Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful

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!

Friday, November 19, 2010

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, a child of extremes. Everything is bigger and louder when he's around. His lows are so low that everyone wants to cry right along with him. And his highs are so high that he can completely change the mood of a room filled with people just by entering it. Many times I've wondered if I was going to make it another year (or week, or sometimes hour) being Nathan's Mom. How am I going to make it, I've asked myself more times than I can count. And yet, here we are with ten years of experience in parenting Nathan. Nate the Great. The Nathan-ator. Natorade. The boys with a million names. Who I'm still very much smitten with. We're all better for having him around, despite recent struggles. And we've all grown so much. And speaking of growth, take a look at this:


I handed this plate to Nat to take the photo, and he sat there transfixed. I didn't even have to tell him to put his hand next to the imprint of his two week old hand, he did it himself, with awe. Nathan's hands are almost as big as mine. His feet are the same size. He wants to wear my Doc Martens. I'm not willing to share $100+ footwear with the boy who likes to scuff his shoes for fun. And he's half an inch shy of 5' tall. Wow.

For his birthday, we got him a Flip video camera. He saved up half the money, used his birthday money from the Grandparents and Auntie Holly, and then we paid for the rest. He's made hours and hours of video clips. It's so interesting to play them back and see from his point of view the things that are interesting to him. He likes to set up his tripod and film himself playing video games, narrating what he's doing for the audience, giving tips and tricks on how to navigate the different levels of Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. Or chasing his brother through the house, screaming like a monkey:


Ah yes, cinema gold! Good thing the Flip camera is a sturdy thing with no moving parts!

Also, for his birthday, we got tickets for Michael and Nathan to go see a Kings game at the Staples Center. We are not an athletic family. We don't play sports, or even watch sports. But Nathan has somehow become a fan of ice hockey. So tickets for Nat and his Dad to go see a game together ended up being a great gift, even if the Kings lost.

During the month of November we happened to be in Anaheim near the place that we lived while I was pregnant and where we brought him home from the hospital after he was born. We drove around until we found it, and then took a photo of him.


It was a little two bedroom + loft townhouse, and not much to look at, but it is the place where we went from being husband and wife to being a family. Nathan only lived there for ten weeks, and then we all jumped on a plane and moved to Japan. But he said he was pretty sure he remembered living here. Funny kid.

Happy Birthday, Nathan! You are the light of my life and the spice in my spice cake. Life would be dull without you. Quite dull indeed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

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 how we weather Christmas. I'm seeing lots of handmade gifts in the immediate forecast...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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, both with their words and their terrible attitudes that come from being hungry and cranky. So I had to set aside my breakfast reluctance and at least pull something out for the kids.

From an early age, they could tell the difference between a Daddy breakfast and a Mommy breakfast. Daddy makes fluffy pancakes, perfect French toast, scrambled eggs with pepper jack cheese and lemon pepper, and crisp bacon. Mommy points to the pantry and says, "the cereal is in there, don't spill the milk."

Because my husband is not only a breakfast person, but also very much a morning person, he always leaves plenty of time to get up, get dressed, gently wake the children and supervise their morning routine, make breakfast, and cheerfully get them out the door to school. However, when he's not around and the task falls to me, it's a much more hectic and crazy experience. I stumble out of bed, lurching down the hall like Frankenstein, one (or both) eyes still closed, growling at the children like a zombie cheerleader as I go, "Let's go let's go let's go let's go."

On those crazy mornings, there never seems to be time for breakfast. As I forcefully shove the kids out the door, they cry but we haven't had breakfast! We'll starve! Tired of hearing this refrain, I invented Car Waffles. While they get themselves buckled in the car, I pop a couple of Eggo Waffles in the toaster. When toasted, I wrap them in a paper towel, rush out the door, and present them to the boys, to eat in the car on the way to school. At first, it was exciting and fun... oooh Car Waffles! How exotic! But then Daddy ruined this fun by actually making them waffles at home one morning. His were dripping with melted butter and bathed in golden syrup. Much more appealing than a waffle wrapped in a paper towel. So the next time I went to make Car Waffles, there were groans and grumbles of protest... we want syrup! And a plate!

Grrrrr, if you want breakfast, this is what you get said the anti-morning Mommy cheerleader zombie.

So what did I do to close the ever widening gap between how awesome Daddy is in the morning and how, um... not awesome Mommy is? Well, I taught them to use the toaster themselves. Now when Daddy isn't here in the morning to give them the positive morning experience that every child deserves, they bound out of bed and race to the kitchen to be the first one to pop their Eggo's into the toaster. I still lunge stiffly down the hall, gruffly instructing them to brush teeth and grab sweaters, but at least breakfast isn't the sore point it used to be. And instead of feeling bad that I'm not the warm and fuzzy Mommy who makes sure the kids have a well rounded breakfast to start their day, I'm feeling good that I'm teaching them self reliance and how to meet some of their own needs. Yeah, yeah, self reliance, that sounds good.

Oh look, it's almost 10:00 a.m. Time for me to eat something and clean up the syrup the boys spilled all over the table when they made their waffles this morning. Small price for breakfast peace, I say.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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!