Friday, January 10, 2014

Not too late

I have run into some moms lately who have deep regrets. Regrets about not finishing college, not keeping up their skills, not keeping balance in their lives as they dove headfirst into bringing up kids. And guess what, I get it.

But here I am in this Master's program, almost forty, and I have a lot of great years ahead. We all do.

So for the new year, I am here to say if you still have a goal, you can still find a way to do it. It's harder. You might have to make adjustments or find a new goal. But it's not too late to start doing the thing that is going to bring you joy for the rest of your life.

Also, if that thing is continued focus on your home and family, that's fine, too. But honestly, I have not met very many women who are just interested in one thing. Women create and produce and earn way more than they get credit for. Even when they are not in paying jobs.

So let's embrace it. Let's do what we love. Happy new year.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Well howdy!

I haven't been blogging. It's true. At least not here. I've been trying to get a Master's degree. Still got the four kids. And now they have sports and stuff. It's busy.

I did write a couple of posts for my friend Kaylie's site, You can check them out here and here.

That's it for now.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Well, except for the paleo post yesterday, it's been a while. Would you like an update? Of course you would.

Last fall after Z started kindergarten I found myself taking a lot of days off, just because I could. Which meant I was doing a lot of lying around in my pajamas watching whatever I could scare up on Hulu and Netflix. Apparently I am not good at providing my own structure. So I did what anyone would do. I applied for graduate school. That's normal, right?

No, really, I have been thinking about grad school for years. Probably since about 2007. And I've browsed online looking at programs and tried to think of how to make it work, and I've plotted a thesis in my brain. When we first moved to Montana I started looking at the different programs available within a couple of hours, and I figured I'd do one when Dr. G's faculty family half-tuition benefit kicked in. And then this fall I looked again at the program here in town and realized it was actually a good fit, and I decided to ask about the chances of starting in January with some financial aid. Then it seemed like I turned around and was starting school. Everything worked out so great and so quickly.

I'm the teaching assistant for one simple class, which is so easy it's crazy. I'll be teaching it all by myself in the fall, and that's exciting and great experience. My littles spend two afternoons a week at their friends' house while I have class, and the friends are at our house two other afternoons while their mama goes to school. How lucky can I get!? I am actually making money going to grad school. So lucky.

I have four classes including a one-credit seminar. I stay busy, but it's mostly manageable. I say that with my fingers crossed as the semester draws to a close. All the big papers and projects are ahead of me.

The program is really well designed so that almost everything - if I'm smart - feeds into my thesis. So I think I am going to be able to finish by spring 2014. After that I will probably do instructor work around here for a couple of years. Then when Dr. G has a sabbatical we might try to set it up somewhere I can do coursework for a doctorate of my very very own. Seriously! I am eating up this research stuff and I know I can do a good job at it.

So I took a Facebook break in order to try to focus better until the end of the semester. Thus you see me on my poor old neglected blog. Hi!

The post title, by the way, is from my darling enormous 13yo S.  He calls me an egghead and a square all the time when I do silly things like homework.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Paleo candy 1

When we went to Utah over Easter break I was awed as always by my beautiful and stylish sisters. They are both gorgeous and smart and thrifty, always, but this time I particularly noticed M1 was looking really slim and fit. On inquiry I learned she has been eating Paleo style. A shortcut description of this is no sugar, no wheat, no dairy. Ouch! I love all that stuff! But I've also known for a while that I need to kick a serious sugar addiction, and M1 said giving up the other stuff made it a lot easier for her to ditch the sugar.

You can guess, I decided to try it out.  I am not great at it yet. But I feel pretty good when I stick to it.

I do still have sweet cravings. Not like before. But I decided to make some sweet,  protein packed snacks to stash for those sugar addict moments. I made this recipe up, and I have to say, it's tasty. I wasn't planning to roll the finished candies in coconut, but I had to do it so they didn't look like ... you know.

Paleo candy 1
1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 c sliced raw almonds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c peanut butter
3 tbsp raw unprocessed honey (sister M2, maybe you could substitute maple syrup?)
1/2 c raisins or other dried fruit
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Additional coconut for coating candies

Place nuts, seeds, and coconut in blender or food processor and process until mixture resembles medium to fine breadcrumbs. Mix with remaining ingredients. Shape into 1" balls using a scoop or two teaspoons. Roll in coconut. Separate with mini muffin papers and cover tightly. Store in fridge.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Remember when I cooked?

I used to blog about food all the time. I don't know why I don't do that anymore. Maybe because it's usually not that exciting.

I did invent a little thing tonight that was a big hit, even with our friend who happened to be stopping by at dinnertime. So I thought I would write it down here and maybe try to make it again sometime. Things were a little wild and I didn't get a picture. Sorry about that.

Spicy Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Fennel

1 onion, diced
1 bulb fennel, diced
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 medium waxy potatoes (red or Yukon gold), peeled and diced
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 tbsp. of your favorite flavorful hot sauce - we like Cholula or Tapatio
salt and pepper
1 can chicken broth
1 c. frozen peas
sour cream

Layer all the vegetables and chicken in a large slow cooker. Mix chicken broth, hot sauce, and salt and pepper, and pour over the top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Break up chicken with a wooden spoon, add peas, and stir everything together.

Serve as a stew, with sour cream to temper the spice and good tortillas or bread on the side. Cilantro would also be great as a garnish. Wish I'd thought of that earlier tonight, but there are leftovers to be had tomorrow ...


Got the picture on the leftovers. With cilantro. Lots of it. Booya!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Four on the floor

I have four kids in school as of today. Officially.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Getaway, part 2

When we first walked into the basilica of Notre Dame de Montreal it took a few moments for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. Once you realize what you're looking at, you still can't take it in. Neither could my rickety little point-and-shoot camera, so here's a professional image that gives you the idea.

But I don't know if the feeling of it can be captured in any photo. You feel like those enormous gothic arches actually open up to a miraculously luminous night sky. You can't quite tell whether you're indoors or out. It's such a beautiful and appropriate way for a building to give tribute to the God of Heaven. At the same time, the intricate decorative work is a gorgeous testament to human efforts and human faith.

This is the photo I took. It's too dark. I would need a tripod and an empty church and a long exposure, I guess. 

Once you adjust, the light is beautiful, all filtering in through stained glass windows at the sides and the rose windows in the top of the arches.

Rose windows with saints and fleurs de lis, as well as stars and other symbols.

Our cute tour guide, Adrienne, came from the northern part of Quebec. She studies art and architecture history at the University of Quebec at Montreal. She was fabulous. She got us all seated in the oaken pews, decorated with carved busts of the Virgin Mary and the twelve apostles, and started in on a quick summary of the history of Montreal and of the basilica.

An apostle.

It turns out the basilica as we see it is a remodel. The original was completed in an English Gothic style, with large stained glass windows behind the altar. The sun through them in the mornings blinded the congregation. The remodel was an enormous undertaking that involved adding rose windows in the ceiling, stained glass on the side walls, and the intricate and beautiful sculptures that are now behind the altar. 

Many of the side windows show scenes from the history of the city. Adrienne said that's fairly unusual. This one depicts Jeanne Mance, a pioneer nurse.

The topmost part of the altarpiece is a depiction of Christ crowning His mother with a crown of glory. Her robe is inset with real sapphires and emeralds. I found it incredibly beautiful and moving, seeing Mary not in her usual beatific pose or holding an infant, but in the ultimate interaction with her exalted son, being recognized for her vital role and her righteous life. None of my pictures of this were very good. You should look on the church's web site, above, and one of the pictures on the main page shows it quite well.

There's a pulpit at the left that was built to help everyone hear the sermons before the advent of electronic amplification. It's very ornate and beautiful with statues carved in yellow pine. 

I particularly liked these two prophets - Ezekiel and "Jeremie," or Jeremiah, as we know him.Also the sign - please don't touch!

Looking up at the pulpit

Adrienne told us that Vatican II required all masses to be conducted from the front of the cathedral, so after that the pulpit was not used. And now, with microphones and speakers, it is not so much needed. Still beautiful, though.

Next we went into the secondary chapel, located behind the main altar. It's kind of two churches in one! This presented a stunning contrast to the main basilica in so many ways. Instead of the deep blue of the night sky, this room glowed golden. Every surface in it is yellow pine or black walnut. Immediately your eye is drawn to the enormous brass relief sculpture behind the altar.

See the Trinity at the top? Sun, dove, and human face. The arches represent the human journey through life toward God. You can see Adrienne at the lower right explaining it all!

This chapel was burned by an arsonist in the late 1970s and then rebuilt. The priests made an interesting choice in its new design. Some parts of it replicate the 19th-century style, but the ceiling, walls, and altar piece are very much of the late 20th century. They wanted to acknowledge the history of the place, without building a "fake, old" church, in Adrienne's words. I really like the mixture. And I love the honesty.

Danish Modern walls, French Gothic balconies.

When the chapel was burned, there was one piece of luck, or maybe a blessing. Two pieces of the original stained glass windows from the original design of the basilica were found sandwiched between walls. These required some repair but again, this was completed in a way that does not attempt to deceive at all. The replaced pieces are easy to distinguish.

The salvaged windows remain in their original frames. They depict Louis IX of France, who built a shrine to the crown of thorns that became the inspiration for the basilica in Montreal (thus the thorns in his hands), and St. Peter holding the keys to heaven.

Next we headed upstairs to the balconies. Here we got a close-up view of the decorative painting,as well as the amazing stained glass windows. There are also a lot of modern electronics up there for the big sound-and-light show they do in the cathedral. That would be a lot of fun to see, I imagine.

Dr. G in the balcony, with amazing, colorful decorative painting and gold leaf work.

I loved seeing so many women depicted in the stained glass. Of course, lots of men were there, too. But I kind of mostly took pictures of the women.

Mary, flanked by cherubs and crimson-winged angels

St. Therese, patron saint of musicians - located beneath the magnificent organ. Her angels have blue wings.

The life of Jeanne d'Arc in three panels ... and a lady on our tour who apologized to me afterward for getting in my picture. She was very nice.

Mary as a child with her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne. 

Closer up of St. Anne. I really like her. C'mon, it's Jesus' grandma! That's rad! 

Unfortunately I have forgotten who's depicted in this window. I'm so sorry. It's lovely.

The Virgin Mary. Stunning. I love the way the radiance of her halo is expressed in the glass. Also, all these side windows actually open, which I understand is not the usual M.O. Pretty neat.

I also really enjoyed the 19th-century decorative painting on the ceiling and walls of the balconies. There is some damage from water that entered the basilica during and after massive ice storms. They are raising funds for restoration.

The final stop on our tour was the organ. It's pretty massive, with about 7000 pipes in all, some located in rooms we were not able to see. I wish we could have stayed around to hear it played.

I'm a Mormon girl. I appreciate an impressive church pipe organ!

This post was enormous, I know. But it was one of my favorite parts of my trip, and I wanted to be able to share it! It's definitely worth going to see in person if you can. 

As we toured the basilica, I thought so much of my dearly loved Catholic friends, and my Mormon feminist friends who yearn for expressions of the divine feminine, and the more-than-impressive pioneer women of Quebec and those in my own history who have given so much to preserve faith and culture and education. They are very much tied together. Notre Dame de Montreal was a privilege to be able to see.