Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Erma and Red Eyes

So, have you ever been so frustrated with a kid that you can feel the horns popping out of your head and the tail growing out of your rear end? Apparently this was happening to me yesterday and I didn't even realize it.

I'd had a difficult day I guess and just didn't want to take anymore. Among other fun incidents, Jeremy spit chewed up carrots all over a friend's white couch when he saw a cookie (which I refused him for spiting the carrots out, consequently spawning a huge temper tantrum) and he wouldn't let go of me because she had a teeny tiny dog that apparently was thinking a Jeremy sandwich with pre-chewed carrots on the side sounded quite yummy.

When we got home later he kept trying to press buttons on the printer (which we really need to put somewhere higher, but have no way of doing it). I got tired of telling him it was a "No-No" and moving him away. I finally yelled, "NO!" and then tried to get his attention on something that needed throwing away. I asked him to put it in the garbage and as he walked over to throw it away my eyes followed him. Megan, apparently enthralled with the action, looked at me and said, "Mom, your eyes are turning red!"

I am sure that my eyes were red from being tired and stress, but a small part of me is willing to be honest and fess up that my eyes probably were glowing red.

I finished At Wit's End by Erma Bombeck this morning. I really don't know why I relate to her so well. She wrote her books when my grandparents were my age, so you'd think they'd be out of date. However, I find myself drawn to her humor and I find comfort in her ability to laugh at herself. The very last chapter she opens with saying why she wrote the book in the first place. I was touched at what she said.

"At first, I began writing for one woman. I visualized her as a moderately young woman, overkidsed and underpatienced with four years of college and chapped hands all year around. None of the popular images seemed to fit her. She never had a moment alone, yet she was lonely most of the time. [Geeze! I'm reading this passage for the 20th time and still getting teary-eyed.] She worried more about toilet training her fourteen-month-old than Premier Chou En-lai [Pro Communism Premier of China in case you don't know your Chinese history--slacker!] And the BOW (Big Outside World) was almost a fable to her. After a while I began to visualize other women as I wrote. . . . To be honest, however, I will have to admit that I wrote the book for the original model--the one who was overkidsed, underpatienced, with four years of college and chapped hands all year around. I knew if I didn't follow Faith's [Faith Baldwin, a writer of the generation before Erma's] advice and laugh a little at myself, then I would surely cry."

I think the only reference in there that doesn't fit me would be the four years of college. I'm crazy and insisted that I get my degree, it just took 7 years of college in a decade's time to do it. And while I'm not worried about Premier Chou, I am more concerned with potty training Jeremy than China's death-wish for us via lead paint or Bin Laden.

I know that I was introduced to Erma's books for a reason. I'd say the reason is just to keep me sane during motherhood, but I know that isn't it. I've connected with her since I was in third grade and first picked up one of her books. An eight year old kid shouldn't connect with Erma the way I did at eight. I think it is because I want to write like her. I want to see the humor in the things that drive me crazy. I pray that there will be humor in them, even if I have to wait 24 hours or longer to see it. I'm so grateful that I was blessed to come across her writings at a young age and that I have been able to read her works over and over since then. I recommend them to any mother. I also recommend to any mother writing down her thoughts, her dreams, ambitions, and the crazy things her kids do. Find the humor in these things. Write them down even when they are still not funny. They will be later. One day.

Mom's Vacation

February 14-16 I had the wonderful opportunity of going on vacation all by myself. It was terrific. Actually, it was wonderous, stupendous, fabulous, marvelous, delicious, and any other -ous I can possibly think of.

You see, Brigham Young University held their Life, the Universe, and Everything symposium and I was blessed to go. If you've never heard of LTUE, I'm not surprised. I had never heard of it until about a month before it when a friend in my writing group emailed me with a link to a site all about it. Basically it's a writer's conference for those interested in writing Science Fiction and Fantasy and an opportunity for students to present papers they've written on SciFi/Fantasy topics. (Harry Potter: A Hero for the Ages.) I didn't go to any of the papers since I went to hear the famous authors talk and learn about writing.

It was amazing! There were so many people there whose books I love, as well as people that I am now prepared to love: Orson Scott Card, Gail Carson Levine, Julie Wright, James Dashner, Jessica Day George, Brandon Sanderson, and many others whose names I'd have to look up from my notes to remember at the moment.

They had all kinds of panels to attend and they were all great. They had everything from world building to putting romance in sci-fi/fantasy to working with an illustrator. I took notes as well as I could in each panel and tried to talk to the authors on the panels to make connections. I've already met a few of the authors quite a few times from going to the LDStorymakers writing conferences the last couple years and so it was fun to mingle with them. I plan on attending that conference again this year in March. I can't wait! At the conference I have an appointment with an editor from Deseret Book to talk about my embarrassing stories book!

My first day at LTUE I went to the BYU bookstore, bought Elantris for my brother's birthday and got it signed by Brandon Sanderson. I also got all of Nathan's Orson Scott Card books signed. That night I took a trip to another bookstore and bought two books by Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Life, the Universe and Everything (yes, the symposium was named after this book). The next day I found another bookstore (the BYU bookstore sold out) and bought Fairest for my sister's birthday and a Disney fairy book for Megan and Emma (got Gail Carson Levine to sign them as well as my copy of Ella Enchanted).

I learned so much while I was there and will hopefully be more motivated now to keep writing every day. I guess I have to right now because I have two days to send in my entry for the first chapters contest for LDStorymakers and I need to get more than just the first chapter ready for my appointment with the Deseret Book editor.

The symposium also gave me ideas for other stories, and so now I'm just trying to get enough notes on those ideas that I'll be able to let them stew for a bit while I finish these other stories I'm already working on.

I need to add that I owe huge thanks to my in-laws who took care of Megan and Jeremy during those three days, my wonderful friends Leanne and Danny who let me crash at their house in Orem, not ten minutes away from BYU, and Nathan, who let me skip out on Valentine's Day. Not that he minded much, he didn't have to buy me anything since his gift to me was just letting me go down there. THANK YOU!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Dentist's Son

Jeremy will have the cleanest teeth ever. The kid can't walk down the hallway without stopping at the bathroom door, pounding on it, and yelling, "Teeth!" It's a good thing his dad is going to be a dentist, at least he'll have one parent that is excited about the tooth-brushing craze. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that he likes to brush his teeth. It's better than how I was as a kid. My parents had to hold me down and shove the toothbrush in my mouth. So I'm not ungrateful that the Lord has blessed me with an bathroom-habits easy kid. It's just that it gets old when it's the fifth or sixth time and we haven't even had lunch yet.

Riverdance Juniors

At the not-nearly-as-well-stocked-as-it-should-be Logan Library the other day I decided to check out a VHS. Yes, we are still living in the Dark Ages of Technology, please keep your laughter to a minimum if possible. Anyway, the video was, Riverdance-- The Show. I took clog dancing at Ricks College (took first place in the beginners' competition, thank you very much, and no, I will not call it BYU-Idaho) and I still love to watch it. Nathan kind of rolled his eyes when I told him what I'd checked out. On Saturday I wanted to watch it and thought Megan might like it since she's taking a dance class and has lately decided to try high kicks.

The kids loved it! It was hilarious! They were dancing all over the living room. After a dance where there were three guys dancing with three girls ("the colored skirt girls") Jeremy went into their bedroom and brought out a baby doll. He then proceeded to dance with it! It was the cutest thing ever. Megan got herself a doll, too, and they both just danced around the house to the music. Sunday night I talked Nathan into watching it with us as a family activity so we popped some popcorn and let the kids dance around again. It was fun for Nathan to get to see the kids enjoying the music and amazing skills of the dancers. It was also nice for me to see that Nathan could appreciate the speed and skill necessary for the performers. We both made a few jokes though. I mean, the main guy wears a white puffy shirt that reminds me of the puffy shirt Seinfield episode.

Colored Snow and a Big Boy Bed

A couple days ago I thought I'd be a fun mom. I put some red food dye in a spray bottle with plenty of water and took the kids outside to "color the snow." They were very excited about it. Unfortunately, Jeremy is only able to pull the trigger if the nozzle is pointing toward him. So obviously I helped him spray the snow so as to keep him from getting a face full of red water. At one point Megan discovered that she could step in the snow and then color her footprint. It was a pretty fun activity.

Also, Jeremy has graduated. He has a big boy bed. He doesn't actually fall asleep in it, since he knows that he can easily crawl out, but we are slowly making progress with him. The other day he did fall asleep in it because I was in the room rocking Megan (she'd hurt her knee or something and wanted to be rocked). He kept looking up from his pillow to see if I was still in the room, and since I was, he kept putting his head back on the pillow. Eventually he got tired of lifting his head and he fell asleep. I haven't been so lucky since then. The other night he kept getting up from his bed and playing with their toy kitchen. Then he'd come into the living room and smile at us. Nathan and I were trying to watch an old episode of House on the internet, so it was kind of annoying that we had to keep pausing it to take him back to his room, put him in bed again, and tell him night-night, only to have him get up one minute later. At one point he realized it was silly to play with the kitchen in the dark and decided to turn the bedroom light on. He's a lucky little sucker that Megan is a deep sleeper. . . . In the end he watched House, Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and the lame show about telling the truth. We decided not to watch that one again. I can't get over people clapping for the contestant after they admit to drunk driving. Anyway, enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chicken Enchilada Recipe (without the poison)

3 Cups shredded, boiled chicken breast
12 corn tortillas
2 Cups grated Swiss cheese

Green Chili Sauce:
2 Cups (four 4 oz cans) green chilies
2 Cups (one 8-12 oz can) tomatillos (drain half the juice)
¼ Cup dry parsley
½ Cup onion (medium onion sliced into quarters)
2 cloves garlic
1-6 fresh jalapeños (1-2 mild, 3-4 medium, 5-6 hot)
salt and pepper to taste
½ Cup olive oil

Put green chilies, tomatillos, parsley, onion, garlic, and jalapeños into blender. Blend to a purée. Add salt and pepper as needed. Heat oil in skillet. Add puréed sauce and cook about 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

Lightly toss chicken with ~¾ Cup sauce. Dip each tortilla in remaining sauce, spoon ¼ Cup of chicken mixture down center and roll up. Place enchiladas, open edge down, in a baking dish, then spoon the last of the sauce over them. Top with grated cheese.

Heat oven to 400º and cook until thoroughly heated (about 10 minutes). Cool ~5 minutes before serving.


If I could add one more thing to my previous post on hopes it would be that one day my children will eat willingly. Apparently my kids think I'm poisoning them every time I feed them. If it isn't peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese (and Jeremy is still suspicious of good ol' mac and cheese) then it must be deadly. Mom's poisoning the family again!! Besides, everyone knows poison is easier to hide in enchiladas than peanut butter.

We had Nathan's favorite meal last night, Chicken Enchiladas with green sauce. We used to have it a lot before Megan was born, but when I became pregnant with her I developed an aversion to chicken. I couldn't eat it or smell it and it was especially bad with chicken enchiladas. Afterwards it got a little better, but I still couldn't eat the enchiladas. When Jeremy was born it was the same thing; I couldn't eat chicken and the enchiladas were just impossible. This pregnancy with Emma I've been able to eat chicken, but was wary of the enchiladas. But yesterday at the store I decided Nathan has done without his favorite food for long enough and if I could suck it up and eat them, then the kids could, too. I did surprisingly well considering my past attempts during pregnancy to eat the enchiladas. They were quite yummy. The kids however, well . . . just look at the pictures, you'll understand. And by the way, the one of Jeremy-he's sniffing the food, not eating it.