Thursday, May 29, 2008

at Old Sacramento

After the media event -- you know, the one about budget cuts planned for Medi-Cal? the one where Dane jumped up and down behind me to get on camera while NBC was interviewing me? Yeah, that one. Well, after the media event, the kids and I hoofed it over to Old Sacramento again from the Capitol building. There, we stopped for donuts (of course, it's 'tradition' now) and then went to the old school house, and then finally on to the train museum.

I'm not sure the kids grasped the historical reasons behind the train hub there -- how Sacramento started out as a gold boom town, and what the trains meant to travelers crossing the Sierras, and the significant contributions Chinese workers made to the railroad -- but they caught glimpses of all that and sure liked the trains.

They also liked sitting in the theater to watch the train movie.

And crawling under trains. (Probably not supposed to do that.)

In California, state history is studied in fourth grade, so this is where all the fourth graders in northern California end up on a field trip at some point during the school year. There were probably six classes here while we were visiting.

Since we probably won't live here when the kids are in fourth grade, it's probably just as well we took care of this trip in K and 1st. Not sure the history lesson will stick, though. We'll have to save that for Washington's timber museum* or something. (Or Oregon's?)

*Actually, we've been to the Washington State history museum in Tacoma and it encompasses more than timber...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Mick has his patients and is gearing up for his 4-day WREBS test this weekend. He will be testing all day Friday doing a written treatment plan (not on a patient) after a morning orientation, and on Sat/Sun/Mon he'll do root canal work (not on a patient) and specific Perio cleanings and fillings, dividing his work/time between two patients.

Last Saturday evening he went to Oakland to take the 3 hour written WREBS test. No results yet, but he felt okay.

He's getting good at being nervous but stepping forward without much to-do and taking tests as is required. He generally manages to keep an even-keel way about him.

Other than that, he's packing his clinic days with all the types of procedures he's required to have under his belt to graduate -- and complete what are called "test cases" on them, as well. He's nearly done with that, but, perhaps needless to say, his life is VERY full right now.

I probably don't even need to mention how proud I am of him, do I?

Still got some practice opportunities we're exploring, but no news to report yet.

But, here, I'll leave you with this:
Here's Mick cleaning out his "office" -- what would've been our laundry room if we hadn't needed a space for dental school stuff.

Let me tell you it makes me very happy to imagine having a laundry room in the near future....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top 5 Finalist in Writer's Digest Story Competition

Every month Writer's Digest gives a prompt to light creative fires. From that, writers are to tell a story in 750 words or less. The prompt I responded to was for Contest #12: "A Man walks into a bar. But it isn't a bar."

Admittedly, my story is unconventional. In fact, it might seem like I was on drugs - but, hey, caffeine's not illegal, although perhaps after reading my story you'll think it should be. Anyway, out of over 500 entries, my "Bar After Bar" was selected by the editors as a Top 5 finalist.

From here, it goes on to voting among registered members at The winner gets their story published in the October edition of Writer's Digest Magazine. I think I have a miniscule chance, if early votes on the site are any indication, but I'd really love to be published in that magazine.

Now, if YOU - yes, I'm talking to the four of you who actually read this - would like to increase my chances of winning (which I think is what this comes down to - 'viral marketing' seems to be the modern writer's job), YOU CAN VOTE.

FOR ME. (Did I mention that?)

Go to, click on the red Community tab, find the Your Story heading and take the opportunity to Register. If I recall correctly, you need to create a username, password, and give your email address. Once you've registered, go to the stories and cast your vote.

And then leave a comment here telling me you voted so I can send you a huge, humongous, amazing prize.

Love, Anjie

On a reduced-size track yesterday, Aubrey and Dane walked off-and-on for three hours to earn money for Willow Creek Academy's P.E. program. Although a public school, WCA doesn't receive funding like other schools because of its charter status.

Dane approached the task with his usual focus, running and walking the whole time with a couple buddies, stopping only once or twice for bathroom break or food. He wanted to do as many laps as he could. He did 66 laps.

There he is above on the left, with Marcus and Eli.

Aubrey approached the task in her own way, too, balancing on the curb as she walked, stopping to sit with her friends, breaking for bathroom and food several times. She wanted to do as many laps as she felt like doing at the time. She did 23 laps. (Although, to put it in perspective, the top kindergartener only did about 30, I think.)

There she is above in the brown sweats and green Super Girl t-shirt with Zaahirah to the left, and Priscilly and Gia to the right.

The kids each carried a popsicle stick that an adult marked at a checkpoint each lap.

Dane and Aubrey had four sponsors: two at 10 cents/lap and two at 15 cents a lap - and one of those was a bonus of 20 cents a lap for every lap past 60. I haven't done the math yet, but I think it's safe to say they'll each pull in under $50 - although I understand grandparents and parents might be tossing in a few extra bucks for good measure.

It's actually very sweet how the kids felt strongly about earning money for their school's P.E. program. They love their weekly P.E. session, with Coach Dave, who's terrific. But the part that gets me is that they know they won't be going to school there next year, but they really want their friends to have a P.E. program.

I could start crying just writing that.

Anyway, you should've heard Dane explaining everything very carefully on the phone to his sponsors. He took it very seriously and wanted to be really clear. That alone made it a super learning project for a kid.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Warning: This could be a formatting nightmare, but I lack the patience to work that out.

And so, Sacramento. This was our first trip there, the day I testified. You can see the excitement.

I made sure Dane and Aubrey worked their energy out first. Here they are doing jumping jacks in the capitol's hallowed halls.

They were terrific during the hearing. (We were in there an hour before I spoke.) We came armed with pages of homemade stapled books, where each page had something bizarre on it, like "Chipmunks Ice Skating," "A Goat Wearing sweatpants and sweatbands," "A Turtle Climbing a Tree," and "A Dog Drinking a Latte and Driving a Car" and then the kids had to read and draw the image. The pictures turned out really cool and I've saved the books.

Of course, we stopped in front of the Governor's office, which the public had officially changed to read: Governor Schwarzenegger - even though no other governor's individual name had ever been displayed.

After the hearing, we had a per diem from Children Now for $10 each. Mick looked up a "reputable" coffee joint before we left, so we hung out (literally, see photos) for a while eating good sandwiches and drinking tasty drinks.

With our bellies full, we walked to Old Sacramento (Old Sac). Between walking from our parked van to the capitol, from the capitol to the coffee joint, and then into Old Sac and finally back to the van, we probably put in a good 5 miles. Sometimes that was a bit of a stretch but it all felt like part of the adventure. The kids made up this (repetitive) song "Oooold Sac-ra-men-to," which they were even singing as they fell asleep on the drive home.

Old Sac began with a stop at a donut shop - which meant we stopped there again the second trip to Old Sac (in late April for the media event) because it's now "what we do."

After that, we checked out the Pony Express tribute (see photo statue) and the kids were surprised that the mail ever traveled without a motorized vehicle, and that there weren't roads. Come to think of it, I have a hard time grasping that concept, too.

The kids liked the replica of an old one-room schoolhouse.

We spent a fair amount of time playing school - looking through the primers, writing on slates, pumping at the water pump.

We saved the big train museum for our next visit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Hi friends and potential mouths,

Mick's gearing up for Western Regional Boards (WREBS) for the last weekend in May, and he has to have 3 patients with particular mouth conditions. The school's been doing massive screenings, but they're still short on patients. Right now Mick has 1 patient, and a possible 2nd.

This is where YOU come in:

If YOUR mouth hasn't seen a dentist for a while, and if you've been known to build up some nice heavy calculus in there, he might need YOU for a cleaning!

If YOUR mouth might need a filling (maybe at your last visit, your dentist told you you needed one?), Mick might need YOU for a filling!

What to do:
-See Mick at the dental school (it's off Filmore on Webster and Sacramento) for a 20 minute screening. He's available all day and all evening today. Yeah, short notice - but he's also available at other times in the next week if you arrange it with him.

-If he can use your mouth - think of how you could be advancing dentistry! - you'd be his patient for a day either May 30, 31 or June 1, you'd be getting FREE SUPERIOR DENTAL CARE, and we would owe you millions.

-Since we don't have millions, perhaps you'd settle for a FREE SONICARE and any other little goodies we could score you?!

Also, feel free to hook us up with any of your friends' mouths if you see potential. (You know what I'm talkin' about...)


*Of course, if you don't live within a 30 mile radius, disregard this posting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


We keep a white board by the kids' bathroom door. Every couple of weeks I'll find they've erased everything and created something new.

This is a classic Aubrey girl, with the big eyes far apart on the head, the round hands and the boots.
This is a new look from Dane. Not sure about the hands -- and leotard. (?)

Friday, May 09, 2008


I picked up this cute shirt at ROSS for Dane
to wear to Mick's graduation.

Dane doesn't want to wear it, though,
because of "the fat guy on back."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Our girl at Easter.

Self dressed for the parade.

Creative at the egg toss.

Lovin' her dad.

We'll post pics of Dane soon, but these were just some sweet shots of Aubrey I had to get up.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Aubrey's been home for two days. I'm sure she'll be back to school tomorrow -- she seems to be on the mend now.

If I may be so bold, though, having her home has cramped my style a little bit! I actually don't have to go to work today, so I'd planned to get groceries, shop for upcoming party presents, take a walk, etc. HOWEVER, I will also admit it's been nice to have this down time here with her as she watches Scooby Doo, reads Angelina Ballerina, eats light snacks, and takes long afternoon naps. In fact, it forces me to slow way down, even giving me a chance to sit down and look for places to publish, and to make (more) lists of stuff to do for Mick's graduation and our life thereafter.

Hey, stop at that last part! you say. Where're all the blogs on that stuff? the life thereafter stuff?

Well, the honest answer is that it's just not that fun to write about right now! It can make one feel so wishy-washy. The truth is, we're in stress mode, get-finished-with-school mode, get-an-interview-where-we-want-to-live mode. That requires a lot of waiting, being patient, researching, being persistent. It's sometimes easier to hold those cards close rather than keep everybody updated on the constant glitches, hurdles, victories, and changes.

Do I sound jaded? I don't mean to. I've just got to be practical about how I spend my energy. You know, with a sick kid and all.

Friday, May 02, 2008

My friend Amy is the regional director for the Children and Nature Network. She's "the twins'" mom if you've heard me talk about her before. (Nick and Mia are her twins in Dane's class, and they live near us with Amy and Chris, their parents, on a houseboat.)

Last night, Amy took me to hear her "boss," Richard Louv, who wrote the book, Last Child in the Woods. His book has sparked a whole movement that focuses on getting kids outdoors -- which led to the creation of Amy's network -- and it was exciting to listen to his ideas and plans.

His basic message is that children need to be connected to the outdoors -- in ways that our current American culture doesn't promote -- if they're going to be connected as human beings and as future stewards of our world.

This means spending a lot of time in dirt, in forests, on trails, building forts and tree houses, getting dirty, breathing fresh air -- feeling comfortable in, and finding solace in, our natural environment. Along with this, he claims kids need unstructured playtime, where they're using their imaginations and playing and thinking creatively.

Virtually everything he said affirmed my own thinking about how kids grow up healthy and happy, and I'm excited to read his book and think more deeply about how we're raising our kids.

Side note: Amy works hard with the network, but she's managed to do so part-time, so she can still ride bikes to school once a week with her kids, take them on hikes, and spend time with their class in small school garden groups. I like how she takes the message of her job seriously. (Click on the Beach or Friends label below to come across some photos of her and her family with ours.)