Friday, March 31, 2006

Uncertainty is sometimes better

Remember last week when I was complaining about uncertainty? I take it back. Sometimes it is better when you can still hope for the best. It's giddy fun to imagine all the positive things that can happen, when you are uncertain.

G did not get the job he interviewed for last Friday. They sent a skinny little rejection letter. It cannot have gone out any later than Tuesday -- it arrived yesterday. That kind of speed somehow makes me think that their interview process was a sham, that they had already decided who they were going to hire and that it was probably the part time geology teacher they already have. Who, we have on good authority, is boring and not particularly liked by students.

I'm so sad for G. I'm so worried that he is going to be depressed. He really, really thought he had this one nailed. His application rocked (I should know) and he said his interview went well. He felt so good about it. I told him I know how he feels. "I know you do," he said.

Well, anyhow, happy Cesar Chavez's birthday. I have the day off work and am planning to sew tutus all the livelong day. And direct lots of good thoughts toward my husband and pray for him in my heart. It sucks to be crushed.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Magazine review and brownie recipe

So many moons ago, Sally Lou gave me a subscription to Organic Style. I lurved it even though I am not really all that organic. I am kind of dabbler-organic. Anyway. Organic Style ceased publication. But not before they had a big article on Moby's earth-friendly home which was really cool. Sally and I were sad.

The publisher promised to send us another magazine instead. And it took a while, a long while, but they finally did. Actually they sent me two. Sally, I hope you got two, as well.

The first one is Organic Gardening. Which, okay, that's good. I have peas and lettuce growing right now. Good springtime veggies.

The second one is the one I'm enthused about, and brace yourselves, it's a food magazine. Everyday Food. And it's made by Martha Stewart Omnimedia, otherwise known as the Spawn of Satan. I had a conversion away from MS Living about 7 years ago. Thank goodness, because those irresponsible, unrealistic, destructive visions of perfection would have made the rude awakenings of motherhood even more miserable for me.

Confessing: I still get Better Homes Than Yours. But it's a cheap destructive vision, at least.

But Everyday Food is ... a really good magazine. Simple recipes with easy-to-find ingredients, great styling, nice photography and layout, and cute petite size. Go getcherself one.

Speaking of my dabbler-organicness:

Yesterday when I was playing hooky ... I mean, staying home with a sick child -- I made up a new brownie recipe. It's kind of a cross between brownies and granola bars. I can't decide whether to call them Mama's Sneaky Snacks, or Crunchy Conservatives. I'm not really a crunchy conservative, more like a crunchy moderate/liberal. But that name is just so funny. Anyway the brownies are good, I promise! The kids and husband ate them all gone last night!

Baby X Brownies (because I can't decide on a name)

1 c butter
2/3 c white sugar
2/3 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c white flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour (this is where we start getting crunchy, folks)
1/2 c soy flour
1/2 c flax meal
2 c rolled oats
2 tbsp sesame seeds (crunchy portion over)
1/4 c dry cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 bag semisweet chocolate chips (about 6 oz)

Heat oven to 375.

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla. Add all dry ingredients except chocolate chips and blend well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread dough evenly in an ungreased 9x13" baking pan. If you have trouble with this (I did) place a sheet of wax paper over the dough and press it lightly into the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Unwanted milestone

Someone called my son a n****r yesterday.

He asked us after Family Home Evening what the word meant. Repeated it so innocently, wondering why someone would call him a name he didn't even know the meaning of. Once we told him -- that's a word from very bad times when people used to hate people with brown skin, and no one should ever, ever call you that word -- he backed right off. And this is a child who delights in certain other cusses -- repeats them with gleeful abandon.

(He especially loves the word ass, ever since one of his afterschool program teachers unthinkingly played the kids the song "1985" by Bowling for Soup. Silly me, I thought it might help demystify the whole thing if I explained the lyric "She was gonna shake her ass on the hood of Whitesnake's car." I even played the kid a Whitesnake song. It didn't help.)

We told Sam that if it happened again, we needed to hear about it. That we would help. My friend V has been through this a couple of times before -- talked to the principal at her kids' school in semi-rural northern Utah. The principal talks to the parents of the little offenders. I think that's a good plan. I'd like to think that most parents are not the source of this kind of language, that they would want a chance to counteract what their kids are almost certainly getting from TV, movies, music and so on. And if the parents are teaching this garbage, I hope and pray they are duly and deeply shamed.

Sam doesn't know the kid who called him the N word. He wouldn't tell us whether it was at school, on the bus, or at the afterschool program. He is an internal processor. Once he had the information he wanted from us, he retreated to his room to play with his brother. It makes me glad he has a sibling who shares his African American heritage, at least in part.

That sibling -- Abe is only almost 5 -- picked up on the theme. He came in and told us about "Saint Luther King" and how all children of all colors should play together. Blessings on the heart and mind of a four year old child.

This is a first for us. But it's a day we've always known would come, something we knew we couldn't shelter our kids from forever.

I'm just sad that it arrived. I was hoping it wouldn't be so soon.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday dinner

I'm big into my Sunday dinner. We used to have it at my parents' house every week, back when we lived in Salt Lake. That's probably the thing I miss most about living there.

I heard a great segment on A Chef's Table on NPR yesterday about Sunday dinner in an Italian family. I loved the description of the slow rhythm of the day, the flow of family into the house, the smells of food enticing all comers.

In a Mormon family it's a little different -- you usually have to spend some time away from the house, and consequently the food, before Sunday dinner. If you're on the afternoon schedule (1 to 4 p.m.) you probably make Sunday dinner in the crock pot, or a slow-roasted hunk of beef in the oven, or something like that.

Fortunately, we are on a permanent 10 a.m. schedule in our ward. To me, this is perfect. We share the building with the Spanish branch, and they prefer the afternoon schedule. They can have it, as far as I'm concerned. That way I have the afternoon free to cook.

Yesterday I dreamed up this combo. I think if I were doing it again I might try to add some kind of mint pesto. But it was pretty good the way it was. 3 simple recipes, just for you:

Roasted Chicken with Moroccan Spices

1 3-4 lb. chicken, washed and patted dry
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Heat oven to 375. Mix all your spices together in a small bowl. Loosen the skin of your chicken over the breast portion. Rub spices under skin. Make slits in the skin at the base of the chicken legs and rub some spices in there, too. Rub any remaining spices on top of the skin. Place chicken in a baking pan and cover with a loose tent of foil. Bake for 90 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15-30 more minutes, depending on whether your chicken is closer to 3 pounds or closer to 4.

Greekish Salad
Do this while the chicken is baking. Then go take a nap.

1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 c black olives, drained
1 c cherry or grape tomatoes
1 small cucumber, sliced
1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper in 1/2 - 1" dice
1 small package feta cheese
2 tbsp cider vinegar (get unprocessed organic; it's SO good for you!)
2 tbsp water
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients.

Fruited Couscous
Do this after you take the foil off the chicken

1 box whole wheat couscous

1/2 c raisins, chopped
1/2 c dried apricots, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange

3 c water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Combine fruits and citrus zests in a small bowl. Bring water, olive oil and salt to boil over high heat. Pour in couscous and stir to break up lumps. Add fruit mixture. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Leftovers make an excellent breakfast cereal with a little sugar and milk added!

By the way, every Conference Sunday the Spanish branch hosts a potluck at the stake center in between sessions. Can you spell excited? No? How about mole? I'll give you a hint: it starts with Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Prototype tutus

Once again I am stuck with pictures off the videocamera. However, I think buying a decent digital cam for home use is going to be low priority for a while yet.

These are the first two tutus. Say that ten times fast! The waistbands are grosgrain ribbon, fully elasticized. The skirts are sparkle tulle. I did the colors I thought would be least popular first in case I messed up. I didn't mess up, though. That's stunning in and of itself. I also have peachy coral (my favorite color!) and a pretty aqua set to go, and I ordered some more ribbons in lavender and pink since these were going so well. Let's be honest, lavender and pink are going to be the hot sellers. And I got some cute ditsy prints to mix and match for when I run out of grosgrain.

I am thinking about pricing these at $7-8 apiece, or 3 for $20. (There will also be coordinating wands and crowns, so a set of 3 would be a complete ensemble.) Got any feedback on the pricing?

You know you want these, all you moms of girls. Fairy Shrimp Festival is in Merced on April 22. I will be selling these sets and some gorgeous handmade jewelry from my buddy Dana in Spanish Fark. And maybe a quilt or two from Sally if she so deigns. Come one, come all!

As for me, I am just having fun finding a place to put all my girly energy. And feeling grateful that my mom got me a new sewing machine last year. And dreaming about brown-skinned babies.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Chasm, or crazy B strikes again

Book club was last night. We read another DB book that had a mix of good ideas and nonsense. And we had more intense, insightful conversation.

Here's the nugget that struck me (and once again it occurred entirely outside our discussion of the book). Sometimes we just have to take a tiny step, and then the doors fling open and we see. Sometimes we just have to fall to our knees, or turn on the Conference broadcast, or make that one hard decision, and then the blessings come raining down. Sometimes we have to jump headlong into the chasm.

Oh, and I read Bek's blog yesterday. She's thinking about Africa, too. Inspiring, yep. It helps that she has an amazingly cute boy that reminds me how very munchy I have become. (CHEEKS! YUMMY!)

So here's what I'm looking at today, although it's a tiny bit embarrassing when I am here in the office and the tears begin to well up. Sometime I will have to tell you the whole story of my mysterious West Africa inklings that have been going on for almost 7 years now.

Going through the fee list, I'm estimating $14,880. Crazy idea. Wonderful. Anybody got good fundraiser ideas for after I finish my first ancillary crazy idea (making children's fairy princess dress-ups) for the campus arts and crafts festival next month?

Oh, and I'm still waiting for a report on G's interview this morning. It started 2 hours ago but I don't want to call him in case he is still in the interview.

Nothing like standing on the brink of a big, fat chasm!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Moon, by S

Original spelling preserved

Wen I went to the moon I drov the moon boge (buggy) and then I went to the sun

I diged insid the senter of the sun it was hot and I sea a terex it melted

Ten I went to the top of the sun tear was soler flames

I wen back to the moon I found a shock gun I pickt it up I shot aleens

I found a laser and a chez (?) floting then and I mad sords and fier scorpeens

I had a good time

I went to Ploodoe and looked at the moon

Then I went to Venes and the gas planets.


I'm almost 32, and I'm wondering when the heck I am going to be able to chart a life path. I have heard of people who have five-year plans or ten-year plans. I don't even have a five-month plan. And for that I blame my husband.

I don't mean to complain. I'm married to a very smart and faithful guy who works hard and loves his family and has his priorities in order. But he is also a guy who takes 3 hours to find hiking boots at REI. (This really happened; unfortunately for everyone involved G was with my dad on that shopping trip. The family will never let him live it down.) So if a footwear decision takes 3 hours, just imagine how excruciating it can be to make decisions like -- oh, what to do for a career, for example.

Yes, he has a field. He's a hydrologist, or more specifically, a hydrogeochemist. He's about two-thirds of the way to a Ph.D. He's spent four years working as a consulting engineer. He's no dummy, and he's accomplished some good things.

But right now he seems to be at a crossroads. He has this interview at the community college tomorrow. He loves teaching and he loves the idea of having an academic job without the pressure to publish he'd find at a university. He has a lot of great ideas for things he could do there. Community colleges in California pay pretty well, so that's not a huge concern.

But then yesterday he had a meeting with some of his research colleagues from Livermore and got re-energized about what he's doing in that arena. He said, "I get all excited when I talk to people about research, but then I just don't like going and doing it." He also said, "I'm at a place where I'm realizing I could really blossom in research if I wanted to."

I think the issue is that he is profoundly gifted at interpersonal relationships -- collaboration, discussion, brainstorming ... those are some of his biggest strengths. And because of that, working as a solitary scientist doesn't satisfy him in the least. He accuses me of making everything into a mental health diagnosis, and he's partly right, but I think I'm also right on this.

I wonder if a real research career would really be as lonely for him as being a Ph.D. student. I think there's a possibility he could structure a career like that in a more social way, a way that he would enjoy more. I wonder if he would regret jumping that track for a career at the community college, if he is selling his intellectual abilities a bit short. He is starting to wonder if he would really be able to finish the doctorate after starting another job.

The good thing is that once he does finish the degree, he can still jump ship, theoretically, if he decides he wants to go back into research. He can always frame the community college job as something he was doing to support his family during the last phase of his doctoral research.

But really, that just prolongs my agony. I'm getting tired of wondering when my "real life" is going to start. Selfish me.

After all that ... let's all wish G good luck for his interview tomorrow, and better luck at the temple today trying to sort it all out.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

An American Idol blog

Okay, I can't resist. Because I just have to know if anybody else noticed the things I noticed.

I missed Mandisa, which makes me sad. I have been starting to really like her the last couple of weeks.

Came in for Bucky and hated it. It's a shame because the guy has a GOOD voice but he just can't find a place for himself within these last two categories.

Paris was absolutely outstanding tonight, I LOVED her. Finally! There was just not a single flaw in that performance. She is adorable and really put it all together tonight.

Taylor was okay, I thought that was a poor song choice because it gives so much time to the band. Every phrase is followed by equal time of instrumentals, KWIM? It did not give him time to shine. I loved when he had the sax player come out. I can see where he would be better and more comfortable leading a huge band onstage and really bringing it all together. I did not see the energy I saw last week from Taylor.

Katherine was also fabulous. Her voice is just amazing. However, she bugged me when she started talking about double stick tape and "feeling free." Um, yeah, she just got the guy vote. Not that any guys are admitting to watching AI but come on.

Lisa, MEH, she is another one who has a lot of talent but has not really found a place for herself. She is kind of like a black 21st century Debbie Gibson, and I just don't know if that will fly in the music market today. Sadly.

Kevin ... it was not a great vocal but it was the most honest and appealing that I have seen him. I hate him a lot less after tonight. It helped to get his bangs up off his forehead. (We call that "Bim Bangs," from when my nephew Ben used to call himself Bim when he was 2 and had hair like that.)

Chris. Oh, Chris. My boyfriend Chris. You are a freaking plagiarist and I am utterly disappointed. For those who are not aware, he totally did Live's version of that song. Look it up on Rhapsody or iTunes if you don't believe me!!! Last week he did it with Chili Peppers but at least then he gave credit. This week, he just totally lifted it and let everybody give him the credit for "making it his own." I'm so sad that someone so hot, with such a good voice, could have so little of his own creativity. It also makes him look really ignorant, that the only Stevie Wonder song he knew was one done by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the only 50s song he knew was one done by Live. Boo! On the bright side, my DH is now feeling a little less insecure when I am watching AI. LOL ...

Eliot, vocally very impressive but did not really connect with the audience. And he still looks like he walked right off the set of O Brother Where Art Thou, which I can't really get over. Sorry but it's true.

Kellie, I loved the song she chose and I can't find too much fault with her vocal, within its genre, even though it's not really my thing. I actually do like Patsy Cline, though. Anyway there was just a little weird pronunciation going on when she kind of half-yodeled some of the really strong notes in the back of her throat. But overall the performance was good. It's just that she is a total stupid, annoying bimbo who cannot shut up to save her life, and I hate her. Nothing can be done about it.

Ace. I can hardly hear him over the insistent beeping of the gaydar. Not that there's anything wrong with that ... hahaha! And there were a lot of pitch problems in that song, and I'm surprised nobody really seemed to notice. Didn't really like it, at all. Sorry to the cute 7yo girl who announced him.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Nature in the bathroom

This is not about what you think it's about.

My kids are in the tub. They just called me in, all panicked. There was a little spider on the wall in the corner by the tub. Fearless and pragmatic woman that I am, I picked it up with a wad of toilet paper and flushed it without a second thought.

SAM: Mom, why does it always recall death whenever you see a spider?

MOM: What? (This child likes to experiment with vocabulary and sentence structure, and sometimes I have to do a double take to decipher him.)

SAM: You're destroying nature, you know.

ABE: Yeah, you're killing one of God's creatures.

SAM: That's like you're really killing someone.

MOM: No, it's a bug. Does it pay rent? No. It does not belong here.

Aren't I doing a good job rearing compassionate, earth-friendly children?

Ana needs

This is a lazy post but for some reason I found this really funny.

Go google your name, plus the word "needs." You have to put it in quotes, so for example, I googled "Ana needs" You will learn all kinds of things about yourself.

Here's what I found.

Ana needs more work on prepositions
Ana needs a lot of listening practice
ANA needs your help to secure an increase in funding for the nursing education
ANA needs to ship me back to Shanghai the same day
Ana needs to be on the street
Ana needs to stop frontin'
Ana needs to be evaluated and treated
Ana needs more – she needs an education so that she can have a better life
Ana needs to play better, but unfortunately I think she can't do any better these days
Ana needs to call DCF and give them permission to file a report with police
Ana needs to now learn how to drive
Ana needs cash
Ana needs to cook breakfast for the entire family
Ana needs a job
Ana needs a forever family
Ana needs to lend me a husband
Ana needs more affection
Ana needs an answer
ana needs some love
ana needs personality
Ana needs money to put in a pot towards a nice camera this summer
Ana needs to read the music
Ana needs someone tough
Ana needs to take time off
Ana needs to get back to her garage to sell a car to a rich sugarcane mill owner
Ana needs to write a 3-page report about a national park for her Geography class
Ana needs a Police Chief
Ana needs way more time to chill
Ana needs some time to finish a work she has been doing for a long time
Ana needs to spend more time in the company of her own kind
Ana needs to be bi7ch slapped. just slap her face and take those guns away from her
Ana needs healing and salvation

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The good stuff

Well, there's plenty of crap going on. But in the spirit of keeping my dirty laundry to my own darn self until I can at least get a start on it, I'm going to tell you instead that I am ROCKING my Saturday today.

So far I've cleaned both bathrooms, changed all the sheets, started the laundry, taken out the trash and picked up and vacuumed the bedrooms. All of which sorely needed to be done. Last week I did no house chores (went to the temple with the youth and worked on taxes instead) and it was ugly... do you have any idea of the amount of hair that can accumulate in a bathroom over two weeks? Ewwwwwwww! Once I got my bathroom clean I also took a shower. Nice to take a shower in a clean bathroom for a change.

Going shopping with SalGal this afternoon (the day for our much-anticipated Kohl's trip has finally arrived!) so I have to earn it a little bit!

And I feel free to shop because our tax refund is freaking HUGE! Our last credit card will be paid off as soon as we get it, and we will have the money to fix my car! WAHOO!

(Stay focused on that, rather on the school's threat that if someone continues his oppositional behavior he will be suspended ... and the teacher noticed that he cut his hair and I didn't have time to fix it for two days ... yes, thank you, I am the mother of the year. I dare you all to come live in my house and see what it's like. When I have processed this stuff a little more I will do a better post about it.)

Monday, March 13, 2006

The bag's off the cat

Glenn told his advisor today, so this means I can tell people too: He's interviewing for a faculty position at our local community college.

He really, really wants it. After spending a couple of bored and lonely years solely on research, he was a changed man when he got back into the classroom this past fall. He loves it. He is a brilliant teacher and a real people person. Today as I was driving past the canal on campus I saw him showing his Environment in Crisis students how to collect water samples. He was really in his element and I just thought -- that is right.

So he's going for the community college job. And with the brazen bias only a wife can display, I have to say they would be idiots not to hire him. Beyond the fact that teaching is a gift for him, he is also incredibly smart, passionate, caring and well-connected. He can hook his students up with the US Geological Survey, the national labs at Livermore and Berkeley, not to mention our campus here.

Plus, summers off. For the first time in years I am thinking it might be smart for me to get a master's degree and try to get such a job myself. Can you imagine how much time we could spend at the beach, and how much we could save on daycare?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Reasons I loved "The Man Who Ate Everything"

I have been procrastinating writing this review because ... well, a lot of reasons, some of which you have presumably endured if you are still reading this blog after the last couple of days. But the simplest reason was that I wanted to include some quotations, and I have not been toting the book around with me.

As of today I'm ditching that plan and just writing about the book, because I already have another book in line to review. Going to bed for two days in protest of cosmic injustice can really help you get a jump on your reading list. For that reason I recommend it.

So here is why I really liked the Steingarten book.

  • Funnier than crap, and by this I mean funny enough that I had to read parts of it out loud to my poor husband to try to justify my out-loud chuckles
  • The man loves ketchup in a serious way, which is really important because I am someone who likes ketchup on scrambled eggs, especially if there are also pancakes and bacon and maple syrup on the plate
  • Actually made me think Italian white truffles could be worth a try at $350 for a 7 ounce jar (although with my limited resources as described two days ago, it's not going to be happening)
  • The chapter about fruitcake. This was the part I really wanted to quote. He writes the most hilarious description of Mormon women giving each other treats at Christmas time. It is the best example of respectful and affectionate mockery I have ever seen, and I hope that makes you want tor read it. But if you want to do so I guess you are just going to have to get the book yourself since I am not lugging the tome to work anytime in the near future, and really, honestly, who has time to blog at home?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

If I don't want to sink

Here is what I have to do.
  • Exercise every day
  • Read scriptures every day
  • Pray every day -- for real, not for rote
  • Eat appropriate foods
  • Focus and be productive at work and at home

Isn't it funny that these are the things you feel the very least like doing when you think you might be sinking?

Wouldn't it be swell if going to bed for a few days really actually helped?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


So I decided to blog some important stuff tonight after all, since my skinny freak of a husband is at the gym and I'm all alone with my Coldplay. I'm mostly writing this for me. I'm happy to consider any advice and comments, but I'm not counting on finding a solution right now, so please don't feel like you have to find me one. I'm considering all this to be an experiment in which I do not yet have all the data. And it's just at a particularly mysterious and frustrating stage in its development.

A week ago tonight I started to believe in the impossible.

I was doing my standard prayer for eight or nine days past ovulation. "Well, Heavenly Father, I'm not expecting a lot, but if I could turn up pregnant this month ... well, if you wanted to make me really happy, you know what to do."

And I really had a transcendental experience. That burning in the bosom that I was drilling down into my heart looking for a week before thinking about different roads to adoption? There it was, when I was thinking in my usual self-conscious, mostly-dismissive, barely-hopeful way about a miracle pregnancy.

I never felt that way when we were actively trying to conceive. I never had a spiritual hope to cling to related to pregnancy. One of the hardest and best lessons I learned during that time was that real hope is anchored in only One Thing, in the Atonement of Christ. And yet, all these years after we hopped off that train, here was hope, tied to a very different idea.

Following that, of course, I found some physical symptoms to corroborate my feelings. I was giddy and serene at the same time. Friday I had the same spiritual impressions during my evening prayer. Add stunned to the list of feelings.

Saturday I worked up the guts to tell my husband, and that was not easy. When he got off the fertility train he cursed it and shook off the dust of his shoes with a few choice cuss words on the way out. I, on the other hand, have the train schedule tattooed on my uterus, so it's a little different. But he was good. He agreed that I should do a home pregnancy test.

And then suddenly I realized how absolutely terrified I felt. I've taken those tests before. I've never, ever passed. I could just imagine an emotional setback of ... oooh, eight years or so. Back to the bad, really bad days where I just wanted to sleep, only sleep, until I could wake up and find the whole nightmarish experience overwith. Kind of like a mild, chicken-crap version of suicidal. Some people reading this will understand how scary that was, and some will not. To me it was so scary that I stayed in bed most of the day Saturday.

At the same time I felt a kind of wonder, amazement that impossible things could really happen, and that we could know about them only through a spiritual witness. I thought to myself that I was really learning something important.

Sunday morning I took the test. Single line, same old story. Double failure, I started to bleed. Bonus! I wasn't even supposed to start until Tuesday! I stayed in bed most of the day Sunday. Oh, except for the part where I lost it in sacrament meeting. I'm so glad we sit in the back row!

Sunday afternoon I got tired of bed, and I got up and went to a dinner for some friends who are moving out of state. The cramps hit as soon as I sat down, and I grimaced through the evening.

Monday I stayed home from work and painted all day. That was therapeutic, just zoning out and painting. Yesterday and today I have been too busy to think or hurt. But my questions are not answered.

Would God really tell me something untrue? Would He jerk me around, crush my heart on purpose? And if so, why? A broken heart is open to His words, says the more spiritual part of me. Maybe now the other answers I've been yearning for will start to come.

At the same time, my dark side wonders, have I been mistaken all these years about the way I feel the Spirit? What about all the other impossible things I've been believing because of the way I felt? What if all those feelings are no more true than what I was feeling last week? Because I'll tell you what, they felt pretty much the same.

Don't tell me what to do

Something I've noticed about myself: I do not like to be bossed around.

My poor husband.

He wonders if I'm going to the gym, and I'm automatically like, what makes it your business? Okay, just because you want me to go, I am going to stay home and eat ice cream! You go to the gym yourself, you skinny freak!

He wonders how much money we have, ($168, and yes I know it's only the 8th of the month; there's a deposit coming ...) and I immediately insist that there is no way in he** I am going to call him when I find a bargain down to the Target to see if I can get it.

Something tells me this is not healthy behavior.

I have way more deep and important stuff to blog about, but I cannot really cope with it at the moment, and this is about the best I can do.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Pictures of the furniture in question (see post below)

Here are some pictures of the furniture I'm planning to paint, just so you can give your informed, expert opinion about what I should do. You'll have to forgive the image quality; I don't have the good camera at home with me today and had to take these with my camcorder. Which will do in a pinch, but I have gotten a tad spoiled for the Canon from work. Anyway, you can see the fabric I'm planning to use to reupholster the seats. You can also see a glimpse of the icky fabric in the corner of the table pic. ICKY! Even ickier since my family got hold of it, as you can imagine.

Looking forward to hearing your opinion ...

Zoom zoom zoom

Today I am at home, supposedly caring for my little potato who is recovering from ear/throat surgery. He is pretty independent, though. So I decided to tackle a project I've been wanting to get started on for, oh, forever.

Last summer we bought a dining set at a garage sale for $150. It is basically buttugly. Pickle finish, faux French country style, upholstered seats in pastel floral canvas.

I'm going to reupholster the seats in a brown and black wipe-offable leaf fabric (much friendlier for our spill-happy family) and paint the wood black. So today I sanded down two leaves, removed the seats of two chairs, took off the ugly fabric, and sanded the chairs. Super fun because I got to use my power drill to take out screws, and my new little Black & Decker "Mouse" pad sander. (Thus the zoom zoom title, although I do in fact also drive a Mazda.)

I need to go buy the black paint and stuff, and also a staple gun. Yay, more tools for me ...

But I have to decide something. Am I going to just paint it black, then sand off some of the black to shabby-chic it? Or am I going to do a crackle finish? Do you think the crackle finish is all overwith? Help me out here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Winter's last hurrah

We are having another stormy day. I hope this round of rain is our last. I know we need the snowpack and everything -- it's supposedly only at 80% of normal. But I need some SUNSHINE! Anyway, everything is looking green and lovely, so I suppose I shouldn't complain too much.

In the meantime, we have a little more time to eat nice warm, earthy foods. Here's some awesome pizza.

Pizza with sausage and caramelized onions

To start with, heat your oven to 375 degrees.

1 c very warm water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt

Stir together water, yeast and sugar. Allow to grow briefly. Add olive oil and white flour. Stir. Allow to bubble. Stir in whole wheat flour and salt to make a soft dough. Flour hands and pat into jellyroll-sized stoneware pan or on a large pizza stone. Prick at 1-2" intervals with a fork. Allow to rise while you make the filling.

Watch Out For Mama Hint -- when I make crust, I double it and freeze half the dough.

1 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil (optional -- you may or may not need it)
4 spicy Italian sausages (I used turkey Italian sausage)

2 chubby sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped from stems and chopped
8 oz mozzarella cheese
sliced olives (I hope you have some good ones; I just had regular ol' stick-em-on-your-fingers canned olives but they were still good!)

Over medium heat in a large skillet, brown the sausages whole. You don't have to cook them all the way at this point. Set aside.

Add olive oil to skillet if the sausages have not left enough fat. The turkey sausages didn't leave much. Cook onions until they are caramelized -- sweet, light brown and sooooo fragrant! Slice sausages and add to onions. Stir together until sausage slices are cooked through.

Spread the onion-sausage mixture over your pizza crust. Sprinkle with rosemary and olives. Top with cheese. Bake 20-30 minutes.

I actually did this with a tomato sauce but if I were doing it again I'd skip it. The onions have enough moisture and flavor that tomato is really a distraction.

Enjoy ... I'm really hungry now! Going out for Thai for lunch, yummy!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

We must love while these moments are still called today

That's a line from an old Indigo Girls song, "History of Us." And that's what I'm really giving today. Here's why.

Over at Mormon Mommy Wars, Heather O. is contemplating moving on from infertility treatment to adoption. I wrote a response about what that was like for me. Maria, another commenter, is exhausted from her treatments but afraid to adopt because of some negative personal experiences. I'm just hoping to provide a little balance. So, on with the story.

In April of 1994 I was 20 years old and had been married for 8 months. My parents announced that they would be moving to Utah that summer. My husband and I decided that since they would be there to support us, it would be a good time to start trying to conceive. One month passed, then another and another, with no pregnancy. Before we knew it a year had gone by. I went to the doctor and was told how to chart and promptly dismissed. After all, why should a 21 year old be worried about never having babies? But I had such a foreboding feeling -- it was very scary for me.

After another year I convinced G to get evaluated. There was our answer -- severe male factor IF. The news came during my last few weeks at BYU. It had not been a good semester; looking back, I think I was depressed.

Another full year went by and then he finally saw a urologist and had a varicocelectomy in August 1997. Then we got on the waiting list to see a reproductive endocrinologist that our insurance would cover for diagnostic work. Our first appointment with him was in June 1998. The surgery had helped enough that this doctor was willing to try some IUIs, which we started in August 1998. But by the time we had done 3 of these, we were emotionally exhausted. It had been 4.5 years since we started TTC and I could not take the roller coaster any more. We stepped off the ride and felt enormous relief.

We signed up with LDSFS. Their adoptive parent classes were very helpful and really changed our minds about openness with birthparents (we lost our fear), transracial adoption, and other topics. We went to these classes at the Salt Lake agency and made some great friends through them. We keep in touch with some of the other families to this day, and it is so wonderful to see families grow on what we all thought, at one point, was hopelessly barren ground.

We learned our file was approved on my 25th birthday, April 26, 1999. However I do not think they showed our file, because they knew we were planning to move that summer. I was reading the adoption boards on a lot by this time and one day in late June a fellow Utahn posted about a baby available in Chicago through an agency someone she knew had used, Global Adoptions. We felt so strongly about this situation, only to find after we made a decision over Independence Day weekend that the birthmom had decided to parent. It was confusing, but we were okay. Global called us again a couple of weeks later with two little girls in Utah, ages 3 and 5. They had some problems. We felt a bit blindsided; we'd never considered older-child adoption. But we decided to have LDSFS send our file. This situation was not matched with us, either, but because of it, our file was available when Sam's birthmom was ready to make her choice.

Global Adoptions called us on July 28 with the news that T had chosen us. At the time we thought they were going to induce labor on July 30 so we went into a frenzy of trying to prepare. In actuality, it took until August 19 and that was a killer time! In addition, Global Adoptions really dropped the ball. We later learned they were not in fact a licensed agency; their license had been revoked. They had misrepresented themselves. They also provided no services, only facilitation. They didn't even coordinate our services. Obviously not what I expected since I thought I was working with a licensed adoption agency. I was left doing that all myself during the stress of waiting and what came next. Not to mention, the adoption still cost us nearly $18K. Global later ended up in some legal trouble. Other people had experiences similar to ours and did not even end up with a baby ... so all things considered, we were very lucky/blessed.

When Sam was finally born we were in the middle of moving, plus we had not really understood what it meant to accept a risk placement and so we had said we would not do that. I think that if we had stuck with one agency we would have had better guidance. But it's water under the bridge, now. So he went into short term foster care in Milwaukee where he was born.

I went to stay with a friend in Milwaukee while DH moved our stuff from Salt Lake to St. Paul, MN, so I could meet Sam. I showed up on the foster family's doorstep with wet hair -- that's how excited I was to meet this babe. Eventually the foster family, devout Lutherans with three children and a lovely home in the Milwaukee suburbs, invited me to stay with them. They were just wonderful; their support meant the world to me at that time. I slept on the floor by Sam's crib for ten days.

T's termination of parental rights court hearing was scheduled for Sept. 22, so that was the day we thought we would take Sam home. She did not show up that day and I was very upset, very afraid that she was going to the foster family's home to pick him up and take him home, which she would have been well within her rights to do. But she didn't do that. She really just needed more time to make her choice and be sure of it.

A very sad story I learned later was that her family had not been aware of her pregnancy, contrary to what she had told her counselors. Just a few days before our rescheduled court hearing in October, T asked Sam's foster mother to bring him for a visit to her (T's) mother's home. When the foster mother showed up with this beautiful baby, T's mother, M, was completely surprised. But she could see right away that he was T's son. He is her spit and image to this day. M held him, rocked him, cried and said she wished she could keep him. But she couldn't. She was already rearing T's oldest son, who had been born when T was only 18. Three other boys were in the Wisconsin state foster care system, and T was raising her two year old daughter. There was such abundance of tragedy in this poor urban Black family.

We had a rescheduled court hearing on Oct 12 and that became Sam's gotcha day. What a tremendous relief! From that point there were no obstacles in our path. We finalized his adoption in Utah, where we had returned to live, and took him to be sealed to us in the Salt Lake Temple the following spring. Looking back, I think we thought we were going to the Midwest so DH could get a Ph.D. But in reality we were there for our oldest boy. All the schools he was considering that fall would have been within a day's drive of Milwaukee. We were able to spend every weekend there during the eight weeks he was in foster care. To this day he asks me to tell him the history of the fleece blanket and the stuffed plush puffin I brought him as his first gifts when he was four days old. I think that time we had during the first weeks of his life was really important.

In the fall of 2000, we started a file again with LDSFS. We figured there was no way our second adoption could move as quickly as our first -- less than 6 months from approval to adoption day. Little did we know!Around Christmas time I heard about a situation in Louisiana I wanted to be considered for, so I asked LDSFS to rush our approval. They were very kind to do so. They also seemed to realize a sense of urgency about this adoption and sent our file to all the places where they do the most transracial placements -- Louisiana, Detroit, Chicago, Texas and North Carolina. And there it was in NC just a couple of months later that Abe's birthmom, another "T" saw our file and knew right away that we were the family for her baby.The night before we found out we were matched with Abe, I had a dream that I should call our SW and give him my cell phone number. Slightly puzzled, I left him a message the next morning. That afternoon he called on my cell while I was online to read me a letter from T telling us she had chosen us. Just a little miracle, but a miracle to me!

Abe was born May 30, 2001 -- 5 months from the approval of our file. T placed him with us at the local church just after her release from the hospital. It was a very special and spiritual time for us. We were blown away at how smoothly this adoption went and how firm the birthmother's convictions were that she really needed to choose adoption for this little guy. It was a little more mysterious, because for several days I felt like I was holding a little stranger, where with Sam the bonding had been intense and immediate. I think with Sam I had so much mother-energy in reserve that it just rushed out of me and it was easy to jump into that role as his mother. With Abe I was a little more aware of how deep a bond could grow over years, and not feeling it yet was strange. But it grew very strong over several weeks.

Abe has always been an easygoing and sweet child. Sometimes I say that if he were my only one I would probably think I was the best mother in the world. He really is just eager to please and loves to be good. I love it. Sam has a little more spice -- something I didn't realize until I saw the contrast between him and his younger brother.

We have gone through some frustrating times -- we saw a child psychiatrist the winter Sam was 2 and Abe was a baby, because I just had no idea how to cope with a child as demanding and defiant as Sam while still caring for this vulnerable little baby who was learning to crawl, getting into his brother's toys, and bringing down some pretty heavy 2yo wrath. The psychiatrist helped, pronouncing Sam "exceptionally challenging, but exceptionally intelligent and loving." How I clung to those words! Because of his birthmother's situation, there are some things we will probably never know -- about prenatal substance exposure, for instance. In the fall of 2004 he was diagnosed with ADHD. Medication for that disorder has been a godsend for the mood of our family and for Sam's self esteem. He is now excelling academically, enjoying his friends, and doing great in general. He definitely still has spirit, and it can be tricky, but I love how independent and persistent he is, and I think those traits will serve him well in the future.

Abe's challenges, if you can call them that, have been nothing more than recurrent ear infections. He had surgery yesterday to put in some tubes and take out his big adenoids and tonsils, which his birthmom says she has, too. Abe is such a pleaser that I worry a bit about his teenage years. But he loves the right, and so I don't worry too much.

Sam's birthmom does not maintain contact with us, but I do e-mail her sister sometimes. We understand she (Sam's birthmom) is now in Arkansas. Abe's birthmom has become a dear friend. We visited with her when she went to Utah in October 2004.

Both our adoptions are transracial, which presents its own set of challenges. But this is getting out of control. I'll have to do transracial adoption another day.