Tuesday, September 30, 2008

UnSchooling Up the Coast - Part II

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Just because I was unsuccessful at getting a signal in the Redwoods doesn't mean I wasn't in absolute awe of the 100 foot wonders. My kids were blown away at the magnitude of it all. Just for extra wows, I pointed out to them that not only were the trees reaching to the sky, but they were also plunging down the valleys below. "WOW!" I couldn't help but smile when I told them that we were going to go drive under one of those giants. Too bad I couldn't shove my LandCruiser under the one we visited. I did, however, get a cool shot of the kids in the tunnel and in front of a massive chunk of trunk from a six-hundred year old Redwood.


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Because of the congestion going south on the 101 due to so much construction, we weren't able to stop in Marin as I had hoped. I was a bit wistful as we passed one familiar street name after another. Next time, I thought. City Girl was waiting for us in the lobby of the Hilton when we finally arrived at near midnight. She bunked with us for the next couple of nights, which her younger siblings thought was just so cool.


Little aside... since The Pilot travels so much leaving me alone most of the time, his Honor points are now mine. I deserved a suite with this view:


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The next morning, after eating the best damn french toast ever and buying some chocolate and peppermint macaroons for the road from this awesome bakery that City Girl works at...


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...we took off for the Conservatory at Golden Gate Park. What about the Exploratorium? Oh, that will have to wait 'til next time, too. I mean, how could you pass up on beautiful orchids and a butterfly aviary? You CAN'T!


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We sweated through the humid building checking out an aquarium of lily pads, carnivorous plants, and orchids of every color. It was all very gorgeous, but we had to go outside for a momentary breather before going back in to the aviary. Once back inside, we pulled out our butterfly chart and started hunting down the lovely bugs. Did you know that butterflies are attracted to pink, orange, and yellow flowers? Did you know that their little "straw" is called a probiscis? Did you know that once they are in the safety of the chrysalises, they turn into DNA soup? Well we didn't. At least not until the docent arrived and gave us her presentation and then read all the informational "dots" throughout the aviary. We chased butterflies and read about all the other insects and critters that assist in the pollination process for as long as we could...


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...until The Boy got a bit too antsy and the docent got a bit too anxious. Oh well. Then it was off to get the wiggles out. We headed to the playground near the Haight entrance to the park where we had an accidental physics lesson. The kids called it a Torture Chamber. Watch this:



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Later that night, we ate at Louise's. We sat under an old bi-wing warplane. The Boy was pretty stoked about that. I was too tired for a physics of flying lesson, so we just ate greasy spoon fare instead.


Saturday, we got up as early as we could, which was still not early enough to avoid the longest line in the world. It was the opening of the California Academy of Science Museum. Well, at least that's how it looked. I dropped all the kids off to line up while I drove half way around The City and back out in front of the De Young twenty minutes later just to have some scrawny kid put the "Lot Full" sign out in front of me. He thought twice once he saw my crazy eyes and let me in... thank GOD... for him. I found the kids after following the cue back for about a mile or two. I'm serious. We stood in line for four hours. FOUR.


Oh boy. After the first two hours, I jumped out of line and ran to Safeway for some provisions. It was either that or leave the line altogether. The poor kids held up, but they were growing pretty darn weary. IMG_8009


(The shot above was of the last hour before getting a ticket to come back and stand in a crowd before making one final push to get in.)


I was starting to wonder if the museum would be worth it... IT WAS!


For the last four years, the museum has undergone major reconstruction and 'greenification' of the original structure. I could tell you all about it, but I'll let them. Here's all the nitty gritty.


The best fun was at the end of the African Hall, the first exhibit we visited. We met the cutest little penguins in the whole wide world! (Sorry Sea World... your penguins got nothing on these guys!) They were totally playing the crowd, bobbing up to all of us on the other side of the glass. Some of them were playing an impromptu rock game, chasing after each other and snatching the rock or diving after it if it came loose and then giving chase to those that missed. Check out the Penguin Cam and see their cuteness for yourself. We couldn't tear ourselves away. But eventually I moved us along to the rest of the exhibits so as not to waste those four hours in line.


FOUR HOURS! (still having nightmares about that...)


We went through the Northern Coast and Farallon exhibits, peeked at the albino alligator (sorry, but eeeww... freaky!) and then grabbed a bite to eat at the center court. The center court will apparently be available for weddings and special events. How cool would that be? Very. Then it was off to the Rain Forest globe... where we came upon yet another line. This one was only half an hour, so I stood while City Girl took The Boy and Banana Girl to check out the exhibit on Climate Change. There was a book to write suggestions for helping the planet. Banana Girl wrote, "Ride your bike everywhere." Good girl...


The Rain Forest was hella cool, people. It was four stories of every science lesson right in front of our faces. You start on the Ground Floor of the jungle and wind your way around and up through the Understory and then to the Canopy and above. All the way, there are kiosks with information about the different levels and all the creatures therein. Floating around were gigantic butterflies, one of which we thought had died as it was just lying on the floor. Like a good blogger, I pulled out my camera. As I was shooting the gloriously blue wings, The Boy nudged her and she fluttered up and onto my leg. A little girl nearby said, "Wow, she's so lucky!" I thought so, too.


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Once at the top, we took the elevator down to the underground level aquarium. Before getting out, we were surrounded by water and fish in the glass elevator. What a site! We walked through the tunnel and watched as the sea creatures floated above and around us, then we headed towards the Farallons exhibit again as we had apparently missed the touching portion of the tour. We all took turns turning starfish and sea urchins over and trying to loose the abalone from it's death grip on the shallow pool. The kids (including 20 yr old City Girl) loved it. That was about all our exhausted bodies could handle. The Planetarium was going to have to wait until next time. The Living Roof would also be visited next time. Not enough coffee in the world was going to perkify Sugar Mama.


But believe it or not, I actually drove us home that evening. Sort of. Thank God for rest stops. At five in the morning on Sunday, I woke up somewhere north of Santa Barbara (Gaviota? I think?) and continued our drive. I was really bummed to pass up all the historic landmarks while blasting home. I kept wanting to get off and explore some more. I did not want to go home! But we had to get back to the real world and our regularly scheduled obligations.


Darn.


I think "next time" is going to come a lot sooner than I thought.


...


Are you thinking about homeschooling? Look into k12.com. That's the program we use. Many states utilize that as an Independent Study Program option, which means all materials are supplied just as though your student was in a traditional public school. It's a great way to ensure your child meets all state requirements while allowing for hands-on instruction like our trip. Retention is optimized when kids are allowed to explore. Curiosity is an invaluable learning tool!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Twitter-Pated

Am I a loser?

My therapist would tell me no. The Pilot would tell me no. I'm pretty sure the ladies at church would put their arms around me with that pitiful look and say no while hoping for some good grist for the gossip prayer group.

I don't think I'm a loser. Am I?

I'm asking myself because during this week of traveling, while enjoying the sites, smells, and sounds of the Oregon and California coast have I been really resentful that I couldn't tweet and drive? I mean, I tried... I did get a few phone tweets in... while the car was stopped, of course. But I couldn't get involved in the conversations. I couldn't respond to all the smart comments about the trainwreck interview or get in on the Letterman situation. I did get some "suspended" tweets in, but then missed the moment that cool little bar at the top was added. I was left with screaming at the radio that was set to one of four satellite stations that was coming in through the Redwoods. I looked around at the beauty of the thousand year old trees and cursed them for blocking transmission. I so wanted to be in on the tweeting and linking and researching laced with some mocking. You know, politics a'la Twitter.

Then there's all the other stuff I've been missing out on...

Quirky moved to Houston. The Writer Mama is launching a new book. Redneck Mommy dyed her hair purple. And then there's all the enlightening links that Guy Kawasaki throws in. Oh, and I just started following the coolest lady, Pistachio.

Okay, so yes, I'm definitely enjoying my trip. Except for being gouged at the pump by a little station in some Twilight Zone town called Minerva. ((Little tip. If you ever come upon an exit pointing to fuel and bathrooms in Minerva... Hold it... there's a cleaner, cheaper, way less Deliverance type stop sixteen miles south. You owe me, big time!)) I'm looking forward to the opening of the California Academy of Sciences museum tomorrow. In about an hour, I'll be biting into THE BEST french toast ever at La Boulange. After that, we'll be heading to the Exploratorium so that I can the kids can play learn. We'll probably spend a little time in our awesome city view suite (Thanks, Pilot!) catching up on school work. It'll be a good day.

But the whole time, I'll be jonesin' for a tweet...

Such a loser.

.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Unschooling Up the Coast

Normally, our homeschooling is done very systematically. When we find subjects or stories or experiments that grab us, we go in that direction for a while, but for the most part, I have a To Do list and I stick to it. This week, we are doing the crazy unthinkable.

We UnSchooled.

At the last minute, I decided to meet The Pilot up in Coos Bay, Oregon. It's a lot further out of our normal six hour drive, but it has been worth it. We've been living our learning experience the whole way up, while here, and plan on learning more on the way back down. Here are our lessons, so far...


This is California's Capitol in Sacramento. The front part used to be used for governement business but is now a museum. The administrative offices are still connected, but no Governator sitings. Maybe next time...


This is Shasta Lake at sunrise. If you look, you can see that the recent droughts have been hard on this lake, as with most of our other bodies of water in California. We drove by the dormant volcano that is Mt. Shasta, but didn't stop to take pictures. Maybe on the way back down.


We attempted crabbing. Although we caught a ton of crabs, they were either too small or too female and had to be thrown back in. During the crabbing session, we came upon a star fish or two and did some observations. We also found schools of jellyfish... little white ones and big brown ones. We accidentally caught a big brown one. Eeew... A fisherman on the dock brought us a little white one for the kids to touch the tops of. More observations. It was pretty cool and the kids are still talking about their findings.


Our tour of the Umpqua River Lighthouse was quite an experience. I thought we were just going to learn about the machenations of the lighthouse, but there was a ton of history and drama being had. Right as we drove up, we were treated to some rain. Right on cue. I mean, what kind of lighthouse movie doesn't have rain and fog? We learned about life at the lighthouse. You know what? Women are pretty tough cookies. More on that part later.


Someone screwed up in the ordering of the lenses and lights at some point. Because of that, the lights have to be accessed from below. So we got to stick our heads up into the housing. Kinda cool. Kinda sickening. But an experience we wouldn't have had by reading a book.

Today, we head back down, this time on the 101. Lots of beauty on that road. We're planning to stop in San Francisco and visit City Girl's new apartment as well as the opening of the new California Museum of Science in Golden Gate Park. We're also going back to the Exploratorium. That is the coolest hands-on learning experience I've ever been to. I think the kids like it, too.

I'm learning a lot this week. Mostly, that it's okay to veer from the planner when it comes to an opportunity to unschool. I also learned that I need to have that planner to keep me honest. Otherwise, I'd just keep on driving and driving and driving...

The adventure continues...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Change Sucks

I was all positive sunshiny sweetness here a bit ago with my goody goody change list.

uuuggghhh...

Okay, so I have had some good stuff come from getting my lazy ass up going outside of my comfort zone. Well, here's the update...

Practicing the guitar every day has, in fact been happening. It has, however, collided with my accidental mullet and blasting hot air. Let me 'splain... I tend to have really chatty conversations with my stylist. Apparently, it can be distracting. So the last cut I got, she kinda did something funky. I had to go back to her so that she could make it less triangle-y. But she left the back with zero texture and the front/sides all poofy. The lack of poofyossity in back necessitates *ahem* a few passes with a large round brush and blow dryer to give it the same volume that my too short front hair is taking full advantage of. And because my guitar practice has worn off the skin on the pads of my finger tips, blowing hot air on the raw skin has proven to be, well... mmm... ouch!

I'm keeping my mouth SHUT during my next cut.

Some challenges... Tuesday Park Day is now going to be on Thursday. We've been getting so much accomplished on Mondays that it seems silly to halt the momentum. Plus, there has been no surfing happening over the last few weeks. If I haven't been getting ready for homeschool or tracking down packages at our old house, I've been shaking with chills from random illnesses and the cold air blowing through our townhome. The cold air is blowing because The Pilot has been around a lot these days. He and his cute little offspring seem to have their internal temps set about ten degrees higher than mine. So while they are wearing shorts and t-shirts, I'm walking around the house with a blankie. Anyway, I'm starting to feel a lot better and hope to paddle out soon.

Shooting (a camera, Suzy... not a moose...) something every day has actually been a lot more difficult to keep on top of than I thought. I missed Day 13 of my 365 Day Project and have yet to upload the last six days. Too much Twitter, I guess. I'm not going to give up. First because I made a commitment. Second because I want to look back on a mosaic of my year. I've taken a couple of lame shots. I need to make this project more of a priority. It's kind of hard because we had some hiccups in our group... get chicks together and there's always a wee bit of drama... but that has all been successfully resolved by our administrator, Sarah. And it's all good.

So quit whining then, right?

The best part of the change list was throwing stuff away. That has been such a release. The only thing is that when you start, you just can't stop. I started digging through other nicely stacked boxes to see what else could be thrown away. Now, my basement-like garage/play room looks all chaotic all over again. I shouldn't have opened any more boxes, but hey... eventually, I'll be done, right?

So now for some more changes:

Lose the infamous Last Ten Pounds. Now that The Pilot and I are seeing each other more, there's a lot more eating. Like, a LOT more. Plus it's football season which means wings and fried cheese in front of me saying, but you look good fat... uugghh... so I'm returning to my Points counting. This time, not only do I get to return to my goal weight and maintain my health, I'm also doing some good. It's the Lose For Good campaign. Check out the button on the side... I'll do some updates on the weight loss, but any of your stories on your own weight loss would be highly motivating for me and others.

Maintain (read: USE) Personal Calendar. Twice last week I got called to reschedule appointments that I forgot about, once with someone I couldn't even remember. I returned the call and bluffed my way through it all until I could remember who the heck she was and why she was so stressed out for running late. I was like, "Oh, don't worry about it. Why don't we reschedule... I'm easy." How sweet of me, she cooed. Yes. Yes. That's me. Sweet Sugar.

Yeah... I'm thinking it's time to tame that paper tiger...

Well, that's about all I can type. My fingertips are screaming for some Lanolin... I'd love to hear some good reports on any changes that might be happening out there. Or even some struggles.

Changing sucks... but the results are still worth it. Except for the mullets.

...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Positive

Positive.

That word always meant Good. All of the sudden, it meant Not Good. Apparently, the nurse on the other end had explained this enough times to silly young teens in the past. She reiterated the test results and what that meant.

I felt like the world was going to end.

I was suddenly afraid to death of telling my mom because, for sure, she was going to beat the shit out of me when I told her. That's what was going through my mind as I put the receiver down at the phone booth across from the counseling center. My friend Holly was standing next to me with her usual goofy hopeful smile. She saw my face and knew the answer. I don't remember anything but her hugs and reassurance. The warning bell rang and she was off to her next class. I wished I could just go to class with her. Instead, I turned and walked straight into the counseling center and into Mr. Aleman's office. He was used to me just plopping myself in the seat in front of his desk. He was my surrogate father and he knew it. I looked around his office at all the familiar items. The poster of kids climbing a jungle gym with something about wouldn't it be great if the military had to have bake sales to raise funds for weapons. I looked over at the tiny hoop and net attached to his trash can that some kid made for him in metal shop. I looked at anything I could before I finally looked at him. I couldn't stop crying. Before I could tell him, he knew. He had years of dealing with fatherless teen girls. His shoulders slumped as he half stated, half asked, "You're pregnant?" I lost it.

I was seventeen. I was smart. I was nice. I was kinda popular. And I was pregnant.

I keep hearing snarky comments about Bristol Palin. I read all over the internet all the ugliness about her situation. I keep wondering if Bristol is as afraid of her new responsibilities as I was. And then I wonder how much scarier and possibly more humiliating life must be for her than it was for me. It took all my strength to show up day after day to complete the final semester of school before graduation. But I did it. I can only imagine how difficult it is for Bristol to hold her head up knowing that the snickers aren't just coming from classmates and neighbors but from judgmental men and women all over the state and the rest of the US.

"What did your mom say?"

That was the first question I got from all of my friends. The tone in their voices was compassionate... not at all judgmental. I think they were probably putting themselves in my shoes in thinking about how their parents might have reacted. They knew that my mom was strict and a bit *ahem* grumpy, so they weren't really surprised when I told them about the ride in the car when she yelled and yelled at me about how I had ruined my life. In retelling our "conversations" to my friends, I kept out her screams of how I had embarrassed her and how was she going to explain this to my dad and how she had failed... She was so angry and humiliated. That made the whole situation worse. Not only was I going to have to bear the responsibility of becoming a mother, and not only was I going to have to live with the shame on a daily basis as the "evidence" of my dalliance grew and grew... I was now also fully responsible for my mother's feelings of failure.

I hated myself.

I wonder, again... how must that poor seventeen-year-old, Bristol feel? Does she feel like she's humiliating her mom? Will marrying the boyfriend make it all better? As much as I enjoy good political back and forth, I wish all the "journalists" out there would just let Bristol fade into the background. She has enough to deal with. Like that too young boyfriend-slash-husband of hers. And maybe the judgers and haters should do what my friends did for me... put themselves in Bristol's shoes... and just let this little side story go away.

And maybe focus on the issues.

...

This is not really a political post. It's a former-teen-mom-sticking-up-for-another-teen-mom post. Any "haters" will be taken out back and beaten with a switch by my mom. Don't laugh, Dude... she's scary with a stick!

AND, let me just say this in no way is a statement that the beautiful daughter that came of the teen pregnancy is anything less than an awesome kid who I love love love very much. Nothing negative there...

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Shape of a Life

So many stories are still in my head about how 9/11 changed lives... how the whole universe shifted in moments. How what seemed important was instantly relegated to the column marked "unnecessary."

This week, as Hurricane Ike hit Texas, I thought about the "friends in my head." I watched as the monster storm grew and grew and wondered if Jenny and Karen were okay and wondered about their neighbors... their kids' friends... their homes. I wondered what must be going through the minds of all the evacuated residents. I wondered if my new quirky friend, Stephanie would in fact be moving there for her husband's new job. I wondered how an event like this might change the course of a life. How events change our perspectives and world views. How they can form our personalities. What would happen if... if they moved, or didn't take the job, or started an evacuee fund... how could this one event change the direction of a life?

For those of you that love personality tests that tell you what you already knew, take the Ultimate Personality Test. The results of mine haven't changed in a really really long time. I'm an ENFP. What that boils down to is that I'm a really fun person who loves a good "win-win" situation and tries too hard to make others happy. I'm also always looking for authenticity in the people I spend time with. Rules and regulations stress me out. I inspire and motivate and sometimes smother.

Yup, that's me. An inspiring smotherer that is impatient with rules and bullshit.

So, how did I become an ENFP? I suppose that could be analyzed to death. Was it nature or nurture? Is it because of my star sign (Taurus) or my Chinese Year (Dog)? You can all weigh in if you feel compelled to play doctor or sorcerer. What I will say is that in thinking about the events that have shaped our nation over the last ten years and the events that are unfolding in Texas, I was lead to thoughts about the events that shaped my own little world view. Here are the big events of the first twenty years that shaped my life:

Gas Lines - I remember the fateful day we tried to get out of our driveway. My mom couldn't see past all the even numbered license plates that had lined up a full city block to get to the gas station at the corner of our street. My mom pulled out and got hit by a car that was going way too fast down the street, no doubt frustrated like the rest of us by the congestion and the situation as a whole. What was supposed to be a solution was just really a panic inducing hassle that caused more problems than anything. I mean, how had we never had lines before, but because of an imposed restriction of only being able to get gas every other day, all of the sudden, people were freaking out, yelling, frustrated.

Iran Hostage Crisis - This gave me nightmares. I dreamed that I had some sort of knowledge of a secret passage and if I could just get to President Carter and on to a helicopter, we could save the blindfolded people on TV. I remember thinking that Americans were not safe in the world. I wondered why the Iranians hated us. I was confused because I knew so many people from other countries that came to live here and they loved the US. I remember staying up way too late watching Night Line and getting in trouble for sneaking to turn the TV on after bed time. I was obsessed.

The Pope Asassination Attempt - This happened on my 10th birthday and I was in Catholic School. What was supposed to be a nice day of celebrating became a sign of bad luck. Sister Elvira confirmed that yes, indeed, the number 13, the date of my birth was unlucky. She canceled any celebrating that might have been done and we spent the rest of the day praying. I don't think I have to tell you what that does to a girl. A girl who just wanted to celebrate turning 10. Who didn't want to think that she was unlucky. Who wanted to play and be happy.

John Lennon murder - Okay, so this was more of a secondary effect. Because of all the reaction from the world, I thought, this is somebody I want to know a little more about. I saw BeatleMania like ten times. I read all kinds of biographies on John Lennon and the Beatles. I learned about their mystical experiences. Their sex lives. Their drug experimentation. All that time, my poor mom thought I was just reading about their music.

Olympics in LA - You know what I learned? I learned that the USA rocks at everything we try to do. I know you all might have something different to say, but when the Olympics were in LA, I was 14 and we won just about every event. It didn't hurt that most of the athletes trained in Southern California, so their bodies were perfectly tuned to the sea level, air quality, etc. But to a 14 year old swimmer, all I could do that summer was dream of Gold!

Space Shuttle Disaster - That was the event that brought me back to reality. That was the moment that taught me that as much as we rocked, we were not invincible. I can't describe the horrible feeling in my stomach as Mr. Salee, our driver's ed teacher read the pink note in his hand... one of many that were being rushed to all of the classes on campus informing us of the unbelievable. About fifty of us were gathered around the TVs in the library during the next break between classes. We watched in a horrible echoing silence as the events were replayed. I just cried and cried and cried. Many of our parents worked with or for companies that had something to do with the shuttle. It could not be possible, what my eyes were watching. Still to this day, I hold my breath every time I watch the shuttles launch.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall - I remember staring at the TV just completely amazed as I watched people my age jump on top of that awful wall that separated them from the rest of the world. I cheered every time sledgehammer connected with concrete. All week, I watched the dismantling of the wall and wondered what this meant for me... for my little baby girl. Had she come into a better world?

There were lots of other things that happened in my life that were not world events. Just my own events. Some really good. Some really bad. Was my personality formed by those events? Or was I born this way? Did my "pluck" give me the ability to deal with the bad? Does my idealism cause me to look for the "win-wins" in life. Did my handicapped sister teach me compassion or was it there all along? Did my fear of monsters cause me to sometimes care too much. Was I born to inspire or taught to smother?

These are the things I think about when I see events, natural and man made, unfold on TV. Sometimes, I think I need to shut down more. But I don't know... I kinda like thinking about the What Ifs. After all, being an ENFP, I "thrive on the drama of life." Tonight, though, I'm thinking I need a bottle of shiraz and a big tube of chocolote chip cookie dough. I've got a book to read.

...

What events shaped the course of your life? If you hopped over to take the personality quiz, what were your results? How did your personality influence the way you saw the world news? Please share... it's always so fascinating to hear other stories!

...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sexism

It sucks that it's still alive and ill. Thank God for these two. Lipstick and all...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

SEVEN

I woke up so tired from crying and yelling and sobbing the night before. I was emotionally exhausted from hours of playing referee between my daughters and their new step-dad, each of my loves wanting me to take a side. My weariness was made even greater as I carried my growing baby in my belly down the stairs to read a letter out loud to my family. The letter was a cease fire request. It was also the first time I decided that I would no longer step between any of their arguments. They were, from this day forward, going to settle their discussions between themselves. It was the only way we were going to be able to be a cohesive unit without sacrificing my sanity.

Then I saw what I thought was a movie on TV.

Why was my husband watching a war movie at that hour? The girls were running late for school and I had to get out the door to work and here he was watching a movie. I was intent on getting us all together before we all left for our days. But what was this? (((Confusion))) I gripped the letter in my hand ready to speak to him about it. When he turned to look up at me as I descended the stairs, I saw the haunting look on his face that has never left my memory. It was the first time I saw an old man in his eyes. "We're being attacked!" I grabbed at my belly, stunned, and sat on the steps watching the insanity through the rails. (((Confusion)))

What kind of world was this baby coming into?

I looked at the letter in my hand. The letter that I was going to read out loud to my family to let them know that I would no longer be their conduit for problem resolutions. I thought about how responsible I had seen my daughters just the night before, but at that moment, I wanted to shelter them from the world more than anything. I looked at my husband who had just a year before been a carefree bachelor taking on the responsibility of a family. I felt the anxiety in his eyes and knew that I couldn't let him struggle with his new role. (((Confusion))) I looked again at the letter. I folded it back up... and never spoke of it again. Without saying a word, I promised them all... the girls... my husband... the new baby growing inside of me... I promised them all that I would be the glue to hold them all together... no matter what.

Boundaries no longer mattered.

My boundaries were gone. Just like the boundaries of our security. Never had our country been attacked on our own mainland soil. Never had we had innocent lives sacrificed in such a horrific way. Never had we all stood silent and watched it all happen in real time. Real time. Never had those two words been more raw. Real time. What was real to me at that moment was that the time that my children would be with me, they would be safe. I would make sure. Even if it became my obsession. Which it eventually did. My children saw the attack and looked to me for security. My husband saw the attack and looked to me for security. I was not going to let anyone down.

Seven years later, I know that there is nothing that any of us can do to keep any other human completely from harm. Seven years ago, I didn't care to hear about that reality. I just wanted to hold my family close to me and never let them get hurt. It's been a long seven years. Confusion. Sadness. Growth. And now...

Courage.

...

*Side note: the company I worked for had a former VP on Flight 93. It wasn't until the following day that we found out about it. The local media came to interview all of his former colleagues. One year later, a memorial was placed at the base of the flag on campus. Todd Burnett is remembered each year on this day as a good guy who helped take a plane out of the control of monsters... no matter what the outcome.*

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Onions Make Me Cry

This is what I love about Twitter... I would have otherwise missed the only thing that was funny to me today. I follow The Onion, self described as America's Finest News Source. That's debatable. But it is witty. So today, when I sliced into this article, I cried laughing so hard.

I don't understand how this could have happened. It was all right here. Everything I ever owned. Right fucking here.

That Ricky Gervais... just a funny guy...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Envisage 365

I recently started a new project. I mentioned it earlier... that I would be taking a picture a day for 365 days. In order to never miss a shot, I've been carrying my camera everywhere. Considering all the other stuff I have to lug around in my bag with two little ones in tow, it was a bit of an adjustment.

A couple of days ago, I was incredibly thankful that I had my camera with me.

I almost caused an accident making a u-turn. I ducked in to multiple driveways to get a snapshot without being caught, but they were so fast! She was chatting about whatever girls chat about. He was smiling and happy to have his girlfriend with him. They looked like totally in love and I just wanted to capture that. But they were too fast for me. I finally just drove up alongside them and told them I needed to take a picture of something beautiful. I wasn't sure how they would react. I was afraid they might tell me to go bug off. But they didn't.

They just smiled...



I was having a teary day anyway. I was feeling sad about my daughter. I really needed to see something like this... to remind me about unconditional love... to see kindness, love, beauty... The babies were in the back seat. "Mommy, why are you crying?" I couldn't answer. I just wanted to let my mind feel the love I had just experienced.

..

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Voice Inside My Head

I can so relate to this chick...


Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bug

Seventeen years ago, I was at a little hospital in Laguna Beach with wires and tape and IV drips all around me. I was only twenty-one and just a little scared. The doctor promised me you would be out before his golf game. The delivery proved to be a little more difficult than that.

For the last few years, things have been kinda tough for us. I know I was at fault for a big chunk of how it all started. I was unprepared to be a mom at such a young age. I thought I could handle it all... one day at a time... but you and I know it was a lot more difficult than that.

I was reminded of your sweet Little Girl self so many times earlier this year when we sold the house, packed, and then moved. I walked through every room of that house and pictured all the fun we used to have as a family. I wept for the brokenness of the state of our family and wished for better days. It hurt to know that you never came back to that home... that we couldn't quite make that happen... but then, I thought, maybe in a new environment, maybe some place else, you and I could have a fresh start.

That, too, has proven more difficult than anticipated...

My heart jumped when you wrote to me on my birthday. Your words were so sweet. Thank you. It's been nice communicating with you, at least in some form, however limited. But what I would love more than anything... what I ache for... what I want to do today is to just hug you. To tell you to your face how much I love you and miss you and wish that we had some kind of life together. I wonder how much longer it will be before you and I lay eyes on each other again.

No matter what, please know that I love you and that I wish the best for you every day and send out a prayer for your safety every night.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Happy Birthday, Lori Bug.

...

Sixth Grade Promotion, June 2004



...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Calling Nashville!

Bring a Beginner to BlogHerOkay, so I was thinking it would be cool to go to one of the Reach Out BlogHer days since the list of cities is so cool. My number one pick is Nashville. Woo Hooo! Lindsay from Suburban Turmoil is always going on about how much fun the place is. I also have another friend who visits family there often... and she doesn't even like her family. Plus, you've got the Grand Ol' Opry. Just a short drive to Graceland in Memphis. I mean, everything I've ever heard about it is that it's a fun time. So here's the deal... if you live near or in Nashville and wanted to attend the BlogHer Reach Out tour but all your non-geek friends won't go with you, never fear! Sugar will go! I would get a discount, which would help offset my shopping, the shopping that you, Nashville Native, will have to endure with me. Haha!

Any takers?? I promise not to behave... I'll even bring you a (used) toy Shamu whale from San Diego... pleeeeez!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This Is Only a Test!

I know the lighting makes me look washed out... haven't quite figured that out on my handy dandy webcam that I got from Microsoft at breakfast on Day Two of BlogHer in San Francisco. And please ignore the mess in the back... really didn't have time to set up a backdrop. I was just feeling the moment.

Hope you like...

video