Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - On Vacation!

Brought to you live from a picnic table at a campground in Vancouver, Canada, here are 13 things we've done so far on our vacation.

1. Flown 10,000 miles, just about clear across the world

2. Visited 2 children's museums, a farmer's market and a beach in San Francisco

3. Seen a show at the Filmore Theater (also in SF). The Poster Room is something else, with 40+ years of psychedelic and other show posters on display.

4. Gone to kindergarten (my 6 year old son, to his cousin-in-law's class, he had a ball)

5. Flown from SF to Seattle, with awesome views of a snow-covered Mt. Rainier soaring out of the clouds

6. Put 9 people in a camper trailer that normally houses just two (but only for a few minutes, it was bedlam)

7. Played "human luge" on a beach at Seattle's Lincoln Park

8. Sent the kids up in a Cirrus (private 4-seater plane) with my dad as pilot, my 6 yr old son as "co-pilot" and my 3.5 yr old daughter as "navigator". Somehow, with all that help, they even managed to land again safely.

9. Ate salmon cooked traditional-style on a wooden plank and fish-shaped chocolates

10. Took a ferry to Victoria, BC for an incredible no-kids getaway for 3 days

11. Saw live wild orcas (killer whales) up close and personal! We even saw a mother teaching her 2 week old calf how to hunt for salmon.

12. Walked across a suspension footbridge 230 feet in the air

13. Stayed far away (me) while my husband and father did bloody oyster shots while I was writing this. Yuck!

Hope you're all having as great a Thursday (late Wednesday night) as I am!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Whoa baby - whales!

Grrr... Trying again to publish this - I wrote the post this morning, it's here, and it's listed as published, but it's not showing up when I view my blog. If anyone's reading this, please leave a comment and let me know you can see it.

Hi all :). We're in Vancouver now, at a campground that is literally right on the edge of the city (looks like a bit of a parking lot, but very centrally located and has a hot tub, pool and playground, so the kids are in heaven). We got here last night so today will be our first day exploring Vancouver. I think we're headed for the Capilano Suspension Bridge first - it's a series of footbridges suspended 230' in the air in an old growth forest, letting you literally walk along the treetops. Sounds great to me.

Jay and I had a fantastic break in Victoria. We stayed at a terrific little inn - very cozy and romantic, hiked, went out to eat, hiked, and even went on a whale watch to see orcas swimming wild. It was incredible - they put us in these bright yellow survival suits (combination warmth and lifejacket) and took us out in an open zodiac boat - we whipped around out there like nobody's business until we got notice that the whales had been found and headed over there (much more quietly of course) to go see them. It was amazing - we even saw a mother teaching her two week old baby how to hunt for salmon! Look here for a trip log of pictures the driver took of our trip on YouTube - Jay and I are sitting in the first row of the boat, I think we're the first two people you'll see.

Whoops, people are starting to wake up. Time to get moving. More later.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sleepless in Seattle

That's not technically true. It's 12:37am here in Seattle and I am in fact exhausted and more than ready to fall asleep, but I couldn't resist the chance to blog from bed our tent the van we are sleeping in. I'm lying on an air mattress in the back of a Chrysler Town & Country the size of a whale. It's actually surprisingly comfortable as a "tent on wheels" and I'm glad we ended up deciding to go for it. I'm even gladder that my kids are happy sleeping in the trailer with my folks, because while this is cozy for two it would be unbearable for four.

We're having a blast here in Seattle. We've been to the incredibly kid-friendly Odyssey Maritime Museum (loads of hands-on exhibits), to a fantastic children's museum, and to the annual Northwest Folk Life Festival (music was so-so, probably because it was the first afternoon of a long festival, with the bigger acts coming over the weekend, but the atmosphere was fun and we did some great shopping at the crafts market) and to an Indian village on an island for a salmon bake and traditional song and dance exhibition. We've also been spending a lot of time with a dear friend we haven't seen in years and have been sampling the local seafood, wine and beer.

We've got one more day in Seattle before saying goodbye to my sister and her family who are flying back to Massachusetts and before Jay and I head out for some much needed grownup time at an inn in Victoria BC. No idea what comes after that, we haven't planned that far ahead yet.

Still no pictures, I haven't had a chance to upload them yet, but I'll hopefully do that soon.

Have a great weekend everyone, wherever you are.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Exploratorium and Farmer's Market and Concert at the Filmore, Oh My!

As you can guess from the title, we're keeping pretty busy here in San Francisco. We've been to the Exploratorium, the oh so wonderful Farmer's Market and tonight we're heading out to see a band I've never heard of (Hot Buttered Rum - friends of Jay's cousins) at the Filmore.

Tomorrow we're heading to the Discovery Museum and then I'm meeting some longtime online friends for a long-awaited and much-looked forward to dinner! Monday Itai will be heading to kindergarten - his cousin's (Jay's actually, but close enough) wife turns out to be a kindergarten teacher and has invited him to visit her class. He's thrilled to bits, and by her reports so are her kids. She said they're particularly impressed to meet a child who speaks two languages (unusual in her school population apparently) and who actually lives in another country and goes to school in the other language.

No pictures yet though, sorry. I won't have access to a card reader until I get to Seattle. (Plus, I haven't remembered to take many, but I'm not admitting to that publicly.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Made it safe and sound

Just a quick note to let you all know we made it safe and sound. Itai and I got in last night after 26 hours of travel, including sitting in the plane at Kennedy for 2.5 hours waiting for some thunderstorms to roll through. After having Itai sleeping with his head on my lap for several hours of both of the last two flights my butt finally went literally numb somewhere over Cleveland and I had to unceremoniously dump him out and go stand up for half an hour until I was able to even contemplate sitting again LOL. We finally made it (though Maya's carseat which I was bringing didn't) only 2 hours later than our originally scheduled arrival. I had a work breakfast this morning (which was lovely) and am now officially on vacation - yay me! Jay and Maya followed this morning, this time without Jay's suitcase which will supposedly show up sometime before midnight.

The travel was long and onerous, but basically fine. Both kids were great on the flights and are now sound asleep after a long afternoon on the playground.

Speaking of sleep, I'm exhausted. More to come once I've had time to do something worth reporting ;-).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sometimes you just have to let yourself fall

One more (post) for the road...

Every once in a great while, you read a book that threatens to suck you in, utterly and completely. A book that draws you into a different world...

Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind is that kind of book. It is a gothic novel full of plot twists and turns, and just dark enough to hold your interest, keeping you on the edge of your seat as you wind your way through all of the 471(!) pages (and in small print at that!). An excellent read.

Sometimes, when a book threatens to suck you in, you just have to let yourself fall. This is one of those times.

Down to the Wire

17 more hours until Itai and I head for the airport. Our luggage is (almost) packed, all those pesky last minute items are appropriately color-coded on my packing list, Maya's stuff is packed and her last minute items are also clearly written down for Jay to bring when they follow us tomorrow night. (Yes, we're traveling separately. We only had enough points for two frequent flyer tickets, so Jay and Maya get the simple easy overnight connections, while Itai and I traipse hither and thither across the globe like veritable jetsetters. At least our tickets were cheap, in an obscenely expensive sort of international air travel way. On the bright side, Itai's usually an excellent flyer and I have high hopes of being able to Read! A! Book!, one Without! Pictures! even, even if we do have a ridiculous never-ending series of daytime flights.)
In the meantime, as I watch the hours tick down, I still need to:
  • Work a full day

  • Finish packing all those last minute items

  • Take Itai to his "Welcome to First Grade" event this evening

  • Pick up Jay's sunglasses from the shop where they're being fixed (we forgot to get them last night)

  • Go to the gym for a last hurrah before heading off (gawd, I must be loopy, this is some piss poor prose - great alliteration though)

  • Feed, bathe, and water the various members of my household (except my husband, he can manage to bathe himself)

  • Order a taxi for tonight

  • Hopefully catch a few hours of sleep before leaving for the airport at the lovely cheery hour of 3am

  • Shoot Shoo away the pigeons that are camped outside my kitchen window making a god-awful racket!
Jay's got a brand new teeny-tiny laptop and a cellular modem, so if all goes well you may not succeed in getting rid of me for the next 3 weeks (oh drat, you mean we need to listen to MORE of her drivel?).
Catch you on the flip side!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

8 Random Things

The lovely She has tagged me for the 8 random things meme, and since not only is it not Mother's Day here in Israel but rather it's just a regular work day, I've got plenty of time to work diligently answer. Here's how it works:

  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Okay, enough rules. What you're really here for is the dirt. So here goes...

1. I can't sing. I REALLY REALLY want to be able to, but I just can't. If the genie ever pops out of my soda bottle that would be the first thing I'd ask for. (Followed by something like happiness for my family and world peace I suppose, can't be too completely selfish. But yes, a really great singing voice would be first.) I used to play classical flute, so I'm not completely musically inept, just in the areas I'd most like to not be now.

2. I have one of the world's blackest thumbs. Plants see me coming and just keel over dead to save time. I can even kill plastic plants. My poor cleaner used to teach agriculture before coming to this country, and cringes in horror every time he sees that my houseplants have obviously not been watered (or heck, even thought of) since the last time he was there. I live in a penthouse, so no big garden to take care of. We do have a lot of largish plants and small trees in pots up on the roof (patio), but we have a computerized drip irrigation system to take care of those. Of course that too works better when we remember to set it properly. We never remember to increase the water when the hot weather starts until some friend comes over and comments on how dry everything is looking, and then of course the reverse is true every fall.

3. I used to speak completely fluent French, going so far as to study medieval French literature in university, but I lost almost all of it years ago when I learned Hebrew. It's as if the brain just switches into "foreign language mode", and whichever language is the closest to the surface is the one that pops out. I can hold a very basic conversation or do some reading in French these days, but it's a struggle.

4. I actually enjoy going on vacations with my extended family (parents, sister and her family). We have a great time together. In fact, we're going to be camping with them in Washington and British Columbia next week after we leave San Francisco. That said, I'm really looking forward to the chance Jay and I will get for our firsteversincehavingkids solo vacation this November. I don't care where we go as long as it's just the two of us.

5. I love stir-frying, especially Thai and Chinese dishes. They've become the standard "what to eat when we have nothing to eat" meals in our house.

6. All 3 of my laundry baskets are cracked. I really need to go buy some new ones.

7. I feed the fish only slightly more often than I water the plants. (Heck, I barely remember to feed the kids, let alone the fish!) That might be the reason we went from having a lovely blue betta fish and three little zebra fish to just one measly zebra.

8. My grandfather was a pilot in the original US Air Corps (before they founded the Air Force). These were the hats and goggles guys (think Snoopy and the biplane) who flew under the command of the controversial "Father of the Air Force" Billy Mitchell. My father and several of his cousins fly private planes, and my younger cousin flies Search & Rescue helicopters off a carrier, doing things I probably really don't want to know about. When my son turned 3 we happened to be in the States, and my dad took him up for a ride on his birthday. He sat him up in the front seat, gave him headphones and set him up with a joystick from his at-home flight simulator, hiding the end of the cord to let Itai believe he was really flying the plane. They even got the guys in the tower to wish "Co-pilot Itai" a happy birthday over the radio. The kid was so excited I don't think his head landed until a week after his body did! To this day he truly believes he flew the plane. The technical side of flying doesn't interest me at all, but I do love to go up as a passenger. I love looking down at the ground and watching the scenery go by. You'd never believe how many swimming pools there are on the East Coast of the US by the way...

That was fun. I'm now going to tag Jen, Jen, Meredith, Mags, Carmen, Janet, FOM and Rachel. This meme has been going around for a while, so just ignore me if you've already done it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Real Mothers Are... (revisited)

I'm reposting this post from March 13th in honor of Mother's Day (which is tomorrow in the US). Ok, I confess. I was actually running it because I wanted a shot at the iPod and chocolates they're giving away over at Real Mom Truths, but I see the deadline was yesterday (story of my life). I figured I'd run it again anyway though. Why not. It's still a good post. Now new and improved even - this time it's got a photo, too.

Real Mothers are Imperfect.

Real mothers sometimes lose their temper. Real mothers don't always serve their children perfectly healthy, well-balanced meals (made from scratch of course). Real mothers still need some "me" time to stay sane. Real mothers have parts of parenting that they don't like. Real mothers can get mind-numbingly bored reading the same book over and over and over and over again. Real mothers don't always look like they've stepped out of the pages of a 1950's edition of Good Housekeeping. Real mothers lose their car keys. Or forget to start dinner. Or sometimes choose to blog instead of playing pokemon cards (otherwise known as the card game from hell). Real mothers can rationalize stealing (and then eating) their children's holiday candy. Real mothers sometimes breathe an audible sigh of relief when bedtime rolls around.

Real mothers love their children more than life itself, and are loved just as much in return, despite, or even because of, all their flaws. Real mothers are you and I.

My daughter practicing to be a real (and therefore imperfect) mother. You'll note that she is carefully feeding her baby - directly into her forehead. (Maybe it helps with brain development if the food doesn't have to travel through the digestive track before arriving at the brain?)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Vacation Memories (May Write-Away Contest)

We are leaving on vacation in just four days. We're flying halfway around the world to spend three weeks reconnecting with family in some of the most beautiful places on earth. We'll be visiting world class cities, spectacular natural beauty, fascinating museums, excellent restaurants... Yet as I try desperately to gather together the thousand disparate pieces of daily life that need to be organized, sorted and packed before a trip like this, I find myself wondering - what will be the moments my children remember? What memories will we be creating?

When they look back on this vacation many years from now I suspect that it won't be the beautiful scenery or the wonderful museums or the glittering cities that they remember. I suspect that what will stay with them the longest are things that I can't even begin to guess at as I sit here at my computer.

Maybe it will be an afternoon spent blowing bubbles, or getting caught in a rainstorm, or the day we burned the dinner. Maybe it will be riding on a ferry, or roasting marshmellows over a campfire. Or maybe it will just be using a coin-operated washing machine.

It's the little unexpected moments that we weave together to form our memories. The trip to England where we got stuck in a railway car full of drunken female rugby players who sang "Allouette" for 6 hours straight. The silver and turquoise ring that I bought on a trip to New Mexico at age 7 - my first purchase with my own money. Sailing leaf boats in the Delaware River for hours on end. The time the motorhome got stuck on the cottage driveway. My mother trying to explain a mechanical problem with a rental car in France, when all she could manage to say to the mechanic was "chugga chugga". The Hungarian couple on the train to Florida. The cute waiter in the restaurant next to the souffle place in Paris who treated an awkward 14-year-old me like a beautiful woman...

These are some of the things that come to mind when I think of vacations I've taken over the years. The chateaux and the castles? Beautiful, but they eventually run together. The hikes? Same thing, unless I recall how very sore I was after hiking the 18 kilometer Samaria Gorge in Crete (all downhill - deceptively easy, leaving me feeling very betrayed when I could barely walk the following day). The museums? Room after room of beautiful art, but which painting was where? It's hard to remember now.

In the end, it's the little moments that make up our memories - of our vacations and of our lives.

As I write my packing list, I wonder which memories will be the ones we take away from this trip. When my children sit and reminisce many years from now, what will they remember?

Whatever the pictures woven into their memory, I hope the common thread that unites them is one of love, of joy in spending time with family, and of the wonderous feeling of endless possibilities awaiting discovery.

This post has been submitted to Michelle's May Write-Away contest. The theme this month is "vacations".

Thursday, May 10, 2007

TT #15 - things that have to happen before Tuesday night

Those of you who've been reading my blog lately will notice a pattern here...
13 things I have to accomplish before we leave on a 3 week vacation to the States Tuesday night:

1. Return the library books
2. Submit my timesheet
3. Clean out the fridge
4. Do all the laundry
5. Stop the mail
6. Sort out my tax issues
7. Bring the fish to the neighbor's
8. Do a week's worth of (part-time) work in just 2.5 days - both this week and next
9. Copy down all my key internet bookmarks so that I can blog and read from Jay's new laptop, assuming it gets configured correctly and actually works there
10. Find the contact information for my boss, who I will be meeting briefly for the first time next week
11. Sort out camping equipment - what to pack, what to borrow there, what to buy
12. Go nomail on a very busy e-mail list so the 80 million messages don't clog up my whole box
13. Did I mention pack for all of us for a 3 week vacation????
Sadly (and stressfully - is that a word?) there are still more items that have to be dealt with - I haven't even told you about Itai's "Welcome to First Grade" event we need to attend, or the cake he needs to bring to kindergarten Friday morning (he's "Father Shabbat" this week), or the new little toys I need to buy for each kid to keep them busy on the airplane, or... I could go on and on, but if I listed them all this meme would have to be called the Thursday 8,423,864,296!
Mumbling under my breath *I will find my zen place, I will find my zen place, I will find my zen place*

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I think my head might just explode

I feel pulled in so many directions right now - family, work, LLL, private lactation work, birthday parties, children's activities, household stuff, not to mention the hassle of packing for a 3 week trip to the US and Canada...

I'm trying to stay on top of it all, but right now it feels like there is a significant chance that my head is going to fly right off my neck and explode in a messy ball of goo (that i will then have to clean up of course).

On top of all of this I've got fantastically witty blog posts waiting to be written, and ideas percolating for Michelle's latest Write-Away contest (the theme is travel this month - how appropriate. Not that I think I'll actually have time to write an entry, but a girl can dream can't she?), and, and, and...

I really need to just buckle down and get to work. My paid work that is.

On second thought, I need to have a shower. I've got an LC consult in two hours that could get moved up, and I need to be ready.

Ok then, it's decided. I'll have a cup of coffee.

WFMW - Buying Bananas

It's that time of the week again. Here's mine for this week:

When you buy bananas, instead of buying a large bunch, buy several smaller bunches at varying degrees of ripeness. That way they won't all ripen (and then rot) at exactly the same time and you'll be able to enjoy perfectly ripe bananas for longer.

And since my husband worked in the banana fields back when we lived on kibbutz, I'll throw in a second tip for free. Look for fatter bananas. The fatter they are, the tastier.

For more helpful tips check out Shannon's Rocks in my Dryer.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

You almost got a really great post, but you didn't

I am so freaking aggravated.

I had a big long post written out - festival highlights (Itai was fine by the next morning and we all had a blast), a few gratuitous shots of my kids sitting in the audience on beach chairs eating ice cream, and an explanation of the Lag B'Omer* holiday that we rushed back for so that Itai wouldn't miss the bonfire his friends had organized, a link to another blog I stumbled across that had incredible pictures of the bonfires, showing how many of them reach several stories in height (yes, really)... In other words, a post full of interesting tidbits and a colorful slice of Israeli life.

Why aren't you then reading it? I'm glad you asked...

Because blogger in its infinite wisdom decided I was a spybot or a virus and ATE. MY. POST. and locked me out of my account for the entire freaking evening! Gone. Poof. Vanished into the ether, links and all. Instead you're stuck with this very pissy and annoyed rant, which doesn't even have any pictures because I don't dare try to put them in right now. Sorry, you're stuck with this.

And to add insult to injury my Rangers just got their asses handed to them by the Buffalo Sabres and are now out of the playoffs, during a game which I had to listen to over the internet because it wasn't being broadcast within 5,000 miles of this hockey-forsaken country.

Bah humbug.

* (taken from Wikipedia) Lag Ba'Omer in modern Israel is a school holiday. Youngsters and their parents light bonfires in open spaces in cities and towns throughout the country. Students' Day is celebrated on the campuses of the various universities. Hundreds of weddings are held on Lag Ba'Omer and this adds to the festive character of this holiday.

In Israel, one knows that Lag Ba'Omer is drawing near when children begin collecting wood boards, old doors, and anything made from wood that can burn. This happens from a week to 10 days before Lag Ba'Omer. As Lag Ba'Omer approaches, the situation gets to the point where building contractors have to employ extra night watchmen to make sure that wooden planks and scaffolding are not taken by the eager youngsters. And, of course, the fire department is kept very busy on Lag Ba'Omer eve when the bonfires are lit and where the danger exists of fires getting out of control.

PS Going to be away at a conference for the next two days with no computer access.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #14 - Jacob's Ladder

We're leaving tonight for one of my very favorite events of the year - the annual Jacob's Ladder Folk Festival. This wonderful outdoor festival has been going strong for 31 years now. Jay and I started attending sometime back in the early 90's, first on our own and later with one and now two kids in tow. It's a great music festival, made all the more fun by being incredibly family-friendly. It's a central event of the Anglo (English speaking) Israeli community - a real slice of "back home" on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (whether that home is the States, England, Australia, Canada, or any other English-speaking country, or even if it's just your ancestral home).

Many families will be pitching their tents. We've given that up temporarily and have taken a hotel room (on-site) for two nights so that we can relax and enjoy the pool and beach on Friday before we start rushing around from stage to stage later in the day. The whole hotel/inn/grounds complex is taken over by the festival, which really contributes to the unique atmosphere. The rooms on either side of ours will house our good friends, and we made sure to request ground floor rooms so that the kids can easily play together on the lawn.
By the time most of you read this, I'll be on my way. See you Saturday night!

Before I go, I'll leave you with this:

13 things that make Jacob's Ladder so special:

1. The setting

2. The music - the full range of Anglo folk - everything from Irish to bluegrass to 60's protest songs to homegrown singer-songwriters to Renaissance guitar performances, and a whole lot more

3. The company - we'll be with literally hundreds of friends, some of whom we only see at the festival

4. The main stages are all outdoors and everyone sits on blankets and beach chairs to watch the shows

5. The informality of it all - this is a real t-shirt and sandals kind of event, even better if it's a vintage tye-dye or a batik sundress - just my style

6. Lots of great kids' activities

7. My son can move from activity to activity on his own or with friends and I can rest easy that he's safe and happy (this is the only place in the world that he gets that degree of freedom). (And in a few more years my daughter will be able to join him - what will mom and dad do with all that freedom?)

8. The pool - JL is usually our first dip of the season

9. The weather - hot and sunny all day, cool at night. The festival used to be held the first weekend in July, which was unbearably hot in the Jordan Valley. This early May date is MUCH nicer.

10. The way my kids will (eventually) just fall asleep on the blankets during the concert, leaving us free to enjoy the music until the wee hours

11. Amazing jam sessions that go on until 4 or even 5 in the morning

12. The fact that we're not camping this year - which means I don't have to pack loads of food or take time away from having fun to cook!

13. That wonderful "coming home" feeling - of slipping back into something as comfortable as a soft fuzzy slipper.

What are your plans for this lovely spring weekend?
(Ugh, my son is now sick. He'll be spending the day in bed and we'll hope for the best. It's looking like he'll may have to spend some time lying around in the hotel room watching tv while we take turns staying with him. Hopefully he'll feel up to at least resting on the grass a bit so we can catch some music... Any and all "get healthy quick" vibes you can send his way would be appreciated. Wait a minute, hold on, he just slept until 10:30 and woke up happy and fever-free! Keep your fingers crossed everyone!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The things we do for love

And not even my own love! Total strangers' love. To put it more simply, my husband's boss's stepson (did you follow that?) is getting married on Tuesday night and I was stuck with nothing to wear.

I didn't want to go out and spend a lot of money on a dress I'd never wear again, so I decided to dress up a more casual dress with heels and a shawl instead. It's a great summer sundress - solid black, knit cotton tanktop type bodice and free and flouncy skirt. The top half was a bit too casual for an evening wedding though, so I bit the bullet and did something I swore I'd never do again.
I bought these:

In case you can't tell from the picture, those are 3 inch stiletto heels, and backless ones at that. I am absolutely going to break my leg in these things. It's been literally 20 years since I've worn shoes like this. I'm all about comfort - give me flats or platforms any day. I spent a full year of high school in stiletto heels in an effort to at least reach the navel of my 6'5" boyfriend. When he dumped me and went off to college I dumped the shoes and swore never again. And as I got older, I realized that I just don't enjoy suffering for the sake of fashion, or for a man. It's just not me. Don't get me wrong, I love cute shoes, but they have to be comfortable.

This is all a very long-winded way of saying that these shoes were a real sacrifice on my part. My only consolation is that they were very expensive and well-made shoes on sale for a pittance. So cheap in fact that I couldn't possibly justify spending two and a half times that much on a much more comfy looking equally high but much wider heel. And they do look damn good with the dress. Everyone needs at least one pair of come hither shoes in their closet, right? (And in the interests of humiliating myself publicly for the sake of blog honesty I will confess that I actually wore them around the kitchen yesterday afternoon as I baked cupcakes for the kids so that I could practice a bit and hopefully lessen the chance of a total wipeout on Tuesday. Thankfully no papparazzi were lurking in my cupboards to catch me in the act!)

On the bright side, the purchase made me eligible to buy these for just $11. I suspect they'll be getting a lot more use than the black ones. In fact, I'm wearing them right now...

WFMW - frosting faces

This is more of a pre- or post-birthday tip, but it's something I remember very fondly from my own childhood. If you've used decorating frosting or piping gel (the stuff that comes in those tubes) to decorate a cake, save the last bit and use it to draw smiley faces on your kids' palms or fingertips - a surefire way to put a smile on their faces as well, and loads of fun to lick off.

And here are a few bonuses for you since I love decorating cakes and really enjoy all the effort it takes to do something special. I have terrific memories of my mother making special birthday cakes for me, and am thrilled to be passing that along to my own children. They've taken it quite to heart, too, and will spend hours flipping through my cake books trying to decide what they might want for their next birthday, even if that birthday is still months away!

If you're looking for a super-easy cake decorating idea, I posted this one a few months ago. For more advanced inspiration (read: takes work to make) here are a few others I've done (scroll down for pics).
Check out Rocks In My Dryer for more great birthday tips.