Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Checklist

Published October 28, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Today is a momentous day for me. As I write this column, it is exactly one week before Halloween, and all the costumes are finished. (Excuse me while I brace for the imminent universal implosion.) I didn't even realize I had everything ready until the kids asked to go to the Halloween carnival at the church tonight. When I began to tell them I didn't know if we had all the costumes, I stopped in my oft procrastinating tracks and realized my mental list was almost completely checked off.

Ray: Ninja costume? Check. Nunchucks? Check. Nunchuck Skills? Consult Karate teacher. Nunchuck spelling? Wikipedia says we're good...Check.

Miriam: Burglar costume? Check. Menacing stare? Check. Cleptomania? Two out of three's not bad.

Cate: Cat costume? Check. Puss in Boots accessories? Check. Pronunciation practice so she'll stop saying Pus in Boots? Check.

Evelyn: Fairy costume? Check. Precious, fairy-like good looks? Check. Self deprecating smile so no one realizes I secretly take full credit for those good looks? Check.

Michael: Pumpkin costume? Check. Remembering why I've never had a child wear a pumpkin costume? Check (bad preschool memory involving a stuck costume and a desperate need to urinate). 2nd guessing the pumpkin costume? Check. Remembering my issues should not come before my desire to make my children happy with the costume they choose to wear? Check. Pumpkin costume/newfound humility? Check.

Of course the kids' costumes are not the only ones ready for the big day. I put the finishing touches on a rather spectacular costume of my own. I'm one of those moms who dresses up with the kids every year. If you're not one of those moms, I just have to say I don't really understand you. I like you, because you have enough good taste to read The Mother Load, but I don't understand you.

I mean, think about it. All year long, you're "MOMINEEDFIVEDOLLARS!" or "MOMSHEHITME!" or "I'MTELLINGMOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!" One night a year, you get to be someone else...go incognito...hide behind a mom-free facade (while performing your mom-ly trick or treat duties, of course) and relax in your new identity. You're not going to grab that opportunity like it's the last bottle of fabric refresher on the store shelf after potty training week?

Since becoming a mom, I've been a firefighter, a toddler, a graduate, and a gypsy, among others. This year, I won't so much depart from reality as I will make that reality known to the world in a very enthusiastic way. I'm accompanying the kids trick or treating as "Weird Al Yankovic's Biggest Fan." There's not much to it, but it is a costume I'll never forget. The jury's still out on whether I'll tweak it a little here and there and turn it into "Weird Al Yankovic's Favorite Stalker." Either way, it's perfect. That mental list is almost completely satisfied.

Sarah: Weird Al Yankovic's Biggest Fan costume? Check. Life experience as Weird Al's biggest fan? Check. Life experience as Weird Al's stalker in case I decide to go that direction with the costume? Do the words, "Restraining order? What restraining order?" mean anything to you?


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Internet Mom

Published October 25, 2007

Pssst...Hey you. Yeah, you...with the disheveled hair, the tired face, and the mouse in your hand. I see you there, on the other side of that computer screen. I see you checking us out. You're thinking, "I should be doing ___________ right now..." And yet, here you are.

And why are you here? Because you, like me, are an Internet Mom. The Internet Mom, much like her counterparts in previous generations (the Quilting Bee Mom, the Tupperware Party Mom, and the much maligned Soccer Mom), is a mom who, craving the company and support of other moms, has found a unique way to connect. Our grandmothers bonded over needle and thread. We bond over broadband.

I've been a mom for the past 11 years and an Internet Mom for about the past 6. After giving birth to my youngest girl, I happened upon a message board for moms while nursing her in the middle of the night. There was a raging debate going about the best way to give birth, and like any self respecting homebirther, I happily joined the fray. Typing one-handed, I proceeded to ruffle feathers all over the United States, and the heady feeling of power was intoxicating. An Internet Mom was born.

I've settled down considerably over those 6 years. I'm much more likely to ruffle feathers with this column than anything else, but an Internet Mom I have remained. The heady feeling is still there, only now it's brought on by having so much knowledge at my fingertips 24 hours a day. You know that feeling you get when you finally remember where you've seen that actor before or you figure out that song lyric you couldn't quite place? Googling at 3 am and finding out for sure so you can actually sleep is way better! But there's more...

I can't get enough of tracking my checking account online, paying bills online, or ordering necessities online. The internet is the world's most perfect store. I can always find what I desperately need. A few months ago, I ordered a book I needed for school. A week ago, it was sheet music for the girls' choir I direct twice a week. Most recently, it was the "Weird Al Is My Homeboy" t-shirt I'm using as part of my Halloween costume (I say that as if I'm not actually wearing the shirt with love and pride as often as I possibly can).

I am also happy to report that there is no feeling quite like the giddy rush of telling a funny story and seeing an online friend respond with a hearty ROFL (Rolling On Floor Laughing). You don't get that kind of reaction in real life, let me tell you. The fact that said friend is most likely just having a quiet chuckle in her computer chair is beside the point. In that moment, you've just made someone stop, drop, and roll with laughter, even if on a figurative level. It's a beautiful thing.

So, you wonderful fellow Internet Mom, whether you're old hat at this kind of thing or you're a newby looking for direction and friendship, welcome to our corner of the web! We're glad you could make it, and we're looking forward to providing some fun and friendship while you're here. If you happen to ruffle a few feathers, that's okay too.

If you tell a funny story right after, all that rolling on the floor will smooth them right out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Motherhood Karma

Published October 21, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I have this story about my mom that I like to tell from time to time. My younger sister, Carla, and I lovingly refer to it as "the day Mom had a nervous breakdown over fish sticks." Just writing that has caused me to giggle uncontrollably for the past 15 minutes.

The story in a nutshell: Mom was having a bad day. We were having fish sticks. My dad, Carla, and I decided to amuse ourselves by first stealing fish sticks off of each other's plates and then tossing fish sticks across the table at each other. Mom's bad day was compounded by her annoyance at our behavior and she finally let out a very, very frustrated, "If I see one more fish stick fly through the air..." We considered that for about two seconds. With a mischievous look, my dad sent a fish stick sailing across the table. It smacked Mom squarely on the nose and landed on her plate. The rest is nervous breakdown history, and Carla and I have been telling the story, to uproarious laughter, ever since.

I thought about this last week when, after four hours of trying to get my daughters to clean their room, a mischievously dropped toy was enough to send me over the edge and make a little nervous breakdown history of my own. It was when I crossed the "someday, you'll have kids and they're going to be just like you," threshold (made it almost eleven years without saying that...give me a cookie) that I realized fish stick+toy=Karma. They've probably already started recounting the story to their friends, giggling uncontrollably each time.

Suddenly, I'm remembering every little thing I ever did and hoping the Motherhood Karma Monster will soon develop some kind of advanced memory loss. If I'm in for everything i gave my mom...well, let's just say I don't think I'm cut out for this.

What if I confess? Is there some form of Karmic absolution available for the truly penitent? I know I'm mixing religions here, but it's worth a shot, right?

-Mom, do you remember that day someone used your curling iron without permission, no one would confess, and you narrowed it down to Gina or me? That was me. Really sorry.

-Mom, when you told me you wanted me to wait and practice a little longer before getting my driver's license, I just had my friend, David, take me to the DMV.

-Mom, I intentionally swept the kitchen floor badly so you would get frustrated, come in and "demonstrate," and finish my chore for me.

-Mom, I was the second gunman on the grassy knoll. (Okay, that's not true, but didn't the thought of it being true make all that other stuff pale in comparison?)

Maybe what I'm trying to do is similar to a deathbed confession...too little, too late. Apparently, the time for producing obedient children happened during my own childhood, and I seriously mucked that up. Of course, if we think this through we'll realize I was only disobedient because MY mom was disobedient as a kid and needed some Karmic retribution of her own, so it's really not my fault at all.

I think my mom deserves a fish stick to the nose for that...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mama, don't bury me with the spuds.

Published October 14, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Shameless plug alert: Ladies, October 25th is the expected launch date of, a new Spectrum sponsored website created by moms, for moms in the Southern Utah area. As a committee member, I've had a hand, along with many talented and dynamic moms, in creating this truly wonderful place for local moms on the web. Check out the page on the launch date and stop by our booth at the What Women Want Expo next weekend!

Now that that's taken care of, we can get to the topic at hand. Perhaps it's better referred to as the topic at stomach, as it is food related. I use the term food loosely, however.

Earlier this year, I wrote a column detailing my final wishes...those very important things I'd like to have done when I leave this life (kicking and screaming, of course). If you'll recall, and more importantly, if you don't, I want my organs donated, my body donated to science, and then I'd like to be cremated and have my remains released from Angel's Landing in Zion National Park. I'm currently taking applications for the job of "Most Honored and Blessed Hiker." Who knows? It could be you!

I was going to leave my final wishes at that, but it occurred to me that after 12 years in this state, I've pretty much "settled" in Utah. In all likelihood, this will be the state in which I die. For the most part, that's not a bad thing, but there is one custom peculiar to this area that makes me want to drag my sick and dying body across any available border before I kick that proverbial bucket.

People...I'm talking about funeral potatoes.

Often served after a Mormon funeral, hence the name, funeral potatoes are diced or hash brown potatoes swimming in fat, covered in fat, drizzled with fat, and then baked in fat. Sometimes, they're topped with corn flakes (for balance, I guess). I've also heard them referred to as Yummy Potatoes, Good Potatoes, and Mormon Potatoes. I like to call them Massive Coronary in a Casserole Dish.

I am asking, nay, begging. Please, for the love of all things holy and cholesterol free, don't serve funeral potatoes at my funeral. I know I'm a member of the LDS church. I know that membership carries with it certain responsibilities and even more certain peculiarities. I know I'm supposed to be "in the world, but not of the world." Funeral potatoes are where I draw the line.

The truth is that I just don't like funeral potatoes. No offense is meant to people who love them, though I express my deepest concern for your health (really...have you seen your doctor lately?). While I know I won't actually be around to eat the meal lovingly prepared for my grieving family and friends, I'm not keen on having many of them follow me in death just moments after my memorial service, you know?

If I may be so bold, I have tentatively drawn up a suggested menu for the...uh...festivities. It's nothing fancy, in fact, it represents the simplicity and practicality of Sarah: spaghetti, garlic bread, and green salad. Jello salad is optional. I don't love it, but I don't have a big problem with it either, and I'm pretty sure it's a commandment that every Mormon function must include jello salad in order to be sanctified in the eyes of God. Far be it from me to plan a funeral God couldn't look upon with approval.

Of course, if funeral potatoes are required for sanctification, I'd rather take my chances.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Big MOVE!

Published October 7, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Before we begin this edition of The Mother Load, we'd like to ask my editor, Kathryn, to offer a word of prayer.

Is it me, or is it Sunday in here? Why, yes. I think it is Sunday in here! After nearly seven years on the pages of the Saturday Spectrum, I'm still a little shocked that my beautiful brainchild is here in the Sunday paper. I mean, this is big news, isn't it? It's the big paper, you know. It's bigger than all the other papers. I had a paper route when I was 11. I can totally vouch.

It's actually so big that I can't seem to share the news without being completely obnoxious. Sometimes, I giggle uncontrollably. Other times, I dance around like a toddler in line for the bathroom. The other morning, I actually burst out with, "Read The Mother to you at craaaaaazzzzzy, discount prices...only on SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAAAAAAY!" I may be a little excited. What do you think?

I got the email notifying me of the switch last week. On Saturday, I awoke and pictured thousands of Mother Load readers opening their papers and staring in consternation at the Southwest Living page, saying to their spouses or children or 25 cats (whichever the case may be), "Oh no! Where's my favorite column? What will I do without my Saturday morning routine???"

I hope most of those unfortunate people found The Mother Load, safe and sound, the following morning. I thought about making an official announcement in this particular Mother Load, but soon realized that the only people who would read it would be the people who have already figured this out. It would be like saying, "Attention Readers: You're reading right now. Don't know if you realized. Wanted you to know. Reading...that's what you're doing...right now. Good for you."

I've had a few people ask me why my column has moved to Sunday. To be honest, I'm not sure. Perhaps there was a space issue. Perhaps it conflicted with something else on the page. Perhaps it's just a great, big, ball of awesomeness and no other paper but Sunday's can fully reflect that awesomeness. It's a grand delusion, and those are the best kind. I think I'll keep it.

Whatever the reason, Sunday is now where you will find my voice. I really like it in here. The comics are all colorful and big. There's an insert full of TV listings (if I had cable, that would be very handy). And, seriously...have you SEEN the coupons? What's not to like? You get me, my good buddy, the Wizard of Id, and a buy one/get one free deal you wouldn't believe. I'm telling you, this is a match made in...

Okay, okay...let's not push our luck here.