Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”
 – Lee Greenwood

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Quiet Two-Headed Wrestler Who Hesitantly Helped

My world is small. But in reality, the world is really big and some days this truth can surprise you.
Take for example the commercial we shot this week. There I was with my sons next to an overheating car while my acting “husband” is ranting and raving over our spoiled trip. This actor husband, Barry Ratcliffe, brought along a friend, Al, to our shoot. Who has time to saddle up and watch a commercial being shot? I dunno. This kind, quiet fellow meant nothing to me other than he was that spare big body across the street with the camera crew. I asked him to (please) take photos while the kids and I basked in the glow of the camera lens. OK, it felt like a glow to us; it was a first. Al was hesitant to take my camera so I sarcastically showed him that it is easy.

“Click. Click. Ah, you can’t do click? C’mon. Click.”
He hesitantly agreed with a beautiful smile.

Fast forward ninety minutes. Al, my personal photographer, and most of the filming crew were out to lunch while we did our last shot of the happy family driving down the road with a car that is working Motor Silk perfect. While driving back and forth on the same road six times my “husband” and I had a chance to talk. He mentioned that his friend, Al Snow, is part of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). He is known for carrying a head around; it is his “thing.” Sort of like my unicycle, Blanche. Everyone needs “a thing” to call their own (but a head, really? REALLY?) See, in my small world the WWF does not exist. We don’t follow or know professional wrestling stars at our house. At least not until this week.
When we met up with the others for lunch at Snapper Jacks (seriously, that’s the name. Sounds like something from The Simpsons, I know), I sat across from Al. We talked religion, wrestling, drinking and drugs. He does neither of the latter two. A good influence for my young boys and I liked them to hear his spin on that part of life. We took some pictures (posted here) as he put them in what I assumed were “wrestling holds.” He shared that in professional wrestling the outcome is planned but the fighting is real, not staged at all. All this was discussed over shrimp tacos. Lunch was a fun experience with my ”hubby”, Mr. and Mrs. Motor Silk, and the filming and production people.
When my boys and I returned home we Googled Al Snow, curious who this quiet guy with the large arms and long black hair was.
Woah!
It was at this moment I realized that this world is REALLY big! Al snow is a wrestling giant! Who knew Al Snow is an action figure parked in the isles of Target and Toys R' Us? I laugh that we shared lunch together before he headed off (excuse the pun) to tussle and tear at large, shiny, muscled men’s body parts while thousands of fans applauded and cheered. He behaved so quiet and humble to be one of "those" beefy wild wrestling animals.

Stepping out of the comfort zone of my usual Wednesday VONS and laundry routine was exciting. I met a whole new genre of people and recalled that it really is a big world out there. But here is that same truth I always come back to. Everyone … whether a mom, professional wrestler, actor, third grader, movie maker, or large company owner … we all must keep The Balance. Harmony, peace and feeling satiated are gracefully delivered when our lives are as stable as they can be. I feel more balanced having stepped out of my routine and trying something new. In the process I met Al Snow, the quiet WWF dude who reminded me that this world is really big, but there is room enough for everybody. Even those with two heads.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My New Family. Take one.

Motor Silk. Have you ever heard of this oil-additive product for cars? Me neither…until a few days ago.

My girlfriend, Reagan (She and her two boys also have a part in the commercial), hooked us up with this production company and, BINGO! My boys and I stood road side with my casted “husband” Barry Ratcliffe, while our car overheated. Barry Ratcliffe plays the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz coming out soon and he is hilarious. To create an overheating car they hooked up a fog machine into the engine and it looked like we were having the worst family vacation ever. We should have use Motor Silk!

Next, my “husband” is throwing hundred dollar bills into the smoking engine while we stand slumped and frustrated by the car. Did you know that movie money has to be rented? The Secret Service is in on this and you can’t just print fake money for the movies. Both my boys were lucky enough to walk away with $100 bills that look like the real thing…except they say “For Motion Picture Use Only,” and “In Dog We Trust.” But still, to a nine year old, this is big and funny!

My favorite part? We were referred to as “the talent” all damn day! As in, “Have the talent do this,” or “Bring the talent over this way”. Let me clarify. I do not reek of natural talent, outside of cruising a unicycle and juggling homelife. So, to be titled this way (for three hours) left me feeling, well, great. Honestly, the true talent was Barry Ratcliffe who kept his phony “Motor Silk family” laughing the entire time. He knew what he was doing and believe me the three of us needed direction with film lingo and necessary over exaggeration. Not to mention, we took many “family photos”, as this guy has a new wife and kids every week for shows and commercials. He said he sends out a Christmas card with a different family every year. Hmmmm, maybe that will be us this December?
The next shot is of the four of us happily driving down the road after getting smart and using Motor Silk. After we were done shooting the production company graciously took everyone out to lunch. Plus, we received a small check for our time. Honestly, I could have paid them for the once-in-a-lifetime afternoon. I informed the casting director of my love of unicycle riding and that if they ever need a female unicycle rider, I’m their girl.
Do you believe that when God closes a door he opens a window? I think back to a couple months ago when I had my unicycle audition. Of course, I would have loved to win that part in the Vitamin Water commercial and cruise Eunice, my single wheeler. But no, I did not. However, something even better floated our way…a chance to do a national commercial, with the two little loves of my life. What a fun experience to share with my kids! Oh, and I met a friend of my “husband”, Al Snow, who is a WWF wrestler. He was there just to hang out with his buddy and watch the shoot. I recruited him to take these photos. I will write about him and his spare head, yes spare head, later because it requires a whole other post.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Total MisadventCHER

“If I Could Turn Back Time,” I would choose a different night to see Cher at Caesers’ Palace in Las Vegas. The quick twenty-four hour trip was loaded with fun and laughter, except for one small glitch. Cher cancelled her performance at show time …7:43PM to be exact! The four of us sat in shock, thinking it must be some kind of “Cher joke.” I thought, “What a tease! This must be how Cher opens all her performances.”

Um, no. Cher robbed the cheer from our long-planned, highly anticipated girls' trip. She was ill. Who hasn’t called in sick to work before? I get it, but still a bummer.

Don’t get me wrong, the entire trip was not a bust…the champagne on the plane ride up was a great start. Time by the pool was enjoyable. Dressing up and having dinner out with three beautiful girlfriends was filled with laughter, stories and calories. More fun. Losing at the blackjack table was even amusing because in the process I met folks from all over America (and the free drinks did not hurt either)! Sharing a calzone at midnight with one of my long-time best friend's Ayndrea and taking pictures with colorful Vegas folk? All good times.

However, Olga’s big dream to see her favorite performer live vanished, just like Cher’s original boobs and body. It made me sad to see my friend disappointed. This sweet Russian lady was reeeeeeally looking forward to the show. A true let-down. However, knowing the big-picture-of-life circumstances, this is not open-heart surgery (not even close) and we still had more fun in twenty-four hours than some moms do in year! Another plus? I have never traveled first class in a private jet, then hopped in a limousine ride to and from our hotel, and (despite the show canceling) had the best dam seats I will ever park my can in. So, you will not hear an iota of complaints out of me. And, it is not like I was lacking in the live entertainment department. I returned home to Daniel’s two hour piano recital where he nailed “That’s Amore” like a young Liberace. I was so proud of him. He did fantastic! The two-hour live kid show included real body parts and was more engaging than Cher at the Coliseum in Caesar’s Palace could ever be!





The only thing missing from this show were seventeen wardrobe changes, fourteen aerialists, belting out of songs, people popping out of stage floors, and vino.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Las Vegas AdventCHER

Attention all “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves!” Can you “Believe” that I am embarking on a quickie trip to Las Vegas to see Cher at Caesar's palace this Saturday night? “I Found Someone” who is a Cher fanatic and wants to see her live. I was happy to help out Olga, my friend from Russia, who is a sort of “Half Breed,” Southern California/Russian wife, mother and friend. She is the brains behind our twenty-four hour trip to Sin City.

“If I Could Turn Back Time” to 1975 on a Sunday night, you would find my family huddled in front of the bulky TV set watching Sonny and Cher in our bell bottoms and middle-parted long hair, singing “I Got You Babe” along with that groovy couple. And now thirty-five years later, “The Beat Goes On.”

This childless getaway is made possible by my amazing Techie prince who is filled with “Love and Understanding” for my need to sneak off with girlfriends. Without him taking over our home life, I could not get away and unwind.

“Afterall” the relaxing and spectacular Cher entertainment, my thoughts will be “Take Me Home,” as my son Daniel has a piano recital at 2:00pm Sunday afternoon that I absolutely will not miss. Daniel’s concert has a love theme and he is playing “That’s Amore.” I look forward to the live performances that fill my weekend. Be sure to read my concert reviews on Monday.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Inspired Design

On May 8, I attended my first ever Official Book Launch. It was a celebration of reaching the finish line in the marathon-long process to complete a book.

My friend Roxanne and her daughter, Hannah, wrote Inspired Design together. Talk about the ultimate mother-daughter project! I knew that Roxanne has a keen eye for design, but I learned that this design talent runs through her veins, as her grandfather was a world-renowned silversmith. Her Great-Grandpa, Porter Blanchard, founded the Arts and Crafts Society of Southern California, and Porter Blanchard’s father learned the silversmith trade from his father, a Colonial Revivalist. Can you tell that my favorite part was reading about her family history? I appreciated it because I love learning about other families’ roots and she does a beautiful job of tracing and sharing them with the reader.

Inspired Design’s strengths lie in the amazing photography of homes, or more like palaces, that she designed. These spectacular photos make you want to hop right into the picture and ask for another cup of tea. Despite the grandness of the homes, I love her message that it does not matter the amount of money spent on creating your private nest, but the small loving touches that reflect your family. She knows the truth that this does not have to be expensive (but, boy it can be!). She is right and I love her point.

Her centerpieces make me want to buy fresh flowers and invest in hordes of candles. I agree with her that candles create the best mood and lighting. Throughout the book she shares the lessons learned from her mother on making a house a home and the importance of family tradition. She reveals a traditional family recipe for Rolly Pancakes, something that this Italiano had never ever heard of. Along the way she shares how to pamper your guests, be a gracious homemaker and wrap amazing gifts.

The book is laced with inspirational quotes that affirm the valuable warmth of the home and the beauty of friends, family and just being a woman. My favorite quote was by Henry David Thoreau, “The most I can do for my friends is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward.” It is true of where I stand in life, so it meant the most to me! Love your friends!

If you are a woman, mother, or daughter who loves interior design and family, then you will enjoy her suggestions and advice on how to create a hospitable, friendly home that reflects love and fabulous style … all at the same time! Plus you can’t beat reading her sixteen year-old daughter Hannah’s point of view throughout the book. The best part? She is donating 100% of all the proceeds from the sale of this book to Heart of Hope and other selected charities. If Inspired Design sounds like something you would like to cuddle up on the couch and enjoy, visit her website, http://www.inspireddesignpublications.com/ .

Nice work, Roxanne and Hannah!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Old Tyme Birthday


Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor was a one-of-a-kind, sugar-filled palace that I yearned to visit as often as I could convince my parents to drive me thirty miles to The Valley (not an easy task) in Los Angeles. The first Farrells opened in 1963 in Portland, Oregon. By 1971 there were 130 restaurants nationwide. The bright red velveteen lined walls and black-and-white checked floors begged the Barber Shop Quartet singer in every child to step back in time one-hundred years to celebrate a special event or have a yummy dinner of hot dogs and French fries. Face it, we were there for the ice cream and candy. Where else could you listen to an old-fashioned player piano while eating an ice cream sundae?

Growing up in the 70s this was the place to celebrate your birthday. Nowadays, that big rat Chuck E. Cheese has moved into that coveted spot. At Farrell’s, we would order from a turn-of-the-century style newspaper menu and my hot dog always came with a huge pickle on the side. For dessert? We ordered The Zoo on my tenth birthday. It was delivered to our table by two young men who ran around balancing a huge bowl of ice cream on a gurney-style platform with garter belts on their upper arms, pin-striped vests, old-fashioned ties and cane hats wrapped in red, white and blue. I can imagine these gents belting out “My dog has fleas” seven different ways … but at the time they were delivering what most kids wanted, the huge Zoo ice cream sundae that could serve fifteen people. This delivery show happened while I was standing on a chair, dressed in my pink gingham Easter dress (plenty of petticoats included) with a funky Styrofoam hat on my ten-year old head. All eyes were on me as the siren started to scream. This piercing “stop what you are doing and notice the birthday girl” siren rang out and everybody dropped their forks as the Zoo was paraded around the restaurant on two workers’ shoulders, then touching down at my birthday table filled with friends and family. Then everyone in the restaurant sang Happy Birthday.
Next, the Zoo was scooped up and served. It was a Willy Wonka golden-ticket moment because all the kids wanted to be served the tiny plastic giraffe or elephant or any number of circus animals that were hiding among the chocolate and caramel, whipped topping or four different ice cream flavors. My big sister’s favorite sundae was called a Pig’s Trough which was two banana splits and served in, what else, a pig’s trough. We loved to share that!


At the end of the party we visited the candy store stocked with huge colorful suckers, ginormous jaw breakers and miles of candy dots (another 70s Willy Wonka moment). We stormed this candy heaven and I picked, out black licorice, gumballs, taffy or whatever sugar version I wanted. It was so hard to make that final sweet decision (dentists must have loved this place because of all the job security Farrell’s provided).

A sad part of revisiting this pleasant memory is that today, most kids can’t imagine a good time without a screen, or battery operated toy. No longer does a colorful foot-wide sucker win kids over. Arcades, Chuck E. Cheese and Lazerstar have pushed Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor off the celebration map. I looked into it and only four Farrell’s still remain open, and two of them are in Hawaii. Regardless, on the map of my kid heart is tattooed the fun times of this place where "old tyme memories for a new generation" were made.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's a Thinker

I found the following short story to be a Thinker, you know what I mean? It stayed with me for days and it left me sad  long after reading it. I received it through email, but I do not know who the original author is. I wish I did! It was so thought provoking that I will share it with you...

There was A blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, 'If I could only see the world, I will marry you.'

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.

He asked her, 'Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?'

The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn't expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.

Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: 'Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.'

This is how the human brain often works - when our status changes, only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.

My Note: It is so sad, but sometimes true! I don't want behave like the once blind girl, ever!   I think humaness gets in the way when big successes and positive changes happen. A huge conscious effort must be made to NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM. I have not gone anywhere BIG (yet), but if and when I do, I want  to avoid acting like the girl who forgot who she really was inside and remember those who loved me when I was broken, regular Unicyclerose....
Life Is a Gift!
Today before you say an unkind word - Think of someone who can't speak.
Before you complain about the taste of your food - Think of someone who has nothing to eat.
Before you complain about your husband or wife - Think of someone who's crying out to GOD for a companion.
Today before you complain about life - Think of someone who went too early to heaven..
And when you are tired and complain about your job - Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.
And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down - Put a smile on your face and think: you're alive and still around.
As my mother says, "Any day above ground is a good day!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Great Irish Encourager

When we moved from Glendale to Camarillo, California in 1976 it was to a cul-de-sac in a newly built housing track named Rancho Thomas. It was there that I met The Great Irish Encourager. Her name is Patty Taylor. Our parents became fast friends with the Taylors and before I knew it we called them Aunt Patty and Uncle Bob. We spent summer days playing with their daughter Robin and their older daughter, Tracy was our babysitter. We were close as family and that was fine with me. They were such warm, fun-loving people and I thought it cool that Aunt Patty played tennis, drove a BMW, loved the color purple and listened to the Bee Gees. Not to mention she always bought her two daughters the coolest chemindefer jeans.
When Lucas, my first son, was in the hospital she touched my heart deeper than anyone had in a long time. So many friends and family members sent cards when Lucas was diagnosed with heart problems. The amount of get-well wishes and prayers were overwhelming. I learned that when someone you love is really, really sick and it looks like they might not recover fully, life takes on a sort of awkward stance. Cards slow down, not because no one cares, but because they just don’t know what to say anymore… But, I have learned that sometimes nothing is the best thing to say and that sending a card is always a good idea. Patty, The Great Irish Encourager taught me this. She did not curb her outward hope or encouragement of Lucas’s healing that first year of his life. During this tough time I was living with my grandparents for six long months because they lived fifteen minutes from UCLA. A, dare I call it, "fun part" of my day was to return from UCLA to my grandparents home, where my Little Ma’s would leave my mail on the long dinner table with the white doily table cloth covered by the thick clear plastic (the same place that I ate greasy lamb chops and spaghetti weekly as a child was now the mail throne). At least three times a week sat a card from Patty. They were the mushy thick kind of cards that you buy from Hallmark that speak to you in just the right place at the perfect time. It was like Valentine’s Day every week! She included inspirational mini-cards inside that I still have. My favorite, I still carry in my wallet, by Helen Keller, says “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” When I returned weary from a sad day in the ICU, there were Patty’s cards. Over, and over this happened…for months! And it was not like she just signed her name. She loves words (like me) and was gushing over what a wonderful job I was doing with Lucas and how much she loved me and how God loved Baby Lucas… and on and on she went like a cheerleader dousing me in sweet encouraging words and loving support. I so appreciated her endless reaching out at a time that I wanted to curl up and die. She taught me a lesson about loving others through the pain and now I try to copy her example....  Know what else about Patty Taylor? Remember when I went on that unicycle audition a couple months ago? She said that I was gonna make it big! Okay, so I didn’t (not yet, but I collect hope, remember?), but knowing that she believed in me was uplifting. No, priceless. It is true that everyone needs to know someone believes in them (besides their Mother!). And who reads my blog and comments on it regularly? Patty.
 This woman has a busy life, health issues, many friends and a brood of beautiful, successful children and grandchildren, but she has never backed down in keeping hope alive in me. Dreams are free, right? She gets it. Interestingly, her young life was difficult, however a sort of fairy tale unfolded. She married her childhood sweetheart and they make the best match, because Bob, like Patty, is generous, down-to-Earth, God loving, humble, sincere and fun to be around. Patty is uniquely beautiful (even her feet), a devoted prayer warrior and a gifted writer. This lady is true to the bone and without her on my team I would surely droop..
Are you thinking, “UnicycleRose, why are you telling me this?”
The answer is that Patty Lu Taylor’s birthday is tomorrow,  May 13! I won’t say how old, cuz she will always be forty to me! Besides she looks nothing close to her age with her perfectly coifed hair and huge smile. Yes, my own Great Irish Encourager celebrates another year and I had to honor this amazing Wife, Mother, Nana and Friend with the truth that she is nothing short of awesome.
Cheers to You, PattyLu!


Thanks for the abundant love, truth and hope you share all year long! I love you!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother’s Day Cliff Notes

Oh, how I loved Cliff Notes in college! Those bright yellow and black paperbacks saved time and basically spelt out the entire book in shortened form making the story compact and understandable without having to read the entire classic. Being a mom for 13 years, I have countless memories of ups and downs that  have filled the chapters of My Life as a Mom Book. Here are the Cliff Notes.
First things first. In 1994, I married the love of my life who would eventually plant the seed, making it possible for me to be a Mom.
My first Mothers Day in 1997 was painful and depressing. I was unsure if I was going to celebrate a second Mother’s Day with my Baby Lucas, he was so sick and lived in a hospital for nine months, after two open-heart surgeries and many complications. He came home on a ventilator, eating out of a G-tube and a nurse lived with us sixteen hours a day.  By God's grace He was healed and my eyes had been opened to a whole new world!
 Then in 2000, Daniel blessed our family. Oh, to have a healthy baby and be a Mom who was able to rock, play, feed and cuddle him whenever. No tubes! No wires! No nurse! Oh, this is the best gift a Mother can be given: a healthy baby. Period.  
I admit it.  I may have been overenthusiastic in feeding my healthy baby, Daniel.
These two boys grew and grew and I found myself reliving the life of a kid all over again. But this time it was boy-style, with superheroes, spiders, trucks, trains and dirt. I realized how much I enjoy being a boy mom. Totally different than growing up with two sisters. A good difference.
Along the way, I was influenced by my Mom and Mother-in-law, who both provided excellent role models of how to raise amazing children (He!He!). My boys had Aunts and Uncles that loved them to death.



I basked in family love and support as these brothers celebrated milestones.
 
And,  although exhausted at times, each day was a gift and I knew it. I loved that we were all healthy and
together.
Of course, there were timesI needed Mommy Breaks. Once, we went to The Price Is Right! Bob Barker forgot to call me up on stage to start the bidding! It was still fun.
And, just about every year since Daniel was two, I steal away to Palm Springs or some other mental-recharging station with my pals. Cheers!
Mother's Days came and went.
Time was flying by and before I knew it, my baby started Kindergarten! Being a Mom was getting a little bit easier once diapers and binkys left the house. Lucas was in third grade, quite healthy, and full of personality and Daniel continued to be pure joy.
Thank God my folks live nearby and have been a part of the fun!
 I have never needed my Mom more! 
These little boys grew  and needed a Dad to show them the way. My Techie husband joined Indian Guides and again, I found respite when the boys went camping. Thanks God for giving me a fantastic Father for our children... I still look forward to those breaks and so do they!
 We started family traditions like our Halloween Dress up dinner, builiding Gingerbread Houses, going to Bass lake with the Hood Family and playing  Sorry, our favorite  game.
While on vacation in December 2007, our heater started a housefire and we could not move back in for nine months while our house was repaired. The entire roof was removed and the house rebuilt from the ceiling up! It was a time of struggle,  resilience and acknowledgeing that we are a family no matter what our address.
I did not love this housefire experience, but it was not near as difficult as Lucas' first year in the hospital, so I kept perspective. The bottom line? It was not open-heart surgery! Actually, we bonded over the chaos and were blessed by it in the end. I must note that it was during this time that my guys gave me a unicycle for my 40th birthday. It had been thirty years since I rode one! With a little practice, I was rolling right along and Unicycle Rose was back, keeping the balance.
Our family grew when we added the Weiner Sisters, Sara and Goldie. Our family finally felt complete.
In December 2008, we moved back home and  life continued on with sports, music lessons, swim days, homework, laundry, playdates, and housework along with my continued recognition that being together and healthy is everything!
Everywhere I looked, there was something to celebrate. Big or small, I didn't miss an opportunity to acknowledge God's goodness.
Like the sunflowers we planted, this family blossomed and being a Mom never felt better. I loved watching  these boys every inch of the way! They are hard workers in school and do their best to make the right choices. I think God has big plans for both of them!
When Daniel was in first grade, I went back to work part-time in fourth grade.  Even though I spend twenty hours a week there, my world still revolves around my boys and husband. Oh, and the spoiled Weiner Sisters who pretty much run the house.
That first year as a mom totally rocked my life....and the aftershocks are still occuring.  Now, my challenge is to keep balance at home, at work, in my heart, thoughts and deeds, and of course on Blanche, my uniclcye! Hey, everyone needs a hobby, right?
 
I heard that we never know the love of the parent until we become parents ourselves. I believe it!
...And they all lived happily ever after!
THE END
"It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding." Erma Bombeck
Happy Mother's Day!