Sunday, December 7, 2014

Of Fading Bloggivation, Ceramic Cat Heads, Grandkid-o-Rama, Catch Me If You're Fabulous, and Apple Education

So yeah, it's been a while since my last post. Not to be a Wee Whiny Winky, but I think I'm starting to losing my motivation for blogging ("bloggivation"). I'm not sure if anyone actually reads this thing anymore. It's been more than a year since anyone has commented, even when I've shared big news (like that we're adopting again). But that seems to be the general trend, as far as these personal blogs go. I guess it's just a sign of changing technology. And general laziness. Because hey, why spend an hour telling everyone about your life in blog form when you can just send a 144-character Twit? Oh yeah, because nobody can read those freaking things, that's why. ("@squiggybunderson adopting again #adoptionRULEZZZ frg.fz/s43dwewjkf") But oh well. For now I'll keep posting to this thing as occasion permits, at least for family's sake.

For Halloween, Ting-Ting was Cookie Monster, I was a cookie, and Alyssa was Prairie Dawn. Which went pretty well, except that very few people knew who "Prairie Dawn" was. (She's the pink-faced Muppet girl who does the "Letter of the Day" sketch with Cookie Monster. Duh, come on.) But it was a pretty adorable costume. As for Ting-Ting. her Cookie Monster costume won her a ceramic cat-head thing filled with goodies at Uncle Slim and Aunt Jujie's Halloween party. Attagirl, Tingy. Keep milking that cuteness for all its worth and someday those ceramic cat-heads will become shiny nuggets of MBA graduates asking you on dates. 

For Thanksgiving we went to St. George, as did Slim and Jujie and Baby Mac AND Sheridan and Bethlehem and their kids, making this pretty much the first time ever that all of the grandkids were together under one roof. (Plus two dogs.) So insanity aside, and the fact that about half of us got the flu at some point or another, that was fun for Nai-Nai and Ye-Ye, I guess. We didn't do a whole lot of non-Thanksgiving-feast-related activities, aside from going to Target and Orange Peel (because you KNOW those places don't exist in the Salt Lake area) and playing a rousing game of Memory Madness with Jujie and Nai-Nai, who I think at several points was probably contemplating stuffing next year's turkey with me. Bar mitzvah cake! Classic.         

Can't rightly recall much else of note. We finally finished out our Hale Center Theater season. Sniff sniff. All excellent shows, except for the last one, Catch Me If You Can: The Musical. It had its good moments, to be sure, but all of those moments were the scenes ripped directly from the movie. As for the rest, it was like somebody was watching the movie and said to himself, "Well, the story is good, but it could use some jazzing up in the form of flashy Glee-style gay dance numbers." Also, the guy they had in the lead role came off not so much as a bright young man battling his inner demons, but as the host of a 1980s Nickelodeon game show. Maybe that's what they were going for. 

Oh, and Ting-Ting is in preschool now. I don't really know much of what happens in there. I just know they spent an entire day learning about apples. Yeah. Apples. Well, as long as they're not spending the whole time watching "The Love Boat," I guess I can't complain too much.


No, this was not a Halloween costume. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Of Stairs-Despising Geniuses, Rhythmic Chinese Toddlers, Wanton Camera Destruction, Supervolcano Nightmares, Solar-Powered Family Vacations, and Hot Water-Skiing Champion Wives

Hidily-ho blogareenos! It's me, Ben. Remember me? That guy who used to blog occasionally? Well, I'm back, reporting to you live from...get ready...the same house we've lived in for the past 5.5 years. Yeah, we never ended up moving, unless you count into Alyssa's parents' basement for three months to keep the house clean for prospective buyers. Alas, they never took the bait. Probably they discovered the rain gutter I shoved under the back porch after we couldn't get it reattached to the roof. Actually, the biggest turn-off for buyers was (seriously) the fact that the house had "too many stairs." Really. They could not tell this from the photos and the fact that the description of the house said "Tri-level." Sigh. If these are the kind of people running the world today, humanity is doomed.  

Anyway, we might have tried longer to sell the house, but we ran into a small conflict. By which I mean, a 2-year-old conflict with excellent rhythm currently living in an orphanage in Shan Wei City, China. If you haven't picked up on what I'm referring to here, here is a photo that might shed some light on the subject:

Yeah, we're adopting again. I think the monkey pajamas pretty much seal the deal for us. Her Chinese name is "Shan Wei Xing," but we're planning to call her "Delaina Shanwei Green." She turned two on August 16th, so she's almost exactly two years younger than Ting-Ting. We're moving along in the adoption process but haven't done our home study yet, which is the whole reason we decided not to move (since you need to have a...whaddaya call those things...oh yeah, a order to have a home study).

It being four months since my last post, plenty has happened in the meantime. Two family vacations, for starters, one to Yellowstone with Alyssa's family and one to Bear Lake with mine. The Yellowstone trip boasted such life-altering experiences as me destroying our camera by taking a swim in a river with it in my pocket, as well as almost dying in said river when we decided to float down a hundred-yard stretch of it without life jackets because some guys told us to. Seriously. We also saw about half a million bison, a bear, mountain sheep, and a freaking moose and its baby, which were just chilling on an island we passed as we were rafting; sadly, everyone on our trip with a (functional) camera was in the other raft, and by the time they reached the island, the moose were gone Johnson, as my dad would say because he's my dad. On top of all that, we saw and smelled enough geothermal wonders to give us all supervolcano nightmares for the rest of our days. Yay!

For the Bear Lake trip, we stayed in a solar-powered cottage belonging to a definite "live off the land"-type dude who raises goats, rabbits, and 150 chickens (you never really realize how bad chickens smell until you're staring down 150 of them and the wind picks up) and uses the Mittleider gardening method to produce goji berries, whatever those are. You know, the kind of guy who looks Mother Nature square in the eye and then gives her a wedgie. Unsurprisingly, this dude and my dad became best chums. As for our activities in Bear Lake, we spent a few days doing boat-type stuff like kayaking and, umm, boating. Alyssa tried water-skiing for the first time and got up on her sixth try and actually stayed up. Go Sweetcheeks go. I tried it again myself for the first time since The Incident 15 years ago (if you don't know about The Incident, don't worry about it), but the skis kept getting sucked right off my feet so I gave up after about three tries. Baby steps, Beeners, baby steps. As for Ting-Ting, she made her claim to fame by driving the boat. Okay, just steering, but it was honestly quite impressive. We also visited Minnetonka Cave, enjoyed lovely raspberry shakes, and played a game that was pretty much like Apples 2 Apples if it had been designed by Nazi perverts. But my mom played too so I don't feel too bad. That's the general rule for these kinds of things.

I am sure plenty of other happenings happened of late, but, at the moment, I don't care. So here's some pictures of Yellowstone, taken by the lovely Laura and Eric on account of the lovely Ben and Alyssa didn't have a (functional) camera for the majority of the trip. (Bear Lake pictures coming soon, I hope.)

By the way I just realized this is my 100th blog post. So Happy Blogday to all o' dang yall. May we all live to enjoy 100 more. (Which may not be until I'm in my sixties, considering how long it's been taking me to get around to writing these things.)           

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Of Selling Our House, Skills Not So Highly in Demand, and Rollicking Good Entertainment

So...we're moving. Surprise! Happy birthday, Mr. President! We've decided to sell our humble abode and move southward, closer to my work, probably Lehi-ish. The reasons are manyfold--spending less on gas, getting Tingers into a school with a Chinese immersion program, really hating our front stairs, etc. Actually, aside from the stairs, I now find myself in the strange situation of kind do you say...LIKING the house. I remember five years ago when we were first shown inside the house, with its walls painted pink and its rotting floorboards from where the toilet was leaking and its carpeting that looked like crazed teenagers drenched in motor oil had been break-dancing on it and the ugly window seat in the living room and the fireplace in the family room that took up an entire wall (our PROJECTOR wall, if you can imagine the nerve) and all of the little signs of the previous owner's insanity, such as the desk lamp installed next to the shower head in the hallway bathroom and the back porch supported by car jacks and the towel rod attached to the siding. I remember leaving, and Alyssa asking me what I thought, and I remember me saying something typically Benlike, something along the lines of "'s kind of a manure pit." We bought it anyway. Alyssa's idea. Over the next few weeks we fixed it up pretty well, considering all of the aforementioned. New paint, new carpet, new tile, window seat and fireplace ripped out, etc. Beyond all odds, we actually made it livable. I wish now I'd spent more time enjoying it and less time complaining. Anyway, we've spent the last few weeks fixing up the joint so it's show-ready the day after tomorrow. Alyssa's family has been helping a lot. Last Friday evening we moved out and into Alyssa's parents house so it stays as untouched and pristine as Mother Nature intended.  

Other than that, I can't think of a lot that's been going on of late. Last night we had dinner with a ward family, the Sanders, which I had "won" in our recent ward service auction. That's where everyone donates acts of service, and you get to bid for them. Alyssa donated making potstickers and bread and washing someone's windows, and I donated pretty much the only thing I'm good at besides writing blog entries rife with wit and ingenious socio-political commentary--editing a document. Unfortunately it turned out to be one of the lowest bidding items in the auction, and when it was finally purchased, it was by a seven-year-old girl who's not even in our ward. Yeah, I don't know what kind of document a seven-year-old girl needs editing services for, either. Ten-word book report? Letter to whichever heartthrob celebrity bonehead is the current flavor of the week? I don't know. Anyway, we also went to Arsenic and Old Lace at Hale Center Theater a few days ago, and a rollicking good time was had. Yeah. You heard me. "Rollicking." Now that's a word I definitely need to start using more often in conversation.                              

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Of Smooching Mother Nature Right On the Lips, Storming Logan One Food Outlet at a Time, Surviving Giant Killer Death Sharks of Doom, and...umm...Easter

Happy Earth Day to one and all dang y'all. I actually didn't even know it was Earth Day until it was too late for me to paint my bottom green or do whatever the heck it is hippies do to save the planet. Luckily Ting-Ting, who has a kind of "sixth sense" for these things, kept that radical, good vibrationy Earth Day spirit alive by dumping a bucket of dirt all over our porch and then sitting in it. Hooray! The Earth is saved once more! But for HOW LONG? 

Okay. Stuff that's happened. Well, for starters, last month we went to Logan with the intention of visiting the American West Heritage Center so we could milk cows, churn butter, start fires without matches, throw tomahawks, etc. You know, just to get Ting-Ting acquainted with those kinds of challenges so she's ready when she goes on The Amazing Race 56 with her boyfriend, John Willard Marriott IV. Well, wasn't my face red when they told us the "Historic Daily Adventures" didn't even start until JUNE. But hey, we could look at some really far-off horses through the glass door at the back of the building or some lamish mountain man stuff in the lobby. But we showed `em. We had fun anyways, without them. That's right. We went to the Pepperidge Farm outlet and got some COOKIES. Then we went to the meat outlet and got some MEAT. Then we went to Gossner's and got GLOWERED AT BY THE EMPLOYEES. Okay, I kid, they were actually comparatively pleasant this time. Maybe they read this thing. Anyway, we also went to the USU campus so we could enjoy some Aggie ice cream and also buy some much-needed merch, such as some decals for my car, a Big Blue keychain for Alyssa, and, for Ting-Ting, one of those cone thingies you take to football games so the ref can better hear you when you yell helpful comments such as that he's blind. Yay! 

Aside from the Logan trip, we also attended another JACL (Japanese-American Citizen League) fundraiser at which yours truly netted himself a bottle of Karl Malone's Gator Sauce; visited the Dinosaur Park in Ogden; and went to the new aquarium in Sandy. Said aquarium was missing half of its animals (they still hadn't arrived from the old aquarium), including renowned Ben favorites the electric eels and piranhas--plus I'm pretty sure roughly 75% of the huge stroller-owning parents in the metropolitan area and their kids were there (maybe the aquarium was offering a ten percent discount per stroller wheel)--but good times were had, and Ting-Ting didn't throw a fit until almost the end. She wasn't even scared by the giant killer death sharks. What a trooper. 

Easter was fine. We enjoyed some lovely creamed eggs courtesy of a certain Alyssa, and the choir performed two numbers in sacrament meeting, in which the accompanist, a certain Brother Green, only messed up like five or six times. Pfff. Nothing. Plus we had the usual Easter egg hunts on Saturday, at which Ting-Ting found enough candy to last her until NEXT Easter. Yeah, right. It'll probably be gone by Thursday.

Chakhokhbili (Georgian chicken stew) and khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread). Because there comes a time in a young man's life when he wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and realizes that if he doesn't make some Georgian food RIGHT NOW (even though he has never actually been anywhere near Georgia), his life as he knows it will have been a complete waste.

        You would not believe how long the line was for this bridge.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Of Toilet-Related Mysteries of Yesteryear, Chinese Shindies, Greens Aplenty, and Supping Upon Utah's Tangy Cultural Stew

So I had a startling revelation recently. For years now, I've been telling everybody about how when I was in preschool, my teacher's toddler daughter, Caramel, would sometimes drink from the toilet. I have vivid memories of my fellow preschoolers rushing back from the bathroom, announcing that Caramel was "drinking from the toilet again!" It wasn't until about January that I began to be bothered by a few itty-bitty problems with this story, which are as follows: 1) I never actually saw said Caramel drinking from the toilet. In fact, I don't have any visual memory of a "Caramel" at all. You would think I would have at least a vague recollection of a twinkly-eyed, boisterous little malarkey maker scampering around our play area and leading her mother on a merry chase, as one would expect from a two-year-old who guzzles toilet water. 2) What kind of name is "Caramel" for a little girl? Unless said little girl's parental unit happens to be Gwyneth Paltrow or Frank Zappa, of course. (Although it's still better than a lot of other names parents give girls nowadays, like "Emerson.") Anyway, if you've already figured out the solution to this mystery, congratulations. You only beat me by 30 years. If not, then I'll just come right out and tell you: I'm starting to think that maybe "Caramel" was a dog.

Okay, important stuff aside, here's what's happened during my two-month blogging hiatus. (These hiatuses--hiati?--always seems to hit in February for some reason.) On January 31, we celebrated Chinese New Year because, according to my dad, we in the Green family are now all officially part Chinese. And I'm not about to argue with the dang paterfamilias. Anyway, we put up some of those colored lanterns (the red one of which we had to take back to the store five times before we got one that worked) and had a shindy-digger at our house, wherein everybody brought a different Chinese food item and great merriment was had. I even designed a party game where you had to mold props out of Play-Do and get others on your team to guess who you were. I know, not very Chinese. But still a lot more fun than most of the "official" games I came across on Chinese New Year websites, such as (seriously) "Rock Paper Scissors." Oh, the laughs! The thrills! The suspense!  

Last Sunday, Nick and Julia blessed their baby in sacrament meeting, and pretty much the whole Green family was around for the occasion, minus Aunt Bethlehem and her and Sheridan's two kiddies. But Sheridan himself came up, and Ting-Ting attached to him like human Krazy Glue for pretty much the entire time he was around. (Children that age seem to have a sixth sense for which uncle will eventually be raking in the most money.) We hung with the family, played Lie-Brary and Smart Butt (not its real name), supped at Texas Roadhouse (most of us had steak or ribs, though Ting-Ting was pretty happy just eating peanuts out of the barrel), and attended a lovely post-sacrament meeting luncheon at Nick and Julia's apartment with roughly 30 other people. The fire code hung its head in shame that day, my friends. But t'was well worth the dangers of trampling and smoke inhalation, as so many luncheons are.

So we got season tickets for Hale Center Theater for the year, and in the past two months we've attended two of their six shows. The first, The Foreigner, was just as hilarious as I remember from high school, with the added bonus of not having what's-his-snotty-little-punkface that I always wanted to give a toilet swirlie to in the lead role. I remember going to that play, sitting next to Cherie Jones, whom I kind of had a thing for at the time, and every time the lead guy said something hilarious, I would refuse to laugh because it was what's-his-face saying it, and Cherie next to me would be laughing her head off, then she would look at me like I was putting oatmeal down my trousers and say "What's the matter, Ben? Don't you think it's FUNNY?" But now, 16 years later, I was free to laugh again. The second play was Les Miserables, which I'd seen twice before at Capitol Theater, but it was a lot different seeing it in a box theater and actually being able to distinguish the different characters. Kind of a whole new perspective. The cast did a pretty good job, although I was amused by their frequent and not always successful attempts to cut out the swear words, such as the unwholesome and highly frowned upon "butt." (Though they left the song "Lovely Ladies" in in its entirely.) Ah, gotta love them Utahans. Then just a few days ago we went to Much Ado About Nothing at the U with Grandma, and good times were once again had in abundance, once we actually caught on to what was going on. Right around intermission, I think. (For some strange reason, about half of the cast members were dressed in druid outfits.)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Of Grunion Spawning, First Christmases, Daredevil Daughters, Bumbling Homeowners, Kicking Some Ice, and Sinister Beards

Merry Christmas and happy Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Tet, Ramadan, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve, New Year, Fruitcake Toss Day, and birthday to Sheridan, Nick, McKell, Laura, Janessa, Helena, Tony, Grandma Thelda, Kass, and Rachel, and anything else I might have missed. I'm pretty sure there are at least, like, two more birthdays in there on Alyssa's side. Whew! Now that that's out of the way, we come to the real purpose for this blog entry--to salute the California grunion, a remarkable little fish that crawls out of the ocean to spawn. Oh wait, I mean, to talk about Christmas and such.

Christmas was a little more special than usual, for the reason that this was Ting-Ting's first Christmas where she actually knew what was going on, as opposed to last year, when she had only been in the country for three days and probably didn't understand why all these random nutjobs were showering her with gifts. She got to see Santa for the first time (which went about like you'd expect--it was like the Minnie Mouse incident all over again); got to help us decorate for Christmas; got to help pick out and wrap presents; got to help make cookies for Santa; got to learn about Baby Jesus; and got to be an angel in Alyssa's family's traditional Christmas Eve Nativity. (She was actually a shepherd in the Nativity last year but probably just assumed this was some sort of bizarre American initiation ritual, like the kind that frat boys do. Because you know that's the kind of thing Ting-Ting would be an expert on.) Also, Nai-Nai and Ye-Ye (my parents, for those who don't speak Chinese) spent Christmas morning with us, so that was pretty gnarly.

Aside from Christmas itself, we also...

  • Went sledding with Alyssa's family, using Ting-Ting's brand spanking new sled she got from Nai-Nai and Ye-Ye. Ting-Ting had a blast and must have gone down the run eight or nine times. She's a daredevil, that one. Next thing we know she'll probably be jumping into drainage ponds with mumbly bad seeds, like in that one movie with what's-her-face. 
  • Had a neighborhood "music night" at our house, wherein we invited over the neighbors and played music and enjoyed all manner of rot-your-teeth snacky goodness, and anyone who wanted to could perform. It actually went quite well, aside from that infamous moment in every young homeowner's life in which he tries to break icicles off of the Christmas lights over the front porch and winds up smashing one of the bulbs, leaving a two-foot long section of lights that doesn't light, and remains that way for the remainder of the holiday season, since he's too lazy to replace the bulb. Hurray!
  • Went to the "Ice Castles" thing in Midway, which was pretty way rad, like a cave made of ice. I half expected Arnold Schwarzenegger to jump out of nowhere and yell "Ice to see you!" And then shoot some people in the crotch, or something. 
  • Played "Harvey Pooter and the Deathly Death Curse of Death" again, this time with a whole new group of people (except for Brayden, who reprised his award-winning role of Harvey). This playing was more successful than the last, not only because I'd made some big script changes, but also because this group actually tried to solve the mystery, as opposed to the first group, who didn't really seem to care who the murderer was and made lame accusations like "Well, I think it was Bumblemore because he HAD A SINISTER BEARD." In fact, at least one of the players may have actually solved the mystery this time, were it not for me being so vomitously bad at elementary level arithmetic when I designed the most important clue. Yeah, don't ask.

Nai-Nai after having her hair done by Ting-Ting


You would not believe how much trouble it was to take this picture. But so, so worth it.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Of Mitten Hilarity, New Babies, Bang Suicide, Flying Gimlis, Three-Year-Old Dentist Freak-Outs, Scandalous Christmas Parties, and One-Year Ting-a-versaries

TODAY'S RANDOM RANT: Does anyone else find it really annoying when singers laugh as they're singing? And no, I'm not talking about laughter that's clearly an integral part of the song, e.g. "I love to laugh--Ha ha ha ha!" No, this is the seemingly random chuckling that usually seems to rear its ugly head in Barbra Streisand songs when she's wanting to take a stroll with you down Memory Lane. Barbra, do you honestly still think "warm woolen mittens" are funny, after all the times you've rehearsed this song?  Get a grip, woman. But who knows, maybe I'm wrong, maybe there's an inside "mittens joke" there I'm missing. Maybe when she was a kid somebody stuffed a pair of warm woolen mittens down the back of her gym shorts or something, and it still makes her blow milk out her nose to this very day. I suppose I shouldn't judge.

So quite a lot of blogworthy malarkey has gone down of late, it being the holiday season. Here is just a teensy smatterling:

  • Nick and Julia had their baby, Mackean. (I'm probably slaughtering the spelling there.) Go team go. To visit them in the hospital, Alyssa and I had to navigate a raging blizzferno uphill both ways wearing nothing but rags and shoeboxes on our feet. Okay, kidding about the rags and shoeboxes. But it was a pretty scary drive. Well worth it, though. Nick and Julia, you guys probably don't read this thing, but just in case, congrats to the both of you, and God bless. You're going to be great parents.
  • Thanksgiving was had. We went to my parents' house this year. Goooood dinner. Not too much else to say. Swam at the condo pool. Played with Ting-Ting at the playground across the street, which basically involved me and Ting-Ting dumping wood chips on each other's heads. (The joys of fatherhood.) Watched roughly an entire season of Merlin on Netflix. Enjoyed a rousing game of Bang! with the fam, in which I basically committed suicide by dueling Alyssa with no Bang cards in my possession. If you're not familiar with Bang!, just think back to your high school days and visualize the 90-pound astronomy club president sending the rugby captain a photo of himself making out with his (the rugby captain's) girlfriend, along with a note in which he challenges him to a wrestle-off. You'll get the picture.     
  • We went to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Thingymabobber (its real name, yes), which featured, among other gnarliness, that one organ guy who plays the organ playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" with his feet; renowned opera soprano Deborah Voigt serenading us with an uplifting tune glorifying the cold-blooded murder of birds; and John Rhys-Davies freaking flying around like he owned the place. If, God forbid, Alyssa were to die now, she would do so knowing her life was complete, because she SAW GIMLI FLY. 
  • Ting-Ting had her first dentist freak-out. Funny thing was, it wasn't even her in the hot seat, it was me. The moment I got in that chair, she started screaming, "Noooo! My baba!" and bawling her eyes out, apparently assuming I was done for, or at least about to be tortured by the sinister-looking guy in white with all of the pointy implements of death. (The torture won't happen for a few weeks, when I have to come back to get cavities filled. Hopefully Ting-Ting is not around when that happens...) Fortunately the dental assistants brought her back to show her what was going on, and she calmed down after that. Especially when one of them blew up a rubber glove to look like a COW. Now that I think about it, that would probably work on me too. A cow! Hyuk hyuk.
  • Alyssa and I went to my work Christmas party, the less of which said, the better. Suffice to say, the night's most memorable moment involved an employee's wife ditching her brassiere for $100. Ahem. Yeah. Maybe think about using that C-note to buy yourself some Christmas scruples, baby. There were other memorable moments, but I'm going to skip those because this blog strives to retain a PG-13 rating.
  • On December 11th we celebrated the first ever "Ting-Ting Day," the anniversary of our picking up Ting-Ting in China, by going out for...Vietnamese pho. All right, Greens, yeah. Way to embrace her culture by snarfing down the beloved national soup of another nation. But it was good, so I'm not going to lose any sleep.      
That's it for now. I'm sure there is stuff I'm missing, but frankly, I've been writing this thing for, like, three hours now. Bloggareenos, I bid you adieu.

Me in a Jack Skellington hat Alyssa made all by her l'il lonesome. Is it any wonder I love that girl?