Saturday, February 28, 2009

Easy As Pie

I took a pie making class this morning. This is the literal fruit of my labor. You can't tell it in the picture, but that crack you see is actually part of a fancy letter A (for apple) that doubles as venting holes.

You should have seen the bottom crust before I filled it. It was perfect, absolutely flawless. I'm not the only one who thought so either. Someone else at the class commented on it first, causing me to reply, JOKINGLY, that if you can't do something perfectly the first time, you shouldn't do it at all. Does it sound to you like patience is a strength of mine?

Later in the day I had a texting conversation with a very dear friend of mine. (She doesn't read my blog, so she won't know I made part of the convo public unless you tell her.)

HER: ...sometimes answers don't come as soon as we would like them to.

ME: Yeah, I'm becoming pretty familiar with that concept. I can't think of anything since Matt died that has come when I wanted it to.

HER: I hate lessons in patience.

ME: Totally! How do you know when you've learned it?!

HER: ...that whole enduring to the end crap sure does get exhausting to think about...if you figure out life before me...please share.

ME: That seems too big. How 'bout I just let you know when I figure out the banjo?

It's hidden in a lot of fluff, but that's the point of my post today: Life's lessons. How do we know when we've learned them? When the trials and challenges never seem to end, are we not catching on to the lesson? I'd really like to have your thoughts on this one.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Keep Going

Last night I started reading a book called Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance. Just reading the title I was intrigued...Art?...Have you ever thought of putting up with the crap life throws at us as an art form? The book is a collection of conversations between a Lakota man and his grandfather as they teach and learn about life. This is like one of those listings where you can peek into the book before putting it into your cart:

"Grandfather says this: 'Life can give you strength. Strength can come from facing the storms of life, from knowing loss, feeling sadness and heartache, from falling into the depths of grief. You must stand up in the storm. You must face the wind and the cold and the darkness. When the storm blows hard you must stand firm, for it is not trying to knock you down, it is really trying to teach you to be strong.'"

Many times lately I have felt like the storms of life are trying to knock me down. I wonder how I'll feel as I change my perspective to learning to be strong.

Our littles make us strong, too. I worked serious muscles trying to get a great picture of all three of them looking cherubic. It didn't happen. I settled for this one because it seemed to capture the realism in my life: Hunter has crazy in his eyes, Seth is drooling a steady stream and Brigham is the mostly cooperative big brother.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

I just had an epiphany. A couple of days ago, a person who shall remain nameless (and who does not read this blog) made a decision that negatively impacted me and I have felt really hurt by it. But I just realized, mere moments ago, that it is okay. That person made a decision based on what they think is best for them and their life. I make decisions all the time based on what I think is best for me and my life. I can't fault someone else for their decisions, even the hurtful ones, any more than I want to potentially be faulted for the decisions I make. If I want complete freedom to choose for myself (that which I can actually control in my life), I have to give others that same freedom, even if it makes me feel bad. I can't expect others to choose the way I want them to any more than I want someone else making my choices for me. Am I rambling? I think so.

On an unrelated yet ironic note, I notice that just since last night someone has "unfollowed" my blog. And that's okay. Just as I would want the option of unfollowing a blog that was no longer filling a need it did at one point, so also do each of you have the option of unfollowing blogs...It's your decision, and that's okay.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's My Birthday

23. There's no "black sheep" in my family. In my family we have a "snob of the family". It's me.
24. I bought a banjo Thursday and I'm not afraid to use it.
25. Once, not very long ago actually, I was sick, pregnant and completely worn out. I'm usually a good housekeeper, but I was getting behind and it was really bothering me, so one day I just sucked it up and went to town. By the time Matt got home from work the house was pristine. He was amazed. In family prayer that night he even thanked the Lord for blessing me with the energy to accomplish so much. I never told him I hired professional cleaners.
26. Being cold is torture to me. A few years ago Matt had a gig in Minneapolis in the winter. On that trip he decided hell is not a hot place, it is a very cold place. I concur.
27. The only thing worse than being cold is handling raw meat, especially chicken.
28. For one of my birthdays when I was a kid, maybe #6 or 7, my parents gave me a pair of red earrings. I wore them with a purple shirt and purple corduroy pants. Apparently it scarred me for life because I still think about it regularly 27 or so years later.
29. I love the word satchel. s-a-t-c-h-e-l Sounds nice, huh?
30. Chocolate cake is one of the best things EVER! But truth be told, restaurant chocolate cake isn't really that great. I have only found three worth having again. Who am I kidding? They are phenomenal. Cheesecake Factory's Blackout Cake, Claim Jumper's Motherload Cake, and Costco's All American Chocolate Cake. Don't say I didn't warn you.
31. If I were independently wealthy I'd have 3 regular indulgences: fresh flowers delivered weekly, my hair professionally washed and blow dried (SO not the same as doing it yourself), and a personal chef.
32. Sometimes I still want to be Miss America when I grow up.
33. I believe closure is overrated.
There you have it! 33 completely random facts about me. You know me so much better now...Thanks for helping me celebrate.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

1 Post 'Til My Birthday

12. For as long as I can remember I have had a huge crush on Matt Lauer.
13. Italy and Greece are my dream vacation spots.
14. I haven't eaten salmon since 2004. It used to be one of my favorite foods, but I threw it up once and haven't been able to eat it since.
15. When I was in college I wanted to be a documentary film maker.
16. My feet have permanently grown 1/2 a size with each pregnancy.
17. I have a Bachelor's degree in News Broadcasting.
18. I will never buy a car without a sunroof--it's one of my favorite features.
19. My mom says I didn't really have a first word, I had a first sentence and it was "No, I don't think I'll do that because..."
20. I never have and never will (sometimes it's okay to say never) read a book with "Idiots Guide To" or "For Dummies" in the title because I am neither an idiot nor a dummy.
21. Reading Rainbow has been one of my favorite shows pretty much my whole life.
22. I don't know how to play the harmonica.

Friday, February 20, 2009

2 Posts 'Til My Birthday

I have tried several times this year, with several different groups of people, to boycott my birthday. After being informed in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed to boycott my birthday, I have decided that since I am turning 33, we will commemorate it here with 33 random facts about me. 33 is a lot, so I'm breaking them up over 3 posts. Better get started!
1. I was delivered by a podiatrist at a military hospital. Yes, that is a foot doctor.
2. I can't drive a stick shift, not even if my life depended on it. Not even if my children's lives depended on it--sorry boys!
3. I've tried to love shrimp. I cannot do it. It tastes like dirt and the texture is creepy.
4. I have only been absolutely sure of 4 things in my entire life: the names of each of my boys and marrying Matt.
5. If I had to choose one type of cuisine to eat for the rest of my life I would choose Greek/Mediterranean.
6. When I was growing up my parents were supportive of everything I ever wanted to do except playing ice hockey. I really wanted to, but my mom forbade it and would not budge no matter how hard I cried.
7. Secretly I've always wanted a tattoo.
8. I love makeup. Love it like an art form. MAC is the absolute best there is.
9. I don't bathe. Sounds gross, huh? I just mean that I am a shower girl, not a bath girl. Not even for relaxation. How can you relax when you're sitting in your own filth?
10. Donkeys are my favorite animals.
11. My two favorite cities (so far) are Honolulu and San Francisco.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Christmas in...February?

This picture has nothing to do with today's post; it is merely a gratuitous picture of The Cutest Baby on the Planet.

Okay, now on to the point. Fabric. What do these fabrics make you think of? Miami Beach? The Golden Girls? Your Great Aunt Mable's favorite muumuu? I was at the fabric store last week and they spoke to me as I walked by...screamed at me actually...Combine them with chocolate satin ribbon and lots of silver and I think of fabulous handmade Christmas tree ornaments. I am so excited! It sounds ridiculous because it's only February, but I have struggled with choosing the perfect color palette for this year. Christmas 2008 was not a good one for me and I'm hoping for a little kick start for 2009. I'm hoping that being excited about my color palette will go a long way toward improving my feelings about Christmas this year.

So on Valentine's Day I started working on my ornaments...because everyone starts Christmas tree decorations in February... I'm not going to let you in on the whole plan just yet, but here's a sneak peek:

Can ya dig it?! If you need some perspective, they are about the size of Seth's adorable head (so maybe that top photo does have a purpose!). When all is said and done, birds, birdhouses and peacock feathers will also be involved. It's going to be fabu. You already want to come to my house for Christmas this year, don't you?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

My sister Ami and I went out last night for some Girls Only Valentine's Day fun. We had our makeup done at MAC and then sat in a dark theater where no one would appreciate it. I guess it didn't really make sense, but it was a decent way to spend a Friday night.

I don't know why I put stuff like this out there, but for your viewing pleasure (put your sunglasses on, I am seriously pale...), a before pic:

And after:

Ami thinks she resembles a Mardi Gras doll she had as a kid and I am doing my Wilson from Home Improvement impression.

Can you tell my eyelashes are fake? That was a first for me, one I highly recommend actually.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sad, But True

You may or may not believe this, but I have run out of things to say. Anything in particular you are dying to hear about? This would have happened days ago were it not for Brigham's dwarf comment...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By Way of Explanation...

My friend Staci left a comment on yesterday's post referencing a kid anecdote I told her. Reading her comment made me start laughing about it all over again, so I thought I better let you all in on the inside joke.

Yesterday morning I was taking Brigham to school. He was staring out the car window and totally out of the blue says, "You know, you really don't see too many dwarfs around here."

The randomness of it just makes me LOL out loud...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quirky Brigham

I am an equal opportunities mother so this morning I thought I'd let you in on one of Brigham's quirks. Brigham is an emotional eater. Probably not a common thing for a boy, especially one as young as he is, but it's true. Someone asked me once how I could tell something like this. Here's how:

We moved to Gilbert when Brigham was about 4 1/2 years old. Not long after we moved in, we were sitting in church one morning. Brigham pointed at a man sitting up front who was not smiling, and said, "He wooks wike he needs some bwownies."

For Brigham, and let's face it, for a lot of us, brownies and cookies make everything better!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mediocrity at Its Finest

In an effort to become more health conscious, and consequently thinner, my sister and I have decided to reduce our treat making to once a week. We've chosen Sunday as treat making day. The idea behind this is that we make a super yummy treat Sunday evening and that indulgence allows us to get through the week being a little more reasonable about our treat intake. Sounds plausible, right? So far "super yummy" eludes me.

Here's the leader board: You know from a previous post about the cupcake debacle of a few weeks ago. The following week's confection was okay, but not as good as it could have been because my friend Mindi omits an ingredient when she gives out her recipes so only she can make the absolutely sublime version (theory only, it's presently unconfirmed). Last week's concoction, Chewy Rolo Something or Other, wasn't even worth a photo, and yesterday's attempt is only being mentioned for the weird factor. I give you...Cream Cheese Lemon Bars with Kit Kat crust:


CRUST:Five 1.5oz. Kit Kat Bars (or about 14 mini-sized Kit Kat Bars)
FILLING: 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature2 cups powdered sugar, measure then sift1 large egg2 Tbs fresh lemon juice1 tsp lemon extract1½ tsp lemon zest
TOPPING:1/3 cup all-purpose flour1/3 cup granulated sugar½ tsp additional lemon extract2 Tbs butter, softened
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Prepare the crust: In the food processor, finely chop the Kit Kat Bars. Spread evenly in the bottom of an 8×8-inch square pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. Prepare filling: In a large bowl with electric mixer, blend cream cheese on high. Add powdered sugar and egg and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add lemon juice, lemon extract and lemon zest, and mix well. Pour filling evenly over Kit Kat crust.
4. Prepare topping: In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, lemon extract, and softened butter, and blend with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over lemon bar filling.
5. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned.
Yield: 16 to 20 bars
Recipe Source: Adapted from The Candy Bar Cookbook

General consensus is that the lemon bar part is really good, the Kit Kat crust is okay, and the combination of the two is strange. I don't know how this system is going to work if our treats don't start turning out better. Seriously people, I can't work under these conditions...

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's Good Enough

When I was a teenager I often got stressed out about my abilities to do certain things. My parents would always say, "Just do your best" to which I would always respond, "Just because it's my best doesn't mean it's good enough." In some respects I still believe that's true. Someone else's best could always be better than our best, therefore making our best not good enough. However...
I have determined in the last 5 1/2 months of life experience that God is not as uptight as we have sometimes made him out in our minds to be. He doesn't have a checklist or a sticker chart He's expecting us all to fill by the time our lives come to a close. He doesn't have a template that we all have to match in order to be exalted in the next life. He doesn't judge every single one of us by the exact same standards, expecting us all to achieve all the same milestones in life. I believe He will judge us all individually based on the circumstances in our lives and whether or not we did our best.
On the last Sunday in August Matt didn't go to church. We had a couple of house guests in from LA that weekend who were collaborating with Matt on a film. Sunday morning was the last time the three of them had to powwow before the guys headed back to LA. Instead of going to church that day, they went to the studio. And you better believe I gave Matt some grief about it.
"So you're just not going to church anymore?" I demanded, probably with my left hand firmly planted on my hip and my right arm extended dramatically. Matt just chuckled. "It's not a big deal. We just had some loose ends to tie up and that was the only time we had to do it. I'm not going to go to hell because of it. In fact, I feel really good about my relationship with the Lord."
Exactly one week later Matt died.
I gather a lot of strength and comfort from music of all kinds. One of my favorite songs right now is a Phil Vassar song called Prayer of a Common Man:
Hallelujah, is anybody up there*Hallelujah, does anybody care*Life takes its toll on the heart and soul*But I'm doing the best I can*But Lord, hear the prayer of a common man*I'm not looking for charity*I just need some clarity*I've got people counting on me*And I'm tired that's all*And I'm up against the wall*Lord hear me when I call*Hallelujah, I know you're up there*Hallelujah, I know you care*Life takes its toll on a heart and soul*But I'm doing the best I can*Oh Lord, hear the prayer of a common man*Lord, hear the prayer of this common man
In my last post I mentioned the video footage we have to help us remember Matt. Those of you who came to the visitation the day before his funeral know the video I'm talking about. It is 100% pure Matt. It's Matt sitting in front of the camera being real and charming and funny and clever and handsome and full of life. It is the Matt I fell in love with and the Matt I will show people who want to know more about him. It is the video through which Seth, who never met his father in this life, will come to know him. It is the Matt my children and I will remember and think of for the rest of our lives, and every minute of it was filmed the Sunday that Matt went to the studio instead of going to church.
I'm starting to assume more often than I used to that the people I encounter in life are doing the best they can. And more often than not, our best really is good enough.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

And So It Begins

I am borrowing today's post from one I just left on a website started by a friend of mine, Remembering Matt.
"My dear friend Bryan Bunker started this blog as a place for people to remember Matt and make sure his CDs are still available to anyone who wants them. Months ago he asked if I wanted to write a post to kick it off. Lately I'm a little slow.
Yesterday in the car I was listening to Along for the Ride, one of my personal favorites. I started thinking about Matt, about what an incredibly talented person he is, and I thought, "How can someone as dynamic as Matt be walking around on this planet with the rest of us one day and just be gone the next? How is that even possible?" But here we are. Not only is it possible, it's a reality. Matt, who contributed so much to the world around him, is gone, and we are all still here. I sat in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot and I cried for 20 minutes.
Blessings are not lost on me. I know what an amazing gift we have all been given to still have Matt in our lives through his music. After his death, I was talking to a friend about the music and the video footage we have to remember him with. She said, "Wow, you're really lucky. If my husband died today all I'd have to remember him by is a few crappy snap shots and a gun collection." It's funny, but true. If you lost your loved ones today, what would you have to keep their memory alive?
Years ago I read the following quote on a greeting card or something. I don't remember the exact source, but the sentiment has stayed with me all these years: "When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."
While I believe Matt felt plenty of sorrow upon leaving this life, I also know he lived a life of celebration, a life worth celebrating. With this blog I invite you to do two things: to contribute to remembering Matt, and to find your own way of contributing to the world around you."
You all support recycling, right? I'm only making time in my life for one post a day, so thanks for indulging me!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Quirky Hunter

I love the word "quirky". It really is one of my favorites. We all have our little neuroses, some of us more than others, but somehow with just the use of the word "quirky", our little issues sound less neurotic and more...charming. This morning I was reminded of one of Hunter's quirks. He throws things. Now, I know what you're thinking: "That's a behavioral issue, not a quirk." I'm not so sure. I think it might be a completely involuntary thing that he cannot help, as irritating as it can be.

Like my eye twitch.

Several times a year I get stressed out enough that my right eye develops a twitch. It's temporary, and I usually don't even notice when it stops except that all of a sudden I'll think, hey my eye hasn't twitched in a couple days. Don't feel sorry for me, I've earned it. My point is that it's annoying and I can't make it stop, much like Hunter throwing things. He does it all the time. He has something in his hand, his arm spasms, and said item is airborne.

This morning Hunter came in my room telling me that "Da wion nees a get down. Da wion's trying a get down!" I knew he was talking about a lion, beyond that I was confused. I followed him out to the family room, expecting to find that the Lion King DVD was on a shelf he couldn't reach. I found no evidence of lions in peril anywhere.

"Hunter, what are you talking about?!" I asked, getting mildly irritated with his persistence that a lion somewhere needed my help. Without a word he extended one chubby little finger skyward:

He was holding Seth's lion and apparently his arm spasmed.