Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yes, Laura, There Is A Santa Claus

The other day I got up totally exhausted from all the Christmas festivities and business and looked on my kitchen counter and saw this:

Okay, like I said in the last post, I cry at EVERYTHING, but this really got to me. A couple of weeks ago Jack was asked to write a letter to Santa as part of his homework, and I figured, hey, why not mail it. Really, I had no idea they have some nice person in the post office mailing stuff back. It was just a form letter, but had Jack's name hand written and a hand written Santa signature, and I thought, like I do every year, why we try to keep the tradition alive. And I guess it got to me specifically because this year Max asked me one day "Mommy, is Santa real"? And guess what I did. I FLAT OUT LIED and said yes. Without hesitation. And I still don't even feel bad about it. And then I wonder why such a blatant lie would cause no guilt at all, and I realized that I want them, so desperately, to believe in Santa. I want them to believe that there really is good in the world, and sometimes we do get stuff just for being good. Even if we're only good once in a while.

And, that, I think is true.

But when I think of this Santa deceit every year, I can't help but think of one of my favorite Christmas stories ever, "The H Street Sledding Record" by Ron Carlson. It reminds me how important it is to keep the dream alive.

Just for some background, I grew up on the very H Street Ron Carlson is talking about in the story, so it has always had special significance to me. But I also adore Ron Carlson, who also grew up in Salt Lake City, and was the Artist For The Schools (or something like that) when I was taking creative writing in high school. I remember just being so in awe that this guy got to WRITE STORIES FOR A LIVING, and remember writing a somewhat mediocre story in an attempt to impress him. But the best part was when I ran into him a couple of years later while I was working at Mrs. Backer's Pastry Shop and he said he remembered a line he liked from my story. I could have died and gone to heaven right then and there. Years later, at a signing, I bought the short story collection, The News of The World, which includes "The H Street Sledding Record," and he signed it for me, saying he remembered me, but I had my suspicions he was only trying to make a sale by that point. Here's the title page:

I love this story because it brought back a lot of childhood nostalgia when I first read it, but now that I have my own kids, it has moved to a whole new level. And so, even though I am probably breaking a million copyright laws by doing so, I scanned it in to share on my blog. Just promise me you won't print it out, photocopy it, and sell it on a street corner somewhere, okay? My kids don't need to grow up visiting me in the state pen. Anyway, if you haven't read it before, here it is (click each page to make them large enough to read).

What can I say, this story just fills me with all kinds of hope.

I hope you enjoy it.

I hope that the legal team at Norton won't shut me down.

And, most of all, I hope you will be doing your own form of shoveling manure on your roof for years to come.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Nutcracker is Sweet

This morning I woke up still on a Christmas high, and totally exhausted, from our visit to Salt Lake for the Nutcracker, including a backstage visit to see the dancers and sets, a carriage ride around Temple Square to see the lights and sing carols, and a dinner at The Roof restaurant overlooking downtown Salt Lake and the beautiful Christmas lights.It was a beautiful night, and so nostalgic for me. I spent many Christmases going to the Ballet West production of The Nutcracker, and was really excited to take the boys for the first time, but I was totally unprepared for my reaction. I have admitted that I cry at just about anything, but I started to tear up as soon as I walked into the doors of the Capitol Theater, and then had to hold back the tears through about the whole first half of the ballet, watching the boys rapt faces as they watched the magical moments of The Mouse King, The Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and, the favorites, Mother Buffoon and The Russian Dancers. Thanks to Alison for having the idea to go and make a day of it. Here's a few (bad) photos taken with iPhones since we forgot our camera.

I love the Capitol Theater. So beautiful.

Steve and Max gearing up for the show.

Jack was getting excited for the show to start...

...Ivy was too.

Cha Cha, Me and Max waiting to hear those opening notes of the overture.

Scenes from the production. Stolen from the Internet.

At the Sugar Plum Fairy Party after the show the kids got to see the dancers, eat some treats, have their picture taken with some of the cast, watch a magician, see some of the sets on the stage, and get their very own nutcracker ornament. The best $5 I've spent in a LONG time.

Zoe and Ivy on the train after the show.

Me, Jack, Alison and Ivy on a very bumpy carriage ride around Temple Square.

The view from our table at the restaurant. Also stolen from the Interweb.

Alison in the glow of the Salt Lake Temple from The Roof restaurant. I cropped myself out of this one because I looked as tired as I felt.

Such a wonderful night, and such a great addition to our Christmas season. Even thought I never in a million years wanted to end up in Utah, I am so glad I get to share these childhood traditions to my kids and friends. To me, that's what Christmas is all about.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another One Of Those Sappy Song Dedications

One day I was just folding the laundry listening to my iPod when this song came on. Not a strange occurrence if, a) I had of downloaded it myself, and b) if it wasn't one of my long, lost favorite songs. And Steve downloaded it on there without telling me, and without knowing it was one of my favorite, long lost songs. Such a pleasant surprise. Seriously, is there a better, more joyful love song out there? And it reminds me of Steve, and not only because of his covert downloading of it on my iPod. I'll leave it at that so you don't have to deal with too much sap.

Really, try to forgive Phil Collins for all that stuff he did in the eighties, and give it a listen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Michelle & Cindy

When Alison and I went to Seattle in October an amazing thing happened.

We were shopping in the Free People store, and I was trying on a great skirt and sweater, and when I walked out of the dressing room to show Alison, I looked over and there was another woman trying on the exact same thing. We both laughed and got to talking and it turned out that this other woman was on a girls trip with her friend as well, and they both had two kids each, and were out to have some kid-free fun. Well, after a few minutes talking like we had all been friends forever, we decided that we had to take advantage of the coincidence and decided to hang out. Thus our weekend in Seattle with Michelle and Cindy began.

We got lost in the International District looking for an awesome restaurant recommended to my by my friend Lara who used to live in Seattle, and then spent time kicking around the Fremont Market with them. It was so much fun, and such a great chance to meet two cool new friends.

A belated thanks for the great weekend Michelle and Cindy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jingle Bells or My House on A Tuesday Afternoon

The holidays are coming, you can feel it in the cold, winter air, the Christmas lights, the busy stores, and all the baked goods and chocolate that seem to be mysteriously making their way into my kitchen (okay, I may have something to do with that). But the true sign of Christmas, above any other, is hyper kids (okay, the chocolate and baked goods may have something to do with that). Here's what a bunch of them look like at my house on a Tuesday afternoon:

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 29, 2010


When I was living in London I saw a black cab with an Amsterdam ad on the side that said "Amsterdammit!," and I've been wanting to use it ever since. And now, ten years later, my time has finally come.

I guess I'm just doing some catch up with all we did in the past year, and I realized that I totally missed our time in Amsterdam. So sad, considering that Amsterdam is my favorite city in all the world. A new addition since my last visit was the Iamsterdam sign on the Museumplein. Not only is it clever, it looks cool and was a great place for the kids to play. Well, that and the half pipe where they made quite a few new Dutch friends.

I was surprised how much fun Amsterdam was with the kids. I had only ever been there with grown-ups before, but there was a ton of fun for kids (including a great play center called Tun Fun). Steve and I are planning on returning this spring for a performance of one of his pieces, and while I am looking forward to going to nice restaurants and staying up late (as well as sleeping in a bit), I will miss the bike rides in the Vondelpark and hanging out on the Museumplein with Max and Jack.

Well, maybe just a little bit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's So Funny, How I Don't Blog Anymore...

Oh, the reasons, there are many, including a stressful summer (more about that in a minute), school starting, a Halloween party that pretty much took over my life for, like, a month, and then 23 people for Thanksgiving, and now that whole Christmas thing lurking over my shoulder.


So, I want to be back at it. I want to share. Even if you'd rather not read what I have to share. So there you go. It's all about me, I guess.

So, back to my stressful summer. I just want to get it out there, be done with it, move on. Basically, I had some health concerns while we were living in France last year. I would have these strange muscle spasms and, for the first time in my life, was dealing with anxiety at an almost debilitating level. I was still functioning and getting everything done that I had to do, but I would wake up at night with a racing heartbeat and fear of nothing and everything at the same time. It wasn't pretty. But I love Paris, and the students, and our experience there, and I chalked up the aches and pains and panic attacks to a absolutely crazy year.

For those of you just joining us, let's recap what I experienced in the span of about 9 months or so. First, we FINALLY finished building our house, and let me tell you, building a house has been one of the most trying experiences of my life. And one of the most amazing opportunities. But the time August rolled around and the moving trucks pulled up with the last boxes, I was spent. And just a month before that we found out we were going to be moving to Paris for a few months, which was amazing, but, as you can imagine, a little stressful. I tried to do too much, and the fall was filled with me running from one place to the next trying to fit in my regular life stuff with additional French classes and getting our house organized and then packed up to leave again.

Oh, and then there was the pneumonia. So much fun. And almost a year ago to the day we were taking off to San Francisco to get our French visas, with me still on antibiotics, Max getting over the stomach flu, and all of us limping along feeling things had to get better.

They did, and Paris was also one of the most trying times of my life and one of the greatest opportunities. Seems to be a running theme here.

Anyway, back to the health issues. I got back home and decided that if I didn't feel better I was going to go see my doctor and find out what might be up. Well, she ran some tests, and they came back "funny," (and I don't mean ha ha), so she said to wait 8 weeks and then take them again. So, two months of worry and then I took them again, and they still came back SLIGHTLY POSITIVE (whatever that means) and she wanted me to see a specialist. Well, to make a long story even longer, I had to wait for over two months to get into see a rheumetologist, and when I finally did, guess what? He wanted to run more tests. So, three more weeks of waiting.

Needless to say, I've learned a lot about patience in the past year.

Finally, the day came to get my FINAL ANSWER on the tests, and I knew they feared I had Lupus, which is a terrible and debilitating disease. Steve and I went to see the doctor together, and he told us that I didn't have Lupus (big sigh of relief), but he ran a genetic test on a hunch, and found out I have a genetic disorder that causes me to have a type of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis that I've probably been suffering from since my late 20's or early 30's. And it could be treated with simple anti-inflammatory. I never thought I'd be happy the hear I have arthritis, but I was overjoyed to find out what the problem really was and that it could be treated.

So, after my diagnosis, thing have been looking much better. I am actually seeing some huge improvements in my neck and shoulders that I thought were just the ABC's of being me, but have almost disappeared due to the medication I'm taking. And while I do feel a bit geriatric taking arthritis medication, I'm feeling better than I have in years.

So there. That's the reason. Really, I just didn't want to talk about it, but now I have and, luckily, things weren't too serious, and I can move on. I do have to say thank you to all my friends and family who were a support to me while I was going through the hellish waiting this summer. I couldn't have done it without you.

So, look for more posts, I am planning to make them as often as possible, hopefully every day before long. I really do miss acknowledging the simple, beautiful things in my life, like the paper star I started this post with.

I bought them 10 years ago in a outdoor market in York, in the United Kingdom, and I love them, and have made them a part of my Christmas decorations every year. They make me happy, like so many other simple things in my amazing life.

And I just wanted to share.

And I want to share much more in the many days to come.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sleeping in Seattle

I don't know what it is about my birthday, but it always makes me want to get out of town. So, this year, I went to Seattle with my wonderful friend Alison, and it was just about the best birthday trip ever. We chose Seattle because it was the cheapest flight we could get to a place Alison had never been, but it was such a good choice. It had been over 15 years since I had been, and I forgot how much I love it. After my first visit back in the 90's I was ready to move there, and even applied for a few jobs (which didn't pan out), so I guess it just wasn't in the cards. But luckily I can still visit, eat fantastic food, and shop to my heart's content. Check it out.

My birthday breakfast, Eggs Benedict with crab and avocado. Great way to start the celebration.

Signs of fall in the city.

On the ferry to Banbridge Island (a.k.a obligatory tourist shot).

Lunch at the Streamliner Diner.

Wall of gum at the Market Theater in Post Alley.

It had to be done.

Pike Place.

Shopping is F-U-N.

The craziest balloon animal maker I've ever seen. Seriously, click this image to enlarge to see what I mean.

Table of tags from a million past gas station workers. And, amazingly, no Max in the bunch.

Nature's perfect food, falafel. Not quite as good as it was in Paris, but the best I've had in the US.

Happy Birthday to me!