Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Linguistic Gymnastics: Thoughts of an 8 Year Old

"Mom, can you lick your own tongue?"
Joanne asked me that as she rolled her tongue around in her mouth. I had to think about it. I don't know, can you lick your own tongue?
And is she really asking about the capacity of the human tongue or could she be probing the boundaries of the word "lick"? I don't know, but I'm completely fascinated that she could even conceive the thought.
After some consideration, I've decided, no, you can't lick your own tongue--like the mirrors in the celestial room where you can't see yourself in the repeating reflection, only the repeated reflection of the person standing next to you--only someone else can lick your tongue, linguistically or otherwise.
Ew. That was gross.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Last Night of Summer

It's pitch black outside, and I can still hear my children squealing as they ride their bikes around the circle with the neighbor children. I should call them in and put them to bed, but tonight is the last night of Summer. (Sundays don't count.) Monday morning, Joanne, Lizzy, and Sarah head off to school; the rest of them start Wednesday. Play on, sweet peeps! Play as late as you want tonight. I hate to see Summer end, but I'm torn. The last two weeks, my little girls have lazed around complaining, "There's nothing to do," They avoid all forms of work and have tuned out the sound of my voice completely. Just last week I was complaining that I've had enough of summer. Now that it's really ending . . . I'm sad. I have loved the warm nights and hanging flower pots, hours and hours of play time, and the almost constant baking projects (the inescapable fate of a woman with 7 daughters). My kitchen never rests. Lately, we've had lemon bars and Margarita cupcakes,brownies, Texas sheet cakes (many), cookies of every variety (not always recognizable), and loaves and loaves bread (Sarah's newest venture). Somehow the cooking falls back to me when the sun sets earlier and everyone's in school. David just whistled out the window for everyone to come in. Lizzy yelled back, "But, Dad, we're playing Ghost in the Graveyard." "Okay," he said. I guess we're of one mind tonight.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tooth Fairy Followup

Marguerite lost another tooth. Here's the note she left with her tooth:
Dear Tooth fery, You can giv my haw [You can give me how] much muny you wont.
She's a quick study!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Letter to the Tooth Fairy

My daughter, (please, let her marry a wealthy man), just lost her first tooth. She left this note, in grey crayon, for the Tooth Fairy:
Dear toth fery
Can yuo giv me 20 dolrs?
Unfortunately for her, the Draper Tooth Fairy is a little absent-minded (as all my children know) and forgot to retrieve the tooth that night. In the morning, I saw her thinking deeply about something. She said, "The Tooth Fairy didn't come last night. [Ouch.] I wonder if it's because I asked for 20 dollars."
She's a thinker!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Desert Poetry

We're in Arizona, visiting Emily. It's been a long time, maybe 5 years, since I've been here. Intellectually, I remember that the temperature exceeds 115 regularly; biologically, my body is incapable of adjusting to that reality.
I want to apologize to all you family and friends for dragging you to Arizona in June for our wedding. Yesterday, we took our kids to see the Mesa temple, thinking they might have some passing interest in THE place that facilitated their existence. We couldn't even get a good picture, everyone was moaning and complaining that their lives were in peril.
It made me think of this poem that was taped up on the wall in my dad's office. I was 11 or 12 when I read it for the first time, and I thought it was the most pithy, witty poem I had ever read. I'll put it in brown in honor of the landscape.
The devil wanted a place on earth

Sort of a summer home

A place to spend his vacation Whenever he wanted to roam.

So he picked out Arizona A place both wretched and rough Where the climate was to his liking And the cowboys hardened and tough.

He dried up the streams in the canyons And ordered no rain to fall He dried up the lakes in the valleys Then baked and scorched it all.

Then over his barren country He transplanted shrubs from hell.

. . .

Then he made scorpions and lizards And the ugly old horned toad. He placed spiders of every description Under rocks by the side of the road.

Then he ordered the sun to shine hotter, Hotter and hotter still. Until even the cactus wilted And the old horned lizard took ill.

. . .

'Twas summer now and Satan lay By a prickly pear to rest. The sweat rolled off his swarthy brow So he took off his coat and vest.

"By Golly, " he finally panted, "I did my job too well, I'm going back to where I came from, Arizona is hotter than Hell."

Next Up: Overdosing on Nostalgia . . . OR . . . "You Can't Go Home Again Angel"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happy Anniversary, David, . . . [OR] "I cannot heave my heart into my mouth."

King Lear's daughter, Cordelia, speaks those words when her father tries to  cajole her into declaring her love for him. When I read that for the first time, it sunk deep into me with resonating familiarity.

That's me.

Add to that, I once had a religion teacher or bishop, or someone with some influence over me, give a lecture on testimony sharing:
"Your testimony should never be the cause of pain for someone listening, and if you do it right, it won't be. If you rave about how much you love your husband, how are those people supposed to feel who don't have a husband? Or children? Or what about people in a difficult marriage. A testimony should never do that. Share about things that are universal."
That also left an impression on me. So what's my point here?

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary. And, David has never heard me gush over himpublicly, that is, which personally I think is completely appropriate, but maybe not very fun when the rest of the world can at least count on an honorable mention once a year or so.

With that languishing introduction . . . Happy Anniversary, David.
When I married you, my orbit changed. You invited me into your gravity, and I'm still here. All of our experience togetherthe good and hard, bad and hardit all adds to the mass, increasing the gravity. Will you forgive me if I fall back on a better wordsmith? (I'm feeling inadequate in this public setting.)

To whom I owe the leaping delight 
That quickens my senses in our wakingtime 
And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime, 
The breathing in unison 

Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other 
Who think the same thoughts without the need of speech
And babble the same speech without need of meaning.

No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only

But this dedication is for others to read:
These are private words addressed to you in public.                 T.S. Eliot

How do I thank you for the late nights and early mornings, long discussions, listening. . . always listening, carefully listening? And, the funalways, so much fun to be with you. Thank you.

I love you.

(How'd I do, Love?)

More Strange Conversations with Little Girls

We had violent thunderstorms this week--Arizona style, but with much more rainfall. Standing at the ironing board during one of these storms, I heard Marguerite muttering to herself:
"Tornados and stickers . . . swine flu."
(This is my girl who still won't sit through a fireworks show.)
"What are you talking about, Daisy?"
"I'm just sick of a world with tornados and thunder and thorns and stickers and swine flu. I want to live in a world without those."
Can you blame her?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Strange Conversations with Little Girls

Another conversation with Marguerite:
"Mom, I want to impress Lilly by being spoiled. . . .just for 1 day. Please, please, please. Spoil me for just one day?" What on earth is she talking about? Does she seriously understand the concept of 'spoiling' or 'impressing'? Who put these ideas into her head.
"Why will this impress Lilly?" I ask. "Cause it looks cute."
Cute to be spoiled??? I'm baffled. "What do you mean it looks cute?
"It's cool, it's fun, it's awesome." Hmm. This sounds like a script.
"What are you talking about?"
"I want to impress Lilly by getting a book that has a CD--a toy CD and CD player."
"Does Lilly have one of those?"
"No. Please . . . I'm serious. I want to impress Lilly. Say yes or no! Please.
Well, that's easy. "No."
"But you get what you want!"
"Actually, I only get what I want some of the time. Like right now, I'm tired, and I'd like to go to bed, but I can't really do that."
Eden walks in carrying my George Washington doll and hands it to me: "Mom, sleep with it. He can be your comfort doll."
Who are these people!
(NOTE TO SELF: next FHE discuss the futility of trying to impress.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Jane Austen Night

My dearest family,
Most regrettably, our Draper parish neglected to make arrangements for the traditional Fathers & Sons encampment this year--an oversight most egregious and NOT to be borne. In consequence of which, the most excellent proceedings of our annual Jane Austen Night have been derailed, though, I hope, only temporarily.
Being the distinguished institution that it is and SO fondly anticipated by the Linford girls, I propose that we proceed with our own plans, without delay. I will offer several options for your consideration.
June 16th presents itself as the half-birthday of our beloved patron, Miss Austen herself. What do you say to celebrating on that day, or if you'd prefer we could delay festivities until the week end, which would be Friday the 19th or Saturday, the 20th.
Do reply without delay. I am so looking forward to being together again at last for J.A. Night.
Your most faithful and devoted sister,

Friday, April 3, 2009

8 Hours at a Salon, and I Only Look Slightly Worse . . . phew! . . . Disaster Averted.

I went to get my hair colored at 10:30 this morning with these instructions: "Cover the grey with my natural brown, and how about a few highlights on the top and around my face?" (Summer's coming, and I was in the mood.)
By about 20 mintues into the foils, I suspected something was going terribly wrong.  When she was still foiling after an hour, she got another girl to start on the other side. (This was for the "few around my face.") 
Somwhere in the back of my head, I heard a little voice say,  What happens when two artists share one canvas? 
Then I felt the new girl smashing the foils into my head, and I had a whisp of memory of my hair-dresser neighbor telling me, "You never want to push down on a foil--it will leave blobs of bleach. "
Again, that voice in my head, This can't end well. 
It took 4 hours. 
Even with it dripping wet, I could see the tiger stripes. In a very calm voice, I express my concern. She says, "If the highlights are too bright, we can put a little toner on it."
"Do that."
After the toner, I still have my doubts, but I'm late picking up Nancy from school. I decide to let it dry and be optimistic.
No amount of optimism can overcome the truth of the situation.
When Nancy sees me, she asks, "Isn't your book club tonight? . . .So, what are you going to do? . . ." Tactfully, she dodges the actual words.
I run Nancy to the DMV to get her driver's license (moment of silence, please!), then run back to pick up the little girls from school. 
Lizzy is more direct: "Oh my gosh! Mom, what happened to your hair? Did you WANT it black and orange?" Joanne adds to the shock. We ruminate for a moment on Halloween hair.
In the car, I look more closely and realize that in spite of the tiger stripes and white spots, I can still see grey. Incredible! I think and think and rack my brain for what on earth they could possibly have done to make it worse? 
I go back to get Nancy at the DMV, sign away my life and all future earnings so that she can drive.  (The nice lady informs me that at any time I may come in and "revoke that signature which will, in turn, revoke Nancy's license," thereby irrevocably terminating our relationship. But nice to know.  Thanks.
We head straight back to the high school for her lacrosse practice where I drop her off. I return (having been gone since 10:30 this morning) to the salon. My hair is completely dry at this point--no discussion required.  "How about an all-over dark brown?"
My hair is now a very standard, not to mention thrashed-to-high-heaven, dark brown. My scalp is tender and I smell like a chemical spill.
No, I did not take a picture. 
(If you think I've exaggerated any part of this, talk to Lizzy.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Big Thank You to the Continental Vowel Shift

If you didn't get this email from me, it means I respect you too much to forward on youtube videos. But, sometimes I get a reply that is so great, I have to post it.
I sent out this this video with the comment: "Why does everything sound better with a British accent?" 
We can thank the great Continental Vowel Shift for the beauty of this message (and the honorable Daniel Hannan, of course). 
(Wow, that's a big window--still trying to figure out blogger.)
Amy Martinsen, my brilliant English professor friend, replied:
(posted with permission)
The British have such a mastery of the English language. I often wonder what has happened to us--have we just become so casual in all ways that we are no longer taken serious? The true power of communication is the the marriage of content and form--but truly this man could have been reading the phone book and his message would have had power. He was not, though, reading the phone book, but was, in fact, describing our situation as well. Soooo, since I am an undignified American, I will just say that he opened a Big 'Ol Can of Whoop-Ass on the Prime Minister! :)
the other Amy
(If you hadn't noticed, I'm trying here to simultaneously thank the man for his lucid and thoughtful commentary on our predicament even as I avoid the nerve-wracking topic.)

"Lie to Me": My New Favorite

I hate to promote TV programming in any way, but when my 9 year old tells me, "There's a new 'Lie to Me' today, does that mean you're going to do the laundry?" . . . I know I'm a true fan. . . . I also know, that is one of the most pathetic things a mother has ever heard. Absolutely tragic.
Let me explain. I had dragged myself--kicking and screaming--into my laundry room to dig it out. I took my laptop and started by watching Elder Uchdorf's talk from the last General Relief Society Meeting (*sigh*), but his talk was only 20 minutes, which didn't even see me through clearing the floor.  So, I sent David a note, asking if he had any suggestions thrilling enough to keep me in the laundry room. I watched the first 5 (and only) episodes. It was one of my better laundry days.
Here's the premise: crazy expert on micro facial expressions and body language combines his expertise with asking the right questions to figure out who's lying, who's hiding, who's telling the truth.  Best part: when they explain the universal meaning behind some expression, they'll back it up with footage of Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Blagogivich, Obama, Bush, every-freakin-somebody you've ever heard of. It's a riot! All public figures are fair game.
I wish they still had the pilot online at hulu, but you can see the last 5 epsiodes.  Here's the most current: http://www.hulu.com/watch/63291/lie-to-me-the-best-policy
Trust me, it takes some powerful entertainment to keep my in my laundry room.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mother of the Year--NOT!

I will never be a MOY--Mother of the Year. Among MANY reasons, I don't have the voice for it. Not a drop of sweetness in my voice. The best I can do is 'authoritative,' and even that is rare. I once called into a radio program, said my 2 cents, and tried to make a graceful exit before I said something stupid. The host must have been desperate for callers, because he wouldn't let me hang up.
"Wait, wait, can I ask you something?" "Sure." "What's your day job?" "Mother." "Really? Well, in another life, will you consider a career in radio, because your voice . . . it's like loaded with authority." "Really? I guess that comes from trying to get everyone off to school: 'EVERYBODY GET IN THE CAAAAR!'"
But, now I'm really off topic. Here are some other reasons I will never be a MOY. Glancing over my desk, I see a paper that my darling 7 year old left here. It's a math paper, turned upside down. She drew a martini on the back. A martini! Complete with olives on a toothpick and the little umbrella. Did I mention, we're Mormons? We don't drink martinis. (Anyone know the the plural for martini?) This girl lives a seriously sheltered life. We have no TV. She goes to a school that requires a signed permission slip from every parent before you can share a "commercially produced food product" (aka "Valentine's treat"). She wears a uniform. Where did she learn how to draw a martini? But, wait . . . there's more. For 2 weeks she's been reminding and begging me to come to "Immigration" at school today at 1:00 (whatever that may be). Yesterday, I assured her that I would be there. Today, at 1:10, I remembered. After working out a small babysitting crisis (thanks, Jodie!), I got there 30 minutes late. I slithered into a room full of commotion and asked, "Have I missed it all?" "No, no welcome to Ellis Island. Please start at the medical station where a doctor will certify that you're healthy enough to enter." There sat Joanne, overjoyed that her flaky mother made it. She quickly started making grand gestures of checking my ears, eyes, heart, and throat. Thankfully, she declared me healthy. I moved to the registration desk where I answered a few questions and had my name "Americanized" to "Rose Ford." (Not bad for second graders.) Then on to the Ferry, after which I was sent back to "The Pen" because I had declared that I already had a job lined up, and apparently, that was illegal. (Wow, have times changed!) Once I was out of the Pen, I took the ferry to New York (a gathering of desks in the center of the room where other parents were sitting). Here, the teacher announces that we will now share the immigration stories of one of our ancestors. Thanks, Joanne, I guess you forgot to mention that part. I shoot her a look of dismay. She shrugs back, Sorry mom. Looking around at the other parents, I notice that the lady next to me is wearing a full Austrian derndle--her hair is up in braids. Another woman is wearing a hat and shawl. Two other mothers have prepared remarks--typed and with photos. Ah! No MOY awards for me this year. Thankfully, I happened to wear a long black skirt with a frumpy sweater and boots that, all together, create a look that reminds me of Froiline Maria's traveling clothes. The principal begins with his story. Oh good. The principal is here to witness. I quickly decide I'm going to tell Harriet Paynter's story of joining the Church at 13 and getting kicked out of her home, working as a maid for 5 years before she could save enough money to pay for her boat to America. Thinking about Harriet, I start to tear up. Oh, good grief! I absolutely can NOT cry for this thing. But wait, . . . was that Harriet or her mother? Or someone else completely. Incredibly, I have time to worry about my long-deceased grandmother who is going to hear me mess up her story. I am shamed! The lady next to me--the one in the derndle--starts to talk in a perfect German accent. You've GOT to be KIDDING! She's acting it all out in first person? Then I realize, she's actually talking about herself. No pressure, I get to follow a real immigrant! I get up, tell my story, cry a little (the only crier, of course), and sit down. The kids are unphazed. The parents look horrified. Oh, well, it's a good thing I'm almost 40. That would have been excrutiating 10 years ago. Just another reminder, I will never be a MOY.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Emperor's New OFFICE

Have you seen The Office? My children and husband love this show. Of course, we have no TV, but they watch it online. It takes a certain amount of initiative, beyond just thumbing through the remote, to watch a TV show online, which makes their interest in The Office even more mysterious. I've tried to watch; really, I have. I can't get past everyone sitting around, doing nothing. It's painful. I guess I'm envious. What would I give to have some office space where I could just go and get my work done. I can't enjoy watching these ungrateful, pathological people. . . that is, . . . until . . . last week. When I saw Episode 13. (Enjoy it here: Season 5, Episode 13, "Stress Relief.") I heard this conversation between David and Jonathan.
Jonathan: "Dad," uncontrollable laughter, "Did you see The Office?" David: "Which one? . . ." Sudden recognition, again uncontrollable laughter from David. David, barely able to speak: "Where Dwight sets the office on fire?" Jonathan, nodding yes, unable to speak.
This was too much. I had to investigate. Now, I think I've seen the beginning of this episode 4 or 5 times. Favorite line: Michael says, "Well, we learn from our mistakes, and now Dwight knows not to cut the face off a real person."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Probabilities of Ski Gloves . . . OR . . . Conversations with MOE (Mothers of Eight)

My sister Elizabeth, another MOE, just sent out this email:
I have just gone through all of our snow gloves and despite statistical improbability . . . I have 8 left-handed gloves with no mates! Seven of the them are Head brand (from Costco) 1 is a Hotfingers glove. If any of you seem to have a plethora of right-handed gloves, we need to get them back together!! Please let me know!
Maybe a room full of monkeys can produce War and Peace afterall! (Some things just have to be documented for posterity.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Age, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty!"

I turn 40 this year. I'm anticipating it as a death and re-birth, which causes me to look at the metaphyiscal meaning of some of the strangest things. Take this video for example. This lady is more than twice my age! I have another 47 years to get this good at salsa dancing! I will, however, skip the sexy strip down to spaghetti straps! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Like New Grass in the Spring."

For Christmas, I gave David a new bedspread. (I know that's as bad as Homer Simpson giving Marge a bowling ball with his name on it, but it was Christmas time when I found it, what could I do?) Here's a picture (minus the groovy, hyper-coordinated room). You wouldn't believe all the conversation that a new bedspread will generate in a house full of girls. "Mom, I LOVE your new bedspread!" (No pretense whatsoever that this is David's bedspread.) "It's so silky. Let's go swimming on the bedspread." "Is this a bedspread or a comforter?" I just wanted to share my personal favorite; Marguerite said it: "Your bedspread is like new grass in the spring. Sigh." Where did this girl come from? In the last few weeks, I've also heard her say (after reading the new Fancy Nancy book): "I'm the only fancy one in my family." And: "If there's no air in outer space, what do we breathe?" And tonight, I heard: "Can Superman breathe in outer space?" I just wanted to document that.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Postum, Anyone?

Just in case you were wondering how to make Postum from the grain . . . here's a recipe. Thanks a lot, Kraft, for discontinuing it a few years ago. I need it tonight for Lizzy's mother-daughter book club. "Ostumo," in Gail Carson Levine's book Fairest, is described as being a warm drink made from grain and molasses; it shows up all over the book. Smart girl, I am, praising Postum to the skies, telling Lizzy it will be the PERFECT drink to serve to her friends . . . it goes with the book perfectly. . . THEN finding out it can only be bought for $85 a jar on ebay. The recipe below is for the dried grain mixture: once it's made, you have to steep it and run it through a coffee filter--no such thing as homemade INSTANT postum. If you're curious, stop by for a cup. I keep thinking of Grandma Shill--it's made my house smell like hers--that's the fun part. I combined 2 recipes and made it like this: 3 c. wheat germ 1 c. corn meal 2 c. cracked or ground wheat (cream of wheat) 1 c. molasses Mix in your hands until the molasses is evenly distributed; looks and feels like damp saw dust. Spread thin on cookie sheets Bake 300, stirring every 20 min for 5 hours. (Wish me luck on that part.) I'm actually baking 275 with convection, hoping the convection will speed it up. Woah, that was too hot for convection. I turned it down to 250, but it definitely sped it up. It's already dried out. The pans in my regular oven are way behind. ENJOY! Here are the original recipes: http://ouc1.com/another-homemade-postum-recipe/ http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1630,149185-250198,00.html