Friday, December 18, 2009

A Yuletide Entry

I told Brooks that I was going to finish tiling the downstairs bathroom for his Christmas present. Either that or I would finally clean up the Halloween decorations from off the front porch.

He opted for the bathroom.

Christmas represents a sort of dilemma for Brooks and I, two people who are challenged in the gift-giving area. In the beginning of our marriage we tried hard to please one another until we finally realized that giving and receiving gifts really isn't our thing. One year I thought I was really going to make him happy by putting down shoe base along the baseboard in what is now his office. He had been complaining for so long that the main reason that room got so cold was because of the gap between the baseboard and the floor. I recruited our neighbor's knowledge and tools to help me and did it while Brooks was at work so it would be an extra special surprise. "Wow, Jenny - that's nice," was his reaction. Nice?

What about the time I got him "How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci"? It sat on our bookshelf unopened for years until I finally realized he wasn't reading it because 1) he doesn't like to read and 2) he already thinks like that. I gave it to the DI.

Admittedly Brooks has been better over the years at choosing meaningful gifts. He knows I'm a practical person so the bathrobe, the cookbooks, kitchen accessories, etc., have all hit the mark. Nonetheless, I know he's a procrastinator so the last minute running around only serves to stress us both out. What's the point in that? It made more sense the year he put it off so long that he ran out of time all together and got me no gift at all. "Hey," I said to him yesterday. "I bought your present for me today while I was at Spoons-n-Spice. I'll let you wrap it, though, if you want." This arrangement makes us both happy since I get the gift I want and he gets to forego the 11th hour madness.

Seven more shopping days until Christmas. Even though the tile is 90% done, I admit to still freaking out about giving him a gift he can unwrap on Christmas Day. I'll do the usual cruise through Barnes and Noble just in case this is the year he finally decides to start reading. There's a few eclectic shops downtown where I might find something to appeal to his dark humor. Neither one of us pretend anymore that unwrapping me will be very stimulating so maybe the bathroom is all he gets. I can just hear him Christmas morning: "That's nice, Love. Very nice."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Back

This morning the boys got in bed with me and we read Roald Dahl's "The Twits". I put on my best British accent for show and we stayed in our pajamas the whole time. That is what I did with my extra hour today.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Highlights from the Historic Sandy Community Garden Pumpkinfest last month...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Alter Ego

My friend Sacha popped in tonight and chastised me for not posting more often. Ok, it's true - I'm not as regular as I used to be. So in the spirit of keeping this blog going (and placating certain parties), I offer you a brief entry.

A few nights ago Brooks and the boys were bonding by way of some online interactive applications. One of their favorites takes the user's image via a webcam and, in real time, turns them into a Transformers character. They all have a good time - blah blah blah - then off to bed, right? Well, no one tells me that the application is still running when I sit down an hour or so later to check my email.

Not one to miss an opportunity, I strike a menacing pose for the camera and make a screen shot. This image could serve as some kind of disciplinary device to coerce my children into behaving. "Hey!" I'll hiss as they're fighting in Sacrament Meeting, "Remember what MamaBot does to little boys who hurt each other." Or perhaps I'll post it on the lid of the toilet seat as a friendly reminder. And then when they find themselves strapped to a rocket blasting off to the planet Nebulon, they can't say I didn't warn them...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Doll House

We came home from a mini camping excursion yesterday to discover that someone had been in our house while we were gone. How did I know this? Well, there was the doll hand sticking out of the hallway junk drawer for starters. Then I notice a doll face pinned to each cup of my brassiere (which I notoriously hang over whatever door handle happens to be closest to where I'm undressing). The only person I can think of who 1) knows we are out of town and 2) can get into the house via the spare key is our carpenter. While he's been doing work on our house for over a year and is practically one of the family now, the thought that his sense of humor extends to playing with my underclothing kinda creeps me out. "Please, God - don't let it be Steve. His work is amazing and I really don't want to have to fire him over one little slip in judgment." To make matters worse, doll heads and appendages keep appearing everywhere I look - under the toilet seat, on top of ceiling fan blades, in the cold cut drawer of the refrigerator. This is one phone call I definitely don't want to make.

Let me fast forward a few minutes to the part where Brooks admits that he knew all along who has done it. In fact, he was in on it from the beginning. "Jenny, there are only two people in this world with a sense of humor bizarre enough to do something like this and they are both related to you."

"Lindsey!! And Vicki?" This is sheer genius, I have to admit. My sisters are very clever women but a joke on this level is unprecedented. I take my hat off to them for the forethought and creativity. I'm still discovering heads, arms, and legs in ice cream containers, sleeves of oven mitts, water-filled Kerr jars in the pantry and pockets of my hoodies.

They were practically in tears of laughter when I called them to offer my congratulations. I only have two things to say, ladies:

1) somewhere in Sandy there's a very embarrassed carpenter and
2) everyone falls asleep eventually.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jeepers Creepers

I think this photo speaks for itself.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Amy Chamberlain is perhaps one of the smartest women I know. And I happen to be lucky enough to call her my friend. Among other things, she is a gifted writer by God-given talent as well as formal training. She is so gifted, in fact, that even her every day emails are fit for the press, though she would beg to differ. She lives with her husband and son Christopher in Dubai but comes home during the summer for a couple of months where she and "C" stay with her parents. The following is printed from an email with her permission (emphasis added) and finds a welcome place among the other entries on the humorous and hair-pulling realities of parenting.

"Times Tables Make for Good Times"

Because Christopher doesn't do any chores here at Grandma and Grandpa's, and because his overall work ethic is questionable at best, I am forcing him to learn the times tables this summer (also I should mention that his school has neglected this job thus far). C has taken to this activity with the same gusto that he'd take to having his fingernails pulled out. Our five-minute daily sessions follow the same basic emotional arc, which I will share here for your enjoyment:

Stage I: Anger. "I'm NOT going to sit here and learn these stupid times tables and you can't MAKE me." Duration: 30 seconds.
Stage II: Bitterness. "This is the meanest thing you have ever done to me." Duration: 15 seconds.
Stage III: Fleeting, Weak Effort. "I guess I can do this...I think 3 times 4 is twelve. Or something." Duration: 5 seconds.
Stage IV: Tears. "(self-explanatory)" Duration: 2 minutes
Stage V: Reluctant Acceptance. "All right. Fine. Let's hurry and get this over with so I can play my PSP. Show me the next card." Duration:2 minutes and 10 seconds.

Christopher, not to put too fine point on it, my friend, but what your mom has outlined here looks a lot like the five stages of grief. Having passed though these myself many times in any area related to math, I can confidently say that you are welcome at my fire anytime. Given, of course, that it generates enough light by which you can operate your PSP.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"I'd like to thank my family and friends..."

One of my very favorite cousins got married last weekend so I drove to California with the boys to participate in the festivities. It turns out that the reception was held at the home of Keith Merrill who happens to be an LDS filmmaker. Most of you won't know this but I knew Brooks would so I called him to brag.

"You'll never guess whose house I'm pulling up to right now," I say feeling smug.

Showing off his superior person's knowledge of cinematic trivia, he replies, "Well, just make sure you get to see his Academy Award before you leave."

It's his nonchalant tone that gets me. He knows I have no connections to make such a personal request so I immediately put my Great Brain to the task of pulling it off. Within fifteen minutes I had found, photographed, and emailed the proof to him.

"Check your email," I say in triumph over the phone. His hearty laugh sounds in my ear a moment later.

Winkel:1 Briggs:0

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Top 10

...for the last four weeks (in no particular order).

1. School's out! Jenny in denial; continues drop-off and pick-up schedules as usual.

2. Angi visits from Seattle to meet baby Emmett. Amy and Enzo would complete this picture.

3. Brooks goes back to work full-time, wears black. In show of solidarity, Jenny wears [new] black [dress from Nordstrom], too.

4. Buy Greek tortoise. Lose Greek tortoise in backyard. Find and lose tortoise three more times. Dumb pet owners. Smart pet.

5. Send boys to room to mate socks as punishment for fighting. Found not mating socks (but not fighting, either).

6. 6/17: White House schedules visit for Secretary of Health and Human Services to Historic Sandy Community Garden! 6/19: White House cancels visit for Secretary of Health and Human Services to Historic Sandy Community Garden!

7. Surprise pre-dinner visit to archery range orchestrated by Brooks. Jenny over-dressed. Brooks emails post-date JPG next day:
"Hmm... what new activity could I schedule that would require Jenny to wear a black dress while wielding a deadly weapon?"

8. Bad news: record-breaking rain floods into new basement twice. Good news: affects only unfinished bathroom. Concrete floors and old towels make for easy clean-up.

9. Jenny chokes on chicken wrap. Carpenter on hand to perform Heimlich. Itemization in next bill reflects service.

10. Bought $6 Lucky jeans at DI. Find $6 in pocket. Now that's lucky.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

This is a note attached to a Mother's Day gift from Oliver. The irony here is that the paper pad is printed with the phrase "Kids Love Mom". Yet when allowed to speak for himself...

"You are kind to me, Mom. I love you (at least sometimes)."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Im 99.999% Sure He's Hetero

And let me just say for the sake of clarity that if he wasn't, it would be OK with me. I'm just sayin' that based on mounting evidence, Oliver Briggs is the girl-likin' type o' guy. (If you're easily shocked, want to believe that boys don't notice girls until at least twelve, or are Brahm or Oliver's grandparent, don't read this.)

Take last week for instance. Brooks and I are sitting at the kitchen table when Oliver walks out of the bathroom with his head buried in one of my "Self" magazines. It's a health and fitness periodical so my curiosity is piqued as to why a five-year-old would even bother to notice it. Brooks, being male himself, is more clued in than I.

"Hey, Oliver, what are you reading in there?"

Barely looking up he answers, "Poems. This magazine has poems."

(The last time I checked, there were no poems but, hey, I could have missed one.)

Brooks leans over and says quietly into my ear, "That is the equivalent of saying, 'I only subscribe to Playboy for the articles.'"

The light goes on. The pages are filled with beautiful women with beautiful bodies barely covered with their fancy-pants exercise outfits.

I whisper back with a knowing nod.

Using one of the parenting tools from my vast collection, I distract him with a savory morsel of food while gently removing the magazine from his hands saying something vague like, "Here - have a bite to eat while I put this away for you." No shame, no struggle, there you go. (My subscription is now stored up high in a closet).

You know, it's possible that Brooks misinterpreted Oliver's intentions. After all, I did spy some haiku in a similar style of magazine not two months ago. But then there was that incident today in the back seat of the car coming home from a soccer game. Oliver was blurting out, "Boobies, boobies, boobies," over and over again. But maybe I'm reading more into that, too, because when I asked him why he was saying it he simply answered,

"Booby traps, Mom. Booby traps."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

So true, so true...

Last week Oliver and I pushed our cart into the gardening section of Home Depot. On our way in, we passed a woman who was walking out in a big huff, ranting loudly about not getting her way, incompetent employees, etc., etc.

"Sheesh!" I mutter to Oliver. "Some people get so grumpy!"

In all earnestness he replies, "You mean, like you?"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kind of Blue

This is the title of a compilation of jazz tunes from Miles Davis. If you're a fan, you already know this. If you're not yet converted, check it out. It's also the title of today's blog entry because — well, read on.

My sister Lindsey emailed the family last week to say that she is adding a new feature to her blog ( called "Ask Lou". It's an advice column of sorts. So immediately a reply came asking Lou how to beat the blues. Without waiting for Lindsey to answer, my other sister Amy sent the following response (which I am cutting and pasting with her permission).

"I'm not Lou..but I have a few ideas to beat the blues...because I get them too!!
. sing the blues
. listen to the blues
. aquatherapy..take a bath, shower, go swimming, drink lots of water
. exercise
. do something nice for someone
. donate something
. send a small monetary gift to a charity
. organize some small area like your purse or dresser drawers
. go on a small spontaneous adventure somewhere you've never been
. make a christmas tree ornament
. do something purposely embarrassing like circling the free food sample loop at Costco two or three times
. get lost in a book
. close the curtains and run through your house naked ...dancing and singing to christmas music.
. heliotherapy...lay in the sun for a little while
. Pray in a new way that you haven't; skip the traditional opening and closing words and see what comes out.
. don't watch the news for a few days
. where yellow....even if it doesn't look good on you
. Tell the people you love...that you love them!!
. knock on your neighbors door and ask if you might borrow just a small squirt of hemmorhoid cream.
. put a few things in your recycle bin
. make a necklace
. be free . enjoy your blues."

Other things that are blue:

•the walls of the room where I am typing right now (robin egg shell)
•Brahm's eyes
•the cover of my journal when I was nine
•the house one block east (cerulean)
•October - "Into the Ocean" on my playlist
•my bathrobe
•the big jar in the kitchen holding bright yellow tulips – thanks, Lindsey!
•the following photos:

Lindsey (left) and I in 1998

Oh, 1978 or so - I'm guessing it's Easter by the dresses my sisters and I are wearing (I'm the one on Mom's hip).

Brooks outside the $400/month basement apartment we rented our first year of marriage. They must have been going for about $1/ft2 that year...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I must be premenstrual because the past couple of days I've been craving chocolate like mad, I snap a lot at Brahm and Oliver, and every little thing gets on my nerves. No calming self-talk, relaxing bath or long bike ride can snap me out of it, either. Therefore, I know it's hormonal.

Take tonight, for example. I asked Brahm five or six times to do his homework and every time I went to check on him, he was doing anything but; Oliver was chasing his chicken through the house ("Fluffy stays outside, Beavis!"); tried unsuccessfully many times to get both boys to eat their dinner, wanted to get the yard cleaned up for when my parents visit tomorrow; made mental note to pick up drip tape for community garden tomorrow morning all the while trying not to forget Brahm's Science Fair project is due next week.

"Mom, I'm hungry!" Brahm complains.

"You know why you're hungry??", I snap sarcastically.

"But I ate all my dinner."

I look at his plate and see that it's true. "Fine, I'll make you some nachos. While I'm doing that, please go in and finish your homework."

I put the nachos under the broiler then go in to see if he's actually doing it. No, he's absorbed in his Bakugan.


"But Dad said he'd come in and help me with the last five problems!"

Ugh. Brooks had left to go check in on a neighbor of ours who is going through a divorce.

"Look, I'll help you with them then." I say impatiently.

We finish the rest of it before it occurs to me that while we're at it, it wouldn't hurt to make some headway on his science project. We go to the computer, log on to NASA's website and begin to discuss the laws of aerodynamics. Oliver comes into the room and suddenly feels energized by the topic. He starts talking over me about drag, lift and thrust all while I'm trying to explain it to Brahm. Meanwhile I hear Brooks come in the front door and go to the kitchen. Soon he's talking to me, too, right in the middle of a sentence.

"Jenny?" Pause. "Jenny?"

I snap.

"I'm sorry but I can't talk to you right now." I boom. "As you can see, I'm trying to help Brahm with his science project and I can't talk to two people at the same time!"

Another pause.

"OK. But your nachos are on fire."


Two hours and one very stinky house later, the boys are in bed and we're crashed on the couch.

"Does my hair stink like smoke?" I ask him, holding up a strand under his nose.

"Jenny, there isn't one part of our house that doesn't stink like smoke right now."

Long pause.

"You know, it's hard being a woman with PMS!" I complain, feeling sorry for myself.

Without skipping a beat, he adds, "Yes, but not as hard as being a man who is married to the woman with PMS."

(Final mental note: after drip tape, pick up new smoke alarm for kitchen.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Meet the Aunties

On our way to California, we stopped in St. George to visit my paternal grandmother. Also in town visiting were two of her five daughters, Pug (left) and Linda (right). They both live in California but were in Utah to celebrate Grandma's 87th birthday so it was my good fortune to be able to visit with them as well.

Pug's given name is Rosemarie — "Rose" after her mother and "Marie" after Rose's good friend. But ever since I can remember she's been Pug, or even more so, "Puggy". When she was a girl her nose upturned in a pug and the name has stuck ever since. I remember as a child going to her house and swimming in the pool, picking apricots off her tree and watching Sesame Street with her kids, all of whom I adore still as my most favorite cousins. Pug will tell it like it is so if you don't really want to know, don't ask. But this is one of the things I love about her. Another is that she would go to the ends of the earth for the good of her children (she has six) and they all adore her. Common sense is what she has most of with some to spare. And if that weren't enough, when she sings she has one of the most melodic voices you'll ever hear. When it was time to pack up and leave, Pug and I lingered in the driveway with so much still to talk about that I wished we had at least one more day together. "A good shot in the arm" is how my mom describes her. I think that pretty well sums it up.

Linda is the firstborn of the family, almost two years in front of my dad in. Interestingly enough, "Linda" is not her birth name either. "Ruth Ann" is the name on her birth certificate but grandpa announced her to the world as "Linda" at her baby blessing so "Linda" it's been ever since. Actually, it's "Auntie Linda", never "Aunt", a title perhaps too dry and formal for her carefree and zany personality. "Yoo-hoo!" she used to call when she stopped in to visit. "Howdy-doody" is also another signature expression. Like Pug, there is nothing she would not do for her children who all remain very close to her as well. For as long as I can remember she's had a head or rich auburn hair, always styled just so. And speaking of "just so", that's one phrase she uses to describe how she likes things. This is evident in the fact that her house is always clean. Furthermore, $10 says she'll hate this picture because the shutter snapped before she had a chance to flash her best smile. If Linda's not working a shift up at the hospital or spending time with her family, you know she's off to a Tom Jones concert with a girlfriend or scoring big at a garage sale. It's impossible to be with her and not burst out laughing at the stories she tells (and trust me, she always has a good story). I like how down-to-earth she is. What I admire (maybe envy?) even more is her ability to choose happiness. She doesn't seem to be as fragile as I sometimes feel when the chips are down — her self-respect and sense of humor ensure that she comes out on top every time.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"So, What Do You Do All Day?"

One of the things I relish about my job is the variety. I know this contradicts everything I've written about the routine and monotony of being Resident Project Manager. Nonetheless, both statements are true.

Take this week, for example. It's been hectic because we just got back from a week-long vacation in California the night before Brahm's eighth birthday. Taxes are due next week and I'm still trying to dig my way out of the paperwork I need to prepare for the accountant. I got a call from a local PR firm to see if I can do a photo shoot on Friday, there are two work parties to organize for the community garden and my sister Vicki's first baby made his debut yesterday. And on top of it all, the boys are out of school for spring break. Phew!

But what I really wanted to put down on paper is that while I was on the phone yesterday trying to work out some confusion over the shoot, I swear some little boys in the hallway outside my door were knee-deep in a scheme involving our new chickens and the laundry chute. What more can I say?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dear Brahm,

Here’s my initial offer:

1) You lose your [eye] teeth then write a note asking me to bail you out.

2) I give you “lots of money,” but you keep the teeth. However, I will own a percentage of them, which I hope to sell later to cover my initial investment.

3) Let’s say you give some of the money to your brother, mom, and dad as “retention bonuses.”

4) I respond by taxing back 90% of aforementioned bonuses.

5) You thumb your nose at me.

6) As a result of your actions, now ALL of your family loses their teeth. And I run out of money.

7) Everyone starves (but are toothless and can’t eat anyway).

8) You blame me.

So, if you’re good with that scenario, then yes, you can keep your teeth and I will pay you “lots of money”.


Ye Toothe Faerie

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

This Week's Top Ten

(in no particular order...)

1. "Henry Poole is Here" starring Luke Wilson. (Loved him first time I saw him in X-Files episode playing buck-toothed vampire sheriff. What's not to love about that??) Rent it at Redbox.

2. Brahm (after I nuzzle his face): "You have a scratchy chin."

3. Oliver rescued from under two-ton cast iron bathtub by father. Got stuck doing dusting chores. Mother callously snaps photo for blog.

4. Jacuzzi soak after Saturday's long run.

5. Arrival of three chicks to backyard farm. Welcome Buffy, Fluffy and Ozymandias (Ozzie for short).

6. iPod died. Covered by extended warranty Brooks had foresight of purchasing. Yay!! Target gift card arrived in mail today. No more boring workouts.

7. Inadvertent combination of magnet and fridge reminder:

(Prize for best caption.)

8. Sleeping in on weekends. Brahm old enough to forage for breakfast! (note to son: Bozo-stained smile gives away Crystal Light packets. Try odorless, colorless cold cereal instead).

9. Buy-One-Get-One-Half-Price coupon from The Philadelphian hole-in-th -, I mean, "restaurant". Lunch date, Matty?

10. New Nathan Fillion dramedy on ABC. Move over, Lost! (Sawyer - I'll call you, OK?).