Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Upcoming trip!

The Hubby and I have decided that we want to go to Quebec for our kid-free trip in June.

Because LOOK at Quebec! So gorgeous!

We're thinking of staying in Montreal and taking a few day trips: Quebec City, a cruise on the St. Lawrence River...

I am in need of any Quebec tips you might have! Is there a little town that would be a better "home base" for our day trips?

Are there any day trips/outings/activities that we should do? Anybody know which bloggers I should bug for advice?



I have been to Quebec before, fifteen years ago. It's a good story, and I have pictures! I wanted to put them here, but they need to be scanned in and my computer won't let me open the program (PC appears to be wheezing its last few breaths?). I will save that for a "post for another day," but I hope it will be soon! Can't wait to show you "Quebec & Me!"

In the meantime, please help me out with information if you would, because my prior visit doesn't count. (You'll see what I mean.)

I Learned Something Today

My friend the eco-living expert said "juice boxes are pretty much the worst thing you can buy."

They are made of an aluminum-petroleum substance (for the lining of the paper carton) that is impossible to recycle because you can't separate the metal from the petroleum. And the paper is most likely virgin paper. And there's a plastic straw in a plastic wrap. Imagine everything that goes into making a juice box.

You should also never buy a carton with a metal lining (or any other flexible metal, like juice 'pouches'). Plain paper cartons are compostable, so they are fine.

I had never thought about this before!

There are times when you need small servings of juice (for a kids' party, for example). She says to get the small cans of juice. Remember those? With the pull tab? They are recyclable.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Big Girl hit a major milestone this weekend. She is now taking communion!

I recently discovered another milestone, one I had never thought about before! It's another indication of being a bigger kid: one who gives off an air of more maturity than the out-of-control, unpredictable energy of the little kids.

The cat, completely of his own volition, seeks out your attention and climbs into your lap for some petting!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

First Communion

Saturday was a wonderful day.

But I need to say this right now: it was 94 degrees. Unnecessary! Unreasonably uncomfortable! But we dealt with it. We moved past it. We wished we had chosen an indoor restaurant for our lunch celebration. We tried to ignore it while we fainted in the stifling air. We stayed upbeat and celebratory! Kudos to everyone and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart!

The girls, in their excitement, woke up very early. Breakfast was eaten, hair was curled by Noni (my mother-in-law), and we got dressed up in our fancy clothes.

Big Girl's exquisite dress was made by Grandma, and the veil was made by Mommy. New shoes and white pantyhose completed the look. Fingernails painted by Noni.

Middle Girl wore her crisp new Easter dress, as well as new shoes and pantyhose. Her fingernails and toenails had been painted by Noni, but she opted for new white shoes instead of colorful flip flops.

The Boy looked dapper in his new fancy khaki slacks and brown dress shoes. The tie was borrowed from a friend as well as a navy blazer. However, we did not put the blazer on him, since (did I mention?) 94 degrees. He asked Noni to paint his toenails as well, which of course she was happy to do. He looked great, despite the "owie" on the forehead from Monday, and despite the huge tantrum he threw while Daddy was dressing him. But that's why we dressed him way ahead of time and plopped him in front of cartoons! He was over the outfit drama by the time we headed over to church.

Oh, and that's me... that's what Big Girl picked out for me to wear!

Big Girl and her classmates gathered before the ceremony...

Look at what the boys had to wear in the (did I mention?) 94 degree heat!

Look at all of the proud parents taking pictures in the (did I mention?) 94 degree heat!

The children then began the Mass they had prepared. They processed in, so we could all see them, and then they went around to the back again and processed in with the priests. (The Youth Choir generously provided the music.) This time, they took their seats with their parents. The second graders handled all parts of the Mass: readings, presentation of the gifts (complete with setting the table on the altar), prayers of the faithful... Monsignor involved them in his homily, asking them questions and using a hand-held microphone to capture their responses for all of us. The children had great responses to his questions, clearly understanding the importance of this day and what they were there to do. Big Girl answered many of his questions with a great deal of self-assurance! She always had her hand raised. In this way she differs from her mother! (When I was a kid, I tried to be invisible.)

Monsignor reminded us that the parents are the first teachers of the children, which is such a wonderful message.

When it was time for the Eucharist, each child in turn went up to Monsignor with his or her parents and received the bread and wine. Then the parents did as well (I received a blessing instead, of course). We returned to our pew (Big Girl had a good spot on the center aisle) to watch all of the family and friends in the congregation go up to take communion.

The children processed out with the priests and then we went over to the Parish Hall where they were sitting at a big long table having some fruit and cake. We got to talk to everyone and take more pictures, and eat cake! (The Boy and Middle Girl really earned their cake, having behaved themselves in church with Noni and our friends the Bakers during the whole ceremony!)

After that, we went to the restaurant (did I mention it was an outdoor place? and it was 94 degrees?) for lunch! The Bakers bought a champagne/sparkling cider toast, and Big Girl got to open her presents. Big Girl felt so special that everyone wanted to share her special day with her, in their own way.

Then it was home to get out of the fancy clothes and into the pool! We didn't know this would happen on First Communion day, but after the planned celebrations, the weather was in charge!

Everyone was wiped out by dinner time, and bedtime came early. Tired and happy kids fell into their beds, one dreaming of putting on her white dress again in the morning and going to church to take communion with the whole parish.

It must be said: I really can't believe my baby is old enough to take communion. It always seemed so far away! Big Girl explained to me yesterday afternoon that you need to be old enough to understand what is happening when you take the bread and wine, so it does seem like she is grown-up enough for this. Again I am reminded that we are not in the three-little-kids phase anymore! Just look at my beautiful girl!

(Now go back and look at what happened to The Boy's outfit during the course of the morning.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Agape Dinner

Last night, the 2nd graders celebrated their Agape Dinner. I learned that agape is a Greek word for love.

Coming home and looking it up on the internet, I found that there are (at least) three Greek words for love (eros, philia, and agape). Agape refers especially to selfless love or God's love for humanity.

Also on the internet, I learned that Agape feasts were common during the early period of Christianity, often centering around the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

The 2nd graders spent the whole school day in a retreat for their First Holy Communion. One of the things they did was bake bread with some of the third grade parents. They made a loaf of bread with a cross on the top. When they got to the Agape Dinner, their bread had been baked and was waiting at their place at the table.

The evening started with some scriptural readings and a toast to the children. They were instructed to open the little present that was on the table. It contained a small glass Blessing Cup, engraved with their own name. What a wonderful gesture! I was not aware of this tradition at the school, and was impressed. The toast to the children included a moment for the parents to speak to their child.

We ate a wonderful dinner, which was pot luck. Big Girl ate her entire loaf of bread during the proceedings (the two boys at our table did not eat even a bite of theirs).

Then the children sang a song for us, complete with choreography! Big Girl sang out loud and strong.

Each child was called up to tell us about the banner they had made. Some children had written out a little speech, which they then read for us, but most just spoke off-the-cuff. Big Girl went the figure-it-out-when-I-get-up-there route and told us about her family, her house, the wine and the bread.

When it was over, we carefully brought the wine glass home to enjoy for years and years. Including today!

We are very happy that the big day is finally here, less than 15 hours away!

Now, let's take a look at my list:
To Do:

Wash the girls' nice white sweaters (done! but we now know it's going to be hot)
Sheer white stockings are the wrong size, need to exchange (done!)
Make reservations for celebratory lunch (done!)
New dress shoes for The Boy (done!)
Trim the girls' bangs (done!)
Paint Middle Girl's toes (done! but we bought her different shoes anyway!)
Wrap gifts, write in the card (do this, then go to bed)
Pack extra batteries in the camera case (done!)
What will Mommy wear? (hmmmm...)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

American Idol does ALW

I don't watch American Idol, but we've seen it a little bit this year. I've seen one or two episodes from the last two seasons as well.

We just watched tonight's show of Andrew Lloyd Webber music. (Now that it's over, The Hubby is much happier 'cuz he's watching "Deadliest Catch.")

I have no small amount of affection for Andrew Lloyd Webber. First, I am a theater geek, musical theater in particular, and I was in my early teens when "Phantom of the Opera" came out. It was a very exciting time to be a teenaged musical theater geek. Second, in high school, I put together a revue of ALW music, held auditions, directed, choreographed, produced, was in the cast... I love his early work. (I hate "Phantom" now, and his later overly dramatic stuff, but when he was young, he was a groundbreaker. And he was not afraid to write fun stuff.) Third, he and I share the same birthday.

I have seen him mentoring young reality show contestants a few times now, and I am always impressed with how helpful he is and how much he roots for them to do well. The mentoring I saw tonight was not as good, though.

So, tonight's show.

I started watching at Brooke, so I missed Syesha and Jason, but I saw their recaps. Here's some of what I thought:

Syesha: WOO HOO! STARLIGHT EXPRESS! I like this song, although I thought this arrangement had too much going on. Good choice, though, because this song doesn't have the drama of some of the others and is more about the music and the style.

Jason: Memory. Poo. He really should have chosen something from "Joseph." That would have been a lot of fun. I love "Joseph!" Why didn't anyone do "Joseph?" Jason would have been perfect.

Brooke: Some crap song from the Evita movie. Boo hiss. ALW had lost his songwriting mojo by the time this movie was made, so this song blows. I can't wait to forget about this performance. I agree with some other bloggers that she should have done "I Don't Know How to Love Him." Or how about this one: "Love Changes Everything." She could have played the piano for it and it would have been quite nice.

David A.: High School Musical does "Think of Me." (But his re-do of it was actually much better than Disney's would have been. Big Girl has a CD called "Disney Mania 5" that is Disney Channel stars singing new arrangements of classic Disney movie songs. It is horrible, especially "Part of Your World" sung by Miley Cyrus. That one is abso-friggin-lutely UNLISTENABLE.) Ahem, where was I? Oh, yes. I really liked his version of this song, even though he is kind of "The Empty Vase" (name that reference). ALW seemed miffed, but who cares?

Carly: "Jesus Christ Superstar," to the surprise of NO ONE. And it was (apparently) ALW who made her switch from a ballad from "Phantom" (what was she thinking?). Yeah, she sounded good and it was the most rockin' (shock, it's his rock musical), concert-like song of the night. So why was it that all I was thinking the whole time was "this just shows how talented musical theater performers really are?" Because they can wail on that song, while dancing up a storm, and then do a gorgeous ballad later in the show, all while inhabiting a believable character. Pop singers, whatever dude.

David C.: Oh no he didn't. "Music of the Night?" And not re-arranged, either. The original, creepily dramatic, make-you-want-to-puke "Music of the Night." Would Bono ever sing "Music of the Night?" NO. I have thought every time I watch that there is something about this guy that is just... off. And tonight I think I maybe figured it out. He was wearing a long, flowy scarf around his waist while singing "Music of the Night." He doesn't know who he is. Look in his eyes. He has no idea. His eyes say, "please tell me who I am."

So. Many kids watch this show, and this is probably the first time they've heard these songs. Their reactions must have been completely different from mine, since I have lived with these songs so long that they have their own personalities, some of which I am over.
There were some real misfires, and some actually good ALW stuff that I think people would have really liked was not used.

And also, my husband and I are having a debate about whether they pick their own songs or are assigned songs. Anyone know?

I never watch the results show. What usually happens? Is someone going to sing more ALW music?



Dress for First Holy Communion made by Grandma
New shoes ordered from Zappos have arrived and they fit
Veil made by Mommy
Sheer white stockings purchased
Felt banner made by Big Girl (each 2nd grader made one; they will hang on the pews)
Khaki slacks purchased for The Boy
Navy blazer and light green tie borrowed for The Boy
The Boy's white button-down shirt ironed
Gifts and card purchased (Illustrated Bible and Rosary Bracelet)
Friends reminded about date and time

To Do:

Wash the girls' nice white sweaters (halfway done)
Sheer white stockings are the wrong size, need to exchange
Make reservations for celebratory lunch
New dress shoes for The Boy (just added to To-Do List; Daddy's request. Mommy thinks navy tennies are fine for three-year-old.)
Make salad for the Preparation Dinner potluck (Dinner is Thursday night; 2nd graders and their parents only)
Trim the girls' bangs
Paint Middle Girl's toes (she is going to wear flip-flop type shoes)
Wrap gifts, write in the card
Pack extra batteries in the camera case
What will Mommy wear?

Big Girl receives her First Holy Communion this Saturday morning. This will be my first time seeing this ceremony and I really have no idea what it will be like. Saying that she is excited about it is an enormous understatement. It is all anyone talks about around here! She is very involved in all of our preparations and wants everything to be perfect.

I think I am really going to learn something this weekend. I don't know what it will be, but I am intrigued!

Monday, April 21, 2008

while reading blogs today...

- The Boy slips, rolls down the tiny slope at the base of our front yard, and scrapes up his forehead and cheek on the sidewalk.

- Then I make them come inside.

- Reading, reading...

- Several different bloggers (and their commenters) are writing about things other bloggers do that are irritating. I did not realize there were "right" ways to do things.

- I come to realize that the front door is open. It turns out Middle Girl has gone out and is on the neighbors' front porch.

- I make them play in the back yard instead. (Lecture number 457 about not playing in the front yard unsupervised.)

- The neighbor rings the doorbell, because her daughter can see through the back fence that "Middle Girl is stuck by the pool."

- Then she presents me with Mom of the Neighborhood Award.

- Middle Girl and The Boy are both inside the gated pool area. The Boy is sitting with his legs (and therefore, sweatpants) in the pool. They have brought the bathroom stepstool outside and it is still sitting by the pool gate (it is a tall fence & gate, with a self-closing latch at the top) as evidence of wrongdoing. But it is on the outside of the gate and the children are now stuck on the inside. Lecture number 1 about using the step stool to open the pool gate (but not the first time we've discussed pool dangers; Dear Lord, I did not want to buy a house with a pool!).

- The Universe is trying to tell me something.

- Point taken. Posts in draft will stay that way.

- Please don't call the authorities.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Waste Less Living

This morning I mailed cards and gifts to my mom for her birthday, so that means Earth Day must be almost here!

I'd like to tell you about something that I think is really neat (and smart), and I'd love it if you'd spread the word about this!

A woman I know (Christy Lenches-Hinkel) from The Boy's Parent Ed class has started a home-based business called Waste Less Living. It only services this area, but it's a wonderful idea for anyone else out there looking to start up their own eco-minded business!

All of the services she plans to offer are designed to make it easy for people to generate less waste! So far, she has launched three of the many services she has planned: "Compost Starter Kit," "Eco-Water Starter Kit," and "Eco-Party Starter Kit."

The "Eco-Party Starter Kit" service recently got a write-up on Evite's blog! If you hire her to do your party, she provides the waste bins, plates, cups, utensils, napkins, etc. At the end of your party, she comes and picks up the waste and food scraps and composts it all! As an alternative to trash bags full of paper and plastic plates and cups, I just think it's fantastic!

Please check out her website and see what else you can find out!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

advice that works for me

Several years ago (wait, let me figure it out... aaaannnd.... got it! Five years ago), I was in a Parent Education class with Big Girl (in our town we have these wonderful free classes offered by the community college) and our teacher imparted a certain piece of wisdom during discussion one day.

I think the topic was discipline or tantrums or something. All the children in the class were turning three during the school year, so it was something about the difficulties of living with a two- or three-year old.

She said, "try to say yes."

For me, this sentence was jarring. Say "yes" to my toddler? But she is always asking to do things or eat things that just aren't appropriate! My whole day is "no, you can't have candy right now, I'm making dinner," "no, we can't go to the zoo, we have to get groceries," "no, you can't climb on that statue, we're in a museum," you get the idea.

So, how about changing it to:
"yes, you can have a piece of candy after we eat a good dinner"
"yes, we can go to the zoo tomorrow (or Saturday...), what animals do you want to see there?"
"I see that you want to climb; where do you think we should go to do some climbing?"

It sounds a bit Stepford-Mommy, I know; but it has really helped me. It doesn't help all the time, but it does cut back on the tantrums. Plus, it helps me stop being so serious, which is a good thing for me. Sometimes I lose perspective and feel like altering my plans for the day would be the end of the world. It helps me to take a step back, and see the bigger picture.

These kids will not be little for long.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

talking out both sides

I was killing time during the girls' gymnastics class, and started reading a book in a store. The book was "Alternadad," which you might actually know about (who knows?), since the author has a blog - also called Alternadad - but he only posts on a Parents . com blog that my once-over just now proclaimed "pretty darn good!"

The book is about the pregnancy and baby years, and how he got used to fatherhood. Sounds interesting.

I read a section about a parent-and-me gymnastics class he and his son enrolled in through a national chain of gymnastics schools.

It was not a glowing endorsement of the gymnastics class, to say the least. It was described as: horribly corporate school, sickeningly upbeat teacher, mind-bleeding music, and 'the kind of parents I hate to be around.'

I felt my hackles raise. My girls both took classes at this chain, before we switched to our current gymnastics school. The "corporate" place was wonderful for them, doing a great job of getting the girls to try physical activities in a nurturing, non-competitive environment. I have a lot of respect for a gymnastics place that is not trying to turn out prize-winning gymnasts, instead teaching children to enjoy exercising their bodies. This guy was bashing the place our family loves!

And besides, why is it that the 'hip' parents (or ones who try hard to show us all how 'hip' they are) have to loathe not only the usual kid activities, but also the parents who take their children to said activities? Some kids enjoy this, other kids enjoy that. How much does this really tell you about the kids' parents, I ask you? Just because you like something, or don't like something, doesn't tell you whether you would like parents who enjoy different family activities.

My girls love to take dance class. They have chosen that activity over soccer. I know a mom who thinks any parent who enrolls their daughter in ballet is dooming her to gender-roles-related issues. According to her, all parents need to put their daughters in sports, and if they put them in ballet, the daughters won't grow up to be strong, independent women.
Sheesh, this is so ridiculous to me. My girls like dance, and I respect their opinions. If I don't respect their preferences, what am I teaching my daughters? --That their opinions don't matter. Talk about unhealthy. This woman's daughter dresses up in princess and ballerina stuff when she plays at friends' houses, because she likes that stuff and her mom won't let her play that. To me, that's sad.

Anyway, back to that book. So I was all up in a huff about the bashing of the gym class and the other parents at the gym class.

Then I realized, he was taking the parent-and-me class. I refused to enroll the girls until they turned three because I did not want to be in the class with them. And it was for many of the same reasons that he didn't like the class! I would have felt ridiculous standing around with other parents singing silly songs about the balance beam, with my kid who wasn't interested in the planned activity but rather wanted to roll down the "cheese wedge." And that music is AWFUL!

Alright, I'll practice what I preach and cut this guy a break. Maybe he's not a poseur wanting to be hipper than the rest of us 'nauseating' parents. And maybe I'm really an alterna-mom wrapped up in an Ann Taylor LOFT package.

You never can tell.

Monday, April 14, 2008

every family needs a lump

One day last month, we all walked over to the football field and partook of an iconic March activity.

Flying a Kite!

Everyone got to hold the string!

The wind kept dying down, though, and we kept having to re-launch the kite. Everyone had to be patient and wait for the kite to be ready, then they could have another turn!

Wait, what's that lump on the ground? I'm sure that's someone "waiting patiently."

Our two non-lumps enjoyed chasing the kite!

Sometimes, when it was flying very high and the wind started to die out, Daddy would try maneuvering to keep it aloft. Sometimes Daddy covered a lot of yards during these maneuvers. He had two little companions running along with him.

But the lump did not move.

Heard at this point in the day: "Come here, shadow! I'm gonna get you!"

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic torch relay made its only North American stop on Wednesday, in San Francisco. (Hey! It's OK, it's not like anybody comes here for the news)

Because protesters disrupted the relay in London and Paris (where they pretty much shut it down), authorities in San Francisco changed the route at the last minute, trying to keep it away from the protesters.

What were they protesting? Students for a Free Tibet, among others, were speaking out about China's human rights record. This is a topic that needs attention and conversation. I agree that the Olympics provide a platform to address this important issue.
(After all, my brother was detained by the police in China when he was living there! That'll have to be a post for another day.)

But I couldn't help thinking about the relay runners.

These Americans had been selected for the honor of carrying the Olympic flame, which symbolizes peace and unity between nations, on part of its journey around the world in preparation for the Beijing Games this summer. And their loved ones were there to watch them run by, on the originally planned route.

When I was 11, the Olympics were in Los Angeles. We had lots of relatives staying at our house, attending the Games, and we went to events every day. I saw Mary Lou Retton win her gold medals, and my brother saw Carl Lewis win his - among many others! We saw a city come together and welcome all nations, even lightening up the traffic for the occasion. My 7-year-old brother traded pins with people visiting from around the world. Our parents did not want us to miss out on this experience! The first Olympic Games I remember was the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, on television. And only 6 months later, I was witnessing the volleyball and gymnastics live!

My father taught me about the history of the Games, and the great athletic achievements that had taken place. My young mind reeled at the idea of countries putting aside their differences to compete and respect each other through athletic competition. I make it an event to watch the Games every two years (now; they changed it and I have to get used to change). For me, it's appointment television for two solid weeks.

When the Olympic Torch Relay came through Orange County, my parents drove us out to some random intersection in the orange groves to stand along the side of the road with many other spirited people and see that flame go by. It was dusk, and that flame was beautiful. The runner was beautiful.

In 2000, I nominated my father to be a torchbearer in the American legs of the relay. They were taking online submissions, and I wrote about Dad, who taught me about great Olympic athletes as well as the importance of respect and tolerance - the Olympic ideal. I wrote about his giving nature, from his medical patients to his own invalid mother. I wrote about his reverence for the Olympic Games, which he passed on to his children.

He was not chosen, but other people were. Other people who were also submitted by loved ones who believe in the ideals of the Olympics. Just as this year, the few American runners in San Francisco were honored with this opportunity. And their loved ones were not able to watch them run by with that flame.

While preparing this post, I read a San Francisco Chronicle article about the runners; I am so impressed with their attitudes about the changed route. They appreciated their symbolic role as well as the motivations of the protesters. They do embody the spirit of the Olympic Games.

For coverage of San Francisco's Olympic Torch Relay, go here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What am I doing here?

I've been doing a lot of thinking today about what I read. Blogs, magazines, books, and actually, certain radio programs that I listen to -- places I turn to for information and entertainment.

What is it about certain writers that keeps me coming back for more?

And on a related note, what am I doing here, on this little sliver of internet?

This was brought on by a remarkable event I attended last night. I met a group of lovely people, who represent a variety of motivations and intentions for their own Voice on the internet.

How did this group come together?

Due to the efforts of one tall, thin, warm and inviting, open and authentic, clever and creative, beautiful woman named Georgia.

Some people were there because they have attended other local blogger meet-ups and know that you tend to meet some interesting people. Some people have blogs with sizable readerships. Some blog about politics, writing, tech ideas, advice, show business, psychology, personal and family topics. I feel lucky to have been able to talk with all of them: Kelly, Megan, Shayera, Melanie, Jennifer, Jason, Kimberly, Suebob, Mary, GloZell, Leah, Erin, and Glennis.

I relished hearing from all of these different viewpoints, and I am grateful to have learned about local blogs that I had not yet found, but I was there for one certain reason:

I am a BOSSY fan.

For me, it was much like going to an author event at a bookstore, because Georgia's blog is one that I read every. single. day.

It started last September, shortly after I started a private blog as a way to keep my far-flung family updated on my kids (I then started this blog in February).

I had been reading Catherine Newman's weekly column on for several years, which she then moved over to a blog. When I started my family-only blog, Catherine's was one of only three blogs I read, and the only blog author that I didn't know personally. Having started my own blog, I was feeling ready to participate in Comments. One commenter referenced blackbird's blog, so I clicked over and was very impressed with what I found. Blackbird is a keen observer of the world, and she writes about her observations with an honest and insightful voice. Hers is another blog I visit every. single. day, to see what she has been thinking about that day.

Blackbird has a blog link list on the side of her blog. Looking it over, I saw a name that caught my eye: "i am bossy." I HAD to click and find out!

And I was rewarded with this post. One of the funniest things I had read in a long time.

It was clear immediately: this woman can tell a story! And she tells those stories in a way that is unique in my experience, with a blend of pictures and words that hits me right in my funny bone. She is quick-witted and upbeat, with a distinct voice that is all her own. It was a thrill for me to meet her in person. Truly a thrill.

Please ignore my many chins. They seem to pop up
for photos - they are not this pronounced in person.

The group talked about blogging (a lot), as well as politics, education, what it's been like to go out on the road alone, who sings and who plays the cajon in a band, meeting a Cusack, sawdust cling, the ins and outs of each of our lives, and sweaty Skechers (here's a look at mine):

Georgia has moved on up the coast, but she and the other talented and interesting people I met last night have left me with many things to ponder, which I alluded to at the beginning of this post:

What is it about certain writers that keeps me coming back for more?
As I've been thinking about this today, I have noticed that in many cases, the writer seems like someone I would like to meet, have a conversation with, and in some cases, seems like someone I would be friends with. Anna Quindlen, Bill Simmons, Linda Holmes, Barbara Kingsolver, even Jane Austen. Radio hosts like Larry Mantle and Terry Gross. Bloggers like BB, Kim, Jen, both Rees, Kristin, Sarah, Mrs. G,Catherine, and of course, bossy.

What am I doing here, on this little sliver of internet? (In other words, why am I writing a blog?)
I think my first answer holds the key. I want to participate, I want to have a conversation with these people, I want to make friends.

I'm not a writer. I am a performer and a scientist; I don't think like a writer. I've never been a journal-keeper. I tried keeping one in college, but I ended up just writing year-end summaries. I want to keep a journal, especially since as I have gotten older and had more children, I can't remember much anymore. I think blogging keeps me motivated to journal my thoughts and memories in this space, since it's so easy, and you can include pictures, and because I also might make some friends in the process.

Georgia noted last night that as adults, we're always searching for the kind of friendships we had in college, when we'd all sit around through the wee hours, talking about anything and everything.

Yes! That is IT, exactly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Because Ree needs something to do in Chicago

Is Hotfessional's Chicago office computer fixed yet? No?

You can go see what kind of flower you are... There's a few minutes right there.

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Tulips are actually my favorite flower, but daffodils remind me of my husband. Well, actually they remind me of the way The Hubby makes me feel: happy.

We met in our freshman dorm. It was January. I enjoyed spending time with him, but I was hoping to meet lots of cute boys in college and not do the "boyfriend" thing. I had done that in high school - three years with one boy. It was time to Sow Some Wild Oats!

But the thing was, the more time I spent with him, the more time I wanted to spend with him. Try as I might to remain casual, I couldn't fight off my feelings very long. By Valentine's Day, I had fallen in love with him.

We became inseparable. During the times when we were apart (we did have to go to our classes, after all), I would find myself smiling as I thought about seeing him back at the dorm in just a few more minutes. As I walked through campus headed back one day, I saw that the daffodils had sprouted and were lining the walkway. There they were, with their sunny yellow faces in merry groups, looking like pure happiness amidst the end-of-winter weather.

They looked exactly the way I felt inside. Pure Happiness.

So, against campus policy (I know! what a rebel I am, right), I picked one daffodil and hid it inside my coat. When I got back to the dorm, I put it in a cup of water on his desk so he could find it when he got back.

Every year, I gave him the first daffodil I saw. (Did I miss one year? Doesn't matter, it was so long ago now that the story can be "every year!")

I still do. Because thinking about him still makes me feel happy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

smart, or smart-ass?

This made me laugh to the point of crying this weekend. And every time I thought about it again, it made me convulse in laughter all over again.

I found it in my daughter's "green folder," which the teacher sends home every Friday. It contains all schoolwork she has done during the week.

It was on a science "test" (she's in 2nd grade... no tests, really, just "assessments").

There are three pictures:


Which object do you think is the fastest? (Circle)

My daughter wrote: "Because the horse looks tired to me."

[laugh] [chortle] [snort]

Friday, April 4, 2008

100 Things About Me

1. My father is a physician.

2. My mother is a tap dance teacher. Before I was born, she was a math teacher.

3. I have one brother (younger).

4. My brother is a Chinese (Mandarin) teacher.

5. I was not raised with any religion. But my parents raised my brother and I to be empathetic, principled people who care about others as well as about the natural world.

6. No religion has really resonated with me, except once while reading about Humanism (which is not a religion).

7. I do believe that prayer is powerful.

8. I am very active in our church community.

9. The Hubby is Catholic. We married in the Catholic Church, we are raising our children Catholic, and we are sending them to our parish school. I sing in the choir and do a lot of volunteer work at our church, and I love our church community. Everyone is surprised when they find out that I am not Catholic.

10. I was born in Monterey, California. In case you're not familiar, it's pretty much Heaven On Earth.

11. Except that I was born in an army hospital since my Dad was stationed there at the time. So that might cancel out the Heaven. (Particularly for my Mom, who had to clean up her own hospital room.)

12. I don't remember the army, though. My Dad was out by the time I was two. Then we lived in Eureka, California and went out crabbing and walking in the redwood forest.

13. I returned to Monterey for one summer in college, when I worked at the aquarium, tried to start a research project at the lab, lived with two nice boys who were taking classes at the lab, and had the best group of co-worker friends from the aquarium. But our schedules were such that when I had the day off, they were working, and vice versa. It was good to have to find things to do by myself. I particularly remember one great day at Point Lobos.

14. Meanwhile, my boyfriend (The Hubby) was working for a winery (yay!) in Modesto (boo!).

15. I grew up in Orange County, California when there were still orange groves.

16. I love Disneyland, but I'm not a Disney freak. I just have lots of good memories there. I feel strongly that Disneyland is superior to Disney World, because it is the original. (Although I have never been to Disney World.)

17. I sing in cover bands. I have two rock bands, a jazz group, and an acoustic group.

18. I started performing in musical theater at about age 9. I didn't want to make it my livelihood, but I'm having trouble at this point in my life managing to have it as a hobby. My last show was four years ago, when I found out I was pregnant with The Boy. I miss it! I hope that some day, when I'm ready to get back into it, theaters will want to cast me again.

19. I took piano lessons as a kid. At present, I can play with my right hand only; I can't do both hands at the same time and still have to say to myself "All Cows Eat Grass" to read bass clef. In the summer before 7th grade, my piano teacher saw me in a show and suggested I do voice lessons with him instead of piano - he had been wanting to start teaching voice. During and after college, I had two other voice teachers who were much better teachers. I sometimes wonder what I would have achieved if I had had one who knew what they were doing when I was young.

20. I went to Stanford, and got two degrees (B.S. in Biology and M.A. in Education). Stanford is probably my favorite place in the world.

21. I met my husband in our freshman dorm at Stanford.

22. I was a teacher. (I am a really good teacher, because I like to break down concepts and figure out different ways to explain them. I like to discover different ways a person might think about them.)

23. I taught seventh grade science and a senior elective at an all-girls' private school.

24. I like 7th and 12th graders.

25. The first teaching job I had was as a dance teacher while I was in high school.

26. At Stanford, as an undergrad, I taught a Biology lab course.

27. When I was in high school, everyone thought I would be a performer or a writer. But I decided I wanted to be a marine biologist.
One who does theater as a hobby.
And has a family.

28. I found it frustrating to major in Biology with a bunch of hyper pre-meds in my classes.

29. One of my college professors told me I should apply to medical school.

30. I had one boyfriend nearly all through high school (although during my senior year he was away at college).

31. I had one boyfriend all through college.

32. The Hubby and I had a long-distance relationship between college and our wedding.

33. I sang a song instead of giving a toast at our wedding reception.

34. I had four maids-of-honor and no bridesmaids (or four bridesmaids and no maid-of-honor).

35. I have kind of lost touch with one of my bridesmaids.

36. Our wedding was in Oregon even though neither of us lived there at the time.

37. We went to London for our honeymoon.

38. I am a stay at home mom.

39. I worked when Big Girl was two years old. I worked at an aquarium two days a week. I had a long commute.

40. I was the first uniformed employee at the aquarium to be pregnant. (They had to figure out a maternity uniform because of me, which was a good thing because a few other employees were pregnant shortly thereafter.)

41. I stopped working at the aquarium a couple of months before Middle Girl was born.

42. I am NOT a scrapbooker.

43. I can never remember jokes.

44. I have a messy relationship with Writing. I am actually pretty good at it, if I take enough time. I have written some wonderful things, but it's tortuous. It involves several days of agonizing over word choice (I have a large vocabulary, but words don't come to me very well - I feel like I have to excavate them from my brain with a tiny pickaxe), getting up and walking around, sitting down again to write a sentence, thinking over that sentence as I walk to the kitchen for a spoonful of peanut butter, repeat, repeat, repeat, except this time maybe I'll have some applesauce. It is exhausting. And I have no time for this anymore. So I stick with stream-of-consciousness writing and crap grammar just so I can get something out. If I tried to actually write, I would never finish even a paragraph. Maybe when the kids are older? But then I will probably be back-at-work, so... no.

45. I hate crap grammar. When I see grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, they jump out at me and "make my neck itch." It's ironic, I know.

46. I used to be punctual, observant, and possessing of a photographic memory. Since my first baby started growing inside me, I have been none of those things.

47. I used to know all 75 of my students' names after just 2-3 days. Now, I can't ever remember ANYBODY's name. If I go back to teaching, I'll need them to wear nametags.

48. I am a sucker for flowers. Except carnations. (Never mind that my brother wrote a report in elementary school on "The Carnation: The Superior Flower.")

49. Flowers don't love me back. I don't have a green thumb; I have a withered brown thumb.

50. I like fonts! Much to my husband's chagrin, I have even spent a few hundred dollars one some particularly beautiful fonts.

51. I believe that your choice of font says a lot. It's like a party invitation. The design of the invitation, and the font, tell the receiver a lot about what kind of party it's going to be. I'm not a graphic designer, but I probably could have been one.

52. I don't much care for the font choices on Blogger.

53. My kids would love to eat only pasta and bread.

54. I am a perfectionist. But not about everything. (The Hubby told me to include: "You are selectively anal retentive.")

The Hubby also told me to include the following:
55. "You're a trendsetter but nobody follows you."
(hee - by which he means that I like things (TV shows, for example) before they get popular.)

56. "You don't like when they change things, like March Madness or the Pac-10 basketball tournament or the BCS Bowl Games. Also that they moved the Pac-10 football rivalries."

57. "You think people should never ever ever open presents on Christmas Eve."

58. John Cusack is my Secret Boyfriend.

59. I also love Matt Damon.

60. I do not like to cook.

61. I read at a young age. Big Girl did too, and Middle is becoming a reader as I type. I love to read books, but sadly, don't read much except blogs and magazines these days.

62. I have the best mother-in-law in the world.

63. I love redheads.

64. I love the movie "The Cutting Edge."

65. There was a period in my life when I watched hockey.

66. My third child was a surprise.

67. Thank God we had always talked about having three.

68. I only went to preschool for three days.

69. I don't like making phone calls.

70. My Dad is a sports fan, and so is The Hubby.

71. I don't like feet.

72. I LOVE(D) the feet of my own babies and toddlers. Want(ed) to eat them.

73. We have no family nearby. The closest is 300 miles away. Most are 900 miles away.

74. I think I want to go shopping, but then I am miserable. I think I might hate shopping.

75. I was once a contestant in a beauty pageant, because my high school boyfriend talked me into it.

76. I came in third.

Big Girl says:
77. "My Mom is the greatest! She's very nice."

78. "She has dark brown hair."

79. "She reads us a story every bedtime."

Middle Girl says:
80. "My Mom takes me to the park."

81. "I love my Mom."

82. "She calls me Peanut."

The Boy says:
83. "My Mom tells me I'm a Punkin."

84. "My Mom pushes me on the swing."

85. I fret too much that time is going by too quickly.

86. For a while, I had three cats. Now I have one.

87. For me, the most important political issue is the environment.

88. I think of myself as a good friend, but actually I am terrible at keeping in touch.

89. In college, my jobs included: research assistant (for an ecologist studying a grassland and for a neurologist studying posture and balance), aquarium educator, course assistant, Board Member of the theater group (as well as show staff and cast member), and I helped with whale research in Quebec and Australia.

90. With all three pregnancies, I did not "find out what I was having." I considered it with the third one.

91. When I was teaching, I helped design the new Middle School science building. Last month, nearly 8 years after leaving the place, I saw my old classroom. It made me sad that it is so sterile now. I had animals and aquariums and posters and student artwork up all over. Science should stimulate the mind!

92. I do not have a teaching credential. A Master's degree in Education from Stanford, but no teaching credential. You could say I slipped through the cracks.

93. I had a student, B, who loved science, but didn't get the best grades. As she went through her high school science classes, I made sure that she didn't get lost in the system. I spoke to her science teacher at the start of each new year, advocating that they put some extra effort into this kid, because she could become a scientist. I made sure she never found out about what I did. She went to Texas A&M where she studied Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and is now in vet school. I am so proud of her! I have lots of other students who pursued science and medicine, but none who worked as hard to do so.

94. When I was pregnant the first time, I didn't stop taking my Hip-Hop dance class until my 7th month. It was kind of fun being the pregnant lady in a room full of youngsters, and keeping up with them!

95. Besides ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop, I have also taken Irish dance. I won an award at a feis (Irish dance competition).

96. When we were kids, my mom thought my brother would become a scientist, and I would do something with languages, as those seemed to be our academic strengths. It turned out exactly the opposite. You never can tell!

97. I love my husband's (extended) family, but after 15 years with them, something happened this past Christmas that makes me uncomfortable around them.

98. I have only been a bridesmaid once. And that time, I was not standing up with the rest of the bridal party, because I was singing and dealing with my flower-girl daughters.

99. When I was in 7th grade science class, I used to make sure I answered one or two questions wrong on the test so that my teacher would not announce that I had the highest score. A few times, I had the highest score anyway. I almost just deleted that last sentence.

100. I failed my driving test the first time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Four Things Meme

I've been tagged for a meme this time!

It was the Snooty Primadonna who tagged me.

Four Films I'd Watch Again:
The Spanish Prisoner
Searching for Bobby Fischer
The Bourne Identity
Sense and Sensibility

Four Places I've Lived:

(Actually, I wrote those because my original list seemed boring:
Monterey, California
Eureka, California
Orange County, California
Portland, Oregon)

Four Television Shows I Watch:
How I Met Your Mother
The Office
The Amazing Race

Four Things I Like to Eat:
Lamb chops

Four Places I'd Rather Be:
On stage
A seat in the audience of a Broadway or West End show
On a boat

Four People I'm Tagging:
and You. (I am seriously thinking of "tagging" the four people in my family)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Where Should We Go?

That is a dangerous title... Stop thinking that.

The Hubby and I decided a few years ago to "go away somewhere" for our 10th Anniversary. Well, that didn't happen. But we did manage to secure babysitting in June this year (Thanks, Mom!) so we are going to do it, better late than never!

Now, where to go?

We have lots of places we'd love to go, some that we've been to before but want to go back and do it up right, and some that we've never been to.

However, now that it's time to actually plan it, Hubby has a few requirements:

"I can't take too much time off of work, since I just took a week off in March."
"I don't want to go somewhere with a bad exchange rate."

This eliminates quite a few places. Like, oh, all of Britain and Europe!!!
And anywhere that takes a while to get to, like Australia, Africa, Asia...

So... we are going to be talking to a travel agent, but I'm coming to you first... tell us where to go! We would be departing from LAX.

Anybody been to Costa Rica? Alaska? Niagara Falls?
Good ideas in Canada? (I've been to Quebec City, which is lovely, and is a possibility) Do you have a favorite US destination?

This one's for Sarah O.

from Lemon Life. She posted a Patti Smith song today.

Which made me think of "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall.

I have posted about KT Tunstall before, which is not surprising since basically I just want to BE her. That sentence sucks.

In the words of Wikipedia:
The song itself is a tribute of sorts to musician/songwriter Patti Smith who inspired Tunstall's career in music.[1] The lyrics describe Tunstall looking at Smith's picture in a magazine and, admiring her fame and accomplishments, suddenly realizes what she wants to do with her life.

I sang both of these songs ("Suddenly" and "Black Horse") at my gig on Saturday night. The crowd requested "Black Horse" AGAIN at the end of the set!!! Woot!

Wednesday wish

Here's to feeling better today than I did yesterday.