31 March 2009

Things that make you go "WTF?"

See that itty-bitty, fine-print lettering on the bumper of the school bus?
Wonder what that says?
I did, too ...

Seriously? This is a problem?

27 March 2009

Nobody Told Me

When my first son was only a few months old, another mother said to me:

"Being a mother is like having your heart walking around outside of your body."

I agreed. But I didn't fully understand at the time.

I stood there with her and I thought of my beautiful new baby. I thought about how surprised I was by the depths of my love for this itty bitty new person ... and I thought about how becoming a mom throws all of your other priorities out the window ... and I thought about how I knew I would do anything for this amazing child of mine.

And I thought I understood what she was telling me.

But I didn't. Not yet.

All I knew in those precious, priceless first months was that my son was the new center of the universe. I knew the joy. I knew the excitement. I knew the overwhelming love. I even knew some of the nervousness and fear.

But I didn't know about the pain. Yet.

I didn't realize, then, that a Mother feels everything her child feels - only magnified.

I didn't know that when my sons were hurt, I would bleed.

"Being a mother is like having your heart walking around outside of your body."

Nobody tells you these things before you're a parent.

Nobody tells you that when they fall down, you feel the earth bruise your body. Nobody tells you that when they get sick, your skin burns with fever. Nobody tells you that when someone breaks their heart, you can feel yours rip open, too.

Nobody tells you how painfully joyous it is to let your Heart walk out into that big scary world out there every day, knowing that you can't protect them from all of the dangers they will face.

Then again, maybe they do tell you. Or try to.

Maybe we just don't hear it. Maybe it's one of those things you have to learn on your own.

"Being a mother is like having your heart walking around outside of your body."

25 March 2009

By any other name

Getting California out of marriage business proposed as answer to Prop. 8 war

At California's historic hearing on Proposition 8 earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin briefly imagined a scenario that might solve the legal conflict over a gay marriage ban.
What if the government were to get out of the "marriage business," Ming asked, and issue civil-union licenses to both straight and gay couples?
... circulating petitions for a ballot initiative that would strike the word "marriage" from state laws and substitute "domestic partnership."
The change would keep all the rights of marriage now on the books. But it would nullify Proposition 8 and make the new partnership category applicable to both gay and straight.
more ...

Can we just give everybody in California a freakin' dictionary and move on?

News Flash: The word "marriage" has more than one meaning.

Let's make it simple:

Definition #1: A religious or spiritual union or rite
Definition #2: A legal contract with set rights and responsibilities defined by law.

Religions of any kind are free and welcome to set any limits they see fit on Definition #1. But, in this country, no religion has any business trying to legislate Definition #2 to force others to live by their beliefs.

If you want to live in a theocracy, you might try Iran or Saudi Arabia or Israel. I'm sure those are lovely places to live. As long as you do and think and be exactly as the church/government believes you should.

23 March 2009

Makin' music

As a card-carrying geek, I'm statutorily mandated to read Wil Wheaton's blog. Which is great, because he always makes me laugh or smile or think, or just go, "Wow".

This was a WOW week, when he shared this amazing video of Theresa Andersson. The music is great, but how she makes it is just freakin' awesome!

20 March 2009


Today is the Vernal Equinox - the first official day of Spring.

No offense to my buddy Punxatawny Phil, but Spring has been fully sprung 'round these parts for weeks now.

The recent beautiful blossoms of white and pink and mauve that exploded onto all of the fruit trees a few weeks ago are now giving way to green buds. At our old house, the tulips and daffodils are standing at attention like bright yellow and red soldiers saluting the sun. Here at our new house, the rose bushes are just starting to show hints of buds and our vegetable garden is going like gangbusters. In the foothills nearby, the wildflowers are taking over the fields and "painting the world" as my four-year-old describes it.

And, just in case there was any doubt, allergies are bustin' out all over, too. :)

Sorry, New England and Montreal and other parts nor'east. You may have the market on colorful fall foliage, but California's Central Valley dons the loveliest of spring bonnets.

Personally, I've never been fond of the winter months (except for Christmas, I love Christmas!) Being a born-n-bred California girl, I'm not much for cold weather - I get all bundly and think parts of me are gonna fall off when the thermostat drops below 65.

That means I spend a lot of time indoors in the winter.

So, to me, Spring feels like parole.

It's like someone has opened a window to give me a glimpse of the warmth and light and outings soon to come. Even the air - which I know is more polluted than ever - feels cleaner and brighter after a Spring rain. And the mountains to the east and west look so much more inviting when they are not topped with quite so much white stuff.

Spring means longer days and more sunlight. It means blue skies and colorful flowers and nesting birds. It means picnics and parks and hikes. It means it will soon be time for camping trips to the mountains, weekends at the beach, or just lazy afternoons out at the pool.

Of course, the humid 110 degree days in July and August, may find me singing the praises of our temperate Autumns. :)

But, for now, I'm thrilled to welcome Spring.

(Art: "Persephone" by Blackeri)

17 March 2009

Of shamrocks and lumberjacks

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Paddy's is a celebration trifecta at the House of Zen:

1 - Our family heritage is Irish/Scottish, so it's an excuse to celebrate (read: drink to) that.
2 - The ZenHusband is a homebrewer partial to British brews (another toast to that, please) AND
3 - It's the anniversary of the day The ZenHusband and I first met. :)

Yep, 12 years ago today, this Big Lug picked up this Sweet Lil' Gal at the local saloon ... and the rest is history ... well, sort of. What's that you say? Romantic? Kismet? Fate? P'shaw. Almost never happened.

The Sweet Lil' Gal - that would be me, for those keeping score - was new in town, mourning the recent untimely death of her beloved Dalmatian, and had to work late that night ... so she almost didn't go out that night with her roommate to a local bar-and-grill.

And the Big Lug - again, for those keeping score, that would be The Husband - hadn't really planned on going to that pub that night, either. But he ended up there anyway, having a pint with a pal.

After getting a couple of girly umbrella drinks at the bar (and getting hit on by a couple of nice-but-no-thank-you guys), my roommate and I decided to take our drinks out to the patio to enjoy the unseasonably warm evening and to avoid the more meat-markety feel of the bar area.

We were out there chatting and laughing when I suddenly heard this deep, rumbling voice behind me ask if I he could join us. So, I turned in my chair and saw ...

... a lumberjack.

Seriously. That was my first impression: This tall, broad-chested, dark-haired, red-cheeked, brown-eyed, long-lashed, baritone wearing a red plaid shirt, blue jeans and a friendly smile - He looked like he belonged on a package of Brawny towels.

I said yes.

For the record, my darling Husband tells me his first impression of me was "Nice Rack."

Awww. Innit-he-suhweet?

Anyway, he and his friend (who, a few years later would serve as our Best Man) did join our table and we had a nice chat about work, beer, pets, family, our town, and so on.

That first impression stuck for a while. My roommate would tell me "your sexy lumberjack called" or ask if I was going out with "Mr. Brawny" again. Which, of course, I did.

The first date was coffee (and meeting his beautiful Dalmatian, Patch); the second was a B.B. King Concert, followed by a movie ... a candlelight homemade dinner (Don't worry: He cooked, not me!) ... a day hike in Yosemite ... dinner with his family ... Easter with my family ... After that, it's all pretty blurry. :)

As time went by, we jokingly observed the 17th of each month as our "Monthiversary". Even after we got married, St. Patrick's Day was still our other special day of the year.

Two years ago, we had a chuckle over the fact that we "made it" to our 120th monthiversary.

But today! Today marks 12 years of 12 monthiversaries a year. That's a pretty special milestone, if you ask me. :)

So: Happy 144th monthiversary, Honey. You'll always be my sexy lumberjack. :)

11 March 2009

Quote Junkie: Don't Panic!

Yes, I am at Disneyland today celebrating my birthday.

BUT, I couldn't let the day pass without acknowledging another special birthday. So, via the magic of modern technology, while I frolic with Mickey and pals, you get to enjoy some wit and wisdom from the late, great Douglas Adams, with whom I am proud to share a birthday ...


"The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate."
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri."

"He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife."

"What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can't move, with no hope of rescue. Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won't be troubling you much longer."

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair."

"We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem."

"Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much... the wheel, New York, wars, and so on, whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely the dolphins believed themselves to be more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons."
I'd far rather be happy than right any day." (Slartibartfast)

“There is a theory which states that if ever for any reason anyone discovers what exactly the Universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another that states that this has already happened.”

"Shee, you guys are so unhip it's a wonder your bums don't fall off." (Zaphod)

If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now." (Zaphod Beeblebrox)

The Guide, on towels:
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have ... any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

09 March 2009

My Happy Place

It's my birthday this month - my 35th for anyone who's keeping count - and my darling husband and children are taking me to one of my favorite places on earth: Disneyland. :)

Did you know that Disney is offering free park admission on your birthday? Check it out!

(On the way home, we will stop at one of my favorite stores: Ikea. I will likely overspend in both places. Ah, well. There are worse addictions, I suppose. ) :)

I love Disney. Always have. Always will. If I have to explain why, you probably wouldn't understand anyway.

I have no idea how many times I've been to Disneyland (one of the many benefits of living in California), but I never get tired of it.

Of course, the experience is even better with kids.

I think we took Minion 1 for the first time when he was about a year and half. And I know Minion 2's first trip was in utero, followed by another when he was just shy of 1, as well.

This week, we go with a 4-year-old and a not-quite-2-year-old. Ought to be a blast. :) Minion 1 is already making a list of which attractions he wants to do first ... and Minion 2 is at that age where he will start to recognize familiar faces and sites.

Some folks think we're a little crazy to take kids "so young" to Disneyland - muttering about meltdowns and being old enough to appreciate it.


The key to a great time is simple: Don't have too many expectations, and go with the flow.

I don't "expect" this trip to be the end-all be-all event of a lifetime. I don't "expect" to go on every ride. I don't "expect" to have perfectly happy children all day long.

Kids getting tired? Take a break. The line for a picture with Mickey too long for little tummies to wait for lunch? Skip that experience this time. Kids want to ride Buzz Lightyear three times? Why not? Minion 2 thinks the Pirates are too scary? Take advantage of the rider-swap. (You DO know about rider-swap, don't you? Second-best Disney invention ever. Right after the FastPass.)

I'm looking forward to this birthday present from and with my family very much. But I'm not going to pile so many expectations on it that I bury any chance of enjoying every moment for exactly what it is.

I expect to turn 35 Wednesday. Everything else is chocolate sauce. :)

"Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children's approach to life. They're people who don't give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought - sometimes it isn't much, either."
~ Walt Disney

"So I go right straight out for the adult -- as I say for the honest adult, not these sophisticates, not these characters that think they know everything and you can’t thrill them anymore. I go for those people that retain that something that no matter how old they are, that little spirit of adventure, that appreciation of fantasy, of the world of fantasy and things like that. I go for them, I play to them. There’s a lot of them. You know? These poor sort of lost souls, these sophisticates that are so bored and turn their nose up at anything and say that it’s childish. What the heck is wrong with something being childish? I think it’s equivalent of never losing your sense of humor, you know?"
~ Walt Disney

Enjoy your week. I know I will. :)

06 March 2009

National Grammar Day

Holy verbiage Grammar Man! I missed National Grammar Day?! How the heck did that happen? I hope they don't make me give my Grammar Nazi card back.

Oh, the blogs I could have blogged in honor of this day! I have scads of material on apostrophe abuse, run-on sentences, subject-verb agreement, the poor misunderstood adverb, mangled Latin, et al!

Why, just this week, I added three new misused idioms to my collection. I mean, you could get a whole blog's worth of material from "for all intensive purposes" or "balling my eyes out" or "with baited breath". That's Grammar Nazi gold, right there!

That's not even to mention my award-winning treatise: "They're, Their, There" and its sequel, "Your stupid! My stupid what?"

Ah, well. I guess it will all have to wait until next year.

To atone for my big grammar blog FAIL ... I humbly encourage you, gentle reader, to visit the National Grammar Day Blog.

Are there grammar errors that makes you cringe? Do share!

03 March 2009

On Remembering to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n

"If you are not happy here and how, you never will be."
~ Taisen Deshimaru

Things have been so busy and stressful at work lately that I feel like I've been stuck on fast-forward for weeks. I get to moving so fast that I can't find the brakes. Even worse, I'm not even enjoying the scenery along the way.

"Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free:
Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing."
~ Chuang Tzu

I've mentioned before that there really is no such thing as multi-tasking. Yes, I know that sounds a little crazy, coming from a mom. I mean, we spend most of our lives multi-tasking right?

Not really. We can only ever, really, do one thing at a time.

So how do we cook breakfast, do dishes, help with school work, make a shopping list, do laundry, and all the million other mundane things we do all at the "same" time every day?

We don't. We switch our attention back and forth from one to the next to the next, like jugglers. We toss one ball up, catch another on the way down and then attend to the one in the other hand.

We've learned to alternate between multiple tasks very, very quickly (is it any wonder we are always so tired?) without really ever giving our full and complete attention to any one of them. But, hey, these are just boring, everyday, unimportant tasks ... right?

"Monotony is the law of nature.
Look at the monotonous manner in which the sun rises.
The monotony of necessary occupations
is exhilarating and life-giving."

~ Gandhi

I know that I sometimes feel like I couldn't possibly get through the week without being able to shuffle and juggle and bounce back and forth between all of my various tasks at work and at home.

But ...

Maybe it's better to slow down and stop trying to keep all of the balls in the air at the same time. Focus on just one task. Finish it. Move on to the next. Enjoy the moment, whatever it may be.

There is a certain happiness and peace to be found in doing just One. Thing. At. A. Time. In being fully in the moment. In doing the laundry. Washing the dishes. Making the bed. Bathing the kids. In concentrating fully on THIS task. THIS moment. The ONLY moment.

"There are no mundane things outside of Buddhism
and there is no Buddhism outside of mundane things
~ Yuan-Wu

Sometimes I need to STOP. And remind myself of this.

To remember that happiness is not to be found in scratching things off a to-do list. That happiness is not something that just happens after you're done with your mundane tasks ... later ... some day ...

That "happy" really can be found in something as simple as slowing down and giving your full attention to this very moment.

"Those who seek Dharma in the depths,
are those who leave it behind in the shallows."
~ Shido Munan

"A lifetime is not what’s between the moments of birth and death.
A lifetime is one moment between my two little breaths.
The present, the here, the now.That’s all the life I get.
I live each moment in full, in kindness, in peace, without regret."
~ Chade Meng