33 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

… and the idea is to list the things you probably don’t know about me.
  1. I had a pet chicken named Peeper. She was a banny hen and she laid green eggs.
  2. When I was little I named the shadows in my bedroom so I wouldn’t be afraid. The big one’s name was Fat Albert.
  3. Growing up I idolized Bailey on WKRP in Cincinnati and I wanted to grow up and be like her. I thought the pairing of jeans with a tweed blazer was brilliant.
  4. I am the survivor of more than one bad perm.
  5. Children's movies make me emotionally uncomfortable.
  6. I rarely get bored, I have a very rich inner life and can self entertain at a moments notice.
  7. I joined the Army from a job fair at a West Covina shopping mall. Signed up as an Interogator/Interpretor all set to go to Monterey Language School and then Intelligence Training in Texas. Then I changed my mind.
  8. After being certified by the Library of Congress as a Braille transcriber I went on to learn how to braille foreign language textbooks and later Nemeth Code, the Braille code for Mathematics and science notation.
  9. I really don’t care for snakes.
  10. I studied method acting intensely for about 3 years. It has ruined going to the movies for me. Much drama just reminds me of bad acting lessons.
  11. I am adopted and have written my birthmother a letter and she never wrote back.
  12. I follow my birthmother’s niece's husband on Twitter … he has no idea I am the love child of his wife’s aunt … he just thinks Darin and I are really friendly. I often wonder if I will ever be able to reveal the reason for that follow.
  13. I am really funny (or so I think) but it’s so irreverent and inappropriate I only dare share with Darin.
  14. I once completed a 30 day juice fast.
  15. I have crossed the county 3 times by train 3 times by car and numerous times by plane.
  16. I have been engaged 3 times and married twice.
  17. Right before I met Darin I was about to move to a cabin in Ojai to live with my dog and cat.
  18. In 1985 I toured the (then) Soviet Union with my high school choir and Elizabeth Von Trapp.
  19. I am 100% phone shy. I am trying to overcome this.
  20. Darin and I tried for 5 years and gave up on getting pregnant, especially after turning 40, then Kate came.
  21. My parents were at one time the Vice Presidents of the Central Vermont Squares and my Mom was a hooker … (square dancing and rug hooking).
  22. I said my first word on the day man landed on the moon. My first word was “tree.” I was 9 months old and I remember that day.
  23. As as child I would make up my own codes all the time. I coded my diary because I was sure my mother was reading it.
  24. If I had to do it all again I would study architecture or become a cartoonist.
  25. I am not a strong swimmer.
  26. I loathe the saying “it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”
  27. I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan.
  28. I am an ISFJ according to the Meyers Briggs Personality Test and I think it is amazingly accurate.
  29. I prefer to go to movies alone because then I don't have to worry about the other person not enjoying the movie.
  30. I have never been to Mexico.
  31. I didn't have my own car until I was 36. I rode a mountain bike everywhere.
  32. Ellis Island stories fascinate me.
  33. Sometimes I miss the snow.

Baby Sign Language Basics Arrived

A day early, it arrived a day early! The book I ordered on baby sign language. I am very excited about this. Here is the idea, children understand language far earlier than they can speak. Sign language bridges the gap and starting as early as 6 months you can start signing to your child and they will in time sign back. I so want to know what Kate is thinking. I clearly remember following the conversation of the adults at 9 months. I know we don't give them the credit they deserve.

So now I am reading up on how to integrate the signs into our daily life. I know Ella will help me. We are going to pick some routine signs and some signs of items that really excite her. Just like training a puppy or a husband you have to keep it fun and not work.

Just like the baby tapes this is one of those things I was so excited about experiencing and its happening now. That is pretty wonderful stuff, pretty wonderful stuff.

Taste Life Twice

Never did I ever think the clinking of plastic bobbles could fill me with giggling joy. But it's true. I hear her across the room as I sit at the computer and she is gurgling and cooing and clinking.

It wasn't too long ago I remember a friend telling me how her baby was swinging on her own. I thought to myself ... you've had that baby a while now and all it can do is swing? But that was before. I do wonder sometimes if I am completely annoying some people with my over zealous 'it's all baby all the time.'

But to tell you the truth if I had to do it all over again so far the only thing I would do differently is to take more pictures, write more posts, share more video. And while I have wondered if taking time out to do these things takes away from the moment I have decided it doesn't. It doesn't take away from the moment if you make taking the moment your way of life.

I count the weeks these days. I count them every time someone asks how old she is. The number changes so fast it makes my head spin. We are screaming through those developmental changes. She has already changed so much.

Taking pictures, writing, recording video ... its the only way I know to slow it down and savor the moment twice.

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." -- Anais Nin

Tasting life twice ... it's not just for writers anymore.

See her in action!

Happy Horsemanship Nurture or Nature?

Will Kate love horses?
Happy Horsemanship was my favorite book growing up. I loved horses. I took riding lessons at a stable down the road. My pony, Sugar Cookie, was a Chincoteague Pony from Chincoteague Island, Virginia.

My room was full of horse statues. At school I had my "horse friends" and we would play with our horses till the bell rang. I would even pretend my bike was my horse. Every Saturday morning I accompanied my Dad to the Southern States Feed Store and had my lead and bridle picked out, purple of course, for the day I would get my horse.

I dreamed of horses and of the day when I was a grown up because I would have 12 children and each child would have their own pony. I have since changed my ideal family size but I am left to wonder if Kate will love horses.

You see its genetic, this love of horses.

I shouldn't even know this but with the internet I have done a lot of research and discovered that my birthmother and the other females in her family loved their horses. They trained in dressage and actively trained their own horses and had their own ponies as children.

That was such an exciting discovery. Could love of horses be genetic?

They have an annual roundup. I am thinking this should be on my bucket list.

Don't Hold Back

a 8 track music mix to tuck away for rainy days

Meet My Blog Roll

My Blogging Buddies are listed at the side of my blog. I am proud of my collection. They are all IRL (in real life) people that I like to read. Some post more often than others but it's always good stuff.

On my blog they are listed in dynamic order, so whomever posts most recently will receive top billing on the list. It's a quick way for me to eyeball my friends' activity and keep in touch. Of course I run an RSS feed on them but this is visual and immediate.

As you can image, because of his prolificness Darin is generally at the top of my blog roll. And just like is my personal blog is Darin's personal blog. His topics range wildly from media from our days at home in San Clemente to eastern philosophy, local politics, surfing, music anything that catches his eye and is caught by his iPhone or Nikon or Flip.

Maria Brophy
Maria is my friend and fortunately for me Maria is also a smart, kickass, make no compromises business lady. Maria and her husband Drew and son Dylan are inspirational.  I am always learning from them. I turn to Maria's blog for inspiration on creating my life. Maria reminds me of the core business principles which lead to success and reminds me that each of us is responsible for creating our own dreams. So as the Brophys drive around in the "Dream Machine" the updates and inspirational posts help to fuel my own journey.

Ella's blog, because a look into the perspective of Ella is the best thing in the world. It also proves that a 9 year old can blog. We all have things to share and document.

Many moons ago Cheryl and I would find ourselves rolling rock in hand shooting pool at various Burlington, Vermont establishments. Cheryl is smart and creative. She comes from a strong culinary line, you see Cheryl's parent were the owners of the Five Spice Cafe in Burlington, Vermont. That restaurant with it's mock duck dumplings and plum sauce was so far ahead of its time and to top it off Cheryl's mom was named Ginger. I always thought that was fitting. Now Cheryl blogs, cooks and raises her two sons with fun and food. She is witty and sharp and always doing productive fun stuff and it's usually organic.

Lisa M
Lisa M is my time capsule of sorts. You see not that many years ago, well actually make that decades ago, Lisa and I would go to all kinds of vacation spots throughout the midwest with her parents. We were in the backseat journaling and collecting stickers. Lisa's dad was a graphic artist and we would use his left over supplies to make signs and pictures.

Now Lisa is a travel writer. I can hear her voice with every post reminding me of all the fun stuff to do in Minnesota and all the cool independently owned shops with their unique crafts and regional specialties. It's like getting nostalgic for the present.

Again keeping it in the family, Linda is a great video blogger and her material is always so well done. An avid hiker, Linda posts her hikes in the Palm Desert area with lots of helpful information and media. Flowers, birds, food and grandchildren are documented with the creativity and the artistry of Spielberg. If you don't believe me check out Kate's birth announcement. But then everything that GrammaLinda does is done well.

Dianes posts are like little vignettes. Little crafted moments sharing her thoughts and commentary on life and parenting in LA, more specifically Malibu. From the beach to the boardroom, Diane gives you a peek into her life and musings as a CEO of a national temp staffing company and the mother of three little girls. She's a reader, a thinker, a traveler and she cooks too.

Liz taught me how to do a proper lunge but more importantly Liz taught me how to do a proper lunge while laughing hysterically. Liz is awesome and certified in Pilates and as a Personal Trainer. Now Liz is off to nursing school and moved to Carlsbad. I miss her and could use some lunges as my backside has not been engaged in any sculpting activity for quite some time. I miss you Liz.

At 16 Tammy and I sat under a tree and she told me she was going to be a writer when she grew up. In college her cat had kittens and that is how Olivia came into my life. Now Tammy writes novels, teaches writing classes and is mother to two adorable little girls. "Into the Tugleywood" is her commitment to taking an hour everyday to play.

A Couple Minutes Of Kate

My latest snippet of Kate. Now granted the "Kate By The Minute" project was initially going to only include one minute clips. I ran this one a bit long because she was just getting warmed up.

The "Kate A Minute" or "Kate By The Minute" project (there was some confusion about the name) is simply a YouTube playlist which features snipets of video approximately one minute in length added in chronological order to document Kate.

"Kate By The Minute" YouTube Playlist

Playlists are fun!

Why I Will Write

If you are going to wait for inspiration to write you will alway short change yourself. Writing, posting a picture, sharing a thought. It takes practice. It takes experimentation. It takes time. 

The art of articulation can't rely on inspiration. Because as I read on Twitter "if you can't write it down, you don't have an idea."

But to learn how to articulate our thoughts takes practice. It takes practicing every day. And some of it is going to suck. Tolerating how much you suck is really the problem.

You can't just wait for what you want to say to burst out of you because you are inspired anymore than you are going to sit down at a piano and play because you are just really feeling it.

Write today. Don't you want to be at your most articulate, especially when that inspiration does hits.

So I will be writing and posting everyday in 2011. Wanna play?

The Artifice Threshold

The Artifice Threshold 
A term to explain the phenomenon that some can wear bleach blonde hair, black eyeliner and fire engine red lipstick and it just works. People accept it. It works in the morning, it works in the evening, it works so well we can't imagine the person without it.

But others wear makeup and we end up look like a 12 year old dressing up for Halloween. Struggling with why this happens I have decided that some of us simply have a low Artifice Threshold. We just don't do artifice well.

Shoes Made for Walking

On my way home from Trestles I lost my shoe. Somewhere on the beach between Trestles and the Pier my tennis shoes fell from my bike never to be seen again.

And that was a while ago. Soon after that I discovered I was pregnant, the vomiting set in, then the bedrest. Needless to say the athletic trainers (as the Brits would say) were never replaced. I have been living on flip flops.

But I am returning to active life for now I have new shoes.

Let the walking begin.

5 Weeks Today

Kate outgrew an outfit. It seems amazing to me but her legs are now too long to fit into the footed pajamas. Fortunately I recognized this when sorting all her clothes and I do think I did a good job of sorting the sizes. But still I am confronted with the reality that she will never be that small again. I start to fathom how precious this time is.

Your BFF

And BFF is for ... Breast Feeding Friend
The cupcakes crack me up.

I am on a bit of an app kick as I try to get things done from the boppy. Realizing that I need to start forming a schedule I checked the app store to see if anything could help me out.

While it is clear what the cupcakes represent I am still struggling with how to assign left and right.

My Dream Kitchen iPhone App

I am not kidding when I say I dream of having an optimally organized kitchen. And while I have been intrigued and entertained by productivity and kitchen iPhone apps none ever makes the whole journey for me.

My idea for the ultimate kitchen iPhone app incorporates apps that I have used but goes one step farther by creating one multifunction app which takes the entire journey from shopping for your food to landing the meal on the table and keeping your kitchen properly stocked. Handy cooking and food storage information should be stored within the app for convenient reference.

These are my suggestions. Please go forth and improve on them. Let me know when it's uploaded to the app store so I may purchase it. I thank you in advance. I am available for testing. :)

Keeping a proper inventory is the first function of the app. To make it really cool I want a little augmented reality. Could I just wave my iPhone over my cupboards and closets to see a list of what should be there. Kind of like the Layar app for iPhone.

In the inventory dashboard I would like to keep track of the item, the minimal amount to keep on hand before repurchasing, expiration date, date purchased, storage information, recipe and usage suggestions, freshness cues to look for when purchasing and maybe list the season.

If we could enter the item into the inventory via use of the scanner code that might be nice as well. (Again, I thank you.)

Next I select the recipes I would like to make and the ingredients are then compiled in a shopping list.

Once an item is listed I would like the option to mark the item as having no brand preference or selecting a brand. You see on some items I just want the cheapest, distilled vinegar for example. If I am shopping for balsamic vinegar I am not going to buy the cheapest. I have my favorites. Maybe I would like to try a recommendation, in that case a social or review facet would be lovely. I also like to read reviews from sources like Consumer Reports and America's Test Kitchen. How could that be incorporated.

Before going shopping I can look through my kitchen and take note of any staples which need to be purchased. The list is right there in my phone for whenever I may find myself out and able to swing by the store.

For planned shopping trips select your stores. Maybe you just want to take time to visit Ralphs so only check Ralphs. If you want to compare more prices select more than one store. 

The app will select your best deals and any coupons or specials running.

Plan your shopping trip using the app. Check off your purchases as you shop. You can also export your list and email to someone else.

Am I missing anything?

Give It A Year

1/11/11 Marks a year of great change.

It has been a year.

I have heard myself comfort friends with the words "give it a year." I say this because I am always amazed at the unexpected changes one year can bring.

Looking back I see my trip back to Vermont not one of grieving but one of reconnecting with family. A dream that I had long given up on came true, that of being with both my brothers in the same room, at the same time. I remember listing that dream in one of those "list your dreams exercises." I had listed it and quickly scratched it off ... it was absurd and probably a bit naive to think that could ever happen. But it did. And better, I have pictures to prove it.

My cousins, my aunt, childhood friends, all those voices and familiar faces surrounding you. The people who remember you when you were little. The people who can tell you the missing parts of your story. I sat at Nectars and watched Darin eat gravy soaked fries while I chugged a micro brew. I drove past my high school. I watched my family and community grieve. All at the same time, the wonderful, the sad, the heart felt, the silly, the bartender at the hotel bar. The emotional rawness of the trip seems to paint the memories in technocolor.

This year with Kate's arrival I have felt closer to my Mom than ever, after all Kate is my little "Lightning House Story," but that is a story for another time.

"To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage." - Lao Tzu 

Sisterly Love

Sometimes things work out better than you had ever expected.

I didn't know how Ella would take Kate's arrival. I knew she was excited but I didn't know how the adjustment to the daily demands would treat her. Ella has never had to share her Daddy or the spotlight and I just didn't know if this was going to be difficult.

Darin and I decided that it might be a fun for just him and Ella to go to Disneyland. Our neighbor has worked there for 30 years and treats us to free entry using his pass. A Daddy and daughter day for just them to be together. Of course Ella was excited, but her first question was ... "but when will Kate be able to go."

Then there was the phone. I noticed that Darin had a picture of Kate on his phone. Worried that this might make Ella feel bad I suggested that he really should use a picture of both Ella and Kate. Ella saw the picture and her response was far from what I had feared. She immediately squealed that the picture was so cute. She wanted a copy too, so she could use it on her iTouch.

It's still early and the novelty of changing diapers has not faded. But there is an adoring love that Ella has for her little sister. She dotes on her, sings to her and holds her for hours.

Watching them together just fascinates me.

Here is a post Ella shared about her sister.

Kate A Minute

Time is already moving so quickly. So to capture a minute here or there and weave them together using a playlist on YouTube. A minute of Kate, or around a minute, little videos strung together in chronological order.

Let's watch her grow.

Kitchen Cupboard Dreams

Today I ripped everything out of the cupboards and never put it back. I'd like to say this is the worst my kitchen has looked. This may be debatable.

I've had this dream of having an organized kitchen, a systemized organized machine that would keep staple items stocked but fresh. To never waste a vegetable. To never pass an expiration date.

To have my kitchen stocked and ready to cook. No tool or gadget duplication. Minimalist and elegant. Designed like a boat. Nothing extra, nothing missing.

Till then I am going to have to live with imperfection. With noodles cavorting with breakfast cereal instead being shelved in clearly distinguishable categories.

2011 A Practice in Prolificness

Okay, I am in. I will make the commitment to daily posts in 2011.

Now part of me feels foolish. To make this commitment while a newborn has just entered our home feels overly optimistic. But maybe that is the perfect time. I hear her cooing in the background and I do know this time is precious. With the tools in my pocket capturing the moment doesn't take that much effort.

"It doesn't have to be "War & Peace" Darin always reminds me.

And part of turning it up to 11 in 2011 will be a commitment to post daily. To capturing random moments, telling stories for the sake of telling them, pressing the publish post button with abandon and just doing it.