Thursday, December 27, 2012

“Partying Like a Crosetti since 1944”

One of our Founding Fathers, John Crosetti

Our hostess Aunt Cindy with boyfriend Bill
The Party favor for the Crosetti Christmas party was a red-drink cozy with a picture of my Great-Grandpa John and the above quote, "Partying like a Crosetti since 1944." A bit of family history on John Crosetti. In 1900, at the age of 21, he left his family in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy and landed at Ellis Island ready to explore American and see what kind of life he could create for himself.  Years later, the first documented Crosetti Christmas party was in 1944 under the auspices of Great-Grandpa John … and the merrymaking goes on, year after year, with new and old family members coming and going.

Miss Piggy getting all tied up in the festivities
This year’s host, Aunt Cindy, is a party planner so the entire gig was over the top. It was like a Christmas wedding reception on steriods! Straight out of a Martha Sterwart Magazine, Holiday Edition. She had festive ties for all the men to sport, and no detail forgotten. Even the green signature drink “The Crosettitini” kept in step with cranberries at the bottom of each glass. The Italian dinner of chicken marsala and lasagna left me feeling like my husband looked in the Santa suit! Stuffed!

We always have some fun gift game too. This year, the gift exchange required a ten-dollar present and the only caveat was we had to shop at the 99 Cent store. Imagine all that fun junk that was beautifully wrapped and handed out by Santa! Lucas loved his straw hat and cheap sunglasses!  

Breath Santa!

Ho, ho, ho! My Teckie Santa did a jolly job, however his legs received the gift of a workout with all those bottoms, large and small, parked on his lap.  I think the "little ones" believed him, but the pillow shoved in his suit was waaaay to big and when he sat down, it looked like he was gasping for air to make room for all that padding bursting from his chest.
It was a memorable night and worth the drive or flight for all who attended. Family is a blessing, but you already know that. Right?
Walking in a suburban-neighborhood wonderland
Another blessing? Good neighbors (think State Farm). We took our annual neighborhood-Christmas-lights walk one chilly night after dinner, cocoa and all. I love me those simple Christmas traditions! Check out the paper cups for the kids. Why, yes! Laughter was plentiful!
Today we pack for a road trip to Palm Springs. It’s good to know that the Wiener Sisters, Chickens, and our casa are in wonderful watchful eyes and hands! Thanks Hurd Family!

Christmas Day we had dinner at Overboard’s with our Hawaiian cousins, and were entertained by Lucas and Daniel’s magic fingers on guitar and piano. These two should take their show on the road! Ham and turkey dinner was delicious, thanks to Overboard and her cooking-for-an-army-thang! The leftovers were even better! Cheers to Italian Mothers everywhere! Clink!
We watched Elf for the third time in two weeks and I could sit through it again, just to hear my favorite line “But the children love the books.” Elf fans, I'm sure you get it!
The other Elf on the scene was Benson. At two, he's not grasping the concept of it all, clinging to the first gift he opened: a Chuckit for him to play with the dog. Everything paled next to this gift, despite receiving a mountain of awesome kiddie presents. Forget about a new camera, or perfume from Santa next year. After seeing the immense joy over a plastic doggie-ball thrower, I'd like a Chuckit in 2013!
Until then, we will continue to "Party like a Crosetti"
thanks to our start by Great-Grandpa John!
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis
I'm not a flake! It’s etched in my Italian genes that commitment and loyalty are golden. However with blogging, my dedication has sagged like Santa’s big bowl full of jelly-belly. Not apologizing, I wanted to state that work, kid-transport and life have pleasantly cluttered my writing path.

Now don’t get all worried and concerned (LOL!), this clutter hasn't blocked my unicycle path. I have still been riding Old Blanche four miles a week, although, after surgery recently I can’t hop on my old friend for another two weeks. Doctor’s orders! He also ordered me to stay off my feet for three days and I loved it! Permission to do nothing? I delightfully ate up that medical order like The Weiner Sisters in the hen house!

Christmas highlights have been abundant. After ten years of faking it with the Christmas tree, we bought a live one at our kid’s pleading. Other than  the chaos of stringing on the lights, it has been all fun and fragrant. The pre-lit fake tree is in the other room and it's my “Mom Tree.” Read as: it’s all pretty with coordinating decorations spaced perfectly and hung just where I think they belong (think Gimball's Deaprtment store in Elf). Our live “Kid Tree” is adorned with loads of kid homemade and bought ornaments collected over the last fifteen years. Priceless and precious!
Meet Priceless and Precious
Like the quote above states, "presence of family really is the best gift around any tree!" On that note, we took Benson down Gemini Court which is this light-filled street on steroids with moving-wood-made theme decorations on every front lawn. Sort of like mini-suburban-Disneyland. How wonderful to see this neighborhood through the eyes of my two-year old nephew! Simple gifts are best ;0)
Heading to Gemini Court
Building Gingerbread houses came early this year. We had Grandma Fish, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Matt here from out-of-state and thought it best to create a village while all hands were on deck. This is always a fun tradition and the sugary smell that lingers all month makes my mouth water. Sa-weet stuff! Please pass the white frosting ... a little more ... more ...
Gingerbread Village 2012
Lucas’s Christmas Symphonic Band Concert was amazing! We are so impressed with every concert, and there is much more to come as he is participating in Winter Drum Line. He auditioned to play the electric guitar and got the part. He’s pumped over that, however, he wants to dye his hair black and get a tattoo. We said “HELL NO!” to a permanent tattoo and “Maybe” to a temporary wash-out black dye. I said, “Lord help us” (repeat ten times). 
Overboard is Lucas's biggest band fan!
Currently, Daniel is Mr. Basketball, playing in two leagues. For Christmas, he announced that he wanted a new bible and KWA-KMP9 air-soft gun. Yes, a Bible and gun! California is definitely the wrong state for this kid! Daniel's future plans include “getting a wife” and moving to Montana. Once there, he wants to “buy some lumber and build a cabin.” We're sure going to miss him ;0)

News Break, Chicken Report: We have eight hens in our brood. That's  after my Teckie had to break one's neck (named Timid) because she had a paralyzed leg that left her no feeling on one side. Timid did okay, draggin that leg around the coop like a sandbang. Then the poor-feathered thing pecked a hole in her numb side and gizzards were showing ... but that's a whole other Oprah.  Thankfully, Daniel diligently cleans the chicken coop where we are getting 6 eggs a day! He loves those stinky birds and, for all I care, he can take them to Montana.
Cousins: Best Gift EVER!
Tomorrow night is THE Crosetti Chrismas party! This she-bang has been going on for fifty years (pictures below) and is the epitome of the presence of a happy (loud Italian) family all wrapped up in (shouting and singing at) each other. My family has a new batch of Little Ones (The Hawaiians are flying in!) and my Teckie is slated to play Santa Claus. He will do a fine job like many that have gone before him!  
Crosetti Christmas Party, 1969, Great-Grandpa John Crosetti

Crosetti Christmas Party, 1977
Crosetti Christmas Party, 1982
I'm the one wearing a table cloth; far right.
Despite the joy of the season, sadness over friends lost, loved ones passed and the Connecticut school shooting makes me slow down and hold tighter to what really matters in this short life; good health and loved ones!

I still stand by my mantra that in life "Balance is Everything." To maintain that fragile place, make peace and gratitude your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through! Oh, and to keep balance, pull your shoulders back and core straight when riding a unicycle. I'm just say'in...

I thank my God who delivers the gift of love to all!
Happy Birthday to our Hope and Savior, Jesus!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Love Thursdays

Thursday is my “everything day.” Admittedly, it’s an off-balance day as it’s my only one away from Fourth Grade and I cram everything into the sunlight hours like an overstuffed carry-on bag.

I rode Blanche bright and early this morning, when kids were hustling to school, and cars to work.  This was not my usual time to cruise four miles and it felt like helium; uplifting.

One construction worker shouted, “You haven’t been around in a while!” I blushed, realizing he was talking to me. Blanche must be the only unicycle that passes through there.  Children walking and riding bikes to school stared with great surprise, as their lips pursed into round-donut circles, looking and pointing as if I had two heads. I forgot what it was like to ride around people.  It was so busy and alive “out there.”
The best part was when I was close to home, a man walked up and was standing on the corner near the  street light. Staring. Car keys in hand. My mind twittered … Is he looking at me? Surely not. But then, maybe. He’s not moving, just kindly looking on as I approached.

Getting closer, I hopped off Blanche. It seemed he had something to say.
He owns a business nearby, and had seen me riding in the past. His son also rides a unicycle and plays basketball, at the same time. Craaazzzy! I introduced myself and we stood there chatting it up, single-wheelie style. Nice guy. I love meeting new people!

As I rode away, I wondered if I was called to attempt this sport that requires idling; something I've yet to master. Oh, and dribbling a basketball while riding a unicycle? There stands another problem. But wait, there’s more!  I would probably be the only female and I'm old-er (almost mid-forties baby!). Unlike this guy’s son who  is probably  a whippersnapper in his twenties, all limber and unicycle fit, reeking of balance and control as he gracefully idles while dribbling a basketball, big-white smile on, making it look easy. Jeesh!  I'm snickering because it takes my every cell to unicycle this old-er body, taking deep breathes and soaking in God’s beautiful world while working up a healthy sweat and unintentionally entertaining the neighborhood. Just keeping good balance mile after mile,  and not falling on my face is enough! Go figure.
Regardless, I think I will look into this unicycle basketball group. Maybe I can squeeze in watching a game with my kids or connect with some like-minded unicycle peeps … hopefully on a Thursday :0)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

THE Father Stephen

Father Stephen and Lucas (20 months), 1998
Walking in darkness, God lends you people that emanate light and show you the way. For me, that was Farther Stephen Barber, 1997. He was the rotating chaplain for the UCLA Pediatric ICU and I was the freaked-out-mess-of-a-new-mom watching my infant suffer through two open-heart-surgeries that blossomed horrible side effects.
Father Stephen, Lucas, My Teckie, Miss Piggy and Lui
Father Stephen, a young Jesuit priest-in-training, was an angel at this time of turmoil. You see, we were meeting with the ethics committee at UCLA, contemplating taking our baby off life support and Father Stephen was right there comforting us. He stood inside of the extreme brokenness we were engulfed in. 

Father Stephen walked with us into meetings with ethicists and doctors. We spent lunches on the UCLA campus chewing over the  meaning of life (no matter how short), a real Jesus, death and everlasting life. Lucas was only four-months old at that time, with an array of ugly, yet, colorfully rare complications that would make any rainbow shy away. It was a dark time.
Fast-forward thirteen years...

Who knew Overboard had kept in touch with The Father Stephen? Overboard is a phenomenal lover of all things Catholic! She told me that he was in Southern California and she invited Father Stephen, yes, THE Father Stephen, to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party. Flabbergasted, excited, and melancholy thoughts filled me at the thought of seeing him again. So much life and time had passed since he last visited our home in 1998.
Homecoming Dance, 2012

Now “Baby Lucas” is a healthy teenybopper, with a self-shaved head, magnetic draw towards guitar, struggling in sophomore geometry and flashing a beautiful (post-braces) smile. His  Arizona friend Jenny, from Camp Del Corazon, was visiting that  same weekend to attend Lucas’ Homecoming Dance. Man, I felt old!

You know what popped into my brain as I gazed at these old and new photos? It is bizarre, but what I thought. It was a 1970’s groovy-wooden plaque that hung in our Silver Strand beach house when I was a child. It read, “Time heals all things except crow’s feet.”  Back then, I had no idea what it meant; five hand-painted blackbirds on pokey feet, some with wings spread out, standing under those words. How could time help their feet?
Now I get it!  Time really is a great healer (except for those darn eye wrinkles).
Back to THE Father Stephen story … God is so good! You can tell by husband’s reaction in this photo that when Lucas formally met Father Stephen (with zilch memory of his babyhood) it was a special moment for the parents, grandparents and entire family.  God’s abundant healing has grown Lucas up, as well as THE Father Stephen Barber. He is now the Head of Admissions for Loyal High school in Los Angeles.
Miracles do happen :0)
This man that watched my crushed new-mom-self emotionally bare naked spent an afternoon with us and shared dinner with my entire family. He held the table captive with stories of working as the chaplain at San Quentin Sate Prison, among other things. Who knew God was shaping us to become these “other people?” I had no idea.  In the middle of that 1997 storm, I could not see that there was a bright, fully alive, and ordained future waiting to unfold.

Cheers to God’s goodness and to our friend,
 THE Father Stephen! CLINK!
Oh, and, um, Happy Birthday Benson!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Oh, the Places You'll go!

As a kid, Dr. Seuss was my favorite author. He was a true-rhymsical wordsmith and always delivered a wonderful message to all ages.

In life, at one time or another, we all find ourselves in a life balance slump.
Dr. Seuss says it best in Oh, the Places You’ll Go!.
Uncle Scott and Daniel  soaring to great heights!
“You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers, who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
 ~ Dr. Seuss
True That! Who hasn't seen great hights then been left in a Lurch?
And you'll come down from the Lurch with an upleasant bump!
 Thank you to the Good Doctor Seuss for helping human-kind keep "the balance." The Fun Way ;o)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Confucius say ...

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life
Labor Day is an American Federal Holiday recognized on the first Monday in September. This day "off" celebrates the social and economic contribution of workers. Our society has made it the touchpoint for summer's end and high society's marker for the last chance to fashionably wear white. It is also one of the busiest retail days of the year, right after Black Friday. Ironically, those who work in retail don't get Labor Day off. Go figure!
Work is officially over for Mr. Oppossum we (finally) caught Saturday night
Hopefully, you put your heels up and enjoyed time "off" from whatever your occupation. In a perfect world, we'd follow Confucius's advice and never "work" a day in our life. Dream on, Grasshopper! Most Americans are thankful to clock-into a job that pays these days ... Thank God for our employment!
No grind for us
Happy Labor Day!


Friday, August 31, 2012

Change-A-Roo Time

Remember the movie The Bridges of Madison County? I loved the book and the movie, but the biggest take away was Clint Eastwood saying, “The only thing you can depend on in this life is change.”  That quote has stuck in my head like caramel in a teenager's braces.

Shaved Lucas and his chemistry assignment
Change, is everywhere. Not just in carpools, hair color and couch cushions, but every-darn-where. It throws me off balance trying to adjust to the end-of-summer-start-of-school groove. Turmoil hid inside me because many new adjustments scattered my day, like toddler toys in every room of the house. This season is a clutter of changes. I hopped on Blanche and took her on a four-mile spin. I felt free and revitalized listening to good music, praying, mapping out life, and being an encourager to myself. At mile three, I started to feel the unicycle strain, however, I returned clear headed and rejuvenated, like after a good house cleaning.
Don't cha love Overboard's shirt? 
My first week back in fourth grade went smooth like butter. The teacher I worked with for five years retired and my new boss is a bright, tech-savvy young ‘in. We make a good team.
Oh yes,  Lucas came home from Camp Del Corazon without hair. He bid the mullet fare-the-well and his buddy shaved his head. Living hairless has served him well these blazing-hot first days of school. However, I miss the mullet. Thank goodness, hair is changeable and temporary!
Daniel LOVED his first week of sixth grade, signing up for flag football and reveling in the change that lockers and new class schedules bring.  Today is his birthday and the morning was kicked off with Overboard waking him up with his favorite donut, singing Happy Birthday. However, he is a sad birthday boy … that brings me to The Chicken Report. 
The good news is that we are collecting five eggs a day. The bad news? Today we shipped off the cutest and cuddliest hens because time has proven them to be growing-loud roosters. Is there any other kind? Why yes, there are. Quiet, feather-footed chickies that are mistaken for hens, until they start cockfighting and crowing at the crack of dawn! The past mornings my Teckie put them in the garage to cut down on the decibels of crowing my neighbors must hate. When we returned Boots and Queen, um, I mean King,  Daniel had a droopy-broken-birthday heart. 
I tried to convince my Teckie to exchange the roosters for feed, however, they returned with two little black "hens." Daniel's spirits shot up, as for mine? No comment.
Bye Boots and King the rooster formerly known as Queen the hen
 This week I waved my white flag to life’s shifting cycles.  Everything changes.
 The trick is to keep good  balance and juggle newness so that life is enjoyable, appreciated, love-filled and steady. When, and if, you feel overwhelmed? Hop on your unicycle :0 )

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Perfect Ten

It was a premature celebration (he was born on August 31st) but one that had to unfold  before the start of school, big brother’s return from Catalina Island and summer’s official ending … Please welcome … Daniel’s 12th birthday! Yes, for the first time we caved and hosted a slumber party with thirteen buddies, sleeping in pitched tents and each doing a stellar job as energetic-competitive-sweaty preteen boys. It doesn't sound like a dream party to me, but was a hit with this crowd.
They played a game called Bigger or Better. Splitting them into two teams,  they started with a paper clip and knocked on doors asking if they could have something bigger or better. Trading up and up until the game ended in 45 minutes, the Red Team won, returning with an 18-inch flatscreen TV with broken DVD player. The Black Team did great also, but stopped early, satisfied with a ginormous working nerf gun ... boys!
"Daniel Bingo” was our wind down before our BBQ dinner and then flashlights were handed out at dark. On our street, they played Flashlight Tag and Ghost in the Graveyard until a cake break. Daniel requested an ice cream cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream, and chocolate cake. Of course, I obliged and created a custom cake topper for this kid who soaks up the Military Channel like a dry sponge.
After all that? You think these kids would collapse. No! Cue “The Sugar High”. At 10:30, they watched Hunger Games (a surprisingly good movie with macabre story line) eating Fire Hot Cheetos, peanut butter pretzels and carrots. I feel like Overboard sharing food details. I can't help it, it must be in the Italian genes :0) 
After the movie, our den rug was floating in a sea of crumbs only The Weiner Sisters and my niece-dog, Cinco, could appreciate.
A pooped out Cinco
We played many games to tire these kids out. Try as we did, they still had to be shushed a few times, finally sleeping about 3AM. At my age, going to bed at that horrendous hour is a bad sign. But to these sticky little dudes, it meant a fantastic night, an ideal celebration, or unintentional parent torture. You decide.

I hit the hay about 1:30 AM because I knew that chocolate-chip pancakes, homegrown oranges and thirty soon-to-be-scrambled fresh eggs were calling me after the five hours of sleep I devoured. It felt like fifteen minutes.
Those boys were up with the sun (an imposter “hen” was coca-doodle-dooing! Do you know what that means? Maybe  another rooster? Stay tuned) and running around having nerf gun wars as my Teckie and I worked like a well-oiled machine pumping out breakfast. Of course, with a little help with some friends.
We get by with a little help from our friends!

This whole shebang was a rare undertaking because of the required responsibility and energy.  Without a doubt, Daniel was worth every ounce of effort, gray hair and lost sleep.
Don't even think of blowing out my candles!
 After the last boy was picked up, we asked Daniel how the party went. He quickly answered “It was a ten! A perfect, ten out of ten!”

Wooo Hooo! Raise your soda and let's "cheers" to twelve years of Daniel (clink!).

Friday, August 24, 2012

"The God Part"

Spending time in the Emergency Room with Lucas, we had hours of concentrated talking time. He told me about a story he heard at AMEN (our young men’s church Group).  It went like this …  There was a man who possessed great faith that every day he would thank God for things not yet received. He was so sure that God would pull through, sometimes waiting years, yet always keeping a heart of deep gratitude and constant thanksgiving every day. Lucas explained that it is all about having faith that God can and will do the impossible.

I liked the story and then he said, “But wait, let me get to The God Part.”  Thinking we just went over “The God Part,” I zipped my lips as he went on. 
“When Jenny (a dear friend, maybe more)  told me she was backing out of going to Camp Del Corazon (, I laid on the floor thanking God that she WOULD go.”  In the ER, with oozing skin and swollen parts, Lucas was sharing “The God Part” of the story and how he tried the Faith Lesson learned at AMEN .  How camp was only six days away and he was bummed that she said she could not go, but thanked God that she would.
At our Cousins Getaway, far removed from home life :0)
Let me back up … The reason we were in the ER was that while I was away this weekend with my cousins in Santa Barbara, my sons and their friends built a ramp. This bumpy incline barely qualified with ramp status.  Just rusty nails and old-sloping-wood hammered together.  Lucas jumped his bike off it.

Without a helmet.
On the pavement.

He messed up the right side of his body and was covered in road rash, a huge swollen elbow and knee, much pain and a boy-zest for his many abrasions.
I know what you are thinking. Where was his father during the helmetless-jalopy-bike-ramp session? All I can deduct is that fathers have a different approach (or lack of) when it comes to supervising their sons.

Nuff said.
Back to the story.
Here is "The God Part."  When Jenny went to withdraw from camp due to missing too many tests her first year of high school, she was told that if she did not attend they would not pay for her transportation from Arizona to California for future Camp Del Corazon (www.campdelcorazon.orgtrips. THIS truth she could not live with and decided to suck it up and go. And, as I write this Lucas and Jenny are on day two of what Lucas calls the best part of every summer.
In the end of that long ER night, Lucas hobbled out with no broken parts, just an elbow contusion, irritated-gross skin, and a brain full of lectures on helmets from doctors, nurses, and me. Exhausted, I drove home, happy to have had the precious time with my fifteen-year-old son  and amazed at how he is teaching me about "The God Part" of life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vacation Blues are the sign of a good time

It’s so cliché to say “I need a vacation from my vacation,”but we came back from Kauai exhausted, yet high as kites after all the adventure. 
My tekie hanging on for dear life!!
The Vacation Blues clouded my head for a bit. Our visit was packed with ziplining over valleys and rivers, kayaking for miles, hiking to waterfalls, Zodiac boating with dolphins along the Na pali coast, exploring Kuaui, partying at a yummy luau and viewing the fake-looking-perfect sights  everywhere(cue the swan).

In addition, we made new friends and I forced my guys to "shop" at Hilo Hatties. It just about killed them.  Whew! Daniel tried scuba diving and both boys discovered they love virgin pina coladas (what’s not to love?).

Did I mention that wild chickens roam Kuaui everywhere, and I mean everywhere you go? It's like a petting zoo.  Daniel playfully took it upon himself to catch a wild chicken or two. And, the Chicken Whisperer did it!
Just like home
We woke up to the crowing of many roosters.  Truth be told, my Tekie and I wore ear plugs, unlike Lucas, who opted to sleep outside on the patio listening to the tropical rains fall at night.
Nature lover or future bum? You decide.
I admit when we returned to California I felt a bit out of balance due to the time change,  but recalibrated after many naps and passing days.  It is key to stay in balance to enjoy life, no? YES!
We are the corny tourists in matching Hawaiian garb ;0)
My thirsty plants, the Weiner Sisters and brood of chickens (still alive, but one is molting), were happy to have us home ... and it is good to be back in our groove.
 It makes you appreciate the specialal times when you step out of the every-day routine for a stint. God's beautiful world is amazing!
A little slice of heaven
Being  home means that Fourth Grade (AKA: work) starts next week, my son is deep into band camp, laundry is piled high and my husband jumped back on his treadmill of work. I am  stealing away this weekend to Santa Barbara to spend time with my out-of-state cousins. All this before THE GRIND starts, and I still have  the vacation spirit alive in me.

Two miles kayaking followed by a hike and lunch. This is where we landed. Not so bad, eh?
 Visiting a Land of Oz is awesome, however, Dorothy was spot on when she said, "There's no place like home."  It is the best place to return to!

The 1,2,3's of scuba diving
When our money tree starts blooming, we will return to this magical “Garden Island.” For now I hope you enjoyed some of my photos from this once-in-a-lifetime family vacation! 
The Kuaui Krew
The Kauai week was  a cherished tropical blessing!