Friday, October 26, 2007


My friend Shelby is the source for this fantastic half-white-half-wheat bread recipe. Made tonight because even though we have miraculously found an extra $45 in the last 5 hours, I had already gotten it into my head to be all frugal and homemakerish and make homemade bread and so I did it!

I have never had good luck making bread before. Shelby is my new BFF.

Shelby's Biracial Bread

3 c warm water
2 tbsp dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar

4 c white flour
4 c wheat flour (I grind this with the wheat grinder attachment on my beloved KitchenAid)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c oil
1 tbsp salt

Sprinkle 2 tbsp sugar, then 2 tbsp yeast over warm water. Do not stir. Allow to bubble.

Add wheat flour and stir. Then add other ingredients, and add white flour until the dough is of about the right consistency. Knead with the mixer for about 1 minute.

Cover with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise 1 hour. Punch down and form into loaves. Allow to rise in pans 30 minutes.

Bake 20 minutes at 350, then 10 more minutes at 325. It should be lightly browned and smell fantastic.

Good luck not eating the heel when it is hot out of the oven. I had it with some of that killer good microwave jam from Simply Recipes (the plum kind I made a few weeks ago). It is soft and toothsome, not crumbly. Yum.

So what are you doing this weekend?

This is my boring answer to the boring question that everyone asks you on Friday afternoon if you are so lucky as to work in an office.

1. Corralling children while G bravely takes his 6-man team to face the dodgeball challenge of the ward in the next town up.

2. Cleaning the bathrooms and doing the laundry, the way I do every week, theoretically. But this week it will be more than theoretical. It's urgent, people.

3. Going grocery shopping with $16 and a pile of WIC coupons. Fortunately I did have a Costco binge earlier in the month and we have plenty of food - I just have to get milk and fruit and eggs, and maybe bread. Anyway ya gotta love a long month. Sometimes it is so problematic to pay for childcare in advance and get foster care subsidies NOT in advance. I can't wait for Nov. 1.

4. NOT going to a gallery opening to which I was personally invited by the artist. Wah! I heard someone say today, "My son is 30 years old and I finally have a life again." Well, I have a life. But it doesn't really include gallery openings. So be it.

5. NOT going to stake Elders' Quorum social an hour away. I feel bad because their activity is going to flop and I know they already feel isolated from the rest of the stake. But honestly, an hour drive? Do you know how much that costs in gasoline? And remember the part about the $16? Plus, they wanted us in costume. Forget it. Mothers who know do less, that's my excuse.

6. Teaching another chastity lesson in Young Women. Really, I wouldn't have made the first one so all-fired good if I knew I had another soapbox in a few weeks. That's ok. I still have plenty to say about sex and how not to have it when you are a teenager.

7. Making a cake. I got a new frosting spreader, the Pampered Chef one. Oh yeah, I am excited. I might even make two cakes. I promised one for the stake youth Halloween party on Tuesday, and I am sure it will not survive if I don't make one for my family, too. See Lucy's recent learned-by-sad experience entry. (So cute!)

8. Thinking about asking for a release. Thinking. No promises. But it is true that I am completely overextended, and I can't think of anywhere else I can cut back.

9. Finalizing my new childcare plan. Did I tell you the littles' babysitter is quitting? Big bummer. But I have a new plan. The new friend, the intimidating one, turns out to have not so much more money than I do. She wants to babysit. She is starting to be quite cool. You know, maybe she will inspire me to be thinner and more organized and stuff. Stay tuned.

10. Messiah choir practice. I know it is just one more thing on my plate. But singing releases endorphins, kind of like running. It's pure joy. Running is not. So which one do you think I am going to do?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Funnies, verbal and nonverbal

Scene: Getting S up at 6:50 a.m.

S: Everybody get back to bed! It's like 2 in the morning!
Mom: Actually it's almost 7, which is a great time to get up.
S: But it's dark!
Mom: That's because it's almost winter. The days are getting shorter.
S: Does that mean we stay at school for less time?
Mom: No, there's just less and less sun every day.
S: [ponders] THAT SUCKS!

Scene: Saying prayers with K, who didn't get to go to soccer practice with the big boys because of a biting incident.

M: And help me not to bite, AN-Y-MORE.
K: [looks up with devilish grin, clacks his teeth together and nods his head "yes"]
M: Pppppbbbbbbbbhhhhhhhaaaaaah!

(I think that is not how I encourage him to stop biting.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


- Why do two of my kids naturally know how to beat-box? I swear I have not taught them this. And yes, it's the same two kids who look like you would expect them to know how to beat-box.

- How did I drop $30 on pumpkins and squash last night? The pumpkin patch is just so dang cute with all the zinnias and sunflowers hay bales and piles of knobby orange and green and white edibles ... I did get two Radio Flyer wagons full of said edibles for my $30, and two bags of organic dried apricots, so all in all, not too bad.

- Whom do I have to bribe, and how much, to get K in full-day Head Start?

- How did a giant hole appear in my underwear? And why did I end up wearing this holey (hahaha) underwear on the day I wore a skirt? Brrrrrr ... drafty.

- Boys: sometimes they just don't think. That's not a question, but it's still mysterious.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Zucchini-feta pizza

I don't have much else to say so I will just tell you about some food I made over the weekend. I wish I had some of it right now.

Zucchini-feta pizza with pine nuts and basil

Before you start, heat your oven to 375 degrees.

The crust
1 c very warm water
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt

Mix water, yeast, sugar and oil. Add all-purpose flour and stir to make a "sponge" - meaning, let the yeast bubble up before you go to the next step. Which is adding the whole wheat flour and salt. Stir it in - soon it will be easier to oil up your hands and knead it a bit. This is enough dough for two thin pizza crusts. If you are only making one pizza (using the amounts I am giving below), save half the dough in the freezer for next time.

The pizza
2 small or 1 large zucchini, sliced very thin (use a mandoline if you can)
2 tsp chopped fresh basil
Black pepper
1/3 c pine nuts
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

Lay the sliced zucchini out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and let it sit. When you see moisture beading up on the surface, blot it off (I used a paper towel). This keeps the zucchini from expelling all its water when you cook it and causing your crust to get soggy.

Now arrange the zucchini slices nicely on the pizza crust. Sprinkle with basil and pepper, then pine nuts and feta.

Bake it at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

Incidentally, when I did this Friday night, I used the other half of the dough to make a plain cheese pizza for the kids with leftover marinara sauce (no meat). Good solution for the pickypoos.

Also incidentally, do you think it would be a good idea if I made a separate category for vegetarian recipes? Would you use it?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I was going to tell you, on Sunday when sacrament meeting was getting so frustrating with all the little wild things, I just ran away. Specifically, I ran to the mother's room and rocked Z to sleep and actually listened to the speakers. I didn't even rush back to sing in the choir. I just listened. It was awesome. Amazing to hear the messages and to feel something in my heart while holding the sweet weight of a chubby ten-month-old baby in a dark and solitary room. I needed that a lot.

Tonight, my plan is to ditch Mutual and hang out with my kids. They are just having movie night. They really don't need me there.

I think these little things might just be the key to my sanity.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Carrot of fortune

We went to lunch today for a co-worker's birthday. I do always love that. I had some very lovely sushi, which might surprise some people. Yes, you can get some very decent sushi where I live. We are only a couple of hours from the coast, after all.

The main reasons to eat sushi, of course, are two-fold: wasabi and pickled ginger.

Anyway, I got the dumbest fortune cookie ever. It read, "A carrot a day may keep cancer away."

What in the name of all holy root vegetables kind of fortune is that?

Nonetheless, I am having carrots for my afternoon snack.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Die die die

That was K's narration for the jack knife picture in "The Little Engine that Could" last night. Complete with stabbing motions.

Normal 3 year olds don't do this, methinks.

I said, "Did you see someone do that?"

He said, "Yeah."

Holy crap. The more verbal he gets, the more I worry.


Just a few months. Six months, I bet, and I will know

- What is happening with my husband's career
- What is happening with my career
- Where we will live, at least for the next few years
- What is happening with our foster kids
- Whether we can really buy a home in the near future

In the meantime, it is all making me nuts.

Poor G listened to me vent all evening while I was making ravioli and chopped salad for dinner. He reminded me that I get very impatient when he does that (venting). Yah, the difference is, I almost never do it and he does.

Six months. I can stay sane and patient for six months, right?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And just for fun

I found this quiz on Lindsey's blog (which I also just found! Hi Lindsey!)

Which Mozart Opera Does Your Life Most Resemble?

Die Zauberfloete (The Magic Flute). For a complete synopsis, see Flute synopsis.htm.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Side salad

Here's what I was making tonight when the reporter called. We had it with some wild salmon I got today at Costco, which was just sauteed with salt and pepper in a skillet.

(I am experimenting with not buying farmed salmon. Wild does taste different, maybe better. Costs more. Sigh. But I hear it is more responsible. I still have to find out why.)

Thai Tomato Peanut Salad

4 ripe tomatoes - different colors if you can get them - cut in eighths
1/4 c Thai lime and chili peanuts (from Trader Joe's)
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tsp oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
pinch salt

Mix it, eat it. Yummy.

It reminded me a little bit of the bizarro PB&T (yes, that is peanut butter and tomato) sandwiches my mom used to eat when I was a little kid. She was pretty much pregnant all the time, so don't think too weirdly of her.

My day off

The reason I don't take days off very often: you always pay. You really do.

I had a great day -- got a bunch of errands done, hung out with my littles, and had lunch, Trader Joe's and a bookstore jaunt with Sal. It was great.

Tonight I had a reporter call me at 8 p.m. trying to set up at the last minute to go up in the mountains with a bunch of professors tomorrow. I did a mad scramble while cooking dinner for G and me and yelling at kids to go brush their teeth, and I think, maybe, it might work. Maybe!

And then I checked my email (what a dummy) and found that the brochure I've been working on for a couple of weeks with a firm deadline of today finally arrived and the print quality was decidedly subpar. It makes me look like a moron, and you know, I was just trying to fill in because the designer/print coordinator was overbooked. I should so know better. I mean, I didn't do the graphic design - I subbed it out to a freelancer we know and trust, and it just all went to crap. I'm upset because I have been working so hard to earn the trust of the group we did this for -- and I'm very afraid they're going to pull back because of this. I guess a lot will depend on how I handle it now. Maybe when I wake up tomorrow I will know how.

I told Sally I am having a Springsteen obsession right now. I was not really into the Boss when he was so super popular in the '80s; I was kinda too young to get it. But now I think he is one of the great, great songwriters. Plus he always reminds me of Pittsburgh - the whole gritty realism of the place. Anyway the new album, Magic, is great. Super great. But what I really can't quit singing to myself is the song I heard in the grocery store on Saturday - this one. I can't embed it - wah!

I mean, this thing is running in my head over and over. And the weird thing is, it's not because I identify with it so much, but because I know somebody else who really might. I think it is freakish how much other people's problems bother me sometimes.

At least I kept myself awake on the way back from my afternoon escapades, singing the "look at me baby" part and pretending I was on American Idol. I could so rock that.

I hold you in my arms as the band plays
What are those words whispered baby just as you turn away
I saw you last night out on the edge of town
I wanna read your mind and know just what I've got in this new thing I've found

So tell me what I see when I look in your eyes
Is that you baby or just a brilliant disguise

I heard somebody call your name from underneath our willow
I saw something tucked in shame underneath your pillow
Well I've tried so hard baby but I just cant see
What a woman like you is doing with me
So tell me what I see when I look in your eyes
Is that you baby or just a brilliant disguise

Now look at me baby struggling to do everything right
And then it all falls apart when out go the lights
I'm just a lonely pilgrim I walk this world in wealth
I want to know if its you I don't trust cause I damn sure don't trust myself

Now you play the loving woman I'll play the faithful man
But just don't look too close into the palm of my hand
We stood at the altar the gypsy swore our future was right
But come the wee wee hours maybe baby the gypsy lied
So when you look at me you better look hard and look twice
Is that me baby or just a brilliant disguise

Tonight our bed is cold
I'm lost in the darkness of our love
God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he's sure of

Monday, October 08, 2007

Saying my say

Hooooo-wee! Furor afoot about President Julie Beck's conference talk yesterday. Here are some of my ideas about it.

Power and responsibility, a la the Spider-Man movies. Women today have tremendous power to choose what our lives will be. Nobody needs to be stuck without choices anymore, especially if the follow counsel to become educated and prepare for the future. I feel trusted to choose my own path. I know that if I am prayerful and if I follow the guidance of the Spirit, my choices are right and accepted - by my LDS peers and leaders, and by God.

It's widely recognized that not every woman can be a stay-at-home mother - there are so many obstacles to that, from singleness to infertility to economic necessity. I have never been called on the carpet for working outside the home as my husband progresses through graduate school. I feel understood.

Trust and understanding are empowering. ("That is power!")

With great power, it's said (by the wise Uncle Ben), comes great responsibility. It has been easy for me to forget that if I am not guided by the Spirit as I choose where to spend my time, I am prone to making wrong choices.

I wrote last week about how hard I used to think it would be for me to give up my job, and how my feelings about that are starting to change. What if I weren't willing to follow those feelings when G finishes up and becomes again able (I hope!) to support our family? I'd be placing my family in jeopardy.

I think President Beck may have been swinging the pendulum back, reminding us that all this freedom and understanding doesn't excuse us from our responsibilities. Sure, the Lord understands when we are doing our best. But honestly, it had better be our very best.

Hard Ideals. I am always relieved when other moms admit that the nitty gritty details of homemaking and even mothering do not come easily for them. Man, they do not come easily for me either. I am naturally messy and disorganized. I am impatient and unrealistic in my expectations. It is hard to overcome those things. I haven't done it yet.

And for some other women it seems so easy! How can the ideal be easy for them but hard for me? That is unfair! It's so easy to feel excluded, looked down on, inferior. And if it makes me feel that way, how can it be right?

Look, if we never aspired to things beyond our reach, how would we ever get any better? Just because a standard is difficult, or even seems impossible, that doesn't make it a false standard. Catering to my abilities is not one of the criteria for truth.

I am not going to be a perfect homemaker today or tomorrow or any other day. Yesterday I got all motivated and made myself a little schedule that started at 5 a.m. today with exercise and scripture study. Then the baby got up in the night and there was just no way I was going to short myself an hour of sleep just to be perfect from 5 - 6 a.m.

So, I can't do it. That doesn't mean I quit trying or rail on the person who tells me what to shoot for.

What I do is keep trying, give myself a little credit for that, and rely on the Savior's grace to pick up where I collapse. And eventually I get better.

Actually that is a pretty big principle that applies to a lot of things, not just mothering.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

You read to me, I'll read to you

You may have heard me say before that the one thing I am really excellent at, as a mother, is reading to my kids. Patience, not so hot. Housekeeping, definitely iffy. Gospel teaching, spotty at best. But reading out loud, we do every day and we spend a good amount of time at it. I flatter myself that it's why my kids are so darn stinking smart. I'm a big believer in read-aloud.

So last night we left Harry Potter in quite a place. If you haven't read the Deathly Hallows by now, you almost deserve a spoiler, but I will be nice and not give it to you. S begged me to go on, trying to figure out how the book could go on after what just happened, but it was 9 p.m. and I had to say no.

After we finish this book in a couple of days we are going for something light: Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary. I have been previewing it and laughing out loud, especially in the spitball chapter where ... oh, never mind; I'm staying away from spoilers. I just love Otis and I love it when I remember that my kids are SO Otis themselves - that spark of mischief drives me nuts but it is also so essential to their smarts and spunk and personality. They are really awesome kids.

So if, hypothetically, my life were feeling about as serious as Harry Potter's incident in the Forbidden Forest right now, what would you read to me to lighten it all up and make me remember what I love and what makes me smile?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Choices and corners

On Sunday I narrowly escaped teaching the Mia Maids the "Making Wise Choices" lesson.

I've taught this lesson before and actually, I like it. Three years ago I offered the girls a choice between a fresh nectarine and a rotten nectarine. Easy choice. Then a choice between the fresh nectarine and a bag of candy. Not such an easy choice, until you think about goals and consequences. Then we went on to talk about all the factors and strategies that go into making good choices when they are not so easy and obvious.

But this time I was woefully unprepared. No nectarines, fresh or rotten, or candy to be found in the house, and it was fast Sunday, anyhow. I was actually sitting in Sunday School, my parents beside me to witness my state of unpreparedness, trying to recall all the things we talked about in my three-years-ago Wise Choices lesson and write them down on a notepad otherwise filled with choo-choo trains and stick figure battles, the remnants of a sacrament meeting where the kids behaved astonishingly well. (It helps to have extra hands - I love grandparents!)

It turned out that we had a guest teaching a combined Young Men/Young Women lesson. I was off the hook. We also had a combined priesthood meeting/Relief Society lesson. The topic was "Teaching Your Children Responsibility." It was good, nothing new, but good reminders about charts and consequences and more Love and Logic type stuff, which I totally believe in and subscribe to but don't always implement too well.

Mainly this led me to ponder on the choices that currently affect me the most: having four children at home, and having a full-time job.

Right now I feel like these two choices are constantly at odds. The kind of family life I want is simply incompatible with full-time employment.

I can't stand the rushing and the chaos.

I can't stand it that I actually resent a child who refuses to open his mouth at the dentist after an hour-long sojourn in the waiting room, making for three hours total off work, counting pick up and drop off at daycare.

I can't stand forgetting to send lunch money and getting the call from the cafeteria that a child is getting the bare-minimum "my mom is a loser" lunch and being unable to do anything about it.

I can't stand being unable to sit down and play with the child who is driving me nuts (yes, still) and remind myself that I do in fact love him.

I can't stand cramming every errand and activity into Saturday, and still being completely unprepared for the sabbath.

I can't stand having great ideas for family home evening and job charts and rewards and fun times together, but being completely incapable of implementing them.

I can't stand these questions:

"Can you bring the fish to my class?"

"Can you help with the book fair?"

"Why can't we be home schooled?"

In three years and three months, I've never wanted to quit my job. I've loved it. I've worried that I would mourn too hard if or when it was time to leave it. Suddenly that has changed, which is just weird. A corner turned.

When G and I switched keys today, I told him it's enough. We need to live someplace where we can live on one income. I love California, but this is ridiculous.

I hope that if I get to be a stay-at-home mom again, I will do it better - will be more motivated and organized and confident. I think when I did it before, I wasted a lot of that gift.

Now taking nominations for locations where a multiracial family can live in an open society on one Ph.D. salary. And if possible, enjoy fabulous fresh local produce and proximity to both mountains and ocean. *sniff!*

Real quick

I have a baptized boy. It was a busy weekend but I think everything went well. For me, at least, the baptism was a very emotional and spiritual experience.

I can't believe he's really eight and baptized. On the other hand I can see his growing maturity and I know he was really ready for this. It is neat.

I think S felt it, too. He is a quiet kid, not open with his emotions and definitely shy in front of large crowds (and we had a LOT of people there to support him yesterday; that was awesome!). But he had a good talk with his dad about faith and what he was doing, on which I got a later report. Special times.