Thursday, July 31, 2008

Movies We Love

On a hot summer afternoon last week, I took the kids to the cheap seats theatre to see Nim's Island. I have to admit that when I watched the trailer I thought it might just be another parental snooze-fest. It looked like one of those cutesy movies with kids and animals and a happily-ever-after sappy ending with maybe some morals thrown in for good measure. In its favor was a good cast (Jodi Foster doesn't do much dreck these days) and the price of $1. Mackenzie even consented to go with a moderate amount of eye-rolling. Finding a movie that both my animal-happy 8 year old and my swashbuckling-loving tween love is not always the easiest thing in the world.

I was pleasantly surprised that the movie was engaging for all of us. The cast pulled some of the sappier bits along, you can't go wrong with slingshotting lizards, and we really enjoyed the sub-plot of the writer and her character, especially Mackenzie who is working steadily on writing his first novel (more on that later) and so really identified with many of the plot points revolving around the craft of writing.

On the way home in the car, we decided to compile a list of movies we've all liked - ones that hit the mark for every family member. So here, for your viewing enjoyment is our family's list of Great Family Flicks. Movies that have an asterisk (*) next to the name may not be appropriate for all kids and/or families. This list is not ordered in any way.

Secondhand Lions
The Princess Bride
Toy Story 1 & 2
Star Wars
Sky High
Bend it like Beckham
Galaxy Quest (spoof on Star Trek, a must for Trekkies)
Pirates of the Caribbean (#1 only)
Johnny English
Little Miss Sunshine *
Chronicles of Narnia
Nim's Island
Spaceballs *
Lord of the Rings *
The King of California
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
Mr. Bean's Holiday
Monty Python's The Holy Grail * and The Life of Brian *
Disney's animated Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, & Snow White
The Pink Panther Series starring Peter Sellers *
Jurassic Park
Monsters Inc.
Troy *
Batman & Robin
The Mouse That Roared
Operation Dumbo Drop
The Terminal

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our Family's Laugh of the Day

We all found this boxing cat simply irresistable. See if you can only watch this once:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Window Into a Day in My Life

This is one of those rare blog posts that goes on all three of my blogs. This one's relevant to all because it's just a snapshot of my everyday existence. On a parenting list I'm on, we did this last year too: we each took photos throughout an entire day, and that way you get to see the average day in each person's life - what their dinner plates look like and where they go and what kind of slippers they wear, that kind of thing. So if you want to see all the nitty gritty of my life, you can check out A Day in My Life, 2008. And if you're really all that interested, my Day from 2007 is also still up. I found the similarities between the two of them a bit eerie. I have some routines that are pretty engraved in stone. I drink from the same tea mug, hang my laundry out at the same time, and make pizza for the kids once a week. But many things are different, too. The freaky snake in the high chair has been replaced by a cuddly teddy, that's a big improvement at least.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Great Smoothie Explosion of 2008

Every once in awhile you should do something outrageously horrifyingly wrong in front of your kids. It lets them know that you too can screw up on a monumental scale and (hopefully) still laugh it off at the end of the day. This afternoon was just such a moment of excruciating mucked-upedness.

It started the way many of our afternoons go, with a request from the kids to make a smoothie, in this case a decaf mocha smoothie. Eggs, milk, frozen coffee cubes, chocolate syrup all went into the blender, but the blender alas was done for. So, being a mom who is not easily defeated by malfunctioning appliances, I decided to use the food processor. I reckoned it was round, had blades, and was used to chop things up, so as long as I covered that hole at the top of the hopper, it should be no problem, right?

In short order, I had poured the smoothie contents in, covered it up, and turned it on. That's when my food processor was possessed by a demonic poltergeist, made a horrifying noise, and actually rose into the air before spewing the contents of it's receptacle over roughly the entire kitchen (and me). I'm quite sure my kids have not laughed so hard in their entire lives. It must've looked like a scene from a movie or something. And it only took me two hours to clean smoothie out of every crack and crevice of my kitchen. Small price for such mirth at my expense.

Yep, now my kids can rest completely secure in the knowledge that their mother can mess things up worse than they ever have (or possibly ever will). I'm sure it must be a comfort to them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Take Me To The River

One of the things my kids remember most about the first time they visited their grandparents in Florida (hubby's parents) was one of those singing fish mounted on the wall like a trophy fish. It sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and "Take Me To the River". They loved it so much that years later, when they found one at a garage sale, they jumped around with elation and immediately bought it. I have to admit I was more than a bit glad when the darned thing finally quit working. It was funny at first, but the 30,000th rendition of snippets of those songs by a singing fish, well let's just say it wears a bit thin.

But "Take Me To the River" was certainly our theme for this last week. As hot weather moved in, we moved out to camp on the Rogue River with my mom. The idea was to meet up at the river, camp for a couple of days, and then Asa, my little Asa, my baby girl (well, okay, she's almost nine, but I can still think of her that way) was going to go and spend an entire week at grandma's house without us! You see, my mom has been telling us for a couple of years about the Missoula Children's Theatre, an organization that travels to various towns during the summer, setting up shop for a week. They bring a principal cast as well as sets and costumes for a full-scale children's theatre production, then audition local kids for the supporting roles. So Asa (of course!) wanted to audition. But the kicker is that it's hard for us to go South for a whole week, so she decided she could go on her own.

Also this weekend was the Bluegrass Festival in Prospect, just a few miles from our campground. My mom took Asa there for the entire day, and Asa ended up borrowing a fiddle and joining in a "band scramble", where various bands are put together ad hoc from the musicians at the festival. They had half an hour to rehearse, and then she played on the big stage. Her band played Old Joe Clark, which she has played before, and Cripple Creek which she hadn't. I guess she sang in both songs too, just ponying right up to that microphone. Her band won 3rd place, too!

I'm telling you, this girl is counting down the days until she is old enough to go on American Idol....

So now she's 160 miles away from us for the whole week, and she got a part in the children's theatre production (which is Rumpelstiltskin this year), despite over a hundred kids turning up to audition. We'll go see her performance this Saturday and then bring her home.

In the meanwhile, Mackenzie and I got plenty of time to hike together and then we spent Sunday and Monday camping together as well. We took a gorgeous seven mile hike along the Rogue River to the Natural Bridge and back, a place where the entire rushing river disappears into a lava tube and goes underground for a couple of hundred feet. It's hard to capture this phenomenon in photos, but it's very impressive in person. Then we decamped to Crescent Lake where we spent the next evening and day. All the boaters were clearing out from the weekend and we had the place almost to ourselves.

He's such a fun kid to hang out with, and I have to say that the great benefit to parenting mindfully and positively all those previous years is having an almost teenage kid that you really enjoy being with. We were walking along the lakeshore when we spotted a small shore bird, we think it was a mountain plover, tending a nest. I cautioned Mackenzie to be very careful, because their nests are often in shallow scrapes in the ground and very well camouflaged, we wanted to avoid stepping on it. Well, Mr. Eagle Eyes himself spotted the nest, with three eggs and one absolutely adorable fluffy baby bird:

This little birdie is about the size of my thumb, and the eggs not much bigger than my thumbnail, I can't believe he spotted them. By the time we left, we rechecked the nest and all four babies had hatched. What a wonderful end to the week's adventures!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Stella tagged me with this one. I especially like the first question as it's always fun to see what people used to be up to before you knew them. So I think I'll tag HealingArtsMom (since she just started blogging), and Seppie (whose life is changing in big ways right now) and Sarah, whose blog is always interesting and inspiring.


Ten years ago, I was still working for Microsoft, on a new web project called Sidewalk, that was not destined to last very long. It was an internet entertainment guide that was going to roll out city by city (,, that kind of thing). I had just been working in Microsoft's CD division, doing titles like 500 Nations, with Kevin Costner's production company, a Wine Guide with Oz Clarke, and the Ultimate Frank Lloyd Wright with Byron Preiss, which was really kind of fun - I got to jet off to Burbank to work with the production company on 500 Nations, or wine and dine with a world-renowned wine expert, or tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house, all really cool stuff.

Sidewalk, however, was not nearly as engaging. Also, it really was just not working out for me to be a working mom. Mackenzie had never really adjusted to not having me at home. His early years were very difficult, he had multiple overwhelming sensory issues, motor skills issues, and food allergies. The world was hard for him, and he understandably wanted me there with him. So right around this time ten years ago, my hubby said "Why don't you just quit?"

The Magic Words. So I did, at the end of August in 1998 I quit my job of 10 years and became a stay-at-home mom, and eventually a homeschooling mom. Though I didn't know it, my life had definitely taken a turn towards an adventure I had never really even considered up until that point. I have never regretted it!

Oh yeah, and ten years ago I still flew my airplane, skydived a lot, and was (of course) doing triathlons!)


Cut up and freeze the remainder of the 15 pounds of cherries we picked

Pack up for our camping trip tomorrow

Work on the slideshow for my Team in Training end-of-season wrap-up

Go for a run with my hubby in the heat to get ready for the Cascade Lakes Relay in August (which will be HOT!)

Burn all of my downloaded photos from the last three weeks (all 1,000 of them!) to CDs so I can clear them off of my camera


Fresh garden carrots, coconut popsicles, tamari almonds, good dark chocolate, Kettle's sea salt and vinegar potato chips, dates with cream cheese and walnuts, and smoothies.


Probably not much different than I'm doing today. Except I'd get a massage once a week. Maybe twice a week. I'd be able to give a lot of money to my favorite causes, like Heifer Project, Sierra Club Legal Defense fund (now called EarthJustice), and Obama's campaign among others. I might just get me that pretty red bicycle that I don't really need but really really want, and maybe a zoom lens for my camera. But other than that, I can't really think of anything I want that I don't currently have. Most of what's good in my life can't be bought be money anyways. I know that makes me a very very lucky person.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Broken Kids

Ooooh, urgggh. Summertime plans go awry. Mackenzie broke his arm! Not doing anything dangerous of course, like jumping on our trampoline, but jumping around the living room like a nut after hearing that hubby got him a cell phone. Never mind the fact that we emphasized this is just a phone for when he is on his own - he has started walking to the store or friends' houses by himself - I think it must be some kind of rite of passage or something to get a phone because he was obviously very excited by this concept! That one took me by surprise. But here's a photo of him trying to set up his voicemail. He looks so, well, older all of a sudden!

Anyways, the arm is definitely broken, and supposedly we hear from the orthopedist today how badly. Keep your fingers crossed!

In related news, in karate class last week, I was practicing with my friend's daughter. We were doing throws and as I threw her, the guy next to me threw his partner and his knee collided with her nose which is now broken! It seems like it's a broken kind of week. And the start of summer is not really when you want to go breaking things, when everyone else is going to the pool and biking around and stuff. Bummer!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Summertime Kids

Just wanted to share my favorite two photos of the kids taken recently. What I love most about my kids faces is their eyes. The first thing hubby ever said to me was "wow, you have big eyeballs", by which I think he meant I have big and blue eyes. He has beautiful baby blues too, and obviously the kids got some combo. Mackenzie has eyes very much like mine. Asa's have this curious tilt to them that my aunt had as well. Her face reminds me very much of my aunt, my mom's sister who died the year hubby and I got married.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

There Is A Special Place in Hell

Reserved for people who shoot off fireworks at all hours of the night on days that are NOT the 4th of July. I hope all of our cats are still here in the morning. They were born after last year's 4th so they will have no freakin' clue what all this noise is about.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mom Vs. Coach

I've been very lucky in my mommy career that my worlds really haven't collided all that much. In the first two years of Mackenzie's life, I was a working mom, and those times were tough all the way around. He was a high-needs baby and toddler, and it was hard to leave him each and every morning to go in to work. Fortunately, my husband was a stay-at-home parent during the day, brought him in to me every single day at lunch to nurse and play, and then went to work every night. That took the edge off of the conflict for me, and made it workable, at least in the short term.

Since I quit full-time employment though, I've really had it pretty easy. Hubby is an incredibly involved dad who hangs with the kids through my novel-writing, photography, and coaching gigs and even through my training and competing in the Ironman (no small time commitment there). The last few weeks though have brought my mom role and my role as a coach for a Team in Training triathlon team into close proximity with each other. For one thing, his job as a corporate pilot means he can be gone on the spur of the moment with very little notice. Lately, his flying has coincided with almost every critical training for my team, leading me to drag my kids around to lakes and campgrounds and hang out while I help people into wetsuits and onto bicycles. Luckily, they're very good sports and after what we have jokingly referred to as my "suck it up" speech (something about kids in Africa being responsible for their entire family's goat herd all day), they've been great at helping me out in my responsibilities, or at least keeping themselves entertained (for example, by biking around the parking lot in a pirate costume!)

This last weekend was the culmination of six months of training for my athletes, they were to attempt an Olympic distance triathlon near Bend, Oregon. Again, at the last minute my husband got called to fly and the kids and I took off in our camper van without him. Rushing around registration tables, at the same time as juggling my daughter into the kids' triathlon I had promised her she could do just about turned my last hairs grey (and there aren't that many that aren't already!), especially in a crowd of around a thousand parents and a very unexpected (by me at least) five hundred kids participating in the race. I had unwisely hopped out of the car without my cell phone, leaving my friend to park it and bring my son to meet us. It was a total mad house, but we finally did meet up and got to watch Asa smile her way through her second triathlon. She especially loved how the "swim" part of it was really a gigantic waterslide.
After the race, I briefly lost her in the finish line confusion. Fortunately, we had talked about what would happen if we got separated, and she followed our plan and walked to the bike transition area and sat next to her bike. Having a plan in a crowded place is definitely always a good idea! I was so grateful to see her sitting there.

The kids also got to come with me (and the athletes) to the pasta party. They hung out with the other athletes and listened to inspiring speeches, and also to parents describing their children's battles with leukemia (leading Asa at one point to say, not so sotto-vocce, that she hoped she never had to have leukemia. I hope not either sweetheart, which is one reason that Team in Training is so important). Fortunately after that point hubby made it over and my days of juggling coaching and mom duties wound down for the weekend. From that point on I could concentrate on my athletes, and if you want to read more about their experiences, I'm writing it up in segments on my Ironmom Blog.