Friday, September 14, 2012

Rockstar Cords

Just the other night I told Bryce that I wanted some cords and a denim shirt.  He said, "Don't go manish on me."

"Manish? I said. "Please! I've been wearing that look, on and off, since we kissed seventeen years ago in the denim stockroom at the Gap.  Didn't seem to bother you then.  Manish.  You've lost your sense of fashion."

Then the next day I went to lunch with my friends, and Shannon said she just bought some cords.

"Where did you get them?" I asked.  "We must be going to the same Circle K for our Diet Cokes, because just last night I said I needed some cords."

"Well," she said, Old Navy has the best cords right now, and I don't usually buy my pants from there, but they are the best, especially since they are 30 bucks.  Just be warned: they run really, really small, so you"ll have to go up a few sizes."

Last night I took her advice and I trucked it over to Old Slavy (that's what you call it if you work there), and bought some cords.  I took this picture so you could see what they look like.  Do you like my contorted and mysterious pose?  I couldn't fit my whole body in the picture, but it doesn't matter since I know you're not judgin' me.  And,  from the looks of it, Bryce likes the pose and cords, anyway.  Do you see him peeking from behind my shoulder?  Not so manish, right?

P.S.  I never worked at Old Slavy, but Bryce did.  Too bad I couldn't kiss him in their stockroom.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Have you watched "Jiro Dreams of Sushi?"  We started watching it on Netflix last night and I'm enthralled.  Here's a trailer if you want to know about it.  Maybe you'll be the next greatest something...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Farmhouse Obsession

Down the street from us there's a farmhouse for sale.  I'm obsessed with living in it.  Each day I come home from school to check the MLS to see if it's sold yet.  And last weekend I drove past it 20 times and even drove up to stare through its windows.

"It's not going to sell," I placate myself.  "It sits on the edge of a busy street and was built in 1952, so hellou, money pit.  The house sits on an acre lot whose land is to the side of it instead of in the back.  Who has a sideyard for a backyard?  And the land in the back houses somebody elses cows.  Unless there's free milk and cheese involved, who wants to smell all that?

This is what my rational brain tells me.  But over breakfast this morning I told Bryce,

"Maybe we should move there. Let's ask Travis, the owner, if we can just rent it from him--see if we like living there, on a busy street, in a county island.  Living on an acre has it's advantages, you know.  We could play baseball, plant a garden, get chickens and goats, compost, even build a better house when we're rich and country fancy.

"It's a money pit, Katy, I'm telling you.  But, maybe it's worth looking into.  It may have some potential."

He's giving me the green light, I think.  I'll keep you posted, but if you're interested in the money pit, you can look here.  Also, living here would allow me to inherit some super cool neighbors.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Constructive Criticism: Can You Take It?

I'm a good substitute teacher, maybe top 10 in the district if there were a contest.  But just today, some students shared with me that a teacher, for whom I subbed, was talking a little trash behind my back.  The students said:

"Mrs. Krantz said you have sucky handwriting, and so she couldn't read any of your notes you left her.  Also, you messed up a bunch of stuff, so, yeah, she was kinda bugged."

I stared at them in utter horror.

"She really said that?  About me, The Katy Suzuki? That's OK, girls.  I'll talk to her to make sure things are all right.  I feel horrible if that's really true.  Thanks, girls."

Of course I was nice about it on the outside, but my inner-me wanted to take the situation to the back fields.  Sucky.  My handwriting?  I've never heard that one before; and who uses that word, anyway? Especially in front of teenagers?

I texted her and asked if all this was true and she said the handwriting part was.

"I had a hard time reading your writing, and that was difficult for me."

"I'm so sorry," I said.  "I hope it didn't cause problems."

"Don't worry about it; it's fine.  Everything else was fine. Thanks."

"OK, thanks:)"  I texted back, leaving a smiley to let her know I put my dukes in my khakis' back pockets."

All day I've thought about my handwriting and how I thought it was actually quiet pretty.  I even wrote a little note to myself using the same kind of writing I always use, "Don't forget to pay the pest control guy."  The words and letters were legible, and I stood back to see if I could still read the note from a distance.  Crystal clear.

But just seconds ago I went outside to get the mail and in the stack there was a letter stamped "return to sender."  In perfectly printed writing above the address was written, "No such address."  I double checked the address to make sure I had written it correctly, and I had.  But a closer look to the street name revealed a truth that I might have to inhale (or suck).  When I had written Flower Rd., my F and L connected, forming an A: Aower Rd.  Now, on any other day, I wouldn't have thought twice about the returned letter.  I would blame the returned letter on the mailman's ineptitude and move on with it.  Instead, I readdressed a new envelope, printing FLOWER in all caps.

Maybe what looks perfectly fine to me is chicken scratch to somebody else.  Yes, Katy, your writing sucks.  Work on it.

P.S.  I also cut my bangs.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sweet Is the Work

Here is the video of the activity day girls doing the dance.  They hooted and cheered after each time we shook it like a Polaroid.  Some girls said, "I'm doing this dance at my school talent show," and others said, "I'm going to teach this dance to my little sister when I get home."  I think a love for dance is universal, and I thank Savannah Harrison for helping us move like this!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Shake It, Homeboy

My homegurl and I spent yesterday trying to come up with a dance for the stake activity days activity.  Thanks to my cousin Meghan, we ripped off a few of her dance moves and put together the dance in the video below.  Although the video shows the dance in a very premature state, (I'll show you a perfected version next post!), I want you to watch my homeboy preform his own version of the dance.  He's the one in the red shirt, in case you're wondering, and I didn't even know he was there mimicking us.  I seriously busted a gut, and I had to watch it about a billion times so I could catch his every move.  Enjoy.

P.S.  I know my house looks like I've given up.  I haven't.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

5 Things I Didn't Do This Summer

 1.  Eat a healthy breakfast.  Every morning we drove to Jamboree and Alton Parkway and ate pastries at 85 Degrees.  Have you heard of it? If not, click on Yelp's reviews here to read all about it.  The four of us ate like we were in France, all for under seven bucks a day.

2.  Read Fifty Shades of Grey.  Instead I finished rereading Romeo and Juliet and left the romantic parts to my imagination.

3. Exercise.  Remember how I was getting into my personal fitness?  Well that ended three days after I bragged about it to you.  Summer kind of got in the way. But at least once a week, I cartwheeled along  Newport's sandy shore.  Does that count?  That was right after I had a red velvet cupcake from Susie Cakes.  Have you had one?

4.  Yell.  OK, maybe I yelled once or twice, but that's a major improvement for this passionate, crazed chica.  This summer I trapped my swamp witch and loved on my homies until they said, "What's wrong with you, Mom?" :)

5.  Listen to Spotify.  Have you downloaded it onto your computer yet?  They're going to put iTunes out of biz, I tell ya!  You can download and listen to any song for one low monthly price.  Or, you can be like me and listen to the free, but commercial filled version.  Still LOVE IT, and as I'm typing this I'm tapping my toes to Erasure's "Respect." Then next up is a little Skid Row, Smiths, and Santigold.

P.S.  Cali was worth every Benjamin I spent.  Just take a look at my homegurl.  Did the teachers at Maple do a good job or what? She's the very best.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Girl and Pizza

Yesterday my homeboyz went to a D-backs game.  Since my homgurl and I didn't want to eat peanuts and Crackerjacks for dinner, we decided to stay home and do our own thang.  Instead of staying home and eating leftover potato soup like I had promised myself I would do, we hopped in the car and headed to Pizzeria Bianco.  If you're an Arizonian, you know this pizza joint is infamous for its 2 hour wait times.  We've attempted eating there before, but there isn't a pizza on earth worth that wait, not even Oprah can convince me otherwise.

When we pulled up to the valet  I said to my homegurl, "If it's more than a 30 minute wait, we're going to eat bean and cheese burritos at Del Taco."  She curled her lip and stuck her tongue out at that idea. "How about Cheesecake?" she said.

I rolled down the window and asked the young man, "What's the wait?"

He flung his hands in the air like I had just handed him Wonka's Golden Ticket.
"Lucky you," he said.  "We're dead tonight."

My girl and I looked at each other in disbelief as the valet excused us from our car.  In the eight years we've lived in Arizona, we had never been closer to sinking our chompers into food fit enough for Arizona Royalty.

The Pizza We Ordered

Our First Bites
Diet Coke in a glass bottle

Homgurlz Por Vida (for life)

 We gave the pizza a 7 out of 10.  We've had better, in NY, of course.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

My sweet friend sent me this link to a Myers-Briggs personality test.  Have you ever taken one?  I took a similar test during my freshman year in college, but I couldn't remember its outcome.  Curious to see if my personality was similar to my friend's ENFP, I took the test.  Turns out I'm an ENFJ, just like Ronald Reagan, Ashton Kutcher, and my cousin Darcy.

What are you?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Put a Bird On It

Mi amor introduced me to the show Portlandia.  Do you watch it?  It's a satiric sketch comedy similar to SNL, and It's been on TV for two years, so you probably know all about it, and me sharing this video will be like seriously, chica, step into the now already.

While some of the sketches are not suitable for pious gals like you and me, some of the skits provide an insightful commentary about people, like me, who grew up in the nineties.  Hellou, lovers of Nirvana and everything grunge, am I describing you?

I made sure mi amor only showed me rated G clips, and now I'm sharing my favorite one with you.
After watching this video, you may agree that I should update my blog's banner.  The bird is so 3 years ago, right?  Why do I love birds on things?  And why do I still crank Kurt Cobain's "Smells Like Teen Spirit?"

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Be Strong and Summer Reading

I just walked in the from the gym and took this gratuitous picture of myself.  Are you grossed out at the sight of my pits? Wipe the throw-up from your chin and be glad that I'm once again recommitting myself to physical fitness.  Unlike moi, you're probably already working-out, and you don't need to sweat all your swamp witch out before your homies awaken in the morning.  I really am a better person when I exercise.

We're spending most of our summer living with mi abuelo in Santa Ana, CA.  My homegurl will be dancing here while my homeboyz and I will be reading books from Arizona's 2012-2013 Battle of the Books reading list.  Between books we'll be hittin' up D-land and teaching ourselves to catch some serious waves.  I may even do back handsprings along Newport's shore.  What will happen to my c-section scars, though?  I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, I can't wait to hear and read about what you're doing this summer.

I've linked all the books from the list in case you're interested:

by Bruce Coville
by Patricia Reilly Giff
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
by Cynthia Lord
Battle Two
by Blue Balliett
by Gary Paulsen
by Avi
by Pam Munoz Ryan
Battle Three
by Kate DiCamillo
by Dean Pitchford
by Jeanne DuPrau
by Gail Carson Levine

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Real Simple Essay Contest

Ryan Mesina
Are you entering Real Simple's fifth annual Life Lessons writing contest?  I'm thinking about entering, and I even have an idea of what I'll write about.  Here's the writing prompt if you're interested, too:

If you could change one decision that you made in the past, what would it be? No, you can't go back in time, but here's the next best thing. Think of a decision that you regret—anything from a ridiculous choice of prom date to a serious lapse in judgment—and tell us what the mistake taught you about yourself.

Go here to read all about it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mother's Day Getup Continued

 Eric, the one with the short hair, was my 11th grade nemesis. 

I covered my face and listened as the principal's voice fought through the speaker static, "This year's senior student body officers are as follows: Treasurer, Rita Hanks; Secretary, Megan Biggs; Vice President; Laurie Valroy..."

The new USB officers were all girls.  What was Eric going to do with a room full of intelligent, smart, and talented girls?  I belong in there. Pick me.  Pick me, everyone.  I hope you picked me--my last internal plea before the verdict was announced.

The principal paused, clearing his throat, "Ramona High's new student body president is...Katy Ballantyne!"

My class turned to look at me.  One boy started clapping and the rest of the room joined in.  I had won.  I, Katy, had defeated The Eric Ferguson!  But had it not been for mi Madre, I would have bowed out the day I came home crying.  Word to mi Madre!

P.S.  My homgurl said, referring to Eric's picture and all the trauma he caused, "Him, Mom?  He looks like he's missing a tooth."

"He's not missing a tooth," I said.  "It's just the way the picture looks.  But the guy next to Eric is my friend Matt.  He voted for me."

"That was high school, Mom.  Why are you talking about it now?"

"Good question."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Getup

I paid 40 bucks for this outfit, including the necklace--a gift to myself for my b-day and Mother's Day.  Although the picture doesn't show it, the black bowed pencil skirt barley skims the tops of my knees. (The model's is much shorter, FYI.)  I battled to keep it covering my legs throughout yesterday's Sunday service. I told my Primary girls, "Sorry if you see too much of Sister Suzuki's varicose veins.  It's what happens when you cross your legs while turning into an old lady like me."  They smiled and said, "You're not old, yet, and what are varicose veins?"

I said, pointing to the inner backsides of my knees and calves,"They're these spiderweb looking things all over my legs.   Maybe next Mother's Day I should get a black widow tattooed in the middle of this veiny webbed mess.  What do you girls think?"

"Eeew, Sister Suzuki, tattoos are so ugly and gross."

"Just kidding, girls, you know Sister Suzuki would never get a tattoo."  And then I said, "Never let me talk about myself in third person again, OK?"  They all agreed and then we talked all about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis.

I thought about mi Madre all day.  I remembered the time I came home bawling my brains out because Eric Furgeson had decided to run against me for Student Body President.  He was so cute and all the girls loved him.  I was not as cute, and all the girls just liked me.  I couldn't compete, and now my chances of getting into BYU were ruined.  I was counting on that leadership position to erase my inconsistent GPA pattern.

"Stop crying, honey.  We'll think of something," she said while hugging me and patting my back.  I went to my room and cried in the mirror.  Isn't that weird of me?

My mom peeked her head through the door and said, "In the morning before seminary, let's plaster the school with posters.  I'm talking hundreds of copies in every hallway, and then one big poster above the auditorium.  We'll write, "Vote for Katy; She's your lady," all over the place.  Eric won't put that kind of effort into it; he's a boy."

We got to work printing hundreds of fliers and making about 20 posters.  One of the posters was 10 x 20 feet long, and in big black block lettering it said: VOTE FOR KATY.  Like a super hero duo, mi madre and I flooded the campus with hundreds of posters.  By 6 a.m., the school was a billboard: VOTE FOR KATY; SHE'S YOUR LADY.

The poster campaign was a hit.  Students would walk by me saying my campaign slogan, but Eric rebutted, offering girls dates and an glossy 8 x 10 glamor head shot of himself.  Girls put the pictures in the covers of their binders, idolizing and kissing his face during lunch.  I was disgusted.  Didn't these same girls remember I had been their loyal class president for 9th and 11th grade?  The nachos and pizza they enjoyed during lunch were because of me, and I was the one who fought for Prom to be next to Disneyland.  Eric had never been on student council in his life!  But a pretty face can get you far in high school, and I was sure his looks, and nothing else, would catch their votes.

Mi madre continued making posters and treats for me to hand out during the week, and all along she'd say encouraging things:  You're a winner.  Don't sweat that jerk-face.  Be strong.

On election day, resigned to losing, I waited to hear the results during 4th hour.  The principal announced the winners, starting with 9th grade.  As he neared the senior class I shuttered to think how prom, pep rallies, and fund-raising would culminate under Eric's reign.  I hated him for running against me.

To Be Continued...I have to clean the bathrooms and fold the laundry or else my homies won't find their clean socks. Then mi Amor will wonder what I did all day:)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Eve

Are you getting ready for Mother's Day?  Do you have a new summer dress to wear?  Or are you skipping it because you think Mother's Day is a commerical holiday?  I, of course, bought a skirt and shirt at Forever 21.  I will post a picture of my getup for tomorrow's special day (like you even care about what I'm going to wear to church tomorrow).  But until then, I'm reposting this story because I think about Alvin and su madre from time to time. 

 May, 2010

You may think you're staring at Sugar Lips the Drag Queen, but it's just me. I'm doing this glamorous pose just for you, and I'm hoping you're having a wonderful Mother's Day. Mothers are the best, you know, especially that mother who goes by the name of Mi MadreAnyhoo...

On Friday I was invited to hang with my littlest homie and his classmates at an exclusive mommy makeover event.  As I walked into room A-3 the kids sang in unison, "Josh, she's here! Your mom is really here!" They made me feel like Queen Elizabeth, and so I graciously sat in my throne sized for Goldilocks's littlest bear. I began nibbling (like, inhaling) a sugar cookie while my homie sat on my lap and chatted in my ear about recess, corn dogs for lunch, and how we just saw Kent Grober pick it and eat it. All the while, the kids in A-3 continued announcing each mom as she entered, "She's here. Your mom is really here!" Within minutes, the room was overflowing with the lilting sounds of moms' kisses and best wishes.

As Mrs. Harnish stood to began explaining that day's event, my homie and I could hear coming from behind, "sniff-sniff, sniff-sniff." We synchronously turned around. "Alvin!" Josh said, concerned. "What's the matter, Alvin? I know what's wrong. Your mom is not here yet, huh? Where is she, Alvin.  Where is she?"

Alvin lowered his head and we watched as his hot tears dotted his tan corduroy pants.

"Guess what, Alvin?" Josh said, wiggling Alvin's shoulders back and forth. "My mom has two eyes and she has two cheeks and she likes kids and so you and me can share my mom. You put makeup on this eye, and I'll put makeup on the other eye. We can share, Alvin, just like when we share our scissors."

Alvin said, "No thank you, Josh," and began crying even more.

"Where's his mother?" I said in desperation, while flagging down Mrs. Harnish. "Where in the world is his mother?"

"I have no idea," she said. "And I'm, like, dying right now." She leaned over Alvin and began rubbing his back. The whole class of kids and moms sat staring at Alvin who was now beginning to curl on the floor in the fetal position.

Just when we thought all was lost in Alvin's 5 year-old world, the door to room A-3 swung open. Like the angel of hope, peace, and joy, Alvin's mom stepped through the door. (She had wings.)

"Alvin, she's here! Your mom is really here!" we all sang like the Mo Tab choir. "Hallelujah!"

He ran and jumped into her arms, and while she rocked him back and forth she said, "You were the only one without a mom? The only one, huh? I'm so sorry!"

She kissed him head to toe and then sat in her throne sized for Goldilocks's littlest bear. A queen. An angel. A mom. She made his world new. Just like that.

P.S. Beauty by Josh is taking new clients. So if you'd like an appointment, just drop me a line, chica. Makeup artistry doesn't get better.

P.P.S In that top picture, do you see an arm that looks like a Madonna arm? Just wondering.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


On May 18th-20th,  Ballet Etudes will perform their magical production of Cinderella.  Seats are selling fast, so go here if you're interested in twirling with my homegurl through this fairytale dreamland.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

If I Had One Wish

Tomorrow I'm turning thirty-eight, so this morning I strutted my fanny around the house announcing: "It's my birthday eve, ya'll.  Time to celebrate!  Today I'm buying a new outfit for tomorrow's lunch and maybe I'll get a new kohl eyeliner from MAC, the electric blue one." 
My homies, now awake but still in bed, chortled, "Happy birthday eve.  Happy birthday eve, Mom."  

I was up earlier than everyone else because I had promised mi Amor an early morning Don Draper (a haircut, chicas).  A couple months ago at lunch, a waitress told him his hair looks like Don Draper's, and she couldn't have paid the man a better compliment.  

"She wants a piece of you, Don."  I said, smiling as he told me the story. "Who wouldn't want to get with a successful, charming, and funny man?   You need to wear your wedding ring or the next time she sees you she'll think you're available, and she'll leave her number on your bill.  Are you available or something?"

"Oh, please, Katy!  She was just talking about my hair, not the rest of me." 

"I don't like it when you call me Katy," I said.  "And you STILL don't know how girls work?  She was trying to tell you she thinks you're cute.  Girls don't give compliments unless they're flirting.  What will I do with you, Don?  Can't you see she wants to be your Betty?"

"I'm just a simple man, Katy; I take what I hear at face value." 

This is his way of surrendering when a woman's world becomes incomprehensible.  

As I began cutting his hair I reinvented my birthday list.  "I'd love Bond No. 9 perfume, but it's 170 bucks for a bottle the size of a thimble, so don't get me that.  I also want these sandals I saw at Nordstrom the other day.  I almost bought them, but you know how cheap I am; I never pay over 50, so don't buy those, either."

Concerned, he replied, "What should I buy again?  I mean, I have a few ideas, but I don't want to later hear that you felt like I didn't put enough thought into celebrating your birthday.  Remember how you got so mad when I bought those flowers from Bashas' on the way home from work?  They spent 10 minutes on the counter before they were strewn across the backyard lawn."

He swiveled his head, his wet black hair slipping from between my fingers.  "You really don't want the perfume and sandals?  I'm not supposed to decipher that no really means yes, right?  I'm still getting you the iPad with my American Express points, correct?  Over a week ago you said that's what you really wanted."

"Yes, yes, the iPad." I nodded.  "We can share it, and I'll use it for my Sunday lessons.  I still want the iPad.  All this other talk is just wishful thinking out loud."  I moved from trimming the hair around his ears to the hair around his neckline.  I slid my hands to the base of his neck and gently tilted his head forward.  He continued talking, his voice echoing against the nylon cape draped around his shoulders.

"If you've changed your mind, I'll pickup something else." 

"No, the iPad, I still want it," I said, quickly reaffirming my original birthday wish.  "Besides, it's like the iPad is free, and I'm grateful you're sacrificing your points instead of saving them for your trip to Japan."

"You know what I want to give you most of all, my love?"  He calls me love when we're most intimate.

"No.  What?"  I said, hinged to his words.

"Happiness.  I want you to be happy.  Happy here with me.  Happy in Arizona.  Just happy, you know?"

"I am. I am."  I said it twice, convincing the two of us.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Women's Conference

Last weekend my posse and I headed to the Y for Women's Conference.  We accidentally missed the first day because we were stranded at City Creek's Nordstorm. When we finally arrived, some of our friends asked how we were enjoying the classes so far.  We said, "Well, yesterday we did a session in Salt Lake, and it wasn't at the temple, either."

They thought we were gansta rebellious, but we tried not feeling too guilty, especially since I kept telling my homegurlz, "If you need classes on how to be a better mom, lover, friend, and budgeter, just ask me for the answers."  This comment made them laugh because they all know how terribly flawed I am.  I've told them stories of how I go over budget, yell at my homies, and forget to celebrate good friends' b-days.  I'm a mess, I tell you.

We did attend most of Friday's classes, and I have pages of notes I've written to myself.  Here's the condensed version, FYI:

1.  Get your rear out of bed earlier in the morning. (I love oversleeping more than mousse pie and a Dr. Pepper after Fast Sunday.)  When I oversleep, everyone suffers. Just get up already.

2.  When you tuck your homies in bed, put your pent-up frustrations in the trash.  Try to speak words of love to them or keep your lips zipped.  No one likes a swamp witch to tuck them in at night.  This has been an ongoing goal, but I needed a reminder.

3.  Read the scriptures before family scripture study.  Then you'll lead a meaningful discussion about what's happening in the story.

4.  Listen to the Spirit.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One Year of Home Schooling

You may think I've replaced my arm with a leg.  My bicep is pressed against my padded VS bra, so that's why my arm is as big as my head.  It's a horrid picture, especially since the picture's composition and my posture make it look I'm taking my homie to a Sadie Hawkins dance. I just wanted to give you a chance to snicker at my larm (leg-arm). Isn't your day better now?

I'm so tempted to home school my boys, just for a year.  In one year I'd like to see if I could outdo what's done in a class filled with twenty-eight students and one little teacher.  I'm positive I could teach double or triple the expected curriculum standard for their grade levels. What a public school gets done in six hours, I could do in 2 hours max. We'd read books from a customized reading list that would prepare them for high school and beyond.  We'd use Kumon and Saxon for our math class, and I'd buy Sonlight's core curriculum to fill in all the gaps (history and science), and I'd top it all off with some Easy Grammar.  The three of us would get done in a year what a public school gets done in two or three years.  Plus, the added benefit of having them home with me is enticing me in ways it never has before. I feel like I can't be around them enough.

But what about all their friends?  Sometimes I think the street smarts my homies glean from the good and the bad social parts of school far outweigh the academics.  I would have never learned how to flip-off someone had I not been a VIP at Julie Trejo's exclusive tutorial in the girls' bathroom. I've kept her valuable lesson in the corner of my mind, just in case. My homies' teachers have taught them to lovingly and empathetically team with classmates who have special needs. They've learned how to retaliate when the the bully boys call out: "You've got lady legs, pretty boy."  They've learned how to listen and follow directions en masse, preparing them for the college classroom and their future jobs.  The education I could provide would eliminate valuable life lessons, and I could never forgive myself if they left my home ill-prepared for the real world.  I will have to pray about this one.

P.S.  Do you know what a butterfly uses to slurp nectar?  A proboscis.  I learned that in Mrs. Askew's second grade class, and I still remember it to this day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

World Map

In high school, I couldn't have pointed to Botswana on the world map hanging at the front of the classroom.  I didn't know where the rest of the world was, outside the fifty-nifty United States, until my freshman year in college--an embarrassing confession, I know.  I've spent the last two days subbing in a World History class, and the map pictured above engulfs the classroom's front wall.  Nine feet by thirteen feet, the world map includes time zones, the varying depths of every ocean, and all the cities, states, countries found on this good earth.

While I walked around the classroom today, ensuring students were writing their five paragraphs about Gandhi, I paused to peruse the map.  I found Iraq, then looked for Hong Kong. Running my finger along the equator, I stop in Brazil.  "You're weird, Katy," I thought to myself, turning around to see if anyone was looking at me.  Two students were entranced, so I crinkled my nose and whispered, "I want one of these maps, you know?"  I quickly looked the other way and began shuffling papers, pretending to be doing something important.  They thought I was weird for sure.  Aren't all subs?

If you want to plaster your wall with a real-live map like the one you'd find at Highland High School, a whooping 150 bucks will get you one of these.  Click here for details.  I'm ordering one this very minute.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Thanks to Katniss's seemingly effortless hairdo, braids are stormin' the heads of our local teeny boppers.  My homgurl has locks like Rapunzel's so she's able to experiment with her hair.  I, sadly, have to wear a wig if I want to have braids like those pictures below.

P.S. Don't mind the garbage.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Weightier Issues

Melissa Hayden, Swan lake
My homegurl is in the center, second row back. 

As a freshman in college, I experimented with extreme dieting as I watched my college roommate successfully puke-up and shed her freshman 15 before returning home for the summer. No one was more aware of my new weight gain than I.  And, at the time, I would have done anything to have the body I had nine months prior to entering college.  When I returned home that summer and expressed my concern to mi madre, she slowly spun me around, checking me from head to toe.  While nodding with approval she said something like: You look more gorgeous than ever.  I've missed you so very much, and I'm so glad you're home.  Had she said anything to me, confirming what I had been feeling about my figure, I may have spent my summer rekindling my relationship with my finger and the toilet.  Instead, I spent the summer eating fresh veggies from mi madre's garden and biking 6 miles to and from work each day. A change in my routine from sitting long hours in the library and classroom returned me to my usual weight. 

Last Sunday The Times published an article about Dara-Lynn Weiss, a mother, who after meeting with her daughter's pediatrician learned her daughter was, according to the BMI chart, obese.  Upon hearing this news, Dara-Lynn gave herself license to put her daughter, Bea, on a strict diet.  Cutting Bea's meal portions in half, monitoring the foods she ate while at school, and basically announcing through a bullhorn to family and friends that Bea was overweight and on a D-I-E-T, her daughter shed 16 pounds.  Dara-Lynn, after writing an article about Bea's diet for April's edition of Vogue, signed a book deal.  The media has both slandered and praised Dara-Lynn for her methods.

My first read of this article generated a feeling of wanting to meet Dara-Lynn at the back of the school fields, where I'd whomp on her dieting police boo-tay.  I wanted to squeeze her cheeks (the ones on her face) and explain: Bea is just getting ready for a growth spurt, and all those stored reserves are in wait for Bea's metamorphosis into becoming a beautiful young woman.  On the other hand, I was reminded that just the other day, I told my homegurl she didn't need to eat that second cinnamon roll she was reaching across the counter for. One was enough for my ballet girl, and I offered to make her a plate of carrots and cucumbers instead. This memory made me think to myself, "You're a monster compared to sweet Dara-Lynn.  After all, who made those tempting, butter-laden cinnamon rolls?  You did, you enabler. Then you made your daughter feel guilty for wanting another.  You should be tied and quartered for running your mouth like that. This wasn't the first time I had stopped her from eating something that could alter her shape.

You see, in the ballet world, no matter what anybody says, body size is EVERYTHING.  Just look up Balanchine body (a long, lean, and sculpted frame), and you'll get lists upon lists of what the ideal ballerina should look like.  While Hannah was auditioning for summer intensives, underneath the the description of each school there would be a warning like: "They only accept a certain body type." or "They are open to a more athletic build."  As my homegurl's mother, I feel like it's my job to help her maintain the healthy body that would put her in the running for becoming a professional ballerina.  But I fear some of the comments or looks I've made about her eating choices have translated into: Don't you dare reach for another handful of food. (You'll become fat.) I've never said it directly.

 Nobody else feels pressure to look a certain way more than she.  She dances with it for fifteen hours each week, then comes home to find her dancing partner (the ideal body) on TV, facebook, and sees it again in her friends who are already dieting because they feel "fat." To her detriment, she sees it again when her mother, the woman she admires and trusts, makes small comments in order to get her to change her mind about what she's going to eat. I've even seen her hurriedly put back what she was about to eat in fear of my disapproval.

Since reading the article I've talked to my homegurl about the things I've said.  She told me she's glad for the reminders because if it were up to her, she'd down an entire carton of cookie dough ice cream, each day, for the rest of her life.  But she also said that the a few of my comments have made her feel dumb and like I don't trust her choices.  I said I was sorry, and to never become a mother like me, and to please forgive me, if possible.  She forgave me or is in the process, I think.  I also reminded her that starving herself or barfing-up her food isn't an option, ever.

My mother, in all her life, has never said anything to make me feel my eating choices were unacceptable.  Instead, she always had a house filled with healthy choices and a few sweets.  As children, we were able to choose what we wanted to eat, and if we ate all the chips in one day, there wouldn't be anymore until the next shopping trip.  This made us learn how to ration the sweets and grow a taste for healthier foods. Dr. Kimberly Dennis suggests that the best solution for healthy living is, "Life-style changes, in tandem with pleasurable exercise and emotional care, ... have the potential to effect life-long changes for the better."

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm a Rockstar

Last week our computer crashed, and we rushed it to the Apple store for repair.  After several diagnostic tests, the technician said we needed a new hard drive, and he was going to have to wipe our entire system.  Luckily we had backed up our computer a month before, so we were able to reload the computer with all of our files.  As I updated the computer, I took a trip down Memory Lane, looking at old pictures and videos of my homies.  When I came across this never before seen video of my homgurl,  I fell off my chair in a fit of laughter.  She made it about 5 years ago, and she said it took her many takes to get the song just right.  I told her that her video and her little voice will be vaulted in my heart forever.

In case you need the words so you can sing along, they are as follows:

I'm a rockstar; there's no doubt about it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Girls' Camp: Shine On

I nearly flew to the moon and back when the stake asked me to be a part of planning this year's girls' camp. At our first committee meeting I said, "Next to helping to build testimonies, the most important thing about girls' camp is the T-shirt." The T-shirt has to be cool, cooler than One Direction. (Have you heard of this boy-band all the girls are crazy for?)

The ladies on the committee all agreed, and we decided to use the TOMS label as our inspiration for this year's YCL (youth camp leader) T-shirt logo.  We e-mailed our idea to the famous Amy Gregory of Inkd Designs, and she brilliantly created the two designs below for us to choose from.

Are you dying at how tuned-in to cool she is?  Way better than One Direction, right?

Monday, April 9, 2012

On a Scale of 1 to10

Last night I asked Bryce, "If you could rate our relationship on a scale of 1 to 10, one being calling it quits time and a ten being time to write a book about how good we are together, how would you rate our relationship?"

Without thinking he said, "9.75."
"Really?" I said, confused. " I was thinking we were at a 5.0, maybe lower."

Previous to last night, an insensitive comment catapulted us into the depths of a five-day long argument.  Bouncing blame back and forth night after night, our argument climaxed when I marched into the garage, ready to hop into my car and drive west until I ran out of gas. (I would make Blythe, CA my new home.)  But instead of moving out, I marched back into the house, gave him the death stare, and resolved in my mind I would never say another word, ever, until he said: I'm sorry.  After all, he was the one who started it.  And I was the one who was going to keep it going, and win.

The next day, immediatley as he walked in the front door from work, he said it: "I'm sorry, Katy," his arm outstretched, his hand reaching for me, a peace offering for me to have and to hold.

I kept my distance, standing behind the kitchen counter, and with my arms crossed and hips out I said,  "Well, it's going to take more than that to show me you're really sorry.  You must also buy me an Easter dress from Banana and a bouquet of flowers from Trader Joe's." I couldn't finish my sentence without smiling.

"Done." He said, willing to do whatever I asked so he could bail himself out of being a POW in his own home.

"Just kidding, Bryce. You know I hate flowers." I said.

He replied, "Whatever you say.  I'm only a man trying to do the best I can."

Our fight went on for way too long, and I was the one who kept it going.  Although last night's assessment of our relationship was rather generous, our relationship normally hoovers above an 8 most of the time.  But due to some recent challenges, it's dipped below our normal, rock-steady score.  President Uchtdorf's advice to just "Stop it!" and Bryce's "I'm only a man," confession have inspired me to forgive quicker and let it go.  An attitude adjustment/lobotomy might help, too.  I'm hoping the next time we rate our relationship, I'll be the optimist and rate us at a 9.99.

P.S.  Go here for a free printable of President Uchtdorf's advice.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Refuse

"Ma'am, do you know how fast you were traveling?"

"Yes, 80 mph."

"No, Ma'am, I clocked you going 90 mph."

"Officer, I had my speed set to 80 mph, come look at my cruise control settings. I wasn't speeding.  In fact, being that it's Saturday, I took extra caution to ensure I wasn't speeding."

"It took you quite a while to pull over. I followed you for at least a mile, and you didn't even notice. Please hand me you license, vehicle's registration, and proof of insurance."

I watched through my rear view mirror while he walked to his patrol car.  I was positive he wouldn't write me a ticket, especially since I explained I was only going 80 mph, not 90.  He was just checking to see if my record was clear.  He came back.

"Ma'am, when is the last time you've gotten a ticket?"

"Years.  I'm a careful driver."

"Have you heard of traffic school?"

What? Yes, but you're not writing me a ticket, are you?

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Well, I've got to call my lawyer (Bryce) to see if I have to sign that ticket.  I really wasn't speeding."

"Ma'am, you do not need to call your lawyer.  This is a civil complaint, not criminal."

"I won't sign it.  I wasn't speeding.  My car was on cruise control.  Come see. Look, what happens if I don't sign it?  Is it illegal?"

"Ma'am, listen, if it were illegal, I'd already have you in cuffs.  I'm just going to write "refused"on the signature line and drop this ticket on your seat.  OK?"


"Have a good day.  Sorry for not signing the ticket," I said as he walked away.

He turned back and said, "You'll still have to pay for that ticket; you were speeding."

"I wasn't speeding," I said under my breath.

P.S.  You should always sign your tickets.  Your signature only means that you're aware of the complaint against you.  It's not a confession of guilt.  Don't be an idiot.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Your Moves Are Like Jagger

Mercy gave Josh, my littlest homie, this handmade card for Valentine's Day.  Hands down, it's the best card he's ever received.  I hung it on our fridge as a daily affirmation: Yes, Katy, your mothering moves are like the iconic Mick Jagger's. Strut into this day like you own it.  There isn't a job more important than that of a good mother.  You are that mother.

I try to be better than good, and I take my mothering seriously.  At night I lie awake conjuring plans.  I form mental lists and strategies of how I can provide the experiences that will make my homies successful.  In the morning, I carry out those plans.  I sub at all of their schools, so I know what's going on in their school careers.  I stay up late doing homework, packing lunches, baking cookies, finishing projects, tickling backs, reading scriptures, fixing broken hearts, and saying prayers that will carry them through to the next day.

You do these things, too.

When I climb out of my mind to observe how all the little things I do are adding up, I fear it's not enough.  I fear we're falling terribly short of where we need to go.  This fear is always bedded beneath all my planning, and sometimes its threats of failure are stifling, especially when I receieve affirmations that what I'm doing late into the night, after everyone is sleeping, isn't enough.

Just the other day, a teacher sent an e-mail explaining how my homie was not producing work good enough for his advanced math and English classes.  Usually I'm gangsta' tough when it comes to constructive criticism about my homies.  I don't get offended, and I immediately fix the problem--dishes done, move forward.  But on this day, the note left me dangling from my rope of despair: "I can't do this job a-n-y-m-o-r-e,"  I said, starring at the computer screen. "Your homies need a smarter, more disciplined mom. Remember how you only got a 20 on the ACT and you forgot how to spell jealous in the 7th grade Spelling Bee?  Now your poor homies are stuck with you; they can only be as good as you are, and that's not good enough.

These are horrible things to say and think about oneself.  But after I had a night to lie awake, cry and pray, I erased those thoughts and conjured up a new plan:  If it takes me sitting in class with him every day until he gets it, I'll do it.

The next day I marched into the teacher's class and wrote down all the assignments he needed to redo.  The list was long, so I said, "I would love to sit in here and observe.  I will come to school with him every day and make sure he's getting what's going on.  I love this boy so much, and I want him to know he can do math.  He feels dumb, and  he's struggling more than ever before." And then I lost it.  I started crying.  Crying. Crying. Crying.  "I don't want him to feel like a failure," I said, holding my face to stop the tears.  She reassured me that she wouldn't kick him out of her class and reaffimed that he is a smart, good boy.  I thanked her, dried my tears and drove to Sonic.

Each night we work on math and writing together, redoing the last two weeks he didn't understand.  I kiss his cheeks and tell him I'm glad he's my boy.  I tell him he's smart and that the Lord is with him always.

Here's a reminder, in case today you are hanging onto your rope of despair:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Dance

Last Saturday night my homegurl boogied her way through her first church dance.  The kids were to come to the dance dressed in their PJs, so I said,

"What are you going to wear?  Your Soffe shorts and girls' camp T-shirt?  So hot!"
"No, Mom.  Nobody dresses up. That's what Grace says, anyway."
"So what are you going to wear then?"
"I don't know.  Whatever."

Unlike me, Hannah doesn't worry about what she's going to wear.  With hair and a smile like hers, she could wear an orange construction cone and still look stunning.  I, on the other hand, disguise my ugly with a new article of clothing, usually a shirt.  I feel twenty times more confident when I'm wearing something new.

"Let's go to Forever 21 and get a new shirt," I said.  She agreed.  But after five minutes of looking, Hannah, who hates shopping, said "Let's just go."

"No way! You're getting something new.  I don't want you to forget tonight, your first dance!  Can you even believe it?" I insisted.

She shrugged and said, "I'll stand in line while you pick something out."  I grabbed a shirt off the rack holding the fitting room rejects.  I walked to where Hannah was standing, waving the shirt around. "What about an accessory?  Accessories make the outfit, right? I said.  "Hurry, run, go get earrings or something to match."  She came back dangling a floral enamel key, hanging from a long gold chain.  "This is so me, Mom."  We piled the two items on the counter, paid the cashier, and were on our way.

"We have to curl your hair and pluck your eyebrows when we get home.  Plucking your eyebrows is priority #1; they are killing me.  Does it not bug you to see all those hairs poking outside of you brow line?"

"No, it doesn't bother me.  That's why the hairs are all still there," she said, rolling her eyes.

As the late afternoon turned to evening, she started fidgeting: playing the piano one minute, then reapplying lip gloss mid-song, then up from the bench to the fridge to grab a handful of chocolate chips. Her nerves had her scattered.

"What's the matter?" I said.

Mom, I don't know how to dance with a boy.  Like, where do my hands go?"

"Well first, you always let the boy ask; let him come to you. When he does ask..."

Bryce, overhearing our conversation and seeing my pathetic stand-in as a boy, interrupted our dance lesson.  He invited Hannah to join him on the living room floor.  "This is how you dance with a boy," he said, while extending his hand toward her.

Pulling her close and placing her left hand on his shoulder, his left hand on her waist,  he continued, "Let the boy lead.  Boys don't know how to lead anymore, but give him a chance.  Follow his moves and just relax; be yourself.  Talk about school, his family, music...

His voice trailed off as he turned. Standing at the carpet's edge, I watched as her anxiety melted into laughter as the two of them turned round and round.  He could always calm her in ways I never could.

As the dancing lesson ended he said, "I will buy you a longboard if you take a picture of the first boy who asks you to dance tonight.  I want to know all about him."

"Really, Dad?"

"Really," he said, smiling.  Send me his picture as soon as the dance ends.

She sent him the picture, and when she returned home, we asked for all the details:  How did he ask?  How was his breath?  What did you talk about?

She gave us the scoop, "He just walked up and said, while holding out his hand, 'May I have this dance?'"

"May I have this dance?" I repeated, giggling.  That's so old-fashioned, but totally polite.  " OK, keep going.  What else?"

"I don't know.  It was fine.  Whatever, you know?"

"Has Dad ordered the longboard yet?"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Should I Worry?

Mi Amor is in the bishopbric, so I have the job of making sure my homies behave while he sits on the stand.  They're good most of the time, but yesterday I felt like I was having to referee their game of Tug-of-War.

"Can we have gum?"
"Scratch my back, please."
"Do the Sally in the Garden game on my arm."
"Sam licked my cheek."
"I'm bored."
"How many more talks until this is over?"
"Hannah pinched my shoulder."
"He kicked my chair; I don't want to sit by him anymore."

You've had Sundays like this, too.

At one point, my littlest homie threw his sketchpad on my lap in utter disgust.  He crossed his arms and tears began streaming down his rosie cheeks.  I looked inside to see what was causing his breakdown. One of my homie's sketches had outwitted his own.  Should I be worried about the pictures below?

First Submission: Boy in a Burning House, No Firemen Available to Save Him

Response: Will the Blind Cops Save You?

Submission #2:  Eat This Nuke Cookie, Please, While I Fly Away 

His Response:

Here are the pictures that brought the sketch battle to a screeching halt.  

Submission #3  Your Brain Is Gone Forever

Response:  You Don't Even Have a Brain

Saying you are brainless is the BIGGEST insult in this nuke-filled, explosive, burning with volcanic fire world. 

 Please tell me we'll come out of weeks sitting together on the same pew with some appreciation of the Gospel.  I do try; I promise.  Also, I told them that people, especially brothers, are not for killing, even if it's only in a sketchpad filled with stick figures and destructive imaginations.