Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I made this up! I'm not sure where it transported us to, but it was somewhere exotic with delicious food. Seriously, the best stir fry I've ever made. Mei Qing Choy is exquisite, with tender stalks and a very delicate citrusy flavor.

Mei Qing Choy and Tofu Stir Fry with Macadamia Nuts

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. extra firm tofu, frozen and then thawed
2 heads mei qing choy (a variety of baby bok choy with green stalks, or substitute regular baby bok choy or cabbage of your choice)
2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal.
1 small onion, diced in 1/2" pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 tsp. dried ginger (or 1 in. fresh ginger, peeled and minced)
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. water
1 tbsp. corn starch

1 sm. package macadamia nut pieces

Drain tofu and press between two plates to remove water. (Place a heavy can on top of the top plate.) Dice in 1/2" pieces. Set aside.

Cut out stems of bok choy. Dice and set aside. Dice leaves. Set aside separately from stems.

Mix together ginger, cayenne, soy sauce, water and corn starch. Set aside.

Heat oil in wok or large pan. Stir fry onion and carrots 1-2 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add bok choy stems and garlic. Stir until beginning to soften. Add leaves and stir again.

Add liquid mixture and stir until clear. Taste; add more soy sauce or salt if needed. Stir in tofu very gently. Heat through. Add macadamia nuts just before serving over rice.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crisp comfort

Dessert last night, topped with the easiest ever homemade vanilla ice cream.

Apple Crisp
8 c. tart apples, pared, cored and diced
Butter for pan
2/3 c. butter softened
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. old fashioned oats
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
pinch salt if your butter is unsalted

Heat oven to 375. Butter a 9x13" pan. Place apples in pan.

In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients to a streusel consistency. Spread over apples in pan.

Bake about 35-40 minutes.

Hurry, you still have time to do this for Family Night tonight!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Remember when I did that crazy tutu project? Two and a half years ago. I had no concept then that this much later all the little tutu sets would be in a Rubbermaid tote in my garage.

Also no concept that when I got them out today - because a friend may want one - my little Z would pull out every one, delighted, and wear every piece on a different part of her body, as she sets up a little bed for her dolly with her pillow with the flip-flop print sheets and a pink towel.

My life is such a miracle, I think.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


My friend Crysty shared this with me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and get the same peace. I think I will be watching it again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


S to G: I like your hair longer. It makes you look more like Elvis Presley.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Still here

I'm not chained to the computer all day anymore and so ... things are different. I don't need a blog as a break from science writing and university politics anymore, I guess.

Home life proceeds; soccer's going on. We had two social worker visits last week. It's busy times, but I'll get back to you all soon, I promise.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Sometimes when I find something amazingly appalling or horribly wrong I get a sort of buzz in my head that drowns out everything but my shock.

I don't want to tell you what your response should be when you read this. But that was mine.

And this is the New York Times, folks. It's not a joke.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Girl power

I'm here in Heber, Utah with a group of about 20 girlfriends. It is estrogen central, baby. It is outlet shopping, jewelry making, game playing, walk taking, gabbity gabbing, food eating, zip lining, hot tubbing fun.

In the entry of our rented "cabin" (at least 4000 square feet, isn't that quaint?) there is an interesting chair. I use the word interesting here meaning ugly, and I realize that's a bit of a Lemony Snicket construction. That's one of the main things I've been reading lately - out loud, to the kids.

Anyway this chair is made of a big old gnarled log hollowed out in chair shape. The funny thing about it is that because of the shape of the log, there's kind of no back half of the seat. Just a hole. We have one friend who is seven months pregnant and we got a great photo of her in the chair pretending to do Lamaze breathing.

Which brings me to the other main thing I've read lately. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross. The story follows Joan, a 9th century woman who dressed as a man following her brother's death and entered a monastery, possibly eventually becoming the pope. This story is disputed by the Catholic church and I'm willing to entertain it as either fiction or fact, but it was a fascinating story with well researched insights into the medieval church, the power dynamics of gender, and the politics of the time.

Anyway, in the back of the book there's a picture of a pope-checking chair with a hole in the seat. Some claim, apparently, that it was used to check the sex of incoming popes after Joan.

And that brings us full circle, back to the goofy chair in our entryway. I think this one is meant as art. No pope-checking going on here in Heber, I'm pretty sure.

We're all packing up our girl power and heading back to our responsibilities later today. Our pregnant friend will be staying with a Utahn friend for a couple of more days - her home is in the Houston area and the airport is still closed. Another friend lives near Galveston and could not leave; she's a nurse in a children's hospital. Remember them today if you can.

The book was good. And yes, this will pass for a book review in my food-stuffed, sleep-deprived state. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Excuse for an easy post

Sally tagged me ...

20 years ago…
1. Falling desperately and sort of pathetically in 14-year-old love with a long-haired piano player. (Who was 15, by the way.) I was so fatal about it, although I did somehow manage to avoid boiling any bunnies! Good thing I moved away the next year and met G instead and had gotten just the tiniest bit more mature so I didn't scare him too much. Aw, it's all kind of a sweet memory now.
2. Acting in the school production of a funny, silly little play called FAUGH. Dyed my hair red for this. It was supposed to be temporary. It turned out to be the beginning of 20 years of hair dye.
3. Going to early morning seminary at Sara's house for New Testament study. Food after seminary every single day. Feast upon the word, and the bagels.

10 years ago…
1. New to PR, working for a little software company in Salt Lake, planning our participation in a big Chicago trade show for that November.
2. Undergoing infertility treatments at the University of Utah Medical Center.
3. Sally was my visiting teacher in our U of U student ward (G was getting a Master's in geological engineering).

5 years ago…
1. New to California, not a friend in the accessible world except Sally, mercifully only an hour away from us. She totally saved my life!
2. Living in a horrible house with horrible green shag carpet. But it had three bedrooms and its own fenced back yard with a huge shade tree. And it was only $800/month.
3. Thanking God on my knees every night for free universal preschool in Cali. Otherwise my oldest child might not have survived the month of September. He was driving me that crazy. And I really was that grateful.

3 years ago…
1. Recovering from the Sept. 5 Grand Opening of the university where I work. It was like the day after Christmas for a long time, except I was more tired and burned out. And there was still perpetually tons of work to do.
2. Trying to figure out where my next child or children were going to come from and how to convince G they were indeed coming. Got him to agree to make a decision the following January.
3. Other stuff documented for posterity here.

1 year ago…
1. A year ago tomorrow is the day baby Z came back to us after a month of upside-down horrible confusing wrongness. I am still amazed every day at this miracle!
2. Read "No More Goodbyes" by Carol Lynn Pearson and had a FHE lesson about it for my elementary school aged kids.
3. Taught the sex lessons in YW. That was fun! Little did I know I only had a couple months left in that calling. Well, actually I sort of did know, somehow.

This year so far…
1. Amazing, blessed victories in our fost-adopt cases. Both little kids set to be finalized by the end of the year.
2. Fun vacation in Utah with brave me and four kids, and my saintly mother helping a ton. Bear Lake, Cascade Spring, BYU, Lagoon and of course the DI were among the highlights.
3. After lots of juggling and adjusting, returned to making mommyhood priority number one by threatening to quit and ending up with a half-time schedule, mostly from home. At least for a while. I am lucky, lucky!

1. Didn't get out of my PJs until after dinner. I rock! Biggest drama: trying to get the baby to take a nap. Yessir, back to the good old days.
2. Made Indian for dinner. One kid actually tried masoor dal and liked it! This is major! I also made bhindi masala. I have no idea how to spell that and I am not getting the cookbook out now. But it is an okra dish. First time I have ever cooked okra.
3. Spent a lot of time, and I mean a lot, working on a Facebook page. It was real work though. I'm gonna get paid for it.

1. Childcare woes, woof.
2. Baby in the office, woof.
3. Still have to pack for my weekend trip.

1. Leavin' on a jet plane!
2. Trying to squeeze in 4 hours of work somewhere in the middle of it all.
3. Trying not to be too gleeful about G left home with all the crazies. I will certainly have my share of it as he starts interview trips later this fall, so it would behoove me to be gracious and grateful that he is so supportive of my taking breaks like this.

Next year…
1. Mainly a mystery, because of my husband's stage in life (set to finish a Ph.D. this December/January).
2. My baby will be in her 3rd year. I don't think I will be getting baby hungry again. I'm full!
3. Cuter, thinner, organizeder, spiritualler, capabler. Or maybe just one of those, even that would be good. I will be 35 next year, after all! Old enough to run for president as someone reminded me last week!

I tag…
1. you
2. you
3. you (purposeful ambiguity)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Seasonal treat

Lucy asked me not to delay my cobbler recipe, and I'm happy to oblige. We had this for our Family Home Evening treat last night.

September is, of course, the time to eat peach cobbler. My parents have a tree that grows huge, delicious peaches. I remember being there in September a couple of times when my younger siblings were still in school and my parents went out of town - and it fell to me to pick peaches. Not a bad task.

Peaches are somehow easier to get into jams and cobblers and other things like that than strawberries are, for me. They're big enough that you can't really just sit and absentmindedly eat a quart of them.

Anyway, this is the cobbler recipe I've been using since about 2000. I like it because it's kind of pure tasting - just butter, vanilla and fruit flavors. And it's easy and not overly sweet. The fruit is really the star of the show.

It's also versatile; you can use just about any fruit you want. I particularly like to use the three-berry blend from Costco, or a mix of pears and fresh cranberries in the wintertime.

But like I said, September is all about the peaches.

Peach Cobbler
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (I used 6 peaches for this. A little more fruit than the recipe states is not a bad thing!)

Heat oven to 350. Place butter in 9x13 baking pan. Set in oven to melt.

Whisk together all dry ingredients. Mix in milk and vanilla.

Pour batter over melted butter in pan. Do not mix or stir.

Spoon fruit, with any juice, over the batter. Do not mix or stir.

Bake at 350 for 55 minutes.

Serve with sweetened vanilla whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Plus side

Our old friend Braden not only tagged me for this but said really nice thing about me and G in his answer (it was not our Christmas tree, just a Christmas tree, though!), so of course I have to play the meme. Plus it is a really nice one - all about the brighter side of life.

If every job paid $50,000 a year, and you had no physical or mental limitations, what would you do?

I would be a kick-a SAHM with a housekeeper and a chef doing the hard jobs, each of them of course miraculously making $50k/year. And I would write novels at night.

What is your current church calling and what do you like about it?

Teaching the 7-8 year olds in Primary. I like the focus on the basics of the gospel through the life and teachings of the Savior. Also the jokes told by the kids, and the baptisms.

Name a person you regularly encounter (outside your family) who brightens your day.

Ellen R. from my ward. She's also my VT companion, lucky me! She is amazing because I know she has a lot going on and yet she manages to keep up with my little dramas and check up on me to see how I'm doing. Plus happy, talented, down-to-earth and fun!

In twenty years, what do you think you will miss most about your life now?

I was going to say little kid snuggles ... but you know, I could potentially have a couple of little grandkids by that time (weird) ... I dunno, I think I will still be happy and relishing where I am at that time, whatever it is I am doing.

What’s something you appreciate about your spouse?

Deep down goodness and absolute trustworthiness. Also being a good housekeeper - him, not me.

What is your favorite routine, household chore?

Folding laundry. Don't laugh. Everything is already clean, there's nothing gross about it, and you can watch TV or listen to This American Life on your MP3 player at the same time.

What’s a book you return to occasionally (besides the scriptures)?

Jane Eyre and Orson Scott Card's Ender books are the only books I reread, and those only every 4-5 years or maybe even less. There's too much out there for a lot of repeating.

Favorite small pleasure?

Dark, dark chocolate.

Favorite time of the day?

The quiet in the car after the kids are dropped off in the morning.

Name a person who performed what they thought was a small act of service, but ended up being a big deal to you:

Sally Lou calls me and texts me and is my friend even when I am clueless and disconnected. She does this little thing over and over. I am so grateful!

Name someone who somehow changed your life.

I will have to choose, on that one, two birthmoms who chose our family for their sons, and the director of the county child services agency who intervened when a case was going wrong. (I have trouble narrowing down lists like this!)

Consider what you do each day. Think of one attribute or trait that you bring to your daily work that is a strength—what is something you do really well? No false modesty!

I have put my priorities where they belong, at last, and I am accomplishing the things that truly need to be done each day - both in my family and in my professional work.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Le weekend

I remember when I was a senior in high school and I had choir, drama, AP classes and two jobs. Yes, I was that psychotic overachiever girl, terrified that someone would find out I was not actually perfect and running myself ragged to avoid that happening. Anyway, it leads to things like your mom having to confiscate your day planner because it is making you hyperventilate in a Choir Boosters meeting, and you calling up your boss's office in the middle of the night so you won't have to talk to him but can just leave a message saying, "I won't be in tomorrow, or ever again." It was just the movie theater, but still, not my classiest-ever departure.

I did a lot better quitting my current job, so it's nice I've made some progress in the last 17 years.

But it's true I won't be in the office tomorrow, so there will be no one to ask me the time-honored office question, "So, what did you do over the weekend?"

Therefore I thought I would tell you instead.
  • Friday night, watched some Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD with G while I finished up my work-from-home hours for the week. Pricelessly cheesy, with lots of memories of watching it every night in syndication while we were in college.
  • Saturday morning: S's first soccer game of the season. I spent the duration chasing Z around while she chased every canine in the park. She sooooo needs a puppy. She loves them like crazy. I am thinking we will get some kind of German Shepherd mix so she can love it like crazy and also be well guarded. And no worries, I am firmly committed to getting a pound pup. This will be after we buy a house, of course, so who knows ... it could be 3 years in the future, depending on what career path G takes.
  • Saturday afternoon: Shopping with K. That child is a major crackup. I need to take some video so you can see his hilarious, animated facial expressions. And when I say animated, I mean he is a little bit like a cartoon. G took A to his soccer game while I stayed home with the napping littles and computering S.
  • Saturday evening: BBQ with Z's former babysitter and her husband and 4 kids - 1 bio, 3 a sibling group soon to be adopted. They have definitely ridden this fost-adopt roller coaster in parallel with us. TPR has finally, finally happened and I am so glad for them! But just imagine 8 kids in our echoey house - as much as I sing the praises of hard floors, there are in fact times when I would like big thick carpets! My head is still kinda ringing!
  • Saturday night: folded a giant mountain of laundry - 2 weeks' worth - while watching August Rush. It was a cute movie but beyond unbelievable. I mean, a white American infant relinquished at birth was placed in an orphanage? Also, if you watch this movie, please skip the deleted scenes. There was a really horribly cheesy final confrontation scene between the kid and the Robin Williams character that I can definitely see why they cut, and if I were involved in this movie I would have never let it see the light of day.
  • Sunday morning: thought I was getting sick, but it was just allergies and exhaustion. So I got up and prepped my Primary lesson and got the fam to church - with tons of help from G - just a few minutes late. Testimony meeting was actually not all about Prop 8 and was very sweet, with testimonies from 3 recent converts. My Primary class was great and silly as usual. My cute persistent-negative-outlook girl has started telling me a joke every week. This week it was, "What did the seal wear to the big dance? Glass flippers!" I love her.
  • Sunday afternoon: Broke my fast early so I could take two Advil without getting sick (I have to have it with food). Then napped. For three hours! I so urgently needed that! Made salmon with a pesto aioli and pasta salad for dinner. Had a pillow-and-blanket book party in the living room. We are working on Book 4 of Lemony Snicket. We love it!
Now I've put the kids to bed and made it through all my nerdly stuff online. Funny how I am not tired since I slept the whole freakin' day. Heh. Tomorrow comes early.

This week will be my first one with only Z at home - K had no school this past week, so it was a little tricky to get my work-at-home hours sometimes. The main thing I learned was that he has
to take a nap! No exceptions!

Coming up on the blog this week:
  • Book reviews - Pope Joan and The Audacity of Hope
  • Recipes - peach cobbler, and whatever else I get a wild hair to make
  • Probably more political ravings, I'll be honest with you. I am soooo worked up over this election, in case you couldn't tell.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


An adoption board where I participate is having political discussions. Fun, right? Normally we keep it off the board. Today someone asked what we thought about the most important issues for the presidential election, and I felt like getting on my soapbox. Here's what I wrote. You know I've always been opinionated. Buckle up, buttercup.

1. Energy and environmental policy. We absolutely must decrease our dependence on foreign oil - all oil, in fact. Drilling offshore and in ANWR will only pass the problem to our grandchildren or further down the line. They will not thank us for that choice. We need to use government incentives to steer entrepreneurs toward renewable energy, including biofuels on marginal ag land, solar and wind. (Note absence of nuclear and water power - I think those are too problematic for the environment in other ways.) We need to improve technology in our homes, cars and businesses so that we just use less. We need to change our culture and policies to encourage less driving and less sprawl. We also need to fund science that will examine the effects of our cavalier attitude toward energy and global warming so far and recommend how we can mitigate for the changes we are in for.

2. Related issue: foreign policy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We need to acknowledge that the Iraq war is based on lies and corporate ties (big oil and defense industries) to the current administration, and that it has distracted us from the goal of capturing Al Qaeda leadership and stopping extremist terrorism. We need to get out of Iraq as soon as we can without further damage to the people of that country. We need to ramp up our efforts in Afghanistan, get the job done ASAP and get out. We cannot continue to pretend that we can do all this while simultaneously cutting taxes, by the way. And we cannot continue to be proud of our ideals and our liberty while we are condoning torture and kangaroo courts for those who aren't lucky enough to have citizenship in our country. If liberty and justice are what we stand for, we have to stand for them for everyone. What we have done for the last seven years in this regard is absolutely immoral and embarrassing. We can never let it happen again.

3. Unity in America. The dividing lines have never been clearer between rich and poor. We (those of us who are lucky enough to be educated and stable) cannot continue to selfishly look after our own interests only. We have to care for those who are in need. If we do not we see their needs increase and become a greater burden on our society. Not to mention the fact that callousness toward these people changes who we are as a nation. We need a realistic immigration program that acknowledges our need for labor from our southern neighbors and offers citizenship in an attainable way for those who want to build lives here and contribute to our society.

4. Taxes and economy. We cannot continue to cut breaks for the super-rich and corporations while the working people of America continue to bear the nation on their backs. Doing so for the last eight years while pursuing an expensive and unnecessary war has earned us a gigantic deficit that threatens our economic stability and will burden our children in the future. If you and I operated our households this way - slashing our income while increasing our spending - we would end up on the street. We should be ashamed of this. In a similar vein, deregulation in an effort to appease big business has given us Enron, skyrocketing gas prices and a mortgage crisis. We cannot afford this as a nation!

Things I see as non issues that everyone seems to want to talk about:

Abortion. I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. Abortion should be reduced to a state where it is used only in cases of rape or incest, danger to the mother's life, or extreme danger to her health or future childbearing capability. However for those cases it needs to be available without hoop-jumping or danger to the mother's privacy. I don't see how that can happen if regulation interferes. The real answer is realistic education for young men and women and effective birth control easily available for those who choose it.

Gay marriage. It is a state-by-state issue. Both candidates agree.

The mommy wars. Give me a freaking break.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Cleaned out of my minivan on Labor Day, 2008: French fries. Candy wrappers. Legos, most of which I think I saved from the shop vac. Beach sand, probably measurable by the pound if someone thought of a way to do it. Goldfish crackers bought by Grandma. Books and notebooks. Horsetail reeds from Cascade Spring, intended for whistles but then forgotten in the presence of cousins and Wii games. A clam that was alive two days ago. The top of a shoe box, discarded by a boy eager for his new skateboarder shoes. Pennies. The helmet of a Playmobil knight. Nerds (the candy). A lot of memories.