Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Old people, a different perspective

I was in the video store last night and was standing right by the movie "Sideways". A funny movie about two guys in their mid-30s, who go on a wine-tasting trip before one of them gets married.

Two college-aged guys were standing by me, commenting on various movies, deciding which one to get. This is their conversation about "Sideways".

Guy #1: Have you seen "Sideways"?
Guy #2: Yeah, it was kind of weird.
Guy #1: I didn't really like it. I mean, who wants to see a movie with a bunch of old people in it?

A great Christmas!

This was an exciting Christmas for us all. Most families gather round the Christmas tree, but we gather around Lucas.

Lucas started out opening all his presents with enthusiasm, from clothes to books to toys. He would yell out, "Look, I got CLOTHES!" And he got down on the floor with his Pop-Up Aesop book, looking at all the cool illustrations.

Towards the end of the gift-opening session, Lucas could predict what the present would be just by the shape of the package. At the end, he was just looking for big boxes to open. I couldn't even get him to open another flat package, which he knew would be a book.

At the end of the day, we all had full full bellies and Lucas scored big in the gift department: books, trains, cars and trucks, a tennis racket, and a horse on a stick with a moving head, which of course everyone had to try out. I think one of his favorite gifts was the big box that his wagon came in. He spent a lot of time in there and would order us to drag him around the house in it.

Before going to bed, I told Lucas that Christmas is over and it would be another year till we had Christmas again. He looked at me and said, "When I'm three, I want two things for Christmas. Star stickers!" I guess he'll tell me the other thing that he wants next year.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Dude, where's my train?

After much deliberation, we decided it was time to take Lucas to see Santa Claus. Lucky for us, Santa had taken up temporary residence in Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek. So two nights before Christmas, we all stormed Santa's house to wait for the little guy to go face to face with the big guy.

Lucas was a little tentative at first, but went ahead and sat on Santa's lap. SC asked what Lucas wanted. Lucas said, "A train that makes noise." The photographer snapped away and we got a nice picture. Lucas hopped off Santa's lap and Santa said, "I have a little gift for you."

Imagine Lucas' horror when Santa pulled out a little Christmas book. "Where is my train?" he cried once we had been ushered to the side of Santa's room. After all the build-up, talking about how Santa would bring him presents, and all he got was a book, Lucas was disappointed to say the least.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cures for insomnia?

I've been having lots of sleepless nights lately. There are a few things at play here: 1) Kevin staying up late to read or watch re-runs of X-Files; 2) Lucas coming into our room several times a night; and 3) The incredibly loud walker who walks around on the landing outside the apartment. But I've recently spent some nights at my mom's house, and even then, I still can't sleep.

For those of you who knew me, pre-Lucas, I was super high energy with only 5-6 hours of sleep a night, a definite morning person. I'm still getting the same number hours of sleep, but it's interrupted sleep, which I'm realizing doesn't cut the mustard.

The benefits of being awake at all hours: 1) I get a lot of work done around the place. Like making soups or loaves of French toast to put in the freezer or paying bills; 2) I get a lot of real work done. My co-workers and clients think that I'm such a dedicated worker since I'm sending emails from 11-4am. Also, I frequently have to interview folks in other countries, so I can interview someone in Kuala Lumpur, midnight my time, but it's 4pm in Malaysia.

The downsides of being awake at all hours: 1) I'm pretty tired all the time; 2) I'm cranky; and 3) I've had one really stupid car accident (refer to hot chocolate incident below), and a minor bump that, luckily, did not result in any trips to the auto body shop.

My mom says I should sleep with an apple above my head. I think I'll try it now and see if it works. If you have any non-pharmaceutical suggestions, please post here.

Forget Big Brother, what about Santa?

Lucas is really into the whole Santa Claus thing this year. I thought he wouldn't get into it till next year, but once again, he's proven me wrong. I told him that Santa's watching him and he always asks me to sing the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

After a particularly dramatic breakfast this morning, I went to get ready for work. Lucas came in, still kind of weepy from breakfast. I sat him down and told him that he needs to listen more and do what I say. He looked at me with his eyes wide open and asked, "What's Santa Claus going to do about this?"

Lucas looked so concerned about this, I almost felt bad. But alas, I took this as a "teaching moment", as we would say in the toy business. I said, "Santa saw you and said, 'Lucas has to listen to his mommy.'" Lucas said, "Okay, I will listen because Santa is watching me."

The price of honesty, roughly $400

My $801.90 hot chocolate (see below) was actually more like $1200. I had left a note for the owner of the Volvo that I hit and got a response.

A very kind man, who I will call Dr. D, was the unfortunate owner of the vehicle. We never actually spoke, but traded voicemails over the next couple weeks. He assured me from the get-go that he was not the litigious type and said over and over that he appreciated my honesty.

We decided to skip going through insurance and Dr. D was gracious enough to go with a little patch up on his bumper and a wheel alignment, since that's what he would have wanted "if he was in my shoes". It still cost me almost $400, but I'm grateful to Dr. D for not making a bigger stink out of this.

So I had to dish out $400, but when I die, if the "intelligent designer" needs to know what kind of life I led and whether I can live "happily ever after" or if I have to go to the "other place", I'm hoping Dr. D will give me a good recommendation.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


We have had just one car since 1998. Just a few months after we moved to Berkeley we sold Kevin's car since he never drove it. Every once in a while we would need a 2nd car, like if one of us worked late and didn't want to take public transportation home. In those rare cases, we rationalized taking a cab, since it was still cheaper than owning another car.

A couple weeks ago, when our car was in the shop after the hot chocolate incident, we REALLY needed a 2nd car. One rainy morning, I had to bike with Lucas to his school, in the rain! He thought it was fun, but I felt pretty guilty toting him around in the rain on my bike. So I came home and signed up for City Car Share (www.citycarshare.org), which I think of as a co-op for cars and trucks.

Today was my first day using this spiffy service. It was so convenient and kind of fun too. At first, I felt a bit conspicous driving a purple car with the CCS logo all over, but what a lifesaver! So if you see someone honk at you from a purple CCS car, it might be me!

The Christmas spirit

Lucas and I headed over to my mom's the other morning to help her decorate for Christmas. He was jumping and running through the house saying, "We have Christmas! We have Christmas!". We put on Bing Crosby Christmas music and Lucas danced up a storm.

And tonight we went, for the 2nd time in the past week, to the Christmas Merry Go Round in Tilden Park. We met up with his friend Owen. We rode the Merry Go Round for a little, had some hot cocoa and a gingerbread cookie. Then Lucas and Owen entertained themselves by running around in circles, laughing, and having a great time.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Only in Berkeley - holiday ideas

There's a great resource in this area called the Berkeley Parents Network (BPN for short, website is http://parents.berkeley.edu). If you need a recommendation on a painter, questions about potty training, or concerns about a depressed pet, you can find this and more on BPN.

In the recent Announcements email that came out, I had to laugh out loud at some of the listings that one would only find in an area like Berkeley:

Music for the Soul of Parenting: Topics range from breast feeding highs and lows, the challenge of children's wants and desires, and the intimate story of a teenage birthmother, to a deeply reassuring lullaby and a fierce and determined vow to make a world worthy of our children.

Family Political Action, a way to introduce your children to political activism in a friendly, easy atmosphere.

Holiday Recycled Crafts Fair. Tired of buying garbage at the mall? Come buy garbage from us! Bags, peace banners, toys and more crafts from around the world made from reused & recycled materials will be on display. Proceeds will benefit GAIA's (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) work to stop waste and create a toxic-free future.

Our Charlie Brown Christmas tree

Every year Kevin and I debate on whether we should get a Christmas tree. Our first year in our house, 2000, was the only time we got a real tree. Last year, we bought a small potted rosemary bush shaped like a tree and planted it out front after the holidays.

My mom solved the tree dilemma for us this year. She gave Lucas a little Christmas tree. The tree is small, reminiscent of the one in the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special (it was a centerpiece at a Christmas party the night before).

At first I thought he would be disappointed because he's seen the big trees in other people's homes, but he LOVES it. He has spent so much time re-arranging the decorations and taking ornaments on and off and playing with them. Last night we spent about an hour constructing train tracks that went around the Christmas tree.

This morning Lucas ran to his tree, picked it up and said, "Hey mommy, look at my BIG Christmas tree!" Maybe we'll get a big tree next year.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Concrete counters and new home for fireplace

We're nearing the home stretch on the house, though the home stretch has been stretched a bit. Move-in date looks like the end of January, which translated from contractor-speak, probably means February.

The concrete counters were poured last week. They will be a sligthly different color after they're stained, but they look pretty good as-is.

The latest is around our beloved fireplace. The contractors thought the fireplace would like kind of look like an afterthought with the stairs now next to it. So they created this "frame" for it. I can't wait to move back in!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Beautiful day by the Bay

Someone has been asking for more pictures. I admit, this blog has been lacking the visuals lately. But here's one from today, a beautiful view of the Bay Bridge at noon.

In the driver's seat

Lucas is quite the backseat driver. "Turn left Mommy", "Slow down", and "Mommy, drive with two hands." And any chance he gets, he'll try and scramble up to the driver's seat.

Lucas has had ample opportunity to test his driving skills this past month. At the Oakland Zoo, he was finally tall enough to be allowed to go on the car ride. He LOVED it! (As you can see in the picture, his friend James, did not take to it like Lucas.) He went around and around many times. He took his driving very seriously. I heard another mom talking about Lucas, she said "Look, he really thinks he's steering!" I would call out orders to him, like "Turn left Lucas", "Don't forget to turn right.", just to add some realism to his fantasy that he really was driving.

On our trip to LA for Thanksgiving, Lucas experienced his first pony rides. The pony ride where you just go around in a circle was good for beginners, but after a while, we put him on the ponies that trot around the track. Again, Lucas was in the driver's seat and loved every minute of it.

Before we know it, he'll be asking for keys to the Volvo station wagon. Unless of course, it's not cool enough for him.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Need holiday gift ideas? Ask Lucas!

This evening, Lucas was playing with his trains and out of the blue announced, "Santa Claus is going to give me a train for Christmas!" According to Lucas, his teacher told him that. This must have been a hot topic at school, because we haven't even talked with him about Santa or Christmas yet.

Also according to Lucas, Kevin, Uncle Rocky, and I will also get trains. For grandmas Kay and Trudy, Papa, Uncle Joe, Uncle Brady, and Maggie goldfish are in order. "But the goldfish is not for eating. You put it in a bowl and feed it." And Auntie will be receiving a taxi car.

Need gift ideas for your loved ones, just ask Lucas!