Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Five Stars

One of the things that I wish I was better at is understanding what my husband does for a living. He composes contemporary art music (similar to Philip Glass, who many have heard of). Not being musically inclined, I really don't get it, but I have learned tons in the 10+ years we've been married. The music is dense, difficult stuff, but I love that he is creative and so dedicated to making everything he writes the best it can be. That said, I have to admit that he also drives me crazy when he is working on a piece and ALWAYS goes past his deadline, mostly because it means he's gone a lot trying to get things finished up to his high standards. He is an incredibly laid back person, and a wonderful father and husband, but his inner perfectionist comes out big time when it comes to his work (and, for some strange reason, getting to the airport really early). But it looks like it has paid off due to the fantastic five-star review he just got from BBC Music Magazine for his new CD Mild Violence:

I've given him a five star rating for being the best person I know for a long time now, but it's nice that someone else recognizes his excellence.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Discomfort Zone

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who told me about an interesting way to gain more confidence in yourself. She had someone tell her that if you want to be more confident, you should do something that makes you utterly, completely uncomfortable. The example her friend used was getting onto an elevator, and instead of turning around to look at the doors like you usually would, he stands towards the back wall, facing the other people who are facing the door. If he is really pushing himself, he will actually try to make eye contact with one of the other passengers. I would be frantically pushing the button for the next floor if I was in there with him, but it makes a good point. I think if you do this exercise and find that you survive through an incredibly awkward situation, you couldn't help but feel more comfortable in your own skin.
So, I have been thinking a lot lately of what I could do that would make me absolutely squirm with discomfort. Here are some ideas:
  1. Going out wearing one of my husbands big, baggy t-shirts and a pair of Mom Jeans. I guess I fear looking like someone who has said "World, I give up."
  2. Going out in my pajama bottoms and one of my husband's big, baggy t-shirts. It is frighteningly common where I live, and says "World, I really give up. I give up so much that I can't even be bothered to get dressed in a baggy t-shirt and Mom Jeans in the morning."
  3. Not talking during awkward silences in conversations, especially with people I don't know.
  4. Voting for John McCain, but let's not get crazy here. Way too many long-term ramifications with this one.
I am not sure if I will ever do one of these things that make me cringe, but I've been thinking a lot about this question and what my "Discomfort Zone" says about me and my level of confidence.
So, I have to pose this question to you, what is something that would make you uncomfortable, and would you do it?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Milk Factory

As I've mentioned before, we have a family tradition of watching some of our favorite music videos on You Tube after dinner. Last night at dinner Jack asked us if we could watch "The Milk Factory" video. Steve and I looked at each other hoping the other one knew what he meant, but we were baffled. We asked Jack more about the video, and he said "You know, the one with the guys running." Still nothing. So we kept drilling him and I finally realized he was talking about this one by A-ha:

I'm sure it's been way too long since you've seen it, so I thought I'd share. I used to think that A-ha's lead singer, Morten Harket, was soooo dreamy. Anyway, we were still asking Jack why he called this "The Milk Factory" while we were watching it, and then at a certain point we saw the sign for milk in the diner (it shows up at about 0:40 in the video, and then can be seen in a lot of the "real world" shots). We found it hilarious when we figured it out, but it also was pretty exciting when we realized that since there is no picture that refers to milk on the sign (or the video), that he is actually starting to read. This has always been one of my favorite music videos, but now I have another great memory (other than high school dances and Friday Night Videos) to go along with it. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Crazy Pizza Hat Blazer Guy

It always amazes me how different my kids are. Since they are both boys I guess I thought they would be somewhat alike, but nope, not at all. Max is super sweet and mild mannered, level headed, determined, and focused. Jack is silly, funny, sensitive, emotional, and also super sweet (well, I guess they have that one thing in common, but since I'm their Mom I may be a bit biased). If you ask them what they want to do with some free play time Max will want to play a game; the boy loves rules and structure. On the other hand, if you ask Jack he will want to do something where he can use his imagination, like when he dressed up in this costume and called himself Crazy Pizza Hat Blazer Guy:

The crazy pizza hat part is pretty obvious, the backpack is an energy booster (whatever that means), and the blazer is what he is calling the squirt gun. Actually, we don't let them play with guns, but when Jack got this one at a birthday party we let him keep it but we called it a water squirter. Jack started calling guns blazers during the summer when he got a laser bracelet thing in a kids meal. As long as he doesn't call them guns, I guess I'm kinda winning the battle. Jack is just one of those boys that has the gun stuff hardwired. He picks up sticks and turns them into guns even though I've never let him watch violent TV or movies. I find it a bit disturbing, but not as disturbing as when he wants to run around with the sticks he uses as guns. I am just waiting for the day when we end up in the emergency room due to some stick related accident. It's not a matter of if, but when.
Jack and Max's sweetness is really shown by how they look out for each other. Often when I am getting cross at Max for something Jack says (very emphatically) "Don't you say that to my brother!" And the first night we were living in our new place Jack was feeling a little scared so Max got into his bed with him and told him knock-knock jokes until he fell asleep. I love that.
The more I have noticed their personalities come out, the more I am realizing they are so much like Steve and I. Max would definitely be more like Steve, and Jack would be more like me (although he got the silly/funny thing from Steve for sure). Both personalities have their pluses and minuses, but since Steve and I have been married (and happy) for over 10 years now, I think something about the combination works.

Yin & Yang: Max & Jack

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stunt Man

Is it just me, is everyone starting to wonder if John McCain's campaign is being led less by political pundits and more by publicists? I mean, can you believe the gimmicks this guy is willing to resort to? First there was the choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, an obvious ploy to sway Hillary Clinton supporters. And now we get to witness John McCain's newest tactic to gain voter's confidence by insulting their intelligence. McCain's call to suspend the debates so he can rush home to fix an economy that last week he said was "fundamentally strong" stinks of downright desperation. Through wars and so many other crises the Presidential Debates have still gone on. Thank goodness there are people calling him out. First, David Letterman mocked him for the false urgency that caused him to cancel his appearance on Late Night (I know this is long, but its Letterman at his best):

And then today while working out at the gym I saw this interview on the Today Show between McCain advisor Nicole Wallace and Obama advisor Robert Gibbs that was almost as amusing as Letterman. Just watch and your head will spin with all the cliches Nicole Wallace strings together and the "shame you" she spits out at Robert Gibbs:

Please tell me I am not the only one that can sense the defensiveness in this woman? I would be defensive too if I had to stand behind for these ridiculous tactics. And I also love how she constantly refers to Sarah Palin "She" instead of Governor Palin. Do you think that they are trying to drive home the fact that she is in fact female or that she just got so flustered she couldn't remember how to refer to her appropriately? Or is the confidence the McCain campaign had in Palin starting to waver too?
I am a political novice at best, but I do have to say that I have been voting for over 20 years now, and I have never seen such an insane Presidential race. If I was a Republican (and I know a lot of very intelligent Republicans) I would be completely offended by a candidate that wanted me to back these kinds of transparent schemes. It does send a very clear message though: John McCain will do anything to get elected. Let's hope that just anything won't work.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our Ibiza - Chapter 1: The Long Trip To The Beginning

When Steve and I were living in London, we met Alyssa and Dave, some ex-pats from Washington D.C., and became good friends. Dave worked for a top accounting company and had been transfered to London with his job. There were a lot of perks that came with the package, including subsidized housing which helped them afford a beautiful place just off King's Road in Chelsea. It took awhile for them to get used to the quirks that come with living in Britain, but finally they got settled in their life. Just about the time they really felt at home in London, Dave was transferred to Dublin, Ireland. No offense to anyone Irish (Trish), but they were pretty disappointed because there was less to do and they didn't have any friends there. The upside was that their subsidized housing dollar went a lot further in Ireland, so they were able to rent an even better house and equip it with all the amenities, big TVs, stereo equipment, and all the other features that made them feel like they never had to leave the house. They called their place "Our Ibiza" and it became their own personal resort island in the middle of nowhere.
Steve and I have adopted their term to refer to the new house we're building. Anyone that knows us knows that we never thought we'd end up here. We always thought we were destined for New York or Boston or really anywhere but here. But here we are, and since Steve now has tenure, here it looks like we're going to stay. We have been pretty discouraged with housing, and every time we looked the new houses were too cheesy and the old houses were total wrecks, so we stayed in our fluffy white bread house in our fluffy white bread neighborhood and tried to sort it out.
Through looking at real estate listings I found out about a fantastic architect named Dave Brach. We walked through a house he designed and fell in love, and decided that we needed to build our own house to achieve the Ibiza we had been hoping for. Our friends had purchased a house with a double lot in one of our favorite neighborhoods that is narrow, but workable. To make this long story short(er), we purchased the lot and hired Dave to design something for us. We have been working with him for over a year, an this is what we came up with:

We really love that it fits the 1950's - 1960's architecture of the neighborhood but is the modern style we have always wanted. We have been waiting and waiting for the permits so we could start building, and FINALLY it happened. I have said it feels like being pregnant; everyone asks you when your due to begin construction and we could never say since we have absolutely no control over the situation. Our builder said they are going to clear the lot and start excavating this week, so I wanted to write the first of what will be many blogs to make a record of this odyssey we are about to embark on. Only about 95% of people we've talked to have told us they almost got divorced while building a house. Let's hope we can stay in that slim 5%.
And away we go....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Love Tina Fey

How do I love Tina Fey? Let me count the ways:
  1. She helped me have faith in SNL again. She is the only funny thing to come out of that mess in a very, very, very long time. Will Ferrell included.
  2. She has that scar and doesn't try to hide it. 
  3. She does a spot on Sarah Palin imitation.
  4. She has contributed the expletive "Blerg!" to the English language. And my vocabulary.
  5. She's a Mom. And she can really work a pair of Mom Jeans.
And at the Emmys the other night, she gave me yet another reason to worship her when she gave some of the best parenting advice I've heard in years. She said "I thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done. That is what all parents should do." Of course it was said in her usual self-deprecating way, but I found it inspiring and makes me want to be a parent like that. Now I just have to figure out how to do it. Thanks, Tina, for setting the bar for all of us as parents, and I only hope I'm able to do it half as well as your parents did.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Retroactive Back To School Blog

Since I just started this blog, I missed one of the monumental blog moments last month: The first day of school. Max started 1st grade a year ahead of schedule, and Jack is in his second year of preschool. It is Max's first year in public school, so he had a lot to get used to. Spending a whole day away from home was hard on him at first, and he even had one day of crying and saying he didn't want to go, but now he jumps out of the car at the drop off without missing a beat and seems really happy to be there. Jack is enjoying his time at school too, and likes the days he gets to do cooking projects in the kitchen the best. I have started dropping him off at the drop off instead of walking him in every day like I used to. I was really hesitant to do this because I thought it was lazy and that Jack would be traumatized, but his teacher suggested it and said it is usually less traumatic for the kids when you leave because it happens quicker. I'll admit, I was skeptical, but after the first couple of days Jack asked me to drop him off and pick him up at the back. Yesterday I had to go in to pick him up so I could set an appointment for a parent/teacher conference and he was mad and told me to go back and get in the car and come pick him up at the back. He was so emphatic about it I almost gave in, but finally was able to convince him that it would be okay if he just came out the front with me this one time. Seems like Max and Jack aren't the only ones with some growing up to do.

Max with his Transformers lunchbox and Jack with his school book bag. Max was so excited about his new lunchbox (that he got to pick out himself), he took it his meet the teacher night the week before school.

Monday, September 22, 2008

You're Not A Woman, You're A Mom

There have been a lot of Mom Jeans sightings in my world lately, and they always make me wonder 1) how in the world we ever thought these were sexy, and 2) why do people still wear them? Why, why, why? I mean, are they really comfortable? How can they be? I hate to admit I have some photos of me wearing them back in the day, but hello, that was 1993. When we were at the Fall Festival at Max's school the other day there was more than one sighting. All I can say is these pants can make any normal, attractive woman look like she weighs at least 20 pounds more than she does, and like Jerry Seinfeld said of sweatpants, definitely send the message "World, I give up."
I was at Ikea the other day with Cha Cha Snow and saw a pair of Mom Jeans in action, and I had to ask her if she had seen the Mom Jeans Commercial from Saturday Night Live. Cha Cha had, but just in case there is anyone left on the planet who hasn't, enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's the Hap-Happiest Season Of All

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, but really, I get most excited about the autumn. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I loathe summer and I love winter, so the fall is the sign that I made it through yet another year of stifling heat and bad, big budget movies and that the cold, invigorating winter weather is close at hand. Seeing the pumpkins and the Halloween candy at the grocery store is the sure sign that fall is finally here, and takes me back to the autumns I lived in New Hampshire and Vermont where they know how to do fall right. One of my favorite memories from autumn in New England was when I was living near Hanover, New Hampshire and I was at Dartmouth College on the Saturday of the big game against Yale. The weather was sunny and crisp, the air smelled like the fresh pressed apple cider sold at farm carts along Main Street, and all the Ivy League students were wearing their school scarves and heading off to the big game. There's nothing like it here in the West, but the pumpkins and the candy are enough for me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Do Not Go Gentle : The Power of A Blog

A couple of years ago my Mom called me to tell me that a guy I grew up with, Scott Swaner, had died from pancreatic cancer. I was shocked. I had spent many of my formative years going to school and church with him, and had more than one crush on him during that time. I remember when my Dad was the Scout Master for the boys in our neighborhood my friend Jeni and I would go on some of his camping trips with my Dad just to hang out with Scott (of course he never knew that). He was cool, smart, good looking, popular, your basic nightmare of a guy to have a crush on when you are an introverted, shy, unpopular girl like I was. After high school he went off to college and got married, but then showed up at the U of U when I was working in the bookstore. He had just gone through a difficult divorce and we talked a little over the few months we worked together. Then I never heard anything about him until I got this phone call from my Mom. When someone your age dies, especially when you are 38 and trying to get your head around the idea that you are now middle aged, you take it hard. At least I did. Scott and I were never close (except maybe in my adolescent fantasies), but he was part of my upbringing, and he was no longer on the planet. I looked up his obituary in the local paper and found out he had kept a blog called Do Not Go Gentle referring to the Dylan Thomas poem. Turns out that he had used it to chronicle the last part of his life, and it was extremely powerful, not only because it detailed what it was like for him living with cancer, but also because I could hear his voice; speaking after he was gone, living on after him. I was really moved by it, and I have to say it was one of the main reasons that I wanted to start a blog. I finally did it I think because I am all too soon turning 40 and realized that hey, I might not be around forever. Maybe I'm the only one who will ever read this (along with those I force to), but I'd like to think it will go on after me, and someday that it may inspire someone the way Scott's blog inspired me.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Supermodel Shoes

You know when you want something for a really long time and when you finally get it doesn't live up to your unrealistic expectations? Well, buying my Kork Ease Platform Sandals was not one of those times. I've wanted them for more than a year now, but since they are regularly priced at $175 - $200 I thought I would never get them. I kept checking at the Sundance Catalog Outlet to see if they got in a pair at a discount, and my patience finally paid off. I got these for over 50% off. I have worn them as much as possible since I got them; I even tried to figure out a way I could wear them to yoga yesterday without looking ridiculous. I love so many things about them: the way they look, how they go with tons of my skirts and jeans, how comfortable they are. But I love them most of all because when I wear them I am almost 5' 10" tall so I can now safely say I have at least one thing in common with a supermodel.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Running The Gauntlet

I've always known how treacherous public elementary school is for kids. That's why I felt like my guts were getting pulled out on Max's first day of school. He's already been teased for having food on his face after lunch, had a boy tell him he definitely does not want to be his friend, and been picked on by a sociopathic bully. But I had no idea it could be equally perilous for full grown parents.
Things have been the most precarious at the pick up and drop off area at Max's school where apparently there are a lot of unwritten rules that I, a first time parent of a elementary schooler, am completely unaware of. One day a mother came barreling in like a bat out of hell and cut in front of me and about 15 other cars to get her children. I decided this was no good, and the next day I tried her little maneuver myself. When I saw Max come out, I pulled into an empty space, but for some reason that day everyone decided to pull forward, which left the back end of my car hanging out into the passing lane. I called to Max and told him to get in, but before he could, one of the pick up and drop off monitors came and totally chewed me out. According to her, you're not supposed to do that, but apparently you're just not supposed to get caught doing that.
To solve the problem I decided to get to school at least 10 minutes early. When I do this there are still lots of people there before me (the photo above was taken about 10 minutes before school let out), but there are still places near the front, so I pull around and move as far to the front as I can so I can get out of there ASAP. The other day another parent did the same thing and pulled in front of me, and all of a sudden I see another mother get out of her car, slam the door, and march up to the car in front of me and tell them to roll down the window. I had all my car windows closed, but I could still hear her yelling as she shook her finger and screamed about how she had been cut off and totally laid into the driver in front of all the kids coming out from school. It looks like I figured out where the sociopaths come from.

Ebay Update: The Casch Copenhagen sweater sold for $158.50 (and not to me)! Another one just like it was listed yesterday and is still at less than $20. It still may be mine...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Year of Yoga

I realized a couple of days ago that today is my one year anniversary of practicing yoga. As I mentioned in my first post on this blog that yoga has taught me that I need to slow down and notice more, but it's really taught me tons about myself, and I get a pretty good workout to boot.
I'll admit that I was first attracted to yoga because I had a fabulous coworker named Pauline who practiced yoga, and I really admired her discipline. She also looked amazing, and I wanted to look like that too. I went to a couple of classes and that was enough for me. I was 20 pounds heavier then than I am now and in terrible shape, so it was a little too hard for me. After having Jack I wanted to supplement my cardio workouts with some resistance training, and my friend Trish told me she was going to It's Yoga, and I should join her. I am so glad I did. I have to admit, I was first convinced when I met Amy, one of the owners and instructors at the studio. She's got that great yoga physique that I would love to have, and so when I saw her I said "sign me up".
The first few months were pretty frustrating. I really comitted myself to going three times a week and I was trying really hard, but it just was coming so slowly to me. I mean, I sucked. I would hang out on the back row so no one could see me and try to keep up. But I was proud of myself for trying something I was definitely not good at and sticking to it (probably because I had paid for a whole year up front). In time I saw small progressions in my ability, and I talked to a lot of people at the studio and heard that they had been practicing for years and still couldn't do some of the things I was struggling with. In time I learned to relax a bit and just go with it, and over time I think I've learned a bit about not judging myself so harshly.

I love a lot of the poses in yoga, but I have to say that I have learned the most through savasana, or corpse pose, and not only because you get to lay there and do nothing for about 5 - 10 minutes. Amy gave me a pamphlet on yoga philosophy during a one of our private classes and through reading it I learned that I needed to take that time during savasana to learn to listen (I'm a really terrible listener). I would try to take the time laying there to think of absolutely nothing but the sounds around me; the cars driving by, people breathing, the ceiling fans. I really had a breakthrough with it, and I think it helped me make some small steps to become better at listening (like Steve, who is the best listener I know).
I still have TONS to learn; in a year I feel like I've only scratched the surface It's great to feel challenged and to learn so much about myself in the process. I still don't have a perfect yoga body like Pauline or Amy. But honestly, it doesn't matter to me anymore.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fun For The Whole Family

A few weeks ago I discovered the band The Ting Tings. As you probably know, they've become super popular through the iPod commercial featuring Shut Up And Let Me Go (which is a fabulous song) and I heard a couple of their other songs at the gym, so I downloaded their album We Started Nothing. I love their retro 80's vibe, and their lead singer, Katie White, reminds me of Deborah Harry, who I adore.
When I discover a new band, so do the kids because I tend to play them incessantly on my iPod in the car. And when they listen to the same songs over and over again, they want to watch the video for them on youtube. So we were watching some Ting Tings videos the other night and found this Yo Gabba Gabba mix of their song That's Not My Name. Click and enjoy. If that didn't make your day you may need professional help.

Monday, September 15, 2008

That Green Surfer Guy We Got At The Nickelcade

Jack has always been a good sleeper until recently. More accurately, he is still a good sleeper, but he is also excellent at waking up at 4 AM and not going back to sleep. When Steve is out of town. Yes, it's painful, but let's save that one for another post.
He has always been great at going to bed. Even before he was a year old he would start crying by about 6:30 PM because he wanted to go to bed, and as soon as we laid him down in his crib he would roll over and we wouldn't hear a peep from him until morning. I give the credit to my sleep bible, but the kid just has a knack for falling and staying asleep. When we first put him into his "big boy bed" we took all the precautions and had bed rails on it and everything, but one night we heard a thud on the monitor and when I went in I found he had fallen out, but hadn't even woken up and was asleep on the floor. Oh, to sleep that well.
But he is not without his rituals. We have the typical bath and stories before bed, but for a long time he would have to have a massive menagerie of animals and toys in his bed with him to go to sleep. There was the stuffed husky dog we got him on vacation in Alaska that he calls "pesky dog", a bear named "popcorn", cars, playmobil pirates, and most importantly "That Green Surfer Guy We Got At The Nickelcade".
The green surfer guy is like the one in the photo but neon green and he got him with some skee ball tickets at the local arcade. Obviously, he is not a surfer, but rather some guy shooting something, but Jack started calling him a surfer guy because the little platform under the guy's feet looked like a surfboard to him. In our old house he would carry that green guy around with him everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. He would take it in the car, take it in the bath, take it to the park and hold it while he was climbing high playground equipment and practically give me a heart attack. And to bed. Since it is just one of those tiny plastic soldier type toys, it was always getting lost but he would not go to bed without it. So each night we would have to go searching our house for this tiny toy that Jack carried with him all day long (so it could be anywhere) or else there would be all kinds of crying and carrying on. Luckily the thing was such a bright green, so you could spot it pretty easily, but of course the night came where we couldn't find it. We tried desperately to appease him with other toys, but he kept telling us to go look for it again, so we did, and finally he fell asleep without it. And a new ritual was born. Each night he would ask again for it, we would look for it, and he would fall asleep in the process. We actually found it at one point and when I gave it to him he looked at me like I had broken some unwritten rule. I wasn't actually supposed to find the green surfer guy, just act like I was looking for it so he could fall asleep. This totally messed him up, so after that night he would ask us to look for it, and we would say we would, and that would be it. He wouldn't even let us say good night to him, we just had to assure him we were looking for the green surfer guy, then we wouldn't hear from him until the morning.
In our move I'm pretty sure the green surfer guy got lost, but the ritual lives on. Whatever gets him through the night, I say. Now we just need to convince him that the green surfer guy wants him to sleep in until 7 AM.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cold Hard Casch

Like I mentioned in my first post, one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to end my addiction to Ebay. Luckily, I've been more hooked on selling things vs. buying things lately, and I am happy to report I have made close to $2,000 in the last few months selling old clothing and jewelry items. I have to say that I am always amazed how much people will spend on my old Banana Republic sweaters and J. Crew skirts I bought during my working days. I have been spending the money on updating my wardrobe, which has been fun. I've purchased way too much from Boden and some great stuff from Anthropologie, but I had a little Ebay relapse the other day and found this gorgeous sweater:

It is from the amazing Danish clothing company Casch Copenhagen. I purchased one of their sweater coats from Anthropologie last year that I absolutely love and I saw this one and was completely smitten. One person is selling it for $189 on Ebay (it originally sold for $268), and that was too rich for my blood, but someone else just listed it and started the bidding at $0.99 and I was totally obsessed. I emailed the seller to see if she would offer a Buy It Now option, which she said she would for $170, but that was still too much for me, so I told her I would just watch it. She replied and said she has 41 people watching it when the listing had only been up 24 hours. Bummer. Of course I am still checking on it, but it looks like I won't be getting this one. I just had to share this beautiful sweater on my blog so you could squint and at try to visualize me wearing it, because this is probably the only way you will ever see me in it. Check out my restraint (we'll see if it lasts, the auction ends on September 18th).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Morning with Max

Yesterday morning I was not only lucky enough to find Sunflower Farmer's Market, but I got to spend the whole morning with Max. It was one of those extremely rare occasions when Jack had preschool but Max's school had a teacher prep day, so he was free. I asked him what he wanted to do, just the two of us, and he decided on "The Wood Park". If you haven't already been, the park is in Pleasant Grove, and is the coolest park I've ever been to. It is set up like some kind of fort and is completely made of wood (hence the name). Here's some shots:

This section of the playground is built to look like a volcano,
complete with a diagram inside showing how volcanoes work.

Rocket with blast off astronaut seats and a periscope.

A wide shot of the fort part of the park.

I know, I know, I have fully become a Mom when I'm raving about parks on a blog. So be it. This place is really amazing and full of nooks and crannies for the kids to play. Trish told me that there are rats living in the playground and people have been bitten, but I can't stop going. If I was a rat I would want to live there, so I totally get it (and I've never seen one).
It was just one of those amazing fall mornings that was sunny and cool and Max and I were the only people there for most of our visit. All he wanted me to do was follow him everywhere, which I did, and you could just see him soaking in all the attention that is usually split between him, Jack, Steve, a million household chores and errands, and the many other things I chose to spend my time on. It made me think of how great it was when he and I got to spend all day every day together when he was first born all the way up to when we had Jack 2 years and 4 months later. Those were great days, and like most things parenting related, I didn't appreciate them as much as I should of at the time. But I'm learning, I think. I feel really lucky that I have the chance to be a full time Mom, although I freely admit it would be much easier for me to have a job away from home.
I think I fully realized how lucky I was when Max was a newborn and we were living in the Avenues. Steve was gone a lot because of his commute to work and just work in general, so I had to find ways to entertain Max and myself all day. I used to walk up to the Smith's on 6th Avenue a lot to buy groceries for dinner (and really just to get out of the house) with Max in the Baby Bjorn, and one of the days I was walking home and it started raining. Max was looking up in the sky with absolute amazement (I guess everything is pretty amazing to a 6 month old), and I realized that this was the first time he had ever been in a rainstorm or felt raindrops on his face. And I got to be there for it. Now tell me, what job could compare with that?

Here's a few more pictures:

Max on the monkey bars. One of my favorite memories of him is last summer when I took him to the park and he wanted to do these and he couldn't. I was so impressed with him because instead of crying or getting mad (like I would have done at his age), he just got back up and kept trying them over and over and over again until he could do it. Now he's a pro. I love his determination, but don't appreciate it as much when he's trying to argue with me on how to pronounce words (or just about anything else for that matter).

Max and I kicking it on the tire swing. I'm so lucky to be his Mom.

We finished our morning together with a bagel from Einstein's. A chocolate chip bagel with blueberry cream cheese and chocolate milk: a lunch only a five year old could love.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Hallelujah! There's new organic market in the neighborhood that's actually worth going to. I saw the signs for Sunflower Farmer's Market going up a couple of months ago and I kept thinking I needed to stop in and check it out. But since I try to avoid University Parkway whenever possible, I kind of forgot about it. I was driving by this morning with Max and saw it was open, so I thought I'd stop for some produce for a salad. I was really pleasantly surprised because it felt like I had suddenly been transported out of Utah County and into a Whole Foods. It is probably a little smaller than the Whole Foods locations in Salt Lake, but they had a pretty good selection and I was able to find my Organic Tomato Puree I use for pizza sauce, the Snap Pea Crisps that my kids love, and English Crumpets which I usually only get at Trader Joe's when I'm in California. The best part was the prices, they were more like Trader Joe's prices instead of Whole Foods, so I was happy. They have beautiful produce (almost too beautiful and perfect looking, check out the photo), but not all of it is organic, so like in the regular market you have to double check.
They seem like they have really great specials, and they had some great looking prepared foods and bakery items. I spoke with the Produce Manager, and Sunflower Farmer's Market is a chain out of Colorado, and it has the benefits of a chain (well organized and stocked, lots of nice employees), and had the products I am often stuck to find in Provo/Orem. I still prefer Trader Joe's, but until we get one in Utah (never), I'll take it. Now we just have to see if it passes the Kirsten test, then we'll know if it's really legit. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lagoon Day

Anyone who grew up Mormon in Utah knows about Stake Lagoon Day. I grew up on them, and looked forward every year to when we got to go out to the local amusement park and come back home completely exhausted from going on the roller coaster too many times in a row and drinking too much root beer. Lagoon also has some personal significance for me because it always reminds me of when I was seven years old and they had just opened the Jet Star 2. At the time it was cutting edge roller coaster technology (mind you, this was 1976) so everyone was excited to go on it. My two older sisters were, well, older and not pantywaists like I was, and jumped right in line when we saw it. But me, I wasn't so sure. I mean, did they not see that the cars on this thing turned sideways? Did they not feel the terror of the long spiraling track that took you up to the top only to free fall (before going sideways)? I guess not, because they started teasing me and telling me I was a wimp (which I was). I wouldn't even go on the retro spook alley ride The Terroride, how could they expect me to do such a thing as go on the Jet Star 2? But something happened in me that day. For some reason, I'm not sure why, I finally decided I really wanted to go on the Jet Star 2 and I didn't want a little thing like fearing for my life to get in the way. So, I got in line. I can still feel the heart palpitations I had during what seemed like the endless wait. But then I got on, and the funny thing is, I don't even remember how I felt on the ride. All I remember is I loved it. I mean, really loved it. Enough to go on like 20+ times that day. It's funny when and where we learn some of the most important lessons of our lives, and I have to say that I still like to take my chances, even when I'm scared to death. But I still won't go on the Terroride.
So, when Max saw the pamphlet at church for Stake Lagoon Day this summer, we promised him we would take him before the summer was done. At the time we were in the middle of moving and kept putting it off, but we finally got there the Saturday before Labor Day. We tried to get out of it because it was pretty expensive, but after going, we had to admit that it was worth every penny. Here's proof:

I remember going on these boats when I was the same age as Max and Jack. They still look exactly the same. It's nice to know that some things in life never change.

Bulgy the Whale hasn't changed a bit in the last 35+ years either.

Jack and I on the Ladybug Bop. It's more scary than it sounds,
see what I mean?

Max having a thoughtful moment, wondering what it's all for...

Steve and Max on the Dragonfly. Steve gets seriously sick on these kinds of rides, so I was a little nervous when I saw him getting on with Max. Luckily he got through it without losing his breakfast.

Shots from the outside of The Terroride. Do you get it now? I have no idea who the green woman is supposed to be, but let me tell you, it's the stuff childhood nightmares are made of.

Jumping on the Blog Bandwagon

I never thought I'd have a blog. I guess it has something to do with the fact that every time I sit down to start a blog I'm exhausted by the time I've got the template and layout all done so I never get around to writing. Well, I guess it really has more to do with the fact that every time I sit down to try and write a post, I feel like I'm writing some horrid cover letter for a job I'm trying to get and I have to make myself sound good. I just bring that up because I've decided this blog is going to have nothing to do with making me or my family sound good. I'm just going to call them like I see them, and hopefully someone (other than me) will find it interesting.
This is also an attempt to make me better at a) keeping a running commentary of my family's life, b) keep in touch with my family and friends I don't see often, and c) ending my addiction to selling stuff on Ebay. I've also been inspired by my friends Mirjam and Janell, who both have blogs that I check in on regularly, as well as the queen mother of all bloggers, dooce, who I think is brilliant, but if you are easily offended, don't click that link, okay? All these people have made me realize that there are fascinating things that happen in our every day lives, and we just are too busy to see them. Hopefully this will help me slow down, which I am learning through practicing yoga, is something I'm not very good at. Well, I hope you all enjoy. On with the blog...