Not much of a rebel

I'm currently trying to finish reading a book that was due back at the library yesterday. As it is, my stomach is in knots and I'm anxious and a little jumpy. You don't think the library sends enforcers out to collect, do you?

I know, I know. I come off as cool and collected, unconcerned by the world and unaffected by the rules that regulate it. But that's really not me. I'm all about conformity. I've never been pulled over by a cop and I've never gotten a parking ticket. I obey the crosswalk signals and I always use my turn signal. I pay my taxes on time and I even report my large out-of-state purchases when I file. I respect "no trespassing" and "do not enter" signs. I licensed my dog and kept her vaccines up-to-date (notice the past tense.) Every time we've moved I've licensed and registered our cars within the ridiculously short time period required by law. When I was a kid I even licensed my bike with the city. Nauseating, isn't it?

But it doesn't end there. I always pay my bills on time and balance my checkbook to the penny. I vote in every election and return my absentee ballot as soon as I've filled it out. I'll even have Nate's ready to sign and return . . . how does he put up with me? I have a separate bin for recyclables and a third for redeemable beverage containers. I even accurately report my height and weight whenever requested on an official document, no matter how painful it may be.

I'm guess I'm just too much of a chicken to rock the boat with action or inaction. Now my mouth is a whole 'nother story. I'm always ready to voice my opinion and make a complaint about the idiocy, inefficiency, and hypocrisy of business and government. My soapbox is always overturned and ready to be stood on. I guess that makes me a windbag . . .

Oh well, in the classic words of Popeye, "I yam what I yam." And now I need to quit writing and get this book read. Every tick of the multitude of clocks in my house sound more and more like a time bomb. After all, come 11pm my anxiety level will rise and I'll owe another 25 cents towards my library fine.

10 weeks young

Franklin hit the 10 week mark yesterday. He weighs a little over 12 lbs and is a little more than 24 inches. Don't ask for more specifics 'cause I don't have them. With three other Things running around I'm just lucky I remembered to take him to the doctor to be measured and weighed.

Speaking of the doctor, Sketch had his first round of vaccines last week. I'm pretty sure before the visit he was a happy, or at least content, kid. I'm seriously sleep deprived though, so maybe I'm just imagining that. But I know for a fact that right now he is a little grump. I have to put on a real dog and pony show to get the slightest smile out of him - so still no real verification of double dimples. And he only laughs while he's sleeping. Apparently, my show is lousy and not nearly as entertaining as his dreams.

Maybe it's just coincidence, but I'm thinking the needle poke seriously ticked him off and he still hasn't forgiven me. Or I don't know. Maybe the sleep deprivation has finally lapsed into paranoia. Whatever the reason for his grumpiness I hope it wears off soon, and stays away until he's at least teenager and has real reason to hold a grudge.


This month in my history

I always look forward to summer being a time of non-eventful relaxation. I must be an enigma for Pavlov since I have very little recent experience with relaxing Augusts. Do they even exist? Read further for more insight:

August 2008
Franklin's blessing brought family to town. We visited the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach. Very fun, but not without a certain level of stress. If you were here visiting, please don't feel bad. I have learned to tune out many of my personal stress triggers, but translation is still eluding me. And yes, we'd love to have you back anytime.

August 2007
Addison's 8th birthday in July meant her baptism in August. We had family in town (see August 2008.) We attended the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach with said family. I was recovering from an unfortunate steam burn incident (please don't boil water in the microwave) and looked like the loser in a prize-fight match. Addy went back to Utah with Nana and Papa, where they held her hostage until her primary teacher was able to negotiate her return home. We (Things 1-3 and myself) went camping at Big Bear with two other moms and a total of 10 kids, and Addy finally learned to ride her bike sans training wheel (peer pressure can be a good thing.)

August 2006
We were living in transition in Utah and California. In June '06 Nate started working at Black & Decker/HHI in CA and our home in North Carolina was listed for sale. Keeping a spotless house with 3 busy kids became too much to handle so we relocated to Utah to be closer to California. Addy took swimming lessons at a water park, Ellie learned to walk, and Jack played soccer - as well as he could from atop Nate's shoulders, anyway. We celebrated our 10th anniversary in different states. Addy entered 2nd grade at her 3rd elementary school (the same school Nate attended as a wee lad). Nate was living out of a really, really crappy hotel and house hunting/ward shopping on weekends. He communicated the precariousness of our situation (i.e., my mental status) well enough that BDK guaranteed our NC mortgage, allowing us to buy a house in CA. With a couple days notice I flew to CA and our pain-in-the-@** buying experience entailed. That story requires a whole post of its own.

August 2005
We were settling in to our new home in North Carolina, we bought a riding mower for our large dirt patch, and we built a fence on our neighbor's property. Addy attended her first soccer camp and was preparing to enter 1st grade at her 2nd elementary school. She and Nate flew to Orlando for a daddy-daughter weekend date at Disneyworld. I was contemplating the consequences of enrolling Jack in a Joy School group (biggest one - I'd have to take turns teaching.) My parents came to visit before heading on to Europe and we traveled with all three kids to Utah for Zach & Carly's wedding.

August 2004
Nate was working as an intern for GMAC in Winston-Salem, NC. He lived out of a one bedroom apartment and slept on an AeroBed. Addy, Jack, and I were living in Boston and Addy was preparing to enter kindergarten. I flew to and from Utah with Things 1 & 2. We celebrated our 8th anniversary in different states. We took a mini vacation to New Hampshire and visited Storybook Land. I purchased Addy's school uniforms only to find out, two days before school started, that she had been reassigned to a different school.

August 2003
We moved from Utah/Texas to Boston. Addy and Jack stayed in Utah with Nana and Papa while Nate and I loaded all our stuff from a storage unit in south Texas into a 25' Penske truck and drove, over the course of 4 days, to Boston. We lost a wheel on the car trailer we were towing, we stayed in crappy hotels, and we spent our 7th anniversary at a truck stop in Connecticut. Then we moved into a teeny 650sf (ish) two bedroom apartment. I flew back to Utah for my super fabulous friend Linsey's wedding and to save the grandparentals from the kiddos.

August 2002
We were still unpacking boxes at our new home in Mission, TX. Nate was working in Mexico and had to cross the border every day. I was hugely pregnant with Jack and I missed Lauren & Joe's wedding in Hawaii because whales aren't allowed to fly.

August 2001
We attended an Olsen family reunion in Sequim, WA and then returned home to CA with family in tow. We attended a taping of the Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno and spent our 5th anniversary at Six Flags Magic Mountain. We took Addy to Disneyland for her very first time and then decided to move from Valencia, CA to Johnstown, PA and sell the town home we had purchased just two months earlier.

August 2000
We were settling into our apartment in Stevenson Ranch, CA. Sounds simple enough, right? Moving to a new state is NEVER simple!

August 1999
We were living in Towson, Maryland and I had a new baby. Really, that should be enough. It wasn't. I also made an emergency trip with 5 week old Addison to Hawaii to see my Grandpa Day who was in the hospital and not expected to live.

August 1998
I graduated from BYU. We house boated on Lake Powell with my family and Nate's little sister, Mallory. I started working full-time at Castle Builders. The school stress was over, but a new kind of stress was just beginning.

August 1997
We were reveling in the space and light of our new rental home in Orem, UT. I changed my major from Construction Management to Economics and then Nate and I jumped out of an airplane.

August 1996
Nate and I got married in the Hawaii Temple and honeymooned on Kauai. The reception was a week after the wedding - BAD idea. We flew back to Utah and settled into our first apartment where we lived as cellar dwellers. We were quickly required to respond to every concern of Leola, our ancient landlady who lived above.

August 1995
I moved my stuff out of a storage unit and into an apartment off campus after spending the summer in Italy and Hawaii. Sounds relaxing enough, right? Except then I had to find a job.

August 1994
I dyed my hair dark brown and moved from the comforts of home to BYU. Where exactly? Well, that wasn't determined until a week or so after I arrived in Utah. The dorms were full so I spent a couple nights with my cousin in her off-campus apartment. I had a rollerblading accident and got lost in Provo (yes it's possible, even with the addresses on a grid), but did manage to find a bed in the 2nd floor common room of Chipman Hall (Helaman Halls).

August 1993
I had a job, attended band camp, and was preparing for my senior year of high school. Yes, that's IT. 1993 was the last August I can remember that was relaxing and relatively uneventful, although now that I think about it . . . band camp was hardly relaxing.

Looking back on the Augusts of my past I can more fully appreciate Geoffrey and the Toys R Us jingle, "I don't wanna grow up . . . "


Since you all care what I think . . .

Lately, I've been watching much of the Olympic games coverage on TV, as I'm sure many of you have. It's got me to thinking.

The motto of the modern Olympic Games, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (meaning faster, higher, stronger) was coined by Father Henri Martin Didon, principal of Arcueil College, near Paris. I believe this motto lends the games to be a competition of speed, skill, and strength of the individual athlete.

So what's with the hyper variety of sports included in the Olympic games?

Gymnastics, Diving, Synchronized Swimming: I don't think the games were intended to be a test of subjective qualities such as grace and agility. I don't believe judges were ever meant to be active participants in the games, other than to mediate disputes or discourage cheating. I call for all sports that don't allow the average fan to easily distinguish between winner and loser to be dispelled from the Olympic games.

If your sport awards a score for "artistic presentation" . . . GONE
If your sport requires an instant replay to monitor style or technique . . . GONE
If your sport leaves open for judges to cheat on scoring . . . GONE
If your sport requires makeup or costumes . . . GONE

Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball, Water Polo, Baseball, Handball, Hockey, Softball, Rowing (w/coxswn): I don't think team sports should be included in the Olympics. It doesn't sit well with me when the best player on the 3rd place team wins bronze, while the bench warmer on the 1st place team walks away with gold. How is that an accurate representation of ability or athleticism? And how about the rowing coxswain? He's not faster, higher, or stronger. Does a human metronome really deserve an Olympic medal? Team sports should be left to the World Championships or World Series, venues established to test and reward the proficiency of a team.

Note: I make exception for team sports that require full and active participation of all team members. Beach volleyball, doubles tennis & badminton, and relay races for example; if one player is injured or just plain lousy, you definitely ain't gonna win.

Equestrian: I'm troubled by Olympic sports that involve animals. It seems to me your success or failure shouldn't hinge on the strength or skill of an animal. This isn't the Humane Society Games and PETA isn't a sponsor. Let's leave the Olympics to the homo sapiens and reserve these other sports for the Animal Channel.

Let's be realistic folks. Just because it makes you sweat doesn't make it a sport worthy of Olympic participation. The ancients had it right (except for the competing in the nude part) with fewer sports included in the original Olympic games. As of this year we're up to 28 sports. What's next - ballroom dancing, chess, cheer leading . . . paintball? Time to scale it back and return focus to the modern Olympic mission of faster, higher, stronger.

On a final note . . .

The Olympic Creed reads, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

If this is the case, why does the media continue to dwell on the medal count by country? For an event that is supposed to bring together competitors and countries alike, it's adversarial for newspapers and TV to constantly remind the world that we, the US of A, win more medals then any other country represented. I say we rise above the medal count and celebrate the Olympic Games for what they were meant to be - a capitalistic exploitation of sub prime summer television programming. After all, nobody likes a braggart.


What's a corn roast?

Early last year I remember hearing about the famed corn roast that has become an annual tradition for our ward. It was sold to me as a "not-to-miss" event, with food and beach fun for the whole family. I figured it's a time to celebrate the approaching end of summer and a return to the glorious regimen of the school year. At least that's how I choose to interpret a mid-August beach party. So of course we couldn't miss it last year, and we were certain not to miss it this year.

The biggest change to the event this year is it was held at Aliso Beach Park in Laguna Beach, rather than at last year's Pico Beach in San Clemente. This change brought a couple major improvements to the whole experience. Besides having cleaner sand and being a few miles closer to home, Aliso Beach has parking available right next to the sand. This meant no lugging beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, toys, and kids down stairs or steep pathways. More importantly, it meant no lugging beach chairs, umbrellas, waterlogged towels, toys, and kids UP stairs or steep pathways to get back to the car after the party.

We planned for this beach outing for just a minute or two before jumping in the car to head out. Surprisingly enough, we didn't forget the beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, toys, or kids. We remembered a bouncy seat, blanket, and change of clothes for Sketch. We remembered money for parking and even the camera for recording all these special moments. I did forget the sunscreen, but this shindig didn't start until after 4pm, so my forgetfulness was intentional. Strangely enough, I've found that if I forget something on purpose I won't forget something accidentally.

Even with all that planning we drove into the parking lot just as the blessing was being given on the food. Oops! We had all the ice and beverages in the car with us. Do you think the prayer followed us (and the drinks) as we drove around looking for a parking spot?

After unloading the beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, toys, kids, and beverages, and staking out our postage-stamp piece of sand, we dug into the food. This is where my confusion stems from. This year (just as last year) we dined on salads and fruit, hot dogs and brats, a multitude of treats and chips, and the event's namesake item: unhusked corn-on-the-cob boiled in ocean water over an open flame. Wouldn't that make this party a corn boil?

Regardless of what you call it, we had a pretty good time. Sketch made his formal beach debut and Things 1-3 ingested a respectable quantity of sand. The wind was breezy, the water was cold and salty, the sand was sticky, and the towels were sufficiently waterlogged by the time evening approached. We all (including the car) were in dire need of baths long before we arrived home.


It's Been One Week

since our 12th anniversary. We spent it having dinner with Sketch (lucky baby) at what may just be my new favorite restaurant. Who knew you could wear shorts and slippers (flip flops, thongs, . . . whatever) to an upscale, urban chic, minimalistic seafood/Polynesian fusion place? I didn't, but other people did - and they seemed to be quite comfortable in all their southern California under dressed glory.

On to the food . . .

Appetizer - Homemade potato chips are a tasty treat we discovered while living in North Carolina (everything really is better when it's deep fried.) When I saw a more refined version on the menu, a tower of parmesan sweet potato chips with chipotle ranch dressing for dipping, I was intrigued enough to order. The presentation was a whimsical conversation piece (after 12 years you need a little help in that department) and my palate was extremely pleased. Appetizer mission accomplished, I'd say.

Main Course - I'm typically not one for taking chances on fish; cause when it's bad, it's really bad. But I figured it was a special occasion, and we weren't too far from home in case my insides rejected the exotic culinary creation I was to indulge in. So I chose the "opah", a Hawaiian moonfish considered to be "lucky" when it graces the nets of a simple fisherman (lucky for whom?) In this instance I was the lucky one. This crab crusted delight with ginger vegetables, coconut jasmine rice and lemon buerre blanc was yummy, yummy, and more yummy.

Nate had the center-cut filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes, burgundy gorgonzola butter, and onion strings. A sample of his filet was my first experience with livestock that truly melts in your mouth. This restaurant has ruined me, for I will never be satisfied with another steak again.

Dessert - While not in our original plans because I'm usually too stuffed to comfortably sit after such a divine meal, our waiter talked us into a hot fudge sundae with toasted macadamia nuts for dessert, made even tastier because it was on the house!

On a final note: while reading the menu, I couldn't help but be grateful that Addy wasn't with us - her "FISH ARE FRIENDS, NOT FOOD!" sign really would have been distracting to the other diners.


Another "Monster of the Minute"

They keep on comin' in our family. Today's winner is Ellie!

Don't let the coy smile and sprinkling of freckles fool you. This one is a mini-monster with the most-est (and the best disguise). She's above neither fibs nor flattery if it means getting what she wants. She knows exactly which buttons to push and when. For example:

Nana, Mallory, and Austen were here to help out when Sketch was born. Nana helped Jack write out a shopping list for an upcoming trip to the grocery store and he proudly displayed it on the fridge once it was completed. Ellie quietly took note of his achievement and filed the information for later use. She got her chance to attack when Nana announced it was time to clean up the playroom (directly adjacent to the kitchen.) Ellie swiftly pranced over to the fridge, swiped Jack's list, crumpled it up, and declared, "THIS goes in the garbage." Poor Jack . . . so not a happy camper. Ellie was pleased as punch and giggled with glee, thrilled to have done her part to clean up.

Smelly Ellie Bean Machine, I hope you get this out of your system before junior high . . .


Come and gone

The end of July came fast and furious. My parents (Grammie & Pappy) flew in to meet their newest grandkid.

Pappy riles him up . . .

. . . and Grammie settles him down.

Addy's 9th birthday meant a trip to the Aquarium in Long Beach, a snorkler cake, and a first-hand tutorial on "Heavy, Heavy, Hangover".

We found time to attend our stake's 24th of July Pioneer Celebration, complete with live music, period costumes, face painting (and body painting - see the slideshow below for Jack's "muscles"), burgers, pie, watermelon, and snow cones (if only they were REAL shave ice.)

Nate and my dad installed a new dining room chandelier and moved a ceiling fan into the entry. They tackled the new recessed can and pendant lights in the kitchen. They also moved a dozen granite boulders (ok, maybe not THAT big) from the backyard to the front.

It's a reprieve to have extra testoterone in the house. I'm pretty confident I could help Nate move rocks and complete electrical work, but it's just so nice to not have to. So sorry I don't have before and after photos to show. For some reason we're always in such a hurry to rip out the old that we never remember to take pictures first.

Nate's parents (Nana & Papa), along with his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew (Zach, Carly, and Owen), and his little sister and niece (Mallory and Austen) drove in from Utah. Things 1, 2, and 3 spent a whole day at the hotel swimming pool with Nana and Papa. Ellie was a little concerned as to why Nana was letting those other people (hotel guests) swim at her house. The kids want so badly for closer grandparents that Ellie decided they must have bought a house (a Marriott, no less) and moved to California.

We all made an evening trip to the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach where Jack and Addy tried their hand at throwing pottery.

Can you tell Jack had more than a little help from the girl at the station? I don't have photos of Addy to post - my camera batteries died and I had to use Zach's camera. Email me copies, Zach!!

The festivities of the weekend culminated in Franklin's blessing. This is the most family members we've ever had present one of our babies' blessings . . . just another one of the benefits of living in southern California.

Poor kid - had to skip naptime and his outfit was giving him a wedgie.