Posted on : 2:03 PM | By : Jennifer

Originally uploaded by derrick_smith



Posted on : 8:21 AM | By : Jennifer

Originally uploaded by derrick_smith

The Mints Have Moved


Posted on : 3:14 PM | By : Jennifer

Hi everyone.  Just wanted to let you know that my blog has moved to a new locale.  Please come see me at strayjuniormint for good times and sticky purses.

Thanks for checking in!

Rumplestiltskin was NOT a leprechaun


Posted on : 4:06 PM | By : Jennifer

Was he? I say no, Derrick says yes. Who will you side with on this one, the English major or the engineer? (I'm counting on you, my three faithful readers...)

This little tiff aside, we had a happy St. Patty's Day here. We don't usually do much for this holiday (when you don't drink, your options are pretty limited), but the girls really got into it and asked if we could do a special dinner and family night for it. So we cooked up some:

Corned Beef and Cabbage

It tasted better than it looks--honest. It was actually delicious.

Irish Soda Bread

Okay, I forgot to take a pic of my loaf, so I snatched this off
Google Images. Same idea, though--we even did the X on top
(I know you're impressed.)

and for dessert,
Rachael's Rainbow Cookies

Those are clouds with gold dust on them, in case you couldn't tell.

I was proud of her efforts, as making these turned out to be quite a process:

Each layer had to be colored, rolled, then flattened and
rolled around the previous layer. Lots of work--we're not French, you know!
(Did you know? We do sometimes give off that aura with our sophistication and charm.
A lot of people ask.)

Applying the "clouds." We had so much fun making these,
and they were geeeoood! Pure butter and sugar--how could they not be?

Rache then took us on a wild and crazy treasure hunt (Ethan was in heaven, flying through the house) and we all settled down to hear her lesson on the history of St. Patrick's Day. Derrick and I were shocked to learn that it had anything to do with Christianity. I guess a lot of people know that. Where have we been? (Oh yeah, graduating from Kennewick High.)

There were prizes for Ethan and treats for everybody, except Dad

who then tried to steal Ethan's.
Ethan wasn't havin' any of it.

At the end of the evening, we were surprised with a visit from a mysterious leprechaun who asked not to appear on this blog. Suffice it to say she wore a long green coat with sparkly gold shoes, threw gifts from her big black shoulder bag, and had a LOT of blush on. We never knew leprechauns could be girls, but she told us, oh yes, they can. I will respect her wishes and not post her picture here in order to protect the anonymity she'll need to do more leprechauning in the future. Suffice it to say, she was blonde, little, and cute. And so funny. Unbelievably funny for an eight-year old.

We had a lot of fun tonight, without a lot of planning or shopping or stressing. My kind of holiday.

And so Happy St. Patrick's Day and a shimmy shimmy shamrock to you all!
(Five bonus points if you can recite the rest of that handslap. One clue: eenie weenie pepsadeenie...)

Follow the Yellow (or red) Brick Road


Posted on : 11:50 PM | By : Jennifer

So here I am, precisely thirty-two hours after my last post, the dreamy escape to Portland already safely tucked into the past.  I was so excited for this little getaway that I actually got nervous as we drove out of town, because everyone knows that when a couple is that happy to leave town--and everything seems perfectly right with the world--they end up dying in a tragic car accident, leaving their children orphans to be raised by an indifferent distant relative.  That, however, did not happen.  And I'm glad, because one more day on this earth meant that I got to go to Voodoo Doughnuts.

I had not heard of Voodoo Doughnuts until 10 am this morning, when we finally rolled our already-chubby-but-soon-to-be-chubbier buns out of bed.  My husband mentioned that he'd heard Voodoo served the "ultimate" doughnuts and was something of a Portland landmark, so we made our way across the cheery red-bricked downtown streets, enjoying the crisp March weather.  We rounded the corner of 3rd Avenue and there it was:

From the outside, the shop looked small, "funky" (Portland's euphemism for old and dirty), and was swarming with long-haired middle-aged men who obviously didn't quite make it to San Francisco, and unadorned young women who were trying dutifully to look unattractive.  (I don't know why these Portland girls insist on unattractiveness, I just know that they do.  I guess at the very least, their poor/plain look is on purpose, which is more than I can say for my own.)

Have you ever stood in line for forty-five minutes to get a doughnut?  Neither had I, until this morning.  The real problem was that by the time we realized we were going nowhere, we'd invested ten minutes of precious wait time, and no way were we starting over somewhere else.  After fifteen minutes, the formerly friendly weather became my enemy as that cold spring wind blew straight through my hoodie into my now growling stomach.  We waited.  And waited.  About every five minutes, a couple of lucky souls would emerge from the front door with their confectioned bounties heaped in a pretty pink box that was ridiculously mismatched with the grunge vibe of the joint.  I'm thinking the color was probably an unfortunate by-product of adamant insistence on 100% recyclable, organic, sustainable materials in which to house their precious doughnuts.  Whatever the reason, those Pretty Pink Boxes did not belong at Voodoo Doughnuts.  Period.

We kept waiting, huddled together against the cold like a pair of desperate refugees.  Rather than facing death on one side and starvation on the other, however, we were instead sandwiched between some sort of alternative high school outing in front of us and a group of young local thespians behind.  We continued our slow march toward the front door as one of the "actresses" behind us began waxing poetic about religion and coffee.  All I can say about her dissertation is that never will I recover the ten minutes of my life that I spent listening to it.

The slow stream of satisfied customers continued to trickle out the front door, their faces lit up with the smug, secretive confidence of those who have been admitted to the Inner Room.  I found myself wondering if this was the expression Katie Holmes wore after Tom Cruise inducted her into the executive boardroom of the Scientology cruise ship. I thought about Tom and Katie for a long time.  Wondered how they were doing.  But then I was done thinking about them and I went back to being hungry and cold.

And so it was, after a piece time that moved more slowly than the Willamette River, we were upon the  front door.  Like Jean Val Jean before he committed his fateful crime, only a pane of glass separated Me-From-Bread.  I could smell the frying fat; I could taste the crystal sugar.  And suddenly, without fan or fare, the door was opened.  A curtain was pulled back and we were ushered into Oz.  And Oz it was, my friends.  Oz it was.

Think twenty bodies crammed into two hundred dimly lit square feet.  Think a long counter manned by two teens--a boy and girl--who were, by all appearences, apprenticing for their future roles as The Man Who Didn't Make it to San Fran and The Deliberately Unattractive Woman (see pp. 3, lines 2-3).  Think of the thick stench of cigarette smoke and body odor that surely violated codes of, if not health, at least basic personal hygiene.  But most of all, think of the doughnuts.

The menu was infinite:  bacon topped maple, coconut and caramel swirled, chocolate and banana glazed, vanilla and grape, mango and marshmallow, Butterfinger and Oreo--all filled, frosted, sprinkled, and stuffed to your liking.  After our longsuffering stint on the street, Derrick and I decided  that an even half-dozen would suit the two of us nicely.  We ordered a blueberry old-fashioned, Mexican Hot Chocolate, cinnamon cruller, raspberry-filled powdered sugar, Captain Crunch Frosted and, just to round things out, a peanut butter and chocolate concoction entitled "Dirty Old Bast*rd."  (I'm sorry to offend you with that, but so it was called, and I can only speak truths here.)

Final wait time:  47 minutes
Final bill:  $7.50
Final calorie count:

Final calorie count:

You know, I don't really see how that bit of information is relevant to the conversation at hand.  Let's move on.

We sailed out of the shop conquering heroes, pleased to see that the line was now twice as long as it had been when we were in it (we're not above relishing in others' misfortunes.)  Derrick held the Pretty Pink Box high above the heads of the trodden masses who looked up at us with hungry eyes.  I graced them with a benevolent smile that said:  "Be patient, little ones.  Your time will come.  Yes, your time will come."  And with that, we were off to Saturday Market.  In the two minutes it took to walk there, we managed to inhale all six gargantuan doughnuts.  They were geeoood.

Final favorites
Jen:         Blueberry old-fashioned 
Derrick:          Dirty Old Bast*rd. (Figures)

The real triumph of this psychodelic wanderlust was not realized in the doughnuts, however.  The real victory for me was that just by hanging around a place like that I was instantly younger, hipper, and somehow more environmentally aware.  I really can't explain it.  I just know that absorbing the verbal meanderings of said Acting Troupe took at least ten years off of each of us.  This newfound feeling of urbane coolness lifted my spirits high throughout the morning as we wandered through booths filled with ugly clothes and junky jewelry that now seemed artsy and beautiful through my newly initiated  eyes.  I wanted to shout from the lampposts across the Willamette:  In the name of all things recyclable, I am now a member of the Voodoo crowd! Never again would I be caught in a Wal-Mart.  Never again would I coupon at Walgreens.  Cloaked with this new identity, I smugly made my way downtown where I was sure my funky and fancyfree essence was palpable to each person I passed.

That is, until I stepped into Anthropologie.  My funky and fancyfree essence disintegrated the moment I stepped into Anthropologie.

But that's another post.

Lovin' it


Posted on : 2:40 PM | By : Jennifer

I've been so lame about posting.  Here's a quick one:

Derrick and I are now leaving for a full 32 hours without children, responsibilities, or a schedule.  The kids are being dropped off at Saint Cara and Saint Julies' homes (loveliest friend and sister ever), and the hubby and I are taking off to Portland until late Saturday night (a curse upon his new calling!)

In 32 hours we will squeeze in:  a session at the Portland temple (where we were married--it's sentimental, okay?); a late night dinner, possibly at "Montage" (sp?) which is this unbelievably cool restaurant under a bridge in some funky part of town that is way too hip and young for us, but a couple can dream;  a leisurely morning stroll through downtown's Saturday Market, which we haven't done in ages; a heavy consumption of all foods ethnic, deep fried, or with suspicious odors and ingredients; a little "someday" window shopping; and, of course, a big fat trip to Powell's bookstore, which we don't dare do first because we know if we do, the rest of the day is shot.  I love my husband.  I love that he loves Powell's.  I love a weekend--finally--that is empty enough to waste a little time together.  I'm especially loving my kids' babysitters, too.  Lovin' it! (But not in a McDonald's sort of way.)

I love you, Cliff R.


Posted on : 10:09 AM | By : Jennifer

That was the name of the tall, dark, devastatingly handsome young cashier who baptized me into the waters of couponing at Albertsons a mere four hours ago.  Any of my three faithful readers who may have known me when I was younger, thinner, and much cooler may be surprised to learn that, three kids and ten pounds later, it has indeed come to this:  I now not only clip and use coupons, I proudly use that word in the singular as a straight up verb.

A few weeks ago I attended a free "coupon class" in my neighborhood, wherein many of my good friends and I sat on couches and floors, mesmerized buy the silky promises of a shiny young mother who spends roughly four dollars a week on groceries.   In spite of the thick index charts and multiple logarithms necessary to understand the process of saving money, we were all smitten by her presentation and gleefully subscribed to multitudes of Sunday papers, within whose deep, heavy folds the coveted coupon books hide.

And so began my neighborhood's--and my personal--obsession with couponing.  It's kindofbutnotreally easy, kindofbutnotreallyfun, and you get to feel smart and virtuous as you smugly scan your coupons while the poor shmuck behind you pays full price.  I'd say if I added up the hours I spent finding, organizing and shuffling coupons, then divided those hours by the money I saved, I'd come up with a personal salary of at least $2.50 an hour. Can't you see why I do it?  That's the highest income I've grossed in over eleven years.

Think of the 'ole frog-in-the-boiling-water adage: the frog doesn't know it's boiling to death because the water's heating up gradually.  So it's been with my steady decline into Dorkiness.  It started with a young marriage to an engineer (social suicide, obviously), followed by a well-intentioned but sorely misguided haircut, which then led directly to three kids, a minivan, and moving back to my small (sworn off forever) hometown.  Add to that the heavy influence of local stay-at-home-mom friends/church friends/PTA friends/kids' friends' moms' friends and all of my mother's old friends, and you have the Perfect Storm of Geekiness brewing with no George Clooney to save me from myself.

The upside?
a) Saving a lot of money.  (I guess.)
b) Meeting men like Cliff R., whom I've decided is my (other) soulmate.  (I think we're allowed at least two.)
c)  I now get to use words like freebies and doublers and coupon fraud.  My husband laughed out loud the first time he heard me talk about Coupon Fraud.  I personally don't see what's so funny about Coupon Fraud.  It's real.  It's out there.  I'm telling you.

The downside?
a)  Logarithms.
b)  Feeling flustered and hurried in front of the other customers at the checkout line--people I used to feel quite attractive around by comparison.  (I shop at Wal-Mart.  Draw your own conclusions.)
c)  So far, I've mostly just amassed outrageous quantities of cold cereal, all of which are the kind I never used to buy for my kids (think 13 grams of sugar per serving.)  But I'm getting each box for a dollar, so the fact that we now have cereal for dinner four nights a week somehow makes sense.
d)  Our paper carrier, whoever he/she is, is incapable of delivering the Sunday papers to my home.  So far I have gotten one Sunday paper on a Monday, and one Tuesday paper on a Tuesday.  That's it.  Whoever the carrier is, he/she simply cannot get it right.  I've called.  I've been polite.  I've made two trips to the downtown office to pick up the papers myself.  And still, this Sunday: no papers.  He. She. Cannot. Do. It.

Enough grumbling.  Let's get back to Cliff R.

Oh, ladies, he was dreamy.  Think Jude Law in a grocer's apron.  And so polite.  He kept saying, "Oh, I just need your Albies card again really quick."  Albies--could you die with how adorable that is?  And I kept falling all over myself, apologizing for the fifteen "doublers" I was using, in addition to the twenty original coupons (I'm not kidding), and he just smiled suavely and said, "Oh, no problem--we just want to keep everyone happy."  I'm pretty sure he winked at me when he said this.  And then he apologized profusely when he accidently overcharged me 50 cents on two boxes of pasta, but I just smiled prettily and said, "Oh, don't worry about it...that will be my little tip to Albies for how patient you've been with me tonight."  I batted my eyelashes and shrugged really cute-like when I said this, hoping he'd see how young these gestures made me look.  The height of the drama came when, because of his obviously powerful position, he pulled his own little gold key out of his apron pocket to unlock the register, not needing to call any managers over for the usual "coupon overriding" nonsense.  He just smiled confidently and worked that till like it was nobody's business.  It was awesome

And here's the kicker, my three faithfuls:  Albies was out of a few things because of the massive sale, so Cliff R. had to write down my name and number so he could call me directly when they got the products in.  I will then return to the store and meet him at a predetermined destination for our second rendezvous.  I'm considering it an official first date, and I think Derrick is really happy for me.  (I mean, I think he would be if he knew about it.)  And now the only thing I need is wardrobe advice from you all.  Would you go funky-casual or over-the-top glam?  And should I be embarrassed that the products I'll be collecting from my beloved Cliff R. are toilet paper and Fruit Loops?

I can't believe it, either.


Posted on : 2:14 PM | By : Jennifer

While walking through the screaming, steaming, teeming, germ-infested labryinth that is Chuck E. Cheeses, little Ethan squeezed my hand and whispered in astonishment, "I can't believe I'm five!"  He said this with the same reverent awe that a young bride might say on the morning of her wedding--I can't believe I'm getting married!--his voice full of wonder and hope.

I can't believe it, either.  How could five years have passed since I brought our pink-and-white baby home from the hospital?  How can we already be done with bottles, diapers, potty-training, and tantrums?  (Okay, three out of four's not bad.)  How can my youngest, the baby, already be telling jokes, drawing masterpieces, taking showers, asking if he can drive, and be in full-time Jedi training?  How can his funny, spunky personality already have seen five Christmases and Easters?

And who taught him, in those five years, to hold the door open for his mom every single time she walks through it?  Not me.  Who taught him that you say goodbye and goodnight with a crisp kiss on each cheek, ala the French?  Still not me.  (Our family usually hugs.) And who taught him that, even at his advanced age of five, mom and dad's bed is still the comfiest place to get a good night's sleep? Definitely not me.  Mostly, I want to know who taught him that a lollipop is a good way to top off his breakfast, any and every day of the week?  (It was me, okay?  It was most definitely me.)

I want someone to explain to me where the time went.  I've been so busy, I hadn't noticed my children were growing up.  The only thing worse than having your oldest face middle school is having your baby officially out of toddlerhood and into the straight "little kid" category.  I've long since graduated from Young Motherhood, but this birthday eliminates me from the Mother-of-Young-Children category as well.  I'm toast.  (Cue Sunrise, Sunset please.)

In spite of Ethan's treacherous act of getting older, we had a very happy birthday.  Just once in their young lifespan, I allow each of my children a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheeses. (Megan rejected this offer.)  (She is completely terrified of Chuck E.)  (Smart girl.)  So it happened that Year Five was when Ethan's robust boyhood dreams would come true.

We kicked off the big day with the traditional birthday breakfast in bed.
(He likes a glass of bubbly to get him going in the morning.)

As you may have guessed, we followed up this meal with a much-needed haircut.
(Why can't we pull off the long-retro-curls thing with E's gorgeous locks?  It just doesn't work.)

Hours of anguished waiting later, it was finally time to meet Chuck E.
He did not disappoint.
Sorry about cutting off your head in this photo, Chuck E.  
But at least I didn't do it for real.
Which is what I really wanted to do.

The kids were invited to dance with the creepy oversized mouse Chuck E., 
but Ethan had other plans.

Isn't this a sweet picture of the birthday boy and an adorable little girl
helping him blow out the candles?  
At least, we assumed she was adorable.  
We didn't know her.
At all.
She just wandered over and helped herself to our cupcakes. By the end of the night, three other anonymous girls had followed suit.  We didn't mind.
Their parents are the ones who had to worry about stranger danger.
No skin off our frosting.

A young stud who knows he looks tough in the 
world's coolest crown.
(Which apparently doubles as a flotation device.)
You cannot imagine the sweaty head that lurked beneath that latex.

A good-lookin' (okay, tired and greasy) crew.
Notice Chuck E.'s frazzled gaze in the background, still
reeling from Megan's rejection.

All kidding aside, we actually had a great time at the "restaurant," and the pizza is really not that bad (concedes the hostess, three slices later.)  The kids played, danced, ate, and spent tokens like high rollers in Vegas drunk off orange Crush.  It was such a hoppin' party, in fact, that we all stayed an hour longer than we'd planned--and on a school night!  (No one accuses me of not being a fun mom.)  The highlight of the evening, however, awaited Mr. E. when we arrived home:

This gift from Mom and Dad went over like an inflatable red crown embedded
with gold tokens:  beautifully!  And he's a pretty impressive shooter, too.

Impressive--and adored--in so many ways.
Let the years keep on coming.
We're loving every minute of it.

Happy Birthday, Easy E!  

wallowing in the psuedo-psycho-babbleonian Empire of Her Majesty


Posted on : 1:38 PM | By : Jennifer

I know it's a little late in January to be doing this, but I have decided to share with you, my three faithful readers, my most shameful and disgusting secret of 2009.  Are you ready?  Better buckle up for this one:

I bought an O--as in Oprah--magazine.

In my defense:  see my Standard Line of Defense (i.e., It Really Wasn't My Fault.)

It was two weeks before Christmas. I was making fresh salsa to give as gifts to my friends and neighbors (if you didn't get any from me, it's because I knocked and knocked and nobody ever came to the door.) Mid-salsa-making, I ran out of peppers and had to run to the corner grocery store to replenish.  Due to its sinful markups, I generally avoid this particular place unless I am in dire need of just a few essentials, as was the case this cold winter's day.  I entered the warm little market and my tired, overshopped back and feeble, overspent mind instantly succumbed to the cozy market's dim lighting and rotisseried chicken aroma.  (Do they make candles in this odor?  They should.  Let's shoot Scentsy an email.)

Compared to my standard back-breaking, bulk-buying expeditions to Wal-Mart (please don't judge, especially if you live in Portland or voted for Obama), setting foot in that store was like walking into a spa.  It was clean, it was pretty, and everyone was superduper nice.  The least I could do was buy something from these good and gracious people.

Caught in this dreamy holiday bubble of warmth and good cheer, the latest cover of O caught my eye, all silvery and smooth, with a glimmering Oprah sitting at her table, sipping what I could only presume was a fifty-dollar cup of organic green something-or-other that adds a decade to your life and eliminates the need for mammograms.  Add to all this that she promised me with her eyes--Oprah promised me, I'm telling you--that if I only opened that magazine, this year I would finally get what I really wanted:

1.  Rich.  Thank you, Suze Orman.
2.  Skinny. Thank you, Bob Greene.
3.  Perfect relationships. Thank you, Dr. Phil.
4.  The secret of life (by going on vacation for a year.)  Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert.
5.  My own way (by putting-my-own-needs-first-for-a-change.)  Thank you, Martha Beck.
6.  My Best Life. Thank you, Ms. Winfrey.

As I picked it up, the shiny pages fluttered to the opening editorial-- How to Stop Spending--nested gracefully between the Gucci and Prada ads.  Like a zombie on the holiday episode of "My Favorite Things," I shelled out $4.95 (that's a lot of peppers) and held the cool, slick volume close to my body, a little giddy over this uncharacteristic impulse buy.  I tightened my hold on the glossy and glanced around quickly as I beelined for the car.  No one was going to steal this moment from me.

Later that night, soaking my jalapenoed skin  in a well-deserved jetted bath, I finally sank into the riches I had been saving all day long.  I eagerly flipped through this iconic tome of American femaleness but, as you may have gathered from  my subtle forshadowing, I did not learn how to get rich, skinny, validated, enlightened or fulfilled.


I did, however, learn two rather significant pieces of information from this vault of info-tainment:

#1:  "Living My Best Life" apparently means living any other life than the one I'm living now.  My current life, it would seem, remains a problem to be solved.  By Oprah's staff.

#2:  Elizabeth Gilbert is the single most annoying person on the planet, with Martha Beck in a close second.  (Oprah, of course, remains in a cosmic league of her own.)  And yet they all made a few bucks off of my back.

Are you as disappointed in me as I am in myself?  I'm sorry to have burdened you with this confession, but doing so has made me feel a bit lighter, kind of like when Bilbo gave Frodo the ring.  And now, my friends, you are at liberty to cast off your own cares of 2009.  What was your lowest moment this holiday season?
Come on.  Let's talk about it.

Oprah would.

Born in the year of the rabbit


Posted on : 11:16 PM | By : Jennifer

1999, to be exact.  Eleven years ago.

According to Chinese tradition, this means that Rachael is articulate, talented, ambitious, virtuous, and has excellent taste.  I must admit, the accuracy of this description lends credence to those oft-underestimated Chinese horoscopes with which our daughter has recently become fascinated.

Forgive the cliche, but raising Rachael really has been eleven years of joy. She is kind, intelligent, talented, happy, freakishly creative, energetic, fun, mature beyond her years, spiritual beyond her years, with a capacity to love well beyond her years.  She is sensitive to others, always thinking of others, always worrying about others, always going out of her way to make others happy.  So this year we decided to Bring Honor to her not once, but twice.  She deserved every bit of it.

Honor #1:  "Chinese New Year" party at Grandma's on New Years Eve.  We had it early so she could celebrate with her cousins who were visiting for the holidays.

We had fun painting scrolls

hanging lanterns

trying to eat Costco's Orange Chicken with chopsticks (spearing works)

admiring the New Years Baby

and enjoying a few choice moments of sibling harmony.

We wrapped up the night by making origami face masks and watching Kung Fu Panda.
Afterward, the kids relished their annual chance to stay up until midnight.
It was a perfect way to ring in the new year.

Honor #2:  Last night, on her birthday's eve, Derrick and I took Rachael to PF Changs, sans extra siblings, for the first time ever.  Rachael loves Chinese food and has always wanted to go to PF Changs to try the "real" kind (we don't get our kids out much.)  It did not disappoint.  Through the evening, I sat back and noticed that Rachael's behavior during her birthday dinner was typical of her behavior at large.  She was happy.  She was enthusiastic.  She was thankful, gracious, polite, chatty, funny, playful and thrilled with everything.  She was impressive with her ten-minute dissertation on the role Abigail Adams played in Revolutionary America and the continued effect Ms. Adams has on our country's women today.  She was tickled (as were her moochy parents) when our server upgraded her free mini-dessert to a free big dessert in honor, I can only assume, of her general cuteness and likeability.  The server's generosity was not wasted; the flourless chocolate dome was fairly licked off the platter.

We had a great time with much luck, the biggest indicator of which is that we can call this phenomenal little girl our own.

Happy Birthday, Rachey!  You bring honor to us all.

this genetically-engineered food thing is really getting out of hand


Posted on : 11:44 PM | By : Jennifer

Tonight I made cupcakes for my daughter to take to school tomorrow.  I opened up the egg carton and gasped in astonishment at the gargantuan eggs that sat inside it.  Because I knew you wouldn't believe just how gargantuan these eggs were, I propped one up against an apple for a convincing visual aide:

Imagine my added shock when, still intimidated by their sheer size and volume, I cracked one of these eggs open and two yolks spilled from it into the bowl.

Something about this midnight experience sharply illuminated, to me, just what eggs really are (chicken fetuses), and how strange (disgusting) it is that we eat them.

It's freaky how big these eggs are.  I'm officially freaked.

Fancy Shmancy


Posted on : 3:59 PM | By : Jennifer

Last week, the cutest, funniest, smartest, kindest, most competent, capable, responsible, active, adventurous, caring, sensitive, optimistic and loving husband and father in the world celebrated his 37th birthday.  He thinks he's old.  We think he's wonderful.

We wanted to do something special for him this year, so the kids dreamed up a "Real, Fancy Restaurant" (their words).  We hung Fancy Tablecloths over the entryways to the dining room, dimmed the lights, and lit Fancy Candles on a Fancy Table complete with a black tablecloth, fresh flowers, and Grandma's Special Super Fancy China, which hasn't been used since two Christmases ago.  (Yeah, it's that Fancy.)

This was no dummy establishment. Megan named the restaurant Derrick's Delights and typed up the following Fancy Menu (note the many fanciful adjectives):

  Drinks:  World's Finest Champagne (Martinelli's White Grape Juice, of course)
Appetizers:  Bistro Salad of mixed greens, capers, and onions
Entree:  Succulent Indian Curry, steamed jasmine rice, warm, crisp flatbread

Dessert: Decadant Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with rich vanilla bean ice cream.

It all went off perfectly.  Dad came home, waited in the Fancy Foyer (our living room with a few dining chairs set in it) and relaxed to Fancy Classical Music while mom changed from sweaty chef to glamorous date.  We sat and enjoyed our Fancy Fare while the gracious waiters showered us with flawless service.  The youngest waiter, however, got bored with serving and decided to sit down next to us and be served instead. (He's nobody's fool.)  We allowed this addition to our Fancy Romantic Dinner because, do you shoo away a four-year old with a mustache?

I had to use the flash to get these photos to come out, so you'll just have to imagine the sultry ambience, the darkened decadence, the sheer extravagance that was Derrick's Delights:

The Fancy Dessert:  a flourless chocolate cake that was supposed
to look like the one from Julie & Julia.  It almost did, until it sank
in the middle.  (Keep trying, Mom.)

Ethan was just told that he would be receiving his 
tips in fruit snacks.

My two favorite smooth-skinned fellas.
(Facial hair on men is so overrated.)

Derrick left (stayed home) one very satisfied customer.
Happy Birthday, Dad.
We think you are the fanciest of them all.

Festivus for the Restivus


Posted on : 11:50 PM | By : Jennifer

They got to me. Those rotten, stinking magazine covers finally got to me.

This December, as I pulled out old Enrichment Night crafts and homemade ornaments to deck my little hall, I found myself wanting to break out of my tacky standard of decor (i.e., this...)

and shoot for something more along the lines of, say, this...

I looked around my living room bathed in mismatched, garish red-and-green garb and realized that my holiday decor was approximately two decades out of style (which is quite an accomplishment, considering that I haven't even owned my own home half that long.) I found myself suddenly wanting Christmas to be about all the things it's not supposed to be about: money, nice things, slick appearances. I began yearning for a sleek, department-store styled silver and gold theme; understated yet elegant, dignified yet festive, untouched by sticky hands and preschool-produced glitterglue wall hangings "for Mom." I'd like to say that I tempered my materialistic desires through my own self-control and character, but the thing that really halted it was my pocketbook. Short of Oprah arriving on my doorstep, a Christmas Miracle Home Makeover was not happening this year.

So I decided to turn my holiday aspirations to something far more attainable: having fun. I'm happy to say that I met and exceeded this goal, and did it all without the help of Martha Stewart Living. A few highlights:
  • Wavy Lays potato chips dipped in chocolate fondue. What a happy accident. Two great tastes that coagulate-on-your-thighs-together.
  • Scoring positive feedback on the Slurpee giftcards I gave to my nieces and nephews. Who says money (and junk food) can't buy affection?
  • Setting a new world record on pounds of sugar and fat consumed in a single day by a woman my height and (now increased) weight. It shouldn't feel this good to plump up, but somehow it does.
  • Beating my sisters in trivial pursuit (Dad was my teammate--need I say more?)
  • Beating my sisters in cards (Mom was my teammate--dig into her past for more info on her cardsharkiness.)
  • Our first ever fake tree. Definitely not our last. Convenience trumps sentimentality yet again. And I can't even pretend to be sad about it.
  • Ice skating with the the ward, watching Alvin and the Chipmunks with the kids, cooking and baking with the women, a Christmas Eve program with the whole family, staying up late to watch Julie and Julia with my sister who I never get to see, post-Christmas shopping for eight hours while Grandpa-the-Saint watched all the kids, staying up too late, sleeping in too late, and waking up to brilliant new snow. It's amazing how much kinder each morning looks when it doesn't start until ten a.m. I spent the better part of a week:
  • Too lazy to exercise.
  • Too lazy to clean my house.
  • Too lazy to blog.
  • Too lazy to eat a vegetable.
  • In elasticized waistbands for the majority of the day and night (yes, Virginia, you can wear pajama bottoms to the grocery store...)
  • Soaking up my family
  • Soaking up the season
We are a lucky, lucky crew to have one another.  Here's some visual proof (and please forgive my spacing errors; my computer's buggy tonight.)

The thrill of opening (yet another) lightsaber.
And thanks for the cute jammies, Grandma Laura.

This interchangeable purse was a big hit for my Mom. Have any of
you seen these? They are supercool. (And doesn't my mom look cute?)

Is Christmas Day really this painful for men? Really, guys?

Cute fam! As you can see, Makenzie's my spunky middlechild kindred spirit
(remember what I told you,'s compliment when they say you're like me...)

Our gift from Grandma and Grandpa S. was to dogsit Abby for four weeks.
(Yeah, Merry Christmas to you, too.)

Grandpa's just the best. Especially at Christmastime.  He broke from tradition and started
his shopping a full 48 hours before Christmas Eve.  The stores didn't know what to do when
they saw Rod Christensen coming in so early. I'm sure some kind of door prize was involved.

And then there's Frank.  I feel a certain kinship with him this year.
Let Martha Stewart have her designer Christmas.

Long Live Festivus!