A blog named BETTY

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gasoline will be fre-e-e-e

That lame cell-phone pic is to prove to you that Hubby and I went to an outdoor Sheryl Crow concert this week. She had James Blunt with her, which was way cool. When I say she had him 'with' her, I mean he came out and did his bit before she came out. . . not that she had him tucked under her arm or anything while she sang. Just clarifying.

I loved the whole thing--the outdoors, the music, the drunk female posse next to us. Hubby enjoyed the James Blunt part, but was fighting his urge to run by the end of Sheryl. Let's just say that Sheryl and Hubby's political views are not compatible, and Sheryl's not one to hide hers under a bushel (or whatever). Luckily, he didn't know the words to the songs she did about how the president is lying to us (although I think he could sense it), so he was semi-okay. UNTIL she sang her gasoline song, which she started with a big singing speech (something only SHE can get away with--do not try this in church) about how much EXXON is profiting from gas prices, etc, etc. So I'm trying to enjoy the song about gasoline (how often do you get to say that?) and he's muttering in my ear "Well, how much is SHE profiting from this concert? I don't like the prices of her tickets, etc, etc." I kept telling him to just enjoy the music--he didn't have to sign a contract professing loyalty to her views or anything. Sheesh!

I thought he was gonna pass out when the audience starting begging for an encore.

But let us give credit here to Hubby for buying these tickets as a surprise for me and agreeing to accompany me. I told him that I would repay him when I accompany him to his mission reunion next month...again. Yawn.

And we must also give credit to Hubby for getting great seats right along the middle aisle, parallel to the stage. Not only did that give us plenty of leg room, but it afforded me a life-changing moment. DRUM ROLL.....James Blunt and I shared a moment that will last for all time. Yup, he high-fived me. Full hand contact. During one song, he jumped into the crowd, ran up the side isle and then ran down our aisle. Oh sure, he high-fived other people along the way, but I think we all know that he was just trying to get to me. Unfortunately, he got a little confused (probably intimidated by Hubby) and kissed the next woman past me. He's British, he makes mistakes. I can live with that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What My Heaven Looks Like

I just downloaded our photos from our vacation in Lake Powell. And I'm a little sad. Why you ask? BECAUSE I'M NOT THERE anymore. Wow, did I love that trip. Okay, not the insanely complicated routine of handling a HOUSE that MOVES on the water (really, do we need that many buttons on the control panel people?), or the miles of vomit the lake water produced from my girls (apparently they missed the "swim with your mouth closed" part of the initiation), or cooking in a kitchen made for Malibu Barbie (it would seem that besides being quite small, she doesn't believe in garbage disposals either. But then, Ken is probably taking her out to the Surf n Turf everynight, so she doesn't have to cook).

So, other than the above and a few annoying bugs, I was so in my element. It feels strange to even say that, cuz I'm not really one of those outdoor adventure Birkenstock-wearing free spirits. My skin is 5 shades of pure white and screams at the sun, I am deathly afraid of drowning, and I can't sleep anywhere but my own bed. The Sierra Club isn't exactly knocking my door down. HOWEVER, my favorite and most Zen-inducing elements are 1) the beach 2) sitting on a fast boat, 3) a beautiful, natural view and the time to breathe it in, and 4) seeing my kids totally blissful hanging out together. This vacation had all 4 of those things in abundance and many, many more.

The kicker? I may never get to do it again, cuz Hubby's Zen list does not include a single one of those things, and he has no desire to ever go back. Sigh. And this time when I say sigh, I mean SIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH.

So let's enjoy those photos! They may be the only ones we ever get!

Here's the house boat we rented, nestled into a pretty little cove by Bullfrog. We pretty much stayed here the whole time. Why mess with perfection? (and the 4 anchors were really a pain to move!)

Here's all the gang on the day we rented a ski boat. Hubby insisted that they all wear these life jackets, about which the teenagers were really thrilled, as you can see. (He did let the teens all take theirs off after awhile on the boat.) BTW, the 2 extra people in the photo are the friends Shnookies 1&2 got to take with them. Somehow they put up with up for 4 days.

Here's how Schnookie3 felt about the boat:

And that's her forcing a smile for the camera. Granted, she'd been vomiting for 24 hours at this point, but I think it's still safe to say that she isn't a boat person. She only endured a half hour of this parental torture. Then the boat broke down (coincidence? hmmm) and she got to deboard for the rest of the day. Fortunately, they brought us a new boat, and Mama was happy!

Here's me during what well may be the best day of my life (other than marriage and births, of course). First of all, I, Erin Marie Black, water-skiied. Yes, thats me skiing on WATER. I was so determined to get up and stay up, which I've never done, and I DID IT!!! I've never felt so alive. Take THAT, cancer! (If I weren't gripping for my life, maybe I would've made an appropriate gesture to that arch enemy.)

Granted, I only stayed up for maybe 45 seconds, but--sadly--that's a record for me.

After skiing and tubing behind the boat, I swam with my girls (we washed our hair with shampoo right there in the lake), I went down the boat's steep water slide a few times (they didn't believe I would. HA!), we ate the most delicious grilled hamburgers ever, and then I reclined on the top deck (I like to call it the Lido Deck. All of my Love Boat knowledge came in very handy.) with a great book. That goes a little something like this:

And while I was doing that, here's what I got to gaze upon:

Hubby and girls engrossed in puzzles right there on the deck as the sun set. And here's what the teenagers were doing downstairs:

Watching movies (while texting, of course). In other words, NO ONE NEEDED ME for a whole hour, and I was soooo at peace. Good sigh.

Besides watching movies, (which they did every night until I made them go to their separate areas to sleep), here's another favorite thing on the teen scene:

They played A LOT of water polo. AND they (mostly the boys) spent a lot of time trying to come up with the most ridiculous poses for pictures. Speaking of which, here's the super-spontaneous shot of S1 and J that they planned for the entire trip. Them jumping off the top of the houseboat together. (It only made them want to do it more when the boat guys said it was against the law.)

Here's the little girls doing their number 1 favorite thing at Lake Powell--swimming by the shore:

See what I mean? Behold the open mouth, just waiting for a big dose of giardia-infested water. This pic also proves that sisterly love never takes a vacation.

And here's S4, doing her 2nd most favorite thing at Lake Powell, playing in the sand:

Isn't that sand gorgeous?!! And Ay Carumba!, did it feel good between the toes. If this yearning for my little slice of heaven doesn't go away soon, you'll be able to reach me at the second houseboat on the right. Or should I say STARBOARD....?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Aaah, the young and the old

It's been awhile since I've done a Dixie post, and I know the public is dying to hear what she's up to. (In case you don't know, Dixie is my 89-year-old mother-in-law.) She did not end up getting married to her 82-year-old boyfriend, Ike. He broke it off 3 hours before the wedding. Of course, she has no memory of any of that, so they're still together. And he proposes every couple of weeks and breaks up with her every week. They get back together the next day. Ya know, people talk about 'forgive and forget,' but I'm starting to think that just plain old 'FORGET' is even more effective. She's the perfect woman for him.

We went to visit Dixie at her place last night, and there was Ike, fresh from making up from Saturday's break-up. After Dixie introduced all of us to Ike (we've "met" him 50 times at this point), he decided he should go back to his place. So they do a big smooch, right there in the middle of all of us. A few of the kids immediately went pale.

Later, Hubby was teasing her a little about Ike, and she blurts out "You know what he wants me to do? He wants me to SLEEP with him!!" Everyone's eyes pop out of their heads.
Hubby: "Mom, there are kids in the room!"
Grandma Dixie: "Okay, let's take a vote and see if they think I should." She then turns to my 10 YEAR OLD and says "What do you think?"
Shnookie3 is 10 shades of red right about then.
Luckily, we managed to distract grandma quickly.

My kids love Grandma Dixie a lot, and some of our best memories take place with her. She adores all of them, but she particularly takes a shine to our oldest. She's do anything for him and loves to engage him in conversation. We all get a kick out of this, because A) he's so NOT a conversationalist, and B) he's such a child of the 21st century that they hardly even speak the same language. For instance, she asked him what he got for Christmas a while back, to which he responded "A new IPOD." Of course, she had no clue what that was, so in way of explanation, he tells her "It's a kind of MP3 player." He was a bit frustrated when she still looked at him blankly. Hubby and I were ROFL.

On our way out last night, Dixie (who always thinks we live 2 states away instead of down the street) said to Shnookie1, "Hey, drop me a line sometime!" To which he replied, "Oooo-kay. What does that mean?"

Friday, August 15, 2008

I really am something, aren't I?

I'm not sure that much thrills me more than a great deal, especially if I get to be extra tricky. That said, I am thrilled to the bone right now. And you get to hear why!!

We re-did Shnookie2's room over a year ago in bright colors with a very, VERY subtle beachy theme (she's adamant on this point because her friend across the street has a beach-themed bedroom). Ever since then, we have been searching for a perfect overhead light fixture. Finally, she found a style she loved: a capiz shell tiered chandelier. Cost? around $650. Gulp.

So I have been rolling that around in my head for six months, desperately hoping that IKEA would come out with one for $19.95. (WHY don't they consult me on their design decisions???) Then I saw the capiz part (no lighting capability) at a discount store for $40. Then I spent another month trying to figure out how to make that work, searching for wiring kits, etc. THEN one day I went to Home Depot and came across this single hanging pendant light with a blue glass shade on it. Cost? $14.99 on clearance. Naturally, they were out of stock...in the whole state of Utah. Not to be squelched in my quest (my DIY adrenaline was really pumping at this point), I asked the orange apron helper-man if I could just buy the display one. He agreed, arranged it with the cashier, and off I went, smiling ear to ear. THEN I noticed that they had only charged me $.01 for it (that's one penny, folks). When I went back to the cashier, she said that was no mistake. Wahoo! I think I scared her a little with my glee.

I went home (could I MAKE this any longer??), took off the blue shade, spray painted the white plastic parts with silver, and plopped that capiz shade on there. (It was a little harder than that--each strand of shells was individually wrapped in plastic and yards of tape.) Hubby wired it up for me, and V-I-O-L-A, a masterpiece for $40.01:

The great thing is that I have to pass her room every time I go to my room, so I get to admire my genius over and over and over...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Swiss Family Black

Our annual ward campout was last weekend. This is an event that is spoken of with great reverence in our house, because it is the culmination of all that is good and right in the world. The little shnookies ADORE the ward campout. If it came down to a choice between a day at Disneyland with David Archilleta all to themselves and going to the campout, they would choose the campout. (But first they'd try to get David to come camping with them, because surely he would rather sleep on rocks than be at Disneyland. Who wouldn't, for crying out loud?!!)

This is the 3rd year in a row that we've attended. It's been at the same place each time, and it truly is quite the ideallic situation. Gorgeous location, all the food provided and cooked for you, and all our neighbors there to talk with/play with. Barring a campout at the local Marriott, what could be better? We can never get there early enough for the girls, and they're disgusted with us every time it's time to go home, even though we're the last to leave every year.

One would think that with all of this wildlife fever, we'd be avid campers. Well ... one would be wrong. First of all, Hubby grew up in L.A., and he's gotten way too used to room service in all his travels. I, on the other hand, practically grew up in a tent, waiting for my mom to finish frying the pancakes over the open fire. I get a little jumpy when I insert myself as the mom into that picture. (Yes, I know...it doesn't have to be that way... we could hit MacDonalds on the way in. I never claimed to be RATIONAL, people!) And now while the girls believe that there is no camping outside of ward campouts, why ruin that?? One little excursion on our own, and they'd be hounding us nonstop!

I was actually hoping to invest in a new tent this year, secretly thinking that it would PUSH us out into the wild more often. Somehow, somewhere, I think Hubby picked up on my secret agenda (I guess he's been paying attention a little during our 12 years of marriage after all. Hmm.), so the second he discovers that R.E.I. will RENT tents, he's all over it. Humph!

So we were the ones at the campout in a rented tent. FINE. I was secretly hoping it would be disgusting and defective, but it actually worked quite nicely, even in the rain. I woke up dry and warm. Dangit!

BTW, I'm still buying a tent. But now it'll be a 15-man tent with running water and servant's quarters.

This year was especially special in its specialness because it was Shnookie2's first year being able to attend (which is why our current 4-man tent wouldn't fit us and we needed a NEW one). Typically, this campout is held in July, which is when the older shnookies are in California. We were beside ourselves when they announced it would be in August because that meant we could ALL go! Naturally, Shnookie1 had to work that night (he swears it's a coincidence, yeah right), so he was missing. And Shnookie2 ended up sleeping with a friend in their own tent. SO, things looked pretty familiar in the end.

Although Shnookie3 ended up just a titch bored this year (her friends are getting past the running wild stage), Shnookie4 was practically manic still in her enthusiasm. In the midst of a very animated discussion about nature, she told hubby, "I think camping is my hobby. I just love it so much." Gotta love those all-consuming once-a-year hobbies. Here's one of the chipmunks she fell in love with, eating a left-over piece of pineapple:

Before we left, I had to get a picture of someone performing a requisite Tom Williams outdoor ritual. He never could resist the opportunity to stand on a stump or rock and do a Tarzan call while beating his chest. Can you believe that my kids wouldn't do that for me in front of their friends?! So, here's me, in all my morning-after glory, paying homage to my father: (It took 5 tries cuz the photographer couldn't get her act together through her totally uncalled-for laughter.)

I have to say, it's not just the little girls that love the ward campout--I look forward to it every year too. Two years ago, when I was barely recovering from chemo, we took the leap to attend, and it was like a rebirth for us. There are no words for what it meant to me to be able to do that for our family. Seeing the kids run, bonding with our neighbors, breathing the fresh air, sleeping under the stars...it's all so perfect. So, basically, it could rain and flood and hail poisonous snakes and we'd still be there, just to celebrate and commemorate the fact that we are whole again, and we CAN!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It took a village and 2 mothers

I spent a lovely day yesterday with my mother, working on my father's life history. I'm not a huge "geneology fan" (actually not true--I'm a fan when OTHER people do mine for me), but I am a huge Tom Williams fan. Add this to my obsession with old photos, and I was quite content ... although a little ticked that all of these old photos had been hidden from me all these years. But I'm over that (obviously, since I just HAD to bring it up, lol!). Anywho, I came across the most amazing photo, which I fell in love with even before I knew who was in it. So naturally, I must share it!

That youngest baby is my father, next to him is my Uncle Ralph, and the woman is their mother, my Grandma Laurine Williams. I have never met my Grandma Laurine, since she died when my father was just six years old, but I have always felt an affection for her. From what I've heard about her, my father carried many of her traits. She was kind, mild-mannered, and quite intelligent. She wanted to be a mother more than anything, and she had 5 little boys--one of them only a few weeks old when she died.

After about a year, my Grandfather married a widow named Grace Bush, who had 2 boys herself. She is the Grandma I grew up knowing. She raised all of those boys (plus one more they had together) in difficult circumstances, and they are stellar men because of her. My grandfather was a bit of a partier until his later years, so he wasn't around much then. Can you imagine having 5 extra boys overnight, and their father pretty much MIA? She was an incredibly strong woman--thank goodness! A whole generation of family have her to thank for a happy life. Wow. I bet she was too busy to even realize what she was doing for all of us, but I'm grateful. And I'm sure that Grandma Laurine is too.

P.S. - Thanks to Alaina for scanning this awesome photo, and many others. Yes, my niece saw these pics before I ever did, but fortunately, I'm way too mature to let that injustice take hold and fester until I'm consumed with bitterness and uncontrollable rage. WAY too mature.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

In a perfect universe

I know I complain a lot about year-round school, but this is one time I'd like to kiss its face. My youngest are back in school! I have a life again!

I think anyone reading this will know that I love my children so much I could just squish them. I love to do things with them and see them and giggle with them. Just not every single minute of every single day, ya know?? Last summer I had a streak of energy that hit in July, right when their summer break is. We swam, we crafted, we toured the universe, and I LOVED it. It was the best summer ever for all of us. I was actually sad when they had to go back to school!

I just assumed this summer would be the same, only even better! I made lists of the places we would go and the fun we would have. We've actually gone to most of the places, and I hope the kids have had fun, but I'm just not the best fun mom this year. It feels like I was dragging around my carcass through most of it. (Nice image, eh?) I suppose it's not realistic in my 'condition' to think that my bouts of energy will coincide with those 4 measly weeks of summer every year. Sigh. But I'm still putting in my request for next year, just in case it helps.

In the meantime, I'm waking up each morning, sending my girls off to school, relishing all the while that I have 6 whole hours to do whatever, whenever, however I like. Naturally, I head straight back to bed...but those few minutes of big plans are heaven.