June 30, 2004
You Can Quote Me on That

I am a quote collector. I love a good quote. Some of my blog entries have started off with a quotation that I liked.

Here are some good ones that I came across today. I can envision an essay stemming from any one of them (hmm…maybe another time). Pondering a quotation can be a useful way to get yourself writing, blogging or journaling, for those of you who do so.

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.
-Benjamin Franklin

The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.
-Joe Ancis

Politeness is the art of selecting among one’s real thoughts.
-Madame de Stael

We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.
-Calvin Coolidge

Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who
you are.

-Ancient Chinese Proverb

Do you have a good quote you’d like to share?

June 28, 2004
Evaluate This

In the fall, my three year old will attend a two morning per week preschool while her sister goes to Kindergarten. My five year old will also be attending a pre-Kindergarten summer session starting next week (for 6 mornings) at the same preschool. Some of you may remember my adventures in registering the girls for school.

I just filled out a stack of paperwork for each daughter that is due to the preschool. How much data does the school really need? They are going to have quite a dossier on each girl by the time we’re done here.

I know why the school needs much of the requested information. I understand the need to provide them with emergency contact numbers, medical history, promises to pay the tuition, food likes and dislikes of each girl, and even details about their sleeping and eating schedules and what kind of rules we have at home.

Call me juvenile but I chuckled a little when asked what word each child uses for “bowel movement” and “urination” (“poo poo” and “pee pee”, for the record). Hey, I’m just getting ready for all the potty humor that’s supposedly coming my way once they’re school-aged.

Perhaps I’m a bad mother but I had some trouble remembering all of the developmental milestones that they quizzed me on: When did the child begin using single words to name things? Two or more words in combination? Age child began rolling over by him/herself? Stood with support? Stood up by him/herself? When did the child begin to smile? Feed him/herself? Dress him/herself? Is the child more or less active than the average child? What was the child’s first swear word? (Yes, I made that last one up. My five year old said, “Damn!” this morning, so we had to have a little chat about not saying that at the school.)

With some of the questions I had to come up with a concise response about the girls’ weak spots: Are there any things that the child is really afraid of? (bees and spiders. I don’t think I’ve helped in this regard). Any nervous habits? (thumb sucking). As I wrote that, I wondered if we grown-ups could so succinctly state our fears and nervous habits. I think I’d need more lines than what was provided on the form.

Other questions seemed a bit ridiculous to me. “What do you like best about your child?” Huh? Where do I begin? I think I put down “kind, funny, smart…shall I go on?” I was getting a little punch drunk after answering so many questions.

“What is the best way to get the child to do what you want him/her to do?” Well, bribery…er, incentives (yeah, that’s a better-sounding word).

They asked, “What is the best thing about this child’s behavior at home?”
The girls are really great kids so that question was pretty easy. Besides being kind and funny, J. is quite helpful (and has been eagerly learning how to do new household tasks) and S. is good at sharing and compromise (she’s a little sister so maybe that’s just survival).

But then: “What is the worst thing about this child’s behavior at home?”
With S., I had to think about it for a few minutes because she’s a pretty agreeable child. I ended up putting “stubborn”. But what parent hasn’t battled with a three year old about her clothing choices or her insistence on doing something her way? For J., I put “short tempered” and since she was there with me and we were sort of discussing some of the questions as a family, I explained to her what that meant. She quickly agreed with the assessment and said, “Yeah, when I don’t get what I want.” How many of us could so honestly evaluate ourselves?

What if we had similar questionnaires for our significant others? What is the best way to get him/her to do what you want him to do? What is the best thing about this person’s behavior at home? What is the worst thing about this person’s behavior at home? Answer these if you like.

And what word does he/she use for “urination”? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

June 25, 2004
Half a Party, Twice the Fun

With all of that talk of fabulous desserts, I actually had one last night. It’s was Ladies Night #2 and four of us shared a brownie torta (a brownie layer, a vanilla gelato layer and a chocolate frosting-like layer) at the end of the evening. Then tomorrow is Date Night with my husband (we got the babysitter) so there may be another restaurant treat for me. But that’s not all; on Sunday, we’re having a Half Birthday Party for our daughters.

Both of the girls were born within days of Christmas (in fact, we left the hospital on Christmas day with our first child). To the girls we say: sorry. You got screwed. Your birthday sucks. No one’s available to get together two days before Christmas or two days after. Your special days are inextricably bound up in the holiday hoopla. (And to anyone who’s saying, "Well, that’s some poor planning on your part," let me say that it wasn’t easy for us to get pregnant so we’ll take what we get and say thank you.)

To try to make up for this situation, we’re having a little family party to celebrate the girls turning three and a half and five and a half years old. Everybody knows how important it is for kids to recognize their ages in increments anyway--they’re so anxious to grow up. Sometimes I want to shake the girls (gently, of course) by their tiny shoulders and say, “Look. You know how you pretend to do homework everyday and you’re all excited about it? It’s not that great. It’s going to suck the fun out of your days for about 15 years of your life, so stop playing that.”

But back to what I was saying… at the half birthday party we’ll have cake. So that will be the third day in a row of dessert for me. If you need me for anything next week, I’ll be with Billy Blanks (doing Tae-bo). Each girl gets half a cake--see how that worked out with the party’s theme? I’ll also trim some candles down so that they get that half candle with their other three and five, respectively.

We’re giving them just a couple of presents plus some balloons, which they love and consider a toy anyway. Their main gift is going to be a set of walkie talkies (hand held radios). I think they’ll love that. They’re always playing with the baby monitor, which we still have set up so that we can hear the girls upstairs if they need us while we’re watching a movie downstairs at night. One of them runs upstairs and talks or sings into it while the other puts her ear to the receiver downstairs, just cracking up. Then they switch places. It took them awhile to realize that it wasn’t a two way situation, that the upstairs person can’t hear a thing that the downstairs person is saying. So I think the two-way radios will be a hit.

As the girls get older and probably very soon, since the older one is starting school this year, we’ll have to figure out a way to have “real” birthday parties (where they invite a bunch of friends). Maybe we’ll have the parties in early December before people get too tied up in holiday activities. Or maybe after their birthdays, like in January (although everyone is so burnt out on shopping and partying by then. Just ask my husband, whose birthday is January 6th). If anyone has any good suggestions, I’m open to hearing them. And maybe we can hold off on the dessert talk for awhile.

June 23, 2004
Virtual Dessert Party

I’m keeping it short and sweet today, pun intended. Come join me for a virtual dessert party--all are invited! You’re welcome even if you’re on a diet (perhaps you can live vicariously through my words).


~Key Lime Pie – I first had this in Key West, Florida where it originated. Nothing since has compared to that. But still, it’s usually very yummy.

~Strawberry Cheesecake – pretty much guaranteed to be good.

~Brownie sundae – easy to make at home too. I’ve made it for company (a good excuse to have it).


~Mint Chocolate Chip – as Kym at The Extraordinary Mundane recently reminded me, you can even buy mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches at Safeway. I so did not need to hear that.

~Cookies n Cream – crushed up Oreos, how delish. I love Oreo cookie shakes too. I made them all the time when I worked in an ice cream shop in high school.

~Cookie Dough – I curse my neighbors Del & Cindy for turning me on to this; I did NOT need another vice, thank you.


~Twizzlers – this is really no contest.

~Dots – but I really only like the red and pinkish ones, so a lot gets wasted.

~Reese’s peanut butter cups – I don’t usually buy these, but watch out at Halloween time.

How about you? What are you bringing to the party?

June 21, 2004
Back to School… Already?

Do you ever have dreams where you can’t find your classroom or your locker? Where you’ve missed or skipped important classes? Where you’ve got a big exam that you haven’t studied for?

Dreams about school and tests are apparently quite common, and I had another one recently. What do they mean? Dreams can mean different things to different dreamers, but here are some ideas from dream experts that may provide some insight.

Awhile back, I took some notes from a book I got at the library called Dream Power: How to Use Your Night Dreams to Change Your Life, by Cynthia Richmond. Richmond had an entertaining weekly dream-analysis column in the Los Angeles Times. She says that dreams of being back in school offer a lesson or learning opportunity, so pay attention to what is being taught.

Richmond states that being unprepared for an exam in a dream reflects the times in life when we have felt tested and unprepared. We fear failure, harsh judgment, and the criticism of strangers. Also, not doing what we should have or neglecting our responsibilities can result in a test dream.

She suggests that you ask yourself: What lesson should I be learning? Where in my life do I feel tested? How can I be better prepared? If I am prepared, how can I lessen this anxiety? Can I take measures to become more organized? What would I especially like to learn right now?

Charles McPhee, another dream authority who has written several books and has a radio show and an online column called Ask the Dream Doctor, offers some more ideas. He states that usually when we have these dreams we are nervous about completing some task in our present lives. “The reason why these dreams locate us back in time - to our high school or college math class, for example - is because emotionally we have the same feelings as we did back then, when we were nervous before a big test. The feelings we are experiencing in the present remind us of the feelings we used to have in the past.”

He says, “When you have a dream like this, try to locate what it is in your current life that has you running nervous - and wondering if you are going to be able to ‘pass the test.’ With practice, you soon will be able to locate the cause of these dreams. You may be worried about getting a work project completed on time, or perhaps you simply are concerned about completing all your errands tomorrow. Your dreams reflect some momentary self-doubts, but actually can serve as timely reminders to identify the next challenge, and to begin making preparations now - which will put your nerves to rest at the same time!”

To a reader who submitted her dreams of needing to take another class or still needing credits to get her diploma, he counsels, “Curiously, back to school dreams do not reflect a desire to return to school, nor do they reflect emotional trauma from our school years. Instead, the dreams reflect challenges in our current life—usually in a career or social context—about whether or not we will ‘graduate to the next level.’ What’s the connection? The pressure we feel today reminds us of how we used to feel back in high school or college before we took an exam: nervous, and wondering if we will ‘make the grade.’”

I found one more interesting thing this morning, from Know Your Dreams, Know Your Self: A Workbook by Pat and Jim Fregia. They believe that in dreams about school, the level of school can indicate the level of learning. That is, elementary school is lower level and high school (or college) is upper level. I’ll have to think about that because I know that my last few school dreams have taken place at the middle school and higher levels. So, I need to work through some upper level issues, I guess.

Have you ever had this type of dream? Or some other recurring dream? Any thoughts (besides the fact that I’m screwed up)?

June 18, 2004
70 Things We've Learned from the Movies

It’s Friday and I’m in the mood for some fun. Plus we’re off to a play date so I don’t have time to try to write anything profound. Therefore, I’m sharing an amusing list courtesy of Area 51 called, “70 Things We've Learned from the Movies”:

1) During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.

2) All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets which reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.

3) The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.

4) When paying for a taxi, don't look at your wallet as you take out a bill - just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

5) Kitchens don't have light switches. When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the fridge door and use that light instead.

6) Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.

7) A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of Wembley Stadium.

8) It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

9) A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

10) It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts - your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

11) Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.

12) An electric fence powerful enough to kill a large dinosaur will cause no lasting damage to an eight-year-old child.

13) If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.

14) It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.

15) Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German you need not speak the language. A German accent will do.

16) Even when driving down a perfectly straight road it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.

17) The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.

18) You're very likely to survive any battle in any war - unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.

19) A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince in agony when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

20) If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St. Patrick's Day parade- at any time of the year.

21) All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread.

22) It's easy for anyone to land a plane, providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.

23) Once applied, lipstick will never rub off - even while scuba diving.

24) Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning, even though the husband and children never have time to eat them.

25) Cars and trucks that crash will almost always burst into flames.

26) If a killer is lurking in your house, it's easy to find him. Just relax and run a bath - even if it's the middle of the afternoon.

27) Wearing a singlet or stripping to the waist can make a man invulnerable to bullets.

28) Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

29) All single women have a cat.

30) Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

31) One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at one.

32) Most people keep a scrapbook of newspaper cutting - especially if any of their family or friends has died in a strange boating accident.

33) When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your room will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.

34) Dogs always know who’s bad and will naturally bark at them.

35) When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

36) Action heroes never face charges for manslaughter or criminal damage despite laying entire cities to waste.

37) Whenever a natural or man-made disaster is about to occur, the hero escapes (alive) nano second before its too late and is catapulted into the air by the force- but is never harmed

38) No matter how badly a spaceship is attacked, its internal gravity system is never damaged.

39) If there is a deranged killer on the loose, this will coincide with a thunderstorm that has brought down all the power and phone lines in the vicinity.

40) You can always find a chainsaw whenever you're likely to need one.

41) All Americans have phones which can reach throughout the house-even if it has a cord. If its cordless- you can pick up perfect reception all around the house...unless there is a insane killer about.

42) All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they're going to go off.

43) Guns are like disposable razors - if you run out of bullets, just throw the gun away. You can always buy a new one.

44) Make-up can safely be worn to bed without smudging.

45) Building ventilation ducts are always clean.

46) Film stars are always super-human- they never need to use the bathroom

47) Any computer, anywhere, even in the jungle, can hack into the most secure government system.

48) Any aliens from outer space that you meet will speak your language.

49) No matter how many times you punch someone they will always come back for more - and their wounds have healed dramatically the next day

50) All telephone numbers in America begin with the digits 555.

51) All handcuffs can easily be opened with nothing more than a paper clip.

52) Grocery shopping bags are made out of brown paper and there is always enough shopping to fill two bags exactly.

53) If you need to open a locked door make sure you have a credit card handy, that will do. Unless it’s the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.

54) If you need to reload your gun, you will always have more ammunition - even if you haven't been carrying any before now.

55) If your town is threatened by an imminent natural disaster or killer beast, the mayor's first concern will be the tourist trade or his forthcoming art exhibition.

56) Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any invading alien civilization.

57) No one involved in a car chase, hijacking, explosion, volcanic eruption or alien invasion will ever go into shock.

58) When a person is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, they will never suffer a concussion or brain damage.

59) Large loft-style apartments in New York City are well within the price range of most people - whether they are employed or not.

60) At least one of a pair of identical twins is born evil.

61) Should you decide to defuse a bomb don't worry which wire to cut. You will always choose the right one.

62) Honest and hard working policemen are traditionally gunned down three days before their retirement.

63) If you are blonde and pretty, it is possible to become a world expert on nuclear fission at the age of 22.

64) Even if you've been set up for murder, been framed and you have the whole world wide police force hunting you down, you will automatically live happily ever after as long as you break away from the police and kill the bad guy.

65) If you desire to send any car into flame for any given reason, just shoot it three times, even though in real life you could stand right in front of a vehicle and shoot the gun into the gas tank, it wouldn’t ignite the fuel, only 1 or 2 bullets in the world can cause a spark, and it seems every police man in movies who blow up vehicles have those bullets!

66) Any woman who has just witnessed her father (brother, husband, family member etc.) killed right there in front of her, will never be traumatized, mourn, or be affected in any way to resist making love to the hero who saved her!

68) Why, when the hero of the movie gets the girl at the end, it seems like they will live happily ever after, yet he doesn’t even mention her name or remember her in sequels!

69) You never need to look up the phone number for the pizza delivery service and the delivery guy is always psychic -you never need to tell him where you live or what you want on your pizza.

70) After witnessing a horrible crime being committed- don't call the cops, instead conduct your own Private Eye investigation.

Do any of you movie lovers have something to add to the list?

June 16, 2004
The Phone Call

My five year old daughter got her first telephone call last night. The call was from her best friend, Max, who I’ve mentioned here before. They went to daycare together for four years until I became a stay at home mom about five months ago. They miss each other.

It was bizarre hearing my little daughter having a telephone conversation. At first it was cute. “Well, I had spaghetti for dinner too,” I could hear her say.

While J. is sad about no longer seeing Max everyday, she is happy being home with me and is getting involved in new activities. It soon became apparent, however, that Max is having trouble moving on. During the call he became insistent, begging her to comeback to Betty’s (daycare) in the morning. Over and over, he tried to convince her.

I could hear her side of the conversation and she was doing a good job of letting him down easy:

“If that’s ok with my parents.” [good answer, sweetie.]

“I’ll decide tomorrow in the morning.” [a white lie because she has no intention of going back to daycare.]

“But I don't really go to Betty’s anymore.” [laying her cards out finally]

“Well, the truth is I don’t really want to go to Betty’s.” [there you go]

“Why don’t you talk to Betty about meeting us at the park with the whole group?” [a practical solution]

He actually kept persisting, to the point of being a mini-stalker (where were the grown-ups on his side of the conversation?). He kept asking J. to give the phone to me or to K. so he could plead his case to her parents. She was glancing to us for help and we told her that we weren’t going to get on the phone (I’m not going to debate with a six year old) and that she could tell him goodbye.

I was so pleased to witness her poise and kindness. “It was nice to talk to you but I have to go. I hope to see you soon,” she said.

During the conversation and afterwards, I had a weird feeling. It was fun hearing her talk on the phone… but it seemed too soon. She’s just five—don’t I have a good six or seven years until she’s getting calls from friends and specifically from boys who adore her? I’m not prepared for this and I shouldn’t have to be.

Why am I really bothered about this, I wondered. As I thought about it, I realized that for all of my whining about the responsibilities of caring for two young children, I have to also admit that it’s a fun stage. They’re little and they do adorable things. And I basically control everything. Ah, perhaps now we’re getting to the crux of the matter.

Their total dependence on me allows me to make all of the major decisions—about which activities to sign them up for, what clothes to buy them, and which friendships to steer them toward and help develop. I mean, they get to make daily choices but ultimately what Mom says goes. They know that’s the way it is.

There will come a time, years from now when they’ll start making some of their own bigger decisions (with some guidance from me). They’ll also start having private telephone conversations with their friends. They’ll even have boyfriends. But just not yet, ok? I’m not ready!

June 14, 2004
How Do You Spell Relief?

The only way to do it is to do it.
--Merce Cunningham

Quick! Name five projects that, if done, would be a tremendous relief to you.

One of the things on my list—something I’m sick of thinking about, frankly—is the reorganization of my office. I guess that’s what it’s going to take for me to act: just being so tired of dwelling on the mess. There have been a few times where I’ve thought, ok, maybe I’ll go do it, but then….nah.

So today I decided to act, based on a sliver of motivation that was trying to blossom. I knew that I had to get going immediately—before blogging, before grocery shopping, before anything else that would divert my attention and steal the ounce of enthusiasm that I had going for this project.

My approach is to take everything off the desk (or empty the closet or whatever I’m reorganizing) and start from scratch. That helps me to see things anew and decide what I really want to be most accessible and which things can go. So I placed the contents of my desk on the floor and in laundry baskets and then I dusted all of the empty surfaces and computer equipment.

This is also referred to as the “now you’re really screwed method” because there is no turning back. There are giant piles of stuff everywhere that must be dealt with and I will go insane if this stuff sits around for too long (you can ask my husband about that).

I’m now taking a break after three solid hours of work. I’ve sorted through a ton of items, filed some things in new places and tossed many others. I’ve scanned our life insurance policy (honey, be nice to me…you’re highly insured, heh heh), put the cutest kid drawings in a box (anything with “I love you Mommy” on it stays) and have started to place certain carefully evaluated reference materials and office supplies back onto the desk.

I’m still sitting amongst a lot of stuff and there is plenty of work left to be done. Do you think some clean-up fairies will take care of it for me if I go have lunch? Oh well…I’m getting there, I’ve started.

June 11, 2004
I’m Too Tired To Think of a Title Today

Me: I’m kinda mad at you.

3 year old daughter, S.: Why?

Me: You woke me up three times last night to come and lie with you, then you came into our room at 6:15am and woke me up again. If you weren’t so sweet and cute and I didn’t love you so very much, you’d be in trouble…

S: [Smiles and pats me on the head.]

So at least we got that cleared up.

* * *

Since the girls slept late today (S. went back to bed after the 6:15am wakeup that she gave me), I actually had time to read the newspaper and do the crossword puzzle. Just the commuter version, not the New York Times. Please.

After doing them for a number of years I can tell you that the answer is always “aver”. Declare? (Aver.) State? (Aver) Assert? (Aver.) Crossword puzzle makers love that word. Learn it. And where were all the cute clues today? The best they had was pod dweller (pea). [Eye roll]

* * *

If you are a Leo, today is your day for love or lust (whatever your fancy). According to my newspaper, “You are so hot today that you sizzle…Love interests will be knocking at your door.” Then there’s my horoscope, for the ever-reliable Virgo, “You’ll have some great ideas when it comes to making your money grow.” Yeah, check out my bank balance, baby.

* * *

We’re going for take two on operation Meet the New Next Door Neighbors. K. has already met them and gave thumbs up for both the husband and the wife (cool!). They also have boys ages 2.5 years and nine months, so now our girls are no longer the youngest kids in the neighborhood. We baked brownies yesterday and tried to deliver them but the wife and kids, who usually seem to be around, weren’t home all afternoon.

5 year old daughter, J.: Are they home yet?

Me: Not yet. We’ll check again a little later.

J: Where are they??

Me: I don’t know, honey.

J: Can we play with them inside their house?

Me: I don’t know. We’re just going over to introduce ourselves and give them the brownies. I’m not sure if they’ll invite us in or not.

J: When are they coming home??

Me: I’m not sure….But if they don’t get back soon, we can always go over tomorrow instead.

J: [anguished] Noooooo.

Me: I’ll go check and see if their car is in the driveway yet.

J: Maybe they’re parked in the garage.

Me: No, I don’t think so. They usually park in the driveway.

J: Why would they do it that way?

Me: Some people keep a lot of things in their garages and there’s no room for their car.

J: Can we go over there now?

We’re heading over there again before lunch today, I can assure you. With such little sleep last night, I can’t stand another interrogation.

* * *

I called our regular babysitter last night—a teenage girl who lives two houses down the street—to see if she can babysit on an upcoming Saturday night (any one! make it soon!). She’s going to get back to me, so cross your fingers please. K & I really want to have a Date Night with grown-up food and grown-up conversation and grown-up alcohol. By the way, it turns out that the babysitter is in the Sparkle and Shine production mentioned in the previous post. She’s in the jazz number called “Fever.” Her little sister is also in the 9 year old tap dancing group. Small world.

June 09, 2004
Sparkle & Shine

"Have you ever been to the ballet?"
"No, but I've seen people on tiptoes."
- Elaine and Jerry (yes, that’s two posts in a row with
Seinfeld references)

Yesterday, I attended the final rehearsal for my five year old’s dance recital titled “Sparkle and Shine,” which takes place this weekend. There are about 40 groups of dancers (ranging from age 4 to high school seniors) performing in the two and a half hour show, doing either ballet, tap or jazz dancing.

We drove an hour to the auditorium where the show will take place, so that J. and her dance-mates would become familiar with the stage and their instructor could make any last minute adjustments in positions or choreography. It also would give them a chance to perform in front of people, as based on ticket sales there will be an audience of over 1,000 people at the show.

The rehearsal was the first time that many of the girls in J.’s group of twelve were ever on the stage. They looked so small up there facing out over the endless rows of floor level and upper balcony seats. After two run-throughs of their routine, it was evident that Sparkle & Shine needs a bit more spit polish. If I were to write an early review, I would have to say, “The dancing is extraordinarily and heart-stoppingly fantastic whimsical awful.”

I’ll mention that J. did very well. The instructor praised her and another girl at one point…all of the others were about 45 steps ahead of the music. I cringed as the fluttering dancers got bunched up, practically causing each other to fall over. ("In every respect, by virtually any standards this is truly a technically strong an inexperienced and stylistically secure artistically challenged company.")

Perhaps the show’s adorable cast will make up for the less than spectacular dancing? J. and the rest of her group are supposed to be clown dolls. Their costumes consist of a leotard with cotton candy pink and white vertical stripes down the front and pink polka dots on the collar and the skirt, a giant poofy pink tutu, a matching hair ribbon, white gloves, light pink tights and leather ballet shoes. ("What they lack in technical assets, they make up for in cuteness.”)

I’m only familiar with a few of the other groups—the classes that I saw in coming and going to weekly lessons at the dance school over the last nine months. The rehearsal schedule listed abbreviated names of the various dances and looking over the chart, I think I can detect the show’s theme (there are toy dancers, shoppers, dolls, and shopkeepers). However, I also see dances on the chart called “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Super Spy” and “Toxic”. Toxic? Isn’t that a Britney Spears video where she’s bathing nude in a trove of diamonds and jewels and emerges in a black leather dominatrix cat suit? (“A show both flashy and innocent.”)

There’s a Saturday night show and a Sunday matinee, so factoring in travel time and extra early arrivals for the dancers to prepare, I’ll be living at the auditorium this weekend. I’ve already warned the relatives who are coming to watch the show that they should keep their expectations low for J’s group. Still, our video cameras will be out, we’ll have smiles on our faces and we will thoroughly enjoy watching J. performing her little heart out. (“The show’s adorable cast and breathtaking dancing add up to a fun, fabulous show!")

June 06, 2004
10 Highlights, Lowlights & Observations

Told you I’d be right back. It was a short trip out of town, but I have a few things to report:

1. Best dining experience: The Forge in the Forest restaurant in Carmel, CA. We ate there on our first night and nothing lived up to it afterwards. This restaurant is a favorite of the locals and was busy even on a Wednesday night (voted the "Best Outdoor Dining" location every year since 1992). They have an extensive menu of American food and a fabulous dining setting of outdoor patios amongst lush gardens, a forest of overhanging trees and an outdoor brick and stone fireplace to keep you warm on a cool evening. The food was great, our waitress was funny and the atmosphere was relaxing even with the kids along. The drinks were a bonus, as the waitress steered me to a nice wine by the glass (after frankly and humorously informing me which ones she didn’t care for) and K. had a beer that the waitress sold as a cross between a Sierra Nevada pale ale (his favorite) and a bass ale. (You had him at “hello”.)

2. Second place restaurant: The next best place was the Chart House on Cannery Row. Great Bay views and we loved the mini kettles of clam chowder. Still a distant second to The Forge in the Forest.

3. Music lovers welcome. After the first day of my husband’s seminar, there was a sponsored jazz and art night party overlooking the Del Monte golf course. People strolled, chatted and ate amongst local artists’ works while listening to a live jazz show. The band was excellent and everybody oohed and ahhed when the saxophonist played both of his saxes (one silver and one gold) at the same time during one song. The guy created a beautiful harmony by playing the two instruments at once, and it seemed like it was no big deal to him even though everyone else was surprised. The patio was decorated with colorful blow-up instruments and the girls each picked a saxophone and “played” along with the musicians from a few feet away. The band loved the attention.

4. As predicted, the sleeping sucked. I must say that the girls did their part; they didn't stay up too late and they remained in their own bed all night. Still, I slept poorly. As mentioned, my husband and I are not used to a tiny double bed (we have a giant king at home), and there’s something about sleeping somewhere new that always takes me a while to get used to. Then there are the facts that our room was next to the exterior entrance so that the door would bang shut as people came and went, that our phone rang in the middle of the night waking us up once we finally had fallen asleep, and that whenever the guy upstairs moved—and he was a constantly mobile kind of guy—there was a creaking sound so loud that I thought our ceiling would cave in. Oh, and the spiders! There seemed to be an abundance of them in our room. *shudder*

5. The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Always a crowd pleaser and the girls and I got our money’s worth during our visit. We saw it all: the sharks exhibit (click here for the live shark cam), including sting rays; glowing jellyfish of all shapes and sizes viewed in darkened rooms (including some that changed their beautiful colors right before your eyes); sea otters; octopuses (or “octopi”—I checked the dictionary and both are the proper plural form of octopus, by the way); penguins who happily hammed it up for the kids; touch pools of starfish and other things that children can feel; and a kids’ play area where the girls stayed for almost an hour, dressing up in costumes of various sea creatures while climbing in tunnels and going down a slide. We even saw “Dory” and “Gill” from Finding Nemo—that is, the real fish that those characters were based on. The resemblance of the animated fish to the real ones was uncanny; I expected to hear the voices of Ellen Degeneres and Willem Dafoe from behind the glass at any moment.

6. Seinfeld reruns. I shrewdly brought along two new toys for the girls (sticker books), which I allowed them to open and play with when I needed a break. While they were happily working on their projects, I stumbled upon some really old episodes of Seinfeld on the hotel TV. Don’t you miss the gang talking about stuff? In the case of the two episodes that I saw, about dating and relationships:

George: I don't want hope. Hope is killing me. My dream is to become hopeless. When you're hopeless you don't care. And when you don't care, that indifference makes you attractive."

Jerry: So, hopelessness is the key?

George: It's my only hope.


Elaine: Your standards are too high.

Jerry: I went out with you.

Elaine: That's because my standards are too low.


Elaine: The point, George, is she likes you."

George: Oh, so what. I'd rather she hate me and thought I was good looking.

7. Room service. Sometimes it actually is appropriate to spend $17 on a few pieces of toast, a bagel, and two glasses of milk. Like when you can’t fathom corralling two young children to go out to yet another restaurant to eat. And when one of those children isn’t feeling so well. After the toast, a warm bath (kids seem to love taking baths at new places) and some snuggling, we achieved revival and were ready to go to the nearby Denis the Menace Park. Designed by the creator of Dennis the Menace, this park has all sorts of unique attractions, like strange slides, a suspension bridge, an old steam locomotive, a living maze and tunnels. Afterwards, we found a Safeway where I picked up some food that we could eat in the hotel room at more reasonable prices.

8. The Case of the Missing Coworker.* A newer employee from my husband’s firm also attended the seminar, but he went MIA after the first night. Last seen around 1:30a.m. at the hotel’s sports bar (while drunk and almost getting into a fight), he didn’t show up to the next day’s classes. We chalked it up to a bad hangover, but then the guy didn’t show up to the next day’s classes either. On the drive home, my husband started to worry that maybe something happened to him. So, once we got home we called the hotel to see if the guy had checked out—since by then the seminar was over and we knew that he wasn’t planning on staying any extra days. The front desk clerk advised us that he had not checked out. Uh-oh. Then we got a hold of housekeeping, worried that maybe something happened to him (was he in his room, possibly ill or hurt? Did he ever make it back to his room after that drunken night? Was he in trouble?). After a second call to housekeeping, we confirmed that his belongings were no longer in the room—which we took as a good sign, as we figured that it meant he must have left, even though he didn’t officially check out of the hotel. Hopefully, everything is fine… but this person has a history of some odd behavior and has no family to wonder about his whereabouts. I will be very interested to hear what K. finds out at work tomorrow about the mysterious disappearance.

[*see the comments section below for an UPDATE]

9. Where’s a motorcycle when you need one? My five year old is now into playing car games with us while her younger sister naps. So, during our ride home she and K. and I each tried to be the first person to spot a red car or a street sign with a letter T or a vehicle carrying a pet. When it was my turn I suggested that we try to find a motorcycle, a seemingly easy task, especially since we have to cross a bridge to get home and there always seems to be some motorcyclists looking for a way to sail through the bridge backup. But can you believe there were no motorcycles during the last 45 minutes of our drive home? What’s up with that? At least it made the drive go faster searching for them though.

10. Coming home is nice. Trips are fun but it’s good to be home again. We returned to a sunny day, so the girls played outside in the kiddie pool while we got things in order (including checking our answering machine messages—and if your name is Jose and you’re looking for your truck, there’s a lady who’s looking for you). Tired of restaurant food (who’d have thunk it?), I picked up a healthy dinner of a rotisserie chicken, some corn on the cob, French bread and fresh strawberries, all for $12.79. Delish and cheap. I also returned to the many blog comments that you left me…so nice to come home to, thanks!

June 01, 2004
Be Right Back

I’m going to be here for the rest of the week, so I won’t be blogging* for a few days.

*A slight digression here. I have to mention that on a recent Law & Order SVU episode (we taped it and just got around to watching it last night), they tracked down a suspect and investigated the crime through the person’s blog! The character, played by actress Marlee Matalin, had a blog and through the comments section, where a reader and she chatted, the police were able to make their case. Yikes! Be careful what you’re blogging about, kids.

Before you tell me how lucky I am, be advised that this is not a romantic getaway to the self-proclaimed “most luxurious of Monterey hotels” with my husband. It’s a business trip for him; the girls and I are tagging along. That means he’s in catered meetings all day while I tend to a three and a five year old on two hours of sleep (that’s me on two hours of sleep, they sleep fine).

We’re used to a king sized bed at home, but with the kids along we have to get a room with two doubles. So K. and I get one of the doubles and grumble about how crowded it is and the girls get the other one, in which they’re frolicking loudly while their parents are trying to watch TV before going to sleep. We also end up switching spots in the middle of the night, so that I’m with the younger child, who takes over the bed and sprawls all over me, and he’s with the older one, who snores like an old man (allergies).

Did I mention that I’m crabby when I sleep poorly? And that I’ll be the only parent caring for them all day? Did you ever notice how family vacations are never really relaxing for the grownups?

But seriously, it will be nice to get away and have fun. I’m taking the kids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is fabulous even for adults. We can also can go to the beach (if it’s not too foggy) or hang out at the hotel pool (the girls can’t swim yet but they love pools, which is so relaxing for me) or shop or whatever. And, a definite bonus: this will be the first family trip where I don’t need to bring any diapers or pull-ups. Yes, we have a fully-potty trained family, hooray!

I need to sign off now, since this is what I have to accomplish today in preparation for leaving tomorrow:

exercise (got up early and did this before kids woke up)

• three loads of laundry

• pay the bills (can you believe it’s June 1st already?)

• return stuff to the library


• ballet rehearsal for daughter

• clean up the house (so as not to return home to a mess)

• call to have newspaper stopped

• call neighbor friend to grab our mail for a few days

• start packing my things

• start packing the kids’ things

• start packing general paraphernalia and equipment (stroller, camera, sand toys, etc.)

• husband can pack his own crap (but I will get his clothes washed for him)

• order one of his father’s day presents from amazon.com so that it arrives on time (the girls are each getting him a music CD). We already got his bigger present yesterday at Nordstrom’s.

• and of course, do all of the regular day-to-day things, like make lunch and dinner, help the girls do stuff, and read other people’s blogs when I should be doing the things on this list.

Isn’t getting ready for traveling fun??

See you soon!