Thursday, August 31, 2006

Some days are like that, even in Australia

So if the good things that happen to me are signs, then the bad things are just obstacles, right? That's how we choose to view that. Today is full of them.

We slept in.

The other party in my May car wreck has refused the insurance company's offer and is going to take us to small claims court.

I am now at home with a child who is subject to school disciplinary action and that's all I'll say about that.

Three "obstacles." That's enough for one terrible horrible no good very bad day.

Hasten thee, tomorrow. I'm ready to be done with this one, and it's only eleven in the morning.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bona fide

Okay, so actually we are certified, not bona fide. But not certifiable either, at least not yet. And you know, I had to get a little O Brother reference in there.

(Somebody give me a new movie ... I have my O Brother and Napoleon quotes all worn out and I can't get Nacho Libre on DVD yet to learn it sufficiently well.)

The first half of our CPR/First Aid training for foster parenting was tonight. I am pleased to say it was significantly more interesting than the foster parenting class. And I kind of bonded to my little Baby Anne mannequin (or manny-kin, as our formerly-Mormon instructor pronounced it). She was awful cute, although the tube in the mouth and the open neck mechanism were a bit disturbing.

While we were gone the sweet little babysitter put away our rinsed but not washed dishes, and did not put our children to bed. We got home at 9:50. What was she thinking? And yet I will have her babysit again tomorrow night because she is my only babysitter who can work on a school night. She is homeschooled. Very convenient.

In other news, the ebay book sale went pretty darned well. Thanks to any blog friends who bought.

And finally, it is time for me to get to bed.

Signs along the way

Last night G said to me, "I might wonder whether we're doing the right thing [referring to foster parenting], but everything is falling into place so easily, you kind of have to know." It's true.

Our class (which is boring but may get better) goes for six weeks. But we have this weekend off -- the weekend of the grape harvest at our welfare farm. And we have the last weekend in September off -- the weekend of my brother's wedding and General Conference. It's just too serendipitous.

We have been given (or are being given) most of the basic furniture we need to prepare a room. Headboards from the local freecycle group. A dresser from Sally. A cradle from Lisa. Even a new dresser for S and A from some friends in town.

Now I just have to get babysitting to fall into place for our CPR/First Aid classes tonight and tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One of those days

Mental health days. You know the type.

I dropped off the kids, popped some laundry in the washer, went to the gym, took a long shower. Now it's a little more laundry, getting dressed, getting a haircut, getting the oil changed, doing some of my nesting-type shopping at Lowe's and Target (be quiet, I know all about the ethical issues with my big box stores, okay?) vacuuming the bedrooms, reorganizing the kids' clothes.

It is going to feel fantastic to get all this stuff done. Honestly, it would take me two weeks or more to get to all these errands and chores. You moms at home with kids in school, never ever forget how lucky you are. You are so lucky, so free.

Notice I did not say moms with toddlers and preschoolers at home. My memory is not entirely dysfunctional. Mental health is not what those days are about.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Cool little things, a list

  • I won the contest! I won the contest! If you are not playing the games at Charmed Designs you really should. You can win beee-youtiful things! Super cool!
  • My workplace is making its first foray into blogging. It is very cool, and I can say so because it was not my idea. My co-worker got this done and I am so pleased for her.
  • I have a great idea. Crazy great. I want to design my own Master's program in science writing here at my university of employment. I would start when G finishes his Ph.D. in a year and a half or so. Would that not be so cool? I could get it done while G does a postdoc. We would be oh so academic. DH said I "would be hot sh**" which I have to say made me feel pretty cool. (This, by the way, is how I get myself into those hyperventilating situations. Too many crazy great ideas.)
  • We have now done pretty much everything we can do toward our foster parenting license and are just waiting for our FBI background check to come back. Then we do a homestudy and we will be ready to take placement. I'm hoping to have it complete by October. Moving fast? Cool.
  • This weekend I made master lists of everything I need to shop for, clean out, organize and prepare for the next wave of kids. Lists always make me feel better. That's also cool. Feeling better, I mean. The fact that I need lists to do so is actually pretty much nerdy, but I'm okay with that.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

No hyperventilating

When I was a senior in high school I had two afterschool jobs, early-morning seminary, AP English, a play to be in and a "job" as the president of concert choir. I also had a little day planner that I used to try to keep track of everything. Only there wasn't enough room, so I had a lot of sticky notes stuck in it. Add to that the fact that I am a doodler, and the pages looked a little busy. A little panic-inducing.

One night I was sitting in a Choir Boosters meeting with my poor mother who somehow got roped into being president of the Choir Boosters since I was the president of the choir. I was looking down at my little day planner and started to hyperventilate. My mom took away the planner and wouldn't let me look at it anymore.

A few weeks later I quit one of my jobs -- the local movie theater -- by calling them up and saying, "I'm not coming in today, or tomorrow, or really ever again."

So if I had day planner now I think it would look a little worse than it did then. These days I have two children, a full-time job, a calling in Young Women, a household to manage, and a list as long as my arm of preparations to make for foster parenting.

But there is no one to confiscate my little planner. And there is nothing I can quit with a satisfying little temper tantrum the way I did back then.

Well, maybe housework. Whaddya think?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

You're out

I don't know how I'm going to tell S about Pluto. It was his favorite planet.

My office buddy is thinking maybe we could start a petition.

On another note, I am finding it disturbing that my blog now has advertisements for "Bible," "scripture," "LDS," and "Word of God." That is just weird.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Deep question from S

"Can we turn bad after we're resurrected?"

This after reading in Alma 5 last night about the day of judgment and "can ye stand before God" and all that good stuff.

I thought it was really interesting to consider the factors that influence our choices, and whether they'll be in play after the resurrection.

Free agency? Check. A gift that I don't think the Father would ever remove. So theoretically it might be possible to make a bad choice even in more advanced stages of our development.

Knowledge of right and wrong? Faith in God's plan? Check, in infinitely improved form. Our eyes will see and our ears will hear. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. (Can I get any more body parts in here? Speaking of which ...)

Weakness of the flesh? No more. Eradicated by the renewal and perfecting of our bodies.

Temptation from Satan? Gone-dee. Satan will be bound, but not by chains -- by the righteousness of God's children. See above.

So while it might still be possible to err in judgment after the resurrection, I don't think we can turn bad.

Still, it makes you think. We might just go on needing the atonement for eternity. Maybe that's part of what infinite sacrifice means. And that is pretty deep, if you ask me.

Book sale

Get 'em while they're hot. Tutus too.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


So this morning, I did it. I read scripture instead of the newspaper during breakfast. And then I read the newspaper while I dried my hair. That worked pretty well. Fortunately I live in a tiny town with a tiny newspaper.

Anyway, I read about Nephi and the brass plates -- probably the single most familiar story in all of scripture if you grew up Mormon. And yes, we know, if we had Nephi for a brother we would all probably feel like being Laman and Lemuel. He's so ... good.

Regardless of all that, I found something to consider and apply here this morning. Nephi was going into a very, very scary situation. I don't think we always appreciate how terrifying it must have been. Hostile territory, powerful and disdainful enemy, previous failures by his brothers, real threat of death, extremely high stakes (the spiritual future of his people). All that good stuff. And yet.

"I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do," he wrote (1 Nephi 4:6).

He showed total trust. He refused to be controlled by fear. We can know that what we're doing is scary, and yet choose not to be scared. We can rely on the arm of the Lord, rather than on our instincts which may tell us to fly.

This is no little thing, here. How often do we tell ourselves we're making the best decision we can, when really we're shying away from what God wants us to do because we're afraid of change and challenge?

Nephi was courageous.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lay aside [ insert vice here ]

At Sam's party on Saturday one of my friends was talking about her aunt, who happens to work with me in Young Women. Auntie is trying to "live a higher law" by giving up the Mountain Dew chaser that helps he control her migraines. I hope it works out for her. I'm glad I don't have a caffeine addiction to deal with, but I don't think it's a big deal for everyone who does.

Auntie's husband, a former bishop in our ward, is trying to live a higher law by shaving every day.

Maybe these people are so far ahead of us that those are the only areas they have left to improve. Ya think? Okay, so I don't get it. I just truly do not get how these things make a difference. But I hope they do, because I know these people and they deserve blessings for trying to do what is right.

I was left, though, with nagging certainty that I need to live a higher law in a lot of ways. I have a lot of habits that are far worse than Mountain Dew. And I need to be better, and here is why.

I am going to need a lot of help in the next couple of months, a lot of guidance. I am going to start getting calls about children who need a family, children who have been hurt and have problems. I am going to need to know whether to bring them home, and I'm not going to have two weeks to think about it. Probably not even two days. I am going to need fast access to real answers so that I can be confident about doing this scary kind of stuff. I'm going to need strength to say no, and strength to say yes. I don't want anything blocking that.

For me, I think this means giving up some TV shows I enjoy. I think it means reading scriptures instead of newspapers while I eat breakfast. I also think it means (a) cutting back my time on blogs and boards and (b) focusing what time I do spend online on constructive topics that will open me to revelation rather than closing me up.

To some people this will probably sound like the Mountain Dew and the shaving sounded to me. But maybe each person is the best judge of the means for his or her own improvement. And who am I to say giving up caffeine and scruffiness is not going to help some people? Or that giving up Gray's Anatomy and possibly even House (-SOB!-) is going to help anyone but me?

So Watch Out for Mama may get a little more churchy, for lack of a better word. It's not because you need it, all you wonderful people out there. It's because I do. You all keep on doin' the dew or whatever you do; it's cool by me. I'm just gonna start including more stuff like this, which popped into my mind Saturday night when I was shaving my legs (how is that for ironic?):

And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.

Doctrine and Covenants 25:10

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lucky seven

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Note seven towers and crushed Butterfinger decoration, as the birthday boy requested.

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Warming up the bounce house for our guests

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It takes a lot of energy to do this stuff

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Guests loved bouncing, too

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Opening presents

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More cute guests -- sisters sharing a giant Pixie Stix (that is their mom in the background, not me, although we do look almost like twins)

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One very happy seven year old

I am so proud of my big boy!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Knowing is half the battle

A big part of my spiritual frustration in the last couple of years has been the inability to figure out where to go for my next child or children. Why no answers? Why no guidance for a righteous desire? Why silence and confusion? Was something wrong with me? How long could I hold on like that?

I think I can officially say that's over now.

My dear dear crazy B put this idea in my head last spring about taking a leap. Stepping out over a chasm, or into the dark cave or whatever kind of metaphor you want to put on it. Taking a risk and seeing how it works out. Trusting God to make things work or at least to let you know if it's wrong before you break your leg.

So I stepped out over African adoption because it's been a dream. I worked on it. By sewing tutus, if you will remember. Things didn't go gangbusters. We could still do it. I'm not saying never. But I haven't felt that this is it kind of feeling. No validation.

Today we had our meeting with the licensing worker for foster parents in our county. And this is it. This is what we are doing and I know it is the right way.

Out in the parking lot after our 3 hours with the social worker, G and I started talking about the potential scary aspects of this -- mostly drug-exposed kids and all the uncertainty and trouble that can come with them.

And I realized, I probably already have experience with this. I don't know what was in the past of my oldest boy. I would not be the least bit surprised if I were to learn at this point that he was indeed exposed to something other than nicotine. I don't know what. But his issues make it pretty clear that there was something that was not disclosed.

He is doing awesome now. I am so tremendously proud of him. He is brilliant in school, he is working so hard to control his temper and his attention, and he is full, full of love and affection. We went through some incredibly hard years with this kid. Miserably hard. To the point where I sat and held him and cried and wondered if I could even keep parenting him -- if I had the strength to do it, if I was really ever meant to be his mom. How is that for a true confession?

I would do it all again for him. I love him so completely and he gives me so much joy and delight that I would traverse that chasm again without a second's hesitation. And that is what we are doing, in effect. I know that now.

What a tremendous relief to know. I haven't been so excited in such a long time! Just to know that there is a path! Last time I felt this good I think I was calling the reproductive endocrinologist to tell him we were not coming for our next appointment, or ever ever again. Yeah.

Next up: health screenings, first aid classes, FBI background checks, and a home study. Then all we have to do is enroll for foster parent classes, and we can take a placement. You read that right. Even before completion we can get started.

IKEA, here I come. I need some more kid furniture. Woohoo!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Freaky network

While we were away this weekend my little sis, the beautiful and talented Maywho (see blogroll) showed me her myspace blog. So I got a myspace account so I could comment. And then, lo and behold, there is like half my extended family, on myspace.

I don't know why this is freaking me out a little bit, but it is. Maybe because for very many years my online interactions have not involved this particular group of people. Maybe because I had a crazy illusion that they all had actual real lives that did not involve the internet so much. Huh, who knows.

Um, hi, fam-damnily!

Also new on the blogroll, my handsome brother T at Trappah Keepah, and my friend J at Remember When I Used to be Crazy who is one of the wittiest mothers-of-6 I know.

All you other fambly members, you start blogging and let me know; I'll blogroll you, too, if you want.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


We spent last weekend in beautiful Panguitch Lake. Somehow when I said "beautiful Panguitch Lake" before I went there, I forgot how really lovely it is. Maybe that's because the last time I went there my kids were too little to be much fun and it was also mosquito season.

Anyway, it was stunning -- a gorgeous little lake tucked in the mountains near Cedar Breaks, perfect for throwing rocks and sticks into. (Remember, my boys are 5 and 7.) Another day would have done us a whole lotta good, but yesterday the first day of school for my kids and we had to hurry home.

Five of the six kids from my family of origin were there. We missed my brother who is in Seattle for the summer, re-establishing his roots and relationships after living and working in New York for most of the year. We didn't have a lot of time together, but we had a little, and it was reassuring.

Because lately I have been worried. Considering how close we were as children -- we moved around the country and had no one but each other -- we don't communicate all that much as adults.

My five sibs and I are all over the map geographically. California, Las Vegas, Utah, New York. That's one thing that certainly makes it harder to be close.

We also live pretty far apart in ideals and identity. Mormon, ex-Mormon, gay, straight. Sometimes I worry that those differences -- differences that may never change -- are what keep us distant from each other. I think that if we are not committed to each other as a family, they easily could.

But we're also busy people. We have schoolwork and/or jobs (all of us, thank heaven) and kids (some of us) and even hobbies (mostly those of us without kids). These roadblocks are ephemeral. When we all land in a tiny cabin in the mountains of Southern Utah without TV, computers or cell phones, they magically become unimportant. We have a lot to talk about. We respect each other pretty well. We're pretty patient with each other. (Sorry about my nasty Sunday morning mood, guys!)

My youngest brother was born when I was in sixth grade. He was the most beautiful baby, with creamy fair skin and dark hair and eyes. I loved him with abandon and sometimes felt like I could envision the handsome guy he would grow up to be. At almost 21, he has outgrown his teenage attitude and insecurity and worked admirably hard to get in shape physically. I know the change isn't really so sudden, but to me it's all at once that he's a delightful and darn fine-looking guy. Seeing him this past weekend I had a sense of love remembered and vision fulfilled.

I think we're never going to really have easy waters to navigate as a family. I will confess that I am sometimes jealous of others who seem to have that. But I am encouraged, believing a little more now that we are a determined and decent crew that can make it around the rocks.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mutually exclusive

Can someone please explain to me why we can't have a ceasefire in the Middle East and a long-term plan to end the violence? Why should they be mutually exclusive? Maybe this is just my simple mind here, but it seems like an extraordinarily stupid presumption that they should.

If you agree, or maybe even if you don't check this out. It's an easy way to add your voice to a chorus asking for a little bit of reason in this insane situation.

As an aside, we leave tomorrow to go see the fam in beautiful Panguitch Lake. I'll see you all -- and tally up the dress votes -- when I return.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dress vote

You all did such an excellent job picking my hairstyle; I am calling on your wisdom once again!

Choose your favorite black dress for my brother's wedding September 30! Bear in mind, I am on the high end of the misses' sizing scale and need to distract as much attention as possible from the, ahem, tummy region. (In my case it might more accurately be called a gut.) I own a wrap dress that works surprisingly well for me, thus the inclusion of a couple of that variety. I am also intrigued by the kimono style, so you see a couple of incarnations below. But I can see how a timeless sheath dress would be useful for a long time and for many occasions.

I will not be wearing knee-high boots as I have calves made for holding down two-year-olds who don't want to brush their teeth. But I will get some good, new witchy black pumps.

On with the dresses.

Dress number one:
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Dress number two:
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Dress number three:
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Dress number four:
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Dress number five:
(I grabbed the charcoal one so you could see it better, but there is a black one)
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Dress number six:
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Dress number seven:
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Dress number eight:
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Dress number nine:
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Dress number ten:
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Polls are open!

Back yard again

(Isn't there a kids' show with a name like that?)

My back yard is finally usable again after more than a month. The side fence came down when the neighbor cut down the tree it was tied to holding it up. I know, that sounds really ghetto. It's not; it's just time to replace the fence.

But we are renters, which introduces all kinds of complications.

First of all, we couldn't simply negotiate with our neighbor, whom we like and get along with, about replacing the fence. We had to direct him to the property management agency, who had to conduct negotiations with him and the property owner, who lives in the Bay Area. (*#$! Bay Area investors, messing up our real estate market!) So everything took longer than it should have.

Initially, the owner insisted that they repair the fence. The fence is 30 years old and the boards are disintegrating. It's such a delight to have an absentee landlord. Clueless. (I should remember this because I am an absentee landlord with regard to our little pink house in Salt Lake.) The property managers had to come over and take photos to prove to the owner that the fence was really not repairable. Then the owner proposed cedar as a material for the new fence. The neighbor wanted redwood. I don't really know the difference, to tell you the truth, but apparently it was a big deal. Meanwhile, the weeks stretched on.

Also, our monthly rent includes a gardener. We love this. It's so swell to come home every Monday afternoon to a perfectly manicured yard, without a whit of work on our part. However, with the side fence down, the gardener could not get to the back yard. That means no mow, no weed for more than a month. Ugly business. Jungle. While it was so hot, I didn't worry too much about it. It's not like the kids could play outside anyway when it was 113 degrees.

The neighbor apparently got sick of his jungle view and called the property managers to tell them to please send the gardener through his yard to mow ours. And that, my friends, is a good neighbor. The fence is still down. But we are mowed. We are weeded. The grass looks healthier than ever, lush and green. We are eating in the back yard tonight and swinging on the swingset. The temperatures are down to the mid-90s and it's the last week of summer.

We are having another crazy kid birthday party in a couple of weeks, and the property managers guarantee me that the fence will be up by then. Bravo.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Strawberry tigger

I only have one stripe, but believe me, if someone should happen to touch it, I will not just bounce, I will ROCKET. Darn tankini gap. But if that's the price for a perfect day, I'll take it.

The beach on Saturday with Sal and family was probably the fourth best day of my life so far, after my wedding and two adoption sealings. We decided to take it somewhat easy in the morning and didn't get there until about noon. Perfect because any earlier would have been booty-freezing cold.

All afternoon we dug, splashed, hunted shells, read magazines, talked, and munched snacks. I rocked the boogie board and earned new respect from G. He didn't think I would be either brave enough or coordinated enough to do it. I showed him! Sal and I decided if we could do that regularly we would get real skinny real fast. Because it is not easy running out into the waves up to your chest, but it is so fun we would never miss a day.

In the evening we built a fire (in an approved pit) and discovered that if you put dried-up kelp in a hot fire it will POP! And if you can get a popped one out of there it smells like marshmallows!

We also discovered that seagull carcasses are like magnets for small boys. EW EW EW EW EW!!! Smart Sal brought disinfecting wipes. Thank heaven for that.

But I don't know what could be more delightful than watching your children splash in the ocean and run free on the sand. Bliss.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

New tack

I've been kind of quiet about adoption plans for a while. I've been pondering this new path and now I think we are actually taking steps in that direction. So here's what's cooking.

I talked this morning to the foster family caseworker for our county. She said right now they are actually getting quite a lot of babies whom they cannot work to reunify with their birthfamilies (probably crime or drug issues if that is the case). There is still risk of loss involved -- I mean losing the child to its birthfamily -- but it is probably about the lowest risk you can get in the fost-adopt system for a young child.

So we are going to orientation on August 15. It will still be quite a process from that time, but I think we are headed down this path. It feels a lot more natural and right to me than the African adoption at this point. Also of course it has the added benefit of costing essentially nothing. I still hope to do the African adoption someday.

For those who have contributed to my adoption fund, I want you to know I plan to use my fund to outfit a room for our next child or children -- we may take two at a time if the right situation arises, and we are likely to need new furniture, clothing, car seats and so on. If anybody has sent me money and is not comfortable with that plan, please let me know. I have the funds set aside in a special account and can certainly do refunds. I have about $2100 saved up now and about $300 of that came from tutu sales and online friends.

That's the news ... I am starting to be excited about it but I also know this is no easy way to build your family. There will certainly be difficulties ahead. Actually there is no easy way to build your family, so, you know. I think this might be the right road, though.

Does that mean we're crazy? possibly

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Judge for yourself. And is everybody else loving that Gnarls Barkley song like I am?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Kids and media from npr

You might have missed this last night on All Things Considered. If you did, you should listen online. You will be amazed to hear how openly kids talk about sex and violence in the media to people who are not their parents. These kids are not teenagers, either. They're children.

S wandered into the kitchen where I was chopping vegetables as the story ended. I told him if he ever saw anything that was scary or inappropriate on the computer (which he loves to use) he should not be afraid to tell me. At least I can help him understand.

What a freaky world.