Tuesday, August 29, 2006


So there it is. Huh. Where'd that come from?

Now: anyone know how to get rid of the silly little pencils that appear by our comments?


A Techno Wizard I am not

So I decided that one fine use of my time this evening would be to try one of those zoom cloud things. I made one. I copied-and-pasted code into our blog template, feeling quite zippy and techy. It showed up in the preview. I added a heading.

But now it's gone, and I give up since it's after 10. But I wonder what I did wrong? Sigh. And it was kinda cool too.

This was another excuse to not write a real blog entry. Sigh. At least we have LCS to keep us entertained!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I'm not old, I'm retro

OK, so now I'm not only an old lady, I can't stand today's fashions. There, I've said it. Never been much of a fashion pariah, but I used to think, "Wow, if only I had no budget, I could really look great in that outfit." Now I think, "Wow, if only I had no budget, I could look like I did in 8th grade. Minus the braces and the bilevel, but 8th grade nonetheless."
The reason for my lament about the state of fashion today: I went to the Gap's website, to see what's out there. I haven't shopped for a while but I'm sure I've hit the malls since 1988. I'm sure of it. But what I saw could have fooled me. They had some outfits all picked out for their online shoppers with no creativity, what did I find? The very outfit I would have loved in 8th grade. Not because I was such a fashion-forward 8th grader. BECAUSE THIS OUTFIT WAS COOL IN 8TH GRADE! Yikes, people! This outfit put together by the good people at the gap consisted of a halter-polo top, a mini-skirt and (drumroll, please).... CONVERSE!! Not that there's anything wrong with Converse, but I had a pair in 8th grade, NO JOKE. Of course, I was so cool I had written all over them and had my friends sign them and stuff, and I wore them with a miniskirt, or at least wished that I had. To make matters worse, the outfit was titled. (It's so bad it makes me cringe, kind of like when people title their photos... "Susie wants you to play too!" and "Making funny faces for daddy!" Pictures say a thousand words, people... don't tell me what I'm supposed to think about them... but I digress.) This particular outfit is called "Sleek and sexy." Nothing wrong with being sleek or sexy. But I know of exactly no one who is sexy in Converse. Fun, maybe. Sporty, perhaps. But not sleek and certainly not sexy. (Ever seen the insides of a pair of Cons worn with no socks for about 5 minutes? Definitely not sexy.)
So that's it. Maybe I should offer some solutions to the fashion designers of today, but I have none. I just don't ever want to go back to the '80's and it looks like that's where we are going. It's a good time to be a stay at home mom, because my fashion statements include spit up on my shoulders, not shoulder pads. Scary thing is, I heard a whisper that those were coming back too. When the Gunny Sax store opens up, it's all over for me, folks. I'll be stuck wearing my 2004 model clothes that are safe from the influence of 1988 while Paris Hilton parades around in Keds, a hot-pink polo with the color up and acid washed jeans. Ick ick ick.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

If only I was a worm...

Yesterday driving home from an errand, our oldest informed us of the following: "If I was a worm I would have only one leg."
I'm glad when I get reminded that life is actually a lot simpler than I make it out to be in my mind.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Book report: *Feathered Serpent*

This is my book report on Colin Falconer's *Feathered Serpent*.
This book is set in the early 1500's and based on historical facts surrounding Hernan Cortes' hostile takeover of the Mexica people whose capitol was Tenoctitlan. If I ever have another child I think I will name him or her Tenoctitlan because it's fun to say. The basic gist of the story is that Cortes goes in with about 3 Spaniards and is able to gain control of the very well-established Mexica culture, government, people and lands because his interpreter/lover believes he is the god from the Cloud Lands profesied by her father. From a novel perspective, this is a really easy read and very interesting. From a historical perspective, it seems quite accurate although I am no expert. Our schools should be teaching us about how our country was taken from the indiginous peoples. But here's the thing this book also demonstrates, perhaps more than anything: The Importance of Being an Appropriate Interpreter. (Not where you thought this was going, right??)
When I was a paid member of society, I worked as a bilingual medical social worker. (Hefty title, little paycheck.) I cannot tell you how many times people didn't recognize the importance of using an appropriate interpreter. We had doctors who didn't think twice about using Maria's 8-yr old son to interpret medical information that she probably didn't want him to know. Now before you get all riled up and suggest that Maria should bring her own interpreter, let me inform you of something. Maria is entitled (that's right, ENTITLED) to an interpreter through the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which every institution which receives federal dollars (hospitals for example, receive Medicare funds which are federal) is responsible to uphold. Is it convenient? No. But people must be afforded correct information that hasn't been edited because of who the interpreter is, and sometimes that kind of information isn't convenient. Now, back to the book.
So, Cortes meanders through modern day Mexico, which had been conquered by the Mexica and all the indiginous groups paid tribute to the Mexica and were none too pleased by it. Early on in his travels, he meets an indiginous woman who knows the right languages to help him out and learns Spanish as well. All along, she believes he is the incarnation of Feathered Serpent. Initially he does not know this and so when he asks her to interpret things he says to the locals, she embellishes and literally changes the course of history because she convinces whole nations that he is indeed a god incarnate. They'd all like to be released from their yearly taxes to the Mexica and follow him once they believe her lies. Eventually he has a bit of an army with which to enter Tenoctitlan. While I'm sure he appreciated the help, the interesting thing is that he never intended for them to believe he was a god, and even told his interpreter to clarify that point with them (which she does not do).
This is a really interesting read as far as a book goes. It demonstrates the power of words and their ability to affect history. It is a clear picture of how entertwined our words, feelings and beliefs are, to the point that they start to influence each other.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I'm officially not cool.

It was one of those I'm-really-old-moments for me. I was at Target and heard this girl talking on her cell phone with a friend. Conversation went something like this (this is an excerpt only, so as not to bore you with the details): "So what's up with all that s***? Really? You ain't so f***n bad, why you get grounded? You guys high? (Aside to reader: it is 10:30 IN THE MORNING.) Yeah, I'm in the Army. Going out in a few weeks." blah blah blah with a whole lot more 4-letter-words blah. OK, so I'm officially over 30, but it's not been *too* long since I was a young'un. And I can honestly say I didn't know anyone who would have been (a) high at 10.30 in the morning except for the stoners circa 1988 and I think they just talked big in my town, (b) chatting about it casually in Target for all shoppers to enjoy, and (c) choosing to defend our country as casually as if they got a job at Taco Bell. I wanted to interrupt her and remind her that WE'RE AT WAR, GIRL. And we wonder how things like prisoner abuse in Iraq happens. Because these are the people out there fighting the good fight. Another reason we should never have gone to war.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kids these days!

Imagine a living room filled with colorful, noise-making toys which toy engineers have spent zillions of R&D dollars developing. Now add to that same room a jumbled mess of cords, for the computer, cell phone charger and table lamp. Guess where a squirming almost-crawling (sob!) 6 month old will be 99.99% of the time? No, not playing Farmer in the Dell by pushing the puppy's red nose. He's gnawing on a cord. My vote: off with the heads of the toy people! They obviously just don't understand kids these days.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Teaching begins, housing dilemmas continue

We seem to be pretty good at expending a lot of energy over things that aren't in our immediate control, while ignoring the dirty dishes in the sink. Or maybe I should say _I_...

We've continued looking around with an incredibly patient, kind, low-key realtor who must have shown us every house in our fair city by now. We're still drawn to Hidden Springs, although the reaction when I tell others that is interesting: "oh, that's very chi-chi!" "hmm...X loves it out there; it feels creepy to me." It is a touch creepy--almost perfect in its desire to be a new-old-cool-perfectly mixed architecture place.

But still. We looked at several more this week in the *real* old-cool neighborhood, and they just don't quite cut it. Are we too spoiled? Too chi-chi ourselves? They need significant structural changes, or they've been added onto willy-nilly, or three of their listed bedrooms are in a full basement. That smells like mold. And features 1960s decor. And these houses almost never have garages.

HS has thoughtfully designed houses with cool built-ins and space is used really well. Yards are small, but it depends on the lot. Most garages are in the back off alleys, but not all. Swimming pools and parks are within walking distance, as is a school. Okay, I'll indulge: the floor plan we like most (after going through the models, yet again, this afternoon) is this one, except it has a porch on the second floor, of the master bedroom. It looks better in person than in the picture, by the way. We also thought long and hard about this one, but decided that, while very cool and unique, it was a bit too unique--the apartment above the garage was too separate for us.

So, to continue on a totally self-serving post all about me and my housing obsessions, we went and looked at some with potential in the real cool old neighborhoods this afternoon (well, on the *edges* of the cool part): this one, and this one. We've only seen them from the outside, so who knows what challenges they pose on the inside.

Oh, and here's the funniest part of all this: we have no financing, and all of these are far beyond our means. But we're dreambuilding anyway.

small business

Okay, so maybe it's not *that* funny--but just a little bit? Here's a list of small businesses named (strangely) after literary things of various types.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Throw me some cash and I'll show up

Did you hear?

Paris Hilton, who is famous for doing absolutely nothing, says she really understands what life was like for Princess Diana. (Oh, except for the part about bringing attention to landmines, AIDS and the plight of third-world countries. But I digress.) Paris knows the struggle of living a life running from the paparazzi. Apparently, it's just so hard. You see, poor Paris has to show up at parties all over the world, and guess what? Poor thing, she gets paid to be there. And we're talking $500K for an appearance. She recently had an appearance in Austria where she had to tell all the adoring fans why she loves Austria. Got a cool million for that. Maybe they included travel expenses. (And what did she love about Austria, you wonder? That she got a million bucks for being there, of course. That is a quote.)

Before my eyes got stuck rolled back in my head, I was going to write an eloquent post about the difficulties of a life that does NOT include $500,000 appearances. But I think (just a hunch) that anyone reading this probably can appreciate those difficulties so I won't go into it. So I'm starting my Gratefulness Campaign. I have so much to be thankful for. A husband who cares about his family, two great kids who are not going to run around thinking that everyone has a six-digit salary, and a roof over my head. And that's just a start. When I start to feel sorry for myself I'm going to remember that even Paris Hilton goes shopping. That's evidence that in her glorious universe, even she has the need for more stuff. The life I lead has so many priceless people and attributes that all the money in the world won't buy and I'm going to start, right now, to be glad for that.

(But you should read this article: http://www.housingca.org/2006/07/17/rcac-issues-top-10-list-of-workers-who-cant-afford-a-home-in-california/).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Books you should read and one you shouldn't

So now I've read two posts (one here on this enlightening blog) and one at Tales of a Psycho Momma, which you can find to your right since, again, I can't link things like this. In the interest of showing off my ability to critically read, I want to give you a rundown of what I've been into these days.
_The Sultan's Harem_ by Colin Falconer. A deliciously long book based on the life of Sultan Suleyman Something-or-other (aka Keeper of Men's Necks, a dashing title if I do say so myself) and a few of the women in his harem. For some reason (perhaps because of the Alhambra in Spain) I'm fascinated by harems. They were basically a group of women kept for the needs of the sultan, and they developed their own complications out of his control. It's really, really easy to read and based on a lot of fact, although surely he embellished a bit. Checked against the never-erring Wikipedia, however, this is certainly a historical novel and not one made up out of nowhere. If you want a book you can't put down that won't be over in an hour, READ THIS BOOK.
_The Monk Downstairs_ by Tim Farrington. I grabbed this at the library having never read any of his books but this was really quite good. Kind of an interesting concept (man leaves monastery after 20 yrs and falls into a relationship with his landlady. High bubblegum factor, and overall a fun book.
_Mappin the Edge_ by Sarah Dunant. Also one of those grabbed-at-the-library-as-fast-as-I-could books. This book was good, really good... I think. It was a little confusing, in a Choose-your-own-adventure kind of way. I won't say more than that. The gist of the story is that a single mom of a 6-yr old girl takes off for Italy without telling anyone what she is up to and doesn't come back as planned. No one can figure out if there's been foul play or if she's running away from her life... I hope my sister reads this one, because I really want her take on it.
And finally!
A BOOK I HATED HATED HATED! Possibly because I had high expectations, but most likely because it was just AWFUL!!!!! (and all of you know I'd never be overly dramatic)
_Two Women_ by Marianne Fredriksson. The reason I had high expectations was because I've read_ Hanna's daughters_ and _Simon's Family_ and really enjoyed them both, I think (it has been a while). Marianne Fredriksson is Swedish and her stories are typically based (at least in part) in Sweden. That's always appealed to me, having Swedish blood coursing through my veins as I do. This is the story of two women who meet at a gardening center and then go on to have this really deep friendship that is supposed to be understood but is never developed in the book. It is also about how not to translate a novel. I took an amazing translation class as an undergraduate, and the one thing our prof wanted us to learn was that translation is an art, and it creates a new work of art, it doesn't just morph the original piece into a different language. I think this translator used a computer to translate this book from the original Swedish. She uses weird words... not words you don't know, just really strong words where a more subtle word would have made much more sense. There's one part where I had no idea who was angry at who and why, but apparently "there was so much tension in the room that you could feel it." Huh? Unfortunately this book's presence on the shelf is simply a result of Fredriksson's prior successes, but absolutely does not stand on its own two feet. Actually, I'd like my sister to read this one too and tell me if I'm being ridiculous. The other literary point I'd like to make is that the woman's daughters call her "Mummy". The are in their 20s. Ick.
So there you have it. Thank goodness tomorrow is library day so I can get a few of Psycho Momma's recommendations!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


So we (DH and I) just took an online personality test. I could write an entire pithy, interesting, thoughtful post exploring how personality tests do or don't work, but I won't; it's late, and I'm tired.

These are my results:
Your type is
slightly expressed extrovert;
slightly expressed sensing personality;
distinctively expressed feeling personality;
moderately expressed judging personality.

Anyone know what it means? Does it sound like me? :)

We got it from this website.

Three-yr old preschool

OK, this post will veer right into the sappy hinterlands of my mothering mind, but here goes.
Today was a big day. We went and looked at preschools for Boy #1. (sobbing wildly) As far as stages of life go, I know this is NOTHING compared to 1st grade, but I almost wanted to cry when we put down our registration fee (more on this step in a moment).
We visited two preschools (so far) and have four more on the docket, but the very first one we went to looked absolutely perfect to me. Pianos in the rooms, it's in a house so it feels homey but is definitely school and not daycare, colorful toys abounding, great play equiptment outside, *very* swell teacher who gave us the tour... everything you'd imagine preschool to be. She talked a lot about how the kids learn to play together, share, listen to the teacher, etc etc. It just felt sweet and nice and they even have cubbies. No preschool is complete without them.
But back to the registration fee: it's basically a hold-your-spot deal, and let me tell you, it's worth holding. I thought Harvard was hard to get into. Many of the top-ranked schools in our fair city are already full and have been for months. OK, so it's August, schools start in September, and I'm only just getting around to this but it's been a little crazy so leave me alone, and yes, this is all about denying the fact that my firstborn is growing up and he isn't a little boy anymore, and yes, he reminds me of that, and I'm going to have to start separating myself from him and I can't stand it! (wild sobbing resumes)
So the first preschool we went to was great, the next one, not so great. It was a stark contrast to the first. The teacher who toured us took us to the 3-yr old classroom and talked about their curriculum. I was bored and I'm not even 3. The materials were old and crusty. There was a dusty flags-of-the-world collection where they learn about other countries. There were grey walls and crusty old wooden blocks and a poster of cursive writing. (An aside: do 3-yr olds learn cursive these days?) Just kind of grungy, and not in a 1990's-Seattle kind of way. We were letting our boy look around the room (no one was in it) and when he got to some beads, the tour guide said, "Be careful not to drop those, they are glass and will break." Huh?, I thought. Glass beads (glass anything) in a 3-yr old classroom seems odd. But who am I to say.
Bottom line is, I'm feeling kind of sad, because our boys are growing up. Boy #2 is on the verge of crawling any day, and now this. Boy #1 could not be more excited about the prospect of going to preschool. And I am happy, because I think early education is so so so very important for a lot of reasons. But it's just amazing that this little person that my DH and I created is eager for this adventure. Life couldn't move any faster if it tried.