Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Free for All: I'm Sorry

FFA Topic of the Week: Write a letter to someone apologizing for something you're not really sorry for.

Dear Kevin,

I’m really sorry about that yard sale that my sister, Jenni, and I put in front of your house back in college. That must have been really frustrating to see a “Welcome to Kevin Okleberry’s Wild World of Western Wear Yard Sale!” sign on your front lawn, when clearly you had no intention of holding a yard sale that Saturday morning.

I just hope you can forgive us for gathering up all our old clothes, unwanted boots, hats, puzzles, and whatever else we could find (including Jenni’s little brother’s underoos on which Jenni wrote “Lil’ Buckaroos”) and dumping them all in your yard or hanging them from the trees and bushes. We really should have just taken them to D.I. like they were originally intended.

I especially feel bad about the people who started knocking on your door early that morning, waking you up to ask you how much things were, and trying to give you a quarter for a pair of old jeans. I’m guessing you didn’t appreciate that since you’d been up late working the night before.

And it probably didn’t help matters that we put signs up on University Avenue directing people to your home and advertising the yard sale starting at 6:00 AM. We heard you got quite the crowd.

So, sorry about all that. But hey, no hard feelings, huh?


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mitch Hedberg Take 2

So, it looks like the video on my last post isn't working anymore, so I'm posting one more for those of you who may be interested.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Why I Love Mitch Hedberg

So, once for my birthday, my brother Cody sent me an email with about a million quotes from Mitch Hedberg, a comdian he'd recently discovered. Seriously made me laugh so hard. Plus, I can't believe how long it had to have taken him to type them all up (not to mention, I don't think he's a speed typer, if you know what I mean.) That's the kind of brother he is, though.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Free for All: The Camera Loves You

FFA Topic of the Week: Who should play you in the movie version of your life?

Well, maybe Kate Winslet, but not after Titanic and Sense and Sensibility when she got too thin, and uh, blonde.

When I asked Ellis who he thought, he said Julianne Moore. I'm not sure why. Maybe just because she has red hair? But, okay. I've always liked her.

And, of course, the hair is always a consideration. I mean, to really tell my life story, you'd have to include all the torment of having curly hair during my adolescence. For instance, Damian Anderson used to always tell me he'd lost something (his pencil, a calculator, a rake, a cooler of Pepsi . . . ) and start looking for it in my hair. Good times.

So, with that in mind, maybe we'd need to go with Nicole Kidman (back when she used to actually have curly hair) or Keri Russell. By the way, I just saw her in Waitress not too long ago, and WOW! I thought she was incredible. So, yeah, now that I think about it, I'd like her to play me in the movie of my life. Talk about talent. Although, she'd have to go back to curly. Come on, woman. Have some pride in your natural curl!

Hmmm . . . how accurate do you think this is?

You Are An ENFP
The Inspirer

You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends.
You are also unconventional, irreverent, and unimpressed by authority and rules.
Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives.
You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You're quite the storyteller!

In love, you are quite the charmer. And you are definitely willing to risk your heart.
You often don't follow through with your flirting or professed feelings. And you do break a lot of hearts.

At work, you are driven but not a workaholic. You just always seem to enjoy what you do.
You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

How you see yourself: compassionate, unselfish, and understanding

When other people don't get you, they see you as: gushy, emotional, and unfocused

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Free for All: Tradition!

FFA Topic of the Week: Okay, we all know everyone has wonderful, cherished family and holiday traditions we just couldn't live without. (I mean, hey, where would Halloween be if I didn't traditionally sneak candy out of my kids treat bags after they've gone to bed?) But what are some of your traditions that you could really do without?

I know this really makes me into some sort of crappy mom, but if there's one family tradition I could do without, it would be our bedtime traditions.

It all started innocently enough. When Larrin was just a little gal, we began the whole night time process: bath, reading stories, brushing teeth (when she got some), saying prayers together, both of us tucking her into bed and talking with her for a while before saying good night. It was kind of a nice little nightly routine.

Okay, so here we are a couple of kids later, and there is nothing I dread so much as bedtime. I try to sneak out of it whenever I can. You know, last minute trips to the store (oops! We're out of milk!) or to the library (I totally forgot this movie was due back today!), but I usually can't get out of it.

Anymore, it just seems like such a fight to get them to do anything at bedtime. It's a battle of cleaning up of toys, putting on pajamas, picking out clothes for the next day (for the school-bound), and countless other little tasks that for some reason, can only be accomplished in the minutes before the kids are supposed to be in bed.

I just want them to go to bed. Is that so wrong? So why does it take SO long?? It should be a fairly simple process, but usually you'll hear one or more of the following from me or Ellis during the traditional bedtime scenario:

"Marley, would you get off the toilet already? You've already been in there for 10 minutes."

"Lucy! Lucy, come here! Lucy! Lucy! No, kneel down for prayers. No, kneel. No, get off your sister! Just come here! No, you can jump after prayers. Kneel down!!" (Really sets the tone for the moment.)

"Who left all the Polly Pockets out?"

"Has everyone had vitamins? Who hasn't? Marley, why did you take another one from me if you've already had one??"

"Only one story tonight, and I mean it! If this room isn't cleaned up in five minutes, then NO stories! You think I'm kidding?"

"Larrin, why didn't you tell me earlier that this flag had to be colored for school tomorrow? You told me all your homework was done!"

"Okay, just one more joke, and then you need to go to sleep. Seriously, this is the last one."

"Will you two STOP fighting before I lose my mind?!"

"Why does NO ONE have their pajamas on yet??"

Okay, now, I love my children. And I do love being with them, and reading them books, and listening to their jokes. I just don't want to do it at bedtime. That's when I just want to go hide somewhere else in the house with a book and some Oreos until they're all in bed. Look, I hate the whole process of getting myself in bed . . . taking out the contacts, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas. It's all a big hassle. So, I can hardly be expected to enjoy doing it for three other people, can I?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

To Be a Mother

One of my favorite stories . . . never fails to make me bawl like a baby.

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

"To Be a Mother"

We are sitting at lunch when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a survey," she says, half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations . . ."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé on her best crystal without a moment's hesitation.

I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood.

She might arrange for a babysitter, but one day she will be going out shopping and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of her discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, the issue of independence will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years--not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her children accomplish theirs.

I want my daughter to know that her relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of anything that might destroy my children's future.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or a cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say.

Then I reach across the table, squeeze my daughter's hand and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings. This blessed gift from God . . that of being a Mother.

"Author Unknown"

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday Free for All: Leading a Double Life

FFA Topic of the Week: What do you, or would you, hide from your kids?

My addictions. And like any good addict, I hide them well. During the day, I limit how much TV my children watch, how much sugary stuff they eat, and [attempt to] force them to eat their vegetables. I’m strict about bedtime (although, let’s face it – this is probably more about my need for sanity at the end of the day than about them getting their beauty sleep.)

After the kids are in bed, though, I lead a double life. Think Angelina Jolie’s character in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, only instead of assassinating people for a living and wearing lingerie under a trench coat, my secret identity involves eating large quantities of ice cream and staying up late watching crap on TV while wearing old sweats.

So, yeah, I’m a hypocrite. I admit it. Ellis and I have often bemoaned the fact that one day our kids won’t be going to bed at 8:30, and then how are we going to hide the batch of no-bake cookies that we eat all in one sitting? Or the fact that we’ll stay up until 2:00 in the morning watching episodes of 24 or Arrested Development?

The other tricky part is that as the kids get older, it’s getting harder to hide my stash. I think they’re on to me. I’m having to get more creative with my hiding spots. Look, it’s for their own good. I know that it’s not good to eat a bunch of cookies or candy bars (hey, they were 4 for $1 at Maverick, okay?) every day. I hide the cookies so that they can maintain their health, and so their teeth won’t rot out of their heads. Yeah, I love them that much. One day they’ll thank me. (Or maybe not, if I find a good enough hiding place . . . )

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pals? I don't think so.

So, I decided that I really need to make some changes to my eating habits since lately I seem to be consuming more than my share (and 4 or 5 other people's share) of food items that may not necessarily fall in the "healthy" food category. I found this website,, that helps you keep track of what you are eating. It seemed pretty cool because you can choose to have it track your carbs, protein, fat, calcium, fiber, or whatever you want.

Then, I started using it. And let me just tell you something, My Fitness Pal is no pal of mine. Do you think I really need someone (okay, thing) telling me that 3 Oreo cookies has 160 calories? I mean, who in their right mind eats only 3?? I ate the whole row, and then had to log it into the site. Let's just talk about how humiliating that was.

If My Fitness Pal was a real friend, it would tell me that only the first 3 Oreos counted. Or, like my sister, that all the fat and calories are in the last bite, and if you don't eat the last bite, then you don't eat all the fat and calories.

Where's the love, pal? I don't need to hear about it if I choose not to exercise one day (or one week, whatever), okay? A true friend wouldn't bring up such a touchy subject. A true friend would just tell me that I still look good in my favorite jeans, and then we'd go to Cold Stone to celebrate.

So don't go trying to convince me that we're friends, okay? I know what you really are. And would you just shut up about a serving of ice cream being only 1/2 cup?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

National Health Care?? [Gasp!]

So, I was talking with my good friend Jenni-O the other day (although she has been married for years now, I still reserve the right to retain the O on her name) about her grandmother who just went through quadruple by-pass surgery and the many woes she has experienced of late with the health care industry in general. Ridiculous, really, but I think everyone has their horror stories of health care and health insurance, in particular.

It got me thinking about a movie that Ellis and I watched the other night called Sicko by Michael Moore. Now, I know what you're thinking -- that Michael Moore is crazy! Well, at least, I always thought he was, and I never had any desire to see any of his movies. Oh yeah, I'd heard all the hype about him, and I wasn't interested.

Well, Ellis has read several of his books, and he picked up Sicko at the library. I didn't really want to watch it, but he threw it in one night while I was holding a sick, little Lucy for a few hours, and I was pretty defenseless.

So here's the thing: the movie was fantastic! Seriously, it was completely entertaining (Moore is very funny) and very informative. I guess I hadn't realized that we were one of the few countries in the Western Hemisphere without national health care. Not only that, so many of the beliefs I had about national health care were dispelled.

Here are just a few of those myths:
1. You have to wait hours in waiting rooms, or months to have surgeries. Well, according to the people in Canada, France, and England that Moore interviewed, that's just not true.

2. You can't pick which doctor you go to. Again, not true. With national health care, all doctors are paid through the government, so you can go to any of them.

3. Doctors aren't paid as well. Well, according to a doctor Moore interviewed in England, this doctor feels he's doing pretty well. He is a family doctor who makes about $200,000 a year, lives in a million-dollar home, and drives some fancy car (I can't remember what it was). The nice thing was, he only had a mortgage to worry about because his college career was paid for! He basically had no debt. Huh, that would be nice.

Overall, though, I think we all know that our health care system is a big, fat mess right now. Something really has to be done. When I think about how much money Americans fork out every year for insurance that doesn't even pay for much of the actual health care needed, I feel literally sick.

The thing that really got me, though, was the comment Michael Moore makes at the end of the movie. He questions what kind of country we are that we don't take care of our own people. I wonder that, too.

I think of all the people out there who can't afford health insurance (or even those that can, but it doesn't cover their needs). Are they less deserving of good health care? What has happened to us, as a country, that we won't even take care of our own people? Why is money the overriding motivator here? Why have we not adopted a system that allows every person in this country to get the care they need, whether they are poor or rich?

So, let me just say that I highly recommend this movie. I'm kind of mad at myself for falling for all the crap talk against Moore without every having actually seen any movies he's made or read any of his books. I hate that I made such knee-jerk reactions without even being informed. Sicko was great.

I'm off my soap-box now.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I Can't Wait Until I'm 8

Well, it finally happened. I have a kid old enough to be baptized! Which, of course, means that I'm old enough to have a kid old enough to be baptized. Larrin was baptized and confirmed yesterday afternoon, and the whole weekend proved to be a pretty emotional one for me. All of our family on both sides (who live in the state . . . and few who don't) were there, and we felt so blessed to have such love and support from them.

Grandma Jensen made Larrin this beautiful baptism cake. She is amazingly talented. (Can you see the River Jordan and John baptizing Jesus on the top?)

Papa Bliss was one of the witnesses, and Nana was our chorister.

Grandpa Jensen was the other witness, and Grandma gave the opening prayer.

The stake assigned us to do a musical number, and I couldn't believe our luck at having Cody and Kristy's family there this weekend so they could participate. Larrin's cousins Addison and Kennedy are her same age, so this is a big baptism year for our family. We put together a medley for the baptism of "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" (Larrin's favorite) and "How Will They Know?" (my favorite). The three girls sang the first part, and then their moms (Kristy, Joey, and I) sang "How Will They Know?"

Kristy and Joey's amazing vocal talents really made the song so beautiful.

And, of course, Peggy was there bearing flowers and gifts, as only Peggy would do. Larrin would still rather live at her house than ours.

Fate seemed to be with us for this baptism. Not only did we get Cody and Kristy's family (see chunky baby Ava above), but it also happened to be the day before Alyssa left for China! Larrin was so happy she got to be there.

Overall, it was an amazing day. I can't believe how lucky we are to have a daughter like Larrin who has made such good choices and has such a beautiful spirit. She bore her testimony today in Sacrament meeting about how she felt when she got baptized, and I was thinking, "Where did this kid come from? How in the world did I deserve her?" I'm just so thankful she is in my life and for the example she is to her two little sisters.

Friday, May 2, 2008

FFA: Too Cool. Always.

Friday Free For All Topic of the week: What is the lamest thing you ever did as a teenager that you thought was SOOOOO cool?

Like Jenni, I think my problem is that I still think the things I did as a teenager were cool, but I think the bigger problem wass that I just thought the things I did were funny. Whether or not anyone else seemed to think so.

Exhibit A: Jenni and I convinced a kid in our 9th grade math class that her middle name was "Liberty Bell." We thought we were hilarious. (Yeah, I still think we were.)

Exhibit B: A bunch of friends and I used to make our own movies. We did a complete episode of The Newly-Wed Game and several episodes of our own Saturday Night Live. Again, we thought we were so funny. Those who had different kinds of plans on their Friday nights may have disagreed.

But I called my very oldest friend, Alyse, last night to brainstorm for some ideas. We both agreed that almost everything we did when we were younger was completely dorky, even though we thought we were awesome. We just couldn't remember very many of them. Oh sure, there were the photo shoots staged in my bedroom, or the times we made up and recorded our own songs on my tape recorder, or even the way Alyse used to yell out whenever she saw someone wearing camoflage pants -- "He's not wearing any pants! I can't see his pants!"

But one instance stood out in both our minds that I've decided to include even though it would have to fall into the "tween" category, rather than teen years. Some of you may or may not remember the cartoon phenomenon of the 80s called Jem and Holograms. Jem was a totally cool rock star (believe me, she was cool) and in her band, the Holograms, were her friends Kimber, Aja, and Shana.

Well, one year when I got a Jem doll for my birthday, you can imagine how ecstatic I was to find that it came with a tape with 3 of the Jem and the Holograms songs on it! And here's the really exciting part -- the other side of the tape had just the instrumental of those 3 songs. I think you can see where this is headed.

That's right -- our own rock band. I was Jem (hey, it was my tape, okay?), Alyse was Aja, and Denise was Kimber. We couldn't convince any of our other friends to be Shana, surprisingly.

So we practiced our three songs for hours in the back of an abandoned old horse trailer (which conveniently had no top to it) in this weedy old yard behind my back yard. We were so cool. We envisioned cleaning up all the weeds and holding a huge and awesome concert there.

Now, okay, we weren't dumb. We realized that 3 songs weren't exactly enough for a whole concert. So we allowed a neighbor boy to be our drummer if he would also tell jokes in between our songs. It was gold.

Even better, Alyse's dad worked for the city, and she was sure that he would be able to get us a gig playing at the city park or maybe even at the high school. Our dreams were big. You may be surprised to learn that the concert never came to fruition. I think it was all those blasted weeds. Weeding just wasn't a top priority when clearly band practice came first. (Oh, did I mention that all our instruments were of the "air" variety?)

Yeah, that's what stopped us from achieving fame and fortune. The weeds.