30 June 2008


One of Greg's aunts passed away last week, after a long struggle with brain cancer. She had cancer as long as I knew her, and I didn't know her very well, but she was always very kind and sweet and welcoming to me, which I especially appreciated in the early years of my relationship with Greg while I was trying to find my place as a new member of his family.

It is a sad loss, and we're sad that we can't be with Greg's family, but it wasn't until I read this post by Greg's sister Karen that the whole things began to resonate with me. I've been slipping again recently -- slipping into laziness, slipping into bad temper, slipping into pettiness and resentfulness and pessimism. And reading Karen's post just made me stop and think about how lucky I am, how very fortunate I am to have my good health and a wonderful family and very little difficulty with anything, in general, and even though Lynn passed away, we are better off for having had her in our lives in the first place.

Yesterday we went to the beach, despite the storm warnings. I sat in the sand at the edge of the water, next to James digging in the sand, watching Greg and Evan play in shallow water as dark clouds inched their way nearer and nearer to us. I let the water wash over my feet and legs and I let the slimy green algae sift through my fingers and for a moment, I was hit with a sense of wonder at how lovely life can be when you just let go of the little things for a while. Sometimes I think I make my life much harder than it needs to be, and it's hard to remember to just slow down and enjoy the moment.

So thank you, Karen, for a much-needed reminder and change of perspective.


25 June 2008


My first-born child finished kindergarten today. I can't really think of anything meaningful to say about it, just -- that kid is getting old, now. The time, it flies, even when you're not always having fun.


24 June 2008

midweek recipe

Tonight I made what Greg and I agreed to be the worst meal I've ever made. It was a "simple dal" -- lentils cooked with Indian-style spices, and it was simply disgusting. I don't know what went wrong -- the cardamom? the cloves? (both of which seemed suspicious to me when I added them to the pot) -- and I will never know, because I will never make this dish again. I've been obsessed with Mark Bittman lately (author of "How to Cook Everything" and "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian", among other things) because his recipes are generally quite good, but this? Unspeakably bad.

I'm not giving you that recipe. I'm willing to blame myself, and not Mark Bittman, for my culinary failure, but I'm not going to think about that dish ever again.

But last night, I made one of my best meals ever. It's one of the first things Greg and I ever cooked together, and remains one of our favorites. My sister and Greg and I invented it -- not that it's incredibly unique, not that no one's ever combined these particular things before, but it's one of the few things I can reliably make well without a recipe, and it's delicious. Incredibly delicious.

Lemon-Asparagus Pasta

This is not a real recipe, so I don't have precise amounts of things to tell you, but you will need:

olive oil
garlic, minced
Parmesan cheese
asparagus, chopped into chunks

Cook your pasta. Whatever style you like, though we usually use angel hair or something similar.

Heat some oil in a skillet. Since there's no real sauce for the pasta in this dish, I tend to go heavy on the oil, and sometimes add butter too, so I can drizzle it over the pasta at the end. If you don't like the flavor of your meals to come from delicious fat, use only a tablespoon or two.

Add the garlic (I do two cloves or so). Sometimes I also add some chopped onion, but not always. Let it cook for a minute or two.

Add the asparagus. Stir things around a little, and then cover your pan for a couple of minutes. You want your asparagus to be bright green, and easy to stick with a fork. This only takes a few minutes, so pay attention or you'll overcook it. I usually add the Parmesan at the same time as the asparagus -- just give it a good sprinkling of cheese and stir it around a bit.

Season it with some salt and pepper, however much you like. Dish out your pasta onto your plates, and top the pasta with the asparagus, and some oily fatty scrumptious drizzle, if you're so inclined. Give it a squeeze of fresh lemon. I discovered last night that it's also good to top it off with a little feta cheese.

And that's it. Serve it with a salad or some bread, or just enjoy it by itself. It's fast, easy, flexible, and now that asparagus is in season, it's the perfect time for it. Even the kids liked it -- James, who's been eating asparagus since he could chew it, inhaled his and asked for seconds; Evan, well, it's a good meal when Evan doesn't leave the table in tears. He actually ate all the pasta, even if he wouldn't touch the asparagus.

I only had one bunch of asparagus from the farmer's market, and three of us were so disappointed when it was gone that I'm planning to go back to the market on Thursday (the next time the market is held, or I'd go sooner) and buy more asparagus so we can have it again this weekend.



19 June 2008

homophobia starts early

James got off the bus today and told me that one of his classmates and classmate's 4th-grade brother were teasing him on the bus, saying that James likes boys and James wants to marry a boy. James didn't seem too upset about it -- he said he told them it wasn't true, told them not to say it, but I don't think he got very angry about it.

But I'm angry. I can't believe that that's something six-year-olds are teasing each other about. First of all, all this talk about marriage in general among kindergarteners is unsettling -- how quickly do kids need to grow up these days? I hear far too much for my liking about which of the kids in James' class are "getting married." Yet already, at such young ages, these children are acutely aware that boys liking boys is something to tease about, something to shame another child for.

If it starts this early, how bad will it get as they get older? I made sure to point out to James that even if it were true, even if he liked boys, there's nothing wrong with that, but how do my reassurances stack up next to the taunting of his peers?

It makes me incredibly sad, actually. It makes me grateful that I've never had to face teasing over something as wonderful as love. It makes me worry about what my kids might face should one of them be gay. It makes me worry about my small voice versus the roar of society in their ears. It makes me fear that my kids may one day end up teasing other kids this way.

You know, I was so overjoyed about the recent California ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. But then something like this comes along, elementary children being already caught up in the prevailing negative attitudes about gay people, and it makes me realize just how far we have to go before it will really, truly not matter who you love.


16 June 2008

and i don't even have gray hair yet

James: Mom, how old were you in 1804?
Me: I wasn't born yet.
James: You mean Brown's Berry Patch was around before you were born?
Me: Yes.
James: Wow!! That's really old!!


15 June 2008

father's day/weekend photos/weekend recipes

Happy Father's Day! We had a fun day today, celebrating Greg with one of his favorite things -- fresh strawberries. Today was the opening day of the season at the U-Pick farms around here, a couple of weeks earlier than usual thanks to some unusually warm spring weather, so we went out this afternoon and picked fourteen and a half pounds of strawberries.

And then we came home and ate 10 pounds of them. At least, that's what it felt like. But just look at these; I mean, could you really help yourself when faced with these perfect sun-warmed little berries?

You probably won't be surprised to learn that both kids were more interested in snacking than picking the strawberries:

And we managed to eat quite a few more once we got home, with a couple of strawberry dishes.

The first, which I neglected to take a photo of, was a spinach strawberry salad that we had with dinner. It's a really simple recipe, one I got from the mother of a friend of mine: spinach, sliced strawberries and crumbled feta cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It sounds weird, I know, but the combination of sweet, salty and tangy really works nicely. I used this vinaigrette recipe, and I added about a teaspoon of brown sugar and a little strawberry juice that had collected in the bottom of the bowl. I thought when I was making it that the garlic might be a mistake, but it turned out fine. I'm sure a store-bought dressing would be just as good.

And for dessert we had strawberry shortcake! Soooo goooood. I found this shortcake recipe, which is a bit more like a biscuit than cake, but still good. We split each shortcake open and topped the halves with a layer of strawberries. We forgot to sugar the strawberries ahead of time, so we decided to try sprinkling them with cinnamon sugar, which turned out to be a nice touch. Then we topped the strawberries with fresh whipped cream and mini chocolate chips, and most of us were able to refrain from licking our plates clean, but it was hard. That was a good dessert. This one I took a photo of:

Hope everyone had a happy weekend/Father's Day!


10 June 2008

a tiny misunderstanding

James came to the back door to complain about Evan splashing mud on him. I looked at James, already spattered with plenty of mud.

I said: "Ask him to stop, but if he does get more mud on you, it doesn't really matter, because you're already muddy."

James heard: "It doesn't matter how muddy you get! In fact, why don't you go ahead and cover yourself in mud, because I don't think you're muddy enough already. You can never be too muddy! ... And don't forget about your brother; make sure you coat him in mud too!"

Evan Batman was very sad about having to come inside and get into the bathtub:

By the way, I know he doesn't look terribly muddy in that photo, but bear in mind that most of the mud on his body had by that time dried to a much lighter color.

James had literally painted his legs with mud. This photo was taken after he'd already started washing off:

The bathtub was filled with muddy water:

I was too busy at the time to think about taking a similar photo of the laundry sink while I was rinsing out the boys' clothes. Let's not even talk about James' sandals, which were about five pounds heavier with all the caked-on mud.

You know, after six and a half years of mess, dirt, sand, mud, muck, and bodily fluids, you start to think you've seen it all, that they've exhausted their capacity to disgust you, but kids always find a way to surprise you.


05 June 2008

happy birthday, evan

Today feels like summer. The cottonwood trees are spreading their fluff all over the neighborhood, making it look as if it's snowing, and I wonder whether you will ever really see snow on your birthday. Maybe one day you'll travel to Australia or Chile or the Himalayas and celebrate a winter birthday.

One of your most prominent traits to develop over the last year is your sense of adventure. It's easy for me to picture you climbing mountains or crossing the outback when you get older, because those things aren't so very far from diving fearlessly off the side of the couch or charging off on your own in strange places.

Your independence and your will have continued to grow this year. Now more than ever you are doing things for yourself, and you are as insistent as always that you do things your way. You have a very un-toddler-like quality of being incredibly determined and single-minded, frustratingly so.

But that doesn't mean that you don't still need us. Because no matter how stubborn and determined and aggressive you can be, you are in equal measure affectionate and loving. One of my favorite times of the day is naptime, when we lay quietly together in my bed and you pet my hand and I get to watch you fall asleep. Every day.

One of the things I love best about you is how free you are with your emotions. You still scream, oh yes you do, about all kinds of things, but when you're not unhappy, you are very, very happy. You are the most generous child I've ever seen when it comes to spontaneous acts of affection -- unsolicited hugs and kisses and snuggles and I love yous. It melts me every time.

You've grown delightfully silly in your third year. In fact, it's hard for me to tell how much you really know, because counting and reciting the alphabet and rhyming are games where you like to send yourself into fits of giggles giving wrong answers. But just when I start to think I've got a backwards child who can't even count to five without mistakes, you count perfectly to twelve. You like to keep us on our toes, in all kinds of ways.

Your creativity is blossoming, guided by your brother, who you are very easily frustrated with and angered by, but without whom you're a little lost sometimes. You and your brother devise clever games in which your identities are always changing, in which the adventures never end. Your imagination has grown in leaps and bounds this year. It's incredible to watch.

Something that puzzles me about you is how easily you identify with the bad guys. Your favorite part of The Wizard of Oz was the flying monkeys, you've requested a Darth Vader cake for your birthday, and you're the villian as often as you're the hero in games with your brother. You like the bad guys because they are big and strong. I hope to help you learn over time that strength isn't always physical.

We play a game at meals, at almost every meal these days, in which I tell you and your brother to stop eating, because I don't want you to grow any bigger. This is the only trick that has ever worked more than once to convince you to eat more than a few bites of dinner. "Look, Mom!" you tease, "I'm growing!"

"No!" I say. "You two are growing too fast! Stop growing! I want you to be my babies a little longer!"

And you think I'm kidding.

I love you, darling boy. Happy birthday, today and for many years to come.


04 June 2008

jedis don't read books

Greg and I were talking about books recently, and I said that I hope our children will continue to be readers when they get older. Evan overheard me, and, as always, had to be contradictory.

Evan: I'm not going to be a reader when I grow up. I'm going to be Qui-gon Jin!

Me: But don't you think you'll still like to read books?

Evan: No! I will eat Pez and play with light-sabers.

I suppose I should at least be glad that he's starting to think about the future at such a young age.


02 June 2008


Things have been fine for the last week or so, but we've been very busy and I haven't really thought much about blogging. Once you take a break it's kind of hard to get back into it. What's there to say at the moment? We had a really fun weekend when Greg's brother John and his girlfriend Elizabeth came to visit. Other than that things have been ordinary, and time marches on with few changes. Only I'm not feeling sad about that anymore.

So. Summer is approaching; one of my babies is nearly three years old; my other baby is nearly finished with kindergarten; my boyfriend is nearly finished with his doctorate. And I am watching the progress of all three of them with pride and happiness.