Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chester and The Metal Detector


Chester: The dog that never was
Awaking last week, I had a “whim,” (that is what my husband called it), to get a Christmas puppy. You see, one of our two dachshunds Goldie, licks everybody. She is stuck in a constant, neurotic state of licking us like a tootsie pop. My solution?  If she had a puppy to care for and obsessively lick, this would be the perfect gift for everybody! A pet for our pet!  Besides, who can resist a puppy with their saucer eyes, floppy ears and drunk-gallop?
Drinking coffee while perusing the paper in bed with my kids and dogs, we found a litter of two male mini-dachshunds, 9-weeks-old.  I announced that we would go check out the pups that day. I was feeling excited and determined, and maybe manic about having a sweet puppy around. I did some puppy research to educate myself while my husband remained calm about my “whim.”  He asked how we would pay for it. Um, hmmmm  (Sidenote:  I would never buy a dog without his final blessing. That’s called an irreconcilable difference).
Later that morning we met the pups. Of course, we wanted one, but explained to the owner that we had to convince the main breadwinner. Driving home, we named our puppy Chester because everything on the puppy was Chestnut colored; fur, eyes, nails, nose, and tail. Darling chestnut Chester, our little fur ball.
When we returned, I took a long unicycle ride to chew on these thoughts like a bad puppy gnawing on a new shoe. The voice of reason slipped in with each push of the pedal. I felt torn. It was at this point the caffeine started to wear off as I did the math on the cost of shots, crate, puppy chow and loss of sleep.
We did not buy Chester. God’s provision shined through as I thanked Him for my anchor, my husband. He knows my impulsive self better than anyone and was gentle and wise to let my whim play out. Where I’m  whimsical and off-kilter, he is steady and balanced!  We talked it though and agreed we were open to another dog, but not Chester. There were signs of poor breeding (well-bred dachshunds have black noses).
This Christmas whim made for a fun vacation day and reminded me of why I married my teckie-doting husband. Do you know what he got for Christmas? A metal detector.  His was not a whimsical purchase, but researched and well-thought out. That’s an engineer for ya! He brought it hiking/rock climbing this week and so far he has uncovered a  whopping total of fifty cents! So, not only is he my stable voice of reason, but we love and enjoy the unusual entertainment he brings to family life.  I mean really, aren’t metal detectors for retired men with black socks to walk on the beach with? More on that later…
For now, Happy New Year's Eve everybody. Be safe out there tonight!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Happenings

It’s overwhelming the amount of holiday happenings to share. Me thinks it a great idea to write it (a pinch here and there) just to have it archived; like a family library and I am the Head Librarian. Remember that Father Timothy Healy, former President of the New York Public Library said, "The most important asset of any library goes home at night -- the library staff."

That’s me! Marian the Librarian from The Music Man.

Uh hum, I digress.

But really, one day when I’m a deaf-wrinkled-old bag and have lost my wits, this will help to recall the details of Christmas 2011. Like a puzzle being carefully placed together one piece at a time, I can summon up how I spent  two weeks away from Fourth Grade, with my family, particularly my dear husband who took the entire month off . Here I must note that the month of December is longer than I recall.
Hands down, the best part of this season is family, friends and good health. As long as those factors are in place then everything else is gravy; especially with all the illness surrounding us … hospitalizations, cancer, pneumonia. Some friends were so sick on Christmas morning with the stomach flu that they postponed opening gifts until the day after! That stinks!  Therefore, the gift of good health was glaring at me every day and kept my perspective on God’s provision.

There are basics traditions that are part of our Christmas and each one seems to magnify God’s goodness. Like walking the hood with our neighbors to check out lights and sip cocoa along the way. This makes me appreciate having a heated home, warm bed and neighbors that are friends too. Thank you Baby Jesus!  Those two young blonde cuties get along great with our kids, making videos and playing hide-and-seek in the dark.  After spending that evening together, I had a great idea! My plan is that we will have a WIFE SWAP in 2012. This way I can live with darling little girls for the week and Whitney can try out an “all boy” home – God help her. The only challenge is convincing my husband what a fun adventure it would be. It’s a work in progress.

I did squeeze a four-mile unicycle ride in and this was my first in months. I am in no shape to hop on Blanche and go that far, well, mentally yes, but my inner thighs beg to differ.  However, it was excellent thinking time and that is what I needed because a third dog was possibly moving in and I had to work out the insane reality of that grand-canine commitment. More on that next post … WOOF! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Balance Tip O' The Week

Don't put the keys to your
happiness in someone else's pocket

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Santabuse

Have you witnessed Santabuse? By my defintion this is physical or psychological mistreatment of Santa Claus during the Christmas season. Let me give you the backstory on what led up to the "roughing up" of Old St. Nick.
My Italian Clan gathers for an annual Christmas party and it’s a wonderful piece of our Christmas tradition. The Crosetti Christmas Parties have always included the same basic ingredients:
    Italian dinner:  This year it was Paella, an Italian seafood and rice dish. In the past, it’s been Lasagna, Polenta or any meal that is high carb and teams up with wine. BTW, when you are Italian there is no food group that does not team up with wine.

     Reindeer Games:  This year we played Pictionary (Boys Vs. Girls, guess who won?) and Christmas Bingo at Cousin Maria’s house. Then we busted out bells to jingle while belting out the same old Christmas carols. Other years we reenacted the Nativity scene. Note that many children are needed to pull the Nativity off and a minimum of one baby Jesus. This was not that year.
       
        A Gift Exchange: This has changed with time and this year we kept it simple.Bringing a gift insured you a trip to Santa’s Lap.
       
    Santa Claus: The party peaks when Santa shows up, especially when little ones are involved.
The Red Suit is usually donned by a family member or male friend and this has been going on for decades. As a child, I believed that it was the real Santa Claus. This awesome night led up to that big moment when you would hear bells jangling and Santa would appear hollering,”Ho! Ho! Ho!”  This year, Cousin Mike played Santa. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, when I was a small elf, The Dads would take turns wearing the suit. There was a time when Cousin Mike sat on Santa’s lap, proclaimed he was a good kid all year, and then received a gift. Back then even he believed "Crosetti Christmas Party Santa" was the real deal, and (fast-forward forty years) it’s his turn to stuff a pillow in his chest and create magic for the little ones.
... And THIS is where Santabuse peeps in: My Dad and Uncle love the sequence of events that are repeated again and again, year after year that led Cousin Mike from once sitting on their Santa knee to these old dudes plopping down like a ton of bricks on his knee.  Ahhh, the Circle of Life!  What a blessed moment to witness family Santabuse. My Dad displayed "reverse planking" on Santa with the grace of Nadia Comaneci. And, if that wasn't enough for Cousin Mike's knee? Uncle Richard heartedly parked his can and deep laughter on Santa with the density and weight of Aunt Jo's fruitcake! Yes, that heavy!

It was wonderfully hilarious and won’t easily be forgotten, no matter how hard I try.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Heat Miser

Remember the 1974 Christmas special called “The Year without Santa Claus?” I certainly do. I’ll never forget the Heat Miser and the Freeze Miser characters that were born from this Rankin/Bass television show. Every December I remember the catchy piano tune that the Heat miser sang, 

“I’m Mr. Green Christmas, I'm Mr. Sun. I’m Mister Heat Blister, I’m Mister 101. They call me Heat Miser whatever I touch, starts to melt in my clutch. I’m too much.”

This year the Heat Miser came alive in our home. Really!  At school, Lucas was in the theatre production of “Beauty and the Beast,” and casted as Fire. Yes,  Fire! Think Heat Miser;  although he did not sing, he danced and every flicker of the way  he looked convincingly fire-like. He even looked hot!

I admit that Beauty and the Beast does not scream Christmas, but because my thespian was cast as the Heat Miser, it all came together to create a lasting Christmas memory!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Snowball Effect

The Snowball effect is the common analogy of the rolling of a small ball of snow down a snow-covered hillside. As it rolls, the ball will pick up more snow, gaining more mass and surface area, and picking up even more snow and momentum as it rolls along.

The snowball of not  blogging has rolled away and grown larger with each passing day.  One week slid into one month and as time marched on, my drive and ability to sit down faded because it felt like so much was happening, that to catch up would feel like climbing Mt. Everest.  “Imposorous!” as Dr. Suess would say. It's stupid  to feel buried in snowball when there is nothing to be defeated over. I am not a writer under great pressure, nor must I write so I can eat. Although, ironically, I am writer who likes to eat,  but that is totally different.
Since I stopped training for the unicycle half-marathon, I pooped out. I realize my creativity is fed and watered while riding my unicycle. Really, it’s great thinking time and I miss it! So this ginormous mental snowball must begin melting so I can get back into my groove. Just like Stella!

Much of this snowball is musical. These past months I immersed myself chaperoning the regiment band with my freshman son. There was Pep Band for away football games in a “Twinkie.” That’s what the band parents call the school bus. Also, performing at home games and, Saturday competitions, hours away in a Twinkie. These experiences introduced me to a new  subculture in high school. I was a cheerleader, so that tossed me in Jock culture. Jock culture is remarkably different from Band culture (this is a whole other blog post). Lucas's band commitment was demanding of time and energy, it fueled friendships, improved musical skills and with the band season (finally) over, my little drummer boy decided he wants to do it again next year.  Last week was his Winter Holiday concert and he looked  handsome in his tuxedo that we had to rent for the year. This was a wise requirement from the Music Department because (for some puzzling reason) formal clothes make the music sound better. Go figure.
The growing snowball has contained lots of camouflage and air soft  battles sponsored by my younger son in the local ditch. This kid loves all things military, army, aviation and weapons related. At eleven, his favorite channels are the History and Military Channel. No kidding.  As much as he wants to be a soldier, I remind him that he is so very smart and that Annapolis or the Air Force Academy would be a better fit for him. Aim high, right?

This growing mental snowball also contains special family time, such as Arizona turkey. That is what I name our Thanksgiving trip to see family in Phoenix. A long car ride, but totally worth it because my sister-in-law is an awesome cook. Stopping at a truck stop in the desert, I found the perfect Christmas gift for my friends with an off-balance sense of humor such as mine. I regret not buying this little (?) Indian. While in Arizona we spent time with Lucas's friend from heart camp. He loved that! Lucas is preparing to speak at a Camp Del Corazon fundraiser in Santa Barbara next month. Very exciting!
Last week my husband and I took our first yoga class together. He has the entire month of December off to burn up his vacation time, less he “lose it” and forfeit it back to Obama. Stretching is one of my favorite things to do and I enjoyed it, despite sore hips the next day.  Today I am going to join the studio (Merry Christmas to me!). What better way to improve balance and focus? Especially since Blanche has temporarily retired to the garage for the winter, (she's usually parked in my living room begging to go out for fresh air.)

A good part of this snowball  is my discipleship group. I love the depth and commitment that this study contains. Even though there’s much homework; it’s spiritually fulfilling. A few weeks ago, we studied the Holy Spirit, AKA: The Holy Ghost (in the Catholic world I grew up in). Just a side note here … that term spooked me as a kid. Holy. Ghost. Isn't that an oxymoron? Am I right? Anyways, we all have the power of this “helper” God gave us and I decided to connect spiritually and tap into it.  I have been on this “By the power of the Holy Spirit I can … (fill in the blank) kick” and it has been a good thing. Nice to know that God cared enough to send me a helper, because I definitely need it!
Other parts of my snowball are prayers and positive energy that has flowed to my friend with breast cancer. We started a meal chain at the end of November after her double mastectomy and they are slated to receive meals through the beginning of February 2012! It required coordinating and organizing, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, I did it. Helping feels good and her cancer reminds me of the upside of any medical crises; it draws close friends closer. That’s a blessing.
And, alas, there is Christmas. The anniversary of Baby Jesus’ birth that is shrouded is gingerbread houses, tree trimming, wrapping (Yo- yo Dawg, where has the year gone?), Christmas cards and cheer-filled festivities; just to name a few. I whipped Christmas cards out early so I can sit back and enjoy the season that is packed with joy and merriment. The Christmas traditions and honoring of our Lord who came to earth as a little human baby is the best time of year.
Whew! The snowball effect feels less intimidating after jotting down a few  of my thoughts. I didn't get to the Blue Man Group, hosting the Russians, Baby Benson or the awesome cookie exchange, but this was a start. I hope it will smack me back into balance!  Can I now move on with my life and get back in practice with clowning around on my keyboard?
TBD

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Balance Tip O' The Week

After the game,
the king and the pawn go into the same box.

Italian Proverb

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Carry Each Other

It’s Bono from the band U2 that was “spot on” when he sang, “We’ve got to carry each other, carry each other. One love.” 

I Wear Pink Because I Love My Friend T-ShirtMy girl friend of seventeen years is on the verge of a double mastectomy. Like, real soon. Feeling helpless to get her through the rough months ahead, I felt stumped how I could lend a hand. Yeah, providing meals is all good and needed, but I thought back to when my son was amidst a year hospital stay in the intensive care unit and I was a first-time mom trying to cope (Thank you Prozac), I needed more than a hot meal. Through hard times, I discovered God’s word and the hunger for hope that it satiated. The spiritual food that feeds the hurting soul is what I aspire to share with her.  But how?

Then, I decided to print up Bible verses that pulled me through living with a sick baby on a home ventilator, after two open-heart surgeries and extensive hospital stays. When my son was sick, God tucked me into a corner and poured out his Word to carry me through that awful time that felt like a never-ending-horrible-roller coaster ride.

I printed up Bible verses and words of encouragement to guide her through the storm that lies ahead.  (Some of my favorites? “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” F. D. Roosevelt.  And, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7). My disappointment was that when I went to print them, I only had pink card stock. I had envisioned yellow, blue and a rainbow of colors that would catch her attention as they hung throughout her home.  However, in my office there was only pink paper! I felt discouraged but knew it really didn’t matter what color I used.  I pressed on. Then, it came to me! YES! Pink is the THE color of Breast Cancer. I smiled as I realized that God was behind all this and He knows better than anyone that “We’ve got to carry each other, carry each other.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Balance Tip O’ the Week ~ Practice Tradition

Family traditions are things that families do together on a regular basis and I visualize these rituals build "family glue" that provides security while creating fun, positive memories.
We practice conventional traditions; turkey on Thanksgiving, prayer before meals, Christmas stockings and gingerbread houses, among other things. However, there is one goofy-family tradition that’s greatly anticipated and manufactures "silly-family glue" that we all benefit from. I am talking about our Annual Halloween Dress-Up Dinner. This tradition started when our sons were quite young and, like most little kids, they loved to dress up in costumes. All. The. Time. My husband and I decided to channel our inner child and join them. Since then, every year we eat a special dinner in costumes and play games together afterward.  Even though our sons are  older now, I realize that it’s more important than ever to observe family traditions (especially the silly ones).

Here are some reasons why:
1.      Family traditions create good feelings and special moments to remember.
2.      Family traditions give every member of the family a stronger sense of belonging.
3.      Family traditions help your child with their identity. Face it; it helps to know that you ‘belong’ when you are trying to figure out who you are. Isn’t that the main job of adolescence?
4.      Family traditions help parents instill the family’s values to their kids.
5.      Family traditions offer kids a sense of security. Knowing our children face many difficult issues, practicing traditions reinforces that your child has a family to turn to when dealing with the outside world.

Our Dress-Up Dinner is a tradition we look forward to every year and it's a kooky way to maintain good family balance in our busy family life. Oh, and if you are wondering what my husband dressed up as this year, join the club! He scrounged through the costume box, then strapped on his new Halloween prop; Humphrey the Humping Dog. He was a hilarious sight that won’t easily be forgotten, no matter how hard we try!

Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. Susan Lieberman 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Balance Tip O' the Week

A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
~Larry Elder
This Balance Tip is the truth!
But I will note that even when you have a plan, sometimes the goal wilts right before your eyes.  Yes, I am referring to the postponed half-marathon!  Thankfully, this is not the case for our Church’s Ladies Getaway. After months of planning our team of six is excited to bask in the fruits of our creative energy and hard work.  In addition, the best part is that it hardly seemed like work because we moved together like a well-oiled machine!  The culmination of all our various gifts created an environment that promoted deeper relationships and a shared workload. It felt like God's hand was present in our thoughts and plans every step of the way.

Our theme is “Going Deeper,”which is based on  Debbie Alsdorf's latest book. We are so excited to have Debbie be our speaker with  sessions titled “Get Real with God,” “Get Back to Basics,” “Get Set to Live Differently,” and finally “Live Like it’s Real.” Tomorrow, over one hundred women are escaping to the mountains of Calabasas to go camping at Mt. Crags Retreat Center.  Well, it is sort of camping.  There are beautiful landscapes, in addition to running water, toilets, showers, meals and simple lodging. Now, that’s my kind of roughin’ it!

To keep the ball rolling we met earlier this week to assemble retreat goodie bags, folders, nametags and to spend time praying together before this long awaited weekend takes flight. My husband is working in Seattle all week, so it really was a girl’s night out!
My favorite part of any retreat? It's the escape away from life’s crazy pace. The hours of Free Time on Saturday will be savored like a triple-scoop ice cream cone from 31 Flavors. Well, that's after I lead gals on a hike in the mucho dry heat. That will be a challenge, as I fear running into rattle snakes.
I am scratching my chinny-chin-chin because this Ladies Getaway weekend hasn’t officially started and already our team is scheming about plans for next year’s retreat … which is actually a wonderful thing, because a goal without a plan is just a wish!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Marathon-Shmarathon

The half-marathon was rescheduled to November 20th. I considered sticking with my training, despite my undercarriage feeling the fallout of riding a unicycle twenty-five miles a week. Then I found out the new race day is January 8, 2012! I threw my hands up in the air and requested a refund. It is so disappointing to work hard for something and then have it snatched away before enjoying the fruits of your hard work.
On another note, my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and is having surgery tomorrow.  Big Farumph! That gave me a renewed perspective on what is worthy of frustration and disappointment. So, I’ll shut up and pray for her restored health and strength while I ask God for the blessing of good health for those around me.

Marathon-shmarathon!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Time to Develop My Sense O' Humor

A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life. William Arthur Ward

Hesitantly, I'm developing my sense of humor upon learning that the Camarillo half-marathon set for this Sunday is postponed six weeks! Really? Blanche and I have been training since July for this damn day! Continuing to walk the tightrope of life, I am seeking the pole that will add balance to my steps, AKA: humor.

Humor, where are you?

I even made a cute tank top to wear for the race, and my brother-in-law was running the full marathon (stud). This was going to be a memorable family event.

At this moment? Like a flat-chested awkward teen, I feel underdeveloped (in the Humor Department).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Old Gold = New Money

My money tree is barren! One morning last week I set my mind on how I could come across a stack of twenty-dollar bills.  Don’t think that I'm money hungry, all our needs are met, but lately it feels like extra cash could make life flow easier and money arguments fewer. My mind was open to all possibilities as I read the morning paper. A huge insert begged me to sell my Gold for Cash … then I recalled my friend Ellen mentioning that she gathered her old jewelry, sold it, and skipped home with a handsome amount. Flashing back, I recalled that I blossomed in the 80’s when gold jewelry was all the rage. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, maybe I have some old gold lying around that could be turned in for a stack of twenties?”
Off I went to my twenty-five year old trinket box. Four broken gold necklaces and three gold bracelets (one broken), sat amongst the “cheerleader” and “Special Sister” charms; all ancient gold stuff I loved at one time.
I searched the internet to find places to visit that day. My father acted like an attorney on retainer, coaching my every move over the phone. My first stop yielded a $564 cash crop. Why, yes, I was pleasantly surprised! When I explained to Jacky at We Buy Gold (www.wcgoldbuyers.com) that I was just shopping around, she said, “I can offer you $630 with my personal incentive.”  I thought to myself, "How many twenties does that equal?" I was shocked, but stuck with the plan my dad guided me on. She did not like my negative response, so the Cute Crook  called to see what the “guaranteed highest offer” was that she could offer. Apparently, they advertise that they will beat any competitor’s bona-fide offer by 110%. Next thing I knew she dangled out a huge number … wait for it … $1050. What a leap! All that ching-ching made me want to sell but I saw that this had to be a fraud of some sort because she was scheming to steal my broken gold just minutes ago for $564. I told her I had to call my father (my husband was not answering due to work commitments, so I gave up and leaned on Dear Ol’ Dad).
Like a beacon in the fog, my father advised me to get out of there FAST and head somewhere else. Off I went to a local jeweler, “My friend in the diamond business,” is his slogan. They seemed honest and upfront. After careful weighing, they offered me $1048.  I had one more place to visit, but it was thirty minutes away, so I decided to call “Eli” at BST Gold first. I gave him the weights over the phone and he said it would be worth $1300 to $1400 … no sheet! All the reviews for BST Gold in Woodland Hills (www.bstgold.com) were glowing so I headed toward Los Angeles. Sure enough, Eli and Maya greeted me in a personal manor, offered over $1300 for the broken gold, PLUS they gave me a Starbucks Gift card! And they paid in cash! They took my driver’s license and thumb print, so it seemed like a straight operation.
I took the stack of green and headed back home. What an unexpectedly crazy day that was! I realize that for some this isn’t much money and to others it’s a windfall. For me it’s a huge-amazing-surprise windfall.  I smile when I realize that I woke up one morning scratching my head wishing for some extra cash and went to bed feeling like that wish came true.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~Aesop

I have to hand it to ancient Greek Aesop because he nailed it when he said the above. It’s true!
In my fourth grade class, some kids just don’t “get” math while others zoom through the lesson barely challenged. Math has never been my strength, so I try to be patient and extra encouraging to the children that struggle. It is so easy to get discouraged! When I arrived at work this morning there was a piece of blue paper with a heart balloon colored on it that read (and I quote),
“Thank you for being so nice about me geting stuff rong.”
God bless the little girl who wrote those sweet mispelled words that came straight from her heart! I'll tuck her thoughtful note deep into my ten-year-old-loving memory. Because of her, my day started with a BIG smile and a reminder of the power of kindness, no matter how small.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dance Dilema

After days of deliberation, my son found the gumption to ask that cute girl in Spanish 101 to the Homecoming Dance in October. Seeing that he was happy, I was happy. First question I asked?

“What’s her last name?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. I asked questions, but he knew nothing, other than she was a dancer.  In a nut shell? He saw a cute girl in Spanish class and got the guts to ask her out. Good for him.  I stressed he find out her last name and get her phone number. That’s a start, right?

Two days after asking her, I emailed the band director, as the Regiment Band has a Competition in beautiful Chino Hills on the same day as the Homecoming Dance. His response was that none of the band could attend the dance as they compete at 8 PM that same night.
Reallly? Hmmmm. I didn’t like his answer for many reasons.
1. When were they going to let students know that none of the 127-member band could attend the Homecoming Dance?
2. How was I to know that an “All Day” event meant until 10PM?
3. What are they thinking? For many, the Homecoming Dance is a staple high school experience!

It was then that I realized then my kid’s high school is on steroids, and not just the band, every department is! THIS is why they are ranked #1 in the county, 11th in the state and 104th in the entire country … everything they do demands 150%. That's all good. But when you are a freshman feeling your way through your ninth-grade year, you don’t want to visit Chino Hills when you could be awkwardly pinning a corsage on a girls chest. I think it’s ridiculous and I emailed my viewpoint to the director. I doubt anything will change, as this strong  dedication is what makes them #1!
 Farumph!
Needless to say, he will unask the dancer this week (ouch!) and attend the band competition because it's “the right” thing to do. However, my son said he won't be in the regiment marching band next year. That bums me out on one hand and on the other, I say, "Cheers to that! Clink!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Balance Tip O' The Week

Whatever doesn't kill you
 really does make you stronger!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back to Bikini Bottom

You may have heard that a man dressed as SpongeBob SquarePants was detained by police outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood last week. The man was questioned but not arrested in what a Los Angeles Police Department official described as a "brief incident with two females."
The incident was the latest run-in between characters that pose for pictures with tourists and then aggressively demand money, according to police. City rules allow people to tip characters, but prohibit them from demanding payment.

I laugh at the timing of this because I was just in Hollywood and had a photo taken with this SquarePants guy. His costume was filthy and I hesitated to get close to Dirty SpongeBob.  He did not ask for money but did rub his fingers together after the picture was taken. He was totally expecting moola. My friend gave him a dollar and we went on our way to the Hollywood Bowl.
Back to Bikini Bottom for Dirty SpongeBob!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Balance is not a piece of cake

Life is about balance and who isn’t guilty of teetering on the edge of calamity verses keeping nice and steady?  For example, my nephew’s first birthday. It was a Sunday party with gorgeous weather, dear family, friends and beautiful homemade birthday cakes by Aunt Miss Piggy. The small cake for the Birthday Boy highlighted because watching a one-year-old dig into his first cake ranks up there with the wedding-cake-smear battle some brides and grooms partake in. Admit it. It’s fun to watch!

The memorable scene was set. The lone candle sparkled as the pleased baker held her sweet creation. Daddy perched  behind his precious baby as Grandparents watched every move of their tiny grandson. The delightful creation was set carefully in front of Baby Benson, as his Mom pulled the pacifier from his sweet lips. Yes, all observers’ eyes hinged on this precious moment in time.  Out of nowhere, imbalance set in … just when it appeared that everything was picture perfect, the cake flew onto the floor like a game piece from “Don’t Tip the Waiter.”
What a great reminder that when you think everything is stable and going according to plan, then it all splats on the ground! THIS is why it is so important to never lose your sense of humor!

I guess you could say that some things in life are a piece of cake and balance is not one of them!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Free Fix

I want to give a shout out to Fernando! On my ride today, he stopped me to take a photo to share with his kids. My only regret is that I didn’t take a picture of him on his bike to share with my kids. This stranger-photo thing has happened twice and should the paparazzi reappear, I’m whipping out my camera to photograph the person who is photographing Blanche and me. Actually, it gave me a pleasant lift in mile two. Thanks Fernando!

Unfortunately, nine miles into this ride I popped Blanche’s one-and-only tire. El Fin!  My goal was to cruise thirty-three total miles this week, but due to those darn prickles, Old Blanche deflated, and I only squeezed in thirty. Disappointed, my Teckie-Husband picked me up roadside and later I visited the Bike Shop. Sticker shock set in when told it cost twenty-five clams to fix her single-measly tire. That is highway robbery people! Last year it was a mere fifteen clams to replace, and now this! Thanks Obama. Well, I flat refused (no pun intended) to pay up, so I bought the tubing and my Teckie-Husband fixed it free.

This shows that in today’s economy to keep your checkbook balanced, as well as your life, it helps to come up with creative ways to save some ching-ching (especially on tubing!) Ahhh ... that rhymes ;0)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Balance Tip O' the Week

Don't compare you life to others.
You have no idea what their
journey is all about.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chang the Hunter

There are many creative stories how couples announced their pregnancy, but none have topped this. Debra and Bubba (AKA: Bubra) invited their parents to P.F. Changs. After dining on a tasty Chinese dinner, the customary fortune cookies arrived. The parents cracked their cookies and it was no coincidence the crumpled white paper inside read “P.F. Chang says your luck has improved. Expect a grandchild this year.”
 How is that for all sweet and no sour?
Four generations!

Overboard and her raindance ;0)
 Since that meal, great anticipation and joy have saturated the months like highly-absorbent diapers. Baby Chang (his in utero name) is growing and alas, his Baby shower arrived. This spectacular event was hosted by my mother (AKA: Overboard) good friend, Nancy and Auntie Shannon. Chang’s jungle themed nursery was also the shower theme and it had to have paws and a tail if Overboard was going to live up to her name… and it did!
The table centerpieces were upside down flower pots that we transformed into jungle animals filled with plants. Palapas were a great touch, as were the wooden plates, bright tablecloths and dark wooden chairs. Why of course P.F. Chang’s catered this luncheon and the cake matched the invitations perfectly. Overboard went so far to keep with the jungle idea, she had Mother Nature send rolling thunder and light humid rain so the guests felt like they were in the Amazon jungle!

 Many dear friends and family attended and Debra’s glow (she looks terrific!)  was only outdone by the twinkle in the eyes of the future Grandmas and Great-Grandmas. My favorite part was when Debra opened gifts because contemporary Baby clothes are so darn cute! This Christmas, Baby Chang will don a Santa Suit, which is special because soon-to-be-first-time Grandpa Tom played Santa for many little ones the past two decades! The pressure is on for Baby Chang to carry on this tradition and they are grooming him early, although this year it’s sure to be ho, ho, home for a nap! Chang is due on October 27th and our prayers are for an easy delivery, excellent health and good fortune for all. Oh, we absolutely give thanks that they are naming him Hunter and not Chang!
Great work Ladies, it was a lovely day!
Congratulations to Bubra, dog-brother Chopper and the future grandparents, especially Tom and Joyce.  Cheers to them because they have been adopted-supportive grandparents to many while they patiently waited for their own eggroll to arrive.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Balance Challenge #11; Slow down, List I go crazy!

 One day at a time--this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.” 
Do you find yourself doing one thing while thinking about another? Like when I was riding down that hill too fast and fell off Blanche crashing into the street. Right before the fall, my brain was reeling with seven other thoughts when I should’ve focused on dismounting my single wheeler and keeping my can off the pavement. Now my (current) problem?  I left my wallet at the check stand in Vons. Driving back to retrieve it , I angrily told myself, “Slow down!”
My two days off work are jammed (It’s uber-chore consolidation).   Determined to maximize time, I start my list a day ahead and then watch it grow and grow like when I was eight and would drip water through a straw on the  accordion-like wrapper to watch it expand bigger (BTW, a fun trick every kid should learn).

 At Vons, I was grabbing milk, while reading down the grocery list I’d created inside my master list. You see,  food items are in a sub-list of my main list. Can you understand the organizational system that keeps me completely dependent on that damn list? Selecting chicken I was absorbed with what I planned to accomplish next;  buying a birthday gift,  making an ice-cream cake,  scheduling flu shots, buying a binder for my kid, vacuuming the dust bunny invasion and squeezing in a trip to the fabric store because I want to create a Unicyclerose shirt for the half-marathon (I know, I know. Corny, but you only live once people!) And blah, blah, blah, blah …. I feel like I’m chasing after the wind! Because of this chaos, I forgot my wallet in Vons, and put the fresh cabbage in my deep freezer then bought the wrong size binder!
I admit I am out of balance on my days off. My challenge is to slooow down. Join me? Let’s try to live in the present because history proves that when focused on the future  (instead of The Now) mistakes happen.  So I must slow down, List I go crazy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Balance Tip O’ the Week

Just be yourself.
Then no one can tell you you’re doing it wrong.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dan's Dove

The day a boy becomes a man, is the day he shoots his first buck." Author, Cheyenne Aker
God sprinkled an extra dose of “male-adventure dust” on eleven-year-old Daniel. He is enamored with guns, war history, modern warfare and all things aircraft and aerospace related. His favorite shows? Why the History and Military Channel of course! Growing up with two sisters, this is all new to me as we were the Barbie, let’s-play-office, create-a- talent-show or bake something types. This Sunday Daniel, my father and Uncle Dave were shooting cans and practicing aim in the backyard. After raising three daughters it appears that nothing delights my dad like having three grandsons and three sons-in-law, including Daniel who reeks of masculinity. My dad’s love and joy for these surrounding males is only rivaled by a straight flush in three-card poker at the Chumash Casino (I’m kidding).

Before I go on you must note that Dove Season started on September 1. I know this because my father went dove hunting on opening day every year when I was a little girl.Well, pity the poor dove that landed 40 feet away to drink from the Jacuzzi, or take a bath, or do whatever those darling grey birds do around water. My gung ho father challenged Daniel to shoot the dove, knowing that he could never ever hit it that far away. Unfortunately, for the dove, he was wrong! Testosterone filled excitement ensued along with a detailed explanation on how to clean dove. Gross.

Now, I don’t think it can be said that Daniel became a man after shooting his first dove. It seems that one must hunt something big like a buck, elk, or bear to earn that status. However, the first time a boy “hunts” and is successful (aluminum cans not included) I’d like to think he has earned a great story to share with his buddies, and maybe a little chest hair too.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Go Speed Racer!

Let’s make one thing clear people:  I. Don't. Run. I wish it were my thing like so many, but it’s not. The mere thought of a lengthy run makes my boobs sore and ankles pained. It’s true that short legs and Track Stars don’t mix (Think: drinking and driving).

However, my Labor Day began with a run-ride.

Funny enough, my husband is a fast runner (opposites attract, right?) and my stunted legs could never keep up with his lengthy quick ones. In the past, we have compromised with power walks … until today.

He was reading me his to-do list over coffee and “Go for a run” was amongst his inventory. I asked if he wanted to take “Our Walk,” but he preferred to run today. Bummer. Then a light bulb went off in my ever-spinning head. I suggested Blanche and I go with him! He said yes. A minor problem is that I unicycle a ten-minute mile and he runs an eight-minute mile.  I felt like part of the cartoon Speed Racer fromt the 1970's trying to keep up!

We ran-rode four miles and they were exhausting as I worked extra hard to peddle near my high-speed husband.  It was definitely a fun-sweaty-balance challenge to not fall behind him or plunge on my face. You could say that he put the labor in my Labor Day!
Cheers to Labor Day and trying new things! Clink!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Encouragement is, like, totally awesome! Fer Sure!

Revisiting the difficult  twelve-mile course after my unicycle crash took courage, but it was something  I had to do. Facing the fear of falling and how onlookers make me nervous is something I yearn to overcome. So yesterday, I hopped on Blanche and said some prayers while listening to my new iPod playlist. It always starts with inspirational songs and this is when I thank God for my  working legs, sight, health and family, among other things (that list is endless). It is my single-wheelie devotion to God and it’s critical prayer time before Oingo Boingo, the Beastie Boys, Black-eyed Peas and the B-52’s fill my ears.

I am considering training wheels
and possibly the clown suit.

Can you tell I need fast song for the long rides? I find a lot of that in 80’s music. In fact, tonight I am going to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert titled “Totally '80s: The Human League, B-52's, The Fixx & Berlin.” Channeling my inner Valley Girl for this totally tubular, rad concert should be, like, easy cuz I’m spazzing at my plan to have a totally-awesome-bitchen- good time … to the max. Like, can you relate?
Ah, hem.

Along yesterday's ride, God provided exactly what I needed to get through. Of course twice I heard the “You are missing a wheel” comment (If I only had a dollar for every time I heard this, I’d be rich!). I also got a “That’s Awesome,” “Wow!” , “How do you do that?” plus big smiles on kid’s faces and many thumbs up from drivers and gardeners.  Being encouraged feels good and it could not have come at a better time. Especially when I had to take a potty break and turned into the Vons parking lot. To my left I saw a woman with a camera. Why yes, of course I got nervous, loss footing and hopped off. She walked up and said she had seen me around and asked if she could take a photo of Blanche and me. I laughed.
My point? I received encouragement from total strangers and God sent in extra back up when I needed it most. This inspires me to encourage others! Worn ragged after two hours of unicycling I am happy to report there were no major falls. Today my legs are sore and I discovered my new playlist needs some tweaking, but otherwise it was a success! Like, totally, fer sure.