Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hannah & Harry

       When the Harry Potter craze was at it's peak, it pretty much passed our family by. The girls were into books about ponies and tweenie girls, not magical boys. Dino was the only one to read the entire series, and loved it. He kept encouraging me to read it out loud to the kids at bedtime, but other books would capture their interest more, and we ended up putting Harry at the back of the pile. 
Then out of the blue, right after Hannah's 11th birthday, she picked up the first book and started to read it on her own. And she read, and read, until pretty soon she had completed it and immediately picked up the next one. And then the next one. In the month of October she read the first 3 Harry Potter books! 

We were on vacation pretty much all of Nov. so she didn't read book #4 until Dec., and then #5 & #6 throughout Jan & Feb. Cold weather has made it easy to want to stay in and snuggle up with a book, which is great because she is consumed in the story. She wakes up early to read before school, and has even snuck in a few chapters at night after "lights out". 
Now she's on the last book and is facing the realization that the series is almost over. She's in turmoil trying to decide if she should read fast to know what happens, or to read slowly and savor it. She fluctuates daily, poor thing. I know exactly what she's going through, as I was an avid reader at her age as well. I spent hours reading Little House on the Prairie and Ann of Green Gables, etc. Those stories and relationships become such a part of your life, of who you are. Good books make good friends. 
I am so proud of Hannah for delving into the world of literature. Before this she read often, but this experience has transformed her. Nothing has touched her imagination, or her soul as deeply as these books. They are now living, breathing objects to her. I am so grateful for such a vivid and complex book series that has captivated her imagination for the past 6 months. I'm sure she will always look back at this period of her life fondly. So thank you, J.K. Rowling, for touching yet another kid's heart.
Now, what do I offer for her to read in the post-Harry Potter future? What compares to this in richness of characters and entertaining action? Any suggestions??

Inspiring thought for the day

14 years ago I picked up a book by Deepak Chopra called, "The 7 spiritual laws of success". Recently I dusted it off and began re-reading it. It has some really great insights in it, and I thought I'd share one that struck me last night.

We will remain unfulfilled unless we nurture the seeds of divinity inside us. In reality, we are divinity in disguise, and the gods and goddesses in embryo that are contained within us seek to be fully materialized. True success is therefore the experience of the miraculous. It is the unfolding of divinity within us. It is the perception of divinity wherever we go, in whatever we perceive-in the eyes of a child, in the beauty of a flower, in the flight of a bird. 
When we begin to experience our life as the miraculous expression of divinity-not occasionally, but all the time- then we will know the true meaning of success.

I thought that was a beautiful expression of who we are, and why we are here on this earth.

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

25+ Random Things About ME:

Since I've been tagged several times on Facebook to create a 25 Random Things about Me, I thought i would add it to my blog as well. In fact, I'll add a few more that weren't in the original post.

1. I worked on a salmon fishing boat in Alaska for a summer in order to pay for my mission.

2. I met my husband when I was 6 years old. (No, it wasn't an arranged marriage. We were neighbors.)

3. I was a pitcher for my high school softball team.

4. I moved out of my parent's home when I was 16. I lived with my older brother through high school and some college.

5. All of my children were over 10 lbs. We had to return all the newborn diapers & clothes.

6. My kids were born c-section. (refer to #5 for part of the reason)

7. I used to own a line of scrapbook and paper products. After 3 years I got burned out and didn't renew my licensing agreement.

8. When I was a teenager I had a horse. One good thing about living in the rural desert.

9. My first job was working at K-Mart as a cashier. (Hey, at least it wasn't fast food!)

10. My husband proposed to me in a hot-air balloon ride over Temecula vineyards at sunrise. Very romantic.

11. I'm left-handed, but can only cut with scissors or throw a ball using my right hand because when I was little teachers were still trying to "fix" lefties and force them to use their right hand. Go public education!

12. I've been a massage therapist for 14 years, but now mainly only trade other services for it, like; haircuts, chiropractic,kids' tutoring, etc. Very convenient skill to have if I do say so !

13. Dino and I had our first kiss at Disneyland.

14. My favorite color has always been green. It's the color of my eyes. It's through out my house. Love, love, love it.

15. I have a red house! It sounds shocking, (my mother was perplexed when I told her), but I live in a community inspired by vintage, turn- of- the- century homes and it's a beautiful craftsmen design.

16. I have my realtors license but I'm inactive right now. Why would I want to work in this market, right?

17. I love to snorkel. We went on 2 Carribean vacations this year and I am hooked on the warm, tropical water. I want to go back!

18. We are planning to take the kids on a one year RV trip around the U.S. soon. If we don't kill each other, it will probably be one of the most rewarding things we'll ever do.

19. Two years ago I pulled my kids out of public school and started homeschooling them. No, I'm not one of those religious fanatics, nor do I live on a compound. Just want to give them MORE of alot of things... More info, more independence, more diverse learning styles, etc. So far, I have kept my sanity, and I've learned stuff I never knew.

20. I love to read. But when I start a book, or series, I like to finish it quickly. Dino didn't enjoy it when I went MIA and read the Twilight series in 6 days. He's patient with my reading quirks :)

21. I was one semester shy of getting my bachelors in Elementary Education from NAU, but dropped out to move back to Ca. and marry an actor and go to massage school. It was the best decision of my life.

22. I have attended some personal development seminars where I've had the chance to eat fire, walk on broken glass, break boards, etc. Very empowering.

23. I make a great spaghetti sauce. (I learned some tips in Italy.) Dino loves it so much that I call it my "insurance policy". He will never leave me cuz he loves this sauce so much- lol!

24. I will be 47 when my last kid graduates from high school. Dino and I plan on doing a couples mission, humanitarian work, and traveling the world once they leave.

25. If I ever embark on a new career, it would be in photography. I'm a hobbyist now, but would love to incorporate travel, volunteerism and photography in some way... someday.

26. Dino and I are movie junkies. We love to go to the theater at least once a week, sometimes more. Usually we go in the middle of the week, in the afternoon. Perfect for beating the crowds, screaming babies and cell phone violaters.

27. I was Dino's model when he went to Special Effects & Beauty Make-up school. Which means I have pictures of me with heavy wrinkles, scars, bullet holes, and fanciful butterflies (ala Vegas Showgirl) It was a fun time.

28. I never plucked my eyebrows until I was 23 yrs. old. Refer to #27

29. My mother-in-law made me wear Lee Press-On nails at my wedding. I'm still haunted by it. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to forgive her. Other than that incident, I love her.

30. I have a thing for McDonald's Diet Coke. My husband calls it an addiction, I like to think of it as a passion. It just tastes better than out of the can. It's creamier/smoother. I heard it's a special formula made just for McD's. Either way, I love it. But I need to wean myself off, so when they create a DCA (Diet Coke Anonymous) group, I'll be there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hayden's first Pinewood Derby

I don't know much about the scouting program. My brother never did it. Dino only did a little when he was a kid. So now as a mother of a scout-aged boy, I find myself in a land of merit badges and oaths to memorize and other tasks foreign to me. It's been a crash course into a world I never knew. A world with more depth than I ever imagined. That being said, it's been a fun, bonding experience for Hayden and I. I am a somewhat organized person, and I love lists. The scout book definitely has a lot of lists to check off, so I dug right in and started working on his achievements with him when he started the program back in May. 
Then the Pinewood Derby rolled around and I immediately passed it off to Dino. I
 think it's definitely a father/son kinda thing. I had no grand hopes of Hayden having the fastest, most tricked out car, I just wanted it to be decent. Finishing in the middle of the pack was fine by me. It's our first year, I had modest hopes. My biggest fear was Hayden crying as his block of wood on wheels slowly limped down the coarse, dead last, while his friends smirked. Or that the other dad's would be such zealots that no matter what we did, it would never compare to the semi-professional masterpieces that they created. 
I wasn't sure how immersed Dino would get into the project as he's not the mecha
nically inclined type, didn't build them when he was a child, and he's had a lot of stress with work lately. But I have to say, he did a fabulous job!
The first step was to go to Uncle Hugh's hou
se and get all the tips and tricks of how to build a decent car. Hugh has 3 older boys and could show my guys the ropes. However, Hu
gh was more helpful than we could've imagined! He took the guys over to a friends home and used his workshop to carve the car's shape out of the block of wood. He dug the holes in the top for the weights to fit in, and gave a bunch of tips on building a car. I'm sure we could've gone there several times in order to glean all the secrets he knew, but one afternoon was enough to get them started. Besides, Hayden's got a few more years of this race to perfect his car. 
They spent a couple afternoons painting, sanding, adding weights,etc. Dino made stickers using labels and our printer. It turned out pretty darn cute for their first attempt. 
On the night of the Derby, the boys were so excited. A lot of families showed up to support them. The races were done in heats, leading up to the semi-finals and then finals. It was nice that every boy got a chance to race in multiple heats. And even though there was a range of styles and abilities, no car was far superior to the others. No over zealous dads either. It was a good competition. Hayden's car, the Mach 8, placed 2nd in two heats, 1st in two heats, and then 3rd in the finals. He was thrilled. 
At the end there were twinkie cars and certificates given to every boy. It was a fun first experience for dad & son. Hayden is already planning a new design for next year. Dino is reluctant to even think about working on another car. But secretly I think he enjoyed it more than he let on. And when next year rolls around, I bet he'll be back on board creating not just a spectacular car, but a great tradition with his son.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Joining the global conversation

How do you start a blog? What's the first thing to say? It's all archived, so people can read your words, either brilliant or lame, for generations to come.
These concerns have kept me from starting my family digital journal. But no more. There are things in my life, my family, and the world that I want to record and remember. So here goes....