Thursday, September 30, 2010

we go out walking

Yes, we're still at it. Walking. We're not out as much as I'd like, but I'm making an effort to keep up with it because it keeps me healthy both physically and emotionally. Cardo has even admitted that all this walking helps him. Pic? Well, she's along for the ride, but she's not yet asked why we're the boring people who do not much more than walking. Ah, Pic, how we love you so.

So, enough waxing on? A look at a recent walk? All righty, then.

Before we set off, I noticed this group of acorn tops. I imagine a group of feasting faeries fled just before I arrived.

Mamma gets a ride!

Birds on a wire (or two).

A gathering.

Not exactly clear, no, but the lights were lit! A Christmas house -- a year-round Christmas house! Oh, so funny.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

there once was a woman...

...who was supposed to be responding to a stack of papers, but who was very distracted by this:

"The Pajama Game - There Once Was a Man"

I love the yodely-twang of this. (Yes, I'm making up words now.) It's so goofy.

This movie, in general kind of makes me laugh. The women who work in the pajama factory are wearing heels. These leading lovers take about four moments to each realize they love the other. Oh, so much fun and I'm only thirty minutes in (I had to pull that video from youtube although I haven't reached that part of the movie yet.)

I'm also fond of "Steam Heat," and probably some other songs I also haven't gotten to yet.

"The Pajama Game - Steam Heat"

Monday, September 27, 2010

do you have the time...

Have been reading about this

Green Day's "Basket Case" [embedding has been disabled]

and this

Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" [embedding has been disabled]


Blast from the past.

necessary simplicity

A couple of weeks ago, I set myself up for a ridiculously busy week. I hope that I have learned from it: next time around (next year?) plan better...duh. I made it through that week, but I was incredibly exhausted. All last week, I still felt like I was recovering. I just felt like I couldn't catch up. This week has had a much more promising start (let's hope that continues throughout the week, please).

I have needed a lot of simplicity in a lot of areas of my life because I've gone and overwhelmed myself in just enough ways. This morning, I woke up at a decent hour and then I closed my eyes again. The next time I looked at the clock, it was two hours later. Who knows how long Cardo and Pic had been up by then. I took my time making and eating breakfast (Pic requested cold cereal and I made myself cream of wheat, one of my ultimate comfort foods). Then, I started to get set up for the day. Pic wanted to go outside and play with her hula hoop. I've grown weary (already) of having to continuously tell her, "Mamma made an iffy decision a couple of months ago and you constantly have to wait, sorry," so we moved our operation outside. Well, first I got dressed at some late hour in the day. Pic got to hoop, run around in the grass and climb a tree. I got to read and prepare for the coming week. I even got to play with the hula hoop for a while.

When we returned home, we had a very, very simple dinner. Pic had cheese and grapes and I had mini bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes.

I needed this day to be full of this quiet and simplicity. And, I need many more days of listening to and responding to Pic's and my needs. And, I need to learn to work out some satisfactory balance in my life. And, I need to learn my limits and accept them (unless I really feel like pushing them).

And, I need sleep.

I hope you are finding peaceful, simple moments in your own lives. G'night.

Friday, September 24, 2010

today in five acts

* going about my (tiny) paycheck-earning business

* tea with a friend

* park time with homeschooling friends (frogs and snails and squirrels, oh my!)

* futbol (our friends' son's team won!)

* ice cream

Thursday, September 23, 2010

from the mouth of the babe...

I think I've managed to shift Pic's understanding of the world. The thing is: I thought she already knew that cartoons weren't real. Oops.

A couple of days ago, she told me, "I wish I could visit the Chipmunks." I explained to her that they were drawings and I felt I could see this information sink in. She looked perplexed and slightly intrigued. This is the kind of information she stores away for later, waiting to bring it up again for further confirmation. This is the kind of information she hold onto until she can apply it to other situations.

Last night, we were reading a Berenstain Bears book together and Pic asked me if Mama Bear was "made up." "They're all pretend," Pic continued, "because bears don't usually talk and wear clothes." No, not usually.

We've had a few more conversations about this. At the same time I like to experience this learning process with Pic, I feel a bit strangely sad -- I feel I've taken something from her. I tried to frame it positively, though, assuring Pic that these characters are parts of someone's imagination and represent something she also can do.

"The Chipmunks - Girls of Rock and Roll [FULL] [HIGH QUALITY]"
(Wow. The Chipmunks and Chipettes are wonderfully confident and passionate!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


We've almost reached the autumnal equinox. While I have been trying to not wish away time, to wish for the summer to end and the leaves to turn fiery, I've kind of been doing just that. There's something (so much) about autumn that I just love.

Sunday, Pic and I headed out for a walk. I had on my windbreaker and she had on a hoodie. Our hair danced around our heads in the brisk breeze. Although it was only about five in the afternoon (evening?), the sun was already so low in the sky. I wanted to walk forever.

I've been going through a bit of a rough phase for a while. The kind that has me counting down (many, many) days. The kind that kind of has me wishing away time. Next year, I think, Next year, I'll do things differently. I'll listen to my instincts and to what I know about my family and our rhythm. I'll let go more easily. Check back with me in a year and see how I've done.

In the meantime, Pic and I are hoping to start a new tradition or two to celebrate the autumnal equinox. I hope this isn't just one of those plans we never follow through on. So, here's to autumn and here's to new traditions. (Hmm, does that phrase even work? Here's to something that'll be new to us now, but that we hope will be considered tradition years from now? Chissa?)

Right now, I'm off to respond to my body and get some rest already.

Monday, September 20, 2010

learn something every day

Today, I learned the term "undrafted." I had to have the other person in the conversation repeat the term more than once. He, and others in the conversation, explained to me that it's when a player (we were talking about football) is never drafted in the first place.

I thought, surely, it meant that someone had been drafted and then the group doing the drafting said, "Oops, nevermind. We don't want [or, need] you so much." Huh.

Anyhow, all this "un" talk makes me think of Ruth Ruth.

"Ruth Ruth - Uninvited"
(Wow, that video is blurry. And, I've never seen it before, so that wasn't very helpful.)

[Edit: I'm not sure what was going on with the date/time thing. I accidentally hit something and now I realize I posted this a week in advance. Hmm, weird.]

Saturday, September 18, 2010

blast from the past: the chipmunk adventure

"Off to see the world - Chipmunk adventure"

This is what Pic is watching right now. It's kind of freaky how familiar it all still is.

Friday, September 17, 2010

today in five acts

* tea latte

* conversation with a friend

* HoB

* fun with homeschool friends

* Claire Danes

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

silver linings and whatnot

I've had an exhausting beginning of the week, and I've got a few more days of little sleep and long hours (like so many others, yes, I know). At one point today, I was running from one building to another, laden with bags, puffing along. I hate to be so late that I'm running. Most of the time, I'm grateful to not be noticed at all, but I feel like I'm hard to miss when I'm inadvertently making such a spectacle of myself. I walked into my next commitment less than a minute before I was needed there. I despise being late. And, to me, moments before start time is tardiness. Worse? I arrived with a bladder that I'm sure had swollen to about nine times it's normal size. (Yesterday, I didn't hydrate myself enough, so today I overcompensated.)

I was unhappy with myself for not managing my time better and I let that set the tone for the rest of my afternoon. For the next few hours, after my sprint, which followed not nearly enough nourishing food (or, food, period), I felt my energy wane. By the time I headed home, I was practically asleep on my feet. Pic on the other hand was bouncing all over the place. I know both of those descriptions are pretty cliche, but both are so incredibly fitting.

She and I made it home and I immediately stripped off my slacks and blouse and donned an oversized t-shirt. I fed myself (Pic wasn't hungry). I started to relax, just a tiny bit. I sat down at the computer and opened my personal e-mail and found two pictures of Pic practicing yoga this morning. Cardo said he and Pic will be practicing a bit together tomorrow also.

So, yes, it's been a long and not-altogether-pleasant day, but any day that ends with this

belongs put into the "good" column.

It's days like this that make me realize both that I love what I do, the thing that takes me away from my home, and that I don't want to be so torn between the one and the other.

Monday, September 13, 2010

itty-bitty pops

Yesterday, I wanted to make food. Actually, I often want to make food, but feel to exhausted to do so. (Or, y'know, we haven't been shopping in a while and we're sadly lacking important ingredients). I wanted to make some kind of banana bread because we have three sad, sad bananas languishing on our dining room table. However, we're missing at least one ingredient from every recipe I have. I'm not such a huge fan of banana bread (or bananas in general), but I refuse to let those go completely to compost.

Anyhow, Pic and I did end up making tiny popsicles yesterday. I cannot find my popsicle molds, but we did have an empty ice cube tray and a huge box of popsicle sticks. We loosely based our method on Catherine Newman's from her mango fro-yo pops recipe (except...we didn't use vanilla, we used a different main fruit and I had no lemons or limes). So, basically, without measuring anything, I poured a bit of white grape juice into the blender and topped it with some raspberries, plain Greek yogurt and some agave nectar. I was too lazy to climb up on anything to get down the vanilla, but I'll add it next time. A couple of quick whirs in the blender and our base was ready for the ice cube tray. We let the popsicles set a while and then pushed the sticks in. Pick at a couple of popsicles yesterday and we each had one today. I think next time I'll use less yogurt. And, I have a melon on my counter that I bought specifically for making popsicles, so our next batch will be a different flavor. Super simple.

What, you don't put on your finery for popsicle consumption?

And, super simple is all I feel I have time for right now. I'm having a very difficult time with balance and rhythm right now. Based on the last month, I know, right now, that I want to do things differently next year. I hope I'll have the same resolve then. And, I hope I'll have found the confidence to do what I really want to do. Until then, I'm back to sleeping in three-hour shifts. Wasn't I just rejoicing over not having this schedule anymore? Ugh.

Right now, I'm needing to get back to other necessities. The rest of this week is going to feel interminable. I'll just have to keep on keeping on right? Because I don't have much choice otherwise. This weekend, I'll reassess and figure out a more workable schedule for myself and my family.

ancient to early modern to now...

...equals awesome.

"Shakespeare Comedy Sketch"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

baking up some hostility

After I picked Pic up today, we were driving home and listening to NPR. As the ninth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks approaches, the news media has given plenty of time to the story about Reverend Terry Jones's plan to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday, September 11. I was giving Pic a very broad summary of what happened nine years ago and of what is going on with Jones. She decided that Jones's plan "isn't very nice." A few minutes after we were discussing this ("Wait, can you tell me what the Quran is again?" she asked), we heard that Jones had called off his plan, which she decided was a "nice" thing. (Now, of course, there's more to the story even.)

Much later this evening, after we got home from our family park time and walk, Pic told Cardo, "Papi, on the radio today, we heard a story about a man who was going to bake some books, but he's not going to now."


Just trying to condense the stories for her was difficult for me. There are times I want to shelter her from everything ugly in the world, but I know that's not possible. First off, I'm not perfect. There're times when I act like a jerk and get snappy and have to apologize to Pic or Cardo or others. Second, I want her to be informed and to have opinions on what is going on in the world. I do a lot of presenting stories to her and asking her what she thinks. I'd like to say that I present everything in a completely unbiased way, but I honestly think that's not possible. (I've given this a lot of thought over the years and I really don't believe that there's such thing as being completely objective in writing or speech. We bring an entire set of experiences with us to every situation.) I do try to present more than one viewpoint to her, but sometimes I'm not even good at that. Ah, well. Third, I listen to NPR often. I do a lot of reading, but I mainly read news to myself (I do a lot of reading aloud, just not news stories so much). Pic is with me often, which means that she often is at least exposed to what I'm listening to. I'm not sure how much she listens to what I listen to, but she's there.

For now, I appreciate how simply she sees the world. People are either nice or they should be nice. She believes that everyone is good, even if only deep down, and she loves everyone. I know these are signs she lives a good life and wants for nothing. For this, I am grateful. I'll figure out the rest as it comes.

down in the funk; or, ridiculous squabbling

I've been feeling in a definite funk lately. It's one of those major rethinking funks wherein I'm wondering if I'm satisfied with my choices (and, at the same time, feeling jerky for even wondering when my life is pretty freaking fantastic). As I told Cardo the other day, I sometimes wonder if I've done things in the wrong order somehow. But, really, whose order am I looking at? Why am I even worried about this? It's not as if there is some plan out there, writ large, dictating what we all do. Anyhow, if there was, knowing the way I do things, I'd deviate from that plan. So, what's my deal? Chissa?

And, when I'm feeling in this mood, I end up questioning how I'm contributing to this family. I actually start wondering if I am even contributing, which I know is ridiculous. I know it, but I forget. Then, Cardo and I devolve into arguing over who does less. Oh, geez. I can't wait for Pic to just assert, "Hey, guys, you're being ridiculous. Things rock. Stop whining."

I really think it's just too easy for me to fall into that old American dream trap (or, what seems to be the new American dream trap). More ridiculousness! Because working endless hours to buy a bunch of crap is definitely not what I want. I want time with my family. And, yes, I could always do with some more books. But I don't want brand new cars, flat screen plasma tvs, cable/satellite/whatever, fancy new phones, a fancy new house, ecc. I want what I have. So, what the crap? I don't know.

Thanks, Mighty Interweb, I think you've just allowed me to talk myself out of my utter silliness.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

happiness is...

this one's for indie

This was sent along to me by Poke. As I replied to her, I don't watch the show (although I'm sure I could lose many, many hours of my life to enjoying it).

"Glee - Safety Dance with Artie HD"

Watching this, I reflect on a theory I've long been formulating. It's nothing earth-moving or anything, mind you, just something I've long mulled over. Part of dancing well is being confident and letting that confidence show through your moves. Yes, rhythm e molto importante, ma confidence is a necessity. Otherwise, how would anyone explain how some instances of "good dancing" are such? Because, when I take the time to really scrutinize dance moves (and I do this all the time when I'm watching dance), lots of moves would just seem silly if the person performing them didn't believe that she or he was completely awesome. So, rhythm and confidence. Oh, yes, of course, dance tunes help. But, I think part of the confidence I'm going on and on about is allowing yourself to get wrapped up in or lost in the music. And, perhaps, this whole issue is why I'm not a good dancer: I still have confidence issues, all these years into this life. Ah, well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

in flight

"Can't keep still all day.... I like adventures, and I'm going to find one." -- Jo March, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

with honors

I kind of half-watched this earlier, as I was preparing for the upcoming week. (Yes, I know, when I try to do two or more things at once, I do none of them well.)

"What is the Constitution?" [from the movie With Honors]

This scene is probably always relevant, but it seems to me to be even more so right now when I have been hearing so many pleas to return to the original intentions of the founders of the US. To those who argue this, I have to ask, "Really?" Even if they argue that we return to the original document (because the use of "intentions" doesn't sit well with me), I have to wonder. And, yes, if I presented this monologue from With Honors, they'd probably have to ask me, "Really?" Yes.


On a note way off to the side here, speaking of parking lots, until very recently I thought the song "Big Yellow Taxi," included the lyrics, "big paradise, put up a parking lot." I never really paid attention to the other lyrics. (And, for an even further confession, I had never heard Joni Mitchell sing the song until just now.)

"big yellow taxi - joni mitchell in concert 1970"

Sunday, September 5, 2010


There are very few traditions we participate in, but the Great Reno Balloon Race is one of them. We have been going for several years now, although I never went to the Reno races before Pic was born. Growing up, I remember attending a similar event down in Vegas with my mom and Auntie Peecho. We'd get up horribly early, pour hot chocolate in thermoses, stuff ourselves into puffy winter coats and head out to watch the festivities. I loved it. I love sharing that with Pic.

Last year, we were woefully late (sorry, again, Auntie C and Uncle A), but this year, we hope that won't be the case. Cardo and I've informed Pic that it's her job to wake us up when the alarms (yes, plural) go off.

(Yes, that's how early we have to be up and out there, but it's definitely been worth it for us.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

on being almost frugal

I was checking facebook updates the other day and a friend posted that she had stopped at a thrift store earlier in the day to drop some stuff off. I responded that we can never stop at a thrift store to just drop things off. Today, in fact, we headed over to one of our favorite haunts and picked up a fair share of items. For $21.11, we got a movie (VHS, Shrek), a video game (something Cardo picked up for his gaming system) and seventeen new (to us) books.

* The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan (This one's for me. I've been told a lot lately that I should read this and I'm interested.)
* For the Love of Autumn, by Patricia Polacco
* The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, written by Linda Williams and illustrated by Megan Lloyd (We might already have this one, but I am really not sure. If we do have it, we'll send this one along to someone else.)
* The Patchwork Quilt, written by Valerie Flournoy and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
* Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?, by Eric Carle
* Saint George and the Dragon, retold by Margaret Hodges and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
* Ox-Cart Man, written by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney
* Trivia Trackdown: Challenging Questions to Sharpen Research Skills, Grades 4-6, written by Linda Schwartz and illustrated by Beverly Armstrong (This one is kind of, um, dated. The cover has a collage of pictures and one is a country outline labeled Czechoslovakia. I still think it could be an interesting book.)
* The Usborne Book of Dinosaurs, by Susan Mayes and illustrated by Luis Rey
* More Bugs in Boxes, by David A. Carter (This is the one Pic chose.)
* A House Is a House for Me, written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Betty Fraser
* The Berenstain Bears the Whole Year Through, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
* Everything You Need to Know about American History Homework: A Desk Reference for Students and Parents, by Anne Zeman and Kate Kelly
* Teaching Writing through Differentiated Instruction with Leveled Graphic Organizers, by Nancy L. Witherell and Mary C. McMackin (I have no idea what "differentiated instruction with leveled graphic organizers" means, but I'm always intersted in texts on writing.)
* Step-by-Step Collage, by Jim RObins and Philip Steele
* The New Astrology: A Unique Synthesis of the World's Two Great Astrological Systems: The Chinese and Western, by Suzanne White (Cardo chose this one.)
* Computers Don't Byte!: Family and Kids Edition, written by Linda Pereira, Tim Haag and Jessica H. G. Schroeter and illustrated by Karon Walstad and Wendy Chang (This one is also dated, but I'm hoping some of the websites are still active.)

I often find myself buying "educational" texts even if I don't know how or if I'll use them. I am somewhat compulsive about this and generally obsessed with the topic. And, I love children's books, so I usually pick up a good number of them. Okay, who am I kidding? I love books in general.

We also stopped at the library today, where we picked up a few new books to browse. Mainly, when it comes to library trips, I pick up anything and everything that looks interesting. Pic and I have been visiting the library together regularly for most of her life (before, we'd just rely on the books we had at home) and we've read untold numbers of books. I'm amazed, every single trip, at how many books we haven't yet read. O, if only sleep were unnecessary!

We also went to 5th St. Bakehouse for a late breakfast. It was good and the company was pleasant, as always. That wasn't one of our frugal activities, but it's a factor in a great week around these parts. Our other not-so-frugal outing was a trip to the Apple store, where we bought some new software and where I decided that I really want the National Geographic software, which includes every issue since 1888. (I'm not sure what year the software was created, so I'm not sure where the issues end.) Alas, that's $60 and isn't in the budget right now.

Pic has been requesting a trip to Cabela's to look a los animales muertos. I'm not exactly sure what the fascination is, but she's been insistent, so we headed over there. We spent a good long while checking out the animals on display and the live fish in the giant fish tank. Pick explained to us that the animals that ended up as meals were called "prey." Then, I re-introduced the word "predator" to her. (She used to pronounce it "creditor.") We didn't buy anything at Cabela's, so our only expense was the gas we used to get there and back.

After all these outings, we have spent a good long time at home. Pic had wanted to go out and try her bicycle senza training wheels, but she later decided against this. We'll have to try this tomorrow, as I really need some time and the park and out on a nice long walk.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

on being super-frugal

FYI*: Savers is having one of its semi-annual half-off sales on Monday. (I think they're still doing that twice a year...otherwise, it's only their annual half-off sale.) I have been wanting some new clothes lately, but I've had no reason to buy any. I have enough clothes to wear clean clothes every day without having to wash clothes every single day. I have enough clothes to go to work and kind of act like I have a decent variety (although, someone should have reminded me of this at three o'clock this morning, when I was trying to figure out what to wear today). Is there any justification for me buying new clothes? Yes, I'm asking for others to reassure me here.

I am trying, very diligently, to not go around spending money on things that aren't so much necessities. "How's that going for you?" you ask? Um, yeah. Last night, I bought myself a new Penny Press Variety Puzzles and Games book. (What? What's that you say? Why, yes, I am really and truly a nerd.) I certainly didn't need this book/timesuck, but there you have it.

We really messed up in July and we really paid for it in August. It is decidedly unpleasant to not be able to buy groceries and pay all of the other bills at the same time. For whatever reason, I thought we had gotten past that. Alas. As far as the whole eating dinner at home only for August? We ate out four times. That's pretty frickin' awesome for us. And, the last dinner out was a celebratory one with our dearly beloved friends after they shared some fabulous news.

We will continue to try to keep our spending well within our limits. Not only do we have bills we need to pay off, we are thinking to one day start saving for a couple of big deal (for us) items: a trip to Disneyland in the coming year and, eventually, a house. When we made the decision to start homeschooling, I was thinking we'd probably forego buying our own house, but I just haven't been able to let go of the notion. So, if we save our pennies for a good decade or so, we'll have some money for a downpayment. Let's just hope the real estate market doesn't get as ridiculous as we have recently seen. In the meantime, we are happy where we are; I've just got a problem with letting myself actually be happy. I'm working on that. It's not easy when it seems everyone is telling us, oh-so-insistently, "Now's the time to buy!" (yes, that emphatically). It also doesn't help when people keep reminding us that renting is like flushing money down the toilet. Ah, well.

As for the Disneyland trip? We'd just like to go. Although Pic is still pretty tiny (but oh-so-grown at the same time), we are hoping that she'll eventually be tall enough to go on enough rides to satisfy her. Actually, I have no idea if she'll be into the whole rides thing, but she assures us, now, that she is.

So, wish us luck with the penny-saving, if you will? Grazie mille.


By the way: Happy September!


* I usually keep myself from using acronyms around these parts. This, however, reminds me that I once again came across FML today and I once again had to look it up. O, Urban Dictionary! You and your examples make me a little nauseated.