Monday, December 19, 2011

Is This What We've Become?

This is my neighbor's house. He's got a star, Sponge Bob, a snowman, Rudolph, a snow globe, and candy canes. For Halloween, he had a giant, gory vampire bat creature dripping blood and hanging upside down from his garage.

I don't want to sound prudish, or like I'm preaching, but...GOSH, is this what we've become? We have taken God out of everything, it seems, even the holiday that is supposed to be about Him. Worse, we've made everything so based on materialism and "stuff" that Sponge Bob, the obnoxious sponge, sells Christmas, and mangers offend. 

I shudder when we drive by this house. To me, it exemplifies what Christmas has become for so many--in all its glittery horror.

I felt this way when the world was gearing up for black Friday. Everyone seemed to be forgetting to pause and to say thank you to God for their blessings and their families. In this warp speed we call life, we work our tails off to buy more stuff to spend less time with the people the "stuff" is supposed to be for.

Henry David Thoreau talked about simplifying. "I went to the woods to live deliberately, to suck the marrow out of life." 

I don't feel like we live deliberately any more. We live in a shiny, flashy blur. We live on autopilot. We don't make the most important things meaningful. I see it in my students sometimes. There is a loneliness in their eyes. They long for recognition and attention. They need to matter. Their parents have not only stopped monitoring their homework, they have stopped teaching them basic life lessons- manners and morals, kindness,

This isn't the time of year I want to focus on this. I won't spend another precious minute worrying about it, but I just had to VENT. 

 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
~Matthew 6: 19-21

A Tail of Two Piggies...err Kitties

Can you match the tail to its owner?

Some are curly
Some are stout
Some are fluffy
Some stick out
All unique
All adored
Can you tell that someone's 
Reallllllly bored?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I Am Not Like Most People...

1) I don't follow sports. I don't know teams, players, who is playing, what "place" they are in, or even what season it is. I don't care about them at all. The only games I watch (sorta) are high school football games, and only because I feel ownership of the team since some of those guys are my students. :)

2) I don't care a lick about cars. I think people pay outrageous car payments. I haven't had a car payment in over 3 years! 

3) I text and Facebook using proper grammar. I shudder when I read "dat" instead of "that", "ur" instead of "your", "neva" instead of "never", "ta" instead of "to", and "sista" instead of "sister." YUCK.

4) I am not competitive in the least EXCEPT when it involves classroom competitions.

5) I don't understand why ANYONE would want to put nuts in ANYTHING...especially walnuts. YUCK again!

6) I like the smell of my dog's breath even though it repulses most people.

7) I don't really like talking to people one on one. I am better at writing or speaking with/to a classroom of students...even to a room of parents. I would rather speak or perform in front of a large group than actually CONVERSE with someone.  I seriously get panicky because I think I'll run out of stuff to say.  This doesn't apply to talking on the phone with close friends or to my husband or kids or close family. It applies to talking to someone I know, but not super well. I hate the pressure. I also worry I'll talk too much if I get going, or not enough if I don't come up with a topic quickly enough.

8) I am not good at lying or "faking it" when I don't really care for a person. I like to be genuine. I know that white lies are often necessary, or that people need to be politicians at times. I just don't like it. I avoid eye contact when I get uncomfortable in these sorts of situations. I need to learn to play the game and act friendly even when I'm not feelin' it.

9) If I don't read before bed, I cannot fall asleep. Even if it's just a page, I must read. I also get really worried if I'm out and about without a book on my person (either in my purse or in my car.) I have a reading app on my Iphone, but it's not the same.

10) I always have fun when I go out and do something, but I never like having a plan to go. I like the idea of staying home with my kids, my pugs, my cats, my books, and my tea. I traveled to the East Coast a couple of years ago and had the time of my life. I loved every minute of it, but before I left, I didn't want to go. I got so nervous and thought about how much everyone would miss me, how the plane could crash, how it was too long to be away from everything...I dreaded it. Then, I just went, and I loved it. I'm sure some psychologist type would tell me that I had panic disorder or anxiety. I probably do. I'm glad it doesn't stop me from doing the things I end up enjoying! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Like Taffy

Ever have those moments where you look at your kids and feel overwhelmed and in awe of them? I felt that way tonight watching Emma do her homework...her furrowed brow, her freckles, her serious expression. I had a moment where I saw her perfect little baby head, bald as can be, and her ginormous baby cheeks. How did she turn into this 5th grader writing in her reading log, chewing on her pencil?

This blog is often about life's little moments, about family, about pugs, teaching, and random thoughts--but it always circles back around to the two girls God blessed me with.

On the way home to get ready for water polo practice tonight, Grace piped up from the back seat, "Now, when we get home, don't dilly dally! We have to get our bathing suits, grab towels, and get back in the car. I don't want to be late!"

As she speaks, I'm thinking, "Dilly dally....where did she get that term? Do I say that? Does she remember it from Grandma Otti? Is she an 85-year-old woman trapped in the body of a 5th grader?"

My brain begins to spin in circles.

I reflect....

My childhood felt like an eternity. We lived in Mammoth. Danielle was born. We moved to Bishop. We went to school. It was so cold in the Winter that my legs would be purple beneath my knee high socks. We swam at Mill Pond in the summer, trying to stand up and "walk" on the logs that floated in the pond. We played all around the neighborhood, catching pollywogs and saving baby birds. We rode horses, practiced piano, and ate one of the several home-cooked meals my mom would make: tacos, spaghetti, meatloaf, fried chicken, or pork chops. Or, we ate at the Sizzler, and since my parents owned it, we ate there a lot. We roller skated in the driveway. We sang in chorus, played on the monkey bars, and went to the Presbyterian church. The driveway was long, and so were the days of summer, when my sister and I would curl up together in the lazy boy and watch reruns of The Love Boat and The Price is Right. We did homework, got stuck on math lessons, and read book after book after book. We went to school dances, and were too shy to dance with the boys. We went to youth group. We skied Mammoth. We played lots and lots of Barbies. Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and Care Bears made appearances, but Barbies dominated. We camped, went fishing, and roasted marshmallows. We told ghost stories. We ate chocolate chip cookie dough, and discovered bagels and cream cheese. We grew, our knees scabbed from crashing bicycles and our legs bruised from climbing trees.

My point?

This. Took. Forever.


My daughters are ten. TEN! They will be in middle school next year. They will grow into 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in the blink of an eye. They (may) get attitudes. They (will) hit puberty (and without Judy Blume's help!) They will have crushes on boys. They will be hurt by gossip, and betrayed by friends. They will make new friends. They will learn to let things go. They will fall in love and get their hearts broken and fall in love again. They will apply to college and suffer through standardized tests.

In my head, this is all happening like those fast-forward sequences in a movie.


I need to pause a minute every once in a while and tell you about my daughter's freckles, or about the time my other daughter said "dilly dally" on the way to water polo practice. I need to tell you that it was only three seconds ago that the two of them were babies, one with a bald head, one with a pacifier, both with fiery attitudes and big belly laughs.

I need you to know that this isn't about your entertainment, but about me, stretching each moment between my fingers like taffy, pulling it longer and longer to see every bit of it before it goes away.

Thank you for understanding.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Lovely Lady

Grandma's 90th Birthday- (Not 2025!) :)

When Grandma, Gracie and I had tea at the Huntington Gardens. 

The girls' third birthday. Grandma always loved being right in the middle of the fun.

Christmas 2008. Praying before dinner.

Grams and Megan.

One of my favorites. She was in her absolute glory in the picture!

Sassy little great-grandkids!

Grandma and almost all of her great grandkids. Such a precious picture.

Last year- trying on junk jewelry. I even decorated her head! :)

Having her own personal piano recital from Emma

Another VERY fond memrory- Grandma got really dressed up to come down the street to dinner. 

Relaxing with Megan after our dinner

She adored ALL dogs- Sophie knew it!

Olivia knew it too!

One of her final visits with Auntie Anne. This was a good day.

With Danielle at my Master's Degree celebration

Gracie and Grandma on her last birthday

Both girls with Grams on her last birthday

Mom and Grandma with some of the gifts. Notice the Baileys!

I love her!

Kissing my hand after she gave me the ring

This cracks me up. She put her Bailey's in her walker.

Her final Christmas

Over Christmas break. Having some chamomile tea with me.

The infamous dalmatian robe and her wine

The gals and Grandma on their last visit. I'm so grateful they had this!

What a precious memory. 

My Grandma Otti was a lovely lady in every way. She lived in Chicago as a young girl, and she used to drive her dad's cars around the city to run errands for him as early as twelve years old. Later, she moved to California after her family lost everything. They started out in the Pomona area, and later moved to San Diego. She raised my Uncle Tom and mom in a house in La Mesa on a street called Butterfly Lane. We visited the house last year, driving through the neighborhood where her children played. In the past year, Grandma had a better memory for things in the past than for things that happened a week ago. She told vivid stories about her parents, my grandpa's job at the hardware store, and her friends in the swim club. I asked Grandma recently what her favorite time of life was, and she said that it was being a mother to her kids when they were young. She was a true caregiver.

Grandma Otti's husband and my grandfather Tom died when I was in fifth grade, and it was from that point on that I felt a pull on my heart every time we would leave after a visit with Grandma Otti. I remember pulling out of her driveway while she waved and wondering if she was lonely, or if I would see her again. (I thought she was VERY old. Grandma had grey hair in her early 30's, so she looked like a grandma for a very long time. Little did I know she would live to meet my daughters and to know them as ten-year-olds!)

Grandma was definitely a lady of The Depression. She was very frugal with her money, always saying, "We'll make that." She didn't throw ANYTHING away...from toothpaste tubes to old curtains, the "treasures" in Grandma's house were a plenty! I remember her snatching my Raggedy Ann doll to "fix it" when I was about nine years old. I found the doll years later (in my 20s!) in a box in her garage when we were moving her out of her house. I teased her that she kidnapped dolls.

Grandma was known for loading kids up into the car and going on adventures. She could make a trip to KMart exciting! I used to look forward to riding the horse merry-go-round in the front of the grocery store. Grandma would also put up with frequent visits to the Barbie aisle, and although she didn't buy me Barbies, she always had a box of ancient dolls/plastic animals/blocks/books/toys/etc. to play with.

Grandma was a beach grandma. She taught me to make drip castles, to duck under body boards, to swim. She never forgot the sunscreen, and would make us wait at least 30 minutes to go in the water.

I loved visiting my grandma at her house in Poway. She had a white swing on her patio and a very big Bougainvillea bush next to the patio gate. She would teach us to water the trees and plants, to pull weeds, and to clip roses in her beautiful yard, but we never wanted to listen too long; we were anxious to go into the pool. Grandma usually let us go after having us complete a chore or teaching us a life lesson. She loved to teach us important aspects of life.

Grandma taught me to drive. I was overly-confident, and put the pedal to the metal. When this happened, she slapped me on the leg repeatedly until I slowed down. She was more upset at my speedy driving than when I accidentally crashed her Acura. (She had allowed me to drive to the mall in the rain, and I only had my learner's permit.) Although a worrier about some things, Grandma was never one to hold back on something that would teach you a lesson. Crashing the car after failing to understand a four-way stop was a definite lesson.

I loved sharing books with my Grandma. Before she lost her eyesight, she was an avid reader. She and I would read the same books and talk about them. We liked the same kind of movies as well. She took me to see Dead Poet's Society in the theater and we both cried like babies when it was over.

Grandma drove longer than she should have. She used to pull up to the front of my house in Ocean Beach and hit the neighbor's car, back into our trash cans, and then deny she did either of those things. She had a knack for exaggeration. I remember her telling her friends that my family had a "summer home" in the mountains (which was really a fifth wheel trailer), and I would be horribly embarrassed because I hated to be considered "rich."

Grandma loved to cook. She made pot roast, mashed potatoes, and coconut cake. She loved making poached eggs on toast for any hungry grandchildren in the morning. Her kitchen was filled with the most beautiful, tiny dishes and plates. She would NEVER serve you something out of its original container. Instead, she would put it into a fancy dish with a tiny spoon. Ketchup? Fancy dish. Sugar? Fancy dish.

My grandma loved Dalmatians, the color purple, Oprah, Dr. Phil, wine, and candy. She was often scared that the great grandkids would swipe her candy, so she would hide it in her dresser drawers or her bookshelf, but then forget where she'd put it. There were many stale candies found years after they'd been safely hidden.

My grandma had many quirky sayings, like "Bingle Bangle Boom" and "It's the Dickens." If she wanted a piece of something, she would say, "Give me a 'hunk' of that." She liked to try pieces of things but pretend she wasn't going to eat the whole thing, so she would "test" See's Candy or a dozen donuts by picking bits off each one and leaving the rest.

On my Grandma's final birthday, she gave me a beautiful gift. She had recently hurt her hand falling, and her ring finger was sore. She could no longer wear her wedding ring, and she knew that I loved the ring more than anything. She gave me her ring, and I didn't even need to have it fitted. It is a perfect fit! I now look at it as a reminder of how much I loved my grandma, and how important family is in our lives.

I adored my grandma and will never, ever forget what a wonderful grandma she was. I hope to be just that sort of grandma. I will most likely be stubborn. I will probably exaggerate. I will definitely make up weird sayings. I will very likely pick at sweets like donuts and chocolate, and hide them from my grandkids. Most importantly, I will love my family deeply. I will teach them all that I know. I will give them my time, attention, and wisdom. I will do this in honor of my grandma, who showered me with love.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Spring Break Wills and Will Nots

It is supposed to be spring. The weather disagrees. It hailed here today! I just turned on the HEATER. :(

I am on a break from school for the next two weeks.

I Will:
  • sleep in
  • read (the pile of books on my nightstand is becoming treacherous.)
  • cook....something
  • visit the ranch- our birds live up at Gidget's now, so we have all kinds of animals to see
  • chill
  • veg
  • catch up on TIVO shows and watch a movie or two on instant Netflix
  • exercise (Jillian Michaels tapes! Woo hoo)
  • do "Where I'm From" poems with my gals. I'm interested to see what theirs will be like
  • tell my husband how sweet and handsome he is
  • paint the kitchen mocha
  • hold the pugs, pet the cats, make voices for all of them...
  • figure out my new computer gadget. It's some kind of pen that transcribes handwriting onto the computer. I won it at the CADA conference.
  • visit with Grandma Otti 
  •  (cough) grade papers so my life won't be insane when I return to school
  • brew tea/drink tea
  • take naps
  • get crafty
  • read out loud to my girls
I Won't:
  • get up before 8:30/9:00
  • make plans that I don't REALLY want to do just because I don't want to say no
  • eat Jeff Smith's delicious unhealthy treats that lay about tempting me to devour them
  • get upset when I see my birds at the ranch (they had to move out due to my daughter's allergies)
  • write blog posts about the daughter I mentioned above because she likes her privacy
  • spend too much time on Facebook or the computer 
  • spend too much time lesson planning for the last 6 weeks of school (even though I'm stressing about how to fit the rest in with 6 weeks left)
  • spend too much time fretting over the number of days I have left of my break
  • watch mindless television just because it is on
  • worry. "Consider the lilies..."
  • complain
  • take out my i-phone when there is a real human being in front of me

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Poetic Food Chain

Learned about the mountain food chain from my daughter today:

The sun gives the mustard plant energy,
The gopher eats the mustard plant,
The weasel eats the gopher,
...The mountain lion eats the weasel,
...The mountain lion dies...then decomposes...
and it all starts again.
The sun is the most important, or there is no food chain.

Now that is poetry.

Monday, March 28, 2011


One of my darling daughters-I'm not saying which one- is upset that I write about her on Facebook. (I don't even KNOW what she'll say when she remembers this blog!) She does not appreciate me sharing stories about her, even among friends. She said she does NOT appreciate my posts. Her life is HER business.

I told her that I love sharing stories about her. (I realize that this sounds selfish.)

I told her that I would never share things that would humiliate her. (Now that she's ten...when she was little, I did share about mermaids in the tub, Tom Men, and having a "dent." See previous blogs for further explanations.)

I told her that the world loves to hear the intelligent, funny, adorable, quirky things she says.

She gave me the eyeroll.

"Please!" I begged. "How can I write about just one of you?"

We came up with an agreement. I will let her read and approve the post before "putting it out there."

I honor that. I would want the same thing from someone writing about me. I feel like we've just taken a giant step toward Teenage-land, but she's only ten!

I will keep my end of the agreement. I will NOT post anything about her on Facebook without her approval, even though writing is what I do. I will be consciencious toward her feelings.

Essentially, I now have an editor. A ten-year-old editor. I feel her gaze on every word I type.

How do newspaper columnists write about their families or their world without getting into trouble?

What about people who write novels that are "entirely fiction"?

NOT writing about my family (including this daughter) is like not using my arms for the day. Writing about the people I love is what I DO.

So I will go forward, cautiously writing tidbits that are probably meaningless to most of the world, all the while knowing that they mean everything to my ten-year-old editor who hopes to keep a shred of privacy and dignity despite having a mother whose life is like a coffee table book of art, open for the world to see.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Circle of Life

Emma and I were scrolling through the television, looking for shows that would be interesting, and nothing good was on. We ended up on a show about animals. The screen showed a big, white goose chasing a very small fox.

"Oh!" I said, "look at the adorable goose!"

"What's she doing?" asked Emma. "Oh HOW CUTE! She's chasing that little fox. What a bossy goose!"

"Too funny," I agreed, when all of a sudden, the camera zoomed in and I realized why the goose was chasing the fox. The fox had a baby gosling in his mouth. The baby was STILL ALIVE, squaking, and the mama goose was running after the fox to get her baby.

My fingers fumbled on the remote. I tried to change the channel, but couldn't make the evil image go away. My fingers seemed to get wider and more awkward in their panic. I shouted with terror. "AWWWWWWWWWWRRRRRGGGGG!!!"

Finally the screen darkened.

My daughter and I just looked at each other with wide eyes. Her lower lip began to tremble. Suddenly, she whispered, "Why does stuff like that ALWAYS have to happen to us?"

And we both started to laugh. Loudly. We stared at each other, crying and then laughing, and then snorting and laughing.

"I guess that's the circle of life," Emma mustered.

Yes. The circle of life. The moments you adore. The moments you abhor. The moments in between. The fox and the goose. The fumble. The tears and laughter...and the moments that allow for both.

It's all soooo worth it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

These Have I Hated...

hairy spiders (sorry, Charlotte!)
half-melted, dirty snow
being cold
pills that get stuck in your throat
sweaters that are wet from the washing machine, and that feeling you get when you pick one up
mold on veggies that you JUST bought
foot cramps
kitty litter boxes
early morning meetings/appointments/anything
flat bike tires
microwaved frozen meals
the jeopardy song
slimy talk show hosts who provoke fights
morning breath
the word "x-mas"
grammar errors 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

True Love

The husband is buried here, and the wife's name is on the gravestone without any date of death. We saw this on Valentine's day...I'm assuming the wife left these flowers for her husband.

These Have I Loved...

banana pancakes
pug snores
MAC (computers AND makeup)
letters (the old fashioned kind)
Jello Cook and Serve Chocolate Pudding
roller skates (the old-school kind)
Dylan Thomas
used book stores
warm vanilla scented Candles
newly sharpened pencils
three-day weekends
hazelnut lattes
American history
The Central Coast
pumpkin pie
horse muzzles
bedtime herbal tea
tiny sandwiches
Clinique perfume
ballet flats
Anne Taylor Loft
hot, hot baths
maps (including Google map!)
typing really fast
The Gaslamp in San Diego
sleeping in
cat whiskers
red wine
theaters (for acting)
going out to breakfast
Edna St. Vincent Millay
"how you met" stories
Huntington Gardens
scones be discovered continuously...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Piggy Tails and Whoopie Pies

All dressed up and nowhere to go!

The lunch lady getting ready to go out on the town.

My girl Gracie making Valentine's whoopie pies

 Fancy mix

Claire Bear didn't help make pies, but posed in the apron. :)

I'm busy Mama! Take the picture already!

As usual, they wait for accidental dropping

The finished product...yum!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Trip

Me, sometime in the 1970's (look at the pic on the left)

Grace, 2006

Me, October 1979 or 80?

Emma, November 2010

Like mother, like daughter(s)!