Best Little Arm-Chair Coach West of the Mississippi

Yes, it’s true, it’s time for our annual obsession with the NCAA Tournament. For those of you who don’t know, I’m from Indiana, and as a beloved NCAA commercial once stated, “In 49 states it’s just a game, but this is Indiana.” Sometime after we moved in together, Matt was assimilated and now he’s a basketball nut too! So March Madness started yesterday with a HUGE upset (Duke) and a bracket-buster for Julie but not for Mat (Texas Tech lost). I guess I was counting on Bobby Knight to come to the rescue and pull Texas Tech through, but it was not to be. On a positive note, my Indiana Hoosiers beat Gonzaga, the team that ended their tourney dreams last year. I like the Zags, but after their star player got nabbed with some pot & mushrooms while driving around early in the season, they really didn’t have much chance in what was honestly a rebuilding year anyway. We had a momentary crisis earlier in the week because the hard drive in our DVR broke and we had to get a new one shipped to us. It got here Tuesday night, though, and was installed and working like a charm before the tournament started. Whew! There are few sporting events during which the lack of a DVR would lead me to shout obscenities at DishNetwork, and the NCAA Tournament is one (second only to the Olympics!). After last night, I think my pick (UNC) is a bit of a long-shot and that perhaps I should have stuck with a Big Ten team this year, but ink is already on bracket paper and there’s nothing to be done now but wait, and coach, of course, from my favorite recliner 😉 Happy watching! And GO HOOSIERS!

Mallow Madness

When I first moved to Colorado, not only was I a true gardening novice, but I was also challenged with a whole host of new weed varieties. One little cutie looked just like my childhood favorite Morning Glory (the much-hated bindweed), while another looked truly like a miniature wild geranium both in leaf and bloom: mallow. Years later, I know that mallow is one of the first weeds to green up in the spring and that its massive tap-root makes it a real garden pest, especially in my well-irrigated fertile vegetable garden beds. On Wednesday I pulled a mallow with a taproot easily 18 inches long. Gabriel thought it was so cool that he ran straight to Matt’s den window to show him ;). Today, while the weather was still warm and the last of the melting snow kept the beds moist enough to make pulling weeds a snap, I pulled two five-gallon buckets full of mallow out of my vegetable beds and wildflower garden. Matt had to help with a couple of really big ones, but for the most part, the beds are now weed-free. At least until next weekend…

Spring is…Coming!

We usually get a nice warm spell in February, but due to all the snow, it held off until March. It’s been in the 60s & 70s all week, which means I have two stir-crazy little monkeys who are desperate to get outside. Lily enjoyed her first sandbox experience and only ate a little sand (although she did eat a clod of dirt from my vegetable garden and a was chewing on a rotten apple from last fall—ewww!). Here’s a preview, but there are more pictures on Picasa. Lily takes the Sandboat for a drive...
The tulips are pushing through the mulch and I have buds on my daffodils, so it’s easy to share their excitement. Yesterday afternoon I pulled some weeds and did some yard cleanup that didn’t happen this past fall and I find myself lamenting the fact that I shouldn’t have a garden this year since the house is on the market…Maybe a few pots of herbs and vegetables are in order.

Avoid Another Costly War

Even as the war in Iraq continues to progress (or digress…), Iran continues to work on developing its nuclear program. Although the thought of such an extremist government having nukes is frightening, equally frightening is the prospect of another war in the Middle East that our brave soldiers cannot possibly win. Wes Clark has a web site devoted to sending letters to President Bush, Congress, and the media urging the use of diplomatic & economic means of resolving this situation rather than involving the over-taxed US military. Take a look and take action:

National MS Society Walk!

Tonight I signed up to walk in the Longmont MS Society Walk taking place May 5th. After years of sponsoring a friend’s team in the MS150 bike event, I am excited to finally be doing something on my own. My father-in-law has MS, so this cause is close to my heart especially since there is more and more evidence of a hereditary element to this disease and Matt, Gabriel & Lily are all at increased risk of developing this disease sometime in their lives. Won’t you join me in working to find a cure? You can sponsor me individually or sponsor my team, Old Town Buddies, as we try to raise $10,000 toward finding a cure for MS! If you’d like to find out more about MS, take a look at the information on the MS Society’s web site:

MySpace Displays its Ignorance Yet Again…

My pal over at CrunchyDomesticGoddess let me know about this latest blunder from MySpace…Apparently the powers that be have removed a very discreet picture of a nursing mama and threatened her with deleting her account if she continues to post pictures. The charge? It “violates MySpace policies against nudity and sexually suggestive images.” Excuse me?

Let me point out the number of news stories flooding the wires about young girls masquerading as legal and meeting up with older men (or, conversely, older men masquerading as younger to meet up with young women). On the few occasions that I’ve attempted to search for anyone on MySpace, I have found dozens of pictures of scantily-clad and/or suggestive photos. The breastfeeding one they’re complaining about here is so totally harmless and probably shows less skin than the usual Abercrombie & Fitch ad.

Come on MySpace. Get a grip.

Red Carpet Review!

If you’re anything like us, you were glued to the television last night to watch the stars walk the red carpet and receive their Oscars. Matt attended the event in his usual haute couture: Polka-dotted Gap PJ bottoms & long-sleeved t-shirt, while I was looking lovely in my mauve heart PJs by Old Navy 😉 The last haute couture purchase I made was a lovely Kate Spade bag that now sits in storage covered with dust and slight trace of spit up! And yet, I still consider myself qualified to comment on the stars, much the same way that I consider myself to be one of the finest arm-chair coaches in NCAA basketball history (but more about that during March Madness!). So I will start on a positive note with the stars that I thought looked marvelous last night:

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal – Abs Fabs in her asymmetrical gown!
  • Portia de Rossi – Could she be any more gorgeous?
  • Rachel Weisz – OK, she made the list despite a bizarre grape-cluster looking necklace.
  • Helen Mirren – She was the Queen in my book long before she played one in the movies!
  • Abigail Breslin – This adorable Little Miss Sunshine Star brought her stuffed Curious George to the Oscars. I love it!

And of course, Ellen was even better than anticipated. Her retro tuxes were a perfect dress-up version of her usual casual chic style and I loved every joke and antic. Well done! Even though there were no gaffes the likes of Bjork’s swan attire from days gone by, there were a few people I thought should have chosen something a bit different for the big night.

  • Jennifer Hudson – She’s so fab that I hate to include her in this list, but what was that weird snake-skin metalic jacket???? Thank goodness she lost it in time to receive her award!
  • Al & Tipper Gore – Love the environmental work, Al, but you both need to hit the gym!
  • Penelope Cruz – Matt & I argued about whether the train of her dress was more feather duster or shag rug. Yikes!
  • Gwyneth Paltrow – Her dress would have been great if she had the class hourglass figure. She needs to eat some cheeseburgers, though, before she can pull it off!

I promise you there will be some more substantive posts in this category, but I’ve only just started reading Peter Carey’s Theft, so I can’t comment just yet!!!

An interesting day

Today was an interesting day. It started with Gabriel attempting to plummet head-first down the stairs. I was a few steps further down the stairs and had that horrifying moment of indecision about whether it would be better to drop Lily to catch Gabriel or to watch as he tumbled down the stairs. Luckily, I didn’t have to do either thanks to Matt’s quick reflexes…He caught Gabriel by the ankle in mid-air (which was pretty cool to watch, even if it was through teary/panicked Mama’s eyes…). Gabriel, Lily & I went to the zoo today because, unlike the typical weather this winter, it was 60 and gorgeous today. We had a ball, but I managed to miss my turn onto the freeway because I was day-dreaming. I also fielded one of those impossibly-unanswerable questions that 2-year-olds come up with: “Mommy, why aren’t there dinosaurs at the zoo?” [Pause] *GULP* “Um, sweetie, dinosaurs lived a long time ago and don’t live here anymore.” “But Mommy, where are they?” “They’re gone and only their bones are left.” “What are bones?” Oh jeez, at that point I knew I was sunk and just changed the subject (Oh look, buddy, there’s a big truck!!!) I missed a second turn this evening on my way to a friend’s house that I’d been to a thousand times. Again, I was daydreaming.? Just one of those days I guess…

New category: Entertainment

I’m conducting a psychological experiment on myself: Is it in fact possible to guilt oneself into reading more and watching more movies simply by creating a category to comment on books and movies in one’s blog? We shall see. This is different than my attempt to disprove the assertion that it is impossible to tickle yourself unless you are schizophrenic (and yes, that one disturbed me for several weeks because I can, in fact tickle myself. But I digress…). You see, all bizarre digressions aside, I have been feeling pretty down about the fact that the Academy Awards are this weekend and I’m not sure I’ve seen a single nominated movie. I think the last movie I saw in a theater was King Kong and I’m pretty sure the last time I read a book that was not parenting-related nonfiction was sometime before Lily was born nine months ago. I’m the type of person who enjoys reading and typically reads about a book a week, so this lack of reading is really starting to get to me. As part of my new resolution to read more books and watch more movies, we watched Everything is Illuminated last night. Wow. I read part of Jonathan Safran Foer’s interesting story when I was working at the bookshop in Windsor, but sadly never finished it (the fate of many a good book during that time simply because I was typically in the middle of five books at once!). Seeing this movie might just make me pick it back up. Moments of ridiculous hilarity lighten what is otherwise a heartbreaking story of how World War II dramatically changed the lives of a small village of people in the Ukraine. Elijah Wood pulled off a performance nearly as bizarre as his part in Sin City (but without the gore) and yet remained a fittingly blank canvas upon which the other characters painted their own stories. Definitely worth a rental (or an addition to the Netflix queue).

Dying with Kool-Aid!

I recently ordered some undyed play silks (basically 3×3′ pieces of silk that can be used for costumes, capes, whatever, that are much cheaper than pre-dyed silks) for Gabriel. Someone suggested dying with Kool-Aid, so Gabriel & I dyed his silks this afternoon–it was one of my favorite craft activities yet!

We used the very simple microwave instructions that I found on this web site: I used Grape, Lemon-Lime, Strawberry, & Orange Kool-Aid (1 packet of Kool-Aid per silk) and then did a beautiful yellow one with 1 t saffron using the same process described on the Kool-Aid dye site.

I also let Gabriel paint dye (including a home-made blueberry dye with 2T blueberries, 2 T boiling water & 1 T vinegar) on one silk, then processed it as described in the microwave to make this funky tie-dye colored one. He painted his silk (in his diaper because it’s very messy!) while I dyed the other ones and he had a blast! He had to go straight in the bath, of course, and my fingers are pretty stained (they recommend gloves and I didn’t use them…Oops!).

The silks are gorgeous and even though the color is not 100% even across the entire silk, they still look great for the $2 it cost me to dye them. I’d really like to try some felted-wool projects and may try dying the wool myself now that I know how easy this was. Gabriel is so excited about his silks (he was already playing with them before we even dyed them!) and wanted to play with them while they were still wet. I hope they dry before he gets up from his nap. I also let Gabriel use up the rest of the blueberry dye painting on some water color paper and I have to say that I wish I’d done a whole silk with blueberry.

It’s such a gorgeous color on paper and the little bit that made it on to his silk is also a very pretty color. I was going to try a pomegranate dye, but tried bottled juice and it just looked too dull. Some other things I would consider are raspberries, cherries, and turmeric (which may be more cost-effective then saffron). What a fun afternoon project. It’s so exciting that he’s finally old enough to do these types of things with me. I’ll have to post some pictures of our silks in action once they’ve dried…