Show and Tell.

Per his request, this is what I strapped in and drove to Ethan’s third-grade class today for Show and Tell.

IMG_1665 Because my minivan wasn’t cool enough.

In case you’re unimpressed, might I suggest that this sweet-faced stuffed teddy is no small force with which to be reckoned?  It is hairy and heavy.  I hauled it from Ethan’s bed, down the stairs, into the car, out of the car, into the school, through the library (my special shortcut), and into Mrs. Smith’s third-grade classroom–all by my lonesome.  Upon seeing me in the hallway, Ethan shot up from his chair like a rocket, leapt over several desks (and kids) to get to me, wrapped his skinny arms around the wooly mammoth and drug it across the (awful, sticky, germ-ridden) carpet.  He made his way to the front of the room and introduced “Beary” to his already-infatuated classmates, smiling magnanimously at their enamored oohs and ahhs.  Every hand went up with questions about the Great Big Bear, but since only three are allowed to be answered at Show and Tell, Ethan chose his questioners carefully and answered them wisely, looking down on his subjects with the wisdom of Soloman.  His admirers wanted to know:  where did he get Beary, how much did she weigh, and could their Moms still find them one for Christmas?  Ethan informed them:  from my big sister who didn’t want it anymore, I don’t know–a lot, and I think your mom could probably get it at Costco.  (I didn’t have the heart to tell them this last one wasn’t true.  This bear is so 2011.)  The kids nodded, satisfied and impressed, and it appeared that Ethan’s lifelong dream had finally come true:  he had minions.

The balance of the hour was spent with Ethan, Beary and me sitting around a table in the wet area enjoying our lunch. I hung my volunteer badge around Beary’s neck and Ethan beamed through his pb&j every time a fellow third-grader walked by and said, “Whoa, check out that bear!”  Then, when lunchtime was over, Ethan did something so rare it was almost unbelievable: he gave me a loud kiss on each cheek and a hug, and then another hug, in front of his friends.  “Thanks for bringing Beary!” he said, still smiling, then hopped off to his classroom.  I leaned back in my chair and folded my arms, looked across the table at the Beast, and sighed.  This school year has given me one daughter starting high school and another navigating middle school–with all of the angst and drama that that implies.  I love my girls and I love their ages, but today I decided that what I really love is Show and Tell.  If only Beary worked on teens and tweens.  I’d strap him down and drag him anywhere.

(And speaking of dragging:  Do you think Beary will fit in the washer?  Yeah, me neither.  I guess Maude can lick him clean.)

8 Seconds

Remember that movie, 8 Seconds, about the talented but ill-fated bullrider?  (Yeah, I don’t really remember it either.)  What I do remember is that the hero of the movie wanted nothing more than to stay on a kicking bull for a full eight seconds which, to me, didn’t seem like much time in which to fulfill one’s  destiny.  But last weekend, due to forces both within and out of my control, my admiration and sympathy for this aspiring bullrider exploded.  Eight seconds?  It’s a lifetime–for renegades like us, anyway.

It all happened on the boardwalk of Seaside, Oregon.  I have decided that most great things in life occur on the boardwalks of small beach towns.  Where else can you pay a dollar to look at the ocean (pay-per-view telescopes) five dollars for a piece of fried dough dunked in cinnamon (elephant ear), and ten dollars to spend eight seconds on a plastic spinning shark?  Remember that song, Under the Boardwalk?  Forget it.  On top of the boardwalk–that’s where I’ll be.  Eating elephant ears and riding the mechanical shark, recapturing my youth for under twenty bucks.  Hey, it’s cheaper than most things I’ve tried.

I did not plan on sharing this thrillride with you, but since the Hub put it on facebook without telling me, I now feel a little backstory is in order.  How did I end up risking my life on this scary shark?  Well, I:

1.  Walked into a store where loud music was playing and many unsavory individuals were standing around the shark, looking at it as though they wanted to ride him but were too afraid.  (Excuse the gender bias, but due to heir cruel and competitive nature, I’ve always assumed all sharks are male.  No offense, males.)

2.  Consulted with my mother-in-law and my conscience, then decided that I’d show said unsavory individuals a thing or two about Mormon Moms from the East side of the mountains.  (In the Pacific Northwest, unsavory West Coasters tend to look down upon us wholesome East Siders.  It’s a sort of West Egg/East Egg/Daisy/Gatsby/Jets/Sharks/Montague/Capulet/Soda vs. Pop kind of thing that I really don’t have time to get into right now.)

3.  Consulted with my stretch denim jeans, which had been worn for over three hours that morning and would thus provide the wiggle room necessary for the spread of my rear across Scary Shark’s spine.  This was both a happy and frightening realization, as it eliminated the last reason I had for not attempting Scary Shark.

And so, ignoring the tearful pleas of my already-mortified  daughter (tweens are so touchy!), I mounted the fiberglass mass.  And speaking as one of The Few who has done so, let me just tell you:  that shark wasn’t just scary, it was slippery.  Very slippery.  Sleek doesn’t begin to describe it; this beast had to have been rubbed down with Crisco by some Machiavellilan carnies who take perverse pleasure in luring Dorky Moms onto the machine, only to buck them off in a disgracefully short span of time.  What I’m really trying to say here is that my slow and awkward dismount from this spinning animatron was–as is everythin that goes wrong in my life–Really Not My Fault.  That fish was rigged.  I’m telling you.

And yet I clung to that scary, slippery shark with all of my motherhood might.  In fact, I’d like to think that my tenacity with the fish was a metaphor for my life.  (It’s a sort of Carpe Diem/Footloose/Life-Is-Not-Measured-By-The-Number-of-Breaths-We-Take-But-By-The-Moments-That-Take-Our-Breath-Away kind of thing that I really don’t have time to get into right now.)  And when, after a valiant struggle (and, I might add, some rather impressive cheers from the growing crowd) it was time for The Heroine to go down, I broke my fall skillfully and landed atop that rubber mat with an effortless grace that kept my dignity intact.  Watch:

Okay, alright.  I know it didn’t look like that shark was turning very fast, but as on of The Few who have mounted it, let me tell you:  it was actually spiraling out of control.  And I know that fall may have looked somewhat, um, slow, but as on of The Few who have fallen, let me tell you:  it was brutal.  And I know that my ride on Scary Shark may have looked short and safe, but as on of The Few who have ridden, let me tell you:  it was long and dangerous.  And slippery.  So slippery, in fact, that I’m proud of my 8 seconds on Scary Shark.  They can grease me down, they can buck me off, but they can never make me quit.  I paid ten bucks for these bragging rights, after all–that’s two elephant ears and one-third a bottle of Pearatin.  Do they think I’m stupid?


It’s like living with Karen Carpenter.

My husband is on another weight loss kick.  Do any of you know my husband?  He is tall, thin, and devastatingly handsome.  In fact, when we’re out in public together, I often hear middle-aged women whisper, “Who is that tall, thin, devastatingly handsome man with the frumpy blonde?”  I then have to throw my voice loudly in their direction and say, “Beat it, sister.  Find a devastatingly handsome man of your own.”  But I digress.

So if you know my devastatingly handsome husband, you also know that “slow and steady wins the race” means nothing to him.  Everything Derrick does is a) All or b) Nothing.  Either one is fine, as long as he doesn’t land somewhere in The Middle.  (I, myself, love The Middle.)  Despite my pleas for him to stop tormenting himself with unnecessary diets, he constantly insists that he needs to lose a few pounds–usually for an upcoming climb or to zap his cholesterol–and he has gotten quite creative with the ways he’s going to lose them.  He came home the other night and made an announcement over my lovingly prepared potato soup and homemade bread:

“I’m giving up flour.”

(Sigh) “What do you mean.” (Period intentional.  Really not that curious.)

“I’m not going to eat anything that has flour in it.”

Nothing with flour in it?  No bread, pasta, even tortillas?”

“Nope.  No flour at all.”

“You’ve already given up rice and potatoes.  What am I supposed to make for dinner?”


At this point, the kids began yelling at their father that giving up flour was the stupidest thing they’ve ever heard.  (Our next home evening will be on Honoring Thy Mother and Father.)  I tried to laugh the whole thing off, but was inwardly troubled by what this would do to both my grocery budget and my tri-weekly cookie baking sessions, of which Derrick has always been so supportive.  We’ve been married and making cookies for fifteen years.  What would we have to talk about now?

Derrick quickly reminded me that he has spent the last fifteen years listening to me rant about calories, fat, and the dreaded “points” in food, so couldn’t I at least support him in this?  Yes, I told him apologetically.  Of course I’ll help you subtract the staple of the western world’s diet from your own. So like the dutiful wife I am, I sat down and made a dinner menu for our family based on various red, white, and other-white meats.  I went to the store and shopped accordingly.  That was on Saturday.

Today is Sunday.  I gently asked Derrick if he would mind my making some chocolate-chip cookies for the kids, as I usually freeze them and then pull them out for their lunches throughout the week.  I was surprised when he smiled and said, “That’s fine.  Don’t adjust the family’s diet around mine.” (Right.) So I made a double batch of my trusty oatmeal chocolate chippers.  I left them on the counter to cool.

As of this post, seven of the cookies are absent from said countertop.  Gone.  The kids and I have not had a single one.

The predictable wailfest occurred later this evening as we sat on the couch together while Derrick wallowed in the aftermath of his gluttony.

Why do you do this to meee??”

“You are a grown man.  You are responsible for your own flour intake.”

“But your cookies make it so haaard!  When everyone else is eating them…”

“No one else was eating them.  Just you.”

“Yeah, but…”

“Listen, if your friends jumped off a cliff, and then ate some flour, does that mean you would do it?


“Where is your conviction?”

“In the cookie jar.”

“That is not a good place for it.”

“I know.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get more cookies.”

And thus begins the Nothing phase of Derrick’s All-or-Nothing.  I can’t pretend I’m sorry.  It’s a heckuva lot more fun than his All.