Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sharp Dressed Man

When in Chinatown, who can resist these adorable (and cheap!) outfits?

My favorite part is the hairpiece. :-)

Here's another rare photo of Baby Sparky in real clothes (as opposed to footed jammies), on his way to (Great) Grammie and (Great) Grandad's for a belated Christmas celebration...

You've come a long way, Baby...

(6 days old)


Sunday, January 25, 2009

When Life Gives You Cornflakes...

...make cornflake cookies. I am convinced that there is no better combination in the food world than peanut butter and sugar. Throw in some butter, corn syrup and corn flakes and you've got all the makings of a heavenly diabetic coma. I've got several versions of cornflake cookies lined up, not all of which are coated in peanut butter, but all of which sound positively delicious.

This is my entitlement. See, our daughter, being a single mother on very little income, qualifies for WIC coupons and while we could well afford to stock the kitchen and buy the grandson's formula, she can't, so I figure this is her way of contributing to the household budget and we might as well take advantage of this gracious gift from our federal government much as I am opposed to "entitlements" generally.

Trouble is, we now have a cupboard full of store-brand cornflakes and evaporated milk (the coupons specify exactly how many ounces of specific food products you may purchase...not being one to turn away free food, we dutifully stocked up on evaporated milk with every coupon even though I have no clue what we are supposed to do with it). We were keeping up with the cornflakes supply until I made the executive decision to throw away the white sugar, cannister and all (the reason for this is simple...I grew weary of putting away the sugar cannister and wiping sugar off the counter and floor because someone else in the house, who shall remain nameless, was unable to put away/clean up after herself...also, none of us really need any more white sugar in our diet, so no more...which leaves us with a bunch of unsweetened cornflakes and really, who wants to eat that?).

Granted, I could have thrown away the extra 5 or 6 boxes of cereal. Afterall, the cost per box, if we had paid for them was only about $1.84 each. But this runs completely counter to my core beliefs...i.e. though shall not throw away food (somehow, in my mind, cornflakes count as "food" while sugar apparently does not) because there are starving children all around the world. So instead? Well, instead, I decided to go to the store and buy sugar again, and a bunch of other ingredients that cost more than the 5 or 6 boxes of cereal, so that I might make lots of cornflakes cookies. Most of which I will give away because seriously, I think I may be borderline diabetic.

But first, I will indulge myself in the wonder that is peanut butter cornflake cookies. Mmmmm...


Thursday, January 22, 2009

To Blog, or Not, That is the ?


So I have this blog, see. And I feel like I should post stuff on it. But I've nothing to say. Kind of like a Pooh moment. Or many Pooh moments. And then I try to post and my wireless internet connection is all like, "now you see me, now you don't." So I get frustrated and mad at myself for wasting precious time trying to post only to accomplish nothing. And I can't blog (or access blogs) at work anymore because of the severe restrictions Big Brother has placed on our internet access. And I have friends and family with whom I haven't kept in touch and I think, if I would at least update the blog, that would be better than no communication at all even though it doesn't take the place of a private email, or letter, or (gasp) a phone call.

The little one should provide plenty to blog about...if nothing else, his cuteness and sheer size is blog worthy. The boy is now a whopping 21 pounds!! A ham! We finally convinced the doctors that we needed to switch formula because we fear this might be hindering his development in other areas, such as his ability to do basically anything but eat. He's finally successfully rolled over on his own and much enjoys belly time, but he still can't sit up on his own even though he's seven months old (or 4 1/2 if you consider he was 10 weeks early). Actually, he seems to want to skip sitting and crawling altogether and move straight ahead to walking. When I try doing sit-ups with him, he stiffens up like a board and pushes himself upright into the standing position and lets out a big grin. Every time. Here he is in his snow suit.

My, what big feet you have!

I could also blog about the fact that I just colored my hair. This is only blog-worthy if you know that I am not one to change my hair color. Ever. I have been a dirty golden blonde all my life, sometimes more golden than others, but never any other color, until my family convinced me that I would look better as a brunette. Not being one to worry much about my hair, I let my daughter (the future beautician in the family) pick my hair color. The box said "light golden brown" which sounded good. The results are much more like "medium espresso with a hint of red dye #5." A drastic change, yes, but I kind of like it. So far, the reactions from people have been positive. Now though, I realize this means some kind of upkeep or transition plan is needed if I ever hope to go back to my natural color (and I don't mean gray). There are no pictures to document this major event in my life.

My transition to stay-at-home-grandma is slowly progressing. I am supposed to be on contract for 20-30 hours a week with my old employer (my former "employer" is now my "client"), working mostly at home. So far, those hours have been mostly in the office. This transition takes time and patience and discipline but is finally on the move. I think the secret will be in not being at the office. I've had a number of clients ask me to take on their work personally, but I'm trying to say "no" as much as possible, preferring instead to contract for a few accountants (in addition to my former employer), helping in their "back office" so to speak. I want to keep my client responsibilities to a minimum for now while I work on the transition. If ever I decide to start up my own practice, I want to do that in the Pacific Northwest, if and when we ever get there. I need to work on getting my home office fully functional, both in terms of hardware and software. Now that the spare bedroom has become a nursery, I may have to move to the basement which is a fate almost worse than death.

Oh, yeah, the Inauguration (did I spell that right?)! I didn't watch it because we (my daughter and I) were busy at the doctor's office with Baby Sparky, getting his "contact dermatitis" confirmed (hoping to rule out all manner of other obnoxious sources of rashes that won't go away). Now, two days and a big jar full of steroid filled Aquaphor later, his skin is good as a baby's again. And there is much rejoicing because now he can sleep! But seriously, I must admit to much more optimism about Obama's presidency than I had expected. It is good to see the American people energized and enthused. It is good to see Obama acting seriously and quickly to address some of the bigger concerns. It was good to hear him address the fact that we, as individuals, are responsible for our own cure here in America (i.e. that it's not just a government problem). And it was nice to see such a beautiful all-American family exemplifying family values on this important day. I pray for the Obamas and for America.

And one more thing...I wanted to share the results of my latest framing experience...remember the Pig Farm? Here it is in framed form, shadow boxed on a "grappa" (burgundy) colored mat, hanging on our wall that was seemingly painted to support this particular painting...I was very pleased!):

(click to enlarge)

Hanging next to the Pig Farm are two paintings done by my mother who is an outstanding artist in her own right. Below is the other framing project, a painting my mom gave us for Christmas, of San Simeon Cove (near Hearst Castle on the Central Coast of CA where she lives and one of our favorite places in all of America)...beautiful, no?

(click to enlarge)

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Friday, January 09, 2009


We're back! It was a nice long journey around the western half of the United States, a good balance of time with family, sightseeing, and just plain chilling out/alone time. 7,100 miles of driving, 90% of which was driven by my husband. Our timing could not have been more perfect as we dodged every snow storm, flood, and avalanche. Our only weather event was constant rain on the drive down I-5, from Seattle to San Francisco, and some nighttime fog, but at least we got out of Seattle before they closed down I-5 (and 67 other highways altogether). We would still be there if not for Julian being admitted to the hospital, forcing us to leave early. And we flew through Flagstaff twice (both ways!) immediately after the snow had been plowed off the roads. I figured we'd surely hit a Wintry Mix as soon as we headed north to Kansas City, but it was sunny, dry and 40 degrees the whole way. We arrived home 1 hour before our daughter had to be back at work (she had been admonishing us for 4 days to "hurry up," claiming that she would be fired (from her $3.30/hr job) if she didn't show up for work on Thursday at 5:30...each time she admonished us, we slowed down and told her to relax, we'd get her home on time...we left no room in our schedule for weather delays, but she did get to work on time :-). Now it's time for an oil change.

We learned on this trip that Julian is a champion traveler. While it's true he got sick after receiving 1,000 kisses from all his "new" relatives (actually, his own mother was the one to get sick first), he is much better today. I think the long naps sleeping upright in the warm carseat did him some good. That, and the nebulizer (thank goodness for car power plug-in devices!). I also think that because he got sick while we were not with him (he and our daughter were staying with her other family for about a week), it helped her act more like a mother (as soon as we picked them up though, she quickly reverted to being the child again, which was very frustrating).

It was fun to watch his expressions change as he warmed up to each new person he met. A month ago, he did not know a stranger, but now that he recognizes faces and voices, he leans back and looks down his nose skeptically at each new person he meets, sizing them up first before smiling at them. Now he insists that they sing first. Any Christmas song will do.

While I thought we were crazy for traveling with an infant, now I can see that it was a good thing. There is no doubt that Julian was in charge the whole way. One night, on our way home, the three adults in the car were bickering mightily over something and he started crying persistently. Big tears! We were in Texas and pit stops were few and far between. My husband became more inconsolable than Julian...it's "funny" how the most stressful thing about a baby crying is the pain it inflicts on others. Finally, we arrived at a Super Mega Pit Stop, the nicest rest area I've ever seen, with every amenity needed. We pulled in, got out the diaper bag full of pharmaceuticals, and went inside to determine the cause of Julian's crying (which, of course, had now been replaced with giggles and smiles). The three of us got to the business of changing diapers, taking temperatures, administering drops, creams and ointments (it was actually my idea, the "paranoid" one, to let him wear the new onesie he got for Christmas, without washing it first...it's true what they say about that, by the way) , and ultimately focussed all of our attention on the Little One who secretly knew he had already done his job of settling our dispute, whatever it was.

And no post would be complete without a picture or two, although it seems the cameras were packed away for most of the trip.

Our Last Sunset on the Coast

Watching Timothy and Blossom

Sunset Somewhere Over Arizona

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Divine Comedy, Redux

No, I'm not going to wax on about my current journey through Hell, Purgatory & Paradise (if Oklahoma is as good as they say...hey, we're almost home anyway!). I just want to comment on a recent...um...I don't know what you call this:

During our short stay in San Francisco, we strolled into a few art galleries along the Wharf (near Ghiradelli Square). One was exhibiting the prints of Salvador Dali that illustrate the "greatest Italian work of poetry," Dante's Divine Comedy. I don't fashion myself a guru of poetry by any stretch of the imagination (or art for that matter...just ask Sisiggy ;-), but I do have a college education and would think that I should at least be familiar with the title, if not the concept of Divine Comedy. Alas, I was clueless. If I were playing a game of Trivia, I would have said it was a Woody Allen movie. I mean, I've heard of Dante's Inferno, but I thought that was the poem. I didn't realize that was just a part of the bigger whole. As you can tell, I've read none of it.


In addition to being ignorant about Dante, I've really only ever known one of Salvador Dali's paintings, The Persistence of Memory (though I could not have told you what this painting was called). What I discovered in the gallery was that I really like some of Dali's work. Specifically, I really liked his depictions of the Divine Comedy. They were ethereal and beautiful. In fact, I came dangerously close to buying one when I learned that the prices were not prohibitive. But alas, I do not need such a thing, especially given that I do not even know the history of either artist, but it did give me pause and cause to do a bit of googling.

Fast forward to today (traversing OK on I-40, the very image of Paradise) and I'm reading a book given to me by a friend that "I must read" (I'm sure this had to be on Oprah's Book Club list), entitled Eat, Pray, Love which is both a travelogue (I love travelogues) and a story of one woman's journey to Italy (to eat...she's "double majoring in speaking (Italian), and eating - with a concentration in gelato"...heh :-), to India (to pray), and to Indonesia (to find the balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence). I'm still in Italy, and reading about why it is that she and so many others travel to Italy simply to learn the language which she describes as "perfectly ordained to express human emotions." By her description and research, the Italian language as spoken today was chosen by a group of intellectuals in the 16th century who decided that there needed to be one dialect chosen to be the national language, and they chose the most beautiful dialect they could find which was in 14th century Florence and which derived from the (you guessed it) "great" Florentine poet, Dante. Specifically, it was the language he used in Divine Comedy, the language of the people on the streets shaped in what he called "il dolce stil nuovo" ("sweet new style").

And therein, ensued another lesson (however brief) about Dante's Divine Comedy about which I previously knew nothing.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

An Update on the Baby Spartacus

Thank you all for the prayers...little Spartacus has been released from the hospital and should be ready to travel back to the icy cold miserable Midwest soon. He's a trooper. When we arrived at the hospital to visit him, he was singing and babbling to his toys. When he saw us (and especially his grandpa), he let out a big toothless grin. When I sang "Here Comes Santa Claus" he let out a big giggle. What a wonderful feeling. He's still wheezing a bit but the breathing treatments are helping and he's much better than he was...a huge relief!

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