Category Archives: Games

First birthday party

Dear B,

We had your first birthday party on Sunday. We planned for it for weeks (dare I say months?). We made multiple trips to multiple stores to secure the decorations. We ordered things from different sites to supplement the store bought stuff. We did not one but two trial runs for your birthday cake. The day before the party, during both of your naps, we raced to the kitchen to bake EIGHT CAKE LAYERS (in batches of two) to ensure we had enough cake for everyone at the party (two four-layer cakes). After you went to bed, we made a vat of fruit salad, and I used three cans of frosting to put those cake layers together.

You probably had very little idea what was going on. You didn’t know who most of those people were. You won’t remember anything about the day. But trust me: it was great. It was a completely successful party. There were nigh on 40 people there, including 8 kids, 6 of whom were under the age of 5. There were your peninsula aunties and uncles, your BFF Tom, mommy’s coworkers, and of course family from both sides.

There was way too much food (of course) which neither daddy nor I really had time to eat. But don’t worry, we brought a lot of it home. (Two days later, we still have 2 gallon ziplocks of fruit salad to eat…so, get out your spoon…)

When we put your birthday cake in front of you and sang to you, everyone gathered around and you looked a little overwhelmed, and at the end of the song everyone clapped, so you clapped too, and then a wave of 40 people went “AWWWWW” and it startled you and you started crying, which made them laugh. We put a giant slice of rainbow layered cake in front of you, and it took some coaxing but you got your hands into it and you even ate some. You calmed down from crying, but we still seem to have a million pictures of you crying while clapping and cake-covered.

Daddy and I were so preoccupied during the party that we neglected to take many photos. But luckily our family members and friends are camera-happy and willing to share, so we’ll have plenty of visual memories.

You got so many presents that we don’t really know what do with all of them. We have hidden some to give to you later, when you’ve gotten used to the ones you have out now. (But your favorite things, of course, are still wiffle balls and plastic stacking cups.)

Everyone had a great time, and (of course) the party ran over the planned 2 hours. But despite me waking you from your morning nap around 10:45 so we could leave for your party, you were a total trooper, staying awake and mostly happy throughout the entire party, then the entire clean-up. On the way home, I sat in the backseat with you and tried to soothe you into falling asleep. You managed to stay awake until we got to the airport, at which time I watched you melt into sleep. You woke up 10 minutes later when we got home. Oops.

I think you had a lot of fun. I know I had a lot of fun. I’m glad so many people came. I’m glad we went all out for your first birthday. I’m glad everything went well. I’m glad it’s over and we made it through.

I’m not saying that parties or material possessions are an indicator of love. But, based purely on actual love, you are loved, little guy. Happy first birthday, and congratulations to all three of us for making it through your first year!


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Filed under Awesome, Children, Family, Food, Friends, Games, Holidays, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment

Throwback Thursday: Memoir

I pulled this gem off my old LiveJournal. I’m actually surprised (but very grateful) that I still remember the password.

This is from August 5, 2005. I’m really working hard to restrain from editing. (Oh, and as far as I can tell, the title means nothing but was probably the angstiest word in the song I was listening to at that exact moment.) Enjoy!



I have been at UC Davis for three years, and the number of things that I have exclaimed “Yes, let’s do that!” and then never done is astounding. Here is a brief list of examples:

1. Run through the maize maze (Woodland?) in the fall.
2. Gone, with any sort of regularity, to the Farmer’s Market. (And “But it’s SATURDAY MORNING” is no longer an excuse, as they have Wednesday evening FMs for which I know I am awake.)
3. Mini-golfing…Scandia…Sacramento…wherever.
4. The Davis Public Library: If I’m missin The Babysitters Club, they’re only a couple blocks away.
5. The MU Games Area.

Until tonight.

A bunch of us went to go bowling. It’s cheap, it’s accessible, it’s fun, it’s not too athletic (heaven forbid we do something cardio), and we all claimed to be bad at it. (Which was a huge lie, be careful of Drew, he will try to hustle you, but he’s bad at hustling.)

As far as I can see, bowling is bowling (*unless it’s $1.35/game and $.85/shoes*) and I thought it was all going to be very…familiar. Bowling. Ugly shoes and socks with shorts (what else could possibly be hotter?), and people watching your back, golf clapping for you whenever you turn back around but secretly chanting “gutter ball!” to themselves.

HOWEVER, UC Davis, well-known for several things, cows and a ginormous library being not the least of them, also features a “Rockin’ Bowl” to put all other “Rockin’ Bowl”s to shame.*

*Note: Writer has never actually been to any Rockin’ Bowls, nor does she know whether the term is “Rockin’ Bowl” or “Rock & Bowl,” but frankly, neither does she particularly care, and if you are still reading this, maybe you should just marry editing if you love it so much.*

So it seems to me that “Rockin’ Bowl” is made up of 4 main components. I will go through these for anyone who is unlucky enough to have never experienced the majesty.

#1. The music. Already loud when you walk in, and louder when you descend into the bowling pit, I mean area, it is turned up by a kid who can’t be older than 18 who tight-rope-walks down someone’s gutter to crank up the volume on the speakers sitting mid-lane. The number of times this exchange occurred is more than I want to remember:

*something unimportant*
*repeat something unimportant*
*repeat something unimportant, again, and louder, and also in a slightly embarrassed tone*
“Never mind, it wasn’t that funny.”

Then both parties would pretend to have heard the other, and that bit of conversation would be over.

Oh the glory.

#2. The music videos. Four large projection screens plummet from the heavens, and for the next…I don’t know how long it lasts. From then on, music videos are played on these screens. Music videos for songs whose names I only vaguely recognize. Music videos that are not nearly as clever as Britney Spears’ “Lucky” or Blues Traveler’s “Run-Around.” Music videos with angsty-looking men whose voices remind me sort of Phish, except I’m not thinking of these men as fondly as I think of Phish.

If I wanted to watch music videos, I would have been sitting at home whining about not having MTV. Or I would be going to Erin’s gym to “work out” and watch TV. It would not have occurred to me to go to Rockin’ Bowl at the UCDMU Games Area.

#3. The lights. Strobe and disco, namely. As soon as the fluorescents dimmed and the colored lights began to spin and I began to think about maybe getting a headache, I was also transferred immediately back in time to high school dances. (Probably more middle school, honestly, because in high school I went to 1 dance that was not a prom or formal (neither of which seemed to feature strobe lights to the degree of your everyday school dance), and I left that 1 dance pretty early.) So, middle school dances. So why was my impulse, on the strobe lights, to make out with someone? I was definitely not doing that in middle school.

Hold up, I wasn’t doing that in high school, either.

#4 and finally. The fog. I didn’t notice it for awhile (or maybe it didn’t get going until a little bit after the lights, etc., made their appearance on the scene), but once I did, I was transported to the backstage area of the Mondavi Center, kneeling on the ground, with my head in the Coke machine, filling it with fog so that the guy who played Eddie could trip over me to get in it before all the fog drifted out and we missed his entrance.

It’s funny that I “hated” Rocky Horror so much while it was going on, but now I can totally look back fondly and think “Awwww. Backstage at Mondavi, dressed up with Katie and Tyler and Eric. How cute. And foggy.”

So while, for a minute or two, I was thinking to myself, “Man, I suck at bowling…good thing I’m good at mini-golf,” I spent some time post-our-game checking out the other people playing, and I realized that most people are not that good. Except for this one girl who got three strikes in a row, I saw on her screen. There was a little cartoon of bowling-pin Caesar in a chariot. But I digress. I don’t think that the UC Davis Memorial Union Games Area is the place to be super-concerned about your bowling skillz. (I am, frankly, more worried about my inability to write “skills” instead of “skillz.”)

So all in all, I guess I learned a good lesson tonight.

And that lesson is, remember to bring socks so I don’t have to wear socks that I find in the backseat of the car, socks that dump sand everywhere when I turn them right-side-out.

Oh, and I also learned not to stress about my bowling abilities.

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Filed under Awesome, Beginnings, Being a girl, Drew, Friends, Games, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment

Back in my day

In high school, I sucked at sports but my friends didn’t. So in order to hang out with them, I kept stats for the softball and girls’ basketball teams. Kind of dorky, but it was fun, and I was good at it, and I have a lot of good memories of away games (and home games too, for that matter).

But things would be very different if I were doing this in 2013. For example, two vanfuls of girls used to drive back from an away game in Ukiah or Willits or Fort Bragg or Colusa or wherever. When we got back to the high school parking lot, the one coach (a father of one of the girls) who had a portable phone would unpack this briefcase so we could all call our parents to come get us. The reception was terrible (likely the fault of the isolated county, and not the briefcase phone).



Oh, the good old days.

An even better example – but one that it’s possible I’m slightly misremembering – is the time we were headed up to Hoopa for a big annual softball tournament. (I think it was softball.)


This was a very exciting event for us, not least because it was so far away, and we would have to spend the night, and we could probably also fit in a trip to the big mall in Eureka. (No mall in our hometown!)

(I loved the Bayshore Mall growing up, but now Yelp gives it 2.5 stars and calls it a “small town mall.” Ouch.)

The way I remember it, we drove all night long, but now that I’m looking at the the driving time and everything…we probably just left early in the morning. I was in a car with our chemistry/physics teacher, beloved by everyone, his wife, and his daughter, who was on the team. Side note: I love everyone in their family. They were and still are awesome all around.

I remember sitting in the backseat in a pile of blanket and pillows, and driving through the dark. Marilyn was asleep in the far backseat. (Like I said, it was like 2am…right?) There was some weird station on the radio and they were playing Dr. Demento and some other similar song, and the only part of it I remember is an increasingly insane “Poppies poppies poppies poppies!”

When the internet first became the thing that it is today, I searched for that song a little bit, but now I think I prefer not to ever find it and know what it is.

It was pouring rain and I guess it eventually got light outside but I don’t really remember that part. I do remember arriving in Hoopa to find out that the fields had been completely flooded and the tournament was canceled.

I guess there was just someone hanging out at the school, telling everyone that it was canceled. And probably, they made some phone calls in the morning when they had to cancel the tourney. But if the only number they had was the school, and no one was at the school…and none of us had cell phones that the calls could have been relayed to anyway. So we made the entire probably 5-hour drive for no reason.

Well…not NO reason. We did go to the mall and go shopping and get lunch or whatever.

And then…we drove back home. I guess.

We were in Lakeport this weekend and so I’m being sweetly sentimental about a lot of late-90s/early-2000s things. But, I’m also very happy to have internet and a smartphone and all the improvements technology has brought into our lives. I’ll even take the complications.

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Filed under Beginnings, Being a girl, cars, Friends, Games, Humor, Memoir, Sentiment, Technology, Travel

Do not pass Go

Last night, Travis, Haley, and Erin came over for dinner, and what inevitably turned into games. We played Pixar Monopoly because Drew loves Monopoly and no one ever wants to play.

I think Monopoly gets a bad rap – my initial impression of it is that the game goes on forever. (Other first impressions – Risk: people lie and get mad at each other. Clue: it’s way too easy for adults to play. Dominoes: despite playing this game all the time as a kid, I have no idea what the actual rules are.) I’ve played Monopoly with Drew one other time and he’s weirdly good at it.

pixar monopolyI tried to start strong, but I made an entire pass around the board without landing on any property to buy. On subsequent passes, I tried to collect property and save money. I got into a bidding war with Erin on Travis’ property, in the hopes that it might make her run out of money. There was a moment when Erin, Haley, and I formed an alliance to get each of us a monopoly, and I really thought that might be a turning point in the game.

But alas, I was the first one to run out of money and then property, while Drew just built traffic cones (houses) and Al’s Toy Barns (hotels) on everything ever. Erin was out next, then Travis folded, and then there were a couple more turns that were basically Haley handing over everything she owned to Drew. And, for the record, the game didn’t feel that long – when we checked the clock we were all surprised that it had lasted around 2 1/2 hours.

I guess I’m not surprised I was the first one out. I’ve never been that great at Monopoly. I keep thinking I should be better at it. I get the strategy. I just don’t execute it well. Or I don’t have good luck. But as I watched my money go – the 500s, the 100s, the 50s, the 20s – it just stung a little bit, you know? It’s just a game, except that in Real Life I also don’t own any property or have a ton of money. And just in like in the game, it’s difficult to tell where I went wrong.

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Filed under "Other people", Dollars, Drew, Friends, Games, Humor, Memoir, Not awesome

Is it already almost November AGAIN?

It’s October 11, which means we’re into the middle of October, which means it’s almost November, and November, as you know, is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Dangit. It just kind of snuck up on me this year. If I’m going to even attempt to do it again this year, now’s the time to think about it, so that we don’t get to November 1st and I just panic and start writing and then end up with 12 pages of third-person narration where the main character is obviously just a thinly-veiled version of myself.

I want to put some thought into it, and come up with a storyline ahead of time. Even though all of the Nanowrimo propaganda is about how fun it is when you hit a wall and you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and then your characters do something crazy that you weren’t expecting, I don’t work well like that. (See above, re: 12 pages, thinly-veiled version of myself.) I need to have a storyline to follow, and some idea of where things are going. The details that crop up on my way to the already-envisioned end can surprise me. And the ending can surprise me too, ultimately. But I have to at least think I know where it’s going.

I’ve been getting the year-round emails from the crew at the Office of Letters and Lights (they are in charge of Nanowrimo, as much as you can be in charge of a concept), and I haven’t unsubscribed from them, although I have to admit I haven’t opened and read them either. I guess I’m just walking a middle line, refusing to commit to either participating this year, or to making a decision to not participate. (I have 20 more days to decide before November 1st – technically I could still join in after that, but I’ve never been successful at starting late.)

I would love to make this work this year, especially since I’m not going to work and so you would think that I would have more time at home to write. We’ll see how this unfolds. If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave in the comments. In the meantime, a Google “I feel lucky” search for “plot generator” suggests this: “The story starts when your protagonist buys a new car. Another character is a gypsy who put a curse on your protagonist.” I don’t know…

Ooh, but refreshing the plot generator gives me this: “The story starts when your protagonist shoplifts. Another character is a thief who is the most attractive person your protagonist has ever met.” I kind of like that.

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Filed under Awesome, Beginnings, Books, Fiction, Games, Writing

Passing the torch

The Olympics are over.

If you think you heard a note of glee in my tone, well sir, you are mistaken. I like the Olympics.

But, here’s the thing: Drew LOVES the Olympics. And he’s not alone. The world loves the Olympics. But he like REALLY LOVES the Olympics.

Here’s what I think he loves about them: The success stories. The failure stories. The statistics. The human interest angles. The world coming together in a show of friendly (for the most part) competition. People working incredibly hard for years, to accomplish something (that sometimes takes 5 seconds.) People overcoming obstacles. People tripping on obstacles.

Whatever it is that he loves, we have watched a lot of Olympics over the last two weeks. And I’ve been gone a lot, so I can only imagine how much he’s seen.

When I’ve been home, I’ve been experiencing this thing at a level that I never have before – how has rhythmic gymnastics totally escaped my awareness before this?? (Drew may LOVE the Olympics, but those girls LOVE their apparati.) I have really enjoyed getting to know new 2012 Olympics USA celebs – from gymnast Gabby Douglas to coxswain Mary Whipple to diver David Boudia to renowned DJ Fatboy Slim.

(No, but seriously, did Fatboy Slim feel kinda out place at the closing ceremonies?)

But now the Olympics are over, and I’m secretly (or not so secretly) a little relieved that life can regain its normal rhythm. And by “life” and “normal rhythm,” I mean I miss our summer tradition of watching Big Brother (we now have 6 episodes to try to catch up on – not an easy task when they are hour-long episodes) and I miss reading Harry Potter at night.

But don’t worry – less than 2 years until the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia!

(Also, doesn’t Sochi have such a better logo than the London Olympics?)

(Also, Rio has a nice logo.)

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Filed under Drew, Endings, Games, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sports, TV

Baby shower!

This week (and next week) is crazytown at work. I have given myself over to it, and just accepted that it’s going to mean full days at work, followed by evenings at the theater, but I just had to get that out there. It’s a lot, and I’m looking forward to a little peace and quiet after everything’s over. (Yeah, right.)

Last weekend I went home-home, and had my first baby shower. It was bigger than I expected (I guess I didn’t pay attention to the guest list), and I had a great time! It was lots of women who have (pardon the cliche) watched me grow up, so that’s always fun. My aunt and uncle came up from Napa, and Drew’s mom and her BFF drove up, and I hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

I mean, it’s either one or the other!

We’ve been splitting our time between this (sock) monkey theme and this jungle animals theme. Settling on one theme was never my strong point.

Christy made a diaper cake! Cute AND functional!

Me and Mom!

Me and long-time friends!

With Suzanne and Bonnie – love you guys!

Our travel system, compliments of my parents!

We are incredibly lucky and very blessed to be surrounded by such great, supportive, generous and loving people. The excitement and the joy has been very encouraging. I am grateful that I haven’t had to deal with people saying inconsiderate or negative things. Literally everyone has been positive and respectful.

When I got regular-home from being home-home, I had a carload full of stuff to unload (more boxes of books from my parents among them), and Drew’s mom had brought back a lot of presents that wouldn’t fit in my car. I reworked the nursery (see, I can call it that now, and not just keep calling it the library) and tried to get rid of boxes and bags, and group things into blankets, feeding, bathtime, etc.

We pushed the stroller/carseat in there, and after a moment Drew said, “Wow. I thought we had this room under control.” It’s a bit of a jumble right now, but I’m hoping we can alleviate that over the next month or so. It’s amazing how much stuff we have amassed – and I thought we were being conservative!

We haven’t taken the plastic off the crib mattress yet, or washed the sheets and made the crib up, but it’s still a good place to store certain things…


Filed under Awesome, Beginnings, Children, Family, Food, Friends, Games, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Parents, Pregnancy, Sentiment

2012 Olympics

Last night we had an Olympic opening ceremonies party. Drew is absolutely crazy for the Olympics.

He made name tags for everyone, with a fun fact about each country.

I got to choose mine first, before anyone else arrived, so we went with one country that came from another country. Subtle, but effective.

As with the last party we had, back in May, between what we made and what people brought, we had way too much food. And there’s only enough furniture for half the people to be sitting at a time. But the opening ceremonies had all the expected moments of “wow” and also “wtf,” and we had a good time.

Now for two weeks for Olympics games – and then a year and a half until the winter Olympics and our next opening ceremonies party!

(Thanks to Erin for the pictures in this post!)


Filed under Awesome, Drew, Food, Friends, Games, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Sports, TV

Dads: The New Suffragettes

Just to perseverate on my post about the imbalance between recognizing moms and dads for their contributions…

Commercials are a terrible perpetrators of this phenomenon. How many commercials feature a dad and a small child making some kind of mess, and then looking sheepish until the mom comes in, smiling, and cleans everything up? Or the commercial where the dad builds a slanted table and the mom has to save the day with Eggo cinnamon toast waffle sticks? In commercials, dads look like helpless slobs who can’t get their kid through the day to save their life, and the moms sweep in and fix everything in a second.

P&G is currently running a series of ads focused on the Olympics. You’ve probably seen them. There are three or four, and each one features a mother getting a young child out of bed, taking him or her to some early morning practice, cheering on the child, driving the child around, doing dishes, doing laundry, feeding the child, taking care of the house, etc. (There is no sign of a day job for any of these moms.) The child grows up and then we see them at the Olympics, doing their best and sticking that landing, winning that race, etc. And then the mom is in the stands crying, and the kid hugs the mom, or blows her a kiss through the TV, and it’s so happy and sweet, and the tagline at the end of the commercial is “The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world. Thank you, Mom.”

Here’s the long version (it incorporates all the different moms/kids), if you want to feel really good. I’m not going to lie, I just watched it and teared up a little.

I just saw that P&G has an entire Facebook page called “Thank you, Mom by P&G,” where they post things like this video and other little tidbits that make moms cry. I mean, let’s face it, some large percentage of Facebook is probably moms, and moms love stuff like this. Even just moms-to-be. Even people who just like kids. Or seeing people succeed.

Here, try this one if the first commercial didn’t push you over the edge.

Who am I kidding? Everyone loves stuff like this. Drew just eats this ish up, and he’s the kind of guy who will willingly watch videos of people falling down.

And I don’t have anything against these commercials, or this Facebook page, or their entire campaign. It’s smart. And it’s so sweet. They take that overwhelming Olympics feeling, like the world comes together in these feel-good games, and people work so hard for this…and they juxtapose that with the intimacy of watching someone grow up and achieve something on a personal level. So smart.

BUT. I just have to point out…where are the dads in all this?

That’s it. Just sayin’. Why can’t it be, “The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world. THANKS, MOM AND DAD.”

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Filed under "Other people", Being a girl, Children, Drew, Family, Games, Parents, Sentiment

Calendar tricks

Tonight we were at the mall, and I was like, “Hey, let’s swing by Barnes and Noble and pick up my book for book club, and also a calendar.” There is a lot of stuff happening in the rest of 2012 and we’ve been talking about needing a wall calendar to keep track of it all.

B&N had zero 2012 calendars – they’re all 2013 – but the guy at the information desk said that they’re 16 month calendars so they cover the rest of this year. (Which doesn’t really make sense since, counting June, there are 7 months left in 2012.) But we liked this Where’s Waldo calendar, and they didn’t have the book I wanted in stock, so the calendar came home with us. (Please note on the cover where it says “16 month calendar.”)

Most of the pages are great and I look forward to being able to use this calendar. I also look forward to studying every month for a long time, not finding any of the characters, then having Drew find them all in about 30 seconds.

However, I can’t use this calendar for 7 more months, because the Barnes and Noble information desk guy tricked me. Having one little add-on page like below, should NOT count as a “16 month calendar.”

For shame, Barnes and Noble! Now I have to go find somewhere that’s still selling 2012 calendars. Also, I have to not forget where I put this one, so I can use it come January.

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Filed under "Other people", Books, Children, Drew, Games, Not awesome