Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dane's Fifth Birthday
October 19 (Party October 22)

*Friends at Boyle Park
*Spiderman cake by Mick
*Decorating cupcakes
*Climbing fir trees
*Playing Soccer

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I have to get Mick to explain this assignment better, but right now he's revving up for second quarter finals (to be held in two weeks). As far as I
recall, Mick's assignment had been to create a wax mold which would then
be used to create a silver product.

Pictured (each about 1/2" big, maybe smaller):
green/wax skull mold
silver skull
silver espresso portafilter (for the coffee geeks to appreciate)

Dane (Dash) and Mick (hick jailbird) attended huge Housewarming/Halloween party on Saturday the 29th at our friends the Schultz's (complete with rented inflatable jumping tent, grilled oysters, potluck, and my friend Margaret hosting as Oprah; need to get a picture of that-- let's just say she looks nothing like Oprah when it's not Halloween). Aubrey (Cinderella) and Mom (well, Mom), on the other hand, stayed home to tend to Aubrey's 104 degree fever.

Halloween night wasn't much improved for little Aubs (a strange two-hour rash in the afternoon left us tentative about exposure to other kids), but the surprisingly mature and understanding duo contentedly stayed home with The Incredibles DVD from the library and a small bag of candy. Our first floor neighbors, Susan and Leila, heard the news of the nichts on trick-or-treating from Dane (they'd shopped specially for M&Ms for the kids earlier that day, so Dane trick-or-treated there for both kids), so when Dane got back from their apartment, Susan called us and said to send Dane down again as she'd forgotten something: two Creative Kids kits for making oragami and for decorating notecards. Leila has spent her entire life in a wheelchair (she's in her early thirties, like me) and it seemed that Aubrey and Dane's situation struck a chord with them. Before eating candy and watching the movie, the excited kids spent 45 minutes decorating notecards (and I spent some time grateful to have thougthful neighbors).


Crayon Oil Pastel by Dane and Grammy
September 2005
(referred to in a November blog entry)

1 - Aubrey with snake, Mick with parrot and joey, Dane with possum*

2 - Aubrey and Mema viewing flamingos

3 - Dane with flamingos

4 - Aubrey and Anj at petting zoo (hanging on, but a bit tired after 3 hours at the zoo already)

5 - Dane grooming billy goat

*Top picture is a zoo photo op cutout, if you noticed anything odd

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pizza With Uncle Pat and Aunt Cindy before Our Flight that Night to Tacoma
Thursday, November 3

Busy but exciting day.
-Dane had his final soccer session in the morning.
-After lunch, the kids napped while I finished packing/loading the car.
-Aubrey had ballet class from 3:30 to 4.
-Went straight from ballet to downtown San Francisco in search of the waterfront Marriott.
-Picked up Mick's Uncle Pat and Aunt Cindy (celebrating their 20th anniversary, out from PA) after 20 extra minutes of cell phone help from Pat working from his snazzy collapsable pocket map of downtown--thank goodness...
-Drove to meet Mick at Pacific and walked a couple blocks to Dino's pizza joint on Fillmore.
-Aunt Cindy had Dane and Aubrey promise to write up Christmas lists so she could shop for them, especially since she wouldn't get the chance to shop San Francisco with Aubrey for Hello Kitty items. (Now Dane's talking astronaut doll stuff and Aubrey can't stop dreaming about the make-up Aunt Cindy mentioned!)
-Cindy multi-tasked at dinner. Between eating and drinking, she cuddled Aubrey on her lap and scratched Dane's back while he stood still next to her for several minutes.
-Pat took pictures and bounced Dane on his knee.
-Soon after dinner, we dropped Pat and Cindy off at the trolley station and then surprised ourselves by driving right past the Marriott on our way to the Oakland Airport for our 9 p.m. flight. (Oops.)
-Flew Oakland to Seattle.
-Jan picked the kids up at the SeaTac airport where I sent them away with a kiss; I headed off to my friend Karen's house at Phinney Ridge for the night.
-Mick snuggled into our bed in Sausalito, ready to "batch"(sic) it for the next six days.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

September/October/November Reading

While I haven't read as many books this fall as I read this past summer, here's what I've been up to:

*Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. As ridiculous as it sounds, I'd never read a Jane Austen novel until this month. This one's been sitting on my shelf for a while, so between book club selections I wedged this read in. So glad I did. Austen certainly earned her wonderful reputation. She's a master storyteller with intricate plotlines and interesting characters who possess a spectacular array of wit and dullness. I was nearly finished when I flew to Seattle on November 3rd, but forgot to bring it along, and had to wait five long days to read the story's resolution. (Loved it when I did though....)

*Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life, Michael Lewis. This one got way too much attention from NPR. I loved the interview there with the author, but, quite frankly, his entire story was told in that very sitting. This "book" is really an "essay" that doesn't deserve the paper it's printed on; I would've been much more appreciative of this author's sentiments had it been marketed more appropriately.

*Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut. Another brilliant author I hadn't read yet. The funky alien/time travel stuff, which I hear I'll come to appreciate even more after a thorough study of Vonnegut's works, was a bit of a mind-bender, but sandwiched in there were truths that often stopped my breath short. My library book clubbers (basically me and four 60+ year old sharp women) selected this book as our reponse to Banned Book week. We reveled in his eloquence, his wit, his war stance, and his timing (published during the Viet Nam War), and we reflected sadly on the bombing of Dresden where 135,000 civilians were killed in a massacre the world never heard about. I've gotta get me some more Vonnegut.

*A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving. This is by far one of my top ten favorite books of all-time; however, when I attempted a re-read last month, it didn't hold any of the same juice for me. I can only believe/hope that the plot is so fantastic and the characters so surprising that remembering any related details in a re-read takes away from Irving's genius. I still highly recommend this book to just about anyone.

*Lots of books on homeschooling as well as how to make the most of a public education (in a not-so-good district/system). Yup, in another dilemma about schools. Still thinking.

*Beasts, Joyce Carol Oates. A novella. A month later now, I don't remember many details, but remember it as an interesting, well-written read.

*Birds Without Wings, Luis DeBernieres. By the author of Corelli's Mandolin, which came highly recommended to me but I never got into. This book, on the other hand, held my attention after I gave it several chapters, and told the painful, beautiful story of "the waning days of the Ottoman Empire." Round, round characters to be loved, pitied, hated, feared. Wonderful writing, wonderful story.

*Children the Challenge, Rudolf Dreikurs. I read this parenting guide with what I call my Mormon book club--a group of dental school wives on this side of the Golden Gate Bridge, of which I'm the only member not in a ward! Although not everyone reads the assigned books (my personal rule is that I can't go unless I read the book), the discussions are interesting. This one particularly appealed to me, as it was my first book with them and my first meeting with them; I found the book to be very much in line with my own parenting philosophies and I found the women to be real and warm, interested in meaningful conversation. I had my doubts that you could have a good discussion about a how-to book, and I had my doubts about the topic. In all, I was happily surprised in a number of ways.

*The Queen Jade, Yxta Maya Murray. I picked this one out just to finally have an entry on my "Q" page in my journal of books read. For the record, it's kind of a dumb way to choose a book. Any suggestions for a "K" before I get desperate again? (and The Brothers Karamazov doesn't count--that'd be a "B" in my book...)

*So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading, Sara Nelson. A fun, quick read for those of us who read like mad dogs. This book is one reader's reflection on how life and what we read intertwine.

Mid-Late October:
A Visit from Mom/Mema/Sharen/Big Share

While we're in the process of figuring out how to get our picture program Picasa2 up and running again, I'll write up some notes on the last few weeks. Needless to say, much has happened that deserves attention (and photos) but for now, I'll start with my mom's visit. Other topics/entries soon.

A week after Jan left, my mom flew down for her own luxurious week on the living room hide-a-bed. Without missing a beat after her Friday midnight arrival, we headed out Saturday morning to the San Francisco Zoo for Pacific's Annual Fall party. There, we ate from a gigantic buffet in a gigantic tent in the middle of the zoo grounds; for the next four hours then we observed tigers, flamingos, anteaters, lemurs, snakes, bears, rhinos, penguins, hippos, meerkats, prairie dogs (this is a zoo worth returning to again and again)--every animal we could want to lay eyes on. Several weeks earlier, Dane and Aubrey had circled their main animals of interest, basically any exhibit with a picture, on the zoo map, which made the exploration really fun; we also rode the old train for a few loops through the zoo, amazed by the agility and boldness of fully-plumed peacocks (miraculously enough) constantly crossing the tracks.

That was the biggest physical event of the week for us and we tried to taper the activities a bit after that. The rest of Mom's visit involved a few hours of pre-school, soccer class, ballet class, a trip to Mick's school one evening for Dane's birthday (more on that later), Dane's birthday party (again, more later), playing baseball, and reading. There was also a fair dose of kitchen organization that Mom just couldn't keep herself away from.

In spite of Mom's penchant for cleaning--she told me she was up until midnight re-organizing my cupboards one night while Mick studied--we had to cut down on some of the physical activity we would have normally done (i.e. long brisk walks, bike riding, leg-wrestling) because the day before Mom flew here she had been diagnosed with a 1-inch non-cancerous tumor at the base of her neck along her spine. At that time, the doctors ruled out invasive surgery, wanted to monitor the rate of its growth, and were ready to discuss Gamma Knife radiation treatment when she returned from Sausalito.

Since then, though, another more urgent ailment has surfaced: CT scans and an MRI have revealed that she also has a fractured neck, possibly the result of a car accident in the last few years, or perhaps even the result of some sort of other accident or damage done years and years ago. Its origin is unknown. Mom and Don are in the process of seeking a second opinion, but it is clear Mom will have to have surgery soon (she's wearing a neck brace now) where doctors will likely put screws, rods, etc., in the back of her neck.

Right now, there's a lot of waiting, a lot of surgery-planning. However, given the kind of practical person my mom is, it seems that wringing hands and fretting is at the bottom of her list, and I tend to take my cue from her. By the same token, I'm also trying to ask the right questions, keep up on the doctors' names and jobs, and check in with her on her physical and emotional states (Don's too). It became clearer to me that I needed to do this when my friend Shari asked me if it was hard to take my mom to the airport when she left. I replied, "Not really. The traffic was pretty brutal at first, but then it tapered off and we got there in no time." When Shari said, "I see... But was it hard to say goodbye to her?" I realized I could be a little softer round the edges and that I had to be sure not to be cavalier about all this.

I'll be sure to include any developments in future blog entries.