Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Uncle Brent

When I think about Uncle Brent a few things come to mind - ASU sports, Easter breakfast, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, glasses and lots and lots of newspapers. He was and still is such a good man. My heart ached to find out that after being in the hospital for 7 weeks and countless complications, he passed away at the age of 66.

Uncle Brent, March 2008
Let me tell you a little bit about Uncle Brent. He was my Dad's closest brother. Brent and Phil (my Dad) were the two youngest children of Joseph and Elda Brown. They reminded me of two peas in a pod. We were lucky enough to live a few miles away from Uncle Brent and Aunt Marilyn and their 6 children. His youngest 3 daughters -Angela, Mandy and Bethany - are some of my closest cousins. It would be safe to say I practically lived at their home and I probably spent days of my life begging my mother to let me play with Mandy.

One of my favorite memories of Uncle Brent was when I was a freshman in college. He had taken a sabbatical to research for a book and had moved to D.C. for a year with Aunt Marilyn, Mandy and Bethany. I went to visit him with a few of my sisters. One night we were up late and by we, I mean - Mandy, Bethany, Misha and Nikki, all of the older people were asleep. At the time, we were in a very young and immature stage where we would make fun of wedding invitations. Okay - that hasn't stopped but at the time there was a particular invitation that had arrived at my parents house. I hadn't recognized the name but I had found the layout and pictures to be humorous. As I was describing the invitation, Mandy disappeared into the kitchen and returned with the very invitation I was describing!!!!! At this point we start screaming and laughing hysterically. At 2 o'clock in the morning. In a townhouse full of sleeping people.

That's when we heard the footsteps. They were the heavy footsteps of a Dad who had been pulled from sleep by a room full of giggling girls. We heard him coming down the stairs and I seriously fought the urge to run and hide like a 6 year old. WE WERE SO BUSTED. Uncle Brent appeared in a robe with his hair crazy messed up and his glasses on crooked. On another person it would have looked silly but Uncle Brent was not a person who looked foolish. He didn't have to holler to get his point across that we were being loud. He just reminded us that we were being loud and to quiet down. I can't remember what he said but it might be something my Dad often said, "What's the matter with you?"

Why do I love this story? Because he felt comfortable enough to discipline me like one of his kids. And because that is not the first time I was busted by Uncle Brent or my Dad. :)

I love him and his sweet family. I am grateful to have known him. I am grateful my husband had the chance to meet him and I am grateful he is no longer in pain. I am sure he is having a grand ole time with Grandma and Grandpa Brown and my Mom and I can't wait to see him again.

Brown Boys - my Dad, brother Johnny, cousin Morgan and Uncle Brent

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This most recent Mother's Day was one of the more pleasant ones recently in my memory. We spent it with Darren's Mom and it was wonderful to see him enjoying her company. I will upload pictures soon from the weekend. It was the first (and probably last) time I ever witnessed Darren and Stephen switching places on their parents. And I can't even describe the AWESOME-ness of the moment. That is how funny it was, I got to make up a word for it.

Dad and Mom, Christmas 2000

But I digress. I am writing this post because I wanted to share some thoughts about Mothers. It is a topic I enjoy. Because although Mother's Day can be a bummer, I believe that for 23 years of my life, I had it pretty good. So I am going to share a story which is random and sweet and is one of my favorite memories of my Mom, since it happened right before she passed.

Let me give you some background. Out of my parents, my Mom was the mechanically inclined person. She was capable of changing oil, popping a clutch, changing tires, and knew all kinds of crazy things about belts and I have seen her hotwire a car. She talked shop with mechanics. She was THAT Mom. Not to say my Dad was a slouch by any stretch but it was typically my Mom that would ask her children about the well being of their vehicles and tires. She was very big on getting tires rotated and checked.

At this particular time in my life I had an '82 VW Jetta. I was fortunate enough to purchase this car for $100 from my brother Jeremy and his wife Kimmi. And it was a great car. It has its little quirks but it worked and served my needs in college. At this particular time, I got a flat tire. Not just a flat tire but more of a tire implosion (I think the tires were from 1982). Luckily, I knew how to change a tire (my Momma taught me right) so I put on the spare tire. Since it wasn't a donut tire, I had no intention of getting it truly replaced. This was a topic that worried my Mom greatly when she called me. One of the questions she typically asked during the conversation was, "Did you get a new spare tire? You should always have a spare tire in your trunk." To which I would breezily reply, "Yeah yeah, I am going to get one soon."

Around Thanksgiving, I called my Mom (which I must admit, I did quite often) and she answered the phone crying. When I asked what happened, she told me that she had been very stressed. She was planning Thanksgiving in Arizona for all of her Bluth cousins and wanted to play games and have some sort of a program. Well she had talked to a few family members who shot down all of her ideas. And she was stressed and discouraged and felt bad. At this point, she sensed my first instinct to call these people and let them know exactly how I felt about ANYONE making my Mom cry, and she made me promise that I would not call them. I was sad because I didn't think I could made it to Thanksgiving to help her so I did the next best thing I could. I called my brother Tim. I told him a short story about what happened and told him he needed to be at Mom's disposal for Thanksgiving. (She didn't say I couldn't tell other people :)) Tim promptly called Mom and told her that it would be a great time and he was there to help with whatever she wanted to do.

These events happened within the course of an hour. What do they have to do with a tire? I promise I will get there. On my way to work Mom calls.

Me: Hi Mom
Mom: Hi Nikki-gal - Tim just called me. You didn't happen to tell him what happened did you?
Me: I only promised not to call those people, I didn't promise I wouldn't call anyone else.
Mom: Thank you, it was a huge relief to get that call. That really helped.
Me: No problem. It will be a great weekend.
Mom: Where are you headed to right now?
Me: Work.
Mom: Did you get your spare tire?
Me: Ummm, yeah, I will get that when I get home. Huge priority.
Mom: Long lecture about how dangerous it is to drive without a spare.

I got off the phone as fast as I could and went into work. When I came out almost 6 hours later, I was surprised to find a brand new tire on my back seat. No note, just the tire. I never locked my car because who steals an '82 Jetta? If it ran out of gas, it would be totaled. But the tire was there. It came from Mom because she was the only person who cared. Which means my Mom jumped in her car, went and bought the tire. Since she is a car person, she knew which tire to purchase. Then she drove 45 minutes from Salt Lake City to Orem to put the tire on my back seat to show her love for me. She didn't call me, or come into my work. She just drove home. Some Moms make quilts and some Moms write eloquent notes to show their love but I am glad I had a Mom who simply bought a tire. And to me that's love.

As a little sidenote there was a great article in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman (thanks Corey). His mother recently passed and he paid tribute to her. At the end he wrote, Call your mother, I sure wish I could call mine. I couldn't agree with him more.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Summer Secret

I am willing to share it but it is hands down the easiest way to make Corn on the Cob. Why is it easy? No boiling water. It is easy peasy and I got it from that weather man in SLC. Don't even know his name. All I remember is this valuable tip. Valuable for a few reasons. 1) it is ridiculously fast. 2) it is ridiculously good.

Corn on the Cob
By - the old weather guy in SLC

Take a few ears of corn. Make sure you buy corn with the husks. You want to make sure you do not shuck the corn.

Put the ears of corn in the microwave. I was even so lazy, mine still had the plastic bag from the grocery store.

Microwave for 5-6 minutes.

Wait a few minutes before you start to shuck the corn because it is pretty hot. Discard leaves, silk and your corn is ready to be slathered with butter, salt and pepper.

Why this works - the leaves and silk work as a natural barrier for the corn to steam itself. All you need is heat. Can it work if you bbq it this way or just throw it on an open fire? I am sure it would work. I just don't have a lot of open fires around my house and it is faster to microwave it. :)

You can thank me later :) Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Do you know what I like about Chicago? There are too many things to list. It is a big city but not too big. I feel that I could comfortably walk to anything in town. (Did not feel that way in New York). It is clean. And is a beautiful. Darren and I did a whirlwind trip. Complete with art museums, food, friends, Cubs game and shopping.

We were staying two blocks from Michigan Avenue - the Magnificent Mile. Take it from this shopper, it really is magnificent. You name it, they had a store for it. Our first stop in Chicago was at Portillo's. For a Hot Beef Italian Sandwich and hot dog. Which was so filling, we couldn't even eat dinner.
Next we just walked around and shopped. And saw the Silver Bean in Millenium Park. We next had dinner with the Lippencotts. And by had dinner, we watched them eat because we were still full from our afternoon snack. :) Even though we didn't eat, we did have a great time visiting them and their new baby.

Darren in front of the giant silver bean. And our bean reflection.

About 11pm and our appetites returned. Luckily for us, Grand Lux Cafe was around the corner and still open! So like responsible adults who watch what we eat, we helped ourselves to beignets and molten chocolate cake. DELICIOUS!!!

Saturday morning was just as fun. We visited the Art Institute of Chicago, I saw the building from Adventures in Babysitting, and we went to a Cubs Game! I have been to a lot of sporting events, but this was a BLAST! These fans take it seriously, despite how freezing it was. :)

We did the American Gothic pose:

And had a Ferris Bueller's moment - does anyone remember this moment from the movie?:
And I took a picture of the building in Adventures in Babysitting (sad but could not resist):
Our Wrigley Field moment - in the shade was the only moment we were cold in Chicago:
Afterwards, we of course had some more food when we had a stuffed pizza at Giordanos and more beignets at the Grand Lux Cafe. Then we spent more glorious time shopping...Ahhhh - what a great trip. Shopping, friends and food. How can anyone not like Chicago?
This is a picture of another late night trip to the Grand Lux Cafe - ahhhh. I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

American Idol - the real deal

What can I say? We were on American Idol. I think I've been "discovered" or I have just "discovered" what a cult TV show can do to a responsible adult if she is withing 3 feet of a celebrity. Let's just refer to my actions as star crazed.

Here are the rundowns of the events:

  • We had priority seating thanks to Elizabeth. No waiting in long lines.
  • We were on the floor next to Randy.
  • I shook Paula Abdul's hand.
  • Randy gave me a high five.
  • Didn't touch Simon but not for a lack of trying.
  • WAS ON NATIONAL TV and was right behind David Archuletta.
  • Realized how much Jason Castro did not belong on TV.
  • Had a sign but was standing so gave it to some little girls. I don't think it made it on tv.
  • Paula hugged my sister-in-law Elizabeth.
  • Randy said my brother-in-law Morgan was a funny guy.
  • You can't really hear anything in the studio.
  • Aside from not being able to hear much, David Archuletta has the best voice.
  • Did I mention Jason Castro is worse than I thought?
  • Talked to Syesha's parents - who were quite nice. Took a picture with them too!
  • Ryan Secrist is GREAT at his job.
All in all - it was the perfect day. We got to spend some fun family time with Elizabeth and Morgan and it is always a good afternoon when I get to leave work early and spend it with my husband! Thanks for the tickets Elizabeth!!!!

Here is some photographic evidence that we were in fact, ON TELEVISION. The pictures are poor quality because our TV is old but I am hoping Elizabeth will have some better ones from her TV.

Do you see us? I am to the right of David Archuletta. Darren is directly above David's head, Elizabeth to the left and Morgan right above Jason Castro's head. I don't want to brag but we are AMAZING!!!!

Terrible picture of me but still counts as proof. What was that face???

And I am off to a work meeting in LA for the next 3 days. Yipee! Otherwise this post would be much longer.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Sis!

What does the world do without sisters?
I have one who is 18 months older.
She let me be her shadow.
And never lost patience
(though she could have often).
I followed her constantly, and still am.
Most of my memories have her in them.
I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy Birthday to the Greatest Mom!!!

Misha and Adam - Christmas 2007