Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Yesterday at church one of our friends, who is a Marine, wore his dress uniform.  I was so glad that he did.  Not only is a man in uniform a nice thing to look at but it was so nice to be reminded that today is not just a day off of work.

Today we went to Cabrillo National Monument (again). To get there you have to pass through the Naval Base.  There were huge celebrations and ceremonies for today.  There was even a biker gang of veterans directing traffic at the cemetery.

We spent time looking at crabs who hid from us in the tide pools, we collected seashells on the beach (and left them there--it is a National Monument). As we passed by the cemetery on our way home we talked about the lovely view from there and how it was such a nice place to rest. I stole this picture from the internet to give you an idea but there were flags at every grave and the view to the harbor was just so lovely.

Thank you to everyone who serves/has served our country. I am grateful to live where I live and have the freedom and the life that I have.  My other feelings are perhaps summed up best by this quote by Mike Birbiglia

"I love the troops because if they weren't the troops, I would be the troops.  And I would be the worst troops."

This picture is, of course, my own.  As are those two--they are certainly keepers.

**to those of you who have been on pins and needles about Claire and her peanut allergy the verdict seems to be no.  At a dinner on Sunday someone (who didn't know her checkered past) gave her a chocolate-peanut cookie (as I baked said chocolate-peanut cookies I have no one to blame but myself).  She was fine.

***Just to ensure that I'm not one of those people who paints our life out to be nothing but roses and butterflies I will also tell you that we didn't bring Claire's diaper bag on the walking part of the tour and at one point she was in her older-asian-woman squat (while we waited for the hubbs to come back with the car) and one of our friends said, "woah diaper is leaking." I guess when you're wearing really short shorts and you're squatting on the ground and your diaper reaches capacity everyone can see it if you have to go.

The good news is that I had come prepared with an extra set of clothes.  They were in the diaper bag.  With the extra diapers. Awesome.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dear Danny Tanner,

Do you remember this show?

Who am I kidding?  Of course you do. A single dad fighting his way in the world with his 3 daughters.  All with the help of the lovable Uncles Joey and Jesse.  Mann.  I loved Full House. I grew up in a family where my parents had no idea of what TV I watched (which was awesome) and I don't think they would have any idea how much I loved this show.  The, perhaps, more embarrassing thing is that I loved it well into syndication (which if you do the math means I was a 16 year-old who still watched Full House when it came on in the afternoons--right before dinner time). My only consolation is that I watched it with my brother who is 3 years older than I am and he was well into his hippy phase.

Looking back on it, I can't believe that Full House lasted for 8 seasons (for those of you who are curious, it is still syndicated).  One of the tricks they used, which I believe was part of their lasting success, was what they lacked in serious content and good writing they made up for in kids doing funny things.  Remember this face?

I do.  I thought it was hilarious.  At age 8 (okay, ages 8-16), that was brilliant television.

I thought about that yesterday as I posted all of those adorable pictures of Claire.  I thought about it this morning when I snapped a picture of these beauties (in this picture I am holding her hand because she is trying to pull them out.  The piggies lasted....oh...10 minutes).

Sometimes what I lack in serious content and good writing I make up for in pictures of my kid doing funny, adorable things. I don't think I can change that. Maybe I don't want to change that. It worked for Full House right? Have a reasonably good plot line, some mediocre actors, tackle issues that deal with families and you get 8 seasons of television that shaped a generation (that might be a stretch but I dare you to find any girl aged 30-35 who did not have a crush on one of the two uncles).

I'm going to continue to have posts where Claire steals the show (look at those piggies! How could she not?) but I'll also make sure that the characters are lovable, that we tackle some issues, that we have a reasonably good plot line and acting is at least mediocre.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Busy busy bumblebees

We have been very busy.

Busy working in the garden

Busy working at home

Busy going to see the sites (you should all go to Cabrillo National Monument--Mom and Dad we will take you here next time you come visit us. Actually we'll take any of you who want to come and visit)

Busy relaxing with dad

And very busy showing off our intelligence 
(this was in the car--sorry about the terrible cinematography)

Book Club.  I made an executive decision and this month we are reading March.  It's a Pulitzer Prize winner that is written from the perspective of the father of the March girls from Little Women. I'm closing in on the end and I'm liking it but have lots of questions.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Only in Southern California

Today Claire and I walked to the post office to send a package.  As we were walking home we crossed a busy street.  There was a lady waiting for the light to turn with us who had a large lock-box which she had attached to a luggage cart. The crosswalk was in pretty bad shape and as we got right to the end her box tipped over.  I rushed over and asked her if she needed any help.  She waved me away and said she was fine as she hauled the box back onto the luggage cart.

I said, "this road is in terrible shape. It's hard with a stroller too."

She responded, "Yeah, you know, I've got all my legal papers here. I have to bring them with me--don't want the maid to steal them."

Friday, May 20, 2011


A wise sage once said,

"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people and the greatest minds are entertained by putting blocks into a container and dumping them out again."

Good to know.  Good to know.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

And your little dog too

There was once a small girl who was given a pair of red, shiny, second hand shoes.  And she loved them. Every day, in fact, every time she saw them and they were not on her feet she would bring them to her mother so that her mother could put them on her.  When she wore them in her stroller she kicked her feet and laughed and people passing in the street would smile and wave.  People passing in cars would honk, the whole world seemed to take notice of one pair of little red shoes. She hated taking them off--for any reason; naps, beach.  She thought the shiny red shoes were the perfect compliment to every outfit and were the appropriate footwear for all occasions.

And she was right. They were.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Labor

This morning while reading blogs I read a post by Rosie who seems to have lost her muse.  Her thoughts struck me as I've felt for the past few weeks that my silly, everyday posts were so hard to write but even after all the work they still lack inspiration.  Right below Rosie's post, there was a post by Amy with this (stolen directly from her)

To that I would only add a poem by Yeates (it's his week I guess.  Probably all of the rain we're getting in San Diego)

 Adam's Curse

We sat together at one summer's end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, 'A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world.'
And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, 'To be born woman is to know --
Although they do not talk of it at school --
That we must labour to be beautiful.'...     

Labor on dear friends. Labor on.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's that you say? Another blogging award?

Ohhh, you read that right folks.  I was just awarded the Lovely blogger award by Miss K over at Newlyweds On a Budget.  When friends and family give me blogging awards I like to reward them by sharing my best, top-secret recipes.  What's that you say? You want to know how to make our family secret recipe Sourdough pancakes that the Pops made every single Saturday while I was growing up and still makes today? Just give me a blogging award and I'll totally spill the beans.

But this is not a pancake recipe. In honor of Miss K giving me the award, this is a recipe for her.  See, Miss K got married last week and these are the treats we made for her reception.  These are the world's best lemon bars--hands down, no contest.  I've had people ask me to come to parties just so that I will bring these puppies along.

Ina Garten used to be my favorite celebrity chef (ever since the whole debacle where she refused to work with make-a-wish foundation to grant a dying child's wish to cook with her I just can't like her anymore.  I am taking suggestions as to who should be my new favorite celebrity chef (Bobby Flay...I'm wiggling my eyebrows at you and thinking of heading your way..) ).  But Ina is still a great cook and she is the inspiration of these masterpieces.  We've changed a few things from her recipe (mostly the crust to lemon ratio--more lemon, less crust). They are tart and dang it, they taste like lemon. As with most of Garten's recipes these are not good for you--don't kid yourself.  That is exactly why they will not be making an appearance around my house anytime soon (did you know that you can gain 5 lbs in 2 weeks if you're at your family home and there is a wedding taking place?  You can.  Horrifying).  But you should make them at your house.  And you should think of Miss K and her new marriage and wish her the best of luck.

Award Winning Blogger Lemon Bars
For the crust:
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
For the Filling:
  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest(4 to 6 lemons)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.These are best the day after you make them.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Weekend in Photos

At the flower fields in Carlsbad.  Acres and Acres of ranunculus in bloom--kind of like heaven.  Next year we're taking family pictures here.  Oh, and guess who's walking for real now.  I'll have to take a video--it looks a little like a cross between a penguin and Frankenstein. We spend lots of time practicing.

Sunday evening walk at La Jolla Cove. Claire had a hard time understanding why we were close to the beach and not in the water.  She kept pointing at the water and grunting; letting us know what she wanted. One of the great joys of Claire's life is chasing waves. 


And last but not least, this weekend I did something that I do pretty often and every time I do I swear that I will never do it again.  Have you ever looked in the mirror and decided that you can not live with your hair for even 1 more second? That happened this weekend. So I cut it off. By myself. (I didn't realize that when your hair falls out after you have a baby it grows back a couple of months later.  My whole head is covered with a halo of curly hair that's only 3 inches long. It's driving my crazy)

My college roommate Melissa said that cutting your own hair was the last step on a slippery slope that lead to self doctoring and self dentistry. 

She may be right.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Love and Ladies

I am back home in San Diego and grateful to be back to my own little apartment and my own little schedule. 

A couple of days before Mojo and Miss K's wedding I went to the wedding of a dear friend (who is also an x-roommate).  She looked amazing.  Her dress was beautiful.  She glowed. I will refrain from posting the crumby pictures I took of her with my phone because she is a photographer and will post beautiful pictures of herself at some point I'm sure.

I will however post a couple of pictures which were taken at her wedding.  Have you people seen the wedding photo booth?  It prints out two sets of pictures and you keep one and put the other in the couple's wedding book. 

Forever Smash will be able to remember us looking 1) Happy 2) Surprised 3) Envious and 4) Kissy.

Surprised is my favorite non-normal photo face. It's WAY better than "make a silly face," produces funny results and no one is left trying to decide what their "face" should look like.

If you're wondering if we monopolized the photo booth for longer than was recommended and took more pictures than we should have the answer is yes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Club: Little Bee

I finished Little Bee a couple of days ago and lots of ideas from the book have been rolling around in my head. The idea that is the most sensitive right now is the idea of making a difference.  The story is filled with people who are asked to do things for other people which turn out to be life-changing, life-saving or life-ending.

For years I worked for a non-profit organization that did work in developing countries with poor communities.  We helped communities build schools, taught women basic reading, math and business classes. I left the non-profit world with a sour taste in my mouth.  This is partially because I got pushed out of my position when I got pregnant (my boss fired the next girl who got pregnant too--highly illegal, I know, but not worth the fight) and partially because the last couple of months/year of work were marred with shrinking budgets, lots of stress and a boss who, I swear, was taking lessons from Michael Scott.  I don't know that the work we were doing was making a difference.  I was in charge of designing our programs and providing the information for donor reports. I know what we were saying to the people who gave us money and I know what was really happening and those two things were not always the same.  I know what we were trying to do but I question if we were really accomplishing it.

In his poem, In Memory of W. B. Yeates, Auden wrote,

"Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen"

I feel that way about non-profit work (Now, please don't get me wrong I'm not saying that non-profit work shouldn't go on...there are lots of organizations that I love and I show my love with financial support).  I got into non-profit work after living in Ecuador.  I came home and ached for a way to help the people I love.  But seven years later Ecuador has her madness and her poverty still.

One of the things I liked about Little Bee was the way it explored the complex theme of helping people and charity. When Little Bee finds that Andrew has hanged himself she thinks, "Of course I must save him, whatever it costs me, because he is a human being." Recognizing that if she calls the police they will send her back to Nigeria and certain death she then thinks, "Of course I must save myself, because I am a human being too" (Spoiler alert.  She does not save him. p. 194).  Helping other people is hard.  It is often inconvenient and sometimes seems to be in direct opposition to helping ourselves.  I liked that in the book people didn't always help one another and their efforts were sometimes misplaced and even though they thought they were helping other people they were really helping themselves. Sometimes we don't help those who are around us. Sometimes we are not charitable.  Sometimes we do. Sometimes we are.

Esteemed bookclub member Rachel, said, "I really liked "Little Bee" for the narrative voice (particularly in the first 2/3 of the book), but I didn't love the storyline itself. I've found this to be the case with some of the Pulitzer winners as well."  I agree with that.  I loved Little Bee.  I loved Sarah. But I didn't like the story as much as I liked them.

Ok, that's all I got.
What did you think?
And, what book are we going to read next?  Does anyone have a book out there on their night stand that they are dying to finish?

Monday, May 9, 2011

M is for the Many Things She Gave Me

Mother's Day is complicated.  Just like being a mother (or not a mother, or longing to be a mother or really just being a woman and part of society). 

We've had the flu at our house. So my mother's day was spent changing lots of dirty diapers and hoping that I wouldn't be afflicted (fingers crossed. I have yet to succumb to the puking but I do feel a little grumbly in the tumbly). We did venture out of our sick house for a trip to visit the hubbs' mother and family. Driving home Claire started fussing.  I started singing the same songs that my parents sang to me when I was a kid and I reached my arm back to play with her.  She grabbed my finger, held it tight and stopped fussing. I had visions of Claire in high school and boyfriends and all of the amazing and hard things that are coming and I just thought, "hang on. Hang on tight."  And for a moment, singing on the freeway with my little girl holding tight to my finger everything felt right with the world.

It was lovely.

And then she put my finger in her mouth and bit me. Hard.

Turns out she's teething again.

Thank you to all of the women who have mothered me (which includes a remarkable number of women who happen to be my same age). Thank you for steering me through high school, college, boyfriends, lack of boyfriends and the wonderful and hard things that have happened in my life. I am sorry if I ever bit the outreached hand.

I was probably just teething.

My own dear mother in the matching sunglasses she bought us at a street fair

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Utah: Part II

Scenes from the Kitchen:
Scene: My mother is making lemon bars in the kitchen with JGR.  JGR is Claire's cousin (my niece) and she is nearly 2 years old. Claire is napping.

Grandma: What's that?
JGR: A puppy!
Grandma: That's not a puppy, that's the mixer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Utah: Part 1

Little C and I are visiting Utah.  My Lil' Brudder is getting married next week and the hubbs had more traveling to for work this week so we decided to spend a little bit of extra time in Utah getting spoiled by our family before the wedding.  We arrived on Sunday and the hubbs will join us on Friday. 

So far we have:
Moved all of the furniture into the new cabin and spent the night there (this is what the morning sun shining in the windows looks like as you look onto the lake.)

Played in the park with cousins

Tomorrow we are going to Red Butte Gardens with our other cousin (thanks groupon!).  We are certainly enjoying ourselves (but we do miss the hubbs/dad)

 We also miss having our own rooms.  Sharing a room with Claire is a little bit like sharing a room with a truffle searching pig.  Several times a night she cries out and I hear her rummaging around in her crib looking for her pass.  When she finds it she calms right down and you can hear her quiet sucking.  I do love being able to look over and see her little body.  She sleeps with her knees tucked underneath her and she likes to have her head jammed into the corner of the crib.  It's pretty dang darling.  I would love to say something here about how sleeping close to your baby is good for the heart and soul but really I think that we are the kind of people who both sleep better when we have a little space.

****Important Side Note. If any of you have ever considered joining our book club this is the month to do it. I am more than 1/2 way through Lil' Bee and I love it.  It's one of those books that I keep picking up even if I only have 3 minutes to read because I just want to keep going. I am going to do you all a favor and not post my thoughts until Monday.  That gives you 5 days to get your "READ" on.  You will not be sorry.  Go to the library or the bookstore right this minute.  I'm serious.  We'll wait.

Now that you're back. Start reading and send me your thoughts for Monday.