Oct 30, 2007

Wonderful link

This website is devoted to humanitarian projects and Ethiopia. I've really been touched by a lot of what I've read here. And I agree with their mission and means of carrying it out. Help someone to help themselves, that's the way to go.

You all should check it out!

Oct 29, 2007

Some more new links

So, I have found some more cool people to keep on my sidebar. Mostly, the sidebar is for me... I go around and look at my favorites from the comfort of my own webpage.

But you all should check them out, too.

Jer is a friend of mine that I grew up with in high school. His professional blog is already on my sidebar; this is his family blog, co-written with his accomplished and lovely life-partner, Rachel.

Denice is a silly, fun, warm person whom I happened to room with at Ricks college. She's been through some of the same stuff I have (who knew such things would happen? We definitely didn't imagine it, living there in our innocent little world of hotchicks 306) And is a strong, resilient woman.

MarlaJayne is a person I have never met in real life, but I already like. She's a wise person with great advice, given in a very ingestible kind of way. And she posts about a lot of interesting things, and I find that I agree with her almost all the time.

So go check them out!

Update on Covenant...

So I checked in with them by email the other day. They wrote back saying the the review of my manuscript is taking a lot longer than anticipated, and I should hopefully hear from them as to their decision within a few weeks.

I'm trying to take this as good news (why would they spend so much time if they weren't planning on accepting my book) but a piece of me is dreading what I think may be an extensive and full revision. If, for instance, they decided for me to switch the perspective of my story from first person present to say, first person past or third person present, holy cow.

I would do it, of course. But dang it! Well, Ok. fine. Being an author is hard work, and I ought to expect hard work, right?

Well, at any rate, this experience has been VERY good for me. And while they may still reject my book, at least I will get some extremely valuable feedback on my writing at the end of all this, which is almost as good as getting published. And they'll be aware of me in future, and more willing to consider any manuscript that I may send in.

So already I'm happy, grateful, ecstatic, etcetera.

I can put off my nail biting for another three weeks, too. That's also good.

Oct 27, 2007

Facebook woes...

I wish people wouldn't flirt shamelessly on facebook using SuperPoke. Because every one of your friends gets notified every time one of their friends SuperPokes someone else.

Seriously, I don't want to know every time one of my friends throws a sheep at, moons, or offers beer to someone else. It was fun while it lasted guys, but...

I'm done.

I do, however, think that the application Pirates Vs Nijas is very useful. Unfortunately I accidentally signed up as a Ninja when CLEARLY I am pirate material, so now i must convert ten people to my Ninja army so I can make the switch. Any takers?

And where, some of you may ask, do you find time for these sorts of vital actitives when you clearly have more important things to do? (Like make little sandwiches for your kids and fold socks, for instance?)

Lightning fingers, friends. Lightning fingers. Facebook updates are a matter of seconds when you've got the goods. And bloggetry, too. You may notice that I don't spell check a whole lot of my blog entries... this is efficiency and multi-tasking in its purest form.

Oct 26, 2007

Little Big Brother

My little brother is preparing for a mission right now. It is so strange to me, because he was 11 when I left home. His voice changed shortly thereafter; I remember calling home from college my freshman year and mistaking him for my dad.

John grew up fast. In a lot of ways. And in lots of other ways, he's still a kid. For instance, he doesn't think he's too cool to exchange witticisms with his older sister, and he still gets REALLY excited about things that he likes and good things that happen to him, and he still doesn't always put his underwear away like he's supposed to. (He'd probably exchange more than witticisms with me if he knew I posted that. And with my mom, who by all rights shouldn't be telling ME things like that but, that's what family is for, right? Unwelcome intrusion).

John, John, John. When I went home to visit a couple of years ago, we all went out on the town for some window-shopping and theater-going. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that no less than FIVE girls approached and flirted with him as we walked past. One of them actually ran out of her HOUSE and across her LAWN and practically leapt a FENCE in her quest of flirtation. The shameless hussy, flirting with a boy when is cackling older sisters are walking right behind them.

John knows women. He's one boy out of six kids. We surround him; he's number 4. John has had plenty of opportunity to study the art of kissing since he was a freshman in high school. (He's been in a lot of plays. don't get me wrong, my brother is lily-white. I'm sure he's only REALLY kissed like, maybe 3 girls so far).

How will the mission change him? Will he fare well in the company of overwhelming maleness, after being suffocated it estrogen for his entire existence?

Will he come back wanting to be a construction or electrical engineering major instead of opera and music performance, like he's opting for now?

Will his intensive study of ancient texts, foreign languages, and volumes by Hugh Nibley prove to be helpful or hurtful in his quest to teach the small, simple doctrines to his investigators?

I see John as a seedbed of compassion, empathy, strength and intelligence. He grew up before his time, and so people have sometimes misunderstood him. A small dose of humility (I mean, a large shock of humility-- this is the mission, after all) will serve him well; make him into something more than a precocious teenager. He'll come home a man. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. I can't even begin to imagine how my mom feels.

Here's the real question, though: Will he let me play his Gibson while he's gone?

Oct 21, 2007


The last comment on my race and adoption post made me think of something. Something that I have wanted to post about for a while. Something that troubles me deeply when I encounter it.

Now, I'm not trying to compare my experience with that of racial minorities. Not at all. People of color have a completely different, and perhaps more vicious set of preconceived notions to deal with. So, not to compare, just to state, for the purpose of observation and discussion:

Blonds are discriminated against. Yes, they are. You laugh, my friend, but you're not the one who was called "spacy," "airhead," etcetera whilst riding the busses of your youth. Oh, and worse. To be assumed to be "easy," "dismissible", "not serious."

Seriously. And you know what? Ok. I'm just going to make a list.

The Ten Crappiest Things That Blonds Have to Deal With.

10) A questioning as to the naturalness ofhair color, and therefore a blatant accusation of vanity, based solely on outward appearance.

9) A general attitude of dismissiveness by persons in authority who like to take themselves too seriously.

8) A lack of photographability: ie, looking undeveloped and washed out in any picture ever taken of you, particularly if you do not falsely darken certain facial features.

7) An addiction to SPF 30-or-higher and the possibility of having pieces of one's body cut off as one approaches cancerous ages.

6) The assumption by men that, just because you're Blond, you'll be willing to do for them what Marylin Monroe would do for them.

5) A lack of versatility/experimental leeway in the hair coloring department. It's much easier for a brunette to go lighter and pull it off than for a blond to go darker and not look like Morticia Adams.

4) The automatic assumption of youth; the whispers in the grocery store about 18 year olds and how they ought to do something with their lives other than popping out babies. LOOK AT MY FACE, people. See? Crows feet! And dang it, I have a bachelor's in psychology!!

3) The people that come up to you and ask if you're related to some other random blond person that they know. "Y'all look alike"... well, I know (to a very small degree, perhaps) how that feels.

2) The honking at stop lights. I know that, at 11:00 pm with the glare of headlights obscuring any clear vision of me within the confines of my poop-covered intrepid, added to the fact that I am nearly seven months pregnant, all they can really see is the blond hair. And so they honk. And so I tear off the green light and pass them. Yesssss!!!!

1) The mistrust of other women. Nuff said. Don't want to open up the vent on this one... it deserves another couple of posts, and nobody would probably want to read them ;)

And to add to all this, guys, I deserve sympathy because I'm not a blond with a cute, round, delicate swedish face.

I am a blond with LATIN features. I inherited the best of my biological grandmother's Portuguese facial bone structure: almond-shaped eyes, broad, high cheekbones, defined chin, aquiline nose. These look gorgeous and mysterious on a person with a matching complexion, but apparently strong features + blond hair = snob in most people's repertoire of first impressions. Without realizing it, I look really pissed off a lot of the time, when I'm in reality just intensely interested or perhaps bored. And apparently (I was told this by a brave guy friend during my single days)I accidentally smile evil smiles.

Add to that my tendency to act the clown and have unexpected hobbies (writing, homeschooling, vegetarianism and adopting Ethiopian children), and well, I'm doomed. When you defy enough stereotypes that nobody knows exactly which box you belong in, they tend to try to forget that you might be a nice person to get to know.

Most people don't like me until they've known me a while. Sigh. Alack and Alas.

But seriously, I don't know what I would think of myself if I weren't blond. It would be so weird. My hair color is such an integral part of my identity at this point... it has never changed. From the time of my birth. So I wouldn't want to change it.

And in a way, that could loop back to the adoption/racism conversation, too... can I teach this to my kids? You love who you are, and so, despite the fact that you get flack for your differences (and I admit, blondness is a vapid comparison to the sort of discrimination that my children my face), you love them anyway, because you love yourself, and wouldn't want to be someone else.

Oh, and just to clarify-- I love Marylin. Despite all that she has done to denigrate the cause of intelligent blond women.

Oct 19, 2007

If I could choose...

one R rated movie to see this year... it would be this one.

But I don't watch R rated movies. This one is rated R for language. It's so tempting, but I know that if I see one, it will be easy to see another one, etcetera. My long list of R rated movies I would choose if I could see them:

Girl, Interrupted
Good Will Hunting

That's it. Too bad I didn't get to cleanflicks before their pants were sued off!!

Oct 11, 2007

My little thrill seeker

Do you remember how I wrote a while back about Jaws and her love of fear? Well, it has been steadily proven a major personality trait.

She is 17 months old, and was walking by 10 months. She was RUNNING by 12, climbing things by 13, and willingly falling off of high surfaces at 14.

And today, on her own steam, she climbed seven really steep steps up to a 5-foot slide, sat, and bowled herself down it. Seriously. Here I am, biting my nails and whimpering, holding my hands on either side of the stairs in case she might fall off, and she's just blithely tumbling up it, despite the hampering nature of her new patent-leather ankle boots. And then launches herself down this slide, tumbles off the end into the wood chips, picks herself up, and runs around to do it again.

I was astounded, even though I know my daughter by now. It was astounding enough that I called Loli over to watch. She did, with absolutely round, scared eyes. After Jaws took her second trip, she turned to me and said, "that is amazing."

Is it more amazing that my toddler has absolutely no fear of death or that my five year old uses words like amazing?

I'm not sure.

Oct 9, 2007

Race and Culture: stepping out of the comfort zone

I've been reading up a lot on transracial families and transracial adotpion. One of the overwhemling messages I'm getting is how important it is to bring our adopted Ethiopian children in contact with their birth culture and with African Americans, as they will be identified as such in society.

It's funny... I have been such a naive, white girl, all my life. I grew up in a community where 80% of the population was not only white, but white, middle-upper class, yuppie, liberal... (well, except for all the retired people moving up from the baby area, but that started after I left home, mostly). The biggest source of diversity in our area were the yoga artists and hippies that lived up on the ridge and occasionally came into town bearing piercings, weave clothing, and touseled-haired children who went by monikers like "summer rain." (A real-life example).

I have realized, as I seriously contemplate adopting a black child into a white family,white community, that I have been color blind.

Meaning, completely unaware of color. What makes an African American? What makes a Latino-American? I have never been around enough diversity to figure these things out, other than basic rudimentaries: eg skin color and cheesy sitcoms like Fresh Prince of Bell Air.

A piece of my color blindness, I think is based in an unwillingness to see that there actually is prejudice, yes, even in my own wonderful, warm, virtuous community. Here in utah, a black or hispanic person will be pulled over far more frequently than a white person will be. He or she will be followed around in department stores.

There is even a family on my yahoo list in northern utah who recieved a threatening message on her answering machine.

What does this mean for my family? I will have to teach them about ugliness. I will have to explain to them that they may be treated differently based on the color of their skin, and not the content of their character.

But one thing I'm continually realizing as I get more and more warmed up to this whole, very alien situation/world/circle of human beings is that I will also have a chance to teach my children about beauty in a way that I never though about before: the beauty of difference, of startling similarity in the face of physical diversity, and I will be able to teach them humility in a way that I would never have been able to otherwise, because this experience has been extremely humbling to me.

Try walking into an all-black congregation, who meets specifically to support black members of the church. Nobody knows you, and you're obviously not black. You get looks, nobody really socializes with you afterwards, there is not a familiar face or even a comforting similarity. That's how it seems at first, and then you shake hands with the man at the door and he hands you a program and gives you such a welcoming smile that you decide you're not going to turn and run, you're going to sit. And listen, and be amazed at how much more diverse the ways of expression testimony and spirit are.

It's akward. But we're going back again, and again, and again. And eventually, it will be more comfortable. And all the akwardness will serve as a hint to me, what my own adopted children might go through, standing out so clearly amongst their peers and even their family.

God really works in mysterious ways, and I find my resolve and peace become more and more firm and powerful as we continue on this journey. In the end my greatest comfort is this: we are supposed to do this. Our blessings and growth as a family will be unimaginable, and the happiness that will come from these challenges will be overwhelming. I can sense that now, and I look at that as our end goal, because in the meantime, there's lots of work to be done.

Oct 6, 2007


So, this is pretty silly of me, but...

sometimes I look for recipes on the internet. Completely untried, untrue recipes, because my better homes and garden cookbook can be stingy sometimes. Meaning, too healthy when I want to make something completely unhealthy. My philosophy is, if you're gonna eat cookies, you'd better eat really really delicious buttery sugary chocolatey cookies, and not dry, crumbly, tastless cookies, even if that recipe is more 'healthy'. Because it won't staunch your cookie craving, and you'll keep making it over and over and get more and more dissatisfied.

Anyway, so sometimes I look for recipes for the most simple things on the internet.
Pizza dough, cookies, pancakes, pumpkin bread... and today, waffles. And this is really funny. In order to get a recipe I hope is really good, I type the word "delicious" into the search engine. So today I searched for a "delicious Waffle" recipe. Lol. ANyway, the search engine always pulls up a ton of results, and I sift through them, looking to see if I can find one that seems more delicious than the others. As we all know, this is a hopeless endeavor unless you have someone who has made it and can reccomend it; stars don't mean anything.

In the end, I've found, I always land on one strategy: the addition of the word "grandma's" in the title.

My grandma is an amazing cook. Always has been. I have just come to expect deliciousness when I sit at her table. And so I think it's subconscious.

So today, we're trying grandma's waffles. I'm hopeful.

Just to let you know, Grandma's pumpkin bread is delicious but Grandma's banana bread lacks flavor. (not real grandma's, internet grandma's. If you're reading this, grandma, please don't be offended.)

Oct 5, 2007

Standing Up for Chick Lit

OK, I'm really mad. I checked a book out of the library yesterday. Normally, I don't just choose a book without reading author reccomendations, etcetera, but I needed something new. This book looked, from the pink cover and scrapbook title, to be chick-lit, and I was reassured by the legitimate publishing label (bantam trade paperback). I love to read, and I read a wide range of material, anything from the Princess Diaries to Hemingway and really old classics such as Ivanhoe. And I'm the kind of person who picks up a book, and finishes it even if she isn't initially engaged in the plot/dialogue/style of the author. I just love to read.

But I draw the line every once in a rare while. I do not, for instance, read explicitly sexual books. Ever. A passing reference as part of a storyline, I can accept. A P-G-13 scene, I will skim through and continue where the plot picks up. But anything overtly sexual, anything that would bear a "R" rating if it were seen on the big screen, I do not participate in. And I hardly ever come across anything like that, either, because my tastes do not run to that area of fiction. The Harlequins I enjoy are from the 50's and 60's, when they were still bright and cheery and innocent and hilariously fifties-housewife-ish.

This book was trash. The woman who wrote it wanted to sell porn, and she sold it under the name of chick lit. The problem I have with this is: chick lit is not porn. It is usually a light, humorous story based around the lives of women; their troubles and the ways they resolve them, their jokey interpretation of relationships and being a woman in modern society. This I LOVE. This is girl power, this is laughing to make troubles seem less awful, this is woman at her best. In my own opinion, that is. NOt really serious, maybe not classifiable as real literature, but worth something nonetheless.

So, Ms. Kauffman, I will here outline the differences between the Modern Harlequin and Chick Lit. Just in case you ever attempt a foray into the writing world again, and I sense that you will. Unfortunately.


#1: If you want to write a chick lit book and not harlequin, you cannot dwell on the gorgeous appearance of your main character. In REAL literature, gorgeousness is not essential to the plot of the book. A quality writer can make her character attractive without describing dusky tresses, curvaceous body, and without resorting to scenes reminiscent of a pin-up calendar. For instance, in the Shopaholic series, all we know about Rebecca Bloomwood is that she doesn't have blond hair, she's of average height and possibly is slim with normal-sized feet. And we don't get this in one big description avalanche at the beginning of the story.

#2: You cannot promise an interesting plot and then fail to deliver. And I'll tell you right now, spending one chapter on the plot with little to no description, and revisiting it only occasionally throughout the rest of the novel, whenever the whim happens to take you, is failing to deliver. The plot has to be in EVERY MOMENT of the book. You cannot throw over the plot in favor of more glowing description of hero and heroine, and their relationship, no matter how innocent. Yes, this can come into play, but it ought to be a part of the PLOT, or at least somehow vaguely related.

#3: Speaking of said relationship between hero and heroine, it ought to not be an easy accomplishment. Meaning, they ought to have a hard time getting together. It should happen at the end, or perhaps should start at the beginning with a tension-building interruption somewhere in the middle so that the reader does not become bored with the relationship. Sex will keep the interest of (some) readers, but will turn off others. And it's a fairly cheap trick, and it sends the wrong message. Sex can NEVER replace a plot.

#4: Speaking of the Hero, if you make him physically stunning, witty and charming, always polite and pleasant to be around, and the head of a large company or inheritor of a family estate, he won't be real to your readers. You can do maybe one, maybe TWO of these things, but he Must Have A Flaw. Or at least a few quirky traits that distinguish him as an individual. Or else he will be like Ken Doll, or like those life-size cutouts of Han Solo that some college girls like to keep in their apartments. Of course, if you whole point is pornography, this isn't any real problem... who wants to get involved in the emotional journey of a porn star? But we're talking about writing chick lit, not modern Harlequins.

#5: Clothing does not need to be described in great detail, unless it is essential to the plot. (See, shopoholic series). It is hardly ever essential to the plot.

#6: If you're going to include sexuality of any kind in your plot, don't involve us as readers in such a way that it would make us uncomfortable. Anything I wouldn't want to see through my neighbor's window, please don't describe. A good way to lose ALL sympathy for any character you have written is to write him or her doing things that make the reader uncomfortable/disugst them.

OK, Rant Over.

You'd better be reading this, Ms. Kauffman. Because if you continue to dirty the name of chick lit, as a potential author of the same genre, I will have a personal account to settle with you.