Friday, June 26, 2009

Daughter book

It seems like I've been posting a lot about my ubiquitous and dynamic little daughter lately. Two year olds are always entertaining, aren't they? I've also been reading a book that seemed to make me watch her with even more than the usual wonder.

"The Hummingbird's Daughter" by Luis Alberto Urrea is dense with faith, magic, tradition and color. (I sound like a back-of-the jacket reviewer ... but I really liked this book.) The book is an historical novel about Teresa or Teresita, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy rancher, the author's great-aunt and a powerful curandera who was seen as a saint by the people and a dangerous revolutionary by the government. The setting was really transporting for me, the characters were just about universally lovable, and the perspective of the protagonist on the supernatural was really enlightening. Not to mention the gorgeous Spanish-flavored writing, something I always enjoy (witness my affection for Isabel Allende).

Don't mistake me; the text is earthy, violent, sometimes disturbing. It might not be the best book for your Relief Society book club if your fellow readers there are very sensitive. But if they can take it, there is a lot of spiritual material to discuss. I have latched onto one little idea from Huila, Teresita's mentor: praying only for others, not for yourself. I'm trying it out. Amazing how much my prayers had turned to wish lists, and amazing how different I feel turning my heart to others instead.

And if you get discouraged while reading the book, hang on. The ending will knock your socks off. It's totally triumphant. That's all I'll say!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Verbal abuse

When the elders came by earlier this morning they really were looking for their lost cell phone. Silly me, I thought they were after a repeat of the verbal abuse they experienced from my two-year-old when they dropped by last night (right at bedtime, not my favorite moment for visitors, so I don't feel all that bad about this). I wrote down a few choice morsels:
  • "Scawedy-cats!" (Over and over) (She had heard her brothers get in a fight over this one and knew it was an insult)
  • "I'm gonna gi'you a whuppin'!" (confession: we taught her this one so she could say it to Dr. G's dad when he came for commencement last month. Now we reap the whirlwind.)
  • "Shut up!" (She has been watching a lot of "Annie" lately and is quite impressed with Miss Hannigan, whom she calls "Annie's bad teacher")
  • "Do you have undopants, or pull-ups?"
Poor missionaries. Or, as Z calls them, "sissonawies."

In truth, she has a massive crush on them. A few weeks ago in sacrament meeting she was begging me to let her "touch sissonawies." Then she was yelling at them across the chapel overflow (where we sit to minimize disruptions): "Poopooheads!"

Watch out, boys. That's all I can say.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I started plucking my eyebrows when I was 13, at my mom's suggestion. Not a lot of plucking, just excising some strays here and there. I was duly cautioned against overdoing it. My mom is a lady of refined practicality, and I do appreciate that.

I was 18 before someone told me, though, that maybe I ought to pluck strays growing in between my eyebrows. You know, in the unibrow space. Honestly, I never noticed they were there. Maybe because I'm naturally somewhat of a low-maintenance girl, or maybe because I never wore my glasses while completing my personal toilette. Who was that someone? Auntie Chris. When was it? Just before I headed home from BYU at Christmastime to see the boy who is now Dr. G for the first time in two and a half years. He had been on a mission in Korea. I already knew I wanted to marry him. So thanks to Auntie Chris for not letting me make that crucial first impression with unibrow.

A short time ago (although it seems ever more distant) I had a job whose requirements included being prepared to go on television to speak for the university on any given day with little to no advance notice. So I started getting my hair done by real professionals (as opposed to dye by the local drugstore and cuts by Great Clips) as well as -- rrrrip! -- my eyebrows. I sort of enjoyed the quiet aesthetician's room at the local posh-ish salon. (You only get so posh in my town ... the ritziest place still charged only $25-30 for a cut last time I went there.) The price for an eyebrow wax and cleanup was not unreasonable for a professional working woman, only $15. To me, it seemed worth it because after 20 years or so, I had come to hate plucking.

Then Z came on the scene. My little Portuguese-Chicana princess! Not so much at first, but within a couple of months her Frida came shining through. I know exactly where it came from. I saw her birthfather in court when he was there last year trying to say that now that he was out of prison he could take care of her (the judge wasn't sympathetic). His black brows would put Harry Monster to shame.

So she was less than a year old - she was born in November and I think it was the following July - when people started asking me when I was going to get her eyebrows done.

No kidding!

She was a BABY!

And I said so. And I still say so. And last August when I gave notice at my job, I also quit plucking. Me and Z have some eye.brows. Si se puede, princess.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


We had a wonderful weekend. My parents came from Salt Lake and two wonderful ladies came from North Carolina to see my amazing second son be baptized.

We have met birthmom T and sister S before, but in an abbreviated way (at placement on June 1, 2001) and in a hurried way (when she visited Utah in October 2004 and we made a quick trip there to see her). This time we had almost four days to be together - really together, because she stayed with us in our tiny house - and get to know each other. And we love each other more than ever. We are alike in so many ways and most of all we see more and more similarities between A and his birthfamily. It is fun. It's not always easy, especially when it comes time to say goodbye. But it is so good for all of us. T remains sure of her adoption decision.We love getting to know her.

A couple of people - friends who, like us, are involved with the foster care system - have asked us if it feels safe to us. Absolutely it does. But I don't know if I'd choose to have the birthparents of any of my other kids stay with us. I wish they were as wonderful and stable and trustworthy and loving as T, so I could. Complicated life, darn it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I know you have been just waiting for the right time to listen to my latest favorite singer. Here's your chance. It's a screaming deal! 

You can thank me later. I know you are going to be busy listening to it over and over so you can learn all the words and we can sing along nice and loud next time we are in a car together. I totally understand.

Enjoy ...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I got a date

Actually, two.

June 22 we will go into the county Human Services office to sign papers.

July 1 we will be in court finalizing two adoptions.

And sometime in July (as yet unscheduled, pending information from the grandmas about when they can make it) we will have a temple sealing and a really darn big party!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Chicken tamale pie

I had planned chicken enchiladas for dinner last night, but my tortillas got eaten by the resident troop of howler monkeys, I mean kids. Next best thing? Masa, baby. Polenta, grits, mush, whatever you want to call it. Talk about comfort food, and I have plenty in the good ol' food storage. 

I love the traditional tamale pie with ground beef and green olives, so I tweaked the idea a little to use what I had around. Some good olives would still be a great addition, though.

This is really easy because of the canned sauce. If you have your own recipe for a good tomatillo/green chile sauce, use that by all means. That's not how my life goes right now, but if you're making some call me and I will come and tell you if I like it. Nice of me, isn't it?

Chicken Tamale Pie

3 c. yellow corn meal
6 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 large onion, 1/4" dice
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 - 2 c. cooked chicken, chopped up (I used a mixture of light and dark grilled chicken meat, and I think the smokiness from the grill added a lot)
2 10-oz cans green chile enchilada sauce
1 medium sweet bell pepper, 1/4" dice (I used orange but I think any color would be fine)
ground black pepper to taste

8 oz. monterey jack cheese, shredded

In a large saucepan, whisk together cornmeal, water and salt until no lumps are left. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until thick and soft (no crunchy granules of corn left) with all water absorbed. Set aside.

In a large skillet, saute onion in cooking spray until clear. Add chicken and 1 can of the enchilada sauce and heat through. Add bell pepper and stir. Season with pepper to taste.

In a large baking pan (think a big, deep lasagna pan)  spread half the cooked cornmeal mixture. Spread chicken filling over it. Spoon remaining cornmeal mixture on top. Pour remaining can of sauce over all and top with shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 12-14 servings - plenty for leftovers. All my kids but Sam ate and enjoyed it.

It will not serve up in nice squares like this photo when you first make it. Plan to scoop it out with a nice, big spoon. Those pleasing lasagna-like squares come the next day, when you get to eat it for lunch, like I am now.