Just My Imagination

Why do we women make up imaginary expectations with imaginary deadlines for ourselves and then feel guilty about not reaching the pretend finish line? This week, I had an idea for a post for my (totally made up by me) blog. I was going to finally watch those Halloween movies friends have recommended that I’ve avoided all these years – two scary movies and two fun movies. The problem was that the first scary movie I watched took me four days to finally finish. So last night, I started stressing out about finishing the other three (totally unnecessary) movies for my (totally imaginary) deadline.

I tried a scary movie and gave up before the end of the opening credits. I googled other possible scary movies, saw my screen filled with cringe-inducing images, and I just couldn’t do it. And then I felt guilty. Guilty! Here I was trying to talk myself into watching stuff that creeps me out just for a pretend deadline? So stupid.

Then I tried watching Hocus Pocus because everyone loves it and tells me I should love it too. I didn’t. I made it through twelve painful minutes and had to stop when I realized they actually talk like that through the whole movie and there was no way I could listen to them talk like that through the whole movie. Then I felt guilty again over a totally made up expectation I had created for myself. I recognize that I’m doing it and I recognize that it’s not rational, but I still do it.

So here I am, beating myself over the fact that I’m reporting on only one measly movie, but to be fair, it really was hard work. I watched the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Even after having to turn it off several times out of boredom or annoyance or just falling asleep, I stuck with it to the very last shriek. That’s something, right?

For those who haven’t seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it’s the story of aliens taking over the world through botany, and the tireless health inspectors who try to stop them. It’s a pretty weird movie, and not just because the cast includes Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy.

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Strange editing choices and camera angles sometimes add to the suspense, but often are just choppy and weird. The soundtrack is especially creepy, with the high strings matching/imitating the sound of the aliens’ shrieks, and there was one especially cool shot in the chase scene with shadows growing and shrinking as people walked past a building. I also appreciated the relative lack of gore – I only had to look away twice.

The fact that it was set in San Francisco in the ‘70s made me wonder if it was trying to make a statement about drug culture. The blank, not-really-there stares of the cloned bodies, free of pain and emotion, sometimes just seemed like they were stoned. No wonder the characters often couldn’t tell the difference between real and switched people.

During this election season where so many are confusing wild conspiracy theories with fact, I was uncomfortable watching a movie that seems to reinforce the idea that the government is out to get you, that no one can be trusted, and that everything around you is not as it seems. It seems too close to all of the fictional paranoia being tossed around haphazardly lately with no sense of responsibility to fact or truth. Unlike my imaginary expectations I create that only affect myself, the lies being tossed around lately camouflaged as fact are much scarier to me. That might be the real reason I kept having to take a break from the movie. It hit a little too close to home. I just want the world to be recognizable to me again.

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Put a Pin on It – Halloween Spooktacular

You’re probably tired of hearing this every year, but just to review: I hate Halloween, I hate making food that prioritizes looks over taste, and I especially hate trying to make something look as cool as it does on Pinterest. So what did I choose for this week’s kid cooking class? Just an entire meal of cutesy, spooky food. It would be hard enough making it all myself, but supervising three 7-year-olds making eight different recipes in only 1½ hours seemed like pure crazy.

I tried to stay away from too much sweet stuff and stick to things that could be served for dinner. Here’s our menu – I’ve included links to the original recipes, but I didn’t always follow each recipe exactly.

Pinterest Fails

Surprisingly, only a few of our menu items could actually qualify for pinterestfail.com.

Mini Spider Pizzas This would not have been a fail if I had actually read the suggestion to put the olives on after cooking, but I really, really, really hate having to read through an entire blog post just to get to a recipe. Instead, I scroll as quickly as possible past the thirty two step-by-step pictures straight to the recipe at the end. That is how this:

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became this:

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The dough should have been rolled out more and the poor little spiders were torn limb from limb as they cooked. My husband came home later and said, “Oh, I didn’t even realize they were supposed to be spiders!” That’s how big of a fail this attempt was.

Cheesy Bones This was actually the most fun for the kids to make but for decency’s sake, I can’t post a picture of the finished product. I’ll let you use your imagination.

Success!

Carrot Pumpkins – Even a self-proclaimed carrot hater tried these, and we didn’t even lose any fingers!

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Clementine Pumpkins – Easy peasy and everyone loves clementines.

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Mummy Dogs – An oldie but goodie. Each kid had his/her own style. It might be predictable, but at least we didn’t make those horrible hot dogs made to look like human fingers. Those make me want to vomit.

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Boo-nana Pops – How can you go wrong with white chocolate?

Candy Corn Jello Cups – (not to be confused with jello shots). I was worried about successfully layering these, but they’re pretty cute! Although, I doubled the recipe and still only had enough for six servings.

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Spider Web Eggs – Full disclosure: the kids didn’t help with these. I meant to have them at least peel the eggs, but the look is totally ruined if you don’t peel very carefully, so I did it myself. The kids don’t like deviled eggs, so we just sent them home as-is, but look how cool they are!

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My kitchen’s a giant mess, but it was totally worth it. I love all the cute stuff we made, and I especially love the little monsters who helped me. Look at them. With faces like these, who needs masks?

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Gettin’ Jetty With It

Every December, I scramble to find the perfect calendar to hang up in my kitchen. You would think it would be simple, but it always seems like a monumental decision and I end up scrolling through page after page of options. For a few years, I stuck with the cute Play With Your Food calendars, but the novelty wore off and I had to move on. Then I found the Environmental Art calendar and haven’t looked back. I love it, my kids love it, my students love it – it’s a hit.

I think I like it so much because if I can hang interesting stuff on my wall, I seem more interesting, right? Of course, if I really stop to think about it, I realize that actual interesting people actually go outside their house to actually look at actual environmental art in real life. I started to feel like this print of Magritte’s The Human Condition (also hanging on my wall to make me seem more interesting).

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We have actual environmental art here in Utah but for some reason, I haven’t managed to leave my humdrum couch to get out and see it in real life. Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty has been in the Great Salt Lake since before I was born and I finally decided to visit it.

As far as planning our trip and finding our way there, we found our best information here. Our phone maps told us it would take an hour longer each way than it actually took (2.5 hours each way). We also visited the Golden Spike museum since it was on the way (and we got our 7th grader some extra credit for it in his Utah Studies class).

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The drive from the museum out to the Spiral Jetty isn’t as treacherous as some websites made it seem. It is very bumpy, so it was slow-going, but it wasn’t very tricky in our minivan. Parking seems like it would be fine on a normal day, but we happened to go the same day that the Utah Museum of Fine Arts scheduled a community meet up, complete with speakers, musicians, and a big bus (which luckily didn’t arrive until we were leaving).

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I wandered out onto the jetty with the boys (which I thought was the coolest)while my husband listened to the presentation (which he thought was the coolest).

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

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We definitely want to come back when we have more time, more boys, and fewer other people. This was much better than just looking at pictures. Who knew?

Splits

Mormon congregations (wards) are divided geographically, which means we don’t really choose who we’ll be worshiping with. This can be a little strange in places with high Mormon concentrations because it means your neighbor across the street might be in a different ward so you might see them every day but interact with them and their family in a very different way than you might with a next-door neighbor who is in your ward.

I’ve always thought it was a good system – bloom where you’re planted and all that, but we recently found out the boundaries of our ward have been changed a bit. As a result, some really good friends who really only live a few houses away have been moved to a neighboring ward. I know I’ll still see them, but there’s something about singing songs with toddlers together or cleaning the church building together, or sitting in adjacent pews that’s different from just waving at the mailbox or chatting at the grocery store.

In addition to one of my toilet papering partners and my friend who introduced me to Tabwe’re losing many other good friends, some of my favorites, including some very wise people I’ve looked up to for the last nine years. I know all I have to do is walk around the block to see these friends, but I’m still sad to think of going back to church this Sunday without them.

One of these friends is Julie, who lives two houses down. We’ve endured endless play practices together and my kids would live at her house if they had the choice. Julie did my hair in an updo for a fake prom and gave me a lovely facial for Mother’s Day. She was sitting behind me in the meeting where it was announced that we would no longer be in the same ward. The other congregation is lucky to get Julie and all of my other friends and I hope they treat them well.

This week, Julie suggested we try out a new dance class in town for adults. I quit dance lessons shortly after I fell in one and broke my collarbone in elementary school. It was no great loss, really, since I’m not a good dancer. Trying a dance class has been on my list from the start, but I’ve always felt too intimidated. Going with a friend seemed like the best idea.

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We invited our other neighbor, Melissa, and when we arrived, we found three more members of our ward (our pre-split ward, that is), including the teacher of the class. It was the perfect going away party for Julie and our other friend Kassi.

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I’m not very graceful, but in this class I didn’t feel stupid or confused. Everything was explained very clearly and we got to learn things step by step (I even tried the splits!!!). All the other ladies were friendly and funny and I really enjoyed myself. I’m thinking of going back the next time I have a free Thursday night.

If you’re local and want to give it a try, it’s at the City Center Thursdays at 8 p.m. As our teacher April said, “What happens in dance class stays in dance class,” and for that I am grateful. No one needs to see me dance. I was just happy for the exercise and for the chance to learn something new with old friends.

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And in case we can’t make it to dance class consistently, we’ll always have Prancercise.

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