Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Long way round...

As some of you know, Hubby is knee deep into his midlife crisis v2.0 and as a result of this, he's fascinated by anything having to do with motorcycles. Last week, we watched "The World's Fastest Indian". Well, this week he learned about a journey taken by Ewan McGregor and his pal Charlie. Together they rode motorcycles from London to New York, and as the title suggests, they took the long way round. They headed East, traveling through Europe, into Mongolia, up through Siberia before crossing the Bearing Straits and ending up in Alaska. Their journey was filmed and it was shown on Bravo a few years ago. Thankfully the DVD of this show was available from the library and yesterday we sat down to watch it.

I personally have no desire to take such a trip. I admit, I haven't even watched Hubby ride his bike out of the neighborhood. This whole motorcycle concept is something I'm finding myself still getting used to. And, I've already shown you how I "camp" a la condo style. Roughing it for me, means you don't have charmin in the bathroom, instead you are stuck with some no name brand of toilet tissue. So, obviously I wasn't drawn to the "Oh, I so want to do that some day" part of the film.

But these guys made it interesting! You really don't realize how large the world is until you watch a film such as this. I found the travels through Mongolia truly fascinating. The landscape, the people, the lack of "stuff" that we all take for granted. And who knew that roads, even hard packed dirt roads are considered a rare find in some parts of the world? Well, it just was fascinating.

But alas, it is a long movie and last night...I called it a night once they got to Alaska. The scenery in Alaska was enough for me to note that is one place I definetly want to visit before I die. Someday for sure. But it won't be on a motorcycle. Nah, I'm thinking a cruise ship is more my style. And as for Mongolia and Siberia, I'm thinking I will just get my fixes from the big fascinating as it was, I didn't see any Hiltons or even a Days Inn where I could rest after a hard day of sight seeing.

So, please check out The Long Way Round if you are in the mood for something different to watch as we wait patiently for the heat of summer to fade away and the new tv season starts back up. They guys also wrote a book about their experience which Hubby is reading. I tell you...the man has the motorcycle obsession BAD...

Friday, July 28, 2006


And released, excused or whatever you want to call it! Yahoo! I'm not sure what I put on my questionnaire that they didn't like, but thankfully the service of Juror #43 is not required to report next week.

I wasn't all that thrilled to go in the first place. There never is a convenient time to sit on a jury. I freely admit that I'm opinionated and quick to make a judgment call. Not sure I can be fair and open minded. I sort of feel like even if you didn't do exactly what you are accused of, if you made it THIS far up the legal chain, you've got to be guilty of something.

But, I went. I didn't try to get myself out of serving. I filled out the survey honestly. Well, not totally honest. On the question that asked about being fair and impartial, as tempted as I was to say "my motto is it is a privilege to serve, and an honor to convict", I just left that question blank.

Once I finished my survey, the lady in charge tells us that they had called a large pool (over 120 jurors were summoned for this one case) as they are preparing to seat a jury for a "lengthy and sensitive case".

Yep, thanks for the belated birthday gift Arapahoe County! Nothing about lengthy or sensitive sounded the least bit interesting to me! Of course, given my nature, I'm most curious to find out what high profile case is starting on Tuesday. But, I'll be happy to find out via the local sources and NOT from the seat in the jury box!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Silver Anniversary...

Yep folks, today is the 25th anniversary of my Sweet 16th Birthday
Or, if you prefer, I'm noting that 20 years ago today, legally I was allowed to drink (I'm thinking that I probably had a sip or two before then but I officially admit to NOTHING!).
And, finally if your caffeine of choice hasn't kicked in yet, I'll give it to you plain and simple: I am 41 today.

And just how do I feel about this? I feel great!

Turning 40 is often considered a big deal. Some folks really struggle with the reality that they are now in the middle age category. They fret about unrealized potential. They mourn the passing of their prime child bearing years. All sorts of emotional stuff can come up around this milestone birthday.

But, for me, not really. This past year I've thought and pondered how I feel about being in my 40s and I keep coming back to a few simple truths...
  • I've found myself a great colorist who manages my premature graying with expertise. Yes, hair has become my one consistent beauty splurge. If my hair looks good, I feel great.
  • I've surrounded myself with the most awesome posse of gal pals one could ever dream of being blessed with. Some of these pals live around the corner, and some live across the country. Some are family. Some are like family. Yet no matter where they live, I know they are always there for me.
  • I've got a great husband. Ok, I admit there are the those days when his greatest talent is annoying me or frustrating me to no end. But, most days, he's just plain great.
  • My Things complete the picture for me. Again, there are THOSE days when I just sigh but more often than not I realize what a very lucky mom I am: to be given the privilege of raising these two amazing boys, quirks and all.

So you see, I am where I want to be...doing the things I was meant to be doing. And with that being the case, I am content with all the blessings in my life and really don't mind what age I am.

Life is good, very very good...

So for those of you still unsure about getting another year older, I offer you this

Jump on in, the water's fine!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In just one week...

The Things will be back to school. Hard to imagine that their summer break is coming to a rather rapid end. I'm thinking that the anxiety level here in the House of Chang is sure to rise over the next 7 days. Both boys have been reassigned to a new track, which is why we've enjoyed an extra 3 weeks off this summer. For Thing Two, he'll do fine as he knows so many of the kids in the neighborhood, that he's certain to know a kid or two in his class. But, for Thing One, change rarely comes without some level of anxiety so I'm just not sure how he'll do. He's had such a great time off but then again, the demands on him have been almost nonexistent. Sure he's had to deal with the daily demands of being a member of the family: help around the house, go to bed on time, do your reading but these are all things he does pretty much without getting anxious. We've not taken a lot of adventures where he's had to cope with sensory overload. Time will tell how he copes with the changes.

And, well I too am a bit anxious. I had my fair share of worries last year and although I've set my mind that this is a new year, fresh start, I am also really struggling with some worries. I need to just keep them under control and keep an open mind. My children deserve that much from me. If I expect it of them, then they need to be able to count on it from me.

So for the next week, we will set out to savor all the fun of summer vacation. We've got a couple pool dates planned and perhaps a lunch out later in the week. And, well, I really need to work on getting us up and moving in the morning. We've got the getting up down, it is the moving part that gets so hard. Wish us luck...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Try Something Different

Thing Two tells us yesterday (as he was still working on perfecting his comic's timing)
  • You wanna try something different? Try putting jello in your pants. That's different...

Oh my...I should not have let him rent Muppets take Manhattan. He's been quoting that joke since he heard it yesterday afternoon. Heavy sigh...I'm off to hide the jello...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Daniel Isn't Talking

By Marti Leimbach, Daniel Isn't Talking is the story about Daniel who is 3 and isn't talking. As the story unfolds, the family learns that Daniel has autism and the rest of the story looks at how the family copes and adjusts with this new reality. It is a work of fiction yet the author's own son has autism so there were plenty of elements of fact incorporated into the story. At times you might be inclined to think this is a memoir instead of a fictionalized story.

In the first 50 pages or so, I was mesmerized! I knew the premise of the book, so I knew what was coming in terms of his yet undiagnosed condition. As I read the book, I was transported back in time to our own journey with Thing One. And I cried as I relived some very sad memories of my own. A mother does indeed know long before the experts confirm that her child isn't developing normally. You do feel isolated and alone and you definetly must go through a grieving process for the loss of the child you imagined you'd be raising compared to the one that you are blessed with. The author does a marvelous job of capturing the flurry of emotions that surround the parents when they first embark on this trip into Autismland.

But, by about half way through the story, I'd had enough. This isn't to say that I didn't like the story. I did. I just find that if I spend too much time in Autismland (be it through books, support groups or blogs), I tend to get a bad case of the blahs. I'm not all that functional to myself or my family when I've got the blahs. So, I quickly finished the story and am ready to move on to some story that doesn't hit quite so close to home.

You might enjoy the story. The author gives real thought towards creating her main characters. I found some of the progress that Daniel made a bit unrealistic. I also found it hard to believe that in such a short time frame, she'd managed to get in to see a whole slew of specialists. I realize that the author had to make these things happen rather quickly in order for her subplots to work. Again, just a reminder that it is a work of fiction, not a true life story.

But as for me, I think I'll stay away from such stories in the future: I like to be entertained, amused, escape and yes, occasionally, educated and enlightened. But, at least for me, this book just took me on a trip down memory lane. Granted, my journey was not exactly like Melanie's (for which I am very grateful for being blessed with a supportive husband and compassionate and caring circle of friends). And although I know it is good to remember the past, it is more important for me to look to the future and realize how far Thing One has come and how there is no reason to believe that he won't continue to make extraordinary progress with his condition.

So, can anyone point me in the direction of something FUN to read? I need a good laugh...crazy, goofy chick lit is what I want to read next. Suggestions please!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sky High

The Things just finished watching the movie Sky High for the second time in 24 hrs. Do you think they like it? Ah gee, I don't know. They are now busy being super heroes, trying to decide who gets which powers and which one of their stuffed animals will be their side kicks.

So, being the silly mom that I like to be sometimes (especially lately during these lazy days of summer) I said "you know boys, I was in the Hero crowd when I was in school".

You'd have to know the story line of this movie, plus me to realize I was telling a tale, a really tall tale when I tried to claim I was cool once. Only in my dreams did I hang with the cool kids in school.

The funny part is that Thing Two got it...sort of...when he said "No you weren't Mom, you went to COWBOY COLLEGE!"

Yep, I fear that graduating from U.Wyo. ranks lower than being a sidekick at Sky High at least in the eyes of a hero-worshiping not quite 7 year old.

The World's Fastest Indian

Hubby is one of the pickier people I know when it comes to movies that he's interested in seeing. I can't remember the last time we went to see a movie together as a couple. Oh sure, he'll take the Things to see their movies (he loved Cars almost more than the Things). But, when it comes to adult flicks, he's got a pretty narrow focus of what interests him and which movies he wants to spend his money on seeing.

Thankfully, he's not so picky when it comes to video rentals. I guess he figures if he doesn't like the video, he can either turn it off or leave the room.

But this particular movie he actually asked me to rent. Oh sure, he'll tolerate watching what I pick out but rarely does he put in any requests. But, since the onset of his midlife crisis v2.0, he's been very into anything motorcycle related.

So last night, we watched this movie. To show you how dull I can be, when I first heard the title I thought, Anthony Hopkins is going to play an Indian? Couldn't they find some REAL Indian to play the role. DUH: Indian is referring to the motorcycle that he rides when he sets his records for speed.

The movie did indeed live up to the hype. As a smaller scale, independent movie, it didn't have all the glitz and glamour that bigger budget films seem to have. It just told a nice story about a quirky old man with a dream. Along the way, he meets some colorful but encouraging folks.

So, if you too have a picky spouse, try renting this movie. It has enough of a story to appeal to us chicks and there are gadgets, gizmos and gasoline to appeal to the guy in your life.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What to do when Comcast goes down?

Yesterday morning I was doing my usual morning computer surfing and THINKING I really should scrapbook. When all of sudden, there was a ZAP followed by a flicker of lights. It was as if we'd experienced some sort of power surge. All the gadgets came back up (gotta love those fancy surge protectors) EXCEPT for our internet access! I tried rebooting the cable modem but had no luck. I figured the problem was more than likely on THEIR end so I went back to what I was doing.

Except, all of a sudden I realized my procrastinating pal, the computer, had bailed on me! And, I found myself saying "might as well work on this layout". So, I slowly puttered around and before I knew it, I created a page that is perhaps one of my current favorites.

It will go in Thing One's School album and reflects all the "track off" travel we enjoyed during school year 04-05. With the completion of this layout, I can proudly announce that I've finished his second grade year. Yeah right! Before you assume that means his album is caught up, keep in mind he did second grade TWICE and thus I still need to think of how I want to work in Second Grade, Take Two.

So, now that the computer is back online (hubby being the network guy that he is, was able to figure out the proper sequence of rebooting and we were back online before dinner. Gotta love that his addiction to high speed surfing is, as bad if not, worse than mine!), I can share with you the pages I've worked on since the company left on Sunday.

It feels good to be scrapbooking again. Maybe I'm not cranking out the layouts like I used to. Instead, I find that I like to think through the layout, focusing on the story I want to share and remember through a scrapbook page. Granted such a method doesn't win me any contests in page challenges, nor does it help me with my desire to get caught up. But, it does bring me back to the reason for scrapbooking in the first place. I enjoy retelling the stories and hope that when the boys grow up, they too will enjoy looking at the pages that mom made just for them.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Run like the...

For as long as my failing memory can recall, Thing One always had some sort of "catch phrase" that he says repeatedly. In autism-land they refer to it as story speak or verbal stimming. Whatever you call it, is can be quirky, cute or down right annoying: depending on the phrase, the timing and how often he uses it.

We've survived "chicken nugget", "peanut brittle", even made it through "tartar sauce" and "pickles". (yes, I too am seeing a food trend).

But the latest ones are trying my patience. Lately it has been "I believe I can fly". And this past weekend, he's been telling me "Run Like the New York Yankees".

The New York Yankees? Where in the world did he come up with that one I wonder? Who knows...but for now, I'm hoping he quickly finds a new phrase as hubby is neither a sports nut or a fan of the great state of NY. :)

Can you feel the heat?

Yowza...yesterday was hot and today is supposed to be as hot, if not hotter. I know: it is a dry heat. No humidty. Blah Blah Blah. But you know, once you get to 102 degrees it is H*O*T, with or without the dry factor.

And yes, we have central air but again, it can only accomplish so much when the bright sun is beating down on the back of the house.

We tried to go to the pool yesterday but many other neighbors had the same idea and the boys decided after just about an hour that it was "too hot" to swim. We spent the rest of the day down here in the basement. And really, it is a great spot to hang out as we've got just about all the gadgets and toys you'd want down here.

So, once Thing Two and I get back from his end of season picnic, I'm looking forward to a long snooze on the couch. And after the nap, I might even be inspired to craft a bit. I've been a busy card maker these days. I'm just about ready to switch gears and work on some scrapbook stuff.

Here's a little sample of my attempts to combine card making with my love of scrapbooking. I"m mighty proud of myself for finally realizing I can put the two together and come up with a very personalized way to tell someone Thanks...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Secret ingredient

The Things love to snuggle and cuddle with me on the couch. It always makes me happy when they call out "Mom, can you come sit with us on the couch". Now of course, that pleasant happy feeling lasts all of 3 nanoseconds as they bicker between themselves, trying to decide who gets to snuggle up right next to mom. But, it usually all works out and everyone finds a comfie spot.

Yesterday, I was watching Oprah (sidenote: she's been running reruns of her Debt Diet and I'm just fascinated by what a financial pickle so many families find themselves in and yet they seem oblivious to the emotional and psychological component that plays a large role in the cycle of overspending).

Thing Two sneaks up behind me and gives me a little peck on the cheek.
I reply in my nice mommy voice (trust me, I have one that isn't so nice): "That was such a nice kiss. What's your secret?"

Ever so wise, at almost 7, he says "Mom, it isn't a secret. I just ate a Dove Bar and there was chocolate on my lips. That is what makes it such a good kiss".

Ah Man...I'm so in trouble once he discovers there are other girls out there besides his momma...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Password please...

Thing One was standing in the doorway when we came back from the bank. Blocking our way. He said to Thing Two: "Password please". And Thing Two replies rather quickly "Move it or lose it!"

I couldn't help but giggle and guessing from Thing One's response, he found it funny to, as he stepped aside and let the little bully pass on through.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Lost and FOUND...

I'd recently misplaced something. It was a rather trivial item. So minor, that I won't even tell you what it was because it is embarrassing to think how much time I spent searching for it.

But, while I looked high and low, under, over, inside and behind...I managed to clean up a few often forgotten areas of the house. So, not only was this a valuable lesson for me to slow down, be more careful of where I leave my stuff, it was also a productive time spent trying to track this silly item down.

Imagine my surprise and joy when I found this silly little item in the lost and found section of our local library! I'm thinking that in my pre-vacation hurry, it got mixed in with my stack of returned library books. And some kind soul was nice enough to put it in the lost and found bin.

And the biggest surprise was that all the contents inside were still there!

Ok, I"ll fess was my coupon organizer. Before you go and do the "she lost her WHAT and spent how much time looking for it?". I should admit to my other blunder associated with this lost item. I'd stuck several gift cards (brand new, full value) inside of it so that the next time I went to the store, I'd have them handy and with me. So, it wasn't just a binder I was looking for...but something with a significant amount of "same as cash" stuff. So, now I have a clean house and a greatful heart. Life is good indeed...

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Other Boleyn Girl

Between birthdays, vacation, hanging by the pool and drooling over the new Stampin UP! catalog, it has been a real struggle to carve out time to read. But, since I so enjoy reading, I've worked hard to make it happen. My latest accomplishment has been to finish reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.

Another historical novel, this story focuses on the Boleyn family and their rise to power during King Henry the VIII reign. She focuses in on the two Boleyn girls and their competition for the greatest prize...the attention of the a king.

I found the story rich in detail and the characters were nicely developed. The story itself dragged at times. I'm not sure if that is so much the fault of the author or the fact that her story required it in order to be somewhat accurate to the time she was writing about. It may also have been that I had refreshed my memory with the history of the time by sneaking a peek at a Wikipedia entry for this time in history and knew what the sequence of events was andI was thus antsy for the story to move along a bit faster. Lordy, what did we do before Wikipedia? It is like the cliff notes for all things we should have learned in high school but either forgot or weren't paying attention to.

Regardless, I found the book to be a worthy read if you appreciate historical fiction and enjoy this time in history. It is a long book, and has taken me pretty much the entire three weeks alllotted by the library to finish it.

I found it interesting that politics haven't really changed all that much over time: you scratch my back, and I'll find a spot for you in my administration. Ok, so back then they weren't back scratcing (wink wink) but favors were exchanged back and forth. It doesn't matter which side of the political coin you prefer, there will always be some secret handshaking going on behind closed doors. Some things just never change, eh?

Ah, but I'll get off my soapbox and back to making my wish list for stamp stuff that I simply MUST have. Oh my, I can indeed switch gears quickly can't I?

Days of Childhood

Let me play in the sunshine
Let me sing for joy
Let me grow in the light
Let me splash in the rain
And Remember the days of childhood

A reason to get dressed?

The summer dress code here in the House of Chang is pretty casual. On many mornings, I've not gotten dressed until I've had somewhere to go. Both boys find sitting around in nothing but their underwear to be a great we just let them do that. They feel like they are getting away with something and it doesn't cost me a dime to reward them with that special treat.

Thing Two recently figured out one problem with being in his underwear and nothing else. He was playing with some toy and wanted to put it in his pocket. He announced "Oh, I need pockets, better go find me some clothes" and off he went to get dressed. I had to chuckle as once again he thinks out loud and it just cracks me up when he does.

Thing One, on the other hand, would rather do without pockets than have to get dressed and such was the case on his birthday. He spent most of his day wearing nothing but his white briefs.

That really isn't so unusual as he will often ask "are any girls coming over today?" and if they answer is no, he hollers out "YAHOO, I can stay in my underwear!". (one house rule is that all boys must be clothed properly if ladies, other than Mom are in the house). This of course means that my selection of photos to share with ya'll from his birthday are few: as he looks like he is in his birthday suit in most of the indoor shots. Probably best that I not post those shots for the look rather odd.

He had a great day celebrating his 9th birthday and I"m glad that we went with the simple approach to celebrating. We had a couple friends over, played a few games, ate lunch, cake and presents and called it a day. Much easier on me and I really think he enjoyed it more than the bigger bashes we've had in the past.

The highlight for all the boys had to be playing with water. Between an attempt at water-gun soccer (which worked except the younger kids just couldn't help themselves in kicking the ball instead of letting the water do the work. This naturally angered the older boys) and a water balloon fight where even I found myself getting was all a grand time.

So, now I can kick back and least until next month when we do it all again for Thing Two!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday America...

Today marks the start of the Birthday Season here at the House of Chang. First up, we salute America as she celebrates her 230th birthday. Following in a close second place will be Thing One, then Grandpa (but he'll be celebrating in Norway this year) then me and we finish up in about 6 weeks with Thing Two! Toss in the birthdays of a couple good friends and well, there is going to be a whole lot of cake consumed around these parts in the coming weeks!

I remember exactly where I was 9 years ago today. Hubby and I had just moved into our house over on Ireland Street and after a couple days of hard work, we decided to seek refuge from the heat by going to the movie theatre. Yes: right there you have two signs of our stupidity: we bought a house without central air here in Colorado and I was well...not up to my usual productivity so to speak.

My dad was with us (having come out to help us move into our new house). We tried to go see Men In Black but within the first few minutes of the movie starting, I knew it wasn't going to happen. Those contractions were coming pretty regular at about 3 minutes apart.

I still chuckle when I remember our exit out of the theatre. Hubby looking pretty anxious,me in that 40th week of gestational haze: anxious about delivery, tired of being pregnant, and bringing up the rear is my dad. He spots the theatre manager and announces proudly "we're gonna have a baby!" and then he pauses just long enough to say "can we get them some rainchecks so they can come back and see the movie some other day?".

Yeah, and folks wonder where I get my frugal ways from! Ha, I shouldn't be the only one in the family whose tombstone will read "they had a coupon!"

And yes, for the record, we did make it back to see the movie AND I remembered to put the ticket stubs in the scrapbook!

Monday, July 03, 2006

It is good to be home...

This past vacation really snuck up on me. And once we were there, the week just flew by very quickly. So fast, that I wasn't really ready to come home. But alas, we had no choice and down the mountain we came.

Going into the trip, I was a bit worried or perhaps just curious to see how the Things would do on this trip. They've been rather spoiled in the travel department: having been to such cool and fun places as Disney (World and Land), LegoLand, Niagara Falls and even NYC. Toss in the trips to see family in MI, WI, FL and the Bay Area of CA and you can see where I wondered would they be impressed that this year we were only driving a couple hours and spending the week in the mountains?

As is often the case, they surprised me with their excitement and enthusiasm for the trip. Granted, a large part of their happiness stemmed from their pals being with us for most of the week. It was like on extended playdate WITH a sleepover that lasted 4 days.

But, they also seemed to be taking their time enjoying the beauty that makes our state so special.

I watched with awe as they excitedly floated an empty water bottle down a little stream, calling a small little trickle of water over rocks a "water fall".

I smiled as they realized that white mound of stuff was actually snow and that they could play in it just like they do in the winter time.

And I was grateful when they allowed me time to pause and smell (ok, photograph!) the flowers. It gave me great hope that we can continue with such vacations where the focus isn't so much as doing things/going places but instead just slowing down and appreciating that simpler things in the goregeous mountains and precious flowers that bloom right in our backyard so to speak.

So, until our next trip, I share these final images with you of our Vacation 2006..with hopes of exploring more of Colorado in the years to come...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Camp Stamp-a-lot..

Ok, so maybe A LOT is an exaggeration, but while up in the mountains, I did manage to make 9 cards! My goal was 8, so I'm pleased with myself for exceeding my goal, even if by just one. Ah gee, if I could be so committed to exercise goals as my crafting goals, I'd be in great shape. But oh well: one can't be perfect at everything, right? Even us Marthas have a few weak areas!

The entire vacation really snuck up on me and so at the last minute I was grabbing my stamp stuff and once I sat down to make some cards, I realized I'd forgotten a couple "would have been nice" items. Oh well: you make do the best you can. And it was an important reminder for me that whenever I plan to craft away from my craft room, I need to take time to plan out what I want to work on.

So, for your viewing enjoyment, here's a sample of my creations.