Showing posts from June, 2011


Every time we move, I tend to fill up a box or two with framed photos that never get unpacked. I generally choose new photos to frame and put up in the new digs. There are a few that always get unpacked, like our wedding photo and my trio of photos with me and my babies (baby Nathan, baby Benjamin, and my baby brother). But for the most part, I've ended up with several boxes of framed photographs that move from house to house with us. Instead of moving them as is and paying to keep them in storage, I'm going through them and pulling out the pics to save, and setting aside the frames to give away.  During this boring and nail-breaking task, I came across this photo that was in the entryway of our last house.

I always make a little squealing noise when I see it. Of all the many photos of Michael with his boys, this is my favorite. Look at those tiny boys, aged 4 and 2! Look at Ben's curls! Look at all those baby teeth in their smiles! Look at my handsome husband (without a si…

72 Days Without Michael: Day 70

It's funny how the last week before Michael comes home is almost as hard as the week he left. I'm so over this stupid separation!

True story: in high school, I lived right next to an Army base, Ft. Hunter Liggett, in a very small town called Lockwood. When I moved in, the Population sign read 123. When I visited there last summer, it was somewhere in the 400's. Most of my classmates had lived there from birth. I was the new girl, who had lived in the Los Angeles area right up until that first day of high school. Most of my girlfriends there had aspirations of marrying one of the guys on the Army base so they could move away from that little town. I personally vowed to never even look at the Army guys because I knew that I could get in my little red pickup and leave town any time I wanted without being tied to some guy or the military. And besides, I had no interest in moving every two years, always being away from my husband, and being dragged all over the planet. The joke …

When Heather Met Michael

I was 19 and in my second year of college. I'd just gone through a ridiculously painful breakup where the guy didn't just break up with me, he moved out of state and gave me no way to get ahold of him. Having always been the person doing the breaking up, this was a devastating blow. I did a bit of rebound dating thanks to friends who were happy to set me up with friends of their boyfriends. It was the fall semester and I was the stage manager for a show at school. They'd brought in a paid lighting designer (someone already out of school) and the director was beyond excited to introduce us. But before introductions could be made, everyone involved in the production gathered to take this photo.

After everyone went back into rehearsal or off to class, the director introduced me to the lighting designer. Right there, on those steps, in front of that theater. The lighting designer, as you may have guessed, was none other than Michael Chase.

I was not impressed.

He seemed a littl…

Happy Father's Day!

What a strange Father's Day! This year, Michael is in Macau away from his family, and my boys are up staying with my own Dad while I buckle down and work 'round the clock to finish the packing without little kids around, demanding attention since it's now Summer Vacation and they don't know what to do with themselves! But I do get to have dinner with my Father in Law, so at least I get to celebrate with one of the fathers in my life!

I mailed a bunch of Father's Day and Anniversary cards to Michael, but I'm afraid they won't arrive until after he's already back here in the US to collect us. We'll see! There have been plenty of Mother's Days that Michael has been out of town (State, Country), but this is Michael's first Father's Day away from his family. Wednesday is our 15th wedding anniversary, which we will also spend apart. For most of the boys' birthdays, Michael has been out of town. About a year ago I put my foot down and said


First Day of School:
Last Day of School:  Nathan grew 2.5 inches this year and finally overtook his Grandma Chase in height.
Benjamin grew 2.5 inches and on the last day of second grade is as tall as Nathan was on the first day of first grade! He's trying to catch up to his big brother...
Look back at Bookends posts here and here to see the crazy progression of growth in these two young men!

School's Out

I think before you have kids, New Year's Day is a really super important day to you. It's a day to start fresh and have new goals and plans. But once you have school age kids, it seems like New Year's Day loses it's lustre, and is replaced by the September to June school year schedule. September is the time to start fresh, June is the time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future.

Today was a bittersweet day. I'm not going to lie, there were a lot of tears shed.
Benjamin said goodbye to his second grade class, and to being a second grader. He was tearful all morning and again when I picked him up for the final time from school. I wrongfully assumed that his tears were over the fact that he had to say goodbye to everyone. The real reason? He just wished that he had two more weeks of school. I'mnot done learning yet, he cried. He is an amazing student, and his report card showing straight A's for the entire year reflects that. I'm so prou…

The New Star Tours!

Though I frequently poke fun and say it was my husband who forced me into being a Star Wars fan, the truth is the galaxy far, far away was close to my heart from an early age. I was at Disneyland during opening weekend of the original Star Tours way back when I was a kid, though I don't remember the first time I experienced it. The space flight simulator which originally opened in early 1987 has simply always been part of my memory. In fact, I'm one of those annoying people who can recite the entire original spiel (though I always refrain from doing so because I always find it annoying when other people do it). Star Tours has always been a favorite of the boys, its generally short wait a nice counterpoint to the long wait at the nearby Space Mountain coaster attraction.

Disneyland completely renovated Tomorrowland in 1998, and right before it opened to the public, they invited Cast Members to come to a special night at the Park where you could ride Space Mountain with the light…

The research is in.

Thank you, Nathan. We can all rest better at night now!

The Cat's Meow

My husband is terribly allergic to cats. His brother, who lives a mile from our house, has many cats. Michael has only been to his brother's house once, while it was being renovated and the cats were all kept in a single room, off limits to Mike. Uncle Mitch owns every game system there is, and enough video games to stock a small store. Knowing this, the boys have begged for years to go there. But because of the cat situation, it wasn't really possible unless we wanted Michael to have a miserable asthma attack along with his eyes swelling shut. Until now!

With Michael away, Mitch asked if the boys could come play this afternoon. They were so excited! And then Mike and Mitch's sister Holly called up this morning asking if she could take the boys to the Farmer's Market and park. She said she'd deliver them to Mitch's when he got home this afternoon. And then my friend Jenny, who used to live here but then moved up near my parents, called to say she was in town an…

Heavy Baggage

We are allotted two checked bags per person for our flight to Macau. Which means for our family, we can check eight pieces of luggage, plus four carry-ons, plus four personal items. Because our shipment of household goods won't arrive for at least a month after we do, we really need to use our full allotment to bring over whatever we can!

We used to have many more suitcases, but in the past decade pieces have been broken or lent out and never returned. So when Michael returns for us, he'll bring the two empty suitcases he currently has in Macau, and it's up to me to go find six more.
You know what I found out today? My son Benjamin is an excellent suitcase shopper. First he asked me what I was looking for, and then he walked around the store, checking prices and sales. When we narrowed it down to just a couple choices, he unzipped every zipper to make sure they worked, checked wheels, checked the interior lining, and walked them up and down the aisles to check maneuverabil…

72 Days Without Michael: Day 53

Because love is better when expressed in ketchup and surrounded by french fries*.
*Especially if you steal the french fries from a friend's lunch  so you don't have to buy and then be forced to eat your own.

Dinner Bell

Without Michael here, the boys and I have been eating a lot of pasta, crockpot chili, and rice with chicken. Things that are easy to throw together and make the smallest mess possible. It's not as much fun to cook for  just Nathan and Ben. They generally appreciate that their bellies are being filled, but Michael appreciates the time and effort I put into creating a meal. The boys make themselves scrambled eggs and quesadillas (not together) on a daily basis. I can't tell if it's because they are hungry or because they are still enthralled with the idea that they can make their own food. On the stove! With fire!

But there is one thing that they have been begging me to make for months.

Slimy Green Burritos.

When I went away to college, I knew how to make a peanut butter and honey sandwich, toast, french toast, and over-easy eggs which I would eat on toast. I think that's it. I didn't know how to make spaghetti or rice or bake chicken or even brown ground beef. No clu…


  Today was so productive! I've been slowing down, losing speed, getting frustrated, and despairing of ever finishing the enormous task ahead of me. Two things changed that today. First, I went and leased a 10 x 10 foot storage unit. Second, my dear friend Cassi (who should have been my sister if life were fair) came over to help me whip things into shape.

The Storage Unit: I budgeted $100 a month on storage, and I shopped around our town at numerous places, getting tours and looking at dozens of metal rooms to hold our stuff. I ended up going with a place that is walking distance to our current home. Not really a benefit when we're halfway around the world, but great for getting stuff from here to there! For $100, the biggest place I could get was 10 x 10 feet. I know in other areas of the country, that's a horrible price. But this is Los Angeles and it's pretty standard. Walking around in it really helps me visualize how much I've still got to get rid of! We kn…

Smell the Flowers

This entire school year I was under the impression that the last day of school was June 23rd. It's written on every calendar in the house and on my Google Calendar. Imagine my surprise when I found out that school actually gets out on June 16th! I panicked a bit, as I need every spare minute of time without the kids if I'm going to accomplish everything before Michael gets home on June 30th! I called my parents who live about four hours away and volunteered them to take the boys for a week, which they are happy to do. Whew! In the meantime, there are a lot of end-of-the-school-year things going on which frustrate me to no end. Mainly because I get in the groove and I'm making lots of progress, covered in dust, wearing cut-offs and sporting a sloppy bun on my head, and I have to stop, shower, change into something presentable and do hair and makeup. This is when it would be so nice to have a partner around to attend all these little events so I could keep working!

Today Ben…

Companies I Love: LEGO

Nathan and Benjamin's affections for various toys have waxed and waned through the years. The passion they once held for Hot Wheels and Thomas the Tank Engine wooden trains has burned out, leaving indifference at best. The one toy that they have consistently played with and continue to obsess about? Those brightly colored plastic bricks made by LEGO.

They had the big Duplo sets as toddlers, and though I've tried to pass their collection along to families with kids younger than mine, they refuse to let them go.

We took them to Legoland in Carlsbad, California, thanks to Auntie Holly who scored free tickets to the grand opening of a new ride. They loved it. Not necessarily because of the rides:

But because of the many play areas filled with buckets of LEGO Bricks to play with!

When Nathan was four he got his first bucket of the smaller bricks which he played with constantly. I'd scour garage sales and pick up random sets (which I'd wash in the sink with bleach d…

Boys to Men

It's the common complaint of parents and grandparents everywhere: kids just grow up too darn fast. It's more obvious when they are babies and growing out of their clothes faster than you can wash them and put them away. These days my kids aren't sprouting up quite as fast (though I may have to take that back about Nathan, he's grown half an inch in two months), but they are growing up in more subtle ways.
With Nathan, I noticed something new that made my heart squeeze. A little while ago I took the boys to Disneyland on a school night (gasp!). We were all feeling a ton of stress, and when we got there, four of the five rides we specifically wanted to ride were closed or broke down right as we got in line. So, we went to the Castle and watched all the fluffy baby ducks and their mamas waddling around. We stayed there a really long time, close to an hour. All three of us were lost in our own little worlds!
Finally we decided to go over to the other park, Disney California…

72 Days Without Michael: Day 44

It's June! It's finally June! We'll be together again this month!