Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our Easter

We may have confused the Easter Bunny (along with the tooth fairy) by moving to California. They don't seem to have gotten our forwarding address.

But, we did have an egg coloring kit in the house and just before sunset, this past Easter, Cam broke it out and set it up for Sam and Timila.

I was making spinach artichoke dip and boiling eggs.

The in-
structions called for plastic bags to be used to keep the coloring from getting on their hands but the kids found that that technique also made it difficult to get the coloring to stay on the eggs. In the end, they just used their hands.

We hid eggs from Sam once before it got dark. As the sun dis-
appeared, he reminded us that half of the fun is hiding the eggs and watching other people look for them. It was getting late and we'd already eaten several of the eggs.

Cam suggested that the next time we celebrate, perhaps for his birthday in late April, we'd find something for Sam to hide.

How was your Easter? Go to this Flickr set for more photos of ours.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Return to Salt Point.

For the first part of the the Academy of Art's spring break, Cam considered going off camping alone some-
where like Wildcat Camp or Salt Point but the weather didn't cooperate. He decided to sleep at home and take some day excursions but by the end of his break, he was ready to go.

The weather looked a little cool but much better. On our way to Salt Point, we decided to consider camping by the ocean again if the wind wasn't too bad. We got there, found a lovely campsite, set up and headed out exploring.

We climbed down among the rocks and communed with the sea. We climbed up and down and over the rocks to see what we could see. We sometimes wore hats or hoods but weathered the wind, mostly.

That afternoon, when we returned to our campsite, the light was waning and the wind was picking up. It was chilly. Sam and I ended up reading in the tents, which were quite comfortable - except that they were each on a bit of an incline. We've learned the hard way that sleeping on a slant is no fun.

So when Cam said he felt he'd already gotten his money's worth and was happy to pack up and head for home, Sam and I agreed.

We enjoyed the warmth of the campfire then both crashed on the drive home. Cam did all the planning and preparation. He got us there. He got us back and kept us singing along the way with the road trip CDs he complied of some of our favorite songs.

Our lives are much more full and enjoyable because of Cam's presence in them. Go to this Flickr set for more photos of our return to Salt Point.

Sam's Arrows - Rodeo Beach

Earlier this month, I spent a big chunk of my Sunday, trying to build a relationship with the seven-year-old little boy I'm the CASA for.

We had fun when I realized he liked Mustang 360s and the very nice man at the car dealership let him sit in one and honk the horn. I let him run the windshield wipers on my car and we went through the automatic car wash which we both found fascinating.

But, at one point, he also hid from me. He asked questions such as, "Why are you looking at me like that?" And towards the end of our visit, he acknowledged that every-other week was more than he wanted to see me.

When I got home I was feeling a bit discouraged. Cam came up with a wonderful remedy. Rodeo beach.

I enjoyed de-
pressing on a blanket while Cam and Sam played catch. Sam brought his bow and arrows to the beach. (Thanks Charlie). Cam made art by stacking rocks. Sam and I had a sand fight. (Throwing the sand near one another w/o being hit by any rocks was fun.)

But snuggling is always the best part.

Check out this Flickr set for more photos of our afternoon at Rodeo Beach.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

She loves her grandson.

My mom came for a visit last week. My dad had plans to be off doing some consulting. She considered going along with him but said it was going to cost about $1000 so, she decided to come see us instead.

Cam picked her up at the airport to help carry a giant snowboard she'd won and brought to give to Sam.

I was working during much of her visit but she rode the ferry to the city with me one day to experience my commute and see my office. Then we had lunch together by the bay.

That night, she and Sam had some hang out time while Cam and I had a date in the city.

We sang songs from Across the Universe, showed her some Eddie Izzard sketches and watched most of the first Lord of the Rings, which she thought she hadn't ever seen.

She and Sam played Khet and Talisman. Here she is with a "meanie card" about to turn him into a Toad.

We picked out some new plants to fill a few empty pots and patches. The patio looks even better now.

Thanks for caring so much and for coming to spend time with us, Mom. We love you.

Check out this Flickr set for more photos of Sam and Granny.

Hanging around with Sam.

The other day, after a delicious brunch with Cam and his friend Heather, Sam and I opted to do our own thing while Cam showed her and one of her friends around the city.

We took our time and enjoyed the beautiful day while walking home.

Then, we spent some time trying out different paper airplane designs.

Later, I wanted to get back outside and I wanted French Fries. I took Sam out for a late lunch and then we went to the game store in San Rafael. There, he purchased a game he had looked at awhile ago.

He wanted to go home and play Khet. I wanted to go to the top of Mt. Tam and read Lord of the Rings. (We are almost through the second book of the trilogy.) In the end, we both got what we wanted.

Another day, he realized he could climb the doorway.

Click here for a Flickr set of more hanging around w/ Sam.

I think you might have made a difference.

Barack Obama's campaign asked supporters to bring in new voters and encourage voters who have gotten fed up to get involved again.

I made 25 calls to unaffiliated voters in Pennsylvania. It took less than an hour and was relatively painless.

Sam kept me company and afterwards said, "I think you might have made a difference." I guess that's something.

Els called it.

I can't find the email where she said it but I remember Cam's mom, Els writing that we should check out Pieta Brown. Els is so perceptive. In the short amount of time we've been able to spend together, she has noticed things we like and been able to suggest other things we might like as well. It may have been because we listened to some Lucinda Williams together. Anyway, Els heard Pieta and knew we'd like her.

I'd actually seen Pieta Brown play a couple of times in Iowa, once at the amphitheater on the banks of the Des Moines River and another time at the historic Val Air Ballroom, if I remember correctly. Both of those times, she was part of a large group of musicians and I didn't get a chance to really hear and appreciate her music.

But last week, when she opened for Shawn Mullins at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, I found her music to be rich, beautiful and lovely. I was impressed with her kindness too. I bought her newest release, Remember the Sun, on itunes the following day and have been listening to it quite a bit since.

Ordinary folks would've just seen birds in a field.

The daughter of two preachers' kids, Brown spent her childhood in Iowa and Alabama amidst a broken but very musical family. In her bare-bones bohemian upbringing in Iowa, there was no electricity or running water. There, Pieta was exposed to traditional and rural folk music through her father, two-time Grammy nominee Greg Brown. Later, while spending time in Birmingham, AL with her full-time working mother, Pieta drew on all these influences and began writing poetry.
Shawn played powerfully. During his shows, he often pays tribute to other songwriters he respects. This time, he played Where's Johnny by James McMurtry. At another showed, he played McMurtry's We can't make it here anymore. I already owned Childish Things but now own both songs and enjoy listening to and singing along with them.

I appreciate Cam and Sam coming to the city on a weeknight to share the experience with me. Sam almost fell asleep, snuggling with me during Pieta's set, so we had him run around a bit between shows. He sang, clapped and stayed awake for both of Shawn's standing ovations.

Happily, Cam dug it too.

While we waited for the venue to open, we were grateful for the little haven provided by Sergeant John Macaulay Park. Check out this
Flickr set for more playground photos.

And as Pieta says,
Remember the sun.
Remember the sun.
Remember the sun.
remember the sun.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wage Peace

I have the utmost respect and appreciation for those who have volunteered to serve and protect our country. (My cousin, Chad is in the Navy, stationed in Kuwait right now).

However, I'm in support of peace, diplomacy and non-violent solutions whenever possible. I don't understand how fighting is supposed to end conflict. (Photo credit)

Outside my office, this past Wednesday, a peace rally was forming. I took some photos from the window then decided to go out and get a closer look.

I shot a couple of video clips of the peaceful parade as they marched by.

The police seemed to be escorting them down the street, almost as if they had a permit. I thought maybe they did but don't know.

I love being in the marching band and might have joined them but I had promised to try to do good in another way that day. (photo credit)

I heard them chant, "No blood for oil. No more death on Iraqi soil." (photo credit)

All we are saying is give peace a chance. (photo credit)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

He helped me find my way back home.

Tonight, Cam, Sam and I are going to see one of my favorite musicians perform. Shawn Mullins is playing a show, open to people ages six and up, at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

Shawn's music is very meaningful to me. I have sung his songs as Lullabies to Sam.
Everything is gonna be alright, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye. Everything is gonna be alright, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.

I am emotion. I am blue. Love is an ocean. I'm anchored in you. Love is an ocean... And I am a dreamer. So you sent me away. Sometimes we dreamers just get in the way. But I've always known, since I was a child that the road is my home and my spirit is wild. And I have my memories and I've got lots of time and I'm stoned in San Francisco with you on my mind. I said I'm stoned in Sam Francisco. I am emotion. I am blue. Love is an ocean. I'm anchored in you. Love is an ocean...

And quintessentially:
Sharing with us what he knows, his shining eyes are big and brown and all around him water flows. The world to him is new. The world to him is new. To touch a face. To kiss a smile. New eyes see no race. The essence of a child. The essence. He's born to shimmer. He's born to shine. He's born to radiate. He's born to live. He's born to love. He's born to never hate.

Shawn's words offer reassurance and assurance that we dreamers aren't alone and aren't the only ones who love with our whole heart. He sings of the beauty of nature, of peace, love and acceptance. Many, many themes that resonate with me.

As I've written about before, I have felt drawn to live in this part of the world. Since I was a little girl, the flower girl in my Aunt Maria and Uncle Jeff's wedding, I knew I belonged here. But the road was so long. Shawn helped me find my way back home.

I first saw him perform live at an Honor the Earth benefit in Lawrence, Kansas, in February or March of 2000, while visiting my friends, Janice and Bobby. At the time, I was trying to figure out how to survive in a job that was making me miserable.

I was over-
whelmed, trying to make it as the single mother of a three-
year-old, on my own in, St. Louis. I was terrified because I was unable to meet the demands and expectations of my employer, which allowed me to care for us financially and still be able to do what I felt I needed to do to care for myself and my son physically and emotionally. And the work was meaningless to me.

Shawn sang a song called, Something to Believe in. I know you've got something to believe in, down deep inside your desperate soul. Hey friend, don't you stop believing in dreams that you had when you were just a lad.

After the show, I bought Beneath the Velvet Sun and his earlier smash hit, Soul's Core. Throughout the coming weeks and days, when I needed support, encouragement, reassurance and understanding, I could always get it from Shawn.

That April 1st, I quit the job that was making me miserable, paid that month's rent, packed the car and took off for California, with my son, in search of the dream I had when I was just a lad.

It turned out the country was entering a recession I hadn't been paying attention to. I didn't find a job in California then but Sam and I had a remarkable journey. It was a time I will always remember. I intend to write about soon.

Later, while working as the director of marketing for a national consumer advertising campaign in Des Moines, Iowa. I was still miserable. I actually really liked my role at work and with the support of my parents, wasn't struggling so much to care for myself and Sam. But I started to feel that the work I was doing wasn't directly helping the people I had gone to work for, the little guy, struggling to get by. I also started to feel bad about things I learned our industry was doing to the earth and its creatures. Finally, I didn't feel welcome or accepted in my very conservative organization. I actually started to feel attacked for speaking out against what I felt were unfair constraints.

I knew I wanted to do something else but wasn't quite sure what or how to make it happen. I knew I loved music and had often thought that I'd enjoy helping connect musicians who have a beautiful message with people who need to hear that message. To that end, I bought a pass to attend the South by Southwest music industry conference in Austin.

My favorite part of the festival was something I hadn't know about before going. Shawn Mullins was there with a band called The Thorns. I went to the show with some family and friends and afterwards, wanted to thank Shawn for all that his words had done for me. I ended up awkwardly telling him how I'd quit a job after seeing one of his shows. This seemed to surprise him and leave him feeling more concerned than glad.

Fast forward a few years. In 2006, I'm living and working in Chicago with Cameron and Sam. I have stopped working in advertising and am actively pursuing more meaningful work. My friend, Melissa and I went to see Shawn's show. After this show, I wanted to make sure he knew I was ok. I thanked him for helping people. I said he helped people who wanted to help people. He said, great or something like that.

I haven't done a good job of speaking directly to someone I admire so much so I thought I'd try writing this blog entry. I want Shawn to know that I have found love and happiness and am living my childhood dream, surrounded by mountains and forests and the ocean. I want him to know that I've found work as a child advocate.

On Honeydew, his 2008 release, he sings of people like me and like the kids I try to serve.
She always sang with her whole heart... He was ragged. He was rolling like a stone. In the dirty, city streets that he called home...

Shawn says:
I know I'm lucky to sing my songs. And if you want to, you can sing along.

I want to thank him for all he's done to:
Help me find my way back home.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

We skied.

Cam already wrote about our ski trip. So did Sam. But I wanted to blog about it too.

A couple of weeks ago, we woke up before 4am to drive to Oakland to catch a bus that would take us to Lake Tahoe to ski. The seats on the bus recline and you are supposed to be able to sleep on the bus but I like the early morning time and had a lot of adrenaline pumping. I just chilled out, listening to music and watching the sunrise. They fed us a spot of breakfast and then we were there.

The really nice guy who helped me shove snow boots onto my feet said I wanted them to be tight but they hurt my feet as I hobbled around. While skiing, I was distracted enough that my feet didn't bother me but when Cam helped me pull them off at the end of the day, I felt like my feet had been bound. They were so asleep, I couldn't move them for a few minutes. Next time, I'll shoot for boots that are tight but don't cut off my circulation.

After a bit, I started to remember how to ski enough to enjoy going down the small hill a bunch of times. I did fall, more than once, but all-in-all, it was a good reintroduction to skiing.

Ariel had work in the area that paid enough to fund a mini-
vacation. It was great to have time with her.

She left us to our lessons and headed off to snowboard solo.

Cam had never skied before. I am proud of the way he got the hang of it so quickly and am thrilled he enjoyed it so much.

Sam wanted to try snowboarding. We signed him up for lessons and were happy that his friend, Leo was able to come along too. They kept each other entertained and laughing throughout the 19 hour day.

Go here for my Flickr set of us skiing.

We're excited to try again.