Monday, February 26, 2007

Man and Woman

While I do not subscribe to sterotypical views of life, I must admit I love the retro visual on this one, despite the fact that I know an equal number of instances where Man and Woman could be reversed.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My New Favourite Quote

I watched Akeelah and the Bee last night. Loved it, of course. Here is my new favourite quote, from Nelson Mandela, which Akeelah read out loud:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"

I am still trying to figure out if I want to do anything with it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

It's a Small Confession After All

It's true.

I like Disneyland and I'm going there soon...for the 5th time. Really, it's all about the Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, which I have been told has sadly been renamed as Tarzan's Treehouse. Oh, and Splash Down Mountain and Utopia, which, also sadly, is now sponsored by Chevron.

Despite everything evil and unknown about Disneyland, I feel giddy being there....even in the lineups. I love long picnics and playing tag on Tom Sawyer's Island. I like walking into the shop in Main Street where my mom once bought a fancy white hat with a tropical green bird perched on the brim. I remember the brown leather vest, WITH fringes, my dad bought me in Frontierland. The Jungle Cruise, as corny as it is, is nostalgic.

There. I said it. Wanna come?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Home Grown

Whenever my mom travels, she brings home t-shirts. I have one from Hawaii, Mexico, Paris, Australia, and Palm Springs, to name a few.

She just got back from Hawaii.

My husband got a t-shirt of a surfboard.
My youngest son got a t-shirt of a surfboard.
I got a t-shirt of Hawaiian flowers.

Here is the t-shirt mom brought back for my soon to be thirteen-year-old. She didn't know what kind of "Hawaiian plant" this was. Honest.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Kids Books for Adults

About four years ago, I decided that I needed to start reading the books that my older son was reading. He was devouring books I had never heard of and I had no idea what they were about. I wanted to ensure that I knew what he was reading so that we could talk about whatever subject matter comes up, if needed. Many were about death, family crisis, struggle, evil vs good, etc, and we have had excellent conversations since.

But to my surprise, I ended up loving the books he was reading, and for a while, completely switched from the usual literary fiction, or thought-provoking non-fiction, to, well, kids books. Here is a list of my favourites:

1. Pendragon Series (better than Harry Potter)
2. Harry Potter Series (of course!)
3. A Series of Unfortunate Events (it gets better with each book)
4. Holes (freakin' brilliant!)
5. Frindle (inspiring)
6. My Side of the Mountain (solo wilderness adventure)
7. The Thief Lord (Vienna at night)
8. Kit's Wilderness (spooky and captivating)
9. Kensuke's Kingdom (Robinson Crusoe for modern kids)
10. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (just for fun)

He is now reading the books from our library, and I must admit that I miss the escapes I got from his books. I think that next time we hit the library together I will leave him and head to the kids section.

Tears Away

My younger son climbs up the stairs to get ready for bed. Slowly like an iguana, hand over hand, foot over foot, while quiet sobs come from his sleepy head hung low.

"What's the matter?"

"Dad was going to make me hot chocolate....but I had to ask.... (sniff) two or three times....(sniff, sniff) and he forgot to get it."

"Oh.....well, it's now bed time, what should we do about it?" I sit on the stairs with him.

"Sniff, sniff." He climbs onto my lap.

"What would you like to do now?" I wrap my arms around his back.

"Sniff, sniff." He puts his head on my shoulder.

"Do you see anything that can be done about your hot chocolate that could make you happy?" I kiss his forehead.

"Sniff, sniff.Can I have some hot chocolate?" So quiet (sniff).



"I'll race you - you put on your p.j.'s and I'll make you a little cup of hot chocolate."

He brings his face to mine so our foreheads are touching. Then he puts his eye over my cheekbone and wipes. Then he puts his other eye over my other cheekbone and wipes. He sits up smiling.

"That's my job.... to take your tears away."

We both smile, and he climbs up the rest of the stairs, and I climb down.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Retired Photo

This was once my favourite photo.

Toys Gone By

I love old-fashioned toys. There is something so sweet about sitting in your claw-foot tub winding up a lime-green and dandelion-yellow frog and lettin' 'er rip around as you move up and down to create mini-waves. We have a sneaky shark and dorky whale as well. Remember the speedboats? Ours have crashed. Sadly.

How about lying on a rug in front of a real wood fireplace building lego homes, tinkertoy men, or a Lite Brite clown face. Spinning tops on sunny days. I still like to play with blocks. Monkeys in a Bucket. Snakes and Ladders. Plastercine. Silly Putty. I bought a Raggedy Ann for a friend for Christmas. But the best toy I saw recently was a bucket of logs to make a small real log home. I just googled "log toy cabin" and found the company that makes them is Lincoln Logs. If anyone feels like buying me a present, just for fun, I want a log cabin. On the water. In Halfmoon Bay, BC.

Speaking of retro toys, this is my new favourite website. Days Gone By. Full of good old stuff. Just for fun.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Proud Mummybagz

So, my older son, aka Munnybagz, has achieved fame with his blog, FunnyMunny.

Last weekend, he was written up in the Vancouver Sun for his blog, which features his "whiz kid" financial advise. Today, he was interviewed on a local radio station, CFUN, who called him the "youngest financial advisor ever!". Next week, two TV interviews. Wow.

He was also featured on another well-known blogger website John Chow Dot Com.
Here is Munnybagz:

Monday, February 12, 2007

How You Define It

"To the poet, a pearl is a tear of the sea; to the Orientals, it is a drop of dew solidified; to the ladies, it is a jewel of an oblong shape, of a brilliancy of mother-of-pearl substance, which they wear on their fingers, their necks, or their ears; for the chemist, it is a mixture of phosphate and carbonate of lime, with a little gelatine; and lastly, for naturalists, it is simply a morbid secretion of the organ that produces the mother-of-pearl among certain bivalves." Excerpt from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Although I technically fit with the ladies, I think I will join the fleet of the Poetic Orientals on this one. What about you?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Scenery is Subjective

I just checked out Found, one of my favourite websites.

Their "Find of the Day" is a note that was found outside a gym.

"Hi - We're here. Down the road checking out the scenery."

I kinda like that. I guess we can all be down the road checking out the scenery. Doesn't really matter if the scenery is a black-sand beach in Hawaii or a transit shelter in downtown L.A. We're all here somewhere with something to check out. The term "scenery" just depends on how you look at it.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Way I See It

I must admit I love Starbucks. True, I hate their coffee. In fact, I don't drink coffee. I dislike their proliferation. I'm not fond of their lineups or their logo. I go for the Chai Lattes and the cups. White paper cups. Each cup has a "The Way I See It" quote on the side. Most of them I like. The others I love. Here are just a few:

Mireille Guiliano, author "Give me being and feeling over having any day."

Rita Golden Gelman, author, "Tales of a Female Nomad" ... "Without risk, nothing new ever happens. Without trust, fear creeps in. Without serendipity, there are no surprises."

Alice Randall, novelist and first black woman to write a No. 1 country song "Mother-love is not inevitable. The good mother is a great artist, ever creating beauty out of chaos."

Erykah Badu, musician "The wise healer endures the pain. Cry. Tears bring joy."

Nikki Giovanni, poet "Hot allusions. Metaphors over easy. Side order of rhythm. Message: If you want to be a poet you've got to eat right."

J.A. Jance, crime novelist "When I began writing, the words that inspired me were these: 'A writer is someone who has written today.' If you want to be a writer, what's stopping you?"

Christopher Hermelin, customer "There are many times when dancing is the most unsupportable, ridiculous, unexpected and necessary action. Life should be spent finding those moments and tap dancing through them."

Russell Chatham, Painter, lithographer, author, publisher and restaurateur "My father said being an artist was the shortest road to the poorhouse, claiming “real” work is something you don’t like. I ignored him through oppositional behavior, later reasoning that only an idiot sets out to find the poorhouse, not to mention devote himself to something he doesn’t love. Instead, I discovered an interesting back road to the unknown, and deliberately without a safety net."

Source: Starbucks

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What's On Your Fridge?

Every once in a while, I edit the visual poetry of my fridge-front. Deconstruct the randomly-fed collage. Banish broken magnets, dispel dated photos, evict postcards from Prague or Vienna or San Francisco, and recycle stained coasters from the Cedar Cottage Pub. Usually, it all just gets added to the pile on my desk - like teenage love letters, hard to let go.

Here is the story of my fridge now:

  • A photo of our Mongolian friend Lkhagvadorj and his family
  • Scooby Doo and Shaggy magnets
  • Two butterfly magnets that our youngest son made at daycare
  • Our youngest son's assignment from his first day of Kindergarten: "I am a: BOY. My favourite colour is: BLACK. My favourite sport is: RACE"
  • Proud supporter sticker from WWF
  • Garbage pick-up schedule for the City of Vancouver (currently we are on Wednesdays)
  • A picture of my husband in his cold-water dive gear, which is held on by two dive magnets - one from ANDI and one from SNS
  • Spiderman magnet
  • Map of where in the world MSF/Doctors Without Borders is currently serving
  • Grace, Jack, Emily, Megan, Ryan, Savannah, Ross, Isabelle
  • A hypsilophodon magnet
  • A male magnet: "It's so involved being me" superimposed on a picture of a Mr. Rogers lookalike
  • A female magnet: "A career...a family to care for... gee! I've got it all!" superimposed on a picture of a June Cleaver lookalike
  • Poetry magnet: of blue guitars
  • Mark Longpre - Real Estate Agent Extraordinaire and proud new father
  • Purple P, red 1, orange Q, blue Z, orange K, purple A, red G, green C, blue W, red ETC
  • One tiny red bubble magnet with a yellow "Star-Belly Sneetches" star in the centre

What's your story on your fridge?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Romance Next Door

I live in a milk carton shaped farmhouse. In fact, I've heard our 96-year-old house is the original farmhouse in this area. My 84-year-old neighbour told me that; he knows more about this "neck of the woods" than anyone else. I believe him.

There is a large window on the side of my milk carton that looks down onto this neighbour's roof. His is a small home, with a small roof, and a small brick chimney, but his roof fills my window 2/3 full, topped with whipped sky and sprinkled with night stars. When we first moved in five years ago, the roof was fully covered with diamond-shaped black asphalt shingles. Winter by winter, blistering summer day by blistering summer day, the asphalt singles have been disintegrating, exposing a layer of disintegrating cedar shingles beneath. I'm sure the roof-top scampering of squirrels and raccoons have helped, too.

Everyone that comes into my milk carton comments on the ugly roof next door. I listen. Then tell them this story.

Every day, I wake up to the view of his roof and the eastern sky, where the sun rises. Sometimes the light is shades of rose (red sky at morn, sailors be warned). Sometimes it is goldenrod stretching into midnight blue. Sometimes the moon can still be seen over his steadfast chimney. Often, sleepy steam rises with the sun's rays. This morning, fog enshrouded his entire home, bare naked trees fade in the background.

The wood is textured and raw, and shingles slip down like satin dresses. Scattered here and there haphazardly, new moss grows abundantly. The roof is dappled in vibrant green and brushed with dew. I find his roof romantic, historic, mysterious, and sensual. Yes, sensual.

Not everything in this world needs to be new, young, fresh, neat, tidy. The roof next door is perfect for me: an ever-changing canvas that causes pause every morning. I will miss it when it's gone.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Treehouses, Seahorses and Spongebob

Knowing the pinnacle of an oncoming sickness was approaching, I stayed home last weekend and entertained myself with boardgames and booze. Just kidding, but some of that cough syrup truly stomps.

My new favourite boardgame is the Spongebob Squarepants version of the Game of Life. Here is why I like it better than the regular Game of Life:

1. Forget the car, I get to be Spongebob Squarepants!
2. I get to live my days in a treehouse or a pirate ship - the Flying Dutchman no less.
3. Instead of hard-to-hold pink pinpoint kids, I get a nifty, cute-and-cuddly pet, like a seahorse or giant clam or jellyfish.
4. Who wants to be a travel agent? I'm now an ice cream vendor! (The fry cook pays the best by the way).
5. In the raffle, I can win a year's supply of bubble liquid or a magic conch shell.
6. $100 in the pocket for playing rock, paper, scissors using bubbles.
7. No special police officer rules - in this game they are treated the same as the mail carrier.

Here is why I don't like it better than the regular Game of Life:

1. I get to be Spongebob Squarepants.
2. Instead of getting life tiles for important things like curing the common cold or climbing Mount Everest, I get rewarded for delivering pizza, chopping my way through salami, or entering the Krusty Krab Krabby Patty flipping contest.
3. Instead of retiring to Country Acres of Millionaire Estates, Spongebob is stuck in the Shady Shoals Rest Home, which just doesn't sound like it's as much fun.
4. You only get to start the game with $500, which also just doesn't sound as much fun.
5. There are raffle cards, which is basically a lottery for kids.
6. The game is played in a place called Bikini Bottom. Think about that for a second.

Although the game states that the person with the highest net worth wins, I like to think of the Game of Life, all versions, as a way to live without care for a while. Who cares if the cave costs less to live in than the pirate ship? I WANT to live on a pirate ship, if only for an hour or so. And I love being the artist, the teacher, or the lifeguard, not the business owner. Business is for real life.

I don't want to make money, have kids, have a job, buy stocks or RRSPs or anything. The Game of Life is for fun, win or lose. Like him or not, Spongebob knows how to have fun. 1 life tile for frolicking through the flowers.

Sunday, February 4, 2007


Do you believe in omens? I had never heard of the Sami people until about a month ago. Since then, I have encountered something to do with the Sami three or four times. Something tells me I should learn more about them.

I was playing a game this morning. I closed my eyes, held a dictionary in my hand, and waited until I felt energy guiding me to a certain page, and a certain sentence. My finger landed on Chandrasekhar. He was an Indian-born US astronomer who suggested the process whereby some stars eventually collapse to form a dense white dwarf while others collapse further to form neutron stars. He shared the Nobel prize for physics in 1983.

My older son is currently doing a science project on white dwarfs. In fact, he just presented his final PowerPoint to me two days ago. I have encountered more about white dwarfs in the last week than I have in my entire life, and today, out of the thousands of words in the dictionary, I pick one associated with white dwarfs. Coincidence?

I believe there are significant connections being made all around us, every day. Our job is to determine which ones have meaning. I am still waiting to find out if the Sami occurrences have meaning. As for Chandrasekhar, I will pass him along to my son, and see if he can use the omen.

What omens have you come across in your life?

Friday, February 2, 2007

Family Fun Night

Tonight is Family Fun Night. It's a tradition in our house, one that tops the list of the kids favourite activities.

We start by declaring, the louder the better: "IT'S FAMILY FUN NIGHT!! Get your pyjamas on!!" This usually is followed by a bunch of silliness as we prepare for the event.

Tonight we warmed up by wrestling in bed, ending in an almost-black eye for me. "When you tickle me my feet just move," says my younger son. I guess it was my fault...sort of.

We then went straight into ordering pizza, blasting each other with pillows, playing I-spy (I won!), jumping on the bed, running around the room, and giggling over a few unruly moments while pj's slipped off someone's wee derriere.

The pizzas arrived just as we were setting up the Simpsons. We had a pizza eating contest (I lost) and devoured four episodes of Bart, Lisa and Apu, who ended up happy with his arranged married.

Tonight is Maple Story Family Fun Night, and the kids are teaching me how to play Maple Story, an online role playing game. I am going to be a magician.

Every Family Fun Night is different. Sometimes we camp out in our living room. Sometimes we go for bike rides. Sometimes we tell stories or watch movies or go to the theatre or make sushi or play pool or cards or dice or marbles. Sometimes we just goof off and take lots and lots of silly pictures of each other.

It's a pretty organic event that unfolds naturally, uniquely every time. But we always stick together, put on our pyjamas, and let the usual rules slide a bit further than normal.

It's really just about spending good quality time together. And that definitely warrants getting silly every once in a while... even if it means a black eye.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Heinz It Up!

My older son is reading a book right now, in which one of the characters is described as mayonnaise because she "holds things together."

Being one of those moms that takes every opportunity to get a reality check from my kids, I ask him "So, what do you think I am?"

"Oh, you're the mayonnaise," he says.


"No, you're really the pickle - either people love it and devour it immediately, or they don't like it and they give it to somebody else.There is usually someone around who will eat the pickle." He laughs.

"No, seriously, what do you think I am." I think I sound desperate. Who wants to be a pickle?

"You're the lettuce - nobody likes it and if they have a choice they don't put it in. If it's in there, they don't care about it." Hee hee.

A few years ago, I asked him to describe me in one word. The same question to my friends that morning yielded descriptions like "easy-going" and "laid-back". He said "frustrated". Now, I have a chance to see if I have improved, and I am failing.

"Do you really think I'm the lettuce?" I ask in a seriously deep, questioning voice, as though I was asking him if he really felt it was okay to quit school or swim across the Pacific Ocean during monsoon season.

"No Mom, you're really the ketchup - adds flavour, nearly everyone likes it."

I wait for his laugh. I get a smile.

Woo hoo! My face lit up. I didn't question him this time. I'll keep the ketchup.