Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Believe in the Love behind the reason for Christmas. May the love and peace of Christ be with you now and all through the year.
Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I have this ornament on my Christmas tree. It is simply the word "Believe" written in script and studded with rhinestones. At this time of year, we are exhorted to believe and we're bombarded with phrases like "Believe in the magic of Christmas" or "I believe in Santa Claus". I've even seen something like, "If you don't believe in Santa then you get underwear." Well, at least I still get underwear. 100% cotton, preferably, please.

However well-intentioned or humorous these phrases may be, I still think they're misguided. At best, they're a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas. At worst, they distort and deny the true meaning of Christmas. But what is the "true" meaning of Christmas? Quite simply, it is about the best gift ever given; the gift from God to us as so eloquently stated in the Gospel of John:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." ~John 3:16-17

Believe and you will be saved. Believe that God loved you enough to do this for you and that no way no how could you ever work for it and earn it. That's why it's called a gift.

MeRrY ChRiStMaS!!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” ~John 11:25-27

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In the Middle

If it's not in all caps, it's not a rant.

Honestly, I try not to complain too much. It's counterproductive and takes alot of time and energy. That's not to imply that I don't get annoyed or that I don't complain; I do. I just try to be selective about what it is I'm complaining about.

If there's one thing that drives me batshit crazy it's when people stop and stand in the middle of the aisle while grocery shopping...with their shopping cart...blocking the aisle. Oftentimes these same people are completely oblivious to the traffic jam they're creating as indicated by the fact that they glare at you like you're an ill-mannered a**hole who's trying to shove your way past them. The nerve. My advice to these people is:

For the love of all that is holy, 
MOVE OVER ALREADY! HELLO!!! I would never shout this to them of course, because my mother did teach me manners. (And I did go to a Catholic school after all.) In this case, what I say and what I think are two very different things. If that's an example of hypocrisy then so be it. Personally, I think it's an example of self-control. ☺

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lucky Number 13

On Monday, I will officially be the mother of a teen. My 12 year-old will be 13 years old. Lucky number 13. Hehehe. Contrary to what some might think I am not afraid of the teen years; in fact, I'm looking forward to them.

Maybe I'm not worried because my oldest son is not a typical kid and therefore is not/won't be a typical teen. This is the kid who when asked if he wanted to go to the first dance of 7th grade said, "I'm not ready for that kind of commitment." Hehehe. That's not to say that I think the teen years will be smooth sailing. But seriously, were the teen years smooth sailing for anyone? All of the drama, the melodrama, the angst: Can anyone seriously look back and say, "Those were the best years of my life!!" I didn't think so.

Alrighty then. Time to board the teen roller coaster, Lucky Number 13.

13  13  13  13  13  13  13  13  13

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Proper View of Work

Sorry, it's another cat picture. You know this is what cats really think.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Listening is Fundamental (Update)

Hello and welcome back! You didn't even know I was gone, did you?

During the summer we had our own mini version of summer school for my oldest son. Considering that he ended 6th grade on a less than sub-standard note, I felt it was only fair. Looking back over the past school year I realize that there were several factors that contributed to his poor performance, which I won't go into here.

Honestly, I wasn't concerned about math, science, or social studies. His main problem in those areas was a lack of organizational skills, i.e. forgetting to turn in work. What really concerned me was language arts, or as they used to say back in the day, reading and writing. The writing could be dealt with by using a keyboard for the most part (except in math). Addressing his negative attitude toward reading had me stumped...until I was inspired to let him read a book while simultaneously listening to the audio version.

Over the summer I watched him go from a reluctant reader who despised reading to a I'd-still-rather-be-doing-something-else-but-at-least-I-don't-hate-it reader. Seriously, folks, that's a huge improvement. His 7th grade language arts teacher has graciously allowed him to bring his book on CD to school, where during the allotted reading time he can listen and read along. I think having an IEP that allowed for alternative materials helped quite a bit. He started off the 7th grade Accelerated Reading requirement by rereading the books from his summer reading list. I'm happy to report that on two of the book quizzes he scored 100%. On the third book quiz, he score 90%. He has already achieved his AR goal for this quarter. This did not happen very often in the past.

I know this is hard to believe for an almost 13 year-old, but listening is one of my son's strengths. I'm convinced that listening to a story while reading along gives him the freedom to concentrate on the actual story rather than trying to focus on the mechanics and skill of narrating the story in his head. Many kids with Asperger's Syndrome struggle with voice modulation and tone. If they struggle with trying to find right tone and expression for their own voices how much more might they struggle by trying to use the right tone for the written stories of others? Food for thought. Anyway, we are continuing with this experiment and I hope it opens up a whole new world for him.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What Cats Think

I think a little amusement is in order after the last couple of posts. My FB friends will recognize this picture, and yes, this is my cat. I'm positive that she thinks this all the time.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just When You Think You're in the Clear

Somewhere in the back of my mind I always knew that there was a possibility that yesterday could happen. As I was finishing lunch I got a phone call from my youngest son's teacher. She called to say that as they were coming in from lunch, my son's legs buckled under him, he turned pale white, and his lips started turning blue. His aide brought him into the classroom where it was obvious that he couldn't walk right and needed to lie down. I can't say for certain because I wasn't there to see it, but it sounded like an atonic seizure. He used to have those when he was a baby.

I'd like to think that maybe it was just the heat or maybe he was a little dehydrated. I can rationalize with the best of them, but my gut says that it wasn't heat or dehydration. It wasn't that hot yesterday, and he usually has no problem drinking fluids. Also, his teacher, his aide, and the principal all witnessed the episode so it's not based on one person's perception.

I'd almost forgotten about them because it's been so long since he's had one. Even when I wrote about the ketogenic diet last year, I knew there was a possibility of a breakthrough seizure, but I never focused on that. It's easy to go merrily along through life and then WHAM! you get kicked in the face. I refuse to get paranoid, but I can no longer be relaxed and complacent.

So, yesterday was a wake-up call to remind me once again that life is not to be taken for granted. In the 8 years that he's been seizure free, this is the only time he's had a breakthrough seizure - that I know of. Let's hope it's the last time.

"Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." Jeremiah 17:14

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Talk

Sooner or later some of us will have to have "the talk" with our children. And no, I'm not talking about the birds and the bees. I'm talking about the talk that we parents have to have with our typical children regarding the care of their sibling with special needs. Frankly, I think the birds and the bees talk is easier.

I don't know what possessed me to do this, but a while back I stumbled into a conversation with my oldest son (who has Asperger's Syndrome) about the differences between him and his brother (who has moderate disabilities resulting from a neonatal brain hemorrhage). The conversation went along the lines of him complaining about something that wasn't fair. I pointed out to him that his brother was unable to do many of the things that he took for granted: riding a bike or a scooter in the neighborhood, shopping with his allowance money. I then steered the conversation to the future. I said, "You know, your brother's life will look alot different from yours. You will probably drive a car, go to college, get a job and live on your own. Your brother won't. In all likelihood, he will live in some type of care home or group home after Daddy and I pass on. You have to promise me that you won't forget your brother. Promise me that you will always look out for him." He said, "I will, Mom. I promise I won't forget my brother."

That's a pretty heavy load to lay on a 12 year-old and I'm not for certain that he understood the full extent of what he was promising. I'm also positive that we will have to revisit this conversation more than once. It's an awkward but necessary conversation to have. Since I know that my youngest son will need some form of care and supervision for the rest of his life it's imperative that he has a family member who will look out for his best interests. Make no mistake, I want him to live at home with me and my husband for as long as he can, God willing. However, we're not getting any younger.

Ideally, my husband and I would like to be in a position to help select the group home while we're still living rather than have a social worker place him after we've died. Personally, I feel it would be less traumatic for everyone if we were able to ease my younger son into the transition. I'm thinking about this more and more as the boys get older. Tomorrow begins a new school year: my oldest son will start 7th grade and my youngest son will be in 5th grade. Some say that I have a while to go before I have to make any decisions, but, really, time flies by. The boys will be out of high school and into adulthood before I know it.

So, in addition to the birds and the bees we also have to talk about family responsibilities. Of course, I really don't want my oldest son to look after his younger brother because it's merely his duty or his responsibility. I hope he does it out of concern and love for his brother. One can dream.

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?”declares the Lord. Jeremiah 22:16

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Daytripping: Bodega Bay

Jetty at Doran Beach
Bodega Bay is another favorite beach spot for my family. The drive to Bodega Bay is a much easier drive than the drive to Stinson Beach. There are no windy (long i, not short i) coastal roads bringing you down to the ocean. You simply drive through the town of Petaluma, meander through dairy country, and before you know it, you're at the coast. No terrifying descent on a narrow road where you have to share the road with bicyclists and idiot drivers. OK, maybe "terrifying" is a bit hyperbolic.

Testing the water
Some of the beaches at Bodega Bay can be difficult to access as you must climb down a cliff to reach the beach. Oh sure, there are "stairs" but they are rustic to say the least and they can be slippery. And heaven forbid that you have to use the facilities, because then you have to climb back up the cliff to reach said facilities. (I'm thinking of Portuguese Beach in this case. It's gorgeous, but...) If you, or someone in your family has mobility issues, I do not recommend these beaches. This time around, we went to Doran Beach. Doran Beach is right off the parking lot so it was easy to get to. It is also a dog-friendly beach so we were able to bring our rat dog. We did have to pay $7.00 for parking, but we considered this a small price to pay for easy access to the beach and to facilities.

"Hi, Mom!"
Doran Beach is a sandy beach instead of a rocky beach. It also has camping areas for tents and RVs as well as areas for day use complete with picnic tables and bbqs. I'm definitely going to remember this for next year's camping trip. There is a Coast Guard training station there, so we got to see a Coast Guard helicopter go on patrol (or whatever) and a Coast Guard boat. Since my oldest son's latest obsessions are airplanes and helicopters, this was exciting for him.

Can't say we weren't warned
We parked our butts on the beach near the jetty. My husband and oldest son spent some time exploring the jetty where they observed people fishing and trying to catch crabs. There was plenty to do for the camper or the daytripper.

I'm not going to say that it's the best beach I've been to. Honestly, I still prefer Stinson Beach. But as far as ease of access is concerned, I would say that Doran Beach in Bodega Bay gets an A+.

Hermit crab

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rethinking Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness

Talking about faith is never easy, at least not for me. Yet, sometimes the opposite is true: it's easy to talk the talk but not walk the walk. Either way, putting that faith into action can be difficult especially when we are influenced by so many things, like our surrounding culture. 

Americans say, "Life".
Jesus said, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." Matthew 16:24

Americans say, "Liberty".
Jesus said, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

Americans say, "Pursuit of happiness".
Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matthew 16:25

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Daytripping: Stinson Beach

The boys
My family loves the beach. It's one of the few places we can go where everybody has a good time and everyone is able to relax. Over the weekend we went to Stinson Beach. Stinson Beach is known for sharks and sand dollars, although strangely enough we didn't see either during this trip.

We like this beach for a number of reasons, first and foremost being it has facilities. Yes, folks, it has actual flushing toilets. Granted there are no seats on these toilets, but there is plenty of toilet paper and they are easy to get to. We always find a spot close to the facilities so we don't have to walk two miles over hot sand to reach them.

Beach bum rat dog
We also like this beach because we can bring our rat dog with us. Let me clarify. Dogs are allowed on the county-run section of the beach, in this case, Marin County. Dogs are NOT allowed on the National Recreation Area side. (Stinson Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.) The beach is clearly marked which side is which, so there is no confusion. If you are like me and not really a dog person - although I have no choice since we have a dog - you can go to the no dogs allowed section of the beach.

I wouldn't exactly say that there is adequate parking, but there is a parking lot. We always get there early, between 9:30 - 10:00. The one time we got there close to noon, parking was a nightmare. Going forward, we made a point of getting there well before noon. In my opinion, getting there in the afternoon is a crap shoot as far as parking is concerned. Once you park and get settled and watch the fog burn off, you're in for a lovely day at the beach.

Bourgeois Pig? Oink
This year, we decided to be Mr. and Mrs. Suburban Bourgeois-Pig and purchase a beach tent. Honestly, every beach umbrella we've had just didn't slice the gravy. You see, when we go to the beach we stay all day. Stinson Beach is a couple of hours away from us, so it doesn't make alot of sense to pack up the car and the kids and go to the beach for an hour or two. Screw that. We got there at 10:00am and we didn't leave until 5:00pm. Having the tent gave everyone a chance to take a nap without getting completely fried.

If you've never been to Stinson Beach, then I highly recommend going. The drive is beautiful albeit windy (long i not short i). Muir Woods is on the way so you could make it an all day trip or make a weekend out of it. The beach tent is optional.

Friday, July 20, 2012

All That We Have

Some years ago I underwent an attitude adjustment. I can't even pinpoint the exact moment; let's just say it was a process. It was when I began to realize that all that I have are gifts from God that I was able to have some compassion on people and to prevent myself from getting angry. Let me explain.

When I say 'all that I have', I mean that literally. I have been blessed in numerous ways: I have a husband who loves me; two kids who are relatively innocent and not jaded; a home of my own; food in my fridge; two cars; assorted animals; family and friends. I also have average intelligence (no comments) and my health. I have eyes that see - 20/20 vision in my mid-40's - ears that hear, legs that walk and hands that work. Which in turn gives me the ability to: feed myself, dress myself, wipe my own butt, decide what I want to do, and go just about anywhere when I want to...except maybe uphill; I do drive a 1969 VW after all. These are gifts from God. Some people are born without some of these gifts, some experience a tragedy that takes away these gifts, and some people squander these gifts. Whatever the case, they are gifts and they are things that should not be taken for granted.

My youngest son, for example, does not have the gift of sight, the ability to speak, or the ability to reason...he is legally blind, nonverbal and cognitively delayed. He needs help with eating, dressing, and yes, wiping his butt. He does have other gifts: hearing, a joyful laugh, a gentle (sometimes stubborn) spirit. When I realized that not everyone has average+ intelligence, not everyone has their health, not everyone was born into a loving family, not everyone has enough food/clothing/shelter, it gave me insight as to why people are the way they are. It's not meant to be an excuse, but it did teach me to have compassion and to use my gifts and blessings to help other people the way others have helped me.

The words "entitlement" and "entitled" are being tossed around in American politics more than ever. It is my opinion, that anything we take for granted is viewed as an entitlement. This includes what we consider "the basic things" like the gift of life. We think very highly of ourselves and our accomplishments and we often don't have any patience or compassion on those whom we deem fools. We also fail to acknowledge the blessings we have been given either from God or from others. We can talk all we want to about the grace of God, but we live and act in a very self-centered, works-based world. I firmly believe that in order to understand, to accept, and to give grace you have to have a grateful and humble heart. That begins with acknowledging that all you have is a gift, even those things that you seemingly worked for.

Lord, thank you for two legs that walk, two hands that work, two eyes that see, two ears that hear, and a spirit that longs for You.

"The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?" Exodus 4:11

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fiesta Time!

I am by no means a fanatic, but I've always loved Fiesta® dinnerware - dare I say love at first sight. I was first introduced to Fiestaware (which BTW, it's not really "Fiestaware"; it's just "Fiesta") when I worked at a housewares store in Berkeley, CA in the early 90s. All of the bright and cheery colors made a fabulous display. I ended up buying a service for 16: four in rose, four in white, four in yellow, and four in turquoise. Although I wanted a place setting in every color, the store where I worked sold Fiesta in either boxes of four, 5-piece place settings, or all open stock. Purchasing place settings via open stock was expensive...even back then. And since this was the pre-Internet stone age I couldn't exactly shop around. So, I settled on four colors that I liked.

Fast forward about 10 years later. When we moved from Seattle back to California, I opted not to take my Fiesta dinnerware with me. I reasoned that I could always buy it again. I know, it was a hard decision, but it was alot of dinnerware to pack and considering what what going on in my life at the time, it wasn't something I wanted to be bothered with. However, I did keep my serveware pieces because at the time those were harder to come by.

Fast forward another 9 years later. Today, I am looking at ten beautiful colors of Fiesta in my cupboards. I purchased ten place settings in ten different colors directly from the Homer Laughlin Company. Each place setting was boxed and sold individually. This time around I purchased the 4-piece place setting instead of the 5-piece place setting as I prefer the mug to the cup and saucer. They were running a special where you purchase four place settings and got the fifth one for free. How could I not? I got one place setting each of: tangerine, lemongrass, turquoise, plum, white, marigold, scarlet, chocolate, peacock, and the newest color, flamingo. Finally, I have my cupboard full of fiesta colors. As an added bonus, Fiesta dinnerware is made in the USA. The only snag - and in fairness it is always a possibility when shipping dinnerware or glassware - is that two of the mugs were damaged. I called the Homer Laughlin Company and they are sending replacement mugs at no charge.

I don't know if I'll be adding any more colors to my set or not. Collecting Fiesta dinnerware can be very addicting. I do need to replace my sugar and creamer set as well as my salt and pepper set. Maybe a new butter dish as the one I had broke years ago. And since I did purchase a 9x13 pan in scarlet, then maybe I need a 9x9 baking dish in lemongrass to go with it. ☺

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I've started a new blog. It feels like cheating, but it's not really. I mean you probably already know by now anyway. And if you don't, well it was bound to happen sooner or later. It's nothing personal. I just needed a new hobby. What I'm trying to say is that it's not you, it's me. :-)

My new blog is Coffee Cake Crazy. I know, I know like the internet needs another food blog. But it's not just any old food blog; it's mine. And it's about coffee cakes and nothing but coffee cakes. Just because.

So stop on by and say "Hi". Or you can still say "Hi" here, too. Hope to see you here....or there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Listening is Fundamental

I realize that I'm dating myself, but way back in the 70s when I was a kid there was a huge push to increase literacy through the slogan Reading is Fundamental. I loved reading. In fact, I loved it so much that I got my degree in English. I still love to read. While I won't delve too deeply, suffice it to say I didn't have the best childhood. Reading provided a respite from the everyday shambles that was my life. I loved reading stories that did not resemble my life or my surroundings. Reality? Who the hell wants that? I sure didn't. Seriously, I did not want to read about characters mired in the despair of alcoholism and poverty. I didn't need to read about it because I lived it. But, different strokes for different folks. The beauty of living in a free society with a free public library system is that there are multitudes of books for everyone.

I mention all of this because despite my love for reading and my husband's love for reading, my oldest son does not share this. What I find to be an enjoyable pastime, he finds a frustrating endeavor. It's not that he can't read and it's not that he struggles with reading per se. He reads instructions, manuals, and magazines just fine. Reading is utilitarian to him. He'll read about airplanes (his latest obsession), or how to catch a particular Pokemon. If you ask him to read a fiction book and then talk about a character's feelings or motivation, he'll give you the deer-in-the-headlights look. Maybe it's because he has Asperger's Syndrome that he struggles with deciphering context clues and character motivation. He wants just the facts and only the facts. Consequently, he doesn't always do well on those darned, pointless Accelerated Reading quizzes. Did I say 'pointless'? I meant 'inane'.

Regardless of my feelings about Accelerated Reading, it is a fact of my son's life. While observing in his classroom (remember?), I noticed his teacher reading out loud to the class. I also noticed that the class - including my son - seemed to be enjoying it. With this in mind, I decided to try a summer experiment and have my son read along while listening to an audio book. I found free audio books at Books Should Be Free; granted, they are all public domain books, but I figured it would be a start. I had my son read Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. He actually liked it. I asked him if it was easier to read along while listening and not surprisingly he said, "Yes". Tentatively, I asked him if there was a book that he thought he might want to read but was afraid to try. He said, "Well, my friend read Scat by Carl Hiaasen, and he really liked it. You know, that's the same author who wrote Hoot." I took him with me to Barnes and Noble and I bought Scat. Then we went to the library and found the audio version.

I don't know if he'll ever come to love reading the way I do. But I sincerely hope that he won't despise it either. If reading while listening to an audio book will help improve his comprehension and diminish his reluctance to read, then sign me up, baby, I am all for it. I'll let you know how this experiment goes at the end of summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When Silence Isn't Golden

The lazy days of summer vacation have started. Although my youngest son goes to summer school he has one week off between the end of regular school and the beginning of summer school. Summer school only lasts for four weeks, so he gets a total of six weeks off during the summer. As I'm writing this, I am sitting on my bed with my laptop and my youngest son is sitting next to me propped up on some pillows. He really wants the computer (or "com-peh-peh" as he says) in order to play the ABC game at, with my assistance of course. I ask him questions about what he wants to do today but there usually is no answer. Silence...or if I'm lucky he will try to say and sign "candy" or "cake". Right now, he's listening to the tap-tap-tap of the keyboard patiently waiting for his turn at the com-peh-peh.

Many parents of young children or teenagers long for that golden silence. I know I do especially when my oldest son is awake. My oldest son is loud and always in motion. My youngest son is not. It's not that he isn't active or vocal; it's just that he spends a majority of time listening to the world around him trying to interpret the sounds. Some may find this hard to believe, but I am quiet by nature. I love my solitude. There are days when I don't care if I ever hear the sound of another human voice. My oldest son and I are very different in this area and I know we grate on each other's nerves. My youngest son is fairly quiet but not by choice; and that's what bugs me. Just once, I would love to hear him say a complete sentence on his own instead of one-word approximations. I would love to hear him chat with his brother or talk to the cat or make zoom-zoom noises with his toy cars.

Right now, he's listening and waiting. He spends alot of time doing both. If he could see and talk then he would really know what I'm doing and he would know that I'm almost done. Occasionally, he says "a-geh", which is how he tries to say "again". I know he wants the computer. I just wish he could say, "Are you done yet? Can I play Starfall, Mom?" Even though he can't say it, I know it's time to play Starfall.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5 (ESV)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Daytripping: Giants vs. Cubs @ AT&T Park

$18 each
We're in the home stretch of the school year, which means I figured it would be a perfect week to pull the boys out of school for a day and head to San Francisco to catch a Giants game. That's exactly what we did yesterday: we took the boys to their first major league baseball game.

Third base
Back in December, a FB friend had posted a link to the Giants' web site advertising early bird pricing for upcoming games. Since the price for attending a pro sporting event is exorbitant bordering on obscene (IMO), I decided to take advantage of this offer. Sure, they were bleacher seats, but we had a pretty good view of third base. Eighteen bucks per ticket plus thirty bucks for parking. Needless to say, the pricing for a weekend game was considerably higher than a weekday game, hence the reason why we went on a Monday. Taking your family to a major league game is not for the faint of wallet. And then there's the concession stand...or should I say multiple concessions. Holy Toledo, I am glad I bought the tickets back in December because if I had to drop that amount of money all at once, I would have needed my inhaler. We did manage to bring our own water in a soft-sided cooler. Really, though, if you go to AT&T park to catch a game, then you simply must get the garlic fries. Spare no expense.

Score board
My main concern for this outing was how the boys would tolerate the noise level. They actually did fantastic. My youngest son loved listening to the organ music and the fans clapping their hands. And when Queen's "We Will Rock You" came on the loudspeaker, he started laughing and squealing. The only problem we encountered (and it was minor) was the stairs. I had to take my youngest son to the restroom a couple of times and going up and down the stairs was difficult for him. If we do this again, I'll check and see if there is more accessible seating.

My oldest son actually paid attention to the game for the most part. He did bring his Nintendo DS just in case, but really there was so much auditory and visual stimulation that he hardly played it.

It wouldn't be a Giants game without a little bit of San Francisco overcast. It was a tad drizzly but only for about 15 minutes. And of course, it wouldn't be a Giants game without playing Journey's "When the Lights Go Down in the City". As an added bonus, the Giants beat the Cubs 3-2. Woo hoo!! All in all, a great day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Out of It or Now I Get the One-Day-at-a Time Thing

This is your one and only TMI warning. 

For the last 4-6 weeks I haven't felt like myself. It's allergy season, which basically means I turn into a walking talking phlegm factory. A runny nose, itchy eyes, and a general feeling of malaise does not make for a happy springtime. In addition, my asthma is flaring up, which means I'm not breathing well, which means I'm not sleeping well, which means I feel lousy.  On top of all this, I'm having that-time-of-the-month issues; I will spare you and not delve into too much detail here.

What all of this means is that I feel my fervor slipping when it comes to my weight loss/weight management. It has been way too easy to slack off on exercising. Granted, it's hard to push myself when I can't breathe too well, but I can't say that's been the case everyday. It's also been way to easy to eat out especially when I don't feel well and don't feel like cooking. Also, my taste buds seem like they're asleep, so it seemed like a good idea to wake them up with spicy, salty, or extra-sweet food. Bad idea, I know.

In no way do I want to compare myself with people who struggle with alcohol addiction. I cannot emphasize enough how much respect and admiration I have for those people who overcome their addiction to alcohol and become sober. But I think I'm finally beginning to understand the Alcoholics Anonymous slogan "One day at a time". You see, it's so easy to slip back into old bad habits especially when we feel physically or emotionally overwhelmed. I now realize that when I'm feeling the way I currently do that I have to consciously choose my new pattern of health and fitness over my old pattern of unhealthy choices. I have to consciously choose the new over the old every. single. day.

I've started this attitude today. I half walked and half jogged most of my usual route. When breathing became difficult, I walked. I chose a breakfast of coffee, fresh fruit, and almonds over the muffins that I made yesterday. I've logged my calories thus far to keep me honest. I'm not even thinking about lunch or dinner. One meal at a time. One day at a time.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's Never the White Wine...

...that gets spilled on the white carpet; it's always the red wine.

Maybe you've heard or said something similar to the red wine always getting spilled on the carpet. In our house we've also said, "It's never the white grape juice that gets spilled on the grout; it's always the purple grape juice, dammit." (Fortunately, the tile counters in our kitchen were replaced with Corian, so I no longer care what gets spilled on them.) If you're not familiar with this saying, this gist of it can be summed up like this: Out of all of the possible outcomes to a situation, the worst one will always happen. I guess it's kind of similar to Murphy's Law.

For some reason, I've been thinking about this with regard to my eating habits. For example,

"It's never the plate of fruit that gets devoured; it's always the plate of cookies."
"It's never the spinach salad that I overindulge in; it's always the crackers or chips."

Believe me, no one can ever accuse me of eating too many fruits and vegetables. No one has ever said to me, "Whoaaa there, missy, you better lay off the carrots because eating that many is not good for you." Seriously, no one has ever said that to me. Even after losing 50lbs, I wish I could say that my cravings for unhealthy foods has disappeared with the extra pounds. Sadly, they haven't. If something is loaded with sugar, salt, fat, or MSG then bring it on baby, let's have a party!! It is against my nature to choose the carrots over the cookies.

Even so, my mind set has changed this past year. I now realize that I have a choice. It sounds silly because it's obvious that I have a choice. But after nearly a lifetime of making poor food choices and engaging in poor eating habits, it wasn't always obvious that I had a choice. I now know that if I overindulge at lunch time, I can get right back on plan at dinner time. I don't always have to choose the cookies (although today I did); I can choose the carrots, too. The opposite is also true: I don't always have to choose the carrots; sometimes, I can choose the cookies.

I guess the moral of the story is: if you have carpeting, then don't serve red wine.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dare to Not Compare

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog entry - Accepting Defeat or Rethinking Perceptions? - about my feelings toward the seemingly slow progress that my youngest son makes. Actually, it's not seemingly slow, it is slow but it's progress nonetheless. Even with the progress, I still catch myself comparing him to other 9-year-olds. I still visit Fantasyland and imagine what he would be like if he were a typical boy.

But he's not a typical boy. First, he is legally blind and must use a cane. That's the most obvious thing that sets him apart from others. Next, he doesn't talk. He uses an iPod Touch with the SoundingBoard app to help him communicate. Because he is blind, he uses the Blue2 Bluetooth Switch to enable him to listen to the choices and then make a selection. Third, he is cognitively delayed so learning takes a bit longer. He is learning to help out around the house. Is this cool progress? YES!! Is it slow and cumbersome? Yes. Do I wish it wasn't so? Yes.

Comparing ourselves to others is a hopeless and futile exercise that generally leaves us feeling frustrated and inadequate. Yet, many of us do it anyway. Even worse, sometimes parents compare their kids to other kids. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that if comparing ourselves or our kids to others isn't a sin, then maybe it should be. Now that I think about it, maybe it is. Maybe we draw comparisons out of our envy or covetousness. Oooh, that's a good word - one that we don't hear too often anymore. Whatever the reason, it's counterproductive.

I can fret and wring my hands every single day over the fact that my youngest son can't do a whole list of things that most 9-year-olds can do; but at the end of each day, where does that leave me? Where does that leave him? By doing so, I miss the opportunity to enjoy the uniqueness of this little boy. Having a special needs child has really made me appreciate and look for the uniqueness of each person. Many of us are on a similar path: we reach our developmental milestones, go to school, go to college, get a job, etc. His path won't look like that. He didn't walk until he was 3. Some developmental milestones were never reached. And yet everything that he has accomplished has been nothing short of a miracle because it was never supposed to happen. Watching him everyday, I get to see the ordinary as extraordinary. What can I compare with that?

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sudo Apt-Get Install....What?!

Still in use
A few years ago, our computer died a slow, horrible, painful death. Painful to me, anyway. It wasn't so much the hardware as it was the software; the Windows operating system choked completely and all was lost. Thus began my interest in Linux and the world of free software. What is Linux you ask? I will let you follow the link to Wikipedia, but in a nutshell, Linux is a free operating system. That's right: free. As in no cost, free to distribute, and free to modify.

We ended up buying a laptop, but I was still determined to salvage what was left of our desktop computer, because gosh darn it it was still useful. I did some research and discovered a flavor of Linux (of which there are many) called Ubuntu, which was designed with the average desktop user in mind. I downloaded the Ubuntu OS and copied the files to a CD, thus creating an installation CD. I inserted the CD into the old computer and voila, it was able to read it. I'd be lying if I said that at the time Linux was just as easy as Windows. I think "easy" is a relative term. IMO, the reason why Windows is easy is because it's familiar. I had to be willing to peruse the geek forums and the Linux magazines to learn about this new operating system. I had to be willing to learn how to run the occasional command line, like

sudo apt-get install nameofprogram

My laptop - a sampling of programs
However, the reality is, I only run a command line when I want to fly my geek flag, and I am by no means a hardcore geek. I'm sure the true Linux aficionados would laugh at me. Thankfully, most everything is done through a pretty picture interface. :-)  Currently I'm dual-booting my laptop (are you impressed?) to run Windows 7 and Linux Mint.  Linux Mint is, for lack of a better description, a different fork of Ubuntu. It truly is easy to use "right out of the box" so to speak. You never have to run a command line if you don't want to. About the only time I use Windows is to watch Netflix movies. Seriously.

The best thing about using a Linux distribution - and perhaps the most overwhelming - is that it comes with a repository of free software. In Linux Mint, the office suite is LibreOffice; the default music player is Banshee; the web browser is Firefox. And you know what? If you don't like those, you can always check the software repository for a replacement. If you don't like Banshee, you could use Rhythmbox. You're not limited to what comes pre-installed. And best of all, it's all free.

So, if you have an old computer that's about ready to give up the ghost, you might try using a Linux distribution to breathe a little life back into it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Daytripping: Springtime in Lake Tahoe

Yesterday was one of those days where, from the moment I woke up, I just knew that we had to get out of the house. I heard Lake Tahoe calling my name; I followed that call and was rewarded with a beautiful day by the beautiful blue lake.

Even the drive to Lake Tahoe was beautiful. On either side of the freeway we were surrounded by pine trees and snow. Yes, there's still snow in them thar hills this time of year, even though this year spring is turning out to be surprisingly warm. We ended up at Commons Beach, which is basically a park attached to a strip of beach. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking it, especially since there are facilities there. I cannot overemphasize the need for easily accessible clean, honest-to-goodness-toilet-flushing facilities. Unlike when we go to the ocean where we have to haul our backside for what seems like a half a mile over hot, sandy beach at Stinson Beach; or we have to haul our backside back up the cliff to the parking lot at Bodega Bay. In either case, the "facilities" - and I use the term loosely - are little more than glorified outhouses. Oh sure, at least there's a place to park your butt, but there is no flushing involved.

Anyway, Lake Tahoe is not the ocean, but it's quickly becoming a family favorite. My youngest son is a total water bug, and after about 15 minutes of complaining he settled right in. (Fortunately, we packed extra clothes for him just in case.) My oldest son likes to wander off and look for rocks. He enjoys the chance to go off and explore, which is fine with me. With one kid happily playing in the water and the other kid happily exploring, it made for one relaxing day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yellow is the New Lavender

I am loving my new lavender...yellow lavender that is. I picked this up at a local nursery last year when we were redoing our front yard. I looooooooove purple lavender, but when I saw this I just knew I had to have it. It's called "Lemon Leigh".

I am not a green thumb gardener, so I need plants that are easy to care for. For the most part, lavender fits the bill. My only problem with most lavenders is that they look horrible when they are not in bloom. Not so with Lemon Leigh.  Before the flowers bloom, it kind of looks like rosemary especially from a distance. It held its rosemary-like color and shape throughout the winter and it's starting to bloom now. I hope the color lasts through the summer. So, if you like lavender and want something a little different, look for beautiful, yellow, Lemon Leigh lavender.

Monday, April 2, 2012

When in Rome... as the Romans do, but you'll still look like a tourist. 

Inside the Colosseum
So, I'm a week late in writing this post and I actually did mean to write it sooner. I've been busy this week with several things and I just didn't make the time to write this post. However, in answer to your question, "How was your trip?" (Since we brought our 12yo along I considered this to be a trip not a vacation. There is a difference.)

The answer is we had a great time. So did alot of other tourists. A couple of things threw a monkey wrench into our trip, but nothing too serious. First, we missed our connecting flight in Munich from DC because the plane was delayed for an hour and a half in DC. Something stupid, obviously. Luckily, we were able to catch the next flight to Rome from Munich, but we were almost two hours late from our original arrival time.

We had a chance to have a quick visit with some friends who live outside of Rome. Our friend played host and tour guide and took us to a small village (?) called Artena. I'm going to be lazy and let you follow the link to Wikipedia. I felt like I had been transported back to the Middle Ages.

Grocery shopping
On Monday afternoon, we said good-bye to our friends and headed into Rome. We stayed at the Auditorium di Mecenate, which was like a hotel on the third floor of an apartment building. Of course, I totally forgot that the 3rd floor in Europe would be considered the 4th floor by Americans because what Americans call the 1st floor is called  the Ground floor in Europe. There was a small, 100 year-old "lift", or "elevator" as we say in the States. One thing I realized was that when someone spoke English, it was usually the UK flavor. Anyway, we got settled in and after dinner in a restaurant, we quickly realized that restaurant dining for three was going to be expensive. We found a little market called SuperElite and bought our food there.

Tiber River
The second monkey wrench was that I discovered that a formal tour is not good for a 12yo with Asperger's and ADHD. Sure, you can say, "No s#!t, Sherlock", but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Lesson learned. I loved touring the inside of the Colosseum and our tour guide was very good. But, a structured tour was awful for my 12yo. The following day, I had scheduled to take a tour of the catacombs and crypts - I cancelled it. I know, I know, but I wanted to enjoy myself not grit my teeth and bear it. Instead, we decided to hit all of the tourist sites that we could: we took the Metro to the Spanish Steps, followed by a long walk to Trevi Fountain, near which we stopped for gelato at San Crispino's; afterwards, we walked to the Pantheon, then somehow made our way to the Tiber River where we walked across a couple of bridges. Finally, we walked back to our hotel. Seriously, keeping my 12yo moving was the key to happiness.

View from Cupola of St. Peter's
Our final day in Rome, was actually spent in the Vatican. We toured the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica. If you ever go there, my advice is: look down at the floor and look up at the ceiling; some of the best artwork can be found there. The Sistine Chapel was smaller than I thought it would be, but it was still beautiful. Breathtaking, in fact. St. Peter's Basilica was huge. (Anyone who complains about today's megachurches has never visited St. Peter's.) The amount of art in that church is overwhelming. It was very cool to see the Pieta in person. By far, the most thrilling thing about our visit to the Vatican was climbing up to the the cupola of St. Peter's Basilica. It was like climbing up a lighthouse. This part of our tour was totally spontaneous. On our way into the church, I saw a sign advertising tours of the cupola for 7 euros. Keeping this in the back of my mind, as we left the basilica, I mentioned this to my husband. Long story short, we decided "What the heck" and spent the money. Boy, were we glad we did. The view from the top of St. Peter's is astounding! Yes, even my 12yo made the climb.

I took way too many pictures and I wish I could share them all, but don't worry: I won't bore you with them. It was difficult picking out some of the highlights as there was so much to see. Here are just a few more:

Trevi Fountain
The Spanish Steps

Guarding the alleyway across from San Crispino's gelato

Spiral Stairs of the Vatican Museum
I guess Romans don't Diet

A picture of perfection

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Packing the Light Way

The last time we traveled to Europe and also to Hawaii, I brought a large suit case filled with clothes. I promised myself that I would not bring my entire closet when I went to Rome. It's not like I'm a fashionista - far, far from it. (I mean, really, I shop at Goodwill.) But, I do have a tendency to overdo things whether it's packing or cooking. Also, I really didn't want to deal with checking luggage. It's a hassle and it's expensive. The backpack and the purse that you see in the picture contain everything that I'm bringing to Rome. Let's have a look inside, shall we?

In the backpack I have:

3 pairs of pants
2 sweaters
3 long sleeve shirts
3 T-shirts
5 pairs of underwear
2 bras
1 pair of gloves
5 pairs of socks
2 camisoles (1 is for sleepware)
1 pair of workout pants (sleepware)
1 quart size bag containing travel size sundries
1 Bible
1 package of handy wipes
1 package of Kleenex
1 folder containing travel info
1 can of baking powder **
2 packages of cilantro seeds **

** Special requests from my friends in Italy.

I rolled up all of the pants, shirts, sweaters, and even the underwear. When clothing is rolled, it's easier to stack in layers inside the backpack.

In the purse - The Day Purse by Reign Vermont - I have my medication, flight and shuttle info, Altoids, gum, coin purse, cell phone, cell phone charger, and an adapter plug. Sorry, I didn't really want to take a picture of all that. :-)

You don't grow up in Northern California without the idea of dressing in layers being drilled into you. Anyway, my flight outfit consists of one pair of comfy, stretchy jeans, a black T-shirt, a long sleeve blouse, a sweater and of course, shoes. The one pair of shoes that you see is the only pair of shoes that I'm bringing. Since we are leaving on Saturday morning and arriving in Rome on Sunday morning (because of the time difference), then technically, this outfit will be used for 2 days. :-)  I'm hoping that it will still be OK to wear on the return flight home. So there you have it. No, I didn't leave alot of room for souvenirs because I'm not really a souvenir monger. I'll just have to find something that fits in my backpack...or my son's backpack. I hope to post some pictures when I get back. TTFN.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

10 Days and Counting

In 10 days, my oldest son and I leave for Rome...Italy, not Georgia. Although this isn't my first visit to Europe, it is my first visit to Rome and I'm very excited to do all of the tourist stuff. He's more excited about travelling on the plane and being out of school rather than visiting the actual destination. I take part of that back: he's excited about eating "real" Italian gelato. Seeing the Coliseum and the Sistine Chapel? Shrug. Who can blame him?

I've made my to-do list and it's surprisingly long. So, it's short and sweet today as I continue with my errands and work my way down the list.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

BFD - February '12

First off, I'm sorry to say that I don't have more pictures. Let's just say that while I was making dinner, there was a minor crisis that involved a cardboard box, a box knife, and my 12 year-old. Enough said. According to IHOP today was National Pancake Day. There is also an International Pancake Day, which was on February 21st. If you look at this site, it says that National Pancake Day is on September 26th. So, take your pick; either way, we had pancakes for dinner. Earlier this month, a friend sent me the link for what has become our favorite pancake recipe. For this month's BFD, we had:

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Yes, that's all we had. And yes, they really are that good. They are ooey and gooey and delicious just like cinnamon rolls. The recipe is very straightforward. You're supposed to put the cinnamon-brown sugar glaze in a pastry bag and pipe it onto the pancakes. Although I am handy with a pastry bag, I was not in the mood to haul it out and then clean it up afterwards. I just put the glaze in a measuring cup and drizzled it on the pancakes. And the cream cheese icing, you ask? Well, I didn't have cream cheese so I just made a plain butter cream icing, meaning I just used melted butter, powdered sugar, and a splash of milk to thin it out.

I'm thinking that the next time I make these, I might add some chopped apples or pecans to the pancake batter. I think that would be fabulous. Go ahead and give these a try. They really aren't alot of work and they would make a wonderful Sunday breakfast or anytime dinner.


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