Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wasting Away Again...

Sophomore year of college my roommate introduced me to the music of a balding white dude named Jimmy Buffett. Life has not been the same since, in a good way.

That year (1989, I believe) I attended my first Buffett show at The Concord Pavilion, it was the Feeding Frenzy tour. Since then I have averaged at least one Buffett show a year, if not more. I've had to take a year off here and there though; one year it was due to being 8 months pregnant another it was due to the fact that he was playing at a small venue in San Francisco and tickets were super expensive.

Jimmy Buffett only performs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Unfortunately he always seems to be here on a Tuesday or Thursday and I have to work the next day because I tend to go to the concerts with my principal.

Vanessa and Principal Carol (listening to the Giants' game on the headphones)

This past weekend, however, he actually came on a Saturday! Shoreline Amphitheatre doesn't allow tailgating before hand but the call of a Saturday show was just too much and, so, much alcohol was consumed in the parking lot ahead of time. We used party cups and when the cops came by, we were very calm and they didn't question us at all (unlike my friend who got busted for drinking beer there tonight before the Bridge School Benefit Show).

Husband Brian tolerates the shows but insists on going each year. I think he is a secret Parrothead.

Buffett shows are like my own private holiday. I have so much fun; I'm up and dancing the whole time, singing (off-key) at the top of my lungs and probably making a fool of myself. I used to dress up a lot more than I do now. I used to wear a hat that I would add one item to for each show I had attended. Stuffed parrots, little figurines, an empty box of Junior Mints, etc all adorned my hat. After over 15 shows it became unwieldy and it was time to be retired. Now I just wear a big flamingo on my head. I get lots and lots of compliments, many people point at me, and more than a few ask to have their picture taken with me. Needless to say, I enjoy the attention. The best part of my hat is that it makes a really good landmark when someone is trying to find their way back to their blanket on the lawn in the dark (just make a left at the flamingo).
Me with my flamingo hat

I still can't believe my favorite performer is an old(ish) balding man who doesn't have that great of a voice, but the show he puts on can't be beat. After over 20 years and 20+ concerts, I can't wait for next year's show. I sure hope he is here on a Saturday again.

Book Lover

The first year of Kyle's life I felt guilty much of the time. Kyle is a loving child but he is not a snuggly child. Because he wasn't interested in being held, I just didn't read to him very often. Kyle simply wasn't interested in sitting still and listening, there was so much to explore and play with that books and Mom were not high on the priority list.

Choosing a book from the "library"

All of that has changed in the past few months. Kyle is now passionate about books. More often than not he can be found carrying a book to me and climbing into my lap. He will spend lots of time thumbing through books and looking and pointing at the pictures. Even better, in the past couple of weeks Kyle has started orienting the books correctly when he picks them up.
Kyle with one of his books

Kyle loves to crawl up into the glider in his room with a book and "read."

Thank goodness all that guilt and worrying was for naught.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I Did This Summer...

Tonight is my last night of summer vacation. I'm feeling some trepidation about going back to work tomorrow, but it will be good to have a routine again. Back in June I wrote a post that spoke to the commitments I made for the summer. Only one person, my mom (thanks!), checked in with me over the summer to see how I was doing on my goals. Overall, it was a mixed bag.

Goal #1 was to write more often. I didn't do so well with this goal. While I actually did quite a lot this summer that I could easily have written about, I'm struggling with the idea of whether I want to write an "on-line diary" where it really might only interest those people who know me fairly well, and even then that might be pushing it or as one that is interesting to a broader spectrum of people. I love reading blogs that are written in such a way that they reach a wider audience and while there might be personal details, the overall outcome is more general; it would appeal to anyone whether they know the author or not. I guess I just need to get over myself and write. Those who want to read will and those who choose not to won't.

Goal #2 was to get more exercise. Yeah, that really didn't happen. I was plenty active doing various things all summer long, but I did not make it to the gym, not even once. The new plan is to go to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays before I pick up the kids from their daycare centers. I just need to make sure I leave work early enough to work in a workout.

Mom and Sharon on the way up to Reno. This is where we found our first box of the trip.

Goal #3 was to reach my goal of 300 letterboxes by early July. This goal I met! On the last weekend of June I went to Reno with my mom and her friend Sharon for Spy vs. Spy II, a letterboxing event. We boxed on the way up and back as well as at the event itself. Since then I have found 28 additional boxes. I have "just" 72 boxes to find before next July. Luckily I live in a box heavy area and finding these boxes shouldn't be too much of a problem.

My mom walking back to the car in Reno after finding a box. Please note, it helps to have a compass that correctly points north!

Goal #4 was to work on organizing the house and getting rid of things. This summer I cleaned out and reorganized the linen cabinets, the kids bathroom, the master bathroom, and my jewelry box. The biggest thing I worked on though was my kitchen. I relined all of the shelves and cabinets and reorganized the entire kitchen. When we moved in over 5 years ago I made choices about where things in the kitchen would go based on how I thought the kitchen would flow. I haven't been happy with some of those choices for years, but didn't know how to fix it. I didn't really know how to fix it now either, I just knew I needed to make a change. So far, I'm fairly happy with my new choices in the kitchen. The two areas of the house that we did not work on are the garage and all of the junk that is being stored in our bedroom that needs to be posted on Craig's List.

Goal #5 was to finish Kiersta's baby book. I DID IT!!!! Kiersta loves it and I am so happy to have this project out of the way. As soon as I finished I got the all too familiar feeling in my body of wanting to start the next project. Hopefully I'll find some time some day.

Goal #6 was to finish the Harry Potter series. I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this afternoon. I watched very little TV this summer as I often had my nose in a book. I also watched all 6 of the Harry Potter movies and can hardly wait for the last movie(s) to come out this November. I have to admit that I am mourning my loss of time with the wonderful wizard and his mates.

Here we are in Santa Barbara on one of those bike thingies.

Goal #7 was to have fun. I definitely accomplished this goal. While I spent a lot of time working around the house and acting as a chauffeur for the kids various activities, I did manage to have fun. As a family we went down to San Diego for a long weekend to celebrate my 40th birthday with my best friend from college. While there, we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, went swimming, drank too much, and caught up on each other's lives. On the way home we spent time in Santa Barbara where we rented one of those little pedal surreys. We stuck the kids in the front basket and Brian and I did all of the pedaling. This is one of those activities that looks like it will be more fun than it really is, but the kids had lots of fun. We also went to Woody's BBQ for lunch--so yummy!!! Additionally I spent lots of time with my kids. We went to Gilroy Gardens and Happy Hollow, the San Jose Museum of Art and the library, to birthday parties, playdates, swim lessons, gymnastics, and Gymboree. It really was a fun summer.

Kyle looking awfully cute at the San Jose Museum of Art.

So, while I didn't do so well with my exercising or writing, I did meet all of my other goals. I guess I was having too much fun to find the time to write, maybe I need to have less fun in order to write more.

PS I wrote this yesterday, but Blogger was down and I couldn't post it. I made it through my first day of work (no students) and found out that I have a student teacher again this year! :)

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mad Respect

I have 3 friends that I know of who decorate cakes on a regular basis. I, on the other hand, have designed and decorated exactly two cakes in the past 6 years; one on Kiersta's first birthday and one on Kyle's first birthday. Now that I've done those two, I'm done. I don't know how these 3 lovely ladies do it. All I know is that I have mad respect for their amazing talents.

I'll let my pictures do the talking of my cake making abilities:

I made two cakes. The first was a lemon cake that turned out just fine and didn't require photographic proof, though maybe I should have just to show that I am capable of baking a cake. This is a white cake that didn't like coming out of the pan. A little frosting will hide the problem, right?

So I took one layer of lemon cake and one layer of white cake and cubed them and added frosting between and around. The frosting was going on too thick so I microwaved it and made more of an icing. I still had difficulties. Just so you know, I'm attempting to make a pile of blocks, can't you tell?

I piped on blue decorating icing and that actually gave the cake a little dimension. You can kind of tell that they are blocks, though the blocks may be in the middle of falling down after being kicked over by a deranged baker.

With green icing I decorated each side of the blocks. You can tell they're blocks but they are definitely falling over.

Here's the birthday boy with his cake and his big sister blowing out the candle. Kyle really doesn't look like he know what to make of this monstrosity.

Kyle figured things out. He decided to destroy the cake, well at least the one block we gave him. He looks a bit like a crazed clown in this picture.

Luckily I had ordered a back-up cake from Safeway. Safeway gives a small cake to kids for free on their first birthday with the purchase of a quarter sheet or larger. We were expecting about 45 people for this party and I wanted to make sure I had enough cake to go around. Plus, my husband, Brian, really only eats chocolate cake. He was horrified that my cake did not have a speck of chocolate in it. I ordered a chocolate cake with a fudge center and buttercream frosting. I asked for a blue cake with a block theme (to go with my block cake) since it was a boy's birthday. Here's what they gave me:

That's right a pretty yellow cake with pink icing, pink butterflies, and purple flowers. It just SCREAMS boy cake, doesn't it? I didn't get a picture of the larger cake but it also was pink and yellow and said in pink: "1st Happy Birthday Kyle." About the only thing they got right was the block!
What a bunch of blockheads!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Summer is here and I have plans, big plans. I love blogging but I rarely find, or make, the time to write. So goal #1: Write more often. I'm not going to put an actual number of times per week/month, because I don't want to write unless I actually have something to say, but hopefully that won't be a problem, especially if I meet the rest of the goals.

Goal #2: Get my a$$ to the gym on a regular basis. Kyle will be starting back in daycare two days a week starting tomorrow and Kiersta will be attending various day camps for about half the summer. I should be able to find an hour or so a day to workout. If I'm not at the gym, I can workout by going hiking, playing on the Wii, or going for walks. I could even pull my bike out for the first time in nearly 7 years and go for a ride.

Goal #3: Letterbox more! I need to find 28 more boxes in the next 3 weeks to meet my annual goal of 100 per year. I then want to make a good head start on the next 100 for next July.

Goal #4: Get the house under control. My home certainly isn't as bad as those seen on Hoarders, but I'm still not happy with the state of things. I want to do a little each day, with the husband's help, to clean, organize, and get rid of.

Goal #5: Finish Kiersta's babybook. The child is 6 years old. I have done little to no scrapbooking since she was born. This is unacceptable! I love scrapping and I want to find time and space to working on my albums again. At the rate I've been going, Kyle will be nearly 50 by the time I even get around to starting a babybook for him.

Goal #6: Finish reading the Harry Potter books. I'm 2/3 of the way through book #2. I've read a few of the books in the past, but never read the whole series, so now that they're all out, I'm reading them all, one after another (and watching each movie as I finish the book).

Goal #7: Have fun! I want to go to museums, amusement parks, swimming, hiking, and what not. I want to spend time with my kids, my husband, my family, and my friends. I also want to spend time on my own, because I need that.

That's all I've got right now. I'm sure I'll think of more later, but this is a good start.

School ended on Thursday of last week. So far I've worked on goals #1 (with this blog), #2 (hiking over the weekend while camping), #6 (reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), and #7 (gone camping with fabulous friends). I'll be working on #3 later today when I head out on the road for a few hours.

So folks, please hold my feet to the fire and help me be accountable to myself.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wildlife Sanctuary????

I'm thinking we might need to apply for wildlife sanctuary status in our backyard. Our yard is tiny, hardly more than a glorified patio with some scraggly trees and bushes and a lot of dog poop. But for whatever reason, the birds seem to love us.

Last year we had a hummingbird build a nest on top of one of our wind chimes (We've got Babies!). Mama hummingbird came back again this year and built another nest which resulted in at least one fledgling hummingbird on our patio.

Fledgling Hummingbird on our Patio

Additionally, Brian has spied an egret, or was it a heron?, in our backyard possibly going after the fish in our little pond/fountainy thing. Either way, it had a big enough wingspan that when it flew away its wings dominated the yard. Today Brian spotted either a falcon or a hawk in the yard (apparently I need to invest in a birding book!). We also have kites that like to nest in the trees near us.

On the protected hill just behind our home we have cows (they're there to eat the non-native grasses so that the endangered Bay Checkerspot Butterfly will have their native grasses returned to them for their habitat). Brian has also spotted a coyote or two and I've spent many an early morning listening to their howls passing from one coyote to another (it always reminds me of the dogs transmitting messages in Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians). We have jack rabbits on the hill and turkey vultures soaring overhead, too.

Now we have a new addition that actually is in our backyard. A robin built a nest in one of the scraggly trees about 5.5 feet off the ground. Inside are 4 bright blue eggs.

Eggs in the Nest

Mama-Robin-To-Be flies away every time I try to take her picture. I waited outside quietly for all of about 10 minutes hoping she would return, but I quickly realized I do not have the patience to be a wildlife photographer. Finally, once night arrived, I was able to go outside and snap a few shots. I was aiming in the dark but I think I did OK. I don't know if I woke poor Mama up or if she was blinded by the flash or if Mama sleeps with her eyes open, but she didn't fly away.

Mama Robin Protects her Eggs

So while our backyard isn't the most exciting place and doesn't have much in the way of kid friendly space, it does offer an amazing amount of wildlife diversity in an suburban setting on the edge of the country. I can't wait to see what develops next.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Early Earth Day

The Only Way to Travel:
Kiersta Crawling Through the Garden Tunnel

Each year the moms' group I belong to, Las Madres, gathers for an Earth Day hike. Normally we head over to Rancho San Antonio but the parking there on a weekend morning is nothing if not horrendous. It seems that more time is spent cruising the parking lots searching for an elusive space than is spent out on the trails. As a result, we decided to switch things up this year and go to Hidden Villa ( in Los Altos instead. Hidden Villa is a magical place and well worth checking out. While there is a $5.00 parking fee, it was so much better to spend a little money to have a spot, and support a worthy cause, than it was to spend $5.00 in gas searching for a parking space.

Three families gathered this year, with a fourth one missing us by minutes, for our hike. After we finally set out, we passed through the various animal areas, including the cow with a cute! We also went into the hen house where there were at least 100 chicks under the heat lamps...more cuteness!

Mama with her Baby

We finally made it past all of the distractions and hit the trails. Hmmm....which way to go? We decided on the The Bunny Loop Trail, cute name and the kids hoped we would find some rabbits along the way; we didn't but we did find quite a few banana slugs. 1.75 miles and 400 feet of elevation gain later we found our way back to the farm. The kids did a great job (we had 4 year olds hiking with us)! After our hike we crossed the creek and had a nice picnic lunch in a field under a shady oak where the kids decided to climb up the hill and run down, only to find themselves surrounded by pricker plants.

The Las Madres Earth Day Hikers (Minus Me)

After lunch the other two families took off but we stayed around for a bit to let Kiersta play in the creek. Kyle had fun sporting my hat and eating leaves when I wasn't looking.

Kyle with my Hat

Kiersta on the Bridge after Playing in the Creek

Once we finally left, we headed over to a nearby cemetery to visit Brian's grandparents. It would have been Grandma Annette's 101st birthday. We sang happy birthday to her and introduced her to Kyle. Finding the letterbox in the cemetery was an added bonus.

This was a fantastic day with beautiful weather, unlike today where it is pouring and in the '50's! I'm thinking that Rancho San Antonio will not be seeing us for another Earth Day hike, this was just so much nicer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love and Kisses

Valentine's Day was pretty good this year; Brian actually planned ahead and made dinner reservations (PF Changs), bought movie tickets ahead of time (Avatar), and brought home a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Of course, I never let him forget one of our first Valentine's together when he tried to make plans at the last minute and couldn't find a reservation to a restaurant anywhere. We ended up going through the Jack in a Box drive thru and then seeing Titanic. Apparently we have an affinity for James Cameron movies on Valentine's Day.

Kiersta and Kyle had a good day, too.

Holy Cow! That's a LOT of Chocolate!!!

Kiersta got a few small presents: a stuffed bear, a HUGE card, a mini-rubber stamp set, and a big ol' Hershey's Kiss).

A Very Smiley but Messy Boy!

Kyle, on the other hand, got nothing except lots of love. He seemed to enjoy it.

The only thing that went wrong was that we were supposed to go hiking on the morning of the 14th, but I had previously made plans to go to the gym with a friend and didn't get back in time to make the hike, get the house cleaned, shower, and go over directions with the grandparents before making our dinner reservations. We decided to go hiking the next day instead--a fine compromise since none of us had to work or go to school.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Salad, How I Do Love Thee

I am so proud of my daughter. Tonight she ate salad for the first time...willingly, on her own. Dinner was being served and Kiersta decided she was going to eat salad. She loaded up her plate with leafy greens (a spring mix), croutons, cranberries, and bleu cheese. I actually tried to stop her from taking so much because I didn't think she would eat it and it would go to waste, but I was wrong.

Now, most of you know that Kiersta is nearly 6 and are probably wondering why it has taken so long for us to get our darling daughter to eat salad, but I didn't eat my first salad until I was 20 years old, so 6 is sounding pretty good!