Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Word

I'm not doing resolutions this year. Not because I don't believe in them but because I want to try something different. I read recently about choosing one word that becomes the theme for the new year. I liked that idea and thought it would be an interesting way to think about how I want to navigate my fresh start. I love January, I love closing the door on the last year and being open to the possibilities that are to come. I always feel a little sad and weary in October and November as I realize that the year is winding to a close and I wonder if I've crossed off any of the things on my list. So this year, there will be no list - just one word.

a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity

This will be my word for 2010. I'm really looking forward to kicking 2009 to the curb.

If you'd like to learn more about the one little word idea, visit Ali Edwards' blog. Her scrapbook layouts and ideas are amazing and she's also good with the words.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ice Skating in Pershing Square

We've had Tom's father here for the last 5 days. We had a great time. On his first night here we had dinner at our favorite Greek place and then toured a nearby neighborhood that always gets decked out for the holidays. Christmas Eve was spent at the Sullivans. Christmas day dawned early - I think we finished unwrapping everything by 9:00am. We had delicious duck hash and poached eggs for breakfast - courtesy of my breakfast chef husband. Christmas dinner was had at Abe's deli because we were all too tired to make anything. The next day, we went whale watching off the coast. We saw hundreds upon hundreds of dolphins. They jumped and swam alongside the boat. We saw 2 fin whales. Dinner was seafood-themed, of course, at Bubba Gump.
Sunday was spent relaxing, playing with new toys, eating too much junk food - topped off with burgers and shakes from In and Out.

And yesterday was ice skating in Pershing Square followed by lunch in Chinatown.

Good times.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Boy oh boy

I tried to fix the red eyes but I couldn't do it without making them look a little spookish. Besides, red eyes make them even more devilishly handsome, right?
The hair, Jack's big smile, Dean's adorable pout, the pose, the ties!
Oh we're going to be in trouble.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Won!!

I won two delightful prints from the t.ruffle shop! One is for me, me, me and the other is for me to give away.

I have so many lovelies in my life - it'll be hard to pick one. Maybe I'll put all your names in a hat and have myself a raffle.

The t.ruffle shop is closing down today but they've promised they'll be back with more delightful confections in the new year.

In the meantime, go to the sweeterie and look through the lens of a couple of dreamy women.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gift Guide Update!

The punching bag for Dean has been purchased!
Yee haw!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Weekend

Our weekend was not at all the way I had planned it but it still turned out pretty darn good, especially considering how it started.

Dean called out for me just before midnight. He told me his stomach didn't feel good. I asked him if he needed to throw up. No, he said and promptly fell asleep. 10 minutes later he woke up and went flying into the bathroom. He spent the next 2 1/2 hours getting sick. He spent the next day on the couch watching Christmas specials. We were supposed to drop them off at the daycare on Saturday night so we could go Christmas shopping and see a movie. But, in all honesty, I was a little relieved that it got cancelled. We spent the day doing laundry and cleaning up the house while Dean slept. Tom and I both had upset stomachs for most of the day but luckily, it never got worse. I was in bed by 9:00 and slept like a log until 7:00am.

Today I tested for my brown stripe belt (yay!) and while I was gone the boys put up the Christmas lights. Finally our house is beginning to look a bit festive!

After my belt test we met Uncle Peter & Uncle Julian for dinner with Uncle P's dad. Now, I'm sitting here in my favorite chair, coming down off my 2 beers, the boys are asleep and Tom's at P & J's smoking cigars and sitting in the jacuzzi. I should be jealous of him, I suppose but in reality, I'm so looking forward to being in bed in an hour.

'Night people.

Gift Guide Update!

Battle Strikers for both boys are taken. Indiana Jones Legos for Jack is taken and Darth Vader Legos for Dean is taken.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Gift Guide Update!

Hoodie and Swingball set is taken for Jack!

Monday, December 07, 2009


Whenever I have to go pee really, really bad? I just shake it. And then, it makes my pee dizzy and it has to just go lie down for a while. That's what I do when I'm playing handball so I can keep playing.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Late Anniversary

My first Tae Kwon Do class was one year ago yesterday. I'm a little bummed that I missed the actual anniversary but for some reason, I thought it was December 4th. No matter - the bottom line is I've just passed the one year mark and this morning I was invited to test for my brown stripe belt on December 13th.

People! After brown stripe there is only one belt between me and black!!

Last year at this time I struggled to remember basic self defense techniques, basic hand techniques, basic forms. Today I'm a brown belt about to begin training and preparation for the black belt test.

This is something I had wanted to do for a long, long time. Every time I passed a martial arts studio I looked in wistfully but never worked up the courage to do anything about it. It was too much money or too much time, I always thought and never pursued how much money or how much time it would actually take. In August 2008, I made a list of things that I want to do in my lifetime - sort of like a bucket list. At the top of that list was 'get a black belt in tae kwon do'. I decided not to worry about the time or the money and trust the universe to provide what I really longed for. Now, I know a lot of people think that I must have read The Secret or some other new wave, new age guru nonsense. Not true. I just believed that if I put it out there, somehow it would come to me. And you know what?

It did.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jack & Dean Christmas Gift Guide - UPDATE!

Update 12/17/09: Punching bag and gloves purchased for Dean!

Update 12/13/09: Battle Strikers for both boys are taken. Indiana Jones Legos taken for Jack and Darth Vader Legos taken for Dean.

Update 12/9/09: Swingball set and Hoodie for Jack are taken!


Update 12/4/09: Magic 8 Balls and books (Where the Sidewalk Ends and The 7 Year old Wonder) are taken!


I took the boys to Target today and asked them to point out things that they want for Christmas. Then I had a great idea to post their wishlist here for those who are looking for ideas. Please let me know if you intend to purchase an item on the list and I'll post an update. Isn't technology great?

Here's the list:

Swingball set
Lego Indiana Jones Fighter Plane Attack
Eyeclops Night Vision 2.0 Infrared Stealth Binoculars
Lego Anakin's Jedi Skyfighter
Battle Strikers Reload Striker "Skullor"
Virtual Speed Baseball
Magic 8 Ball
Hoodie sweatshirt with zipper - size small (6-7)
Game cartridges for Leap Frog DIDJ - they already have Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Sonic the Hedgehog
Where the Sidewalk Ends

Punching Bag and Gloves
Lego Star Wars Darth Vader TIE Fighter
Lego Star Wars Separatist Shuttle
Lego Space Police Space Container Heist
Lego Power Miners Rock Wrecker
Battle Strikers Reload Striker "Gauntlet"
Magic 8 Ball
Hoodie sweatshirt with zipper - size small (6-7)
Game cartridges for Leap Frog DIDJ - they already have Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Sonic the Hedgehog
The Seven Year Old Wonder Book

I hope this list is helpful. Let me know if you plan to purchase an item from the list so I can post an update.

Happy shopping!

Friday, November 27, 2009


I guess I'm in a writerly mood today. I swear it's either feast or famine around here.

Anyway, here are 20 things I'm grateful for today:

  • Time. I spent several hours helping Dean put together his Lego City set and I didn't worry about what wasn't getting done.
  • Sleeping until 8:00am.
  • Coffee and cream.
  • Glorious weather that was neither too hot nor too cold.
  • That the idiot woman in the Lexus SUV finally heard all the shouting and slowed down before rounding the corner where my children and other hikers were standing. I'm grateful but I'd still like to drag her out of her car by her hair and scare the living hell out of her.
  • My breath which kept me calm even as an idiot woman barreled through a peaceful hiking canyon with no thought whatsoever as to who might be hiking.
  • My martial arts training which I thought might be used on the stupid woman in the lexus.
  • The first aid kit in the Hyundai which came in handy after Dean fell off his bike and skinned his knee.
  • Carney's! Almost helped me forget about the . . . nevermind.
  • Playing handball with Jack and getting my butt kicked.
  • Our vet who gives us a discount since we have to take Kate in monthly for her shot.
  • That my anxiety is under control. Maybe turkey is a natural remedy for anxiety?
  • That Tom is an excellent breakfast cook. A yummy frittata yesterday and egg-in-a-hole today with fried sausage. What will tomorrow morning bring?
  • 4 day weekends.
  • Ice cream, cookie dough, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and peanuts.
  • Turkey carcass in my fridge that's just begging to be turned into soup.
  • That Jack puts himself to bed when he's tired.
  • My house. Though it's littered with toys and discarded shoes, it's ours and it's cozy and comfortable.
  • That Dean seemed to really hear me today when I told him that he's an amazing, incredible kid who is smart and brave.
  • My health. I'm feeling good and strong.


Grandma got them this gift and it was a huge hit. Don't they look big?

Dean made this face for every present he opened. He gets so excited.

Jack tends to be more reserved.

Bike riding in Franklin Canyon today. It was gorgeous.

After our hike, we went to Carney's for hot dogs and sodas. Yummm.

Lame November Recap

I certainly didn't mean to gloss over the boys' birthdays by just phoning in a picture.
They are 7 now. Totally 7. Roll their eyes, toss their hair, slump on the couch playing video games 7.

But they still need me to put together their Lego sets, so there's that.

Actually, I just like putting together their Lego sets and they let me think that they need the help.

We had a birthday party for them last week and I hired a "Mad Scientist" to entertain the kids. I'll try to post some pictures later. They had a really great time - no meltdowns!

I tested for my new belt last week. I now have just two more color belts to go and then I'll be devoting all of my training to getting ready for the black belt test in June.

Work. Bleah.

Hey, Happy Thanksgiving! That was yesterday. My phone died so I didn't call anyone and I spent most of the day cleaning up the house (finally) and making the turkey. Mmm, the turkey was phenom. So was the gravy. We went to the Sullivans for dinner. Colleen provided all the sides and we did the turkey and gravy. Which was phenom. Oh, I already said that. Well, it's true.

We just finished brunch and now we're going to Franklin Canyon so the boys can ride their bikes around the lake and we can give the dogs a little exercise.

Oh, before I forget. Have you visited Mackin Ink? You should. Besides pulling together the most beautiful images, she writes the most lovely words about her girlies three. Really makes me wish I would see more of the Peter Pan in the shenanigans of my fearless duo.

Ok, I'm off for a hike in the canyon.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Birthday boy!


Birthday boy!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Poem by Dean

Dean wrote his first poem over the weekend.
Here it is:

My Dog

I have a dog
I like to pet
He waits and waits for me
He jumps and jumps
And then I throw the frisbee

Where to Begin?

To say we've been busy is to vastly understate it.

This is the last week of my Mondo Beyondo class. The first week was absolute heaven but life has interfered since then and I haven't devoted the time, energy and focus to it like I wanted to. It's okay because the lessons will still be there after the 5 weeks is over so I can do them when I can really spend time on them. At the same time it's a little disappointing because I had so hoped to have some sort of magnificent revelation about myself and my biggest dreams. No such revelation yet. Although, I found myself saying something out loud the other day that I've only really dreamt about so maybe it's working on the most subconscious of levels.

This Friday and Saturday I will be participating in an Inspired Work program with 5 other lucky people. Carolyn (my old boss) did this same program in October and came away from it completely energized, excited and focused. I'm hoping for the same. Then Saturday night we (my handsome spouse and I) will be attending the Princess and the Frog wrap party. Sunday is gloriously open on our calendar and I will be protecting that time with all the ferocity of a lioness protecting her cubs.

Yesterday I took the boys to the doctor to get their seasonal flu vaccines and the h1n1 vaccine. The waiting room was full of sickly looking children bundled up in blankets with bed head, sniffly noses and hacking coughs. I signed us in and then promptly asked to move to the infant area where the healthy people can wait for their turn. We moved to a room pretty quickly where Jack suddenly started complaining of a headache. I touched him and he felt warm. Glassy eyes were noted. The nurse took his temp and it was normal but he wasn't looking good to me. I waited until the last second and then decided not to give him the h1n1 (they were out of seasonal flu vaccs). Dean took his shot like a trooper - didn't even cry. He was so brave. We left there and headed to the school where I dropped off Dean. I checked Jack's temp when we got home and it was 100.2 degrees. So glad I went with my gut on that one. This came on so fast with him. He was fine when he woke up but when he complains of a headache, it usually means he has a fever coming on. It came down quickly with a dose of tylenol and we've been cycling through medication ever since. He's home again today and feels fine as long as he has the medicine in him. I hope this cycles through soon and he can go back to school tomorrow. Dean hasn't caught it so far.

I tested last Saturday for my next belt level and my friend Priscilla was in attendance to witness it. She took lots of pictures which she's going to put on a disk and she took video of my sparring. As soon as I get it I'll post the video here and maybe a few pictures too. I had a great test, despite my nervousness. I get so nerved up for the tests. I know all my technique but there's something about being there on the mat in front of the masters and grandmaster that gets my adrenaline pumping. I have to learn to control that before my black belt test because all that tension is exhausting and the black belt test is a two day test. I don't want to waste my energy on needless tension.

I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving. Studio is closed for 4 days so my email can't stack up. Four days of relaxing with my family and friends, eating good food, drinking good wine. We have plans on the day of and the Saturday after and I think I'm going to keep the other days open so we can just relax. I need time to breathe and think.

Work is going as fine as it can be, I guess. It's a little weird being in meetings discussing processes which once implemented will likely make my job obsolete but I'm doing my best to remain positive and helpful.

The boys are turning 7 in just a couple of weeks. How is that possible? I vacillate between being completely in love with them one moment and then wanting to throttle them the next. They are by turns loving, hateful, affectionate, pouty, excited, bored, maddening, intoxicating - sometimes within 5 minutes. Their reading comprehension is growing exponentially as is their spelling ability. Dean is struggling with math and Jack struggles with his printing. Jack just needs to take his time and one of these days I swear I'm going to hear a clicking sound when working with Dean on his math problems. Until then, I need to stay as patient as possible even when I have to explain how to reach the sum of 9 + 5 for the 100th time. I've managed to stay relatively organized despite the mountain of papers that come home each day. I like both of their teachers and think they are in the right classes.

That's enough for now, right?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Looking Up

I haven't written about it but September was a rocky month. Beginning with the news that my boss is leaving and punctuated by my milestone birthday of FORTY (FORTY is always in all caps), each day found me in a different state of agitation. Sometimes depressed, afraid and angry, other times high with the possibilities that lie ahead, always with a hint of hyperventilation and the threat of hives. On the one hand I've been entertaining the biggest of dreams and then my inner critic surfaces and, well, she can wreck the best of parties.
Change is in the air, of that I am certain. I don't know when for sure it will come but it seems inevitable. Restructuring at work will result in a complete change in my job unless of course there isn't a job left at all. This isn't speculation on my part - the powers that be are doing right by me by being straight up honest about everything and I am grateful for that. There may be other options within my division and there may be other options in the company. Or it may just be time for me to leave.
Believe it or not, turning FORTY was the major highlight of September. The age doesn't bother me - I love birthdays so it doesn't matter what number it is. I had a few friends over, ate some good food, drank a lot of wine and then slept in the next day. It was perfect. But FORTY is a milestone, is it not? And it does start one to thinking about how to spend the next FORTY. Suddenly, at FORTY, I'm beginning to ask myself the hard questions again: What do you want to do with your life? What are your biggest dreams? Isn't there more? The funny thing is, what keeps coming up most frequently in my mind is that I want to work less. I want to spend more time with my family. I want to get home when they're coming home from school. So how do I do that and still make a living? Where can I go where I only have to work from 9 to 3? And still make a decent salary? And still feel fulfilled? Or does my fulfillment come from the ability to devote this time to my family?
You see why September was such a roller coaster for me?
Mondo Beyondo starts tomorrow - an online course about dreaming big and fulfilling your biggest dreams. It may not be the answer, it may bring me many, many more questions but it seems like it's the right timet to dream big.
I am also taking a workshop in November called Inspired Work. I'm not sure how exactly it will work in my case but I think the concept is this: work is a significant relationship in our lives and most people are unhappy with what they are doing. Inspired Work is about helping you become inspired in the work you are doing or inspired to make a change. I mentioned this workshop to someone the other day and she said "what happens if you find out you're doing something you shouldn't really be doing and now you've had all these years of experience and school and it's too late". And I thought my inner critic was tough. The thing is, it's never too late to make a change. My mom went back to school at the age of 47. She became a nurse at 52 years old - her lifelong dream. Julia Child went to Le Cordon Bleu at the age of 47. I'm only FORTY.
I like stability so all these questions make me a little crazy but I can't help but be a little excited at what could be. I don't know what the future will bring but so far, October is looking up.


Kate and Wolfie

Friday, October 02, 2009

Bike Riders

Big thanks to Dean for helping to teach Jack how to ride a bike. Great encouragement, always positive. I'm so proud.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Mondo Beyondo!

Only 4 more days until MONDO BEYONDO!! I can't wait!

The next session is in January and registration is open. Go!


I found out yesterday that someone I used to work with passed away. She had just celebrated her 56th birthday in Vegas with her family. She wasn't suffering from a long term illness. She planned her trip to Vegas and started feeling sick either just before her trip or during her trip. She went to hospital, was admitted and then moved to ICU in just days. Just 23 days later, she passed away after 3 weeks in a coma. The cause of death is still unknown. All we know is that she had trouble breathing and that's why she went to the hospital. It escalated from there to a collapsed lung and then one by one her organs started shutting down. My heart goes out to her family and friends. It's such a shock and we here at DAS are all reeling.

Hug your people close, be grateful for every day, be brave, pursue your dreams, pass it on.

Blaze your own fiery trail.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Freaked Out

It was a great class yesterday morning. We worked on olympic sparring technique only and it was great. It's hard, it's confusing and it required all of my mental and physical focus but it was so great. Then, we sparred for the last 5 minutes. I caught 2 decent kicks to the solar plexus, lost a little breath and then panicked. My throat started closing up and I realized that while I was fine physically, mentally I was freaked and just that realization caused the panic to worsen. I couldn't breathe. The more I thought about the fact that I couldn't breathe, the worse the constriction in my throat became. My breath became a whistle as I paced the studio, trying to regain control.
'Ki-hap loud!' the master commanded. And I did. A ki-hap that started from the tips of my toes and blasted out the top of my head. I instantly felt better but the panic was back within an instant. I did another ki-hap. And another. And another. Each one loud and raw. I heard someone say wow. One more and finally, finally I was able to get control of my breathing. I let the Master know that I was ok. He called me over to face my partner, ordered us to fighting stance, and I waited for him to say 'begin' but he didn't. He let us stand there, facing each other, ready to fight, and then he said stop. We came to attention, bowed and shook hands. He just wanted to make sure I'd come back to fight.
In that moment, I wasn't really sure what triggered it. It was like the panic that I experienced the first time I sparred, times 100. I mean, I know it's fear but I don't know what specific fear it is. I've been playing it over and over in my head. I think it was because I was frustrated that I wasn't sparring well, that I hadn't internalized the new technique that I just learned, that I seemed to have forgotten all the technique I had learned to date.
Master strongly urged me to go to sparring class last night. Push through the panic. He doesn't want me to quit and after the morning's episode, I'm sure he thought it was a possibility. I have no intention of quitting, though. There is just too much that I love about it to let one bad day of sparring get to me.
I went to the sparring class and didn't have any panic episodes. On the other hand, I did have moments of thinking I was going to throw up and/or pass out but that was just from sheer exertion, not panic. I got kicked in the head and punched a lot but I never panicked and I never got knocked down. I also realized that I'm still relying far too heavily on my round house kick and not doing nearly enough combinations. I really need to give myself a break though. It's only been 10 months and I've already progressed very quickly. I need to relax, I know. And breathe.

Today though, I tested for my blue belt, which was awesome, and I drove home feeling proud and confident and exhausted. And one belt closer to black.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Have you Wordled?


Wordle: Values

Image courtesy of

Words by me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Meet Wolfie - the newest member of our family.

Cats make the best fighters

I crawled back into bed and slowly stretched my legs to the end, pushing gently against the weight of a small, warm animal which had burrowed itself under the covers during my absence. It must be Peaches, I thought, my sleepy subconscious ignoring the fact that she died 2 years ago. It began moving then and crawled towards the pillows, poking it's head from between the sheet and blanket, it sat on my chest and looked at me. It was a black cat with white paws and white on it's chest. I said to it, "you're not Peaches". And it replied, "No, Peaches doesn't live here anymore. Now I do." I said, "No, you don't" and made a move to push the cat off the bed, not thinking it at all strange that it spoke to me. Before I could move it though, it said, "You know, cats make the best fighters" and it tried to pin me with it's front paws. I countered and managed to grab his front legs. I said, "Cats may be good fighters but you're still just a cat. I can take you." I sat up and picked him up by the scruff of his neck and carried him to the back door. When I opened the door, Peaches stuck her head out of a hole in the deck and looked at me with relief.

Then I woke up.

Yeah, I had a really good time last night.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Got Skillz

Check out my mad photoshop skillz:

Photoshop: it's eye opening.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dean's Bike Ride

I think I forgot to mention that Dean learned how to ride a bike without training wheels.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Chinese Lanterns

Look up at the sky
Feel the sun warm your skin
Breathe deeply
Everything's going to be alright

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day Part II

Well, look at me back in my favorite chair with my feet up on my ottoman.

It was a great day. We took Layne and Paula down to Chinatown to introduce Layne to Dim Sum. I had forgotten how they don't even wait for you to sit before they offer a tin of this and a plate of that. To the uninitiated it can be quite intimidating. But Layne rolls with the punches and soon our table was full of interesting things, mostly filled with shrimp as it would turn out. There was fried shrimp with sugar cane, rice balls filled with shrimp, spring rolls with shrimp, honeyed shrimp and walnuts, fried wontons filled with shrimp and a platter of fried prawns whose black eyes stared right through me. We also had pork bao and chicken bao and some other chicken dish which I can't begin to explain except to say that it tasted good and I wouldn't want to know which parts of the chicken were used. We used chopsticks, even the boys, and nothing went flying across the room (miraculously) though one of the chopsticks was broken in half. After we filled our bellies, we browsed the shop, marveled at the delicate plates, bowls and cups, turned our noses up at unfamiliar fare (like mung beans - what is that?), and sampled the teas until we finally felt like we'd tested fate enough with having two six year olds in a china shop, and left. On our way back to the car we bought some snap pops for Jack (little explosives that you throw onto the sidewalk) and a fan for Dean. We took the long way home and showed Paula and Layne around downtown Los Angeles. Through the industrial area, a quick (very quick) foray into East LA, circled back through the garment district, the fashion district, past the Convention Center and the Staples Center, through the jewelry district and the historic district and closed the loop back at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Then onto the freeway where we headed for Burbank to drive by my office and have some ice cream in Downtown Burbank.

They left shortly after we returned home and the rest of the evening was spent with the boys and I at the table putting together the legos (a gift from Paula and Layne). Tomorrow is the last day of summer vacation for the boys and then it's back to school. I am ready for fall, craving crisp air and crunchy leaves, sweaters and boots (though I don't know how I'd get my swollen feet into them), frost on the grass and roof tops. There's something about the transition to 'back to school' that makes me long for the fall.

Then again, I was at the beach just yesterday and already mourning the loss of summer so, there ya go.

Labor Day

I am sitting in my favorite chair with my feet up on my favorite ottoman, an ice pack wrapped around my right foot in an effort to stave off more swelling, more bruising on an already swollen and bruised foot. My body is humming still from this morning's effort, my face relaxed and rosy and happy. Tom came to the studio with us this morning to watch the boys on their last day of training with Master Dylan. They go back to school on Wednesday and will no longer be able to be in class with me. It is good and bad. I am happy to get back to our regular adult dynamic in the morning with adult-level focus. But I have enjoyed watching the boys challenge themselves and learn something new. They demonstrated excellent focus and discipline this morning which made me especially proud.

Five more minutes of ice and then I must get up to start some laundry and clean up the house. My uncle is driving up today with his fiancee and I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing visit.

Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Boys' Treasures

Boys, I am discovering, love to collect things. Girls probably do too though I imagine that they collect things which are shinier and, as a general rule, smell better. But I'm not raising girls.

I am doing laundry this morning and that is when I find most of the collections. Sometimes, if I've mistakenly assumed that they've emptied their pockets, I find them at the bottom of the washer. Almost every weekend I narrowly escape clothing disaster just by pure luck of the laundry gods. There is no reason why a jagged piece of glass just managed to stay at the bottom of the washer without first slashing through my favorite Gap peasant blouse. I used to separate my clothes from the boys' clothes but then I got lazy and California decided to have a water shortage so now I combine them and go through the pockets as diligently as possible. Still, in the first load of the day I found 2 dimes and a key. I'm thrilled about the 2 dimes because kids are expensive and I can use every cent I find. The key is a mystery. It is not a standard key and I have no idea to what lock it opens. I checked the pockets but somehow missed these little treasures. I did find 2 bakugan balls, some sand encrusted legos, some sort of miniature circuit thingy and the clip of a pen. Then I went for the backpacks. Dean's contained nothing of note: a couple of books, his Dodger monkey and a few rocks. Jack's on the other hand, contained a packet of marigold seeds, a rusty screw and a roll of industrial tape. Hmmmm, what is he plotting?

Monday, August 31, 2009

World Food Day - August 2009

World Food Day is something that Peter and I came up with about a year or so ago. The idea is simple: we decide on a cuisine of the world, come up with a menu together, do all the shopping together and then cook together. It's all done at Peter and Julian's house and usually, Tom and Julian keep the kids entertained. This was our third World Food Day but the first that I've documented. It also happened to be our very best!

All of our recipes came out of the Williams Sonoma Mediterranean cookbook.

Of course we had to take a dip in the pool before we could begin our work!

The Menu:
Chicken and Seafood Paella
Stuffed Tomatoes
Wilted Greens tossed with Anchovies and Garlic
Orange-Scented Almond Torte

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dear Tom

Dear Tom,

Today is your birthday. I've been keeping my ears open in the weeks prior to this day, hoping there might be a hint, an idea, ANYTHING that would tell me what to give to you. Finally, I just came right out and asked you.
I want to go camping, you said.
We're doing that, I said.
Great! Thanks for my birthday present, you said.
Hmmmph, I thought.

You need clothes but that seems to always be my default when I can't think of anything.
You needed a new fishing bag but you bought it for yourself before I had a chance.

I love you - do you know how much I love you? I can't believe sometimes how incredibly lucky I am to have found you and each year finds me more and more in love with you. I wish I could do more for you, give more to you. I adore you.

So today is your birthday and we're surrounded by pine trees, breathing fresh air, smoke from our campfire still clinging to our clothes and hair. We are likely bleary eyed from the late night and early rise that always comes with the camping territory. But there's coffee brewing and bagels to consume. The lake is beckoning and the fish are biting. I don't think there is a better way to celebrate you and your birthday.

Happy Birthday my love.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Photos and Memories

Since I took the photography workshop in May, I've been trying to pay more attention to light and composition. I've been avoiding my "auto" setting on my camera, staying instead on aperture priority and using natural light as much as possible. Here are some of my favorite shots from my vacation that don't include kids as subjects.
The old shed on my grandparent's farm.

A butterfly showing off it's two hearts.
The hay barn on my grandparent's farm.
The meadow in front of the farmhouse. I love this shot. It captures my memories of the farm. Running through the meadow to the creek to catch minnows, playing frisbee or football or catch, catching fireflies, playing dodgeball with my uncles. The farm was magic.
I love the way the light shows through the petals and flashes on the water that's trickling in the background. This is just one of the many flowers that are planted around the fountain at my mom's house.
One of my most favorite shots. I love the light tip of the flower against the black background and then the way the stem is blurred. I used the macro setting on my camera for this shot.
Another bunch of flowers at my mom's house.
You walk two feet into the woods and it's a different place. The trees are alive with the birds chirping to one another, mosquitoes are suddenly in a frenzy at the smell of fresh blood, there is a stillness in the air which is at odds with the sound of the birds and buzzing of mosquitoes. And the air is fragrant with the smell of green moss and freshly fallen rain, even when it hasn't rained. It's magical and these woods surround my mom's home.
I found these wildflowers at the base of a tree in the woods.
I love the way this old red pump shows up against the green of the woods.
Sunlight shimmering on the lake (lagoon?) at Columbia Park, another place where I spent many summer days playing at the playground, swimming at the pool, feeding the ducks, lazily traversing the lake on paddle boats with my grandparents, throwing my club down in anger at the mini-golf course (to the utter delight of my grandpa), and sliding down the giant slide. This is the lake where my Uncle Monte and I once went ice skating where he told me before we ever stepped foot on the ice that if there was suddenly a "BOOM" sound that meant that the ice was cracking and I should lay down to distribute my weight evenly and then crawl to the edge. Then, after skating for a while, there really was a "BOOM" sound and while I did as I was told, my Uncle Monte was high-tailing it across the ice as fast as he could run!
Though this park has changed quite a bit since those days, it's still a place of wonderful memories for me.
I did not stage this photo - this is how it was when I walked into the yard. I just love it. This is on my grandparent's farm, in the yard just to the side of the house. The bike is leaning against the post that's holding up the badminton net. That net has been up for decades! An impulse shot because I didn't know how it would look. This is inside the hay barn and that's a barn swallow perched on the window looking outside. I didn't know if there was enough light but I really love the way it came out. I love the hint of woods in the background through the dirty glass, love the profile of the bird as it seems to be peering outside.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Vacation Pictures

More to come, I promise!