Monday, April 27, 2009

We Didn't Start the Fire

I guess Thomas doesn't want these toys anymore. That's a good thing because after 3 trips to the naughty spot (yes, it sounds like I'm sending him to a strip club but it sounds right when he's in trouble), I've decided the best punishment is just to leave them there.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Food Friday - Kasha Mexicana

Kasha Mexicana is a pantry recipe, onion is the only fresh ingredient. It's good for the end of the week when you've run through all your fresh stuff or those peppers you were planning to cook have gone all mushy on you. However, if you have some extra, still fresh peppers, they would be good in this.

This is one of the few recipes I have that calls for a brand-name mock meat. I use Morningstar Farms Crumbles. I try not to use them too much because they're expensive and they seem a little like frankenfood to me. Crumbles came out of a food lab somewhere; they weren't developed in someone's kitchen. I try to follow the rule that if your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, then you probably shouldn't eat it. (Or at least someone's great-grandmother, my great-grandmothers probably never ate fresh ginger or tofu.) There are more natural recipes for home-made ground beef substitutes but I haven't tried one yet.

Kasha is a whole grain (roasted buckwheat groats). It's traditionally eaten as porridge in Slavik cultures or as a filling for Jewish knishes. I like it here because it bulks up the casserole and adsorbs the flavor from the spices.

Kasha Mexicana

1 onion, diced
½ package of Crumbles
1 cup kasha
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can chopped green chiles
1 package taco seasoning
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
½ can sliced olives
1 can black beans
1 ½ cups water
1 cup cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Saute onion 8-10 minutes. Add grounds and heat through. Stir in kasha.

Add tomatoes, chiles, beans, olives, taco seasoning, corn and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer covered 5-7 minutes, until kasha is tender and water is absorbed.

Sprinkle cheese over mixture. Cover until cheese has melted.

Serve as a casserole or to fill tortillas.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Uh Oh

From my reading notes on Amartya Sen's article "Rights and Agency" taken while I was studying for my comprehensive exam two years ago:

* Denotes my comments on the content of the preceding page.

22 Ay(x) = person x may do the act himself
Ax(y) = person y may do the act himself.
Based on all this stuff the following holds:
1) DN, VN and SN are bilaterally independent (none along entails any of the others).
2) Any two of DN, VN and SN together entail the third.
* This shit is getting ridiculously complicated. I’m changing it to make it easier. Hope I don’t completely screw it up.
26 VR: Is it the case that even if Harry has no obligation to stop George from taking the job, George still may not take it?
DR: Is it the case that even if Harry has no obligation to stop George from taking the job, then, Harry, may not take it?
The answers depend upon our view of integrity.
Integrity Respect = a general respect for integrity no matter whose.
Integrity Responsibility = a personal responsibility for one’s own integrity.
* I’m really losing Sen here but whatever.
From integrity respect, neither VR or DR comes into play. “No matter who takes the job and who views it, the same unfavorable picture of involvement in chemical and biological warfare, by someone who believes such involvement to be wrong, comes through.
However, from integrity responsibility, both VR and DR play in.
* Seriously man, WTF?
27 Tie Aims – people having different aims related to their own kith and kin.
Tie Respect – everyone having different aims related to their own kith and kin but valuing acts directly responsive to ties.
Tie Aims goes with VR – x may do something favoring his own children vis-à-vis y’s children but y – sharing the same tie aimed morality – must try to stop x from doing this.
Tie Respect goes with DR – parents should benefit their own children but it’s not so good if helpful strangers take the same actions.
Tie Respect also goes with SR – “Ed may do something helping his own children at the cost of Bill’s children, while Bill may not do that thing helping Ed’s children (not because Bill values benefits to Ed’s children differently from the way Ed does, but both value the action of someone helping his own children himself.)”
* I give up. Amartya Sen should be shot.

The second reader on my committee has raised an objection to part of my proposal based on this article. Clearly, I do not understand this article.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I am lonely. Really, really lonely. I worried before we moved here that I would feel very isolated but I just wasn't prepared for it to be this bad. I had some vague hope that one of Jeremy's colleagues would have a wife who was in the same situation as me. Unfortunately, the only other faculty wife here who doesn't work homeschools her 5 children. We wouldn't have been fast friends anyway.

Thomas and I spend most weekdays alone together. I love him but until he's old enough to go out for a beer every once in a while, he just won't cut it in the friend department.

When Jeremy is home, he's working. He works 10-14 hours a day, seven days a week. A lot of that time is spent at home with us but he's not really with us. About half of the time that he's home, I leave to work on my proposal. Which I do alone. I used to go to a coffee shop to work but it got to be too depressing. Too many people there hanging out with their friends.

I try to find things to do during the day. I shop at 3 different grocery stores. That fills up Tuesdays. When I have to go to the post office or to Walmart, I walk the 2 mile round-trip with Thomas in the stroller so that it will take longer. I was jogging on the way home but I've stopped doing that because I get home too fast. The last two weeks, we spent a lot of time in the front yard planting flowers, an herb garden from seed and a couple of vegetable plants in pots. But now that everything has been planted there's not a lot to do. I've started cooking dinner at around 10 in the morning. Sometimes I take Thomas to Target even when we don't need anything because the little old ladies there will stop to talk to him. If there are no little old ladies, I'll find something to buy so I can talk to the checkout girl. They almost always ask how old he is.

I've looked for a playgroup to join. Our section of Sacramento isn't very family oriented so there's really nothing near us. Elk Grove, the suburb south of us, is lousy with families which causes the opposite problem. There are lots of playgroups but they all have waitlists to join. I think I've found an open group that meets on Tuesdays (I'll have to reschedule grocery shopping). We'll try it out next week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lots of Goings Ons

I signed the paperwork for Thomas' speech therapy last Thursday. Pat, our services coordinator, said that they have a shortage of speech therapists right now so I thought it might take a while to actually get an appointment. But I got a call today. Thomas starts speech therapy next Monday. He'll go once a week until he can accurately imitate sounds, has a 100 word vocabulary and can use 2-3 word phrases.

I also scheduled by dissertation proposal defense. On Wednesday, May 6th at 2 pm I'll sit down with 10 of the professors in my department and probably cry. No, I'll just want to cry.

My proposal is a 25 page paper that identifies the problem my dissertation will address and outlines my solution to it. The proposal defense is a working session - at least that's how the faculty views it. Students traditionally think of it as an hour-long opportunity for your professors to point out the weaknesses in your arguments and generally undermine your confidence in your philosophical abilities. Since I already have very little confidence in my philosophical abilities, it shouldn't take even that long. Though I doubt they'll cut it short, no matter how much I might wish they would.

Clearly, I am not looking forward to it. However, if I get through it (without crying, hyperventilating, vomiting or rashly faking an epileptic seizure) and my proposal passes (lets not even consider the alternative), I'll get my master's degree and I'll finally be able to teach. More importantly, the last five years will have proven not to have been a complete waste of time. (It was touch and go there for a while on that score).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's all about the pajamas.

I try never to buy clothes at full price, especially for the kids. I'll buy stuff on sale in a pinch, otherwise I stick to the clearance racks. But the other night Thomas was crying after Jeremy dressed him after his bath. Thomas climbed on my lap and started pulling at the feet. He was crying because his pajamas were too small for his feet! (Though weirdly, the shoes I bought him last year still fit.) So, I broke down and bought him two new pairs a few days ago.

Then, Easter came and grandmas and grandpas sent him money in the mail. I decided that the Easter money paid for the pajamas and now I can sleep at night without wondering if I could have found clearance pajamas if I'd searched for a few more days.

(Speaking of laying awake nights over money, thank you for all the ad clicks. Keep it up!)

Thomas also got trucks for Easter. He loves them, thanks Grandma Peggy!

Yay Easter Trucks!, originally uploaded by leslie.ann.

This is Thomas' new favorite thing to do:

New Habit, originally uploaded by leslie.ann.

And, of course, I laugh every time. Because I am a child. He's guaranteed to do it every day until he turns 15. Spiffy new pajamas, though.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Food Friday - Pasta Bake

Pre-cheese Pasta Bake

This is my favorite pantry recipe. It's simple comfort food. Throw together a salad while its in the oven and you've got dinner.

Pasta Bake

1 pound of pasta (penne, spiral, shells, etc.)
1 jar pasta sauce
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 can olives, sliced or quartered
1 can diced tomatoes
Italian Cheese to cover

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add sauce, beans, olives and tomatoes and stir together. Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with cheese. Heat through in the oven, 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thomas has a little friend.

Thomas and Trent, originally uploaded by leslie.ann.

Tyson, our neighbor across the street, has a 21-month-old son Trent and is much more outgoing than me. He actually crossed the street to introduce himself a couple of weeks ago. Shocking, huh?

(An aside: it actually was a bit shocking. Thomas and I were doing laundry in the garage when I saw this young man walking up our driveway and into the garage with us. My first instinct was to keep him out of the garage so I was trying to corral him back outside when he explained that he lives across the street.)

Tyson and Trent came over to play in the yard today. Thomas and Trent don't exactly play together. Thomas gives his toys to Trent and then marches back over to recover them a few minutes later.

In other news, I planted some flowers.

I put in the landscaping timbers and filled in the bed with compost and manure. Unfortunately, Home Depot wouldn't cut the landscaping timbers so I left the ends open. It rained yesterday and a lot of the soil washed out into the yard. I had considered that possibility and decided that it wouldn't be a problem. However, I didn't account for the runoff from the roof of the house. Anway, I found something they would cut down for me and closed off the ends. Now, I just have to keep the flowers alive.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Food Friday - Pasta w/ Chickpea-Tomato Sauce

This pasta is simple and awesome. I doubled the garlic from the original recipe because I have never in my life tasted something and thought it had too much garlic. If you have had that thought, scale back the garlic. I also threw in some steamed broccoli and marinated tofu because they were in the fridge. I didn't have any fresh basil so I added a small pinch of dried basil to the sauce. (I just planted a few basil seeds though so I'm looking forward to the next time I make this.)

Pasta with Chickpea-Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Everyday Food April 2009

4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp red-pepper flakes
3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans)
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) vegetable broth
1 fresh basil leaf (more for garnish)
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
12 oz medium pasta shells
grated parmesan for serving

Saute garlic and red-pepper flakes in olive oil until fragrent. Add chickpeas, season with salt, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce has reduced slightly, about 20 minutes. Add basil leaf, cook for 5 more minutes. Remove basil.

While sauce is cooking, cook pasta according to package directions and steam the broccoli.

Add sauce and broccoli to pasta and toss. Serve w/ parmesan.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

All Better

All Better, originally uploaded by leslie.ann.

Thomas got the all clear from the doctors at The Shriner's Hospital. All told, his burn took 10 days to heal. So, no scar. We will have to keep his arm covered when he's out in the sun this summer.

The mark turns purplish when his arm is down by his side but when we rub in his moisturizer, it almost completely disappears. Sometimes burn marks get darker before they lighten and disappear but that doesn't seem to be the case with his. I think it will be gone well before a year has passed.

The ordeal is over but I'm still so sad that this happened to him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


This is my new laptop. Guess what it does. It works. All the time. It knows what time it is without me having to tell it. If you accidentally unplug it, it still works. Which opens up the possibility of unplugging it on purpose. It's awesome. I love it. Thanks mom and dad.