Monday, March 31, 2008

The Beverage of Satan

I forgot to include in my post about the baby shower a little conversation that can only occur when you mix up a range of people ranging from Mormons to pagans--hey Janis!

Anyway, Leslie was talking about coffee and coffee liqueur and was within earshot of a 4-year-old girl from our ward. Upon hearing the profanity "coffee" she whipped around and told Leslie, "You shouldn't be talking about that!"

"Shouldn't be talking about what?"


"How about liqueur?"

"Not that either."

Margaret told our friend, "She's Mormon" to which Leslie responded, "I figured THAT."

A shower with 30 other people

On Saturday, we had our baby shower (which Margaret used as an opportunity to get this awesome maternity blouse that I had to include in this post!), and I have to say that our hostess Ber outdid herself. I knew she was going all-out when I was talking to her husband last week and he told me that she'd had the landscapers in to do some major work, she braved the crazy weather we've been having to pressure wash their driveway, and had been working on cultivating a hybrid rose variety that matched the official color of the baby shower. She had drawn the artwork for the invitation herself (and got HUGE points with me because my crow in the picture had a fauxhawk. Do you know how hard it is to draw a bird with a FAUXHAWK?!?--I'll give you a clue, it's harder than drawing a conscientious Republican.) Anyway, after hearing all that and knowing how much she was cooking for the event, and knowing that Martha Stewart was agape at being out-Martha'ed, we were REALLY looking forward to the party.

Also leading up to Saturday, we found out that our good friend Leslie was flying in for the event--from ATLANTA! Yes, she was so willing to come to the party that she was willing to leave the glorious South to brave the gray skies, unseasonal snow storms, and pasty-skinned populace that is Oregon in March! Now that's saying something!

Okay, now for the actual party. when we got there, Ber had made a flag with crows sewn on it that was flying over their house... kind of an homage to the Irish flag Margaret sewed for their baby shower that we hosted that you can read about here. (And now it's been almost FOUR years and that flag is still there--barely. Although it looks better than the shed it's covering even though it's an insult to Irish people everywhere.) We came in to find an bunch of friends already there and an AMAZING spread of food. I mean it was so impressive that Margaret took pictures of it. And not only was it artfully staged, Ber had even hand lettered placards describing all the dishes like "Buffalo hash served in a vintage Wedgewood tureen" or "Buffalo and pancetta quiche with handmade crust served in a Target pie plate." Yes, not one but TWO buffalo dishes. We honor their Irish heritage by serving Lucky Charms at their shower and they return the favor with delicious BUFFALO dishes to honor my Indian heritage. Color me sheepish.

There was also a cupcake-decorating station that our friend Stacey had baked HUNDREDS of cupcakes for. (In fact we even got to take home a back of 20 or so... which should last us until tomorrow, at least. And with all the frosting, candies, and other items to decorate them... all within reach of children, that particular station fueled the hyperactivity of every one of the kids at the party, much to the chagrin of all of their parents. I didn't know kids could move so fast until I saw one little boy whose mother was trying to keep him from all the treats, still manage to reach out and grab a handful of M&Ms. I didn't actually see his hand move, one second he was empty-handed, the next it was clutching 58 M&Ms. GREAT! That gives me something to look forward to!

In the invitations, Ber asked that people write a poem to read at the party. They were all really fun, including a verse-by-verse retelling of that 90's song "Don't forget the sunscreen" called "Don't forget the butt cream." Leslie recited this limerick she and Stacey created:

There once was a girl from Utah,
who couldn't get any cute-ah.
Though a bun in the oven,
may slow down the lovin',
but look at the size of those hoot-ahs.

I think we have next year's Poet Laureate!

There was also a contest to come up with an Indian name for the baby, which had some great entries, including Runs with Scissors, Tells Tall Tales, Dances Like Injured Heron, Shops at Ikea, and our favorite Running Nose (which has the side benefit of rhyming with our last name! It was meant to be!)

After visiting with some of our favorite people and gorging on too much great food and opening some amazing presents that we still don't have a room to put them into, as the remodel is STILL underway!, we stumbled home completely spent and with a bunch of leftovers and sense of gratitude to all our friends that made the party incredible and a sense of overwhelming relief that we didn't have to clean up after it!

Thanks Ber, Paul, Stacey, Brent, Janis, Leslie, Cheron, and everyone else who played a part in putting on this amazing production. We promise to let you hold the baby, change the baby, visit the baby, change the baby, rock the baby, change the baby, and change the baby ANY TIME you want.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The guy who both wears the pants AND has the babies

Have you read about the Oregon guy who was born a woman, but became a man about 10 years ago and was legally male. He and his wife wanted a baby, but his wife had had a hysterectomy so the burden of creating life fell to the husband. He had had a double mastectomy and was on testosterone, but hadn't had any reconstruction... down there. Anyway, 4 months after stopping the testosterone therapy, he was able to be artificially inseminated and now they're expecting a baby. There was an article about the couple, including this Demi Moore-style nude pregnancy photo. (Although if you didn't know he was pregnant, you'd just think he had a very localized beer gut.) Talk about not fair. Here's someone who literally changed his whole person and yet easily got pregnant, while some women, who are taking all the right vitamins, getting plenty of exercise, etc. can't get pregnant at all.

I had to laugh, though, when talking to Janis about this. When I showed her this picture, she responded, "If I was going to go to the trouble of changing sex, I dang for sure would not do the crappiest part of being a woman: childbirth!" Classic! (Of course her absolutely HORRIFYING birth experience playing absolutely NO role in her making that statement.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Baby registry

Here's something I think I'd like to add to our baby registry, but curiously neither Babies R Us nor Target carries them. Jeesh!

Speaking of baby registries, Margaret and our friend Cheron went to Babies R Us to register and it took THE ENTIRE DAY! Who knew that the list of things one absolutely needs to properly care for or accessorize a baby with is over 1,500 items! And every one of them is important and if you don't get it it means you don't love your baby as much as the parents who did buy the Gentle Rock Chair System 4000 with aromatherapy and chromotherapy for optimal cognitive development in a 4-day-old baby. I'm just glad it's the twenty-first century, where our heated wet wipe dispensers are electric and connected to the internet to order refills automatically via And our poor pioneer ancestors had to heat their disposable cucumber-scented wet wipes over an open flame made from buffalo chips.

Anyway, after a complete day of being there, Margaret came home completely drained of life force and just collapsed into bed early that night. A couple of days later, we went back together, as she had to ask me about a baby carrier. After looking at about 312 of the various options, I was ready to leave and she reminded me that she had to look at all the options of EVERYTHING! And if you're wondering how many different types of organic cotton short sleeved white onesies with snap bottoms there are, a close guess would be 497! (By the way, we picked out option 322: Organic cotton grown in the highlands of Kenya beneath Mt. Kilimanjaro, irrigated using canals dug by trained meerkats , harvested by baboons, and handwoven by Tsutse villagers, then transported via a camel caravan to Nairobi where they are shipped via non-motorized boats all the way to America. They also carried the ones that used cotton watered individually by trained elephants blowing water from their trunks, but we wanted to stick to the irrigated ones... you know, because of our Mormon roots.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Those crazy Scandinavians

Having Scandinavian roots and serving a mission in Norway really cemented my affinity to extreme northern Europe. When I lived there as a 19-20 year-old, the things that struck me were things that someone my age would notice. Things like, gee, they don't have homelessness here. Or hunger. Or poverty. Or pollution. You know, the little things. I'd read that the Scandinavian countries were the best countries to be a parent, but I didn't really know what that entailed, parenthood being far off on my horizon. Well, I've recently been reading daddy blogs--yes, I'm reading frickin' DADDY BLOGS, okay. Stop giving me grief! Anyway, one of them is from a guy in Sweden. Yesterday he posted about the day care system there and I was literally dumbfounded. Here's his post, because you have GOT to read this:

Kids here in Sweden are not allowed at day care before 12 months of age. Many, like our son and daughter, have started at age 18 months (by choice). It's possible to hire a nanny privately but I don't know a single person that has done so. There's no reason to do so since every person, mother of father, has the right to paternity/maternity leave at almost full pay for about 18 months. People here are spoiled and don't realize how great of a benefit this is. I call it parent and family heaven.

Everyone has the right to the same day care, public or private. You can choose any school you like. Cost is exactly the same and all regulated by government (sounds scary but it's actually fantastic). You're guaranteed a space for your child by giving 3 months of advance notice. Like any other modern country there are schools with different educational directions. Our kids go to a school with a Montessori inspired approach. Cost for full time care, 7:30-5 pm is $200 per month. Half for the second child. Part time care, 30 hours a week like we do, is $140 per child and half for the second. This includes everything you can possibly think of. Diapers, food, snacks, excursions, and supplies.

Funny thing is every family receives a $200 monthly check (per child) until the child is 18 years of age. It's not income dependent. Those checks may be used for anything, it's up to the parents. So great day care is basically free, or a profit for us. We dump the kids $400 into their accounts and the kids will get this little starting capital when they turn 15.

Taxes are a little higher here, I do pay about the same income tax as in NYC and a little higher than Mexico City. Difference is you get nothing for the money in those two other places while benefits here are amazing. A few examples are a safe society, no pollution, free high quality day care and schools (all the way through university), and plenty of paternity/maternity leave.

How much does day care/pre-school cost the government? The total cost for all costs in school up to age 6 is roughly $5 billion a year. That's including everything. Converted for the larger population in the U.S., the cost would be roughly $150 billion a year. That may sound a lot but after seeing the differences I'm totally convinced the cost absorbed by government is a phenomenal investment. Kids growing up in a healthy day care/school environment with parents who are at work without worrying about their child's crappy and expensive day care are given a great base to stand on. I'm sure the benefits are small at a young age but the payback comes as our lovely kids grow up.

What do you get for $150 billion? It's a large chunk of money, roughly the same as the cost of war in Iraq for only one year. It's not as simple as comparing the two but it's indication of what you get for that kind of money. And perhaps more importantly, it's also a sign of priorities. Education nowhere near the top of priorities has very negative long term consequences, something we're starting to see today in U.S.

Can you believe that? I can't believe those silly Swedes. They think that family values means ensuring excellent child care for every child in the country and giving parents the resources they need, when in fact family values means denying gays marriage rights.

Seriously, though, how does one go about getting a job in Sweden?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Acceptable pink

After receiving a comment to the last post, here is a list of acceptable pinks, in no particular order:

  • Pantone 178

  • Pantone 169

  • Pantone 698

  • Pantone 699

  • Pantone 700

  • Pantone 705

  • Ralph Lauren paint "Icelandic Poppy" VM37

  • Ralph Lauren paint "Hallard Barn" VM38

  • Ralph Lauren paint "Pink Chiffon" VM39

  • Ralph Lauren paint "Salmon Pink" VM50

  • Ralph Lauren paint "Key Largo" IB54

Okay, this isn't an exhaustive list, but you get the picture. Essentially, I'm trying to avoid this:


Okay, knowing that we're having a girl, we've already started getting inundated with pink stuff, which is starting to drive me crazy. And I can only brace myself for the inevitable Disney Princess phase that essentially looks like a whole line of merchandise that has been covered in bubble gum then puked on with Pepto-Bismol. That said, I did see this onesie online that I would consider, despite that it's pink. But it's IRONICALLY pink, which is a huge difference.

Seriously, check out all the kids stuff the next time you go to the store. Like I read in a blog recently, what possible purpose is there to have a gender-specific blue or pink kid's digital camera, chair, or lace dress? Well, maybe it's okay for the last one, because most little boys will only wear a blue lace dress, but you get the idea. I can see the necessity and reason for gender-specificity in some things, but why extend it into every facet of a child's world? Sorry Jill, Thomas the Train is for boys. Uh, uh, Petey, flowers are for girls. No, no, Susie! The presidency is for boys. Jeesh!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas Long, Long Ago and Far, Far Away

Nothing says the birth of Christ like a statuette of Darth Vader wearing a Santa hat and building a snow Death Star. See! Even Darth has a softer side. Wouldn't you just love to play outside on a cold winter's day with Darth? Then afterward coming inside and reading the Nativity story out of the Bible.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Great quote

I read this today and couldn't help but pass it along:

"We've tried to have patience. Some of us have also tried patience's little helper, Xanax."

Ah, Xanax. I've never tried it, but I have friends who swear by it. In fact I once witnessed someone mix, contrary to the explicit instructions on the bottle, Xanax and alcohol. That was an interesting night at the ballet/downtown fountain/picking up clothes strewn at the freezer section of a 7-11/sitting in the police precinct. Needless to say, I'll stick to Diet Coke with a Diet Coke chaser. Man, that stuff will MESS YOU UP, but you'll still be dressed and have a clean police record in the morning.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yee Haw!

Outdoor Life magazine just named my hometown (or at least the town nearest the hamlet where I grew up) of Lewiston, Idaho the #2 best city for hunting and fishing. (You can read about it here.) Not that I do either. In fact if it were up to me to have to kill things to eat, we would most likely be vegetarians.

Anyway, this comes as no surprise to me. Growing up, lots of the guys in high school had gun racks and gun mounted on their trucks that they drove to school, you're hard pressed not to see the hides of various animals drying on peoples houses, sheds, etc., and dogs trolling the streets with an elk hoof clenched in their jaws. Yes, it was quite the metropolitan upbringing there in Idaho. And to top it off, we got to miss several days of school every year during the county fair to show our animals! (And yet we NEVER got to miss school for the symphony, opera, or the Gaugin exhibit... namely because you'd have had to drive to Seattle to got to any of those things, and if you were going to drive THAT far, you'd be more likely headed to the Blue Mountains in Oregon to go hunting or to Montana for the Belt Sander Racing Grand Prix.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The immortal words of MC Hammer

After having experienced perfect strangers coming up to her and touching her belly, I've found the perfect t-shirt for her:

Yes, the words of MC Hammer come to the rescue once again.

And my two suggestions were met with skepticism and dismissal:

  1. If someone touches your belly, grab their crotch. When they react in surprise/horror, just tell them, "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought it was inappropriate touching day."

  2. Have a t-shirt printed with "I have leprosy."

Daylight Savings Time

I think that daylight savings time is just a conspiracy by the caffeine providers in this country to drive up demand. I swear getting up just that ONE HOUR earlier feels like I may as well have to get up at 2:30. Thank heavens for bottomless refills at Noah's or I would be screwed.

And to make matters worse, one of my coworkers had her last day on Friday and I got an email from her after I inquired on her transition to non-work life + daylight savings time. She replied that when she eventually got out of bed, she had to worry about making coffee, what kind of omelet she was going to make, and getting ready to watch The View. Arg. Now I know how Margaret felt our last semester at BYU when I was just there biding time. (I had an extra semester left on my scholarship, but was done with my classes, so I just filled my schedule with whatever so I could stay in Provo with Margaret. I'm sure that the scholarship wasn't designed for such abuses, but whatcha gonna do?) I only had classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, giving me a 4-day weekend every weekend for the entire semester. And my Wednesday schedule started at 2:00 pm. I was always trying to get Margaret to go out at all hours of the day and night, as I didn't have to worry about getting up before noon, while she was trying to cram four years of schooling into three. Needless to say, Margaret didn't get as much sleep that semester as I did. In fact she's still trying to catch up on sleep a decade later!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rumor mill

After that last post, I noticed a large uptick in the number of comments from the internets. And over the weekend, we got calls from our family about the birthing education class "outbursts." Evidently word travels fast! My favorite was from my mom. She responded to my "Hello?" with "I heard about Margaret causing a ruckus in your class... she's going to be such a good mother!"

Here we were thinking we needed to read tons of books and have a crib that a baby can't fit her head through the bars where it turns out all we need is sarcasm. And with that as the criteria, we're going to have the best parenting skills EVER!

Friday, March 07, 2008


Well tonight we're off to our next childbirth education class. (Nothing says "exciting Friday night" like childbirth education... I'm sure everything will be back to normal after the baby is born and we can go out on Friday nights and stumble home on Saturday morning when the sun comes up. Right? RIGHT?!?)

Last week's class was an eye-opener. Not only did we realize that we were actually quite versed in childbirth technique, nomenclature, and logistics (you can't come from a Mormon family and NOT be!), but some of the people in the class were COMPLETELY CLUELESS! One person asked about the safety of walking around while she was in labor because she was worried that her baby would just fall out of her. I responded, "You should only be so lucky!" Margaret got targeted by the teacher (who is a little hardcore on the natural EVERYTHING) as a trouble-maker right off. Someone in class asked what kind of formula the teacher would recommend in case of low milk production or some other problem. The teacher looked horrified, replying, "You don't even want that in your HOUSE! It's like having cookies in the house while you're on a diet. If you have formula, you'll just end up using it!" To which Margaret spoke up: "And THAT would be the END OF THE WORLD!" (I wasn't in the room at the time, being that they'd separated the genders at that point, but I imagine that line being uttered completely dripping with a level of sarcasm that only a decade of living with me could have trained her for. Does my heart proud!) Later, after being told by the teacher that women only are in ACTUAL pain only two and half hours of a fourteen hour labor. (She was only counting the 30 to 60 seconds of pain from contractions, etc., saying that between them, a woman was FIIIIINE!) Well, Margaret had to speak up again, saying that that was like saying, "Here, let me punch you in the face. You'll only feel the strike for one SECOND!" Needless to say, the teacher wasn't amused.

I thought it was awesome. Plus, anything we can do to spread the word to the more inexperienced people in the class that using pain medications doesn't mean a woman has "failed" is fair game. (Actually, I don't even feel I have a say in THAT matter. I didn't give Margaret the right to tell my dentist not to give me anesthesia when getting a filling, and I'm not about to tell the doctor how much pain she should go through.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Good ol' Portland

Walking to catch the train this morning, I was treated to the sight of angels walking the street. Yes, ANGELS! And the kind of angels that you are likely to make it to the Celestial Kingdom, namely young, toned, athletic, flexible angels. What are they doing here on earth, you ask? Evidently they're on loan to the Cirque du Soleil here in town, so if your prayers to win the lottery are a little slow coming through, it's because God's call center is a little backlogged from being understaffed at the moment.

Monday, March 03, 2008

American workmanship

On the way to the gym to just sit in the hot tub do my 4-mile sprints and 250 pull-ups, I saw this sight. If I've told people once, I've told them a thousand times: don't make turns in an American-made car. You never know when a wheel is going to come off one of those suckers from the G-forces involved in a 90ยบ left-hand turn going 10 MPH!!

Construction injury

After working all weekend on getting the moulding up, I finally sustained an injury. Was it from the circular saw? Noooo. Was it the air compressed nail gun? Noooo. Was it the orbital sander? Noooo. Was it playing with rewiring some outlets? Noooo. It was... wait for it... a gash on my hand sustained when I was reaching for some frickin' SANDPAPER and I ran my hand into a piece of moulding!

I'll post some pictures this week. (Of the construction progress, not my horrible mangled and disfigured hand.)