May 31, 2009

Now That's Co-operation!

For three months, we have been ordering food through the Community Food Co-op of Utah, a volunteer-powered, nonprofit food buying network. Once a month, we save up to 50% on fruits, vegetables, and meat. Anyone can be a member of the Co-op; all you have to do is volunteer at least two hours of time in the community. The Co-op suggests you volunteer your time at least once a year with the Co-op itself. This month, Katie emailed them and said we could help out. Originally, we thought we would be helping hand out food here in Provo. However, they asked us if we could help out in Salt Lake from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. My first reaction was "ugh." But, I said "Sure. Why not?" We lucked out though because Katie got a call asking us to come for the 6:30 a.m. shift. Normally, 6:30 a.m. would be too early, but it was so much better than 4:30 a.m., so I didn't complain.

Katie and I counted this as our weekly date night. You might be thinking, "Sad commentary..." However, it was an experience well worth it.

Katie was assigned to the distribution line handing out potatoes, and I was a pallet jack driver. I pushed a pallet around the warehouse from station to station and loaded it up with whatever a distribution site had ordered. It was actually fun work. Katie and I both agree the best part of the experience was working together with and meeting some great people.

Living in Orem and working at BYU, I'm sure I often go for extended periods of time interacting only with people who are LDS. Probably the majority of people I met at the Co-op were not Mormon. While pushing the pallets around, I met Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Unitarians, Catholics, among others. Everyone I met was very friendly and happy to be there working together for a good cause. There were several colorful characters I hope are there the next time we volunteer. There was one lady in her sixties who initially scared me a bit. At first, she came across as very bossy with her voice that boomed throughout the warehouse. However, I found out she's been working with the Co-op since it began, and she had the system down to a science. I was amazed when she jumped in and lifted more 50 lb. bags of potatoes than many of the men. As I talked with her, I found out she's hysterically funny.

The whole experience reminded me I'm part of the world. And, there are a lot of really great people in it.

Tonight for dinner, Katie made beef stroganoff made with beef and mushrooms from the Co-op. Also from our order, we at aparagus, apples and cantaloupe. The asiago cheese bread accompanying our meal came from the Provo Farmers Market, which I'll blog about later.

Unfortunately, we will miss out on the next couple of distribution days because of our vacation schedules. But, we will be happily supporting the local farmers in Austria and meeting more wonderful people.

Katie handing out potatoes. Because she's from Idaho, she has special expertise!

This picture of me pulling one of the pallets around isn't blurry because Katie is a bad photographer or that she was using a cell phone. I was just working so incredibly fast.

May 25, 2009

I Love Cemeteries

It began when I was very young. An elderly widow named Vera used to babysit me, and quite often I would stay overnight at her house. Practically every day I was with her, she would take me to the American Falls cemetery, a beautiful cemetery overlooking the Snake River. Vera looked after the graves of her husband, her father, my grandparents, and several others. She kept the graves in pristine condition and was very proud her rose bushes next to the graves. During our frequent cemetery outings, Vera would tell me stories of many of the people buried there, and each visit, she would retell the stories. I still remember many of stories today. I remember being very sad about the 19 year-old boy, Tony Kucera, who drowned in the Snake River. I also loved the story of the witch who committed suicide. Her grave was all by itself in a corner of the cemetery. We pretended to be frightened and never went near the grave.

Since then, I have loved visiting cemeteries. I especially enjoy looking at the different headstones, reading the epitaphs, looking at dates, and figuring out who must be related. I like to try and figure out from clues on their headstones what their lives must have been like.

I bring this up because this past weekend was Memorial Day. Katie and I have an ongoing tradition of traveling to Richmond for her family's reunion during which we always make a pilgrimage to the Richmond and Smithfield cemeteries. And every few years, we venture further away to some of the cemeteries where my relatives are buried.

The family reunion, or what Katie lovingly calls "the family rebellion," is always an interesting experience. Every family has it's more colorful side, and this is Katie's. The crazies were out in full force this year, and they were all first in line for the free food. However, enough of the normal relatives showed up to balance things out. They also helped with clean up, which was nice. The whole affair was pretty painless, and I must admit, I kind of like seeing all the new tatoos, hearing bizarre stories of who is married to/living with what, and who's currently in or out of prison.

Now, back to the cemeteries. Here is a picture of the kids at Grandma Gunnell's grave. She died not too long after Katie and I were married, so I didn't know her that well. But, I remember she was a feisty lady, especially when it came to Rook. One time when we were playing, I was dealt the perfect hand. I was prepared to bid 120 points (for non-Rook players, that's the highest bid possible). However, before I could speak, she yelled out, "Redeal," and everyone through their cards face up on the table. I immediately challenged her and said, "What?!" I won't go into all the details of this silly rule she invented, but I did learn never to cross Grandma Gunnell. It wasn't really all that bad...or maybe after this many years, I'm finally getting over it.

Next is a picture of the kids at Grandma Lu's grave. Grandma Lu died about a year and a half ago. She was a very sweet lady and had a remarkable memory. If you were ever playing the board game, Encore, everyone wanted her on their team. I'm glad the kids were able to spend time with her and get to know her well.

Visiting the cemeteries got me to thinking about where I would like to be buried, what kind of tombstone I would like to have, and what should be written on it. If we stay in the area, I definitely prefer the Provo cemetery over Orem's. The Provo cemetery is very old, beautifully landscaped, and has all kinds of headstones. The Orem cemetery is in a nice location, but it's one of those where all the markers are level to the ground. If it weren't for the sign, you'd might mistake it for a golf course as you drive by. As for the type of headstone. I'm not very particular, but I do like obelisks. For the epitaph, I think I'll leave that one up to Katie and the kids. A friend of mine offered a suggestion though. He said my tombstone needs a nice Annie Lennox quote like "Here lies Curtis--A Whiter Shade of Pale." Hmmm... I'll think about it.

This headstone wins the prize for the oddest in the Richmond cemetery. And wouldn't you know it, Katie's related.

May 23, 2009

Liam the Ace

Field Kindley and his mascot, Fokker

Liam as Kindley

Liam's 5th grade year at the new Center for Accelerated Studies has been rather underwhelming. The idea is a great one, but no matter how much theory the teacher knows about teaching gifted children, if she doesn't have the organizational or classroom management skills, it's not going to work. Needless to say, Liam will be going back to Westridge to the same amazing teacher Chloe had.

However, one activity took place this past Friday that made the year worth it. All the 5th graders participated in a History Fair. Each child chose a person or event from American history to study. There were a few assigned parts, but each child was encouraged to be creative with how they presented the information at the fair.

Liam, who has always been interested in warfare (hence, the nickname Boom Boom), chose to research WWI dogfighting, specifically fighting ace, Field Eugene Kindley. Liam really ran (or flew) with it. After reading several books, searching the internet, interviewing a man in our neighborhood who was a military pilot, Liam's head is full of all kinds, and I do mean all kinds, of information about WWI, fighting planes, and pilots.

For his presentation, Liam decided to be WWI fighting ace, Field Eugene Kindley. The piece de resistance was the authentic WWI pilot cap and goggles Liam and Katie found at the Army/Navy surplus store. Katie found a khaki jacket at the thrift store to finish off the ensemble. Katie also helped Liam create a cardboard display complete with a blown up image of the inside of the Sopwith Camel.

For my part, I helped Liam put together a model of a Sopwith Camel. Now, my entire experience with models was with a hot rod car I put together in elementary school. It was obviously a model for beginners because I remember the pieces snapped together and no painting was required. Even though, we were lucky the local hobby shop had one Sopwith Camel kit left, it was not a kit for a beginner. ...and a beginner who's in need of reading glasses ...and a beginner who can't read Russian. The scale of the model is written on the box, but that didn't mean anything to me. I was very surprised to see how tiny the thing was, especially for the price of the kit. I was expecting something much bigger. The kit was made in Ukraine. The instructions were first in Russian and then translated very poorly into English. I had no idea what they wanted us to do for some of the steps, so Liam and I just tried to make it look like the picture as best we could. The most difficult part was attaching the wings and the little support bars. If I were the swearing type, Liam would have gotten an earful. In the end, the plane looked presentable (that is, if you don't look too close). Liam was very good about the whole thing and was genuinely grateful his dad helped out.

Liam and the Sopwith Camel model (grrrr...)

As I mentioned earlier, Liam learned an impressive amount through this project. I asked him to tell me a few of things. He had a hard time narrowing it down, but here are his top three:
  1. The Sopwith Camel is highly manueverable but very difficult to learn to fly. It has the highest training pilot death toll of any plane in WWI.
  2. Field Eugene Kindley flew an Sopwith F1 Camel, which is the same plane Snoopy flies. He was the 3rd highest ranking American ace having downed 12 enemy aircraft.
  3. All in a day's work--On one mission, Kindley dropped four bombs on a German transport. Then, he took out a German machine gun nest. Next, Kindley tried to down an observation balloon but failed because a German two-seater attacked him, so he shot down the two-seater. Afterward, he took out another machine gun nest, and used his remaining ammunition to strafe German infantry. Upon returning home, he found two German planes attacking a British observation plane. He scared them away even though he had no ammo. Kindley earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster and the Distinguished Service Cross.
Katie was able to attend the History Fair, and said Liam did an amazing job. There was always a swarm of kids and parents around Liam's display with Liam teaching them as Kindley. Liam's teacher commented to Katie about how Liam really knew almost everything there is to know about the WWI flying aces. She was extremely impressed. Katie and I weren't really surprised. We've known for a long time that Liam is one impressive kid.

Way to go, Liam! We're proud of you!

Liam in front of his display without goggles

...and with

showing the inside of the Sopwith Camel cockpit

explaining everything to an interested friend

May 22, 2009

Flexitarians Unite!

Liam brought a book home titled, Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser. He could spout off all kinds of gross facts and disturbing tactics of the fast food industry. One day, I was in the mood to read something new, and I spotted the book. I picked it up and quickly made my way through. Needless to say, Liam and I have sworn off eating at fast food chains for the foreseeable future and maybe forever.

Since going sugar-free and after reading Chew On This, I've been thinking a lot about healthy eating. I wanted to read more, and a friend recommended In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. I read it over the weekend and was very impressed. Pollan sums up all his research into seven words, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." And by food, he means real food, not processed. Kind of sounds like the Word of Wisdom to me. I have never had a problem following the "don't's" of the Word of Wisdom, but for years, I have wanted to be better with the "do's." I really liked this book because Pollan discusses in the final third of the book how we can eat better especially in our western culture.

In his book, Pollan even introduced me to the term, "flexitarian," one who normally maintains a vegetarian diet but occasionally makes exceptions and eats meat or fish. I have often thought about becoming vegetarian, but Katie and the kids LOVE meat. And, I can think of a few dishes, mostly ethnic, in which I like meat. So, the flexitarian idea works well for me. I now eat meat only sparingly with my family at dinner time.

Here are some of the main ideas from Pollan's book along with my commentary:
  • Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. I see what he means. There are a lot of new and strange products that have shown up on grocery store shelves in my lifetime. However, I bet my grandmother would recognize baba ganoush.
  • Avoid foods containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar, B)unpronounceable, C) more than five in number, or that include D) high-fructose corn syrup. Wow, this is more difficult than I thought. I'm now paying more attention to labels. Corn syrup is practically everything. I thought I was being healthy putting Wishbone Salad Spritzers on my salad. But guess what one of the main ingredients is!
  • Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. This reminds me of the perfectly perserved several-centuries-old Twinkie in the movie "Wall-e."
  • Avoid food products that carry health claims. Now that I'm looking at products in the grocery store with new eyes, I notice practically every thing on the junk food aisles have some sort of big writing on their packages claiming some way they're healthy. I won't be surprised when organic Doritos with a boost of Omega 3 hits the shelves.
  • Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. Yep, the good stuff is on the back and sides of the grocery store we shop at. Even at the health food store, the healthy junk food is in the middle.
  • Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. I'm glad to say the Provo Farmers Market is getting bigger and better each year. I hope it will someday rival my favorite farmers market in Carpinteria, CA. We also buy our eggs from a local farmer. Tomas loves to see the animals, and he loves the green eggs, which he calls "dragon eggs." Finally, Katie and I have use the Crossroads Urban Center Community Food Co-op. We've been very impressed with what we've received.
  • Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Hurray for flexitarians!
  • If you have the space, but a freezer. We have the space, now we just need the money. I've wanted a freezer for a while now. It's just moved up on the list of priorities. We could buy healthy food in bulk and fill up our freezer. We should probably learn out to can and bottle fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat well-grown food from healthy soils. I like this idea but need to do more research on how to find out about the soils the food I buy was grown in. I have a health nut friend who probably knows the answer.
  • Pay more, eat less. This sounds crazy in this economy. However, I have an example of the idea at work. I used to seriously drink about a gallon of milk a day. I decided to switch to rice milk for the health benefits. Rice milk is more expensive so I have been limiting myself and drinking more water instead. Paying more, drinking less, making healthier choices, and I believe, saving money.
  • Eat meals and do it at a table. Our family is pretty good at having dinner at the table, but I need to work on this some. I tend to like to eat my bowl of Kashi's Go Lean cereal with rice milk in front of the TV watching the morning news. Chloe has also picked up on this bad habit. I also need to go to the break room at work to eat lunch. I tend to eat at my desk.
  • Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does. When we go on a car trip, I usually go into to the convenience store while getting gas and pick up some snacks and drinks for the road. Not only is this more expensive but it's totally unhealthy. Next time, it's fruit and veggie snacks with reusable bottles of filtered water from our tap.
  • Try not to eat alone. This is a good idea for me because I like to talk. The more I talk, the less I eat.
  • Eat slowly. If I eat with someone, I naturally do this.
  • Cook and, if you can, grow a garden. Katie and I have always loved cooking. Now, we need to expand our gardening to include more than a couple of tomato plants.
  • Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure. I have always admired this about many European countries. I love how food and meals are such a big part of their culture. We are going to spend a month in Vienna this summer, and as the saying goes, "When in Rome (or Vienna in this case)..."

Preschool Pomp and Circumstance

Wednesday was a big day for Tomas. He graduated from Moonbeams Preschool. We love this preschool, and the teacher, Miff Caffy (Miss Cathy), is amazing. Tomas had a blast these past two years. For his first year, Tomas got to be with his good friend, Sebi. This year, Tomas and Jeffrey were inseparable. My favorite part was the interview sheets Tomas would bring home with him. Miss Cathy would ask the children questions and she would record their exactly how they said them. Tomas gave some hilarious, insightful, odd, and touching answers.

The graduation program was very cute and the perfect length. However, I got to see a new side of Tomas. Actually, I knew he had this side, but I've never seen it in front of an audience. During the graduation ceremony, Tomas showed he is a bit of a class clown. I don't think he ever sat still and was continually pulling faces. I also think I should have sent him off to the bathroom before leaving the house. I think some of his fidgeting may have been variations on the Potty Dance.

Tomas says he wants to be a Disneyland builder when he grows up. Take a look at the video below to hear what Miss Cathy thinks he'll be. As for me, I'm excited to see what he'll become. He is very creative and artistic, so I think he could do some cool things at Disneyland. Plus, he could then get the family in for free.

Tomas and Miff Caffy. We're going to miss her.

I had to include a picture of Liam with Miss Cathy. Miss Cathy has told us many times that Liam is one of her all time favorite students. She loves to tell the story of when Liam as a three-year-old brought his Etch A Sketch and told her he could draw a map of Utah. She didn't believe him until he did it.

Tomas didn't sit normally the entire program. And Jeffrey's mining for something.

I can't remember what Tomas was doing here, but I know it was what he was supposed to be doing.

Here are several clips from the program.

May 19, 2009

Nothin' Sweet About Me

A while back, a Catholic friend of mine was trying to decide what to give up for Lent. This got me thinking about what I would give up. I ruminated for several days and then raised the subject over dinner with my family. I told them I would like to see if I could give up the most difficult thing I could think of--sugar. I say difficult because I LOVE desserts. And not only eating them, I love to make them. My favorite desserts are any with chocolate. I've often said, "If it doesn't have chocolate, it's not a dessert. It's a side dish." On average, I made a dessert at least once a week, but there were many weeks where I was baking daily. Someone only had to mention the word "cookies," and I was in the kitchen.

Well, back to dinner. When I mentioned I would like to try giving up sugar, I'm sure my family was first thinking, "You're nuts!" and secondly, "You're not going to make us do it, too, are you?" However, they didn't make their thoughts known, and amazingly, Chloe said she'd be willing to try it, too. So, Chloe and I set a goal of no processed sugar until Easter.

Maybe it was because Chloe was doing it with me or that Katie was also very supportive, but it was much easier than I thought. There were, of course, a few times when I really craved something sweet, but I made sure I always had something healthy to snack on nearby. Katie also tried out some sugar-free dessert recipes.

Easter arrived, and Chloe and I made it. Chloe decided to go back on sugar, but I felt I wasn't ready yet. I felt this way because Katie had made some cookies for a church activity. While they were cooling on the counter, I an incredible urge to wolf down the entire batch all at once. I had back away, turn, and run like h... I decided I'm kind of like and alcoholic but with sugar. A single bite of one of those cookies, and I would have been back at square one.

So, for the past 85 days, I have been sugar free. I plan to keep it up until we go to Vienna in July. There are just too many bakeries there that need to be tried. I hope I will be able to sample in moderation. One thing that should help is that I'm equally excited to eat my weight every day in the amazing fresh produce available at the outdoor markets. I've heard the apartment we're staying in is near one of the largest markets. However, when we come from Europe I plan to go back off sugar again.

To help with my sweet cravings, I've been trying to perfect a sugar-free cookie. I think they are pure heaven, but I need to try them out on a completely unbiased audience. For all I know, they could actually taste like dirt clods. I've been off sugar long enough now that grass isn't half bad. I'm going to test them out on my work colleagues tomorrow.

Here's the recipe:

Curtis' Sugar-free Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup butter*
1 banana
1/3 cup sugar replacement**
1 egg or egg substitute
2 cups flour***
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup water
1 cup unsweetened carob chips****

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or use Silpat mats. Cream together butter, sugar replacement and mashed banana. Add egg and blend well. Sift all dry ingredients together and add alternately with applesauce and water to creamed mixture. Be sure to add flour first and last. Stir in carob chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

* I've tried leaving the butter out and adding more applesauce, but the cookies come out very rubbery. So, unless you're looking to replace the soles on your tennis shoes, leave the butter in. It's not too much.
**I suggest agave nectar. I buy it bulk at the local health food store. And, it's healthier than products like Splenda.
***Wheat flour works too.
****I found these sugar-free chocolate chips and peanut butter chips at the health food store that were also very good in the recipe. They're pricey though.

May 17, 2009

And They're Off!

Our poor children. Between my huge buck teeth and Katie's overcrowded small mouth, our kid's are destined to need orthodontic work.

Chloe began the whole process in fourth grade. But, May 15th was a big day in Chloe's life. She finally got her braces off. The five years really paid off. Her smile is fantastic. She looks so pretty that I think I'm going to have a lot more to worry about when she starts dating next year.

Braces sure have come a long way since I had them. Chloe's braces were simply glued to the front of her teeth. My braces were these bands that surrounded each tooth. The term "metal mouth" really applied to me. I wonder if they even do head gear anymore. Braces today are also much more fashionable. Every time Chloe went to the orthodontist, she got to choose what color of bands she had on her braces--red and green for Christmas, blue and white for BYU, green for Provo High, etc. At one time, the plastic part of her retainer was like a watermelon--pink and green with black seeds. And her retainer now is a clear plastic thing with no wires which is molded to fit over her teeth and is completely invisible.

One thing I was quite surprised about. Braces have also gotten cheaper. They are still pretty expensive, but I remember my parents paid about $3,000 for all my orthodontic care. Chloe only set us back $2,500.

And finally, I must say I'm proud of Chloe for always smiling for pictures while she had braces. She learned this lesson from her mother. For the years Katie had braces, it's difficult to find a picture of her smiling. Katie insists she had a happy childhood, but the pictures give the impression of a brooding teenager.

Congratulations, Chloe! You look great!

Now, one down, two to go!

Before and after (click on the picture to get a closer look)

May 15, 2009

Why I'm an Annie Fan

Well, if you can't tell from the title of my blog. I am a fan of Annie Lennox. Since I'm using this blog as sort of a journal and family history, I thought I'd write a little about this minor obsession to help others understand more about me.

To watch a Eurythmics video visit

To watch an Annie Lennox video visit

It all began the summer of 1983. I had just graduated from high school and moved to Provo with my family while my dad finished his Master's degree. In the house we rented, we had cable TV, and one of the channels was MTV. MTV was still fairly new back then and actually played music videos, which were for the most part clean. The TV my parents took with them was a small 12" screen. It was originally a color TV, but the color had gone out. One afternoon, I was watching TV and channel surfing. I wasn't doing the normal channel surfing with a remote. This TV didn't have a remote, so I moved one of the Lazyboy-type chairs up close to the TV and sat there turning the knob. As I was going through the channels, something caught my attention. I heard the synthesized base line of "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This." I watched the video and was immediately hooked. I loved everything about the video from playing the cello in a boat to the cow in the board room. I thought the singer's voice was the most amazing thing I'd ever heard. As the video came to an end, I read the song title and group, wrote it down, hopped in my '76 brown Ford Pinto, and went to the mall. At the music store, I asked if they had the Eurythmics. The sales clerk said, "Oh, you mean the lady with the crazy orange hair." I thought, "Orange?" I had only seen the video in black and white. I said, "Sure." I bought the cassette tape and drove around Provo for an hour listening to the tape in my car. It turned out to be one of those albums where you love every song. And this album was certainly different from any of the music I previously liked. It wasn't until three months later when I finally saw the video in color on the TV in the basement of my dorm.

That was how it began. Since then, I own every Eurythmics and Annie Lennox CD and have 90% of the songs on them memorized. I have seen the Eurythmics or just Annie perform six times in concert. All three of my children were able to recognize songs sung by Annie at the age of two.

A couple of "Annie" memories stick out. While I was on my mission in Hamburg, Germany, my companion and I were in the basement of a large multi-level shopping mall. I could just barely hear something through all the noise of the shoppers. I asked my companion if he could hear it, but he had no idea what I was talking about. I dragged him up several levels to the top where a music store was playing a song that I knew had to be Annie. I didn't dare go into the store because I was sure it was against mission rules, but we hung around outside until the song was over. My companion thought I was nuts. Well, the song was "Missionary Man" the latest release from the Eurythmics. I knew the song must have been written for me! Two months later, the Eurythmics came to Hamburg to perform in an outdoor amphitheater near our apartment. I can tell you that our windows were definitely open that night. I would have taken one of the concert posters that were put up all over town had they not been permanently glued to the advertising spaces. This was for the best because I'm sure stealing was also against the mission rules.

The second memory was around the time of Katie and my 15th wedding anniversary. I had been telling Katie for quite a while that if Annie ever toured in the US again, we were going since Annie does not tour very much any more. (I should probably mention that Katie is fine with my little obsession.) Anyway, I told Katie about an online poll I had seen asking who voters would like Annie to perform a duet with. The number one choice was Sting, who happens to be one of Katie's favorite singers. It was only a couple of months later that I received an email update from the Annie's official site stating Annie and Sting were doing a US tour together. The nearest location was LA, and Katie and I decided to go to celebrate our anniversary. I wrote reminders to myself, added an entry to my computer calendar, and began a countdown to ticket sales on my office door. The very second tickets went on sale, I was on the computer. I spent more on those concert tickets than I ever had before, but we got good seats. It was a great concert. Both Sting and Annie were amazing, but in the end, Katie and I both agreed Annie had outperformed Sting. She is every bit as good live--and maybe even more so.

I think I like Annie Lennox so much because her lyrics are full of meaning, the music has many layers, and she is involved in many admirable causes. My favorite Eurythmics album is "Revenge," and my favorite song is "Here Comes the Rain Again." As for Annie's solo albums, my favorite is "Bare" and my favorite song is "Honestly."

So, there you have it.

And a final word to my children, if you can somehow work "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" into my funeral, that'd be really cool!

May 12, 2009

Tomas and his Harem

Since my first post, I've been wondering about other things I can put on my blog. Tomas gave me the perfect opportunity to try adding video. I can see how this might become a little addicting.
Today was Parent Day at Tomas' dance class. Tomas' friend and only other boy in the class, Sebi, was gone, so it was just Tomas and his harem. It was very cute. Over the past several weeks, Tomas will disappear to a room with a CD player and dance to music. Some of his favorite songs are from the Disneyland theme park soundtrack. He also likes the song from Speed Racer and the Numa Numa song. Sometimes he'll let us in the room to show us what he's "chorgraphed." He's a very creative little boy. Last week, Tomas got to see the boys' class at Chloe's dance concert do a Transformer dance. Tomas is very excited to join that class next year.

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May 10, 2009

Hiking the Y with Tomas

At work, I am on a team as part of a fitness challenge. We all wear pedometers and count our steps and try to reach at least 10,000 steps daily. Tomas has been asking me for several months when we could hike up to the Y. Since Katie and Liam were attending Chloe's dance concert, I thought it would be a good time to hike the Y with Tomas and get some steps in. The weather was perfect for hiking and Tomas assured me he could make it all the way up without having to be carried.


Tomas and I made it to the Y. Photo taken by fellow hiker.

Tomas was a real trooper. The trail zigzagged back and forth eleven times, and we took a short break at each switchback. Tomas talked the entire way while I huffed and puffed my way up. A highlight of the hike came when I came within inches of stepping on a baby rattlesnake. It blended in well with the dirt, and it took me a moment to realize what it was. I quickly got Tomas out of the way and took a couple of pictures. Tomas thought I was really brave and cool. I remember hearing somewhere that baby rattlesnakes are
more dangerous than adult ones because they can't control the amount of venom they release. Tomas told me I didn't need to be scared because the rattlesnake is probably afraid of me because it thinks I'm a giant.

The baby rattlesnake

Tomas was really proud of himself that he made it all the way up without having to be carried. I was proud of myself that I made it up period. I forgot how strenuous the hike could actually be. For the entire hike, up and down, I only got only 5,885 steps. Today, my body feels like it did five times that much.

Tomas doing his John Travolta pose


Photo taken by Tomas. Not bad.

I think the most memorable part of the hike came as we were coming back down. We stopped at one of the benches along the way. Tomas said, "The bench is a lot like Jesus." I asked him to explain. He went on to tell me that the bench is made out of wood and nails and that Jesus was nailed to a piece of wood. He added that Jesus was put in a tomb and was resurrected three days later. Smart kid. Sure glad he takes after his mother. I call it the Sermon on the Y Mount.

Tomas delivering his sermon.

Overall, it was a great experience with my tough little hiker. Well worth every step.