Saturday, December 24, 2016

The only Christmas post that matters

Apologies for the delay this year. The larger our family gets, the harder schedules become to coordinate. I know you've been holding your breath, very nearly perishing with anticipation of The Gingerbread House Showdown 2016 (all rights reserved).

So let's get to it, shall we? 

Below are photos all 9 houses with descriptions, and at the end of the post you will find the poll where you can cast your vote to determine this year's winner. (If you're on your phone, select "view web version") Vote with your heart, and remember to judge each structure on its creativity and execution, not on the quality of the photographs (which is especially bad this year).

Driving Range

This entry serves as an ode to the hours its creator has spent refining his/her golf game. Grab your clubs and perfect your swing!

Trailer Park

A collection of RVs, complete with community pool, that would make any mobile home dweller feel welcome.

Fish Tank

Pushing the limits of what we know as conventional art, this fish tank wows with mixed media techniques.

The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too 

A quick glance to at The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too transports the viewer back to a time when we were all singing "Wake me up before you go go" and yelling "Orange Mocha Frappuccino!" Who among us doesn't appreciate the nostalgia of films from yesteryear?

Tree House

The Swiss Family Robinson themselves envy this cozy cottage nestled in the branches of a sturdy sycamore.

Desert Island

Sure, not a single graham cracker was used in the construction of this castaway-esque scene, BUT EVERYTHING IS EDIBLE AND THOSE ARE THE RULES SO LEAVE ME ALONE I SPENT 3 HOURS MAKING IT. 


A surveyor atop this tower can nearly see round the world. It's a marvel of structural soundness and aesthetic sensibility.  

Chicken Coop

With this idyllic representation of sustainable living and farm to table culture, the chicken coop's creator shows us yet again that attention to detail us what sets some pieces apart from the rest. 

Ivy's House

At the risk of sounding biased, this is my personal favorite. The Swedish Fish roof really puts it over the top. 

Which confectionary creation deserves the championship title?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Rocking (the vote) Around The Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas, all.  

Ivy keeps telling me she wants a ballerina for Christmas, and I think she means an actual, human dancer. Not a tu-tued doll. Not a portrait of a sugar plum fairy.  A living, breathing, woman who will twirl on command when Ivy, as she describes it, "turns a key." So if anyone knows where I might procure an indentured servant of sorts, do let me know. Meanwhile, Ramona tries to consume pine needles, Ollie grows ever fatter from dropped Christmas cookies, I  resist the urge to drive to Target and walk the holiday aisles just one more time, and Stephen risks his life hanging our Christmas lights.

And, of course, we make gingerbread houses with my family. And you vote for your favorite. The winner of the poll will receive a large sum of money and the Republican presidential nomination. That's not true. But they will have a somewhat valid excuse to be completely insufferable and braggy for the next year until someone inevitably creates a more breathtaking and absurd sugar monstrosity. 

Until then, cast your vote for one of the following:

B. Moonscape

C. LDS Temple. This may or may not be the most sacrilegious entry to date.  

D. Carriage Ride

E. House of Ivy

F. Playground

G. The Three Little Pigs

Go ahead. Give em a click. Think long and hard before making your choice. The Morley Family hierarchy can only be determined once the masses have decided who among us can best wield a piping bag and box of grahams.

Once you know, vote below:

* I realize both "playground" and "pigs" are misspelled in the poll. Sorry. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart

Last night we came home to find our side door kicked in and our TV missing. Stephen called the police and we waited in the car for fifteen minutes until a squad car arrived. We informed the officer that we had not been through the house yet, so he called for backup and together they cleared the house, basement, garage and yard. Confident that we were safe from any violent intruders hiding in a corner somewhere, we walked inside to survey the damage. Our home was not in complete shambles, but things were off. A few of our drawers had been rifled through, Our mattress was moved, and our fridge was left open. Our side door was splintered into pieces and the door leading to the basement was pulled of its hinges. At first, the only thing we noticed missing was the TV, but as we looked through the closets we realized that my violin, my camera, Stephen's laptop, a Kindle, a Playstation, and our Apple TV were all missing, as well as my very inexpensive jewelry and peaches from the fridge. 

We're insured, and things are replaceable, so it's not the ultimate worst case scenario. Everyone is safe, nothing in the girls' rooms was touched, and Wendy the fish lived to swim another day. I'm just finding it difficult to not take the invasion personally. I feel completely disrespected. We are not wealthy people. We're fine, we're relatively comfortable, but we don't live a life of luxury. Our nice things are either items we saved for, or gifts that meant a lot. I remember the day I chose my violin with my mom and violin teacher. We spent hours in Summerhay's Music playing each violin until finding the one whose tone I liked best. I took that violin to Europe and Carnegie Hall. It was a significant purchase for my parents, and I treated my violin as my greatest treasure. When I was pregnant with Ivy, I wanted to buy a camera that would take really great baby pictures. I researched for weeks, called B&H photography multiple times, and asked for advice from every photographer I knew before deciding on my Canon T2I and made what felt like a significant purchase. I took pictures of my kids nearly every day with that camera. Ramona's newborn photos are on a memory card in the case. Stephen, a certifiable audiophile, has hundreds of hours of curated music on his laptop, as well as pictures from the past eight years. Stephen's brother just returned from his mission in Hong Kong, and he brought home some jade that I was going to wear as a necklace. It's gone. Our flashlight is gone. The nectarines and freaking orange juice from our fridge are gone.

I knew when we moved to the city that a burglary was likely, and maybe even an eventuality. I guess I had hoped that if things were taken from our home, it would be by a Jean Valjean-esque kind-hearted individual just trying to feed his (or her) family. But it appears that what we got was the work of some real jerks. They couldn't be bothered to bring their own thievery bags and instead used my pillowcase. They kicked the basement door in instead of simply unlocking it like civilized humans. They left our fridge door open and our milk spoiled. Is it too much to ask that they show just the smallest bit of common courtesy and at least let us have fresh dairy? 

Feelings of violation and material losses aside, there's a lot to be thankful for. The crime lab technician went the extra mile to check for prints and eventually captured some on windows. The sweet officer stayed with us much longer than necessary, chatting about anything and everything, which was just what we needed. Our neighbors are full of empathy and Jim across the street actually saw the car pull out of our driveway, and was able to provide a timeframe and a description of the vehicle. I had my laptop with me so I can still do my job and access our family photos. They left my sewing machine, all our clothes, and the food in our cupboards. Ivy doesn't even realize anything happened, and no one was hurt. It could have been so much worse. But I'm still feeling just a little sorry for myself. I really loved my camera and my violin and the jade from Hong Kong. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

But who's counting

Look. I know I should vacuum. I do. But I don't want to. 

How often would you say the average person vacuums? I mean, I know I'm probably way below average, I'm just wondering how much below average. Like, should I be mildly embarrassed? Or absolutely ashamed? So there's a couple cheerios on the floor. That's not a huge deal, right? Okay, and there's maybe a rogue papery garlic peel here and there, but it's not like we have full blown garbage in the corners. I'm good, right? It can wait til tomorrow? Next week? 2019? Great! 

It rained the other day. So I dressed my daughters in matching outfits and made them sit for 700 photos.

Sometimes I treat my offspring as though they are American Girl dolls. Or a Bitty Baby and AG, respectively. Is it practical to own a raincoat for a 6-month old? No. But it is also not practical to own a complete $800 birthday set including goat for Kirsten the plastic toy. I feel like I didn't do a great job connecting those two thoughts. I guess I can't explain how a raincoat for a baby is like being a part of the magical AG universe. It just is. Trust me.

I didn't have Kirsten though. I had Molly. I feel like I am Molly in every way but appearance. And actually one of the most confusing things about my existence is my blond hair and good vision. My spirit animal is a surly brunette who is completely blind without her bifocals. The problem is that I look like Kit, so people expect my disposition to be sunny, and then they start talking to me and think, "Wow. This girl is a total Molly. Refuse to eat your sweet potatoes much?" It's confusing for new friends, which is maybe why my list of friends is short. Or maybe my list of friends is short because I'm the kind of person who not only attributes her identity crisis to looking like the wrong Mattel. Inc. product, but then goes on to write an entire paragraph about it.

Anyway. My children. I dress them up like play things and take a bunch of pictures and pretend this blog is one of those cute blogs for just a minute but then remember that it's definitely been over a week since I last vacuumed so really, my blog could never be one of those cute blogs. It's fine. What I lack in clean floors I make up for with cute kids. Is it okay to call your own kids cute? I feel like you have two choices on the internet. You can make your kids full Pinterest hipster princesses, or write a series of profane posts complaining about the beings you birthed. But  as parents aren't we all kind of somewhere in the middle? We have our good days and our bad. Yesterday, after a full day of whining from my firstborn, I said to Stephen, "Preschool cannot start soon enough." But today she's bringing toys to her sister and dancing like a ballerina and making me a play-doh birthday cake. It's cute. And oh man, Ramona. She's everything I want in a baby. She's chubby and smiley and a good sleeper and I just really worry about what lies in store for her teen years because there's no way she'll be this easy forever. She's cute. My kids are cute. I said it. Sue me.

Well this has been fun. But I'd better go vacuum, because it's been maybe two weeks. Maybe more. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

My not so lovely lump is gone.

Sweatshirt: Datwyler Disneyland Family Reunion 2014 / Shorts: My dad / T-shirt: Target 2009 / 
Boot: Cottonwood Surgery Center / Hair: Bath to Pillow

I didn't die. I did have a minor melt-down pre-surgery when the nurse looked at me and asked, "Are you nervous?" and I started crying. But then the anesthesiologist administered some of that sweet, sweet, liquid courage and I was down for anything, including total leg amputation if necessary. I sort of remember being wheeled into the operating room and then all of the sudden I was waking up in the recovery area where Stephen was waiting. He said that the surgeon already sent a sample to pathology and the tumor was not cancer. Phew.

I spent the last week in percocet comas. That stuff does not mess around. I take one pill and I'm zonked within the hour. It's great. Not for supervising children, though, which is why I had an army of relatives taking shifts playing with Ivy and Ramona while I faded in and out of naps. I think my kids had the best week of their lives.

Things are getting somewhat back to normal now. I'm still shuffling around in the robot boot, making dressing and bathing somewhat of a challenge, and I get uncomfortable standing for too long, but the worst is definitely over, and I'm moving on with my life sans golf-ball in foot.

I finally worked up the courage to look a photo of the operation. It was gross. So gross. But also kind of remarkable. I'm amazed that there are people who spend years of their lives learning how to properly slice someone open then sew them back up again without killing them in the process. I'm so glad those people exist. I'm so glad I'm not one of them.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I was comforted by your comments. I realize it's a little silly to get so worked up over a dumb foot surgery, but I really was nervous and you really did make me feel better. You guys are the best.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My not so lovely lumps continued

Actually it is. A nerve sheath tumor, to be precise about it. I've been assured by both the radiologist and the podiatrist that the chances of the tumor being malignant or aggressive are very small, but the diagnosis still sent me into a minor tailspin yesterday. Partly because, well, I have a tumor, and partly because it means I definitely have to have an operation. On Monday. But it's same day surgery, I've got myself a prescription for plenty of painkillers, babysitters lined up, and a good book. Oh, let's be honest. I won't read. I'll binge watch all the shows. So recovery probably won't be that bad. That won't stop me from complaining, obviously, but it could be so much worse. I can walk around within the first week, and I can run again after four. 

The good news is that I get to wear this sexy little number around town:

so my fashion blog will probably really take off. Finally.

I'm nervous about something going wrong with the anesthesia. I'm worried that the surgery will have complications. I'm scared that pathology might find scary cells. But I don't think any of those things are likely, and as annoying as all of this is going to be, at least it will be over with soon and I can bid farewell to the malformed life. Well that's not entirely true because I hit my head on the countertop yesterday and now I have a black goose egg right above my left eye and it might never go away. At least my foot will be normal. ish.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My not so lovely lumps

I had an MRI this morning. 

I've had a bump on my ankle for the last couple years. When I first noticed it, I panicked like any good hypochondriac and made an instacare appointment. The doctor at the clinic, who was at the end of his shift on a Friday night and seemed annoyed that I was there, told me it wasn't cancer, he didn't really know what it was, but I shouldn't worry about it. So I didn't worry about it. I lived with what looked like a severe cankle and waited for the bump to disappear. It never did, but I had bigger medical fish to fry (childbirth) so I kind of just ignored it. But then over the last month, while trying and failing to get back into running (see previous post), my left foot has felt just awful. And looked awful. And there's nothing like pain and vanity to finally get me in to see a specialist. 

My google research had led me to believe I was dealing with a ganglion cyst. Kind of gross, but not a big deal. I just needed to find someone who could drain it. I went to an orthopedic podiatrist. "It's been there for how long?," the resident who saw me first asked rather condescendingly. I explained the instacare diagnosis, or rather lack thereof, and tried to convey how not a big deal this whole thing was. The resident grabbed the doctor, who brought in an ultrasound machine. It was around then that things started to feel kind of big dealish. "It's so big," the doctor kept saying while examining the ultrasound monitor, but then decided I was right, it was a cyst. "TOLD YOU!" I almost yelled at the resident, proud that my self-diagnosis was so accurate. Except it wasn't. Because when the doctor started to drain my malformation, he found blood. "You're going to need and MRI and I definitely want to operate," he told me. 

Say what?

I realize there's nothing more obnoxious than someone who constantly tells you how busy they are. But listen. I'm busy. I have a little kid and a nursing baby and a job and a yard that needs a lot of attention. I don't have time for surgery, and I really don't have time for recovery. Plus, operations really freak me out. More specifically, anesthesia frightens me deeply. But so does a growth that three separate professionals have been unable to identify. The doctor was careful to assure me that the chances of this being anything really nasty are extremely slim. But just in case I'm that rare, unlucky statistical outlier, he'd like to remove the mass as soon as possible. First though, I needed the MRI, which is why I got to wear these hospital shorts today:

I guess I didn't really know what an MRI was, and kind of still don't, so I was surprised when the tech asked me to change, told me the exam would take about an hour, and instructed me to pump and dump for the next day. I wanted to ask what exactly was going to be in me that I didn't want to feed my baby, but then decided I'd rather not know. 

Anyway, it was a small MRI room with this giant, beige machine that looked like a tunnel of misery. I laid on the table and looked at the ceiling where someone, probably with good intentions, had installed panels with photos of a bright blue sky and wispy clouds. "If this thing turns out to be malignant, at least you have angelic flight through the heavens to look forward to," the panels seemed to mock. "The machine is motion sensitive, so don't move your foot," the tech said and my foot immediately started twitching. The table moved forward and the machine turned on. Have you ever heard an MRI machine? Probably not because in every movie and TV show an MRI sequence is accompanied by a haunting melody, something sad and minor, and it continues to play during the scene where the patient sits across from a doctor sitting at a mahogany desk in a white lab coat with a concerned look on his face making hand gestures at the patient who has started to cry.

In reality, the machine is loud. It yells, "Deeep. Deeep. Deeep. WAAAAAAAAAAAA. WAAAAAAAAAAAA," over and over. For an hour. You have to wear ear plugs. And all you can do is lay(lie?) and stare at the artificial sky and think. Think about not moving your foot. Did you just move your foot? You totally did. This is going to take all day if you keep twitching. STOP TWITCHING. Think about something else. Like about all those sad movies wherein patients get MRIs before imminent death. But your life is not a movie. People get MRIs all the time. They just don't write books or make films about the people who are totally fine and sometimes get weird bumps on their ankles that are removed in same-day surgery. People who are going to be just fine don't make interesting art. You're boring and you're going to be fine. 

The exam ended, and I wanted to ask the tech if she saw anything weird. But even if she did she couldn't tell me. Because if she gave me wrong information I could sue her for a week's worth of worrying or whatever my case may be. I'm married to an attorney. I get it. But I searched her face for clues that she might be hiding something. She looked normal enough. I'll see my doctor again on Thursday and he will have an official diagnosis, I guess. I'll either have surgery right away if it's something scary, or I'll have surgery a little later if it's something that can wait. The operation will be an inconvenience and a little terrifying, but it will be fine. Because I'm boring and my life is not a sad book or a dramatic movie and for that, I am glad.