Friday, February 29, 2008

eh?

What Kind of Chocolate Are You?
Your Result: Milk Chocolate

Friendly and fun, you love to spend time with your loved ones. Your style is cute and colorful, and you love to follow the season's trends. Don't be afraid to speak up just because you have a different opinion! Everyone loves milk chocolate and everyone loves YOU! :)

Chocolate Hazelnut
Dark Chocolate
Chocolate-Covered Fruit
White Chocolate
What Kind of Chocolate Are You?
Quizzes for MySpace

So does this really sound like me? Not the me I know.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

black gold



Thank you to Cocoa at Chocolate on My Cranium!


I have made these cookies twice now. I liked how they turned out better the first time. Probably because I didn't have "help" making them then. (How much flour did you put in? Um. I don't know. 5 or 6 tablespoons. Maybe.)


Both times I used all bittersweet chocolate because that's my favorite. I never use a double boiler--always just the micro. The first time I melted all the chocolate and added it to the egg mixture, and the second time I reserved some chips to put in after as the recipe directs.


These are the best chocolate cookies I've ever had.
Black Gold Cookies
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces, divided
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.In a double boiler that is set over medium heat stir together 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, the unsweetened chocolate, and butter until completely melted and smooth. Set aside until needed.In a mixer bowl beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the flour mixture and remaining 4 ounces semisweet chocolate and mix on low until just incorporated.Place heaping tablespoons of dough on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool to room temperature on the baking sheets. YUM!

Monday, February 25, 2008

ay ay ay



No school today. A friend over (blonde, as you can see). Scissors.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

boy names

Before you start wondering, I am not having a baby nor am I planning on it any time soon. But my good friend is having a baby boy any day now. Yesterday I got to hang out with her and some other friends and we talked about names.

I love to talk about baby names. I didn't get to use some of my favorite baby names because J vetoed. Also, we had to choose names that were easy to pronounce in both English and Spanish. My children's names were definitely a compromise. (Some of you might not know that their web names--Georgie, Lidia, Marcus, and Bernie--are not their real names. And Bernie is a girl. :-))

Here are some of my favorite boy names. How about yours?

Alvaro (Germanic, meaning "noble guardian") I love this name. It sounds strong, yet romantic. I even like the nickname "Al."

Henry (Old German, "ruler of the home")

Enzo (Italian form of Henry)

Jaxon or Jackson (unknown origin, "son of Jack") I like the spelling with an "x," though I'm usually not into distictive spellings. Honest!

Nicolai (Greek, “victory of the people”) I love “Nico” for short, pronounced “Nee-co.”

Santiago (Spanish, "supplanter") I like the nickname "Santi."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

flicks

We saw "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" yesteday with the kids. I did not see it in the theater when it came out because the reviews were pretty bad. And with good reason, I now see. Bad. Very bad. I really liked the first two. They were completely over-the-top, but lots of fun. I'm not an action movie fan, but I loved the silly action sequences. This one was not fun or enjoyable in any way. And did it seem to anyone else that Jack Sparrow had less eyeliner in this one? Bring back the eyeliner.


I did see a movie recently that I loved: "Waitress." Keri Russel is wonderful in it and Adrienne Shelley, who wrote, directed, and starred, is phenomenal. (Shelley was killed in 2006 before the film was accepted to Sundance.) It reminded me a lot of "Juno," which also has both hilarious and poignant scenes. I appreciated that a lot of care was put into this movie. It was a labor of love, and that comes through in every scene.

Monday, February 18, 2008

bernie's dream

"Mom and Dad were at a boring grown-up party so the other kids and I went outside to play hide-and-seek. We hid in tubes."

"Tubes? What kind of tubes?"

"Tubes. Like what dead people go in."

"Do you mean tombs, Hon?"

"Yeah, I meant tombs. Then Frodo and Dad came looking for us. Frodo found Georgie first because she was hiding in his favorite dog food. He found her and then he ate up the dog food. Then they found Lidia who was hiding in Mom's favorite jewelry. Then they found Marcus who was hiding in the laundry chute. There were dirty clothes all over him. And then they finally found me. I was hiding in a mummy box."

"A sacrophagus?"

"Yeah."

"So these tombs were inside an Egyptian pyramid?"

"Yeah. And it was really scary because a mummy was in there with me in the mummy box. Then Dad found me and he took me out and gave me a kiss."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

ice fishing






For ten years now this guy in our stake has been putting on a wonderful ice fishing party. We've always been invited but this is the first year we've gone. (I didn't go--J took the kids.) There's ice fishing, ice golf and other games, and skating. It looks like some people snowboard behind a truck. They make brunch on camp stoves--eggs, pancakes, hashbrowns, and lots of hot chocolate. You have to eat fast or it freezes on your plate.
J didn't get a picture of it, but they put a line down the hole and attach a flag to it. The flag goes up if you catch something. No fish were caught, and it seems that ice fishing does not actually involve the catching of fish, or so J was told. It is really an excuse to get together and drink. The Minnesota women do not like the men to drink in the house, so they go out on the ice and do it under the pretext of ice fishing. Of course Minnesota Mormons had come up with their own family-friendly version. It's a time to get together and party outside in spite of Old Man Winter.

release

Just when I think I'm going to do some good in my calling, I get released! Yes, today I was released as activities co-chair and called as gospel doctrine teacher. I'm so excited!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

attack of the killer activity

Thank you all so much for telling me about your ward activities!! It was very helpful. I can see now that we really do have an extreme number of activities compared to other wards. I don't know how successful I'll be in reducing them, however. I already tried once and it didn't work. Maybe if this time I go in with Elder Oaks' words in both conference and the WW training about reducing activities, it will give my argument more oomph. One problem we find is that our ward activities frequently conflict with other auxiliary or Stake activities like YW/Scout camp or Enrichment meetings. Or if there is no direct conflict, they happen within days of each other. No wonder our family went to so few ward activities before I had this calling.

Last night I went to the Valentine's dance. I found out it wasn't a Stake activity, but lots of wards were invited. I agree with Dina--a ward activity is the last way I'd think of celebrating Valentine's Day. However, I found that this Valentine's dance was a success for the wards on that side of the stake. The band was pretty good and made up of ward members from that area. There was good energy and I could tell people were having fun. I did not have fun because I didn't know many people there, and I unfairly compare church dances here to the terrifically fun Church dances they have in Latin America, where people really know how to get down. I love it that dances in Mexico are for the whole family. I was also annoyed that our ward had to take 8 dozen fussy little cheescake or brownie things made in heart shapes, plus do all the clean up. We were there until 11 pm cleaning up. Want to know how many couples went from our ward (besides those of us who were forced to)? Two.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy valentine's

I am a huge fan of Athena Danoy's photography. Here is one of my favorites. This image and others are available to purchase as cards. Hmm. I might have posted this a few weeks ago when people would be more likely to buy Valentine's cards. Maybe I'll get smarter for the next holiday. What about some St. Pat's cards, Athena?

how many activities do you have?

Our ward has seventeen scheduled activities for 2008. I am going to prepare an argument in favor of reducing the number of activities, so I am doing an informal poll. Ave has said they have four ward activities per year and Montse said six. How about the rest of you? How many activities does your ward/congregation have per year?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

callings

I cleaned the kitchen and mopped the entry and laundry room floors. Then I gave Frodo a much-needed shampoo. I am sitting here soaking wet and reeking of dog but I really want to write this down before I make a Target run. I guess an afternoon of purging the house and scrubbing was not to be.

I've written about this before. "Callings" in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I just reread that post from one and a half years ago and I am amazed at how faithful I sound. I don't feel very faithful right now. In our church we are called to certain positions to do the Lord's work in our wards. It's very organized and practical and it gets the job done. It can also be a stretching experience to accept a calling for which you have very little aptitude, fulfill that calling by trusting in the Lord's help, and receive blessings through it. I do believe in this. I have accepted, nearly unquestioningly, every calling that's been extended to me. I have not always had the best attitude about my callings, but I've worked at them. I have put in effort, and I've nearly always felt that I have either been blessed myself or been able to help someone else through my calling.

I do not feel that about my present calling, to the extent that I can honestly say that I wish I had never accepted it. I don't remember ever feeling this before. For those of you who don't know, I am ward activities co-chair. That means that another member of our ward and I plan and coordinate activities for our ward. We have potlucks every month. We did a big Christmas party--you probably remember me kvetching about that. We have a Valentine's dance Friday that we have to help with. I am currently organizing dinner groups.

This calling has made me dislike ward activities even more than I did before, which I did not think possible. I do not like large groups. Or rather, I dislike groups of ward-activity size. I can enjoy enormous, anonymous celebrating on a large scale, and I love small groups like our book group. I have taken my children to some activities in the past because they love them. But I would rather do just about anything else. More important than my own likes or dislikes, this calling has made me doubt that the effort put into these activities is worth the gain, not just for me but for anyone. Many people thanked me for the work I did on the Christmas party, and I'm glad so many people enjoyed it. But to be perfectly honest, I still wish I had not done it. It was not worth the agony.

And not only have I started doubting the benefits of ward activities, I've started to take a hard look at other programs in the Church and wonder if they are necessarily worth it. I know that some are, of course. It's just that the experience of having this calling has made me question, doubt, and wonder if a way that I never would have expected.

Last night at book group someone mentioned that in Arizona they are trying a two-hour Sunday block. The "Sunday block" is three hours for most members (although I know they've done 2 hr blocks or less for small branches). It's a 1 hr 15 minutes sacrament meeting and the rest of the time divided between Sunday school and either Relief Society, priesthood meeting, Young Women, Young Men, or Primary. Has anyone heard about a 2-hr Sunday block in Arizona?

february

Possibly my least favorite month.

Here's Lidia making her delicious tomato basil sauce. Lidia is becoming such an able and independent young lady. She seems much older than ten in many ways.

Same with Georgie. She is wise beyond her almost-thirteen years. The other day I was reflecting that the math Lidia is doing now I didn't do until 7th grade and the math Georgie is doing I did in high school. And I was in the high math group. But I guess I wasn't thinking so much of academics when I said they are beyond their years. They seems much more capable and mature than I was as a child. I can see that I was capable in practical ways. I could feed calves and horses. But emotionally and socially I was far behind where I see my girls.
_________
This morning I sent a registration in to school for an after-school science program for Marcus to participate in. He was very excited about it. I just got a message that the class is full and I started crying. What's wrong with me? Why am I so upset about something so trivial? I have some other annoying little difficulties right now that I don't want to go into publicly, so possibly this was the straw that broke the camel's back. I'm going to spend a good part of the afternoon cleaning and throwing things out because it makes me feel better when I'm in this sort of mood. "No maudlin self-pite here," as I mercilessly purge my home of junk and scrub it down.

Monday, February 11, 2008

athens

I didn't go to Athens but J did. He got back from his long trip about a week ago and we were all very happy to have him home. Acropolis. Cranes are transporting crates filled with museum pieces from the old museum to a new one.




Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Parthenon
Erechtheum




Saturday, February 09, 2008

thanks, larry king

Bill Maher was on Larry King Live recently and described his view of Mormons as "shapeshifters." It's pretty funny. But then Maher goes on to speak somewhat disrespectfully (at least Larry thought so) of Gordon B. Hinckley. Watch Larry's response.

Friday, February 08, 2008

harry reid at byu and other thoughts

In the comments on the previous post, Ave referred to a speech Harry Reid gave at BYU. I found this article about the speech where I think Reid makes some good points, but can't find the entire text. Anyone got it?

Ave mentioned that she heard that Gordon B. Hinckley was a Democrat. I heard that Gordon B. Hinckly, Thomas Monson, and James Faust were all registered and active Democrats, but that could very well be (likely is) one of those Mormon urban legends that spread through the LDS membership like wildfire. When I heard it, I thought yeah, and did you know that the Three Nephites are also registered Democrats?

I had a nice, long response to Fauna's comment but blogger ate it. I thought it might be safer to answer in a post. Fauna says, "As a Catholic who's Church shares many of the same conservative social teachings as yours, I could not vote for a Democrat, unless they were a "Joe Lieberman" type of democrat who was on the more moderate side of these issues and supported the social teachings of my church. I would be interested to learn how this is different for members of the Mormon church?"

Thank you for posting your comment, Fauna. I know that you directed it at Ave, but I hope you don't mind if I jump in. :-) (For those of you who don't know Fauna, I want you to know that she is one of the people I most respect and admire. She has an unnatural amount of wisdom for such a youngster!) I might not be the best one to answer this because my views on abortion are maybe not as conservative as most Mormons. I think that abortion used as birth control is a sin. I don't think it is a sin if the mother is a victim of rape or incest or if her life is in jeopardy. I do not think that Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned and I don't know that I want it to be, at this point. I'm concerned about the repercussions of an abortion ban. I do see that everyone, those who support abortion rights in all cases, those who don't in all cases, and everyone in between, wants there to be fewer abortions. I think we should concentrate on that, and I know that some people in both parties are doing so. I don't think the ideological tug-of-war is helpful. I think people should agree to disagree and move on to working on common goals. I understand that Obama's views on abortion are very liberal and I disagree with him on that. But there is not one candidate that I agree with 100 percent.

I take an increasingly dim view of social conservatism in the Republican party. I think it is often cynically used to draw people into the party who normally wouldn't be there. I do share the concerns of social conservatives who lament the decline of our culture, but I don't believe that our culture can be saved through the Republican party. I think the powerful people of that party care more about protecting big business than they do about protecting the unborn or the traditional family.

Fauna, do you know many Catholics who vote Democrat? I would think there are a fair number.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

charisma

I love it that we can discuss as volatile a topic as politics on this blog without getting argumentative. I can see that people are being frank but amiable in their comments. I love it. You are all so civilized. Thank you.

Lots of people have been dismissive of the importance of charisma and personality in a presidential candidate. I do understand where the distrust of such qualities comes from. We have had charismatic leaders in the past who have proved to be unrepentant liars. Such leaders concealed their lack of character behind an engaging personality. We've been burned. Do we want a repeat of this? Heavens, no.

A candidate who has nothing to offer but charisma is not a good choice for our president. However, I think that personal qualities such as charisma and a good sense of humor are icing on the cake if we can get them in someone already qualified in other ways. Personally, I want to like our president. Is that wrong? I would also like people of other countries to like our president, not so that s/he can win Miss or Mr. World, but because I believe that it could help our country in a myriad of ways.

I also don't think it is unreasonable to want a president who can string a couple of sentences together in a way that is clear, concise, logical, or even inspiring. Rhetoric can be enormously powerful. Of course, it is not all-important. Theodore Roosevelt said, "Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If was are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big."

time magazine editor

She wrote, “The first time I ever heard about Mormons was in fifth grade, sitting in a basement classroom of my Baptist church, watching a filmstrip about cults. Our Sunday school class was covering a special month-long unit on false religions; in the mail-order curriculum, Mormonism came somewhere between devil worshippers and Jim Jones.
“Although most of the particulars are lost to me now, one of the images remains in my mind: a cartoon of human figures floating in outer space (an apparent reference to the Mormon doctrine of "eternal progression") that appeared on the screen next to our pull-down map of Israel. Even at age 10, the take-away message was clear. Mormons were not like us, they were not Christian.”
She said that Evangelical opinions about Mormons have not changed since those days 20 years ago and noted that in 2004 Mormons were excluded from participation in the National Day of Prayer organized by Shirley Dobson, wife of the well-known Focus on the Family leader, James Dobson.


Read more about religious bias and Mitt Romney from Scot Proctor at Meridian Magazine.

Here's something else to think about:
Harvard law professor Noah Feldman at that same conference said that if the liberal press had said that Romney’s religion was irrelevant, it would largely have been considered irrelevant.

What do you think? On CNN I heard ad nauseum about Mitt Romney's "Mormon problem." Do you think the press in large part magnified this problem?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

awesome minnesota

Hillary Clinton 56,346
Barack Obama 119,242

I am so proud of my state!

I stayed up to watch Obama's speech. This guy is really growing on me. Could we actually see some changes for good in this country with Obama as president? Maybe yes, maybe no. I'm not voting for him as the "candidate for change." I'm voting for him because 1) I don't know if he can really change policies, but I do think Obama can help unite a divided America. 2) He appears classy, thoughtful, well-spoken, and reasonable. I think he would represent our country well abroad. 3) The issues he's talking about--health care, education, and green energy among others--resonate with me. I look forward to a president who will focus on these issues. 4) I am alienated from the Republican party. I want a Democrat, and I don't want it to be Hillary.

Interesting that Romney killed McCain here. And McCain even had Governor Pawlenty's endorsement.

An interesting comment made by a Republican strategist on CNN (yes, I turned it back on): "We pray every night that we'll be running against Hillary."

Obama seems so obviously the better choice between those two, I am continually amazed at Clinton's pull. According to exit polls in California, almost no Democrat earning more than 50,000 per year voted for Clinton, and almost no one earning less than 50,000 voted for Obama.

I hope Obama gets Edwards' endorsement.

i caucused

I did it! Yes, it was crazy to find parking, but once I was inside the school and found my precinct's classroom it was easy sneezy. I wrote down my name and address, they handed me a purple slip of paper, I scribbled my candidate's name, and I was out. It did seem a little elementary schoolish. I was expecting a ballot at least.

When I was driving home I heard on the radio that some people in my district had turned back and gone home after getting within two miles of the school because of deadlocked traffic. One lady said she'd tried three different routes to the high school but ultimately ended up going home without voting. What? It wasn't that bad. I heard also that many precincts had run out of ballots. Thus the little slips of paper.

I saw a bunch of friends from school, the neighborhood, and church. Yes, I saw other Mormons in the DFL precincts.

I just turned off CNN because I get so extremely sick of hearing them blather on about the black vote, the Latino vote, the women's vote, the evangelical vote. We're Americans, for crying out loud!

Who did I vote for? Obama.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

upright and exemplary mothers

Wednesday night was New Beginnings for the young women's group at church. This is a yearly program that teaches young women ages 12-17 and their parents about the Young Women goals and values. I have mentioned in past posts the wonderful leadership we have right now for the young women of our ward. They planned a unique, fun activity that had the young women manning (womaning?) a ship through a storm and comparing that to weathering life's storms. Georgie loved it. Part of the program included viewing a few minutes from the movie "Master and Commander."

After the activity we had some delicious refreshments and chatted. I talked with a few moms and the YW leaders about the movie, which I hadn't seen, and this led to the statement that "The Perfect Storm" might be more fun to watch if only for George Clooney. Who made this statement? I don't know. I really have no idea. Anyhow, it did lead to rather extensive discussion and analysis of the current crop of Hollywood leading men (and of course their British counterparts), as well as fine leading men of the past. Some of the young women joined in on our discussion and offered their opinions.

The YW president leaned toward me and said under her breath, "Here we are at New Beginnings discussing hot men."

"I know, it's scandalous," I said, taking a swig of fruit punch. And I don't know who had the poor taste to start such a thing.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

president hinckley


That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24)

Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. (Doctrine and Covenants 112:10)
These two scriptures from the Doctrine and Covenants (revelations to Joseph Smith) were mentioned during the funeral today as two of President Hinckley's favorite scriptures.
I'm so glad I got to see most of the funeral. I'll catch a rebroadcast to see the beginning. It was inspiring and humbling. I feel so grateful that I was able to have President Hinckley as the leader of the Church during my lifetime. This has been an incredible era, and while I am happy that President Hinckley is relieved of a 97-year-old body and reunited with his wife, I can't help but wonder, what's next?
God uses flawed mortals to do His work. He does not force the human mind. I know that all of our prophets have been great, each in his own way, but it is not every day that someone of President Hinckley's capacity comes along. He was a man of great strength and intellect, and yet he was so humble. He was of all impossible things, a pragmatic idealist. He made things happen. He was unfailingly positive.
I hope we continue to prosper.

Friday, February 01, 2008

navel gazing

Disclaimer: Here I am, talking about myself.

Do you ever have flashes of insight into your character or temperment? You suddenly realize something about yourself that you have never noticed before and it makes you feel naked?

Last night I was thinking about me. How difficult it can be for me to see things in a decisive, clear-cut manner. Everything is fuzzed up. It is nearly impossible for me, for example, to come down decisively on political issues. I can always see both sides, depending on who I am talking to or what I am reading. I do not mean to say that I am easily swayed. I mean the opposite--I am not easily swayed in any particular direction. I sit firmly on the fence because I like my view from here. (I hope I am not a moral fence-sitter. I don't think so.) Whenever someone makes an argument one way, I am skeptical. And then my skepticism is confirmed when I hear arguments to the contrary.

This bothers me about myself, but not nearly as much as the following: I have difficulty feeling my own feelings. I can not rightfully say that I have never realized this, but I only discovered it a few months ago. Last night I had time to think more about it. I absorb other people's feelings to a degree that I am often unable to separate them from my own. I have had some evenings alone since J's been gone. I have filled up some of that time with media--books, computer, t.v. But some of the time I have unwound and discovered, voila! some of my own feelings. They do exist.

So my new discovery last night was that not only do I absorb other people's feelings and experience them instead of my own, but I also react to that experience. All of this works against me living my own life as myself.

This is a lot of blather and I can't even believe I am posting this. I suppose I hope that if I write it down, it will help me "fix" it somehow.

Someone told me once that I obviously had great discernment in knowing right from wrong, good from evil. I do sometimes feel that. At least, I try to actively pursue and embrace the good for myself and for my family, and likewise eschew evil. I also have very strong taste in what I like and what I don't like. No waffling there.

So why do I sometimes struggle to know what is true?