Sunday, April 22, 2007

French Fry Friends....

This weekend I was SUPPOSED to be in Seattle. Tyler and I had decided to take a trip there to confirm whether or not Seattle Grace Hospital (from our favorite TV drama series Grey’s Anatomy) exists.

Just kidding, it was to go visit my dear friend, Ms. Shinae. However, upon discovering a while ago that I was pregnant and realizing that a strong possibility of the big fat barfs may strike at any time, I had no choice but to cancel the night before we were scheduled to leave. The fatigue freight train arrived for pickup and I’m afraid I had no choice but to board and say adios to my little weekend getaway with my best friend.
I proceeded to sulk and feel sorry for myself for the first three or so minutes after announcing to Shinae via telephone that the trip was nixed. The sulking didn’t last long as my darling baby girl toddled into the room and snuggled with me. Okay, maybe a trip to Seattle isn’t THAT important. “This is worth it, this is worth it, this is worth it,” I tell myself. Luckily with Lily here, this time around I have physical evidence that a case of the barfs and excessive fatigue are indeed worth it.



Tyler and I went to see a movie the next night. I had been laying in bed all day long and was suffering from mild cabin fever. After the movie, we stopped at Dairy Queen for a pregnant woman’s daily vitamin supplement, ice cream. I DID choose to exercise self restraint, and after ordering a hot fudge sundae I decided to opt for the SMALL fry with ranch dressing, instead of the LARGE.
While driving and eating, I mentioned a story about Shinae and I, rather out of the blue. Tyler said, “What made you think of that?”
I replied, “My French fries and ranch dressing.” I dipped another crusty, warm and flaky fry into the creamy ranch concoction, trying suddenly to hold back tears.
You see, Shinae is my french fries and ranch dressing friend. Seldom do I crawl through a drive-thru and order this delightful combination that I don’t think of, and often miss her.

Shinae and I met in high school, and it is safe to say we have been best friends since around 15 years old. We even have the yearbook entries of a pure, substantial and undeniable friendship foundation to prove it :

“Oh my gosh, I like totally LUUUV U, girlfriend!
You and (fill in the blank) are SUUUUCH a cute couple!
So much cuter than ____ and _____.
Whatever!
We are totally BFF 4 EVER. Call me, k? Luv ya!!”

Our friendship grew strong as the years of high school went by. On late weekend nights, we frequently would stop at any local drive thru and order our tried and true fave, french fries and ranch dressing. Being completely and sadly OBSESSED with our physical appearances as well made for an even deeper bond, seeing that we were both being “bad” together. We agreed that you simply had to have a balanced diet: if you’re going to have something sweet like a McFlurry you MUST balance it with salty fries and ranch dressing.

It was on these late late nights, over fries and ranch dressing that we got to know the real Rachel and the real Shinae. Luckily, we actually LIKED the real each others and these late nights continued, and still continue to this day. Shinae is my ultra posh, cool as a cucumber buddy with amazing hair and cool bangle jewelry. She reminds me of when I need to wear tighter jeans, and when I am overreacting to the latest silly issue. I would like to think that I excel in reminding her when to give this/that guy a chance, or how to bake. We are very different, but we are from the same tribe. Together, we think we are simply brilliant. As long as Shinae thinks that what I say or do is fine, then I think I must be right- everything is okay because my french fry and ranch dressing friend told me so.


During my wedding, right before I was to descend down to the beautiful beach to marry the love of my life, Shinae had left me a card. In it, she wrote something that has always meant so much to me. She said, “You have shown you can do it all, and do it well.” Although nothing could really be further from the truth, hearing those words from my friend before I was about to be married before many, many rather skeptical people that questioned the fact that Ty and I were so young and still college students, meant that I must be doing the right thing. After all, my french fries and ranch dressing friend told me so.

Together, we have been through high school, cheerleading, frequent groundation periods (sentenced normally to me from my parents), boyfriends, road trips, college applications, college acceptances, Utah, California, graduation, leaving home, BYU, Chapman University, London, France, Scotland, Australia, Korea, a marriage, a baby, Prague, Italy, Germany, houses, apartments, new friends, college graduation (Shinae’s- yay Shinae!), and now Seattle. And while we weren’t necessarily experiencing all of the above WITH each other physically, it was always through spirit and via telephone/email/or whatever means necessary. Hopefully- it always will be that way. We have laughed, cried, talked, yelled, gossiped, and eaten french fries through every step of our wonderful lives' journeys.

Recently, it has been difficult to make time to visit each other. With a husband, baby and new baby on the way, it is obviously hard to hop a plane and visit Shinae with her new job, city, and ever exciting little life events- and same vice versa. Seattle is the next stop for our Rachel/Shinae life adventure journey…and Shinae dear, I will make it there.

And yes, we will enjoy French fries and ranch dressing once again, and talk and solve all of the world’s problems until 3 am.

To all of you girls out there in the cyber and real world- I wish for you all a french fries and ranch dressing sort of friend like my Shinae. Actually, make that a double double cheeseburger, animal style, with a strawberry milkshake and extra LARGE french fries with ranch dressing kind of friend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Unduly

It's official. I am floating .0623124 centimeters above personal rock bottom.

Although it must be said, spiritually and emotionally I remain soaring through the clouds. We found out, and excitedly announce to all of the cyber world: my second little wonder of the world is in the works. Yes, I am pregnant!

Enough of that la la schmaa beautiful news, lest you think this is a pleasant post. We're talking about my physical and mental status. My topic of discussion today is my personal "cool" factor, or complete lack thereof. Actually, calling it a disussion would imply that there is some sort of exchange of witty banter occurring in my blogging adventures, however since NO SINGLE PERSON bothers to post a comment, I must assume this is a between Ms. Rachel and her bosom friend: Ms. Rachel. Thanks a lot. Don't worry, I'm not bitter....Sarah, and Daniel, and my mother, and my grandmother, and my friends, or my imaginary friends......

What brings such self loathing today? Let me explain:

I woke up feeling painfully fatigued. I want to sleep for the next ten years while my body gets to work on my new little buns of joy, that unforunately will make his/her grand debut from buns of increased cellulite, stretch marks, and water retension. (Graphic! My apologies....)

During this fatigue, I have lost all desire to get dressed properly, apply any sort of makeup, or assemble a somewhat appropriate outfit. I arrive places with embarrassingly baggy jeans, flip flops, an old tee shirt, and an extremely darling, rather expensive, black fancy coat with fur trim from BeBe that was never intended whatsoever to be coupled with baggy jeans, flip flops, and an old tee shirt. Even my adoring husband looked at me across the table from lunch yesterday at Applebees and said, "Oh sweetie, you look so frizzy." What's that supposed to mean?

I logged on today to read one of my blogging inspiration Emily's posts. I have only met her once years ago through another friend. However, this friend later emailed me a link to her adorable blog site. She is intelligent and just about as cute as can be. Even more cool...she showcases her goods looks AND brains by using incredible terms such as unduly as she narrates dear little instances of motherhood with her son Henry. I am simply pea green with envy!

I at once openly confess that I am eager utilizer of the synonym option as you right click your word while typing in Microsoft programs. It is the mask I hide behind to fool people into thinking my vocabulary is wide as the ocean blue. ( I actually came up with that analogy myself...hence the reason it sounds stupid). As I read through Emily's positively radiant ramblings, I can't help but notice how she so flippantly used a word as wonderful as unduly. I don't know why, but whenever I stumble upon big and insightful words my brain replies, "Oops, that's a little too much for you to process and retain, you won't be needing that....Discard!"
When composing an essay in English class, if I used a smashingly brilliant word such as convey or portray I considered it A+, Pulitzer prize material and was always insulted to inevitably learn otherwise.

Emily, I also see that you have ELEVEN responses to your latest post. Congratulations, everyone else seems to relish your use of the word unduly as much as I, or me, or whatever the proper pronoun is/was/will be.

After reading and feeling warm, fuzzy, and pea green from these posts, I went into the bathroom to inspect the latest fungi on my face (pregnancy/hormone induced acne). As I smiled while thinking about my future posterity, I also noticed the yellow scalloped potatoe remnants from my mother's dinner last night (Yes, too lazy to cook and sick of Burger King, thanks Mom). The smile faded slowly as I stepped on the scale and realized the number has increased by 3 pounds. I have only been pregnant for approx. 76 minutes or so, how did I already gain 3 pounds? Alas, if it's anything like my last pregnancy...I still have an approx. 42 pounds to go. I looked down at my toes, and half heartedly consoled myself by thinking that at least those were still visible. Caked with old polish, chipped, and grotesquely long...but still visible.

I pulled away, looked myself squarely and sharply in the eye through our all too giant and honest mirror and said, "Enough! This is ridiculous! I hold these truths to be self evident: That all mothers to be do not need to look like you! Mother is NOT synonymous with ugly barfus looking hag! You do not need to sacrifice yourself to this fatigue, nor are you defeated! Stand tall like the hot 23 something year old you should be and pull yourself together!"

Immediately, the white flag of surrender was replaced with the blaring gun shots of my bubble bath dispenser dropping like bombs into the steamy bathtub.
I immersed myself, and victoriously emerged a cleaner- fresher mother.

Since, I have applied my slightly self tanning tinged Dove body lotion, added a splash of perfume, and coated my sparkling clean fungi with Mary Kay night solution and moisturizer- after finally brushing my teeth.

I even added a coat of fresh and clear polish to my nails. I will finish my toes this evening.

Already, I am feeling, oh...what's the word? Unduly optimistic of my future as a hot mom.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Lily


LILY HAS ATTENDED HER FIRST EVER WEE READ STORYTIME!! (Story time for children 2 and under. So cute) It marks her grand entrance into the world of imagination, literature, and pure fun! Hoooray!
Slight problem: She was unbelievably, incredibly...ooohhh, what's the word? Rambunctious? Entertaining? Sassy? Naahhh....I think the word I'm trying desperately to avoid here is naughty.

I am that parent with that child (in the large group of other 20 other mothers and children), a child who could be dubbed out of control! Instead of staying close to me in a group of strangers, she roamed in and out of the circle...talking, kissing, petting, and taking toys and sippy cups from other children. (We're working on the whole sibling thing. That'll teach her the day she tries to steal their cup and has finally met her match as she gets a big shove/kick/hit or whatever will send them both to time out). She also was the only child brave enough to run to the center of the giant circle and begin yelling at the top of her lungs while the sweet librarian tried to read through a 2 page picture book. I laughingly and embarrassingly apologized to the crowd about 15.5 times during the 20 minute session. She did entertain them, though. She would run to the center of the circle, smiling at them while motioning them to please clap for her. ( which they did...thank you crowd).
You must understand, and so must the rest of the universe: Lily is very accustomed to applause. In her usual fan club (our large adoring family), Lily is applauded for anything... say, each time she breathes in and each time she breathes out.
I even got a few comments like, "My word! How old is she?" from surprised parents as she would blow kisses to individuals, and do all the motions while singing along to the song the librarian was leading. I would respond simply, "She is...a genius. Oh! I mean, sorry, 15 months old."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Montenegro

This past week I caught a glimpse of heaven, a slice of the pie of life, the beautiful diamond studded crown atop the head of the world’s most amazing scenery:

Montenegro! Montenegro!!!

It was amazing, it was beautiful, it was magical. It was suspenseful and sweet, seductive and relaxing. Ahhhhh, Montenegro.


Have I mentioned I wasn’t necessarily there? Rather, living it through the new, and surely timeless classic: 007: Casino Royale? Thank you Bond...James Bond.

I have never seen a Bond flick until this one. Call me crazy, but men in cars blowing up and chasing other men in cars with outrageous gadgets -that do anything from cure cancer to hurl you from the top of a skyscraper unharmed to prepare your double foam triple shot mocha latte chatte- strikes me as ridiculous and unappealing. However, upon the ensnaring and highly intriguing trailer, detailing Mr. Bond emerging from a clear blue sea while wearing tight, short shorts (like a real man), I was led to the difficult conclusion that maybe it was time to shed my biased, girlish movie interests and try something new.







And with that said, after viewing it, I must add Mr. Bond doesn’t even come close to my own hunka hunka of burnin’ luuuv. Ah Ladies….should you be so lucky to see him in those shorts.

While Tyler and I were watching the movie, I was in complete awe of the scenery. “Can you believe places like that exist? Why aren’t we there? Who on earth owns that one villa on the corner of the lake at the end of the movie, and why aren't we them?” These were the questions we were forced to ask each other in envy. The founding fathers/pilgrims/etc had it dead wrong. They crossed the wrong ocean, set up camp on the wrong campsite. Who cares about religious freedom….or freedom at all when you could be locked up for life in Montenegro?!!

I love scenery. I am someone you could say is on sensory overload at all times. As a matter of fact, I’m on feeling overload at all times. Call it an aesthetic sixth sense.

In fact, this sixth sense is probably what I would attribute my passion for interior design. Since I was little, I can remember always being keenly aware of my surroundings and the feelings these surroundings evoked. It’s why I'm obsessed with England, my wonderful England, with its lush green landscape and cozy cottages. It’s why the bright sun and vivid colors of Montenegro make my heart skip a beat. It’s why I will finish my degree in interior design, no matter how many babies veer into my path!!!

This strong curiosity and insatiable need to beautify my surroundings has its unattractive faults. Shamefully, I admit I have been prone to incorrectly linking moral, intellectual, emotional, and social intelligence levels to ones ability to pick the correct paint color. As I leave my doctor’s office after a diagnosis and prescription of antibiotics for the latest sinus infection, I am left wondering, “What the heck does he know? Did you see that hideous circa 1980 lavender gag me with a stick rose trim wallpaper border going on in the office waiting room?”
I apply these same ludicrous connections to my own home, thinking, “How can I possibly be a good mother to Lily if I continue to allow that oversized, inappropriately scaled piece of furniture to clutter her existence, even if we are offered it for free from family?” (Note: Aunt Nellie, I am NOT speaking of the wonderful lazy boy chair you gave us. It happens to be our favorite piece EVER. Thank you.) In addition, immediately upon arriving home I must adjust the lighting to the appropriate mood level. Two lamps on in the living room, full lighting in the kitchen and dining room accompanied by the scent of fresh grated ginger and garlic in my latest stir fry is what I consider the aesthetic jackpot. (Note: I am allowing you into the inner workings of a crazy wannabe designer’s mind, so I’d appreciate an open perspective here….I feel your condemnation.)

We must remember our surroundings affect our feelings. They either bring out something good, or something bad, or worse…nothing at all. This is a fact you are undoubtedly subject to whether you’re aware of it or not. Try to look back and remember that time you went to a friend’s house that slightly reminded you of urine and mildew. Remember the feeling in that house? The technical term for your physiological and emotional reaction would be: yucky. (I certainly hope it isn’t MY childhood home you’re thinking of…because we may have been a large Mormon family with a burn barrel outside, dead/trapped carcasses in the yard, and chickens, but we did NOT stink!)

Now envision the opposite experience, say at your Grandma’s house or some other friend. You walk into a home and feel serene. You want to stay. There is something in that house that is “homey”. (Like my Grandma Sharon, whose house has always smelled fresh as a magnolia flower. Sorry Grandma Amaro, yours would have to fall on the side of the faint smell of pee pee and big boobie body odor…but I still loved your cooking…and you, rest in peace)





I’m here to tell you there is a matter of fact, simple formula to such a feeling. About 50% of it is the well thought out, executed interiors. The other 50% is, naturally, the people inside.

Since we can’t change the people inside, we can at least beautify the surroundings in which they bother us. Today I am giving you Rachel Stewart’s 7 simple to do, quick and rather obvious ideas that are virtually cost free for your abode, whether it be a mansion, an apartment, or a cardboard box. And oh, what a beautiful box it could be. You might want to write these down. They could be worth a fortune someday, once I’m discovered by Oprah:


De-clutter
Get rid of anything you don’t need. Corners in the home are not designed for stacked paperwork, shoes, and piles of books. Countertops do not exist simply to be filled from end to end with appliances, dishes, and junk mail. The same goes for your walls. Quit hanging pictures in every open space on the wall. There are a million beautiful things in this world, but they all shouldn't fit in your home. Be selective, your eyes need to rest too. Clean your existence as you would clean your grimey teeth in the morning...the food may have been delicious and well presented, but it doesn't belong wedged everywhere in your teeth. The same goes for your home!


Add a lamp
Too often we are subject to the harsh lighting of a cheap landlord’s approval, or from the cheap homebuilder who built our home. This results in unwanted images of cellulite as you undress, and a general darker feeling in the house as a result of low and poorly distributed white wattage. Lamps are warmer, friendlier, and set an instantly better mood.



Just because it is your favorite color, doesn’t mean your living room should be drowned in it.
Add your favorite color in splashes, or on just one wall if it is a bold color. Engulfing an entire room in beach bum orange might seem great on an episode of Trading Spaces with the perfect hot camera lights, but will make you and visitors feel queasy after 5 minutes. Remember that neutrals may initially seem boring, but in my unexpert opinion, they soothe the soul.

Clean with scented disinfectants.
And please clean thoroughly.



Add a candle.
Cost can be as little as = $0.99. Gas to get to and from Target =$1.79. Candy bar to hold you over on the ride home= $0.89. A glowing and romantic mood to your home= Priceless.



Add a baby.
I did say that these were cost effective tips, so I must note that I recommend thought and a spouse before adding this to your home. And this is the one tip where cardboard boxes must count as an exclusion. Nothing will compare to the beauty that will fill your home, and better yet, you will forever have an excuse as to why your house reeks of urine and dried up bits of turkey deli meat. Oddly enough, people will look forward to returning to your house more and more.





7. If not a baby, something that represents life.
Floral arrangements (I’m not talking about the fake hot pink kind Grandma Amaro used to put outside in her yard during the winter months). It is okay if they aren’t real. But I think we all know what we’re talking about when we must decipher between fake and FAAAAKKKKE. Put anything you think is beautiful and inspiring in your home, and make them the focus of attention by not cluttering a million other little things around them.



Ignore anything and everything I say if you so choose. Sell everything you own and move to Montenegro.
After all, what do I know? Have you seen my pathetically homemade, dreadfully stitched throw pillows on our office futon?