Saturday, July 31, 2010


This morning Derrick and Sylvia were reading a book on animals, which mostly consisted of Sylvia identifying the animals on the page. I was listening in and heard her identify the elephants and the zebra, and the "mommy." Which was actually an orangutan.

Yeah, Sylvia says her mommy is an orangutan.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Single ladies

I recently discovered I like Glee, the TV show, so I've been catching up on it through Hulu for about the last month.

Sylvia also likes Glee, though primarily for the music--if they aren't singing she's pretty bored with the show. So far her favorite song is Kurt's cover of "Single ladies" (by Beyonce), which we listened to about 10 times tonight, with Sylvia insisting "again!" after each rendition. Although she's not as hilarious as this cute kid who went viral a while ago, Sylvia's got her own moves, including mimicking the finger wagging and hand waving.

I only wish I had a camera so I could inflict a movie of yet another child dancing to that song on the world.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In 'n out

Derrick's had a craving for In 'n out for a while now, like since he started biking past one every day on the way home from work. We tried to go the other day but, because we didn't quite know how to get there and ended up on the freeway in the middle of rush hour, we went to Islands instead (which was still quite good, but not In 'n out). So today, after running errands, we went to In 'n out, where I got a burger, animal style fries (ostensibly for Sylvia, bu she wasn't interested. Unfortunately, neither was I. Animal style fries are gross), and a chocolate shake. Guess what Sylvia ate for lunch.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Well that worked well

Earlier this month, on the 4th of July in fact, a political email went out to a listserv I subscribe to. Shortly after I replied, the original email and my reply were taken down, which irritated me as I assumed (likely incorrectly) that my divergent, liberal viewpoint was the cause of the removal.

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who came to that conclusion, since another conservative political email just came through.

Throughout history America has seen many great leaders and noteworthy citizens change her course. It is through their personal virtues and by their example that we are able to live as a free people. On August 28, come celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage and our future.

Join the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Glenn Beck, Sarah
Palin and many more for this non-political event that pays tribute to America’s service personnel and other upstanding citizens who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.

Our freedom is possible only if we remain virtuous. Help us restore the values that founded this great nation. On August, 28th, come join us in our pledge to restore honor at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

I'd like to know what values are in need of restoration. Slavery? Disenfranchisement of anyone who isn't a white, male, land owner?

Man, am I whiny today or what?

I feel like my original conclusion (that the political discussion was the problem, rather than the expression of a political viewpoint) is the one that people reached from the quick take down of that earlier post. Obviously there are some people who think it's still appropriate to express political views, even after being asked not to. I'm sure it's just coincidence the person is a tea bagger.

I'm temped to send this quote from Frederick Douglass:

Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. ... You have no right to wear out and waste the hard-earned fame of your fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have "Abraham to our father," when they had long lost Abraham’s faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham’s great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great.
Frederick Douglass, 1852

But I just don't think she'd get it.

Precious bodily fluids

One day in Sixth grade the kid across from me puked. No warning, just vomit suddenly emerging from his mouth, orange and fragrant, smelling too much like the cheeze-puffs he'd ingested shortly before. Those of us fortunate enough to not loose our lunch spent the rest of the day in a room smelling like cheese vomit.

Amazingly to me, vomited cheeze-puffs smell quite a lot like vomited cheddar cheese, or so I discovered this morning. I gave Sylvia a piece of cheese, no bigger than she usually gets, and she shoved the whole thing in her mouth, gagged on it, swallowed it, and then vomited it up.

Oh, and did I mention our garbage disposal backed up last night, so I couldn't rinse it down the drain?

I got her to the toiled for the second round of retching, but didn't manage to aim her head and ended up with cheese vomit on my pj's. Something I didn't realize until I was eating my cheerios, wondering why it smelled like I was still stuck in that sixth grade classroom, across from the kid who puked.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I made it to my real ward today. I admit, I was a little apprehensive about going, simply because I'm always nervous about meeting new people. Really, it wasn't that bad. How could it be when the sacrament program read, "Excepting a calling can bring blessings into your life" across the bottom? If people have that much understanding of others' life situations (j/k). In spite of my rather reticent behavior, I had to extricate myself from the RS room after the final class because people kept introducing themselves to me and making sure I knew how to get to the ward BBQ this weekend and such. The teaching was excellent, the discussion uplifting (mostly--I was a little taken aback so many people had such ready justifications for spending money on temples instead of on poor people). My only complaint is that when talks ran long they cut out singing (which is what should be done, I just hate to miss out on singing!).

I packed Sylvia into the car, threw her the snacks she was scrambling for, and drove us home. By the time we got there, Sylvia was asleep, so I grabbed Derrick and we left for a work party at the home of one of his colleagues. Sylvia slept basically until we got there, at which point, because Derrick couldn't figure out how to work the gate and was to chicken to just walk in, Sylvia woke up. Half an hour is not enough time for a nap; consequently, Sylvia was a willful pain the rest of the afternoon. We couldn't get her to eat anything and then they opened up the hot tub.

It was a beautiful hot tub--tall cedar built like a huge wine barrel--perfect for soaking in the cool, freeway-bottomed canyon. Another little boy (several years older than Sylvia) pretty much played in the hot tub all afternoon while his parents talked with other adults. I wanted so badly to be able to do the same, but since Sylvia's not even 2, I had to stay with her and keep her from tumbling into the tepid water and drowning. So, I talked to like four people who took pity on me (although one of them is a PhD student who is apparently using some of the data I helped collect about 10 years ago on a transit cruise from Chile to Tasmania--very cool!) and let my daughter splash me the rest of the time. Such fun.

All afternoon I could hear interesting conversations going on all around, but I couldn't join in because I had to watch Sylvia. Most of the people who talked to me were the older people, mostly parents or grandparents. The younger people for the most part left me alone, or made perfunctory conversation that ended quickly. I kind of understand--I'm socially awkward, and I suspect many of the people in attendance are similarly awkward, but usually at some point the barrier breaks down enough that I don't feel like a complete outsider. At some point I can take part in a larger conversation, however briefly. I feel like having Sylvia around puts up an extra barrier to breaking into the group. Having to watch her like a hawk because there's a large tub of water certainly didn't help, but I wonder if I would have found a way to feel included even if that hadn't been there, or if my choice to have a child puts me in such a different category of person that I just won't find a place in this community of scientists.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

six years

In celebration of our sixth anniversary, I decided to bake a cake. Not just any cake, I though it would be cool to make what we had for our wedding (sort of, at least). But, since I object to paying $2 for a cake mix I decided to make the cake from scratch. That decision probably wouldn't have been so bad had I, first, decided to use crisco (yes, the same stuff I used in the cake batter and so had already pulled out once) to grease the pan, and second, decided to stay in the kitchen while it was cooking. Sadly, I chose to grease the pan with Pam, and then walked Derrick out to the garage, where he proceeded to pump up his tires and adjust the height of his bike seat while I watched, all the while thinking my cake would take 30 to 35 minutes to bake. Yeah. Turns out our oven is 25 degrees hot and a 9 inch cake only takes about 25 minutes to cook anyway.

Two of the three cakes came out more or less intact, but the third was unsalvageable, so I let Sylvia have her way with those cakes.

For my second attempt I used this recipe from the smitten kitchen, which worked much, much better, not least because it was intended to be a three layer cake. Oh, except I forgot to add vanilla--a small detail I remembered about 3 minutes after putting the cakes in the oven. Oops.

While the cake cooked and then cooled I sliced and cooked strawberries (really, I just warmed them. They were still pretty much raw), and then blended the hot berries into a scrumptious puree that eventually separated the layers of my cake. My kitchen, though hot, smelled divine.

Derrick called to let me know he was coming home at about 5, so I threw together the swiss buttercream from smitten kitchen. I wanted to get pictures of the frosting as I made it, but while futzing with the settings, the frosting turned from gloppy soup into something that looked more like mayonnaise (as promised), but tasted oh so much better! That stuff is my new favorite icing. It tastes like fresh sweet cream, but spreads like a dream. I also followed the instructions to freeze the cakes and put on a crumb coat before frosting it and I have to say, those are some great steps to add. That really was the easiest cake I've ever put together.

Sylvia had to make do with watermelon, since we waited until she was asleep to cut my concoction.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

book group flashbacks

Today was apparently the day for me to find myself directed to content relevant to past book group meetings. First, a friend directed me to this podcast on Guns, Germs, and Steel, in which reasons why the Book of Mormon can't be literal are discussed. When we discussed the book in our book group I tried to avoid bringing religion in (not wanting to destroy any body's faith that day--or today, for that matter), and though religion came up anyway, we didn't veer into questions of the veracity of the BOM, sticking instead to the literalness of the Adam and Eve story.

This evening I came across this article on creativity that notes,

In middle childhood, kids sometimes create paracosms—fantasies of entire alternative worlds. Kids revisit their paracosms repeatedly, sometimes for months, and even create languages spoken there. This type of play peaks at age 9 or 10, and it’s a very strong sign of future creativity.

In our discussion of Peter pan I admitted to having an imaginary world I played in until I was probably 10 or so (I don't remember exactly when I stopped pretending the mouse paths in the bushes were the roads of a fairy town). Somehow it's comforting to know I'm not totally weird for having an intense imaginary life for as long as I did.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


So, I finally went to church today. It was a nice enough meeting (though Sylvia was on one during sacrament meeting, so I'm afraid I didn't get much out of it), and the people there were very kind, even to the point of trying to convince me to move in and join the choir when it was revealed I don't belong to that ward.

Because as it turns out, I don't belong to any of the first three wards that show up on the LDS ward search (though the first two were pretty obvious--I don't speak either Hmong or Spanish). Instead, I am assigned to the ward that meets in the fourth meeting house listed--the furthest away from where I live. Since I've now learned this lesson, I'll share it with you: when you search for a meeting house, look at the first "assigned congregation," which is listed second, after the list of the closest meeting houses and their associated wards.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Political discussion

It's said that political discussions should be avoided in polite company. Women, being polite company, were thus excluded from political debate. I, being an impolite woman, am actually rather fond of political debate--as long as it is conducted in a civil, respectful manner. For that reason, I try to be civil in my discussion of politics (not that I don't get emotional, I just try to keep it in check and basically avoid telling people they're dumb for a given belief. Keeps friendships more intact).

Which is why I'm perplexed. Remember this discussion? If not, in brief it's a discussion that was started on a listserv to which I subscribe when someone sent out a story about gay people attacking an LDS temple and I responded with my own, not so pro prop 8 thoughts. Shortly after I responded, that discussion was taken down from the listserv. Given how emotional some of the responses were (and some emails I received privately) I could see why that discussion was taken down, especially since the listserv was supposedly not exclusively for LDS women and therefore faith-based discussions were supposed to be avoided. I was still a little annoyed, given how many other faithful, LDS-centric posts get through the review of the moderator, but it seemed reasonable and I was new enough to the group to think I'd missed out on a rule.

This independence day I found the following posted on the listserv:

Hi Ladies,
A badly misnamed campaign finance bill, the Disclose Act, is currently under consideration in the Senate. The bill is toted to make corporate-donated campaign money more transparent but in reality it can be dangerously used to limit or even silence opposing voices. According to the American Family Association website (from which much of the following is taken), among the many special exemptions in the bill (which are very dangerous in and of themselves), there is a special exemption carved out in the bill for unions, the Sierra Club and the AARP, so the rules won't apply to them. Here’s the danger: the bill will go into effect just 30 days after it is signed by President Obama, just in time to silence all pro-family, pro-life and other conservative groups before the fall elections. The bill has already been pushed through the House, and will get pushed through the Senate in the next few days unless we intervene. To make sure it can't be challenged in court prior to November, the bill expressly prohibits expedited judicial review. This prevents a level playing field this fall; they want one tilted steeply in their favor. When the Founders gave us the First Amendment, they prohibited Congress from making any law “abridging the freedom of speech,” by which they certainly meant freedom of political speech. They knew that a representative republic can only thrive if it protects vigorous public debate during elections. These heaven-inspired principles of liberty are under attack, and we have an opportunity to raise our voices in support of them, if you see this as I do. The bill can be defeated in the Senate if our senators hear it loud and clear from their constituents. What a great way to celebrate the 4th of July and commemorate those wonderful Founding Fathers who sacrificed everything they had and held dear to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and to their posterity. An easy way to contact your senators and to learn more about the bill is to visit the American Family Association website at
and at the top of the page there is a link to enter your zip code and it’ll show you how to email your senators.

Thank you for your consideration and concern on these issues, especially as we remember the Lord’s hand in the founding of America.

God Bless America.


(name removed)

to which I replied:

According to this,

the bill hasn't made it out of committee yet. Also, the ACLU hasn't taken a stance--pro or negative--against the bill. A bunch of corporations and conservative groups have taken a stance against the bill and a very few groups are for it (unsurprising--I suspect that's the case most of the time since it's easier to get people worked up against something than for something).

according to my reading of the summary, this bill would only prohibit contributions from government contractors, recipients of TARP money, and foreign-controlled corporations. Everybody else just has to declare their spending and declare over a larger window of time (which they already have to do anyway). This sounds like an effort to track-- not even really limit, just track--campaign contributions. I'm not sure why I should consider those restrictions bad or any infringement on political speech. Didn't the supreme court just rule signatures on petitions have to be disclosed? If my signature, and the speech that denotes, has to be a matter of public record, why shouldn't spending be the same?

I thought my reply was, while direct, not particularly inflammatory, or even especially political. Yet less than 20 minutes after I posted, both posts were taken down, with a reminder to keep political discussion off the listserv.

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I feel like the only reason this discussion warranted a removal was that a liberal (me) responded. Plenty of other political notices are posted, including announcements for tea party gatherings. Nobody bats an eyelash until a democrat appears, at which point all evidence of the offending conversation must be removed with a stern reminder to keep discussions non-political.

It's crap.

Discussions are going to delve into politics simply because we're human beings with beliefs and many of those beliefs have political implications. Discussions that involve those beliefs are going to elicit emotions sometimes, even strong ones, but I would claim that's a good thing, not something to be shut down. As long as the discussion remains civil there's the opportunity to challenge beliefs, be they our own or those of another, with the end result being a strengthening of beliefs that are reasonable and based on a good foundation and erosion of less tenable beliefs (or so one would hope). Thus it irks me that only complimentary discussion (and by that I mean conforming to the majority viewpoint) seems allowable. Sure, it's a private listserv primarily for community service-type announcements, but when someone brings up something false, why should any of us be expected to sit on our digits simply to avoid political discussion?


I complained to one of my friends about the removal of the post so soon after I replied to it. Turns out she complained about the post to the moderator of the group, so I'm guessing the removal had more to do with that. Makes me feel much better about the situation.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bye bye, french fry

I'm finishing laundry and packing and collecting all the stuff we've left scattered about my mom's house, all while my daughter spends a few more minutes with her grandma and cousins outside. My daughter knows her grandma (gamma) and aunt (sa) better (especially since I spent yesterday in bed, sick), and her cousins (the kids). She's learned any number of amusing sayings and songs from her aunt and grandma--things like the peanut butter song; the eensy weensy spider; saying, "see you later alligator;" and pointing at people and saying, "ha, ha!" She knows more animals (horses and cows are some of her new favorites; and fishes, which sounds more like feces when she says the word).

Sylvia starts every morning by listing the people and things that are important in her mind--almost like she's cycling through all her words, telling me who she's missed in her sleep. Many of the things that were prominent in Indiana and San Diego have receded in their importance (like the cat and the neighbor's dogs), while new ones have taken their place (kids, Chewy, and Shasta, among others). Almost every morning Sylvia asks for daddy. I'm glad that shortly she'll be able to see her daddy when she asks.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A different perspective

I wasn't shooting solo Thursday, which was kind of a fun experience! Here are some of my partner's shots. I think we made a pretty good team!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nearing 10,000

Pictures taken with my camera, that is. My cousin's sister in law got married today at the Oquirrh Mt. Temple and I was the photographer (supposed to be back-up, but I'm a shutterbug, so I became primary by default). I'd put up pictures now, but I'm exhausted. Pictures at the temple started at about 1:30 (and I got there about an hour before--not that I needed to) and went an hour, and then I hung out at a coffee shop (working on my real job) until it was time to leave for the reception at 6:30, and I was there taking pictures until the light was gone about two hours later.

The only bad thing about today was that, yet again, I feel like a negligent mother. First, I got up before Sylvia and took a shower without her. I really enjoyed it, until I got out of the shower and found Sylvia, sitting on the bed stark naked, yelling, "poop!" Fortunately, her mess was pretty easy to clean up--all I had to do was a bunch of laundry. Then, I abandoned her all day for the second day in a row (not that it's really abandonment when she's in the care of someone responsible and caring, but still). Finally, she got some sort of bug bite or sticker that she's reacting to, and since I was at the reception I didn't take my phone with me so my Mom couldn't get hold of me. Fortunately, Sylvia's okay, but I should have kept my phone with me--I knew she had a bite and was reacting to it, but I assumed she was okay and didn't worry about it. Definitely a bad mom day. Though fortunately, my kid still loves me.