Friday, September 28, 2007

A new list of stuff

  • Born shoes. I am now the proud owner of 5 pair - 4 sandals and my newest addition, darling brown low-heeled pumps with buckles and wingtip detail. Deliciously comfy and cute, if I do say so. And I've never paid full price for a single pair. Thank you, eBay.
  • The Cuisinart countertop ice cream maker. I'm mostly making vanilla frozen yogurt because the kids like it. It's great!
  • No-iron blouses from Land's End. They really don't need to be ironed. I am hooked. It's especially great because I never ironed anyway, so for the first time ever, I am not going around all wrinkled.
  • Mountain High plain whole-milk yogurt. It is so fabulous, and not just for making frozen yogurt. I have been having it with granola in the mornings. Yum.
  • Dry-roasted green peas for snacks. It's a veggie, it's a protein, it's a crunchy, salty snack. The wasabi kind are, of course, the best.
  • Sierra Trading Post. I got great deals on fleece jackets and long-underwear "pajamas" for all the kids.
  • Gerber sweet potato puffs for the babe. She is in love. I am thrilled that she can entertain herself by eating. Uh-oh, am I teaching her something bad? Meh. Sweet potatoes are a kind of vegetable.
  • Towel bibs. I got out the two I made for S when he was little, because Z now will not keep a bib on. For the uninitiated, a towel bib is made by cutting a neck hole about 3/4 of the way up a hand towel and sewing stretch ribbing around the hole to make a cute little neckline. Baby can't pull it off, and it's big and absorbent. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Annoying man

What do you do when you have one child who just annoys the heck out of you in everything he does?

I'm not going to pretend it could possibly be Z, so we are just going to use the masculine pronoun here.

Seriously, every time said child opens his mouth, my ears bleed and I want to scream. Every time he thinks he's done something cute and funny, I want to send him to his room. I have to seriously psych myself up for my time with him. And I know all he wants is my attention.

How does one get over such a problem?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Foody fall

It cools down, I wanna cook. We had a very well-fed weekend. There are no inventive recipes worth posting, but maybe some good ideas for you.

Friday night, tri-tip from the soccer fundraiser dinner. The meat, chili and rolls were all outstanding. I don't know why they bother with green salad out of a bag, but whatever. The rest was worth the $8/head price. I ended up buying 6 of these dinners because S's friend was with us Friday night. They watched Pokemon and played Legos. I love it that S is being more social and spending time with friends.

Saturday noon, a delicious wrap with the leftover tri-tip, muenster cheese, thin-sliced apples, green leaf lettuce and honey mustard dressing. Then the boys went to their soccer game, where they were shut out 6-0. Happily they are still having fun - even more so now that it is not so hot outside.

Saturday night, chicken parmesan, pasta and broccoli. This is right out of the new issue of Everyday Food. Go get it. Definitely worth making - very easy and good.

Sunday, pork chops broiled with Penzey's Steak Spice (thank you Sally), pureed sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts with butter. And then a banana cake with penuche frosting - both recipes straight out of Betty Crocker. Same cake my sister little M had for her wedding last month. We've been fondly remembering and craving ever since. Z had a taste and thought she died and went to heaven. She also loved the sweet potatoes. Who wouldn't?

She pulls up to standing now. She raises her arms and wiggles her fingers when she wants to be picked up - her first specific communication, I think. Gosh, she's going to be big before we know it. Yesterday I watched her nap, all pink cheeks and long, dark eyelashes against the white sheets. Unspeakably gorgeous, still. I just feel so lucky for every moment I have with her.

We didn't end up going to the movies. It was a relaxing weekend. Nice.

Friday, September 21, 2007


It has been a buttkicker week. I keep having those lately. And I keep thinking maybe next week will be easier. Well, maybe it will.

G has been up in Livermore most days blasting water into ions and finding out what chemicals are in it, and I have been holding down the fort, so to speak.

We had our foster licensing visit on Tuesday and he took a day to clean the whole house. Have I mentioned that I am married to the best man in the entire world? I love social worker clean. I love it even more when I didn't do it.

You do know about the levels of clean, right?

1. regular clean (in our house, this is actually pretty much dirty)
2. friends clean (pick up the piles of crap)
3. visiting teachers clean (hide the piles of crap; dust surfaces)
4. mom clean (put away the piles of crap)
5. mother-in-law clean (scrub things)
6. social worker clean (scrub things really really good, toss out old medications, and put things where they are actually supposed to go)

Just another of my efforts to inform you about the really important things you should know. Sorry about all the crap. I am trying to keep my rating racy as the sex and homosexuality posts slide off the front page. Everybody knows PG doesn't sell tickets.

So this weekend, the only thing on the docket is soccer. And it is supposed to rain. I am thinking maybe we will go to the movies. Doesn't that sound fun for a rainy fall weekend? Do you know any good movies I should see, that are still in theaters?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What a good girl am I

I pulled out about 5 plums and did this. Except with plums instead of figs and oranges. I bought figs, but I had to eat them. Mmmmmmmmmm, figs.

I love love love Simply Recipes - since the author is only a couple of hours away from me, her recipes are always on track with what is seasonal and local for me. Super!

It's a killer week, actually. G is going up to Livermore almost every day for scheduled lab time on the big fancy chemical analyzing machines. I am coming into work at 7 so I can leave (theoretically) at 4 to pick up the short people. Yesterday I didn't get out until 4:45 (talking to professors about a new grant for a "cognitive sensorium" and visualization facility - cool stuff!) and it took me a full hour to pick everybody up because they were in 3 different places - A at the after school program, S at a friend's house (great new friend with an amazing mom with whom I am trying hard not to compare myself unfavorably) and the littles' team (K and Z) at their babysitter's house. Amazingly, we made it back in time for a snack before soccer practice. G got home in time to take the big boys, and I put dinner on - slow-cooked beef soft tacos with avocado. Not too dang bad.

Slow-cooked beef soft tacos

1 lb beef round, chunks for stew, trimmed of fat
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions (scallions, for you East Coasters), green and white parts, sliced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin

Plop them all in the Crock-Pot and cook it all day. Shred the beef with a fork. Serve on whole-grain tortillas with avocado chunks and salsa. Cheese and sour cream are of course delicious but entirely optional.

About the mom of the new friend. Here is a reminder for me not to be so psycho:

When a new person moves into the ward, she is actually a potential friend - not just someone with thinner thighs, more money, nicer kids and better housekeeping skills than me who homeschools her children and has great parenting ideas and the primary household rule of "we must have fun." Someone like this may not necessarily be out of my league as a girlfriend. In spite of all that.

Think positive, Mama. You make some awesome tacos.

Monday, September 17, 2007

All that zucchini

It's the time of year when all my good Mormon friends - the ones with gardens, I mean - are trying to use up their zucchini.

Here is a very sophisticated and delicious soup from the Everyday Food "Great Food Fast" cookbook (great cookbook, by the way!) to help you out.

Curried Zucchini Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 med. onion, rough chopped
2 tsp curry powder
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 small to medium zucchini, rough chopped
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
4 c water

Cook onion in oil with salt until translucent. Add curry powder and garlic; stir. Add zucchini, potato and water. Simmer 15 minutes or until zucchini is cooked. Puree in batches in the blender.

Seriously, so good.

We had it last night with lemon-garlic broiled chicken, basmati rice, garden pear and grape tomatoes, and a yogurt-scallion sauce.

And once again the kids ate cold cereal ... they are cuckoo.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Have you ever had the chance to shout a big old "VIVA" for your workplace? How about for "la paz y la justicia?" Or a "si se puede" with a large crowd? It's pretty cool.

I caught the last part of a talk today by Dolores Huerta, a labor organizer who worked with Cesar Chavez founding the United Farm Workers and a current activist with the Fund for the Feminist Majority.

Among the messages:
  • See wedge issues like abortion, gay marriage and immigration for what they are: smokescreens to get conservatives in power.
  • The real root of the current tidal wave of undocumented immigrants is NAFTA and our economic colonization of our neighbors to the south.
  • We treated post-WWII Germany and Japan a heckuva lot better than we treat Latin America.
  • Eradicating racism would make a lot of our policy challenges (war in Iraq, immigration trouble) disappear. E.g., we would never dream of a war where we killed a million white civilians.
  • Young people today are the "fix it" generation who will no longer tolerate racism and sexism. (I hope she is right!)
  • People ask her how she could organize among poor farm workers with almost no resources. She responds that people have power just by being people. Sometimes that is all they have, but it is enough to effect change.
  • Cesar Chavez never attended high school. Likely some of the geniuses of the world are out there picking your food.
Inspiring information just flowed out of this lady like a river. I wish I could remember more of what she said ... my head is killing me today and apparently whatever is causing the pain is also causing a memory leak.

Tonight remember this

When the baby wakes up at 10 p.m. crying, she is not in psychic distress mourning for her mother.

She just wants a bottle.

This stuff makes me so out of my head sometimes!

(After I finally clued in last night and fed the little chub, she was so happy and cute I could not quite bring myself to put her down and go to sleep. Yawn!!)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Too much TV?

S: I have severe heartburn.

This is what happens when a kid who watches too much TV gets a rug burn playing at his friend's house and being dragged down the stairs while laughing hysterically. Heartburn, rug burn ... whatevah.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Two scoops

First, the scoop on Z. Basically, she is back because the county screwed up. S was supposed to do more time in rehab and some parenting classes before she started her 30-day trial reunification with Z. The county did not walk her through that, and they started the 30 days without them. So now she has to do them and they will not let her have Z back until she does. This is a mess, and if I were her, I would be beyond furious. I haven't talked with her yet - just been booked today and yesterday. Four kids is quite a lot for me. Anyway apparently in every other way S is doing well. That's good.

Z is great. She has grown and has learned to crawl. I worried that she would be sad or confused. So far that does not seem to be the case, so thank heaven for that.

So this still could be temporary. It could also be a turning point, depending on how S handles it. I will leave that at that.

Here is the other scoop.

Easiest ice cream ever

1 qt. dairy half-and-half
1 can (8 oz or whatever it is) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c of whatever you like to stir into ice cream (I used some chopped up peaches and froze them ahead of time so they didn't melt my ice cream)

Mix together everything but the stir-ins. Process it in your ice cream freezer according to the directions. Stir in the other stuff at the end.

It shouldn't be this easy, I tell you.

Z still doesn't like cold things but I am trying to teach her. Ask my mom about babies (like me) and peaches and vanilla ice cream. Those things just go together. When I found that combo about 33 years ago, it was the beginning of the end.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy tears

The county just called me. Z is coming home tonight.

I don't know why, and I don't know what is going to happen.

But I know God knew this before I did. I have had experiences that I hardly dared believe and certainly did not dare share. But they kept me going.

I am feeling so grateful right now, and so excited! I am shaking!

The gay FHE

I mentioned once on a comment on Feminist Mormon Housewives that we have had a Family Home Evening about treating our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters (in my case, brothers, literally) with love and respect. I've had a request to share this information privately and I figured if I am going to type it up I might as well make it a blog post.

I will be the first to admit that there has been a learning curve for me on this. I can remember lots of things I've said, especially in times before I knew my brothers were gay, that probably hurt their feelings and pushed them away from me. But I think I've improved in many ways, and I hope openness and awareness can make the curve for my kids not quite so steep as it was for me. If by chance they are gay, I hope with all my heart that they can avoid the pain my brothers have felt.

I got inspired to have this FHE after reading Carol Lynn Pearson's most recent book, No More Goodbyes. I think one of the most practical things we can do to override some of the outdated curricula and misguided traditions our kids will run into at church, is to provide a good foundation of truth, reason and love at home. I don't think the LDS Church's official position is necessarily outdated or misguided (though I hope for ongoing change) but many members still use old materials or propagate false traditions.

A few disclaimers:
  • We keep FHE pretty simple at our house, so if you're here looking for clever object lessons or themed treats, sorry.
  • This is not an insurrectionist FHE plan, nor is it intended to be. I believe everything we have taught here is in line with the current Church position on homosexuality.
  • Also, I am fully aware this is not an exhaustive discussion of all things related to Mormonism and homosexuality. I intended it as a foundation - an opener - for my two elementary-school-age kids. Mainly I want my kids to know that in the future, they can talk to G and me about this. I want them to have some clear standards for how to treat others, especially in our extended family. And I want the seed planted in their hearts that we will love them no matter what.
Here's what we did, after our standard opening song, prayer and family business.

1. Talked about Jesus' teaching to love one another.

2. Talked about people we know who are gay. Provided the following definition:

Gay or lesbian is when someone falls in love with people who are the same sex as them. Gay men fall in love with men, and lesbian women fall in love with women. Sometimes lesbian is also called gay.

I kept it this simple because my kids are young. Their knowledge about sex is still pretty general - we haven't discussed mechanics yet.

3. Discussed our ideal concept of family: a man and a woman being married for eternity in the temple. Some people can do this, and some people cannot. People who cannot do this, for any reason, are good people who are doing their best. We love them, and so do God and Christ.

4. Talked briefly about the law of chastity: God has commanded us to share our bodies with another person only when we are married to that person. We are expected to keep this law. Not everybody keeps it. That doesn't mean they are bad people.

5. Provided some guidelines:
  • We never make fun of someone because of who they like or love.
  • We never use the word "f-----." It is as offensive and wrong as the "n" word (something my African-American kids unfortunately understand all too well).
  • We never use the word "gay" to mean "bad" or "stupid."
  • We treat everybody the same as a child of God.
  • If there are things we don't understand, we ask questions of Mom or Dad.
6. Assured the kids that each one of them is a beloved and precious part of our family no matter what -- no matter whom they love and no matter what they do.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sex and the teenage Mormon

Ooooh, I am so excited. I have been in Young Women for more than three-and-a-half years, and next week I finally get to teach the "Power of Procreation" lesson.

In the past this has been handled by having the bishop come in and teach about it, usually drawing very heavily from the Boyd K. Packer talk in the manual. The talk has a lot of good things about it. But the "bring the bishop in" approach combined with the "read the talk aloud with a picture of Elder Packer on display" approach strikes me as unsatisfactory -- a way to teach the sex lesson without ever having to really talk about sex. Having a male authority figure teach it, especially, limits the presentation to a male perspective and tends to stifle any questions the girls might have.

I recognize that there are women of a certain age, probably both in and out of the Church, who cannot even say the word "sex" out loud. This I learned in my dear friend B's Deseret Book book club when we read "Purity and Passion" by Wendy Watson. The older generation there hemmed and hawed about "intimacy" and "relations" and really liked the "co-creating love" euphemism in the book. After we calmed down from our fits of laughter, the girls my age (late 20s to early 30s) were still wide-eyed with wonder. We had no idea the women in our moms' generation were like that even when their kids weren't around.

So here is what I am thinking. I live two blocks from the church building. I think I might bring my girls over here for the lesson. Just to be more comfortable and friendly and sit around drinking sodas and really talking, instead of lined up on folding chairs in the sweaty top-floor classroom where we're usually assigned. I want to use some of the points discussed on the recent ExII post about the RS Law of Chastity lesson -- especially the "sacred, not secret" parallel with temple ordinances. And I think if the temple is the appropriate place to talk about temple ordinances, then home is the right place to talk about sex.

I think I might invite moms. Just so I can't be accused of corrupting the youth. But will that stymie the discussion and prevent the girls from asking the questions they want to ask? What do you think?

I know for sure I am going to tell the girls that the law of chastity means more than girls being responsible for holding off the boys until they're married. I am going to tell them that girls have a sex drive, too, and that's how it's supposed to be, and they are just as responsible as boys are for keeping it under control.

I am going to tell them that chastity is a law to protect them not just from premarital pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but from heartbreak, confusion and divided loyalty. I so believe that.

I want to tell them that sex is great in the right context. I might need help conveying that in a convincing yet appropriate way.

Though I don't know of any specific repentance situations in the class, we will for sure talk about repentance and forgiveness.

And we will talk about what to do if you become a victim of abuse, rape or sexual assault.

Just, you know, stuff the bishop might not always think about when he comes in to read the Boyd K. Packer talk in the manual.

What would you tell the Mormon girls about sex?

(I will delete any inappropriate responses post haste. Be respectful of both sex and Mormonism, and your comments will be welcome!)

Friday, September 07, 2007


  • What would you rather have: a clone or a nanny?
  • Tonight I braided K's ginormous afro into lots of tiny braids. Tomorrow I am going to ask the social worker if we can leave it in and try to let it lock up. Or I might re-do it in smaller braids before we let the dreadlocks start, if we are allowed to do that. It is soooooooooo cute!
  • Also on the agenda tomorrow: picking up my cell phone at the post office (don't ask, ARGH), two morning meetings, orientation for the county childcare reimbursement program, and trying to get social security cards for me, G and K. New for K, replacements for me and G. We are dorks. You think I might be pushing too hard? I think so.
  • Have you watched that show on Fox where you sing karaoke and then you have to keep singing while the words stop appearing? It is exceedingly dumb. Nonetheless I would like to go on the show and win money for the only thing I am good at remembering.
  • Two times this week, S (who has birthday money and is feeling rich) has bought things for K. Monday, LifeSavers at the airport on the way back from my sister's wedding. Today, a 25-cent toy from the machine outside the neighborhood bodega. Isn't that the sweetest thing ever? I am so, SO proud of him.
  • Yes, we have a bodega. It is run by a middle eastern family. I'm ashamed to say I don't know exactly what flavor of middle eastern. The prices are outrageous and the clientele very diverse. I have been known to buy candy there on the way home. I'm a bribery mom, you see.
  • And the million-dollar question: when there is a court hearing at the end of Z's mom's 30-day trial period on Sept. 13, should I go? On the one hand, I think it might help me make sense of things. On the other hand, if I were S trying (apparently) to avoid my kids' former foster mom, it would creep me out to have her show up in court. What do you think?

On that note, I bid you good night.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Coming of age with the Spanish Branch YW

One of my YW is having a quinceaneara on Saturday.

At the LDS chapel.

This caused quite a stir among the YW board and some others last night as we passed around the fairly elaborately printed invitation (in Spanish, so most of us dummies could only guess what it said, including me). It's a Catholic ceremony, after all. Can you perform a Catholic blessing inside a Mormon church? Did the branch president know? Had they even scheduled the building? Would they be able to get in?

One person griped about how the building has been so messy lately and "the branch people are the worst offenders."

(Good grief. Don't they realize it's probably my kids crapping everything up? That is, after all, their usual modus operandi. All I have to do for proof is look around the family room where they were playing Nintendo 64 tonight.)

The building scheduler came to pick up his wife and daughter from YW. He said yes, they scheduled it, and no, he didn't realize what it was for.

Then someone went to ask the bishop about it. He told everybody to pipe down, it's no big deal.

I like that there bishop.

More quinceanera tidbits:

A few years ago one of my YW told me her parents wouldn't allow her to have a quinceanera, because all her cousins who had them wound up pregnant shortly thereafter. She has a baby now, unmarried, but she did make it all the way to age 19 before becoming a mother. I guess it could be worse.

Another YW once recounted her adventures at her cousins' quinceanera: Mostly it was all about riding in the backseat of a rented low-rider limousine with hydraulics and making it bounce all night long. With the hydraulics, not any baby-making activities. I have to say, that sounds like fun.

I'll have to post an update on the weekend. I have burning questions: Will she take all our modesty lessons to heart and choose a dress with sleeves? Will there really be a Catholic priest performing the blessing? Will there be hopping cars? We'll see.

Calling out the CPKs

Comment with the name(s) of your Cabbage Patch Kids and their birthdays. Come on, I'm talking about my generation. I know you had one, or maybe more.

I had Megan Arlene, brown hair and brown eyes, birthday Sept.1. Also Claire Muriel, blonde hair and blue eyes, birthday also Sept.1.

I got them in 1984 and 1985.

Happy belated 23rd and 22nd birthdays to my girls. I wonder where in the heck they are?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Digging vs. shoveling

What is the difference between digging out of a mess and shoveling giant piles of crap?

Today I do not really know.

I'm back from another trip with a million things to take care of.

My baby sister is married as of last Friday. She was beautiful. It went great. I'm very optimistic about her future.

As long as she doesn't try to be a mom and a worker and a YW leader and whatever else the heck it is I do, all at the same time.