Friday, August 28, 2009

My Affair with Michaels

It's been going on for some time now. My affair with Michaels. Maybe it was the cute 12x12 scrapbook paper, or the grapevine wreaths that first attracted me. It's hard to remember now, so much time has gone by since our first encounter. Since that first love-at-first-sight moment, I knew we would be so good together. I walk in, and my senses are overwhelmed with the scent of new crafting materials. The baskets, the home decor, the clearance aisle. They captivate me.

Even armed with the knowledge that I don't truly need anything in that store, I can't quit. Even with the knowledge that at home wait for me faithful and perfectly stylish and unused embellishments, cake decorating supplies, and ribbon. I can't help myself. I am drawn in. My mind is invigorated with inspiration of what I could make with that thing that I didn't know I needed, that also happens to be on sale. My pulse quickens when I realize that an alluring 50% off coupon is tempting me to just go ahead and buy that mat cutter. I know I'll love it.

I usually try to save our rendezvous for late evening or weekends, but sometimes I can't wait, and I have to go during the day, with the kids. Not as fun, and usually less expensive...but, it is still Michaels. I think that J has sensed something going on. He usually rages about "budgets" and "massive amounts of crafting junk" and whatnot after one of our encounters. But the heart wants what the heart wants.

I think it might be love.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tan-do Attitude

I was digging around under my sink, looking for some nail polish remover, and I stumbled across a forgotten bottle of sunless tanning foam. I gazed at it for a moment, and then at my legs. I've had a shocking lack of sun this summer. Despite the fact that it's the "hot" season, our mornings start pretty chilly and I end up in jeans more often than not. Oh, and I don't have a whole lot of time to just lie around and sunbathe. With three kids and all.

Hey, why not? I thought.

"You know? You deserve some color, legs." I said as I read the label.

Looking for an easy way to catch some sunless rays? Why, yes I am. Just smooth on our spa-grade Sunless Tanning Foam. The built in bronzer shows you right where you've applied, while the sunless tanner goes to work to make your look last. Sweet.

I foamed a mound into my palm and then proceeded to "massage in with hand until absorbed and desired finish is achieved." Okay, so this 'massaging' bit wasn't quite so smooth. There was color right away, sure, but it was sort a burnt sugar color that was streaking up and down my legs. Trying to swirl it around was just creating copper colored designs on my calves. Oh boy. It didn't seem to be absorbing. And it smelled funny. It smelled sticky, if that's a smell.

And then there was the issue of where to "stop" the color. I didn't want to stop too soon and make it look like I was wearing white socks, so I kept going. All the way to my toes. Shoot. This is not good. The color was looking a little orange and I was starting to panic just a little. I tried wiping it off with my fingers, which just started my hands looking dirty and orange. Okay. Breathe. Turning more orange.

Not good.

I thought maybe I needed more, for even coverage. I kept rubbing, and then I realized that my ankles and knees were looking really dirty. I consulted the label. Use sparingly around elbows, knees and ankles. Riiiiight. Information that would have been useful a couple shades ago.

Now I had oompa loompa legs with dirty ankles. Stinky oompa loompa legs. And palms. And I had Recipe Swap with all my friends in an hour.

It was too hot for jeans, but I had to cover these things up. I finally opted for a nice, long maxi dress to hide my legs and I hoped the strawberry spinach salad would distract the attention from my orange hands.

No one said anything. I'm sure they were just too nice.

Anyway. Let this be a cautionary tale for those perusing bottle tans.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pictures, Take One

I'm getting bad at on-time documentation of my kids. Little Buddy's "1 Year" photos are at 14 months here. Girlie's are "6 Years and almost three months" pics . And Wild Man is captured here at "almost 4".

I try. (sigh)

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Night We Accidentally Spent Our Life Savings On Dinner

J and I hit the town last night to celebrate our 9 year anniversary. It was really fun. Well, first it wasn't so fun--because of traffic (...because clearly I was expecting heavy traffic on an early Thursday night...) it took almost 2 hours to get to Salish Lodge. Luckily we had each other to talk with (or, at least J had a starving, crazy wife to yell "Don't let them cut you off! Do you not SEE the Obama sticker on their window???).

Salish Lodge is a fine restaurant and spa located atop stunning Snoqualmie Falls. The gorgeous landscape of the rolling hills, towering pines, and amazing sunset set the stage for a really romantic night. And, lucky for us, J has a Primecard from Microsoft, which entitles us to buy one, get one free at many fine dining joints around Seattle, including this one--also the sole reason we thought we could afford dinner here.

We had a seat by the window overlooking the falls. We could see the spray billowing up from the plunging water, creating an ethereal mist that settled in the trees and rocks. It was a clear night and the sun's marmalade-colored rays lit everything with warm, honey light. The evening absolutely glowed. The restaurant had a Greene and Greene arts and crafts feel with rich woods, and dark,earthy finishes. A fire crackled in the fireplace. The wait staff walked around somberly in suits, offering one-at-a-time selections of artisan breads.

My eyebrows rose as I looked at the prices on the leather encased menu. The small font did nothing to disguise the hefty price tags attached to each item. Well, it's our anniversary, I thought, and after all, everything is really 1/2 price. I even paid the $10 extra so I could "upgrade" my "Three Course Dining Experience" to include the prime ribeye. Yes, I know it's fatty, but it was the only steak option on the menu (and let's face it, this girl isn't going to get some paltry salad if we're eating out). The Three Course included a Small Plate, an Entree, and a Dessert. And I was hungry.

Our statuesque server had a light foreign accent, and seemed like maybe she had chosen between career options of "restaurant server" and "military interrogater." She didn't seem like someone to mess with. She never smiled, and replied to each of my menu selections with a brusque "Definitely." She presented our aptly-named Small Plates. I got the quail, and J opted for "Hot Rocks", which were bits of kobe beef seared tableside on, well, hot river rocks. J and I each thoroughly enjoyed both bites.

The problem about being a mom of small kids is that I'm always in a hurry. I've always got a schedule, I always need to be efficient, and it's counterintuitive to me to take more than two hours eating dinner. Yet, that was the pace of the restaurant. Maybe someday I will grow up enough, and be sophisticated enough to enjoy savoring the delicate flavors and letting the essence of dinner linger for that long, without feeling any urgency. But last night, I just couldn't relax quite that much. And we were on the babysitter clock. (I will save the matter of Babysitting Rates in Seattle for another post).

We enjoyed the unusual and pleasantly surprising flavors of salmon and prime ribeye for dinner, and the cheesecake (with strawberry gelees and six tiny drops of basil-mint sauce on the side) and strawberry shortcake for dessert (with a strawberry spritzer to be drunk before tasting the cake). We basked in the cozy interior glow beside the now-dark landscape, and reminisced about our nine years together.

Then the bill came.

J's and my eyes bugged out of our heads when we saw it. I thought, surely that can not be right! Even with the Primecard, it was much, much more than we had anticipated. Apparently the whole "buy one, get one" had some limitations to it. J and I met each other with unbelieving half-smiles on our faces.

"Wow, we've come a long way in our dining these past nine years," I joked.

I'm not even going to tell you how much it was. I'm too embarrassed. We just had to laugh as we drove away, thinking of the new milestone we'd reached. J assured me that nine years of marriage was worth it.

And, at least we didn't do the valet parking.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

(One of) My Worst Fears

Me: Hey, Sam-Sam, your birthday is coming up. What kind of birthday party do you want?

Sammy: I want a regular party. Just a regular cake with regular frosting. And candles with stripes. That's all.

(Another worst fear? I just heard "Hey, Mommy, look--I'm wrestling Little Buddy!")

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

For the Sidewalk Artist in All of You

Try out your muralist skills on your local sidewalk. With some simple ingredients and lots of creativity, you can transform your drab cement squares into scintillating works of homemade art.

Here's a recipe for homemade sidewalk paint.
1/2 c corn starch
1/2 c water
food coloring (we found you need a LOT to make the colors vibrant when dry)

Mix ingredients until smooth and dissolved. Then break out your jumbo paint brushes and go to town!

The color brightens and solidifies when it dries. The best part? It washes off easily with water.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Fabulous Idea to Put in Your Pocket

I have been hearing variations of this all year, and it is one of my favorite ideas ever. I first heard of "doing good" birthday parties right before Girlie's 6th, and by then it was to late to undo all my planning. The idea is this: Use a birthday party to do some good and teach kids life lessons.

I had a friend who, in lieu of gifts for the birthday child, had kids bring canned food to donate. Quaker has a whole program called "Birthday Party With a Purpose." Here are some of their fabulous ideas:

Pirate Party: Enjoy an exciting treasure hunt to find "loot" to donate to hospitalized children.

Green Party: Plants are essential for our planet's health, so help kids go green and have fun.

Tea Party: Your little lady will love the opportunity to be hospitable to others, and make lunch for the homeless.

Princess Party: All little princesses want to bring smiles to those in need, so share the royal magic by donating books to a low-income daycare center.

Cowboy Party: Round up your little cowboy and cowgirl to help your local animal shelter.

Quaker has FREE birthday party materials to help you organize your party and lots of really fun ideas.

How GREAT are these ideas? My kiddos also got invited to a birthday party recently for some friends who, instead of gifts for themselves, are choosing to have people bring "Birthday Bags." It is a fun gift bag, filled with a cake mix, a tub of frosting, plates, napkins, etc--to which they'll add balloons and other fun stuff and DONATE to a food bank.

How wonderful is it to teach our kids to be good people at the same time you're celebrating what wonderful people they already are? I absolutely love it, and hope you feel inspired too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On This Day, 9 Years Ago

On this day, nine long/short years ago, J and I promised eternity to each other in the Mount Timpanogos Temple. The smoke had cleared from the burning mountains, and the day was beautiful. The whole day was an absolute dream from start to finish. It was one of those magical, breathtaking days--the kind you remember in slow motion, in sepia tones with a Frank Sinatra soundtrack.

Nine years ago, we were checking into our hotel room as inconspicuously as we could (in a tux and dress) when the hotel hostess handed us the key to the theme suite and said in a loud, throaty voice "Here's your key to...THE JUNGLE ROOM!!"

On this day, home was in Provo, Utah--just north of the BYU Stadium in a miniscule basement apartment. We figure that our whole apartment could fit in our current bedroom. We had two rooms--a bedroom and a living room/kitchen. The living room/kitchen was just that--a small room with a wood-framed love seat on one side, and a sink, fridge and stove stuffed into the corner. We had to move our dining table into the 'kitchen' if we wanted to sit in the 'living room' and had to move it into the 'living room' in order to cook in the 'kitchen'.

Nine years ago, we were headed to Jackson Hole, WY for our honeymoon. We tried buffalo burgers at fun restaurants, went white water rafting, ate chocolate mousse pie, did an alpine slide, went to a rodeo, and did lots of shopping together (these were the early days). We overdrafted J's bank account by $500. He felt okay about it, though, because upon our return to Provo we did the very-profitable-for-him "Big Merger" of our bank accounts.

Nine years ago, I worked at Lighting Design in Orem. J worked for the accounting department at BYU. Little did I know he would quit his job at the semester break without telling me. It went down like this.

Me: J, this is one of my best friends Karen, and her husband Bob.
Everyone: Nice to meet you, nice to meet you.
Karen and Bob: So, J, do you work while you're going to school?
Me: He works in the accounting department.
J (AT THE SAME TIME): No, I don't have a job.

I hoped it wasn't a sign of things to come.

Nine years ago, we drove a purple 1992 Ford Taurus that had seen me on many a trip home to Kansas. J nicknamed it The Purple Dragon. We loved that car, until the transmission went out while we were passing through St. Louis, and I swore I'd never set foot in that city again...
I still have a set of Dragon keys.

On this day, we were two crazy kids livin' on love and cornflakes. (Everything else cost too much). We figured together we could take on the world. Now, here we are-- three kids, three homes, three jobs, three degrees, and four cars later. Life is so good. We love each other far more now than on the day we wed. But we're still two crazy kids (with kids) livin' on love and mango chicken salad, and taking on the world. Happy Anniversary, Babe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kindergarten is NOT a Fashion Show

That was the lesson that I learned from school this year. Consequently, instead of buying shoes like this...

and this...

and this...

and this...

and this...

we're going to go with 1st grade shoes like this...

and this...

and this...
PS: Anyone need a bunch of cute, practically-brand-new-but-now-too-small-for-my-daughter girls shoes?