Saturday, December 31, 2005

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

Appropriate for New Year's Eve:

Got a Christmas newsletter with a blog address in it today. It's from an amazing family whose kids I grew up with. Ever since I started wanting to be a mom I have hoped my kids will grow up and be like the Hull kids ... more than they're like me. (And especially more than they're like my brothers, heaven help us all!)

New on the blogroll: Hull Central. Go, read, enjoy, be a little envious. It's OK. They're awesome!

OK to chaos

Christmas was great. Two happy kids, as you can see. This picture was actually from Christmas Eve -- new PJs is an important tradition!

It has been a long, long week of Imaginext castles, Uno, Go Fish, painting birdhouses, Star Wars movies, Star Wars Legos, playing with friends, long walks, gathering acorns, rainy days, wrestling, snuggles, and very persistent mess. That's ok. We've had a fantastic vacation. I scrubbed the bathrooms and made bread. And there's no laundry to catch up on, there's no car cleaning to do ... I may never take a trip again!

It is going to be so, so hard to go back to work Monday.

In other news, we had a Book of Mormon party to celebrate our completion of the book as a family. It's actually our second time through with the kids which I think is not too shabby considering how little and wild they are. We had BOM gingerbread (I still had one package of dough left over) -- shaped like the golden plates and decorated with royal icing and sprinkles. They were cute.

We are planning to head out and see if the creek has flooded. We're getting some rain so far but nothing near as disastrous as what we're hearing about on the radio.

Abe just came in and told me, "Mom, don't get your hopes up for going to a walk. We're going with Dad." Ouch!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Yuletide funnies

"Silent night, holy night, have a bi-i-i-ig fight"

"Thanks for the tie-dye fighter Legos!"

"Feliz la-di-da! Feliz la-di-da! Feliz la-di-da!"

Hope everyone's enjoying the day!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Baking my butt off

Somehow I think that's not what happens when you eat these (butt coming off) much as I might wish for it. Hmm.

So it was my big night for baking Christmas treats tonight. I started around 4 and baked on and off until about 11:30. Whew! Here are some quick notes on the stuff I made:

  • Saltine toffee is super easy and good and rich and looks pretty impressive on the plate. I made a 1.5x batch, which goes a long way. The kids and husband ate a ton of it. There is still a ton.
  • The empty spot on the treat plate means that the pumpkin fudge has not set up yet. I hope that is not a bad sign. I don't know what I would do with a 9x13" pan full of pumpkin sludge. We'll see in the morning. I am holding out hope because the surface of the fudge still feels warm to the touch, so I am thinking as it cools it will harden more. I hope. I have never actually made fudge before tonight, though I love it a lot.
  • The turtle thumbprints are quite work intensive but so yummy. It is hard to do the caramel neatly. I didn't really succeed at that. You will see that I did not drizzle the chocolate. I do not like drizzling, so I was trying to do it with a pastry bag. That doesn't work too well, because the chocolate in the tip of the pastry bag cools pretty quickly. That's because metal is a good conductor. See, I'm a science writer, and I know this stuff. (Never mind that any seventh grader knows that.) So I just took off the tip and piped big kisses on top instead. I like it better. I mean, it's Christmas. Who wants a drizzle of chocolate when you can have a big fat kiss!? These are Kissy Turtle Thumbprints!

Something I have noticed about myself is that almost nothing is too rich for me. Other people eat like two bites of stuff like this and go, "Oh, it's so rich! I can't finish it!" And I'm like, "Pass it over here, girl!"

I think I am done baking. It is late and I am pooped.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Slow tag

Sal tagged me with this last week while I was sick. OK, I forgot until now. Sorry ...

The rules for this particular meme are as follows:Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot.
1. Running2Ks
2. Queen of Spain
3. Kdubs
4. SalGal
5. Watch Out for Mama

Then you get to select five people to pass the love on to. Sorry kids, ignore me if you want, I understand!!

[I am shy, this is hard, I'll get back to you.]

Now, onto the questions!

What were you doing 10 years ago?

December 1995:

Finishing the first semester of my junior year at BYU, taking the bus or biking or walking everywhere I needed to go, living in an apartment where you had to sit down to take a shower, being a Webelos leader, working at the Morris Center serving food to freshmen, really really wishing for a baby

What were you doing one year ago?

About the same as now. Working, living in Merced with a Ph.D. student for a husband and two crazy kids, working in YW, passing time until Christmas, really really wishing for a baby. (some things never change)

Five snacks you enjoy:
- Chocolate
- Salt & vinegar chips
- Any fresh fruit
- The eggplant and goat cheese rolls at the office party last night]
- Bear Claw ice cream -- is that a snack?

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics of:
- Almost any hymn in the 1985 book
- Almost anything on an oldies station, especially Beatles tunes
- Anything by Indigo Girls
- Many parts of Handel's Messiah
- "Modern Love" by David Bowie, just because it's what's playing right now. I learn lyrics really easily and quickly, so it's embarrassing how many songs I know.

Five things you would do if you became a millionaire:
- Buy the lot for sale on NE Bear Creek here in town and build a straw bale house with solar light and heating
- Help my little sis get a house in Las Vegas
- Save for the future
- Get my armpits lasered (hair removal, you know, I hate shaving my pits)
- Quit my job since our housing would be paid for, and stay home with my kiddoes, but keep freelancing for my office because it is fun and after all a million doesn't go that far these days

Five bad habits:
- Overeating
- Blowing my nose too much
- Yelling at my kids
- Blogging at work ... hahaha
- Thinking I will mop the floor after the kids go to bed, and then not doing it. Seriously, you should not look at the floors if you come to my house.

Five things you like doing:
- Making and eating yummy foods
- Reading novels (no nonfiction for me, ugh, I'm not afraid to say I'm bored)
- Crocheting scarves and stuff
- Singing
- S%x. (What?)

Five things you would never wear, buy, or get new again:
- A non-fitted jumper, too frumpy for words, saw a pic of me in one and ew!
- Movie tickets on Fandango, what a waste of $4, I still had to wait in line!
- Crackers anywhere but the 99 cent store
- Peanut butter anywhere but the co-op
- Meat at Food4Less. YUCK!

Five favorite toys:
- Computer
- Kitchenaid mixer
- Legos
- candles

And I just have to say, whoever wrote these questions, I can give you grammar lessons. But you will have to pay me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my co-workers at UC Merced, and anyone following the progress of this amazing crazy venture! Our first semester is complete. So pooh on the naysayers, and hold on to your butts, because the ride ain't over yet.

Not that I'm anything but eager to get through this week (it's a bit boring and slow since the semester is at an end) and have a whole ten days to hang out with my kids. I need to start planning some activities so that we have fun instead of killing each other.

As for Christmas preparations, all I have left to do is wrap. And bake. Not bad.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's time to be obsessed with baking

I am not getting squat done at work today. I keep thinking about Christmas cookies.

Yesterday I made a double batch of gingerbread dough. That takes 14 cups of flour, in case you were wondering! I divided it in eight parts, rolled them up in waxed paper, and tied a gingerbread-man cookie cutter onto each package with red ribbon. That's what my Young Women are getting for Christmas. Very Martha Stewart, ja? I saved some for my family. We'll make our little men for Family Home Evening tonight and talk about the miracle of Christ coming to earth as a human being. (Nice object lesson, too! So far today I am brilliant, although not at anything I am really supposed to be doing!)

I also want to make pumpkin fudge, turtle thumbprints and saltine toffee. And maybe sugar cookies, although two kinds of cutout cookies is a lot of work.

The question is ... when? And what in heaven's name will I do with them all? I am still Body-for-Lifing. This weekend I fit in some cute lowrider boot-cut red ticking-striped flannel pajama pants that my skinny sister in law gave me for Christmas two years ago. I have never been able to wear them until now.

So why are the cookies calling, calling, calling my name???

Gingerbread is low in fat. I could eat it with some cottage cheese, I guess, for a balanced meal. Yum ... not.

Free day is Sunday ... free day is Sunday ... free day is Sunday ...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Healthy food for sick people

I don't know about you, but when I have a cold I am constantly famished and it's hard to find anything that really tastes good. Here was my solution this week. Nourishing, flavorful, earthy and warm. The garlic and spinach have great health benefits: Garlic is a natural antibiotic and spinach -- well, didn't you watch Popeye as a kid? The salt of the broth helps you retain the fluids you need to fight sickness. The mustard (if you get a good pungent one) clears your sinuses and provides a wonderful bright counterpoint to the dark flavor of the lentils.

Lentil Pottage with Spinach
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 c lean ham or turkey ham, diced
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced (I buy garlic with cloves as big as the first joint of my thumb. That's BIG!)
3-4 cups broth or water
1 c brown lentils, washed and picked over
1/2 tsp dried leaves of thyme
1 c frozen spinach
Salt and black pepper to taste
Your favorite mustard to garnish

Saute onions, celery and carrots until they begin to soften. Add ham and cook all together until beginning to caramelize. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add broth and/or water and bring to boil. Add lentils. Simmer 20-40 minutes (it's really quite forgiving). Stir in spinach and heat through. Season to taste. Consistency should be that of a thick stew. You could add a can of diced tomatoes or some cooked rice if you like.

Swirl a little mustard on top of each serving. Bread and butter on the side is good.

Get well soon! I did!

Friday, December 16, 2005

We just want our brother(s) back

Took the kids to see Narnia this evening. It was a long-awaited event for me. I first heard the books read aloud in my mother's voice as a young, very young child. I don't even remember how old I was. We all got complete boxed sets for Christmas when I was eight or nine, and I read them over and over. I read them to my kids starting in 2003, when Sam was four.

The movie was good enough -- not perfect, but with some beautiful moments done quite perfectly.

But that's not what I really want to talk about. For some reason I looked at the story differently this time. The parts that moved me most were not the moments of Edmund's redemption. They were the desperate cries of his siblings, "We just want our brother back," and "We have to find Edmund."

There was no way that Peter, Susan and Lucy could save Edmund without waging full-scale war on his captor in complete alliance with Aslan and the forces of goodness. Halfhearted attempts, selfish strategies, easy ways out -- there were none of these. Personal weakness, reliance on logic, self-doubt -- no room for them.

Only Aslan could save Edmund. Peter, Susan and Lucy couldn't do it. Yet neither could they sit back and wait for him to take the situation in -- um, paw. They had to join his side and go to work where he sent them. None of them were sent to free Edmund. He had someone else for that. But their commitment to him was required before he saved their brother.

Something to think about. Do I see my brothers shackled in an icy dungeon, eating moldy bread? Bound to a tree and gagged? Dragged through the snow behind a ruthless monarch's sleigh?

I think they are. All three of them.

I also think I have been so focused on them that I have sometimes neglected the battlefront where I belong. I've been watching, agonizing, wondering what I should be doing differently in regards to them. Not trusting. Standing in the witch's castle waiting for the rescue, when there's nothing I can do, and the war rages outside where I could make a difference.

Maybe what I should be doing differently is being more fully committed myself.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I can hear the clamor now

You all want to know, what are these fish fajitas?

Be still, and I shall tell thee!

Fish Fajitas

2-3 fillets of red snapper (aka rockfish), cut in strips
1 can pineapple chunks with juice
salt and pepper

1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1 small onion
1 tsp olive oil

4-6 small flour tortillas
shredded mild cheese

fresh cilantro, chopped
lime wedges
light sour cream or yogurt

Marinate fish with pineapple, juice, salt and pepper. Arrange tortillas on large baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, slice vegetables and cook on med-high heat in a large skillet in olive oil until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan.

Place tortillas in oven.

Drain fish and pineapple and cook in same pan without stirring too much (you don't want to break up the fish and turn it into mush). The fish is done when it's all white.

Serve fish mixture and veggie mixture on tortillas, with cilantro, lime and sour cream to garnish. Also, optionally, your favorite fresh salsa, red or green.

You can pretend it's summer, even when there's a thick tule fog outside!

I originally got this recipe from

Monday, December 12, 2005

Gratitude journal

Today I am thankful for ...
  • Joaquin Phoenix in I Walk the Line (the rest of the movie, okay, but only Joaquin inspires gratitude)
  • My in-laws, who are never as scary in person as I think they are going to be when I'm anticipating a visit
  • Our new mattress getting delivered at 6 p.m., thanks to my in-laws' generosity
  • Waking up gently at 5:45 a.m. this morning, before the 5:50 alarm jarred me off the edge of the bed
  • Having my workout behind me for the day
  • A peaceful, loving marriage
  • Knowing that in a week I will be done singing all the outrageously high material the ward choir director chose for Christmas this year
  • No dead car batteries or lost keys (I've busted the Monday losing streak I was on!)
  • Weighing in under a significant milestone this morning (a losing streak I want to stay on)
  • Being done with my Christmas shopping -- DONE!
  • Having all the ingredients for fish fajitas in the fridge

Friday, December 09, 2005

Shoring up my confidence

My inlaws are coming. My house is a disaster. In the time since DH cleaned it on Wednesday, we managed to trash it.

They are not here to judge my housekeeping skills, right? Right?

My mother in law is an immaculate housekeeper. When she stays with me, she spends the entire time washing my dishes. It's not that she disapproves of my home, she says, and I think I believe her. It's just that she can't stand to sit still. Keeping busy with housework is what she has done all her life.

Maybe we just need to get her addicted to blogging, or something.

So anyway, yes, I suck at housework. But there are a lot of things I don't suck at. I'm going to make the list I encouraged Sally to make earlier today. I do love a good list. Maybe you've figured that out by now.

Stuff I don't suck at

  • Writing press releases
  • Writing stories
  • Reading books
  • Cooking dinner, sometimes almost out of thin air
  • Reading to my kids
  • Choosing good stuff from the clearance rack, secondhand store, or discount store
  • Loving my kids and being very demonstrative about it
  • Taking care of some very cute 14 and 15 year old girls at church
  • Creating a happy Christmas for my family
  • Bringing home the bacon
  • Frying it up in the pan
  • Never never never letting someone forget he's a MAN
  • Dyeing my own hair
  • Giving advice (others might disagree)
  • Voting (always)
  • Giving blood (sometimes)
  • Singing
  • Keeping up with current music
  • Making choral arrangements of songs (so far no one has seen these but me but I think they're all right)
  • Keeping in touch with friends
  • Exercising (lately)
  • Eating healthy (lately, mostly)
  • Proofreading Web site text

Heh, guess I better get back to work; it's not the weekend yet! Wish me luck in all my insecurity!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Miscellaneous stuff on my mind

Well folks, I have some stuff in my brain so you are just going to listen to me process this morning. I'll add some links so you won't get way too bored.

My husband is going up to San Francisco today to spend the night with his parents, who are there for a conference. I guess he told Sam about this last night while I was at Relief Society and Sam had a total meltdown about his dad leaving. Weird huh? When I got home Sam was still awake and he told me he couldn't sleep because he was so worried (then he wouldn't tell me what he was worried about, Glenny told me later). And he was all freaked out that he would get no sleep and "mess up my whole schedule and be tired at school." Sad! That seems like way too grown up of a worry for a 6 year old! Poor guy!

Tomorrow when Glenny comes back he is bringing his folks with him. So I am bracing myself. I don't know why it stresses me out so badly to have them with us; I like them and everything, I just get majorly stressed when they're around for some reason. And because of that I worry that they think I am not a very gracious hostess, etc. Anyway at least Glenny cleaned the house yesterday so I do not have to worry too much about that.

They want us to go to Tucson the week between Christmas and New Year's, since they bought a house there this year. I like Tucson. I was all set to move there in 2003 until we found out that Glenny's advisor was coming to Merced. But right now, I really really do not want to travel; I want to stay home and relax. Husband feels the same. But I have this feeling that I should let my kids spend more time with Glenny's parents whenever they can -- they barely know them, really, since they live in Alaska and it is all but impossible to visit them up there.

In unrelated news, Abe went to the ear doctor yesterday. We have officially given up on non-surgical options. On Jan. 18 he is going to have his adenoids and tonsils out and get tubes. Poor guy, but I am looking forward to not having monthly ear infections anymore.

Today is our first day of real Central Valley winter fog this season. Downright terrifying to drive in. Coming out to campus this morning, I kept having the awful feeling that I was about to pitch over a cliff.

Oh, and I am all freaked out about the story I heard on All Things Considered last night about honor killings in Iraq. Sometimes I think I just should not listen to the radio.

Okay now that I have spewed all that I am ready to get to work for the day.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Graham shanties

Tonight I learned:

- A pastry bag may double as a fire hose if you are imagining you are Billy Blazes

- I do not have to freak out when this happens

- Necco wafers are an excellent disguise for shoddy roof construction

- My dear husband thinks dried apricots belong on grahambread houses. I married this guy???

- Royal icing: actually kind of yummy if you eat it before it's dry, and don't try to tell me any of this crap about salmonella, you and I both know it's on the shell of the egg

- I do not know when to stop sticking candy on. Guess which shanty is mine?

- My hyperactive 6yo shows amazing patience decorating a graham shanty. Sugar is involved, after all.

- We all still love sugar, including me (shhhhhhhhhhhhh)

Feliz Navidad! Jose Feliciano is blasting over here!

P.S.: You can do this project for less than $5 if you have a good 99 cent store like we do!

Guest post from Ana's keys

Hey guys! It's Ana's keys here! Get your keys over here to read this! Don't read it yourselves, OK?

OK, I have a rockin' awesome spot for the next time you want to hide from your owner. Try in the cell phone pocket of their purse or bag, UNDER the cell phone. It's wicked! You don't even jingle when they shake the bag to see if they can hear you in there! They will run around the house for like an hour after they are supposed to be at work or wherever they like to go, and freak out when their kids talk to them because they are trying to concentrate on finding you, and pray fervently, and call their spouses and beg to be bailed out and get mad when their spouses are in the middle of teaching a lab and can't bail them out, and then finally find you after they have given up and decided to work at home and go looking for their flash drive. Freaking hilarious, no?

I am the total hide and seek MASTER!

OK, all you keys out there, tell your people they can come back to the blog now. Don't tell!!!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Since you asked, Sal

Sally tagged me. Here are 10 random facts about me:

1. I used to have a #1 rated radio show. 5-10 a.m. Sundays on K101 in Fairbanks, Alaska. It was when I was in high school. I don't think it was a really competitive time slot or anything. Oh, and the show was pre-recorded during my Saturday 5-11 p.m. shift.

2. I have my DH's hometeaching records for the elders' quorum on my flash drive right now. He just wants me to print them. But I could snoop! Oooooooooooooo!

3. I have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace (summer 1992).

4. I have no desire ever to live in a place where it snows, ever again. Not even for Christmas. And I never thought I would say that before I lived in California.

5. There is BACON in my fridge at home. My weight loss plan includes a free day, which will be Sunday. Also on the docket: sweet rolls, pizza, creamy potato soup, lemon meringue pie. Yeah!

6. I got a copy of the new illustrated version of The Elements of Style by Strunk & White. Yes, the college classic. You should check out the new version, it's fun. And you have guessed correctly, I am a nerd.

7. I spent three days looking for my wreath hanger and then realized there was already a nail in the door. DUH. Well, now the door is all festive. Lights and tree go up this weekend.

8. Tomorrow I am going to a diaper shower. When you think about it, that doesn't really sound all that pleasant.

9. Secret joy: Bottled water from the fridge at work, left over from somebody's meeting. Hope they didn't mean to save it for everything.

10. It's Spirit Day at UC Merced today. I'm all decked out in my Bobcat t-shirt and my navy suede jacket. I never did anything like this in high school. I was very much against this kind of crap, much too cool for it. Now that I am 31 I think it was a little silly to be that way.

I don't know who I'm going to tag yet. I've never tagged anyone before. I'll think about it.

Body update

We are now almost halfway through our 12-week Body for Life program. As of this morning I am down 6.5 pounds. And feeling great! The really great news is that 2.5 of those have come off this week. I gained 1 pound over Thanksgiving before that. Yay! I think (I hope) I have been building a lot of muscle over the last almost-6 weeks so that I am now beginning to metabolize a lot more efficiently. It is definitely motivational to see that much movement on the scale!

My new goal is to have to buy new pants after Christmas!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cumin chicken stew

Brrrrrrrrrr, it's winter. Okay, it's a California winter, which means rainy and 60. But it's outstanding one-pot weather. Here's what we ate last night as the storm blew in.

Cumin chicken stew

1 large yellow onion
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 bell pepper
2-3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano

2 chicken breasts

2 cans seasoned chicken broth, roasted garlic flavor (you can use regular broth if you want instead)
2 15-oz cans of beans, drained -- try black beans or garbanzos, depending on whether you want to think more about Mexico or Morocco
1 large can diced tomatoes with juice

1 c leftover rice (my favorite: Lundberg Farms short grain brown. I use it for everything.)

2 small zucchini
1/2 bag frozen green beans
1/2 bag frozen corn kernels
Any other veggies you have around that sound good

light sour cream or yogurt
lemon or lime wedges

Dice all vegetables in first group. Saute in olive oil, adding garlic at the last stage of sauteing.

Add spices and stir 1 minute to develop flavors. (Hint: if you are making this a more Moroccan-flavored dish, try adding some cinnamon. Sounds strange but it is divine!)

Dice chicken; add and cook until no longer pink. Add canned goods and stir. Heat through. Add last group of vegetables. Cook until they are tender -- perhaps 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve in bowls with sour cream or yogurt and lemon or lime.

Even better the next day, I say with my mouth full!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Future renaissance men

Here are my cute kids who are also way smart (and of course that is a completely unbiased opinion) working on some of their interests.

Namely, being really happy little protest singer (doesn't my funny little biracial African-American/Caucasian 4yo look kind of South American here?) and painting colorful stripes on a wooden plaque to which you will later attach wooden cutouts of your name, using Elmer's Glue. Serious business, you know.

Cool, huh? Grandma's house is so much fun!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mini book about the sacrament for little ones

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Image hosted by

My mom made this for her nursery kids and I loved it so much she gave me her originals. So I thought I would scan and share! Sorry it is in a goofy order but it should be easy to unscramble since it's numbered.

If you would like larger files to print just lmk.

Write your own

We're at home. The story includes these elements. Weave them together for your own exciting narrative!

- carsickness, complete with vomit
- undressing and redressing a pukey four year old on the side of the road in Nevada (cold and windy)
- "Eating Goober Peas" over and over and over and over
- A small snowstorm
- A major road delay (someone else's accident)
- Croup
- A steamy hotel bathroom
- A loud hotel smoke detector
- Screaming sirens at 4 AM -- police and an ambulance in the hotel parking lot.
- Irrational, sleep-deprived worries that someone, somehow, found out we had disabled the smoke detector
- Triaminic, a blessing from heaven
- One bored big brother who found out he does in fact enjoy playing with his little buddy and misses him when he's sick
- A dang cold house
- A miracle goldfish who survived 10 days with no food
- A mountain of laundry (I know, that's in all my stories)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hazy shade of winter

We could see Salt Lake from Wendover. Not the lights, not the buildings -- the smog. Oh excuse me, the haze. That's what we call it here. It's inversion season. I went for a walk and had to borrow my sister's albuterol inhaler afterwards. And folks, I live in the Central Valley of California. It's not as if I'm actually accustomed to clean air.

It's good to be here. Most things are as predicted. Excellent food, D.I. shopping, family company.

And, three days into a week-long trip, I already know it will be good to be home.

At home, I don't have to think every day about the complexities of extended family. I don't have to wonder if this is the day I am going to explain to my kids what it means to be homosexual, as two of my brothers are. ("Uncle T doesn't do anything with us," complained Abe yesterday. "He doesn't even go to Church!"

On the bright side, my non-gay brother's fiancee is a delight. Wonderful with my kids and I think we will get along great. And until this moment when I actually am trying to do something that is not all about them, the boys have been behaving beautifully.

Guess I better go.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I'm bound for the promised land

Okay, it's just Utah. But we are going for a whole week and I'm so jazzed! So I thought for the blog today I would make a list of things I am looking forward to, things I love about Utah, not in any particular order.

  1. Seeing my parents and all 5 of my siblings (!!!) and my fabulous nephew Noah
  2. Mom's Thanksgiving cooking
  3. Mom's everyday cooking
  4. A non-flat horizon (the Wasatch! Hurray!)
  5. Checking on my little pink house
  6. Visiting the Brickyard Ward
  7. Getting together with friends
  8. Fairmont Pool
  9. Crownburger
  10. Red Butte Cafe
  11. Lighting up Temple Square
  12. Nordstrom Rack (yes, they have one in Fresno ... but that's an hour away, and yes, you can shop Nordy's sales online but it is just not the same)
  13. Husband's joy at being able to run on the Shoreline Trail and snowshoe in Millcreek Canyon (he needs a psychological boost, and I'm seriously hoping this will do it)
  14. Needing a really warm coat
  15. The awesome playground on the west side of Liberty Park, where we will go to play no matter HOW cold it is
  16. The End on the radio -- I got sick of it when I lived there but I hope they are still playing that odd blend of Utah and the '80s!
  17. D.I. shopping with my expert mother
  18. Turning from northbound I-15 onto eastbound I-80 and making the merge so perfectly that I feel like I own the freeway
  19. Taking my kids to see my alma mater (and checking out the new construction there myself!)
  20. Watching my parents spoil my kids

Bon voyage to me! I'll try to check in from the fam's house!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Division of resources

Last night I was talking with my husband about my visiting teaching companion. She is really a go-getter, and at first she comes across a little intimidating. Now, after a few months visiting together, I am starting to get to know her better and see what's real and human about her. I like that. But she's still really a go-getter.

The advisor I work with in my calling in Young Women is the same way. She is the force behind anything getting done with the girls. Sometimes so much so that I wonder why I am there. I love them, and I teach a lesson and help with some things now and then, but really K is the motivator for Personal Progress, class presidency meetings, activity planning ... you name it.

I told my husband, "I think they know that they have to put me with someone who can really get things done, because I just can't devote that much attention to my church callings now that I'm working."

He said, "Now you know why men are such slackers about home teaching, and never have fancy centerpieces." He is the eqp right now and of course constantly stressing about what slackers the elders in the quorum are. Poor guy ... that is not first on his list of stresses, either. I feel bad for him. Although by 11:30 last night he was getting so negative that I had to tell him it was getting annoying and he needed to knock it off and let me go to sleep.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before we got to that point, we had a big discussion about whether that's really true. Did I really have more time available before I became a working-outside-the-home mom? Do moms at home really have more time available than their husbands?

I think the answer is no. Mothering two children full time (and more) was just as time-consuming for me as working full time and mothering in the mornings and evenings. After all, I'm still on duty from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; it's just that my duties are different.

The point of divergence is flexibility. As a mom at home, I could take two hours in the middle of the day to go visiting teaching, or to a young women's presidency meeting, or to make phone calls. In spite of my whining that my children controlled my life, I had the final say on the calendar and schedule. But now, for example, if I schedule visiting teaching for a Tuesday at lunchtime, and my boss calls a meeting that conflicts with that, I'm out of luck.

If it's still the first week of the month, that's fine. I just reschedule and go on my merry way. But if it's the last week of the month, uh-oh.

Bottom line: you have to be really, really organized to be a working mom and get your church callings done (and not let your house go to complete pot, which topic we will save for another day). I am not really, really organized. I wouldn't even say I'm organized at all, except at work, where basically all I have to worry about are e-mails and files. But thank heaven, I have a companion and an advisor who are. (In fairness to me, I have to acknowledge that they are both older stay-at-home moms with one or zero kids left at home. So of course they can get a lot of church work done!)

Anyway, it comes back to what I said before about the real reason the Church does not encourage women to work outside the home. If we were all at the office, then who would do Primary and Young Women? It's kind of a joke but it's kind of true. And it also makes me think about why Young Men and Scouting organizations often have a lot of problems. Our current ward does not, but I've seen it way too many times.

And by the way, I never ever ever have a fancy centerpiece.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Week 4 and I'm coming clean

So I'm 4 weeks into a project and I figure I'm sure enough of what I'm doing now that I can go public with it.

I'm losing weight. My sister, her sister-in-law, and I are all doing Body for Life. I lost about 15 pounds on this in 2001 and my sister's SIL lost more than 30. That was before she had her quadruplets. Yes, I said quadruplets.

I do really like this system. Basically, you have 6 small meals a day, balancing carbs and protein; curtailing fat, salt and sugar; and eating plenty of veggies. You also drink 16 ounces of water with each of those meals. You work out 6 times a week, alternating resistance and cardio sessions. Best of all, you get a free day each week where you don't have to exercise and you can eat anything you want. French toast, pizza, enchiladas, pork ribs, ice cream, hot fudge ... you know, the stuff that makes life worth living.

So I'm starting Week 4. I have not missed a workout so far -- not without making it up, that is. That is easy for me to make myself do. The workouts are hard, but all I have to do is go do it and then it's done. The food on the other hand, is a constant struggle. Is this surprising for me? No, no it's not. I have already done numerous foody cheats. I keep telling myself, just keep going. I am going to keep climbing back on the wagon until I learn to stay on the wagon.

And I've lost somewhere between 3 and 5 pounds, depending on what mood my scale is in on a particular morning.

Anyway here are some products I like for BFL:

Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal -- tastes like a carb choice but is quite high in protein, especially once you add skim milk. Helpful because I get oh so sick of eggwhites for breakfast! And I love cereal! Beware, you have to get the CRUNCH kind. The other kind is ick.

Eden Organic Pasta -- same type of thing. Look in the health food section for this or buy online. (I order it through co-op.) This is made with kamut and other whole grains and is very high protein for a pasta. And yummy. Not like the nasty low-carb pastas that were out 4 and 5 years ago. Maybe that's because it's not low carb, just high protein. I could never ever do low carb.

Ibuprofen. I really should make a little shrine to that picture, or something. I don't take it every day, not even every other day, but sometimes I really kill my muscles on these workouts. A couple of these before bed really, really help. I, of course, buy them in bulk, because 1 week out of 4 you will find me taking 8-10 of them a day. I enjoy being a girl!

Power Bars. So important. I just had a tiny piece of my afternoon one to curb my after-lunch sweet craving. Can't wait to have the rest.

That's all for now. Here's hoping it keeps me from snarfing the rest of my Power Bar for a couple more hours.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A change is as good as a vacation

I have come to a conclusion that I am an outstanding stay-at-home mom when I only have to do it once every few months. When it was every day, not so much. In fact I basically sucked at it.

I wonder if I would appreciate it more and do it better if I could go back to it now that I've been a full-time working-outside-the-home mom?

I wish there could be some kind of balance.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Not to waste it

Okay, after reading Sally's ambitious holiday planning list I am determined not to waste my day off tomorrow (Veteran's Day). I have a rare opportunity in that Glenny got the house very nearly immaculate and the laundry caught up so that we would not be embarrassed to have babysitters at our house last night. (He is awesome!!)

Now, that said, he is not going to be around tomorrow. He is going up to Yosemite to get some new water samples. Poor, poor man. It will be a pretend-I'm-a-SAHM day. That's cool.

So here is what I am gonna do:
  1. Work out (lower body weights)
  2. Shower and dress (hey, it doesn't always happen on days off)
  3. Put dinner in the crock pot (slowcooked bbq beef, yum yum)
  4. Take the kids shoe shopping (heaven help us all)
  5. Do something fun, like maybe the park, or if I am feeling rich after shoe shopping, see Chicken Little
  6. Patch nail holes in the wall in the living room (yes, the landlord should've done this but I am a realistic kind of girl and anyway, I enjoy spackling)
  7. Cut down the pumpkin and squash vines and dead sunflower stalks from the back yard
  8. Put away all the papers on my desk and on the kitchen counter before they get out of control
  9. NOT play on the Internet all day!

Day after check

Hoarse voice: check

Sore feet: check

Ringing ears: check

Sleepy eyes: check

Pink palms: check

Ear worm (a good one): check

Still know all the words to "Bad": CHECK!

U2 was in Oakland last night and we were there! It was Glenny's birthday present. So totally worth all the money and time! Here's hoping it is not too long before we do something similar again.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blog brag antidote

So the blog's been a little braggy lately. (I have a new sweater! I made this awesome food! Blah blah blah!) When I think about reasons for that I am honestly not sure whether I have just been feeling good, or whether I have some deep-seated need to bolster my self-esteem. Either way I think it's been getting a little obnoxious for all two of my readers.

So here are some true confessions about me as an incompetent mother, etc.

Sam has a big hole in his Spider-Man tennis shoe. It has been there for a week. I have not had time to go shoe shopping. Fortunately we were able to drag out his Spider-Man rain boots today. It sort of looks like it might rain.

I have been repeatedly telling Abe to suck it up and get it under control. He is a sensitive little guy and I feel bad for trying to curb that. I am just so sick of the crying over every little gosh darn thing. He is jealous about the Spider-Man rain boots. I cannot find the size 13 Old Navy rain boots that Sam wore when he was 3 (he's such a bigfoot!). I might have to buy rain boots AND tennis shoes.

I failed to pay tithing first thing this month. Made big payments on the credit cards, totally forgetting about my tenth. Now we have to wait for the deposit from the rental manager in Salt Lake before we can pay. Hate that feeling.

My dear husband finally stepped up and took charge of family home evening last night. This is something I've been wishing for. It was a talk about emergency preparedness, boring as all get out and the kids couldn't sit still. I was mad that he didn't think about that. The poor man can't win with me. And what did we have for treats? Pringles and root beer. Nope, no homemade goodies on weekdays, no can do.

I didn't exercise yesterday. Normally that would not be so bad except I am on a pact with my sister. (However I am now down 4 pounds from the weight I started at just over 2 weeks ago. That's good!!!)

I am totally unfocused at work. Look at me blogging.

I have NADA prepared for Mutual tonight. I could go deeper about my inadequacies in my calling but that will be too depressing, and I really should get back to work.

Friday, November 04, 2005

There's something on my sweater

I got a new sweater. It has beads and sequins on it. This is supposed to be very in this fall -- you know, feminine detail, bling bling, shiny stuff. I think I'm doing it very tastefully -- the sweater and the ornamentation are all black. I do love a black sweater. Look, I even found a picture of it on the catalog site where I ordered it (yeah, Coldwater Creek had a 50% off everything sale again. Trouble for me and my credit card!)

So it's all great. Pretty sweater, hip, sexy mama.

Except I keep seeing the beads out of the corner of my eye and thinking I have something icky and goobery stuck on my sweater. Five years as a SAHM have ruined me for the world of fashion!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Soothing soup

I made this pumpkin soup for an office brunch today. Simple, lovely, inexpensive because I grew the pumpkin myself. Will also make a lovely sauce for pasta with some parmesan cheese.

Pure Pumpkin Soup

1 "sugar" or "pie" pumpkin

1/4 c butter
1 c diced onion (I used 1 1/2 medium onions)

2 cans chicken broth

1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper

The night before, heat your oven to 350. Set your pumpkin on a cookie sheet. Pierce with a meat fork or a knife 3 or 4 times (pierce the top of the pumpkin). Roast for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave the pumpkin there while you sleep.

The next morning, cook the onion in butter until lightly caramelized. Meantime, seed and peel the pumpkin. Make sure to remove all the stringy stuff! Then cut it in chunks about 1.5 inches square (rough estimate). Add to onions along with 1 can of broth. Simmer 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

Puree in batches, adding a little broth from your other can to each batch. After pureeing each batch, transfer to crock pot to keep warm. Add spices, salt and pepper and stir well to achieve even consistency.

Extras that will make this yummy (I'm not doing any today but you can):
  • crumbled bacon
  • 1/2 c heavy cream stirred in
  • pureed chipotle peppers (just a leetle!) stirred in a swirl on each serving
  • sizzled sage
  • a nice hard cheese

Enjoy the autumn ... bring on the cozy foods!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My ship is coming in, and it's smaller than I thought

I remember when we were newlyweds. 12 years ago. We made $550/month between the two of us, and even in 1993 dollars that is really really poor. Our apartment, laughably billed as a one-bedroom when it was really just a studio with a big closet, cost $239/month. We made this work by not having a car.

I clearly remember wondering what I would ever, ever do with $1000/month. It seemed like an incomprehensibly large amount of money.

At my first job out of college, I was assigned to write an article about using the budget templates in Quattro Pro. Remember Quattro Pro? That was the spreadsheet software that came with WordPerfect back in the day. Actually WordPerfect's day was pretty much over by that time, but it did provide me with a couple of years of employment -- 1996 to 1998.

In my budget article, my fantasy income was $3000/month. Hey, I was a girl with an English degree. I was keeping it real. It still seemed like plenty of money to dream about to me. We were, of course, still living in Wymount Terrace at the time. The old complex, with the cinder block walls. Rent was $350/month.

These days, I've surpassed my previous dreams. I don't feel squeamish about revealing that online, because really it would be embarrassing if I hadn't made it past that milestone. But I still can't buy a house in the town where I live and work. Maybe my problem is that I don't know how to dream big enough. I need to start fantasizing about really large amounts of money. Like, large enough to afford a 3/2 fixer upper in California.

Don't get me started about those out-of-town landlords jacking up the prices. Jerks.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The holiday about nothing

I'm not a big Halloween fan, and it's not a secret among my grownup friends. It's a lot of work with no significant meaning or purpose. That's my general line of thought.

But for my kids, I play along. And you can see why! They are having so much fun, even if a real ninja would never ever forget to tie his sash.

And when I see a glimpse of this, I wonder, maybe it is worthwhile to have a holiday to celebrate pretending, imagination, things that are not real. That's an enchanting idea. And maybe that's what it's supposed to be all about.

So I am off to pick up the munchkins (and that will be an onomotopoeia tonight, I'm sure), decorate the car, pick up a couple of pizzas and head over to the Trunk or Treat.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

TV free no more

My 6 year old's favorite part of church is helping the librarians. The ward librarian is an experienced mom of spirited kids who is wonderfully understanding about my son's need to be busy busy busy all the time. So every week she has a job for him to do before sacrament meeting starts (like folding programs or dusting or straightening shelves) and a little gift for him -- a notepad and pencil, a mini puzzle, just something she has picked up at the $1 store. Needless to say I LURVE her. She is just awesome. She has made my kids want to go to church.

Well today while we were drilling the last touches of "Praise to the Man," they were in there helping. 6 year old picked up the bunny ears for one of the television sets and was playing with them. The librarian told him he could have them, because obviously we don't really use them on the TVs at church -- they are hooked to VCRs for showing Church productions and conference talks when you are unprepared to teach your class. Which is what I did today, so please don't imagine that I'm knocking it.

Anyway, so then he had these telescoping bunny ears during sacrament meeting. Thank heaven we sit in the back of the chapel because it would have been pretty distracting otherwise. They were pretty fun to play with. At some point he asked what they were for. And like an idiot, I told him. And then of course, when we came home we hooked them up to show him how it works.

So now we have broadcast television in our home, something we had expressly decided we didn't want because of lack of control. You can be watching a perfectly innocent basketball game, and all of a sudden there's the bikini team advertising Bud Light, or Paris Hilton's soft porn for Carl's Jr., or something like that, degrading and immodest and antithetical to what I want to teach my kids.

I can't pretend I don't sometimes want to watch TV. I mean, come on. When you have six loads of laundry piled up on the couch it is pretty depressing to think about either running out for a video, watching one of our tired library titles over again, or folding in silence. I used to fold while I listened to This American Life online. But I kind of soured on that after a few nasty references to Mormons.

I think the bunny ears will disappear when the kidlets go to sleep tonight, to come out only when they are asleep, and maybe on Saturday mornings for cartoons -- we'll see. We'll see if we can be moderate. Really we have been TV free not because we are so disciplined, but because we are just the opposite. When we have TV it gets out of control. It's easier to go cold turkey for us. I hope we're not making a big mistake.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here comes trouble

Here are the little troublemakers. Imagine if you will, that their slightly delusional parents have allowed them to come to Sunday afternoon choir practice, bringing with them their coloring books and a bag of colored pencils.

How many dirty looks can Mommy give? How many times can she get up and walk in front of the choir director to shush the crowd? Okay, there are only two of them. They only sound like a crowd. Finally Daddy exiles them to the primary room, only the little troublemaker doesn't want to go. Daddy tells the bigger troublemaker that he needs to set the example. So the bigger troublemaker grabs the littler troublemaker by the wrist and drags him screaming across the back of the chapel as the choir director urgently admonishes the choir to sing their testimonies.

After we finish singing for 90 minutes on the high G-flats of that crazy arrangement of "Praise to the Man" that MoTab sang in General Conference earlier this month (yes, I'm a first soprano, and yes, I was dizzy by the end of this) we discover a fun surprise: there was a pencil sharpener in that bag of colored pencils. And so there are pencil shavings all over the chapel.

I must have been insane even before this experience. I just didn't know it until afterwards.

But they're so cute.

And just so you know, when I was a choir director, I was darn strict about keeping the whole experience to 50 minutes, except for the Saturday before the Christmas program, when I made everybody breakfast to try to make up for the pain.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Just doing my job, ma'am

Here's me at a media availability session we had on campus last week for a special visitor.

That was a cool day. We had 3 TV stations and 3 newspapers cover it.

I think I should wear red lipstick more often, but it is such a pain to try to keep it looking good all day. I even use that oil paint kind that supposedly does not come off. Except it does. Meh.

On days when you know you're going to end up on TV, it's worth it. Otherwise, not so much.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Another close approximation

So have I ever mentioned my enormous love and respect for Indian food? I think it is the most complex and interesting cuisine in the world. I look at the long lists of ingredients and spices and almost fall down on my knees. And eating it, that's even better.

Where I live we have a few good restaurants. Only a few. But one is Indian. Thank heavens.

Still, in my working-mom life I do not manage to get out to eat very often. I am morally opposed to fast food but still throw it in as a treat for the kids once every four to six weeks. And occasionally we do order some pizza. But the time it takes to actually call a sitter, pick her up, get the kids settled, and go out with my husband to eat a nice meal in a nice restaurant ... it just doesn't happen that much. Not to mention the fact that we are still surviving on 1.5 incomes in a very 2-income society. (Hats off to those who are managing on 1 income alone. It blows my mind. And it just plain blows to have to try to do it.)

So I have to try to satisfy my Indian food cravings on my own. My mom gave me a good little book called A Little Taste of India that has some simpler recipes I can actually manage. Here's one of them, with a few modifications from me.

Golden Egg Curry

1 c diced onions
1 tbsp butter, clarified if you're feeling ambitious
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 15-0z can diced tomatoes (the book calls for fresh, but ...)
1/2 bag frozen green beans (I needed more vegetables and didn't want to cook another dish)
1 can coconut milk
6 hard boiled eggs

Saute onions in butter until translucent. Add garlic, turmeric and cayenne and stir for a minute. Add tomatoes and beans. Simmer very low until almost ready to serve. Add eggs and coconut milk just before serving. Heat through.

Serve with rice and cucumber raita (below). We also like to have some diced mango and some raisins with this dinner.

Cucumber raita

1 - 1.5 c full-fat yogurt or light sour cream
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 a fresh cucumber, chopped fine or grated coarse
pinch salt

Just like with the chili verde I am not trying to claim this is authentic. But it's pretty good as a substitute for a real evening out at Taste of Little India.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


I just have to add that there are some really enticing autumn recipes up at Simply Recipes Food and Cooking Blog. And the author there does her own food photography, and it's beautiful.

Now I'm hungry.

It's starting to become eerie

How I keep choosing adoption stories without knowing it. Okay, I knew Misfortune was going to be one, from reading the back cover and stuff, but The Kite Runner I didn't. I'm so extremely glad I read it.

This turned out to be one of the most moving books I have ever read. Elements of guilt, sacrifice and redemption gave this story gut-wrenching power, amplified by disturbing violence. The adoption story broke my heart and inspired me. I can't think of when else I have had to put a book down and cry into my pillow. But this morning I did, lying in my bed with my sore throat, sniffly cold and box of tissues, mourning for the children who are hurt in this world and cheering on those who try to help them.

I sort of saw the adoption thing coming once Amir headed back to Pakistan. I was disappointed at first in what it took to make him decide to go ahead with it. I was hoping that he would overcome his mistaken ideas about the importance of blood ties in creating a family. That's the American adoptive mom in me. But once I started thinking about it in a larger and more symbolic way, learning about "brotherhood" is really what it takes for anyone to open up to help someone else, through adoption or any other means. Right? I know it's applying a Christian structure to an explicitly Muslim story. But in this book, there's a father. There's a brother who sacrifices so another brother can enter into their father's good graces. And in order to merit that sacrifice, the brother who received it must take care of another member of his father's family, one he had previously not seen as "his own." That's a very large story and a very large truth.

I don't want to ruin it for you. But it reminded me, too, of reading Huckleberry Finn in Eugene England's American Lit class at BYU, talking about why Huck reverts to playing an exaggerated romantic hero and seems to forget everything he has learned about Jim in their journey together. In that class we talked about what that meant in the context of American race relations. After reading The Kite Runner, I also see it to be true in being a parent of children. There's backsliding going on. It's so hard for all of us to learn from our experiences. We keep slipping. We think we are doing our best, but we mess up and we break our promises, sometimes with horrific consequences.

Still, we are not irredeemable. We can keep trying -- trying to teach these delicate little people to soar.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Chili verde y amarillo

So I won a prize tonight. It was the ward chili cookoff. My distinction: SPICIEST! And I was the only girl in the game! (Apparently chili is something men cook. I didn't know this. But check me out! Hot mama!)

This will feed a crowd.

Chili verde y amarillo

2 yellow onions, diced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
4 largeish lean pork loin chops, about 1/2 inch thick
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
black pepper to taste
3 8-oz cans green chilies
3 8-oz cans salsa verde
2 cans beef broth
1 bag frozen yellow corn kernels
2 huge cans pinto beans -- they were probably 28 or 32 oz each but I can't check now!

light sour cream
lime wedges

Cook onions in olive oil until translucent. Remove from pan. Brown pork chops. Add onions and other ingredients. Stir, cover, and simmer 2-3 hours. You could also do it in the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours. The chops should break apart easily with a wooden spoon when the chili is done.

Serve with sour cream, lime and cilantro.

I'm not saying this is chili verde autentico or anything, but it's how I like it. And it won a prize. Magnet clips. Ideal for displaying children's artwork on the fridge. I'm telling you, the ward activities committee really gets my life.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Bargain queen

I'm one of those girls who won't pay full price. I buy what's on sale at the grocery store. I shop at TJMaxx, Ross, Nordstrom Rack, and catalog clearance. I get my hair cut at the cheap place and color it myself and it seems to work fine.

So yesterday I noticed: the fashion plate Manolo Blahnik skinny-butt twentysomething at the office has the exact same caramel colored faux-croc briefcase bag I have.

I bet she didn't get it for $24 at Ross. Silly girl. HA!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

New favorite

Despite the title reference to an Allison Krauss song, this post is actually a breathless tribute to a song off the most recent Liz Phair album, which I have just discovered. And all the lyrics.
This would be really the perfect place to start an Internet rumor about Liz becoming a Mormon woman. Doesn't this song sound that way? Read all the way to the end.

You lose your way / You've gotta land / You've gotta make another plan / But sometimes I am too tired

You've gotta smile / You've gotta play / You've gotta work another day / But sometimes I am too tired

You've gotta raise your hand and say I don't understand / But there are days when I'm too tired / There are days when I'm just too tired

And the wind that I'm in / Screams on me (screams on me) / Howls around me (howls around me) / And I feel like I am a naked man / I've got nothing and no one in a stranger's land / And the wind will do me in

Everyday / You've gotta run / You've got a job / You get it done / But sometimes I am too tired

You wanna roll in the grass / Kick your shoes off / Have a laugh / But sometimes I am too tired

I wanna raise my hand and say I don't understand / But there are days when I'm too tired / There are days when I'm just too tired

And the wind kicks in again and says / Lean on me (lean on me) / Rise above me (rise above me) / And it says

Sailor don't leave the channel now / Deep blue rollers are breaking across your bow / And the wind will guide you in

So I went up the mountain / But all I saw was another mountain / So I came down the mountain / And I said, leave me here lord

So I went up the mountain / But all I saw was anouther mountain / So I came down the mountain / And I said, leave me here lord / Leave me in the valley / Let me rest my weary head / Give peace to your survivor / Put all my fears to bed

You lose your way / You've gotta land / You've gotta make another plan / But sometimes I am inspired

You're gonna sing another song / You're gonna right another wrong / And sometimes I am inspired

You're gonna raise your hand and sayI don't understand / There are days when you get an answer / There are days when you find your answer

-- "The Wind and the Mountain"by Liz Phair

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Great weekend

Great weekends are not what they used to be.

Friday night, a Blockbuster night. Homemade pizza, snuggling on the couch and early bedtime. Can it get any better?

Saturday, I slept until 8. That's late! Breakfast with the paper (husband already gone, helping some church people put a roof on). Then I did bathrooms, laundry, and mopping before lunch. Also made some granola. Decided we have enough food in the house that I could skip grocery shopping for a few more days. Afternoon, I tackled the computer room, which looked like a garbage barge puked here. I threw away two big boxes of crap -- so liberating. Look! There's carpet in here! (How long until the kids trash it again? Let's not dwell on that thought.) Then a good workout with my new book (The Kite Runner), pancakes and cantaloupe for supper, some delicious online time-wasting in my newly clean computer room, and another early bedtime.

This morning, I dyed my hair before church. Risky, I know. No chance to fix it if things went bad. But what can I say ... call me foolhardy. It's darker than it's ever been before -- medium golden brown. Naturally I'm dark blonde/light brown. I like it. Husband loves it. I think he appreciates any effort to change things. So I dye the hair, rearrange the furniture, buy new underwear. Short attention span. Him or me? That remains to be seen.

Sang in a trio in church. We just did the SSA "We Ever Pray for Thee" from the hymnal, very simply and with some subtle dynamic changes that made it quite nice. Plus we really lucked out on our blend. It worked very well. That's always a good feeling.

Son #1 was feeling snuggly. It's super nice to hug a big gangly six year old all through sacrament meeting. I hope he's not getting sick.

Made some cookies with the kids. Put dinner in the oven before choir practice. Read stories on my bed with a cool breeze blowing in the open window. Started reading The Book of Three to Sam after our nightly Book of Mormon session. It was a good mommy day. And that's all it really takes to make it a good weekend anymore. Call me officially over 30.

But that has its benefits, too. My husband has a new brunette girlfriend, and it's me. YES!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sick potato

So is it just me, or is this kind of a sickly child? He is sick all the time, I swear. At least once a month. Usually it's ear infections, which we will certainly discuss at his physical next week. Personally I think he needs tubes. Anyway, today, lucky me, no ear infection. No, no. Today, flu.

This morning he barfed up a bunch of phlegm. So I (bad mommy) thought he was just having a problem digesting all the byproducts of his seasonal allergies. Gave him some allergy medicine and sent him to preschool. Where he barfed up his cantaloupe breakfast. So (very logically) I took him with me to campus to do some media stuff and got him a Pepsi, then back to my office to watch cartoons. Where he barfed up the Pepsi. I feel bad for the custodians, but there wasn't a whole lot I could do. At least it was all Pepsi at that point, not cantaloupe.

On the plus side, I now get to work (blog) from home while he sleeps the afternoon away on the family room couch.

I really hope I do NOT get sick.

Get well soon, potato. Again.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This might not be for you

But basically I thought Misfortune was a fantastic ride. Like Austen? Dickens? Shakespeare? Classics? Rethinking the role of nature and nurture in the development of human sexuality in a very 21st-century way? Well then, maybe it is for you, after all!

The title character is sometimes called Miss Fortune by the villagers, having survived a botched late-term abortion and been abandoned on a garbage heap, then found and adopted by the richest man in England in 1820. The hitch? Miss Fortune is a boy, but her eccentric adoptive father so wants a daughter to replace his beloved late sister that he rears his beloved child as Rose, a girl. In this he has the complicity of his wife, a scholar fascinated with ideas of dual-genderism and socially constructed sexuality. (Their marriage begins for convenience and remains sexless, though it grows loving.) Adolescence "outs" Rose, who must then confront an internal masculinity and balance it with the femininity he was brought up to show.

Occasionally graphic, slightly disturbing, sexy, complex, clever and thought-provoking. I dare you!

(Maybe another time we can talk about why I will not watch R-rated movies but have no problem with a book like this. Hm. If you all can help me figure that out I will be indebted to you!)

Monday, October 03, 2005

The dawning of a brighter day

I tend to be somewhat vulnerable to episodes of depression. I can think of three, possibly four times I have gone through about four months at a time of just not feeling okay -- nightly crying jags, lack of motivation, etc. One just before I got married, in the summer. One just before I graduated from college, in the late winter and early spring. One after my second child came home, in a dark and horrible winter of ear infections, allergic reactions and two-year-old mayhem. And one (I think) after we moved here to California.

No matter how many times I go through this, I never know what's happening to me until one day I suddenly feel okay again. The sun comes out and I realize that it wasn't so much that life sucked for the previous four months -- it was just that I was in a hole.

I think something similar is happening to me right now. I'm climbing out of a hole. Not a mental-emotional one, though. A spiritual hole. I've been in it for almost a year, with occasional peeks at the sunshine but never a real emergence. Doubts have plagued me. I've been slow to give and quick to suspect. I've felt out of place and out of patience. Answers have not been coming, or at least they have not been heard.

And I can say this only because it's getting better now. My ladder for climbing out of the pit? It's made of a lot of different things. Different rungs, if you want to be a little silly with the metaphor.

My home teachers told me they would like to hear me bear my testimony, and I did, knowing there was a lot I could not say I know, but a few things I could. I let my words last Sunday linger on those things. I know my Savior loves me. I know he atoned for my sins. Opening up to the members of my ward opened up my heart and I've felt different since that time.

I taught in Young Women about the messages we get from the world and the messages we get from the Word of God. (The lesson was "The Word of God as a Standard.") Now I have been blessed all year that the times I have taught in YW I have had glimpses of the Spirit, enough that I don't think my spiritual slump has affected that calling. But this time those contrasts struck me so hard. The world, and the "god of this world," or Satan, hold up standards that lead to misery, loneliness, death -- especially to women. They devalue our bodies, our capacities, our callings. They offer false promises of happiness through fashion, sex, money, success. In contrast the true gospel offers respect, enlightenment, real love, and real heart-happiness, real joy through unwavering devotion to the strait gate and narrow path. Without apology our scriptures and our prophets show us the way to happiness. Unpopular though that way may be.

Crazy B had her book club meeting Friday. We talked about this crazy book and I had this crazy question about how Satan attacks our families. The answer that came to mind was about the roles we play. How we compare ourselves to our siblings and even our spouses, and how Satan works wedges in those relationships through our negative comparisons and causes us to resent each other. I do that garbage all the time. Maybe now I can stop.

And then Conference this weekend. We finally have a computer setup at home good enough to listen reliably through the Church's Web site. (I understand we could have watched online through BYU-TV, but I didn't learn that until this morning.) I blasted it through the house as I did my Saturday chores and as I crocheted and relaxed on Sunday. The Spirit filled my heart with gratitude and testified of truth as Elder Holland spoke to the Young Women (and their leaders) about rejecting the standards of the world. As President Hinckley spoke about forgiveness. And so many more important messages. It's going to be wonderful to review them in a month or so.

Yep, I think I'm waking up. I'm so excited.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Lonely junior

I was all jazzed about moving upstairs. It's still going to be cool. That office is freaking huge.

What I didn't realize, though, was how haunted this building was going to feel after everybody else moved out.

There are now only four of us left working here, and it's going to be that way for a few weeks, until we move upstairs and HR and some other offices move in.

On the positive side, I can now, with impunity ...

- Eat chili garlic tofu for lunch without worrying about offending my office mate, who has moved to campus

- Play music a little louder while I work (old Tori Amos for now, Spoon in a minute)

- Make phone calls in relative privacy

- Burn a candle

It's still going to be a weird few weeks.

"Solitude stands by the doorway ..."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

You missed it!

So did 4 others of the 7 people who said they were coming to lunch at my house today. Grrrrrrrr. What did their mothers tell them about RSVPing, anyway? Didn't they know I took the day off work for this?

Here is what they missed.

Chicken Salad a la Toni's Courtyard Cafe
(as close as I could get it, anyway)

1 bag Emeril's Kicked Up Salad Greens
2 Gala apples, cut in 1/2" chunks
2 navel oranges, peeled and cut in 1/2" chunks
1 bag dried cranberries
1 c walnut pieces
2 grilled chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 " chunks

1 c balsamic vinegar (just get the cheap stuff, you're gonna cook it)
1 c sugar
3-4 tbsp rice vinegar
3-4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook vinegar and sugar on high heat until mixture forms a thick (really thick!) syrup. Stir in rice vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Funnel into a squirt bottle.

Toss salad ingredients together. Serve and pass the dressing.

Out of This World Rolls
You missed my luncheon, but you can still make these for Thanksgiving, and your family will kiss your feet for it. And they are easy. No kneading! No kidding! You just have to remember to start them the night before, and plan to roll them out 3 hours before serving.

2 pkgs (2 tbsp) active dry yeast
1 1/4 c warm water
3 eggs
1/2 c butter, softened (very soft)
1/2 c sugar
4 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt

More butter

Place the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl to soften. In your mixer (I hope you have a Kitchenaid for this) beat the 3 eggs with the wire whisk attachment.Add butter, sugar, water/yeast mixture, salt, and 2 1/2 c of flour. Beat with wire whisk until smooth. Remove wire whisk. Gradually add remaining flour to form a very soft dough.

You will think this dough is too soft. Don't add more flour. It's supposed to be this way.

Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray and allow to rise until double. Punch down. Refrigerate overnight.

Three hours before baking, divide dough in half. On a smooth, well-floured surface, roll each half into a circle about 1/4" thick. Butter generously with a pastry brush. Cut into eighths (I use a pizza cutter). Roll each wedge starting at the wide end. Curve ends to make a crescent shape. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray and allow to rise for 3 hours.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake rolls for 12-15 minutes.

This also makes an excellent dough for sweet rolls. Mmmmmmmm ...

One of the ladies who was supposed to come to the lunch today is in the middle of moving. Maybe I will take her some salad and rolls for dinner. I have a heckuva lot.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Foolproof sleepytime music

1. Lullaby - Singers Unlimited
2. Puff (The Magic Dragon) - Peter, Paul and Mary
3. My Father - Judy Collins
4. Skye Boat Song - King's Singers
5. The Little Horses - Kathleen Battle
6. Dreamer - Toni Childs
7. Corcovado (Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars) - Stan Getz
8. The Nearness Of You - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
9. A Child Is Born - Singers Unlimited
10. Rain, Rain Beautiful Rain - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
11. Is My Family - John McCutcheon
12. St. Judy's Comet - Paul Simon
13. All Through The Night - King's Singers
14. Stay Awake - Harry Connick, Jr.
15. La Petite Poule Blanche / Fais Do Do - Michael Doucet & Family...
16. Fais Do Do - Kathleen Battle
17. The Long Way Home - Norah Jones
18. Family Garden - John McCutcheon
19. Train In The Distance - Paul Simon
20. Golden Slumbers - King's Singers
21. Rock Me To Sleep - Willie Nelson
22. In the Sweet By and By - Dolly Parton
23. Why Should I Cry For You - Sting

Blogged from within Rhapsody as a test! Not perfect (I had to edit) but not too bad ...

And the little connivers are FINALLY asleep! They were on one tonight!

Heard at my house tonight after bedtime

Sam: You can't have a scuba diver. Both of the scuba divers are mine. I got one for getting a haircut and one from Jakob.

Abe: How come you make up all the rules?

Sam: Because you don't make things up fast enough.

Abe: I make things up when Mom plays with me.

Sam: You're the gazebo. That's something that makes shade. Now, come over here, gazebo.

Abe: Okay.


Sam [clearly enjoying the rhythm of this phrase]: Butts are gonna be kicked, butts are gonna be kicked ...

Abe: Mom, you forgot to kiss me goodnight!

I can't help but notice

No love on the new format. None at all. Is it possible that that shocking green became the Watch Out for Mama brand? It was just a Blogger template, guys.

Maybe more than that, though. Shocking green is the color of my eyes, which people often mistake for colored contacts. It's the color of my faaaaaaaaavorite outfit in 1991: a silk portrait-collar blouse, a fuzzy wool tulip skirt (that I SEWED, with a purple lining, thank you!), and curvy-wurvy high-heeled pumps, all in shocking green. I used to dream of driving a VW bus in shocking green. The carpet in my last house was also green but the most shocking thing about it was how desperately ugly it was and how quickly it became gray in the entry way and in the doorway from the dining area into the back living room. Since I moved there is very little green in my life, in the indoors. Just the old towels.

Also shocking: there is no substance in this post. None. None at all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Time, will, food, fat

I just got back from my first of three trips to the gym this week. I actually like the gym okay. I go to a pretty down-to-earth gym where people are there to work out, not so much to show off. They run TBS with subtitles so I can watch/read silly movies while I exercise even if I cannot find my headphones (this is currently the case). I like machines because I have this slightly OCD thing about the numbers on the readout. Watching the calories, watching the time, watching the heart rate, watching the speed and the total revolutions. I do this the same way I used to count the steps up to my bedroom every single time I stormed up there and slammed the door as a teenager.

But I cannot say I love to exercise. I find it a little boring. My OCD thing is not enough to get me through a 45 minute workout and neither is reading the subtitles of The Waterboy. What I really need is a book; that really makes the time fly. I cannot keep myself in books. It's that binge reading thing.

I still go to the gym though, because I feel guilty if I don't and because at least nominally I am trying to lose weight. Yeah, just try to forget that thing with the peanut M&Ms from yesterday, okay? I do all right at getting my workouts in but I stink at controlling my eating. I'll just admit that right now. Maybe you would too if you rocked the kitchen like I do! HA!

Anyway, um. Where did that little burst of ego come from? I think it's designed to get me through this next part.

Next to me on the elliptical trainer tonight was an older woman, maybe in her early 50s. Not old, just older than I am, OK? I had to look twice. I've seen her before. Since April she has quit smoking and lost 60 pounds. I kid you not. I talked to her. Which is a little odd since I am not all that big on talking to strangers normally. But she was really nice.

60 pounds is about what I would like to lose. Is it possible I could have accomplished that since April? What a slacker! I didn't even have to quit smoking!

She spends 90 minutes at the gym, every day. I spend 60 minutes 3 times a week. There's a big key right there. I don't know if I could spend 90 minutes every day. I just reamed my husband last night for spending 2 hours at the gym and not doing the dishes, his regular job. (He does love to exercise, lucky dog. How do you get that way?) Really, though, if I spent that kind of time at the gym, wouldn't it take away a lot from my family? Or at least from blogging? Or making delicious creamy desserts?

Blah, I have to think about this.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Inherently evil

No, I'm not going to talk about treats in the office again, although I did just negate my Special K breakfast by eating a whole bunch of peanut M&Ms for second breakfast.

Saturday I cleaned the dead plants off my front porch. My herb pot died as soon as the summer got hot and I left it there along with various houseplants that never got moved inside after we moved into our house this past spring. It was kind of a death garden. Not really that pretty. But I always forgot about it because I hardly ever use the front door, sad as that is to say. I'm always getting in the car and driving off somewhere. (I miss my walkable Salt Lake City neighborhood a lot.)

Anyway if you leave a lot of dead plants out all summer in this part of the world, you have created a wonderful habitat for spiders. Lots of daddy longlegs and one fat, shiny black widow. I stomped on it first, and then stopped to shudder and think about what would have happened if it had been resting on the rim of the pot instead of behind it. I would have been bitten.

I have a feeling it's irrational of me, but I think black widows are inherently evil. Those ugly webs, that Darth Maul color scheme ... they seem like they don't really deserve to be part of nature. They are chaos and menace and destruction and death. Also, scorpions. One time I watched a nature show about scorpions and had nightmares.

And cancer.

Our good friend H, my husband's first counselor in the elders' quorum, has just been diagnosed with a relapse. When we first met him he was battling a growth in his sinuses. Now it's in his chest cavity, a soft-tissue tumor that is attacking his bones. He's hurting a lot. It's supposed to be incurable. They can fight it, but most likely this is what will eventually take him. Today he meets with his doctors to make a treatment plan.

I wonder if Lucifer spent some time on one of the creation teams before he was cast out. It's hard to make sense of this any other way.

Friday, September 23, 2005

More product raves

I did this a while ago and I have another product rave post brewing in my head, so here goes:

Yoplait whips in any of the chocolate flavors. It's almost like you're not eating anything healthy at all. Like when Peter from Belgium made me chocolate mousse when I was 16. Why was I clueless about this boy who was tall, blonde, gorgeous, European and made me chocolate mousse and brought it to drama club in a little yogurt cup? I don't know. It was high school and I swear I didn't realize he liked me until a year later. Duh.

Fiesta Cheesy Taco flavor Cheez-Its. They're made with masa so eating one is kind of like eating a small, crunchy, triangular tamale. This might be a pilot program in my area because this particular flavor is not on the Web site. Or it may be as difficult to get content up on the Keebler site as it is to get content up on the site I write for. Who knows.

J. Marco for clothes. I am saving my pennies for this now.

Sweet Cicely Oil for wood furniture. I got mine through my food co-op's quarterly order from Lotus Light. You can order direct from them if you like. Great deals on all kinds of stuff! The alder wood table I bought with my wedding money is once again shiny and beautiful. And it smells fantastic, too. Trouble on the monitor. Rising credit card balance. 'Nuff said.

Charmed by Dana. Email to get pictures of beautiful custom-designed glass and silver jewelry in your inbox every day. Plus she is the nicest friend! (Now can I get something free, Dana?)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Food for comfort: Rice Pudding

I am a totally emotional eater. For various reasons, some of them admittedly hormonal, this is the perfect recipe for this week:

Lion House Rice Pudding

1 5 1/3 oz can evaporated milk
2 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
1 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt

2 c cooked white rice
1/2 c raisins (don't be stingy, I always use more)

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Scald milks together in a medium to large saucepan.

Combine sugar, salt and cornstarch in medium mixing bowl. Add to milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. Add rice and raisins and bring to boil.

Add about half the pudding mixture to the eggs, stirring while you pour. This is important so that your eggs don't curdle. Return egg mixture to saucepan and stir over medium heat until thickened.

Remove from heat. Add vanilla and spices. Serve warm or cold. Chill to keep several days.

Makes an excellent breakfast. Hey, it's less sugar than a doughnut, and that's what some people eat. I want to make it with dried apricots and lemon zest. Wouldn't that be good? Maybe next week. I also have a recipe somewhere for chocolate rice pudding.

So many desserts, so little PMS to use as an excuse ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Crazy is the spice of life

My friend B always has a little bit of crazy for me. It keeps things interesting. She is forever hawking some MLM thing or giving dire warnings about Armageddon or enthusiastically advocating various forms of alternative medicine or therapy. Yes, dear readers, the crazy we are talking about here is Mormon Crazy.

B has organized a book club. It's a Deseret Book book club. Oh, snap out of it. Stop groaning and read. I'm in the book club. Sometimes we read really interesting books like Moving in His Majesty and Power by Elder Maxwell. Mostly we read your standard DB stuff. I just finished volume two of The Brothers, a military-religious series about the premortal existence and the last days. It's painful, really. The writing is abysmal, the agenda too obvious, the gender roles nauseating, and the doctrinal premise questionable to say the least. But I plow through so I can go to B's house and sit with all my friends and talk. Because we don't really talk about the books at all. We talk about life, about being a woman and a mom and a Mormon. And that's what I find valuable.

Because in the middle of all the craziness, there is something about B. When she has a party, she doesn't invite all the doctors and dentists and their wives who live in her neighborhood and serve in leadership positions in the ward and stake. She invites us (the student family) and the HVAC workers and the IT guys and the carpet cleaners. She goes to the temple (an hour away) every week and takes a different person with her each time. And it doesn't come across as a charity project, it's just what she does.

She is open, wide open, about her kids and the struggles they have had, about her siblings and their issues. This is stuff that tells me she "gets it" about my life. She has taught me what it means never to give up on someone you love who has lost their testimony or left the church.

She hugs my little terrorizers and sends them off to jump in her beautful swimming pool. And she puts her hands on my shoulders and looks in my eyes with her own eyes full of tears and says, "You can do it." She reminds me that when my kids are driving me nuts, they need a hug and a prayer instead of a scold and a spank.

She calls at the right times. She sends e-mails full of exclamation points and capital letters detailing her spiritual insights -- insights that are real and good and helpful. She holds these book club meetings that are ... nourishing is the best word I can think of. Enriching. Maybe the way Enrichment ought to be, because we actually get to talk to each other about real, important stuff, not just listen to a speaker or chat over a craft project.

Basically, there is a lot more Mormon Good than there is Mormon Crazy there. And that makes me kind of love the Mormon Crazy.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Corner office!

There's often some confusion about where I actually work. Our people are a bit spread out. Some are on campus, about 5 miles northeast of Merced. Some are up in the former engineering building at the former Castle Air Force Base. Some are at our centers in Fresno and Bakersfield.

My group, for now, is in this gorgeous historic building in Downtown Merced. Formerly the home of the Bank of Italy, then various medical and dental offices, it's now fully restored and rechristened as the Mondo Building. County Bank is on the first floor and various UC folks work upstairs. Oh, you wanna stalk me? Bring it on. Pbbbbbbbbbbbt.

Most of my group will move to campus at the end of the month. The offices on the third floor of the library are not big enough for all of us. Space on campus will be at a premium for a while yet. So some of us -- yes, that means me, since I'm the most junior PIO in the group -- will stay at Mondo. My director and vice chancellor feel bad about this ... but there was really nothing anyone could do do get more space on campus.

And yesterday, I learned something that makes it all cool. See that corner staring at you from the third floor? That's gonna be my new space. It's currently the chancellor's office. I'll be sharing with the graphic designer, which is fine. That space is honestly big enough for four or five people at least. I'm gonna have to sneak up and see HOW MANY windows are in that room. A bunch, for sure. I'm thinking at least four, possibly five of those sets of two windows.

So, SWEET! Corner office, baby!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Team

No no, not the A-Team. That was a different thing.

Although looking at that picture, I see me all sexy and sultry in the center with the off-the-shoulder blouse, goofy Abe with the big smile on my right, terrorizing strong Sam with the Mohawk down below, handsome husband behind me to my left and ... the weird old guy with his hand on his face .... maybe I am destined to adopt a weird old guy next.

Okay, the team I really meant to talk about was the team I found in the meeting we had this week with Mr. T/Sam's teacher, principal, and the school learning/behavior specialist.

I went into the meeting extremely nervous. Not about what I'd hear ... I already know what a meeting about Sam is going to be like. I was nervous about how I would react. This crap is so emotional for me. When someone starts listing all the annoying and disruptive behaviors Sam is exhibiting, I kind of freak out. Most often I end up crying. Which is embarrassing. But I tend to take it personally. I feel like people (teachers, most often) are giving me this list with one of two subtexts: "This is obviously the result of poor parenting" or "You must know how to fix this, right?" I don't have an answer for either imaginary subtext which is probably just as well because neither one is valid anyway, and my head knows that. It just freaks out my mommy heart.

But things started looking up almost right away in this meeting. First of all my husband showed up. Thank you, students of Environment in Crisis for not hanging around too long and letting your T.A. get the heck out of there. (Isn't Environment in Crisis a horribly melodramatic name for a class? I mean, good grief. Let's not pretend to be objective or anything. Myself, I try to recycle and stuff, but my dad is a mining engineer and probably due to my upbringing, I just can't swallow the whole "earth first" thing hook line and sinker.) Anyway when Glenny walked in I knew I would be stronger. That says something, doesn't it? I should remember that at other times when he is annoying the hell out of me.

Then the learning and behavior specialist came in and it was a lady I knew from church -- not from our ward, but from a stake choir. A super nice lady. Who had sweet wonderful things to say about me to the teacher and principal. Somebody on my side! And then she started the meeting by having us all list positive things about Sam. Okay, looking back I know these are all professional techniques she uses so parents will not freak out. That's okay! I appreciate a professional who will help me not freak out! I love her for it!

I think thanks to her leadership, the whole tone of the meeting was very positive. We spent most of the time not listening to the frustrations of the teacher, which heaven knows I have heard already and school has only been going for a month. (I always feel like telling teachers to try being locked up in a house with this child for five years BEFORE he was on medication, because that's what I did from 1999 to 2004! Welcome to my world!! Of course I never actually say this.) Instead we spent our 45 minutes talking about ways to help Sam. Actually help! A multi-pronged approach that is not all about medication -- though it includes a change in that area -- but also includes sessions with the school counselor, techniques for the teacher, tools we can use at home. I feel so good about all of this. I feel like I am not the only one who cares about Sam's success. I have a team.

Sometimes when things get rough for Sam at school my first instinct is to pull him out and teach him at home. It is so hard to watch him deal with an environment that is difficult for him. But I can't do that at this point in life, and when I really think about it I know this is the best thing for him now. We are going to teach him to cope with the school environment. I know we have found good helpers. A team. And that means a great deal to me.

Today is Sam's first day on 20mg Adderall XR. Wish us luck and no side effects -- gulp ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I'm not normally big on quotes. But this one will not leave me alone, ever since I heard it in the keynote address at the grand opening last week.

"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

- Marianne Williamson (famously quoted by Nelson Mandela)

Right to my heart.