Showing posts with label Housewifery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Housewifery. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chaos and Control: Theory

My nephew came through the glass doors to the Green Room and heaved a huge sigh.
"I can't find anything around here."
My house was indeed messy. It contained left-overs from a holiday weekend including visitors and people and people with children. A dumped art bin produced colored pencils strewn out on the floor like tapered fireworks. Lost Lego bits burrowed their way into the carpet. Food, and lots of it, took up space on the counter tops as once-enjoyed plates dirtied themselves in the sink. The children's entire wardrobe (including footwear) were designated into piles around the front room like a mole's work in an abandoned field. My bed had become so clouded with clutter I had to make a padded lounge on the floor in the children's room to sleep.
I told Chup,
"If we left for the day and came back and our house was ransacked by an intruder, I wouldn't even know."
And good gravy man, the toys! In a total act of anarchy the toys had overtaken the available space meant for the living. So very many toys, so little space to sit. This uncomely, overwhelming landscape at my home was making it hard for my nephew to find his favorite rocket ship.
"I know," I said to him, lazily picking up a few items on the floor to inspect, "our house is a little messy right now."
"Right now?" he said to me with his back bent over examining a bin of army guys, "it's ALWAYS messy."
That's not fair. I thought.
I spent hours a day cleaning my house. Dusting, vacuuming, organizing, picking up. I have a sense of pride about these things. Just because I decide I will let one weekend go where I don't follow about wiping, will-power fighting and washing everything my children touch means that it's ALWAYS this way.
But still, it festered.
One night I went to visit my brother.
When I walked into his house my sister in law started cleaning. Her anxiety about my presence in her unclean house was amusing to my brother,
"I mean, haven't you seen Courtney's house?"
This festered too. Still to this day.

I've thought a lot about this aspect to housewifery--the unstable effect of perpetual mess. The only constant in our home is chaos and control. Either there is chaos or there is control. For the longest time I felt this wild cycle eating at me and my ideals of Godliness and cleanliness.
But that's just it.
When I think of God, He also operates under a similar cycle. Consider the cosmos. Before the world was there was chaos, and somehow (an evolution-creation situation, I believe) He made control out of elements thereby creating an earth. And for a while things were good, until chaos took over and God sent a flood to wash the entire planet of disorder. Mother Earth is cyclic too, she who answers the natural world. There are winds of destruction and skies of peace. In fact, our whole lives are ruled by these two elements, control and chaos. Why wouldn't our homes be just like that? Where did I get the idea that my home should always be tidy? Nothing is ALWAYS tidy.
Maybe Godliness is cleanliness, but so is the chaos that proceeds it. Without chaos there would be no control.
I tell my pride: God lets things get messy, so can I.
My neighbor stopped by last night for a chat. He's a two-timed PhD biology professor and natural teacher whose very presence begs for inquiries.
"Everyone keeps telling me that this warm winter is going to be horrible for our ecosystem, but isn't this weather pattern natural?" I asked him as he sat in my yellow chairs.
"Well, yes it's natural but the warming of the planet is making these weather patterns more erratic. And it's very destructive for plants"
"Is this evolution? Is the planet ridding itself of plants that can't sustain this weather patterns?"
"Evolution is a slow process, requiring centuries. Plants don't evolve as fast as decades. And animals can move, but plants walk very slow."
And he explains more, but suddenly I am thinking about adaptation.
I am thinking, my house will always be in stages of messy and clean and I can't do anything (sanely) about that, but I can control the extremes to which it becomes a tidal wave of mess.
I think: I am getting rid of the toys.

My kids rarely play with toys.
A few things. A firetruck and my son's beloved R2D2 come to mind.
But that's it.
Toys are solely used to make messes.
And paperclips, Tupperware and tongs used for spaghetti are used regularly for play things.
Ever could live inside my jewelry box and has come to know (all to soon) the difference between fake jewels for dress ups and the real deal.
This daughter of mine only wears the real deal.
(Still, I could never throw away the dress ups.)
I must stop worrying what visitors think of my house's cleanliness.
Mostly because no matter how orderly my house is when they visit the time I spend talking to them creates an easy window for my children to delve into disorder. 
The presence of a distractor is not lost on my children. While I am working out the problems of the world, they produce a few more, with trips to the flour bin and cookie shelf and anything that has to do with running water.
I can't host a visitor and keep my house clean at the same time. And because I love people in my house, I allow for the aftermath.
Or the during-math.
Making it so the lasting impression of the visitor is one of unashamed disarray.
"Thanks for stopping by!"
I tried to explain this to my nephew in a teasing tone,
"You know, my house is messy every time you come over because you make it messy."
But he disagreed,
"No I don't."
Then immediately he dumped the crowded bin of army guys upside down with a pat on the bottom for good measure. 
This creates a small hill of army guys in the threshold of the kitchen.

There's nothing wrong with chaos, as long as it doesn't control. And there is nothing wrong with control as long as it doesn't become chaotic.
We cleaned all day yesterday. Every corner of every room. New linens on all the beds. Re-arranged the front room. The kitchen looked as if we had painted with glitter. As I organized and shuffled around delivering toys and stuff in all their proper places I started to feel grateful for the chaos. I like creating order out of disorder--that is Godliness.
I am serious about getting rid of the toys, though.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Show Off

Chup and I have
decided to spring clean our finances. For instance, how do we feel about our hefty T-Mobile bill when in reality I don't use my phone for actual calls? Some texting, some checking email notifications but besides Time and Temp--an app on my phone now--I don't do much actual dialing.

Another bill we were thinking about cutting is our fancy 2,000 (rough estimate) channel tv package. We only really watch a couple channels, rarely use the DVR or On Demand. No doubt it has served us well during these dry, cold months but with this new warming trend I don't suppose we'll be watching as much.

Not so much to warrant a thick montly bill, anyway.

Still, The Chief likes his morning show, sippy tucked in tight to his chest, eyes taking in all the goodness of his favorite hostess, Kelly. Kelly is perky as a peony with her two pigtails and a voice tinted with flirt. Even Chup himself has developed a crush on Kelly and I can't be jealous because I see where he's coming from. Kelly wishes children a Happy Birthday, sings, dances and charms the heck out of the toddler set.

Kelly was especially cute this morning, I noted as I contemplated losing this channel to our monthly cut backs. She was talking to a dinosaur sock puppet on her hand. Even the puppet was dreamily staring at Kelly with his glued button eyes. But just as she went to wish a couple petite Pisces some birthday joy she inexplicably started to choke.

Her face went red.
Her eyes started watering.
And her flirty voice was nothing but gusts of desperate air.

I swear I almost lost it.
I texted Chup, "Kelly is choking on live tv!"

Some quick-thinking producer switched the shot to a still photo of a birthday boy, but we could still hear the audio of Kelly choking in the background. And then it went silent.


I held a sympathetic breath.

A few seconds later, Kelly appeared back on the screen carrying on as if nothing had happened--with the dinosaur still on her hand. But quite red-faced, with wet eyes, and a rasp in her normal buttery voice. She continued to converse as if choking while talking to a hand puppet was PERFECTLY NORMAL. Certainly nothing to request a commercial break for--much less a need to TAKE OFF THE DINOSAUR HAND PUPPET (which is really the part I can't believe, even though I saw it with my own (not button) eyes.)

Smiling, red face, wet eyes, dinosaur hand puppet, even a dead-center camera wink.

The whole thing was so disturbing to me--how emotionally attached I had become to The Chief's morning show--I decided right then and there, tv package had to go.

Today from Dearest c jane:
A classic I can't get enough of.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Exercise of a Housewife

The other day I found myself completely enchanted with my life.

Not as though I was feet-up on a floating lily pad lounging in a southern sun vacation.


I was housecleaning.

And I was sweating and breathing hard and scrubbing and organizing and dusting and sweating more. My hormones bounced beneath my skin as my heart sang in beats. It was a fulfilling-of-my-creation type moment and I felt like the luckiest (sweaty) woman on this planet. In an apron--no less.

Here I was in my domain (I have a domain!) in my kingdom making it orderly and tidy. Everything in its place (everything has a place!) all clean and accounted for. Books, toys, clothes, dishes and towels. Mirrors wiped, spots soaked, laundry folded.

Brow swept.

Even if the moment of perfection lasts only that one second between my picking up the train pieces and The Chief's dumping them out again, it is worth the brief moment in time. I thought to myself. Cleaning music in the background, dancing in my ears.

This thrill is mine to enjoy, so I enjoyed it.

Then I thought about other women. How some have the same pleasure sitting in a board meeting. How some live to broker deals. How some can't wait to get to their desk job. And it occurred to me, should we all arrive at the same exhilaration, the point should be made: a hard working woman is a happy woman.

And that was my conclusion as I used the hand vac to clean the stairs.

p.s. Lucy found this bottle of Comet in the recesses of Retro House . Vintage Comet
(3 cents off!).
ebay that!

On dear c jane today:
You ask me,
What are Halftees?
Then I answer . . .

On c jane's Guide to Provo today:
Bean Museum,
Helping Haiti
and Half Tees
It's a bucket of variety!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Help Meet

I was in the den
when Chup's message beeped in my phone.

On my way home!

Great glory.

The best time of the day is when I get the "On my way home!" text. I always turn to The Chief and say, "Dad is coming home!" and then we do a heart-felt hip-shaking dance routine with our hands waving in the air.

And that is what I was doing when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I had been working all day long on housewifery (scrubbing, organizing, bending) and I was about seven inches more than disheveled. I am not the kind of wife who cares much for looking glamorous as my husband crosses the threshold of our home, nor do I have a husband who cares what I look like either, but this look was bordering scary. I didn't look good at all.

My shape was lost in a huge navy t-shirt, stained by snot from the boy I live with (who needs tissue? Honestly.) My gray sweats were heaving from the work it took to stay up around my belly. My face had this pasty look, my pupils were dilated and black residual mascara crumbled around my eyes. And my crowning glory--my hair, you know--was terrible. My stylist Ashlee went on Christmas break and it looked as though I replaced her with a hurricane.

So I texted back.

Just so you know. I look like Garbage Day.

Which meant I looked like the cans of waste we send out to the curb every Tuesday night.

Then my phone beeped again.

Look outside!

A text from my teenage niece Emma.

At first I was hoping she had built a snowman on our front lawn. Next to cats, my son obsesses over snowmen. But Emma is a busy young lady, so I figured her afternoon probably wasn't spent in our front yard secretly rolling snow. Anyway, I slowly climbed up the stairs, crossed the living room and looked outside our front window.

No snowman, but . . .

the most beautiful sunset melting west in the sky. Pinks and purples swirling together in perfect vibrancy. A display of nature so glorious it cause me to reaffirm, "There is a God!"

I sat spellbound for several minutes watching my sky's version of the borealis. Pinks shadows on my cheeks.

And I thought about this talk by President Hinckley about women:

"There came first the forming of heaven and earth, to be followed by the separation of the light from the darkness. The waters were removed from the land. Then came vegetation, followed by the animals. There followed the crowning creation of man. Genesis records that "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31).

But the process was not complete.

"For Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

"And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman" (Genesis 2:20–23).

And so Eve became God's final creation, the grand summation of all of the marvelous work that had gone before."

Then my phone beeped again.

It was Chup.

I like Garbage Day.

He reassured.

But I was no longer worried about that.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In My Thoughts About Becoming

I took time this morning to simply watch out my front window. Cars, dogs, students on their way to class, ebbed and flowed. The Chief was playing "vacuum mechanic" giving our cheap contraption a five star look-over. All hoses, attachments and filters looked to be decent. Thumbs up (if he could).

Out of my window I also saw Sister Ryan--my seventy-something neighbor--who carried sacks of groceries in both hands. For weeks now I've been studying her impeccable demeanor. Reminiscent of my own sweet Nana, Sister Ryan is quiet grace. Her poised walk, hushed voice and shy acceptance of compliments made me to believe that on the spectrum of Fine Women she and I were at opposite ends. As I watched her walk across my front sidewalk I very much wanted to shift my spirit to meet hers.

Last Sunday I overheard Sister Ryan's earnest husband whisper in her ear during a busy exchange at church, "Here we have Brother and Sister Jenson who recently moved into the Minor's old home." So that as Brother and Sister Jenson approached Sister Ryan sweetly moved out her hand to say "Welcome to the neighborhood Brother and Sister Jenson. We're happy to have you." Flawless. Chup and I need to practice that sort of social succinctness.

Another time she put a soft hand on my arm, and with a low-tone asked me how Stephanie was doing. I appreciated the respect she had for our situation, and I felt safe to share my family's recent experiences.

But mostly Sister Ryan, is to me, a human missile of wisdom. She doesn't send her opinions to explode with shock and awe. Rather, she keeps them, and refines them. I don't get the feeling either, that her ideas are of a submissive woman. From her I get the sense that she knows the secret of womanhood--with all of the power associated--and chooses to live it rather than talk about it.

And here is what I am wondering: If I keep my keep my thoughts to myself, will I become my thoughts? Is this my problem? Do I too freely give away my opinions and end up feeling frequently empty? Should I instead let them harvest in my soul to become the building blocks of me? Is the living example better than the communicated word?

I have a lot going on here.

A couple weeks ago I was reading Ulrich who birthed the phrase "Well-behaved women seldom make history" which I've always loved. But today, I fell a little out of love with the notion as I watched Sister Ryan. Today I want to be well-behaved more than I want to make history.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday the Thirteenth Presents: Tardy

Remember that movie Freaky Friday
with Lindsay Lohan and Jodie Foster? That sort of soul swapping happened at midnight on this Friday the thirteenth of March. My blogging halo-ed spirit interchanged with pitchforked-ed Jana of The Meanest Mom fame (who is also up for a blogging award VOTE FOR HER here!) forcing me to post evilly things over there, while she angelically posts here. When do I get my braces off?

Warning! Don't read this post unless you think Candy Posters are as awesome as anything in on this planet. If you don't know what a Candy Poster is (or why I would capitalize such a noun) read on my friend:

by Jana Mean Mom Matthews

Getting my three kids to school on time is my Mount Everest. I have, however, significant motivation to do the impossible: her name is Lorraine.

Lorraine is the secretary at my daughter's elementary school. She wears sweater vests adorned with three-dimensional animals, but don't let her 1980s homemaker apparel fool you: Lorraine is as friendly as a jackal.

Roughly once every three weeks, Mount Vesuvius erupts at my house at 8:50am in the form of a missing shoe, a temper tantrum, or the unexplained need to change one's clothes for the third time in one hour. On these mornings, I park my car in the school's fire lane and drag four children into the front office to do penance before St. Lorraine.

"May I sign in my daughter please?" I ask politely after waiting at the counter for what feels like a century. My three oldest children have already written their names on seventeen visitor badges and have attached them to their shirts.

After Lorraine finishes her personal phone call/applying lipstick/rearranging her collection of angel figurines on her desk, she rises from her throne, heaves a loud sigh of disapproval, and hands me a tardy slip.

Even though my kindergartner is only 2.5 minutes late for school, I'm still required to publicly confess that I don't have my act together by filling out the form, signing it, and listing a reason for her lateness. By this point in the school year, I have exhausted all of the standard excuses. Plus, Lorraine is starting to question their validity.

"You were really 'out of town' for five minutes?" she asked in February.

Lorraine's growing suspicions that I have been less than forthright with her in the past have shamed me into telling the truth. While it used to take only a few seconds to fill out the tardy slip, now it takes me several minutes--and the front and back sides of the form--to describe my morning. Usually my epistles include the phrase "I'm going to count to five" followed at some point by “You’re not going to like this” and "against their will."

"This is all avoidable," smirked Lorraine on Tuesday, "If you could get out the door five minutes earlier."

I wanted to thank Lorraine profusely for coming up with a solution to my problem that I hadn't thought of myself, but I also didn't want to hold up the line. As I exited the building, I whispered words of encouragement to the handful of nervous mothers who were waiting for their turns to meet their maker.

When I got home, I decided to do something nice for Lorraine in appreciation of the sensitivity and compassion she routinely shows parents who mornings are plagued with natural disasters and children who like power struggles. I missed the nominations for this year's faculty and staff recognition awards, so I had to settle for a candy poster.

I hope Lorraine likes my gift. The fact that I took all of the candies out of their packages--leaving only their wrappers—makes me worry that she won’t.

to c jane on Jana's blog click here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


There is saying in our church, one that goes restated with much frequency, "Forget yourself and get to work." Having heard it so many times, this repeated thought lost its punch with me a couple years ago, but perhaps that is because I didn't get it.

I do now.

The balancing act between hearing updates of my sister and brother-in-law's state of being in Arizona, caring for their family, breast-feeding a newborn and remembering that I am a wife first, leaves me somewhat in shock most of the time. I am surviving mostly on love mixed with a healthy supply of adrenalin.

I find that it is most manageable by being present with the living joys: a good husband, a houseful of happy, hopeful children and my thriving newborn. In that mix are sweet e-mails, blog comments and cards in the mailbox. At night, when it is quiet and dark I allow my mind to visit that Arizona burn unit. I can be sad. I can cry. I can wonder about possible futures. I rework every scenario until all is conceivable, then pray to a listening Father in Heaven.

Forgetting myself comes easy in the morning when Ollie--four inches from my face--wakes me up by proclaiming that he wants "toast with butter and honey on it." (Three year olds are so delicious that they should be dipped in chocolate and sold in department stores during Easter.)

From that point on, there is bread to be toasted, cereal to pour, school lunches to be made, girls to dress, hair to comb, shoes to wrestle on (shoes! the hardest part of motherhood!) action guys to find in hungry couches . . . it isn't until nap time that there is any recognition of self (physically and cognizantly) whether I choose it or not. (Being a self-centered person, I can safely say I most likely would not choose, having once prided myself on looking hot. . . or what I thought was hot. Oh well.)

Sometimes the forgetting myself comes in allowing my sister's wishes to possess family planning time to take advantage of a Utah autumn. Mornings at the Provo Farmer's Market, late afternoons going for tractor rides with Uncle Ric, pin-pointing changes leaves from our mountain-view bedroom windows. We do the Saturday BYU football tailgate parties up at Grandpa and Umi's, meet cousins in the park to expire the last of the day's energy and let Aunt Lucy give us make-overs before princess parties with new friends. Nights are spent in the playroom with Chup making toys out of straps and skateboards, re-creating the Olympics with Claire, while Lucy sits on the floor doing puzzles with Jane shooing away a whistling Gigs. The Chief contentedly watching from his battery-operated swing.

And in the spirit of Steph and Christian, there is valuable time spent with Chup, alone. The conversation usually leading to courage and encouragement, "It was awesome when you used your shop vac to clean up 'the accident' in the hallway tonight." "Even though you don't feel it, you looked smokin' in that blue dress you wear everyday. . ."

Forgetting myself and getting to work is my challenge, but it makes sense. I'm still figuring out who I am, and what is going on, anyway. Like I already said, my life is still coated in shock and it may be that way for awhile. What I am learning is this: forgetting myself is foremost what I desire, making it so that in the long run I really am getting what I want.


S&C Update: Still remain in critical condition. Steph will have a couple more skin graft surgeries this week. Christian remains intubated.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tender Mercies: Pro-Tek Cleaner Edition

When I opened my front door this afternoon I saw a eighteen-ish dude in a plaid shirt, long denim shorts and a curiously feminine silver bracelet on his right wrist. His backpack was thrown over his left shoulder hoisted in place by his left hand. Blond facial hair covered his red face. Definitely not from around here, definitely trying to sell me something. As I started to give my firm-yet-apologetic "I'm really not interested . . ." I was stopped by a very firm prompting.

Buy whatever he is selling.

This caused me alarm. As a personal guildline I shoo solicitors away without any introduction. Just yesterday I waved off a guy selling coupon books (useless) for some cause just as I was trying to pour pancake batter for an army of nieces and nephews. In my white terry cloth robe no less. I hate making pancakes almost as much as I hate solicitations I decided.

"Hi." Said the dude.

"Hi." Said the me.

"I am here in the neighborhood to sell this powerful cleaning agent . . . strawberry . . . licorice . . . blood." And on when the schpeel until I interrupted.

"How much for one bottle?"

"That would be 49.02 M'am."

Buy whatever he is selling.

Again, the feeling.

But fifty bucks? I wondered in my head. For fifty bucks I could buy a new . . .

"I will take one bottle." I heard myself say.

As I ran to get my checkbook (solicitors, pouring pancakes, writing checks, I am starting to see a pattern here) the thought occurred that I should probably share the gospel with my traveling salesman. I mean, that was the best explanation for the whole "inspired" expenditure.

"So," I started out awkwardly as I wrote out the check. "I bet they told you there would be a lot of Mormons in Utah."

Where was I going to go with this?

"Yeah." He said. "I am from the Bay Area and I wanted to come out and earn money for college."

"Well, you are lucky to be selling around here. I . . . mean . . . us Mormons sure like to . . . have clean . . . houses."

"Yeah." He said again. "My boss told me."

"Okay, so . . ." I stopped. Should I keep going with the whole intro to Mormonism or . . .? "Here is your check."

"And here is your Pro-Tek Cleaner. This flier tells you all about the money back guarantee." He handed me a crumpled flier with blue printed lettering, re-hoisted his backpack, and jetted off down the street.

I felt confused. Should I have offered a trade? Two bottles for me, if a Book of Mormon for him? Did I even have a Book of Mormon to give away?

An hour later Page stopped by Retro House for a visit and saw my pricey cleaning agent on the countertop.

"Pro-Tek Cleaner! I love this stuff. You rarely have to scrub anything, it's that good!" She exclaimed.

After I told her the story of how I came to be an owner of such a product. I added the part about me trying to share the gospel.

"Really? That was the best you could do?" Page asked.

I've never been a natural at missionary work, even when I was a full-time missionary. I haven't really located my insecurities because I know the gospel is true. Maybe it boils down to the fact that I don't have many serious discussions in my life. Maybe it is time I tried on maturity for size. Tomorrow, maybe, I'll get working on that.

Later this evening as Chup and I took The Chief for a drive I confessed my whole story.

"And then . . . I bought the bottle . . ."

"How much?" Asked Chup.

"Well . . . he did say it would last us a year . . ."

"And so?"

"I was really was really trying to share the gospel. Even though . . ."

"You wrote the check for . . .?"

But our conversation was cut short. From the recesses of our backseat--inside that little bundle of a carseat--came a large grunt. Then a bubbly release of gas. Grunt. Release. Grunt. Release. The Chief was working so hard, bless his heart, to move his darling newborn bowels. Chup and I were laughing (because it was really funny) but silently, as we didn't want The Chief to understand the social implications of his public display of gastric distress at such a tender age.

We are such thoughtful parents.

When we arrived home we discovered The Chief covered in mustard poopage. We found it in his hair, between his toes and inside his ears. Our son had literally exploded. He spared no expense in dousing the carseat either. Every fold, clasp and clicky-thing was smothered. There was seepage into the padding. I almost called Utah Disaster Kleenup.

"Do you want to work on him or the carseat?" I offered Chup his choice.

"Him." He said holding The Chief at arms length while rushing to the nursery.

As I sat down to scrub the carseat, all alone in the kitchen, I wondered how I was going to salvage and restore our beloved carrier. I was feeling too energy-deficient to scrub and there was no special trick to make it all go away. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw the Pro-Tek Cleaner on the countertop.

How convenient that I bought this bottle just this very day . . . wait a minute . .


Unexpectedly I stopped feeling bad for my lack of sharing the gospel skills.

I am so taken care of.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Casting Pearl to the Swine


Try: Feeling Sorry for Myself.

In my formative years my mother cast me as Pitiful Pearl because of my insane ability to draw on the pathetic. It didn't take long for me to master the art of self-pity as a middle child. When I entered into my teens The Councilwoman shortened my nickname to Pearl (but the Pitiful was still implied.)

"Oh Pearl. What is wrong now?" Mother would ask pouring on the dramatics for sarcasm's sake.

By my mid-twenties I finally came to the enlightenment that lo! and behold! my life was pretty dang good. My dad bought me a gorgeous green Mx-6, I lived with fantastic roommates and my boyfriend called my chest "Good Christian Cleavage." So it was that I said good bye to that Resident Pitiful Pearl for what I thought was forever.

Only she came back in fine form yesterday and I was left to wander around my house feeling sorry for my soul.

I can't bend over.

I can't breathe.

I feel irritable.

I am sick of my clothes.

Chup is always out-of-town these days.

(Basically the opposite of my cheerful, Debt of Gratitude post, penned only days previous . . . how soon I forget.)

(Also, didn't I spend FIVE YEARS praying for this?)

And just when I felt as though wet droplets were going to descend from my tear ducts, a knock on the door sounded.

My nieces had come to visit! My Emily! My Harriet! My Lindsay! Who live only moments away from the Retro House.

In they came checking on all the latest developments. They liked the plates hanging in the kitchen. Oh what nice pink drapes! How did I make my kitchen smell like the ocean? Can we go to the nursery and help you organize The Chief's clothes?

To the nursery with the orange carpet! I sat in my rocking chair as Lindsay folded all of the little bitty clothes and put them in necessary drawers. Emily quizzed me on the French flash cards that Amanda brought for The Chief "It's never too early to start learning the language of love!" And Harriet rearranged all of the stuffed animals, testing each one for proper softness and talent (laughs, plays music . . . that sort of thing.)

Up went my spirits! Out went the presence of Pearl.

Thanks ladies, that was a close one.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In the Glow of a House Honeymoon

My mail comes through a slot in my kitchen wall. Retrieving the mail is no more of a task than peeling a carrot. Today a "congratulations on the new house!" note came through the slot from Bobby. She included the whole family. My goodness I love this house.

Later, in the afternoon, Megan (my sister-in-law) came over with her three darling ladies and one dashing son. The younger girls retreated to the den where they made the most of the Rock Band instruments unplugged. Chick (oldest daughter) curled up next to me, while the baby boy crawled on my soft carpet. Meg even felt comfortable enough to help herself to a lemonade in the fridge. My goodness I love this house.

While, at the same time, Amanda my dear friend from London adventures stopped by with sister Annie and their crew of incredible delicious children. Amanda didn't mind my dramatic drapes and Annie worked with my hair (magic!) so that I wouldn't have to part my style. More than once I wished that Amanda lived closer, because I love her and we laugh at the same things. Besides, now I have room for two friends, a sister and seven children to roam about. My goodness I love this house.

A few hours later,
Azucar de la Fromage knocked on my front door because her son El Guille wanted to see my new house. He found the laundry chute all shrouded in mystery. This provided hours of entertainment while she fed her baby expensive cheese she had stashed in her purse. I lounged on the couch and imagined the day when my son could toddle around with the others. My goodness I love this house.

Now I am thinking about Chup, up in middle Canada on a business trip. He ordered his first bowl of poutine at an A&W. Though my husband is no longer a certified poutine virgin, I cannot lie, one hasn't had poutine love until they've tasted a bowl from some questionable casse croƻte on the banks of the Gatineau river.

My goodness I love poutine.

Almost as much as I miss Chup.

Which is almost equal to how much I love this house.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I can safely say that I am not addicted to blogging. What a relief! I've been so enthralled with setting up my house that I haven't needed one blogging break. However, I have missed writing and therefore have all sorts of thoughts and posts that are marinating in my head. Oh yes, and I've missed my blog-o-sphere friends. But I am just really saying that for your sake.

As you may recall I am less then a month's way from delivery. A couple of weeks ago, my equally pregnant friend Ashley, at a spontaneous Cafe Rio gathering, asked if I was swelling yet. "Swelling? No. Still pukes." And you know what? I was kind of proud, like I chose my poison, thank you.

But last week I said, hello to Cabbage Patch Doll feet and hands.

Chup, Lucy and I went to Ikea on Saturday. I kept saying "I need a wheelchair." And they kept saying, "Har har har!" After 3 hours of walking around I sat down on some special pine bench (The Klarrifurkl?) and showed them the swell of my red feet. "Happy?" I said in a very mean-pregnant way.

Then Chup let me buy the chandelier I wanted, so it all worked out.

So yes, I am getting ready for this adventure of pregnancy to be accomplished. In fact, I've started looking for signs of the end. I listen to the wind, I write down my dreams, I look in the entrails of neighbor's dogs.


Until yesterday.

A couple months back I had a dream that I was toting my baby around underneath my parent's crabapple tree. He was a newborn and I had to support his head as he looked around at the mass of pink blossoms and happy chirping birds. With milk-drunk eyes he looked up and exclaimed,


And I thought,

"Holy crap my child can talk already."


Since that dream I've added to my obsession with birds and nests. Every room in our house has a bird or a nest of some kind. It reminds me of nest-building, my ultimate purpose. The point of swollen feet. And hands.

Then yesterday, as my family and I were meeting with Topher and Lisa's ward to celebrate the blessing of baby Margot, Lucy pointed up into the rafters of the spacious sacrament meeting room.

"Look!" She whispered to me, "there is a bird up there."

Indeed. A blue bird was swinging on a chandelier towards the front of the chapel. Occasionally it would fly back-and-forth from man-made wood perches. It made no sound and seemed content to listen to testimonies and songs of Zion. Soon everyone in the congregation was entertained by our visitor. (I hope the whole experience makes Margot's Blessing Day scrapbook page.)

And I knew that it was My Sign.


Only a little bit longer.

Bird from Limon Verde's.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Photos of The Retro House Part 1

Let it be known that the first meal in our Retro House consisted of Uncle Chup's waffles with nutella, strawberries and syrup served to our delightful unpackers (actually sang while they worked) Emma, Winnie, Emily and Olivia. They labored with such energy into the late night hours that they fell to the spell of exhaustion while cuddling up in our kingly-sized guest bed.

Does anyone have a link to some great ideas for organizing dishes in my fantastic built-in hutches? (As seen in the background of this dining room photo.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Moved and Moved Upon

I just want to give a public shout-out to everyone who helped us move this weekend!

I will post again as soon as I can find my bearings.

(they are packed away in a vodka box somewhere.)

P.S. If you helped us move this weekend please sign your name in the comments so I can remember to send you a thank-you card.

P.P.S. As soon as I can find my thank-you cards.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

. . . and Unisom

I am not sure if it is because we are moving or because I have enough hormones to donate to a successful sex change but I have been feeling nostalgic lately. The other night I sat on Chup's computer and scrolled through files and files of family pictures. I think it is what you are supposed to do when you are obligated to pack up your life (in perfect Sailor Jerry's Rum boxes) every now and again you stop and look at that long lost photo album you found in the bottom of your bedside table.

Only now-a-days all of our photos are on a computer hard drive and can be accessed with an easy mouse chase. So I stopped packing my hat collection (?) and just looked at photos for awhile.

I found this picture of Chup and me a couple months after we moved into our double-wide. I had long hair, Chup had more hair and The Chief was only wishful thinking. How things have changed. I have shorter hair, Chup has less hair and The Chief just kicked me so hard that my belly button jumped a few inches.

But here is what I want to say. I remember the day that picture was taken. I remember because I felt "too fat" for a photograph. Too fat huh? I could just pinch that girl. Wake up! Wake up! You never looked so good. Silly girl.

Then I wonder what I'll say to myself in five years when I look at pictures of me now. Probably something like, Oh you poor thing! You were so sick! How did we ever survive that pregnancy?

Then I will remember the answer: Little Debbie Nutty Bars.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Like the Top of the Chrysler Building

In our daily e-mail transcriptions Azucar and I like to converse life's little things. Like the other night she mentioned how she used Soft Scrub to clean up a small mess (though, if you've read her blog you know that no mess at Casa Azucar is small).

Time has almost wiped (cleaned? bleached?) away my treacherous relationship with Soft Scrub. In my childhood we had chores that my dad would list (ALL CAPS) on a paper plate posted to the fridge.

Like this:

CHILD'S NAME (always underlined)





And the list would go on . . . and on . . . until Saturday looked like Miss Hannigan's orphanage. What a freakin' hard knock life! Annie never had it so good.

By-the-way why didn't my dad use regular paper to dictate our workload? I don't know, but the very sight of a paper plate still gives me the chills. Grumpy Saturday chills.

In our chore bucket was always a crusty bottle of Soft Scrub with Bleach. We used it to clean everything in our house, including countertops, tile floors and windows. Some of my siblings even brushed their teeth with Soft Scrub because Crest just wasn't doing it right. Sure their teeth were white, but what is wrong with yellow?

Upon being reminded of this ruthless product I told Chup that we must go buy a bottle. I wanted to reunite and try to recover what relationship we once had. I've been a lazy cleaner as of late, and I am tired of these eco-friendly, politically correct, natural, comes-from-your-own cupboard products. By-the-way peanut butter is NOT a good solvent for cleaning the fridge. Boy am I a sucker!

This reunion of sorts has reminded me of how grateful I am that my parents taught me to work, scrub, SLAVE away all those Saturday mornings. What is better than a clean house? And few things make me so pleased than when I hear my sister Page rebuff suggestions that she get a house cleaner for her spacious home. "That is why I had eight children." It's true, on Saturdays the whole house is busy with her little worker monkeys. Cute, sweating monkeys.

You tell me. Are chores still part of the parenting repertoire these days? Are my peers giving their children scribbled out work lists on Saturday mornings? Have "work charts" replaced heavy-handed paper plates? Are people still using borderline hazardous cleaners to bleach the hell out of the ungodliness? Am I done asking questions in this paragraph?

'Cause you better believe that The Chief is going to know what his knees are for: scrub-bing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blogging instead of Christmas Cards and now! Scrapbooking

Picture of the day: Hangover picture, again

Chup and I met with another couple tonight at our house. As we were discussing business I noticed that the wife continued to look around my home from her view on my couch. I kept shifting in my chair wondering what her eyes were telling her brain. Finally she said,

"You must be a great scrapbooker."

To which I replied,

"I am not."

To which she replied,

"You should scrapbook. You'd be great."

To which I replied,

"Actually, I just blog instead."

To which her husband butted in, pointed to me, and said,

"Ahh! I thought you'd be a blogger."

But what does that even mean? And are scrapbooking and blogging now acceptably interchangeable? I hope so, because nothing gives me the anxiety like thinking of The Scrapbook. Even as I type this, the air in my lungs is disappearing in small huffs and my pits are starting to produce salty liquid. I've got one scrapbook that I stopped working on two Decembers ago. There are still blank pages left waiting for decor. What do I do with it? Don't answer that.

No, do.

No, don't.

I think I'm choking.

So in this spirit, I have decided to adopt an excellent idea from my friend Jill who takes a picture of her life every day. It'll be a new feature on my blog. Plus, no die cuts.

What are die cuts?


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ere I Left My Room This Morning

This morning I woke up with a prayer in my heart, "Please Lord, don't let me have post-vacation depression."

I am prone to that sort of emotion (aren't we all?) and today our real estate agent was coming over to assess our house for the market. There was cleaning and organizing and all sorts of putting-stuff together-ing and oh how I needed the energy. (Who doesn't?)

I am at the stage in my gestation where sleeping has become tiresome. It's my hips! Sleeping on my side--the obvious choice these days--makes my hips sore during the night. As my mother says "Something will always hurt." I am trying to be positive (and ever-grateful) but like Shakira, my hips don't lie. They hate the pressure of this expandable mortality. I've chosen to give up a good night's sleep for the next twenty years (or so I'm told) but it's a hard habit to break.

With my post-vacation depression looming, and a week of relentless sleep deprivation, today didn't look promising.

But I underestimated the power of prayer.

The sun blazed through the windows of the house making for the perfect opportunity to clean the glass. And because the light was making the dust apparent inside my home, I dusted and swept away all afternoon. I cleaned my craft table of paper debris from the mural I made for the nursery. The bed linens were changed as were the towels in the bathroom.

From the step-down lounge I noticed that my planter-box outside was actually budding with tulips. Last spring I thought I had yanked my entire spring flower collection in hopes of starting over. To my surprise some tulips survived my extermination. I promised (hand on heart) to them that I would do my best to see to their full bloomhood.

I also paid off a credit card, picked up the license plates for our new car and bought Lucy's birthday present. E-mails were written, phone calls returned and appointments made. Things were so rosy and productive that I took a moment to relax on the couch to have some citrus Vitamin Water. As I was in the process of doing such my neighbor's dog, Kasia (Kaysha? Caysia? Kayzia?) came into view on my front lawn.

Oh Kasia. The little white mutty dog with whom Ralph had his last affair. My heart even had room for love for her today. She wandered around the newly-exposed grass for awhile smelling and sniffing. I found myself admitting that she was actually quite cute.

This thought was followed Kasia's decision to defecate on my lawn.

No! I silently screamed, not able to get off the couch in time to knock on the window. No! Don't do that on our lawn! Our realtor is coming over, he'll be here any minute! Poo is not good for sales. Pleeeease no!

When Kasia was done she left her duty on the lawn like a secret valentine in second grade. Off she trotted down the street, head held high, going on as if she were the new dictator of Cuba.

I thought for a moment about how well the day had gone so far, how blessed I had been to feel energy in my bones, only mildly sick, but I knew that picking up Kasia's poo was going to ruin my lovely day. Mostly because it would induce vomiting. I sat for awhile deciding what to do.

"I can't do it Lord." I prayed out loud.

Opening my eyes from my simple prayer I noticed that Kasia was back, sniffing our lawn again. She circled around and around until she found her coiled surprise. And to my utter amazement, she ate her entire feces. My prayers were answered. All of them.

"Thank you Lord." I responded.

It's the small things, you know?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Good, Better . . . Nest

It is no secret that Chup and I are looking to move. I suppose the nesting phase of pregnancy has hit me early, and now I am looking to fly our (cozy)(little)(double-wide) coop. I thank the Universe for giving me this nest, but now I want one with a basement.

Destiny has blown us in the direction
of the more established neighborhoods of Provo. With our trusty agent Cory, Chup and I have braved the bad house hunting winter weather season with hopes of finding a flexible house--with room to grow--while pleasing unto the both of us.

This time around the decision has been a painful reminder of the dating experience. You show up on a doorstep with a prayer in your hearts for a second date, or an eventual move-in. It feels funny at first, being in someone else's space trying to decide if you'd like to take over and wondering of compatibility.

Just tonight we visited a couple houses. One was located just blocks from my Grandmother, Brother, Uncle and Parent's houses. The home reminded me of the boy from the neighborhood that my mom always wished I'd date. The background was familiar, I had known the former owners of the home. It was sturdy, surprisingly big with far-reaching views. But having known the house all my life, there were undeniable memories of being in that kitchen and trying to nervously pass off my Articles of Faith and failing. Plus it always smelled of broccoli and it still smells of broccoli.

Too much like dating my brother.
(Except my brothers don't smell like broccoli.)

(By-the-way, are periods supposed to go inside of these parenthesis or outside?)


The second house was brilliant from the outside. Gorgeous porch, huge windows and a mosaic-ed entry way. Inside? Meh. A nice pillar in the great room, a half-hearted remodeled kitchen. Interestingly though, the more we delved into its center it became more of a dungeon than a family dwelling. In the basement we found a terrifying "family" room, what looked like an interrogation room as well as a replica of a cultural-hall kitchen from the early seventies.

Good looking date gone sick. And wrong. And a bitty bit scary too.

The third house . . . well. The third house was a cute little brick home on one of my favorite streets. Brick glass and a circular window out front. Before we stepped through the threshold I prayed that this would be the one. We opened the door to find a gorgeous front room, windows for walls, a dinning room to End All Dinning Rooms. The entire house had been remodeled, every light fixture, knob and tile was done to artistic perfection. On the walls were original paintings of our favorite Utah artist. His art was in the bedrooms, in the hallways, on the landing. Soon I wasn't looking at the structure of the house as much as my personal tour of his Floating People paintings.

"Chup . . . are you thinking what I am thinking . . .?" I asked in a distant voice, my head wandering from piece to piece.

"I didn't mean to look, but I saw a piece of mail . . . with his name on it." The word "his" being emphasized to mean that he was indeed, thinking what I was thinking.

"We are in his house." I said-all-amazed.

"Like being in Edie Murphy's house?" Cory was confused.

We went downstairs where I opened the door to his garage-studio.

And then it was over. I just knew that when the Artist and his family moved out, and we moved in, that house would pine for those beautiful paintings for the rest of its existence. The garage would have to go back to being a garage--you know--for an au-to-mo-bile. It was like the date that endlessly talks about his ex-girlfriend who left him for a real maverick from the ritzier side of town.

We would never be enough for this house.

The last home was sent to me
by my favorite Mid-Century Modern scout, Azucar-of-the-Pines. The house is set aback from a somewhat busy street. I had driven past it thousands of times in my lifetime and not ever noticed it before. The front is unassuming brick, with a modest carport to the side. We entered through the side door into a gargantuan green room covered with astro turf. A perfect place for The Chief and his eventual big wheel. As we progressed through the house it became apparent that it only ever had one owner, spanning more than fifty years with a style as current as today. The tiled bathrooms were original, the layout had never been remodeled, it was as earnest as the day it was built. The sub-floor was cozy. The upstairs, smart. The house continually surprised us at every turn, until finally we found ourselves in the basement, a recreational room. How awesome is that? I felt like I was home and didn't want to leave.

Smart, surprising, stylish, safe, cozy, recreational, BIG and so perfect for me? Sounds like someone I know.


I think I'm in love.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Whatever Keeps Me Happy

Thanks to my Norwegian heritage some of us in my family have a seasonal light disorder. When there is a shift in sunlight patterns, we have a decreasing desire to get out of bed in the morning. It doesn't help that my feet are perpetually frozen, and when the temperature drops I don't have feeling in them again until June. It's nothing serious, just a mild apathy for schedules. As soon as the light gets adjusted, so will I. Until then, I play a little game where I give myself really fantastic reasons to arise.

(Ok, really fantastic may be an exaggeration, but that IS what you do when you have SLD.)

Here are some of my get-out-of-bed rewards:

  • A homeslice of homemade Amish Friendship Bread
  • A sun bath
  • A trip to Lucy's farm for tomatoes and apples
  • Tetris (don't judge)
  • A trip to TJ Max for new decorative pillows
  • A very important business lunch with Bobby
  • A call to The Councilwoman
  • A new haircut
  • The opportunity I have as a stay-at-home-woman to NOT watch The View or Good Things Utah because . . . don't get me started.
  • Sometimes leftovers from last night's dinner (don't judge x2)
  • (If it's real bad) Perez Hilton

Last night Chup and I went to my happy place (Target) where we purchased 3 over-the-Knee socks for me from Exhilaration. It's a funny thing about that brand, if I think it, they design it. I am not kidding about that. When you have a seasonal light disorder you do NOT kid.

In the meantime, my feet all the way up past my knees are warmy warmy, so now I can go back to bed.

(I am kidding about going back to bed.)

(But I am NOT kidding about buying some metallic shoes.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Afterall, A Pretty Good Week

Inspired by Veranique Vienne who writes "All things being equal, you probably get the same workout pacing in front of a stove as you do walking on a treadmill at the gym" (The Art of Being A Woman) I cooked this week. I cooked and baked, mixed, stirred, mashed and experimented. My heart rate would increase with every boiling pot, beeping cookie timer and whistling tea kettle. Sweat accumulated on my chest and forehead. My arms sore the morning after.

Then after our quiet dinners were over--my bottle of Perrier consumed--we would show off Ralph's amazing skill of pulling Chup on the skateboard to our neighbors. We walked to Lucy and Andrew's farm to deliver fresh cookies. We stopped to say hello to ~J and her caravan of little ladies. Enjoyed dancing to Carla Bruni's quiet voice.

Being a housewife? It is most fantastic.