Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ending the year with a bang! (read: finally posting)

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
Started grad school.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't really make "resolutions". It's more like... a "Let's see if I can keep this going". But things like "I will lose 20 pounds this next year"?? Not so much. (although I'd like to lose more than that if resolutions are wishes and there is a fairy out there granting them...)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not to ME. But people who are close to me, had people die who were close to them. :(

5. What countries did you visit?
Alabama. Texas.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A clean house. More to the point, a clutter-free house.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Hmmm..... I'm not sure there were any significant single dates this year....

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
See #1. I started grad school.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I am a few pounds heavier at the end of the year than I was at the beginning. Clearly the Resolution Fairy doesn't exist.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Hmmm.... I'm hoping it's the Pilates Reformer that's still in the box that came last week. I gotta clear a space for it. Hopefully I'll use it at least as much as my MacBookPro (which is also a really cool thing I bought this year)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Well.... I think both of the girls' behavior. They are well mannered, considerate and generally pleasant to be around. And since they are both teenagers, I think that merits celebration!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Wall Street.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The care and feeding of the house and the people inside. The IRS gets a mighty large chunk too.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I think the traveling I/We did. Alabama and Texas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
"All Summer Long" - Kid Rock. Probably because of the one evening Emma's friend Brooklyn was with us in the car and the song came on the radio. The four of us started singing along and acting like our usual goofy selves. Brooklyn joined in. Brooklyn became my new BFF! Gotta love a teen who joins in with another family's goofy-ness!!!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? I think more apprehensive is the best descriptor. Job insecurity still looms.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. Gotta get that Reformer out of the box!
c) richer or poorer? Holding steady.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercising. Those size 8 jeans are still mocking me from atop my dresser. I suppose I could put them in a drawer and shut them up....

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wasting time.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
No. Just still am....

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Favorite? Hard to pick a FAVORITE. Big Bang Theory, however, is a new Must See TV.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I endeavor not to hate anyone. But yea.... Sarah Palin can go away now.

24. What was the best book you read?
For FUN? Well.... I DO have a thing for Alex Delaware. He's hot. But our affair ended when grad school began. Jonathan Kellerman sent me a new Alex Delaware novel and it's still in the box, sitting on the stairs.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't think I have a "great" discovery in 2008. I just keep collecting stuff I like. I did acquire quite a bit of P!nk this year. But that's not a "discovery"... that's just a new album. Although I did discover it is VERY fun to play something on my iPod and surprise my children that I like "that". It is even MORE enjoyable for them to eventually hear their peers play the same music and for them to say "my mom's been listening to that for MONTHS, it's not new....". Crack me up!

26. What did you want and get?
A new job.

27. What did you want and not get?
A job with benefits.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I can't remember what I saw in the theater this year....

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We went to a Monarchs game. I was 42.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Norm getting a Job with a W-2, taxes withheld, paid vacation and benefits.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Must ask the resident fashion expert.... According to Emma it is: "Younger. Than yourself. Kinda like 20's or 30's." Ok....so there you go. She's the one to know these things.

32. What kept you sane?
My friends.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Besides George Clooney?? ;) Barak Obama.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Oh good glory..... How much time do you have? I think it can pretty much be summed up by the fact that I have a countdown to the Presidential Inauguration on my dashboard. We need a regime change like yesterday.

35. Who did you miss?
I don't think I'm missing anyone.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Oh wow. I met a LOT of people this past year. Maybe the biggest surprise would be Rene (cause I don't have enough Renee/Rene named people in my life). I didn't know her at all and now I'd count her as one of my best buds.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
I found this quote by John "The Wizard of Westwood" Wooden:

“Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts.”

I think that sums up how I've tried to live my life this year. Don't rest on your laurels. Don't worry about failing. Having the courage to try is what really matters. So I got a real job and I started grad school....

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Count your blessings now before they're all gone"


"What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?"

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Eve 2008

Tomorrow, November 4, 2008, we will elect a new President. As I sit here on the eve of what appears to be a historical election I am realizing that for the first time I am voting for a candidate who truly inspires me to be a better citizen (and I think I'm a pretty good one to start out... I vote, I volunteer, I don't litter, I teach my children their manners and make them mind them, I obey the laws...only bending minor traffic ones... I donate to charity and my church, I pay my fair share of my taxes...).

I voted for the first time in the Presidential election of 1984. I volunteered on my college campus and I still (and probably always will) enjoy the look on people's faces when I tell them that I was a driver in President Reagan's motorcade during his last campaign stop before election day that year. (I was the driver for White House Press Secretary, Larry Speaks) (Can you IMAGINE college student being given the keys to motorcade cars NOW???) I have voted in every single election since. Every single one.

But never before has a candidate spoken to my heart and to my children's lives.

We are in difficult times. My own family faces an uncertain future. Employment is not secure. We are fortunate that we aren't upside down in our mortgage and our overall debt is manageable. But without a job that can change quickly.

In spite of that I have hope. I watched half of America feel cheated and defeated in 2000. Less than a year later we were grief stricken but we were united. We had hope amidst the destruction. We were a strong and proud nation with a world holding us up in our time of need.

I've watched that erode under the crushing weight of lies and misdirection followed by economic meltdown. Throughout the past 8 years my children have grown into teenagers with the values of their parents, their church and their God. While their leaders have lied and pillaged, they have given their time, talent and treasure to serve others. During this election season they have fought against the injustice of Proposition 8 - realizing that eliminating rights is not a Family Value nor a commandment of their God or their Savior. They know that true salvation lies in embracing all, not in hate. They have realized they can be the voice of the voiceless and that their opinions are as valuable as any other.

They will grow into adulthood under the new President. For the first time in several years, I worry less about the country they will be given. It won't be all sunshine and roses come January 2009. But it is my hope that on inauguration day, the man that takes the oath of office is the one that is looking forward with hope - not the man who cannot leave the past behind and move into a new era.

I wasn't a Kennedy Democrat - that was before my time. But I've head people speak of how he inspired them, gave them hope for the future and promised them a place in that future by "doing what (they) can do for (their) country".

Barack Obama offers that promise to my children.

It is why I have already cast my vote for him. It is why I pray for God's protection on him.

It's what makes me an Obama Democrat

Friday, October 17, 2008

Red Balloons

Sometime in the next few days hundreds, if not thousands, of red balloons are going to be released around the world. You may see one float overhead.

They are for Danny. A five year old boy who woke up four days ago throwing up and screaming in pain. By that evening he was in a coma following emergency brain surgery for the tumor on his brain stem. Overnight last night, three children received his organs.

On Monday he was feeling kinda like maybe he had the flu. On Friday his parents are making funeral arrangements.

I cannot imagine.

Our wonderful worldwide ScrapShare community will be releasing red balloons for Danny. Those who are even remotely close enough, are dropping everything to be at the services on behalf of us all. Cards are being sent with gift cards for groceries and other essentials so Danny's dad can take plenty of time off work to be with his wife and daughter and try to find a new normal.

One of our SS children is gone. Our hearts break.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happiness Is....

....watching our daughters walk into school together.

Kait is a Senior this year. Emma is in 8th grade and goes to the middle school that shares a campus with the high school. (our district does it this way for a multitude of reasons) Emma's first period class is at the high school.

Kait could be annoyed with the idea that her sister is hanging around. She could make her walk five steps behind. She could ignore her. She could tell her to go away. But she does not. Emma's first period class in 7th grade was at the high school too. Emma was invited to hang out with Kait and her friends before school. It was fine with Kait's friends because it was fine with Kait.

I know so many families with siblings constantly at each other's throats. They can't even imagine a world where their children would spend time together voluntarily.

Ours do.

It makes me happy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another PSA

Every Sunday, I read PostSecrets. This was there today. I thought it merited a plug here.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Just a few thoughts.....

If you decide to enter, say, a photography contest.... be aware of the parameters. If they are asking for "Animals" a Tiger Lily doesn't count. If they are asking for "Vegetables", grapes should not be submitted. Get a carrot and take a photo. If they want "Flowers", I can't submit my photo of moss on a tree. I could do that only if the catagory was "Plants".

If they are asking for "Flowers", your daughter Lilly doesn't count.

Shamelessly pimpin' your kid in the hopes to get the "awww vote"? Shame on you.

Only include photos of icky bugs if the contest subject IS "Icky Bugs". Butterflies and possibly caterpillars can be considered "Non-Icky Bugs" but be careful here.

Background counts. Pay. Attention. to what is going on in the background.

Dates don't count. PhotoShop or crop it out. Digital dates on the front of a photo is great to remember when you took the photo of the baby. They distract in a contest.

Lighting is important. Too much and too little are equally bad. Back lighting? Also bad. Unless you are INTENTIONALLY using it for effect.

If you are required to title your photo and the title you come up with is "Bug on Flower" and the subject is supposed to be "Flowers", your subject is the bug. You said so yourself.

And finally...... if you enter a PHOTO contest...... F.O.C.U.S.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm back

I was gone. Yea.... I know.... it's hard to tell with my blogging frequency. Or lack thereof....

But here's where I've been.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I'm posting this today because tomorrow is going to be packed with last minute getting ready-ness.

We leave Tuesday morning. Our flight is at 6:20am. We have a three hour layover at LAX which is rather irritating cause that could have been valuable sleeping time. Although I'm hoping with THREE hours, United can get our bags from one plane to the next without a problem.

There are 9 of us and each of us is taking 2 bags. That's a lot of suitcases to get where they need to go. They have our bedding and tools inside, so we need them to travel WITH us.

We have been told that we will be installing drywall. We were told months ago that we would be working in the Lower Ninth Ward. We are staying at a Volunteer Center in the French Quarter which is going to be interesting. Jazz Fest starts while we are there so it's going to be quite busy in the French Quarter.

We will be meeting a friend while we are there. Kurt has been a friend of EGUMC for 3 years now and he happens to be in town, preaching at the Catholic church next Saturday night. So us Methodists are going to the Catholic church to hear our friend, an ordained Methodist pastor, preach and then we are, like all good Methodists, going out to dinner. Kurt has pulled the required strings to get a table for 9 at Emeril's during Jazz Fest for us too. Emma is a little scared of the menu and has decided she'll have the pork chops. I'm considering the Rib Eye. The menu says it's Harris Ranch beef. Harris Ranch is just down the road a piece from us... I know it's good! ;) Is it wrong to go all the way to New Orleans and then have California beef? Yea... that's what I figured. I'll go with something else! Of course, I'm the one that bought wine made just down the river from us when I was in Texas.... LOL!

We are taking a Day of Rest on Sunday and will get in some jazz and see some sights. We'll won't see New Orleans as it was. It may never be as it was again. But since we are there, we might as well see how it is and be tourists and put some California dollars into the local economy. Something that is as important as rebuilding. Folks need to make a living there.

It's going to be an adventure. Of this we are positive. We are looking forward to going and once I get everything packed, I'll look forward to it even more!

Keep a good thought for us. Safe travels. Safe working. We will be working with power tools, and we want to return with all appendages we left with. And personal safety. New Orleans has lost most of all the law and order it had. We'll be smart.... but still... ya know?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Reality Check

Today, The Boy wasn't at school before school. He wasn't seen passing between classes. He wasn't in French class (with The Best Friend). He didn't answer his cell phone after school.

Today was "Every Fifteen Minutes".

Today, every 15 minutes the bell sounded throughout the high school campus and sounded like a heart beat....followed by the sound of a flatline. Some classes were then visited by a police officer who read the obituary of a classmate who wouldn't be coming back. Then the officer placed a rose on the desk of the missing student.

Kait was a MESS. The Boy wasn't in school. With every passing moment when she SHOULD have seen him and he wasn't there, she got more frantic. By the end of the day when he didn't answer his phone, Kait and The Best Friend were hysterical. And The Best Friend isn't too keen on The Boy most days...

When he showed up at the Science Olympiad meeting after school, Kait hugged him tight. Then slugged him.

He was oblivious.

There was no warning about this event. A day is chosen and students are asked to stay home for the day. The Boy was not one of them. But "popular and visible Seniors" are the ones that are asked and The Boy fits that description. He just chose to take a day to catch up on homework or something. Serendipity.

Telling us about her day sent Kaitlyn back into tears. Yesterday she knew a friend could die. Yesterday she knew that drunk drivers kill people. Today she felt it. She KNEW The Boy was no doubt just fine. He simply had been chosen to be the victim. But she FELT his absence. His "death" was felt to her core. The sobs were real sobs.

We talked about why she doesn't have her license yet. Why it is that we are so strict about her showing personal responsibility. She 'knew'. Ok.... so yea.. driving...responsibility... yada yada yada. But the idea of being DEAD. Not here kind of dead. Or....worse... killing a friend. Having to face the parents of The Boy or The Best Friend then live with the fact that she killed her best friend.... she FELT it today.

Reality check today.
Reality check tomorrow. Tomorrow it continues.

Prom is Saturday.

Today, in near tears, her English teacher told her class that if anyone needed a ride home on Saturday, call her. She'll be there, but call her. She wants them all back on Monday morning.

Reality check.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Compare and Contrast

Back in the day, these were the easiest essays I was assigned in English class. Compare and Contrast..... and a topic was given. I rocked at those. I was always good at seeing the similarities between two givens. I could find all sorts of similarities between, say, Jay Gatsby and Randall Patrick McMurphy.

Maybe it was all those C&C essays I did for Mr. O'Brien in 11th and 12th grade that trained my brain to automatically go to compare and contrast when looking at situations. Maybe I did well in Mr. O'Brien's class because that's the way I naturally think. It's a chicken and egg thing, I suppose.

I found myself doing the C&C thing today. I've been watching two different entities struggle with where they are and where they want to be in the future as of late. Both have clearly defined where they want to be in the future.... it's the getting there that has them vexed.

But I am finding it interesting to watch how they differ in their approach. One is insisting on short term gain in the hopes it will result in long term gain as well. The other is willing to sacrifice the short term in the hope it will result in long term gain.

I have more faith in the latter.

Short term gain keeps the wheels turning. It keeps the cash flowing and the masses motivated. We are, after all, an instant gratification culture. Unfortunately, when we expend all you have in the 'right now', you are left with no energy for later. Marathon runners know they cannot start out at a sprint. They must pace themselves. Start out slower in the beginning and have enough to sprint at the end.

But short term losses can throttle the cash flow and is demoralizing to the masses. It's difficult to keep on keeping on when it seems that nothing is working. In many ways, it takes more energy to keep trudging through during the down times. It would be like me trying to run a marathon. I'd be expending a lot of energy just to go slowly but eventually I know I would get to the finish line.

It is very very difficult to take the latter path. You face hostile faces instead of happy enthusiastic faces. It takes clearly defined leadership. It takes leadership with a thick skin to suffer the slings and arrows that comes with the short term losses. It also takes leadership who is willing to say "we are sacrificing today for a successful tomorrow". When the "team" (whoever and however that is defined) knows that the hard work that is being done now without reward will eventually result in the job being easier and with greater reward, they are more likely to suck it up and deal. They aren't going to be looking to bail out at the first opportunity. They aren't as grumbly and discontented.

Thus, the difference in the two entities. One has leadership and the other is simply stumbling through and throwing everything out there to see what works. Leadership appears to be done both with no regard to how this will affect the 'team' in the long term and by opinion poll. Whoops, everyone thinks this is a bad idea....nevermind. "Oh. You built a strategy around our idea? Too bad for you. Moving on...... "

It seems so very obvious, but leaders lead. They aren't leaders simply because they showed up that day first. They are chosen because they have the skills it takes TO lead. Not everyone can. Not everyone should. And that's ok. Leaders need people to follow them.

Both entities are facing some tough times right now. Morale is low. They are struggling. But clearly one has a plan, a clearly defined plan, for the future. The other is just hoping something will work.

I just find it interesting to observe.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


We knew we were on borrowed time. Many of our neighbors long ago gave up and just replaced the stoves that came with our houses. Seems Whirlpool had a bum batch of stoves back in the day.

Last year we fixed it.

This year we decided we'd just skip the multiple repairs thing and get a new one.

We found out that the oven had given up the ghost on Wednesday night. Emma had to make a "French meal" for French class. She chose quiche. Emma, being heat phobic, was tortured at the thought of putting the quiche into the oven. If she could have swathed herself in asbestos, she would have. VERY carefully and with as much distance as she could possibly muster, she set the quiche on the very edge of the pulled out oven rack. I told her to put it into the middle. She was horror stricken. It's HOT!!!

Fed up I went to do the task for her and show her it was FINE.

Well... yea.... she wasn't gonna get burned from that oven, that was for sure. Stone cold.

We pressed the fancy schmancy toaster oven into service and baked the quiches one at a time (there were two).

I declared the oven broken.

The Mr. futzed with screwdrivers, matches and much turning on of the gas. After which he very confidently declared that "something is wrong".

Thank God I have him around. I would have come to that conclusion without trying to blow up the house. This, apparently, is a critical step.

New stove/oven has been ordered.

Easter morning's baked eggs? Didn't have 'em. Easter dinner's ham? Still in the fridge. Although Jean did say we could go down to the shop and cook it there (where we bought the new stove). Instead we kluged the baked eggs together in a single dish that would fit into the toaster oven and had that for dinner. Our first new stove meal will be the ham. Which is fine... cause it still feels too early for Easter.

Which is why it never occurred to me to look for hot cross buns at the store. Which means I missed them completely this year.

Oh well. My patookus doesn't need anything else to work off at the gym.

New stove.... five burners, double oven from Valley Oak Home Appliance Center. It's all good..... inconvenient, but good.


I auditioned.

...and like everyone else was told they would "call next week".

It went ok. Not great. Not horrible. I suppose it really depends on how great and how horrible the others were......

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Blogger Annoyance

Yea... I know... it looks wrong.

I had to upgrade. Which means I had to revert to a stock layout. Why? Because I upgraded to be able to customize my blog.

Yea...makes no sense to me either.

I gotta find my photo again.


Doubtful it will happen today.....

Friday, March 07, 2008


Or is that just "nerve"????

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

That's really not a lot of words.

I can remember them all.... right?

In the right order.....right?

WITH the right notes.... IN the right places..... right?

What WAS I thinking when I signed up to audition to sing at a River Cats game???

Two weeks..... I have two weeks to get my nerves and my voice into shape......

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


So about a decade ago, I was surfing the internets looking for other consultants from That Scrapbooking Company and came upon The Site That Was. I logged in and posted and maybe a year-ish later this FREAK of a woman started posting as well. She was very clearly a freak because she was a Jr. High math teacher (first clue) and also worked with kids in theater. WAY too much contact with Other People's Children in my book.

Oh. And she LIKED it.

Clearly, not my kind of people.

But something clicked anyway. She lived on the other side of the country doing her freaky math and kid stuff. So all was cool. Not like she was gonna ask me to volunteer or join her in any of that.

In 2001, That Scrapbooking Company had their annual conference in Reno. *I* can go to Reno! No airfare for THAT. We had to be out of our house for a week so the builder could (try to) fix the problem with the flooring. The Mr. and children stayed with the Mother-in-Law while I went to the conference. Elaine... who I wasn't calling "that freaky woman" anymore.... was scheduled to go to the first round of the conference. She stayed a couple extra days so she could meet up with a bunch of us from The Site That Was. She said she really wanted to meet me & Marfy. The Mr. came to dinner with us, so she got to meet him too.

Time passes and we become better friends. More time passes and events happen that pull us and others together as a team. The Site That Was evaporates (cause I'm gonna be nice about it in this post) and the Mr. and I get to know Elaine and HER Mr. better.

We find ourselves spending Saturday nights in Instant Message conferences....all four of us. We would be sitting in one living room or another if we lived in the same town. But we don't. We live on opposite sides of the country. So.... Instant Message it is. Through the miracle of technology we CAN all see each other.... but it doesn't always work right and is more of a pain in the patookus, so we generally don't even bother. Although we haven't tried that since we've all been Mac enabled.... hmmm.....

Anyway..... I spent last week in Alabama with Elaine and Jerry. My 'scandalous' version of this story is that I flew across the country to a city I've never been to, to be met at the airport by a man I have never met. Which is only true in the "never met face to face" sense. I think we know each other pretty well..... and he wasn't carrying an axe, so I was fairly confident he wasn't an axe murderer. ;) So I went ahead and got in the car with him.

It's always dicey.... meeting someone you only know from a message board. You really don't REALLY know them. Since Reno, I have spent time with Elaine... in Texas. I drove all over central Texas sitting next to her in a big white van and it is STILL FUNNY, nearly four years later. I've talked on the phone with Jer.... innumerable lines of Instant Messages between us. We have laughed, commiserated, disagreed over the years. But a week in their house is a test. Pretty much doesn't matter HOW you know someone.... a week is a TEST.

I am so very glad I went. I hope they can visit us now. They have smaller children who are far less self sufficient than we do. So it may be several years before that happens. Although Helen DID say she was going to visit me when she is "six or maybe sixteen". Since six is this summer, I'm guessing sixteen is more likely.

But we are pretty much firm in our plan to send Emma to Miss Elaine's Math Camp Intensive this summer. In exchange for Emma playing with (and thus keeping them out of Mommy's hair) and babysitting (in the evenings so grown up time away from the house can be had) the Young Children, Miss Elaine is going to undo the damage done by this year's Algebra (supposed) teacher. Emma will also get to draw and play dress up with Miss Helen who has the same flair for fashion as Emma does. heh.... Emma will tutor Helen!

Fate is funny. A random spot on the internet, a chance connection.... Two families who would never have met otherwise have become very good friends. All four of us. It is rare that no matter what combination of the four, we can all comfortably get along, talk, hang out.... We have forged individual friendships. The men aren't friends just because they are the husbands and well, they might as well get along. Jerry and I spent two hours in the car talking and laughing as much as Elaine and I did on the return trip. I am sure Elaine and Normy could do the same.... I think they chat nearly every morning since Normy is up before God and it's later in the day where Elaine is and she's online. No one is weird about it. Nothing uncomfortable or awkward -()-....

It's cool. Very very cool.

.....and now.... I think I need to go jam. And that, for the record, is all Jerry's fault.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Still Californian

Yea... I heard ya. We are the cause of all the country's problems. yada yada yada.

This is why we don't care. Y'all are just grumpy about the snow.

December 26, 2007
Balboa Island, Newport Beach