Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Noe!

It seems like yesterday we brought you home from the hospital, all 4 1/2 lbs of you and your thick mop of black hair! You were so small that you would sleep for days on end....now if we were only so lucky! Our journey with you has been much different than we expected, but sometimes altered travel plans can be full of good surprises.

Monday, December 29, 2008

post office

I was at the post office today and had the following conversation with the post office worker, all while trying to mail my package and wrangle my boys:

POW (Post Office Worker): Wow....your boys look nothing like you! They sure are cute....

Me: Umm...Thanks?

POW: Look at those eyes....beautiful! They really don't look like you at all.

Me: Ummm.....ok.

POW: Your husband is Asian, right?

Me: Actually, no. He's Hispanic.

POW: No....those kids are definitely Asian.

Me: No. They're Hispanic.

POW: Are you sure?

[I probably get asked if the boys are Asian once a week....and I understand completely why people might make that assumption with their almond-shaped eyes and dark hair, but this is the first time that someone has actually rejected my response.]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Feliz Navidad!

We hope your holidays were filled with....

making cookies in your pajamas....

lots and lots of train exhibits...

and a few surprises!!!

Homecoming, part ii

While Ed was away, Asher built this train track on top of our table and insisted on leaving it up until his Papi could see it, which forced us to crowd around our breakfast bar for meals. In the end, I left it up ..... for Asher and Noe (Noe actually played with it for sustained periods of time) and because I think it looks kind-of festive. It's also nice to have train tracks off of my floors for awhile.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Ed returned from NYC in time to celebrate Christmas Eve with us. He brought home some really fun gifts for the boys. Noe got the "N" for Noe t-shirt. The N-train was the main line we used from our beloved little Astoria apartment. We lived here for the final year of our 4-year New York stint. Asher got the 7-train that fits onto his Thomas tracks. We rode the 7-train for our first three years living in the city. This was also the train line he rode home from the hospital. The box packaging advertised the train as "safe, sturdy and fun!"
Hmm...those three words don't come to mind when I think about my time riding the real 7-train.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Diagnosis

Asher's diagnosis: double ear infection and bacterial conjunctivitis

Mom's defense: it's hard to figure out your child is sick when he answers, "I feel so happy" everytime he is asked how he is feeling.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

el patio, empanadas, christmas lights and creches

We've had to modify our holiday schedule a bit with Ed's insane work schedule and a steady run of head colds, conjunctivitis and other and ailments, but last night the Guzman 4 was out in force!

We started our night at El Patio with empanadas and Argentine club soccer on their big-screen TV. We arrived for the second half a crucial playoff showdown between Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo. We watched a great match (3-1, Boca) and learned that Asher can shout "GOOOOAAAL" with the volume and passion of the very drunkest of Argentine soccer fans.

One thing I love about living in a city with the diversity of DC or New York is that you can transport yourself to that country without actually traveling there. This is great when you have young kids, or lack of time or money (or all three, in our case), but wish to escape the suburban bubble for awhile. That evening, we might as well have been sitting in cafe in B.A. watching soccer and sipping mate with the locals.

Sufficiently stuffed with empanadas and arroz, we drove over to the Festival Lights at the Washington, DC temple. It is one of the most popular DC holiday attractions, and they really do a great job. My favorites were the live nativity and the international creche exhibit. When we were looking for a parking spot, we drove by the temple entrance and saw a group of Japanese tourists with an aresenal of cameras trying to enter the temple. Oops!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ethnic Family

The boys are getting a wooden dollhouse found on craigslist from Santa this year. I ordered a few accessories to go with it, including this ethnic family. I wanted their "play family" to reflect their own, and decided this was a close fit. That is...until it came in the mail and I looked at the mama doll and remembered that I am, in fact, a white woman with green eyes and brownish-blond hair who would blend in unnoticed in most northern european countries.

Do you think they would let me exchange just the mama doll for one in the white family? Maybe there is an untouched market for mix-and-match doll families....I'd better get on that business plan ASAP!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Milkman

Once in awhile I stumble across something wonderful in my local library, and this was my little treasure from last week....

It is a story about a milkman getting up for his home delivery route early in the morning, and
working in his neighborhood. Along his route, he finds a lost dog, gifts a rattle for a newborn on his route, and greets everyone in the neighborhood by name.

My grandpa is a retired milkman. He had one of the last home delivery routes in the Portland area. He retired when I was still pretty young, but I have solid memories of bright plastic milk crates to store my toys, grandpa's white Alpenrose delivery shirt with his name stitched into a front pocket, tubs of ice cream in our freezer all summer long, unlimited egg nog at Christmas and the most delicious swiss chocolate milk in half-pint containers.

On Christmas Eve each year, my dad would work alongside my grandpa so he could come home and celebrate with us sooner. I even got to help him with part of his route for a day just before he retired. I thought it had to be the best job ever....much more interesting than my dad's office job....and I still think so.

My grandpa's milk delivery route was in the West Hills, the wealthiest area in Portland. He knew all of the local Portland celebrities, including television personalities and former NBA players. He even become a mini-celebrity himself when he was profiled for a local news show.

I've been thinking a lot about my grandparents lately. Their health is declining fast. My grandpa's heart is very weak and my grandma is entering the last stages of Alzheimers. It is bittersweet. My best childhood memories are intertwined with them and now I slowly prepare myself for their absence.

Oh yeah....and the boys liked the book, too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gone Running....

basketball season starts in a month and I've
got some serious work to do.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Hug from A Stranger

I can't wait for this week to end. It's been a hard one for our family....a constant drip of hard news and uncertainty. I won't go into detail, but by Thursday afternoon I was pretty unhinged. Ed has been working lawyer hours for the last couple of months. Working until 2-3am has become the norm these days. Noe has been sick for a better part of the week. His sweet little self disappears when he is sick and he turns into a teenager on meth....angry with a lot of unfocused energy.

I was determined to get something done that day, besides wrestle with Noe, so I decided to run a long-overdue errand. Car rides usually relax Noe, and Asher manages himself well these days. A group of autism families is sponsoring a family. The family is a single mom, teenage daughter and two young boys with autism. We are helping them set up a home therapy program for their boys, training the mother and daughter to be therapists. We are also supplying the house with therapy materials and appropriate toys and games. They have no job, no insurance, no prospects (and why I am complaining about my own charmed life right now....I have no idea). They are supposed to be anonymous, but I have met them. Amazing mother. The teenage daughter is so bright and determined. The boys....smart, with lots of potential, but a handful.

Anyways, I was supposed to deliver my part weeks ago.....the woman in-charge probably had given up on me. Mapquest said it was a 20 minute drive to her house. It took us an hour in the rain and traffic....it felt like 10 hours with Noe's screams. I was crying and shaking by the time we got to her house, the week had done me in. An hour before we got into the car, I found out we had lost a big appeal to our insurance company for some of Noe's therapies. I was spent, angry. When I got to her door, it quickly opened. I had planned to leave the goods inside the door and leave, considering my state. This woman I knew only from email appeared. I gave her my donation, apologized for the lateness. Before I could run away, she was hugging me. She knew. Her son is 12, doing great, but it was a long road. She said my son will get there too....with time and work. I believe her.

Our Santa Almost Got Downsized

Last week, we made our only trip to the mall this holiday season to see Santa....just in case they change their mind again.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

little people update

A little update on the midget freeloaders who bunk downstairs....

noe: is quite the comedian these days. his favorite joke is turning the light out on us and then running away in hysterical laughter. his other favorite joke is doing his puzzles, and then putting the very last piece in the wrong way, also in hysterical laughter. Ok, so he won't be on Comedy Central anytime soon....but this is a big step up from his 2s and 3s which were mostly spent in tears and blank stares (for both me and noe).

asher: is really into practicing his writing and spelling skills at the moment. i was pretty happy to see this because he hadn't previously shown a lot of interest in drawing and coloring (as in most of his coloring books and crayons look way too new). we spent the better part of last week spelling out the names of all 20 kids in his preschool class. the last couple of days he has stepped it up a notch. instead of simply writing names, he wants to record details of his day at school. "asher's mom (yes, that's what he calls me now)....how spell... C no share scooter?.....how spell L push me and i fell and cry?.... how spell.... M forgot helmet today and can't ride scooter?" I am more and more convinced asher is preparing to write a preschool expose.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday, Asher....

It's been quite a ride with you, my Ashercito, ever since that very first one.....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Starting New Holiday Traditions

Last night Ed and I dropped the boys off at an undisclosed location and went off to explore
Historic Leesburg. We perused through the coolest antique stores I've ever visited, enjoyed the holiday decorations, had a colonial-style feast at a local restaurant, were caroled to by people in period dress while eating, found a bakery selling gingerbread men, and enjoyed the general merry atmosphere. Ed has an office in a WaPost bureau located just a couple blocks off the historic district so we walked over there so I could see it for the first time. It looked a little lonely as he doesn't frequent it as often as the others due to the overall lack of free food. The bureau was empty, but don't worry, we didn't make out in Ed's office with the door locked and shades down or anything like that.

We had a great time together and vowed to do this every year, our own little holiday tradition sans little people who break antiques and don't enjoy fine cuisine.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Middle-of-the-Night Binges

We found our favorite chocoholic autistic son camped out on the cold hard cement floor of our pantry, stuffing himself with chocolate kisses. Based on the forensic analysis of the discarded silver wrappers, he ate somewhere between 10-15 kisses before we hauled him back to bed.

Can't begin to imagine what the damage would have been if we hadn't caught him in the early stage of his binge...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

School Days

Hunters Woods Preschool
November 2008

Asher on Sharing

Papi = Ed

Baba = Me

PAPI....you need to SHARE computer with Baba! Baba no like that. Baba wants to use computer TOO!!! TAKE TURNS!!! First Papi use computer, then Baba. Papi's turn, then Baba's turn. OK?

Yeah Ed...Come on....SHARE!

i think we'll soon be a two laptop family.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Put on Your Genes and Play

Ed doesn't often contribute in this space (at least not yet) but this item was too good for him to pass up...

One of my former colleagues at The New York Times wrote a piece over the weekend about how there is a DNA test that can determine whether your child has any kind of athletic ability.

Yes, for the low, low price of $149, these scientists can determine whether your son or daughter is better suited for "speed and power sports like sprinting or football, or endurance sports like distance running, or a combination of the two" based on how much of a certain gene they have.

(And yes, even the scientists behind this stuff admit it's not 100 percent accurate since it doesn't account for things like motivation, resources or just plain luck.)

Now, we all know about "those" parents who push their kids in a certain direction and we all at one time or another have daydreamed about our kids maybe doing this or that someday.

But I'm curious to hear from other parents about something else: if there was a sure-fire test out there that would be able to determine what your kids were good at, would you want to know?

Speaking strictly for myself, I'm not so sure.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shopping Conundrum

I was not a Black Friday participant this year. Actually, I haven't shopped the day after Thanksgiving since my dad would wake us up in the dark hours of the early morning to go buy socks at Fred Meyers. My father....the millionaire who bought his tube socks in bulk, half-price, at Fred Meyers.

It would be a lie to say I hate shopping, but I do have to be in the right mood. Shopping with hundreds of trigger-happy suburbanites coked up on Starbucks and leftover pumpkin pie doesn't get me in that mood.

This year I finished my shopping before Thanksgiving and pretty much avoided shopping malls altogether. I should be relieved, but what I mostly feel is guilt. I keep thinking that maybe I should be shopping and helping to save people's jobs right now. If people like me aren't shopping, then maybe the economy will collapse even more. But then again, if something were to happen to our jobs, and we had spent money on Christmas and thus had less in our emergency savings .... well, that would be a problem.

And on the green side of things, I rocked it this Christmas. I bought two gifts for the boys used on craigslist. They were practically new, but with no packaging, gas spent on shipping, etc. I even made a couple of small gifts.

Yeah for me!!! My carbon snow print this Christmas will be pretty small. Boo for me!!! I'm putting people out of work as I avoid the mall. Yeah for me!!! I am preserving our savings.

Ohhhh.....what to do?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ice Skating With the Norths

Matt and Jessica

Joanne and Madeline

Noe is blessed with great balance

Asher and his new BFF Madeline

Post Turkey Talk

We had a really fab Thanksgiving this year.....our first in our new home (last year we spent Thanksgiving in LA with the abuelos). Our good friends from Pittsburgh, the Norths, came down to spend the holiday with us.

We started the day with a service project. The community center across the street had a massive canned food drive and needed help sorting and categorizing the food for delivery. It was very well organized .....playing to my anal retentive ways.....and there was a great spirit among the volunteers. We were very efficient and done in about 45 minutes. My kind of service.

Next, we went ice skating in our town's outdoor mall/gathering place. We all had a great time! Noe was pretty comfortable in his skates, Asher less so....and Ed....well....he gave a great effort for his first time!

Somewhere in the day we got dinner ready. We had friends from our ward, the Jensons, over as well....and we seemed to make the crowd work in our little house. Despite my general anti-socialness, Thanksgiving is not a time I like to be alone....so it was good to be surrounded by friends.

Today, we are enjoying one more day with our friends. We will probably hike down to the lake and take them to the Air & Space Museum annex that is near our house. Matt & Joanne's girls have been so great with our little guys and we have enjoyed their company a lot. We will hate to see them go.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm a planner

....not a procrastinator. But sometimes I wonder how far it really gets me.

For example, right now I am in a mad rush to get my Christmas shopping finished and do last minute preparations for Thanksgiving. I'm also working on a couple of house projects and trying to keep up with the boys' constant needs. And reallocating our finances. And working my part-time job. And baking for Noe's classroom Thanksgiving feast....you get the idea.

I am completely exhausted right now and just did some really bizarre things. When I came home from shopping tonight I put my keys up on the light switch. I also purchased two kitchen utensils that I already own, which will require a return trip to the store. And Ed just found my missing curtain-sewing-project underneath his bedroom pillow.

He thinks I need a brain scan....and he wasn't teasing when he said it. I just think I need to focus on one thing at a time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

dinner conversation

Asher, Noe and I are eating dinner when Ed walks into the house from work. We try our best to wait for him but after 7pm, all bets are off....

Jen: I have big news

Ed: What?

Asher: I WANT MORE PIZZA!!! I WANT MORE PIZZA!!! (heard in the background of our conversation)

Jen: (still looking at Ed)...There is another one in the oven!

Ed: (I see him getting very pale... he steps back and almost trips....) YOU'RE PREGNANT?

Jen: NO. The PIZZA'S in the oven. I was talking to Asher....

The leaves are down.....

and we got our first bit of snow the other day.......
I'm thinking that winter has arrived in NoVA.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grandma Goes to Washington

Grandma came to see us last week and we had a fun week playing with her.
On Tuesday, we took Grandma to the Mall. The free Mall...as I like to call it. We walked along the Mall grounds and saw all the popular sights. Grandma had not seen the WWII Monument, so we spent some time there. But we spent most of our time at the Natural History Museum, looking at dead animals and rocks and the Hope Diamond and insects. The highlight was the live butterfly exhibit. Asher and I had already visited it, but we were excited to take Grandma.

I pretended that I actually knew what to do with a camera.....

while Grandma, a closet scientist, had fun identifying all the butterflies.

Asher had much more fun with Grandma than with me that day. Grandma knows EVERYTHING about bugs and rocks. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit any of her scientific genes.

Our last stop at the museum was the live aquarium. There was a large aquarium filled with clown fish. A small army of 3-year olds had gathered around, trying to figure out which one was the real Nemo. A little girl next to Asher shouted, "I SEE NEMO!" Asher, having never seen the movie, replied, "No, it's not a NEMO, it's a FISH!" The girl ran to her mom in tears..... We quickly ushered Asher out before the other kids could ascend on him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Post Post Election Notes

Sorry, I can't get the election off my brain. A few more things....

*We are already getting multiple requests from friends to stay at our house for the Inaguration.....gotta love it! We actually have a waiting list. If I didn't want to be here so much myself, I would totally rent our house out for the weekend and take the family down to San Juan, PR with our extra cash.

*Who said newspapers are dying? The Post sold out their newspaper on the day after the election. They scrambled to print an afternoon edition of the paper the same day and sold those out. I think they are on their fourth printing and the price is up to $10 a paper. I keep telling Ed not to get excited... that this is just her final breath before the Gray Lady finally kicks the bucket.

*I am really disgusted with the criticism that Michelle Obama is getting from some in the media about her recent comments that being a good mother will be her primary focus in the White House. How dare that she delay her own policy agenda while helping her daughters through this life-altering transition! They say she is wasting her intellectual potential, her multiple degrees, throwing away a lot of power and influence, setting back the feminist movement. She will have plenty of time to exert influence if and when she chooses to do so. Choice feminism, people. Look it up.

*My mom mentioned casually that the guy who beat out incumbent Gordon Smith (a wealthy Republican Mormon from the Arizona Udall family) in the highly contested Senate race is from our neighborhood in Portland. I looked it up and sure enough...he graduated from David Douglas and came back after a few Ivy League years and jobs in DC to the old 'hood to run for office. Wow...I can't believe someone from my old neighborhood did so well for himself and then came back! And, although he got some help from the crappy economy, it is pretty impressive he beat Smith with all of his name recognition and money. He must have attended David Douglas High before it was overrun with half-wit jocks for teachers who assign word finds for Biology class and spend their prep periods drawing up new football plays.

Monday, November 17, 2008

my babes

the liberal media elite

(Portland, OR July 2008...at a neighborhood diner)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Time Served

This is where I find Asher after preschool each school day. They keep the kids in a patio area that looks curiously like a jail, located directly underneath the preschool. For the first few weeks of preschool, I would walk over to the scene and just laugh my head off. It was just the funniest thing to see a group of 3-year-olds behind bars, sitting on benches that made their legs dangle in the air, waiting for their mamas to show up and post bail.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home

A Multnomah County judge has cleared a Northeast Portland nude bicyclist of criminal indecent exposure charges, saying cycling naked has become a "well-established tradition" in Portland and understood as a form of "symbolic protest."

Next time I'm home for a visit, I'm totally going on a nude protest ride.... pregnancy stretch marks and all!!!

Maybe I'll protest my stretch marks.

Read the news article here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Housekeeping Tip #2 from Jen

Don't leave a hot iron on your couch. It will leave a horrible burn mark.

Backstory: This summer when I was directing a summer scholastic program, I ended up doing a lot of the building maintenance myself to keep good relations with our Catholic school landlords. I found a genius way to get rid of carpet stains after one of the kids spilled their red gatorade all over the off-white carpeting. Last week I decided to "steam clean" my own couch using the same method to give it another year of life.

So this week we are couch shopping.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

DC Autism Walk

We had a really great morning at the Autism Walk! We were supposed to walk with one of Noe's ABA therapists and her fiance, but she had a last-minute emergency, so Team Noe was the Guzman Four.

The weather was gorgeous....even warm. There was a large, enthusiastic crowd, great speakers, food, music and a resource fair. We forgot our camera, of course, but we took a few pics on the cell phone.

An interesting note from one of the speakers: There is a rumor circulating that Prez Elect Obama is planning to appoint an Autism Czar.

We walked from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial and back. When we got to the Lincoln Memorial, Asher asked, "Is that Obama's house?" And then he answered his own question as we got closer and Asher saw the statue of Abraham Lincoln. "No. Jesus lives here."

Thanks again to all of our friends and family that donated to Team Noe! We were dangerously close to reaching our $1000 goal, which seemed an impossible task just a week earlier.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post Election Notes

*There is such a great feeling in the air since the election on Tuesday. I know that the initial euphoria will end, but it's hard to not love being an American right now and it's hard not to be optimistic that a better future is ahead of us. I can't even imagine what this election means to African Americans. Listening to interviews with former civil right leaders have been among my favorite part of this election aftermath.

*Guess who shed the most tears during Obama's acceptance speech? Well, it wasn't the "hormonal woman" and the boys were asleep if that gives you a clue.

*Speaking of Ed, I think he is determined to make me sick of our president-elect before inaguration by playing clips of his old speeches and interviews non-stop in our house.

*After Obama's acceptance speech, news commentators kept referring to the rush of people who would be headed to Washington. They predicted a lot of talented people who were currently in the private sector, would seek out Washington to lend their hand to the "movement." Something along these same lines occurred during the Kennedy administration. My first thoughts were along the lines of ..... maybe housing prices will finally start to recover for us with all of these people coming! Perhaps I haven't quite caught the vision of the movement yet.

*The only downside to this election for us was the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Rather than write an entire rant, I will just say that we were saddened by this outcome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Team Noe - Reminder

Thanks to all of our friends and family who have already donated to Team Noe. We are really excited to participate in the Walk around the National Mall this Saturday morning!

We are still working to reach our team goal of $1000, so if you would like to still donate, please do so here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just in from East LA....

According to an unofficial exit poll conducted by Ed's Tia Esperanza (she asked everyone in line who they were voting for), East Los Angeles should go solidly blue.

I Voted in My Pajamas

I had a crazy busy day planned today so I got up at 5:45am, pulled on my Nikes and a sweatshirt, and ran over to our polling place to beat the early morning crowd. I thought Ed was a fool for voting early and dealing with those crowds, until I saw the line in front of our polling place. It was dark and cold and I tried very hard to have all of those "proud American voter" feelings one is supposed to experience, but I was grumpy. Especially because everyone around me was holding their free Starbucks coffee and couldn't be happier about spending the first hour and half of their day in line.

Oh blessed mail ballot voting. I was tempted to run back to our house and pull out my senior honors thesis on Oregon's Mail Ballot Voting system and a megaphone and orate to the crowd about its benefits. I am all for democracy-in-action but there is a better way to do this folks!

Now....it's just a matter of waiting for the results. Fingers crossed!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tuesday Travels: The National Building Museum

Last Tuesday, Asher and I spent our day in the District at the National Building Museum, which is tucked between Chinatown and the Capitol.

It would be a lie to say I take Asher into the District on Tuesdays for his own enrichment. The truth is that I still get major boughts of homesickness for Portland. I still feel like I was meant to live my life in Portland....yet I'm here....and it's not a bad place to be at all. Getting into the District once a week is a good reminder for me that I'm really living a charmed life....even if it's not in Portland.

So we get to the Building Museum and I tell Asher we are going to look at the exhibits before heading to the Kid Zone, a huge construction room for the preschool set. We head to an exhibit entitled "Green Communities" featuring....the City of Portland, of course. It highlighted their transportation infrastructure that really should be the envy of every city in America.

So much for my homesickness cure.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Some Post-Halloween Notes

*Teaching the boys the "Trick or treat, smell my feet...." song right before we headed out to go trick-or-treating tonight was not my smartest parenting decision.

*If you are obviously too old to be trick-or-treating, without costume, ring my bell AFTER I have turned the lights off for the night and I am STILL nice enough to give you candy, please don't kick our pumpkins off our front steps as you leave.

*Noe didn't make it inside a single house. That was my small victory for the night. (His latest "behavior" is finding neighbors with open doors and exploring their houses uninvited. Luckily, my neighbors have been really cool about it so far. But holy crap...the stuff you learn about your neighbors as you are chasing your child through their house.)

*Our new Indian neighbor kept answering his door to trick-or-treaters and then had to explain that he had no candy. "So so sorry...." he said over and over in his thick Indian accent. I finally took it upon myself to tell him that he should probably turn his porch light off and close his door if he didn't want to be bothered all night. Poor guy....all of these strange American holidays and customs.

*Ed was so lucky he got to escape to work tonight. Between the sugar-induced tantrums and my sugar-induced headache, I am ready to call it a night.

Happy Halloween...

from our little Mexican revolutionaries!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just Another Asher

I was sad to find the name 'Asher' on another popular baby name list. I guess we weren't as original with our baby names as I thought.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Babes!

To my wife, best friend and partner in crime: Have a happy, happy, happy 29th* birthday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our New Lawn Sign

Ed went down to the local Obama headquarters to sign up for some volunteer hours and to grab some Obama swag. I had requested a lawn sign, but the only one left said, "Asian Pacific Islanders for Obama."

Our neighbors must be so confused!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn in Reston....

has finally arrived.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rock the Boat

With such a contentious presidential election, one thing that campaign officials and ads have been imploring people to do is vote early, if your state allows it. Here in Virginia, that is the case and on Friday, I (Ed) took Asher with me to our regional polling place in Reston. I had to sort of bribe him, telling him we'd go to the library to check out more "train veedos" and return the ones we had right afterward since we were going to be right next door.

Anyway, I figure going to vote a full 11 days ahead of election day, I'll just breeze in and out, we'll go to the library and come back home.

We get there, and parking's impossible. We parked a few blocks away. Then we get to the polling place... and the line is out the door. Who says we're an apathetic bunch? I felt heartened by the sight of Democracy at work. Since we stood in line for more than an hour, me and Asher had plenty of time to talk and I explained to him what was going on. (And to his credit, he was an amazingly well-behaved boy while we waited all that time.)

So I told him, over and over again, that we were going to vote for the next president. He seemed to understand, until about 30 minutes in, he started asking me "we gonna ride de boat?" Apparently, he thought we were waiting in line at a Disneyland ride or something. Once we got to the booths, he saw there wasn't a boat. He was a little disappointed, but he got excited again when I put on one of those "I Voted" stickers on his shirt.

One of my best friends told me of a time she went with her father to the polling place in 1964 when she was three years old. It's not a typical memory, but she remembers it fondly. So who knows, maybe someday Asher will tell his friends about the time he rocked the "boat" with his Papi.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Nature Trail

Asher thinks Halloween is a place and for the past month has been asking me when we are "going to Halloween?" Tonight, I finally got to take him to Halloween. Our neighborhood's Nature Center was putting on a 'spook trail.'

Our second event of the Halloween season. Back in the day, Halloween night we dressed in our homemade outfits, pulled out our pillowcases to haul our candy and spent the night canvassing the neighborhood for goods. These days, it seems like Halloween has turned into a month-long festival with enough commercialism mixed in to rival Christmas!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Timing We Can Believe In

They say life is about timing. Today, I (Ed) got another example of that and got to have a cool experience with my dear aunt, lovingly referred to in these pages as Tia Nanny.
As Jen noted in the previous post, my parents and aunt showed up to visit this week for a quick trip that was practically last-minute. And while I was checking my e-mail before going to bed on Monday night, I got a note that said Sen. Barack Obama would be holding a campaign rally here in Northern Virginia on Wednesday. It took approximately 0.00000003 seconds to figure out how I could juggle my work and take my aunt to see Obama speak in person. The fact that they just happened to be in town when this was announced only added to my urgency to make it work.

A little background: as we've noted on this blog, my aunt is in the tank for Barack Obama. A strong-willed woman, it's safe to say she's the liberal lion of the family. And to her credit, she's been on the Obama bandwagon from the start. My parents were big Hillary fans (my father, in fact, still wonders why Obama didn't pick Hillary for his running mate), so we were a Democratic family divided for a long time. Me and Jen voted Obama in the Virginia primary, and my parents gave me a ton of grief afterward. It really wasn't till Obama gave his acceptance speech at the convention that my parents finally came around.
Anyway, today I cleared my afternoon, worked from home in the morning and then me and my aunt made our way to Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. It was in the car that I told her where we were going. "Excited" doesn't do her reaction justice. She probably could've glided to Leesburg on her own. My aunt, 67 years old, babbled like a giddy teenager the entire trip.
The drive up to Ida Lee Park was quite an experience. Traffic was a nightmare (There was a lone two-lane road to get there, so the last mile took an hour. Really.), but being stuck in traffic allowed for plenty of time to talk and people watch.

And what a cross-section! Young, old, professionals, blue-collars, veterans, with several ethnicities and cultures represented. It made you fully appreciate the scope of Obama's candidacy. This went beyond him being "the black candidate" or "the liberal candidate" or (gasp!) "the socialist," as the McCain supporters at the park entrance kept calling him. This was about people being genuinely excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for our country, about actually feeling optimistic about something in politics.

As they say in "The Shawshank Redemption," hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things.
(And yes, of course it helps to have someone who's charismatic and has a fascinating personal story. I'm sure Dems were not THIS excited about John Kerry, who had the personality of a turnip.)

But on a more personal level, it was great to have this moment and this time with my aunt, who clearly enjoyed herself, whether it was cheering for Obama or sassing McCain supporters. She's been in fragile health of late, so any chance I get to spend quality time with her is a bonus.
We left a little early to beat the traffic but it did not lessen our enjoyment. In a quiet moment while dodging more pedestrians (they were still walking up to the park as we left) I gave a quick prayer of thanks that we got to do this. The impact she's had on my life is too long to chronicle here, but it's profound. Taking her to this rally was a form of thanks that doesn't even begin to cover it, believe me.

And the other thing that made this a cool experience for me was that I know that the guy who gave the speech would've understood. After all, what did Obama do after leaving Leesburg? He suspended his campaign and flew to Hawaii to be with his ailing grandmother, who he's cited in speeches and interviews as someone who's had a profound impact on his life.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Que Sorpresa!

Late, late Friday night Ed called from work....Guess what? My parents and my aunt are coming to visit (awkward pause)....Sunday morning.


I had an autism workshop scheduled for all day on Saturday, and then Ed was working Saturday evening. I had no clue how I was going to get ready for their arrival in time. But Ed did a ton of work on Saturday on basically no sleep....and here we are tonight....so far so good.

While Mama Solis and crew are taking over my house for the next few days, I'll be reading....

Andrew Pham's breakthrough book.....his bike journey through Vietnam and the story of his family's escape after the fall of Saigon......

and working on my knitting project for Love Scarf 2008.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Columbus Day Weekend

Between a day at Chesapeake Beach...

And another day at Cox Farms....

We almost forgot about the Rohoboth Beach weekend that was not.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Financial Crisis versus LA Dodger Crisis

Our investment portfolio has lost about a third of its value in the past year. Our house is now worth 15-20% less than our purchase price. We are probably in for a long and deep recession.

The Dodgers are on their way to tanking in the second round of the playoffs.
Guess which crisis Ed was reacting to last night when he was slamming doors and throwing an absolute 3-year oldesque fit about the whole thing?*
Apparently, he is fine with delaying his retirement by ten years as long as the Dodgers win the pennant.

*in Ed's defense, he waited for the boys to go to bed before he started his tantrum.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Team Noe


Please consider making a donation here.

If you are in the area, we would love for you to join us at the National Mall on November 8. I promise it will inspire you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Hope You Go Bankrupt HELLiday Inn Express Rohoboth Beach

I sure feel like I let down my family right now.

We had planned to spend Columbus Day weekend at Rohoboth Beach, Delaware. Ed looked up our hotel confirmation earlier tonight and noticed that our check-in date was for a day last September (probably the day I made the reservation). I called them, with little hope they had an extra room for this weekend (its supposed to be in the 80s....gorgeous)...yeah...and I was right.

Not only that but they charged me for the two nights in September. I got them to take off the charges for one of the nights, but they won't give me a refund or even a raincheck for the other. I haven't given up....I'm going to make some more phone calls tomorrow. I'm pretty good at getting my money back.

I'm already dreading tomorrow morning when the boys wake up. I know that Asher will be asking about the beach before his little eyes are completely open. I called EVERY hotel in the Rohoboth Beach area and everything is booked. We'll have to make it a day trip.

Man, we sure needed this weekend.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Few Random Notes

We are watching the debate right now and playing a pretend drinking game. When McCain addresses the audience as "my friends" or says "with honor and victory" I have to take a pretend shot. When Obama says "when I'm president" then Ed takes a pretend shot. We are both crazy pretend drunk.


I finished my pajama job yesterday. I was helping to rewrite Kaplan's curriculum. I am so bummed... it was such a great gig. My office was usually the couch, my uniform.... often pajamas and my hours....whenever I felt like working as long as I met my deadlines. Best of all... I didn't have to talk to anyone.


Noe lost his first tooth tonight. I was so surprised...I don't remember losing any teeth until the first grade. It makes me sad that he doesn't have the language yet to get excited about this milestone and look forward to the tooth fairy. But then again, I guess it will save us some money.

How is it that a three year old who calls our television set the "TB" and our portable DVD player the "train box" (thomas the train videos), work both machines better than his mama?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tia Nanny

Read all about our fun summer with Tia Nanny here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rasputin's Vice (and mine, too)

Ever since our trip to Portland in June, I have been craving another Rasputin's Vice from Rimsky-Korsakov, a favorite coffee house in inner SE Portland. So when I was recently assigned to serve a dessert to our neighborhood book club, I decided to make a copycat version. It turned out really good....very close to the real thing.

I used coffee-flavored ice cream, whipped cream, raspberries, chopped up toffee bars and chocolate-covered espresso beans. I served them in the little Irish whiskey mugs I treasure so much from an old friend.

Eating my copycat Rasputin's Vice sent me straight back to that little coffee house -- reserved, cerebral, bohemian, and eclectic -- just like my Portland. I remembered a thousand nights out with my best friends, discussing first college plans, boyfriends....and later husbands, jobs and kids.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Isn't it Supposed to be Fall?

Reston Jazz & Blues Festival
Lake Anne Plaza, Reston VA
great music
good food
and unplanned fountain fun

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Father's Love

Today, Ed came home from work with a bright green balloon for Asher. He called me to have Asher meet him out front for a "surprise." Asher, a big fan of the balloon, thought it was a great surprise and even fell asleep tonight with the balloon string in his tiny little hand. Ed had snagged it from work and commuted home by train and bus holding a bright green balloon with a red string. That mental image has kept me smiling all night, along with all the teasing he got from his fellow commuters.

He also took Noe on a bike ride. He didn't even get out of his work clothes because it was starting to get dark. Ten minutes into their twenty minute loop, they got caught in a huge rain storm. I offered to pick them up, but Ed insisted on finishing the ride because Noe was having a good time. They came back into the house, two happy wet dogs.

The boys don't have a clue how lucky they are to have such a loving and dedicated father....but someday they will.