Tuesday, March 31, 2009

San Francisco

San Francisco is one of our new favorite places.

This is the tea gardens which is, in my opinion, the best spot in San Francisco.

This little boy was so adorable! He was jumping up and down in the puddle and as soon as his mother called him to run along he went flying and managed to scoop half of the puddle into his umbrella.

This is part of the Zen garden in the back. We each got to make our wishes. I wonder what he wished for...

Later that day we walked on the beach. We watched the kite flyers and dog walkers and we just enjoyed the pretty day.

The jellyfish were all over the beach. They made for very happy seagulls.

I need your inspiration

I'm working on trying 30 new things. Thus far, I have made it to number 16. Do you have some ideas for me?

1. Tried asparagus
2. Got an Oscar Mayer wienie whistle
3. Made origami flowers
4. Made a scarf on a loom
5. Ate at Jazmine
6. Had a kitty fixed
7. Read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
8. Had my child's blood drawn
9. Got my first mommy purse
10. Taught my son to make No-Bake cookies
11. Read Treasure Island
12. Read Just So Stories
13. Rode on an indoor Ferris Wheel
14. Wrote a Wordzzle
15. Participated in Earth Hour
16. Read by candlelight


This happened completely by accident but, oh!, how I love it! I was looking at the way the sun came through the gray clouds on a rainy day and thought it was beautiful. It crossed my mind to wonder "What happens when you take a picture of the sun?". Well, sometimes it turns the gray clouds into the most awesome shade of blue. This picture is 100% unaltered from how the camera produced it.

I love the beautiful things we find by accident! What have you surprised upon that you were wowed by?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Moby Dick

My Earth Hour activity. Moby Dick is book number 20/501 for me and I'm about 1/4 of the way through it.

What a relaxing way to read!

I'm really enjoying this copy, too. It's old enough to have that great "old book" smell. There's no printing date in the book, only a 1931 copyright. I picked it up at Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon last month which, if you've never been there, is a great treat. It's a city block of warehouses all tied together to make one great big used and new bookstore. Powell's is one of my "happy places".

Earth Hour

Sydney begins earth hour. Here's the link to the msnbc story.

And here's a link to the group that started this, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Some of the pictures already coming in are so pretty!

Tonight I will be reading a book by candlelight for the hour. I will turn off my lights and computers and will even avoid using my truck for that space of time.

Friday, March 27, 2009


On a recent blog of note, Views from the Raven's Nest, a Wordzzle challenge is posted weekly. The basic idea is to use all 10 words provided in a short paragraph (plus mini challenge words if you can). More information can be found here. I like to write something but this will be my first shared contribution. This week's words are (partition, imagination, salvation, mirror image, green power, highway, roasting marshmallows, serial killer, autograph, cartography) with a mini challenge of (cell phone, Big Mac, panther, legendary, poets corner).

I love my little girl. It's amazing that so much wisdom and freedom could be contained in one so small. It's as if, somehow, the partition in her brain that seperates true memories from her imagination has yet to form and, for her, anything really IS possible. In the little poet's corner of her brain, the part that sees everything in a quixotic kind of way, there really are fairies in the garden, green power will be the salvation of the earth in her lifetime, butterflies live forever, Big Macs are yummy AND healthy, and mommy is always beautiful. I really hope she's right about the green power thing. Somehow she's my miniature mirror image in every photograph of my childhood (you should see the charming cell phone pictures) but she absolutely cannot be constrained to the same limitations I allow myself to be bound by. Before her stretches this immutable highway of possibilities and I really admire that (perhaps I should get the autograph of this unstoppable force while I still can?). No, she isn't focused on any one thing right now but she is only 5 after all. And anyway, you know what they say: 'Not all who wander are lost'. To which I reply: 'No, many of those who wander picked cartography for a profession'. Haha, I'm so funny! Yes, I know, this kind of corny joke is just the kind of thing to make serial killers out of the nicest folks. I'll stop now. But to be serious, when I'm feeling like I don't know what to do next with my life and I catch myself worrying too much about all of the big things, I watch her total abandon at play and focus and drive in everything she does (even something so simple as roasting marshmallows or pretending to be a panther) and she reminds me that it's all of the little things that matter. This little life force is legendary and I'm eternally grateful for the way she's touched my life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ferris Wheel

On Monday I got to take a ride on an indoor Ferris wheel which I believe brings me up to new thing #13. When you get all the way to the top and look out the window in front of you there is a very pretty skyline view of Reno. Sadly I was not allowed to take my purse with me and had no camera to get a shot but you'll trust me that it was pretty, won't you?

This was the first time I've been in Scheel's and I'll have to bring the kids next time. In addition to the Ferris wheel there is a play structure for the kids to climb on, fresh and saltwater fish tanks you can walk under part of, virtual batting cages and more. So it's a sporting store and a fun center in one. Pretty neat.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Starts

This is my mother many moons ago. Isn't she pretty? I plan to have this printed out and put up on my wall.

I'm ready for spring! The winter felt like it came early last year and has just lasted for so long. We just had snow on Sunday (little flurries) but the nice warm weather keeps peeking back in again. The spring is winning.

A new spring, and I feel like I'm ready for fresh starts. Many people have the need to make New Year's resolutions but I feel like spring is really the perfect time for it. Everything is fresh and washed clean in the rain. The new flowers are starting to bloom, grass is poking up. It's like Gaia is making resolutions each spring to beautify the world and begin again. Why not join her?

Since this isn't New Year I think I shouldn't call them resolutions, though. More like my 'Spring Starts'. I'm going to finish my 30 new things (I have one to post later tonight). I'm going to lose at least 20 pounds by years end (with this beautiful weather I have no excuse not to go walking/hiking). I'm going to clean up my garage this month. And I'm going to learn to effectively use Photoshop because I am in awe of so many beautiful pictures out there and I want to learn how they did some of that. Have any 'Spring Starts' of your own?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cheerful flowers

So, I was having a "lovely" day today, as I mentioned. So my boyfriend, greatest boyfriend ever, brought me flowers and girl scout cookies to cheer up my day. Now I actually AM having a lovely day. Thank you so much!

Another pot of tea

Father: ~ I wish your mother were here, God rest her soul, she'd know what to say.
Daughter: ~ "Put on another pot of tea", that's what she'd say. The Irish answer to all problems.
Father: ~ Well, it worked most of the time.
(From the movie Must Love Dogs)

Oh, those lovely stressful days... Don't you love the days when you wake up and then later think "Why? What DID I do that for?" Okay so maybe it's not that bad but for a little while here it's feeling like it. So my answer is 1)pause for just a moment 2)breathe 3)make some more tea. I'm on my umpteenth cup for the day but it does indeed help. Breathe in the aroma of chamomile and peppermint and relax. The smell of Bigelow Sweet Dreams tea instantly transports me back to evening cups of tea with my mother and calms me instantly... Okay, maybe just ONE more cup.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mmm, the smell of books!

This is my attempt at a self portrait. I'm still trying to figure out how to effectively use my point and shoot so bear with me.

I took this photo in a Virginia City bookstore. I love the way they named their book section!

I immensely enjoy the smell of old books. I'm not sure what chemical they used in making them but books, especially 1960ish and prior, smell so lovely! It immediately brings to mind every cherished book and adventure in my collection. Which book is your favorite?

My latest reads in my 501 books are Treasure Island and Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. I saw the movie Treasure Planet with my kids which, obviously, is an adaptation of the book, minus the more bloody bits so the basic plot line was already familiar. Maybe I'm too jaded by other pirate stories with what seems like a deluge of them in the last few years (no complaints here, I love those) but this particular book, while good, is not going to be in my favorites list as a book that stands out from the rest.

This was my second attempt at the Just So Stories. (To clarify, I didn't finish it the first go-round for lack of time, not because I didn't like it.) The tales are very similar to the ideas many of us parents concoct to satisfy the constant streams of "why" and "how" from our children to explain the things we have no explanations for. (And secretly we hope they'll immediately forget some of these explanations as soon as they're told so they won't be repeated to school teachers who know better.) If you want to read it without buying a hard copy here's an online link: Just So Stories.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Slow Down, Breathe, and Smell the Roses

Wow, people are in a hurry lately! Yes, often that includes me but I've saw a couple things yesterday encouraging me to slow down. Yesterday, while making a left turn with the light a woman in a BMW didn't stop at the light, or even slow down. Luckily we swerved and she didn't hit us. Was she trying to beat a yellow light (with no chance of making it) or did she not see that it had turned red? Was the one minute that she was going to "save" be THAT important?

Last night, while making the interchange between I-395 and I-80 (commonly called the "Spaghetti Bowl" by locals for it's design) there was a semi with 2 trailers that was going too fast and the second trailer flipped over on it's side. The lane was blocked off, lots of State patrol cars managing the accident and all I could wonder is what made that one minute of time so important that he couldn't slow down?

A few months back, driving down I-395 the traffic suddenly slowed down. Cars in the middle lane were moving to the right and left. As I got up behind the problem I saw a car had stopped in the middle lane with a flat tire. There was a Les Schwab tire truck behind it so I thought, okay, at least they're getting help. No, sadly, the Les Schwab truck was ALSO just trying to get around the car. So I pulled my truck over and went back. There was a girl, roughly 18 or 19 who had gotten a flat tire and didn't know what to do. So she stopped. In the middle of a 3 lane freeway... I told her to go ahead and pull her car over to the shoulder but unfortunately while sitting there her car ran out of gas (apparently she was on her way to the gas station). So I flagged down 2 pickups that had a couple guys in it (almost got in front of them to stop them) and told them to help us push her to the shoulder. They got her onto the left shoulder and then they left... She's practically a kid and she's scared and no one is helping her.

So I decided I'd help her change the tire and then we could go get her some gas. Mind you, we're on the left shoulder. As in, next to the fast lane. I've never changed a tire and of course neither had she but it didn't look that hard. So we got started. About then the State Trooper pulls up (he had gotten a call about a stalled vehicle). He can't help us change the tire because it's department policy or something but at least he blocked half of the fast lane with his vehicle so we wouldn't die. We got the tire changed and we got her some gas. She was on her way.

And I wondered. Hundreds of people had passed her. They had seen us struggling to change a tire in the middle of traffic at lunch time. And the only souls who had stopped to help at all were the guys who I made stop and told them to help (not exactly voluntary) and the Trooper for whom it was his job. Where were these people going in such a hurry that they couldn't stop to help someone or at least see if she needed to borrow their cell phone to call for help? What is wrong with people today?

In the last two years I have picked up a woman and her daughter who were stranded when their car broke down. I have lent my cell phone to a few people in accidents. I stopped twice in one day when people had accidents in the snow on a highway in Oregon and no one else would stop to help or direct traffic when traffic in both directions was trying and failing to share a single open lane. When we had a huge snow storm here a few years ago many people started getting stuck every time they used a side street because the city couldn't keep the streets cleared so I carried a shovel in my van to help get them out.

I just think that it's so sad that everyone is too busy to help others for a few minutes of their time. So please, whatever you're doing today, stop and smell roses. Help someone who looks like they could use it. Even just smile at a stranger and say hello as you walk by. It's amazing what kind of a difference that moment can make.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Beautiful Day To Play

Just a couple quick shots from our day:


Today is my momiversary. 8 years ago this very day is when my half-pint, Joseph, and I became an us.

He informed me this morning that he does not feel 8. In fact, he feels and looks like he's 7. But maybe tomorrow he will feel like he's 8 so that'll be his birthday, okay mom? Despite my assurances to the contrary he is convinced that this cannot possibly be his birthday. I think it's adorable that he doesn't yet understand that time marches on, no matter our preferences.

I love you, little man!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Think He Says "Hello"

A friend passed away last October. We had been working together for a year and a half and I had come to see him as a big brother. He looked out for me at work, knew when I was having a hard time in my personal life, and was willing to go "have a talk" with someone if need be and get it all sorted out. He was the center of our group at work, the one who tied us all together.

He gave a lot of crap but you knew he didn't mean it as anything more than a joke. I have a coffee cup that I rinse out everyday and I give it an actual wash every once in a while. Another co-worker was horrified I hadn't washed it and was chasing me and my coffee cup with a bottle of dish soap and a scrubby. My friend yelled out "That's right! You wash that dirty hippy!" After that I was known as "dirty hippy". If he hadn't given you a nickname he didn't like you. I felt accepted.

I was looking at some old videos I had taken where a few of us were doing something stupid. He can be heard in the background making fun. I like to play it to hear his voice. Sometimes I'll here someone talking at work over the cubicle walls and for a minute it sounds like him. For that tiny little moment history is not true and a great friend is not gone.

He and I and another coworker were on an on-call rotation of 3 weeks. Our schedule has been adjusted to 2 weeks but I still haven't deleted the outlook reminder for his turn at on-call. Every 3 weeks I'm reminded that it's his turn. This morning I was looking for something in my IE favorites menu and there is a link to his twitter page. He made an update the day before he went into the hospital and it is now immortalized in the ether of the internet. Every now and then these reminders are there to tell me that wherever he went, my friend says "hello".

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Girls and Tools

Ok, yes, I am a girl. I get that. But seriously!?!

I went into Home Depot to get some lumber for a project. I'm building storage over the garage door. I figured why not use the 2' of wasted space? I didn't see 2x2 in anything but an 8' length and I wanted 10' so I asked the guy in lumber. I honestly think that if he had called me sweetheart one more time I might have punched him, no kidding! To give you an idea: Imagine you were playing a drinking game where every second time he called me sweetheart you took a shot. ONLY every SECOND time. You would have gone to the ER with alcohol poisoning.

They only carry 8' (otherwise special order) so I did some quick math and figured out how to do this with 8' 2x2s and 10' 2x4s instead. I started to load what I wanted and he insisted he help me. According to him I had the wrong kind of cart. It will work for what I'm doing, it's a lumber cart. So he takes my cart and brings back a different one. I didn't grab that cart he brought because it's harder to steer. I liked the one I had, thanks. Then he starts grabbing warped boards and I just had to put them right back. Did he take the hint? No, sweetheart, he didn't. He tried to go get me a ladder. I don't need one, thanks. I'm almost 6' tall, I think I can reach (the boards were at chest height). He tried to get me a ladder again. When he finally gets that I don't want a ladder (I told him four times) he tells me "well don't let them hit you in the head". Um, I wasn't planning on it, but thanks for the advice...? And this whole time he's complaining that he is alone today, no one else in his department. So why is he following me everywhere!?

Now I need to get brackets. Leave me alone yet? No! And he tries to get me to buy crap that is wrong for my project because he can't find what I'm looking for. I know they make it so you can go away and I'll just look for it, ok?

I go over to buy screws and he tries to sell me 3" screws. No, I need 3.5". "Well, no, because drywall screws don't come that long". Fine, I'll buy deck screws but I still have to make it through a 2x4, drywall, and still get into the studs enough to matter. If I use 3" screws the whole thing may come crashing down when I put anything heavy up there and probably take out my garage door in the process. I'm pretty handy with tools but a garage door is beyond my ability to replace so I think I'll do it my way. Ok, sweetheart?

He also said that I could make this much simpler by making my openings in 2' increments. Yes, yes I could. But 34" is the width of 2 rubbermaids and a stud with a little wiggle room so that the rubbermaids slide easily. I am building this project with actually using the space effectively in mind. K? "Well, you could just slide one in behind the stud and then put the other one up." Yup, but then I have to take down two rubbermaids to get what I want and then put one back. That's two extra trips up the ladder instead of just building it right in the first place.
Oh yeah, and he also told me that I'm going to need a power drill for this and that I need to drill pilot holes. Really!?! I had NO idea, thank you SO much!

Then, after all of that... "Is your husband here to help you load this?". OMFG!!! Ok, either you actually think that I can't lift a 2x4 (heaviest thing I bought) or you are hitting on me. Either way, AAAAHHHHHH! Go away! So $100 and a whole lot of angry later I finally got my stuff home and got the project started. Why does this have to happen every time?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm Big-Little

I'm one of 6 kids. I have a half brother (who's 17 years older than me) and 4 sisters (who are 11, 10 and 7 years older and 1 year younger). My mother often got the names of the girls all mixed up so she'd end up calling you by everyone else's name (and the dog's) before she got to you. So when she was mad at me it sounded something like "Lorie..Heidi..Sharie...Lisa...Nike...Sara!" So to help keep it straight she nicknamed us by age. We were the Big-Big, Little-Big, Middle-Middle, Big-Little, and Little-Little. I, being the older of the two "little" ones, am the Big-Little. For brevity we are also called BB, LB, MM, BL, and LL. Mom used to joke that wouldn't it be funny to put our names on t-shirts but my oldest sister, being, um, well endowed, refused to wear a shirt that said Big-Big and my younger sister who was less blessed at the time didn't want to wear a shirt saying anything like Little-Little. I wonder how my shirt would have been interpreted? Hmmm...

I think it's pretty funny that I'm the Big-Little and I live in Reno, the "Biggest Little City". Haha!

Below is what I imagine the shirts would look like. I threw in my Aquarius symbol for fun. Maybe I'll do something like this for Christmas... Want to try your own t-shirt design out? I just did a quick google search for custom shirt and I made this image at the website below.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I borrowed an idea from an older sister today and taught one of my kiddos to make No-Bake cookies, another first. We made two pans of them in old fashioned circles and then dyed the rest with green food coloring and made a 4-leaf clover for St Patty's day.

A no-bake cookie, in case you've not had the pleasure of making them, is a cookie you boil, not bake. Hence the name. They include 8 total ingredients and take very little time to make. When I was a kid my little sister and I weren't allowed to use the oven when no one else was home but the stove was okay so these were the only cookies we could make ourselves. And we made them all the time.

The best no-bake cookies I ever had:

When I was growing up my mother was a single mother and often worked late or graveyard shifts making ends meet. As a result things sometimes were a little hard to squeeze in and one year (I'm guessing I was in middle school?) I didn't have a birthday cake. It wasn't a huge deal but I was a little bit disappointed. So while I was in my room reading my little sister Lee made two batches of no-bake cookies and made my initials out of them (one batch each for the first and last initial) and stuck candles in it. This is still one of the top presents anyone has ever given me.

There are several variations on the recipe but here's the recipe I use if you'd like to try them out:

No Bake Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a sauce pan and boil for one to two minutes*. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Stir in the oats.

*I boil at a full boil for 1.5 minutes. Too long and the cookies are really dry, too short and they won't harden into a solid cookie but will stay mushy.

Mommy Bag

Today I broke down and bought a mommy purse. I have, up until now, stubbornly resisted buying a large bag because it's just one more place to fill with things I don't need. I've always had very nice, small purses. I've actually been stopped and asked how I could manage to have such a small purse with 3 kids. Twice even. But today I did it. Now I can carry children's medicine with me and won't have to stop at a store when we're out somewhere because I didn't bring any. Now whatever book I'm reading at the time (currently Treasure Island) and my journal can be carried in my purse. And now when I'm short on money I can clean out my purse and discover, like, $30 in change because it's been that long since I cleaned it out, along with 3 half rolls of rolaids and 4006 pens, just like my mom (I love you, Mom!).

Allergic to School

So, my middle child is apparently allergic to school. He's 6 and in kindergarten. Yesterday around 11 he broke out with what appears to be hives. They took him to the office and it went away so they sent him back to class. I got a call at 1 that it was back but by the time his dad got to school it was mostly gone. He had one more round right before dad picked him up from school. By the time I picked him up from his dad's house it was mostly gone and it didn't come back again last night. This morning we were at the school for no more than 10 minutes and he broke out again. This time it was a rash and hives on his arms and legs and a little on his chest (more than yesterday). He's been at this school since he was 4 and nothing environmental has changed... At least it's just a skin reaction and not a respiratory one.

The doctor said we may never know what exactly it is but he decided to run some blood tests just to rule a couple things out. Hopefully we'll know about that in a couple of hours. In the meantime my half-pint is home for today for observation. I'll have to see if he breaks out again when we pick his sister up this afternoon.

I took my kiddo to have blood drawn today. So, I guess that's another first, though not one I'd want. Wish us luck!

*** Update: The doc said that all tests are normal so most likely his body is fighting off the latest virus going around (he's the only one that hasn't had it) and his body is, of all things, allergic to the virus. This too shall pass. ***

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Books! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Tonight I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I've seen the movie in both versions (I like the older version WAY more). It's a little surprising I've never read this book before, not only because it's good and I like the movies but also because Roald Dahl is my number 1 favorite children's author.

Among my other favorites of his books are The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), Matilda, The Witches and George's Marvelous Medicine. For those of you noticing that 3 books mentioned so far are movies, he also wrote James and the Giant Peach (a cute movie but much better book). I also own The Roald Dahl Treasury which has many of his short stories.

I like seeing what's different between each version of the movie and the book. For instance, none of the 3 have quite the same ending. No, I'm not going to spoil it here. Go read it, only 162 very quick pages and I picked it up in a used book store for only $2.50.

Finishing this book adds to another one of my goals as well. Currently I am going through a book called 501 Must Read Books and this marks the 17th book I can cross off. Books are categorized by genre (Children's, Sci Fi, Fiction, History, Memoirs, etc) and authors aren't usually mentioned twice. I've found many of my favorites in the list and read some new favorites as a result of this book. Life of Pi is a gem I discovered in this process. I highly recommend that book to anyone.

For anyone who's interested, here are the books I've finished thus far:

Life of Pi
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Little Women
Adventures of Huck Finn
Anne of Green Gables
Catcher in the Rye
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Secret Garden
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Where The Wild Things Are
A Wrinkle in Time
The Last Unicorn
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
A Christmas Carol