Friday, February 27, 2009

Bands On, Five Seconds Off

Yesterday Maddie got braces on her top teeth. After getting her appliance, she said this wasn't too bad. By dinner, she was singing a different tune! She chose pink and green glow in the dark bands for her first six weeks -- very pretty for braces.
And tonight, she competed in another meet and we finally brought a camera. She came in first in her heat and took five seconds off her 50 yard freestyle time. She and Rob couldn't hear them announce her the winner of her heat, and from this angle he couldn't even tell who came in first, but Sebi and Joss and I saw that she was way out in front.
I think she's actually more excited about the braces. They make me feel so old, all of a sudden, and I realize that there is this huge, lanky thing with orthodonture walking around the house. I am informed that her brother calls Maddie the Metal Mouth Missile, which was certainly apt tonight.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

From Rob: Why MA Tops All of the Other Hot Women who Appear in the Films I Teach

I would like to compose a post-Academy award tribute to my own Leading Lady.  The category?
Hottest Woman Appearing in a Film I Teach.  A Countdown of the contenstants:
5. Irma Vepp, Les Vampires (France 1922).  On my on-line course evaluations for my "Crime and Aesthetics in French and German Cinema" course, several students reminisced fondly about how I had referred to criminal mastermind Irma Vepp as "Naughty and Bouncy."  Several Times.  In front of the class.  Even though it caused a situation at my yearly review, I stand by my evaluation.  All crimes should be committed in that nasty suit.  
4. Hildegard Knef, THe Murderers are Among Us (Germany 1946).  Oh, Yeah.  Love in the rubble.  No one works a head-scarf like this smoldering and damaged Trummerfrau.  And, afgter running around with cute ash-smudges on her nose and saving her man from committing murder, she pulls it together and shows up in the last scene as a proto-1950's bouffant-coiffed domestic goddess.  Yow.  Besides, the name "Hildegard Knef" just rolls off of the tounge.  "Oh, Hildegard Knef! Help me purge the ghosts of the past!" 
3. Marianne, Wild Strawberries (Sweden, 1957).  Poor old Isak Borg.  He has cut off his heart from his loved ones for so long that he has become a lonely old man.  And, to add to the grief, Isak's Ho-Ho-Hot Schveedisch daughter-in-law leaves his dink of a son Evald and comes to stay with him.  No wonder he dreams of himself in a hearse.  Their road trip together involves several other blondes with Ikea names, but none as cold, sassy, and full of that luscious Ice-Queen Mojo as Marianne.  As the Swedish Chef would say, Husker Du MORP MORP MORP!
2. Franka Potente, Run Lola Run (Germany 1999).  OK, Mary Ann would never dye her hair Elmo Red and have her navel tatooed.  But she can outrun me, just like this trashy little Berlin punk who sometimes goes volcanic and breaks glass with her screaming.  She hauls Arsch across town in combat boots, all to save her worthless boyfriend Manni.  She is, to quote Berlin's new tourist slogan about itself, "Poor but Sexy."  
1. Queen Latifah, hatever film She Happens to Be In (USA, ALways).  I know.  I never have taught a film with the Queen in it.  But, I mean, COME. ON.  She is the new poster girl for the divine Yiddish term "Zaftig."  It literally means "juicy," but it is used in Yiddish to refer to "Women of a Certain Size who Got It Goin' On."  She is the Anti-Calista-Flockhart-Kate-Moss-skin-and-bones-bulemia-chick-who-chews-on-the-sleeves-of-her-too-long-sweater.  You see Queen Latifah and you immediately drop your helping verbs and your final "g:" She bouncin'. She movin' Whe warmin' it up.  

And the envelope please....This year's hands-down winner is.....

Mary Ann!!! Filmography: Hot Mama (USA 1998) Hot Mama II, II, and IV (USA 2000, 2004, 2008)  Relief Society Vixens (2006), An American Sexpot in Vienna (Austria 2009)

Mary Ann tops all of the others. She is Naughty. Bouncy. Damaged. A Domestic Goddess. Redemptive.  An Ice Queen.  Volcanic.  Poor but Sexy.  Willing to Run Across European Cities for her Man.  Zaftig.  Zaftiger. Am zaftigsten.  She shakin'.  She bakin'.  Husker Du MORP MORP MORP!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blue and Gold Cake Contest

Have we mentioned that Rob is now the Cubmaster? It was something of a shock, but it has been great for getting the boys excited about scouting (and let's face facts: Rob and I are lukewarm at best on a paramilitary, homophobic, psuedo-Hitler Youth organization, so our boys were destined to embrace it wholeheartedly from the start). One of the first arguments that Rob ever won with his parents was over scouting. They had moved into a neighborhood with no other kids his age, and so his eagle project would have been almost entirely solo (with some help from his younger brother). He proposed that instead of getting his eagle, he work towards becoming a Sterling Scholar in foreign languages at OHS. His parents finally agreed, and he did make Sterling Scholar at OHS, and went on to become the statewide foreign language Sterling Scholar. So my husband is one merit badge and an eagle project shy of his eagle, which just so happens (Freudianly?) to be exactly the same as my brother, Mr. Twinkie.
All of this means that our boys will insist on being scouts to the death. They will probably get the Platinum Platypus award and still be wearing khaki short pants when they're 70.
But back to the event at hand. These cakes were made by scouts and their fathers for a cake contest for our Blue and Gold dinner. They were really impressive. Originally Will was going to make a volcano, but then he heard about this one and decided to do something else. Impressive exploding lava, no?
This is a detail from a cake of our bishop, who was a basketball player in college and beyond. It got the best brownnoser award and then they took it to the bishop. Kinda creepy to cut into yourself, I would think.

If Jaxon and his dad made this, I will eat my bonnet before teatime . . .
I would have given this kid the "Most Likely to Have a Porn Addiction" award, but I think the judges were kinder. I was going to take issue with the shape, but then I realized that around here, that's pretty anatomically correct.

Just great. I didn't even put in pictures of the Rubik's cube or the football or the basketball court or the state of Utah or the turtle or the iceberg full of penguins. They really did an amazing job.

This guy won first place and he was legit. After the cake came out they asked mom what to do about frosting. She gave them some recipes and they were appalled that you have to make the frosting!
I couldn't help myself. I had to take a picture of the baker's chosen piece of cake.

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Presidents' Day Weekend

Aside from the show on Friday night, it seemed like I spent most of the weekend trying to get Fluffy to sleep in a strange bed. I know it wasn't true, because we also went out to breakfast, had fried chicken sandwiches from Blue-haired Betty's, visited my grandmother, shopped for Easter dresses, went to Trader Joe's, watched "Ghosttown" and "Kit Kitteredge" and "Mamma Mia", attended church, and visited with friends.
The weather was absolutely beautiful.
It was green and rainy and made us miss living in California terribly. It has been white and brown here and we're ready for a change.
Grandpa and Fluffy read a book. Among several thing I forgot to pack for the trip were toys for him. He made it through the weekend with two books and a small lion.

Grandma and Joss played a lot. He pulled up on everything and learned to climb their stairs. I wish I had the picture of him sitting on the yoga ball. He was pretty tickled with that. He also loved watching videos with songs.

In our absence, Rob and the boys had a Star Wars weekend. They watched episodes I-III because they hadn't seen them and it was hampering their Lego Star Wars Wii-playing (Sebastian thought that Qui Gon Jinn was a bad dude. When I asked why, Sebi said that it was because he got killed). They also went out, had friends over, went bowling, and had all this Valentine-ness for us when we got home.

Wicked Good Weekend

Grandma and Grandpa Shumway surprised Maddie and I with Wicked tickets in San Francisco, and flights out there for Presidents' Day weekend. Joss, by virtue of his age and size, got to come along too. We flew out on Friday the 13th, and it wasn't until we were in the car that I realized I'd never really traveled alone with kids before. But the combination of Maddie and Joss was good, and we had no trouble, and got to the theatre in plenty of time to buy souvenirs and get settled before the show.
I'd tried to read the book before going, but the further I read, the more awful I thought the show would be. I gave up halfway through, and I think the unsung hero is the woman who adapted the book for stage (a true genius). They used the concept and characters' names, and that was about it.
Maddie and I enjoyed it thoroughly right up to the applause, where the girl standing in front of me jumped up out of her seat. And not for the lead, either -- she was giving a standing ovation to, ahem, the flying monkeys. Karen K. and I had just been discussing this earlier in the week when we attended the on campus symphony. We were the only people seated in the hall, and were lamenting the fact that BYU audiences seem to think that every performance is worthy of a standing ovation. I wonder if these are the same people who have been raised on weekly chastity lectures? Didn't they learn that if you give it up every time, it doesn't mean anything?!
But it was a lovely show, and have had a good time reading over the program and sharing the music with the boys since getting home.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Joss is Zero and Three Quarters!

Joss gets to share his three quarter birthday with Abe Lincoln. Here is what the boy does right now:
He is in constant motion from the moment he wakes up until he finally drops to sleep. He wants to crawl all over everything, pull up on everything, unplug everything, and stick everything in his mouth. He's particularly fixated on the night lights that change color (which the Professor has always detested -- he's been known to wake from a dead sleep in the middle of the night and stumble cursing out to the hall to rip one out of the socket).
Joss is starting to stand alone for a moment, and he's just beginning to cruise along furniture at the right height. His favorite toy is a set of stacking rings from his wise Aunt Betsy. He loves to dump them off, smack them together, and hit them on the floor.
Joss still loves bath time every night with his nighttime wash in the jetted tub, and always has his hooded frog towel ready afterward (from John and Clarissa).
He is staying pat with 6 teeth, though I keep expecting him to pop out with another two on the right side any day now. Several times a day he falls and bonks his head and wails about it, or he opens a drawer, grips it, and then shuts it on his fingers and squeals. Just tonight Will and I were working on a school project and Joss screamed. We both looked up, and he had fallen head first into his toy bucket. There he was with his little behind up in the air, and his feet wiggling, and we ran to get him, but we had to laugh because it was just like a cartoon.
He gets very excited whenever the cat comes by. He eats at least a banana a day if you let him, and he also plows through a pear and lots of Rice Chex cereal in addition to his regular portion of baby food.
He's very quick to smile, and would rather be happy than not. He's very good natured about being picked up and moved around by his siblings, especially when he gets too interested in the electronics. And yes, I realize that the paragraphs are pretty arbitrary, but give me a break. He still wakes up once a night, and I don't always go back to sleep afterward . . .
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Friday, February 06, 2009

Now Here's Something We Hope You'll Really Like!

Today the kids had the day off. Since it was raining and I wasn't up to taking the gaggle of them somewhere, we had friends over. We made valentines and played Wii and listened to the Wicked soundtrack, and then I promised the girls that we could make cheese.
Jeff and Saydi gave us a cheesemaking kit and I'd tried it twice before. Here, for the benefit of anyone else trying to make 30 min. mozarella, is what we did. You dissolve the rennet in 1/4 cup of water. Separately dissolve 1 1/2 tsp in a cup of water. Pour one gallon of milk (pasteurized but not ultra pasteurized) into a stainless steel pan and stir in the citric acid. Heat to 90 degrees, then take off the heat and stir in the rennet. I let it sit about 8 minutes (instead of 5). Then you have to slice the curds, which is what the girls are doing here. Called something else if you are a schoolage boy.
Stir slowly until curds reach 105 degrees. It turns back into this watery mess.

Then I departed from the directions. I drained the curds about 3/4 in this wire mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth. Take the curds and put them in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Drain any whey you can off, then microwave 30 seconds more. Test the temperature. When it's 135 degrees, you are ready to stretch the cheese. Put on your rubber gloves -- it's hot!
I departed again at this point and dumped the cheese out into the mesh strainer while stretching it, both to let the liquid drain out and to let it cool down faster. I don't really know what I'm doing with the stretching. I just kind of fold it and stretch it out.

Suddenly it goes from hot cottage or ricotta cheese, to something shiny and smooth. This is the finished product, wrapped in plastic and my saweet cheesemaking gloves.

And here are the leftovers. Smelly yellow whey that makes you question Miss Muffett's sanity. I actually used it last time to make pizza dough and bread. This time I just gave up and made dinner.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Grandpa Leo

Leo B Nelson was my maternal grandfather, and passed away last Sunday night at his home. He was born February 15, 1920, and died just shy of his 89th birthday on January 25th, 2009. He has an obituary posted here, and we just had a wonderful funeral service for him on Saturday, but I thought I'd put down some of my memories of him here. In no particular order, here are the things I remember about Grandpa:
He was famous for big pancake breakfasts. They were the most memorable meals on our visits to them in Portland, with Grandpa flipping them on the griddle and scurrying around their kitchen. I remember him making them in Tilden park for our Memorial Day picnics too. Uncle Marshall reported at the funeral that he had mastered this meal and had passed on the family secret to Marshall's branch of the family, so I was tickled that he was willing to share it with Maddie when she asked him. Not least because I make some truly atrocious pancakes. Here's to improvement!
He also made peanut brittle around Christmas time. I remember this both from the tins that they would bring down when they visited, and because he removed the marble from our entry hall washstand to cool the brittle on when he made it at our house.
Grandpa Leo gave us helicopter rides when we were kids. Good to remember that he was vibrant and strong and taller than we were once upon a time. He drove a Chevy Impala when I was young, and I remember meeting the Nelsons at the Nut Tree on the last leg of their trip down to visit us.
He was a mechanic for diesel engines from the time he was 18 until he retired at 68, working for the same company even as it changed hands and names and machinery. I always associate him (along with my dad) as one of those people who could fix anything, and I recall lots of fixing and tinkering and basement time when he was around. Leo was also of the incredibly hardworking variety, usually up at 5:30am in the epoch when I remember him, working first in his garden, then walking or splitting firewood he'd cut down for his wood stove. Even vacations were full of jobs like chopping down the tree in our backyard, and repairing sundry appliances and automobiles.
Leo also loved music and had a lovely tenor voice. We heard John sing one of his standards, "Spirit of God" which was new to me, but I do remember him singing hymns around the piano with us, and more recently, a duet of "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" with Roger the day we blessed Madeline. He had an optimistic outlook, a fun and energetic personality, and was game for a good time. When he met my father and gave his blessing on my parents' wedding, my dad had to return to Provo to work before the engagement ring was finished. Once it was, Grandpa Leo took my mother up to Rocky Butte and serenaded her before giving her the ring for my father in absentia. It strikes me as indicative of a person who knew how to celebrate life's events.

Finally, Grandpa Leo loved my kids. Rob and I couldn't see them without having both Leo and Eunice telling us how proud they are of us, what a good job they think we're doing and how much they think of the kids. I feel extremely fortunate that our children have been able to know him this long, and will have memories of their own from Grandpa's life. Posted by Picasa