Saturday, January 30, 2010

Untitled- because everything I thought of was probably inappropriate.

Tonight Ashton and Richard had the opportunity to use some free tickets for a night out thanks to a generous friend, so since it is date night I wasn't about to be stood up,  I took the younger munchkins out for a little fun as well... That is if you count taking 3 children on a trip to Walkers for a soda & treat and to the video store for Sonic & Pok√©mon flicks fun.

Anyway, the video store is running a promotion that if you pre-order the second movie in the "Twilight" saga, "New Moon," they save you a copy and give you a supposed discount. Now, I know in Provo these books and subsequently the movies are a little controversial, but I enjoyed the books, so I've seen the first 2 movies. I could also write my own movie review on the difference in quality between the first and second movies, but I won't. Sufficed to say, "New Moon" is a good example of what a couple extra million and some muscles can do for a movie. That being said I pre-ordered my copy; I figured I have the first, I might as well have the whole collection by the time they are finished making millions churning out the movies.

So the clerk tells me that I only have to put down a $5 deposit, but if I do a $10 deposit I can get a free "New Moon" calendar. Then the clerk who is older than me, I might add, starts to drool over the calendar and how it is the best buy and if I am going to do $5 I might as well do $10 and get the calendar.

I just stared at her like "Are you kidding me?" I honestly thought and almost said, "What in the world would I do with such a calendar? If you haven't noticed, despite my ponytail and skin that has decided to go through puberty once again, I'm not a teeny-bopper with my 3 kids in tow, whose ultimate wish is to hang a calendar of a half naked 17 year old boy on my kitchen wall, even if I really appreciate his physically fit physique."

Then it occurred to me...but I know a few of those...

So I plunked down my $10 and walked out...calendar in hand.

If one of my neighbors, I mean friends, doesn't want it, I guess there is always eBay.

Unless, you can think of a good title for this post and then you will be declared the proud owner of a new calendar...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Breakfasts of Champions

"You better eat your Wheaties!"
HA! Not at our house.

This morning as I roused Ben from a peaceful slumber, I asked the daily question...

“What do you want for breakfast?”

He sleepily asked, “What is there?”

Me- “Cereal…”

Ben- “What kind? Lucky Charms? (A boy after my own heart.)

Me- “No. Frosted Flakes, Trix, Cheerios, or Cocoa Puffs.

Ben- “No cereal.” (Grunted like a Neanderthal.)

So like a broken record I went through the other healthy (and not so healthy) options we had time for.

“Pop Tarts, granola bars, Nutrigrain bars, toast, waffles…”

Ben- “Do we have nuggets?”

Me- “You really want to eat nuggets for breakfast?!?” (I threw up a little in my mouth.)

He nodded and smiled his sweet toothless grin, so I went to make nuggets for breakfast.

As I opened the mega bag of Dino Nuggets their smell hit me and my gag reflex tempted the throw up again. I retrieved 4 objects of chicken-who-knows-what that had been ground up and mashed together to form cute little replicas of various dinosaurs… and I was nuking them in the microwave... for my child... for breakfast.

My mother would die, if she knew.

As I waited for them to finish heating I was musing about what weird kids I have, their food choices, and whether or not I should be reported to DCFS for actually letting them eat this stuff, when I briefly flashed back to a time when all I wanted were atypical breakfasts too.

In junior high my favorite thing for breakfast was whatever we had for dinner the night before. Shepherd’s pie, baked potatoes, spaghetti, ham & cheesy potatoes, and my favorite leftover- chicken parmesan, were my breakfasts of choice. Then there was the period when I had onions topped with butter and salt cooked in the microwave every day before I caught the bus.

And I wondered why I didn’t have any friends.

Breakfast foods held no allure for me (unless, it was bacon, which was a sin at our house), so if there were no leftovers, mozzarella sticks dipped in peanut butter had to suffice.

When the beep of the microwave brought me back from my visit with breakfasts past, I decided that maybe food weirdness is genetic and I am actually to blame. So I took a deep breath, swallowed back the throw up, and proudly served Dino Nuggets for breakfast... with a smile.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Revolving Door

Do you remember your first experience with a revolving door?

I do.

And I was terrified.

I don’t recall where I encountered it, probably somewhere in downtown Ogden on an errand with my mother, but as a small girl that rotating X scared the soup out of me. The fact that my little arms and legs might not have enough strength to push my way through the entire process, fed the fear of getting stuck between the entrance and the exit in a small vestibule of suffocating glass. I’m sure this fear had a great deal to do with the claustrophobia I had acquired from being barricaded inside the kitchen pantry by my loving older brothers (jerks) more than questioning my own strength. I was a tomboy with 3 older brothers, I was tough enough.

But worse than getting stuck and having a panic attack where everyone can see, was the fear of getting caught between the rotating X and the wall as you entered its circular movement, especially if someone else was coming through from the other side and doing so at a mighty fast speed. If your timing wasn’t right, you were in trouble; having the correct timing was imperative. If it wasn’t fairly precise you would risk severing an arm, leg, or even your body- right in two! Well… at least, that is what my kid mind told me would happen.

But I did it. Somewhere I found the courage (probably from a mother’s soothing encouragement) and pushed my way through. And I am pleased to report that I have done so on many occasions since without the loss of life or limb.

There is a point to me writing about this, I promise; just bear with me.

After a recent phone conversation with my mother, I started to reflect on some important events that happened 11 years ago this month. As I thought about these events and their importance to me, I could only think of them in the analogy of a revolving door, of sorts. A revolving door between the entrance and the exit of this the world we know and the world we once knew, and one day, will know again.

Death & birth.

A revolving door.

One of which I was terrified.

I often questioned my choice of professions because of this fear. I worked with a mainly geriatric population, of which many suffered from terminal diseases. I lost many of my dear friends, but none while they were under my care or while I was present. For this I was very grateful. I just couldn’t deal with facing it and the unknown surrounding it. It was a cold, unwelcome, violent thief that stole loved ones and I wanted nothing to do with it.

I was also in nursing school experiencing my labor and delivery clinicals while expecting my first child. Giving birth was something I was never sure I wanted to do. I wanted kids. And I wanted to be a mother. I just wasn’t sure about the whole process in accomplishing that.

First of all, pain is not my favorite sensation (shocking, I know). Second of all, I was what you could call a private person and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be on “display”- even for a medical staff audience. I had seen enough births to know that there was plenty of both involved to put me totally out of my comfort zone. Now 4 kids later, delivered in 4 different hospitals, by 4 different doctors, and one of which was a natural birth (thank you, Canada and your socialized medicine), I can say that I have sufficiently overcome this fear. But facing it for the first time, I was not exactly confident in my ability to do it.

At this same time, Richard and I had the opportunity of caring for my 92 year old great aunt Annie in our home following the death of my great uncle Albert (86) to a self inflicted gunshot wound. In the midst of all our discussion of whether this was the right thing for us to do at that point of our lives and marriage, my biggest concern was –What if she passes away while she’s living here?


Maybe, considering all the other things like school, work, and the arrival of a baby in the near future that seemed to be more pertinent, but I couldn’t help it, that was the worry that weighed on my mind.

Caring for Annie was an adventure. I say “adventure” because like most adventures it was not easy, but it was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. But two months after Annie’s arrival, her health declined significantly and since our baby was due any day, we along with my mom and her brothers, made arrangements for Annie to be placed in the hospice wing of the local rest home where she could be taken care of until her time came to go.

It was a Saturday and all the arrangements were finalized, we were to take Annie that afternoon to the rest home. I went into her room in our little two room mobile home to give her a bed bath, get her dressed, and ready to go, but as I rolled her onto her side to wash her back I stopped.

I knew Annie was going somewhere soon, just not the place we had intended on sending her.

Her body had started to shutdown and the signs of it showed in the “mottling” that had appeared on her back and undersides of her extremities. I called my mother, a licensed RN, to come in and confirm my suspicions and she did.

The arrangements with the rest home were cancelled, it was finalized and my worst fear was realized- Annie would spend her last hours in our home.

As Annie’s last hours ticked away so did the daylight and nighttime was quickly approaching. I was scared; I didn’t feel ready to face it yet. My mother agreed to stay the night in case it happened in the middle of the night she would be there with us and Annie.

In the early morning hours on Sunday, January 10th, 1999 I awoke to a noise on the baby monitor and directly headed to Annie’s room. There in the early morning light I was privileged to watch as Annie took her last breath.

There was nothing cold, unwelcome, or violent about it. The emptiness I expected was filled with peaceful, warmth.

Two weeks later to the day of Annie’s exit from this world into the next, 11 years ago today; I was also privileged to watch Ashton Ted Parke take his first breath as he made his entrance through the revolving door from that world into ours.

The pain and uncertainty were lost in an indescribable and exhausted joy.

I did it.

Somehow I found the courage (probably with the soothing encouragement of a wise and loving Father) and pushed my way through the fear and the claustrophobia of my own naivet√©’ and found that I was strong enough; despite what my childlike mind when ruled by fear told me- I was ready.

As for the timing…that incredibly impeccable timing…all credit there rests with the Doorman.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Benism- Hot Mama

Last week as I pretended to be a hamster and run on my hamster wheel, also known as a treadmill, Emma and Ben entertained themselves and me by playing restaurant. They took my breathless orders for pies, cakes, and cookies and then proceeded to make them- out of play dough.


When I finished my run I headed up to the living room where there is more floor space to cool down and stretch. Ben followed me and with my back to him he asked, “Mommy, when are you going to eat all the yummy treats you ordered?

Bending at the waist and reaching down toward my toes I replied, “When I’m done stretching. I need to do it while my muscles are still warm.”

Still bent at the waist with Ben behind me, I suddenly felt two little hands plant themselves smack dab on my gluteus maximus!

Those little hands then moved to my hamstrings, quadriceps, and finally, rested from their journey on my bicep.

Through my stunned fog, I heard Ben’s little voice confirm to me, “Yep, mom. You’re right. Your muscles are hot.”

Considering that he agrees that I do indeed still have muscles, I guess he is forgiven for groping his mother!

Monday, January 18, 2010


I love being able to go to church. I love sitting in a class or meeting and being struck with inspiration; those little "a-ha" moments when I recognize some tid bit that I can use in my life to make it easier, overcome challenges, become a better person, or to just simply- make me happier. Yesterday, I had one of those moments.

If you have read my blog for awhile you may have noticed that this month it has been different. I'm not talking about the sparse content contributed so far, that happens more often than not, but I am talking about the look. There has been no cutesy background or clever header photo to fit the month of January; just plain, boring, blah. Which is about how I feel about January...blah.

January is hard. How can it not be after following all the hoopla of December? There is the post holiday letdown followed by the fatigue of lots of family togetherness, acting like a covert spy to accomplish gift requests, the decorating and worst of all, the undecorating. There is the scrutinizing of the current state of our lives with New Year resolutions, topped off with the realization of just how many facets of our lives we are falling short in and need to improve on. And in our family's case, heap on top of all that, the 3 different home reno projects we completed at our parent's homes, including one paint job turned nightmare by the discovery of black mold, which added an extra day and a half and new drywall to the schedule. Coupled with my need to complete 25 hours of dreaded, so therefore procrastinated, continuing education hours before the end of the year and you have how I feel... the complete and utter need to be and do nothing. In a word- blah.

Oh, and did I mention the weather? I am in the opinion that unless I am able to hit the slopes, the snow, cold, and grey skies aren't needed anymore and we should go directly from New Year's to spring. White Christmas? Mission accomplished. Now snow, snow, go away.

I'm sorry to be a downer, so this is where my inspiration comes in. At church yesterday, a friend of mine was dressed in this cute, cheerful, red, Hawaiian inspired dress, it was the complete opposite of blah and so it hit me... I need something cheerful and reminiscent of warmth and sun to make it through the rest of the month! So here you have it- my new blog background.

So even though I am partial to the beaches of the Pacific Northwest, I'm finding the looks of Hawaii or sunny So Cal. very enticing, not to mention inspirational.  But of course, their inspiration is not to be out done by Sunday School...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Santa's Helpers

I know that we are half way through January, but I have tried to send this video of my mother's reaction to her Christmas present to my sister-in-law numerous times and no matter how I try to send it, it will not go. So I am posting it here. Thanks for the indulgence.

As a young girl, when my mom would venture out of the house on various mom duties she would often be visited by "The Good Fairy". The Good Fairy performed all sorts of magical tasks that in our home where my 3 older brothers lived usually centered around organizing and cleaning. You never knew when she would strike; my mother would leave on a grocery shopping trip and return to find that something had been straightened, organized, or just put in a better state than she left it. My mother loved it when The Good Fairy visited.

Well, The Good Fairy has grown up, but she still on occasion, likes to make surprise visits to my parent's home. Growing up also means that she now has connections and accomplices, even ones that live all the way in Idaho. Having connections and accomplices also means that The Good Fairy's magic is greatly enhanced and even more complicated tasks can be accomplished.

Dallin, one of The Good fairy's best accomplices & Santa's helper.

Well, it has been a while since The Good Fairy made an appearance at my parent's home, so it was a big surprise to my mom and dad when she and some of Santa's helpers made a stop one weekend in December, working their magic and leaving them a Christmas gift that would leave them "floored".

The finished product

(I am sorry it is sideways, I didn't want to drop $30 bucks on new software to edit it right now, so if you get a kink in your neck from watching it, send me an IOU for a neck rub.)

The Good Fairy wishes to thank her accomplices in Pocatello who pulled off getting my parents out of the house for the weekend- even with a snowstorm looming- which is a major feat considering my father and his hatred of driving in the snow. Those "magical charms" known as grandchildren work wonders.You guys are the best; we couldn't have done it without you!

A disclaimer to the Parke Family in Denver- The Good Fairy's male accomplices did not, will not, and have not EVER worn tights in the accomplishing of their good deeds.

Friday, January 8, 2010

My Little Strummer Boy

Last night Ashton performed in his first guitar recital. He started lessons this past summer and I feel like he did a fantastic job especially since we were in a mad rush to get there. Apparently, his brain-dead mother had it in her mind the recital started at 7:00, when it really started at 6:00. I realized this little fact at 5:51.

So despite the nerves and anxiety that his dad wouldn't make it in time, he pulled off both of his songs without much problem. Thankfully, Richard arrived just as Ashton's turn to play came up. Whew! We really lucked out on that one!

We are really proud of Ashton and all that he has learned so far. We also love to see the enjoyment he gets from playing Ol' Blue, thanks to a great teacher who works so well with our 10 year old boy.

Ashton and his teacher, Mari Farr, playing "Can Can".

Ashton and Mari, playing "Frosty the Snowman".

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Head Bangin' Birthday

(Ashton sang 'Happy Birthday' to me in sign language finished off with "clapping".)

Birthdays bring so many things. Not only do they bring another year to add to your timeline spent upon this earth, but hopefully, they add another year of wisdom from lessons learned and viewing the past year's challenges and blessings from different perspectives.

Yeah, I suppose that is mostly right.... But really it brings things like being remembered by friends and family, even obscure ones I haven't spoken to in years, who wish me birthday happiness through the power that is Facebook.

It also brings really long phone calls from Nebraska and Missouri and the chance to catch up with  two of my favorite girlfriends.

It brings fabulous gourmet cupcakes from the Sweet Tooth Fairy Bakery delivered my another two of my favorite girlfriends who insist that I eat them all by myself, no sharing with my hubby or children- those were mine and only mine. What great friends and cupcakes.

It brings lunch at Bajio with my hubby who so kindly shared his lunch with Ben, so I could enjoy my shrimp tacos by myself. I love that guy.

It brings the kindness of marvelous neighbors who watched my kids, so Richard and I were able to take in the new flick "Sherlock Holmes," which I loved and think you should all see if you haven't already.

It of course, brings presents...

Birthdays on occasion also bring unexpected surprises too...

Like chairs that had been put on the table so I could mop the floor, but fell off....

breaking into pieces, along with Mr. Ben

and his head, which could have probably used a stitch or two. But from previous experience with stitches and Ben, we decided to avoid them if at all possible.

And like Ashton, (who was not available for a photo op.) who ran down the upstairs hall like a freight train, knocking the playroom door into the wall, causing a decorative oil lamp sitting on a shelf  that was hanging on said wall to become unstable and fall- squarely on the top of his head. Luckily, there was no blood, but he did receive a nice goose egg and the determination that something is trying to kill him.

I guess the great blessing among the head banging is that we got away without any stitches on my birthday. But along with blessings, I guess there are still lessons to be learned and wisdom to be gained for me, so the guidance I'm taking from my birthday now past is:

#1- Do not mop the floor nor do any other house work for that matter on my birthday.
#2- Inform Richard we need to redecorate the playroom since the decor in there now (which I am a little tired of) seems to be conveniently hazardous to our children's health.

Such hard lessons to live by...