Monday, December 14, 2009

I Mean, Really...

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Scouting We Will Go!

We had been looking for quite a while for some sort of activity that Noah would really enjoy doing. He was adamant about not playing sports. Even though he seemed early on to have an ear for music, that interest seems to have dwindled. When I tried to sign him up for karate, he freaked out because he thought I wanted to take him to a place so kids could kick him and karate chop him, and he had to defend himself from that.


Finally, a flyer for Cub Scouts came home with him from school and I thought that might be JUST the thing. We wanted him to learn more about respect, working together, service to others, pride, and build up his self esteem a little bit.

I took him to one meeting and he just LOVED it.


And immediately after that, we had an opportunity for one of us to spend a weekend at Camp Mataguay with him for lots of cub scout fun! So I stayed home with the twins, and Michael took Noah to camp for two nights this weekend.

They got to go fishing ("We caught a bunch of WEEDS!") and hiking. Noah was able to learn how to do archery and shoot BB guns, he threw a vase on a pottery wheel for me, they went canoeing watched skits, and Noah spent a lot of much needed quality time with his Dad.

Next time... I wanna go!

Michael took some videos and photos while there, so I thought I would share those.

This is my boy doing archery.

This is my boy getting a bullseye, baby!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

All Aboard!

Luka has become quite the train aficionado lately. He discovered a friend's Thomas trains and little tracks and he hasn't looked back since. I got him a little set of used Thomas trains.

He likes watching that insanely boring show on TV, but I have to admit it is completely and utterly adorable to see him hooking up train cars, huddled over his tracks and moving his trains around making little chugging sounds.

My neighbor and I each have three kids, and while our eldest children were off getting their higher education, we loaded the little kids into one van and went off to the stadium where there is a San Diego Trolley station and climbed aboard. It was the perfect thing to do with four small boys.

The kids loved the trip, pointing out all the school buses, shopping malls and mountains they could see passing by out the windows. They loved not having to sit in car seats! We took two separate rail lines over to a small steam train museum where kids can explore a caboose and a climb into the engineer's platform on a steam engine.

Then we headed across the street to our favorite coffeehouse for moms with kids, Java Mama, to let them blow off some steam of their own while Audra and I filled up on caffeine.

Two more trains got us back to our van and then we headed home in time for lunch! That was enough to do me in for the day, even with the extra caffeine.

I had loads of good camera fodder. You can see more photos over on my flickr page!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Not Clear On The Concept

Today, Noah became very frustrated with Luka about something and started saying some very mean and hurtful words. I told him that that kind of talk was not acceptable in our family, and so he stomped off to go draw a picture for Luka to show him his feelings since he was not allowed to do so verbally. He brings the drawing to Luka and presents it.

Noah: Here, Luka, this is for you.

Luka: For me?

Noah: Yeah. It's a picture of an evil chicken eating a boy and it's to show you how angry I am at you and that I really wish you would get eaten by something.

Luka: You made a picture for me!?

Noah: Yeah. This here says, "I - hate - you."

Luka: I LOVE IT!

Noah: You aren't supposed to love it. It's to show you how angry I am at you!

Luka: It's beautiful! Thank you, Noah!

Noah: It's not beautiful! It's MEAN! It says, "I hate you" on it!

Luka: What's this word?

Noah: It's HATE! It says HATE! H-A-T-E!!!

Luka: Good job, Noah!

Noah: You don't understand! You are getting attacked by this evil chicken!

Luka: Is me?

Noah: Yeah. And an evil chicken!

Luka: I love it! Thank you, Noah!

Noah: Oh... NEVER MIND!!!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Interview with Luka

Okay, so it's Luka's turn. He is a bit behind Ethan in language skills. Pretty good at saying what he wants to say, but not the greatest at comprehending what is said to him. I had to ask him some of these questions in different wording. And this interview was done in about three different sittings because he was a bit frustrated. But it's darn cute.

1. What is something mommy always says to you?
(makes a kiss sound)

2. What makes mommy happy?
A bandaid.

3. What makes mommy sad?
What about clothes?

4. How does your mommy make you laugh?
Look what I found!

5. What did your mommy like to do when she was a child?
I want to find you on a picture.

6. How old is your mommy ?

7. How tall is your mommy ?

8. What is her favorite thing to watch on TV?

9. What does your mommy do when you're not around?

10. If your mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?

11. What is your mommy really good at?
Four. Or two. Or one.

12. What is your mommy not very good at?
I want to play my games.

13. What does your mommy do for her job?

14. What is your mommy 's favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of your mommy?

16. If your mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
What cartoon mean?

17. What do you and your mommy do together?
Play outside. Let me show you outside.

18. How are you and your mommy the same?
There's blocks in the jar.

19. How are you and your mommy different?
I'll brought you something.

20. How do you know your mommy loves you?
Loves me!

21. What does your mommy like most about your daddy?
Love him!

22. Where is your mommy 's favorite place to go?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Interview With Ethan

Well, I did this "interview your kids meme" with Noah the other week, and so I thought I would give it a go with Ethan next. Ethan is 3 and 1/3 right now. His language skills finally took a jump forward after lagging for awhile, so its kind of fun chatting with him now. Here goes:

1. What is something mommy always says to you?

2. What makes mommy happy?
Play blocks!

3. What makes mommy sad?
Draw on the table. And microwave, too.

4. How does your mommy make you laugh?
Funny kinds.

5. What did your mommy like to do when she was a child?
Say "goo goo gah gah".

6. How old is your mommy ?
You are 5!

7. How tall is your mommy ?
Check your email!

8. What is her favorite thing to watch on TV?
Daddy's video!

9. What does your mommy do when you're not around?
Make a Dora plate. And a Mario plate.

10. If your mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?

11. What is your mommy really good at?

12. What is your mommy not very good at?
Draw on the table.

13. What does your mommy do for her job?
Checking your email on the computer.

14. What is your mommy 's favorite food?
Ummm... salad.

15. What makes you proud of your mommy?
Hug and Love.

16. If your mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
A girl. A man too with Daddy on it.

17. What do you and your mommy do together?

18. How are you and your mommy the same?
We got names.

19. How are you and your mommy different?
A girl and a boy.

20. How do you know your mommy loves you?

21. What does your mommy like most about your daddy?
Hug him. I love Daddy and you.

22. Where is your mommy 's favorite place to go?
In the office.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Zen and the Art of Peaceful Coexistance: or My Education on the History and Future of Israel in 3 Easy Lessons.

The other weekend we were lucky enough to play host to my father's cousin Elana and her husband David for a few days while the stopped in San Diego during his book tour.

Elana and David Wesley live in Israel, having moved there (as newlyweds in their early 20s) to live on a kibbutz in the early 1950's, in the very early years of Israel's nationhood. Their kibbutz was on land near a village that was taken from the area's Palestinians, and this kibbutz used this village's orchards as their own, often hiring the Arabs who once owned the orchard as over hire employees during harvest time. They lived on this kibbutz for many years, but as their political views began to lean more to the left, their unease about co-opting the village's land began to grow.

Elana had always leaned to the left, politically, originally wanting to live on a kibbutz for its socialist look at things, where everyone was equal. She didn't see much equality for the local Arabs, though. Over time, David followed her beliefs, and today they both work toward a peaceful solution to the ancient strife, if not just for equality among the people of both sides.

David's book is about the difficulties encountered by the Palestinians who live within Israel (not the occupied territories) in their struggle for equal rights and full participation as citizens of Israel, which they are in name, but not in practice. David and Elana are touring America, with David lecturing about the book and their beliefs.

They already had some social events set up so I played their chauffeur while they were in San Diego and got quite an education by being able to participate in some amazing discussions about the history of the State of Israel, it's current dynamic, and possible solutions from folks who's ancestors came from both sides of the situation.

My first lesson was David's lecture at the SDSU Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies and the lively discussion with professors and students that followed.

The following night, we had dinner with a friend of a friend of theirs: (seafood and good wine overlooking the ocean!) and the husband of the couple turned out to have once worked for the Israel office of Foreign Affairs (if I remember correctly) and had quit after a few years because he was being asked to be a mouthpiece for Israel about things his heart no longer agreed with. He moved to America and now lives in SoCal.

And then on the third day, we had been invited to the home of a family here in San Diego, for an afternoon of coffee, cheesecake, and lots of congenial conversation with a group of their friends who were a mix of Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese folks, etc.

We met in the home of Miko Peled, an Israeli peace activist and writer, and son of Matti Peled, who was an Israeli Major General in the Six Day War (in which Israel first seized the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) who himself later became a peace activist, and was one of a group of three generals who had clandestine meetings with PLO leaders, working to bring about the first official dialog between the PLO and Israel.

Miko has an interesting theory about how the conflict should be solved... not through a two-state solution, but through a one-state solution: a secular democratic state where every person, Israeli or Palestinian, is an equal citizen with an equal vote, leaving religion out of the whole affair. He writes about it here.

Among the other people at our little coffee klatch was a Lebanese artist, her husband who is a professor at the Jewish University of San Diego, and also a woman who is a playwright and founding director of a performing arts company here in the city, who has explored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in one of her plays, in which she wrote my dad's cousin Elana in as a character with a pivotal role.

The talk was lively and friendly, full of lots of laughter and things to consider. I was able to ask questions that most of the folks in the room likely already knew the answers to, without feeling that I was an outsider or should know this stuff already. So it was a really fun and educational experience.

After taking my dear guests to the airport to fly off to the next stop on their American odyssey (their daughter's home!), I sought after and watched the documentary, Six Days in June, about the war in 1967, which filled in some gaps in my knowledge.

Being a mom, one often fills their head with more information about carpools and summer camps than about world affairs, and it was such a wonderful experience, stretching my brain for a good long weekend, giving it some exercise and fresh air for once in a long, long time.

More photos from our weekend can be found here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Interview With Noah

I found a meme that some of my blog friends have been doing where you ask your kids interview questions and write down their answers word for word. I might try this one with the twins as well, but here is Noah's interview.

1. What is something mommy always says to you?
Time to go to bed! Time to go to bed!

2. What makes mommy happy?
My love.

3. What makes mommy sad?
My little brothers keep having problems. They keep getting hurt and having tantrums.

4. How does your mommy make you laugh?
You tell good jokes.

5. What did your mommy like to do when she was a child?
Play Tetris!

6. How old is your mommy ?
I don't know. 24?

7. How tall is your mommy ?
I'll get a ruler.

8. What is her favorite thing to watch on TV?
House buying shows. (He means the ones on HGTV!)

9. What does your mommy do when you're not around?
Hang out with her husband.

10. If your mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
Hmmm.... I know... singing! (then he starts singing "Figaro! Figaro!")

11. What is your mommy really good at?

12. What is your mommy not very good at?
Singing. And Art.

13. What does your mommy do for her job?
Usually you just do the kids' stuff. What they need.

14. What is your mommy 's favorite food?
Chinese food.

15. What makes you proud of your mommy?
I'm just impressed with everything.

16. If your mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
I've never seen a cartoon like you.

17. What do you and your mommy do together?
Play board games.

18. How are you and your mommy the same?
We both have very dark hair.

19. How are you and your mommy different?
I have dark skin and you have bright skin.

20. How do you know your mommy loves you?
She says it more than enough times!

21. What does your mommy like most about your daddy?
He's very handsome.

22. Where is your mommy 's favorite place to go?
To the park.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Makes This Night Different From All Other Nights? (It could be the Easter Eggs)

So, if I showed you photos from a holiday that feels like it was weeks ago, would it hold your interest?

Okay, I confess, this post is mostly for the Grandmothers so get over it! Right after the holidays I had some house guests for a few days, and spent a few days preparing for them, so the holiday post went on hiatus.

Michael and I come from mixed backgrounds so we tend to celebrate both Jewish and Christian holidays which can really rock if you like holidays!

And I do!

So, over the Passover/Easter holiday weekend, we headed up to Michael's mom's house. The first night we had Passover and it's traditional Seder dinner. This is a very ritualized dinner, and everyone was very excited to see that Noah was finally able to participate this year by reading the children's part, called The Four Questions.

Noah did a really awesome job and was proud when people praised him for sounding out words like "vegetables", "recline", and "Maror"!

Earlier in the day, Mima took the kids (and Michael) to the Noah's Ark exhibit at the Skirball Center which is an awesome display of hands-on kid-friendly exhibits including dozens of animals made out of everyday objects like violin cases, toilet plungers, springs, oil cans, bicycle horns and the like.

I went shopping.

That evening, after the Seder, we put the eggs and the baskets outside for the Easter Bunny so he could hide them in the backyard after filling them with... you know... KOSHER candy!

Uh huh.

That's how we roll.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Little Tech Geek

We've found that we have had to limit Noah's time on the computer because he has discovered Super Mario Brothers and has become a bit addicted to playing it.

Okay. A LOT addicted to playing it.

But he recently found a downloadable program online that allows him to build actual Mario games, with different levels and such. I think this is actually pretty educational as he can figure out, as he plays his own games, what is too difficult or too easy to play and how to problem solve as well as get around inside menus and such.

Check it out.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Returning to Manageable

Noah is out of school for the next month.

With his high level of energy and wild pendulum swinging between Most Lovable Kid Ever and the Constantly Screaming Rudeboy, having him home for vacation can either be easier (no carpool to interrupt our day!) to much harder (trying to put out three fires at a time instead of the usual two, while cleaning house, and trying to make life entertaining and educational for young people).

But this time it has been different. And I think it's because the twins are maturing!

You know how people say "Oh, Honey, enjoy them while they are young! They grow so fast!" Well, don't get me wrong, I am totally enjoying them. But I look at women at the grocery store with middle-age kids and watch how the mom just shops and the kids actually follow without getting hit by cars or shopping carts, or knocking things off the shelves! It's downright astonishing!

And I yearn for my kids to be middle age: to go on adventures; to not be tied down with naps.

Look at the last four school breaks (Noah's school has 3 one-month breaks a year, not all together in the summer like most folks do). For the first of the last four breaks, I had Noah in day camp because it was just too hard to entertain him and manage the twin toddlers. I mean, I could do it, but it meant rarely getting out of the house and doing something fun for them.

Noah hated camp.

The last two times, I kept Noah home from day camp because he wanted to be with us. Why spend the money? I was able to manage getting out to some playgroups and such, playing in the back alley with the neighbors, and going to the neighborhood park. The twins had just turned three.

This current vacation break? I took all three of them to the dentist, across town to see a house for sale, into the post office, and then to the local kid friendly coffee house for play time before heading home, and all before LUNCH, baby!

And then today, the very NEXT day, we went to the park, had a picnic, rode a bus, went to a mobbed train museum (it was free museum day), ate cookies on the grass, rode a bus again! All without a stroller! The kids stayed with me, they followed direction, they held hands, they didn't fight, they dealt with crowds, and had a great time!

The twins are three and a quarter now. Some of you might think my kids should be able to manage all this just fine by now, but keep in mind, with twins, they don't get the practice singletons get walking with a parent and following along because if one goes off one direction and the other goes another, you can't keep them both safe. And if one gets out of the stroller, the other must as well!

Some years back, I was told by two separate twin moms that it all starts becoming easier, and more like normal life, like other people's lives, when the kids turn four. For singletons, it's age two. Double that for twins. But I think I am getting a reprieve. I think we are going to be an on-the-go family again, on a regular basis soon.

Very soon, indeed.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I've been having a bit of an internal tug of war lately.

I've been feeling a bit guilty about the amount of time I spend writing this blog about my family (and reading other blogs) versus the time I spend, you know... spending time with my family.

I purposefully took a little break from both (a little cold turkey), and found that once the cycle was broken, I didn't feel the need to keep up with all the blog reading I had set up for myself. I had a bit of withdrawal, but I think I am able to go back now, and pick and choose from among the few dozen blogs I liked to peruse and pare down my list to a choice few.

I also learned to forgive myself for not blogging every single week. Or twice a week, for that matter, as I had been trying to do. In my internet wanderings I once found a badge you could put on your blog that said "Guilt Free Blog" showing your determination to not allow your blog to take over your life; not to feel bad if you don't constantly blog. I never put that badge up but I think I can live by that principle and write when it gives me pleasure or I feel so inspired.

I know it dismays the Grandmas when there is a big lag between grandchildren reports. And I know some folks who pop in daily to see if I've written a new post might wander away with boredom if I have long lags (I hope you folks will discover feed readers instead!). On the other hand, it pleases the hubby to have me hang out and watch a movie with him instead of using free evening time to write and photoshop. And perhaps adding other activities into my life might be beneficial. Yoga has piqued my interest lately.

On the other other hand, I have about a thousand photos waiting to be imported, culled and filed. Which actually gives me pleasure when I sit down and do it.

So, I have been thinking a lot about, and trying to achieve, some balance.

Anyway... I haven't abandoned you! I will come in, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes every 20 days... but I will keep on posting. I just won't let this blog, which has given me a lot of pleasure, become a tedious job.

So, there.

(grin... wink!)

And on that note, I leave you with the easiest of blog material ever... (which maybe I should use more often since it is so full of grandma-pleasing-goodness) VIDEO! Video of me just sitting down with my kids and seeing what they do. Nothing hysterical... just day in the life.

Okay, Mom. Feelin' better now? ;^P

Friday, March 6, 2009

Step Away From the Technology!

On the topic of getting our children to turn off the TV, the computer game and the XBox and just go outside and PLAY, I thought I would share with you this video of a commercial for a laundry detergent from Europe. It's a good illustration for yesterday's post of getting back to nature.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Last Child in the Woods

When you were a kid, did you have that special place you would go, somewhere in nature, back when kids were allowed to roam free without telling their parents EXACTLY where they were going? A place where you felt you belonged, a place you claimed as your own? A place in the woods? The edge of a creek? A great climbing-tree? A large bush, even, with a hole you could crawl into and hide?

Do you remember how empowered and peaceful you felt hanging out all by yourself or with your friends in nature?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately...

Has it ever occurred to you that we have taken this amazing experience away from our children in just a couple generations? With all the fear of kidnapping and molestation at every turn, we are prohibiting our kids from walking home from school, having free range of the neighborhood or even leaving the front yard, much less giving them the freedom to explore the few wild places left near our homes.

Kids nowadays, I assume because of the media-instilled fear of predators, are no longer allowed to wander through their neighborhoods.

When I was 8, I had free range of a two block radius, including every backyard, and we could also go anytime we wanted to a quarry, a creek and a train track down the road from my house.

The quarry had once been a swimming hole where you could still see a frayed rope dangling from a bar placed there so kids could swing out over the water, let go, and drop in with a splash. In my time, we were told the water was not clean, but it provided lots of stone-skipping fun, and one could walk around it on a path through some trees.

Most kids in my neighborhood used to have to come home when the streetlights came on. One girl's family had a large farm bell on a tall post in their backyard that they would ring if it was time for her to come home, and it could be heard for blocks. Her parents trusted her not to leave the area in which she could hear that bell.

We played alone, in pairs and in packs. In the summer, we played outside from morning until dinner time, and then we often went out again after dinner. We would play "Ghost in the Graveyard" for hours, hopping neighbor's fences and hiding under bushes. We stole the sugar bowls out of our kitchens into which we dipped stalks of wild rhubarb to make them sweeter.

I suspect now, in my old neighborhood, most kids are allowed to play only in their yard (the backyard, of course, as the front has CARS driving by!) unless they get permission to go to another kid's yard, with that other kid's mom's permission, passing the protection of said child from one responsible adult to another. If they want to go down to the end of the road, I am guessing they go with a parent and are not allowed to place pennies on the railroad track, much less throw rocks into passing train cars or cross the tracks and wade in the stream, jumping from rock to rock catching crayfish.

The field there is now a tennis court, and a city-built skate park. The quarry has been filled in and the ring of wild trees around it has been cut down. It's a flat mowed lawn now.

Last week, I had the opportunity to see a lecture given by Richard Louv, the author of the book I am currently reading called, Last Child in the Woods. Louv argues that children are spending less and less time on unstructured play in nature, at a time when it is critical to do so, and their lives and the future of our planet are being severely impacted. When children are outside, it is usually in scheduled, structured team activities, or on playgrounds with soft turf, short slides, and rubber around the chains on the swings.

Children are more obese, less creative, less active, less pro-active, more fearful, less knowledgeable about the natural world than their counterparts were just a couple generations ago: kids who played in their local ravines, caught tadpoles in the stream, and played in their forts in the nearby copse of trees at the end of their streets.

Consider this:
· In 1971, 80% of 7 to 8 year-olds were allowed to walk to school on their own, whereas just 9% could do so in 1990.

· In 1990, only half as many 7 to 11 year olds as in 1971 were allowed to go to places other than school by themselves. What do you suppose it is now, in 2009?

· The age at which children are granted specific freedoms increased—the freedom permitted to a 7 year old in 1971 was permitted to the average 9.5 year old in 1990. It's been two more decades since then.

. Between 1981 and 1997, children’s free playtime dropped by an estimated 25%, and this change appears to be driven by increases in the amount of time children spend in structured activities. Their unstructured play time is mostly spent indoors with some sort of electronic media.

. Students in outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27 percent (American Institutes for Research, 2005)

. Researchers at the University of Illinois have shown that the greener a child’s everyday environment, the more manageable their symptoms of attention-deficit disorder.

Richard Louv made a comment that really struck me during his talk. He said that most every environmentalist and conservationist working for change today had a transcendent experience in nature as a child. In a time, when we really need to change the way we live in order to make a healthier environment, we are prohibiting our children from having any kind of transcendent experience in nature.

If kids don't spend time in nature, they won't have the desire to take care of the environment, except in the abstract sense, and we don't have time for the abstract anymore.

While Louv feels that getting kids back outside at all is great progress, what he is really advocating is getting kids back to wild nature. Not soccer fields, not playgrounds, not landscaped parks, but woods, ravines, rivers, rocks, trails, lakes and beaches.

And he wouldn't mind if some of that time was alone time for the kids who can handle the responsibility.

Louv wants to get a grassroots movement going in America, much like playgroups and book clubs have taken off in the last few years. But he would like this movement to get families out into nature in groups, to make it more fun, more social, and more common. He calls them Family Nature Clubs. He wants groups of friends and neighbors to scoop up the kids, and meet somewhere out in nature on a regular basis, explore and just have fun together.

A light bulb went on for me when I heard this. My family does go out and walk one of San Diego's canyons on occasion, and we hike occasionally when my parents visit. But I had this thought a few months back to get a friend or two and their families out to the woods, at a day use area for a long afternoon of just hanging out, talking and letting the kids play in a natural environment. Climb on some rocks, wade in a creek. Get dirty. Richard Louv got me thinking, "why can't this be a regular thing?" And why just one or two other families?

So, if you are a friend of mine and live locally, don't be surprised if one day in the near future I invite you and your kids out for a day of rest and play at the day use area of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park or one of the other Day Use Parks in our area.

I am picturing everyone bringing sandwiches or campfire/barbecue foods for their own kids, a dish to share with everyone else, some camp chairs for the parents to hang out together. We would come out sometime after breakfast, and get home around dinner time. Lunch will be had in the out of doors. The kids can play, explore and climb, some folks can take a short hike, the adults can get some much needed social time with each other, and a good time will be had by all.

And if we like it... maybe we could do it every few weeks or so.

What do you say? Are you game?

Are there cool natural spaces you can take your kids near home? Like the idea of hanging with your friends and their kids once a month? Want to commit to vacationing someplace where you plop down in nature someplace and stay awhile instead of visiting amusement parks and cities?

Thoughts? Ideas?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Big Brother

Today is the 45th birthday of my brother, David. It kind of freaks me out that he and I are now firmly entrenched in our 40's. It probably freaks my parents out even more.

I want to thank David for sticking by me all these years... for letting me hang out with him and his friends in the backyard, even if I always ended up hurt and crying after a rough game of "Smear the Queer" (not that there is anything wrong with that).

He also taught me how to build an actual space rocket (a three seater!) in our local junkyard when I was in first grade that would have actually flown to the moon if only the vacuum tubes we could find scattered between the junker cars had not all been broken minus one.

He didn't freak out at all when I dated his roommate my first year of college, nor did he yell too much after I pulled all the unpaid pink parking tickets out of his glove compartment and spread them all over my lap while looking for the car registration for the cop that had just pulled him over (He might not have been so understanding if the cop had understood what he was looking at).

So, Happy Birthday, David. I lucked out when I got you as a big brother. I hope you have at least another 45 good years ahead. I love you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Review: The Yummie Tummie Tank Top

As most of you know, I am the mom to three boys. And while I am pretty slim compared to a lot of folks, my belly got pretty stretched out when I was pregnant with the twins. I worked hard to lose much of the weight, but there is a good amount of belly flab that a doctor (the hubby) has told me may never go away even with a million ab crunches, because the skin is so stretched out.

(Okay, maybe a million ab crunches would get rid of a LOT of the belly flab. But not all of it!)

Well, along comes a new company called Yummie Tummie, with a line of shapewear (you know… the clothes meant to hold you in, in all the right places!) and they asked me to pick one of their items and write a review of what I think about it. Not one to turn down free clothes, much less ones that might make me look awesome (!!) I said, “Yes, please!”

What’s cool about their line is that they make shirts that are designed to hold in your tummy, and reign in your muffin tops, but are also meant to be seen, not hidden under your real clothes. You can layer it with regular shirts, or wear them alone. It’s designed to “visibly slim, shape and smooth you. It's the first shapewear on the market that is comfortable enough to wear all day and evening.”

These are tank tops and t-shirts, and v-necks and scoops, and they even have long sleeve styles. They come in ten different colors (and occasionally fun prints like leopard!) They range from extra small to extra large. One has a built in bra, and another is actually made with drop-down panels for nursing mothers! How cool is that? I mean, when do you need a tummy shaper more than any other time in your life, right?

I chose the regular length tank top in black. I almost went for the extra length style because I like a long shirt but that one seemed to go down to the upper thighs. The regular length was thankfully long enough to show through below when wearing a regular t-shirt over top of it.

Alone, the shirt looks very stylish. It has pretty, narrow straps, less than an inch wide, and I had a black bra to wear with my black shirt, but you might have a bit of trouble hiding a white bra strap if you choose the salmon colored shirt. But if that bugs you, you can get one of the built-in bra shirts.

So… I hear you wondering… did it work? Did it hold in my twin-tummy?

It did! (I was thisclose to pushing the "upload button" on a "before" shot of my belly, but you will just have to take my word for it. I got too darn shy.)

It held my twin-skin belly in and it looked really good at the same time! I loved that it didn’t look like a shirt meant to hold stuff in. It flows pretty seamlessly from comfy bra-area into the tighter, form fitting shaper, and then back to the regular, more loose fabric at the bottom of the shirt. This is genius because the bottom just hangs loose like a regular shirt, totally camouflaging the fact that you are camouflaging!

Think of Yummie Tummie as a tank top or T-shirt on steroids: that favorite, super-soft,lightweight cotton wardrobe staple you wear alone or under everything you own. From your bust up and your hip bones down, it is exactly that. But, made with a patent-pending dual fabric technology, its extra bonus comes from its same-tone, firm control midsection panel, which smooths and shapes your tummy and hips, eliminating pounds off your appearance, and camouflaging any lumps and bumps.

When you hold the shirt up on a hanger, you can see that it is built like an hourglass. So it’s comfy where you want it, and firm where you need it.

Are their cons? Is it perfect? It’s not perfect.

They claim that the shirt doesn’t roll up over your belly like some shapers. And no, it didn’t roll up over my belly. But I have to say the firmest point in the shirt did rise up from my belly button closer to my ribs as the day went on, and I found myself yanking it down and stretching it out flat numerous times.

But honestly, I don’t think it is possible to make a tight belly shaper shirt that doesn’t ride up, unless you have it connected by garters to your stockings, like the old days.

As far as riding up, I think what with the super length and styling of the shirt, they do the best job one can possibly do in making a shirt like this. It does ride up, but it doesn’t look at all odd or unattractive when it does. And I have to admit, I yank down quite a few of my more form fitting shirts when I wear them as well.

It’s one of the few tank tops I now own that I am comfortable wearing alone. It makes me look attractive and in shape. The front doesn’t hang open when you bend down, either. With a button down or a t-shirt over it, it looks really nice because of its length peeking out below the other shirt. It is sleek and soft, and actually wicks away moisture. On cold days it keeps me warmer.

If you are wondering what size shaper to get, check out their great chart here. You can measure yourself and look up your measurements in the chart to figure out which size is best for you.

The price for one of their shapers was a little steep for me, I have to admit. I probably wouldn’t have bought one for myself at this price point. But I haven’t checked out the price of other brands of body shapers, so perhaps it’s equitable. And unlike other shapers, this is something you can wear as actual external clothing. So it’s kind of a two-in-one shirt; a belly flattener you can wear with shorts. And they have a 30 day return policy, so no worries about whether you will like it.

So let’s see… cons are the price and a bit of a ride-up problem, the pros are how good it makes you look, how comfortable it is, and that you can wear it as clothing and not just as underwear. Tuck it into your pants and you CAN wear it as underwear if you don’t want it to show. The colors are lovely and the style is very hip and attractive. Here is a photo showing the shirt on a larger woman than myself.

The founder and creator of Yummie Tummie is Heather Thomson. Beginning her career in intimate apparel, Heather went on to serve as the founding Design Director for P. Diddy Combs' Sean John label, and also worked side by side with Jennifer Lopez, as Vice President of Creative Design for Ms. Lopez’s Sweetface brand. Most recently, she served as Co-Creative Director of House of DerĂ©on line of clothing along with Beyonce Knowles.

She recognizes that we need to overindulge once in awhile, and so created these fun and stylish tops to help women look their best whether we have over-indulged, or just stretched out our bellies with babies! Or both!

You can go to Yummie Tummie’s site to shop around and see if you want to check out their product. But you might also want to spend a little time at their sister site, for a great list of all your favorite over-indulgences. It’s a fun little site where you can rate your favorite desserts, upload new indulgences, and find recipes to all your favorite treats. My favorite section is full of recipes for indulgent cocktails you can make at home!

Want to see the Yummie Tummie in action? Here it is on Oprah!

Friday, February 13, 2009

This Is The Dawning!

Do you sometimes feel like rolling your eyes on Valentine's Day; forced to express the love you feel everyday with some sort of heart shaped cardboard? Well, consider this...

According to cosmologist Jude Currivan, at dawn on this Valentine's day, the stars and planets will move into the alignment expressed in the song Age of Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In.

In her words:

"At dawn on 14th February the day dedicated to St Valentine, the patron saint of Love, the Moon in Libra enters the seventh house of relationships. And Jupiter and Mars are aligned in Aquarius in the twelfth house of spiritual transformation.

Forty years ago, the intuitive words of a song called Aquarius, brought the dawning of the new age into our collective awareness:

When the Moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars.
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars!"

Now, this is talking about dawn on Valentine's Day according to GMT. So here in California that would mean 11:25pm tonight, 3:25am Eastern. And the alignment will happen for 18 minutes.

So, who is ready to let some love steer their stars? The Dawning of the Age of Acquarius... now that's almost worth buying a Hallmark card for!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Things

Over on facebook, there is a wave of people doing a "25 Random Things About Me" meme, and I have been having so much fun reading all my friends' lists. Most of them have tagged me since you are "supposed" to tag 25 people. I often ignore this kind of peer pressure, but I could use some blog fodder, and I figured if I am going to write that much about myself, I am sure as heck going to make it a blog post!

The rules are to write 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. Hmmm...

Okay, lets see how this goes.

1) I got this far and ended for the night.

2) I was born in Findlay, Ohio but now live in San Diego. I first moved to CA when I was 18 to visit my friend Cathy, and moved out here about a year later. I have since moved back and forth about 8 or 10 times, probably because I miss my family in Ohio so much and love the land, the weather and culture here in California.

3) I have a mom and a dad and one brother. My parents live in Sanibel Island, FL most of the year now, but still have their house in Findlay. My brother lives outside of Cleveland with his wife, son and daughter. I also have a Japanese exchange-student sister who never really went home after her year with us, who lives in NYC now and is a painter. And I have Bill, who is like a brother/uncle to me. He lived in our house for most all of my life, and has always been part of our family. He still lives in our house in Findlay, and holds down the fort while my parents go off and play in Florida. These people are my family.

4) My husband's family is pretty awesome and I am thrilled that I like them so much. His parents are loving and so generous with their time, resources and love. His brother and sister are amazing people who I would actually love to be friends with and hang out with, even if I had never met their brother.

5) My mom is a genealogist and has traced many lines of our family tree, one of them back to (I think) the year 400. Some of my mom's lines have been here in America for 400 years, and my dad's parents came here as immigrants. I am related to lots of odd people from history, including Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor. But you know what? You probably were, too.

6) I am madly in love with my three sons. We only planned for two, and the twins were a shock, but I can't imagine not having them in my life.

7) Even so, I am really disappointed I will never have a daughter.

8) My husband, Michael, is the best thing that EVER happened to me. He is 7 years younger than me, and I didn't meet him until I was almost 30. I joke that I waited so long to get married because I had to wait for the perfect man to grow up. He is handsome and kind, patient, respectful, he can cook, do the laundry, fix the car and the computer, and is an amazing parent. He is everything I ever wanted in a partner.

9) I believe that "thoughts are things". Some people call it prayer, some call it meditation, some call it positive thinking... but I believe that whatever you think gives power to make things happen. It won't MAKE things happen, but it will give power to it. I once sat down and got quiet and focused, and I asked the universe to send me the perfect man for me, and I described him down to the smallest detail. Then I asked for him to be sent to me, said "Thank You" and patiently waited and trusted that he would come. I met him two weeks later. He is my husband, Michael. I have used that trick when I really need and desire things in my life. It works. A lot.

10) I have always had a driving need to create art but have never been that talented in the actual creation of it. This is why I think I love working in theater and photography so much. In stage management, I can use my organizational skills and people skills to help theater artists (directors, actors and designers) to stay grounded and on task, so that some pretty awesome art can be created. And with photography, while I cannot draw an image that strikes a chord with people with any skill, I can see these images in the world around me, capture it, and show it to others with photography. I think my best actual creative art is the skill I have been building using Photoshop to manipulate images. I have SO MUCH FUN doing that, I think, because it is creative art, and I am pretty good at it.

11) I worked at South Coast Repertory Theater as a production assistant/ASM in the stage management department for 7 years. I loved being back stage, in the middle of the action, making things happen, and putting out fires. I met some really awesome people back then, and miss it a lot. I gave it up when I got pregnant with Noah, and we moved to Ohio so Michael could do his medical residency.

12) I really need to make these things shorter. I am going to lose readers. I tend to go on and on more than I need to.

13) Nothing makes me feel as comfortable and at peace as being in the forest. I love San Diego, and its one of the most awesome places I have ever lived, but a part of me knows I would be more "at home" in a town in the forest. San Diego is the desert on the ocean. Most all of the plants here have been actually planted. I miss moist earth.

14) I never want to live in the snow again. Finding a fantasy land where there is forest and no snow, and is within 2 hours of grandparents is no easy task. Thus, San Diego. lol

15) I used to get my "forest fix" by attending Rainbow Gatherings, which is an event where thousands of people gather deep in a National Forest every summer for a few weeks to build a community. There is music and good food, workshops, and drum circles. It is down-home village life. There is no price to get in. It's free and the food is free. You can donate money if you wish, but there is no pressure to do it, if you cannot afford it. People build about a hundred funky and fun kitchens in the woods with downed wood and tarps, mud ovens and hiked-in grills. Once in, you never see a car or hear amplified music. It's an amazing heart-filling experience. I plugged in with the crew at the Info Booth for 15 years before becoming pregnant with the twins and then we decided to take some time off until the chore of hiking in with small kids became easier. That just might be later this year!

16) I am a Pepsi addict and have been since I was a teen. I have since switched to caffeine-free Pepsi since I discovered it tastes just the same! YAY!

17) I decided to force myself to drink coffee just before going across Europe on a backpacking trip with my friend, Carla. I was bitter that people who drank coffee always had free beverages everywhere you went, and wanted to hang out in cafes across Europe and drink coffee. I have since become an addict of coffee, as well.

18) So, yeah, I went to Europe with a backpack in 1989 and it was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. England, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, Germany, East Germany (GDR), Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Greece. We visited Berlin and went through Checkpoint Charlie to the East Berlin. I watched the wall come down on TV three weeks later absolutely stunned because there had been absolutely no hint of it happening when we were there.

19) If I could change one thing in my life I would arrange it so I could travel more. I have an unending thirst to see the world. The most amazing place I have ever been is Thailand. Michael and I went there on our honeymoon. While I always want to go someplace I have never been before when I travel, I would happily go back to Thailand in a second.

20) I check my email way too often. I leave my computer on all day, and as I go about my day, parenting, cleaning, taxi-ing, I sit down at the desk and refresh my email inbox and my facebook page at least once every 45 minutes, unless there are children on both computers. I am a hit-and-run computer user.

21) I love houses. When I was a kid, I would sometimes go to open houses with my dad, and loved to see how other people lived. Not just rich houses, but any houses. I love thumbing through magazines with log cabin floor plans, websites about home design and decorating, going on home tours, visiting historic homes, and just voyeuristically peering into peoples front windows while I take walks through the neighborhood. (No, I don't put my nose on the glass, I just keep walking!) I love Victorian houses and Craftsman design. Not in the same house, of course.

22) I almost never watch TV anymore. Parenting twin toddlers really prevents that during the day, and I just lost touch with what the good shows are anymore. I tape the shows I do still watch, and that is limited to Lost, Weeds (which isn't as good as it used to be) and Mad Men (which you really should be watching... from the beginning). I also watched The Shield up until it recently ended because a friend of mine was in it, but also because it was a great show.

23) My favorite movies seem to have been made quite a while ago. The ones I can watch over and over again are Harold and Maude and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I never really go to the movies anymore unless my sister-in-law gets me into the awesome independent movie theater she manages while my mother-in-law babysits. Otherwise, we watch movies on DVD.

24) I don't have time to read books anymore. I hope I do again someday. But my brother gave me the bright idea of listening to audio books while I go about my day on an iPod I wear on my arm. Now, when the kids are being self-sufficient, I can listen to a book while I wash the dishes or clean the bathroom! I love books that take place in other cultures and times (that are accurate depictions) and also love my science fiction.

25) I have been feeling kind of overwhelmed since the twins arrived and like I have set aside so many of the things I love to do to be a mom of 3 small kids. I am so excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel now that they are all learning self-sufficiency and do better without their mom every minute of the day, and have been fantasizing about what I can do to put a little me-time back in my life. I have been neglecting my health (mental, physical, spiritual, dental!, etc.) for a couple-three years and am considering taking a Tai-chi or a yoga class, or maybe having the family join a gym with child care so I can work out with the hubby without hiring a babysitter.

Wow! That wasn't as hard as I thought it would be! I am not going to tag anyone, but if you feel inspired to do one of these yourself, be sure to let me know so I can come read it!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Old Friends. My Bookends.

It's been hard to make friends since I moved to San Diego, and lately, I keep getting bombarded with blogs and movies and comments about women who are soooo happy to be surrounded and supported by a circle of good women. I want that for myself so much, that all this in-your-face warm fuzziness dangled in front of me is almost like being cruelly teased.

I have met some wonderful women since moving here and I think they have the potential to become that support network with some intentional group time together. To that end, I am arranging for us all to get together once a month for girl's night out to see what develops. It seems we could all use a circle of feminine solidarity!

But the other night I got a wonderful and unexpected gift!

A very dear and very old girlfriend (no, that came out alllll wrong! I mean we have been girlfriends for a loooong time!) was in-state and she and another old (young), dear friend who lives north of here and I decided to have a slumber party.

A no-child, no-stress, no-curfew slumber party!

We met at my up-north friend's house (who has no children to be quiet for, past bedtime!) and we gathered up a big pile of cheese and crackers and fruit and chocolate and wine and incense and pillows, and we headed out to the back deck that looks out over a forested canyon.

We drank wine and feasted on goodies and we talked for eight hours straight, deep into the night about our histories, our memories, things that shaped out lives, and what we have been doing in the years since we last spent time together (at my wedding - they were both bridesmaids).

At 3:30 we moved into the house to go to bed, (and then talked some more) and when we woke the next morning, we just didn't want to go home. My friend Karen realized she didn't really need to begin her interstate road trip that morning, and my husband was home with the kids, and Carla had no clients that day... wouldn't lunch on the beach and a continuation of our non-responsible time together be better than ending the feminine euphoria and going forward with our lives?

Of course, it would.

And so, we made some calls to the people who were expecting us, and informed them not to expect us just yet, and we grabbed out suits and our sunglasses and hopped in the car, driving through Laguna canyon to one of the most beautiful beaches in southern California.

We gossiped and laughed over cocktails and lunch at an Irish pub, and then walked across the street to the beach.

It was one of those golden days when the light was just right and oh so lovely, and we were high on our carefree-ness, and lack of need to be anywhere at all.

By the time the sun began to set and we headed back through the canyon to Carla's home to gather our things and pack up our cars, we had spent 24 hours together.

And it was probably the most refreshing, renewing thing I have done since my twins were born three years ago!

Now, my husband is very big on making sure I get breaks and I go out alone at times, or go have a drink or see a play with a friend as much as possible. But while as nice as that is, its short and fast and I always feel I have to have as much fun and suck up as much rest and renewal as I can possibly muster within the time constraint. And I am always looking at my watch the moment I walk out the door.

Being with women I know deeply and love, combined with having to be nowhere and have no guilt about being gone in such a tranquil space, was sooooo cleansing and rejuvenating!

I am certainly not going to give up on creating my own circle of sisterhood here in town; I have learned that having no curfew and no guilt about being gone (thus, unfortunately a husband home with the kids instead of a grandma or a babysitter that needs to be relieved) is the most nourishing time-away I could possibly devise.

Now I have to figure out how to give this gift to my husband... so we can both approach parenthood with less frazzlement (yeah, I know that isn't a word!) than we currently experience! Carla's husband sometimes hosts all-night LAN parties where a bunch of guys come, order pizza and play group computer games all night and into the next morning.

That might just be the thing!

Although you wouldn't catch them calling it a slumber party.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Yes We Dance!

I am loving this song! Get up, dance and celebrate the new presidency! Wooooot!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Tale of Three Computers

So, you know how I said that it was hard for me to get online lately what with visitors who also have email to check and three children who have suddenly become enamored of computer video games? Well, it all just got a little worse.

We have been having a grand time with my parents here, doing lots of cool touristy things. You can read about it here on my Mom's blog. But I have all these photos I want to share with you and show you about the trip and while they were not lost, my photo organizer and my Photoshop program are both on my computer that went up in smoke the other day.

The computer was new, so its still under warranty and got sent back to the shop as it were. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the hard drive is safe and sound in there since it seemed like a heat issue. (Can overheating destroy my hard drive??)

So! We dragged out the backup computer and booted it up and only a couple hours later did the kids' computer die (a re-installing of Windows problem that can be fixed in time. Maybe a good long time, but definitely fixable). And then this morning, we could hear the backup computer boot but it wouldn't show up on the screen.

That's 3 useless computers if you were counting.

So, we got the backup back up and running. And the kid's will get around to working again someday soon, but my main computer is sick and in the hospital for surgery. Send your prayers, cross your fingers, rub your Buddha bellies.

Since I do NOT have any good pictures from the visit just yet, I will leave you instead with my results from the fun new thing everyone is doing from the website Obamicon.Me! You too can be on an Obama-esque propaganda poster! This last one is what it looks like if you choose a landscape oriented image.

You do have to register and join to be able to get your own, but its a really fun little site to play with!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Someone's Been Sitting in MY Chair!

It's vacation time again! And I don't even have to travel!

My parents have arrived for their bi-yearly visit, and have settled in nicely. I get to act like a tourist in my own town. It's nice to have a good kick-in-the-butt to get out and about with and without the kids.

We've done a little hiking in the canyons, done a little browsing through the art galleries...

Getting online to TELL you about it is going to be another story all together. The twins have discovered the computer, and are turning out to be as geeked out as the rest of their family. The light bulb went on about what the mouse does and how to use it. So much so, in fact, that we needed to bring Noah's bedroom computer downstairs so that the kids can play their games (educational of course) off of our computer!

That doesn't stop one of them from sliding into the seat when we step away for awhile. We will often find them installing obscure programs they got online by clicking on advertisements (no! I am not kidding!). We finally had to put a password on our screen saver to stop them from randomly clicking on things!

Aside from having to wait in line for our turn to use our computer (what?) the office is also our guestroom, so the ol' blog, which usually gets updated post-bedtime, is now in a sleeping room post-bedtime.

So, sigh... you are more likely to find out what me and my folks are up to by checking my Mom's far more popular than my blog. She seems to find a way to squeeze some blogging in between kid's computer games, and gets her blog updated, even if she has to sit on a squat little kiddie chair to do it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

To Pass The Time

I started reading Noah some longer chapter books from The Magic Treehouse series. He is really enjoying them. They are about this brother and sister who find a treehouse that takes them to different places in time. They visit the dinosaurs or the ancient Egyptians or bury pirate treasure or visit a medieval castle.

I told him that by next year, reading would get easier and easier and his reading books would get longer, and he would be reading these chapter books himself. I told him to imagine himself curled up on the couch with one of these books reading the story to himself!

And he thinks about that. He imagines hard.

And he says, "Hey! Reading is something that I could DO! You know, when I'm BORED!!"


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Down Came the Rain

Okay. I just had to share this really funny blog post.

Especially for those who need a laugh in these tough economic times.

Click on over.