Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Please allow me to introduce you to a little fresh perspective in the form of Andy Andrews’ latest book, The Noticer. It’s the story of a man named Jones (or Garcia or possibly Chen) who manages to pop up in situations that seem hopeless. At least to the people stuck there! With some brutal honesty mixed with words of encouragement, he manages to change the course of an entire community. And how does he do that? By noticing some of the things that tend to be overlooked and pointing out that there is always a wider perspective.
One nugget of wisdom is the idea that it’s really impossible to simply make a tiny difference. We may imagine our actions to be tiny, maybe inconsequential, but in truth, everything we do has far-reaching, possibly unimaginable effects. The truth is we matter, and the things we do make a huge difference - no “tiny” about it. This is something that mothers of young children need to hear often and repeat far and wide!
It’s a short read and not particularly deep. You could finish it in a day or over the course of a week if you keep it in the car and pick it up while waiting for the kids to come out of classes. It’s just a book, but during a week with a sick child, an out of town husband, and a few deadlines that could only be met by giving up a night’s sleep, it made me feel like I’d had a nice chat with an old friend, complete with a warm hug and the encouragement necessary to make it through with my head held high. Who wouldn’t want a little of that?
Get your hands on a copy today. Even better, look around you and get one for the person in your life in need of some noticing!
Monday, April 27, 2009
They are all wiggly. All of them. There is one on the bottom that can be rotated just shy of 360 degrees.
Excuse me, I need to go put my head between my knees and breathe into a paper bag because I'm ready to pass out just thinking about it.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I think we'll wait awhile longer before letting Nathan in on this inside joke at his expense. Nearly five years later we're still getting plenty of mileage out of it!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I recognized it immediately as some of Nathan's handiwork. He has a very distinct style and I have no idea where he gets it. He is hard at work creating a comic book series. He told me he wants to grow up and be an author/illustrator. I told him he didn't have to grow up to do that, we can take advantage of some of the many self-publishing services out there and get him in print now. Christmas gift dilemma solved!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Nathan: Hey Mom, I think you better switch to Diet Coke!
Me: (preparing to be insulted by my 8 year old) Nathan! Why in the world would you say something like that!
Nathan: Well, have a look... it seems like your entire diet consists of Coke!
Me: (plastering kisses all over his head) You are the funniest boy I know!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The hot weather was just a blip though, they are forecasting for Friday a high of 64 F, a nearly 40 degree drop in just a few days! Although we had big plans to take our dinner down at the beach as the sun set, Benjamin changed that. I walked over to pick him up from his after-school chess class yesterday and found him doubled over, throwing up. He was miserable and embarrassed. The walk home was even worse, and we stopped several times so he could retch into the gutter. All evening he could not stop throwing up. It was horrible to watch, and even worse to hold his feverish body as he shivered and whispered that he felt so, so, so terrible Mommy.
I'm a terrible patient. I don't want to stay in bed, I have too much to do. I'm frustrated at the illness, the weakness, the injury. I don't like to be sidelined, I want to be in the action. But I make an even worse nurse. Every time Michael gets sick (seriously, you can ask him), he asks me why I'm so angry with him. I'm not angry, I say, I just hate it when you're sick. Now get back in bed and rest this minute! And our boy Nathan is just like me, at his sickest he is out of it and then when on the mend he is grumpy and grouchy and upset that he's not feeling 100%. I tend to treat him the same way I treat Michael, very matter of fact. But Benjamin? Every time he gets sick I fall apart. Completely. I sit on the floor in the hallway outside his room and watch him sleep. I hold a wet washcloth to his forehead and sing him songs and tell him stories. And when he cries, I cry. And then when Michael comes home from work I recount the day's events and cry all over again. I'm sure it's simply the leftover fear and concern we felt during his baby and toddler years when simple infections for us could mean a hospital stay for him. That kind of terror isn't easy to forget, even though he is now a strong and healthy little boy.
While going through boxes of stuff to get rid of last week, I came across our medical ID cards for Adventist Hospital in Hong Kong. There was mine, Nathan's, and Michael's. I pouted slightly that I'd somehow misplaced Ben's. And then I remembered that Ben didn't have a card. He never once got sick the entire time we lived there. The rest of us had strep throat a few times, the barfing flu several times, Nathan had a string of injuries requiring stitches and x-rays, and Michael was hospitalized for intestinal distress. But not Ben. Our time in Hong Kong was difficult, but I was blessed with this small grace: never having to sit up all night fretting about him, crying about his health in a foreign country.
Ben is on the mend despite a lingering fever. So far, no one else feels sick. And we're all looking forward to dinner on the beach very soon!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
This was our first time at the one in Duarte; we passed it on the freeway a month ago and decided that the next chance we got, we'd try it out. The Duarte restaurant is in an old school house. The exterior says the school was built in 1909, making it 100 years old. The boys were thrilled with the high arches that made up the doorways, so different from today's modular classrooms! The menu rarely changes in the 40 years since the original opened, but one thing has... the prices! It used to be such a good deal that we'd make the drive to the one in Fullerton (around 30 miles away) knowing we would get some good, cheap eats. Now it's not really worth forking over the money for both the gas and the food. Which is sad, because the spaghetti with Mizithra cheese and browned butter is delish (although it will instantly raise your cholesterol level by several points)!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
This week was the Kindergarten "Lunch with Someone Special" event at school. I brought Ben the one thing that he always begs for but never gets, Lunchables, and a picnic blanket. He's our little social butterfly and scarfed his food down as fast as he could so he could go chat with his friends, leaving me feeling less than special! I packed up the remains of our lunch and waved him over so I could say goodbye and he gave me a giant hug and several kisses, telling me I was the best mom ever. So, I guess I'm pretty special after all!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Lucky Stanley got to hang out on the set of CSI:NY. Here he is with the film clapper. That is an extra in the background, dressed up in an NYPD uniform.
Maybe Stanley will grow up to be a director? Here he is, handling the camera with the help of the camera man.
In the scene they were filming, a semi-truck drove through the front of a deli. Look for it in an upcoming episode!
Flat Stanley and my Dad, hanging out in one of the NYPD cars in Downtown LA, which doubles for New York in CSI:NY.
Monday, April 13, 2009
1. See at least one live show each month. More is better.
This year we've seen:
- Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum produced by Deaf West Theatre Company (which is one of our very favorite theatre companies).
- RENT at the Pantages Theatre with three of the original cast members (it was our fourth time seeing it and we've decided it was our last. Enough is enough!).
- Frost/Nixon at the Ahmanson Theater (with Stacy Keach the night before he was hospitalized).
2. Eat at home more often.
Yep, we are totally doing this. We eat out on Sunday afternoons and maybe one other time during the week when there's a late guitar practice or chess class or something else that keeps us away from the house for most of the day. The unfortunate side effect of this new eating-at-home plan is that I have gained at least ten pounds since December. This is shocking and horrible and completely unexpected! Everyone said the side benefit of eating at home is weight loss. Obviously I'm doing something wrong. I guess when we go out to eat, Mike and I generally share a meal. At home, we load up our own plates. Also, I spent about six years as a vegetarian and still don't like to cook meat or poultry, so the food I cook tends to be carb heavy. I guess it's time to scale back and get Mike to do more grilling on the BBQ (which he loves)!
3. Get rid of at least one black plastic trash bag or one giant box of accumulated and unwanted “stuff” every single week.
Oh yeah, we are doing great on this one. But I still feel like there is no real progress being made. You would think that with all our moves we would have gotten rid of so much more! But I think we've been trapped into hanging onto things just in case we need them for the "next place". We must change our way of thinking on that!
4. Design and create new creative opportunities for the boys/family/myself each month (writing, painting, sewing, etc.).
This is simply a silly resolution for us. It's like resolving to breathe more. It's more of a value than a resolution, as each and every day we do something creative and crafty. We can't help it.
5. Make significant progress towards eliminating our financial obligations.
This is more important than ever. The only thing certain right now is how uncertain it is to have a steady income! We are making giant strides at getting rid of all debt and lowering what we pay for everything else. In fact, I asked Michael to call up our phone/Internet/cable provider and see if we could get a better deal. He did- he talked them into lowering our monthly bill by $25 AND throwing in a FREE DVR. We've got about 80-90 new channels too. But no additional time to waste watching them! I would encourage you to do the same thing... businesses want to keep their customers so they are willing to be more competitive than ever. Give it a try!
1. Learn to fly
Funny, but my million-airline-mile holding husband hasn't flown once this year. Nor has he learned to fly himself, though he has spent a lot of time flapping his arms.
2. Learn to teleport
Nope, no progress in this area.
3. Learn to stop time
No progress here, either, but having the DVR helps him be able to catch Heroes more often!
1. Eat more pizza.
He used his own money to buy lunch on Pizza Day at school.
2. Get better at math.
Nathan is already better at math than I am. Since when do 2nd graders do fractions and equations? I thought I learned my times tables in the 5th grade, but Nat is learning division this week. I have to find someone else to help him with his math homework!
3. Get better at playing the electric guitar.
He's earned four "belts" so far in his guitar class. Even he is amazed at how far he's come. I'm proud of him, but I'm really excited about how proud he is of himself.
1. I know everything already.
No change here! Ben informs us each day how much more he knows than we do.
We hid some plastic eggs in the front yard and then gave them some baskets of goodies from my Mom and Dad. They are busily playing with their new treats, and I'm going to go take a nice Easter nap before heading over to dinner with Michael's parents and the local siblings.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
This is Nathan's first Easter, at 5 months old. We were living in Japan at the time. Each of the grandparents sent him a bunny. We trekked nearly two hours on four trains and a bus to go to an English speaking church in Tokyo for Easter service. They kindly put Nathan in the baby nursery there so he wouldn't disrupt the service. It was the first time I'd ever been separated from him, and we didn't know anyone there. I was nervous. They gave us a number and said that if he needed anything, they would flash his number on the screen. I spent the entire service fretting and worrying. Inevitably they flashed his number, and I did not calmly walk out of the service, I ran at top speed, the program and inserts I had been gripping floating behind in my wake, people's heads getting whiplash as they watched the wild woman run out the door. He was fine, just hungry!
Somehow we missed 2002. This is 2003, and Nathan is two and a half. It is not the most flattering photo, but I love it. We were living in Fremont, CA and I was pregnant with Benjamin and look like I have an Easter egg for a belly! I had some complications requiring a lot of bed rest, so this was a rare fun treat to go out as a family and celebrate.
Easter 2006, back in the USA! One or all of us were sick, I think a single photo on the lawn was all we could manage!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Oh dear, I thought, as I scrambled to remember what we'd given him in the past few years that was worthy of being called the Very Best.
I love to give gifts. I love it when I see something that is just perfect for someone, and when they open it I love the look of delight on their face. I'm a good listener, and I remember the little details to save away for later. Many years ago my mother-in-law told me about these violet candies she ate as a child, and what a huge treat they were. A year or two after our conversation I was at a vintage candy store and saw the candies she had been talking about, and promptly bought a package. When I later presented them to her, it was like watching her get on board a time machine back to the days of her youth as she savored her treat. She is probably my favorite person to give gifts to, because she forgets that she has told me all these things and thinks I'm a mind reader!
Unfortunately with the economy being what it is and job security being tenuous at best, we have reined in our spending to the point that our previous generosity for things like wedding gifts, baby shower presents, and birthday giving has been scaled back substantially. This is tough. Especially since we have apparently acquired a reputation as stellar gift givers!
So what to do about our weekend birthday party? One of my Northern California friends recently blogged about these tees she made for a birthday party, and I decided to give it a try. While I was at it, I made a couple for my kids as well. We also picked up a cool glow-in-the-dark dinosaur puzzle and some dinosaur ink stamps to go along with the theme. So I didn't invest very much money into the gift, but instead gave my time. Which is good for everyone, especially my own kids who got to sit and watch all the steps of construction along the way. Quite impressed with the end results, they are now busy sketching out designs for making their own. So far, their favorite design is toast. Seriously. A piece of toast, on a tee shirt. So just in case toast on tees becomes the latest fashion fad, remember you heard it here first!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
We finished the big day with a big bang! Several actually! We watched the fireworks display before slipping out and heading home.
Happy birthday Grandma! We love you so much!