Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Annacdotes 30

fancy pants pic (I was actually wearing sweats,
but you'd never know it)
1. "I think I'm addicted to the word literally."

And she is. It comes out of her mouth all too frequently, but I'm happy to say that it is mostly used correctly, and her statements literally are things she would literally do and not literally metaphors.

2. In a prayer: "Please help us to learn interesting things from books. And please help us to have great adventures and seek after amazing things in our lives."

3. After a lot of cajoling to get her to bed one night, I finally had Anna on top of her bed and just needed her to roll over so I could pull the blankets out and put them on top of her. But she would not budge. For anything. Her arms and legs were pinned to her sides, and she was completely immovable. After a minute and maybe a tickle or two, she finally broke and said, "Aw, darn. I wanted to make you think time froze!"

4. A beginning of a deep thought: "Say you walk into China . . . "

At Arches last fall

5. Frequently, something pops out of Anna's mouth that causes me to pause a moment and reflect on how it's probably highly unlikely that you'd hear the average kid say it, so I've been keeping a mental list. Here are a few of them:
  • [whilst jumping up and down] "Can I practice the piano yet?"
  • After I ordered some J Dawgs hot dogs, she said hopefully, "Does mine have banana peppers and sauerkraut on it?
  • Anna was with a babysitter for a few hours one day, and when I finally came to pick her up, she ran up to me and said, "Mom! I was so desperate to see you!" I thought most kids might just say they missed you or hug you or break down if it was really so bad, but she articulated that feeling so well.
  • While I was measuring some vinegar for a salad dressing I was making, Anna asked if she could have some to drink. She seriously loves vinegar. Who loves straight vinegar???

6. In a prayer: "Thank you for things that intrigue our minds. For example, magic in books."

7. I overheard a little moment that delighted me when Anna was playing pretend with her friend. Her friend asked if Anna was "ready" (for what, I wasn't quite sure), and Anna said, in a shocked and extremely dramatic voice, "I'm a photographer. Not a model. Not a fashionist."

I love that the fanciness in this picture is offset by no shoes.

8. Last summer, Anna and I were out working on riding her bike one evening, mostly trying to overcome her fears because she was actually physically capable of doing it, and we had a lot of pep talks and straight talks and talks bordering on casual threats. Out of desperation and because I knew she was so very close, I told her that she couldn't watch her favorite show until she rode on her own for 10 seconds. She FINALLY rode her bike on her own that night, and we were both super excited. I told her how brave she was and how proud I was that she kept trying, even though she was afraid, and she actually did it. She accomplished her goal. She hugged me and said sweetly, "Thank YOU for teaching me and for threatening me. Because I really was motivated!" The hug and sweet voice combined with those words just about killed me. Now, who says threats aren't good parenting?

9. We were talking about silent films one day, and I told Anna that when the first films were being made, people didn't have the ability to record sound with the pictures. She said, "Are you sure they weren't just being lazy?"

10. Anna was tossing some dirty clothes into her laundry basket and saying synonyms for "throw" with each item: "hurl," "toss," "throw," "chuck," etc. I said, "Nice, I like the synonyms." She turned to me, lowered her eyes, and said condescendingly, "I was being redundant." Oh. Excuse me.

It's a good thing she's so cute.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More Old Lady Names

Like I said, I've been away from the blog for a while, but that only means that my collection of old lady names has multiplied exponentially while I was on sabbatical. Seriously. I did the math. (No I didn't.) But I do have a bajillion. I wasn't sure how to choose what to share first, but I started noticing some patterns that I think are interesting. I'll start with two today.

First off, we have what I will call the ENDING IN "A" category. I feel like people back then could choose any number of letters—sometimes at random—and, as long as the combination ended in "a," it was deemed a worthy name for their daughter. (Similar to the "lee" suffix of our time, and the many "Braylee," "Brinley," "McKaylee" creations, perhaps?)

Elda (I've seen several of these, so this name was not uncommon. But it makes me wonder why "Eld" was something you'd want to feminize with an "a.")
Idona (I feel like this one is begging Bart Simpson to use it for a fake name when he calls Moe's Tavern. What would a good last name be?)
Wilda (One word: Wildebeest.)
Arcola (Maybe not the best idea to put a popular soft drink in your child's name?)
Cloma (This is heading dangerously into "sounds like a body part or a disease" territory.)
Varda (I tried to see this one from all sides, but I still say don't name your child anything that rhymes with "lard.")
Ora, Arva, Wilma, Ola, Eda (All of these beauties appeared the same day in the obits. It was a goooooooood day.)

Another collection of names falls into the VISIBLE ROOTS category. These are names that are indeed odd, but I feel like I can see how people possibly arrived at them. Possibly maybe.

Ronella (Maybe it's one of those Dad's name + Mom's name situations? Ron + Ella? Or maybe it's just a feminized version of Ron, which is a terrible idea.)
Royalene (Could be Ronella's cousin, the child of Roy and Alene, or the feminized version of Royal, which, again, didn't turn out very well)
Rinda (A horrible variation of Linda?)
Arvilla (Another feminized version? Of Arville? Why?)

So let's hear it. Which name offends your senses the least, and which makes you recoil and feel like you came down with a terrible case of cloma?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Radio silence

Boy, what has the world come to? I haven't posted anything since late November, and I don't really know why. I didn't intend to let the blog go, truly. But that's a heckuva long time, even for a minimal poster like me. So what have I been doing this whole time? Working, playing, reading Harry Potter to Anna, trying new recipes, having dance parties, thinking about books I'm going to write, going on vacation, and probably too much Netflix, frankly.

But I've still been amassing dozens of Annacdotes and old lady names, so get ready for lots of new additions to those collections. Here's a teaser: Birdice. Like Bernice, but with a cold?

Stay tuned for more real posts in the near future. Or just future. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Annacdotes 29

in an outfit I termed "floral camo"
1. Because Anna has a summer birthday, she got to celebrate it early at school. (Yes, this is an old Annacdote.) Each kid in her class drew her a picture, and then her teacher made a little booklet out of them. When we were looking through it later that day, I saw one picture that included a boy's name and his phone number. I was a little surprised at this and asked her why he included his number. She said, "Remember? That's the boy that has a crush on me!" We giggled about it for a minute, and then I said, "What do you think he would do if you called him?" Shocked and a little embarrassed, she said, "I don't even know! He might ask me to go out!" I asked Anna what she would say to that, and she said, "I would probably say, 'Don't you know we're only kids?'"

2. In a prayer: "Thank you for giving children the opportunity to learn fascinating facts and interesting things about the world and sometimes adults but mostly children. Thank you for that."

3. My mother was talking about our family one day and she said that, except for a few aches and pains, we have all been blessed with really good health. We talked about this for a few minutes, and then Anna chimed in loudly with, "Yeah, and just be glad we're not on the Mayflower with all the disease and stuff." She offers such a fresh perspective.

4. One morning, Anna tried several ways of negotiating her way out of making her bed. First she said she was planning on taking a nap later, so she'd just like to be able to get back in her bed. (She wouldn't take a nap in a million years, by the way.) I said she still needed to make her bed and if she did, in fact, take a nap, she could lay on top of her bed with a blanket. Then she said that would mess up her bed during the nap, but I stood my ground. After a few more failed attempts, she said, "Fine! You win this round, [then cryptically] but I'll be back."

5. In a prayer: "Thank you for the past, thank you for the future, and thank you for this exact second." She likes to cover her bases.

a picture Anna submitted to an art contest, to give you a little context for her artist statement below


6. Saying goodnight one evening, I hugged Anna and told her I loved her and would forever. She circled my face with her hand several times and said dramatically with cool echo effects, "I will love you after after after time ends."

7. These next three happened all in the same day, so they go together:
First, Anna paused partway through eating her dessert and started reading the Sunday comics that were sitting next to her. After a minute, I noticed the pause and asked if she was full. She said, "Sort of. I just gotta, you know, let it ... 'reader's.....digest.'"
Then later, I let her have some salt water taffy just before she was supposed to get ready for bed. I told her I'd let her eat one if it made her quick, as if it were a pill for speediness. Happily unwrapping the taffy, she said, "Actually, it might make me tarry." I stared at her, frozen in awe for a moment, and she said, "Wait, does 'tarry' mean get distracted and wander around?" Yes, yes it does. And totally Sunday appropriate, I thought.

Lastly, she had been playing with this strip of fabric all evening, wearing it like a shawl, and as we knelt down to pray, she wrapped it around me and tied me tightly to her. Totally deadpan, she said, "This is to make sure no one gets squirmy. Especially YOU."

8. Practicing the piano one day, Anna made a mistake. Overdramatically ashamed, she covered her eyes and said, "Shame on me! I'm not opening my eyes to see the beautiful world ever again. Unless it's a dump."

9. When Anna gets asked what she learned at school that day, her response is often "nothing," which doesn't really make for an awesome conversation. So one day, the question was changed to, "What would you like to be learning?" She came up with three responses: "Magic, although that's not possible, levitation, and my part for the primary program."

10. As I was doing my best to mimic the opera singer we happened to be listening to (and my version was not half bad, by the way), Anna groaned and said, "I wish I didn't have a mother who sang opera." I laughed and said, "That's the best kind of mother there is! A fun one!" Then she said in a sincere lament, "Man, I just wish I had a normal life!"

She lost one of her front teeth at the beginning of November . . . 

. . . and then the second one came out three weeks later. In true Anna fashion, she works very hard on her enunciation now so that she doesn't have a lisp, which is too, too bad. I think she'd be adorable with a lisp, but it would go against this old-soul image she's developed.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Fun

Happy Halloween a couple days ago. We had a fantastic and very full October, and I realize it was mostly due to many things surrounding Halloween. It's such a purely fun holiday, and I love it for that reason. Candy, costumes, carving, decorating—all for pretty much no meaningful reason. Brilliant.

First off, Anna attended a musical theatre workshop for the last couple months, and it ended with a halloween show. Along with her group, she sang and danced to "This Is Halloween," and she sang parts of "Monster Mash." (Sidenote: This song always makes me laugh because it relates to an inside joke I have with my sister. Many years ago, we joked about making threatening calls to a particular young women's basketball referee we didn't see eye to eye with, and one of us suggested we play scary music in the background. And then the other said, "What kind of scary music? Who has scary music? Like the 'Monster Mash'?" And we imagined a few scenarios where we called up this woman and had a silly, shaky voiced "it's a GRAVEyard smash!" playing in the background. We just thought that was so ridiculous and hilarious.)

Another highlight of the show was figuring out what Anna could wear to get the best use out of the black light they had shining on the performers. Her shoes that were splattered with neon paint glowed like they were radioactive, and they were a must every night of the show. (Thanks, Jen.) Anyway, it was good times all around and got us into the Halloween spirit.

We also made some stellar Apple Uglies this year. Mine was kind of a rainbow alien. 

After I finished, I thought back to the apples I have made in recent years, and, more often than not, I make Apple Cuties. I've made some uglies in the past, but these days, I seem to be too focused on color and design and symmetry. And those principles usually produce cute. But even though I am not following the guidelines to the letter, I'm fine with it. I've made some great ones, and my apple this year was still awesome.

Here is Anna's apple. She added some sculptures to the right and behind the apple that really added some pizzazz this year—the apple's pet ghost and the ghost's cyclops friend with crutches and the cyclops' baby. Sculptures aside, I'm mostly frightened of the apple's nose.

Here's a pic with Anna's face, just because she's so cute.

And let's not forget the traditional carving of the jack-o-lantern. Anna decided she wanted to carve a vampire this year, and then when we added a snake nose, it became even creepier. And so it was named Snakette.

Here's another fun thing we did on Halloween night. Toilet paper rolls + scary cut-out eyes + glow sticks + outside in the yard = creepy hidden creatures staring at you in the dark.

And now for the costume. Anna wanted to be a butterfly this year, and she really, really wanted her face painted. We bought some wings but added the jewels because the wings needed some oomph. I think the jewels did a good job. The face paint showed my amateur skills, but at least it was there.

What wasn't there was the set of glow-in-the-dark hair extensions we bought for her costume but totally forgot to bring out that night. We also forgot some ribbon bracelets. Sad. I guess we were just too excited to get out there and secure some candy.

I also wore a neon pink wig.

Hope you had a lovely October as well.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A quest for the best chocolate chip cookies

If I had to choose, I would probably say that chocolate chip cookies are my favorite kind of cookie. I like them for their overall flavor, but I like them for their simplicity, too. Just some basic dough and chocolate. In fact, I've liked them for a long time. I think making chocolate chip cookies was probably my first foray into the world of baking. And because I was the youngest of eight, I grew up always tripling the recipe. That's just how things were done back then and how they should always be done, frankly.

When I lived in Poland, chocolate chip cookies kind of became my link to home. I made them often—even though I had to make my own brown sugar and chop up chocolate bars because chips hadn't made it there yet. When I would make them using vanilla powder in my weird gas oven, turning the dial to a number from 1-5 and guessing at the correct temperature, I would relish in the smell and taste of them and reminisce about America and large grocery stores with everything at your fingertips. I think it's safe to say that chocolate chip cookies and I are old friends.

But through all those years, I tried many different recipes, never really satisfied that I had the best one. When I was a kid, we had a pretty good recipe, but as I got older, I tasted other kinds and sort of refined my preferences. I didn't like cakey versions, but they shouldn't be too flat either. I like milk chocolate chips, but sometimes all milk chocolate can make the cookies too sweet. They should be soft and not overdone but slightly golden and not doughy inside.

I tried the recipe where you add a box of instant vanilla pudding, which is actually pretty good, but I stopped making these in an effort to cut down on processed, packaged foods. (Not that chocolate chip cookies are super healthy, but whatever. I was trying.) I also tried a fancy-pants version, where you refrigerate the dough and roll it and the chocolate chips in layers. I still make this one on occasion because it's different enough, but it's still not my top choice.

So when I came across another recipe (in the cookbook Chocolate Never Faileth) claiming to be a classic, I had to try it and see for myself. It's pretty basic and I've been told it's actually just the Nestle Tollhouse recipe, but the added flour is the main difference. Because of Utah's elevation or humidity level or whatever, I found we need some additional flour. The recipe calls for 3 cups, but after a couple tries, I found 3 1/3 does the trick around here and makes lovely shaped cookies. Without the extra 1/3 cup, they start to resemble pancakes with chocolate measles. Anyway, I liked this cookbook author's tips about how to find out how much flour you need wherever you are.

I also like more chocolate chips than the original recipe called for and the ratio of milk to semi, as found below. And to date, this is my favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Behold . . .


1 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
3 1/3 c. flour *
1 1/3 c. milk chocolate chips
2/3 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add the salt and soda. Gradually add the flour, starting with about 2 c., adding 1/2 c. at a time until the dough is no longer sticky and crumbs begin to form at the bottom of the bowl. You should be able to pinch the dough without getting any on your fingers. Add the chocolate chips; mix just enough to incorporate them. Bake on greased cookie sheets for 9-11 minutes. Take them out just when they're starting to get golden edges. They won't look completely baked.

Delicious. I get excited just thinking about them. Another thing I like to do with chocolate chip cookie dough is make these cookie sundae cups from Our Best Bites. You basically just bake some dough in a ramekin, but leave it a little soft, and then top it with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. YUM!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Annacdotes 28

first day of second grade

1. Several weeks ago, in the middle of a prayer, Anna said, "P.S. Please help me to get more watching in my life."

We had a chat soon after about how it's not really okay to pray for more cartoon time. Or say P.S. in a prayer, really.

All was forgotten until several weeks later when, during another prayer, Anna said, "And sorry for the P.S., by the way, about getting more watching. Sorry about that."

2. In another prayer, Anna started with a bang. "Thank you for cuddling, for it being on the earth and being made known to man. Thank you for all the cuddling I've done." She finished this same prayer with, "Thank you for air and for trees. Amen."

3. "Mom, I'm having a strange feeling right now. Can I tell you about it? I have to go to the bathroom AND my stomach is tired."

I was not able to identify her ailment at that time.

4. In a prayer: "Thank you for the artist that you are. And thank you for helping us when we need it, when we go through hard times, in our dark hours." Dark hours? I love that girl.

5. "Have you ever smelled a fake flower that smells like baked caramel, if caramel was getting baked in your house?" I had not.

6. Anna told me something she thought was funny, which I can't remember now. I replied by saying, "Silly, silly," to which she said, "Quite contrilly." That just made me smile.

7. During a movie that was probably more science fiction than Anna is normally used to, she kept saying, "I am so cooled out right now!"

8. Anna has two pillow pets, a unicorn and a dolphin, which she has named. I asked her one night why she prefers to sleep on the dolphin, saying "dolphin" because I couldn't remember its name just then. She scoffed and said very condescendingly, "It has a name, you know. Did you forget names exist, Ashley?"

9. A couple months ago (as in, before her last birthday), Anna came across a sentence in a book that said something like, "It was wonderful, exciting, and stupendous!" Disapprovingly, she said, "Isn't that redundant?" I thought, Thanks, you're 6.

10. But she's not always a walking dictionary. That same day, she was eating cinnamon Life. After she drank the milk at the end, she sighed with satisfaction, saying, "Ah, synonym milk."