Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Roll w/ it

I dream of having a perfect day.

This would be a day where I wake up on time feeling good, go exercise, have a shower with time to shave my legs. My kids wake up happy and dress themselves. They eat a good breakfast, so do I.

Up to this point, today was pretty perfect. Problem: it was only 7:55 a.m. The whole part about getting the kids safely to school, arriving at work and having a productive day ... never happened. Well, at least not on time. And for me, tardiness is a pretty large smear on the face of perfection.

One of the children, whose name I shall not name for fear that he will google me (or whatever the future equivalent of google is) when he's 13 and hate me forever, went into the bathroom at 7:55. And he did not come out. Constipation is a mean and ugly thing.

At 8:30 I finally told him I had to take his brother to school, and I would be right back. Which is bad. Neither of my children is old enough to be left home alone. But I didn't want the other one to get a tardy just because of his brother's bowel issues, know what I mean?

So, home alone. He was fine, didn't move his poor painful little hiney off the pot the entire time. After I got back he had a warm bath, a couple of prunes and some aloe juice. Yep, this is not the first time for this, sad to say. So I was prepared.

To make a long story short and a little less gross, I got to work about 10 a.m. Not too bad considering. But still a little late to make it a perfect day.

Sometimes you just have to let your dreams go, I guess.

Monday, January 30, 2006

New on the blogroll

If you need some perspective, this is a good place to find it:

On Krista's Mind

It's a blog by a Mormon mom with brain cancer.

I really like it. And perspective, that's a good thing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tribute to a good husband

Two nights ago I was in high anxiety mode. Our pediatrician's office, while wonderful in many ways, is not the most efficient place in the world. I had called last Wednesday to renew Sam's Adderall prescription. I left a message with our usual nurse and forgot about it until Monday when we gave the last lonely pill from the bottle. Oops on me, but what the heck was up with them, forgetting me for three whole days? Well, the nurse was sick. (Doesn't it seem like someone should have picked up her work? Hum.) And when I called in a panic on Monday morning, they informed me that the doctor was out that day and no one else could write the prescription. I don't think that was right; we've had another doc in the office write it before. But they wouldn't budge. So we would not have meds for Tuesday morning. And that is what put me in high anxiety mode.

I couldn't stay home with Sam. I couldn't send him to school unmedicated. I might as well send him with a lit grenade. I considered some alternatives I've heard of, namely Jolt cola or whatever the current equivalent is. Adderall is a stimulant, and I've heard that caffeine can have similar effects if you're in a pinch. However, we maintain a no-caffeine household, and although I make exceptions to that rule for myself a few times a year if I'm on a long drive or working late, I don't want to start explaining exceptions to my kids quite yet.

I went to bed Monday night not knowing what to do (and dreamed first about either God or Dumbledore -- I couldn't tell which -- peering very searchingly into my eyes, and then about adopting and giving birth at the same time and having to decide whether to keep the adopted child or return him to his grieving birthmother, who happened to be a lady who does freelance writing for me for work fairly regularly -- all very weird). I went to the gym early Tuesday morning still not knowing what to do.

When I came home, my wonderful husband offered to stay home with Sam for the day. Hallelujah for a man who has a good heart and a flexible schedule! And mad housekeeping skillz! I came home to a sparkling kitchen and clean toilets, vacuumed carpets and -- this is the funny part -- a kids' room void of toys. Oh yes, he kept the little guy home, too. They teamed up to dump out every toy bin in their room. Rescue Heroes, Legos, Duplos, plastic animals, Little People, superheroes, dress-ups. All in a pile. So my husband (who had been napping, not that that's all bad, but I did tell him that he should have known that chaos would ensue) scooped them all up and locked them in the shed. He told the kids that the toy troll came.

He's a different person from me, that's for sure. But I do think I got a good one. Thanks, Glenny!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Job rave

Walking between the parking lot and my office today, I watched a blue heron take flight out of Little Lake (so named to avoid confusion with Lake Yosemite, which is right next to campus -- yes, I know, it's tough.)

This morning, I arranged for a faculty member to provide comments on a story about evaporation of irrigation water increasing temperatures in the Valley.

At lunchtime, I took some photos of our congressman visiting with students and got to hear his recollections about bringing the campus to our town.

This afternoon, I'm proofing the virtual tour I wrote the copy and selected the photos for, editing an article about a professor who studies how children ask questions of adults (3 questions every 2 minutes, and yes, I'll vouch for that), and wrote a brief about another professor who will be studying the evolution of shell loss in sea hares. That's a kind of sea slug. See, the things I learn?

I so love my job and never want to leave it. Praying praying praying ...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Normal and not normal

I was walking around the creek trail loop near my house this morning, thinking about myself. It's nice to be a tad self-centered sometimes. I was thinking -- there are some ways I'm very normal, and some ways I'm definitely not.

  • 30-something, married with two kids
  • Two-income family (sort of)
  • Two cars, one of which is a minivan
  • Living in a 3/2 ranch on a small lot in a midsize American town
  • Want to lose weight
  • Want to be more organized
  • Want to be more spiritual
  • Think I might someday write a novel
  • Have a treadmill gathering cobwebs in my garage
  • Have a love-hate relationship with the whole Oprah phenomenon
  • Have a love-hate relationship with the whole scrapbooking phenomenon
  • Love me some Target clearance
  • Have weird dreams

Not Normal

  • Mormon
  • Mormon liberal
  • Unexplained soft spot for West Africa
  • Transracial-adoptive parent
  • Two gay brothers
  • Eat tofu regularly
  • Went to high school in Alaska
  • Former theater person
  • Let my kids dress themselves -- in bulldog long johns and a fair isle sweater vest, if they choose
  • Like opera and bluegrass
  • Do not own any real sofas, just a futon and a hand-me-down hide-a-bed
  • Have weird dreams and tell people about them

Friday, January 20, 2006

Vegetarian alfredo

I bought a bunch of tofu on sale for 99 cents. Then I had to figure out what to do with it. I found a recipe for tofu alfredo on Spark People and modified it a little bit ... with trepidation. But (ta-dah!) it was actually good! Here's what I did before having B's book club at my house last night, which by the way will be a post unto itself.

For the tofu, I think you could use any firmness; you're just going to puree it anyway, and although people usually recommend soft or silken tofu for that, I happened to have extra firm and it worked fine.

I used canned chicken broth, but if you're a real vegetarian obviously you're not going to want to do that. This would be a vegan recipe if you did that, then skipped the cheese. It would still be very good. The garlic and oil and the salt from the broth somehow make the tofu taste quite cheesy even without cheese. Cheesy is good, in my book.

Tofu Alfredo with Peas

1 lb spiral pasta, cooked (Eden Organic, I tell ya, it's good stuff)

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large cloves garlic, rough chopped

1 lb tofu
1 1/3 c broth or stock of your choice

1/2 bag frozen petite green peas

Grated Parmesan cheese

Saute onion and celery in olive oil in a large skillet until softened. Add garlic and stir one minute. Don't burn the garlic!

Place sauteed vegetables in your blender along with tofu and broth. Puree.

Return to skillet over low heat. Add peas. Heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over pasta, with parmesan cheese if desired. (You could puree the cheese in with the sauce, but I love my parmesan so much I like to know exactly where it is. I think that way I can enjoy it better.)

Baby salad greens with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar on the side make it a perfect meal. So very healthful!

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I've been neglecting the blog. Here's a little list to tell you all why.
  • Life is boring and good. Nothing to witch about.
  • Work is busy and good. No time to write.
  • I moved my office to campus. I work on campus! Wahoo!
  • I now share an office again. Makes me a little more self-conscious.
  • I thought my 4 year old was having surgery, so I was planning to catch up the blog while he was recuperating.

The surgery got postponed. So here I am, catching you all up. But there's not much to catch up on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Theories about Mosiah's childhood

What's the deal with King Benjamin? Was he around when his kids were little? I mean, what with the kingdom and the gardening and everything, did he even have a clue? I wonder what his wife thought when she heard him deliver his famous sermon.

Sometimes when people get old they forget what reality felt like when they were the parents. One time in Sunday School a lady in our ward was asked to talk about supporting her husband when he was serving in the Church. He was a stake president when they had eight children at home. She spoke about how she tried to keep the house orderly, peaceful and welcoming. Her husband, sitting by mine, leaned over and whispered, "It was never really like that." Haha ...

Or maybe Mosiah was an only child.

Seriously, does anyone -- anyone! -- have kids (plural) who don't fight with each other?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


To make up for yesterday's very sinful recipe, here is a new Web site you can join. It has good tools for tracking food and exercise, plus some healthy recipes that look pretty good. I'm going to try one tonight.

They are giving away free memberships right now, so hurry up! And when they ask who referred you, say anangandi. Yes, like the They Might Be Giants song. I will get points. Points are good for me, because I have my little OCD number thing going on. Points! Points! Points!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Diet buster

I have made two batches of this in the last two days. My excuse: My skinny 6 year old needs the calories. And I have to, you know, make sure it's safe to eat and everything.

Peanut Butter Popcorn

12 c air-popped popcorn

1/4 c butter, very soft
1/2 c light corn syrup
1/2 c brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c peanut butter

Combine butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in a large, glass bowl. Whisk to combine. Microwave on high 3 minutes. Stir in salt, vanilla and peanut butter. Microwave on high 1 more minute. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


I should just accept the fact that my kids will always be funnier than I am.

Last night, Abe was talking about hiding (I can't remember why). Here's the conversation:

DH: Just don't hide in the wardrobe.

Abe: What? (he's a little deef -- ear surgery coming up 1/18)

DH: You know, the wardrobe. You might end up in Narnia.

Abe: I could never go to Narnia.

DH: Why?

Abe: They don't fart in Narnia.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Feeling clever

I am writing an article about a professor who studies antibiotic resistance. I thought of the best title for it:

"The War on Bugs"

Thank you, I'm here all week.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Two by Allende

It's been a very long time since I did a book post!

After reading Isabel Allende's Zorro last summer, I wanted more. I ordered The House of the Spirits, knowing it was an earlier work and expecting a different view of the author. That's definitely what I got, in a very good way.This book is a sprawling, deliciously sensuous epic of Chile -- of family, politics, love, magic and violence. Rich in symbols but also engaging in its plot and characters, it was not an easy read like Zorro. It was slow going. It didn't bother me. If you want a book to consume you for a few weeks, rather than a few days, this is a good one. Allende, quite a young writer when she created Spirits, does an amazing job tying up all her foreshadowings and warnings throughout the book to make a cohesive narrative that unifies multiple points of view and suppositions with a sense of unified purpose. Pulling those ends together made it really enjoyable to finish.

I finished Spirits on our Thanksgiving trip to Utah and left my copy there for my parents to read. They both loved Zorro, and my dad does a lot of consulting work for a Chilean mining company, so I thought he'd enjoy this fantasia on the recent history of that land. Then, while D.I. shopping with my expert mother, I happened on The Stories of Eva Luna for 75 cents. Happy accident! A book of shorts was a perfect read for me during the busy holiday season -- I just read a story at night before going to sleep, almost every night. Interestingly enough, while I saw elements of Spirits echoed in the short stories (characters with similar traits and habits, most often) the writing was quite opposite. Where Spirits sprawled luxuriously over decades with minute detail and deep explorations of characters' innermost thoughts, Stories is spare, direct, and powerful in that way. Often on finishing a story I found myself thinking what an amazing feature film it could make. Yet these stories were only a few pages long each! She pinpoints the powerful elements of each little narrative so precisely, it makes you feel like you've read something much bigger.

So -- hope somebody picks these two up. It was great fun to read them together and I don't think I'm quite done with Allende yet!

Monday, January 02, 2006

This should be no surprise

I'm having trouble focusing at work.

Here's a recipe. Or two. These originally came from Cooking Light magazine, which I read on a slightly delayed schedule by picking up my mom's old copies in stacks whenever I visit.

Mandarin Orange Chicken
1.5 lbs chicken breast tenders
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 c orange marmalade
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp corn starch
1 sm can mandarin oranges, drained
salt and pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in large skillet in olive oil over high heat, 4 minutes each side. Meanwhile, mix jam, juice, mustard and corn starch in a small bowl. When chicken is browned, pour jam mixture over. Reduce heat and cook 12-15 minutes more. Gently stir in oranges just before serving.

Almond Rice
4 c hot cooked rice (you know my favorite, Lundberg Farms short grain brown)
1 scallion/green onion, white and green parts, sliced thin (I'm East- and West-coast friendly)
1/4 c sliced almonds

Mix together before serving. Great with the chicken and a fresh green veggie like snow peas or broccoli on the side. Maybe a little soy sauce as well -- what can I say, I'm my father's daughter!

By the way, I bought some Chinese soy sauce. It was cheaper than La Choy or whatever. (A great advantage of living in a really diverse place is that the ethnic foods sections in the regualr supermarket are awesome! We get great Asian and Mexican ingredients at Albertson's or Food4Less.) Anyway this soy sauce is like syrup! Very dark and thick. Very tasty. Just don't use too much!

And barring any unforeseen events, I will do a book post next time I write. Two by Allende! Lots of fun!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ring in the new

I did it by sleeping for 3 hours this afternoon. How about you?

My plans for 2006:
  • Keep losing weight. It's so nice not to have to make habit changes. I'm already doing what I need to do! I am down 12 pounds from my high weight and 9 pounds from where I was in October when I started Body for Life.
  • Kick start my personal scripture study. It has languished since I started working in July 2004. I can tell the difference.
  • Buy a gosh darn house. We have a strong candidate here in our neighborhood, currently owned by some friends who want to do a deal with no realtors and save us all some dough. It's not quite as cute as our current rental, but we can make it that way in time!
  • Support dear husband in some crazy plans that he has made me promise not to tell about. Ooooooooohhhhh, suspense! Let's just say, if it works, we will be in Merced permanently, and that would be a good thing.
  • Get dear husband to start supporting my in my crazy plans to put some more kids in this family. Officially, at our last conversation, we agreed to discuss it again in January with the aim of making a decision about how to move forward. It's January, but I don't want to seem pushy. Maybe we can talk tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow -- I'll be back at the office. Seems kind of surreal.