Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bright Light City

Camille won tickets on the radio to see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in Las Vegas and a night at the Venetian Hotel.  Lindsay went to the concert with her but I tagged along because you never pass up an opportunity to get out of Dodge.

I believe that Las Vegas could go up in a blazing inferno and we'd all be the better for it. Good riddance, I say. It's ugly out there, and it's generally hot, and it doesn't matter how gilded the place is, it's still really trashy. The Venetian seems to be a lovely hotel and the rooms run for a few hundred dollars, but it still had stains on the couches and towels felt just like towels you would get at a Motel 6 and we were still next to a room full of drunk frat boys. But whatever, FREE! And it had a giant tub. And there's something magical about blackout curtains and lounging in bed until noon.

A few observations:

1.  There seem to be 3 options for men wanting to wear shorts:  plaid, neutral, or coral. Is there an ad running on ESPN that says to wear coral shorts? Because they were seriously everywhere. I'm not complaining, coral shorts are just fine. I just think it's cute that every guy seems to have a pair now.

2.  And do you know what every woman has? A Vegas Dress. What makes a dress a Vegas Dress is its size. It has to be two sizes too small so that your belly button is clearly outlined, it has to be about .5 centimeters below your butt, and it has to constantly ride up.  There's also a special dance that goes with the Vegas Dress: you tuck your clutch under your arm, you hold a drink in one hand and use your free hand to pull your dress down so you don't flash the casino, all while walking around on 6 in heels. The Vegas Dress is not for the faint of heart.

3.  I saw a lot of fanny packs. I absolutely love how they have never gone away. They're the cockroach of fashion.

4. Is there anything sadder than the people who make their living dressing up as super heroes and show girls for tourists to take pictures with on the strip? Maybe the tourists who take pictures with them?

5. The only worthwhile thing in Las Vegas is the garden in the Bellagio.  These are the only pictures I took because otherwise it would just be pictures of people walking around with those foot-long margarita cups. I know you'd rather see tulips.

Is Camille wearing coral shorts?!

6. Whenever I'm in Vegas I have a constant loop of Elvis songs in my head. Which is fine by me.
7. This has nothing to do with Las Vegas but have you seen that video of the little girl singing along with Elvis? Here. Make sure you watch to the end. And then you can die. 

Friday, March 21, 2014


There was a pretty interesting story on NPR the other day about how schools are starting to implement the of idea of grit into their curriculum. You know, School of Hard Knocks kind of stuff. They embrace failure as a means to greater learning and resilience. Which is all well and good, it just seems unsettling that schools have to teach something that used to be learned simply by living.

So it's been on my mind. And then I came across this article a few days ago about the Overprotected Child. It opens in a playground in Wales that resembles a junkyard - full of old tires and metal drums to light fires in (seriously, kids are lighting fires in them).  There are adult supervisors but for the most part the kids are free to roam the piles of wood and discarded furniture all in the name of imagination and childhood and fun. I understand the fear of them lobbing an arm off as they chop wood with a hatchet or fall onto a rusty nail. And yet I'm still going to side with the fire-builders on this one. Kids need time away from adults. And they need to do outrageous things that make them feel older and powerful. They need to be able to take their bikes and ride out into the world. They need to come across a problem and come up with a solution on their own. And also, kids get hurt. And they get hurt doing the most mundane things. I cracked open my head just spinning around to make myself dizzy and I spun into a mirror, and that was in the safety of my home with my mom watching.

The worrier in me kind of panicked with I read about all the seemingly dangerous things these kids were doing. But then the author noted that the people who run it keep an injury log and there hadn't been anything more serious than the scraped knees that always come with playing. Not any of them have burned up from lighting a fire in a metal drum. She also noted that she figured out her 10 year old daughter had only spend about 10 minutes completely unsupervised in the whole of her lifetime. Ten minutes! That's 10 whole years entirely in contact with an adult. This seems shocking to me. Although it I also walked to kindergarten with just Gina, who was 7, in Pomona. We regularly walked down to the liquor store for candy. We had a pile of wood with nails in it on the side of the house that we always played in. So did our neighbor. If you ask my siblings what the best park was they would say the one that had the enormous metal slide that didn't have any railings and that you could easily fit 20 kids on. It's gone now, along with all the other really fun stuff. Which is such a big shame.

Let your kids be free! (So says the childless spinster.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Easily Pleased

I am so easy to please. Here's a list of things that have recently done the trick:

1.  I bought daffodils because they looked so yellow and cheerful. I had them in my room for one day and then I had to move them out to the living room because they were making my allergies go berserk. But just knowing they're around makes me glad inside.

2.  I looked up the word berserk.


[ber-surk, -zurk] Show IPA

violently or destructively frenzied; wild; crazed; deranged: He suddenly went berserk.

( sometimes initial capital letter ) Scandinavian Legend. . Also, ber·serk·er. an ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzied rage in battle, possibly induced by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms.

3.  I had my seminary kids throw marshmallows at each other this morning. There were reasons for it, but mostly the reason was that I wanted to see them throw marshmallows.

4.  Briley, reader of this blog and sometimes visitor to the institute, told me today that someone came into the bakery she works at and ordered a bunch of bread bowls for the Knights of Columbus. I love the image of the K of C sitting around, their plumed helmets resting on the tables, their capes jauntily tossed back across their shoulders, eating chili out of bread bowls and talking about the Pope.

5. I plucked my eyebrows for the first time in forever and I no longer feel like a hairy muppet.

6. I checked out A Midsummer Tights Dream by Louise Rennison. There are many authors that I love - Steinbeck, Austen, Dickens - but if there was ever an author who spoke directly to my soul it is Louise Rennison and her embarrassing teenage heroines.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Grip

And now for My Body is Giving Up on Me: Stomach Flu Addition (see also, Random Eye Lid Leprosy addition, and Shingles + Bronchitis addition)

At about 5:30 on Friday morning I sent out a panicked text to the other seminary teachers, "Emergency! I can't stop throwing up!!! Someone take my class!" Because by that point I had been awake for 5 hours doing nothing but convincing myself to throw up and then throwing up and then berating myself for throwing up because I hate it so much. I also had myself nearly convinced that I had contracted malaria from the mosquito bite I got earlier in the week.  I was pretty delirious by that point and I wasn't fully convinced that it wasn't malaria until Friday night and I finally didn't feel like Death wasn't hanging out on my doormat.

I spent all of Friday sleeping it off. And then nibbling on Saltines and sipping Gatorade. And then more sleeping and then more nibbling and sipping but no more vomiting.

Lindsay, who hates throwing up more than I do, asked if it was worse than that time I lost my spleen in Tunisia and it wasn't. There was not crying on the bathroom floor. Nothing could possibly be worse than that. If anything is worse you're all invited to my wake, because I'll be dead. But this was bad enough to be in the running.

I snapped this picture because it struck me that anyone could look at this and guess what was going on. An empty sleeve of Saltines, a stack of books, some water, and remotes.

I barely touched the books (I can't focus when I'm warding off the Grip) but the remotes saw plenty of action. I watched a ton of movies. The new Thor, which seemed like it was made just to be made, Catching Fire, which I hadn't seen, if you can believe it, and liked, and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which has Judi Dench AND Maggie Smith so obviously I loved it. I've decided I'm going to be Judi Dench when I grow up. Do you think she wears muumuus around the house?

I'm fit as a fiddle, by the way. Good as new. I've been eating like a regular person who eats and I'm ready to tackle whatever part of my body revolts next. (I'm kidding. Please stop.)

Monday, March 10, 2014


Do you know what the number one question is when I tell people that I'm going to a tennis tournament?  "Oh, do you play?" Which is funny because I never get asked that when I say I'm going to a Dodger game. I realize though that most people don't follow tennis so they wouldn't know that professional tournaments go on year round and one of them is right down the road, figuratively speaking. And I suppose I should be flattered that someone would look at me and think tennis player. I did actually take tennis lessons, once when I was a kid and then again at BYU and I loved it, except holy cats you run a lot.

Anyway, Camille and I made the trek out to the desert again for two days of watching tennis and being roasted by the sun. And Lindsay joined us on day two, which was a treat. Katie was supposed to come out too but she got sick, which was the biggest bummer.  Next year!

Here's a round-up:

1.  Per tradition, we watched Andy Murray play

2. But for the most part we hung out at the smaller courts and saw some really great matches

This guy is Samuel Groth from Australia and every time he'd make a mistake he would mumble to himself, "Come on, Sam. Come on."

3. I am done with people talking on their phones at inappropriate times. Like for example, the middle of a tennis match.  It happened all the time. Done I say!

4. But I'm not done with this guy:

No shoes. No shirt. No problems. Am I right?

5.  I don't think I can adequately express to you just how intense the sun is out there.  But here's a picture that maybe captures it a little. You can barely make out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga crouching down there. It is bright and hot and there are times when you feel like you're going to catch on fire and the only thing that will save you is another frozen lemonade.

6. Or naps in the shade.

7. Some guy asked if the three of us were sisters. We get this all the time. There is a very distinct Knechtiness about us. But he then said, "Do you want to know how I knew? You're lips." Blank stares from us. "I'm not a creeper."

8. Funny, non-tennis related story:  we checked into our hotel and went up to our room and opened the door and there were two men inside, already settled in.  And on their way to a night on the town because they were dressed in their fanciest club shirts and drenched in cologne. The looks on all of our faces were priceless. We got it all settled and I'm just grateful that everyone inside was fully clothed.

9. We got to chat with some line judges while waiting to get into a match and boy was it enlightening. I was very curious as to how they got into it and what their jobs are like. You start pretty low, like JV college low, and work your way up but then you can basically go anywhere. Which sounds like such a great gig. And I would totally look into it if it did not involve wearing pleated front khaki shorts.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Kuriously Bodacious

I sent a panicked message to Camille yesterday:

"We can't stay at that hotel I booked this weekend because they just sent me an email saying 'Come try our Kuriously Bodacious Kafe Bar food.'"

You KNOW how much it bugs me when places of business use incorrect spelling to be cute or grab attention. So much so that I've actually not used a product because of it. People who choose to ignore the rules of spelling should not get my money. We're still staying at that hotel, I'm not crazy, but they may get a strongly worded statement in my review concerning this matter.

What does kuriously bodacious kafe bar food even mean?

And I'm not kidding, two minutes after I sent that I came across this article explaining why companies do this.

I actually had to stop reading half way through because all the examples were giving me the vapors. But I can sum it up in just two words:

They're dumb.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What's your favorite?

A few weeks ago when Casey, Kylea, and Addie were in town, we headed over to Rite-aid for some ice cream cones.  It had been a tough day, and it's not that I need an excuse for a Thrify's cone, but if I did, that day had plenty of them. So you can imagine the laser beams that shot out of my eyes at the poor kid behind the counter when he told me that they were out of rocky road.  HOW DO YOU RUN OUT OF ROCKY ROAD!!!!!!!??????? Shouldn't you have a room dedicated in the back just for storing extras?

Anyway, I got chocolate malted crunch instead, which isn't such a bad trade off.

We went again on Monday, this time because Valerie was about to fly back to the Frozen Northeast and we needed some sitting around and talking time.  I feel like the universe was making up for robbing me of rocky road because the scoop that I got was exploding out of the cone. It was amazing. The counter kid has a real gift for getting the maximum amount of ice cream in those cylindrical scoops.

I asked my seminary kids what their favorite flavor of Thrifty's ice cream is and more than half of them said that they had never been or had only been once.  Parenting FAIL! If you're from southern California and you don't have a favorite Thrifty's flavor then I don't think you should be able to enjoy the other great things that this place has to offer. Hand over your Disneyland pass, stop going to the beach, don't even think about In-n-Out, tacos are off limits, and stay in your house because all this glorious sunshine is now off limits to you! Incidentally, we saw a ton of people we know also getting some ice cream so not every parent is failing.

While we're on the topic of ice cream, a few weeks ago we went out to LA and happened to be in the neighborhood of Neveux (ok, so we planned that) and stopped in to say hi to Leo. I tried the strawberry balsamic with the pepper peach and KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS!!! Who wants to go on a field trip with me?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Inclement Weather Art Society

It was a perfect morning for Art Society. Cold and rainy and lazy. It helps that having cocoa at every meeting, if desired, is in our bylaws. (Side note:  I am generally opposed to kitchen gadgets that take up too much space and do things that can easily be done using a more common tool. Like avocado scoops or mango cutters. Give me a break! You already have a spoon and a knife!! But the Cocomotion is genius and makes an appearance at nearly every Art Society. I know that you can make cocoa in a pot but this baby mixes and heats it up for you. And then will re-stir and reheat as desired. This is not a paid advertisement but if Mr. Coffee is reading this and wants to send me one I wouldn't say no.)

Heather wanted us to paint her some pictures to hang on her walls so the kids came with canvases and acrylics and brushes.  The Knecht New Years Eve Paint-fest was the first and only time I have painted so my skill level is pretty low but I watched several videos online and a life time of the Joy of  Painting with Bob Ross so I felt confident. And K and J came with pictures they wanted to do.

You should remember that I have Inclement Weather Paralysis and when it rains and is cold I can't bring myself to put on mascara or do my hair. So I look like a hobo. Or maybe like a consumptive artist. For the record, I did not sleep in those clothes. But that should actually surprise you.

K did the Omega Centari globular cluster (?!) and a snowflake, and J did the Walt and Mickey statue in front of the castle at Disneyland. And I did a tree. Because trees are easy and pretty. In between bouts of homework, Katie came out and touched up an abstract painting for her room.

True artists use up a lot of space


Don't you love how sometimes your blotter looks like art too.
Later we cuddled under blankets and watched Star Wars and ate popcorn. Art Society is my favorite!!