Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where we stand

Our family is united for hope, change, optimism, respect and honorable government.

So excited for tonight's speech from Future President Barack Obama, occurring on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington. What could be more perfect?

In case you were wondering, this is what an Obama-Biden enthusiast family looks like. I don't want to be too grandiose, but I also think it's a little bit like what America looks like. And a little bit like what God's family looks like. At least that is what we aspire to be.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

All about the easy

High school meme (answering for the school where I graduated, not the school where I started):

1. Did you date anyone from your high school? Yes, three that I can think of, for three or four months each. All good guys.

2. What kind of car did you drive? I didn't drive until right around my 18th birthday. Then I drove a 1987 Honda Civic for a few months, until I wrecked it. This was sad. It was a very cute little car, white with a burgundy interior.

3. Were you a party animal? Not really. The parties were usually really alcoholic, and I was basically a really good Mormon kid. What I went wild for were dances, usually held by friends in a rented hall in town. I am sure people were drinking/using there, too, but I didn't really see it and there was something to do there besides sit around and get hammered.

4. Were you considered a flirt? I really tried to be! I loooooooooooved boys and had a lot of fun with guy friends, usually pretty flirtatious. In high school this was pretty harmless. Immediately afterward I tried it on a guy friend at a summer job and was accused of being a tease. I sobered up pretty fast.

5. Were you in band, orchestra or choir? Yep, total choir nerd. Concert Choir president my senior year.

6. Were you a nerd? Pretty much yes. Choir, drama, AP classes.

7. Were you on any varsity teams? I did letter in drama and choir. But I don't think most people would consider those to be teams.

8. Did you ever get suspended or expelled? Nope. Reference the really good Mormon kid answer above.

9. Can you still sing the fight song? Did we have one? I wanted it to be "Purple Toupee" by They Might Be Giants, because our school colors were purple and gold.

10. Who were your favorite teachers? Choir and drama teachers. AP English teacher.

11. Where did you sit for lunch? Outside the art room with my alterna-friends!

12. What was your school’s full name? Austin E. Lathrop High School

13. What was your mascot? Malemute. And until I moved there, I didn't know what that was. (It's a sled dog.)

14. If you could go back and do it again, would you? Nope. I would change some things about the first experience if I could, but I wouldn't repeat it.

15. What do you remember most about graduation? Listening to "Right Here, Right Now" by Jesus Jones in the car on the way there. Regretting not joining NHS because I wanted that cord. Partying with the exchange students at the Fairbanks Athletic Club all night and realizing that I just wasn't that close to most people in my graduating class, which was kind of melancholy.

16. Where did you go on Senior Skip Day? I don't recall having one day for it. I kind of just skipped sporadically when I felt like it, but by my senior year I had so many responsibilities at school it was kind of hard to do.

17. Were you in any clubs? Drama club, Forensics. That's all I can think of.

18. Have you gained weight since then? If I say I don't want to talk about it, that probably gives away the answer.

19. Who was your prom date? Sophomore year, 2 days after my 16th birthday: A German exchange student who was a good friend. We went in a group of 5 people. Junior year: the boy from my ward who had played Sid to my Babe in The Pajama Game. We'd kissed so much in the show (7 kisses for each performance, plus rehearsals!) it was only decent to date for a while. Nice kid, broke my heart a little a couple months later. Senior year: I don't think I went to prom. My Senior Ball date was a kind of withdrawn, quiet but very good looking guy who I asked to go with me because I thought he would look good in the photos. Bad move. Bad date. But the photos are great.

20. Are you planning on going to your 10 year reunion? Too late! I graduated 16 years ago. I'll consider the 20, maybe. But Alaska is pretty far to travel for that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Half of me

Why not take half of me ... that sounds a lot more painful than "all of me," doesn't it? I hope that doesn't turn out to be true.

To ease the transition on both ends (for me and my employer) I am now planning to spend a couple of months working 51 percent time from home. That's 51 instead of 50 so I can keep my benefits. Nice, yes? Seriously, that's a huge blessing. It's supposed to be just until a new person is hired - 6 weeks to 3 months. If it were longer, I'd be thrilled.

The freelancing idea is turning out to be a lot more complicated than I expected. We operate in startup mode so much here that it's almost easy to forget that we work for a gigantic, frustrating (or "festerating" as K would say) unwieldy bureaucracy. Some of these policies ... I'm sure the intentions were good when they were written. But they just make things really, really difficult.

We do have a new president of the system who says he's going to fix some of this stuff. Maybe I ought to write him a letter. Hmmmm. I am the queen of the impulsive, fired-off complaint letter. Just because I'm quitting my job certainly doesn't mean I have to quit that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My town in the NYT


And crazy that now that I could actually buy a house here, the timing is all over the place wrong.

Silly about

When S was a baby, my mother in law once accused G and me of being "silly about" him. Well, we were. We waited a long time for that guy, and let's face it, he was extremely cute. I know at least I went through the same thing with baby A (G not so much, because A basically wouldn't have anything to do with his daddy until he was about 2). K was different, of course, because he didn't arrive until he was 3. But we definitely went through a falling-in-love time with him last year around this time.

We are, if possible, even more silly about Z than we have ever been before. Like you didn't know that by now!

Here's a little update on the development of her personality.
  • Big fan of : dogs, cats, balloons, pushing buttons, brushing her own teeth, yogurt, baths, lotion, songs with actions, playing outside, taking care of baby dolls, pretending to put on makeup, putting on her own pants, berries of any kind, swinging on swings, peas, cucumbers, her ruffled cherry-print swimming suit, reading by herself, baby quilts, climbing up on the toilet to get into the cabinet, washing things with a baby wipe
  • Not particularly fond of: being read to, riding in a car, being held in a swimming pool, riding in a stroller, diaper changes, having her hair fixed, hurrying, tomatoes, sharing the spotlight with any type of cousin, doors that are closed, bedtime, daycare
  • Says: mama, daddy, baby, please, sorry, crying, yay, no, cheese, drink, mine, owie, poopoo, loud, yummy, night-night, hi, bye, wow, grandma (sounds a lot like mama), grandpa, a few other names of people

Saturday, August 23, 2008

We have a chance

I know I'm not the only one who listens to Senator Barack Obama and thinks we as a country have gotten incredibly lucky, after a long, long series of screwups, to have another chance to live up to our ideals, to implement the dream of Dr. King, to reach the top of the mountain. I sincerely pray we don't blow it.

So it's another Obama song. I love 'em, OK? I'm aware politics is not realistically about lofty ideals worthy of song right now. But I think it ought to be.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Through the mists of time

Can you see my future?
Where will I live a year from now?

Right here where I am now
Sacramento, California
Bay Area, California
Washington, D.C. area
London, England
Adelaide, Australia
Portland, Oregon
Some other unknown place ...

This is, of course, just for fun.

And naturally I am not at all blogging about my husband's career or different places where he has applied for or is thinking about applying for jobs. I just chose random places. Ha.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ph.D.-to-be

Today is the 37th birthday of Dr. G-to-be.

Pretty soon he will be closer to 40 than 35. There are still 3 more years before he can tease me back with that particular statement. And by then, he will actually be 40. I love that!

Seriously, I have a fantastic husband, as I've tried to make clear before. I'm awfully glad he's around.

Happy birthday to G!

Good for the soul

Things I need to remind myself are good for me:
  • Taking a slightly longer route home to drive through my favorite tall-treed, shady neighborhood full of vintage Mission and Craftsman homes
  • Stopping for hugs and tickles before I jump into dinner prep after work
  • Feeding the kids kid food, putting them to bed, and making really luscious grownup food for G and me (last night: slow cooked beef roast; pan sauce with balsamic vinegar, garlic and basil; cheese polenta; peas)
  • A long lunch break to feel a little more caught up on errands, a little less panicked and loserish (worth the make-up time I will spend on the laptop tonight)
  • Telling G about the funny things the kids have done that he's missed, like K's very loud tick-tock noise when Grandma was singing him "Hickory, Dickory Dock," and agreeing on how cute our kids are
  • Asking G for an update on the dissertation (progress! it's good! very encouraging)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Number 9, number 9

Happy birthday to my big boy S. You wear me out, darling child.

But I am glad you got a Wii game and Legos and soccer cleats and a crystal growing set and a whipped cream cake and mint chip ice cream and Rice Krispy treats to hand out in class. I hope your 9th birthday was great for you.

You are great for me - my first baby, the boy who made my dreams come true and turned me into a mother.

I'm so proud of the way you are growing up.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shake it up, baby

Are you ready?

I just gave my employer two weeks' notice.

This change - such a biggie - has been some time coming. My vacation gave me time (mostly on the road and late at night) to think and pray and really come to the conclusion that it is time to let go of this job I have loved for the last four years and go back to being "just a mom" ... even though of course we all know that no one, but no one, is "just" a mom.

This blog started out, shortly after I started my job, as a working moms' group blog with a few friends. Silly me, working moms do not have time to blog! So it quickly came down to just me. It has been a useful place to spew out all my brain garbage so that I can get on with my workday. I guess that may not actually change. The blog will certainly continue to exist. I think we may have some interesting times ahead as I make this transition.

I am full of plans and ideas about how I want things to be after I leave this desk where my behind has been glued eight hours a day for the last four years. I am trying to keep my feet on the ground about it. It's hard. Eight hours seems like a lot of time when you're glued to a chair. When you're chasing kids, I know it's not really that much.

Still, a major life change would not be complete for me without a bulleted list. Here are some things I want/need to do.
  • Freelance for my current employer 15-20 hours a week. This is a must, financially. I'm thankful that it is going to be possible.
  • Free up my husband to finish his dissertation and get us all on with our lives, by taking primary responsibility for the house and kids.
  • Take care of myself and my mental health by exercising daily. The last time I was doing this regularly was before Z was born. As much as I have tried, I cannot fit it in my current schedule. It has to be very high priority on the new schedule because of its stressbusting power. I won't lie, being a stay-at-home-mom stresses me out. I do remember that much.
  • Improve my kids' social opportunities. Have friends over. Go to play dates and stuff.
  • Write. My own stuff, fiction and essays, not press releases and brochures.
  • Make stuff homemade - you know, food and maybe some clothes - and be really thrifty. Again, not so much a want as a need. We are going from 1.5 incomes (my salary and G's grad student stipend) to maybe .75 incomes if we are lucky (the stipend plus whatever I can do as a freelancer).
  • Be a better friend, visiting teacher, and Primary teacher. I have been skimming by on all these things for the last four years. Thankfully I have had friends and companions and fellow church workers who have uncomplainingly picked up my slack. How did I get so lucky?
  • Brush up my math skills over the next three or four years and generally prepare so that when Z goes to school, I can, too. Graduate degree, here I come. Slowly.
There you go. It's not totally unrealistic, right? Maybe just a little bit?

How surprising is this, by the way? My boss said she knew it was coming. Has she been reading this blog?

Friday, August 15, 2008


My sister M1 works in a bakery supply store. Sometimes when packaging is damaged or other adverse circumstances occur, she can bring home products for use around here.

For instance, there are about 50 pounds of high quality milk chocolate pieces just sitting here. The store was getting rid of them and she was going to take them to the food bank, but one of her kids opened them and so they couldn't go there. Thus we must give them a good home.

Last night we were pulling pieces off a big block of caramel. We were fairly well behaved; after a couple pieces each we quit in favor of ice water and Mario Party 8. But I just had to share M1's quote:

"Some people rescue pets. I rescue candy."

I love my family!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Three hour tour

I'll just tell you right up front: I loved BYU. It was a great experience for me. Beyond just the fun-fun-fun of my freshman year silliness and the unusual but great experience of going through the rest of my undergraduate education as a married lady ... my education there was perfect for me. I had amazing experiences in Honors classes. I had a class in epistemology called "Thinking is Not Doubting." The subtitle could have been, "Everything you ever wanted to talk about in church but were afraid to ask." We talked about birth control, homosexuality, polygamy, the priesthood ban, you name it. Somehow this counted as a science elective. While I may have cheated myself out of a bit of science education by choosing this course, it helped me build a foundation that now lets me hold on to my testimony when the earth seems to be moving under my feet.

Some of my favorite things from my BYU days are not there anymore or just not the same - International Cinema and Eugene England come to mind ... and many things I have just lost track of. But it's still my school.

I took my kids to the old alma mater today for the kinder sales pitch. Even though my husband will probably be a professor someplace where they can get reduced tuition, BYU might still be cheaper. Also I might want them to leave home. And of course I would love for them to get what I got out of their college experience.

So we motored down to Provo today (we're staying at my parents' house in the SLC suburbs) and did a customized tour. Here's what made our list:
  • BYU Bookstore. If you want to get off on the right foot with my kids, you start with candy and buying stuff. I'm not above that. We all got shirts, and the kids each got to choose a book and a dollar's worth of their poison of choice from the candy counter. And I got some chocolate covered cinnamon bears. It's an upgrade from the usual quarter pound of Swedish fish I used to go for about once a week in my Cougar days.
  • Eyring Science Center. Hands-on exhibits in the lobby. I pointed out to my kids that BYU has at least four buildings for science and engineering. UC Merced (where G is finishing his Ph.D.) right now has only one. Of course, UC Merced is 3 years old to BYU's 133. Still, S was particularly impressed. K loved the dino bones.
  • JSB. Replicas of the Golden Plates, Liahona, Urim and Thummim, and sword of Moroni. Z responded, "Wow!" I explained carefully that these were only replicas to help us imagine. Visited the Avard Fairbanks statue of Joseph Smith in the courtyard. Z waved goodbye to him as we left. I could not convince the kids to walk by my old workplace on the second floor. Sigh!
  • Maeser Building. Just wanted to show the kids a building that was there when my dad's parents went to BYU in the 1940s. We were just with them at our Bear Lake reunion, so I think at least my older two made the connection. They are the only fellow Cougs on that side of the family; on my mom's side there are several more, though.
  • Video games in the indoor games place. Does that place have a name? I never went there when I was in school. But it was a big hit with my kids.
We wanted to come back to Grandma's in time for dinner, and that was worthwhile as Uncle B made some killer spicy spaghetti. Yummy!

Anyway, so we skipped some of the things I had planned, like going to the Creamery and tooling around the mouth of Rock Canyon where G and I used to hike almost every week. I'd also like to catch the Museum of Art with the kids when they are older. And I know my cousin wanted me to try harder to hook them on BYU football. I'm going to have to recruit him to help with that - I'm such an ignoramus.

We'll save that stuff for next time. It was a fun day - the kids really were good and I actually enjoyed being out with all four of them for an entire day! That's good, huh?

I think I planted some good little seeds. I really do believe it's never too early!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


We are having a fabulous family reunion at the Bear Lake Hermitage in Paris, Idaho. It's just across the street from the beautiful old Paris Tabernacle and several historical sites related to my ancestors who settled this area. The lake is fabulous, the cousins are great company, the babies are all super cute and the fresh raspberry shakes are unbeatable. Plus, my big boys are at Minnetonka Cave and my little kids are both napping at the same time! So I had a shake, browsed the antique shop and caught up on my e-mail. It actually feels like a vacation!

(P.S. Not my photo. Thanks to my kids and a very hard tile floor I am again without a functioning camera. Yes, that is two down in a year. I don't want to talk about it.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Today I celebrate fifteen years married to Dr. G-to-be.

It is hard to find the right words to suggest the importance of this connection and the goodness of the man I chose. And I am not normally a person who has trouble finding words. But you know me, I will try anyway.

One lifetime with G would not be enough for all the laughter, closeness, searching, adventure and fun that has characterized our marriage so far. I am so glad to know that our partnership will last forever.

We have definitely been through ups and downs in terms of money, children, and even our relationship with each other. But I somehow found someone I know will not bail on me, no matter what. Whatever may happen to us, it happens to us together.

I don't worry about G. His goodness is so solid. It would be contrary to his character to hurt or betray our family in any way. It would be virtually impossible for him to desert our faith. He is commitment personified - and he makes it seem so easy, that it becomes easy for me. I love that about him.

Nineteen years ago he was a rock to me as I navigated a new town with new friends and challenges to my standards that I had never really encountered before. He is still that rock, that tower of strength.

But this is a guy who will not baby me. I'm not dragged behind him or put up on a false pedestal. He expects me to be right there with him. A lot of the time I don't make it. But he seems to believe I can.

Plus, the guy is funny, smart, hardworking and totally hot. It pretty much adds up to fifteen years of bliss.

No big plans or presents today. We're planning a trip for after he finishes the dreaded terminal degree that will mean he cannot be in school anymore. I think we've settled on Mexico as the location to celebrate all our accomplishments of the last fifteen years.

Happy anniversary to me and G!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Party on, Darth

From K on the way home from a pool party/wedding open house tonight:

"I was Darth K Darth Vader party boy in the pool."

"A wedding is when people get wet."

Friday, August 01, 2008


August is a new month. I have a personal trait I need to eliminate.

I had a big heart-to-heart with Dr. G-to-be last night wherein he told me that I am just too stressed and it is affecting my family. He is really right. I have smoke coming out of my ears about 90% of the time I am with my family.

I did tell him that the words "don't stress out" don't really do much to relieve my stress. Go figure. This whole, "you do everything while I write my dissertation" business is kind of hard on me.

I am supremely disappointed at how little stress relief has come from my reduction in work hours this summer. I really thought it would help more.

Anyway, here are my questions. I sincerely want your answers. I truly intend to carry my load a little better.
  • What do you do to de-stress in five minutes or less on a zero budget? In other words, when there is smoke coming out of your ears, how do you quickly put out the fire?
  • How do you cope when everybody needs something and you're still just one person who, by the way, also needs to take care of herself?
  • How do you teach your kids to be more self-sufficient and motivate them to take care of themselves a little bit, without making them feel guilty for causing your stress?
This is me turning over a new, serene leaf. Obviously, I have no idea how to do it. I'm going on faith.

G, by the way, has also pledged some improvements, for which I am grateful.