Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Boy and His New Toy

Today we bring you the biggest of our boys, with his new toy, a Blackberry Storm. For several months Michael has agonized over whether to jump on either the iPhone or Blackberry bandwagon. He's had a Palm PDA for the last 14 years, and it truly is his brain. He uses it, and uses it hard. In his case it is a tool rather than a toy, and one he really can't live without. However, it was time for a new device thanks to a string of problems with his Palm Treo, including a huge reduction in tech support. In the end he chose the Blackberry because it was a better fit for the way he uses his info. He's pretty happy, as you can plainly see, with his brand new toy. We all went out to dinner (the first time in weeks! I'm doing great on the resolution to eat at home more often!) and we had awful service, so-so food, and we were all disappointed that it took an hour and a half to get in and out. The kids only picked at their "kid's menu" food and both declared they like my cooking better. This is a huge, enormous, gigantic compliment that encourages me to continue coming up with meals to cook and eat at home. I'm surprised. I never make "kid's food" so you'd think they'd be more excited to have corn dogs, french fries, and mac n' cheese whenever they can get 'em, right? But no, they like my Nasi Goreng, Bruschetta, or Parmesan Encrusted Chicken. Go figure. It's amazing that the encouragement of these two boys inspires me to come up with all new culinary delights. Nathan recently requested Sushi, after tasting a classmate's in-class creation. Whoa-boy, that there's crazy talk!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Transforming Paper

Nathan spends hours creating elaborate paper creations. He started out making flat robots and Transformers, but recently figured out how to make them three dimensional. My printer is always empty of paper (evidently his personal supply), our house is strewn with little paper clippings, and we go through a roll of tape every couple of days. But I have to say there are few things in life as fascinating as watching him try to figure out how to make something work all on his own.

This robot that transforms into a car has axles and wheels that spin. The ink on his hands is a permanent fixture these days. As soon as I get it all scrubbed off, he dives into a new project with little regard for keeping the ink on the paper. I'm totally okay with that. I did hide the Sharpies, though!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Today marks the beginning of the fifteen day period known as the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year. I sent the kids to school in their final remnants of tees purchased in China and Hong Kong. For dinner I'm making Korean beef from a recipe so delicious and simple that I never want to eat take-out Chinese food again!

Nathan and Ben look forward to this day because they receive Lai See ("lucky" money in red envelopes) from their classmates. 2009 is the year of the Ox. I don't really believe in the Chinese zodiac (or astrology at all for that matter), but we did get some beautiful hand blocked gold prints of each of our animal signs when we were living in Hong Kong. I had them framed and we always hang them on our wall right inside the door of whatever home we live in (right next to my Rose clan Scottish tartan and coat of arms).

Michael is a Boar (he likes to say he is a bore), which despite what our Western culture may say about pigs, may be the most honorable and generous of all the signs. Nice to a fault and great perfectionist. Yes, that is totally Michael.

I am a Tiger, a born leader and authority figure, charming and magnetic but also possessing the desire to be alone. And if you were to describe me that way, I'd say thanks for the nice compliment.

Nathan is a Dragon, with brash and fiery energy but a warm heart and natural charisma that makes this sign frequently the center of attention. All I'm going to say is Nathan=Energy.

Benjamin is a Ram, a creative and daydreaming artist who is very thoughtful and generous, wise, gentle, and compassionate. Daydreamer Ben is definitely the one who would most likely think before leaping so I guess this applies.

When the housekeepers in Hong Kong saw our signs hanging on the wall, they would always raise their eyebrows at the Tiger and Dragon being in the same family. They would hit their knuckles together and say, "these two always butt heads". Funny, because I'd say they were right, a majority of the conflict in the family is between my son Nathan and I. However, I attribute this to the fact that we are so incredibly similar, especially in our passionate temperaments and flair for the dramatic rather than the year of our births!

I hope you have a great New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hot Date

Michael and I try to go out on regular date nights to enjoy the close proximity of Grandma and Grandpa who generally arrive just as we're putting the kids to bed. Since one of our 2009 resolutions is to see at least one live show a month (more is better), we were thrilled to see that the Center Theater Group is offering $20 tickets to all their shows this season. Considering that is about the same cost as a movie ticket, popcorn, and a soda, its a great deal!

Last night Mike and I intended to go to bed early after this long week of graveyard shifts, early mornings, and major corporate tax preparation. But the luxury of a full evening with my husband was too great to waste simply sleeping. So we called Grandma and then called the Mark Taper Forum and got some awesome last minute tickets to see Pippin, which is co-produced with Deaf West Theatre. The entire production is presented creatively with both deaf and hearing cast members with sign language throughout. We saw their production of Big River in 2005 and we were blown away by the seamless blend of singing and signing. Pippin was excellent, and if you live in or near Los Angeles, I would highly recommend you go see it before it leaves on March 15th.

Last night Nathan saw me with my hair down and makeup on and asked if I was going on a date with Dad. Michael piped in and said, Of course! Who wouldn't want to take this beautiful woman out on a date!

Today we were at Costco and Nathan said that he, too, would like to go on a date with me. I said sure and asked where he would take me. He said Not McDonald's, since I know you don't like it, and then said he'd think about it. Later in the car, I told Mike that Nathan wanted to take me on a date. Michael looked back at Nathan, who said, Sorry Dad, but look at her... she's just so pretty.

I love that kid!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Super Star!

Benjamin was Star of the Week this week. It means he gets special privileges and a display on the wall with photos and such about him. He went first because his teacher called last Thursday and said since I already knew the drill from having done it with Nathan two years ago, it would be easy. It's a project the whole family is supposed to work on. Well, of course Ben was out sick on Friday, and Monday was a holiday, and it wasn't until very late on Monday night that I remembered the big family project. Oops! So I sat up and printed the appropriate photos and then first thing Tuesday morning Ben got to do the parts that only he could do, like drawing a paper doll of himself. I very strongly dislike waiting until the last minute to do these type of projects and I'm working extremely hard to teach the boys how to budget their time to get things like this done. I wasn't always like this, I remember pulling all-nighters in high school and college to put together a paper or create a costume design. It really isn't the ideal way to do it though! Nathan is Star of the Week in a few weeks so I think we'll get started on his big project this weekend.

Pretty much since birth I've been telling Benjamin that he is going to be a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon when he grows up so he can save the lives of little children like himself who need heart surgery (I narrow it down and say I want him to practice at Stanford where he had his heart surgery, but you know, he could practice at Cedars or UCLA if he had to). Despite my not-to-subtle attempts to sway his mind toward going into medicine (which would be a first for our family of artists), when I ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he says Ben 10, a fictitious cartoon character. So this week when he said "doctor", I had to carefully document it!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Completely Accurate

In our house the job of nail clipping falls squarely on Mike's shoulders, primarily because the scene above is an accurate depiction of what happens when the clippers come out. Glad to know that at least the fictitious For Better or For Worse family knows our pain!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old Friends

Through the wonder of the Internet I've recently been able to reconnect with old friends I haven't seen in 15 years. I've lost all touch with friends from my early childhood; my oldest friend is someone I've only known since my freshman year of high school, twenty years ago. Michael, on the other hand, has friends that go back to the cradle.
With all our moves, I wonder at what point my children will latch on to a friendship that will last well into adulthood. Nathan's oldest friend is the daughter of a dear friend of mine from five moves ago. Our kids met each other right before their first birthdays. Recently the kids sent a few emails back and forth to each other (with the help of their moms), and Nathan gave an oral report on his "first friend", and spoke about her. They haven't seen each other face to face in four years, so I have no idea what he remembers. Later this year we'll be traveling up to Northern California to visit and let our kids get reacquainted.
It is so easy to let friendships fall by the wayside- it takes loads of work to keep in touch, and with all our moves and friends all over the world it is something that occupies a lot of my time. But it is worth it as there is nothing like a friend who has known you for years through thick and thin and loves you still.


Mom, is this one of those times you make us take a picture because it will be important to us one day?

Yes, now smile! I actually got quite teary when the helicopter arose from the lawn carrying the now former President Bush. We were in the hospital going through the experience of having our first child just days after the 2000 election. I was in the hospital a full week (complications) and when we were finally released to go home, it was still a toss up over who would be Commander in Chief! It's hard to believe it's been eight years, but I've got the tall, lanky boy to prove it.

One final, personal, thought:
Psalm 71:5 O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Eve

I remember the 1980 election where Reagan was elected for his first term. I remember the voting booths that had been set up in the neighborhood elementary school and my little brother and I accompanying my Mom into the booth formed out of heavy fabric. I would have been just shy of my 6th birthday. The election of 1984 is far more defined in my memory as it was a year filled with headlines; the Olympics in Los Angeles (the Soviet boycott of it, the world's love affair with Mary Lou Retton), AIDS entered mainstream consciousness (and the serious conversation about it my parents had with my brother and I which defined us as the last generation to know a world without the disease), and of course the eponymous title of George Orwell's novel (which introduced me to the sad fact that some books were on a "banned list"). It was also the year I hit one of those favorite childhood milestones: my first double digit birthday.

We've had the privilege of living in and visiting countries with governments far different from what we enjoy here in the United States. We've enjoyed sharing the experiences with our boys, and look forward to continuing their practical education through giving them the first hand knowledge that comes with living in a community different from what you know. Here in the U.S., we make a point of taking the boys with us when we go to the polls so they will always remember the high value we place on being involved in our community and our nation. And being that they are 5 and 8, I'm pleased to know that they will only ever remember a time when the highest office in the land was available to either gender and any race. I recently heard Erwin McManus say that you could always tell when a movie was set in the future by the fact that a black man was president. The future arrives tomorrow!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Simply Splendid Saturday

We pay a pretty high rent so we can live in a place where we can wear shorts and sandals and spend the day at the beach in January with 80 degree weather, while the rest of the country is taking a beating from a brutal ice storm. Southern California rocks!

Nathan didn't get to complete his Saturday to do list because we all jumped into the car for a drive around the Palos Verdes Peninsula to enjoy the sand, surf, and sunshine. It brought back memories of a day fifteen years ago when I had asked Michael to accompany me on a little jaunt to purchase a refrigerator for my tiny apartment. He was the lighting designer on a show I was stage managing, and despite turning down his advances time and time again, he proved to be quite persistent! The day did not end with me having a new fridge, but you gotta hand it to Mike, he knew how to impress this girl by taking me on a drive around the Peninsula, up high on the sea cliffs with a view of Catalina and down to the shore with a direct view of Malibu. I was smitten, both with the natural beauty of our stretch of coastline and with Michael. Is it any wonder that we were engaged a mere two months later?

Wayfarer's Chapel, designed by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright sits perched on the hill overlooking the ocean. Made of glass and surrounded by trees, flowers, and the ocean, there are few other places so filled with peace! Well, at least until our boys got there and enjoyed running along the grassy terrace behind the chapel...

The roads that wrap around the Palos Verdes Peninsula are constantly moving as the hills are pushed up or the cliffs crumble. It feels like a very bumpy roller coaster ride and the boys enjoyed hanging their heads out the window to catch the ocean air rushing by and throwing their arms in the air as we descended each giant dip in the road.

To Do List

Nathan decided to jot down his preferred Saturday activities, and then began working his way through the list. Such organization! He must get it from his Daddy...

1. Watch T.V.

2. Toy Marathon

3. Make own boobie traps

4. Test boobie traps

5. ?

6. Lunch

7. See what's on 70, 39, 47, 5, 10

8. Make stuff out of paper (finish Bumble Bee)

9. Work on clubhouse

10. Play outside

11. Watch movies

12. ?

13. Dinner

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Suite Life

Our friend Scott is appearing in a new episode of Disney Channel's Suite Life on Deck tonight at 8:00 p.m. The boys love The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, which is a show about two twin boys who live in a hotel suite with their mom, the lounge singer. They make everyone at the hotel crazy, and love the candy counter girl Maddie, played by High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale. The Suite Life on Deck is a spin off where the boys are now living on a cruise ship. Tonight's episode is the one time this season Ashley Tisdale will make an appearance, and true to the typical story line, a young prince falls in love with her. Scott plays the prince's herald. Our boys are excited and think we are so cool. Never mind the many other connections we have in the entertainment world, right now it's all about the Disney Channel!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Call me Betty

Nathan earned the privilege of inviting a friend over to play after school today. Of course, the play date coincided with Michael sleeping all day after working a graveyard shift last night and preparing to do it again tonight. How does one keep three boys occupied and semi-quiet for an hour after school?

Sometimes I amaze even myself. First, we picked lemons off our lemon tree. Then I cut them up and let the boys take turns juicing the lemons with a wooden juicer, running the juice through a strainer to catch the pulp, counting seeds as we went. We added water, ice, and sugar and viola! Lemonade! I served up plates of Mike's homemade cookies and let them dig in. I pulled out all the colored paper and let them create, and then they ran around in the back yard (oops, right under sleeping Dad's window) to let out some steam.

Here's the part that will really knock your socks off... While entertaining Nathan's friend and whipping up the lemonade, I also managed to cook a whole chicken, cut green beans, and bake some potatoes Au gratin, all timed to be ready right as Michael woke up.

Good grief. I don't know how long I can keep this up! I'm going to have to rent a Harley, sky dive, or swim with sharks to balance out all this domesticity!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

O Christmas Tree

Down come
all the
Christmas Trees.
used up.
Left behind
at the curb
for the recycle truck
to mulch up.

But wait Mommy!
Our youngest one cries,
This one is still good!
It still has some
Christmas left in it!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Music Pocket

Ben has been asking for an iPod. He is five. But he calls it a "music pocket". All toddlers love to dance to music. With no inhibition, they hear a beat and they start wobbling around, bobbing their heads. It's one of the sweetest things you'll ever see. But most of them grow out of it. Benjamin really hasn't. He will dance to jingles on ads, the ice cream truck, or the theme songs to T.V. shows. In the car where dancing is far more restricted due to the seat belt, he'll tap out complicated rhythms on the door, the window, the back of the driver's seat, for as many minutes or hours that we're driving. He's like our own Billy Elliot.

Ben received enough gift cards for Christmas that we could get him the iPod Shuffle, which would be small enough to fit in his tiny jean pockets. Everywhere we go, he sees young people (not quite as young as Ben) listening to their MP3 players and the intense longing on his face and his feeling that he's missing out on hearing some really great song is just almost too much for me to handle!

So what do we do? I don't think I even had my own radio until I was ten, and certainly not my own CD player until I was married! Even worse, I just barely got my own iPod about six months ago. Michael, however, is an early adopter who gets every latest piece of technology the second it comes out (or at least he wants to, our financial situation prohibits getting every latest thing) so he would have been the kindergartner with the iPod, if his parents would have let him.

And then the next question will be... should we get one for Nathan as well? I don't think Nathan would take as good care of it, or even listen to it much after the original thrill wore off, so I'm leaning towards no. My friend Selena got her five year old son an MP3 player just recently. And she also just shared that yesterday one of her third grade students had their cell phone go off in class! A few months back, Nathan borrowed a friend's cell phone to call home and I could barely get past the shock of having my then seven year old call me. How young is too young for all this technology? I don't want to be a dinosaur of a parent... it's not like he's asking for a facial piercing or tattoos here.

Watch out, the Chase Family has just entered brand new, previously uncharted territory!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Helper or Enabler?

Ben noticed Mommy's cokes were getting low so he took it upon himself to restock.

Daddy caught him on film. Or I guess SD card would be more accurate in this digital age...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Double the Fun

This weekend Michael rebuilt some shelves in our pantry to maximize the space, all in an effort to support me in my efforts to eat at home more often. The idea is if you can see what you have to work with and are organized enough, inspiration will flow and meals will be far easier to create. That's the theory anyway, I'll let you know how it goes in practice!
To accomplish this, we had to pull everything out of the pantry and the service porch, resulting in a huge mess in the kitchen, which overflowed into the dining room. Our workday coincided with stunningly gorgeous 80 degree weather, which meant our boys were outdoors from the moment we got out of bed. And ours weren't the only boys playing outside, they were joined by our next door neighbor's nearly four year old grandson and another five year old boy who lives four houses away. All four boys traipsed up and down the block on scooters, bikes, and trikes, in and out of all of houses. They destroyed our living room, dragging out all the huge Hot Wheels tracks that are normally stored in the garage, and built a clubhouse in the back yard out of random yard toys and equipment. They banged furiously on Ben's drum set and made lots of noise, and pulled out all the DVDs in the cupboard. I loved every minute of it! It reminded me of my own childhood, where we could walk right into any number of neighbor's homes and feel totally welcome.
Despite the huge possibility for disaster (at least as far as a clean home goes), three great things happened:
1. The pantry got finished because the boys were totally occupied and having fun.
2. I was able to send the whole lot of boys down the street to play so I could pick up the living room in peace.
3. Our neighbor, after viewing the disaster of our kitchen while in the thick of building, declared that we were welcome to come to dinner at their house where they were grilling up carne asada.
There nothing like going to bed on a Saturday night and turning out the light in the living room and being greeted with a sight like this!

Sweet dreams indeed!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fish Funeral

Well, it happened. Benjamin's fish went to the big fish bowl in the sky. He was a Beta fish that we've had for 18 months that defined our children as "pet owners" when they were asked if they had a pet.

Nathan had been praying every night for a pet. Amazingly, both Michael and I won a Beta fish at a banquet. Maybe not the pet he'd been praying for! I was upset because they'd used the fish as the table centerpieces and I felt it was horrible to use a live animal as decor. After all, we wouldn't put a puppy in a cage on a table and call it a theme, right? When we came home with the two fish, our boys were thrilled. Nathan named his Scruffy, and Benjamin called his Tuna. In a sad twist, Nathan's died just two weeks later. We held a small burial in the back yard and Nathan cried for a solid 24 hours. Benjamin renamed his fish Scruffy-Tuna in honor of the departed Beta and declared he would share with his brother. Scruffy-Tuna has lived a pampered life on the ledge over our stove top, being lovingly fed each day by Michael or the boys. The last couple of weeks he didn't look so good, and didn't seem interested in his food at all. Mike discovered the loss last night, and we broke the news to the boys this afternoon.

We held another burial, this one marked with far more tears from both boys. We all saw Marley and Me right after Christmas, so the boys got to see a family crying in grief over the loss of a pet, and they responded similarly. Especially little Ben, who was simply heartbroken. His constant tearful refrain was, "Now I don't have a pet!"

Not content to simply bury the fish, Benjamin gave each of us a sheet of paper and asked us to create something nice in honor of Scruffy-Tuna. We did, and then Ben placed them on the ground above the fish.
Nathan drew Scruffy-Tuna wearing a white robe and halo, and proving that he is a normal eight year old boy, a gun shooting the devil as Scruffy ascends to fish heaven. He wrote: Dear Scruffy, I hope you like heaven, have a good time, from Nathan. Michael also went with the heaven theme and actually drew Scruffy on his journey from his bowl into the pearly gates! Benjamin created a three dimensional sad snowman out of cotton balls because, "Scruffy-Tuna would like that." My contribution is lame compared to their heartfelt artwork!

I don't think we will be getting another pet in the immediate future. Michael is allergic to cats, our rental agreement prohibits dogs, and fuzzy rodents or scaly reptiles are not something I want to have in my house voluntarily. Mr. Rock is still Nathan's big obsession, so we may have to come up with some other inanimate object for Ben. We'll see.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Home Cooking

I am not a great cook. Well, let me rephrase that. I don't like cooking. Of all the things I like to do with my time, cooking is at the very, very far bottom of a very long list. I find no thrill, no excitement, in preparing a meal. I dread it, I loathe it, and I generally do anything and everything I can to get out of it. I do love to eat, and I especially love good food. And I especially love good food when it's prepared by someone else, like a chef at a nice restaurant.

The surprise is if you eat something I've prepared, you are likely to say that it tastes delicious and that you really enjoyed it, and ask for the recipe. I can be a great cook when I put my mind to it. But the effort involved is overwhelming in the worst possible way. Especially when a meal that has taken so long to prepare is consumed in mere minutes by my hungry boys, husband included.

In these rough economic times, eating out has become a luxury. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to eat at home more often. So I'm trying. Really hard. Last night I made Mexican Lasagna from a recipe I received at my bridal shower almost 14 years ago. It's really good. And I know this because Nathan and Ben were positively singing my praises. They all but licked their plates clean. Nathan declared it to be the very best meal he'd ever eaten. Tonight I made an Italian chicken recipe that has mozzarella, tomatoes, and chunks of sourdough bread. When Nat looked at it, he said "yuck". When I told him what was in it (all his favorites), he changed his tune and took a bite, declaring it to be the best meal ever. And then he paid me a lovely compliment. He said that my cooking was completely out of this world! I got all warm and fuzzy feeling, and then he said it was so out of this world, it went to outer space where even the aliens ate it, loved it, and sent back down to earth for seconds. Golly! High praise indeed! From an eight year old, anyway! Hmmm, just wait until he tries my Slimy Green Burritos, a meal so incredibly tasty that Michael long ago composed a theme song for it. Yeah, it's really that good.

I guess the key to me enjoying cooking involves people singing happy songs about it!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Auntie Heidi!

Today is the birthday of Michael's youngest sibling, his sister Heidi. She lives in Virginia with her hubby Clay and two of our nieces.

Between Michael and I, there are over a dozen birthdays that fall in the months of December and January in our two families. Which is why when we were planning our wedding we chose June for our big day. As far as you could get from the rest of the reasons to celebrate! Of course, WE were the ones who later blew it and ended up having a son born at the end of June! Oh well. Despite what they say, you really can't plan these things!

Happy Birthday Heidi!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Work it

After another round of phone calls and emails, I'm happy to report that the money from Nathan's savings account is back in the now re-opened account.

When told that we had prevailed in our quest for justice (the fair return of his cash), Nathan jumped in the air and shouted YES! Then he said, and I quote- Now I love the Government! You just have to know how to work it!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Young Anarchist

When Nathan was born, he got a lot of cash. We did what good parents do and opened a savings account at the credit union for Michael's employer at the time (a certain theme park that has a mouse for a mascot). We added to the account occasionally when Nathan received a check made out to him, but mainly it just sat there, growing a pretty good sized chunk of interest in the nearly eight years we've had the account.

In yesterday's mail I received a statement from the credit union that included a $2 "Withdrawal Escheat Fee 2008" and a happy little message that says, "This is the final statement you will receive for this account". Odd, I thought. So I rang up the credit union and was told the account was in escheat to the state of California. Asking for an explanation, I was told that when an account sits untouched for a specified period of time, financial institutions consider them unclaimed and are obligated to hand over the cash (or stocks/bonds/safe deposit box contents) to the State. This lovely little process is called escheat, and it has roots back in the 1300's when people would die and the king would claim the estate if there wasn't someone else to legally claim it. In modern times it is a way that banks and companies can safely turn over what they believe are abandoned or unclaimed funds without having to continue managing them. The amount of time varies from state to state. In California you have three years before you have to make a deposit or withdrawal or it's bye-bye account. I was totally floored by this!

I grew a little outraged when she said the account was closed in October. I was holding the statement for September and it had no notice that the account was in danger of escheat, and that it definitely wasn't "unclaimed" as she claimed... after all they hadn't contacted us in any way, and none of the quarterly statements were ever returned to them (giving them the idea that we were unreachable).

I was referred to the California State Controller's Office where I found out that I have until June 1, 2009 to somehow get the money back from the credit union. Of course, the credit union is saying I have to contact the Controller's Office so it's a little game of Money, Money, Who's Got The Money. All hope is not lost; I've been assured by the lovely California State Controller's Office website that property or the equivalent value does get returned provided you jump through the appropriate flaming hoops of death to get it.

I was telling my tale of woe to the entire family last night at my Mother-in-law's birthday dinner and Nathan grew more and more upset about the situation and the fact that we were talking about his money that the government had apparently taken. In the way that only our bright and creative boy can, he immediately made the leap to the idea that government is bad and evil. And then of course he took it one step further and began creating drawings and slogans saying DOWN WITH GOVERNMENT, and demanding to know who was in charge of this country. Auntie Holly tried to help by teaching him the sign for anarchy, and he enlisted Ben into his cause and they began chanting anti-government sayings. My favorite was "PU! Who smells the Stinkerment?" Of course I was trying incredibly hard not to laugh while at the same time trying to keep him from disturbing everyone in the restaurant. Having worked briefly as a political activist in my 20's, I felt some measure of pride in my little guy and his passion, no matter how misguided.

In a very, very, very small way I'm glad this happened because it gives us the chance to talk to Nathan about the government here in the U.S. and compare it to the governments of the other countries where we have lived and visited. And to let him know that we have the ability to work hard to change things we don't like with our government, while other people in other countries have no such right or privilege. And because all this is tied into Nathan and his money, he is quite interested to learn more about it!
And just a word of caution to all of you: go make small deposits into your rarely used accounts, and take a peek into your safety deposit boxes just to keep them "active"!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Today is Michael's Mom's birthday! We all went out to Marmalade Cafe in Rolling Hills Estates to celebrate. Normally it's a special place that Michael and I go without the kids. I love the decor and all the little alcoves where you can have a nice, private conversation.
They brought Grandma a sundae after dinner. It was nearly all whipped cream with a tiny scoop of ice cream right in the middle!
Grandma's very favorite color is purple, so I wore my stripey purple tights in her honor!

Happy Birthday Grandma! We love you!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Beautiful Bonnet

Nathan is a boy of many, many talents. But please, dear Lord, do not let him grow up to be a clown...

Sunday, January 4, 2009


It's cold and drizzling and the boys aren't feeling so great. So we pitched a couple of tents in front of the telly and watched all the new Christmas DVDs we just opened a week ago, like a Charlie Brown Christmas and Elf. Great adventure in the big indoors.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Now that the two week Christmas Break is drawing to a close, both my kids are sick. Totally typical, huh? Ben got in some dreidel action and then crashed on the couch. This is only shocking if you know that Ben was the baby that you couldn't rock to sleep or drive to sleep- he would only fall asleep in his bed. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times he's fallen asleep in a place other than his bed...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

The Chase Family Resolutions for 2009

1. See at least one live show each month. More is better.
2. Eat at home more often.
3. Get rid of at least one black plastic trash bag or one giant box of accumulated and unwanted “stuff” every single week.
4. Design and create new creative opportunities for the boys/family/myself each month (writing, painting, sewing, etc.).
5. Make significant progress towards eliminating our financial obligations.

1. Learn to fly
2. Learn to teleport
3. Learn to stop time

1. Eat more pizza.
2. Get better at math.
3. Get better at playing the electric guitar.

1. I know everything already.

Notice how we chose things that are actually attainable in an effort to be successful!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fly Away With Me

Far in the distance a plane heads toward LAX as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean.
This year we thought we would be leaving Los Angeles, California, the United States. We didn't. And for the time being, we aren't.

In college, when my insomnia was particularly disturbing, I would drive my little red pickup to the departures level and park at the curb near the international terminal. In the peaceful hours of the night I would daydream about being on the huge planes headed for far off destinations. Rarely has anything been so soothing to my wandering soul. Nowadays if you so much as tap your brakes the airport police descend and tell you to keep moving, which means no time for daydreaming at the airport!

With the disappointment of our aborted move to Macau still so fresh and raw, it is proving far more difficult to stay in one place than it's ever been to move around.

I'm trying to take comfort that for all the planes that are leaving LAX, there are just as many arriving to this grand city. And in 2009, I will attempt to find contentment where we are instead of desperately longing to be elsewhere. For the time being.

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