Archive for the ‘life stories’ Category

I’ve Been Noticing That You . . .

10.28.10

TRINITY
Trinity + Gizmo
We’ve been noticing that you wake up every morning thinking something is wrong (“Oh, my back hurts!” or “I think I’m sick”). At least that’s what Dad tells me, since he’s usually the one who wakes you. But then he sends you off to shower, and somehow you always come out just fine. Maybe it’s really just the waking up part that unsettles you? :)

I’ve been noticing that you . . .

  • Want friends who don’t gossip, use inappropriate language, or get catty.
  • Want to shave your legs, start wearing makeup, and do other things that you’re still too young for.

* * *

BLAKE
Blake
We’ve been noticing that you start most every sentence with, “I just realized . . .” You’ll even start two or three sentences within a single conversation that way. We’re glad you’re realizing so much all the time. :)

I’ve been noticing that you . . .

  • Have gotten so independent, heading to the school wrestling matches and basketball games with no idea whether your friends will be there.
  • Ask me how I’m doing all the time, or about the progress or results of something I’m working on. That makes me very happy.

* * *

AIDEN
Aiden
We’ve been noticing how much you love oragami. You love to find music and viral video mash-ups, or music with cool graphic animations on YouTube.

I’ve been noticing . . .

  • That we let you get away with not cleaning and doing your jobs or reading.
  • That you’re still a sweet little mama’s boy. You still need to make sure I know that you think I’m beautiful. You still tell me you have a crush on me and refer to me as “The Cutie.” You still want me to snuggle you to sleep at night. But you’re getting better about letting other people sit next to me at meal time.

* * *

NOELL & IZ
Lunch at the Pita Jungle.
We’ve been noticing that we are constantly asking each other questions like, “Are you excited to . . . (fill in the blank with whatever is next on the agenda)?” It occurred to me how comical it is when you asked me if I was excited to do something on my task list that was especially mundane. I guess we’re the type of people to generate enthusiasm about even our everyday life. But really, it was you started the, “Are you excited to…” questions. And you do it the most. ;)

I’ve been noticing that . . .

  • We go out for wine or a beer once or twice a week.
  • That much of our sense of humor together is in making up hilarious and outrageous scenarios, as if they might happen. And in taking common phrases people use for serious, deep, or sacred events and apply them to the most mundane activities. “Let’s go do this thing we call, ‘Picking up the kids from school.’”

I’ve been noticing these little things — little things that came sneaking into our lives recently, and will soon go sneaking away.

Sniffing the Threat and Standing Guard

09.23.10

On Guard

Sept. 22, 2010
The morning’s overcast sky, leftover from last night’s thunderstorm, distressed Gatsby. We almost never have rain-threatening skies and Gatsby was sure something was wrong.

I opened the back door for him so he could take one of his usual outdoor treks. He loves being outside and he spends most of the morning in the backyard.

This morning, though, he stood at the door, just his nose hanging out, as he tried to sniff the answers to the situation. Then he would look at me and vocalize a Scooby-like concern. At one point his agitation sent him running into the living room and back to the door as he grunted and growled.

Finally, Blake took him outside. This gave Gatsby the courage to fulfill what he considers to be his duty to our pack — he stood sentinel on a patio chair where he could better investigate the possible threat.
On Guard

Usually he watches our airway for birds, chasing and barking at them when they trespass into our territory. This morning, it was just the clouds he intended on protecting us from.

On Guard

Music Monday: Shine On

08.16.10

My favorite song, when I was three, was called Shine On. I learned it in the children’s program in church. I really loved to sing it out, especially the line, “Shine on, shine on bright and clear!”
Childhood Photo - Me at 3.
They must have noticed my passion because one day the music leader invited me to come to the front and sing it to all the kids. I was definitely up for the task. She carried me on her right hip with one arm supporting me (can you believe I remember this?). She held a microphone to my mouth with her other hand — although it’s possible I just imagined that microphone into a false memory — and I sang to everyone that they should definitely shine on.

To be truthful, I think I was singing to them that I, myself would continue to shine on.
Me at 3.

Anyway, the Kooks have given me a modern, updated song to Shine On to. And my new song makes me feel at least as happy. Have a listen . . .

More San Diego Beach Pictures

08.13.10

Of 114 photos, I found my 13 favorites. I shared five of those in yesterday’s post.

Here are the other eight . . .

Aug10 742

Aug10 762

Aug10 779

Aug10 789

Aug10 748

Aug10 761

Aug10 788

Aug10 780

No-Plan Vacations: Why On-the-Fly is Easier Than Ever

08.12.10

June 012
It didn’t matter that my parents are both planners (Dad would go nuts if I still hadn’t booked my Christmas flight home from college by the March before), living for the moment is at my core. Eighteen years of nurture did not overcome nature in this respect.

To make things even better (not worse), I married someone who is the same way.
June 022

Sometimes things get frantic (like when we realize the concert we assumed would start at 8:00 actually starts at 5), but mostly it’s just fun. It works for both of us. (And yes, we grabbed the keys and made it to the concert before the doors opened. We’re flexible like that).

For example, I knew I had to get myself to the beach this summer and introduce it to our kids. San Diego is only a seven hour drive away. When the kids got out of school in May I let Izzy know it was my biggest wish for our summer break, and he agreed we should make sure we fit it in somewhere. Where, exactly? Well, that didn’t matter. We’d find a weekend.

So after we packed the first summer month with work video and audio recordings, after we filled July with a visit to my family in Missouri and my daughter’s dance company rehearsals, we ran into our first commitment-free weekend last week.

Let’s go!

And this is how Izzy and I do things. We pulled up Google Maps and jumped on the route it gave us to the entire city of San Diego, since we didn’t have a hotel yet. No time for hotel booking!

We drove until we landed at a beach. We jumped out, put leashes on the dogs, and we all ran to the water. The kids were so ecstatic (goal achieved) that we let them go in with their clothes and all. The rush of waves weirded the dogs out, but the rest of us loved it.

We played until we were freezing and starving. And then, at about seven pm, we called a couple hotel chains and they told us what they had available around the city. We found one that wasn’t too far out of our price range and booked it. It took ten minutes of being quiet in the car while Izzy made two calls.

Tech & Spontaneity

Smart phones, Yelp, Google Maps, Google, and Evernote all make it easy for us spontaneous-types to be ourselves.

  • Suddenly hungry and need a vegan restaurant in San Diego? Yelp “vegan,” pick a promising option, and clip the other options to your Evernote for the next meals.
  • Need to know how to get to that hotel you just called from the who-knows-what beach you landed on? Google Maps knows how to get there, even if you don’t. And when you find the boogie-board rental place on the way to said beach, drop a pin at your current map location to find your way back. No need to write down addresses or directions, or anything at all.
  • Have a couple hours to play before it’s time to drive home? Google “fun free things to do in San Diego” and find people just dying to share the possibilities with you. I did this during our drive from Phoenix, just in case we needed a non-beach activity, and clipped the two most interesting ideas to my Evernote. They were waiting for us when we found that extra two hours.

Here’s what we did before driving back home to Arizona . . .
Aug10 813

Aug10 833

Aug10 847

Izzy and I pack life in. We’re always doing stuff we love and that doesn’t leave much time for planning. We plan a menu of a few meals every week, and I plan upcoming episode topics for work. And that’s about as much planning as we can stand. We know what our interests are and we just make them happen. I’ve found that very little planning is actually necessary.

Aug10 791

We may not get great hotel deals this way, but instead of calling ahead or getting online to do price comparisons, we’re working and making money, or doing something else that is awesome and fun.

So who cares about missing the deals? Not me.

Aug10 772

the Story of my Baby Blanket

07.21.10

shredding_baby_blanet
It didn’t matter to me that two-years of dragging my baby blanket around was ripping it into shreds. The shredded corner was perfect for wrapping around my hands as I sucked my index finger — a dual combination that was the ultimate in security. I never went to sleep without my blanket and I took it everywhere possible.
replacing_old_baby_blanket
By the time my blanket threatened to become two pieces instead of one — which would have been a great backup plan for those lonely times when I misplaced the beloved thing — Mom made me a new one. (Mom is holding the old one on the right while my big sister and I are holding the new one on the left).

“Look, it has two colors now instead of just one,” is what she probably told me. “And look how bright the colors are. Your old one is so faded.”

My old one? My “old” one had a built-in hand-wrap! It was perfect!

Plus, I hated the bright yellow side of that new blanket. It reminded me of the too-bright Arizona sun that often made my head hurt.
throwing_out_the_baby_blanket
It was heartache, but my parents insisted, and I did finally put that old blanket into the trash. Mom and Dad hadn’t really convinced me, though. I took it back out later. They had to hide it from me until garbage day came around.

The New Blanket

Somehow I did learn to fall in love with the new blanket that my mother made me, and it went around with me everywhere, too. It was my steady and stable companion through four moves: from Arizona to two different houses in L.A., then to Michigan and finally to Kansas. Someone lost it when I went on to college (and it wasn’t me, I am sure!).

I wish I still had that blanket.

But as much as I learned to love my new blanket, I only ever loved the green side. I hated that yellow side for as long as I had it, and I kept the yellow side down so I didn’t have to look at it. The green side was calming — just what a baby blanket is for, right?

In fact, it took me until the spring of 2008 — when I was thirty-five years old — to realize that for all these years I’ve disliked the color yellow because I associated it with the overly bright side of my new baby blanket, to bright suns and headaches.

It was that spring that I finally questioned my dislike of the color yellow. Maybe it was because I’m back in Arizona again and I now love * love * love the crazy bright sun here, that it occurred to me that it didn’t make sense to completely rule out an entire hue! So I bought some yellow clothes and I was in love.
hymans_at_mesa_art_center
tami_and_noell
I painted my scraproom a bright buttery yellow.
kids_in_my_scraproom
And this year I hope to paint a bathroom and two walls in my living room the same happy bright color. My favorite color for painted walls is still green, though. The green in my kitchen is similar to the green on the “good” side of my new baby blanket.
kitchen_and_spices
I guess the walls to my home are becoming an ode to my old fabric companions. Or maybe my little home has just replaced the security I felt from my baby blankets.

* * *


Ella Publishing Co. has nominated me as one of the nine Most Influential Scrapbookers of 2010. You can learn more about this award, the nominees, and the blog tour at http://ellapublishing.com/misa or http://ellapublishing.com/blog.

Many thanks to all the awesome congrats and answers to my “attachment” question from yesterday! I have emailed the winners, but in case you’re interested, here the random numbers and the names of the winners:

82-Pat Hines * 526-Lizzie * 583-Heather C * 311-Kate Blue * 804-Nitasha * 740-Britta * 278-Nancy * 689-Sylvie H * 172-Liz Freeze * 146-Jennifer Alfonso

Please help me honor my fellow nominees by visiting their blogs throughout the week. You could win one of 100 cool prizes! Click below to say hello to today’s spotlighted bloggers.

Giveaway: 9 Most Influential Scrapbookers 2010

07.20.10


I snuck my way into the scrapbooking industry.

Traditionally, scrapbookers have had to hope for a spot on a prestigious design team, or get noticed by a magazine to get a place in our competitive little world. I didn’t do that. Izzy wanted to produce a scrapbooking video tutorial. I was a scrapbooker and I have performance experience. So we combined our skills and created the Paperclipping Video Tutorials.

People started watching, and then people started purchasing memberships. It was really an amazing experience.

Full of ideas, we have since turned Paperclipping into a multi-show and event website: I started the first live scrapbooking show over the internet a few years back, and we now have two audio talk shows where we gather together interesting people with interesting things to say about our hobby — again, unlike anything we’ve ever seen in scrapbooking. It’s been fun!

We’ve just been here having a great time while expending a lot of sweat and love in order to provide the ultimate experience for scrapbookers. So it made me happy and grateful to be noticed when I got the letter from Ella Publishing, announcing they nominated me as one of the Nine Most Influential Scrapbookers for 2010.

Thanks for noticing me, Ella! :)

Each of us nine nominees contributed to this book, which you can purchase for only $4.99…

Or you might try and win the book, along with 9 other prizes. . .

Giveaway

I get to give away a prize from each of us nominees, plus the book from Ella. . .

  • A $20 gift certificate from Ella Publishing Co.
  • Two digital-scrapbooking template packs (20 templates) from Cathy Zielske
  • A six-month Paperclipping membership from Noell Hyman
  • A “Play Date” product pack from Jenni Bowlin
  • A place in either a beginner photo-editing class or a beginner digital-scrapbooking class from
    Jessica Sprague
  • A spot in the “Beginner/Intermediate Online Photography Workshop” from Maggie Holmes
  • “Paper Girl” and “On Holiday” product packs from Margie Romney-Aslett
  • A $50 gift certificate toward any class on reneepearson.com from Renee Pearson
  • A place for you and a friend in both “Love Your Pictures, Love Your Pages” and “Journal Your
    Christmas” from Shimelle Laine
  • A place in either Elizabeth Dillow’s “Inspiration Defined” or Karen Grunberg’s “Book of Stories”
    from Stacy Julian

How to Enter

I will pick randomly, but you have to answer a question! Here’s the question:

When you were little, were you attached to a baby blanket? A thumb? A stuffed toy? What were you attached to? Or were you so independent you didn’t need anything? Please share.

Tomorrow I will share my own story of emotional childhood attachment. You have until tonight to enter the drawing with your comment. Ten people will win!

ETA: Thank you! This contest is now closed! I have emailed the winners, but in case you’re interested, here the random numbers and the names of the winners:

82-Pat Hines * 526-Lizzie * 583-Heather C * 311-Kate Blue * 804-Nitasha * 740-Britta * 278-Nancy * 689-Sylvie H * 172-Liz Freeze * 146-Jennifer Alfonso

Congratulations!

Music Monday: Charlie’s Unpredictable Rhythms

07.19.10

My Dance Background & Unpredictability

1987_dance_performance
(the darkest blue legs in the middle of the stage are mine. Freshman year. 1980′s dancewear scariness)

I got lucky when my family moved to Michigan. There was a middle school that was part of the Michigan “Magnet” program. Abbot Middle School had a music-dance-theatre emphasis and even though my local school sat just down the street from where I lived, I took a bus to Abbot Middle School so I could get dance and vocal training and experience.

I had been choreographing dance pieces for fun since I was a young kid, but it was at this school that I got to choreograph on assignment and perform my numbers for other people. I also got to see other the other kids’ pieces. That is where I realized I had an intuitive sense for dance choreography, at least in one aspect — an aspect I realized was not a natural instinct for everyone: predictability. Or, rather, being unpredictable.

The other dancers in my class always repeated each 1-2 count movement on the other side of their body for counts 3-4, and then repeated the sequence a second time.

Right then left — again — right then left. (snore).

I preferred to keep the audience on constant alert so they would never know what I was doing next. Sometimes I would repeat a movement for three counts, but then do something totally unexpected on count four. I would often run a sequence beyond or just short of the standard 1-4 count or 1-8 count rhythm.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

I like the unpredictable and it’s the unpredictable, constantly changing guitar of John Frusciante that most stirs me in the song, Especially in Michigan, on the Stadium Arcadium album, which I blogged about a while back. I also mentioned the song, Charlie, in that original blog post. Charlie — a song about imagination and anything that happens to be your own personal inspiration — has the most unusual, unpredictable, tricky and complicated rhythm.

the Tricky and Complicated Rhythms of Charlie

First off, a disclaimer: I learned to count music for piano, singing, and dance. It’s been years, though, since I’ve had to count music and I’ll be honest — I don’t remember how it all works anymore. In the last fifteen years, the only motivation I’ve had to count music is to figure out how to count the musical timing of this song, Charlie, because it’s so unconventional.

To start with, there seems to be a regular 4-count rhythm for Anthony Kiedis’s lyrics, for the bridge and the chorus, and for the end of the song. As far as I can tell, Flea’s bass timing seems to be a 4-count, as well.

But Frusciante’s guitar goes nuts, playing its own rhythm. And somehow, while his guitar rhythm is totally different from every other part in the song during the verses and the beginning (I can’t even count his guitar parts because the rhythm seems to change mid-sequence), the song is somehow cohesive.

At the same time, Chad’s drum beat, while more conventional than Frusciante’s guitar, sparks its own surprise on every other fourth count. He drums a beat on the 2nd count, plus every other 4th. What about that missing 4th count interval? Chad hits it an eighth of a count later, every other time. Basically, he uses an even-note syncopated rhythm except for every other 4th beat, where he switches to an off-beat syncopation.

Unlike a lot of experimental or unusual songs, Charlie still has a great hook, so it’s unique qualities don’t sacrifice its ability to implant its melody into your psyche, or to capture a wide audience. It’s an absolutely captivating song from a band that, I still insist, is one of the most talented bands of all time. And totally unpredictable in the most endearing way.

* * *


Ella Publishing Co. has nominated me as one of the nine Most Influential Scrapbookers of 2010. You can learn more about this award, the nominees, and the blog tour at ellapublishing.com/misa or ellapublishing.com/blog.

Please help me honor my fellow nominees by visiting their blogs throughout the week. You could win one of 100 cool prizes! Click below to say hello to today’s spotlighted bloggers.

First to the Ella website…

and then to the blog of the first highlighted nominee…

Getting Acquainted

07.16.10

Over the last few years we’ve made it a priority to take our kids on long visits to see my parents at their farm in Missouri. I love re-introducing my parents to these awesome young people I have in my life. I love acquainting my kids with the two loving people who raised me and gave me so much.
blake_trinity_grandma
Below, Aiden and Grandpa are having a quiet little moment. Just enjoying the beauty of life on a farm, no frills…
aiden_and_grandpa
Then they got a little conversation going and my dad got to experience the complete joy of talking to Aiden, my very funny and surprisingly articulate little boy.
aiden_entertains_grandpa
He also got to see what a joy our dog, Gatsby, is…
gatsby_kisses_grandpa
After hearing how much Aiden loves to make stuff — 3-dimensional things out of paper and discarded pieces of plastic that normally go in the trash — Grandpa took him into his workshop, found some tools he could pass down to the cute little dude and taught him how to use them…
making_stuff_with_grandpa

* * *

We drove back into town yesterday to find that Ella Publishing would be announcing myself and eight other awesome ladies as the nominees of this award…

I must say, it feels good to have my work (along with Izzy’s) acknowledged for all we do with Paperclipping.com.

Normally I don’t put scrapbooky stuff on this blog (just my photos and stories), but Ella has set me up to run a week-long event with a prize-drawing here instead of on Paperclipping. So, all next week I will be here on this blog, linking to the other winners and their drawings, and on Tuesday we’ll have our own drawing!

In the meantime, you might want to check out this eBook that has layouts and time-saving scrapbooking tips from me and the other eight nominees.

Why Nobody Died When We Got Rid Of TV.

06.28.10

kids_in_hallway
I mentioned recently that we don’t have TV. Readers reacted. It was cute.

Our decision to remove television from our daily lives was not entirely for the reasons you might think. Also, our kids are actually allowed to watch it a little from the internet. But they rarely choose to. So here’s how that phenomenon came about and why…

The Reasons: A Combo of Old-Fashioned Values, Creativity Values, & Futurist-Techie Geekiness

Old Fashioned Values: It’s probably obvious from my blog that I only embody some old-fashioned values while many others I shun. I’m quite strict and traditional when it comes to what I think is appropriate content for children — more strict even than many of the religious families I know. There are a lot of “children” shows that are surprisingly not really child-friendly.

Restricting content is the easy part, though. You just tell the kids why they can’t watch a certain show and then empathize with their wishes that TV producers wouldn’t deliver that kind of content to children. Kids understand honest reasoning, and they respond well to your empathy toward their unfulfilled wishes.

Creativity Values: It’s the general limiting of time on the television that I found difficult. For years we let our kids watch TV, more than I ever thought I would as a parent. I am an avid non-watcher. I always thought I’d be good at limiting the amount they watched. It turns out that if you’re also distracted with an exciting lot of projects you enjoy, it’s hard to monitor amounts. And when a child sinks into the TV habit, it’s hard for him or her to motivate themselves to do creative stuff.

Plus, all day, everyday, our kids were constant infomercials to Izzy and me, pitching sales lines like, “At Best Western, if you drop a towel, they’ll pick it up for you!”

We supposedly needed this mattress, and that kitchen device, and a million different other things. The kids were adding items to their own Christmas list every single day starting Dec. 26 of each new year.

Futurist Techie Geekiness:
Then something amazing happened. Television shows began to appear on the internet! Izzy loves diving into the future headfirst before anyone else has gotten there, and as soon as a handful of shows became available online he sat the family down and made a proposition. He told the kids that we would let them each buy a TV show episode from Netflix every week in place of the TV. They could also watch some shows online.

The kids agreed. We canceled the satellite. For probably four years now, absolutely zero shows feed though the big black box in our living room. It only works for gaming and DVD’s now. We don’t even have local channels.

Then The Magic Happenend

Something truly magical and amazing happened two or three weeks after we got rid of TV — the kids lost interest! They stopped requesting the weekly show we promised to purchase for them. Since that time, internet television has grown and shows are easier to access than ever (and are usually free) but our kids only sit down to watch them around once a month or so. It’s amazing.
dinner_outside
A few weeks ago we were having dinner and one of the kids piped up, “It’s so weird how a bunch of my friends will start talking about some toy that they all know about but I’ve never heard of it. It’s because they learn about all this stuff on commercials.”

The other of our older two children agreed to noticing the same thing.

Uh-oh. Here it comes, I thought. They’re going to tell us that it bugs them how weird and different we are from everybody else.

“So, how do you feel about that?” I asked.

“It’s okay,” one said.

“Yeah, I don’t care,” said the other. “It’s just weird that they all know about the same things.”

Wow. I was not expecting them to be cool with that. I mean, I personally have never minded being different all my life. But I don’t know many other people who are cool with it.

So we talked about how much time they have to be creative and make things — which they do daily — and they said it’s a good trade.

We may be secularist, vegan, non-materialist, non-TV weirdo’s, but we’re a bit Leave It To Beaver, too.