Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday's Child is Full of Strength


It is with tremendous sadness that I have to announce my dear friend JK's daughter was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma on Monday. Words do not express the pain and sorrow that I have for this family. But above all that pain I am trying to focus on strength, prayer, and positive thinking. I want to help make Tuesday's fight as easy on the family as possible. My friends and I are working on fundraising to reduce the financial hardship on her family. I also plan on going out to help relieve her family (we live hundreds of miles apart) for a few days and doing whatever I can to make life a tiny bit easier. If you would like to donate to Tuesday's fund I have an icon above and also on the right to click on. It will go directly into an account that JK has access to so she can pull out money for whatever she needs.

I have known JK since we were both pregnant with twins. We grew especially close and talk to each other all the time. I consider her one of my best friends. I have never met anyone who I have had so much in common with. She gave birth to twin daughters one month after mine were born. She already had 2 other sons so life was amazingly hectic to say the least. But she survived with such grace and humor which makes me feel confident she can handle anything life throws at her. Tuesday and her sister are such adorable little girls. Full of their mother's spunk and topped with the cutest curls on their heads. I could never tell them apart in their pictures even though they weren't identical. They looked so much alike! Then a couple weeks ago Tuesday seemed to start getting lighter. She was losing weight and getting tired easily. JK took her in to the dr and they said her iron was low and sent her home with some iron supplements. No biggie. JK has had iron issues in the past herself so we just figured she would give her some iron and that would be that. We joked about how it made her teeth look black and laughed at the thought of her having some super dark poop. Oh how I wish that was the end of the story. Sadly, we all know it wasn't. Tuesday got weaker and after a couple days went back to the dr for a checkup. Her iron levels were dropping dangerously low even with the supplements. After 2 1/2 hours of drs coming in and out and whispering in the hall they sent her to the hospital. JK called me on the way, terrified and tear filled. I tried my best to tell her not to worry but I think we both knew to start worrying. The next couple days were like a nightmare. Every update got worse. White blood cells at 300 (normal is between 4500 and 10000), enlarged spleen,liver, and heart, red blood cells being attacked by her own body. And then finally the news I will never be able to shake from my mind, Stage 4 Cancer. I felt like it was a dream. A sick and horrible dream. Thank God my SIL was standing right next to me to help me to the couch because I was in such shock couldn't stop shaking. I gathered some composure and called my dear friend JK. She was so calm when she spoke. She had already been drained of so much emotion and was trying to keep calm so Tuesday would fall asleep. I got the rundown. 6 rounds of chemo followed by 6 rounds of stem cell transplantation. Mainline being installed. Bone marrow taken. Tumor Biopsied. It was going to be a long week and even longer year. I didn't want to know the chances, I just wanted to know there is a chance. There is. So with that I am focusing on her being the part of the percentage who beats this. She is her mother's daughter and full of the same spunk and strength. She WILL beat this with all of our prayers and support. I have to have faith that she will. Her family needs us all to have faith that she will.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Prayers Please

I have been trying to write a post about our trip to Lambtown USA on Saturday but I just can't focus on writing right now. My friend's daughter is very sick and needs alot of prayers. For their privacy I will not give names as this is a public blog but please pray for a little girl in Colorado who is very sick and awaiting answers as to what is the cause. Today we hope to find out whether it is an autoimmune disease or leukemia. Please say prayers for this little girl's health and strength for her family. She needs all the prayers she can get.

I will try to get back to blogging soon but right now focus is on prayer. Love to you all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Great Book List

I got this list from Debi at Who Says Eight is Enough? It seems like a good list and it was kind of fun to see which books I have read.

According to The Big Read, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list.
How many have you read?

Look at the list.

Bold those you have read.
Italicize those you intend to read.
Underline the books you LOVE.

I am going to bold the books I have read and leave it at that. I don't want to pick out certain books I love more because then it may discourage someone else to read a book that could be their new favorite

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (Okay I know I said I wasn't going to pick favorites ut this is my all time favorite book. Everyone should read it.)
6. The Bible (I haven't read it all but I have read quite a bit and I intend to read it cover to cover eventually )
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. 1984 - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy3
2. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ( just bought this book and intend on reading it soon)
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92.The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Well I have 31 read. Not bad for someone who mostly reads nonfiction. How about you? There are a bunch on there that I would like to read and some I have absolutely no interest in. Here is my question- why do these lists always have fiction and never nonfiction. There are so many great nonfiction books out there. I think they deserve some props!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Tennessee Valley Authority

I am now a Tennessee Valley authority. No people, I am not talking about the Depression Era corporation set up by the US Government to create an economic boost in the hard hit south. I am talking about a little valley in Marin County that offers a nice little path to the ocean.  After becoming exceedingly jealous of all you out there posting about your fabulous days at the beach I decided we needed a little beach day of our own, Northern California style. I didn't want to do the traditional park in a lot and walk 100 yards to the beach. I wanted something more. So I checked my Foghorn Outdoors California Hiking book and found this little gem.


Tennessee Valley is a very popular hiking spot. Even on a Wednesday we saw our fair share of hikers. There are a number of trails that start in this area of the Marin Headlands. We chose the Tennessee Valley Trail. Why? Because it is paved for the first mile and a nice hard dirt trail the rest of the way. Perfect for strollers. We used our jogging stroller and it was easy going to the beach. The trail is shared with bikers and equestrians so the kids got a kick out of watching the bike riders whiz by and identifying every pile of horse poop along the way.

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Mari is especially obsessed with all things fecal so this was quite the treat for her. She would get really close to the pile, point, and say "yucky!" in a very excited voice. We would reply "Yes, its yucky, don't touch it. Lets go" and we would move on to the next pile. Ben was busy running his little heart out down the trail. Since it was paved the first mile this really kept him moving.

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The gravel trails really mess with his sensory issues and get him sidetracked into Benland easily. The trail is not the most scenic I have ever been on nor is the beach the most jaw-droopingly beautiful but it was very pretty and the beach was definitely not a disappointment. What I liked about the hike was that we kind of went through different ecological zones along the way. There were golden hills  dotted with green coastal shrub and a gentle stream trickling along the side of the path with plenty of greenery surrounding it. Like most hikes in Marin, this hike had  a grove of eucalyptus trees. These trees are native to Australia so somebody was doing alot of planting of these trees back before the land became a National Park. I think they are so popular because they make great wind breaks and the Northern California Coast has its fair share of wind. Anyway, once again, I digress. 

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We did some flower picking and dirt drawing and rock throwing. All things the kids love to do on hikes.

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One special part of the trail was when Paul showed the kids how to blow on those white puffs that dandelions turn when they go to seed. The kids got the hang of it after getting a bunch in their mouth from inhaling when they should be exhaling. It was so cute when we showed the kids the pictures last night and Mari started blowing at the screen. Its like they are little smart people now!

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We took an upper trail on the way there (accidentally) and got a great view of a lagoon and the valley framing the ocean. Paul called this little view "the vagina of the sea'. Such a classy individual.

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The lagoon itself was very pretty and the birds seemed to especially enjoy its calm waters. Just beyond the lagoon was the beach. It was a tiny beach, framed with dramatic sea cliffs on either side. The wind was howling and skies were gray. A typical summer day at the beach in this part of the country. I think the gray skies can sometimes add to the drama of the scenery of this rugged coast. Its a different kind of beauty. Tennessee Beach is a dark sand beach. If you look closely at the pebbles intermixed with sand you can spot so many variations in color. I actually remembered to bring something to collect sand in this time! A perfect beach to start this tradition. I think I got quite the interesting specimen. Highlights of our time at the beach included a little cave that the kids enjoyed hanging out in, A really neat waterfall that was created by breaking waves, and a neat hole in the rock that jutted out into the ocean. Mari thought it was especially fun to dump sand into Ben's hood. Such a little stinker. Ben was interested in the "balls" he found on the seaweed. Shocker, I know. We tried to get the kids to pose for what we call our "Christian Album Cover" shots and had some success but the kids seemed to be interested in other things. Ben loved me pretending to toss him out to sea (Mari didn't think this game was quite as fun) and Mari once again made it her personal goal to stand on every rock on the beach.

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Alas- Ben was quickly looking ragged from the lack of nap (why he didn't sleep in the car on the way is anyone's dress) so we decided it was time to head back. The kids were forced to stay in their stroller on the way back so we didn't turn the two mile walk back into a three hour tour. For some reason, whenever they are in the stroller for extended periods of time, they insist on socks and shoes coming off. Maybe they enjoy the wind between there toes. Or maybe its just more comfy. Either way, it was really cute to see those little toes wiggling with excitement at their new found freedom. 

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Our hike ended with a visit with a horse and a flock of turkeys. Spy (the horse) was a bit wary of the double stroller so we couldn't get too close which did not please the little ones. They think they are entitled to ride every equine that they come across. I was much more into the turkeys and gobbled my way up to them so I could get a decent picture.

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By the end of the walk the kids were ready for a good old fashioned diaper change, juice, and car seat combo and we were happy to oblige. On the ride home all was quiet in the backseat. Always the sign of a successful outing.


If you would like to visit the Tennessee Valley check out this website

If you would like to see all the pictures from our day then check this one out!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nature always wins

Having boy girl twins has been a very interesting study in nature vs nurture. In this household, nature is holding strong. Mari is a girly girl and Ben is such a stereotypical boy. The past couple outings have really demonstrated this quite well.

Sunday we went to our friend (and the children's Godfather) Matt's 30th birthday barbeque. Ben was interested in being outside with the dogs, throwing the tennis ball and getting dirty while Mari walked her way up the stairs to play with the rabbit. She loved pretending to feed him and talking to him in a gentle and nurturing voice. Ben was happy to say hi to the bunny but after about ten seconds of rough petting he had his fill of delicate furry creatures. He wanted the dogs. Then when Matt's friend brought out her professional disc golf set Ben became a child obsessed. He refused to eat until he got his fill of disc throwing, sound effects included with every toss.

Today we went to the park to try out Ben's t-ball set we bought per his therapist reccommendation ( I guess the rotation helps his core muscles get stronger)Well Ben was once again in heaven. He loved learning how to hit off the tee,using the bat as a golf club, and throwing the ball for the dogs to fetch. Mari, on the other hand, couldn't be any less interested in the whole thing. She kept running over to the playground to go down the slide or trying to find ways to irritate me by purposely doing things to see whether or not they would get her in trouble. I am certain she only found it to be a personal success her activity resulted in scolding. We did finally get her to go pose with the soccer ball but she fell over the ball when she tried to kick it. I swear. She is my daughter.

I guess my point is that with all this talk of gender identity and political correctness going around I think we need to give nature a little more credit. Sure boys like boy things partly because they are encouraged to but I think most of the reason they like typical boy things is because that is what they are preprogrammed to like! And thats okay. Its okay for there to be boy toys and girl toys. Its okay for there to be jobs men are better at than women and vice versa. Of course there will always be exceptions to rules (and I am all for those who like to be the exceptions) but I think we should lay off trying to fight so hard against nature. After all, nature always wins out in the end.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What's on your Tivo

Hey all- So last night I didn't do my Sunday question. Instead we will have a Monday Question.


What is on your Tivo (or DVR. Whatever. They are all Tivo to me)?


We have two tivos. I know. We are pathetic. But it truly is needed during football season. The tv in the family room is dominated by the kids. Our tivo is full with Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Curious George. I also saw Miss Universe 2008 recorded last night (yes! Love pageants). I may have a SO You Think You Can Dance out here as well. For the most part this Tivo is the kids. Oh we also have the recording of Paul on Sacramento and Company promoting lasiks (it was a good way to get a discount) and me and the kids on the local news. Can't part with those. Good stuff. Oh and my personal favorite- the last ten minutes of a Regis and Kelly where Baby Bash performs "Cyclone' because I am in love with the old lady who comes up and dances at the end. Trudy from Luigi's Dance. I swear if that is not on you tube then I need to get it on there. Its awesome.


In our room Family Guy has the biggest showing. We watch it at bedtime and it puts us down at night because we have seen every episode so many times we can close our eyes and watch. Yes, we are pathetic. I also have Dirty Jobs, Ice Road Truckers,and Tougher in Alaska on there alot this time of year. I am a Discovery Channel/National Geographic/ History Channel reality show junkie. I love those shows. My favorite is the logger show but alas the season is done. I also have a vintage collection of 30 Days. I recorded them last year, have yet to watch them, and refuse to let Paul delete them. Its important to let them season before watching. Does anyone else do that? Record a show, never watch it, and then refuse to delete it? I also have some Office reruns and Paul likes the Flip That House show. I think its depressing when we have no house to flip.  A recent addition is the cartoon Home Movies. We used to watch it years ago and it just came back on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. Paul and I love it. The Coach character cracks us up. If you like adult cartoons then check it out.  We also have a variety of movies we got off pay per view. I think Superbad, Little Miss Sunshine, and Hairspray might be on there. We don't get to the movies much.   Paul will watch lots of movies on the computer but for me, this is the only way I will ever see one. Well that's my tivos. I'd love to hear what's on yours. I feel its a great way to peer into one's soul.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Love Affair With the Fair

Okay, I admit it. I am a sucker for a fair. There is something about agriculture and fried food that just draws me back year after year. I have fond memories of going to the Ventura County Fair as a child. I would drag my parents from animal to animal, making sure I got a good look at each individual cow, sheep, or rabbit that was up for display. I dreamed of living someplace where I could be a part of FFA or 4-H and raise my own animals for show. Alas our backyard in the suburbs was all concrete and about the size of a shoe box. Not to mention my Mom is not what one would call an animal lover. Instead, I looked forward to fair each year when I could have my day with the livestock. In college I was an Animal Science major until organic chemistry kicked my butt and sent me running to the world of Communication. During my Animal Science days I got to milk cows, birth sheep, and even learn how to judge livestock. Yes, I took a whole class on judging livestock. Yes, I am a geek. But at least I have a good idea why one ewe gets the blue ribbon while the other gets nothing more than a green participation award. I digress. There is much more about a fair than livestock. Its a great place to find out what new food man has decided to deep fry (I think the deep fried coke was going a bit far but what do I know?). Its a place to spend $35 trying to throw a ring over a glass bottle so your son can have that giant stuffed basketball he has been dying to win. A place where you can spin to your hearts content on any number of rides set up by toothless carnies who most certainly smoked a little something something before going on shift. Most of all its a place where you can gawk at the sea of humanity and all its blaring fashion errors. Where else will you see 50 year old obese women in short shorts and tube tops (except for maybe some sort of biker event)? Come on people. You know you love it.


Last year my kids  experienced a few fairs. We went to the puny Yolo County Fair. The great thing was that it was free and a perfect first glimpse at the fair world for my little ones. Mari cried the first time she came face to face with a sheep but she came around to the world of livestock pretty quick. We got to check out the vintage tractor and fire truck exhibit and the kids loved watching the performing dogs. A nice way to spend the afternoon out of the house with infants.

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We also hit up the State Fair in Sacramento. Without fail there is always a heat wave during this massive State Fair which always turns me into a a maniac looking for the most shade. But I have to go because its the State Fair and oh so fun. Last year was particularly awesome because our boy Huey Lewis was performing. I believe that children should be exposed to the wonder that is Huey at as young an age as possible. So I made the kids some "Huey Rocks" shirts and we enjoyed some good old fashioned "News" in the 135 degree heat. Well at least that is how hot I remember it. The kids enjoyed the petting zoo, livestock, lemonade, and music immensely.

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We have been to the Dixon May Fair for two years running. This little country fair always has big acts come and perform there for some unknown reason. The day we went ZZ Top was headlining and bikers from all over the area came to town. Always good people watching when there are bikers involved. I love me some biker. This is where Mari started her love affair with the horse. She saw the pony rides and freaked. She enjoyed being on that pony more than anything. It may have been the highlight of her little life thus far. Ben enjoyed the free carnival games for kids and trying to run away from us every 5 seconds. The evening was capped off with Mari doing a little stage dancing next to the DJ. Good times.

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On Friday night we went to the Solano County Fair. It was Keith Sweat concert night so lets just say the fair had a very "urban" feel that night. Definitely different than the majority of my fair experiences. The kids HAD to go on the pony rides. It has become a necessity whenever pony rides are around. They just love them. And we love watching them make horse sounds, clap, and cheer as they go around in a circle.

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From the pony rides we headed to the pig races. They were so cute! Four pigs racing around a track to get to their desert of vanilla ice cream and an Oreo cookie. They gave us little colored tickets so we could root for our pig and have the chance to win a ribbon. Our pigs didn't win but we had a great time nonetheless.

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Afterwards we had to take an obligatory stroll through the petting zoo. I still think I get more from the petting zoo. I love them! This one had a wallaby and donkey and llama and deer! I was, I mean the kids were, in heaven.

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Afterwards we did the ceremonial walk through the livestock pavilion  and said hi to all of those gorgeous animals hoping to take best in show. We hit up the leaping water dogs and ended the evening with a carnival game. Ben has become a major stud at the game where you throw tennis balls into cups floating on water. He managed to get one in and he and his sister got lovely stuffed snakes as a prize. Not a bad little outing.

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Now is the perfect time of year to find a fair near you! Its a great an inexpensive way to spend the day as a family. Embrace your inner ag- lover. Relish all things deep fried. Start your love affair with the fair.