Monday, March 31, 2008

the silver screen

Despite being married to a film teacher, I don't watch a lot of movies. I am really picky about what I do watch. There are a lot of bad films out there, as in: just poorly written, or not very well executed, or simply bad in the moral sense-it's just better not to watch them.

But when I do watch a movie, it's fun to watch them with Ben, because we can discuss the technical aspects, etc. Once upon a time Ben and I sat down to watch a movie that got rave reviews from a lot of people: I was horrified by the (lack of) morals it portrayed, but I think Ben was more horrified by the editing techniques.

That said, Ben and I watched a few movies this week. We finally got around to seeing Enchanted. (The movie theater waits for no busy mom, even if she intends to get there). Let's be clear: this movie was really aimed at girls like me, girls who grew up watching the Disney classic princess tales of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, and are now old enough to be nostalgic about them. But, it worked. I was much more taken with the movie than either of my girls were.

There were some rough patches with the story; though the second time I watched it, those things were less noticeable. What I found most jarring was Susan Sarandon as the Evil step-mother. Her voice is just too well known, and she didn't alter it enough for me to stop thinking "It's Marmee as the Wicked Witch!" Her character would have been better cast with someone a little more obscure. I did love the ending with the two girls essentially switching places. And, at the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I would have liked two weddings, and not just one.

The other movie we saw was a film Ben edited, called Happy Valley. It's a documentary about drug abuse, focusing on prescription pain-killer addiction and the like, and it takes place here in Utah. It's playing in theaters this week, so if you're in-state, you should catch it. It's an eye-opener. These kinds of problems are all through-out the country, not just Utah; although Utah is the film's focus.

Take some kleenex. There are some emotional moments as you hear about families who have dealt with this issue.

Friday, March 28, 2008

rituals ~ re-post

Editor's note: Tomorrow is my sweet boy's second birthday. Where does the time go? This re-post is for him.

Tomorrow I have to go to my doctor's office and drink that gaggy orange drink they make you guzzle in order to figure out if you have gestational diabetes. I am supposed to take it easy on the sugar today as to not induce a false reading, which is why I am currently eating sorbet before starting the required fast at midnight. I wish I were braver, like my mother, who simply refused to take the test. I don't have gestational diabetes. But I'm going to gulp down the hyper-sugared soda anyway, because the doctor says so, and it's what you do.

It's funny the things we do that create patterns. Exercises, requirements, necessary forms to fill out that make a structure for our lives. Some of these are imposed by others for our own good, or for order, or for our money
(standing in line to get my motor vehicle registration comes to mind), who knows exactly why. But there are some things we do over and over that are not forced upon us by someone else. They are things that we choose for ourselves.

Almost every night I put my son down to sleep in his little bed in my room. He knows that after we have read stories with his sisters and tucked them in that soon it will be his turn. My room is not his final resting place, thank goodness. He sleeps in the same room with said sisters but I don't put him in his crib at first because it always takes the girls awhile to fall asleep. Innocent boy that he is, he hasn't yet learned the fun of staying up and awake in the dark, and I don't want him to learn that yet (or ever, for that matter, but it's kind of inevitable). So I take him into my room and lay him down and pull his blanket over him. I tell him I love him and that I'll be back in awhile to carry him up to bed, and then I turn off the lamp and shut the door, and he goes to sleep.

Ben has offered to carry the little guy up to bed for me a few times these past couple weeks and I have thanked, but no-thanked him. He admitted that he may not have the same touch I have for transferring sleeping baby from play pen to crib without disturbing the slumbering child. But that's not why I refuse Ben's offer.

I do it because in not too long I won't be able to carry my baby up, his little body snuggled into mine, his head nestled by my neck. I treasure this little nightly routine we have; holding him tight as I walk up the narrow staircase into his room where I put him in bed and kiss him goodnight. In a few months my expanding belly will make it more difficult, and then near impossible to bend down and pick him up. And walking up those stairs won't be very fun. When that happens I will hand over the job to Ben, and let him carry on the ritual. But until then, this pattern of life is all mine.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

my universe is changing ~ re-post

There's that old saying that the only thing constant is change. I guess that must be so. My life has had its periods of movement and stillness, with moments of stillness within the movement and movement within the stillness. It allows for some growth and then reprieve. We moved across country at the end of August last year, and then had about 6 months of settling in. But ever since my little guy was born things seem to have not really stopped shifting around. He came March 29th. Since then there has been a constant parade of visits to receive and to make, the inevitable changes to a home a new addition brings, the unscheduled flux of summertime. It's been fun, and a little tiring. Okay, some of it has been a lot tiring and I am grateful that Fall is coming (I think some synonyms for Fall are order, schedule, and pace). But just as the summer is winding down I hear this while coming home from the grocery store.

Can you believe it!?! You thought I was kidding about my universe changing, prone to exaggeration. But no, it is literally true. They are seriously considering taking away the status of Pluto as a planet. Turns out that it's more of a lucky rock, I guess, who ended up in the outskirts orbiting a nice star, and got recognized somehow. It's a little bit discouraging, because haven't we all wanted to live that dream?

So Pluto is getting demoted. Sigh. There goes a staple from my childhood - all those pictures drawn of the Solar System. Nine is such a nice odd number which can neatly be divided into subsets of three. (Hang around me enough and you'll find I am a fan of odd numbers.) Well, I guess we'll all carry on. Ben is finally home from a three week stint in Utah and we have a few weeks before school starts. The weather is slowly cooling down. I guess I'm saying that I am still living on a planet not likely to lose it's title as such, and it keeps rotating and spinning so that life moves forward, just like it has for the last million years or so. And who knows? Maybe Pluto was getting tired of the classification it's carried around for a century, and is ready for a change.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

don't be still, my heart ~ re-post

Today while playing outside my oldest ran over to me with an excited smile after doing several laps up and down the sidewalk. "My heart is beating!" she proclaimed and then she proceeded to stand still for a moment with a look of awe on her face as she listened to her heart pushing the blood through her body. Then she was off again, running back and forth, skipping here and there, until the inevitable; she fell and scraped up her knee and it was bleeding.

There are things that make our hearts beat, but in the beating of that small instrument, the percussion of our lives, is also the capacity, the inevitability really, that we will bleed. In the most literal sense, that's life.

A few things that make my heart beat:
Watching my girls dance, or just listening to them talk.
The monarch butterfly who has been gracing us with his presence when we're outside.
My little boy's smile when his sisters come to talk to him.
The fall leaves.
Cookie dough.
A good phone conversation or email.
Family karaoke at my parents' house.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm thinking FBI, or the IRS ~ re-post

Four year-olds. Daughters. Four year-old daughters. They talk. Their favorite way of framing a sentence is with a question mark at the end. For the last few months the conversations with my oldest consist mostly of questions. Questions like: "Does the drain keep working even when nobody is using it?" or questions where the suspected answer is embedded: "Why are you driving me to pre-school because it's too far to walk?" One day in frustration I asked her "Why are you asking me questions you already know the answer to?" She didn't answer that one. And besides, I know the answer. She just wants a dialogue with me. But I think I can turn this question propensity into a money maker.

Since her interogation skills are filled with nuance and knowledge already, I'm thinking that the government could really use her. I think her never ending style of rat-a-tat questioning would wear down anyone. I think law enforcement might find her helpful, but I'm going to approach the IRS first. I think she'll be very handy in conducting audits. "Why did you deduct this business expense last year and this year when it's the same thing because you wanted to cheat the rest of the American public?" Said so matter-o-factly with no pauses in the questioning, how could anyone trying to get away with anything do something other than dumbly nod their head yes and pull out the checkbook to write a long overdue check or hold out their hands to be handcuffed.

I'm telling you, I'm going to harness this power for good. And it's going to make me a lot of money. Which will go directly to a college savings account or something. I don't want to be questioned for embezzlement of my child's funds.

Monday, March 24, 2008

the NOT a strike week

This week we will be featuring a few re-runs, here at Bells on Their Toes. With Spring swinging in, that means Allysha will be doing some extra cleaning and organizing and doing fun things with the kids. Trying to, anyway.

She is not, we repeat, is not going on strike. The re-runs are not because of any breakdown in contract negotiations. We will return to our regularly scheduled program next week. In the meantime, enjoy some of the old stuff. It's not too bad.

moms, cannibalism, and other good stuff ~ re-post

For some strange reason, completely unbeknownst to me, my girls have this on-going joke about eating each other. I know that kids go through a "killing" phase where they pretend to kill things (it's monsters that they track down at our house) without any real concept of what they mean, but I haven't ever read about a cannibalism stage.
Me: What should we have for dinner tonight?
Them: I know! Her! (each pointing to the other).
My youngest of the two once defended her right to a continued existence by appealing to the other, "No, don't eat me! Because then you couldn't talk to me anymore and there would be no me!"

So the other night they were going through the run down orchestrated by my sister, Natalie. Somewhere along the line, it was suggested that I be the lucky one to be eaten. Natalie said to them, "But then you wouldn't have a mom! What would you do with no mom?"

My oldest didn't skip a beat. "I'd get married."

Friday, March 21, 2008

hip, hip, hooray!

Last night something wonderful happened. We were getting everyone ready for bed. Our schedule was running a little late (or, we were running late on our schedule, or whatever) when suddenly some one rang our doorbell.

Now, this is not necessarily a rare occurrence, but it's not common either, especially after dinner time. So, of course we were wondering who in the world could be at our door at this important hour of sanity-survival? We're getting the kids to bed, please!

It was our friendly neighborhood girl scout. WITH COOKIES IN TOW! Five boxes of them. Lovely. Especially lovely, because, as I have stated before, I like New York, but was never able to track down where the girl scout cookies were kept. So this year we were especially excited about the prospect of GS cookies.

They won't last 48 hours. But it will be a good 48 hours.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

retroactive bribery

Come on, everyone!

I bought you ice cream cones yesterday,
so now let's all get the house clean today!

Do you think it will work?

more words...

This week at Just an Orange the theme is "stories in poetry." How's that for something? But I've found some things I really like.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Once upon a time I was very proud of myself. I had two darling little girls, and a newborn baby boy. I was living far away from any family (i.e. free help & babysitting). Despite this hardship I managed to be pretty on top of things. I had a good TV/movie policy. I stuck to it. My children benefited from it. It was a good thing.

The policy was this: daily time in front of the television would exist of short, mostly educational type stuff (this does not equal boring, it just needed to teach something). Jobs/chores needed to be done before we could turn on a movie. And one day a week would be Big Movie Day. Big Movie Day meant we could watch one full-length feature film together.

I instituted this plan when I realized that both of my daughters were imitating- a little too well- the way {insert name of your favorite Disney princess here} runs crying broken heartedly up the stairs. Whenever something didn't go their way that was the reaction of my girls. Along with other happy imitations.

This plan worked well. And everyone, including me, looked forward to Big Movie Day.


Big Movie Day is no more, or every day is Big Movie Day. Take your pick, either way, there is no specialness or discipline involved. Well, there is a little discipline. But it is surely not what it was.

We are not a big visual media consumptive family. We hardly ever watch TV. And movies are still limited. But I do feel strongly about what and how much I let my kids watch, and right now I wish it were a teeny bit less. But I am definitely a part of that equation.

I blame it on the birth of another baby, followed by a move back across the country, etc., etc. It's just taken me awhile to get on top of things, and if I am not on top of things, then at least the television is, you know!

I have a dream...a goal...a vision of the future. Someday, once more, we will limit the amount of movies watched at this house to more of a weekly schedule. Someday. But I need a little more time...just a little bit!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the mommy gene

It's what makes silly PBS shows bearable, or even worthwhile. It's what galvanizes you to clean your entire house, including the fridge, when you are nine months pregnant. It's the reason you find yourself contented to be in jeans and a T-shirt most of the time, with the exception of pajama days. It's highly influential as to why and how often you have pajama days. It's what makes "dry clean only" one of the most scary phrases in the English language. It's how you know that your child probably deserves a serious punishment, but what she really needs is a hug and a chocolate chip cookie. It's what makes your heart expand exponentially with each child that comes your way, more than you thought possible. It's what makes it almost impossible to really sleep in, no matter how tired you are, and how hard you try, because in order for the day to get underway, you-the mom-are somehow indispensable. It's a powerful force, that mommy gene. And once upon a time, you had no idea...

Monday, March 17, 2008

happy st. patrick's day

A tidbit of information for you: did you know that the four-leaf clover and the irish shamrock are NOT the same thing? It's true- it should be the three-leafed variety that graces your day. I know! The things you learn.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

a day to celebrate?

from last year....

So I survived. You know, those sneaky toga clad, knife bearing Romans that go around on March 15th stabbing people to death? They didn't get me. I think I had some close calls, but I deftly slipped around corners and up stairs and into the bathroom and avoided any incidences that may have sent me to the emergency room...

(Nurse #1: Man, I hate the Ides of March! Look at all these sorry stabbed people.
Nurse #2: So do I. You think people would learn. Didn't they teach this stuff in school?
Nurse #1: I dunno. I had to learn about poor old Julius in English, and I tell you what, next to knowing CPR, that has been handy information.
Nurse #2: So, I'm grabbing lunch. Can I get you a salad?)

Really, I owe it to my kids who have helped me hone the skills required to get into the bathroom alone, no matter how close the pursuer. So, maybe I'll give them a break and clean up the laurel leaves scattered around the house by myself.

Friday, March 14, 2008

searching for that wealthy, long lost great uncle

So, yeah. We're going to look for a house. To buy. I think. The trick is to find a place bigger than a cracker box and affordable at the same time. While this is not impossible, it's tricky, since graduate school in New York isn't just a trip to the Five and Dime. More like a million trips to the Five and Dime, or something. Anyway, New York was a great experience and I miss it a lot, but it cost some money and that's that.

my small dream of a white picket fence

I'm trying to figure out ways we can afford to finance the house of our sort-of-dreams. It doesn't help to spend time looking through Architectural Digest.

So, I think it's time for that estranged relative to come forth with some change jingling in his pocket.
And it doesn't even have to be my uncle. He just needs to have a little extra money he'd like to loan out to the cause of helping the Bells family into a house they like. And actually, it could be anybody's aunt as well. I'm not picky. I just need a little help with the down payment.

Okay, well, maybe I'm a little bit picky. Probably no organized crime connections. Or unorganized crime connections. Or ponzi schemes (is that what they're called?).

So, hello generous someone who'd like to pose as a rich relative! What do you say? You want to come and help us out?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


So. You know. You become a blogger. You get a few comments. And that's fun. Addicting, even. You check your email for a comment on your last post. You check it again. and again. Because, why? Because it's fun to get that validation. I have watched blogs of friends and seen their comments shoot into outer-space and I think wow. How do they do that?

I have a happy little readership. I know there are more who visit than comment. And that's fine. Though
I am not saying here, don't comment. Because really, I love it when you do. And I'm not saying that I hope no one new ever reads my blog, because that is entirely untrue. Or that I will never be a dot com, (which is always fun) because actually I have, just for fun- I just don't have it set up yet.

But I had a little epiphany this morning as I tripped around the blogosphere checking in on a few of my favorite people and then a few others, some very well known, in the blogger world anyway:
I don't want to be famous

So, if I never make a living off my blog, with thousands of people across the United States clamoring to meet me at some point in time, I can say, well that's just fine.

But if you like, I will be happy to send you an autographed copy of your favorite blog post of mine. For five dollars.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The Peace Man. That's what my daughter calls him. Apparently he's a neighborhood fixture, the guy who gives the peace sign to the kids as they go to and from the bus stop. My daughter told me he has kids. Which was good, because my initial response was to not be thrilled about a man who sat by his window flashing hippie signs to the innocents passing by. The other day, my daughter said her friend told her that the Peace Man had been arrested. A couple of times. My reaction was more subdued. Elementary school rumor? or neighborhood scandal? Talk amongst yourselves.

And then there's the little girl in my daughter's kindergarten class, who, my daughter casually let me know one day, shows the same thing for show & tell, over and over again. Her coat. I ask my daughter about the coat. I want to imply in the same casual way, that it is perfectly okay to show a coat each time for show and tell. My daughter says sure, it's fine. The girl gets up to show her coat and the kids ask her the same questions about that coat every time. It's a little class ritual.

But I wonder about that little girl. Does she not have any toys she can show to the class? Is her coat the one thing she really is proud of, maybe the only new thing she has? Or maybe she just really likes her coat. Or she perpetually forgets that it's her day for show & tell, and so she shows her coat, because one has to have something to show. But I worry a little bit for her. Just like I wonder a little bit about the Peace Man.

How much of these little stories that circle around in my head are true? How much of them are figments of imagination, mine and a class full of 6 year-olds? To be sure, I know nothing about either of these individuals; the man who greets the little kids down the street, the girl who has no original show and tell. I hope that the narratives that suggest themselves are not wholly true, but that they are just two people who have happy, somewhat uneventful lives; lives like mine, that are benefited by an occasional made-up story in the mind, but more benefited by the lack of those little stories.

a word

This week at Just an Orange we're talking about words.

Monday, March 10, 2008

spring cleaning and bananas

It's in the air. The snow has melted (I know, I know, we could get more...but still). In any case, I am experiencing spring fever, which in my case, manifests itself by the desire to get the annual cleaning ritual underway. As well as get things more organized with the house and with the family. But it's a task that as you know, can be daunting...

This morning, inspired by the time-change (yeah, right) I hauled the kids (minus the kindergartner at school) to the grocery store for some serious shopping. All in all it went pretty well. There were hardly any patrons there, just workers, unloading and stocking the shelves.

Some nice man gave my children bananas to munch on as we went through the produce section. My kids ate about half of their bananas before deciding that was enough. They asked me to take them, and I asked them to keep them on their laps for a minute. When I went to check on the bananas, they were no where to be seen, peels and all had disappeared. My kids do not eat WHOLE bananas. I questioned my daughter about their whereabouts...had she THROWN THEM OVERBOARD????

She hadn't. She had given her banana to her younger brother. I suspect that he did the dirty deed. Sigh. I backtracked, but nary a banana on the floor to be found. So either he threw them into some great hiding place, or an employee saw two half-eaten bananas on the floor and picked them up and threw them away.

OH the Mortification of Motherhood. I go to Costco later today, where we will avoid any banana samples should they be available.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

(NOT) a waste of time

The other night before bed I sat in front of the computer and entered in each letter of the alphabet, one at a time, in my browser to see what websites would come up and then read every blog I came to. I read some good stuff. I also learned that I do not go to any sites that start with the letters "x" or "z".

Friday, March 7, 2008

it's friday morning

It's only 8 a.m. so if I hurry I can have most of the house picked up by the time the News Roundup starts on the Diane Rhem show. I love that show.

Also, it's that time of year. Yes, the chocolate oranges from Christmas have finally gone on sale for $1. The other night Ben brought home four of them.

I really need to go grocery shopping. Really, really.

That's all.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


So. I've started another blog. Why? Since I have so much free time on my hands, and all. One can always have more projects to juggle, right? This was the next best thing to joining the circus.

Actually, this is something I've wanted to do for awhile. It's part brain exercise, part humanities excursion. I even have a manifesto of sorts. Hee. I'd love it if you'd join me. Like any personal blog, it will be a catalogue of things I'm interested in. But I'd also like to incorporate some outside participation with different things. We'll see how it goes!

Just an Orange. Won't you stop by and say hi?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

spin cycle

So far this morning I have heard Clintonites claim a "sweeping victory" among the primaries last night. And that would be nice for Clinton, if she were a Republican, where the winner takes all. But she does have to give Barak his share of the delegates. (Oh, and she'll throw him the vice-presidency if he wants it.)

I have heard Obamaoans point to their lead in the delegates, despite only winning one state last night, saying they are still ahead and the delegate count is what matters. Which actually is true. (I don't know if he would let her be V-P. But that would be sort of funny, because it would probably drive Bill nuts!)

AND I have heard a Republican strategist suggest that last night John McCain was the winner of both the Republican and Democratic Primaries, since he's the Republican nominee, and the Democrats can't decide who they really want. (He will probably not consider either Obama, Hillary, or Bill for V.P.)

Full slog ahead. I don't think any of us will be any cleaner by the time this spin cycle is over.

it was only a matter of time

There are cheerios scattered across the rug, graham cracker crumbs reign in the kitchen and beyond. It's clear: my baby has learned to eat on the run.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

it's a hard knock life

Admit it. You were nine years old and you wanted to be an orphan.

And now when you watch it you're a little appalled by Miss Hannigan, but you know that her duet with Oliver Warbucks is really fabulously hilarious.


An award! For me! From Lei (Thanks, Lei)! And it's taken me about fifty years to say thank you! I'm a little busy...

Lei and I actually figured out sometime ago that we were both in a modern dance group at the same time in college. Small world.

It's nice to have people like what you have to write about and how you write about it. There are rules that go with
A Roar For Powerful Words . I am to share 3 pieces of writing advice and pass on the award to five deserved bloggers. But (and I am sure this is against the rules) I don't have time right now to think of either the three (there must be something I can share...), or the five (there are certainly five great writers out there that I read). My brain is stretched a little thin right now. So I'm going to say that I will try and get to that part...promise.

Monday, March 3, 2008

some bits and pieces

A few nights ago our home teachers (men from our church who are supposed to help with big moving projects and spiritual lessons) came over to give our family a spiritual thought. I looked past the fact that they called a little before dinner time to see if they could stop by later and said sure, because why not? It was after all, a school night! They are nice enough guys. I don't know them very well. But when the first one sat down and said they had been talking about how they realize that their wives are pregnant and tired, but [pregnancy] is hard on them, too!--I wanted to bop them both on the head.

In celebration of Leap Year, I took up painting over the weekend. Actually, I paint from time to time. Nothing spectacular, mind you. I am an amateur. But I like the creative outlet, which requires a different kind of creative than writing, and that's nice for my brain. Friday was sunny and I thought "this is a good day for painting." It's not quite done yet, but I'll show it to you when I am done, if you like. Also, it's nice to have a February 29th every once in a while.

In other news, we had church at glorious 9 a.m. yesterday, which may not sound nice to you, but after starting at 2:30 in the afternoon, this was heaven. Also my bashful son went to nursery. So the baby and I actually made it to our other meetings! A splendid thing, for a Sunday. Then we came home, ate chocolate chip cookies, played Yatzee and had a nice family day.

Also, I'm working on some new bloggy things. Hopefully they will be ready to go in the next few days. I'm not sure if they're vanity projects or not. But what if? I'm excited about them anyway...stay tuned.