Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On the road again

We leave after work today for the weekend in Utah. I really wish we were flying, but we are not. Thus we plan to invest 24 hours of driving time to support my brother at his wedding this weekend. A very good cause.

Anybody wanna meet me in Fernley, Nevada, tonight about 9 PM? I am sure I will need a good, stiff drink by that time.

Ah, who am I kidding? The stiffest thing I drink is Jello. Which should make the wedding interesting.

At least I have my sweet new wheels to ride in.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Blips and blessings

S has already had two neurofeedback sessions -- one Saturday and one today.

I am flabbergasted at how fast they worked us in, how well they have gotten S started, and just the fact that this therapy is available in our little middla-nowhere town. Is it here just for us? Kind of like the free preschool S had the first year here when we were so po' and I was at the end of my rope ... and the perfect job for me that came out of nowhere just when we were about to sink completely financially ... and the Zionesque ward with the CTR 7 teacher who happens to be a children's counselor and an adoptive mom?

Since today's neurofeedback session we have had a trouble-free trip to Target, an easy time getting through the math homework, a fun Family Home Evening and an extraordinarily peaceful bedtime. Coincidence? Is there such a thing?

(Now I just want the general good fortune to extend to G, who has found a new job to be interested in, a teaching-oriented professorship in a nearby institution available for 2007 - 2008. The job description looks like it was lifted from his CV. They say they'll consider a Ph.D. candidate near completion, which in a year he will be. Cross your fingers and say your prayers. We need spreading serendipity.)

Friday, September 22, 2006


Our home study is complete and of course it was pretty easy.

We decided to tell the social worker that we will be ready to take a placement beginning October 20. That will be just after my return from a publications conference in San Antonio.

So I have a month to finish nesting!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Train the brain

If I were really dedicated to this blog I would make up a whole song about training the brain instead of the rain in Spain. Or maybe a whole musical, "My Fair ADHD." (Actually, that has some potential.)

S is struggling. I don't tell most people this. It is so difficult. He missed his field trip today because of wild behavior from Tuesday. He has been in the office twice this week. I've gotten two calls from the teacher. Our mornings have been miserable. He doesn't want to take his medication and he doesn't want to go to school. It makes me want to cry -- well, actually it does make me cry.

I recognize, though, that this is all about overcoming my motherly mourning. I can't wallow in the difficulty of having a child with special needs, even though it is difficult and sad and sucks in many ways. I have to pick myself up and help him because guess what? It's not about me. 'Member I said that yesterday? It's not me. Still saying that to myself. It's not me. I am still perennially afraid that others will judge me by my children's bad behavior. But it's not me. It is HIM. My goal is to help him, not to make myself look good or make my life easier.

Well today I am proud and happy because I have done three things.

  1. I have not cried. This is bigger than you think.
  2. I have made an appointment with the local psychologist who does neurofeedback for kids with ADHD. She was wonderful on the phone, and I'm so excited about this. (If you want to read more check here and here.) We go in on Saturday morning at 8.
  3. I have decided to ask my boss about shifting my schedule on a permanent basis so that I will not be stressed out trying to arrive at work by 8 in the morning. I will be asking her not to expect me until 9. That way if I arrive earlier it is just a bonus. I will skip lunch most days (I do that most days already anyway) and still leave between 5 and 5:30.
On home now, to work with little S. Dootoomuch. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mantra: it's not me

It's PMS and allergies and taking on everybody else's work and an impending homestudy.

In a few days I'm gonna feel better. Really.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

All set up

We are officially rocking the Clearwire. Love it, love it. Super fast, no phone jack. If anybody wants me to refer them, I will get money back and you will get money off, so let me know!

While setting up the whole deal in my new IKEA desk and momentarily feeling all tough and cool, I think I called tech support with the stupidest problem ever. Just keep your cords separated when you set yours up, and you'll be all good.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Loose ends (mostly in black)

A couple of people have asked me what dress I got. My heavens! I never told you! This one! It was a little scary because I went to order it and it was gone. But I got on the live chat customer support at and they found me one. Yay for them! It arrived while Sally was over on S's birthday, so we had a little fashion show. It fits quite well, especially since I got a Spanx Higher Power sucker-inner, too.

I also got some very sexy shoes. Alas, they are not on the nordstrom site anymore and I can't find you a picture. They have very high heels and open toes. Black patent leather with a shiny black rectangle over the toe.

Finally, my darling Dana is making me a necklace and earrings with black pearls and crystals. I can't wait to see it.

On to other matters, also in black: I found some figs at the Saturday farmer's market. They are black mission, not the Calimyrna I wanted, but I think 'tis the season. Calimyrnas come on earlier. Curses on a busy summer.

I am ditching the foster parenting class today in favor of getting ready for our homestudy this Friday and hanging out with my kids. So I guess I better get off the computer and get to work!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Black on the shelf

a family of foxes came to my yard and dug in
so I looked in a book to see what this could possibly mean
- indigo girls, "deconstruction"

I have this idea that if there's something you want to know or do, you find a book with information or instructions and read it. Then you can know or do what you want. Home repairs? Try this book. Adopting a child? I love this one, and this other one is an absolute must. Cooking and baking? Here's a good start, and these are tried and true (if occasionally a bit dated).

When S was a baby, seven years ago, I wanted to nurse him. So, true to my booky mindset, I bought two books and a Lact-Aid to hook up and figured I could do it. Totally delusional. By the time he came home he was eight weeks old and loved, loved, loved his bottles. Plus, the Lact-Aid was not easy to use, and I was far from home with no support system, especially not for the slightly off-the-beaten-path idea of adoptive nursing. I canned it after a few days' efforts. Books were not enough, even when I read them exhaustively (and exhaustedly, in those early days of motherhood).

Books are still not enough, if you really want to know. I have parenting books up the wazoo and I have read them and studied them and made notes. I still do not really know how to be a great mom. Some things are just not meant to be learned that way. I'm starting to accept that.

Beyond the how-to books --

Today I was headed back from some lunchtime retail therapy at Target and heard this on the radio. My first thought was, "Maybe I should get that book to keep on my shelf." Meaning, maybe my kids would enjoy finding that book and exploring it when they're teenagers, kind of the way I enjoyed finding Tolkien and Austen and other English-type writers.

But then, am I crazy? What is the idea of getting a book just to keep on my shelf in hopes that my kids will someday read it? When my kids are smart, yes, but not even close to the nerdy bookworm that I was? Okay, still am. Yah, crazy.

I have Native Son, an old paperback I got from my mom's parents when they were moving to a smaller place, but I've never made it past the first couple of chapters. I have read The Invisible Man as well as Beloved and several other novels about slavery.

I am not naive enough to think that, having read a few books, I get it. Books are not enough to change me or make me able to do something. I wonder, though, if having them on the shelf will help convince my kids that I am trying.

I wonder if having the parenting books on the shelf will do the same thing. I can hope.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

To market, to market

We hit the downtown merchants' festival tonight in search of figs. I think I missed them this year. Dang it, dang it. I did get some amazing tiny muscat grapes, white nectarines and about-to-burst red tomatoes. And strawberry and vanilla kettle corn. Yummy, yummy! Like, so amazing I better lay off the grapes or I will regret it, and you all know what I mean by that. I put the kettle corn away already. Really!

At the fruit stands I noticed a terrible smell. It was like the entire atmosphere reeked of stale tobacco. For awhile I thought I was just downwind of the goth teens. It took me a while to realize that beside me was a man with the fattest cigar I have ever seen. It was absolutely disgusting. Hey stogie men of the earth, I have a message for you. It's not cool, it's not sexy, it's not sophisticated, it doesn't smell good. Like, not at all. And I do not appreciate you poisoning the air my children breathe at a family venue like a farmer's market. Disgusting jerk.

After the market we went to the city open house. My kids got to shake hands with our African-American city councilman, who I could tell was kinda gung ho about being a role model. Well, that's cool, we need them. Then they got to pretend to drive the police car and motorcycles, check out the firemen's tools, get candy and trinkets from various city offices, blow giant bubbles and play on various bounce house type toys.

We came home and I put them to bed at a leisurely pace. (My new trick is playing nature sounds after I finish reading them Book of Mormon and the Magic Tree House. So very cheesy but I swear to you, they fall asleep faster.) Then I put the new Bob Dylan album on my Rhapsody. It's good stuff. It was a good night.

Except I can still smell that damned cigar. That's not swearing; when I say it I mean I really think it came from Satan's abode. I think I need to shower before bed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Taming the green

I'm linking to a Times and Seasons post for the second time this week. Just brace yourselves.

Margaret Young (whom I feel I almost know because I took a class from her husband at BYU and have seen her speak and play piano in Genesis meetings) is writing about her son not going on a mission and wrestling with parental guilt and jealousy. She seems to be doing it very well and of course writes about it beautifully. I started responding in a comment there, but it kind of veered off on its own thing and got long, so I thought I'd put it here, instead.

I'll confess. I'm a green-eyed girl, and maybe that will never go away. I do get jealous, on my parents' behalf but also on my own, of those families who can all sit together in the celestial room, who don't even wonder whether or not they will all go to church when on vacation together, who can teach their children very simply about things like homosexuality, who find it easy to respect each other's beliefs because their beliefs are all the same. Who don't have to have heartwrenching conversations until 2 in the morning just trying to understand each other. I don't get why some people have that and my family does not.

And I think it's natural to wonder. Is it because the Rolling Stones sat on the same record shelf as the Tabernacle Choir and Dialogue sat on the same coffee table as the Ensign in our home? Is it because our dad was gone many, many hours a week serving in a bishopric in an East Coast ward, getting a Ph.D. and working full time all at once? Because our overwhelmed mom sometimes yelled and offered spankings as discipline? I know my parents have asked these questions and made their peace with them, one way or another. I ask the same questions myself sometimes, thinking to myself that maybe I can avoid whatever mistakes my parents have made. (I answered the survey for that book, by the way, but I haven't read the book. I'm newly leery of the premise.) On some level I suppose I hope that maybe I can create the family I want, the family that my family of origin has morphed away from.

But I also know that's neither logical nor possible. First, it discounts all the wonderful things my parents did -- the boundless, affectionate and unquestionable love, the consistent family home evening and scripture study, the unshakeable commitment to the Church, the support for our interests and activities, the respect for us as human beings. It's not right to assume that none of those things counted.

Besides that, I can't avoid every mistake. I can't be perfect. And perfect or not, I will always be me. I will always want to read divergent viewpoints and listen to interesting music and, you know, maybe drink a Diet Pepsi every once in a while.

Most of all I know I can't control the choices my kids will make. That would go against what I believe about God's plan and free agency. Which makes me remember that my experiences now are supposed to be preparing me for a bigger role. And one of the simplest ways (there's that simplicity I was longing for) to act like I should act for that role is to love my family -- the original part and the emerging part -- no matter what.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This should be available for the whole wide world

Last night I made one of my best comfort foods, and in fact the only casserole I ever really make. (Note the absence of cream of anything soup.)

Anyway, this is a delicious dinner and always reminds me of home with six kids running around, having the missionaries over for dinner, or just all of us sitting around the dinner table, before we started growing up things started getting complicated.

Hi, mom!

Enchilada Casserole

1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 lb extra lean ground beef (I use the 96% lean kind -- it's great for this recipe because it's so saucy, you don't need the fat)
1/2 package frozen corn (about 1 - 1.5 cups)
1 can (about 2 c) red enchilada sauce -- choose your preferred level of spiciness according to what's on the can
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 pkg of 10 whole wheat tortillas
About 1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with 6-8 tortillas.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute onion in oil until translucent. Add ground beef and brown. Stir in corn.

Add half the enchilada sauce and half the tomato sauce. Stir and simmer until heated through.

Pour meat mixture into lined baking pan. Top with more tortillas.

Mix together remaining enchilada sauce and tomato sauce. (Just dump the tomato sauce into the enchilada sauce can and stir.) Spread the mixed sauces over the top of the casserole like pizza sauce. Top with cheese.

Bake 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and edges of tortillas begin to crisp. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving, kind of like a lasagna.

To serve, cut into about 8 rectangles. Pass some sour cream or plain yogurt to dollop on the top, and a big mound of green salad to eat on the side.

Are you pretty?

Here was my conversation with S this morning:

S: Mom, are you pretty?

MOM: I don't know, what do you think? (pathetic fishing for a compliment from my kid, huh?)

S: Just say yes or no.

MOM: Um, yes.

S: Pretty ugly!!

Oh, I just love second-grade humor. We are getting "Spell I-CUP" and all those delightful things. And he just howls with laughter.

Kill me now.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

But seriously folks

If you have not done so yet, please go read Tyler Johnson's "Gravity" series at Times and Seasons. I can't think of anything else I've read recently that has buoyed me up and inspired me like this.

In case you were feeling serious

Friday, September 08, 2006

Best dad ever

So I thought G would never top this, but he's gone and done it.

He's been reading Captain Underpants to the boys this week. I actually bought it for them. I've heard its inappropriateness discussed in various Mormon mommy situations. I don't really have a problem with it. I knew my kids would love it. And they did.

Then tonight, G was getting dressed to go to the gym. And suddenly I heard, "Da-ta-DAH!" There he was in whitey tighteys with a red fleece blanket tied around his neck. And, you know, he shaves his head, so he had the bald thing going, too. He is a lot skinnier and hairier than what you see on the cover here, but it was still a recognizable likeness. And he went in to where the boys were watching Looney Tunes and started flipping their own miniature whitey tightey underwear at them.

Can you say little boy heaven?

I so badly wanted to take a photo and post it on this blog, but I thought that might be going a little too far, even for me, whose life is more or less an open book. Husband in underwear, not even I will do. So sorry.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

There and back

So we had the best IKEA trip. Thank you for going with me Sally Lou! I got my big stuff and lots of little stuff and spent a lot of money. I had the meatballs and blueberry cake for lunch, and lingonberry juice.

And then I went to Trader Joe's for the first time ever. Which is sad considering I have lived in California for three years, but give me a break, it is not in my town. Now we have all kinds of yummy treats.

I got home at 6, cleaned myself up a bit (loading those big flat IKEA boxes is a sweaty business) and headed out for sushi with work people from all the different campuses. They are visiting our baby little town for a conference that is tomorrow. Don't I sound so high powered now? It was fun. I got all the dirt on all the administrations in the whole system. The most fun part about working in a news office is knowing all the news, especially the news you can't publicize. And I had green tea ice cream for dessert. Yum.

Wheeee, and I'm busted flat tired. GOOD NIGHT!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Knock, knock

Who's there?


Oswald who?

Oswald my gum.

For real, by accident. That was so weird.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Breaking news

I just spoke with the licensing worker at the county. Our FBI check came back today. So we have a homestudy scheduled for Sept. 22 at 3 PM! Did I say we were going to be ready to take a placement by October? Why, yes I did!!!

My labor

I wore myself out over Labor Day weekend, so I figure I deserve that title. I'll explain.

Things are pretty much resolved with the school discipline scene. S has apologized to his friend, a kid in his class who lives down the street from us -- S and A have been going over there in the mornings before school, and I really like the family. The mom has been great, really encouraging the kids to talk it out and apologize and forgive. And by the way ... she's a licensed foster parent. Getting to know her has been a tender mercy already and I have a feeling it will seem even more so in the future.

G and I think the school overreacted to what happened. It is tough ... I know they can't allow any kind of hitting or violence, but sometimes kids do hit, they just do, and then they get these severe punishments, and I don't think it helps them. It just casts them in a bad role and places them in danger of playing that role over and over again. Anyway I think G is going to talk to the principal. I probably need to get off my rear and get an IEP for S, honestly. Because if this happens again (and it probably will) we need to be prepared with a consequence that will actually make a difference for him. I don't think a suspension is going to do it. Also I need to get him in for neurofeedback. I intended to do that at the beginning of the summer.

These kinds of things make me feel like I could be a much better mom if I was not obliged to spend eight hours a day at work. Not that I was such a great mom when I was at home full time, but it is very, very hard to get all these things done. There is just not enough time. One night of my life, I would love to go to bed feeling like I got everything accomplished. Just once.

We had a great, productive weekend, all the same. I did mega cleaning and moving things around in preparation for my IKEA expedition which will be Thursday, which is in preparation for foster kids. I reorganized my closet, decluttered my bedroom, vacuumed, decluttered the computer room, moved the queen bed out to the garage, moved the twin bed in, assembled bookshelves for the kids' rooms, packed up all the stuff from the entertainment center and moved the empty hulk out to the garage, painted the drawers on the dresser I got from Sally, and bought and stained new knobs for said dresser. One more coat of paint and I can reassemble the dresser and move it in. (I am leaving most of the dresser its lovely maple stain and staining wood knobs to match. The drawers are glossy white, to cover up some lovely Sharpie art.)

The kids helped some and the rest of the time they played so well together. They also watched Narnia about a zillion times. They have been arguing over who gets to be Peter. I have campaigned in vain for someone to take the role of Aslan or even the centaur (the name escapes me at the moment). Oh well. We went swimming twice, just so I could get the token final sunburn of the year. If you see a pink glow coming from my direction ... well, that's me.

G is working his tail off on his dissertation. I'm so proud of him for barreling through -- this is the hardest part for him (probably for most Ph.D. candidates, actually) but he is doing great and for the first time I think we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. He is back to TAing Environment in Crisis, which really energizes him and helps a lot. He is such a people person. Next semester he might even get to teach the course by himself.