven myself reckless enough to deserve to be Dave's wife by skiiing while I was sick- twice in one week!

For New Year's Eve, we went to see an exhibit in the church art museum and froze whilst viewing the lights on Temple Square. Then Jen, Lisa and I concocted an amazing feast of guacamole, cereal crunch, raspberry floats, buffalo wings and brie bowl. I just have to insert here that these were no ordinary buffalo wings. I made Wingers wings (using our Wingers sauce that we got for Christmas) with real chicken wings from scratch: yes, I transformed raw pieces of chicken meat through laborious flouring, frying and baking into delectably delicious party munchies. Be impressed! Despite our late-night festivities, we managed to make our flight home the next morning.

Now that we are back at home, I was first hit by two days of complete and total overwhelm-ment (Ack! Dirty laundry and christmas presents everywhere, our christmas tree and ornaments are still sitting in our living room and Dave has to go to work again and Jared's bus comes at 7:30!). Luckily the panic soon subsided. Starting Wednesday, I was hit by a sudden wave of domesticity. I cleaned our house up and, strangely enough, it actually stayed a little bit clean. I swallowed all of my anti-craftsy principles, went to a scrapbooking party and did my very first real scrapbooking page- and enjoyed it. Thursday we had a lovely day, complete with preschool, shopping and a YMCA workout. I made a yummy unhealthy dinner (Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes) and actually did the dishes right afterward. Dave and I watched The Office and then replaced a light fixture, hung pictures and whacked our Christmas Tree into tiny pieces that would fit into our yard recycling bin. I was revelling in the domestic joys of keeping house (okay- maybe I've been hit with some strange sickness again). =] Or maybe this great few days has more to do with the fact that Dave has gotten home before 7:00pm every day this week! And it's Friday already!

Hope you all are doing well!



Quotes of the week:
Camryn: "Our new light looks like a spaceship."
Camryn: "I'm sure glad that we live in this house."
Camryn: "I'm sure glad that you're my mommy!"
Jared: "In my world, you could keep doing what you want and never stop." (to go to the bathroom)
Jared: "In my world kids would do what they want all day long, but not grown-ups. They would still work."
Karen: "How exactly would this be different from what we have now?"

Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home. - Phyllis Diller