Monday, December 21, 2009

Hey Walt, More the Kool-Aid please

Our latest trip to the happiest place on earth has done nothing but increase my desire for (almost) all things Disney. We buzzed down last Wednesday to spend Hazel's 9th birthday. Secretly, I'm thankful that no one takes us up on our offer to tag along, because I go early, go hard and stay late. I'm like a sorority girl on a mission. I'm not leaving with out the mouse. To put it mildly, this trip I got lucky. Not only did we get picked to be Guest Performers in Tiana's Showboat Jubilee but we also managed to secure VIP seating for the opening night of California Adventure's electrical parade. For every minute since we left, I've had to bite my tongue to not start yapping about planning our next trip. My retirement plan now includes the possibility of becoming a Fairy Godmother cast member.

Here's the girls at the entrance. They're impressed, because this tree looking strikingly similar to the one in our living room.

We always ride Space Mountain first. Notice how no one else is in our car? That's because I open the park. Here we are at 7:03 am.

People are always leaving backpacks lying around, if you get lucky you might find one with a wallet full of cash -cause those little umbrellas will run you close to $20 each.

Here's the afore mentioned Tiana's Showboat Jubilee when we were mere spectators.

And here are the girls as the stars of the show. Hold all autographs please.

Hazel asked me if I thought she wore a wig.

Somebody is still trying to get out of the carpool lane. Should have worn high heels.

I tried to force the girls THREE times to ride the Maliboomer. The first time we left the line because someone had to go potty. After that, not once but TWICE the ride malfunctioned and required a restart. I took it as a sign that we shouldn't be shot 180 feet into the air.

Aunt Tracie drove 50 miles, which in LA can take you over three hours, to meet us for dinner, It's A Small World, Big Thunder Railroad, fireworks and the accompanying impromptu holiday snowstorm.

We ended the adventure by trying to capture an image worthy of I've got great kids, I need a better camera.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What To My Wondering Eyes

I'm a sucker for someone else's gift guide or product reviews. So thank you if you assembled one. I'm sure I checked it out and probably made a purchase. Here's a sneak peak at some of the things that are going to be under my tree.

For your parents:

Whirley Pop. We love this popcorn popper. I picked up mine at a garage sale. Then I used the company's lifetime warranty to replace the top after our extreme use. How awesome is that? I got a new top and only had pay the shipping. (Hush if you think this is bad form. I resulted in more sales. The goal of product manufactures the world over.) Popcorn has become our snack of choice and there is a difference using this pan v. the same one you boil pasta in. This year, both of Erik's parents will be getting their pop on. Hopefully, they'll enjoy it as much as we do. Oh, and I got Erik some fancy popcorn spice toppings for stocking stuffers from Sur La Table. I passed on the dill pickle flavor.

For your daughter, niece, friend- anyone celebrating a significant milestone.

No. 9 Necklace. Hazel Bean is turning 9 in a few days. I spied something similar at the Alameda boutique Modern Mouse, but they only had a 7. After being inspired to buy her a necklace commemorating her last year as a single digit, I found this one on Etsy and I love it. I hope she does too.

For people who are hard to buy for:

Your favorite photo printed on canvas. Look for this in Lonah's ultra modern and grey pallet stocking. We love this picture of the girls. It hangs as a photograph in our kitchen. After commenting on it at Thanksgiving, I decided to up the ante and get it printed on canvas for my mom. We're having the man with the Coke photoshopped out of hers. I think I'm going to love it so much I'll wish I'd bought 2. Take one of your favorite photos and have it printed on canvas. I guarantee it will be a real crowd pleaser.

For yankees and stylish sisters-in-law.

Erik's little sister lives in Vermont. She incredibly beautiful and fashionable and smart and kind. I really think she'll like this handmade cowl. I considered a hat, but I thought this was really unique and cool. I have reputation for hitting it out of the park with gifts for her, so lets hope I don't strike out. Britta, do you read my blog?

For fancy lady friends:

Another purchase that I was pointed to via Dooce's gift guides. These are Poetic Shoe Clips in Red. Or, they're cute little things that clip into shoes to take your outfit up a notch. Yesterday, Hazel was making fun of me because I occasionally point out the ease of assembly of some crafty items when we shop. She thinks my middle name should be "I Could Make That." The real humor, is the fact that yes I could, but I rarely do. Before I pushed purchase on this one, I thought there were probably little hair accessories that could double as shoe clips at a fraction of the cost and the words "I Could Make That" floated through my head. These are another present for Lonah. Kinda going out on a limb, but she was just saying she likes to add color to her wardrobe.

For little Monkeys:

Ugli Dolls and Paul Frank our very popular in our house. But we've reached a point where the collections have grown to a sizable mass and there's the chance of duplication. Lula has a single Sock Monkey stuffed animal that has become her go-to toy as of late. I was looking for something to help expand her collection by 50% and bam! found this cute little guy. That's right friends, I can fill in a search box like nobody's business. My cynical side, gives it a few weeks to fall into the lost or broken category. But seriously cu-ute!

For everyone who has an iPhone and people you might still be to be married to this time next year and me:

I quickly ordered multiples of this little gadget. One for me. One for Erik. One for ? Of course now I wish I'd scooped up a few more of the iPhone Backup Battery Pack. I can't tell you how many times I could have used an little extra charge on my phone this past year. It doesn't happen every day, but when you're traveling or out until the wee hours a little boost is a lifesaver. It's only a fifteen dollars and what I would have given to have access to maps, or my email or a good attorney my husband. Let's just cancel the appearance on Dr. Phil call a this what it is, The Marriage Saver.

Well there you have it? I could add a few more mundane items - but I need to work. What do you think? What are you excited to give this year?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'll have what he's having

I told you about how my husband (nearly) won The Biggest Loser competition at his office, remember? I was thinking about what he eats.

1) Apples. Morning, noon and night. (Breaburn, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Fuji). We move through apples. I've got the cores to prove it. I read somewhere - if you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're really not hungry. I believe this. I don't often follow it, but you have to admit it makes sense.

2) Yoplait Yogurt. The stuff with lots of flavors and very little calories. I put these in the girls' lunches and half the time they return uneaten. Almost every morning, I clean a few empty containers off the coffee table.

3) Fake meat. He started our with veggie burgers. To mix it up –we'd try a new brand. Wheeeee. Nowadays, we're partial to the Fantastic Foods brand of box mixes. We've got a stockpile of their Chili. It's a soy product and it's great. Quick. Healthy and yum.

Good grief. I'm boring.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Par for the course

As you can imagine, I've been following the Tiger Woods car accident with peaked interest. Erik plays quite a bit of golf, so I've had the pleasure of watching many a championship golf tournament where Mr. Woods did quite well over the years.

The other night, when the story was still in it's infancy, I attended a Christmas party. I made conversation with Erik's co-workers and I kept telling my Tiger joke to anyone who would listen.

My Tiger Woods Joke © by Vanessa

Me: Did you hear about Tiger Woods?
You: You mean the car accident?
You: Yeah, he had sex with a cocktail waitress?
You: You mean his affair?
Me: No, today he shot 7 under par.


I seriously thought this was hilarious.

The story continued to unfold, and it got a little more serious and a lot less funny. Then the universe decided to send my husband on a business trip all next week. He's not taking his golf clubs or Ambian® and it's not Vegas. He's taking his snowboard and his Tylenol PM. Maybe he'll come home with a trophy and one of those really big checks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coming Soon To a Dateline Investigates or Lifetime Original Movie

I'm a voracious reader. Here are three stories I devoured over the weekend that keep popping up in my mind:

The nerdy guy in High School isn't what he used to be.

A father and his autistic son go for a swim. A two day, narrowly survivable swim.

There's so much anxiety surrounding High School reunions. This guy found out the hard way that some things never change. Or save dressing up like a Marine for Halloween.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Throwing In The Towel

I'm off the NaPoBloMo train. It was a combo of The Swine Flu (which was really a 24 hour stomach bug) and my long leashed husband's wild night on the town. I wasn't really blown away with any of my posts and found myself often just throwing something up and promising to give it more thought on the morrow. *sigh*

I am enjoying Evany's and Twisted Susan's daily posts. Do you have any recommends for some new and awesome blogs I should be reading?

Looking forward, I'm tickled pink about our upcoming trip to Disneyland for Hazel's birthday. I made reservations to stay on property at the fancy Grand Californian Hotel and at the Blue Bayou restaurant which is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. (This is similar to French Laundry on my own personal Mighty Life List.) Crazy excited.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Little Piggy

Yeah, I know it's almost smack dab in the middle of NaPoBloMo so of course Hazel and I may or may not have The Swine Flu. I know that everyone under the sun is calling any kind of sickness The Swine Flu. This morning I was calling it food poisoning and blaming Taco Bell, but see what twelve hours can do? Turn a stomach bug into The Swine Flu. I still went and volunteered at school today because at the time (and still) I didn't have a fever and I'm scared to death of messing with the established schedule for the Art Docent program I've volunteered for with another mom. Today's topic was artists painting birds. Last month I moved the date all around trying to accommodate my work schedule. I think I irritated all parties: the other mom, the teacher, the student teacher and even the people at work. So today, sickness be damned we're drawing birds! Wonder how they'll all feel about me if I've exposed them to The Swine Flu.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nice To Meet You

A while back, the girls and I were invited to a party. It was described as a party for Big and Little girls. We got dolled up and walked over to the house. The host was a mom of one of the girls' school friends. I was quite excited and expected to see many of the mothers I knew from school. However, when we arrived I nervously scanned the faces for someone familiar and came up short. I was introduced to the women gathered around the table, but the names came at me quickly - and in the melting pot in which we now live, I don't get the standard name fare that I'm accustomed to having grown up in Texas.

"You know Lumpia, don't you?" I was asked.

Having just been introduced to a bunch of women, I didn't want to seem rude or ignorant. Drawing all the cues I could from the situation I made eye contact with the woman across from me and mustered up an enthusiastic explanation.

"Oh, yes!" I replied, "We met at school."

The table erupted in laughter. Lumpia is not person. It's a Filipino spring roll.

The story is poignant to me today, because it seems like for all my efforts, I still come up short on so many fronts. Take blogging: I'm still trying to format Monday's post so that it's legible. Or Tuesday's post where I left the 'h' of the http:// on the link. (Now fixed.) I guess there are just some people who are destined to walk through life with toilet paper stuck to their shoes. The least I can do, is to keep trying with a smile on my face and some spring roll stuck between my teeth.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I've lost control

It happened slowly, over time. At first, I hardly noticed and then after a few weeks it became achingly obvious. After receiving the emails, I'd vow to get back on track. But before long I wasn't even opening the envelopes. Oh, Netflix where did we go wrong?

Here's a list of the 100 Best Films of the Decade via Kottke.

My queue better watch out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Loose Lips

"I tell Lindsey all my stories." Lula said.

My head starts reeling. Imagining all the tales that our seven year old reports to the staff of her after school program. The good. The bad. The ugly.

"She thought it was hilarious." Snapped me back to a hopeful reality, but I still feel a bit uneasy.

Here's the story:

The girls are engaging Erik in a rousing game of who do you like better? Failing to get an answer, they continue to plead, "C'mon, Daddy. Tell us, who's your favorite?"

Erik looks thoughtfully at them both. "Neither" he snaps, "I hate you both."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Halloween 2009

The week before Halloween the girls attended their school carnival.

As a pirate and

And a bunch of grapes.

Then we went to the Small Dog Park Halloween Parade

ChaCha was The Money You Could Be Saving With Geico.

On Halloween the girls were robots (again)

Erik and I, recreated this cannibal pumpkin. Here's the picture we took of a picture from a book where we stole got the idea. Ours won the carving contest, but we forgot to take a picture of the actual gourd.

I had toyed with being The Morton's Salt Girl for years. Here I am with my friend Sunny who dressed up as Cher.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Substitute Teacher FAIL

As I reported for duty for my second day of substitute teaching, I was greeted by some rather unsettling news from the principal.

"I need to talk to you about one of the instruments that was DESTOYED during band class under your watch." he said.

Ain't that just one for the memory books. My glorious teaching career is already off the tracks before day two.

He actually used the word DESTROYED. Not damaged. Or cracked. Or broken. DESTROYED.

I'm really hoping it's a harmonica. Or a triangle.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

For Magpie & Others

You want to see the shirt/outfit -- I know you do.

We're just home from an amazing night out in the city. The modeling gig the girls had for a local illustrator had a gallery opening this evening. Then we met up with Erik, stopped by the Paul Frank store and went out to eat at the Squat and Gobble. I've got to wrangle the girls to bed and get everyone, including myself, to school by 8:00 am.

Tomorrow I'm back at the middle school to sub for the algebra teacher. Here's the shirt, in leu of a black cardigan I've covered myself with a cute kid.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Out of the will - again

My mom loves presents. Loves, loves, loves presents. Many a holiday, birthday and court ordered visitation has been ruined over empty handedness. So if I am wise and want anything resembling peace, I know that I had better come bearing gifts. I've also learned, I should show and exagerated and repeated gratitude for anything that happens to come my way.

So when I was unpacking the girls' suitcases Monday, I came accross the gift for me that my mom had already mentioned at least five times. "I got you a present!" she repeatedly trilled. I opened the bag and immediatly called to thank her. I mentioned it again, before we hung up the phone.

When she brought it up on Tuesday, I tried my best to gush. But truth be told, it was difficult to muster much excitement.

Tonight, she began inquiring about the gift again. "Have you tried on your OUTFIT?!!?" she asked. I was feeling a bit under the weather, short of patience, tired of the rediculousness of it all.
"Mom, it's a shirt." I said. "It's obvously something you bought for yourself. It's bedazzled. It's a Medium. It's sleeveless. It's not my style. It looks like something one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta would wear."

She was almost speechless, but managed to snarl, "You need to change your style!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One, Two, Three, Four - One, Two, Ready, Play

You'll never guess what I did today. I can hardly believe it myself.

I was a substitute teacher. And not just any substitute teacher. I was a substitute BAND teacher.

Earlier in the year, when advertising freelance was slow, I started going through the process to get certified to be a sub in our school district. I took and passed the CBEST - California Basic Education Skills Test. I got fingerprinted. I had a TB test. I paid fees. I ordered my college transcripts. At times, it seemed a bit daunting, espcially when I heard that the demand was at an all time low.

When my phone rang today, I would have never imagined that I spend the day counting to a few hundred middle school students trying to coax them through the first few notes of Jingle Bells. The thing about a few hundred middle school kids with instruments is that they ALL MAKE A LOT OF NOISE. A LOT! And I'm not even going to mention the percussion section. I swear the percussion section swells when there's a sub. Suddenly, everyone plays the drums. And they'll play the drums with anything they can find.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

So we all survived the girls flying solo. They arrived home safe and sound 35 minutes ahead of schedule earlier this afternoon. Southwest charges a $25 unaccompanied minor fee each way, for each child. I'm not really sure what that extra fee gets you? Apparently, a gate agent that walks your kid up and down the ramp. Or maybe the pass through security that allows you to accompany your child to the gate. There was paperwork. I scanned the small print and found out that if the designated adult isn't at the destination to pick up your child, the airline will fly them back to the departure city. I liked the sounds of that. Thought it beat the alternative of - we will call CPS and you will end up on the 5 o'clock news with your picture smattered in trashy magazines right next to Jon Gosselin.

And you know, Southwest isn't messing around. Did you hear about the two year old they kicked off the plane last week?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let's Do This Thing

Two years ago, I participated.

I'm feeling up for the challenge. Wondering if I should try and tackle putting into words the things that have been heavy on my mind, crank out a few chapters on a book idea I've been toying with or bore you to tears with random observations?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ironically, It's Payday

Yesterday, I was excercising on of my very special talents, salary negotiations. Mind you, not for myself, for myself I would describe the process as anxiety filled and a bit bumbley. However for others, my advisement on such subject has helped many a few people seccure the pay they had hoped for v. the pay they were offered. Here's the basic rules:

1) Always try to get them to throw out a number first. They'll usually give you a range, of which the higher number is where you start your negotiations.

2) Have a number you want in your head - then add 20% or if you are a woman 30%.

3) If your forced to say the number first, always say a number HIGHER than what would make you happy. It's their job to offer you less, so go big and you'll settle at a figure that you'll be pleased with.

The exchange with my friend took place via Instant Message and as most all things reguarding money, we tried to tiptoe around the actual amount in question. At one point, sensing maybe I was off in my suggested salary price and trying to cover up what might have been a misstep I said:

Me: What do I know? I just freelance and mom.

He: What does momming pay?

Me: It pays in eyerolls and the occasional hugs.

The girls are out of town, so later today I'm going to try to gather up all those eyerolls and hugs and take them to the bank for a big deposit.

I remember when the girls were tiny babies and they moved from 3 naps a day to 2. And then 2 naps a day to 1. I would say to anyone who would listen, and even those who didn't --

Me: They've increased my hours but not my pay.

I felt so cheated.

I really think juggling kids and work is impossibly hard. I see how it could be easier for those that salaries permit them to have a fulltime Nanny - even and especially after children grow beyond babies and become kids with busy schedules and commitments of their own. Or those with family that can step in to pick up children when something unexpected happens like say, an 18 Wheeler Overturns or a cable snaps and closes The Bay Bridge. I often think that the hardest part of my day is when I leave work and rush like a madwoman to catch what ever public transportation gets me to the girls before the pick up deadline of 6pm. I feel envious eyes watching me leave work - usually a full 15 minutes after the time I've allowed myself to make the mile+ walk to the bus or boat. These eyes are replaced with dubious glares at the wall clock from the staff that run our amazing after school program. It's so difficult to know that your doing the best you can and trying to get it all done and the still yet, everywhere there are doubters.

Monday, October 26, 2009


On my huge list of to-do items that I keep postponing was the task of renewing my blog domain name. Realizing that it expires tomorrow, I hastely called up my good friends (with questionable taste in advertising but excellent customer service) at Go

The voice on the other end of the line asked me for my ID number. A series of digits I have stored somewhere right next to all the other things I can never find. So he asked the next question, "What is your domain name?"

"Am I doing okay." I replied.

"Uh?" he paused audibly confused. "I didn't ask. Um, I need to know, what is your DOMAIN name?" he inquired again.

"Am I doing okay." I replied again. Stifling laughter and thinking this was the best gag of my day.

And a few questions and a series of different digits later, Am I Doing is renewed for five more years. That's 2014.

All this and I'm good with math.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


So my desire that blogging lead to something bigger and better has somewhat come to fruition. Over the next few months, I'll be working on an exciting project that will allow me to get paid for all my social media experience. Hurrah! Unfortunately, I won't be going to Austin for Halloween like I had originally planned. I'm sad to not get the chance to see my bloggy friends and celebrate the birth of babies and see my mom. I'll miss my girls like crazy as I put them on a plane to fly solo for the first time. My biggest fear is after flying alone they'll never want to go on a trip with me again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Very Good Question

A few weeks ago the girls and I were forced to repeatedly use a Port-O-Potty. That's music festivals, for you. So as we struggled to escape the clutches of being a bit to close to everyone else's excrement, I doled out some hand wipes.

"Here, wipe your hands!" I instructed. "They kill 99.9% of all germs."

And then Hazel asked, "Mommy, what's the .01% of germs it doesn't kill?"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Confusion On The Street Corner

I'm on the phone with my mom this morning when I hear her suddenly say:

My Mom: No! No, no, no, no, no. No!!!

I wasn't quite sure if she replying to whatever I had said or just spouting out answers. Luckily she went on to explain:

My Mom: This man just came up to my car window and asked me for a cigarette.

My mother doesn't smoke. As I'm mulling over the idea of this exchange in my head, she offers up an alternative:

My Mom: Maybe he wanted the marijuana.

My mom always (always, always, always) refers to weed as the marijuana. I find the idea of either scenario absolutely ludicrous. I begin questioning her about her location.

My Mom: I'm on the corner by the CVS. He looked drunk. He just came up to the car window and stuck his fingers up to his mouth in a "v".

That's when it all started to make sense.

Me: Mom, was he sticking out his tongue?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The State Of The Marriage

Last week, I stood in the expansive personal hygiene aisle of a big box store. Staring back at me were thousands of toothbrushes in every shape, model, make and manufacturer. Some spun. Some vibrated. Some offered to scrape my tongue. In every color imaginable, it was a rainbow of choices. But I wasn't there for me. Oh, no. Erik had casually mentioned that he needed a new toothbrush and I was on a wifely mission to make it happen. Flanked with our children, I gazed at all the packaging. It really all came down to the size and firmness of the bristles. Full or compact. And soft or firm. I made my selection, confident that Erik's and his teeth would be clean and happy.

That night, he noticed the new orange brush sitting on the edge of the sink. He picked up the toothbrush and examined the writing.

"Compact? Firm?" he questioned. "We've known each other for over 16 years."

I bought the exact opposite of the kind of toothbrush my husband prefers. And it wasn't the first time. I also make this error with toilet paper. Let the divorce decree show, I slowly tortured him by erroneously purchasing incorrect health and beauty products.

I felt bad about this mistake. How hard is it to remember simple details? Apparently, for me - impossible. Maybe I need one of those scraps of paper in my wallet but instead of sizes it has crib notes that say: Soft. Full. Northern.

Saturday night after a fun family trip to another big box store, my husband asked me what I was unpacking from one of the bags. I turned around with a new & improved box of odor & dirt eliminator for carpet & room. (Package design bonus points for positioning three ampersands on the same package panel.) From across the kitchen he held up a matching box. We had both added the same product to the cart.

"What fragrance?" I inquired. Remembering that I had mulled over the options in the aisle finally selecting one that conjured up images of an April shower.

"Spring Rain" he replied.

Yes! I celebrated to myself. At least we're still on the same page with smell goods.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where'd the maid go?

I struggle with housework. I like to think that the me living in an alternate universe, lives in a very orderly, clean flat. (Apparently the me in another universe lives in London and she has found a signature hairstyle.) The real me, has all the abominations of an American hausfrau - clutter, chaos and three kids who don't pick up after themselves. (I included my husband in that count.)

I'm very good at coming up with a system. I just struggle with sticking to said system. A few years ago, everyone was responsible for a "room". One room. Every day, you cleaned your room. Erik had the kitchen. Lula had the bathroom. Hazel did the bedroom she and Lula shared. And I was in charge of the Livingdiningmasterbedroom. This prompted my mother-in-law to say, "You must be alot of fun to live with." And I really don't think she was kidding.

A few weeks ago, I tried the write-rooms-on-tiny-scraps-of-paper-and-pull-one-out-of-the-jar routine. I added one blank "free choice" slip. And one "computer" slip. Then I set the timer for 10 minutes. Lula pulled the "computer" slip on the first try and got to spend ten minutes playing games on At that single moment in time, we both felt like I was the smartest mom in the universe. This game went along swimmingly for over 40 minutes, drawing different slips in ten minute increments. Just when every room was starting to show signs of cleanliness, we ran out of steam. Still it felt somewhat like success.

After barking orders like a drill sergeant one day. "Pick up those shoes! Pick up that backpack! Is that where your toothbrush belongs?" Lula explained that it was much more effective to write down exactly what needed to be done v. rattling off a list that was hard to keep straight. "Brilliant!" I trilled. (Using my alternate English accent.) Behold the Sunday list:

I'm particularly fond of #5, Talk Nicely. It doesn't do the laundry, but it makes the picking it up off the floor a lot less stinky.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Perfect 10

Once I heard a woman describe her son and his girlfriend as a "10". After the initial Bo Derek image cleared my brain, she went on to explain that her son was shaped like a "1" and his girlfriend was shaped like a "0". Son = long and lean. Girlfriend = rotund. Thus, when they walked into the house together, she thought they looked like a moving number 10.

This year my husband participated in not one, but TWO Biggest Loser competitions at his office. The first was mostly girls and informal but he had great success losing close to 30 pounds. The second was testosterone filled and fueled with a $2K prize pot. Again, he managed to shed many pounds and placed second in the largest percentage of body fat lost category. The Miss Congeniality of weight loss competitions.

Erik has radically changed his lifestyle and eating habits. I mean, this is guy who used to order a Budweiser with a whiskey back, hours before the porterhouse. He's moved from a bigger Don Draper to somewhat of a Lance Armstrong without the spandex and while keeping his testicles intact. The chicken wing lover survived on veggie burgers and egg whites and popcorn. Last weekend he finished a 5K and then came back around to cheer me on lagging many minutes behind.

So yeah, I'm very concerned we might be looking like a "10". I've always had a fear of being in a Jack Sprat kind of relationship. I'm going to set my sights on us becoming an "11". In the meantime behold his before and after.

You can read about the GSP Hey Fat Ass competition here. His final posting is here. If you have the time, would you leave a comment on his post. I think it would be funny if got a bunch of comments from people he doesn't know.

Now excuse me while I go find a treadmill and some tofu.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sorry About The Thunderstorms Austin

Half the people who know me, have no idea how cool I am. (So cool, that I had retype the word cool 3x to get it right.) Right now, I'm licking my thumb and placing it near my rear and making a sizzle sound effect. I'm that cool.

I used to brag that I had the dubious honor of attending the Austin City Limits Music Festival every year. Every. Single. Year. Don't try and top me, because that first year - there were like three people there (okay 300) and I was related to half of them.

Then it got all popular. And crowded. And the lines, good grief the lines. And the heat. And the dust. And suddenly my ticket didn't have those special little letters: VIP on it. And my kids got too big to stick in stroller or wagon and push to the front of the stage. And they kept begging to play in the sand at the volley ball courts. Do you know how impossible it is to throw your panties on the stage from the volley ball courts - aka Austin Kiddie Limits? I tried once and they ended entwined around Clifford The Big Red Dog's head. Head's up - back stage with Clifford, not as crazy as you might think. He's all straight edge, organic kibble, pro-cat nap. Booooorrrrring.

So after Amy Winehouse cancelled in '07, I kind of lost interest. (Not true) I bought tickets for this year last October. But I felt a huge pang of disappointment when they announced the headliners and they turned out to be the exact same headliners playing the Outside Lands Festival right here in Golden Gate Park. I like to think every music festival is some special cosmic gathering reminiscent of the original Woodstock v. pre-arranged corporate scheduling sponsored money making event. Then I found out the amazing Hardly, Strictly, Bluegrass Festival was scheduled for the exact same weekend. Here's the thing about HSB - it is FREE!!! FREE!!! FREE!!!!

All my people will be there: Lyle, John Prine, REK, Emmylou, Old 97's, Steve Earle, Drive-by Truckers, Old Crow Medicine Show on and on. And even MC Hammer.

Before you go poking fun and asking some silly "would I like some country with my western?" jokes, let's remember two things. One, I'm from Texas. I'm more Texas than most of the people who will actually be at ACL this weekend. (Ironically, most of the out-of-towners will be from California.) Two, it's supposed to rain ALL WEEKEND LONG in the 512. So, I will think of you, while I'm drinking store bought beer in an ACL '02 koozie that I am allowed to bring into the park to my free concert surrounded by redwood trees and in return, I hope that the umbrella you hold over your head during Pearl Jam doesn't get struck by lightening or wielded wildly and ends up poking someone in the eyeball. Deal?

This does not mean that I will be disappointed if you buy me a T-shirt.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Forgetting Something

A few Saturdays ago we were getting ready to go to a party. Lula was very particular about her party dress. And her party shoes. She spent extra time on her hair. Glossed her lips. Even packed a small purse. She hippity-hopped through the living room while I gathered up keys and bags. I had that Miss Clavel feeling that something wasn't right.

"Lula, are you wearing underwear?" I asked.

She took a flying leap down the hall and answered, "Almost."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

License and Registration

Erik and I went together to exchange our Texas drivers licenses for California. Ten business days later, only mine arrived in the mail. After weeks of waiting and one failed phone attempt resulting in being on hold for over two hours, we went back down to the DMV.

When it was finally our turn, the woman worker was able to determine that Erik's license had been returned to the Post Office. Diligently making sure that Erik was indeed the man he claimed to be the woman asked where Erik had held other driver's licenses:

New York

And, she inquired, where have you gotten tickets?

New York

He quickly rattled in a reply.

Where else? She asked.

I could tell he was slightly taken aback.

Ummmm. He said. South Dakota. (see Badlands)

Kansas. I interjected. (see Christmas 2004)

Where else? She pushed.

We've driven cross country multiple times. I explained. (see map)

The lady rolled her eyes in that explanation.

Memories of State Troopers in the rearview came flooding back.

Pretty much anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard. I recalled. Then I started with Maine and moved down to Florida. Hitting correct answers at almost every state line.

He's flying a bit straighter these days. I added. Trying to reassure her. (Who knows what information she was privy to on that computer screen.) And now, he takes the bus.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Cool Whip

How was your weekend?

Mine was messy. Friday night, I resisted the urge to purge the checking account and drag the girls to Oracle Arena in the hopes of attending the Miley Cyrus concert. Unbelievably this milestone (Mileystone) wasn't even on my radar. It was the two fifth grade girls dressed in denim short pants, wife beaters, black vests and skinny ties swinging around the playground pole Friday morning that tipped me off to the event. Fifth graders know. While I thought that pulling off the show would assure me a spot in the hip mom annuals, I couldn't justify the price tag - especially when my girls were more interested in going to see Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. Three tickets to the movies, please.

Saturday, after the annual California Coastal Clean Up, we cruised into the city for Maggie Mason's life list food fight. What kind of a mother takes her kids to the heart of San Francisco to throw whipped topping on total strangers? Me! Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me!!!

(Hazel is in the long green tee. Lula is in red. I'm wearing a light blue tee and blabber on about a spatula towards the end.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

This post veered off course, soared off a cliff, crashed and then felt sorry for itself

Let me start by saying, on occasion, I have been complimented on my mothering. Once in awhile I heard the words "You are a good mother."

And while I accept the compliment on the outside, I mull it over in my head on the inside. I wonder if people say this to me because there isn't anything ELSE to say. It's not like I hear:

I can't believe you finished the marathon in under 4 hours.
Saw your new novel made the best seller list.
Your doting husband is on such a short leash, what's your secret?
I had no idea you spoke: Italian, French, Japanese and Swahili.
Tofu, seriously? It tastes just like filet mignon!

Not that I won't take the "Good Mother" badge. I love to hear that. I just worry that it might be camouflage speak for "You could be doing so much more with your life" or "With out children, you'd be positively boring."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kicked To The Curb

Hazel went on a sleepover last Saturday night. For us, sleepovers started early, in Kindergarten. She was ready, I wasn't. Since then there have been many more. There has never been a tearful call in the middle of the night. A plea for a pick up. A beg for a opt out. Quite the opposite.

Sunday morning I was greeted with a voicemail message instructing me to pick her up later rather than sooner. My kids have never clung to outside the school door. They have no problem leaving me. They talk of plans to spend entire summers at their grandmothers. They can't wait to grow up and live with their friends in a pet spa/art gallery/restaurant. I try and tell myself that this is a sign of good parenting. That they feel secure enough to go out into the world with confidence. But sometimes it feels like they're trying to get rid of me. And it all seems to happening way too fast.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Never Thought I'd Join: Team Kate

Good grief! Did you catch Jon Gosselin on ABC Primetime his interview Wednesday night? I could hardly watch. Tool alert! Tool alert! Saved forever for prosperity. Dug your own grave. Your kids will be taunted with this interview for the rest of their lives.

I wouldn't say I am fan of either one of these two reality TV stars. Although, I have been a bit obsessed with the melt down of their marriage. Here's the big things that get on my nerves:

1) Why in the WORLD were 20 somethings given fertility assistance resulting in two sets of multiples? I thought fertility treatments were a last resort effort reserved for people who had tried for years to get pregnant and had no success. Seems like their doctor is to blame for the pre-boarding on the crazy train.

2) Who the HELL gets a Winnie The Pooh tattoo on their ankle? Ahem, Kate. I can see why you ended up with Jonny Boy. Seriously, Winnie The Pooh. I'm trying to imagine walking into a parlor with your A. A. Milne book.

3) The matchy-matchy wardrobe business. Not really sure why this annoys me so much. I guess if you have a child army a uniform has its advantages. I'm probably just jealous. My head tends to spin every time I walk into a Gymboree. Seriously, Kate probably uses Gymbucks™ for wiping or scrap paper.

The thing that really bothered me about the televised interview this week was Jon's little baby fit explanation that he hadn't been "out" for over 8 years. Poor guy, he'd had to parent v. hitting the happy hour. He had to take care of his children v. being present at the birth of beer pong.

I'm sure this scratches a personal nerve for me because my father has used a similar defense. My dad likes to say "I spent the best years of my life raising you." Now taken at face value, one might thing he meant that parenting me was the highlight of his life. Except that it was followed by some Jon-ish stammers of not being able to go out with his friends, not being able to travel to St. Tropez with his methfaced girlfriend and being a single parent really cut into his Jon Hardy budget. Wait, it was the 70's so I guess the girlfriend was on pills and he wore Munsingwear™. *sigh* But either way, he wants sympathy for parenting during his 20's. So if my dad is any indication, Jon's will still be complaining about missing out on keg stands and body shots long beyond the time all eight of his kids have hung up their own beer goggles. (TLC had Aiden's specially made with his prescription.)

What bothers you about the Gosselin's?

Flipping Out

Create myspace graphic with Gickr

Hello. Sorry I've been slow to post. No huge reason. Things are up. Things are down. Lots going on.

Make your own animation

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

More than the stars aligned last week during the Perseids meteor shower. In our family, you're liable to find yourself in the middle of nowhere gazing up at a star-full sky on any given astrological occurrence. This one, which was predicted to be easy-to-see, coincided with an unexpected off day for Erik. So we did what most no one would do in such a situation -we went out for sushi and fueled by saki, loaded up the kids, car, dog and headed east for a Yosemite adventure.

"I hope we see a bear" I thought to myself as we neared the National Park.

We blew through the entrance gates before the rangers and were the first family to arrive at Bridal Veil falls. After a quick hike, breakfast and tour though the visitors center we decided to find a place where the girls could splash around in the Merced River.

The spot we found, was adjacent to the main road. As the girls scrambled over the rocks, I went back to the car to retrieve the dog. It was really beautiful. Breathtakingly amazing. We swam. We sunned. We even coaxed the dog into a brief dip in the frigid waters. Later we were sitting on our blanket when Lula suddenly exclaimed, "Bear!"

Do you see it? I've never seen a bear in the wild before and my biggest thought was that they look remarkably like the ones you stuff at the Build-A-Bear factory. I swear, I wanted to just run up and throw my arms around it and bury my nose in its softness.

Except common sense told me, that bears like to eat little dogs, children and an occasional grown woman. Common sense did not tell me however, that bears might also like a little doggie kibble and one should not leave the dogs bowl next to the car half-full of Chihuahua Chow.

A major foible on my part. Our car was marked with sandy prints from the black bear -all four doors and even the back hatch. I'm thankful it didn't try to get into the car or that the dog was in the car. Or a thousand other things that could have gone wrong. After realizing it was my fault for leaving food out, I felt like the word's biggest naturalist fail. John Muir would not be proud.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Drama At Drama Camp

One of the girls' summer camps I was really looking forward to was Drama camp. It was officially titled Song and Dance Camp and put on by the Alameda Children's Musical Theatre.

Two years ago, the girls spent a week at the Dallas Children's Theatre camp and Lula came home singing Broadway Baby and making jazz hands and really thought I might call an agent had gotten my monies worth. My hope for this year was that the girls would come out of camp with a whole slew of songs that they'd be able to perform for me and at the very least one they could audition with for Hollywood agents local productions.

So when I dropped them off for the first day of camp, I was a tad taken aback by the fact that the camp location was a multi-purpose room of a unfamiliar church vs. the reconverted department store turned sprawling theatrical space. There were also a smattering of kids v. the blond child army that attended the similar camp in Texas. And the only adult in site was the woman who waited to take my check v. the hoards of big-haired board members I had been greeted with at our original experience.

It was a shaky first step, but we all forged ahead. I became less impressed when I picked them up on the first day. And after drop-off on the second day, I decided to contact the camp director.

My main issue was that the camp appeared to being run by two teenage boys. I know this, because after asking about the "counselors" Hazel told me that she knew how old they were, that the boys told them they were 19 and 16.

After leaving two voice mail messages and not getting a return call. I quickly typed out this email:

Hi -

I've been attempting to contact CAMP DIRECTOR by phone today. I was given her cell by one of the boys running the Song and Dance camp. I have concerns about the camp.

I'm going to type out some of my thoughts and would like an adult in charge to call me to discuss.

The camp is not meeting my expectations.

From what I have observed it is disorganized babysitting by two teenage boys.

I had thought there would be theater professionals in attendance.

I had thought it would be more of a learning experience for my kids.

I'm uncomfortable with the fact that there is not an adult leading the camp.

I'm uncomfortable with the activities, supervision, facility and out door time at Jackson Park.

My cell phone is: XXX.XXX.XXXX and my home number is: XXX.XXX.XXXX.

Please call me.

Thank you,


Here is the email I received in response:

Dear Vanessa,

I am sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, I am unavailable until the end of this week, with limited e.mail access. I have forwarded your e.mail to two of our board members.

We have had NINETEEN and SIXTEEN as counselors before and have never had a complaint, (as a matter of fact, just the opposite!) NINETEEN is an adult. He is 20 years old and is a student at FANCY University. He is majoring in theatre. He has had extensive theatrical experience, in fact, his father, (who is the classic English teacher at LOCAL High School), just recently directed my daughter in an ACMT production of "A Christmas Carol", so he comes from a "theatre" family.

SIXTEEN is a teenager.....17 years old, but he has also had extensive theatrical experiences, and has performed "professionally", (he is not equity), with Berkeley Rep., the Altarena and Virago Theatre Company. He just did the choreography for our three-week summer camp play, "Thoroughly Modern Millie", and the dancing was wonderful, the parents were very happy.

Regardless, these counselors have not been working out for you. I just wanted to give you some of their background to possibly allay some of your concerns. I will be available next week and will call you then.

Thank you,

Call me crazy, but I don't think two teenage boys are qualified to run a paid camp unsupervised. (I'm not really sure what to make of the age discrepancies, but I didn't want it to turn into a fight over what the boys told the kids their ages were and what the Camp Director thinks their ages are.)I don't think a 20 and 17 year old are old enough to run a camp either. If I was hiring a babysitter in my home, maybe. But as a customer, I don't think they are qualified to lead. And even the most trained theatre professional in my opinion, still needs a specific skill set to care for a group of children all day long. I've had over 8 years of this "training" and would hardly call myself a professional. Although, I have finally grasp that if you're going to put up your hand in protest, you'd better be prepared to pull your kids from the camp. Which we did. I still have yet to receive a phone call.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jersey Boy

On occasion, the girls and I have been known to kill some time at our local Borders bookstore. The girls are in it for the amazing hot chocolates from the Seattle's Best. (Seriously an excellent cup of cocoa that comes with every kind of chocolate - milk, white and dark for the equally outstanding price of under $2.)

So today, we found ourselves in the children's section, which is located right next to the humor section. I've been working my way through Artie Lange's comedy memoir Too Fat To Fish since before Christmas.

Back in the day, I had the pleasure of knowing Artie when he was a comic in New York and would often hang out in the office of another comic/copywriter at a large advertising agency in New York City. This was before MADtv and Howard Stern.

I'm sure having known him years is ago is the only thing that drew me to the memoir, because the cover art alone is enough to turn most people off.

It's the kind of book that is best taken in small doses. If the language doesn't do you in, then the too true tales of drug, alcohol and other excess are sure to make you wish you were reading something more worthy of your time. But like listening to Howard, it's often that most disturbing bits that make it hard to turn away.

Today, I was rapt with the tales of the first season taping MADtv. As a side story detailing a forced intervention and subsequent second stint in rehab Artie retold a tale about a bit part he played (and that was later cut) from the hit film Jerry McGuire. He described what it was like working with Tom Cruise and Kelly Preston. He said that the whole crew would wait while Tom jumped rope to the point where he felt ready to perform the scene. When he was ready Tom would tell the director Cameron Crowe to yell "action" and Tom would toss his rope to his handler and begin his lines. Tom apparently reworks much of his scenes and deviates from the script and eventually ended up yelling at Artie who only had a brief cameo. The story continued with Artie's retelling of how he'd pass time between takes by throwing a baseball with one of the PA's. Apparently a small boy ran up to them and Artie rolled the ball to the 4 year old. At which point, Kelly Preston appeared and accused the two of trying to hurt her son. The PA revealed that the entire crew had to sign a contract not talk or interact with either Tom or Kelly during filming. The boy was Jett Travolta.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this story exactly, just that it was fascinating to be caught in the time conundrum between someone I knew in the past and celebrities I kind of feel like I know and the strange death of a child that occurred after the book was published. The story ended with Artie mercilessly making fun of the child's name. I can only imagine what he'd have to say about the moniker Suri.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Lula is crying out on the patio.

"I want to be with Anyaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!" she cries.

Anya is an only child who was in Lula's class last year. They're friends. According to Lula, Anya has got it good.

Lula has a succulent. Anya has an entire garden.

Lula has a CD player/radio. Anya has a karaoke machine.

Lula usually gets something for dessert. But Anya?! Anya gets chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and whipped cream in a parfait cup with a cherry on top and served with a gold plated spoon - every! single! night! (Save for the occasions where her parents take her to the town ice cream parlor, which according to Lula, is at least three times a week.)

I know that Lula is playing me. She creates these little "cry wolf" dramas to get out of doing the most basic of things: like making her bed, tying her shoes or even putting on her underwear -after being asked a minimum of forty-five times. She knows she can divert the attention away from the task at hand and if she keeps at it long enough, she'll hit upon something that will catch me off guard.

Like the time she proclaimed in all seriousness, "It's just not fair! Over half of my class has swam with dolphins."

Really? I thought. And then I laughed.

Meanwhile, she's shoeless, face down on an unmade bed crying about how she had to sit on the bench during recess three years ago on her birthday. Anya never has to sit on the bench.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How We Roll

The girls have a friend over. We've got a full on play date in effect. What started out as an innocent board game has morphed into pretend play using the fake money from the game.

The scene: Three rich friends are riding in their respective limos talking to each other on their cell phones. They exit their cars and are walking towards the red carpet for their fashion show when Lula announces....

LULA: Guys! Guys! I sold our limos.

HAZEL: What?

TORIA: Are you kidding?

LULA: No. I've replaced them with fancy bikes that have built-in hot tubs. And flat screens.

Hazel and Toria look nonplussed.

LULA: Annnnd...A fried chicken bar!

A Slap In The Facebook: Part 3

This one is more of the upside-the-head variety slap v. the straight across the face leaving a red hot hand print on your right cheek kind. I'm sure there is an obvious answer. Something akin to walk away from the internet, perhaps?

Here we go:

I was clicking around the blogosphere and landed on Yvonne's post about her own personal FB dilemma.

Reading her personal problem prompted me to bring up my latest FB conundrum. This is what I wrote:

Y - could you advise me on my FB dilemma? A few months ago I was looking at the friends of my old college friends and found my HS boyfriend. We dated all through HS, I followed him to college and we broke up almost as soon as I arrived on campus. I don't want to be friends FB or otherwise with him. Recently - okay fine, damnit, TODAY I was looking through the list of his friends and found this girl we were both friends with in HS. Her family was very kind to me and I'd like to thank her as an adult and let her know that I still, to this day, remember and appreciate her and her parents kindness. But, I don't really want to be her FB friend. I don't want her to comment on picture and then be able to flip through his album. Or for him to see pictures of me and my family. I just want to say thank you to her (our mutual friend)and then go our separate ways again. Help.

Or. I could just forget about it?

How Not To Get Murdered or Molested

You know how they have those news stories where someone's perfect wife has gone missing. A few days later there's large search. Followed by a community candle-lit vigil. Then the families tearful pleas. Later on, suspects are named. Finally a body is found. And after an exhaustive search, who done it? It's always the husband. Or more likely than not -the husband. (I just tried to look up some fancy statistic to support my theory, instead I found that spousal murders are on a twenty-year decline. Yay marrieds!)

So, the nutshell, don't get married if you want to decrease your chance of getting murdered.

Easier to enact, is my plan to prevent child molestation. Historically most children are molested by a family member or close family friend. So to reduce our chances, I don't leave my kids with just anyone. Specifically, I don't leave them in the solo care of male family or with friends who have an odd man about. It seems strange to look inward for suspects, but those are the facts. (Of course, I leave them with on occasion with Erik and I can think of a few other exceptions. But not many.)

Sometimes I have to remind myself of my own rules. Tomorrow one child has an invitation for a playdate at a house where a eighteen year old cousin has just transplanted. I'm either going to cancel or rearrange so the play takes place at my house. I can do that, I have to keep telling myself. I can because I'm the mother.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hawaii Postponed

A few months ago I watched the documentary A Family Undertaking. You know the growing trend for home births? Well, it's kind of like that, except about death. Netflix describes the film as:

Before the Civil War, preparing the dead for burial and funeral rites generally fell to friends and family members of the deceased. The 20th century saw the rise of the professional undertaker, a trend that changed American attitudes toward death and distanced grievers from their loved ones. This eye-opening film uncovers a growing movement advocating a return to a more traditional, personal approach to honoring the dead.

Afterwards, I decided to reiterate my last wishes to my husband. Basically, that I wanted to be cremated. Have my ashes scattered some place beautiful. No autopsy. And if he could, to please walk me to the door of the cremation furnace.

It was kind of a heavy conversation. I took great care choosing my words and occasionally had to pause to let my thoughts form in my head before I was able to get them out of my mouth. But as my requests came to a conclusion, Erik was quickly able to sum up the whole of my desires.

"I got it" he said, "I'll take you to a volcano and push you in."

Friday, July 17, 2009


Yesterday I picked up my bike with the girls and we rode to the Town Center where they have live music on Thursday nights. Then we rode by the beach as the sun was setting and took the way we travel home from school and it was good. Very, very good.

So tonight, we helmeted up and headed down to Park Street. We stopped at a store I've always admired and cruised over to lock up at the new bike racks the city just installed next to the movie theatre. A jazz band was playing outside the restaurant across the street, some teamsters were protesting the fact that the theatre doesn't hire union workers and I glanced up just in time to witness a mini-van roll over the front tire of Lula's bike.



Wailing and scratching of paint.

The hardest part of the ordeal was trying to remove the bike from under the car. In all of the commotion I didn't think to demand that the woman pay to fix her bike. I was too busy being thankful that the worst part was a bent wheel. I carried the sad cycle two blocks to the shop and it should be as good as gold on Sunday.

I hate it when things like this happen. Mostly because I'm not really sure WHAT happened. Did Lula give the woman the appearance that she was stopping? Did the woman not see Lula? I was right there, why don't I know how it all went down? I'm just glad we were all able to walk away.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wish I May

Last week, I crossed one off my ridiculous parental guilt list and took the girls to Disneyland. We had the best time ever. I bow down before Walt and I can't wait to go again. Before you think the trip was all full of magic fairy dust and helpful forest animals, let me add that we battled flight and family problems. But the key to a successful trip to the happiest place on earth is cold hard cash perseverance. My sister, myself and the girls were at the gates when they opened. We hit Space Mountain first and proceeded to walk on to most of our must rides before there were lines. Around noon we met up with Disney aficionado / bona fide Rock Star and my Dad. Guess which one was a bit of a downer? By the look on his face, you would have thought we'd dragged Dad to an all day dental visit. At one point after touring through the often overlooked secret passages through Sleeping Beauty's Castle, we all gathered around Snow White's wishing well. I passed out pennies to everyone, the girls clutched them tightly in their little hands, they closed their eyes as everyone drew in their breath to make their respective wishes in silence my dad loudly muttered: I wish...I wish that we make it home safely.

Huh? What?!!! I've been beside myself with dismay from the moment the words left his mouth. Hello! The first rule of wishing - you don't say your wish out loud. Hello! The Secret?!! You've just invited trouble to our door. I tried to talk to my dad about it (among other things) and he claimed it was the same as saying 'have a safe trip' or 'drive safely'. I completely disagree, but I attempted to forge ahead with a smile on my face.

All in all, we ended up having a wonderful time and we did make it home safely. Although with an additional day in LA and a unexpected rental car. My dad went his way and I choose to spend the night with my sister and drive home after a full night's sleep during the light of day.

Last night we were discussing our trip and I asked Hazel what she had wished for she smiled and said "I can't tell, then it won't come true."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

I really enjoyed this article about living in San Francisco I was alerted to via

I'm working on a post about my restless spirit and how I'm not one of those people who could ever, nor was I- born, raised, lived and died all in the same place. I get itchy and ironically, the minute we moved back to the Bay Area (a place I'd been pining for from the moment we left) I felt my affection start to rise for the East Coast, specifically NYC. Go figure.

So the article has a set of rules that can be applied to almost any city. I'm all for taking advantage of what's in your own backyard. Let's see how I'm doing:

1. Live in San Francisco.

Well, we're not in SF proper. I wish we were. The school situation is a bit tricky in SF, it's not as simple as moving into a neighborhood with a good school and being guaranteed that your kids can go to that school. There was a more than likely chance that the girls would have to attend different schools in the city or be bussed across town. This fact made me uncomfortable. We choose Alameda for the schools and the beach. If it's any consolation, we can SEE San Francisco from essentially our front yard.

2. Jump in the water.

We've been out to Pt. Reyes, Kirby Cove, Angel Island and Crown Memorial Beach is out our front door. A few people have asked me if I let the girls "swim in the Bay". I discussed this with their pediatrician and am happy to report that her only concern was swimmers itch - the same affliction swimmers are susceptible to in the pristine waters of Lake Champlain. We need some improvement on hitting the Sierras and getting our mountain on.

3. Eat the food.

More sushi. More berries. Practically vegans. I'd say we've got this one covered.

4. Get a bike

I'm still trying to recover from losing my beloved Felt Cruiser. Seriously, that bike was so good looking it turned heads. Last week I tried to buy a hot pink burning man special. Yesterday, I went to look at a two cruisers from craigslist. And today, I forked over my debit card for this beauty.

Isn't it gorgeous? Looks like candy.

5. Make real friends

I'm working on this. We've done pretty good, but there's room for improvement. On the 4th, I attended two separate parties where I knew more than the hosts at both and I met a bunch of new friends.

6. Be real yourself

I love the description of "San Francisco is the kind of place where nobody will tell you when you have a bad idea". I think this may apply to every other place in the world. It's hard to squelch enthusiasm. I'm happy to report, I still have it in spades.

Tell me -how are you doing in your hometown?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Guess What Time It is?

It's that time of the year when my family leaves me and heads to Vermont and I panic. And you didn't even notice. See how good I am? That's right, they've been gone for over a week and you have not had to hear a whimper or whine or nary a whisper about it. People will often say, "oh you'll get a break" which I guess I do, but I don't really feel like I need one. This year instead of packing and selling our worldly belongings, I have practically reorganized and rearranged the whole house. (I still have our two biggest pieces of living room furniture to relocate, I just haven't figured out who I'm going to prey on to assist.)

My biggest accomplishment has been the restructuring of the girls' room. For most of this year (and their lives) they've shared a bed. A few weeks ago, Hazel decided she'd had enough and began sleeping on the floor. For a few days, I thought it was a phase she would grow tired of, but after a week I began to worry that this would be added to my already growing list of sins tucked inside a thick folder down at CPS.

There was discussion of possible new furniture. Round two of bunk beds? Maybe a loft bed. Maybe my family would come home and find me frail and weak and buried under lists of IKEA instructions. Instead, I found a similar white wood twin that would work with their existing suite and then proceeded to push and pull the beds, desk and armoire around until I figured out a suitable configuration. I'm anxious to see how it works for them, but for the better part of the last week I've been taking it for a test drive. (Translation: I've been sleeping in my kids' room while they are all out of town.) Is that weird?

The new bed.

The room.

The Namaste Sign.

I love that Namaste sign. If you come over, avert your eyes to the places where it's had to be glued back together because it wasn't secured properly, fell and broke. Just focus on the sparkly purpleness and the special light in me, that sees the special light in you.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Turn For The Worse

Yesterday, I met my cousin in Santa Cruz. We decided to ride the Giant Dipper. The eighty-five year old wooden roller coaster on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

I really didn't know what I was getting myself into, I had a bit of trepidation, but glancing at the historical posters detailing the ride, I thought 'no big whoop'. The speed was listed at a mild fifty-five miles per hour. I could handle this. It was eighty-five years old -for crying out loud.

From the first jerk I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew. Instantly you're whipped into a pitch black, dark tunnel. Instead of the usual slow, anxiety building climb that scares you silly but reassures you that it's all down hill from here; we were whisked into complete darkness twisted about, turned, churned and finally spit out to the sun.

Without even realizing it, I'd grabbed on to the seat in front of me, locked my elbows and was pushing with every muscle in my body attempting to press myself further into my chair. The coaster jerked and kicked, my eyes were shut tight and my mind reeled with the unexpectedness of it all.

Even though the ride appeared unassuming from the outside (by comparison to something like...oh, say- The Pacific Ocean), this was by far, the scariest roller coaster I had ever been on. And it seemed to go on forever. I remember noticing the people getting off before us. No one was white with fright. Puking from pure terror. A pooled up puddle of shrieking hysterics. All reactions I was mulling over as my life flashed before my eyes. What the hell was happening? And why wasn't it over yet? I gripped the seat in front of me tighter and pushed my arms out as hard as I could.

When the ride finally came to an end, they stopped the car 10 yards in front of the holding barn of others waiting to meet the same fate. I thought this was a ploy to allow people time to recover. Even with the pause I was completely speechless. Slowly, I unclenched my hands and turned to talk to my cousin. That's when it hit me -excruciating pain. Like a bolt of lightening shooting down the right side of my neck into shoulder and upper back. It's the kind of pain that makes you reconsider thinking nothing is worse than contractions. I was instantly stiff. One of those poor saps, that has to turn their whole body in order to see what's going on right beside them. And the salt in my wound, was that I did all of this in front of my twenty-two year old cousin.

How could I be so stupid, I thought. I knew that the locked arms and forceful bracing had played a part in the injury. 'Going with the flow' and 'enjoying the ride' never entered my mind. I was faced with the unexpected and instinctively my intention was to hold on as tight as I could, open my eyes for a brief bit every once in awhile and just make it to the end. And where did that get me?

In a world of pain.

I slowly walked to my car. Concerned about how I was going change lanes during the long freeway drive home with what was sure to be a bona-fide case of whiplash. I thought about my tight fisted reaction, the way I'd resisted ever movement of the amusement and wondered if the whole experience was a metaphor for how I live my life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Laughed And Then We Cleaned

Sometimes I get all flustered when I read other people professing love for their husbands. Apparently there are quite a few 'best man in the whole world' running around out there. What draws me to Erik is that we have fun together. He makes me laugh. Case in point, after working a few days of extra long hours and not being home for much of the girls waking hours, he walked into their room accessed their game playing looked around for a bit and uttered:

"Did you girls get a gerbil?"

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Slap In The Facebook: Part 2

Long story short: My fourteen year-old cousin has been peppering her Facebook status updates with the 'f'word. And as fourteen year-olds do, she changes her status quite frequently. It's bothered me and I was thinking how I would approach her. I'm sure it's impossible for kids (and adults) to understand the reach and permanency of the internet. So I wanted to offer a kind word of caution.

My concern was two fold. Not only that a future employer, college admissions counselor or the like might take offense to her flowery language, but also what is going to happen to a small town girl that easily uses such an adjective when hormones, boredom and rebellion escalate over the next few years.

So while I was having some phone conversation with her father, I casually mentioned what I had read. He had no idea and was surprised. We discussed and decided that I would send her an email and he would talk to her about it as well. Less than an hour later I sat down with my laptop to compose a quick message and guess what happened?

She deleted me as her friend.

She also deleted every other adult family member from her profile.

Problem solved, at least in the mind of a fourteen year old.


Friday, June 26, 2009

I said the wrong thing

I said something inappropriate, I confessed.

I know, said my husband. You blogged about it.

No. I did not. You must have been reading my iChats, I surmised.

Guess who was right?

A few weeks ago, I kind of snarkely let something sarcastic slip off my tongue. I totally blame the fact that I was nose deep in Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster. That and the economic down turn has been particularly cruel to California. But none the less, I should have kept my trap shut. Lesson learned.

Today, I finally mustered the courage to tell my father that his addiction to internet dating is totally out of control. He didn't take it so well. Again, I wish I'd kept my trap shut.

Who's Bad?

So, that sucks. That Michael Jackson died. Shocking really.

Now back to me.

I haven't been posting a lot because I've been wrought with anxiety over my father's visit. My dad arrived on Tuesday for an indefinite and uncomfortable stay. MJ's passing got me to thinking about Michael and his songs. In honor of one of my favorite I present:

The Incomplete List Of My Father's Complaints
(Muttered over the course of time. Only about half were mentioned today.)

Bad waitress.
Bad food.
Bad service.
Bad foot.
Bad elbow.
Bad eye.
Bad teeth.
Bad knee.
Bad ankle.
Bad hair.
Bad back.
Bad dates.
Bad wives.
Bad weather.
Bad sign.
Bad storm.
Bad wind.
Bad childhood.
Bad attitude.
Bad jokes.
Bad ideas.
Bad cars.
Bad bikes.
Bad vacations.
Bad boats.
Bad timing.
More bad wives.
Bad sisters.
One very bad father.
Bad taste.
Bad glasses.
Bad medicine.
Bad music.
Bad connection.
Bad gas prices.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm so Pamela Anderson and I don't Even Know It

I used to say that I could NEVER be a vegetarian. This was because my family farms. My great-great-great grandfather plowed fertile Kansas soil, raised hogs and cattle and now the land has been passed down to my uncle. So therefore, it would be a slap in the face to my ansetory to deny myself some grass fed USDA filet mignon. Am I right?

If you remember, a few years ago my aunt left my uncle and her four children for the hired man. There was much drama. A threat of abuse. A restraining order. A few appearances in the local paper and much gossip around the beauty salon. Their separation left everyone scratching their heads and drinking their beers and in general, trying forget it ever happened. A pesky thing to do when you have four kids.

Long story short, my loyalty to meat has also splintered. I think it was one part Skinny Bitch, one part California, a little too much time on the PETA website and a dash of curiosity.

And a few months into it, I'm here to report that we're all surviving! We eat a lot of veggie burgers. We make pizza with whole wheat crust and soy cheese. This morning, I asked Lula if she liked facon and she enthusiastically replied "yeah, but I like real bacon better." I used to think that it would be too expensive to go veg, but I really haven't noticed an increase at the grocery store. Honest.

Now, just as I start to get all smug, and think OMG, we're really vegans. I'll remember something like the turkey meatloaf or the turkey meatballs. We eat fish. (And apparently turkey.) Then there's the occasional glass of milk. But there is so much more fruit and vegetables in our diet. I never thought I'd actually attempt to make a mashed potato like substance out of whipped cauliflower. I also never thought I'd listen to Kid Rock on the treadmill, but I do that too. I don't mean to offend anyone, I know the definition of a true vegan. I'm just saying, it's steps in the right direction. Tattooed, road-hard, big smiling steps.