Dec 28, 2008

Oh. My. Word.




Save me. Please save me.

Meals, Day 11: Tom Kha Gai soup.

Had this at a party recently and it was soooooo delicious I had to try making it at home. I didn't realize, though, it had chicken in it, until today when I looked up recipes for it online! ... I don't think accidental ingestion of meat should count against me in my resolve. But now I know I like it, and I can vegetarianize it for my family pretty easily, too.

Here's the original recipe:

1 whole chicken breast
2 chicken thighs
1/2 pound of cleaned shrimp (optional)
4 stalks fresh lemongrass
4 1/2 cups coconut milk (NOT coconut cream)
1 1/2 cups basic chicken stock
20 quarter-sized slices fresh galanga (fresh ginger makes a fine substitute)
10 whole black peppercorns
12 fresh wild lime leaves (available at Asian markets; if unavailable, substitute the grated peel of 1 lime)
1 cup well-drained, whole canned straw mushrooms, halved lengthwise (sliced fresh button mushrooms work fine too)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


Here's the recipe "nosurf-ized" (made simple, no chicken, and less expensive)

1 1/2 cups veggie broth
1/2 tbs powdered fish broth
1 can coconut milk
1/2 onion, cut into long, thin strips and sauteed until soft
2 drops lemongrass essential oil (you're supposed to use real lemongrass stems, as you'll see in the recipe above... get those at an asian grocery or asian foods market)

I didn't have any of the other ingredients at hand and so I added some salt and soy sauce for a little bit of flavoring. If I had the option though, I think I'd use the lime juice and try to hunt down lime leaves during my weekly trip to the asian food market. I also would go ahead and put in the mushrooms, but I didn't have any fresh.

You serve it with white rice, adding a little bit to the soup when you serve yourself.

So, it turned out pretty good, mad crazy substitutions notwithstanding! Me: **** out of **** stars. Skywalker: still at church doing his calling, so the vote's still out on that one. Kids: *** and a half out of **** stars. :)

Seriously guys. It sounds weird but this soup is sooooo good.

My Mafia name




Your Mafia Name Is Ella "The Chop" DeCicco



Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

resources for young moms, and new links

Heather has been a best friend for a long, long time. Her mother makes the best homemade bread I have ever ever had ever. She has a couple of blogs! Hooray for blogs connecting people! I'm going to link to her very interesting blog about cooking from food storage and healthful recipes... it's called Healthy Families, Warm Hearts. I think a lot of you will enjoy this blog and benefit from it.

Also, I'm adding Dallan's blog to my blogroll. She and I are blogging kindred spirits... when it comes to bedmaking, Barack Obama, and it seems, just about everything in between. She also has lots of blogs. I'm linking to her random randomness one, which I find entertaining.

Another friend has started a blog with all kinds of games, quiet activities, felt-board patterns and educational fun things for toddlers. This is an area where I am weak, in the parenting category... finding activities to do with my tiny kids! And this is such a great resource... I have always wondered where LDS parents go to get their file folder games, and there they are, right on her website. Fun times!

Also, Shannon from back home has been coming by... old friends. She has cute girls like me. I like having her around.

Go check them out!

Dec 27, 2008

Meals, day 10-- making sushi

I have been wanting to try sushi making for a long time. I loooooove sushi, but it's expensive. The reason why I've never tried before is I thought it was too tricky. But a friend recently reassured me; she said it wasn't hard at all and she frequently sends her husband to work with a sushi lunch. So I thought I'd try it! And I soon found she was right; Sushi is easy as making a sandwich. THe only time-intense part is making the rice, but mostly you're just letting that sit, and so it's at least not time-absorbing; you can do other things while you wait for the rice to be ready.

Ingredients:

short-grained white rice (3 cups)

Water (3 1/3 cups)

step 1: rinse the rice. put the rice in a bowl, fill it with water, and scrunch the rice together all over with your hands. Pour off the water, repeat 3-4 times until the water is fairly clear.

Step 2: Put water in the rice again (until rice is submerged)and set aside for 30 minutes or more.

Step 3: Pour off the water again. Add the 3 1/3 cups of water back in. Put on the stove, on low until simmering (or low boil); simmer for 12-15 minutes. Try not to take the lid off...if you have to peek to see if it's simmering, do it quickly and try to do it only once or twice.

Step 4: After rice has simmered 12-15 minutes, turn stove off. Leave top on,let the rice sit another 15 minutes.


While this is happening put these ingredients in a saucepan:



rice vinegar (1/2 cup)

salt (1 tbsp)

Sugar (1/4 cup)

you can also add 1/2 tb of powdered dashi (japanese fish broth)if you want.

Do not boil. Just heat until the salt and sugar are melted.


take the rice and put it in a plastic or wood bowl. Pour the vinegar in while you "stir" the rice, by taking a wooden or plastic spoon and making "slicing" motions into the rice. Don't stir, don't smush the rice,just use the edge of the wooden spoon to "slice stir" the vinegar into the rice and then keep stirring until it's room temperature.

While this is going on, the rice is supposed to be fanned. The recipe I read called for hand-fanning... instead, we use a small electric fan and aim it at the bowl.

once the rice is room temperature, you can stop fanning and start rolling!


For the sushi-making part (the funnest part, IMO)

you need bamboo sushi mats (can find at any aisian food store)

Nori (roasted seaweed sheets- can also find at any aisian food store, and also the grocery store, but it's more expensive there)

Sesame seeds (you can roast these in the oven to make them more delicious)

And whatever you want to put on the inside. For our first attemtps we did two different kinds. For one, we took tuna fish (in a can) and just mixed it with mayo like we'd do for any tuna sandwich. For the other we did avacado, fake crab meat, and cucumber. Slice any solid ingredients into long, thin, rods.


Rolling a sushi roll is fun. you take the nori and place it shiny-side down on the mat. You take the sushi rice and glop it onto the nori,then pat it and spread it until it's about 1/4" thick over the nori sheet, leaving about an inch free on the bottom edge. You take your ingredients and lay them across the top edge of the sheet of nori-with-rice, leaving about an inch of room at the top. And then you roll it up, using the bamboo mat as a shaper, and to squeeze it tight. The tighter the roll, the more it'll stay together after it's sliced.



The sesame seeds can be sprinkled over the rice before the ingredients are put on.



the whole thing will stay firmly stuck together after you're done rolling, you can take it out, layit on a cutting board,and slice it up!


And then you have yummy sushi!



Condiments: Pickled ginger, Wasabe, and soy sauce, of course! I also like tempura dipping sauce, adds a little extra kick.

Dec 23, 2008

A bit of real Christmas Spirit


This story
made me get all sniffly. I think that Janet might be one of my most favorite people ever.

Dec 22, 2008

Picture update






THese are on the old side (taken last February) but I just got around to rounding them up so we could send them to grandmas. So here they are. :) Merry Christmas, blogosphere. Hope everyone travels safely, and stays in good health, and has a wonderful time with family and friends.


**credit for these images goes to my sister in law, who is a really good photographer.

Dec 21, 2008

Something fun

Image hosted @ bighugelabs.com


Here's how you do one of your own:

1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search. http://www.flickr.com/search/
2. Using only the first page, pick an image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.
http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/mosaic.php(choose four columns and three rows, also choose individual URL's)
Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your nickname.

Found this on Sherpa's blog...

I tag anyone who wants to do this cool thing.

Dec 18, 2008

meals day 9

We had Random Soup tonight. Meaning, lots of veggies thrown in for wierd variety.

To be honest, good soup is all in a few ingredients. They are:

good vegetable broth (I've only had one kind I hated... it comes in a greyish brown package. If you ever find veggie bullion in a flat, greyish brown package, stay away. stay far away.) Powder is usually better than cubes, anyway.

onions. 1 whole onion diced for a big pot of soup, less for a smaller.

garlic. 1-2 cloves, crushed.

celery. Trust me. It's soooo important.. I hate celery but it really MAKES soup. two or (for a large pot) three stalks, thinly sliced.

seasonings: salt, pepper (white or black, depending.) for a yummy twist, add creole seasoning (accompanying okra or hominy in the soup, of course. :) chili powder and cumin for a taco-ish thing.

other options:

potatoes to add body,

cream to make it "cream of" something (or you can use plain yogurt, we do this usually)

tomato puree or tomato juice to make it a tomato-base (like minestrone)

flour or cornstarch to thicken.

Add lots of veggies. Lots of colorful veggies. There are a few veggies that don't work in soup, usually. For example, Mushrooms, cucumbers, olives. Cabbage, unless you're making Borcht or Miso soup (but that's another recipe).

Anything that will get really gushy that you wouldn't want to be part of the broth is pretty much a thumbs down... anything else is a possibility!

kids: usually they love it, but of course it varies with the veggies. Tonight's was a solid *** out of **** I think.

US: *** out of ****.

A Christmas message



My little sister just got home from a mission this summer, and my brother left on his two weeks later. He's in Brazil right now. I was very touched by this video... I listen to and watch all these amazing young people out there serving, and I think of my brother, away from his family on Christmas. And I feel proud and happy.

a little too much Christmas Spirit

This is for those of you who are already tired of Christmas music.

Generally I'm opposed to making fun of people's (inability to perform) but in this case I make an exception. Because it is obvious that either this guy's doing it on purpose, or he's had a little too much Christmas Spirit. If you know what I mean.

Loli: "That sounds really awful."

Kids don't lie.
Click here to watch 'Oh-Holy-Night-56'

Upload at Putfile

Dec 17, 2008

meals day 8

Vegetarian pizza

us **** out of ****

kids **** out of ****

pizza crust: usually I do the stuff from the box. But sometimes I do this really yummy one:

2 tsp sugar
4 1/2 tsp yeast
mix in 1/2 c. warm water(not really hot, but hotter than skin temp)
wait 5 min.

add 4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. olive oil.

add 1 cup water, mix with a fork.
knead 8-10 minutes, add flour if sticky.
oil a bowl and put the dough in. Put an oiled cloth on top and put in a warm area of your kitchen.

let it rise 1 hour.

punch down, let it rise 45 minutes.

stretch the dough out (a good way is to take it out and let gravity do the job, let the dough droop into a flat, fairly even thing. or you can do it the traditional way and try to throw it. I've not had good results that way). Sometimes I cheat and use the rolling pin a little... but go easy on the kneading/rolling at this stage.

bake for 10 minutes.

Add toppings and bake for as long as the pizza takes to be done.


Toppings we like:

garlic alfredo sauce
baby spinach leaves
tomatoes,sliced thin
onions, sliced thin
sliced olives
sliced mushrooms
zuchini, sliced thin
mozzarella cheese (soooo much more delicious on pizza than cheddar)

it's so good. Seriously, guys... try this one. Vegetarian or not, your family will love it.

Dec 15, 2008

Gems From My Mother

"My house might have been messy when you kids were growing up. But I realized after I became a mother, that I could either have an immaculate house, or play on the floor with my kids. To me, playing is more important. I don't feel guilty about that."

"My biggest job when the kids started coming was holding people on my lap. For the times when I had so many of you at home, that's pretty much all I did some days; lap-sitting. It was my biggest, most important job... and if I didn't get anything else done, that was OK."



These two things have given me a lot of hope and peace. I have these days... you know, where the laundry takes all day to fold because I keep getting interrupted. When I stop and remember these things that my mother has said, I realize that I'm not being 'interrupted' by my children... I'm doing my most important job. If I can get housework and other stuff done during the day, that's really kind of a bonus.

One thing I have learned... if I do my housework before the kids get going in the morning, it takes one-tenth the amount of time to do it, and I feel much MORE peace spending hours holding children on my lap, or helping them with their math, or playing or talking to them. It makes me feel good to know, though, that my priorities are on straight, even when my house looks like a dryer eploded across the living room and there are yesterday's dishes still in the sink when I start to make dinner.

motherhood, gotta love it.

Dec 14, 2008

People are waiting for me on Classmates

I've been getting weird messages in my inbox lately. Have you been getting them? Those ones from Classmates (which I think I might have done a free trial on, like, four years ago) that say, "Bob Jones is waiting for you, Nosurfgirl! Join classmates for 10.99 a month and see what messages you have recieved."

It's a little unnerving. Some of the names I actually recognize. And in the context of Mormon Culture the term "waiting for you" has some strange connotations. In a way, it's fun, though... I assume the information they pull is from people who have veiwed my profile. And so, seeing who has been nosy enough to look at mine (or just who has a little time to waste, and who possibly has some unresolved high-school issues) is a little entertaining. Maybe it's terrible of me, but I chuckle a little when I see which people have been used to try to entice me into paying a membership fee.

Let's face it. If I'm all that interested in keeping up high school associations... they're already being kept up. Know what I mean? I already have an email address or a phone number, or less that, I've added them on facebook. My high school friends (the ones that weren't more than that... and you figure out who is and who isn't pretty quickly after graduation) are good people. They are. And I admit I'm curious every once in a while as to what they're doing. But not enough to snoop around or join a service, or (I know, this is terrible) even attend any reunions.
And then there's this story that came out lately. I just don't understand the mindset of someone who has that much angst, still. I mean, I had those wallflower experiences... being a Mormon where I grew up warranted a bit of shunnage. Except from those who got to know me enough to see past that... and again, those are the people that I already talk to.

Obviously, some people still have a lot of angst about what happened at high school. It's a jungle! Which was why I was somewhat glad to leave it behind. And why I don't necessarily feel compelled to go back.

Dec 13, 2008

meals, day 7 (and the ward party of death)

So, this ward party was nice. Because there were cheesy potatoes in addition to the meat, rolls, and salad that are the usual fare. So I actually got something substantial! Bless the food planning committee for that.

Honestly though, ward functions are where it is hardest to be meat-free. Usually meat is the meal, with little else to garnish it. That is when I have the hardest time sticking to my (current, and past) principles.

I remember, for instance, one ward party which was a dutch-oven potluck. Everyone brought a meal in their dutch oven. And almost without exception (there might have been one or two meatless meals) none of it was Skywalker-friendly. At the time I was pregnant and a carnivore, so it wasn't as big a deal for me.

Skywalker is used to making potato-salad-potato chip burgers, dining heavily on salad, rolls, and deserts (not so good calorie-wise), or just making do with whatever meat-broth based soup is avaiable.

Not to say I don't appreciate ward stuff. I do. I love ward functions. And it is so wonderful that there are opportunities for wards to get together and eat and have a good time. Such great memories.

Tonight, with skywalker gone, I was flying solo. Not doing so well at it, either. At one point I had a squirming baby in my arms, a toddler racing back and forth across the stage with her pants falling off while a men's quartet attempted to sing, and a six year old crouched on the top of the stairs, trying to decide if she was brave enough to follow in her toddler-sibling's footsteps.

Honestly, that six year old. SOmetimes I wonder.

Anyway, We came home as soon as possible and my arms ache and I'm about ready to throttle someone.... so I'm calmly venting here on the blog before I read them goodnight stories and put them very much to bed. So that I can self-medicate by watching an old Buffy or Angel or possibly Bones episode.

G'night blogosphere. Tommorrow is another day.

Dec 12, 2008

Adoption and meals day 6

So tonight we ate the dinner I made last night, because last night was crazy. Anyway, it tasted better this time than I remember it being!! I think i might up my star-age to *** out of ****.

And both girls finished theirs (with some prodding,) so maybe it's a **. Anyway.

Well, in other news. We're going to have some information soon to post about adoption stuff. Yay! So now that I"ve got your breath all bated... I'm going to say that we can't post much yet because we're not sure it's going to work out. I"ll just say we might know whom we are bringing home, right now. And if it works out the way it's supposed to, we will likely be traveling (that's right, to AFRICA!!!) in March or April.

Cross your fingers, say some prayers... when we get a court date I'll give some names and ages. Hooray! It's been a long, long, emotional roller-coaster...

Dec 11, 2008

meals day 5

Well, today was funny. Had so much to do. I made dinner, got the house clean, we did one (yes, just one) class today. And guess what. We didn't have time to eat the dinner I so painstakingly prepared because we had to get out the door so that mom could go to her homeschooling thingy. So I made it, but we have not eaten it yet:

Potatoes, Carrots, and Turnips Au Gratin (a Molly Katzen recipe, modified)

2 large carrots
3 med-large potatoes
3 turnips

Slice these up in thin slices. add

1 diced onion or 1 cup diced scallions (onions are cheaper, but scallions are more delicious, we usually do onion)

Mix in one jar of garlic alfredo sauce (can be found with other pasta sauces)

Sprinkle bread crumbs and parm. cheese over the top

cover tightly with tinfoil

bake at 350 for one hour.

Last time we had it, I liked it. But I would only give it two and a half stars. This is a recipe Skywalker likes more than I do (translated-- less non-vegetarian friendly. His taste buds are more accepting of vegetables than mine are.)

The kids seemed Ok with parts of it. For them, it's probably a one and a half out of four stars.

If you love veggies, you'll like this. If you don't, you might not as much.

Dec 10, 2008

meals day four

Tonight we're having fish. I gave Loli a choice, we could either have the turnip-potato-carrot au gratin casserole or fish. And she chose fish. (I knew she would... she loooooooves fish. Loves it. Can you believe it?) Anwyay, I purchased a pound of sole filets at the grocery store yesterday. My two fish recipes are:

1) For white fishies

melt garlic in butter or oil, spoon over the raw fish in a casserole dish. Add sprinkles of dill, parmesan, and bread crumbs.

oh, forgot to say, I put a little salt and pepper on the raw fish, too, and line the sides of the tray with veggies. Tonight I did baby carrots and broccoli.

2) For red fishies (this one is specific to red snapper. It's yummy.)
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
* 3 or 4 drops Worcestershire sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning, or your own favorite seasoning blend, with salt
* 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
* 1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
* 1 teaspoon snipped fresh or frozen chives, optional
* 3 to 4 tablespoons plain or seasoned bread crumbs
* 2 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional

PREPARATION:
Place snapper fillets in a baking dish which has been sprayed with a butter-flavored baking spray.

In a skillet, melt butter with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Creole seasoning blend, pepper, parsley, and chives, if using.


Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes or until the biggest pieces are flaky and white and tender in the middle.


I have a couple salmon recipes too, but never use them, because, well... I can't afford to buy salmon. I bought salmon steaks once, for fourth of july barbecuing purposes. They were sooooooo good but soooooo expensive, too.

Watch out for bones! Even boned fish filets have little pieces in them. I always find one or two. If you're serving to a child under 5, you probably need to cut it up in little pieces and find them yourself; bones can choke. And nobody wants that.

Day 2 of Skywalker Absentia went all right, despite the craziness of taking a toddler and an infant to a crowded ballet recital and having to do hair and run around looking for teachers, etc.

I'm wonder woman! Yes I am.

Dec 9, 2008

Meal Chronicles day 3

Tonight we had one of our favortes: nachos with homemade salsa and gaucamole.


And as to life without Skywalker...

it's not worth living!!! Waaaah!

Nah, just kidding. We're doing just fine. At YW tonight the girls were holy terrors and got some talkings to but overall... this week is the busiest week I've had in a long time. Wow. So I won't have much time to think about what sort of cool jazz Skywalker might or might not be currently enjoying or what kind of geek networking he may or may not be doing. I'll just be slowly going insane. No, still kidding. I'll be doing what I do best: multitasking while juggling a challenging schedule and remaining calm and fair. The iron hand in the velvet glove. That is Nosurfgirl.

Hopefully.

Dec 8, 2008

Meal chronicles, day 2

My husband is leaving town tommorrow morning for 6 days. As part of my moping, I did not cook tonight. Instead, we got chinese. Which is a good segwey into a topic very near and dear to would-be vegetarian hearts: where to go out to eat, if you want to find lots of vegetarian choices. Here is my list of suggestions:

Nice Italian places tend to have a handful of options that are absolutely divine. A certain famous local italian place (you who live by me know which I mean) has a to-die-for portabella ravioli, and their lobster ravioli is perhaps the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. (If you're OK with eating fish, that is.)

Indian Food has many vegetarian options. And they are all very delicious. In India, there are certain religious groups who are strict vegetarians, and they make up a large percentage of the population. And so you can expect to find what you need at an Indian restaurant. Malai Kofta is one of my all-time favorite vegetarian meals.

Thai food is very very heavy on the vegetables, and those Thai people know how to cook their veggies, let's just say that. Soooo goood. Oh my word. Peanut sauce is like ambrosia from heaven when it comes to spicing up a veggie stir fry. I'm still trying to find the best recipe to make at home... so far, nothing matches what I've had eating out.

Japanese: Again, if you're OK with fish... sushi. The first time you have it, you might find it wierd and scary. The second time you'll say, "I can see how someone might appreciate this." Then you'll start having dreams. You'll start salivating in your sleep. Pretty soon you'll be using every excuse to get sushi; birthdays, anniversaries, the relatives coming to town. You'll start glancing longingly at tins of flying fish eggs and nori sheets in the asian food aisle of the grocery store...
that's as far as I've gotten. Because Sushi is one thing I think I'm willing to pay someone else to make. At least at this point. But the bad thing is, it's pricey. We've found a relatively inexpensive place nearby, but it's still too much for us cheap people to have as a regular date.

Chinese places with a large selection tend to have enough vegetarian options to get by on. Even the cheap places.

Mexican food... that's a little harder. Usually they have one or two menu options, but usually they're pretty bereft of appeal... just cheese, beans, and rice or a mix thereof. But one of my favorites is Chile relleno. Any good mexican place with have a version of that dish.

If you're eating Greek food, Falafel is one of the most delicious vegetarian entrees. We enjoy falafel often in our family.

Pizza
: Of course there's always the option of cheese. When we buy frozen pizza, we buy cheese or four-cheese, and pile veggies on it before we bake it. But the very, very best take-out vegetarian pizza is by far, Papa Murphy's gourmet veggie. Sooooo good.

English, German, Russian or Eastern European: really can't help you there. Pretty much expect to be able to handle just eating the bread and the salad. If you somehow wind up at one of these places (which, as a non-vegetarian, I absolutely loved), maybe order yourself a delicious drink or dessert to make yourself feel like it's worth it.

OK, and if you're dying for a fast food fix:

Taco bell. Has the most veggie options, though you have to realize their refried beans are probably made with animal fats. The 7-layer burrito is pretty good.

Other exampes: there are the sides, of course.

My favorites, when I need a fast food fix and I'm being strict are:

1) Curly fries at Arbys

2) Fried Mozzarella sticks at Arby's

3) Fried Zuchini at Carl's Jr.

4) Fish filet sandwich at McDonald's.

Not very good for you. But sometimes we need a junk food night. Just every once in a while, you know. On days where self-medication seems to be a good idea. LIke when your husband decides to go on a crazy trip to some wierd southern state and talk to a bunch of geeks about something you can't pronounce.

OK, done whimpering.

Dec 7, 2008

New series: Nosurf Meal Chronicles, day 1

After a comment on one of my last posts I realized that it might be a cool thing if I put some recipes and ideas out there, just in case there are people who want to use less meat but don't know how to. This has been (as I said before) a journey of sweat and tears for me and so if I can make someone else's life easier and less stressful trying to use less meat, I'm more than willing. Maybe all my frustration will count for more that way, :)

I'll give each of these meals "deliciousness" ratings based upon how kids take them and how grownups (skywalker and I) take them.

so to that end: tonight's meal.

Main dish:

Leftover Eggplant Lasagna
--Kids give it ** out of **** stars (based upon reaction)
--Grownups give it **** out of **** stars. it really is yummy, even if you hate eggplant (which I do.)

1 eggplant (slice it in 1/4 inch disks)

3-4 eggs (depending on size of the eggplant)

flour

spaghetti or flavored tomato sauce

parmesan cheese

2 cups ricotta cheese

2 cups spinach


Take the eggplant disks. dip them in the egg, in the flour, and then fry them in olive or other vegetable oil, on each side, until golden.

take the spinach and ricotta and 1/4 cup parmesan, mix together.

layer the eggplant as if it were lasagna noodles; put a layer of eggplant, then some of the cheese mixture, then more eggplant, then the sauce, then more eggplant, then sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan across the top. Oven at 375, cover the casserole dish in tinfoil and bake for about an hour.

Salad: romaine lettuce, red cabbage, olives, shaved onions, corn and garbanzo beans. Served with litehouse ranch (the only kind worth buying... you will not go back) and sesame-sticks (buy in bulk at health-food store) as a crouton-like topping.

We also had rhodes rolls and pie, because we were all crazy hungry after fast Sunday. The pie was chocolate pudding, a store bought crust, and Kool Whip.

nutritional notes:

Sesame seeds are one of the most calcium rich foods in the world. Many cultures use them in the form of sesame seed oil, as well as the whole seed. Both are very calcium-rich. Also, sesame seeds have a high amount of protein.

Dec 4, 2008

housekeeping blind spots...

OK, Apparently I'm in slight venting mode, so this is another post about my inadequacies as a mother and housekeeper. Haha.

Anyway, Do any of you have housekeeping blind spots? Things you just never notice, so they never get done/cleaned? Here are mine:

1) I never, ever make the bed in the morning. And I don't make my kids make theirs either. Rooms tidy, yes. Linens clean, well, tolerably clean. But the bed is always an explosion of pillows, comforter, twisted up sheets, until nighttime when it is quickly made so that all people involved can sleep comfortably.

2) The art area. There is a small corner of my laundry-den room thing that has my children's old art supplies in it. We don't even keep the new ones there anymore... and yet I cleaned it for the first time today in probably two years. It wasn't too bad... but there were some ooooold crayons on the floor and a corner that needed a little mopping.

3) Dusting. Only one area of my house gets dusty at all... the bookcase in the living room. So I forget to dust for a long time. The other day I looked at it, went "ew" and dusted it... probably for the first time in several months.

4) Under the stove top. I clean the burners, clean under the burners, clean the surface of the stove and the oven and... forget to lift the metal top to clean UNDER the surface of the oven. Last time was probably about six months ago. I'm kind of afraid to look.

5) Yes, Aunt Linda, I clean out the lint trap every time. Or at least, every other time. But I forget to wipe the tops of the washer-dryer and they collect awful hordes of lint before I notice them enough to give them a good cleaning... again, probably once every six months or so.

And the absolute worst offence:

6) I never scour my sink. I don't know why. I rinse it out, clean it out, scrub the counters around it, scrub under the dish drainer. My bathtub gets officially scoured every two weeks but I never scrub the sink... it gets gray. I've had two separate instances where my loved ones have felt it necessary to intervene... my mom scoured it once when she was staying with me, and my sister, once, when she was visiting. They wouldn't have said anything except I went to look at it and said, "Oh, look! It's so white! Wow!" And then they sort of ashamedly admitted to their little piece of charity.

Well, lately I've had an epiphany about cleaning. I'm organizing myself differently, and so far it seems to be working much better! I get much more done, and things stay clean longer... usually I'd go around madly scrambling to clean EVERYTHING everyday and now I'm doing it one-room at a time, with tidying overall for the rest of the house. It gives me the opportunity to pay attention to the little (OK, maybe not so little) details I usually miss. It's so much better! Today I even scoured my own sink. And as I said, this week I dusted the bookcase. And I finally exorcised our aged art-room demons.

But I still haven't made my bed.

Dec 2, 2008

re-committment to vegetarianism.

Those of you who know me and my family, know that we have issues with food. Not as in, we don't eat it or we eat too much of it. I think we eat an average amount for an American family. I don't really worry much about calories, or about fat grams or any of that sort of obsessive stuff. I just try to cook as healthy as possible, and at the back of my mind is always that little ticker that makes sure we get enough fat, protien, and oils. Because "we're" vegetarians.

That's in quotes becuase I have had struggles with vegetarianism. My retreat from animal products started about five years ago when I began getting recurring ear infections... yada yada yada several months later found out it was because I'd been eating too much dairy. And then I met DH, who had been a vegetarian, nearly vegan, for seven years before he met me. We talked a lot, and what he believed resonated with me because I have always felt that the standard american diet containes way, way too much meat.

As a Mormon, I think I have always felt the cognitive dissonance associated with Mormon Culture and meat eating. On the one hand, the D&C 89 clearly states that meat should be a sparing part of our meals. ON the other hand, meat-eating is a very ingrained, deeply-rooted part of diet and meals. Likely this is because of where a lot of us come from; Europe. England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark. I don't know if any of you have visited Europe, but if you do you'll notice that meals are very meat-oriented, and scarce of vegetables. It is because Europe has traditionally been a nation in power, and so, culturually, they could afford to eat a lot of meat. It was a sign of affluence to serve meats at a meal.

I think we feel that way in our culture, too... a meal is not "complete" without meat as the main helping.

Now, here comes the diverging of doctrines. Some Mormons feel strongly that eating meat "sparingly, during winter and times of cold or famine," means meat is only one course of the meal... you need to include lots of other items, too, and that diversity of nutrients is what was meant. Others say that the verse, which reads, "And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine," literally means what it reads: that God wants us to use it as more than a suppliment in those stated times.

However, if you read the previous several verses, I think the message is pretty clear.

So as a society, do LDS people follow that facet of the Word of Wisdom? What does "sparing" mean to you? What does "cold or famine" mean to you?

For me, it has been a difficult call. I have not been able to entirely divorce myself from regular meat eating during certain events in my life; eg, pregnancy. I'm an iron-deficient type. Meat is the way I've learned to cope, instead of turning to other, perhaps even more efficient sources such as prune juice, green drinks, or unrefined grains. My body has learned an association: a certain irritable, weak feeling means I need meat. Therefore, I have eaten it.

But the more I learn, the more I read, and the more I take in what effect our cumulative diet has had on my husband (the introduction of more dairy, and more oils, for instance, has caused him to gain a lot of weight where, before, he was very fit) I realize that I might need to keep reindoctrinating myself.

Meat, only in times of winter, cold, or famine. Sparingly. I need to recommit to this. To me it means, you only eat meat every once in a while. Every once in a while, to me, means it is a treat. A special occasion. Something to be grateful for and not wasted, or thought of as the usual fare.

So now I'm reccommitting. My goal: now that the extended family's Thanksgiving turkey is all gone, I am going to abstain from meat (except for the occasional meal of fish) until at least March of this year, when traditionally I make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. (The only meat I ever cook in our house.) Because I"m still nursing my baby boy a lot, I'm going to make a conscious effort to seek out sources of iron and protien outside of animal products, so that I don't feel drained and tired and grumpy all the time, and try to make it a good experience. I'm going to try to re-convert myself to total meat-abstention.

I know that some of you don't feel as I do, and have other ideas of what the WOW means. That's OK. We don't have to agree. The reason why I'm posting this is because it's much more likely that I will achieve my goal if there are others around who know that I am working on it, and who might check in on me.

And if you want, this can turn into a WOW discussion... let's just keep it openminded and non-accusatory. :) I'm always interested in a discussion of this, because it seems like one of those things that most people aren't really sure about. Discussion could do a lot of good here, I think.

Nov 28, 2008

Two of my favorite things

The Things of My Soul

Mormon Mommy Wars.


Ray (the author of the first) is a wonderful, intelligent, considerate person who writes some great stuff. I love reading it. I feel a lot of peace, when I do... and it contrasts nicely with a lot of the bitter, combative stuff written about (and sometimes, by) Mormons in the blogosphere.

Mormon Mommy wars is Just Hilarious. In the very best (clean) way.

Nov 24, 2008

my little rennaisance woman

So, my daughter has a homeschool assignment that she is currently working on: write words, or phrases, that describe what you want to be, or do, when you grow up. She's been working away. she asks me how to spell some words as she goes along:

Loli: Mom, how do you spell "Artist?"
(aw. she's said she wants to be an artist ever since she was four years old. My cute little artist.)

I spell it for her. A moment later:

Loli: Mom, how do you spell, "Baker?":
(Cute. I can see her in a little baker's cap... a smudge of flower on her nose..)

I spell it for her. A moment later:

Loli: Mom, how do you spell "musician?"
(whoa. she knows the word, musician? where did she learn that?)

I spell it for her. A moment later:

Loli: Mom, how do you spell, "train?"
(Huh?)

I spell it for her. A moment later:

Loli: Mom, how do you spell, "nurse?"

My head is starting to swim. This is one girl who can pay for her own college. That's all I have to say about that.

Nov 18, 2008

Nov 16, 2008

pigs'n'ponies

I stumbled upon this website and I completely, absolutely, am in love. But who has that much time? I ask you?

But it's got a lot of really, really cute ideas for special occasions. Go take a look if you've got little girls and are sometimes fishing for a really cute hair idea...

Nov 14, 2008

Leprechaun terminology...

I'm trying to find a word. Usually I can get it in about a day if I'm searching enough, but this one has alluded me.

What is the leprechaun slang for being kidnapped?

It's not shangheid.

It's not shilelaugh (that's the stick leprechauns carry).

Thank you for your assistance.

Nov 13, 2008

Seriously reaching...

Is it just me, or have there been extremely awful commercials on TV lately? Either completely weird, or laughably silly dialogue, or just... obscenely illogical promises. Here are my favorites:

courtesy of Dave:



another, courtesy of the Nice one.


What!?!





The feminist in me is tempted to get angsty about this one... but it's just so dumb, I laugh intsead. I just can't muster that feminist agnst.

I have taken this one down due to (very legitimate) complaints and instead created a link. Watch it if you want to, but my advice is only watch the first five seconds or so of it... it gets pretty weird and disturbing. The worst part is one of the girls using his chocolate belly button to fondue a strawberry... it looks much worse, though.

Odd, disturbing, and... somehow vaguely racist? Maybe that's just my white guilt talking.


This one made me laugh out loud, the first three times I saw it. I wish I had the dialogue written down somewhere. I could use it in a future story or something. But it's not worth the trouble of transcribing.



There are plenty more. If you guys know of any, I"ll look them up on Youtube and add them to this post. Haha. It's so much more fun to make fun of American consumerism than to get angry about it...

Nov 9, 2008

Words that come out of my mouth

This week.

Just me:

"uh oh! Did you gag yourself with pony legs?"

"No pooping on the stairs. Only in the potty."

"Don't eat bubbles. Bubbles are not food."

"Snakes don't live inside. They live outside. They won't come in your bed,I promise."

"Please don't use mommy's shoulder. Use kleenex."

"The baby was using the lawnmower. Wait your turn."

"Please don't hammer people."

"Are you my little sunset sweetie?"

"Take your clothes upstairs and PUT THEM IN THE DRAWER not on the floor NEATLY don't just stuff them in and THEN you can have lunch!"

"Please don't be a kitty right now. Kitties can't do math."



Conversations:

"Would you like to mop the floor?" (Both girls answer): "Yeah!!!!" (Jaws): "Can I do the scrubbing?"


(Jaws): Canniwatch, Cuyus Jodge?" "No. We've already seen curious George once today. We've already SEEN IT! NO MORE CURIOUS GEORGE!"

"OK. I'll give you two of my cookies. Just two each, OK?" (Loli gives me a kindly look): "OK, Mom."

Nonononono. Nononono. (Squirt): Nananana. Nanana!

"That's a really cool fairy house. Is that the one we made together?" (Loli): "No. I made it. It's better than yours, mom... it's staying up."

(Loli): "Mom, why are you brushing your teeth?" "I'm going to a meeting." "Oh. And you have to look as pretty as you possibly can?"

Nov 8, 2008

A big step for America


My reasons behind voting for Obama had nothing to do with color. I know that my friends and family did not vote for or against him because of it, either. But the fact that he is black, and the fact that he has been elected (no matter whether you agree with his politics or not) is a big thing.

I watched those crowds on TV when Obama gave his victory speech. The sheer disbelief, the overwhelming joy, and the hope apparent on the faces of many in the crowd... I am so glad. America is a place where everyone should be able to believe he or she can do anything, if they want it and work hard enough. That's what America is about.

Nov 5, 2008

Facebook on Election Day

Nosurfgirl’s compilation of today’s facebook status updates..



... is happy prop 8 will most likely pass.

…is a little nervous about having democrats control the house, senate and presidency...where are the checks and balances?

… is saying "GOOD-BYE SWEET AMERICA!"

…is God bless America! I'm glad neither candidate left God out of it:)

…is disconnecting herself for the day. Well.. except to check on Prop 8... you Californians like to make things interesting and close, eh?

…is ready for longer recesses and more candy in the vending machines!

…just put an extra blanket on her bed 'cause it's so cold... and is super worried about prop 8.

…loves her country! I just wish I could've been in Grant Park tonight!

…is feeling inspired.

…is sad McCain lost...but hopeful Obama can live up to the 'hype.'

…is in awe. "But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree." THAT is why I voted for him!

…is happy that prop 102 definition of marriage passed in AZ and hopes that PROP 8 in CA passed also!

…is so happy right now...

…CANNOT BELIEVE IT!!!!!!!!

…is not ready for the constitution to be torn to shreds, but looks like she doesn't have a choice.

…Going to bed early.

…voted. Exciting.



Feel free to post yours. :)



I love this feeling... even though it's been emotional, a real roller coaster for everyone, I'm so glad I live in a country where everyone has a voice, and nobody is persecuted for stating their feelings.

Nov 2, 2008

Mormons and potlicial affiliation

Thank you, Dallan, for digging this out of the SL trib archives. Wonderful article... so well said. I wanted to give it a post of its own!

Oct 31, 2008

More Deep Thoughts...

*last night*

God loves me. I know because my skirt fell off in the middle of the parking lot at night, and not while I was onstage singing.

*on the drive home*

(I'm parked outside Carl's jr waiting for my congratulatory fried zuchini, watching a man stumble across the parking lot, sway on the curb, and hobble towards my car.) That guy looks a little drunk. I think I'll roll my windows up.

*a second later*

(watching as he adusts his pantleg over his huge, gargantuan leg-cast) I'm a complete jerk.

*This morning* I wonder if leprosy is related to chicken pox. I can't imagine anything more unsightly and disgusting.

My poor, poor babies. What would they think of me if they knew I made them suffer like this on purpose?

*at about 12:30 pm*
(standing in line at the city administration building)
Look at all those fairy princesses. Too bad they aren't old enough to vote yet.

Wow. I didn't know false eyelashes could have rhinestones.

That guy's counting the line, saying maybe McCain will win Utah before November 2. I wonder what he'd think if he knew I'm voting for the other guy?

I wonder how many of these people are voting for the other guy? It can't be just me, can it?

*at 3:24 pm*

is it a sign of immaturity if I adore any candy that has a radioactive grape flavor?

My kids will look back on today with fondness, even though right now they probably can't imagine a worse form of hell: unbearable itching and having to stay home from trick-or-treating.

Luckily, only the 6 year old really knows what she'd be missing. And she's well, so she can go. Thank goodness.

I've got to get some taffy flavored cookies before everyone else panicks and there's a run on the grocery stores.

Oct 28, 2008

another perspective on same-sex marriage

another very good argument expressing why we need to protect marriage.

Great games and activities for littles!

A website devoted to activities and games to make preschoolers happy and keep them busy during sacrament meeting, at home, or just fun ideas if you're drawing a blank on something to do to spend time playing with your kids one day. (happens to me a lot.) This website was recently put up by a friend of mine who is VERY good at these kinds of things...I already love it! There are all sorts of links to great free resources all over the internet. I've been looking for something like this for years! All those organized moms who have tons of special, spiritual stuff in sacrament meeting for their kids to play quietly with have made me jealous... no more.

Oct 24, 2008

Arguments for Prop 8: New Cool Thang

some compelling arguments for proposition 8 can be found at this site.

I have a hard time with this issue... this article helped me a lot. Thank you, new cool thang.

Oct 22, 2008

on natural healing and motherhood

My mother is an LPN (one step down from RN... she quit nursing school 2 weeks before graduation because my little sister wasn't tolerating childcare.) She is a skilled healer, and she just as liable to use ibuprophin or benadryl as she is to whip out the echinacea and tea-tree oil. When working on us, she used herbs and suppliments as carefully and judiciously as she used the allopathic medications, and I grew up appreciating the value in both.

That being said, I have a low tolerance for that which has not been proven, medically, to work... or that which just seems waaaay out there. For instance, I don't believe that a radiating ball in a pool of water can tell me which essential oil I should purchase (through the guy doing the treatment, of course.) I don't believe in muscle testing, except as an exercize of the preconceptions and prejudices of the subconscious mind (in the cases where it really seems to work for some oddball reason). Maybe I'm intolerant, or maybe I just want to make sure I don't subscribe to quackery because my kids' health is more important to me than loyalty to a certain philosophy of healing and its hypothetical diagnoses and cures.

But then there are the in-between things, which I have struggled to keep myself open minded to. Here are my experiences there:

1) I was getting recurring ear infections, and after three courses of antibiotics, a health-nut friend of mine reccomended I try going off of milk, because a "milk allergy" is common in almost 100% of adults, and colds are often a result of irritability due to allergic reaction. I was at the end of my rope, so I tried it...

I have been ear infection free (and largely, milk-free) ever since.

2) Essential oils. I have personally benefited from essential oils: peppermint oil has often provided me relief during a nasty sinus infection or cold. It's a natural decongestant; I can say that it works because it has helped me sleep through the night.

3) The humidifier. My baby contracted RSV one week after he was born. We suffered through a month of intermittent Doctor visits. Each time we went, he was on the edge of needing help, oxygen wise. We started keeping the humidifier on him full blast at night, with an essential oil in it, and he breathed much easier while he slept. He also had a markedly rapid recovery after we started. He, a newborn, never had to be hospitalized.

4) Colloidal silver. All three of my kids (newborn included) had ear infections this last winter. I have heard so many things lately about how antibiotics ought to be saved for dire situations, so that there are more options to try to treat a serious illness if it ever comes, but if the body has adapted to these other drugs it's less likely to be effective. So I thought, before I picked up the prescription for antibiotics, I'd try a particular brand of colloidal silver for a day. My neighbors had raved over it to me, and I had read a few anecdotes that seemed genuine. So, I put it in the affected ears and let them take a nap. I am not making this up when I say that, in each case, the ear infections did not last 24 hours. They were completely gone, as far as I could tell, a few hours after the application of the colloidal silver. After this worked with my girls, my newborn got ear infections in both ears, and was obviously very uncomfortable. I took him to the dr to get a prescription just in case, and tried the colloidal silver, putting it in each ear and lying him on his side for 15 minutes each, after he settled down for the night. When he woke, he showed no signs of irritablity.

5) Cranberry pills. My daughter was complaining that it burned every time she urinated. Other symptoms lead me to believe she had a urinary tract or bladder infection. As she wasn't feverish, I thought before I took her in I'd try cranberry. I got capsules at the Heatlh food store. I opened them up and gave her half-doses straight, having her drink water afterward. her complaints dissappeared within a day.

5) Dietary change and probiotics: My toddler has had recurrent diahhrea ever since she got old enough to have grown-up bowel movements. I noticed that she'd be all right for a few days, then have a long spell of awful diapers and stomach pain, then she'd be all right again. I thought the most likely cause would be dietary. Because the usual culprit is too much sugar, I tried that first: didn't work. The next most likely was dairy: tried that with limited sucess. I took her to the dr, who is an osteopath and more friendly to natural remedies: He prescribed a powerful probiotic and instructed me to give her a half-dose with her food every day. He told me it was likely that all the diahhrea had removed important flora from her intestines, and that this would help get her back on track if I made sure we didn't aggrivate her problem by giving her the foods that had continued to make her sick.

For about a week, I gave her the probiotic on her peanut butter sandwiches. I watched the dairy carefully. She started having normal diapers after a week of treatment. One day we went to a friends' house and she had cheese, and some diahhrea occurred for a day or two, now she's back to normal bowel movements.

So, from one mother to another: Don't dismiss everything that your doctor doesn't tell you as quackery. If it's not going to hurt anything (for instance, silver suspended in water isn't something you can easily overdose on, and acidophilus in probiotics is found in the food we eat every day, and cranberry can't poison you no matter how much of it you eat or drink)— try it. It just might work.

But also be careful: herbs ARE medicines, and there are some that you can OD on and get very sick. Do your research, and ask for help from a knowledgeable practitioner along with your natural healing.

Oct 9, 2008

What is feminism?

When I hear the word, "feminist," images come to mind of bra-burning, hillary clinton, a black-and-white picture of women marching with pickets, scenes from "stepford wives", Sheri L. Dew, Carol Lynn Pearson, Emmeline Wells, and a florid radio commentator spouting blustering rhetoric. You get the picture. Very conflicted.

The other day I met with a group of friends; other homeschooling moms, and one of them asked me, "Are you really a feminist, or are you just teasing us?"

I guess I have a hard time with the idea that feminism means femi-naziism, pro-abortionism, anti-stay-at-home-momism. To me, I have developed a view of my own views as feminist, because I have a passion for womens' issues. I feel so very strongly that women are Satan's primary focus of attack in our society right now, and we need to educate our girls so that they can become strong, self-assured, whole people who don't devalue themselves by thinking of child-rearing as demeaning and limiting, who don't think that they have to be a size two to be beautiful.

I'd like my daughters to grow up to become women who think of strength and health and vitality as their goal for their physical appearance. I'd like women in the church to see themselves as the supreme force for good, for motivating things like welfare and missionary work and strong families. I'd like women all over the world to realize that educating girls and women has an astronomically further reach (statistics show that children with educated mothers are healthier, more likely to do better in life, and that the families tend to stay together more.) And that limiting education to boys and men actually has a detrimental effect on society.

Women are so powerful. They have such a potential for influence in the world. Being a mother is not limiting or demeaning, it is the ultimate creative act: you are creating a person, helping them to create their worldviews, their values, their emotional stability and perceptions. The emotional climate of a home is far more influential that the physical climate of the geographical area in which a family lives; thus, motherhood is even more powerful than nature.

And even if your lot in this life is not to be a mother, women are intrinsicly capable of that kind of creativity, of that kind of influence for good in the world, the ability to nurture and teach and help those around us. Not just children, but anyone within our sphere of influence. Heavenly Father created us with those talents and capabilities.

This is why I consider myself a feminist. Women's issues are fascinating and vital to the well-being of the entire human race.

The idea that feminism is wrong, to me is offensive and sad. Let's not limit ourselves, ladies and gentlemen. Let's not let people like Rush Limbaugh tell us what we believe.

Oct 2, 2008

Race Across Azeroth

I had to laugh at this one, having known one or two video-game enthusiasts in my life...


Sep 27, 2008

SNL making fun of Obama

Just to even the score.



This is actually one of my favorite of the SNL political skits.

Sep 26, 2008

Debate

Yes, I watched the debate. And here's all I have to say about it.





I love sarcastic movie voice guy.

Sep 24, 2008

the Revolution: A Manifesto

Ron Paul.

He's someone I respect quite a bit. I don't agree with all of what he says... I think his views of what government should be are gorgeous, classic. Simple and beautiful. They make sense. The beef I have with it is this: we have already strayed so far from what he discusses in his book; the intial purpose of the constitution and the Founding Fathers' desire for how our government should work; what it was allowed and not allowed to do, and the duties of each branch. We have changed things a lot since then. We are nothing like the government the founding fathers envisioned. Some people (Ron Paul, and his supporters, the constitutionalists, and others) think that this is a tragedy, something that needs fixing or else American society will be hanging by the threads of the shredded purpose of the constitution. Others, like me, feel that the government and its branches and duties have made necessary adaptations in order to keep up with the needs of our evolving society.

The post I linked to in the title is about the fallacy of liberal and conservative labels, and how it detracts from the real changes need to be made in American government. The author of this post feels we need to go back to what the founding fathers envisioned.

What do you think? I think everyone ought to have an opinion on this... a lot of people, it seems to me, don't even realize that we are not the country the founding fathers started us out to be. Go read this person (I love and adore) his post, if you want. And if you want, read the book. I'm going to, now that he's done with it. :)

Sep 21, 2008

Bishop Higgins on the importance of pillows

For those of you who still haven't figure out that the link is in the title, here it is again.

:)

A Welcome Rest

I was released from my primary calling eight months ago. My calling right now? Relief Society chorister. Currently, my Sundays consist of getting the kids ready, giving them the appropriate meals and naps before church, quickly choosing hymns and calling the pianist, and (heaven bless the bishopric) actually GOING to relief society. For real. Seriously. And sunday school, too.

A little context: Approximately six and a half years ago, I gave birth to a cute but nevertheless high maintenance little bundle of joy. Ever since then, Sundays have kept me hopping, whether it be the half hours during each meeting spent in the mother's room trying to figure out public nursing, or being called to the nursery because my little toddler only got to see me full-time on Saturdays and Sundays and it just seemed better that way, or having to take said rambunctions toddler to singles' ward meetings because there is no primary. After I married Skywalker, it was much better; we took it in shifts. But I was immediately given a very challenging and time consuming calling in Relief society. And then, after we moved, I was called to primary (of course).

And then a nice primary president released me from the calling, because I was having a baby. She asked me, "are you one of those supermoms that wants to do it anyway, or would you prefer we release you for six months while you get back on your feet?"

And then, my husband (wonderful skywalker) convinced the bishopric to call me as relief society chorister (he's the ward clerk, and so he's in on all the meetings) so that I couldn't be re-called to primary, and could enjoy relief society. The purpose was more social than spiritual; I had been complaining to him that I didn't know anyone in the ward, because I was always in primary, and had a few moments of "nobody liiiikes me, I don't have any frieeeeends in the ward..." so he told the bishopric, my wife would like a small relief society calling.

I hadn't anticipated the spiritual repercussions. I don't think I've sat through an entire lesson for five years. I definitely haven't had the opportunity to listen fully, and actually participate (novel concept) in that amount of time.

Loli is in primary, Jaws is in nursery, and squirt goes with Dad during the third hour. It's just me. In relief society. Listening to the lesson, and having a bit of time to socialize with the other sisters. It's amazing. I come home feeling refreshed and renewed (I had forgotten the feeling) instead of tired, cranky, and hapazardly spiritually fed.

It has convinced me of something else, too... spirituality is so important. So go ahead and ask dad to take care of the baby during one of the hours, if you've got a calling the other two. They don't do much in elder's quorum anyway. Your husband will likely be glad to be given the excuse to play with the toddler at the back of the room. If his calling is too much for this, or you are in primary, a good idea would be to watch the devotional on KBYU (if you get it) on tuesdays, maybe arranging naptimes to coincide. And going to enrichment to socialize with the other sisters. I've balked on this point many a time, but it really does make a difference.

Anyway, I realize this won't last forever... I'll go back to primary, or get called to young womens', or be made secretary of some such at some point. That's just the lot of young mothers in a ward. But right now, I'm really enjoying it. More than I thought I would be.

Sep 16, 2008

memory exchange

So, I got this from a friend who blogs. If you know me in real life, you can leave a memory of something about me and you, in the comments section. Then if you put a post up, I"ll leave one on yours. :)

Those of you who know me only through the internets, are also allowed to participate, if they really want to. And I'll try to reciprocate.

Sep 15, 2008

been waiting for this one

apology in advance to all you palin supporters... yes, I know everyone will be sharing this one today, but I couldn't help myself.

Sep 11, 2008

Ouch.




What Your Bed Says About You



Outward appearances are a concern of yours, but not your primary concern. You try to take care of yourself and your home, but it's not an obsession.



You try to be an organized person, but you often fall behind. Certain parts of your life tend to fall into chaos.



You are very high maintenance. You like everything a certain way, and you're grumpy if things aren't the way you like them.



In relationships, you tend to kick back and let the other person be in charge.



You tend to be a dreamy, head in the clouds type of person. You think in terms of possibilities.



You are a total homebody. You are happiest when you're at home.

Aug 31, 2008

schooling my young

We just finished the first week of homeschooling. IT has been a tough one. Not because it's hard to homeschool. No, I think it's probably easier to teach a child one-on-one about concepts like addition and geography and language arts, than it is to teach them not to lie, not to tease their sister, and to pick up all their toys.

The problem is the schedule. With this homeschooling, it's all day non-stop. I'm never not doing something. There's no kick-back-relax time until the kids are stowed away in their little bunk beds. And even then, my baby has been going strong lately, until around 9:30, and I'm so exhausted at that point that I fall asleep in the middle of whatever movie or discussion or whatever "us time" that skywalker and I attempt after they are asleep. I have been thrilled to get to know the other homeschooling moms in the area, and to realize that we CAN get everything school-related done by noon, and have the rest of the day for Emma to play or do whatever she wants. She likes this I think. She misses her friends, but her friends aren't really from school anyway. She's got one best friend who lives a few miles away, some friends in the ward, and she play with her little sister (when she's not teasing her mercilessly.) And then there's the homeschooling group that she's getting to know better, too. We had a rousing activity at a certain local beach, and she loved it, right up until the part where she lost her bracelet in the water. We came home in tears. Sigh.

I have just been feeling so washed out and unmotivated this weekend. I keep thinking, why am I doing this? Why??

I went to church today at 11:00, with family in tow. We got there and suddenly realized, our church starts at 1:00! I nearly crumpled right there on the foyer. We went back home, put the kiddoes down for a nap. And then I slept until 1:20. WE got there late, and spent the half of sacrament meeting that we made it there for, in the foyer, with the toddler running around screaming, the baby demanding to be nursed every thirty minutes, and the six year old doing her best to slyly egg the toddler on in her misbehavior. I thought to myself, no way. This is not going to work. Not unless I can find a really good motivation... to be this tired.

Today in Sunday school, we watched a video (it was joint Sunday school the third hour) that the county put out. About prescription drug addiction. I perked right up. I love the topic of addiction. Not love it, as in, I like addiction. But it is something I'm passionate about. There was such a good message in this video: addiction is a disease. Treat addicts with compassion and support. Reach out to them. Take prescriptions carefully. Throw out the ones you're finished with so that you don't tempt others (including your kids) into abuse.

And it was interesting. As soon as I was willing to listen, the Spirit flooded into my heart and gave me the message He was probably waiting to give me all week. One of the commenters, an adolescent addiction specialist, talked about why children have addictions. She said that kids are under a lot of stress once they start school. They worry a whole lot. They worry about flunking out. They worry and worry and worry about their grades (or they decide not to worry, because it's too much for them). They worry about "fitting in" to a particular group.

It evoked memories I had forgotten, of my own childhood, my own school experiences. I was so stressed about school. I was. All the time. I got so scared, I screwed up. I would accidentally forget stuff. I would second guess my test answers. I didn't do very well. I realize, looking back, that this was why... I had a pathological fear of failure.

I also thought about my own peer situation. I was not the kind of girl that bends to peer pressure. The group of kids I went to school with were into drugs, or cheerleaders. So I had a group of two other friends. Everyone made fun of me for whatever reason they could find. I had one boy tell me once that I was a "dog" and he'd never date me. (I didn't invite the refusal.)

Is this the way a kid, with the moxy and the wherewithal to resist peer pressure, should be made to feel about her social abilities, about herself?

A resounding no.

I suddenly realized that I am homeschooling because I think that my kids deserve for me to be their teachers, they deserve for me to nurture their learning in a kind, loving, individual-centered way, and not the cold, dry system of testing and textbook regurgitation that we currently have.

Until my kids have the emotional maturity to handle the stress of the world, unfiltered and unsoftened by my influence, I'm not sending them out there alone to sink or swim. I plan on sending them out there before they leave home, yes. They need to have the skills to survive before they're away from my guidance and influence.

But six years old is not the age for that. Seven isn't. Eight isn't. Thirteen isn't, either. This I felt, powerfully, as I sat in that classroom. I'm so grateful that my husband feels passionately about homeschooling, and got me to look into it, to try it, because now that I am open to it and really understand why I'm doing it, I realize that I wouldn't be happy any other way.

Still, I could use your prayers for the next little while (if only for my children's' sake... a sane mom is a much nicer mom.)

Thanks for listening.

Mormon Beard Theology

A very deep topic, being discussed over on consciousignorance.

Aug 29, 2008

Blogging with friends


SO I just went and commented on a bunch of old friends' blogs, and realized that if they log onto this page the first thing they'll see is "Dodge Uterus." So I'm quickly posting something else.

Here's a nice picture. Of the kids.


That's right. I'm a normal, stay-at-home, not flamboyant at all mom of three. Right?

Aug 15, 2008

Baaack!

from vacay. Here is a grool picture for your enjoyment: Nosurf family in a Northwest rainforest. (No, I did not go surfing on this vacation... I have stuck to my principles.)

Breaking Dawn: the Good, the Bad, and the Downright Funny

I just finished breaking dawn. I wasn't planning on checking it out or buying it anytime soon, or anything; I lucked out. I was over at my friend's house, and she asked me if I had read it yet, I said no, and she rushed and got her copy to loan me. I couldn't very well turn down such a generous offer, now could I? And I must admit I was curious to see how the whole thing would turn out. You know, if Stephenie Meyer would go ahead and Turn Bella.

I'm not going to give it away. (Ok, yes I am, but only out of necessity of this review. So if you haven't finished it, go finish it before you read the rest of this post.)

My opinion of the Twilight series is a somewhat conflicted one. I wouldn't even bother with it; it's not really my type of novel, except the author is LDS, and I admit I've always had a penchant for vampire stories. Anyway, my conflicted feelings about this novel are strangely strong. Here they are. I'm following Dave's method of review... I find it makes things more clear in my head. So here's the good, the bad and the downright funny, of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series.

Good:

Fun premise.

1) She creates a unique and interesting supernatural world, with history, social norms and customs, cultures of various groups and lifestyle choices. Somehow, despite the sheer outlandishness of it all, she makes it believable.

2) The danger inherent in each plot is delicious. I gobble it up. I tend to be uncommitted to these novels, a little bored, until the suspense starts and then I can't put them down until I finish. I consider that a sign of good writing (the not putting it down thing, not the bored thing.)

3) With her sensuality, she doesn't do the Mormon-author thing: hint, or awkwardly write around it, without ever fully going to bat. IMO, it's better to just come out and describe something you're trying to describe, otherwise you render it more, let's see, what's the word...

see what I mean? It becomes kind of GROSS when you talk around it or blushingly hint at it. She doesn't do that, for better or worse.


OK, now the bad.

Edward, Bella, the misogynistic overtones, The "helpless love" phenomenon, pandering, and some improbable shifts.

1) The obvious problem is that Edward is too perfect. The author tried to give him a weakness (Bella) but it is quite obvious that in the mind of any reader, Edward being vulnerable to Bella is far from a bad thing. In my own personal opinion, the thing to dislike (loathe, really) about Edward his self-flagellation, meaning, he is always mooning over how bad he is for Bella and how he needs to stay out of her life but he just can't , he needs her. Also his self-righteousness. He's always teasingly teaching her stuff or correcting her clumsy mistakes or simply tossing her over his shoulder and taking her places she does not want to go... which leads me to my next point.

2) Bella is insipid and weak in this story. I am sorry. There is nothing to like about her! The only point of sympathy for me is the fact that she's so pushed around by everyone, but my sympathy fades fast as she seems to actually like being shoved out of harm's way, spied on every night by her protective boyfriend (see a possible scary real-life parallel, girls?),teased about her driving skills, outshone in her chemistry class, and be treated all the time as if everyone else knows better what is good for her. (Though I admit, on this last point she fights back from time to time... thank goodness, or I don't think I could finish any of these stories.) The frustrating thing for me is, Jake's character is empowering, rather than demeaning to Bella as Edward's is. Jake teaches Bella how to ride a Motorcycle, at Bella's request. Bella's relationship with him is much more on even footing. I feel like Bella is shadowed, under some cloud, in all her scenes with Edward, and standing in the sun with the light on her face in the scenes with Jake. She shoulda ended up with Jake, in my humble opinion. It would have brought about a much better message.

3) The helpless love! Holy cow. These books are riddled with examples of "love-at-first-sight," head over heels, relentless passion, not a moment of real annoyance or anger (I mean, she makes a half-hearted attempt in the whole Bella-wants-sex-Edward-Doesn't think, but it never really comes to hard feelings.) The vampires find their "one and only" mate, and in Edward's case it's Bella: she intoxicates him with her beautiful scent (pheromones are going to determine my eternal happiness?) and he can barely restrain himself from ripping her throat open and drinking all her blood (see another disturbing parallel, girls?) And then there's the werewolves and imprinting. They can't help it... it just happens. No freedom of choice.

Love is not like that. I find it disturbing that young girls are reading this series and perhaps forming some unrealistic (and damaging) expectations.

4) Pandering:
These books are romances. Remember my post a while back, on the difference between chick-lit and a harlequin?

this book is a well-written harlequin, in my opinion. I mean, Mrs. Meyers never gets to the point where she's describing in detail enough that I have to put it down, but she dwells on the physical, on the sexual, on the sensual. In just the way a woman would appreciate: a relationship with the "perfect" man, who is overprotective, good looking beyond belief, and unfailingly emotionally intimate. Those scenes in Bella's bedroom where Edward just lies there and holds her softly? Holy cow. Watch out, husbands. Your wives might just develop an appetite for that sort of thing... oh wait. It's already the product of every normal woman's deepest fantasies. Tremblingly intense sexual tension, tenderness, emotional commitment, but none of the man's side of it... the automatic reactions, the desires that, once aroused, are hard to slow down, hard to deny. All you husbands also know what I am talking about. This book gives women exactly what they want... and it paints an unrealistic (possibly also damaging) picture of possibilities for a young woman as well. IN reality, things are a lot messier than that. You can have it, but it takes looooots of practice, lots of familiarity, and dang it all don't ever let any male in bed with you, girls, until you are thoroughly married! Thank you.

5) improbable shifts (plot spoiler warning). This whole series describes in detail how Bella should not become a vampire because she'll have to leave family and friends, for a long time at least, because of the nature of newborn vampires (uncontrollably thirsty, driven only to drink human blood) and the very real need for secrecy, to protect those who aren't vampires from the volturi (who will kill anyone who is not a vampire to keep the vampire secret). Bella turns, and isn't uncontrollably thirsty. She can still associate with Charlie by slyly hinting and he naturally just doesn't "want to know". Improbable. Also, Edward did NOT want Bella to become a vampire, he said all along he'd miss her scent, her human fragility, her warm skin... she turns, and it appears he is more passionate about her than ever before. He doesn't bat an eyelash. It appears he wanted her to be a vampire all along, because, according to Bella, "It's so much better" that way. What? I mean, What???

This leads me directly into my third category:

The downright funny.

Bella's honeymoon, strange plot twists, and the name that rhymes with sesame.

1) OK. I'll try to get through this. SO the honeymoon was unlike all of Mrs. Meyers previous "Sex" scenes in that it is suddenly removed from the moment. We don't read about Bella and Edward having sex. I guess this is a good thing, but it's also jarring for me... it becomes much more harlequin-y when curtains start to be drawn over scenes and we read about Bella "blushing" all the time rather than reading about what really happens. But that's OK. No, no... please, Stephenie. I'm OK with it... don't go into anymore detail.

2) So, Edward is so out of control on the honeymoon he chews through some pillows and scratches up a wooden headboard. Ha! Hahahaha!! Sorry. It's so disturbing, I should not be laughing. And the fact that Bella has bruises all over her body the next morning, too (OK, girls... another VERY disturbing parallel.) But dang it... it's just so funny, when you read it, and think about it... I'm sorry.

3) So Bella gets pregnant that first night, and because her baby is a half-vampire she is has the baby in her for only about a month before it is delivered... this seems all-to convenient for the author for me. But OK. But it's such a strange part of the book... Bella suddenly starts wasting away, Edward is angry, angry, angry at her because she wants to keep the baby (another disturbing paralell) bella almost dies and then wait! She has to drink blood, and then everything is all better again... except Bella dies when the baby is born and has to be turned into a vampire. Wha??? And then Bella is suddenly a vampire and the whole world is glorious and all we read about is her stunning new speed and grace and beauty and her and Edward's undying passion for a hundred pages. It completely throws one for a loop, mentally.

4) She names her baby Renesseme. usually with unusual names I can get it through my head and be OK with it... never, in this case. I have just one thing for Mrs. Meyers: you realize that you have created the ultimate in "Utah" baby names? How do you think this looks to the rest of the world (said with a wry chuckle?)


Well, in the end I guess I'm not saying don't read the book. There are those few good things about it. Ultimately, i guess I"m saying don't take the book too seriously. Please. For fun, it's no harm. But make sure that you can make fun of it, too. Because if a person were to really take all that this book teaches, all it contains to heart, I would be seriously worried. So I'm hoping that anyone who reads it just does it for entertainment, and can possibly laugh with me too.

Jul 25, 2008

Further artistic endeavors by Jaws

So, grandma and uncle and aunt are here with us today.(uncle and aunt, being my younger brother and my sister who is 13 years old). As I previously blogged about, Jaws has an intense fascination with make-up right now. And so of course Grandma was besieged when she started putting on her face the other day. Grandma, being the wonderful grandma she is, went ahead and did Jaws face, too, whilst she watched carefully in the mirror, and then Loli's, who of course could not be left out of the action.

The other day I noticed I hadn't heard any piercing shrieks or demanding assertions for a long while and so I went off to find Jaws. This is what I found:



Jaws had of course gotten into Grandma's makeup, and as you can see, she tried to carefully re-do everything she had learned from watching Grandma in the mirror. She did a pretty good job for a two-year-old, don't you think?

As you can see from the picture, she was sad when I found her, because she knew that soon the makeup would be coming off. So as a consolation prize, I took a picture of her, let her look at it, and then let her take a bunch of pictures with our digital camera. (another obsession of late).

Here are a few select frames from that shoot:





Jaws most often has the lens turned on herself during her creative photographic endeavors. Like some others I could mention (John, Caitlin, Emily. Lol, you guys know I love you.) Anyway, she managed to turn it the other way for the last one... and caught her aunt at an unguarded moment. Sometimes I think we should just hand cameras out to all the kids in the world. Kids are so much less threatening with a camera. And so people don't try to ham it up and look good... they are just their honest selves. Observe the skeptical, "I'm bored, and I'm barely tolerating you but I'll play along because I love you and you're my eternal niece" look on Kirsten's face.



(Kirsten, you know I love you.)