Saturday, August 31, 2013

She Believes Chef Ron is AMAZING

As I mentioned in a previous post, Roland enjoys watching “Chopped” (or at least he used to) on the Food Network.  I think we were living in West Valley when we’d see the advertisements for the new upcoming show “Sweet Genius” hosted by Ron Ben-Israel a renowned chef and cake artist extraordinaire. 

I allowed the ads to lead me to believe that the show would be similar to “Chopped” but with just desserts.  Roland watched it maybe twice, but would not take it seriously.  It was a squirrely show in his opinion.  He didn’t like the second surprise ingredient being introduced while in the process of trying to create something with the first one. He didn’t like the fact that the chefs need an “inspirational” theme.  But mostly I think he just doesn’t care for Chef Ron.  There is just such a bizarreness about him.

         Just on his appearance alone, he seems to fit the villain profile of any given kid vid or screwball comedy.  Put him in a uniform and I can visualize him playing the part of a Nazi in Hogan’s Heroes. Top that off with his seemingly weird personality and I wondered if he could be taken seriously.  I can actually visualize him playing member of the Gestapo or criminal mind in a realistic movie.

         Unlike Roland, Jenna LOVES “Sweet Genius”.  She thinks the title is very fitting and thinks that Ron Ben- is the most awesome and best chef in the world.  Her favorite part of the show is having the inspirational themes to work with.  I agree with Roland that it is weird watching Ron laugh in the darkness that represents sin or plays with a python or the ventriloquist doll (which I have always thought of as somewhat creepy anyway) Ron Ben- (for me) has the appearance of being a ventriloquist doll himself.

         I just did a research on Wikipedia.  I found it interesting that he had been “discovered” by Martha Stewart.  Before he started his baking “hobby” in 1993 he had been a dancer.  I would have never ever guessed that.  Jenna will really think he’s the greatest when she finds that out.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Unique Approach

         I really did not know my Grandpa James.  I was told that he was the black sheep in his family.  His biological mother died only a week after he was born.  He grew up having made quite a few errors.  He enjoyed smoking, drinking and older woman.  I’m not certain how he and grandma met as he was from Ogden and she was from Panguitch.  I think he may have had family living in Panguitch.  I don’t know.

          I would think he hadn’t joined the navy until after he married my grandma as they lived in Utah for almost four years.  My mom was two when the navy took them from Utah to San Francisco

         My maternal grandparent’s divorced after my mom had turned thirteen.  But I believe they were still married when my grandfather planted an early seed to discourage my mom from wanting to smoke or drink. Perhaps it was the year they divorced – I don’t know.  I just remember her relating the following (but I don’t know how old she was – or young rather)

         Her father took her aside and said, “[June], this is the day you get to smoke.”

         Both of her parents were heavy smokers, and I don’t know if she showed interest in wanting to smoke, if she ever tried stealing cigarettes or at least pretended to smoke. Perhaps he did it of his own free will with the hopes that it would discourage her.

         Mom said it might not have been so bad if he would have just given her a cigarette that had been a part of her life before birth – in the air she breathed and saw on a daily basis.  But Grandpa James lit up a cigar and gave it to her.  Of course she gagged and coughed and couldn’t (nor wanted to) finish.  And Grandpa James said something along the lines that it was okay, but that if mom chose not to finish the cigar than she might as well not smoke EVER


         I don’t know if he tried the same trick with the alcoholic beverage.  It seems like mom did tell me something but I can’t remember the exactness of it.  I just know it left an impact on her that she remembered – and shared.  NOT a good experience, but an educational one.

         This is not a method that I’d be willing to try out myself.  But I’m glad that it worked out for my mother.  I think she did say she tried a cigarette when she was sixteen, but never made it past the first couple of puffs.  Good job, Grandpa James!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back to School Night: the Leader in Me

I had worked for Franklin Covey on assignment from one of the temp places I had worked for.  I worked on the conveyer belt adding my one item to each box that would slide by. NOT a tough job by any means. 

Periodically the staff would take a small break and shoot baskets or watch – part of an incentive program that I didn’t understand.  Nor did I make the connection that Steven L. Covey is related and had set up a 7 habit program within the working environment before Sean Covey brought it to a more youthful level and the program has now been introduced to various schools.
I had gone to a “Back to School” night when my three boys were in junior high and then an orientation with Jenna just before she started kindergarten.  Other than that I don’t remember hearing anything more about back to school except for those two times.

Before Mrs. Randolf (best principal in the world) made the announcement, I figured it out.  Jenna’s school (among others in that particular area) has been chosen to be a part of the 7 habits program this year.  


I remember learning a bit about it last year when the children were introduced the program and learned this song.  Mrs. Randolf promised that she would see change in our students.  We would see leadership behavior and our children would come home with a new respect and that things would be different. 

I thought, “That would be so great.  I wonder how long.”

But since school has started, I will call Jenna and instead of her usual, “Just a minute,” She now responds with, “coming mother.”  What?  Who are you and what have you done with my child?

We have been so truly blessed – just having had the opportunity of getting Jenna into the school and to learn Spanish, but now this new leadership program.  The kids are stoked, the teachers are stoked.  Mrs. Randolf has been a ball of fire even before the school was picked.  But now she’s like a positive inferno spreading goodness and enthusiasm.

I’ve spent too much time consumed in some trials and have missed many opportunities with Jenna because of my negative attitude towards these trials.  But I have really been trying to turn things around and make more happy moments for both of us.  At the assembly I realized that Jenna will be teaching me.  She will be the example that I need to follow.

I am so grateful for this opportunity that we’ve all been given.  To have her learn.  To have her become happy about it again.  To learn leadership skills. To learn a second language.  We are so blessed!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why Women Leak

         Actually, I don’t know why women leak.  We just do.  Perhaps not all women, but many of us.
Whenever we feel sadness or sorrow, compassion or joy, empathy or misconduct, our eyes tear up and flood our face. Whenever our child (or children) is hurting, we feel their pain.  Whenever we see a movie or read a book that reaches into our hearts and connects to our tear ducts.  Whenever our hormones happen to be on overdrive (or overload?) Whenever we feel misunderstood.

I have cried at the end of Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, and E.T. (to name a few) I wept through Alabama Moon and The Odd Life of Timothy Green.  I need an entire box of tissues each time I watch “Up” and I refuse to watch “The Notebook” ever again.  I’ve cried when reading Children’s books such as “The Robot and The Bluebird” by David Lucas or “You are Mine” by Max Lucado.  I cried during parts of “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate and stories such as Monkeys and the Mangos (which has many versions).  

Tear ducts seem to be attached to the heart strings except in the case of chopping onions – that produces tears in which the heart is not involved.  Roland and Jenna can both seem to chop onions without tearing up. Jenna laughs when I chop onions.
Last night I cried during an episode of “Chopped” for crying out loud.  To me it just feels pretty silly to cry at the end of reality show.  What a dweeb. The female chef had burned herself and her competitor who claims he was arrogant and had stepped on others to climb to the top had made amends . . . and offered to pay for her plane ticket out of his winnings.

We’re a sorry case, I suppose.  But we’re also awesome at being able to feel.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Memories and Stages of Time

 In June 2009 we celebrated my mom's 70th birthday.  Sunny had made arrangements to invite friends and family members to a "surprise" birthday party for my mom. I don't recall how many came, but there was a lot.  Many from the ward, a few from work, and family members - Bill and Kayla had taken several pictures.  I would guess there were 50 - 70 people in all.

Corey gave a tribute and several sat in folded chairs that Sunny must have borrowed from the Church.  Mom was definitely surprised and she looked so happy.  She had already been diagnosed with dementia, but it was just the early stages.  She was well aware of what was going on.  And she knew everybody there.

Last November - before we put mom into assisted living - she was overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of people at our Thanksgiving dinner - all 18 of us.  So I thought she'd really freak when we took her to the ward Christmas dinner one month later because there were over 200 at that one.  But she smiled and pleasantly greeted everyone.  She was happy.  She was a little lost in her mind.  And the following month we put her into assisted living where she spent the next four months trying to escape. 

She was definitely happy last night. Sunny and her family had dropped by the assisted living to bring mom to the annual "Christmas in July" (which came late this year) and she was happy.  Happy to see relatives she hadn't seen "forever" or "it's been a long time" - Sunny told me that she said it had been years since she had seen me - and Sunny knows for a fact that I was there just the day prior.

Garrett received a new hair cut - causing him appear to be a tad bit older.  Mom kept commentting on what a cute little boy he is.  She also kept on asking who he was and who he belonged to. 

"That's your grandson.  That's Kayla's little boy."  

She remembers Anna.  But she doesn't often remember who Gary is.  Her dementia had taken over when he was born.  She was still living at home and had planned to walk to the hospital to see him and Kayla.  Walking to the hospital from my mom's house is possible, but not a casual walk.  It's a good two miles at least.  I tried to remind her of that.

"The hospital is not that far from my house and I can walk there if I want to!"

She was in her independent stage. A stage in which she believed her grown up children were treating her like a child.  A stage when she would wander off and actually walk that distance unintentionally.  A stage that kept all of us on our toes trying hard to watch her but allow her to believe that she still had her independance.

Sunny's last experience with taking her out of assisted living was an unpleasant one.  She said my mom was so distorted and unfamiliar with her surroundings and didn't know how she'd gotten to Sunny's house or why and wanted to go "home'  - referring to the assisted living.  She has accepted it as home.  That's where she lives and has for about 8 years (in her mind; seems like every month for the rest of us has been a year for her)

She excitedly told my aunt Fern about Harold - who when she first felt an attraction towards him had told Corey that Harold was a very old man - old enough to be her father.  She told Aunt Fern that she and Harold are actually very close in age.  She believes he is five years older.  (There is a ten year difference in actuality) 

It was so wonderful to see mom genuinely happy - even if she doesn't remember that Garrett is her grandson - not to mention several relatives who we actually don't see except maybe twice a year - if that.  She had a great time.  I don't know how much of it will stay with her.  I wonder what she will tell Corey about last night's events.

Monday, August 26, 2013

When It Was Ricks College

I attended Ricks College for one year.  Rexburg was over 200 miles away from my home and so I lived in the dorms near the campus. Believe it or not, I really did have three roommates with the same or similar names – though each spelled differently.  Christy Ann Howardson, Christie Lee Hill and Kristaleigh Phelps.  The girls who lived in the same dorm as we did would see me coming and would say, “Hi Christi-“ in which I would respond, “No, I’m the other one” thus earning my new nickname, “the other one”

We couldn’t refer to the Christie(y)s with just the last initial because they both started with the same letter.  And although Christie was willing to go by Christie Lee it was just too confusing for Kristaleigh.  And Christy refused to go by Christy Ann.  So sometimes I called her Howard – or Howardine – just to get a rile out of her. It was actually kind of fun.

As roommates go, we all had our peculiarities, our strengths and our weaknesses, etc.  Christie was a take charge kind of gal.  We called her mom.  She liked to bake.  And she baked well.  She once made an oatmeal cake in two round pans.  Never had an opportunity to put it together and frost it as one.  Christy ate one pan and I ate the other.  And I think Christie was okay with it. She loved to cook and bake but didn’t necessarily want to eat everything she made.

Most of the dishes in the kitchen were hers.  She had brought along these puny juice glasses which I always referred to as “Barbie doll” glasses.  I had asked her why she had brought so many “Barbie doll” glasses instead of something large enough to actually quench one’s thirst.  She said matter-of-factly, “Because I was hoping that I would get a roommate who would give them a nickname.”

Christy, who was one of the most gullible people on this planet, believed her.

Christy was a farm girl from a city in Idaho that nobody had ever even heard of.  She always had to explain that it was near Blackfoot – which more than half of the college attenders had never heard of either.  She was the role model of all blonde jokes.  Sometimes I felt like I was talking to someone from a foreign planet who had obviously never experienced earth life before.

Boys seemed magnetized to Christy.  Can’t say that I would have been interested in any of them.  Not that they’d ever give me a second look. Seriously.  They all needed ego boosters. And not all of them had good intentions.  And Christy was quite naïve.

Kristaleigh and I were the theatrical pair.  She actually majored in theatre – whereas I was just a ham.  I once practiced lines with her as she had an audition coming up.  She asked me to pair up with her for her audition.  She picked out my clothes so that I would look the part.  I told the instructor that I was not trying out for the part but had come to assist.  I wasn’t interested in the play itself nor was I interested in devoting my free time with practice.

After we had auditioned, he looked at me and said I could still be considered.  I told him no, thank you.  I’m so glad that I did.  For, according to Kristaleigh, everyone who had auditioned had been given a part – except for her.  I think she tried too hard and her acting was just that.  It never looked natural. I would have felt awful going to auditions that she wasn’t directly a part of. She worked it out so that she could be prop manager.

The dorm put out a newsletter once a month (I’m guessing) and Christie was one of the editors and had asked Christy and I to write pieces on occasion.  I actually didn’t remember having that newsfeed but had come across it when weeding through the scrapbooks that I could no longer save (see this post)

I had scanned the following:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tori and Natasha

Tori and Grace were friends with one another – at one time.  Grace and her daughter both worked – or perhaps it was something else that kept them away from raising Natasha, Grace’s granddaughter.  Tori agreed to watch Natasha to assist both Grace and her daughter, but developed an attachment you might say.

Things might not have ended up so ugly if Grace hadn’t tried taking advantage of Tori to begin with.  Natasha’s mom abused Natasha and was later sent to prison for it, leaving Grace to tend to her granddaughter – but it appeared that Grace had abusive issues of her own. That’s how it was explained to me and that is what I believe.  I don’t know all the details.  I had just heard that after Grace moved, she would lock Natasha in the closet and fed her only one meal a day.

Tori is not the most educated, but she has a good heart.  In addition to caring for Natasha, she also allowed her ex-husband to move back in.  What a sap he is.  Roger is a professional bum who donates plasma twice a week so that he at least has enough money for his smokes. He doesn’t take the incentive to clean up after himself – let alone someone else.  He’s a know-it-all talk machine. If Roger could make a career out of talking on and on just to hear the sound of his own voice, he would be a millionarire.  One minute with Roger makes spending an entire day with Cliff Calvin seem comfortable   At least Cliff appeared to have a job

I’m unclear as how it is that Tori gained custody of Natasha. Perhaps DCFS was involved.  In Tori’s eyes she is the one who raised Natasha from the time she was a baby. I don’t know who assisted Tori into finding a way to legally adopt Natasha. 

Natasha was happy to have Tori as a mom and was willing to make sacrifices to help her as she had been helped herself.  So when Tori held a yard sale in order to raise a little money, Natasha volunteered - of her own free will - to sell her bike.

            I don’t fully understand why Roland seems drawn to yard sells – but he can always spot them while out driving.  Just before our first summer living in West Valley he was on his way somewhere when he noticed Natasha’s bike and stopped off to make a inquire about the bike. He paid for it and said he would return for the bike at a later time. Natasha, who appeared to be just as friend-hungry as Jenna, offered to bring it over so that she could meet the new owner of her bike. 

            So for about two years the girls played together off and on – once or twice a week, a few times a month, and then every other month.  And then it was about a year before we saw Natasha again.  It was always hit and miss.  Tori was always working – but Roger was always there (unless he was out selling plasma or picking up smokes) 
            Natasha didn’t understand why Tori worked all the time – that the hours she had put in were to support them financially and pay the attorney and fees. Tori wished to move – find a place for just her and Natasha – far away from where they live currently.  Only two bedrooms instead of three so she could honestly tell Roger that there would be no room for him.  So her house went up for sale, but the attorneys advised against it.  And then she went bankrupt and lost the house and had to take the sign down as it now belongs to the bank, but she’s been paying rent from what she tells me. Not really sure how that works - but she's still there and just scraping by financially.

Natasha has spent too much time with Roger.  She hasn’t been respectful to either him or Tori.  She’s acquired many of his bad habits.  Doesn’t lift a finger, even when Tori asks her to.  Tori has allowed the two of them to walk all over her.  I wouldn’t put up with it (but then again, I would have never got involved with Roger in the first place – let alone taken him back)

I saw Natasha and Tori the other night when Jenna and I were returning home after a long day to end her summer.  Natasha was out riding her scooter.  She seemed so forlorn and distant – as though she has given up on life.  She’s only twelve. She just started junior high.  I hope she makes friends there and doesn’t break.  I was just so sad as I watched her not caring.

While Jenna ran home to get her scooter, I walked Natasha to her house and Tori came out to tell her something.  She looked awful – Tori did.  Her hair is short and quite thin.  She has red splotches all over her face.  She says she has cancer. I don’t know what kind. I know her financial affairs are not the greatest.  The disease will most likely kill her as she doesn’t seem to know how to prioritize her affairs.  And Roger does absolutely nothing to help her. 

My heart breaks for both her and Natasha. What will become of her if /when Tori dies. Is that why Natasha seems so distant?

I told her about a place not too far from here.  I hope that she is able to remove Natasha from her current living environment.  I hope she takes the time to teach her daughter the values that she might have once had before Roger corrupted her.  I hope Natasha realizes that education and work will work to her advantage much better than following in Roger's footsteps and trying to continue life as a bum. I hope she understands the sacrifices that Tori has made and that she will find strength to overcome.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Opposites Attract

Roland likes a hearty spaghetti sauce
Full of large pieces of meat and vegetables
I like a little more sauce.
Roland likes LOTS of onions
I’m happy with just a piece of the onion
It has to be finely chopped.

Roland likes hard ginger snap cookies
I like cookies that are soft –
Preferably chocolate chip
None of that peppery strength that
Jenna and I taste with the ginger snap.

Roland likes Italian meats. 
He likes the meat lovers pizza or
At least a combination
I like Hawaiian or Vegetarian or
Just something different –
Something with Alfredo or Pesto
Roland says Chicken does NOT belong on a pizza.

Roland likes his bagels with butter or
Cream cheese and jelly
I like bagels with cream cheese. 
Sometimes cream cheese and a
Fresh tomato.
We both prefer our bagels toasted.

Roland insists on having a drink with his meal
But rarely ever finishes drinking it.
I doubt he drinks more than 20 ounces in a given day
I drink water – lots of it.  Especially in the summer.
I drink 2 – 5 quarts of liquid a day. 
Most of it is water.

Roland is an extravert with lots of charisma and charm
People like Roland.
People remember Roland.
I may not be as introverted as my siblings
But I’m certainly not the social magnet
Especially since we moved to West Valley
He’s aggressive.
I’m a door mat.
No, not really. 
But sometimes I feel like I am.

Roland is an excellent driver.
He can focus on several things
When he is behind the steering wheel.
I don’t actually enjoy driving.
I do it because it’s necessary for
Getting Jenna to school.
I told Roland I don’t have many years
Left in me before the state takes my license
The way they did with my mom

Roland is the one who stays up until
All of the children are home
I''m the one who goes to bed.
He sleeps with blankets on all year round
I might use the covers ten times at the most 
Roland and I both like to start projects.
He is much better at following through
I really need to learn to finish the job.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Black and White: Tale of Two Cars

Black and White: Tale of Two Cars

We have two cars – each manufactured the same year.  One is a white Buick and the other is a black Saturn.
The electronics have gone on the Buick – the ones that communicate anyway.  The ones on the dashboard which tell us we need our oil checked or engine serviced or what have you.  We can’t even read the counter to know how many miles we’ve gone or always know if our tank is full. According to the dashboard it’s always full. 
Driving the Buick can be scary as we cannot see what gear we’re in but have to feel our way.  The back door on the passenger side has a huge dent from being in an accident. The window on that door doesn’t roll down.  I fully believed that our 2011 license renewal would be the last one.  And here it’s held up for nearly two years longer than I thought it would.  We truly have been blessed.  It does get me where I need to go.  I say a lot of prayers before and as I am driving.

We used to have a blue Saturn Ion – which I liked and would have liked to drive again.  But Randy sold it.  And so I’m mostly stuck with the Buick.

The black Saturn was initially my mom’s – though Roland and I did put the most miles on her car each time we borrowed it to go see his family.  I don’t trust the Buick enough to be too far from the city – and between Salt Lake and Tucson there are just too many po-duc towns that fold up at 6:00 at night plus too many stretches of desolation in between. 

Mom hadn’t even driven her car for the last year that she was at home.  Nate and I took turns using it. But Roland offered to buy the car not only so that we could put that money towards the cost of assisted living, but so we would have another working car.

The Saturn is generally the car he drives.  It is black.  It is hot.  It is small.  Generally I prefer the smaller cars, but I don’t appreciate the buckle holder poking at my rear no matter how much I try to adjust both the buckle and my rear.  And I really hate having my fingers burn off in just trying to open the door.  Apparently Roland doesn’t even notice.

I don’t like driving the car after Roland has had it because it suddenly becomes a dumpster on wheels.  Though I suppose Jenna has kept the back seat floor just as trashy.  She is nine but I allow her to sit in front.  (The car seat law should be on hight and weith – not age.  Same with clothes) I can usually point to items and say to Jenna that I need her to throw this and that away.  But I’m not always with Roland when the car gets littered nor have I been successful at always having him clean up right away. In fact, I think I have picked up some terrible habits myself.

Currently the Saturn is actually in better shape as far as neatness goes.  Time for me to clean the Buick out AGAIN.