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.