Friday, December 31, 2010

En Francais

Thought I'd get a jump on my 2011 resolution to blog about something new (to me) or out of the ordinary (to me) every single day in 2011. Usually I will focus on just one thing, but today I have trois poules français to share.

1. Due to my general lack of enthusiasm for house cleaning, I have struggled--and failed mightily--to keep our tile shower clean in a satisfactory way. I am hopeful about every product I try, but the ones that actually do work as advertised are the most unpleasant to deal with. A couple of weeks ago I picked up this lovely solution at Target:

I keep a scrubbing sponge in that nifty little holder designed right into the bottle so it doesn't get scummy. It handles our hard water, it makes my shower smell like a spa and it's way easier to rinse off than other gritty cleansers. C'est un miracle!

2. Roger always makes me smile on Christmas with thoughtful gifts, and this one will keep me smiling as long as I can make it last:

While I love my Kindle, I truly love a real book. Especially a book about/by Julia Child, who I find vraiment fascinant.

3. We discovered the baguettes and croissants and all of the other wonderful things you can find at a real boulangerie at Eliane French Bakery in Orem. The friendly man behind the counter speaks French and assembles pastry orders on a silver tray before packing them up for customers. It is dangerously close to the UVU campus where I teach. Particulièrement dangereux!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I've missed blogging. I blame it on facebook for making updates so quick, easy and appealing to my lazy--er, efficient--nature.

I am also itching for adventure, but I lack the kind of travel budget that could really scratch that itch in the way I'd like. I need to figure out how to have the spirit of adventure in my everyday life.

So here's what I'm going to do to address both issues. I am going to stretch myself with this commitment (yikes!): I am going to post an entry on this blog every single day in 2011 that reflects a new or out-of-the-ordinary experience I have had that day. It might be visiting some place new, meeting a new person, or learning something I didn't know before. It might represent a change in routine, a change in perspective, or a change in attitude.

Please start sending me lots of ideas. I'll be needing 365 of them!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Boy, a Snake, and a Rat

The other night Jack's friend Cameron invited him to go rat shopping. Cameron and his family were going rat shopping to feed their boa constrictor. I would have let Jack go, but he had another obligation (and, by the way, I am proud of Jack for giving up doing something really, really cool to meet his obligation without whining).

The next night I learned from a neighbor that Cameron once showed up on her doorstep with the boa constrictor wrapped around his arm.

The following day I sat Jack down for a serious talk.

"Jack, you know that your friend Cameron is always welcome in our home, right? But you have to know that your friend Cameron with a boa constrictor wrapped around his arm is not welcome in our home."

This statement of mine didn't really come as any surprise as Jack. Roger and I have had a long-term understanding that snakes are not welcome in our home. (I choose to ignore their addendum "that you know of." I know they love me and will always respect my wishes on this point. Right?!)

Anyway, as soon as I laid down the law I saw Jack's wheels turning. I saw that gleam in his eyes. I smelled a rat.

"I'm coming up with lots of loopholes, Mom."

I'm sure.

"What if the snake is wrapped around my arm? What if Cameron is carrying the snake on a board? What if . . ."

"What if we talk about the spirit of the law?" After all, a boy who is smart enough to know about loopholes is smart enough to wrap his brain around that concept. Right?!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Pizza Thief

The other day we had a bit of a pizza party. Since our dining room table is permanently covered with Lego and Jack and his friend took the kitchen counter, Roger decided to sit on the couch and use the coffee table.

He gets all set to eat when Doublestuff the cat jumps up on the table and starts eyeing his plate. Roger shoes him away. Doublestuff basically ignores him and settles in about a foot away. Roger starts eating. 

Then Roger notices Doublestuff's front paw inching toward his plate. The cat is not looking at the plate; in fact, the cat looks like he is actually trying to be discreet by looking away.

Roger takes another bite. Doublestuff continues to look away nonchalantly. His paw creeps closer. Roger continues to eat. The paw creeps closer. The cat is still looking away. The paw creeps closer. The paw actually slips under the edge of the plate. Roger takes another bite.

Then whoosh! Still looking away from the plate as if him not seeing it means Roger doesn't see it either, Doublestuff whips his paw out from under and aims for the pizza. 

He didn't get his prize, but we sure had a laugh. That darn cat.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Society, not socialism. Community, not communism.

Before class last night one of my students came to me with a copy of the daily paper. She pointed to an article about health care reform and told me it said that children with pre-existing conditions would no longer be barred from getting insurance. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Is this really true?” I said that it would be soon, once the details get sorted out.  She visibly shook with relief as she told me how she had been unable to insure her six-year-old son due to his mental health problems. Her eyes were wide with hope.

So many people I know are angry and resentful, even downright fearful about health care reform. Though I reserve judgment about the specifics of the plan, I've done lot of research from a variety of sources to cut through all sorts of misinformation, and I am honestly hopeful.

What I see when I look at health care reform is an attempt to solve a serious and growing problem in a humane and pragmatic way. Will it actually solve it? Can’t imagine it will, but it’s a start.

I see a messy and imperfect product of a democratic system we cherish (and that thankfully includes an amendment process).

I see an attempt to preserve stellar private health care delivery while reversing the trend of increasing exclusion from a health insurance system that (for good and bad) has essentially become the gatekeeper of access to health care.

I see a law that, though passed without bipartisan support, is full of bipartisan substance. Two of the key components—the individual mandate and the exchange—originated with Republicans and were supported by Republicans until a Democratic majority chose to embrace them.

I see a call for citizens to step up on behalf our nation—a reminder that civilization involves responsibilities, not just rights. I see value for all of us in having a healthier population in much the same way as I see value for all of us in having an educated population.

I see more freedom to pursue career and entrepreneurial dreams instead of being chained to the wrong job for fear of losing coverage. (And maybe, someday, if the exchanges work, we'll have a system that untangles health insurance coverage and employment.)

I see more women with access to prenatal, obstetric and pediatric care that may feel freer to choose life for their children.

I see “we the people” leveraging the power of joining together and pooling our resources to spread risk and to increase access to health care, especially when we—and it could be any one of us—need it the most.

I see my vote as my willingness to participate.

I see society, not socialism. I see community, not communism.

If it helps to ensure that my student’s six-year-old son can have access to health care, I am happy to make sure that I have insurance myself. 

Friday, March 19, 2010


I realized that this blog may not exist in the virtual world of the Internet forever and so I spent some time today copying blog entries into a file on my laptop. My blog entries represent some of the only journaling I've done in the past few years. It would be sad if I lost them. 

Anyway, I got up to April 2007 and came across an entry called "Snapshot," in which I made note of a few details of my life at that moment. I've been meaning to get back to blogging more regularly, and thought a snapshot would be a good way to start. I make no promise, though, that this won't be a false start. 

Here goes:

Favorite moment of the week (besides when Jack's teachers told us how much they enjoyed having him in their classes at parent teacher conference): Watching Jack and his friend Brett perform a puppet show--written by Jack--at Cub Scout pack meeting. Here's his synopsis: It's about a nerd named Steve who built a hypersonic laser to "make him not a nerd" and it accidentally turns him into a piece of cheese. The last line: "Oh no! I've turned into a piece of cheese! But at least I'm not a nerd anymore. My invention is a success!"

Current mindless time waster: Playing FarmVille on Facebook. Jack got me started, but I have to confess I play more than he does now. I even talked Roger into letting me be a tenant farmer on his Facebook page so that I could have another neighbor to trade gifts with. It feeds my entrepreneurial spirit.

Book that Jack and I are currently reading together: The Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. I loved this book when I read it a few years ago and am happy Jack is old enough to appreciate it now. I will keep reading to Jack as long as he wants me to. It's one of my favorite parts of each day.

Current paying job: Teaching English 2010 at UVU. I was assigned to teach night classes this semester, which tend to have more older students in them. Class discussions are always better when there are some older students. Classes full of 18-year-old freshman tend to just stare at me.

Current church calling: Teaching the six year olds in Primary with Roger. They are cute and funny and have gotten to know us well enough now that they feel free to be rowdy in class. We prefer to take that as a good sign. 

Current daily irritant: Cats running into the pantry every time I open the door. Sheesh.

Last out-of-town trip: Roger, Jack and I spent four days in San Francisco in January. We toured a WWII cargo ship, shopped in Chinatown, spent hours in the Exploratorium while it poured rain outside, walked on the Golden Gate Bridge, and hung out on windy beaches looking for rocks and shells and getting wetter than we intended. We loved the neighborhood around our hotel, especially the pet store where we bought souvenirs for the cats, the grocery store with racks out front overflowing with fruits and vegetables, and the fabulous bakery where we ate croissants and washed them down with exceptional hot chocolate. 

Greatest success of the day: Doing three whole loads of laundry without forgetting about them. I'm embarrassed to confess just how often I put a load in, go off to do something else, then remember the wet load after I've gone to bed.