Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flashback Frenzy

I was a child of the 70s, but many of my all time favorite cartoons came from much earlier. Anyone remember these?

Johnny Quest might be my all time number one fav. I'll still stop and watch it if I see it come on TV.

This one came on back to back with Johnny Q. Loved it!

My first TV crush was Mark, the leader of G-Force. *sigh* So cute. I couldn't help but notice the resemblance between him and another all time fav:

I'm excited they are making a live action movie out of Speed Racer.

Then there was all the super hero cartoons...Spiderman (there was a live action series for Spiderman that I loved too), Spiderman and Friends, The Superfriends, Spider-Woman, Underdog...

Then late on Saturday morning came my live action favs:

For years I thought is was "Almighty Isis". Ah the memory of a kid. Of course, it's "Oh Mighty Isis!"

Shazam! I remember hiding in my room and shouting this secret phrase in the hopes that I would be somehow transformed.

I used to spin like her, too:

Then there was this one:

The 70s was chuck full of super hero goodness. Oh how I wanted super powers. And yes, I realize there a TONS of other cartoons I'm leaving out from the 60s and 70s. I watched a LOT of TV. We could be here for a year if I put clips of ALL of my favorite shows. LOL!

Tricky Tray Today...Hooray!

LOL! Sorry for the title. I couldn't resist.

So, yes. In my new role as PTA mom (except we don't call it the PTA here)...I volunteered to work at Tyler's school's annual Tricky Tray. Until about a month ago, I had NO IDEA what the hell a tricky tray was. I recall seeing them advertised on church and school signs, but would just shake my head and wonder.

Now I've not only seen one in action, I can say I have working knowledge too. (Wonder if I should add this to my dusty old resume?)

No clue how much money was raised for the school, but the 50/50 drawing alone was for $725. I didn't win. Nor did I win the laptop that I bought 20 tickets for (sorry Kim, I tried!) Those were the only two things I put in for. In hind sight, I wish I'd put in for the boy's bike. It was a nice one and Tyler would have plotzed if I won. There were a few other trays that were interesting, but I was too busy selling tickets at one of the "specials" tables to go out on the floor and check things out.

Next year, now that I know how things work, I'll volunteer to work again and get there EARLY so I have time to buy tickets and cruise the floor before they open the doors.

The doors opened at 6:30 and the last tray/prize of the night was drawn at 10:45 pm. A very long night! But not surprising. There were around 250 standard trays to vie for, and 5 tables full of specials (where the tickets cost a bit extra because of the value of the prizes).

I can't wait until the next meeting when the budget portion of the agenda comes up. I expect this little fund raiser was a huge success. Maybe we'll be able to get the new sign for out in front of the school, the new scoreboard for the gym AND the new stage lighting. Maybe even some new playground equipment too!

This fund raising stuff is kinda fun. :-)

ADDED: What is a tricky-tray? OK, let's see if I can explain it in a brief and succinct way. People donate items for the fund raiser in the form of themed "trays". It can be a basket, box or actual tray that contains things like "Movie Night" which would be a DVD, box of popcorn, movie theater sized candy treats, and maybe some other fun item related to the film (wayfarer sunglasses with The Blues Brothers, for example); or "Spa in a Box" with cool massage tools, lotions, slippers, etc. to give you an at-home spa like experience; or "Weekend BBQ" with new tongs, a cookbook on grilling, a gift-cert from a local butcher or supermarket, oven mitt, etc. You get the idea.

There was bowling night, pizza night, mom's night off...not having to cook a meal was quite popular. There was a crock pot with cook book and seasonings; a cool waffle maker with cook book, waffle mix and syrup; baskets full of baby items for new mothers...I could go on and on. They line these "trays" up on long rows of tables and put a number on each one with a corresponding bag hanging on the front of the table. You buy tickets at the door, tear off a stub and put the stubs into any bag in front of any tray that appeals to you. At the end of the night, someone goes around and randomly picks a stub from the sack. If it matches your ticket number, you win the tray! There are special tickets, color coded to special prizes that cost extra, but the process is the same. If they pick your ticket number, you win. Like a massive raffle, really. Sounds fun, right? There was one fellow who won six trays! He got many an evil eye last night, let me tell you.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

American Idol MeMe

I am inspired by last night's episode of American Idol. Here's the scenario:

You are an amazing singer and have the opportunity to showcase your talent on TV. You must pick a song that was popular in the year you were born. What song do you pick and why?

OK. 1966...let's see. Going down the Top 100 list from that year, I pick: You Don't Have To Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield

I like just about every song that was popular from the year I was born, so it wasn't an easy choice. I could just picture me singing that song and doing a pretty good job of it.

Your turn. You can blog it and leave a link here, or just respond in comments. Extra extra credit if you really SING the song and send me an MP3 or post yourself on YouTube.

UPDATE: Donna responded HERE. Thanks Donna!
ANOTHER UPDATE: And she SANG too!!! Come on people, top that!
YET ANOTHER: Liz joins the fun here!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I'm an old school geek... That being said, I do enjoy much of the new-fangled Web 2.0 social media stuff; I just don't have time for most of it. But, can someone explain Twitter to me? Maybe I'm just not the right target for this widget. I can't think of a single person who would be interested in what I'm doing or thinking from one minute to the next. Who has time to update that thing frequently enough to make it interesting? Of what use is it? I guess I just don't get it.

Or maybe I'm too boring and it's designed for people photographers in a war zone? Or famous movie actors in the process of making a blockbuster? I would read Twitter feeds from someone like that. Yeah. But people like that don't Twitter, that I've seen. :-) Instead it's a bunch of dullness like this:

person: I'm tired.
person: I ran out of milk. Need to go to the store.
person: Just got back from the store. Bought a bunch of stuff. Forgot the milk.
person: Feeling congested.
person: It's quiet today. Where is everyone?

Oooo. Riveting!

Updated: OK, I found Wil Wheaton's Twitter feed. His is interesting. So...there's one.

Monday, March 24, 2008

NYC Reunion 2008

What a nice weekend for a trip into the city. At the last minute, the boys decided they wanted to come with me - so my night alone in the city turned into a family fun outing. Off we went!

NYC Skyline
The view from the ramp to the Lincoln Tunnel.

Lincoln Tunnel
Tunnels make me nervous, but it's a pretty cool way to get onto an island. Nothing like the thought of the entire Hudson River flowing right over your head...ulp.

Times Square NYC
One street over from our hotel. For an Easter Sunday, I didn't expect these heavy crowds. Times Square was hopping!

Check out that view
We checked into the DoubleTree right in the heart of Times Square. What a view! We couldn't tear Max or Tyler away from the windows.

How cool is this?!


I met up with Liz at her hotel where we grabbed a table in the hotel bar to chat for a bit. We had time to kill before our dinner reservations. I had the camera with me (the old Canon PowerShot, not the new one) but it just never seems like the right time to ask for someone to take our picture. Really, we were too deeply engrossed in our conversation throughout the evening anyway.

We took a taxi to Craftbar for dinner. It's not often I have the chance to eat food like that. We shared a baby beets with artichoke hearts, blue cheese and candied walnuts salad, followed by an shared appetizer of warm pecorino fondue with acacia honey, hazelnuts and pepperoncini. We split a glass of champagne (Liz thought we had reason to celebrate) and then moved on to the main course. I had veal ricotta meatballs and Liz had short ribs with farro and tokyo turnips. With that we split a glass of yummy cabernet. Dessert? You betcha. We shared a dish of homemade butterscotch pudding with gingersnap cookies. Everything we ate was amazing. Such varied flavors and intensities, my taste buds were in happy shock. A far cry from hamburger helper or spam and beans, eh? ;-)

We lingered over our dinner and wine, chatting about a wide range of topics. My mother doesn't share any of the same interests with me, so it was a nice change of pace having someone to talk with who does. It makes Liz feel more like a friend than a mother figure, to me. She had me so young, in the grand scheme we really aren't that far apart in age. I currently have a few friends her age so it's odd to think of her in "that way". She made me. I wouldn't be here without her. And we have many similarities. It's nice to know where it all comes from. I've always felt different and out of place in my family. I know they love me (and I love them too), but getting to know Liz has really filled a deep void that is hard for me to explain.

Meanwhile, back at our hotel, the boys ate McDonalds for dinner and played video games on the hotel TV. They also paid a visit to M&M World across the street (John bitched about the crowds). Liz and I dropped by after dinner so she could meet the boys, and after chatting for a while longer, she headed back to her hotel to prepare for her busy week (she was in the city on business).

After she left, Tyler came over and gave me a hug. "So, that was your birth mother? The one you met in Second Life too?" My jaw dropped. I was working on the assumption that Tyler just thought Liz was a new friend of mine. Apparently, John decided to brief Ty about who Liz was before we arrived. I was worried that he would be confused, but no. He took it in stride. He knows about his own birth mother, B, and how he came into this world. He seemed pleased that Mommy arrived the same way. One mommy to make us and one (with a broken belly) to love us and raise us. The ultimate act of love and sharing. Life is good.

After getting the boys settled in for the night (which wasn't easy), we all slept fitfully and woke at dawn. After a nice room service breakfast, John and Tyler hit the big Toys R Us again, while Max and I hung out and relaxed. Then it was time to check out and head for home.

What's Playing at the Biltmore
A short drive through the theater district and into Hell's Kitchen and we were on our way.

Hell's Kitchen Park
This park made to do a double-take and dwell on the irony. I still remember the Hell's Kitchen of old (when it was too dangerous a neighborhood to even drive through, never mind play in).

Terrific Tenements
In Hell's Kitchen...this made me bust out laughing. Ironic black humor, is there anything better?

What an Easter this was. Hope you all had fab weekends too.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Did you hear that...?

I heard the distinctive pitter-pat of bunny feet running through my house. Looks like the Easter Bunny has paid us a visit.

We'll see what time Tyler wakes up in the morning for Easter Egg Hunt 2008 - Part Deux. This time the rabbit hid a couple of baskets full of goodies, some gifts AND eggs around the house. We'll see how long it takes him to find all 11 eggs, the baskets (his and Max's) and the gifts. Can he do it this year without any hints? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I'll be getting ready for another Easter miracle. My first face to face meeting with my birth mother, Liz. Now I'm wishing I had time to color my hair and get a trim. How weird is that?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Buyers Remorse...sorta

Thanks to my darling husband (with a small contribution from my parents), I ordered my new camera lens. Yep! The cool Sigma macro/telephoto lens I mentioned a few entries back should be here in a week or so. While I was at the Amazon site, I added a few other items to my order too...some board books for Max, a new spatula, a wireless remote for my camera's shutter, a Nintendo DS game chamber for Tyler (a cool gizmo that will dispense a new game cartridge when he inserts the one he was the games are protected and don't get lost), and a pretty pink protective case for my own DS.

Happy Birthday to ME! LOL

While I am happy about my birthday presents, I'm sad at the same time. We got the news that Tyler's best friend won't be attending summer camp at the old place after all. His mom thinks it's too expensive to send her boys there 2 days a week, even if it will mean Tyler gets to play with his best pal on a regular basis. If Ethan isn't going to K.A. for camp, then it doesn't make sense to send Tyler there. To be honest, I really want to send Ty to a REAL day where he can learn how to swim.

My parents sent me to day camp when I was a kid and it's one of my fondest memories from childhood. All our camper groups were sorted by age, broken into troops of around 10 kids with 1 counselor and 1 assistant, and our troops were all named after birds. I got a swim lesson every day, we played sports, did arts and crafts, had field trips to local amusement parks...and when I was a senior camper, we actually went CAMPING for a weekend. I went every summer from 3rd grade until the summer after 7th. I learned how to paddle a canoe, ride a horse, run a sack race, make a macrame plant hanger, do leather stamping and make my own wrist cuff, oh I could go on and on.

So I started doing some research. My first search on Google led me to Jeff Lake (it was the top result). After surfing around the site and watching the videos (the intro one made me CRY)...I was sold. OMG this place is beyond perfect. Tyler would LOVE it! It's like someone designed a summer camp just for him with all the things he most loves to do. Then I finally found the page where they list the tuition costs. Ouch. OK, so we can't afford to send him for the entire summer, but the half session price was doable, right? So, we'd give up our annual summer vacation. HP had given John a trip to Aruba, even if it's only 3 or 4 days. I can make do with that. But John doesn't agree. See, John never went to camp as a kid. He has no frame of reference and doesn't understand how passionate I am about this.

So I'm in a quandary. The enrollment period is running out...not enough time for me to get a part time job or something. I tried to drop hints in my last phone conversation with my mom, hopeful that she would offer to chip in some of the cost. Nope. She ignored my subtle hints and instead talked about her next big purchase, a new 3-season porch on their house (honestly, there is nothing wrong with the one that is currently there). John refuses to ask his mom (he is convinced she'll think it's a waste of money). So I started looking around at things I might be able to sell on eBay. Naturally, my camera was the first thing that popped into my head (and guilt over spending my gift certificates on that new lens). I have loads of nice jewelry that I hardly ever wear...but I have a feeling that won't bring much cash and it will just take too long to list it all and wait for auctions to close.

*sigh* I'm not ready to give up yet. Any ideas out there on how to make some fast cash?

I've got to think of a way to market my skills. I've been playing around with the idea of offering my photo retouching skills to people who are divorcing. I can remove the ex from all your favorite photos...make it look like he/she was never there. LOL Well, it's a thought.

Now on to other things. Someone asked about the boys' Easter baskets from my last entry. I got them from Pottery Barn Kids. Tyler has had his for a few years, so I really lucked out that they brought the style back again this year (for Max). I just checked the website to link to the baskets, but they are gone. I guess they sold out. There is loads of other cute Easter stuff there, tho.

Now why can't we just win the lottery! That would solve a lot of problems. OK. I'm off to continue being depressed and sleep deprived and sick. Oh when will the coughing ever end!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt 2008

We actually had a nice day last Saturday for the hunt - sunny and in the 50s. Unfortunately, both Max and I were still sick; but we couldn't miss it!

They line the kids up by age, call them up - line by line - to meet the Easter Bunny, and then send them off to designated fields to hunt for eggs. The timing worked out just right. John had time to go with Max to the baby hunt, film the action, and run to the back of the school where the kindergartners were about to start their hunt.

I took a few photos between coughing fits - click here.

Hunt video:

I'm not sure what was going on with Tyler that day. He just did NOT want his picture taken (especially with Max). He was being extremely difficult and even took a slap swing at John who was trying to sit Max down next to Ty (but he ended up hitting Max instead). Not the prettiest family scene and not the best way to finish off a fun afternoon.

Ty has been rather annoyed with Max of late. Max is a handful and he loves to touch and play with Tyler's things. The trouble is, Tyler is a bit careless with his toys, drinks, snacks, etc. He leaves things lying around and, naturally, Max will make a beeline toward anything his big brother leaves within his reach. There is only so many times we can remind Tyler not to leave things where Max can reach them. I think at this point, the only way he'll learn is through repeated frustration over Max eating his chips, drinking his drinks, or chewing on his toys.

Tyler doesn't buy the "He's just a baby" argument any more. He is convinced that Max does things to annoy him on purpose. This is the first volley in the first battle of the ultimate war that most siblings fight in their lifetime. I guess it's my/our job to manage the fallout and try to keep the peace. Just call me The U.N.

[posted amid ear splitting yells of "Max!", "Mommy!!! He ran away with my chips!", "MAX!!! No!!" *howler monkey shreik*, "Mommy!!! He won't keep away from my computer! Make him stop it!"]


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stouffer's Dinner Club

I've been saving up these points for the Stouffer's Dinner Club for about 6 months now (Max loves their frozen lunch items). I did bid on one auction, but didn't win. Here is my problem with this program:

1. You bid on something but you have NO IDEA how much other people are bidding, or even how many people are interested. It's all blind.
2. Someone wins, but they never tell you how many points were used to win the prize.
3. Once you bid, poof, any points you commit to the bid are gone for good.

This month there are some cool prizes. I'd go all in with my points to win the laptop for a friend of mine, but I want to know if I have a snowball's chance in hell of winning. It takes freakin' FOREVER to save up these points.

So, anyone out there on the net who has ever won something from the Stouffer's Dinner Club - PLEASE tell me how many points you bid!

Honestly, why don't they tell you? It's driving me batty!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Geek Humor: The one where I taught my PC to speak.

Back in 1995, I was working for AT&T in their massive Marketing department. I hadn't yet achieved management level and spent most of my days creating mind-blowing multimedia presentations to amuse the executives and try to get funding for various advertising campaigns. My manager liked to nurture my inner geek and rewarded me with a killer computer setup (for the time) to thank me for the millions of dollars I'd helped the organization secure for their various projects. (I may be over exaggerating my importance here for the sake of dramatic effect.)

With my new Intel 486 CPU and fancy SoundBlaster sound card, I felt like I could rule the world! The SoundBlaster came with some additional software goodies - The PC Therapist and an integrated text-to-speech program. PC Therapist was an artificial intelligence program that took the concept of ELIZA (a program written in 1966 that simulated a Rogerian therapist) to astonishing new levels. PC Therapist was smart! It learned from your conversations with it so that it could respond better in the future. Add in that cool HAL 9000 sounding computer voice and wow, it was pretty damn impressive.

After wasting spending time for days chatting with my PC, I started to wonder what I could DO with this cool little program. Could I teach it to respond to certain key words? Yes, I could. Could it learn about and respond to questions regarding AT&T's current Marketing strategies? Well, sorta. Initially I thought about building a whole multimedia presentation around my little AI chatbot, but my PC wasn't exactly portable and there was no way to put all that data on a disk (folks over 30 will recall how little those diskettes could hold).

So I decided to prank my coworkers instead. If I saw someone I knew coming down the hall, I'd turn up the sound on my PC and start "talking" to PC Therapist (I'd say what I was typing so that it sounded like I was really talking to my computer.) They all fell for it! I explained that my computer only understood my voice because of how I programmed it, so they would have to type in their questions manually (naturally I had a microphone on my PC, for visual effect). Word spread that Becky had taught her PC how to talk and people flocked to my office to speak to it.

I'd come back from lunch and find coworkers showing people I didn't know how they could carry on a conversation with my PC. It was hilarious! All these conversations, unbeknownst to my fellows, were being saved to a text file on my hard drive. I could scan through the file and read what PC Therapist had been talking about all day. It was amazing what people would reveal to this program.

Sadly, I had to end my little prank. I wasn't getting much work done because people were constantly asking if they could talk to my PC. I fibbed and said the program crashed and I didn't have time to rebuild it.

Not one person caught on that my PC didn't really have a mind of it's own. They all thought the computer was REALLY talking to them, like a person. They were all bummed and acted like someone had died (I got many pats on the shoulder and words of encouragement.)

So now the truth comes out. Sorry guys. ;-)

I'd pretty much forgotten about this prank until I read that Joseph Weizenbaum, the famous programmer who wrote the code for ELIZA, died recently. It was his work that inspired Joseph Weintraub to create the PC Therapist, which was leaps and bounds more advanced. Mr. Weintraub won the Loebner Prize four times for his program - more times than anyone else has to date. That program sparked a life-long love of chatbots and AI. I still have the AOL Santa and SmarterChild chatbots on my buddy list (go ahead and try it, add SmarterChild to your AIM buddy list).

In my last job before I "retired" I was experimenting with web based virtual assistants - basically an AI chatbot program with a human looking avatar that would provide customer assistance on a website. You could ask it questions about a product or service and it would point you in the right direction, like a real customer service rep. I love being a full time mom, but sometimes I miss my work. I'm still a geek, at heart.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Musings on Max

I've been thinking about Max quite a bit over the last couple weeks. Partly because we are both sick again, partly because I've been meaning to post about this general subject for several days now, partly...oh who cares. Get on with it!

First there are Max's daily routines. The day starts with a sippy of milk in bed, followed by 53,000 stories and a vigorous bed jumping session. (He would jump on my bed for hours if I'd let him.) Once I manage to steer him down the hallway, he pauses to swipe a pair of Tyler's underpants from the clean laundry basket...and he does this:

Don't believe me? Here is a different day:

What a ham! Then it's time for breakfast. Unlike Tyler, I have no trouble finding something Max will like. I just think about what I want for breakfast and make extra for Max. He likes just about everything I like. He's been eating a wide range of foods for a long time, but it still never ceases to amaze me. Scrambled eggs (w/ or w/o cheese), bacon, sausage, pancakes, cereal, milk, juice, toast and butter with jam...not all in one day, of course!

Food. The food thing makes me grin from ear to ear. He likes cottage cheese! He likes yogurt! He likes SOUR CREAM! I mean, really! I didn't touch that stuff until I was an adult. Just the name of it...eww! Who would eat that??? It really is quite tasty. Max would eat it straight out of the container by the spoonful. He will also wolf down anything coated in a sour cream based sauce (like stroganoff or Swedish meatballs). Beef. He loves beef. Hamburgers, steaks, meat sauces, chili, soups... Chicken! Loves that too. Pork! Yep. Fish!!! Yes! How many 17 month olds do you know who love, LOVE tuna salad?

He likes ethnic foods...Taco Bell and the other local Tex/Mex place, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and, er, Australian even! Ahem.

It's the foods he doesn't like that make me say "Hmm." Pasta of any kind. Won't touch it. Salad - I think lettuce is just too difficult for him to chew yet. He loves salad DRESSING however. Pizza. Pizza! Yeah, that one throws me too. He likes to pick off the toppings. Especially Italian sausage.

Why does Max's love of most foods excite me so much? Because Tyler is the opposite. He won't eat ANYTHING. All the stuff I mention that Max loves? Tyler won't touch any of it (except rice from the Chinese place and rice with miso soup from the Japanese place). I won't go into what Tyler WILL eat. That's a different post.

So, back to Max. He likes broccoli! OK, enough about food.

Max also loves music. He is such a joy to watch...he will get up and dance every time I put music on. Any kind of music. He will even dance to TV commercials, if the tune is catchy. He is even starting to sing. I make up nonsense songs all the time and he will add his own verses. It is cute beyond reason!
Max dances:

How cute is that?

I just wanted to note some of these things for the future. So I don't forget how much fun this time of life was.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

RRPC: "A Nice Place to Sit"

I haven't been able to participate in the Round Robin in quite a while, for various reasons. But I didn't want to let another one go by without at least making an attempt.

There was one photo that jumped instantly to mind when I read the topic for this week...

That is Tyler at age 2, sitting on the front porch of the beautiful beach house we rented on The Outer Banks...the first and last time we rented one. I hope we can do it again some day. There was a pair of these rocking chairs and it was so nice (and really comfortable) to sit in the late afternoon, rock, and admire the weather and neighborhood.

Then there is my personal favorite place in the house to sit (other than at my desk):

That wing chair belonged to Grandma. It's right by the front bay window (where we put our Christmas tree every year) and by part of my book collection. You can just see the edge of the fireplace too (to the right of that pillar candle). It's a really nice spot to sit and read in the winter time, with a nice fire going and snow falling outside the window. The boys like to sit on my giant pink velvet floor cushions in front of the fire.

Finally, there are the chairs I've been meaning to blog about since Max's birthday:

These two vintage maple chairs were a gift from my MIL to the boys. Back in the day (1940s-1980s) John's grandfather was a toy salesman. These chairs were part of his inventory at one time. A friend of my MIL restored them after 30+ years of neglect in my MIL's basement. She picked the neat vintage jungle print fabric and made it into cushions. Both chairs used to be rockers, but the rocker rails were badly rotted on the one chair, so she just cut them off. It makes the chair the perfect height for Max to enjoy. Not pictured here is a "love seat" style bench the boys got for Christmas.

I remember having a really nice maple table and chairs when I was a little girl (with endless tea parties) - but kids' furniture like this is really hard to find these days. The boys tell me they love their chairs and they made an excellent addition to our new playroom.

Link List
Tammie Jean
Long Drives To Nowhere

Karen - POSTED!
Outpost Mâvarin

Carly - POSTED!

Eclectic Granny

Letting Crazy Take a Spin

Strong Chemistry

Jan AKA Wammy
The Ellis Family Cincinnati

Lisa Marie - POSTED!
Lisa's Chaos

Nancy Luvs Pix




Suzanne R - POSTED!
Living . . . Suzanne R's Life


Momma - POSTED!
Sandcastle Momma

The Prytz Family


Wise Old Dog

Friday, March 07, 2008

WeAss #206 - It's my birthday too, yeah!

Weekend Assignment #206: Happy Birthday!

Karen's birthday is coming up on Monday. In the grand tradition of the Beatles and her mom, She magnanimously declares this to be YOUR birthday, too. So, what would you like for your birthday? (And no, we won't actually be buying it for you. Sorry!)

Extra Credit: Do you ever tell anyone what present(s) you want in real life?

Actually, my birthday IS coming up soon; March 15th (oooo beware the Ides of March!) So, what do I want for my birthday. Hmm...

A Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM telephoto lens! No, I don't really know what all that stuff means...except that it's a middle of the road telephoto lens that will really let me zoom in close on stuff. Yes, there are better quality lenses that auto-focus faster and junk, but I won't know any better; being a beginner and all. Plus it's on SALE! (I think I'll email this link to my Dad as a big ole hint.)

There is also a Tiffen lens filter set I have my eye on.

Hmm. I might change my mind about that Canon lens. I found another one that is designed just for digital SLR cameras with the same focal length AND it's a combo lens that has a switch to go to Macro. Yeah. And it's only $50 more. I should probably go that way. So I change my mind! I want:

Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO Macro Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Yeah. That's the ticket. Now, all the folks who read my blog who are inclined to actually BUY this for me, hold up a sec. My mom already said she was sending me some money. I have one Amazon gift certificate left to spend too. So hopefully it won't take too much more cash to reach my spending goal...just send money. M'kay? ;-)

With the promise of nice weather on the horizon, I just might finally get my wish of taking a nice camera to the Delaware Water Gap national recreation area. I've been wanting to go on a photo safari there for YEARS. Ooo or High Point State Park! Yeah. There too. Maybe I should add a pair of hiking boots to my birthday wish list, eh? Probably a good idea.

As for the extra credit portion of this assignment, yes. Yes I do. I find that TELLING people what you want for your birthday is often the best way to actually GET what you want for your birthday. Makes sense, no? ;-)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mood Music

Words can't express how I feel I found 2 songs that do:

I first heard this next song when Tyler was a baby - Celine wrote it for her new baby boy:

I cry every time I hear these songs, without fail. The lyrics and music say it all.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Twists and Turns

Let's see...where has life taken me lately? I have hardly left the house since Valentine's Day, but I feel like I've been on quite a trip! So much has happened in the last couple days I hardly know where to start.

I received a call that caught me by surprise...a close relative of J's. Through twists and circumstances, she had just found out about Tyler's existence (and ours) and shared that knowledge with J's mother (who was also in the dark). My apprehension turned to happiness when she related that knowing about Tyler and finding him/us here on the web has been a comfort to the family. She was very welcoming and I was overjoyed when she expressed her desire to keep in touch with me.

Tyler will now have access to J's extended family someday, if he wishes, and that makes me feel better. I also got to see photos of J as a baby and young boy. What a precious gift that was. My heart goes out to his family for this horrible loss.

You all know my life here in my journal is pretty much an open book, but I do intend to continue to keep J and B's family info private. I'm glad B decided to open up to J's family during this tragedy. She needs all the love and support she can get right now.

As I've told a couple people in the last few days...the longer you keep a big secret, the harder it is to share with the people you love.

Now I just need to find the words to express to J's mother. I have her contact info and a strong desire to...say something. Do something. I'm at a loss. To lose a child at such a young age - I've witnessed it before with close friends. On top of that, to find out you have another biological grandchild out in the world...I'm just glad to hear that this news wasn't distressing for her.

As for Tyler - I'm still very sad for him. When I decided to search for my bio-parents, it was one of my biggest fears that my search would end with me finding out one or both weren't alive...that I had missed my opportunity to connect with them. I have a few years to think about what we will say to Ty, but really, there is nothing we can say that will make up for what he has lost.

At least J's family will get to see Tyler grow up and hear about his life. He's an amazing kid and we thank the fates every day for giving us the gift of being his parents.

Monday, March 03, 2008


We got news today that Tyler's first dad (birth father) passed away suddenly. He was only in his mid-20s. I feel VERY conflicted about this news. Mostly, I'm really sad for Tyler...and he has no idea yet of what he has lost. I always expected that one day, Ty might be interested in talking with J about family history, health history, life in general...I don't know. It's like half his roots have just been cut away. B only knows so much about J's life (how well do teenage boyfriends and girlfriends REALLY get to know each other?)

I know J's mother is living, but I've heard some stories about her that make me very VERY hesitant to try to contact her. I also found out that J had another child with another woman only a few months before Tyler was born...a girl (both B and this other girl were pregnant at the same time). He was paying child support for this little girl and, based on his MySpace page, he did spend time with her. I thought about it and decided to contact a friend of both J's and his daughter's mother - to act as a go-between and to try and get contact info for Tyler's half-sister. They are too young to understand any of this right now, but one day they might like to be in contact.

We'll see if the little girl's mother has any interest. I don't know if she even knows that Tyler exists. It could be a really serious shock to her. I didn't want to wait, in case J's MySpace page vanishes. I'd have no way to locate any of his friends.

In the mean time, I don't know how to explain my tears to Tyler. I also still need to contact B and see how she is doing. She hasn't talked about J for a long time. They were living together for a while, but she moved before Christmas and forgot to tell us. I wonder if they aren't together anymore, since J had no photos of her on MySpace.

It's been a weird and horrible day.

Update: We heard from B's mother late last night. Apparently they were still living together and had just moved to a new place. B was the one who found J. She says he just dropped dead on the bathroom floor. No clue why. Hopefully she'll let us know what the medical examiner discovers. There was some talk about liver disease. At such a young age, the implications terrify me!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tyler in the City

The boys are home.

ryanagi's Tyler in NYC photosetryanagi's Tyler in NYC photoset

Here is Tyler's commentary on this weekend: