Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Cheer

Hello and happy holidays, lovely readers. Although I meant to post more this month (um, last month), it seems I've gone from one holiday activity to another and am finally in the post holiday relaxation phase. I consider this time between Christmas and when everyone returns to work and school after New Year's to still be "the holidays," so in no way do I feel delinquent bringing you the following holiday cheers...and maybe a few jeers.

  • Cheers to the friends and family who sent a steady stream of greetings to our home this month. We love seeing your pictures and hearing about your adventures. Extra kudos go to those of you who were so clever with your words and funny with your photos or actually hand wrote a note. I put up all the cards we receive on our glass doors and by the end of the season, the whole thing looks like a very diverse, festive, old-school Facebook Friends Collage.

  • Cheers to the teachers who put together so many class parties, holiday programs and festive activities. Even though I may grumble about all the holiday projects that come home each year, I love having that stuff around. A friend of mine still decorates her home with her son's holiday drawings and artwork from the early grades. That son got married this summer! My kids' gifts to us were a gorgeous ceramic tile with a colorful hand print and a calendar with our family's birthdays and other important dates highlighted. Thanks teachers!

  • Jeers to getting laid off a week before Thanksgiving. Anytime is a bad time to be out of work, but it takes a special kind of scrooge to give you the axe at the holidays. I'm confident that my friend, Karma, will prevail in the end.

  • Cheers to celebrating both Christmas and Hannukah. Both holidays are special and fun and I feel lucky that we get to enjoy them both. What would December be without our tree and ornaments and latkes and gelt? This year we turned off all the lights other than the tree when lighting our Menorah. It provided a lovely glow for the occasion. The kids are getting into reciting the blessings and lighting the candles themselves and it's lovely to see them participating. We know so many families who observe both holidays and I enjoyed sending them this card:complete with wishes inside for a Merry Chrismukkah and L'Shanah Tova (Happy New Year). Speaking of Chrismukkah, check out . Here's someone who's taken the meaning of "Moses is Moses, business is business" and run with it. Very cute and clever. Although I still despise Hannukah ornaments.

  • Cheers to the Wii! We're all having so much fun with our new toy. Finally, there's something the family can all enjoy.

  • Cheers to my dad who came up with the best Hannukah present ever: all the home movies of me until age 7 on DVD. How much fun to see baby ME and my mom and dad as young parents. Way to go Baba.

  • Jeers to yet another family malady: this time Ray's messed up his neck and shoulder and has been in intense pain. This is in addition to 2 kids with messed up stomachs, 3 kids with colds and my stupid cough/cold/congestion that is back before it ever fully went away. Things seem to be improving slightly but it's been a difficult week for all of us, especially him.

  • Cheers to a great New Year's eve and day after. We went to my parents', where I effectively abdicated all of my parental responsibilities and didn't think for a good 24 hours. At least 12 of those hours were spent sleeping. It's just what the doctor ordered.

  • Cheers to all of you. Thanks for hanging in there with me and reading my rants and ramblings this year. I could promise more regular posts in the coming year but I know me and my crazy life and I'll just promise to do my best. Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for us all, with just enough humor thrown in to keep us sane.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Speaking of Reality TV...

If you haven't already, I really encourage you to check out Fox's Secret Millionaire. The premise is that a millionaire goes incognito into a very poor part of the country and must live on welfare wages for a week. During that time, he or she must also identify three individuals to help with a minimum of $100,000 of his or her own money. I've been so inspired by the people that have been featured as the recipients of the gifts. Even in difficult conditions, many are finding ways to help others, giving of their own homes, time and resources. What I also like about the show is that it highlights problems in our country that many of us just don't think about from depressed former coal-mining towns to cities that have never recovered from Hurricane Katrina. Along with changing the lives of the people they help, I'd like to think that the millionaires also go away from the experience with a new outlook.

This show is a far cry from Temptation Island and some of the other reality crap that we've been forced to endure. I highly recommend it and hope Fox keeps it around for a while.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Biggest Loser Finale Wrap-Up

I have to admit, I'm a newcomer to the legion of The Biggest Loser fans. When I first heard of the show I thought it would be a cheap exploitation of fat people for studio profits. After hearing how good the show was from many friends, we finally got hooked last season. I no longer think the contestants are being exploited but the for-profit aspect of the show still bugs. Sugar free gum is not diet food, Bob. Telling us it is makes you look silly. Anyhoo, last night was this season's finale and it didn't disappoint. Here's my take on the winners, losers and others. Oh wait, the losers were the winners. So confusing.

  • Ed and Heba: So much to say about these two. First off, it was a total slap that Ed begged the viewers to vote Heba into the finale and they voted him in instead. That should be a clue as to how likable these two were. At first they seemed like the cute newlyweds and she was kind of pretty and he was the funny guy. But as the show wore on, Heba showed her true colors, her meanness and her ruthlessness. Who could stand one more second of her incessant crying and whining. I felt sorry for Bob for having to train her. She was awful to watch. It wasn't a big surprise that she won the $100,000 consolation prize. Of all the contestants that competed for that prize, she was at the ranch the longest. Amy should've won that. All that being said, they looked great at the finale. However Heba, losing 100 pounds doesn't give you license to go braless on national TV. WTF? It looked like she tucked her boobs into her pantyhose. Ick.
  • Vicki: Ugly is as ugly does. I honestly cannot imagine going on national TV, letting the world know what an ugly, evil human being you are, then having to go back into your community and having to face people again daily. For you non-TBL watchers, think Corinne at the Survivor finale (watch reality TV much?). I seriously can't ever imagine being that mean right to someone's face. It's one thing to be motivated to win a game; it's another altogether to be mean, nasty, cutthroat and awful to perfectly nice people who are there for the same reasons as you. Her treatment of Phil & Amy (more on them later) was beyond disgusting. I think if her children were older and watched the show they would be so embarrassed by her meanness, cheating and underhanded tactics (and their dad's too). I also think it'll be difficult for her to maintain the weight loss. They showed how hard she had to work to prepare for the finale and that it gave her almost no time with her family. That pace will be difficult to maintain without the obvious motivation she got from the possibility of beating the other contestants. As hard as she worked, she still came in last place at the finale. I give all the credit to Karma.

  • Phil & Amy: Oh my gosh! How great did these two look? Phil and Amy were my favorite couple and I hated the way they were treated by Vicki and her lackeys. You could tell Bob was sad when they left and wasn't overly thrilled that Vicki stayed when Amy was gone. It was so wonderful to see them back, looking amazing! Amy rocked her red dress (and I loved that she wore red when so many others wore black) and did look smoking hot! They were gracious in the face of those who treated them so poorly. And even nasty Vicki admitted that Phil helped motivate her when she was home and feeling down. Did you notice how Phil looked at Amy when she was onstage? You could see his love for her written all over his face. I am so happy for this nice couple.
  • Michele: Hooray for awesome Michelle!!!! What a deserving winner. It seemed like her formula for success was simply working hard and staying above the pettiness and backstabbing. How much fun was it when she hung in the glass box seemingly without a care in the world while Vicki cried and whined and couldn't get down? Her efforts were for the right reasons: to get healthy and improve her life. Along the way, she strengthened her relationship with her mom, and began to not just rely on herself, but value who she was and realize that she was worth taking care of. Such an important lesson for a young woman to learn. I imagine it must have been difficult to be the only black team member left with three horrid blue team members left. Yet she kept her focus and kept working hard. Although she scares the crap out of me, Jillian did a great job helping Michelle stay on track and WIN!

I'm so glad another season of The Biggest Loser will start in early January. It's always inspiring to see these transformations and the cat fighting is a little bonus entertainment. Hopefully they can leave the evil awful people out of the cast next time.

Update: Today's LA Times states that likability cost Heba the biggest loser title. She did, in fact, lose a higher percentage of her starting weight than Michelle. But her scheming and bullying made her a target of the TV audience who voted to keep her out of the finale. Vicky, meanwhile, has had to change her home phone number due to harassment and death threats. They both state that they were depicted inaccurately and that viewers are uncomfortable seeing such strong women. Bullshit. Viewers are uncomfortable seeing such horrible women. And Vicki seems to be reaping the proper consequences of how she played the game. Thanks again, Karma.

Friday, December 05, 2008

From Turkeys to Santa

It's been a while, loyal readers. Life gets busy, you know? So, what's been going on since I blogged you last? Julia got glasses: big trauma that has turned into a good thing. I'm proud of her, and proud of how we handled it. Ethan is Ethan. He's all about play dates, Lego, and staying up 2 hours after he's in bed and playing the dark. Bunch just gets better and better. He's figured out how to give kisses. But he's sneaky and gutsy and thinks he's one of the big kids.

It seems like Halloween was just yesterday, and now here we are, less than 3 weeks from Christmas. Thanksgiving was great. Once again, my cousin Sissy hosted and I had so much fun watching the kids play with their cousins (and cousins-in-law). There was all kinds of food, to which I happily contributed. Only problem with not hosting Thanksgiving is that you don't really get to control leftovers (plus there were NO leftover sweet potatoes and Julia has been waiting for them since last Christmas), so we had Thanksgiving again last night, with Ray's mom, who is here visiting. I made my first ever real turkey breast and it came out awesome. I almost think a monkey could make it but I don't want to disparage my own turkey-roasting skills. Plus: holy crap. Costco mashed potatoes. They must be from the gods.

Oh yeah, the other thing that happened last month was that my poor husband became one of the half-million plus Americans who lost their job. The week before Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays to us. After the requisite anger, cussing, and a few days of mopiness, we're back in the holiday spirit. Maybe it's all the meds I'm downing daily for this godawful cold-turned-sinus-mess-plus-incessant-back-agony-from-all-the-nights-spent-coughing-on-the-couch (not to mention the mind altering drugs humming in the background) combined with the persistent sleep deprivation, but I'm not freaking out. I wasn't thrilled with Ray's previous work situation. Besides, we'd known for a while that this layoff might happen. He was working for a land developer. Duh. So, I'm confident that something much better is in the works. In the mean time, it's great to have Ray home, especially while I've been sick. The kids are in heaven; I'm already worried about how sad they'll be when he goes back to work.

Tonight we went Chrismukah shopping while the kids stayed with Grandma Dooley. We had a great time! It's not about how much we spent. Sure, I love buying expensive gifts for friends and family. I am a shopper at heart, after all. But it's also fun to get creative, find bargains and make our budget work. It reminds me of Christmas shopping in college. But I also know that we are so lucky, so blessed. It's not about the job, the income, or any of that. I love this time of year and an uncertain financial situation isn't going to change that. So our halls are decked, we've got visions of latkes in our heads and it's time to be jolly. We're going to enjoy this bonus family time and look forward to the next good thing. It's all good.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Belated Boo!

Halloween has come and gone and while I wasn't all that much in the spirit at first, I managed to get into it by the end of trick or treating. Here are some photos for your enjoyment:

Julia, in her very original Purple Pelicans uniform, er, costume.

Halloween at Kindergarten never gets old.
Never has one Thomas costume been such an enormous value. 3rd Halloween in combat and still going strong.
Dr. Jones decided that his hat was too large and could only be fixed by wearing it in the other direction.

Hope everyone had a happy one!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Witch Is In

Any guesses what the "T" stands for?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rants and Raves

Rave: My friend, Laura, who is always so nice and supportive.

Rant: People who can't be bothered to return a phone call (or 10).

Rave: The pediatric optician who finally found frames that Julia would concede to consider wearing.

Rant: Not having her on our vision plan. Ouch!

Rave: My new Uppercase Living website, and people who are as into the product as I am!

Rant: Not being able to choose what goes on my wall next!

Rave: Mommy group therapy.

Rave: Mommy wars.

Rave: It's finally fall! Hooray for changing leaves and Halloween decorations.

Rant: The 30 degree difference in temperature from the morning to the afternoon. How am I supposed to dress my kids?

Rave: The election is less than 3 weeks away...the campaigning is about to end.

Rant: I'm not overly thrilled with our choices and the one proposition I feel strongly about has a good chance of losing.

Rave: Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffins are back at Starbucks!

Rant: Still no drive-through Starbucks anywhere near here.

Rave: The Amazing Race. How cute was Phil's dad?

Rant: Desperate Housewives. I need No-Doz just to get through an episode.

Rave: Being back in Mommy & Me with Brady, a few nice moms and an awesome teacher.

Rant: Listening to "I go to school today?" a thousand times each day that we don't go to school.

Rave: Julia's soccer team is doing great, they made the playoffs, she scored a goal last week (!!!!) and Ethan finally seemed to get it together in his last game.

Rant: Too many of their games are scheduled simultaneously and I hate missing one. Plus his games are WAY TOO EARLY.

Rave: Sweet 3rd grade girls who hold hands and giggle and don't even know why.

Rant: Mean 3rd graders who shove, threaten and bully, and then break the rules knowing that the other kids are too scared to tell. It's too early for this stuff.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ethan Does Yom Kippur

This awful cell-phone picture with bad lighting hardly does justice to Ethan's look for Yom Kippur services. Decked out in his new soccer ball kippah, he didn't think his outfit would be complete without his yellow striped tie. The two missing bottom teeth were the final Ethan touch. He spent most of the service decorating his tie with the number stickers from seats and making friends with the amused and annoyed adults seated around us. Brady spent his time up my skirt and asking "Is it done?" after every prayer. No matter, we were all together at the service and it was a nice way to end the holiday. The Gelson's cinnamon pull apart bread didn't hurt either.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Fun Fall

I figured it was time for a good, mindless post about what we've been up to lately, not that it's particularly exciting.

  • School is going great. Both kids have great teachers and love going. E still has a hard time getting up in the morning but he loves being a kindergartener. I absolutely love working in their classes. Kindergarten is way more fun than 3rd grade, however. I continue to be impressed with my kids' school and the teachers there. Educating children is a hard business to be in and I admire those who do it well despite countless challenges.
  • Julia is turning back into a human being. I'm not talking perfection, but she has become noticeably more sweet, polite and responsible. The backtalk and arguing have decreased dramatically and she's much more pleasant to be with. I will remember this when she turns into a teenage troll.
  • I think I've gotten my election ranting out of my system. There's nothing left to do but sit back and wait for Election Day. Is it too late to put Tina Fey on the ticket?
  • Bunch and I are having a great time in Mommy & Me. Our teacher, who is a friend and was also Ethan's teacher, rocks. I love the time I get to spend in class with him, especially since it brings back so many memories of being there with Ethan three years ago. Brady was with us then too, but he was just a belly baby, raising hell from the inside.
  • I'm busier than I would like with school activities, but I enjoy being involved with all the happenings at school. I like selling ads for our newsletter and raising money in that way. I like the school administration and staff knowing that I am around and involved in my children's school. I like having my younger kids practically grow up at our school. Brady is quite a hit with the office ladies who hug him and kiss him and give him chocolate. It's like having 3 extra grandmas.
  • We are a soccer family and we love it. Between the two kids, we have 3 practices and two games each week. Both teams are coming along nicely, but they can both be so frustrating to watch. It is a big commitment for our whole family, and can be a big pain at times, especially when Bunch isn't cooperating. But this is so good for our kids. They are learning about trying hard and teamwork and listening and working for a common goal. And they're running their tails off and loving it. Ray is coaching Julia's team and refereeing for Ethan. We're both surprised by how much he's enjoying it. And I got to make puple, white, and black ribbon ponytail holders for the team. Soccer is a good thing.
  • I'm having a great time with Uppercase Living. I've gotten a lot of exposure lately and am waiting for some of my prospects to start panning out. I have high, high hopes for this business, especially in the coming months.
Still with me? That's pretty much all that is going on here. Sounds mundane, but I actually like that now and then. I like my routines and I like the everyday things that make our lives feel cozy and safe. Maybe it's the fall weather that is (finally) starting to come around. But I'm feeling like I just want to hole up in my house with my family, light a cinnamon candle and make soup. Although I'm not a fan of the cold weather (such as it is in these parts) I'll begrudgingly trade in my flip flops for shoes-that-must-be-worn-with-socks if it means I get to make soup.

Thank you arbreed for the gorgeous photo which is proof that we really do get fall in southern California.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Election Day, Part 2 - 40 odd days and counting

Well, here we are, 7 months plus since my last election post and guess what. Still no President. Half a billion dollars spent, running mates picked conventions held, interviews given and rally after rally after rally held and televised. And still this endless process continues. We still have debates to look forward to and who knows how many months of vote counting before the partisan power grab is over and we can have dances and parties and all pat ourselves on the back on our exemplary, peaceful, political process.

Most people I know, my relatives excluded, are civilized enough to keep their judgements and opinions to themselves most of the time. Maybe your outfit isn't quite ready for Vogue or you're having a bad hair day. Maybe you're making stupid decisions that are messing up your life and your kids'. Maybe your spouse is an ass and everyone knows it but you. The folks in my circle are usually polite enough to keep their opinions about this kind of situation to themselves until asked. Moreover, they wouldn't presume to tell you what to do or how to think. Until an election comes around.

For the past months, I can't open my email without some propaganda from someone about their favored political candidate. Presumably, until election season, I was deemed intelligent enough to think for myself, to make decisions on mundane things like whether to vaccinate my children, or to send them to public school, or the best way to take care of my and my family's health. Now, all of a sudden, I need to be told by my friends who to vote for and why, whose family values and vice presidential qualifications are acceptable and whose aren't, and which Facebook group to join to tell the world my political views. I need to have the news analyzed by these sudden political experts.

I didn't ask.

It seems, as a matter of fact, that everyone is an expert. As I watch the Emmy Awards tonight, I'm annoyed, but not surprised, that so many of the presenters choose to make political statements. Once again, this is not what I tuned in for.

Last I checked, I was smart enough to know where to go for political information and analysis: any number of cable news shows, magazines, political blogs, the newspaper. That one I can figure out. What I can't figure out is why people who are otherwise lovely, charming and thoughtful would be so insulting as to force their unsolicited political views on me, and then judge me for either not agreeing or asking to be spared. Wasn't it considered in poor taste not too long ago to even discuss politics and religion?

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind a healthy political discussion, a respectful exchange of ideas, of point and counterpoint between equally matched intellects. What doesn't work for me, and never will, is being told by someone not to vote for Barrack Obama because his middle name is Hussein and "Jews can't vote for Hussein," or that John McCain and Sarah Palin are "evil" and a joke. Again, I didn't ask. I notice that most people don't ask about my views, other than to ascertain whether I'm voting their way. As soon as they hear that I'm most likely not, they make it their personal mission to tell me why I'm wrong and why I should.

Now, this is my blog and you came here, so you must want to know what I think. If you're here by mistake, leave now. Once and for all, these are my views:

  • I hate our electoral process. It makes me sick. It's no longer about governing, or improving the lives of the citizens. It's about a power grab for one party at the expense of the other, and of the interests of the American public, who are the last people considered when policy and legislation are being crafted.
  • I don't like either of the candidates for President. I'm not embarrassed to say so. One is too old and one isn't experienced enough. Giving good speeches doesn't make you a great president. As the "greatest democracy in the world," what we deserve is a real choice, with more than two options.
  • I don't like Sarah Palin and I don't like Hilary Clinton. This doesn't make me anti-feminist.
  • I live in a blue state. My vote doesn't count.
  • I'm disgusted by the stronghold of the religious right over the Republican party. This country was founded on the tenet of separation of church and state, yet this party seeks to blur those lines further and further every day. Sarah Palin has called the war in Iraq a "task from God." Jihad, anyone? Yet her party is energized and excited by her nomination. That disconnect is frightening.
  • Whoever gets elected, it won't make a fundamental difference in my and my family's daily lives. This is an unpopular view and certainly some things may change. We all know, though, that what's promised in campaigns isn't what will happen anyway. But our personal challenges and triumphs will continue regardless of who has taken over the White House.
Again, these are my views, and you don't have to agree. Unless asked, I will keep them to myself. If you disagree, I won't judge you and suggest you have inferior intelligence. And I certainly won't let it get in the way of our relationship because in my world, people will always be more important, more genuine and much, much more relevant than politics.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Go Shopping. Again.

If you haven't already visited Today's Creative Blog to support the Nie Recovery (and even if you have), now would be a good time to do so. I have a package of Uppercase Living items up for auction and it's all for a great cause. Go bid it up! And send your friends.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Go Shopping. Now.

You know I love nothing more than when two great things come together to make something even greater. That's how I feel about what's going on over at my friend Kim's mega-hit Today's Creative Blog right now. To support a family in crisis, she's brought together some of the greatest artists you've never heard of who are donating their creations for a benefit auction. The starting bids are L-O-W and you might even find a donation from yours truly over there. Please go to Today's Creative Blog, browse the auctions or make a cash donation. Shopping is good. But shopping for a good cause is good squared. Cubed even.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

He Like to Move It Move It

We're pretty excited for Madagascar 2 to come out around these parts. So much so that Brady loves singing his favorite Madagascar song over and over and over. Come to think of it, he's not unlike King Julian in a lot of ways. They're both boisterous little bossy dictators who think they know everything, while those around them know better.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Open House Weekend!

Hello faithful readers. I owe you a nice long post about summer. Don't hold your breath. I'm currently working on my Uppercase Living Open House Weekend which will be next Friday and Sunday. Between finishing display items (fun!), finalizing the menu (also fun) and cleaning my house (most definitely not fun), who has time for blog-writing?

If you or a friend are in the area, please stop by Friday evening or Sunday afternoon. For more info, times and my address just email me. Hope to see you!

Also, big thanks to Kim who gave my products a try and then a shout out on her blog. I can't wait to see the finished projects. While her personal blog is great, her Today's Creative Blog is beyond awesome: so inspiring and addictive. Go tell her Hi from me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Julia Said...

before she went to bed tonight:

Mommy, only 3 more hours until you're 37. And then you'll never be 36 again. That's sad.

I let her live because:

a) We're going to the beach tomorrow and I can't wait! I've been waiting a whole year for this beach trip and

b) No matter how old I get, Meghan will always be exactly a year older. Bwahahahaha. Happy Birthday Birthday Buddy!!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What I Learned From Stacy Julian

Several months ago, my Local Scrapbook Store (LSS, for those of you not in the know), Treasured Memories, announced that Stacy Julian would be speaking at the store in early June. I bought my ticket and pretty much forgot about it until a week or so before the event. And then I started getting really excited. First of all, I'd never met a scrapbook celebrity before (stop snickering). Second, I'd been reading Stacy's blog and beyond the fact that the title cracks me up, I like her perspective. Third, I don't get out much and a night out pursuing only my own interests is somewhat of a holy grail. And fourth, I need a new approach to scrapbooking since my current one clearly isn't working.

So I got Julia ready for her dance pictures, which her father would have to take her (and her brothers) to and happily headed out the door. While I'd never taken any of Stacy's classes or read her books, I was aware of her influence on scrapbooking and was eager to soak in her wisdom. I picked up my reserved copy of Big Picture Scrapbooking and giddily sat there learning the following:

  • Stacy Julian is adorable. From her pigtails to her polka dot dress to her ever present giggle, she's very endearing. She generously shares her spirit and the depth of her emotions to inspire in all of us the freedom to view scrapbooking as she does: focused on process, not production. Amazing concept, this.
  • Stacy is smart! The unfortunate perception persists that scrapbookers with vacant minds and full albums stay up all hours playing with scissors and glue sticks. Stacy flips this perception on its ass. Her talk covered areas from philosophy to marketing to color theory to optics. She is a reader and she gathers inspiration from an enormous array of resources. Very inspirational.

  • The thought of scrapbooking in non-chronological order, without straight lines and with journaling in my own handwriting causes me anxiety. And anxiety is not a thing I need more of these days. However, it's so much fun to think of the layouts I could create about what my kids are doing right now rather than how far behind I am and how I am every going to do justice to properly documenting the birth of my two boys. She might be on to something. Maybe she should pursue this little theory of hers.

  • There is more than one way to scrapbook, and probably no "right" way. And scrapbooking doesn't mean just sticking photos on cardstock. Revolutionary thoughts, indeed. I'm still mulling over this one and think I may need to read Stacy's first book, Simple Scrapbooks, or take a some of her classes at Big Picture Scrapbooking to get a better understanding of this.

  • Life is good and it should be documented, but not just for the reasons I thought. One of the many things that have stayed with me from Stacy's talk is that scrapbooking serves a lot of purposes. It makes up more aware and more grateful for the big and small blessings that fill our days. And it makes us happy. And that's reason enough to do something. Again, revolutionary concept. It's not a waste of time or paper or resources or money to spend time on a hobby that strengthens our connections to each other, utilizes and inspires creativity, documents our family histories, and makes us happy in the process. On the contrary, it's a rather priceless pursuit with immeasurable positive benefits.

  • I should make it a point to scrapbook more. See above.

  • Stacy loves brownies. So much so that she has devoted a scrapbook to the brownies she's encountered throughout her travels. This interests me for two reasons: First, I can't think of a more frivolous way to spend one's time than to create a scrapbook about brownies. And if it's OK for the great, renowned, busy, working-mother-of-five Stacy Julian to spend her time on a brownie scrapbook, then it must be ok for me to spend my time scrapping something equally silly. Second: our wonderful hosts at Treasured Memories decided to provide a brownie buffet in Stacy's honor. So many yummy varieties to munch on while we waited in line to chat with Stacy. The clear winner: Ghirardelli Double Chocolate brownie mix available at Costco or your local grocery store. My family has recently enjoyed 2 pans of these.
  • Big Picture Scrapbooking has awesome pens. We each got a goodie bag and mine contained a button that says "Scrap Big," (love that), a mouse pad, the biggest rubber band I've ever seen (seriously, Nicole Ritchie could wear this as a belt; I still haven't figured out its purpose) and what looks like a regular ball point pen. I LOVE THIS PEN. Julia has tried numerous times to steal this pen from under my nose. She has not succeeded. I'll have to troll their site to see if I can pick up a few dozen.
  • Stacy is a trouper. It didn't matter how long her day had been, or how many people were waiting in line to meet her, Stacy cheerfully talked with each one of us, answering questions, finding connections and generously sharing her thoughts and ideas.

I have to give a shout out here to my friend Christine, who owns Treasured Memories. She put on a top-notch event, which is not surprising, since I know she puts her heart into everything she does. She recently celebrated her store's 10th anniversary and I'm so proud of her success. I know that scrapbook retailing is a difficult industry, especially in today's economy, but she's a tough lady and a smart businesswoman and I'd put my money on her every time. She's been so generous with me over the years. About 5 years ago, she allowed us to use her scrap space for an entire day to host a crop to raise money for FSMA. More recently, she's displaying my Uppercase Living catalog and brochures right behind her register. She's a great asset to our community.

One other thing came out of this event: I was chatting with a very nice lady in line while we waited to meet Stacy. As our conversation progressed we incredulously realized that we "knew" each other from Two Peas In A Bucket, a message board I haven't been on since just after Ethan was born. We traded information and hopefully will get a chance to scrap together someday soon. Stacy Julian is all about making connections, and meeting up with Yvonne was just one connection that I focused on that night. Now, a month later, I'm still thinking about Stacy's words and message and am planning once again to get out my scrap supplies and start playing and creating, pages as well as happiness. My mental health will thank me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Very Nice Summer and other stuff

For those of you who still check in despite my sadly sporadic posting, thank you. I'll try to do better, really I will.

It seems strange to be posting about summer on what is the coldest Memorial Day weekend I can remember since we moved back to southern California from Seattle. It has actually rained (I think most of the rest of the country would call it drizzling) for the last few days. News directors all across the Southland had a very difficult decision for last night's evening newscast: do I lead with the high speed chase du jour (which was made all the more dramatic by the slick streets, spraying water and fishtailing. Boo YA!) or Storm Watch 2008? Decisions, decisions. Of course the live feed of the chase won, and the bastards had the nerve to go to commercial and make us miss the end, which is usually the best part, and have to watch a replay. Amateurs.

Regardless of the weather, signs abound that summer is almost here, and as sad as I am to see Julia's awesome year in 2nd grade end, I'm ready for a break from frantic mornings and busy schedules. Those of you have been with me a while might recall that for the last couple of years, I and some others declared it would be The Best Summer Ever. The first time we did this, the summer really lived up to it. There was ice cream, a new swing set, more ice cream, trips to Disneyland and Legoland and fun and relaxation all over the place. Last year, I thought, it would most definitely be the BSE. I mean, how could it it not? We had a new house with a pool for the first time ever and we couldn't wait to spend every waking minute in it. Well, I'll tell you how: start the summer by literally losing your mind to the point that you don't want to get out of bed or even know which end is up. Add a flood to the entire downstairs of said house that takes 2 months to clean up from, hole up in your steaming hot upstairs (in the dark for most of a week, as it turned out) and add a half-assed air conditioner and asbestos in your ducting. That's how.

While we've recovered from the effects of last year's summer fiasco, I'm not thinking I want to jinx things this year by setting up some crazy unrealistic expectations. So, my friends, I hereby declare the summer of 2008 A Very Nice Summer. That's it. I still plan to send my kids to camp, do a lot of fun things, go to the beach, grill, swim a ton, and eat a lot of Shave Ice. But I think I'll be a lot more content hoping to just have a nice time than to pressure all of us to make things the BEST EVER. I'm all about baby steps right now and this seems to be a good one to take. Maybe in a couple of years I won't be as gun shy. For now, let's make it a nice summer.

In other news, I'm having a great time with my Uppercase Living business so far. Every day I think of new ways to use the expressions and lettering. The possibilities are endless. I had a party at a friend's the other night and it was nice to see the positive response I got across the board. I have some high hopes for this company.

In other other news, Ray's mom is coming to spend next weekend with the kids so he and I can spend a couple of nights away. Even though we're just staying at a hotel down the street, we have a massage and a nice dinner scheduled and we plan on just relaxing for a couple of days. We so need this.

The following weekend, I'm going to my hear Stacy Julian speak at my scrapbook store, Treasured Memories. I'm really excited to hear her talk and hope to get motivated inject some sanity into my overwhelming pile of to-be-scrapped photos. Treasured Memories is a great store and the owner, Christine, is lovely and generous. Definitely good people. If you're ever in the area, stop by and spend lots of money.

Hope the weather is sunny where you are and that you have a great weekend.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Happy Mother's Day

It seems we've been celebrating Mother's Day for several days already. It started Thursday morning when Ray & Julia came into my room with big smiles, holding the local newspaper. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

Our local paper does this every year. Julia came up with the thoughts and Ray helped her get it to under 100 words and it totally made my day. Especially the part about "the brothers."

Friday I got to celebrate at Ethan's school where we were serenaded by a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds who couldn't stop grinning long enough to sing. Beyond cute.

We took a break yesterday to attend Julia's last softball game. They placed 3rd in their tournament which thankfully earned them big gaudy trophies that completely erased any disappointment they may have had about losing their game. They celebrated the end of the season at a swim party at one team member's AMAZING home. The girls had such a great time and it was nice to see Julia be one of the crowd. It's a struggle to let her be herself while trying to get her to be a little more outgoing. I'd like to think this experience has helped.

This morning I got my mother's day presents that were so amazing and sweet that my teeth hurt...or is that the Starbucks donut I had for breakfast? Never mind. Julia's teacher helped the class make a compilation of artwork and poetry throughout the year that is truly remarkable. The best part is the card: Top 10 Reasons Why I Love You. It's an entire scrapbook in itself. Ray hooked me up with some salon services that my nasty hair desperately needs. But my favorite present is the Webkinz panda that Julia and Ethan INSISTED I get. I had the most fun half hour this morning adopting it, decorating its room and taking it to Dr. Quack for a checkup, all with their guidance and advice.

This Mother's Day is a lot nicer for me than last year, thanks to me being more aware of what's been going on with me emotionally and having the tools to get through it. I'm looking forward to spending the day with my mom, who has truly saved me and my family throughout this year. To all the moms out there, a happy, happy, relaxing day to you. Our work is endless and the rewards infinite and no other job is done with more love and dedication.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Batman Has the Batmobile ...

And SuperViolet now has her personalized plates. She truly is a super hero, swooping down to rescue me and my family over and over again, most recently over the last few weeks as I get slowly straightened out. We are so lucky to have her.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bear With Me

It's been a crazy couple of weeks. Let's just say the chemical soup that is my brain has needed some seasonings adjusted. Everything is fine, and I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Good, The Bad, The Odd

I hate not blogging for a long time. Stuff piles up and then I never get around to telling (all 3 of) you about it. Here's a quick run-down, with hopefully more to come someday soon:

The Good

  • We went wine tasting a couple of weekends ago and had SUCH a great time. I'll definitely post about this soon!
  • Ethan's dinosaur party was a great success and may someday be its own blog post. There were, ahem, quite a few kids but they had fun and I loved all the activity. Boys are a whole different breed when it comes to group-think, aren't they? I'm not quite mentally prepared.
  • I got carded! I didn't have my kids with me and the waiter was wearing pretty thick glasses, but who cares?
  • I'm going to see Bon Jovi & Daughtry tomorrow night and will also get to meet my good friend Jacquie IRL for the first time. Can't wait!!!
  • My mom is sleeping over so I can do the above. She rocks.
  • I registered Ethan for kindergarten and now must pray nightly that he won't end up with the mean teacher who yells.
  • My first Uppercase Living open house is next week. I'm really excited...and nervous. But also really excited.
  • Brady seems to be getting cuter by the minute. Come visit him. Or call him. He'll totally talk to you on the phone.
  • Juji got her first hit and scored her first run in softball. I didn't think this would happen for another couple of seasons. Her team has won its last two games!
The Bad
  • Passover starts next week and I have not done one thing to prepare.
  • Julia's attitude is getting worse by the day. Is it me or is she completely psycho, going from sweetheart to complete pain instantaneously.
  • I have wasted my entire evening playing games online.
  • The Bruins broke my heart for the 3rd straight year, coming home empty-handed from the Final Four.
  • Ray's work sucks right now. Period.
  • My kids can mess my house up way faster than I can clean it.
  • My asshole neighbor's asshole dog got out today and came nose-to-nose with poor Brady, who was terrified. I heard myself scream primaly to the neighbor to get his dog away, which he did. He did apologize, at which point it occurred to me that that was the first time he'd talked to me the entire YEAR we'd been living here. He needs to make sure that dog never ever gets near one of my kids again.
  • Our friends who were going to Bon Jovi with us had to cancel, so I'm taking my sister and her friend. This isn't all bad, as now I can act like a much bigger dork at the concert and sing and dance to my heart's content. Ray will pretend not to know us.

The Odd
  • I really did have some odds, but now can't remember any of them. Must be time for bed. If only I hadn't wasted my whole night online, I'd head straight to sleep without the mandatory pit stop in the kitchen to clean and make Julia's lunch. Damn internet.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What I Learned At the Wiggly Concert

My family's love of the Wiggles has been well documented here. Although they're no longer front-and-center favorites, all three kids still enjoy Wiggling fairly regularly, though they don't always admit to it. A few months ago, just as I was thinking how much my kids would like to see the Wiggles live, I received an email alerting me that they would be coming to LA. It's like the internet read my mind! We (actually, Grandma Goob. Thanks Goobie!) got the tickets and Saturday was Wiggle day. Who knew I would learn so much from one kids' concert? Lucky for you, I'm willing to share the knowledge:

  • The Nokia Theatre at LA Live is a great place to see a concert. The whole complex will be awesome when it's finally built out. On the day that we were there, there were 2 Wiggles shows, a King's game and a Dodgers exhibition game at the Coliseum. It's really great to see Downtown LA growing this way. Go developers!
  • If the music thing doesn't work out for the Wiggles, then they can always look into being aerobics instructors. Those guys have some serious stamina!
  • There is seriously nothing cuter than a theater filled with preschoolers dressed in Pirate hats, Wiggles skivvies, and Dorothy tails....until those preschoolers start singing and dancing.
  • When attending a Wiggly concert, it is proper form to bring roses for Dorothy and a bone for Wags.
  • Some children, who are way too used to watching the Wiggles on TV, WOULD NOT turn away from the giant screen where the concert was being shown to the stage RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM to see the actual show live.
  • My two year old must not be that smart.
  • That one Wiggly dancer who is always way too excited on the TV show is just as "energetic" live.
  • It really is possible to pay $6 for an Uncrustable, a juice box and a few apple slices. Ah, capitalism.
  • That last remark makes me sound really old.
  • Just because you are seven and a half years old, it does not mean that you cannot sit on your daddy's lap and sing along the entire show. It also does not mean that you will not be the first to ask. "Can we come back next year?"
  • I can point my fingers and do the twist.
  • If you want a t-shirt for your kid, get it when the lines are short before the show and don't wait. And just because you said you want a shirt, and don't have a ton of money on you, don't assume that someone else will offer to go buy the shirt.

  • These guys really must love the kids to do this day in and day out. They were warm and sincere and just as you'd want them to be.
  • Three adults to three children is a manageable ratio for a Wiggly concert.
  • Snacks are essential.
  • Just because there is a damn Wiggly concert going on 8 rows in front of you, and your (grand)parents purchased these tickets and dragged you and your siblings to the concert, it does not mean you will not fall asleep eating grapes on your grandma's lap.
  • If you are two years old and your mom takes you to see the Wiggles and you finally turn around halfway through and notice the Wiggles and squeal "It's Giggo Mommy! It's Jeff," she will turn to mush, and forgive you for napping later and declare that you must be the cutest and most intelligent toddler in the whole place.
  • A Wiggly concert is just slightly louder than Ethan.
  • I'd do this again for and with my kids in a heartbeat. I know I had at least as much fun as they did.
  • It's just not the same without Greg.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So Much to Blog, So Little Time

After the busy weekend we had, one would think that we are always out and about doing fun things with our kids, or without. Ha. Now, that's funny. But somehow, the stars aligned and we did do some fun things and even got a night out by ourselves, thanks to Goobie and Baba. The fun things will be their own post. But for now, let's hear it for the Bruins in the Final Four for the 3rd straight year. As they say, Ben Howland is my homeboy.

I'll try not to throw up watching the next 2 games (yeah, I said it). I have a feeling it will be pretty intense. No matter the outcome, we've had a great basketball season and SC has extra long spring break. As it should be.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sweet 16

I don't know what's sweeter: UCLA's win to advance to the Sweet 16 (it was ugly, but we won...and my family is still teasing me about how loud I screamed at the end) or USC having their ass handed to them in the first round by Kansas State.

My cup runneth over.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


When I made Brady's 2nd birthday invitations, I also planned ahead to Ethan's dinosaur party invites as well. You would think that with all that lead time, these invitations would be ready well in advance. You would, of course, be wrong. However, they are done and they are here. I'm totally not happy with them but he LOVES them. So, I'm happy enough. It's not about me, right? I've had a couple of moms tell me how cute they are. It's so great for the ego hanging out with non-crafty types. The paper is from Around The Block and the bone punch is an EK punch I borrowed from my LSS. I'm on the prowl for a cute dinosaur stamp to make the Thank You notes with. Maybe I'll find one before the thank you cards are 6 months late going out.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Traditions

With blue skies (finally) and gorgeous weather, not to mention blossom-covered trees everywhere, spring has arrived at last. This point was brought home to me last Sunday, when my family participated a number of spring traditions all in one day.

Our day started out at a local Purim carnival. I love living in an area of the country where my Jewish kids have plenty of other Jewish kids around. When I lived in the Northwest, it was very isolating to not be part of a larger Jewish community. I either felt really lonely, or like an animal in the zoo as I was subjected to the fascination of several people who had never met a Jew before. So our trek to the carnival took all of 5 minutes and we played, bounced, jumped, rode a poor, sad pony and ran into lots of friends we knew.

From there we had lunch and headed to our former neighbors' home for an Easter bash. It never occurred to me just what a pretty holiday Easter can be. While the religious meaning of the holiday is completely lost on me, I love the pretty pastel colors, the flowers, the signs of spring everywhere and little kids dressed in pretty clothes running around in the sunshine. Besides, who doesn't like bunnies, especially the variety who bring chocolate. Our friends went all out: each child got his or her own half-dozen eggs to dye before heading out to hunt for 350 eggs! I think we adults had as much fun hiding them as the kids did searching for them. Brady LOVED sidewalk chalk and Julia and Ethan rode their sugar high well into the evening.

Just as the party started to wrap up, we headed home to get read for Julia's 3rd softball game of the season. Their coach says they are steadily improving. Their score has gone from 4-0, to 12-2, to 13-0. I don't see how allowing the opposing team to score more runs in each successive game is an improvement, but I'm not a math major. That's right friends, Julia plays for the Bad News Bears. The games are not only boring, but just bad. We have games each Saturday and Sunday, and Ray and I trade off going so as to not subject ourselves and the other spectators to Brady's incessant screams throughout the game. While it's quite an occasion when our pitcher manages to throw a strike (rather than pitching the ball behind the batter) there are small signs of progress. Besides, sitting outside watching a ball game definitely feels like spring. And the score isn't all that important, right? I know this because after every game Julia has asked us hopefully, "Did we win?"

Another spring occasion is upon us today with the celebration of Noruz (nowrooz), the Persian New Year. I wrote last year about how much I love celebrating a new year in the spring instead of in the middle of dark and gloomy winter. Being spoiled, lazy and overwhelmed with the rest of the chaos in my life, I've left the work to others this year. My sister made the traditional sabzi polo because she enjoys spending an entire day to make one pot of rice. More power to her. We will be celebrating at my parents' tomorrow night, and the eggs my kids dyed at the Easter party will be adorning Goobie's haft seen.

It occurs to me that I've gotten away with doing very little work for any of these holidays this year. No matter, I don't feel guilty. Someday I'll be the grandma or the hostess or not nuts and go all out. For now I'm happy to enjoy the fruits of others' labor, happily buy my carnival tickets and transport my family from one location to the next. However you celebrate, I hope your spring is lovely and full of sweets.

Many thanks to macieklew for his stunning photo. Check out his other work; you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A New (ad)Venture

You know when you're not looking for something and something kind of finds you? Anyone who knows me knows that the last thing I need is a new job or to spend money. But a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a friend's Uppercase Living open house. You know the story: eat some food, drink some wine, buy some obligatory stuff to support your friend. The end.

Only problem was, I fell totally in love with these products. I'd been looking for something like this to decorate my sad bare walls with that was not expensive and easy to install. Besides, this totally appeals to my scrappy side, too. I love the idea of making my home warm and personal and basically, I love words. Plus it's all customizable with a variety of colors, sizes and fonts. And you know I love fonts. So after some thought and market research, I've decided to become an Uppercase Living Demonstrator. I'm really excited to see where this leads.

I'd love it if you guys would look around the website, check out the catalog and tell me what you think. You can access the entire site with the following information:

Go to:
Click on: Customer Corner Login
Demonstrator's ID: 157487
Registration Token: tsp

Of course, feel free to share my ID & registration token with anyone you think is interested. If you're in Southern California and would like to host your own Open House, it's an easy & fun way for you to earn some half-price and free products. You can also host a show online if you're not local. I've promised I won't become that friend. The one who is always trying to get her friends to buy stuff, host parties, sign up for every little thing. If I start acting that way, you are hereby permitted to smack me up side my head and say "What the hell is wrong with you?" Otherwise, thanks for looking and thanks to all of you who've been so supportive so far. This should be a fun ride!

P.S. As I get some of the Expressions in my home and clients' homes, look for a new blog from me showcasing pictures and ideas. More to come on this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poll Update

Thanks to all who voted in my food blog post. Although it would be a stretch to call it "popular demand," those of you who voted were very encouraging. I've got some ideas that I'm working on and will let y'all know when my new blog goes live.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


This is what lucky looks like:

And this is what lucky looks like the next morning:

I was going to write today about Brady's haircut yesterday. How he was so overdue for it and we were getting him spiffed up for his 2nd birthday party on Sunday. How his face looks so cute and little now that all that crazy hair is gone from all around it. How I hadn't seen or felt the baby-soft back of his neck in months. And how some kid spinning the chairs around in the hair salon had him laughing so hard that people kept coming in from other rooms to see what the baby was giggling about (I took a little video but can't get it out of my phone).

Instead, I'm posting what looks like a mug shot that was taken after a street fight. My poor baby tripped and fell last night, scraping his face against the edge of a train table. I heard the thud, followed by the scream, that makes every mother's stomach flip over, and ran upstairs to find him crying hysterically, screaming "Mommy" over and over again. The skin from his nose was stuck in his eyelashes and the tears from his left eye were tinged with blood. He was consoled after a while by Wubbzy, fruit snacks and every toy his brother and sister could bring him to make him happy. The quick dose of Motrin helped too.

Although our pediatrician advised us to bring him over in the morning, because of the proximity of the cut to his eye, I took him to pediatric urgent care last night. The doctor there was very good with him and assured me that all looks well. Although his nose looks busted up, there's nothing more serious than an abrasion and some swelling. Similarly, his eye is just scraped up on the outside but his vision isn't affected. By the time we left, he was schmoozing his way out the door and making the ladies giggle over his cuteness.

Our little Bunch got very, very lucky last night and so did we. I'm trying not to think about how bad this episode could have been if he'd hurt his actual eye. I'm so grateful that our baby boy is ok, and we'll be celebrating his birthday with him healthy, if a little bruised up. I'm also grateful that we have such good resources in our community; it took the pediatrician less than 15 minutes to return my call and the urgent care facility was exactly what we needed in this situation. Like I said, we are very, very, very lucky.

If you haven't voted in my poll yet, you still have time. Speak up and let your voice be heard!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

You Make The Call

For a while now I've been been tossing around the idea of starting a food blog. Granted, there are plenty around, the great majority of which I don't read. Still, I'd like mine to focus on easy, good, reasonably healthy family food that my kids will (kind of) eat & that doesn't use a lot of artificial ingredients. I'll probably also have my fair share of "assembled" dinners using store-bought ingredients and a few shortcuts as I find them.

Here's where you come in. Do you think it's a great idea? Are you just dying for more chances to hear about my kitchen adventures and food neuroses? Or is enough really enough? Do you think the Internet just doesn't have room for one more food blog? Cast your vote in the poll on the sidebar and feel free to comment with your thoughts. I'd love a good idea for a blog name too. See how much power you have? Now do the American thing and go vote.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Whether you love it or hate it, today is Valentine's Day and it is hard to escape the onslaught of hearts and roses. I know some people feel that this is an artificial, overly-commercial "holiday," and they're pretty much right. But then, aren't most holidays these days? It's not a holiday in America without the retailers getting their cut, right?

Even so, I see nothing wrong with a day to celebrate all the people we love, especially when it involves chocolate. I'm always up for an excuse to get gifts and cards and decorate, regardless of the fact that my budget doesn't have much room for it this year. All the more reason to get creative, I say. Having kids makes it more fun to make a big deal out of silly little days like today.

So, live it up and eat some chocolate. Send someone a Valentine. Even better, surprise someone with a Valentine and don't even sign your name. It doesn't have to be romantic, just nice. The world can sure use a little more niceness these days. And don't forget to be nice to yourself. Get YOU some flowers. And if you're one of those people who hates Valentine's Day and is determined to be pissed off all day, it's OK. It's just a silly made up holiday after all.

Happy Valentine's Day to C.P. Storm, who provided the photo for this post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Shout Out

A big thanks to Jennifer Lavender who featured my Valentine-making post on Two Moms In A Blog. Go check it out and then make some Valentines of your own.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Funny Valentines

For some reason, I got a wild hair up my butt to make, instead of buy, Valentines this year. I think the reason was that I just couldn't stomach another trip to Hallmark while I try to throw whatever inappropriate card is within reach into my cart (my Hallmark has carts, do they all?) as quickly as possible while Brady screams at me yet again. Although I'm practically immune to the stares of the other shoppers by now, I knew that somehow I'd grab the wrong thing and my in-laws would end up with an "On The Loss Of Your Pet" card in Spanish for Valentine's Day. So I decided that I don't need any more gray hairs this week and went for the home-made variety.

The first part of this endeavor was getting them to clean all their crap off the dining room table. The next day, I pulled out stickers, cards, scrap paper, die cuts, stamps, ink, punches, markers, glue and probably other stuff and let them go to town. There was a lot of attraction in using Mommy's supplies and Ethan, especially, was quite the enthusiastic little stamper. Unfortunately for him, he was not allowed to use every color ink simultaneously. Anyone who knows him will not be surprised that he would want to.

Other than try to salvage what's left of the finish on the dining room table, I stayed out of their way and just let them create, keeping my opinions to myself (yes, Tannaz, it is possible). Therefore, we ended up with a rainbow of colorful cards in addition to plain old boring red and white. I bet you didn't know purple and yellow (together) were Valentine colors.

What I loved most was watching them create together. There was an interesting give and take in their process. They had to make some decisions together, like who the next card was for and which color it would be, and even though they disagreed, they quickly compromised and got on with it. It was like they subconsciously knew not to ruin their fun with pointless bickering. There was also an unspoken division of labor: Julia did all of the writing (though Ethan signed his own name) and most of the punching while Ethan was the main stamper. He had some great creative ideas and I was glad to see Julia follow his lead. Somehow the age difference between them disappeared and they cheerfully cooperated and created together.

They were more enthusiastic about the first card than the fifth, but we all had a great afternoon together. I'd like to think they got something out of the process. I certainly did and hope to make this yet another tradition. Hopefully the recipients of those Valentines will be able to sense some of the joy and cheer that went into creating them. Especially the green one.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Tiny Little Project

Posting the invitation for Brady's 2nd birthday party (when did that happen?!) here makes me realize how plain and simple it really is. There's a fine line between understated and plain, and I think this is the latter. Never mind, though. It's done and out and it has Mickey on it. And ribbon.
In case anyone is wondering, the font is called Minnie.

If anyone has some great ideas for a Mickey Mouse party for kids of various ages, post away. We'll be decorating Mickey cookies, and Mickey ears. There will be Mickey coloring pages. And a Mickey pinata. I think that should be enough, don't you?

My next project will be dinosaur invitations for Ethan's party in April. I'll post when they are done.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Election Day, Part 1

This will not be a pretty post. There will be complaining and snarkiness. There might be profanity. You've been warned.

Here we are on "Super Tuesday," halfway through the needlessly endless process that we use in this country to elect...Presidential Candidates. And this has been going on for at least a year. And the inauguration is just under a year away. So until then we're held hostage by political ads, sound-bites, interviews, more ads, talking heads on every cable channel, phone call after phone call (our reward for being diligent voters), letters, requests for money, polls, and some more ads. Unlike Super Bowl ads, the political ones are neither amusing nor humorous, and hardly informative. But they are incessant. And they're expensive. And so are the candidates' staffs, and their jets (have you noticed, gas has gone up), and their hotel rooms, and their staffs' hotel rooms, and their conventions, and their pollsters, and their mailers and their incessant ads. We're at the point where it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to get elected President in our country.

So while the candidates are telling their voters - and they all know who their own particular voters are - what they think the voters want to hear, they also have their hands out to those who can finance their campaigns. And when the campaigns are over and one person has won, do you think his or her debt will be to the voters or to the financiers? It doesn't matter which side you look at. The Republicans have their corporations and the Democrats have their unions. Both have deep pockets, plenty of lobbyists and a lot of clout.

I'm sorry that I'm so cynical, but I've been disappointed by every person I've ever given my vote for President to. I can't embrace another dynamic candidate and think he'll be the one to change things up. I can't imagine that one person can unite our shamefully divided and partisan Congress and cause them to bring about change or improvements. And while I do believe that our public servants enter politics with the sincere goal of serving their constituencies, I don't believe that they get to stay in office unless they embrace quite different goals.

At the same time, my heart hurts when I think about the money that we spend on Presidential campaigns and the lives it could help and the problems it could solve. Pick your cause: poverty, hunger, disease eradication, the environment? Would throwing $100 million at it help? Instead of giving constant speeches about funding universal health care, let's figure out a way to funnel the campaign money to ACTUALLY FUND IT. That would be a campaign I could get behind.

As disappointed as I am with the process and the candidates, I did vote. I voted for someone who seems moderate and somewhat sane. I don't know if he'll be elected. I don't think it'll make much difference if he does. I do want our country to be safe, and secure, and prosperous. I do want equal opportunity for all. I do want us to fulfill all of the endless potential we have. I'm just not sure if the folks who are running for the White House are the best choices to help us do that.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bad, Bad Mommy

I think back to the day when I decided that I should be a SAHM and raise my kids myself even though it would mean sacrificing my career (snort) and lots more. I would engage my darlings in educational games in between teaching them foreign languages and fixing them healthy meals. We would go play outside and indulge in the wonders of nature, then come inside for some hands-on science projects.

That fantasy did not involve me laying around in my PJ's, sick to my stomach, putting on one TV show after another (on separate TVs, no less) to keep these guys entertained while I try to ignore the strange sounds emanating from my poor tummy.

Reality sucks.

Not feeling guilty or anything around here.

Now if the diaper fairy would show up to change The Stinky One, my day would be complete.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Crazy Talk

It's a sad day when you realize that your fantasies involving romantic weekends away, massages and George Clooney have been replaced with dreams of one perfect day: going from Target, to Kohl's, to Trader Joe's, to the mall, to Costco all alone and then coming home to a grocery delivery, clean laundry, and a clean house.

Now that I think about it, a romantic weekend away with George is probably more likely.

Post Script...

to the crock pot post: I have recently found a great Crock pot blog, written by someone who is resolving to cook something different in her crock pot every day in 2008. As if her crazy ambition wasn't enough, she's also a funny and charming writer. Check out A Year of CrockPotting and tell Steph I sent you.