Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's Snowing!

Flea is paying homage on the Altar to the Outdoors. He thinks he could catch the snowflakes if he were given half a chance....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sometimes You Need A Super Hero Cape

Anna was invited to a birthday party and we needed to get a birthday gift. We brainstormed and found some ideas on Etsy. Although it's meant for younger children, the Super Hero Cape appealed to us both.

I needed to create a logo for the cape and we decided to combine the design from the top left option and the letters from option second from the bottom left. Izzy's favorite colors are blue and green and we got blue fleece, green felt for the letters, a metallic novelty lace trim for the "tornado," a gold braid curtain pull for the collar and gold fringe for the bottom of the cape. The slogan, "More awesomeness per square inch," somehow got lost in the rush to complete it. Maybe if I had a fancy-schmancy embroidery-type sewing machine, I could have pulled that one off.
Super Hero Cape - Embryonic Form

Unfortunately, everything always takes longer than I expect or plan for. Anna cut the letters while I figured out what to do with the cape. My lovely Pfaff 1222E got tangled up with thread in the bobbin and quit (I have to make a trip to the repair shop tomorrow).  By this time I was very frustrated and thought this the worst present in the world. I seriously wished we had gone with Anna's original suggestion to buy an iTunes gift card. So I stitched the last three letters by hand and tacked the curtain braid on the collar. Then I discovered the small elastic cording I hoped to loop through the two blue flower buttons we'd gotten was too big. So, I stitched the elastic to the buttons with the thread and put a drop of glue on the thread and elastic for good measure. I didn't have time to make the tornade design on the back of the cape---we were already an hour late to the party.
I had Drew try the cape on so Anna could see it. It was awesome. I had made triangular darts at the shoulders and sewed some of the gold fringe under the folded-over fabric so it looked like epaulets. Drew ran up the stairs, the cape flying behind him, and came back down. "I love it!" he said. I did, too, and was glad I had finished the cape anyway.
"Please take some pictures," I told Anna.
"You don't think this is a lame gift?" she asked.
"No," I said firmly. "Every teenage girl needs a Super Hero Cape once in a while."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Apples Versus Oranges in the Parker Household

We only have one pitcher and only enough space in the refrigerator for one pitcher. Anna got to the pitcher before Drew did and made orange juice. Drew prefers apple juice.

Here's the threat:
"Apple juice is the next choice for the pitcher, or I will pour the orange juice out."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Brain Pickings on Love

This, quite frankly, is the best explanation of love I've found, from the book, "Big Questions from Little People: and Simple Answers from Great Minds:"

You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump.

Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)

And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

PS You have to be brave.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Drew's Birthday Present

Drew's birthday is tomorrow. Gregg said, "You see, most fathers get their sons baseball mitts or soccer balls for their birthdays, but I went one better. I ordered a hurricane that got you two days off from school!"

Drew beamed. "That's an awesome birthday present!"

Friday, September 28, 2012

Human Foils Operation Cat Vomit!

 Honestly, I don't know how the cat did it (and I have no idea which cat did it---they all fled the scene and are securely ensconced in their respective feline fortresses).
Cat vomit - Note interesting splatter pattern
 If you look at the photo, you can see that there's quite a large splatter pattern. If the cat was at the bottom of the stairs, it shouldn't have reached all the way to the riser of the 5th stair (not pictured). I mean, really, how could the cat have blown puke that high up from the bottom of the stairs? Using a blow gun? Perhaps a hand-held fan?
No cat vomit remains!
On the other hand, if the cat vomited from the top of the stairs, how did he or she manage to get the vomit on the risers? And there's no way the cat could have blown chunks from the second set of stairs as there is no access to overlook the first set. All I can say is, Bravo! Bravo, kitties! What massive talents you cats possess!

  Fortunately, all was cleaned up with Woolite with Oxy. I had to breathe through my mouth because of the stench and wear the rubber gloves because it was so juicy. But, no trace remains. 

 I am surprised the cats attempted such a brazen attack during daylight hours. Their previous efforts have yielded much better exclamations of horror and disgust by perpetrating this appalling act at night where the unwitting victim (usually always Gregg) steps in the mess when walking to the bathroom. Gregg has an uncanny 100% detection rate.

Better luck next time, you felines!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Drew Loves Parkour!

At this point, it looks like we're going to try the monthly family membership so Drew can do the Advanced Parkour. He's bored with the Basic and Gregg is interested in working out, too. I think it'd be a lot of fun to do adult gymnastics...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Every Silver Lining Comes with a Cloud

Well, it turns out I have mice. This is peculiar because I also have three cats. Mice are supposed to be afraid of cats---the very smell of them is supposed to act as a deterrent. Unfortunately, these mice must have inactive vomeronasal organs, because this is not effective.

It's probably because the cats are sleeping at the foot of my bed instead of working.

I interviewed the cats to see what was happening and here's how it went down:

Cat 1: What? You expect me to chase and catch mice? I'm a lover, not a fighter.That's not in my job description (obviously, he's a GS cat).

Cat 2: They taunted me and hurt my feelings. My mother was not a hamster (sniff)!

Cat 3: Couldn't be found anywhere. She's pretty skittish, so I just chalked it up to her usual behavior.

Later, I found this paper on the stairs to the basement.

I called in the professional assassins.

It's officially a war.

Stand by.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Automotive Genes Raise Their Ugly Heads!

Holy moly. Anna must come by her automotive knowledge genetically.
She correctly identified a Fisker Karma yesterday ("in disgusting yellow," she added) while I was driving. And today she's telling me that Bentley Continentals are "beautiful."

She's told everyone her dream car is an SLR McLaren Roadster.

I hope she is able to find a really wealthy boyfriend because she hails from lowly Ford and Mopar stock...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Two Kids in a Full Cube

At least I got them to smile for the camera. They were quite irked that I made them help me with moving. Anna and Drew despise moving and I'm right there with them.

You can see we packed the Cube quite nicely. Not nicely enough, though, on a previous pack because we managed to ding the screen of the LCD television. Oh, well. I guess I'll see how much it costs the replace the screen.

We're almost done emptying the apartment---we only have the freezer and a few large pictures to move to the new house. I have Drew's old bed and desk on Craigslist and two people interested, so I'm hoping they will go today. We also have a stack of items to go to Goodwill (which, fortunately, for us) is quite near. And then I can turn in the keys and hope I get my deposit back.

We didn't invest in a whole lot of boxes like we did for the move a year ago. It hasn't turned out to be a bad decision, just many small trips to pack the Cube, as you can see in this photo.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Zou Bisou Bisou at the French Embassy

Zou Bisou Bisou is loosely translated "Oh, sweet kiss." For $20, I entered the French Embassy last night and drank two St-Germain cocktails.  I listened to some very interesting music by Margot MacDonald, watched a little burlesque, and listened to some sad French music played on a ukelele by Victoria Vox. She was accompanied by a cello and that, I believe, made all the difference.

This video doesn't have Katie the Cellist playing with her, but it's about a bull at a bullfight----at least, that's what Victoria said!

I loved the lace teepees and the fairy lights after it got dark. I loved the people watching. Lace shorts are very trendy right now.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day and Selective Sloth

My industrious children surrounded by evidence of my sloth.
I have a wonderful life.

I was reading this article from Kyria on sloth. Me, slothful? No way. But I'm guilty of selective sloth---"diligent in a few areas of [my life] while [I] procrastinate terribly in others."
I'm not guilty of maintenance procrastination, but I definitely fell into the developmental procrastination---and last year was my comeuppance. I was complaining a few weeks ago that I wished I'd felt the way I feel now last year. My colleague asked me if I would have taken the time to do what I've been working on this past year and I said no, my MO is to go full-tilt, balls-to-the-wall all out. "There you go," he said. "You have to pay the piper at some point."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Cultured: Al Fresco for PM @The TM and Arias with a Twist

One of the things I promised myself upon return to the Real World was to take advantage of all the culture available in the DC area. I haven't been a slouch! Anna and I saw "Mr and Mrs Oki's Fabulous Trip" and ate sushi in the garden of the Textile Museum. Anna loved all the restaurants we passed (we got off at Dupont Circle) and wanted to stop at one before going home, but it was getting late.
Unfortunately, this picture was taken before we sat down, but we were at the far end of the picture, sitting behind the man in the white shirt who is holding his arm up to his head.

This is a lot of fun and we would do it again! I'm scheduled to attend a lecture at the TM on 31 May: Faces, Mazes and Neural Networks. I think I'm going to have become a member.

I'm also on the Korean Embassy list for events. The next night I was scheduled to attend "Arirang: 17 Women Artists, Opening Reception  Gallery Talk." Unfortunately, I also scheduled myself to attend the show at Woolly Mammoth, "Arias with a Twist." That wouldn't have been a problem normally, but the Metro started single-tracking early and I left work late, so I didn't want to chance missing dinner and the show. That meant I bailed on the reception.

That was the the wrong choice. I would have much preferred the reception to the show. The show had gotten rave reviews because of Basil Twist, a renowned puppeteer. If I wanted to watch a good puppet show, I should have chosen Petrushka or Dogugaeshi. The only good thing about it was the sheer pleasure of watching a drag queen who thoroughly enjoyed being a girl.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

...and not a tu-tu in sight.

One of the things I promised myself when I returned from the desert was to incorporate more culture into my life. So Anna and I went to the ballet at the Kennedy Center tonight to see Ballet Preljocaj in Angelin Preljocaj's Snow White. Wow, is all I can say. The wicked stepmother wore thigh-high spike-heeled boots and a black bustier as envisioned by Jean Paul Gaultier.

In the program, the choreographer said everyone knew the story of Snow White, so he wanted to use the symbols to convey the story, "not the myth or the legend of Snow White," but the story of Snow White herself. He did a magnificent job, in my opinion. I'd gladly watch it again.

I was entranced by the wicked stepmother. Preljocaj says, "The wicked stepmother is without doubt the central character in the tale. She is the one who I examine through her narcissistic determination not to give up on seduction and her role as a woman, even if it means sacrificing her stepdaughter."

Well, I guess the power of this ballet is because of my particular developmental milestone in life (not that I would sacrifice any members of my family or meet clinical criteria for narcissism). Anna, on the other hand, found this whole event incredibly boring. "Mom," she said as we walked out of the theater. "Didn't you realize the prince was dancing with a dead girl? Gross!" I, on the other hand, found his grief heartbreaking and I marveled at the athleticism required by the prince and Snow White to convey the depth of love and sorrow he possessed.

On the way home, we listened to Anna's playlist on the iPod. She has two songs titled, "Wonderful." The first one is by Annie Lennox and I thought this was the one she woke up to in the middle of the night when I was in the desert.

"I want to have you 'cause you're all I've got..."

But she told me it was actually the second song by Everclear.

"Promises mean everything when you're little and the world's so big."

Anna said, "I loved the chorus so much that I played it 33 times in a row so now it's still the top of my iTunes list. No songs have beaten it yet."

I just want my life to be the same
Just like it used to be
Some days I hate everything
I hate everything
Everyone and everything
Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Two Most Important Words? Me, Too.

This weekend has been interesting for the reading and viewing I've done in distinctly different venues, but on the same theme. The first video discussed regret. It's a human condition and we really need regret in our lives. As Kathryn Schulz says,
"If we have goals and dreams and we want to do our best, and if we love people and we don’t want to hurt them or lose them, we should feel pain when things go wrong. The point isn’t to live without any regrets, the point is to not hate ourselves for having them… We need to learn to love the flawed, imperfect things that we create, and to forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly — it reminds us that we know we can do better.”

Regret, though, is frequently accompanied by guilt. Guilt happens to be a very protective emotion. As Brene Brown says, feelings of guilt are inversely related to such harmful activities as suicide and violence. That's not the same as shame, however. Shame is a distinctly deadly emotion. You cannot selectively numb emotion. It's like spot-reducing in dieting. It doesn't exist. Brown says that might account for the fact we are the most indebted, overweight, addicted cohort in American history. We haven't learned how to live with shame. We also haven't learned how to live with being vulnerable. To many of us, vulnerability equates to weakness.

It doesn't have to be that way. To be vulnerable means to be brave, to expose ourselves as being less than perfect, as not having the answers, being scared. I don't think it necessarily means fearless. The Latin root for courage is "heart." In Brown's research, the people who have been able to be most vulnerable are described as living whole-heartedly.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, connection, loving, and belonging.

Brown says three elements must be present for shame to grow: Secrecy, Silence, and

In this article from Kyria, the author says we're locked in to cycles of hiding and blaming. I believe these can be traced back to shame.

To the degree you hide and blame, you will ruin the very thing that you most deeply desire. To the degree that you open your heart and give to the other, particularly in the context of some of your hardest moments, you will have the opportunity to develop true and lasting intimacy.

As Brown suggests in her talks, the antidote to shame and vulnerability is compassion. She says the most important words we can express to each other are "Me, too."

Alhough I blast La Roux' "Bulletproof" from my Rockford Fosgate speakers and loudly sing "burning bridges shore to shore...", it really is the last thing in the world we should do. That is, if we want to be loved and connected to others.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why I Can't Stay in the Moment (or The Futility of Abandoning Expectations)

"Feeling better?" My colleague asked.

"Yes," I said. "I went to Confession."

"Is that a Wednesday thing?"

I paused. Was it a Wednesday thing? Confession was something I had done weekly on nearly every day of the week over the past year. "It's a Lenten thing," I finally said.

"Is Easter done?"

"No, Lent is the period leading up to Easter. Don't you know that?"

"Why would I know that? I don't observe it. My parents raised me Buddhist."

So I sat down and talked with him about how Buddhism had held a strange magic for me following our trip to Thailand.

Buddhism still has its allure for me: the smells, the rituals, the seeking. The control of emotions when faced with loss and the establishment of boundaries to avoid becoming too attached. In my readings on Buddhism, one writer said that to attain the highest level within Buddhism, one ceased being human. I suppose if one no longer felt, that might classify as non-human, but does the definition of human neccesarily need emotions? It is interesting that a commenter on a blog that cited this article, asked, "If a human succeeds in “ceasing to desire,” as Edelman puts it, he will suffer less, but will he also lose the ability to fully enjoy?"

What a relief it would be to be able to abandon expectations, to never feel disappointment or to disappoint others.

And in Confession, one of the things I asked was when does this detachment become pathological? When does willing oneself to not feel and setting boundaries become sick and maladaptive, and not spiritual? "That's a good question," he said.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Every Miracle Has An Aftermath

The sixth Sunday after Epiphany kicked off our Lenten discussion about when bad things happen to good people. The reading from Mark 1:40-45 was the perfect lead-in. When we pray for and receive miracles, this can bring about challenges we may not have predicted or prepared for.

When the leper requested healing, Jesus gave it to him and instructed him to keep quiet. The leper didn't, and Jesus lost his anonymity. But what happened to the leper? What was his life like after being healed? What, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story?

The only story that really appeared in a Google search about the aftermath of a miracle was this one:
“I do know when I was getting better in the hospital, it was the longest period my parents didn’t fight. . . . Maybe that’s why God put me through all this pain, maybe so they would realize they couldn’t be together anymore. They’re both much happier now."

“Suppose tonight while you sleep, a miracle happens. When you awake tomorrow morning, what will you see yourself doing, thinking, or believing about yourself that will tell you a miracle has happened in your life?”

Last Sunday morning following Communion, God let me know he had been there all along. That he hadn't left me bereft. It was such a relief after a long hard year of going through the motions, of pretending everything was all right. It hasn't been easy in the days and hours since those few minutes of grace, but they're a start and they're sustaining me. He loves me and he is enough.