Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's nice to know

Your Celebrity Baby Name Is...

Laprincia Sonora

If I had been born to celebrities it was obviously going to be to an African American celebrity family, like maybe the Jacksons. I could have been a lot more famous but also a lot more messed up. If only they knew what they were missing when they decided not to have me, the darling LaPrincia.

Women in my history

March is Women's History Month, and I've been thinking about influential women in my history. They deserve some credit. This post will be about women in my family. I have another one brewing about other women, too.

First, of course, I have to mention my very powerful matrilineal ancestors. When I follow the women straight back several generations, I find Sarah Crossley, a handcart pioneer. She was my Mormon fairytale when I was a little girl -- crossed the plains in the Martin Company and became the fourth wife of the missionary who converted her family and then rescued her from the snows of Wyoming.

Her daughter, Mary Elvira is the woman I can thank for great ideas like keeping a hand-crank freezer full of ice cream under the bed for those pesky hot flashes -- and sayings like "Better belly bust than good food go to waste!"

Mary Elvira's daughter Alice was my great-grandmother and has left a wonderful life history that has greatly influenced my testimony about answers to prayer and the healing power of priesthood blessings. A spunky tomboy who grew up on a farm in Bountiful, she was always getting hurt or in trouble and being rescued by her mother's prayers and her father's blessings. Our time on earth crossed very briefly. I remember her teaching me to roll my r's and making delicious mustard pickles in her kitchen in the basement of my grandma's house in Draper.

That grandma, Alice's daughter, is still living and has taught me more than I can say -- the beauty of a well kept home and garden, the value of good home cooking, unwavering dedication to Church service, and perhaps most of all, absolute fearlessness about death and assurance of the power of the Atonement and of God's plan for our eternal lives. Grandma was a working mom in the age of June Cleaver and an early advocate of ideas like equal pay for equal work. She also sacrificed her career when it became necessary in favor of serving the Lord. She is uncompromising about good manners, good language and good choices. What a wonderful legacy.

Next in line is my mother. I know most every woman has a lot to say about her mother, good or bad. I'm very lucky that it's really all good for me. This is the woman who taught me that I am beautiful, smart and good, and that every child of God deserves equal respect and love -- black and white and brown. Hatred and mockery were as unacceptable in our home as the coarsest curses. And if I ever heard her swear, I would still think the word was coming to an end. She has striven to obey and learned when to question. She has had her heart broken and mended again. She can do everything, from caring for a cranky, ailing loved one to whipping up a wedding dress or creating a beautiful painting. She has spent a very big part of her life and talents on the six of us, her children. The world has missed out, but we have benefited. Now the world gets her, too, as she works with at-risk children in the schools, helping them learn to read or visiting their homes and speaking to their parents -- often in Spanish -- about how to support their children's school efforts.

I cannot leave out my dad's mother, the energetic, enterprising, maybe slightly mischievous grandma who -- after a career as a school librarian while her kids were growing up -- decided she'd like to go into real estate. She was the first person I ever knew who had a cell phone. She opened her own brokerage in her 60s and has prospered well in that field. She's a sharpshooter -- literally -- with a penchant for pretty pocketknives, pearl-handled pistols, parties and practical jokes. (That alliteration worked out so well!) Like many mothers, I think, she has navigated the challenges of giving unconditional love versus tough love as her children have gone through hard times. More often, she has chosen the unconditional side, and I think she has been right. Her grandchildren have been unspeakably blessed to have her support -- not the same for all of us, but what we each needed, showing her wisdom and compassion.

I have two amazing sisters. Mary, whose talent for sleeping we always joke about, is actually a girl who can do pretty much whatever she wants. She is beautiful, patient, smart and strong. She knows how to make her own fun. She had the good insight to marry a chef. She is spiritually wise. Marta is a girl everybody thought was my daughter -- she was born when I was 15. (She just turned 18, which means I am now old.) I am floored by her ability to achieve and be involved in worthwhile causes like Operation Smile and a student shadow government in her town. I admire the way that, at such a young age, she is able to decide what is most important to her. Lovely and stylish, she is ultimately fun to follow as she grows into an amazing woman.

The last little woman in my family life is Z. Who is chubby and happy and funny and sweet, and who is teaching me everything about everything. Having a little girl has changed everything and nothing. I always wanted to make the world good and safe for her, even before I knew her. I always knew she would overcome whatever obstacles life placed in her path.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gone but not forgotten

I lived in the suburbs of Pittsburgh from 1985-89. Apparently it had a pretty big effect on me.

You are 87% Pittsburgh.

Great job! There's nooooo doubt about it. You're from Da Burgh. You deserve a reward, so go have an Ahrn City or two. And GO STILLERS!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What kind of harassment is this?

So G is leaving tonight for a meeting. For the last two days he has been at home maybe a total of 4 hours. He spent the night in the office last night working on his poster. Then this morning I dropped Z off with him for maybe 10 minutes so he could (1) see her and (2) give her a bottle while I got my computer out of my office and prepare to work at home for the day.

A professor (not G's advisor, but a different professor, who shall remain nameless) came in and said, "So, G, are you still a Ph.D. student?"

G replied in the affirmative. The professor said, "Looks like another kind of work to me."

I am fuming! I am barely holding myself back from sending this pompous a$$ a nasty e-mail. I don't think it would be at all helpful to G if I did that. Neither would it be helpful to me, as I have to work with this professor occasionally.

If G were a woman taking a 10 minute break to nurse a baby, this kind of harassment would be illegal, I am pretty sure. But for a father, I am not sure what kind of harassment it is or whether it is illegal. All I know is that it is so, so wrong.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Not a booger (I swear)

So just to catch you all up ...

After last week's stress at work, I got a little cold. I kicked its booty with lots of zinc and my favorite remedy. No sick days, thank you very much. I am tough.

On Saturday I folded 8 loads of laundry. Two that never got folded last week (thank you G for intending to finish the laundry for me last week). I also sorted through all the boys' clothes to make sure they only have seasonally appropriate, non-stained, non-ripped, clothing that actually fits them in their drawers. This included hemming up three pair of cutoffs and some sleeves that S chewed through when he was a kindergartener. Yeah, he's still a little oral. Anyway. I also cleaned bathrooms and made the snacks below.

Somehow, all of this decided to manifest itself in a ginormous zit on the edge of my nostril. You know the kind that kind of glows and throbs so you feel like you're walking around with a flashing light on your face?

Even when I put makeup on it, it still looks pretty suspicious. Once I read a very clever definition of naivete: the condition wherein you think that if you put concealer on your zits, no one will see them. Wish I could remember where to credit that one.

So all three boys (even the thirtysomething one, to be clear) are repeatedly asking me if I want a Kleenex. It's so charming. Next week they can just fold their own darn laundry.

A treatish snack

The same boy who broke my new digital camera so I have to use cell phone pictures again? He is the one who requested "a treatish snack." I dreamed up these.

Treatish Turtles

12 oz chocolate chips
1 c roasted, salted peanuts, plus a few for decoration
3 graham crackers

Break the graham crackers in fourths along the perforations (I don't know what else to call those!). Then cut each rectangle in half so you have 24 little grahamy squares. Place them on parchment or wax paper.

Melt your chocolate chips in the microwave, initially for 1 minute, and then for 30 seconds at a time until you can stir them smooth. Stir in the peanuts, except for 24 you are saving for decoration.

Scoop the chocolate and peanut mixture onto the graham crackers. A 1 tbsp scoop is ideal for this.

Decorate with a peanut on top of each.

Good luck letting these cool before you eat them all. Hey, they have peanuts and graham crackers. That is snack food. The chocolate is the only treatish part.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lull and tutus

We are in a lull at work. Tox screen results may be back Friday, and then we'll see what happens.

I learned how to say "tox screen" instead of the long and unwieldy "toxicology screening" from my favorite show. I think maybe it makes me sound more experienced than I am in working with news about dead teenagers, which is of course not experienced at all except for this one story, now. Which has consumed virtually every waking moment since Sunday afternoon, and a few moments before that. I am not made for grief. It wears me out.

Anyway in this lull my boss encouraged me to take an afternoon off. So I have been photographing tutus and posting them in my new online shop on

You would think I would be done talking about tutus, a year later. But I still had all these in my garage and you know, I don't think Z is going to be able to use quite all of them. And I put some money in supplies and still would like to think perhaps I could break even. Perhaps.

That's all I've got for ya today.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I can't say

I can't say I resent how work is sucking up my life right now. And actually I really don't. I regret not being with my kids, but you know what, I will see them sleeping, breathing in their beds tonight. And right now I am working to try to help absorb some of the impact (media impact, namely) for some parents who won't ever have that joy again.

We lost a student over the weekend. It's such a sad time.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Working for the weekend

This weekend, here is what I need to do:
  • Laundry
  • Bathrooms
  • Groceries
  • Filing
  • Taxes
Sounds fulfilling, doesn't it?

No wonder I can't get started. I have four episodes of House on DVD and basket of knitting calling my name right now.

Yep, this is what I bust my butt for all week long. That relaxing weekend time.

Speaking of which, when I came home from work today, the kids were in time out for dumping two huge Rubbermaid bins of summer clothes on their bedroom floor, the baby was wailing to be fed, and the smell of burned Costco pizza was in the air. Just wanted to give you a little mental picture there.

I have decided there are three simple things that would make my life a lot better. I really think they are not too much to ask. This list is as follows:
  • Big, nice house
  • Nanny
  • Housekeeper
See, I am a simple girl ...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Somehow we got this ball ...

By default, I guess.

My in-laws are having their 50th wedding anniversary later this spring. G is almost the baby of the family and we kind of expected some of the older and better established siblings (read: wealthier siblings) to take the ball and run -- to organize some kind of get-together. Not so. Kind of surprising.

But maybe this is for the best. Now we can get things started and organize a party close to home. It makes sense, since the place my in-laws lived as newlyweds was -- TA-DAH! -- San Francisco, two hours away from us.

Dare I hope we can control this? Get all these fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mad-scientist physics types and busy grown-ups with teenagers to actually come together on a planned event that they are not in charge of? Scary.

Also that we can avoid paying for plane fare to Montana or Alaska or driving to Arizona, and going through the process of trying to get a court order to travel out of state with Z?

And there are some gorgeous big beach houses near San Francisco that we could get into if everybody pitched in. (I was going to link them but then you might take them for your family reunion!)

It seems almost too good, now that I think of it this way. We'll just pray for buy-in.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Adventures with curry paste

The latest issue of Everyday Food had this great spicy kebab recipe, which we had for Sunday dinner today with some brown rice and a sort of peanut-dressed Asian slaw. Yum.

Spicy Beef Kebabs
1/4 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp red curry paste (mae ploy)

10 oz beef sirloin cut in 1-inch cubes
1 can pineapple chunks
1 onion, cut in eighths, layers separated

Heat broiler; soak skewers.

Mix all top ingredients into a sauce.

Thread beef, pineapple and onions onto skewers. Place on jellyroll pan lined with parchment or foil. Brush with sauce. (Reserve remaining sauce for dipping, garnishing with sesame seeds or hot pepper flakes.)

Broil 7-8 minutes, until beef is medium and onions begin to char.

And a bonus recipe ...

Pineapple Lemonade
Juice from 1 can of pineapple
1/2 c lemon juice
1 c sugar
Ice and water to make 1 gallon

Stir to combine.

P.S. We've accepted an offer on our condo for $5100 above our asking price. Wow!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sugar House reel

So we still own our sweet, odd little condo in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake. You know ... the one that almost killed us our first year here with the three different deals that fell through? Which caused us to not rent it out, and pay double housing for a whole year after taking a 25% pay cut so G could start a Ph.D.? That sucked. We finally rented it out in October 2004 and with a couple months' exception, it's been rented ever since. We're not making money on it, but we're not losing much -- maybe $15/month or so.

Well, this week we got a call from a realtor in the same office as our old realtor who said he had some people interested and wondered if we were interested in listing it again. We decided to give it a go.

Apparently the market in Salt Lake has changed a little bit. As of today we have two full-price offers. The realtor expects two more tomorrow. Holy moses. Maybe our asking price was too low. Huh. It was $15k higher than what we started at 3.5 years ago, and we are still going to make a nice little chunk on this property. I'm so glad we didn't sell it for nothing three years ago. We came darn close.

Anyway, so we are going to have a little nest egg to sock away for when G gets a doctorate and a grown-up job. I so wish we could put it in a house of our own right now. I know exactly where I would want to live. But I keep telling myself ... when the time is right, the right house will be there. I've been telling myself that for about 7 years now, ever since we bought the condo in 2000. Then I had my eye on a darling little brick cottage in the same neighborhood. Looks a little less likely now.

When we moved away from that condo, I cried. It was where S learned to walk, where A came home as a newborn. We put our heart and soul into it ... new windows, new flooring, painting walls and cabinets, my little xeriscaped garden. Sewing curtains, raking leaves. The first place that was ever ours. The only one so far. We'll probably never have a chance again to live in a pink gemstone-brick house with a berry-colored door and a walled patio where crabapple trees bloom for my birthday.

But we'll live somewhere else wonderful. I can't wait to see where.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The tardy cookies

These are, more or less, the killer chocolate chip cookies I was talking about from The Best Light Recipe. I have made them probably 6 times already for different things. They are so way good.

Mine are probably not quite as light as theirs, because I have a moral problem with using only 1/3 c of chocolate chips.

But honestly, this is so much better than the way I used to do chocolate chip cookies. I always had trouble getting the texture right. This seems to be foolproof.

I usually double the recipe.

Not Quite as Light Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 c butter, melted and cooled, NO SUBSTITUTES
1 c brown sugar (substitute 1 c white sugar + 1 tsp molasses if necessary)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 bag chocolate chips

Mix butter and sugar in your mixer until no lumps remain. Smash lumps with a spoon if you must. No lumps. Add egg and vanilla.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture while stirring at low speed.

Fold in chips.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cheese in the trees

I love this picture ... largely because you can see in it that I encourage my kids to be fashion weirdos. Union Jack socks? Okay! Cheetah pants with a tail? Yes, go for it!

Also because you can see my genius dad making sure my kids don't fall and break their legs. I wish we could all be together every single weekend.

Also because, hello, fabulous smiles. I love my boys.

This was at Woodward Park in Fresno a couple of weeks ago. Very fun place to spend an afternoon checking out the ducks and geese, climbing trees and exploring the Japanese garden.

Just thought I'd go for an easy, fun post today. The last few have been kind of intense.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


I just sang in a choir for our stake youth re-enactment of the Kirtland Temple dedication. They do this every four years as part of their seminary curriculum. I was part of a small adult choir that sang the Hosanna Anthem, which I forgot was insanely high throughout. I think maybe the human voice has evolved lower in the last 171 years.

The cultural hall was pretty well transformed with very detailed butcher paper drawings hung all around and pulpits constructed from risers and tables and wrapped in paper with hand-drawn detail. Completely done by seminary students, completely non-slick and non-produced.

The early leadership of the Church was portrayed by the gangly 15-, 16- and 17-year-old boys of our stake. Their readings were not particularly vivid or inspired. Their costumes consisted mostly of turning up the collars of their Arrow white shirts and tying their ties with big knots.

And when they stood up to sustain Joseph Smith along with the real Melchizedek Priesthood holders -- their dads and teachers in the audience -- followed by their 12-year-old brothers representing the Aaronic Priesthood, and then by the whole room -- my heart burned and tears filled my eyes. What an amazing opportunity to sustain the first prophet of this dispensation. That was an absolutely undeniable feeling.

As our stake president demonstrated the Hosanna shout in a tearful whisper, the same feeling.

Then we sang that crazy high song and it was powerful and beautiful.

The Spirit can make something so much more than we can. I am so grateful I was there for this one.

Book rave

A couple of weeks ago, when this book was reviewed at By Common Consent, I ordered it. Then this week when it was reviewed at Feminist Mormon Housewives, I started it.

I responded to that second review saying it would probably be a few weeks before I finished it. Nonfiction books are not usually books I stay up at night to read. This one was.

And then I had to stay up more to send an email to everyone in my family (my parents and siblings, I mean) to tell them to get it and read it ... and to tell them they rock!

And then I had to blog about it! It will be a wonder if I get any sleep tonight at all!

This book is almost pure stories of people who have confronted the divide between religious faith and homosexuality -- their own homosexuality or that of a beloved family member. Stories will reel me in any day of the week. I guess Sister Pearson knew that.

The thing that makes me sad is that I had asked some friends to read it with me and got one hesitant maybe. It's still scary. I understand that. It has taken me a long time to figure out how I feel about my brothers being gay. Maybe I am still figuring out. But we have to be brave and figure it out, because so much is at stake!

It's a must, folks. If you love more than about 10 people in your life, it's a must. Or if you think you someday might. Even if none of your kids are gay, at least one of your grandkids probably will be. And in the world we live in, it won't be a secret. You will know. They will tell you. They will look into your eyes searching for your response. What remains to figure out is what YOU are going to do, and what will ripple out from there. Into their lives, and bounce off the shore and come back to you.

If you want that to be openness and love, this book has some good examples. If you are thinking maybe you couldn't do openness and love with a gay person, this book has a lot of sad and scary examples to convince you otherwise.

I want to just plead with the people who feel like this is too fringy a topic and somehow convince them how much better it would be to confront their discomfort BEFORE they have someone coming out to them, desperate for acceptance. I know that plea is not going to reach everybody or sit well with everybody, even among the people I know and love best.

Still, the book made me feel like times may be changing. I don't know everything change would mean, and I certainly know I'm not in charge of it. But the idea makes me want to shout for joy. I guess that means maybe I have figured out more than I knew.

I have a big mental list of people I want to give this book to. My family. My friend in the ward who also has a gay brother. My dear Hawaiian friend L who cites the Church's stance on homosexuality as the main reason for her departure. My awesome bishop, recently called, who will almost surely find someone in his office talking about their own or their kids' homosexuality in the next several years. I wish I could fulfill all those orders. Alas, my book dollar does not go that far.

Not sure whether it's in bookstores yet. But you can get it online at

Friday, March 02, 2007

Muscle through

Times are hard, hard times,
But everybody knows all about hard times.
The thing is, what are you gonna do?
Will you cry?
And try to muscle through?
And try to rearrange your stuff?
But when the wounds are deep enough,
And it's all that we can bear,
We wrap ourselves in prayer.
-Paul Simon, "Wartime Prayers"
That's what I listened to this morning. So good. Love that.

Muscling through is about what I'm doing right now. I have not had time for much else. I was weepy and scared yesterday. That fear is what I have to fight. It is so easy for me to go kind of nuts with all the what-ifs and maybes and imagine the worst. Here are the truths that I have been using to fight that with:

Foster parenting is the right thing for me to be doing. I have felt that in my heart and I can hold onto it.

Z is with us for a reason. Every moment with her is joy. I cannot be sad when I start each morning with her brilliant little toothless smile.

At the same time, if I were not upset at the prospect of losing her, I would not be normal and it would indicate a deficiency in what I am giving her.

The system might be wrong to place her in rehab with S, but there is nothing I can do about that. I have to let it go in order to get on with what I need to do every day.

If she goes, I will in fact be okay again sometime, even if it kicks my butt temporarily. God brought me here and God will see me through.

This is hard, but I can do it.

If I think it's not fair, I'm wrong. As I tell the boys all the time, fair isn't everybody being treated exactly the same. Fair is everybody having what they need -- the blessings and the trials. I have both, custom-made for me.

At the same time, this isn't all about me.

And it ain't over yet.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

They had court

I just talked to Z's social worker.

They DID have the court hearing yesterday. Surprise!

The judge ordered the county to offer services to S (the mom) and the social worker said there is a good chance they will place Z with her in rehab in about 3 months.

I can't stop crying, this is horrible. I am sick that they would think about putting a baby in a drug rehab facililty. That is just freaking insane.