Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thanks for Sharing

Not only is Sheri the mama mastermind behind the latest (and coolest) photo contest out there but she is also responsible for a number of other virtual gems like Mamazine and Today is Pretty. She's just one of those all around creative ladies who shares her talents with the world and we are better for it.

In her recent post at The Little Zygote that Could, (my Perfect Post Award nominee) I felt her ache, her longing for more. More expression, more time, more of her old life. She recognizes that both she and her artist hubby "are stuck. Seeking. Wanting. Desiring. Feeling trapped without time or money for our own creative outlets." Sigh.

Sheri expresses a very universal dilemma among creative people that happen to be parents. I know, I've been there. And it's not pretty. But, as she says in her post, she's got no answers. And I'm not sure I have any either. Taking turns? Scheduling time? Putting it off until the kids have grown? None are ideal. But through the years I have found that subscribing to a little magic (much like her caterpillar dreams and butterflies) helps. Like, if you want it bad enough, and are willing to work together to get there, keep those stars in your eyes and breathe deep that anything is possible.

For other Perfect Post Nominees pop over to the hostesses with the mostesses (huh?) Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Magic Kingdom

When my girls dress up, it feels like the house is transformed into a place of magic, dirty dishes and all. There's just something about the wings!

Be sure to fly over to Picture This and leave a comment over there if you'd like a chance to win a copy of The Disney Princess Enchanted Tales DVD.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday's Feature me. And my books!

And if you all don't know Gabrielle (Design Mom) yet, pop over and get to know her. She is divine in a million different ways. I am beyond honored to be featured on her fabulous blog and am all aglow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Whisper, Not a Scream

I've been meaning to read The Teen Whisperer since I got it to review for The Parent Bloggers Network. I loved the name and thought I might as well get a good book shelf resource for my future with a teen. Admittedly when I agree to review these kinds of books, I use it as way to hold myself accountable to actually read the book instead of putting it off until I feel like I need the book. I mean my daughter is only 9 which doesn't even mean she's officially a tween, let alone a teen but hey, I'm thinkin' you can't start too soon. Especially when she and I have had noticeable communication breakdowns that feel like the little flames that could quickly rage into infernos in the teen years. And that scares me senseless. If we're locking shoehorns at Payless already (not just once but every single time we try to buy her shoes) I can't imagine what might fuel the fire at 14, 15 or 16.

As I picked up Mike Linderman's book I noticed first thing that the forward was written by the lovely and talented Claire and Mia Fontaine of the highly acclaimed and best selling Come Back. Talk about your credibility. I immediately thought, "Hmm, maybe this guy really is The Teen Whisperer." But as I began to read I still wasn't sure the book would be right for me or for my daughter. I was anticipating the book to take a trip down the path of the teens that had already been long gone and the families that were going through hell but as I really got into it, I was surprised at how much of what Linderman shares does in fact pertain to me and to my daughter. Right now. Coming from a gal who rarely is riveted by a book, I. Cannot. Put. This. Book. Down.

What I love about The Teen Whisperer is how straight forward the content is presented. Simply put, teen needs (which are nothing more that Universal human needs) are broken down into the basics and everything relates back to these needs and whether they are being met or not. It all seems to make sense to me. And here I thought that life with a teen wouldn't make any sense at all. Now, I would imagine if I were coming to this book because I was in full teen crisis mode, I might not use the word simple because I know (and the author repeats again and again) it's not simple to navigate life with a teen but I marvel at Linderman's ability to strip down this complex relationship stuff and clear the muddied waters. I quite honestly feel like a light has been shed on the road ahead for my family (I can't wait to share this book with my husband) and I know without a doubt that this will be a parenting reference book that I will keep close at hand for a long time. I am thrilled that I have had the chance to read this now, before crisis mode and I most definitely encourage everyone with children to get this book before they think they need it to help pave the way for a healthy parent/teen journey.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Deception Done Right

I won't pretend that I'm into cookbooks. I'm not. But I was curious about all the buzz that was going on about Jessica Seinfeld's latest Deceptively Delicious especially when I heard the twist--getting your kids to eat healthy foods without complaining. OK, I'm listening.

When I got the book in the mail I let my daughter open it. She's totally into cookbooks so I figured it'd be perfect for her. Not so much. As soon as she got the gist of what this cookbook was all about she was stunned that "deceiving" her and her sister was something that I was scheming to do. She kept repeating questions like, "You wouldn't do that to us would you?". As a matter of fact she asked me what I was trying to sneak into her food for days. And truthfully I told her nothing because I have yet to try one of the recipes. I'm kind of lazy like that. But that's not to say I don't want to because DANG, the pictures in the book look deeeeelish. And being the highly visual person that I am, I can also tell you that the entire book looks good enough to eat. It feels good in your hands, the illustrations are adorable, the binding easy to lay open on a counter (or for me, my nightstand), and colors are enticing.

So, yes, I've read the cookbook (hence the nightstand comment) but I have yet to cook with it. But that does not mean I wouldn't recommend it. Because I would. Partly because I absolutely know that if I met Jessica Seinfeld, I would love her. I know it because peppered throughout the pages of recipes are random commentaries about table rules, tips to get your kids to help with meals, common mealtime pitfalls and how to avoid them which convinced me that Jessica is the kind of mom I strive to be. I was already sold but when I came to the page "It's About the Celebration, Not the Sugar" I wanted to give Jessica a bit grateful hug. A woman after my own heart! Her short paragraph about the misuse (or as I call it the abuse) of sugar in the name of celebration I finally felt like there was someone who was in my corner. I actually called a friend of mine who also feels strongly about the issue and read her the paragraph! Kudos Jessica for sharing your convictions with the world. And I appreciate it even more because there are actually recipes for desserts (Jessica doesn't deprive her family or her readers of sweets) with the addition of ingredients like chickpeas in the mix. Imagine, chocolate chip cookies that pack a punch of protein? Brilliant!

Thank you Jessica for sharing with us not only recipes to help us keep our children on the right path but for openly sharing with the masses the way you keep order and joy (at the same time) in your own family life. I am impressed on many levels. Now, if I could only get excited about cooking, I'd try a recipe. I really would. Hey, maybe I could get my daughter to be an accomplice in the delicious deceit. She might actually be into that. Check me out, I'm coming up with my own clever twists! I guess Jessica is rubbing off on me already.

For more reviews on Deceptively Delicious, check out The Parent Bloggers Network and if you'd like to win a copy visit Harper Collins.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


My California (Adventure) Girls enjoying our Halloweentime experience. These are the kinda days where they are actually happy I blog.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

speading the word


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tree Hugger

As I begin to write I am sickened by the sound of a chainsaw echoing through my neighborhood. Although the situation might not be a dire as it seems, my core rattles from the violent noise and I am further jarred by rhythmic crashes of dismembered tree parts being dropped into the back of a ratty old pick up.

Where there once towered a beautiful, thriving 35 year old Palm, there remains only sky.

You'll often hear people react with flippant remarks like, "it's just a tree" but for me the act of cutting down a vibrant healthy living thing seems like a senseless act; a disregard for nature, for beauty, for life.

The reasoning behind the brutal removal was that my neighbor didn't like the tree. Didn't like the tree? How can something so strong and statuesque be a nuisance to anyone? Did she never notice the way that tree danced in the ocean breezes, moving with it's partner (the now lone palm that still stands on our side of the fence), leaves intertwining, a slightly and slowly bowing with the weather? The bright green fans against the clear blue sky? It's deepening silhouette of the evening against the oranges and reds of the late afternoon sky? Did she not hear the sound yesterday of the wind coming in the trees, announcing to all that fall is making it's annual visit?

I am deeply saddened by the loss of a part of the landscape I have loved for the 5 years we've lived here. It is the last to go from the yard next to ours. There were 4 more a year ago but they had to go by order of the city. Seeing those 4 be butchered to stumps was hard enough but the neighbors that lived there then were given no option, just a notice on the door; an ultimatum that the trees would have to come down one way or another. In the massacre, they left one to remain as it was not "in the way" of the power lines. And now, for no reason at all, it too has been chopped to the ground.

There is a history with me and trees I guess. This is not the first time I have felt sadness for this kind of loss. As we moved into this house, we moved away from a home surrounded by trees; the 80 year old Jacaranda that wore it's lacy lavender gown every year and graciously cooled our unconditioned house in the summer and provided a playful, almost human form of outstretched stick arms in winter, the old craggy plum tree that only offered a few plums each year but whose bark delighted and intrigued me with it's texture and rich color, and the sister peach trees that would dazzle us with their spring display of tiny pink paper blossoms and then offer up their succulent fruit to our family providing enough to share with the entire neighborhood. Such generosity. Our ritual of the season's first peach is one of my fondest memories in that house, as we would take our pick of the warm, sun ripened fruit and sit on the shaded porch, as we allowed ourselves to become intoxicated by sweetness as we savored all we we hold in out mouths while the excess dripped down our chins. Nectar from the Gods.

Before we moved from that house, I took an afternoon in the yard, shooting photographs of our trees. They had been there long before us but we lived there long enough to feel they were a part of our family or perhaps more that we had become a part of theirs. It felt good to take the time to honor them this way knowing with each photograph I would be holding a memory. It was a way I could say thank you for all they provided us.

The house was sold to people who claimed they loved the trees and that made leaving a little less difficult. But one day I got a desperate call from a dear friend (our old neighbor) that they were cutting the trees down. Her voice was shaking and in the background I could hear the chainsaws. It was as if the wind were knocked out of me and I could hardly breath, let alone speak. And it was evident she felt the same way. They were killing the extended family we left behind. The trees all went, one by one. The lovely sisters, the craggy plum, and the glorious and nurturing Jacaranda until the house was left standing bare and alone.

I look around my house now and see the photographs that I took that delicious afternoon 5 years ago of our trees and am thankful for the memories they hold, grateful for the pictures that remind me of the energy and beauty that infused us and how very much I loved them.

As the chainsaw continues to rage outside I feel a small void in my heart as I am reminded that I miss our old trees and that now, one more is added to the list. Or perhaps it's more than just the trees. Could it be that I regard them as the living landmarks I encounter along my journey? Maybe these giants remain rooted in my life's landscape as symbols of my past or the memories of things I don't want to let go of. Being a bright eyed 20 something, falling in love, exchanging vows, birthing a baby, sharing the simplest of nature's delights with my daughter, finding my way as an artist, a wife, a mother, and woman? Maybe that's why when the trees come down my heart aches with the sadness of the ages. Maybe a tree by any other name is really just a part of me.