Friday, April 30, 2010

Flashback Friday JAM: Big Audio Dynamite- The Bottom Line, 1985

 (This video is embedded, and I couldn't get the code to post it. If you want to watch it, click through to You Tube.)

Okay, this song has been playing in my mind all week long (and, here's the official video on You Tube). I don't know why it suddenly emerged from my memory, but I love it. When I listen to this song, I can see my record, the album cover, the turntable that I had in my room, and even the posters that I had on my wall. This song just brings back great memories of laughing and hanging out with friends. 

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Indie Night Out: Meeting Children's Author Jon Scieszka!

NY Times Image, 2008
Last night, our local Indie Bookstore held a book-signing with children's author Jon Scieszka, and we decided to all go see him. The Kid likes Jon Scieszka's "Trucktown Smash! Crash!" books and is also just a huge fan of storytelling and writing his own stories, so we thought this would be really cool. Well, it was an awesome experience. Jon Scieszka was a really f-u-n-n-y, good-hearted, down-to-earth guy, and The Kid was totally inspired by meeting him (and, me and Aqua Man, too)!

To top the night off, The Kid had two of his new books autographed, and plenty of time to chat with Mr. Scieszka while he was signing his books. The Kid told him all about the stories he wants to write, and about a story that he's already written and illustrated on our MAC computer. It's a story heavy with knights, battles, and lots of action. After asking lots of questions about The Kid's story, Mr. Scieszka then decided to sign the following inscriptions, "To The Kid-My Fellow Writer!" and "To The Kid-My New Favorite Writer of "--- ------- -- ------!" (The Kid says it's top secret, so I can't tell you the title. Stay tuned though, I have a feeling you may be reading his book one day:)

I haven't had much time to knock around his website, but check it out if you can:

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So Much Time

Recently The Kid's school hosted an Open-House night where he was able to take us through his class room, and show us all of the cool things that he has been working on in first grade. The Kid was equally excited about this night, not only to show off all of his hard work, but because all of the kids would be given the chance to visit other classrooms to check them out. This meant that The Kid would be able to check out the "big kid rooms," including Sixth Grade! That's right, I said, SIXTH GRADE!!! This was going to be the highlight of his week. We arrived at school, and The Kid took us straight to his room, running from area to area, so proud and excited about what he'd been learning. We were able to see his desk, his folder of work, the classroom fish, the caterpillars they had just received for their new science unit, the math projects, and a cool mural that all of the first graders painted just for this special night. After showing us all of this, a bit breathless, The Kid declared, "Okay, that's it! Mom, Dad, let's go check out the other rooms!" So began "the room previews." First we stopped in the second grade classrooms, then down the hall to all three sixth grade classrooms, then to the two fifth grade classrooms, and then back to first grade, this time visiting the other class rooms. We definitely covered it all. And, in each room he would walk around, checking out the desks, the projects, taking it all in. Over all, he decided that it all seemed pretty cool, and do-able, like, "Hey! Sixth graders have a class pet, too. Wow, just like us."

With the approaching end of the year, and the experience of the Open House, The Kid has really been thinking about what's coming next. So when we were sitting down eating lunch the other day, The Kid and I had the following conversation:

The Kid: "Mom, this summer, when people ask me what grade I'm in, what do I tell them? I mean I won't be a first grader anymore, but I'm not really a second grader, yet"

Me: "Well, you can tell them that you are starting second grade in the fall."


Me: "You know, I can't believe that you are finishing first grade, and heading into second grade next year. What happened to that little baby you used to be?!"

The Kid: "Mom! Well, you had a A LOT of days with me when I was a baby. You had to first go through 2003, then 2004, then 2005, then 2006, then 2007, then 2008, then 2009, and now it's 2010. And, here I am!!"
Yes, all of those days. Days I sat and held you, rocked you, fed you, took you to parks, play-groups, classes, the beach, and on and on and on. I am thankful for each and everyone of those days we had together. And, for each day and experience we have together now, as you grow, change, and become more and more your own amazing person.

I look back at all of the time that has passed, the beginning of our time together, and I am content that, when I look at your baby pictures, I can remember what it felt like to hold you, your weight in my arms, your baby smell, and then all of the exciting moments that followed. For sure, every day wasn't easy, or perfect, or wonderful. For sure, the joy and expansion of love in my life couldn't have been known. And, I am thankful for every hour, every day, every week, every month, and every year that I have been your mom; the joy, the tears, all of it. So much time. And how fast the time goes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flashback Friday JAM: INXS, Need You Tonight - 1987

Oh 80's music, I still love you so. 

INXS, you so rocked. You were a favorite back-in-the-day-80's-band of mine. Hope you enjoy this Flashback JAM.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thought for Wednesday

"Meditate on forgiveness for yourself: There are many ways that I have betrayed, harmed, or abandoned myself through thought, word, or deed, knowingly or unknowingly. For each of the ways I have hurt myself through action or inaction, out of my fear, pain, and confusion, I now extend a full and heartfelt forgiveness. I forgive myself."

This was the first thing that I read this morning, and the idea of reflecting on self-forgiveness really struck me as important and liberating. I can imagine that we perhaps, more easily, extend forgiveness to others, but don't easily extend forgiveness to ourselves. I'm going to think on this one today, for sure. Enjoy your Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Young Love Pasta Salad

More than a decade ago, Aqua Man had me over to his house for lunch. When I arrived he had just finished making us pasta salad, so we sat together, eating at his kitchen table, and talking. Back then, whenever we saw each other, we couldn't help but smile and talk with one another. We would spend time talking about ideas, creativity, and writing. Writing, writing, always talk of writing and language and expression. This first lunch together was no exception. I had known Aqua Man for just under a year, and increasingly looked forward to seeing him, to listening to him, to being heard by him, to being seen by him. Sitting together, at his kitchen table--a table that later we would move into the first place that we would share together, the beginning of a life that we would build together, that has so far spanned three different states, eight moves, starting our family, changing jobs and careers, and (re)examining and (re)defining our dreams and goals--we ate together. Not knowing that all of this was to come, or perhaps, at some level, knowing that all of this was to come. And that pasta salad tasted like the most amazing meal I had ever eaten in my life.

Back then, we were both finishing our degrees; I was beginning my Master's degree and Aqua Man was finishing his Ph.D. We lived in a small midwestern college town where each of us had our own place, and each of us could actually afford to rent our own house (a whole house!) and pay for it from combinations of graduate stipends and student loans. I remember Aqua Man's house as a modest, older, somewhat worn down, white framed home not unlike many things that were worn down in that small midwestern college town. Though it is only now, when I revisit pictures from my past, that I see that things were a bit worn down, and shabby. Back then, through my younger eyes, I saw my surroundings as magical and beautiful, unaware of any drabness.

I remember the first time I drove to Aqua Man's house to meet him for that pasta salad lunch. I can still hear the sound of my car tires crunching on his gravel driveway, seeing his unkept side gardens, wild with weeds and flowers, pressing towards the sun, escaping through the side walk cracks. I remember walking up that sidewalk to his back door and knocking, my pulse quickening, wondering what lie on the other side. I remember seeing Aqua Man's face when he opened the door, his bright smile and vivid blue eyes welcoming me in, as he swung his screen door open, inviting me into his home, his life. I remember that first step over his doorstep, slowly swinging my eyes over the scenery, taking in all of the little details, the decorations, the declarations, that expressed who he was. That day seems so long ago, yet not so far away. In so many ways, I feel so different from that young woman from so long ago; in so many ways I feel so similar to that young woman. In so many ways, Aqua Man and I are so different from those young people from so long ago; in so many ways, Aqua Man and I are still so similar to those two young people from so long ago.

Over the years, Aqua Man has come up with different versions of his Pasta Salad, and that's one of the things I love most about it. It's ever changing, dependent upon his mood, the layout of the kitchen itself,  and the farmer's market or grocery store that we can frequent. Sometimes he uses Bow Tie Pasta, other times, Penne or Cork Screw Pasta. Usually he puts in carrots and Garbonzo Beans, but not always. Sometimes there are Black Olives and Red Peppers in his pasta salad. Sometimes he makes his own dressing, playing with new combinations of spices. Other times Marinated Artichoke Hearts add to the flavor of the dressing. Of all the ways that he changes his recipe, his pasta salad is always delicious and always brings back memories of when we first met: memories of Spring, of what had been quietly going on below, unrecognized, unaware, all of those years ago, below the surface of our surrounding landscape, and in our lives. His pasta salad always reminds me of when we fell in love.

Aqua Man hasn't cooked in a long time, but he has been cooking again these past couple of days. And, one of the first things he made was his pasta salad. This time, I shopped for the ingredients, bringing him options of things he might, or might not use, and left him to create in the kitchen. He made lasagna and stuffed shells, and then his pasta salad. And, when he brought me the first bite, in a small sample bowl, it tasted new and familiar, comforting and surprising, all in the same bite, and I smiled. We both filled our bowls, and sat together, eating. With each bite I remembered when we first fell in love, so long ago, not knowing that all of this was to come, or perhaps, at some level, knowing that all of this was to come.

Not knowing, though, that we would end up in that specific moment together. Still not knowing where it will all lead, or how it will all end up, because know one knows the answer to that. So we sit at the kitchen table that is now ours, in the home we share together, in our life, in the family that we have built, together. And that pasta salad tasted like the most amazing meal I have ever eaten in my life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Friday!

This beautiful Tulip arrived in full bloom, in our side garden, just yesterday. It has amazing colors, and in person it is almost overwhelming, it is so bright, so saturated. And, FYI, I didn't photoshop this picture. This is just Mother Nature, and her mad skills, coming at you.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Blooms

The Kid and I have been waiting and watching, everyday for about two weeks, for a bunch of red tulips to bloom. Each day, as we come and go, we check on the buds, only to see just a hint of red. 

Then one morning, suddenly, there were vibrant blooms that had popped open all around the side garden of our house.

When The Kid first saw these flowers he yelled out, excited that they were finally here, and that the colors were so bright.

It amazes me that The Kid feels so connected to nature, and I love seeing how he is aware of what is growing all around him. 

I must admit, when I finally saw these blooms, I yelled a bit, too. Nature is just so cool.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Glowing Review

A couple of weeks ago, Aqua Man was out of town, traveling on back to back business trips. During the times that Aqua Man is out of town, especially during longer trips, I try to shake things up around dinner time as this is usually when The Kid starts to feel tired from his day, and misses his dad the most. On this particular night, The Kid was helping me get dinner together, when I suddenly decided that we would eat dinner in the family room, while watching TV, while sitting on the carpet. It would be like a little family room picnic, which is an experience reserved for "Movie Night" which usually takes place on the weekends. Did you see what I did there? I shook things up! Well, The Kid was very enthusiastic about this idea. He jumped up and down, and gave me a huge hug. And when we sat down to eat together, he settled into his spot on the carpet, put his plate on the coffee table, looked me right in the eyes, and said, "You are the best mom, ever. And, mom, listen. It's not because you're letting me watch TV, but because you take care of me, you get me good food from the grocery store, and you make me great dinners. Seriously, you are the best mom. Ever."

Okay, I know he was excited by the twist in plans. I know that watching TV, while eating, while having a weekday "floor picnic" was the impetus for this emotional outpouring, but, it was really touching. So, I told him that out of all the things I do, I care most about trying to be the best mom that I can be. And The Kid said, "Mom, you're doing it even better than you're trying to do."

Wow, now that's a glowing review.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

On It's Way

There are signs of Spring all around; yellow tulips in full bloom, and other buds breaking through the ground reaching up towards the sunlight.

This past week has been gorgeous: sunny, warm, and breezy. But, today we are back to dark skies and rain. I love this back and forth with the weather; getting to experience the process of change, of growth, of nature itself. This process is one of the things I enjoy the most about living in a four season climate.

Though I took this picture several years ago while we were living in another state, this image always makes me smile. It reminds me that no matter the state of the current weather, Spring will arrive, in full, when it's time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Star Wars' Tumbles

Breaking news in our house. As of last night, The Kid announced that all Star Wars movies have now fallen to a respectable, though surprising, second place. Before I share his explanation, let me give you a bit of context regarding his "ranking tendencies." After viewing the Winter Olympics, The Kid now ranks everything. As in first, second or third place. For example, "Mom, this dinner totally takes first place over the other first place dinner. This pasta? This sauce? This broccoli? This bread? This dinner now gets the gold medal and is in first place!" Also, everyone and everything occurs in the context of "facing each other." As in, "Mom, Direct TV and Cable are facing each other in their commercials. I think Direct TV is going to win. Why are they facing each other? What will the winner get? A gold medal?"

So, what movie could possibly bump the beloved, and previously thought un-beatable Star Wars Trilogy into second place? What film could strip Star Wars of it's Gold Medal, first place ranking in The Kid's mind? Walt Disney's "Swiss Family Robinson."

He summarized for us, "Mom, Dad, Swiss Family Robinson is sooooo much better than Star Wars. Because, in Star Wars, they have things, like lasers, light savers and droids that fight the bad guys. In Swiss Family Robinson they had (to make) different kinds of things: COCONUNT BOMBS! LOGS(to roll down the hill and run over attacking Pirates)! I never saw THAT before! Oh, a trap with a TIGER in it! HOLES that PIRATES fall into! AND, the whole time, they were trapped on an ISLAND!"

Take that "high-tech" Star Wars' movies, take that.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Back to Blogging

After a long hiatus, just two months shy of a year, I'm ready to write and post again (So, the one, two, or three readers I had about a year ago, hi, I'm back, and thanks for reading!). Springtime always makes me want to write again; the fresh start, the stored up energy ready to finally blossom into something.

For the many months that I've been away,  I've happily become a reader again. Actually reading books! Specifically, novels! Real ones! With covers and everything. Though I used to be a big reader, I really hadn't read many novels since the birth of The Kid, which was seven years ago in March. Yes, that's seven years ago (Obviously, I'm not including the countless children's books that I've read with The Kid over the years). When I did read, I would usually read short stories, blogs, articles on the internet, magazines, and newspapers. So, reading novels again? I see this new development as a very good sign that my memory isn't completely lost and that my intellect is somewhat intact. Though, I have to admit, my memory is often fuzzy these days. Damn peri-menopause. At least that's where I'm laying the blame today. So, it has been really fun to read books again and get drawn into a story, a plot, a set of characters.

Currently, I'm reading, "Night World No. 1: Secret Vampire; Daughters of Darkness; Spellbinder" by L.J. Smith because The Kid personally picked it out for me, and gave it to me as a gift. Let's just pause right here for a moment, to reflect on the cuteness of this. How cute is this? Very Cute. Okay, anyway, he picked this particular book for me because he knows that I enjoy reading about vampires and such. Though this book is for the tween set, I'm enjoying the read, and even more, I'm enjoying giving The Kid updates on the plot and characters, as he is delighted whenever I tell him how "scary" the book is getting.

Over this past year, The Kid has really journeyed into reading, and is continuing his love of story and storytelling. His mind is sharp, observant, and curious, and his heart is still sweet and thoughtful. He is in first grade now, and so many exciting things have occurred for him over this past year. He has a whole new set of friends, activities and interests. He is an amazing kid.

Since last year, we have moved again settling into a new rental home that is cute, clean, lovely, and has a dry basement! It is the roomiest place we have lived in to date (though within the context of our neighborhood, our home is very modest, but a good fit for us right now), and by far the nicest neighborhood we've ever lived in. There are lots of families with kids who live on our block, with good neighbors, good people. It is a unique place, and we are enjoying it. We hope we can keep renting this place for a while.

Over the past year, relationships in my life have changed, as well. Some have shifted, some have grown closer, others have fallen away. Overtime, I've become part of the school and neighborhood community in different ways, and this sense of community has been a welcome bonus of of living in this neighborhood.

Several months ago, I began working part-time outside the home, and Aqua Man has settled into his new career. In so many ways, it feels like we have completely changed our lives; as individuals, as a family, and as a couple. Yet, strangely, in other ways, it seems like we are still just "us." Moving, starting over, and beginning anew, while exciting, are not always easy things to do, and, the process can definitely be tough at times. We are grateful to our family and friends who have helped us in different ways during our relocation and transition over the past (almost) two years.
Though this past year sometimes offered up it's own set of challenges, disappointments, and hard-won change across several areas of my life, I continue to feel grateful, and I realize just how much I have to be thankful for in my life.
Here's to more days of warm weather, fresh starts, and more reading.