Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Week-Long Family Christmas Celebration: Part II - It's Actually Happening, In Filipino Time

If you've ever known a Filipino family, you've likely heard the term "Filipino Time".  The concept of time is evidently impossible to grasp.  For one, you can never expect that anything will start at the time stated.  Usually, anywhere between two to three hours late is considered having made good time.  This Christmas, in my family's case, "Filipino Time" was not two or three hours late it was three days late.

Yes, while Paul's side of the family did celebrate Christmas Day with us and a good time was had by all, MY side of the family apparently decided that this Tuesday, December 28th, was a good day to show up.

I've known about my family's week-long visit and now they're here. For the most part, my mother is keeping to herself in the office/library where she's staying in and she's enjoying looking through many of the books in there.  She's only had one of her odd remarks.  Things are going pretty good without her -- the rest of us have played some fun Wii games together, the adults pulled out Balderdash and had a scream of a time laughing at everyone's answers, and the sun came out today and the kids had fun in the forest.  Tomorrow, if it's still warm, we're going to take the five minute walk down to Folsom Lake and let the kids throw rocks.

I thought I'd have a lot of fodder needing comic relief here on my blog due to my mother's week-long visit, but so far she's given me nothing.  That's alright, I guess.  I'll take my sanity.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is it Wintertime? Summer, I mean, Winter in Santa Barbara

Another full weekend of soccer, and this time my son's team is competing in the Youth Soccer Showcase and attending the NCAA Men's Soccer Championships -- in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA. The sun is out, the light brush of fog and clouds burned off by 10 am. 76 degrees. Crazy.

There's no where I'd rather be this weekend than enjoying Winter in Santa Barbara. People actually live here. So lucky!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Preparing for Our Week-Long Family Christmas Celebration, Part I: Mental Preparation

Without being overly disrespectful to the woman who gave me birth, this post is about my beginning preparations for this year's Christmas family celebration hosted by yours truly. These preparations include the fun of decorating our home (jungle-themed this year), deciding where adults and kids will sleep (we will stuff four families into our home), the joy of shopping for gifts, planning over a week's worth of menus, as well as the annual arrival into our home of my mother.

I've only been blogging for a month and a half and I have not had the chance yet to write about the woman in my life whose relationship with me in my first 17 years was of the utmost influence upon the growth of my self-esteem, the shaping of my outlook on life, and in so many ways even still the way I think about things. I don't think of my mother often, other than seldom and random escaping thoughts. She only lives an hour and a half away, which when you factor in California roads and traffic is actually not far, but as you can denote from my detached regard of her -- we are not close.

Every year around Christmas time, I am forced to consider her since my family and home hosts family Christmas and my mother arrives with one of my brothers. She will arrive with her air of negativity and "woe is me" way about her. The cloud that surrounds her will attempt to suffocate us all immediately, but will slowly diffuse after everyone has the chance to politely ask her how she is doing, to which she will answer with a gruff and sorrowful, "Ooooh ... things are o-kaaaayyyyy ... I guess." She'll sit on the couch for the majority of the week -- barely talking to anyone, glaring at my kids and all the cousins, and ordering my brothers to get something for her.

So, as I prepare for hosting Christmas, this post is simply a bit of a vent about my mental preparations for the week-long visit of my mother.

At brunch yesterday morning, my girlfriends said that at least I'll have some funny stories to tell about the comic relief I will be searching for within the nook and cranny of every moment during her holiday visit -- assisted by a well-stocked wine fridge.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Ten Year Anniversary! (One Solution for Aging)

Today, I happily celebrate my 29th birthday.

When I was about fifteen, I thought twenty-five was so "old".  Thirty-five was just plain ancient.

When I was twenty-five, I didn't appreciate my youth.  I was caught up in my career, going to the bars after work with my friends, shopping, and just living each day being only responsible for myself.

By the time I was 35, I had three children and lived the life of a suburban housewife.  I was convinced (and still am) that life as a 30-something woman was the best time of my life.  I feel like my kids keep me young.  Life is so fresh and wonderful for them.  Doing things with and for them is like getting to live my life over again but through their eyes.  Granted, I don't have the body I did when I was 25, before I had three kids -- but I am firmly aware that I am more beautiful today than I was back then.  I have the confidence in myself as a woman that I didn't have when I was 25. 

Today, December 6th, 2010, I am 39 years old.  But, after turning 30 I decided that a simple solution for aging would be to just celebrate my 29th birthday every year.  So, actually I am celebrating the tenth anniversary of my 29th birthday.  I have a few more wrinkles and a lot more gray hairs -- but for 29, I sure do feel great!

Have a wonderful, wonderful day everyone!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Parting with Boris and Natasha -- Things That Make You Go Huh?

We are currently in the market for new seating in our family room. The sofa/chair set we have now has been in our family for eight or nine years and are finally seeing their last days. It is a nice looking cinnamon-brown leather set that has served us well, through two boys and a wild little girl and all their friends. It proudly shows off its wear with scuff marks over almost every inch, wrinkles and cracks that make the pair look more than twice their age, and one large tear in the middle of one of the sofa cushions that no one owns up to. I'll likely just sound nutty, but I also lovingly call the sofa and chair, Boris and Natasha, so they're almost like members of the family.  (Huh?  I know, right?  So, I put this post in the "Things that make you go Huh?" category.)

However, we love to entertain, and they only allow seating for 4 adults. It would be great to get a sectional sofa that would seat 6 or more adults.

This sofa and chair are inanimate objects that have no feelings and, of course, show no emotion. Neither have they once let us know their feelings about being spilled on, being wrestled and jumped on, and being beaten in every way imaginable.

Tell me, why do I feel a bit of nostalgia for these pieces of furniture that have greeted our just-awakened bodies almost every morning, accepted our tired bottoms after long days, and helped us to entertain all of our friends who stay and visit with us for awhile? Just because we've owned these objects for almost as long as our oldest son is in age, why do I feel like letting them move on is like giving away an important part of our family?

So, then I took a picture of Boris and Natasha to show how beaten up they are.  But, as you'll see in the picture -- they actually look great, other than the tear in the seat cushion.  It's almost as if they are speaking to me, saying, "See, don't let us go!"


The part of me that is still able to reason about this topic tells me that these are just replaceable "things" -- and "things" don't really matter. The sensitive and sappy part of me just likes the simple feelings and memories that flood into my mind. They remind me how much our family has grown and changed in the past eight or nine years and how much of it has played out day-to-day in our family room -- on this sofa and chair.

So, we continue our search for family room furniture replacements. But, I also find myself taking my time. It's silly, but Boris and Natasha are like part of the family and I'm a bit sad to know they'll soon be gone.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

That's the Way, Uh Huh Uh Huh, I Like It -- and Other Great Basketball Plays

I am the total sideline mom.  Although I don't know every aspect of each sport my sons' play, I will cheer their teams on (and I will look good doing it).

This morning, my son's basketball team played their first game of the season and enjoyed a successful season opener.  My DH, Paul, is the assistant coach -- but he'll be getting knee surgery in less than two weeks, so will be limited while he's on crutches.  So, the following letter is one I wrote just after the game to the head coach (our friend, John) who will likely need assistance while Paul is recovering.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John,

Great game this morning! It will definitely be exciting to watch the whole team progress through the season.

This morning, Paul told you that he will be getting knee surgery on the 16th and that will leave you without an asst. coach for an indeterminate amount of time. Therefore, I can offer my expertise in the position while Paul is recovering. After watching the kids this morning, I see that a couple of my simple maneuvers can easily incorporate into the existing play plans. I'm positive that you will see some of my training is already evident in Zach's style of play. You can thank me later.

Anyway, here are a sample of just a few plays out of many that I can contribute:

1) The Booty Move - When being closely defended one-on-one, offensive players can sharply stick their booties out -- both keeping defenders from behind away from the ball and either grossing them out or confusing them completely.

2) The Shake and Shimmy - When defending the ball handler, sing "That's the Way, Uh Huh Uh Huh, I Like It" while shaking and shimmy-ing. Another great way to force the loss of possession.

3) The Goodyear Blimp - An oldie, but goodie. Right before driving to the net, point east and say "Oh look, the Good year Blimp!", then nimbly dribble the ball right up to the key for an easy lay up.

In any case, please let me know if you need help with the team and whatever I can do to help out.

Again it was incredible to see what you've done with the new team in such a short amount of time. It's impressive and I'm really looking forward to watching them play again. Have a great rest of the weekend and see you all soon.

~Jamie

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tribute to a Beautiful Soul, Michael Gable -- Get Informed and Save Lives

[Saturday night, Paul and I returned to the school where we met and graduated from together in 1993.  College classmates, friends, and family came together to remember a fellow classmate, friend, brother, son, and husband, Michael Gable, whom we lost unexpectedly and tragically just a little more than one year ago.  Saturday's event, Rock For a Cause, was a celebration of his life with a benefit concert/auction to kick off the Gable Beats Foundation and the release of the tribute album "One Race Human".  Another college classmate and friend, his wife, Michelle Gable, spoke in front of the crowd and shared her story of the horrible night that forever changed her and her family's lives.  We love and miss you so much Michael!  Michelle, you know that you, Matteo, and Grace are loved and will always find support around every corner.

Please read on for more about Michael, to learn more about the Gable Beats Foundation, and watch the video to get informed and save lives.]

In college, Michael Gable was a star athlete and a magnetic and outgoing personality.  He was always surrounded by friends.  He wore the biggest smile and had wide open arms.  He truly was such a genuine friend to everyone who met him.

On September 17, 2009, Michael passed away after suffering a heart attack.  Unknown to him, his wife, and his family he had the heart disease known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is an excessive thickening of the heart muscle.  He was 38 years young.  Two weeks later, his baby daughter, Grace, was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy and it has since been determined the causes are genetically related.

"Tell Them You're Human" -- and the "One Race Human" Segue Tribute Album

The inspiration for the tribute album came from a t-shirt his mother, Beverly, had purchased for him that had the slogan "One Race Human".  Michael was teased about his bi-racial background when he was younger.  When he was asked "What are you?", his mother advised him to "Tell them you're human".

Excerpt from http://www.seguesounds.com/: "Throughout his life, Michael strove to break down all racial barriers and create a better world for his family.  He lived each moment with love and gratitude.  In 1996, Michael joined the band SEGUE and used his lyrics as a way to spread his beliefs about the equality of ALL human kind.  SEGUE performed for over 15 years in some of the most respected venues in the San Francisco Bay Area.   Michael developed a reputation within the music community as an accomplished singer and songwriter."

The Gable Beats Foundation is part of the Heart Beats Community, a philanthropic network that provides support for families affected by various forms of heart disease.  True to Michael's genuine and true heart, he would have wanted his story to be shared so that other families might avoid experiencing the same tragedy.
Please take a look at the following video and get informed:



For more information about the Gable Beats Foundations and for details about purchasing the One Race Human tribute album, please visit http://www.seguesounds.com/.
Additional links:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Could I Forget?, or More Proof I'm Getting Older

When I saw him for the first time, I still remember the birds chirping and wind blowing through my hair. I walked into the room and when he saw me, his eyes lit up like fireworks and we were the only two people on the planet. OK, not really but seriously it was exactly like that.

Fast forward to today -- Paul and our oldest son went to my dad's house to help him out with some stuff around his house. I stayed back with our two youngest kids. I did some work at home in the morning, then took the two kids out for some fun at the bookstore and a treat.

I was driving home listening to Stevie Nicks' You Never Promised Me a Rose Garden and it hit me ... both Paul and I have been so busy with our jobs and just with our day-to-day lives of raising the kids that we forgot that our 18-year anniversary was on Sunday, November 21st.

I'm. In. Shock. I'm not even disappointed that Paul forgot our anniversary, even though I did mention it three weeks ago on Halloween. I actually cannot believe that the date passed me by. Me ... the one who finds a reason to celebrate anything and everything.

It's more proof I'm getting older.

At our graduation from Saint Mary's College of California, we were babies!

It is our first anniversary, after 16 anniversaries prior, that was forgotten, so I won't let it be said that it was actually missed. This weekend, we have a date planned and just maybe we'll dream about our next 18 years.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dizguise Costumes - Santa Belle (closed)

[Congratulation to Veronica G for winning this contest!]

Dizguise Costumes is a family-owned business that provides costumes for all occasions and celebrations, and party supplies year-round. They have built their small business on the idea that providing the best customer service means happy customers who'll hopefully come back to shop. They feel it is important that if you need customer service, that you talk to a live person. How's that for a great idea?

From the front page of their site: "Our customer service and superb return policy help you breathe easy when shopping at our store. We even offer the option to ship out your order the same day you order it, on most costumes and party decorations. Although our popular Halloween costumes and party supplies dominate our store, please remember that we also provide wonderful decorating ideas for every occasion, whether it's a baby's 1st birthday or a New Year’s Eve celebration."

SaysJamie.com is hosting a series of giveaways with Dizguise Costumes as we enter the Christmas and holiday season.

Starting today, are two separate giveaways. One for Mama -- a Santa Belle costume. One for her child -- a Little Santa costume.

This giveaway is for a woman's Santa Belle costume. It is made with red, faux velvet and has white, faux fur trim. It has a flirty trim of white lace along the skirt hem and two white pom-poms dangling from strings coming off the hood. This costume is available to win in sizes Small, Medium, and Large.

Dizguise Costumes' giveaways at SaysJamie.com:

11/22-29 : Santa Belle Costume
11/22-29 : Little Santa  - Infant to Toddler sizes
11/29 - 12/3 : Santa Belle Costume
11/29 - 12/3 : Reindeer - Infant and Toddler sizes
12/3 - 12/10:  Snowman - Infant to Toddler sizes
12/3 - 12/10: Santa Belle Costume

Enter once per day until Monday, November 29th. Winner must be a fan of Dizguise Costumes on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/DizguiseCostumes). Winner must follow SaysJamie.com (via GFC) OR Follow SaysJamie on Facebook. Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Winners must have a valid US shipping address and phone number (no p.o. boxes for shipping purposes). Winners will be contacted using the email address they provided on the entry form from me at Jamie@SaysJamie.com. Winners have 7 days to respond before another winner is randomly selected. There is no purchase necessary to win and I promise to never share your information with anyone.


This promotion is only a giveaway, not a product review.  I receive compensation for running giveaways and for providing advertising space for Dizguise Costumes.

Dizguise Costumes - Little Santa Giveaway (closed)

Dizguise Costumes is a family-owned business that provides costumes for all occasions and celebrations, and party supplies year-round. They have built their small business on the idea that providing the best customer service means happy customers who'll hopefully come back to shop. They feel it is important that if you need customer service, that you talk to a live person. How's that for a great idea?

From the front page of their site: "Our customer service and superb return policy help you breathe easy when shopping at our store. We even offer the option to ship out your order the same day you order it, on most costumes and party decorations. Although our popular Halloween costumes and party supplies dominate our store, please remember that we also provide wonderful decorating ideas for every occasion, whether it's a baby's 1st birthday or a New Year’s Eve celebration."

SaysJamie.com is hosting a series of giveaways with Dizguise Costumes as we enter the Christmas and holiday season.

Starting today, are two separate giveaways. One for Mama -- a Santa Belle costume. One for her child -- a Little Santa costume.

This giveaway is for a child's Santa costume. The Infant's costume is the Velvet Santa Infant/Toddler Costume. It comes with the romper and hat and is available in three size: Newborn (0-6 mos), Infant (6-12 mos), and Toddler (12-18 mos). The Little Santa Toddler/Child's costume includes the suit, hat, and mitts. It is available in sizes 18-24 mos, 2T-4T, and 4-6X.


Dizguise Costumes' giveaways at SaysJamie.com:

11/22-29 : Santa Belle Costume
11/22-29 : Little Santa  - Infant to Toddler sizes
11/26 - 12/3 : Santa Belle Costume
11/26 - 12/3 : Reindeer - Infant and Toddler sizes
12/3 - 12/10:  Snowman - Infant to Toddler sizes
12/3 - 12/10: Santa Belle Costume

Enter once per day until Monday, November 29th. Winner must be a fan of Dizguise Costumes on Facebook.  The link to Dizguise Costumes' Facebook page will appear after your entry form is submitted (http://www.facebook.com/DizguiseCostumes). Winner must be follow SaysJamie.com (via GFC) OR Follow SaysJamie on Facebook. Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Winners must have a valid US shipping address and phone number (no p.o. boxes for shipping purposes). Winners will be contacted using the email address they provided on the entry form from me at Jamie@SaysJamie.com. Winners have 7 days to respond before another winner is randomly selected. There is no purchase necessary to win and I promise to never share your information with anyone.

This promotion is only a giveaway, not a product review.  I receive compensation for running giveaways and for providing advertising space for Dizguise Costumes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Job Title: Admittedly Behind and Hopelessly Scrambling For An Agenda...

For parents with kids in public school, Fall break means kids have a week OFF, but parents have the week ON.

So, here I sit on Sunday night, pondering about the week ahead. Why haven't I planned it better? I have all these wonderful ideas in my mind of the things I'd like to do with the kids. I just wonder how many, if any, I will actually get done?

Any ideas for this last-minute planner? Uh, that would be me, with my new job title -- The Admittedly Behind and Hopelessly Scrambling For An Agenda, Mom of Three Kids Who Deserve a Fun Fall Break.

Friday, November 19, 2010

SaysJamie.com is ... One Month Old!

I seriously just noticed about two minutes ago that today is my blog's one month birthday! Ridiculous!

It goes without having to say that the blogging community is quite an interesting one. I started off my blog simply to write about the goings-on in my life. I wanted to get off my chest the challenges I've had the past few months parenting my middle-schooler, as well as to just journal about the experiences I find hilarious. The things I see other bloggers do with their skills (amazing home decor, incredible dishes coming out of kitchens, sewing and knitting, money to be saved, advice shared from those who have "been there"...) and the ways that blogs can be expanded into useful sources of product information, reviews, and giveaways really have me just wow-ed by everyone I've met so far in this community -- and there are so many I haven't even been lucky enough to come across!

So, for my blog's one month birthday I'm excited that it just so happens that I will start number one in a series of giveaways and reviews I have planned in the pipeline. Those are coming later today...

But, for now I look forward to blog hopping today and checking out the amazing blogs out there that have inspired me in my one month here on my blog and that I know will continue to amaze me. Thank you to all those I follow, all who follow me, and all those whom I have yet to meet!

Reviews

Very soon, SaysJamie.com will be doing product reviews!

Giveaways, Coming Soon!

Subscribers to SaysJamie.com, fun giveaways will soon be run here!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Girlfriends -- They. Complete. Me.

I am a sap. I love to feel strongly and am free to cry like a little baby whenever and wherever. I'm a sap.

If I'm feeling sappy, my mind often recalls that scene in Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise says, "You. Complete. Me." And Renee Zelwegger says, "You had me at hello." See, little frog already in my throat. LOVE IT!

Of course, my mind goes directly to Paul and the kids when I think of the people in my life who give me purpose and make me who I am. But, this past weekend I was reminded how my girlfriends are also such important people in my life that I know I would not be complete without them.

So to my Girlz who got together this weekend, (Cici, Lo, Laurie, and K.O.), who were roommates of mine in college and whom I've known for over 19 years - I LOVE YOU. (Ash, Suz, and Jules -- LOVE you too! We missed you.) It is such a wonderful feeling to see you and your children, to know Laurie and K.O. travelled more than 5 hours and Lo was visiting from Nebraska. How great is it that our relationship is such that although we might not speak every day, week, or even months, that we can spend time together and laugh and enjoy one another like no time has passed.

I almost cannot believe how fortunate I am to know women like you, that you share my life with me, and make me feel loved. Sappy time... You. Complete. Me.

Do you have girlfriends in your life who just make it so much more fun, funny, crazy, interesting, _____ (fill in the blank)? What are some words you could use to fill in the blank, that would describe how your best girlfriends add to your life?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick Thai Seafood Soup

The cold weather in fall prompts me to make soup for dinner.  I love how warm soup warms me from the inside out -- both my body and my spirits.

Since it's stayed so warm and sunny here in the southern part of Northern California, I haven't had the chance yet to get into the soup-making mode.  Well, I was very excited that this weekend we were greeted with some colder weather -- where not only could I finally whip out some cute boots to wear, but I could also put together a big pot of Thai Seafood Soup.

My kids love this soup, so I've made it several times.  Now, I'm sure there are more elaborate ways to make this soup that is a staple on menus in many Thai restuarants.  I also imagine that this isn't the authentic way to make it, however being a Mom who (on most nights) has limited available time to spare in the kitchen, the way that I make this soup is fast and easy.  It also doesn't demand that measurements be exact (I don't cook with measuring spoons or cups).  Honestly, this soup comes out perfect every single time I make it.

So, here is the "recipe" that I generally go by.  I hope that some of you get a chance to make it as well.  If you do, please let me know how it turned out!  ~Jamie

Quick Thai Seafood Soup (serves 4 big bowls, with leftovers for 4 (or can be halfed))

Ingredients:

  • One yellow onion (cut into big pieces @ 1/2 in)
  • Garlic (minced, 2 or more cloves depending on your taste)
  • Peanut oil (a couple of splashes or so)
  • 32 oz of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • Rice vinegar (about 6 long squirts depending on your taste)
  • Fish sauce (about 4 long squirts depending on your taste)
  • Lemongrass (one stalk finely chopped, but for ease I just use the kind shown in the picture in the tube on the left.)
  • Sugar (put some in your palm, it's that much)
  • Ground fresh chili paste (shown in the picture, below, with the green lid)
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Handful of basil
  • Shrimp and Scallops (I like a lot, so last night I used 14 jumbo shrimp and 12 jumbo scallops)
  • Sliced mushrooms (I like to use those 16 oz packaged pre-sliced baby bella mushroom bags, but you can use white mushrooms, canned straw mushrooms, whatever you want)

Directions:

  1. Heat onions and garlic in peanut oil until onions just start to get transparent.
  2. Pour in chicken broth, juice from tomatoes, coconut milk, rice vinegar, fish sauce, lemongrass, sugar, and chili paste (according to your taste, you can omit this if you don't like spicy soup).
  3. Bring to a light boil. Add a handful each of washed cilantro and basil and put into the soup.  Stir and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove cilantro and basil.  Add tomatoes and mushrooms.  Cook another 5 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp and scallops.  Cook 3 minutes or so, just until seafood is cooked.
Remove from heat and serve.  The leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated to enjoy in the next few days -- if it lasts that long!

Here are some pictures.  Enjoy!  ~Jamie

Onions and garlic,cook until soft
Ingredients
Handful of cilantro
Handful of basil, too
Just put cilantro and basil in soup, stems/leaves and all
Stir cilantro and basil, cook 10 minutes
Remove cilantro and basil, then discard
Spoon into bowls. Yum!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Growing Up ... Well, Not So Much

As moms, I'm sure we all see signs from our kids that they are "growing up". Sometimes these signs are definite, like when my oldest son got his first girlfriend. Other times ... well, not so much.

Me (to my 8-year old): "Xavier, you're so cute".

Xavier: "Mom, you know I really don't like the word 'cute'".

Me: "Why not?"

Xavier: "It's really baby-ish."

Me: "Alright, then what should I say instead?"

Xavier: (Without a pause.) "How about 'adorable'"?

So, what started out potentially as a "growing up" lecture from my X-man, ended up quite nicely that my big man is still my little man.


So, what are some signs that you see with your kids that they're "growing up"?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beginning of a New Week ... Do I Get a Do Over?

Well, it's Sunday. The beginning of a new week, and maybe the beginning of many new things. This past week ends on a rocky note. So, maybe I can look at this new week as a chance to do some things over -- or at least a little differently.

First, I made a new gravatar and header for my blog. I do think it is still a work in progress, but it definitely better fits me. My hair is exactly the same (if I had a constant up-burst of wind blowing my hair up into a fantastic volume of sexiness. Just like J-Lo at the grammies. Mmm, note to self, find something on eBay that can do that for me.)

Second, we had a setback in our pre-teen communications just two days after my small win in that department (see Big Hair Was Cool, and Other Things I'll Talk to My Pre-Teen About). Big blow-up, all out argument on Friday after school -- so it's been a rough weekend so far. However, today starts a brand new week, and I'm confident that things can't possibly get worse.

Third ... well, I haven't thought about a specific third new thing so I'm just optimistic about the possibilities for greatness.

Anyway, happy Sunday everyone! Here's to new things and maybe a chance for some do overs!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Valances at Target, Fundraising Events, and Things That Make You Go Huh?

I go through these phases where I’ll find myself saying a word all the time. Whatever the word is, I’ll use it correctly and incorrectly in numerous daily experiences.

For a while there, my favorite word was Ridiculous. When one of my kids did something that was just rude and uncalled for, Ridiculous!, I’d say. If something were terribly funny, I’d reward it with Ridiculous! If something were really great and quite close to the next best thing, I’d exclaim, Ridiculous!

Anyway, for just about every situation during the day, the word Ridiculous seemed to easily find a way to be used – I’d say at least 15 to 20 times a day.

Da da da da! And the New Word Is…

Earlier this week, I wrote a post called Einstein's Bucket Theory, or Reasons Why I Forget Stuff and tagged it under a new category I named Things That Make You Go Huh? Well, ever since then, my new word is Huh. (See these things I think of? According to the Bucket Theory, it's no wonder I forget stuff!)

Anyway, a close relative of Eh? and polar opposite of Oh!, Huh makes a comeback for me from my days in college when my ability to take full advantage of higher learning was negatively impacted by my ability to party every single night.

In the past few days, I’ve noticed that I’ve used Huh more than I normally would. It may be a side effect of reduced sleep, since lately I’ve been working more hours, worrying about my pre-teen son and how we need to have “The Talk”, and just being a bit more stressed lately. The fact that I’m a bit tired and generally lacking in attention these days, is most likely the reason why I’m constantly saying Huh.

My Shining Moment – Using My Word of the Day

So, my girlfriend, Kim, and I are together planning the biggest fundraiser of the year at our kids’ elementary school. This fundraiser is a Dinner/Auction and is responsible for 70% of the funds raised each year by our PTC (Parent-Teacher Committee). Yesterday morning, we met and talked about the event planning so far. Kim was talking about the subcommittees and then about the event budget. Well, my mind wandered and I started thinking about the new curtains and rods I had put up in my living room. And, then I heard Kim say something about a valance at Target. I spun out of my own little world, regained my focus back on Kim, in disbelief that she was actually talking about the same thing I was thinking, and said, Huh?

Well, we were meeting about the fundraiser, not talking about window coverings. We needed to make sure we ”balanced the budget” and not about adding a valance from Target. I’m pretty sure I recovered well, because our meeting continued to go smoothly – although I had to try really hard after that to try not to think about whether Target had any cute valances. Huh. I'll have to go check.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Big Hair Was Cool, and Other Things I'll Talk to My Pre-Teen About

In my on-going endeavors to improve the lines of communication with my almost 12-year old son, and preceded by my previous post on the topic Parenting Lessons -- That's My Job, No One Else's, I did achieve a small victory.

A couple of days ago, Zach and I were sitting in his room and the topic of Paul's and my experience when we were younger came up. Zach became so interested that he kept asking questions. He laughed when I told him how Paul caused a grass fire on his school field, about the awful things I used to wear, as well as the height of my bangs (big hair was so in -- the bigger the better!). He kept asking question after question about what I did at school and after school...who I hung out with...did I go to concerts...did I have boyfriends (sure did! That would be Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran) -- he wanted to know about our lives when we were his age.


Not a good picture, but it's old and shows how I teased every last strand
of my super fine hair to achieve the biggest head of hair I could try to get


What a breakthrough! We were communicating, and Zach actually showed an interest. I let the conversation remain light and did not bring up the more pressing issues that I do eventually want to bring up. The talk we did manage to have, however, was a great beginning.

I still feel good about our talk and look forward to another. It's only a small victory in the process of improving the lines of communication. But hey, I'll take it!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whoot! Whoot! For Grandparents Who Totally Rock

Trip to Denver for three nights, Halloween party last weekend, Halloween party last night ... this month has been a busy one -- for the Grandparents.


Last night's Halloween party. Paul and I were a Cowboy and an American Indian

Well, no ... my in-laws aren't party animals, but they do definitely ROCK! Paul and I got to have five overnight "adult" nights in one month without our kids. Being away so much is such a rare opportunity for us. I definitely know that we are so fortunate to live in the same city as Paul's parents AND that they love being such an active part in our kids' lives.

Our friends tell us all the time how lucky we are to have the Grandparents around for babysitting, but especially for our kids to get to grow up with them in their lives. So, "Thank You!" to my kid's Grandparents for telling us it is a gift for you to have our kids (when I know it's a gift for us). You totally ROCK!





Our 2009 Family Vacation

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Xavier's Knock Knock Joke

My 2nd grader, Xavier, made up a Knock, Knock joke ...



Xavier: "Knock, Knock."

Me: "Who's there?"

Xavier: "Peach."

Me: "Peach who?"

Xavier: "Aren't you glad I didn't say Banana?"



After I stopped chuckling, I asked Xavier, "Why are you so cute?" With a big smile on his face, he answered, "Because you understand me, Mom."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Parenting Lessons -- That's My Job, No One Else's

My previous post, Parenting Lessons From My Parents... was very much a rant. I re-read it and know that it spurs from the frustration I'm finding with trying to open up the lines of communication with my oldest son who is in the 6th grade.

Two weeks ago, I found out that he is "going out" with someone. Now, I know that usually relationships between kids at his age entail sitting together at lunch and just the title that "We're boyfriend/girlfriend". However, I also know that some kids are maturing faster than was my experience, so I won't be naive and think that he's too young for "The Talk".

So, I asked Paul one day to take Zach to his soccer game. It was a 45 minute drive one way, so I knew there would be plenty of time for quality father/son talk. His task was to strike up conversation and hope that Zach would feel comfortable enough to share some details about his new girl pal or ask questions about girls in general. That evening, I was disappointed to find out that Paul got no information. In fact, Paul came away with the opinion that Zach wasn't ready for "The Talk" yet. Paul said, "Zach's a good kid. He'll make his own choices, and he'll make mistakes. But, he's a good kid. He'll figure it out".

When he said this, I felt a sense of helplessness that I am still grasping to get ahead of. It took a few days to realize it, but I feel like what Paul said is a version of my parent's parenting lesson. And thus, Friday's post.

I haven't completely figured out what the next steps will be. But, we're working on it. What I do know, is that I'm not leaving it up to luck, Zach "figuring it out", or divine intervention. We're the parents. It's our job to provide the lessons.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Parenting Lessons From My Parents: #1 Leave It Up to God

My parents left a lot of their parenting responsibilities to God. They never told me about the birds and the bees. I didn't know about menstruation until after I noticed blood in my pants and it was explained to me that I wasn't dying. (Even then, it was just a pad tossed my way and the advice to "Put it in your pants.") I didn't know anything about smoking, drinking, or drugs -- other than that I was told not to do them. Sex was never a subject, it was a taboo. I was simply told, "If you do __________ (fill in the blank), then you'll go to Hell."

Now that sounds like a useful parenting tool. Instead of telling my kids about the reasons for avoiding drugs and alcohol, waiting to date until they're older, and giving them information to help them build their set of values so that they can make their own choices (and sometimes mistakes), I can just tell them what to think and what they should not do or else their souls be lost to eternal damnation.

Well, if I believed in Hell, I'd say that that parenting lesson could go there.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Letter to Amy — Reasons Why Jamie Should Be One of Lucas’ Godparents

[In early September, my girlfriend, Krista, and I went to visit our girlfriend, Amy, who moved to the Boston area in the beginning of this year. Amy gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in August whom she named Lucas. Krista and I stayed with Amy for a week and helped her unpack and organize the layers of boxes and gifts she never had the time or energy to get to. We had so much fun getting to know Lucas -- this involved a lot of cheek, leg, and belly eating, as well as long strings of kissing frenzies. During the week, our girlfriend, Cath (who lives in Pennsylvania), came for a day. Also, Amy's sister, Beth, hung out with us. And, we got to visit with Amy's big and fun Irish family.

This letter that follows, has a long story behind it, but the gist is that an unsaid tradition for Amy's Irish family is that her son's Godparents would be an immediate family member. Well, I hold firm that I do fit the description (even though my cinnamon skin and long, straight, black hair say otherwise). I do know that Beth and Amy are the best of friends and the closest of sisters -- I don't doubt that Beth is the most likely choice for Godmother. I am therefore starting a campaign to stake my claim to the office of Godfather... I also want to add that Amy's son has my feet. It's not by coincidence, I say!]

Dear Amy,

So, we were laughing and joking around when the subject of Godparents came up. The conversation ended, of course, with saying the traditional choice would be that someone from your immediate family would take those roles. However, with just a bit more thought (not that much though because it’s pretty much just like “Duh”), I’ve decided that it is a great idea, as well as an obvious choice in my opinion, that I should take one of the parts.

In my campaign for helping you to make this important decision, I think it’s a good time to start presenting to you a recurring list of reasons why you should choose me to be one of Lucas’ godparents. Here are my first two reasons…

(In no particular order)

#1) I’m so pretty.

OK, this one is in the correct order, but I just mean the rest after this one may not be. Of course, being pretty is an easy reason for so many of the situations we both find ourselves in so, even though we could, we shouldn’t pull it out as a reason for everything. In the case of being Lucas’ godparent, it is a valid and an important reason. When all of Lucas’ friends are hot for momma at the pick-up circle, what better way to elevate his social standing than not only having a hot mom, but also having hot “aunties” — oh, and by the way, (pointing at me) SHE’S my godparent. See? You should never downplay the importance and responsibility that sometimes arises as a result of looking this good.

Pretty ... and classy.

#2) Lucas would be an easy addition to our family.

One kid is one kid. Two kids are playmates. Three kids are crazy. I know that your brother and his wife have me matched on this one, but truly that’s my only concession on this point. With three kids or more, it pretty much doesn’t matter how many more kids you add, someone’s going to need therapy. I can promise that if I had to step up as godparent and add Lucas to our family, that I would ignore him just as equally as I do each of my other three kids.

OK, so these are really great points. And, they are only the first two of many reasons. They should no doubt help you come to the same conclusion as I have… that you should choose me to be one of Lucas’ Godparents.

Love you!

~Jmes

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fat, Old Lady Legs That Didn’t Used to Do That

“Mommy, when you sit down on that chair your leg REALLY goes out on the sides!”  Those words spilled effortlessly from the smiling lips of my angelicly innocent 8-year old son, Xavier.  My state of blissful pride came to a screeching halt.  So rewind back to when these words were spoken…

One day, I was sitting on one of our hardwood calaman chairs in our living room, proudly listening to my 8-year old aptly play his entire repertoire of songs.  It’s simply amazing to me how easily he has picked up learning how to play the piano, and I’m sure that I shoot out bright, sharp rays of light coming out of my every pore each time he plays.

When he finished, he turned around with his huge smile, just waiting to soak in my praise.  I’m positive I said something about how brilliant he was or how he was likely going to be asked to play a solo during the San Francisco Symphony.  I can’t believe he wouldn’t have been blinded by my bright beams of motherly gloating, but no he wasn’t blinded.  He could see perfectly well as he pointed to my leg and stated, “Mommy, when you sit down on that chair your leg REALLY goes out on the sides!”

I know my face showed shock and disbelief because the sweet, loving child that he is, Xavier saw my face and his reaction was to fix things.  His remedy:  “No, no, no Mommy!  I just meant that your leg goes out a lot NOW, it didn’t used to do that!”

Times like that you need to close your eyes and chant, "I love my kids. I love my kids. I love my kids."  I must really love my kids — and they’re lucky for that … because otherwise I would guiltlessly have kicked them to the curb so long ago using my fat, old lady legs.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Redo of Middle School at 29 (plus or minus ten years)

For many years, I’ve done well to block out anything that could possibly have scarred me for life during my pre-teen years. Every morning in Middle School, I’d go to my friend Lourdes’ house and we’d watch videos on MTV. We’d carpool to school and swoon over our favorite Duran Duran band member. I recall the fun times with my girlfriends at recess playing high jump and giggling about which boy of the day we had a crush on. I had a favorite teacher, Mr. Buettner, who told me I was smart and always gave me A’s. I don’t even remember what subject he taught, but I’m sure I was good at it.


I was a total Duran-ie!

So flash forward a few years, ahem!, to 2010. In May, at my oldest son Zach’s 5th grade graduation (and even before that day), he and his friends were so excited about finishing elementary school and beginning what they were so sure was the start of growing up. As the driver for the afternoon carpool, I’d listen in as the kids romanticized the transition to the bigger school and the things they would get to do because they were “growing up”. To them, Middle School meant having a cell phone (Ba! To me it meant hearing Zach’s uncanny lawyer-esque abilities to layout and backup the argument for needing one), getting to walk to Rock ‘n Frog Yogurt after school with friends, going to dances (or talking insistently about how the dances would be boring and then some needling about how so-and-so likes so-and-so), and getting to just “hang out” when and where they wanted (in their dreams!).

School has now been in session for six weeks. It took Zach less than one of those weeks to figure out that it’s not what he’d envisioned. Middle School was such an exciting change for him in his eyes and I see that all the great things about it are getting quashed by the demands of an increased workload, sports, and a desire for an active social life.

So, what can I do, if anything, to help him through it? If I force myself to think harder about my own Middle School experience, I do remember some of the bad things — getting my $0.25 bus fare stolen by a bully, reading the response in a letter to my request for a date to the dance “No”, having the nickname “Teamer” because I was so bad at high jump that I played on both teams (Oh, the injustice!). There were a lot of road bumps I hit, yet somehow I emerged just fine even if just a bit nicked and dented.

I know I’ll have a lot of posts about the struggles we’re already having as our sweet and dashing young man goes through his pre-teen years and beyond. I feel as if I’m redoing Middle School, even though I finished it so long ago. I hope I’m able to keep the lines of communication with my own child, that I know I myself closed off with my parents when I began my pre-teen years. I’d like to do whatever I can to help my son through his time right now. Like me, I’d hope he would mostly remember the good things … and I’d like to add that I also know I couldn’t possibly have been THAT bad at high jump.