Sunday, January 31, 2010


Paul and I just had a very interesting conversation that went something like this:

Paul:  Do you want to nap?
Me:  No, I want to blog, but I don't know what to blog about so I'm avoiding it.
Paul:  Then blog about napping.
Me in my whiniest baby voice: I don't want to blog about napping!!

But this short conversation did inspire me.  Why not blog about napping?  We all do it, don't we?

When I was just a young little person I use to come home from preschool and watch Mr. Rogers.  That guy didn't have the market cornered on excitement.  I'm going to be honest and just put that out there.  But he was perfect napping material.  I am older now, Mr. Rogers doesn't play on my television every afternoon, and I don't nap every day anymore.

But I do brush my teeth every day.  Dental hygiene is important because you only get one set of teeth and they need to last for your entire life.  Well, actually. . . you get two sets of teeth but the first set falls out about as fast as it came in.  Unless you are me.  It took me forever to loose my first baby tooth and to this day I still have a couple left.

Speaking of left, have you ever noticed that more men are left handed then women?  I spend thirty hours a week watching men and women sign receipts only to notice that the majority of left-handed people are male.  My dad and my husband are both left handed, but so is my aunt Beverly (and she's not a man).

I'm not a man either.  The cramps I've been feeling for the past two days have been reminding me constantly.  Yesterday a coworker of mine said if I got pregnant I would be done with cramps.  She's never been pregnant before, I can tell.  I gently reminded her that, sure, menstrual craps wouldn't come but a whole slew of other pains, aches, pukes, swellings, hemorrhoids, and other pregnancy symptoms would occur.  She laughed like that was funny but that's because she's never been pregnant.

Neither have I, but I have had many pregnant friends.  And by many I mostly mean two, but they were vocal about it.  Two can seem like a lot sometimes.  Think how hard typing would be if you lost two fingers?  Or maybe two hands.  How do you type without two hands?  Two is seeming bigger by the minute.

Minutes aren't the best measurement of time.  Depending on the activity they can feel longer or shorter.  Ten minutes of working on the cash register with a little old man who only has one check left and keeps writing the total wrong because his hearing aid is buzzing in his pocket and not in his ear feels like an eternity compared to ten minutes bowling with your favorite person.

My favorite person is Paul.  He keeps me warm when the temperature in our apartment drops below sixty-five in the middle of the night.  I wake up a lot in the middle of the night.  Especially lately.  My mind doesn't seem to settle long enough for me to rest.

Cereal settles when it's transported which is why most product is packaged and sold by weight.  All the same, I feel slightly ripped off when I open a box of corn flakes that is only half full.  Not to mention that a bowl of crumbs isn't nearly as filling.  It must move through too quickly because it's too easy to digest when it's already so broken down.

Speaking of digest, 'Reader's Digest' just sent us a second copy of the December issue this last week.  That doesn't make any sense.  No one cares anymore what the mall Santa won't tell you or what to bring to the Hanukkah party.  Why do they keep sending it to me?  I have questions a 'Reader's Digest' can only answer like what kind of Valentine jokes are they making on base?  Or how does chocolate affect my ability to function in an office setting?  These questions must go unanswered for now because I have to read about all the different meanings of words like frankincense and wassail.

Don't get me wrong, learning new words is important.  In fact, learning is important which is why I'm reapplying to BYU after my year-long break.  I'm hoping to obtain a much-needed grant.  It was much-needed last year too, but I wasn't poor enough or married enough for the government to be satisfied.  I shouldn't have a problem this year because I am completely married and completely poor.  And I did it all for government approval.  Heh heh. . . just kidding!

I could go on about kidding and the damage it can do when done poorly, but that would veer me off the topic that I really want to address and that is. . . what was I addressing. . .?  *Scrolling back up*  Napping!  That's right, napping!  But I don't want to blog about napping. . .

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cake Decorating 301

The first cake I sat out to make as a married old lady looked dazzling in my mind.  It's Lego-ie goodness would set a precedent for every cake made thereafter.  However, my first "Lego" cake never reached it's dream of being a Lego cake and settled for a snow mountain instead.  After that followed a host of other cakes which taught me a very valuable lesson.  I can't make cakes.  This thought was unsettling. I had to prove that I could make something beautiful, just maybe not with frosting.  So, I began digging through fondant recipes and tutorials to see if it was something I could do.  Paul started getting suspicious. "Why do you want to do fondant so bad," he asked one day while I was shuffling through fondant images on Google.  I don't recall what I answered but it was something noncommittal.  He was, after all, interrupting some deep thoughts.

Remember this?  That was ancient history and I'm talking Stonehenge kind of ancient.  I was determined to never again make such juvenile mistakes.  I learned that the key to making the perfect cake is to make it at my mom's house.  She actually owns two round cake pans and an oven with slightly more accurate temperatures.  So, I started my Tuesday morning by gathering pre-purchased ingredients in a Wal-Mart sack and driving across Orem.

I baked my cakes until a toothpick came out clean and not a minute more. That kept me from repeating this.  The round pans were lined with wax paper and cooking spray and flour to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Too much?  Absolutely not.  It worked.  The cakes came out effortlessly and beautifully. I laid them out to cool and began preparing some butter cream frosting which I used to stick my layers together.  So far so good.

The next step was to crumb coat.  I have no fond memories of crumb coating, but  this crumb coat would be covered by, what I hoped would be, beautiful fondant, so I didn't think I needed to spend sleepless nights worrying about it.  And wouldn't you know it.  The most beautifully smooth frosting that I ever spread on a cake had to be covered up.  Oh well.  Here's a picture to document the occasion.

I rolled out my fondant before realizing I hadn't colored it. And I wanted it it colored.  One internet tutorial said to color fondant after it was a dough.  However, this takes about twenty minutes of kneading in order to get a solid color.  That was the hardest part.  The main blue fondant I left just slightly swirly because it was pretty.  Rolling out the fondant again I picked it up and laid it on the cake.  Then I started hyperventilating.  I had never gotten that far in a cake making process without an egregious mistake, and I was waiting for a catastrophe.

I trimmed off the excess fondant. . .

and smoothed down the sides. . .

and trimmed some more.

My mom oohed and aahed at the smoothness.  My confidence was growing by the minute.  Maybe I could make a cake.

I added a border and smoothed it with a rice paddle.  Most tutorial artists that I went to for guidance had fondant paddles.  I couldn't afford such a thing, but this rice server worked really well.

I added circles cut with biscuit cutters.

I was satisfied with the effect but didn't feel done decorating.  It was like going to a theme park as a child and being told it's time to go home when you still have rides to experience.  Just one more ride, Mom!!

So I added a bow, completing my analogous color scheme.

And waa laah!  My beautiful marshmallow fondant, mistake-free cake.
Paul's birthday is in two weeks and you can bet I'm using fondant instead of frosting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Good news!

Boy oh boy, am I glad I'm a woman (although, this is debatable once a month). This feeling isn't a recent developmental. I remember watching my dad crawl under our home in Southern Illinois where it was dark, dirty, claustrophobic, and spider-infested. . . all things I'm very much afraid of.  But he did it because he was the man. Now, in the shadow of the mountains in Utah he climbs up tall ladders and ventures out onto the roof to do swap cooler maintenance and repairs. I joined him once and because my imagination is so vivid, I watched a scene play out in my head where I fell off the tall. . .very tall. . . felt-taller-by-the-minute roof and (in slow motion, of course) drifted closer and closer to the pavement. The initial hit caused my head to explode. Because this seemed like such a real possibility to my fifth grade imagination I am happy to say that thanks to my dad I've never had to return to the roof again. See, men do the yucky jobs for which I'm very thankful.

But the past six months I learned much about another typical man thing that I don't want to do. Provide. Whoa. When Paul got laid off this summer I immediately urged him to start looking for jobs aggressively. I didn't think we'd survive on my income alone and, to be quite honest, I didn't want to. I wanted to be able to pay for my schooling and buy a washer and dryer and save up money for an eventual baby. Paul began applying. Although he was called in for several job interviews, he wasn't getting any calls back.  He signed up to do temporary work with a service in Provo and waited for an assignment. I kept pressuring him to keep looking but as his semester of school began his search for work ended. I felt torn between my feelings and his. We decided to pray about it and go to the temple.

I had a very distinct impression while I was there that told me to listen to my husband, and I would be blessed for my obedience. This really wasn't the answer I wanted. I was hoping Paul and I would hear simultaneous voices that said, "Kayla is always right! Do as she commands." After the session I asked that man I love what he felt we should do because, after all, I was supposed to listen. He said he felt like it was an important semester and he needed to focus on school. I said I felt good about it, and we drove home in silence.

Money was tight and so many times we didn't think it was possible to survive on my income alone, but we paid our tithing and miracles happened. Month after month we had money in the bank that was unexplainable. However, December arrived and everything tightened around us. For the first time we didn't have enough to pay our bills and there was no relief in sight.  I didn't despair though. God had got us that far so I knew something was coming.

I'm happy to announce Paul started his new job this week and I got a raise. See, prayers are answered.

I'm going to be making a cake this week so you can bet next Sunday's post will be about a disaster waiting to happen.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Daydream believing

My house smells like Mexican puke. That is, Mexican food that you puked. I've never smelled vomit that came from a Mexican personally. But if either of those things sound appetizing to you then come on over and eat what's in my crock pot. Dare you, seriously, because growing in that nifty contraption is another Kayla experiment gone awry. I feel like I waste way too much grocery money experimenting, however, I keep repeating these culinary disasters thinking they will be fun stories to tell to my poor children. I just wish it didn't devastate me so much when it happens.

But I can dream of a day when every dish I make is accident free. I am dreaming again.

Paul and I made the decision to wait for a little while to have children. But waiting for pregnancy usually requires control tactics. I went with the pill. However, the first prescription I was given was a little strong for my body and strange things began to happen. I started drooling. Six or seven times a day I drooled on myself. Had I reverted to infant habits? What was I, ten months old? I craved peanut butter and Cafe Rio salad all the time, and I cried. A lot. That was the hardest. The depression I faced seemed insurmountable. Getting out of bed turned my stomach into knots because I knew it meant I had live one more day with those hopeless feelings. My mom told me to go back to the doctor and tell her I needed a different pill, but Kayla is afraid of doctors, so I put it off till November. For six months I walked around with sad, teary eyes and a dark countenance.

And I didn't dream.

I should clarify that. I dreamed at night with great regularity. But I didn't hope much. I rarely looked forward, and I didn't daydream at all. This is quite unusual for me. I've always been a dreamer-- scheming, making plans, picture future events with great detail, imagining I'm someone new who thinks and feels differently then my natural inclinations. I use to lay on my back in the middle of my parents family room and imagine what it'd be like to walk on the ceiling. I use to shower and dream of being tied to the mast of a ship in the middle of a hurricane. I often lost myself in pretend worlds, interacting with pretend people. But that all stopped when I started taking my first once-a-day pill.

But yesterday I was taking a shower and I started to imagine what it would be like to be blind. I closed my eyes, allowing them to roll deep into their sockets as I cultivated a scenario in my head. I could hear a dinner sizzling in a nonstick skillet and children arguing over the piano while a boy asked me about parent teacher conference. I cautiously maneuvered around the stove to find a spoon. I felt for the second drawer down and reached in, feeling the textures of the handles. I could tell some were wooden by the vertical grains and some were a smooth, dispeckled plastic. There was fear inside me, slight, but a real fear of being so close to something as dangerous as a stove without the luxury of seeing it.

Then I was at parent teacher conference standing on a smooth floor in the middle of chaos. Human chatter surrounded me and my boy held on to my arm. I had to be led to his teachers, not being about to find them by voice or feel my way to their faces. I could not tell how they looked at me and I could not see the stares.

The sounds of the school gymnasium faded to silence and I was left to just ponder under the warmth of the shower head. I thought of all the things I couldn't see-- how dark toast gets, dirt under my fingernails, dust on picture frames, pink hamburger turning brown. But those things I might be able to live without. But there were other pictures lost to my blind eyes-- bright, clear mornings, my children's faces, the majesty of the temple, the clear blue of my husbands eyes. I wanted to see those things just one more time.

I reached and felt for my washcloth. I wetted it and pressed the terrycloth to my eyes, wiping off day-old mascara. I wondered how long I'd have to repeat the process until my face was clear. My right eye slowly opened just enough to make out the white of the rag, stained with black smudges and I remembered something important. I'm not really blind. I was so tangled in my daydream, engulfed in an imagination that had become unfamiliar, that I almost forgot how to discern reality. I smiled at that washcloth. It felt nice to dream again.

Friday, January 1, 2010

I NEVER write good titles

My father gave my mom a book for Christmas that she referred to me. She said it was amazing as are most of the books she refers. Her eyes are like book metal detectors. When she finds an intellectually or spiritually stimulating book, you can be confident that it is valuable. So I try not to take it lightly when she mentions a particular literary masterpiece. The latest addition was Change Your Questions Change Your Life by Wendy Watson Nelson. New Years day I journeyed to my parents house to partake of a tradition-- beans-- All the while, longing for the book I had left unfinished at home. My fingers itched to hold paper and when I saw Sister Nelson's book placed on the end table I remembered my mom's recommendation and picked it up. It was a large book. Not a War and Peace tome, but I thick, wide book with heavy glossy pages, riddled with beautiful photography and largely printed words. Quick, easy reading for its size, I thought as I flipped though the brightly colored leaves. So I began to read.

I was so surprised when I had a "Aha" moment already on page sixteen. As Sister Nelson addressed the power of questions she made mention of "troublemaking questions". These often include the following:
  • Why am I SO. . . ?

  • Why doesn't ANYONE. . . ?

  • Why do I ALWAYS have to. . . ?

  • Why doesn't he EVER. . . ?

  • Why does she ALWAYS. . . ?
I noticed that many of the "troublemaking questions" if not all deal in absolutes. Now, absolutes are words I'm quite familiar with. I always speak in absolutes. Perhaps not always, but I am known to use them more often than not. Absolutes are quite powerful because they come from God. He is absolute. He loves us always. He knows us completely. There is only one way to return to his ever open arms. Satan knows this and tries to make things that are not absolutes feel as though they are. He uses sin and addiciton to snare us into thinking we can never get out. He tells us that we're never good enough, and that we're always making mistakes. He tells us that no one cares and it will always be this way. He tells us we are victoms, and in an attept to hide from sin and inadequicies we take the bait.

I have found myself in that very place asking those very questions. But it wasn't until I read them in that book on shiny green paper that I really pondered the effect they have on my life. They take away my power to see clearly.

I have a co-worker with a reputation of being difficult. She is very defensive and when she speaks it can sometimes sound belittling. While I had personally experienced no problems with her for the last year and a half that she's worked with me, two weeks ago she said just the wrong thing to prick my small ego. I shouldn't have got offended, but I did. And since that day, every word that has exited her small frame has filled me with anger and resentment. For this I am not proud. I heard myself telling Paul about her Monday afternoon, using this phrase, "She always talks as if everyone around her is inferior." My decision to see in absolutes sent me hunting for offense where none was intended.

Later that week I was reading a conference talk by President Monson from the priesthood session. He talked about the destruction of anger. I knew I was being chastised for my actions. I felt prompted to continue to another talk by Elder Anderson about the love of the Savior. While reading his words I felt the deepest sorrow for what I had done. I had not only let myself get angry, I had let hate and enmity enter my heart towards another daughter of God that was perfectly precious to him. My need to cover my own sins and hateful thoughts sent me digging for faults in others to justify the way I felt. It was a whole lot of ugliness. Absolute ugliness.

I'm making a vow to ask better questions to myself, positive questions, and to watch for Satan's twisted snares. I want to think better of other people and take offense less. This New Year's goal, or hopefully New Life goal, is proving harder than I thought. Yesterday I fell for it again and I'm feeling quite discourage and even embarrassed. So I'll try again today to be a little bit better. Wish me luck. Hopefully, my future use of absolute thinking and talking will be more righteous and keep me out of trouble.

But don't blame me if an occasional absolute pops up in my writing for detail-oriented purposes. Righteous detail-oriented purposes, of course.