Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lucas' Hollywood ending

Lucas' bed time routine consists of two books, one made-up story which we tell, and one song.

For the made-up story, Lucas has special requests, to make sure we set the stage for the story. Here is the type of preamble I get before I tell him a story:

"Tell the story about how me and Jack (his new BFF at school) go to the end of the street and there's a spooky old house. And we go in and see a creepy old troll with purple skin and black teeth. Then we try to open the door again but it's locked. So we shine a flashlight in his eyes and he melts so we get away. Tell me that story."

At times like this, I say to him, "Wow, you practically told the whole story, can you finish it?" He flatly refuses and makes me re-tell it, yet often corrects me when I get a detail wrong.

On many occasions, we fall asleep in his room during the storytelling session. I try and hold it together, but honestly, sometimes I can't help but doze off. I know I start mumbling about things that happened during the day, like, "...and then I was on hold for 10 minutes with the DMV...". Lucas will shake me and say, "Mommy, that's not the way the story goes. I don't know what you're talking about." Neither do I.

This happened on Wednesday night. I was telling him a story about something (see I don't even remember now) and fell asleep. Lucas woke me up and this was the conversation as I remember it.

Lucas: Finish telling the story mommy
Me: Can you tell me what the story was about?
Lucas: Can you just finish the story? (clearly exasperated with his lame story-telling mom)
Me: I forget what it's about.
Lucas: Mommy just say this, "Then we all went back to Grandma Kay's and had a party with cupcakes with blue frosting and blue sprinkles. The End." Can you just say that for the ending?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Flashback weekend!

We went to LA for the long Turkey weekend. Aside from enjoying all the food and gluttony that accompanies the usual Thanksgiving festivities, I took advantage of this long weekend to catch up with old friends.

Running with the Arvidsons - Lucas and I met up with my friend Sunday and her four beautiful daughters (three 5-year-olds, and one 2-year-old) at this picturesque park in San Marino.Lucas met the triplets a few times in his early years.

THEN (2003 in Manhattan Beach)

THEN (2004, roadtrip to LA)

How times have changed! Needless to say, Lucas loved getting outside and playing with kids his age. They all ran around, played in big piles of leaves, and had a great time!

NOW (last weekend in San Marino)

With everyone now being more self-sufficient, without needing so much parental supervision, Sunday and I had a chance to catch up in person. We've been close friends since we first met sophomore year in college. I tried to do the math, but take my word for it, it's been a long long time (note the massive shoulder pads in the photo below).
WAY BACK THEN (circa early 1990s, roadtrip to SF)

We were roommates, fellow partygoers and survived a lot of roadtrips and weekenders together. We hadn't seen each other since our girls' weekend to Palm Springs, about a year and a half ago. But we talk on the phone about once a week, so it was hard for me to believe it had been that long since our last meeting.

FAQ - When I tell people that Sunday has four kids, people are astonished and always ask me "How does she do it?" I admit, when Sunday told me she was going to have triplets, I was a little anxious for her. In college, she was notorious for losing things: keys, jackets, cameras, etc. But from spending time with them at the park, seeing them a few times over the years, and talking to her weekly, I'm constantly amazed and impressed at how awesome she is with her kids.

The Friskes - Sunday morning I went solo and drove into LA. My first stop was at the Friskes. Ali and I have been friends since we met freshman year in the dorms. We spring break-ed (broke?) together in Waikiki and had our share of college dorm antics.
WAY BACK THEN (1989, Hana Bay, Waikiki)

Instead of talking about dollar beer joints and fraternity parties, we talked potty training and private schools. Again, we tried to piece together a timeline of the last few times we had seen each other, but it's been a while: Ali's had two adorable kids since we last met.

Me and Jeanne - I left the Friskes and headed straight over to West LA to see Jeanne. Jeanne and I have been close friends since high school. Unfortunately, this is the earliest pic I could find of the two of us. Can you guess what decade this is? (Hint: the halfshirt and acid-washed jeans)
WAY BACK THEN (1988, USC/Stanford Weekender)

We strolled around Santa Monica: Main Street, the awesome farmer's market there, then down to 3rd Street Promenade. I walked away without buying a single thing. But it felt so indulgent to just window shop with a good friend and not be in any kind of rush.

Long lost relatives - Alex and Graham were two of the groomsmen in our wedding. The four of us hung out so much when we lived in LA: dinner parties, running charades, movie nights, dim sum outings, movie making - we used to do so much with them. Alex and I used to pretend that we were cousins, or was is siblings? I can't even remember anymore.

WAY BACK WHEN - 1988 in LA's Chinatown

We were trying to figure out the last time we had all seen each other and sadly surmised that it was at our wedding, or shortly thereafter -- NINE YEARS AGO! And we really haven't been good about keeping in touch, not even with email.

They came over Sunday night and we hung out so they could meet Lucas. Then we went out for dinner. The awesome thing was that once we started talking, it felt like no time had passed at all since our last meeting. That being said, we agreed on mutual visits in 2008.

(NOW - last weekend at Kevin's parents' house)

Kevin and I talked later about how much fun it was to spend time with Alex and Graham. I'm not sure what happened these last nine years and why we never picked up the phone on one of our visits down there, or sent more emails. But we aren't going to let that happen again.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Zen and the Art of Bathroom Maintenance

Everyone in Lucas' classroom has a job. I think they keep the same job for a week or two. Some of Lucas' past include:
  • Calendar helper - putting the new dates in the calendar during circle time
  • Shelf duster - dusting shelves
  • Mat monitor - making sure that the mats are rolled up tightly
Here is my exclusive interview with Lucas, the current bathroom monitor of the Pre-K classroom:

Me: What exactly do you do, as bathroom monitor?
Lucas: When we all go to the bathroom, I make sure that everyone flushes the toilet and washes their hands. Then I make sure that all the paper towels go into the trash can.
Me: Do you like this job?
Lucas: Yeah, I think so.
Me: What is your favorite job?
Lucas: Bathroom monitor.
Me: Really? Why is it your favorite?
Lucas: Because it's my job right now.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More than a name

Lucas has come a long way since earlier this year when he interpreted the term "Native Americans" as the "Knights of America".

Lucas' class is currently studying Native Americans. The class went on a field trip last week to the Oakland Museum of California. Lucas told me that they lived in "pointy houses called tipis" and that they ate a lot of corn. He also told me that people moved onto the land of the Native Americans, and made them move away, even though they were there first.

Everyone in his class received a Native American name. Lucas' is "Fast Running Tiger". His friends have names like Red Eagle, Fire Cheetah, and Tall Snowy Mountain. Lucas named me Mountain Lion Mama and Kevin is Big Fluffy Monster (?).

Lucas informed me that Native Americans want to be called Native Americans, not Indians. He told me that his teacher Shereen is from the country India, so she is Indian, and different from the people who live in tipis.

This prompted me to do some research. I saw that the YMCA Indian Guides and Indian Princesses programs only just recently (2003) shed these terms for the less controversial monikers "Adventure Guides" and "Explorers". Sounds like some of the parents were not in favor of these name changes. Maybe Fast Running Tiger should have a talk with them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Walk: Part 3 - Sunny Gets Her Just Desserts

After the walk, I made the trek to Orange County so I could spend some time with my friend Venita.
Venita and I were sorority sisters, roommates in college, and also roommates after college. We even got jobs at the same place right after college. We also were dating two guys, who were also roommates. Venita and I shared a lot of the same interests: getting up early to roller blade along the boardwalk along the beaches, eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough, eating desserts, going out to parties, shopping, walking, eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough, watching good movies and bad movies, and did I mention that we both enjoyed eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough?

On my ride up to her house, I called Venita from the road, she said, "Do you hear this?" It was the sweet sound of the hand mixer, mixing what I could only believe was chocolate chip cookie dough.

I spent Sunday night at Venita's house. I slept in a comfy bed, was able to use a real toilet (not just a port-a-potty), washed my hands with real running water and soap (not Purell), and got to play with her two adorable little kids. And of course, I got to eat cookie dough, cookies, other assorted desserts, and spend time with one of my best friends. It was a great way to end my trip.

Lucas and Kevin had a great time when I was gone. I came back to a lot of artwork inspired by, well, me. Here is one of me as a vampire with a spiral of "I love mom" and "I love dad". (Not sure how a child psychologist would interpret that one.)I guess that's how he worked out some of his angst for me being gone for so long.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Walk: Part 2 - The Pink Factor and Life in the Bottom Quartile

When you look at the 3-day web site, you get the feeling that there will be a lot of pink at this event. You have no idea.Lindsey, Jeanne, and I looked like the goth kids compared to the other 4,497 peppy and perky people decked out in pink. For some reason, the three teachers in our group were the ones who sported the pink clothes and additional pink "flair"(Jennifer, second from the right, and Isabelle and Amy, not pictured).There were the crazy costumes and accessories - pink cowboy hats, pink tutus, pink boas, pink pumps, and everything else in between (there was also the Southern California factor, so people were really decked out, made-up, and tan!)

Here's a photo of us at one of the pit stops. They had all sorts of stuff to dress up in for a photo. But seriously, many people wore stuff like this when they walked. Plus, people really played up the word "breast" and all of its nicknames with logos on shirts and signs. Here are some of my favorites:
  • I'm a breast man - seen on the shirt of a very old (probably 90-year-old) man who cheered us on along the route.
  • Save the Tatas
  • The Tittee Committee
  • Mammo-Glam
  • Big or Small...Save Them All
  • Boobs on the Move
  • Chicas for Chi-Chis
  • Happy Hooters
  • Jammin' for Jugs
  • Saving Second Base
I must say that this was one well-oiled pink machine. There were vans always driving by, to pick up anyone who needed a lift. These people would receive a button saying, "Sagged and Proud".

Most of the pit stops were themed. My favorite was the 80s "Hard Walk Cafe". They blasted my favorite 80s music and staff and volunteers were dressed in mini-skirts, double belts and some sported mullets.There was a lot of preambling going on at the opening ceremonies, and while I appreciate a good speech, what I saw along the walk was much more moving: the woman walking with the sign on her back that said, "85 year old walker, 2-time cancer survivor", the dad with two young kids with a sign saying, "We miss you Mom", the current cancer patient standing on the side of the road with the sign, "Thank you for walking for me". Those were the things that moved me along, plus the fact that my bladder was always in search of the next bathroom. (I was very close to having my own slogan that said, "I peed in my pants for breast cancer.")

Oh, and the food. Almost every supporter on the side of the route had bowls full of, what I can only imagine to be, left over Halloween candy. Aside from candy, people also handed out donut holes, popsicles, chips and salsa, and all sorts of other stuff. My favorites were the guy who had two buckets, one labeled "Milk Chocolate" and the other "Dark Chocolate" (by Day 3, he only had Milk Chocolate left) and the one guy who had freshly caught mahi mahi on crackers with mango chutney. I actually gained weight from this walk, if you can believe it.

We slept in tents. Yes, even me. Luckily they were set up for us already and Lindsey, my tentmate, is an experienced camper. She brought the tarps and the tarp clips, and camp light. If it wasn't for Lindsey, I would have been wet and miserable (thanks Lindsey!).

With a team that included alumni from competitive schools like Harvard, Stanford, UCLA and USC, we were somewhat dismayed to find ourselves in the bottom quartile of walkers. No matter what time we left in the morning, we were consistently among the last 25%. (This didn't sit well with my competitive side, but I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a race.) But we had a great time talking as we strolled. Amy brought a set of "conversation cards", with deep and thought-provoking questions we could ponder and discuss, like "What was the worst hairstyle you ever had?" and "What part of the world has the sexiest men?".

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. I spent lots of good quality time with my friends and I hobbled away with only three blisters and some mild soreness in my legs.

Thanks to all my wonderful friends and family, I met my goal of raising $2200 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The event in San Diego raised more than $10 million - pretty impressive for a lot of people dressed up in pink. And if you're wondering, yes, you can still donate if you haven't already.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Walk: Part I - Road trip and Last-Minute Preparation

A few months back I signed up with some friends to walk 60 miles for the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It was this past weekend. Here's part one. If you just want to know how it went, it went great.

Jennifer picked me up early on Thursday morning. We decided to drive to San Diego for a little road trip to make the most of our break from our daily family obligations. So of course, we spent the entire drive chatting about our families.

We made great time on I-5 and landed in Santa Monica right around noon. We had some time to kill as hotel check-in in San Diego wasn't until 4pm so we snuck in one last "training" walk down Montana Avenue, which was one of my favorite streets to stroll when I lived in LaLa Land.

With 60 miles of walking in our near future, we shopped for the basic essentials. We hit the Blue Jean Bar and tried on many pairs of tight, pricey jeans. I ended up with two pairs from the Lucky store down the street. We noshed on fancy salads at the Marmalade Cafe, one of my favorite lunch spots on Montana. As we were heading to the car we both realized we needed more undies for the walk. As luck would have it, the only place that had undies was a cute boutique which had bras priced at $250! But we needed underwear and didn't have time to find the nearest REI. With no other alternatives at that point, I sucked it up and bought some expensive pima cotton panties.

Feeling not-too-guilty about our purchases, we drove the rest of the way down to San Diego. On the drive, we conducted a small chocolate tasting. (Green & Blacks Maya Gold won out over the Dagoba Xocolatl).

At the hotel, where we would spend the night before walking 60 miles and sleeping in tents for two nights, I reduced the amount of stuff I would need for the walk and campsite by at least 30% and put the excess stuff in Jennifer's car.

Then it was time to merchandise the Clif Bar products, donated by my friend who works for Clif. All those years of setting up packaging displays at various software and toy companies really paid off, check out my handiwork.After Lindsey arrived we went out for a carb-loading sushi dinner and then a last-last minute shopping trip to the CVS Pharmacy and drug store. Then our 4th hotel roommate Jeanne arrived. We carefully selected our Clif products for the next few days, packed up, readied ourselves for the upcoming event, and went to bed.

Despite the fact that some obnoxious drunk guys were yelling obscenities like "Shave my a**hole!" in the adjacent parking lot at 3am, I had a good night's sleep.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Art appreciation

Saturday morning Lucas was busy at the art table. He said he was making a surprise for me.
Then he showed me this.
In case you still need coaching on how to read Lucas' writing, it says, "I dumped my water out on a leaf." (I dup mi wodrl ot on u lef). He told me that the yellow part of the drawing was water.

I was amazed! The leaf was so much more real-looking than his other drawings. Plus, his interpretation of water on the leaf was more conceptual than his other drawings.

I told him what I liked about his drawing, then we hung it up on the wall.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Candy experiment - results

Well, the results were mixed and not quite what I had hoped for.

Lucas has such a sweet tooth. He loved waking up and feeding his sweet tooth every morning. Of course, I would also fix him breakfast, which he would eat, but then, right back to the candy. And once we got home from school, he would make a bee-line for his candy.

On Thursday afternoon he ate about 8 pieces of candy. He walked around doubled over for a bit before dinner, saying, "My tummy hurts." I asked him if he thought it was from all the candy. Of course, he said no. After surprising me by eating a healthy meal of chicken spinach salad and some good crusty bread, he went right back to inhale more candy. I was secretly hoping that he would have recognized his evil ways and said "no" to candy.

Friday morning, I reminded him that he would be giving up his candy at the end of the day. He ate his candy with a slight look of desperation in his eyes. I also reminded him that the "sugar fairy" would leave him something in place of all his candy.

Saturday morning he was a little upset that his candy was gone. He couldn't believe it was true. Then I asked him if he checked to see if the sugar fairy left him anything. We opened the front door and his eyes went immediately to a shiny stack of coins on the porch(about $1.50). He grabbed the coins and started putting them into his coin bank and never mentioned his candy again.