Sunday, August 31, 2008

"She's Leaving Home"...

Yesterday we headed to Utah to drop Whitney's stuff off at BYU. After a whirlwind unpacking in the new apartment, and a quick hello to a few new roommates it was off to Heber for Trevor and Megan's wedding reception. The yard was beautifully decorated and everything was just lovely, including the two 'hotties' scooping ice cream. This morning we made the drive back down Provo Canyon to really leave Whitney in Provo. Two years ago when I did this, only Eli and I made the trip. I was doing great with the whole situation, or so I thought. We had an ice cream cone at The Creamery and then walked her back to her dorm. The image of Eli trying so hard to blink back his tears is forever embedded on my heart. As Whitney and I hugged just 'one more time' we agreed not to cry and not to say goodbye, but just 'I'll see you soon.' I had been praying for months for courage and strength to be able to let her go, and I can honestly say those prayers were answered for several days. I experienced a calm reassurance that she was where she wanted to be, where she was supposed to be, and where she needed to be. I was fine for about 2 days until I went into her room the first time she wasn't there. Then it hit me. She was gone. I think I stopped breathing. It felt like forever, just standing there, taking it all in. No more sound of her laughter, no more scent of Jasmine, no more 'wits from Whit', no more JEOPARDY challenges, and no more 'goodnight, mom, I love you'. The days went by quickly, and I found that taking deep breaths made it all okay. I came to look forward to her e-mails, and I could still hear the laughter in her voice when she called. Dropping her off last year was a bit easier, but Eli still blinked back those tears for a few miles after we left. This year we had the whole family, so it was a bit different. I asked Eli if he had anything to say to her before we left. "Nope. Just goodbye." No more tears this year. Maybe third time's a charm. It was a bit hard on Cassidy, their last hug was a little longer,but they left each other with a smile. Dad's hug was big and friendly, mine a little bit gentler, but again, no tears, and just an "I love you...we'll see you soon!" Some days I miss her like crazy, but on days like today, I am grateful to know that she is once again, where she wants to be, where she is supposed to be, and where she needs to be. It doesn't get much better than that!

The most 'bang' for your buck!

After having really long hair for almost 5 years, and no bangs for even longer, Whitney took the plunge a few days ago and got a 'new do.' I love the new highlights/lowlights, and the bangs really brighten up her face. All I've got to say now is, 'Girl, you look rockin' hot!' This is definitely NOT a bad hair day for her! I wish her many more good ones to come!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is Larry Boy a Cucumber?

Before you start thinking I endorse "Veggie Tales" as an interesting title for a blog, let me speak: I needed a clever way to lead into my food favorite of the day, fresh cucumbers from my garden. Today I ate 2, yes count them, 2 all by myself and I didn't even share. Next to tomatoes, cucumbers are the reason I let Phillip grow me a garden. I love them plain, with pepper and salt, sliced, chopped and combined with tomatoes and red onion for a fresh and calorie-free relish that's great on hamburgers and hot dogs, or marinated in rice wine vinegar. Here's my all-time to-die for cucumber recipe: Thinly slice about 8-10 cucumbers, (About the thickness of paper) toss with rice wine vinegar and add imitation crab flakes and sesame seeds. It's to die for!

Monday, August 25, 2008

On the first day...of the first grade...

It has finally final baby is starting first grade, my second baby is a senior, and my first baby (who I'll blog/brag about later!) is a junior in college. Eli went to bed last night at 9:00. We all followed about 10:30. By 10:35 I was fast asleep. That is until I was awakened from a deep sleep by a flashing light show in my hallway. I went to investigate. There was my wide-awake, bright-eyed boy, turning the lights on and off, on and off, on and off. "What the heck are you doing?" "Getting your attention. I can't sleep! I'm too excited!" So, on the first night before the first day of first grade, he slept on our floor. The photo speaks for itself!

Cassidy, on the other hand, went to bed late, got up at 7:00, and was still 'primping' (her dad's word, not mine!)at 8:00 when it was time to go! Finally, Whitney, who didn't have to go anywhere early this morning (college student advantage) yells, "We know your hair looks perfect, so go already!" And thus we begin another school year. I don't know what I would do without the mad rushes out the door, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the ticking of the clock wondering how they are doing and the thrill of seeing them come back through the door on their first day of school! I've loved it now for 15 years and I'm glad we will be doing it for a few more! Part of the excitement of seeing Eli come through the front door today involved him lifting up his arm to get something out of his backpack. Am I still the coolest mom on the planet? I don't think so! Note to off the tags BEFORE you send them out the door!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Saying something stupid...

I have a secret addiction. I hate to admit it, but since we got satellite tv I have re-visited the life of "John and Kate Plus Eight." If you're not familiar with their reality show, she had twins, then sextuplets, and their life is utter chaos. I LOVE IT! She and her husband banter and argue and make up and fight again, the kids are normal and healthy and happy and bratty and brilliant, and it just makes me smile. (Probably because I don't have 8 children, but that's a blog for another day!) Anyway, I was watching the show for a few minutes with Whitney this morning (alright, it was a whole hour!) and I made the following remark, "I'm thinking of those 3 twins from SAVED BY THE BELL!" Whitney starts to laugh and I look at her blankly and say, "What?" She replies, "Mom, listen to this sentence. 'I'm thinking of the THREE TWINS!' What's wrong with this picture?" We both had a good laugh over my conflicting sentence. I guess I am destined to go through life knowing that my language skills will always need improvement, and that my own personal grammer goddess, the Queen of English, will be there to guide me right back to where I should be! ***Side note back to the previous blog: I think tomatoes contain lycopene, which is supposed to be really good for your health in so many ways, including preventing cancer and boosting your brain skills. So, in defense of my "Miley-like" three twins comments, I'm sure I'll sound a lot more intellectual in a few weeks when my lycopene levels are back to normal!

The best taste of summer...

The day before yesterday I was in heaven, that is. One of my favorite tastes of summer is my first ripe tomato from the garden. Finding those vine-ripened beauties is almost like discovering gold at the end of the rainbow. My tradition for the last 20-plus years has been to take my treasure into the kitchen, slice it and savor the smell, spread a thin layer of butter on bread (this is not for you no-carb eaters!) pile on the tomato, generously pepper it and sprinkle with just a dash of salt. That first bite takes me to a place I'll return to again and again over the next few weeks. Fresh tomatoes in salads, in salsa, on hamburgers, with some bacon and lettuce on toast, plain as a side dish for dinner. Life just doesn't get much better than this...unless it's that fresh cucumber that is not quite ripe enough to pick yet! Once winter comes and the fresh tomatoes are gone, I'll go back into fresh tomato withdrawls until my vine-ripened beauties magically appear again when the summer is almost done, and fall is just around the corner.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Smile for the Camera...

So, I had a friend of mine take a few pictures of my kids for me this summer before Whitney goes back to college again. Needless to say, even though Eli was completely uncooperative, I got a few that I can use, including a darling one of their feet. I have had an idea brewing in my head for awhile now, and once everyone is back in school I am creating a new photo wall in the great room. I'm so excited to get started!In the meantime, enjoy the pics of my beautiful children, grouchy faces and all! On a funnier note, a few weeks ago, one of Eli's friend was over and said to him, "Hey, Eli, you should get some head shots!" We thought he was implying that Eli should become a male model, but what he REALLY meant was head shots from a light saber fight! After the last photo shoot, I can definitely say that modeling is NOT in his future. He is too much of a diva in front of the camera!

Can you believe I will have a junior in college, a senior in high school, and an all-day first grader? Time just flies when you're having fun! We have had a great summer...playing games, running through sprinklers, talking on the porch, watching movies, having late night s'more bonfires, floating lazy rivers and cheering on the Olympians. Now that they are going to be back in school, I guess it is time for me to pursue some of my swimsuit model, professional baseball announcer, Three Dog Night groupie, or Iron Chef champion. I guess I'd better get busy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Do you believe in miracles?

I'm running out of adjectives to describe what Michael Phelps accomplishes in the pool. After winning the 100 butterfly by one hundredth of a second, Michael Phelps admitted he was at a loss for words. Admittedly, so was I. When I opened this blog asking you to believe in the impossible, I thought I was being cheesy. Michael Phelps knew differently. As did Mark Spitz. In an interview after the race, he admitted to knowing Phelps could (even would) accomplish this outlandish goal since Michael Phelps broke a world record nearly two years ago. Hearing these words of praise, Mr. Phelps looked stunned to be receiving such compliments. Michael seemed unwilling to accept the title of "greatest Olympian," but Mark felt the title belonged to Phelps. As happy as Spitz seemed to hand over his swimming honors to a new king, Phelps seemed even more humble to receive it. Tonight, Phelps has his last swim of these games, a bittersweet thought for those of us who thrive on watching him do the impossible, but probably a sweet conclusion for him to a week of writing history every time he jumped in the pool. Congratulations, Michael, and best of luck with whatever you decide to accomplish next.

Another American Olympian is facing a very different feeling this morning. Sprinter Tyson Gay did not medal in his quest to be the fastest man on Earth; Jamaican Usain Bolt (whose name implies running at lightning speeds) won and set a new world record. Gay feels he let down the expectations of the entire country. Yes, I wanted Gay to win. Yes, I thought he could do it. But just because he didn't doesn't make him less of an Olympian. It reminds me of a line from one of my favorite Olympic movies: Cool Runnings. The coach tells his bobsled racer, a former sprinter, about his own brush with Olympic greatness. He won a gold medal, only to get caught cheating. A gold medal: "If you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it." From what I've seen, both Tyson Gay and Michael Phelps are enough without it. Tyson Gay comes up short, while Michael Phelps finds the wall first time after time. In my book, that doesn't make one greater than the other. I think Michael Phelps understands that; that's why he refuses to accept the title of "Greatest Olympian of All Time." He knows that the medal count is not a true measure of greatness.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adrenaline Rush

If you're like me (Whitney), you're probably still stunned by the amazing race put in by the American swim team. If you don't know what I'm talking about, make sure you find the race online at It's the best swimming relay of all-time and the most memorable moment in Olympic history I've ever witnessed. It kept Michael Phelps's dream of 8 golds alive, and demonstrated that swimming can be a team sport. Watching the race with a friend's house, we couldn't contain our excitement and jumped and screamed for several minutes. I'm told similar pandemonium took place at the Sorensen residence. The entire country experienced a simultaneous adrenaline rush, although no one more than Jason Lezak who swam the fastest relay leg in history. Phelps exhibited his adrenaline by impersonating the Incredible Hulk. Don't believe me? Except for the green skin, they could be twins.

The rest of the American team seemed to be riding the adrenaline wave from that rush during last night's prime time coverage. Two American's medaled in the first three races, capturing three gold medals in the process. Even the men's gymnastics team believed in the impossible, capturing a bronze medal behind the spectacular Chinese team who were cheered to near perfection by the home crowd. Tonight Michael Phelps himself will reach for the impossible, as he goes for two more medals, one of them in another relay that's sure to be must-see. I'll be there, and you can bet I'll feel the rush of adrenaline once again.

Tag...You're It!

I guess I didn't quite make it through the summer without being 'tagged' so here goes the lastest version from my friend Karalee. Answer if you can...don't feel any pressure to know that I will be checking your blogs HOURLY to see if you even look at mine to see what's there! Here we go:

4 Places I Frequently Visit:
1. The Wal-mart--not my favorite store, but it's close and has what I'm looking for.
2. Does the laundry room count?
3. The front porch. Summer is almost over and it's just too good to pass up those lazy front porch moments.
4. Sonic Happy Hour. Can you say peach sprite?
(5. Did I already say laundry room?)

4 People who call/text/e-mail me regularly:
1. Kim
2. Erin
3. My mother
4. The familia

4 Favorite Foods:
1. Shrimp ANYTHING!
2. Fresh salsa and chips
3. Cucumbers from the garden
4. Lasagna

4 Places I'd Rather Be:
1. Beijeing--obviously (I know it's not spelled right, but the other way didn't look right either!)
2. Disneyland--always the happiest place on earth
3. Cape Cod--never been, but know it would be fabulous
4. Little League World Series--again, never been, but would love to go just once!

4 Movies I'd Watch Over and Over:
1. Return to Me--"Grace has Bob's dead wife's heart."
2. That Thing You Do--"I am Spartucus!"
3. Remember the Titans--"Attitude reflect leadership."
4. Napolean Dynamite--"My lips hurt real bad."

4 Bands/Groups I love to listen to right now:
1. Maroon Five
2. Train
3. Jason Mraz
4. Jack Johnson

4 People I'm Tagging:
1. Kim
2. Sandy
3. Summer
4. Cody

Scattergories : This one is harder, but try it anyway. Use the first letter of your name to answer all the questions. All answers must be real places, things, or names...nothing made up. Don't use the same answers as your friend. You can't use your name for the boy/girl answers. Ready, set, go!

Name: Joy
4-letter word: Jump
Vehicle: Jaguar (dream on, Cody)
TV Show: Jeopardy! (What I'll be in as these questions get harder!)
City: Jakarta (I think they sell drugs there!)
Boy Name: Javier ( a person who sells drugs in Jakarta)
Girl Name: Jane (remember when you learned to read "See Jane jump!)
Occupation: Janitor (hey, that's me!) or Jouster (hey, that was Heath Ledger!)
Something you wear: Jumpsuit (very flattering to all figure types, including Elvis!)
A food: Jicama (the 'j' says 'h' in this word, but I think it counts. Personally, I don't like hicama, I mean jicama, but I think it works for this category)
Something found in a bathroom: I will say 'jacuzzi' for my official answer, but I can't resist this one: 'the john' Okay. Potty humor allotment for the year used up. Check!
Reason for being late: Jury duty, although if you're late for this one, you're probably jousted by the judge and shipped of to a jail cell in Jakarta.
Something you shout: "Jerk!" ( A word not featured in my vocabulary, but I think I heard Elvis use it once when talking to his jumpsuit designer, after finding that it didn't fit in a flattering way!)

Ja'all come back now, ja hear! (That's Swedish for goodbye, but I will remind you that the Swedes put the 'j' sound in front of any word to make it sound very foreign and debonair. Try it sometime. Example: Joy is just j'lightful.) Now I'm really done. This is what happens when one is suffering from sun stroke from too much time on the Lazy River at Ross Park. We like to call in 'jinsanity'! OUT!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Going Bananas...

I know food is getting more expensive each time I go to the grocery store, but something happened today that I wanted to share. Whitney, Cassidy, and I went to get a Jamba Juice. While we were waiting, Whitney innocently asked me, "How much do you usually pay for a bunch of bananas?" "Oh, about fifty to sixty cents for five or six bananas," I replied. I didn't know why she was asking until she started laughing and pointed to a basket on the counter. It had one small banana inside that they were trying to sell for seventy-five cents! I've decided to take my money and buy a bunch of bananas at the store. Then, if I need a little extra cash, I'll put them in a basket on my counter and charge Cassidy's friends seventy- five cents to eat them!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sitting in for Bob Costas...

Greetings, readers. This is Whitney Sorensen, sitting in for the Front Porch Friend. As the member of the clan who's been counting down to the Olympics all summer long, I'll be providing Olympic commentary for the next three weeks. With just four days to go, I can barely contain the excitement, so let's dive right in.

As an all-around sports entusiast in general, I love the Olympics more than any other sporting competition. Only once every four years can you find the world at large cheering for swimming, track and field, gymnastics, and even more obscure events. Badminton, judo, and table tennis (aka ping-pong) are all Olympic sports. I recommend water polo and rowing, two less popular sports that are both fascinating and exciting to watch. (Plus, rowing carries associations of New England prep schools and Ivy League universities that I find hard to resist.) And only once every four years do athletes have a chance to compete for the rarest of sports accolades: an Olympic medal.

There are two ways to cheer at the Olympics. You can root for a single athlete or team to have an astounding achievment by winning large numbers of medals, smashing a world record, or defending former Olympic and world titles. These athletes establish dynasties of greatness. You can be sure I'm cheering for Michael Phelps in each of his eight events. But as they say in sports, records are made to be broken. After the US men's basketball team was dethroned from its "Dream Team" status in Athens (lucking into a bronze rather than outscoring their way to a goal), critics blamed young players and other factors. But I choose to see it differently. That is only a positive side effect of the Olympics, spreading athletic achievement world-wide rather than confining the elite talent to one country. Look at baseball, that most American of all sports; the US team isn't even favored to medal.

Which leads me to the other way to cheer. Since the Olympics happen only once every four years, for the majority of the athletes participation, rather than prize-winning, is the true measure of achievement. What if Michael Phelps does not win his unprecedented eight golds (knock on wood), will he be less of an athlete, less of a person? In fact, he could easily be upset in two of his races by his American teammates Ian Crocker and Ryan Lochte, either of whom would be equally deserving. (Phelps himself is staying away from predictions, a refreshing attitude for a man who could emerge as the most decorated Olympian of all-time if he wins even three more golds. Not bad.) Take time to cheer for those who finish, those who fall, and those who fight to win even if they come up a hundredth of a second too short. Don't pay too much attention to the medal count. These are not even sanctioned by the IOC, and do not even partially reflect all the heart behind every event, every team, every athlete, every country.

But what's the best thing about the Olympics in the world according to Whitney? The fact that no one can truly predict the unexpected stories of the Olympic games. Four years ago, the Iraq soccer team played astonishingly well, surprising even themselves. That look of surprise greatness on the face of a perfectly-toned athlete is worth its weight in gold, silver, or bronze. The Olympic Games being as rare as they are, you just might find yourself believing that insurrmountable odds are beatable. That, too, is a rare feat.