Maximum Fun Drive

There have many times over these blogging years when I’ve written about Jesse Thorn and his work over on Maximum Fun.org, but I have to give him one more plug today, and give you all a heads up about an entertainment feast awaiting you.

When I first got an ipod four years ago, The Sound of Young America was one of the first shows I discovered. I think just through itunes rankings since there weren’t a million podcasts back then, and I fell instantly in love. Jesse and his earnest interviews of awesome guests kept me company through that boring temp job, played over speakers during our neverending house makeover, ran through headphones while I was in the hospital, and came over the computer while I fed Atticus. Just as I say in the video, Jesse’s podcast have been my connection to the grownup world in this sometimes overwhelming childcare gig.

The Sound of Young America is “a public radio show about things that are awesome.” Imagine Fresh Air, if every interview was somebody artistic and creative and totally interesting, and Terry Gross was a surprisingly erudite goofball.

Then Jesse and his pal Jordan Morris, who I sincerely think is one of the funniest people on the planet and until the rest of the world catches up is our secret treasure, started a podcast called Jordan, Jesse, Go! which is basically two goofballs goofing off together. This one never makes it from my computer to my ipod. As soon as a new episode comes through, I drop what I was doing to listen to it. There is a warmth that comes through everything these guys do.

The past couple of weeks have been MaximumFun.org’s annual pledge drive. Today, in a big culmination party, there is an 8 hour marathon of hilarity, totally free, waiting for you in your computer. Starting at 4 pm Pacific, go here, settle back, and wait to be entertained.

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Crafting FAIL – again.

I bring you another entry in my series of screw ups, proving that I am fumbling my way towards crafty success.

Crafting FAIL - again

I started a new herb garden – in pots this time so it can travel with me – and painted the ceramic pots with a high gloss latex. I’ve done it before and it worked just fine, but this time….bubbles.

I specifically asked the paint guy if I could use high gloss paint as exterior paint and he said yes. I spent a whole day and made a big fat mess painting ten of these pots, and then their first night in use…bubbles.

Beats the heck out of me.

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What a glorious day.

swinging

Knitting in the sun

Dad and Atti

Atti and his koala

We found our neighborhood park Saturday morning, and it just couldn’t have been more perfect. We’re slowly starting to get back to life and make ourselves at home.

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2010 Year of Pleasures #21

Atti invented a game all by himself the other day, consisting of headbutting me in my soft post baby belly and laughing so hard at making me laugh that he gave himself the hiccups.

I loved it because it gave me more opportunities to get my hands in this kids hair, and because I am just *loving* watching this little guy’s personality come out stronger by the day.

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The unveiling of Round 1

First of all, I feel compelled to apologize for the photos. Looking back through old pictures, it looks like it took me a solid year to figure out how to take pictures in the last house, and even then it was often a struggle. I’m totally starting from scratch here. I have no idea how to take pictures of most of these rooms without making them look like caves.

Anyhoo, ready for the poorly lit tour?

Living Room

Dining Room 2

Dining Room 1

Here’s a pieced together view of the front room. It’s quite big, big enough for my little library room and a dining room with my enormous table, but I realize now that I have been forever spoiled by the super tall ceilings in the last house. Not having them has made painting a breeze, but the house feels so much smaller to me. Despite the fact that, thanks to the housing boom and then bust, we have some slightly embarrassing square footage at our disposal.

Plate wall downstairs
I debated and debated whether I should put the plate wall back along the staircase or put it somewhere more prominent. It was such a focal point of the last house and I always got so many compliments on it, it was hard to relegate it to a place where you could only see a part of it. But that is a whole lot of wall space to leave empty, so…I don’t know. One thing I do not regret is giving that mirror a more central location. That was one of my very first Craigslist scores, and I’m happy that it has a place of prominence here.

Family Room
The family room is so big that I feel a sudden compulsion to buy all new furniture. I’ll be keeping my eye out for a bargain couch, but I usually hate entertainment centers and was so happy with this little low profile one. Maybe I can come up with some wonderful thing to put on the wall that will make it fit in better.

Kitchen
And the ridiculously big kitchen. The kitchen that is really too big to not have an island. I love the way the green looks with these cabinets, but I’m going to have to do something in this big fat space. I don’t think a big kitchen cart would be too hard to build. Luckily I have a local friend who’s a woodworker, so I’m going to put him to work. And then when we move to a different house where I don’t need a freestanding island, it can go outside and be the place I will one day successful germinate a seed.

Now for the upstairs…

Loft
Right at the top of the stairs is this loft room, and we’ve put our ancient TV here so that Atti can jump in his bouncer and watch Sesame Street while I type on the internet. The great thing about this space is that it essentially functions as Atti’s playroom. We can put most of the big play stuff up here, away from the adult spaces, and there are tons of closets upstairs to stash his toys. Our last house was starting to get seriously overwhelmed with all his equipment.

Bedroom 2
The cave-iest of the cave pictures, I actually love how our bedroom turned out. In our last house I chickened out on the paint colors and ended up with lavender walls with a brown accent wall. It was fine, but not at all what I was going for. This is what I was going for. Gray walls with a charcoal, almost black, accent wall.

Someday we’ll replace this ancient queen bed with a king (three cats, two tall people and a growing toddler had us finally seeing the need) and when that happens I’ll build us a headboard, get this bed off the floor and finally live like grownups.

Bedroom 1
We moved that great dresser I put in my studio last time into the bedroom, and now Bear and I each have our own dressers. It’s a luxury unlike anything I’ve experienced in my married life.

But still, with two dressers, a queen bed, a small jewelry cabinet and an endtable, we are nowhere close to filling up this room. And we never will. Honestly, sometimes I just don’t know what builders are thinking when they design these houses. What else do you need in a bedroom? Why put all the square footage here?

This house is way bigger than our last one, which is sometimes good (like the loft) and sometimes bad. During the housing boom there were several building companies creating these new developments, and they almost got competitive over who could build the bigger house. There is a lot of wasted space just to make things bigger. I’d love to have the master be half the size and have another usable bedroom. Or make the overall house a little smaller on the lot so that my neighbor and I don’t have to fight over where we put our trash cans. Truth be told, if a smaller option was available when we were looking I probably would have taken it. But overall, it’s a great house and we got so lucky to find it when we needed it.

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A poignant moment

Mother's Day

I missed Mother’s Day at church since we were out of town, so I got my Mother’s Day present from Atti last Sunday. I never saw myself as the super sentimental “save everything my baby touched” kind of mom, but when I saw this card I threw all my cynicism right out the window and teared right up.

I mean, look! My boys!

When we got home I headed straight for the fridge to put it up. Putting that magnet on the fridge seemed like such a monumental moment. I could see myself repeating that act over and over again, our lives together flashing forward in front of me. I saw the artwork, the report cards, the college acceptance letter, all stretching out in front of me as we leave his babyhood behind.

I was already welling up, overcome by the significance of such a simple gesture, and then I took a look at the magnet. There was no forethought, I just grabbed the first magnet that came to my hand, but I have spent years looking at this magnet every time I walked through the kitchen, and sighing.

The quote reads:
One must still have chaos inside oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.

During all those years of infertility I really struggled with the thought that I would be a less than perfect mother. Unhappy childhood, bad modeling, blah blah blah, fears we all have to one degree or another, and I loved the imagery of this quote and the thought that we can all turn unpleasantness into beauty. That maybe some unpleasantness is necessary for beauty.

I stood there at the fridge and just watched my life come full circle. All those years of clinging to the thought on that little magnet to get me through, and there I was using that same magnet to hang my child’s Mother’s Day card.

Life just creates little poetic moments sometimes, doesn’t it.

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2010 Year of Pleasures #20

Sun dried tomato blend

I bought this sampler of oils and vinegar at the chocolate festival over the weekend, and it’s embarrassing how much of it I’ve already eaten. Particularly that sundried tomato bistro oil. It’s essentially a combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar like you dunk your bread in at any italian restaurant, but with additional flavoring that makes me want to lift the bottle to my lips and just chug it straight.

This company imports their olive oil from Spain and their vinegar from Italy and then adds really delicious flavors. Lucky for me they sold a little sampler pack so that I didn’t have to choose just one. I got a blackberry balsamic vinegar, fig balsamic vinegar, meyer lemon olive oil, and that sundried tomato bistro blend which is already gone. I don’t think I’ve eaten anything but bread dunked in this stuff ever since I bought it. Last night I spread some goat cheese on a cracker and topped it off with a drizzle of the fig balsamic, and then I did a few dozen more times and called it dinner. This stuff is amazing.

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Oakdale Chocolate Festival

We’re slowly slowly slowly settling in around here, but this weekend kicked off the agricultural festivals this area is so known for, so we scrubbed the paint out of our hair and headed out for a day in the sun.

panhandler
There were lots of examples of celebrating California history. You could pan for gold with this guy who looked like he was born for this job, or take pictures with people decked out in full on cowboy outfits complete with leather chaps. People take their historical reenactments seriously.

classic
I think it might be a law that a California festival feature classic cars, particularly here in the home of American Graffiti. I was stopped in the parking lot on my way out by two different people asking if there were classic cars to look at. People around here take their cars even more seriously.

Fancy oils and vinegars
This is what I take seriously. Artisanal foodstuffs. There are so many little local companies throughout the valley that grow and bottle the most amazing things. This company bottled flavored oils and vinegars and I had a wonderful time tasting each one.

Waiting for chocolate
There’s a Hershey’s factory in Oakdale, which is why they hold a chocolate festival there, but this one was kind of disappointing. There weren’t a ton of chocolate vendors there, and then we had to wait in a line for nearly an hour to get a couple little free samples. But at the end of that line was the booth with the fancy caramel apples, and they were worth the wait. Caramel apples are another of my obsessions, and this booth had one they called “Ala Mode” which was a caramel apple dipped in a hard yogurt topping and sprinkled with cinnamon. Oh wow was that good.

Atti in the sunshine
Atticus was just happy to leave the house.

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The neverending move

painting

As much fun as I had at MaxFunCon, and I had a ton and do not regret it one iota, it has made this move last forever. I’ve still got boxes in the livingroom, the silverware that got left behind has still not shown up in the mail, and every single day I wake up, put on the smelly grubby clothes and lift the paintbrush over my head.

I have painted more than my share of houses before, and I am shocked at how different it is this time. This post pregnancy body of mine doesn’t have much in the common with the body I left behind. I move so much slower, I get aches and pains in places I never had before, I have to take things a lot easier. If I was doing this with the me from 3 years ago all the painting would be done by now. But in my current incarnation I’m only halfway done. It’s so stinking frustrating that I can’t pick up the pace.

By the end of the weekend we should (hopefully) be done with the bulk of the painting. We’ll still have a couple of bathrooms and Atti’s room, but we’ll have enough done that we can get settled. I can unpack the books and roll out the rugs and give everything a place and then I’m going to sit on the couch and not move for a couple of days. Probably with a heating pad on my old lady self.

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2010 Year of Pleasures #19

me and Bear and Maria BAMFORD!

It’s Maria Bamford!

As I’ve mentioned, I am a great big comedy nerd. And one of my most favorite comedians is Maria Bamford. Bear and I met her at MaxFunCon and got to eat lunch with her, and it was just unreal how friendly and open and engaging she was. She was absolutely the highlight of the weekend for me.

As we were all leaving I snagged her for a picture and I started debating with myself whether or not I should push a business card on her with this blog’s address on it. But while I was trying to decide if it would be a friendly or annoying thing to do, she asked for it. I was totally blown away. You never expect the people you admire to be interested in you, but she was. She was just the best.

If you aren’t a fan of Maria’s yet, do yourself a favor. Go to YouTube and prepare for the laughs. Here are some of my favorites:

A couple instances of PG-13 language in this one:

Swearing’s a little more frequent in this one, but it’s not like it’s Deadwood. And it’s totally worth it for anyone who struggles with…..anything.

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