Showing posts from 2010

Handmade Christmas Ornaments

For the last several years, I've made a series of handmade ornaments to give as gifts. Did I make any for us to keep? Sadly, no. Maybe this next Christmas I will. Every year the recipients change, although at this point, everyone in my husband's family has received one. The only person with a complete collection would be our old next door neighbors. They are just so much fun to give handmade gifts to!

In 2008, I made these quilted style ball ornaments: I was inspired by one my Grandmother Rose had made when I was a little girl. This is the one we gave our next door neighbor. We had several newlywed and newly engaged friends, so I made pairs of these with coordinating fabric for their Christmas gifts. I also gave them to my mother and father-in-law and my husband's brother and his wife, and Auntie Holly. All the "local" members of the Chase family.
In 2009, everywhere I looked I saw gingerbread man decorations. So, I made these:
 The pair on the top went to our nex…

30 year gap

December, 1980:

December, 2010:
Still as cute as ever, my little brother and I.

25, again

This year I celebrated turning 25 for the 11th time! Hooray for birthdays!

My husband started a tradition of having a birthday breakfast on my actual birthday, Christmas Eve. No one can ever come to a regular birthday party or a dinner on my birthday, but we always manage to find a few people who can join us for a yummy breakfast complete with cake. It's always different people every year, since Christmas Eve isn't a work holiday for most people. We've been doing this since I turned 25 the first time! Actually, that was the very first birthday party that I've ever had in my life, thrown as a surprise by my husband. Christmas Eve is not a very good birthday to have if you're the type of person who likes to celebrate it with a lot of people!

This year we went to King's Hawaiian Bakery and Restaurant, which serves the very best breakfasts on Earth. Go ahead, you can ask the twenty-something people who showed up and ate breakfast there with me:

And then there was cak…


I'm thankful for my three babies...
My baby brother Marty, my baby Nathan, and my baby Ben. None of which resemble babies in the least! We went to my Mom and Dad's house for Thanksgiving, and my brother showed up for a little bit. My boys adore Uncle Marty! I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual, based solely on how my bro lights up when he sees them!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Double Digits

We've got a ten year old in the house. It's a bizarre feeling, having been a parent for a decade. I mean, I can't possibly be old enough to have given birth ten years ago, right? That's just crazy. But enough about me.

This has been an incredibly difficult year for my oldest son, Nathan. Our whole family is struggling as we figure out new territory that none of us are really ready for. Although, truth be told, Nathan has been incredibly difficult since the moment he was conceived. My pregnancy was filled with nine months of daily (if not hourly) vomiting, necessitating many hospital visits to get hooked up to an IV to rehydrate. My labor was 40 hours of excruciating pain (he was sunny-side up, causing misery that not even an epidural could touch), followed by a C-section. Certainly not anyone's dream first pregnancy and delivery. But there he was, almost ten pounds of beautiful, bouncing, blond-haired, blue-eyed baby boy, and I was instantly smitten. He was, and is…

Debt Free Christmas Shopping!

I had to share this very old (but more relevant than ever) Saturday Night Live clip.

We're still working our way out of debt around here in the Chase household, and we're happy to report that in the last two years, we haven't bought a single thing we haven't saved up for first! And if you are keeping track, as of last month we've paid off 45% of our substantial debt since February of last year. We've had lots of setbacks recently... expensive car repairs, a move, a new computer to replace one that went belly up, a few weeks of unemployment between gigs... but thanks to putting a chunk of income into savings, these things were just potholes in the road rather than brick wall events we couldn't recover from. We weren't even tempted to start using the credit cards again. Of course, that meant that the rate we were going to get out of debt slowed dramatically, but at least we didn't put ourselves further in debt. I'd call that success! We'll see…

Car Waffles

My husband is a breakfast evangelist. Which means that when he's not telling people about the benefits of eating breakfast, he's either eating it himself or making it for others. If he doesn't have breakfast, he becomes faint and headache-y. Me on the other hand, I can take it or leave it. But I only take it when someone else is making it. I'm not a morning person, and if I had a choice of taking 15 minutes to make and eat breakfast or spending those 15 minutes in my luxurious bed, snoozing... well, bring on the Zzzz's. In addition to that, my stomach is rarely ready to have anything to digest before 10:00 a.m. Of all my body parts, brain included, my stomach definitely takes the longest to wake up.

When we had kids, my lifestyle choice of not consuming breakfast was put in jeopardy. Because children have to eat. At regular intervals. You've got to feed them, even if you just fed them an hour ago. They insist on it. If you don't feed them, they complain, bot…

NaNoWriMo, Year 2

Oh yeah baby!  It's that time of year again! Welcome to National Novel Writing Month! That time of year when a bunch of lunatics write 50,000 words in 30 days, just for the fun of it! I did it last year with great success as you may recall. This year... well, we'll see. I have a lot more on my plate.

I'm taking that Japanese class (doing great, just got test #3 back with a grade of 97%!), and I'm also working on a huge show that opens in December which means I'm in rehearsals almost every night of the week during November. My time is limited. But I refuse to complain, as I'm doing everything I love: learning a foreign language, writing, and working on a show. I'll save the complaints for when my time is limited because my schedule is filled with things I despise, like doing taxes and running mindless errands. Life is good!

Day one stats: 1,721 words down, 48,279 to go!

Lite Brite

Remember playing with Lite Brites? As I kid, I got my cousin's hand-me-down version and remember playing with it for many hours, holed up in a dark room to get the full effect of my designs. I've noticed that they seem to be coming back in vogue this year, with lots of new products out there in time for Christmas.

I've been considering getting one for the boys. I'm a huge fan of toys that let the kids use their imagination to create (we've got millions of Lego Bricks, and it's still on the top of the wish list, five years in a row). Of course, the video below is swaying me to hurry up and get one... look at the creativity involved!

Nathan is saving up for a Flip Camera for his birthday (Gasp! In 18 days we'll be entering double digits! Help!) so he can make videos. I can see him making something similar to this (although on a much smaller scale of course!). Enjoy!

Blank Slate

When we moved, we sold our black leather IKEA couch which had been with us for 10 years. We really want to get new living room furniture. While we save up for what we want, we've been making do with our cloth KLIPPAN sofa, which (as you can guess with a name like that) is also from IKEA.

Besides the price, the best thing about the sofa would be the dozens of different available covers you can switch out whenever you get bored. Or when you have two messy boys and have sold your boy-dirt repelling leather couch. The bad part is that each cover costs $50. When we got the sofa about five years ago, we bought a bright red cover. Since then, I always check the AS-IS bins to see if there's a cover. I've scored twice, finding covers marked down to the bargain price of $1.99. Yes please! One of the spares is black, and the other is a fluffy cream color, made of fabric you would normally make a teddy bear out of, or use for the trim on Santa's suit. It was so ridiculous that I ju…

Stomp your feet

My oft-repeated refrain to my children: Have you ever gotten anything you wanted by yelling at me about it?
The consistent answer from the children: No.
But it never stops them from trying.
One day it will stop, right?
(Please say yes).


Whoa, time is flying. We have so many things going on that there's no time to write about them. But I feel the need to take a moment and reflect on my little back-to-school experience of taking four units of Japanese at the local community college (Nihongo = Japanese Language). I think this is the most amazing thing I could possibly be doing right now. It is nothing like the rest of my life. Much of life involves simply doing the same things over and over. Take making dinner for instance. You choose the recipe, shop for the groceries, do the prep work, pop it in the oven, set the table, and then everyone sits down to eat and the meal is history. And unless it gives you a stomach ache, there's nothing tangible to hang onto proving you did all that work. And the very next day you have to get up and do the same thing. No matter how hard you work on tonight's dinner, you'll still have to make another one tomorrow.

Even career related things fall into a pattern and become r…


Two years ago I wrote about our 9/11 experience.

It was not far from our minds, even though we spent the day at Disneyland. We really wanted to do something as a family to mark the end of the first week of school and the fact that Michael is back to working more manageable hours (meaning 10 hours a day or less). As we walked into Disneyland, we caught sight of the flagpole at the beginning of Main Street, with the U.S. flag at half mast.

On Main Street, the Celebrate Today parade was passing by. All the Disney characters dance and sing about all the many things that we have to celebrate, like birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, etc. It was jarring to see the symbol of a nation remembering a terrible day while listening to such high energy, upbeat music pounding in our ears. It doesn't feel like a day for celebrating, but it was good to find things to be excited about, such as the really short lines, bumping into Naveen Andrews (Sayid from LOST), and not having to be home to wat…

The Annual Return

And they're off! A new school  for a brand new school year! I've been a bundle of nerves, worrying about how they'll adjust to this school and all new friends. What I forget is that thanks to my Mom's job, almost every September up until high school I went to a different school. All new friends, all new classrooms, all new teachers. And it taught me to make friends easily and be confident, resilient, and comfortable walking into just about any situation. Why wouldn't I want the same for my kids? Maybe because I just want them to gain wisdom and experience without having to go through any of the pain that normally comes with it! This year the boys are responsible for making their own school lunches. I have to say, that was a wise decision on my part, as making lunch for them has always been the most painful part of my mornings!

Back to School

Today was the first day of school. But not for the boys... for me!
The traditional first day of school shot that I do each year for the boys!
After 13 years of being out of college, I went back. But before you get too excited, please note that I'm only taking one class, four units of Japanese. I'll be going three days a week, during the day when the boys are in school. This week I've really been able to empathize with working/single parents who have to find some place to send the kids while they are at work (or school), since my kids are still on Summer Break. 
Today the boys got to hang with my in laws. Wednesday, my husband will stay home from work while I'm in class. Friday, my parents will have them for the weekend. Monday is a holiday, and then they start school on Wednesday when I go back to class as well. Whew! I never take for granted the fact that I get to be home with my kids and can completely work around them. I can do my job at 2:00 am in my pajamas from my h…


My husband has been out of the country for work this week. To distract the boys (and me!) from missing their dad, I've been planning lots of little fun things, like days at Disneyland, trips to Toys R Us so they can spend their money, and having lots of friends over. Today my house was filled with boys between ages 7 and 10. They spent most of their time laughing themselves silly by saying the names of various bodily functions and eating everything in my house. I sat in another room with my feet up, reading a book and enjoying the sounds of laughter and frivolity (even if it was borderline disgusting). I had a smile on my face, thinking about how great this life is, even though I'm missing my husband terribly.

 After the friends went home, I took the boys to Trader Joe's to restock the now-empty fridge and pantry. Benjamin had a little Lego mini fig with him, and he was making the little man jump off the shelves and into the cart. It was getting annoying as he'd throw h…

Thoughts on Pluto and Size

Four years ago on this very day, a group of 424 astronomers sat down and voted on the definition of a planet.
By the new definition, Pluto didn't make the cut. Goodbye planet Pluto, and any number of mnemonics that helped us all learn the order of the planets when we were in grade school. 
I remember discussing this at the dinner table with my husband. We thought it was hilarious. We made jokes to each other while the kids (then ages 5 and 3) ate dinner. We thought of the poor kids of the future who will never know the ending to "My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine..."  They'll be scratching their heads, wondering just how Excellent a Mother she could possibly be for just trailing off like that, leaving them with nothing!
Much later that night I was peacefully asleep, facing the side of the bed, when I was startled awake. Nathan was standing there staring at me with wide eyes, tears streaming down his face.
I sat up and grabbed him, concerned because Nathan has n…

July 17th

Sure, we're already a month past July 17th, but I wanted to point out a few things that happened that day.

First, Disneyland turned 55 years old.

Second, this here little Boy Wonder blog turned two years old.

And third, the Chase Family pulled up its roots and moved.

We lived in our old rental house for four years and two months. This beats our previous record from up in the San Francisco Bay Area where we lived for 23 months. In fourteen years of marriage, we've moved twelve times. It was nice to stay put for awhile, but unfortunately, things weren't going so great there. We've had major problems with the house, and when the owner became ill and could no longer manage those problems, she passed the house off to a property management company.
The property management company took a look at the house and fixed only the biggest of the laundry list of problems. Despite months of gently prodding them to come fix the rest of the things, nothing was happening. Well, that's …

Someone just turned...

In honor of the big day, here's They Might Be Giants singing a family favorite: Seven! I have to warn you that this song is highly addictive, so you can't blame me if you go around singing "We want cake! Where's our cake?" all day long!


First Day of School:

Last Day of School: Nathan grew 2 inches this school year. Benjamin grew 1.5 inches this school year.
If you really want to see how much they've grown, compare it to last year's Bookends post. Why do they insist on growing up? Where is the pause button?
Summer vacation starts in four hours!

5,110 Days

624 Weeks. 168 Months. 14 Years.
All of them married to the same great guy, Michael Chase. I don't feel like I'm anywhere close to being old enough to claim 14 years of marriage, but after last year's mix up, I double checked. 14 years, sure enough.
But look at the photo above, where we are brand new newlyweds. Then look at the photo below, taken right before we left for our anniversary night on the town.
Barely recognizable as the same two people!  Looks like fourteen years have passed to me!
The only thing that hasn't changed is our love for each other. In the last fourteen years, our hearts have broken as we've been witness to the carnage of the broken marriages of our family and friends. We've never said that could never happen to us, because we've seen firsthand that it can happen to anyone. We've worked incredibly hard to keep our relationship a priority, even through multiple international moves that have stressed us to the breaking point, impossible w…

Best Day Ever

Happy Father's Day to the father of my beautiful boys! I remember vividly how I told Michael he was going to be a dad. It was early 2000, and my husband was a Star Wars maniac. He was drawing me to the dark side, forcing me to become a fangirl myself. I'd saved up and then secretly pre-purchased the first Star Wars Trilogy (episodes IV, V, & VI) on VHS which was going to be distributed close to Valentine’s Day. It was a big deal, the first time George Lucas put it out there for people to own. It cost a fortune as I recall (which makes me giggle, you can't even buy VHS anymore!). I put the receipt and claim ticket in a sealed envelope, wrote Top Secret on it, and stuck it to the fridge. I showed it to him and said it was there to be opened when he had the WORST DAY EVER. As the weeks passed, he had a few bad days, but none he'd classify as the worst.
We'd been married for almost four years, and I'd known from the time we started dating there was a good chance…

Party of 11 1/2

So guess who showed up on my doorstep this afternoon?
It's Chris! We haven't seen him in 18 months, and yes, I started crying when I saw him. He's finished up his 2+ years of Navy training, and now he's been assigned to the Naval Base in San Diego. Hopefully he'll be here until after the birth of Chris and Alyssa's son, due in August. The last few days they've been driving cross country from Connecticut to California, crossing the State border this morning. We're all so happy that they are here on the West Coast! Hooray!

To celebrate having them back in arm's reach, our family and Alyssa's family all went out for dinner. Chris requested Mexican food and guacamole, and we were happy to oblige! Welcome back to California, Chris and Alyssa! Left to Right: Heather, Michael, Tommy, Chris, Alyssa, Tahnee, Sandra, Peter, Aaron. The kiddos in the front are Benjamin and Nathan.

Family Ties

I lost my first Grandparent, my Dad's father, when I was in the third grade. It was a devastating experience in many ways. I'd never been exposed to death or dying before that. It was very difficult to see my family, a very jovial bunch of people, deeply grieving. The funeral itself was a nightmare, as all the family members except my brother and I sat in a separate section to the side, evidently to provide some privacy. My brother and I sat in the back of the packed church with my Mom's parents, where we cried and wailed, both for the loss of our grandfather and the unexplained (to our satisfaction) separation from our parents.

When Nathan started third grade this year, I unexpectedly spent the day on the verge of tears. On the surface, it was an absolutely ridiculous reaction. Third grade is hardly a milestone year. But I couldn't shake the deep sorrow that enveloped me. The truth was that I was scared of history repeating itself and of my own son losing a grandparen…