Saturday, July 29, 2006

Megan's Wedding

So, my sister (half-sister, same mom, whatever; we grew up like "whole" sisters, as I used to say) Megan got married. The wedding was nice; a little amusing (my sister didn't start crying until she got to the "I promise to be kind and forbearing" part of the vows, lol), a little sweet (they both looked just thrilled coming down the aisle), and they did this thing with salt that was... interesting. Apparently their church (First Christian Church of North Hollywood) has "open communion"; "anyone who wishes to do so may take communion, understanding that it is a symbol of God's grace and love" (or something to that effect.) I felt a little awkward being, as far as I could see, the only one in the church who refused the communion (my husband had taken a crying baby out and didn't return until the communion was done.) The usher looked a little surprised when he held the bread out to me and I shook my head and said, "No thanks," as quietly and politely as I could manage. But it was only a small moment of awkwardness, I'm pretty sure I wasn't taken for rude or anything. It's so hard to know what to do in those situations; the only thing I could think to do was just politely shake my head and quietly decline. It wasn't like the Catholic, Lutheran, or Episcopalian churches, where you can just not go up, so it was a little more difficult for me to know how to be polite. But I think I managed. And I remembered the conventions of when to stand and when to sit while the bride entered and the couple left, etc., so I thought I was doing pretty well, on the whole. Jeff noticed just as we sat down in the sanctuary that a yellow poopy diaper had leaked on his dark grey pants; oops. Luckily, I had a Tide To Go in my purse. Took it right off.

Afterwards, we had pictures, then proceeded to the reception hall (actually, I ran up with my sister and cousin to bustle her train first. It wasn't hard, it had a button and then just needed to be draped.)

Then we waited for food. And waited for food. And waited. Apparently she had hired her friend, who has catered parties before but never an event this big, and, well, he wasn't all that prepared. Oops. The tables never did get cleared away for dancing; Emma was the only one who danced (okay, I danced with her some), and she wore herself out dancing like crazy. Everyone was much amused. When the food finally came (it was wonderful, it just took a long time), she inhaled half of a large half chicken breast, some potatoes, and some zucchini, then climbed in Jeff's lap while chewing the last bite-- and promptly fell asleep! Megan had, at this point, changed into street clothes, needing a break from her very gorgeous but heavy dress. When the last tables finally got their food, people had already started leaving. Oh, well. Megan went and changed back into her dress, she and Reggie posed for pictures and they cut the first slice of cake and mushed it into each other's faces. Then there was a moment of milling confusion as Megan ducked out to wash the frosting off-- and everyone noticed that no one was cutting the cake. Since Megan had no maid of honor or bridesmaids, who would generally be in charge of the cake cutting and distribution, there was a bit of confusion as to what to do. Finally, I stepped up and said, "Here, someone get the plates out, and I'll cut the cake." Since no one objected, I got the job. Sharon, Megan's stepmother, looked like she would have volunteered if she wasn't unsure what to do with a wedding cake. Luckily, I've assisted in enough cake cuttings that I know what to do with a wedding cake and a cake server when I see them. She ventured, "Shall we cut from the bottom here so the top stays intact?" I knew the answer to this one! I swept the idea aside with a grand, "No, we have to take the top off first. Get me a fork, I'll get it off." I removed the orchids and berries from around the bottom of the top layer of the cake while a fork and plate were procured, then lifted the cake. Sharon tugged at the deeply embedded pillar support until it came out, and I set the top layer out, removed the cardboard piece and the next four pillar supports, and set to work. Within five minutes I had the entire middle layer and a third of the bottom cut and on plates (someone fetched more plates halfway or so through), and people swarmed the table to take them. Thank you, Heather (my sister in law), for showing me how to properly and efficiently cut a large layered wedding cake! My sister (half-sister, same mother, whatever) Erin said, "Wow, Anne, where did you learn to cut wedding cakes?" I said, "Oh, I've apprenticed at several receptions, you learn as you go." But everyone was really impressed and extremely appreciative, especially Megan, who thanked me over and over and was just so grateful that someone stepped in and took charge. I told her, "It was really no big deal." And it wasn't. But I do like to be useful, and I like it when people appreciate my skills, simple though they may be.

Anyway, we got home after 5 (after leaving home at a little after 10), ready to be in for the night. But it was worth it; hopefully, your sister's wedding only happens once (at least, hopefully only once for each sister.) I hope they're very happy together and get along as well as Jeff and I do. I love weddings as much as the next gal, and so I was glad to get to go, but even more, I love happy marriages, especially of people I love. Here's to love, may it always increase.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cabin Fever and Nursing Clothes

We've got cabin fever around here. It's been so hot, none of us can go out (except my husband to work.) We're a one-car family, so we're usually limited to doing what's in walking distance. When it's too hot to walk, we're stuck inside. Grrrr.

Emma puts on her shoes every day expecting to go out and play. I have to tell her, "No," and try to provide acceptable alternatives when I can (like water play standing by the bathtub full of cold water instead of her favorite outdoor water play with a bucket.) We're all grumpier for the lack of outside, I think; Bridget has been fussing for no discernible reason, I've been snappish for not getting my exercise, and Emma, who from the day she was born has longed for the outdoors, is on a wacky sleep (or lack thereof) schedule, throws fits twice as often as normal, and generally grumps around.

I've taken to calling my friend in Oklahoma when I can't bear it, since she's also a SAHM who is mostly at home with her kids, and she understands me well. We grok each other in fullness, and can have deeply satisfying conversations about everything and nothing. That's my saving grace right now. That and Netflix. I'm doing a lot of Lois and Clark Season 2 and Rosemary and Thyme, Series 2 right now (plus some Sesame Street stuff to keep in reserve for when I'm desperate.)

The heat is supposed to break somewhat this weekend. I pray it does. We need a break. I'm hoping that it stays reasonable for at least a couple of days so we can go to the library and maybe even the park and have some time away from this apartment. Also, my sister (well, half-sister, same mom) is getting married this Saturday. We have to get dressed up and all.

Speaking of dressing up, I have discovered this woman's wonderful clothes (she also has an ebay store where she sells items that have been gently used as opposed to new items on her site.) She takes regular clothing, and modifies it with nursing slits (she also sells the occasional gently used name-brand nursingwear in her ebay listings.) The prices are mostly very reasonable, she has great deals and sales (especially if you join her mailing list), and she's wonderful, kind, and personable when she writes to you. I bought one dress on ebay (a "best offer" was accepted), and upon receiving it promptly bought more. Some of the tops are a little unappealing to me, they remind me too much of WASPy women out doing their shopping with their makeup all perfect, but a lot of the dresses are just gorgeous, she carries a large range of sizes and styles, and she really does know her stuff; the nursing slits have been just right for me. For less than what you'd pay if you bought from Motherhood or Motherwear, you get a dress or top that is much more unique than the "same old-same old" nursing stuff that everyone seems to be wearing, and mostly people won't even know it's nursingwear unless they see you feeding baby in it. Awesome.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Pioneer Day Picnic

It was an indoor picnic, of course. We've been having a record heat wave (as much of the rest of the country, and probably the globe, have), and so everything was done in the cultural hall. We picked up El Pollo Loco on the way since we were supposed to bring a picnic, watermelon, lemonade, and ice cream to be provided (there's a special deal on family meals right now where you get an extra side with your meal, so we got an 8-piece meal with beans, rice, and coleslaw as the sides. There was enough left over for dinner, as well.) It was about 100 degrees as we walked into the building at 9:45 in the morning.

I started itching as soon as we walked in-- turns out one sister had brought a rabbit, which I am extremely allergic to. (She harvests their fuzz and cards, spins, and weaves out of it. She expressed dismay upon learning that I'm allergic; apparently she had been planning to make a baby blanket for me and Bridget. I just kept my distance from the animal and was careful not to touch the spinning and carding stuff she'd brought, and mild discomfort from the itchiness was all I suffered, so it was cool. I am allergic to some very strange things-- rubbing alcohol, CoolWhip and several other non-dairy creamers/toppings, and a certain food dye among them, so rabbits are one of my more normal and avoidable and manageable allergies.)

She had also brought her concertina. Another sister had brought her mountain dulcimer (not even vaguely the same as a hammered dulcimer, if you're interested.) I made dearest husband run home for his guitar (which he doesn't really play, but I wanted available in case someone wanted it), my mandolin (which I haven't picked up in ages, but had fun trying to tune), and Emma's tambourine. We all had fun trying to do some old songs together (and mostly failing miserably), but much excited talking ensued out of the fact that we all like the old folk songs and the old-time Gospel music, and we have vowed to get together and try to get some stuff ready for public consumption. I don't know if anything will come of it, but it would be interesting to see. They seemed impressed that I know all the words to these old songs, and happy that someone of my generation is keeping them alive and singing them to her children. The old folk songs are one of my "pet" things. I think we need to teach our children these songs; they're part of our history, part of our heritage, a wonderful legacy from our forbearers. But I digress.

Before we got to that part, we went to the room where one sister was churning butter by shaking it in jars with the children. The bishop, my husband, and I were the ones who actually ended up shaking it enough to churn it. Then I went off to have fun with the musical sisters while my husband fed Ems, Bridey napped, and later Emma discovered the wooden blocks and assorted other "pioneer" type toys they had laid out for the young nursery-age kids. I did eventually get hungry and eat. I was good and ate only watermelon for dessert. (Emma had a big bowl of ice cream as well. She loves ice cream. Surprisingly, she turned up her nose at the hot dogs they had provided for those who didn't bring a picnic, and wanted chicken, beans, and rice on a tortilla. She does enjoy variety in her diet, that one.)

Overall, it was quite a satisfying activity. We don't do as much for Pioneer Day here as they do in Utah, obviously (we don't have a state holiday, either.) But I have always been into history, so I enjoy a chance to have fun with this kind of stuff.

On an amusing side note, for the last month an announcement has been in our ward bulletin that reads, "The La Canada building is missing four pioneer handcart wheels that belong to the stake. They stand four feet tall and are made of wood. If you have seen them, please call..." My initial reaction was, "We have handcart wheels?" Followed by, "How and why would they disappear? And to where?" It makes me grin every time I see it (although I'm sure it's distressing to whoever wanted to use them!)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Blessing Bridget

So, we blessed Bridget in church. She wore, of course, the family gown. This dress (it's actually a dress and a slip) has been in my family since 1943. It was purchased in Oklahoma by my grandfather's relatives, as christening gowns were unavailable in England, where my grandparents were, at the time, and sent to my grandmother for use when my eldest uncle was baptized (Catholic church.) Then it came over to America on the boat with them. It was also used for my dad and all his other brothers and sisters, and then saved for use by the next generation. It was worn by my second cousin once removed (dad's cousin's daughter), who is my aunt's goddaughter. It was worn by me and my brother when we were baptized (Presbyterian church.) We also used it for Emma when we blessed her two years ago, and if my cousin (who just got married and whose wife is pregnant) has a girl, it will be used when they dedicate their baby (Baptist church) early next year. (I intend to use it for both boys and girls as it has been used for two generations in my direct line, although not by other relatives, but I suspect I'm gonna have to do some hard bargaining to convince my husband that it's totally okay for boys to wear a christening gown if it's been in the family forever. And by hard bargaining, I mean favors of the type I do not wish to disclose to the world at large.) She was also wrapped in a beautiful baby shawl that one of my online friends' mother crocheted for me, which was hand-carried by my friend all the way from London to me, and which also has a special place in my heart for what it represents, the love and kindness of relationships that can be formed even online (plus it's just totally gorgeous.)

Unlike her sister, who kindly kept quiet until her very scared Abba was almost done blessing her and then quietly fussed until he hurried up and finished, Bridget made her opinion of being taken away from her grandma (my mom, my husband's mom was there but my non-member mom held her during Sacrament meeting and then my husband's mom got to hold her during Relief Society) and placed in the arms of all those strange men known from start to finish. (And I mean strange in the most endearing way, but still. ;) ) Afterwards I asked why Jeff didn't just turn her on her tummy to hold her (she likes that much better than her back.) "What, so she could throw up on the bishop?" Point taken.

It was a nice blessing, anyway. I think that my husband was concentrating so hard on being heard over the complaints from the party being blessed that he forgot to be nervous. Plus, you know, first time's always hardest. Unlike last time, he really hadn't thought about what he was going to say, so I think he may have been leaning on the Spirit a little harder to get him through, too, which never hurts. Main points were as follows:

-Name by which she shall be known in the records of the Church and in this life is Bridget Niamh [lastname]
That she may:
-Continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge throughout her life
-Grow in the Church
-Be strong
-Marry a loving husband who will make her happy
-Continue her education throughout her life

It was beautiful and I'm sure it will have relevance in her life, as it is both her earthly father's and her Heavenly Father's desires for her.

A quick note: that middle name is Gaelic. It's pronounced "Neeve"; you can hear it pronounced by a native speaker (Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, among other things) and read about the meaning at this site, which we used to help us pick a Gaelic middle name, since I lost out on Brigid as the form of Bridget (quoth my husband, "Frigid Brigid?".) We had it picked out before she was born, but we sure gave the right kid the Irish name! Her sister, who has the very English name Emma Rose, has wavy golden-brown hair, eyes that are becoming hazel, rosy cheeks, and skin that tans nicely, like her Abba's. Bridget has skin pale almost to the point of pallor, lots of red in her extremely curly hair, and eyes that look like they're becoming bluer instead of getting darker like Emma's. In other words, she got the genetic attributes we'd more typically think of as "Irish." Which is nice because I chose the name both to honor my Irish heritage and because I liked it, as well as to honor a friend named Bridget who died when I was in 8th grade, and in reference to a favorite singer of mine, Niamh Parsons. In fact, Niamh Parsons performs Bridget's "magic song" (you know, the one that Mama just has to sing for her and no matter what, it almost always calms her down), "The Flower of Magherally" (those aren't the exact words I sing, but closer than others I could find online.) (Emma's is "There is a Fountain", if you were wondering; I have a friend whose son's is "Sweet Hour of Prayer".) Okay, so the note wasn't that quick, but now you know all about it, and more.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


So we went to Disneyland with my in-laws.

Don't go to Disneyland with a two year old and an almost three month old.

My kids were angels, but it was so hot and they spent part of the day miserable, especially the baby. Emma loved the rides we took her on (especially It's A Small World, which I luckily do not have my mom's aversion to, as we had to go twice; actually, my mom has an aversion to Disneyland in general, I think it has to do with having four kids), but she was so so tired and the crowds drove her nuts. I think the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Cruise ("Hippo! Hippo!"), and Small World made up for the heat, crowds, noise, and bad stuff, but I'm not sure what she'll remember longer. And even a kids' peanut butter sandwich costs $10; I was grateful that my in-laws were paying, that's for sure.

Then there was the lady who stared at me indignantly while I was (very modestly, in my nursing top) nursing my baby. I noticed her glaring but ignored her. Finally she stomped over to me. "Can't you put a blanket over that or something?" By "that", I can only assume she meant my breastfeeding baby, since I had a triangle of skin about 1/2 a centimeter squared in area showing and that was it, and it was in a place that many girls and women on that hot day had completely exposed, and which this woman was not confronting them over. Anyway, it was 98 degrees and I needed lunch, so I was a little grumpy. "No," I replied, mimicing her indignant tone. "Well, I don't want to see that!" That was just the last straw. Everyone else around us was minding their own business, she was the only one staring at me. I can understand that some people are uncomfortable with public breastfeeding. They're entitled to their feelings. But they have no right to impose them on me, and there's a simple solution if they're made uncomfortable by watching me very, very modestly breastfeed, and I told her so. "So don't look," I told her. And I walked off.

On to happier things. There's a new ride at Disneyland called Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters or something to that effect. We did it twice, it was kinda fun, although I imagine that teenage boys and children aged 8 to 12 might enjoy it even more. You go through the ride and have a laser gun and a swivel control. You shoot at targets as you go through, so it's all interactive and kinda cool. At the end you can get a picture of yourself on the ride e-mailed to you for free (unlike Splash Mountain where they sell you your picture.) Here are some of us:

Overall, it was fun. I got to go off alone while the family watched the light show (fireworks were cancelled due to wind, and I am not a fan of light shows) and ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, my favorite ride, three times in a row. I literally walked on, walked off, walked right back on, and did it again. During the big light show is the only time you can do that (unless you're with a group that's bought out the park for the day.) I have some pics from the Star Trader gift shop of our faces digitally edited onto Star Wars characters, maybe I'll scan them later if I get a chance.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Burger King Commercial Rant

Have you seen the new BK commercial? The one with the little people in construction hard hats building burgers, and one gets smooshed?

I hate it.

It makes me mad every time I see it. There's a BK less than two blocks from us, and I used to take my daughter there for lunch every few weeks. Now I won't, because every time I see it, I think of that commercial.

It's not blatantly disrespectful, except for one thing: the whole point of the commercial (other than that their burgers are big) is that little people are little. That's it. End of joke.

It's just not funny. And the fact that they're using little people in a commercial like this, well, it just seems degrading to me. I mean, what if a company made, say, a product that was white, and chose to illustrate this point by using black people in the commercial (let's not even mention the part about one of them being injured by the product.) You can sure bet that there would be an outcry.

The other thing is that someone had to come up with this concept, develop it, approve it. How did so many people get involved and still make this commercial? I have a feeling that the folks who conceived, made, approved this commercial didn't refer to the actors as "little people" while talking about it-- they probably think of them as "midgets".

And that's what really bothers me about the commercial, the whole thing just screams "hey everyone, look at the MIDGETS!" to me. That's probably not what they intended, but that's the effect. I was taught that "midget" was a pejorative term on the level of "the n-word", not to be used or even thought by polite, non-prejudiced people. The self-chosen preferred term is "little people" (or some prefer "person of short stature" or just "short person".) Also acceptable would be the name of the medical condition the person in question suffers from, but that would be in a medical context, where the condition actually does matter as much as or more than the person. Also in a medical context, "dwarf" and "dwarfism" might be appropriate, although one must be careful because those terms can become pejorative, too.

So that's why Burger King has lost my business. I was with them on the creepy, funny King-in-a-plastic-mask commercials; I was with them on the huge funky chicken commercials; I even like the food. But this commercial bothers me so much, I just can't eat there anymore. And yes, I will write them about it (although it's taking me a while because unlike other companies, they do not have an "e-mail us" feature on their website; you have to actually write a letter and send it snail-mail, ugh! Get with the times!) But unless I see a public apology for this commercial, I have to say that they're on the list with McDonald's and Wal-Mart-- what we call "the evil places" in my family, not to be patronized except in a life-threatening emergency, and preferably not then, either. Too bad, too, it was so convenient to spend my money there. Their loss, I guess. Except, when we condone, promote, or otherwise put out into the world derogatory images of others, it's all our loss, and especially our children's.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Orthodox Judaism and Mormonism in Fiction

I've been reading The Outside World by Tova Mirvis (I love inter-library loan from the L.A. library; you can order stuff online and pick it up at your local branch.) And last week, we Netflixed Ushpizin. They're both set in Orthodox Jewish communities, and while devouring both (what can I say? They're good), I kept saying to myself (and occasionally my husband), "Gee, change the names, a few of the rules, and the setting (say, Moroni instead of Baruch, Sariah instead of Tzippy, BYU instead of yeshivas in Jerusalem) and this could be a Mormon story." They share a feel with LDS fiction that I haven't found elsewhere, including in most mainstream Christian fiction (although admittedly, I have not read everything ever written. ;) )

Why is this? I think it's because they're both communities that believe following God's rules to the letter impacts your faith, and that your faith should impact every part of your life. For instance, in Ushpizin, the main characters are a husband and wife who have been doing everything they've been taught they need to do-- and have no money to pay the rent. They begin praying fervently, and receive a miracle (actually, they are the ones who call it a miracle; the writers create a situation that you could interpret as pure chance, but that you can also see the hand of God working in. Because this is a story of faith, we can see it as a miracle-- another thing in common with LDS fiction and life.) Also, it's normal in both communities to be married young, to have lots of children, to put family and faith above the world. In fact, "In the world, but not of the world" has comes up several times in The Outside World, and we hear that same phrase at church quite often.

Another similarity is the banding together-- and the judgment. Everyone must watch what they wear, what they say, at all times, so that they may appear to fit in to the community. When outsiders come in Ushpizin and make a ruckus, the neighborhood calls the cops instead of accepting that different people will behave differently. When an investigator showed up at church at a ward I used to live in with a leather jacket and a ponytail and tattoos, I'm ashamed to say that he was not welcomed as most visitors to my ward were; instead, people seemed to hope he wouldn't show up again, and I heard one even say it out loud. Instead of taking the new and different people in hand and accepting them for who they were while gently setting an example, both communities, despite their ideals and teachings of gathering in those who are not on the path, cast them as "other" and rejected them. Now, I've seen examples in both communities of people doing what we are taught we should, and reaching out to the "lost and wandering". But it depends on the group, and the time, and the place, and unfortunately too often we do not do as we should. In The Outside World, the father of one of the main characters is offended when he becomes more religious. I can relate to that, too; as a convert, I've had my share of bewilderment and disappointment and even anger from family and friends. It's a very interesting look at human nature when subjected to very demanding religions. And the most interesting part to me is that when I read about this community, I find characters with the same satisfaction in doing what they believe to be God's laws that I find in following the commandments. I guess that's a part of human nature, too, if only we can learn to find it within us instead of the bad parts-- the "evil urge" or "evil impulse", as the Orthodox fiction says, that makes us want to stray from God's path.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I've finally, after 3 years of considering it, decided to start a blog. See, I'm not much of a journaller. I have started journals ten gazillion times in the last 10 years, and, well, I never get more than a month into it before it's lost, abandoned, or otherwise defunct. Part of that is my atrocious writer's cramp. I'm hoping typing instead will make it easier for me to record my thoughts, and therefore obey the counsel to keep a journal-- at least in some form. And making it visible to other people may help me actually commit to doing it.

Since I intend to share with whoever reads this, I may as well tell you a bit about me and my family. I'm a 23 year old member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in the L.A. area. I joined the Church at 18, and was married in the Los Angeles Temple at 20, on June 21, 2003. Around the web, I am commonly known as ketchupqueen, due to my love of Heinz Tomato Ketchup (the One True Ketchup)-- hence the title. The Prince Consort, Jeff, is a wonderful man who works very hard and is completely under the thrall of our first Ketchup Princess, Emma Rose, born April 5, 2004, and Her Royal Heinz-ness Bridget Niamh, born April 21, 2006. Poor man, surrounded by X chromosomes! The only other males in the household are our two orange tabbies, Patrick and Roli, and, well, they're less than wholly male, if you know what I mean. ;)

I intend to write about my life, my thoughts, and anything else that strikes my fancy. So get the hamburger of your life ready for the ketchupy flow of my thoughts, and enjoy.