Category Archives: Religion

Here We Lent Again

Happy Ash Wednesday! It’s time to frantically figure out what to give up for Lent this year!

I actually started thinking about this a couple weeks ago, when I noticed at work that someone had brought in some Mardi Gras-themed pastries from a board meeting. But it’s nowhere near Mardi Gras! I thought. Then I looked at a calendar. But it’s not quite — well there’s still a little time — I mean, who even likes King Cake? Well, the colors ARE nice.

In the past I’ve given up Facebook, and arguing with Drew. Last year I gave up chocolate, and although that was an appropriately difficult thing for me to give up, I didn’t want to just repeat something from last year. So, after some hurried thought (and finishing some Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch last night), I think I’m going to give up ice cream.

What are you giving up this year? (Or, as I know some people do, are you taking on something additional during Lent?)

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Filed under Beginnings, Food, Holidays, Humor, Nonfiction, Religion

Giving thanks, 2014 style

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll be honest with you: this year has kind of sucked.

Every New Year we say “This is gonna be OUR year!” And sometimes we’re right: 2009 was a good year. As was 2012.

But 2014 was not kind to us. But the silver lining – because I always have to look for the silver lining – was that I spent much of this year being actively thankful for specific things in my life. Because I had this idea that, if I spent too much time dwelling on the negative things, God and karma and the universe would say something like, “Guess you don’t care about all this good stuff then.” And it would be taken away.

So I’ve thought a lot this year about the people in my life, the ways I’m blessed, and the things I’m grateful for. And there are plenty of them. At the top of almost every list are my husband and my son, two people I couldn’t live without. There are my parents, who are consistently supportive and loving and who make the 3-hour drive from Lakeport to Pacifica over and over and over, just to hang out with us. Drew’s parents treat me like one of their own and I have literally ZERO crazy “in-laws” stories (and I know that other women out there have some crazy in-laws). There are my friends: the real-life ones who have put up with me for years, and my online mommy friends, all of whom are invaluable. I have a job I love, with people I love. I get to live by the ocean in a neighborhood and an apartment that I really, really like. (There’s even ample street parking.)

And on top of all of that, this year I’m also thankful that 2014 is almost over. Rather than ringing in this New Year by saying “I can’t BELIEVE it’s already 2015!” I’ll be saying, “Thank God. Now, bring on a fresh start.”

Just to make sure I don’t end on a downer, here are some really specific things I’m thankful for at this exact moment: My kid is napping, and he apparently knows who Elmo is, which surprised both Drew and me this morning. I made a German chocolate pecan pie for dessert tonight and while it looks a little, um, “homemade,” the filling part tastes good. We’re actually going to finish our Disney Project this year, which was a grand undertaking, and I’m proud of that. It’s a really pretty day right now…but I hear it’s going to rain all weekend, which would be really nice.

See? Still an optimist. Happy Thanksgiving.


Filed under Baby, Children, Drew, Endings, Family, Food, Friends, Holidays, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Sentiment, Writing

Baptized B

B’s second birthday is coming up, so this baptism thing has been a long time in coming. We procrastinated for various reasons, but finally this spring we made the decision to go for it. This last weekend, my family and Drew’s family gathered at my childhood church and saved B from purgatory. (Just kidding.)

I will tell you, I had A LOT of anxiety leading up to this weekend. I worried about getting the three of us plus the godparents all the way up to Lake County in our car with all our stuff. I worried that B would freak at getting water on his head. I worried that it would be awkward. I worried that no one really wanted to be doing this. I worried that no one would have a good time.

But it turns out, everyone was into it, and we had a great time. We went up to my parents’ house on Saturday night, and Drew’s parents and my aunt and uncle (who was performing the baptism) were there already. We hung out that night, keeping B up 2 hours past his bedtime. Then everyone dispersed, and we took godparents Erin and Allen to the hotel casino where they were staying.

There, we ran into Drew’s parents, and found out that his dad had just hit it big on video keno. So that was a nice bonus.

The next morning, we picked up Erin and Allen, and headed to the church, about 20 minutes away. The service was outdoors (#summertime!) and so B spent most of the service running all around, up some stairs and around the church building, up some other stairs and around the community center, basically just going everywhere possible. But luckily we were keeping an eye on the time, so we could get him back down in the vicinity of the service by the time the baptism began.

I held him during the ceremony, and he was mostly good. He complained a little bit, but mostly drank milk and pointed at things. I remembered the Creed. He didn’t love the water on his head, but he didn’t freak out. My uncle gave him a candle (unlit), and a medallion. We recessed and sang songs. We did it!

There was cake afterwards, and Erin and I tried to wrangle all the family members into place to take pictures. We managed to take some really cute pictures, including one of my new favorite pictures:

photo (21)

Charming, buddy. Charming.

After pictures, we packed everyone up and we all went to go eat. Well, most of them went to brunch – our car, followed by Drew’s family’s cars, went in the wrong direction. I just was mistaken about where I was going. Oops!

We found the correct place, and settled in for complimentary mimosas and brunch. Although they didn’t really seem able to handle our party of 15 – it took like an hour between ordering and getting our food – the food was good, the company was lovely, and B was awesome. He even ate the food we ordered him! Crazy!

By the time we were done, it was already after 1:30, so we just stopped by my parents’ house to get all our stuff, and then we headed out of Lake County. (Well, we stopped for milkshakes at Renee’s first.) We got home that night in time for dinner and bedtime, and then Drew and I basically crashed, ignoring the pile of stuff we’d brought home.

A long weekend and we’re both ever more tired, but I’m still so happy with how everything went. It honestly went better than I could have hoped, and far better than I expected. A total win. B is so lucky to have this loving family, and two brand-new godparents! (Not pictured: my bff Kirsten, who came out from Davis, and her mom – I was so honored to have them come support us!)

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Filed under Awesome, Children, Drew, Family, Friends, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Travel

The special beans

I gave up chocolate for Lent this year. It hasn’t been too bad so far. It’s only been 9 days. Only 35 more days to go. (Or something like that.)

There’s plenty of other sweet stuff that I can find to try to fill the void. Including (but not limited to) dried pineapple, popsicles, and vanilla lattes. It’s both a blessing and a curse. (PS. It doesn’t completely fill the void. I cannot wait for post-Easter half-priced Robin Eggs.)

Every year I ponder Lent – what exactly is the reason that I’m giving something up? I have to re-justify what I’m doing, and figure out how to frame it. I have read different theories for how the tradition came about, and I think that the one that suits me best, and makes the most sense, is that I’m making a sacrifice, albeit small, to honor God’s sacrifice for me.

So even if giving up chocolate feels like a superficial thing to do, I suppose there’s a point to it. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily come out the other side of this a better person, but all introspection is good introspection, and I’ve never heard of someone regretting going 6 weeks without eating chocolate.

Now if only my coworkers would stop leaving bowls of it out on their desks all day…


Filed under Food, Holidays, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Self improvement, Writing

A 1-year-old is an unreliable wedding guest

A couple weeks ago, we took B to a wedding. A francy wedding.

(I meant fancy, but I accidentally typed francy, and I immediately fell in love with that new word I just created.)

This francy wedding took place at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco. Drew and I were a little nervous about the whole day, for the following reasons:

a. wedding of a medium-close family member who might not be forgiving of 1-year-old antics;
b. ceremony at 3pm, reception at 6pm across the city;
c. our particular 1-year-old doesn’t always behave well in francy situations;
d. also we have to dress up

As a bonus thing to worry about, our car situation meant we were taking my parents’ bug, which is stick, so I had to drive.

We left plenty of time to get ready, get everything in the car, and get to SF. We got there about 10 minutes before 3:00, which was perfect. We parked right outside the church, which was perfect. I hopped into the backseat to pull B out of his carseat…and was greeted by an absolutely remarkable smell.

We opened the trunk (do you realize how small a VW bug trunk is??) and laid him down in it, button down shirt and all, to change his diaper. It wasn’t until I had the diaper half off, and Drew was digging through the diaper bag looking for the wipes, that I remembered I had used up the last wipe and forgotten to put a new package in. There were some exclamations of dismay. I mean, we were on the side of the road, outside a francy church, dressed in our best, trying to change our squirmy child in a trunk, and we had no wipes.

Luckily we had pacifier wipes, so we survived.

We got everything put together and went inside. The church was beautiful. We sat down in the back row, on the outside aisle, ignoring the waves from Drew’s family to come up and sit with them. Through a mixture of mouthing and mime, he told them, “Our kid is going to lose it so we need to be able to slip out quickly.”

We were sitting down for about 4 minutes, and the family members were being escorted in, when B opened his mouth and let out a “Aawwwk?” And then his eyes got big and he looked around, as he realized what a great echo there was in here. I jumped up and tried to jiggle him to keep him occupied, but once he started squawking, there was no turning around. We saw the bride come in, and then I ended up taking him out to the narthex, where we walked back and forth for the entirety of the service. Sometimes we went outside.

But B was smack in the middle of wanting to walk everywhere but needing to hold hands, so I spent an hour alternating between being kind of hunched over, and tossing his 25 pounds into the air to make him laugh.

After the service, we had all this time to kill, and we thought if we drove around he might take a nap in the car seat. Well, we were wrong. So we drove all around San Francisco, went up to Twin Peaks and got gas, and got caught in the worst ever traffic on the way downtown to the financial district, where the reception was.

Despite being the most anxious about the reception, it was actually really lovely. As soon as we got to the table, one of the waitstaff came over and said, “Do you want a high chair?” and Drew and I were both like, “YOU HAVE HIGH CHAIRS??” Also, the first toast of the evening was by the bride’s father, and rather than being champagne, it was a tequila shot with cinnamon and orange. So good. B lasted for a really long time before he started melting down (like 9pm – like 2 hours after his usual bedtime) – although right at the moment when we decided it was time to get him out, they started other toasts, and then one of the bridesmaids gave like a 15-minute toast and were trapped on the side of the room opposite the door.

Anyway. B’s first wedding, and it was francy, and it was inside a Catholic church, and it was late at night. And he did great!


Blurry backwards camera!

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Filed under Awesome, Baby, Beauty, Being a girl, cars, Children, Dreams, Drew, Family, Fashion, Food, Humor, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Sentiment, Travel

I Have A Dream

August 28, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. His daring vision for the future has either come true or not come true, depending on who you are and where you live.

Fifty years is a long time (or a short time, depending on the quality of your life and your general outlook on it). A lot can happen – and has, over and over again. And it’s probably only going to get worse from here on.

If you’re older than 25, you probably have feelings about technology and how it’s hurting today’s interpersonal communication. You might worry about what we’re doing to the environment and the polar ice caps. If you’re older than 80, you might even draw unpleasant parallels between these times and the 1930s. From vaccinations to pesticides to mortgages to the apocalypse, there are things to worry about every day.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will get itself out of the recession we are in, and there will be annual raises and holiday bonuses and comfortable living for all – even those who work at a nonprofit. That 20-somethings who graduated with student debt will still have to work hard and set their sights to pay it back, but that paying it back will, in fact, be possible. That there won’t be so many stories reporting that parents can’t afford to buy diapers for their children. That people right and left won’t lose their houses. That people can actually afford houses in the first place.

I have a dream that we’ll all drive electric cars and there won’t be gas stations on every corner, and we won’t drive 15 miles out of the way to pay $.04 less per gallon (which doesn’t really make sense, you guys). That smog will go away, and there won’t be videos of polar bears swimming around in the Arctic Ocean because all the ice caps are melting. We’ll somehow clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and we won’t ever let anything that crazy happen again. There won’t be any more Dawn commercials of cleaning oil off of baby ducks, because that will just be a sad thing that used to happen, but don’t worry, we put a stop to that.

I have a dream that even as technology marches on and everyone gets more attached to their devices (yes, I’m guilty too), we won’t forget to sometimes stop and put down our phones and look each other in the eyes and have an actual conversation. And we will remember to tell our kids that they can’t watch any more TV right now and they have to go outside and build a fort or pretend to be pioneers or fall out of a tree or something (low branches only please). And sometimes the cable will go out and we don’t have any TV or wireless internet, so we’ll all sit together and play Scrabble or tell stories or sing songs or something. Yeah, it’s quaint, but it’s my dream.

This is my hope for the next 50 years. This is my belief, which counteracts the worry. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of peace and brotherhood.

(Thanks to MLKJ, and I know you’re a cool enough guy that you won’t mind the liberties I’ve taken with your elegant words.)

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Showing off love

The other night at the theatre, it was about 6pm and it was all warm and sunny and beautiful, and this 20-ish-year-old couple came walking through the courtyard, holding hands. He let go and vaulted over this low railing, and then turned around and looked at her, needing approval. I thought that was so cute, that he was showing off for her. Then he tried to help her jump over the railing, which of course she pretended like she couldn’t do. Then she got up on this planter box and he stood about 20 feet away and took pictures of her. And I was watching them and thinking, Isn’t love great?

Then an hour or so later, this 60s-ish couple came in and they were waiting for the box office to open. When I looked back at them again, she had gone up to the first landing of the stairs, and he was standing at the bottom taking pictures of her. And I just melted, because love and showing off love doesn’t just apply to 20-year-olds.

It’s springtime and people are twitterpated. I don’t know what it is but I know that I’ve felt a little giddy the past few days – the warmer weather? The extra vitamin D? The opportunity for more exercise outdoors? In the fall, my favorite season is the fall, but at this time of year, spring is definitely it.

So show off some love!

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First Sunday in Advent

We did it! We went to church!

For weeks months years now I’ve spent the whole week gearing myself up to go for it, only to talk myself out of it Sunday morning for one or another reason. There is always an excuse.

On Saturday night I went to the opening night of Big River, and didn’t get home until nearly midnight. On Sunday morning I managed to get the baby to sleep until 9. And it was drizzly and cold. All great excuses to stay home in pajamas. But I bribed us with the promise of post-church Starbucks, got dressed, and we headed out the door to check out the Lutheran church with the great view that’s only 5 minutes away.

Church is just one of the things I’ve decided to put on my last-ditch 2012 resolutions list. I figured that even though it’s intimidating, it’s never going to take more than an hour. And what’s the worst that can happen? It seems worth the benefits.

On our (short) drive there, I told Drew that I think the thing I would want to avoid the most would be having to talk to a bunch of new people. I just wanted to sneak in, sit in the back, and get out. But when we got there, people were immediately friendly, and the large, high-ceilinged sanctuary was far from full…and I realized how silly it was that I thought that we could sneak in with a baby and not attract a ton of attention.

B did okay at his first church service, but he was fussy and Drew was really working hard to keep him quiet. He finally lost that battle around the beginning of the sermon, and they went out to the nursery. We ended up leaving a little early, but still considered it a total victory. I’m looking forward to trying again next week.

I don’t actually think that B was bothering anyone. They seemed really welcoming, and we were in the same pew as some little girls who were coloring loudly (I remember doing that). In the pew in front of us a guy fell asleep during the sermon and snored for a few minutes. So I think it would have been okay even if he had gotten a little noisy.

On the other hand, I was super distracted by being nervous about it (and I bet Drew was even more distracted, what with actually holding him and all), so I’m not sure how much I got out of the whole thing. But still, when it was all over and we were heading to Starbucks, I felt accomplished and productive and virtuous. Like the feeling you get after going to the gym, or volunteering, or cleaning the whole house. Addictive…I hope.


Filed under Awesome, Baby, Beginnings, Drew, Nonfiction, Religion, Self improvement

Thanksgiving 2012

Baby B’s first thanksgiving! He’s thankful for his Lion King mobile. And so are we, because he loves it and will watch it happily and smile and dance. This allows me to brush my teeth and put in my contacts on the days when Drew is at work.

My brother and his wife weren’t able to fly out from Denver, so I’m thankful that my parents came down and we had dinner with Drew’s family, and it was really fun.

B was super fussy all day (growth spurt?) (they’re all growth spurts) so I’m thankful that everyone was easygoing about all the crying, and eager to try to hold him and calm him down, but understanding when I just had to go in other room and feed him. I’m also thankful that he’s strong and healthy and altogether a normal little boy. (I’m even thankful for the crying.)

Drew held him throughout dinner, and we were both kind of up and down with him, so neither of us gorged in that traditional, Thanksgiving dinner way. I’m thankful for that, in itself. But I’m also thankful that we got lots of leftovers to bring home, so we can eventually get our fill of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and all the rest.

I’m thankful that B has two sets of awesome grandparents who love him and are excited to watch him grow up. I’m thankful that those two sets of grandparents get along with each other.

Last year I was being deliberately optimistic about not being pregnant yet, and I was counting my blessings, and all that. I’m really thankful that this year I don’t have to twist the situation to shed it in a positive light.

Most of all this year I’m thankful for my two boys – for the one I chose and for the one who then (finally!) chose us.


Filed under Awesome, Baby, Beginnings, Children, Drew, Family, Friends, Holidays, Love, Memoir, Parents, Religion, Sentiment

21 in 2 months

After yesterday’s post about how I have bought too many books since Jan 1st, a friend asked me to list them all. So here goes!

These are the ones I bought from Amazon with a gift card:

Cell by Stephen King – this is me collecting every Stephen King book
Who the Hell is Pansy O’Hara? by Jenny Bond and Chris Sheedy – I saw this in the used bookstore I used to frequent when I worked at the Opera, and even though Erin said it was so-so, I’ve wanted to read it since then
Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs – I want to own all his stuff because I think he’s a good role model for me
Naked, Drunk, and Writing by Adair Lara – I idolize her, and this is one of the best “how to” writing books I’ve ever read
A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs – collecting all the Augusten Burroughs books is a lot easier than collecting all the Stephen King books

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin – so good!
Touched by a Vampire by someone named Jones – from the used bookstore, about religion in Twilight…it looks like a joke, and that’s why I bought it, although I paid $7 for it, so who’s the joke on now?
The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume II by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – love Sherlock Holmes!
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather – love these Barnes and Noble volumes!
A Widow for One Year by John Irving – love John Irving!
More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin – I really liked the show at ACT, and I really liked the first Tales of the City, so I look forward to reading more

Oh! Here’s The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume I, near the foot of the bed. I was reading it about 6 weeks ago.

I shouldn’t count these since they were Christmas presents, but they are sitting out, so…

Etiquette by Emily Post – the 1922 edition!
Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

This was also a Christmas present.

11/22/63 by Stephen King – one of his weirder premises, but I still enjoyed it!

Two major finds a couple weekends ago – two Stephen King books I thought were going to be difficult to get. But they basically fell into my hands!

Blockade Billy by Stephen King – $4.95 on the sale shelf at Barnes and Noble
The Colorado Kid by Stephen King – $2.95 at the used bookstore in Berkeley

Books 2 through 4 of the Underland Chronicles by the author of The Hunger Games. I love these books. I cannot recommend them enough. I also have the first one, but loaned it to Erin. I haven’t bought the fifth and final one yet, but I will when I finish the fourth one.

Gregory the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (not pictured)
Gregory and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
Gregory and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
Gregory and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins

Next to the bed! I’m about halfway through and really like it. I think I will read each book before the next season of the HBO series comes out.

A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin

So that’s 19 books that I’ve purchased since January 1st, plus 3 Christmas presents. But wait! I am currently awaiting two books from Amazon:

These are for next month’s book club – they’re both pretty short and we couldn’t meet for another 5 weeks, so we decided to do both of them. I am actually pretty excited about both, but I will probably read them in this order.

The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney – this book has been on my “to read” list FOREVER

So there you have it. Twenty-one books purchased in the first two months of 2012. Will the trend continue like this?

The thing of it is, I’m obviously not embarrassed or worried about this behavior. I love buying books and having books and reading books. I have no intention to stop buying them. I make no promises like, “I won’t buy anything else until I read everything I own.” There’s a Barenaked Ladies lyric,

I don’t buy everything I read,
I haven’t even read everything I’ve bought.

I identify with that.

Stay tuned, and I’ll give you a full breakdown of all of Stephen King’s works, and the few I still need to complete my collection!


Filed under Being a girl, Books, Dreams, Fashion, Food, Friends, Love, Nonfiction, Religion, Self improvement, Sentiment, Writing