Tuesday, November 22, 2011


As of tomorrow, I will have had this blog for seven years. Dude, that is a long time. In 2004 blogging was new and trendy and kind of underground, and not a lot of people had blogs. Now everybody has a blog and some people are professional bloggers.

Originally I was going to have this be a group blog of Mormon moms working outside the home. I soon found out that my friends who were in work situations like mine didn't really have time to blog, so the group thing fell by the wayside. I made time because I needed to clear my brain of my mommy stress, food obsessions, religious musings, kid worries, adoption plans, and other stuff to be able to work effectively. It was actually not a bad work strategy.

Two days before Thanksgiving in 2006 we welcomed our first foster baby, little tiny 6-pound Joseph, who only stayed with us for one day. Little did we know that the following week we would meet the baby diva who changed our lives, our Z.  (I can't believe she's about to turn 5. I'm getting her zebra-stripes-and-Minnie-Mouse birthday party ready for Monday.) Just seven months later we met our K, who fit right in and caused total chaos and upheaval, somehow both at the same time.

After giving it a year's worth of my best shot, I realized that a full-time job was not going to jive with being a mother of four (particularly in the foster-adopt process and with some kids with special quirks and needs). So it was about three years ago that I quit my job. Since then I have needed the blog less than before, I guess, and that's why it's tapered off some.

But I was just remembering my first post, a Thanksgiving menu and some disjointed wanderings of the mind. Typical!

I don't mean to make it sound like I'm quitting. I'm not quitting. Just reminiscing at the season of my blogiversary.

In that spirit, here's our menu for this year. You can see that since 2004 I have become, if possible, even more obsessed with food.

cheese plate with stilton, brie and Irish cheddar
butternut squash bisque with sage pesto swirl
fruit cup with berries and pomegranate seeds

orange and rosemary roasted turkey
sourdough stuffing
mashed potatoes (I have learned how to make them without such gluey results!)
pan gravy
steamed and buttered brussels sprouts
green salad in the style of Toni's Courtyard Cafe (with fruit, nuts, dried cranberries and balsamic vinaigrette)
broccoli salad (our friends are making this)
roasted yams and pineapple
out-of-this-world rolls
cranberry and ginger ale punch

pumpkin pie
dutch apple pie
chocolate cream pie
carrot pudding with rum hard sauce

herbal tea

So, I should get cooking, huh? I'll be in the kitchen, if you want to wish me a happy blogiversary.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Last year on Facebook, I wrote something I was grateful for every day for the whole month of November. It was a great thing to do; it opened up my heart and prepared me so well to have a really meaningful and spiritual Christmas season. This year I am pleased to see many friends doing the same thing.

But I haven't been doing it. I don't know if this is a mistake or not. I won't lie to you, the month started out with me struggling to just keep my head above water emotionally and although I still was and still am grateful for the many good things in my life, I didn't really feel like I had the energy to summon up the personal graciousness to declare it every day. I was also having trouble with other people's declarations of "I'm so blessed" and "I'm so grateful," because sometimes it seems like bragging. I've griped about that some, which I know has flummoxed some friends. I know that might not seem like the most mature way to handle a tough spot in your life. But we feel what we feel, and we do what we need to do to get through.

As long as in the meantime we are doing the work we need to do to make life a little better, I think that's ok. Sometimes that just means hanging on until the day looks brighter. Sometimes it means digging deep in your relationships and your approaches to life's problems until you find something you can change. Probably most often it's a little of both.

And that's what's coloring my view of gratitude and grace and graciousness and greatness this Thanksgiving season. I am grateful for forgiveness of my failures to be gentle and kind and understanding when what was really needed from me was so much more than what I gave. I am grateful for the chance to catch up when I have fallen behind. I am grateful for reminders about what's really important. I'm grateful for people who are willing to turn over the rocks and clean out what's underneath with me, and for those who see a need and quietly fill it. I'm grateful for the chances to immerse myself in music or work or exercise or worship during the whole process to allow my mind and heart a little bit of rest. I'm grateful for how words comfort. I'm grateful for how time heals. I'm grateful for blessings I don't deserve.

Life is never going to be all fixed and perfect, that's my conclusion. But there really is an awful lot to thank God for along the way.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In general

The longer I don't write, the harder it becomes to write. I build up such a backlog of material that I don't know where to start. Or else I get so out of practice that I don't know how.

My sister M2 did a general-purpose update on her blog, which I liked. I didn't know that she was going to Hawaii for Christmas, for example, so I'm glad she blogged it. I had a great trip to Hawaii with my husband when I was exactly her age. It seems like a long time ago, and I guess it pretty much was. We're fifteen years apart but seem to be getting closer as sisters recently. I love it.

Anyway, back on topic. General purpose update. I thought maybe I could go down the line, person by person, Christmas letter style. I'm not sure I'll be writing a Christmas letter this year, anyway. Sometimes it gets hard for me to walk the line between keeping it real and oversharing, and the Christmas letter seems kinda high pressure in a year when things have been a little more real than I'd like at times.

I'll start with myself. I'm riding the frost heaves all right. Lots of up and down. I find I am easily dragged down when my plans are frustrated or when other people are not feeling good. Trying to keep taking care of myself. I think I mostly have the exercise thing down; I know too well how it affects my mood and emotions if I skip. You would never know it to look at me, which is kind of depressing, but I am trying not to be all about how I look, The day the lights go on in my head about controlling what I eat (I seem to have a faulty switch) I will really have it all together. Considering everything going on, some of which I will refrain from writing about (that oversharing thing) I think I am actually doing pretty well.

I am doing a lot of driving these days. Driving to the gym, driving to preschool, driving to drop of somebody's lunch money, driving to guitar lessons. And trying to keep up with people's homework and keep on top of the housework. It is never all done.

I'm editing a big mining textbook that was translated from Spanish. I do not speak Spanish. I speak French, because when I was 13 my mother thought I should take Spanish. So I took French. See how I am? The edit has been hard, and I've made liberal use of Google Translate and moved embarrassingly slowly, but it's also been pretty educational. By the end of the project I predict I will be able to read Spanish pretty passably and also be able to pass about two years of mining engineering courses without too much trouble, should I have the desire. I've finally given myself a deadline and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately the client is my dad and he's almost superhumanly patient. I'm also still writing the occasional story for my former employer, work that is easy and fun. I love it. And I learned from my bishop that the Friend magazine will probably be publishing another one of my stories next June. I don't know which one. I guess they check with the bish before they go too far in the editorial process to make sure their authors haven't gone off the deep end. Probably smart.

I'm stuck on Pinterest and want to do all the cool projects I see there. So many excellent ideas. I try to pick up one every now and then. Often crochet, or upcycling, or something to cook or bake, or an organizing type thing. It always feels good to do work that stays done (as opposed to laundry or dishes).

Dr. G continues to be even more awesome than he thinks he is (haha). He is working so hard at everything and has gigantic expectations for himself. He has gotten a pretty extraordinary amount of research money for a young professor at a small teaching-oriented university and is pursuing a big NASA grant. He just got back from a trip to visit a mining company that is funding one of his projects. They love him, of course. He is in charge of the boys ages 12-18 at church and puts in a tremendous amount of time with them. And he is still committed to quality and quantity time with our kids. They have been fishing and having a great time together. I am sure I don't say it enough but I am pretty much crazy about my husband. He's had a bumpy road himself the last couple of months, managing all this stuff and the stress that comes with it. My wish for him - just that he could understand that nobody's perfect but he is pretty dang close.

S has made great progress since the last time I wrote about him in my "Dumps" post. It really was a rough start to junior high. Since then we have had two meetings with G and me and all S's teachers and counselors together, plus I've gone to parent-teacher conferences. It has been a relief to see the teachers start to understand him, and him start to understand how to work within the system at school. All the teachers say he has done the proverbial 180. He has become significantly less stressed and better behaved. His grades are coming up, and he is in the Rocket Club. He launched his rocket yesterday. It was a huge success, shooting way up into the clouds before landing in the field next to the school. I went to watch it with my littles, and we were all impressed. S has wonderful friends in church and Scouts, something I'm really grateful for. He is happy in that environment and doing well.

A is my rock, which I worry is unfair to say about a child but he really is just the kid I can count on to help out and be good and sweet almost all the time. Everyone loves him, especially little girls, and we seem to see girls he knows everywhere we go. His only struggle is finishing his work in class, because he's just too interested in the people around him. I know I should hate that but I kind of love it. His heart is so good and I know it will serve him well in life. If we can just keep up with the math, too, we'll be golden. He read the book "Holes" for school and really enjoyed that. But he's always reading something; it's getting hard for me to even keep track. Luckily I am a book hound so it would be pretty hard for him to run out of material. Last month he sang a duet with a friend in the Primary program at church. It was absolutely beautiful. I know it is hard for him to live with some non-typical siblings. It stresses him out sometimes. We understand each other in that way! It's easy to forget he's just a kid, but I try to let him know how much I appreciate him.

K is still so stinking cute at age 7. I remember thinking that my older boys were getting kind of big and gangly and less cute (more handsome and of course still lovable) at this age, so how is it that K is still my adorable little guy? I guess that's the advantage of being a younger child and small for his age (his brothers are both on the big side). He is hilarious and delights in that - pretty much a ham. His little rubberface expressions just kill me. He is struggling with his ADHD a little bit right now; it's not affecting his behavior so much as his concentration and attention, especially in the classroom, and so we are looking at adjusting his meds. Very often I finish my dinner, for example, and look over to find he hasn't even taken a bite yet. He's just way too distracted by everything else going on. Good thing he's adorable because this inattentive business is pretty crazy-making. He has a couple of good friends at school and church but really prefers his brothers over all other company. Pretty cute.

Z is really blossoming in preschool. It's amazing to see her so engaged with learning letters and numbers, days and months, and skills like buttoning her own buttons, which she now insists on doing. She loves her teacher and her little friends. Back in September G took a morning off work to teach her how to ride her little bike without training wheels, and she's so proud of that. She's also great about wearing her helmet (yeah!) maybe because we got a cute one with flowers. It's so interesting to me how different she is from me in her tastes and proclivities. For instance, she would choose hot pink and zebra stripes over my preferred earth tones and natural materials any day of the week. So I think we are going to be having a zebra-stripe Minnie Mouse birthday party at the end of this month. I'm amazed that my baby is about to turn five. On the other hand, little girl can sing. I love to hear her singing to herself or her dolls throughout the day. Girl after my own heart.

Heidi the dog still mostly just wants a few things in life: love, cheese, and long walks. Sounds pretty good, right? We've had her a whole year now and although we go through more vacuum bags than before (German Shepherds shed) she is a wonderful addition to our household. Most mellow dog I have ever met. It might be because she's mentally challenged but that's fine by me. A smart dog would probably be more than I could handle.

Montana is getting cold. I am buckling down for the long winter. Maybe with the weather getting crappy and the general-purpose update behind me, I'll write some more for you. We'll see.