Category Archives: tales from the family tree

I think I may have blinked too often.


is 18 years old today!

18, people!

In a lot of ways, it feels like this has snuck up on me somehow. Like every time I blinked, she grew a couple inches and a couple years. She’s no longer growing taller, but she still hasn’t agreed to stop getting older. Not that it was ever a real possibility, but a mother can dream.

Part of me is enjoying BB at this age. I’ve tried to enjoy all the ages, but some have been easier than others. I think I’ve almost gotten over that gut-wrenching instinct to bundle her up in bubble wrap and insert myself between her and the rest of the world. I think that’s partly due to her no longer being in high school marching band. That was an unnecessarily toxic environment (for which we all blame the high school’s concert band director). Now that she’s taking band at the community college (plus an additional course there each semester), things have improved a great deal. She’s no longer spending so much time in bully territory, and she’s gaining experience in an environment more conducive to learning and being who she wants to be.

BB has been tutoring at the elementary school nearest to her high school. She works with one first grade class three afternoons each week. She says it’s been very good for her depression (as service often is). The kids all call her “Miss BB” (except they use her actual name), and the teacher is very grateful to see her each time she comes. BB normally provides one on one assistance with math, and sometimes she confides to me that it can be frustrating working with kids whose light bulbs have yet to actually turn on. Some days she isn’t sure if some of the bulbs are even screwed in all the way yet, but it’s fun when the switch finally flicks to the “on” position. In the meantime, she’s learning patience and how to explain the same concept several different ways.

BB’s driving now, too. She just recently got her learner’s permit and has logged about three hours of behind-the-wheel practice so far — with her father, of course. I’ve been wisely forbidden to ride with her until she’s reached a certain level of competency. I’m completely on board with that plan.

For her main birthday present, Merkin hauled a giant army surplus ammo can in from the garage. It’s a time capsule we assembled during her first few years of life and saved for today. We filled it with little souvenirs like the hospital ID bands from the day she was born and her “Special Delivery by Dr. Irion” t-shirt (the first item of clothing she ever wore), various magazines and newspapers showing the world as it was in November 1998, a package of twinkies (which was, thankfully, more petrified than moldy), a copy of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (once owned by her great-grandfather on Merkin’s mother’s side) that was over 100 years old when we first added it to the capsule, a notebook containing messages from various friends and relatives — including some of the kids in Merkin’s Sunday school class that year…all sorts of crazy treasures. Her first pair of “Doh-tee shoes”, the sparkling ruby slippers from her Halloween costume that she loved so much (and I’d accidentally made so big) that she wound up wearing it for years and wore through five different pairs of Doh-tee shoes before finally packing it away, was near the top. There was also a McDonald’s Happy Meal bag with various non-perishable items from that particular lunch visit: placemat, napkin, fry bag, chicken nugget box, coffee stirrer with the restaurant’s logo on one end (We don’t drink coffee, but BB liked tiny things)…the toy was still in its original packaging. She wasn’t particularly interested in owning a plastic figure of Nickelodeon’s Doug when it was new, so I kept it in the bag with the paper products and the tiny pepper packets that BB seemed to find oddly fascinating tonight as she pointed out that each one had two, tiny separate compartments of the spice.

She took a couple of items from the time capsule with her to the Young Women’s meeting tonight, including a special edition of Teen People devoted to Prince William. She found it hilarious, and I’m sure all of the other girls will have a good laugh over it, too.

18 years ago, a newborn baby girl napped in the arms of whichever volunteer grandma won the arm wrestling competition in the maternity ward nursery that evening while her two new parents sat exhausted and shell-shocked and wondered what they had gotten themselves into. Now that baby girl is officially an adult with ideas and opinions and a basic plan for her immediate future and no idea what she’ll be doing in the long term. I imagine she might find herself lying in bed tonight and wondering what she’s gotten herself into agreeing to come down to this earth and live a whole life filled with choices and obstacles and all kinds of wonders she can’t even begin to anticipate. Or — and this is much more likely — she’ll eat an extra slice of chocolate pie (her birthday cake of choice this year), take a nice hot shower, and pick out one of her new anime t-shirts from Hot Topic for tomorrow’s wardrobe before wading through her disaster of a bedroom and climbing into bed to sleep the sleep of the unemployed and still dependent. Growing up can wait until at least the end of high school, right?


Back in the (figurative) saddle

BratzBasher and I returned from CA yesterday.  We spent two weeks with Great-Grandma (Is that hyphenated?  Oh well.) while Grandma and Grandpa were in Vancouver.  It was quite the vacation.  Ours, I mean.  I don’t presume to rate the grandparents’ trip.

We began and ended every day with Great-Grandma — from 8 am walks to 8 pm board games.  GG sure plays a mean Tri-ominos.  We played by the rules, and she creamed us twice.  BratzBasher got even when we broke out TransAmerica.  She sent GG and me off the track without even moving one space.

By far, the most exciting thing to happen to me was when I was refilling GG’s hummingbird feeders.  She has two, and the hummingbirds are very impatient.  They’ll buzz you while you’re pouring in the sugar water.  One day I was filling up the first feeder, and there was one of the cute, little beasts perched on the second feeder.  When I finished with the first feeder, I turned to the bird and said, “You need to move now so that I can fill that up.”  It didn’t move.  So I brought my finger up to lightly brush it under the tail.  I figured it would move before I ever touched it.  I was wrong.  It stayed put.  Then I couldn’t resist stroking its back.  Well, it moved then, but not before I found out that hummingbird feathers are silky soft.  Yeah, it was pretty awesome.

So BB and I had a great time with GG, going for walks (making sure that her path was not blocked by sweet gum balls or snails), shopping for chocolate chip cookies at the Dollar Tree (She keeps them in the fridge so they don’t go bad.), doing her hair (I managed not to make her look like the bride of Frankenstein.), playing games (all sorts), and watching “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Price is Right”.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that we celebrated her 89th birthday!

GG: I’m going to be 89.  Can you believe that?

Foo4: I want to be 89 someday.

GG: You do? (laughs)

She got two cakes: one from her Visiting Teacher and one from BB and me.  About halfway through both cakes, I asked her if she was getting tired of the stuff, and she said, “No, they’re good!”  She did offer us some from time to time, but I’d say she ate the lion’s share of them herself.  That’s as it should be.

We also got to meet up with a couple of my friends from high school.  One of them took us to the Huntington.  We walked through a good portion of the gardens and had tea (the meal, that is — BB and I ordered lemonade for our drinks) at the Rose Garden Tea Room.  It was very nice.

I’ve got some sewing projects lined up for the next couple of months.  First up: a pioneer costume for this year’s Youth Conference pioneer trek.  A mother in the ward has commissioned the dress for her daughter.  Then I’ve got jammies for the son of one of my CA friends.  Then I teach some sewing lessons to another girl in the ward.  I’m looking forward to that.  I also promised matching dresses for a brand new big sister and her baby sister (friends of ours).  I’m making them t-shirt dresses — adding a skirt to a t-shirt.  Super easy, but the highlight will be taking the big sister on a trip to the fabric store to pick out the skirt material.

It’s a good thing my new meds are working.  I’m back in love with sewing again.  Maybe I’ll actually get around to making that dress I bought that material for a couple of months ago.  I actually saw someone in my dad’s ward wearing a different dress made out of that same material.  I told her she did an awesome job.  She didn’t know whether to be flattered or miffed that people recognized that it was homemade.  I told her that I never would have guessed if I hadn’t purchased that exact material myself.  It really was a very well-made dress.  She looked wonderful.  I hope mine looks at least half as good.

Okay, it’s almost tomorrow.  I’m going to bed.  Lots to do, and I need my sleep.

But first, an educational snippet — courtesy of BratzBasher:

BB: Did you know that sharks have electric snot?

Foo4: No, I did not.

Merkin: That would make a great band name.  Electric Snot.

BB: What kind of music would they sing?

Foo4: Who cares?  With a name that cool, people will listen anyway.

Actually, I think I want a t-shirt that says “Electric Snot” on it.  It would have to have a list of beaches on the back — like cities where the concert played, but actually just places where sharks have been sighted.  Yeah.




My mom once told me a story that occurred early on in her and my dad’s marriage.  It was Dad’s turn to cook, and he decided to make broccoli fritters.  The cookbook had the recipe listed under appetizers, so Dad naturally decided he’d need to increase the amounts to make enough for a main course.  Well, as you can imagine, there was a surplus of fritters that hadn’t even made it to the fryer.  It fell to Mom, who was pregnant at the time (don’t know if it was with mad or lbs), to fry up the rest.  By the time she’d finished, she’d seen more than enough broccoli fritters to last her ten lifetimes, and she threw them all out. Despite my memories of my early years being sketchy to completely blank, I can safely, absolutely attest to the fact that I have never in my life had a broccoli fritter.  I’ve no doubt this incident played a major part in that.  I could have one now, though.  I’m sure they’re quite tasty in small doses.

Now, the reason I mention that story is because I now have a vague idea what Mom was thinking and feeling when she threw out all those broccoli fritters she’d just gone to the trouble of cooking.  After the Royal Cupcake War of Friday night, I’ve seen enough cupcakes to last me for quite a while — particularly the lemon ginger ones that I made, which were not that spectacular.  I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to throw out the small cake I made with the leftover batter, but I did freeze it for much later consumption or tossing.  I did throw out the two I’d brought home, plus another of someone else’s recipe that didn’t keep well in the fridge.

Despite cupcake overload, I had fun that night.  I had 1/4 to 1/2 of each type of cupcake (there were…let’s see…oh dear…nine kinds) so as to fairly judge my favorite.  My two top choices were the trifle (with custard filling, topped with strawberry jam and devonshire cream) and some chocolate concoction that featured a caramel filling.  I think it was based on toffee or treacle tart.

We watched the footage of the royal wedding that our hostess had recorded.  We mocked the ridiculous hats, fastforwarded through the boring parts, and expressed our gratefulness for the shortness of mormon weddings.  I can’t imagine having to sit through an entire church service after my wedding ceremony.  And the anthem that someone wrote in honor of their nuptials  (a wedding present) was quattro fromage, in my opinion.  I later told Merkin that I was dubious of the sincerity of the commentator who declared the Ferguson girls looked “regal”, but he assured me that “regal” was British for “inbred”.  I’m sure they don’t always look so…um…yeah, but they certainly did that day.  Very unflattering dresses, hideous hats, and a walk that suggested one of them had never worn heels in her life (or was actually a man in drag) did not help their appearance any.

Well, I’ve got to get moving, or I’ll never do anything with myself today.