I have finally posted the xerces essay. I have been hanging on to this one for months-- I think today's angst pushed me over the edge so that I could just delve in with enough focused grief to finish it. ;)
My little sis was induced 3 wks early. Do you know what it is like to have a little sister have a baby? And to have it be more complicated than one would like? And to wait by the phone for good or bad news that will either devastate or thrill you?
-she and baby are OK... but not entirely OK, at this point... and I'm still waiting to hear...
I heard that someone very dear to me (whom I will not name because I don't want to embarrass said person by airing such things online for all to know) has prostate cancer.
I have a leaky kitchen faucet and it's driving me nuts.
I park under a tree and a million birds poop on my car every day.
Numbers one and two are, of course, far more weighty than three and four--- but they're so much so that I'm having a hard time internalizing them, and focusing on the faucet and messy car seems productive.
I have done lots of normal things today, and it feels good to do normal things. But say a prayer, cross fingers, etc.
This is a list of tips for those of you who would like to be more vegetarian, if you could think of what to cook. Also for those of you who have hungry, possibly picky-eaters to feed and would like to take meat off of the dinner plate and try to limit the amount of dairy you eat.
1) Vanilla soy milk is the closest to real milk, IMO. (But then, some like rice, and some love Almond. But soy is actually becoming economical to buy, whearas Almond is extremely pricey.)
2) When putting cheese on something (casserole, pizza, etc), halve the amount of cheese you would normally put (and gradually decrease it to 1/4, etc) and put some parmesan in there-- parmesan has a distinct flavor and makes it taste like there's more cheese on it. Also, I use only mozzarella cheese in my recipes-- I think it tastes just as good as cheddar, and it has less of the milk solids if you buy the kind that's 99% skim, etc.
3) If you are trying a veggie diet and find that you're craving meat and can't find anythign to fill the void, here are some suggestions:
*Nuts. They are high in protien, calcium, etc. Especially macadamia, but peanuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc do the trick. Be careful to check how much sodium is in a serving-- you can have them salted, but some brands also include MSG (planters, for instance). Peanut butter is also nice-- if you're worried about sugar and hydrogenated oils, buy Adams natural peanut butter.
*Seeds. Also high in some important nutrients that meats provide!! Especially sesame seeds, sunflower seeds. Sesame tahini is nice to spread on breads and crackers, and to make hummus with, and sesame seeds are one of the most calcium-rich foods on the planet.
*Avacadoes-- very nice, round flavor-- I add lemon juice, onion powder and paprika when putting them on a sandwich. They have lots of fat in them, which is sometimes why we crave the meats and dairy-- our bodies need fat. Ditto to olives, although remember that they are pickled, so they have lots of sodium.
*Up your green salad intake. Greens like Kale and Spinach provide some Iron, and they also provide calcium. You have to eat lots of greens to equal the amount of iron and calcium that a meat serving would provide, but think of the comparative vitamin content!
*Make sure you're getting enough to eat. Sometimes our bodies crave those foods that they can convert quickly into what we need when we go too long without food. An average day ought to include 3 meals and 3 snacks. Don't go for much more than 3 hours without something (except when you're sleeping, of course).
*Green drinks!! If I start my day with a green drink, I find that my appetite is more balanced throughout the day. A typical green drink will include about 3 or more cups of dark greens like spinach or kale (no lettuce, especially not iceberg), half of a piece of soft fruit (I prefer mangoes or peaches, but some like bananas), about 1/2 cup of fruit juice(grapfruit sets off the flavor of the greens nicely, but apple will make it sweeter if that's what you want) and a few frozen berries. I like to add the frozen berries because the green drinks taste much better when they're slushy.
* Make sure your carbs are complex! No white bread-- that's a wonderful way to make sure you crave the things your body is used to using to have a quick nutrient/calorie fix. Whole grains have protein and iron in them, and so you're less likely to crave meat that way, as well. Look on the packages of bread in the store and make sure they say either 100% whole wheat flour or stone ground wheat (or oat, rye, whatever). The 'enriched' flour doesn't have the same effect. So just because the bread is brown doesn't mean it will help you, protien-wise.
* Meat substitutes are nice for a special occasion, but don't go crazy (unless it's the only way you can find to get off of meat for a while. But the goal ought to be moderation with these).
* Cheese, ditto to the above, but I have my cheese weeks, so I understand. :)
* Vegetable bullion makes an admirable substitute for meat broths. It also lends a fuller flavor to tofu and other meat substitutes.
*TVP flakes in stews or chilis lends a meat-like texture to a meal-- but again, moderation.
I have some cool recipes that I'll post now and then, as well. In the meantime, here is my current favorite veggie recipe... my family likes this one a lot-- it does have some sodium, so this is a special-occasions recipe.
Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
Tofu (1 whole container, make sure it's extra firm, not silken or any other kind) crumbled, stir-fried in 2 tb of olive oil
1 leek, diced
1 can water chestnuts, diced
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tb hoison sauce (it's usually vegetarian anyway, but check)
2 tb soy sauce
1 full head of romaine lettuce
stir fry all ingredients except the lettuce. Serve hot, wrapped in individual lettuce leaves.
can use these sauces for topping:
and lettuce-wrap sauce:
1/2 tb hoison, 1/2 tb soy sauce, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp vinegar, teeny bit of cayenne, some pizza peppers for decoration.
So herein lies my deepest, darkest, mommy confessions.
1) I have a hard time remembering to cut my daughters' toenails. I think I cut them just about once every six months. They get all curly and gross before I remember-- usually during sandal weather.
2) I get up at least three times in the middle of the night to see if my FOUR-YEAR-OLD is still in her bed, and still breathing.
3) Sometimes buy go-gurts and juice boxes. And when I do buy them, I use them. Myself. Sometimes twice a day.
4) Sometimes I threaten my daugther with an impossible punishment (eg, "if you don't put your shoes and socks on, you'll have to walk barefoot through the snow.")
5) I have a hard time sharing the macarroni and cheese, when I break down and buy it "for my daughter".
6) Sometimes my baby goes for three days without a bath. (They smell so sweet, though!! You just forget.)
7) When breastfeeding, I always feel a need to multitask come on-- I have to breathe deeply, look into those ginormous blue eyes, and tell myself I'm not being lazy.
8) I'm MAKING my 4 year old learn how to ride a bike. And just now, after about 6 months of pushing, she's becoming a little self motivated. Who ever thought that good, old-fasioned fun would invovle so many teary afternoons?
9) Whenever I buy new clothes for my daughter (because she NEEDS them, she's still growing, unlike me) I get jealous and have to buy something for myself.
10) OK-- this is a one time occurrence. But it's the reason for writing this post. My most recent, very embarrassing mommy blooper--- somehow, lolly made it to church today without wearing panties under her dress. And also no stockings, no nothing, just BUCK NAKED under there. SO I go to the mother's room to nurse Jaws, and Loli bends over and dad is HORRIFIED to discover this, and rushes her home in the middle of sacrament meeting (Which, thankfully, is only about 100 yards away from the building.)
So this morning, I was walking out to put some stuff in the compost pile. It was a beautiful, dewy morning, and I had been out, earlier, reading my scriptures. (The morning outside is a wonderful place for scripture reading.) Anyway, I sat on a pile of scrap wood to read my scriptures and saw three snails. One of them was tiny. They were so beautiful, with the sun shining through their luminescent bodies, glancing off the planes of their shells. I watched them for a while and felt so good inside, thinking about how all of God's creations are beautiful... even the ones that we label as pests.
So, back to the compost heap. I was walking out to put more stuff from the kitchen on it, when suddenly, under my feet, crunch. I look down and am horrified to see a shattered snail shell, and a poor little creature that has been shredded by my careless step.
It reminded me of one time, when loli was about 2. We were walking to the park along a bike path. The sprinklers were on, and it was midmorning. We came upon a snail making its way across the asphalt. I was so excited to show and explain to her about the snail, and so I got down on my knees and bent to point out to her the shell and its little soft body, when suddenly, right in front of my eyes, a determined little brown sandal-- CRUNCH.
Loli is not a fan of crawly things. I laughed about it to people (mostly when she was out of hearing) but secretly, I was a little traumatized.
But not as traumatized as I was last Thursday. It was my birthday. Skywalker and I have never had lobster, and so we decided to go out for lobster for my birthday dinner. (Yes, we are vegetarians, but we do occasionally eat seafood. Long, drawn-out ethical explanation is for another post ;)) Anyway, When they brought the thing to us... I suddenly realized the full implications of what we were about to do, and nearly sent it back. There, in front of me, a poor dead animal (with EYES, for crying out loud, LOOKING at me), and I'm supposed to take these plier things and crush it up? How disrespectful is that? I looked at Skywalker, sitting across from me, and he smiled encouragingly, so I did it, but for a moment there...
Here are a few neat things I have discovered about Ethiopia.
1) Did you know that a large portion of the Ethiopian population claims descent from King Solomon of Jerusalem and Makeda, the queen of Sheba? And that they converted to Judaism after the son of Makeda was born, and claim that the final resting place of the Ark of the covenant is at a chapel in the holy city of Aksum. Aksum was considered the captial of Ethiopia at one point in history.
2) Did you know that approximately half of the Ethiopian population is Christian? They converted to Christianity 400 years after the birth of Christ, were the first to declare Christianity as the national religion, and the first to mint coins with a Cross on them.
3) did you know that, for many years, Ethiopa's rulers were female? And that Alexander the Great stopped in his conquest at the border of Ethiopia because he did not want to be defeated by the woman ruling at the time.
4) Did you know that Ethiopa has never been conquered, except once, for a brief period of time?
6) Did you know that Ethiopa has a thirteen-month calender and a different way of counting the hours of the day?
7) Did you know that, in contrast to what we think of when we imagine Ethiopia, it is a land full of lush green pastures, forests, and lakes? And that it has one of the world's tallest waterfalls, and is the source of the blue nile?
8) Did you know that the Mursi tribe, one of the fiercest in Africa, famous for the women wearing lip-plates, is native to Ethiopa? And that the face plates were meant to protect from slave-traders. They began the practice in order to appear less attractive to those who might capture and sell them.
As we prepare to begin the process of adopting a daughter from Ethiopia (we're going to start our homestudy this November, if all goes according to plan) I thought I'd begin posting about it.
First, I thought I would talk about why adopt, and why Ethiopia.
Loli is 4 years old, will be 5 in January. She was born of a different marriage, one that ended badly and had to end in divorce. It was a difficult time, and a difficult situation, and I did not fully recover from it for a while. I was not planning on dating or marriage again until after I finished grad school. Well, the unexpected happened and I married a wonderful guy, and we're very happy, and just recently had a second daughter.
They love each other already. Loli loves tickling Jaws and playing with her and making her smile.
But I have felt strongly that there is someone missing there. I remember when I was not married, when Loli was about 2 or so, feeling that an important event was passing my family by, passing Loli and I by. I thought about it a lot. But I was not married, and even if I weren't a religious woman who believes that premarital sex is wrong, and that I ought not to try any of the other options without a Dad in place to take care of the Dad side of parenting, I would not have had the time or resources to pursue such a venue.
Ever since I was little, I have thought about adoption. International adoption, especially. My mom was interested in it for a time, as well... She did research mostly on adoption from China. I remember thinking, when I was about 15 or so when she was doing this research, that it would be such an amazing thing to have a sibling from another country.
Since then it has been my secret wish to have a multi-national family. When I was in college, I studied Psychology. My favorite class was Child Development. Attachment disorders fascinated me because of a family in our ward back home who adopted several older children who all had problems later related to their lack of ability to attach. Every research project I did in college where I was given free reign to choose a subject was either on adoption or attachment disorders.
When I was a Junior, I began working with a professor who did research on children and trauma. For two years, I was given the job of running his lab, and charge over an extensive lit review on Children and Traumatic Grief. I read a lot about children and third-world countries, children and war, and children and severe neglect and deprivation.
A year or so later when Skywalker and I were dating, I mentioned this to him, just as an aside in one of our conversations. His response was "why do all women want to adopt?" I was kind of baffled by this, as it is not my experience that most women really consider this option seriously, especially if they have little or no trouble having their own children. Maybe this is a misperception of mine. At any rate, at this response, I filed my secret wish away at the back of my head, as something that may not be able to happen or be fulfilled, because it is wrong to coerce a spouse into something like this.
About a year after we were married, when I was about 6 months along with Jaws, Loli was playing with an extremely adorable girl from Korea. Their family sat in front of us in church every Sunday. The mother, brother, and father's English were good, but the little girl spoke mostly Korean. Jeff and I smiled, watching the little girl's enthusiastic interactions with Loli. Just on impulse, without really thinking much about what I was saying, I turned to Skywalker and said, "It's amazing to me that you don't want a little girl like that."
The remark was harsher than I meant it to be. I was fully expecting him to raise an eyebrow at me and not dignify my comment with a response of any kind, but to my surprise, he smiled at me and said, "I never said I didn't want to adopt."
Well, yeah. I guess he never did.
I asked him if it would be all right if I pursued inquiries into adoption from foreign countries. He said it would be all right with him, as long as I didn't go crazy and forget I was pregnant and already a mom and that he was going to school.
So I did my research. I got packets from all of the agencies in my area that I could find, as well as information from the major agencies in the US. After reading through these, I liked the Bethany program, as well as one of the agencies here.
finally, I talked to my mom about it. I wasn't talking to anyone before that, out of respect for Skywalker's wishes. But I figured, my mom is my mom, and my support in some things, and she went through this process ten years before, so maybe she would have something to offer.
She got excited and later called me and told me I ought to check out an agency that worked to place children from Africa. I wasn't too sure about this. See, African children would be the most neglected, impoverished, possibly malnourished, etc. population we could choose (except possibly Haiti). Also, I was worried because my little family is about as Caucasian as you can possibly get. I have been a white-blonde since birth, my daughter has my hair, and Jeff had very blonde hair as a child. Our new little baby followed this trend. What sorts of comments would we get? Would our adopted child face persecution and a feeling of not belonging?
I had planned on an Asian child, because I figured that, with our culture and its assumptions about race, that would be an easier place to start. So I put the thought of Africa out of my mind. I figured that if I could convince Skywalker to go with my dream of a multi-national family, we could always do Africa later, after we had a lot of experience as adoptive parents.
My mom had a packet from this agency sent to me, and just to be fair, I read it over. I was reading it for the first time as I drove to my job (I worked full time graves at an inpatient treatment facility. See? I was crazy to think about adoption what with all that our family had on our plate. Skywalker was right.)
Anyway, as I was driving, I would pause and read a bit at stoplights.
And suddenly, it hit me. This overwhemling feeling of tenderness, of urgency, of belonging. I knew, in that moment, while waiting for the light to change to green, that this was what we were supposed to do. It was a feeling as strong as any spiritual prompting I have ever had, and so I could not discount it as sentimentality, or merely feeling sorry for the children in question.
My mind was boggled by the implications. I held off for a bit, and then told Skywalker what I had experienced. He nodded and said, "well then, you'd better keep looking into that," but seconded his request for me to hold off on inundating him with information until he finished his finals and got a job-- very reasonable.
Well, he has his job. Finals went well. We have discussed it more, I have called the agency and asked a million questions and... I know it's right. And Skywalker is at peace about it, too.
So our goal: Save up enough for the homestudy and application fee. The waiting list for this agency to adopt from Ethiopia, the country we settled on, is 18-24 months long, and so we will be saving up enough for the actual adoption (12,000) during that time.
I'm not looking forward to the paperwork, but at the same time, I know this will be a growing experience for our family. This wait, this evaluation of how we are as parents. Preparing to adopt a child who may have quite a few special needs at first (or maybe even for a significant period of time) will help us be better as a family.
And it's what is meant to happen, and so I know Heavenly Father will bless us.
OK, am I the only one who gets embarrassed when people do/say nice things for/to you?
Today is my birthday. (Yay! Happy birthday to me. I'm 26. Which I realized last night, means that NEXT YEAR I will be 27. That was a mind-numbing realization. Now I know that there are some out there who would be like, what are you complaining about, girl? 27??? But think back, people... remember what it was like for YOU to turn 27 and go from being in your mid twenties to being in your LATE 20's. I'm not even ready to call myself a woman yet! And I'm not mature enough to be someone in her late 20's... people are going to start expecting me to use correct grammar and my 'like's' and 'um's' when public speaking will no longer be cute.)
Anyway, huge parenthetical tangent aside, my SIL brought me by pound cake. Which I love. Which she knew, because Skywalker made it on my birthday last year. And she drove five miles (a long distance when you're only used to driving a couple of blocks to the grocery store, walking 2 blocks to church, etc) to bring it to me for my birthday.
So, turn red, stutter, "thanks", laugh strainedly at funny card, feel intensely guilty... is that normal?
I think it might be a little wierd... she's my SIL. And I love her. And I do nice stuff for her!
Ok, time to get my act together and decide I'm a matronly, mature, self-possessed creature of Canonic proportions.
I'm nearly 27, for crying out loud. and I'm going to eat that entire pound cake. (thanks, SIL, if you're reading this... it really did make my day).
this is a really fun quiz, meant to describe what gender you are (according to what our societal stereotypes assign to each gender). I took it in my Psychology of Gender class (BYU).
I got a score of 1: Almost completely androgynous. What does that mean? I dunno. My husband still likes me. So it must be OK, whatever it means. If you have the time, take it and tell me whatcha think.
So, I'm a registered Dem. (fair warning-- all religious republicans should not be upset at what lies ahead in this blog).
Right now, from what I have read, I have decided that, should Mitt make it to the final stages of our presidential elections, I would most likely vote for him.
Reading his political history (on a few different websites), I feel that he is a Real Politician. Not someone who is going to please his party in order to gain their favor in order to gain election/reelection/approval/power. He does things because he believes strongly that they ought to be that way. I think (from what I have read) that he's aboveboard and honest. And a lot of what he writes/explanations for political moves he's made, make sense to me... And resonate well with me.
That having been said, I predict (and I'm no expert, so grain of salt, please) that he will not make it to that stage of the election.
I would definitely vote for Hilary. For several reasons. The biggest one is this: I think Condoleeza is a puppet. I don't trust her to do things she believes in... I feel like her history reveals her as someone willing to be steered. Why would this change when she was president? Also, a lot of what she says leads me to believe that, should we vote her in, we will soon have another war on our hands.
Also, the possibility that Dick Cheney will retire and they will appoint another VP to replace him, who will then be the frontrunner for the Republicans, is scary to me...Because that's almost like letting G.W choose whomever he wants to be president. Assuming, of course, that America is going to elect another Republican. But (again, grain of salt), I predict that, despite low approval ratings for our current president, this is exactly what is going to happen. Maybe I just think that because I'm trying hard not to get my hopes up only to be disappointed.
I'm not saying that I don't think that nuclear weapons aren't very dangerous. And I see why we need to make sure that nations are responsible with them. But reflecting on our current political environment, etc... We never had a war on terrorism when Bill was in office. Yes, he did some unsavory things. And he lied in court. I was very disappointed in him. But I loved his foreign policy... it resonates a lot more with me. And at least he didn't hide who he was... Which is more than I can say for our current president. Seriously, G.W. scares me. He is not aboveboard. He is not honest and up-front... He hides behind a front of piety, leads everyone to believe he is a God fearing man and then tells untruths. That is a lot scarier to me than a Monica Lewinsky incident.
OK. Off my soapbox.
And you all don't have to agree with me. I'm so glad America is a place where people can have opinions and disagree and still remain friends.
I have found out, to my shame, that I'm a spicy-food wimp.
All this time, growing up, I thought I was pretty good at eating spiciness. My dad went on his mission to Korea, and fed me extra-hot kimchee from the time I was six years old. Straight from the jar. Seriously. And I always choked it down, smiled a big smile at him, and pretended that the inside of my mouth didn't need skin grafts. He was so proud of me.
So today, I went to a Relief Society function where they ate Korean food. We all sat at the table, and they passed around the kimchee. Taking a big bite and chewing thoughtfully (keeping my face carefully neutral, despite the hot lava feeling inside my mouth) I mentioned to the ladies across from me that they ought to be careful-- it was too hot, and they probably wouldn't enjoy it. I'm sure I sounded really condescending.
They both tried it, looked at each other, looked at me and shrugged. "It doesn't taste that hot," one of them said.
I couldn't believe it. The incredulousity must have shown on my face because the other woman shrugged too. "Maybe the kind you are used to is hotter, or something?"
Accordingly, I tried another bite for comparison. Big mistake. Two bites of extra-hot kimchee within 3 minutes: not a pleasant experience.
So what is wrong with me? Am I actually a spicy food wimp? Or did Heavenly Father protect their sensitive mouths from the hotness in order to teach me a lesson in spicy-food humility?