Thursday, May 28, 2009

Final Bake Night - till Autumn!

Sweet potato cake. Not bad!

It's getting too hot to bake in the evenings, now, but I may be tempted to make a cherry pie or a blueberry pie or a mixed berry pie before the summer is popular demand.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review

The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton.

I was so excited to see this new book by Morton, whose House at Riverton I received as a gift and found riveting.

Morton's style is just what I like - complex without being convoluted, multi-generational without being overly sentimental, and just enough mystery to keep me entertained. Her characters are authentic and likeable, their surroundings give a view into their personalities.

In this latest book, she weaves several layers of stories into an engrossing tale of family, belonging, and heartbreak. Sprinkled throughout are original fairy tales that spin the stories and fates of the characters: Nell, the little girl who turns up on the docks in Australia in 1913, having travelled alone from England; Rose and Eliza, cousins bound by secrets in the first years of the new century; Cassandra, Nell's grand-daughter and receiver of her legacy in modern-day Australia and England; and the garden itself, which, reminiscent of Hodgson-Burnett's Secret Garden, is a character as enigmatic as any other.

I think I have a new favorite author.

(For more descriptions and reviews, see this page. )

Ding, Dong, The Witch is Dead

My "favorite student" (the one who has given me so much indigestion, lost sleep, and days of frustration) graduated on Saturday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hiking above Coloma

TH and I hiked the 3.6 mile, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park Loop, in Coloma. Gorgeous day. Perfect hike!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thoughts from an ex-president

(And some from a snarky citizen.)

From an article in the Roswell Daily Record.
"It was a humbling moment for the former commander in chief: President George W. Bush was walking former first dog Barney in his new Dallas neighborhood when it stopped in a neighbor's yard for relief. 'And there I was, former president of the United States of America, with a plastic bag on my hand,' he told a group of graduating high school students in New Mexico on Thursday."

It's nice to know there's some shit out there he's willing to take responsibility for...

" 'I no longer feel that great sense of responsibility that I had when I was in the Oval Office. And frankly, it's a liberating feeling,' he told seniors from Artesia High School. "

It's liberating for me, too, W.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm just sayin'.

I think the egg yolk is the best part. Somehow an egg-white omelette doesn't sound good at all.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Yoo hoo!

I'm still here. I'm just super busy the next couple of weeks as the semester winds down. I'll be back to regular posts soon!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts on being a (step) mom

When I found the man of my dreams, I had to laugh at how things had turned out for me. He wasn't at all what I or my family or my friends expected (being older, divorced, and father of two young girls). I was just finishing college, standing on the edge of an expansive but undefined future. Falling in love with him was a no-brainer. Becoming a step-mom was a conscious decision; there was no man without the daughters. Even so, I had no clue what I was getting into.

Over the years I've stumbled through what it means to be a step-mom, what it means to be wife #2, what it means to not have "my own" children, and how to explain it all to a culture which frankly, doesn't get it. And it's a tough road, because I don't really get it, either. It's simultaneously the hardest role, the most thankless relationship, the biggest opportunity to put aside my ego, and the most humbling experience of my life. Hmmm. Perhaps not so different from "real" mothers.

I still don't have any clear answers, except that it helped me to just be honest about it all as I lived each experience. It's hard to be the fifth wheel with your new husband and his kids. They had a history together, one that didn't include me, at a time when I didn't have one with him to rest on. I felt forced to love, or at least pretend to love, people I didn't even know but who were extremely important to my new husband; however, they had no such compunction to love me. Our girls lived out of state, so they were only able to visit once a year; they were different each year, so every visit was like starting over.

Every time their mother called to say how much she missed them, I ground my teeth. I was forbidden to confront her, for fear we wouldn't get a visit next time, for fear I'd look like a meanie in front of the girls, for fear it would upset the delicate balance of the visit. I had to be the resident wet-blanket, as my husband tried to make up for a year's absence with non-stop fun; I was the one to make sure towels got hung up, no one left their lotion on the living room couch, people folded their own laundry, and didn't spend all their money on candy. I took on the extra household chores that children inevitably bring to a home. I comforted my despondent husband every time they left, and he faced again the guilt and pain of a broken first marriage.

I cried a lot. I raged a lot. But I also laughed a lot and had a lot of fun. There was a lot of guilt, fear, jealousy, pride, excitement, and frustration - and that was the first year. We've been married almost 12 years now.

There's a great book (you knew this was coming, right??) called The Courage to be a Stepmom, by Sue Patton Thoele. She succinctly states the three biggest challenges in being a step-mom: 1) that you will be facing stereotypes, i.e. "the wicked stepmother", 2) that it is a relationship born of loss (the loss of the original family unit), and 3) the reality that you will never be their "real" mother. She pretty much nailed it. If you are a step-mom, or you know a step-mom, this would be a great Mother's Day gift. It's a big help to know you aren't alone, and to have words to describe your experience.

My step-daughters are grown now, and married. I'm even a step-grandmother, although I hope the babies will just call me Jenni, because I don't much feel like a traditional Grandma.

I still don't really know what I'm doing, but I keep showing up. It's worth it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"P" Words

Progress! Persistence! Perseverance!


I've always been a little proud of my ability to learn quickly. However, as I gain life experience, I realize that one of the problems with being smart in this way is that when faced with a challenge, I don't have a lot of practice in handling it. Add perfectionism to the mix and any challenge can seem impenetrable. How do I even begin? I was thinking yesterday that I've got some activities going right now that are not progressing, and it's frustrating me.

My running. I feel stuck in a rut. I've been trying to move past my latest interval (10-3-10), but can't quite seem to find the strength. The next step is to run for 25 minutes with no breaks, and that just seems really long and difficult. Is it a mental thing, or a physical thing? I can't tell.

My piano. I feel like I've lost track of the song, in all the notes. I'm trying so hard to play all the notes that there's no musicality. It hasn't clicked for me yet. In this area, I'm definitely psyching myself out. I'm thinking too hard.

Maybe I have to let go of wanting to improve, in order to improve. Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'm just sayin'.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think it's rude to answer your cell phone during a bridal shower. Even if you are the bride-to-be.