Monday, December 28, 2009

One year down

2009 is almost over. My, it was a year. With the much excitement it brought it also drug up a lot of hardness, which is supposedly making me stronger. But as I sat in my kitchen--wait, that's a lie. I was standing. As I stood in my kitchen, admiring my collection of plastic bags sitting in my kitchen chairs full of groceries, I couldn't help but think that this year was rather boring aside from one particularly big event. So I racked my little brain and dug through my journal to remember exactly what I've been through in the last year and what I learned.
  • I celebrated the beginning of 2009 with my fiance. Sitting on the couch in my parents living room I thought about how the next New Years I'd be married to that man who sat next to me holding up my dozing head.
  • I won a smile make-over from Utah Valley Magazine that helped me have a beautiful smile on my wedding day. (Thank you, Katie!)
  • I moved out and lived on my own for the first time.
  • I completed my third semester at BYU with the highest GPA I've ever had in college.
  • I got married in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple to the love of my life.
  • I went to Disneyland with someone I really like for my honeymoon. Last time I went to Disneyland I was with another person I really like. (Hi, Kass!) Coincidence? Disneyland must be full of likable people.
  • I finally got old enough to not be considered a teenager.
  • I. . . started this blog?
  • I started learning about being young, married, and poor. I walked to work all summer in holey shoes, and I learned ziplock bags and wax paper and window blinds and TV and hot water are luxury items.
  • I learned that just because you can doesn't mean you should, and sometimes what you should do you just can't.
  • I met a guy named 'Patience'. We are not friends yet.
  • I felt real homesickness.
  • I sat and watched my academic aspirations fly away with my lack of tuition money. I mourned for loss of some old dreams like being a high school teacher or finishing college before I'm dead.
  • I experienced God's grace when I was called to teach 16-17 year old Sunday school. I realized he knew my sorrows-- He still loved me and wanted me to know that I will be a teacher, though I might not be teaching English and it might not be in a school.
  • I found that the fastest way to mend a broken heart is to be held by a man that so completely loves you while you pray for strength to choose happiness
  • I struggled with depression for the first time in my life. And I rose out of it too, thanks to lower-dosed hormones. . .
  • I began my career in baking cakes and quickly ended that career after seeing what my two hands were/weren't capable of.
  • I washed 284 loads of dishes by hand.
  • I threw away 12 leftover dishes of moldy food concoctions that no one could eat. (Like beef ground turkey stew.)
  • I celebrated my first married Christmas with my family and then Paul's. It was a heap of fun. I plan on doing it again some time.
  • I realized just how blessed I really am by having amazing people around me who have been the means to a lot of answered prayers.
Hopefully next years list includes a pregnancy. . . Just kidding, Mom. Don't look at me like that.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Babies

There are so many things I want to write about. Last week as I sat down to write I had a specific topic I was addressing, I knew where I wanted to take the reader, and I knew how I would end. My mind felt sharp, which is a bonus. However, as I typed and typed all the wrong words seemed to appear on the monitor so I didn't post at all. It reminded me of high school ballroom class. I knew the name and theory behind the steps, but my little feet could not do what I so desperately wanted them to. This week I have no specific topic to write about and NO mental clarity. I just know I need to write something.

I guess the trouble is trying to avoid the topic of babies. It is the greatest desire for most female newlyweds. Once allowed to use procreative abilities couples have to decide the who, what, when, where, and how of family planning. And while many couples agree to a "waiting period" wives still long for the time when a little life stirs in their womb. Working with several newlywed women at my job I have noticed the most frequently visited topic is children. And why not? We are only surrounded by expecting mothers buying ginger tea for morning sickness, prenatal vitamins, and plenty of folic acid. Just delivered mothers venture out with their newborn strapped in a car seat to buy lactation-support tea, stretch mark cream, and colic-soothing formulas. Little toddlers squeal with delight as they recklessly push the miniature black shopping carts we provide. As young married girls we watch and smile and secretly desire to be in their shoes.

But in these moments, I remind myself that Paul and I are waiting and to be patient. I hate waiting. I understand I am ultimately the master of my thoughts so I'm trying to choose not to think about it. I'm trying to enjoy life as just the two of us, which is hard when everything brings me back to babies. For instance, two weeks ago I was at the store buying hand soap for my bathroom. I buy a different scent every time. I guess it's my way of branching out from the scents familiar in my parent's home while I try to establish some for my own. This last trip I stumbled across a lavender and chamomile flavor. The initial smell reminded me of my sister's possessed vehicle, which made me smile. I felt that smiling every time I washed my hands was a good thing. What I overlooked was when combined with the hot hand-washing water the soap mostly smells like a naked baby pulled from the tub, wrapped in a towel for prime snuggling.

I now cry every time I wash my hands.

Okay, maybe I don't physically cry, but I have to try hard to control my rogue baby thoughts and keep my focus on the decision Paul and I have made. I know I will go completely insane if I don't. Hopefully, the more I practice the easier it will get. Or I could give up and have a baby. Only time will really tell.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Focusing


I

am

tired.

But in a good way. It's the kind of tired you get when you spend a week putting everything you've got into work for little return, but continue to do so because self-discipline is never a bad quality to develop. It's the tired after decorating for Christmas and finally being able to sit in the simple but festive living room, savoring the sounds of ice skating on NBC while homemade soup simmers on the stove. Tired that comes from corralling young teens at a birthday party, and then spending the afternoon walking around Wal-Mart with two of my favorite people. I wouldn't trade the exhaustion caused by living for anything.

This week a regular stopped by my work. Because of his frequent visits to the store for produce, water, and small bulk treats we address each other by our first names. As he came through my line at the first register I asked him how life was. He told me that it was good because he was focusing on the good. Then he added, "Your focus becomes your reality." I can't get that out of my head.

For Young Women introductions as a Beehive or for Relief Society spotlights my mom use to relate stories of my strong will and various times where I'd make a goal and stop at nothing until I witnessed it's fruition. This has come back to bite me. While blessings whirled around me this Thanksgiving I found myself in a rut, wondering where my life was going and feeling a ridiculous amount of self-pity. It felt like I was skidding off a cliff as I witnessed bank account numbers slowly descend. As dishes piled in the sink I felt like a slave to chores. I was feeling that choosing to be a good wife and future mother was not enough.

Thankfully, I was not on verge of bankruptcy or about to die from a highly contagious bout of vacuumingitis. I was just out of focus. I was so intent on focusing on all the imperfect aspects of my life that I failed to truly appreciate the friends and family that surrounded me. I didn't seem to take as much notice of the sweet little things my husband did for me. The blessings of the gospel seemed lost in a haze of confusion and misery. I only saw dishes and dust and poverty.

Photographers use focus to draw the onlookers eye to a single spot by blurring everything else out. That doesn't erase every looming or supportive backstage character. It just makes them harder to see. I think Satan knows a lot about photography, or at least about focus. He knows if he can get us to see only one thing (addictions), or focus only on the negative (pessimism), we won't be able to see the many incredible blessings God has given. Lack of gratitude leads to lack of faith, which can create a rift in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Satan knows a lot about rifts too.

I'm going to try to focus on my blessings this week. While my trials will still be in the background, I'll have faith and let my Father guide me. With Him, anything is possible.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Picture blogging

There are two types of bloggers: those who can write and those who can't. The fortunate thing about this is you don't have to be a writer to blog. You just need to post lots of pictures. The more pictures you post the less you have to incorporate literary features. For some time I was under the impression that the bloggers who wrote compelling entries often had few or no pictures because they didn't have to rely on visuals to support the words on the screen. Following that same logic, blogs with many photos had less need of storybook talent and a greater demand for budding photography talent. I thought blogs were special that way. They allowed expression from a broad population because it could be customized to a specific talent.

After blogging I revoke that belief.

Posting pictures drains writing abilities from its poster. The moment two or more pictures are uploaded creativity becomes hindered, and when five or more pictures are uploaded the synapses in the brain that send intelligent words to the fingers cease to function. So, the poorly written text that accompanies picture riddled blogs is not due to any abundance or lack of talent in the blogger. The only control a blogger really has is to choose what to sacrifice to most effectively communicate. Would pictures better express their message with the sacrifice of decent written text, or would a well-written essay or story more efficiently articulate a point?

Having said all that, this phenomenon is common but not exclusive. They are the talented few who can control their picture posting as well as their commentary. However, I am not one of those few. I discovered that the very first time I posted a series of photos. Granted, I'm not the most talented writer, but I could not write anything worth reading that day. I thought I was just having writers block. The very next time I tried to post a slew of pictures I was faced with the same adversity. Thoughts concerning the correlation began to swirl in my head. I tried it again weeks later only to experience the same thing. I tried to concoct a solution and came to one conclusion. I had to be the pictures.

It couldn't possibly be that I have an inability to tie thoughts to visuals. It couldn't possibly be that writing captions is hard for me. It definitely couldn't be that I upload pictures first and try to coordinate them like an undecided connect-the-dots game. It must be photos and brain synapses.
That's got to be it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Never had a birthday like this? Lucky.

Well, fifty years ago last Friday my grandmother suffered and suffered and suffered trying to give birth. One hundred and ten stitches later she was holding her first baby. It was a girl. Since that baby was turning fifty this year I wondered if we should do something. . . special. On September 16th I recieved the following e-mail from my grandmother:
Oh, I think it would be fun to have a "black birthday" for her.... you know everyone dress in black, have black icing on the cake, black balloons, black crepe paper all over the place, play some funeral music, etc. ..... would't that be fun?
She was singing my song and I got started. I spent time at the party store searching for anything black. Plates, napkins, table cloths, they had it all. As Halloween came and went I scoured through holiday clearance to find music, food coloring, strings of lights, and any other items of interest. I had everything planned out. . . but the cake. The orange cake in this post was actually a test cake for some techniques I wanted to use for this party. However, my dad mentioned one evening that mom is not a big cake fan. I was worried. The last thing I wanted was to spend hours on a cake she wouldn't want to eat. How could I keep desert in the theme and still make something she would like? I worried over this for a week and a half before I came up with the answer.

Dirt!! Dirt and worms was a favorite Family Home Evening treat at our house. It had chocolate pudding, Oreo crumbs, and whipped cream. Who could say no to that? The day before the party I mixed up a batch of chocolate cream frosting and added black food coloring. With oval cookies we decorated the top to look like a grave yard.

We even buried a skeleton in the "dirt". Paul wrote "Happy Birthday" on the top because "Halfway to six-feet-under" wasn't fitting very well. We set it in the fridge, and it finished setting up while I stirred up the guts for eggrolls, fixed a blueberry bread pudding to be baked for the birthday breakfast, and cooked a dinner for Paul and I. After cleaning up the ridiculous mess that made I just wanted to sit in the living room and enjoy the soft glow emitting from the coffin.

(Oh, that reminds me. We built a coffin. By we, I mostly mean Paul with occasional help from me.) The night before the big day I only had so much time to bask in the coffins purple glow before I had to go to bed. My mother's birthday would begin at 5:20 when I would be waking up. The blueberry bread pudding had to bake for one hour after sitting all night. In order to have it done in time for the school kids and my dad to eat before work it needed to go into the oven at 6:oo am. Once I was awake I gathered what I needed for the day and Paul drove me over. We snook into my parents house and slipped breakfast into the oven. While it baked, people began to trickle into the kitchen from various parts of the house. When my mom finally appeared we bestowed upon her a most precious gift.

It was a pin for her to wear the entire day. It even flashed festively in birthday delight. She proudly showed it off all day until the battery nearly died.

My aunt took us bowling in the morning. On the very first round of turns as I stood back to take pictures, I watched my grandmother step up to the lane. Positioning herself, she raised her ball and rushed toward the throwing point. It might have been the wind position, or it could have been the tacky bowling shoes, but my little grandmother's feet slipped right out from under her. I stood there with my camera in shook. "Are you okay?" I shouted to her, and she rolled over in an attempt to get up.

"Did you get a picture of that?" she shouted back. I ran over to her. While my mind said, "Help her up," my finger said, "You need to get a picture!" My mind rarely wins these types of battles, so I click clicked a couple pictures of the fallen senior citizen as she helped herself up. Smart, Kayla. Thankfully, she didn't appear damaged. Anyway, I got the lowest score at the end of the game. It must have been some sort of punishment for my rude behavior.

This year our gift for mom was an eye exam and contacts. When my parents started up a business in 2005, money got a little tighter. My mom ran out of contacts shortly after that and wasn't able buy more. Having experienced this first hand, I know how hard it is to adjust back to glasses and hope for a day when contacts are a possibility once more. One afternoon, in September I believe, I was staring at my face in the mirror thinking about contacts when I wished I could get some for my mom. The idea seemed well intentioned but I couldn't even buy contacts for myself. How could I get them for her? Amid my musings, I realized that when I received my first pair of contacts my senior year of high school, my mom was wearing glasses. My whole life has been like that. I have watched my mom buy us clothes when she was wearing old hand-me-downs, purchased new shoes when her were just as worn, and she's painted our bedrooms while her walls are still blank. It was our turn to give back. Each child saved and contributed all we could. My dad helped-- so did my grandma. And we had just enough.

We blindfolded her and drove her to Wal-Mart Vision Center where she had her eyes checked and a pair of contacts put in. It felt good being able to get her something that she really wanted.

After lunch and shopping and dinner it was time for desert at my house. Everyone left the house with Paul and I while my dad stalled my mom. We needed a head start so we could get into our positions. With everyone gathered in my dark living room, we waited until it was time to surprise my mom and bequeath her the cane of oldness. It squeaks when you walk with it. Hee hee.

She came the apartment and we held a brief ceremony and then served up desert. Paul and I picked out some trick candles that Mom blew out in one try. We have since sat at dinnertime lighting the candles over and over again trying to get them to relight. Alas. Cheap trick candles.

Mom seemed to have a fun day, which is what we were going for. Mission accomplished.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A child's lament

I've been with Paul for almost a year and a half, but yesterday I had this moment where I felt as though I was really seeing him for the first time. Paul had a test in some crazy accounting class that he had studied for all week. He was feeling comfortable with the material and thinking he would do well. I wanted to make sure he was well fed before he left so I mixed up a batch of whole grain pancakes. As we sat down at the table, Paul cheerfully telling me about his goal for 100% on his test, I buttered my pancake and waited for the prayer. Paul said it. He blessed the food and thanked Heavenly Father for some of our blessings. Before his said amen, he reverently asked for divine assistance for all of his classmates taking the test today-- that they would do well. As the prayer ended I looked at him and his sweet, innocent face. Even though it would make his score look better if others did worse, even though it might insure him top score in the class, he didn't care. He wanted his peers and friends, people he'd studied with and people who he didn't, to do their best too. And that selfless and sweet prayer changed me somehow. I want to be more like that.

Today at church we talked about service in almost every meeting. I led the music in Relief Society and chose "Called to Serve" as the opening hymn. Before the second verse began, our Relief Society President stood up and the rest of the sisters followed. As we stood singing fervently about serving God and others I was touched. It seemed so appropriate somehow that at this Thanksgiving season we would learn to show our gratitude by giving back. What a good sabbath.

But neither of those things are what I originally sat down to write about.

There was a time not as long ago as I'd like to admit where I was a teenager and thought I was a good one at that. I didn't do drugs or get a tattoo or do naughty things with boys. I was on the honor roll and had church callings and participated in nerdy but wholesome things like yearbook and band. And I thought I was a really good teenager.

At the time I felt that my mom's gentle nudges for me to be even better, because she knew I had that potential, was criticism wrapped in parental justification. I wanted her to see me as an equal and leave me alone about the things I wasn't doing perfectly. It stung that she saw my flaws because I was trying so hard to mask them with worldly accomplishment. It all came to a chaotic crash when my mom and I had our first real argument. I shook and cried and even raised my voice. It was ugly but made me conclude that my mom really didn't care what I had to say or what I was feeling. I decided then to only talk when asked a direct question and to give as short of an answer as possible. Almost a week passed and my mom made desperate efforts to speak to me kindly and joke around to make me crack. But I was stubborn and treated her coldly.

Finally, Sunday before church she asked me to come to her room to help her put on a necklace. I did so silently and my mom began to cry. I turned to leave when she called my name. Tears streaming down her face she said, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I want my old Kayla back. I want my happy Kayla back." We hugged and I told her it was okay and I would stop. I felt like my silence had done it's job. I had given her a dose of the misery I was feeling.

I cannot adequately describe the pain I have personally suffered from that event for the past three years. I don't remember what the topic of the argument was that prompted such behavior, and that's what kills me the most. I put my mom through anguish over something so trivial I can't even remember. That woman has stood by my side through every stupid thing I have ever said. She has listened to hours of ridiculous dreams. She has patiently held her tongue for years of "detail oriented-ness" and endured my sassy mouth. And then she gave me everything she had to teach me how to be the best person and. . . and I treated her terribly.

I am so sorry, Mom. If I didn't say it then, I'm saying it now. I am sorry. And thank you for never giving up on that freckle faced little firecracker with a whole lot of attitude and not enough judgement. I love you. Happy birthday!

(More birthday details to come later this week.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fatal Family Home Evening

Family Home Evening is often so bitter sweet. It's forced family fun which usually makes it not so much fun. But I suppose quality time happens because of quantity time, and this allowed for some really amazing experiences to happen because my mom and dad insisted on having Family Home Evening. Embarrassing as it is to admit, we children were not always so willing to participate. My older sister was particularly vocal about her dislike for family activities. That was years ago and it was my assumption that she had grown out of it. However, spending a Monday with me two weeks ago must have brought up some painful memories. You see, she tried to kill me. I made her a promise that night in the adrenaline-based delirium that I would blog about the events that follow. So, in the most detail-oriented manner I must relate the account as untainted as possible. But it won't be pretty.

Our adventure began in the afternoon at 4:00. Janell was getting new glasses and needed someone with a fashion sense to help her pick the perfect frame. Needless to say, I was not her first choice considering I can't even match my socks. I still agreed to go and asked her to join me for FHE while Paul was at study group. It was when I got into her car that I realized her vendetta toward this activity.

Let me give you a background on Janell's car. Janell has a horse. Janell cleans up after her horse, if you know what I mean. Then Janell must drive home to shower after horse poopey clean up. Sometimes Janell's car can have a smell that to a certain degree in the most pleasant way of course, resembles the smell of the object in which she had the privileged of cleaning up after.

However, as much as horse lovers seem to love the smell of their horse, philistines like myself do not always revel in such scents. Aware that this is the case, my sister tries to keep her car infused with a fragrance pleasing for all. Especially little old ladies. Her car smells like lavender granny perfume. As I got in the car, we joked about her air freshener some, but the conversation was cut short by what came next.

She turned her steering wheel away from the curb and her whole car roared this loud and depressing groan. "What was that noise?" I demanded. She shrugged her shoulders and rattled of some car system that need fixed. I've noticed that when your dad knows everything about cars you find yourself repeating what you hear only without any of the background knowledge as to what you are really talking about. But I trusted that if she had been riding around with this problem for sometime and was still alive, then I could live through an afternoon in that car.

Driving down State street was fairly simple. No groans or quick manuvers of any kind. Just me and my sister singing as loud and as off key as we could to Reba. But soon we arrived at Wal-Mart and pulled into a parking place. GrrrrArrrrNNNnnAwWWarrRR!! It was as if the axles were riding a roller coaster: hanging on with all they have but screaming the whole way. My fear made me what to go home and get my car. Annoying as it is to bang on the starter with a hammer to make it go, it at least sounds better. But my mouth took over before anything else, as it usually does.

"Janell, you have got to stop eating so many beans because they are just not sitting well with you." I thought about what I said after I said it and her car did sound like it had a gas problem. (Get it, GAS problem! Ha ha ha! Never mind. . .) But the smell of lavender just didn't coincide with noise. I started feeling disoriented by the conflicting scene. Lavender farts. Eek.

As we continued our errands of the afternoon/evening the groaning only got worse. Our last stop was Costco. We turned into the lot, barely missing a car and then a curb all the while "GrrrrArrrrNNNnnAwWWarrRR" was competing with poor Reba in the background. Through the fancy maneuvers I grabbed on for what I thought might be my last moments of life as Janell cheerfully reminded me of what the eye doctor had said just two hours ago. Her old glasses were on the verge of useless, and she badly needed new ones. I felt so assured riding with my blind sister in a car about to fall apart. I wondered if we should say a prayer. I wondered if I'd ever see that man I love again. I wondered where she bought that cheep lavender air freshener. It was so much wondering that I hoped I might black out and wake up at home.

But I didn't.

But I did live.

And once back in my apartment, Janell and I had a pleasant dinner and movie. Then she groaned off in her car into the darkness leaving me wondering if I had chosen a different day of the week, say a day where she had new glasses, if I might have been just a bit safer.

Janell, it was fun. Let's do it again. I'll drive. ;P

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Six months and loving it!

Sunday was my sixth month anniversary. It's gone by so fast and my gift to him was to give him the afternoon. I didn't blog or read or what ever I do on Sunday afternoons. I just stayed with him. In turn, he cleaned up the kitchen. . . twice! And he helped me cook dinner, and we watched our favorite BBC show. I like that I'm still crazy about that boy. I like how he still makes me smile and wipes my tears. I like how he worries over me when my car won't start.

Sometimes I take a nap on Sunday afternoons and he'll tuck me in. He'll claim he's not tired but will lay with me until I fall asleep. But he falls asleep too. I like sleeping with him. When my feet get cold I can rest them on his warm legs. His feet get cold too and he'll put them on my legs. I let him because he lets me. Lately, we've both had such cold feet so we freeze together. Being cold makes us a little hyper and we end up tickling each other or having pillow fights. He's fun to be with.

I like to text him silly things because he writes back silly things. He gets me through some hard days at work with just a text that says, "I love you." When I'm being too emotional and. . . dramatic (shocker) he is my rock and calms me back down. He seems to have this instinct that tells him when I need advice and when I just need cuddles. I'm thankful for that.

I love how he takes me to the temple. I get carsick from the drive but he never complains or scolds me for forgetting to take my Dramamine. He just holds my hand and drives as smoothly as possible for me. The Celestial room is always so quiet and peaceful, but I often have questions from the session. Paul's never bothered by my whispers and helps me understand. He knows a lot. I'm glad we got married at Timpanogos because each time we go back I think about that day. I just like this guy a whole lot!

I hope I never stop feeling this way. We've agreed to stay newly-weds forever.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween- married style

I know what you are thinking and this is not what it looks like.

Neither is this.

Paul and I had a little fun for Halloween. He was a mad scientist or crazy professor. We parted his hair in the middle and he wore these ridiculous purple glasses that lit up with blinking LED lights. As we searched for pens to adorn his pocket we stumbled across some interesting colors. With his eyes opened wide like that I thought he looked pretty crazy, but having been around many nerds in his life he insisted on adding a couple more things.

He informed me that no nerd is complete without the white socks and black shoes. We did, however, encounter a problem. His pants were too long to allow admirers to gaze upon his geeky footwear. But Paul had one more trick up his sleeves, only it didn't involve his sleeves at all. He started to undo his belt and I was thinking, "No, you can't be Captain Underpants!" He looked at my bewildered expression and smiled while hitching his pants up past his belly button before re-tightening his belt. I smiled too. He really was a genious.

My costume took a little less effort. I was pregnant. What would give me such an idea? From the moment I was married I have been teased at work by my boss. He's always wondering when I'm going to start having babies. At times I have had sore feet or felt feverish or cried because I simply needed a nap, and what is the first thing he assumes? "Kayla?" he says, "Are you pregnant?" All I can do is assure him that I'm not and try to change the subject before he can ask me why I'm not. It doesn't bother me too much.

One afternoon while home by myself I laid on my bed staring at a pile of pillows, and I got an idea. I stood slowly and walked to the purple pillow sitting atop the heap. Looking around the room like a guilty child I proceeded to cram the pillow beneath my undershirt, grateful no one was home to witness this sight. I was impressed at the way the micro-fiber pillow formed to fit so well, and best of all, it looked so smooth. No lumps. I really looked pregnant. I admired my profile, suddenly excited for Halloween. If my boss wanted me pregnant, that's what he'd get.

Convincing enough to make sixteen customers ask me when I was having my baby, I pulled off an entire day of work 'with-child'. Everyone had a good laugh, and I had fun making jokes about it. However, it was hard work. My back hurt from having to bend around my big tummy in ways I was not accustomed. My knees ached from hyperextending as I attempted to compensate for my back. I was hot from all the layers and I started to feel really fat. With my lightweight pillow tucked into my shirt, I began to feel to a small percent what real pregnant women live with all the time. I want to be a mom someday, but waiting for it just got a little bit easier.

This Halloween we continued our tradition of carving pumpkins with our buddy couple. Last year we made a mad cow, and not wanting to deter from the animal theme, Paul and I carved a penguin. I really like carving pumpkins with him because I get to have the experience of scraping out guts, designing a picture, and cutting into the big squash, but when I get tired of it, he can take over. Perfect arrangement.

I'm really looking forward to this holiday season where we can continue to create traditions that help me and Paul feel more like family. When I think of how I am his and he is mine and it will be that way forever I smile. If I ever need to go to Neverland, he is my happy thought.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cake a little on the Dark Side

With Fall's appearance and the holidays just around the corner my hands have been awfully itchy, which only means one thing: I need to bake! I recently ordered some decorating tools from Pampered Chef, using one of the last unused wedding gift certificates. Being a budding cake decorator I thought it was time I got my own set of icing bags and tips. I was ecstatic when they arrived but didn't use them right away. I always wait for a reason to bake cake so I'm not left to eat it all. When I found there were two October birthdays in the Sunday school class Paul and I teach, and when lotion wouldn't sooth the itching in my hands, I knew it was time to break out the cake mix and food coloring. Since Halloween is this week Jack-o-lanterns seemed to be a good design. How hard could that be?


(Click for a closer look. . . if you dare!)
I am not as gifted with a piping bag as I thought I would be. Clearly. So I only decorated three cupcakes with faces and the leftover nine had to settle for plain orange frosting. I seemed to be pretty good at a plain orange swirl thankfully. But I was tired of cup cakes and still had half of my cake batter. I poured it in my one round cake pan and tossed it in the oven.

Since I live at a high elevation I decided to try the high elevation settings on the box (trying to avoid this again). Because the cake was chocolate it didn't look burt, but it was. The edge was dry and crusty and tasted like the peice of cereal you find on an occasion that's completely black and you think to yourself, "Don't put that in your mouth!" and you do anyway only to regret it considering it tastes like something you'd pull out of the bottom of a grill. Yeah, it tasted mildly like that. And although I greased and floured the cake pan, it still got stuck and came out in two rather misshapen pieces. Much to my surprise, it was relatively flat and pretty on top.

That poor cake, that had already gone through so much in the oven and cooling rack, would become a test cake for all newly delivered decorating tips, bags, and ideas we'd been gathering. And we went to town.
Paul tried to use up all of the remaining frosting as creatively as he could, and I had some fun with it as well. We tried basket weaves, stars, writing, patterns, and were so proud of our festive creation we decided to try something else we've never done before: cinematography.



Credits

Director - Kayla

Writer - Kayla

Cast
(in order of appearance)
Paul - himself
Cake - itself

Voice Work - Kayla

Produced By - Paul

Original music by - John Williams

Editing - The Camera

Art Direction -Paul

Set Decoration - Kayla

Costume Design - (. . .)

Makeup Department - Kayla

Production Management -Paul

Second unit director -Paul

Sound department - Harvey the Laptop

Visual effects - Paul

Stunts - Paul

camera & electrical department - Kayla

casting department - Kayla

costume & wardrobe department - Paul

Music department - Kayla

Transportation - Paul


Wallah!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What to say about death?

The past two weeks I have heard of three deaths that have happened in my current ward or in my home ward across town. I admit, I find myself a bit shaken up and thinking about it often. But my thoughts on death began before that. One Sunday evening my family gathered at my parents house to celebrate my father's birthday. Paul and I arrived early, took my uncle to the airport, and still returned before the rest of the extended relatives came. With time to burn, Dad asked if I wanted to swing with him in the backyard. As we drifted back and forth in the metal porch swing and my Sunday heals drilled holes in the dirt my dad mentioned a book he'd been reading about near death experiences. He remembered stories where people died, vital signs failed, but they came back to life moments later. And in those moments they were given a choice. Nie nie relates her experience while in a coma from a devastating plain crash: "[I was] with somebody who told me that I could choose to live and have a hard life, you know, embarrassing at times and painful. Or, I could just stay there, and there's lots of work I could do there too."

I know a big part of why we're here is to make choices. We fought a war for agency long ago. Satan would have the world fear death. He makes it seem to final, painful, and dark. He wouldn't want God's children knowing that we have choice in that as well. He wants us to feel as powerless as possible. For me, knowing people have been given a choice only strengthened my testimony of the principle of moral agency and the power that comes with righteous choices. And I have to express my admiration for those who have chose to stay because I simply don't know if I could make that choice in the condition they were in.

But then I heard of a death on Friday that shook me to the core. I can't describe the confusion I felt by the loss of my new theory of choice and death. I don't think that 32 year old father of six beautiful girls and one gorgeous wife would choose to leave them. We must not always get a choice in death. . . maybe getting a choice is the exception. I was frustrated that I couldn't explain to myself what had happened. I just didn't understand. I still don't.

But I know one thing: the peace the Lord brought me in all my musings was sweet and real. The confirmation he gave to me that temple marriage is eternal was powerful and calming. Because Christ atoned for our sins, hung on the cross, and raised from the tomb we, too, can overcome death and be with our loved ones again. Sometimes, that's all we need to know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good gravy!

If you were to peek through my front window at about five o'clock this evening, my, what a sight you'd have seen. Paul texted me at about four to tell me he'd be home early and I was a picture of delight. I plopped the roast in the oven with a smattering of carrots and onions before starting the gravy. Let me modify that last statement: before attempting to start the gravy. There was just one kink in the hose. I could not open the bouillon. Usually, this particular task falls upon my dear husband because he is very strong and I am. . . not. But Paul was still at school, and I needed to make a delicious beef gravy! So I tried to open the jar on my own. The lid would not budge. I tapped it ever so lightly on the corner of the counter. Someone once told me if you tap the sealed part of a jar on the counter it miraculously makes it easier to open. The logic of this somehow alludes me but I thought I would give it a shot. I tapped and twisted and tapped and twisted and grunted and twisted and tapped once more. The jar was not coming open.

I retreated to the office where I could search through the tool drawer. I knew of something that might help and the yellow grippy glove I sought was there, dropped lazily over a screw driver and an old extension cord. I picked it up with my left hand, my cheeks pulling the corners of my mouth up into a broad smile. On the back of the glove it read, "MEGA GRIP", which was precisely what I needed. I slipped the glove on and twisted and twisted. I ran to the living room and sat down on the couch for leverage. I continued my prehistoric grunting and my face wrinkled up into a freckled mess. I lopped over onto the floor and twisted some more. I kept telling myself that if I just kept twisting, the lid would eventually come loose. My hands started to hurt and the excess blood pulsing through my cranium was making me dizzy. I set the jar on the carpet angrily and pressed my chin on the floor level with my new nemesis, glaring profusely. I studied the lid and with desperate eyes began to recite a poem.

Lefty loosey,
Righty tighty.

Noooo! I was twisting righty tighty! How would I ever get the lid off now? I ran back to the kitchen. Tap tap tap!! Tap!! I twisted and twisted. With the bright yellow glove on my hand, Michael Jackson style, I twisted some more. I sat down on the couch for leverage, flopped over to the floor, twisted, grunted, squirmed, cried, and twisted of course. I sat the jar in front of me again. I was defeated. . . defeated by an eight ounce jar half full of beef bouillon. I would just have to wait until that man I love returned home to start gravy. But then my mind carried me to a place that is never safe to go. I once read a book called The Outsiders where a gang member broke the top off a coke bottle and used the sharp edge to fight. I had no intention of fighting with my bouillon jar but maybe I could break the top off on the concrete steps outside. . . or maybe not. Maybe I could wait for Paul.

I pick up the jar and walked to the fridge and decided to try once more. I half-heartedly turned the lid to the left and. . . POP! It opened! AHHH! All it took was my gentle twist and off it came. I starred at the lid in my hand with such confusion. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But I did neither. Paul would be home any minute, I needed to make gravy, and I had no time to loose.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A picture is worth a thousand words

I was reading the Ensign for this month and it had an article about blogging. It instructed bloggers to not be too long winded . . . But I'm not a blogger, I'm a writer, and therefore need excluded from that instruction. However, to be fair to bloggers everywhere I thought I'd try it out. So here are some pictures of why I love food with minimal caption.

It's looks good to me!

It's fun to play with.

It can take on many shapes.

It smells great. Especially after sitting all day. :)


It sounds so appetizing and mouth watering.

It tastes delicious and can be shared with people you love.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

With hair disheveled . . .

My blog used to be titled "Feeling Berry." It was a little twist on my new name, and I thought it would clever. I had heard a little about the blogging world and was under the distinct impression that you had to have a cutsie name and theme. I thought you had to have some code name for your spouse like Mr. L or B-Honey. I posted two posts "feeling berry something" as my title and hated it. It wasn't me. Sometimes I didn't really know how I was feeling, but I knew I wasn't quite feeling like a "Berry".

My life was changing a lot. That road I had pictured before me for so long was drifting from my vision as I began to realize it would never be. I felt as though the 'me' that I knew was withering and I needed an escape somewhere I could revisit that old girl and those old dreams. I needed something to do to keep my mind from sinking into depression. I began writing. It was always something I enjoyed, and it let me open up. To express more fully what I was really feeling though, I needed more freedom than my limited theme allowed. To make the blog truly mine I had to rename it.

"With Hair Disheveled" was a short story I began writing shortly after graduating high school. It's title was derived from the description of the main character who was anything but extraordinary, with no great destiny to fulfill, and was, well, frumpy. My goal was to write about a real person with no happy ending. But I never finished the story. As I gained a greater understanding of the gospel of Christ and shook off the last dregs of my teenage angst I realized that if we keep the commandments, seek forgiveness through repentance, and endure to the end there will be a happy ending-- if maybe not in this life then surely the next-- because as children of Deity we do have a great destiny to fulfill.

My sister came over tonight to have dinner with me and Paul, and I didn't clean up special for her visit. I thought about it. I wanted everything to look perfect when she came and for her to be impressed by my amazing decorating and cooking and and homemaking skills. I wanted her to see how happy and put-together I was. But I'm not perfect, and it's hard pretending to be when I'm fooling no one. Sometimes it's okay if someone comes over and my cookbooks are sitting on the couch from menu making, and my heart won't stop beating if they see we didn't make our bed this morning, and the world will not stop turning if dishes are in the sink unwashed when company arrives.

My dinners are not perfectly cooked, my house is not always spotless, and I will not always have a job I love or be able to afford school when I want because my life is not those fantasy books I read. Everything will not always go according to my plan. But I'm still going to be okay. My disheveled hair and unvacuumed floor won't last forever, but they remind me to be a little better everyday and to just keep swimming because this, too, shall pass.

Neal A. Maxwell once said, "As part of his infinite atonement, Jesus . . . has Borne the sins, griefs, sorrows. . . and pains of every man, woman, and child. Having been perfected in his empathy, Jesus thus knows how to succor us . . . Nothing is beyond his redeeming reach or His encircling empathy. Therefore, we should not complain about our own life's not being a rose garden when we remember who wore the crown of thorns!"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cake Decorating 201


Some may tell you I have a one track mind. This could be true. . . actually, it is very likely true. Two weeks ago as I stood in the Target backing aisle looking for yeast I happen to glance at a sale sign for food coloring and, overcome with pure joy, I shouted, "Lego cake!" Paul let me get it. He knew there would be no living with me till it was in my possession.

Now, all I needed was a few tips on how to make my lego cake art and an occasion for which to make it. Two words. Dad's birthday. How selfless of me to plead with my mother to allow me to show up to the birthday dinner with a dessert for my 52 year old father that resembles a child's toy. But she agreed to it nevertheless, and I was instantly online googling tips for making lego cakes. And in my great researching efforts I stumbled across a video tutorial on perfect lego cake-making. "It's so so easy!" They kept saying as they effortlessly frosted their most beautiful creation, and I dreamed of what mine might look like.

Tuesday morning I began the baking process. The cake was double chocolate and I put it in the freezer after it came out of the oven. The video said this would make it easier to cut and frost and who was I to argue? I left it there for an hour and then pulled it out. It felt cold. The precipitation that had formed on the plastic wrap from the cakes original warmth was frozen into small streaks across the surface. I called Paul into the kitchen for the main event. He is my su chief. I gave him the honor of cutting the cake because he is a boy and boys like knives.


The video said to do a "crumb coat" which they explained was a thin coat of frosting to seal in the crumbs. I think from my new found experience I would define it a little differently. A "crumb coat" is a thin coat frosting applied to the cake that allows any access crumbs to come off and get mixed in with your frosting and eventually travel to the untainted frosting in a bowl via frosting utensil. Don't let anyone try to trick you into believing that other definition.


So after I "crumb coated" each block, Paul gave them their final "beauty coat" while I worked on the raised bumps. Originally, I thought I would use cookies for this effect but the online video said they used marshmallows cut in half. This being a much cheaper alternative I thought, 'The masters know best!" What the so-called "masters" don't tell you is that it is nearly impossible to find a bag of unsmashed marshmallows at Macey's on a Monday afternoon during the caselot sale. This did not discourage me too much because I bought them anyway. But frosting them was a whole other story.

The video said to cut them in half with greased scissors and stab them in the side. Frost all you can (minus the part that has a fork sticking out of it) and once it's smooth slip it on to the cake where you will touch up the stabbed side. I tried this. I wondered what these women were thinking. I wondered why they didn't try stabbing it through the bottom which didn't need frosted anyway to eliminate the need to have to touch up the side at all. I wondered if they gave stupidly difficult instructions on purpose so no one could make a lego cake that compared to theirs. I wondered if they were on crack. Problems continued to arise as I frosted those marshmallows. You see, marshmallows are very sticky. The manufacturers put a coating on them that is powdery to keep them from sticking to each other. This coating is frosting resistant too.



For an hour and forty-five minutes Paul and I attempted to turn those little blocks of frozen cake into the smooth-looking deserts that I saw all over the internet. But they just kept crumbling and shifting and not accepting the delicious butter cream frosting that I may have got a little too cold in the fridge earlier that morning. By the end of that hour and forty-five minutes, with sore backs from being hunched over our labors and aching carpals from the delicate and detailed work we just endured, we decided it was time to stop. The cake was good enough. I looked around my kitchen and marveled at the amount of dishes we had dirtied and wondered how I would fit every utensil in the house in that little dish drainer.

I later asked Paul what he will say if I ever suggest making a Lego cake again. "No," he said. "No."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Daddy’s hands

I have mentioned my mother a lot in my blog. After all, she taught me most everything I know, but this week is the birthday of another person who taught me a few good lessons himself.

My dad is a mechanic and not because he loves the smell of gasoline and the roar of a broken muffler. It’s because he’s good at it. Ever since he was young he was taking apart and tuning up almost anything with wheels. Wagons, bicycles, motorbikes, full-blown motorcycles, cars, vans, trucks, you name it. I don’t think it took him long to discover that in his hands broken things became fixed. Still today, Fords destined for salvage become freeway material, Chevys are taken off blocks, and little Toyotas are transformed into chariots for poor college students. And he doesn’t love it. In fact, it’s hard. As his body ages crawling under a dash turns out to be more challenging with the decreased flexibility. Kneeling at tires dirties his aching knees. Hours of bending over engines causes much soreness in his back. He’s worked for bosses he didn’t like and with coworkers he found difficult. He’s spent hours busting his knuckles on rusted bolts and cutting his palms on sharp metal corners only to bring home no paycheck. But he always goes back. Every morning for my entire life he’s pulled on his stained uniforms, packed his lunch and set off for another day doing something hard that he doesn’t want to do because he loves his family that much.

Lesson 1: Life is about doing things that are hard that you don’t want to do. That’s what makes us stronger. . . like the calluses on my dad’s palms. The more we’re rubbed, the tougher we become.

My dad loves Looney Tunes. From boyhood to manhood he has never grown tired of Elmer Fudd looking for that “wascally wabbit” or Marvin’s quest to remove Earth from his view of Venus. My family would be gathered at the table eating some delicious meal and Dad would do some Looney Tune impressions for us. Sometimes he’d show us clips of his favorite episodes on youtube. I think we all love them because he does—because they make him smile, so we smile. One of my favorite memories of him was bedtime. He would tuck me in, take my favorite teddy bear and in his high, happy sing-song voice say, “Can I sleep with you tonight?” I would grab Teddy from him and just giggle. I liked his silly voices. For a short time, when we first moved to Utah, my dad would drive my brother, sister, and I up to Lehi everyday for school. He had an old cassette of Bill Engvall’s cleaner material and we loved listening to it. My dad would just laugh and laugh. I like his laugh. I love how his shoulders fall up and down as he chuckles.

Lesson 2: Even when times get hard, stay happy. Laugh with the people you love most.

There were times, especially in high school where I would come home and break down. Life was over for whatever trivial reason and I wanted some sympathy. Sometimes Dad gave it, and sometimes he didn’t. Most of the time he didn’t. He would sit me down and tell me that life isn’t high school, then he would ask me a question: “Is griping about it going to get you a better grade on the test?” or “Is standing here complaining going to help you do well in chair auditions?” I hated those questions because I knew he was right. I needed to just dive in and practice and study.

I also was overeager to grow up just a little bit faster. When I was three I wanted to be in school, and when I was in grade school I wanted to be in junior high, and so on. There was such difficulty for me to just live in the moment. But my dad has always just been in life while it was happening. So often it was him that grabbed my little kite tails and pulled me back to earth where I was needed. He knew wishing away my present wouldn’t bring the phenomenal future of my dreams. I wish I understood it then like I’m learning it now.

Lesson 3: There is a time and a place for everything—even drama (detail oriented-ness). Sometimes it’s just time to work.

My parents have a long mirror in there room. It’s the only one in the house so if vanity permits and one has to see what an entire outfit looks like, that is the place to go. And sad to say, I ventured there more often then I’d like to admit. I can remember more than one occasion of walking in my parent’s room to determine my “lump factor” only to catch my dad on his knees. He prays a lot. It is my Heavenly Father’s will that he sought when he moved my family to this valley. It was the Lord who he went to when decided to start a business. He has led us in morning family prayer for as long as I can remember; it was him who so often knew, without me saying anything of how sad I felt, that I needed to give the prayer.

Lesson 4: “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror.”(2 Nephi 32:9) And teach by example.

Happy birthday, Dad! Thanks for letting me watch you for twenty years. Thanks for loving me unconditionally. And thanks for your patience. I love you!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Can I interest you?

Paul’s school schedule is predominately in the evening . . . which I hate because it means I spend a majority of my afternoons home alone. Upfront, I didn’t think it would be an issue. Being home alone has great advantages. I can turn on my silly girl music, dance around in my underwear, sing at escalating volumes, and there are no witnesses. However, after doing that for five afternoons in a row I was ready to move on to a different hobby. Unable to find one quite so entertaining I’ve trained myself to clean, cook, and nap, which as you can imagine took far less time to get old then my afternoon interpretive dance sessions. But no matter what I fill my afternoons with, mostly I just feel lonely and miss that man I love. When Paul is home I have someone to talk to and a partner in crime on my dessert making adventures when Monday night FHE permits.

Tuesday was one if these lonely afternoons were I cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed the carpet, worked on my cookbook project, and prepared some rather soupy homemade macaroni and cheese. I put a in a movie to play in the background, and when I had a free moment I could stop and watch. It was during one of these slow moments when a knock came to the door. I answered. It was door-to-door salesmen. Smart door-to-door salesmen.

And when I say smart I don’t mean it in the sense that they were knowledgeable about their product, or highly educated. What I meant was crafty. I have a no soliciting sign on my door. It is not faded like the house numbers or smudged or handwritten. It is an official laminated plaque with bolded words, and for the illiterate there is a picture of a little man with a briefcase circled and crossed out. Yet I’ve had three sales representatives come to my door in the four months I lived here, and they all try the same trick.

[knock knock] I open the door. The sales people smile. “I’m so sorry,” they say. “I didn’t see your sign.” Thinking of dear Bill Engvall I resist saying, “That makes two of us.” Instead I give them some nonchalant words to excuse their grievous error but before I can finish my sentence a flyer is shoved into my hands. “But you can take this if you want and, I mean, if you don’t want it you can give it to a friend. Hey what kind of cable service do you got?” I open my mouth to reply but—“because we’re here on behalf of DirectTV and we’d love to hook you up with a greater deal than whatever your paying.” I tell him we are paying nothing, that we don’t have television, and if he can give us a better deal than free, like a monthly check to take his services, I’d sign up. They look a little nervous, I bid them good day, and I shut the door.

No kidding, I think they are teaching this method in annoying sales people schools, which apparently Comcast and DirectTV and all-purpose cleaner companies require all their employees to attend. The teacher stands in front of a class, re-slicks his comb-over, and leans forward. “Class,” he hollers. “I’m going to give you the trick to successfully working your way around a ‘no soliciting sign’.” The students lean in, anticipation dripping from their open mouths. The instructor hitches up his pants “The key is to walk up to a door and ring the doorbell as fast as humanly possible, then look around to see if there’s a sign. If there is one you can’t leave because you already rang the doorbell and doorbell ditching is rude. So wait till they answer the door. Apologize for not seeing the sign, and before they have time say goodbye you throw out a pitch faster than Billy Mays.”

Now, I’ve fallen for this three times and I think I know what my problem is. I have two actually. The first is I keep answering the door. In my defense, I’m new in the ward, I still don’t know a lot of people, and unless these men have matching shirts and logos plastered to ball caps, which none of them have, looking out my window I can’t tell salesmen from home teachers. So I just keep answering the door.

The second problem I have is I’m a girl and an English enthusiast which means in the simplest terms: I can’t say anything in just two words. If my husband answered the door and the salesmen apologize for not seeing the sign he would say, “Okay, bye.” And he’d shut the door. But I don’t do that! They apologize and it’s like I have this need to put their guilt to ease or it is transferred to me somehow. So I say something like this: “Oh, guys! It’s okay. I know how that feels because this one time I was trying to raise money for the school band and I went to this house to ask if they wanted to pledge for a carwash and they had a sign and I didn’t realize and I just started shaking because I didn’t know what to do. . .” And I my mouth just won’t stop. This gives them plenty of time for flyer shoving and an interruption followed by the beginnings of a pitch.

I’m caught in this vicious cycle that will never end because I can’t just stop being a girl, and I can’t change my prose-like mindset. I suppose I should just make peace with the idea that I will argue with door-to-door salesmen for the rest of my life.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Setting the record straight

There is a rumor about me. I suppose it’s been circulating ever since I’ve existed. From the moment I opened my little mouth to say my first word there has been this rumor that I am dramatic. I’d like to lay this rumor to rest once and for all. I am absolutely, without a doubt, one billion percent sure that I am most certainly not, under any circumstance, even amidst the trials of this torturesome and at times pleasant earthly life, dramatic. I am detail oriented. That’s all.

Let me expound on this. If I were to tell you about a certain customer I assisted in my checkout line today it might go something like this:

It was 1:48 in the afternoon. I remember the time because I looked at the clock on my register and acknowledged that slight annoyance I feel that it is two minutes behind my watch. A day goes by so much slower when I look at my watch and two minutes later glance at my computer screen only to see the same time blaring back at me. I also recall the time because four added to eight equals twelve for which one is the first number. Hence 1:48. And it was at this 1:48 that SHE came through my line. I know this customer by name for she is a regular and I would add the name to the story because it suits her quite well except it makes me shutter to even type it, and I can’t have my poor husband thinking I have turrets syndrome due to the multiple times I would have to type it. So, for the sake of the story I’ll call her Miss T.

Miss T strolled up to my register and gave her usually half smile half grimace. I inhaled deeply anticipating a transaction requiring much patience. She slipped in behind her shopping cart and began loading the belt.

“Hi! How are you today?” I said in my best ‘fake-happy’ tone. She looked at me and with her nasally voice told me she was good, holding the ‘oo’ out far longer than any person usually would. “Do you have a Preferred Customer Card with you today?” I added as I began to swipe the first items.

“I doooo. “ She replied and handed me the object in question. I scanned it and smoothly handed it back to her. I looked down at the belt and all appeared normal, and I felt confident that the transaction would be over without any mishaps. It was when I was ringing in her lemon that I realized she was reaching into her cart for something else. Here we go. Bring it on. Miss T laid a fist full of wrappers on the belt. “I need to pay for theeese tooooo.” I picked up the first—an empty yogurt cup and spoon—and scanned it. The second wrapper, which had once been home to a protein bar, was quite wadded up, and as I tried to restore it to its original state so I could find the bar code crumbs began falling out of it. The third wrapper was wet from what I can only assume to be yogurt, and the forth was a can of empty soda, dark red lipstick framing the hole from which Miss T drank. Ew. One by one, I placed them over my scanner and then threw them away below me.

I gave her another fake smile. “Is this everything for you today?” She hesitated and stared longingly at her cart that still carried items not yet purchased. Then came the onslaught I had been waiting for.

“Weeell, I don’t think I can get this caaan, but I want this cat fooood. Wait, just one cat fooood, I don’t want the otheeeer. Aaaand I don’t want thiiiis one but can you just tell me the price on thiiiis one? Okay, yeah. . . I don’t want that one either. And maybe I want one of theeeeese but not the other threeee. What’s my totaaal?”

Panting I tell her the number.

“Okaaaay. Then I don’t think I want this baaaar, but I do want this rice. Actually, could we pour this rice in another baaaag? I don’t thing I want aaaaall of it. Then I have this yogurt but I don’t think I’m going to geeeet it. And actually, I think I wiiiill take that bar after aaaaall. And then I don’t think I’ll get the rest of theeese.” She proceeds to empty her shopping cart with the reminder of the items she couldn’t afford. I started getting creative finding places to stuff the rejected things because my cubby designated for “go-backs” was full. A line was forming behind her and she pulled out her checkbook. Oi. “What’s the daaate?”

When Miss. T was finally completely checked out and the line had been taken care of, I unloaded four days worth of groceries off my register into a handheld basket (brimming full) to be redistributed around the store.

A less detail-oriented person might tell this same story like this: “I had this lady come in today who bothered me and couldn’t buy everything in her cart. I hated it.” Which is fine. And even if they pronounced each word imitating Jim Carrey, that simple tale wouldn’t be deemed dramatic. And my story laced with rich descriptions included purely for the recipients benefit, allowing them to relate almost as if they were there, would be called dramatic (even if it was read by a monotone man named Barry). I don’t think including details is dramatic. (i.e. side-effects of medicines. Not dramatic. Meticulous facts that are important to know.) That's all I'm doing. Therefore, I am not dramatic. I am perceptive, and the fact that I can recall so much should speak volumes for my memory.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shoes, sandwiches, and a leftover dish

I’ve lived with boys before; I have two brothers, and from this I have learned that if they take a leftover dish anywhere you will never see it again. This has been an undisputable fact at my parent’s house ever since the eldest son got his first job. Knowing that men have this pattern I have accepted it without much thought. Naturally, when Paul went off to do temp work this last week I sent him off with some chili and waved goodbye forever to the plastic container in his hand. But when I arrived home from work I was startled by the sight of that dish with its blue lid rinsed off and sitting in the sink. This is not normal man behavior. I shrugged it off as a fluke, and when the next day arrived I once again filled a plastic dish I knew I’d never see again with chili and kissed that man I love on his way out the door.

I get off work at 3:30 and took my time on the walk home. The weather was good and I was enjoying listening to Taylor Swift on my ipod. I’ve been on a bit of a country kick this week. I walked up the stairs to the apartment and unlocked the dead bolt. The door swung open and the first thing I notice is that same dish by the sink. Two days in a row. I felt slightly haunted and impressed at the same time. This was going against everything I had been taught since I was fourteen years old! Third time’s a charm, I thought and waited to see if tomorrow would bring about the same results. I was not to be disappointed because day number three, after five hours of work and seven hours of class, he still remembered. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that either there is something wrong with my husband’s ability to function like a normal man, or that all guys cannot be judged by ‘brother standards’. Although, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

On a more serious note: this week was a week of many blessings. For a long time I have not had a good pair of tennis shoes. I walk a lot more now and the holes that already graced every surface of my existing sneakers have only gotten worse. Every day when I get home I examine the dirty spots on my socks that are being exposed to the elements. But at least the shoes still have soles (that’s what I’ve been telling myself every time I drive by the Payless or Famous Footwear). But fall is coming, and after fall is winter and imaging the walk to work with soggy feet wet from snow is not very pleasant. Today I received a call from the Relief Society President in my ward that happens to be the same shoe size as me, with slightly wide feet like mine, and coincidently has a pair of sneakers that she no longer needs. How did she know that I needed them? I’m not sure, possibly a lady I visit teach told. But I’m just grateful. They fit nicely and there are no holes. It’s nice to know that I’m being looked after.

Monday night I made a large pot of chili because I thought, “we could save on groceries and eat something with chili on it every night.” We had chili and cornbread, chili-topped baked potatoes, Navajo tacos, and chili on rice. But after eating chili for two meals every day, I started to tire of the bean concoction. Friday night I had an old friend visit and when I invited her to stay and have dinner with us she insisted on taking us out to eat. Perhaps it was her fear of my cooking or maybe it was divine inspiration— I couldn’t eat another bite of that soup that day—or whatever it was, I am filled with gratitude for Angela and Arby’s roast beef sandwiches.

These were two little things, shoes and sandwiches, but I was very touched by these women and how in tune they are with the spirit. But I had another thought. These were both things that I was too embarrassed to ask Father for when I prayed. I figured that it would somehow be ungrateful of me to ask for shoes when mine still had laces or to ask for a night out to eat with a gallon of chili still in the fridge. But the Lord knew what I desired and needed and sent angels to watch over me. This reminds me of the First Vision when Heavenly Father and Jesus appeared to the boy Joseph and called him by name. I wish I had language eloquent enough to describe what joy it brings me that my Creator knows my name. He knows my personality, my quirks, my weaknesses, and he loves me still . . . and he blesses me still.