Anti-Procrastination August
I read an article a few months ago, written by a woman who had been putting off several chores and items on her to-do list. Sick to death of not getting things done because she didn't have time or it was a pain or the errands were on different sides of town, she put aside a Saturday to do it all. She took her list, set aside an entire day, and vowed not to come home until it was done.

This spoke to me.

We all have those little things that add up to big things because they're constantly put off for later. I'm great at scheduling doctors appointments and going to meetings and cleaning the house and making meals three times a day and watering the plants and feeding the dog and doing the laundry and answering email and putting gas in the car and helping the kids with music lessons and 100 other things. So something has to fall by the wayside. And what falls by the wayside? Things that don't need to be done right away and therefore don't get done.

I can't set aside a Saturday to get all my items crossed off my list. First of all, my list is way too long. I can't get it done in one day. Second of all, the only time I get chill time with David is on Saturday, so I'm not giving that up for anything. But I can devote the month of August to finally tackle my procrastination list and get 'er done. (That is a phrase I never ever thought would come out of my mouth, let alone put on a public blog.)

Here's my list. NO JUDGING!

  • Apply for Zinabu's Certificate of Citizenship. For my ramblings on this, go here. And I said no judging.
  • Update our will and trust. 
  • Fix the broken window in our basement. Long story, but it's a double-paned window and only the inner pane is broken so it's been easy to put off.
  • Install some kind of filter on our computer to keep the porn away. We supervise computer use, but you never know what will creep in. Did I ever tell you about the time I was looking up a recipe and wound up at a "Girls, Girls, Girls" site? Yeah. A recipe, for Pete's sake. It grosses me out.
  • Finish organizing our digital photos on our computer. I started but have a bit more to do.
  • Create memory boxes of my kids' elementary school years. I have the piles. I just need to put them in something in a year-by-year format.
  • Craigslist the kid stuff we no longer need but could get some money from. Like our B.O.B jogging stroller and North Face sleeping bags. 
  • Go to the new IKEA that just opened. {OK, kidding.}
  • Update my address book. You know, all the torn out return address labels from holiday cards that are held together by a rubber band and stuck haphazardly in my desk. I need to clean that up.
There you have it. My "must do" list compiled in one spot and a list that I must get done by the end of August.  Feel free to join the challenge. I'll keep you updated on my progress.


Gratuitous Cute Kid Photos
The other day my entrepenurial children and friend Bailey had a lemonade stand. Lily figured out she could get more advertising bang for her buck if she used the dog. She's a smart one, that girl.


Do You Ever Wonder
Do you ever wonder if you are doing right by your kids? I think about this all the time. At the end of the day I have so many regrets.

I should have encouraged them to read more today.
I wish I had played Uno one more time.
I wish I hadn't forgotten to wash their underwear and socks.
I wish I had made them eat more vegetables today.
I wish I hadn't hidden in my room to read a magazine.
I wish I had asked them more questions about themselves.

And on an on. I feel this even more heavily because my children are adopted. Their birth families entrusted me with their child. Their child, for heaven's sake. What greater gift could you give to another human being? How high should my standards be for myself and for what my children should be achieving or experiencing or learning? How can I ever be at a place where I have done enough or be able to say, "Good job, me."

I am haunted by regrets and my mistakes. When I fail my kids or let them down, I regret not only my inadequacies as a parent but also what feels like a betrayal to my kids' family tree. I quake in the notion that I am not enough of a mom--to my children or their relatives. The reality is that I am not enough. "Enough" would be Carver and Lily and Zinabu living with their birth parents. In a perfect world, they would not be my kids. But because they are, and this world is not perfect and I am not perfect, I fight the regrets at the end of each day and vow to do better tomorrow. It's not much of a game plan, but it's all I've got right now.


Our NFL players and owners can come to an agreement but our Democrats and Republicans can't.
David and I just worked on our own budget for the year and managed to fix it without arguing on and on and acting like babies.

I'm kinda embarrassed by our government right now. All of them.


Do You Know The Way to San Jose? 
(And Other Highlights from San Francisco)
I was so fortunate that when David had a conference in Sacramento last week, we were able to arrange for me to join him over the weekend. My mom had the kids, and I flew out and met David at his hotel. We drove to Oakland the first night for a baseball game--which was a blast. I do love me some sports, and sports with my husband is pretty much the bomb.com.  The next day we drove to San Francisco and spent the entire day walking. We went to an amazing vegetarian cafe where David was a total sport himself and ate with me.
The United Nations Plaza.

The obligatory cable car.

Entering Chinatown.

Once in Chinatown, David wanted to take me to a tea tasting. There are multiple shops that sell tea and many of them offer tastings. You just walk in, sit down, and they brew up different kinds of tea and let you sample them totally free. Unfortunately, we mistakenly walked into what had to be the most expensive tea shop in the world, and they charged for tastings. We had to politely look interested while the sales clerk explained prices and brews, and when she finally turned her back, David said, "Let's run for it." So we did.
In a "free" tea tasting shop.

I look like I've had too much, don't I? And let me just say right now that the salty sea air
did not agree with my hair. Blah.

I made David buy one of those tapioca drinks that were so popular there. He
drank a few sips and then threw it away. Not such a fan of the tapioca.

Off the main tourist street is the real Chinatown, where residents shop and food vendors are plenty.

The streets of San Francisco. It was a good workout.

Inside Coit Tower, admiring the many post-depression era murals.

Shrouded in fog and clouds. See if you can spot Lombard Street.

The sun came out for an hour. This was off of Fisherman's Wharf. That's Alcatraz in the background.

Me and my honey.

After a lot of walking and a lot of good food, I was ready to leave San Francisco. I love big cities. Love them. But I was tired. We drove to a small beach town and stayed the night there. I'm sure the ocean was beautiful behind all the fog and rain. The next day we discussed our plans. We were an hour from my childhood home, and I had told David that I didn't want to go back and see my old neighborhood. Since my dad died, some things are too hard. But once I was in California, and we were so close, I changed my mind. And I'm so glad I did. It was hard and I sobbed, but sometimes you do hard things and sob to also experience something special.
My bedroom was the top left upstairs. I spent some of the best years of my life at this house and in this neighborhood. The house is a different color and has had some cosmetic changes, but still very recognizable. We walked the street and I called my older brother and my mom and cried a lot, but I was so blessed to remember so many sweet memories with my family.
After leaving San Jose, we drove to Sonoma and Napa Valley. We like wine, but we're not educated enough in wine to really care about touring vineyards or grape varieties. However, we do love good food and lovely landscapes, so Napa was still a pretty sweet place to be.

This is where I'm supposed to say I missed my kids. But I confess I didn't. I really didn't. I think this was the first trip I've been away from them where I did not miss them at all. Perhaps because they're older now and I don't have to worry about them as much. Perhaps because I really needed the break from them. Perhaps because being a plane trip away meant that I couldn't worry about them because I couldn't get to them quickly even if I wanted to. Perhaps because they annoyed me to death the week leading up to my trip.



We recently received this email from the organization through which we sponsor our Ugandan children:

Dear David and Cathy,

Because you are a sponsor of 2 children in Uganda, I wanted to make you aware of a very serious drought that is currently affecting nearly 12 million people living in the north-eastern part of Africa.

This drought is being reported as the worst in 60 years, affecting up to 40 percent of children under the age of 5. 

Because of this drought, crops have failed and food prices have skyrocketed — leaving millions of people at risk. 

We have nearly 1150 child development centers throughout this eastern part of Africa. We are monitoring the situation closely and will provide you with an update as more information becomes available. 

At this time, we just wanted to share with you the information we’ve received from our field offices and also provide you with an opportunity to send a gift of any amount to help meet these incredible needs. As you can imagine, this has created an extraordinary demand for food, water, and other basic necessities. Please {they included a link to click on} if you would like to make a donation. 

Thank you so much for your time. And please remember to pray for the children and families who are being directly impacted by this situation.
Ethiopia is also affected by this dire situation. I cannot bear to think of Zinabu's living relatives, who have already suffered so much.

So let's not complain about the hot weather in the United States, okay?


Quick Update

I am back from my trip to California with David. I'll post my photos and thoughts tomorrow, but for now I wanted to show you the picture I took with my phone at 35,000 feet. That's the giant thunderstorm we flew through. I could see the lightning and everything. After I took this shot we were in the clouds for about an hour and I couldn't see a thing. The plane was bumping around, but I did not jump off the airplane or kill anyone. Aren't you proud of me?

Yay me!


Thank You

Thank you so much to my lovely friends who sent me these gorgeous flowers for my birthday. I actually cried! And it totally made up for the fact that the dog had projectile diarrhea all over the carpet yesterday.



Happy Birthday To Me

Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 40. To sound completely cliche, I have no idea how that happened. Yesterday I was 30. I swear I was. The past several years have gone by in a blur of diapers and adoption paperwork and moves to different houses and school volunteer hours and supporting David with career changes. You blink and it's gone.

I was nervous about 40. I watched the lines around my eyes deepen. I watched the waistband of my jeans tighten. I watched my 8.5 minute mile slow to a 9.5 minute mile (or more like 10 if I'm really honest). I started checking the age boxes 35 to 45 instead of 25 to 35.

I'm presently watching my children creep closer to me in shoe size. I feel irrelevant at playgrounds. I color my hair. I shun Botox but confess it could be a temptation. I understand that my insecurities as a woman will never go away; there will always be someone younger than me, better than me, prettier than me, riskier than me. I can't believe I still have the same bad habits that I've had since I was 16. I've become less limber. And I'm still scared to death of flying and elevators, though I force myself to do both.

I was dreading 40 and did not want to think about it, until I began to remember all the people in my life who have passed away. People who would have loved to have made it to 40. Who died so painfully young, who did not get to graduate from high school, or college, or have a chance to watch their children grow up.

I get to. I get to be 40. And I've never been more grateful.

I have a lot left to do in my life. Let me rephrase that. I have so, so, so much life in me and I have years and years ahead of me to do all kinds of things. I am not old or over the hill, nor am I clinging to 21 and trying to find the fountain of youth. I'm still me. Still Cathy. Still raising her children as best she can. Still trying to stay healthy and make a difference in the world. Still reading and creating and messing up and just being.

Just being me.


Christmas In July

What? You mean you don't make gingerbread houses in the middle of July at your house? It's just us?


Anyone want to try to write a caption for this picture?


So Much To Do
I've been putting off cleaning the house for way too many days now, but I must buckle down and do it pronto. Our feet are sticking to the floor a wee bit too often. Never mind that I'd rather watch videos of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 debut in London, or see what William and Kate are doing in California, or search eBay for sassy shoes... the floors must be cleaned. It does not help that last night I was making the best sandwiches in the world (recipe to follow) when I spilled a bottle of Balsamic vinegar all over the stove and floor. I discovered that's one of the worst things you could spill--between the color that stains everything and the smell that overpowers everything else, it was not pretty. So I have no more excuses not to clean, Royal Couple or not.

So about that sandwich. I have become a huge fan of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She is a vegan writer, speaker, and cookbook author and she is the bomb. Seriously. Go to the dictionary and look up "da bomb" and you will see her picture. I have tried many of her recipes and so far I have not been disappointed. I would love to post them all here but I'm sure Colleen would rather we all buy her books. I told David that's all I want for my birthday--her cookbooks. Anyway, The Vegan Table is so fabulous and full of the most amazing recipes. Last night  I made her Panini with Lemon-Basil Pesto. It has wiped away any memory of all other sandwiches for me because it was that good. This is a great sandwich to make for the grown-ups when you make grilled cheese for the kids.

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts
Salt to taste
2 T olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)

Combine basil, garlic, pine nuts, and salt in a food processor. Mix until smooth. Add oil and lemon juice and process until smooth.

2 med. red bell peppers, cut into slices and roasted
2 zucchini squash, sliced and roasted
1 med. red onion
1 or 2 tomatoes, sliced
1 ripe avocado, sliced (I didn't have avocado, but I had some leftover guacamole that I used as a spread)
1 loaf Italian bread (such as ciabatta), sliced
2 T balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for brushing

The recipe calls for roasted or grilled bell pepper and zucchini. I chose to slice them and soften them under the broiler in my oven. Took about 8 minutes. Roasted would probably be extra yummy, but you're mostly looking to soften the veggies. Spread pesto on a slice of bread, layer the bell pepper, squash, onion, tomatoes, and avocado evenly. Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Spread more basil on the other slice of bread and place on top of the sandwich. Drizzle a little olive oil on the outside of the bread and press in a panini maker. I don't have a panini maker, so I used our pancake griddle and put olive oil on the griddle itself and put the sandwich on the griddle. Then I took a heavy baking dish and set it on top of the sandwiches. You don't want to skip that part because it condenses the sandwich and gets it heated all the way through. Flip the sandwich after 4 minutes and continue to cook until the bread is toasted and sandwich is heated through. Just try to eat this without moaning.


Today I pretended to not know my children. I can get away with that in large crowds because, in case you hadn't noticed, they don't look like me.

We may or may not have been at the aquarium.
We may or may not have been looking at a giant eel.
My kids may or may not have started making weird body noises and voice-overs for the eel.
I may or may not have stepped away from them and pretended to be very interested in the jellyfish a good 20 yards away.


Lily went out with my mom, and the boys and I went to The Ghost Town Museum. Very "wild west" and completely touristy, but who says you can be a tourist in your own hometown? On the way home Carver and Zinabu discussed boogers and ways to beat up an intruder if they ever tried to rob us. I whispered quiet words to myself and ignored them. I snuck in a little Women's World Cup action, played card games with Z, watched the rain and lightning as the power went out, cursed when the power came back on and realized I had to cook dinner, made a killer vegetable risotto and pot pie, and only said "Pick up your socks" three times today.

All in all, a winner!


I just had one of the best weekends ever. We all took a chance, threw caution to the wind, and gathered from all over the country to spend the weekend together--having never met one another. I loved every minute of it and wish I could do it again next weekend with all the same women. It was amazing. I love them all so much. A huge thank you to each and every one of you who came. You are so beautiful--inside and out.
I invited Colin Firth, but he was a no-show. Probably for the best, because there
was a lot of female body talk.

Hiking in the heat.
They hike in skirts. Aren't these women so fabulous?

The kids table. I need a putty knife to clean the floor, but it was so, so worth it. There were
only 10 of them, but the had the exuberance of 100.


Happy kids and happy mamas.

A lot of laughter.

A lot of sincere joy.

This one gets framed!

This one too!

A little blurry, but there were college plastic cups with wine and $50 worth of candy involved.

I {heart} her so much. She is amazeballs.
A new tradition. Remember the yard sale extravaganza with my children? I snuck the ship replica/art/kitsch/awfulness into Deirdre's car before she drove home. She has it now. I can't wait to see who gets it next or how. Look out!