msLaura: Modern Mama Laura Hamilton + Dan Baker = Julian Hamilton Baker & Adrian Hamilton Baker "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
- Adrienne Rich

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What have you done?

Wrapping it up

Snowy trail at Long Ridge

Christmas tree run

Sleepy in Saratoga

A birthday surprise

Watch out for cone-head baby

Double jumpers on a rainy day

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39 years

Hmmm, maybe I should cancel those FedEx pickups.

Julian shows how he can even *sleep* on the bike.

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December 31, 2008

What have you done?

Here's a new meme that I got from Steph. Feel free to use it on your own site if you like.

I've bolded all the things that I've done personally...66 out of 100. This makes me think that I should create a list of all the things I'd like to do that I haven't done yet.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (yes, I played the tuba my freshman year of high school)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (yep, my grandmother lives in Anaheim)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (sure, plenty of times, not sure if it needs to be formally in a band or anything)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (yes, from bad oysters in North Beach...it was HORRIBLE)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (not on a cruise ship, but on our family sailboat, yes)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (hmm, been to England, Scotland, France and Germany, but not Norway)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (yep, French and Spanish)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing (zero desire to do this)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa (Morocco)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (today!)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class (not yet, but I have major plans to learn Krav Maga at some point)

59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (yep, I'm B+)

65. Gone sky diving (no desire to)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (still have Blueberry Bear, the only stuffed animal I ever cared about, who was actually my Mom's bear when she was a girl)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (yes, at age 16, for selling hats and pocketing some of the profits. Bad girl!)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (nope, couldn't get past all the sex and violence!)
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life (and also almost took someone's life, once upon a time...but he really deserved it)

90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (but not very impressive)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

December 29, 2008

Wrapping it up

I have been slacking on the blogging lately, because honestly? It's a whole lot easier to just update my Twitter status than it is to sit down and hammer out coherent thoughts at length.

Plus my hands and wrists are BEAT UP from all these years of working at a computer, so I'm trying to limit my keyboard time. Just ordered a new keyboard last week, so hopefully I can update my poor ergonomics and sit at a decent workstation setup again. Laptops are very convenient, but they are MURDER on your body. If the keyboard is low enough to not inflict damage on your wrists, then you will have to look down to see your screen and kill your neck as a result. Move the screen up to the perfect viewing height and now your typing fingers are up by your chin. It's impossible to work safely on a laptop for any length of time. Guaranteed to destroy your body eventually.

I am recovering from the Christmas holidays. Already took down the tree, it was shedding needles like mad and Adrian finally pulled it over. Goodbye! I was feeling guilty about not putting up the Christmas lights outside this year, but hey, it sure does work out in the long run! No need to take them down now. Hooray!

This year Julian got a totally sweet bike for Christmas, which is what he wanted. There was some drama first though, before the happy ending.

I went to our fave local bike shop and had this Electra Mini-Rod all picked out (except no training wheels):

but then the bike shop dude on duty said, "Hey, for a 5 year old you should get the Rat Rod instead."

It looked big, but I didn't have Julian there with me (the surprise element, you know), so I wasn't sure. I figured the bike dude would know. Except he doesn't know that I have a very petite *almost* 5 year old, and that makes quite a difference.

The Rat Rod was super cool-looking, so I snapped it up and put it in the car, thrilled that I had such a great present for Julian. Then I found a really nice drum set for Adrian, the kind that you can sit at and play, with a foot pedal and cymbals and everything. And I was done! Two big presents, that was all I planned on doing, because last year I got a bunch of little presents for the kids and half of them broke within a month and the other half morphed into the Least Interesting Items Ever to my kids within the same time frame. Waste of money and resources.

Best quote from Christmas Eve came from Dan, who wins the award for "Unclear on the Concept". We had just gotten back from a lovely dinner at Firat and Martina's house with lots of wine and food, and put the kids to bed. I asked Dan to bring in the bike and the drum set from their secret hiding location in his office so that we could set it up under the tree and he said (drum roll please)......

"Oh, I'm too tired to bring that stuff in here tonight. Can't we just do it tomorrow morning?"

GONG! Sorry, Jewish guy. You need to go back to remedial Christmas 101.
I set him straight on the whole "finding presents under the tree, not waiting for late-rising Dad to bring them inside after he has a cup of coffee first", and he brought the stuff in.

Christmas morning came and Julian was all over it. "Mommy! There's a bike next to the tree! It's for ME! And a drum set for Adrian!"

I rolled out of bed, made sure that everyone went potty first (no puddles of excitement on Xmas morn, please) and then we set out to investigate. Julian was in awe of his bike, but D'OH! He could not get on or off of it by himself. I'd call that a major safety hazard. He could pedal OK, with the seat at its lowest possible level, but couldn't straddle the bar. UGH.

He was a real trooper though, and wasn't too disappointed. Also, it was raining cats and dogs outside and gusting enough to blow the bamboo in our front yard almost completely horizontal. So not much of a bike riding day. Still...it would have been nice to have the RIGHT SIZE BIKE, and I was kicking myself for just going with the flow and not sticking with my original choice.

We unpacked Adrian's drum set and it was a big hit, except that the freakin' FOOT PEDAL for the bass drum was missing from the box. I was envisioning going back to ToysRUS and explaining to a brain-dead customer service person about how the foot pedal was missing, and asking for *just* the foot pedal, and trying to wrangle that, and I was not pleased at the notion. Luckily, Adrian totally did not care. But I was bummed.

At this point Dan came out and started playing with the kids and their defective/dangerously oversized toys, and he noticed something that I did not....a puddle of rank liquid DOGSHIT right in the middle of our white, fluffy, wool rug. The ONLY rug in the living room, I might add, and a small one at that. Our dog has lived with us for over five years now, with not one single accident in the house, but when he *does* decide to blow liquid mud indoors in the middle of the night? He chooses the single spot where it is guaranteed to be the most difficult and disgusting to clean.

So then I spent about 45 minutes gagging and dry-heaving while spraying poo pudding out of the carpet and dousing it with enzyme treatment. Foul utterly foul. Thanks for *that* Christmas gift, you lousy beast. Yeah, your tummy was upset, whatever. NEXT TIME CHOOSE THE HARDWOOD FLOOR, IT'S EVERYWHERE. What a dick maneuver, crapping on that white rug. Asshole!

We had a lovely Christmas Day feast with my cousins Anni and Hana, Firat and Martina and their daughter Claire.

A big ole crab feed with mussels and fresh-baked bread and stuff. The crab was not nearly as good as it has been in the past, so I was kind of pissed about that, because hello, it's XMAS and it's supposed to be THE BEST EVER, but oh well. The company was good.

The next day we went to the bike shop to exchange the bike, but they were closed. Major upset for Julian. Sorry kid. So we went to ToysRUS to get the missing foot pedal for Adrian's drum. I was really dreading that whole procedure, as I mentioned. When we walked in I had a bright idea and went over to the music section. There in the middle of the aisle, as fate would have it, was a thrashed, opened drum set box. I reached inside, fished around, and found the missing foot pedal. Hooray!

I tucked that under my arm, and since I felt a little bad for not going through the usual channels, I went and bought a Wii Sports game attachment set and a rechargeable battery set for our Wiimotes. Then I left. Hooray!

The next day the bike shop was open, and I exchanged Julian's bike for the appropriately-sized Mini-Rod. He immediately hopped on it as soon as we got home, and he has barely gotten off it since. I have it all tricked out with a bell and super-bright lights on both front and back (for when he's riding at dusk). He LOVES it.

So in spite of a slight delay in fulfillment, we managed to have a merry Christmas after all. The bike gets ridden almost every day, the drum set gets played almost every day, the kids are thrilled, and that's wonderful. We did not clutter the house up with junk. We got to spend the day with family and friends (although we *sorely* missed my mom, but here's to next year!). We didn't have to work too hard. We played a lot. Too bad for the carpet, but overall...a resounding success!

December 23, 2008

Snowy trail at Long Ridge


Snowy trail at Long Ridge, originally uploaded by mslaura.

We recently had a cold snap combined with a few days of heavy rain, and that meant...SNOW! Well, not here, but since we live at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains the snow was just a short drive away.

This is Julian at Long Ridge, up on Skyline/35 above Palo Alto. It's one of my favorite places to hike when it's NOT snowing, as you hike through beautiful forest, up a big hill, and then BOOM! Spectacular, expansive views of the gorgeous Pacific coastline, Monterey Bay, the works.

We didn't get that far on this occasion, we just hiked down into a little valley where the snow was a few feet deep, threw snowballs, made a snowman, slid down the hill a few times, crackled ice under our feet on the little wooden bridge, etc.

Adrian has never seen snow and Julian had only seen a smallish dirty patch of slush when he was about 2yo, so this was great for them, they LOVED it. Very glad we don't live in snow though, since after about two hours of it they were totally done, and bring on the hot chocolate already, OK?

December 22, 2008

Christmas tree run


Christmas tree run, originally uploaded by mslaura.

Me and the boys at a Christmas tree farm off Black Rd. They had a great selection. We got a smallish tree because I knew that Adrian was going to maul it, and I wanted to minimize the potential destruction.

Last year Adrian pulled the entire tree over on himself, and broke almost all of our glass ornaments in the process. This year he has pulled off about 6-7 of the lower-hung plastic ornaments and torn the hooks out of them. I only hung ornaments on the top half of the tree, but he still got a few.

Three days ago I found the last remaining glass ball broken, in the trash. Puzzled, I went over to the tree and found a pile of glass shards. Adrian had apparently been swatting at the ball with a broom, finally succeeded in knocking it off and smashing it to smithereens, and then disposed of the big pieces of the remains in the trash, leaving only the wickedly sharp shards behind. Sigh. At least he cleaned up after himself a little bit.

Two days ago we were going for a bike ride with the Burley Piccolo tandem that I tucked away 2 years ago when they stopped making them. I needed to blow up Julian's bike tires a little bit, so I went to go get my pump. Well, it didn't work, because Adrian had somehow managed to remove the internal fitting for the pump interface. Also, he emptied my little case of pump attachments, like the ball-inflating needle, air mattress valve, etc.

Yesterday I went to get my camera for a Christmas party at the Falco's house. I had been charging the battery, and I went to get it from the charger, but it was gone. Guess who? That's right, Adrian took it out of the charger and disappeared it somewhere. Who knows where? Not me. It could be anywhere. He likes to drop things into small crevices, so I have no real hope of finding it in the near future. I had to buy another one today to the tune of $55.

Ah, the joys of a wild almost-2-year-old.

Sleepy in Saratoga


Sleepy in Saratoga, originally uploaded by mslaura.

We have a Burley bike trailer and the hitch comes off so that you can convert it into a stroller. It's rainproof, so we bundled up the boys and then Dan took them out for a long walk in the rain. It was definitely time for them to get out of the house, if you know what I'm sayin'.

They fell asleep on the walk and Dan took this photo. As you can tell, the trailer is getting a *wee* bit snug. But hey, it IS waterproof.

A birthday surprise


John, Laura and Dan, originally uploaded by mslaura.

For Dan's birthday weekend of October 17th, I took him on a picnic at Byington Winery up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, about 20 minutes away from our house.

The surprise part was that our good friend John Yrazabal showed up at the winery as we were getting out of the car and asked, "You guys need any help carrying that stuff?" Dan started to respond and then realized that it was JOHN! John moved to Portland a few years ago, but was going to be in the area with his husband Walter for the weekend, so I arranged for him to meet us at the winery and surprise Dan. It totally worked. We got Dan good. And the picnic was fun too!

As you can tell, the weather was lovely. Byington is lovely. Their wine is excellent. We and drank and walked around the vineyards and looked at the spectacular mountain views, and chatted. The kids played on the bocce court and roamed around. Good times!

This photo is memorable because of our T-shirts.
Me: Barack
Dan: I ROCK

Watch out for cone-head baby


Watch out for cone-head baby, originally uploaded by mslaura.

Adrian came into the bedroom with one of the long couch pillows unzippered and worn on his head like a hat. Hilarious.

Double jumpers on a rainy day


Double jumpers, originally uploaded by mslaura.

We are loving the rain. Bring on that weather!

December 18, 2008

Must See TV!

Warning, none of these SNL Digital Shorts are safe for work...unless you have headphones on.

#1 Dick in a Box - A Xmas special
Justin Timberlake gives the best gifts!

#2 Lazy Sunday with Adam Samberg
the Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia!

#3 Natalie Raps
You know Natalie Portman, that sweet vegan actress?

December 13, 2008

39 years

It's my 39th birthday today, and it's a good day and a bad day.

It's a good day because I am actually going out to dinner tonight, to The Plumed Horse, which is a very swanky joint that I have wanted to go to for ages. I'm dining not just with my beloved husband, but with my best friend Angela (who flew in from Arizona yesterday for a surprise visit) and my friend Mimi, who is coming down from San Francisco. So that is definitely something to look forward to! Angela will be staying with us until Tuesday, so we will get a chance to visit and queen it up.

The bad part is that Adrian is sick with a really bad cold/flu and he has not slept more than an hour or so at a time for the last 4-5 days without waking up, coughing his brains out and screaming at top volume for "MOMMMMYYYYY!!!!!" Last night he coughed so hard that he actually barfed on me. Poor guy, but I am WIPED. I can't even walk away from him into the next room without him freaking out, and my evenings from 7:00pm on have consisted of laying in bed with him in a dark, humidified room and being coughed on after a a long, hard day of wiping his nose and listening to him shriek and not nap. Zero down time.

To add to the joy of this, I'm pretty under the weather myself. It's luckily not a full-fledged illness, just a lingering sore throat, runny-nose thing with a feverish undertone. Just enough that I'm going to keep the wine consumption to a minimum tonight, and eh, I don't have much of an appetite.

I'm also stressing out because we're going out fairly late, past the kids' bedtimes, which means that Kim will be putting the kids to bed. Julian is no problem, but Adrian is going to be a nightmare. I mean, he's a nightmare for ME lately, and he has been put to bed by someone other than me exactly two times in his two years of life. I guess I'll just have Kim rock him to sleep in the rocking chair and then try to lay him down. I think that might work the best out of anything.

So hooray for the fun evening planned and the next few days hanging with Angela, but boooo for the goddamn illness around here. Sick kids SUCK. At least Julian's not sick. YET.

Apart from all this, I am having some weird anxiety about turning 39. I just don't like the 9 years. It's like, I might as well be 40 already. I've already done that, actually. I spent all of age 36 thinking that I was already 37 ( I was pregnant, preoccupied, and mush-brained from hormones and back pain) and then when I turned 37 I thought I was turning 38, until Dan informed me otherwise.

On the one hand I was happy to only be 37. On the other hand I totally missed being 36. It was weird.

OK, Adrian is whining for me again, gotta go. Kid had better get well soon! I can't take much more of this.

December 02, 2008

Hmmm, maybe I should cancel those FedEx pickups.


Xtracycle as delivery bike, originally uploaded by Rock The Bike.

Nah, I think 70 pounds of kids is enough of a workout.

Julian shows how he can even *sleep* on the bike.

Adrian holds onto the stoker bar, but skips the footpegs entirely.

Anyway, I was putting the seats on late at night in the living room (as opposed to the cold garage) and so when the kids came out they saw the bike first thing. Before ANYTHING else, they insisted on sitting in their new seats and testing out the whole thing. Pretty hilarious.

I don't think they had yet realized that they could actually *lean back* in those seats. They figured that out on the first ride though.

Tomorrow is an exciting day, as it will be my first time taking Julian to preschool on the bike!


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