Katie Couric and Me: Dick Survives His First Colonoscopy, and So Will You!

Dick’s maternal grandfather died of colon cancer at the age of 43. He was diagnosed about 18 months before that, and left behind a wife and three children. When I realized that Dick would be turning 33 next month, and that we have three children I cannot raise alone, I started asking about colonoscopies.

My dad is usually my first stop for medical advice (okay, after the internet), and he said that, coincidentally, he was scheduling a colonoscopy for my mom because she just turned 50, which is the age screenings should begin for those with average risk.

If you have a grandparent, parent, sibling, or child with colon cancer, you’ll want to have your first colonoscopy (or other screening) done 10 years before they were diagnosed. Which for Dick meant yesterday.

As others will attest, the preparation for a colonsocopy is much worse than the actual exam. It involves 24-plus hours of a clear liquid diet and nasty-tasting bowel cleansing medicine. But I’m afraid I wasn’t very sympathetic. I have borne Dick three children, after all, and frankly, bodily dignity is not worth forgoing children or a long, healthy life.

For the actual exam, Dick was knocked completely out. Some people don’t actually fall asleep, but if you are at all sleep-deprived or situationally narcoleptic (like Dick), you’ll be out before they have the camera turned on. In the recovery room, Dick was incredibly cheerful and loopy. I mean, more so than usual.

Dick now owes me his life, because they found a polyp in his lower colon. Probably not cancerous, not yet, but they removed it and will do a biopsy. Fewer than 20% of forty-year olds have polyps, and the doctor and nurses all congratulated Dick on having such a loving wife.

While Dick was at the hospital, I cleaned furiously, because:

1. I felt guilty for being mad about something he’d said even after he apologized quite nicely.

2. The house was a serious wreck and no one should have to come home to dishes in the sink after getting their keister probed.

3. I had to take my mind off the fact that if the doctor accidentally perforated his colon and had to perform emergengy surgery and if Dick died from a freak scalpel accident, the last post of mine he ever read would be one where I neglected to mention that, though I would not die for him (unless our children were already dead), if something ever happened to him, I would not be happy to still be alive.

If you or someone you love is at risk for colon cancer (and everyone over 50 is), please schedule a screening or talk to your doctor today. (Liz! This means you! Hie thee to the colonoscopist!).

I promised a Back-to-School Edition of Things That Must Go today (I know, you probably didn’t even notice, or miss it, or care, but just pretend, okay?). And now I’m all posted out. Saturdays weren’t doing much for me anyway, so I think I’ll try posting Things That Must Go on Sunday nights. I have some great (bad) ones stored up, and I hope you do too!

Do you hate being a mother so much?

No, Dick. I hate being a stay-at-home mother SO MUCH. Sometimes. Right now. On bad days. In the morning. In the afternoon. Every time but nap-time. In an apartment. When the dishes need doing. When the kids are cranky. When I am unappreciated. When I feel guilty. When I want to write. When I want to read. When I want to go to the bathroom by my freakin’ self. When it is what defines me.

Dick goes in for a colonoscopy today. I think I’ve just gotten back at him for criticizing my “mothering” and “homemaking” and “cooking” skills this morning. Since he is on a sad, sad liquid diet in anticipation, and not feeling so well, he is “working” from home today, and wants to know why I am sitting at my computer laughing when the kids are Crying! Yelling for Pancakes! Bleeding from the Knees!

How much time do you have, Dick?

Crying! Yelling for Pancakes! Bleeding from the Knees! This is my life, and sometimes I want to shave my head, strip off all my clothes, and run screaming onto I-15. In rush hour. Which is conveniently scheduled for both the early morning I HATE WAKING UP hour and the 5 o’clock WHERE’S YOUR FATHER hour.

So I asked him — Do you hate being a father so much? Because I don’t see you getting out of your chair to dry the tears, make the pancakes, get the bandaids. Oh, I forgot. You are WORKING.

And I must get back to my life.

Battles (Not) Worth Fighting

One of the first things you learn as a parent is that some battles are worth fighting, and others simply aren’t. For a happy home and above-average children, follow these simple rules:

1) Determine which battles are worth fighting and which aren’t. It’s nice to give the Hubs some input here, always remembering who usually mops up the tears and blood.

2) Plot strategies for the battles worth fighting.

3) Resist all temptation to fight those battles not worth fighting.

Your lists may differ (I don’t see how), but here are our:

Battles (Not) Worth Fighting

1. School Attendance — Not Worth It. I know, you’re probably thinking that’s easy for me to say when my kids are so intelligent and well-socialized, but I’d let them skip school now and then even if they weren’t prodigies. Remember Mrs. Lynde’s sage advice:

That is I wouldn’t say school to her again until she said it herself. Depend upon it, Marilla, she’ll cool off in a week or so and be ready enough to go back of her own accord, that’s what, while, if you were to make her go back right off, dear knows what freak or tantrum she’d take next and make more trouble than ever. The less fuss made the better, in my opinion. She won’t miss much by not going to school, as far as that goes. (Anne of Green Gables)

2. Church Attendance — Worth the Fight. Normally I think it’s a good idea to have low expectations (saves on disappointment), but church attendance is one of those things that you should just expect, and keep on expecting. Church wasn’t optional when I was growing up, and if I still have to go now, you can bet your cute patoote my kids do too!

3. Homework — Not Worth It. I know, again with the advanced mental abilities making it easy to shrug off homework, but really. If Sally, age 7, goes to school for 6 hours everyday and then wants to play with her sisters or run around outside or read Danny Dunn and the Swamp Monster, I’m not going to make her sit and fill out some stupid worksheet on the pattern ABABAB. So there!

4. Naps — Worth the Fight. At some point (say 13 or 14 years of age), your kids will grow out of napping. This is a sad, sad day that deserves black balloons and dead roses. Until then, revel in the nap-time. After that, do whatever it takes (locks, threats, bribes) to protect “quiet” time.

5. Piercings — Not Worth It. I’m all for restraint in the puncturing of random appendages, but the one good thing about piercings is that they are so easy to remove! I got a second hole in my left ear when I was seventeen (oh the delicious rebellion!), never guessing that when I was thirty-one I would turn down a pair of earrings from my sister because I haven’t worn anything in either ear for about six years.

6. Tattoos — Worth the Fight. Have you seen all the advertising for tattoo removal? Maybe when my kids are twenty-seven they can make a decision like this for themselves, but no way are they doing it when they’re too young to realize that someday that’s going to hurt like a mother AND cost lots of money to remove.

7. Hair — Worth the Fight Not Worth It (ultimately). After watching home videos of toddler-Sally, Dick made me promise not to cut Spot’s hair in the same Monkees cut (Sally’s the pianist). I am in complete agreement, but Spot is always taking out her ponytails, so often she has hair in her eyes, which bothers me, but not as much as it bothers Grandma, who I will probably have to supervise all her visits with Spot to protect her from scissors. Oh well. Susan keeps cutting her own hair, and I shaved my head when I was nineteen. Almost did it again the other day, but have gained approximately fifty pounds since then, so would not look like Demi Moore in GI Jane now as I did back then.

8. Modesty — Worth the Fight. I was sometimes the least-modest person in the entire city of Cairo (except the tourists), and usually the most modest on the beach in Florida. I don’t want my girls to get a complex, and I don’t see myself ever forcing them to wear a bra. Hmmm, come to think of it, I can’t even see myself taking them shopping for a bra. Maybe Dick . . . no, that’s probably weird, although he did take me bra shopping that one time. Whether clothes match or not is a different story, and definitely Not Worth It (as is backwards panties. Do not point out things like this).

9. Language — Not Worth It. This one might seem a tad self-rationalizing, because I have a bit of a problem with my favorite words (beginning with “f” and “s” and “d”), but I really can’t get too worked up about what they say. We don’t take the name of the Lord in vain, but I think it’s best not to overreact to obvious ploys for attention like “Mommy poops in her diaper.” (If you can’t imagine the appeal of the f-word, read Paddy Clarke HaHaHa. Go ahead. I read it for an English class at BYU, so it won’t hurt you.)

10. Eating (What) — Worth the Fight. Eating (When) — Not Worth It. I saw a mother holding her child in the straight-jacket hold at a picnic last week. Lots of screaming ensued. It wasn’t pleasant. Look. Family dinner time is important. It’s important that we sit around and discuss our day, but don’t make your kid eat when she’s not hungry. As long as the food on offer later is the same nutritious stuff as was at the table, let them eat when and how they want. Please. And if it makes them happy (and keeps them quiet), LET THEM EAT CAKE!

11. TV Viewing — Not Worth It. When I say “TV” what I really mean is watching movies in the back of a moving minivan. This is something that should be encouraged at all stages of development. Mindless TV watching at home should probably be rationed, and while The Simpsons is fine for any age, The Family Guy is not.

12. Seatbelts, Swimming Lessons, and Shots — Worth the Fight. A few months ago I got off the freeway to spank Susan for taking off her seatbelt. She did it a couple more times that week. It was some rough boundary-testing week, and I’m pleased to say that she now starts to hyperventilate if somehow we start rolling with her seatbelt unfastened. I want to be safe! she wails. Thank you. My job is done.

13. Manners — Worth the Fight. When Sally was eighteen months old, she started curling her hand into her chest with her elbow out at a 90-degree angle whenever I prompted her to say “please.” I couldn’t tell if this was some strange sign language she’d picked up or what. Then I realized that when I prompted her to say please I was usually holding something in my hand that she wanted, and I was holding it back away from her, against my chest, until she said the magic word. It was sign language, all right. But not very pretty.

So. What do you think? What are your battles worth fighting and not?

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This is my first attempt at a Thursday Thirteen, and it’s also what Works-for-Me.

I am Seven going on Seventeen, I know that I’m naive

I’m glad Sally is quite independent and knows how to read well. Otherwise I’d be concerned that she has both second and third graders in her classroom, and that her main teacher wears a lapel mic that makes it hard for her to hear the student-teacher when they are divided into their separate curriculums, which is often, because they are, after all, in different grades. Remind me again why I can’t imagine homeschooling? Oh right, because stultifying public school is better than a dead mommy. Right.

Sally said second grade was much harder than she expected because there was a lot of handwriting (not her strong point. Wonder where she gets that?). This morning (her second day), she said that she doesn’t like school because it doesn’t give her enough time to play with Susan and Spot. She just comes home and then Daddy comes home 15 minutes later, and then it’s bedtime. Except it’s 10:34 right now, and I hear her and Susan in their room whispering to each other.

Wordless Wednesday — I know, wasn’t wordless at all, but  . . . well. Hmmm.

Eat, Drink, Vampire, Bella: a Review of The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

The perfect romance novel of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. It was great when I was an innocent twelve, and it’s fantastic now that I’m the 31 year-old mother of three girls, who I would love to have read every single word of Montgomery’s. In fact, if they wanted to read her books and short stories all day long, I’d never make them go to school. I would never ask someone reading Anne of Green Gables to come set the table (see how glad you are that you decided to read the archives of Mom’s blog, 12 year-old Sally?).

If I ever wrote a book and someone (who knew where I got my first and third daughters’ names) said it reminded them of an L.M.Montgomery book, I would lock myself in the bathroom and cry happy tears for three days straight. And then come out and read the Emily of New Moon trilogy again.

So that’s my literary standard. I’ve also read just about every other kind of romance there is, from the classic to the near-pornographic. I’m a Mormon (didn’t say a good one), a woman, a BA-in-English reader, a mom, a wife, a sometime-aspiring writer, and I have to tell you what I think about Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, because either you’ve never heard of them and could care less, or you have heard and could care less or you’ve read them all and (love or hate them) have talked/blogged/read enough of other people’s reviews to care less about yet another review.

Still, I have to say that I am conflicted by the Twilight Saga — indeed, one could say, if one were inclined toward impassioned prose, that I want to both love them forever and to sink my teeth into them and drain all the blood from their weak, helpless bodies.

First I’ll admit that I’m jealous of Stephenie Meyer’s success. I’m jealous of her book tours and her new house, and that she never has to cook anymore, and I’m pretty sure she’s hired a cleaner and child-minder. But even more, I’m jealous of her inspiration and focus. That she dreamed a plot and then that she sat down and actually wrote the whole ding-dang thing. So that’s some of the conflict, but mostly it’s that the English major/fangirl/Mormon/Mom/latent feminist in me see the books very differently.


As a BA-in-English Reader

Holy get-an-editor, Batman. The first 75+ pages of Breaking Dawn should have been a 5-page epilogue to book three. If I’d picked up the last book in the series without having read the first three or being invested in the characters, I would have been able to put it down and never look back. I get that extreme popularity is an overwhelming validation of good-enoughness, but, these books are lazy. Lazy writing, lazy editing, lazy including-of-every-stray-thought lazy.

One plot point in particular — They’re terrified for Bella to see her own daughter, yet have no fear that the vampire witnesses will be tempted to drink Renesmee’s blood after they smell her half-humanness and listen to her heartbeat. These are vampires WHO KILL HUMANS on purpose. Wuh? Maybe if an editor had read the book this could’ve been discussed? Lazy.

As a Fangirl

I couldn’t put any of the books down. I love that all the ends tied up neatly, that Jacob imprinted on she-with-the-worst-name ever, that Bella got to finally become a vampire, that the vampires and werewolves (shapeshifters — whatever) are all friends. Things turning out well and happily-ever-afters divide enjoyable fiction from serious fiction, and thank goodness for that.

As a Mormon Mother

After Breaking Dawn, I agreed with Tara that how Stephenie Meyer handled the sex/intimacy in the book was fantastic. Meyer portrayed desire without any body parts heaving or throbbing. She also expressed the uncertainty (after months of anticipation) that surprised me on my own wedding night:

I was freaking out because I had no idea how to do this, and I was afraid to walk out of this room and face the unknown. . . .

How did people do this – swallow all their fears and trust someone else so implicitly with every imperfection and fear they had – with less than the absolute commitment Edward had given me? If it weren’t Edward out there, if I didn’t know in every cell of my body that he loved me as much as I loved him—unconditionally and irrevocably and, to be honest, irrationally, I’d never be able to get up off this floor. (p 83)

When Dick tried to get to second-base after our wedding ceremony and before our reception that night, I felt so weird. If you’ve spent 21 years believeing that all sexual intimacy should be reserved for marriage, suddenly being able to express all the desire that has been raging in your body is heady, frightening, exhilirating, nauseating.

And if you’re as lucky as I was, your 23-year-old husband is even more clueless about how the whole process will even work. Ten years later, the fact that, through faith and goodness on his part and, really, blind luck and strange circumstances on my part, the first time we ever experienced connubial bliss was with each other is really one of the biggest wonderful things in my entire life.

Does that sound naive and silly? I want that for my daughters — their own purity and their husbands’. I have good friends, friends I love like sisters who, through different beliefs, different experiences, or just different lives, had slightly different wedding nights. And most of them have wonderful marriages to incredible men. (And on the other side, my sweet sister who never even kissed a boy before her husband is going through a sad divorce. Obviously, virginity guarantees nothing, and experience doesn’t dictate disaster.) But this is still what I pray for for my daughters.

That doesn’t mean I think Edward is the archetypal husbandly-ideal, despite his refusal to sleep with Bella outside of marriage. I like that Mormons revere chastity. But it is incredible to me that fornication is so bad in Mormon terms that the fact that Edward has murdered people is a mere footnote next to the big headlines about his never having been impure. Sure, he now only hunts wild animals, we believe in repentance, yadda yadda, but last time I checked, you could repent for fornication, as well.

So for a woman who has read stuff she really ought not to have read, Breaking Dawn handles newly-married physical intimacy with exquisite appropriateness. But would I want my daughter reading it? This is important not only because I am liberal in the reading department, but because these books are intended for the tween-and-up crowd. If I’m praying daily (or should be) that my daughters will go to their wedding nights MUCH more unaware than I was, I’ll have to seriously consider that.

Other Mormon-ish ideas include the belief in a never-dying soul, the ideal of eternal love, the importance of forming families. My cousin even pointed out that the Cullen vampire coven/family could be similar to the Mormon pioneers in that they’re driven from place to place and misunderstood, but once you get to know them, they’re not so bad.

As a Latent (I hate wearing a bra, but I haven’t burned it yet) Feminist

Bella’s passivity irks. Oh, how it irks. Her existence having absolutely no meaning outside of Edward bites the big tuna. Because Edward is not even that exciting. He’s obsessed with expensive cars, he probably wears cashmere sweaters, and you can’t even warm your feet on his legs at night. What’s to like? And Jacob — what a whiny werewolf. Seriously have not ever read of such a melancholy, effeminate “hero” since Romeo. He’s almost worse than Bella in the “my life is ooooo-ver if I can’t have yoooooouuu” department. At least he’s warm.

But — the baby as parasite! The pregnancy and motherhood as point of entry to actual adulthood (and in Bella’s case person-hood). Oh, how it sings to me. If you’ve breastfed and never once thought of how that darling suckling has quite a bit in common with a vampire, you are less imaginative than I. I love how the baby almost kills her, and yet she is willing to die for it. Die for want of Edward = Let me vomit. Die for baby-love = I actually understand this.

And when Bella becomes a vampire, she almost seems to have her own will. She realizes she is not the center of the universe and that everything is not actually her fault. Of course, this is because all blame for everything since World War II now shifts to her child, but like every good mother she lies to Renesmee and shifts blame back to the bad vampires. Where it probably belonged in the first place.

We should all be so lucky

The best criticism I’ve read of the Twilight Saga was a comment on Mormon Mommy Wars after the third book came out. Someone said that she hated the books — all three of them. If I could be assured of that kind of negative reaction, along with sentiments like this comment I once got: “You obviously suck at reviewing a good book, can’t wait till yours is out so we can smear it,” I’d probably start writing tomorrow. Especially if there were any chance I could stop cooking and start book-touring when I was finished.

Twilight Review Links (if you just can’t get enough) (if you have or know of another review and would like to be on this list, comment or email me, and I’ll add you).

First, if you hated Ruh-nez-mee as much as I did (esp. with the cute Carlie as an alternative!), try Mormonizing your name. The phenomenon of making up your own name is not unique to Mormons, of course: look at celebrities and people who live in Harlem. But somehow I feel like we should know better, or just use some good, old Biblical names, like Keturah.

Gail Collins at the New York Times called Bella A Virgin Goth Girl, and worries that Edward is to the average male as a female porn star is to the average female.

In the same vein, Mormon Mentality discusses whether the objectification of Edward/men is seriously unhealthy. (hat tip to Conscious Intention for those two links, via Feminist Mormon Housewives which is discussing Twilight/Mormonism right now.

Normal Mormon Husbands has done quite a few Twilight posts. Here’s The Twilight Series for Dummies (And Totally Desperate Mormon Guys), and here’s Breaking Dawn: The Spoof. Sometimes I tell myself that I could be funny and interesting if only I had more time. And then I realize I’d also need talent.

Sue at Navel Gazing at its Finest is hilarious, and here’s Why I think Twilight Sucks and Other Important Thoughts. Yeah, talent would probably help in the funny and interesting department (Sue’s pretty busy, I imagine!).

Here’s Laura William’s Twilight Thus Far. I think she nails why Bella’s character is a bit unsatisfying.

Mormon Mommy War‘s the Wiz reviews Breaking Dawn.

Entertainment Weekly‘s 10 part interview with Stephenie Meyer, in which she says she wrote the books for herself and her adult sister (but still I think, as a Mormon, mother, writer, something, she can’t just shrug off the fact that her publishing company markets them to 12 year olds). (hat tip Mom of 3 Crazy Kids).

And can I just make one request: It would make my life so much more complete if Seriously So Blessed would do a review of Twilight. Seriously am on the edge of my seat to see what she (they? it?) would say!

For thirty-one years I’ve apologized for you. If that’s not love, what is?

Last week I went with my sister to look at a house my parents were encouraging her to buy as her divorce approaches. My sister wasn’t very excited about the ‘cow place’ (it backs onto a pasture), and I had to agree with her. On Monday my mom took a plate of “Sorry!” cookies to the little old lady who lives at the cow place. Apparently the little old lady agreed with my mom (who heard from my sister) that I was “bombastic” when we were looking at the house.

Am I bombastic? (and does anybody know what that means? It’s not actually a synonym for obnoxious).

Look, all I said was that the floorplan was a little crappy, which it was, and that it’s kind of silly that they didn’t put in a master bathroom. Instead, a miniature pocket door connects the master bedroom to a miniature hall bathroom. That’s silly, right? And a major problem if you ever want to resell the cow place.

Since sellers are always completely candid.

When we were looking at the house, the little old lady told my sister that she really loves the floorplan (and the miniature bathroom), which would be nice, except the little old lady wouldn’t be trying to offload this crappy cow place house to move into her dream home in the next town over if she really “loved” this one. Am I right?

Of course I’m right.

Being right is such a burden when everyone around you wants you to go around whispering what you are right about, if they even want the benefit of all of your rightness. Which sometimes it turns out they do, because my sister decided to buy a different house that has an actual master bathroom. And no cows next door.

Mostly it’s enough to be right.

But sometimes I wonder if my parents think I’m kind of, well, annoying. I wonder if they ever looked at me and thought — this child is perfect. Did they ever want to stop all the clocks and announce to everyone that here is perfection. Here is more than we ever imagined coming from us?

But sometimes I feel a bit picked on.

I always knew that they would prefer me to be a little more quiet, a little more humble, a little less out-spoken, a little less critical, a little more nice.

Even though I’m a parent myself now.

I’m afraid Sally will remember that I told her ten times a day to stop screaming that high-pitched squeal in excitement whenever Daddy came home or Mommy gave you your book back or your sister walked by and looked at you. And Susan will remember that I put her in time-out for not helping to pick up the board games she dumped out all over the living room. And Spot will remember that I slapped her hand for pounding on the keyboard when Mommy was at the computer.

Will they wonder if I found them annoying?

Yesterday I saw Spot playing with Grandma’s dog, and as I looked at her round face and listened to her telling me repeatedly that Lindy was “a doggy,” I felt this warmth and pressure that wasn’t something I ate but felt like a thousand soft explosions of relief and hope and adoration. She is absolutely perfect.

Here is perfection.

Even though I had to change four of Spot’s toxic tar-poop diapers in one day and had to threaten Susan with Barbie-dismemberment if she wouldn’t throw her cantaloupe rinds in the trash right this minute, and even if Sally thinks it’s hilarious to say, “Mommy pooped in her diaper” in front of people I want to have think we’re normal.

Even though someday they’ll like boys.

Sometimes I sit and stare at Sally and Susan and Spot. Or I hold them on my lap and run my fingers over their baby-soft cheeks and tickle their smooth-squishy bellies and I feel this upswelling of wonder and almost panic. What will they remember? I want them to know: maybe you ARE annoying and like to ignore me and maybe I have to apologize for your loudness and stinkiness, but you are mine, and you are perfect.

Unscheduled Blogging Break: the Good, the Bad, and the Still Dirty House

I haven’t posted in nine days, which in blogging terms is closer to seventy-four years. Didn’t plan it, didn’t resurrect posts from my archive (most of which make internet bulimia look good). I don’t really know what happened, beyond your common-or-Dr. Seuss-variety slump.

A few years ago, Angela from New York sent us the children’s book Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear by N. M. Bodecker and Eric Blegvad. It’s a poem about a woman in New England who has chores galore before winter comes. “Stack the stove wood, string the beans, up the storms and down the screens.” Round and round and in and out she whirls, while Hubs lolls in bed and then waits for his tea in his rocking chair.

Dick isn’t that bad, we live in an apartment, and if ignoring your children were an Olympic sport I’d be the Shawn Johnson of mothering. (Finally a gold in something!). So other than the adequately-helpful husband, easy access to mass-manufactured canned goods, and kids happy to watch movie after movie, my life is exactly the same as the under-appreciated, over-worked Mary Dear.

That’s my excuse for not blogging, anyway. Of course, probably you managed to find other means of entertainment in my absence (Just kidding! — of course you sat and moped while I slumped and Michael Phelps won yet another gold medal. I mean, after awhile, doesn’t all that winning and breaking world records and million dollar bonuses from Visa get just a bit . . . old?).

Have you noticed how many sports have four events or four strokes, or how much better baseball would be if there were only four innings? So I tried to think up four categories for my blogging break, but there’s a reason I’m not an Olympic athlete, despite doing my best to eat as close to 12,000 calories a day as possible. So I fell back on pros and cons:

Seven Pros and Cons of the Blogging Break

(1) Pro: Fun Outings with the kids (pools, dinosaur museums, parks)

Con: Since Susan (turning 4 in October) will not start kindergarten for 734 days, there are more pools, dinosaur museums, parks and McDonald play places in my immediate future than June Cleaver ever imagined.

(2) Pro: All this swimming = best tan of my life.

Con: All this no-routine-in-general, not-going-to-the gym-in-specific = flabbiest stomach since Spot vacated the premises.

(3) Pro: Gorgeous Utah weather — it’s getting chilly after dark now, and we’ve been stopping at parks on our way home.

Con: That’s on our way home from seeing every single (cheap) house, townhome, and condo in a thirty-mile radius. Apparently we are poor, picky, poor, and soon-to-be homeless.

(4) Pro: Quality reading time.

Con: Spending the better part of two days reading Breaking Dawn = “quality” might be a stretch. (That’s nothing time-wasting-wise though — I read Scarlett, arguably the worst book ever, in 18 hours straight).

(5) Pro: More time for “real life.”

Con: The house is still a mess anyway. “Real life” should not include “clean house.”

(6) Pro: Time with good friends from high school and my sister.

Con: Real-life problems like complicated pregnancies and lousy husbands are much harder to cope with that quirky servers and mean Stumblers and feelings of raging blogging-inadequacy.

(7) Pro: If you don’t post, turning on the computer is much less “what-if-no-one-commented-on-my-last-post” angst-ridden.

Con: If you don’t post, getting fewer comments is almost for sure. (Although I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the emails, tweets, and IRL comments; my acknowledgments page is all ready in case I ever write anything real).

If you wrote a great post while I’ve been gone, let me know. I hate it when people say that. Duh, all my posts are great, and if you weren’t such a loser, you’d know that and whenever you come back from a break you’d be camped out at my blog catching up. Right? Well, let me know if I missed your epic/ramble/etc. I’ll stumble it for you! Seriously. Unless you’d rather I didn’t, in which case tell me why, ’cause I’m planning a post on Adventures in Stumbling.

We’re going to my dad’s family’s reunion tonight; back late Thursday. Had to promise Dick I’d do all the laundry this week in exchange for him getting to go on the funnest camping trip ever with the coolest people ever. ! So if you send me a post url after 3 pm today, I’ll stumble it early Friday. I’d really like to read your post, stumble it, and then get some feedback from you as to what sort of response/traffic you get from the experience. Like a focus group, only better.

Because Tiananmen Square isn’t the best place to protest


The Olympics are always a time to bask in the collective glow of human aspiration and achievement (or wallow in the self-pity of lazy, unfocused giver-up-ish-ness). You can get teary-eyed about the Chinese gymnast who broke his ankle, performed terribly four years ago, and then worked the parallel bars for a 10 (or close enough, now that it’s all confusing).

And you can wonder why some people keep going against all odds (Dara Torres), or seemingly against no odds (Michael Phelps), when I can hardly get myself to the gym four times a week.

But Dick and I have noticed a few new things this time around. Last night as we watched ‘the American’ win his first gold medal (of these Games), Dick remembered the first time he realized that America is not in every game/match/heat at every sporting event. He said as a kid he thought America was really, really dominant, and I argued that, as far as medal counts go, “we” are definitely contenders. But Dick’s point was that, once we were in a foreign country during the Olympics or Tour de France or something, and the commentators and cameras were all trained on some foreign-sounding athletes. Huh? Who ARE these guys?

So this morning I was watching the America – China mens basketball game, and two things struck me as really unfair. Someone should write a letter. First, the Chinese men’s jerseys say “China” on them, at the Beijing Olympics. I’m not an international affairs student, but I think I heard somewhere that they speak a language other than English in China. Like, one with characters or something? And I’m guessing that they have some characters for their country’s name that don’t look like C-H-I-N-A. 

Also, the NBC commentators were very impressed by China’s good start here at the Games. Because their basketball team only lost to the Americans by 31 points. I don’t know. Somehow saying that it was a really good game for you because you only lost by 31 points sounds just a bit, um, patronizing. But seriously, I want to know why Yao Ming is playing on the Chinese team. Isn’t he an American? I swear I saw him on TV last year.

Things That Must Go is an iTunes giveaway this week. Deadline midnight Wednesday. Go enter!

TTMG: iTunes giveaway and a novel winner

So, I was right: people want underwear more than books. Though some mothers don’t have time to read, not one person said they didn’t need new underwear because their kids keep them too busy to shower.

I’m not sure what this means besides grooming being a bigger priority than reading, but I do think John Edwards could’ve learned something from y’all: if he’d only concentrated on wearing underwear at all times instead of reading one too many steamy Harlequin American Political Romances, he might still be on Obama’s VP list.

This week I’m offering a $10 iTunes giftcard to the winner of Things That Must Go. I know ten bucks isn’t much, but I’ve already blown this week’s ad revenue on a Happy Meal for the kids. Plus, iTunes is cool, right? I only ask that you download Lenka’s The Show with part of your winnings. Just kidding. Leaving a comment with your Things That Must Go is the only thing you have to do. Well, really you only have to pay taxes and die. Or go to jail and die, or get signed up as a Conscientious Tax Objector and die. Leaving a comment is sounding better and better, huh?

But first, here’s the winner of the Nora Roberts/Joan Wickersham book giveaway (email me your address and which book you’d like!):

Scarehaircare: Skimpy bikinis. If you are stupid enough to wear them, I am not going to stop my daughter when she points and says loudly “Mom, look at that!” because she sees your bum before you can pull your bikini bottom back up after coming down the water slide. (The same thing goes for jeans that are too low to sit in properly.) I am all for allowing the children to say what we cannot, in all politeness, say.

And two Honorable Mentions, which were in no way influenced by nepotism:

Grampa: One other thing that has to go are popsicle bags that can’t be opened without a lethal weapon (knife, scissors). No clever use of fingernails, teeth, or brute stength can open them. They don’t even leak when the popsickle melts; the sticks float, and the “soup” tastes like Kool-Aid. Such bags have spread to candy bars, cookies, and crackers. Away with such unopenable bags. Yes.

Tom Johnson: -Dryers that sounds like German army tanks.
-Feelings of inadequacy for not keeping your kids 100% reverent during church.
-Leaving your real glasses in the car and instead wearing sunglasses all day and evening in the house, looking like a retard. :) Do I make fun of how you look in your clip-on sunglasses? 🙂
-People who think hacking someone’s site and bringing it down is funny.
-Loud, angry voices in any context — at home, church, in the car. (Well, if you’re driving alone it’s okay.)
-Floam. Sounds like a cool idea, until it’s time to clean it up.

And here are my Things That Must Go for this week:

1. To the Nice Man at the Gym: I know it seems strange that I’ve ventured into your territory of pulleys and benchpresses; I don’t like it any more than you do. But I hope we can learn to share this maze of equipment, which is why I’m asking you to please stop grunting. Please stop grunting. Please. I realize you’re lifting five thousand pounds and sweating and bursting at your muscle seams, but I cannot count to fifteen when you are grunting, grunting, grunting. What’s that? You didn’t catch that? You can’t hear anything, much less your own grunting, because you are listening to Coldplay on your iPod? Well, at least you have good taste in music. Just. Please stop grunting.

2. Fax machines. The Chinese gave us gunpowder and fireworks and smoggy Olympics. I’m sure we could pin the fax machine on them too. Seriously. Why can’t we just email and scan and email some more? Is it just me or are fax machines about as modern as a horse and buggy?

Now it’s your turn: what’s buggin’ this week? iTunes giveaway deadline is midnight Saturday.