Thursday, February 28, 2008
Yes, he is weird.
He has set his browser's home page to the VolcanoCam at Johnston Ridge Observatory (it's an HD image of the north side of Mount St. Helens, updated every five minutes). He can't resist sending the images to me, my brother, my uncle, my cousins... Because what if we went through the day without knowing what Mount St. Helens looked like?
He really misses it when the snowpack is covering the camera, or the weather is foggy, and he can't see the volcano. When it reappears, he sends us the image with a little celebratory message! ("Still there!!") Sometimes, if it's been a while since it has been visible, he will send us an old image from the archives.
Yes, he is nuts.
On Tuesday, he sent an email with the subject "Yes, it's Spring!" He wrote "Is anyone experiencing webcam withdrawal?" and attached THREE photos.
You can see why I had to share the zaniness with you, internets.
As I was writing this, I thought maybe I would share with you some information about this, the only active volcano in the lower 48 states. I did some internet research, just to double-check the facts I already had in my head. Dear Internets, I must admit that I found a lot of information out there, and I found it very interesting! Is it in the genes? Am I nuts too?
Mount St. Helens, located in southern Washington state, catastrophically erupted on May 18, 1980.
Here is the mountain on May 17, 1980:
And here is the mountain on May 18, 1980:
The volcano was actually rather active from 1800 to 1857, but after over a century of people living under its peaceful shadow, building towns and living lives, the average person thought of it as a dormant mountain.
In March of 1980, an earthquake triggered some activity within the mountain. She began to develop a "bulge." Oh St. Helens, I feel ya. I don't like people commenting on my bulges, either. (And sometimes mine are caused by gas, too.) In March, April, and May, she experienced a lot of seismic activity and eruptions of steam and ash. Magma was clearly moving under and inside the volcano.
On Sunday, May 18, 1980, at 8:32 am, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake under the north face of the mountain (the "bulge") triggered a massive landslide. She literally blew her top, as the entire north face of the mountain slid off into the lake and valley below. But she wasn't done yet. Here's what she did:
- Boom! when part of the mountain slid off, the magma underneath exploded and sent super-heated volcanic gases, ash, and rock toward the north.
- Spew! an ash cloud rose up from the volcano, erupting continuously for 10 straight hours. The ash would eventually cover 22,000 square miles (60,000 km²).
- Slide! the snow and glaciers on the mountain all melted, resulting in mudslides.
57 people died. 200 homes were destroyed. Tens of thousands of acres of forest were leveled. Over 7,000 big game animals (deer, elk, and bear), as well as all birds and most small mammals perished. 900,000 tons of ash had to be removed from highways and airports in the state of Washington.
Since that date, there have been several more eruptions, and the volcanic activity continues today.
In 1982, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created. One summer in the mid-eighties, my family went there to see it. It was still completely covered in ash. Dead trees were all lying on their sides, all having been pushed over in the same direction by the volcano blast. Spirit Lake was completely full of dead trees. It took your breath away with its desolation.
But some plant life was starting to return to the area. It is a fascinating study of forest rebirth. (I guess I am my daddy's daughter after all!)
If you want to read even more about Mount St. Helens...
Some mornings, getting ready to leave takes longer than it does on other mornings (I'm sure all moms of school-age kids can attest to that). I get dressed, get the kids up, go back in and wake them up again (rinse and repeat), then they eat breakfast while I pack lunch, then I get The Boy dressed while the girls get dressed (they have a few fights and I keep yelling from The Boy's room: "get dressed!"), brush everyone's teeth and hair, and hopefully there's a minute for me to put in contacts, brush my teeth, and put on a little makeup. I always brush my hair, but the rest is left to "if I have time" status. I always figure I'll just walk her over there and head straight back to eat breakfast and take care of myself.
Why is it that I can go weeks having had enough time to be presentable, and not have to talk to any other moms, but it seems like every time I have to run out with morning mouth and glasses, someone needs to stop me and have a conversation? This morning, I was there an extra 15 minutes talking over a volunteer project with another mom!
Why is that?!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
apparently you need a second mortgage to pay for bowling. It was unexpectedly expensive! (say that out loud... it's fun)
We* were very excited about the balls! They were a lot heavier than we were expecting!
Our favorite thing about bowling? The Reset button. No contest.
Every. time. the ball went down the lane, it was, "can I push it, can I push it, can I push it?!?!" Usually, the answer was yes, because none of the kids' balls had enough speed to trip the thing. But when Mom or Dad bowled, we still heard the question even as the thing was coming down to grab and sweep the pins. "No, honey, as you can see it's already doing it."
The first one or two turns, Daddy helped us
by showing us how to roll the ball down the lane.
But then we did it ourselves. We carried the ball down there, placed it on the ground, and gave it a push with both hands.
It went V E R R R Y S L O O O W L Y. And then it knocked down some pins!
And then we got to push the button!
But not me. I didn't need Daddy's help, and I didn't need to put it down and roll it. I pretty much just let it drop from my fingers.
It went V E R R R Y S L O O O W L Y. And then it knocked down some pins!
And then we got to push the button!
The Boy's game was over first. He had a strong showing, and finished with a score of 65.
Middle Girl also did well. She picked up a spare in the 7th frame which gave her game a boost. We were so excited when she finished with a .... 65!
Big Girl was neck-and-neck with her brother and sister, and needed a 7 to finish with a 65! We thought she might do it, but then she ended up making a spare instead in the 10th, and finished with a 71!
After the 5th frame, barbra was leading The Hubby 65-52. They both made strikes in the 6th, but then Hubs threw another strike and barbra's lead was gone. Just as she had predicted. Hubs finished out the game with a mark in every frame (including the 10th, when does he not?) to win 154-124.
*you know, of course, that when I say "we," I am talking about the kids. Because when it comes to bowling, I am no Spring Chicken! (Creaky voice) I remember when we had to keep score** ourselves!
**And I think they should still make school-age kids do it themselves. Because it is a really good way to practice your math! Can we request a lane with an overhead projector and transparency scoresheet, please?
I got to see it with the bumper off. There is damage to the metal under the bumper (um, the chassis?) It looks pretty mangled in that corner. Somehow they bang it back into shape or something. I tried to ask questions so the guy would tell me exactly how they do it, but he just kept answering "we repair it, we don't replace it, since that part is the size of the whole car." So, yeah, whatever, they "repair" it.
They said it should be done by Friday, March 7. Two weeks with the rental car...
It's a new N i s s a n A l t i m a. Or as The Boy refers to it, "the grey car." It has a wireless ignition. This is weird: there's no key, just the thingy with the buttons for unlocking/locking the doors. Let's call it the "fob." As long as the "fob" is in the car somewhere (pocket, purse, kid's mouth, whatever), you can push the "Start/Stop" button to start the car. "Wow, cool!" thought I.
And it is pretty fun to start the car without a key.
For about a day and a half.
Then, it's "so what?" I mean, I still have to take the fob out of my purse and push the unlock button to get in the car, so it wouldn't be a big deal to then stick it in the ignition rather than sticking it in my purse. I also have to take it out to push the lock button when I get out of the car. Is sticking the key in the ignition and turning it any inconvenience to anyone?
So, yeah, I think it's kind of a fun toy, but it doesn't seem to me like it's worth the effort it took to invent it.
Anyone out there have a car that has this feature? Do you see the point? Enlighten me.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
There are plenty of days when I have lots of trouble forgiving myself for yelling at them all day (and is it really my fault? because, after all, the whining started the second we all woke up this morning, and never stopped, and I'm not a morning person and starting the day that way just dooms my mood. -- Well, yes, it is).
But I find that it doesn't help me to dwell and complain and focus on the negative. Thinking about the good things (even though sometimes it's really hard to come up with some) does make me feel better, and I prefer to do things that make me feel good (call me crazy).
One of the things I LOVE is when my daughter reads the books I loved as a kid. It feels so good to get absorbed in a book, and seeing her enjoyment warms my heart and soul.
So it was a delight this weekend when she made a puppet for her February book report:
Just in case you are wondering, she added a little feature inside the mouth of the puppet:
Pippi Longstocking! She's so cute! Great job, Big Girl!
Sorry if these are visually weird for you. I love the Magnetic Lasso tool in Photoshop, and I like having an excuse to use it!
Monday, February 25, 2008
I am a complete sucker for flowers.
I have to admit, if I'm shopping for clothes, home furnishings, you name it -- if a floral is available, that's what I am drawn to. When I was younger, any flower would get me. Now that I'm more discerning, there are in fact floral prints that make me nauseous. But a bright, tasteful floral?
When I got married, the flowers were a very important part of the wedding for me. MUCH more so than the food. (I was Young then!) My mom kept the budget in mind and scaled me back a LOT (and good for her), but I wanted flowers flowers flowers.
Spring flowers are my favorite. Tulips, daffodils, peonies, freesia, sweet peas, lisianthus, roses... oh, and I just love sweet little forget-me-nots.
But, looking outside, I have some chosen some unexpected plants for my beds. And my younger self would be shocked and disappointed, but I really love them!
This one looks like a cabbage, but on closer inspection, its frilly edges and very faint hint of pink in the center really add to its natural, unusual beauty.
This one is really small and low to the ground, sort of a ground cover. The white blossoms are very simple and small, and my younger flower snob self would have passed it right over as "boring." But I really like the combination of shapes between its leaves and its flowers.
Oh, and the dresses at the Academy Awards this year pretty much bored me. Am I getting old? It just made me wistful for this:
Oh, how I loved that one! It was 1999, when she was robbed! She was a GENIUS in the first Elizabeth movie. Sure, Gwyneth was cute and touching, but Cate Blanchett was awe-inspiring.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Boy got a bike (with training wheels) for his birthday in December, but he has been leery of learning how to pedal it, instead sticking with his trusty Kettler trike.
Over the weekend, he pulled out the "big boy bike" and got very frustrated because the pedals kept stopping. I tried to show him that he was pedaling it the wrong direction, which is how you apply the brakes, and help him move his legs in a circle in the right direction. But he was just yelling at me about how his bike didn't work, and wouldn't listen to mom.
But then Middle Girl tried to show him. And boy, did he listen with rapt attention to her instructions. She was so patient, showing him over and over which way to push the pedals, and giving him a starting push. I was so proud of her! She and I both cheered and hollered when he started to get it by himself!
While enjoying the lovely weather outside and the lovely children working together to help The Boy with his bike-riding, I heard something: "Hey, lady! Yeah, you with the kids. You ever gonna notice me? Sure, I'm old and tired, but I've put in a lot of good years with children.
"Thanks for sewing me back together that one time (sorry I spewed so much dust in your face), but I think things are a lot more serious this time! Get off your duff and HELP ME!!"
Uh, yeah, you have a point.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
(* "crisis" is definitely not the right word, I was more "brooding," but go with me here)
I wore my dark-washed jeans, a long sleeved black top, my high-heeled black boots, my silver necklace made by my late friend Annette, and my rose alpaca wrap. I carried my handbag made of black sticks (sounds weird, but it gets compliments from strangers all the time).
I think I handled the situation well, armed in clothes that made me feel more relevant than my daily wardrobe of mom-mess-ready t-shirt and jeans. Clothes really can help you cope.
So a few weeks ago, I had to decide whether to renew my subscription to Backstage (the trade magazine full of audition announcements). It's really expensive, and the last show I did was in 2004 right around the time I became pregnant with child #3 (surprise!). That show was tough on the family, because I was gone every night for the months of rehearsal and then the months of performances. I now have another outlet for performing (my bands), which involves a much less intense rehearsal and performance schedule. However, I have been performing in theatrical productions my entire life, and although I made a conscious decision at a young age not to pursue it as a career, I did intend to keep it as a hobby, and giving up Backstage meant facing the music and admitting that I am not acting right now. But Hubby and I both said, I can always re-subscribe or pick one up at the newsstand to get updated or get back into it. So I decided, let's not renew it. Hubby's "are you sure? are you sure?" was very sweet and helped me feel okay about this temporary break in my onstage life. I felt okay about it.
Then, I got an email from an old friend of mine, Anjali, who I haven't seen since high school since she is now a professional actress living in New York. She was here in LA appearing in "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," and had just remembered that I live somewhere around LA; after emails back-and-forth it was decided that Hubby and I should come see the show. I knew that this was going to result in much introspection for me.
You see, Anjali was a year younger than me and saw my life as an actress outside of school, and wanted some of that for herself. So we did a show together, and I drove her there, and we did shows together in school too, and we were quite a pair. I think I was kind of a mentor or role model for her. I adored her, as did everyone: she is delightful and open and loyal and fun.
As I said before, I already knew that I didn't want to try for a career as an actress. I had lots of friends who were older than me and giving it a try, and to me, it looked miserable. The rejection, the uncertainty, the many talented people who go overlooked. I think there are many people who see that stuff and say, "so what? I don't care. I have to act!" but I am not one of those people. So I went off to my beloved university, where I could study science and still perform on stage on the side. Meanwhile, there was never any doubt that Anjali was one of those people for whom the drawbacks of acting are nothing compared with her desire to do this for a living. Whether or not I had been there acting with her, this was something that she would have ended up doing, there's no question. After she finished high school, she went to a great school in the Chicago area to major in theater, and kept at it, and then moved to NYC, and Broadway casts and Tony nominations, and lo and behold it's been years since we've seen each other.
So she's in a big-time, exciting new show, and it's here in LA, and it's the same week that I faced the music and temporarily suspended (but it's hard to get back in at my age) my Backstage subscription, otherwise known as my connection to the industry.
With my supportive and understanding Hubby, I went to see her show. It was interesting. It was certainly new and different. I felt that there were things that really worked and things that didn't so much. It was like the quiet kid in the corner of high school history class, with his black hair and Doc Martens and writing scratched all over his skin, is underneath it all a musical genius and a history buff and wrote a show about the life of Andrew Jackson, and how he is obsessed with blood and violence and destroying the Indians, and then grows up to overthrow the New England aristocratic ruling class and found the Democratic Party. Quite a trippy, intense experience to take in. While you're brooding about an identity crisis.
It was wonderful to see her, and I don't know about her, but I felt like it had only been a few months since I last saw her.
But as I predicted, I've been brooding about my choices, and what if I had chosen to go down a different path, yada yada, for a couple of days. It cannot be helped. When I decided on the path I did walk, I knew that I would have days like this down the road. But I have the life I want and the husband I need in order to work through it and fight to at least keep it as a hobby. I know that if I had it all to do over, I would make the same decision again. I love my life as a normal person, with a home and a family. And I know that Anjali would make the same decision that she made, too, a life of uncertainty, and flying around the country and shipping her belongings for a few months here and a few months there, so that she can be other people for a living. And there is no one who is more proud of her than I am! You go, Anj! I love you!
Here we are in the first show she did outside of school, when I took her along with me. This is West Side Story. Please notice that my 16-year-old self in 1989 felt that big bangs were too important to re-style for the show. Even if they aren't period-appropriate. Sheesh, that is embarrassing.
Here we are in a school production my senior year, when I played her ditzy maid.
I really look tall in these pictures. Here's one from another school show, so you can see that I am barely average height. Anjali is a tiny little pixie. This is our dear friend Jodie. I am very happy to see that I my hair was in the right era for the show.
Here we are on Saturday, at a bar after her show. The (absence of) lighting in the bar made the flash do horrible things to my face, so it doesn't really look like me, but isn't Anj cute?
This is what I look like in a normal photo:
Scenes from "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" (Anjali played Rachel, his wife) (I think these are publicity photos):
The show portrays Andrew and Rachel Jackson as cutters.
Here's a picture I found from the reception after opening night. Here she is with the actors who played Andrew Jackson (left) and Martin Van Buren (right), genius performances both, and who was in the audience but Jim! (John Krasinski)
Here are some clips of the show, if you want to see what I mean:
There are two clips of interviews with creators and cast at YouTube.
Monday, February 18, 2008
We have been having trouble choosing movies to watch after the kids go to sleep. I really miss seeing the Big Important Dramas in the theater, but I am never in the mood for something like that after going through the Kids Bedtime Routine. I want something light and fluffy and brainless so I can just sit there and smile, and go to bed with a happy li'l heart.
Anyway, so now you see why I decided to get "Music and Lyrics" from Netflix. It was definitely light and fluffy and brainless. Problem was, it was boring. I think there were parts that were supposed to be funny, but they weren't. I chuckled twice during the whole movie. So for now I guess we are back to watching our DVDs of "30 Rock" and "How I Met Your Mother," because although we have seen them before, they do not disappoint. Always a good laugh, and for HIMYM, a bit of "awwwww" cuteness as well.
The best part of "Music and Lyrics" was the opening sequence. The 80's music video featuring Hugh Grant's character and the member of the group that went on to solo success, "Colin." Played by Scott Porter -- and I SCREAMED "it's JASON STREET!!!!" when he appeared on screen in all his cheesy dancing splendor. "Six," I was glad to see you in another project, can't wait to see you in other things. Seeing this made me SO Very Happy. Then I had a thought, which sent me over the edge, and I said to my Hubby, "If I saw Matt Saracen in something, I would totally LOSE IT!!!" Squeeee!! Mmm, I'm going to go think about that for a while.
(Officially I like Coach Taylor because Matt Saracen is way too young for me.)
Mmm, yeah, Coach Taylor.
Matt Saracen. Coach who?
Here he is watching a basketball game and adjusting the levels (brightness, color, backlighting, contrast, whee!). Yesterday, The Boy and The Hubby watched some bowling (more on that later) and golf (overheard: "golf is gooood in HD"). Whaddayathink, has someone enjoyed his long weekend?!
I am waiting until he goes back to work, and then I'll get to adjusting those levels myself. Lemme at it!
Hot, it is the MSU game.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I saw these Baekgaard leather bags while out yesterday. Such pretty colors! Such creamy, soft leather! I like the light blue best.
The square one with the flap has a shoulder strap inside. So cute. But, why can't I find it on the internets to show you some better pictures? They have the tote, the travel clock, the passport holder, the coin purse, even a bag to hold golf balls on there... I don't get it.
Friday, February 15, 2008
At my house today, it looks like this.
65 degrees F (19 C), a little breeze.
It feels good outside.
So, I should go out there. And maybe I'll be in a better mood than I have been this week. I've been blah, with no good reason.
So toodles for now. I don't have a laptop and I'm going to go watch my son. He's hitting at a golf ball with a plastic baseball bat. So you know he's happy.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
We turned about half of them into Valentines!
Hooray!! Hooray!! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Big Girl made these for her classmates. The cup contains three little chocolates.
So to those kids who criticized the Origami cups: how do you like it now? Bet you like it with candy inside, you little punks!
Middle Girl's preschool does not allow candy (right on!), so we put a kissy fish bath squirter in each cup!
For MG's teachers, we took an idea from Family Fun magazine, and gave them each a "you warm my heart" cup containing a packet of hot chocolate and a tea bag. I wish I had found something more special to put in (a fancier cocoa?), but it was not to be this time... I hope the intended sentiment was expressed...
Happy Valentine's Day to the bloggers I adore! You warm my heart (with a tear or with a giggle) every day, and you don't even give me chocolate!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
This is a Valentine's Day decoration I picked up at Tar-jhay a few years back. It is so fetching on my front door. I particularly love the way it sits a bit whoppyjod* (one of my mom's words - LOVE IT) because that is just the sort of high-class home decorator that I am.
*wanky, crooked, cock-eyed, tipsy (a feeling I myself enjoy), carefully balanced at a slight angle so as to appear whimsical (um, yeah, that's it)...
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I asked my mother-in-law to write a few thoughts about having three boys, since she herself has three sons (now all married with young, growing (except for ours, which is complete) families). Not only that, but due to divorce and relocation, she raised them by herself. I admire her very much.
Here is what she wrote:
There are no three people in my world I would rather spend my time with than my three boys! Looking back, there was never a day that was 'quiet' in our home, not a door jamb or ceiling left unmarked as they grew tall enough to jump up and touch, and never enough mac & cheese for after school snacks. Three boys leave you with so many wonderful memories....some you never want to forget, others you pray no one will remember, and still others I pray R & S will never experience (think C (her Youngest) rolling his car off the cliff and walking away). I am sure R & S will face the gifts and the challenges with creativity! I am so very blessed, as are they! xxoo
The following quote is at the top of my friend K's blog. K has three boys, ages 7, 5, and 3.
My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You’re tearing up the grass." "We’re not raising grass," my dad would reply, "we’re raising boys." –Harmon Killebrew
Can you tell how much I love my brother- and sister-in-law R & S? I just got the news that this summer's baby is a boy, and it's all I can think about!
I kept catching myself referring to this baby as "he." And then saying "why do I keep saying that -- we don't know yet!?" I think I might have even told my friend Eileen, who just had her third boy, that my sister-in-law was going to have three boys soon too. And then I said, "actually maybe she's having a girl, what am I talking about?"
So I jumped up and down in excitement when we heard the news, because ... YES!!
So... three boys! I guess I am not the one to wax poetic about that... Blackbird, or Kim, it's up to you! I'd love to hear something from the experts!
Monday, February 11, 2008
Big Girl's project was "100 Origami Cups." Big Girl and Mommy folded together at the kitchen table, and after about an hour and a half, we had 100 cups. Then we pinned each one to a piece of styrofoam for ease of transport and display.
In hindsight, I have lots of postmortem ideas -- other simple shapes instead of cups, and loads of other ways to display (10 stacks of 10 is just one). But this is pretty cute for the optional project that it is, on top of her normal homework for the week.
Here are a few of the other projects on display. A necklace for a bear made out of 100 colored paperclips, something made out of 100 Legos, a football made out of 100 candies, 100 stickers on a paper, a valentine made out of 100 pieces of pasta...
A couple of children told Big Girl that Origami cups are not interesting and she should have made cranes. Cranes would have taken us at least four times as long to make, and Big Girl's Origami skills are really at the "cup" level right now. We might have been able to make hats, but not cranes. But Big Girl and I agreed that her project was really cool -- big and colorful, and did a good job of showing how many 100 is. We decided it was a successful project.
Okay, what is up with the children telling her that? I mean, hello, stringing 100 paperclips together and hanging them on a bear? Sticking 100 stickers on a piece of paper? Whatever, those projects are fine, but if that's what you're going to make, don't tell my kid her cups are not interesting enough. Sheesh. One of the kids is Big Girl's best friend, too! I talked it all out with Big Girl, all is well, and I know we all dealt with comments like this as kids and turned out okay (builds character, yada yada), but still - it's stinky. Blech.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
The Boy made a "lion mask," complete with sequin adornment. He wore it everywhere for two solid days!
He would put it on his face and say "RAARRRRR." And he would put it on the top of his head and say, "Now I'm just The Boy!"
And you wonder why I'm such a sucker for him.
Uncle D had a nice, but short, visit. My favorite was going to the high school basketball game with D, Middle Girl, and The Boy. (The Hubby and Big Girl were in the mountains this weekend.)
D, thanks for coming and staying here with our pushy cat and enthusiastic children when you could be staying in a hotel! Aren't you sad you missed my car accident and The Boy in the mask? (Well, one out of two.)
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Everyone was fine, the cops there for the previous accident helped us exchange info, it took only 15 minutes or so. So, as far as midnight freeway accidents go, I am very very lucky.
But it made me feel vulnerable and reminded me that you can be doing everything right, and still be involved in an accident, maybe even a bad one. So even though it was not a big deal, I was a little bit shaken.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I am taking comfort in the fact that I like my insurance company so much. Because we have had to call them quite a few times during our ownership of the Odyssey.
"Hi, it's us again!"
Actually, that conversation did happen at H's Body Shop when I got an estimate on Monday!
Body Shop Employee: "Wait, I know this car, is that who I think it is?!"
Me: "Yep, we're back!"
Sunday, February 3, 2008
But it's true: 16 birthdays with you. Who is luckier than me?
I want to spend 160 more with you! There will never be enough. I love being with you and laughing with you and trusting in you.
Only one problem, though: I have already run out of birthday present ideas!