Thursday, June 29, 2006


What would make a bunch of Mormon teenagers wear skirts, boots, long sleeves and hats to go hiking midsummer?

Pioneer Trek, of course.

I'm off to trek for the day as soon as my ride gets here. I get to play Mary Goble Pay in a skit, and sing a song for tonight's fireside.

Thankfully, it's just a day trip for me. I won't say I'd make a lousy pioneer -- I think I'd actually make a good one if I had to. But as long as I don't have to, I'll take my comfy bed and hot shower, plentiful food and air-conditioned house. I'll think about my pioneer ancestors as I walk and walk and walk ... on the treadmill.

Report on the day's activities coming tomorrow, I hope. I am also on deadline at work so it might be tight.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Diamond dilemma

So if you know me you might already know this story. It's not a big secret. The diamond I've been wearing on my married finger for the last couple of years is a big fat fake.

I originally had a very pretty little quarter-carat solitaire to go with my plain gold wedding band. G and I chose it together at the mall jeweler in Alaska in January 1993. It was the ring I always wanted, simple and small but very good quality.

And then life happened, kids happened, and I quit taking it in to be cleaned and re-pronged. I started forgetting to take it off before bed. Sometime around 2001, I went to bed with a diamond ring and woke up with a very prickly gold ring. I searched to no avail. It's possible the diamond went down the heat vent (or hent veet, as S called it in those heady days of funny toddlerisms). Never to be found.

I wore my plain gold band for a few years. I'd never had them fused (welded, or however they do that) because for the first couple of years of my marriage I was going to camp with the Young Women. I wanted to be able to remove the diamond for safekeeping in that situation and others but keep wearing the wedding band. And that came in handy after the hent veet incident.

But I missed the sparkle. I'm not a glitzy girl, honest! I hardly even have any other "real" jewelry. Plenty of glass and gemstones thanks to Dana (whose Charmed Designs blog is new at right, by the way) and the Silver Jewelry Club, but no expensive stuff. I did like that little diamond, though. I liked looking at it under bright lights, particularly in the temple. Something about that seems a little wrong but I swear to you it never looked prettier. There were rainbows in there.

So when I started working, one thing I wanted to do was to go sparkly again on the left ring finger. I opted for a tasteful fake. Okay, tasteful fakes are hard to find. I opted for a big fat fake. 2 carats of cubic zirconia on a gold plated band from Palm Beach Jewelry ran me about $60. The compliments poured in, I tell you. If I really like you I confided in you about the hent veet and the fakeness. If you didn't know until now ... sorry.

Actually I told almost everybody. If you've seen the darn thing and didn't know until now that it was fake, I would be very surprised. I realized I didn't want everybody to think I was a 2-carat diamond kind of person. It would have been a little ridiculous.

But a prong broke on the fake last week. So I am back to wearing the plain gold band, and I'm left with some interesting options.

1. Put my tail between my legs, head into a real jeweler, and get the prong fixed on the fake solitaire.
2. Get another fabulous fake-o.
3. Save pennies for a real quarter-carat to go in my original setting.
4. Just wear the darn band since I am obviously not responsible enough to own a real diamond OR a giant fake one.

What kind of sparkle do you think you'll see when you next meet me? Besides my stunning wit and personality, of course.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I taught S the premier school's out song. He can't quit singing it. It's as follows:

Ta-ra-ra-BOOM-dee-ay, we have no school today
Our teacher passed away, she died of tooth decay
We threw her in the bay, she scared the fish away
She's never coming out, she smells like sauerkraut!

He kind of mixes the phrases around and just sings at the top of his lungs however he manages to fit it all together. Brillant! Every child should feel this glee. I'm so glad G is staying home this week. Kids need real summer. Last year mine didn't get that, and yes, I felt guilty. This year, at least for a week, it's swimming and playing video games and begging for jobs to do to earn money. Or rather, the poker chips that pass for currency around this house. Currently my bathrooms are getting cleaned, kid style. This should be interesting.

G is home during the day; today I worked 7 to 4 and then came home take over while he had a meeting with his dissertation advisor.

As for me, I should go make dinner. I'm thinking Caesar pasta salad, maybe with some turkey pepperoni cut up in there. I have some lovely artichoke hearts and olives that I got at the dollar store, not to mention sweet little yellow and green summer squash from my beloved strawberry stand.

Everybody sing, Ta-ra-ra-BOOM-dee-ay! It's summer!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Power ingredients

I haven't done a recipe post in ages. With the kids gone, we've been trying to stretch our grocery budget, eating the food storage and such. That means the food just hasn't been as good lately, and I don't feel so much like showing off.

To make really great food, I rely a lot on what I think of as power ingredients. I'm talking about little things with a lot of flavor. These are my favorite things about cooking -- the small additions that make a dish really special. I thought it would be fun to do a post listing all the power ingredients I can think of. Because I've been missing them lately.

So, for your salivating pleasure,

Ana's Power Ingredients List
In no particular order

Fresh ginger
Pickled ginger
Sesame oil
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Sesame seeds
Flax meal (in baked goods)
Cheeses, especially bleu, parmesan, and feta
Nuts, especially almonds, pine nuts, peanuts and walnuts
All-natural peanut butter
Natural dried apricots or other fruits (no nasty sulfury ones)
Sun-dried tomatoes
Fresh herbs
Hot sauce
Flavored vinegars
Coconut milk
Corn chips (I hope you have all seen Nacho Libre by now)
Pepitas (hulled salted pumpkin seeds -- probably fried, but I am ignoring that)

And here is a good dressing I made to pep up a salad when I had very few power ingredients around:

Creamy Chili Vinaigrette

Combine in a blender:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 c vinegar (use water for part of it if you are using a really tangy vinegar like the organic cider vinegar I have been using lately)
1 tsp fresh chili powder (buy it in the little bags in the Mexican food section for 69 cents!)
1 tbsp light mayo
Salt and pepper to taste

Whip it up; serve it on a salad. Also makes a nice drizzle for grilled meats.

Better, of course, if the salad has bacon and avocados and pepitas.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How to get along with 16 women

Contrary to what you might think, this is not a polygamy post.

I work in an office with 3 men and 16 women. It's extremely female-friendly and mom-friendly around here. I love it. Nobody wears pantyhose. If I need to go pick up a sick child, everybody understands. If I run out of ibuprofen at a crucial time, I can usually find some within 3 requests.

The men in the office function very well in this estrogen-filled environment. One grew up with several sisters. The other two have daughters.

One man here in particular really has it down, I tell you. In his office are two big jars full of chocolate candy. Peanut M&Ms, almost always. Hershey's miniatures, and kisses almost always. I'm certainly not complaining about that. I love expensive chocolate, too, but I'm no chocosnob. I'll take the sugary Hershey's and M&M/Mars stuff, no problem.

But today, nestled in among the Mr. Goodbars and Krackels, a single Ghirardelli milk chocolate square.

I'll take that, thank you very much.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two-pronged update

Current kids:
I talked to my mom Saturday. It turns out that the trip they were going to take the kids on next week (to Steamboat Springs CO) would cost way more than they thought (they thought the kids could do activities for free while my dad has his meetings, but the kids activities would come to like $300) ... so we are going to beautiful Winnemucca on Saturday to pick up the kids (meeting them halfway). I am actually ready to see them ... miss my crazy boys.

Future kids:
I was in a meeting last week sitting by one of my co-workers ... the nicest man, about my dad's age. He was adopted as a baby and we have talked about adoption before. He asked me about my adoption plans ... I told him about my interest in adopting from Africa and the challenge of saving up the money to do it. Then I started telling him about a family from church who just took placement of an adorable 9yo boy through the foster care system and are hoping to adopt him. This guy pulls out of his pocket the card of the executive director of one of the foster programs up in Sacramento. "I had this in my pocket for a reason," he said. It gave me chills, honestly. I have not called her yet but now my plan is definitely thrown into question. I'm not sure what's supposed to come next.

The good news is when I went to the temple Friday (with my new friend M) I really felt the Spirit, in a way I have not felt it in a while. It's nice to know I still can feel that. Sometimes ... sigh, I wonder about myself. So maybe answers are coming. It's hard to be patient. Probably I need to have a real sit down with DH and tell him I need his help figuring out what to do.

Monday, June 19, 2006

In my head on a crazy day

Look this song up on your favorite online music service (I'm still a Rhapsody girl). It is beautiful, and profound. Yesterday I listened to it so many times G asked me if I wasn't starting to take myself a little too seriously. I just happened to think it was appropriate Sunday listening.

"Doubting Thomas" by Nickel Creek
(not Nickelback -- save me, please!)

What will be left when I've drawn my last breath
Besides the folks I've met and the folks who've known me
Will I discover a soul-saving love
Or just the dirt above and below me

I'm a doubting Thomas
I took a promise
But I do not feel safe
Oh me of little faith

Sometimes I pray for a slap in the face
Then I beg to be spared cause I'm a coward
If there's a master of death I bet he's holding his breath
As I show the blind and tell the deaf about his power

I'm a doubting Thomas
I can't keep my promises
Cause I don't know what's safe
Oh me of little faith

Can I be used to help others find truth
When I'm scared I'll find proof that it's a lie
Can I be led down a trail dropping bread crumbs
That prove I'm not ready to die

Please give me time to decipher the signs
Please forgive me for time that I've wasted

I'm a doubting Thomas
I'll take your promise
Though I know nothing's safe
Oh me of little faith

Oh me of little faith

Gonna scream

If you bang your head against the wall for long enough, eventually it will break and only then will you realize that it was a dam keeping you from drowning.

Just feeling a little overwhelmed at work today. Back to your regularly scheduled program.

Friday, June 16, 2006

This just in: The kids are actually being good

I talked with my dad last night. I could hardly believe my ears. Maybe the threat of having to come home early if they aren't good is actually motivating them to behave! I think I need to figure out something like that for our everyday life.

My dad told me all kinds of funny stories. For example, he had them helping weed the garden and he actually gave them hoes. Something I would probably never dare to do, because you know, those things are heavy and sharp. But of course they loved it. They were "killing" all the weeds with these fearsome weapons. I will leave the sound effects to your imagination. Lots of "chop chop" and "kill 'em." Ah, boys.

A found my mom's box of Halloween costumes. This has all the costumes from the childhoods of all six of us original kids. That's probably 6o+ Halloweens right there. Mom made a lot of the costumes herself. Some got recycled over the course of six kids, of course. But it is a dang good costume box.

A was in little-boy heaven; he loves dressing up and pretending more than just about anything else in the world, except maybe cantaloupe. So over the course of yesterday he was a pirate, an Indian, and Elvis. The Elvis costume had a cape. Apparently he asked my dad, "Grandpa, would it be okay if I wipe my nose on this cape?" The answer is obvious and just one more reason for the timeless injunction ...


I asked if the kids were homesick. The answer seems to be that S is not, but A is, a little bit. I'll talk to them tonight. Well, probably I will talk to A and force myself to accept that S does not really want to talk. My dad reminded me that S doesn't like to talk to him on the phone, either. I can understand that. I'm not much of a phone talker, myself.

I'm missing them more, a week into this experiment. I'll be really glad to see them again. But I'm still totally psyched that it might be a couple more weeks before I do. Mostly because it means they are behaving themselves. And that is enough to excite any mother.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Silliness for today -- vroom vroom!

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

I was hoping for the Audi TT, which I love, but this I can definitely take. I'm just relieved it didn't tell me I was a minivan.

Now that I have bolstered my self esteem ... what about you?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Today is my first alone day. The kids are at Grandma's. G is working in another town. Even my office mate has moved out. (We're hiring. Anybody want a job?)

Do you see me looking sad? No, I thought not. On the docket: pilates, baking, pedicure, girly movies, writing, fussing with houseplants, sleeping in the middle of the bed.

When I was a senior in high school I did a big paper about May Sarton. I found all these fascinating dichotomies in her novels, areas of life where we have needs that seem to oppose each other. Places where we have to work to find balance. One was something like sociality and solitude. I appreciated that need for solitude a lot, living as I did in a smallish house with my parents and five siblings. Solitude could be hard to come by. Noise was the norm. I often stayed up late, late at night to write and think, just for the quiet.

Celebrating solitude tonight. You're not invited, sorry.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Thank you, preview, and babies everywhere

This week I was able to transfer $250 from my PayPal account into my adoption savings fund at the local credit union. My total is now about $1750 including money from a tax refund, Mama squirrelling away dollahs, and donations from generous friends and loved ones. A thousand more dollars and I will be calling a homestudy agency to come to our crazy house. I think it could even happen before the end of the summer! Thanks much, blogging friends and tutu buyers!

Coming up:
  • Garage sale June 24 at our house. Furniture, clothing and toys galore. Added bonus of getting unneeded (ahem) treasures out of my little house. Central Californians can donate items to sell.
  • I may also include a bake sale that day if I get my rear in gear and make some goodies. G baked up some wicked good peanut butter brownies last night to take to his home teaching families. I'm thinking of replicating them.
  • Tutus back up on ebay if you're interested. Contact me for other colors.
  • Donations still gratefully accepted -- use the PayPal button at right.
We are going to bring home a litte African brother or sister yet!

Around my blogroll, a couple rounds of congratulations are in order ...

For a touching adoption story (I'm addicted to these) see Tammy's current posts at You Just Never Know Where Hope Might Take Ya. Welcome home, baby J!

And for a touching non-adoption family-building story, check out Tandy's new baby girls at Sunshine Daze. These little sweethearts have a brand new guardian angel in their beautiful grandma who just crossed the veil a few days after they were born. Very sacred, special, hard, important times.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Oh, and

I'm guest blogging at Feminist Mormon Housewives for the next couple of weeks. Intro went up today. This means any deep thoughts will probably be going there for the next little while.

If you prefer babble, drivel, recipes, lists, kid anecdotes, etc., stick around at Watch Out for Mama. I seem to have an inexhaustible supply!


October 11, 1999 was the last of my childless days. Birthmom T showed up in court and the judge said okay and we zoomed back to the foster family's house where eight-week-old baby S was staying. Dropped to our knees to pray and cry our thanks -- it had been a long and bumpy road. From then until now I have not spent more than a night away from him. A joined us about 19 months later, when he was only 36 hours old.

On Friday my parents took my kids to Utah. We'll see them in a couple of weeks. The silence is just bizarre.

It's not stopping us from partying, though. We have been out to eat, watched movies without sharing our candy, slept in, gone to the gym at (gasp!) the same time, hiked to the top of Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park, listened to all the talks in sacrament meeting, and left the church building without chasing anybody around and around and around that infernal circular building. (Thanks a million, church architects. And can we talk about the fact that kids can crawl under the pews and parents cannot follow? A church that emphasizes family so strongly should think about these things.) Back to my list. Eaten Ben & Jerry's out of the carton. Made fried rice without leaving any plain for the pickypoos.

My mom said it would be like another honeymoon. What I didn't tell her, but I'm sure she knew, is that it's a lot better. We've had a little more practice.

And I'm thinking the kids don't miss us. We called this afternoon. S got on the phone. His exact words, all of them, were, "I'm having a good time. Bye!" Abe was a little more loquatious but not a lot. They had to get back to playing Husker Du and making cookies -- at least I thought I heard something about measuring flour.

Hasta la vista, short people (that's what I call my kids). Despite my party attitude, I really do miss you. I'm sure when you come back you'll be a lot taller. Grandma feeds people good.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Vacation, all I ever wanted

Today is my 250th post on Watch Out for Mama. I'm not going to do too much with it, except to tell you that Tahoe rocks and I wish you could all sit on the beach with me in about an hour. With any luck we will see bald eagles, like yesterday.

Wish you were here!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

We're losing her

This has been coming for a while. I just got the news tonight. In situations like this, people don't always communicate with the Young Women's group first. That's understandable.

Our ward is associated with the Spanish branch in our stake. We have joint Primary and youth groups. In my Mia Maids class there is one Spanish speaker, Wendy G. She's our class president, a straight-A student, a beautiful girl with a tiny frame and very striking, Indian features. She wants to be an attorney. Her dad is gone after some difficult marital drama a few years ago, so she lives with her mom and three younger -- much younger -- siblings. Or, I should say, lived.

Immigration came at 5 a.m. two Thursdays ago, banging on the windows of their immaculate home, the home they've owned for about ten years and poured their blood, sweat and tears into. They hauled them all -- mother and children -- to jail in Fresno. An aunt came to get the kids. Mom was put on a bus, first to Arizona, then to Texas, then dumped across the border. Not in her home town further into Mexico. Just across the border. Ultimately she decided it would be best to resettle in Tijuana. By herself.

The kids came back to their home, where they have been staying with an older cousin until the school year ended today. This weekend they're packing and cleaning. With their aunt's help, they'll rent the house out and stay here so they can go to school. Apparently on the other side that opportunity is not quite the same. And the kids were all born here; they have a right to an education in the United States. Their mom wants them to stay and take advantage of that. As U.S. citizens, they can visit her periodically without having to worry about being able to get back in.

The youngest of these children is six. Wendy, the oldest, is only fifteen. They have effectively lost their mother. This is a crime and a shame and a sin.

I know there are some -- among my dearest friends, even -- who will say that they never should have come here the way they did, that they should have done it legally. But I don't think most of us realize how very nearly impossible that is to do. Between bringing up a family in their homeland and bringing up a family in the United States, they made their choice. I think it was the same choice I would have made in their position. They came here the best way they could and tried for fifteen years to make their residence legal, to no avail. How is that fair or right? They bought a home, they went to community college, they worked so, so hard. They brought up delightful children who are a credit to them and an asset to the rest of us. They sacrificed their own security for that. The future for those children is undeniably brighter because of the opportunities they have here. If, that is, they can overcome the outrage of losing their mother.

I'm no legal genius, but I think it's possible that the laws intended to keep immigrants out of the United States are unjust laws that beg to be broken. I don't believe in the supremacy of law just because it's law. Laws that are morally wrong should not be obeyed. From the Boston Tea Party to Rosa Parks, that is a very proud heritage we have in this country. If a law is not right, then those who break it are to be admired. They may be arrested and then sent through due process so the law can begin to change. That's part of the process and a sacrifice made by those who are committed enough to change to engage in civil disobedience. But they should not be deported without ado and forgotten.

I'm not saying this is exactly like imprisoning Nelson Mandela. Wendy's mom was not a freedom fighter in an organized movement. She was just trying to do what was best for her family. I don't know if that makes the actions of our government better, or worse. But the effects of those actions are, to our shame, not very different.

If you don't mind adding Wendy's mom and her four children to your prayers and maybe even your fast this Sunday -- well, think about doing that. Especially Wendy, my Mia Maid class president, your fellow American who is fifteen years old and has just lost her mother to a pre-dawn immigration raid.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A must-read

Deborah's thoughts on Sunday's First Presidency Letter at the blog Exponent II.

She's writing what I'm still too emotional to write. Have you noticed me avoiding this subject? Sigh. Deborah, thanks for being brave enough to lay it out.

The first day of June, the last day of school

Today is A's last day in the wonderful little Lutheran preschool he has attended for the last two years. This morning when I went in to give his teacher her UC Merced mug and her copy of Finding Faith in Christ, I cried.

Okay, I am a chronic crybaby. We know this. But I didn't know I was that attached to her.

Maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm just attached to having little kids -- kids too little to go to elementary school -- and after today I can't really say I have that anymore.

S's last day in first grade is tomorrow. I'm taking the day off to volunteer at his field day activities and to pack and prepare for our weeklong vacation with my parents and siblings. Here's hoping six days in the mountains with all the people I love most in the world will cure my kids-growing-up-too-fast malaise.