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

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

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.