Sunday, June 29, 2008


I feel somewhat bad about my last post. I do not mean to offend anyone who thinks that they're guilty of the Utah County stereotypes, but rather, it was to laugh at myself. If you don't think you fall into some stereotype, you are wrong. Give it some time, and if so, someone somewhere can fence you into a "type" of person. Rather than reject these stereotypes, I embrace them and laugh along with you. I've even found myself using more acronyms since living amongst the zoobies and Utah County Freedom Fighters. And don't think acronyms are reserved for the text message savvy and bubbly blondes. My 50ish bachelor boss uses acronyms like NOIK (no one I know), and I'm sure he's never texted a day in his life. His favorite one to use is PTL (praise the Lord). I've found my favorite acronym is BHH (bless his/her heart). I use it liberally when talking about the elderly and the insane.

For example, while in Hawaii, my mother-in-law kept assuming I was pregnant and, therefore, very tired. I reminded her I wasn't pregnant, but BHH, she couldn't remember. My Grandma McEuen, BHH, asks me every time I visit whether or not I'm pregnant. That question is pretty bold and always takes me off guard. My face likely turns red. I'm not sure men understand what it feels like to be asked that question, but for a woman, it's very offsetting. You don't know if your face is reflecting a healthy glow of "baby inside" or you look bloated and haggard. Really, most of us take it as the latter and are a touch offended. But shame on us, perhaps. Maybe asking whether or not I'm pregnant should be viewed as a positive rather than a negative. In Grandma's case, her adult-onset Alzheimer's gives her a big pass card, because even if I were pregnant, she probably wouldn't remember five minutes after I told her, so she'd likely ask me 10 more times during our 1/2 hour visit whether or not I'm pregnant, BHH.

BYH for reading.

Literally, Just kick me!!!

If my blog is as annoying as this one, please just gently as possible let me know. (But no matter what you think, there's no gentle way of telling me I look like I've gained some weight. There's just not. Well, unless you are my young children and you say, "Mom, your tummy is big." To me, that's just cute. My response: "I'm trying out for a role as the Pillsbury Dough Mommy.")

(Note: The aforementioned link will take you to a "mock" blog, but we all know people like it, even it is myself, and I just have to laugh at myself a little bit. If you've ever lived in Provo, you especially knew someone identical to this blogger. Literally!!! I found the link after once again losing too much precious time by browsing Internet sites, and one of the places I can count on for some pretty good laughs is If you've ever heard the term Jewish American Princess, this one's about a Mormon Princess. My brother-in-law is an anathesiologist locally, and he's seen more and more Mormon Princesses when delivering babies.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and Well, You Know

The Vikingman is over and I'm back from Hawai'i and I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, so this is the good, the bad, and the rest of what's been going on.
Let's start with the good:
This beach was our favorite beach. While not as picturesque, both in terms of scenery or beach adornment in the form of scantily clad tourists, the water and waves at Hukilau made it our favorite beach. We spent most of our time here.

The Polynesian Cultural Center
Dinner and the show at the PCC were another highlight. This photo is goofy, but the rest are on my wife's computer.
The pig, the poi, the poke, the haupia and the smoothies were highlights of the trip, not just the PCC. The show was good, especially for the kids. The photo to the right is an advertisement and I'll definitely give the place an endorsement. If you haven't been, make it a priority the next time you're in Hawai'i.

Kahuku Shrimp Trucks
These beauties are from Giovanni's, which is where my cousins (the locals) recommended. Another one down the road was also delicious, even if their claim of being the original famous shrimp truck is false. I ate too many of the peripheral garlic pieces at Giovanni's and ended up on garlic overload. It was worth it.

The Rest of the Good
The best of the good I don't actually have pictures for: Meeting Uncle Lyn. This made the whole trip worth it. I have HD footage of it that I'll be sharing at the reunion. I was able to keep it together okay at Pearl Harbor, but the aloha I felt there from Uncle Lyn and Auntie Carol was overwhelming. Midge and the rest of the Crowell's didn't disappoint either. They shared so much with us that the meal I prepared for them was a meager offering. I went to Oahu expecting to hate it and exactly the opposite happened - I loved Oahu. There's more family on Oahu, and that made for good times. Another highlight was visiting my Dad's old house. The current tenant had some fresh picked mangoes from my Grandma's tree in a box for us. Maybe it was the emotional connection, but those mangoes were unbelievable. Ask Racer. I was happy with our days, most days we had fruit or coconut haupia pie from Ted's Bakery and then had plate lunch before we went to the beach. In the evenings, it was mostly lau lau, rice, poi and more fruit.

THE BAD: Pounders

Notice how all the locals are behind those massive waves as they crash on to the beach. The idiot that I am I jumped in front of one of those. It pounded me into the beach, breaking my collar bone in two places - a comminuted fracture the doc's are fond of calling it. It continues to suck. Another aspect of the result that I'm sick of are the comments that at least I was having fun or at least I was somewhere nice when it happened. How does that make it better? If anything, it screwed up a good time or my enjoyment of a beautiful locale, which makes it suck worse.

THE UGLY: Vikingman
30 mph winds all day. The water was 59 degrees and so choppy that the head wind felt like a relief. At least initially. It sucked to be at my all-day limit, going down hill, and doing 11.5-12.0 mph. The return trip was better, but it was tough to recover mentally from the out leg. The run was decent, but I thought I was getting dehydrated because one hand suddenly went numb. I slowed down to drink just as I was catching Devin, who then left me for dead. Coulda, shoulda, woulda, but didn't. He beat me fair and square, which kind of sucks. At no point in the day did I have fun. Which means I won't be doing the Vikingman again any time soon.
Note: I purchased a digital copy of this, but for some reason it won't be available for a couple of days.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I was the type of teenager that did the opposite of what the "in" crowd was doing. I wore an "antique" dress (from the 30s) to my high school prom, and I wore Chuck Taylor's as my shoes. As I get older, those tendencies still live in me, but I try to calm down and try to like things regardless of the numbers of people who also like them. So even though IKEA opened over a year ago, today was the first day I visited the store not 15 minutes from my house. I'm sure many of my blog readers have been on numerous occassions, and more than one of you have told me how cool a store it is. But then I experienced it for myself, and I have to say, everyone is sooo right. That store was made for moms, and perhaps those dads who have also tried to go shopping with three young children in tow.

Our first stop was the cafe on the second level of the store. Swedish pancakes with lingonberries for $1.99? Sign me up! It was like a cafeteria for the "cool kids," only not the "popular-cool kids" but the kids who sat in the back of English class who made all the snarky comments that kept things interesting. They had a condiment section with flavored mayonnaise. The word "boost" was painted in big orange letters above the booster chairs, accompanied by the phrase, "Need to get closer to those meatballs?" Isn't that just cool? They thought of everything a mother holding a baby would need: stackable-rolling trays that can carry many plates, so you can still hold the baby and transport the food trays; a bottle warmer; kids' tables with activities to keep the kids busy; bibs for babies; baby spoons, etc. Our lunch experience was great. But the shopping experience ... not as great. It wasn't the store's fault. Again, they thought of everything for a mother accompanied with small children. They even have a nursery, but the nursery was full for a few hours, and I thought it would be fun for the girls to look around with me. Nearly every few hundred feet in the store was a little activity center for kids to draw pictures on a television screen, as well as other activities. My problem was my 16-month old and the carts. She didn't want to stay in the cart, so I had to hold her and push the cart at the same time. And even though it was an easy cart to push, I got tired of doing both. The older girls were having a fun time, but I had to tear them away, because I just got too frustrated with Nohea. I know I just posted about how fun it is having a 16-month old, but they are also frustrating. And I already have a huge aversion to shopping. If you had grown up with Karen Christenson as your mother, you would have an aversion to shopping too. My mom probably holds the record for being able to look at every little thing on a rack, then turning to me and making me try on every piece. It was enough to pull my hair out. The shopping gene skipped me, but hit Lilia square in her DNA. She wanted to stay at IKEA for another six hours or so. I had to get out of there. I'm the miser in our family. Depleting the family coffers is not my idea of a good time. I'm also terrible with style and decorating my house. I get so overwhelmed. I know what I like, but the idea of implementing those ideas causes me to hyperventilate. I'm waiting for the kids to get older, and then I want to hire someone with those skill sets to come decorate my house for me.

It's nice to know one of my ancestral heritage lines, the Swedes, could create such a mother friendly store. It made me wonder what our world would be like if grocery stores were designed IKEA style. And it made me wish my knowledge of Sweden was a little more indepth than knowing what a Dala horse looks like. My great-great grandpa was Swedish. The heritage is almost completely lost on my mom's side. My sister and brother-in-law served missions in Sweden, as well as an uncle. And my mom makes Swedish pancakes, but they taste more like extra big crepes (with bastardized toppings my Uncle Pat does not approve of, because a true Swedish pancake does not have chocolate pudding and whipped cream). I wish I knew some Swedish words such as "go to sleep, little baby" and "be quiet, rotten children." I don't dare join a "heritage" club, because as we've watched on the Discovery channel on more than one occasion, white supremesists like to recruit members by starting "heritage" groups.

But if IKEA is any indication, Swedes are uber-cool and ultra-chic, and best of all, they know how to take care of mothers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More from the Nursery

Today in nursery:
  • We had two visitors. One girl is staying with our neighbors until her family can find a home. She moved here from Molokai, Hawaii. She kept calling me "Auntie" which is what children call the adults they trust in Hawaii. It made me feel so good to have her call me that.

  • I like to ask the kids a question about themselves every week. This week I asked them to name their favorite foods. Bennett's was flax seed (I'm skeptical about that one). Kylie and Josh both like mac 'n' cheese, which caused other kids to mention Chuck E. Cheese, and then it was Chuck E. Cheese stories for a good 5 minutes. Stephen said he liked everything. He's probably the easiest-going kid in the nursery, as evidenced by his favorite foods. Quincy still isn't speaking too much yet. The younger kids mostly just sit there and stare at me.

  • We discovered that with the younger kids, to get them involved during singing time, you should start with, "If you're happy and you know it." Singing other songs, we just got a bunch of blank stares. But with that song, they got involved and sang along.

  • Julia said she wasn't able to go swimming this week because they ran out of time. That made me laugh. How many times have I said that very phrase to my kids?

  • Brooklyn saw her dad through the peep window and started shrieking with joy. It made me kind of emotional thinking about how much these kids love their parents. The lesson this week was on families, and seeing Brooklyn react like that brought the lesson full circle. Summarily put, families are just great.

The nursery runs like clockwork in our ward, thanks to some excellent nursery leaders who predated us. They set it up so that half of the time, kids are in a structured room having snacks, playing with playdough, having a lesson, and singing. Then the other half of the time they are playing with the toys in a separate room. We divide the children up into two groups: the older kids and the younger kids. The older kids stay in the structured room for one hour, and the younger kids stay in the structured room for 45 minutes (smaller attention spans). Kulani's arm was hurting pretty bad today, but he toughed it out with the toddlers. I'm grateful he's with me in this calling. We really do have a great time together.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The baby

This is just a short post to remind myself how completely enjoyable it is to have a 16-month-old baby around the house. Nohea is so fun to watch. Seeing her little toddler body walking around is just joy. She still has rolls of fat in all the right places. She thinks she's as old as the other girls. Everytime I ask who wants food (like, "Who wants some ramen?"), Nohea raises her hand and says, "Eee," which means, "me." She folds her little arms during the prayer. She says "sheee" (cheese) when taking her picture. She gets after Jesse like I do. She smiles so freely and willingly. It is just joyful.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Moon Walk and Sticky Shoe

Summertime is a magical time. I feel like a kid again; shirking my duties to bake cookies with the kids, going to the dollar matinee, and swimming every chance we get. Thanks to an e-mail sent to me by my old, dear friend Kara, we went on a late-night moonwalk last night to view the "moon illusion." The moon looked like it was close enough to lasso. Here's a picture, but I should have not used the flash so you could see how bright and big the moon looked last night. And it's blurry, and the moon looks more like a lampost. So, it really isn't that great of a picture, but here it is anyway.

On our walk we ran into neighbors and fellow bloggers, the James. They are the heartbeat of Pine Hollow Drive, as their daughter and another neighbor girl run a summer camp for all the kids in the neighborhood, and Ellen is the lady I run to whenever I need extra eggs, sugar, butter, etc.

Earlier that day we saw the first of what I hope to be our weekly outings to the "Sticky Shoe" Theater in American Fork to catch the 11:00 matinee. This time we brought along Lilia's school buddy Lily and our neighbor girl Kayla. The girls had a great time. We saw Black Beauty. I didn't get to see the end of it, because Nohea figured out that if she cried and fussed, I would take her outside. So we enjoyed a few games of 25 cent pinball in the lobby. The 25 cent pinball machines are getting harder to find. The Sticky Shoe is the best theater in town. They have a row of 25 cent candies too, so I splurged and let the girls choose a candy a piece. And then of course, we had to get the popcorn. People who can pass by movie theater popcorn while in a movie theater are stronger people than me.

And this is Nohea after consuming cookie dough and cookies. She's exhausted, bless her little heart. More about our Hawaii trip in the near future. Right now, I've got to get back to editing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Beach Happenings

Lilia taking a bow at Hukilau Beach on the island of Oahu in Hawaii on Saturday, June 14. Lilia worked really hard at catching waves with the little boogie board we bought her. Dad taught her a few lessons, and she got pretty good at it. I have other pictures and video of her catching the waves.

Lissy building one of her many sandcastles at Hukilau Beach. Nohea helping out. We stayed until closing time at the beach. It was hard to pull ourselves away. Lissy was really into the sandcastle building and bridge building--she was always building bridges. Maybe she'll take after Uncle Lani and become an architect.

One thing the island of Oahu has over the island of Hawaii is beaches. It seems like there was a beach every five miles or so. Our favorite was the Hukilau Beach. The Hukilau Beach seemed more like a "locals" beach. It had great, beginner waves. I took Nohea out to feel the waves drag across her feet and legs. We all loved the beach. Joelle, our niece, was a great help. She especially came in handy after Kulani did the ragdoll toss from a large wave into the beach floor at Pounders Beach. Kulani managed to break his clavicle in two places. We took him to the emergency room at Kahuku Hospital. The nurse doubted Kulani actually broke a bone because he was so calm. After removing his towel and seeing the bone bulging, she changed her tune. They gave him a shot of Demerol, put him in a sling, and gave him a healthy dose of some pain medications to help him until he arrived home in Utah. Kulani was out for the rest of the trip.
Joelle, the girls, and I decided to tour Laie our last night in Hawaii. We stayed late at the beach, then we went on a walking tour around the Laie Temple. We later had a late-night treat at The Best McDonald's In the World in Laie. More to come.

Love to Blog

We'll be posting a lot in the next few days so that we have the memories of Hawaii safely in one place to always remember this past week. The entire time we were in Hawaii, Kulani and I would say at various times, "I'm going to blog about that." For me, a blog seems easier to write my thoughts out than a journal. It's a nice vehicle to write our story.

Upon arriving home, I found out that my all-time favorite journalist died on Friday from a sudden heart attack. Tim Russert was the anchor for NBC's Meet the Press.

He reminded me of so many of my professors at BYU who constantly drilled into our heads, "Just the facts, ma'am," like Joe Friday on Dragnet. I honestly had more than one professor that looked and spoke like Russert. Unlike the big headed, opinionated political commentators I disdain (Keith Obermann, Chris Mathews, Rush Limbaugh), Russert did his job like a true journalist: asking questions and follow-up questions based on research. Perhaps he had political leanings, but he tried hard to not show them. And one thing he really loved was his family, specifically his father and son. He wrote a book about the lessons his father taught him growing up in upstate New York. Tim reported on the difficulties of watching his once vibrant father lapse into an aging, ailing man. Not that it matters in the big picture, but I just felt like blogging about someone I admired who died recently. And I'm pretty sad about it. I really don't think Meet the Press will ever be the same.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hawaii '08

We are currrently in Hawaii and feeling sorry for the rest of you sorry saps in Utah and Idaho or where ever else you may be when reading this blog. The following are some highlights of the trip so far:
  • The plane ride was a long 6 hours. All the girls did well--except for Nohea. I think 16 month olds make the worst travelers. She cried, struggled, tossed, turned, and was generally awful. Here's a picture of Melissa looking excited about the impending flight.
  • One of our many goals while in Hawaii is to eat at as many plate lunch places as we can. Currently, the places drawing us to them like a moth to flame are the garlic shrimp trucks. Much like an ice cream truck, the garlic shrimp trucks usually have a big sign with "Shrimp" written in many different languages. So far we've only stopped at the Kahuku Shrimp truck, but it was AWESOME. Here's a picture of the shrimp, followed by a picture of Lilia approving of the shrimp.

  • Yesterday we went to Pearl Harbor, which was unforgettable. Afterwards we went to lunch at Kulani's favorite all-you-can eat Asian food: Todai. Near the end of our meal, the waiter spilled a pitcher full of ice-cold water on Melissa's head. She started crying. The waiter felt bad, naturally, and the manager gave Melissa a free T-shirt. Lilia was sad that she didn't get a free shirt. She started "accidently" putting noodles on her shirt and saying, "My shirt's dirty too." We didn't buy her act, and she didn't get a new shirt. Lissy says to Lilia later in the day, "Maybe next time we go, you can have water spilled on your head, then you'll get a free shirt." Way to look at the bright side, Melissa.
  • We later stopped in Halaiewa for shaved ice at Matsumoto's. I was hankering for some kona coffee ice cream like I had in Kona last year (the WoWisdom says nothing about eating coffee, just drinking it, right?), so I took whoever wanted ice cream with me to the ice cream store down the street. Their coffee ice cream wasn't so good. At any rate, Melissa and Nohea ordered chocolate ice cream and proceeded to make a chocolate mess, as shown below. Lissy stained her precious free Todai shirt. Before we left for ice cream, I asked Lissy if she was sure she wanted ice cream and not shaved ice. As soon as she saw the pretty shaved ice cups with the multi-colored shaved ice, she of course wanted shaved ice and not ice cream. Ugh.

Tomorrow I'll try to post pictures of our time at the beach, sans pictures of me in a bathing suit. I'll lose all my precious blog readers with that picture.

Dance Mother

Lilia had her first dance rehearsal last week. She's missing the recital because of our trip to Hawaii. Her little dance group at the American Fork Fitness Center danced to Cinderella's Bibbity Bobbity Boo. Not too many "dance mothers" at the Fitness Center, but one lady thought it her duty to tell me that another group would also be dancing to Bibbity Bobbity Boo. I'm not sure why she told me, as if I had any way I could change things, but that's how "dance mothers" are: they like to give unsollicited advice about the right shoes, the right hair pieces, and the right way to breathe. What am I getting myself into?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer was back

Just when we thought it was getting warm, today is COLD! I called my dad and he said it's cold in Burley, too, where Kulani and I are slated to compete in the Vikingman triathlon on Saturday. The Snake River is recording a nice 55 degrees. Wetsuits are mandatory, and we'll definitely be wearing our skull caps and booties. Even then, I hope I don't freeze on the bike. But maybe the bad weather will give me yet one more excuse to use when my time is so slow.

So because I don't want to be outside in that weather, we are all inside today sitting on the couch, watching Sesame Street, and drinking hot cocoa. I would love days like today if it weren't for my jitters about the Vikingman and all the things I need to get done. We leave for Hawaii the day after the triathlon. I think we'll just sun ourselves on the beach for a few days to recover from all this rigmarole.

Lilia had a playdate with her friend Lilli from preschool. Their similarities are eerie. First, their names are so similar. Than they look the same. They're both in families with all girls. Lilli has three sisters, and Lilia has two sisters. The preschool teacher said Lilia and Lilli are thick as theives. They both had speech-delay problems, but Lilli has caught up a little faster than Lilia. I'm glad they'll be going to the same kindergarten together. They may even end up in the same class.

Now it's time to take a power nap to recharge the ol' batteries (pronounced battries). Oi wei, my aching goiter. I need to put up my meshoykas and rest. I'm not sure those are Yiddish words, but sometimes I wish Mormon culture had a few more of the old-world words that give character to an ailing woman's vernacular. I guess I can borrow their phrases since under gentile in the dictionary it says anyone who isn't Jewish or who isn't Mormon.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Summer is Back

We went for a walk yesterday as a family and it was great. The evening air was warm with a light breeze, which brought the smell of locust blossom to us. Jesse had a great time jumping in and out of the canal. Lilia asked if she could run ahead and we let her. Lissy decided she wanted to run as well. That was big news, as Lissy usually resists walking and avoids running. Nono was content to sit in the stroller and watch it all from the soft seats. The sights, sounds, and smells reminded me how much I like living where we do. The mountain bike trails are close and are now opened, which should make this summer thing that much better.