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.