Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oregon

Pete and I have this ongoing argument happening. He loves his home state. Like in an unhealthy way. For years he maintained that everyone from Oregon was like the coolest person ever because Oregon is the greatest state ever. Then one day I blurted out, "You know, I'm not sure I agree with that. I mean I love you and I love your sisters, but a lot of the people from Oregon that I've met are sort of weird." Oh you should have seen his face. I haven't seen that look since I blurted out that I hate camping. And then I saw it when when I told him that I actually hate the movie Braveheart. Oh, and I saw the look when I told him that I once bowled a 16. Or the time when I admitted that I didn't actually have a starring role in the Music Man, it was just a 4 word solo. And then I saw that look that one time when he discovered that I knew every word to every Blue's Traveler song. Okay, I guess I've seen that look more than a couple of times. It is this horrified look that says, "Who did I marry? Really. Who? Anyway, he was hurt, to the core. Not because what I had said was a terrible insult to his beloved state, but because part of him knew that I was right. He pushed back for a little while, but when Portlandia started airing, he knew he had lost the argument.
  Portlandia is awesome by the way, and Pete won't admit that he likes it, but he does. And as long as the state of Oregon exists, the writers of Portlandia will have plenty to write about. Here's a clip that pretty much sums up the show, and you know what? It sort of sums me up as well. It will give you a painful glimpse into my soul. I seem like a nice person, but I'm black inside.





  And then one day, Pete found this. It was just too good for him to keep to himself. This. Is Oregon for ya.

And I wanted to share it with you. A little Thanksgiving present. It really will keep on giving.




Sunday, November 24, 2013

Zeke and Trader Joes

 Well I've done it everyone. I wasn't sure if it could be done but I did it. And that is sort of the story of my life, you know, doing the impossible. After months of searching and testing, I found something at Trader Joes that totally sucks.


I love Salmon and I love jerky, so this should be good right? Well it's not. It smells like a bully stick. Which brings me to my next point, how do I know what a bully stick smells like?  Yep, I've joined that special group of people who walk around carrying bags of poo and they don't even think it's weird. In fact, they feel like they are benefiting society. We got a dog. It's more for the kids than anything, to teach them some responsibility. I don't even like him that much.

**had to take the video down**

You know, it's funny, deciding to get a dog is a lot like deciding to get a kid. I mean, have a baby. At first, you think they are sort of gross and you don't know why anyone would do that to themselves. Then you start to notice cute things and see the benefits. I knew I was in trouble when I caught myself laughing at a you tube video of dogs who had their beds stolen by cats. And when I heard myself telling Pete about the video when he came home and asked about my day, I knew for sure that I was a goner. So we packed up the kids, drove to Amish Country and got ourselves a pup. And by the way, if you have never bought anything from the Amish, you are missing out. My kids saw a little girl milking cows( and then doing something which I can only guess was straining the milk or skimming the cream or something) and they exclaimed, well it was more like laughed, "Hey mom, look how hard she's working." Like the amish girl was being punked. And I would make a joke about how ironic it is that the Amish don't believe in tweezers but they have no problem with credit card swipers but hey, I am a devout Mormon who loves Coke Zero and looks for any chance to add Grand Marnier into dessert but these lips have never tasted coffee, so who am I to judge?

p.s. I think vine is the greatest. I wish more of my friends were on it (hint hint.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

One More Song

Thanks for liking my songs. I wanted to try out a new spotify trick that I learned and try to post my current favorite song. 





  Also, remind me to blog about how Zombees made me realize that I actually like Boy Scouts and Hate celebrities.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Spinning

  Last month I stopped teaching a spinning class that I had been teaching every Monday for almost 10 years. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was a little emotional to give up the class. Embarrassed because I knew that I was much more attached to the class members then they were to me. The participants have cycled through over the years as people moved or their schedules changed, there were two maybe three people who had been coming to my class for the entire span of time, but mostly the faces changed. I think it was what the class represented for me that was meaningful. Looking back, I realized that I taught through two of Peter's job changes, three miscarriages, two moves, and two pregnancies. I took a four week break three times, once for a trip to Utah, and twice to have my babies. Other than that I was pretty much consistently there. Some days, I dreaded going, other days, my class was the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning. The idea that there were 40 busy people who had carved time out of their day to work out with me is pretty cool. 
  I thought you might like to hear some of the comments that I received over the years from well meaning members:

"Here's some gum. Do you always sweat this much?"

"If you play one more Justin Timberlake song, I'll have you fired."

"You might want to think about wearing a little make-up when you teach, you know, people have to look at you for an entire hour."

"Hey what do you think of the Book of Mormon Musical?" (I was asked this about 50 times)

"The first time I saw you I thought to myself, this girl does NOT look like an athlete." 

"Who do you think you are, you think you're better than everyone else?"

  Pretty encouraging right? You might wonder why I kept coming back to teach (see previous post about my unexplainably high self-esteem.) 

 On the last day that I taught, I made a playlist of my all time favorite songs that I had used for spin classes over the years. Some of them are over a decade old and they still get my heart rate up, others didn't turn out to be the timeless classics that I thought they'd be but I still love them (see first entry.) I have gone through so much music over the years that people often ask me for work out music suggestions so I thought I'd share some of my all time favorites. 


Don't Lie (The Black Eyed Peas)
Gives You Hell (The All American Rejects)
Jessie's Girl (Rick Springfield)
Queen Of Apology (The Sounds)
Somebody Told Me (The Killers)
Gold Digger (Kanye West)
Freedom! (George Michael)
Cry Me A River (Justin Timberlake)
Ain't No Rest For The Wicked (Cage the Elephant)
Numb/Encore (Jay-Z. Linkin Park)
Can't Hold Us (Mackelmore)
Under Pressure (David Bowie, Queen)
Glycerine (Bush)
So What (Pink)
Powerless (Nelly Furtado Desi Remix version)
Once In A Lifetime (The Talking Heads)
It's Time (Imagine Dragons)
Run This Town (Jay-Z Posthumus Zone)

  I generally like all kinds of music. Someone once asked Jack White what kind of music he liked to listen to and he said, "I like to listen to good music." He then went on to explain that if a song is sincerely musically good, people like it. And I think that is a really true statement. I don't care if you hate country, or rap, or metal. There are some songs within their genres that are just undeniably well written. I have tried to play just about everything over the years. There are some songs that I love but other people hate and that's okay. But when I play a great song, I can tell it's great because everyone loves it. You'd be shocked at how many people over 50 request Numb by Jay-Z. Or how many college kids ask who sang George Michael's Freedom. I'm not claiming to be an authority on music, but choosing songs has been a skill that I've worked on over the years and it has added a really cool dimension to my life.

   I have since moved to a different club so I'm still teaching, but I'll really miss my friends in Fairfax.


*Still working on my Media Diet. I can't decide if the Zombie Survival Guide was a colossal waste of time, or the most useful education I have ever received. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Girl's Camp: The week I realized that I am mentally unbalanced.

 Warning: This is going to be a long post about me going to Girls Camp. Which is boring.But don't worry, I'll mostly be talking about my self. Which is awesome.

 Last month, I was tricked into volunteering to spend a week cooking meals for our church's girls camp. Camping. Three meals. 180 people. Volunteer, no compensation. That's right. Tricked. I spent lots of time complaining during the weeks leading up to it. I have become a master at getting all the credit for doing something good with the maximum amount of complaining. Here's the secret. You complain just enough so that everyone knows exactly how much work you are doing, but not so much that it starts to bug people. Although looking back, for camp, I may have gone overboard on the complaining side. 

  When I was growing up, I always thought I would be great at working with the youth. I thought I'd be the hip young cool leader that all the girls wanted to emulate. It was 7 years ago when I was first asked to volunteer with the youth,working with girls ages 12-18. Shockingly, I was not great at it. I wasn't even good. I tried to be funny, I tried to buddy up, I tried to gently tease. And it pretty much looked like this;



 The only joy I found was the weekly opportunity to feed lots to sugar to the girls with legitimate ADHD who's parents had sanctimoniously made it very clear that they had cured any attention or behavior problems by adhering to a strict diet. Not on my watch lae-dez.

  Needless to say, I was released from that calling and haven't been asked to help with the youth since. Until last month, when they were scraping the bottom the barrel.

 So I went. And after a few weeks of planning, complaining, pre-cooking, preparing, and more complaining. Camp had arrived. Did I mention that I have hated camping since I saw the Blair Witch Project? That is not a joke, it is probably the most true sentence I have ever typed. So I had made up my mind that I was going to have a crappy crappy time. Now here is the part when I talk about why I think I have a chemical imbalance, or a hormonal one. These were the bad parts of camp:

Bugs
Tents
Humidity
Camping
Camping on the East Coast
Being publicly shamed for wearing immodest clothing (I'm talking about me being shamed, I didn't get the memo about no workout clothes)
Sneaking out for a bike ride and almost dying (that will have to be another post)
15 hours a day on my feet.
It rained for 20 hours and all my stuff got wet.
No Sleep
I'm a feminist (so I HATE that we have to camp while our male counterparts go scuba diving in the Florida Keys)

I decided weeks before camp that I was going to have a terrible time. And usually when I make up my mind about something, It happens. But something happened to me in Boyce VA. Someone snuck inside my motherboard, and flipped the switch from weird Andy Kaufman elitist, to normal happy Mormon. And I had-- wait for it-- the best time. It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I had plenty of energy. I worked hard, and liked it. I made new friends. I LOVED being around the girls. I was happy and cheerful and friendly. It was amazing.

  But, my youth relations skills were rusty and I was over eager and it showed. Consequently I ended up behaving like Bill Murray.



And I know that Bill Murray is weird, but I've come a long way. And I'd say that I'm about halfway to the goal of being JUST like Regina's mom. My idol.




I can't wait until next year.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dear Peter . . .

Sunday, June 23, 2013

West Coast

I have a couple of posts in draft stage. And they are serious and important posts. One about the speed of time, and another about Shea going to a birthday party in the ghetto of Reston. More on those later, first I just have to put up a couple of videos. I am not going to Utah this summer for the first time in many summers. And every time I feel sad about that, I'll just watch these and say to myself, "See what's so great about the West Coast?" Those West Coasters put a "the" in front of all their freeways. Like their freeways are so important. And they don't even make the distinction between a condo, townhouse, or single family home. They just say house. What's up with that? Oh, and they don't take things seriously like we do on the East coast. Like these people:



This couple was SERIOUS about being supportive parents at the 6th grade graduation. Look closely and you can see the "proud parents of a grad" buttons that lit up and everything.


Fully committed to the hipster trend. Not just going halfway with ONLY a pair of big glasses, oh no. 



And these parents were serious. Fully geared up for a day of walking around Hershey park. There is no way they were going to get blisters. No way.


So I'm going to try and not picture my friends and family having a great time without me. You people with your 40 hour work week, who can go waterskiing anytime and have an unlimited number of babysitters. No, you guys aren't so great, you're just a bunch of weirdos who love rollerskating and transmissions. See below for proof.

 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Whatever Slurpees Are Awesome

15 years ago, I used to pile like 7 of my favorite people into a tiny Toyota, drive to 7-11, buy a bunch of junk, and eat and loiter. All the while thinking that this was just about as good as life could get.* 

Today, I realized that my teenage self was actually right about some things. 

As I blissfully took a bite of a buffalo chicken taquito that had been warming for at least 8 hours, I looked around and took in the awesomeness of the situation, Pete muttered, "I think this is the nadir of our parenting experience." I dunno Pete, things look pretty good from here. I think we're gonna be okay.

*For real, we ALL crammed into Pete's little Toyota, drove to "sev" and dined on taquitos and ice cream sandwiches. You know that you might want to re-think your life choices when the convenience store clerk looks down his nose at you. 


p.s. Still recording my media diet, and you'll see that I'm being completely honest about it because I recorded watching The Bachelor Bloopers as well as Safe Haven. Safe Haven was really really terrible, but I just can't quit you Juliane Hough.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weenie Boats



Mom: Remember how you kids used to love weenie boats? Do you ever make them when Peter is out of town?

Me: Yeah sometimes.

Pete: Hey, what are you guys talking about over there, what are weenie boats? 

Me: Well, you take a hot dog, slice it open, put mustard and cheese on it and then mashed potatoes on the top. 

Peter:  WHAT THE? WHY WOULD YOU MAKE THAT WHEN I AM OUT OF TOWN? IT IS EVERYTHING THAT I LOVE!

  Piping the instant potatoes through the star tip was a little touch that I added myself. Just to make it a little more fancy, ya know? The kids love it, the husbands love it. And you'll find the recipe in just about every ward/congregation cookbook only it isn't called a Weenie Boat in the book, it is called a Stuffed Weener--which seems much less appetizing to me. Not quite sure why. #that'swhatshesaid



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mouthy

I never realized how much a mom thinks about her kids' friends. Before I got myself into this parenting mess, I knew that I was going to have to oversee feeding, love, hygiene, self-image, education, religion and general well roundedness. But I didn't really think that being aware of friend choices were that big a deal. I'm not sure why that didn't show up on my radar. After all, my friends are the most important thing in the world to me. Right after family and flour/butter/sugar/chocolate.

  Anyway, I've been reminded of things that I knew about friends 15 years ago but have since forgotten. I know that it is impossible to pick your kids' friends. And extreme caution is necessary when you decide to use the words: "You may not be friends with this person anymore." You have one shot, maybe two at using this phrase on your kids and having it carry any weight. Any more than that, and it becomes a dare, not a command. So I've narrowed down 3 traits that I will forbid to be defining characteristics in my kids' friends.

1. Liars

2. Vandals*

3. Kids that are preoccupied with sex

  And that's it. Every other vice is fair game. (I know that vandalism might seem weird, but if a kid thinks it is hilarious to throw rocks through a window, they are hiding a host of other problems that you really want your kid to stay away from. ) I understand how influential friends are so I don't want to take any chances with liars, vandals, or sex weirdos. But it is my responsibility to vaccinate my kids against any other bad behavior through good parenting.

  Okay, now I realize that there are plenty of bad kids out there who don't have any problems with the three vices I've selected. And different parents will come up with different lists of things that they want to avoid. But I would like to give one piece of advice when you are making your list of damning traits.

Don't cast out the foul mouthed kid.

  Yes, there is a chance that the kids with a bad mouth is just an idiot who replaces normal words with bad words, but that kid is harmless. Dum dums are harmless, unless your kid is dumb too, and then you have a problem. But it has been my experience that there is a better chance that the swearing kid is passionate and loyal. They also probably have some impulse control issues, but I think we can all admit, that it's fun to have a wild card at the party.

  I'd like to site Shea's friend Sam as an example. Sam has taught Shea half the swear words she knows. (Her dad taught her the other half but one seems to remember that fact. They only remember the time I screamed DAMN CHICKEN NUGGET at my kids in 105 degree weather after a 7 hour car ride.) Shea has complained about Sam's foul mouth. I feel like I have done my job by teaching Shea to ask Sam not to use those words around her, but that is as much as I have interfered. Then yesterday, Shea had her heart broken. Her little boyfriend Max, the cutest boy in the 5th grade, the one who gave her a heart necklace for Christmas and held her hand at the ice rink, broke up with her. Of course not face to face. No way. Obviously he told one of his friends to tell one of her friends that they were breaking up. Shea didn't take the news well. She was too upset to eat her lunch, and she spent recess crying. Thank goodness for Sam. She wasted no time, she marched up to Max, got in his face, and with her New York Jewish accent, called him a "sack of sh$%." She told him that he was a 'f*c%$#g moron' and a bunch of other stuff. I wasn't there, but I'm sure it was comforting, consoling, amazing.

  It reminded me of my own friend Betsy. She used terrible language, but she provided me with hours of entertainment and is as loyal as they come. I remember one time she used the eff word in the same sentence as the words 'football field,' and it triggered a super sized desk throwing tantrum for 3 football players in our English class. Legendary. Another time, in seminary, she turned to me and in an audible voice, muttered, "This guy is such a damn liar," about the teacher. My reaction 'drove the spirit away' and my parents got a phone call. And I would say that no one should ever accuse a CES teacher of making stuff up but . . . . . . . And once, I was stranded in Provo, and Betsy drove two hours to come get me. She burst through the door of my apartment with a string of expletives regarding all BYU students. She deeply offended my roommates. But I loved that cursing Kappa with all my heart. I also knew that it would be in my best interest to stay on Betsy's good side. A lesson her poor ex-husband had to learn the hard way. Because when the cheater came clean; within hours of confession; his boss had been called, his bank account emptied, his car sold and he was doubled over on the ground from a sever blow to the groin.



*a girl pooping on the East High football field is not vandalism, it's just plain funny.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Couple of Thoughts on my day at Hershey Park

Over the weekend, I chaperoned a chorus trip to Hershey Park in PA. The trip was for 5th and 6th graders and since I have one of each I figured I would go. I went last year and chaperoned Eliza and her friends. It was fun except for that two of the girls spoke English as their second language and they kept on saying tweeezlers. Come on ladies, you're in Merica now, git it right. Well I thought this year would be twice as fun because I had twice as many kids going on the trip. XXX. Oh boy I would have given anything to have my biggest problem be the mispronunciation of a candy. 
  The trip started out with me stopping to chat with one of the parents about some 5th grade drama. Our two little girls are not getting along in school. In fact, they are arch enemies. Nevertheless,  this girl begged and pleaded to be in Shea's group. When I told this mother that I was surprised at this, and that I wanted the girls to get along, she responded with, "I know Shea, I have her number, I have her totally figured out. You know why? Because I used to be Shea, and I'll tell you what, Karma is a bitch because it sure has come back to get me." And then I had to spend the rest of the day chaperoning this woman's daughter? Yep. Good thing I'm such a kind person and can easily get past these types of comments. 
   Our group of 4 girls teamed up with another group of 4 girls plus chaperone. But after about an hour, my co-chaperone and her daughter ditched us because we weren't riding enough roller coasters and they wanted their $58 worth. So I was left with 7 girls. Two of which were naughty. As an aside, I have been reading The Help, so every time I would see a child misbehave, I would have this inner dialogue in a Southern accent about how that chalt dint git nuff love from huh mama. But I can only amuse myself with my inner southerner for so long. And a day at an amusement park with mean girls goes by slower than downloading Bohemian Rhapsody with a dial-up connection. 
  Shea is a flirt. Not the cute coy kind. The kind boys are afraid of. The kind who will make loud jokes and try to humiliate her target. Don't worry though, Shea learned that's not the way to get a man. On her third attempt at this type of flirting, one of the boys gave her a little pamphlet and told her that if she died tomorrow, she would go to hell. Shea looked at the tract that said, "Jesus Saves," saw a picture of Satan with flames in the background. 

And I didn't even eat one piece of chocolate. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Couple of Thoughts on Being Special

If you haven't seen this Dove ad, you should watch it, because if you don't, nothing else I say will make sense.


  I hope, really hope that they never ask me to do this. You know why? It's because I think much much too highly of myself. When I look in the mirror I think, "Wow, I am really really something special, go get 'em gorgeous." I'm not kidding, I totally think that. But I'm always sort of surprised that I don't really turn heads when I walk down the street. I rationalize that they either don't see me, or are so shocked by my beauty that they have to look away. And when I see myself in pictures, I think, "huh, that's weird, that looks nothing like me." A few years ago, when someone told me that I was average looking, I was totally floored. Not because-who would say that?- But because, I never believed myself to be average.
  If someone held up two sketches of me side by side; the one on the left, the one that I narrated would be a stunning beauty. A willowy brunette with mysterious big eyes and a perfect complexion. The sketch on the right, the one that was described by someone else who had just met me, would be very different. "Frumpy hair, vacant stare, scarred lips, looks exhausted, and totally forgettable. Oh, and she wasn't nice. Kind of an elitist. And weird, like if Andy Kaufman was an average looking woman with self-imagined beauty." Nailed it! That's me!
  Which leads me to my next point. Where did I get this false sense of self-esteem? Not from my childhood, I don't remember my parents ever really building me up. I always thought they were tryna bring me down. Now I  realize that they were just trying to give me a healthy dose of reality. Oh sage mother and father, I should have listened. Instead, I've floated through life thinking I could get by on my looks, which, shockingly, haven't gotten me anywhere.
  I am going to try to protect my kids from this false sense of superiority. I have an idea. You know those plates that say, "You are special?"
  I swear every family has one and they usually save it for a child's birthday. Well I think instead of one 'you are special' plate, I think I'll buy a bunch of plates that say, "You Are Average!" And then when it's your birthday, you get a blank plate with nothing on it, just cake. That way, you can think whatever you want about yourself cause hey, it's your birthday!


p.s. I'm still tracking my 2013 media diet here. Anyone else doing the same?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quick Update on Spring Break

We didn't go anywhere for our spring break. And we didn't have a staycation either. Is it me or would that be way more work than a vacation? It was just a normal week, but with no school. Here's a quick breakdown. Of the lows. No one really wants to hear about how great someones break was so this should be extra entertaining.
 
  Least Worst Thing: You should get a pretty good sense of my week when I tell you that the highlight of my spring break was the day that I got an MRI. No kids, lay down and don't move for 30 minutes? Yes please! It was all down hill from there.

  Next to Least Worst Thing: Was the day that I brought home super hero underpants for Ezra. Behold, the only picture I took during spring break.


Ezra could not be convinced that the Green Lantern was a super hero. Because that's a terrible name. So he put the greens on his head and ran around trying to wrestle everyone. It was this same day that he told me about a nightmare titled: The Trees Are Trying To Get Me. I comforted him by saying, "You know, bad dreams aren't real." To which he replied, "I know, only science is real." Then, he karate chopped me and ran away. Nachoooooo.
  
 Third to Least Worst Thing: This year Pete and I made a concerted effort to make Easter meaningful for the children. We observed Lent. Read the Bible. Attended extra religious services. We could feel that we were really getting through to the kids. Then on Maundy Thursday, after a wonderful Passover meal, we sat down to watch The Lamb of God. Ezra, was so disappointed that it wasn't the Power Rangers, he stood on the upstairs landing yelling, "I hate Jesus." So I guess you could say that all our hard work paid off. 

Next to Worst Thing: This is bad. Much worse than a three year old taking the Lord's name in vain. I met a friend for lunch at an Indian all-you-can-eat buffet. It was amazing, but like an idiot, I loaded up my plate with too much salad and rice on the first trip. Then when I tried to go back a second time, my friend shamed me out of going back. Indian buffet fail, what can be worse? I feel like I have disappointed myself, my family, and most of all, starving Indians who would have given anything to trade places with me. 

Worst Thing: You guessed it. The indoor water park. Midweek, I was feeling guilty for not planning anything, so I decided to take my kids to Massanutten. First of all, don't ever go there it is a rip off. Second, have you ever been to an indoor water park? Everyone who can answer yes, just nodded silently, and then continued whipping themselves, because they are masochists.  

  Don't you love how most mommy blogs make you feel worse about yourself but this one makes you feel better? I just don't know why jensenauthenticity isn't wildly popular. (I think I'll turn this last paragraph into a condescending Wonka meme.)



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Side Effects


  I learned two new things today. Two! First, I am a bit of a completist. Once something peaks my interest, I want to know all about it, I want to collect an example of every item in a particular field. Okay, I am fully aware of how lame the above sentence sounded. Ooooh, I just have such a thirst for knowledge! I just want to know everything about everything!  No no, it's not like that.  I freely admit that I think I'm smarter than I actually am, but I'm not saying that I'm a completist in an 'I'm a genuis' sort of way. I mean it in more of a Rain Man sort of way. Of course I don't have my underwear. I'm definitely not wearing my underwear. I get my underwear at K-mart in Cincinnati. My completist tendencies are only sparked when I am interested in something  that will make me less interesting, and that has a possibility of being a huge time suck. And usually it is food. I spent a good part of 2012 trying to be a D.C. area hamburger completist. My top five findings. 

1. Bobby's Burger Palace
2. Shake Shack
3. The Burger Joint
4. Five Guys 
5. Ray's Hell-burger

2013 is D.C. Pizza, who's with me?

  I am also working on becoming a Danny Meyer completist. That's sort of hard to do when you don't live in New York but I'm determined, and with the love and support of my family and friends, I can succeed. I am dabbling in Momofuku completism, but so far that has made me gain 4 pounds and spend 25 dollars on plugra butter in one month, so I'm wondering if I should re-think that. 

   Peter is definitely a completist but only in the areas of politics, Mormon church history and cycling. That was an outright humblebrag, and I won't try to hide it. He is the coolest nerd you'll ever meet. 

  Anyway, I started thinking about the whole completist term this morning when I was listening to a podcast movie review of Side Effects done by a Steven Soderbergh completist. I think the guy is just alright, I guess, Soderbergh I mean. But what is really cool is that they released/leaked (same thing) his Media Diet for last year. It is pretty amazing. I love the idea of recording your entire intake of media. I think it would be cool to see just what your brain has ingested and it would encourage you to make worth while choices. I also think it validates movies and TV as actual communicatory mediums. So for 2013, I am going to do the same. Record my entire media diet. I won't record a show, movie or book unless I have seen the entire thing, in which case I'll record it on the day I finish. 

  Endnote, Side Effects was good. And it made me wonder all the way home, "Could I pull off a messy hipster frizz hairstyle?" The best part of the night was when my friends and I were trying to decide between Side Effects and Zero Dark Thirty. I told the ticket seller boy that I had heard that ZDT had a surprise ending. He gave me a confused look and tried to explain that there was no surprise ending, we all know how it ends, but I just kept interrupting him with, "Don't! Don't spoil it for me! I don't know how it ends! D! D! DDD!  
  It was pretty great. 

I'm recording my 2013 Media Diet Here. I think it'd be cool if anyone wants to record theirs too so that we could compete compare. Also, I'd love any suggestions. I am totally open to seeing or reading anything. Except for Braveheart. You know how I feel about Braveheart. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Looper

 Yesterday, the future me just went back in time 25 years and showed me this movie. After the movie, I went to a diner with myself and we had a conversation. It was more of an argument I guess. I kept telling my older self that I was boring and uptight. And my future self kept telling me to shut up and quit being such a smart alec. The banter between me and myself was pretty clever, but I don't really have time to go into that because I want to blog about the film Looper.  It's been a month since I saw the movie, and I'm still thinking about it.

  I'd like to pose two questions. First, if you could go back in time and kill Hitler before he had the chance to orchestrate the Holocaust, would you do it? Could you do it? Probably, right? What about if you had to do it when he was a baby? Could you kill baby Hitler? I really don't know if I could. Even knowing all the things I know about Hitler, I don't know if I could do it. I keep thinking about it and I decided that at the end of the day, I could do it, but it would be tough to kill a baby. Especially if it were a baby with that hilarious mustache. I mean, come on.

 Second question, if I could talk to my younger self, what would I say? If, like in the movie, my 50 year old self  went back in time to talk to my 30 year old self, I don't know what sage words of wisdom I will want to impart. But if my 33 year old self could go back in time and talk to my, lets say, 20 year old self, I have a pretty good idea of what I would say. I've thought it should be something like; spend more time loving your children, or give people the benefit of the doubt. But then I though about Looper. The real heart break of the film, is that we are rooting for young Joe, to immediately learn the lessons that it took old Joe 25 years to learn. But it's impossible. There is no way that I can make my 23 year old self (who is sleep deprived and clinically depressed) understand the importance of doing a puzzle with my kids. Heck, I can't make my 33 year old self (who is well adjusted and happy) understand the importance of doing a stupid puzzle with my kids. So I would not give any big picture, live in the moment advice, instead I would be very specific.

1. After birthing every baby, buy yourself an entire box of chocolates, or an entire cheesecake, and eat it all without feeling sharing or feeling guilty.

2. Here is a list with three names on it. When you have the opportunity, let 'em have it. Tear their heads off, rip them a new one. They deserve it. You won't regret it and you won't feel guilty.

3. Don't read Twilight 10 times, 9 is enough. 9 is enough.

4. When you and Peter are talking marriage, and he asks, "What kind of a ring do you want?" Immediately say, "One with as big of a diamond as you can afford." But you have to say it right away, if you let more than 3 seconds pass, he'll jump in with, "You don't want one of those rings with a giant diamond do you? Those are so gaudy." And you will have only known him for 5 months so you won't have the guts to disagree.

5. Leave Andrea Roche alone.

6. Shrimp Pizza is always a mistake.


Oh, one more thing, I'm not sure why, but Looper evoked in me the same thoughts and questions I had when I saw the Japanese film After Life. It is a must see. The premise of the film is the idea that after you die, you choose only one memory of your life on earth to keep for eternity. It's a pretty cool show.



   Finally, does anyone else think that young Joe looks like my high school friend James Pearce? James doesn't look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he doesn't look like Bruce Willis. But give Joseph Gordon-Levitt some Bruce Willis prosthetics, and you have James. It's uncanny!

 




Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Thumb

   I've been meaning to see a doctor about my left hand for years. With all my kids in school, I finally made an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon. After sitting in the patient room, waiting in the room for the doctors to value my time, the PA came in to ask me a couple of questions, "What's the problem today?"

  "Well, I've never had full use of my left hand."
  "And how long has this been going on?"
  "Um, my whole life."

  The PA looked up from his papers to make sure he had heard correctly. I tried to think about how to explain that I knew it wasn't normal for someone to not see a doctor for something major like this until they were an adult, but instead I just started giggling. And the more the PA acted like it was totally normal, the harder I laughed. When he examined my two hands compared to each other and remarked that I was missing at least two major muscles in my palm, I totally fell apart. I know it isn't that funny. Really, I do, but I've said it before I'm a delicate flower of emotions. Finally, he asked why I was deciding to come in now after all this time. I stopped laughing and gave a very serious answer. "Well, I've been lifting weights pretty seriously for a couple of years now," (this is true, but I said it in a meat head voice so it would be funny and not weird) "And my right arm is starting to get seriously ripped,  but I can only do like 3 pull ups, I should be able to do 9 or 10." (this was a joke so I continued the meat head voice.) The PA didn't even crack a smile,  so I started giggling again. 
  
 After about 15 minutes of the PA taking x-rays, bringing in an actual doctor, and then finally a hand specialist, I received a diagnosis. "This is a minor case of what we call hypoplastic thumb, it is a birth defect that can be repaired with surgery. I don't actually do that surgery. You will have to go to a pediatric hand surgeon for that, because people usually have this problem taken care of when they are children." You would be proud to hear that I didn't laugh when she was talking, even when she emphasized the words 'when they are child-a-ren,' the way David Spade does when he is speaking to a mor-on.  Don't worry though, things got funny again, when the PA came back in. He gave me a piece of paper, one it was a list of people that could build me some kind of contraption that I could wear on my left hand, so that I could "go on to have a full and happy life," his words not mine. He even gave me the address of a special cross-fit gym that helped veterans who had lost limbs in the war and could definitely help a special case like mine. 

  Despite all the laughing, I left the doctor feeling crestfallen. I was hoping that they would give me some sort of solution to my problem, like some exercises I could do to strengthen my muscles, muscles that don't even exist. Stupid hypo-plastic thumb.

  Now here is the part where I give advice. When you receive a new and unfamiliar diagnosis from the doctor, don't run home and google it. It won't cheer you up at all. I know that seems like witch science, but you're gonna have to roll with me on this one. 







 Well, here is what a quick google of the words 'hypoplastic thumb' yielded. These are the least disturbing pics I could find. 
A moderate case, mine is mild. 

And the most famous case. A baby hand is a close relative of the hypoplastic thumb. 

  As I type this lengthy post, I realize that no one really cares about my thumb. I learned that lesson shortly after my doctor visit, I tried to tell a few people about my new diagnosis, but I bored everyone I told. Even my parents, I emailed them in Australia. My dad responded with, "I googled it, you got off easy. " And mom replied, "Treasure your individuality, miss bologna thumb!" Those are real responses. So if you see me, it would make me feel really special if you asked to see my deformed left hand and oooohed and ahhhed over it for a few seconds. Don't be grossed out, just amused, and ask a few questions, not too many, just a few, and then don't stare at it after. Ah, never mind, just ignore it. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Procrastinating

Just spent an hour yelling at Jonah for not doing this stupid Ancient China project. He's had 10 days to work on it and he hasn't done a thing. I basically did it for him. I can't be too mad at him though. I was supposed to run a bunch of errands and clean the house today, instead I spent hours learning that Cups song from Pitch Perfect (thanks for youtube tutorials) and then just went shopping. Does CPS ever intervene because of plain ol' bad sense or laziness? Maybe they should.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

George Dope


  Here's the thing guys. I just can't get worked up over Lance and Manti. I think lying is bad but sometimes you just gotta lie. Let me deal with Lance first, Peter has tried hard to turn me. But I still kinda like the guy. There are a lot of reasons to hate Lance. And there are flaws to every argument I have in favor of Lancey. But here's the way I see it. Doping was a problem in cycling before Lance came on the scene. And if Lance had never happened to the sport, it would be just like any other sport. Cycling would just be a sport that people cheat at sometimes, like baseball. Unfortunately for cycling, the biggest jerk on the planet happened to be a cyclist. He admitted that he was willing to do anything to win, and he credits the cancer for that trait. For the sake of my argument, let's say that that's true. If he would never have gotten cancer, I don't think cycling would be the mess it is today. Lance would have been known as the cocky American who was a good cyclist, and he cheated sometimes like everybody else. Instead, Lance's will to beat cancer, mastetized into a will to beat down everyone who tried to get in his way. The same thing could happen to anybody. Inside every one of us, is a sleeping monster, just waiting to be awakened by the wrong event. 

  Take me for example, (mostly because I'm tired of talking about somebody that's not me) I think that I have the potential to be a really scrappy cage fighter. This is not a joke. You know what event would awaken that monster in me? If I were to get mugged or attacked right after a really bad meeting at the school. Sometimes I go to school meetings and I find my self stuck in a room with a really bad teacher and a lazy bureaucrat, most teachers are good but there are bad ones, and it is the bad ones who speak to me the most condescendingly. When I ask an apparently ignorant question, they respond with, "Oooowww you are suuuch a good mom!" and then they don't even answer the question. They just try to make me sign my life away in a hurry so that they can be on the road by 3:30. I may not be smart, but I'm smart enough to know when someone is speaking down to me, and I didn't carve an hour out of my schedule to listen to you talk about how much paperwork you have and why are we on opposing teams anyway? It is after an  altercation like this that my monster could potentially be awakened. I leave fuming and I think to myself, "I dare some crazy person to just out of the bushes and assault me right now." I would go absolutely bizerk. They wouldn't know what hit 'em. It would be a scene from a Tarentino movie, and I'm not even a violent person. But I would go for blood and like it, and that's when the monster inside would wake up and whisper, "You are not supposed to be a stay at home mom of 5, leave them  and fulfill your true calling as a badass cage fighter." And that's what happened to Lance, he got hit by cancer in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it turned him from a sorta cheating jerk athlete, to a superhuman life destroying douche, who was a great cyclist. You can't blame him, or as I like to say, you can't fight the moonlight. 

  And Manti, poor Manti. I don't have much to say about him, he just made up some harmless stuff and got caught. I can totally empathize with that. I mean, come on, I went to 2 middle schools and 3 high schools. I'll be the first to admit that a fake girl/boyfriend will seriously up your stock.

     "I totally have so many hot boyfriends you have no idea you guys, too bad they are all at my old school and there is no way for you to verify that."

    Ahh those were the days. The funny thing is that I thought I was the only person to invent a fake boyfriend. But when I was a freshman at BYU, the dorms were lousy with George Glass. "Oh I totally have a boyfriend, he's just on a mission."



  But Mister, Te'o was a step ahead of me on the fake relationship thing. I had to learn the hard way that if you are going to make up a boyfriend, it has to be a made up person. You can't go around telling people that you are boyfriend and girlfriend with a person that actually exists, and never EVER with a person that people actually know. AND Don't try and fool yourself with the logic that this boy is so popular that your friends will be too chicken to go up and ask him if the two of you are secretly going out, because the friends you thought were spineless will find the courage. I'll spare you the details of how the story ends, but it does end. Very very badly. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ezra Bud


   This post is not about whether or not Ezra is a wild boy. It's not about whether he needs better parenting. I know that he is wild and that he needs better parenting. I know that  boundaries and using a little discipline and follow through principles at home would go a long way to change his behavior and make my life easier. But he's my 5th and I am exhausted. And however much you judge me by Ezra's naughtiness, I guarantee you that I've judged ten times harsher. I spent my early mothering era as the queen of judgement. I knew exactly what everyone was doing wrong and how to fix it. And it has taken years and years of crying, and trips to the hospital (ER trips as well as actually having to make an appointment and have a child admitted which is much worse than the ER) and, vomit, and  diagnoses, and walks of shame, and cleaning up poop, and IEPs, (and did I mention the crying?) for me to realize that all of us parents are doing the best we can. And each of us go to bed at night feeling guilty so we should cut each other a break. I guess I'm just saying that you should cut me a break. 
  
  The above pictures are from Ezra's preschool nativity program when he decided to step three feet in front of all the other kids, sing in a devil voice and then shake his head back and forth so violently that he got dizzy and fell. It was amazing. Here are a few other facts about Ezra. 

1.His hair is a major point of contention in our marriage. I want it short but Pete likes it long. Sometimes when he goes to work I give it little trim. When I cut it too short Pete notices and gets mad. As a result when you see Ezra he will either look like a girl, or like that villain that Javier Bardem played in No Country For Old Men. 

2. A few months ago I went to Chick-Fil-A with a friend. I sent the kids into the play area alone to play while I chatted with my friend. Note: this might be a common occurrence in Utah, but on the East Coast, the children are supervised much more closely. This is probably because the mothers here love their children more and have no friends. See? There I go with the judgement. Anyway, I went in to round up my kids and there was a mom with an 8 year old child waiting for me. "Excuse me, I just wanted to let you know that your son hit my son every time he tried to go down the slide." So I went through  the motions of apologizing profusely and talking to Ezra about appropriate behavior, all for the benefit of the mom. When she was satisfied that my 2 year old had been sufficiently lectured for hitting a child twice his size, she left me be. 

3. A few weeks ago, Pete and I took the kids to Chick-fil-A again. And once again, I let them play unsupervised while we chatted. We didn't so much chat, it was more like bickering about Ezra's hair. The conversation ended with me telling Pete that if he wanted to be in charge of hair, he could, but Ezra looked like a girl and really really needed a haircut. Peter, defeated and annoyed with me, stomped off into the play area to retrieve the boys and take them to the barber. When he walked in and called Ezra, he was greeted just as I had been a few months earlier, by a mother standing with a 8 or 9 year old son who had received the wrath of Ezra. I don't exactly know what the exchange was between Peter and this poor mother, but let's just say that I think Peter would have made Larry David very very very proud. 

4. About an hour later, my Pete texts me from the barber, "
         These people here are all Viet. I'm going to listen and see if they talk about me. 
The big payoff for me came when Pete listened to the barber girls talking amongst themselves, "Look at this boy with the girl haircut, why would his parents want him to look like a girl?" It was really too bad for those unsuspecting Vietnamese barber girls. Because little did they know that if Larry David and Alec Baldwin had a love child, it would be a Vietnamese speaking Peter. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Les Misérables

  I have been begging Peter to take us to Disney World for about two and a half years now. The last time we went was about two and a half years ago. I have lots of great arguments about why we should go, and they are good arguments too. But none strong enough to counter Pete's arguements that  it's crowded and expensive and far and our kids have fun just about anywhere. When it comes down to it, he just doesn't love Disney like I do. There are two types of people, those who love Disney, and those who don't. I thought it was very insightful when my friend Heather explained one reason could be that  Disney is "like Christmas. You need early exposure to it when you still believe in unicorns and fairies and The Force for its magic to penetrate your soul." Otherwise it's like "introducing a ten year old to the concept of Santa." Cool but not magical. Well for me, it is magical. For Peter, it's expensive and crowded. 
  I was reminded of Heather's post on Disneyland this morning when I listened to a movie review of Les Misérables. One critic (Slate.com's David Haglund) made the same observation about the musical. He said that you really need to have been exposed to the musical at a young age in order for its magic to penetrate your soul. He could not think of anyone he knew, and neither can I, who was a fanatic of Les Mis, that wasn't exposed to it at a tween-ish age. Haglund cleverly observed that this might be explained by the fact that Jean Valjean is like a comic book hero. Super human strength, check. Villan who is obsessed with taking the hero down, check. Goes around doing good for others, check. I don't know if that's what drew me to the musical, but I am a broadway fanatic and a Les Misérables superfan.  Before the movie came out, it had been a couple of years since I had listened to the music, but I don't know anyone who listened to it more than I did as a kid. My parents saw the show when I was about 9 or 10, they brought home one of those new CD thingies and souvenir program. I looked through the program and listened to the music every day for months, maybe even years. I dreamt of playing young Cosette,  and then Eponine when I got older. I read the book in college and fell in love all over again.  Really, I am a superfan.

   Pete raised another interesting question. Is there anyone who read the book before they heard the music that absolutely adores the musical? Peter says no. I don't know, we'll have to do some polling. I wonder if my friend Sarah D' read the book first. I'll be she's a superfan. I heard that when someone at church once asked Sarah what her favorite book was, she immediately answered Les Misérables. When she opened up the RS newsletter that Sunday, she learned that her favorite book was "Lame Is Rob." True story. 

   So you can guess how excited I was about the film coming out. I didn't see it right away. But I read dozens of Facebook posts about people crying through the movie. My friends loved it. Heck, I got choked up every time I saw a trailer! "Did you know it wasn't pre-recorded?" I would knowingly say to my friends. They already knew. Everyone already knows that. Last weekend we had a free night, I told Pete I wanted to see it to which he responded, "Meh, I'm still not sure whether or not I want to see that in the theater." So I guess that he wasn't exposed to Les Mis at a young age either. What kind of parents did you have Pete? Do we even know each other anymore? Why are you trying to change who I am?After some dramatics on my part, we got tickets. 
 
  I arrived at the theater ready, extra tissues, no eye make-up. The show started. And I didn't shed a tear. I have to admit that I was very moved in the scene just after the bishop gives Valjean the silver and he decides to become an honest man, (I think that might just be the remnants of Dosteyovsky talkin' though--I'm keen on themes of redemption) But no crying here. I should have guessed that the film would feel a little off for me right from the opener when everyone was singing "Look down,'' but no one was actually looking down, they were all looking up. Don't get me wrong, Russel Crowe had me pretty close to tears, but for all the wrong reasons. Even during, "I Dreamed A Dream," nothing. I was actually surprised that so many people were moved to tears during that scene because the 10 minutes leading up to it were totally weird. It was almost like the Lovely Ladies scene was directed by Tim Burton. Surreal and creepy but trying to be funny. I can't switch gears like that. I'm not a machine. Or maybe I am a machine, because I felt nothing. The entire movie I was a bit confused. The close ups weren't raw and emotional, just sort of strange, some people were broadway stars, some were actors who could sing, some were just actors. I kept thinking that I should be really moved, but I never was. I even snuck out half way through to tell the manager that the volume was too quiet. And you know another thing that bugged me? At then end, when Fantine's ghost came to take Valjean up to heaven, why was her hair still short? I think she should have been completely de-whorified. I'm saying that the film should be completely true to the musical, or that every singer needed to be perfect. But it could have been a great movie and it wasn't.

  When the movie ended, I had to admit that I liked it, I don't know if it was because I genuinely liked it, or if I was just defensive because Peter didn't love it. I'm going to have to see it again to decide. As soon as we got home, I hurried to my computer to listen to the music. But I think it's pretty telling that I had to listen to the original '87 version and I couldn't bring myself to re-listen to a single song from the movie. I'm kind of in this state of limbo where I can't really say that I loved the movie, but I feel this really strong desire to see it again. If anyone has any input to help me work through this that would be great, but I think that the take home lesson from all of this is that Peter should give the green light on a Disney World Vacation, don't you?
  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jensen Family Christmas Card

I just thought I'd post our annual Christmas letter. It has received mixed reviews. Everything from, "I loved your letter, you are the most amazing person I've ever met I wish we were best friends!" (that was actual feedback) TO "I never thought I'd read the word 'crotch' in a christmas letter." And then there is just total silence from my parents, like it never even happened, which is much worse than disapproval. Anyway, hope you enjoy it.  Sorry the text is so small.