Monday, February 25, 2008


My sister-in -law tagged me last week and I supposed to list seven random things about myself . Because it is the season of Lent I decided to celebrate by entering into my own private desert and facing my demons. Or at least just mentioning them. Let's face it, my demons and I have been warring for years without a victory or even a truce in sight. Maybe if I just expose them to the world, I will be just that much closer to spiritual health. My Seven Random things are confessions of My Personal Seven Deadly Sins. And it is obvious that there is a lot more darkness to my soul than I will actually divulge on my blog. I mean, come on. I have a little too much pride to be completely open. Oh, Snap!! Pride is one of the deadly sins.

I will place in these sins in the same order as Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century and later by Dante in his poem, The Divine Comedy.

1. Luxuria

My First Lust Crush was on Matt Dillon in the Outsiders in 1983. He was such a great rebellious bad boy with a goey soft center. And those swimming pool eyes! My 11 year old self was in love.

Next came John Stamos who played Blackie on General Hospital. I don't know if I am more embarrassed that I had a crush on John Stamos or that I watched General Hospital. Again, another dark haired bad boy with a smooshy interior.

Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through it seriously gave me heart pangs. Hmmmm. Notice a theme here? What is wrong with me?

So my lust crush on Johnny Depp will be of no suprise, right? The Gypsy in the movie "Chocolate". Wow.

MY PUNISHMENT ACCORDING TO ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: I will be smothered in fire and brimstone


These Cadbury milk chocolate mini-eggs with the hard outer shell and the melty chocolate inside....wait.... Now I am freaking myself out with the hard outer shell and inner sweet goodness. I didn't even plan this. Fellow addicts will know that this particular candy shows up in February and then dissappears five minutes after Easter. There are other things that I have a disfunctional gluttonous relationship with, but these devils are on my mind at this moment in time. As soon as I see these deep purple bags of candy, I go into hyper hoarding mode and buy as many as I can, thinking that they will last until next February. I am lucky if they last until Friday. I actually read somewhere that hospitals ween Cadbury mini-egg addicts off the delicious candy by substituting look-alike mini-eggs filled with crack cocaine and laced with LSD . At least I admit that I need help. Isn't that the first step?

3. Avaritia

Bendy Borders. These adorable magnetic creatures are purchased at REI. Some are zoo animals and some are magnetic sport enthusiasts in the midst of snowboarding, climbing, or kayaking. I just can't get enought of them. I have to have them all. In fact, I have a thing for all kinds of magnets. I don't know what it is, but I really have a hard time sharing them. I keep buying them for Ansel, but somehow they are all end up under my bed. I just don't think he cares enough about them. The bendy borders are mostly all mine because I got them for my birthday. Doesn't that mean that I don't really HAVE to share?


4. Acedia


Oh, and how many hours have I waisted watching and rewatching "THE OFFICE"? Need I say more?

5. Ira


With the weighty issues of Iraq, the coming elections and politics, the frail economy etc. occupying the minds of many Americans, I would like to discuss a lighter topic, one that is nonetheless still very relevant to my life. Canine waste matter. I LOSE MY COOL when I step in dog poop. It happens rather frequently and I am always wearing my shoes with about 80 different crevices in them.
I immediately think of all the things that I can do with the dog excrement to torture the owner that failed to clean up after their pet. Some of these are completely irrational and overzealous.
MY PUNISHMENT: I WILL BE DISMEMBERED ALIVE (I Can't belive that St. Thomas Acquinas was a Saint. He was pretty darn morbid)
6. Invidia


This is a picture of my youngest sister in Greece. She has been all over (and I mean everywhere) in Western and Eastern Europe...twice, lived in Italy for a summer, jaunted to Costa Rica for a few weeks, Bungalowed bummed in Hawaii for a summer, and then again a few weeks ago just because she was sick of the snow. I have several other members of my family (you know who you included) who have also been all over the world and have had some incredible traveling experiences. I have crossed the Canadian border multiple times and even when to Tijuana once, so I shouldn't complain, right? I really am trying hard to be happy for all of you that get to travel to the vast corners of this beautiful earth. I desperately attempt to savor all of your gorgeous photos that you bring home with you. But the reality is, I am usually fighting the demons of envy in my head yelling, "It isn't fair. Why couldn't I be the one eating a gelato in the piazza?"

My punishment in Hell: I will be put in freezing water ( that is fine with me, but can it be freezing water somewhere in Italy?)

7. Superbia (pride).
Although pride is listed as number 7, I already accidentally confessed to it in my introductory Paragraph. Plus I hate losing at Trivial Pursuit and can be a sore loser.
CONCLUSION: I assume that you all know me randomly better than before I published this blog. I am guessing that I will see you all in hell.
On a more serious note, I will leave you with Gandhi's Seven Deadly Sins, which I personally prefer.

Gandhi's Seven Deadly Sins
Wealth without Work
Pleasure without Conscience
Science without Humanity
Knowledge without Character
Politics without Principle
Commerce without Morality
Worship without Sacrifice

Friday, February 22, 2008


Leland Eldon Porter

April 2, 1913 - February 21,2008

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the wild, and am free.

Wendell Berry

I have been stumbling merrily over memories of you all day.....I keep seeing you open the door from the garage to the kitchen with your suspenders, flannel shirt, and an arm full of groceries, chuckling as you unload the loot...the pickles, the olives, the kiwi, the rootbeer, always the ice cream, the fixings for huge spectacular breakfasts, and the kiwi that I didn't even know existed.

I remember you nurturing your plants like a tender father. Even on one of my last visits, when living for you was getting more and more tiresome, you could still recall the names of your plants and where and when they became your own.

The glass grapes in your purple bedroom...the red shag carpet that I would love to squish between my toes, the oversized checkers, the magical cracker jar that was somehow always full, your many rocks scattered along the deck, each veined with happy memories of past excursions and adventures. The rocket park on hot sticky days, the Bountiful pool, Cherry hill Waterslide, Lagoon, picnicing at Sundance, going to the town art show, driving around in your motor home just because, the picture of the bearded man praying over his bread that always made me cry, even when I was little.

You sipped life like a glass of cold lemonade on a hot summer's day. Never worrying about the past or the future. Enjoying the gift of each moment to the fullest. Finding complete bliss in just watching others grow.

And you made it more than obvious that Grandma was the love of your life and your best friend. Teasing and flirting with each other like you were head over heels in love right until Grandma's last moments. Never a negative word, look, or gesture. Always a loving smile and a pat on the hand. There were plenty of things that you didn't have in common. Grandma loved travel and excitement and had some eccentricities, while you were happy sitting on your porch swing watching the hummingbirds and the setting sun beyond the Great Salt Lake. The monumental beauty of this was that you let her be who she wanted to be and loved her all the more.

you let us all be

who we were

and loved us

all the more

When despair for the world grew in me

Your home was a refuge

Where I could rest in your grace

and be free

You were a refuge

I love you Grandpa

Sunday, February 17, 2008



I warned Corey that if he ever got me anything for Valentine's Day, I would kill him. OK, so maybe that is an embellishment. In reality I did tell them that I would be happy to receive gifts and expressions of love on any other day of the year...but please leave me alone on Valentine's Day. I recognize that the antipathy toward Valentines Day is getting almost as overcommercialized and capitalistic as the holiday itself, and so I have oft tried to remain neutral on the whole occasion, especially since the kids are still gleaning some of its "magic and romance". But I still find it difficult to not want to gouge out my eyeballs with an old pair of rusty scissors every time I see a lace-ridden heart or watch a cheesy jewelry commercial declaring, "If you truly love her, you will give her only the very best." What fools we are to buy into this money-making scheme of unabashed transparant nothingness thickly disguised as a day to show our loved ones how much we really love them while at the same time leaving so many others feeling rejected, unloved, and inadequate. I really can't help hating Valentine's Day. I find Valentine's day to be reeking of poshlost.

I have had the book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, in my collection for a few years now and only just this week finally began reading it when one of my sisters seemed anxious for a discussion. I found it strangely coincidental that I happened upon this word,POSHLUST, while reading on Valentine's Day Night. The book discusses a group of women in Tehran and how their lives are changed and enriched through illegal book discussions with a former professor. The first author they discuss is Vladimir Nabokov. Poshlost is a Russian word which Nabokov likes to transliterate as poshlust. It's sort of an untranslatable word but basically indicates something that is in bad taste or is trashy or cheap. Often poshlust disguises itself as something great, true or beautiful. Nabokov says that 'poshlust is not only the obviously trashy but also the falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely attractive.' ... So is this why I hate Valentine's Day so much, because it quantifies, commercializes, and cheapens something that is too valuable to be treated in such a manner? Unfortunately I think that my distaste of the day is not rooted in altruistic ground. I believe its tendrils lead back to,yes, my own stubbornness, pride, fear, and
insecurity. Again, after self-effacing soul-searching, I have come up with 3 not so shining examples of how my own weaknesses have destroyed any chance of my liking Valentine's Day.

1. I hate people telling me what to do. As a child, I remember starting to clean my room and then hearing my mother call up the stairs to please clean my room. My desire to clean my room would vanish and I would deliberately bore myself to death in order to avoid doing what I was originally voluntarily doing, just to avoid doing what my mother told me to do. Likewise, I think on V-day, I despise the fact that I feel forced to tell people that I like them on this day, as if I couldn't think of the idea myself. It is patronizing. We are all, ok mostly, smart enough people to know how to tell the special people in our life that we love them.

2. I told my first big fat lie on Valentine's Day. It was 1981. I was in the 4th grade. I went to school and found a huge box of chocolates and a silver necklace on my desk. It was from the curly haired boy named Howard, who had on more than one occasion, expressed his deep and abiding longing for me. Feeling as if I had committed some unpardonable sin, I told my mother that the teacher had given it to me. I am still ashamed, possibly more at my lousy attempt at a good lie. I have since learned to lie much more effectively(jk) And I suppose I am a little perplexed as to why my mother didn't call me on it. There is no possible way that a 4th grade teacher would buy a huge box of chocolates and a necklace for a student in her class. Maybe she was just a little preoccupied with being 8 months pregnant and having 7 other children to worry about. In fact, she probably didn't even hear me.

3. I committed my first hate crime on Valentine's Day. 1989. 11th grade. Victims....Orem High Cheerleaders. I am having a really hard time disclosing this, but feel it an important step in my progression as a real person. Besides, I am almost sure that I will have scared most of my readers away with my initial ranting. I agree that ranting is at times truly obnoxious. I doubt any of you will have made it this far into my blog. Anyway, some nameless, yet not blameless, friends and I decided that it would be hilarious to make cookies that with the words, "Die" and "hate"and leave them on the doorsteps of the cheerleaders in the school. I am hoping that they just laughed and shook their luscious hair and I fully recognize that it was my own teen insecurity that led me to such behavior.

Maybe I can redeem myself and be extra sweet on Valentine's Day from now on. Or then again, maybe not.
So I will end and begin this post with some pictures of something in my life that is not at all POSHLOST.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Celebrating Savanna X 100

Wednesday was Savanna's 10th birthday. I must admit that preparing this blog has left me in quite a stupor of nostalgia. I had chosen to celebrate Savanna with 100 things describing her life thus far. Ten things for each year. While searching through photos and journals to mark each year of her growth, I fell precipitously into a meloncholic dimension from which I still have yet to disembark. I wonder if all mothers feel like this the moment they realize that their daughters are growing up. It is impossible to believe that the laundry I once folded for her was doll-sized. I can still see her dancing in spirited pirouettes along the lip of the Manito fountain. Wasn’t it yesterday that her hand was only as big as the rocks she collected in the shallows of the river? That same hand, wasn’t it just holding mine, tugging so that I might stop and see the spider web, the budding tulip, any of a thousand moments I wish that I could have frozen. Time is an optical illusion and painfully slippery. I have launched a mourning for each year of Savanna's life now gone. Seeing pictures of her was a strange juxtaposition of aching and ecstasy, relishing in the gift of her happy childhood and simultaneously recognizing that this little girl has vanished and an older, more adult-erated and more independent version has taken her place. I realize that my role and influence as a mother is slowly taking second string to her friends, the media, and other less annoying people in her life. Hopefully I can use this lament to remind myself to savor the slippery time I have left with these children of mine. So back to the list:1. Savanna was born in St. Screw us, Misery, (I mean St. Louis, Missouri) at 2:27 pm weighing 8 lbs 8 oz and measuring 22 inches long
2. Her name was chosen the day we found out she was to be a girl. Other names previously considered and rejected were Moraine, Somerset, Henry, Saffron, Hannah, Oliver (please don't judge)

3. She cried for the first three months of life.

4. Her first and only trip to the hospital was at 6 months old, after falling off the bed (overreactive paranoid parenting).

5. She was born with a lot of blonde and semi-curly hair. She still more hair than our whole family combined.

6. It took me and Corey almost an hour to dress Savanna for the first time.

7. She was a ladybug for Halloween and went trick-or-treating at 9 months. (What were we thinking?)

8. Started walking at 11 months....officially January 15, 1999.

9. At 9 months, her favorite music was Real Big Fish and Lucious Jackson

10. Grabbed her lit candle and burned her hand on her first birthday
11. Her first sentence was ,"This is disgusting!" referring, of course, to my dinner.

12. When her stomach growled, she called it "tummy thunder".

13. I told her the moon was full and she said, "Why, what did he eat?"

14. She is obsessed with Teletubbies this year.

15. Loves to make huge messes and then confesses, "I am rotten. I am rotten. I am rotten."

16. She was a rabbit for Halloween.

17. She was really scared of the Grinch for a while.

18. She has taken several 4 hour baths

19. Her nickname is Schmoopie

20. Once prayed that we wouldn't get lost, unless it was in the house.

21. Savanna gained her lifelong best friend and sister on December 18, 1999.

22. She is obsessed with the Madeline series this year.

23. Could sing Twinkle Twinkle little Star, Never Smile at a Crocodile, and Hephalumps and Woosels before she was two.

24. Was a clown for Halloween.

25. Rode on a llama.

26. She loves spaghetti, pizza, and artichokes.

27. She loves to sneak sugar packets from restaurants.

28. She hates quiche, cucumbers, and meatloaf.

29. She loves to pick flowers

30. She picks way too many flowers, but she gives them all to me and it is so hard to stop her.

31. Savanna had a tea party with Mary Poppins for her 3rd birthday.

32. She once saw tiny little bananas playing baseball on her arm. It was difficult to convince her that it was probably not real.

33. One day she noticed one of Corey's socks and asked, "Is Daddy a giant?"

34. After she was scolded for hitting Emmy, she compromised by saying, "If I do hit Emmy, I will hit her more carefully."

35. When we asked her if she wanted to take a soccer class she replied that she wouldn't take a soccer class, but would like to take a tic tac toe class.

36. She is obsessed with Aladdin this year.

37. Said her favorite things were Cheetos, Diamonds, and Dust.

38. Told her Primary teacher that she wished she didn't have parents so that she could jump in a dirty lake with all her clothes on. Honestly, we never said she couldn't.

39. She was Jesse from Toy Story II for Halloween

40. When asked whether or not she liked dinosaurs, she replied "I don't know. I've never tasted one."

41. Savanna goes through a treasure phase and considers anything small to be priceless. I find little stashes of popcorn kernels, screws, and shiny gum wrappers. She knows each one by name

42. Gave herself and Emmy a thorough haircut while eating dinner.

43. Her eyes are blue or green, depending on the day or her mood or the lunar cycle. I'm not quite sure yet.

44. She once tied Emmy to a chair to make her listen to a story.

45. Loves to dig up and then bepet worms.

46. She momentarily lost all sanity and told me she wanted to start putting bows in her hair

47. She was Snow White for Halloween

48. She once hid in her closet and gave me a near-heart-attack experience

49. She can talk really really fast.

50. Tasted her first alcoholic beverage at 5 years. Accidentally, of course.

51. Savanna has written many letters to fairies, conveniently locating them in bushes and tulips where they would most likely be found.

52. She has drawn thousands of fairies

53. She loves NERDS candy

54. She has been stung by a bee 8 times

55. She can draw a very impressive flower. Probably because she has picked so many.

56. She once spent an hour drawing an eyeball

57. She has started a journal about 20 different time in 20 different places.

58. She saved her lunch water bottle tops for an entire school year

59. She doesn't like Math or Science

60. She is a fantastic speller

61.She is not a morning person.

62. She took a climbing class.

63. She often forgets very important details and events (usually relating to school).

64. She has more than once changed her Christmas wish list on Christmas Eve.

65. She is really good with clay

66. She has stayed up all night during a sleepover (I mean playover).

67. She was a witch for Halloween

68. She dislikes the telephone and will never answer it.

69. She doesn't like getting attention. She probably won't like this blog.

70. She doesn't like rollercoasters.......yet.

71. Savanna's favorite outdoor activity is swimming.

72. Her least favorite outdoor activity is skiing.

73. She has never been bored in her entire life.

74. She was a peacock fairy for Halloween

75. She has frequent nightmares.

76. Said that living in Portland was the worst year in her life.

77. She likes to make lists.

78. She hates to have her picture taken

79. She wishes her name was Luna

80. She is a member of a Secret Girls Club . I am not invited.

81. Savanna has read the Harry Potter series almost 3 times.

82. She taught herself the Harry Potter theme song on the recorder. She has a great ear for music.

83. She knows over 35 spells to cast with a magic wand

84. She loves whipped cream and cream puffs as much as I do.

85. She was a good witch for Halloween

86. She hates to have her hair brushed.

87. She has written many lyrics to songs.

88. She likes to stay home.

89. She has 22.5 cousins

90. Savanna is often the last one in the family to fall asleep. She has read entire books in one night.

91. Sometimes Savanna sleeps on top of her bed so that she won't have to make it in the morning.

92. She hates to put on socks.

93. She lost a tooth without telling us just to see if the Tooth Fairy was real. Too bad she never put it under her pillow. I found it in her backpack.

94. She is currently writing a medieval novel.

95. She wants to be an artist when she grows up, although when she was 3 she stated that she wanted to be a peddlar woman. I say that she already is an artist.

96. She was a fairy for Halloween

97. She started piano lessons this year

98. She can write extremely small.

99. She has become a computer freak and is learning to type 60 wpm.

100. Savanna is growing up way too fast

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Lost in Deep Thought and Deep Snow; The myth of a balanced life

*Disclaimer* Any philosophical thought and opinions expressed may change at any given notice

"The key to a happy life is balance, balance, balance." Sound Familiar? I have read it in magazines and self-help books and heard Oprah Winfrey and countless others flap on and on about it. As a result, I have often found myself on a quest for the perfect balance in my own life. Indeed, I have experienced brief sighs of moments where I actually have felt like I had all of my eggs in one basket. Where I have felt spiritually, emotionally, socially, and physically well balanced. But these moments are as temporary as a bowl of popcorn. Stablility in my life is about as hard to come by as this snow poised on a single pine needle. If a balanced life is the definition of success, I am doomed. It took a week like this past week to remind me that perhaps equilibrium is a tad bit overrated. I presently believe that the most beauty can be found and discovered in a world that is unstable and that perhaps it is the act of striving for balance and harmony that can bring us the most happiness. We may find stability for brief moments, but in order for us to feel pain and in turn grow and change, this stability must be lost. There is a shifting and continous reaching for a new balance within ourselves. Thus, because triumph can be found in the voyage without necessarily ever meeting our target, we need not worry about our speed. Perhaps is is best to dawdle a bit. I will elaborate below(see continuation).

Savanna was looking for a Thesaurus and Ansel brought her his dinosaurs. He did do a few things other than eat snow.

In a moment of frustration, I (jokingly, of course) told Savanna that we were going to send her to boot camp, where she would really learn how to clean her room. An hour and a half later, she appeared red-eyed and tear-stained pleading with me not to send her to boot camp. I definitely won the LOUSY MOTHER OF THE EVENING award.

School was cancelled for the entire week and Emmy had a hard time with this disruption and lack of structure.

This is me whilst lost in deep thought and prior to being lost in deep snow. Also, I must note that this is my first self-timed photo of just self. Out of comfort zone=loss of equilibrium=growth=happiness

Continuation of Story: Our stability was knocked way out line this week by the equilibrium seeking pressure systems resulting in record-breaking and sustained amounts of snow. I am grateful for this loss of atmospheric balance causing these storms. It left us all in jaw-dropping awe, again reminding us that, in spite of all our efforts, we are never completely in control of our lives. Church was cancelled. School was cancelled. Corey went skiing and ended up in the ER(see Doady's blog). A visit from Boise Grandparents was cancelled. Piano lessons were yep, you guessed it, cancelled. All of my efforts to maintain a balanced household were thwarted and by Friday, I had that Blah feeling I get when I feel like my existence in the universe is just taking up space. Honestly, I believe that my children needed a break from me more than I needed a break from them. Corey granted me a Free Day and Saturday morning I found myself cross-country skiing at the closest State Park. My destination was an eagle's nest I knew existed about 3 miles down the trail from where I park. I never arrived. 10 years ago, I would have been disgusted by the fact that I never made it to my intended destination. I wonder how much beauty I have overlooked by racing down trails to ensure my arrival? Today, I couldn't stop noticing the smallest intricacies and details in nooks of tree trunks and crannies of rocks.
2 hours later, I found that my skis where cramping my exploratory style and buried them in some snow. I also found that the trail was cramping my style and made my own trail among the many fauna hoofprints.
3 hours later, it began snowing and I concluded that although I was savoring every morsel of my excursion, I was disoriented and lost. I began wondering if I may end up beside William R. Hager, Trainmaster U.S.A.
I was again reminded that happiness can be found all along and off the trail of life. Life is precious. Life is intricate and beautiful. I think that these realizations are usually found in moments of discord and inbalance. I think too many priceless moments are overlooked when we strive too hard for equilibrium. Go suck it balanced life. I soon found a road and walked back to my car, tired, hungry, and happy.
I am the Brittney DEERS POOPeratzi (okay, so some of my thoughts weren't all that deep)