Friday, February 26, 2010

A Day With My Mommy

With my Mom here to see some babies, and without me getting called to work, we both found excuses for me to pick her up for a day out on the town! She wanted to give Joe and T'liese some alone time with their son, Evan, and I wanted to show her the good eats we have in this Valley! I was at their house in south Phoenix around 10:00 AM. After watching Mom finish baking a batch of sugar cookies, per T'liese's request, Mom and I loaded up in my trusty ol' Taurus and headed east. We went closer to my neighborhood, mostly to visit a kitchen supply store T'liese had told us about. We began our trip by stopping at TJ Maxx (no surprise there, huh?) My Mom has had only bad experiences with TJ Maxx, since the store closest to them is rather ghetto and not nearly like my store. Mine is new, clean, and HUGE! We spent an hour in there looking at furniture, paintings, women's shoes, socks and even laptop cases. She has been searching for a carrying case to hold her new laptop, and we finally found a beautiful red leather bag that is padded and holds her electronic buddy perfectly. I totally lucked out by not having to ship her Mother's Day present to her! I think I converted her, too. She said she finally understands why I like that store so much! It's not like I talk about it a lot, or anything...

After TJ Maxx, our stomachs told us it was time to get some lunch. So we backtracked a few miles to Baseline and Country Club to eat at one of the most wonderful cafes I have ever experienced! T'liese actually introduced me to Crackers Cafe a few months ago, and I knew it would be the perfect lunch location for me and my Mommy. She loved it as much as me! We both started out with a delicious soup, Mom having the Creamy Spinach and Artichoke and me preferring the Baked Potato. They were both delicious and scrumptious...obviously made from scratch! Then the good stuff came, and I love how we spent the first three minutes with our food by simply taking pictures! She laughed and said people we going to think we were food critics! (Just for the record, I rarely criticize food. I am usually on its side). Mom ordered the Reuben Melt, which looked wonderful and melty. Were it not for the corned beef, sauerkraut, and marble rye bread, it may very well be something I would enjoy, too. I had the French Chick, which just means they put their delicious chicken salad onto a croissant. It's really the only way to eat chicken salad. Our food was so good, and we even got to save half our sandwiches for later since we got so full! What a great cafe! She wants to take Merrill, my step-dad, there when they come down in April for some baby blessings. Done!

After lunch and a successful photo shoot with sandwiches, we continued our day of fun by heading to Shar's Kitchen Supply in Gilbert. T'liese had ranted and raved about how wonderful this place was, and it sounded like something my Mom and I needed to see in person. We spent over an hour in there and looked at every row in the store! It was fun to see so many contraptions for so many uses in the kitchen. I, for one, am rather proud that I don't need an avocado masher to feel like a real woman. I can use one of those "fork" things any day and still feel like my guacamole is a hit! It was fun to be there with my Mommy and talk about every single thing in that store. Another hour flew by.

Then it was Happy Hour! At Culver's, that is! If you buy one concrete mixer ice cream shake, you get a second for free! I am all about taking advantage of delicious deals, and my Mom had never been to Culver's. Known most for its Butter Burger, I discovered Culver's when they appeared in my college town of Grand Forks, North Dakota. When I saw one being built on Country Club and Baseline last year, my heart skipped a beat. It was difficult to get it under control because I kept thinking about their Mint Oreo Concrete Mixer (which is exactly what we both got). What a fun burger joint. And straight from the Midwest, too, so it just feels so wholesome! And we were the skinniest patrons there! I am making a mental note of that and deciding to only enjoy Happy Hour when an out-of-towner is in town!

After our ice cream afternoon snack, we headed north towards my house to Deseret Book. My Mom loves the series by Hugh Nibley, and we BOTH love walking around book stores. We finished there just about the time John was done with work one block away, so we drove him to our house so I could show my Mom the new painting. I didn't realize she hadn't been to my house since my wedding, so it was fun to show her what we've done with the place (and with eight beds). We didn't stay long, as I didn't want to fight rush hour traffic getting her back to the Friends. So we got on the freeway and made it back to south Phoenix around 5:00 PM.

Mom frosted some sugar cookies while we enjoyed looking at how stinkin' cute Evan is! I don't have an photographic proof from yesterday's cuteness, but he only gets better with age. Jeff, Megan, and Mayla arrived, bearing dinner of Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken. Being that John had meetings all night, I stayed to eat dinner with the family. Then we just enjoyed an evening together, talking and cooing over two adorable babies. I really enjoy time with my family. We all get along and have great conversations. It's a rare treat when just my Mom is in town, so I wanted to maximize the enjoyment by staying until after 9:00 PM, until they finally kicked us out of their home! None of those people are any fun now that they "have babies and need to get to bed early." Priorities!

It was a great day with my Mama, whom I love dearly. She is full of wit, gratitude, desire to serve, humility, beauty, charm, and compassion. I knew I had to get my wonderful characteristics from someone!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1 Grandma + 2 New Grandbabies = Happiness

Southwest Airlines brought my Mama to town yesterday so she could spend some time with her two new grandbabies. In case I haven't mentioned it previously, my brother and his wife had their baby girl, Mayla, five weeks ago. And my sister and her husband had their first baby, Evan, just this past week. So Grandma came down to meet and greet them. It's not everyday your grandbaby count doubles, so she had to come celebrate with the reasons themselves.

With a packed suitcase for work in my trunk, I picked up my Mom from Phoenix Sky Harbor around 3:00 PM. We headed north to The Cheesecake Factory (I promise someone else actually made this suggestion, not me. No, really!) to meet Megan and Mayla for a late lunch. This was Mayla's second visit to The Cheesecake Factory, which only means we are starting her life out right. We split a delicious order of the fried zucchini, very healthy because it partially contains a vegetable. Then we each got a meal to enjoy...Megan getting a Louisiana Chicken Pasta dish, and Mom and I getting the same thing, the Chicken Marcel. Then we accidentally ordered a piece of Chocolate Tuxedo Cheesecake to split, because we had yet to get enough food on the table. Although the meal was delicious, the best part was watching my Mom hold baby Mayla for the first time. Isn't my Mom such a beautiful lady? I love her so much. When Mayla got hungry, I stayed behind to finish the bill (we split it because no one would let anyone else pick up the entire tab) while Megan and Mom headed to Megan's house to feed Mayla her afternoon snack. I arrived shortly after and admired Mayla's shoe drawer. That baby has some very loved feet! I have never seen so many adorable shoes for one kid! Luckily, she has a lot of fans with shoe fetishes.

Around 6:00 PM, it came time to swing by to pick up my brother from work before heading to the Friends house for my Mom to meet baby #2, Evan, who was born just this past Wednesday. It's amazing what a month of growing has done to little Mayla. She requires two arms to hold, while Evan could easily still be considered a multi-tasker baby. For instance, I can hold him in one arm and take pictures of him with the other. Mayla? Impossible! You need both arms to hold all the perfection!

We spent a lovely evening at T'liese and Joe's house, talking about babies and poopy diapers and onesies. I learn a lot every time I am with these people! It was so fun to watch my Mom get to hug on two new babies in one evening. It may be on the top of her list for best days ever. And I never got the call to head to work, so I got to soak it all in. What a wonderful evening!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Art and Such

A few years ago, when I lived just three blocks away from TJ Maxx in Albuquerque, I would frequently frequent the fine establishment. I found a painting that I loved but couldn't justify spending $79.99. So I did what any self-respecting, decent person would do...I hid it in the store so no one else could take it while I thought it out. Just two days later, when I decided that I could no longer live without it, I went back to purchase the beautiful artwork that I now knew would go perfectly on my living room apartment wall. Much to my dismay, the painting couldn't be located in the entire store...even my hiding place had been emptied! I learned a valuable lesson that very day. If I happen to be in TJ Maxx and happen to see something that I love, I need to buy it rather than let somebody else take it home!

Fast-forward almost four would think the wounds of such a loss would still be fresh. Last week, I happened to be at TJ Maxx and happened to be browsing through the art selections when I saw it...a gorgeous new picture that captured my soul! It had my favorite colors! It had a gorgeous landscape! It was abstract but real enough to recognize what it was! It was, quite simply, PERFECT! But I looked at the price tag and let my heart sink. So I walked (and whimpered) out of the store without putting it in my shopping cart (actually, I never use a shopping cart in that store...I tend to get carried away when I don't have to balance the selected items in my arms).

I had dreams of the painting. I talked to John about the painting. It was the first piece of art on my mind when I awakened the next morning. I decided that, once again, I couldn't live without this piece on my wall. So I went back, only to be heartbroken that it was missing from its previous location. How could I do this to myself?! Twice? Come on!

Wednesday is the day new arrivals come to the store. Only a maniac like myself would be privy to such information. I decided to twist the dagger in my soul a little more by seeing if the same painting would arrive on the new shipment. No such luck, so I decided to walk around the rest of the store to cheer myself up. Luckily for me...I stumbled across my painting! The very one I thought had been lost forever! It is so beautiful that they had moved it to a difference location in the store to show it off. I felt a little silly for not pouting the day before and finding the painting in the process, but one can imagine my glee that I had re-discovered it at last! What a joyous reunion.

I was very cheerful until I got to my car and attempted, unsuccessfully, to fit a 40x40 inch painting into my Ford Taurus. Did you know the angle on a door measures just 38"? I didn't know that, either. So I reluctantly took the painting back inside so they could hold it for me until I figured out what to do. On my drive home, I decided to bug John's cousin, Barbara, to see if her Honda Pilot just happened to be available for an artwork pickup. She is so sweet and good to us...she let me steal her car to pick up the painting, which magically fit inside the back of her vehicle with no problems at all!

When I got home, I had a new problem. Which wall in our tiny apartment can showcase this beautiful painting that had now captured my spirit? I tried the main wall in our living room but ultimately felt much too guilty to give those church guys and the temple the boot. So I put them back up in their proper places and took my painting to another wall in the house. In my bedroom. And now I get to enjoy it all the time! I am already planning future furniture and accessories to match this painting in our home someday. In the meantime, it can hang out in my bedroom and make me very, very happy.

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