Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Adventures

What a great Halloween! The weather was great; it sprinkled slightly, but it wasn't too cold. The girls didn't even need coats, even though Lilia's costume included a coat. She was very hot and red by the end of the night. She wanted to go as a weather girl. Lissy was Cinderella. And Nohea went as Bjork wearing the dead duck outfit to the Grammy's (or was it swan?). See proof below.

There were some really great costumes showing up at the door tonight--customers, as Lissy called them. Here are two cute customers: James (Frankenstein) and Bennett (tractor) Horne. Lindsay actually made both the costumes. They were precious.

Kulani took the kids around to the houses this year. We had homemade pizza for dinner. Here's a picture of our jack-o-lantern pizza.

The girls got all kinds of candy, even a coveted FSCB (full-size candy bar) that I only dreamed about but never actually possessed when I was a youngster. I forced the kids out of trick-or-treat retirement when I realized we forgot about the Greenwoods fame toothbrushes (the neighborhood dentist). They delivered in fine form, even giving me an adult-sized toothbrush.

Deerfield Halloween Parade

I thought the neighbors might get a kick out of the pictures I took of the kids at the Halloween parade. I tried to catch as many of the kids as I could find. To see the pictures, just click on the pile. If you want the picture removed from this blog, just notify me in the comments.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keepin the yap shut

If I have an achilles heel--hard to believe but I do--it would be the big mouth God blessed me with. Don't get me wrong, it has been a blessing (like the time I stuffed 32 grapes in my mouth only to be beaten by my oldest sister who stuffed a whopping 52 into hers), but it's also been a curse.

Let me give you a few examples:

We were living in WyView housing across from LaVell Edwards Stadium at BYU. We were assigned some new home teachers. On their first visit, we were visiting with them and asking the normal get-to-know-you questions. Somehow it came up that one of the home teacher's father had passed away. Please learn from my mistake: when death comes up in conversation, never ask how the person died. So brilliantly, that's what I asked.

Me: "Oh, how did your father die?"
Home teacher: "He was murdered."
Me inside my head: "Murdered? What the heck?! Seriously, murdered?"
Kulani sitting next to me: (Holding my hand so tight as if to say, "If you ask any more follow-up questions, I'm going to squish you like a bug.")

Followed by awkward phrases, silences, and me saying something like, "Can you believe this weather? I don't know about y'all, but this heat is killing me, I mean, uh, it's hot. Hot to trot. Trot, as in horses trot. Did you see that movie about the horse and the little boy?" Nice cover-up.

They should provide classes for key phrases to say when you've found your foot in your mouth.

If I know I have a difficult conversation that I will be facing, I try to practice my dialog beforehand. Recently, I had a conversation with a family member concerning another family member's destructive behavior. The conversation was from love and concern and it was an SOS distress call, but it really helped to think about what I was going to say beforehand. Otherwise, with my mouth, the conversation could have turned to so: "I'm not kidding you. This is the craziest stuff I've ever heard of. You've got to get down there and bust a skull."

Kulani has often warned me to not bring up politics or religion with people. After being burned 1,000 times, I think I've finally learned my lesson. How does Linus put it: "I've learned there are three things you don't discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin."

While in Hawaii, I made the mistake of asking our fishing guide, who was professing his born-again Christianity, what his thoughts were on the Rapture. I'd just watched an interesting documentary on it on the History channel. That led to him asking me what my religion was, and after I answered Mormon, it was all over but the fishing. I had to endure hours worth of dialog about why Mormons aren't Christian, why Joseph Smith was a charlatan, and why I'm going to hell. If only I could swim better; I was tempted to jump off the boat in the middle of the ocean and make a swim for it. He finally managed to calm down, and we ended up having a pleasant conversation about the change from within, and how his impetus for change was having a child die.

I'm a journalist by trade, and I like to ask questions. If I happen to enter my personal thoughts into the dialog, it's only to spur additional thought and conversation. The truth is, when I ask questions, I'm interested in dialog and discussion.

However, what I have finally realized is that the question can be as igniting as the discussion. So it's enough. I'm out. I'll talk with you about movies, books, music, family dynamics; maybe not pets--some people think pets are people too; weather, yard work; not so much your views on schooling; weight-loss solutions, the correct way to clean granite, your favorite brand of sneakers, kids, dentists, body odors, old teachers; not Oprah--she's a surprisingly igniting character; your favorite SNL skits, favorite Brady Bunch episode, etc. So as you can see, we still have lots to talk about. But I'm gonna bust your skull if you say your favorite brand of sneakers is Nike.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why am I crying?

Read this and then this, and you'll be crying too. Hold 'em, love 'em, squeeze 'em while you can.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'll show you iniative, Fisher!

This post is is mostly for Fish's benefit:

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

How do you like my iniative, now?! Calmer than you are.

A return to nursery happenings...

It's been a while since I posted about our nursery happenings. Perhaps you'd like another look into what goes on in the nursery and why you can thank the dear bishop why you do not have this calling.

Last Sunday was crying-baby central. It was Maya's first week, and she was excited for all of two minutes until she realized her dad was gone, and then it was a break down. Kylie has developed a fear of me and Kulani, but amazingly, she made a connection with substitute Laurie and was able to not cry as long as she stayed near Laurie.

A new girl, whose name escapes me, can sing most of the main verse to "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music. I was very impressed and asked if I could sing with her. We sang a great duet to our appreciative crowd of 2 and 3 year olds. We also had two little brother visitors who were as cute as can be. They sang "I am like a star shining brightly" in perfect tone and pitch, something you don't hear too often in the nursery.

Addie decided we should all call her "Linus" for the day.

Kulani has had his game face on for the past couple of Sundays. He'd missed a few previous Sundays due to other engagements, but now he's back into the swing of things. He's been able to quiet down Jackson and Sarah.

Allison is really doing well; she only cries for the first 5 minutes, but then she's playing quietly with the toys.

Josh is the bruiser of the nursery, but in a loving way. You've got to see it to believe it. He's a big kid, and he likes to be hands on with hugs, etc. He gets rather excited when it's time for bubbles or the parachute. We usually assign one supervisor to just watch Josh during he bubbles. But he's been improving, and he has such an angelic face that you just know he doesn't mean to be hurtful; he's just born that way.

Kamen is starting to exert his will on the other kids. The third child in a family always seems to get to that point eventually; our Nohea is also guilty of will-enforcing.

Until next week, the nursery is closed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting cheap ... Fisher Style

So by now we get the gravity of these's time to cut back, cynch down our economy belts, and be uber cautious about spending money. This particular Fisher family, well, we haven't been the best about spending wisely, specifically when it comes to food. The old ways ended tonight!

As Kulani puts it, "I don't work these long hours not to enjoy life." So we've adapted our spend-thrift ways to our foodie lifestyle. Perhaps you'd be interested in how to still be foodies while cutting down on the grocery budget. Here is our one-week plan that we hope leads to a lifestyle habit.

It started with a return check from Costco in the amount of $90. What should we do with $90 to stretch our food budget? Answer: Buy a 13 pound vacuum-packed top sirloin at $2.59/pound, bringing the total to $34.00. Excellent start. Then we bought some other sundries such as pineapple, milk, chocolate chips, bread, stuff for kids' lunches, and a splurge on some discounted hand soap that smelled really good, but now I'm wishing I would have spent it on canned veggies. I'm a sucker for nice-smelling hand soap that's on sale.

The plan:

About two years ago we bought the Cabela's meat slicer that comes on sale during the day-after Thanksgiving sales for $50. It has been a great investment. Tonight Kulani and I sliced up the 13 pound top sirloin to make the following six meals:
  • Two nights of chili (all total--4 pounds of the sinewy stew meat). One night is for the ward chili cook-off and the other batch we cooked tonight to try out our new chili recipe we're going to enter in the chili cook-off. We adjusted an Alton Brown recipe, and you can read more about it on our cooking blog.

  • Two nights of tasty steaks. Again, you can eat cheaper than this, and you could stretch it out too, by throwing in an egg-sandwich dinner night or grilled-cheese sandwich night. But for less than $3.00 a pound, you can also still eat very well.

  • One night of Argentine milanesa. Recipe is also on our cooking blog.

  • One night of Kalbi. Like milanesa, you slice the meat very thin and marinate it in a Korean kalbi sauce (found at Asian specialty stores). We had a leftover bottle of kalbi sauce from the luau.

Other uses for the meat could be:

  • sliced thin for philly steak sandwiches
  • stir-fry
  • stew
  • ground into hamburger for sloppy joes or meatloaf.
All total, with prep and clean-up, it probably took us an hour to get the meat sliced, diced, and bagged. The nice thing is that now everything is pre-prepped for dinner this weak. So not only are we saving money, but we're saving time and calories thanks to portion-controlled meals. For sides we usually keep it simple by either having a potato or rice with cooked vegetables.
The following picture is of the five dinners: Steaks, milanesa, steaks, chili meat, and kalbi.
Kulani slicing the meat.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Here's the thing ...

Do you hate the titled phrase, or do you love it? Like Barack Obama, I'm probably guilty of oversaying the phrase. But it's the phrase I use to relax you, pacify you, then wham you with my incomplete ideological platform.

But here's the thing: I'm not saying one way or the other how I'm voting. But what has been itching away at me, ever since Ben from Chicago brought it up in a conversation many months ago, is why didn't McCain choose Mitt Romney as his running mate? In a word: Mormonism.

As most people know, Mormons tend to vote conservatively, almost exactly along with the Christian right. In other words, they vote Republican (huge generalization, but that's what Political Science is all about). And it's clear from the escallating dialog that Americans were uncomfortable voting for a Mormon, specifically the Republican base made up of Evangelical Christians. Perhaps it was actually that people didn't like Romney, which I can get. I'm not above thinking he was a bit of a flippy-flopper. But part of me thinks it wouldn't matter which Mormon was running for president, he or she would not be electable. My question is, then, where do Mormons fit in? Are we really welcome in the Republican party? Is it time we switch to the Democratic party, but bring the social conservatism views along with us?

At first, Palin seemed like a wise choice for McCain when she showed up to the Republican National Convention with her good looks, cute family, and smacking tone. I wanted to give her a shot. Oh, boy did I. But then she gave those two interviews and, well, maybe you still like her, so I'll be quiet. But what would the election look like now if McCain had chosen Romney instead?

McCain admitted his weak point was the economy; Romney's strong point is the economy. Maybe the poll numbers would still look like they do, but I think it would be closer, maybe even showing McCain with a slight lead.

I know one thing for sure, Romney wouldn't be referring to "average Joe Six-pack," which when I first heard Palin use that phrase I thought up a guy with six-pack abs (yes, I've been in Utah too long). No, Romney would have probably used the phrase "average Peter Priesthood." Now that's a guy I can connect with.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stream of Consciousness

I'm up early. I'm trying to work. I'm tired. And my mind is fixating on the following:

Haters Rant:
  • I hate, no, more like loathe, the following half-words: convo, fave, yumm-o, and the worst: vacay.
  • I loathe Madonna. Never liked her. Ever. Maybe for half a second I liked "Borderline." HATED "Vogue." Guy Ritchie has had enough of her too. Why do I hate her? She comes across as self-absorbed, does everything for publicity, can't relax, and her music stinks.
  • Hatin' on the dishes right now.
  • Hatin' re-watching the Flying Wallenda brother walk the tight-rope on the Today Show. My heart can't take it.
  • Hatin' watching the stock market. Just don't tell me. It's enough already.

Lovers Rant:

  • I love Halloween costumes that are homemade and original, like the giant box of Tide I saw walking around last year.

This early in the morning, that's all the positive things my brain can think of. I'm not sure I'm even going to post this. Looks like I did. Grouch out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Defining Moment from the Third Grade

One of the stated purposes of this blog is to provide a place where we document some of things that we know about each other that our kids (and others) might not know. This is one of those experiences.

In the third grade I was in Rex Anderson's class. My former friend Travis was assigned to the class, but his mother didn't let him make it to the first day and had him assigned to another class. One of the principles that guided my parents was a belief that asking for an exception was tantamount to an assertion that you were more important than everyone else similarly situated. So, they left me in the class.

The third grade was a scary lesson on how a manipulative and slightly deranged man could abuse his power as a teacher. I have some lingering issues with 'Sexy Rexy', if you can't tell. Rex had the creepy habit of letting some of the kids (both boys and girls) sit on his lap as well as letting those same kids enter (and change) grades. I wasn't one of those kids. In fact, it was pretty clear that I was one of Rex's least favorites.

One manifestation of his disdain resulted in the defining moment that provided the title. One of Rex's activities was to have a sing-a-long time. The kids would gather in a semi-circle at the front of the room and then kids could get up and sing any song they wanted for the group. It was generally a voluntary activity. Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" was a favorite. Unlike some of my classmates, I avoided being center stage at nearly all costs. I still have a deep and abiding fear of public speaking. So, it was no surprise that I never volunteered to sing. One day, Rex decided it was my turn to sing. I tried as politely as possible to tell him that I didn't want to. Instead, he stood me in front of the class and made me say over and over, "I'm the Pineapple Capital of the World" as the other children laughed. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. It seemed to go on forever. Eventually, it got old and I was allowed to sit down.

Fortunately, it was the last activity of the day and afterwards I ran the short distance home. I managed to keep it together most of the way, but remember coming undone as I walked through the front yard before I even made it through the front door. I told my mother the story. She immediately called my father, who came straight home. I huddled in a corner in my parents' room, doing my best to get it back together, when my dad arrived. He asked me to tell him the story, and I did my best to tell my side of it through the stammering.

My dad's response was surprising: "What do you think it means, that you're the Pineapple Capital of the World?"

I responded, "I don't know."

"Yes, you do. Think about it. What does that mean?" came my father's reply.

"That I'm Hawaiian?" I guessed.

"That's right. Are you ashamed of being Hawaiian?"


"Then don't let it bother you. The next time he makes you do that, get up in front of the class and say it proudly."

That realization was life changing. Several days passed. Maybe it was weeks. That interval is a blur, but I clearly remember that the next time we had sing-a-long time, a knot was building in my stomach as we gathered around the semi-circle. Sure enough, Rex called me back up for a repeat performance. With a confidence that belied my fear, I belted out, "I am the Pineapple Capital of the World." It was immediately apparent that the shaming effect was lost on me this time and Rex had me sit down almost immediately. As I sat down, a feeling of pride and accomplishment welled up in me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hot Shower Saves the Night

Nohea has been coughing every night for the last couple of weeks, keeping us awake and annoyed. Up until last night, I gave her a small dosage of children's cough syrup. Then watching my early morning news, I learned cough syrup isn't good for children under 6. They suggested wired and frantic mothers try running hot water in a bathroom and letting the child breath in the steam. Of course I've heard this before, but I'd never tried it. Last night, or rather early this morning, I tried it once Nohea started on the nightly coughing habit. I stood in the hot shower holding her (standing to the side of the spout so as not to get us wet), letting her breath in the vapors for a good 10 minutes. She continued to cough while I firmly yet gently patted her back.

I exited the shower, and miracles of miracles, it worked. Not one more cough escaped her throat, and she is still sleeping soundly next to Kulani as I write this. I've been able to get in some healthy work hours.

I'm amazed at my mothering efforts in recent years. I'm not bragging against someone else's mothering skills (because I've known much better mothers than me), but I am admitting that I feel as though I'm becoming a better and gentler mother with each child. I was able to calmly and sweetly help my baby back to sleep last night even though I was extremely tired.

I remember when Lilia would awaken in the night crying with earaches when she was a baby. We were living with Lani at the time, so we would quickly try to ease her pain. Though I was gentle, my nerves would be a wreck. And then Melissa came and we lived in our new house, and I was probably the least understanding of her needs, making her cry herself to sleep within months of her birth. She was actually a fairly easy baby, though, but not so much of an easy toddler. But she seems to have turned a corner, and she's extremely pleasant to be with these days.

Last night at Family Home Evening, we had the first ever Fisher Family Fitness Test. The lesson was on the Word of Wisdom, then Lilia presented a plan for the family to "eat apples, not candybars; buckle our seatbelts; and brush our teeth" complete with drawings of the assignments (what do you mean you haven't read those verses in the Doctrine and Covenants?). For the fitness test, the girls had to do as many sit-ups as they could, 10 push-ups, 10 kicks with both legs, 10 karate punches, and stretch to touch their toes.

While Lissy was doing her sit-ups and I was holding her feet for support, I instructed her to breathe through the sit-ups. When it was my turn, Lissy held my feet, and upon seeing me struggle, she returned the advice, "breathe through the sit-ups, Mom." That had us cracking up.

Having a family really does bring a lot of joy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My love for Rev Run

Reverend Run--or Rev Run--was on the Glenn Beck Show on CNN the other night. I hate MTV, but I love Rev Run. If you don't know who Rev Run is, here is my brief description. Rev Run, AKA Joseph Simmons, is from 80s-rap-group fame, Run D.M.C. He has since become an ordained minister and has a reality TV show based around his family and life in New Jersey. During the five seasons it's been on MTV, Rev Run's family has been on numerous vacations, had a newborn child die, and adopted a baby girl. At the end of each episode, he texts a sermon from his bathtub doling out advice to live a good life, always ending with the phrase, "God is love. Peace out."
I was embarrased for Glenn Beck. It was almost as though he'd never watched a single episode when he was talking with Rev. The Rev was about to give one of his text-message sermons, when Glenn Beck shut him down, and instead, asked Run's wife Justine to answer the question. Justine is a pretty amazing wife as well, don't get me wrong. She's good-humored and sweet. She and Rev make a really good parenting team, one of the best I've seen on modern "reality" TV shows. Gene Simmons so-called parenthood, or even Ozzy Osbourne don't hold a candle to Rev Run's family.
Beck also talked with the family about paying tithing, prayer, and adoption. One thing the Rev and his wife said that really rang true for me was that they try to raise their family like a business, he and Justine being the CEO and president.
My parents ran their family like a business. My mom held at least two family meetings per day. We had one meeting in the morning for family scripture study and prayer. Then another meeting happened after everyone came home from school. It usually involved everyone saying what their plans were for that day and a reminder of activities coming up that week. In one or both meetings, Mom or Dad would remind us that the "budget was tight" and ask us to try not to ask for too many things.
We looked forward to family outings or vacations. We also looked forward to trips to the thriving mecca of Orem/Provo, our family's favorite destination, to visit with cousins and grandparents, and perhaps catch a BYU home game.
Kulani and I also have a rule about raising kids. Our number 1 rule is to support one another in front of the kids. If Kulani metes out a punishment I think is a little hard, I stand by him. Later, I might mention something to him, but not in front of the kids. Kulani does the same for me. Often he has told the girls, "Don't you treat your mother that way." And I say to them, "Don't look at me for sympathy, I'm on your dad's side." It's usually me who is the harsher one, however. Kulani knows when to intervene tactfully, such as, "Let's go read a book, girls."
I love family dynamics. I wish I would've went to school to study it: a certified family dynamatician.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ironman Championships: Go B.J.!

For those who don't know, my brother B.J. qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. The race starts this Saturday at 7 a.m. Hawaii time. To qualify, he finished first in his age group at the Lake Placid Ironman in July. He thinks he's going to do even better at the World Championships. It's pretty fun to watch the results over the Web. You can watch his progress at His bib number is 1525. It should take him around 9 hours to finish.

Go, B.J.!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pine Hollow Biker Gang

There's a new biker gang in town ... and you'd better be scared.

Be on the look out for the following shady characters:

Lissy the Toad

Ride: Dora the Explorer Hog

Riding Style: Slow, timid

Hang Ups: Whining about how cold she is and how hard it is to turn the pedals over.

Tiger Lili

Ride: Disney Princesses Purple Fixie

Riding Style: Slow and steady wins the race

Hang Ups: Timid but getting braver. Thinks learning to ride a bike includes having training wheels.

Choco Beard

Ride: A plastic bike that's still too big for her to reach the pedals.

Riding Style: Flintstone

Hang Ups: Likes to escape the house to run over to the neighbors' houses to borrow other gangers' bikes.

If you happen to see these ladies, slow down and call their mom.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My Dad, My Butler

My family didn't have a video camera growing up; they still don't have one. However, we do have one video of my family around 1991. I was in the high school video class, so I had access to the school's video camera. I brought it home to capture some silly Christenson moments before my oldest sister Amy left on her mission to Sweden. The part I love about the tape is that it captured my dad as I best remember him: helping out.

"I'm doing a load of laundry. Who needs their coat washed?" That's the only thing my dad said on the whole hour-long tape, and it's endearing to me like you would not believe.
This weekend, Grandma and Grandpa Christenson stayed with us so Gma C could take care of Gma Mac. While Grandma C left for Orem, Grandpa stayed back to help me with my chores. He cleaned my kitchen floor on his hands and knees, taking special care to scrape up paint stains I hadn't bothered to clean up for over a year. He vacuumed the floors. He did the dishes. He was helpful beyond words.

All of my sisters and even my sisters-in-law can vouch for my dad's desire to help ease the burdens of being a mother. Either that or he can't stand seeing our messy houses.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Four Things

Like Magnus said to Max Fisher in Rushmore, "I always wanted to be in one of your ... plays." Though we mock it to scorn, deep down, we always wanted to be tagged in a blog post.


4 Movies I would watch more than once of the Superhero genre:

1. New Batmans
2. That's about all we've got.

4 Movies without Superheros I would watch more than once:

1. The Godfather I and II
2. Goodfellas
3. Rushmore (Cindy)
4. Unforgiven (Kulani)

4 TV Shows that I would watch more than once:

1. The Office
2. Monk
3. Psyche
4. 30 Rock

Places we've been together:

1. Macinac Island, Michigan
2. Providence, Rhode Island
3. Kona, Hawaii
4. Tillamook Cheese Factory

4 Place we'd like to visit

1. Paris, France
2. Scotland
3. Japan to visit the Magaleis
4. New York City on a food tour

4 people who email regularly

1. Randy (Cindy)
2. Jon (Kulani)
3. Family
4. Various sundry-like people

4 things I am looking forward to in the coming year

1. Paying down the Fisher national debt
2. Ironman Arizona
3. Half-Ironman Oceanside, and hopefully a trip to D-land
4. Camping and hiking together as a family

4 People who are more than welcome to ignore this tag:

1. Lynnette
2. Angela
3. Allison
4. Mary (rest, you'll be having a baby soon)

Grandma Mac and her inside voice

Grandma McEuen, bless her heart, is hard of hearing and senile. Not the best of combinations. Recently, Grandma fell and broke her pelvis. This has required that she go to a rehabilitation center. We've visited her often these past couple of days, because the rehabilitation center isn't as bright and cheery as her assisted living center.

Because Grandma is hard of hearing, she doesn't really know how to whisper, and she usually kind-of shouts whatever is on her mind. Today while visiting her, a rather rotund woman came walking by her room. Grandma said to me in her new "inside" voice, "That woman is fat." The woman made eye contact with me the same time as Grandma made eye contact with me. I just kind of shrugged my shoulders not wanting to look at either of them. My mom came down to stay a couple of nights with Grandma, and she said the night orderly was also rather large. Every time he came in to check on Grandma, Grandma would say in her not-so-much-of-a-whisper voice, "Here comes Tommy Two-Ton."

Amy will have to tell you about the time her children were sealed to them in the temple and the comment Grandma made. It was pretty embarrassing.

Pictures of our bike travels in the UC on Saturday

After having the most excellent bike ride of recent memory, Kulani and I were on a quest to make Saturday the best day ever. We nearly succeeded. Here is my picture documentary.

Kulani nearing Bridal Veil Falls:

Wait for me, Speedy!

The leaves are starting to change:

The old Utah saying rings true: If you ever have to go to a store and buy zucchini in late summer/early fall, you need to get to know your neighbors better. Here's a "Share the Bounty" stand in Lindon on 400 East.

Our quest for the perfect day ended early, as Kulani's mom is suffering stroke-like symptoms and is needing round-the-clock care. She and Kulani's dad drove up to Provo to seek some better care than they can offer in small-town Southern Utah. For now they are crashing with the ever kind Kuhia and Susan. I like this picture because it shows Spence, her dog, waiting faithfully outside her room. The dog was beside himself with concern. He would not leave her bedside.