Elusive Senetti

Do you know what is awesome?  Potting some new plants for autumn and discovering  the label for a plant that you had loved but forgotten the name of.  (“Senetti!  YES!  Now I know what to buy!”)

Do you know what is not awesome?  Discovering that the plant is only propagated through cuttings, is patented, and that the patentholder does a poor job of advertising where said plant can be purchased. 

Alas, such is the case with Senetti (pericallis).  I bought it at first sight at Costco this past spring.  I had never heard of it before.  It was purely a case of visual attraction.  I love jewel colors and I love vivid color.  If you love vivid color, especially in purples and blues, you won’t be able to resist Senetti.  Senetti didn’t fit well with my waterwise gardening intentions, but I used it in the containers in the well-watered oasis area near the door. Week after week, it was covered with the most eye-catching blue flowers.  They glowed.  Then summer’s heat came and that meant the end of Senetti.  (If I say “Senetti” enough times I will never forget the name again–I hope.) 

Now that I’ve finally figured out what it was called, I want to buy this elusive Senetti and plant it again.  But I can’t find a source!  Ideas, anyone?

My lawn and political speech

My yard is finally making its first foray into the world of political speech!  Although our location is ideal for signs, we’ve lived here almost five years and have never displayed a sign until now.  I was desperate to post a sign during the voucher debate, but alas, Pdad was not on my side

Anyway, hooray for political speech!  Hooray for the democratic process!  Hooray for finally taking a stand!  Yea Pfamily!

I’ve heard several supporters of Linnea Barney say that the best argument in favor of Linnea Barney is Margaret Dayton (the incumbent state senator she is trying to beat).  But I think the argument for Barney can be stated more positively: Barney 1) is a passionate voice for education and 2) she believes that a moderate thoughtfulness should rule the statehouse.  3) She opposes message bills.  Those are pretty much the qualities I am looking for in a state senator–how about you?  Barney has both energy and experience: a potent mix!  So in sum, if you can, vote for her!  If not, research your local elections and think about what you can do to be involved.

Stained glass at the library

Yesterday we went to the library to see a movie for Family Home Evening.  Unfortunately, like me, Duncan is easily frightened.  _Ponyo_ frightened him to pieces, so the two of us soon found ourselves in the children’s books.  I had never been there at sunset before.  It was amazing. I wish I had a better ability to capture what I saw.

Good Use of Time?

My treasures

My treasures

Two weeks ago, we had a big regional church meeting for hundreds of the LDS congregations in our area. The president of the Church’s women’s organization was one of the people who spoke. Her remarks about mothers and computers caught my attention.  Sister Beck expressed the hope that mothers would benefit from having computers as tools in their homes, but worried about those who might neglect more important things (children, for example) for the less important things that can steal one’s time on the internet.

Shortly before hearing her talk, I had posted a lengthy review of Mimi’s Cafe, which, while pleasant enough, isn’t close to being my favorite or my highest local recommendation. I love to write reviews, but it seems obvious that the reviews I write are not that important or valuable–to me or anyone else.  I simply enjoy writing them.  This has caused me to think in the days since her talk about the worth of blogging, my blogging particularly. I don’t have it all figured out yet.

Things I know:
1) Keeping a journal is good, and blogging is often a form of journal keeping.

I have never managed to keep a journal for any extended period, although I think it is a good thing to do. Although I have not been the world’s most consistent blogger (and worse recently), I have managed to record lots of things about my life with my blog. The thought that someone might read motivates me and then I end up with a much better record than I would have if I weren’t posting it.

2) Blogging is fun!

3) Blogging (and other forms of social media) can be a good thing to do, a good use of time. Sister Beck’s talk made me wonder whether in blogging (and in writing restaurant reviews on Urbanspoon) I am wasting my time on something that isn’t very valuable (and is sometimes a complete waste of time).  However, I was initially motivated to blog by Elder Eyring’s talk on keeping a gratitude journal and by Elder Ballard’s talk on sharing the gospel. Although I lost sight of the gratitude theme of this blog over time–probably because grateful optimism doesn’t come naturally to me–that is exactly why a gratitude-centered blog is helpful to me–because it doesn’t come naturally.  And so if I re-remind myself periodically that my intent is to write about my life with a positive gloss (not a whiny or negative one), this can really be helpful. When I write about my glass as half full rather than half empty, it becomes true. Writing it down helps me to conceptualize it that way.

I have enjoyed reading other’s blogs–I think of my cousins’ wives who I would not have known as well, and of others who have inspired me, helped me to count my own blessings, made me laugh (we’re all on this motherhood ship together) or just offered useful tips.  Motherhood is isolating and some of us are more clueless than others.  I need useful tips!     

4) Sister Beck is right.  The internet can be a big time-sink.  There are a lot of valuable things I could do with my time; it is far too easy to let the internet eat it all up.  

Big questions left over: I’m still thinking about all this.  These thoughts push  me in the direction of writing more about my kids (though with an 11 turning 12 year old this is increasingly problematic), more about gratitude and important things, and less on restaurant and product reviews.  Unfortunately, I really like writing product reviews.  Suppose we designate writing product reviews my hobby  (I don’t scrapbook,  waterski, ride horses, play Bunko, watch television, or cross-stitch).  Hobbies are defensible, aren’t they?  Are they?  How much leisure time can we spend on doing things that really aren’t valuable or important, but just fun?


After a couple of bad previous experiences at Mimi’s Cafe (University Parkway, Orem), I had rated Mimi’s on Urbanspoon as “I don’t like it.”  But I have a sister who is in love with their bacon macaroni dish and when our brother came to town he asked to try the place out. 

I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised.  We had good service and we were all pleased with our food. The out of towners enjoyed the decor.   The prices were reasonable–right around ten dollars.  The big hit of the night was the chicken pot pie which had everyone raving.  It was a thing of beauty!  The Breakfast Ciabatta got a big thumbs up as well, and I enjoyed the turkey dinner (although prepare yourself for some salty stuffing!)  The mashed potatoes were fantastic–creamy and so flavorful.  My sister had the Cordon Bleu and she said that while it was good, she would go back to her other favorites on the menu in the future. 

The entree portions were well-sized–I took half of my turkey dinner home and still felt like I had eaten too much.  However, another in our party said that he expected a larger portion of french fries based on previous visits.  I think the truth is that Mimi’s is inconsistent.  Some of the food is really good, some is not, often you can good service, other times you don’t.    

When I have liked Mimi’s in the past, it always started with their bread.  They know how to do bread!  Remember that if you visit at lunch and would like bread, you must ask for it, they won’t offer.  The bread is really, really good so don’t forget to ask.  We were disappointed that  the amount of bread brought was very stingy for the number of people in our party–barely one piece each.  We had to break the favorite bread–carrot raisin–into pieces so that everyone could get a little taste.  I hope they are offering more bread at dinner, because the carrot raisin bread is really the highlight of Mimi’s for me, but not if I only get one bite! 

All in all, I was pleased to find that Mimi’s was a place I thought I could visit again–especially if I stick to the tried and true on the menu.

Mimi's Cafe on Urbanspoon

What I Saw at Costco this Evening

I would desperately like to include a photograph.  However, even though I have been snap-happy recently, and even though the woman was extremely nonchalant, I thought she might not feel as nonchalant if I started strobing her with the flash. 

Background: Most would consider me a pretty hardcore breastfeeding advocate.  [Of course, it isn't my business to tell other people what to do, and I think it is best not to question why another woman chooses not to breastfeed.  Breastfeeding can be difficult and it is more difficult for some than for others.  Also, there may be factors at play that one can't know about.]  I nursed all three of my children until they were between 18 months and two years of age.  None of them ever had any formula, and none of them had any solid food before they were six months old.  Also, because I never got the knack of pumping, I was never without them for the first six months of their lives.  Does this qualify me as hardcore? 

What I saw: As I approached the checkout line at Costco, I found myself behind a woman pushing a full cart of groceries with one arm, nursing a newborn under a blanket cradled in her other arm, and with her head kinked at an angle, talking on her cellphone at the same time!  It was time for her to put her groceries on the belt, and the clerk was tentatively smiling  with perhaps a slight sense of “what should I do now?”

I deliberated for a second about whether I should start moving her groceries to the belt before getting her permission (she was not paying attention to the grocery situation enough for me to gesture).  Her purse was right there and well– I’m just wimpy–fear of people being angry with me and all.  Then she got off the phone.  So I asked if I could help, and she said yes, expressing her gratitude.  It wasn’t hard to help of course and it actually sped things up for me, since I was behind her in line.  As I left, I saw her still cradling the baby in one arm under the blanket, and with the other, pushing the heavy cart slowly out of the store.     

What is good about this: It is great that any woman in our culture could possibly be so nonchalant about this natural and important practice.  I always wanted to feel free to breastfeed anywhere, and felt I should feel free to breastfeed anywhere, but even though people were nice to me, I never made it all the way to comfort with breastfeeding whenever and wherever I went.  Although I did breastfeed in public many times, I also spent a lot of time nursing in more private spots because it was more comfortable although less convenient.  Breastfeeding is good for babies.  Anything our culture can do to help women feel more comfortable about breastfeeding, anything that makes it more convenient, is good for babies.  So yea for nonchalance! 

What is bad about this: Where was this woman’s support network?  Husband?  Friends?  Coworkers?  Religious community?  Kind neighbor?  The woman mentioned that she couldn’t leave the baby behind and therefore couldn’t get a sitter.  But could someone else not have done the shopping or gone with her?  Call me, I’ll go. 

Some unsolicited advice:

1. If you are breastfeeding as you approach the checkout, this is not a good time to make or receive telephone calls.  If the call is that important, it is not a good time to be approaching the checkout. 

2. You might find that you finish your errand more quickly if you find some place to sit down (not many at Costco I know–but how about a comfy couch or office chair, if all else fails?  It isn’t more public than the check out line) and finish nursing before resuming your shopping and/or checking out.   

3.  If it is possible for you to hire a sitter, but you can’t/won’t because you can’t/won’t leave your baby alone, consider hiring the “sitter” to be a grocery cart “pusher” instead.  An 11 year old could do that if necessary.  I have one.  I’ll rent her out cheap! 

4. Ask for help.  If you don’t have any support network to speak of, ask strangers for help.  You need it and the planet is depending on you!  In general, people are happy to be helpful to people with newborns.   

Lastly: Hugs to all the new moms who don’t have strong support networks and are going through all that new and crazy, wonderful and scary, tough stuff for the first time and don’t know what they’re doing yet.  A lot of us have been there, and we’re pulling for you.

The Problem with Not Writing

is that it leads to more not-writing, and pretty soon the post of the century is required in order to start posting again. 

Just to lower your expectations: Although this is long, this is not the post of the century. 

I have had a hectic summer.  I continue to be amazed at how people who have many children do all the things that must be done.  I can’t figure it out.  Taking care of three children seems like an all-consuming task to me most days. 

Brief description of summer 2010:

Noorda Theatre Camp for kids–driving to Utah Valley University  every day in June.  I found a new, better route for getting there.  I am always astonished when this happens.  It seems that I tend to pick very slow ways of getting places and then after driving that route for two or three years, suddenly: duh!  There is a much better way of getting there!

Anyway, although there is room for improvement, I would strongly recommend the Noorda Theatre Camp–lots of classes to choose from and some good opportunities.  I took a Mommy & Me dance class with Kate from Mary Linda Thomas.  What a master teacher!  She was a treat.  Amelia played Miss Fern in _Super Student and the Case of the Water Pistol_ and her acting abilities seemed to expand considerably.   I enjoyed seeing her portray an adult.  We discovered that her hair looks beautiful in a bun and (with great difficulty) she learned to walk and even skip! in high heels.   

Duncan went to an art camp sponsored by UVU continuing ed and that also was an outstanding opportunity.  This camp was a little more art-centered than play-centered than the SCERA art camp he has attended in the past.  Both are good for a child like Duncan–I wouldn’t hesitate to send him to either of them again, but they have different strengths.  

Another thing Duncan did this summer was the whole daily study ritual with mom (me).  He begged for a summer bridge enrichment book at the beginning of the summer, but when I soon came to realize that he couldn’t write his numbers properly, the fun summer bridge book went out the window, and we settled into drills, drills and more drills: practicing writing the numbers every day.  How can you do math if you can’t write your numbers properly?

I am a failure as a summer homeschooler.  I regret it, but I am just not a fun mom.  I am not a fun teacher either.  I make learning feel like work.  I don’t know what to do about that.  That doesn’t make for the funnest summer.  However, I will say that I was thrilled when I saw that one of the first things they did in Duncan’s first grade class was to write their numbers 1-50.  I am confident that he could not have done that at the beginning of the summer.  Also, I know that he reads much better now at the end of the summer than at the beginning.  I just wish I could figure out how to attain this progress while being the fun, nice mom, not the boring, strict, do-this-or-else Mom. 

July was the month of our big family vacation.  Since we had already indulged in a nice Disneyland vacation over spring break, we decided to stick closer to home on this one.  We became Salt Lake City tourists and bought 3 day  SLC Connect passes (what a great bargain!).  We rented a condo in Salt Lake City (another bargain, summer is the off-season!) and spent the week there.  If you are local (well, even if you aren’t), I recommend this.  We had an awesome time and did all the Salt Lake things we usually don’t do, even though we live close by.  As is the norm for Pmom-planned vacations, it was a little exhausting.  We went to the Beehive house, we ate at the Lion House pantry, we went to the Salt Lake City Library and the Natural History Museum, we saw a show at the Hansen planetarium, spent most of a day at Discovery Gateway, went to the Hogle Zoo and the Tracy Aviary, toured Temple Square, enjoyed half of a free concert at Abravanel Hall (only half thanks to Duncan and Kate)  attended the Farmer’s market, saw the Living Planet aquarium, rode the tram at Snowbird, ate at two outstanding gelato places, had mediocre Thai, Indian, and didn’t-live-up-to-the-hype belgian waffles.  We also watched Harry Potter Movies and “It’s Me or the Dog” (Duncan’s 5 star favorite) back at the condo.  Several evenings closed with bowling on the Wii (our kind sister-in-law lent it for the trip). 

We had also planned to stay in Park City, but learned the hard way that in Park City you must ask if your lodging of interest features air conditioning.  July was very hot and we wanted air conditioning.  It isn’t a featured amenity for skiiers, though, so you have to check; we didn’t.  Thankfully, we escaped from that situation and went home and slept in our wonderful beds with good air conditioning.  It felt like our trip had been cut short though, so we decided to do some last minute camping. 

May I offer some advice?  If you are the sort of wimpy family that can’t stay in Park City because of the lack of air conditioning, do not suppose that camping in Hope Campground during July will necessarily be an appropriate  alternative.   It is cheaper than paying to be hot in Park City, but you will still be hot.   Hope is very convenient because it is nearby and chances are won’t need a reservation.  But did you stop to consider why?  The problem is, Hope is nearby–it isn’t high up in the mountains.  This means that your camping nightmares of waking up as an icicle won’t come true, but if it hot in Orem it will be hot at Hope.  And while you may have air conditioning in Orem, you won’t have it at Hope.  Consider wisely–are you up for it?  Or are you up for wimpy camping where you watch movies in the air-conditioned dollar theater and eat in air-conditioned restaurants by day and simply sleep at the campground by night?  Can you handle the embarrassment?           

The first two weeks of August were painful, because Amelia went to her school district’s camp for a week, and then after only a day or two at home, she went to Girl Scout camp.  Being her mother, it is my job to worry about her ceaselessly, and let me tell you, I excel.  *Especially* when she is gone for two weeks.  It was painful.  However, she came back all in one piece, in pretty good spirits, knowing many more camp songs than before–so all’s well that ends well, I hope.  I won’t let consecutive camps happen again, though.  I learned my lesson.   

My brother was in Afghanistan for many months this year, so his wife and daughters came to visit us for a few days and then we met up with them again after his return to the States.  We had a big family reunion to celebrate his safe return, his brief presence in Utah, and his daughter’s baptism.  Wonderful.  The only bummer was, I put in a lot of work and worry on coordinating a whole family picture (since some of us are only in Utah every few years) and it didn’t turn out that well.  You get what you pay for, I guess, and besides, sometimes you just get unlucky.  Large group photos are notoriously tricky.  That doesn’t stop me from wishing for a good one, though.   

The week after the reunion we went camping with some of the cousins at Timpooneke.  Wow.  That is a great campground.  No wonder you need to make reservations in advance.  I would definitely camp there again.  The camp sites were spacious and well-equipped, the trees and other surroundings were beautiful.  I was well-pleased.  The kids had a great time playing with their long lost cousins.  Kate now asks me, on average once a day, “when can we go camping?”  She can’t seem to believe that the true answer is: “Next year, at the earliest!”