Thursday, December 29, 2011

iPhone Album II

The year is nearly over. This is a time when many of us look back, and recall what kept us busy, engaged, distracted, what was noteworthy, or possibly regrettable. I love my iPhone, because it can capture moments, ideas, inspiration, notes to myself, and even simply snap a picture. My most recent iPhone download yields an interesting collection of memorable, forgettable, and deletable pictures... hmmm... could be ideal fodder for a Chickenblog.

Not edited. Not photoshopped. Not destined for anyone's coffee table.
I present: iDownload :: Moments From Fall 2011

(It's me. In case you couldn't tell.)


I had just finished reading about the discovery of a squirrel fossil. A saber-toothed squirrel! Instant inspiration to add ears, whiskers and teeth to the hat I was crocheting.


Maria runs. She also tried karate, and yoga. Every morning before school, she and her classmates can earn tickets for participating in fitness programs. Getting there early is a feat in itself! Maria's dedication inspires me.


Our picnic and rain hike! This was that great day with all the beautiful fall color, and we managed to stay dry until the very end. We should go back there.


Same day, stopping by the pond before we head home. The camera even managed to capture the rain drops hitting the pond. Maria loved that the ducks were indifferent to the rainfall.


See? A camera-phone is such a help. This image went directly to FB, where I alerted FIRST 2102 Team Paradox to the news that red pants were on sale! Yellow on top, red on the bottom, and Paradox all over! And by the way: FIRST FRC Kick-Off 2012 is in less than ten days!!!


My four children, camping. We got rained out, which was a bummer, but before that happened, we had a whole lot fun, including: visitors, nature encounters, and a campfire. It was a quick trip, but worthwhile.


This. This picture brings up all kinds of good stuff.
#1. Geoff. I love him.
#2. We are waiting to see about getting my transmission replaced. Nine months with a failing transmission is about to come to a glorious end!
#3. Sony's campaign en español. Me Gusta.


Alex and I, stopping for dinner, on our calledge tour of institutes for higher learning. I learned not to order "spicy," and to check very, very carefully where you park in downtown Santa Barbara. I also confirmed that I love traveling with my children. It is a delight.


A barn! Had to get a picture of this gingerbread barn, in Solvang. The bakery was bustling. Alex and I were making good time in our mission to be home for Thanksgiving. This is where we tried our first macarons and... well... yuck! Sorry. And maybe ours were not good ones. But a "good" macaron would have to taste so far superior to what I tried, and I cannot be sure anyone could convince me to ever try another. But. Hey! I love the gingerbread barn!


Women and boys, girls, cats, even chickens, are welcome, but this is Geoff's domain. This is where he tinkers, and plots. This is where he makes stuff, and keeps things organized, and stays up late repairing tools and machines. It is a cool place.


William and I working on a project for next Christmas. Yes, that is correct: we have an early jump on holidays 2012. Seriously, these wooden cutouts, from patterns Holly made, are going to be awesome, and charming, and really cool. And fortunately, we have twelve months to complete them!


All the work, and all the fun, really paid off in a big way for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox! They won first place in the category "Most Unusual Float." This is great. A perfect fit. An ideal win!


Camera phones keep friendly faces close at hand. This was the end of a long and emotional day, but I wouldn't have missed it! The holiday parade is special because of the time spent with friends.


My niece. The baby-doll-acrobat-athlete-cutie pie!


As lovely as ever, my Mommy, enjoying time with her youngest grandchildren. Dominic, Maria, and Marissa. Their visit was brief, but the fun was intensely super-concentrated.


Okay. This is the guest bathroom, and also the general purpose boy bathroom. In other words this is a busy room. And I keep trying to learn how to make it nice. Do you know what I mean? I go into family's bathrooms, friends' bathrooms... and they are nice. Things match, and stuff looks thoughtful and pleasant, planned, coordinated, purty. I have dragged my inferior decorating self to plenty of shops (Target, Target, all area thrift stores, and also Target). But I would always become anxious and disoriented, and soon convince myself that assorted matchy towels and stuff was simply unnecessary. And then I would see yet another lovely bathroom, and again return to the idea that our very busy bathroom was missing vital, essential, tasteful elements... like tiny towels and coordinated accessories. Now I have some. And, good, bad, tasteful, or conventional... I am committed to keeping the very busy bathroom nice. So, you should have heard my banshee wail the first time someone had the audacity to use one of those towels! ~Is this paragraph too long?~ Okay, so after two years of fretting and fussing over whether-or-not-and-how-to make the bathroom nice, you better believe I expect them to leave everything untouched. In fact, I may have this room sealed off, and open only for special occasions... all due to six coordinated towels, and two matching baskets, in an otherwise inferiorly decorated guest bathroom.


We made so many different cookies for our cookie and movie party. This is one of the recipes I used. It's a recipe for pressed cookies that I developed for Maria's fifth birthday. We were new to our Bird House that year, and I used the lemons from our very own tree. Now I've made those same cookies three times, and so I can officially call them traditional. What difference does it make? None. Yet... I am still moved, emotional, about this being our home, about finding routines and familiar touchstones. My recipe, my lemons, my kitchen, and sharing with our friends and family... it all feels lovely, and worth reflecting on.


I'm in the car a lot. Five children, three... sometimes four or five schools, marketing, errands... you get the idea. If I'm not crocheting or doing a bit of embroidery, then I am playing with my phone. Maybe checking my calendar, or making calls. Sometimes taking pictures. After stopping for groceries, I pulled up in front of Maria's school and caught my reflection in the rear view mirror: holy crapoli! It was too classic me. I had to document my disaster. I do not mean to leave the house without brushing my hair, removing my apron, taming my eyebrows. Egads. My poor mother... she tried to teach me. She still tries. Am I hopeless? I was in public for goodness sake.


I do listen to my Momma. I found a brush. Put on some lipstick.

Tomorrow I turn forty-five. If it's not too late, I would like to start making some changes. I've promised myself real grown-up yoga classes, maybe Tai-chi, or something. Even hula hooping and basketball... just some kind of exercise, and movement. And I want to commit to using my hairbrush, lipstick, and tweezers... real fancy, I know. The iPictures don't lie. I need a little something-something. But, it's kind of like decorating the bathroom... I don't know what I am doing, and most times I find it kind of hard to care. And what if I do bother? What about maintenance, and all that upkeep? It's all so confusing... and also amusing.

Dear iPhone,

Thank you. You reflect my days, my ups and downs, my blessings, and the oversights. What a clever little tool you are.

iPhone Album I

At Home With Living Lights Project

Yesterday's post, Holiday Snap-shots, included a home, lit up like the ultimate holiday wonderland. A true extravaganza! You cannot hear the music, or see the lights moving, pulsing, on and off in time to the tunes. You cannot see the double barreled fog machine, or the laser display. And one more thing you might be missing from this picture: this is not our house.

I am flattered, thank you very much. Our house is the one with a burnt out porch light. This is the home where the Living Lights Project lit up the town with ingenious ingenuity and industry, for a cause of gracious generosity. (I have a weakness for alliteration)

Please, visit Kevin's website for Living Lights Project, and watch the videos. The grand finale is spectacular.

You may recall, Kevin is a member, and former build president, of FIRST 2102 Team Paradox. Now he's a full time engineering major, running his own business, and putting this charity event together in his free time. It takes help, and he gets a lot of volunteers, many from the team, and of course from his own family... which, in the nature of robotics, is one and the same.

Maria and Andrea

It's so much fun seeing the light show. I should have gone twice. Once to see it, and one more time to believe what I saw! Kevin's work, what they all accomplish, is so slick and innovative, so dazzling... it is truly top notch. An added bonus is meeting up with familiar faces, dear friends, fellow teammates. Andrea, home from school, and pitching in, helped Maria to some hot chocolate. Our former marketing president is always spirited, and eager to contribute to a good cause.

Well, Living Lights Project made an excellent show, and for a good cause. And now you know the truth... it's not our house, but it is dear to our hearts. Maybe next year you can go and see it, too!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Snap-Shots

:: Speculoos! ::
:: Cousins ::
:: Wrapping ::
::Living Lights Project::
:: Cold mornings, warm smiles ::
:: Laughing ::
:: Sharing ::
:: Family ::
:: Benjamin Franklin ::
:: Perfect gifts ::
:: Bouncing ::
:: Gratitude ::

A very small sampling of what made our holidays memorable.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Light and The Smiles

There is so much building up, so much anticipation in the days that lead up to Christmas. There was a time when I let it build, and build, like I was staging for a one time only event. Ahead of the main event, there were a lot of moments and opportunities that I was sort of failing to fully recognize, and appreciate. Trying to juggle and balance it all, to hold my celebrating in check for the big day, left me feeling exhausted-frazzled, and inevitably super-deflated the very next day. I remember thinking: all that? And now it's over?

Some mistakes, and misguided notions, I seem doomed to live with forever, but I like what I've learned about holidays. I no longer separate the hustle and bustle, the anticipation and planning from The Day. I no longer try to micro-manage and orchestrate (as much?) and I let packages go without bows, and the tree sit awkwardly on the front porch, or middle of the room. Christmas dinner? Oops... I didn't think of it, so we had meatloaf (frozen from a month ago,) and I made Iron Man Pasta, Trader Joe's spanakopita, salad, spaghetti, and we roasted chestnuts. (Are chestnuts supposed to taste like that?) Dinner was weird, random, and filling. Instead of matching individual gifts with every friend, I opened the doors and shared time, and space. And like I said before, I felt ready, and engaged all along, and far less anxious, worried, fretful, worn-out.

Yeah. So just thinking on all that, today. The day after. Guess what? The house looks imploded! We forgot batteries. Geoff is on his way to work. Chango barfed, again. Maria's hair has a huge snarl that is sure to bring her to tears when I brush it out. My birthday plans are tanked. The laundry never did succumb to my will, and we have had an awesome Christmas. Amazing. Full, delightful, spiritually filling, and blessed. And it does not feel "all over," or "anticlimactic." And I don't feel in the least, "eager to be done with it." For the light and the smiles, it's all so dearly worthwhile.

I attribute some of this energy reserve and gratitude to...
1. Knowing how to pace myself, finally!
2. Four children who enjoy the moments, who share, who love laughter above all else
3. A high tolerance for messes and chaos... let's face it, it really helps!
4. Unbelievably sweet friends and family, who have made the most amazing gestures of kindness and generosity possible... words, sincerest reflections of thoughts and sentiments, gifts, embraces, time, companionship, art, creativity, warmth.

I am bursting with gratitude, and astonishment, and a wondrous sensation of awakening to more love than I had known was there... and like I shared with James, I do not want to say anything... I might break the spell.

I am speechless.

Isn't it funny when people say "I'm speechless," and then they go on, and say more?

Truly, I am speechless. Almost, wordless too.

Merry December 26th, and thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.