Saturday, March 07, 2009

Brains and Spirit!

Right now, it is all about This... Paradox.

And this.

And a whole lot of this.

Uh. Yeah, and some of this.

But more of this.

And this.

Because we have Brains and Spirit!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Our Very Own Beanerina

I will have to learn how to find (use? set-up? log on?) wifi in Europe, because I will definitely be wanting to look at these.

I find the deepest pleasure in watching my children enjoy life.

I Don't Have Time For This

I should not be posting, except it does give me a moment to catch my breath and organize my thoughts... otherwise there is too much to do and I should be doing the domestic hustle.

I think Lindy was more excited meeting Maria than the other way around. Kids these days...

Did I mention that Robotics is all consuming? Yeah. Alex came home after 1 AM, and Geoff got back here after 4 AM. Now they are leaving to San Diego for an all day event and preparations. Friday and Saturday will be the same.

A moment of silence please. Steve, our little, green parakeet has flown the coop. I do not know how, exactly. I was cleaning his cage, outside, and I think he managed to squeeze under the tray gap... he must have been very determined, because I did not hear, see, sense, detect or suspect a thing. Suddenly he was not there. He came to us a free spirit, wandering in our yard, and he left in the same adventurous and dignified manner... on his own terms. I hope he writes. I hope all of his dreams come true. I hope Maria stops asking when he'll come back.

Max was vomiting last night. Just saying.

One of the cats seems to be sick too.

Ready for good fantastic news? Alex's name was drawn in the lottery and he'll be going to his high school of choice in the Fall! This is such a tremendous relief and joy and we have been really touched by all the congratulations and supportive remarks. And thank You for your prayers, wishes and good thoughts... it worked! Now we just need to find a house.

Last night I wrote 9 letters to Maria... daily messages of love and inquiries about her day, for her to receive while I am away. I wrote letters to the boys, and a helpful love letter for Geoff. The house is technically cleaner, sort of, but it was the letter writing that really helped put my heart at ease. And all of the comments and feedback from You friends have been good and funny and insightful. Thank you D.A... I knew it was ugly when I bought it, but I felt desperate. Fate required that I buy 'big brown,' so that my old and trusty canvas messenger bag would reveal itself... all is well. I am learning to use the small camera and I am packing light, but maybe I should reduce the load a bit more. Can I bring wine from Spain into France? I may be meeting a friend's friend in Avignon and I want to bring a gift.

What am I forgetting?
Breath. Must remember to breath.
What else am I forgetting?
I need a nap.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lipstick on a Cochon

I did two loads of laundry, two loads of dishes and I organized two paper stashes. Now I feel too discouraged to go on, so I am rewarding myself with a small break for blogging. Honestly, I will clean and clean and clean, but it will be like lipstick on a muddy cochon. I think I have covered my worries sufficiently, in writing at least, so allow me to change the subject...

Chicken Abroad Packs
There are many angles to approach this subject, with many headings and subheadings.

BIG PURSE vs. petite purse
BIG CAMERA vs. petite camera
Full winter wear and umbrella vs. Bella Tourista
Pay for AAA Flamenco floor show and dinner now vs. wait and see spontaneity

I am torn between packing light... super streamlined and unfettered, but then again... I do not want to be cold or uncomfortable or too casually attired. Californians, esp. So Cal residents, are very casual, which does not always translate well in sophisticated regions. I would be really happy to have a small blanket from home to comfort me on the plane, to throw over my shoulders in the hotel, but maybe that's crazy. I really, really want my good and familiar camera, but it's HUGE, so I am 99% convinced I will bring Geoff's itty-bitty pocket camera. Heav(ier) coat or stylish one? Two pair of shoes, so I can look bonita when eating tapas at 10:30 PM, or one walking pair?

And most importantly: Is this bag ugly?

Also, it is imperative that I remind the family that they have to thoroughly mix the peanut butter, all the way to the bottom... really get the consistency right all the way through or the bottom will be hard and dry. Do you see? How can I travel abroad, when these issues keep coming up?

Getting Serious

This is it. Today is the day. I have to accomplish the work of months in a single day. Included in my list of reasons to stay home, when Geoff came up with the travel plan, was: I have got to clean the house, because post crunch mode everything is neglected. Neglected = A Total Mess. His response was: Don't worry. I will be here to take care of that. Isn't that a nice response? And didn't I accept it at face value, and breath a small sigh of relief? But neither of us factored in robotics, which has retained its impossible schedule and will be all consuming right up until Chicken Abroad departure time.


Guess what? The house is still neglected a total mess, and I am trying to catch my breath from all the usual challenges + the added madness of making a major trip to a faraway land + the house is a total mess + my Mom is coming!

Hold on a sec.

I just need to say a prayer and breath deeply.

Oh Lord.

I always say my prayers in the form of gratitude, but this time I am asking for guidance and forgiveness. Things have gotten out of hand. It's typical for this time of year, when we go in to survival mode, but there are extra, external forces militating against us.

Still breathing.

Friends, good ones, always say Don't worry about it. And I would definitely say Don't worry about it to You, but I of course I am going to worry about it. And if I have any ambition or shame in me, I will work very hard today. Paperwork is everywhere. Piles of stuff is everywhere else. My bed looks like it is afloat, or sunk, in a sea of flotsam and jetsam. Even Steve, the bird, and the chicas' homes need a vigorous dose of early Spring cleaning. The whole truth is that I will need to work very hard to get the house almost decent and manage an ever intensifying robotics schedule, bill paying, packing, making Geoff a detailed list of Garage Mahal Management Minutia. Oh, and don't let me forget to find a repair patch for the airbed.

I will have to lie. It's true. I will clean all day and probably for a few hours tomorrow, and somehow I will figure out how to be 3 places at once, while trying to come to terms with my separation anxiety and fear of flying, and then because the house will never look the way I want it to look, be as precious and ship-shape as I imagine it should be, I will tell anyone who sees it: It's been crazy around here and I have not had time to clean.

Geoff will not appreciate that last bit, but the lie is true... it's keeping it real, like us mommy bloggers like to say. Maybe it's how we protect our spirits from total defeat. Maybe it's a kind of forgiveness we grant our psyches. Maybe I wanted to stay home and clean in the first place and a last minute trip to Europe is a monumental undertaking best avoided in times of duress... maybe. Or maybe I am a self-deprecating kind of person that should not worry so much. nah

Fortunately, it's not all drama. We made our way to Balboa Park for some much needed family time. It was wonderful.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Netbook Blogger... Tre Chic

Chic and Green... Geoff's reading me the Wiki article on the netbook, our mini, low power demand, fewer toxic component, will travel, blogging machine. Business Week has something to say about them too... I'm not only justifying our sound investment, I am also learning how to use this cute little machine, before Chicken goes Abroad. I should leave in the typos, so you can laugh at my inept skills.

You see, while I have been lying laying prone at night, thinking of how I might starve, because I cannot read French menus, Geoff has been imagining me sauntering into Internet Cafes and tuning in to the WiFi, downloading pictures, emailing newsy letters and regularly posting to Chickenblog. He just found a new system for me to upload images for PC/Windows use... he thinks I know what the formage he's talking about! If I never figure out how to upload images, export them and post them from Abroad, I hope you all will forgive me.

So, either I am going to try to clean the house or Geoff is going to put me through Netbook training camp. Good grief. A rock and a hard place.

I Can Hear You Now

It took every single day of the prescription, and at last my ear feels clear. At last I can hear, either that or I have adjusted to a modicum of deafness... not hearing is very frustrating, and combined with feeling unwell, it made for a very rough couple of weeks.

The first competition is days away and the club is still burning the midnight oil. It's taking a brutal toll. I worry about Alex not getting enough sleep, Geoff too. Geoff more... he left crunch mode at the office and exchanged those slavish hours for long nights mentoring robotics. It's not pretty people. I think about the rest we all deserve, which will come after San Diego, but then I remember that later this month we have Phoenix! NB Alex has been given an assignment for the pit, which is a great honor, since not all 50 members of the team have a chance to participate at competition... it's so gratifying to see his dedication and industry pay off. w00ts!

William, Max, Maria and I mostly hang back and hold down the fort. We make a lot of deliveries and try to keep the flow clear for robotics... we totally merit special recognition as the crew that supports the crew! Maria composes many songs and one of our favorites is her rockin' Iron-Man Robotics ditty.

When we aren't supporting the robotics mission, we are doing homework, chasing chickens, and playing way too much Popcap and other meaningful things. William has been doing amazing things in 3D Studio Max, which I really will share here someday... I need another technical leap in my blogging skills. I also want to learn how to get their stop-motion films exported to this computer, so I can post them to Chickenblog.

Today Maria's dance class has open studio and parents get to watch and dance too. She is going to be so thrilled when she realizes that her daddy will be by her side! Dance is Maria's happy place. She is fulfilled and in her element when she moves and turns and swirls. It's wonderful that she can feel this way and express herself in dance.

Max will want me to wake him soon. He does not like going to school, but he never fails to diligently apply himself and do his best. Last night we read together, after homework, and he reminded me to be sure he gets a good breakfast, because they have state testing today. He likes oatmeal, toast with raspberry preserves and turkey sausage, and he will want to be up early... extra early. It's such a dear sight, makes me a bit sad... he watches the clock with a resigned expression, his books under his arm, his lunch bag over his shoulder, and he makes sure to never be late. He is dutiful, which is good, but he is not exactly inspired, which is why I look forward to summer for him. In summer he will still learn and grow, but hopefully it will be with an eagerness and joy.

Chicken Abroad
Hold on to your hats!
Check your gages!
This ride is getting very interesting...
My Mommy, Delia, the Oregon artist, freshly returned from a month in Ontario, is flying south and then heading east! She and I managed, in very short-last minute time, to coordinate travel plans, so that we will be together, abroad! Really and truly we take the cake for spontaneity... come to think of it, we take cake for about anything... cake is good! I am delighted and giddy and it's all good. She'll have time for robotics competitions and the trip to Spain and France. And now I won't have to take Europe pictures of my face with my arm held out! Traveling together will have many perks!

I try to embrace all of the perks of this grand adventure, but I still have lapses of nameless dread and wide awake time in the wee hours. ( resisting urge to explain the "wee" hours lol... never mind... so immature) My greatest stumbling block is the anxiety I have about being apart from Maria, and even when I breath deeply, and acknowledge that her daddy and brothers are more than capable of caring for her, I still am overcome with fear and worry and emotional distress about not being by her side when she misses me... when I miss her. When deciding about making this trip I thought about all 42 problems, issues, concerns, considerations and factors, including being away from my children. Resolving many of the issues and details, misled me into feeling as though I covered all the bases, but now I realize that I was never fully prepared to deal with this sadness.

The boys can count days and appreciate that I will return. They have the ability to keep my absence in perspective and this knowledge eases my worry about missing them and them missing me. But Maria and I have never been apart, and I know exactly how much she misses Geoff during crunch mode, so thinking of this makes my heart ache. Rational thoughts do little to nothing to comfort my soul, or quiet my mind. However much fun this trip will be, however great an opportunity, I cannot wait to come home.