Thursday, November 30, 2006


First of all, and apology to all who might have checked this blog, only to find pornography on the sidebar. No, it's not "What I'm Watching. . . " And a big thanks to Josh ( for checking my blog (thanks for checking in!), finding the porn, and giving me the benefit of the doubt that yes, it was indeed an unintentional byproduct of using a public domain photo. As the kids would say, "my bad." But that's not what I want to talk about.

Those of you who know me are thinking, "Why is Lisa blogging on a Thursday night?! She has a lot of shows to watch Thursday night. . . " Well my friends, it is because I have something really important to say and Tracey Morgan, Zach Braff, and Steve Carell will have to wait.

I just got back from watching Shakespeare's "The Tempest" at UVSC, conceived and birthed anew by the talented Christopher Clark and it is INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, AND BRILLIANT. I know I'm biased. Don't care. I want everyone I know to see this. I really can't emphasize how much I enjoyed it. It's unlike anything I've ever seen, and I will remind you all very snootily that I've seen a lot of theater. It's a Chris Clark production, so you can understand the Shakespearean language, and it's silly and tender and beautiful and different.

I am going to bring my boys to it (8 1/2 and almost 7). I think they'll understand it and get a kick out of it (there's farting in it), so bring your age appropriate kids, too. Show them how to love Shakespeare before they see it done wrong and think it's supposed to be removed and boring.

In conclusion, go see "The Tempest" at UVSC: there's incredible movement, masks, stunning costumes, and surprises. Lots of surprises. You can get tickets at the door (in the Black Box Theater), or at Campus Connection.

The end! (now what's that McDreamy up to now. . . )

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Momma's Stories

Watching tv makes me a better mom.

I don't mean that watching tv makes me a better mom than YOU, I mean that it makes me the best mom I can be. It's the escape and peace I hope to gain from watching perfectly timed tv in the privacy of my own home that can get me through the terrible two's, which have started 6 months early, "queen bee" issues with the 3 year-old, and hours of pretending to be interested in Pokemon. And, no, in case you were wondering, I don't want to catch them all.

I'm getting pretty tired of everybody blaming all of society's ills on television. They talk about all the crap that's on tv, but they don't mention the societal benefits tv offers like INFORMATION and COMMUNITY and a pathway to WORLD PEACE. Man, it's like we're living in the dark ages. When I lived in England, everyone in the entire country watched "Pop Idol" and "Big Brother." We all, no matter our differences in religion, race, or education, had something to talk about. Together. It's really beautiful if you stop and think about it.

But I don't really feel like justifying my need for tv. Some things are just too personal to talk about. My good friend, Eric D. supports me in my habit, and has really encouraged it more than anyone over the years. I really owe some of my best tv-watching hours to him. He hates it when people who don't watch tv SAY they don't watch tv, because it's not like they ever say it matter-of-factly. It's always in a judgmental tone, like they don't watch tv because they're doing something infinitely more important. Like, while you are wasting your time watching some random show, they're busy curing cancer or reading to the blind. And I will add that there's nothing "random" about my tv viewing.

So imagine my HORROR when my sister GINA was chosen to be a part of the Nielsen Rating's Family! "THE FAMILY!" This was a big blow to me. It's no secret that I heart tv, but, more importantly, I'm really, really good at it. I know how to pick 'em, and I'm a loyal viewer. For example, lots of people have given up on ER--which used to be the hot show, you know--but I haven't. Yes, it's a little depressing and unrealistic, but I keep watching. I picked "Arrested Development," "24," "Lost," and "The Office," and stopped watching "Six Degrees" and "Brothers and Sisters." I know a winner when I see it. Why didn't they choose ME?

I've tried to influence Gina, and thereby influence the world, by telling her what to "watch," but being the straight line in a twin cardigan set that she is, she doesn't even want me to MENTION a show's name for fear of tampering her family's response. (Imagine me yelling "Watch Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip! IT"S ON THE SUNSET STRIP!!!" while Gina's plugging her ears and running away from me humming "God Bless America"). We both worked at Gallup Polls (like everyone who ever lived in Lincoln, Nebraska), so we will both carry the responsibility of knowing what tampers a survey. It's information we'd like to forget, but we know we can't, and Gina won't pretend to forget (if I had a nickel. . . ).

So, speaking of tv, might I recommend watching an upcoming VH1 special featuring Kiefer Sutherland's documentary about a band he's "managing" entitled "I Trust You to Kill Me." OF COURSE one of the band members is my sister, Amanda's ex-boyfriend (why can't one of MY ex-boyfriends show up on "E-Extra"?!). I'll let you guess which one. If you do watch, and you buy me dinner, I might be persuaded to tell you an interesting story or two about said documentary. And of course, I'll be doing it to get some MUCH NEEDED attention.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Hey: I'm a GUEST BLOGGER on a really cool site: this week so CHECK IT OUT!

Gabby is an incredibly talented designer and all-around cool chic I've known for over a decade now. I check her blog everyday. She's done some amazing design work, and she is a really great mom, too, so you can imagine what the marriage of the two talents does for this site. . . I'm honored she asked me to contribute, and I hope you like it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

What I did on my summer vacation

I hadn't realized it had been so long since I've posted. A hot mama in a pink leather jacket on a Harley reminded me. I've got some excuses. Some of the lame ones include x'ing out numbers on my DT pool pass and making kool-aid for the neighborhood children. My really good excuses include my husband being gone for several weeks, a baby who refuses to walk and screams at me all day, and good intentions.

Most noteworthy, I've recently returned from a London extravaganza. It seems like a long time ago, though, now that "the routine" has been successfully re-mastered. I have all sorts of wonderful revelations spinning in my head-- life lessons, good intentions, and perspective. Trinkets I remember collecting before I was sleep deprived. But now they don't seem as applicable or interesting. Not as interesting as my new MEMORY FOAM! NASA Space Technology's greatest accomplishment. Space-shuttle? Old news. When has it cushioned me in a personalized cocoon of perfect comfort in temperature and form? I don't care if the United States Government spends 3 trillion dollars this year on the NASA program if it's coming up with results like this, it's money well spent.

So, instead of waxing philosophical, as I'm prone to ramble, I'll highlight a couple of things from my seven weeks alone and my ideal second honeymoon with Toph.

VIP/Champ/Came Through for Me When the Chips Were Down: Dear old DAD! While Topher was gone, for seven weeks, my Dad channeled his intense energy (read: type A) into fixing my house, the entire seven weeks. It's his way of de-stressing, which is a blog for another day. He fixed everything in my house from new shelves, fixed doors, and replaced my toilet seats with 12 inch cushiony soft seats (imagine Topher's surprise!). He was the real VIP of the trip. For the SEVEN weeks.

Status of the Children: As anticipated, the children were tired and over-sugared upon my return. And I did almost cry when I wrote out the check to the nanny (gulp--totally worth it, totally worth it, I'm going to go reread my journal, totally worth it). It was the first time I'd ever left my kids and it was really hard for me the two weeks before I left, but surprisingly refreshing while I was gone. Of course I missed them (especially being out of the country), but I'm so glad I went. Now I realize how much mothers judge each other on how often they leave their kids. It's not just the "working moms," but the shades of stay-at-home moms, too. I could tell a mother's attitude on "leaving your kids" in their one statement acknowledging my trip plans. VERY revealing. Insert your own personal experience with that bag of kittens -HERE-.

Highlights: Seeing Mary Poppins, Jane Eyre, Sunday in the Park. . ., Hayfever (starring Dame Judy!), seeing good, good friends like Adam, Lorraine, Jenny (and new baby!), Naomi, Claire, our Newton Abbot Ward family,. . . Sleeping in when I wanted, eating when I thought it was a good idea, going out everyday and every night. Seeing the sights, but not feeling rushed to fit "everything" in. Being with Topher uninterrupted.

What I ATE:
cucumber sandwiches
toasted scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam
orange slice cake
hot chocolate

butternut squash and pumpkin curry with cucumber salsa
organic lemon-aid (fizzy, of course)

cheese and onion pasty
watermelon and apple Tango

Chicken Korma
coconut rice
garlic nan bread

Wagamama's breaded chicken, rice, curry sauce delight

Real, European Coke ('a cola)

Three cheese, red onion, and pickle sandwich on harvest bread
cheese and onion crisps

assortment of delightful cheeses I can't spell, but shall not forget, and cream crackers

Mint areo bubbles
Galaxy minstrels
Chunky Kit Kat
Dark chocolate crisp medallions from Marks and Spencers
java cakes
cherry tartlets

When I returned, I had a lot of tivo to catch up on, and it did play a little joke on me and recorded some "Blooper" show or two, you know, just to joke around and welcome me back. It's like that. We have that kind of relationship. But it did start recording every episode of "That's So Raven," (I kid you not, Josh) and then I had to get a little stern and set down some ground rules on playing around.

And now we're back to the regular Utah summer stuff. And I was being totally serious about making Kool-aid for the neighborhood. I've already gone through a big bag of sugar. My son had a Kool-Aid stand with his friend, and held up a white-board that said, " KOOL-AID Please help out two kids who don't get a good allowance 25 CENTS!" They made 9 dollars. I had some inner turmoil with that: am I embarrassed that my son is basically pan-handling, or am I proud of him that he made his own money? They blew it all on fireworks, of course (8 year-olds. . . SO predictable!). At least I didn't have to pay for it. I'm still recovering from that nanny! THANKS SO MUCH! I'LL BE HERE ALL WEEK!!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lemme just hop up here on that Bandwagon. . .

7 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:

1. See all my kids in the temple.
2. Explore Italy with Topher.
3. Go on a cruise with a bunch of good friends.
4. Go to lots of plays with Topher.
5. Write a book.
6. Have my own exhibition in an art gallery.
7. Be a grandmother.

7 Things I Cannot Do:

1. The Presidential Fitness arm hang thing.
2. Hide my opinion when asked.
3. Stop Topher from snoring.
4. Not make fun of Gina when she says something funny.
5. Go into Target without buying something.
6. Not brag about what a good deal I got on something I bought on sale.
7. Sew.

7 Things That Attracted Me To My Spouse:

1. His sense of humor (never met anyone funnier)
2. His passion
3. His talent for writing
4. His talent (watching him act and play the piano)
5. His green Doc Martins
6. His spirituality/conviction/personal integrity
7. His eyes when he smiles and cute bum when he walks

7 Things I Say Often:

1. No Way!
2. Seriously? Seriously?
3. Shut. . .up. . .
4. I love you more!
5. Good Night!
6. Get out of town: Are you kidding me?!
7. Well, Mr. Kot--tear!

7 Books I Could Read Over and Over:
1. Fahrenheit 451
2. Franny and Zooey
3. I, Robot
4. Naked
5. Frankenstein
6. To Kill a Mockingbird
7. Simple Abundance

7 Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:

1. Elizabeth
2. Waiting for Guffman
3. Rushmore
4. Star Wars Trilogy
5. Better Off Dead
6. About a Boy
7. Sound of Music

7 People I Think Should Do "7":

1. cjanerun
2. realexecutive
3. realexecutive's wife
4. gina
5. auntie pandy
6. everydayiwritethebook
7. jollyporter

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cut to it

A friend recently asked me if she should start a family and when she does, what can she expect--what will it BE LIKE. I gave her my honest response in between stuffing my face with chips and dips in an rare moment without any having to swat tiny hands away from my gaping mouth. Perhaps it was the guacamole talking, but I was positive and reassuring. I'm a big advocate of baby-making (that one's for you, Toph!), but I'm not big on sharing my deepest, innermost tender thoughts on my family and personal journey of motherhood in a loud party among mostly strangers while listening to my husband read palms. I should note here that he read palms for over two hours. That should be a significant part of the story. I'm not sure why, but it should be. Maybe to reiterate that I had some time on my hands seeing as the line to play Guitar Hero was too long. I mean, I want to be a rock star too, but not if I have to stand in line my friend.

So my grandma send me Ginzu knives this week. The real ones ya seen on the tv. She ordered them years ago and never opened them, so great for me. My grandma's clearing stuff out. She'll be 90 next month and she's been getting things in order for her death for years. She doesn't want us to have to go in and clean out a bunch of junk. It's the Valentine way. Why would you leave a mess? WHY?!? But back to the knives: they CUT! I cut my finger because I didn't know that with good knives (read: real), you can't cut fruit in your hand. And also, they make cuts in the linoleum countertops. Who knew? I guess that I was really more of bending my food than actually cutting it. I've seen a whole new world and it is magical.

There's no way I can explain what it is like to be a mother. It is so many things at the same time and most of them are inexplicable. At least for me. I'm sure there's some Family Circle cartoon or Chicken Soup for the MOTHER'S Soul that's really hit it on the head. Does it have anything to do with knives? Could there be a metaphor in my special knife experience? I think so, but I'm too busy BEING AWESOME IN 2006 to draw any conclusions for you. I'm sure you moms will understand.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Lobster Reality Bites

Christopher and I have a new motto for 2006: Lowering the Bar. Our four kids and our four jobs and school and schedules have literally made us sick (which isn't so convenient on our awesome health plan). Writing this, I'm realizing I'm breaking one of my cardinal pet peeves which is complaining about how busy you are, but I don't care. We've decided to lower our standards so why shouldn't I start here? Anyway, who checks the closets to make sure the sheets are nicely folded, or cares is the toy-boxes are categorized by color or subject, or checks your grades from your Doctorate classes? Other than Robert Valentine, no one will know.

There's a great scene in the movie Love Actually where a stay-at-home mum, (played by Emma Thompson), whose brother is Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) laments that although she's incredibly satisfied with her chosen life, having such a famous and powerful brother puts her life into stark reality. Have I already written about this? She says something like "Today my brother ruled a country and I made a paper mache lobster head." That's kind of how I feel about having a famous brother, successful in the entertainment industry. A couple of days ago, I think to myself, James won his second Grammy, performed in front of millions, and I was feeling preeety good about getting the car vacuumed. But I stand by that clean car and all that goes with it. I've been riding on that for days (no pun intended, but I'll leave it, thank you)!

Don't I come from Generation X, anyway? I think that somewhere down the line I forgot my roots, where I came from. In the early 90's we didn't care about what those dumb Yuppies did. We had our music and our Doc Martins and our chokers (Melrose Place IS a really good show). We were flyin' the flannel and bein' awesome. Remember bein' awesome? These Gen Y-ers, or whatever these kids today are calling themselves (am I suddenly 70?), are all overachievers and they're boring! Christopher always complains about how grade greedy and uninteresting his students are at a certain university. They're so FO-cused that they're. . . FUN-less (that was bad, but I'll work on it later: I'm too busy BEING AWESOME!)

Join me in turning up FROM OHIO or Fishbone, dusting off those green Doc's and worn out flannel shirt, pulling out your Real Raisin, putting down that Jane Austen, picking up some Vonnegut or Kerouac, and lowering that bar. Seriously you guys, I'm not even going to fold the laundry when it's hot out of the dryer--I'm just going to let it sit there for a while: CRAZY!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I didn't mean to overhear, BUT. . .

Topher and I went on a date the other night and found ourselves in line at the Magleby's Fresh. And yes, yes it was. Topher and I have very interesting things to say to each other, especially when the children aren't around to interrupt us with their selfish demands for food and attention, and so our discussion of Brad and Angelina--I mean third-world debt --was getting preeetty intense. We heard, "When I was on my mission, when we came to the door, people wanted to know one of two things. . . " and OF COURSE Topher and I lifted our eyebrows and leaned in to hear better. I'm not going to pretend we don't eavesdrop on a regular basis, but admit it and add that we do it with running commentary.

The guy, very tall, very clean shaven, and clearly had come straight from the airport, was giving the performance of his lifetime. And to give him some credit, he was doing a fabulous job. He'll get an A in that public speaking course for sure. Either that, or his pesticide business will go through the roof. Through THE ROOF! We followed them in line, sat down, within earshot of them. I could look out the reflective window and see their reflection even though they were sitting behind me, and give Toph a play-by-play description of how the date was going. Come to find out it was a first date. He's just home from his mission which he loved. He had a nice mix of "interesting things that happened on my mission that happen to everyone" stories intended to entertain and impress. The stories where you're able to slip in a little something about what an honest, hardworking person you are--you know, for the story's sake.

She's only 17, " a youngin," she calls herself. She has long golden brown hair that looks like its been brushed 100 times each night (just like Marsha). She's quick to laugh and vocally confirm that she's fully following the conversation. This pleases him and he gains more and more confidence. He's obviously rehearsed some of the topics, but doesn't forget to ask about her. She confirms his musings on why she doesn't date a lot: boys are intimidated by her (Topher spits up a little Pepsi at this point and has to go for more napkins). She follows his lead and gives a detailed resume that would impress anyone. We learn that she never dates. That boys NEVER ask her out. And all her friends and her mom have told her time and time again that it's because she's so intimidating. It's obvious she's not going to lower her achievements, but move on the best she can. There's some hair flipping and gentle head nodding. These two are made for each other and we are happy they've found each other.

When their food comes, he insists on a prayer, to which she replies (a little too loudly--a clue that she's obviously taken off guard) that "that's so cool!" But her body language is telling us that she's obviously NOT comfortable--she's curled up in a little ball, squeezing herself so hard I'm convinced it will leave a dent in her soft, cream sweater. After they're hunched over together for a GOOD 5 minutes (someone's showing off. . . ) Topher is DYING, he's so embarrassed for her because she looks so uncomfortable. (At this point, Topher has to turn away and goes for more ketchup). We know it's over when we hear -again, a little too loudly- "NO, no, I don't mind AT ALL! That is SO COOL! Yeah, that's. . . cool!"

Then we looked at our watches and knew it was time to leave to catch our movie, but I was a little sad to go. I hate not knowing how things would turn out for these crazy kids.

I hate the idea of that uncomfortable date. It physically pained Topher. Maybe that's why things turned out so well with us--because we never had to go through that ritual. A few I did go through come to mind from way back when. The blind date who later said I reminded him of an ex-girlfriend, so that's why he ignored me. The date who ate block of lasagna by stabbing it in the middle with a fork and chewing on the ends. The blind date who was in his 30's and told me he never read a book in his life. . . that's a fun trip down memory lane. Who has the best story, I wonder. . . .

(*In other news, Gina got a Serger for Christmas and she can't stop talking about it. She goes to a Serger class with other middle-aged women who own Sergers (remember how Gina's younger than me? Yeah.), and she can't stop talking about it EVEN when I tell her not to ruin the idea of that class in my mind with words. Today Gina said, "But I say it in fabric, not in words." [yes you do, Gina, yes you do] )

Friday, January 06, 2006

Reach for the Stars!

Christopher is great at New Year's Resolutions. Me, not so much. He actually makes goals in each area of his life and accomplishes them. He's pretty out of control that way. He does more in one day than many do in a week. When people ask me what Topher "does for a living," I just say "stuff," because it's easier and most people who ask really don't want to know; they're just being polite. He has a real talent for Resolutions, you could say, much like his talent for reading palms and picking winners at the Oscars. They are magical gifts which he has magnified and used for the betterment of others.

My resolutions are less concrete and more ethereal like "Be the best I can be!" or "If I can dream it, I can do it!" or "Be more awesome!" (the general rule of thumb is they should look awesome on a t-shirt). The benefit of these resolutions is they're hard to pin down then it's easier to say they've been accomplished and they seem really important. In my defense, I'm concentrating on the needs of four other people. Our goals are basic (eat, poop, clean, repeat), but time consuming nonetheless.

My family, the Valentines, have extremely strong, loud opinions and I have certainly inherited that. We don't make New Year's Resolutions, but we SURE WISH OTHER PEOPLE WOULD! Here are topics that have been visited and revisited at our get togethers:

1. What you are reading.
2. What movies you've seen.
3. Where is the most painful place to get a zit and what lengths you've gone to to get rid of it.
4. Whose going to win at the Oscars.
5. What James should do with his fame/money.
6. What Amanda should do with her career.
7. What food we should eat.
8. Funny things Gina says/does.
9. Ways Lisa has exploited #8.
10. How unnaturally cute our kids are.
11. Hair removal.
12. Bicycling/running.
13. How soda is so bad for you but it SURE TASTES GREAT!

I realize that everyone is passionate about something. My problem is that I have a strong opinion about everything. I wish I could nod my head and say, "Hmmm, I don't know how I feel about that. . . " or be lukewarm and say, "Whatever! Is Lost a rerun tonight?" I'm not trying to say that I'm a brainiac or anything and read and watch the news all day. When I say I have an opinion about everything I mean EVERYTHING. Since this is a blog about me, here is a list of things that come to mind, in no particular order that pushes me up on my soapbox (I will withhold my ranting/chosen side/reasoning/research on the issue. We all love a little mystery, don't we?):

1. People who don't watch tv.
2. Big white houses on the hill.
3. Western Medicine and Doctors.
4. Gina's hair.
5. UVSC.
6. Milk.
7. Elements of a Good Marriage.
8. Decorating.
9. Measures of Success.
10. Air-freshener scents.

Of course this is a small, small sampling, which leads me to my New Year's Resolution: Be more discriminating. I am going to choose my battles better this year: what to get upset about and fight for, and what to let go. I may choose trivial matters (like acceptable forms of chocolate), I may choose a cause (like feline AIDS). . . but I'm sure this will make me MORE AWESOME IN 2006!