Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We made it!

Day 91: Dec. 17, 2013

To post or not to post on vacation? I very well might not write one post while I'm on Holiday with my husband's family (except this one.)  I'm so tired right now from waking up at 3:30 to catch a 5:30 flight out of Eugene. It was not bad. Our flights were on time, smooth, easy. Our luggage over whelming. Our kids very well behaved overall. In all of the airports, our gates were next to playgrounds, hello, thank you. I slept about 4 hours last night, and my husband zero hours, so between us, we were zombies. The kids persevered in trying to have long conversations with us on the plane despite our unresponsive tendencies. We made it though, and the kids are asleep, and tomorrow I get to go to a yoga class!

Coffee: One today in the airport.

Watercolor: Tomorrow I go shopping for new paper and possibly new brushes. My supplies are so harried and I didn't bring the one piece of WC paper I had left, so I'm off the hook for now.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Big and Beautiful

Day 90: Dec. 15, 2013

I had some cool dreams last night. The first was about an enormous, beautiful house. A house that is owned by my very large extended family and has been in the family for many generations. I saw the house there in my dream, and I was pantomiming with a friend about the best way to throw a party there. (There was no talking in the dream.)

The next dream involved the house I live in now, sort of. My husband and I were admiring our home's interior, and realized there were rooms in it we had never seen before. We became curious about these mysterious rooms, and continued to explore. We found cute nooks with bright windows, a cute entrance area that we thought was exceptionally well laid out, and then, an entire kitchen we didn't realize we had. It dawned on us that we had an apartment in our house that we could rent out! We had not known this before, and what a boon!

I am a dreamer. I dream often. Sometimes the dreams are vivid, sometimes vague, but usually I wake up with a feeling. Like this morning, I woke up and felt right away that both houses were telling me that I feel strong and beautiful and open. Like I'm willing to share myself (which makes sense, I've been doing this for a while now, for better or for worse.)  Ok, but there is a part of the second dream I haven't told you yet. It was actually super weird and gross, hence my hesitation. It was in the kitchen. Left over food on the counters, and (close your eyes,) ants that were disassembling the food then in a moment reassembling it. Weird. It was sandwiches. I mean, I don't always do the dishes right away. I usually do, but I think yesterday, there was food on the counter for a while since it was Saturday and we were rushing to get out of the house.

Ok, here's and idea: this blog is making me feel all open and willing to let people in (although we're talking about an apartment for RENT,) but at the same time its getting me all mixed up and reassembled over and over.  I don't know. I could go on and on, but that could be awkward. Maybe its that I'm supposed to make money writing this blog. Yes, that must be it. My husband will be so pleased.

Either way, I love a good dream that keeps me thinking.

Coffee: None. How is that possible?


Tire Swing

Day 89: Dec. 14, 2013

The power went out last night just as I was sitting down to write! So, this is all I got for yesterday.  Today's post will come soon!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Movie Memories

Day 88: Dec. 13, 2013

It's Friday the thirteenth. I used to watch scary movies on this day as a kid. One thing I am pleased about in my life is that I never again have to watch another scary movie. No movies about masked men with chain saws, or kids romping around in the woods worried about weird crap happening. I'll see an add on tv for a scary movie, and I practically giggle with glee at the thought that I will never see that movie! I will never sit through two hours of blood, killing, suspense, gross monsters, weird crap happening. Somehow, in middle school when Friday the thirteenth rolled around, I always found myself at this or that person's house watching Freddy or graveyard movies, or I can't even remember them anymore.  Although I couldn't articulate it then, somewhere deep in the recesses of my body, I knew this scary movie watching activity was not for me.  I just grinned and bore it. Even if it was Friday the thirteenth. Or Halloween.

And now that it's the Christmas season, its time to watch my most beloved movie, which is like a friend to me, the one movie I can recite many of the scenes verbatim: When Harry Met Sally. I know, many of you are shaking your heads, fake vomiting, vowing never to read another post as long as you live.  I will die loving this movie. I will watch it at least 1000 more times before I die, and I will refer to it in my mind more than that when trying to figure out what to do with my emotions. One of my favorite scenes is when Harry and Sally are in Sharper Image checking out the karaoke machine. Harry's singing Surry with a Fringe on Top and Helen (Harry's ex-wife) walks in with Ira (her new man.) Harry stops while Sally keeps on singing and finally into the microphone, she asks him what's wrong? and he says, "it's Helen," and she says, "Helen?" for the whole store to hear. I love that scene! I love all of the scenes.

I love how the little old couples sit on the couch and describe how they met each other. "I went up nine extra floors just to keep talking to her. Nine extra floors." I find myself saying that in my head every time I'm on an elevator. Or the little Asian couple whose marriage was arranged, but the man wanted to see her first. So he snuck over to the next "willage" and thought she looked really nice, so it was ok. And they'd been married 65 years, or something.

Unfortunately, I do not own this movie. I will have to rent it yet again this year. They don't let you stream it instantly on netflix, the bastards. Maybe its because its so good they know people will go the extra mile to get their hands on it.

Coffee: Today was a GREAT day! No treacherous driving. The snow has melted. Schools were open (of course my kids don't go to school on Fridays.) Nevertheless, the wait is over, and we're back to normal. Phew!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Snow, Snow, Go Away, Come Again, Another Day (Not.)

Day 87: Dec. 12, 2013

I have a thirty minute window to write something. Should be enough time, right? But, this snow situation is getting me all agitated. And my mind can't seem to focus on any one idea for more than two minutes. Today is Dec. 12, and since Nov. 23, our local schools have been open for three days. Snow days, Thanksgiving break (a week,) furlough and teahcer conference days have kept the schools closed all the other days. And my kids decided when it was 2 degrees not to sled anymore. Now its 32 degrees, there's plenty of good snow on the ground and I'm stuck inside with perfectly happy kids running around the house playing all kinds of bizarre games invloving imaginary cars, baby dolls, animals, monsters, etc. Its not bad. Really. Its great that they can play well together. I'm going insane, however.

I think its the not knowing what's going to happen that is my down fall. I allow my mind to wander to the possiblitly that I'll have a few hours to myself the next day. I see visions of writing in quiet, picking up my symphony music, having a clean house for more than thirty seconds, finishing some Christmas shopping. I get to the point where I'm sure school will open.  After all, the weather website says 39 degrees! I allow myself to plan. BAD IDEA. HORRIBLE IDEA. Because, then I'm so crushed when I see on the website that due to weather conditions, the schools will be closed AGAIN.

And we have it good compared to a lot of folks who are dealing with broken pipes, although my husband just informed me that we have water coming in our bedroom window. I better go back there to see if he needs any help. Afterall, my mind is in a tizzy.

Coffee: None today. The world is all askew.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Day 86: Dec. 11, 2013

Today my kids and I were eating burritos in our favorite burrito restaurant. We were discussing the spanish words for colors. I've been learning spanish while driving in the car to and from Symphony rehearsal. I borrowed the Pimsleur language learning CDs from the library, and I'm getting better. Mi casa es roja. My house is red. This is something we discussed today.

Coffee: I enjoyed a coffee at the library today before seeing a very adorable production of the Nutcracker danced by a youth ballet group.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chocolote Milk Snatchers

Day 84: Dec. 10, 2013

It is 2:00 in the afternoon, and the only sound I hear is the hum of the dishwasher. Both of my children are asleep. This means that both of my children will be doing the hokey pokey at 10 pm this evening instead of sleeping.

Earlier today, while I was outside for 10 minutes trying to shovel frozen goat pee, the kids were inside, having stolen the chocolate milk mix from the pantry, eating it in my daughter's bed. It was a big mess. This is not the first pantry caper. I doled a "no sweets for three days" punishment, which may be the first actual punishment besides a time-out that they've ever experienced. I feel good about the punishment, but I'm not convinced that this behavior will change because of it. I'm thinking of designating a low shelf with healthy snacks that they can grab when they're hungry. I mean, do they always have to ask me when they want to eat something?  Are there really "healthy snacks," you can keep in a pantry that you'd be ok with your kids eating willy nilly in the middle of the day?

Coffee: Enjoyed a quiet cup right before writing this. (I'll pay for this later!)


Monday, December 9, 2013

Tell It!

Day 84: Dec. 9, 2013

My kids like to shout, "TELL IT," at the top of their lungs, usually directed at my husband who has taken a break for breathing from an epic story about super hero's, monsters, aliens, lost space ships, slimy blobs, dinosaurs, trucks (there's always a truck,) Mater and Lightening, princesses and steam rollers. Sometimes all of these elements are involved at once, sometimes only a few. Never just one.

I'm not sure how this all started. At one point my daughter asked me to tell her a story while we were eating lunch, and it was about a boy who woke up in the night and heard giggling in his closet.  He crept down from his bunk bed to find a friendly nightmare burping and after finding this funny, giggling. The story evolved into a much more elaborate tale of singing and dancing followed by epic battles with a scary nightmare who lives in the woods. The boy's name is Mattress.

Then my husband modified this story by setting it at a camp site where a boy and a girl were camping with their parents in the woods. And the friendly nightmare was sitting on a log in a lake and the scary nightmare emerged from behind the camp site making the sounds, "CRUNCH, CRACKLE, CRUNCH."

Crunch, Crackle, Crunch is very big in our family.

Now we're at the point where 99% of the words we speak to our children are in story form. And if we press pause for even a second, we are bombarded with "TELL IT, TELL IT!!!!"

Sometimes this provides us with excellent leverage. Eat your broccoli and I'll tell it. I won't tell it until you go pee and put on some pants.

My husband has become so elaborate and effusive with his stories, that I'm almost off the hook. I am definitely the story telling consolation prize. However, I am the provider of the CDs. Stories told by professional story tellers that we listen to in the car. One of their favorites is called, "Little Dragon." About a little dog sized Dragon who has lost his fire, but nevertheless is jovial and an excellent companion to the little girl who dropped into the story. She discovers that the story world is slowly freezing over as the sun is becoming encased in ice and its up to the little Dragon to climb Dragon Mountain and breath fire into the sun. It's a conundrum because the Dragon has no fire, but deep down, the little girl knows its in him, and how can she help him to find it. She does, and he saves the day. Its very sweet.

My son is really insane about these stories. At one point he demanded that instead of singing lullabies at bedtime, I sing a story about his two favorite characters, Mater and Lightening getting caught in a ditch and fetched out by giant cranes. Once they're out, Mater, Lightening, "the girls," and the cranes all go out for ice cream.  This didn't last very long, mainly because at bed time, I'm tired, totally done, and not in the mood to sing a story.

Coffee: One very early this morning. It feels like that was a week ago.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Whatever Comes to Mind

Day 83: Dec. 8, 2013

Well, darn, I missed yesterday. I was writing away, and a Christmas project started seeping up through the cement slab of my brain, and I my blog drowned. Darn. No guilt. It just happened.

Today I am determined to write a little. I don't have much to say, so I'm just going to write whatever comes to mind. Forgive me.

The world is on a string. There is snow everywhere, and the temps are LOW. The goats are still alive. My daughter is sleeping at her grandparents house. Sometimes I feel great, sometimes not, and I'm pretty sure these feelings coincide with my female hormone levels. I haven't had a good workout in too many days. I love my husband and when we are forced to spend three whole days together because the city we live in shuts down when it snows, it makes me feel so happy to have him in my life. I love to sing Christmas carols. I love "Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming," except that I don't actually know the words.

That's good.

Coffee: Had a nice coffee just now while my husband and his friend are watching a movie.


Friday, December 6, 2013

A New Book

Day 82: Dec. 6, 2013

To me, this is an amazing line from the book I'm reading.

"Mrs Spragg, once reconciled -or at least resigned-to the mysterious necessity of having to "entertain" a friend of Undine's, had yielded to the first touch on the weak springs of her garrulity."

Here's another one:

"Mr. and Mrs. Spragg were both given to such long periods of ruminating apathy that the student of inheritance might have wondered whence Undine derived her overflowing activity."

Mr. and Mrs. Spragg are the parents of Undine, a young woman, probably in her early twenties.

And these characters are from the novel, The Custom of the Country, by Edith Wharton.

I met a woman at a park where our kids were playing and we got to talking about books and she mentioned this one. I had never heard of it, but since its free to download on the Kindle, I did and I'm enjoying it a lot. I love her funny word choices like, "the weak springs of her garrulity," and "the student of inheritance."

Lately, reading has become the activity that relaxes me. If I'm having a full day, I know I will have that moment before falling asleep to read. Or in the bath tub. I've been doing that a lot lately. I like to sweat in the bathtub. I get the water as hot as can be, and after a while, I see the sweat appear on my arms. I can taste it too. (Gross.) Then I wash off, get out and I end up feeling clean on the inside, like I sweat out all of the emotional dirt of the day. (Weird.)

In Custom of the Country, Undine's character is hard for me to understand.  She moved with her parents to New York City from a small town. She's obsessed with the society page and with joining ranks with the crispiest of the upper crust. She is remarkably beautiful, and she's caught the eye of the most eligible bachelor from the "old money" side of town. There's another man from her past who has appeared and whom I believe she was forbidden to marry by her parents. The details of this relationship are unclear right now, but it's opening up a side of Undine's character that make me think that her social rock climbing is all a sham. She'd rather be with the good-for-nothing poor guy from her small town back home. I don't know for sure if that's true. I'll let you know as I get on with it.

Coffee: It snowed here today. Lots of sledding and traipsing, and a homemade coffee at home.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Why I Keep Posting

Day 81: Dec. 5, 2013

You won't believe this! Today, I bought another grocery bag! Argh!!! I was buying groceries and saw a friend in line, and the rest is history. I didn't notice the cashier packing the bag, and suddenly there it was in my cart all neat and tidy. Oh, the slope is so very slippery. If only I would put the bags in the car, and remember to bring them into the store. Its not that hard.

In the last post, I wrote about how writing and posting everyday is a questionable task. Meaning, I question it everyday and wonder if this is the day it'll be all over. But, I think there is merit in this task. It's helpful. For example, ever since writing about my two year old knocking me to my knees (I know, its only been 5 or so days,) I've held it together. My strategy has been to remain calm and explain to both kids that I'm working on being more compassionate in the face of all out screaming, arguing, crying, lollygagging. And rather than beat them over their heads with a baseball bat, I remind myself that getting violent feels bad for everybody. And sure enough, this little speech is calming, and we move on.

After writing about "letting go," whatever that means, exactly, I think I've been doing that. Yesterday, I was trying really hard to get mad about not getting to rehearsal with enough time to warm up and work on spots, but the "letting go" post kept appearing in my mind like a head line, and it was no big deal.

In the beginning I said that I fully expected this blog to change my life. And in the same way that writing and painting and posting everyday is work, changing your life is work too. I remember reading somewhere that you have to work for your happiness. You have to make an effort to cultivate it. I'm not really concerned about "happiness," per se, but I do want to work on aspects of my personality that feel like a big mud puddle. That give me that restricted feeling, that kind of grip me in every day situations. That keep me focused in the future instead of the now.

Coffee: At a coffee shop right now using the wi-fi, drinking a house decaf.

Watercolor: (no watercolor paper.)

Slippery Slope

Day 80: Dec. 3, 2013

I have something to say. Should I say it loudly or softly? Either way, its the same.

ok, here goes: (loudly)


Aww, damn.

I am a failure. I had zero remorse while saying the words, "I need a bag." I looked at the man, thought, oh, I'm writing a blog about not buying grocery bags and coffee cups, then I said, "I need a bag."

Almost every day, at some point during the day, I think, "I'm not going to post today. I'm just going to let it slide, no one will care or notice, including me." This happened as soon as I came back to it after the two week break.

Then it occurred to me: this is supposed to happen.  The virtue lies in the daily application of effort! And everyday effort is A GRIND (hee hee.) And requires discipline.  So, I post.

But not without wanting SO badly to digress. To fail! And so I bought a grocery bag.  No excuses, (although I have a really good one, I swear.) I will work hard not to buy another one.

Coffee: No cups bought

Cups and Bags Challenge:  We did it!! We've reached 100 at least! I will be sending $100 to Bring Recycling today.  Thanks everyone for using reusable cups as much as your life would allow. Stay tuned for the next challenge to come in a couple of weeks.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Master Negotiator

Day 77: Dec. 2, 2013

My dad and my daughter are playing a game called, "Secrets of the Sea." Its a Little Mermaid themed game in which little characters jump from sea shell to sea shell based on what number your spinner lands on. Except they are using the spinner from Chutes and Ladders. And any time my dad spins and lands on a number other than 1, my daughter decides that the spinner actually landed on the number 1, so he only gets to move one space.  And whenever she spins, the spinner actually landed on the number 6.

My daughter is a master negotiator. Probably because we rarely say, "no," like we mean it. I've started saying it more, and shockingly, she becomes mute after a while. Or she"ll stare at me with her X-ray vision peering through me into my soul to figure out exactly what I mean by "no," then she backs away slowly with a quizzical look on her face.

I like what my dad said over the holiday weekend. At some point they'll be on their own and won't be handed exactly what they want every moment that they want it.

Coffee: Just some green tea. Woke up at 5 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. Green tea was helpful today.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Well, this is it! We've hit the $99 mark. One more and the Challenge is OVER! And I'll send $100 to Bring. In a few days, I'll announce Challenge 2, because a friend is going to donate the next $100.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Lovers

Day 75: Dec. 1, 2013

There's this cute little couple sitting across from me in the coffee shop. They're sitting side by side at their table, their faces about three inches from each other, exchanging words and long animated thoughts. They are stylish, the girl wearing a black trench with leggings and high black boots. The boy a sporty jacket and cute short hair. They are alternating between lusty conversation with intermittent kisses and furious individual texting on their phones. Every so often, they stop everything and the boy lies his head against the girl and she looks vacantly, but longingly off into the distance. Its cute.

What was your favorite dish this Thanksgiving? Mine was the stuffing that my mom bought at the grocery store. It wasn't particularly delicious in its own right, but it enhanced the rest of the food to the point where I didn't ever want to stop eating. It was the big bread chunks. I  made the yams with orange juice, cinnamon, a little salt, and a light marshmallow topping, my husband made a zucchini mushroom mixture, and my mom made the turkey. All truly delicious. I don't know. The memory of this Thanksgiving will live on for a long time. The food. And last night's scrabble game. I won, but like I pointed out at the end, everyone played really well. I picked a continuous stream of superior letters. And I went first, laying down VISOR as the first word. 36 points. My husband tried to get away with the word, "NEXTS."

Tonight I'm rehearsing a tedious concert with the Symphony. Its all Tchaikovsky. He's the poster boy for the Romantic period of music history. Perfect for the coffee shop lovers. Here's one of the pieces:


Its the String Serenade which is nice. Fun to play, and we'll probably play it standing up, which is fun too.

One thing I learned this week: Letting go is easy if you just let go.

Coffee: Drinking one right now. Trying to avert my eyes.  The lovers are really getting into it now.

Cups and Bags Challenge: We're still at $98. My most devoted fan wants to be #100 as she commented last night and I will gleefully leave that honor to her. So, we need one more reusable cup user, then, when she lets me know, we'll be at 100. Just in time for Christmas! If YOU use a reusable cup, send an email, a text, or a FB message and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling! (cupsandbags@yahoo.com)


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yeah, Right.

Day 73: Nov. 30, 2013

Drink more water. Relax about all things. Live free and easy. Care less about my husband's parenting choices that don't coincide with my own. Realize that all we have is time, so the idea of wasting time is just that, an idea, not a reality. Reduce stress. Eat fruits and vegetables.

Early New Year's resolutions!

Coffee: had some in a "for here" mug at a coffee shop.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Up to $98! 2 more dollars. If you use a reusable cup send me an email, text, or FB message and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling! cupsandbags@yahoo.com


Friday, November 29, 2013

My Little Hurricane

Day 72: Nov.29, 2013

My two year old is wind. Loud and relentless. By the end of the day, I am on my knees and the tears have been pushed out from under my eyelids flowing sideways past my temples by his gusts of energy and constant motion. I can see my daughter and I can hear my husband, but I am standing in a wind tunnel.

Every morning, I think to myself, how shall I brace myself today? Shall I agree to hold him every time he says UPPEE even if I have to make the breakfast, clean the dishes, pick up the toys, scrub the floors, wipe the spills, fold the laundry, comfort my daughter, make the lunch, pack the bags, eat food, get dressed, feed the goats, answer the phone? How many deep breaths will it take to absorb the gales? Three or three hundred?

Every night I think about how many times I saw the whites of his eyes that day. You know how when a dog is scared out of his mind, he gives you that look and you can see that part of his soul that makes you sick with sadness for him. I wonder how many times I scared the crap out of my son trying to calm him.

Then there's my daughter sitting in the wings, waiting. Waiting for a chance to talk to me. To see me and hear my voice. Well, and how she tells me that she loves her brother, but then he hurls a metal car at her back.

Sometimes there is laughter amidst all the noise. Loud exclamations of "CRAB," which to me sound like, "CRAP." And the song twinkle twinkle little star sung entirely on the word, "muffin."

Coffee: I made some yummy coffee in a coffee maker.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Yay! One more email came in today. Its fun to hear from people who have cup stories. Oh, and one of my friends brought her cup to rehearsal the other night... she doesn't know that I noticed. So we're up to $97! If you use a reusable cup, send me an email (cupsandbags@yahoo.com) or a text or a FB message, and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Not Ready

Day 71: Nov. 27, 2013

My friend's mom died two days ago. I'm thinking about him a lot. I'm remembering when my grandmother died, she was in her eighties, but died way too young. She was vibrant and young, got pancreatic cancer, and died six months later. I was furious. I wasn't done being her friend. We were close, playing music together, going to concerts together. I missed her and still miss her. My uncle also died young. He was 46. I was 12. There was a rush of sadness in our family. In my entire enormous extended family, and of course for my cousins and my aunt. I was too young to know what the sadness meant. This kind of sadness is still incomprehensible to me now.

It seems like what's unbearable, but essential in death is that the lives of the living must continue, and you wonder, how can this be? It's too much to ask, at least at first, or maybe forever. But it must. And the person who has left you resides in a new space inside of you, and at first, it is not enough. But then it is. And there's a gratefulness for having known and loved the person, there in your heart. 

Well, and then there's your community who also loved your person. The people who also feel the emptiness of the world because your person is gone. But they shed light on you through their having known her. Like, another friend whose mom died about a month ago, and who learned that she had friends he had never met. Friends from her daily breakfast at Waffle House. People who loved her and talked with her every day for years. The manager of the restaurant who wept and whose life had been touched by my friend's mom. 

I don't know what it's like to lose a parent. But I'm pretty sure I won't be ready for it when I do.

Coffee: none today!

Cups and bags challenge: back tomorrow on this one. Playing scrabble with my dad now.


Will post tomorrow!  Hope turkey day was great!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Sister

Day 70: Nov. 26, 2013

When I was little, I slept in my sister's bed one Christmas eve. She was older, no longer in the Santa believing years, but she was all in, pretending to hear the sleigh bells, pretending to wonder what Santa would bring, and when he would come that night. I actually did hear the sleigh bells and I'm pretty sure I saw Santa darting around in the sky. Santa was as real as he would ever be for me that Christmas.

Until I was in the fourth grade, I had my sister at home with me. Her room was right next to mine. She was the person I looked up to with utter wonder and amazement, and loved more than anybody. I was sad when she left for college, and when she came back to visit, It was like the world fell away and left her and me there listening to music in her room: Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Van Morrison, Elton John, Billy Joel, and the Jackson Five.  I can't hear any of these artists without being transported to her bedroom, sitting on her bed watching her get ready to go out with her friends.

When you love someone, it doesn't matter how far away they are. You think about them all of the time, wonder about their day, their family, their friends. You hope they are happy. And you know that when you will see them again, seeing them will fill you with all of the history of your lives together and with the surprise of their growth and how their experiences have changed them. I can't wait to see my sister again, and her husband and her little boy. Just writing this makes me feel them in the room.

Coffee: One frantic coffee in the car.

Cups and Bags Challenge: We're at $95 again today. If you use a reusable cup, send me an email (cupsandbags.com) or a text or a FB message and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling!


(not sure where the missing eye went.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

What We're Thankful For

Day 68: Nov. 25, 2013

Today my kids and I were eating lunch together at a burrito restaurant and we were talking about Thanksgiving and what we were thankful for. Here are our lists:

My Daughter:

1. You, mommy.
2. The Goats, of course.
3. Daddy
4. And my brother
5. My friends
6. My School
7. Meme and Poppe
8. Yaya and Papa
9. The Beach
10. Thanksgiving
11. Turkey, the live kind
12. Flamingos, because they have these beautiful feathers.
13. Tomato soup
14: Sand castles
15: Sand volcanoes
(will she ever stop talking?)

My Son:

1. Chairs
2. Those pictures
3. Orange Juice


1. My Husband
2. My Children
3. All of my family
4. The food we're eating
5. Eating lunch with my kids
6. All of the friends in my life
7. Sun shining through trees
8. The opportunity to sleep in a bed every night
9. My Health
10. The Health of my family

Coffee: One cup of homemade coffee enjoyed in my reusable cup! No cups bought.

Cups and Bags Challenge: I wanted to share some photos of people's cups who have shared them with me!



We're up to $95. Ok, we're almost there! Soon, we'll start on Challenge 2!
If you use a reusable cup, email, text, or FB message me and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling. (cupsandbags@yahoo.com)


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Day 67: Nov. 24, 2013

Today's text message from my mother in law: "Happy anniversary, you two!"

My immediate thought: Oh, cute, its someone's anniversary. Who else is on this message? Oh, wait, what's today? Uhh... woops.  It's MY Anniversary!

My phone call to my husband after receiving the above text message: "Hey, do you know anyone whose been married for exactly twelve years?"

His response: "Is that today?"


At least we both forgot!

Dinner was good. So was the movie.

Coffee: No disposable cups bought today.

Cups and Bags Challenge: I'm humbled. My latest set of emails (2) are from folks who travel with their own mugs and hot water pot and one who carries her cup everywhere and forgoes coffee if she forgets it. LOVE! If you use a reusable cup, email me (cupsandbags@yahoo.com), text or FB message me and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

If You Want It, Be Determined!

Day 66: Nov. 23, 2013

I remember the first time I walked out onto a stage as part of a professional symphony orchestra. It’s a stuck moment, lodged in my memory like a photo on a wall, or a home video that plays every once in a while when I’m least expecting it.  The time it took me to walk through the doors into the bustle of the stage was short. But the moment I felt the stage lights on my face, I also felt the twenty five years that had been my life hit me in the gut like a giant fist.  

When I as twelve, I switched to the violin teacher I would have until I was eighteen.  She was old and sort of pissed at the world.  She always said, full of conviction, that a life as a professional musician is HELL.  I didn’t mind her saying that. I never once imagined I would be a professional musician even in my senior year in high school when I auditioned for lots of music schools. I got into them, but didn’t go. It wasn’t the life for me.  And I was surely not good enough to go to those schools for real, and what would I do once it was all over?

But then, while teaching sixth and seventh grade English and History after college, I decided I wanted to be a professional singer song writer.  Makes sense.  Because that’s an easy easy life. Good money too. Thankfully, a month of guitar lessons inspired me to pick up the violin again and that spring I decided to quit my job. I had three months to improve myself and audition for the Baton Rouge Symphony, which I did, and was offered a spot in the first violins. Holy Smokes, can I really do this, is what first popped into my head when that happened.

I did do it, and I am doing it! This fact still amazes me. The first concert I played in Baton Rouge was a milestone in my life that I’m reminded of every time I sit in my chair and wait for the conductor to wave his arms and for me to play.  It’s been fifteen years since that day I first walked out of the back stage doors into the lights and now, it’s old hat, and I can write my blog posts during intermission.  And I can relax and enjoy the music and resist the urge to weep when Juliet dies on stage (tonight we collaborated with some Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors who portrayed Romeo and Juliet while we played Prokofiev’s version of that piece.)

And just to say, having a grumpy violin teacher was not all bad.  She taught me how to be the teacher I want to be, which is demanding, but fun, and positive, and encouraging! I love to tell my students my story and to let them know that if they want it, they can have it.  And that they have to be determined.  Isn’t that what life’s all about? If you want something (and you have a support crew (THANK YOU, to my support crew)) be determined, and you just might get it.

Coffee: no disposable cups bought today. I had a lovely turn around the grocery store today, completely alone with my decaf, and to celebrate, I ate an extra chocolate square.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Well folks, we're fast approaching $100! Today, three emails from readers I've never met (!!) came in to describe their reusable cup usage. So, we're up to $90. If you use a reusable cup, send me an email (cupsandbags@yahoo.com), a text or a FB message and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Thoughts on Screens, Kids and the Weather

Day 65: Nov. 22, 2013

Its November in Eugene, Oregon and the sun in shining! And its COLD. Our friends said it was 17 degrees at their house this morning. Our well pump froze and the water stopped flowing through our pipes. YIKES. Here's the thing. My husband and I chose to move to Oregon as opposed to Maine in order to avoid 17 degrees. Its supposed to be warm and rainy. We're supposed to be bundled in rain jackets and rain paints instead of winter parkas and ear muffs. And the other thing is that I grew up in hot New Orleans. Hot, balmy, sweaty, smelly, wonderful New Orleans. I know, I talk about this all of the time. There will come a time when I will have lived away from New Orleans longer than I lived in New Orleans.  Actually, that time is coming soon.

On another topic.  I just read an article about Generation Y or iY as kids these days are called. It was called, "Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids." Here it is: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Mickey-goodman/are-we-raising-a-generati_b_1249706.html. What grabbed me in the article, and what always grabs me in these kinds of discussions is how kids these days are "addicted" to screens. i pads, i phones, TV, whatever. For the most part, I agree that too much screen time for a kid is bad news. And I will resist my kids having their own phones and i pads and video game equipment and their own computers as long as possible. My husband will argue that this will put them at a disadvantage in the world. He feels like video games foster problem solving skills.  I'm fine with that. And its true, people today are checking their phones at every turn. I do it. I was at a birthday party the other day, and at one point, every parent was looking at their phone while the kids were running around. I was at a restaurant for lunch close to a middle school. A seventh grader sat down at a table with his box lunch, pulled out his i phone and ate his lunch with his phone. Is reading your phone the same thing as reading a book?

When I was a kid, I had a Donkey Kong game. I was in middle school, and I loved it. It was a big box with a screen and some controls and it had sound effects. I played it a lot. Man, it will be interesting to navigate this electronic mine field as my kids grow up. Maybe I'll steal Michelle Obama's screen time rules for her kids: no screen time at all Mon-Thurs, one hour on Friday, and two hours each on Saturday and Sunday. That's any screen. TV, computer, phone, etc. (Once when I was watching TV I saw her give an interview about obesity with Dr. OZ. In this interview she also demonstrated her amazing jump roping skills.)

Coffee: No disposable cups bought today!

Cups and Bags Challenge: Holy Smokes! I had FOUR emails today about reusable cup usage! Thanks everybody! That puts us up to $87!  13 more dollars people! If you use a reusable cup to buy coffee, send me a email, text, FB message, and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Could be a Lion

Day 64: Nov. 21, 2013

Sometimes I'll be slipping into the doldrums and realize that I haven't had a sip of water for six hours. Or I find myself spitting fireballs of rage at the sweet sound of my children's voices, and I realize that its five o'clock in the afternoon and I had chocolate for lunch. What I didn't realize is that there would come a time in my life when eating food and drinking water would no longer fit into my schedule. Or into my mental reserves.

Lions only eat once a week, or thereabout. And they don't spend lots of time washing dishes or cleaning the kitchen. Some snakes eat once a year, I read recently. When I first met my husband, he had a cookbook called 15 minute meals. The thing is, it's never only 15 minutes. You have to prepare. You have to go to the grocery store and know what you're going to make. My friends are organized, and they prepare their shopping lists for the week so they're not worried about that moment when your kids say, "what's for dinner?"

These are the meals I remember my mom cooking when I was a kid. Chicken Tarragon: bone in chicken cooked with butter and tarragon. Spaghetti and meat sauce: onions, green pepper, ground beef, sauce from a jar, noodles. Red Beans and Rice: Crock pot red beans cooked with a ham hock, andouille sausage, bay leaf, other spices over rice. Skillet pork chops: pork chops fried with onions and green pepper. An occasional Crayfish Ettoufee,  Gumbo, Shrimp creole. My mom cooked all of our dinners. For a long time, she cooked us full breakfasts as well.

I enjoy eating. I really enjoy eating with my friend Alex, who really really enjoys eating. And cooking. Sadly, I'm not a good cook. The main problem is that instead of preparing ahead of time, I do other things. I forget to drink water and eat lunch. Maybe one time, I'll tell the story about the time I made Moo Goo Gai Pan in Seattle.

Coffee: A decaf Americano at a coffee shop! (finished Pride and Prejudice.) Here's the advantage of being a decaf drinker. Often places won't brew drip decaf, so they'll make you an Americano for the same price.

Cups and Bags Challenge: One more dollar for my wonderful friend still using his cup in NYC!! So we're up to $83, baby!! Email, text, or comment if you use a reusable cup and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One False Step = Endless Ruin!

Day 63: Nov. 20, 2013

I'm so furious at Victorian England right now. How ridiculous that a girl of 16 who runs off with a man who led her to believe would marry her, then doesn't, is better off dead.  And that her entire family might as well dig a giant hole underground and go live in it because otherwise they will be shunned and ridiculed throughout the land. This is what's going on in Pride and Prejudice right now. The youngest of the Bennet sister's left her guardians and rode in a carriage with a male officer to London thinking she was eloping, but somehow they didn't get married and instead were hiding out in a hotel somewhere. Once found, the man was bought by her relatives and convinced to marry the girl. And in the mean time, the girl's entire family is in panic mode because the loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable and one false step involves her in endless ruin. (That last sentence was lifted directly from the book.) And the family is encouraged by her neighbors (who are offering to help, but secretly celebrating  the family's downfall,) "to throw off their unworthy child from their affection and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offense."

What must it have been like for smart educated women in Victorian England to have absolutely no worth whatsoever except as a wife and mother? Oh, this would have driven me to insanity, as it probably has driven lots of women throughout the history of the world. I am so glad that women nowadays have choices. And that at least in most places, people have loosened up about marriage and love and relationships. I'm glad that the discussion today for women is about how to have a family and a career, as opposed to how to be transferred from the authority of their parents to the authority of their husband with as little humiliation as possible. Not that the question of family vs. career is an easy or fortunate one. Having a mother who has worked all of my life and still works today made it very difficult for me to consider staying home with my kids, although when the time came, I was ready. I had worked, I had studied, and my husband's job could support us all.

Perhaps I will explore this topic later on, but for now, enjoy today's watercolor lady.

Coffee: NO cups bought today!

Cupsandbags challenge: one text message came in so we're adding a dollar! $82! Email me if you use a reusable cup and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I said I would, but I didn't.

Day 62: Nov. 19, 2013

Last night, I had a dream about trying to get back into analysis with a friend who wasn't even an analyst. We were going to have a session in a public place, where my mother was wandering around. I didn't feel right about it. I thought we should at least go somewhere private. And she asked me if I was really going to go deep. I thought I would, but then thought that could be weird since we were friends. And I thought that a complete stranger would make a better analyst. Then I woke up.

I said I would write every day in a journal while on vacation from the blog, but I didn't. I wrote maybe twice. And I painted one watercolor that was destroyed quickly by my children. I feel like I betrayed my blog by completely ignoring it , and not doing what I said I would. I was supposed to explore my deepest thoughts and come away with answers and fresh energy to write spectacular prose and paint vibrant paintings. I think this is why I had this dream. I'm trying to decide how much energy I would like to devote here. How much I can say, and if saying it is weird since its my friends and family who hear it.

Here we are again, though: the blank page looms. My husband asked me if I planned to resume blogging on a daily basis, or would I make it every two days, three days, or once a week. We discussed the possibility that by blogging daily, I am sacrificing other activities in my daily life. Our banter remained banal, like, I could be sacrificing my nightly TV viewing, or practicing violin more often. What was not spoken, but surely there in the air, is the possibility that I sacrifice my ability to keep the house clean and orderly, and I sacrifice carefully prepared meals, and I sacrifice my attention. Not that my husband was thinking these things (he was,) and not that these things are attended to when I am not blogging (barely.) But, ultimately, when we're not working or attending to our kids, we get to pick what to do with our time.

So, for now, I am going to blog everyday. And all the little random thoughts that go through my mind will probably show up here as usual. And I'm going to be grateful for the little things! For example, thanks to having my in laws in town for the past week, these are some of the things I did while on vacation: had a beer with my mom after playing tennis with her,  ran under the trees on the ridge line trail south of town, played two difficult concerts, hiked up a mountain with my daughter, watched my students play in a piano and violin recital, had lunch with my husband, slept.

I feel renewed. I don't feel any less crazy or insane, but I feel like I can face the blog again and the holidays, and the winter and the two year old.

Coffee: So, I'm not sure this is a confession or not. I bought one of those Starbuck's semi-reusable cups. The one's you can use for 30 days or so, then recycle. I was desperate. I was at Albertson's right before my 9th rehearsal in as many days, after 9 long long days, and really wanted a decaf. I'm still using it. How long will it last, I wonder.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Where were we?? Let me check! Wow! We were at $80! We're close! And I just checked my email and we have one more dollar to add from the past two weeks. Yay. $81, baby.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Taking a Break!

Today begins my first break! I'll be back in two weeks.

I plan to work on all or part of a watercolor daily.

And I plan to write in a private journal as well. I have a few ideas into which I would like to dig deep.

I'll miss everyone!!!!!!! Come back on Nov. 19 for the next post.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Schubert Death

Day 61: Nov. 4, 2013

Tonight we (the Oregon Mozart Players) begin rehearsals on Schubert's string quartet, Death and The Maiden, arranged for string orchestra.  The concert is this Saturday night, and it should be terrific. This piece is drama drama drama. Imagine a murder mystery combined with a love affair combined with an agonizing personal struggle, all taking place in pristine beauty. (This reminds me of the book I'm reading right now, Wild, by Cheryl Stayed, which I plan to write about soon.  Really good book, but somewhat agonizing and very personal.)

Listen to Schubert Death here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z42GrmR4U2Y

Coffee: One coffee at our lunch spot in my reusable cup.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Adding three bucks for my friend in New York who has been using the cup that he bought!! Up to $80!! Almost there.  If you use a reusable cup to buy a coffee, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.


Sunday, November 3, 2013


Day 60: Nov. 3, 2013

Today's watercolor is supposed to be a representation of my son and daughter walking up our driveway.

When asked what she doesn't like my daughter said: "When A throws hard things at me." When asked what he doesn't like my son said: "When S bangs the ceiling on me."

Coffee: Lots of green tea today, no coffee, no disposable cups!

Cups and Bags Challenge: I'm adding $1 for my husband's cousin who uses leftover spaghetti sauce jars for his water bottle and coffee cup! He's the bomb. Up to $77. If you use a reusable cup to buy a coffee, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.

Watercolor: (If I could do it again, I'd make the shadows lighter. Next time.)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Baby Making Part 3

Day 59: Nov. 2, 2013

This last episode of baby making will explore the joys and trials of my first pregnancy.  The bummer about IVF is that it does not guarantee anything once you get pregnant. You still have to be pregnant and grow the baby inside of you like normal people. You forget this when you’re doing IVF. You think, once you get pregnant it’s all over. You have arrived and accomplished the impossible, fait accompli, au revoir. But, no, the chance of miscarriage is equal with IVF as with a natural conception, as is the chance of all things dangerous or abnormal in a pregnancy. So, with that being said, I was amazingly optimistic! I was 35 years old (advanced maternal age,) and pretty sure my two babies would make it to the end, (two embryos implanted.)

I was pregnant with twins for twenty weeks. I referred to the babies as my little guys, and I would talk to them incessantly. Once I wiped out and fell hard on my side, and we talked it out and my little guys were fine. They were always with me.  My little friends.  I found it fun to be pregnant. Especially once the first twelve weeks were up and my energy returned and I could run a little, walk a lot, eat a ton, all the things I love to do.

Then at eighteen weeks, we went to the doctors for old pregnant ladies. The doctors who tell you if your baby will have a debilitating chromosomal disorder or in our case, a hypo-plastic left ventricle.  I saw the ultrasound of both hearts, one with four chambers, and the other with three.  As the nurse was moving the ultrasound thingy around on my belly, I made an off handed comment about how the hearts looked different, and she just kept smiling. They must train them to keep smiling, because she knew. Just keep smiling, just keep smiling. I get it, she’s the messenger. It’s not her fault that my baby’s heart would not keep my baby alive once it was born.

The next part of the pregnancy was so bizarre. I was simultaneously devastated and miraculously hopeful. We had decided not to allow baby A to come to term. She would have needed many surgeries in her first week, and many more before she was two, and a heart transplant early on, and probably would not have survived even after all of that. And there was baby B. Healthy baby B who is now my daughter, and just thinking about it is making me cry.  Between eighteen and twenty weeks, I said goodbye to Baby A and I thanked Baby B for her understanding.  Baby B and I discussed the situation over and over. We went through every scenario. What if we had never found out? What if the two of them had been in the same sac? What if she had been healthy but the two of them had been born dangerously early? Every day that baby A was alive after I found out that she would not be born, I held her to my heart. I allowed her to fill it and I allowed myself to weep. And then it was done, and I moved on.

Baby B came two weeks early after a smooth and easy second half of the pregnancy. There were reminders of Baby A, like when the ultrasound tech at my OBGYN’s office expressed confusion in the most indiscreet manner which I would like to write about, but is too gross and offensive. Either she didn't read my chart, or she has a serious tact deficiency.  Nevertheless, baby B arrived and we celebrated. We became parents and suddenly everything mattered and nothing mattered. The baby making story became irrelevant in the face of sleepless nights and staying sane (going insane.) But all of it was worth it. Exactly as it happened.

Epilogue: After 15 months of Baby B’s life, we decided we wanted to try for a sibling, made possible by the fact that three embryo’s from Baby B’s petri dish had been frozen in case this very urge came upon us. Because the embryos already existed, the second time around was much easier on my body. The embryos were transferred in the exact manner as the first time around.  We waited two weeks, and I was pregnant despite being 100% sure that I was not. (No symptoms whatsoever.) And when #2 was born, his nickname was, by complete coincidence, having to do with his name, “Baby A.” 

Coffee: I bought some beans from Starbucks today. (YUM!) Made a cup at home and ate it in the truck while my son slept in the back seat.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Well, what a surprise! Three reports of cup usage on my Yahoo account. Very exciting! Thank you. So that puts us up to $76 today. We're getting there people!  If you use a reusable cup, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Baby Making Part 2

Day 58: Nov. 1, 2013

Its baby making part 2. Get your popcorn.

We were one year into trying to get pregnant, and I called a doctor in Austin who said, lets shoot some die into your tubes to find out if they're blocked. No, they weren't blocked. Then he found some pre-cancerous cells on my cervix which needed to be removed, so baby making was put off for nine months. Then we moved to Oregon.

Three years went by. During that time, I started looking on an open adoption website and memorized all the people waiting for babies. I looked every day to see who was still there, to read testimonials, to look at pictures of happy families. I also decided to have some fun. Travel (we went to New Zealand twice (my parents were living there at the time,)) we went to England and France, we went to movies, played softball, hung out with other childless couples.

My husband began to wonder out loud if not having babies would be so bad.

I called a specialist. His name is Doug Austin, and if I could have dinner with him every night I would because he's that amazing.

We tried a few months of very mild drugs and baby making techniques that didn't take place between the sheets, and finally I said, I want a baby, and I'm willing to go all the way. Dr. Austin said, why didn't you say so in the first place, let's get going, and we started down the IVF road. Every step of the way, I was sure there would be failure, and every step of the way, Dr. A was sure it would work.  He knew. He was upbeat in the face of every possible downfall.

Here were some of the fun parts. In the middle of violin lessons, I had to excuse myself to stab myself in the abdomen with powerful hormones, and return with a smile and reassurance that all was well. One really fun drug caused insomnia, and I'm talking, all night long, lying on the pillow with my eyes open.

The very most fun, for real was the day the eggs were gathered. I was put to sleep for the procedure and I was so happy to be asleep, nothing else mattered, and I could have remained that way for the rest of my life. Then we had to wait three days at which point my husband went in at exactly 9:09 to deliver the goods, and at exactly 9:17, the doctor conceived my children! Of course, I didn't know that then, so I was in a constant state of hidden anxiety. Would they survive? (There were 9.) We went in three days after that and four embryos were transferred into my uterus. I will not go into detail about this, even though there is a story to tell. Maybe if I ever write a book, I'll tell it then.

After the transfer, the big guns came out. A three inch needle was inserted in to my hip every night for two weeks with a hormone that made me so tired and cranky, I wasn't sure who I was anymore. And every day I felt twinges of this or that, and wondered, am I pregnant???  That was probably the most agonizing two weeks of my life. But the two weeks passed, as all two weeks do, and the blood test was positive. When the nurse called, I fell to my knees and my husband cried.

Stay tuned for part 3, tomorrow.

Coffee: Only tea today

Cups and Bags: My wonderful, most best friend besides my husband in the world, bought himself a coffee cup! This is big. I'm giving that one action another $10. So, we're up to $73!


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Baby Making Part 1

Day 57, Oct. 31, 2013

Some women just know they want to have babies and some women know they do not. When I was twenty eight, married to my husband for about a year, I knew I wanted a baby and it was time to try.  I had just graduated from grad school with a violin performance degree and was facing orchestral auditions, and building my teaching studio. It so happened that for me, taking an orchestral audition was about as intimidating as participating in a race to the top of Mt. Everest with a bunch of Nepalese Sherpas. And building a teaching studio? Exhausting! I'll just have a baby, I thought.  At least I could delay the painstaking audition process and the tedious studio building process while the baby was a baby, and could start career building again in a year or so.


First off, having a baby is about 1 trillion times harder than taking an orchestral audition and about 10 gazillion times harder than building up a teaching studio! And one year to get your career going? How about never? And the thing is, auditioning and teaching are relentlessly challenging.

So, I excitedly go off the pill, and we get down to business, and I'm planning my speech to my students and I'm putting off practicing, because the baby would be coming any moment!


My body was very sneaky: "Not so fast, you lazy piece of crap." Get your violin out, get yourself some teacher training, and get your career going, you piece of avoidance!" It would be six years, lots of fun medical intervention and a harrowing pregnancy in which we lost a twin before my first baby arrived.

But, here's the thing, and this is just like a predictable mini-series. I did win an orchestral audition, and I built up an awesome teaching studio, and I learned to meditate with inspirational cds. And I moved to a place where I found my musical niche. And once my first baby was born, it all became clear. All of the agony of infertility, the days, months and years wondering if I would ever have a baby, drooling over mothers and their kids, hating all pregnant women, hating women who clearly didn't want kids, hating men all of whom just seem to move on in these situations...it all stared me straight in the face and said, you needed to take care of you first before you could take care of her, so that's why this happened.

And as a side note, in my struggles, I met the most amazing doctor in the history of the world, by whose adept hands both of my children were conceived in the same petri dish. The details of this story will come in the next installment of this very exciting baby-making mini-series.

Coffee: The last of my grounds were used today in a delicious cup of home made decaf!

Cups and Bags Challenge: I'm going to add $10 for all the people in the world who I know are using reusable cups and just forgetting to email me! If YOU use a reusable cup, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling. Today we're at $63!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Day 56: Oct. 30, 2013

No words today.

Coffee: Let's see... None. (Its a theme.) Oh, that's why today feels weird. Also maybe because I barely ate any dinner. Which had to do with the fact that the chicken I cooked was delicious on the outside, but raw on the inside. Gross. It was gross. It was still partly frozen when I put it in the oven, apparently. If I drop out of society for a few days, you'll know its from Salmonella poisoning.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Same as yesterday. If you use a reusable cup, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com, and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling!


(This watercolor was really beautiful until I ruined it by trying to add a bush to the bottom, and somehow it came out looking like a male body part. I cut it off.) (None of the innuendos in the previous sentence were intended, you dirty minds.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ball Point Pens Suck

Day 55: Oct. 29, 2013

Today, my son drew on the couch with a ball point pen. I wanted to grab him and throw him. I wanted to YELL. I told him sternly that it was not ok to draw on the couch, and that he would have to stay in his room while I tried to get it out.

It didn't come out.

In my frustration I brought him to the couch to show him the damage.  And again, I wanted to throttle him. But instead I told him that even though he wrote on the couch I still loved him.

Saying that was REALLY hard for me.  I have a hard time letting go. And, for a second, I wasn't sure if me loving him was even true. Instead, I felt helpless and pissed, and betrayed.

When I forced myself to say I loved him no matter what, I felt the tightness in my chest release.

I brought him to his room for quiet time, and skipped reading books as a punishment, and he accepted that. I'm not sure that was the right punishment. I also took away his big Mack Truck for the rest of the afternoon.

It turns out a combination of rubbing alcohol and shaving cream will remove ball point pen ink from a micro-fiber couch. Who knew?

Coffee: One decaf from the library, and one green tea!

Cups and Bags Challenge: A friend bought a coffee at the grocery store with her reusable mug, so now we're up to $53!

Watercolor: (I want to learn Spanish and I want to take a watercolor class.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Am I Going to Fail First Grade?

Day 54: Oct. 28, 2013

In trying to figure out where my daughter will go to Kindergarten, I've been harking back to my own grade school experiences. In fourth grade, I got my first "A." It was the first evaluative grade I had ever earned, and I got a rush of excitement and energy seeing the big "A" on the paper. It was some kind of work sheet. It hadn't occurred to me that it was something to be graded before it was handed back to me by the teacher. I have two older siblings, six and eight years older than I, so I was familiar with grades and their importance. Before entering first grade, I was convinced I would "fail out." This was a constant concern for me. First grade was coming, and so was a big fat "F!" What if the first "mark" I earned had been a B? or an F? That could have seriously wrecked my academic career. Its not like I did anything special to complete that work sheet. I just did it, because I tended to follow rules and do things without questioning. I mean, a kid who for whatever reason didn't do the work sheet just right, not because they didn't know the answers or were "smart" enough to do it, but because they didn't know it had to be done, or their parent was too busy to oversee it being done, or whatever, could have gotten an F. Or even a B, and their classmates got As. This doesn't seem right to me.

I also remember my Louisiana and American History teacher who also happened to be my Aunt, and hands down the most influential teacher in my grade school years. What she taught me, I used in high school, college and taught my own sixth and seventh grade students after I graduated. We had to write complex term papers and take hard tests that she would grade ruthlessly. She also taught us Latin. Will my children get to take Latin in seventh grade? Maybe not, but my children already know a lot that I didn't know at their age. For example, they know where vegetables come from, and I'm not talking about the grocery store. And they know how to gather chicken eggs, and that goats eat blackberries.

It was in seventh grade that I remember looking at the clock for the first time thinking, Holy Hell, its only 1:30. Two more hours before I can go home? Two more hours before I can begin my daily sit-com marathon: Cosby Show, Golden Girls, The Munsters and Sampson and Sons. This was the line up. I just want school to be fun for my kids. And I don't actually care if they learn certain academic necessities.  I mean, who remembers what they learned when they were bored out of their minds? And you can be bored as an advanced student, and you can be bored as a regular students. If you're at an immersion school, and the language is providing you with an extra challenge because you know everything else that's being taught, but you're sitting at a desk all day with a teacher who is cracking the whip in French or Japanese, it's still boredom. You're still learning in an environment where you'd rather be watching your shows.

I feel better now.

Coffee: Just green tea today.

Cups and Bags Challenge: I'm counting my old high school classmate who has a daily coffee in a reusable mug! So we're up to $51!  (If you use a reusable cup to buy a drink, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.)


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Thoughts on Writing Vs. Going to Bed

Day 53: Oct. 27, 2013

My motivation to write is so non-existent right now, its as if its a human being who just left the house to walk about the woods. Its enjoying the night air and the smell of decaying leaves. Its mocking me as I sit here looking at the computer screen wondering it I should just go to bed. Which is perfectly legitimate. But somehow, I'm still here writing.

So, is writing fiction really just writing a story about yourself with made up names and happenings? Maybe the story doesn't represent exactly a series of events you've experienced, but still, every character is some part of you and every plot twist leads the characters to some emotional place where you've been or are? I'm just wondering what kind of writing this is. Personal writing? Stream of consciousness writing? I know, therapy writing. I like that. Its like my mind just deposits all of its garbage right here on the screen and then I press the publish button. Nothing like a good novel which is organized, developed, written with careful and skilled language. I think if I tried to write a novel,  I would end up wandering out into the woods like old Eskimos who know when its their time to go. I know, morbid, and pretty much nonsensical, but I like this sentence, so I'm going to keep it.

Coffee: It turns out that whenever I make coffee at home, I use the pour over method. The grinds are sitting in a filter holder, which is sitting on your cup, and you pour the water over the grinds and the coffee drips into your cup. I was using my fabulous Aero Press contraption, but a mandatory piece is hiding somewhere in my kitchen, so that's not happening anymore. Nonetheless, I had two homemade cups of coffee today.

Cups and Bags Challenge:We're at $50 today again. Tomorrow is a new day!  If you use a reusable cup to buy a drink, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thoughts on Bizarre Eating Habits

Day 52: Oct. 26, 2013

I'm on the verge of eating an entire 2.5 pound container of nuts. The Extra Fancy Mixed Nuts from Costco. Very salty, and although they are delicious, I am so tired right now that my hand is reaching into the nut jar of its own accord, and I'm sort of letting the nuts over take my stomach with no brain power to retreat. It's ok, it might be over, now that I'm typing at the computer. Nope, there it went again. 

There was a three or four year period in my life when I didn't eat nuts, or almost any fat for that matter. I was probably nineteen or twenty and I went to the university book store and bought a book with the title, Eat Fat, Get Fat, or something like that. This would have been around 1993.  This book recommended that you not eat for a couple of hours after waking up. Get yourself good and hungry, then have a bagel and a coffee. I swear, I'm not lying, this is what I read. And this is what I did. Sometimes I would go to my favorite frozen yogurt store and get a non-fat fro-yo, and I'd have my bagel, and I'd sit on a city bench and dip the bagel into the fro-yo, and that was my lunch. Oh my god, just thinking about it makes me want to keel over and die. 

And I would work out like a maniac, but I never felt quite right. I had really really bad gas all of the time (no comment, husband.) I was bloated all of the time. I was forgetful, would lose things, was totally unable to keep track of my belongings. Once I locked myself out of my college dorm room three times in one day, having to call the lockout people at $10 a pop.  

This culinary choice ended when I met my husband. Thank hallelujah. He loves cheese and meat and nuts and butter. And as it turns out, I feel a lot better now! Although it also turns out that I have to be pretty darn vigilant about the sweets or else the gas/bloating/spaciness trifecta emerges like a slow leak. Its ok, because the dark chocolate is not too sweet and I can eat a lot of it, and still feel good. Unless of course I inadvertently eat 2.5 pounds of fancy nuts and can't get up from my chair. 

Coffee: I had a pour over from a little place next to the birthday party we went to today.  It was delicious, but what's a pour over?

Cups and Bags Challenge: A friend at her annual Halloween party reported that she bought a latte with her reusable cup! Way to go!!! AND an old friend from highschool reported that he uses a reusable cup daily, so, we're on a roll now baby!! Ok, so today we're at $50. (Halfway!) If you use a reusable cup to buy any drink, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Now I Know

Day 51: Oct. 25, 2013

My mom often used to say,  you're causing me to have a nervous breakdown! I never quite knew what she meant back then. Needless to say, I now know exactly what she meant. Good night!

Coffee: Today I took my kids to the library, and we all enjoyed bagels with cream cheese and I enjoyed two decafs in my reusable cup!

Cups and Bags Challenge: Still at $48. If you use a reusable cup to buy a drink, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thoughts on Kindergarten and Conversations at the Dentist. (When you can't think of a title, make it a long one!)

Dy 50: Oct. 24, 2013

On my mind today: where should my daughter attend Kindergarten next year? This question always arises when I go to the dentist. And when you’re having your teeth cleaned, you inevitably find yourself locked into a one sided conversation. I adore my dental hygienist. She’s smart, nice, and she has two girls, four and six.   She has the best kids in the world, and her first grader goes to the Japanese immersion school fifteen minutes from her house and they love it, and they have no doubt it’s worth the drive and their daughter bosses her little sister around in Japanese now. And they both went to a Montessori preschool where they learned more than all the first graders in the public school system by the time they were four, so they’re only choice was Japanese immersion (French and Spanish are too easy,) because now at least they will be challenged.  By the time I get my mouth back, and have a moment to respond, all I can say is wow, you’re really on the ball, and your kids are heading in the right direction, all the while wallowing in self doubt about how my kids are learning absolutely nothing in their very ordinary pre-school, and probably hate it, and although I see the benefit of language immersion, the thought of driving twenty five minutes to the Japanese school is horrifying.

Then I think, ok, calm down. These are the things I want my kids to be exposed to while they are young: music, some structured physical activity and language.  Language immersion is very practical for the language side of things, I give it that. Our neighborhood school, however, is two minutes away and they can take the bus. And its a perfectly good school, probably very good.

The problem for me is that this town has a mind boggling number of choices for schooling your child. There are neighborhood schools, any of which one can lottery into if one chooses, charter schools, private schools, lots of home schooling resources, language immersion schools, "alternative schools," religious schools. Absolutely everyone I talk to has a different opinion about one or other of the schools, and my brain is ready to explode with non-information. Meaning, I don't actually know anything first hand about any of the schools. I have visited two of them in my madness, and both were charming in their own ways. I started visiting the schools last year, and when I would tell the receptionist that my daughter was going to be in kindergarten over a year down the road, she would tell me to suck it and wait until next year because they have enough to keep track of without over eager, judgmental women roaming the halls.

What it comes down to is this: I can decide to go with that tiny little bean inside my gut that's telling me that my kids will take the bus to their neighborhood school, leave it at that, and make my life a million times easier this year, or I can parade from school to school on my free mornings, take notes, envision heaven or hell within each of their walls, then my child could actually get into more than one of our top choices and we'd have to then decide between them. Oh boy! This is going to be a fun process!

Coffee: No cups bought today!

Cups and Bags Challenge: One report of a latte bought with a reusable cup! Yay!! So, that puts us at $48? I think that's right. If you use a reusable cup, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

She's Gone

Day 49: Oct. 23, 2013

It's over. Jane is gone. I finished the book. I am in a mourning period.

The ending was gripping to say the least. I read it twice because it being over was not acceptable. Thank goodness St. John refused to take her to India as a "sister." She was ready to go. She would have left her heart in England and trudged her mind to India to try and convince Hindus to become Christian and follow Jesus Christ. Oh, I am glad she stuck to her guns! I get it now. When I wrote  Jane W. Bush,  I scolded her for her rigidity. But in the end, her rigidity brings her back to Edward who is the one for her, the one with whom she can be herself (isn't that what we all want?) and he's blind, but that's better because it gives her valuable feelings of self worth to help him, and it brings them closer. She translates the visual world into words, and he listens! They have kids and by that time, his one eye that is still there, begins to see ever so slightly so that when he holds his first born, he can see his little boy's eyes. (Tears, here.)

I would be curious to know how ridiculous this all sounds to an actual English Professor. And to know more about the symbolism in the novel. And how this novel was received in its day. And was Charlotte Bronte rigid and repressed in every day life or was she an expressive odd ball? Ugh, now I might have to read some non-fiction to find the answers to these pressing questions. (Not until I finish Pride and Prejudice.)

One thing I love about Charlotte's style is how she has Jane address the reader. "Dear reader," she would say often. It was cute. And I always respond, "yes, Jane?" "I agree, Jane." "Tell me more, Jane."

If you have read this book, or are planning to read it, please, share your thoughts in the comments. I do want to start/join a book club and we're talking about it, but we're all so darn busy, it might never happen.

Coffee: Should have had some Caf. today. No cups bought, though.

Cups and Bags Challenge: Still the same today!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Large Popcorn, Please.

Day 48: Oct. 22, 2013

Right now, at this moment, I would like to smoke some pot, or get really drunk at a bar, or go to a movie and eat a large popcorn, or sit in front of my tv watching reruns of Downton Abbey and eat a large bag of chips. I'll take any one of these, even if I would regret all of them after doing them. Imagining doing them is proving to be almost enough, interestingly. Its getting me over this little moment of lassitude before taking my daughter to dance class. I think the movie with the popcorn is the most appealing because it involves zero effort. Just sitting and eating and being entertained.

Well, its later in the day now, and to report, we did not make it to dance class. I am struggling to decide if this is ok. My daughter was tired, and was very reasonable in her explanation that not going today did not mean she was through with dance class altogether. She did say that she often gets tired in the middle of her class, which doesn't surprise me at all, and I wonder if she's actually bored and therefore "tired," or if she's tired from being awake since 7 a.m. and dance is at 4 p.m.

My daughter has been obsessed with Dance since she was two. Probably earlier. I spent a lot of time with her blasting Mozart Overture's and running around the living room. (You should try this. Its really really fun.) I would always try my ballet moves out (which are not really ballet moves, but to me they are.) And then we saw a production of Peter and the Wolf at a theater, and that was it. She's been in love with ballet ever since. The verdict is still out though. Is it a love of the outfits? Definitely yes, but I also think its the music. And she does like to move. We dance in her room when you can see the floor, and she's in love with movement. Still, it will be interesting to see if its true what she says. "Mommy, I will have a job when I grow up and it will be being a ballerina."

One thing I was so grateful for as a kid was that my mother was totally ok with me missing a day of school here and there. It was extremely rare, but probably once a year I just didn't want to go. This was mostly when I was old enough to stay home by myself, and I did and truly rested, then I was good the next day. Today, we all felt tired, and sometimes we have to power through, and sometimes we can say no and rest. It doesn't mean we're lazy or going to spiral into an abyss of pot smoking, bar drinking, movie watching and popcorn binging. (Although, I would like to arrange one of these activities to take place as soon as possible.)

Coffee: One decaf from the gas station in my reusable cup, and one at home in my enormous brown mug.

Cups and Bags Challenge: The same very reliable user emailed me today, and happily we're exchanging more than just coffee usage in our emails now! (I know him, its not creepy.) Anyway, that brings us up to $48! If you use a reusable cup to buy coffee, email me here: cupsandbags@yahoo.com and I'll send a dollar to Bring Recycling!