I’m pretty sure our little Honda Civic wouldn’t make it out of the driveway if we tried. And by snowed in, I really only mean that we can’t drive anywhere. We can walk to the nearby golf course to sled, but today, I’m not sure I can take the whining that we’d be subjected to for 9/10 of the mile it takes to get there. There’s already been so much whining about being forced to eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of cheerios. I’m about 99% decided on letting our house completely run out of any kind of sweetener (except for the necessary maple syrup), so that cheerios will lose their mystery. I don’t know if I’m the only spaz that hates giving kids cheerios, but it always makes me feel like a bad mom. Like I just couldn’t be bothered to make my kids something that is actually healthy.

What do you give your kids for breakfast? And do they whine about it? I do oatmeal (with milk and brown sugar, for crying out loud) about twice a week. I gave them raw granola* with almond milk once, but it didn’t go over that well, even though it’s sort of like eating candy. And regular granola hasn’t been super popular in the past. They all like toast, especially with scrambled or fried eggs, but that’s a once a week thing, and is really limited by the actual presence of bread in our home. Rice pudding is well-liked, but also limited to times we have leftover rice.

So help me out. What are some other breakfast ideas? Part of me wonders if there’s just too much variety, and we’re just too rich. I mean, if all we had in the house was oatmeal, we’d just eat oatmeal, right? Should I try to have just one thing every day?

We’re so spoiled.

*Raw granola is amazing. It’s buckwheat, pecans, apples, raisins, and cinnamon, all soaked, smooshed up, and dehydrated, until it’s this lovely, crunchy, cookie-like granola stuff. I thought my kids would devour it, but maybe it’s even too sweet.

Look how cute my Derek is! P.S., I’m so curious how BYU got the official photo, since I haven’t seen any other photos yet.

Also, who wants to hear about the fun time I had in the ER yesterday? Noone? Ah well. I guess I’ll just sum up with a few choice words. Kiki is fine. She will have a pinky that matches my own deformed one. She was shutting the bathroom door yesterday, with her finger in the crack, and (skipping the gore) we were delivered to the hospital by my wonderful neighbor/friend/awesome babysitter, and 3 1/2 hours later returned home with a stitched up girl with a splint over her fractured pinky bone. She’ll forever be a cripple, just like me. Unless, of course, the bone continues to grow correctly and she never notices anything. I hope she at least gets a weather predictor out of it. Mine doesn’t even do that.

Cow Birth

Originally uploaded by hoosierillusion

The day after Thanksgiving, my family usually does some fun, quirky activity. Like, one year, we made plaster casts of our faces, so my aunt Patty could put them on her wall. One year, we learned how to make soap. This year, we drove to the Fair Oaks Dairy Farm and watched a calf being born. At the farm, there is a calf being born about every half hour, all year round. It’s a big farm.

Needless to say, this experience was pretty incredible. The cow was a heifer, and her calf ended up weighing 80 pounds. She needed assistance, which is rare. After we’d watched her labor for a half hour or so, the vet came out and did a little tugging. He used leather straps, tied around the calf’s hind legs, and cinched them with metal clips so the straps wouldn’t slip out of his hands. My cousin Mike took a video.

Watch at your own risk!

I don’t know how I feel about Le Blog right now. I don’t get all excited to post like I used to. I almost never think, during the course of the day, “Oh, that would make such a funny post!” I think I’ve come to terms with my un-hilarity.

On the other hand, all of you who read and commented on my last post, I don’t ever want to lose you. I wish we all lived on the same street (my street of course, because I live in Utopia). I really, really love you all. So, without further ado, lets talk about the new food guide pyramid that Derek and I have been cooking up.

I don’t have a graphic, but use your imagination. On the top of the pyramid, there are two sides of the point. One side is the bacon side, and the other is the ice cream side. Under the bacon side, and flowing outward, are all the foods that can be combined well with bacon, and under the ice cream side, all the foods that are made better by the addition of ice cream. Directly under the two is the miraculous selection of edibles that is improved by adding either ice cream or bacon, or even both. We feel certain that we can account for nearly every food on Earth in this manner.

For example, this morning, I’m preparing for the Thanksgiving feast with my contribution of pumpkin pie and “Harvest Nuts and Seeds”, a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant that everyone should probably try right now. Anyway, both pumpkin pie and spiced, glazed nuts are pretty obvious candidates for ice cream. But, I bet a little chopped, cooked bacon would be a lovely addition to a bowl of candied nuts. A little salty, a little sweet! It sounds delicious to me. I don’t think I will ever add bacon to pumpkin pie, though. Unless it’s a savory pie. Like maybe a pumpkin quiche. That could definitely use some bacon.

So if you’ve gotten this far, maybe you love me well enough to commiserate with me on the fact that last week, after I’d put up the braggy post about my smart husband getting lauded at the Pentagon, Derek came home from work one day, having given a presentation for a conference of sorts, and informed me that the Air Force Chief Scientist had been there. You know, that one guy from Washington? The one in whose office we talked about squirrels? And who made me laugh by pretending to be a waiter? Yeah? Well, he approached Derek after the presentation, and said, “Hello Derek! It’s good to see you. I read your wife’s blog the other day.”

I don’t know if that’s a direct quote. It doesn’t actually matter. The groanings I made from within myself were loud enough to eclipse my memory of the words. It was worse than when I realized, after I turned in my sketchbook for my art class the next day, that I had forgotten to tear out the page where I had brainstormed for my abstract self portrait by listing as many words as I could think of to define myself, and then had asked Derek to list some, and had proceeded to write down his list, too. Which included “smokin’ hot.” That’s some kind of entertaining, right?

Happy Thanksgiving! I love you all.

What does it take to get me to write a post? How about a trip to the Pentagon, complete with our own guide, an awards ceremony honoring that guy I married, little mini hamburgers on toothpicks, and shooting the breeze with the Secretary of the Air Force?

A couple of months ago, Derek called me from work, which is a pretty rare occurrence. He had just been informed that he had won the Harold Brown award, which is the highest individual award for scientists in the Air Force, for achievements in research and development that have led to, or demonstrated promise of, a substantial improvement in the operational effectiveness of the Air Force.

Yeah. We had no idea how big a deal this would be. Derek’s only been working for the Air Force Research Labs for a little over two years. But boy do they like him.

We took the whole family to Washington DC this past weekend. Derek’s parents, some siblings, an aunt, and Grandma came too. We planned for several days exploring the Mall, the Smithsonian museums, adventures in dining, etc. The reason for the trip, though, was pretty stunning.

We had to be at the Pentagon a couple hours early, to get through a couple of layers of security, get visitor badges, walk several miles into the vast building, shoot the breeze with the Chief Scientist of the Air Force and the Chief Technologist of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. We mostly discussed our mutual hatred of squirrels.

While the rest of the family stayed in a waiting room bigger than our house, Derek and I, with the two boys and Derek’s parents, were escorted into the office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley. We were accompanied by the official photographer, who shot many photos of various configurations of handshakes, including ones with my two little boys. Secretary Donley was gracious, smiled a lot, praised Derek for being so awesome, and was just way more affable than I expected. Though, to be honest, I didn’t really expect to meet him myself.

As we were leaving the office, the Secretary’s secretary had some souvenirs for the boys, and we later learned she had already met Kiki, who was entirely too wild to come with us into the office. It kind of seemed like they don’t see too many kids in there. (Especially fantastically beautiful ones like mine.)

The award ceremony began with everyone standing for Secretary Donley and Derek, then an introduction by the Secretary, wherein I learned the real reason Derek won this award. If you’re curious, it’s because of his work with teams of ultralight air vehicles and detection of roadside bombs. So actual life-saving going on.

Anyway, then Derek got to accept the award, get presented with the trophy, or whatever that giant hunk of glass is called, get more photos, and give flowers to me, his mom, and his grandma. Did you know they have a florist in the Pentagon? I didn’t. I also didn’t know they have a pharmacy/mini-mart where you can get leftover halloween candy for $1 a bag. There’s a jewelery store, dry cleaners, optometrist, and I don’t know what else. It’s pretty self-contained.

After the award was presented, there was a reception. Like a receiving line kind of reception. Derek stood, while all the other guests who weren’t related lined up and shook his hand.

And then there was food. They had told us there would be cake, but instead, there was a full buffet of wonderful things, with caterers and invisible waiters. One of the highlights for me, besides the indescribable unexpectedness of having Secretary Donley approach me to chat, with the official photographer shooting away like a paparazzo, was when the Chief Scientist Dr. Werner J.A. Dahm saw me looking for somewhere to put my plate and came over claiming to be a waiter. I was a little tongue-tied most of the time. And possibly even a tiny bit more dippy than usual. It was all kind of dream-like.

Any questions?

This post was written on March 27, 2008, but I reread it again tonight, and wept anew at how desperately I love my Grandpa.

I had such a wonderful time at Grandpa’s funeral, with no kids to chase, and my whole family (minus one brother who couldn’t make it) to play with. We all crammed into the house on Cherry Lane, with some of us on the floor, some on couches. There was movie watching (Rubin and Ed) and Mexican cooking, and everybody waiting for Grandpa to come out of his bedroom and ask if anybody wanted any ice cream.

I had been very emotional about not getting to see Grandpa again, but those who were there said that he had woken one last time when they were discussing my plans to come the next day. In a very egocentric way, I love that he was excited to see me again, and that he responded to my name. The people who were present told him that I was trying my best to get there, and that I loved him. He died about an hour later, after slipping back into sleep.

My wonderful little brother sat with Grandpa for hours that day, holding his hand and listening to his breathing. He noticed the change, and called everyone in when it was time. After Grandpa died, and nobody knew what to do, my other younger brother went and built a fire in the fireplace because that’s what Grandpa always did when people came over, even if it was 80 degrees inside. My cousin wore one of Grandpa’s bolo ties to the funeral.

On Thursday night, we all went to the viewing. I knew we were going. We went straight from the airport to Provo. I was feeling terrible from the trip, so I had gone running. We had had dinner with the family, then headed to the mortuary together. I was happy to be with my family. Even my mom was there, and she and dad were talking (not something that happened often while they were married). Grandpa’s two living siblings were there, some neighbors came, and some of Grandpa’s second and third wives’ families came.

I was standing around with my brothers and cousins watching the slide show when I turned around and glimpsed the casket, which I hadn’t yet noticed. I was accosted with the realization that Grandpa was dead, and that his body, his shell, lay in the adjoining room. I saw the crown of his forehead, and his wispy white hair. Almost in a swoon, I fled outside to weep. Though I had known, intellectually, that I was at his viewing, I hadn’t processed the connection with him actually being there, to see. I was desperately sad.

I went back in with determination to face the mortal remains of my sweet Grandpa. As I stood over the casket, I noted his waxy, yellow-orange skin. His eyelids, wrinkled and painted, were no longer translucent, as I remembered them. His hands were folded, and they were familiar, yet foreign, their position and color contrived. His glasses seemed oddly large.

My youngest brother approached me silently. We stood for a moment, then moved into the other room, still with the casket in full view. We talked briefly about how the body there resembled our Grandpa, but wasn’t him. It was his leftovers. It was comforting to me to know that he wasn’t in there anymore. I have no firm beliefs about where Grandpa might be now, but I know he’s not in that aged, frail body anymore. As much as he enjoyed his life, Grandpa was ready to part with it.

Today, as Kiki and I were exiting the indoor portion of our farmer’s market, it was pouring rain. I asked her if we should wait until it stopped, or just go out. She said we’d go. There was a man standing by the door, who heard our interchange, and said, “She’s not afraid of getting wet. Although she may melt, cause she looks like sugar.”

I must admit, in her pink top with cherries on it, and black tights and black ballet skirt, she did, indeed, look pretty sweet.

My neighbor (the famous Phil, stitcher-upper extraordinaire) stopped to chat this morning, and regaled me with the tale of his daughter’s “hand, foot, and mouth disease”. Yeah, guess where she got it? I had thought Kiki’s shoes were too small, because she had all these little blisters on her feet. Upon further inspection, I realized that they were too many, and too evenly spread to be a result of friction with her footwear. We put an antibiotic on the sores, thinking they may be fungal, and they went away quickly enough. But I’m pretty sure we shared the joy first.

We’re great neighbors.


I just saw a squirrel run past my kitchen window with a 3-inch zucchini in his mouth. My zucchini. That I grew with the sweat of my brow. Probably the same bastard that thwarted all my attempts at sowing lettuces. And robbed me of every single strawberry. Or at least one of the cohorts that conspire against me to prevent me from enjoying a fruitful harvest. I’ve never felt so violent towards wildlife before.

I’ve been ambivalent about fireworks for years. But after watching the video that Jana posted about the personal cost of the fireworks industry, I’m not too sad I missed it last night. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to participate in fireworks productions again, unless there’s a serious change in their manufacture, and certification that people’s lives aren’t at stake daily, just so we can pretend like we’re watching bombs blow and celebrating our “freedom”, otherwise known as buying power. No more cheap fireworks for me.

I’m in my own home again. I’m exhausted. I need to clean our little house. I need to exercise. Before I exercise, I need to go get a steroid shot to make my hip behave. I need to go shopping to get something for breakfast. I need to take care of my poor, neglected garden. I need to go to the library. I need another nap.

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