Thursday, July 31, 2008


I just realized that I spent three hours in my car today and never left town.

Dropping off kids at three different places and then driving to work takes an hour.

And then, after work, picking up kids at three different places, dropping one kid off at Cub Scout Day Camp, and registering two boys for soccer at the absolute last possible moment (I signed my check two minutes before the office closed), it all added up to very nearly three hours.

I do not love driving around town, especially on a tight schedule. My town is full of train tracks and unsynchronized traffic lights and summer construction. My kids are loud and inquisitive. It stresses me out.

No wonder I come home with my stomach in knots.

I prescribed myself some chocolate pudding.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


When I was up in Yosemite at the end of June I got to go to the weekly barbecue with all the students up there. My new friend Sunny made this awesome tortellini salad. She told me it was an America's Test Kitchen recipe (always great!) but my mom couldn't find it in her big ATK book and my kids were on the computer being good, so I didn't want to disrupt that with a recipe expedition on google. And thus I just made it up and put it together from memory ... with a little improvisation, too. You know me.

Tortellini Salad with Basil

1 package small cheese tortellini (mine came from Costco), cooked
2 small-medium zucchini, sliced
1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a small red onion, diced (no more than 1/4 c.)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (grilled would be fabulous but I was lazy and used the microwave)
2-3 slices bacon, cooked to crispy and crumbled
A big handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. vinegar (red or white would be fine)
generous fresh ground pepper

Whisk the oil, vinegar, cheese, basil, bacon and pepper in a large bowl. Add everything else and mix.

On the side: grapes. 'Tis the season in California! We got the most amazing tiny champagne grapes in our CSA box last night. Perfect!

I am having the best leftovers for lunch today!

Monday, July 28, 2008


All times are approximate.

[This isn't even counting the part about getting everybody dressed and shod and loaded and buckled. We're starting at the starting line, even though we weren't quite there for the starting shot.]

  • 10:02 Family enters chapel overflow sans me, as I am depositing materials in Primary classroom.
  • 10:05 I arrive in chapel overflow. G and all four children are sitting in a row. Investigator and 4yo son - let's call him Curly - are taking remaining two seats on row. I pick up Z, seats her on my lap, take my seat. S has somehow managed to bring a Lego spaceship of his own design into the chapel. I don't allow my kids to bring toys to church. I don't know how he managed this. G takes it away and out to the car to be locked up.
  • 10:09 We discover that Curly, who is very friendly, doesn't have an inside voice. Curly's mom seems not quite tuned in. I shush Curly. Curly demonstrates his perfected evil eye. Scary.
  • 10:11 Ward librarian, sensing potential crisis, brings enough paper and crayons for all five children in row. Children begin to draw.
  • 10:16 Sacrament hymn begins. I get in maybe 6-8 words. The rest of the time I am chasing Z across the aisle, where the family with the well-behaved children sits. I can see why she would like to be over there.
  • 10:19 I try to get all the boys up in their seats for the sacrament prayer. Try.
  • 10:20 K discovers that, as he refused to get up into his chair, he has missed the bread. K begins to wail.
  • 10:21 K is back down using his chair as a desk, drawing.
  • 10:22 Z wants to draw. I set her up on the chair temporarily vacated by Curly.
  • 10:24 I didn't realize it was temporary. "THAT'S MY CHAIR!" Curly has found a new enemy: my baby girl. I set him up with a new paper and crayons on the adjacent chair. This works for a while.
  • 10:29 The deacons sit down. My kids get their promised half-stick of Orbit gum. Curly comes back from wherever he is running around and of course K's first words are, "I got gum!" Then he opens his mouth to show it off.
  • 10:31 Curly has picked up Z's baby toy. I ask him to give it back. He insists it is his. I, perhaps unwisely, wrest it from his hands. He responds by snatching Z's paper and tearing it, defiant expression on his grimy, little face. I take it from him. He throws an eraser at my head. His mother takes him up to the pews.
  • 10:33 I take Z out to protect her (and me) from further retribution. K follows me.
  • 10:35 We are in the mother's lounge so that I can sit in the lone rocking chair and listen to the talks without putting my baby in danger from Curly.
  • 10:39 Z figures out how to climb up on the diaper pail and get on the counter so she can play in the water. I get her down, dry her off and place the diaper pail up on the counter.
  • 10:41 Z hits K. He wails. Z will not say sorry. ("Ah-ee," in her language, but usually she does it willingly.) I put Z in the corner for her 60-second time out; Z wails. I did get two whole minutes of the talk about pioneers, before this happened.
  • 10:42 I rock two wailing kids.
  • 10:44 K presses the foot pedal on the diaper pail, which is still up on the counter. Aroma fills the room. K finds this hysterically funny.
  • 10:45 S (age almost 9) arrives in the mother's room and wants to hang out with us. I begin to contemplate how unfair it is that I am in this room with three children and G is in the chapel with one.
  • 10:47 A sister in the ward arrives in the mother's room to change her granddaughter's diaper. We willingly evacuate and return to the chapel. Curly and his mom are gone.
  • 10:49 S and A request a bathroom trip. G accedes. K tries to follow them. I do not accede.
  • 10:51 Z wails. I can't remember now why. G takes her out. K is squirmy.
  • 10:57 S and A have not returned. With a firm grip on K's hand, I set off in search of them. S is in the foyer with G. I tell him to get back in the chapel. He is big enough to sit and listen.
  • 10:58 I find A playing on the stairs with his friend. I tell him to get back in the chapel. He is big enough to sit and listen.
  • 10:59 When I return to the chapel, the man behind our row tells me S has taken my keys out of the famously gargantuan church bag and left the room. On pain of death, K and A are instructed to stay in their seats while I go find S. K sniffles.
  • 11:00 I find S in the foyer and insist on the return of they keys. (Have you figured out why he had them? Do you even remember the beginning of this meeting by this time?) S asks how long until the end of the meeting. Ten minutes, a.k.a. time and all eternity. Flattened, I agree that S may go wait in his classroom.
  • 11:01 Returning again to the meeting, I survey the crayons, papers and gum wrappers strewn over our row and the one in front of us. G has returned with Z. G is listening to the final speaker. Z is looking for the Orbit gum. She ain't no dumb bunny. I get it from her just in time.
  • 11:03 K makes a run for it. While I am running after him. A gets up, announcing he is getting a drink of water. I put the kibosh on that. He's darling, but sometimes he is really full of it. He can wait seven minutes.
  • 11:07 Apparently I have blocked this out. I don't know how I got to the end of the meeting.
  • 11:08 Mercifully, the closing prayer. K and A fold their arms. It's cute. They can't keep it up for more than 30 seconds. The prayer goes on much longer than that. Much. We struggle.
  • 11:11 I confiscate a McDonald's toy that has appeared out of nowhere as A hustles off to Primary. I beg G to please pick up the crayons while I take Z to nursery.
  • 11:12 Bishop's wife comes over to tell me I am doing a good job. Well, it's nice of her to say that. Sigh.

The point of this is to justify to myself why I was not more friendly to Curly's mom. I fear we drove her away today. But, honestly, I can't be a member missionary at church. I can't even get myself spiritually fed, much less anyone else. I am just trying to survive and instill this ritual in the rising generation. Because if I can get them to listen, they will have a few years to be fed and strengthened there. Before they have kids.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tidied up

I look so much neater when I'm all summed up in three-point lists. This is Sally's fault.

1. When my baby sings. The newest song in her repertoire: "Buffalo Soldier" by Bob Marley. It's S's favorite, so we listen to it every morning in the mommymobile. Z is in charge of the "wo-yo-yo" part, and she does it well.
2. A well put together meal. Whether I have made it, or someone else, it is a source of great satisfaction.
3. A squishy bed, a good book and a locked door.

1. People realizing how incapable I am.
2. The effects of my temper.
3. Never being able to settle down.

1. To return the bulk of my time to my home and family.
2. To overcome my weaknesses without being sucked down into the vortex of despair that begins to swirl when I see them.
3. To go to Paris. France, not Idaho. Not that there's anything wrong with Idaho.

1. Old, blue and green canning jars. I use them as canisters in my kitchen. It makes me feel connected to my foremothers, a little bit.
2. Music. It's a collection that can never grow too big, especially now that it's digital.
3. Born shoes and sandals. It's a very practical weakness to have. Best shoes I've ever worn. Except maybe the MBTs but those are super expensive and not as cute.

1. Will work for gnocchi. (I'm having some for lunch right now.)
2. I have several unlikely matchmaking ideas in my head that I think might make a good novel. That would be more productive than actually trying to set people up, at least.
3. Cheater's Creamy Balsamic dressing: 4 tbsp olive oil, 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar, pinch red pepper flakes, generous pinch salt, 1/2 c. prepared mayonnaise. Whisk until smooth.

As you know, I don't tag. Feel free to pick this up if you like.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A little personal

If you would rather not know slightly personal girly stuff about me, skip this one.

In April, at my once-every-three-or-four-years "annual" exam (what can I say, I think I technically got in enough stirrups during my years of infertility treatments to last me a lifetime) my doctor found a small lump in my left breast.

This did not strike terror into my heart like it would for a lot of women. I am lucky - breast cancer is not really in my family. And thanks to my religious upbringing and continued choices I have almost no other risk factors, either.

I never really thought I had cancer or anything. This is the reason I haven't told most people about it - I didn't want people freaking out over nothing.

My gynecologist wanted to check the area again in three months. So I went back earlier this month. No changes, which is good. She wasn't really worried about it. She asked if I wanted to have it checked further, and I said, yes - just to be safe. So we scheduled a breast ultrasound.

It's possible I had some kind of mental block about this procedure. I missed the first appointment because the imaging place had the wrong address printed in the phone book. Then I thought I was ten minutes late for this morning's rescheduled appointment, so I drove like a she-bat from my office to the imaging center - watch out for the speed demon in the white minivan. It turns out I was actually 50 minutes early. They had me change anyway, inexplicably, locking up my purse and its contents in a locker, and I ended up spending 2+ hours in the cold, cold waiting room wearing that charming little blue paper robe, reading old Ladies Home Journals.

And then it was done. The tech couldn't see anything. I couldn't see anything. I really don't think there is anything wrong with me. It will be good to know for sure once I hear from the doctor (later today, I hope). Again, though, no big deal.

Here's what surprised me. It was a very strange experience for me to lie on an ultrasound table. I've seen too many pregnancy movies and TV shows, I guess. It's that iconic moment when most women see their babies for the first time. And a reminder that that's not me. I teared up a little bit. The tech asked me if I had kids. I immediately replied that I had four, adopted. I didn't want her to ask any more questions.

So you wanna talk about getting freaked out over nothing? I am 34, and I suppose that's about the right age for the infamous biological clock, but I have four kids. Four! As every stranger I run into consistently reminds me, my hands are full! I don't want or need another baby. But I have not let go of wanting that one small part of the experience of motherhood and womanhood that I have never had. In all honestly it makes me a little mad that instead of a miracle in the ultrasound room, what I get is a little health scare, a reminder that my body is getting older, and really, other than that, nothing. The same nothing that has been freaking me out on and off for the last 14 years.

Sometimes I think that is really hard for other people to understand, even the people closest to me. And I guess it is more than a little bit personal. There you go. A squeaky-clean window on the messy room that is my soul.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last night's dinner

Z took seconds on this. And everybody ate some except S. This is a remarkable feat!

Golden Succotash
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 package turkey kielbasa, quartered lengthwise and sliced
About 2 c. corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned ... I'm easy to please)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in oil over medium-high heat until transparent. Add sausage and stir until fragrant. Add vegetables and beans. Reduce and simmer about 10 minutes to reduce liquids.

I served this with some parmesan flatbread. The grownups sprinkled theirs with red pepper flakes. Everybody was happy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shuffle off to Buffalo

1. Put your iTunes/ music player on shuffle (I actually just used my Windows Media Player and clicked "shuffle")
2. For each question, press the "next" button to get your answer
4. Post all answers on your blog and send a shout out back to this blog!
Here we go!

"To Zion" (Lauryn Hill)


"Fixing a Hole" (Beatles)

ok, this is probably accurate

"Doctor Robert" (Beatles)

get your minds out of the gutter!


"Sky Blue" (Ari Hest)

can't argue with that


"Big Ben" (Ari Hest)

it makes sense if you sing, "Think big, Ben"

"I Won't Back Down" (Tom Petty)


"Overglazed" (Breeders)

haha ...

"Yellow Submarine" (Beatles)

we did sing this one in a ward talent show one time. the whole famdamily.


"Through the Morning, Through the Night" (Robert Plant & Alison Krauss)

again, whatever. good song though ...

WHAT IS 2+2?
"Tell Me What You See" (Beatles)

now that is a fitting answer for an english major when asked a math question.


"Here No More" (Breeders)

true. she was here on saturday, though.

"Constellations" (Jack Johnson)

that's kinda sweet.

"Hag" (Breeders)

ha! i own that!

"Just Like Heaven" (Cure)


"What Goes On" (Beatles)

no comment.

"Nowhere Man" (Beatles)

gosh, i don't think that's true. hope not.

"Rainin in Paradize" (Manu Chao)

i'm sure the only reason this is so weird is that my wedding was 15 years ago. it did rain on us, though.

"I Shall Believe" (Sheryl Crow)


"Jonas and Ezekiel" (Indigo Girls)

also kind of true if you think broadly.

"Galileo" (Indigo Girls)

you caught me. i secretly believe in reincarnation.

"Bird Never Flies" (Ari Hest)

hmmmmmmm ...

"What I Can Do for You" (Sheryl Crow)

yes. what i can do for you is useless blog memes. have fun!

I think I have too much Beatles on my mp3 player.

Best meme ever

I've participated in this one on Sara's blog and MaryRuth's blog so far. I'll play on yours, too, if you do it!

Come out, come out, wherever you are! Let's reminisce!

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you.

DVD to see

I never claimed I was on the forefront of culture. That's the disclaimer. I have been wanting to see this movie for a long time but for practical reasons it kept getting pushed behind Animaniacs in the Netflix queue.

(What? You watch movies in the theater? Huh.)

Anyway, The Great Debaters. See it if you haven't already. Then tell me if you still have stuff you want to complain about in your life.

And yes, it's one of those teacher-type movies. They are always kind of the same and I always love them.

And also, I still love Denzel. Seriously. Love.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Lazily cross-posted from my workitty-work bloggitty-blog. This is work in the same way premium ice cream is food.

I am here on the deck of the Wawona field station director's residence, which pretty much qualifies as the most serene outdoor spot I have been in for a long time, maybe ever.

The view is incredible with pine-covered mountains all around, the barest pink blush still on the sky, a little smoke rising from a wildfire over the mountain to the southeast.

The silence is profound, even healing. True, I can still hear a jet engine somewhere very distant, and some other very far-off, unidentifiable rushing sound, and a few echoes of human voices, and the occasional buzz of a mosquito. And the click of my keyboard. But that is all.

It occurs to me here that one reason we sometimes have a hard time staying in the moment in our everyday lives, is because those moments are too crowded. There's no room for us to be present.

Here, it is wide open. I'm here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Smile worthwhile

Lest I ever do or say something that makes you think I am not totally into my kids, I present to you:

1. K's smile

2. S getting intense with the Wii

3. A on air guitar

4. Z emulating her older brothers (fresh out of the bathtub, to boot)

We had a fun birthday celebration at home last night. K was thrilled enough to sing "happy birthday to me" all night long. He even got some quality time with his new Super Soaker. (Am I dumb, or what?)

The word is no

And Z definitely knows it. Hello, toddler years.

(Sorry the video is really just music; it was the best I could find.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To be four

Reportedly, my mom once found the three-year-old me crying for no discernible reason. On inquiry, she learned I was crying "because I wanted to be four."

You have to admit, four is pretty great - I might still even say worth weeping with desire for. The so-called terrible twos and even worse threes (nobody warned me about that) are behind you. You can talk well and play with friends and enjoy preschool. While you may still need to learn to tie your shoes and cut your own pork chops, you feel a lot more like a big kid. Yet no one expects you to do homework, scrub the sink or cook dinner. Life is good at four.

Happy birthday to the world's newest four year old. It's gonna be a great year.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Parent's joy

The best thing in the world for me is when my kids are kind to each other. When this happens, I congratulate myself for actually having more than one child. (If you know my oldest, you may understand why this was kind of a leap of faith.) It makes a lot of the harder moments feel worthwhile.

This morning, S asked K if he had a good sleep. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is huge. S has had the hardest time accepting K as a brother - we have tried to just let it grow naturally and not push it. A little kindness is a huge deal.

Tonight, S read to Z. A big pile of books, from "Goodnight Moon" to "Spinky Sulks." To me, this is bliss. And Z loves it. I think she likes it better than my reading to her. Big brother attention is pretty special.

A is constantly playing with the little kids. I need to do a better job recognizing his consistent kindness.

I believe God is our father, with a parent's feeling for all his children. I can imagine now, better than I could before I became a mom, why he commands us, teaches us, pleads with us, to love each other and be kind and make peace. It is a joy I have not felt in any other situation; I think it may be the greatest gift a parent could receive.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reasons (update on the little kids)

K is going to be four in five days. He is trying to cram in as much life experience as he can before that time. As we know, after you turn four, it's all downhill.

As bedtime approaches each day, he starts to panic, asking to do different things - go swimming, eat a popsicle, play on the computer, play Legos. When I explain that there's not time to do his selected activity before the dreaded hour, he says, "But I didn't get to do that yet today!"

That's carpe diem in its purest and most annoying form. He really has the whine down to a science.

Really, though, what should you get to do, just because you haven't done it yet today? Are your reasons for not doing it as good as the simple reason that you should get to do that thing today? Mine aren't. Why aren't we doing those things? Life passes us by so fast.

Z is also carpe dieming, mainly by spilling large quantities of foodstuffs all over the floor. Two days ago it was a nearly-full box of multigrain Cheerios. Yesterday, a full pitcher of fresh limeade. I was, of course busy clipping Costco coupons in my beautiful delusion that she was busy jumping on the couch with her brothers.

Last time I had a toddler it was 2003-ish. That's a long time ago. It's a buttkicker. I almost forgot.

These two are still online to become final forever members of our family sometime in the next few months. We are slowly progressing through the paperwork. That reminds me - I need to schedule some fingerprints for G and me. Moving right along ...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Stuff for your summer

Let's just get right to the bullets this time, shall we? You all know what this is about.

Staying cool
  • Passion herbal tea, venti, iced, shaken, one Splenda. It is hot out there, folks. It is prettier than water and you feel like you're getting a treat. Also, it might be about the cheapest drink there is at S'bucks.
  • Fudgesicles. The cheap store-brand kind do just fine. And they are only 60 calories. Or maybe it was 100. Anyway, not very many.
  • Dreyer's all fruit popsicles. I have sworn off the cheap kind, even for the kids. Those things are just a big bag of misery. The fruit ones, I swear, do not affect behavior so adversely. Death to high fructose corn syrup.
  • Ceiling fans.
  • Wearing a dress. Almost as good as wearing nothing.
  • Playing in the hose and screaming with the kids.
Passing the Dog Days
  • John Mayer singing "Free Fallin'" on his new live album. One of the best songs ever except with a young and sexy face and voice. Not that I don't love Tom Petty, but he sort of reminds me of my dad.
  • More new music: Coldplay, Beck. Highly recommended.
  • 30 Rock, streaming on Netflix. Funny stuff.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD. It's a family affair. We are all nerds. Proud of it, too.
  • Facebooking like a giant geek.
  • A 2-pound pork roast rubbed with red curry paste, seared on the grill, then cooked over indirect heat about an hour. Serve with steamed rice and veggies.
  • Bags of frozen Bertolli pasta. Grill up some chicken or fish, toss a salad, serve this on the side. All good, all easy.
  • Suffer through cooking a big pot of soup early in the week, and you are scot-free from any cooking for days. This week: chicken noodle with garden veggies and fresh sage.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Our neighborhood is a hodgepodge, demographically. It's safe and clean and near the school and the church and generally, I can't complain. The houses were all built between the late '60s and the mid-'80s and are well maintained and respectable. But - as you might expect from the age of the homes - most of the families are empty-nesters or near empty-nesters; a few have very young kids (infants). I have missed the out-in-the street atmosphere I remember from certain neighborhoods I lived in growing up - kids always out biking, playing ball, arguing, being kids.

But my two big boys bonded with some neighborhood friends over the weekend. There's an 11-year-old who's slightly shorter than my 9-year-old, and a 9-year-old slightly shorter than my 7-year-old. Apparently the size factor trumps the age/maturity factor. Who can pin that down in school-age boys, anyway? One moment they are young men, the next they are whining like 3-year-olds. All four of them got along great. (I don't have any school-age girls right now. Ask me about how that works in a few more years.)

They were back and forth between houses all day Saturday. The new friends have a pool, but amazingly they still hung out at my house some. W and W even helped my boys clean their pigsty of a room so they could play. My heart was won. I fed them popsicles and chatted with them and thanked heaven my kids finally found neighborhood friends.

They gathered up all the spent fireworks that were sitting on the curbs waiting to be swept up. They took them all out on our back patio and dissected them with a couple of pocketknives. Of course I had to keep the baby inside and the boys were filthy with ash. But they had so much fun. This is the kind of activity I remember from my childhood.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Another summer salad

Are you in the half of the alphabet that has to bring a salad to the big picnic tomorrow? I'm in the dessert half this year, so I'll be making pies tonight to take to the park by the river up the highway where we go every year to pig out on tri-tip, sweat a bunch, talk with our friends from church and watch the kids try to catch tadpoles. Lemon meringue - my specialty.

But I made this hearty salad last night and it was pretty awesome. You could take it to your picnic. I think it could even be a whole meal, although we had it with some grilled salmon and corn on the cob. Yes, on a weeknight! Sometimes I am ambitious!

I made this with the fresh horticultural beans that came in my CSA box from Willey Farms this week.

They are a cousin of the pinto bean and when you get them out of their their big yellow-green pods, they are beautifully striped cream and purple colors. Sadly, this color cooks out, but they are still a tasty change from canned legumes. You cook them in salted, boiling water about 15-20 minutes - just until tender.

Bean, tomato, cuke and basil salad

About 1 lb. cooked horticultural beans
1 pt. small tomatoes - I used little orange ones
1/2 small red onion, diced fine
1 small, thin-skinned cucumber, diced (yay for my little garden!)
About 1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
About 2 tbsp. olive oil
About 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Throw it all in a big bowl. Mix it up. It makes about 4 big, hearty servings.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bloggy type news

Good news: I am now getting paid to blog.
Bad news: It is the same pay I have always been getting paid. There's just a bloggy project involved.

I just started a little Blogger blog about the Yosemite programs I am working to document and publicize this summer. Feel free to drop by! I am hoping to get some of the students and maybe even faculty and staff on board as contributors so it may even become more than just me.

Eventually we will migrate the content over to our campus Web site. We were supposed to have a blog engine some time ago and I was hoping it would be ready for this project. It's not, though, so I'm doing this instead.