Friday, June 27, 2008

06.27.2008 -- Button Trouble

Yesterday, I decided to follow my Beastie inspiration and got crafty. By the way, if you know the song I'm referring to, I got crafty only in the Martha Stewart sense.

I made some things for Lucy's favorite doll (who has no name). I made a jumper out of the bottom third of some of my old jeans (now shorts), which sports the first embroidery from the not-often-used Tayler sewing machine. Other new additions to Favorite Doll's wardrobe: a clever pink shirt (not double knit) that fits over Favorite Doll's head but has no ties or fasteners of any kind, some doll panties (retrofitted and straight from Lucy's drawer), and a blanket.

Lucy was pretty thrilled. She took Favorite Doll to bed after we undressed her to wash her hair. By Lucy's decree, all clothing was replaced on Favorite Doll for the night. This morning, I followed the stricken cries for help to find Lucy sitting up in bed, hot tears streaming from her cheeks. She was distraught. All because the buttons on Favorite Doll's jumper had come off in the night. I had pinned them on because, although I have a sewing machine, I have yet to locate my normal sewing needles. Not my best move, I know.

We made an emergency trip in our PJs to grandma's house to borrow a needle. I made the repair. All is well.

The camera is out today and I am in full blown mom-photographer mode. When I asked Lucy if I could take a picture of her with her doll, this is the "shoot" she set up:

Quote of the day: "Mom, I need your noisiest bowls and some drumsticks."

06.27.2008 -- 10 Years Ago

Ten years ago, Jay-Z, Outkast, and DMX were huge in hip hop. Ten years ago, Bill Clinton said a lot of memorable things: among them, “Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation’s wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them…” Ten years ago, Saving Private Ryan along with American History X, and Life is Beautiful were some of the top movies showing at theaters. Ten years ago, Celine Dion was at the top of the charts. Ten years ago, peace sprouted in Northern Ireland with the Good Friday Accord. Ten years ago, Pokemon was big, and Brian and I got hitched.

Here's a picture of Lucy holding our engagement picture. This is the one we chose. It was taken in a tree. We were barefoot.

Things that have changed in ten years for us:

We now call each other "Mom," and "Dad," or "Mommy," and "Daddy" more than Brian or Val. I never thought we'd do that. In fact, we used to poke fun (very gentle fun) at people who did that sort of thing.

Ten years ago, Brian had about a thousand potted plants. He didn't have a green thumb; he was green all the way up past his elbow. Those things thrived. I am now in charge of plants in our house. We have seven left, and they are not in good shape. Brian is in charge of the forest we are planting in our yard.

Ten years ago, Brian drove a very big, very tough Bronco that got 7 miles to the gallon of gas. Talk about a luxury vehicle. We thought it was expensive to drive then! Brian now drives a very big, very tough Dodge, a work truck that's a little bit tricked out.

Like this, only the best shade of blue you can imagine...and with much bigger tires.

Ten years ago, Brian could be found behind the counter in LW's gas station in Logan, baking cookies, making egg salad sandwiches and doing crossword puzzles to kill the time when his regulars weren't in to fill up their mason jars of Mountain Dew. This is where Brian learned that people sometimes sound silly when they preface their purchase of Camels with this admission, "I have gas." The secret? You can say, "I've got fuel" just as easily. Same number of syllables, even!

Ten years ago, Brian and I had a king sized bed crammed into our little basement apartment bedroom with inches on all sides. Our big furniture purchase was a little table/butcher block thingy from k-mart. It doubled our counter space in our apartment and served as our table. Now, we're homeowners, subject to every joy, pain and expense homeowners are heir to.

Ten years ago, I planted tomatoes in the little strip of flowerbed alloted us from our landlord. Today I have four tomato plants in three pots on our deck. I have been warned that the deer that wander around, adding a bucolic flavor to our neighborhood, well--they eat tomatoes.

Ten years ago, I loved Brian because he was authentic and bright and good and good to me. Today I love him even more. Today, I love him because he is authentic and bright and good and good to me and because he is painfully, heartachingly sweet with Lucy. I love him because he is adventurous and dedicated and because he is strong.

Lots of things have changed in ten years.

Ten years ago, I said, "yes."
I still do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

06.25.08 -- Brainchildren and The Politics of Recycling

Lucy this morning with her favorite doll and a yogurt breakfast. Am I terrible for posting this picture of my daughter with bed-head, yesterday's shirt, and completely mismatched pajama pants? Look at her face!!!

This last weekend was really good. The conference was pretty amazing. There are some big changes on the horizon for research that (I hope) will really change how Hydrocephalus is treated in the future. The conference was sobering, but it also made me realize how differently this chronic disease plays out in individuals. It was inspiring to see how some people touched by hydrocephalus have taken huge steps away from powerlessness.

In one of the collective sessions at this conference, I sat down next to a thirteen-year old kid named Flynn (nametags). I started a normal adult-teenager conversation. (You know the kind. The adult asks all kinds of thoughtful questions, the teenager gives the shortest answers possible, hoping that the adult will stop as soon as possible.)

Some of the questions Flynn endured from me (with his answers): How do you like your unique name? (I like it.) Do you have to spell your name a lot? (No.) So why are you at this conference? (I have hydro.) This is where I explained to Flynn that my 2 year-old daughter has hydro. How it was to grow up with hydrocephalus? (Okay.) Have you had many revisions? (Not really, just two shunts.) How old were you? (I think four months and four years old.) Can you remember the time you were four? (A little.) Is that your dad? (Yeah.) Do many people at home know that you even have Hydrocephalus? (Not really.) Have you been to a lot of these conferences? (Yeah.) How is it being a kid with hydro at these conferences? (Fine.)

Flynn looked like a completely normal kid. Maybe not average: He was a pretty cute boy, more attractive than the average kid. I only knew that he had hydrocephalus because he told me so.

Later in the weekend, I was introduced to Flynn's dad again. Flynn's dad founded the BrainChild Foundation when Flynn was diagnosed with hydrocephalus as an infant. Other organizations (STARS and the Hydrocephalus Association) have started up to raise and direct funds toward hydrocephalus research.

In these meetings, I couldn't help but think that, in this day and age of advanced medicine, a shunt is a shockingly medieval treatment for a brain malfunction. A tube from the brain to the belly? It's better than a straight up trepanation, I guess, but only a few steps from it.

Too many times in these lectures by fantastic neurosurgeons, they responded to questions with, "I don't know." There are a lot of guesses out there about the role of CSF, ventricle size, surgical options, etc...but the funding hasn't been there for research.

Now for recycling:

Our lonely, homeless recycling that has been kicked out of the garage.

This post is a a little bit of a rant. You may want to skip it if you don't like to hear about recycling. If you choose not to recycle, I still love you.

The city of Bountiful has no curbside recycling program. It may be the last semi-large city in Utah NOT to offer this service.

Am I the only one who considers this backward and... well, neglectful? No, I'm not the only one. I know, because I'm not the person who has organized an attack on the current status of curbside recycling, and I'm not the only person who has gone to city council meetings to support the effort. It's surprising, though, how many people don't care and don't recycle at all.

I know this because I walk my dog.

Too many times, I've walked up and down streets with cans full to bursting (stuff spilling over the edges) with no-brainer recyclables: enormous cardboard boxes, packaging of all kinds, cans and bottles. Unable to close properly, the lids on these cans act like sails. These cans tend to tip over in high wind.

Once upon a time, Brian didn't want to recycle. He just didn't get why I wanted to make life difficult by hoarding our trash, then taking it someplace when they would do it for free every Thursday morning. After getting into the habit though, I think he has come to really appreciate all of the stuff we keep out of the landfill. It's rare that we take our trashcan to the curb every week. Once a month will usually do it. Lately, we've been filling it up every week with chunks of asphalt, rocks and junk that got buried in our yard back when it was one of the last empty lots in the subdivision.

The last three times we've taken recycling to the city containers, they've been full to overflowing just a day after they were emptied. This is the aggravating part.

I sent a nice, courteously dissatisfied e-mail to a city councilman today. The whole situation ticks me off. It makes Brian mad, too. In fact, he has suggested I write to the city a few times.

The funny part is that the Mayor, in a city council meeting, answered one of numerous pleas for a citywide curbside recycling program by saying, "It's not like we haven't done anything. We DO have a place for people to take recycling." In my unevolved lizard brain, I wanted to write a scathing letter to him telling him that they should start a lottery for people interested in recycling. (That way, at least, people would save the gas of going to check.) That's how it feels now. Really. If I am lucky enough to unload all of my recycling without checking first, I feel like the lady has SMILED on me.

Maybe I'll suggest a webcam so people can monitor the containers from home. Then there would really be a mad rush to get there before they filled up.

So, besides grumbling about recycling, what have we been up to lately? Check it out:

This is what our yard looks like now. I know that this doesn't show much, but this picture really does tell most of the story. Lots of dirt and some trees. The only part left out of this picture is the irrigation system which is almost done. It's mostly buried now, too. I'm breaking one of my informal personal resolutions, which was to avoid pictures of home stuff that have no people in them. Lucy's asleep, Brian's at work, and I am not dedicated enough to set up my camera with the timer just now.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

06.21.2008 -- Slow Burn Freak Out

Even since I opened an e-mail from a good fiend (spellchecker!).... I'll start over. Ever since a good friend of mine sent me a link to an article written by a woman who had pages and pages to fill about her regrets about blogging too freely, I have been reluctant at my keyboard.

Add to this reluctance my main motivation for blogging (journaling)--and you get a little conundrum. I get very bored with surface writing. To me, it's like licking wax on an apple when there's juiciness (and a complete color change) just a little deeper.

That said:

The National Hydrocephalus Association has one conference a year. This year, the conference is in Park City. I figure that I have no excuse not to go, but to say only that would give an impression that I don't want to go. I want to go, but I'm anxious about it.

Anxious partially because I've never been there, but I think that in a bigger way, it's because exposure to the unpleasant realities of hydrocephalus is painful. I don't like thinking about various and sundry problems and disabilities that come with the diagnosis. All the more reason for me to go.

This post needs some rewriting, but I'm posting it now in the name of progress (to be revisited.)

NOW, I'm off to get Lucy ready for cousin time. She'll be spending a lot of time with cousins this weekend while I'm attending mini-courses on things like Neuropsychology, Slit Ventricle Syndrome, Shunt Infections, Headaches and Hydrocephalus, and "Subtle Discrimination," to name a few.

Lucy this morning

I guess in the right light, this weekend can serve to make me even more grateful for Lucy's lack of complications and her obvious general health.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

06.18.2008 -- Another of THOSE Things

Take this test!
You're green, the color of growth and vigor. Good-hearted and giving, you have a knack for finding and bringing out the best in people. Green is the most down-to-earth color in the spectrum — reliable and trustworthy. People know they can count on you to be around in times of need, since your concern for people is genuine and sincere. You take pride in being a good friend. For you, success is measured in terms of personal achievement and growth, not by status or position. Rare as emeralds, greens are wonderful, natural people. It truly is your color!

Friday, June 13, 2008

06.13.2008 -- Pop Quiz

What was created in the year 2000 to capture the essence of music at the fundamental level using over 400 attributes to describe songs and a complex mathmatical algorithm to organize them?

The Music Genome Project!

I remember hearing about this years ago. Of course, I completely lost track of it and only remembered my initial interest when my cousin's blog directed me to

This is the coolest concept I've thought about all month. I plan to try Pandora very soon.

Lucy, Zoey and I managed to leave the house before noon this morning to go on a hike. She actually let me pack her up a ways in her "packpack" before she wanted to walk. Normally, I am all for little people going on their own power, but it tends to slow down hikes considerably (read full stop). It was nice to actually get some exercise myself.

A Hiking Dog is a Happy Dog - Zoey Post Hike

We got to a point where the trail goes into a mass of oak trees that have been decimated by those little inchworm pests (that can drop from branches with no warning onto unsuspecting hikers) before I got too creeped out and decreed that we were turning around. This part of the trail was not the first sign of damage by the worms--just the first part where the damage appeared to be total.Besides being depressing, the sight of all of the defoliated trees made me think of all of those worms dropping into my hair, down the back of my shirt... It was just time to turn around.

On the way down, we came across a couple of forest workers doing trail maintenance. I asked one of them if they (the forest service) had plans to do anything about the infestation. He explained that a lot of people are spraying for the worms in the valley, but that the worms are part of a natural cycle that will run it's course. He said that a few years ago they did spray to get rid of an asian Gypsy Moth because it wasn't endemic (my words, not his), and that killing everything off (bees too) along with the Gypsy Moth pretty much caused this imbalance.

It's a simple thing, but I'm relieved and grateful that the people managing our forests are taking the longer view.

I went through a Barbara Kingsolver phase a while back and read everything she'd written. Everything that I got my hands on, that is: about 6 of her books. She has a long view and is (in my opinion) a darn good writer.


Post Script: Have now listened about 20 seconds of Pandora (My own provate Mushaboom Radio), and love it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

06.12.2008 -- Blocks & Birthdays

Recently, our niece, Suzanne, celebrated her eighth birthday. This past Sunday, her mom asked me to take some pictures to continue a family tradition. Suzanne's little sister, Lia, and Lucy tagged along. Towards the end of this mini "photoshoot," Suzanne was helping Lia and Lucy into the flowers, and I caught this with my camera. Pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

Here's another idea of why I haven't been posting:

good, old-fashioned writer's block. (?!)

...And here it is again. See, I've STARTED about 3 posts lately, but they've all been too lame to keep. Sometimes I do that and then I'll go back later to add a post to sort of fill in the gaps. I had some really good ideas to write up last night, but as usual, they're gone in the morning (along with the finer details of my my crazy pregnant dreams).

On pregnant dreams: this is one of life's beautiful compensations. My days are not the most exciting; they're full of love and sweetness and meaning, involve a lot of mundane, but essential, household tasks, and I get long stretches in which to practice patience, clamness and sanity. Like everybody, some of my days are more fulfilling than others. Like everyone, I sometimes get bored, and sometimes lonely. (Lucy is fantastic company, however, she is a two-year-old, and my daughter--not a peer.)

Pregnant dreams, though? Most mornings lately, I find myself waking from a completely unexpected, drama-charged, exciting dream. Yay.

For as long as I can remember, I've had vivid dreams (and can remember them, obviously). This contributed to a LOT of tardiness when I lived at home and had to get up in the morning for school. Since then, I've learned to wake up in spite of a nice dream if I need to.


Today is one of our niece's and my mother-in-law's birthday. My mother-in-law asked for a photo of Lucy--that's all. I've ordered it, just have to pick it up...but it seems so little.

This, of course, comes down to expectations. In my own family, birthday expectations are very low. The standard is to call on the birthdate. That's it. It makes things pretty simple. Once in a while, one of us will actually send a gift. Since he's been married, my brother Mike is very good at this. He claims it's all his wife. I give her 70% of the credit, since I know for a fact that Mike has put work into picking out fantastic, thoughtful gifts way ahead of time.

Come to think of it, I am pretty good at getting gifts to my in-laws on birthdays. All of said in-laws live within a half-an hour's drive, too. That makes things a lot simpler. It's much more difficult to forget a gift if you've been invited to a birthday party--to which we are, invariably.

Maybe it's the distance and the long history of not thinking about my own family that makes it challenging. ...I also can't help but think--if it has been fine as-is for all of these years, why create more for myself to do? I myself don't mind if I don't get a gift from my brothers. Of course, it's always really nice to be remembered; and I have to admit that a well-chosen gift is one of the best ways I know of to let someone know they're cared for (and remembered).

Mike's birthday is coming up. So what does one get for a 34 year-old who seems to have everything he wants? Something he doesn't want? That, unfortunately, may be the all-to-common answer. I'm trying to avoid that this year.

Besides birthdays, sleep, and it's dreams, there are a lot of other monotony breakers for stay-at-home moms like myself. There's the park, the local pool, the library, outings with friends and family, the zoo... (Although, I discovered that I really can't stand the zoo with all the sad-looking animals.)

Lucy and I like to drive a little ways north to see my sister and her family. When we went to play a month-or-so ago, we got to play in/on the big, wet inflatable thing you see in the picture above. (Also see above to gauge Lucy's enjoyment level.) My brother-in-law, Eric, took this picture of Lucy and his nephew, Josh. I know I didn't take it, because my blindingly-white foot is in the picture, too. Eric also took some pictures of my *ahem* bottom. I will sell these for about 3 million a piece. (Steep, I know, but I'm planning in advance for blackmail.)

End note: While I was typing this, my fantastic husband sent me a very sweet text. Yay!
Men: don't underestimate the effect of these small things!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

06.03.2008 -- Sprinkler Time, Play Time

Sprinkler Time

There are millions and millions of people in the world who are missing out. I bet that worldwide, a small percentage of us get really familiar with home sprinkling systems. We are some of the lucky ones.

Yes, we've started installing our sprinklers. (By we, I mean that Brian has started installing our sprinklers. I have done next to nothing to help.)

Progress in the yard? We've got lots of trees in and trenching is 80% done for sprinklers. Brian is probably 10% done with the sprinkling system. I'm proud of him. There are so many things that are so much more fun that he would probably rather be doing, but he's been very focussed.

This putting-in-of-the-yard has been incredibly absorbing. I have tried to figure out why I haven't blogged for such a long time and I can't really come up with anything besides the fact that I'm expecting and we've been putting lots of energy (mental and physical) into the yard. Of course, that's not all I've been doing...but I am out there weeding 6 days a week at least once a
day... And the mental energy? Let's just say that trying to get our yard in has been a huge learning experience in a lot of areas--especially in neighbor relations.

Now that I think of it, there are a few other things that have sucked me out of blogging recently. I got a new calling in church: Relief Society teacher. That has actually required a lot of mental energy for me. There are other odds and ends, small obligations and projects that fill up the days. I guess I'll just have to put more effort into rebuilding my habit.

Play Time

Last weekend, we had another first at our house. Two cute neighbor girls knocked on our door to ask if Lucy could play.

Lucy eating applesauce this morning on my lap.

The day before, Lucy was playing outside while Brian and I were working in the yard and saw some of the neighborhood girls across the street. She asked if she could cross the street to see them and Brian took her over with her Winnie the Pooh 'bike.' I think she spent 3 - 4 hours with the girls that night. She literally cried, scratched me and hit me when I came to take her home. She was tired. She can't quite figure out how to verbalize that kind of disappointment yet.

Who me?

The next day, the youngest two of these sweet girls (8 years old) show up, asking to play with Lucy. She was thrilled, and so was I. She spent hours with them for three days straight. She hasn't forgotten how much she loves playing with them and many tears have been shed because her mean old mom won't let her go play with them. If I could know with no doubts whatsoever that these girls wanted Lucy with them as much as she wants to be with them, I would let her go play more. But I don't.

I'm getting foreshadowings of what it may be like when Lucy is older and enters the constant drama of little girl social life. You know what I mean--she likes me, she doesn't like me...She and she said this about you, she and I feel this way about her. You and I and she are best friends until we aren't. Can't wait.

Is this video clip below sort of random? Sort of. I included it because it reminded me how grown up even very little girls think they are sometimes. This little girl has emoting skillz!