Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010. FINALLY.

I know I mentioned a beach, a somewhat off the charts secret beach for today’s travel post.


The holidays falling on Thursdays this year calls for bending the rules. Oh wait – there really are no RULES. It’s a blog, my blog actually. Since the chances of me writing two posts in two days (plus bring in the New Year with friends and family) and doing the posts right – well the odds are stacked against it.

So I’m traveling to the Land of Good Intentions today.

The Spin Cycle.

New Year’s Resolutions/Intentions/Goals

Since 2009 kicked my fucking ass big time, I have to say I am looking forward to 2010. A LOT.

Here’s my spin from last year. I would say, in terms of meeting those goals, I was more or less treading water. Meh plus one.

I have been exercising somewhat regularly. I lost 12 pounds in 2009, but that was because I could not eat for three weeks, during the bottom pit of hell of unbloggable. However, things have been getting better and I haven’t gained the weight back. My daughter has been bugging me to buy new jeans since the ones I have are all baggy. But I’m waiting another month to see how permanent this new size is. Plus, the baggy jeans are oh so comfortable.

Well, this year I think I will go with the word goal. Plus be more specific. Last year I was somewhat vague and had somewhat vague results…

Pseudo’s Goals for 2010

Continue my morning sacred routines BEFORE coffee and internet time.

Finish the memoir book I began in nanowrimo and have a completed first draft by summertime.

Live with Grace and Gratitude, no matter what is going on around me.

I could go on, but I'll keep it simple and hopefully accomplishable.

Happy New Year and wishing all of you the best in 2010. Strange how this thing called blog has changed my life and brought so many wonderful friendships into my life. I am truly grateful.

For more New Year’s spins, head on over to Sprite’s Keeper.

Last sunset photo of 2009.

Link on up with Mr. Linky and join in Traveling Thursdays.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yacht Boys and Winter Breaks

Due to the unbloggabble events of the last four months, Christmas was a bit different this year. We did not break out the décor nor put up a tree. A wreath was it. We did not buy presents, except for a few token items. We spent what money we had going out a few times as a family.

Sunday we went to the movies and afterwards had pupus and drinks in the late afternoon at Gordon Biersch in Aloha Tower Marketplace. The restaurant has tables outside, right on the water, and you can watch the boats, stare at the ocean. Very relaxing. We reminisced how we used to come during a couple of summers after a movie matinee for the kids’ birthdays. We were awful parents. While we sat there and had a couple drinks, Teen Boy, who was then eight and nine, would whisk around the outside on his heelies. Along the dock, next to the water. Fun times.

Anywhos, on Sunday there was a GIGANTIC yacht tethered along one whole side of the dock, blocking half the view. La Masquerade. Hubs and I were marveling at how detailed and sleek it looked. We contemplated whether or not it was owned by an individual or a company. There were three young men in white “yacht boy” shirts polishing the rails. Nice looking men. Almost like models. Killer Ray Ban styled sunglasses. Hubs and I went into a shtick of what the Yacht Boys might service as a part of their duties. Whether or not they wore their shirts while on the open ocean or went bare-chested. Daughter, now 20, was chagrined. Teen Boy had ditched us for the day, but I think he would have been more open to our antics.

* * *

The last week has been cold for here. 60’s and 70’s. Yesterday I decided to make pea soup with the leftover ham bone from Christmas. So of course the weather warmed up to mid 80’s. House was hot. Everyone was gone. I was cleaning house and cooking in shorts and a little tank bra thing. Midriff exposed to cool off. I went to stir the pea soup, a little too vigorously, and a small spray of boiling hot, sticky, soup splashed across my tummy like an impressionist painting. It looks like I have the Hawaiian islands in red welts.

* * *

On Traveling Thursday I will be featuring the beach we have been heading to over the break. It’s on a reef so one can swim in the blue holes and not worry about the humongous waves. Border Collie is sassy and sticks tongue at you all.

For more Randomness, head on over to Keely at the Unmom's.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Love it When Other Teens are as Bad as Mine

I'm not a big fan of cell phone companies. None have ever done much to make me a loyal customer. I can, however, give some fine examples of me wanting to punch the CEO's in the face for all the frustration and horribible (yes, I wanted it spelled that way) customer service I've encountered.

When my kids are grown and gone and I don't have to worry about frantic phone calls for moments of distress, I plan on getting rid of my cell phone. I miss the days where I could be here and there and everywhere and nowhere and only available for conversation or personal requests when I felt like it.

So. The other day when Teen Son's phone broke (did I mention the horibible phone luck we have), I gladly handed him mine.

"Take it. I'm either going to be hanging at home. Or with Dad. If anyone calls for me tell them to call Dad's phone."

Teen Boy stayed at a friend's for that night and when he came home later the next day I had 10 voice mails. First five were for me. Number six was some other teen boy frantically trying to track down his backpack and wallet, which he thought he might have left in my son's truck.

It made me so happy to know my kid is not the only show in town that leaves his important stuff all over creation.

Messages seven and eight were for me.

Message nine was a bit of an eyebrow raiser.

"Hey TB, you fucking asshole, where the fuck are you? You said you were picking me up to go surfing an hour ago. Quit being a pussy and get your fucking ass over here before I have to beat the shit out of you."

Wondering who the hell that was, but before I could ponder message number nine too much, message number ten came in.

"Hi Auntie, it's K. I just realized TB might not listen to his messages before he gives you back your phone and if you got that last message instead of him, sorry about that. I came home from college for a week, so tell Uncle and everyone I said Merry Christmas. I hope I get to see you guys."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Trip Down Memory Lane

I went out yesterday and took photos and videos for a special Oahu/Traveling/Christmas Eve post. THEN, I loaned my camera to my daughter for closing night of White Christmas at Diamond Head Theatre. And, she decided to spend the night at a friend's in town. So, you all get that post next week for New Year's. I'm traveling to the past of last year's Christmas post instead....

I really looked for a Christmas song video, but none seemed to fit the mood. Since this is more than a Christmas story, but a story about family, I liked the feel of this song. My husband and I have 9 ethnicities between the two of us, and the only one we have in common is Irish. There's no actual video in this though, you can play it (or not) while you read.

Well, on to a Christmas Story.

The year we bought our home, my daughter was four and my son was one. That first Christmas Eve my husband had to work and I was home alone with the children. The baby went to sleep early, so my daughter and I had some special one on one time. On the second floor, outside our master bedroom, was a lanai (balcony) that we have since enclosed. That year my daughter and I sat on the dark lanai, looking out at the stars and sipping hot chocolate. She tingled with joy and excitement and her energy was infectious. Suddenly, she looked in the sky and said, “Mama LOOK! It’s Rudolf. I can see his red nose.”

As I cast my eyes upward, a saw a tiny red dot of light in the night sky. For a brief second that felt like an eternity, I would not have been surprised to see Santa, sleigh, reindeers, and all, come ripping past my house with a “ho, ho, ho!” It was only a moment later that I realized the red dot was a light on the top of a tower. But that did not change my moment. For the first time in over 25 years I experienced that sense of magic and wonder and believing in miracles. I was overcome with the feelings of an innocent child who believes and for a brief moment, I was the child I had been. I realized why adults like to be around children at Christmas. They help us become innocent and see the magic.

When my husband got home from work we took immense pleasure playing Santa together. Although we had bought a home, we had no money left over for furniture and the first two years the entire downstairs was like a gigantic playroom. A TV. A kids’ futon couch. Two bar stools and a high chair. For Christmas, we were giving our son one of those plastic basketball hoops (his second word was B-ball) and we played one on one rounds while we filled the stockings. I believe alcohol might have been involved. We had our fun.

The next morning, after opening maybe two presents, daughter felt sick and wanted to lie down. She had a 24 hour stomach flu bug. I spent the rest of the day cleaning up vomit and getting her to the toilet. Running soda crackers and 7-up upstairs. A few hours later the 18th month old baby boy got sick. The presents never got opened. My husband went off to work and when he got home at midnight he found me praying to the porcelain god. About two hours later it hit him too.

The next morning, the day after Christmas, my husband and I slept in a little bit – like probably 7 or 8, and when we woke up and came downstairs, we found two toddlers in a sea of wrapping paper. They had woken up, came downstairs, and finished Christmas without us. They had moved through the dining and living rooms as the wrapping paper storm took over. I can’t believe I don’t have pictures of this. We were so wiped out from having the flu all night that we just let it be. We sipped tea on the couch and shook our heads at the mess and eventually combed through it to make sure no small present got thrown away.

My husband and I have tried to give our children the childhoods we wished we had. Nothing that special there. That is what most parents do. We may falter, but I believe that most of us have the best of intentions. Christmas is a bit of a balancing act. The gift giving so commercialized and trying to enjoy the gift of giving to your kids without turning them into greedy little grabbers.

The smiles...

We have created our own Christmas rituals. Christmas cookie baking and delivery to neighbors and friends. Candlelit services on Christmas Eve. Special meals. There were our first five years here, when my husband’s grandmother lived with us. She had so much joy in seeing her great grandchildren on Christmas morning.

My Mom on the left. Hubs' grandma on the right.

My mom has come out for several Christmases. She can still be a bit of a handful. But making her a part of our Christmases always added something special. Giving the gift of forgiveness ranks high on my Christmas list. When my mom visits, I work extra hard before she arrives so that when she is here it is all the fun stuff. She has spent several Christmases with us here in Hawaii and sharing it with her has always deepened the joy. When she leaves, I forget the stress of one of her fits she may have thrown and try to only remember the smile on her face when she watches her grandchildren emptying their stockings.

May your Christmas be filled with the joy of love and family. With the miracles of rainbows.
Happy Holidays from me and border collie.
Use Mr. Linky if you would like to link up your own Traveling or Christmas post.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Secret Santa Surprize Spinning

Check out the post under the sunset in the sidebar. You'll thank me....

And now, back to our regular schedule....

I joined the Spin Cycle a year ago this week; I’d been shyly reading other bloggers’ spins and when the Secret Santa was rolled out I couldn’t resist the chance to surprise a blogger with a spin on how much and why I enjoyed his/her blog. The way Jen sets it up, you email her five blogs you love and she does a master schedule.

I’ve been a part of Jen’s weekly Spin Cycle most weeks since. I love the challenge of spinning a topic – like a little bloggers’ writing group. Kind of like why I enjoy my book club – it stretches me to read books that I probably would not choose myself. Jen stretches me to write about topics I might not have considered.

So, on my one year anniversary of Spinning, I gave Jen my list of five and got my secret assignment.

Without further ado, I am pleased as punch to sing my praises for the witty, wise, and wonderful blogger Beth, from What I Should Have Said.

Beth is an elementary school Principal. She is also a brave blogger who takes risks in calling out the underbelly of her profession. Wacko parents? Yep, she covers that. With insight and humor and humility.

District red tape, difficult students, whiney teachers, the intense juggling of roles she has as a Principal. All that and then some.

Some of my favorite posts are the ones where she tells the story of a young child who is different, who to some might be considered strange or odd or hard to appreciate. And Beth tells the story in way that not only shows her utter and complete empathy for the little soul, she also leaves the reader with the feeling that we know that child as well. And we are grateful that someone like Beth is there for that kid.

Beth is wife to a caterer. Who knows Paula Deen and her sons. That carries a load of cool in my book.

Beth is a mother, step-mother, dog mother to Miss Poopy, and she takes beautiful photos.

She is one of the reasons I want to move to Georgia. She entices me with her State in her posts.

Beth is Mistress of the line out. Like poetry. There’s a book I’m reading that one of my students insisted I read over the break. The girl liked the book that much. The title of the book is Crank, and it is written very creatively where the outer column of the prose is also a separate poem. Beth’s skill with line out is like that, only Beth’s poetry is usually a very witty satire of whatever she is writing about. ALWAYS READ UNDER BETH’S LINE OUT. It will crack you up.

Beth is a wonderful friend. Despite her busy life professionally, personally, and bloggilishisly; Beth helped me through my unbloggable. In emails she has reached out to me, endeared herself to me with stories of similar unbloggableness, and sent me articles to read and help deal with the underbelly of my own life.

Happy Holidays to my dear friend Beth from your Secret Santa Spinner. Maybe you should have said it, but a lot of us are happy that if you don’t say it, YOU DO POST ABOUT IT!
For more Secret Santa spins, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

We're traveling today to 1962......

For Christmas each year when I was growing up, our parents took us to see Santa in Panorama City in the San Fernando Valley. There were reindeer. In cages, or perhaps, wire meshed stalls one could say. Here's a photo from back in the day. I'm the middle child on the left.

I miss blogging. Today was the last day of the quarter and I've been in grading hell the last three days; I'm still getting over a cold, and there's a million things that need to be done around here. But I'm going to go take a nap.

Hope a few of you decide to link up and take us virtual traveling. My big plan is to get out and about this week and post next week a real effing Travel Post about Christmas on Oahu. Looking forward to seeing where you all live and go for the Holidays as well.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not Fun

I'm sick. The list grows longer.

Afternoon update. Ah, the list is not of sick bloggers, although there appears to be plenty of us. The list is my "to do" list. Grades, closing out the semester, the holidays, and then there is the whole moving thing. Thank-you everyone for your good wishes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oahu's Waimea Bay

I know there are those of you out there who write your posts ahead of time and set them to go up at midnight. I know because midnight your time is early evening here if I'm comparing time to the East Coast.

I like to think that there are also those like me - who fly by the seat of their pants and post when and if they get time on the family computer. Which I did not get last night for Traveling Thursdays' post. "Luckily" for me, I often have insomnia. Figured since I cannot sleep at 3 AM, might as well get to it.

We love to go to Waimea Bay in the summer (Spring/Fall). A favorite snorkling beach. It is a stunning beach and the Bay feels like the biggest salt water pool on Earth. Often, dolphins frolic on the outskirts of the bay and once my son and his friend swam out to the dolphins (to the fear and amazement of my daughter who drove that day and felt repsonsible).

However, during the winter, when the waves come up monster size on the North Shore, Waimea Bay looks like this.

Greg Long

This shot is from the Quicksilver site, on this tab, you can view more photos from Tuesday's Eddie Aikau Memorial surf contest. I wish I could say I took off from work, spent the day on the North shore taking photos and videos for you folks. But you will have to settle for the professionals for your visuals.

Can you imagine being able to take a wipe out like that?

Travel Tip for today? Don't disregard Oahu when planning a vacation and think about a winter vacation. Heard about the rest of the country's weather on the news last night. It's gorgeous and in the 80's over here. Plus, if you come in the winter, you might get to see the big waves on Oahu's North Shore and maybe even a surf contest.

Link up you own post for some virtual traveling today with Mr. Linky. And feel free to grab the badge in the sidebar.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monster Waves and Floaties

Did you read Vodka’s posts here and here about seeing a psychic? Well, I went to one last week. A friend recommended her. My questions for her had to do with a move we might be making, wanted to find out if any place stood out as where we are supposed to be next. She held my hand, took a breath, then spent most of the time telling me about a personal problem one of my students is going through, how the student is going to confide in me, and how I am meant to help this student. Not that all that isn’t important and everything, but I thought maybe when I helped this student out….perhaps he or she should maybe go in on the psychic fee.

Speaking of school, we are in the middle of To Kill a Mockingbird. Did you know that Harper Lee wrote the book during a year that she was supported by a wealthy couple of friends, “In 1956, the Browns gave Lee an impressive Christmas present—to support her for a year so that she could write full time.” Now, how cool is that? They didn’t donate their money for the tax write off, instead they knew they were possibly responsible for a great work of literature. Curiously, the book is dedicated to “Mr. Lee and Alice…” I’m hoping that it is because the Brown’s did what they did without wanting credit or recognition. If I ever win a lottery or come into a pile, I am going to patron someone’s book. I wrote it down here, so hold me to it.

The waves on the North Shore today are supposed to get up to 40-50 feet. The Eddie Aikau surf contest at Waimea Bay might be held. I’ve lived here nearly 28 years and have never seen waves that big. They only come up like that for a day or two at a time. One time we made it up when they were 30 feet and that was mightily impressive. I’d play hookie from work, but it is the week before finals and it’s just not doable.

Besides, apparently I need to be there in case that student who owes me money for a psychic comes to me for help…

For more random, head on over to Keely’s at The Unmom’s.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Star Gazing

The Spin Cycle this week is “wish list.” These are the directions Jen gave us:

“You can wish for anything, anything! Big or small, real or make believe, past, present, or future. Remember, you are not made of magic, but your wishes ARE. So find that first star, think up your wish…”

So, with the magic in mind and my mind fixed on a star….

I wish for a bit of boring, as in run of the mill, normal, non-angst, and non-drama. I wish that those with whom I live and love have as many non-anxious, edgy moments as possible and that when they do have their mood swings, they recognize it and work through it.

I wish for art to be at the center of my life. For a year (or more) to just create and focus on creating. To not be pulled into several different directions nearly every minute of every day and to not have to get up at four AM just to get two hours to myself.

I wish for a chance to travel. To mix the creating and art with a bit of travel. A road trip….

I wish for peace, starting in my own home…

For more spins on wish lists, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.
And may all your wishes come true...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Titty Mountain

For NaNoWriMo I was working on a memoir book. 1967- 1969, the years we lived in the mobile home park on the beach. A good twenty miles north of Malibu proper, it was a micorcosm of a setting for a few pivotal years of our family. Thought I'd share a smaller vignette.



“MOM! Look UP! Look up at Titty Mountain! It’s ME!”

From the top of the hill in the State Park, on the outer edge of the man made drop off of a cliff, I jumped up and down and waved my arms in the air. I did an Indian pow wow dance and a whirling dervish. Nothing was catching my mom’s attention. I stood for a moment contemplating her putzing around in our yard, completely oblivious that her eleven year old middle daughter was looking down on her from high above.

I stopped trying to gain my mom’s attention and just observed her for awhile. She looked so innocent and vulnerable and small from my vantage point. I felt an ache of tenderness for her. Pure love with a bittersweet edge.

Was it the altitude? The seeming godliness of my perch above the mobile home park and the Pacific Coast Highway on this clear fall day?

Fall was my favorite season to live on the beach; the elements seemed to jump out at you. Riding home from school I would sit on the right hand side of the bus where if I was to leap from the window I might have cleared the rocks and landed with a splash into the ocean. Sitting on the bus and watching the sunlight dance on the ocean’s surface like a swarm of dazzling sea fairies hypnotized me and encouraged my habit of daydreaming. One day a young classmate had sat down beside me, and with a mirror attached to the top of his shoe, gazed up at my panties for a bit of time. Until my friend Sarah saw him and punched his arm. I might never have noticed myself.

On this day, I’d had the heebie jeebies and needed to get out and about. I’d stopped over at Sarah’s, but she only wanted to lounge around her bedroom, listening to 45’s and eating snacks. She wanted to leaf through teen magazines and talk about boys. She was nearly two years older than I and was a little more boy crazy than your average 12 and a half year old.

I’d made up an excuse and ducked out of there. I hadn’t felt like returning home and lying around my own place any more than Sarah’s. At least Sarah’s mom left the girls’ bedroom alone and gave us some privacy. My mom could not stand to see people relaxing. It made her more nervous and anxious than her normal busy bee buzz.

Our beach was such a small little cove that at times it felt confining. My urge to be one with nature that day went beyond standing at the end of the pier and staring into the horizon, and even went beyond climbing along the rocks on the north side of the beach and watching the waves smash against the biggest boulders. Sneaking as close to the raging surf as one can.
No, what I needed that day was some real physical exertion and a sense of freedom.

So off I’d gone on my own to Titty Mountain.

Titty Mountain got its name from its appearance. The hills along the west side of Sycamore Canyon formed a ridge and there was a trail along the top. On one side you could look down at the Pacific Coast Highway, out and across the ocean. An eagle’s view. The other side of the hills sloped down into Sycamore Canyon itself. The beginning of which was the campground, but the canyon narrowed and went on and on and made its way all through the hills up and into the back of Newbury Park. A place I would be living four years from then, but I had no idea at the time.

The reason the edge of this range of hills looked like a big tit was purely man made. A section at the end had to be sliced off for the Pacific Coast Highway to pass around. The flat, brown cliff that occurred from this destruction of nature had the shape of a humongous boob. Something that looked like it could come to life and face off Godzilla in a Japanese film. At the pinnacle was a giant sagebrush. It looked exactly like a nipple sitting there on top. My friends and I had not named it Titty Mountain. It was already christened by those who had come before us.

The location of our mobile home at the outer edge of the park and right next to PCH was directly below Titty Mountain.

From my summit I could see directly into our back yard and whatever my mom was doing. She was oblivious to my shouting and I eventually tired of observing her. I let my eyes wander up and over the amazing horizon that I had all to myself.

Even at eleven I had a strong sense of and appreciation for infinite space. Standing on the edge of a cliff and looking out over the vastness of the ocean on an ethereal fall afternoon was a better high than what the older teens were doing down in some hidden hideaway. A part of me almost felt like I could lift my arms and soar like a hawk. The fact that during my childhood I had recurring dreams where I could fly, and had witnessed panoramic landscapes similar to my ledge on Titty Mountain’s summit, only increased the surreal feel of the moment.

I could also see south down the PCH. Brown, sage brushy hills rolled slowly into the hypnotic ocean of shifting blues and greens, with the winding black ribbon of highway separating the two giants and rippling towards the haze of Los Angeles.

I could almost feel the sensation from my dreams, the lift of flight. I raised my arms to my sides and closed my eyes to better feel the breeze on my face.

I’m not sure how long I was poised there on the edge of the cliff. But when I opened my eyes, and peered down again into our back yard, my mom had definitely noticed me. She was doing her own version of the pow wow rain dance whirling dervish. Her version involved finger wagging and hand signals. Gigantic mouthing of words, which, curiously, I could figure out.

“Get. The. Fuck. Off that ledge. Back off. What the fuck are you thinking? Do you want to give me a fucking heart attack?”

Maybe some other curse words thrown in. My mom really knew how to string them together when she was on a role. One of her talents I was proud to inherit.

For a moment I stood there, feigning innocence, leaned over the ledge a smite more to get a better look at her and pretended to listen more carefully with pantomimed hand behind my ear.
When I realized she had reached that crucial point where her eyes actually bulged out of her head like a cartoon, I backed off. I felt slightly guilty, especially remembering the tenderness I’d felt only moments ago for my mom.

But I did not go home right away. I followed the ridge along the top, walking parallel to PCH heading north. I passed by the first trail that zigzagged down into the campground and opted instead to keep going and head to another crest or peak where I could feel my spirits lift with the sky.

As mad as my mom was, I knew if I waited a couple of hours, by the time I got home she’d be well past her first few drinks for the night. She’d have taken a valium or three and she’d either be happy slosh or scary slosh, but sloshed all the same. My dad would be running late from work. Again. There would most likely be a huge fight when he finally arrived home and my mom would probably escalate to crazyville and suicide threats. This sad slow dance was becoming a regular routine. Just the night before she had walked around with a loaded gun, swirling it around her index finger and detailing how the next time we saw her we would be “picking her brains off the rails of the pier.”

My father had ignored her and continued to watch TV, so my sisters and I did likewise.

I settled down Indian style on another cliff to watch the sunset.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Travel Tip Thursday... ???

Does anyone else remember this saying from when they were young?

“Where are you going?”

“Crazy. Wanna come with?”

I’m taking some major liberties on the topic of travel this Thursday. The tips are more me talking to myself out loud. Feel free to listen in.

Tips on how to NOT go crazy this holiday season.

1.Don’t get in debt. Stick to the plan of homemade goodies and thoughtful little touches.

2.Say yes to spending time with friends. It is really OK to leave tasks undone.

3.Making lists is fine. After all, crossing things off the list is so satisfying. HOWEVER. Do not exhaust oneself thinking the list absolutely needs to be completed each day no matter what.

4.Slow down the pace at work. The students are NOT going to freak out if they get less work the week before final exams. Give them the break off so they don’t come back the first day with a pile of steaming stuff to grade.

5.Start and end each day remembering what I am thankful for.

6.Let some things go.

7.Appreciate the good stuff, especially those little moments between the stress stuff.


These photos of past holidays with sweet little ones around remind me how fast the years go by.

Wishing you all happy travels where ever this month finds you. If you have a travel post by any stretch of the imagination - travels to Christmas Past for instance, link on up and join the party.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Letters and Snarky Advice

The Spin Cycle this week is holiday newsletters. I know Jen had in mind for us to write our own (cause she mentioned that), but with one more day of nanowrino left.... Well, I'm recycling this snarky post from last year. Based on a true story...

I’m hoping not to ruffle the wrong feathers, but I just can’t get this post to stop trying to write itself in my head. So, better here than there I say.

Plus, since New Years is around the corner. I’ll be making some moves towards continued positiviality. (Just wait, that will be a new word someday). Might as well get snarky, mean, negative, judgmental thoughts out now before the regimens of healthy living get a revival treatment.

Anywhos, we get Christmas newsletters from family and friends and we love catching up on what is going on with those we don’t see often, or have lost track of somewhat. Cos, let’s face it. The people we communicate with on a regular basis – we already know most of what they would put in a newsletter.

One of the newsletters we receive gets a special kind of attention from my daughter and me. It’s like, “OMG. THE Braggerbooter’s letter came in!! Break out the tea kettle and let’s have a sit.” My husband gets REALLY PISSED OFF at us. He thinks that my daughter and I are being horribly catty and bitchy and not at all Christmas like.

Ah. Well. Here’s some bitchiness thinly veiled as advice to the Braggerbooter family.

Keep to the highlights. Four pages, single spaced, eleven point font is getting close to becoming a periodical.

Unless you want other people’s kids to not like your kids, have a little balance in the bragging arena. For instance, each kid’s paragraph should probably not be ¾ of a page long, single spaced. Try to make your kids a little bit human.

When listing the athletic accomplishments of your oldest child, even if HE IS an eventual Heisman trophy sure bet, maybe don’t mention every single award. Pick your favorite five.
If your son is so athletically competent that he can play any baseball position well, that might be enough information right there. You probably don’t need to go on and say how he usually is put in as pitcher, 1st baseman, or short stop. And then detail the highlights in each.

Just say you are proud of how well your son is doing academically while balancing it with all those athletics. Don’t give his GPA for every quarter.

Your son may be the most popular boy in his senior class and the phone may be ringing off the wall with girls calling him. It’s just not that cool for a mom to make it a part of the holiday letter.
When introducing your daughter’s paragraph, maybe a more humble beginning than “Son may be a hard act to follow, what with so many accomplishments, but daughter rises to this challenge and even surpasses her brother with her own accomplishments.

You may not want to call your daughter a “typical teen” and then detail that she:

Is the most popular girl in her class.

Played two sports and was voted MVP for both.

Detail a list of awards athletically and academically, describing the honor and importance of each award.

Say how amazed you are that she is an excellent dancer in jazz, hip-hop, AND ballet and finish this off by saying she is so talented that at her ballet performance they “saved her for the closing number.”

Hands down, my all time favorite in your daughter’s paragraph was when you equated your daughter’s “stunning and sophisticated beauty” with a popular young celebrity. It got even better when you proved your point with the anecdotal story of the family vacation to Disneyland and how preteens were asking for your daughter’s autograph (thinking she was the celeb). It was a little over the top when you finished this part with, “it was a fun preview of her future and what it’s like to be rich and famous.”

I could say more, like perhaps you need not detail your home renovations with the exact colors and types of hardwood flooring and granite countertops. But, my snark meter is having a fit and so I should end this fun.

A couple ideas to improve on the ol’ newsletter.

One. Funny works. Add a little humor.

Two. Be gracious. Balance out what might come off as bragging with a little humility thrown in.

One last thing. When you write that paragraph about your vacation home to Hawaii. Detailing all the fun you had. And isn’t it fortunate that you got to come for three weeks? How the highlight was spending time with family and friends who are so dear… Maybe you might word it in a way so those of us that you did not call while you were here don’t go,


Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m probably going to hell for this. But we do have a load of fun reading the Braggerbooter's letter every year.

For more spins, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Update. New links to bloggers in the sidebar. Check out the post under the sunset, you won't be sorry.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Travels Meet Gratitude…

I’m combining traveling with thankfulness; Spin Cycle with Travel Tip Thursday.

I’m thankful for my health. Thankful that, at 52, I can walk on the beach, jog a bit, lift more than your average bear, duck, stoop, stretch, swim, and body board.

I’m thankful for my family. My husband and children. My mom (82) and aunt (87). My sisters, brothers-in-laws, niece, and nephews. My friends who are like family and my girlfriends who are like sisters. My relatives who have passed and all that they taught me while here.

I’m thankful for my job. That I can come home from work each day feeling a bit worn out, yes, but also energized.

I’m thankful for my students, all of them. Those that make me laugh, and those that wear me out and teach me tolerance and patience. I’m thankful to be able to provide a steady income for my family.

I’m thankful for the bloggy world and all of you who have entered my life these last 18 months. For the times I felt support when I was down, for the encouragement in my challenges and in my writing. For all the posts I have read out there that have taken me to so many wonderful moments in all of your lives; for making me think a bit differently and for widening my perspectives.

I’m thankful for all the places I have been and all the places I still might see.

I’m thankful for the laughter, the tears, the excitement, and the peace of each different moment that life has given to me.

Wishing all of you the Thanksgiving that is right for you today.

For more spins on Thankfulness, head on over to Sprite’s Keeper.

If you would like to link your Thanksgiving Travels, or any Travels, this post will remain up through Sunday. Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Three Year Old Random Thoughts

What? Yes, I do realize it is Monday...

Between grading and nanowrimo (14,494 words, hopelessly under the goal - yet 14,494 words more than if I wasn't participating) blogging has taken a definate back seat this month.

While organizing my writing folders I came across some random notes/ideas I jotted down during my breast cancer ordeal. So I thought I would take Monday morning off from nano and post them.

The following are excerpts from a random brain dealing with breast cancer circa 2006....

* * * * *

The anticipation/anxiety at the beginning. How the adrenaline rushes the day of a doctor’s appointment was the same chemical imbalance one gets when excited about something good yet scary. Or like anticipating having to get up in front of an audience of one’s peers and speak. My heart raced. Light-headed. Butterflies in the stomach. Wasn’t a feeling of dread or sadness or foreboding. On the one hand, this might be a good sign. If my body and emotions felt an anticipatory high, any news coming that day must not be bad. The lymph nodes would all be negative. The margins would be negative. On the other hand, it could be wishful thinking gone amuck. A reckless clinging, or was it bracing, against another round of bad news.

* * * * *

Is all this necessary, or am I just a big cash cow? When I walk in the oncologist’s office does she see me, the person, or am I a giant walking dollar sign? A new car? A few months tuition to one of her kid’s swanky private schools? Probably the one my own son wanted to go to that we cannot afford. Perhaps the one my daughter attended but we pulled her out of because of the huge debt we were falling into trying to pay for it. It didn’t help when the chemo nurses continually dropped little morsels of information. “Your doctor always orders that shot.” At $6,613 a visit, chemotherapy seemed a fortune for someone, many someones. Huge debts for me, but I couldn’t help wondering if the only reason I succumbed was superstition. Going against the doctors advice would mean if it came back everyone could nod their heads at me as if to say, “it’s your fault, should have had the chemo.”


Is it so hard to see me as a person? Read my chart before you come in the room? Jot down a note of my wishes and objections so you remember, or can at least remind yourself, the next time? And by the way, since we are here on my dollar, maybe we could talk about me; I know way more about you, your family, and your problems than I need to Doc.


Hunkering down and weathering the storm.


Finding the root cause, because maybe it’s still going on around me. Inside me...


People say, “oh, I don’t want to burden you when you are going through cancer and chemo,” and they then proceed to tell me all their problems.


The problem with being positive and trying not to appear sick – people start making demands of you instead of appreciating you not being a burden.


I miss visiting you all, hope to catch up in bits and most definately after November 30th.

For more Randomness, head on over to Keely at The Unmom's.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My travels today involve a sleepover in town... last night I went to the University of Hawaii and watched the Music Department's musical theatre class workshop style performances.

Here's one my daughter was in.

Travel tip today is when visiting not just Honolulu, but any town, check out what is going on at the college(s). There are often concerts, art exhibits, lectures, that are inexpensive and wonderful

Hope you can join in with a link to your own post about something special in your area, or perhaps somewhere you have been.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Of Heroes, Uncles, and Grandmothers...

I worked teaching in a high risk youth program for a few years. During that time, I attended several conferences /classes /seminars on working with high risk youth. Something that always stuck out was the resiliency factor. What makes one youth resilient and another not so much? Could be a lot of different things, some internal, some external. A factor that came up repeatedly was the mentor factor.

All it takes is one person who cares, who gets in, who gets it, who makes a connection. Of course, at the time, the point was being made to those of us attending the classes that we (the students’ teachers) could and might very well be that one person.

With hindsight, it made me think about who those people had been in my own life.

I knew in an instant.

Bahquine and Uncle Kent.

Bahquine was what we called my paternal grandmother. Uncle Kent was her oldest son, my father’s older brother.

My paternal grandfather I know only by reputation. He was a drunk, a womanizer. He was someone who was hit hard by the Depression. He left my grandmother and his four children right in the middle of it all. My Uncle Kent, who was in high school at the time, became the provider of the family. He worked two jobs while he finished school, getting up at 4 AM and working one job for two hours before school started. Then, after school, he worked full shifts in a corner market, sweeping up and stocking.

My dad was the baby of the family and nine years younger than my Uncle Kent. By the time my dad was in high school my Uncle was working full time to support their mother and his three younger siblings. He would not let my dad work as he wanted my dad to be able to have a full high school experience. He wanted my dad to be able to play football and he did, becoming quite the football star in high school.

When the United States entered WWII, my Uncle Kent who was nearly deaf since birth, joined the Merchant Marines and served his country. The house he bought in Los Angeles provided a home for his mother, his two sisters, and their two infants (their husbands were also off to war).

When he returned from the war, my Uncle never married. He continued to provide a home for his mother while his younger siblings all moved out and started their own families.

While I was growing up, staying with Bahquine and Uncle Kent for weekends during the school year, or whole weeks during the summer, was a comforting ritual. A forgiving contrast to the escalating drama of home.

My Uncle had a woodshop under the house and would teach me how to use C-clamps, saws, hammers, levels and screwdrivers. I was allowed to make projects at will.

Upon our arrival, Uncle Kent put up a card table in the living room and afternoons and evenings were spent playing board games and card games.

While my father was coming home later and later and was growing more emotionally absent from the family, my Uncle stepped in and talked to me about school, college, life…

Uncle Kent was my Atticus, never talking down to us and always making time for us.

My Bahquine was a sweeter version of Calpurnia. My own comfort station. She taught me to knit, to crochet, read to me, and most importantly, listened to me.

While my mother became addicted to Valium, drank herself into a fit, and spent more evenings than not detailing out loud to her children the ways she planned to commit suicide; my Bahquine admonished my fears of academic success in college and told me I was smart enough to accomplish anything I set my mind to.

While my parents fought and drank and became entrenched in their battles, Bahquine and Uncle Kent provided shelter and emotional safety.

My Uncle and my Bahquine were my resiliency factors. They are my heroes, my role models, and the people I owe for surviving my childhood.

For more spins on heroes, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Bucking Horse is Winning, But I'm Still at the Rodeo

A week ago I was within 1,500 words of my goal. Today, at 12,294 words, I'm 50% behind.


A weekend full of grading and prepping, combined with family obligations kept me from writing.

Miss visiting all of you. Trying to pop around when I get a few minutes here and there.



Friday, November 13, 2009

Pink Princess Birthday

The sunset link has been updated, go visit Beth for a heartfelt story...

Jen over at Sprite's Keeper gave us a free spin this week while she is busy preparing for Sprite's 3rd birthday party. I thought I'd use the free spin as an excuse to bring out vintage photos of my now 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son, along with some of their friends. They came out to wish Sprite a very Happy Birthday, whether it is a pink or yellow or princess or Snow White or Jasmine party. Happy Birthday Sprite!

May you enjoy those candles and make a good wish.

My Princess (on the right) says to make sure you get to lick the spoon and the bowl when making cake.

May you be thrilled with your gifts and the fun of package unwrapping.

If there are games involved, may they be exciting.

Cheers to you from the kids Sprite!

For more spins, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Traveling Thursday: Going to Hana Maui

We're heading outer island today...

Remember my friend I wrote about last week, the cool friend who can sing and dance...

Well, she lives in Hana Maui and I asked her to share the wonderful place that she is lucky enough to call home. She says it would take two or three posts, so she will be back for another Traveling Thursday sometime soon.

The captions under the photos are my friend's...

Shore break at Hamoa beach with my son and his cousin.

Historic first Hokule'a canoe arriving in Hana Bay to honor the passing of Samuel Kalalau, one of it's original members from the 70's.

Sunrise through the vog from my lanai.

Alau Island from the Loko (fish pond) of Hane'o'o. The largest in Maui. Fish ponds like these were used throughout the islands to trap, raise, and harvest fish for the village.

Tsunami of 1946 generated from the Aleutian Island earthquake wiped out my husband grandmother's home, taking the lives of Tutu (great grandmother), 3 siblings of my mother in-law, and an uncle. Seven other lives were lost in Hana and scores more on the Island of Hawai'i from this devasting tidal wave.

It's back to me, Pseudo here. I have to chime in and say that this last photo is the location of my friend's wedding. I was a bridesmaid and it was one of the most beautiful weddings ever.

If you go to Maui, not only should you experience the Hana Highway and Hana town; my tip is to stay up there for a few days. Rent a house or stay at the Hana Hotel. It is the most beautiful place in the islands, if you ask me.

Leaving you with a video of an aerial view of Hamoa Beach.

Link up your post to take us virtual traveling this Thursday, just use Mr. Linky.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Winners, Whiners, and Wisecracks

Yesterday my students were turning in a big project. While I called the tables up one at a time (can you tell I have been to a lot of wedding banquets) the other students were enjoying sharing their hard work at their tables with their peers. Although they had a new assignment they could have gotten started on...

I told them I did not mind their sharing instead of working, but to please keep the noise down.

I have one student who is just a very loud girl. A nice girl. A fun girl with a load pf personality. But VERY LOUD.

"Hey Gertrude," I yelled out towards her table, "bring it down a couple of notches."

"What Ms??? Why do you always pick on ME? Everyone is talking..."

"Yes. But I can only hear you and you are so loud I cannot hear myself think."

"Hoooo Mssssss. That's harsh. I think you hurt my feelings."

Her friend Stephanie smiled softly and poked her, whispered something I could not hear that made Gertrude whine even louder.


* * *

Gertrude's table is called up to turn in their projects. Two of them sign in their projects and I am left with Gertrude on my left and Stephanie on my right. Gertrude wants to show me some of the details of her work, but she is talking so loud that my left ear is ringing a tune that sings something like, MIGRAINE, MIGRAINE, WHERE OH WHERE ARE YOU MIGRAINE!!!

"Gertrude, seriously, can you please tone it down? My left ear is ringing and it's making my head totally out of balance."

I don't see it coming.

Quiet, sweet Stephanie has leaned in towards my right ear. And shouts to the heavens,

"DOES THIS HELP MISS!!! Are you evened up now!"

The look of shock on my face made their day, especially, I do believe, Stephanie. I've got a new eye peeled on that girl.

* * *

One of the best things about birthdays in middle age is the cards you get...

I love my sister Shaunna. Ever noticed I don't put up photos of myself? Shaunna has one up of us for my birthday post. Want to go check us out?

Hehehe. Like I look anything like that at 52.

* * *

The first winner is..... Erin from The Locals Love It

True Random Number Generator
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

The second winner is...Brian Miller from Waystaytionone

True Random Number Generator
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

The third winner is...Debbie from Suburb Sanity

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 86
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Thank-you everyone who played along. I wish I could send you all a goodie box. You three winners, please email me a mailing address and I'll send out your packages next week.

My nanowrino is 11,584. I am taking this morning off to catch up on a little blogging, but I might not be around to visit too much this month.

For more Random Fun, head on over to The Unmom's.