Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Some Paparazzi YOU make!"

So I'm way overdue to comment on the last post, a post in which my husband popped in for a surprise report from his perspective back at the home front. I always enjoy his cameo appearances, but this was an especially welcome addition since I made empty promises of daily updates during my trip and then left you hanging. Not that you lost sleep over it, but the blog bully that sits on my shoulder was not impressed with my blogging etiquette.

But as you'll recall, on "Day One" I was alone in the Airport Inn wondering if and how I would cope with six days of being gone from my family--so you got the full cathartic scoop.

You were there when I needed you and I love you for that.

But then I got busy vacationing and spaced the blogging--which is not much of a thank you, the blog bully tells me, but really is the sign of a good vacation, I think, so no need for apologies, right? We're all friends here.

But back to my husband. It was playful of him to add his two cents from the 'babysitter' perspective, I thought. (On top of the rest of the vacation bill he footed, of course). And although I always enjoy his eloquent writing style and loved his post, I must confess it may have contained some truth-stretching.

You see, Brian was (and has always been and will always be) 110% on top of things while 'manning the fort'.

And not in a wink-wink, gratuitous, "thanks for the trip, Sweetie" kind of way, but in an I-tell-him-all-the-time-he-makes-a-better-mom-than-me kind of way.

A man mom.

Which is different from a dad. (Though he fills that role extremely well also.)

Here's a picture he sent on Sunday morning, the day he handily got all four kids ready and to church on time by himself.

So yes, he survived. And I survived. And Grandma survived. And the kids survived. And I came home to the cutest welcome home party you can imagine complete with pizza, ginger-ale, chocolate and dancing with my four beautiful children, which made me cry all over again (remember those tears when I LEFT? I can't win.)

Two weeks later my four year old was still saying "Welcome home, Mommy." I think all moms should get away once in a while, if for nothing more than the incredibly fulfilling feeling of having both missed and been missed in return.

And now, because you are here reading my tale when it must be the last list of things to do in your busy day, you deserve


Where did I go? Mostly Salt Lake City with time spent in Park City, Midway, and Utah Valley at varying times.

Why did I go? Three main reasons: Girl's weekend, Sundance Film Festival, and the ever important job of celebrity stalking. But the three events fused quite nicely into one tidy package o' madness that turned the "why" into more of a "why not?"

Did I see anyone famous? Yes, but not because I recognized them without help or necessarily knew who they were in many cases. Bottom line is, despite being born with a good dose of Star Fever, I am terrible at stalking celebrities, and because I don't see 90% of movies anyway, even when people are famous, I've often never heard of them. But that doesn't stop me from flying 700 miles to try to spot them, and dragging friends along to help me.

The full scoop: My brother and his wife work at the Festival each year, and my sister in law is in charge of coordinating the airport arrivals of a large percentage of the celebrities and VIPs involved with the festival, so I had good insider info. But I also had my brother's car at my disposal, so much airport stalking time lost out to cruising around visiting family and friends in the first few days. The festival workers kept a running list of C-lebs that came through, and by day two I had missed about 20.

Alpha, Maggie and Myron officially in action above. Tami and I pretending to be official below.

But Friday night as my friends and I converged for our girl's weekend, we noticed the paparazzi hovering near baggage claim. We already knew Adrienne Brody was due to arrive that evening (don't know him, and haven't seen the movies he's in, but like I said before, that doesn't thwart me) but this was an hour and a half before his arrival so we knew there must be others on their way.

We shamelessly shadowed the "real" paprazzi with our cameras out and ready to roll, which the paparazzi didn't seem to like very much. When they moved, we moved. We studied them, followed them, took pictures of them (small taste of their own medicine?)

A paparazzo in waiting

We even spoke to them--or at least Kathleen tried when she asked one of them outright who he was waiting for--a question he did not answer. We may have looked like competition toting our big cameras initially...

....but we took care of that in no time.

Our amateur nature was clearly revealed when Kareem Abdul Jabar walked straight past us and we never even aimed our cameras at him. We were too busy pointing out "the tall guy" with no clue that he was anyone famous, until we noticed the paparazzi following him with their cameras and video equipment.

So then a paparazzo brushed past me and said snidely in my ear: "SOME PAPARAZZI YOU MAKE!

I asked: "Why, who was that?" And he told me: "Only the greatest basketball player EVER."

So we ran back to baggage claim to snap a few pictures of 'the tall guy' since we now understood him to be of import.

"That tall guy" (AKA Kareem Abdul Jabar)

And that is when the paparazzi decided we were a joke and in no way a threat so they warmed up to us after that-- even telling us who else was coming, who tolerated picture taking and who didn't etc.

See me hanging with the paparazzi like we're old friends? OK, I look a little unsure in this picture. Maybe not super close friends.

They gave us the head's up that Dakota Fanning was upstairs signing autographs, so we went upstairs to photograph her, except that she was done signing autographs and was coming down the stairs as we went up. Yet did we notice her? Of course not. I'm not kidding that we stunk at this. So Tami had to come find us to tell us we'd missed yet another.

We found Dakota at baggage claim and because she'd been labeled a "sweet" one by the paparazzi, we actually had our picture taken with her.

See? Sweet.

And noticeably less torturous without those red JANE eyes from New Moon.

Though Kathleen was pretty stoked that the red eye in this picture of hers put the deadly right back into Dakota.

There was another miss when we got bad information about Noah Wyle on a plane. It didn't end up being him, but we got some great shots of his doppleganger.

Celebrity photo FAIL

Lastly Adrienne Brody arrived, and Kathleen got the best picture by far because she actually asked his permission to take a picture. He was resistant and not so happy to say yes but ultimately said: "I guess you can since other people are taking it anyway--without asking." And of course, one of the non-askers was me--so although my paparazzi skills were sorely lacking, I think I got the "annoying" part of it down.

Me capturing Adrienne off guard in true Paparazzi fashion

Kathleen getting a MUCH better shot because she simply asked. There's a lesson in here...

On the streets of Park City the next day, we unsuccessfully stalked Ben Affleck. Notice the guy with the clipboard telling us Ben had just left out the back door.

Celebrity Sighting Fail

But I did get video of yet another star unknown to me. (Joshua Duhamel, the guy from When in Rome, which I expect will be more exciting for me after I've seen the movie. If I see it.)

A still shot from my video of Joshua Duhamel

Another "celebrity" sighting in Park City.

To add to the drama of the day, we missed the film we bought tickets to from a lady on the bus. Blame the bus. Blame the weather. Blame the long restroom lines at Pizza and Noodle. It was all part of the adventure, and we weren't hurting for good times.

The Bed and Breakfast our friends run was beautiful. Midway was a winter wonderland in spite of near death on the mountain roads driving two wheel drive in our four wheel drive SUV, and the time with friends, family and more friends during the six days was very rewarding and relaxing. A few more pics:

View from the Chalet where we stayed

Jason toured us through Midway--first stop: Elk

Next stop: Hot Pots (Natural hot springs)

Tami looking good in her makeover!

Kathleen looking warm, no wait, HOT.

Photo a la Kathleen

Zermatt Ice Castles

"The Crater"--outside

"The Crater"--inside

The biggest, oldest tree in town (on left)

Taken from underneath--can't tell from the picture but it was like a fort inside there!

The crowded streets of the festival

Sure this bus is cute, but if you ever go to the film festival in Park City, tell yourself this:
I can probably get to main street faster on foot than by bus...
(photo credit to Leen)

And wrapping up this mega blog entry, a nice little glimpse of driving in the snow. (Quite the adventure in 2 wheel drive through the canyon.) So-Cal-ers everywhere, put on some shorts and go bask in the warmth that is home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"The Babysitter"

With the captain gone, and the first mate at the helm you can be guaranteed that the next five days will be nothing like a Norman Rockwell painting...that is... unless you are really, really, REALLY familiar with Norman Rockwell paintings - and then the next 5 days might very well be exactly like one Norman Rockwell painting in particular - "The Babysitter".

First featured on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on May 20, 1916, "The Babysitter" says in ZERO words what I will certainly fail to say in 500. But oh well....

Sending my wife on a 5 plus day 'Wocation' - is a recipe for disaster. I variably believe that if you asked 10 women how their husbands would fair for 5 days with the kids, 9 out of 10 would say without batting an eye, "They'll kill him. They will eat him alive."

And so like David, Daniel, and Horton before me I will attempt to slay, tame, and reason with what Norman so aptly depicted 93 years ago as ridiculous. I will man the fort. Well, actually more like co-man the fort... at night, when Grandma is at class, and during the times when all the little wild things are generally sleeping (which really starts to make my previous biblical references and literary innuendo all a bit melodramatic now, doesn't it?)

But wait, isn't that the point? I mean, isn't that what we "men" are suppose to do? No man on the planet gets any credit for encouraging his wife to have a girl's night, day, weekend, or week-out if everything is fine in her absence.

Surely the bath is a bit warmer, the "me time" a bit sweeter, the book just a little better, if and only if there is an "understanding" that we are barely keeping it together on the home front.

So we smile, wave, and send them off for their fun - knowing that all will be fine...but never planning to admit it.

And...then...reality kicks in. The "understanding" starts to feel less and less like a secret handshake and more and more like a secret conspiracy.

It's day one...really this should be nothing, right? Day big deal. But then things start to unravel...Your daughter needs a hair-do and you realize you don't do hair do's well...or at all. Your son needs a birthday gift.--no biggie, but then you realize that you need to wrap it. And so you are forced to think man-numbing words like "gift bag" and "tissue paper". Car pools, meals, homework, and blowouts all start to pile up. You realize how sticky honey really is and that there's a reason that you wait to put the kids in pajamas til' after meal time.

But worst of all, you roll around at night tossing and turning and unable to sleep - not because there is someone bumping you, taking the covers from you, or asking you "did you hear that?", but precisely because there is no one doing that.

Day one may be over for this little sitter, but there are still many ahead. I hope we can keep it together.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I’m a big girl. Really I am. Yes, I cried at the airport when it was time to fly away for this “me” time that I promise I really will enjoy--and yes, the last thing I did before walking out the door was to clean three bathrooms so all the precious little bottoms in my house would have clean potties to sit on. But come on, it's hard when you're a stay at home mom to walk out the door and leave your "job" behind you, especially when your "job" is saying: "Don't go mommy. I will miss you sooo much."

How fantastic is that job? How many jobs out there talk back, and say such awesome stop time and put it in a bottle kinds of things when you take time off?

The "me" time has been plenty entertaining so far. First my bag weighed in 3 pounds overweight. Three pounds doesn't seem like much in relation to the other fifty, but the pesky things would have incurred a hefty $90 fee, so I crouched down and rummaged through the suitcase to see what could transfer to my already back-breaking carry-on. Extracting five pounds of hair tools to accompany me on the flight, I could have run a traveling salon in the sky. At least my husband can take comfort in the fact that there will be no leeway for shopping on this trip.

Then there was the enthusiastic medicine man at the airport newsstand--who thoroughly explained every size and variety of every kind of Tylenol to me, and his employee--who chased me down several gates to apologize on behalf of his boss who loves to pontificate on product selection (which came across as a different kind of overkill.)

But my favorite was the leisurely stroll to baggage claim. About half way there I was feeling so unstrapped for time that I opted not to take the moving walkway. Then I realized I had left my book on the plane--which is not acceptable when you are 20 pages away from the ending and you just have to know how it all turns out. So Miss I Have All the Time in the World high tailed it back to the plane only to find the door closed and no employee in sight. I searched for an official looking person and finally found someone to help me retrieve the book, but by this time my second trip toward baggage claim was not quite so chill. I did not want my suitcase circling the conveyer like a lost black canvas puppy, so I boogied to baggage claim in record time for someone carrying a salon on her back, and we were all happily reunited once again: Me, my book, my carryon(s) and 48, not 53 pounds of luggage that will sustain me through the next 5 1/2 days off from the world's greatest job.

I called my shuttle, settled in my room, and grabbed dinner in the downstairs cafe, where a very well-meaning waiter envied the fact that I was reading and said he'd only been able to sneak in two sentences at a time today in his own book. I must have served as true inspiration because after waiting for what seemed forever for my bill to come, the waiter happily announced that he'd just read SIX pages at once: His record for the day. So that's what the wait had been all about, but how could I not be happy for him?

So here's to stolen reading moments, heavy bags, kids who'll miss me, a husband who encourages me to go on such adventures, a mom who will watch my kids in my absence, hot baths at the end of the day, and laptops that can capture it all.

Stay tuned for adventures from DAY TWO.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Be forewarned:

I have finally joined the ranks of those who so efficiently use Google reader. (I never claimed to be cutting edge with anything blog related. I was slow to start one, slow to dress it up, and slow to realize I stunk at being consistent with my writing or reading of them.)

But no more.

Google reader will change my blogging habits.

Reading-wise, because I can now check blog updates along with email.
Writing-wise, because I realized there were plenty of good souls actually "subscribed" to my blog, and yet my average amount of entries per week was .2.

I can do better than that.

So today you get a look at my TOGETHER TALLY for the morning. This tally runs through my head most days like an annoying ticker across a screen, gaining and losing points in relation to how together I feel as a mom/wife and person at any given moment.

Here's where I stand so far:

*MINUS one for sleeping in 30 minutes past my kids this morning,
*but PLUS one for getting up at all.

*MINUS one for serving animal cookies for breakfast,
*but PLUS one for including milk to strengthen bones.

*MINUS one for thinking my son would not pour the water bottle I handed him all over the wood floor,
*but PLUS one for the unexpected mopping the floor got.

*PLUS one for changing a poopy diaper,
*but MINUS one for the fact it is still in a baggie by my front door waiting to go out to the trash.

*MINUS one for unstyled hair, no makeup and sweats today,
*but PLUS one for making everyone around me all the cuter.

*PLUS one for playing Hungry hippos, race cars, and animals with my sons,
*but MINUS one for coming up with the idea of jumping the race car into the trash can, which was not emptied out.

*PLUS one for turning off the TV before my son's brain rotted.
*but MINUS one for handing him my iPhone right afterward. (Brain rot still in progress.)

*MINUS one for having to go up and down stairs every few minutes this morning in search of the only working phone in the house--which is never in its base,
*but PLUS one for the "stairmaster" workout.

So all in all it looks like I am neither totally put together nor totally unraveled today.

*MINUS one for keeping my score so predictably even,
*but PLUS one for not letting it dip into the red, so I don't completely bomb.

This earns me a bonus point, thereby putting the plusses ahead by one for a win. Hope you find yourself equally put together on this lovely Friday.

Happy weekend!

Monday, January 04, 2010

LuLu looks behind

At the beginning of December I said: "All I want for Christmas is the ability to go without sleep" which seemed like the most feasible way to pack it all in during the holidays. I was up until 2am or later over ten times this past month, but if Santa infused me with extra energy at night, he forgot to make up for it during the days, and the effects of sleep deprivation still linger, (which may explain why I stayed in pajamas for more than half of today, and left my mom tending kids while I climbed back into bed to hibernate for three full hours.)

Here's an excerpt from an email I sent to my brother several weeks ago regarding my inability to fit into life everything I'd like to make time for:

"it's not a general "life is busy" complaint, but rather a nearly painful awareness that for any one thing I get done, there are twenty things pushed to the backburner that I'd love to get done--but when? I need a lifetime for each aspect of me. There is an artist in there somewhere, a musician, a performer, an actor, a designer, a journalist, an architect, an explorer, a traveler, a physicist, a therapist, even a cowgirl, etc, etc., but no part of me gets much time to shine since there are so many parts competing for the ten minutes per week I can offer them. In any given day there is what has to be done, what should be done, and what I'd just plain like to do, but I rarely get through what has to be done, which means the other two hardly have a prayer.

You may have already diagnosed me as suffering from CDIAA (Can't Do It All Anxiety), and it's possible you have the same disorder. But the good news is I've come up with an antidote to the condition, and it has done wonders for my state of well-being. If you like the idea, adopt it for yourself and see if you don't feel better too.

(Drum roll please...)

***Stop looking ahead all the time, darn it!***

That's right. You heard me. Enough with the calendaring, planning, list making, goal setting, and generally overwhelming ourselves with "To-Do's". There are too many "I dids" getting left in the dust--under-appreciated, under-celebrated, and often buried under mental piles of what remains to be done.

Now, I do realize this 'looking behind' business will be tricky as we all 'look ahead' to the new year in front of us. With 38 New Year's resolutions of my own for the upcoming year, I'm obviously not opposed to looking forward. My beef lies with forgetting and neglecting the precious acheivements that lay behind us, in the wake of our ambition and productivity barreling forward.

If we only look ahead, and forget to look behind sometimes, we'll miss what we've actually accomplished. The "dids" deserve more credit than they usually get, and they make us feel fantastically productive.

For example: Since my last blog entry in, uh, September (slap my hand), here's a few things I have *done*. And no, writing a blog entry (on this blog, anyway) was not one of those things, but consider this my restitution. By the way, I don't expect anyone to read the whole list since just a glance at it will make my point quite handily, but I do hope to inspire you to make one of your own and then properly celebrate your amazingness.

Underwent and healed from surgery, saw three kids through four months of school, homework and projects, had columns in our house covered in stone, carpet put in our new loft and braces put on our son. Designed and published 2 family books, taught photography workshop, signed off on son's wolf badge, and volunteered in two classrooms twice a month. Celebrated 37th birthday, survived a bee venom reaction, enrolled son in Tae Kwon Do, hosted multiple activities, parties, and family holiday gatherings at our house for a total of 122 guests. Went to Disneyland twice, Legoland four times, and Pretend City more times than I can count, made Halloween costumes, toured a police station, served in a homeless shelter, gave a talk and taught lessons in church. Attended a son's play, a friend's wedding, a nephew's baptism, (and sent my family to Utah for a neice's), watched my children perform, cheered my husband on in P-90X, and new job responsibilities at work. Read 6 books, sent 350 Christmas cards, took holiday photos for 10 families, and maxed out our 40 hours of free music listening on Pandora (blame Christmas music). Attended the temple, fulfilled a calling, went to parties, book clubs and activities. Sang in Christmas program, renewed acquaintances with old friends, and celebrated awards for school and scouts. Ended a thirteen week challenge to record personal stories, cleaned out multiple closets and countless drawers, reorganized garage two times, scrubbed windows, toilets, showers, sinks, cars and bodies, and baked all kinds of fattening goodies. Cooked I don't know how many meals, changed I don't know how many diapers, shopped for I don't know how many groceries and household supplies, wrapped too many gifts, and did about a million loads of laundry. Cut three heads of hair three times each, decorated and undecorated the house for three holidays and two birthdays, started new journals, potty trained a son, filmed scenes for church media, and told a husband I loved him every day.

The list could go on and on, but I get exhausted writing it. (Remember that sleep deprivation thing?) It's nice, though, to look back over the months, and see I have something to show for them. Many of you have even more to show for your time--like new babies, running marathons, exciting travels, or big moves--to name a few, but regardless of what our lists contain, we should all pat ourselves on the back, and
take a moment today
to celebrate yesterday
before moving on to tomorrow.

Happy New Year!