Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not So Jiminy

Yesterday my mother-in-law brought me a grocery bag full of fresh basil. I was making fried zucchini spaghetti for dinner (one of the five meals I have cooked during this pregnancy), and my mother-in-law, unlike myself, has successfully mastered the art of growing herbs. As I washed and chopped the basil, I had to laugh because there were a bunch of green grasshopper-y bugs all over the leaves, and they ended up hopping freely around my kitchen.

Pesky, yes, but not nearly as creepy as the gazillion earwigs I'd found in my basement the day before.

I opened the kitchen windows and the back door and hoped they would find their way outside.

For the last several nights, our house has been ridiculously hot. I've been leaving the swamp cooler on into the wee hours of the morning so I can sleep without sticking to my sheets. I crack the window a bit to draw the cool air into my bedroom, and I pay the price for coolness as the motor hums, and I hear the sounds of the unruly youth roaming the streets outside.

This morning, around 4:00, I got up and turned the swamp cooler off and shut the window, hoping to catch a couple hours of silent slumber. When I got back in bed, I heard a loud, rhythmic chirp! chirp! and came to the sudden realization that those green, grasshopper-y bugs my mother-in-law delivered to me inside the bag of basil were CRICKETS!!!

I'd never seen a cricket before, so I had no idea that's what I was dealing with when they hopped out of the bag. I imagined the creatures to be of the silent variety. As I laid in bed with the chirp! chirp! traveling up the stairwell and straight into my ears, I tried to play it cool. After all, crickets are soothing.

Scotty woke up and tried shutting the window tighter, thinking that the crickets were outside and that I hadn't shut the window all the way. I informed him that the noise was coming from inside the house. He didn't believe me at first, but after laying back down, he agreed, "Yes, they're in our house!"

About two minutes later, I was about to snap. The soothing sound of the crickets in our house was SO.NOT.SOOTHING. It was loud and obnoxious! And oh, so consistent! Even the cat was starting to get irate!

Scotty could tell by my anxious breathing that something needed to be done, so he ended up creeping down the stairs to see if he could find a cricket or two. The second he stepped foot on the first step, they shut right up.

Sneaky, those crickets are!

Scotty came right back proclaiming, "We will never find them!"

So once again, I laid in bed trying to be "soothed" by the sound of the crickets as they resumed their chirp! chirp! Naturally, I thought of Jiminy Cricket and wondered why Gepetto hadn't murdered him.

Because I was gonna kill me some crickets!

Fortunately, the torture was short-lived. Not much can draw our cat out of his lazy night-time slumber, but he eventually got fed up and went marching down the stairs with his old man cat attitude.

I don't know what happened down there, but I didn't hear anymore crickets.

Kudos, Colonel. Kudos.

The Colonel

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reminiscent of Another Life

Last night I had this genius idea. I said to myself, "Self? You know what you should do tomorrow? You should cook dinner!" and I decided I was going to make cashew chicken.

So there I was at lunch time today, shoveling a few slices of Paula Deen's zucchini bread into my face, when I remembered, "Oh yeah! I'm going to cook dinner tonight!" I started thinking about the process of making cashew chicken, and I realized that I can't make cashew chicken because the chicken is frozen. Now, I know that there are some simple solutions to this problem, but I'm kind of a stickler about thawing food. I'm a thaw-in-the-fridge kind of girl... it's practically a religion for me. There is no microwave thawing or, gasp! cooking with frozen chicken in my house.

This realization got me thinking about the olden days... you know, 31 weeks ago when I wasn't pregnant. Back then I cooked. I made meal plans. I knew well ahead of time when I needed to thaw chicken; I rocked at thawing chicken.

Even though pregnancy is short in the grand scheme of things, I feel like that was another lifetime. For the past seven months, I've become accustomed to not cooking. On the rare occasion when I have cooked, I haven't been able to eat it because a) I have really bad taste aversion and b) by the time I've cooked it, I no longer want it. For the time being, we survive off quickly prepared meals like cereal, pancakes, toast, green smoothies, and sandwiches, and when I can't find something quick and easy, we eat out (this happens more often than I'm willing to admit).

Sometimes I have these weird moments where I remember a piece of the non-pregnant me (which, I assume, is the "real" me, but since I don't currently exist as that person, I have a hard time recognizing her as "real"). Take the other day, for instance, when I heard another mother proclaim that she doesn't buy sugar cereal. I thought about the Lucky Charms stowed away in my pantry and contemplated what life would be like as a mother who doesn't buy sugar cereal. Then I had this sorta "deja vu" moment where I realized that I don't buy sugar cereal. Or at least I didn't before I was pregnant... back when health trumped the "anything I can stomach" diet.

It's hard to fathom in my current situation that some day I might be the "real" me again. There will come a time when I can go an entire day without a nap. My back won't hurt constantly. I'll be able to run an errand without getting completely wiped out. I'll enjoy cooking, reading, and writing again. I'll be able to buckle my strappy silver sandals without making offensive noises. I'll be able to go more than two hours without peeing. I'll stop waking up my entire family every night with my boisterous third trimester sleep farts (just being honest here). I'll stop having heart burn. I'll vacuum once in  awhile.

And thawing chicken will be a piece of cake.

In the meantime... can someone get me a cake?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How to Mow the Lawn: A Twelve Step Program

Step 1: Tell your wife you're going outside to mow the lawn.

Step 2: Go outside and use the weed whacker for a few minutes.

Step 3: Notice that your kids are playing with a set of bed risers in the driveway.

Step 4: Drop everything and find a drill and some rope to make a set of stilts.

Step 5: Watch your kids enjoy the stilts.

Stilts Stilts 

Step 6: Build yourself a pair.


Step 7: Climb on the roof.

Stilts Stilts 

Step 8: Try to walk.

Stilts Stilts 

Step 9: Fall.


Step 10: Apologize to the neighbors that you nearly killed when you dropped your stilts.

Step 11: Saw off a few feet and try again.


Step 12: Mow the lawn.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Whatever, Just Eat.

Them: Mommy, what are you making?

Me: Crepes.

Them: Grapes?

Me: No, crepes.

Them: Grapes?

Me: No, kuh-repes.

Them: Grapes?

Me: No, crepes! See?


Them: Oooooooh! Quesadillas!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I remember when the name Justin Bieber started getting thrown around - I had no idea who he was. All I knew is that his swoopy hair was on the cover of a bunch of magazines, and the term "Bieber fever" had begun to travel with the wind.

One night, I plopped down on the couch and turned on SNL, and to my surprise, this Justin Bieber person was on the show. There he was - a little boy on the screen with Tina Fey. Tina Fey was the teacher and Justin Bieber was the student. Tina's character would drift into daydreams about the boy, and, as part of his character portrayal, Justin sang to her.

You guys! I thought the singing was the joke. I didn't know he was for real! Later in the show, Justin Bieber performed, and I was like, 'Wha?!?"

And that's how I learned who Justin Bieber was.

A few months ago my friend started having her little boy grow his hair out. She told me she wanted him to have "One Direction hair." Of course I had no clue what that meant. I assumed she wanted his hair to be long enough to comb either all the way to the right... or all the way to the left. Because that would be one direction.

Somehow I figured out what One Direction meant a short time later. Then just last week, I heard my first One Direction song on the radio - my husband was kind enough to tell me who was singing and how often the song is played.

This morning I caught a few minutes of the news, and they were doing a segment on back to school fashion. There were jeggings. Lots and lots of jeggings. Jeggings that I can never wear because it would be far too disgusting.

A couple of days ago I looked up the Billboard top ten out of curiosity. I had heard three of the songs.

I don't use Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+.

I still rely exclusively on a hand-written calendar.

If you put an iPhone or iPad into my hand, I won't have any clue what to do with it.

I still have (and regularly use) a VCR.

I still read paper books.

All of this leads me to the conclusion that it has happened! I am stuck in a previous era. I spent all of my youth wondering why so many adults were stuck in the 80's.

Now I am them.

If you need me, I'll be hanging out somewhere around 2005.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How I Walked Away From Mommy Guilt

If you're a mom, you know exactly what I mean when I say "Mommy Guilt." Mothers (and women in general) are very harsh critics on themselves. We compare and contrast far too much, and we too easily fall into a pattern of "beating ourselves up."

I think we sometimes believe that we are only good moms if we constantly acknowledge everything we are doing wrong. We mistakenly believe that experiencing Mom Guilt is a form of humility or self-correction. A while back, I spent a lot of time thinking about the role of Mommy Guilt in my life and the things that cause it, and I realized that Mommy Guilt has no positive effect on my parenting, so I adopted a strict No More Mommy Guilt policy.

It's always said that to give up a bad habit, one must replace that habit with something better. As I contemplated Mommy Guilt, I had to figure out what to replace it with. If not guilt, then what? What is it that can provide us with the humility and self-correction that we need as mothers?

It took me a while to figure it out, but my answer was inspiration.

I decided that from that point forward, I would only respond to inspiration. Part of this change includes identifying when I feel guilty and when I feel inspired.

Sometimes it's obvious:

Negative emotions = guilt.

Positive emotions = inspiration.

Other times I have to choose to flip the guilt and allow myself to be inspired. This is how I've decided to respond to situations like General Conference or lessons in church. Instead of feeling bad for not living up to the things I am taught, I try to let myself be inspired and motivated by those things. If I'm not feeling inspired, I'm not ready to act yet, and I will let it go. I believe that inspiration is the better motivator, so I try to focus on what I am inspired to do rather than what I feel guilty about.

Going through this process has helped me feel more secure in my parenting. I don't worry about what other moms are doing - I just focus on what is right for me and my children. I am better at being consistent around other people because I no longer feel like I need to adapt to them or impress them. When I take interest in another mom and her lifestyle, it is because I'm inspired by her, not because I want to 'be as good as" or "live up to" her.

Relying on inspiration instead of guilt helps me to keep my priorities in check and better identify what is right for my family. Walking away from Mommy Guilt has had a very positive effect on my life - it feels great to not feel guilt.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Back is Killing Me (and ten other random facts)

Fact #1: Somone's dog (at least we hope it was "someone's dog" as opposed to "someone") pooped in our yard. No big deal. It happens, right? The trouble is, my kids are obsessed with the poop. They have gone outside several times to look at it, and as the day goes on, they continue talking about it and asking each other, "Do you want to go outside and look at the poop again?"

Fact #2: I could (should?) just go outside and clean up the poop, but it just doesn't fit into my plan for today. My to do list looks more normal. Like, do a few loads of laundry, feed and bathe my kids, sit on the couch, blog, and sweep the kitchen floor. I can not break from The Plan to clean up poop that is outside.

Fact #3: Scotty's mom lives up the street from us, and we usually visit her on Sundays. For most of those visits, Scotty fails to wear shoes. This week, he wanted to go play in his Grandpa's field next door to his mom's house, but alas, he had no shoes... so he went into the garage and made some.


Fact #4: My husband is a weird genius.

Fact #5: Utah just opened its first Goodwill earlier this year. Everyone is always talking about Goodwill like it's a subdivision of Heaven, so one Saturday, Scotty and I ditched the kids and went to check out the new store. There was nothing about Goodwill that made it more appealing than any of the other thrift stores I frequent, but we were pretty excited to find this:

Camp Chef

Hello, three-burner Camp Chef - hardly used - for $25! 

Fact #6: We took our Camp Chef to the mountains over the weekend to cook breakfast. We've been retreating to higher elevation a lot lately to get out of the heat.

Fact #7: Scotty and I went to dinner last night at a place that serves steak... on hot skillets. It was an interesting experience because three of the tables around us complained that their steaks were overcooked. The manager was running around like crazy handing out $25 gift cards to disappointed customers, and there I was going, "Hello!?! You are serving steak in a skillet!!! Of course it's going to be overcooked! Serve it on a freakin' plate!"

Fact #8: By the time I ate my steak, it was overcooked, too, but I didn't complain because I'm pregnant, and I shouldn't be eating medium steak anyway.

Fact #9: After posting on facebook that we were going to go out to eat last night, a friend of mine showed up at my door and gave us money for our dinner. I fought with her forever about it, but she insisted that she really wanted to do something nice for us. I almost died of kindness.

Fact #10: I feel a hormonal breakdown coming on. Maybe a week from now. Be ready.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Carrots... You Never Know What You're Gonna Get

The funnest part of having a garden is experiencing the accomplished feeling of a successful harvest. You always lose a few crops along the way - this year it was the watermelon - but that's just part of the experience. Having the work pay off, even in small doses, is very satisfying. 

Of all of the vegetables to be harvested from our garden, my favorite to pick, by far, are the carrots. There is something extra thrilling about pulling a carrot from the ground. Plucking something off the vine just doesn't compare to the release of the earth that occurs when a carrot surfaces. 

(Am I crazy? Does anyone else absolutely love this?)

The other thing that makes carrot-picking an amazing experience is the element of surprise - you just never know what's coming! 

Take, for instance, these lovers I found the other day:

I couldn't bring myself to eat them. They were a little too Romeo and Juliet for my appetite. Separating them for selfish culinary reasons seemed too much a tragedy.

But wow! It was sure fun pulling those hopeless romantics out of the ground.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Navigating New Friendships: Part II

Yesterday I wrote about the difficulty I have in making new friends. I've been worried for many years that I'm the problem, and that making new friends is just something I'm bad at, but after reading your comments and e-mails, I'm relieved to find that it's not just me - it's perfectly normal.

Heidikins shared this article from the New York Times, which I found very interesting. It discusses why we have a harder time making friends as we get older. Some of those reasons make me want to slap my forehead and say "duh!"

  • Our priorities have changed
  • We are focused more on careers or family
  • We become pickier about who we surround ourselves with
  • We are less emotionally available to others
  • We have children
It makes perfect sense, and, to my relief, the article also discusses the matter of differences in lifestyle, which is something I have been concerned about. I've always worried that when our differences keep us from maintaining a steady friendship, it's because I'm too judgmental, unloving, and "stuck in my ways." I've thought for a long time that if I loved everyone for who they are, I wouldn't have a hard time making friends. But there's something to be said for compatibility. While I should be kind and loving toward everyone, I don't have to have a close friendship with everyone. My closest friendships should be with people I'm compatible with, and there's really nothing wrong with that. 

Another part of the article I appreciated was the mention of "situational friends." This is where the problem with differences can be eliminated to an extent; rather than having a lot of "best friends," we tend to make friends for specific areas of our lives. 

This is very true for me. I have book friends, like Becky, Amy, Apryl, Isabel, and Jeanette. We are all in very different stages of life and have very different tastes in hobbies, but we are brought together by books. 

I have board game friends - those who like to play Risk on the weekends. 

I have mom friends with appropriately aged children to have play dates with. 

I have t-ball friends who sign their kids up to play on the same team as Nicky. 

I have church friends to sit by at Relief Society and chat with on Sundays. 

Having friends for certain aspects of our lives makes it less of a problem when differences creep in because there is common ground that bonds us, and that is wherein the relationship lies. That might not mean long heart-felt phonecalls, shoulders to cry on, or girls' nights out, but those are elements of friendship that can't be forced, and maybe someday they will happen, and they will be worth waiting for. For now, though, I will be grateful for my situational friendships, and I won't worry so much when I extend an invitation to someone and fail to exchange best friend bracelets.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Navigating New Friendships

I want to be a really good friend. I want to be trustworthy and thoughtful.  I want to be loyal and understanding, plus all of the other adjectives that describe a really awesome friend.

I especially want to be worth keeping... because a lot friendships are disposable.

I can't say that I am that friend. In fact, I'm probably nowhere close, which might be why I've been thinking about friendship a lot lately.

To be honest, I kind of suck at making friends. I don't really know how to do it. I always have a desire to get to know people better, and I always wonder, "Could we be friends?" But far as I know, we'd have to spend time together to accomplish that, and that's where things get a little awkward for me. I've tried the whole invite-someone-over-for-playdate-and-lunch scenario a ridiculous amount of times, and I don't know how to tell if the invitation is appreciated or resented. You see, the invite is never reciprocated. Never. So I'm left to wonder if it's because the other person is shy or  because she just doesn't really want to be friends.

In my imagination, I extend an invitation to a new friend. We have meaningful getting-to-know you conversation. We part ways feeling happy that we spent some time together. Someday down the road - it doesn't have to be right away - she gets the itch to socialize again, and she invites me to go on a picnic a the park, meet at the McDonald's play place for some Mom Therapy, or hang out at the local pool.

But it doesn't happen.

I realize that not all potential friendships work out - I'm guilty of not desiring a close friendship with a few individuals, myself - but sometimes I feel like I'm this desperate creeper on the playground begging for a buddy.

It all makes me wonder if there is something wrong with me. Do I come on too strong? Am I too sarcastic? Am I weird? Do I impose on others? Am I intimidating? Do people think I'm mean? Am I too judgmental?

Or are other people having just as hard a time as I am making friends?

I just don't know.

The other aspect of making new friends that I have a hard time with is the part where we have to face our differences. It seems that whenever I embark on a new friendship, we spend the first phase of the relationship discovering our similarities. It's so much fun to find someone who loves to read, adores board games, and/or has a similar parenting style to me. But after a short time, the differences start to become apparent.

I'm very punctual and an early riser.

She sleeps until 10:00 and is always late.

I let my daughter watch Dora.

Her kids aren't allowed to watch TV.

I enroll my children in public school.

She homeschools.

I have strong opinions about multi-level marketing.

She sells Mary Kay.

At first, we accept our differences, but as time goes on, they start to drive a wedge between us. I get tired of waiting for her all the time, and I don't want to invite her over to my house anymore because I feel like I have to keep the TV off and deny any requests my children make to watch a show with their friends. Meanwhile, she is sick of apologizing every time she's late, and she feels like I'm not supportive because I don't buy my make-up from her. Eventually, we drift apart and experience a few awkward run-ins each year.

This is one area of life where Scotty and I differ. Scotty has never "needed" friends. He never hung out with people in high school - his yearbook was signed by ONE person - and he's never been concerned with belonging. He never worries about meeting new people or having someone to golf/fish/run with. And, although this description of him makes him sound like a bit of a nutcase, he's totally normal and very-well balanced. He just doesn't prioritize "being liked." I, on the other hand, need to have friends. I need to be liked and feel validated. I need people to talk to and laugh with.

I'm just not sure why it's so hard to find that.

I hope I don't sound ungrateful for the friends that I already have (because they are great and most of them have been around for many, many years), but I feel like making friends is a life-long skill. Unfortunately, it's a skill I lack.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Excuses, Excuses! And a Winner!

Remember how I was supposed to announce the winner of Cover Your A$$ets yesterday? Well, I hope you'll forgive me, but I ran into some technical difficulties. You see, my beloved dinosaur of a computer picked up a virus over the weekend, and well... it was a bummer. Actually, it's still a bummer because my computer remains in Scary Virus Mode, but I have a temporary set-up that will allow me to access the internet for the time being.

I'm sure you checked your feed readers and/or refreshed this page all day long in anticipation.

(Right? Riiiiiight?)

Anyway, here we go...

Looks like the trusty 'ole random number generator favors Heidikins and her Mexican Train Dominoes.

Congrats, Heidikins! I hope Grandpa Beck brings you many hours of joy. I'll have your game in the mail by the end of the week.

Oh! And Heidikins? I have your address... on my untouchable virus-laden computer. So will you e-mail it to me for good measure?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cover Your A$$ets - A Review and a GIVEAWAY!

If you've been reading Fluent Brittish for a while, you might recall that I'm a board game fanatic (although it's been a while since I geeked out online over a game) (unless you count an e-mail exchange between Cyndi and me last week regarding Agricola).

A few months ago, my friend Apryl contacted me about doing a card game review. You see, Apryl is an arteest (you might recognize some of her work from the coloring pages in past issues of the Friend) (my kids have colored her rendition of Thomas S. Monson at the pulpit a gazillion times), and she did the artwork for the game Cover Your A$$ets.

So Apryl was like, "Hey! Game nerd! Wanna review this game?"

And I was like, "Heck yes, I do!"

So the game showed up in the mail, and I rounded up a trusted group of game nerds to test it out.

The object of Cover Your A$$ets is to be the first player to acquire one million dollars in assets. Things take a competitive turn when players begin "stealing" each others' assets. 

The rules are simple and easy to learn, and set-up is quick, so if you enjoy games but don't want to spend a lot of time figuring out how, this is a great option for you. It's rated for children as young as eight but is entertaining enough for adults, making it a great family game (my five-year-old can play this just fine as long as someone adds up his assets for him).  

One deck can accommodate 2-4 players, and additional decks can be added to the game for more players (one additional deck per three players). 

I think this would be a great game to follow up a Family Home Evening lesson on financial management. There are concepts in the game that can be used to illustrate financial management skills such as investing, increase (or decrease) in value over time, and taking care of the things we buy.

You can buy Cover Your A$$ets at Grandpa Beck's Games or Amazon for $11.99... if you don't win it here first. 

I have one copy of Cover Your A$$ets to give away. 

If you would like to win a copy of Cover Your A$$ets, leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite game is. Comments will be accepted through Friday, and I will announce a winner on Monday. The winner will be selected by a random number generator. 

If you do not have an Open ID to comment with, select the Name/URL option (a URL is not required). Anonymous comments will not be considered.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Currently {August 2012 Edition}

Reading: Graveminder by Melissa Marr. It's not great. I'm only continuing on because no other books on my hold list have come in at the library yet (but I should be getting one or two today).

Wondering: Why we say "the" United States of America, "the" Congo, and "the" Ukraine, but not "the" China, "the" France, or "the" Canada.

(Thank you, BBC).

Procrastinating: picking a thousand peppers out of the garden and freezing them. I haven't decided if I want to blanch them or not - a great excuse to just leave them alone. Also, I haven't decided what quantities and combinations I want to freeze. Talk about stress!

Craving: gummi worms and donuts. This is definitely a sugar-oriented pregnancy.

Dreading: having my wisdom teeth out next year. I keep hearing horror stories of "old" people (i.e. people over age 20) having major complications and almost dying from wisdom teeth extraction. Plus, I'm worried I'll be a fool coming out of anesthesia. I don't want to be the next Chaddy!

Wearing: my jammies.

Needing: new nail polish. My "normal" colors have all dried out, and all I have now are green, royal blue, and black. I need a few "safe" tones for every day.

Suffering from: a runny nose. It feels so weird to be sniffly in this hot weather.

Thankful for: the Instacare doctor who taught us how to reset a dislocated elbow. Daisy just had her third episode of nursemaid's elbow last night, and we were able to fix it. You wanna know what's weird? She wasn't even doing anything! She was just sitting at the kitchen table eating a treat and started screaming and holding her arm. That's what happened the last time, too. She was just playing calmly on the floor, and somehow her elbow popped out. I was reading some stuff online last night about nursemaid's elbow, and there were a bunch of comments in a discussion thread about a child who came home from daycare with nursemaid's elbow and how that daycare should be investigated because "that only happens when the arm is yanked in an abusive manner." I can confirm that an elbow can dislocate much more easily than that! That's not to say that the child's arm wasn't yanked, because it could have been, but there's also a possibility that it was NOTHING - just a freak occurrence, as has happened to Daisy twice (the first time it happened, her arm was pulled).

Enjoying: Scotty's last week of school for this semester. After tonight, he will have a few weeks off before he starts Big Boy School (i.e. university).

Proud of myself for: removing the packing from Scotty's staph infection wound. I am not a nurse, but Scotty had an infection cut out of his leg last Friday, and I had to remove 4 inches of gauze from the hole on Sunday. I really am quite proud of myself because that kind of stuff horrifies me.

Looking forward to: The Avengers moving to the dollar theater. I didn't get to see it when I was supposed to, and by the time I had the chance, it had been in the theater so long that I couldn't bring myself to pay regular theater prices to see it. So now I'm waiting...

Wishing: that I knew what day I'm going to have this baby so I can figure out if I need a Halloween costume this year. I know what I want to be, but I don't want to buy the components of the costume if I'm going to be in the hospital or at home with a newborn for Halloween. I can't just buy the stuff and save it for another year because I need it to fit a 40 week pregnant belly if I wear it this year. It wouldn't matter except that I saw the perfect pants for my costume at Ross yesterday. I didn't think they even existed, but now that I've seen them, it's like an impossible dream just became obtainable!

Splurging on: nothing. Unless you count the three-burner Camp Chef we bought from Goodwill last week (score).

And my $6 dress (double score).