Help me, Betty Crocker! Or any of you bakers out there.

I am in the depths of despair. I'm so utterly disappointed and frustrated that I'm going to bed without doing the dishes or washing Judah's bottles for tomorrow, things that get done every night no matter what else does or doesn't get done.

On Saturday a few of us are going to the Hollywood Bowl. My plan was to make chocolate chip cookies to take with. I tried making them last week, and the cookies came out super flat and spread out. I thought it was because my shortening and baking powder were really old, so I threw them out and bought new stuff. So I tried it again tonight. The same thing happened! This is a recipe that my family's been using literally for decades, and always before it's produced lovely, soft, fat cookies. I don't know what to do! Is it my oven? It's perfect on everything else I make. What's my problem? Help me, Internet!

Maybe I'll go to my parents' tomorrow and try it there....


Quote of the day (I guess that would be yesterday, at this point)

"My feet are all pruny from wearing wet socks."
~Morgan, age 6, in the midst of a conversation about something totally unrelated


Q: But WHY does she have a bag of frozen vegetables on her head?

A: Because she stood up and slammed her head into the open door of the freezer, and her loving husband provided the vegetables to cover the lump.

It's a long story. And it has nothing to do with this post.

So, we spent the weekend in Phoenix. Not quite the surface of the sun, but really really close. And not because we're crazy, but because we really love Brian and Ashlee and Eszter. And the twins! We drove out Friday night, spent yesterday working and shopping and eating a lot of junk food (Ashlee, I broke down and told Nathan about the you-know-what) and laughing at the kids playing together. This morning we went to church at Laveen Baptist Church, which is small but lively, then left to drive home again. A short visit, but lots of fun, and so good to see Bri and Ash getting all settled in their new digs.

What we liked about Phoenix: the QT (an awesome mini-mart where you can get 8 flavors of slurpee, 4 or more different flavors of smoothies, flavored coffees on tap, and tons of different soft drinks with flavoring options) and the housing prices (large houses in the mid-200k range).

What we didn't like so much about Phoenix: the HEAT! 108 when we left today. And the rock front lawns. Oh, and the vultures. It's just creepy to see them hanging around.


I'm the girl with her hand in front of her face

No, not really. But that's where I stood when we saw Toad the Wet Sprocket the other night. Nathan got me tickets for my birthday back in June, and the concert was on Saturday. It was at The Galaxy in Santa Ana, a little tiny venue that holds (I think) less than a thousand people. We got there a couple hours early, since it was general admission, and easily found space in front of the stage, then stood there for a long time until Matt Nathanson came on to play a few songs. I've heard him on Pandora and liked him.

Toad came on at about 9:30 and they were all that I expected. Glen Phillips is ageless, he still looks as young as he always did. He performed barefoot. They played all their popular songs (All I Want, Walk on the Ocean, Brother, etc.) and some lesser known things like Windmills and Crowing and Stupid. Their set lasted just about an hour and a half, which was perfect. They ended with one of my favorite Toad songs ever, I Will Not Take These Things for Granted.

All in all, it was a great show. I've never been to a show where I was close enough to the stage to use it as a table. We were only a few feet from the band, and at that point it gets kind of weird, because they kept looking at us all in the front row and I started getting paranoid. Did they notice that I didn't sing along to that last song? Were they offended that I didn't know all the words? So weird.


Beginning the eating of the brain at a very young age

This morning Judah and I are watching Sesame Street. I haven't watched it in a really long time, and I'm shocked and dismayed at how Elmo has become the star. When I was little it was Big Bird and Oscar. You know, puppets that actually know how to construct a proper sentence. And talk about themselves in first person. Also, Elmo is not particularly concerned about getting his facts straight when he's "teaching" things. This morning we learned that:

*Back in caveperson times, cavepeople wore caveperson clothes (No way! Kind of like how people now wear people clothes!)
*In the Middle Ages everyone wore metal clothes and they were called knights in shining armor (Wow! I was pretty sure Disney invented that particular phrase...)
*And, in Scotland they used to wear skirts called kilts, and THEY STILL DO! (Which is weird, because I don't think I saw a single one when I was there...)

But by far the scariest thing on today's show was when Elmo was learning about Roman times, and he donned a toga and started yelling "Toga! Toga! Toga!" like some demented frat boy in a bad 80s movie. Oh, man. Mr. Rogers' Land of Make-Believe looks WAY less like a drug-induced nightmare after you watch Elmo for a while.


So THAT'S where they get the money for new roads

Apparently, our Explorer has evolved. Yes, it has developed free will and can now go driving wherever it wants, whenever it wants, with our without our permission or knowledge. How it developed these skills is beyond me, but I have proof positive that it happens.

Today I got a traffic violation in the mail from the nice people who work in the toll roads violation department. It seems that our Explorer was seen roaming the toll roads (the 241 to be exact) on the night of July 31 at 10:09. Without permission from the people at FasTrak. The Explorer should have paid four dollars for the privilege of driving on the 241, but I guess it was out of change, because it didn't pay. So now it owes $51.50. And you can be sure that that money is coming out of the Explorer's allowance, and that the Explorer (affectionately known as Dora) is officially grounded for two weeks.

Because what was the Explorer doing driving around on the 241 while our whole family WAS IN MAMMOTH!?! That's it. Dora's getting a new pair of boots. The bad kind. She just can't be trusted anymore.

Bono knows

"With a mouth full of teeth you ate all your friends
And you broke every heart
Thinking every heart mends"

Does everyone know someone like this? Or am I just lucky?


Vacation abbreviated

We're home. Four days early. Of the last 39 hours, I have slept exactly 2 of them. I don't think I've done that since the summer after college.

Yes Clint, Mammoth is totally beautiful. I love the weather, the cool mornings and warm afternoons, the clear skies, the extremes of light and shadow, the incredibly clean smell of the air. I've been there many times in the summer, and it's always gorgeous. This time was no exception.

We drove up Saturday and set up our tent trailer, which is no easy feat with a screaming baby clinging to one leg. And how is it that Judah couldn't care less about what I'm doing until I actually try to accomplish something, and then he becomes frantic and needs to be picked up NOW!? So we got set up enough to cook some dinner and go to bed, and Judah did fine that night. The next day we spent going to "church" with the rest of our group in an outdoor amphitheater, stocking up on more supplies, and taking a gondola ride up to the top of the mountain with my parents. The view was amazing.

My parents offered to keep Judah overnight Sunday, since they were staying in a condo in town. So Nathan and I went back to camp and to an evening meeting, then early to bed so we could get up early for a hike. We left our campground at Pumice Flats around nine and hiked down to Rainbow Falls. It was nice, really quiet since we went before most of the other tourists. We hiked to the bottom and got drenched by the spray, then walked back to the Red's Meadow resort for drinks and pie at the Mule House Cafe. Later on Nathan went fly fishing for a while and I followed along with my camera.

And then it all went horribly wrong. We drove up into town to have dinner with my parents and Judah, then all went back down to camp for the evening meeting. Nathan and I went to put Judah to bed around 8:30, and he didn't like the idea at all. He cried for about 45 minutes before finally quieting down. Nathan and I went to bed around 11:30 and I woke up at 1:30, and I haven't really slept since. Judah woke up at 2:00, then was awake on and off for the next two hours, then woke up for good at 4:00. We did all we could to keep him quiet, and at 6:30 we decided we were cutting our trip short. Adding to the frustration was the misery of below freezing temps where we were camping, and the cold Nathan managed to develop sometime in the night. We packed up all our stuff and took down the trailer in record time and were on the road by 9:15. We met my parents in Mammoth for breakfast at The Stove, then headed home. And here we are.

Judah is upstairs sleeping peacefully. He's exhausted. Nathan and I are both pretty down about the whole fiasco. I should be able to laugh about it, but we were really looking forward to this being a fun time and a nice vacation. Instead it was mostly just stressful and tiring. I guess camping is one of the things we'll have to mostly put off until we're done having kids and they're done being babies....