Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks


We had a very nice holiday.
Rocky spent all morning practicing with her spoon so that she would be ready for her first Thanksgiving dinner.

We shared the meal with our friends Kimberly and Kris and their two boys Owen and Henry. Kimberly roasted a perfect turkey and Kris carved it into a platter that looked even nicer than the cover of Martha Stewart's magazine.
The yams turned out just right
and fun was had by all.
That night we got together with a group of families and had some fantastic desserts and a lot of laughs.
It is nice to have friends, especially when family is so far away.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Success


Thank goodness for the crock pot.
In other news, Rocky has decided that she wants to be a Homie. Brandon and I have decided that it is just better if we let her have her way and hopefully she can work through these stages while she is still young. Kids will be kids.
Bonus Video

video

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another Day Another Dinner

Lately I have been striking out in the kitchen. I've been trying to learn how to cook and as the stereotypical beginner I have been presenting my husband with a variety dishes that have all the makings of good food, but have gone seriously awry. At first everything came out burned, and now I seem to have swung the other way as if raw were the new black.

It is frustrating to waste time and ingredients and get such sad results. Today, for example, I made a meatloaf that had the consistency of oatmeal.

I also attempted to make a dessert that was supposed to look like this...

But turned out more like this...


Let's be honest. If this was a potluck would you take some of that?

You'd be smart not to because in addition to having the blueberries explode out the back end, the top was nice and the bottom was completely raw dough.

Jill's first try of this same recipe looked almost as bad, but I heard that it tasted fantastic.





I shouldn't complain though because Brandon cheerfully eats whatever it is, no matter how over or under done. He ate the mashed potatoes that I made that had more garlic than anyone would need to keep vampires away for eternity.
He eats it no matter what it looks like, and sometimes he'll even go back for seconds.

I usually claim to be a victim in situations like this, but tonight while I was doing the dishes I glanced at the oven and realized that it had been set at 300 the whole time when the recipe called for 350. I guess that I should be glad that our oven usually burns things because otherwise things could have been even worse.

Oh well, I guess I can try again tomorrow. Or, we could try that Mexican restaurant, El Pato Verde, on 13th Street. I bet that they know how to set their ovens.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Deep Hippie Connection



This is a shout-out from Rocky to her peeps.

She wanted to say that she misses her cousins but no matter how many miles comes between them they remain close because she is connected to Ethan, Joanna, and Ginny through a deep and pure sense of style.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Apples and Oranges




The other day I was checking on my Facebook account and for my update I wrote "Marci thinks that pears are better than apples." I had just finished munching a pear and felt quite confident in my choice. But, this morning I started to really think about it.

I don't know why I said that.

I mean, I do think that pears are really good, but I have always loved apples. It seems flippant to just disregard all the years that I have appreciated a good apple, often eating one a day. It feels wrong to judge fruits only in comparison to one another. Apples are fantastic and so are pears.

Having a new fruit in my life doesn't mean that I have to publicly humiliate the apple which has stood by me through thick and thin. Apples have only brought good things to my world by keeping the doctor away and giving me something to chew so that I didn't fall asleep during my education classes at Weber State. Actually, when it comes to staying occupied during boring classes, nothing beats an orange. The orange requires the two-step process of peeling and eating.

So does that mean that I should arrogantly make a blatant claim that oranges are better than apples? That would be completely out of line. It would be, well, comparing apples and oranges, which we all know that we should not do because they are two completely different things.

It is like those bumper stickers that say, "My grandkids are cuter than yours."

To me that seems like an invitation to get your car keyed.

I don't even have any grandchildren to be insulted by that message, but I find it frustrating. It seems to say that it is impossible to value something without de-valuing something else. A lot of our compliments come with a free bonus insult.

I guess "My grandkids are cute and so are yours" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
But, for my purposes, I'm going to say that I like fruits of all kind. Except for those canned cherries. Real cherries are way better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

No Words


Friday, November 14, 2008

Potluck Pout

I am a potluck loser.
The first time it happened was after I first got married. I was just barely trying to step into the whole wife scene when there was a potluck at church. I worked all day putting together this fancy Oreo cheesecake. The fact that it didn't set up right was probably because I had used the low fat cream cheese.
You know me, I have a bad habit of trying to cut calories in my desserts instead of doing the smart thing which would be to actually cut out the dessert. So, I ended up sacrificing the quality of my cheesecake, but it was 1/3 less fat than normal cheesecake. I think that it actually might be a good weight loss strategy because when a cheesecake looks as pathetic as mine did nobody wants to eat it and ends up getting 100% less fat than they would have gotten had it been made according to the recipe. But, once again, if nobody else eats it I usually end up taking it home and eating the whole thing myself which ends up giving me five times as much fat as I would have gotten otherwise.
There in the middle of the jungle of beautiful desserts was th runny, droopy, lopsided, black and white pile that was my cheesecake. I kept a close eye on the table monitoring its progress. It was like watching a wall-flower at a dance. One by one the pretty neighboring dishes were scooped up and swept away to be enjoyed, while my dumpy, be-spectacled, pocket-protector-wearing cheesecake sat untouched. At one point I noticed that a small square had been taken from one corner and scanned the plates to see which person had been the good Samaritan that took pity on the thing. It didn't take me long to find the square sitting next to me, on Brandon's plate. I appreciated him for being supportive, but it only added to the desperate-ness of the situation. It was like my wall-flower had been asked to dance by a well-meaning elderly married chaperone who was only asking because he couldn't stand to watch anymore. I felt horrible to have subjected it to such humiliation. Secretly I was even a little horrified by my creation. Like Victor Frankenstein I abandoned the monster that I, myself, had brought into existance. At the end of the night I tried to get out of there without anyone knowing that I had brought the cheesecake. I left it and vowed that I would never claim the plate that I had also left behind. Honestly, I was crushed.
Since then I have never skimped calories on a potluck item.
It doesn't seem to make much of a difference because no matter what I make, it hardly ever gets eaten. I wondered if it was because I don't have any nice plates to display, or if I just pick things to prepare that nobody else likes, or if it is that I'm just a potluck loser. After awhile the sting started to wear off. Then I started making things that I really liked because I knew that I would get to take it home. Never again would I lose a good plate out of disgust. From then on I continued to watch the serving table, hoping that my dish would remain untouched.
Tonight we went to a pizza party with some people from Brandon's program. Everyone was supposed to bring toppings and we were all going to make pizzas to share. I worked all day getting the goods ready for a Jamaican jerk pizza, a recipe from the California Pizza Kitchen. It is an awesome recipe, I know because Grandma Jolley made it a couple of times for us when we were living with her. When I said all day, I'm not exaggerating. I was a little worried that this time it would get eaten. But, the fates were in my corner tonight. With the exception of a diced onion, we ended up bringing everything else home with us.
It's a little sick what continual rejection can do to a person. I had become the girl who didn't dance because she "didn't want to."
Incidentally, on Sunday our ward had a potluck and Brandon made a pumpkin cake. Of course, it was almost completely gone when we left. That is because he is a potluck winner.
I have often worried that there may be other losers out there like me. That is why I eat so much at such get-togethers. I sample a little bit of everything. Nobody is going to be a wall-flower when I'm around. It isn't a gluttonous gorging, but a selfless act on my part
I have learned that there is one thing that I can make that will get eaten every time. Whoopie Pies are my staple and you can bet that the next time anyone asks me to come to a pizza party that is what I'll take.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Voices and Other Strange Sounds from Above

I always wondered if the folks upstairs were cleaning in the middle of the night and that is why it was so loud. Last night I knew for sure because at 12:30 the vacuum was going. They had been busy all day and when I was taking out the recycling I noticed that their Oregon banner was folded up instead of displayed and there were several bags on their porch. I started to wonder if they were moving out.
The late night cleaning seemed to go along with the theory and I even got Brandon's hopes up. Today, however, there are no indications of people moving out, but it seems that several guests have moved in. The bags, it turned out, were filled with garbage.
Luckily since I was awake most of last night, I'm tired enough to sleep through almost anything.
I thought it was pretty cool that it was the first time that I had heard a vacuum up there in the two months we've lived here. My guess is that it really was an emergency.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Long Story Involving a Train Wreck and a Secret Stairway

I took Rocky in for her 6-month check-up which ended up being a much bigger ordeal than I had originally suspected. I mapquested the address of the office just to make sure that I wouldn't get lost. The estimated travel time was 13 minutes. The appointment was scheduled at 10:00 and I figured that I should plan on arriving early to do any paperwork, and that I should be sure to leave a little extra time in case I got lost. So, at 9:05 Rocky and I headed out the door optimistic that we would happily and calmly use the extra time to relax in the waiting room. Unfortunately in the directions that I printed out, when it said to 'turn right' what it really meant was that I should go left. Because I have a long record of finding myself lost, I'm pretty sure that the error somehow belonged to me, and not Mapquest, but no matter who is to blame, we were lost. After some exploration and a lot of U-turns we got back on track. Unfortunately it took a lot of time.
At 10:00 exactly I had finally found my way into the parking complex. By this time I wasn't at all calm and I definitely was not relaxing in the lobby.
I wound around and around looking for a spot, which ate up another five minutes. I got out and found an elevator that would take me to the fourth floor. But, apparently, there is no access into the building from the fourth floor. So I got back onto the elevator and went to the first floor. I saw a woman holding a baby. She smiled at Rocky and I thought that I could probably follow her right to the doctor. I wasn't sure though if she was headed out or in so and I asked her if she was coming or going. She said that she was going so I asked her if she knew how to get to pediatrics. Within a couple of seconds it was obvious that she didn't speak much English. She was very nervous and tried her very best to give me directions. I told her that I speak Spanish and she immediately relaxed. Then she started rattling off all kinds of information and I was suddenly the nervous one. I nodded my head and acted like I had understood everything, like any self-respecting poor Spanish, and I was on my way.
I knew from our conversation that I needed to enter the building on the third floor. I was positive that I could surely find the office once I got inside. After taking the stairs up I found an entrance into the building. I was starting to feel better now that I had achieved such success. I was, officially, out of the parking area.
The good feeling, however, was short-lived. I walked around the third floor until I found a door to a stairway and entered. When I got to the fourth floor I noticed that it was locked. If I had known that the pediatrics department was Eugene's version of Fort Knox I would have left home earlier. I went back down to the door I had entered from, which was also locked. Apparently I needed to have some sort of hospital security clearance to get in. By this time it was about 10:25. I thought about going down to the first floor and leaving the place with or without vaccinations, but then I realized that even if I was able to escape my stairwell prison, I had no idea how to get back to my car. I reached the second floor and hesitated for a moment and was contemplating how long Rocky and I could survive on the contents of the diaper bag when a man noticed me through the little window in the door.
He asked if he could help and I said that I needed to get to my appointment on the fourth floor. He smiled at me and spoke very slowly and loudly, "Well," he paused, "This is the second floor. That makes the fourth floor would be two floors up."

Thanks.

I didn't think his exaggerated gestures were very funny. After I started screaming about security locks and confusing hallways he realized that I was not part of the personnel that were supposed to be able to access this staircase. He actually ended up walking me all the way to the pediatrics front desk. I'm not sure if it was because he was being nice, or he was afraid that I had become a security risk (poking around where I didn't belong.)
On the way we passed my Hispanic friend who was seated calmly waiting to see the doctor. She had beat me by about fifteen minutes. I realized that I had phrased my question to her in the worst possible way. She had told me that she was "going" and while I assumed she was leaving the hospital, she had been telling me that she was "going" to see the doctor. She gave me an encouraging little wave and I could tell that she was rooting for me. The support buoyed me up enough to show my tardy face at the check in desk.
I checked the clock and it was 10:30. The girl didn't even look up. "Did you get lost? Everyone gets lost. "
I wondered if I wasn't the first innocent mother to be swallowed up in the secret workings of the hospital. She gave me the paperwork and I immediately dropped the clipboard scattering health questionnaires and insurance information all over the floor. I could see myself in her eyes. Rocky was slung over one arm. Her hat had slid over one eye and she only had on one sock. My hair was all frazzled and my mascara a little smeared because of the drizzle outside. I looked like a train wreck. I just shrugged my shoulders and smiled. At least I had made it alive.
Through it all Rocky had just sat quietly in my arms with a look of mild interest.
After the trauma of getting there, the vaccines were a breeze. My little Rockstar took them like the champ she is.

Bonus Video



video

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gone Daddy Gone

I've heard a lot of stories about women who feel depressed because they never get to see their husbands. I never understood because, until now, Brandon and I were pretty much always together.

We drove back and forth to the school that we both worked at together. We cooked, shopped, ate, watched movies, hiked, camped, and listened to NPR together. In fact, we were together so often that we had to schedule time apart into our lives.



Well, times have changed. Now even when my old man is around, he's always studying. I mean, I don't know what these teachers think grad school is supposed to be. It's like they expect him to work really hard.

He's been writing so many papers that he had to put a pillow on the chair like an old lady.



Once in awhile he has a little bit of extra time, and who do you think gets it?
I can't really blame him. The babe is a lot of fun. Lucky for me Rocky's bedtime is 7 o'clock. Unfortunately, after all that work, it's more and more becoming Brandon's bedtime too.

If I could just get Bullwinkle to do the dishes, maybe I could get his spot on the couch.
In the meantime, at least I've still got NPR.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

BaRocky


Rocky reviewed the election materials in order to make sure that she was informed about the elections. Although she didn't get to vote, she looked over our ballots and approved them before they went into the mail. She was pretty stoked about how things turned out and was glad to have been alive to experience in such an historical event. She has been thinking of changing her name to Barocky, but I told her she has to wait until she's 18.






Yesterday I caught her trying to make online purchases with my credit card. Lucky thing she can't reach the keyboard or we could be in some serious debt right now.

Also, I guess those bratty Trick-or-Treaters got us back because they left Mexican candy wrappers all over the complex.





Yeah, this one looks a lot like a Petri dish. I thought about saving it for one of Rocky's future science projects, but in the end I figured that there will always be Mexican candy that we can grow fresh germs on when the time comes.



Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mostly Tricks with a few Treats

With a little help from her abuela Rocky made a pretty cute little Ewok.


We had a bunch of Trick-or-Treaters, in fact, we had a lot more than we planned for. I guess I should have been warned when our first visitors arrived at about 2:45, as soon as school got out. When it started to look like it would run out Brandon dug through the cupboards and found a bunch of Mexican candy that was left over from his class last year. The well-behaved little Asian kids, or the ones that held out their cute little bags in a sweet way were all given the good candy, but anyone who was over twelve or acted in a greedy way was awarded a chili-pepper with mango sucker. We thought about taking Rocky around to gather up more to give out, but it sounded like too much work.

My pumpkin was carved, but Brandon's study schedule didn't leave time for his. He said that he would rather eat it anyway. I was pretty excited because Jill helped me to make my own design instead of copying one off the internet like I usually do. I'm sure that if I would have used someone else's pattern that it would have looked more perfect, but I feel really proud of this one.




It reminds me of when I used to work at the elementary school. All of the kids would be working on the same type of project and everyone would do something different. It was interesting how each kid would take ownership and pride whatever it was that they had made no matter how imperfect. It's funny that we feel allegiance to the things that we make.

Like babies. Every mom thinks that her kid is beautiful right? But, in my case, it just so happens to be true.




By the way, any trick-or-treater that complimented the skull pumpkin was given good candy, no matter what the age.