Monday, April 30, 2007

A no-cook weekend

I guess it was maybe a little belated birthday gift to myself. But I didn't cook all weekend. Well, okay, so I made some muffins and some strawberry shortcake. But I didn't cook dinner all weekend.

I bought some tamales Friday afternoon from the lady in the Food4Less parking lot. Yeah, baby. 6 chicken, 6 pork, all for $11. Ate them with a big salad and good old ranch dressing on the side. So delicious. And for the record, I used to be scared that I would get sick if I bought tamales in the parking lot. But I do it all the time now and I have never gotten sick from them. Neither has G. We love the tamale lady.

We bought pad thai at Asian Fest on campus Saturday. One $5 serving was enough for G and me for a light dinner. It was pretty darn good, although they only gave me one tiny lime slice and no cilantro. More lime! More cilantro! The kids had grilled cheese at home. Their pickiness is really so tragic.

Sunday we had whole wheat and brown sugar muffins for breakfast, leftovers for lunch and dinner, and a whole lot of strawberry shortcake.

All in all, a delicious weekend with not a lot of kitchen work. Which is good since it was like 95 degrees outside and I just will not turn on the air conditioner in April. That is ridiculous.

Here are the muffins:

Whole wheat and brown sugar muffins

1 egg
1/3 c oil
1 c whole milk
1 tsp vanilla

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare muffin tins for 12 medium sized muffins.

Combine wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir together with the wet ingredients until barely combined.

Fill muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with butter and honey. I like hard boiled eggs on the side.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Book lust

Well, nobody gave me a big ol' stack of books for my birthday. What were you all thinking?

Okay, I am kidding, but I just picked up the UC Press catalog from the breakroom at work and I am in total book lust.

Here are the ones I'm yearning for most:
Problem 1: That is probably approaching $200 worth of books right there. But we can overcome that. Hello, library.

Problem 2: With all this interesting nonfiction, how am I going to keep up with my novels?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ahem, since it's my special day

And I am officially 33, aka "old as Jesus" ...

Please let me know you were here by leaving a comment. Maybe you could tell me what you think about the new categories! It is going to take me a while to get all the posts categorized, but I think it's kind of cool that you will eventually be able to pull up every recipe I've ever posted, everything I've ever written about G, and so on.

So c'mon, it's my party. Leave me a note.

(This picture is from 2 years ago, by the way, and I did not do the background editing myself ...)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More randomness

I am far too lazy to assemble a real post. Pick your favorite topic below and talk amongst yourselves.
  • G e-mailed me the following: "Did you know that Kim Deal was recruited to the Pixies from an add for a bassist who likes Husker Du and Peter, Paul, and Mary? Just thought you'd like to know that." So do you think most Pixies fans also enjoy Husker Du and PP&M? I know I do.
  • The second graders came to campus today for a field trip. Highlights: A Nintendo in the dorm and a wild baby bunny on the lawn. I had to get back to work before they toured the library. G joined them instead. I hope they learn more about research. (I am connecting the dots here and appreciating a cohesive teaching plan!)
  • Next week in YW we are making books for Mother's Day. If you are my mom, stop reading, you might be getting one of these and I would hate to ruin your surprise. So the books will have quotes, coupons, and "thought" pages where the girls can fill in the blanks for things like "I will always remember when we ___________" or "When I am a mom, I hope I can ___________ just like you." So the girls are mostly coming up with all the material, but do you have any good quotes or poems about mothering that I can include?
  • I am so happy I chose not to wear any eye makeup today. It means I can scratch my allergy-plagued eyes as needed. It's insane out there! Everything is popping!
  • G is defending his orals on May 21, officially. The kids and I are going to skedaddle up to Angel's Camp on the 19th to get out of his way -- good timing with the condo, Dad! I need to figure out how to make his life as easy as possible until then. Maybe I can hire a maid. Because seriously, I think his share of the housework is taking up an awful lot of his study time and I don't know how I can do more than I am doing. On the road to Dr. S ...
  • My number one hitmaker for this blog is now officially the vegetarian alfredo recipe I posted when I had a surfeit of tofu. In fact, it is #2 when you google "vegetarian alfredo." OK, that's exciting! Welcome, veggie friends! I am only part time veggie but I do love me some tofu!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The making of a nerd

Let me preface this whole story by saying I have no problem with any of it. In fact, I'm quite proud. We all know that nerdy is the new hot. Or hawt, just choose your preferred spelling. So I think we are doing an excellent job of encouraging that.

S's second-grade class has been learning about how to find information. Something about that has caught fire in his little brain.

Last night he asked if he could have an encyclopedia for his birthday. This is the first time he has requested something not related to computers or video games since he asked for Legos when he turned five.

When he was supposed to be in bed, I happened by and saw him pulling books off the bookshelf, one by one, to take to bed with him. He must have chosen twenty or thirty. He looked up at me and said:

"I love research."

The child of a Ph.D. to be and a university staffer, to be sure. And all kinds of nerdy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

On the side: Ginger and red pepper roasted carrots

Gotta make up for my blog laziness over the last week.

Here's a fun little side dish. Yesterday we had it with grilled chicken, cilantro pesto and rolls. Num.

Ginger and red pepper roasted carrots
7-8 whole carrots, cut in sticks about 1/2 inch thick
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
pinch red pepper flakes

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss carrots with oil, ginger, pepper flakes and salt. Spread in 9x13" pan in single layer. Roast 30-45 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown.

Just some randomness

  • It is really too cold to wear a dress with no stockings. But I shaved yesterday, and darned if I'm not going to get some mileage out of it. I am dressed like it's July. We might hit 90 degrees by the end of this week. Then I will have to shave and wear a dress again. It's the only way to go in the heat.
  • Three cheers for a husband who cleaned the bathrooms for me on Friday. That allowed me time Saturday to do some chores that sorely needed doing, but never get done normally -- cleaning out my closet and washing the outsides of the kitchen cabinets. It's amazing how much housework is like triage for me.
  • I also gave in to the planting urge on Saturday. I put in tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and a pumpkin plant. Also a geranium and some ivy in a big pot, some herb seeds, and marigolds and petunias. All this in two hours between getting home from OSH (5 PM) and the start of a nice, big rainstorm. Speed gardening! I'm pleased, though; the rain should give all those baby green things a really good start. I just have to watch out for slugs and snails (YUCK!)
  • Yesterday A and I were invited into the teenagers' Sunday School class as part of a lesson about becoming as a little child. A is really a great example of what Christ was talking about when he said this -- so affectionate and obedient and eager to please. As a bonus, I think A learned something. He was telling G later about how Jesus wants the teenagers to be like little children. S said, "Why didn't he tell them to be like ME?" G and I stifled our guffaws, barely.
That's all ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

When you're weary, feeling small

It's one of those weight of the world days.

I am continuing upset over Virginia Tech. I have no personal right to this, no personal loss involved, no personal connection to anyone there. But I work at a university campus, vulnerable. My kids are in school classrooms, vulnerable. And nobody can prevent somebody from going crazy. It's overwhelming.

I read some very disturbing, racist comments by the governor of Colorado about illegal immigration that have added to the pit of sick in my stomach over the last couple of days.

And this morning I had to say no to a foster placement. A two year old girl with HIV needs a home, just until Sunday. It would involve lots of driving (down to the children's hospital about an hour away) and training. And I just can't do all that right now. If she were here in town I would be lobbying to take care of her, since it's just for a few days. But there is not enough of me for this, not right now. And it breaks my heart.

Do you ever wish Jesus would just hurry up and come back and fix all this crap?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Family dance party

Last night the boys were antsy while I was putting in some late work. S was grounded from TV and the computer for using a bad word (a continuing problem lately, but I am hopeful we can get it under control.)

I decided to give them something to move to and put on some old DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and Run DMC. Oh, it was fun. They are the cutest dancers. Tricky, tricky, tricky!

Even funnier is that they dance like boys ... they bop around for a while, run into each other, wrestle for a minute, dance again, and then one decides to kick the other in the booty and then they wrestle again.

We followed the old school stuff with a very solemn rendition of the "Imperial Death March" from The Empire Strikes Back. S rapidly found a black cloak and a Darth Vader Mask. A decided he would be the Jedi, hide behind the couch and then attack.

Then to get calmed down for bed, well, "Puff, the Magic Dragon," of course.

We are definitely still loving Rhapsody.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I keep trying to get my butt back over to to track my eating and exercise. It is a really cool tool. And today when I moseyed over there I found an even cooler thing.

You can enter your own recipes and get automatically calculated nutrition information at

So go check out this one, Chicken Alfredo, which I put in today.

Fat-free cream cheese is an amazingly yummy, easy cheat for creamy, cheesy recipes.

Yummy, easy, creamy, cheesy ... it's just poetic, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The best AI recap

In case you were craving American Idol chatter, the very best recap is by my friend Denise at Aiming High.

Honestly, I don't even need to write about AI anymore because she says everything I am thinking.

Also I am totally slammed at work, so bye!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Update on Z-dawg, as G calls her

My superfriend V asked for an update on the baby. I thought I'd share it with everybody.

Z is doing awesome; she is just chubby and good natured and funny. She "sings" when there is music and laughs when you pretend to munch on her big Buddha belly. In the last week she has found her left thumb and loves to suck on it with her two little fingers up over her nose. Cutest thing ever! She has stick-straight hair that sticks up all over now except in the back there is still a chunk of long newborn hair that looks like a little duck tail. At the doctor on Friday she weighed 16 lbs 11 oz. My little chunker!

As for S (biological mom) she is still doing well. On Friday she came to the doctor's appointment. The rehab center let her bring a van and another patient who is doing well, and come without supervision. She also brought her 3yo daughter who looks a lot like Z and is ultra cute. S and I agree that the main difference is that Z just looks more Mexican (which she is). We think it is in the eyebrows. Z has very dark, thick eyebrows!

There is a supervised visit at the agency on Thursday. This will be the first time I meet the new social worker, who is a "reunification" social worker.

My gut feeling as to what will happen is that when they re-evaluate the case in court in a couple of months, Z will probably be placed with S for a while in the rehab center. And then when S gets out it is anybody's guess as to what will happen. I think if she can keep it together she could be a good mommy. There is stuff she does that I would not do; for instance, she was really pushy trying to get her 3yo daughter to hold and kiss Z. 3yo barely knows S (she was removed from her 2 years ago) let alone this new baby who is supposedly her sister. That was a little uncomfortable.

S has experienced a lot of loss and gotten herself in the clutches of some bad, bad stuff. She does not have a good support system. Her chances, honestly, are slim. And if she screws up, then Z will come back to us, to stay.

By the way, haters ... if you're still out there ... this is not baby gimmies or vulturish behavior. It's just the very sad reality when meth addicts have babies. And yes, I may benefit from it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

You be me for a while

Come live in my bargain-shopping world. Just for a minute. C'mon, it's really fun.

(Hint: if you are a Coldwater Creek customer already, wait for the 50% off everything e-mail and you can get this entire ensemble for not much more than $100, including $50 for the shoes from eBay.)

Wear this:

And this (the one I actually have is a more usual jean-jacket style that is gone now, but this one is adorable and I am sorely tempted to add another jean jacket to my collection):

And these (slightly different from my tan Born wedge slides today, but when you buy on eBay you take what you can get. And these are way cute):

Carry this:

Congratulations! You are ready to drive with the windows down, buy strawberries at Yang's produce stand on the way home from work, and go to a play with your husband tonight.

I love, love, love April in California!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Women in my history, part two: teachers, leaders, mentors

I could tell you I purposefully saved this post for April just to show you that I think one month for women's history is insufficient. However, that would be a big fat lie. I have been both busy and bored, if that's possible. Anyway, what better way to overcome a little blogger's block than to gush about some cool women in my life?

My last women in my history post gave you the rundown on the mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughter who have contributed to my life. Now I want to tell you about some women with whom I share no blood connection. I've run into some fairly famous women in my life -- but those connections have never been major for me. So as tempting as it might be to tell you about brief run-ins with Lavina Fielding Anderson or Susan Evans McCloud (neither of whom, I'm pretty sure, could distinguish me from Mother Eve in a lineup except by the fact that I am the one with the short hair who is not wearing a coat of skins) I'm going to tell you about some teachers, some leaders, some friends.

When I was in first grade, a series of events led my mother to pull me from the Ogden public schools and send me to Tree of Life Montessori School. This venerable institution -- maybe ten or twelve students total in a little, old, green house -- was run by Vera Eccles and taught by Deanna Olson. Deanna was the teacher I had been longing to love since I read "Ramona the Pest" a couple of years earlier. Young and pretty and positive, she was easy to idolize. Under their care, I spent my days in the early childhood room, self-directing to my heart's content. I learned the musical "Really Rosie" and played with clay. I read, a lot. This was utterly empowering -- my gifts and my style of learning were not just okay here, but great. The way I had been treated in the public school classroom was not acceptable. Only a few times since then have I had to stand up for myself against people who have not treated me right. But I have never had a problem doing that. Interestingly, if I remember this correctly, Mrs. Eccles had started the school as a way to stand up for one of her children who had struggled in the public school system. Learning was founded on respect at Tree of Life, although it was never presented in a boring "values" lesson. It was in the fabric of the place. Mrs. Eccles and Deanna were responsible for that.

Of course I had many other sweet teachers and learned plenty all the way through school. Primary, too. But we're going to fast forward to an influential church leader: Nancy, who was the Young Women president in our ward when I was a 12-14-year-old in Pittsburgh. I am in awe of what she gave to our little group. The time she spent. The hoagie sales and sleepovers and road trips (to the temple in D.C, to Palmyra and Kirtland, and to Lake Erie, just for fun) and weekly activities. The Sunday lessons. The drama we created with her as the calm eye of our hormonal hurricane. I don't know how she managed this. She had her own family and her own business, a thriving day care in her very lovely home. But I think I know why she did it. She loved the Lord and she loved His daughters. I am not as good as she was at managing it all. But now that I work in Young Women I feel the same love.

Around the same time, the art teacher in my middle school, whose name was something akin to Mr. Rear-end, sat on a table and broke it with his considerable weight. He also broke his tail bone. He had to stay flat on his back for something like six months. I'm not even kidding. At least that was the way the story went around the middle school. And we had the most wonderful long-term substitute ever. I'm sure I was not her very most promising student, and I don't really know why she invited me to the gallery opening of her then-current show. Maybe she invited everybody. But I think I was the only student there. I can't say this changed my life forever -- I didn't become an artist or even a particularly great connoisseur of art. But attending her opening made me feel incredibly special, grown-up and sophisticated, and I treasured the postcard invitation for many years. This teacher's name was Mary Culbertson-Stark. She just went by Mrs. Stark in school, and until right this evening I forgot the first part of her hyphenated name. A great flash of memory allowed a successful Google and a link for you. Looking at the work displayed there, I can see her work has changed a lot in the last 20 years, which is what I would expect and hope for anyone I like and respect ... but here is what I see as consistent: a really strong feminine presence, a little bit of whimsy, and a deeper undercurrent of questioning and searching. How cool to recognize a former teacher that way.

No list of influential women in my life would be complete without my high school English teacher. Sure, I had a few, but only one was The English Teacher, Oh Mighty Mama, Ms. Susan Stitham. She taught a course for sophomores called Analysis of Literature, and she taught AP English and Senior Seminar for seniors. I took all three. This woman talked incredibly fast, even when I'd just come to Alaska from the East. Was it a remnant of her own Eastern upbringing, or did she just have an incredibly large amount of stuff to say? Both. From her I learned the basics of the three-point essay, literary theory (and multiple theories), multiculturalism and the canon, grammar, vocabulary, journaling, managing big assignments. Honestly, I coasted halfway through an English major at BYU based on what I learned from her. Senior Seminar was titled "Ethics and Epidemics." We learned about the bubonic plague, the Irish potato famine and HIV/AIDS. (Odd and sad to remember how in the fall of 1991 we still believed a cure might be available within 5 years.) Lesbian herself, she subtly steered me to some gay literature -- May Sarton, to be specific -- knowing before I did that my brother was gay. She confronted some other Mormon kids and almost-Mormon kids about their faith. Never me. I don't know why. When I was engaged a year after completing her AP class, she asked the mom of one of my best friends if she couldn't talk some sense into me. I was mad about that. (Not mad anymore, after almost 14 years of marriage.) I heard when I was editor of a magazine later, that magazine was to be found in her classroom. Not sure whether that's true. Regardless, Ms. Stitham deserves credit as the mother of my intellectual life. If you are lucky enough to be in Fairbanks in the summer, you can take a Shakespeare class from her this year. (I also just learned she got an award from the BYU Alumni Association. Wow, the things you can learn on Google!)

I didn't really have a female mentor through college. One of my big regrets is not taking courses from some of the wonderful female professors at BYU while I was there, and not taking advantage of office hours and really developing those mentoring possibilities the way I could have. I thought I was too busy because I had to work and go to school. When I look at that time now, I realize I didn't even know what busy was. Anyway.

After college I worked for WordPerfect Magazine. Initially I felt a little out of it -- the other editors were much cooler than I -- stylish and organized, and they didn't live in Wymount Terrace! But when everything fell apart at that company, I was the one they chose to stay. I still can't say whether it was because I had gotten the two newsletters on schedule over the course of a couple of months, or because I was working for extremely cheap. Whatever the reason, the publisher, Edie Rockwood (who was also a CES Know Your Religion speaker, and whose story of sudden widowhood is still in one of the current Young Women manuals) took a chance on me, and it paid off -- for me, at least. I don't know if anything could have saved the magazine at that point. But the responsibilities I suddenly had have been the foundation for the rest of my career -- organizing, negotiating, supervising, planning and even learning the very basics of graphic design and the print process. Edie let me do my thing. She didn't supervise me a lot. No one did. For some reason I was trusted. It worked for me; I learned. Edie was a tiny, redheaded powerhouse and also a consummate lady. After her husband died while her children were still small, she muscled her way through school and created this great career in publishing -- in Orem! She's not too Googlable. I don't know where she landed. When the company finally dissolved, I asked what she would do next. All I remember is someone assuring me that she would be just fine.

It's interesting that the non-family influential women in my life have mostly been teachers. I didn't know a lot of women in other professions as I was growing up, and those I did know were just not in my life that much because, well, I was just a kid. I had many great teachers whom I haven't mentioned -- choir and drama teachers, notably, since I spent so much time. I had a crazy voice teacher in Alaska whom I'll have to write about another time. But really, I think it's impossible to overvalue what teachers can do.

I also think I'm going to have to do another post about girlfriends. This is just getting way long.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Quote of the day

I have to write this down before I forget:

"I think I could sing 'Folsom Prison Blues' on American Idol."

-S, age 7

Monday, April 02, 2007

By the numbers

Inspired by Bek's account, my weekend:

Asthma/allergy attacks: 1

Sessions of conference listened to online: 4

Fights between two little boys: Infinity

Bathroom floods (splashing-related): 2

Front yard floods (hose-play-related): 1

Soaked foam mattresses: 1

Inflatable toys inflated by children using an air compressor: 3 (amazing!)

Spray paint cans used for nefarious purposes: 0, but it was almost 1

Giant piles of bedding used to cushion kids jumping off the moving treadmill: 1

Minutes elapsed between the end of the priesthood session and my demand that G come home right now before I kill somebody: 21

Loads of laundry folded: 4 (only 4 this week!)

Dollars spent at Costco: 173

Mattresses removed from the top bunk: 1

Bins of toys dumped: 4, but 2 of them were dumped twice in the back yard, so really sort of 6+

Miles biked by S and his dad: 7.5

Miles driven by me to pick up saddle-sore S: 7

Snarky comments by me to G about letting him ride out further than he could ride back: 2

Times G has done this to me before (making me pick him up from a too-long expedition): 1

Episodes of House watched on DVD: 3

Episodes I had already seen: 3

Children I actually killed: 0 (yay me!)

The good things this weekend were Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Sierra Repertory Theater and The Pursuit of Happyness on DVD. And the steak I made yesterday (garlic and pepper, grilled to medium rare). That was pretty much it.

I am still working on the second Women in my History post. I know it's April already. Sorry.