Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cleaning Up

All's good in mommy land again.  Yesterday I was feeling so frazzled.  The holidays can be so fun but also  overwhelming and filled with anxiety.  Today is so much better.  I put away all the Christmas stuff and cleaned the house a little.

We had our Christmas stuff up since the day after Thanksgiving and we had family in town for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I was ready to get everything back in order before the kids go back to school and our lives are back to their regular schedule.

I can breath again.  Ahhhhhh!  :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Run Away!

Sometimes the kids drive me so crazy that I want to just walk out the front door and run away to the nearest coffee shop.

Seriously.  It's tough sometimes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Parties!

I sometimes dread going to parties.  Even though I appear on the outside to be a very social person and anyone that meets me would categorize me as an extrovert, I definitely have hermit-like tendencies.

When it comes down to the actual leaving the house part, I always want to bag it and stay home in my comfy pajamas and watch a little TV in bed with my husband.

But thank God I don't because nine times out of ten, when I actually drag my sorry bum out the door and go to the party or night out I end up having a blast.  

This is especially true during the holiday season.  I'm already exhausted and anxious with the holiday to-do list and then to get dressed up and make it out in the freezing cold just seems like too much sometimes.  But then you get there and it's warm and yummy and everyone's in a great mood.  And I wonder how I could have wanted to say home instead of coming.

So next time you want to cuddle up on your couch instead of going out to that friend's holiday party, I say put on your best duds and go!

Friday, December 17, 2010

To Do or Not To Do Kindergarten Work

Here's my question.  When is it appropriate to do your child's homework?

My son is in kindergarten and I make him do all his own stuff.  Then I volunteer at the school and I see the other kids' projects and over half of them are clearly not done by the child.  And the mothers openly admit that they did the whole thing.  One mother said something like "he did help me a little with it."

To me that seems nuts but maybe it's OK or even better to help them along.  I just don't know.

Part of me is just lazy but the bigger part doesn't want to do the special projects for my 5 year old because I think it's seriously ridiculous.  My mother didn't help me with anything.  I'm not kidding.  I can't remember her helping with any school project.  She admits it today.  She barely even went to the school.  We went to school and came home and the only things she looked at were our report cards.  She did tell me that with my youngest brother she got more involved because he needed more help but with me there was nothing really to do.  I did it all myself.

I was standing in the classroom today looking at these projects that were clearly done by an adult and I wondered how these moms could think that is a good thing to do.  How are they helping their children get ahead in kindergarten by making the best "stuffed bear?"

It's not a big deal now but what am I going to do when they're graded on their projects?  Am I going to settle for my son getting a C or B on a project that he did totally himself when his peers are getting an A on something that was a parent-child collaboration (probably more parent than child)?

I'm not sure if I can stand aside and not help in that situation.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Personality To Do List

1. Stop worrying about whether people like you or not.

2. Relax.  Be calm. Life is not that serious.

3. Remember that you're enough.

4. Be in the moment.  It goes by so fast and wasting it worried or angry is a shame.

5. Be more grateful for everything.

6. Spend a few moments in silence each day.  Even ten minutes with no noise, no distractions, nothing to do but just breath in and out.  Deep breaths.

7. Write more often.  It helps.

More soon....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Small Steps Matter

I heard a great quote today.  "When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."  I just love that.  Small steps matter.  Small kindnesses, thoughtful gestures, helping hands, they all matter because together they can move mountains.

Here is where I heard it.  This guy's book, Getting to Yes, is one of the landmark books in negotiations.  At first I thought his talk was pretty Pollyannish but by the end I really saw the picture he was trying to paint and really liked it.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Adele, Adele, Adele!

I'm so excited.  Adele is coming out with her second album.  I love her and her voice.  Here is the first single, Rolling In The Deep, from her new album and it does not disappoint!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Candy Store

I was in the storage room this morning eyeing the clear plastic Christmas boxes like a kid in a candy store!  I wanted to open them up just to check out all the fun stuff we're going to be using to decorate the house but I resisted because...well, you know...it's just too soon.

I'm SO excited to make the house Christmasy with the kids.  :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Warrior Moms

Have you seen this post? It's been circulating around the internet. It's a great testament to how mothers need to be warriors for their children...strong, protective and loving.

I just hope that I can be like her no matter how my children identify themselves and they challenges they may face in the future.

Moms rule! :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Art & Music

Things that I'm grateful for at this moment:

Painting class and the friend that pushed me to take it. He quit being an attorney about ten years ago to pursue his photography. His work is being exhibited in a few places in town and he is starting to get incredible recognition of his talent.

I'm not sure if painting is my main passion but it's been something that has brought a new challenge and focus to my creativity. It's been so challenging and rewarding doing this class. Each frustrating moment of class culminates into something learned and something new, which I end up loving.

Here are a few painting sketches that I've done in class. They are timed pieces, usually half an hour to an hour.































































I'm also grateful for music. I came upon this women today and just loved her voice and her rendition of this Katy Perry song.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Painting Continues

I didn't realize when I signed up for the painting class that I would have actual homework! It's not like we're getting graded or anything but since I'm a serious type A person I had to do the assignment, even if it was in the hour or so that I could hold the kids off from touching my painting stuff.

Here it is. Quick and dirty but fun to do.


















And then today we did several quick color studies. This was an hour pose.























Until today's class I was still thinking about quitting but I realized today how great this class has been for me. It's helping answer a question I've had for a long time - can I really paint or am I just a standard fill-in-the-colors/copying from a picture kind of painter. Am I any good? Or am I just faking it? Since I haven't had any real formal training, I've always been so intimidated by real painters. And this class is being taught by a real serious nationally recognized talented painter. If anyone can answer that question, she can. And so far, she's given me some pretty good feedback. I'm a novice painter but I have something and that's good enough for me! :)


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Painting Portraits Begins!

I had my first painting class today! It's an intermediate class at a pretty good studio/gallery and the teacher is incredibly talented with a long resume. I was so nervous the whole week. What if I'm in the worst one in the class? Or the teacher looks at me with pity as she walks by thinking the whole time that I should be in the beginner class instead? What if I plain old suck?

At first I did suck big time and didn't know what I was doing. At the break I went to get water outside and when the teacher passed me I said something like "I'm not sure I'm up to the level of this class." I'm such a wimp. But she immediately said that I was good enough and that I just needed some direction which she would give me when we got back in (since I missed the first class last week). I sucked it up and went back in and kept trying (it was a long class). The whole time I kept thinking about quitting. I'm not good enough was rolling through my head like those news scrolls at the bottom of the CNN channel. But slowly I started to get the hang of what she was saying and I liked what I saw. Here is a piece I did in an hour or so. We did a bunch of quick studies and this was the last one I did before I had to rush off to get my son from preschool (I'm sparing you the first few since they were just awful).


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Love Is Too Much!

Do you sometimes want to shout out to the world how much you love your children? It's insane how we feel about our kids, isn't it? I sometimes just look at their pictures when they're at school and marvel at how much I love them. It scares me a little.

You might be wondering where I've been. Haven't blogged in a long time.

Well, the good news is that I've been away because I'm doing well. My kids started school for the first time so I have some real free time at home. YEAH!!! Wow, it feels great.

Then about two weeks before they went back to school a friend of mine asked me if I would join their non profit start up and help them raise money and get their company off the ground. I said yes. It's very meaningful work and although there is no money in the near future for my work I feel good about doing it. The company helps women in crisis (recently divorced or widowed) get back on their feet by offering them a plethora of services including career training, legal counsel, financial advice etc. It's a great idea and I hope it takes off.

And with the kids in new schools there is a hundred school and "mom/parent" activities which I've been overwhelmed with but also enjoyed a lot.

How are you?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Splash of Color

I'm so loving all these new designs that blogger has to offer. How fun is that? I love changing things around every once in a while. I hope that's not too weird for people visiting.

The one now is of fresh delicious looking seriously red tomatoes! Yum. I'm growing tomatoes this year and every single day when I see them on the vine it makes me smile. Who knew that growing food would be such a fun thing.

I have to admit something. I'm very lazy by nature. Not shocking but it's so true. I can be so productive when I get going but once my butt hits the couch it's like it's super glued on there and it takes all my power to tear myself off of it.

I've been thinking these days about how much I love color. It makes me so happy. Every time I see a list of colorful grafts, foods, or object on Sherilee's blog I smile. I keep thinking, wow, how rich and intoxicating they are and wonder how I can incorporate more color into my life. I don't wear too much color (trying to avoid the whole looking like a clown thing) but I love the idea of spreading color somewhere. Maybe here on this blog is where I can share my love. :)

The other thing that just lifts me is music. I'm typing in a rhythm as I listen to Sinatra sing Day by Day. "I find that day by day you're making my dreams come true..." So romantic.

Anyway lovelies. I hope you had a splash of color and/or music in your day. I'll check back with you very soon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Organizing Queens

This question is to the women who's houses are clean and neat even when guests are not imminent. I know you exist because I've met a few of you and your organizational skills blow me away. I just want to know how you do it? Seriously, I don't understand how you can keep bedrooms, bathrooms, home offices, play rooms AND kitchens clean and neat all the time.

I'm preparing for my parents coming and after walking through the house I realized that it would take me working on it all day long every single day to keep the house clean and neat all the time. Is it just me?

I was a pretty organized professional but I can't seem to get a handle on the organized mom thing. There is just so much STUFF! I made a dent today in a few rooms but am exhausted and know that I could never live this way...constantly picking up, organizing and cleaning. I would go crazy!

How organized are you? What methods/tricks do you use to keep things in order?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Welcome Back!

It's time to start blogging again! I've so missed sharing. :)

Do you find yourself in a holding positions sometimes? In a transition period between one time in your life and the next? That's where I am. I stopped working completely and then summer hit. The kids, the hot weather, the camps, the trips and the visits. All good but not exactly conducive to organizing a schedule or routine for your "new" life. So I've taken this time to just think. Every day I spend with my kids, have fun with friends, and just think of what will be of my future.

I find that if I'm not engaged in something interesting or challenging, I let my mind wonder to silly things. Childish things. Emotionally immature things. Like the dad in the playground that ignored me when I said hi to him or the friend that said something harmless that my sensitive nature took to heart. Like jealousy, like envy, like insecurity. All the things that I work so hard not to feel because they are petty feelings. Human but petty nonetheless.

So I thought I'd come back here and start daily reflections again. Even if small. So that I could get outside of myself. Connect with you. And share the lovelies in life along with the challenges. Get back to finding beauty in each lovely summer moment.

Before we know it summer will be gone and the rush of the new school year will be upon us and we'll have a whole new routine to follow.

I'm both loving this time and so excited about the new challenges and joys that September holds.

I missed you. Thanks for coming back to catch up with me. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Lazy Days

I'm feeling lost and I thought if I wrote it down, admitted it, maybe it would help me find my way.

Things are good in many years. The summer is going well. As a family, we're having a lot of fun with each other and our friends. I feel loved and supported.

But I've lost discipline in my daily life. With all the summer outings and lazy days, I've lost my routine and am wasting time. Time I could spend producing something for myself.

Tomorrow is a new day. I'll try to make it fun but a little less lazy. :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Joy of Laughter

This video is just wonderful (thanks Sherilee for finding it)! Happy Saturday. :)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

We All Need Some Fruit Flavor!

I was thinking today about how much I love the name I picked for my blog. It took weeks of torturing my husband with suggestions and what-do-you-think-of-thises. I would e-mail him at work and demand that he e-mail me back immediately and tell me what he thought of my new blog title suggestion like it was the most important thing in the world not caring that he had a million more important things to think about, including his actual work!!!

And then I was watching Reality Bites (OMG, I love the part that Ethan Hawk and what's-her-name hook up and then he leaves in the morning...total 80s angst movie) and Ethan's character was being sarcastic and said those four words and I thought how great they were. They work either way...happy or totally sarcastic.

Now I see that no matter how many times I change my mind about what I'm going to do with my life or what great new adventure I'd like to embark on, the title still applies. Just in the last several months I've changed my mind about a dozen times about what this blog would be about:

1. Entertainment - My love for TV, movies, music, and gossip are limitless and burst of fruit flavor could totally encapsulate my little tid bits of info on all the crazy entertainment finds and news.

2. Food - Recipes, blogs, pictures, travel and anything else having to do with finding, eating, sharing, loving food could easily fit with the title....fruit and flavor...Yummy.

3. Writing - Every sentence that I write makes me think of all the great elements of life and the bursts that fill all of our lives with different flavors...both sweet and sour.

4. Painting - It makes think of the colors that go into creating something beautiful and how colors can totally transform the way you feel.

5. Mothering - Being a mother, especially a stay at home mother, means going through each day doing a lot of ordinary and sometimes mundane things but each day also includes bursts of love, joy, magic, and lots of life's sweet flavors!

I hope your day is filled with little moments of fruit flavor!

:)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Long Time No See :)

It's been way too long since I've posted. We've been traveling so much, which although hard at times has been so wonderful. Two trips with the kids to visit my in-laws and also to visit my brother and other friends and one trip for two-and-a-half days with just my husband and another couple for a weekend of champagne and delicious food.

It's been so great not having to worry about checking my e-mails for legal work. I've been free to enjoy the time with my kids, husband, family and friends. Simply wonderful.

I've been thinking a lot about the memoir thing. I love telling stories, there's no question about that, but I've realized that I'm way too nervous about revealing my and my family's private matters and history. There are so many elements of it that make me uncomfortable that I finally realized that it's just not doable right now. I have enough family drama (immediate and extended family) without adding the element of "did you see what she said about us?" No matter how I write it, there will be someone either insulted or hurt and I just don't want to do that. Why should I? There are other ways to express my creativity. Also, I'm so scared of revealing my self. I published one short story and this weird guy has e-mailed me several times over the span of a year. I've ignored all the e-mails but it makes me nervous that he has my e-mail and that he's seen my profile picture on Facebook. I changed the profile picture privacy thing but I'm not sure if you can block your profile picture. That's just one guy. I can't imagine what people in the public eye have to deal with when they put their work and themselves out there for any crazy to comment on. Yikes!

But I'm still determined to do fun and creative things. For now, I'm LOVING spending the summer with my kids, husband and friends. We're off to the community pool tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Running Errands

I'm procrastinating. Anything not to do what I want to do which is write down the stories that have been swirling in my head for the past several weeks.

How best to procrastinate? Run errands. Something that I hate doing but must be done. OK, I'm off!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend. :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

39

Turning 39 has been lovelier than I anticipated! I'm so grateful for friends to share my life with and a family that surrounds me with love and support.

I was freaked out by this age but I'm starting to embrace it and rejoice in the fact that I'm here, healthy and happy.

Here's hoping that I can live each day with the kind of joy and light heartedness that I feel today.

:)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Surprising Exchange

This past weekend I got an e-mail from the teacher of the one year writing workshop that I signed up for. It was an introductory e-mail welcoming us to the group and giving us instructions about the 30 page chunks that will be due on the first day and other weeks during the course.

I had been having serious doubts about doing this thing in the first place but when I got her e-mail I really freaked out. This thing is real. I'm actually expected to do this. I signed up for a workshop that will have people that are writers doing their craft, their job, their passion. And I'm just wavering, flying in the wind.

My doubts went beyond my own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. Writing a memoir means giving up the privacy of other people. My parents and my husband primarily. Even though they have all agreed to this project, they're all seriously private and I'm so afraid of hurting their feelings and making their life uncomfortable because of this project.

So a few weeks ago, in my heart, I decided to give up. I'm not going to do this. It's too much for me. I'm not a good enough writer, I'm scared of doing it badly, I'll be crushed if I hurt my family. OK, that's it. I'm not doing it.

But then I got her e-mail about the workshop. And with all of this swirling in my head, I responded to the workshop teacher with the following:

Dear X: Thank you for the information. I'm having some second thoughts about whether this workshop is a right fit for me. I'm a novice writer at best and struggling with what and how I want to share my life with the world. I have realized that I'm not going to write a memoir that is like a novel, starting one place and taking the reader through a chunk of time. If anything I am going to do short essays that I hope to put together into a compilation that together will give a picture of my life.

Frankly, I just don't know if I can do it.
Rebecca


I expected her response to be short and to the point, thanks for letting me know, I'll take you off the list, have a good day.

But instead, she surprised me with this e-mail:


Rebecca --

A couple thoughts for you.

1) This class is full and I have no doubt will have a waiting list . .. . take your time and if at some point you realize that it is not something you want to do, you will not have let me or anyone down.

2) If you write a series of essays (and not a novel) -- it still has to kinda have a theme and a thread. Each essay will have to show a change in the perspective and vision of the person -- and those will likely build to a larger conclusion by the end.

3) We have MANY MONTHS (4, about 120 days) before this workshop starts. Start writing. See what happens -- see where it takes you. Start anywhere. Start with a random word picked out of a dictionary, an evocative photo, or a stupid prompt like "my worst day."

4) Writers write. That's how they process their worlds. That's how they come to understand the externalia of life and put it in perspective. You don't need to write a book with the idea that it's going to be a runaway best seller and people will recognize you on the street (would you recognize JK Rowling or John Grisham in the Giant? Very few people would cause they look pretty much like everyone else. Now Stephen King has that goofy hair, so maybe him . . .). Anyway, you should think of telling this story as much as exorcising it from you as telling it to the world. Don't worry about the world. Write the book you wish someone else had written so you wouldn't have to. Write a book you'd love to read. Get it out

Take your time and mull through all this. And in the mean time? Get writing. Put it in your calendar, mark off the blocks of time. Make dates with yourself.

X

Wow, she really blew me away with her advice and kindness. Her push is what I needed to try a little longer.

:)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Five Years Ago

Five years ago today I was in the hospital giving birth to my first son. With his arrival my life changed forever. Nothing would ever be the same. I was no longer just in charge of my own life, I was responsible for the life of another human being. My actions determined the survival and health of someone else. Wow. That's one giant step in terms of life changes.

I didn't realize what life really meant until I had my sons. Being a mother changed my molecules. It made me love like I had never loved before and showed me fear that I could not comprehend. Nothing prepared me for the all encompassing power of it.

I'm so grateful I had the chance to become a mother. My boys are the world to me and I feel so blessed for them and for the wonderful man that I was lucky enough to meet and create this life with. Every day I'm thankful for them.

Me and my three boys! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST Ramblings

How could I not do a post about LOST after the finale?

If you haven't seen it yet, please do not read on as I'll be discussing the details of the finale.

OK, I so loved it last night. I was sad when I realized that the sideways world was not real because that meant all the people that had died on the island had actually really died, but the way they did it gave me some peace. I felt especially sad for Sun and Jin because their daughter ends up growing up without either of her parents. But their love story was awesome.

I'm not a religious person by a long shot but I did love the idea of having a place where they all could find each other again and join in their journey to the next higher place, whatever that is.

And then there were the moments when they "remembered" and were reunited in death with the people they loved. OMG, I cried with every single reunion. My eyes were swollen by the end of the show.

There were definitely some questions unanswered but most of the main themes tied up for me. I loved that the characters each lived their own destinies and even though they died at totally different times (for all we know Kate lived until she was 100 or Hurley and Ben grew old together, as number 1 and 2, protecting the island) they all came together in the space between reality and the "afterlife" to help Jack (and each other) move on. There was something beautiful about that.

The Ben thing was interesting. He wasn't ready to leave. Hmmm. He still had some things to work out. But he was still in the Sideways world.

What did you think? Tell me, tell me, tell me....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Just Breath

I feel happy and hopeful today. Like anything is possible.

The last few days I've felt totally overwhelmed by my year project. The pressure of doing it and doing it well has pushed me to do self destructive stuff (eating my anxiety), which I always hate because it's so cliche. And every bone in my body said, stop pretending like you're going to do this thing, you know you're not, why this charade?

But today I am OK. I can see that sometimes you just have to relax and live your life the best you can with no expectations of grandeur.

It's OK to do nothing sometimes. It's OK to just be you, today, the way you are, without having to prove to yourself every second that you're good, you're strong, you're special.

There's nothing wrong with just being, at peace, with no specific purpose than to just breath.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

LOST Goodbyes

I'm going to miss Lost. I'm so excited and a little sad about the show finale on Sunday. My husband and I stumbled on the first episode one night six years ago and have watched ever since. We've loved it and now we're ready to say goodbye to this great show. Here's a nice piece from the people on the show:




Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You Say Tomato...

Did I tell you that I have started gardening?

That is if growing a bunch of herbs and little tomatoes constitutes gardening. Just last year I tried to grow some basil from seed in my kitchen and failed miserably. I thought that I was just not meant for the green thumb type activities and left it at that.

Then a few months ago, my neighbor encouraged me to try again and I did. I started small. One basil plant in the dirt patch next to the back stairs and one basil plant in a pot close by. The one in the pot started dying but the one in the dirt came to life. It gave me confidence to try a few other things. I got a little mint from a wild flower patch in the park and planted it close the basil. I watered the basil and mint every day and wa
tched them like I would my babies. Both of them started to thrive. I was so happy.

And then this weekend, I took a big plunge and bought a bunch more things: dill, cilantro, rosemary, and wait for it....tomatoes!!!

Here's a picture of my sweet group of lovelies. I have such high hopes for them. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mother Time

My neighbor across the street planted a tree three years ago on his front yard. I thought at the time how small and puny that tree was and how it's going to take decades for the tree to resemble anything close to a "real" tree that some of us have in our yards. But today as I was driving my son to school I noticed the tree with it's broad stump and it's full green branches reaching for all directions and demanding attention.

I guess it didn't take decades after all. Just three years. In these three short years, it became alive. It blossomed beyond my imagination. I think about what else has happened in three short years. Tens of thousands have died in military conflicts around the world. Brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers all gone. Just perished one day. Sad things. What else? Children have born, they have grown, they are talking, walking, creating, sharing their imagination and ideas. Good things. Beautiful things.

Time scares me. How fast it goes. How if you're not careful and deliberate, it can pass without you making a mark for yourself in the world. Every minutes, every hour, every day that goes by I feel the need to be present and accountable for my life and my output.

I've been thinking about why I want to write a memoir. Here are some honest answers:

1. I am turning 39 in three weeks and it rattles me a little. I want to do something challenging and real by the time I'm 40 (beyond my first love: being a good mother & wife). I want to accomplish something that no one, including myself, thinks is possible. Something that is going to push me way beyond my comfort zone. Something that once I accomplish it I can look back and beam with proud at having conquered.

2. I want to make my family proud. I don't think this need will ever go away. I still have it like I did when I was a little girl.

3. I want to connect to other people. Especially women. The idea of connecting on such an intimate level to tens, hundreds or maybe thousands of people is intoxicating. I love reading so much, especially memoirs. It helps me enter another persons life and feel less alone because I have them with me.

4. I would like to make money. Not a lot but some money so that I can contribute to my family. If I am able to make money from this endeavor, it will mean that there is possibility that I can be free to do this for a lifetime. I can be rewarded on some level other than just the satisfaction of doing it itself. That others see value in my story and how I have expressed it.

5. My boys will have something that gives them a glance of their mother that they probably would never have if not written down. And their children and their children's children would know where they came from. That your history matters and is part of you.

Those are some of the reasons why I want to do it. But actually doing it is a whole other story. I'm struggling with knowing where to start my story. How to capture the reader from the first sentence. How to reveal myself on that first page so they'll want to turn it.

This project is not a fait accompli by a long shot. Each day I convince myself to stick to it one more day and see how it goes. I guess a lot of challenges in life are like that.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday!

Welcome! I'm so happy you came over to my new home. After weeks of thinking about a name for my new blog, I finally came up with Burst of Fruit Flavor. It has all the elements that I love - bright colors, sweet flavors, a little celebration, a little fun and a little cheeky.

I thought Monday would be a great day to jump over here for a start both on this site and also generally in life.

Each Monday I feel hopeful. Even if the week before was sprinkled with moments of crap or disappointment, every Monday I get a charge of energy. I'm enchanted by the notion of beginnings; anything is possible when you're at the start of something.

So even though I'm in the middle of my journey, I look at each Monday as a start. A chance to do it right, to try my best, to be present in it.

I'm so glad you're here this Monday! :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Something Worth Saying

So much going on!

I'm trying to do something creative and productive every day.  I don't always succeed but every day I wake up happy that I have another opportunity to try.

I did a big thing.  I signed up for a year long writing workshop.  It starts in September and meets every Monday night for three and a half hours.  Each session, the group "workshops" 30 page chunks of work.  I talked to the teacher and she said that the group consists of some published novelists, some novice writers and others that are in the process of writing their novels/memoirs.  I need to have a good amount, at least 30 pages, written by the first meeting.

Each step forward I take surprises me.  A few years ago, I would have laughed in disbelief if someone told me that I would be doing a year long writing workshop so that I could put my memoir together.  But here I am, writing a little, reading a lot, putting deposits down on ONE YEAR workshops!  Just crazy.

Also, as promised, I'm giving up anastasiaspeaks.com.  In a week or so I will be transitioning to a new website.  The blog itself will be same but it will have a different URL/web address.  I haven't found anything I absolutely love, which hasn't already been taken, so it might be the one I mentioned last week:  www.writingdownyourlife.com.  It's simple and describes both what I'm doing and what I advocate for everyone.

Lastly, life has been so fun with my boys lately.  They say funny things and give me lots of hugs.  I'm grateful for this time and hope that the hugs never stop, even when they're ornery teenagers.  :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't Turn It On

Not news but TV is the devil.

If I don't turn it on, I'm good.  All day, productive, creative, thinking, doing.  But God forbid I turn it on just for a few minutes to watch reruns of my favorite sitcoms (Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond).  I'll be stuck there for way too long, wasting the precious time I have each day to do other much more important, creative, and necessary things.

Breath.  OK, now that I'm at my desk and the TV is off I'm ready to do things. 

I hope you're having a great day and that you are doing things!  :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thought of the Day

What would we do if we knew we could not fail?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Using Your Voice

Happy Mother's Day!!!

So far, mine has been relaxing and yummy.

In terms of the writing, I went to my first workshop yesterday.  It was a one day class on personal essay writing.  I got some good tidbits and met some interesting people but I need to find something that is more tailored to what I need help on, structuring a book, finding my voice, working on style etc.  I am looking at taking a year long workshop that is being offered by a writer in my neighborhood that meets every monday night.  It might be perfect but I'm a little hesitant because of the long commitment and the price.

As a friend recently said, the most important part of writing a memoir is finding (or revealing) your voice.  That's been tough for me.  You would think after over a year of writing on this blog I would have found my voice but every time I sit to write about my life in "memoir" form, I start to write in a way that I think books should be written as opposed to just talking in my own voice, with my own quirks and faults, which is what I need to make my voice authentic.

Though out my life, my best friends always told me that I should write a book because I would tell funny stories all the time about growing up in a crazy family.  When I told them that I was writing a memoir they were thrilled.  One said, "what will be different about your memoir is that the stories will have your quirky and crazy sense of humor."  I told her that I just didn't know how to write funny.  Everything I write tends to sound like a sociological analysis of the need to belong and be loved.  It's so preachy and sappy.  Why can't I make it funny and light and say the same things about my life?  Is it funny to be a kid that leaves her country at 8 and never feels quite right again until she meets a man that loves her so completely that he gives her a sense of belonging she's been searching for since childhood?  How can I make that funny?  I'm sure there's a way.

I'll will try and figure it out. I will either succeed, which will be totally awesome, or fail, which will suck but will give me more material for the stories I tell people at parties!

Today I'll be thinking about how to bring out my own voice in print.

Any suggestions welcome!  :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Testing The Waters

I bit the bullet and signed up for a writing workshop.  It's a one-day six hour long workshop  on Saturday about essay writing taught by a writing professional.  I'm so nervous about it.  Mostly because I'm afraid I'll get there and realize that I'm a terrible writer and have no real shot of creating something good.

I was writing yesterday about my life in Vancouver and in the middle of typing I just stopped and looked at the screen and thought: "Who the hell is going to care about this? How is this interesting at all to anyone but me?"

There are numerous times each day that I think I'm wasting my time doing this project.  That I'm just kidding myself if I think a non-writer can just sit down and write an entire book without years of experience and publications under her belt.  That, frankly, I'm just delusional about the whole thing.

But then I remember the promise I made to myself and to you.  The statement that I've made about myself by making this promise out loud for the world to hear.  That I will do this thing no matter how hard and how unlikely it may seem to others.  And that makes me want to keep going. 

Just write one word at a time.  Take one step at a time.  Go to the workshop and see how it goes.  Don't worry about your husband having to take care of the kids all day by himself.  He'll be fine.  The kids will be fine.  Just go. 

Nike really hit the nail on the head when they came up with: Just Do It!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Writing Down Your Life

So I didn't actually write the story yesterday but I started.  Does a few sentences count?

I was so emotionally twisted up yesterday and so tiered.  I just couldn't keep my eyes open the whole day.  And then I had a lovely night out with some friends.  I have to remember not to talk about my "job" or my stories that I'm working on so much.  I'm sure it's not that interesting to others.  Especially since I'm still in the process of working it all out. 

I'm excited to see a good friend, Kate, today who I consider a great writer.  She's got a wonderful blog and I think she writes very naturally.  And on top of that, she's just a really fun and supportive person.

OK, it's 9:30 am, I will write for at least one hour today.  :)

Oh, and I was thinking about new link to this blog...something about writing down your life.  I think everyone has a story to tell and I love the whole writing-down-your-life movement that has flourished because of blogs and the proliferation of memoirs.

What do you think?  writingdownyourlife.com? 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Picture Is Worth Five Hours

The days can go by so fast and you suddenly turn around and wonder what you even got done in the last week.  I'm terrified of not being productive now that I don't have a regular job.  I say "regular" because I am fully into this writing challenge so I'm counting that as my new job.  One of the main problems, however, with this job is that I may never actually get paid for it!  Oh well.  C'est la vie!

Ok, going back to being terrified of doing nothing productive.  I find myself each day ready to attack my writing chores...write, read, think, write.  But then something (or more accurately many things) happen each day to steer me away from that task.  The TV's not working, the bathroom sink is dripping, it's teacher appreciation week (gifts, cards flowers), play dates, groceries, life...AHHHH, it's just stuff I have to get done but it doesn't contribute to my self regulating job.

So I've decided that instead of being totally hard on myself, I will be happy if I do something, even if not writing or reading, that forwards my cause.  Yesterday that thing was organizing over 20 years of pictures. You see, I sat down to write a great story about my mom's opposition to birthdays and my 11th birthday fiasco when I realized it would be so great if I could find a picture from that time to spark some authentic visions and memories.  So before typing one work, I was off to the basement to find that picture.  Well, as anyone that has attempted to organize a giant box of pictures knows it can take forever and lead you to wasting your whole day looking at horrible outfits and should-be-outlawed hair styles.

Five hours later, I had a box of organized pictures and an aching back.  No story written but I found some great pictures.  A lot of the pictures made me sad but they helped me to appreciate today, which is always good.

Today's task, actually writing a draft of that story!

:)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Not So Big Reveal

You might have noticed that I've changed my name and e-mail address in my profile section.  I thought it was time to take off the mask and be authentic.  This was especially important to me because my entire journey for this project is one of authenticity.  My memoir is a lot about being your true self regardless of the world of differences around you.

So for those of you that didn't know the real me, here I am.  Rebecca.  And I will go forward, in the same way that I've been doing the last few weeks, to share my writing thoughts, struggles, triumphs and lessons with you.

One thing that I need to do to finish the unmasking is to change my website link.  I need to say goodbye to www.anastasiaspeaks.com and adopt something more fitting.  Any suggestions?  I want something simple that reveals something about me, my path, and my blog.  I'm having a hard time coming up with something.

I thought of the following as possibilities:

Whitepicketfence - It was taken.  I love this because of its happy life feeling.
Thegift - taken.

I want a happy, idealistic but not naive, achieving your dream, anything is possible kind of name.

Hmmm.  What do you think?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

One Step At A Time

I was thinking today about how boring it might be for you to read day after day about the struggles and triumphs I am going through to reach my goal, my dream.

But I want you to know that just having this outlet every day is so powerful for me.  Writing is such an incredibly lonely and personal pursuit.  It's one with little tangible rewards.  There are no instinct gratifications (which I'm a huge addict of, one of the reasons I've always struggled with having a healthy relationship with food) or positive reinforcements in this kind of job.

That's one of the reasons I gave up trying last year before I even really started.  One story published, a few tries in other outlets and I gave up.  It was too hard.  It chances of any reward were low and even when on the off chance I got the rewards, I found the financial payback pitiful in light of the money I could make as a lawyer doing a small fraction of the writing work and effort.

But now, somehow, things are different.  I've come back to it with a different mind set.  And I'm more determined than I've ever been.  That's doesn't mean, however, that it's easier.

It's still incredibly hard.  You have to motivate yourself every day.  There is no external schedule, pressure, timeline, guidance, structure.  All the things that make regular jobs doable for a lot of people.

To be self disciplined, every day, is a mountain that seems too insurmountable to climb.  But I'm trying to  just take one step forward at a time.  Some days, the steps are so small that I'm not sure if they really even matter.  But I take them anyway.  A page here, a paragraph there, a thought written down, a idea formed.  That's all I have right now.

So I'm keeping this going.  And every single step I'm going to share on this blog because it really helps me sort it out in my head.

Thanks for sharing this time with me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You Need A Lead In

I'm so excited this morning!

I had a break through.  I big giant breakthrough.  I've been struggling with how to tell these stories.   For the sake of just doing it, I've been writing the stories down as they come to me but they seemed to just float in the air without a tether to anything.  How do I make these stories relevant to my bigger life story or to my identity.  How do I make anyone care about reading the story when they don't know why I'm writing them or what their individual themes are.

Well, last night as I was reading Writing About Your Life, by William Zinsser, it hit me.  I need a lead in paragraph that is separate from but related to something in the story that talks about why I'm telling the story, why it's important to me and gives a hint of it's conclusion.

I got up this morning and the lead ins to my essays became somewhat apparent to me.  And it felt like a light bulb turning on.  I woke up my husband (poor husband) and told him the lead in to one of my favorite stories and after a few initial grumbles (which I forgave because of his sleepy state) he actually thought the lead in was really good.

Figuring this out and making it work for at least one story gives me hope.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Year Goes By In A Flash!

Let me ask you question.  Would you work on a project for an entire year knowing that the chances that the project has a successful result is less than 1%?

That's what I have decided.  That I'm going to work for a year on something that realistically has a very small chance of being published or even being read by more than a handful of people.

And also, while doing it, I have people close to me saying that no one will want to read about the life of a regular person unless it's something "interesting" that is written in extraordinarily beautiful way implying that I don't really have anything too unusual or interesting to say (even if I can write beautifully which is certainly not the case right now even though I'm working on it).

It's not that I don't have supportive family and friends.  I think they say the same thing anyone in the publishing industry would say.  The chances are very very small that I will succeed.  Period.

I've been thinking a lot about this.  The hard work that I'll have to put in (and some money to pay for the workshops, books, and supplies) knowing that it is likely to result in nothing more than a year long writing exercise and a story for my children.

Having digested this I'm still determined to do it and this is why.

1. A year is not that much time.  What other great achievement am I going to accomplish in a year that I'm putting aside to do this?  I'm writing and reading during my spare time and once the kids both are in school in September, I will have more dedicated time to do this.

2. Everyone has an interesting story.  I think the challenge is digging down and telling the truth about the human elements that make us who we are:  fear, insecurity, sorrow, the desperate need to belong, love, joy, passion, happiness.

3. I want to write well.  I want to see myself creating a beautiful product that I'm proud of.  I want to share my story with the hope of not only being understood but also maybe connecting with others that have felt the same way I have throughout my life.

4. And the money I'll be spending...well, that will have to be an investment in just trying something big.

How do you like that?  Giving myself a pep talk....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Training For The Marathon

Have you ever sat down and written for three or four hours straight? 

I haven't.  I mean, besides college or law school when I was writing a paper or studying for an exam.  Even in all these years working as an attorney, I'm not sure if I ever actually wrote something nonstop for that long.  Usually, there are breaks between the writing where you talk to people, you check e-mails, you research stuff, you go back and read or edit what you have written already.  For me, especially for the legal work, the reading and editing of material was much more time consuming that the writing of it.

I have a feeling that it's the same with being a writer.  That re-writing and crafting is probably the more time consuming part.  But you have to actually write a lot first to have enough material that you can go back and piece together for a real story that flows and reads nicely. 

And to have that, I'm going to have to get used to writing at least a few hours every day.  The author that recently got back to me with advice said that she writes anywhere form 3 to 6 hours EVERY DAY!

Oh my God!  That's a lot of writing.  I've been thinking about it a lot and I realized that the most I've done in terms of creative non-fiction writing is maybe an hour or so at a time.  The rest of the time I was thinking about it and then going back and re-reading and editing the short pieces that I'd written.

It's like running I guess.  The more you train, the longer you can go.  You can't just start off running 20 mile race if you haven't even ran a single mile in years. 

I'm starting the training today.  I'm going to see how long I can just write the stories that I intend to share.

Wish me luck. 

P.S. If you hadn't guessed it, this post is me procrastinating after my first 20 minutes of writing.  :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reaching Out For Advice

Yesterday, I reached out to an established writer that I barely know for some advice.  She was the editor of the compilation book in which my short personal essay was published last year.

I was a little nervous about it but thought since she was also once a lawyer and has small kids she could relate to my situation.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear back from her so quickly with some helpful suggestions.

My first question was about who should read my material and give me feedback.  A few friends have offered to read my work as I go along and give me feedback.  Also, my husband is a great writer and I wanted to use him too.  She said that I shouldn't do either of these and that instead I should find a writer or teacher to do professional editing.  I think this might be the best thing.  I was hesitant getting my friends involved because of the mixing-friends-and-business issues.  Also, my poor husband is so busy and I don't think I want to have the little time we have with each other be filled up with writing critiques.

The second thing she said that I found interesting was that most of writing is re-writing.  I'd heard that before but it really resonated with me this time.  I've been writing a little more each day but I've still been too hesitant to just write because my thoughts are not complete and my sentences not right.  I need to just get the stories and thoughts on paper and go from there.

The last thing she said was surprising.  She said that when I was ready, she could help me find an agent. Wow.  That's pretty generous considering I don't know her from Adam.

Each day I move a little closer to making it happen!  :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dark Places

Writing about my dark times and my family's personal dark times is going to be HARD.

But for some reason, I think it will be doable.

We all have them.  Even the people that act like or tell you that they don't have them.

I'm thinking it will help me work some stuff out too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Good morning!" She said while walking in the door.

I had a little bit of a panic moment last night when I realized that I don't really know how to write good dialogue.  One year of posts and I think I included dialogue only a hand full of times.

How the hell am I going to write an entire memoir when I don't know how to write dialogue?  Suddenly, a year seems like a very short time to learn everything I need and write something worthwhile.

Then I slowly talked myself off the edge and went on-line and read a couple of articles about how to write dialogue (surprise, surprise, almost all of the articles said listen to dialogue in the real world then practice writing it down and reading it out loud).

This is going to be real work!

Any tips you have on this?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bird By Bird

I'm so happy that I have this medium to share my thoughts and communicate with you.  It's already been so helpful in terms of encouragement and more importantly great advice.  A lot of you have told me to just write.  This is probably the best advice, or reminder, any writer could get.  And I'm taking it to heart.

The other thing I'm doing is reading a lot.  Yesterday, I mentioned a writing book that I was reading.  In response, Sherilee, my dear blog friend that I hope to meet in real life one day soon, suggested the book Bird by Bird.  

Her suggestion was more significant than she could have imagined.  Many years ago, a friend gave me the book because she had heard me talking about my writing dreams.  At the time, that's all they were.  Dreams.  I used to talk about it once in a while more like a distant fantasy than anything I expected to actually happen.  When she gave it to me I tried reading it but after a few pages I put it down.  I didn't really connect to what the writer was saying in the book.  I never picked it up again thinking that it wasn't that good.

Well, last night, because of Sherilee's suggestion, I decided to give it another try.  I started reading and couldn't stop.  What she said not only made perfect sense to me but was a good guide in terms of the steps I need to take today and every day going forward if I want to complete my challenge.  

The difference between all those years ago and today is that I'm so much more ready to receive her message.  I credit a great deal of that to this blog.  When I started this blog some friends didn't understand why I was "wasting" time writing on a blog.  But the one year I spent writing every day (and the very small publishing triumph which came out of the blog) gave me what I needed to start on this journey: the practice of writing on a regular basis, the courage to try and express thoughts on paper quickly without fear of mistakes or criticism, and the knowledge that something wonderful can come out of that writing.

That was a very long way of saying thank you for sticking with me on my blog and giving me feedback.  It means a lot.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Writers Writing About Writing

The thing about writing books are that they're written well.  :)

Not a surprise there but I think it's funny nonetheless.

I'm now reading The Elements of Story by Francis Flaherty, an editor at The New York Times.

Not a hundred percent relevant to my work but great tips on story telling.

Monday, April 19, 2010

To Capitalize Or Not?

Before I can write a book, I need to figure out how to actually write.

I'm reading a few great memoirs including Angela's Ashes and I just realized after several decades of writing that I'm not fully utilizing (and to be honest, did not really know all the ways) to correctly use a colon. 

One of the things that suprised me is that you can start the connecting sentence after the colon with a lower case letter.  I thought you always had to capitalize that first letter after the colon.  But reading these great writers and doing some research I realize now that my understanding was incorrect.  Although some writing manuals say that you should always capitalize the connecting sentence, there are equally legitimate other authorities that say you don't have to do it (unless it is a quotation or more than one sentence).

So there you have it, I'm still learning how to write sentences. 
Boy, this is going to be a long journey!  :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Considerations of Cultural Identity

Some interesting developments on the subject matter of my book.  I saw an old friend recently that was taken aback by the fact that I was going to write about struggles with my culture or heritage.  Her fear was that because I come from a country that already has some negative stereotypes in the American media then anything disparaging I say about that country or culture will be blown out of proportion and used to further the negative misunderstandings of that country.

I have to say that she said it in a way that I found hurtful and patronizing but she did bring up something that I will have to think about very carefully.  When writing about anything like cultural identity, even if it is strictly ones own views of that identity, one needs to be careful not to generalize the entire culture or country.

My story is simply that, it is my story.  And I will work to make sure that whatever conclusions I reach about my culture will be based on only what I have seen and not a total evaluation of the past or the current  people of that culture.

Talking to her, or rather debating her, for the last few days has brought to light the fact that revealing myself in a memoir will have a marked impact on the relationships I have in my life.  Some good and some not so good.  But I'm ready for that.  I think you reach a place in your life where you are ready to show your authentic self to the world and inevitably some will like that self and some will not.  And that's OK.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ready to Learn

I'm so excited.  I had a great talk with my mom and she was so supportive of my book project.  This was the first time that I felt like she really understood what I was trying to do and saw my vision for the book. I read her the summary of what the book would be about and she thought it was great.

You know how sometimes you want to do something but the timing just doesn't seem right for one reason or another.  It could be because you're just not ready or the circumstances around you are not aligned for the thing you want to happen.

Well, I've wanted to write a book for many years but I've never felt like the elements in my life were right for it and looking back, I was not ready either.  I needed time to explore different things and to learn about both the writing process and my own capabilities.

Now that I'm ready and other elements seem to also be falling into place.  I'm ready to ask the right questions about how to do this and I have a better picture of the areas that I need to research and improve to put out a good story.  I'm so excited about this process.

Does that make any sense?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blog Past, Present and Future

After my one year blog challenge, I struggled with what I would do with this blog.

As most of you know, I started this blog as a challenge to myself to write everyday for an entire year.  I started June 2008 and for one year I wrote something every single day, rain or shine, sick or healthy, at home or far away.  I did that challenge for a few reasons; to see how it would feel to write continuously, to see if the process would help me improve my writing and eventually lead me to a new writing career and to create something that would memorialize my thoughts and life.  The challenge was successful in that it accomplished a few of these things.  I ended up writing much more than I would have without the challenge (every single day for an entire year was much harder than I had ever anticipated) and I created a book for my family that memorialized one year of my life and provided a good picture of who I am and how I see the world.  I'm so grateful that I was able to give this gift to myself and my family.  What it didn't do, however, was convince me that I was destined for a writing career.

After this goal ended, I wondered what my challenge would be for the next year (June 2009-2010).  I tried a few things (knitting, painting, and my latest one...entertainment blogger!) but didn't stick to any of them and as the challenge vacuum grew so did my work responsibilities.  So instead of creating a new goal, I concentrated more on my legal work and discipline for the next year.  The decision was not a conscious one but I'm glad it turned out this way.  I was able to improve my legal skills and learn a lot about what it takes and means to be a sole practitioner.  But as the work volume, complexity and scope increased I started to question whether the work was what I ultimately wanted to do at this time in my life.  After some consideration, I decided that the time away from my young children should be time I spend doing something I truly love so I a few weeks ago I quit my stay-at-home legal practice completely.

It was a very hard decision for several reasons, the people I was working with had become like family to me over the last nine years and letting go of that relationship meant not only letting go of some of those close ties but also of the opportunity I had been given by them to continue my legal career on a very flexible schedule and on my terms.  I will forever be grateful to them for that.

Now that another year is upon me, I've decided to commit to a new challenge.  I'm going to write again.  And this time I will do it authentically and about something that is both extremely meaningful but also very difficult to write about and that is my long struggle and eventual peace with my culture and identity.

Just like the first challenge that I professed on this blog almost two years ago, I thought it would be fitting to share my next year challenge here.  I will write my story and make every attempt possible to publish it by June 2011, the same month that I turn 40.

I plan on continuing to blog periodically mostly because of the wonderful friendships that I've gained through this medium and also because I love being part of this supportive and caring community.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Handsome Men's Club

This is so funny.  Kimmel is just great!

Happy Weekend.    :)


Monday, April 5, 2010

Containers Galore

I have such a hard time throwing away boxes and containers, especially if they're cute in any way.  Although that is not a prerequisite.  I currently have four medium sized moving boxes in my office that I just can't get rid of because the boys used them one day for playing robot men and now every time I see them I think what if they want to play with them again and I've thoughtlessly thrown them away!!

And then there are the dozen or so plastic, paper, metal or wooden boxes that I have acquired.  They are old food containers (mostly cute cookie or sweets) or gift containers that I can't stand to let go of.  What if I can reuse them somehow?

And then there are the bags...OH THE BAGS!  I will keep practically any bag that enters my house.  What's more useful than a bag?  And they come in all varieties, plastic, paper, cotton, big, small, medium, from stores, from friends, free gifts, left behind...it doesn't matter how it ends up in my hands, once it's here it sets up its home and never leaves!

But I've been thinking these days, maybe I should clean house and let go of some of that stuff.  What do you think?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life's Tidbits

"Mommy, you're the best girl in the whole world."  3 year old son in response to me giving him a napkin to clean his face.  I'm just thrilled he called me a girl!  :)

Yummy Granola!

I've always loved granola and wanted to make my own, especially now that my son eats it every morning for breakfast.  This recipe from My First Kitchen has inspired me to try and actually do it!



















Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or whatever nut you have around)
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (totally optional)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter (or any other nut butter you like)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss together the oats and chopped nuts on a baking sheet lined with foil (for easy clean up), and toast those for 10-15 minutes until they're barely golden. You're just looking to take some of the raw texture out of both.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the cereal, coconut, chocolate chips, flaxseed, and salt. Once the oats and nuts are done, add those to the same bowl, and toss everything together.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and sugar over low heat, and stir that until the sugar dissolves. Be sure to keep stirring so the mixture doesn't burn. Add the peanut butter and vanilla, and stir over super low heat until everything is combined. Try not to eat this stuff with a spoon.
  4. Now add the peanut butter mixture to the oat mixture, and stir together really well. Press it into a square 8x8 dish with a sheet of wax paper if you don't want your hands to get gross. You can also spray the pan with a little nonstick spray if you think about it. Don't fret if you forget.
  5. Let everything cool in the fridge for a bit so the bars can set up. Cut them into squares (nine big ones or sixteen small ones), and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for a good week. Or just break the granola into pieces; some of it won't stay in bar form anyway.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

LOST Love

LOST rocks!  I'm going to miss it when it's finished.

Tonight's episode:  
  • OMG, I knew "the package" was Desmond.  
  • I'm so sad that Sayid is not Sayid anymore.  I have a feeling that the Island Sayid will not last.
  • Not much of Sawyer today...too bad.  The more Sawyer the better.  
  • I'm ready for the "war" to start.  Who knew that Charles Widmore was one of the good guys?
  • The Jin and Sun love story is sweet and man, Jin looked good in those flash backs.
  • Love Jack again...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Inspiring People

Do you ever watch the Extreme Home Makeover?  The few times that I've seen it I cried like a baby.  But tonight I watched Dateline NBC: Circle of Hands and instead of having a show renovate a home, it was a local town deciding that a family among them was in need and coming together to do something amazing.

If you can still catch it, It's worth watching.  Again, cried like a baby practically throughout the whole thing.

We hear so much on the news about the horrible things people do to each other, crimes, war, tragedy, hardship...it's everywhere.  But then you also see that even in these hard economic times people are so generous, so thoughtful and so full of love for their fellow man.

It so inspiring and heartwarming and it reminds me to do more and give more in my own life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It Must Be Wrong

Is it wrong to resent the other similar aged mother on the beach with two little kids just because she has a perfect bikini body?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remembering The Sweet Moments

You know how there are those small moments in life that completely blow you away emotionally.  Beautiful moments you wish you could bottle and release when things don't look so rosy?

I had two of them recently with my oldest son.  And for no other reason than to make sure I remember them, I'm writing them down:

I was shepherding my boys up the stairs to get ready for bed.  My oldest son stopped, looked up at me and asked me to carry him.  I haven't carried him up the stairs in years since he's almost five but I was feeling nostalgic of the time when he was a little boy so I said sure.  I lifted him up and held him tight against me.  He put his arms around me neck, leaned his head on my shoulder and whispered "you're the best mommy in the world, I love you so much."  OMG, I melted inside but tried to keep it together and just said "I love you too."

A few days later....

After having a few hours of some special one-on-one time with him, I caught him staring into the distance.  I asked him what he was thinking about.  He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said "I was thinking about what to make for you to say thank you for what you did."

Again, OMG, could life be like this every day?  

Write down the special moments with your kids somewhere so you can go back and remember them when they're teenagers that just grunt at you and run up to their rooms.   :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Betrayed By Cheerios

This is just wrong.  Cheerios and chocolate.

I struggle each day to keep sugary things, candies, and chocolates away from my children and then this comes out.

I'm just hoping that they don't see it.  I don't want to have to explain why they can't have their favorite cereal (the real one, with no extra colors or sugars) and their favorite (and occasional) treat cannot, under any circumstances, become their breakfast.

I know how this goes, eventually they will be exposed to it and once they have it, it will be so hard to go back to a time when they had no idea what it tasted like.  That's what happened with chocolate milk.  I was able to keep my children from having any chocolate milk until my son was four and a half years old.  Then one day at a friend's house the other kids were having it and they got it and the rest is history.  I was OK with that because I was there to make that decision and thought it was the right time. 

I'm not opposed to chocolate milk, cookies, ice cream or any other treat, per se, and I support a free market economy but I find it so offensive when cereal companies or any other food companies that primarily market to children, create products that even the most lenient of parents would find completely inappropriate.


Friday, March 12, 2010

A Little Me A Little Celebrity!

I've been dying to tell you all the details of our trip but work has completely consumed me.   It's been a pretty tough few weeks in fact and it's made me rethink my priorities.  More on that later!  Once this work project is over I'll get back to posting a lot more often.

For now, I wanted to leave you with an update on Conan and a tell you about a little cat fight and how I'm connected to it!

Conan just announced that he is doing a 30 city comedy tour called The Legally Prohibited From Being On Television Tour (is that hilarious or what?) and apparently he is not going to be making any money from the tour, he's only doing it to keep the members of this former show working for a while longer!


























I knew I liked him for a reason.  He is just decent and funny to boot!

And on a much sillier and cattier note, apparently there is a big feud between Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stranger and Real Housewives of NY Bethenny Frankel.  I'm not sure of all the details but there is some name calling going on over Patti's friend Jill Zarin from the Housewives show.






























I don't watch either show (although I have seen a few minutes of each show in years past), but the reason I bring it up is that I actually "met" Bethenny a few months ago and she made quite an impression on me.


I was in NY for the Sherlock Holmes premier (I know, how fancy of me...but I was just a guest of a friend of a friend) and while standing in the lobby of my friend's apartment building I saw Bethenny walk in with her dog.  Since we were in a small lobby facing each other, I smiled and said "hi, how are you?"  Honestly, I didn't even realize who she was at first.  I thought it was someone I knew because her face was familiar.  Well, she looked at me with what can only be described as a mixture of indifference and disdain.  It was so rude.  I asked my friend about it and she said that Bethenny had just moved into the building and was already giving people the nose up attitude.  These reality TV people are just ridiculous.


That's my media news for today! :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Not Called A Vacation

I just got back home after a few days of what some people may call vacation but I would argue deserves another name.

Two little kids (first ever trip to a place other than grandparents' house), freezing cold weather, tons of stressful work (I know, why am I working on vacation?), hotel room with not enough beds, change in time zone (the worst part for especially the 3 year old), irregular foods (you know what I mean...kids get so used to certain foods), sleep deprivation for everyone, and a two-flight trip across the country without the husband.  If it wasn't for the lovely friend I was visiting and her adorable kids, I would have really kicked myself for doing that trip at all!

I will elaborate soon (as I'm passing out from fatigue and still have to put the kids to bed) but needless to say, I will think very carefully before doing this again.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Night!

It's here...Oscar night!  I thought for some reason that I could sit uninterrupted with my girlfriend, whom I'm visiting on the west coast, and enjoy all the Hollywoodenss of the evening with lots of yummy food.  But that's not going to happen.  You see I brought my kids because I just didn't want to be without them but now sitting in my girl friend's house I realize that taking care of my two boys and her taking care of her two boys, all four under 6 years old, will prevent us from bundling up in front of the TV for the night.

But, we will try our best!  I'll be running in and out of the TV room trying to get as much of the Oscar stuff as I can while playing mediator, child care professional, chef and the rest of the things that go with being a mom.

So without further a adieu, here goes my commentary on the evening:

- Sandra Bullock's dress...GORGEOUS!  Wow.

- LOVE Jennifer Lopez's dress but seriously didn't like Sarah Jessica Parker.  Not to be catty but Sarah is looking really old these days.  I like her generally but that dress and hair made her look worse than she usually looks.  Jennifer Lopez, that girl's got some good make up and eye brow people...she's looking good.

-LOVE Meryl Streep and that white dress is great I think.  It looks good on her and works I think.  What do you think?

-OK, strange way to start the night...not sure if I liked it...maybe.

- OMG, why is Neil Patrick Harris doing this beginning song?  I LOVE him.  He's so perfect.  What a fun surprise?  He was so great doing the Emmys!

-What do you think of the two host thing?  Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin!  I so love Alec Baldwin...he was beyond funny in It's Complicated.

- I so don't like Quentin Tarantino.  His movies are so violent and dark.

- What's up with George Clooney?  He seems like he is devoid of all humor tonight.  He keeps making faces at the hosts.  Maybe he just doesn't like award shows.

- What a GREAT montage of John Hughes movies.  Loved those.

- Short film acceptance award...what happened there?  The woman interrupting the guy trying to make his acceptance speech.  It was so weird and awkward.

- Mo'Nique's speech was good.  She looks great.

The middle is pretty boring.  Nothing to report.

What do you think so far!?

- Yeah!!! The Argentinean movie won the best foreign movie.  Congrats to my dear friends from Argentina! :)

- Best leading man...what a great presentation.  I loved how they had each actor being introduced by a close colleague.  Not a surprise win....I so wish I had seen Crazy Heart!

-Best leading actress...what amazing women!  And did we know Oprah was going to grace us with her presence?  I was surprised.  I love Meryl Streep and loved the movie.  But Sandra Bullock is so lovely.  And what a great speech.  So true.  The mothers that love their babies, no matter where they come from. Love.

-First best woman director...awesome...it's about time!  :)

Wow, surprise best movie!  I have definitely got to see it now.  Congratulations to The Hurt Locker!

Friday, March 5, 2010

You're Invited!!

Hi ladies!  It's almost Oscar night and I'm super excited.  I didn't get to see all the Oscar movies but I did make a good a dent.  I saw Nine, Up In The Air, An Education, Avatar, Julia and Julia, Up and The Hangover (OMG so funny!).

Since I can't do an Oscar party I'm going to do something almost as good, I'm going to have a virtual Oscar Party.  There will be champagne, caviar, yummy hors d'oeuvres, and lots of decadent desserts (well, pictures of them anyway).

I'm going to do a running commentary of the Oscars from the dresses, to the speeches, to the who should and shouldn't have wons!

Please drop by if you have a minute and join me in an Oscar night extravaganza.  I'd love to hear what you think of all the Oscar night elements.  I'll be responding to all comments and hoping to get a good old fashion Oscar row going on the very precise science of best actingness.  :)

Are you going to watch?  Any fun plans for the night?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Little Post Olympics Humor

David Letterman is usually pretty funny, especially when he does the Top Ten lists with the actual celebrity talking about himself.  If you like Evan Lysacek or Letterman's Top Tens, I think you'll get a kick out of Evan listing off his top ten thoughts during his gold medal performance!  His reading is kind of awkward but since he's an Olympic athlete and not a TV performer, I gave him a pass. :)


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I think this song is hands down the most beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, besides the classic one by Judy Garland of course!  It's sung by a Hawaiian singer named Israel Kamakawiwo'ole who unfortunately dies in 1997.

I've probably listened to it several hundred times.  It's so lovely!