Archives for April 2010

2010 Year of Pleasures #17


On our way out of town we spent a day at Disneyland – Atti’s very first time. I knew he would love it, but words just can’t express how amazing it was. As soon as he saw King Arthur’s Carousel he started bouncing in his stroller. When we walked past it to get to Dumbo he threw an unholy fit. Until Dumbo started moving.


We came back to this one several times. Whenever we’d bring Dumbo up to his highest point Atti would giggle like a mad man.

Small World
It’s a Small World was also a major hit. His eyes would widen, he’d fixate on something and stretch his little body around to keep watching it as we passed it. He’d only turn around when he physically couldn’t stretch any further, only to be surprised by a whole roomful of more amazing things to see.

We were really nervous about taking Atti to Disneyland with his physical limitations. The thought of holding him as we waited in line all day made me break out in a cold sweat. Since he’s not old enough to use a wheelchair, we need to use his stroller everywhere. I imagined all the fights I was going to have with attendants unconvinced he was disabled or parents mad they couldn’t bring a stroller everywhere. I brought a Dr.’s note and came prepared to make my case, but as soon as I said he had Cerebral Palsy the gal at the desk just said, “Oh sure! How many people in your party?” and handed me a card that allowed us all to get special treatment. We didn’t walk right on to every ride, but we came pretty close. Disneyland knows how to take care of us special needs families.


The new digs

So, we’re here. And we have a roof over our heads. Which was kind of a miracle.

We had a house all lined up, arranged through friends of friends, it looked like it was going to be smooth sailing. Until we couldn’t get our phone calls returned or questions answered and we started feeling suspicious. The couple that owned that house are moving into a custom built home and their move in date was pushed back by the contractor. So instead of calling us and saying, “Shucks, looks like it’s not going to work out.” they strung us along until we had six days before the movers arrived and no place to have them bring our stuff.

I collapsed, hyperventilating, into a corner while Bear hit Craigslist and found this place. It’s going to be a great place to live, it’s in the area of town we wanted, it’s got tons of space and a backyard with roses, but it’s also going to need some TLC. I seem to be on a mission to rescue houses from bad paint. The houses call to me or something.

Weird Paint
I’ve had a terrible time trying to get pictures that show the color, but here you can see that in one room you have a deep mustard yellow butted up to an acid green, with apricot on the third wall. The staircase wall is painted primary color yellow, and each bathroom has some weird faux treatment where it looks like somebody just took a paint brush and made big C’s all over the wall.

Weird paint finish

I can see what they were going for with the apricot and acid green. In the right light, they look nice for a nursery or something. But that light is very rarely present in this house. And I have absolutely no explanation for the mustard yellow.

We didn’t realize this until after we moved in, but not a single window has any kind of coverings on it. Every window, including the window in the bedroom closet, had curtain rods left hung in place, but not a single blind to be had. We’ve been living in a fishbowl all week. Luckily they’ve agreed to put up blinds in the bedrooms and the front of the house, so we’ll get to change our clothes in the light eventually.

Lighting is going to be an issue in this house. Every room has a central ceiling fan with lights, which means that every room is well lit, but with very harsh light. I might have to invest in some lower wattage bulbs or something. Trying to watch TV at night is like trying to watch it with a spotlight in your face.

But that’s all I really have to complain about. Which I recognize is kind of a miracle as a renter of any kind, let alone moving in from out of town with six days notice. Overall I think things have gone as smoothly as I could have hoped.

Living Room
We’re about as unpacked as we’re going to get for a little while. There is NO WAY I am living with these colors on the walls, so as soon as the blinds are up and the landlord won’t be in and out of the house, I’ll be painting. I’m trying, and failing, to be patient.

The fridge gets delivered today (we haven’t had a fridge for a week! I am desperate for something to drink besides soda), but we still won’t be able to put this enormous kitchen to use for another week. The movers left all our utensils, not just silverware but my knives too, at our old house. Luckily the new renters are our friends, and luckily we’ll be back down in LA next week for a convention of things that are awesome, so we’ll be able to pick them up. But meanwhile, it’s more fast food for us. And boy howdy am I looking forward to that being over.


Packing Up

Packing up

Moving day is already upon us. Movers come today for all the packing I didn’t get finished, tomorrow they load the truck, and then Monday we’ll be unloading in Modesto.

Which means I’ll be largely cut off from the internet for nearly a week. I don’t know if I’ll be able to bear it.

I’ll be back just as soon as I can get the internet turned back on and the computer put back together.

See you all in Modesto.


I’ll Miss My Garden Most of All

There’s a lot I’m going to be sad to leave behind in my house, but most of that can be replicated or an opportunity for something new. What I’m having the hardest time with is my garden.

I have about five of these rose bushes peppered through the back with other rose varieties, but this kind is my favorite by far. I always thought that either a rose was big and beautiful or it was fragrant, but this John Paul variety proves that to be a lie. The blossoms get just massive and the aroma is the sweetest. When I bring in a few of these it makes the whole house smell beautiful.

My herb garden now

I started this herb garden just under two years ago and it’s taken off like a wild thing. I use it every single time I cook.

The smell of lilac just takes me back, and after a little scare I’ve nursed this plant back to health and it’s now dripping with blossoms. Just in time for me to miss them all.

And in abundant foliage waiting to shoot their flowers straight up…

Since we’ll be renting, I can’t really do any gardening in the new place. I’ll get some herbs started in some containers, maybe next year I’ll reclaim the bulbs currently in the ground and get those started in pots too, but no fresh tomatoes this year. No more little lemon tree. Oh sigh, it’s so sad.

The good news is that since land is plentiful and affordable in Modesto, very much different from San Diego, my dream of a farm is suddenly worth working towards. So now I’ll just have to hang on to that day and think about orchards just outside my backdoor.


2010 Year of Pleasures #16


As you read this I am at Disneyland with Atti and Bear and the grandparents, trying to soak in the last pleasures of Southern California before we have to leave it behind.

My guess is that Atti is going to go bonkers for it – probably especially the Dumbo ride – and by the end of the day I am going to have arms that Michelle Obama will envy after carrying around my little 25 lb sack of sugar.

Bear and Atti

Atti is such a little daredevil. Since he was old enough to hold his head up he’s loved being tossed in the air – Up was one of his first words. I think today will be the start of a beautiful friendship.


Presents for the Entourage

Fabric Covered Frames
Wednesday was our last day with Atti’s therapists and it was awful. These women have been my support system for the last two years. Atti’s OT has been seeing him since he was 4 months old. The ladies from HOPE have been seeing him since the day I brought him home. It was like saying goodbye to family.

I needed to come up with a present for them, and I just did not have the time to do something like the quilt I did for the last therapist we said goodbye to, so I was stumped for weeks. I thought it would be nice to give them a picture of Atticus, but I felt a little self conscious assuming that a picture of my *perfect child* would be a present to them.

But I did it anyway because I wanted to honor the relationship they’ve had to him. I wanted to recognize how important they’ve been in our lives. And a framed picture seems a little intimate – reflecting just how close to our hearts they are.

Michael’s carries 8 x 8 unfinished wooden frames, so I bought up a bunch of those and painted them a neutral cream color.

Fabric Covered Frame Step 1
I pulled out some fabrics from my stash and cut each piece 2 inches bigger than the frame on each side. Then I stapled two sides to the back of the frame.

Fabric Covered Frame Step 2
Fold the corners neatly and staple the other two sides to the back.

Fabric Covered Frame Step 3
Cut the center out of the fabric, leaving just enough fabric to cover the inside lip of the frame and glue in place with fabric glue. You’ll need to make a slit in each corner to get it to lay flat. Slit right up to the edge but be careful not to go past it.

Fabric Covered Frame Step 4
Add any additional decorations to the front. I stamped “You made a difference” onto grosgrain ribbon using a permanent ink and glued it to the front with fabric glue.

Fabric Covered Frame Step 5
Secure that ribbon to the back with more glue, and maybe even a staple.

Fabric Covered Frame Step 6
Cut a piece of flannel or fleece or felt or whatever – whatever you don’t have to hem – to 7″ square, and then cut a square out of the center 1 1/2″ in from each edge. Glue this to the back to cover up any mess and staples.

Despite my misgivings, these seemed to be a big hit. His OT told me she’s going to hang it up in her living room. I just don’t know how these therapists do it – pouring so much love and concern into these kids only to watch them grow up and go away and lose that connection. I just hope that they know how important they have been to the both of us.


2010 Year of Pleasures #15


You know what is a SERIOUS pleasure? A friend who reads this tweet:

There are so many things I’m supposed to be doing now that I’m just paralyzed. Can’t pick a place to begin!

and decides that the perfect solution is to blow off responsibilities and head to the zoo. And then pops over while you’re still in your jammies and talks you into it.

Riding the tram
Even though we went when Atti was supposed to be napping, and just after getting a shot at the doctors, he came through like a trooper. He loved every minute, and I got a ton of snuggles. He finally conked out at the very end as we walked through the butterfly jungle, so I carried him, asleep and sweaty, through this magical garden packed with butterflies floating right next to you and landing on your shoulder.

Cynthia was dead right. The answer to too much to do? Escape to the zoo.


My little genius

*I posted the wrong video. This one has some alphabet and numbers. All better.

Atti will never perform on command, so to get his latest achievement I had to hide in the background.

One day Atticus was crawling around playing with his toys, and Bear and I noticed him saying his ABC’s. We both came in from other rooms to check and see if we were really hearing what we thought we heard. But we were, he sang the whole thing.

Then, while waiting in line at a drive through, he started counting. And he got all the way up to ten. Since then he’s made it up to 15.

He watches a few hours of Sesame Street a week, and he’s got lots of toys that count or say the alphabet, but Bear or I have never worried about enforcing that. We’ve got other worries. It turns out he didn’t need our help on this one. He figured this out all by himself.


As if I wasn’t already enough of a good Mormon lady

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
Last week I got an email from my friend Cynthia.

“Hey, I’m making jam. Wanna come over?”

Because I am drowning in this dang move, I said, “Absolutely!” but I begged her to tackle it the next day when I could get away. Or so I thought.

I make my way over to Cynthia’s, after two other errands, no nap for Atti and with a Dr’s appointment to get to afterwards, and we completely disrupted her domestic bliss with my frazzled self and a screaming baby. In one of the most charitable acts ever she volunteered to trek all her canning supplies and her two delightful children over to my house so that Atti could have a nap.

Cynthia is a computer programmer and professor, and her razor sharp analytical mind is evident in everything she does. Look at her canning procedure set up as if by a surgical scrub nurse.

She walked me through the process, complete with entertaining enactments of what the jam mixture would look like when it reached the properly volcanic boiling temperature, and then when we were all done she offered to let me have all of the spoils. Not only did Cynthia drag all her stuff to a second location, but she gave away the fact that she didn’t even *really* need to be doing it at all. She orchestrated this whole canning adventure just for my benefit.

Filling the jars

Canning has always been THAT THING for me. You know THAT THING, the thing that you don’t do, that you feel you must do if you’re going to call yourself a good wife/homemaker/mother/educated person. THAT THING that really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things, but about which you have always harbored a secret shame that feeds an inferiority complex? I know I’m not alone here. I know canning probably seems a totally random THING to get hung up on for most of you, but coming from my Mormon heritage, it was a really big deal to me. For some reason I internalized this thought that I couldn’t call myself a Good Mormon Woman unless I had a cellar full of put up fruit. I know it’s ridiculous, but aren’t we all?

Cynthia has created a monster. I’m moving to the place where all this stuff is grown. I’m going to spend my whole summer putting up tomatoes and tomato sauce, pickles made of every vegetable, jams and jellies in every color, syrups and fruit butters, you name it. I’ve been interested in local and seasonal eating for ages, but I love food too much to sacrifice. Now I won’t have to.

And I’ll have to find some new THING to obsess about. What is it for you guys?


I swore I’d never…

I said I would never

I had to share this blurry photo from our big drive, Atti slumped over like a couch potato, eyes glazed over watching Elmo, chocolate smeared all over his face from a cookie he found under his bum.

I think this one photo represents eating every word I ever said.