July 2007

Thank you Kathryn and readers, for these wonderful new additions to my lexicon. You’ve all heard that quote that says “profanity is a sign of a vacant mind,” and now, here are some alternatives that will surely prove your mind is anything but vacant. I like these, because they aren’t dumbed down versions of other curses, except for Derek’s #9, and which of you know the word that one resembles, let alone it’s meaning?

Please feel free to add to my list at will.

1. Marshmallow Peeps!

2. Precious Moments!

3. Fluffy puppies in a child’s luvin’ arms!

4. Creme-filled Twinkies!

5. Sugar Beets!

6. Son of a motherless Goat!

7. Corn dogs and Tater-tots!

8. from my own Calvin, “Mom, she drives me nuts, bananas, and ICE CREAM!”

9. Derek’s favorite Russian word, that sounds much like a real Russian swear, is “Blin!” It sounds like, “bleen!” and means, “pancake.”

10. And my personal favorite, to be used only in moments of extreme frustration, “Brigafriga!”


I found something way grosser than putting a pen in your mouth to find that it tastes like potato chips. I just poured myself a glass of water from our Britta pitcher, and it tasted funny. I couldn’t quite place it. I looked in the cup, and there were black floaties. I looked in the pitcher, more floaties. I asked who put dirt in the water. Nobody fessed up. I took the pitcher to the sink, poured out the water, and noted that the floaties weren’t floating, they were stuck to the bottom. I then realized where I knew that smell from. The aquarium I had as a teenager.

Algae? I think there was algae growing in my pitcher, which had been left out overnight. Ugh. I swear, I’ve cleaned the thing, but obviously not in the last couple of weeks. Ugh. I went and got the most acidic thing I could find, which was a can of root-beer. Ugh. Algae with a root-beer chaser. UGH!

After I was finished being grossed out, Zeeb asked for some salt on his mashed potatoes and gravy. This conversation ensued:

Z: Mom, if you eat playdoh, it tastes like salt.

Me: Who eats playdoh?

Z: The playdoh-eating-man eats playdoh. Star-man and Live-guy.

Me: Why does he eat playdoh?

Z: Cause he likes playdoh to eat.

C: He doesn’t eat salt chips cause he only eats salt and playdoh.

Very interesting.

No, I do not know where to find zucchini eggs. I don’t believe they lay eggs. This is just my favorite way to use up those millions of zucchini and tomatoes in the middle of summer. I love them both, so I try lots of different ways of preparing them. But I’m telling you, this one is just extra good stuff. Even my little boys kept begging for more. The chartreuse color of the eggs may be a little shocking. In fact, if you just look at the eggs without the rice, tomatoes and yogurt, it is not entirely appetizing, but assembled, it looks great. You can also skip the curry powder and the yogurt, and it would be good that way, too.

Curried Zucchini Eggs for 4

2 T olive or canola oil
1 or 2 T good curry powder
1 medium or 2 small (cigar sized) zucchini, grated
4 eggs, beaten
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
cooked brown rice
salt and pepper

In a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, heat 1 T of the oil on medium-high. Add the curry powder and stir around, then add the grated zucchini. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until the zucchini is soft, but not totally dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl or plate.

Return the pan to the stove and lower the temperature to medium. Add the other T oil, swirl to coat the pan, and add the beaten eggs. Scramble a little, until beginning to set, then quickly add the zucchini and scramble some more, until the eggs are done. Remove to the same plate as before.

To serve, make a mountain in this order: Rice, zucchini eggs, chopped tomatoes, a dallop of plain yogurt, salt and pepper to taste.

Another person told us the other day that Calvin is going to grow up to be a CEO by the time he is 18. He certainly has a few qualities that I don’t think I had when I was 5. He started with brainwashing, and has developed more skills as time goes by.

We were at a gas station, buying treats that I had promised. Calvin had a 6-pack of AirHeads, and I had a bag of Circus Peanuts. He began while we were still waiting at the register for the cashier to notice us. “Mom, I’ll give you one of my AirHeads for one of your peanuts.” Then, a few seconds later, “Mom, actually, I’ll give you one of my AirHeads for 6 of your peanuts.”

The cashier looked at him, and said, “Good bargaining!”

Today, he asked me for a chocolate. I said he could have one, and like we practiced, said “OK, thanks.” Then, “Can I have two?”

He really wanted a shower this morning, and Derek said he could have one later tonight, after mud box. That’s what happens when you get a sand box, a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a hose. Calvin said he didn’t want mud box. Five minutes later, he came in the house, naked and muddy, and said, “I’m ready for my shower now!”

What do I do?

You can now call him Dr. Derek. He has completed all the requirements for a doctorate in electrical engineering. He defended his dissertation yesterday, and passed without reservation. That means his committee felt his research was good, his conclusions based on the research were good, and that he presented it well. And they probably liked the muffins I baked for them. At least I hope they did.

So now, he just has to correct a few grammatical errors, get the department’s approval, and publish the dang thing. Then he will officially graduate in December. Or maybe he will decide to do it in April, so he can get the robe and hood, and walk. He’s never walked before. All I remember about walking is that I was really, really hot, and it took a really, really long time sitting there under the heat lamps. Like fries, waiting for the dinner rush.

Derek told me he doesn’t think he’ll go to work on Monday.

So ever since yesterday’s post, I’ve been singing “love is not love” to the tune of Brother James’s Air. I just tried to find a recording of it to link to, but I had no luck. Or maybe I’m just retarded. Anyway, I feel relieved that I’m not the only one who gets scared about moving far away. We won’t be anywhere near the grandparents (all 5 are within 75 minutes of us now), but I do have some relatives in Indiana, about 2 1/2 hours away. We already have a date for Thanksgiving. Or an appointment, I should say, since most of us are aware that Thanksgiving is already scheduled for this year. But we do have a place to go for some good tofurky.

And my other best friend lives 5 hours away, in Tennessee. I say my other one, because I haven’t really talked about her, but I can’t live without her. She’s not the one I grew up with, or the cousin, but the one I met in the Philippines. When we met, we instantly had one of those eternal friendships that casual observers don’t understand. I guess most people thought we were constantly fighting, but we were really having animated discussions on philosophical questions. And by animated, I mean there were raised voices. Sheila and I have had this same relationship in the 10 years we’ve known each other, but it’s usually higher decibel while we’re living under the same roof. Sheila always forgives me. (I should add that my real and most bestest friend is the one I live with now, but he’s a boy, and we all know the difference.)

Here’s the poll of the day.

Which one would you choose, if you were moving across the country and didn’t want to buy a house without getting to know the area pretty well?

1. A more expensive apartment ($1050 per month) with more room (4 bedrooms and 1500 sq ft) that has a washer and dryer, that’s just across the street from a major water-park and only 5 minutes from Trader Joe’s, but 2 miles from the elementary school, and only has 12 month leasing options, or

2. A smaller (1100 sq ft, 3 bedroom), cheaper apartment ($700-$800) that has washer/dryer hookups, that’s 5 minutes closer to work, 1 mile from the school, and has 3, 6, and 9 month leasing options, which would be handy, should we get lucky and find that perfect house to buy.

Bigger means no storage unit, and a possible room for the study/music room. Can you believe I just said that? I need to know what to do with my baby grand piano, which I love. And we have bazillions of books. I’m addicted to books. And how stupid is it to rent a place without having seen it?

I trust my faithful blogging friends, since you all have experience in this field. Not to do any shameless name-dropping, but Daring Young Mom called me yesterday and offered her services in finding climate-controlled storage for my piano. I should name the piano. It would be simpler if I could say, “Storage for Henrietta,” or, “What kind of restraints do I need, to move Henrietta?” Then again, what if Child Protective Services came calling? And the name-dropping thing reminds me of a story a lady told in church on Sunday, about one of her former students who stood to inherit a million dollars on her eighteenth birthday. Yes, you guessed it, the student in question was truly Paris, the Heiress. Maybe I’ll name the piano Paris. My piano wants to be famous, too.

*Update: My mom says she would pay the $1000 just to have the washer in the apartment. And the extra space is a big bonus. 

Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken…

As the day nears, I’m getting more and more terrified of moving. I haven’t found a place for us to live, yet, and it seems like I spend hours every day on the internet searching. We have our flights and the truck is rented, but we don’t have anywhere to call our destination yet. Do we just arrive there and hope we can find something? I’m not even positive I know which area I would like to live in. I don’t know anything about the schools, and Calvin will start Kindergarten this year.

We also need to buy a new vehicle, since our one little Honda Civic is not very comfortable with two car seats and one squished 5-year-old between them. And with Derek having to drive to work, I don’t really want to be stranded every day until he gets home.

In the past, I’ve been known to develop certain ailments relative to the stress level of my activities. On my mission, I had stomach pain that never let up. Once, while preparing an educational evening with the women from church, I got something that looked slightly like a boil, though I really don’t think it was big enough to be a real one. I get rashes, joint pain, shakes, and depression, to name a few.

So I’m almost to the point where I will have to withdraw from society, just to avoid having to talk to anyone.

In three weeks, we will move across the country. Between now and then, I have to find a place to live, decide if we should take all of our furniture, and if not, which pieces we should take, pack everything up, which includes tossing a lot of junk, keep my three monsters out of the boxes and my hair, figure out what to do with my piano, drive to Colorado and back in the lovely Honda Civic, book a rental car for when we get to Cincinnati, since even if Derek were already there with the car, we wouldn’t fit with my mom and the luggage, clean the entire house, hire a carpet cleaner and possibly a piano mover, and not go insane.

I’m not even going to try to not cry, since I think it really does make me feel better.

*Update: So far, I’m not having any luck keeping Calvin and Zeeb out of the boxes.

I tagged Derek and he thought that was cheating. Too bad. I made him do it any way. This is how he spent his time waiting for our delayed flight out of Oakland yesterday.

1. I love ice cream. And not just a little bit. When I was growing up, my brother and I would spend a few weeks every summer with my grandparents. My grandpa used to tell everyone, “There are small bowls of ice cream, large bowls, and Derek-size bowls.” Needless to say, things haven’t changed and a half gallon of ice cream really disappears fast in our house.

2. I can fix those cheap electronics toys that your kids love to get and then destroy. Unfortunately, mechanical toys (especially things with springs) give me trouble. Luckily I married Sarah 🙂

3. I’ve learned that for a sufficiently loose definition of “best” I can be the best at anything. For example, when Carrie proposed a contest for determining who the best husband is, I decided that if the definition of best was a combination of skill on Street Fighter 2 and number of papers published in the cooperative control area, that I should be the best in the world. You’d have to agree, it’s just as arbitrary as skill in an obstacle course.

4. I’ve always looked younger than I am. When I was serving a mission in Russia (age 19-21) people thought I was 16. Since attendance at BYU requires men to be clean shaven, I’ve never had the chance to look older by growing a wild beard.

5. My nightly routine involves reading stories and singing songs to my two boys. Sometimes they ask me to make up stories and songs and things get really crazy: I’ve created songs about bunk beds, Spiderman, ceilings, toys, dragons, fishing, and fans.

6. I once volunteered to take notes for a deaf student in an upper division psychology class and learned a bunch of interesting things about how the brain works.

7. The first time I tried sushi was with Sarah for my 22nd birthday. Now for every special occasion, getting sushi is near the top of the list of things to do.

8. As a teenager, I spent a few summers roofing with my uncle. It really made me want to go to college.

9. Growing up, I was very interested in space and the solar system and was determined to become an astronaut. Turns out that they don’t let just anybody become an astronaut and they definitely don’t let you if you are color blind.

10. Once, on a trip to LA, I learned that I wear the same size shoe as Tom Cruise. I used to use this fact as the “interesting fact” that you tell everyone along with your name in class. I have since realized that Tom Cruise is a weirdo and I shouldn’t try to associate myself with him.

Ten facts randomly chosen out of my brain. About myself. Thanks to the Lovely Helen, a woman of strong moral character whom I would love to meet someday.

1. I hate to be cold. I detest having cold hands and/or cold feet. My feet are cold all the time. I can’t stand it.

2. I love singing duets with my mom, but I also hate it. My mom is a vocal teacher, so I’m too self conscious, but I grew up singing duets and rounds with her and my brothers. I think I could be a professional singer if I took lessons and practiced. I think I could be as good as my mom, who, ironically, is nearly deaf.

3. I hate overeating. It makes me hurt, and it makes me feel immoral, but I do it all the time.

4. I speak fluent Tagalog.

5. I don’t think I can ever have a pet. I hate the smells, the hair/skin/slime; I would forget to feed anything that didn’t beg; I don’t like to touch animals that are mammals; they’re just too much work.

6. These are the pets my family has had: a couple of baby iguanas that died, Lightfoot and Quickfoot, an iguana that lived a long time and eventually had only about 5 toes total and a short stubby tail (you’ve heard that iguanas grow their tail back, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t always happen), Carlos, a Columbian Boa Constrictor, Jorge, a rat who died of cancer, Bubba, a mouse, Chicken Tonight (he was actually dinner for Jorge, but he was cute, so I kept him for a while), a bunch of tropical fish, a couple of goldfish, Jareth and Petunia. I can’t think of any others. Oh, yeah. My dad caught a rattlesnake once and kept it for a week or so. It wouldn’t eat, so he let it go.

7. I never leave the house without Burt’s Bees lip balm. Sometimes I have 3 or 4 on me.

8. I make really, really good bread. Sometimes I make pretty bad bread. I love to read about bread. I love to go to bakeries and look at bread. I like bread to be pretty. Derek thinks I’m obsessed with bread. I like bread. I like to smell it, and eat it. While I was pregnant, the smell of baking bread made me throw up. I made no bread while I was pregnant. Calvin likes to help me make bread, and sometimes he eats the raw dough. I think that’s yucky.

9. I’ve never had a perm.

10. I can pick things up with my toes. I can write with my toes. I cannot play the piano with my toes, although they are long enough that they look like I should be able to.

I’m tagging Liz (to give her incentive to write her first post), CW, Sketchy, Derek (yes, my Derek), and anyone else that wants some tagging action.

*randimity is a word my friends and I made up in high school, at the same time that we decided that the plural of cathedral was catharsis.

OK, I’m long overdue for the Genesis question to be explained. And since tomorrow is the holiday, and Derek and I are going to San Francisco for my cousin’s wedding this weekend, now is my chance.

So, first, what is the main theme of the book of Genesis? My cousin Liz took an IQ test, wherein she was asked this question. She was troubled by it, so she called me and asked how I would answer it. Liz is no Bible dummy, she teaches The Bible as Literature, as well as other English classes, at a high school. And she goes to Sunday School, and reads the Bible on her own time. I’m no teacher, nor a Bible scholar, but I’ve read the thing at least a few times.

But apparently Liz and I had more trouble with the question than most of you did. First of all, I thought it odd that it was even part of this IQ test, with the inherent assumption that the test-taker has read and/or is familiar with Judeo-Christian literature and themes. I wasn’t sure how that relates to a person’s intelligence, since intelligence is a measure of a person’s ability to learn and adapt, and, as NungNung said, “Those things are nowhere near culturally, socially, or economically neutral, so people from certain backgrounds tend to be “smart,” and those less privileged, less fortunate, or less Christian are often left behind.” But apparently there is a “crystallized intelligence” section of the test, which is more about things learned previously, than adaptability.

Sheila’s short answer was “separation.” Adam and Eve were separated from God, and expected to deal with it. Cain and Abel, Noah and his people, the people of Babel, the physical example of the covenant of circumcision, Lot and his city, Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob, Esau and the birthright, Jacob, Rachel and Leah, Joseph being sold to the Egyptians, and in the end of Genesis, the people of the covenant as slaves in another land, waiting to return to the promised land, all had to work through some sort of separation. Also see Azúcar’s answer, which elaborates the separation theme.

Liz’s short answer was “punishments and rewards.” Each of the above examples shows a clear consequence for some action; being cast out of the garden for eating the fruit, being banished for murder, civilization being destroyed for wickedness. This also fits right in with the separation theme, since the punishment for most of the wrong-doing is separation of some sort; separation from the presence of God, from a society, from a loved one.

Initially, I was going to say “the beginning,” but, . So my answer was “good versus evil.” Adam and Eve were given the option of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and having chosen to eat it, blessed the rest of humanity with the choice to act on that knowledge. In each of the above examples, there was a good side and an evil side, so it was about taking sides.

The “correct” answer was “The beginning of the world.” Short, simple, and not hard to justify. Or is it? My first thought, upon being asked the question, was to say, “The beginning.” But then I though about it and decided, like Liz and others who responded, that it was too simplistic, since the creation account only takes up the first two chapters, and with the continuing saga of the children of God, there is much more to it than just the creation. The guy who administered the test told Liz that she was over-intellectualizing her answer. They really only wanted a simple answer.

Yet, I can only think that a better wording of the question, if they were looking for “beginning” as an answer, would have been, “What is the first thing you think of when you think about the book of Genesis.” Since a “theme” is “an implicit or recurrent idea: a motif” (American Heritage Dictionary), I think “the beginning” is an element of the book, but not so much a recurrent idea. Then again, I must also be over-intellectualizing it. I guess each of the above examples of separation could be looked at as new beginnings, a few of them more strikingly so than others, namely, the creation of the world, Adam and Eve, Noah, the tower of Babel, and the Abrahamic covenant.

So are you mad at me? I wasn’t trying to trap anyone into giving an answer only to tell you why I thought your answer was wrong, I just wanted to know what other intelligent people thought. Obviously, some people did choose “the beginning” as their answer. But each of the other answers, in my humble genius IQ opinion, was also a “right” answer. Human life after the fall, obedience, love, separation, good versus evil, punishments and rewards, God’s relationship with his people, all these are recurrent themes in the book of Genesis.

I just don’t think this question was appropriate for an IQ test. I welcome disagreement in any form.