Tuesday, July 31, 2007


When you peek into my world now, you should do it through shiny, pink glasses. That is what I am doing.

I even found you a picture. These are Sigrid Olsen SO 103. You know, in case you want to emulate me.

Seriously, my inner four-year-old has never, ever been happier.

Steeeeeeee-rike ... four

We are now up to four times where I have invited S (Z's mom) to something and she has said she would come, then completely stood us up with no call or explanation. It is getting to be just weird.

1. Church on Father's Day.
2. 4th of July picnic.
3. Dinner at our house.
4. Dinner at our house again last night. She missed some darn fine salmon.

She insists, when I talk to her, that she intends to come and that she means to maintain a relationship with our family after the reunification (probably Aug. 14, I am guessing).

But you can see why I don't really trust her or count on that in any way, right?

Also, she has a new boyfriend. Which kind of makes me feel like throwing up. In a nervous way, not a disgusted way. I don't think she's ready to make that kind of decision or judgment right now. I think she could be putting Z at tremendous risk. In fact it is the risk I am most scared of. But of course I have no say in it all, whatsoever.

Anyway I am thinking after we get back from Alaska I will see if we can meet on neutral ground to hang out together. The thing in common with all the events that have fallen through with her is that they are all decidedly in our territory. And I do think she is still uncomfortable around us, which is something I can understand. It would suck, in some ways, to have to hang out with the people who were qualified to take care of your kids when you were not. I think it would be very hard to overcome a sort of awkward, inferior, guilty feeling. At least I think that is how I would feel.

I also think she is feeling guilty about taking Z from us, just from some things she has said. I have tried very hard not to lay my fear and grief on her. I know she doesn't need that. But she knows what it feels like to say goodbye, and there's no pretending that we are not losing a child here. It just wouldn't be honest.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another big fat idea

As if it were not enough that I have less than one week to prepare for a 12-day trip to Alaska with four children (we got K's travel order! Woohoo!) ...

As if it were not enough that school starts the day after we get back ...

As if it were not enough that I still have a very full time job wherein my boss is out of town and my co-worker abandoned me (albeit for very good reasons) and I am essentially doing three people's jobs if not more (because we were understaffed to begin with) ...

I have a great idea.

I think it would be cool for Z and S, and helpful for me, to have some kind of occasion to mark Z going back to S when it happens. Probably around Aug. 14. Some kind of memorable thing. Whether it is a quiet ceremony similar to an adoption placement ceremony, or whether we invite all the people who care about Z (a lot) to mix and mingle at a reunification celebration of some kind.

Not that I am going to feel much like celebrating. But I think it would be good for me if there were some recognition of the occasion. And I don't think anybody is going to do it if I don't do it.

Think I can plan it? Think I can execute it? Those are definitely two different things.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


On ExII a while ago there was that fun "life in six words" thread.

I got thinking it might be interesting to do a day in my life, in two words per hour. Like for example today. Some of this is kind of predicting the future, obviously, since the day hasn't all happened yet.

6 AM: Roll over.
7 AM: Frenzied preparations.
8 AM: Minivan momma.
9 AM: Hippo sweat.
10 AM: Quantum dots.
11 AM: Sea lions.
12 PM: Copy editing.
1 PM: Deathly bored.
2 PM: Running errands.
3 PM: Marketing mode.
4 PM: Wrap up.
5 PM: Cooking chicken.
6 PM: Family dinner.
7 PM: Choo-choo train.
8 PM: Clean up.
9 PM: Finally, peace.
10 PM: Laundry piles.
11 PM: Blessed rest.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

For a limited time only, because I am wicked bad bored

This was a pic of K. I took it down so's to be a responsible foster parent and stuff.

Foster kid funny

If you ask K how old he is, he will say "tuna."

As in tuna-half, I presume.

I am going to have to teach him that he is now three!

I've got five dollars

You know that song, the standard? Everything I've got belongs to you? Love it.

But everything I've got is pretty much committed right now. Honestly, I try thinking of something to post and there is so much in my head I don't even know where to start.

At work I am trying to tie up loose ends, because we are leaving for Alaska in EIGHT DAYS PEOPLE! How in the world am I going to be ready for this trip?

At home I am shoveling snow while the blizzard continues and the messes multiply.

I am slowly, slowly reading Harry Potter - there is just not that much reading time but it keeps me sane!

I am trying mostly not to think about what happens after we get home (Z going back to S) because I don't have time to panic and cry.

I am marveling that G has said not a single word about all the things that have shown up at our house lately as I shop online to alleviate my stress. In fairness, they are work clothes and wedding presents and wedding clothes. It's not like I'm buying stuff we don't need.

I am chipping away at tasks like the post office and the dry cleaner and the tire shop. These sometimes overwhelm me.

I am frustrated that the DVD player is not working. What am I supposed to do with all these Netflix movies? And what will I watch while I fold laundry?

I am trying hard to take better care of me so I don't lose it completely.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cost of fear

I was too scared to buy K a plane ticket on Wednesday, which would have been two weeks before our departure for Alaska. Cause, you know, what if we didn't get the travel order and we spent $1000 for nothing?

Today the ticket cost about $150 more. I just bought it. If K can't go I will pay $50 to get it changed and we will take a babysitter with us. I'm sure one of my YW would do it for a free trip to Alaska.

Fear is expensive, though, huh? Good lesson.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Punk will keep us together

Okay, not punk, really. But "new wave" would mess with the rhythm of the line. Bear with me.

G and I have discovered that we can find almost any '80s music video we want on YouTube. Last night we watched Tom Petty, Morrissey, The Cure, Siouxie and the Banshees, The Smiths, New Order, Depeche Mode and some others.

This is what we had in common when we first met each other in 1989: weirdo music, and being Mormon. What separated us was 2.5 years in age, a high school rivalry and his long-distance girlfriend (I took care of that quickly enough - ha!).

We have a lot more in common now than we did then. Our politics and religious perspectives have informed each other and sort of merged. We have two - well, sort of four - kids. We are all into California. We have bought and sold cars and houses. We even work at the same place now.

But it is still fun and kind of romantic to go back to the beginning. And remember that he still will not get into Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello or Talking Heads with me. Oh, well!

(The image, by the way, is from the New Order "True Faith" video. Just as fabulously weird now as it was then.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fresh peach pie

Sally Lou puts her sunshine in a jar. I try, too, but she already copyrighted the name.

So can I share my sunshine pie?

I once read that fresh peach, fresh strawberry, and pumpkin pies are the only pies with sufficient nutrients to justify their caloric costs. I'm all for that.

Fresh Peach Pie

1 pre-baked 9" pie crust (since I got the nifty Pampered Chef silicone pie dough thingy there have been far fewer frozen pie crusts at my house)

6 fresh, ripe peaches, peeled and sliced or diced (I like diced; it's not as pretty, but it's easier to cut and serve
1/2 c water
1 c sugar
3 tbsp corn starch

Arrange 5 peaches worth of dice or slice in your pie crust.

Puree 1 peach and the water in your blender. Add 1/2 - 1 tsp lemon juice if you like.

Mix sugar and corn starch in a medium saucepan. Add peach puree. Bring to a boil, then boil and stir 1 minute or until thickened.

Pour over the peaches in the pie. Chill in the fridge at least an hour.

Serve with or without whipped cream. Seriously, it's not necessary. Always good, but the peaches are enough. This should serve 6 -8.

Variation: spread softened cream cheese on the bottom of the pie crust before you put the peaches in. Keeps the crust from getting soggy, and it's delicious.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Happy and expensive

We have approval to take Z with us to Alaska. YAY! We're taking Squishy Love to the amazing arctic! That's the easy part.

I've started the process of requesting approval to take K, as well. If that gets done, we're looking at $1000+ for a plane ticket for him, and we would have to rent a minivan up there instead of a regular car, which would tack on another $500 to our vacation total price. So much money!

But hey, there are seats on our flights. I'm holding them until we learn more. My gut says we are spending this money. We are lucky that we sort of can. I mean, it may go on the credit card for a month or two, but we will be able to pay it off. G and I agree that K just can't stay with anybody else. He has too much sadness already. And I still hope that maybe when I call the airline there will be someone compassionate on the other end of the phone who would offer us some kind of discount.

My gut also says that K might just stay. The social worker says he has family interested, but I'm skeptical. I think she might be BSing a bit; she admits herself that she has spent next to no time on this case. We shall see.


If I don't go to bed, tomorrow won't come and I will not be launched into yet another week of insanity. Ya think?

Me neither. Good night!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cold healthy snack ideas

- cooked, chilled, shelled edamame with kosher salt
- cherries straight from the fridge
- frozen grapes
- Yoplait Whips - stick 'em in the freezer - fluffy yummy
- strawberry banana smoothie
- Watermelon
- Cantaloupe with lemon
- Honeydew with lime
- Cucumbers
- Sugar free Jello cups - stick 'em in the freezer for a sort of Jello granita
- Breyer's or Dreyer's fruit popsicles (different, but both excellent)

Does all this mean I crave ice cream any less?

No, it doesn't. So look what I am getting!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Close to home

What is close to your home that you have always wanted to do but have never done?

I lived in Utah for ten years. Ten years, and I never went to Zion National Park or the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. That is just so sad! They were only a few hours away!

Close to me where I live now, I am happy to say that we go up to our nearby national park a few times a year, and we've now been to the gold country. I've been to the beach and to San Francisco, although let's be honest, we could all use more time in San Francisco for shopping, restaurants and shows. I've been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I take advantage of local farms and businesses.

Considering that a year from now I may or may not live in this marvelous part of the country, I need to do the following:

1. More beaches, especially renting a house for a beach vacation (my plans for that this summer were trumped by the need to travel for multiple weddings). I really want to go to the Cambria area.
2. Cannery Row stuff in Monterey
3. The redwoods and other way NorCal stuff
4. Exploring the Coast Range
5. Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park
6. Wine country - not for the wine, for the food, duh!

What else am I missing? I don't want to leave California with Zion-size regrets!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Well, shut my mouth wide open.

Did I tell you I was kind of relieved that K was set to be a short-term placement? That I was not going to be the one to get him into Early Intervention and Head Start? That I was not going to have to hide out forever from the creepy gangster prostitutes otherwise known as the Raising Arizona family who live in the next town up the freeway?

I did? Hahaha!

Grandma down in Southern Cal did not pass her background check. All is once again in limbo.

I actually adore little K and would love, love, love to keep him forever. He is funny and sweet and soooooohoho darn cute.

But ... Early Intervention and Head Start make my stomach hurt. And my house is a wreck every single day. I thought my big boys wrecked it but I was dead wrong, compared to the way a 3-year-old can wreck it. And my work -- I am using up all my goodwill there as it comes in with my leaving to pick up kids and mental health days and doctor appointments. I don't know how much further I can push it.

And we are going to Alaska in three weeks, and we have four, count 'em, FOUR plane tickets. We do not have a ticket for K and while he could totally pass for an under-2, there's that whole stinker of a requirement for showing birth certificates. Which reminds me, I better get one for Z. I think they are going to let us take her (I hope, I hope). We could maybe get him a ticket for somewhere in the neighborhood of $900, IF there are even seats left on our flights. I am actually considering doing that rather than sending him to respite care, because I think that would just devastate the poor little guy. Gulp.

(What do you think would happen if I called Alaska Airlines and told them about all this? Does anybody know a PR person there? Because something like this is a PR dream opportunity. I should totally know.)

Best of all, I get to wonder: Can I make all these sacrifices just to lose him in 6 months to some other family member they dredge up?

This, my friends, is why there is a shortage of foster parents in this country. The process is just one sea change after another, all in a teeny tiny cup. You can't plan for the future.

Stay tuned. It's coming whether we plan for it or not.

Monday, July 09, 2007


I was driving through town today looking at all the for-sale signs on houses, all the desperate pleas from builders of new McMansions. Price Reduced! Steal a home below builder's cost! We pay closing costs!

(There, if that doesn't bring the spambots, nothing will ...)

Really, though, I started thinking. I loved owning my own little home. I put in natural-cherry colored floors and painted the ceilings peach to accentuate the sloping ceilings, and the walls khaki and butter yellow and the trim ivory. I installed light fixtures and sewed curtains and painted cabinets. I planted russian sage and phlox and woolly thyme, hyacinths and daffodils. I got crabapple blossoms and lilacs every year for my birthday.

I cried when we locked the doors for the last time and thought of pioneers and told myself, I'm not the first woman ever to leave home for her husband.

And we left behind one of those hopeful for-sale signs and waited. We got offers and accepted them and then they fell through, over and over again. Four times we fell out of escrow, before all was said and done. And the whole time we were praying that we could please, please sell this house.

In between the third and fourth fall-throughs, we took a two-year break and rented it out. This spring it finally sold.

Now I can look back and see so much more clearly. If that house had sold in 2003 or early 2004, we would have made almost nothing but bought a home here at the top of the market, probably on an interest-only loan. It would have fallen in value by today and we could easily be upside-down in a mortgage. And in less than a year there are very good chances that we will need to move, either north a ways so G and I can split a commute, or somewhere else entirely. And we would be so sadly stuck.

Instead of that sad situation we have a good little egg socked away from the sale of the condo, a cozy home to rent for much cheaper than a mortgage payment, and only excitement -- not dread -- about what we will do when G completes his Ph.D. and we need to move (maybe). How blessed are we!?!?

I heard someone say, once, "Well, I'm not doing the church thing and everything is still going fine for me. My life is great."

I think Heavenly Father doesn't necessarily always bless us because we do what's right. We do what's right because we see his hand and love him, and are grateful.

Friday, July 06, 2007


When the lentil rice and fruit salad you were planning to make for the big traditional 4th-of-July picnic up by the river cannot materialize because all the apples and grapes have been eaten by ravenous little fruit fiends, what do you do?

You improvise.

Sweet-and-sour Soybean Salad

3 c rice, cooked (I mixed short-grain white and brown rices for this, and please note I am not calling for 3 c of cooked rice, but 3 c and then cook it, get it?)
2 bags frozen, shelled edamame (soybeans, which I adore now thanks to my friend Crysty)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced on the diagonal
1/2 a small red onion, minced
1/4 c pickled ginger shreds (the red kind, not the pink kind)

1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 c sliced, toasted almonds

Combine everything in the first group of ingredients. You will need a very big bowl for this. This is a salad to take to a ward potluck with lots of hungry people.

Whisk together the dressing. Pour over the rice and veggies. Toss gently to distribute evenly. The salad can sit overnight at this point.

Gently stir in almonds just before serving.

I was hoping to have some of this salad to bring home. It didn't work that way. That sounds like a brag but it really is not much of one. All of the salads were absolutely cleaned out. I guess the 105 degree heat made us all very hungry, or something. I am guessing it makes about 20-24 good-sized servings.

One person did ask me for the recipe, so that was nice.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Okay, my new reader-friend SelosMini tagged me for an easy 8-things post.

Easy, right?

1. I am better at vision than I am at follow-through. Lots of big ideas. Not enough time, energy or organization to do them all.
2. I need a 12-step program for my obsessive reading problem. Just about any book is a can't-putter-downer for me.
3. I rock the kitchen. I experiment and generally come up with good results. It helps a lot that I have an excellent cleaner-upper who works for his healthy, delicious meals. Thank you, G!
4. I do not enjoy hot weather. It makes me cranky and stinky. You are glad, very glad, that you were not around at the 4th of July picnic yesterday when we had been there for 5 hours and the baby needed a nap and it was 105 degrees.
5. I am escaping the Central Valley heat and going to Alaska in 26 days. I have been dreaming about salmon grilled with lemon and brown sugar, and beer-battered halibut. I totally can't wait for this!
6. Sometimes I look at my kids when they are asleep and love them so much it hurts, so much that I start to get a little freaked out and paranoid about bad things happening to them. That is when I know it is time to go fold mountains of laundry and watch TV.
7. I'm a working-outside-the-home mommy with two sons and two foster kids and a grad-student husband. No pets, thank heaven, besides the miracle goldfish and the minnow 8-year-old S caught in the river yesterday. Right now, I am just not ready to go home and face the chaos. But I will.
8. I hate asking people to do things. Like, to the point where I usually end up doing things myself because of my weird social phobia. So I'm not tagging anyone. But if you'd like to pick this up, feel free.


Kids do not sleep well after fireworks, even if they have played in the river all day long.

This was yesterday's discovery. (I think Independence Day should be the first Saturday of every July. Is that sacrelige to say? A midweek holiday stinks in so many ways.)

K kept waking and crying. Poor little toot. I am gradually learning more about this kid. He is so darling, but clearly more aware of what is happening to him than he can express. I dread another transition for him. I still don't know when it will be.

When I talk to him about going to live with his grandma, he says, "No! You!"

Also, he cried at a Kool-Aid commercial with an African-American family. And cried when we passed an apartment complex. He misses his kidnappers, for heaven's sake. They were the only family he knew. What a mess.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Noodles and cheese

What could be betta?

The tomatoes we used came from our new friends, who RUN AN ORGANIC PRODUCE FARM. Not even kidding. How lucky are we? Really lucky. The tomatoes they gave us are tiny and orange and unspeakably good. I'm so sorry I don't remember what they are called.

Lemon penne-feta salad

1 lb penne pasta, cooked and drained

1/4 c olive oil
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
3 cloves roasted garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 of a red onion, minced

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 c sweet, small tomatoes
1/3 c crumbled feta cheese

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic (it should dissolve under your whisk) salt, pepper and onion.

Pile up pasta, veggies and cheese in a bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss. It's good if the pasta is still warm so the cheese kind of melts itself onto it.