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Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a Tropical Christmas



As a child growing up in North Carolina, I loved watching White Christmas with Bing Crosby, where he and some friends head up to Vermont for a wonderful white Christmas filled with snow, skiing, snowmen, and hot chocolate by the fire. My siblings and I would watch the weather report breathlessly around Christmas time, waiting for any small hint of frozen precipitation (even freezing rain counted). I remember one Christmas where a chilled rain almost counted.

After three or four snowstorms since Thanksgiving, I am cured of any desire for snow on, around, or within the three-month vicinity of Christmas, New Years, my birthday, Valentine's Day, or Easter. Perhaps Saint Patrick's day, too. But, as I live in Utah, the most two-week recent forecast includes 7 days of snowflake pictures, and only one day that isn't at least mostly cloudy. And it's been like this for the last two weeks. And the highest temperature on that list is 35 degrees.

If perhaps you are a person of my husband's ilk who spent two winters in frozen Ukraine, and considers the perfect weather to be 33, drizzling, and cloudy, then this Christmas is perfect for you. If, however, you have the soul (if not the appearance) of non-northern European descent, then we can all join together and tell Ol'Blue Eyes (and Irving Berlin, for that matter) to go hang it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Julia Child, We Salute Thee


For Brandon's birthday this year, he received Mastering the Art of French Cooking, having expressed a desire to learn more about French cooking, and perhaps even eat some French cooking (there don't seem to be many French restaurants around here to try it out). As discussed in an earlier post, the danger of reading a cookbook is the following desire to eat all of the wonderful food described in the glowing prose of Ms. Child. The problem however, is finding or creating an occasion that warrants the 3 days of preparation necessitated by French food. The French never do anything hastily.

Luckily, Brandon's siblings Ashlie and Nick live just up the road in Provo, and both of them had had a birthday in the last year. And what better excuse for a dinner party than a birthday party, too? To make it more of a party, and being meddling older married people, we made them invite dates, so as to further spread the joy of French cooking (and praise for the cooks).

Having already fixated on roast chicken months prior, Brandon and I took faith in the Child, and prepared her suggested side dishes, ratatouille and sauteed potatoes. For a first course we served garlic soup (once again taking a step of faith) with bread, and to finish we had orange Bavarian cream (not French, strictly speaking, but in the book) with hazelnut cookies and hot chocolate.

Writing down such a meal sounds simple; really it should only take a few hours to cook. Roast chicken? Just stick it in the oven. Garlic soup? Boil garlic with a handful of weeds, and add mayonnaise. Bread? It's no-knead, so no problem. Cookies? Anyone can make cookies in 20 minutes. The problem one always runs into when preparing food, however, is not the complexity of individual dishes, but the complexity of everything together. The ratatouille alone took us (there was no way I was going to do this alone) 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.


However, with combination of Brandon's pessimism and my
experience, we accounted for unexpectedly long preparation times and budgeted the prior two days and Sunday morning before church for shopping, chopping, and cooking. And however long it takes to make the food, the food never quite tastes like the culmination of 3 days of preparation, and nobody but the cooks has any idea.

By the time dinner and our guests arrived, Brandon and I were ready to eat anything, after cooking for 2 days. And as is highly unusual with cooking, nothing disastrous happened and the food turned out as hoped for. Everyone seemed, or at least pretended to have a nice time. But we're not doing this again until... Christmas dinner.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'd like to migrate south

Our heat has now been on for two and a half hours, and it still isn't up to the temperature I like. I just checked the weather, and it's 19 degrees outside, which might explain why the furnace is having difficulty heating our apartment. Yesterday I complained to Brandon that I am done with snow for winter, and he remarked that we have only had two snowstorms so far. Growing up in North Carolina, however, that's one more than is necessary for each winter. And we're not halfway through December yet.


Our first snowstorm was a week and a half ago, on Saturday. Saturday was also the day we planned to go get our Christmas tree. I had planned on taking the camera, taking cute pictures of Kathleen picking out her first Christmas tree (last year she was only a lump in her car seat and didn't count for anything) and making family memories. However, by the time we skidded our way to the lot, sloshed through the mud, and made one circuit of the lot, we bought the first tree we had seen, dumped it into the trunk, and headed home. So much for memories.

After shaking as much snow off in the carport, we set the tree up inside and let it rain for awhile on towels before we ventured putting electric lights in it. Luckily, Kathleen was in bed by this time and so the tree was unmolested until the morning. So far she has left the tree largely alone, but the other day, I did catch her with the bottom of a glass ornament in her mouth. As long as she doesn't bite down, we should be fine.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dr. Brown, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ER

Often family pictures can be stressful, and coupled with those flashing lights, it may leave some with headaches. What it left Brandon with was a migraine. Formerly, in another life, before I met Brandon, he suffered from migraines, mostly in high school. However, with my wonderful presence bestowing goodness at every turn, we thought that Brandon was free of them. He was, until a few Fridays ago.

So we prepared to spend the rest of the day sitting out the migraine, and resting from the after-effects. However, when Brandon couldn't remember Kathleen's name, couldn't see out of his right eye, and told me he was having problems "abling," we decided to head to the hospital.

Thankfully the ER was not very busy, and after and hour or so, Brandon was able to get a potent cocktail of drugs that made it difficult to do anything, much less remember anyone's names. Kathleen was very patient, helped by many, many walks around the ER hallways where she smiled and flirted with anyone who would give her a second glance. After three hours and a CT scan, we headed home to put both Brandon and Kathleen to bed. I think he might have gotten ever more sleep than Kathleen, something that has never happened before, and isn't likely to happen again.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How do they get children to smile?

Last Friday, Brandon and I completed another milestone: first family picture. Having had no official photographic record of Kathleen as of yet, and desiring to have one with only three of us (without #4 making its presence know yet visibly), we went to the photographer. We all arose bright and early Friday morning, washed, dressed in our best, combed our hair, and prepared for photographic immortality. I had visions of endless portrait studio ads with sweetly smiling angels, displaying to the world their cheerful temper and cherubic smiles.

Kathleen will never be featured in any of those ads. In fact, I wouldn't even count on her being a model as an adult. Kathleen loves the camera, smiling and cooing whenever we bring it out. One would think that the camera is her next-best friend (after the toilet and perhaps the telephone). Evidently that love doesn't extend to cameras that want to take her picture for hanging on the wall, not just computer screen savers.

After suffering through half an hour of trying to get Kathleen to smile instead of cry inconsolably while sitting on Brandon's and my lap, the photographer then had the Herculean task of stemming the even-louder sobs while again trying to catch a smile that might be hidden behind the runny nose and tears. Brave soul. Eventually cheerios saved as much of the day as possible, and we have hopes for at least one picture that will make it past the digital trash can. If not, there's always digital manipulation, right?

Next time: what happened after the photo session.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Love Affair Progresses

Until yesterday, Kathleen kept her passion for the toilet restrained and chaste, only banging on the lid, and occasionally lifting it for a more... intimate... view of her beloved. However, as small children enjoy showing off for strangers, Kathleen decided that Aunt Ginger's visit would be a perfect time to unveil a new skill, a new level of her relationship - taking the plunge one might call it. As Brandon, Ginger, and I were cheerfully discussing Thanksgiving plans, I heard a gentle splash splash. Afraid someone had inadvertently left the lid open, I raced to the bathroom to discover Kathleen's newest skill - lifting the toilet lid while simultaneously splashing in the water. She smiled, and I spanked her. A few minutes later, and a repeat, followed by a third time, with punishment each time. Hopefully third time's the charm, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Kathleen's Toilet Envy

First children live a strange existence, babies living in an exclusively adult world without any reference to other babies to take their cues from; instead their only reference for what is normal is their parents. So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when all Kathleen wants to do is pull books from the shelf and read them, not knowing what all children know - scriptures are boring - it's the books with pictures one should really like. And when she pulls out a book of Arabic sayings or Russian folk tales, well that's what dad does, too. There's no one to tell her that you're only supposed to look at one kind of funny squiggle.

So again, I shouldn't be surprised when Kathleen gets upset about my trips to the bathroom; after all, she has no mental connection between wearing diapers and not using the toilet. If mom and dad go in the room and shut the door, then she should too. Mom and Dad, however, disagree and enjoy the privacy of alone time in the bathroom.

So, Kathleen is stuck outside, furiously curious about, what goes on behind closed doors. And as Kathleen has never been accused of being a quiet child, she lets her displeasure be known by banging on the door and wailing loudly, begging to be let in. But lest any of you worry that she is distressed by separation from her dear parents and not separation from the dear toilet, don't worry. As soon as I open the door, she runs in, arms open, straight to her great love - the toilet, never giving me a backward glance.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Note of Explanation

There are times in everyone's lives when some things, like blogs, get left by the wayside for a time. Big changes are often the most likely culprit, whether it be moving (we're not) getting a new job (not yet), receiving a new, intense calling (still no callings yet), sickness (we're all healthy as horses, save Kathleen's new bout of teething), divorce (not likely), death (see sickness above), and perhaps one of the most disruptive events with eternal repercussions, pregnancy.

Some of you might have suspected, as my posts have dropped off dramatically in the last two months, and I am now confirming those suspicions. We have tried to tell Kathleen, too, but as her ability for non-literal thought is limited, she hasn't really understood yet. However, she will around May 14, when her life drastically changes and she is no longer the sun around which Brandon and I orbit. Which is a good thing; everyone needs to realize at some point in their life that while intrinsically full of worth, they don't deserve to have to world rotate around them - nobody here does.

Friends have asked if this pregnancy is better or worse than the last one, but I honestly have to admit that the memories of the last one are quite fuzzy. I now understand what my mother said about selective memory having something to do with more than one child. Brandon asserts that men's memories are better than that, and if the childbearing were left up to them, everyone would be an only child, and the world would have a big problem with dwindling population.

But as he only has to provide for them and my varied and constant food cravings, the world has no need to fear on my behalf.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

If you give a cook a cookbook

Yesterday, I was browsing Brandon's birthday present, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child. Most cookbooks are somewhat dry, presenting a list of ingredients, and instructions about what to do with the preceding ingredients. The Joy of Cooking isn't so bad, and the section on pastries sustained Brandon through a bad fever in Cairo. Julia Child, however, reads like a novel. A novel that makes you want to go out and commit all of the acts described in aforesaid novel (it's probably good that she never wrote murder mysteries).

Which is how I found myself researching pastured chicken for several hours yesterday morning instead of cleaning my house. Julia Child describes things in such delicious, mouth-watering detail, that when reading the recipe on roast chicken, one can't help but start thinking of reasons to throw a big, complicated, time-consuming dinner party that would honor such a thing as roast chicken. Such a dinner party, however, could not have at its centerpiece a dry, sawdust-tasting grocery store chicken. Those animals belong in a pot-pie, or soup. No, for such a glorious centerpiece, a more fitting bird must be found, one that grew up knowing it was a chicken, and had to taste like the grand heritage it descended from. Some historians claim that Richard the Lionhearted was captured in Austria because, although posing as a commoner, he was demanding roast chicken (after all he was French), and everyone knew that only nobility ate roast chicken.

Luckily, a recent trend has begun towards -free foods. Hormone-free, antibiotic-free, animal product-free, homogenization-free, pasteurization-free (I'm not kidding), and perhaps food-free. And so, after much searching, a store was found locally that claims to sell only Real Food (instead of the pretend styrofoam kind that is only painted to look like food), that includes pastured chicken. And that's the problem with dreams of delicious dinner parties. They're always time consuming, and always expensive.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why Can't She Eat Tomatoes?

When I was a child, my mother was so worried about my eating habits, that she thought I might be anorexic. On one (and the only) family trip to Disney World, I frustrated my parents beyond belief by refusing to eat anything but chicken nuggets. Yes, the Japanese man throwing knives who fixed our food in front of us might be interesting, but there certainly weren't any chicken nuggets when it came time to eat. Even as a teenager, I was scared of dating because of the possibility of going out to eat where hamburgers might not be served. And a mission? Completely out of the question. What if they sent me to Mexico?

Brandon, on the other hand, always wanted to go to foreign lands on his mission to taste all of the exotic foods. His favorite thing when querying return missionaries was about the food they had eaten. When taken to an Asian restaurant as a child, he was disappointed to discover that the child's meal he ordered was a hamburger.

Thankfully for our marriage, time eventually gave me tastebuds, and Brandon and I now enjoy any ethnic food we can find. And apparently so does Kathleen.

Taking advantage of still only having one child who is more amenable to late hours than previously, Brandon and I went out for sushi Monday night, on a whim. Thankfully, the restaurant was nearly deserted, so Kathleen's occasional self-entertaining yells weren't so obnoxious. Knowing, however, that she wouldn't be entertained for long by talking to her self quietly, Brandon and I started giving her our food. Better Japanese baby there never was, as Kathleen greedily gobbled down every tasty morsel we put in front of her, and even consented to be fed by chopstick. Attempting to be good parents (and selfish, because we didn't want to share), we gave her no sushi, but certainly gave her some of everything else. Hopefully with an early intervention plan, we can prevent her from turning out like I did.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Unexplained Mysteries

Saturday night, Brandon and I grilled bratwurst and squash for dinner. There are two types of people in this world: those who adore bratwurst, and those that think bratwurst is disgusting. As for Brandon and me, we are in the former category. Perhaps it's my memories of the best street hotdogs in the world in Prague (that probably should have killed me), or my secret love for fatty chunks of meat stuffed inside crispy intestine casings, but the marriage of pre-burned wood and pre-chewed meat is one of magical results.

Recently, National Geographic had a small article about the "green" nature of various grilling methods. Not surprisingly, charcoal was hailed as the end of all civilization as not only does it emit greenhouse gases 1. when you burn it (and don't forget the silent killer: lighter fluid!) and 2. when it is produced. Of course any sensible citizen would eschew such an environmentally damaging source of pleasure for its much cleaner and guilt-free distant cousin: the solar grill.

But then, where would be the joy of tending a smoking fire in the cool of the evening in one's own backyard? The smell of smoke that drifts over the neighborhood, broadcasting the smell of good food to come? And the most important, that never-duplicated, mysteriously delicious, blessing to all meat - smoke flavor? Many malign man for his destructive impact on our world. But he did something right when the first Cro-Magnon pulled that flaming torch from the nearby forest fire, looked at it, and thought, "meat, fire, good."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pearls Before Swine

Yesterday we were in the backyard and I picked some grapes for Kathleen. She loves grapes, or perhaps it is better to say that she loved grapes the day before yesterday. One after another, she put a grape in her mouth, spit it out, and then put the next one in, only to spit it out before inserting the next victim. Perhaps she thought the next one might taste better.

After the grapes, she wandered over to my basket being filled with cherry tomatoes. When I came back to put some more in, I discovered four or five spit-covered tomatoes at her feet, with another entering her mouth, soon to join its fellows. With this food behavior, which is often echoed at the table, I was shocked to discover that she is in the 97th percentile for height. Kathleen certainly doesn't get that from me.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Leisure Day

Growing up as the child of an OBGYN, I always thought of ladies screaming and hollering and then popping out a miniature version of themselves when I thought of Labor Day. And as my mother-in-law Bobbie gave birth to Adam on Labor, I suppose I was right to some degree.

This Labor Day, however, involved no screaming or hollering, at least on my and Brandon's part. Kathleen may have complained a little about not being allow to plunge headfirst down the rocky bank into the Provo River. Even if we had allowed her, however, I think that perhaps there would have been even more complaining, and not just from Kathleen.


In keeping with our family tradition of avoiding all responsibility on holidays, Brandon, Kathleen, and I took a picnic up to Bridal Veil park and then visited the falls. Being an immensely curious child, Kathleen immediately set about exploring our surrounding vicinity and could only be bribed to stay put with some food. As soon as the novelty of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, tortellini, artichoke hearts, and Kalimata olives wore off, however, walks (only holding on to one hand) with Brandon and me were the only thing to keep a busy girl busy. As the weather was perfect, and the path nicely shaded, neither Brandon nor I minded.


After finishing the picnic with peaches and angel food cake, both of which Kathleen found highly delicious, we visited Bridal Veil falls. Brandon wasn't very excited about wading in the snow-melt, and it turned out, neither was Kathleen, so our visit was short before heading home for nap time.


As we had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy ourselves, Brandon and I decided to go to a movie, Pirates of the Caribbean. This decision came after much debating Kathleen's stamina and attention span, and was finally resolved with the help of some dice, but was rendered null after we drove to the theater, only to find the movie sold out. So instead, we put Kathleen to bed, and watched a movie, fuss free. And we didn't have to pay for popcorn.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Sound of Silence

Today, I turned on my dryer, which in itself is a miracle. After reassembling the dryer Saturday, which took at 45 minutes, Brandon plugged in the cord, and we turned it on. Nothing. The light on the dryer worked, but the drum didn't turn. Thankfully only one of the leads in the door had become unplugged, which made our teflon slide situation a snap.

After turning on the dryer, I listened, and heard nothing; well, nothing out of the ordinary. No squeaking. No groaning. No sound of small mice being slowly murdered.

And then I went into the bathroom. Again, nothing. No drips, no splashes, no sound of very gently runnnig water. My favorite part of this silence, however, is the price: $6. After all of the fuss, it's six dollars I'm more than willing to pay.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Milestones

In every person's life, there are milestones of maturing and achieving adulthood. The first kiss. Driver's license. One's first apartment. Marriage. Children. The first appliance repair.

Being young, and scarce of resources, Brandon and I purchased our first dryer used, for $20. It didn't come with a cord, and you had to time the cycles because it would catch the clothes on fire (theoretically) before it turned off of its own volition, but it worked. As my sister Laura says, dryers don't leak like washers do, so spend your money on a washer. Recently, however, it has started squealing every time we would turn it on.

Despite our advanced ages, neither Brandon nor I have been the sole proprietors of an appliance. Previously, someone else has always seen to essential maintenance, and so someone else was concerned if the dryer was squealing. So, we let it squeal for awhile; after all, laundry is only done once a week, and Brandon isn't home to hear the squealing. Problems always seem much less urgent when one doesn't hear the agony of the dryer oneself.


Finally, however, we remembered about the squealing when the dryer wasn't actually running. After disassembling the dryer, thanks to a very helpful website (who knew that the dryer had to be taken apart from the front), we reached the essential parts needing grease. Simple. Easy. Quick. So I thought. Beware the seeker of further knowledge.

Reading further, I noticed mention of a problem I had been having with black marks on my clothing. Oh, it turned out, we needed a felt belt, which cost $30. Calling around to various repair places, we discovered none are open on the Saturday before Labor day. And online, our problem was only compounded by delayed shipping time also caused by Labor day. Labor day? More like Leisure Day.

After more inspection of the dryer during my cursing of the local repair places, Brandon discovered that our problem was not the grease, not the felt, but a third (and hopefully final) problem: teflon sliders. Four of them, at $10 apiece.

Now we have a disassembled dryer with no sliders and no hope of sliders until Tuesday. And a leaky bathroom faucet. Perhaps the faucet will just have to slowly drain the reservoirs until we leave and it's some other tenant's problem.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Teething Terror

Kathleen has reached that point in her life, where, alas, she is growing teeth. She has had two top teeth since she was six month old, and the two bottom showed up three months later, but none other decided to make an appearance until we were on vacation for three weeks. As we were on vacation, her increased fusiness and clinging wasn't completely unusul, just incredibly wearing. I didn't realize the cause of her anxiety until we were riding home from the beach and my cousin Melodie pointed out that she had a fully erupted molar in the back. When I got around to inspecting her gums at home, I discovered four more teeth on the way, including two molars, on her upper jaw.

Now, two and a half weeks later, she is still teething, and I discovered today that she now has teeth threatening to make an appearance on her lover jaw. Both Brandon and I try to keep her regularly dosed with Tylenol, but there's nothing we can do when she refuses to eat and won't drink her bottle. At first I was pleased about her newly growing teeth, but now we're both ready to put her in a box with some puppies outside of Wal-Mart with a sign announcing "Free Baby - Car Seat Included."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Beware the Quiet Child

After running every morning with Kathleen, I shower. And as Kathleen can't be trusted with the run of the house, I put her in her room. Sometimes she plays with her toys, or pulls things out of her closet, or bangs on the door, and sometimes she complains about her confinement. However, as I am in the shower and the mom, there's nothing she can do about it.

This morning, Kathleen wasn't very happy and banged on her door while complaining, and as usual, nothing changed. After awhile she gave up, and I finished showering, and then dressed without the aid of Kathleen clinging to my legs after I let her out. Emerging from the bathroom, I went to let Kathleen out. As I opened the door, she turned and looked at me with a smile of great delight and pride, having just demonstrated that often a quiet baby is one who is getting into trouble - this time with diaper cream.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer Break

Recently, Kathleen, Brandon, and I returned from a trip. I hesitate to say vacation, because anything involving a 1 year-old, very active child doesn't quite qualify as a vacation, or a date, or an outing, or really anything that has to do with leisure. We all drove out together to Brandon's parents' house in southwestern Missouri, with the 19-hour drive going miraculously smoothly, even without having to resort to Benadryl. Kathleen very much liked her grandparents' house that had the unimagined delights of cows (only if they are more than 3 feet away), a dog (the closer the better), cats, a light-up singing play gym (that will NEVER be purchased for home), and a gravel driveway.


After a week with her grandparents, uncles Brett and Adam, and an increasing number of cousins that eventually turned into a dull roar, Kathleen and I left Brandon in Kansas City, and flew further east to North Carolina (which did involve Benadryl) while Brandon returned home to Utah to work so he could pay for our plane ticket. After spending a few days at the other grandparents' house, which contained the unimaginable wonders of stairs, a deck, and a goldfish pond, we went down to the beach to meet up with more cousins. The beach had the best wonders of all: sand, more stairs, and the ocean. After two weeks of playing without Brandon, Kathleen and I headed home.



After having traveled for three weeks, two of them without my husband, I have realized several things about traveling with a child:

1. Regression. Despite eating the bulk of her nutrition in solid foods, Kathleen quit eating anything but a token amount, and so we were forced to supplement with (expensive) formula. Whoever designed babyfood in those neat glass jars obviously never designed them for babies that have only eaten table food. Despite all of the warnings against it, we had to add at least a teaspoon of salt to the squash before she would do anything but spit it out. As soon as we got home, of course, food was tasty again.

2. Solitude. Many parents enjoy keeping their children in their room. We do not. Upon waking in the middle of the night, Kathleen discovered that she didn't just have her teddy bear to keep her company - she had her favorite friends - Mom and Dad! A vacation is not a vacation when no matter how late one stays up to spend time with relatives, one's child is still the first up. In the entire house.

3. Attachement. After so much time with just Kathleen and me, I was looking forward to having other people to share my entertainment burden. However, the more people around who would absolutely love to play with her, the more Kathleen wants to play with Mom.

4. Bravery. More bravery than brains. Kathleen's favorite activity at the beach was to sit in the waves, letting the water wash over her until a wave knocked her down. Then she would crawl down further so the water was even deeper.

5. Single parenting. All of the problems above are only made worse by being the only parent around. I've also realized that the nicer your surroundings are without your spouse, the more you miss them. On the upside, however, when I finally arrived home after more than two weeks of absence, Brandon was possibly more excited see me than I was to see him. He had even made me dinner. And for the next week, he kept exclaiming how wonderful it was to have someone who knew how to run the household; perhaps every wife and mother should take a few weeks off to show everyone just exactly what they're missing. For this right now, however, I'm glad to be home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I guess I could have used the exercise anyway

Every morning (that Brandon is working), Kathleen and I go running. I say Kathleen and I because Kathleen comes along in her stroller; she certainly isn't doing any running. As the mornings are a little chilly, I put her blanket in her stoller to keep her warm. So off we both go, me pushing and Kathleen sitting like a little princess in her chariot, calmly sucking her thumb and watching as the scenery (slowly) passes by. Our run is almost four miles, long enough to tire me out fairly well. Kathleen, as well as I, know when the run is almost done and giggles and claps as we approach home.

This morning we were almost done; Kathleen was giggling and I was crossing the street for the last uphill block before home, when I glanced down at her. No blanket. I looked behind. No blanket. And for good measure, I looked underneath. No blanket. I considered briefly; Brandon wouldn't be home with the car until this afternoon, and by that time the blanket would most likely be gone. Kathleen has quite a few blankets, but I didn't like losing one of her favorites. One never knows if they'll take to the next one quite as well.

So, with some annoyance, I turned the jogging stroller around. And Kathleen started howling - loud, jagged cries that I was sure the whole neighborhood would hear and wonder what I was doing to my child. As there was nothing to do for it, and it was her own fault for tossing her blanket overboard, I kept running. I kept running as people gave me shocked stares, kept running as it started to rain, and kept running as there was no blanket in sight. Finally, a third of the way back, I saw it - pink, fluffly, and sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. As to how she managed to drop it without me noticing as I ran over her blanket, I'll never know.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Curious Children and Drunk Deer

As they have not been here very long, and been mobile even less time, small children seem to be exceedingly curious. The only problem is that their curiousity sometimes leads them to explore things that perhaps better sense would tell them to leave alone. This morning, after enduring the stink long enough, I took Kathleen's diapers out to the trash. Her diaper pail is a small step-pedal one with a lid. When I returned, I found her chewing on the lid.

Every evening, Kathleen gets a bath. If perhaps you question the necessity of a small child having a bath every night, you've never seen them after crawling around the floor and backyard all day. Our bathtub is equipped with the usual soap-holder, in which we keep our soap. Thus far, Kathleen has not been too interested. Yesterday evening I heard her coughing, and looked over to see her sticking her tongue out with some measure of disgust on her face. She was chasing something underwater, and I saw that it was little bits of soap. Intrigued to see if she would like some more, I helped her catch a bit, and then watched as she made the same face while spitting it out. However, as soon as she dropped it, she started fishing again.

I have a mug that I like to keep cold water in. Kathleen is fixated on it whenever I have it out. This morning I went outside to move the sprinklers, and came back inside to find her splashing in a big, wet, puddle on the carpet, right next to my now-empty mug.

Brandon told me once of a TV show where it showed animals in the savannah all getting together around a tree surrounded by fermenting fruit and having a party together. The footage was complete with weaving animals, clearly drunk. On our morning run, Kathleen and I pass by a house that has several apple trees. Some of the apples have fallen, and the owner has piled them up in a grassy, treed area near the house. This morning as we rounded the corner past the now two-week old apple pile, I smelled the sweet aroma of fermenting apples. Evidently the local deer had smelled it too; as I looked over at the apples only a few feet away, he looked at me, froze for a moment, and then bounded off. Was it me, or did he weave just slightly?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pictures


For those of you who like those things, we have some new pictures (mostly of Kathleen) on our Picasa web site.

It's Hot!

I'm not normally one to complain about the heat, especially after spending the two past summers in Egypt and pregnant, but I wouldn't mind if Utah cooled down just a little. This afternoon, at 1 o'clock, Kathleen and I have a birthday party to attend. Outside. At a park. With no mature (shady) trees. With a forecasted high of 98 degrees. And we have to walk there. At least she has a sundshade on her stroller. Thankfully, it is less than a half mile away, or I think we might melt before we get there.

Everyone likes to say that the heat in Utah is a 'dry heat.' I can appreciate that, especially as I sit in our backyard, in the shade, in the afternoon. The shade feels at least 15 degrees cooler than the sun. However, when you're in the sun, the sensation is something akin to broiling inside a very hot oven, with the direct, hot, piercing, dry rays of the sun beating down on you.

I grew up in North Carolina, where some like to call the heat a 'soggy heat.' I remember going running in the afternoon and coming home with every article of clothing (including sometimes my shoes) soaked from the soggy heat. But at least I didn't become dehyrated, because the air I breathed hydrated me. And even if you didn't get much, if any, cooler in the shade, when you were in the sun you didn't get roasted alive. I would call it being steamed alive. I prefer a soggy death to a roasted one.

Thankfully, we'll have a respite from the dry, unending, sunny, heat when Brandon, Kathleen, and I head out to Missouri in a week. Earlier this week we enjoyed a brief rain shower, lasting for the duration of my run - the ground was dry when I left, and the rain was almost completely stopped when I got home. Kathleen was fascinated, viewing the whole event from the safety of her stroller, with a shade. Hopefully she'll have quite a few more rains to enjoy when we go to the land of soggy heat. I, for one, wouldn't mind a few cloudy days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We're Wasting Money on Food





When I was around Kathleen's age, my parents took my older sister and me on a hike to Hanging Rock, in North Carolina. As family legend goes, I took a fancy to rocks, or perhaps thought that I was a chicken, and ate quite a few. I have never understood how a child can eat rocks - they certainly aren't tasty and should be rough on the way down. Well, like mother, like daughter, I suppose.

Monday afternoon, Brandon and I were at home, and Kathleen was crawling around, exploring. Brandon heard her coughing in the bathroom and rushed in to see what razor or shampoo cap she had swallowed. Instead he found a piece of pumice, with large bite marks newly incised into it. Evidently she wants to grow up and be a bird, too.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy Fourth of July!

Or perhaps, happy fifth of July. As Brandon had work off yesterday, we were able to celebrate the Fourth of July with something other than an early bedtime (although that was in effect, also). We have decided that our family policy on holidays is to treat them like holidays - so no pulling weeds, cleaning the house, or other necessary things are allowed.

So, to follow our family rule, we decided to go on a family outing - a walk along the Provo River Trail. As one could guess by the name, the trail follows the Provo River until it empties into Utah Lake. I would have rather been out on a speedboat with half of the population of Utah on the lake, but as we have no speedboat and no friends with a speedboat to mooch off, we contended ourselves with a quiet, and drier walk. I enjoy the Provo River Trail because it has something that most of the valley is devoid of - trees that weren't planted and aren't watered. It reminds me of where I grew up, in North Carolina. Of course, the trees don't occasionally break to views of mountains, but nothing is perfect.

Kathleen's favorite part of the walk was seeing, and petting, the horses that pastured alongside the trail. She seems to have an affinity for them, probably because they're so big. She also enjoyed dipping her feet, her hands, and attempting her head, in the river. And for most of the walk she contradicted her maxim of preferring home to anything else.

Yesterday afternoon we invited Brandon's siblings, Ashlie and Nick, over for hamburgers, homemade potato salad, and homemade mint ice cream. Having recently acquired our first grill, we made good use of it in creating carcinogen-enhanced meat, as that is is only way to enjoy a good hamburger. And to celebrate the founding of our country, we watched a movie about a good English-French war, Henry V, with Kenneth Branaugh. Unfortunately, we didn't see any fireworks, as bedtime was early, but we did hear some. All in all, not a bad Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pictures of our House



For all of you curious devotees, we have just posted pictures of the duplex that we moved into at the beginning of May. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Perhaps Monkeys are More Intelligent than We Thought

Most of you have heard about monkeys and Shakespeare - if one could theorectically put an infinite number of monkeys (which is not possible) in front of an infinite number of typewriters (which, again, is not possible), they would come up with all of the works of Shakespeare. Or perhaps Dierdot, or maybe even Dumas, but that might be pushing it. Brandon and I have discussed this problem several times, and I have always insisted that that could never happen. Well, I might be wrong.

Yesterday morning, while typing my last post (I apologize for two in two days; that really is much too often), I handed Kathleen our phone to keep her busy. She likes phones and keys and whisks and measuring spoons and pencils and chess pieces, just not her toys. The beeping sounds that come out of the phone, and occasionally even Grandma's voice, are an endless source of fascination to her. And there is no possible way she could actually get a correct sequence of numbers entered while the phone was on to actually call someone - that would be akin to some monkey typing "to be, or not to be" (all less than three letters).

However, after hearing someone's voice, not the operator, come out of the phone, I unplugged the phone line to be on the safe side. An hour later, a police car showed up in front of our house. Was everything fine, he wanted to know, they had recieved a call from this address. And that's when I realized - I should get some monkeys, some typewriters, and see if they could best good old Bill.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Babysitter: $18. Dinner and a Movie Without Kathleen: Priceless

Brandon's birthday was in early June, but we hadn't had an opportunity to celebrate it with dinner. A serious perk of being married is that you essentially get to enjoy not one, but two birthdays. Two dinners out (after all, it's no fun going out to dinner by yourself), two cakes, two celebrations, and two occasions for presents. Brandon recieved a Vaughn Williams CD - I like Vaughn Williams!; ice cream money - enough for two!; and Mastering the Art of French Cooking - hey, I can always enjoy a cookbook whose main three ingredients are cream, butter, and eggs. Brandon didn't fare so well for my birthday, however; I don't think his shoe size is a 7, and he definitely doesn't like wearing knee-high black leather boots.

Kathleen does NOT do well being 1. out of the house and, 2. up past her bedtime. Combine the two, and you get to force feed a screaming baby to keep her quiet, and then pace the back of the movie theatre afterwards. Many people's children love being out, spending time with mom and dad. Not ours. So, our only option was to find a babysitter.

Never having actually paid a babysitter before (previously we had an exchange worked out with Brandon's cousin), I wasn't quite sure how to go about finding one. I could always call around in the ward for eligible young women. But then how much do you pay someone to come and watch DVDs at your house for hours? I didn't need the super-certified, years-of-experience babysitter. I just needed someone who had the ability to call 911 and snatch the baby out of her crib if the house caught on fire.

Thank heavens for the local community bulletin board. I love them, because you can find all sorts of odd offers, and interesting goings-on. Additionally, you can find a babysitter, with a posted price: $3 an hour. She and her friend were only 11, but that's all we needed. So, hoping that one could trust one's neighbors in Springville not to be known for baby-neglect, I gave Makenzie Moon a call. She sounded perfectly normal, and better yet, she lived 3 houses away around the corner! $3 an hour for someone who will walk to your house!

Wednesday night Brandon and I got spiffed up, met the babysitter, her mother, and her friend who came to keep her company, and then joyfully headed up to Provo without our favorite child. We enjoyed a delicious dinner (with no interruptions other than from our server), a nice perusal through the bookstore (without a bored child), and saw the nine o'clock showing of Miss Potter. If our Whoppers, Junior Mints, and Charleston chews hadn't melted in the car during dinner, the night would have been perfect. However, I will take melted candy any day over a screaming child.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Why Children are Like Cats

When I was growing up, my family had a cat, Harriet. Unlike most aloof, distant cats, Harriet was more needy and attention-loving. Often when I would sit outside reading a book or newspaper, Harriet would saunter up, meow once or twice, and sit herself right in the middle of my book.

Kathleen loves the vacuum cleaner. Sometimes I will find her in her room, where the vacuum cleaner is kept, and find her cocking her head and cooing at her tall, red, plastic friend. And if she and the vacuum cleaner are friends when it is off, she adores it when it is on. As soon as Kathleen hears her favorite roar, she will come crawling as fast as her knees and hands can take her and sit, staring adoringly, right in the path of the vacuum cleaner.

I think perhaps that my baby is cut out to be a housewife, because in addition to her love affair with the vacuum cleaner, she also has an affinity for laundry, the fresher the better. This afternoon we sat down together to fold the laundry. Of course Kathleen's favorite spot was right in front of me, on top of the laundry.

If only we could train her to use a litter box.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

She Gets it From Her Grandmother


Yesterday afternoon I was watering my small garden and trimming the grapevines on our fence. Kathleen was outside with me, enjoying nature. Very much. As you can tell from the mud smeared on her face, and clothes, and hands, and dress, I think she'll be an avid gardener, just like her Grandma Henderson. Now I just need to teach her which plants are weeds.

Clearly we didn't read our previous post carefully enough


Kathleen loves water. She loves her bath, she loves the sprinklers, she loves splashing in her pot outside while in the yard. Logic follows that she would adore the local pool with its myriad of water-spraying, splashing, and pouring devices. Logic, however, was never found in a 10-month old baby. Sure, she was somewhat okay in the shallows, but her wails only grew louder the greater variety of distractions we tried to find. Luckily, the pool was so noisy that we couldn't hear the wails very much; I was having a nice time despite Kathleen's protestations. Brandon, not being around her wails as much, wasn't. Finally, however, after a bottle, some time on the grass (and pool chair), and a slow entry into the water, she began to enjoy herself. Long enough for Brandon to ride the waterslide once before completely breaking down again. Brandon doesn't have much hope for next time, but I do!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Doings in the Sherwood Family

Brandon has been off work for the past three days, so we have gotten some things done. First, and most important, we made pilgrimage to IKEA. Kathleen, we thought, would love IKEA - lots of bright colors, people to see, time with mom and dad. As I have come to discover more and more, however, she is her father's child. She doesn't like leaving the house. At all. We tried to take her to a movie. Once. We tried to take her hiking. For about a mile. We take her to church, but she doesn't have a choice about that one. By the time we got to the kitchens, she had had enough. Unfortunately for her, we had things to purchase, so she took turns on Brandon's shoulders, in his arms, walking on the floor as we held her arms. Cheerios were the only solution.

While she munched, we got the final things to make our apartment home - a bed frame, nightstand, lamp, light fixture for the kitchen, magnetic knife strip, a few other small things, and a toy for Kathleen. She doesn't seem too interested in the toy yet. IKEA is a dangerous place because there are always more things than one anticipated buying that are suddenly very useful and needed. For Brandon's birthday last week, I purchased him Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child. As anyone who cooks knows, the purchase of a new cookbook necessitates the purchase of new cooking equipment. And there they were - exactly what we needed - a souffle dish and cast-iron enameled casserole! Perfect for all of those delicious souffles and creams and stews I am going to make! Well, we had eclairs instead for Liz and Jordan, and our Spanish rice that evening was cooked in a normal pot with a lid.

The joy of IKEA is extended by the joy of furniture assembly. Combined with the ever-curious Kathleen who isn't interested in new toys, it makes for an interesting time. IKEA furniture comes with a 2-pound grab-bag of various and diverse screws, nails, nuts, and other things, all devastatingly fascinating, and at the same time deadly, to a 10-month old. Eventually after she crawled off our mattress headfirst onto the pile of wood that would become our bed frame, she finally got relegated to her Johnny Jump-up. I believe that if we could somehow hook up a generator to the spring, she could power our whole house with her jumping.

As briefly mentioned earlier, yesterday brought Janet Elizabeth Samuelson Jacobson (she would like to have all four names used) and her husband Jordan for a visit. Jordan and JESJ have just finished graudate school in Boston, and are in Utah visiting family before a migration to Cincinatti where Jordan will be continuing schooling, and JESJ will be going with him. We had a nice French blue cheese quiche, that could possibly have one's weekly intake of fat in one or two servings. Following that were the eclairs. But that is why I invited people over to eat - Brandon and I have less leftovers to get fat on, and it's an excuse to eat nutritionally devastating items. Like French food.

So after all of the excitement, Brandon is asleep, Kathleen is asleep, and I'm enjoying silence and anticipation of leftover quiche for dinner.

Why We Have Children





Yesterday, Kathleen had her first bubble bath. As she is a naturally curious child and finds that oral exploration is her favored method, she leaned down to lick the bubbles. Of course, the bubbles then covered her face in various formations: little old man beards; wonderful goatees, complete with nicely pointed moustaches; the abominable snowman, and Father Christmas. Brandon and I died laughing and took pictures while trying to breathe. Kathleen, of course, looked at us with a confused expression, which completed the look (more pictures are on the picassa site). I suppose that made up for the eclair she had smeared across her face in the previous picture. The third picture is so that she can't complain in fifteen years that we never took any nice pictures of her. The silly ones are just funnier!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Your daily intake of Sherwoods

Welcome to our family blog! As anyone reading this already knows who the Sherwood family is, no introduction is needed. We've created this blog in order to keep everyone who cares updated, and make no personal communication necessary (Brandon's goal). We won't promise daily updates (in fact, that will NEVER happen), but we'll try for weekly ones. We also have an online photo album, mostly of Kathleen, at www.picasaweb.google.com/sherwoods. Enjoy!