Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kids say the darndest things . . .

We've been trying to figure out nicknames for our kids (our daughter is 8 and our son is 5) for blogging purposes. So, we've come up with "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" -- if you read Dr. Seuss, you can appreciate it.


This one is often heard at our house:

Mommy/Daddy (calling upstairs): Thing 2, what are you doing up there?
Thing 2: Nothing you want to know!


Thing 2 threatening Daddy: I'm going to tell Mommy about this incident!


Today, as Thing 2 still isn't feeling so great, he got pretty upset, hid himself behind the futon, and screamed when we tried to talk with him or suggest he come out. When I offered for him to come out and cuddle and talk with me, he cried, "Mommy! The sign!" I looked to the side of the futon where a sign (with an arrow pointing behind the futon) reads: "Danger/Keep Out" complete with a skull and crossbones, too.


Also today (Thing 1 is feeling better and getting antsy since Thing 2 hasn't been feeling well and we're all cooped up and a bit stir crazy--it IS June!)

Daddy: I'm losing patience.
Thing 1 (with a glint in her eye): That's bad.
Daddy: Yes, that's bad.
Thing 1 (smiling even more broadly): Maybe you should advertise more!


Why, I oughta . . . ! ;)

Friday, June 27, 2008

100 Things

I debated whether or not to do this exercise, but I read a particular set and was inspired, so I figured, "Eh, why not!" Mark and I have not collaborated on our lists (which is remarkable given some of the similarities in our responses!).

Anyway, we've had a LOT of fun with this exercise and have been joking around quite a bit and so kindly adding to each other's list as we walk around the house picking on each other, pretending to type, and saying obnoxious things like "Number 102! I take pictures to document every aspect of our life including our sick children." Good times.

Boquinha's List

101 things you might not know about me

I’ve seen this on several blogs and I hope my friends don’t mind me borrowing one or two that apply to me, too, so here are 101 things you might not know about me though that’ll be tricky because . . .

  1. I’m a nervous talker
  2. but I’m working on that.
  3. I don’t like to shop
  4. especially for clothing.
  5. I get a rush out of saving money and paying down debt (and appreciate VERY much all the help we’ve been given to get our business going)
  6. and I get very stressed by the thought of spending money on just about anything (though I promise we DO have balance, we have been especially cash strapped for most of our marriage, especially the past couple of years—see, we’ve been in the “education/student loan investment” stage for so long that we’re getting to the “it paying off” stage, which ironically enough, comes along with paying much of it back! :P).
  7. I don’t like being stressed about finances and I really hate debt
  8. and yet there is a part of me that thinks the challenge is kind of fun—(which is a good thing, since we’ve got YEARS of it)
  9. yet I think that in some ways I might fear being rich.
  10. I’m weird, I know (don’t get me wrong—I wouldn’t turn down a lotto win, but I’d probably be freaked out by it).
  11. I’m a visual learner
  12. but I can’t physically and emotionally handle seeing violence.
  13. I cry when I see/hear a child being hit or yelled at in stores.
  14. I dislike confrontation, though I’m not afraid to stand up for myself.
  15. I would tell my younger self to go to Europe as newlyweds despite the cost (reference #5-10).
  16. I’m miserable when I’m sick—pathetic really
  17. probably because I love to be babied.
  18. I like things resolved—I don’t really like loose ends.
  19. (stolen right from Chandelle, but it fits—thank you!) There is only one person in my life that I have been unable to get along with no matter what I do. Ultimately, the only way to be civil and happy was to be okay with essentially cutting this person out of my life as much as possible (well, to be fair, this person cut me out, but it's probably for the best that we do this). It was toxic. Sucks, but nothing else has worked.
  20. That being said, I am a remarkably good friend. That is something of which I’m very confident.
  21. I am extremely grateful for family and good friends.
  22. I enjoy people who are open minded, can think for themselves, and aren’t afraid to debate intelligently.
  23. I’d be an awesome lawyer as far as debate and logic goes.
  24. I couldn’t do it in good conscience though—I don’t think I’d really like it as I’m much more suited to what I’m doing.
  25. I believe in respecting others’ beliefs and choices whether or not they align with my own.
  26. I get bugged by not having that same respect given to us.
  27. I don’t like being told what to do.
  28. I’m a bit of a non-conformist. Or, as my in-laws say, an activist.
  29. I believe in soulmates.
  30. I firmly believe that I am married to my soulmate—there is no question in my mind.
  31. I enjoy talking openly about politics and religion.
  32. I don’t believe in any of those “better than sex” desserts. Enough said.
  33. I hate to admit it but I love Hollywood gossip. No idea why.
  34. I do not take advantage of others nor do I like to see others being taken advantage of.
  35. I enjoy cooking, but I don’t particularly like to bake.
  36. Only as an adult in the past few years have I begun to like homemade cookies over store-bought Chips Ahoy (crazy, I know).
  37. I haven’t ever trusted anything called “FD &C # (anything)” and I really dislike all things artificial or manufactured in foods.
  38. Not to say that I wouldn’t ever eat them, but we do tend to avoid them
  39. I am generally a fairly balanced health nut when it comes to eating
  40. but once a month I crave deep fried carbs like no other.
  41. My least favorite food of all time is macaroni and cheese. The smell alone triggers my gag reflex.
  42. I like foreign films a lot—subtitles excite me.
  43. I desperately want our family to be fluent in more languages—we’re working on it, even considering living in Puerto Rico for a month.
  44. I love being a stay-at-home wife and mom and am grateful to be able to do so
  45. and I love that we homeschool.
  46. I usually read the book choice for book club.
  47. I’m an emeritus Google Answers Researcher.
  48. I like to sprinkle raw oatmeal on my cereal.
  49. I like jigsaw puzzles that are pictures of collections of things (teddy bears, chocolates, buttons, whatever).
  50. When I was in 8th grade, my obsessive need to be precise and correct had me look up the correct word during a test. I had memorized an entire chapter of the Bible (Isaiah 53, if I recall correctly) and I looked up ONE word (to make sure it was “your” instead of “yours” or something like that—those always tripped me up since as a Mormon you use the King James Version (thee, thine, thou) and in Born Again Christian school, they used the New International Version—you, yours, etc.). Whether or not I’d gotten that word right wouldn’t have changed the fact that I’d earned an “A” on the test. Being a “good girl” and having an insanely guilty conscience, I told my (favorite) teacher through tears what I had done. He thanked me for my honesty and told me he’d have to give me a “D.” I cried and said I understood. When he handed it back to me later, the “A” was crossed out in red ink and it said “B-, confessed cheating” (even though it wasn't technically "cheating" so much as double checking--I hadn't changed anything) and I was so happy.
  51. I love the ocean.
  52. I love gothic novels. They are my favorite genre of books.
  53. I absolutely love breastfeeding.
  54. Also in Christian School, this time in 6th Grade, I got my first “C” ever on a report card (yes, I was a straight-A student). I cried and threw a FIT over it, searching again and again through my assignments, doing the math of my grade average again and again. The teacher was a Christian Scientist and totally had it in for me, the Mormon kid. We used to butt heads all the time in Bible class. I would answer my own beliefs on Bible quizzes and she’d mark me wrong. So, I started answering with the format, “The answer YOU want is yadda yadda yadda, but I believe yadda yadda yadda.” (The yadda yaddas are just for you, Emily! It’s my Seinfeld peace offering). To get out my frustrations, I’d play “Pin the wart on Miss Goddard” (she had a huge mole on her chin). Mean, I know. But she made me so mad! (And I was 12, give me a break). And as long as I’m griping about grade school, let me add that I hated P.E., too.
  55. I love the Zen approach
  56. though it doesn’t always come naturally to me.
  57. I am totally mystified by the expression “Who gives a rat’s @$$?” Who, exactly, cares about a rat’s @$$ to begin with? Who came up with this? What . . . what possessed someone to . . . this phrase . . . I don’t understand . . .
  58. I don’t like bacon.
  59. I have this absurdly compulsive need to respond to every email I receive. I can tell when I’m emailing someone with this same compulsion. It generally turns into a game of email chicken.
  60. I quote Friends way too much.
  61. I love grammar and am a total grammar nerd.
  62. I find clothing totally cumbersome.
  63. I especially hate bras.
  64. I had some crazy fun friends as a teen and they used to keep me sane and make me laugh and laugh and laugh.
  65. I have very little awareness of time—it’s horrible.
  66. I’ve seen Chicago and Harry Connick, Jr. in concert. Not at the same time.
  67. I find the “stresses” of owning one’s own business FAR less stressful (and a fun challenge really) than any stresses related to “working for the man.” By. A. Mile.
  68. I’m a slow reader (which really frustrates me at times as I love to read). I took a free mini speed-reading course in college. It didn’t help. I think it’s because I’m obsessive with reading and picturing every little thing.
  69. It is far easier for me to be verbose than succinct. Whittling down research papers is a major ordeal for me.
  70. I’m insanely good at editing papers.
  71. I usually check the weather online rather than simply opening the door and feeling it for myself the good old-fashioned way.
  72. I am an excellent library patron and we also volunteer there.
  73. I get really stressed when our car is at the mechanic’s wondering what they’re going to find and when they’re going to call and tell us how much it’s going to cost. I don’t like not knowing the cost of something beforehand. “Market Price” on a menu is sure to have me not order it.
  74. I am completely undecided as to whether or not to have more kids. I’ve always wanted 4. I’m quite happy with 2. And my biological clock is ticking while my indecisive mind goes back and forth, back and forth.
  75. I love the words “ubiquitous” and “innocuous.”
  76. I don’t like people who are holier-than-thou. They’re annoying and reek of insecurity.
  77. I’m apparently not always the best judge of character. People tell me it’s because I like to see the best in everyone. Whatever it is, sometimes it’s bitten me in the butt. Live and learn.
  78. I can’t STAND finding a piece of gristle in my mouth while chewing food. Blech. That alone could drive me vegetarian. Pesco-vegetarian anyway. I love seafood.
  79. I cannot stand flies in the house. I have to rid the house of them as soon as I see one especially before enjoying any meal.
  80. We eat all three meals at a set table pretty much every day. And we love it.
  81. I go NUTS looking for lost items a la bythelbs. However I’m equally as thrilled when we find said items.
  82. Ah, our lovely children have helped with this one—“Mommy! That’s one for your list! You don’t like to touch things when you’re sick!” Yes, I’m a germaphobe. Though that one is probably more known than not.
  83. I love to drop everything to sit and talk with a friend or family.
  84. I don’t one bit see it as a waste of time. Not ONE bit.
  85. I love cute note cards for “just because” notes in the mail.
  86. I’ve resisted getting cell phones for so long and now that we have them (mainly for our business), I admit they’re handy but I’m a horrible cell phone person in the sense that I don’t always carry it, check it, or look at it for days.
  87. There was a time in my life when I was practically paralyzed with fear and anxiety so much so that travel was completely out of the question. Looking back, I think I probably seemed like a really selfish person, but the truth was I was a terribly hurting person.
  88. Over the years working through those issues, even though I’m not perfect (who is?), I’ve felt an enormous burden lifted and feel freer to be ME.
  89. When people ask me what’s helped me pull out of debilitating depression and crippling anxiety, I immediately answer with 2 main things—my husband’s amazing love for me (he put his career during residency on hold for 1 month, then 2!) and vitamin B-100s. My husband and family are so amazing and truly, truly, truly encourage and support and love me being me. And that’s pretty freaking awesome.
  90. I love our kids so much that it overwhelms me at times.
  91. I tend to think and ponder and consider and analyze and philosophize A LOT.
  92. Mindfulness is a very powerful tool to help with that—it doesn’t come naturally but I love it and when I practice it, I feel calm, present, and more serene.
  93. I love the show “Freaks and Geeks” and am still miffed that it only lasted ONE season. I highly recommend this to anyone reading our blog. It has a huge cult following and is absolutely HILARIOUS—it’s high school for the rest of us.
  94. I’m one of those kids who didn’t belong to a particular clique in high school. I mean I was definitely in the nerdy honors group, but I didn’t delineate friendship by group association—I had friends in band, sports, drama, didn’t matter.
  95. I love simple pleasures like ladybugs, catching fireflies, playing in the sprinkler, flying kites, daisies, going for a walk, eating ice cream in the backyard, etc. I’m easy to please that way.
  96. I used to want to be President of the U.S. and influence millions.
  97. I recognize the value in the immense power of influencing everyone with whom you come into contact—quality, not quantity.
  98. I’m writing a novel (it’d be done by now if I’d spent as much time with it as I have with my blog) . . .
  99. I sincerely marvel (I mean MARVEL) at how on the same page Mark and I are and how much we complement one another—it’s truly remarkable to me. I know it’s thought of as cheesy and cliché, but it’s true—we are one. I recognize how blessed we are as a family and we’re extremely grateful. Many of the things I hear in my one day a week of work reinforces this for me all the more.
  100. I’m addicted to blogging . . .
  101. . . . so much so that I’m slightly disturbed that at one point during the writing of this list, I ran downstairs dripping wet from showering, one hand clutching my towel and the other enumerating while I mumbled, “bacon, email, rat’s @$$, bacon, email, rat’s @$$ . . . “

But just try and tell me that you haven’t done the very same thing! You can tell me in your list of 101 things. I tag Terah, Kara, Emily, Mark, Jessica, April, Jillyn, Stacy, Kim, Jenny, Lindsay, oh this is getting ridiculous . . . anyone who wants to do it!


Doctormark's List

100 Things You May Not Know About Me

1. I am quiet only until I get to know someone a bit better.

2. There is a big part of me that wants to not be so quiet.

3. I can be quite talkative when I get going.

4. I’m the timekeeper in the family, but I do so delicately.

5. I have 5 brothers and all of us are within 8 years of each other . . .

6. . . . and so I can (usually) tolerate a lot of chaos before breaking my concentration.

7. I have a fascination with Eastern cultures and religion (Asia, not New York City).

8. A big part of me could be quite happy pruning bonsai trees and tending to a Zen rock garden.

9. When I lived in Japan occasionally people would overhear me talking and assume I was Japanese, until they saw a 6-foot, 200+ lb American walking toward them.

10. San Francisco Giant baseball excites me (most years).

11. Yahoo! was the first site I learned to use so I still read my sports news there . . .

12. . . . even though I use “the Google” for nearly everything.

13. I hate the telephone and avoid using it at all costs.

14. I love my wife so much I will make phone calls for her when she is in a time crunch.

15. As I get older I fail to see the usefulness of war and conflict, even though I was a fairly hawkish teen growing up.

16. I registered as a Democrat this year to participate in the primary elections and wonder what took me so long.

17. Although, the vast majority of us should just form the Moderate Party and see how much simpler our lives become.

18. People who refuse to take personal responsibility for their health drive me absolutely crazy—as a physician and as a human being.

19. Item #18, ironically, has been difficult for me to adopt on a personal level at times.

20. I have always been quite athletic so it may surprise people to know that I struggle at times to keep my weight under control.

21. One very strange thing about me is that even though #15 is true I really enjoy a good movie or book about espionage or secret agents. I don’t really have too many people around who enjoy them like I do, but I love James Bond and the Bourne movies.

22. When ranking the actors who have played 007, my personal preferences are as follows: Daniel Craig (I know, it’s only been one movie so far, but I’m anxiously awaiting the next one this year); Roger Moore; Sean Connery; Pierce Brosnan; Timothy Dalton (he was a waste in this role in my opinion); and George Lazenby, although to be honest I can’t truly rank him since I don’t actually remember seeing “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

23. I once even considered pursuing a career in the Foreign Service. That was an extremely fleeting thought.

24. Even though I think Kevin Costner is a lousy actor, my favorite movie is “Field of Dreams.”

25. I also usually read the book club selection.

26. I have four books I am currently working on and really want to finish: a homeschool physics curriculum, complete with experiments; a book of children’s poetry (finished but not polished or published); a candid look at my feelings about the medical profession and health care system; and a story about children growing up in the Azores.

27. My emotions run pretty close to the surface and when I get frustrated it often comes out as tears.

28. I also cry at a lot of movies. Honestly, it’s hard to find a movie during which I have not shed a tear.

29. I am comfortable with silence except where my wife is concerned. That is probably because she is a talker unless she is upset.

30. When I played basketball in high school I would grab the shorts of the guy I was guarding when he tried for a rebound so he couldn’t jump as well. Guys usually didn’t like it.

31. When running side-by-side, a cornerback in football will sometimes use his palm on a receiver’s thigh to “break his stride” and then gain the advantage. In a high school soccer game I once did this to a forward who was trying to go past me with the ball. I also locked arms with him, pushed a little, then pulled him back and made it look like he ran into me. He got a yellow card.

32. I tried this in the last game of the season and got my own yellow card.

33. I have a history of being very competitive in sports.

34. I’ve mellowed quite a bit.

35. In all honesty I once responded to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” by saying, “President of the United States.” My high school government teacher thought I was just being a wise mouth, but I was serious.

36. Now that sounds like the worst job on the planet, bar none!

37. Sometimes I surprise myself by what comes out of my mouth when being pushed by telemarketers . . .

38. . . . and bosses . . .

39. . . . and online telephone directory advertising sales people.

40. My high school drivers’ ed teacher accused me of working for the KGB since I wouldn’t sing along to “I’m Proud to be an American.” “I don’t know the lyrics” wasn’t a valid excuse, and it didn’t help my cause any.

41. I was once arrested by university police at BYU for “shoplifting.” It was acknowledged later that it was a misunderstanding, but I still heard my Miranda rights, waived my right to an attorney, had my portrait taken from two angles, and left my fingerprints in the police station.

42. I like to cook a lot and have been called “The Best Portuguese Cook in the Family.” I’m Irish.

43. Mindfulness is something I’d like to do better. I find I have to think about it a lot to make it work (imagine that).

44. The more I study and contemplate Christ’s teachings, the more I realize he was kind of Zen. We could all learn to “be” a little more so all of our “doing” doesn’t ruin us.

45. Trying to meet other people’s expectations of me can be tiresome. I have enough trouble meeting my own expectations of myself.

46. I once ate a live cricket.

47. My parents once worried I would get into Satan worship or become otherwise deceived.

48. It was because I really got into Dungeons and Dragons when I was younger. I also got into a variety of other role-playing games.

49. I once explored the sewers of Vancouver, British Columbia. Not nearly exciting as the sewers of Paris are purported to be.

50. Flawed logic really bothers me, and sometimes I’ll try to identify the logical fallacies or other issues in someone’s argument (argumentum ad hominem, non sequitor, slippery slope arguments, etc.).

51. I can be very nerdy. I like it.

52. Slippery slope arguments really hit a nerve with me.

53. I find the number of channels now available on Cable and Satellite overwhelming, so much so that I’ve truly grown to love our lower than basic cable. More channels just means more disappointment over how many hours of television are being broadcast on an aggregate daily basis versus how little interesting programming is available.

54. I like shopping for my wife more than I like shopping for myself. I think I do a pretty good job at it, too.

55. I would consider myself, more and more, a feminist husband, and I am glad we are raising feminist children.

56. I love it when our daughter says things like, “I can run the restaurant and my husband can stay home with the kids.” Whatever you want is worth going for, Chiquita.

57. Koans intrigue me, even if I don’t get them yet. “Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?”

58. Given the choice between sushi and sashimi, sashimi wins every time. My favorite? The classic: maguro (tuna).

59. The strangest thing I have ever eaten in my life (and remember I ate a live cricket) is pig ovary sautéed in Korean hot pepper sauce. My mission companion correctly identified the fallopian tube.

60. In the eighth grade I played four different brass instruments in our Spring Concert (trombone, baritone, French horn, and tuba).

61. If I could only listen to one CD over and over again forever and ever I would choose The Eminent J.J. Johnson, Volume 2. Oh, but please let me take both discs.

62. One of my unspoken goals in life is to be a Renaissance man. I would like to think I’m on my way.

63. My favorite era in American history is the years surrounding the American Revolution.

64. I once got high at a Dave Matthews concert . . . in Utah. Once you regain consciousness and get up off the floor I can tell you the whole story. My friend Peter and I went to the Hoard festival (outdoors) in Park City, Utah and saw Lenny Kravitz, The Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler, and some local band perform. We inhaled enough pot smoke from everyone around us that I was floating a little on the way home.

65. I love the feeling of the cool side of the pillow. As a kid I would even flip my pillow to keep it cool until I fell asleep.

66. I have a tough time making lists like this because I feel like a lot of it is bragging even though I know it’s just sharing tidbits about me that others may want to know.

67. I don’t like attention being drawn to myself unless I’ve sought it. Applause after performing a solo with a jazz band—fine. Asking me to stand up unexpectedly to be acknowledged for some such thing—not so much.

68. I am a creature of habit. It takes a lot to get me to change my routine.

69. I can be quite particular about things, but I couldn’t tell you the things about which I am particular. I guess I don’t obsess.

70. Once I was on Canadian television. Our marching band was in the Victoria Days parade in British Columbia and I was the drum major. Apparently the parade is a big deal so it is on TV each year.

71. My mother had a formula she learned that says if you double your height at 2 ½ years old, that is a good estimate of your adult height. I was supposed to be 6’ 5.” I used to be upset that I never got that tall, but since my wife is 5’ 2” my current height works out just fine.

72. I spent 6 months in a half-body cast when I was 14. I learned to appreciate a lot of things during that time, like the ability to use the toilet normally.

73. I am better at video games than I like to admit, although this did help me run the colonoscope on my surgical rotation.

74. Books are a weakness of mine. I can control myself, but the urge to own every book known to man is strong.

75. I have a large pile of books on top of my night stand. It continues into my night stand drawer. These are books I am currently reading, wanting to read, taking a break from reading, etc. At any given time there are probably at least 5 books between the two locations. I think I have 8 or 9 there now.

76. Commercials where they make babies talk with grown-up voices, or show them dancing or acting in any other adult manner give me the willies. I just can’t watch them without wanting to vomit.

77. I have a very hard time choosing a favorite anything. I have a lot of things that I like a lot, but in my quest for well-roundedness I’ve lost the ability, with a few exceptions, to choose many favorites.

78. I think there are people who are meant to be together—soulmates if you will.

79. I met and married mine.

80. Sarcasm comes naturally to me, sometimes to my own detriment.

81. Looking over the history of humankind as I understand it I marvel at all the harm that has been done in the name of religion. As far as I can tell every religion has historical aspects they’d wish the world would forget. I wish people wouldn’t run from these or, alternatively, use them to vilify specific religions. People aren’t perfect. We can all stand to be a bit more tolerant of those whose beliefs differ from ours.

82. Sometimes I enjoy giving long rants and diatribes. It can be pleasantly rewarding.

83. Ink on my body really annoys me. I don’t know why, but it does. I won’t write a phone number or a note to myself on my hand, ever.

84. Birthdays don’t excite me much. It probably stems from the fact that my brother is born on the same day and my parents’ wedding anniversary also happens to be the same day. No, my mother did not give birth to me at the altar just before birthing my brother. I came two years after the altar. My brother came two years after I did.

85. True confession—I really enjoy how much my wife and children love making my birthday special.

86. I don’t much care for having a boss or working for someone else. It’s not because I have a difficult time getting along with people or working in a group. I actually do fine with that. I just have too many things I want to do my way, and I don’t have patience for the usual hurdles to intelligent and efficient work that exist in many workplaces.

87. Don’t tell me we do things just because “it’s always been done that way.” Drives. Me. Nuts.

88. I find working with my hands highly satisfying. I don’t know that I always recognized that side of me when I was younger so I didn’t spend as much time cultivating that.

89. Being creative in the literal and imaginative senses is like breathing air. I have got to have it in my life or I start to feel lost.

90. When I applied to colleges, I had a letter written to my congressman requesting an appointment to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. I wisely never sent the letter.

91. I enjoy doing different impressions and accents. I always have.

92. Early in our marriage I thought I wanted a kid like Calvin. We have two.

93. I simultaneously appreciate opportunities and blessings of living in the United States while wanting to try living overseas.

94. Diplomacy comes naturally to me.

95. Foreign languages are very interesting to me and I wish I spoke more of them.

96. Discussions of ethics can entertain me for long periods of time, especially when they involve topics in bioethics.

97. When considering superheroes, I prefer Batman because he is a regular guy rather than a mutant or someone who derives special powers from the yellow sun of Earth.

98. By now you can tell I have lots of interests that for at least passing moments nearly became career choices. I still wonder how I may have enjoyed writing music for films.

99. My son believes I can draw anything. Anything. I get frequent requests to draw everything.

100. I am unbelievably happy to be done writing this many things about me. Halfway through I even started learning things about me I didn’t know before!

Let’s hear from some people that probably would love to keep 100 secrets from all of us, my brothers: Doug, David, Greg, Michael, and Scott, you’ve been tagged! It’s almost like being punk’d, but less embarrassing.

Roll Call by State - UTAH

Okay, someone from the U of U area isn't fessing up in comments and I'm going to start feeling stalked if you don't say who you are! I have my guesses, but I'm not sure . . .

Okay, we get a lot of visitors from all over, but we get quite a bit from UT, PA, and MA. So, we're going to try a Roll Call by state because we're VERY curious who you are. So, today's state? Utah! If you visit from Utah, would you please comment on this post? Reveal yourselves! Thanks!

Sick of being sick

So, K and I are still sick. And today, M wakes up feeling miserable and has a fever. UGH. This is so WEIRD! The flu in June?! Ugh.

So, besides getting flowers from one friend, we've also received various emails, calls, and blog comments, DELICIOUS soup from another friend, herbal teas from yet another friend. My mom even found a way to share some food with us from across the country (she's visiting my brother in AZ). I love feeling looked out for and you're never too old for it--thank you, Mom! (And I know Mark appreciates it since he's the lone healthy person taking care of everyone). And just now, another friend has stopped by on her way to the store to see if there's anything she could get for us. How awesome are our friends?! We love where we live, we love our ward, we love our family and friends!

We're doing lots of laying around and movie watching and soup eating.

We also have a lot of down time to talk about finances and business as well as what we can do when we feel better (besides all the normal, fun summer stuff). Given our finances and the price of gas and the fact that we run our own business that we've recently opened, we're considering doing mini-trips instead of a week's vacation someplace. Here's what we're thinking:

2 days in NYC enjoying some touristy things and a Broadway show (Lion King or some such)
A day at Knoebel's or something like that
3 days at the beach (maybe in September when rates go WAY down--one of the many beauties of homeschooling)

Fun to think about while we sit around and cough and blow our noses. Hack, hack, hack . . .

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sweet Justice

Remember this story? Well, it seems the government overstepped its bounds. Hurrah! Seriously, that guy should be a poster child for all US consumers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Movie Recommendations

Seen any good movies recently? I mean, I know the classics of course (though feel free to throw those in the comments, too). I'm talking movies within the past year or so. Movies we can rent from the Redbox. Movies that are a nice distraction from daily stresses. Any suggestions? (Remember I'm sick and feel like crud. So once the kids are in bed, Mark and I might watch a movie. If you can suggest something good. No pressure.).

Personal Assistant

How would you like your own personal assistant? Try Sandy. I'm still getting used to Sandy, but she's handy. (Hey! I'm a Poet and didn't know it!). Plus it's free.

Anyway, basically you email Sandy any time you want to ask her to remind you about something and she does it! Like I sent her a quick email weeks ago asking her to please remind me that the movie "Definitely, Maybe" comes out on DVD today. And sure enough, she emailed me today to tell me that! (Speaking of, has anyone seen that movie? Is it any good?)

Anyway, have Sandy tell you to flip your mattress, check your smoke alarm batteries, call your dentist, whatever. I'm not a huge fan of the site (it's not as user friendly as I'd like), but it's not bad either. What do you think?

(I know. When it rains, it pours. I'm sick. Give me a break here!) :P Besides, I went outside to enjoy the sun and I got stung by a bee (or something). I think it's a sign. Stay indoors and blog.

Cool VT Partner

How cool is my Visiting Teaching Partner? We're supposed to visit teach tonight--we have appointments with all the women we visit. And I have the flu. I called my partner today and left what I'm sure is probably a pathetic-sounding message (I'm all congested and hurt ALL over) apologizing and saying we can reschedule if she wants, etc. So what does she do? She comes by today with this:

I love Gerber Daisies! So colorful, bright, and cheery! And she's doing the visits anyway. She's awesome. What a kind, thoughtful thing to do--I'm very touched by it. We have a really great ward. And I have a pretty cool VT partner. :)

By the way . . .

I have the flu. YUCK. K has it, too. Hence my major blog catch up. It's my form of "rest" since I'm sick of being in bed. :) We're having "Jammies Days" and watching old videos (so fun, though it is very surreal to see video of my Dad). Enjoy the posts!

Playing with Picasa

We've been playing with ways to post more pictures without taking up all of our storage space (reference this post) and we've discovered Picasa will make some nice collages. Here are pictures from our last two photo sessions with the kids.

Our Booth!

Here are a whole bunch of pictures from our booth at our town's historical celebration days. It was a blast and we love what we do! I love the pictures of all of us. And I love how helpful the kids are. And I love the picture of Little Dude hanging out with our mailman on his lunch break. Small town Americana. You gotta love it.

Quaker Meeting

At D'Arcy's and Terah's request and inspired by Terah, I'm going to post more about our experience attending Quaker Meeting.

Let me back up and explain a bit. We homeschool. We use a curriculum (classical education) but we also sort of "unschool," which means we have no problem dropping whatever we're doing and following our kids' interests and excitement for learning, following a sort of "natural learning" principle. The basic idea stems from looking at how we learn before formal schooling begins and how we learn after we graduate said formal schooling--we simply read about things, look things up, take a class, talk to people, study things, because we want to. So that's the gist.

Well, when we learn about stuff, we like to supplement with museum trips and research and whatever floats our boat really. We study Egypt, we go to the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Philly. We study bugs, we go outside. We study American History, we visit Boston, Philly, D.C. You get the idea. So, as we've been studying various religions, it's occurred to us, "Why not visit these religious services instead of just reading about them in a book?" So we do. We've recently started doing this and places on our list include a Muslim mosque, Catholic mass, a Jewish synagogue, an Amish Meeting, Greek Orthodox, etc. We are excited!

We also believe very strongly in having respect for all and in always learning. The second you think you know everything about anything, you cut yourself off from further learning. And the second you think you're better than someone else, you've crossed the line from confidence (okay) to arrogance (not okay). So, as part of having respect, we figure actually attending instead of just reading, and looking for the good in others, we can foster that kind of deep respect and love toward others. And instead of picking apart differences, we can embrace those things, both similar and different from our own, with love and respect and openness. (I guess it's a pet peeve of mine when someone always feels they need to jump in and state their own beliefs and how they differ or how much luckier they are to know more than someone else or whatever. It strikes me as insecure, I guess). I love learning about others' beliefs in such a hands-on way. It helps you develop respect for others as well as an appreciation for your own beliefs, too. Obviously when I was a kid, my parents weren't scared of exposing us to what's out there (Catholic mass, Born Again Christian School) and I've always been grateful for that.

So, anyway, we've started by attending our friends' Quaker Meeting. I am VERY intrigued by Quakers as well as their belief system, their form of worship, and how they "practice" their religion. See, it's tricky to describe any of that because I don't think they'd even use the words "belief system," "practice," or "religion." I'll talk about it in points for ease of reading and relate it to what we've seen so far as we've visited with them.

1. Quakers call one another "Friends."

I think that's very cool. They refer to themselves and one another as "Friends" and use first names to address one another. They even wear name tags at church (as do visitors). It was pretty cool to have people walk right up to me, say my name, and launch into conversation. It saves all that "What's your name?" stuff and makes it a whole lot quicker to learn everyone's name.

2. Quakers meet in silent worship.

Quakers call their worship service quite simply "meeting." They sit in silence in a room together. It is very peaceful, very meditative, very interesting. You simply walk in, sit down, and sit quietly. And then, as people feel so moved, they may or may not stand and share something (sort of like Fast and Testimony meeting except there are absolutely no rules or expectations on what is or isn't said other than total respect for one another).

3. Quakers don't have dogmatic beliefs.

Quakers don't have a set of "doctrine" or beliefs that is taught them or told them. They don't have a pastor or ecclesiastical leader. They seek within to find truth. Which I think is pretty cool. No matter what religion one is, how neat is it to feel so in tune as to know how to follow your heart and mind and know truth so intrinsically and in such a centered way what truth is for oneself? It's agency in its highest form. I feel very strongly about the principle of agency and how important it is. Anyway, I think Quakerism is one of the most "Eastern" Western religions about which I've learned. Very Zen.

4. Quakers have an interesting meeting format.

In addition to what I've already said about Quaker meeting (silent worship, etc.), there's more. After meeting, someone (this is sort of like a clerical position so to speak) stands and thanks everyone and asks if anyone has any "Joys or Concerns." Basically anyone can share anything they'd like with the group--something they're excited about, something they're concerned about, they can request prayers on their behalf, etc. I heard one woman share excitedly that her grandson had graduated high school. And I heard one man express nervousness about his upcoming surgery--he requested that the friends "hold him in the light" (pray for him--though I love that expression, it's so beautiful). I like the format of sharing like that. Instead of just some people hearing something through a visit with someone or hearing through the grapevine, you're more aware of what's going on with others. Pretty neat.

When I was a kid in Born Again Christian School (I went out of convenience to my parents, not because of religion--it was a private school and I was the only (often picked on) Mormon kid). Interesting times. Anyway, every school day started with prayers. One thing they did that I thought was kind of cool (though very different to me) was "conversational prayer." Basically, someone started the prayer but didn't finish it. Everyone bowed their heads respectfully and people could chime in as they felt they'd like to sharing whatever they'd like in prayer to God. It was sort of a communal effort and not one person speaking for all. Sometimes that would last for 20 minutes or more as different people shared different things. It was an interesting and more personal way to know what was going on with everyone. I kind of liked it. I guess the "Joys and Concerns" portion of the meeting reminded me of that.

After the "Joys and Concerns," people shared announcements. Basically, anyone could share anything. The Quaker "organization" is made up of councils/committees. Sort of like the newer enrichment groups (which I much prefer to the old way). So if someone would like to start a committee about reading or literacy, they could do so. If someone wants to start a Humanitarian Aid group to help victims of the earthquake in Beijing, they can. And anyone can join whichever committee they feel passionate about. So instead of callings, they follow their heart (in keeping with their "seeking inward to know truth" principle) to decide in which group to participate. They learn from one another as they do so.

I heard one person share an announcement that said that there were fliers in the back of the room for anyone who wanted to contact their senators about an initiative to try peaceful methods with Iran before bombing and war. Now that was cool. See, Quakers are peace loving. If I understand it correctly, they can't even be drafted--they can refuse based on religious beliefs. But what they do instead is set up service projects in the U.S. (like psychiatric hospitals for vets, etc.). Pretty neat. I'm not one for war and violence myself, so I think that's really neat. And being so used to religion being very separate from politics, it was interesting to hear it discussed so openly among everyone, all in the name of peace.

Oh, and after all of that (Joys and Concerns, announcements, etc.), they have a light refreshment and social time. Everyone eats and socializes with one another. Oh and someone sits in a corner under a big "Q" (for Quakers? Questions? I'm not sure) and you can ask them questions afterward. We would've done that, but our friends helped us out (for well over an hour) with our questions.

Oh, for those who are wondering, they also have a children's meeting. Our kids love it. They don't separate by age which our kids like. They got to interview a woman who's a counselor and Tai Chi instructor and they learned some Tai Chi, too.

5. Quakers have principles they follow.

Some of the main principles are simple living (lack of clutter both physically and emotionally), peaceful living, and respect for diversity. They call one another friends and seek deeply to know truth for themselves. They definitely practice mindfulness in all they do--they live fully present rather than focusing on the future only. They believe in the Kingdom of God being here and now as well as a future thing so it affects their day-to-day in a very present way.

6. There aren't many Quakers

300,000 maybe? They don't really proselytize as far as I know. I mean, we showed up to meeting (what they call their, well, meeting) because we wanted to. Though I've spoken mainly about unprogrammed meetings (no set agenda or leader), apparently there are some Quaker sects that do have a more programmed structure similar to Protestant Sunday Worship. Apparently there are a lot in Kenya. We have several Quaker friends here and they all meet in unprogrammed meetings. Since Quakers are native to Philadelphia (William Penn, Pennsylvania, etc.), I suppose that's the more original way? Everyone was very friendly to us but no one was pushy at all--they're so respectful of everyone's individual spiritual path (even among themselves) that no one really seems to judge or criticize another. It is a very warm and open approach.

I can't think of what else to type so if anyone has any questions, just ask!

I can't tell you enough how THRILLING it was to attend and learn like this. We've read about them in books an online but attending was a really hands-on experience that helped us better understand and appreciate. I highly recommend it to anyone who's curious to learn more.

Up next, Catholic Mass! (We don't do this every week--we do this every so often as we do attend our own religious meetings as well). And our friends would like to attend one of our services with us as well. I bet that'll be interesting, given what they're used to for themselves (VERY programmed and organized versus unprogrammed, etc.).

I'm excited to attend a Catholic Mass! I haven't been to one since I was a kid (not counting the ones on TV). Most of my extended family is Catholic and my parents were Catholic before converting to the LDS church. I was even christened as a baby (and "saved" in my Christian Elementary School and baptized LDS--I figure I'm covered) . . .

Monday, June 23, 2008

How does your garden grow?

Click to enlarge

Mom, the Fennel is growing sky high so you might want to hurry up and make a cup of tea or 20. Watching old videos today, several came up of Dad. The first time I heard his voice and saw him, it startled me to tears. Daddy, are you proud of our garden? I think you are. Look! We have grape bunches! Please ignore the weeds to the front of the lettuce--we haven't gotten to that yet. But notice how well everything else is growing! We have tomatoes galore, peppers, tomatoes, snap peas, green beans, okra, collards, corn, melons, watermelon, pumpkins, squash, spinach, lettuce, all sorts of stuff! We've even started a compost pile! This gardening stuff is really fun. And cost effective, too. And organic. Awesomely organic.

Obama Can

Random neat things I've been reading . . .

"Sen. Barack Obama is leading Sen. John McCain in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, according to a new survey. Obama lost the primary in Pennsylvania, but a Quinnipiac University poll shows him leading McCain by 12 points there."


In May, the Tennessee Republican Party used video of Michelle Obama's comments in a TV ad that aired during one of her husband's campaign stops in the state.

The ad features Tennesseans saying why they are proud of America while repeatedly cutting to Michelle Obama's comments.

The Obama campaign called the ad "shameful," and it was condemned by the state's two Republican U.S. senators.

After his wife's comments were criticized, Barack Obama said Michelle did not mean what she said.

"Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn't at all what she meant," he told San Antonio radio station WOAI in February.

"What she meant was, this is the first time that she's been proud of the politics of America," he said. "Because she's pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she's not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she's encouraged."



This is totally worth a read- Don't Mess with Michelle!

That article also references this super cool list of "10 Things You Didn't Know About Michelle Obama":


You know? I'm absolutely thrilled at the idea of a strong, beautiful, articulate, intelligent, educated woman as First Lady. I've had enough blank stares and plastic expressions.

So much so that I've written my own I-Report:

I can't seem to discipline myself

You can only post so many pictures on Blogger. Every time I upload pictures, it keeps informing me what percentage I've used so far. It's unnerving.

And yet, I keep posting. And do I choose 1 or 2 photos from each thing? No! I post tons of them. I think there might be something wrong with me. Oh well.

As promised, pictures of our Father's Day Meal:

This picture shows the lovely salad. Mmmmm.

Baked Brie with walnuts and mango and served with a multi-grain baguette--delicious!

The piece de resistance (and not the coup de gras though if you mispronounce "coup de gras" it can mean "blow of fat" which I suppose could be fitting)

Served with Feta Mashed Potatoes and Wasabi Butter Dipping Sauce. Divine!

Okay, I'll try to discipline myself on this one. We've got A LOT of pictures of our family out kite flying the other day. I got 2 cavities filled and it was a gorgeous day with just the right amount of wind, so we went to a local park (right near the dentist--c'mon, we're all about combining errands given the price of gas especially) and flew kites. Over 300 feet in the air. For a long time. It was sublimely relaxing. Seriously. We love it.

And besides, we live in one of the most beautiful places in the country. You can literally breathe in fresh, clean goodness right to your soul. And it feels so good.

And my awesome husband brightened my day the other day with these "just because" daisies (my favorite flower). He's the best.

Bookworm's bed--can you tell? She is such a free spirit with her sleeping backwards and million (believe me, this picture is VERY tame) stuffed animals and her books everywhere (look closely--they're on top of the covers, under the covers . . . ), and her crochet stuff, and oh yeah, her jammies. She's in her own little world and loves being comfy and cozy in bed with lots of books and stuffed animals. Simple pleasures.

And then there's Little Dude. Don't get me wrong, he can make messes, too. But his sleeping area does tend to be fairly neat. And he likes his hair and clothes to be neat, too. And he can't resist a mirror. And if you're talking to him and there's a mirror behind you--he'll look at himself, not you. It's hysterical.

Summer Fun

I know. It's been a while since we've posted anything. We've been doing all sorts of stuff--library reading program, enjoying our pool passes (5 times in one week during that heat wave!), picking strawberries, enjoying free summer movies, playing at the playground with our amazing homeschool group, enjoying a writer's club, participating in our town's historic celebration, flying kites, and more!

Swimming at the Pool!


We attended a Quaker Meeting with our good friends from our homeschool group--it was a fascinating experience and something we're sure to do again. We really enjoyed it. Can you see that we got sun from the heat wave (and the pool)?


We also went strawberry picking with friends -- $1/pound. You can't beat that! So easy to freeze.

Strawberry red fingers!


Ronald and M working on a craft at the park


M saying, "Look, Mommy! I'm King Tut!"

More to come . . .

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On a lighter note . . . today's menu


Baked brie with mango and walnut served with a crusted baguette

Main course

Sea Scallops wrapped in a sage leaf and thinly sliced prosciutto basted in garlic butter and seared on the grill and served with a wasabi sauce


Feta Mashed Potatoes (name speaks for itself)
Green salad with red onion, avocado, and red grapefruit


Mini Eclairs

Happy Father's Day

I've been struggling this year with Father's Day. It's my first Father's Day where I don't talk to my Dad because he's not there. That hurts. There is a dull ache for me when I consider that and I find myself often, for survival, shaking it off (Denial? Repression? Maybe.).

This week, while getting some things for our booth at the town's celebration of its historic and current businesses and shops, I noticed a display at Waldenbooks. I don't know what I was thinking, but I picked up a book about fathers and daughters. The book mentioned that there's something special about that relationship. There truly is.

And then I flipped open to a random page. On it there was a quote from a daughter about her Dad that said something about how she noticed her Dad's first gray hair and how it struck her with sudden sadness to consider that someday he would be gone. That was it. My eyes stung, I blinked rapidly, and put the book back on the shelf, immediately distracting myself with the original purpose of my visit to the bookstore. I didn't really mention this to Mark until yesterday.

See, yesterday, while at said town celebration, Mark was talking with a man we know whose scalloped wooden fence we admire, asking where he got it. The man explained that he did it himself using a certain kind of saw. Mark, relaying this to me, said, "So we can do the same because we have a saber saw. It's one of the many tools your dad gave me." I kept looking at him as if I was listening but I was trying desperately to not let my face contort into that look people get right before they cry. I felt my facial muscles tightening, the stinging in my eyes. Mark noticed right away. "Are you okay?"

That was it. I started to cry. Right there on Main Street. That's what happens when you repress things for so long that it bubbles right under the surface like that. The littlest thing sets you off. I couldn't speak. No, I'm not okay. I miss my Dad. I miss him so much that it aches. I miss feeling so tangibly and emotionally looked out for by my Daddy--sometimes it almost feels scary to not have that in my life anymore. I could *always* count on a "That's great, Bibi. I love you." from my Dad. And now, I can't call him today and hear those words. I can't hear his sweet broken English and endearing accent asking me, "How's the kids? Oh, they a' so cute." How can he not be here to enjoy them? How can our kids have only what they've known so far and their memories of him as a Vavo role model for them? It's not fair. I miss him. They miss him. They've never doubted his love for them. Never. He's always made a point of talking with them, helping provide for them, sending money to encourage their pizza and other food habits, visiting them, and letting them know he loves them. Over the years he's (somewhat out of character for him) chosen gifts like books and things specifically for them. He's always been a loving grandfather just like he's always been a loving father to me. My Dad's always been full of love, help, acceptance, trust, and kind advice for us. And I miss him desperately.

Vavo and K playing checkers

My Dad with K and M

Vavo with Baby Kate--My Dad loves this picture and even cut it out and framed it for the kids to enjoy in their room :P

Helping Install more cupboards

Vavo with M

Vavo playing checkers with K

Vavo and Vavo Reading stories

My brother and I had a nice talk on the phone this morning--I wished him a Happy Father's Day and he said same to Mark, lots of laughing and sharing stories, neither of us really wanting to mention the obvious. After some chit chat, my brother brought it up first. "First Father's Day without Dad."

"I know. It sucks," I said trying to play it cool and not cry.

"Yeah it does."

And then we did the normal things grieving people do--shared a bit of anger at all the medicines he was on and things not tried to help him live longer and more fully. A normal reaction when you feel cheated. Probably a defense mechanism, too. Don't talk bout the good stuff. You might cry.

My brother and I have had very different relationships with my Dad. My brother is 13 years older than I am and got Dad in his younger, stricter, not-always-easy days. I got the older, more laid back, more serene father. I'm a Daddy's girl through and through. Sometimes I think of how my brother got 13 more years with my Dad than I got, but I'm not angry or even jealous. Those weren't easy years for anyone. I really think I got the best of my Dad. Maybe, in some ways, more than anyone else in the immediate family. I guess I've always felt a special connection with him that way and the pain is that much more when I think of how he's not here. There's never been a negative anything between us. Ever. I don't remember ever ever ever feeling angry or anything like that with my Dad. I miss that. I miss him. He has always been a person in my life who has always loved me regardless of anything and who has always looked out for me. As I look through pictures, I can see him looking older and sicker over the years in such an obvious way. I can see it now. I didn't see it then. I didn't want to, I suppose. I know I didn't want to.

Vavo watching with the kids

Vavo enjoying one of his favorite foods with his grandson

Playing Play-doh

Day Out with Thomas

Teaching M to ride a tricycle

Teaching K to ride without training wheels

My Mom and Dad with K and M at "Day Out with Thomas"

I think back on friends and family who have lost parents and I think it was always more of a factual knowledge for me (especially since death and grieving are among least favorite topics)--"Kara's mother died when she was younger," "Emily's mother died several years ago," "Jeff's father died while he was on his mission," my mother-in-law's experience, my mom's (who is both an orphan and a widow) experience. I didn't allow myself to dwell on it more than that--factual. For my own sanity. It's too painful to consider. And I didn't understand. No one understands unless they've been through it themselves.

That's a saying I don't always like or agree with--that you must experience something to understand it. I remember writing an essay about that in high school--is experience necessary for full understanding? I'd like to think that's not true, especially as a counselor. How can I possibly help/relate to my clients when I haven't experienced things they have? That's where non-judgment comes to play. And empathy. But with this, yes, I now understand more fully, more poignantly, and more fully. And maybe with some things you do understand more fully when you've experienced it yourself, not that you can't be a support and help to others, but you may not be able to fully relate and understand. Anyway, I understand more now that my father has died. It hurts in a way that's difficult to describe. And it makes you suddenly angry, sad, grateful, doubtful, happy, and upset all at once. And it makes you reconsider Kara, Emily, Jeff, Vivian, and my Mom. And it makes you understand more. And you feel like you might even have a sneak peek into their emotions, thoughts, and experiences and you share a common, painful bond.

Anyway, sorry to be a downer. It's just how it is for me at the moment. I've tried really hard for the past several weeks and months to have some sort of distraction/fun thing--I've tried to surprise Mark with a pretty special surprise (that has been postponed), we've tried to get my in-laws out here, and we've considered a weekend at the beach. Unfortunately, the stupid, scary gas prices have put the kabosh on all of those ideas.

But we're having a really nice day and focusing on making it a relaxing, enjoyable day for Mark, my sweet husband who is more concerned about me and my feelings than about having a good day for himself. See? He's simply that way. I've married a man who loves me unconditionally and who looks out for me. I've married my best friend, my soulmate, the only man who can properly love and care for my Daddy's little girl.

And in addition to being a wonderful husband, he is a phenomenal father. I am blessed to have him as my husband and partner and our kids are so blessed to have him as their father. He is SUCH a generation X dad. He makes a point of having work-life balance. He is super involved in everything we do. He is hard-working, funny, thoughtful, kind, smart, and generally amazing. He's always amazed me with what he accomplishes and he continually amazes me.

Mark with Baby Kate

Mark and M playing T-ball

Surprising Mark at work for his birthday


Welcome, K!

Welcome, M!

Mark with the little guy

Mark is the kind of guy that is simply a true partner. Everything we do together is seamless, egalitarian, true teamwork. I struggle during conversations with women whose husbands seem so clueless or duddy or uninvolved, husbands who are so hands-off with the kids and household stuff and sort of do their own thing. I don't want to make them feel bad or say anything stupid (as I'm apt to do as a nervous talker), but I can't relate. I'm married to a freaking superhero.

He does more dishes than I do, writes children's poetry, does homeschooling stuff and crafts with the kids, goes out of his way to get things for us that he's heard us mention or he knows we like, encourages me to do nice things for myself like sleep in, blog, enjoy a night out, read a good book, and generally go easy on myself. He honestly treats me like I'm the most amazing woman who has ever graced the earth. He's not at all condescending or patronizing in this--he doesn't put me on some proverbial golden pedestal. He's real with me. He respects and honors me by always supporting me being exactly who I am. He never pulls an "I'm the head of this household" ego trip. Never! Even trying to picture him doing that just doesn't happen in my brain because it's so completely not him. He and I are one. One in everything. We see eye-to-eye on big things like communication and finances and little things like what to have for dinner and creative ways to promote our business. We even like the same things! Sure, we have some differences in taste, but they're so minor and manageable that it's not even noticeable--we make it work for us. I often think he's the one who got the short end of the stick in our relationship and yet he doesn't feel that way at all.

Whoops, I was talking about him as a father and got totally sidetracked. I do that sometimes if you haven't noticed.

Mark helping with a school project

Mark and the kids at The Nutcracker

Mark and the kids kicking back on Thanksgiving 2006

He takes the kids outside to play in the snow. He teaches them to jump off the diving board. He helps them learn to ride without training wheels. He makes sure the kids often have their favorite meals. He goes on dates with the kids. He writes them stories. He reads them stories. He builds huge Lego projects with them. He plays house and restaurant. He knows how to parent well both sons and daughters. He schools the children in math, history, and general knowledge. He teaches them to think for themselves and be the best they can be. He helps them be open and not narrow-minded. He treats me with the utmost respect and realness always. He teaches them the value of sarcasm. He helps them learn how to use the self check-out at the grocery store. He surprises them with fun stuff. He makes sure they work hard and learn responsibility and service and respect. He teaches them manners and good will. He arranges his schedule to go on field trips with us. He cleans, he cooks, he does laundry. He does so much! There are so many things he does I don't dare mention on here because it would probably seem so over-the-top to some (and likely embarrass him), but suffice it to say that even majorly little things that help your day go smoothly are thought of and done. We are spoiled.

But I know that only good can come of the way he is as a husband and father. I know that our kids can always know they're loved and count on him and know him as a wonderful and loving Dad. He knows the deep love a father has for his children. I know he knows because of his sweet way with my own father, my sweet Daddy. I know he knows because of how he spoke to my father as my father lay dying. How he told him that he loves me. How he told him that he protects and cares for me and the children. I know because of how he expressed his deeply passionate and heartfelt promise to always care for my Daddy's little girl. He gave my Dad the gift of being able to die in peace and assurance knowing that I, his little girl, is supremely loved, protected, cared for and that his grandchildren have a wonderful father to love and guide them. And it's more than words. My Dad has always seen Mark live in a way true to his word--he always truly treats me and the kids the way a kind, loving husband and father does. Because he IS a kind, loving husband and father. An amazing father. Happy Father's Day, Sweetie!