Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's in a name?

When the hubbs and I were trying to think of names for Claire I admitted to him that I felt like, as a woman, my opinion in naming our girls should weigh more heavily.  I'm not sure I actually said it but I may have inferred that his opinion would weigh more heavily in naming the boys.

So....we found out that we're having a boy.

And it turns out that I think my opinion should weigh more heavily in naming both girls and boys.

Good thing the hubbs pretty much knew what he was in for when he married me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Let's make it Earth Day every day!

Saturday the hubbs and I went on our long awaited whale watching cruise.  Ever since we read Moby Dick I've been a little obsessed and when there was a groupon for 50% off at San Diego Whale Watch I bought tickets for both the hubbs and I and my parents. My parents went on their tour the last time they came to visit but due to scheduling errors the hubbs and I weren't able to go until Saturday.

And we had wild success.  We saw a mamma grey whale and her baby.  We followed them for 30 min or so.  Then we moved on and saw an incredible pod of dolphins.  The naturalist on the boat thought that there were at least 1200 dolphins.  The water was literally churning.  I pulled this terrible video of the dolphins and got nothing of the whales.

The good news is that I should be able to take great video on our next whale watching vacation.  The naturalist told us that if you go to Mexico during the birthing season the baby whales will come right up to your boat and you can pet them (and, as I saw on National Geographic, hug them).

Dear Hubbs,
There are two vacations that I am dying to go on.
The Monarch Migration and

Baby Whale hugging.

Will you see what you can do?


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Does Money Buy Happiness?

I read this great blog called The Frugal Girl (FG).  Her tagline is "cheerfully living on less" which I think pretty much sums up my life as a stay at home mom.  FG talks about reading with her kids and cooking meals at home and take-out date night and has really reasonable ideas about living frugally and simply.  I love her.  Her's is one of the few blogs written by someone I don't know that I read religiously.

Yesterday she posted a book review about this book.

I need to fess up and say that in all likelihood I will not read this book. I find books about saving money (along with books about parenting) could usually be summed up in a pamphlet.  Here is FG's insight on the book.

"All the Money in the World isn’t a typical personal finance or frugality book.  There are no chapters on coupons or index funds or IRAs.

Rather,...{All The Money in the World} is a look at the relationship between money and happiness and how we can spend and save our money in ways that are meaningful.

An interesting thing Vanderkam points out is that sometimes, the big-ticket items in our lives are the ones bringing us the least happiness (and vice versa).  For instance, it’s quite possible that you’d be happier living in a small home, buying $5 lattes every day than you’d be living in a “dream” home with no money for small extras."
I'd never thought about it in precisely those terms but I am in love with this idea.  The hubbs and I live in a little apartment.  When we first started out the search for living quarters in San Diego we set a budget that ranged from $1,400-2,1000 (try to pick your jaw up off the floor.  That's just what rent is in SoCal for a tiny little apartment.  We call it the Sunshine Tax).  We picked an apartment that was at the lower end of that range.  Last time we renewed our lease we did it for 2 years because we love our house.  And more than just loving our house we love having a little extra cash in our pockets.
I'd never realized the many ways that this makes our lives easier and happier but it does.  This week I was suddenly struck with a panic that Claire doesn't eat vegetables {at all} so I added all of these weird things to our grocery list hoping to entice her to eat them {for the record, 2-year olds love Nori (seaweed)}.  I didn't worry about it.  I blew the grocery budget but I knew there was money there for the blowing.  Same thing with this pregnancy and my craving for hamburgers.  We've been out to eat more frequently in the last 4 months than we have in our whole marriage.  
And here's the glory of it.  I don't stress about it.  I get to do that because we went for the apartment that was at the lower end of our budget and we drive cars that are old and crappy. 
And those 69 cent diet cokes from McDonalds that I still buy at lest twice a week?  Even cheaper than a latte and oh the joy they bring.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I wasn't there for the weeds

Henry Eyring was a really famous Chemist who won the national medal of science.  He died of cancer in 1981. Toward the end of his life, when he was in a lot of pain from his disease, he lead a group of volunteers to weed a huge field of onions in a charity farm.  People who were there that day said he scooted along the rows patting people on the back and making friendly comments.  He laughed and had a great time but was in so much pain that he couldn't stand for long periods of time.

When they were done with the weeding they went into the farmhouse.  One of the workers looked at them and said, "you didn't just weed that field did you?  It was sprayed yesterday.  All of those weeds were going to die anyway."

When Henry was telling the story to his family he laughed and hooted and told everyone how hilarious it was. His son turned to him and said, "Dad, you can really be taking it that lightly.  You did a lot of work and you were in a lot of pain and it was all wasted."

Henry looked at his son and said, "Hal, I wasn't there for the weeds."

I read that story in college and loved it.  I thought it was a lovely idea.

I did not know the deep and significant meaning that "Hal, I wasn't there for the weeds" would play in my life.  I have to constantly remind myself why I am doing what I am doing.

So, let's say you're dying Easter eggs and all 12 of yours end of cracked due to them being dropped in dye cups and they all end up a lovely shade of brown because the dyer insists that they each go in every cup.  As a somewhat accomplished egg dyer yourself it might be easy to get upset if don't remember that you're not there for the eggs.

If you're at the world-renown San Diego Zoo and you spend 90% of your time hanging from banisters and walking along curbs it's easy to get frustrated and insist that you hurry on your way in an angry voice if you don't remember that you're not there for the animals.

Here's to a lovely weekend.  Let's hope we can all remember that we're not here for the weeds.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Are you kidding me?

More than 12 months in a peanut-free home and I never thought of this?

I'm ashamed.
Though really, I don't need toasted hazelnuts and fancy things.  I'm taking the good ol' fashion recipe and subbing Nutella for peanut butter.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A chance encounter

I've posted about these trees before.  They look like they came right out of a Dr Seuss book (or maybe the greenhouse at Hogwarts).  They bloom with brilliant spiky flowers before there is any hit of a leaf (I consider myself to have some knowledge of plants and how they work--I do have a Master's Degree in Plant Science--and this boggles the mind.  How can they bloom before they have made leaves.  I always worry that they'll run out of energy and die before they've made their leaves and can get food) and since moving to CA they have been a small obsession of mine.

When they do finally get leaves they come in "pom pom" style with large bushy bunches on the end of each branch.  I love them.

The sad news is that googling "weird red blossom tree California" or "red spiky flower tree california" doesn't get you anywhere.  I had no idea what they were until a chance meeting with a very knowledgeable tram rider at the Wild Animal Park.

South African Coral Tree.

And some day when we have a yard, there will be one there.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pinning away

I'm still new to the Pinterest bandwagon but every now and then I come across a real gem.  Here are my newest pinterest loves and finds.

"Never give up. No matter what is going on, never give up. Develop the heart. Too much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Be compassionate, not just to your friends, but to everyone. Work for peace in your heart and in the world. Work for peace and I say again, never give up. No matter what is happening, no matter what is going on around you. Never give up."

--Dalai Lama
I'm thinking of making a t-shirt that says, "Develop the Heart."

Mom, will you make me this?  For the kid's room?

If I suddenly start crying and whining about pregnancy weight gain (or if my doctor gets mad at me AGAIN for gaining too much weight) will you just show me this?

By way of the kind of public announcement that is intended to inspire me to actually do something.  I am going to be making this dress.  I'm going to visit my family at the end of this month and this dress will be coming with me.  I figure that I can try out any kind of sewing tutorial that contains the words "eyeball it."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Club: The Sense of an Ending

I'm pretty sure that it was January when we said we would read The Sense of an Ending.  It's April now.  The book is only 160 pages.  I think I had it read 2 weeks after we announced it (it was the first new book I bought on the new Kindle I got for Christmas).  I loved it.  I've thought about it since.  I've told other people that they should read it.  

So....I'm not really sure what happened.

But it's behind us.  Let's talk about it now.

For the purpose of this discussion let me just give you a brief summary. Anthony is the narrator of the book.  He's in his 60s, divorced and looking back at his life.  In high school Anthony had a group of friends that toward the end started hanging out with a boy named Adrian.  They go their separate ways and in college Anthony finally starts dating his first real girlfriend (Veronica).  The relationship ends badly and a few months later Anthony gets a letter from Adrian saying that Adrian has started dating Veronica.  In response Anthony sends a scathing letter saying mean things about Veronica and cutting them both off. Several months later Anthony gets news that Adrian has killed himself.

Anthony is looking back on the situation because the Veronica's mother (whom he met once) has just died and has included him in her will.  The meat of the book is Anthony looking back on the situation and trying to figure out what happened and why he would be included in her will.

The thing that's been running around in my head since I read the book is the letter he wrote.  Anthony wrote the letter when he was really angry.  He got a lot off his chest (said some really mean things) and at 60 he didn't even remember what the letter had contained and had moved on.

It turns out that some of really mean things he said about his ex-girlfriend turned out to be a true.  When he said, "I hope...{insert mean thing here}....." It happened.  

The letter didn't mean anything to Anthony, he could hardly recall it at 60.  And yet, that very same letter was a major life turning point for Veronica.  That's what I've been thinking about.  How often do we say something mean or petty or spiteful out of anger that we quickly forget it but it becomes a major life turning point for the people we've spoken to or who have overheard us?  It's tricky because I know that I've been on the opposing end of it.  I've had people say things (to me or just in front of me) or I've seen them in parenting weakness moments and I've recorded the memory and made mental note that I'll never do that or never say that or whatever.

I don't really know what conclusion to draw from that.  Is it fair?  No. Can we watch everything we say and do and avoid it? No. 

So what do you think?  Is there anything to do about it? Does it matter?  Have you done it?

Maybe Anthony said it best when he said, 

"How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but - mainly - to ourselves." (95) 

Or maybe he put it more painfully when he said, 

"There is accumulation.  There is responsibility.  And beyond these, there is unrest. There is great unrest."

So what do you think?  Is there anything to do about taking meaningless moments and giving them great meaning? Does it matter?  Have you done it to other people?  Have they done it to you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A big day

Do you know what that is?

A girl's first peep.

A good day indeed

(or rather a hard day in which we self-medicated with caffeine and sugar.  But hey, you say toe-may-toe and I say toe-mah-toe)

*and remember when we used to read books on this blog?  Me too. I finished The Sense of an Ending months ago and LOVED it but I just never talked about it. So....what if we do that Friday?  Get reading.  You'll love it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Scenes from this weekend

We had a lovely weekend.

We started out with a little gardening and playing in the park on Friday.  Claire spent some time walking around the house on Friday making sure that she had all the necessary equipment that one would need for a trip to the garden (which included a gift bag, a metal lunch box and an orange sand sifter).

Then on Saturday we went to the Safari Park.  If you are in the area you need to go in the next week.  It's "butterfly jungle" season which means that there is this one amazing green house that is filled with huge butterflies of all colors.  They dart around and land on people wearing bright clothes.  Here's a video of Claire telling about how one of the butterflies landed right on her knee.

And on Sunday we spent the day watching general conference (which is a gathering of all of the leaders of our church and they speak about amazing spiritual things which is great, but getting to watch church via the internet while you are in your pajamas is perhaps the greatest part of the whole deal).  I would like to send a special thanks to Pinterest for this little number.

Seriously people, 1/4 cup finger paint in a gallon ziplock bag taped to the window (squirt it in the top corners--gravity will take care of the rest), mixed with some shapes we had lying around the house and we had 45 of quiet time.