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Showing posts from March, 2011

Seeing Eye to Eye

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It's finally happened. Nathan is as tall as his Grandma Chase. He's been just a hair under five feet tall, and when he finally crossed the line, he had to call her up and brag. I would have reprimanded him for being rude, but he was so full of delight at finally catching up to one of the adults in his life that I couldn't help but giggle. Sorry Grandma. But you do still have three grand kids that are shorter than you! For now anyway!

For the Birds

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When I was about 7, my Grandpa Rose let me go in his workshop and make a wooden journal cover. I got to cut, drill, and stain the wood. You could add regular lined binder paper to fill it up, and I remember it was my first "diary" of sorts. It's also my only clear memory of my Grandfather, who passed away shortly after. My father takes after his father, and has a workshop filled with woodworking tools as well. I really wanted my boys to have a memory of building something with their Grandpa. When we were up at his house recently, my Dad took each boy into the workshop and let them design and build their own birdhouses using some of his scrap lumber.
 
I love how my Dad let each of them make their own designs, while at the same time giving them a lesson in angles and tool safety. My first thought was to bundle these up and keep them safe forever. But lately I've realized I have way too many things in boxes that never get to be used or enjoyed. What am I saving the…

A birthday for Chris

If you google "Happy Birthday Chris," this blog comes up first. I'm not kidding. You'll get an image of the word Chris, surrounded by french fries. Go ahead and do it, I'll wait.

See? Weird, right? That post from two years ago gets about 30 hits per day, every single day. I guess people are just drawn to the name Chris written in ketchup! I just feel bad for all the poor Chrises out there who are getting that image posted to their facebook pages on their birthdays...

Here we are again, another year, another birthday for our adopted "son" Chris. This is his first birthday as a father. We don't get to celebrate it with him, since he's down in San Diego and we're too broke to make the trip down. So instead, his brother Tommy came over and we baked a cake and made a little video for Chris. The cake was good. We're sad Chris didn't get to sample it!

Happy birthday anyway, Chris! Here's your video:


Welcome Spring!

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The first day of Spring has brought rain, rain, and just a little more rain. We have a loose tradition of inviting friends and family over and welcoming Spring with a vernal bar-b-que, but there was no way I was going to suggest Michael go stand in the pouring rain and thunder just so we could eat some grilled chicken. So this year, I used the Duchess and put together spicy White Lightning Chicken Chili. Because when it's chilly and miserable outside, it's nice to have something hot and spicy inside!

I have to admit that when I woke up this morning to dark clouds, pouring rain, thunder and lightning, and even a quick blackout, I felt a bit grumbly. We live in Los Angeles! We're supposed to have beautiful weather, year round! That's why we pay so much in rent, right? And this afternoon I had to drive up the 405 freeway in such intense rain that no one could go over 10 mph because the visibility was so poor. The sound of the rain was so loud! Again, I felt grumbly. While…

Japan Stories, Entry 2

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In 2001, my husband Michael and I put everything we owned into storage and moved to Japan for just shy of a year with our newborn baby, Nathan. Since this happened before the age of blogging, my records of that time consist of emails I sent to the few people we knew who had email, and the journal entries I kept. In light of the recent events in Japan, my thoughts naturally turn to our precious time in that country. For the next month I'll be posting various highlights of our time there. Thanks for coming along with me on this international stroll down memory lane!

In Michael's words:

Sent: Mon 2/19/2001 3:23 AM

Subject: Yes we made it OK

All,

Just a quick note to let you all know we are alive and well!

Nathan was wonderful on the flight and didn't scream once! Just about 1 minute of fussy-ness. All my coworkers who were on the same flight were disappointed that they didn't get a chance to hold him. They kept checking to see if he was crying so they could take him for a walk.…

Mr. Wonderful

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When I titled this blog Boy Wonder, it wasn't because I thought my boys were so wonderful. It was more about seeing the wonder of life through their eyes. Although they are pretty wonderful. And they come by it honestly because the truth is, I married Mr. Wonderful. 

And if you don't believe me, then I'll point you to an interview published today on EntertainmentDesigner.com which features my husband and our company, Cedar Stage Productions. Oh sure, the interview is great, but my favorite parts are where he points out that he takes the kids to school every day and that he got the inspiration for a project from doing the laundry. Yes, it's true. My man is a world class Technical Director, and he also does the laundry and takes the kids to school. Good thing he doesn't mention how he also does the dishes... wouldn't want you to be totally green with envy!

Head on over to EntertainmentDesigner.com and read the article by clicking HERE!

Happy Green Day!

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It's my second favorite day of the year! So much of my very favorite color everywhere you look! We really don't do anything to celebrate St. Patrick's Day other than wear a lot of green and wish my cousin Josh (currently living in Scotland) a Happy Birthday. Oh, and watch this funny version of Danny Boy by the Muppets. Enjoy!

Loopy

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With the economy being what it is (unpredictable/depressing/frightening), and my husband's job suddenly and unexpectedly being cut back to almost nothing, we've really had to tighten our belts. As I've mentioned before, we are aggressively trying to work our way out of debt (we've paid off 47%! Yay us!), so thankfully we are already in the habit of trying not to spend. I hate to use the dreaded F-word, but I'm really trying to figure out how we can be more Frugal (What? You were thinking of a different F-word?).
  I'm almost embarrassed to say it, but I've joined the coupon brigade. I've always dreaded this, as clipping coupons seemed to me a slight waste of time and money. Especially since we typically don't eat a lot of prepackaged, prepared foods that coupons typically hype. I may hate cooking, but four out of four Chases agree that my homemade lasagna tastes way better than the Stouffer's version.

However, after coming across a few blo…

Japan Stories, Entry 1

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In 2001, my husband Michael and I put everything we owned into storage and moved to Japan for just shy of a year with our newborn baby, Nathan. Since this happened before the age of blogging, my records of that time consist of emails I sent to the few people we knew who had email, and the journal entries I kept. In light of the recent events in Japan, my thoughts naturally turn to our precious time in that country. For the next month I'll be posting various highlights of our time there. Thanks for coming along with me on this international stroll down memory lane!

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start... How about we start with how we ended up in Japan to begin with?

In early 1999, Michael started working on what was to be Disney's newest theme park, Tokyo DisneySea. It was a second park for Tokyo, built to compliment Tokyo Disneyland and satisfy the insatiable desire for more Disney magic from the Japanese fans. When Michael took the job as an assis…

Peeps!

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There are two kinds of people in this world...

People who love Peeps, and people who don't.

My Dad and I? We LOVE Peeps.

My Husband? He most decidedly does NOT.

My kids? Well, I just don't know. I'm not a very good sharer, at least when it comes to Peeps, so they haven't really sampled them (probably better that way, being 100% sugar and all).

My Dad and I love our Peeps the same way... unwrapped for a week until the sugar has become a stale crust and it makes a grinding sound on your teeth when you chew it up, and the marshmallow is more like saltwater taffy than fluffy marshmallow. Yum!

I saw these little plush Peeps in the store last weekend, and texted this sweet pic to my Dad.


On his cell phone, he thought they were just oversized Peeps and desperately wanted to know how he could get his hands on some! They had the little plush ducky Peeps too. Benjamin, who loves every fluffy small plush creature on planet Earth, wanted these so badly! Alas, at $6.99, they had to stay…

Thoughts on Japan

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So relieved to report that we've heard from every last one of our friends in Japan! Yesterday was a terrible day for me emotionally, on top of which I'm sick and have been sick all week long. I finally dragged myself into urgent care last night (more accurately is that my husband force me to go) only to find that I've yet another sinus infection.

While the doctor examined me, her cell phone, which was on vibrate, keeping going off. She apologized profusely and said it was her family in India, all calling about the earthquake and expected tsunami in California. She said they didn't quite understand that she was in no danger - it was really the people of Japan they should be worried about. I mentioned that we'd lived in Japan and still hadn't heard from our friends. She asked if I was worried. My answer was to start crying. Which is a somewhat painful thing to do when one has a sinus infection.



Throughout the night, my email inbox filled up with messages from our …

Earthquake, Heartbreak

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We are in shock over the news from Japan today. We have reached out to contact our friends there and received no response yet. We live right on the coastline of southern California and they closed off our beaches for fear of a tsunami, due to hit here within the next 20 minutes or so. They're only predicting a maximum of a three foot tall wave, so aside from any boats in the harbor, we won't really see any damage. Reports from Hawaii are good so far. But the reports from Japan? The video below is heartbreaking. Hard to believe it is real, and not some CGI footage from a movie about the end of the world. Seeing structures in flames, moving across fields, and cars racing down the roads trying to outrun the onslaught of debris and water are unforgettable images. We're all so fragile, aren't we?

Developmental Discontinuity

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I've always purchased shoes for the boys that don't have laces. They either had Velcro closures or slipped on without the use of laces. Our favorites are the Merrell Jungle Mocs, which just slip on and and last until the boys grow out of them. Since we take our shoes off in our house (habit borne of living in Asian countries), it's always been so much easier to have shoes the kids can put on and take off quickly and easily and most of all, without my help.

A year or so ago, Benjamin got a pair of shoes that had laces. I can't remember where they came from... either my parents bought them or someone gave them to him. All I know is that I did not buy them. But Ben loved them! I think the novelty of being able to tie laces was a ton of fun for him. I didn't teach him how, he just figured it out on his own, a fact which he was happy to tell anyone who listened.

This week our friend got new shoes for the boys. Benjamin had been asking for a new pair with laces and he was…

I Heart Monkeys

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When I was a kid, I was obsessed with monkeys.


I had a plush monkey collection that could completely fill a black Hefty trash bag to the very top. I know this, because I once toted the entire collection to school for show-and-tell. The teacher told me I had to pick just my favorite to show everyone, but each time I pulled out a new monkey, that one was my favorite. So I managed to show them all by saying, "oh wait! This one is my favorite!"


From kindergarten to about fourth grade, I ran track for a local team that practiced and held meets at Moorpark College. Do you know why I loved going to track practice? Well, just above the track, Moorpark College has a Zoo. It's a teaching zoo for The Exotic Animal Training and Management Program. Bet you can't guess what kind of Exotic Animals they had there? That's right, monkeys. Three times a week I got to peer through the bars and commune with the monkeys. I wanted one for my very own. My parents, being practical, took me…

Iconoclast

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I picked up comic book-sized drawing tablets with thick paper at the local Japanese market, Marukai. Originally, I just got one for Nathan, since he's on a comic kick and there are loose papers all over the house covered in his sketches. I wanted him to have a single place to do all his drawings, and what could be better than a tablet especially created for manga for my comic loving boy? But considering the price (98 cents), I figured Benjamin would appreciate one as well.

Picking up the living room after the boys were in bed, I came across Ben's tablet and flipped through it. Like the excellent student that he is (he's so different from the other 3/4ths of the Chase family!) he's used his tablet to create a homework reminder guide, telling him that he has to do spelling on Mondays, math on Tuesdays, etc. And then I came to this page:



I was puzzled. Ben is 7 and in the second grade, and his spelling words are things like Circle, Doubt, and a bonus word, President. I …