Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bad morning: a primer

See Ana. See Ana rush. Ana has an 8:30 meeting. Rush, rush, rush. Snarf oatmeal. Pack up baby. Take baby to sitter. Rush, rush, rush.

See Ana walk out to van. Look in van. Oh no! Oh no! Keys are on seat! Door is locked! Meeting is in 10 minutes!

See Ana sit in sitter's house holding baby for 45 minutes. See, life is not so bad. This is more fun than a staff meeting.

See Ana greet roadside assistance. What a good friend. Ana loves roadside assistance.

See roadside assistance unlock van. See Ana step up to door. See Ana step in pile of dog poop.

See Ana surrender to the forces of chaos.

Monday, February 26, 2007

All the little things

This is a list of all the little I need to do after the kids go to bed in the evening. Things that fall outside my normal weekly chore list of laundry, bathrooms, dusting and so on. So I always forget about them when I am actually home. Then when I am at work and supposed to be concentrating on other things, all these little things accumulate in my mind and drive me positively insane.

1. Polish my shoes so I look a little less homeless.
2. Iron all my work shirts so I can wear them; sweater season is coming to a close here.
3. Mend the pink couch pillow where someone who shall not be named cut a hole in the back of it with scissors.
4. Mend the second red couch pillow where it came unstitched.
5. Wash off the nasty, disgusting tops of the washer and dryer.
6. Wipe down the outsides of the kitchen cabinets.
7. File the big stack of papers beside my home computer.
8. Do my taxes.
9. Put sheets back on the twin beds in Z's room (no one regularly sleeps on these, so when I stripped them to wash them, I never quite got to the last part of the job).
10. Put ads on Freecycle and Craigslist for the stuff in the garage that I need to get rid of.
11. Clean out the top drawer of my nightstand.
12. Take pictures of all the residual tutus and put them up on
13. Try ironing the jute rug in the family room and put a real rug pad under it. (Do not be fooled by the promise of rug tape, people, for it will bind you with its flaxen cords and lead you surely down to hell)
14. Sort Z's 0-3 month clothes into stuff I can send to my sister M for her baby due in June versus stuff I have to keep for future accountability (basically, stuff my friends and family gave me, versus stuff I bought with Z's clothing allowance or stuff that S provided). Put it all in the garage.
15. Speaking of baby clothes, deliver gift sitting on my dresser that I intended to give at a baby shower two weeks ago that I ended up ditching because I was just too tired.
16. Put candles on the mantel to replace the ones I threw away in frustration over the weekend because the wicks were all buried.

Okay, that's enough. I'm starting to think now about the bigger things that really need to get done, like replacing all the blinds in the house. We have four windows with mini blinds. They all worked when we moved in two years ago. They are all now broken. Spawn of Satan window coverings.

Back to work. I hope I can leave home at home now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Food lessons learned

So I have learned some good food lessons in the last week, and I thought I'd share.

1. Those dried blueberries from Costco ROCK in my oatmeal. Thank you, mom! I need a Costco membership now in spite of the fact that I know full well I cannot go in that store without spending $150.

2. You can make egg rolls in the oven for your Chinese New Year celebration (photo). They are not the same as deep fried, of course, but they are still good.

3. You can rescue overcooked pork chops if you have about 8 hours to do it. Plop them in the crock pot on low all day with some barbecue sauce.

4. If you find some really old Rhodes rolls in the back of your freezer, just don't bother. The yeast in mine worked about like a 90 year old man before Viagra.

5. The chocolate chip cookie recipe in The Best Light Recipe from Cook's Illustrated is honestly better than the full-fat Betty Crocker recipe I normally make. SO good. Chewy on the edges, soft in the middle.

6. G makes amazing lemon bars.

7. I can gain 3 pounds in one weekend from egg rolls, cookies, lemon bars, and whatever else I ate.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm good

In case people were wondering ...

I am actually fine. I am not really put off by anti-adoption snipers, not when I really think about it. Sure, when I first read it my first reaction is, "I never should have made our story so public." But I don't think that's right. I share on purpose, because I believe it does some good. One or two negative people are not going to change that.

Plus, I recognize most anti-adoption people are probably speaking from very deep hurt and difficult personal experience. I don't want to discount what they have gone through and I don't want to disrespect adoptees or birthfamilies. Just the opposite. It is toxic for my kids if I can't respect other parts of the triad. (And if I have a hard time doing that sometimes, I work it out here, not with my kids. Which I think is a good thing, actually.)

But, like Bek said in her comment, their story is not my story or my kids' story. I expect them to respect that.

We had a nice visit with S today. She was 35 minutes late. It gave me a good chance to chat with the social worker, who reminded me S has a long way to go before she is ready to take Z back -- seeing as how she is still in an inpatient clinic, lacking transportation, and not really able to keep it together when things don't appear to be going her way-- and everything will still be up to the judge. Which is absolutely true. A judge can still decide that Z's life is just not something to gamble with.

So I'm still up here on my balance beam, but I have a very cheeky, cute baby to focus on to keep from falling. And really appreciating all the support from dear friends.

In other news, I ate at a new restaurant for lunch with my co-workers. It's not online, but it's called Madison's. Thai-continental fusion. I had warm coriander beef salad with snap peas and carrots. Faaaaaaabulous. Come visit me, I'll take you out. You too, anon. For lunch, I mean. Really.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Change is gonna come

Only registered users can comment on Watch Out for Mama now.

I'm happy to engage in discussion. But not with people who are not brave enough to tell their own stories and give some indication of who they are.

Considering what I am putting out there, I think that's fair.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The real worst

So, there's a blog that finds posts from adoptive families and blasts them. I'm not linking them, because I don't want to feed the fire. (Although I'll thank them for the traffic ... haha!) I'm accused there of "wishing for the worst," hoping that S stays addicted and we keep Z.

Obviously they skimmed one post of mine and made that judgement. Anybody who knows my story knows that is not the case. They're just wrong about that. If you came here from that blog, make up your own mind.

I want to say, though, that I think that would not be the worst thing that could happen. It would be the worst for S, yes. But she is not the only person in this story.

The real worst would be if S gets clean long enough to get Z back, then relapses and Z ends up being hurt in some way. The possibilities are unfortunately endless. The literal toxic poisons of meth in the home. A mother whose addiction makes her forget to feed, bathe, clothe a child. Compromised judgement leading to a bad choice of boyfriend who would hurt a little girl. A car accident from a mom driving while tweaking. A child learning from the example of a mom who parties instead of nurtures.

That would be the real worst. And when I say these things I am not hating on S. I am just recognizing the awful power of the addiction that has gripped her in the past and the potential for her to relapse. I've seen this stuff fairly close up in the past. I've heard the reactions of kids who went through it with their moms addicted. I've seen the fallout.

There is a child here, and because of that it is just not about S anymore. Yes, I should love her and forgive her, and I am trying to do that, as hard as it is for me. But she is not my first responsibility. Sick though she may be, she is an adult. Z needs my care and vigilance much more.

How much are we willing to risk in order to keep a biological family together?

It's an open question.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Z update

It's been pointed out to me that I did not ever share what happened with the Feb. 6 court date. Oops, sorry. But mainly I never shared because nothing ever happened.

They trailed the hearing until Feb. 28. Our social worker does not think the DNA test results will be back by then, so it's likely to be delayed even further.

S (Z's mom, whom I still want to call birthmom, if not meth mommy) asked the social worker if she would recommend placing Z with the alleged paternal birth aunt. How is that for a convoluted relationship? The social worker said she told S that Z is being very well cared for and if Z were her daughter she would not mess with it. That was nice. So maybe S will not press for that particular placement. We'll see.

The creepy news is that some of the moms in the inpatient rehab center where S is right now actually have their children with them. S wants to have Z with her there. Well, of course she does. But I would think that the system would be a little wary of someone who has a demonstrated meth addiction to the point where she has already lost four children because of it. Have I mentioned that? Yeah. I would think they would maybe want her to prove that she can stay clean in a normal environment before they trust her with a child.

I'll say it again: I like S. I wish the best for her. She is in fact doing really well. She got a job working in a rest home as a CNA. (Sal pointed out the irony of that ... yeah, it makes me think twice about rest homes.) I am glad for S; it's a good step for her. But I don't trust her any further than the end of Z's baby toes.

She says she wants to stay in the rehab center for a year. That is a long time. Which has caused me to think, can I be in this for that long if I am going to be heartbroken at the end? Or would I rather have Z go to the alleged paternal aunt and try to get over her and move on to a baby I can keep?

That is really not an easy question because I really do want a child who will be with us forever.

But I have decided I love Z enough that I will be her backup. If that is all I can be for her, then I will be that. And I will treasure every day when she smiles up at me from the changing table in the morning, so happy to greet the morning. And every moment when she so earnestly coos out her deepest thoughts and gurgles whatever it is she is trying to hard to communicate to me. Every exhausted cuddle and frustrated cry.

It has also made me think really seriously that there is no guarantee with any of our kids, that we will have them here with us tomorrow. My amazing friend K who I work with in Young Women lost her 11 year old son in a car accident 20 years ago. She talks frequently about him. I think she is what she is -- a spiritual giantess, really -- because of that loss. I know she never expected it. Any one of us can be blindsided by things like that. We don't like to consider the possibility. But it's there.

Having Z is kind of like having a child with a life-threatening illness. It is hard knowing that she could go. It is challenging to continue to hope that she will stay.

Because of her I have thought more about the preciousness of every moment with my family. I am trying harder to let the little things go. So S wants to wear the same clothes to school today that he wore to school yesterday ... okay, I do not need to draw a line in the sand over that. So A is whining and crying again ... I will try to comfort him instead of sending him away. So G is doing one more stupid little thing that annoys me ... I can let it go.

Just another way Baby Z is a miracle and a blessing in our family.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stuff 'n'stuff

Here is what I am loving lately.

Donna Karan Gold perfume, which I asked for for Christmas and did not get. So I did what any reasonable woman would do. I bought it for myself at Sephora in Las Vegas when no one was looking. It reminds me of the Laura Ashley No. 1 I used to wear as a teenager. (Sally kindly pointed out to me that I could still buy half a bottle on eBay. For like $150. Uh, I am just not that rich, plus it would bug me to have a used toiletry item.) This new perfume is still sweet and floral but a little more mature. I am walking around smelling myself all day and loving it.

Sephora. Holy cool. Because you know what I hate about buying makeup and stuff from department stores? Salespeople. Sorry, but they just make me freak out and run away. But at Sephora it is seriously as easy as buying drugstore makeup. The difference is that the products are actually nice.

Airborne or the generic version thereof. I was a Zicam fan before. And that works. But I got some generic Airborne type stuff for really cheap at BigLots. And I started taking it when I started feeling icky. It tastes okay, no chalky zinc tablet to chew, since you dissolve it in water like Alka Seltzer. And I am FINE! Two days later, no trace of the ominous ickies! That is something to shout about, so forgive my prodigious use of exclamation points! Thanks to this stuff I can actually smell my yummy new perfume!

Old-fashioned oatmeal. I think I have finally burned myself out on Kashi GoLean Crunch after eating it almost every day for ... oh, 5 years or something like that. What I am doing now is throwing a handful of oats in the microwave with skim milk for six minutes while I toddle outside to get the newspaper, then stirring in fruit or raisins along with about a teaspoon of chopped nuts. It is a yummy yummy breakfast and I think I am cutting back on the sugar. My mother is probably now in shock, as I railed against oatmeal for most of my childhood. I have learned the error of my ways! (By the way, mom, I now also eat tuna and eggplant. And like them. But you probably knew that.) This is where I am getting free audio loops for the podcast I produce at work. They are not half bad. I still wish for some original stuff. Musicians? Email me.

That's all. It was a short list but a good list.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

No roses

Can you handle more husband bragging from me? I know it probably gets obnoxious. Sorry. But you know I'm going to do it anyway.

Last night I was hammered -- in the most virtuous possible way. I traveled last week on business, flying in an airplane to do so, which means I am now fighting a cold and catching up at work. I was in charge of the Mia Maids activity last night. I have been getting up at night with Z so G can catch up on the work he couldn't do while I was gone last week. It all just feeds on itself, to the point where last night the house was trashed and the boys were only half done with their Valentines.

I went to bed at 10. As soon as House was over. How about that surgery and that thing he pulled out of that girl? I don't want to ruin it for you in case you Tivoed it, but that was pretty much amazingly gross.

Anyway, G stayed up, cleaned up, and finished up the Valentines. He let me get to work on time for an 8:30 meeting this morning and took care of refilling S's prescription and getting the boys to school. And he left me a sweet note and then emailed me to ask me how I was feeling.

Who in the heck needs roses? But the day's not over yet.

G is getting a Valentine card and a case for his iPod. I suspect he may have something else in store for me. But if not, seriously, his taking care of our family last night was enough. I am just so grateful to have the husband and the marriage that I have. I am a lucky, lucky mama.

(This picture, if you are not fortunate enough to know, is from No Roses for Harry, which I love.)

Happy Valentine's Day. Hope you get pampered by somebody.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The cake

So last night we went to a little potluck get-together with other grad students, mostly married with kids. We have discovered that these are a lot more Sabbath-appropriate than the all-call grad student parties, as you can imagine. (At the latter, there's no way three bottles of wine would last the whole evening, for one thing.) The food at these parties is generally fantastic as the participants come from all over the world. Last night we had entries from China, Nepal and Chile.

And from Utah Mormonism, of course -- my contribution. I pieced it together from recipes in the Farm Journal cookbook I got from Grandma Irvine when she moved (the cake -- spices added by me) and the Lion House Christmas book I got this year (the frosting), plus a little pumpkin cream filling I made up myself.

I have to say, in my humblest way, it was amazing. And a huge hit, even with the international crowd -- not always super fond of sweets.

Pumpkin Spice Cake A La Mama

Pumpkin Spice Cake
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature (the recipe calls for shortening, but I say never!)
1 c granulated sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c canned solid-pack pumpkin
1 tsp. maple extract

3 c all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice

1/2 c whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with cooking spray and placing parchment or waxed paper in the bottom (cut to fit). Then spray again over the paper.

Cream butter well, then slowly add sugars, eggs, pumpkin and maple extract.

In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. (I always just whisk them together because I don't have a sifter. It works fine.)

Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk as you beat on medium-low speed. As soon as everything is incorporated, stop mixing. You do not want to overbeat this cake, or it will get chewy -- there is a lot of wet stuff to activate the gluten in the flour.

Divide the cake into the two pans you have prepared and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the cakes test done. Cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Then cover your rack with parchment or wax paper and turn cakes out to cool further.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cream Filling
1/3 c corn starch
2/3 c brown sugar
pinch salt
1/4 c dark corn syrup or molasses
2 c whole milk

1 egg, beaten in a small bowl

1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c solid pack canned pumpkin

Whisk together corn starch, sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan. Gradually stir in milk and corn syrup.

Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Boil and stir one minute. Add half of mixture to egg in bowl, stirring briskly. Re-incorporate egg mixture into pan. Re-heat to boiling; boil and stir one minute.

Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla, then stir in pumpkin. Allow to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1/4 c butter
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Hot water as needed

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Stir in powdered sugar gradually. No powdered sugar clouds. Add vanilla and stir. If frosting is too thick to spread, add hot water, 1 tsp at a time, until it is soft enough.

Cake Assembly
Put a smear of frosting on your cake plate to hold the cake in place. Center the first layer on the plate.

Top with pumpkin cream filling. You might not use it all -- that's okay. Use your judgement. I used about half of my mixure. You want it to be about 1/2 inch from the edge of the cake. You will have better luck with this the cooler the cream has become. It will be more solid as it gets cooler.

Place the top layer on the cake.

Frost around the edges at the middle between the two layers first. Don't think of it as spreading frosting; just kind of tuck it in to seal in the pumpkin cream.

Then frost the rest of the cake. You should have just enough frosting! I did! Lucky I didn't let G steal any ... mean, mean me!

I decorated the sides of the cake with sliced almonds and the top with a sprig of chocolate mint from my herb pot.

I am really sorry I didn't take a picture. I need to establish that habit now that I have my own good digital camera. I guess you will just have to make your own cake!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Craft stores are dangerous

At least in my town.

Fight between women in craft store may have resulted in miscarriage

Merced police are investigating a fight between two women in a North Merced store that may have resulted in one of them losing her 2-month-old fetus.

Lt. Andre Matthews of the Merced Police Department said a 27-year-old Merced woman challenged a 23-year-old pregnant woman to a fight at 3:30 p.m. Thursday inside Michael's craft store at 655 Fairfield Drive.

Matthews said the 27-year-old woman pushed the victim against a shopping cart, and turned the cart over. Her 1-year-old son landed on the floor.

The child received minor bumps and bruises in the fall but his distraught mother complained of abdominal pain. She was taken by ambulance to the Community Campus of Mercy Medical Center Merced where she reportedly aborted the fetus, Matthews said.

The 27-year-old woman was placed under citizen's arrest for misdemeanor assault but the incident remains under investigation and police will be checking on the pregnancy aspect. The women may have had a history of past conflict, Matthews said.

The lieutenant said the woman had tried to ignore the confrontation before she was pushed against the shopping cart.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 385-2485 or

Holly's cool stuff for kids

My adoptive-mama friend Dr. Holly (congratulations on the fresh Ph.D.!) has a cool new blog focused only on cool, educational stuff for kids. Link heaven at Cool Stuff for Kids.

Holly is also a homeschooling mom and a clergyperson (Episcopal, I think ... is that right, Holly?). Her busy life doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging but she also blogs about her family occasionally at Coolclan.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Well, I don't want to travel again for a while. I pretty much always hate Las Vegas by the time I leave. This was a weird trip. The people at the conference really didn't gel into a group and it made it kind of a lonely time. The content was excellent (learning all about animal extremists, woo!) but no new friends. On the upside of that, I didn't have to miss American Idol or House on Tuesday. Not that American Idol is worth watching yet. We'll get there.

The other plus for this trip was the spa at the Mirage. I didn't even get any spa services, just paid to work out and use the jacuzzi and stuff. It was super -- so relaxing and I was treated so nicely even though I was the cheapskate guest! I now so want to do a spa thing with my mom and sisters sometime, or maybe with girlfriends. It would be amazingly fun!

My flight home was delayed and I got in at 12:45 AM Wednesday night. That sucked, big time. If you are ever tempted to fly directly into my little town in order to save an hour or two driving to the airport in a nearby larger town, just remember that if you are delayed by a couple hours it will nullify that time savings. And apparently it happens all the time. Wish I'd known. Also the little propeller planes you have to fly on to do that, which are "so Howard Hughes" according to my Pink-Floyd-listening taxi driver in Vegas, are incredibly loud and will leave your butt buzzing for hours afterward. Not in a good way, either. I am still tired from that stupid night.

A had a tummy bug when I got home so I kept him with me yesterday. The day was more or less wasted except for answering e-mails, taking Z to appointments, and turning in my expenses from the trip. So I still have a ginormous pile of work to catch up on. (I learned that word from the Beehives. Cute, huh? Ha --)

Onward ... yawn ...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


So, V tagged me to list six unusual things about myself. Nothing seems that unusual to me. I mean, I live with me every day. So it's all normal to me, ya know?

1. I used to have my own top-rated radio show. On this station. That's right -- Sundays, 5 - 10 AM, I was the top dog on the soft rock airwaves. It was a good gig for a high school girl. They are actually playing much cooler music now than they did then. Guess I was just 15 years too early.

2. Foster mom. You guys know all about this already. It's unusual because most people aren't foster parents. That's all.

3. After this weekend I will have watched every episode of Jeeves and Wooster. It is particularly satisfying to watch a few of this and then a few of House on DVD. Cute, rubberfaced Hugh Laurie, meet scary mean hilarious Hugh Laurie. Oh, you two are going to be great friends.

4. White parents, rainbow kids. Again, normal for me. But most families just don't look like mine.

5. Being on TV is a pretty normal part of my job.

6. Published in the Friend magazine. But not recently. I'm thinking mebbe they found the blog and tagged me as a Mormon of questionable standing. Hm. I would not get mad at anybody for not publishing my stuff; they paid me for it when I needed it, and I can't complain. But I would hate for anybody to think I'm going anywhere away from the Church. I'm not.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Who needs joints?

Not me, for this update. Bullets are my friend.
  • Thursday's visit: We arrived at the agency and signed in. They paged the social worker twice. The receptionist left for lunch. We waited half an hour. No one ever showed up. I still don't know what happened.
  • S slept for two days straight with the stupid croup. Out for two days of school and home after sacrament meeting today. He is still wiped out starting about 7:30 p.m. But I think he can go to school tomorrow.
  • A learned about the First Vision in Primary today. G asked him if he believed in that story, and he said yes. Asked why, he responded, "People have pictures that show it." I think we might have to discuss the difference between photos and paintings sometime. Nonetheless, very sweet innocent faith.
  • I removed all the stuff from the kitchen counters and cleaned them with bleach. Guess what? My grout is white! I hate tile counters. Hate.
  • Also washed 7 loads of laundry and then hid it in the bedroom while feeding missionaries. Ever heard "out of sight, out of mind?" Yeah, I totally forgot it. It's still there, and I think it's growing.
  • I have to go to Las Vegas tomorrow and stay until Wednesday. Not my favorite town. But at least I get a nice hotel. Conference about animal research. Should be interesting. And I'm leaving my husband with the laundry unfolded. Me, guilty? Nah.
  • You may remember the rescheduled court date for Z's case is Tuesday. I am not sure what is going to happen but they still have not done the paternity testing. They called us, we called back, and then we heard nothing until Thursday, when they called again. I will call back tomorrow, but I can't see how it's going to get done in time for a hearing Tuesday.
  • Rockin' baby sale at JC Penney. Carter's, cheap.
  • Stake YW leadership meeting Thursday. Seriously considering skipping, as I am basically not seeing my family between now and then.
Crazy life. Bullet points absolutely necessary. Hold your breath; the week is about to begin.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Oh my gosh, it's a recipe

I looked back and I think the last time I posted a recipe was in November. Uh, that's a long time.

And yet I have managed to eat during all that time! I must be cooking something!

Here is one I made a couple of weeks ago -- back in January. We had it with the beer bread that Sally gave me the mix for for Christmas. (She even gave me the beer. So much appreciated!) You can't go wrong with that mix ... but the combination with the beans ... was yum.

This recipe also has the benefits of being vegetarian, ultra cheap, super easy, and made almost completely from food storage ingredients, except for the fresh garlic. I guess if it was Armageddon or something you could substitute garlic powder.

Fagioli all'Uccelletto (Tuscany Beans)

1/2 c olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (don't be a chicken, now!)
6-8 c cooked white beans
1 large can tomatoes with juice
About 3 c. (2 cans) broth of your choice -- chicken or vegetable
1 tbsp ground sage

Saute garlic briefly in oil. Don't let it brown or burn. Add broth, beans, tomatoes and sage. Simmer 20 minutes.

This is the nicest winter dinner served with a nice salad full of bitter greens and a crusty bread. Some nice, hard grated cheese to sprinkle on the beans is a bonus, too.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Let's laugh

This will help.


Two gassy awakenings, three bad dreams, one croupy cough and one jealous brother who still has to go to kindergarten.

One meeting with S for Z and me later today.

Did I say I was feeling good?

I wanna quit.