Friday, December 25, 2009

Stars were gleaming, shepherds singing, Mary's eyes shot laser beams


Monday, December 14, 2009

So Easy A Cave Mom Can Do It


I admit, now that I'm looking at this close-up, there are a few things I would do differently next time, but I still wanted to share this because it was so EASY!

If you've ever tried making a gingerbread house with the traditional royal icing and candy, you probably recall that the icing takes forever to dry, all kinds of supports are needed to keep your house standing while the icing dries, and the candy is ridiculously expensive if you buy enough variety to really do it up cute.

The kids really wanted a gingerbread house this year, and I really wanted a successful gingerbread house at long last. (I can't tell you how many times I have tried and failed.  Royal icing and I get along great with flat cookies...not so much for 3D structures.)

I realized that we never actually EAT our gingerbread.  It sits there until its thoroughly stale and nasty anyways, so why not use hot glue?  The hot glue was as close to an instant bond as you'll get with something full of sugar and grease.  While it didn't bond as well as I would have liked it too, it certainly bonded well enough to get my structure standing.  Although next time I will still make a recipe of royal icing to fill it in and make it pretty after I've got it glued.  (I didn't have enough sugar on hand and didn't want to go buy any for this project.)


When it came time to decorate my little house, I saw I had some homemade wheat thins on hand that looked nice and rustic and shingle-y, so I started gluing them on the roof only to discover I was about 1/3 short of what I needed to complete the roof.  But guess what?  Marshmallow fondant makes a nice snow-laden roof, and I happened to have a small amount left over from this cute thingy I made a couple weeks back.  (please excuse the cornstarch/kitchen tool laden counter.)

So with the help of a rolling pin, my fingers, some cookie cutters, and a steak knife, I got the rest of that cut out and put on my little house.

When all was said and done, this house, which I think is at least as cute as one you can make from a pre-purchased kit cost less than $5.00.  WAY less.

Of course now that I've got one under my belt, I've got lots of ideas for really doing it up next year, but hey I think this turned out pretty decent for my very first actually STANDING home-made gingerbread house.

And since it was so easy a Cave Mom can do it, you can too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A little Christmas Miracle

After a crazy week of temper tantrums, spontaneous crying, wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth and all other manner of pre-Christmas childhood angst, I came downstairs this morning to find Gabriel reading a Christmas story to Lily.

It was so quiet, so happy, so friendly.  When he finished the book Lily told him "You're a good reader Gabe" and he beamed ear to ear.

Ahhhhh, it warms a mom's soul to see her children happy and content, being kind to one another.

When the kids ask "Mom, what do you want for Christmas" I (predictably) answer "for my children to behave for one full day!" (you all say that same thing, right?).  Well, it felt like Christmas came this morning, and I told them so.  Of course they went off looking to see if Santa had arrived and insisted that the single package I currently have laying under the tree was a certain sign of Santa having visited.  They were disappointed when I told them that was already there, but what was curious to me was that they didn't seem the least bit disappointed that there was only a single item under the tree!  Of course Christmas day will be a little more abundant, but it made me feel good that we don't have to go crazy to make them happy.  Whatever Christmas day brings, I feel certain it will be joy and contentment. (now if only we can keep the kids at school quiet and not swapping "what did Santa bring you?" stories....ugh.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Man's guide to avoid giving quite possibly the worst gift ever


**if you're just reading this today, and it seems perhaps a little too close to this, please note my  publish date and the fact that I've never even heard of Wasatch Woman Magazine before today...although, Boy do I have an idea for a spoof! (Wasatch/Sasquatch...we'll go there another time.)


Nothing says "Hey babe, I love you, but you're starting to look a little too much like a primate for my tastes" better than a gift certificate to the Dr's office to have them shine a pretty laser at her chin several times over the next few months.  That rubberband snapping against the cheek feeling will only last a moment and she can go about her day with only a little bit of red irritation. Doesn't that sound delightful?

I mean, don't get me wrong, a little well placed laser treatment really could be a good thing, but this kind of gift giving could get a man a swift kick in the family jewels.  Dying to give her a "spa" treatment?  Then purchase a gift certificate and let her chose her own pampering.  Who knows, maybe she'll get those unsightly hairs lased off anyways, but at least you won't be guilty of causing her to believe you find her grotesque.

Here are a few more items no man should ever consider purchasing as a Christmas gift for the woman he loves:

Vacuum cleaner.  It doesn't matter if its the $60.00 model, or the $460.00 model.  No matter how badly your lady wants a new vacuum cleaner, this is never an appropriate gift.  This is the kind of thing that should come out of the regular everyday household budget.  Reserve your gift giving budget for romantic gestures and items which lack necessity.

Ski bib.  Its true YOU may think your wife looks beautiful in anything she puts on, but I promise you, given the choice, she will never willingly choose to look more like the stay-puff-marshmallow man than any other thing. (except maybe a wookie)

New Tires or Brakes.  Its probably better to just agree ahead of time that you will not be exchanging gifts this year than to pretend that such things are your gift to her for Christmas.  If you do go the "Merry Christmas babe, I got you new tires so you don't have a blow out on the freeway while you've got all 8 kids in the car" route, may I suggest you at least purchase the lifetime free balancing and rotation package?

Don't bother to tell her what you "wanted" to get her, if it is significantly more costly than what you really got her unless A: the item you really wanted to get her is currently out of stock and thus unavailable for purchase, and B: you can actually afford to purchase the item when it becomes available again and you have plans to do so.  Also, if she asks you for a trip to Hawaii or other exotic location do not add the phrase "hopefully some day" to the answer of "no" unless you have started a savings account and put at least $10.00 in it.

Electronics.  Unless she asks specifically for a certain piece of technology, its always safer to not buy her anything that may be misinterpreted to actually be a gift for yourself.  If she's super techy, she'll let you know which piece of equipment she wants.  If she's not, you're probably wasting your money on a gadget she has no idea what to do with, and no interest in learning how to operate it.  The one possible exception may be an upgraded camera or video camera, so long as she can open it and use it right away without having to read an instruction book for hours before beginning.


"As seen on TV"...honestly, she probably never wanted a Chia Pet, the Strapper, or a Ped-egg.  A Snuggie may be a possible exception, but you'll want to check with her first. Chances are good she either thinks the Snuggie is the greatest invention ever, or the stupidest, you take your chances on her response if you don't ask.

Its too dangerous

I'm wondering just how much of the Christmas story my three year old knows.  We actually put out the Nativity in a "reachable" area this year, due to lack of space and the kids being old enough not to play with it.  But not being allowed to touch the figurines has not stopped Lily from imagining various scenarios in which they are involved.

Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on the couch, and she was standing at the side table looking at the figurines and I hear her mutter under her breath "I will kill you" and then (still quietly, but not muttered, and in a feminine voice) "don't go! Its too dangerous!"  There was alot of other muttering and argument taking place before and after that little exchange, but I was trying so hard to listen that I couldn't hear a thing.

I'm pretty sure she hasn't yet heard the story of the flight into Egypt, but she's definitely got me wondering.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The revolt has begun!

I'm beginning to think that this small wave of people who are sick and tired of being PC in order to please a very few who cannot be pleased is starting to grow! Our governor said "No more 'Holiday' Tree" and continued on to say that she believes it is politically correct to call something what it is, therefore, the holiday tree and the holiday candle display have resumed being a Christmas Tree and a Menorrah.  Old Navy reportedly has used the phrase "Merry Christmas" in a national advertising campaign, and today, my son came home from his publicly funded school with a worksheet he had completed about SinterKlause, and the Norwegian CHRISTMAS tradition of putting candy in children's shoes.  The worksheet actually said Christmas on  it, spelled correctly.

I LOVE it!

And you know what? I'm also ok with him doing a worksheet on Chanukah, and another one on Kwanzaa.  I'm just thrilled that they aren't completely ignoring the Christian tradition in favor of appeasing those who incorrectly believe that the government's job is to protect atheists from being exposed to religion.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Anybody else sick of hearing this yet? What are you doing to curb the gimme's at your house?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The TRUE meaning of HoHoHo

Lily is only 3 and a half, and has a very rich imaginary life.  The girl spends more time pretending than living in our adult version of reality, and she's quite happy there!  But there is one area of pretend that she doesn't seem quite sold on.

Santa.

Lily has ALOT of questions about Santa.  Why is he at the mall?  Where did he get a computer from? What do elfs do? Why would elfs do that? Why isn't Santa helping his elfs? How come Santa is at the mall AND at Bass Pro shop?

If you saw the look on her face and the wheels turning in her head you'd see that she's giving this a whole lot of thought for a kid who's not yet four.

But mom and dad are keeping up the pretend.  We love it!  And she wants to love it too. I can tell she really wants to buy the story.

This afternoon during lunch she started asking more questions about Santa, so we turned the tables on her and said "why don't you tell us what YOU know about Santa."  She answered "well, he says 'HoHoHo'" and JP asked her what does HoHoHo mean? To which she answered "I think it means quit your crying."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The neighbor probably thinks we're raging racists...

We have a neighbor who doesn't come out of his house very much.  He is Chinese, and he doesn't speak very much English.  When we do see him, we always wave and say hello, and he waves back and goes his merry way.  But tonight, the boy Gabe decided it was time to have a conversation.

So, he saw the neighbor come out of his house, he quickly parked his bike in the middle of the street, went running up to the man, and said ( I kid you not) "Do you know how to make Chinese food?" and ran away.

What I'm sure the neighbor does not understand, is that Gabriel is a big time Chinese food fan! He LOVES Chinese food with all his heart, and he's been trying to figure out for months how to get our Chinese neighbor to come over and make us Chinese food. He actually thought he was being a friendly neighbor, but we are so embarrassed!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Just like Vikings, only they walked

It's been a fairly long spell since I've been to Primary.  Since the time a former Bishop came to the knowledge that at 35 years old I had spent 16 years serving in Primary, I've been given a furlough of sorts.  I admit, I've really enjoyed adult lessons, adult conversation, adult perspective.  But what I realized this past Sunday as I substitute taught the six and seven year olds, I also miss the humor the kids provide!

Here's my short "Overheard in the Ward" style list:

"Does everybody know who the Pioneers were?"--"Yeah, they were just like Vikings, only they walked."

"Who can tell me what the Bishop does with our tithing after we've given it to him?"--"First he checks it to make sure its all there and nobody stole any."/ "He takes it STRAIGHT to Jesus...or does Jesus come to get it?"/ "He uses it to get stuff."

"Is anybody allergic to any kind of food?" (food is allowed for an object lesson, and an object lesson we had.)--"No, I'm not allergic to any food, just my brother."

"My lips taste like an apple-pear"--"What? Your lips taste like a black bear?"

"His nickname (middle) is Thomas? I thought he was named Dave" (he's really named Gabe).

"What is Christmas really about?"--"Its about Jesus, but we get all the presents we want."

"Mary, Mary, these kids are gettin' WILD!" (I thought to myself as singtime drew near an end and I realized I would have to keep them interested for another hour all by myself after they sang 'Mary, Mary, look at the child" one last time.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is this a good choice? Or a bad choice?

If you don't know ChefTess, its time to get yourself in the know.  She is a little bit-o-kooky, and a whole lot-o-evil genius.  She is also an actual, real-life friend of mine, which makes life both fun and delicious.


So Tess does this thing she calls Evil Think Tank.  She gets together with a friend, brings with her all kinds of crazy good ingredients and a basic goal for the day, such as "come up with the most purely evil tart ever."  And then the baking begins.  Tuesday morning I was ever so lucky and got to be an evil thinker in this week's think tank.  Man! did we have fun.  And lest you think that "Evil" is just a word we're throwing about far too casually, consider this:  I ran off to the produce market to buy some last minute ingredients.  My bill came to $6.66, Tess has picture proof of this.

So anyways, we made some seriously evil tarts (check out Tess's blog this week (CheffTessBakeresse), she's not only doing tutorials, but a giveaway which includes a cooking lesson for any Phoenix area readers and a wonderful tart pan like I've never seen, very heavy duty and totally and completely non-stick!) and of course we had to taste them.  Truth in advertising, right?  So as we're sitting at the table, nibbling (and I do mean nibbling, we are frankly a little afraid of the calorie count in these tarts) we serve a slice up to miss Lily.  She dives right in, and then about 3 bites into it says "Is this a bad choice? Or a good choice?"  To which Tess and I both answered, "That's a very good question."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday shopping 6 year old boy style

Day 1 "Mom! check out these really awesome laser dolphins!"
Day 2 "Mom! we went to the Holiday Gift Shop today and here is my list of things to buy tomorrow"
(note list includes 1 item for mom, 0 items for dad, 2 items for said 6 year old, 1 item for sister #3, 0 items for sisters #1 and #2, 1 item for 1 grandfather, 1 item for 1 cousin, 0 items for any remaining family members.)
Day 3 "Mom! I saw something I really wanted so I changed my mind and didn't get you a necklace so I could get what I wanted.  Isn't this snake cool!?"

When I asked him if he thought putting back a gift for me so he could get himself a 3rd item was a good choice, he said with complete sincerity "I guess I should have put back Lily's gift instead."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I didn't fail, but thanks for thinking I should be an expert by now

This weekend was Tae Kwondo testing again, and this time I had several kids that I help to teach at Gabe's school testing for their first belt.  It was so fun to see them come in so excited and curious about how it would all go.  It was neat to feel a tiny bit of "ownership" over their success.

But you know we never leave one of these things without a story!

We were outside warming up, I was having some of the kids with more advanced belts run the white belts through their routines, getting stretched, practicing their kicks, blocks, forms, etc, we were having a good time and accomplishing something while the other adults were getting the room set up for testing.  The boys were really into it (I didn't have any girls this time) and weren't really paying too much attention to the other adults around them, they were in their own world.

We went inside to begin testing, and one of the students noticed the black-belt panel seated at the front of the room (keep in mind he's only ever met one black belt, John, the main instructor) and he notices that except for  the parents in the room, the very large majority of adults in the room were black belts.

With a very worried look, he comes to me and says quietly, "Miss Lisa?"-I answered "Yes?"  "Miss Lisa, how many times have you FAILED this test?!"  I answered "none....whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?"  His answer-"Well then WHY are you still a green belt!?"--apparently he assumed that all adults were black belts, but fortunately, I did get to test for an advancement, and it was fun to show him that the adults have to earn their belts just the same way the kids do.  In fact, that's one of the things I love, we all wear the same uniform, we all do the same things.  Nobody's special, nobody's different.  We all start from the beginning, and that's good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

As it turns out, I've got miracles, 4 of them.

Periodically you've all read me whine about my weight, my futile attempts at losing any (remember the 3 weeks of not a 1/2 calorie more than 1200 plus 4times a week hour long cardio workout that resulted in 0.5 lbs lost?), and you've probably said to yourself the same thing I've said to myself, "your just not trying hard enough! I see all those food picture you post, you're obviously a pig!"

Well, after a certain amount of trying everything you know you're supposed to do (eat right, exercise, don't overeat, etc.) and it still doesn't work, the logical thing is to go to the doctor and find out if you're actually doing things right or not.  So I did.

Turns out, I am doing things right, and I *should* be losing wieght, but my body really, really, REALLY wants to be lazy and not turn on its metabolism in the mornings when I get up.  Like that's so hard, to just flip the switch that says "ok body, time to burn calories!", but apparently its too hard for my body, because one of the chemicals that's supposed to turn that switch decided to stop working.  And, as luck would have it, I found a doctor who did her thesis on this particular chemical in the body.  After linking together my weight, my history of gestational diabetes, some "unwanted hair" (which after doing a little research on the internet...turns out I have alot more "unwanted hair" than I realized! LOL  I figured everybody shaved their toes and had the random hair growing out the side of their thigh, what can I say.) and the crazy "ladies days" for which I had surgery last year, she said "how many pregnancies have you had again?" I answered 4, she said "regardless of outcome?" I said "I have 4 children", she said "wow, I'm shocked you have any children at all, its very uncommon for somebody with your condition to have a successful pregnancy." she proceeded to tell me that I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and that I would need medication to correct my weight.  As it turns out, one of the symptoms of PCOS is insulin resistance, which creates a cyclical blood sugar/fat creation situation, which means, I am fat.  BUT, we get to deal with that, and should be able to correct that, but what just flabbergasts me is the fact that my 4 children are so improbable.  And it makes me feel a little weird now when we're having a rough day.  I guess I have not appreciated my children very well, I definitely took being able to have them 100% for granted. So, with new eyes, which are still a little blury from disbelief, I see them now as some sort of miracle in my life, for which I ought to be more grateful, four times over.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day

Apparently Veteran's Day is actually supposed to be Veterans Day, plural, not possessive.  But I like it as a possessive.  But here's a question JP asked the other night (as he looked at his calendar and realized that once again, just like all the other years, he'll be working all day on Veteran's day) "If the secretaries get Veterans Day off, why don't the Veterans get Secretary's day off?"

I must be living in the Twilight Zone

Ok, well, yeah, actually that "Twilight" too (Gilbert is Ms. Meyer's hometown, ya know) and the buzz of activity over New Moon around these parts is getting a little silly.  But what I meant was, I have seen the strangest things the past 24 hours.

I saw Stephanie Neilsen at Trader Joe's yesterday.  She looked sad, I was across the room from her and felt no discomfort over noticing her there, but then I had to walk past her to leave the store.  I don't think she wanted to be noticed, as she kept her head down.  I don't think I would have said anything to her, but I would have smiled like I would at anybody else I pass in public, but it was kind of weird for me wondering, "does she want to be left alone, talked too, is it worse for people to notice or not notice?" I have no idea.  I wonder how she feels about all the strangers who have aligned themselves with her in her life.  Does she like it? Or is it weird and she wishes they'd go live their own lives?  I wonder.

Then off to WalMart where I kid you not, I saw a man in his 70's wearing a dirty braided pony-tail all the way to the small of his back, levis, cuffed sort of greaser style, suspenders,  logging boots, and a TOP HAT!!!  The top hat was painted up Guns'n'roses style.  I really would like to know his story, where he came from, why he wears a top hat, etc.  It was really a site you'd have to see to fully appreciate.  His female companion was much younger and quite a treat herself, I might add.

My son told his teacher she has leeches and needs to see a doctor about that, my daughter proclaimed she is a "hog-pig".

The orangutans at the zoo actually pulled poo out of their butts (we're talking like a pasta extruder folks, not kidding) and placed it on the platform they were sitting on.  (it would have fallen to the ground 20 ft below where they never go if they'd just left it alone.)

The parking lot of the zoo vs the parking lot at the Desert Botanical Gardens are like two entirely different worlds, even though they are next to each other.  The one is mini-vans, thumping music, and kids darting in and out of parking lanes like its a playground.  The other is german-engineering, Wagner, and sun-screen.

There was other weird stuff today too, but I can't remember it all.  I must be living in the part of the Twilight Zone where you forget what you saw because it was too strange to remember.

I remembered the other thing that was funny! I saw the Chandler High Golf team riding a short bus to state finals...lol

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Monsters by Gabe

Scary monsters scar by supris at holuwen. Spooky monsters friton pepl rile eesy at nit. weird monsters can hav lots uv eiballs.

I love this story.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Best Halloween Picture Ever

was apparently lost in the "formatting" limbo when the camera decided to go on the fritz.  grrrrrr
It was of Lily in her mermaid costume (let it be known that she muttered under her breath with mild disgust when I was finished sewing it "Its a fat mermaid") sitting on a pumpkin, fanning her tail behind her in a classic mermaid pose.  It was SO cute! and its lost.

Here is the GTV2003, Sooper "G" edition Robot though! (and his pumpkin)




Sunday, November 1, 2009

Veteran's Day

I changed my background for the month of November just to be a little "in your face" about the fact that it is Veteran's day on the 11th of this month.  No matter what your feelings about the current war, there are certain liberties we as American's absolutely enjoy because people volunteered to put their lives on the line when no other clear option was available.  On Nov. 11th thank a vet.

If you want to thank a vet and engage in some shopping, Overstock.com is partnering with what just may be my favorite charity, the Wounded Warrior Project.  What could be better?  Excellent deals, and an opportunity to support an organization that provides necessary services to the men and women who have been injured in combat.

And if you wanted an excuse to eat birthday cake this month, go ahead and make a cake for your favorite United States Marine as he celebrates his corp's 234th birthday on November 12th.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Handicapped Parking

Is there a new rule that I wasn't made aware of that says "No Parking in a Handicapped Zone without placards UNLESS you are in an Elementary School parking lot...then park wherever you feel like"?  



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fun and Exciting

One thing in life that I feel like I am missing out on, (and I feel that way because I am impatient and have a hard time "waiting my turn") is travel.  The idea of visiting every place I can imagine takes hold of my imagination, and doesn't let go too easily.  I want to see it all!  And I want my children to see the places I loved visiting as a child. We live in the Grand Canyon state...we should probably take a trip to the Grand Canyon.  I love visiting the local sights, the ruins, the hills, the trails, I want to see Oman, Korea, Sydney, Vietnam.  Pretty much the only place that doesn't spike my interest too much is Italy.  I have no idea why I don't care about Italy...JP says I don't like Italian food...maybe that has something to do with it. (For the record, I do like Italian food, but not Olive Garden, that's as Italian as Taco Hell is Mexican.)

So I found a writing gig for Examiner.com (you may have noticed the button on my side bar, click it to see my articles).  I took the Mesa, AZ Sightseeing gig.  I really expected it to just be very localized, I thought I would just write about what's to do in Mesa, AZ.  I felt really happy to do that.  It seemed like the perfect excuse to find new things to do and take my family all around town so I could write about what to do in Mesa.  What I didn't expect going in, was all the contacts I would make with people in the travel industry, in the know in their own towns (the Santa Fe, New Mexico travel Examiner has some great articles, she almost makes me want to try New Mexico one more time before deciding forever and always that New Mexico is an evil state.)
In addition, because Examiner.com pretty much required me to voluntarily (like that?) sign up for twitter, I have found lots and lots of FREE things to do in Mesa in the next couple of weeks.  Who knew?

I had no idea when I replied to a Craig's List ad for a paid writing gig that the result would be an answer to my desire to find ways for my family to enjoy some of life and to get out of the grind a little.

The pay for Examiner seems to be somewhere about a penny a click.  That's not alot.  But even after just one week, I can see that the rewards from making contacts not just in my community, but around the entire US (when will it become the world?) are going to be invaluable.

I'm excited.

Also, Examiner is in 120 cities, not all of them "large"...so if you think you'd like to become an Examiner, please let me know so I can refer you.  There is a special way to do the referral, and I get $50.00 if they offer you the gig, so it would mean alot to me if you'd let me refer you.  I think most of you can put a sentence together, so, why not see if its something for you?  There are lots and lots and lots of topics to choose from, and if there is not currently an Examiner for a topic you are passionate about, you can suggest a topic!  So if budget meal planning is your thing, suggest it.  If special education is your thing, suggest it!  If traveling by donkey is your thing, you can see if you can find some readers for that too.

Anyways, I just wanted to fill you all in on this, because I'm loving it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tis the Season

Since we're all about the spooky things in life, I suppose I may have brought this on myself, but the nightmares this month...I'm done.

Every morning I am waking up exhausted from having been fired by bosses I had 10 years ago, arguing with family members, discovering I was about to become a grandparent before 40, being attacked by snakes, haunted by 40 gallon barrel's of potato pearls, etc.

The bags under my eyes are not pretty.  I have never been so tempted to take the kids to school still wearing my pajamas.  A donut sounds really good.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

To Be Fair...


I received this in my in-box today in regards to my post about JoAnn Fabric and Crafts.

I'm all about being fair and considering other perspectives.  Apparently I was mistaken and forgot that it is MY responsibility as the shopper to make sure I get friendly service.  My bad.





"Anonymous said...

Maybe if you shoppers were a little nicer workers wouldn't be the way they are, looks like you walk in looking for something to complain about"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Sincerest Apologies

Dear Mr. Cave Hair,

I owe you an apology.
When we did this-



You were probably never expecting to wake up to this-


Is there really anything to say other than "I'm sorry?"

There's a reason why we call ourselves Clan of th Cave Hair.

(to all of you taking the before and after dare last week, I win.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm in a hurry, lets do "Wordless Wednesday"...why not?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Creeeeeeepin me out....with some musik musik

JP and I have been having fun all month posting creepy picks of the day for seasonally appropriate music. (Some  might call it Halloween, but JP prefers Helloween...its that special time of year when we can let our inner goth out)

Of course we have enjoyed the usual picks, "This Is Halloween" both the original and a spooky Marilyn Manson version (does it get more?) and "Every Day is Halloween" by good ol' Ministry, but we've found some other fun, weird, offbeat, bizarre, and just plain stupid tunes too!

My fave so far is this one:



Don't you just love the creepy buzzy organ and the wailing Wailers? My kids can't get enough of this song either, in fact one night last week, they begged to hear it just one more time during dance party time before bed, they had already heard it 4 times in a row. I agreed to play it one more time and told them "OK, one more time, run around, be crazy, do whatever you want for 3 more minutes, then its bedtime." Ummmm, lets just say that next time I will omit the phrase "do whatever you want." Before I knew it, they were both wearing nothing but their underwear and jumping over the couch. I had no idea that do whatever you want meant strip to your drawers and jump over furniture! I thought maybe it meant chase each other, do jumping jacks, maybe even play freeze tag. Now I know!

Here is the STUPIDEST song I've found so far...seriously, I don't know which is lamer, the chipmunks, or the rapping. Either way, it gets my vote for being next only to the Milk Shake Song, and My Humps for Stupidest Song Ever in the Entire Universe. (even stupider than the One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater---which I LOVED as a child.)It made the creepy picks list because its about a witch doctor, and witch doctors are creepy.



Get your kids over here before you click though, because they will love it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I need your Help

We got invited to an adults only Halloween Party.  Last year we didn't go because we didn't want to go hang out with a bunch of drunks, this year we're going, not because we want to hang out with drunks, but because we've used our inability to stop being judgmental as an excuse not to socialize, and not socializing, well, we're already kind of socially stunted to start with.

Anyways, here's where I need your help.

The theme is "Dead Celebrities"

I do not want to go as Farrah, Anna-Nicole, or any other boobtastic blonde.  Other than that, if she's dead, and a celebrity, its fair game.

Who should I go as?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Major Meltdown Avoided

JP's work schedule has really been taking its toll on our family.  For the majority of our marriage he has not had a "normal" work schedule, I guess if I say "normal" then he has never in our marriage had a "normal" work schedule, but for a period of time he did have one that was totally live-able.  But the one he's been working for the past two years has been really hard.  He's gone all night 4 days a week, and then home 3 days a week, trying to join in on a normal daytime routine.  His mind, body, and spirit have suffered.  His wife, children, and home have suffered.  There have been two things that are good that have come from this job:  We are now able to pay our bills on time and in full and have a small surplus, and he has thus far been able to attend church on Sundays. (I don't know what he's going to do when we move to 8:30 church in January.  I'm a little nervous about that.)  Those are two really good things that we haven't always been able to do.

So a change of schedule has been a subject of discussion, even prayer.  Its not as simple as just putting in a request and somebody either approving it or denying it.  A shift change means new leadership, new team-mates, even a change in scope and focus of work. None of that is particularly desirable to JP, but a happy family is desirable, so he's been willing to consider the change, should an opportunity come his way.

Keeping in mind that I am nearly desperate for a change, imagine how I felt when as we walked out of a movie on Thursday night (Couples Retreat, if you like Vince Vaughan being Vince Vaughan and are in the mood for something inanely silly, go for it, we laughed out loud several times.) and JP answered a phone call from one of his work buddies who had a "dilemma".  The dilemma was he was being offered a job on the Swing Shift.  (still night-ish work, but home by 1:00am).  Frank is, so far as I can tell, JP's BFF at work.  Its Frick and Frack, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Two Musketeers, Zoro and Tonto ( I think they take turns being the horses-ass).  JP was disappointed that his friend would be leaving the squad.  I sat silently in the car trying my hardest not to cry as I was feeling totally and completely slapped in the face by God.  I honestly felt like he was saying "I heard you, and this opportunity has come up, but you are not deserving so I'm going to give it to one of your friends."  I felt like the little kid who had to look on as her siblings ate ice-cream as she stared at her bowl of cream of broccoli soup she didn't want to eat.  I felt angry.  But I did control myself and remembered that Frank just got married 2 weeks ago and is trying to blend families and really probably needs this opportunity more than we do.

And then...

JP came home this morning and said "guess what?"  Frank's not leaving, they gave the opening to that woman we can't stand.

So here, this poor guy who just got married, who's wife I can only imagine was excited beyond belief that they would get so lucky for a more normal schedule two weeks into their marriage, who had actually agonized over whether to even take the transfer, and ultimately decided to take it because it was what was good for his family, had to go in to work to be told "oh, we gave it to someone else"...and that someone else is generally considered to be a free-loader who collects a paycheck. (Probably she had a superior who was ready to get rid of her.)

And that is where the major meltdown was avoided.  If that opportunity had come to JP, and he had accepted it, and then came home to tell me that a lazy, can't be trusted, inefficient, and possibly even incompetent person had been selected instead, there would have been a nuclear bomb gone off in my head.  The shattering disappointment would have been felt for miles around me.

And so, for once, I don't have to look back years, but only days to see that sometimes, our greatest blessings are the one's that feel like unanswered prayers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Who Will Pray For Mommy?

Although we do not always succeed, we really try to be "Glass Half Full" kind of people.  We are keenly aware that while our lot may not be exactly what we hoped for, we can look in any direction around us and find scores of people having a rougher time.  This tends to effect the way we pray.


Every night, before JP leaves for work, we gather as a family in prayer.  We give the usual thanks, and try really hard to find something different to be thankful for, and then we start asking for blessings.  But we've been very poor about asking for blessings of anything other than health and safety for ourselves.  We pray for our friends and family members having health issues, who are experiencing unemployment or underemployment, who are going through devastating divorces.  We pray for our leaders to have wisdom and the will to act upon what is right.  We pray with a heart of mixed sorrow and gratitude for those fighting in wars.  We pray for rain.  We pray that Daddy will be safe at work and that he will have the energy to do the things required of him during the night.  We pray that the children will rest and awaken healthy in the morning.  Mommy is usually left out of the request for blessings.  I wonder why that is?  Do we all think Mommy is doing ok and she doesn't need any blessings?   I sort of think that so long as mommy is still doing the dishes, the laundry, and making the meals, that we all think that mommy is just fine.  Its not true.  Mommy needs at least as much prayer as anybody else in the family does.  Mommy is not the pillar of strength that she would have to be to go through life without her family's prayers.


But the problem goes even a little deeper. 


As a family,  we haven't been praying for our needs to be met.  And its showing. Sure, we have a home to live in, food to eat, clothing to wear, and a car to drive.  JP has good employment, excellent insurance, and is currently happy with leadership at work.  But what about our emotional health?  What about our Spiritual Health?  Why aren't we praying for more kindness, more patience, more gentleness?  Why aren't we praying for things more specific than Health and Safety?  (which, we have been blessed with, so if the proof is there that you will be blessed with what you ask for, then we have indeed been blessed with health and safety.)


 There is a possibility sitting on the horizon that would make a tremendous impact on my ability to cope with Sunday responsibilities.  It won't change the fact that night work is what JP does, but it will change Sundays...dramatically.  Its out there, its being discussed and I've sort of crossed my fingers and thought to myself, well, that would be nice, but so far the thing I've been best at accepting is disappointment, so I'm not going to get my hopes up.  And then twice in the last 24 hours I've been reminded by someone else or an invasive thought that my Father in Heaven WANTS to bless me, but that I must ASK for the blessing.  So I've been on my knees asking, even begging for this one seemingly inconsequential change that would take away 12 tons of stress for mommy.  Maybe nobody else cares if this change occurs, but Mommy cares, and mommy needs it, so who will pray for mommy to receive just this one little blessing? I think its time for a talk with the family.  Mommy needs blessings too, and I'm asking for this one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Depends...



Did you fall out of your chair? My heart beat for 20 minutes after my first encounter with this video.
Have I ever mentioned my irrational fear of snakes?  I was being very brave to even watch this, and then I was totally taken advantage of.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Open Letter to JoAnn Fabric and Craft

Dear JoAnn Fabric and Craft,

Over the years I have had the opportunity to visit a number of your stores in several different states.  I have yet to receive friendly, polite, or courteous service at any of your stores.  I have noticed that your stores consistently have "help-wanted" signs up.  That's interesting during these trying economic times when there are more workers than jobs available.  How is it that you cannot keep your stores fully staffed?

I have a sneaking suspicion that the fact that I cannot get friendly service in your stores, and you cannot keep employees working in your stores is related.  Either you are hiring anybody that says they're willing to show up for a paycheck, or you hire previously happy people and turn them into ogres overnight.  I suspect it may be related to nasty management because I can think of no other reason why people who are working in a store related to the things they love most (sewing and crafting) are so dang disagreeable all the time!

I am disgusted.  I really do not like giving your store any of my business, but since you've driven out every other fabric store in every town I've lived in, I have no choice.  If I want fabric, I have to go to your store and give you money in exchange for rude signs, rude people, and overpriced merchandise.

I am not joking when I say that I got friendlier service as a white Christian woman in an Arab market at noon during Ramadan, than I get in your stores.

I don't know what your policies are, or why your people are left to feel so undervalued that they cannot muster a smile or a thank you, or a polite phrase for the many hand-printed signs around your stores.  But I sure hope that you either fix it, or go out of business, because no business should thrive while treating people the way your employees treat people.

Sincerely,

Mrs. CaveHair

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2nd Annual Skeptics Day Parade

Today is Skeptics Day! Its true, its on the calendar.
Last year I listed a bunch of junk I didn't believe, and then you left the things you were skeptical about in the comment's section.  We called it a Skeptic's Day Parade.

Lets do it again, shall we?

So, in honor of skeptics day, here is a list of things I'm not quite sold on:

Bean-o.  I'm skeptical, what can I say?  Do I really have to expound on this?  I just can't see how it could work.  I know they try to explain the whole enzyme thing in their commercials, but I'm still not sold.

The Nobel Peace Prize.  I mean, so long as we're handing out prizes based on effort alone, then I'm expecting Betty Crocker to come knocking on my door any day now with the Bake-Off grand prize. I deserve it for all the effort I've put into getting oil and water to mix.

The Swine Flu. I don't get what we are supposed to be scared of.  And from what I hear, neither does anybody else.  In fact, people seem so convinced that they're supposed to be scared of something, that the mass majority of people I hear from have decided it makes more sense to be scared of the vaccination than the actual flu.  Why do people think they are supposed to be scared of the N1H1 "Swine Flu" virus?  I don't know, but my guess is it has something to do with  Mexico and Pigs.

The Housing Market Recovery.  Honestly, I think this is hype from starving real estate agents who want to use fear of missing out on a deal as a motivating factor for potential buyers.  The fact is there is a glut of empty homes not yet on the market which will begin going into foreclosure in massive numbers in the coming months, and people are not done walking away yet.    Once these homes have been foreclosed on, they will enter the market in similarly massive numbers.  I'm no economics expert, but I know when supply is greater than demand, prices drop. And until employment numbers improve, there's not going to be a surge in demand. (And guess what, Arizona has dropped from the 3rd best place to find work to the 84th worst place...do the math.)

And lastly "Simple" or "Simplistic"...I have become seriously skeptical of anything attached to these words.  These words used to actually mean not pretentious, sophisticated or grand, common, ordinary, lowly or plain.
I have yet to see anybody use the word "Simple" or "Simplistic" and then show me a picture of a cotton cloth. My favorite mis-use of the word "simplistic" involves hair-do's with 10 steps and three kinds of ribbon which have been baked in the oven on sticks and threaded through the hair with darning needles.  I am skeptical that this is more simple than a pony-tail.  But maybe I'm wrong, after all, skepticism is just a general disbelief, not a hard core fact of inaccuracy.

So there's my list of things I'm skeptical about.  What about you?  I'm giving you permission to leave a link to your blog in my comment's section today, so go for it, tell us what you're skeptical about, and find some new readers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

City Mouse/Country Mouse-An Evening of Contrasts

Dating is not something that JP and I are exactly expert at.  There are a lot of things we could blame it on.  Money, small towns, lack of suitable babysitters, you name it.  We have used every excuse in the book for being lousy daters.  But what it really boils down too is a lack of creativity.  Granted, living in a couple of small towns with few options that weren't bars,(and I don't mean TGIMcFunster type bars, I mean dives) kind of exacerbated our lack of creativity.  I mean, when there are bars, bars, bars, a burger joint and a movie theater in town, your options are a little limited if you're not the drinking type.  But still...its a matter of creativity, right?  Right.

But every once in a while, we get it right.  And it seems to be always when we really REALLY need to get it right. Its those times that someone's (singular or plural) mental health depends on it.  This past Friday was one of those rare events when we got it just right and we were able to return home refreshed and ready to be parents again.

We kind of lucked out, because the day started off with JP having to do some chores for work that he didn't really want to do, but while he was out, there was a TV playing, and he was there during the morning news and he happened to catch the "Savvy Shopper" who was doing a segment on cheap/free things to do around Phoenix this weekend.  ( we canceled our cable, so we would not have caught her segment had he not gone in to take care of the work stuff.)  As it turned out, there was a free art show in town, and just days before I had asked JP how was it possible that he enjoyed the kinds of music he enjoys without being much into visual art?  He took that to mean I would enjoy going to an art exhibit, so he set the whole date up.

 We had a perfectly ridiculous evening!

 We decided to call it our "City Mouse/Country Mouse" date because we could not have contrasted our activities more greatly if we had actually tried to have an exercise in opposites.  We ate BBQ at a chain restaurant  and then went to an Art Exhibit Open House at a University.  JP wore a plaid shirt, I wore black and too much eye makeup (we had a little miscommunication about what we were wearing and I really did not want to wash my face and start all over again, nor did I want to ask him to change since A: it didn't matter, and B: I was feeling pretty lucky that he was trying this hard to do something new and different for a date.) We sat at a table where a waitress wrote on a plate with BBQ sauce, had pig-puns printed on her back, and used papertowels to wipe our faces at the table.  We listened to "experimental" music. There was laughing, knee-slapping, and darn near pants-peeing over things that were supposed to be humorous, and things that weren't actually supposed to be funny at all, but were just trying so hard to be serious that it felt like a joke.  There was regret that we hadn't spent any "young" years together, and gratitude that we didn't meet until we were grown up enough to appreciate each other.  There was Gelato, Facebooking, hand-holding, and squealing around corners while we pretended we were 17 again. And then there was returning home, trying to pay an ornery sitter...I mean sister...who wouldn't be paid, and falling asleep on the couch like an old married couple.

Oh, and by the way, we drove our American gas guzzling SUV to the Sustainable Earth Art Show...are you surprised that we got out of there without a lynching?

Best line of the night:

(about the actual cockroach in the road) "Oh my gosh this roach is HUGE!"
                                                              "I told you I smelled Marijuana"

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Here's your sign

If the numbers on the scale weren't sign enough.
If the fact that your cute clothes don't go past your hips anymore, isn't enough.
If the fact that you are seriously considering puking as an acceptable weight-loss tool isn't enough.
If the tears of frustration and anger aren't enough...

Then maybe being asked when they baby is due will do the trick.

**note to self:  Do not wear Empire Waist again until 40 lbs have been dropped.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Strange things

Here are some of the strange things that have "lived" in my house from time to time.  Co-incidentally, these inhabitants have made themselves known in the times that I have had 3 and 4 year olds living in my home.

Twin Puppies named "Daisy"
Elephants with toilet paper ears
mice
Cats, lots and lots of Cats
ghosts
robots
cowboys
wierdos
bluebirds
roadrunners
octopus
GI Joe
Clones
ballereemas
dancerinas
scary-skeleton-rockout-boys
breakdancers
papa-Jack
mermaids
ponies, lots and lots of ponies
the occasional snake
Thor, the god of thunder
Medusa
airplanes
butterflies
bumblebees
queens
princesses
knights
cows
goats under bridges
ducks
geese
rock-n-roller chicks
Hawaiian girls
Surfers-some of the world's best!
cocoons
bouncing balls
muscle men
ninja
black knights
Batman
Spider Man
the Hulk
and last but not least Goo

What does the list of your home's strange inhabitants look like?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swimming Against the Current

Lately I've been feeling exhausted.  Mentally, emotionally, physically, just completely exhausted.  I couldn't quite put into words the source of my exhaustion, I only knew that I was tired, and it had something to do with a vague feeling that I was constantly at battle with outside sources.

Then President Monson gave me that "Aha" moment when he said in his closing remarks Sunday something about feeling like we are swimming against the current, and that it is tiring. I breathed a sigh of relief and for the first time when somebody from a pulpit said the words "I Love You" I actually believed I, ME, LISA was being told that somebody understood how I was feeling and that I really was loved.  Just the day before I cried out to my Father in Heaven, more like screamed out at him that if He indeed sees my family's challenges, and indeed loves me, then why would he not do something about it? ( I know, I know, I know.) President Monson's words were like an answer to prayer for me that I am not alone in experiencing the exhaustion of hard work and unrewarded dedication.

But the point of my post this morning is that today, for the first time in weeks, maybe months, I feel relaxed, happy, and energized.  This week I have taken some "personal days" and not ignored responsibility, but done a better job of prioritizing and delegating.  I've given myself some breathing room, I've used the word "no".  I've tried to simplify my expectations of myself.  I've acted promptly when needed, and have accomplished a fair portion, but I've allowed some non-essentials to give way for a few days.  I feel better.  There are some things I would change in a heart-beat if I could, but I can't.  So what do I do?  I find a way to be happy anyways.  I've done it before, I can do it again. Giving myself permission to rest a moment before the next jog upstream is probably the best thing I can do, because I have a sneaking suspicion the current's about to get stronger.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dearest Damsel In Distress/Elena wants a Portable Oven

Ok, so you're smart enough to age yourself by an extra year for the new 2009 round of this scammy "Damsel in Distress" e-mail (as seen by the snopes.com posting from "Don Enrico" who had this exact same letter last year in which you were only 31 years old.) But what you're not smart enough to realize is that your letter smacks of scammery. Yes scammery. I know that's not "yet" a word, but I'm making it a word and I'm submitting it for "word of the year" to Websters Dictionary. If "Truthiness" can win, so can "scammery" its a verb, and it means "the action of scamming".

Let me break it down for you as to how I knew your sob-story was a scam.

1. Your broken English. Yes, you explained that you live in Russian Province, so I should probably just chalk your poor English up to your Eastern European background, but I only accept poor English e-mail from one source, my dear friend who's first language is Spanish. Everybody else, if you want me to think you're not trying to take my money, learn better English. (how's that for xenophobic?)

2. You "founded" my address on the internet. Well, you found it somewhere, but I didn't post it on a bulletin board as an invitation to all to send me scammy letters asking for wood burning stoves.

3. You're telling me the exact price of a wood burning stove, but you're asking me to send you a stove in case I happen to have one over here in America that I'm no longer using. Its alot like the guys standing on the corner with signs saying "will work for money" but they're sitting on a bucket across from a "Help Wanted" sign. You're hoping that I'll just send money, that way, if you decide you'd rather have a fur coat than an iron stove, you can totally do that!

4. How very kind of you to go ahead and figure out the exchange rate and all so you could tell me the exact dollar amount that this stove will cost in US dollars. It just strikes me as strange.

So here's what I think will happen if I respond to your letter. It will go something like this:
For one, you're probably really hoping I'm a man, because your little scam will work out alot better with a dude. So, if I'm a guy and I write you back that I don't have a stove, but I'd really like to help you and your children out, so where can I send a small amount of money? You're going to write back about how grateful you are for my kindness and lay all kinds of accolades on me. You're going to really build me up, make me feel special. We'll exchange e-mails for a while, and you'll eventually invite me to set up a chat with you, you like me that much. So we'll chat about all manner of things, how much my job sucks, how much I don't deserve to be treated so poorly by my boss/wife/mother/room-mate, we'll talk about your children, how they're just getting over pneumonia, how much the wood burning stove has helped them this winter, etc, etc. Eventually we'll exchange pictures. I'll send you my real picture, you'll tell me how handsome I am, even in all my self-loathing, I'll want to believe that you, the most beautiful girl from Russia I've ever seen actually thinks I'm handsome. The picture you have sent me will be somebody else entirely, in fact, you're probably a guy, but the picture you will send me will be totally hot! I will fall in love with you because you will make me feel special and you are the only person in the world that is grateful I exist. You will have more sickness, more job losses, maybe even an eviction, I will send you my rent money so you can pay yours. Eventually, something will happen to make me realize I've been used and I will kill myself because I feel so stupid about thinking a beautiful Russian woman actually cared about me when really it was some big fat convict taking my money.

So, I guess I won't respond to your letter this time. I am not a guy, I don't have a coal stove, and I don't really want to send $285 US dollars for you to get one.

Here is the e-mail I received:

Hi,

My name is Elena, I have 32 years and I live in Russian province. I work in library and I can use computer after my work when possible. I finded your address in internet and I decided to write you this letter.

I have a 8-years old daughter Angelina, her father abandoned us and we live with my mother.

Due to the financial crisis recently my mother lost job and our situation became very difficult.

The prices for gas and electricity is very high in our region and we cannot use it to heat our home anymore.

The winter is coming and weather becoming colder each day. We are very afraid and we don't know what to do.

The only accessible way for us to heat our home is to use a portable oven which work with burning wood. We have enough wood in our region and this oven will heat our home all winter for minimal charges.

Unfortunately, we cannot buy this oven in our city because it costs equivalent of 285 US dollars and very expensive for us.

If you have any old portable oven and in case you don't use it anymore, we will be very grateful to you if you can donate it to us and organize transport of this oven to our address (200km from Moscow). This ovens are different, usually they made from cast iron.

I will be waiting for your answer.

With deep respect from Russia,
Elena and my family.

Monday, October 5, 2009

For My Shared Clan Eggshop and my friends in Thessaloniki

Why yes! I have a post for you.  While I'm sure this is not remotely what you were looking for when you googled the above phrase and landed on my blog, I do have a story to tell.  I'm sure you'll find it intriguing, provided you enjoy a good skin-crawling-ooh that's disgusting-truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story involving arachnids and insects.


The previous post is about Montezuma's Castle, the picture I posted of the "Castle" represents everything the average tourist will see when visiting.  You cannot climb up into it, you cannot get any closer, there are no trails, and no additional dwellings to be seen.  What you see is what you get.  There is a small "museum" I would rather call it a Visitor's Center which tells a very short history about the structure and the National Parks system.  That's it.  Nothing else.

The trip is not a disappointment, provided you understand you will not be climbing up into the dwelling.  Its worth seeing, make it a side trip on your way to doing something else.  The country is beautiful, its worth the drive.


That said...we had a little bonus siting the day we visited.  See the picture above?  This is a "Tarantula Hawk" (thank you google images for this picture.)  I think its rather beautiful myself.  What this insect does however, can be called nothing other than horrifying. Its the stuff horror movies are made of!  Think hairy spiders, paralyzing venom, kidnapping, egg-laying, being eaten alive by hatchlings.  These are the kinds of things put in movies to terrify people.  These are the kinds of things that are in movies I don't watch.  We had the privilege of seeing one of these do its thing in the parking lot at Montezuma's Castle.  The tarantula hawk had found its prey, one of these adorable creatures---------->

 What the park ranger told us next was fascinating.  We truly had a learning experience, and according to her, a rare one.

The tarantula hawk had found its prey, a nice hairy, rather large tarantula (did you know tarantulas don't really like to bite you, and if you do, its a lot like a bee-sting and shouldn't really be any big deal?  Tarantula's are nothing to be scared of).  He injected the tarantula with a venom which would paralyze the spider completely. Once the people cleared away and gave the poor hawk a moment to get its work done, his plan was to drag that spider to his den of iniquity where he would fertilize the eggs of his mate, and she, wanting healthy, well-fed baby-hawks, would lay her eggs inside the LIVE tarantula.  The tarantula would be kept alive as the embryos developed and eventually became baby tarantula hawks.  The babies would eat the live spider from the inside out, making their arrival into the world complete.

How's THAT for a Scary Halloween story?  If only I could make this stuff up, but no.  Its TRUE. And it was really cool to get to see this underside of nature in action.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Montezuma's Castle- (no revenge)


As it turns out, Montezuma had nothing to do with it, and it wasn't a castle, more like a high-rise apartment building for communal living.  Can you believe this beautiful cliff dwelling? I imagine a small band of people wandering into the beautiful valley, finding water and plenty of vegetation, and figuring it would make a good place to settle then looking around and thinking to themselves, "well, where should we sleep tonight?"  Somebody, probably one of the men, said "hey, there's a cave up there, lets climb up there and check it out."  He decided his family should sleep there and after 4 or 5 nights his wife said "this cave isn't bad, but it sure would be nice if I had a little wall right here to keep the animals out of our food."  And so the husband said "lets build a little wall then."  And so she had a nice little pantry she could store her corn and amaranth in and she liked it and thought to herself as she peered down at her pregnant belly "This cave isn't bad, but it would sure be nice to have a little wall right here so the baby won't roll off the cliff." So she told her husband "I'd sure like another wall, so the baby won't roll off the cliff."  And so they built the wall, and she left her handprints in the mud because she was too tired to smooth it out nicely, and she looked around herself and thought "Ahhh, this is nice." And then she realized, "My in-laws are coming! Where am I going to put them?"  And she went to her husband and said "Honeeeeeeeeeey...you know how your folks are coming for a visit when the baby arrives?" and he, seeing a major honey-do coming on, hesitantly replied "yeeeeeees?" And she said "well, I was thinking, they would probably really appreciate some privacy while they are here.  I know they said they don't mind sleeping on the cave-floor, and they'd be happy to fend for themselves and get their own meals while they're here, but I just feel like such a terrible hostess putting your mother on the hard limestone floor without even a wall for privacy.  I haven't even had a chance to polish it or make any petroglyph's on the walls." And he said "and so you want?" to which she replied, "Do you think we could add one more room and another storage room?  We could really use the space as the baby grows anyways, so its not like it won't be useful." And he obliged. (Even though he was tired from taking down that 8 point buck earlier that morning and fighting off the mountain lion late the night before.)  She helped him mix the mud and put it up on the walls he constructed for her, and she left a few more handprints (hoping her mother in law wouldn't notice.)

After the baby was born, the grandparents came and visited and word got out that these two sure had a nice set-up, plenty of storage and room to grow plus a huge green valley and plenty of water.  So guess what?  The wife's brother lost his job as lead-hunter in his band of people when there was that whole coyote-shape-shifting miscommunication thing and he accidentally shot a mischievous local teenager with his bow and arrow. Since food and water was running scarce in his village and he was having trouble finding another hunting gig, he decided to pay a visit to his sister in her big-fancy cave where he heard she had a nice guest room that wasn't being used, and plenty of storage space. So he and his family of 17 came wandering into the camp destitute and looking for shelter.  How could she turn him away?  So she returned to her husband and said "honey?" and a lively conversation followed where they argued over whether or not there was really a "misunderstanding" about that "coyote" and if they let them stay in their guest house, were they really helping them, or just giving them a handout and would they help hunt?  And if they did help hunt, could the brother really be trusted with a bow and arrow again? They finally decided the brother's family could stay, but only until his luck changed, and... he and his wife had to help out around the place.  Three years later they realized the brother was still there, and now his family had grown and they needed more space and more storage, and so up went some more walls.  Eventually, the brother got tired of his sister's husband acting like he was doing them all a favor by letting them stay there and so the family built their own castle next door.  The brother made it bigger, with even more storage, and his wife filled the rooms with so much junk he had to put down new floor boards every so often, but they built their castle in the middle of the real-estate boom and the contractor's hurried the project along and did it as fast as they could with the cheapest materials they could find so the house fell down a couple hundred years later.  The sister's house still stands, its beautiful and unique.  Mostly unadorned except for the hand-prints her husband came to love, the home is simple in its beauty with hand-carved wooden ladders, lovely windows, and 3rd level terrace dining.  The beautiful two toned "paint" job inspires neighbors for hundreds of miles around.
Of course...I could be all wrong. ;)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Warm Milk

Did you know that WarmMilk is both the cure and the cause of Insomnia?  No?  Well in my house it is!  I mistakenly suggested a cup of warm milk one night when Gabe was having difficulty getting to sleep.  My generosity has been taken advantage of however, and has now created a reason to have insomnia.  This child waits for his younger sister to fall asleep, sneaks downstairs, tells me he "can't sleep" and then asks for a cup of warm milk.

I'm not sure if its the warm milk, or conversation with mom's that he enjoys, but either way, I've created a monster.  Good thing its a monster I'm fairly fond of ;)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ode to Pandora Radio-The Music Genome Project

Pandora, Pandora
You've got my favorite Band-oras
I think its so cool that you let me pick
stations I like, that don't make me sick

Some of the stations you let me play
feature great music by "Les (Pool of) Clay"
If I'm feeling funky, I can have Morris Day
If I'm feeling mellow, how 'bout some Sade?

Your "Genome Project" of the music type
Lives up fully to the "music you like" hype
I like the stations, my favorite picks
If I feel like it I can even have Styxx!

But there's just one thing I'd like to know
How do you make this radio show?
You seem to know what I prefer
Even if it is a Li'l Butthole Surfer!

ok, seriously, here is (mostly JP's) and my Pandora radio list of stations...I apologize if I'm totally blowing your image of our cultured clan ;)

Talking Heads Radio
Reverend Horton Heat Radio
Mr. Bungle Radio
Les Claypool Radio
Tool Radio
The Clash Radio
Buena Vista Social Club Radio
Smashing Pumpkins Radio
Radiohead Radio
Incubus Radio
Fleetwood Mac Radio
Blondie Radio
and Butthole Surfer Radio (not a joke...its really there, I don't know why, except it makes me wanna sing "Shark Attack! Shark Attack! Get out of the Water and Don't Look Back!" But I don't think that song's  even by them so go figure.)

There's quite a few favorites we could add...some I'm surprised are missing.  What about Led Zeppelin?  Peter Murphy? the CARS! seriously, how are the Cars not on that list yet?  That's it, I'm going to go add them right now.

If you haven't visited Pandora radio yet, get over there and pay a visit, you will LOVE it.  You can even make a station to send somebody as a gift, a totally modern "Mix Tape" for your crush.  How fun is that?

And, nope, not getting paid for this, just seriously love this site, go have fun. Now!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slow Cooker for Sunday

We have the distinct privilege of attending church at 2:00pm on Sundays.  Seeming as it takes three hours to move from meeting to meeting we get home right at our preferred dinner time.  I've been making it a point to have a crock-pot meal ready and waiting for us so we can walk in, eat dinner, and then rest or relax for the remainder of the evening before JP must leave for work.

Can I just say, I'm tired of slow-cooker fare?  I really am.  We've done beenie weenie, we've done swiss steak, we've done garlic chicken, we've done pizza pasta.  You know what we haven't done? (Until this past Sunday) Curry!!!  What a beautiful change of pace.  And you know what?  This turned out so good that I'm going to have to be careful not to master any other Thai style dishes or my husband will never take me to my favorite Valley restaurant again. (Thai House.)

Here's the funny thing, this recipe was called "Brazilian Chicken with Coconut Milk" but the sauce tasted EXACTLY like our favorite Pineapple Curry from Thai House, minus the pineapple.  I'll tell you what, I'm making this with pineapple next time.

Here is my take on the original recipe ( I made a few changes based on what I had in the house, it was Sunday- I think we were doing good to have most of the ingredients for something this exotic tasting on hand!)

Lets just call it "Coconut Milk Chicken" because the jury is still out on whether it was Brazilian or not, and I don't feel like I should just decide it was in fact Thai when I'm not at all sure about how a traditional Thai coconut curry would be developed.

1t ground cumin
1t ground paprika
1/2 t chili powder
1t kosher salt (or to taste, mine was a very generous teaspoon.)
freshly ground pepper (probably 1/2 t.)
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, chopped in 1 in cubes
2T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 T minced fresh ginger ( I only had crystalized on hand, I was concerned about the sugar on it messing up the flavor, but the dish turned out great, so use what you've got.)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.oz can stewed tomatoes
1 14.oz can coconut milk

Mix spices, salt and pepper in a large Zip-Loc bag, add cubed chicken, close bag, toss around to coat.  Heat 1 T oil in skillet, add chicken, cook thoroughly.  Remove from heat, place cooked chicken in your slow-cooker.  Heat remaining 1 T olive oil in the skillet, cook and stir the onion, ginger, jalapeno peppers, and garlic 5 minutes, or until tender.  Add can of tomatoes, being sure to let the juice deglaze your pan and pick up all the yummy little bits that have accumulated on the bottom of your pan. Stir in Coconut milk.  Pour over chicken in the slow-cooker, place slow cooker on warm, serve when you're ready.  Ours sat in the slow cooker for about 5 hours, the flavors had fully developed and it was a wonderful savory dish.  (as opposed to the slightly bland tasting dish it started off as fresh from the skillet, this is one dish that was definitely improved by the sitting around in a slow cooker for hours.)

The original recipe suggests serving this over rice, garnished with fresh parsely, one reviewer (of the original recipe) suggested basil instead, which I think would be awesome. May I suggest Jasmine Rice?  I don't think you could go wrong!

Have fun and please share your slow-cooker successes...I'm tired if it all being the same.

Monday, September 28, 2009

BEST SONG EVER!

This beats Alex the Seal, Dirty Deek and the Thundercheifs, and whatever that song about the douche getting blinded by the light was...Lily just walked in singing....

My My My Boogerface, My My Boogerface.

Parkour Park Whore

Does this look like something you would wear someplace like this?
We didn't think so either, and yet...4 inch platforms and all, there were two of them, one Alice type, one...not really sure, except she had the biggest dunlop (as in her belly done lopped over her skirt) I've ever seen on a (Prositute? Adult movie wannabe actress?  Halloween Catalog model?) They were coming down the hill with their "photographer" friend when we were just arriving at the trail head Friday night. We thought perhaps they confused the art of Parkour (the art of getting from point A to point B in as creative a fashion as possible) for Park Whore...then again....maybe we shouldn't go there.

 As it turns out, after last weeks run-in with the drunkies who were arguing over whether or not noticing a beautiful child made them a child molester, and these 3 pillars of society, it is not the rattle snakes that are the reason I've felt to not venture out to the trails without JP...its the WEIRDOS!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Organize, Teach, Inspire

O, T, I...every once in a while, something really speaks to me, tonight it was the playback for the General Relief Society Conference.  I missed the original broadcast while we were attending a wedding.  Admittedly, in the past I would have shined the entire thing on unless somebody had asked me to teach a lesson or something on one of the talks, and then, I would only have listened to that specific talk. But when I arrived home, after I put the kids to bed, I  felt compelled to log onto the computer and listen to the playback.  I'm glad I did.

The message concerning the role of the Relief Society Presidency to Organize, Teach, and Inspire the sisters of the ward to come unto Christ more fully by participating in prayerfully considered activities provided clarity.  I didn't realize I was in a fog about my role in Relief Society, but if I was, the fog has certainly been rolled away and the path made clear.

I love it when leadership seeks to simplify the lives of members.  The new "rules" about how to run a ward Relief Society seem to do just that.  I just hope and pray that on the local level sisters will resist the urge to complicate the things that should bless and enrich the lives of the women we call Sister.

As women we are so task oriented, that we sometimes lose sight of the big picture.  We get caught up in minutia.  Alot of times, the minutia doesn't matter.  Hopefully, this new, simpler way to run a Relief Society based on the three words "Organize, Teach, Inspire" will help us to do a better job of focusing our efforts on the things that really matter, which, afterall, is the salvation of souls, and nothing more.  When it comes right down to it, Santa Keys, Chalkboard Plates, and Decoupage are fun, and gathering together to make these fun things provides opportunity for friendships to develop, talents to be nurtured, and safe and sane breaks from daily routine to be enjoyed, but ultimately we can remove the pressure from our leaders to provide us with the "Best Ever" Super Saturday activity if we seek to be taught and inspired first, and entertained last.

While the specific message to Organize, Teach, and Inspire might be directed mostly to leadership, every sister can embrace these three words and make them part of her experience as a Relief Society Sister.  Perhaps this phrase can be used not only as a developmental tool to guide leaders in planning successful activities, but also as a measure of success by the sisters enjoying the activity. I say, if the event will be organized, teach me something, and inspire me to act, then it will be a successful event.

Here's to Relief Society with a new attitude...or is it an old attitude we forgot?  Whichever it is, I'm all for it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I may have a dancing animal in my future

I have just been informed by Lily that she does not want to keep growing.  The reason: She doesn't want to be six.  I have no idea why six is such a repulsive age, but her brother is currently six so she must be observing some things about his life that she does not care to submit herself too.  I would think that it may have something to do with being expected to clean his bedroom on his own without assistance, but the fact is, at three, Lily does a much better job of cleaning her room on her own, so that can't be it.  She thinks school looks fantastic, so I don't think school is the reason.  I'm thinking it might possibly have something to do with being expected to sit through Sacrament without a snack or a toy that's got her bothered.  She really likes her Little People and Animal Crackers....that's got to be the reason.  It may also have something to do with the fact that we've told her we are no longer responding to any puppies or catties in our house, and that we will only speak to Lily directly.  We did tell her that she was growing up and needed to use human words.  That has to be it! Grrrreeeeaaaaaaat. I totally ruined my child's formative years by requesting she drop the cat act. Oh well, I can live with that. Maybe there's a part in Cat's the Musical she'll use to rebel against me when she's grown.  Wouldn't I be proud? Oh, yes, I'm sure I would be. But it would be kind of funny, don't you think if she grew up to be an actress specializing in being a dancing animal, all because at three I decided I was tired of only speaking to animals?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm glad you found Jesus, now find the Gas Pedal! (and other remarks)

"Is that a costume?"
"I think that baby is Dwight Schrute's Love Child"

"Congratulations, you beat a monkey"
"Listen to me very carefully...I am not a kid...I am a girl."
"Should I try to fall asleep with my eyes open or shut?"
"Your talent is you can break anything without trying."
"Wanna know how much I made with this horse?  62 thousand dollars, and I bought a castle, it cost $600."
"I won 800 levels of this game, but Lily is the best opponent because she beats me every time."
"I deeeeeeeeNOUNCE my iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiindian heritage"
"I absolutely love you"
"I think I would say 'I'll just stand back here and watch my wife take care of you' because I'd be laughing too hard to aim"
"I set my alarm for 78.8 so I could get up early to clean my room"
"I have a sneaking suspicion this deed will not go unpunished"
"They call that blackmail in some arenas"
"I was really good at Patt-a-Cake when I was younger"
"Either get a picture of that, or grab a quarter to drop when I pull up behind her."
"As it turns out, its a little embarrassing to order 5 double cheeseburgers, a large fry, a large onion ring, and only one Diet Coke while in the car alone."
"Don't take this wrong, but...you've never missed a meal."
"I think my success lies in helping other people be successful, less pressure that way."
"I'll think about three little birds while you hunt down 'these two dudes'"
"Is it LEGAL to have an organized Smoke-out?" (and no, we're not talking an anti-cigarette campaign here folks.)
"Villain is an excellent vocabulary word, much better than just 'bad guy'"
"Country- C O N C H R E"
"Mom, was does Lady Spread Stink mean?"
"Pigs Iiiiiiiiiiiiin Spaaaaaaaaaace"
"Wakka Wakka"


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Take a Hike!

After a week of children behaving like scrambled eggs, Friday was the day to tell them to take a hike.  Get out, run, Go!  Don't worry, we went with them.  


First Water trail proved to be a very three and five year old friendly path with lots of lizards, beetles, and birds, and even a couple jackrabbits (thankfully no snakes...*shudder*).  I don't think we even made 2/3rds of the hike before we needed to turn around so as to get back to the car before dusk, but it was so nice to get out and move our bodies and enjoy new sites and sounds. Or rather NOT experience sound.  The quiet was quite literally deafening.  I'm not joking, the silence was so profound that I experienced a momentary sensation of deafness only to realize that what I was not hearing was the quiet of the countryside.  It was beautiful.  I don't know if I should say that we were in a canyon, or a valley, I think valley would be the better description, of brush, scrub-oak, palo-verde trees, barrel cactus, cholla, and saguaro.  The mountains surrounding us provided beautiful red rock-scapes that just tickled me pink.  
A turkey vulture did us the honor of making the scene complete by circling overhead as he hunted his dinner.  

I'm not sure what makes me feel so at home here in Arizona.  But its as if there is something deep inside me that hears the singing of the desert habitat.  Its so surprising, being that for a large part of my life I could not begin to imagine what living life outside San Diego would be like, and a desert environment seemed like a life-sentence.  I now catch myself thinking "who wouldn't want to live here?"  And I often think of the China Crisis song lyrics "The Arizona Sky, the sky is bigger (here) It took my breath away, that doesn't happen everyday."  Its true, the sky is bigger here, and absolutely breathtaking, especially when the thunderheads come rolling in over my favorite mountain range.  

Someday I hope to be able to claim the title "world traveler" but for now, I have a running list of places in Arizona I'd like to visit, many of them easy day trips, some of them great weekend trips.  Of course the Grand Canyon is on the list, but so too are the Montezuma's Castle ruins, the Camp Verde Train, (oh how I'd love to do the Christmas train, but wow, its expensive.) The Dolly Steamboat tour of Canyon Lake, various ghost towns (I'd love to go to some of the REAL ghost-towns, not the ones like GoldField which is just up the road from us and has been turned into a tourist trap which hosts overpriced coffee shops, fake gunfights, and tacky souvenirs...not that this wouldn't be fun, just not what I want to do with my money.) Havasupai Falls, Kartchner Caverns, etc, etc. etc. We live in such a neat state, I just want to take advantage of what's available too us and I'm really looking forward to doing some camping again if I can ever get JP to say "pack it up, lets go."  


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Secret-Exposed...

I just figured out the secret to the "Eat anything you want and still lose weight" diet.
Really, I did!
Its either meth...OR...

you have to want to eat lettuce and boiled chicken for every meal.

You're welcome.  I thought you'd appreciate that.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tattoo Who?

Is it just me, or have tattoos become the calling card of overwieght white guys in their 40's wearing jean-shorts and leather hightops with ankle socks?


I think I'm going to start one of those funny photo blogs where people send in pictures of their crazy relatives and people they saw at WalMart. I'm gonna call it "40yr old White Guys with Tattoos." (White Guys wearing Jean Shorts will be our sister site.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Being in the World

Its HARD to be IN the world.  But we have to be, don't we?  Recently I've been thinking alot about how much my life has changed, all for the good, but how in that change I feel uncomfortable, stretched a little beyond where I feel at ease.  But being IN the world offers opportunities for personal growth, the kind that we cannot get when we stay in our protective cocoon.  


Recently I've realized that for the first time in my life, my friendships have extended outside of my cocoon of safety into the realm of those outside my religion.  I've always had one or two friends who did not share my beliefs, but I find myself now in the curious position of having most of my friends not share my beliefs.  I feel stretched a little beyond my capacity to feel comfortable.  But I love these people. They are good and kind friends, they are worth stretching a little for. 

I think the main reason for my discomfort is the knowledge that many of them attend churches which actively preach against my church.  Some of them even organize protests against us. (I'm not aware that any of my friends have participated in such a thing, I just know that some attend churches that organize these kinds of things.) I feel betrayed in a small way every time they say how much they love their church, and yet, I know they aren't meaning to betray our friendship, they are meaning to share their love for Christ and the experiences they have in their own centers of worship.  But I still feel betrayed.  I really wonder what they think when their Pastors get onto Anti-Mormon topics.  Do they think "Amen Brother! I'm gonna pray for my sinner friends to leave that church."  Or do they think "I don't know if this makes sense, I don't think my friend Lisa would believe that."  I hope its the latter, but I doubt it, as they never ask me to clarify anything for them. ( I have a sneaking suspicion that they've been carefully instructed by Pastors who are tired of losing tithe paying members to the Mormons, not to ask a Mormon about their beliefs, because they'll trick you into believing they are Christians...we are Christians, we just happen to believe that God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings, that's the biggest contention, really it is! You'll be amazed at how much everything else matches, at how much everything we believe can be supported Biblically.)

I realize that if they are not worried about hanging out with a Mormon, I shouldn't be worried about whether they accept me or not.  Its obvious that they enjoy my friendship as much as I enjoy theirs.  I just wonder how it is that they can feel comfortable listening to outrageous lies about a group of people to whom a good friend of theirs belongs.  That's all.

But like I said in the beginning, growth is uncomfortable, and if having friends who stretch me, make me dig deeper into my beliefs, and challenge me to grow in ways they are not aware of is part of my human experience, then I intend to participate, and I intend to eventually get comfortable.  Then again, beware comfort! It always leads to a bigger learning lesson.