Friday, December 30, 2011

Shopping List

On my shopping list:

30 small toys for a magic fishing pond
sparklers (which might be outlawed in San Diego county but I'm crossing my fingers)
veggies and dip
glow bracelets
colored paper

Our party for tomorrow night is going from 6-8.  At 8 pm we are going to light sparklers, make a lot of noise and pretend like it's midnight.  At which point we will all go home and put our babies to bed and be in bed before midnight.

Doesn't that sound dreamy?

Happy New Year's to you as well.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

All is calm. All is bright

The chicken fajitas were amazing (we're pretty traditional at our house.  We like to save Chinese food for Easter)

And the evening was made even more perfect when Nikki, Ila and Taylor stopped by unexpectedly.

Friday, December 23, 2011

You can count on Grandpa

Yesterday Claire was running from the kitchen to the TV room (an activity she loves at my parent's house where there is so much more space than there is in our tiny apartment).  After several runs back and forth and back and forth she stayed in the TV room.  My mom and I were cooking and we could hear her chatting away with Grandpa.  Claire was conversing by mixing the few words we can understand with her near perfect impression of conversation's inflection.  Grandpa was talking in an animated voice and I thought maybe he was reading her a story when I overheard......

"Well, the next thing you know Ol' Jed's a millionaire.  Kinfolk said, 'Jed move away from there.' Said, 'Californey is the place you otta be.' So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly."

I tell her stories about three little pigs or a girl named Cinderella and Grandpa tackles the tough stories of families striking it rich and trying to fit in in new situations.

I guess it really does take a village

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When you picture Christmas this year...

Christmas eve at my parent's house has always been a musical affair.  After dinner my mother moves to the piano and the box full of jingle bells, tambourines, castanets and other clanky noise makers is passed around and we sing Christmas carols.  A couple of years ago my mom bought us all felt reindeer antlers to wear while we were singing.  Luckily, right in the middle of our celebration our friend, Tien (who is from Vietnam and understood only enough of Christmas to know that it would be important to us), came by with a gift.  My mother was thrilled.  She handed over her own reindeer antlers and a set of jingle bells.  Tien left in a hurry after a couple of songs that he had never heard before (I guess Joy to the World isn't big in non-Christian households) and has never since made the mistake of stopping by on Christmas eve.

The two grandchildren who will be attending Christmas eve at my parent's house this year are aged 1.5 and 2.5.  They are great friends and great enemies all at the same time.  For just an instant we thought about doing the nativity scene with the two of them.  Two Marys, two baby Jesuses, parents running interference but we quickly came to our senses and decided that a puppet show would be a better option.

We're using this printable (which I clearly stole.  From here) and during the course of the evening we'll be cutting out the puppets and sticking them to straws which people can hold or which we'll put into a flower pot filled with rice.

If you are interested in puppeteering we are still accepting applications though you are going up against a little girl who walks around the house pointing at everything and yelling, 'MINE" (I am actually considering making two sets just to avoid confrontation).   You can also feel free to just stop by.  Maybe there will be a set of reindeer antlers and some jingle bells in it for you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Lights

This is what it looks like when you go see Christmas lights in San Diego.

And this is what it looks like in Utah.

Once again that's San Diego

And Utah (that's a close up so you can see that Grandpa really is wearing a Russian-style military fur hat)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Club: Jane Eyre Pt 2

Didn't you love this book?  I did. This isn't the first time I've read Jane Eyre and there was something about already knowing the story that made some other things easier to spot in the book.  I've done some reading online about what other book clubs have discussed (they mostly just compare it to Pride and Prejudice and really, other than them both being written by British women I don't see too much of a connection between them.  And, for the record, they all liked P&P better.)
I'm going to list the themes that I saw in the book and a couple of thoughts on each.  Feel free to comment of these themes or whatever it is that you thought about when you read the book

Psudo-science. Ahhhh the science of Phrenology.  I loved it.  I loved how they sized up everyone's character with the shape of their heads. In some ways it reminded me of Moby Dick and Ismael's description of the whale class and family distinctions.  Everyone believes and subscribes and it is so totally wrong. I have undertaken the study of my own head shape.  Here is a helpful graphic for you to discern your own character.  

As an advertisement at the time ran--know yourself.

Gothic Novel:  This is one of the things that, in my mind, so distinguishes this from any of the Jane Austen books.  This novel is a refreshing thriller of sorts.  There's not too much blood or gore but it is tense.  The descriptions of Bertha that are things like "the clothed hyena," "the maniac," "that purple face," and "the lunatic" are downright scary.  And isn't "the clothed hyena" such a great description? 

Coming of Age:  This is another theme that distinguishes this book from the Austen books.  We get to see Jane grow up.  She goes from a young girl who yells at her Aunt Reed and is tortured by her cousins to a well educated, thoughtful, informed pleasant young lady.  I love how we get to see that in the book.  Sure, she skims over much of her Lockwood experience but we still get to see her come of age. 

Religion/God: This is a problematic area for me.  Jane refuses to go with Mr. Rochester on moral grounds but she is not really a pious person.  Jane does seem to have some mysticism in her though. She shows an uncanny knack for seeing the future.  She knows that if she goes with Mr Rochester he will fall out of love with her.  She knows that she and St John wouldn't be happy if they married.  These seem like religious premonitions but religion doesn't really play any other role in the book and the two examples we have of clergy are hardly flattering (St John and Mr Brocklehurst)

Passion and Love: I have to start out by saying that this read through any page that contained even the mention of St John was painful to read. He's just  And arrogant.  He drives me batty.  And Jane even thinking about going to India with him made me sick. 
St John is passionately in love with Mary Rivers and he won't marry her because of the passion. Jane and Rochester are passionately in love but, as I mentioned before, Jane knows that if she goes with Rochester before they are married it will be ruined. 
That being said, when Jane and Mr Rochester finally are reunited the dialogue that ensures is one of my favorite literary moments of all time. Here's just a snippet, 

"This St. John, then, is your cousin?"
"You have spoken of him often: do you like him?"
"He was a very good man, sir; I could not help liking him."
"A good man. Does that mean a respectable well-conducted man of fifty? Or what does it mean?"
"St John was only twenty-nine, sir."
"'Jeune encore,' as the French say. Is he a person of low stature, phlegmatic, and plain. A person whose goodness consists rather in his guiltlessness of vice, than in his prowess in virtue."
"He is untiringly active. Great and exalted deeds are what he lives to perform."
"But his brain? That is probably rather soft? He means well: but you shrug your shoulders to hear him talk?"
"He talks little, sir: what he does say is ever to the point. His brain is first-rate, I should think not impressible, but vigorous."
"Is he an able man, then?"
"Truly able."
"A thoroughly educated man?"
"St. John is an accomplished and profound scholar."
"His manners, I think, you said are not to your taste?--priggish and parsonic?"
"I never mentioned his manners; but, unless I had a very bad taste, they must suit it; they are polished, calm, and gentlemanlike."
"His appearance,--I forget what description you gave of his appearance;--a sort of raw curate, half strangled with his white neckcloth, and stilted up on his thick-soled high-lows, eh?"
"St. John dresses well. He is a handsome man: tall, fair, with blue eyes, and a Grecian profile."
(Aside.) "Damn him!"--(To me.) "Did you like him, Jane?"
"Yes, Mr. Rochester, I liked him: but you asked me that before."
I perceived, of course, the drift of my interlocutor. Jealousy had got hold of him: she stung him; but the sting was salutary: it gave him respite from the gnawing fang of melancholy. I would not, therefore, immediately charm the snake.
"Perhaps you would rather not sit any longer on my knee, Miss Eyre?" was the next somewhat unexpected observation.
"Why not, Mr. Rochester?"
"The picture you have just drawn is suggestive of a rather too overwhelming contrast. Your words have delineated very prettily a graceful Apollo: he is present to your imagination,--tall, fair, blue-eyed, and with a Grecian profile. Your eyes dwell on a Vulcan,--a real blacksmith, brown, broad-shouldered: and blind and lame into the bargain."
"I never thought of it, before; but you certainly are rather like Vulcan, sir."
"Well, you can leave me, ma'am: but before you go" (and he retained me by a firmer grasp than ever), "you will be pleased just to answer me a question or two." He paused.
"What questions, Mr. Rochester?"
Then followed this cross-examination.
"St. John made you schoolmistress of Morton before he knew you were his cousin?"
"You would often see him? He would visit the school sometimes?"
"He would approve of your plans, Jane? I know they would be clever, for you are a talented creature!"
"He approved of them--yes."
"He would discover many things in you he could not have expected to find? Some of your accomplishments are not ordinary."
"I don't know about that."
"You had a little cottage near the school, you say: did he ever come there to see you?"
"Now and then?"
"Of an evening?"
"Once or twice."
A pause.
"How long did you reside with him and his sisters after the cousinship was discovered?"
"Five months."
"Did Rivers spend much time with the ladies of his family?"
"Yes; the back parlour was both his study and ours: he sat near the window, and we by the table."
"Did he study much?"
"A good deal."
"Ah! here I reach the root of the matter. He wanted you to marry him?"
"He asked me to marry him."
"That is a fiction--an impudent invention to vex me."
"I beg your pardon, it is the literal truth: he asked me more than once, and was as stiff about urging his point as ever you could be."
"Miss Eyre, I repeat it, you can leave me. How often am I to say the same thing? Why do you remain pertinaciously perched on my knee, when I have given you notice to quit?"
"Because I am comfortable there."
"No, Jane, you are not comfortable there, because your heart is not with me: it is with this cousin--this St. John. Oh, till this moment, I thought my little Jane was all mine! I had a belief she loved me even when she left me: that was an atom of sweet in much bitter. Long as we have been parted, hot tears as I have wept over our separation, I never thought that while I was mourning her, she was loving another! But it is useless grieving. Jane, leave me: go and marry Rivers."
"Shake me off, then, sir,--push me away, for I'll not leave you of my own accord."
"Jane, I ever like your tone of voice: it still renews hope, it sounds so truthful. When I hear it, it carries me back a year. I forget that you have formed a new tie. But I am not a fool--go--"
"Where must I go, sir?"
"Your own way--with the husband you have chosen."
"Who is that?"
"You know--this St. John Rivers."
"He is not my husband, nor ever will be. He does not love me: I do not love him. He loves (as he CAN love, and that is not as you love) a beautiful young lady called Rosamond. He wanted to marry me only because he thought I should make a suitable missionary's wife, which she would not have done. He is good and great, but severe; and, for me, cold as an iceberg. He is not like you, sir: I am not happy at his side, nor near him, nor with him. He has no indulgence for me--no fondness. He sees nothing attractive in me; not even youth--only a few useful mental points.--Then I must leave you, sir, to go to him?"

Okay, that quote turned out to be really long.  But isn't that just so romantically perfect?

Love it.

Okay.  How did you feel about Jane Eyre?  What struck you?
And for next month we're reading A Visit From the Goon Squad.  It's back to the Pulitzer prize winners people. I just downloaded it on the new Kindle I got for Christmas.  Thanks hubbs.  You're the best. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sh** Girls Say

Have you seen this yet?


Though I would add to the "did I lock the door?" the housewife specific thought of, "did I turn off the stove?"

And really.  While she's eating the potato chips she's being WAY too still.  I know that when the hubbs and I are sitting on the couch there's a lot of wiggling.  He sometimes compares it to sitting next to an egg beater.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just another reason to love my mom

My mom retired from full time work a couple of years ago.  Before I had Claire and I was working full time she would call on a random weekday morning around 10 and ask if I wanted to go get a pedicure and lunch or see a movie.  I had to remind her that I was working and, sadly, could not just up and leave whenever I wanted.

Seeing my mom in retirement has once again reminded me that I was raised by inspiring and incredible people.  Now, when I say retirement I have to tell you that she's hardly retired at all.  She still works probably 20 hours a week as a contractor but in the free time that she does have she and her friends do yoga three times a week.  They have a private instructor who tailors the class to retired bodies.  They have a water-color painting group and they meet twice a week to paint and give feedback and instruction.  They also sometimes go on painting or yoga retreats.  My mother also reads and writes and has book clubs and a writing group to keep her busy.

The reason for our whirlwind trip to Utah last week was that the painting group was having their annual tea party and art show.  This year in addition to the several tables full of treats that were all made by hand, the art show included a book--so I guess it was their book release party as well.

Here are my mom's pages from the book (if I had more computer sense than I do I would know how to merge this together and keep the quality good enough to still read it.  As it is, that is not the case so you're stuck with two different images but at least you can read it)

Oh, please, oh please, let me be the kind of retired lady who throws elaborate tea parties and self publishes a book of my artwork and writing.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Club: Jane Eyre pt 1

So remember when we used to read and talk about books on this blog?  Me too.

The trouble is that 10 days ago Jane Eyre was walking toward the church with Mr. Rochester and I just couldn't go on.  I couldn't bear to think of the two people waiting for her inside and the terrible secret locked in the attic.

I let it sit for a few days and just this afternoon (cuddled in a chair with a heating pad and the smell of a Christmas tree wafting around me) I finished.  So can we talk about Jane next week?  Maybe on Friday?  Does that give you enough notice?

Good.  Friday it is.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Newest Blockbuster

Remember when March of the Penguins came out?  I do.  I was in graduate school and one of my roommates and I went to go see it.  We sat near the front of the theater in the small town where we lived and cried our eyes out.  Remember when the egg cracks?  Dang.  That's powerful movie making.

I feel like we could make a similarly spectacular movie entitled The Great Ornament Migration.

Because really, where have all the ornaments (and even lights) on the lower half of the tree gone?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A warning to the hubbs

The hubbs is an incredibly good man.  He works hard, helps around the house, loves playing with Claire and is a stone fox to boot.  He however, isn't without his faults.  He is terrible at pretending like he is enjoying something when he is not.  You'll know straight off if he doesn't like something you cooked right away by the gagging noises and copious amounts of water he needs to get it down.  You'll also know if you've picked an activity he doesn't like by the unreal number of eye rolls coming your way.

One activity that inspires such eye rolling is reading together--especially if it's touching and inspiring holiday stories that I'm making him read out loud.  The good news is that I have put enough time in the last three years watching college sports that he owes me {big}--so I'm going to put on my blinders to the eye rolling and read on.

Dear hubbs, get ready.  In no particular order here are the stories that we will be reading {out loud} this holiday season (get your eyeballs ready):

  • The Christmas chapter from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (the one where Francie and Neely get the tree thrown at them.  It's 26 if you're looking for it.  Warning: there are curses in it)--Betty Smith
  • A Christmas Memory--Truman Capote
  • The Gift of the Magi--O Henry
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever--Barbara Robinson

Okay literary people.  What am I missing?  What are your go-to Christmas stories.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm back

I just checked my phone to see what kind of awesome pictures I amassed while on a whirlwind trip to Utah for 48 hours (my mom and her painting friends were hosting a tea party/art showing/book review for their art work and Claire and I made the 1.5 hour plane ride to be part of the action) and there was not even a single picture there.

The newest pictures on my phone were from Saturday when we put up our Christmas tree (can Saturday really only have been 4 days ago?).  The good news is that the pictures are pretty awesome and show just how helpful of a girl Claire can be.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reality Bites

What actually happens around here:
I empty the dishwasher.
Load the breakfast dishes
Wash the hand dishes that I left soaking from dinner last night
Put the table cloth and napkins in the laundry
Get in the shower

What Claire thinks happens:
Mom plays in my favorite machine for a while and she gets to turn on the sink whenever she wants.
She loads the sink with water and plays there for a while (she doesn't let me play even though I cling to her legs and cry).
Mom heads to that other room where the machine fills with water.  (She also refuses to let me play in the water even though I cry)
Mom then goes to bathroom where she gets to play with more water while I bang on the shower door and scream.

Oh, and guess who learned to do a summersault?

Friday, December 2, 2011

She's got personality!

This article has been making it's way around Facebook. I read it earlier this week and have been thinking about it ever since.  Then this morning on Cup of Jo there was this.

I am an introvert.
The hubbs is not.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ignorance is Bliss

It's a good thing that the vast majority of my siblings refuse to read this blog because I just stumbled across the perfect Christmas gift for my sister and I am 90% sure that all of you are going to want to buy the exact same thing for your sister (unless you come from the kind of home that gives useful, appropriate gifts for Christmas in which case you will think this is crazy.  I come from a family where the greatest gift in memory is a pair of boxing nuns that our Uncle Dick sent from Chicago when I was 10.  This gift just might push Uncle Dick out of 1st place)

Behold The Sweater Boys Calendar

Men in hilariously awful sweaters striking sexy poses.

Sign. Me. Up.

You can order it here.
And all the proceeds go to help the people of Vietnam so you don't need to feel bad about ordering lots.


I am not the kind of blogger that posts every day and I don't feel the need to apologize or explain my absences but I just wanted to let you know that the reason I wasn't here yesterday is because these thighs were visiting.

Ahhhh how could I even tear myself away for one second to sit at the computer while those chunky things were kicking and cooing?  Not possible.