Archives: rich and beautiful


I get a message from Claire asking me to pick up a small flashlight on my way home. I write back asking what kind of small flashlight. She responds that she got a “cracker stuck in her gums.” I assume she’s drunk and seek clarification with, “What are you talking about?” She explains that a cracker got stuck in her gums and she can’t see well enough to take it out. Having never had a cracker get stuck anywhere for very long, I stop asking questions and follow orders.

On my way home, I stop at a little store and ask if they have tiny flashlights. The guy asks me what it’s for. Hmm…I can’t think of anything so I tell the truth, “to help my wife get a cracker out of her gums.” The guy looks at me weird and tells me he doesn’t think he has anything.

As it turns out, it wasn’t a cracker, but a tiny piece of the insoluble part of popcorn. It had embedded itself into her gums somehow. Claire threatens to just go to the dentist. Motivated by unneccessary dental bills, the sinking economy, and rising healthcare costs, I jab at it until it breaks free.

I think this is the weirdest post yet.

rich and beautiful

3 in NYC


All this reminiscing and comparing our New York baby experience with our Oregon baby experience reminded me of a common occurrence when Claire was pregnant with Con Man…

When Claire was finally starting to show, we would get mixed reactions from people on the street in New York. On the rare occasion that Claire and I were out by ourselves on a date night, we would have strangers get visibly excited and tell us how wonderful it is to have a child. Now, if the two of us were accompanied by Julia and Weston, strangers would give looks of pity because we obviously didn’t know where babies came from, anger because we were contributing to the overpopulation of Manhattan island, or plain disbelief. Luckily, Julia and Weston are real charmers, so it didn’t take long for people to grow to love our kids and understand why we keep having them.

drunken midgets rich and beautiful

Window of Opportunity

Having Conrad, Claire and I learned that there is a certain window of opportunity in which the anesthesiologist can give you an epidural. In the middle of the night, we realized it was time to go to the hospital. By the time we got there, Claire was breathing a little more heavily than usual and, by the time she was in the bed, Claire mentioned that she felt like she should push. We waited and I tried my best to comfort her, but we were both hoping everyone would hurry up with our epidural. When the anesthesiologist finally came in our room, I wanted to make sure he was well informed and mentioned Claire’s urge to push. The doctor stopped suddenly and said, “You shouldn’t have told me that.” I asked why and he explained that if she’s that close, they can’t give her an epidural. This is when Claire took charge and said, “I didn’t say that! I don’t feel like pushing!” Awkward. I looked at the doctor and tried to give him a look that conveyed what I was thinking, “Who are you going to believe? Why would I lie?” In case the look didn’t register, I discreetly nodded and mouthed, “Yes she did.” Probably fearing her wrath more than mine, the doctor ultimately decided to give Claire the epidural and we all went back to normal — talking, making jokes and enjoying the rest of the delivery.

Claire was more keenly aware of the window of opportunity when Harper decided to come. I had been reading all kinds of hippie propaganda about the benefits of natural child birth and was half tempted to try it — or have Claire try it, anyway. When we first got to the hospital, the nurses didn’t seem to be in any hurry. They told Claire they would get her some water to drink and asked if she would like anything else (maybe some blankets or a pillow or something). Claire must have sensed the window was closing because she replied with a polite, yet urgent, “I would love an epidural, please.” The nurse looked slightly confused but said something like, “OK, I’ll let them know.”

As it turned out, Harper was in much too much of a hurry for any epidural and Claire, after a quick psychological adjustment, made us all proud and proved that she was just as tough as any mom out there. When all was said and done, Claire never fully converted. When I asked if she could do it all over again, would she go natural, Claire thought for…well, she didn’t have to think about it at all actually. She said, “No,” or “Absolutely not,” or “Are you kidding?”…I’m not sure exactly which words she used, but the message was clear: if we could do it all again, we would have gotten to the hospital before the window of opportunity slammed shut.


drunken midgets Hardy Har Har-per rich and beautiful


We really did meet in third grade:

rich and beautiful

Planes, Trains and UHauls

The other day, Claire and I drove by the gas station where we stopped to fill up the UHaul after arriving in Portland. I remember sitting there and thinking how miraculous it was that we had made it. I wrote a bit about that trip in an earlier post, but, as we drove by that gas station, I realized how precarious each of our moves have been.

Moving to New York, we were too cheap to get a moving truck and didn’t particularly want to make the drive, so we decided we’d take everything on the plane with us. JetBlue, at the time, allowed each passenger to have three bags. Since Julia technically qualified, we planned on nine bags. We didn’t think about how we would move ten feet with two kids and nine pieces of luggage carefully packed so as not to exceed the weight limit.

When we got to the airport, this kid appeared from out of nowhere and threw our luggage on this rack. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies with this cart piled to the sky, threatening to tumble to the ground if we made any sudden movements. We were a sight to behold at JFK as well: two adults, two tiny kids, and a mountain of luggage.

Claire’s friend was waiting for us with a house-warming gift, looking as though she might hold the door for us and then we could go have some lunch or something — but quickly realized the situation and cleared her schedule for the day. We also had the most helpful porter ever. She was this sassy big-bosomed black lady whom we knew only as “Shortie”. It was as though angels had heard the family was moving and were scrambling to have people in place to prevent a catastrophe.

We dropped off the suitcases and I drove to New Jersey to pick up a bed for Julia and to stock up at Costco, thinking it was my last chance for cheap groceries. I don’t remember how many shopping carts I had, but I got as much as I thought would fit in the truck. The cashier stared at me trying to inch forward multiple shopping carts and could not comprehend the fact that I was not an executive member. If he had only seen us wheel nine suitcases into the airport, he would have known this was no business trip.

rich and beautiful

Trust. It’s the basis…


I’d like to think Claire trusts me with MOST things. When she sent me to Oregon to find a place to live, she sent my brother along to be sure I didn’t do anything…well, not bad necessarily…just weird. Her criteria was a good school district. Mine was a big tree or a funky space that I could make into my man cave. One of the places we looked at had about a zillion trees that were each about a zillion feet tall. If one of them fell, it would easily break the poor little house into a zillion pieces.

ps – The title of this post comes from the movie Some Kind of Wonderful.

Art rich and beautiful richie

One thing I miss about New York

I can honestly say I miss New York….or miss some things about it. The Northwest and I are far more compatible. But I had a good fling with the big city. Even taking into consideration all the museums, galleries, world attractions of various kinds, the thing I miss most is the sunset on the rickety old rooftop water towers.

I made some limited edition prints of the water towers drawing. Have a look here.

Art rich and beautiful richie

One graduates, one starts

(Stolen from the internet, used without permission)

My kids are the best ever! We went to the fairly crowded DMV this morning to get the car registered in Oregon and get me a new license, and it took about two hours, but the kids were GREAT! Ok, so Weston clicked on a wrong answer on the computer test (something about running a red light) for me… And Conrad spit his gum on the floor and popped it back in his mouth, eliciting groans from the folks nearby. And Julia at one point started wrassling Weston on the ground. But nobody gave me a dirty look (pitying, maybe, but that’s not the same thing), and the kids never got more than about ten feet away from me, and I passed the test after all and got the new plates and license! But I’m also very glad I don’t have to do that again anytime soon!!!

Julia started her afternoon kindergarten class on Wednesday. She spent her first day “just watching,” she told me. No talking to anyone but the teacher. No playing on the playground. Just watching. And she didn’t want to go back. But Thursday was better because we met a cute (also shy) little Vietnamese girl in her class who catches the bus at the same stop we do, and Julia took her hand and sat by her. When she got home, she seemed excited about school — and said that she followed this little girl around wherever she went. Today at the bus stop she was even joking around with the other little boy at our bus stop. Whew! We’re also trying to set up some individual playdates with the girls in the ward. There are a whole bevy of them who all started kindergarten this year, and I think Julia is a little overwhelmed by the whole group.

Weston has a little cry every time Julia drives away in her bus. But we’ve been enjoying our “alone” time together while Conrad naps. We played chess today — I let him beat me and now all I hear is “I’m the strongest and the cleverest!” Yeah, right. He had great sound effects, though, each time he killed one of my pieces — which was an incentive for me to set my defeat up nicely for him. Yesterday we read Prince Caspian. And the day before we did baseball, soccer, and sword-fighting! Whew!

The weather has been beautiful! And last Saturday we drove out through the Columbia River Gorge to see the second-largest waterfall in the country: Multnomah Falls. It was gorgeous! And Rich wasn’t even upset with me when we got there and discovered that our camera’s battery was dead… Sheesh…

Rich is enjoying his new job. The more he sees of this firm, the more he loves it! They don’t have a specific project lined up for him until October, so he just wanders around offering his services to anyone who needs him. He’s enjoyed hanging out with the computer guys and the model shop guys.

On Labor Day we got together with the other Elders’ Quorum families at a nearby park for a BBQ. Most of the parks and schools we’ve visited so far have wild blackberry bushes in the places where Utah would have scrub oak. So the kids loved wandering through, pricking their fingers, and staining their shirts and faces with blackberry juice. There are also a bunch of U-Pik (you pick) farms not far from here, so maybe we’ll have to give those a try. Well, we miss you and hope you are doing well with the new school year!

rich and beautiful

Cannon Beach

I was able to convince Claire that we should go to the beach by proposing the alternative of staying home and painting the kitchen. There was a big annual shindig happening at Seaside where we went last year, so we opted to follow our neighbors to Cannon Beach. We were lucky to finagle a parking spot almost immediately, which turned out to be pure luck. I heard some people grumbling about how the beach was never this full, but it didn’t bother us. Weston and Julia especially enjoyed the outing asking if we could go again tomorrow? No. The next day? We may have to turn this into a family tradition of sorts. If so, we will have to incorporate a trip to the Tillamook ice cream factory.

rich and beautiful

Rich the Truck Driver

When we went to pick up the moving truck, Claire and I were both shocked. I told her something to the effect of, “I don’t think I can drive that.” It looked like an eighteen-wheeler, and I was sure I needed special training on how to avoid driving over all the midget cars on the road. I asked what size move the truck was suited for and the lady recommended it for a 5-8 bedroom house. We looked at a size smaller, but concluded that all of our stuff from two moves would not fit. I got in and put my foot on the brake. It made a bizarre sound as though I were squishing the last breath out of some poor animal. Apparently, this is normal? Maybe the three carless years in New York had more of an effect on me than I realized. I started it up and had to resist the urge not to drive over rather than around the other cars in the parking lot. I narrowly avoided a few accidents on the way back to the in-laws’ and took out just about every corner.

As it turns out, the truck was full when we got through with it. The drive wasn’t bad at all because we drove during the day (It’s much harder on me once it gets dark). There was no wife to read Freddie and Fredericka to me, no CD player, no mP3 player, no Julia asking me what my favorite sea creature is, no Weston monologues, and no Conrad requesting that Claire constantly look at him……..just lots and lots of NPR to keep me company.

Claire seems to like the house so far — probably because we’ve heard a lot of good things about Julia’s school. Parts of the house are decorated in Classic Old Lady, so I had to do some painting before I could bear to hang up my precious “Think Different” posters. We have a lot of ideas, but most of them are lower on the priority totem pole than finding a commuter car for me (Any suggestions?) and getting the rest of our stuff out of boxes.

Our neighbors are super nice; however, we seem to be one of the younger couples in the hood. My list of reasons for moving to Oregon has expanded to include Tillamook Ice Cream. So the complete list is as follows:

1) Goonies was filmed here.

2) My best falafel experience happened in Portland.

3) Ice cream that rivals real gelato in Italy.

rich and beautiful