Welcome to Cougartown

Birthday, Christmas prep, more Christmas prep, FINAL Christmas prep, Christmas, post-Christmas decompress—and, uh, throw in a few hundred thousand calories for good measure—and here I am.

Currently I'm holed up in my home office with The Dingo and my space heater, taking a breather before I think about gearing up for New Year's Eve, New Year's Day... and, GOD HELP US, Saturday's arrival of a card-carrying, hormone-raging, could-I-care-any-less-or-piss-you-off-any-more-today-Mom TEENAGER. (Wipe that smile off your face and pray for me.)

And, since I'm too anal-retentive to do anything out of order, there can be no posts about our lovely Christmas holiday until I dish about one of the most fantastic things I've ever done for myself: My 40th birthday bash at Salt Lake City's swanky Hotel Monaco, complete with cocktails, cupcakes, frosting "shots," 25 of the most amazing chicks I know... and one lone Cougar, shaking her moneymaker (clad in $178 jeans) on top of a piano to Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar on Me.

Before anyone strokes out or calls my bishop, said Cougar remained FULLY and MODESTLY CLOTHED, did not attempt any hyper-gyrating... and no animals were harmed during the performance.

And no, we will NOT be cueing up the video of that performance here, or anywhere... right Candie? :)

All right, all right... without further delay, here's a run-down of the extravaganza:


I made nametags for every girl; I wrote something special about each girl as well, not only as an ice-breaker among those who didn't know one another, but also as a small gesture of affection for each of these amazing women I am privileged to call my friends!

I guess it's the writer in me, but I had some other little placards around for kicks and giggles... along with naming every cupcake and frosting shot (which I'll explain more in a bit), I made one that explained my choice of party favor (above), and another poking fun at the persnickety postage problems I had with the invitations (below).

Here's a shot of the side table with the nametags, along with a collection of cheeky napkins that I loved... my favorite said: "Enough with the DAMN juice boxes, Mommy needs a COCKTAIL." I think that sums it up quite nicely, don't you?

The view from my fabulous 15th-floor suite at the Hotel Monaco... seriously, can it get any better than this? (BTW, the answer is NO, NO IT CANNOT.) It was hard not to get distracted by the view while we were hustling and bustling to get ready for the evening...

The food and beverage tables, all ready for the guests to arrive. Ta-da!

My sisters, Christine and Candie, worked their little fannies off to make sure everything was perfect... they're the hottest domestic goddesses you'll ever meet! Christine is also a super-talented photographer, and she took all the photos you're seeing (except this one)... and YES, it's utterly exhausting to try and keep up with such overacheiving kinfolk.

Speaking of hot domestic goddesses, here's the one who made all my confectionary dreams come true that night: Confectionista Alison Bent prepared a collection of cupcakes and frosting shots fit for a 40-year-old princess and all her princess friends! Love ya girl!

So, I have to include photos of Alison's sweet creations! I gave each cupcake flavor a girl's name, because it seemed like a cute idea... and, you know, I didn't have enough to do. :) Here are some of the luscious "ladies" who made an appearance:
Summer (strawberry)

Scarlett (vanilla/cranberry)

Coco (self-explanatory, right?)

Wendy (peanut butter & marshmallow)

Clementine (vanilla/orange)

Violet (purple velvet)

As if the cupcakes themselves aren't gorgeous enough...
even the cupcake liners make a fashion statement!

The frosting shots had names as well...

Patti (peppermint)

Ella (nutella)

Rita (raspberry margarita)

I didn't want to upstage the decadent cuppies, so I kept the cocktails simple:

1969 La Grande Dame Champagne mocktail,
featuring flutes with white chocolate-dipped, gold-sugared rims

Zebra Martinis: Gold-sugared rims, hand-piped chocolate zebra pattern inside the glasses...
and ice cold milk to wash down all the cupcakes!

What a fun mocktail bar!

And then, of course, if you were the designated driver that evening... :)

Yes, the suite was SWEET, and the menu was even sweeter... but for me, the very best part about the entire evening was having almost all of my very favorite women in the same room at the same time. I couldn't have asked for a better gift! I cherish each one of these ladies for the light they bring to my life, and the fact that they would make time during the holiday season to celebrate with me... well, I was walking on SUNSHINE! I was literally beaming for DAYS and DAYS after this night, and these pictures should help explain why:

This is what happens when Mormon girls have WAY too much sugar and sparkling white grape juice spiked with... GINGER ALE.

So, here I am with two of my BFF's, Camme and Emily... there's a bit of backstory behind this photo (that's a whole different post), but what you REALLY need to see is the photo snapped right before we're standing here, looking pretty for our picture:

What can I say... when you're as old as we are, you've gotta make some... uh, adjustments... before you get your picture taken.

I don't know what it was about that ottoman... let's just say it prompted some suggestive behavior that's better left to the imagination. Liz seems to be the one in question in this particular photo... but I have 37 shots of Emily on that ottoman, and I can't post A. SINGLE. ONE. because this is, more or less, a family show.
(Just kidding, Em... mostly.)

I have only one explanation for this:
All the Single Ladies by Beyonce.

Me, Nikki G and Sandra... we're fixin' to shake our groove thang...

And off we go to Funkytown!

Sandra was doing her fantastic Domo-Morigato-Mister-Roboto off camera, and Nicole and I were still shakin' our moneymakers with Beyonce. No matter where Nicole is, if the place is rockin' she can't resist bustin' a move. Love your guts, "SexyBack" Gratzinger!

Um, Christine? Did you swap your "mocktail" for something a bit stronger?
And why didn't you share??

So, it was time to take the plunge and do some shots, and the girls let me have first crack. Emily's all: "KHo, ease up on that suction and DO NOT eat the cup!!"

Dude, I'm just gonna say it... freebasing frosting is FRIGGIN' AWESOME!!!

Ok, it's a little indulgent (conceited? delusional?) to post this photo... but I have to give some play to THE JEANS I bought for the party that night. They were fabulously spendy, and fabulous PERIOD... and quite frankly, the junk in my trunk will probably never look this good ever again, so why not? Plus, Christine will be thrilled that I used this photo, since she took about 12 pictures of my ars that night... hope you're happy sis!


The gang's all here... look at all these gorgeous girls! Am I lucky or what?

"Staci and Rachel, my sister just won't stop taking pictures... look, there she is again! Do you think I should get a restraining order on her?"

Chittter-chatter with the chicks...

Just can't get enough of my girls...


Friends 4Life: Nicole, Sandra, Lesley
My BFF's from the 'hood, also affectionately known as The Drama Club:
Kristi, Kristin, Camme, Liz & Emily

My sisters! Christine, Candie, Kristen & Deanna

My other sisters, from the Relief Society (basically all my girlfriends from my ward/neighborhood): Kristi, Heidi, Camme, Staci, Rachel, Lori, Emily, Liz, Kristin

Oh look, more super fun girlfriends! Kristi T., Sheridan, and Alison

So... my parting shot has to be this one:
Christine, thank you SO MUCH for capturing the joy and elation I felt that evening! I was truly giddy, and SO grateful that so many of my dearest friends were able to help me celebrate an important milestone in my life... one that I welcome with open arms because, to be honest, I've never been happier in my life than I am right now.
40 really is fabulous, and I'm thrilled to be the newest resident of Cougartown!


40 Times Around the Sun

Hide your frat boys...
the COUGAR has arrived!

(This photo cracks me up, so I had to open with it... and there's plenty more where that came from, although none are quite as ridiculous as this one. I'll be posting the photos from my birthday party very soon!)

Well, it's finally happened... the Big Four-Oh has officially pulled up in my driveway, gotten out of the car and is hammering, incessantly beating, on my door. I've been trying to ignore it… but, guess what, friends?


So this weekend, I finally flung the door open and said: "Hey, Middle Age! How the heck are ya? Come on in... would you like anything? A Metamucil cocktail? A giant bottle of Boniva? Some neck cream? A hemorrhoid cushion? I’ve got news for you, Ms. Age… we've got none of that old lady crap here, so you can SUCK IT!!"

I thought my 40th birthday blog post would be a massive, introspective thing—and it's still tempting because, you know, massive introspective things are my thing—but I'm going to mix things up a little and keep this short and sweet:

On my 30th birthday, I wrote a journal entry... one that hurts my heart to read now. The bright spot in my life was my three-year-old little boy, a brown-eyed miracle who was my whole world... but the rest of the entry describes dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams. You can feel the disappointment of a woman who felt she hadn't done much with her life, who didn't know who she was, and who didn't know how to fix it.

What a difference a decade makes. The pain, the heartache, the mistakes... and the peace, the joy, the contentment. Oh, how different things are now than they were then.

Four years after writing that dismal journal entry, I let go of a big part of the life I had... namely, being married to Ty's dad and everything that came with it... in an effort to find the life I wanted. I walked away from someone I loved, in the hopes of finding someone else who I wanted desperately to love: Myself. It was not—I repeat, NOT—an easy decisionto make, but I made it.

And there were lots of other difficult decisions to come... and, wouldn't you know it, lots and lots of life lessons I needed to learn. It was the gamble of my life... and, THANK YOU GOD, it paid off.

On the eve of my 40th time around the sun, I'm oh-so-happy to report that, over the course of the past 10 years, I found myself. I know exactly who I am. And you know what? I LOVE who I am, inside and out, and I love my life.

I can't think of anything to say that can top that... so I'll just say Happy Happy Happy 40th Birthday to me!

And now, I'm off to apply my neck cream... don't tell Middle Age, ok?


Honestly, where does she find the thyme?

We went to my sister Candie's house for dinner last night... And before I tell you about that dish, here's the dish you need to know first.

Candie is an AMAZING cook/baker/entertainer. She is CULINARIAN AMPLIFIED... like, if Martha Stewart hit the crack pipe and chased it with a 12-pack of Red Bulls before she even sauteed the onions. To say that Candie channels Martha would not only be an understatement (and a dreadful cliche), it would be inaccurate... for, truth be told, Martha actually channels Candie.

As it happens, Candie's twin, Christine, is also an Einstein of all things edible. Three years ago she made me some grilled scallops that I still dream about to this very day. (Yep, that good.) Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, Rachael Ray and any other Food Network hack can SUCK IT... because the real deal is related to me, and they live in West Bountiful and Seattle.

Me? I ride the short bus to the grocery store and make a beeline for all aisles marked "Food Items for Those Who Cry at the Thought of Boiling Water."

True story: One time Candie came to my house for dinner... I know, SCARY AND STUPID. But having been properly trained in the fine art of hostessing, I asked her well in advance which flavor of Ramen Noodles her family liked the best—after all, I would never want anyone to be disappointed.

ANYWAY... while putting together the side dish she brought, she asked if she could borrow my garlic press.

K: "My what?"

C: "Your garlic press."

K: "Uh... what does a garlic press look like?"

C: [Pause] "Does that mean you don't have one?"

K: "Not necessarily... I might have been given one once and not known what it was for, so I don't know if I have one or not." (Sadly, this was absolutely true—you could have easily convinced me that a carburetor from a 1972 Plymouth Duster was a garlic press.)

C: [Extended pause, coupled with dejected headshaking] Ok, where is your utensil drawer? I'll look and see if you have one.

I did not, in fact, have a garlic press, and I don't know what horrified her more: That I didn't own one, or that I wouldn't have known what it was if I did. Ashamed and appalled, I bought a garlic press the next week and put it in my utensil drawer. It's still never been used—and it's clearly labeled in case I forget what the hell it is—but if my sister is ever in the neighborhood and has some garlic that desperately needs pressing, I'M. ALL. SET.

Where was I, now? Oh yeah... dinner at Candie's.

Her food is always excellent... but last night, in honor of my upcoming birthday, she pulled out all the stops and made a SPECIAL CULINARY EXTRAVAGANZA, which I am going to describe for you now.

DISCLAIMER: Have a bib, dropcloth or bucket handy for inevitable hypersalivation.

Filet Mignon Crustinis: Crusty, toasted baguette slices slathered with a thick sauce made from carmelized onions, light sour cream and fresh thyme, then layered with thin slices of filet and sprinkled with bleu cheese crumbles. (This was actually a recipe of Christine's, one that Candie had been dying to make... and she executed it flawlessly.)

Fancy Schmancy Mashed Potatoes: Not your average Tupperware bowl of taters. Candie put them in a pastry bag and piped them into perfect little potato blossoms on our plates. (I. AM. NOT. KIDDING.)

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad: A tangy balsamic broth with little orbs of herbed mozzarella paired with teeny-tiny tomatoes... no, not cherry tomatoes, but I don't know what kind they were. (See? SHORT BUS.) Possibly grape tomatoes? I just know they were THE SHIZ.

Spaghetti Squash: Golden, tender and oh-so-buttery, a perfect complement to the rest of the meal.

And now brace yourself for...

The To-Die-For Dessert: Individual trifles featuring layers of dulce de leche cake, Dove dark chocolate mousse, fresh strawberries, homemade whipped cream and Dove dark chocolate shavings.

Um... yeah.

I'll give you a few minutes to digest all that... and while you do, I'll rattle off the questions that went through my mind as I was partaking of this glorious meal, in this general order:

"Was she expecting someone else besides us? Like, perhaps, the Queen of England?"

"Is there a dress code? Should we go home and change back into our church clothes?"

"Did they have to take out a second mortgage on their house to pay for this meat?"

"Is she SERIOUSLY going to pipe those mashed potatoes onto my plate?" [She SERIOUSLY did!]

"What kind of tomatoes are these?"

"Where on Earth do you get fresh, sweet strawberries this time of year?"

"Where do you find fresh thyme in the grocery store? What does it even look like?? Does it come in a bag, or in a bunch, or on a branch? How can you tell it apart from cilantro or beet greens or a Chia Pet?"

"Why oh why OH WHY can't dessert be void of all fat-inducing consequence in this life??"

So mind-blowing, this meal... and SO incredibly flattering that my sister would go out of her way to prepare it for me. I honestly don't know where she finds the time—or the thyme—but I thank her from the bottom of my (happy tummy) heart for tracking them both down.

And, I admit, Candie has inspired me to broaden my own culinary horizons. It's true! Next time she comes to my house for dinner, I am TOTALLY jazzing up the Ramen with some freshly-pressed garlic.


Shiny New Doors

For our Thanksgiving family outing D, T and I went to see The Blind Side on Monday evening. I have read several reviews about the film since then, and many critics lead off with: "This is a feel-good football movie that..."

BLAM. I'm automatically disgusted.

In my mind, the person who would call The Blind Side a football movie is also the obtuse/lazy/self-absorbed person who would stand inside the Sistine Chapel and go, "It's cool, I guess... but why did Michaelangelo have to paint the ceiling?" Somehow, somehow, they're tripped up by the trivial and completely miss the beauty and nobility of what they're seeing.

For someone like me, there's not a CHANCE. IN. HELL. that the true message of this film was gonna get away. For someone like me, this story invokes a present-life appreciation with as much voltage as if you plastered my body with electrodes and hooked me up to the NiCad battery in Fairbanks, AK. (No frame of reference for this one? Here you go.)

A movie like this generates a sense of gratitude so amplified that it borders on the maniacal... because for someone like me, watching The Blind Side was like seeing a long-ago life of my own unfold on the screen.

I watched as the homeless Michael "Big Mike" Oher, no doubt wearied by aimless wandering, slowly lumbers his way to an all-night laundromat to sit and wait out another night—and I almost had a complete emotional breakdown right there in the theater because, although I was never technically homeless... [deep breath]... ok, here goes... I was a kid who, in a nutshell, lost her mother to cancer and her father to a seedy bar on the other side of town, and was basically left to fend for herself.

So... there are no words, none whatsoever, to describe my emotions as Michael sat in that dingy laundromat, unable to escape the fact that he belonged nowhere and to nobody. The most suitable word I can find to fit is heartbroken... I was truly heartbroken watching that scene, because for four years I felt the same waves of palpable despair, uncertainty and loneliness that he must have felt... I was submerged in those waves more times than I care to think about now.

And then Leigh Anne Touhy meets Michael for the first time, on a chilly Thanksgiving Eve. It was a no-nonsense exchange, almost a confrontation, where she looks up—WAY up—at him and says: "Don't you lie to me, now... do you have somewhere to sleep tonight?" Michael shakes his head and Leigh Anne, who wasn't going to stand for that, extends her arm and simply replies: "All right, then. Come on."

The compassion was automatic, the altruism borderline impulsive... I mean honestly, how crazy is that? Crazy enough to forever change the trajectory of five people's lives and, in turn, create a bona-fide miracle borne from human kindness.

And what would the impact be if each of us exercised benevolence with the same audacity and recklessness, even if it was only one time in our whole lives?

That, my friends, is what this movie is about.

The Touhys extended their arms, their home and their hearts, but I'll let you in on what the Touhys really did: They took Michael by the hand, led him to a clean, shiny door—one that led to the opportunity to live a better life—stood with him on the threshold and, with big grins on their faces, said: "Go ahead... open it!"

When the life you've been living is one of sorrow and hopelessness—one with very little chance that you'll escape it alive and intact, much less happy and well-adjusted—there is simply no greater gift you'll ever receive than that door. You can trust me on that one... because Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy were beaten to the punch by Bob and Carla Dirk.

In March of 1981, my father finally drank himself into an early grave and left behind the tattered remains of his life, including his three children. For a few months my sisters and I were bounced around to relatives, all of whom bickered over who was going to be saddled with raising us (nobody wanted the job). And then, on July 1, 1981, Bob and Carla scooped up my sisters and me, drove us across the country to their home, and parked us in front of our own clean, shiny new door.

Nearly 30 years later, it still astounds me to know that Michael Oher's miracle happened to me, too.

My mother and I have discussed this several times over the years; I've tried to get her to confess how difficult it really must have been—that she and my dad surely must have had buyer's remorse at some point. Seriously, how gonzo do you have to be not to second-guess adopting an unruly 11-year-old and her six-year-old twin sisters?? Her answer has always been the same:

"Well... it was a pretty simple decision, really. We just knew it was the right thing to do... which was confirmed by how easily it all fell into place. We couldn't imagine our lives any other way, and wouldn't want to."

Certifiably Insane, table for two? Right this way, please, inside the padded cell. Enjoy.

On this chilly Thanksgiving Eve, I am overwhelmed by the blessing of good health; by the love I feel from my Savior, my husband, my son, my family and my dearest friends; by the satisfaction of a career that I thoroughly enjoy, and that affords me to live in circumstances I would've never dreamed possible as a child. There are a grundle of other tender mercies too extensive to name here... but what you need to know is that I wouldn't have any of them, not a single one, without the two items permanently engraved at the top of my List of Things I Am Grateful For Beyond Any Rational and/or Describable Level:

Charity-deranged parents, and a shiny new door.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.


40 Years of Serious "Street" Cred

This year I am turning 40. As in FOUR-OH MY HELL HOW IS IT THAT I'M THIS OLD ALREADY???

But that's another post for another time... sometime in the next 34 days.

In the meantime, I will share this: In an effort to distract myself from the realization that my life is half over, I've made a game out of finding other people/cool events/monumental stuff that turns 40 this year as well. The entire list will appear in the aforementioned "different post"... but there was no way I could let today go by without paying giddy, giggly homage to what is BY FAR the absolute best thing I share my birthday year with.

Happy birthday to SESAME STREET, which aired its first episode exactly 40 years ago today!

How can I express my gratitude to Maria for teaching me how to count to 10 in Spanish? How can I show my appreciation to the silhouettes that taught me how to sound out words? How can I ever thank Grover for helping me channel my inner superhero?

Today I give mad props to a show that instilled in me an early love of letters and words, a love that continues to this day... a show that taught me kindness matters most (remember the seventh son of the Alligator King?)... a show where I learned that bakers are clumsy, pinball is awesome, and grouches are sometimes nice...

Today, with enough nostalgia to choke an imaginary woolly mammoth, I pay happy tribute to a show that taught me how to count -- and, more importantly, taught me that everyone counts in this world, no matter what color they are, where they're from or if they're different than I am.

Below are one... two... (count with me)... three... four... five of my favorite Sesame Street clips... my way of showing love for the peeps from the ultimate 'hood. Long live Big Bird, Bert & Ernie and the gang -- nobody has more "Street" cred in my book!

Clip#1: OneTwoThreeFourFive, SixSevenEightNineTen, ElevenTwelve!!
Pinball, groovy song and counting... you know you're diggin' it.

These aliens, a.k.a. the Yip Yips, have always cracked me up. Even now there are times that I have to suppress a giggle when the phone rings, because I often think of the Yip Yips hovering over that rotary phone, blurting: BRRRRRRRIIIIINGGG! One of the funniest segments on SS for me... yipyipyipyipyip!!

Clip #3: The first rave ever, brought to you by SOME, ALL and NONE
My boss and good friend Matt reminded me of this one and, after watching it a few times, I decided it was definitely postworthy. A super-silly-yet-simple way to teach some, none and then all, where the scene takes on a rave-like vibe. A muppet rave? Dude, I'm ALL over that!

Clip #4: Oh, that adorable John-John
He was and still is my favorite little non-muppet. Here's John-John helping Bert work through some of his feelings... and when he shows us his happy face, I just wanna put some sugar on those cheeks and eat 'em!

Clip #5: The Alligator King
This SS cartoon is the one I remember most vividly... the images, and the moral of the story, have always just stuck with me.

This post was brought to you by the letter K... and the number 40. :)


The Artful Rogers

Last week my mom and I headed to Seattle for a couple of days to see my 11-year-old nephew, Jack Rogers, perform his first lead role in a musical. This is actually his fourth musical in as many years, but the first time he's landed the lead role... and we all knew it was only a matter of time.

By the time Jack was two, he was the best actor in the family (and believe me, he's got some pretty stiff competition). By the time he was four, he could sing... and I mean SING. Like, perfectly-on-pitch-not-a-note-out-of-place-Simon-Cowell-can-SUCK-IT sing. Right then and there I started socking away money for airfare to New York because, when Jack makes his Broadway debut, you can be sure I'll be watching it from fifth-row center.

So Jack landed the role of Oliver in Oliver, which is super cool... but the story gets even cooler.

My twin sisters, Christine (Jack's mom) and Candie, were the performers of the family growing up. They were always singing and dancing and making up little routines... and they were twins to boot, which cranked up the Adorable Factor off the charts. Seriously, if I had a nickel for every time my mom made them sing "Babyface" or a Buddy Holly song, I would be typing this on my solid gold computer while barking orders to the butler, the governess and the chef in my winter home on Maui.

Anyhoo... when the twins were eight years old they appeared in their first musical... which, as it turns out, was Oliver. Kind of a full-circle moment, right?


Right before the musical opened, one of the women in the adult chorus had to quit the show. Christine attended every rehearsal with Jack, so she knew all the songs, the blocking, the choreography... and the director asked her if she would step in and join the cast. Of course she was thrilled!

THAT made it a full-circle moment... Christine reprising her role while Jack made his mark in the lead role. And my mom and I sat and watched with pride and joy as this full-circle moment unfolded, scene after scene.

I reveled in Jack's spot-on Cockney accent, and bristled every time adults pushed and shoved him around, which was quite a bit. (Yeah, I knew it wasn't real, but still... keep your mangy paws off him!) I watched him link arms with the Artful Dodger and sashay across the stage belting out "Consider yourself... at home!" I watched my sister sing and dance with as much effervescence as she had when she was eight. I watched mother and son exchange quick, smiling glances whenever they crossed one another on stage.

Best of all, I watched my nephew stand on that stage all by himself and sing his big solo, "Where is Love." The bravery! The innocence! The talent radiating from this smart, quirky kid like a full-tilt high beam! My mom cried, and I stared at Jack the whole time thinking to myself:

"Ladies and gentlemen, that is one damn fine singing orphan."

Unlike Oliver, at that moment I knew exactly where love was: In a hundred-year-old theater house in Everett, Washington, watching the people I love doing something they love... and KILLING IT.

Bravo, Artful Rogers! Bravo!

Christine, Mom, Me & Oliver... I mean, Jack :)



I don't know what's worse... that it's been almost a month since I posted, or that my first post in almost a month would be about, after all this time, THE ZIT again.

I know a few of you had serious gag reflex from the last entry, so I'll make this brief: About a week ago, and the day before I was taking Ty to the doctor to formally diagnose what I had finally decided was a tumor, he managed to pop it. I wasn't there when he did it, but apparently it was an experience not unlike Armageddon: Pus, blood, tears, pain. It's on the mend now, but I'm kind of worried about it leaving a mark.

SUPER. As if adolescence doesn't already leave a mark, right?

Anyway... for those who were left hanging in horrified-yet-curious suspense about this subplot in our lives, you now have closure. Let's hope the skin on Ty's nose gets it, too. :)


Zits and Pits

[Editor's Note: The following post contains material that is accurately depicted by its title. If you are pregnant, nursing, may become pregnant or have a hyperactive gag reflex, please consult your doctor before reading.]

Tyler has a monster zit. ON HIS NOSE. And it's been there for ALMOST A MONTH.

We all know that zits are just one of many horrible rites of passage into adolesence:

"Hello, and welcome to Adolesence. After you fill out these forms, please proceed to the next station where you'll up your Acne Pack... then move forward to the the Body Hair Kiosk. After that, you'll continue down a long hallway to the Body Odor Wing (it's a separate wing for obvious reasons). Your last stop is the Hormone Supercenter, where you'll get juiced up with our special cocktail that includes: Foul-Temperedness, Awkward Bumbling with Adults, General Apathy and Disinterest, Self-consciousness and, every mother's favorite, Mouthiness. Enjoy your stay!"

Apparently T's Acne Pack included one of those big, red numbers that glows in the dark and lives underground for days on end, and only seems to get bigger and redder. Most of us know what the life cycle of a zit should be, even these beauties... but I'm telling you, this one has transcended FAR beyond that cycle.

After many days with no whitehead in sight, we sterilized a needle and I made him take a couple of stabs at it, just to see if we could stir things up a bit. He didn't want to, but I didn't care—by then it was in such a state of crimson bloatedness that Rudolph himself would've laughed and called him names! So against his will, and under my close supervision, a pokin' we did go.

It semed to help—a day or two later he managed to pop it—but the red blister, while definitely more deflated, remains to this very day. At this point I don't know whether I should call a dermatologist or a priest... but the exorcism looks more promising with each passing day. (BTW, if you're wondering if he was sporting it for school pictures... of course, my friends, of course. Could it happen any other way?)

And while we're on the subject of the joys of puberty...

Last weekend I was in my room reading—minding my own business, not bothering anyone— when T appeared and proudly announced that he has armpit hair. He had just taken a shower, so he had a towel wrapped around his waist... and just in case his declaration wasn't scary enough, he threw his arms up in the air and leaned in so I, too, could behold the tender sprouts—all nine of them.

I tried to be enthusiastic, but I think I came off as mortified. Even Dave cried TMI on that one, which was Tyler's cue to start cracking jokes about combing and braiding it.

Seriously, people... there's only so much testosterone-laden puberty humor a mother can take.



I live with mumblers. I don't know how or why that happened to me, of all people, but I do.

"Ty, do you have your homework done?"


"Dave, what time will you be back from your meeting?"


D and T insist they don't mumble—at least, I think that's what they're saying to me when I accuse them of it 17 times a day—but THEY DO, and their vocal gobbedlygook drives me full-tilt bonkers sometimes.

Last night we went to the first U of U football game of the season... which was fun (we won!), but kind of annoying. Try attending a sporting event, featuring marching bands and commentators and a gazillion Ute fans screaming their guts out, with my two mumblers.

"What was that call, hon? I didn't see the end of the play, what was the call?"






What. A. Night. Mare.

At one point last night D looked me in the eye, leaned in (I guess he wanted to make sure I heard this particular statement), and said: "I'm not going to speak louder just so you can hear me... you're just going to have to listen better."

Um... Excuse me? What was that?

COULD YOU REPEAT THAT? (I dare you, in fact, to repeat it.)

I was tempted to explain that just because dolphins and owls and his own mind can hear him doesn't mean that I can. I also wanted to remind him that my hearing is severely compromised, thanks to 40 years of listening to my own clamorous, resounding,
"someone-please-tell-Kareen-that-she's-in-a-restaurant-not-a-windtunnel" vociferations. (Do you people honestly think I'm not self-aware?)

Instead of doing all that, I did what any good wife does: Rolled my eyes and went back to watching the game.

It's not any easier to get T to speak up. He's not comprehensible until I say "What did you say?" five times. Yep, it takes five repeats before he's coherent enough for me to understand. FIVE.


If living with mumblers is Karma's idea of a practical joke on someone whose "indoor voice" got left behind in the vaginal canal at birth... well, you can suck it, Karma. You are NOT funny, not one little bit. DO YOU HEAR ME?!?!?!



Yes, friends, our saga that is The Athletic Cup continues. Hard to believe, isn't it?

So, you'll recall my post from a few weeks ago (read it here) regarding our search for the proper athletic protection for Tyler... and how heee-larious the guys thought they were as they snapped pictures of the WALL O' CUPS at the sporting goods store.

Well, if they wouldn't have been so busy creating that Kodak moment, perhaps one of them would have noticed the absolute GINORMITY of the cup they purchased.

The first time I got a good look at the cup was the first time Ty wore it to practice; he came home and said that it was like wearing a frying pan in his pants. I told him to bust it out, so I could see what we were dealing with.

Sha-ZAM! Out it came from his pants to the table… and immediately I thought of Hercules, Samson and The Incredible Hulk.

It was WAY. TOO. BIG. I couldn't decide if they had picked up the wrong one by accident, or they had just not paid attention... or if I had somehow instilled in Tyler a positive body image so powerful that it extended far beyond reality...

Forget the frying pan. If it were heat-resistant I could boil a pot of spaghetti for 12 in that thing.

The next day I purchased and brought home a slightly smaller, considerably narrower model. Ty says the new version is much better, although it's still not the most comfortable accessory in the world (which is now more of a getting-used-to situation).

As for the Team Goliath protection: We can’t return it, because Ty already used it. Dave says he’s going to wear it to the Utah games in case Coach Whit calls him down and has him run a few plays. (The dreams of middle-aged men are precious.) Most likely it will just sit in Ty’s drawers—meaning his dresser—for a few years until he… uh… grows into it.

In the meantime, perhaps we can find some other uses for it—like when we have company over for dinner. Hope you like pasta!


That Darn Cat

I read an article recently about communicating with your teenager (a little research couldn't hurt, right?), and the author made an interesting analogy between younger and older children.

Babies, toddlers and younger children are like puppies: You can hug them and kiss them and love on them forever, and they eat it up... they just can't get enough affection/attention.

In contrast, pre-teens and teenagers are like cats: They avoid you most of the time, every once in a while they might seek you out... but it's always on their own terms, never yours. AND THERE IS NO TOUCHING OF ANY KIND.

First let me say that I think this author is right on the money with this analogy... which is unfortunate, because I'm not terribly fond of cats. I mean, they're ok, but I've always been a dog-lover and have never had the urge to own a cat. Ever. I've never liked their "kiss-off, I'm too good for you" attitude... they don't seem especially fun and/or playful... and they could care less when you want someone to sit with you and watch the latest episode of Project Runway.

(At this point I would like to give a shout out to The Dingo, who always watches TV with me. He'll watch anything, too... even the Real Housewives of Atlanta. He sits right next to me while those crazy women holler and pull on each other's artificial hair in restaurants, and he never judges me.)


Now this lady's telling me that, thanks to a hormonal tsunami, my cute little canine is gone and, congratulations, you're the proud owner of a persnickety, hissing feline.

That's. Just. Awesome.

Since I wasn't fully aware of the magnitude of this transormation until now, it's logical to assume that I was making some of the cardinal mistakes people make when trying to... uh, talk to their cat. Actually, I was making MOST of the cardinal mistakes. But I'm aware now, and I'm working on it.

I'm trying not to make every conversation feel like I've led Tyler to a dark cellar with a single chair in the middle of the room, armed with a high-voltage spotlight (here, kitty kitty kitty...). I'm trying to take in stride behavior that's perfectly normal for a teenager, but at times does a tap dance on my last nerve. I'm trying to give him space without completely removing myself from the loop... I am still the mother of this hairball-spewer, after all.

And I will try... ugh, this is so hard for me, CONTROL FREAK NUMBER ONE... I will try to let him make his own choices, even if they aren't the choices that I think would make his life easier. I've realized that it's counter-intuitive for a parent to abstain from protecting their child, both from the world and from themselves. But even stronger than that realization is my general philosophy about parenting: If you're doing it right, you work yourself right out of a job.

I have to let him falter and fail, I know that. I know that. But it's much easier said than done because, as it turns out... I love that darn cat.


Welcome to Junior High

Tyler's still willing to humor his mother and pose for a photo on the first day of school; here he is on Friday, before catching the bus to his big new adventure. School doesn't officially begin until Monday the 24th, but the "sevvies" go a day early so they can find their way around the school on their own, without the 8th graders (which I think is a great idea).
Of course, I was on pins and needles the whole day... and when he called me after school, I became the embodiment of the Spanish Inquisition:
"How was the bus ride? Did they have a big orientation? Did you make it to all your classes ok? How were your teachers? Do you have any friends in your classes? So, ARE YOU GOING TO BE OKAY???"
His answers:
"Fine. Yep. Yep. Fine. Yep. YES MOM, I'M GOING TO BE FINE. I'm gonna go check my Facebook, ok?"
Welcome to junior high.