Thursday, July 31, 2008

We hold these things self-evident ...

  1. There are two types of people: those who pee in wetsuits and those who lie about it.
  2. There are two types of people: those who love ABBA and those who secretly love ABBA.
  3. No matter how well you clean your house one day, it still takes close to two hours to clean it again the next day.
  4. People who claim to prefer the BBC version of The Office over the American version are pretentious and have never seen more than the first two episodes of the American version.
  5. The book is always better than the movie. We get it. No need to state it ever again--ever.
  6. It's couldn't care less; not could.
  7. Unless you're curing cancer, your hobby isn't on a higher moral ground than watching TV--including that novel you're reading.

Please, give me the strength to spend a windfall wisely

You know how I love watchin' my Oprah. Say what you will; it's pretty good television. Yesterday was about people who unwisely spend millions after winning the lottery or inheriting money. One guy did a social experiment where he gave a homeless man $100,000 to see if it would change his life. A year later and the guy has spent through the money and is homeless again. What I love is that Oprah called him on the carpet about his foolish choices. He was complaining that he ever got the money in the first place. Oprah basically called him ungrateful and said many people would love to have $100,000 to do whatever they please with it--but she did it in her very diplomatic, Oprah-ish way

Being around our old homeless friend Douglas, we learned pretty quickly that homelessness really does seem like a life choice. Douglas had mutliple job offers while he stayed with us, but he always turned them down. I know there are exceptions, but for the majority, it's a choice. But truthfully, how many of us are just a family-member away from being leaches on society? I grew up with a wealthy grandma. Actually, in my adult years I've learned she wasn't really "wealthy" but more "better off than us." My grandparents sent a letter when we were young that they would like to help each of the grandkids with college. When the time came, however, and especially after Grandpa died, Grandma wasn't so "forthcoming" with the money. To put it shortly, I didn't see a penny from this college fund.

But here's the point I'm getting at: hooray for Grandma! I used to be kind of bitter and upset by it, but now I'm glad I forged through college on my own (and some government help via Stafford loans). Grandma may have had a lot of money, but if she would've spent through it willy nilly-like, she may not have much of it now when she needs it most--and then she'd be a burden on her children. Her money is her money. We can, and should, be able to make it on our own. And Grandma did let me live with her while I went to BYU my first year, and she let me use a car she bought for more than four years. The next year I lived on my own, and I can still remember that incredibly great feeling of being nearly completely independent (Mom and Dad would still occasionally throw me a bone, and they paid for my car insurance.) I put a very high value on independence. I only have four more months of paying on my student loans; hallelujah. I fear that if I ever do happen onto a lot of money that I would pepper it on my family with vacations, expensive gifts, and hand-outs. What I took away from the Oprah show is that I will definitely be keeping any windfalls top secret. You won't be reading about it on my blog anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trip to Burley, Twin Falls

I've lived in Utah long enough to consider it home. Going back to the Mini-Cassia area, where I grew up, doesn't feel as much like going "home" as it used to. But Spudman time is a different story: I love the Spudman! I won't bore you on the specifics of the triathlon, as I'll likely write more about it on my triathlon blog. My brother B.J. took second overall, again, and my youngest sibling Edward took fifth overall and first in his age division. My sister, brother, and brother-in-law's team took second in their division, and my sister-in-law's team took first in her division. Kulani and I just finished, which in itself was a big accomplishment, especially since Kulani broke his collar bone barely six weeks earlier.

But after the Spudman, we took a trip to Twin Falls to see the new Twin Falls LDS Temple. They did a good job of welcoming people to the temple. As my friend Randy would say, the temple didn't catch fire when B.J. set foot in it, so that was good. (Just kidding, B.J.) The guide did a good job of giving Bible references for the different ordinances and symbols in the temple, so people not of our faith don't think we're "up in the night." I found it interesting that the protesters outside the temple had a poster that read "Sacred or Secret." That made me laugh. If the temple were truly just secretive, why would the LDS church allow people of all faiths to walk through it and explain generally what goes on inside? I think those protesters should feel ashamed. I don't think any of my good Christian friends would approve of protesting outside a temple open house. Can you imagine protesters outside a Jewish temple or synagogue, an Islamic temple, or a new Christian church being built in a community? It's silliness defined.

One thing the Twin Falls Temple had that sets it apart was a mural of the Shoshone Falls and Magic Valley. It was all very beautiful. My mom got emotional as always having so many of her children and grandchildren around her. Afterwards we went out for Baskin Robbins ice cream and then a quick trip to Shoshone Falls. A mural is nice, but the real thing is even better.

Hooray for Kiera Knightly!

I'm a tad jealous of Kiera Knightly. She's beautiful beyond words. She gets all the roles I would love to have if I were an actress. And she seems pretty smart. Kulani has a not-so-secret crush on her. Well, he doesn't vocally bespeak his interest in her, but I can see the drool hanging off his tongue whenever I re-watch Bend it like Beckham. But I have to give her some props for standing up against photo augmentation. I guess some people are unhappy with her flat chest (or as my awesome 3-year-old neighbor boy calls them, "power packs"), so her chest seems to puff out in post-production. She's not liking it, and she's being vocal against this trend to falsify her looks.

Hanging out at the A.F. pool a lot this summer has made me painfully aware that this desire for a "fluffier" chest is reaching epic proportions. It's all very discouraging for me. What message are we sending our daughters? However, I will say this: I saw more than one old woman in Burley this weekend who could seriously tuck the boulders into their pants. No joking. I give those ladies a pass. Fluff 'em up, ladies. Please. But that's more of safety issue--a crazy bumpy road and that lady could knock herself out.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Economy, schmeconomy--Let's have fireworks!

In the neighborhood just below ours people have more money than sense. For the past three years, the "covered-bridge neighborhood," as they call themselves because you must pass over a covered brige to enter their neighborhood, has hosted a fireworks extravaganza that can hardly be topped by any city fireworks show. The rumor is that they spend well over $100,000 on the fireworks. They even hire P.G. Fire Department to be on hand in case anything goes awry. This year you could hear the music the show was set to. We live above this neighborhood, so we get to enjoy the show quite well from our house or our local park. With the economy in a bad way this year, I thought maybe they wouldn't have the show, but nope--the show went on. Watching the fireworks with us were all of our neighbors. One family is dangerously close to losing their house because her husband lost his job and then got deathly ill while he had no insurance. It almost seems indecent to be watching money figuratively being blown up in the sky while families like our neighbors are hurting so badly. It's kind of like wearing a mink coat while volunteering to help out in a food bank.

Some good friends of ours live in the same ward as the "covered bridge" people. He says their neighborhood also has a handful of families losing their houses. The fireworks this year were bought entirely by one person. In the past, it was still primarily this one person, but a few families helped chip in a few thousand. Perhaps he makes so much money that a mere $100,000 wouldn't even begin to deplete the interest he earned on his millions this year. But still, $100,000 on fireworks?

Grumblings aside, it was a fun time for our family. Graciously we thank who ever it is that does this each year. It really is a highlight. If anyone would like to view the fireworks with us one year, come by our house around 9:30 p.m. And as long as this economy doesn't dip into a great depression, you can count on this family providing a really good show.

Nohea getting a cool down by the pool before the fireworks. Our pool comes with a blow-up duck. Top that, covered-bridge neighborhood!

The girls and Jesse waiting for the fireworks to begin. Jesse hates the fireworks. He has to stay indoors once they start. Could someone please get some pants on the baby?

Lissy giving her new trademarked thumbs up that makes an appearance in all the pictures, while Lilia shuts her eyes because furbies hate bright lights.

The fireworks from our view at the park. This shot, of course, does not give the fireworks their justice. My camera sucks at taking night pictures. For really great pictures of fireworks at night, read the James' blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Aunt Hetty!

So being from a big family (my mom had 10 kids), we tend to not remember each others birthdays, with Hetty being the big exception. Hetty was born on Pioneer Day and named after my mother's grandma, who was a grandchild of the pioneers. We all remember Hetty's birthday. Hetty is also the favorite aunt. Sorry to the rest of my sisters, but we all know it's true. I'm not the favorite aunt either, so there's that.

Hetty is now 25, if my calculations are correct. She was born in 1983. As a history lesson, 1983 was a pivotal year for the Norvel and Karen Christenson family. To review:
  • Dad and a partner started a new business called Tri-Sales Auto, later to become Overland Auto.

  • Mom went back to teaching after spending time as a laundromat attendant and stay-at-laundromat mom. (We lived in a house connected to a laundromat. Funnest house ever. We had 24-hour access to candy machines and pop machines and a pinball machine. We even got Space Invaders. These were the days before Nintendo. At night, we would strap on our roller skates and skate around the washing machines. It was Laudromat-Sweet-Laundromat.)

  • The family moved from our "Wash Tub" home on J Street to our home on Q Street in Heyburn.

  • With the birth of Hetty, Mom had 8 kids total. Her age--37. Ai, yai, yai! And I think I'm going crazy.

Hetty has had a few near-death experiences. The first of which came at the hands of Amy and Doug. After church one day, Doug and Amy decided to put baby Hetty (six months old) in a blanket between them. Doug took one end and Amy took the other end. They started rocking Hetty in the middle. Higher and higher Hetty swung. Doug suggested they make the swing go all the way around--sort-of like the Colossus for babies. One, two, three, followed by miscommunication and poor grip strength equals Hetty being swung from the blanket, across the room, and landing right on a conch shell my parents brought back from a trip to Hawaii. A quick trip to the emergency room and a few stitches later and Hetty was brand new.

Her other death-defying day came in the fall of 1996 when Hetty ran across the street to the Burley Junior High School only to be hit by a car, then ran over by same car. She suffered some major teeth loss, a broken pelvis and jaw, and many days in the hospital.

Hetty has survived until now, knock on wood. My mom gets a little emotional talking about her three youngest "angel" children. A friend of ours once said that Heavenly Father blesses families with easier children the more children you have. It's an interesting thought, and truly, it only seems fair. Hetty now lives in Pocatello with her husband Jeff Gower. Hetty served an LDS mission to Hamburg, Germany and graduated from USU earlier this year in psychology. We continue to be quiet observers on the rest of her life, with an occasional shout out, like this one. Happy birthday, Hetty the Queen!

Holding my Interest

I happened upon a re-run of The Greatest American Hero the other day. We loved that TV show when we were kids, or that is, I thought we did. We always sang the song ... "Believe it or not I'm walking on air. I never thought I could feel so free-ee-ee." We would pretend we were the Greatest American Hero when we jumped on the trampoline, and then land all scuwumpy like he did on the show every week. What I don't remember was how terribly bad that show was. It was painful watching it. I kept watching it just so I could get to the song at the end. The plotline on this particular episode found the U.S. in dire straights as one of their cutting-edge, top-secret fighter planes was hijacked by a black-market dealer who was holding an auction on American soil (somewhere in Los Angeles) with major enemies of the United States to sell the stolen merchandise. Unfortunately, the police couldn't intervene because they were on no-man's land inside the United States consulate. Dang! Oh the joys of pre-911 democracy! The GAH discovered his suit could make him invisible, so he just walked in and took the black box of the plane off the table during the auction. No one stopped him, because they couldn't believe the box would just float away in front of their eyes. Clever!

When I start to think of it, a lot of shows and movies I loved in my childhood don't hold up with time. My favorite Indiana Jones used to be the second one: The Temple of Doom. Not so much anymore. It kind of sucks. Another movie I used to like was a Kevin Bacon film called Quicksilver. It's about a stockbroker who loses all his money and clients in one really bad day at the market. So what does he do? He becomes a bicycle messenger. Somehow he convinces a rag-tag bunch of people to invest their savings with him, and somehow he makes them all very rich. Thus giving a huge boon to the day trader idea, much like Juno makes teenage pregnancy look appealing.

I'd forgotten how nice and tight those television shows of the 80s liked to wrap-up each episode. The show 21 Jumpstreet wasn't too bad upon adult-onset Cindy watching, but it was fairly cheesy how it wrapped up at the end. The principal of the school had taken a severe crack-down on all the students, expelling offenders left and right. The school was beginning to resemble a mini-Nazi Germany. The students eventually revolted in a somewhat calm manner, and told the principal that they were on strike until the school board voted him out. At the end, the students were seen at full attention listening to the English teacher who earlier in the show was chastised by the principal for teaching the children about The Great Gatsby. Why doesn't each day end as smoothly?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


As we were leaving Mama Mia!, Kulani overheard the following conversation amongst two grown adults:

Woman to man: "All during the movie I could feel you flinching. I know you were thinking, 'I'm missing work for THIS; I took time out to go to the movie with you for THIS!' Thanks a lot for ruining my movie experience!"

I didn't hear the man's response. My comment to Kulani was a) they're either newly married, or (b) they will soon be divorced. I can recall in the recesses of my mind when I would have said something similar to Kulani--you know, in the beginning of our marriage when I was still sooo offended if he didn't like absolutely everything I did. How does anyone survive those early years of marriage, especially if one marries young, naive, and insecure? I'm not holding my marriage up to any gold standard by any means, but I am proud of how I've matured as exemplified by my comments to Kulani on Saturday:

Cindy to Kulani: "I can't believe you are watching this movie with us this weekend, it means so much to me. I know this movie sucks, but you're still here. I know you would rather be in a million other places than here, but here you are nonetheless. I love you!"

It seems to me, and I can be wrong, but a lot of arguments in marriage are the exact same problem, just different sides of the coin. Yes, that lady was annoyed that her husband wasn't enjoying the movie as much as she was, but he was probably annoyed that she strung him along. He's probably thinking, "Why didn't you just have GNO and leave me at home to work?" Next time maybe he'll suggest that to her, and be the perfect dream husband by doing the dishes while she's out with her gal pals. And maybe she'll be the perfect wife by not being "too tired" later that night. Marriage seems so simple on paper--and blogs. That's enough for today, Dr. Phil.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nursery Happenings

This one won't be too long, but it was a funny day in the nursery. I can't remember everything that went down, but I do remember laughing at some of the things that were said. The best, however, was seeing Josh come out of the bathroom with his pants on backwards. He looked like those pictures you sometimes see (that really make me gag, but when you see it in real life, it's another story) of a little boy trying on his dad's clothes. A big shout out goes to little Cannon, who usually cries non-stop and we are forced to get his parents. But today, though he cried some, he still managed to soldier on and he stayed nearly the entire time without his parents intervening. Way to go, Cannon!

And a little side note: I really don't think getting the kids to come in at 12 months will help squelch the crying. This is up for discussion amongst my blog readers, but we often hear parents wishing children could go to nursery at 12 months instead of waiting until 18 months when the seperation anxiety sets in. We've had children who started out really good when they first enter nursery, but within months, they start crying. There's no rhyme or reason why some kids cry and some don't. We've seen kids who go to daycare during the week cry when left in nursery. We've seen kids who never leave their mom's side do great when left in nursery, and vice versa. I've even seen children whose parents are going through a difficult time do fairly well when left in nursery. They might need more hugs and holding, but they do pretty well. I can't figure it out. I wish there was some magic phrase we could say to children so they wouldn't cry, but there isn't. Like many things in life, you just cope with it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Movie Premiere Weekend

So we've been waiting with baited breath for this weekend's premiere of a highly anticipated movie everyone wants to see. It took some doing, but we managed to secure four tickets to the 2 p.m. Saturday showing of ... Mama Mia!
To say Kulani took one for the team is putting it mildly. There were probably eight guys in the whole theater, and the rest were screaming, raving women. But me and the girls loved it. Lilia was dancing in her seat to every song. She told me she "LOVED" the movie.
If you're an ABBA fan, you will love Mama Mia. It was a super fun movie. It reminded me of how much I loved musicals growing up, especially Grease. This is my new Grease. And though his singing kind of stunk, Pierce Bronsnan still has huge chemistry. One thing I really liked about the movie is that the people looked real. The lead girl wasn't some waif--she was kind-of homely, but in a pretty way. And Meryl Streep has definitely aged, but she's aged in a good, natural way. I've never seen the stage production, but it was pretty masterful how all the ABBA songs fit into the story line like a well-fitted glove (if the glove don't fit, you must acquit). And the filming and scenery were beautiful. I'd like my next vacation to be to a secluded Greek island. Could you take that one for the team, Kulani? Thanks for the fun afternoon sitting through this musical with your girls, and I know you loathe musicals. I tried to repay the favor by watching your UFC last night. I didn't stay awake for too long, but I tried to look interested.

* Note to sisters: Amy wants us to all go up to Idaho for the Cassia County Fair, then take a girls' night out to see Mama Mia. If it's in the cards, plan for it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lemonade Stands

I try to live by the advice I was once given to stop at kids' lemonade stands. Today I happened to have two actual dollars in my mini-van. (Who carries cash around nowadays?) On my way back from the fitness center, I drove past a lemonade stand run by two 9-year-old boys. They had many varieties, and though it was just me, Melissa, and Nohea, I bought four 50-cent lemonades. They were very helpful and were planning on being there all week for the American Fork Steel Days. The parade route would be going right by their stand. They asked if I knew whether or not they needed a permit to sell their lemonade. I told them they probably didn't. They even asked if they could help me back to my car. I love that entrepreneurial spirit!

For years, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. My best friend Keri and I spent many a summer day thinking up money-making schemes. We tried selling lemonade, candy, Orange Julius, and even fruit roll-ups. Keri's mom had a recipe for fruit roll-ups, and we called Jim Brown, a neighborhood parent who was the produce manager at Smith's, and asked if he could secure us any old, discarded fruit the store couldn't sell. He even brought us a half box of peaches. None of our schemes generated more than a couple of bucks. (The candy stand operated in the negative, due to older brothers stealing our stash.) We were most successful at working on people's farms. We worked for Keri's dad picking rye from wheat one summer. Other summers we worked for Jana Baily's dad weeding in his sugar beet fields. Then we turned 16 and found jobs in the community: me as cashier at Kmart and Keri as a teller at the D.L. Evans Bank. Minimum wage beat $3/acre or whatever the rate was.

Kulani too once had an entrepreneurial spirit. He had a successful worm-farming business from ages 9 up. He was also a vice president for the Utah chapter of Future Business Leaders of America.

Though we won't be daring enough to try opening up our own business any time soon, we love to support local establishments. Our family theme is "Everybody eats when they come to my house." But another one of our themes could be "Stop at every shack." When in Hawaii, our number one goal each day is to find local food, local fruit stands, etc. The family I grew up in will stop at every hole-in-the wall possible. On their way to Blanding for my wedding reception, they stopped at three stores literally called shacks: The Jerky Shack, The Shake Shack, and the Shackity Shack. Okay, maybe not that last one. It used to annoy Kulani how much my family stops on trips, but he's starting to get more shackily inclined himself.

Not to preach, but if you happen by a lemonade stand today, stop and buy a cup, even if you aren't thirsty. You'll be making some kid's day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Turning into my mother

It's official: I'm turing into my mother. We've been watching the 7-year-old neighbor girl for the past few weeks while her older sister is visiting back East somewheres. (I think blogs are the perfect place for colloquialisms, so please excuse me if you don't like them.) I've treated her like she was one of my own, making her clear the dishes, clean up the rooms, etc. I don't think she is required to do much in her home, as she is the youngest by quite a ways, and she spends some of her time as an only child at her dad's house. At any rate, my oldest daughter told me that Kayla (the neighbor girl) told her: "Your mom is so mean." Many a friend said that exact phrase to me whilst growing up. But I'll have the last laugh in the end. Would a "mean mom" take the kids swimming or to the matinee, hand out fresh-made bread with jam to all the neighbor kids, and freely offer popsicles? I think not! It's time I start doing that...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Grandma's Couch

Grandma and Grandpa McEuen moved from sunny southern California to south Orem in 1987. They bought a brand-new home in a nice neighborhood directly behind Utah Valley University, or the "Tech" as we called it in those days. Grandma insisted on a formal living room and paid good money to have an interior designer decorate the living room in lovely late 80s colors of pink and blue. They even had a special white couch with blue and white flowers embroidered on it. The grandkids were not allowed in this area of the house. Few people, except a home or visiting teacher, ever sat on the couch.

About two years ago, Grandma's Alzheimer's got bad enough that she needed to live in a place where she could be watched and her needs could be taken care of on a 24-hour basis. Grandpa left us in 1993. The family found her a nice assisted living center in Orem, which she has really enjoyed. In fact, for us grandkids who knew her rather cantakerous side and her impatience for all things disorderly, getting to know her and visiting her in the home has been rather nice. She's pleasant to be around and kind. She doesn't have much to worry about. We had one last huge "magic carpet*" game trying to get rid of all of Grandma's stuff, which included the lovely embroidered couch. And guess who got it? Me. It's been a blessing and a curse, because, well ... see for yourself:

Yes, Melissa took the marker to it. It's a washable marker, and I'm hoping we can get it out, but yeah. It survived 20 years in Grandma's house and less than two in mine. You can say it's because I have small kids, etc., but for those of us who know her, you get the sense that this kind of thing would have never happened in Grandma's house, no, not even when she had young kids. Grandma is a very no-nonsense, take charge, and orderly type of person. You never wanted to displease Grandma. She didn't necessarily have to SAY anything, but she had a LOOK. You never wanted to get that LOOK--worse than hearing Forrest Gump's drill sergeant yell directly into your ear canal from 3 hair-centimeters away.

I lost it with Melissa. I didn't think I would be a spanker, but she got a spankin', then I sent her to her room. After I'd calmed down, I asked her why she did it. She said she couldn't find any paper. Makes sense in a way. No paper? Use Grandma's embroidered neo-antiquesh couch. Who can argue with a 4-year-old's logic?
* Magic Carpet is a game Grandma invented in 1984 for one of the reunions. All the kids were ushered outside. In the meantime, Grandma would lay out a big blanket and put tons of treasures out on the blanket. Some of the treasures included socks, slippers, puzzles, books about self-esteem, comic books, junk yard finds, etc. Some things really were kind of valuable. The first year she did it, she slipped a $5 bill in a Bible. The Bible was the last thing to go, but the lucky person who picked it found the surprise. We played Magic Carpet nearly every Christmas the family was together and every reunion. Grandma loves garage sales, and it gave her a good excuse to find more "treasures." I tried playing Magic Carpet at Kulani's reunion. The kids didn't really get it, and the adults kept trying to get the kids to take the "valuable" things. My little girls loved it; the teenagers were indifferent; and the adults spoiled the fun. If I do Magic Carpter again, it will only be for those under the age of 10.

To your ownself be true

Unlike the cheesy blogposts that riddle the Internet, I have had to look deeper into myself these past two days to see if there is any depth to me. Am I just a booblehead agreeing to pacify others, or am I a woman of substance--with a conscience to seek the right? A discussion on Sunday has led me to deeper wells. A "helpful" ward member popped into our nursery to offer advise on how to better serve the children and ourselves. Kulani and I both disagreed with what he/she was saying, but to get him/her out of the room, I went overboard with my agreement. "Oh yeah, that sounds just awesome. We should do that," is how I responded to his/her advice.

After the person left, Kulani looked at me with shock in his eyes. I told him I just agreed with the person so he/she would leave. That's when Kulani said something to me that has really caused me to think: "So are you just blowing smoke at me to pacify my feelings?"

When am I blowing smoke and when am I real? Unlike Nephi in the Book of Mormon, I am not a good speaker. I would rather write my response to people than to speak it. Everyone hates confrontation, but truly, everyone needs to get over that. Confrontation leads to learning and understanding. There's a right way and a wrong way to do it, but it needs to be done.

So with that, I headed into Monday: the day to pull on your overalls and get 'er done. At McDonald's, the drive-thru left out my Melissa's chicken McNuggets. The old Cindy would have not bothered turning around and going back to get the nuggets. Not the new Cindy. I turned right around and asked for our McNuggets, dammit (only I didn't swear). They gave them to me in no short order, as my eyes gave them the what-for.

Then I took the girls on a bit of a service project. My bachelor boss's 90-year-old mom is dying. He's out in Georgia with her. I was instructed to feed his cat. His house looked how I imagine most 50+-year-old men who don't end up getting married looks like: a hell hole. Luckily I have the skill of turning off my nose as I cleaned out a pot from his fridge that looked to hold some type of soup from the 1980s. My little girl Lilia, bless her heart, hasn't adapted the skill of turning off the nose yet, and nearly got sick on the floor. A few dirty diapers, sweetheart, and you'll get there. As I was cleaning my boss's house, I noticed his penchant for all things, shall we say, not good on the Internet (he had a list of sites he likes to frequent). After dusting off his computer and straightening his stack of papers, I found a Bible and laid it on his keyboard. Then I wrote a note and stuck it to the monitor that said, "Out, Demons, Out! Sincerely, Your Priest." Exorcism complete, I went home.

So now I might be taking it overboard. Perhaps the new Cindy will be bold enough to go into someone else's Sunday school class and tell him/her how to run things. Really, I see improvements that can be made everywhere. I even told Kulani to hang up his belt last night. The lion is unleashed. Get her back in the cage!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pictures of the 4th

My DH (dear husband, okay, last acronym, I promise) forgot to post pictures from the 4th of July in Blanding. I'm kicking myself that I don't have Lilia's dance on camera. She definitely takes after my sweet and spastic dance moves. Think of the dance Napolean does at the end of Napolean Dynamite, then fast forward it. And throw in a finger wave (you know, like you're saying, "uh uh, don't go there, grrl"). That was Lilia. At one point during her dance routine, her 7-year-old cousin turns to me and says, "Can you believe that's your daughter, because she is wonderful!" You should have seen Lilia's face. She was so serious about the whole thing.

Here's Lilia at the start of the kid's fun run the morning of the 4th. She ran a mile and didn't stop the whole time, even though it was kind of hilly. She wanted to stop at one point, but she told herself to keep going.

Here is everyone who participated in the 5K. I was remarkably slow this year. I made it in at 29:38. Three years ago, I did the same race in under 24 minutes. That's what 15 extra pounds will do to you. From left: Koa, Susan, Lilia, Me, Angela, and Makani. Koa was the fastest. Angela is nearly 20 years my senior, and she beat me by three minutes.

Here's a picture of Nohea on the float. Nohea was a pill nearly this entire trip. She wanted me to hold her at all times. Aunt Angela said to Kulani, "I don't want this to go to your head, but she's the cutest baby I've ever seen." Angela, it totally went to our heads. Nohea, don't let it go to yours. Notice the sign on the back of the float. It's a $1 bamboo mat and honest to goodness, the sign was traced in black Sharpie marker at the last minute, and it says, "Stand Up and Be Counted."
This is my nephew Alika and Kuhia driving around in one of Mahana's newest toys. Mahana and Kalei were the superstars of the reunion. They allowed us to trample all over their house; play in their pool; sleep in their bedrooms; and borrow their toys. We thought we would all eat lunch at the 4th of July carnival, but the lines were so long and they moved sooo slowly. Kalei said she'd whip us up some Navajo tacos in no time flat, and they'd be better than the ones we would get at the booths. With the help of Angela and her Navajo bread recipe, it was so true. Big thanks to Mahana and Kalei!

This is another picture of the float. I rode in the very back with Nohea. Kulani road in the truck with the driver. From left: Kelana, Melissa, Meakalia, Kanani, and Madison.

Check out these old-timey games they had at the Fourth of July carnival. this one is called, "Climb the greased poll and if you get to the top to ring the bell, you get $10." This is Madison giving it a go. Right before she got on, the guy re-greased the poll with shortening. She didn't make it to the top.
Here's a picture of our girls with Grandma and Grandpa Fisher. Check out the quintessential hat Grandpa is wearing. That is Grandpa's surveying hat, going around town hat, and riding a camel in the desert hat. It's a very versatile hat. Grandma and Grandpa were the center of the float. they sat under the "tiki hut" we made for them, with the grandkids riding at their feet under the "rainbow."

Makalea and Nohea enjoyed jumping up and down in the stroller together.

Can't wait for the next reunion! And neither can Kulani. He'll grumble and be the hater that he is, but he'll go, feet dragging and me pulling him by his ears.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

'Home' For the Fourth

This weekend we gathered the clan and headed down to Blanding for the 4th of July and a family reunion. If it were up to me, I'd never go to any family reunions. Not even my own. I have various and sundry reasons as to why, not the least of which is that I'm a hater. As I grow older, I get more and more comfortable with who I am. That comfort doesn't extend to family reunions.

The original plan for the reunion included a float. After flip-flopping several times, someone decided we should try to put it together the night before. We ended up doing a junk-yard wars version of a float. I still have a hard time believing that the bunch of A-types that are my brothers signed off on this:

The real beauty of this float was that tassled thing in the background. If you had to guess, what would you think it was? It's supposed to be a rainbow. My only constructive suggestion was to leave it out entirely.

The 11-year old bad-ass water gunner and sweet bandanna arm-bands were just bonuses. We never did really fit in around town and I'm pretty sure this isn't going to help things.

Friday night was my turn to cook. I took a flier and did my beer-boiled brats as well as Italian sausages done in beer and apple cider. I guess it wasn't that big of a risk, since I cooked it at my brother's house instead of my mom's house. If my mom had known how it was done, there would have been no end to my mom's despair. After all, my mother still thinks I was the worst kid in town and doesn't shy away from telling others. After the float, it was good to be able to do some damage control with the sausages.

Friday night was the fireworks show. It. . . was. . . awesome. Seriously. Two things about the fireworks show took me by surprise. First was how good it was. Second was how many people were there. I left my parents' house, drove less than a mile, and found myself fighting a good ol' Utah-County style crowd right there in San Juan County. I'm still puzzling over where all those people came from.

Saturday we had the luau and the talent show. The problem is that my kids are a little small for talents and school robbed me of any talents that are viewer-friendly. Lilia did end up busting out an enthusiastic dance routine to Michael Jackson's "Rock with You."

The fun and games ended Sunday. But not before we went to the Blanding 5th ward. My home ward. Over the weekend I noticed a lot of people are looking a lot older. Morris Swenson and Clisbee Lyman were not two of those people. I'm pretty sure they are two of the three nephites. There was also a gem during fast-and-tell-your-story meeting. This old bird that recently moved to town gave a rousing account of each of her children that moved to town as well as where they live, a description of her garden, her house, and her shed. She also described in wonderful detail their woodshop and a food storage cellar that they dug under the woodshop, which unearthed an underground spring. How did she know it was a spring? Because it had water in it during the winter AND the summer. Then she described how they went about trying to maintain the cellar while capturing the water in a storage tank. Riveting stuff.