Category Archives: Family

No Donuts (or is it doughnuts?)

It’s cold out there, my friends.

Now, I know many people are complaining and even shocked about the cold. Not me. It is winter after all, and in many places of the world, that means cold. It does not, incidentally, have anything to do with the earth moving away from the sun, as many of us were taught in school. Weather is actually affected by the tilt of the earth in relation to the sun. But, I’ll leave that discussion to my husband, the science teacher/microbiology major, and I’ll stick with silly anecdotes which may or may not be sprinkled with tidbits of wisdom, or at least humor. Maybe.

I grew up in Southern California but have spent my adult years in Utah, so if anyone gets to complain about the cold, it’s me. But I don’t. Oh sure, I may cry a little when I get into a cold car, or I may feel like swearing when my fingers fall off as I shovel the driveway. But that’s not complaining, exactly. I’m simply experiencing winter in my own, wimpy California girl way.

But I love it. I do. Honestly. I was the child who would look out the window at the palm tree in my front yard and wish it were a pine tree. I would sigh as I mowed the lawn in December, wishing it were covered in a blanket of white. I dreamed, nay, prayed for a white Christmas. And though I loved the Christmas days where my family would play baseball at the local park, a part of me longed to “be up north” if you will.

Now, this is not a post about winter and how lucky I am to actually have them now. Because, really, instead of mowing, we’re shoveling and instead of sweating, we’re freezing. But its’s aaalll good.

With all this snow we’ve been getting lately, I have been reminded of a little story from high school that makes me smile, and maybe it will make you smile, too.

It was February and I was a freshman sitting in the 6th and final period of the day–geometry with Mr. Herman. (“Are ya with?”) Anyway, it had been a cold day, and I don’t mean Southern California cold. It was cold enough that my hoodie that I wore from December to February and parts of March was actually not enough to keep me warm. Crazy. I know.

Mr. Herman had just slid one side of his white board over with his usual gusto to reveal the clean side on which he would teach us more about parallelograms, or tell a little joke about the word “assume,” when I looked out the window. Beautiful little flurries of white were falling from the sky! I love how snow has the ability to make people of all ages behave like three-year-olds. We–our class of fourteen to sixteen-year-olds–stood up and gasped and ooh-ed and ahh-ed. Poor Mr. Herman struggled to get us back in our seats, though his mustached mouth twitched as he fought back a smile.

At that moment, an announcement crackled over the PA system. “Students and teachers, school will be let out early today on account of the snow.” Cheers erupted and Mr. Herman could no longer hide his smile. We jammed our books and folders into our Jansports and began lining up at the door, waiting for our blessed release.

“All right, everyone. Have a fun day. But no donuts in the parking lot,” Mr. Herman said.

We all looked at each other in confusion. What was wrong with donuts in the parking lot? Did someone bring donuts? Where are these donuts?? Was there a better way to celebrate our early release from school than donuts in the parking lot??

We filed out of the classroom as Mr. Herman shook his head.

Alas, there were no donuts in the parking lot. A small part of me hoped that the school would provide us with some, or one of the kids might open their trunk to reveal of stash of donuts for just such an occasion. But it was not to be. I climbed onto the front bench seat of our huge gray suburban next to my older sister, who had her hands clenched at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel.

“Have you heard about donuts in the parking lot?” I asked her.

“You mean like food donuts, or when you spin your car around to make donuts in the snow?”

My cheeks burned and I looked out the window. “Well, yeah, the snow donuts.”

Thankfully, she left it at that and I spent the rest of the ride home sighing in relief that I hadn’t asked anyone else about the donuts in the parking lot. As soon as we got home, our California family turned on Christmas music, turned on “White Christmas,” and drank hot chocolate . . . without donuts.

Safety first.


Throwing my Voice

I had been at BYU for two whole years, and I still didn’t know what to major in. Which is actually a lie. I had known what I wanted to major in since my senior year in high school when I fell in love with Shakespeare and Greek tragedies and also Subway ham and cheese sandwiches that my friend would buy me as we studied for the AP test, but that’s another story for another day. But, when I got to college, I felt like I needed to do the dumb college thing and “explore” and waste time and money searching for my major I already knew I was going to major in.

I considered Psychology, History, French, Humanities, and, of course, English. I also toyed around with ASL, but I figured that my man-hands would be too much of a distraction. I even dabbled in Dance, but my feet couldn’t keep up with my head, and my head couldn’t keep up with my feet and it wasn’t pretty. Not pretty at all.

My sister talked me into taking one of those career assessment tests. So, we got our mini loaf of warm bread, smothered it with honey butter from the bakery in the Wilkinson Center and headed over to the counseling office.

I got all set up with the test, which was on a bubble sheet . . . no, like 50 (Five-Zero) bubble sheets. “How am I possibly supposed to know so much about myself?? Who am I?” I asked myself very existentialisty. But, I started in with my number two pencil, eager to get to know myself.

Deep. I know.

One of the questions was: Do you like to work outside? “Well,” I says to myself, I says, “I don’t want to sound like some pale hermit, so I’ll say Yes.” The truth was that I hated being out when it was too hot or too cold. Hot makes me tired and cold makes me cry. I preferred working in an air-conditioned cubicle, unless it was nice outside, but they didn’t have that option. So, Yes it was.

Another question was: Do you like working with people? “Well,” I said to myself, “I don’t want to sound like an anti-social weirdo, so I’ll answer yes, when I really prefer working alone.” Unless people who are in my group ACTUALLY help, but they didn’t have that option, either. So, Yes it was.

So far, I didn’t sound like the wimpy, weather-sensitive, loner I sometimes felt like in college. I sounded like a friendly person who always loved to be skipping outdoors, rain or shine, always willing to do whatever it took to work with people who bugged the crap out of me. Perfect!

Don’t worry. I knew what I was doing. I wanted to see what job the test would give me if I was the perfect version of myself, not necessarily myself.

And so it went. I answered page after page, feeling like I needed to ask someone for the answers I didn’t know about myself. I wondered if I should have studied first, taken some time to ponder and reflect before answering such deep questions, like: “What is your favorite color?”

Blue! No, yell . . . Ahhhhhh!

Finally, I was done. I turned in my test and the guy put it into the little scantron . . . scanner . . .thing, and I waited for my fate to be revealed. Would I be a doctor, a lawyer, an awkward dancer? The possibilities were endless.

He handed me my results, still warm from the printer and dripping with that wet-ink smell. I eagerly looked at my top career choice–the sum of all that I was or ever hoped to be. Are you ready? Are you on the edge of your seat? Oops. You fell off. I can wait. Good? Ok. Here it is.

A Ventriloquist.

I repeat.

A Ventriloquist.

I turned the paper over, looked at the other pages, and realized it wasn’t a joke. I looked over at the guy who wasn’t holding up a camera or anything. It was real. It was true. It was . . . hilarious. My sister and I fell on the ground laughing. WHY, oh WHY, would they even have ventriloquist as an option on a college career assessment exam?? (Nothing against ventriloquists. I’m actually quite in awe of them.) But, come on!!

Anyway, I finally decided on my previously-chosen major of English and actually graduated, though I had two babies by then. If I had not wasted any time, and trusted that I really did know myself well enough, and just chosen what I knew I loved, I would have been done literally two years earlier.


As the years have gone by, though, I have witnessed the prophetic nature of my top career choice of ventriloquism. Here are a few examples:

I can throw my voice one hundred yards across the cul-de-sac when I call my kids in for dinner.

When my kids are looking for me and I answer, “Yes!” from my bedroom upstairs, I hear them run downstairs to look for me in the basement, believing that my voice came from there instead.

I can tell them to be quiet and stop beating each other up at church through still and smiling lips, and no one around us would even know.

Recently, I have started speaking through the characters in my books to say the words I can’t or don’t say myself. And I don’t even need a shiny-faced, weird-looking puppet on my knee with floppy, straw-hair, and wide, creepy eyes to do it. (Again, nothing against ventriloquists. Just maybe their puppets.)

I hear my own words through the mouths of my children. Sometimes I’m mortified, sometimes I cry with joy. My thoughts are becoming their thoughts. My hopes their hopes. My happiness their happiness. My sadness their sadness. My worries their worries. My beliefs their beliefs. My attitude their attitude. My love their love.

My words. Their words.

I AM a ventriloquist.