Monday, March 9, 2015

Best Gift Ever

Many posts have been written and not published. Does it take everyone a long time to fine tune their writing? This post just can't sit and collect dust because I print my blog into a book and it's imperative that I announce the arrival of my niece, Eva Marie. 
 ...at least for posterity's sake :)
She arrived last Thursday, but I didn't get to formally meet this angel until yesterday. I held all 7.4 pounds of her and she felt so light and tiny.  Especially after I'd been luggin 15 pounds of wiener-dog-like-bricks around our place. She was like holding a fluffy pink cream puff that emitted new-baby-smell. Soooo different than her four-year-old-non-stop brother, Benson, and The Wiener Sisters!
Her Italian is showing "Whats a-matta-you?"
Eva Marie is perfect, sweet and beautiful, but most importantly healthy!
 Yes, healthy! 
We sat around Cutie-pie's house for eight hours, playing the game "It's my turn to hold the Baby." Adding a baby girl to our family is an answer to prayer and a natural high. Win-win!
Cream Puff laying on my chest
She really is more like a gift, yes a gift! 
Literally.
 My birthday is today and all I can think about is holding her again.
 Best gift ever!
Overlooking the Pacific Coast Highway - gorgeous weather!
Enough baby talk (for now). Friday was a school holiday so we took a long hike. My shins are still sore! Perhaps, I will remember to stretch next time? Duh!

Saturday was Daniel's final CYBA game. It's so exciting that his team will be playing for first place in a championship game this Saturday. At the same time, its a disappointment that he will not be there, as he leaves for his 8th Grade Washington, DC trip on Friday. Oh, the life of a fourteen year old! I think I will  attend and cheer those Wild Cats on!
In the six years playing in this league, his team has never placed first. I don't want to miss it, or miss (hopefully) collecting a big-momma trophy for him!
Dad and Me at my birthday party :)
 Saturday night we celebrated my 47th birthday early. It's a blessing to grow older and remain healthy, don't get me wrong ... but 47 sounds so old! Inside my heart and mind, I feel more like 30. Fifty is a-knockin in just three short years! Time zings on by and I do my best to remember that everyday together is a gift. Just like Eva Marie. A gift. 
Making my yearly wish
It's always fun to gather with  friends and family, play games and eat cake. A birthday is just an excuse to connect! I wonder what this new year of Unicycle Rose will bring? Besides a niece, of course....
Special thanks to Cutie-Pie and Dave, and a shout-out to God who masterminded procreation in us. Their finest work is the miraculous creation of my one-and-only-niece.
Best gift ever! 
Happy Birthday to me :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Amazing California Winters

Last week I picked up Daniel from school and we headed straight up the coast. Arriving at his favorite surf spot, my car thermometer registered 84 degrees outside. Yes, 84!
It was gorgeous out and so clear you could almost touch the Channel Islands that were miles from shore. I settled into my sandy spot while Daniel headed out to ride the waves. I shlumped, realizing I left my phone in the car and debated climbing the rocks back up to the street, walk down the road and retrieve it. I decided not to. Instead, I soaked up my surroundings.
 Standing at the shore I met a woman with two small children from Canada. She arrived in Southern California on Christmas Eve and was staying here to escape the freezing Canadian winter. She mentioned it was negative thirty degrees in her hometown! 
Yikes ... NEGATIVE THIRTY! 
Tanned, wearing her board shorts, baby slung on her hips, she sighed and said "California has amazing winters."  
Why ... yes we do! 
Perhaps I don't always appreciate that. I miss me some chilly weather that requires heavy coats, umbrellas and mittens. While the northeastern half of the USA is frozen solid, with record breaking snowfall, out  west it felt like July. 
As I snapped photos of Daniel catching long wave rides on "The Pickle" (his green surfboard) I looked around at the beach life around me while remembering the images on the nightly news with cities covered in white with closed subways, snow days for schools and bundled up folks shoveling snow in frigid cold.  Lately, every night I watch the news, I am thankful I don't live with snowstorms ... especially one after another, after another. I stepped forward and wet my feet in what I considered the "freezing" Pacific Ocean. 
I looked around as I thought about this blessed California winter. 
The little kids on the beach were not in snowsuits, but wet suits as they jumped in the waves swinging around ropes of seaweed. There weren't husky dogs prodding away in the snow, or birds gliding though the cold air. 
No, this California winter day hosted seagulls poking around on the shore and a  labradoodle down the beach digging in wet sand.The little ones to my left were not building snow men, but sand castles and there weren't any snow boots, only bare feet dancing on the sand. 
All the while, out in the ocean, Daniel surfed "sledding" down the waves under warm sunny skies.
Appreciating the life around me, I sighed and agreed with the Canadian lady I'd met earlier, 
"Yes, California has amazing winters."

Monday, February 16, 2015

HVD (Belated)

Happy Belated Valentine's Day (HVD)!
Long weekends are always a treat! 
On Friday, I was showered with many thoughtful gifts from students, including EIGHT boxes of chocolate! Then, after lunch we we headed up to Pine Mountain for some rest and relaxation.
I love my thoughtful fourth graders!
It smelled so piney-fresh in the mountains. Unfortunately, there was no snow, but it was verrry cold at night. So, that is all we got ... chilly noses and brisk hikes. Snow or not, it's nice to leave the routine behind and enjoy a change of scenery.
A highlight is that the cabin we rent is part of the Pine Mountain Club so we walk there and enjoy their air hockey, ping pong and family friendly amenities. On VD we headed out for pizza and returned home to play a new dice game and Heads Up! 
Teckie was thoughtful and gave me a mushy card (I love words) .....what else? 
Ya, a big-chocolate-filled-heart. So! Make that NINE boxes received! It's an all time record! Good thing I enjoy chocolate (but not as much as I love sharing it!) 
Did I mention that Lucas did not join us this weekend? He has his own life and, as happy as I am for him, I get nervous leaving him behind. However, he will be eighteen next month!  I better get used to his adult-like-independence and continue praying ALOT!
Another highlight? Andre brought his banjo and Teckie his guitar, so there was an amazing music portion on this VD weekend. There always is when we hang out with this talented family. A banjo is such a cool sounding instrument and I can't help but think of dueling banjos, Steve Martin or Hee Haw! 
LOVE IT!
 I sure wish I was musically inclined, but I am not. I took piano lessons for a couple years right after we were married. It was difficult to learn as an adult but it was a goal I set. As soon as I played Christmas carols and everyone sang along with sheet music, my goal was complete. CHECK!
What a great memory! 
However, there was nothing natural about reading/playing music. I will DEFINITELY stick with the unicycle :)
Nothing like freshly bathed dogs! Am I right?
WOOF!
Now we are back home, enjoying what is left of this President's holiday. Unpacking, laundry and bathing The Wiener Sisters have kept me busy and now I'm happy to blog. Not looking forward to work tomorrow, it's soooo nice to know a short-work-week lies ahead, with multiple boxes of chocolate to fuel it. 
Here's hoping your VD weekend was a cozy, relaxing one accented with love, warm memories and excessive sweet treats!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Prince Superhero Benson

Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero. ~ Marc Brown
The Sprinkle gave us an opportunity to crown Benson as the Official Big Brother. He perched on a chair and was recognized for the upcoming earthquake about to rock his four-year-old world; a little sister!  There was a gift ready for him, but to our surprise, thoughtful friends brought him presents too. It was a mini-birthday situation for this paper-crowned-confused kid. He leaned into his mom and asked "Why did they pick me?" HA!
Bewildered, with a sea of women watching, he happily opened the gifts, then headed to watch Daniel play basketball. Benson doesn't realize what is about to collide with his life. How can he? He is four! When Daniel came along, Lucas who was 31/2 at the time, did not like his brother stealing any of the attention. More than once, I had to tell him to move away from the camera so I could get a picture of Little Daniel sitting in his shadow. That first kid can be such an attention-hog! Now, it's Benson's turn to learn what many older siblings before him have .. IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU! 
Funkle Lui tosses Benson around while he gets lost in a fit of laughter.
My prediction?  He won't love that life lesson, no kid does. I also presume that the funkles and adoring aunties will pick up the doting-love-slack while his exhausted mother cares for an infant. Everyone in our clan wants to hang out with this super-charged-non-stop-sports-loving-hilarious-fit-throwing-curious-darling-little boy.
It might be rough in the beginning to adjust, but through the years he will become a superhero to his little sister, and that sweet ego boost will last a lifetime :)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sprinkle Saturday and More

The Sprinkle went on without a glitch! Even the rain was perfectly timed. Most importantly Cutie-Pie said she had the BEST DAY EVER (That makes me think of Spongebob's song "The Best Day Ever" -- hilarious tune!).
  Where was I?
Saturday was a mix of the most amazing women in her life, coming together with extreme joy over this Baby Girl.
Our Cousin from Hawaii was in town. So happy she could join us before she headed to the Grammy's today.  Miss Piggy worked the kitchen serving up her goat cheese, artichoke and smoked ham strata. That was delicious! We agreed that she should have made more as everyone LOVED the stuff. There was little to no seconds :( 
Copying her recipe during the party, we were able to pass on her recipe to guests like an unexpected party favor. 
I wish I had photos of the games we played. But, we were busy running the show. Everyone was totally into it, pretending to be contestants, running down the isle and "hi-fiving." I cracked up. It was a game that everyone had a chance to play. Plus, there were many winners. What's not to like?
Overboard was such a HUGE help to Miss Piggy and me  in pulling together all the details of this Sprinkle. She made her signature Goliath fruit salad, and well, you saw her flower creations in my last post. It really does take a village ...
Before we chowed, we gathered in a big circle and prayed for this new life arriving soon. It must have been a good-enough prayer, as it left Cutie-Pie in tears. Or, her hormones were flaring up? Lord knows her olfactory senses (see previous post) are heightened in this pregnancy... emotions probably are too? It really was a touching personal prayer. Perhaps it's true that God always gives us the right words when we ask!
The mound of gifts were filled with all things pink. Mostly clothes that were off-the-charts adorbs. She received lots of diapers, blankets, binkies and booties. This little lady won't need a thing for at least six months.
 Toward the end of gifts we served dessert. Miss Piggy made a strawberry cake from scratch that was so delicious. Confession: I had two pieces. Yes, it was a "big eatin" day for me. Must get lots of exercise this coming week as we ALSO ate lasagna in the evening and had a second round of cake. This time birthday cake in honor of some old friends who are totally worth all the calories. 
My men chillin....
Look how cute Goldie is on my dad's lap. She is such a LOVE! 
Oh, and we played a new dice game with friends and can you believe that I won the $50 jackpot? Jeez, I am on a roll this month! Perhaps I will pick up some lottery tickets while I am "in the zone!"
The Sprinkle and Birthday dinner made for a ginormous day of celebrating and I admit I was exhausted by the end. 
As it should be, Sunday was a day of rest. We kicked up our feet like this bunny on this cute diaper cake that was a gift for baby. All day today, Teckie and I were happy to sit around and loaf. It was a fantastic weekend, one that we will never forget ... but don't think I could physically repeat anytime soon :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Flowers, Surf and Other Non-Scents

Check out Overboard's flower arrangements for the Sprinkle tomorrow!
 We don't call her Overboard for nothing! 
She is in charge of flower arrangements because it's one of her many "things." After she delivered these beauties it felt like this modest Sprinkle was parlaying into a wedding! They are lovely! 
Some anxiety creep-ed in this afternoon over the details. Personally,  I like to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sister), not ironing table clothes and the such.... which I did NOT do.  That's what dryers are for, right? 
  It's been fun prepping ... setting up tables and borrowing chairs, wrapping and planning and cleaning the big stains from our rug (not fun). The place looks pretty good to me. Cutie Pie brought Benson over this afternoon to play. Once inside my casa the first thing she said was
 "Your house smells like poop!" 
NOT ...
"The flowers are lovely"
OR
"Your house looks so clean."
OR
"Looks great awesome-amazing-sister!"
 Only a sister could get away with this! LOL!
I noted to myself that aromatic candles will be burning tomorrow ...
Even though I smelled nada.  Just in case.
You know what they say ... Whoever ...
As for Daniel, he loved the beach yesterday, but there was not a wave in sight. It was like a lake and extremely low tide. Not what he hoped for. Such is life. He looked so cute in his wet suit trying to catch the baby waves.  I finished my book in the sand. Then, I laid on my back and gazed up at the clouds trying to make out animals or shapes. I did spot a cool dolphin cloud and then it swam into the sky. No time to photograph it :(
Now, off for some sleep, tomorrow is a big-momma day. Have I mentioned we are hosting a birthday dinner tomorrow night for Jan/Feb family and friend's birthdays? Yes, back-to-back celebrations. 
What's another pound on an elephant? 
We Italians are born with an innate festive desire to kick up one's heels, celebrate, and "mangia" (eat)  together for any reason.
 Life is short ... 
Until further notice, celebrate everything!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sprinkle Sprinkle!

This weekend calls for light showers! 
This is wonderful news as we are hosting a Sprinkle (small baby shower) for Cutie Pie. A sprinkle on a sprinkle ... could we plan any better than THAT? This is the week of tending to small details. I slapped together (literally) a poster for our featured game. It's FAR from perfect, but perfection is not what this is all about.  This is a celebration of a small pink life, due to arrive on March 6th, unless the bubble breaks early. Miss Piggy and I have devised an entire  Baby Shower Price Is Right game that should be entertaining for our eighteen contestants, oops, I mean "guests."
Yesterday,  I took a break from party prep to bake up a Hospice Supper Club Dinner for my 93 year-old friend. Yes, quiche again, but with store bought eggs. Man, I dig this old lady. We spent an hour chatting about the latest books she has read and we always share what is happening in our families. She has only seen her 6 month old great-granddaughter once. When I asked if she had a photo, she reminded me that she was blind! 
The one thing that doesn't meld with us is that she's Jewish and believes that once she dies, life is over! That's the end!  I am a Christian, and believe we are just passing through this crazy, broken world. That hope of eternal life  doesn't exist with her. It is interesting and depressing to me, but, I love her just the same :)
I hoped to take my unicycle for a spin today, but the demands of Sprinkle prep and Daniel are weighing on my mother's heart. His full wet suit arrived and he is hot to surf in the Pacific Ocean. So, lot's of Sprinkle errands are on the agenda until I park my can in the sand and enjoy God's beautiful California coast. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Unusual Start

February has delivered the most unusual start!
I am reading a Joel Osteen book and he stresses the importance of thinking positive thoughts. Waking up positive and expecting Gods favor is part of living your best life now. So when I put my ten bucks in the football pool, I said and thought I'd win. I repeated it with strange confidence "I am going to win!" 
And I Won! 
I wish it was that easy every time!
 Super Bowl Sunday was profitable, but what happened Monday was priceless. Part of my job at lunch duty is corralling kids, making sure they toss trash, that they don't run around and that is all I expected to do. When the kindergarten through third grade (K-3) had their lunch time, I was strolling around the lunch area.
 Silently observing.
Thinking about all the different little lives before my eyes.
  My peripheral vision caught a kid to my left with a bright red face. I started walking briskly towards four second grade boys sitting on the concrete. 
 Something was wrong. One boy was choking.
 Like, really choking.
 Hands flailing. 
No sound.
 At last! Years of First Aid/CPR training held purpose! I bent over him and did the Heimlich Maneuver. The scene felt plain wrong. I was punching this kid in the stomach, really hard, with his friends watching. After that first abdominal thrust, I could hear air moving through his throat. It was rattling, not cleared. I did it again...
He started crying which is a good sign because the obstruction, an orange slice,  was gone. He cried for a while and I held him. I explained to his friends that when this happens they should get adult help right away. They said, "We didn't know what he was doing. He wouldn't answer us." 
KIDS!
 I am thankful that God put me at that place and time. It feels good when He uses me to carry out his good works! All the praise and glory to Him!


Winning the football pool and saving a little life made for a most unusual start of  February! 
What will happen next?
 Fingers are crossed for more windfall and less First Aid :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Goodbye Chickens, Hellllo Blanche

Friday was my first day back to work and the highlight was correcting English worksheets. When fourth graders can's spell a word, we tell them to sound it out. Otherwise, we could spend all of class time being their spellcheck. The English lesson was about interrogative sentences. At the end, it asked them to write out two examples. I had glanced a "double-take" when I saw this one. 

Is the job sexesfol?
It took a minute to understand. 
Only a nine year old could dream that up .... Is the job successful? 

Also on Friday, I hopped on Blanche after six weeks of storing her in the grungy garage. We are reunited and it feels so good. I was able to do a bit over two miles in our neighborhood, only falling once. The best part is that folks were out and everyone comments. Usually, I engage them, but I was focused straight ahead, reminding myself to hold my shoulders back and sit straight up. I did four miles after work today and it didn't come easy, but I did it.
Blanche now returns to her seat of honor in our living room and away from the dusty garage with it's broken bike helmets, hiking boots and lacrosse sticks.
With all the chicken droppings, one has to wear shoes that are set aside just for the coop.
At last, I can toss the disgusting chicken shoes in the trash,.
Also, on Friday Teckie informed me that the chickens were checking out of their four-year-stay in our backyard. I put on my "chicken shoes" for the last time and headed to the coop to take final pictures and wish them good riddance.

Excuse me? You can't just kick us out! Let me talk to the manager....
 Teckie posted "five laying hens" on Craigslist and in less than an hour he had multiple takers. Who knew chickens were such a hot item? He was more than ready to unload the birds whom I hope will have a long life in another backyard and not piping hot out of some oven. Although Daniel shed a short tear, he was relieved to see that chores vanish. So, after I crack, whisk and scramble the last of the "farm-fresh-free-range-organic-eggs" it's back to adding them to my shopping list. 

Adios
I guess you can say that Friday was day of small changes. It was back to work and riding my unicycle, as well as writing the final chapter in our chicken book.
In other words ... Goodbye chickens and helllllo Blanche

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nada Mucho

Not much is happening over here. 
NADA MUCHO! 
I am still not working. I tried it and complications got in the way. I am home and reading up a storm.... My favorite so far,  was a new release ...
"It Was Always Me" by Andie Mitchell. 
Her story appealed because having had an eating disorder in college, I connected with this memoir about her life as "the fat girl" who always struggled with food. Finally, after twenty binging/dieting years, she was successful in losing 130 pounds on her own. 
Her story is that she was chubby all her life and loved food. Who doesn't? She tried dieting, but finally decided that BIG is just the way she was. So, she kept on eating to 268 pound while but she developed her personality and intellect along the way. I don't want to spoil the story so I will put the brakes on. Her story  was a reminder how important BALANCE is in our eating habits and overall life.
So, here are some photos from the past weeks. Let's start with some good food (ironic, I know).
I tried out a new enchilada recipe. It has been over a month that I have intended to create these delicious babies, and finally I had a good reason to make enough to feed a small Mexican army. We carted them down to Hollywood to see Cutie-Pies new castle.
Old is the new "new"
It's gorgeous! Now they have a yard, garage, attic, basement and soon a new baby will be added.  It's really exciting for them (and this auntie too!) Their new home is beautiful and classic, located in an old Hollywood suburb. This remodeled casa is eighty-eight years old! It reeks of L.A. history and is "adorbs" if that is a real word. 
My guys loved the basement and  finished attic!
After the "tour" and enchiladas, all the guys headed to Bronson Canyon Park that is right up their street.
 Once there, they hiked  up to "The Batcave" from the original Batman movie in 1960's. I remember watching the batmobile roar out of this cave with Robin in the passenger seat. 

 There are many  awesome hiking trails in their nearby canyon/mountains. I can't wait to explore them.
Besides reading, hanging with family and trying a new enchilada recipe with high calorie "secret sauce", I have been attending many-a-basket ball game. Daniel's school team is undefeated and loving it. 
Undefeated and  it feels so good :)
His local city team, The Wildcats, are doing super with a current 2-1 record. Although, Daniel missed the game today due to being sick... yes, it's flu season. 
As for Lucas? He is in full-blown-college-scholarship mode. He has been accepted to two colleges and we are excited for him, hoping that scholarships will arrive on their magic carpets.
 Or, that he will get the commercial that he is auditioning for on Monday.
 Remember .... Dreams are free, right?
If those hopes don't come a'knockin - that's okay.
 What I covet is that we are together and healthy...
 Doing our best to Keep the Balance.

 In the big picture of life, love, God, health and togetherness are number one... that is the TRUTH :)
I like truth.
 And balance.
And enchiladas. 
And peace.
And basketball, for now.