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Every Life is a Story
    A place to share my own family stories

Monday, April 30, 2007

Field Trips and Grape Soda

It is field trip season! This is the time of year when all of the classes at school end up going on field trips. My first field trip was a nature walk. It was a half hour long, and we went to a special nature trail, and had lots of different plants, animals, and other important things in nature pointed out to us. There is very little that I remember about the field trip except for the following things: First, my mother came with me, and I felt SO excited that she was there with me. Second, there was a type of grass that we saw that was sectioned- like a straw that had been cut into pieces and then shoved together again. You could pull apart all of those individual pieces and it was really fun to do. I found out later that that particular species of grass dates back to prehistoric eras, but I think I was in kindergarten and first grade and I really just enjoyed pulling the sections apart. Lastly, I had a lunch, and it was the most special lunch in the whole world because it had grape soda. I usually got a school lunch back then, and there was never ever soda. I never got soda at home either. To have a lunch sack with a whole can of soda in it just for me made me feel so special. I don't think I ever had a soda in my lunchbox ever again, but even now when I think of field trips, I think of grape soda.

Interestingly enough, I drink diet sodas which do not come in grape as far as I have found, and the last time I tasted a grape soda it was so awful I threw it away.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Flute Frenzy

My daughter joined the school band this year, and wanted to play the flute. This was GREAT to me, because I also played the flute in the school band, and I had kept my flute all these years. I didn't have to purchase a new instrument for her to play, she could just use my old one! And really, this solution worked just fine until a couple of weeks ago when my daughter said that the flute had stopped playing. Lovely. Repairs required.

The music stores that provide repairs are nowhere near our house- a half hour drive to just fine out what was wrong. I drove out and showed them the flute. The repairman was an extremely soft-spoken, and extremely knowledgeable person. He immediately began listing off what was wrong with the flute....and he kept going, and going, and going.....bottom line? It was going to be $100 to fix the flute, and he couldn't fix it until the next week because he was getting ready for the music store's big used instrument sale that weekend. Ding! Used Instrument Sale!

You see, my flute was purchased used when I was in fifth grade and decided to take band. It was something that had been stored in someone's attic for a thousand years, and we bought it for $100. I don't think it had ever been repaired until a couple of years ago when I needed to replace a couple of pads on the keys. To pay $100 for repairs when we bought the whole FLUTE for $100 seemed like a bit much for me. So we decided to check out the sale! I asked the repairman what the flute prices would run at the sale and he softly said, "I don't know, a little over a hundred..." Bingo! Problem solved.

We went to the sale very hopeful that we would walk out with a newer, and in much better condition instrument. We hit two branches of the store. We walked in. We walked back out. The LOWEST price was $250. This is very reasonable as far as flutes go, really, but not really what the budget could handle compared to repairing the old flute. My daughter was distraught, I had driven all over town for nothing, and we still didn't have a flute we could play.

Plan C involved begging a friend to use her old flute while I got this one repaired. It didn't play well either, and my daughter ended up using the band leader's own flute after the teacher took pity on her. I drove out to the music store...AGAIN...to repair the flute. Voila! Two days later, we got the call that the flute was done. Today, I went back to the store. The flute was beautiful- newly polished, all fixed up, everything lovely. I paid for the repairs, and went out to the car. A feeling came that I really should have tried PLAYING the flute before I left the store. I really didn't want to come back a fifth time because something was wrong. So in the parking lot, I put the flute together and began to play. NOTHING! Not a sound came out of the flute! I couldn't even get a single NOTE out of it!

Beginning to get a tic in my eyebrow over what had become a big ordeal, I strode back into the store. The salespeople looked at me questioningly as I shook my head muttering about something being wrong. I went back to the repair counter, and opened up the flute case, "It still doesn't play!" I said, trying to disguise my frustration. To prove it, I put the flute together and blew into it. "See? Nothing." The repairman said, in his quiet quiet voice, "Um...yeah...that would be because the cleaning rod is still inside the flute. I stored it in there because I didn't see a slot for it in the case. " I looked down the body of the flute. Filled with cleaning rod. Well, that would certainly make it unable to play. I laughed sheepishly, tried the flute without the cleaning rod stuffed inside of it, and it played wonderfully. I went home.

Maybe I can convince my youngest child to try a different instrument.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My Most Embarrassing Moment

I was participating in a dance festival, a performance showcasing lots of different types of dancing. My partner and I had been asked to be in a hoe-down dance- a small performance in between the big group performances. In the dance, there were three lifts. On the last lift, signalling the end of the dance, all of the boys formed a circle, and all of the girls sat on the boys clasped arms, facing outwards. Then, while the boys circled, the girls waved to the audience. We had practiced this many times, and were ready. A sure sign of impending disaster.

On the night of the performance, when the last lift came, I lost my balance. Instead of sitting on the arms of the two boys beside me, I fell over backward so that I was hanging by my knees on their arms as if they were some jungle gym. My hair was brushing the floor, and my backside was...um....facing the audience. By great fortune, my skirt had gotten caught under my knees, saving myself from complete exposure. My poor partner was freaking out as we circled those last endless few measures of the dance, me hanging on for dear life. When the music ended, they let me down carefully so that I was sitting on the floor. I looked at the audience, mostly politely applauding the dance. What was I going to do? I was already completely humiliated. I got up, and took a bow. The audience cheered.

That should have been the end of it, but it wasn't. I was at a dance several months later, and was laughingly telling my dance partner about my embarrassing tumble. He looked at me and said, "That was YOU??!?" Surprised, I asked if he had been at the festival, and he replied, "No, I saw the video tape!" He ended up asking me out on a few dates, mostly because I had the courage to take that bow at the end.

But there's a video tape out there. A reminder that embarrassment and humiliation are eternal.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I was weeding a flowerbed in my front yard a couple of years ago, and was working on some especially thick groundcover that had been infested with grass. As I was working, I was shocked when a frog suddenly jumped out of the flowerbed where I was working. Frogs are not a common sight in dry Utah, but this frog was most especially strange. It was black with green spots, and a red underbelly. It had the brightest colors I had ever seen on a frog. Knowing that bright colors meant poison, and that some frogs seep poison through their skin, I wisely didn't touch it. I yelled for the family to come see, and we observed the frog for a long time.

We decided to look online to see what kind of frog it was. While we couldn't find anything with the EXACT coloring, we found enough similarities to conclude that we had either a Poison Dart Frog from South America, or an Asian Fire-Bellied Toad in our front yard. We must have had an escapee from a terrarium come visit us. Everyone I tell this story to says we should have tried to catch it, but hindsight is 20/20, and we just observed, and let it go its way. I'll make a note the next time a poison dart frog comes to our yard.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Having two little girls means that I always have two little creatures flitting around me all the time. They're wanting to talk, or play, or get help, or hugs, or whatever. When they were very small, I referred to them as butterflies, because that's what their flitting behavior reminded me of. When I was really tired of being surrounded by small little girl butterflies, I would shoo them away saying, "Fly away, little butterflies." And they would leave for about a minute before coming back for something.

One morning, the girls were playing on our bed, and I really needed to get up and get dressed without little people surrounding me. So I said, "Fly away, little butterflies." and shooed them off. My youngest, who was about four years old, turned to me and said, "You know, Mommy, we can't be butterflies because butterflies are the grownups. So, YOU'RE the butterfly, Mommy, and I am a worm."

I know she had forgotten the word for caterpillar, but I liked her calling herself a worm a lot better.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Tooth Fairy

If by chance you are reading this and you are a very young person, I am going to recommend that you stop reading right now. Because I'm going to reveal the truth about something you might not be ready for.

Don't say I didn't warn you....

I am the Tooth Fairy. I am also Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and the Leprechaun that comes on Saint Patrick's Day to turn our milk green. And if I do say so myself, I am fabulous at all of those jobs. Except for one. I am the worst tooth fairy in the history of all tooth fairies.

I was so excited when my oldest got a loose tooth. I was going to begin my role as tooth fairy, and I was going to be GREAT! I made her a little tooth pillow, with a pocket sewn on it to put the tooth, and cute ribbons to tie the pocket closed. I even went to the bank and had a small stash of the gold dollars to trade for the future teeth - MY tooth fairy only gave me quarters. I was giving a DOLLAR. When the tooth finally came out, I told my daughter all about the tooth fairy and how to put the tooth in her pillow that night.

My moment arrived. Just before I went to bed, I grabbed one of my gold dollars, and prepared to be the tooth fairy. I entered my daughter's dark bedroom. I hadn't thought to make her clean her room. The floor was covered with toys. What's more, her bed was in the middle of the room, and she'd put that tooth pillow on the far side of the bed. I had to go all the way around her bed to get to the tooth, stepping and tripping on toys the entire way. I got to the pillow, and reached into the pocket to make the exchange. I grabbed the small round thing in the pocket, and slipped in the gold dollar. I was in the middle of the transaction when I realized my daughter's breathing had changed. She was awake! I didn't quite know what to do, so I just casually finished what I was doing, put the pillow back, and tripped and stumbled my way OUT of her room. I went downstairs, and then came back up, as if I was coming up for the first time. I don't know, it sounded like the thing to do at the time. She was only six, how smart could she BE?

When I got to the top of the stairs again, my daughter stirred and called out for me. I mentioned something about just going to bed. She checked her pillow and announced that the tooth fairy had come. I came into her room, and she told me the story of how she woke up and someone was in her room by her bed, and she had really seen the tooth fairy! She opened the pocket on her pillow, and she exclaimed, "She left me a gold dollar! And look! She left the tooth!" The tooth?? I felt in my jeans pocket for the sharp round object I had pulled out of the pillow. It was still there. What had I collected instead? I hid my surprise as I said, "Oh, neat!" Then she looked at me quizzically, and said, "Mom, the tooth fairy sure did look a lot like you. Are you sure you're not the tooth fairy?" I quickly lied and said, "Um, no, I have no idea what you're talking about, goodnight honey!" and fled. When I got out to the hallway again, I checked my pocket and saw that my lovely six year old had put a red crystal bead in the pocket next to her tooth. Not only had I awakened the child and blown my cover, I hadn't even gotten the TOOTH. I wasn't a tooth fairy, I was a tooth failure!

By morning, I had turned into this beautiful fairy with shining wings and golden hair as my daughter told everyone she knew the story of her waking up and seeing the tooth fairy. By the end of the day, she had started to believe it herself. My cover was saved. But it was only the first of a long list of failures as the tooth fairy. I forgot to take the tooth a few times. Once, she got double the money because her Dad and I hadn't communicated who was actually going to end up being the tooth fairy that night, and I didn't realize there was money already in that pocket. The gold dollars changed to dollar bills, to handfuls of whatever coins I could dig up from the bottom of my purse. The rules started to be that the tooth fairy wouldn't come if the room was messy. Then, giving up entirely, all teeth had to be left out in the hallway.

My youngest lost her first tooth the same year that my oldest found out the truth about the Tooth Fairy, and Santa, and even that Leprechaun. So when it was my youngest's turn to put her tooth in the pocket of a pillow, I decided it was time to turn in my wings. I told my oldest that now she knew the truth, it was her turn to be the tooth fairy. She rose to the occasion with a splendor I never could have imagined. As soon as the youngest went to bed, she began to dress up. She put her hair on top of her head, and wrapped herself in a big padded bathrobe. She put on her dress-up fairy wings over the bathrobe, and put a tooth brush and tube of toothpaste in the pockets of her bathrobe. We waited for over an hour to make sure the youngest was asleep before we sent her in for the switch. She was perfect, as she glided over the floor, traded the tooth for the cash, and glided back out.

I might be a failure as a tooth fairy, but I had RAISED the best Tooth Fairy in the history of all Tooth Fairies! I couldn't be more proud.

"To be a person
is to have a story to tell."

- Isak Dinesen  

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