Saturday, December 29, 2012


You know how we are. Us grown-ups. We need to kick back and relax once in a while. Around here, that means soaking in a hot tub and reading a book for 10 or 15 minutes. There is always a book lying by the bathtub. So, one particular bath night, Peanut told me that he wanted to read a book. I asked him which train book he wanted to peruse. He didn’t want one of his books. He wanted to read Bub’s book. So, here it is. It was practically bigger than him, and he didn’t get past page one, but The Church Of The Dead Girls satisfied him for about two minutes. After that, he had himself a nice soak and played with his train floaty toys and cleaned up really nicely.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Not Enough

Why is it that so many of us allow complacency and laziness to creep into our lives?

We move to the suburbs, have our kids, and watch more sports on TV than we actually play.

We go to work every day and put in our time but don’t produce anything revolutionary or don’t really act in a way of real service to our customers or our coworkers.

We let romance go.

And, this last one is probably the most tragic.

We spend years trying to impress our soul mate, and then we just let it go. Sometimes, it falls into place. It just happens. It is meant to be.

And, maybe – just maybe – this might be the reason that we allow ourselves to become less diligent in holding on to it. If it happens easily for us at the beginning, then why work hard throughout?

As cliché as it might sound, Bub and I met at a local lesbian bar. (Have I mentioned this before?) And, let’s be honest – it was the ONLY lesbian bar in the state. It has since changed ownership and location, and it is still the only lesbian bar in the state. (And, we’re far too old to fit in there, now. Sigh. Everyone has the exact same haircut – very short – and they all look twelve years old.) However, at the time, the bars were the only places to meet people. There was an LGBT “center,” but it was really two rooms in a cheap office building that I think were donated by a well-to-do therapist or lawyer or something. (Now, there is a true place – a whole building and loads of clubs, groups, and coffee houses.)

So, I was in a relationship at the time. She was just leaving one. I was working part-time at the bar, and she was frequenting it with her friends. We quickly hit it off – which means that I played her favorite songs and didn’t expect a tip and she flirted with me non-stop – quite flattering, actually. I stayed in my relationship, and she went in and out of a couple. I finally quit working at the bar when I went back to school, but we stayed in touch when my friends and I would go to the bar to hang out once in a while.

Then, my thing ended, and I needed money in a big way. I went back to work part-time at the bar (now under new ownership). Bub was now just getting out a fling, and we were each other’s rebounds. But, really, we were both just waiting for this time to come. Back when, we both wanted to be in this with each other, but we weren’t free at the same time. There was always some flirting. There was always something there. And, then we finally had the chance!

Oh, Bub was a hopeless romantic. I got flowers all of the time. Like, ALL of the time. Stuffed animals were delivered to work. Notes left on the mirror. She even stopped on the side of the freeway one day to pick some daisies that she then left all over my truck.

She also made it very difficult to study for my classes…

Movies, special dinners, dancing, requesting “our” song. It was almost embarrassing, but just awesome enough to avoid the embarrassing part.

For my part, I called her just to say that I loved her. Special necklaces, her favorite foods, watching Barbra Streisand movies (proof that I loved her and still do), leaving notes in unexpected places, trying to draw cute little things on cards (always a disaster), and lots of dinners with her family. I thought about her all of the time, and I made sure that she knew it.

So, where does all of that go? Why is it so easy to let it go?

When does it becomes OK to stop fixing yourself up? When does it become OK to spend more time in front of the TV in separate chairs than snuggled up next to each other in bed? When does it become OK to roll the eyes instead of showing support for his/her latest passion or project?

And, how do you recapture it?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

interesting Christmas facts about me

For an activity during our team holiday luncheon at work, we were asked to answer some questions about ourselves. Of course, I was trying to be clever (maybe I succeeded; maybe not), but every one of these answers is true:

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
The Jensen family Christmas party. You only miss it if you are really sick. People even fly “home” to Sanpete from NY and CA. It lasts about three hours. That’s it. People fly/drive in from everywhere for a three hour dinner of turkey and Grandma June’s Pink Fluffy Jello Stuff. (Yes – that’s the dish’s actual name.)

What was the best Christmas gift you ever gave?
Tickets to a Dallas Cowboys game. I hate the Dallas Cowboys. Mortal enemies of the Philadelphia Eagles. This gift proves that I really DO love my spouse.

Where were you born?
In the ONLY hospital for more than 20 miles in every direction. This doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big deal when said hospital only had about ten rooms (including x-ray, reception, and “surgery.”)

How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Three brothers and one sister

What is your middle name?
Arlene. I’m named after my mom who was named after her dad who was named after his grandpa who was named after his uncle who was named after… oh you get the point. (My grandpa, by the way, was also best buds with my bosses grandpa! We didn't know this until after both grandparents were deceased, and we had been working together for about 12 years!

What is your favorite Christmas food?
See above. Grandma June’s Pink Fluffy Jello Stuff.

What High School did you attend?
North Sanpete. And, let’s be clear about this: As my boss already knows, it’s pronounced SANpete, definitely not sanPETE. Emphasis on the SAN, people…. Additionally, it’s not named for Saint Peter (like San Francisco or San Mateo). It’s for Chief Sanpitch, a Ute leader in central Utah who was brutally murdered by Dolf Bennett in 1866.
Oh – North Sanpete is home of the Hawks, by the way.

If you won a million dollars what one crazy thing would you buy for yourself?
A new pressure cooker. Or a goat - a milking one.

What is your favorite Christmas show?
Die Hard. Oh, just kidding!
Probably Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer because I really like the song “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.”
Next in line would be The Year Without A Santa Clause because I really think that the Snow Miser is attractive.

If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
The ability to stop teenage suicide by letting kids know that they really ARE loved and it really DOES get better

What is your favorite Christmas Carole?
“Angels We Have Heard On High” but only when it’s performed by Peter Breinholt (listen to it here.
Otherwise, anything that the boys want to sing

What is your favorite vacation spot?
The area between Rolfson and Cleveland Reservoirs in the mountains of Sanpete County
Hawaii is a close second

What are you afraid of?
Not particularly fond of snakes
The “Balls” obstacle at Tough Mudder
A house fire with us inside
Death of a child
Not being a good enough mother
Dying before my kids realize/understand how much I love them
More out-of-pocket medical costs for the only un-insured person in our family
HOW IS THIS A HOLIDAY QUESTION? I’m totally depressed now!

What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?
My high school class ring. It wasn’t anything fancy, but for my single mother on a very low income, it represented true sacrifice not only by her but by the rest of the siblings who didn’t get much that year.

What is your favorite pastime / hobby?
Canning, preserving, jam making

Where is your favorite store to shop?
NONE – not even online – I despise shopping
UNLESS it is for fresh fruit with which I can make new kinds of jam – in that case, it is the farmer’s market

If you could spend Christmas with a historical figure, who would it be?
Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots – writers and performers of the mega-hit “Disco Duck” back in 1976
Susan B. Anthony – I would ask her how she managed to stay positive and encouraged during the very long struggle for equal rights because I’m getting very tired of the status quo for LGBT citizens in Utah…

Who is your favorite cartoon character?
If you were to judge by the sheer number of movies that we own, you would guess Thomas the Tank Engine. However, that would be incorrect. Dr. Gru would probably be my current favorite. Or, the Snow Miser (see above – he’s so sexy).

What was the last book you read?
Honestly? Prancer by Stephen Cosgrove. It’s a riveting yet heartwarming tale about Jessica, the daughter of an impoverished farmer, who still believes in Santa Claus. When she comes across a real live reindeer with an injured leg, it makes perfect sense to her to assume that it is Prancer, whose likeness had fallen from a Christmas display in town. She hides him in her barn and feeds him cookies until she can return him to Santa.
If you’re talking about GROWN UP books, I’m currently finishing up a gripping story of suspense and possibility called The Lean Startup. And, by gripping, I mean that it's required reading for me and my team of coworkers.
Otherwise, the last full (grown up) book that I read (simply because I wanted to) was Identity by Milan Kundera. It was weird.

Which of the seven dwarfs are you most like and why?
Is there one named Bossy? No? How about Opinionated? No?

Tell us what you have done this year that would make Santa not come to your house?
The list is long and includes the following:
I simply throw my shoes in the bottom of my closet without organizing them.
Sometimes, I store my contacts without properly cleaning them.
I still haven’t sent my holiday cards or even done my holiday shopping.
I have never taken my kids to Kiddie Kandids (or other photo places like that).
I buy pie crusts instead of making them from scratch [gasp!].
I told the boys in all seriousness that they are not allowed to get married until they are 30 and not allowed to have kids until they are 35 – this way, if they get married “early,” they will still be adults. (My logic? If I tell them that they can get married when they are 18 or 19 and they get married “early,” that means 16 or 17!!! I set the standard high so that there is plenty of wiggle room and growing-up time.)

What award or achievement have you received that you are most proud of?
My boys (of course), but since that is the same thing that almost everyone else is going to say, here are some other awesomely cool things that I’m proud of:
I drank the recommended eight glasses of water every single day last week
I haven’t cursed yet today
1st place in the machine transcription category at the 1987 FBLA business meet
My Honolulu Marathon t-shirt (from my first-ever marathon in 2002 – I still haven’t worn it and probably never will – I’m thinking of framing it)
My Tough Mudder headband (because I didn’t die on the “Balls” obstacle)
My Sapper Joe finisher’s medal (because the 3700 feet of elevation gain is almost entirely in the first four miles, and it was freakin’ hard!)
My MBA (because doing homework at 11pm and 3am wasn’t fun and completing everything without missing any family time wasn’t easy)
My 16+ year relationship (because it’s hard to stay together when the world around you [politicians, religions, neighbors, family] tell you daily that you aren’t worth it and/or that you’re going to hell)

There you go. That's me - at least part of me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ragnar Vegas Race Report

Last month, I ran Ragnar Las Vegas with some friends.
You can read the race reports here, here, there, and here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Coal Miner’s Daughter

I’m not sure how old I was when Coal Miner’s Daughter (starring Sissy Spacek) came out. All I remember for sure is that I definitely was a coal miner’s daughter. Not in the Loretta Lynn way, of course, but in the my-dad-works-at-the-mines way.

We weren’t close, my dad and I. In some ways, we still aren’t, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been before, so that’s saying something. So, when he asked me if I wanted to go to see this movie with him, I jumped at the chance. Just me? Not the golden child? Not the little guy? Not the two oldest? Just me? Hell yes!

I don’t even remember much about the actual date itself. I know that I liked the movie, and I know that he LOVED it. I remember listening to records of Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubbs as I was growing up, so I knew some of the songs. I think that dad knew them all. I hadn’t a clue about Pasty Cline before the movie, but I did afterwards because dad really liked her, too. If he liked her, then I wanted to know about her. (How can you not love her voice?)

This movie was released before he went to rehab, but even so, I didn’t associate Loretta’s struggles with pain pills with anything that my dad was going or had gone through. I didn’t correlate his cheating behavior with Doo’s actions. I didn’t see my mom in Loretta, waiting around, penniless, with lots of kids to care for and no reliable husband to help. I didn’t see any of this because I was just so damn happy to have a special night alone with my dad. I don’t even know if we ordered popcorn!

Its memories like this that make me realize how important it is to spend quality time with the boys. I’m not perfect at this, in fact, I have a long way to go, but I’m trying. I want them to feel that special every day, not just once in a while when I finally think about doing something nice for them.

(And, this is in no way meant to disparage my dad. He wasn’t perfect, and I’m still learning about why he is who he is even after 42 years. That makes me think that maybe I should blog some about my parents’ childhoods – what I know and find out what I don’t know – so that someday when my own boys are reading this, they will understand why I am who I am…)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Black Stallion

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley is one of the best books ever written. I should know. I read it, on average, three times per month during the 5th grade. The movie? Classic. Wonderfully told and filmed. Beautiful horse scenes.

However, the BEST horse scene EVER in the HISTORY of horse scenes definitely belongs, hands down, to The Man From Snowy River. You know the one. Where he rides down the side of the mountain… Yeah. You’re nodding your head right now. The thing about this scene is that it’s real. My brothers, dad, and I have analyzed and re-analyzed this scene so many times that it’s pathetic. This was made in the days before amazing CGI and animation. The camera isn’t tilted to make it APPEAR that he is going down a steep slope. He and his horse really ARE! Dude – those trees are growing straight up and he is going past them at a 45* angle, at least. Some in my family would venture a guess at closer to a 60* angle since he’s almost laying flat on his horse’s rump. Any idea how bloody hard this is? Not to mention scary! I literally grew up on a horse, and I’ve ridden some awesome mountains; I wouldn’t walk down that mountain mounted, let alone take it at a full-out run. I don’t know if I would walk down that mountain on my own two feet while leading my horse! Anyway, back to the point…

Along with reading this book, and others in the series, almost non-stop, I also had a Hell’s Kitchen Endurance Ride t-shirt that I wore at least once per week. It had a beautiful picture of an Arabian on the front of it. I loved that shirt. White with navy blue around the collar and sleeves. Loved it.

My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Hermansen, told me that I was going to turn into a horse. Ah, if only! (Funny story about Mr. Hermansen: He only taught in Mt. Pleasant for a couple of years. I was lucky enough to have him the first year. That’s when I found out that he was living in the same house that my mom was born in. Like, actually born. You know – not in a hospital. In the kitchen of this house that my teacher now occupied. Small town history…)

The only thing that I did more than read about horses was ride them. Gosh! I miss having a horse of my own. I never thought I would get to this age and not have five or six of them. A girl can still wish….

Wait. I just realized that I never did get to a point. A book, a movie, a shirt, my teacher, my mom, and a wish. Easily distracted today….

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful, 2012

So, I don't do that whole "let's-be-thankful-every-day-in-November-and-post-about-it-constantly" thing. You do? Good. I think that's good. Rock your socks off.

It's not that I'm not thankful, because I am. I just don't don't want to go on and on about it. I keep a grateful journal. I'm supposed to write in it everyday, but I don't. I do, however, write in it enough to know that I am, really, grateful for so many beautiful things in my life. I keep that for myself, I guess, although if someone really wanted to read it, I wouldn't turn down their request. There's nothing earth shattering in it. Just me. Being thankful for the little things.

I wish I could say that I live each day acknowledging and expressing my gratitude from the heart - that I live from a place of gratitude alone. But, I don't. I get frustrated when the boys don't behave during dinner instead of being grateful that we have food to feed them (that they won't eat). I get angry when I can't pay all of the bills instead of being happy that I've paid most of them. I get depressed when, well, whenever - it's too often, to be truthful. (I'm not thankful for that.)

But, I am thankful. Like multitudes of people on Facebook and all over the internet, I am thankful for my family. So, there. Cliche, yes. Truthful, yes.

I'm thankful for Bubba. We've struggled, and sometimes she drives me insane. But, we're still in this together no matter what our friends thought when this whole thing started back in 1996. Good grief - that's 16 years. I'll keep her around for some, I suppose.

I'm thankful for her parents and my parents and my siblings and my aunts, uncles, cousins, and all of that. I'm thankful for my friends. I'm thankful for my friends that are more family than my blood relatives.

But, here's the kicker. I'm thankful for those boys. Yes, the same ones that you see here - all over the place here since this has become a showcase-adorable-people blog. They are my everything (even though they never eat their dinner).

I'm thankful for the friends who shared pizza and beer with us and talked us through how to get started with sperm banks, doctors, and forms.

I'm thankful for the OB/GYN who had done this many times before with other lesbian couples and didn't even blink when we raised the question with her. (I'm also thankful that she was there for my delivery instead of having a day off which was the original plan.)

I'm actually thankful for my miscarriage. That sounds horrible, doesn't it? It showed me that I was really ready to be a parent, and Bubba was too. We were invested, and it wasn't a game or a theory. It was painful (emotionally). It forced me to reconsider some things and hold on tighter to others. Maybe I'm thankful for it now because I know that he still came to me eventually. I may have lost him once, but I'm certain - convinced, even - that he turned out to be the surprise-you're-having-twins baby. It just took him a couple of tries for his body to catch up with his soul. I'm so lucky!

The other two thanks come in at a tie. It's hard to decide who to thank the most. Is there a thank you tie breaker? Like the ultimate rock-scissors-paper game?

First, there is the donor (KD in our case). Without him and his large heart, we would not have these exact two little gentlemen at this exact time with their exact quirks and their exact eyes and their exact laughs. How do you say "thank you" to someone that gave you life? It's even harder when he gave you two lives! Really, there isn't an expression that encompasses it. Perhaps there is a Hallmark card that hints at what I'm trying to say?

But, tied with that enormous and completely amazing gift is the thank you to the people who kept those gifts alive. The NICU doctors and nurses at LDS Hospital in 2007 literally saved our boys' lives. From keeping Peanut's oxygen levels and body temperatures up to acceptable levels to Meatball's blood transfusion and Necrotizing Enterocolitis, the boys are here today (and healthy in spite of the fact that they don't eat dinner.... ever....) because of these doctors and nurses. Again, how do you say "thanks" for that? The pizza party that we threw when we were discharged just didn't cut it.

So, there you go. I am grateful. I am grateful to the deepest part of my heart. I am grateful beyond words. Love's like that, somehow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Halloween, 2012

FINALLY, we made it to the local drive in! The boys' school did a trunk-and-treat at the drive in which included a free movie! Here are the boys and their awesome mom getting ready for the movie to start:

A few days later, we did the downtown trick-or-treat with Papa. This has become a yearly tradition. I like that the local businesses do this. It's during the daylight hours, so it's safer. There are police there to direct traffic. And, if your kids are young enough, you can quit after just this!

Then, as if all of this wasn't enough, we packed up and drove into Salt Lake to have a sleepover at Uncle David's and Uncle Charlie's house! They live in Daybreak where the houses are close together, and the community is very walkable. This translates into maximum candy in minimum time.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Horsing around

Last year at the Utah Valley Marathon, we passed a herd of horses in a pasture at about mile seven. You can see how excited the horses were at about 23 seconds into this video. It was my favorite part of this marathon (especially since the race went down the crapper at about mile 17).

This year, at about mile nine (or mile 2 into my leg), some horses alongside of the Ogden marathon (and relay for me) shared a similar experience. Thank goodness. What a fun way to spend a morning.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


After my paternal grandmother passed away, the whole family was a bit worried about grandpa. After all, he was a diabetic, he would be lonely, he would be in this big old house by himself, his sight wasn’t great, etc. There was a list of potential problems. But, he was also in pretty good health, he was mobile, he was lucid, he was good-natured.

Our family (his son) lived less than three blocks away, and we visited often. (Probably not often enough, in retrospect.) Another son lived about six blocks away. A daughter lived about a mile away. The last daughter lived about 7 miles away. Yes. This exercise in distance is important, because you won’t believe what happened.

The family that lived in a neighboring town owned a skinny, single-wide. Grandpa offered them HIS HOUSE if they would just come and live with him for the rest of his days. The house was definitely big enough with a yard and a pasture and two-car garage (which was a big deal in our town back then). They refused. I guess they didn’t want to do this because they lived next door to my uncle’s mother, and they were already taking care of her. Fifteen years later, they have inherited her house, so all is OK.

Anyway, even though we were all so very close, no grown-ups could be bothered to care for him. Everyone was married, so there were eight grown-ups who could have done this, but they didn’t. Yes. I’m bitter. No. I don’t know all of the reasons for the decisions that they made. Yes. I’m probably overreacting and harboring these negative feelings for too long. No. It hasn’t blackened my soul. Yet.

So, the decision that they made was this: two grandkids would live with him and help care for him. The choice was made for those kids (literally, kids) to be me and my cousin. Even though there were kids in their teens, she and I were chosen. I can’t remember exactly how old I was. I want to say 12. If that’s the case, she was 10 as we are separated by exactly two years.

Dear Reader. Could this really be a good idea?

So, I stayed Sunday night through Friday morning, and since she was younger, she stayed Friday night through Sunday morning. This went on for about a year.

I wouldn’t trade that time with him for any amount of money in the world.
He put up with my dramatic tween attitude, and took care of me much more than I managed to help him.

Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, I would wake up and make breakfast for us before I had to catch the bus to junior high. I would fry up some bacon, and when it was done I would drop some eggs in the grease. Two for him, and one for me. Nothing is better than eggs fried this way. Very few things were as unhealthy, for sure, but tasty! Two pieces of toast and butter for both of us, usually with lots of jam for me. A tall glass of milk washed down the whole breakfast, and I was on the bus by 7am.

We sat on opposite sides of the kitchen table to eat, and we talked and talked and talked. Today, I have no idea what we talked about, but it was nice to have the attention. I come from a family of five kids, one of whom always seemed to be having a friend live with us. My mom was famous for taking in “strays” of the two- and four-legged variety. We were always finding a way to squeeze someone else into a spare bed, a couch, sometimes even the floor. I can still remember many of them: Casey, John, DeAnna, David, and more, I’m sure. I think that I was the only person that didn’t have someone live with us, but my best friend was there almost every day, so it was the same thing. So, anyway, it was nice to have his attention without five or six or seven other kids/teens vying for the same thing.

While we ate our breakfast, he would give himself his insulin injection. Right there at the table, he would un-snap his shirt, expose his tummy, and just pop that thing in. At first, it freaked me out, but it was a non-issue after about a week or so.

On Wednesday, I had piano lessons before school. My oldest brother would pick me up on his way to work. We would leave at like 5:30am so that I could get to lessons by 6am. On those days, grandpa would get up extra early to make ME breakfast. For some reason, his always tasted better than mine.

In the evenings, I would arrive after stopping at home to practice piano. We would watch TV together after dinner. I would go to my room to practice my clarinet. I’ll bet he wished that he was losing his hearing instead of his sight! We always found something to talk about.

I grew so close to him during this time. I’m sure that my cousin felt the same way even though she only spent two days with him instead of five. He missed my grandma, for sure, but I’m glad that SOMEONE could be there for him.

Then, it all ended.

One night, he got up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water or take some medications or something. I don’t even know. He fell in the kitchen, and he couldn’t get up. He hollered for me several times before I woke up. (Have you ever tried to wake a teenager?) But, I DID wake up. I got into the kitchen, and couldn’t help him up. I was too small, and he was too big. He wasn’t fat, to be sure. In fact, he was a rail. But, I was just 12, and scared. I think that had something to do with it.

So, I called my parents, and they called the other sister. Everyone converged at the same time, and it was all chaos.

And, I felt like I had failed him. In a way, I did. But, really? I was 12.

So, I can’t remember if they called the ambulance or not. I think so. But, it was all precautionary. Nothing was broken. His hips and legs were fine. He was probably just bruised a bit.

My cousin and I were no longer responsible to stay with him. His own children and their spouses took turns for a week or two.

Then, against his wishes – very much against his wishes – he was put into a nursing home. Oh, it was a nice place. Very nice. But, it was an hour away from all of us. For a bunch of people who didn’t visit enough to begin with, this was the end of visiting. (In the time that he was in the home – four months? - we visited once.) He begged and pleaded and cried. My grandpa cried! And, still, he was still shipped off to die.

And he did.

I believe that he died of a broken heart. I know that’s dramatic and a bit ridiculous, but I think that it’s true. I am 42. It has taken me 30 years to get to the point where I almost forgive myself for not hearing him yell for me after his fall. But, it is still hard to not feel like I failed him.

When he died, I was away at 4-H camp. I was canoeing with three friends. My mom, one of the advisors, called me in off of the lake and told me. I treated it with the nonchalance of a snotty girl who had just turned 13 and returned to the canoe with my friends. But, inside, I was devastated.

I realize that this is epically a first-world problem. I realize that I’m yammering on and on about something that other kids in developing countries face to this day, 30 years later. But, why put such a young person in a position of such great responsibility?

At the time, I didn’t really think through it (because I was 12) to realize that I could wake up one morning to find him dead. Truth be told, I didn’t think about that until just this moment while writing this post! What the hell would I have done if he had died in his sleep? Or had a stroke? Or had broken something (think: hip) when he fell so that every move I tried to make or help him with would have resulted in agonizing pain and certain tears from both parties? I was desperately unprepared for any of those things. I didn’t even know the emergency phone number (our rural area didn’t have 911 service at the time).

But, on the flip side, if I was qualified to care for him before his fall, why wasn’t I given a second chance? That, too, was demoralizing. I already felt like I had failed him, but the fact that I truly wasn’t good enough, ready enough, old enough, strong enough really drove the point home. The 12-year old inside of me still says “I will do a better job next time.”

I sound like I’m angry that I “had” to do this. I’m not. I never was. It didn’t matter that it meant lots of nights where I couldn’t hang out with friends, but that
never mattered. It still doesn’t. I’m grateful that I got to spend that time with him. Now that I’m older, I realize how special the time was, and I’m almost sad that I didn’t get that same time with my other grandparents.

I am, however, still a bit ticked that he was shipped off to die – that nobody else (a bit older/wiser/stronger/better) stepped up to help him – that we couldn’t afford to hire someone to help him – that he had to beg his own children, and they wouldn’t/couldn’t accommodate him.

I’ve never asked them about any of this, so this is an extremely one-sided story. I don’t know if I ever will ask them about it – partly because I don’t want to know.

And, why are children – in any place or culture – being asked to provide this kind of care? 12-year olds should be worried about their first junior high dance, the cute boy/girl in the next desk, clothes, books, movies, magazines, mowing the lawn, making the bed. Kids shouldn’t be changing soiled grandparents, caring for babies, picking up cans for recycling in order to buy milk, family members who are meth-heads, making their own dinner every night. As a country, we have the resources so that no kid should be put in this position, but we squander those resources on a million meaningless things or unjustified wars. What about other countries where the resources are less abundant? UG! It’s just so much and it frustrates me to no end!

At the end of the day, I was lucky. Despite how irritated, angry, and woeful I might sound, my time with him was a blessing. I still think of him almost every day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The copper mine

A couple of weeks ago, we took advantage of the free admission at Kennecott Utah Copper and took the boys for their first trip. This is the first time that Bub and I have been there since 2000 (?) when Tony came out to visit from NJ.

The visitor's center is nice. It's not extensive or huge, but it is interesting. It's a bit much for five-year-olds, but still fun. We had hoped that they would have really understood the magnitude of the sheer size of the place, but it's still a bit much for them. The dump trucks that drive through this area are as big as a 2-story house. I kept trying to explain to the boys that the "little" trucks were actually semi-trucks, and the "big" trucks were actually ENORMOUS. Even though they didn't really "get" it, they enjoyed it. We all did.

Here's a photo of the boys standing next to one of the tires that belongs on an enormous truck. Keep in mind that they boys are each just over four feet tall.
That makes these tires at least 16-feet tall. It's mind boggling.
A long time ago, they used to have one of the trucks parked next to (and dwarfing) the visitor's center. It's too bad that they don't have that anymore.
The drivers actually need a ladder to get into the trucks. It's crazy. One of our friends, Merlyn, drives one of these trucks. She's a badass.

Then, Meatball got ahold of my phone and managed to take some pictures - all of them were of the tire. I'm only including two of them. I won't torture you with the other seven photos....

On the way home, we crossed the top of the mountain - up through Butterfield Canyon and down Middle Canyon, enjoying sandwiches and cheese on the drive home.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The next FIRST lost tooth

I was so bummed that Meatball lost this tooth while I was at work. He was pretty dang excited about it, though! They called me at work and told me all of the details. I was worried about him being all freaked out about this because he gets very anxious about stuff like that.

Unfortunately, Bub and I both forgot how much money the tooth fairy left for Peanut just a couple of months ago. Luckily for us, Meatball remembered! (Of course he did.) I'm happy to report that she fluttered her little wings and managed to leave him $2, a little toy, and a mini candy bar - just like Peanut received. Whew!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Utah Museum of Natural History

Last month, my employer celebrated the company's 85th anniversary in style. In addition to giveaways and lunches and gifts, we were treated to a morning at the Utah Museum of Natural History. The whole company - at least all 1500 who are located at the home office.

I spent the majority of the morning taking pictures of my teammates for our work blog, but I did get a few minutes to take in the amazing-ness that is the museum. It was recently re-located and is completely awesome. My employer helped fund and furnish the gems section.

I can't wait to go back when I have the entire day to spend checking things out. Here's something that I thought was pretty interesting. This is just a visual that shows the different kinds of rock and soil in the US. Utah has more varieties of rock and soil than any other state.
Here you can see the specific detail of Utah as well as the entire contiguous US. Pretty cool, right?

But, the part that I was really excited about was the actual fossil area. I cannot wait to take the boys to this part of the museum. They were freaking out over the photos on my phone.

These fossil heads mounted on the wall really freaked me out a bit. First, they are very scary looking. Second, almost every one of them were as tall as me. THE HEADS were as tall as me. That is crazy!

So cool!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cute niece and grand-niece

Grand-niece. That sounds awful. It makes me sound so OLD.
The trouble is that I have THREE grand-nieces and ONE grand-nephew!
I blame my sister. It's all her fault.

Doesn't make them any less cute, though, does it?
This is my cute niece, JKW, and her sweet and adorable daughter, AML.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Excellent report cards!

We recently had the PLEASURE of our first parent-teacher conferences. The boys' teachers are wonderful. WONDERFUL. The boys love them - adore them! In fact, when he found out that he wouldn't have the same teacher next year, Peanut cried and cried. Bub finally had to tell him that she was kidding!

During both of the conferences, we were told that they are very friendly - a sweet euphemism for "talkative." Bub looked at me like it was MY fault. Yes, I will admit that when I get going, I really talk up a storm, but it takes me a lot to get to that point. Otherwise, I'm pretty reserved and quiet. SHE, on the other hand, didn't shut up for the entire conference. Like, seriously, didn't shut her pie hole! And, she didn't even know that she was doing it. Both of the teachers looked at me like they were astounded. I just shrugged it off. I'm used to it.

Anyway, they both got all A's in every single topic. Peanut could use some more practice with his handwriting, but otherwise, they are rockin' it. They are both in advanced reading and very high math.

Their teachers love spending time with them. We are SO PROUD!
So, we came home and had celebratory cupcakes after dinner!

They are such awesome boys!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn at the edge of the desert

The city where we live is the most populated city in the northern part of the state that is situated on the edge of the Great Basin desert. There is one city in the most southern part of the state that is more populated, but it's not actually on the edge of the desert; it's actually in the desert.

So, since we're on the edge, we get an OK amount of water, and we have some decent mountains: The Oquirrh's. They aren't the Wasatch, and they definitely aren't the Uintahs. There is one more range, the Sheep, that buffers us from the desert. Everything after the Sheep range is definitely desert. Our town sits in the valley between the Oquirrhs and the Sheep ranges.

Since we actually have mountains, we do get some color on the scrub oak and the quaking aspens in the fall. Since we are at the edge of a desert in the second driest state in the nation, fall doesn't last long. It seems like it's here for a week at most. It's so fleeting! So, I'm happy that we were able to get some good pictures a few days ago while out "hiking". (Five-year-olds don't "hike" well. At least, ours don't. Of course, to me a hike is 10 miles, and that's a bit unfair to a little person.)

Did you really think that this was going to just be a pretty post? Uh, no. Here are pictures of the boys - of course!

ha-ha-ha! Isn't that a funny picture? Everyone found something interesting - a stick, a rock, a leaf - and they all bent over at the same time... even Nana! I'm sure that she will be happy to see her butt here...

Ok - fine - here are some more pretty pictures sans handsome boys:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Stir it up, little darlin’. Stir it up.

When we were kids, we weren’t allowed to play with our food. As a parent, I can understand that. Dinner time is the most frustrating time of the day for me, and it really makes me crazy when the boys yutz around and make a mess. So, there. I’m sure that my parents feel vindicated now that I have just typed that sentence.

But, we weren’t allowed to do anything with our food except eat it, and this extended to stirring our ice cream. This is a problem for a girl who would much rather have it all soft and of a malt/shake-like consistency instead of remaining in a scoop form. So, every time we had ice cream, I would inevitably get in trouble for playing with my food.

I did it anyway.

I still do. I am 42 years old, and I still get immense satisfaction from knowing that my dad’s head would explode if he saw me stirring my ice cream all together into a soft and runny-ish soup. Is that wrong?

And, although I would like to say that I allow the boys to do the same thing that would be a lie. I regularly find myself telling them to “just eat your food, already!”

Geez, lighten up, mom!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Are you tired of zoo pictures yet? Too bad...

We are determined to use that family zoo pass from Uncle Norris as much as possible! What a great gift that has been. This particular day was overcast and only in the 80s. We managed to have loads of fun while Bub was at a funeral. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that we had the better time.

Is it just me, or is it some kind of unwritten parenting law that you must take pictures of your kids while at the zoo? We all do it, and then we have 73 photos of the same kids seeing the same animals at the same zoo several times. The weird thing about this, I think, is that we don’t even have the greatest zoo! Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good zoo; it is. But, it’s no San Diego Wild Animal Park!

But, these are the greatest kids...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Missing the girls.....

This is what happens when you split up in the mall and one brother gets to see our awesome friend, Geri, and the other brother just misses her.

He was SO excited to see her that he picked a flower, and we RAN through the mall to try and catch her.

We didn't make it in time. He was heartbroken all the way home and until he fell asleep.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Just being silly

Why is it so much fun to take pictures of yourself? When someone ELSE is trying to take a picture, we avoid it or put a silly smile on our faces or glare at the camera or whatever. But, when we are taking a picture of ourselves, our whole demeanor changes. Strange. And Fun.

Of course, when you are five, you have license to be silly any time you want!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dear Kids: Mommy is a total Tough Mudder BADASS!

See my running blog for the race report(s).

Part 1 Pre-race jitters

Part 2 The first 11 obstacles

Part 3 The final 12 obstacles

Part 4 Retrospective

Monday, October 15, 2012


On the left is one of my best friends, E. I’ve known her for probably 22 years, and I adore her. I feel like we’ve always been close, even though for 16 of those years, she lived in Alaska. She’ll be going back there relatively soon, too. I’ll miss her so much!

On the right is her new girlfriend, A. They have known each other for about 18 months, but the rest of us have only known A for about six months. Since we don’t all get to do too much together, the jury is still out on A. It takes a long time to get in good with our group (just ask Bub), but I must say that she’s doing a good job so far. She makes E. happy, and that’s all that we really car about.

Cute, aren’t they?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Drop Cookies

Meatball continues to love to cook with me. Peanut will help, but he mostly likes cracking the eggs and using the mixer. Meatball loves the entire process. Here he is doing his first batch of drop cookies. I remember very vividly my mom teaching me to do the same thing. “Scoop the batter with one spoon, and scrape it onto the cookie sheet with the other spoon.”

Next, I’ll have to teach him how to fit twelve on a sheet. That’s how I learned multiplication, by the way…