Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stomach Trouble Looms for Elmo and Abby

 The following conversation occurred during bath time tonight after Nate set Elmo and Abby on the edge of the bathtub....

Nate: Elmo and Abby are eating dinner together.
Me: Really? How nice. What are they eating?
Nate: Fish sticks, french fries, chicken nuggets, cake (still thinking)
Me: What about veggies? It would be nice if they ate fruit and veggies.
Nate: Elmo and Abby eat fish sticks, french fries, chicken nuggets, cake, and okra.
Me: Uhh, okra??
Nate: Yea
Well, bonus points for Elmo and Abby. I've never eaten okra and I don't plan to. If Nate wants to try okra, I'll have to consult with my Southern friends on how to cook it (fried!!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Dig I Dos

I have wedding fever....

Exhibit A: We watched the latest Harry Potter movie this week. I love the unusual wedding dress worn by Fleur Delacour. Don't know that I would have been as brave in real life to wear such a unique dress. But still, it's beautiful in a movie.

Exhibit B: I found the shoes I wore in my wedding buried in a box in the garage and am in the process of having them dyed a dark color. No sense wasting perfectly good shoes. Of course, these shoes are over 5 years old now so they're not in style (were they ever??).

Exhibit C: Lee officiated at a wedding last weekend. We had the BEST time at the reception despite knowing only a handful of the other wedding guests. I think we looked particularly nice and the environment was beautiful at the Langham Hotel. A memorable date night (yes, I actually will count it as a date night). "Nothin' but the best for my baby," says Lee. Ha!

Exhibit D: Have you seen this marriage proposal on YouTube? Very cute.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Show and Tell

Have you ever wondered what your friends and family do all day?  If they work outside of the public eye, don't you wonder what their work environment looks like?  Well, I'm about to show you what I see every Tuesday and Thursday.  If you feel inclined to share your own work site on your blog or website, please do....because, if you don't, my active imagination is going to assume that you're really an agent for the CIA.  I digress...

My work day starts with an early morning commuter train (7:30am):

Followed by a quick walk through historic Union Station.  Isn't it beautiful?

This is the LONG hallway at Union Station that takes you from the commuter trains into the hub of the station.  It's so long and cavernous that I've often imagined the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz is at the other end (remember, active imagination!) Since I took this picture a long time ago, a Wetzels Pretzels & Starbucks has been added to the left side of this picture. You don't know how badly I want a pretzel every time I walk this corridor now.

From there, I catch the subway for a short ride. I've seen some pretty crazy stuff on the subway. And I've also smelled some pretty bad b.o.

Four stops later, I arrive at my destination.  Two or three yards away is my office building -- historic, beautiful, a sight to be seen.

And -- ta dah -- the lobby.  Oh the lobby.  These pictures cannot do it justice.  The lighting inside is poor so it's hard to capture  the details but, trust me, I catch my breath every time I walk into this lobby (it's even more beautiful at Christmas with garlands and a large Christmas tree):

Ding!  The third floor brings you to our suite.  Here is one view of our lobby/sitting area:

The first door on the left is my office.  Yes, this is where all of the magic happens (lol).  Notice my color-coordinated and organized binders.  Notice my boring view overlooking an alley and bank parking garage.

That pretty much sums it up.  There are 3 other offices in our suite, a conference room, and a break room.  Typical office stuff.  Now look at these pictures in reverse order and that's my commute going home.  I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stack It Up

There was a period of 6-9 months when Nate would line everything up. Books, toys, whatever. He'd systematically put multiples of things in a row, horizontally or vertically. I started taking pictures of them. I was a little worried about OCD but now he doesn't seem as interested and, in typical boy fashion, prefers to mess stuff up instead of tidy up. Here's what I'm talking about:


 Crayons. He wouldn't use them, just put them in a line.

Alphabet squares.

Spools of thread.

 Even poor baby Jesus has to stand in a line.

My pots and pans. Personally, I think he's trying to cover up the hideousness that is our kitchen floor.

Outdoor chalk.

This one is my favorite. Nate was eating lunch and I went to my bedroom to get something and discovered this line of film rolls (remember film??) on the floor. It surprised me and I almost stepped on it. I kinda felt like a farmer discovering a crop circle....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Summer Goals, Version 1.0

In 2006 I took the leap and upgraded my camera to this:

Yes, that's a Nikon D40X. Going from a point-and-shoot camera to a SLR camera is akin to painting with oils after scribbling with crayons. Big time investment. Big time return....IF you know what you're doing. And, honestly, five years later I still don't know what I'm doing. I'm embarrassed to admit that I really don't understand 85% of the features on my camera. I just jumped in and started taking pictures without doing any prep work. Back then, it was easy -- vacation photos looked great (you don't need to be Ansel Adams to take a decent shot of the Grand Canyon). Then we had a baby and, boom, a new subject to photograph. A sleeping baby is fairly easy to photograph too. Skip ahead and I've got a squirmy almost three-year old who doesn't like to smile for the camera. The time has come for me to expand my photography skills. So I'm committing the next several months to reading up on my Nikon and practicing with various settings. I hope to take some awesome pictures this summer.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Garden Update

Here is a brief update on what's going on in the Cooks' backyard:

Tomato mania is about to commence! Lee has planted 4 or 5 different types of tomatoes and even went to a tomato-growing seminar at Descanso Gardens....he means business this year. I'm looking forward to eating the smaller, grape-sized tomatoes. Incidentally, this bad boy turned red this week and was eating last night in homemade calzones. 

While Lee has focused on tomatoes this season, I have focused my energy on sunflowers. This is the start of what I hope will be a beautiful sunflower garden. I bought 6 different varieties of sunflowers from a seed catalog and planted them a couple of weeks ago. I'm hoping the end result with allow us to have some pretty sunflowers in the house and (more importantly) block the horrible glare from our neighbor's white fence, once the flowers grow to 4-6 feet.

On a sad note, my gardenias are looking bad. They've been in this full-sun spot for over 2 years and survived 2 hot SoCal summers. I don't know why this one is struggling so early. He's yellow, he's brown....I don't know what to make of it. I'd like them to survive but I'm already imagining lavender in its' place. No offense, gardenia.

So while I'm babying my poor gardenias, this giant bouganvilla that gets no attention is absolutely thriving. If you look behind Nate, you'll see that this plant isn't even in the ground -- it's busting out of a plastic pot; it's too big for us to transplant now. I think all of the early Spring rain made this thing go crazy. Seriously, we never water it. In fact, the thorns are so horrible and have scratched me so many times while I've trimmed it, that I say bad things to this bouganvilla. It's obviously not getting the hint. Or it's growing just to spite me. 

Lastly, here is a picture of our garden mascot. He's suppose to be protecting our garden and yard. But he's not doing a very good job. Notice the bird poop on his left wing. Fellow birds are mocking him, poor guy.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stella Awards

For your reading pleasure....long, but SO worth it. This was emailed to me by a co-worker and I had to share:

STELLA  AWARDS:  It's time again for the annual 'Stella Awards'! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's in New Mexico, where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That's right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.
Here are the Stella's for this past year  -- 

*SEVENTH PLACE*  Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
* SIXTH PLACE *  Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles , California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.
* FIFTH PLACE *  Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , Pennsylvania, who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish. Keep scratching. There are more...
*FOURTH PLACE*  Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
* THIRD PLACE * Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. What ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions?
*SECOND PLACE*  Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000....oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.
* FIRST PLACE *  This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chocolate -- My New Foe

I ate a handful of chocolate covered raisins last night. That was a bad idea. I'm extremely susceptible to caffeine in the evening. The caffeine in the chocolate kept the wheels of my mind spinning until 2:30am. Boo. I couldn't stop obsessing thinking about how I haven't picked out a preschool for Nate. Double boo. So this morning I woke up feeling like I'd been beaten up and knew immediately that I wouldn't be on top of things today. That's an understatement. Things went downhill very quickly...

I packed a snack/lunch bag as I do every Friday morning before our toddler class at Descanso Gardens. I put it next to the front door. Then I forgot to take it to the car. Oh my. I didn't discover my giant mistake until we were in the midst of storytime. Nate was already moody this morning so this just threw him over the edge. He couldn't understand how I could have forget to bring his snacks. I think he wants to trade me in for a new mommy. Look at his face here:

I explained my mistake and told him we'd eat when we got home but it didn't matter. Every time we saw a bench or table, he'd hurry up to it, sit down and ask about his snacks. There are a lot of benches at Descanso Gardens. It got old really fast.

I will not be eating chocolate again at night. Actually, I'm so shell-shocked I might not eat chocolate at any time of the day for a while.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Batter Up

I wonder if this is how Babe Ruth got started...playing t-ball while wearing his mom's ugly big sun hat.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Prepare to Salivate

I came across a blog the other day that, I guarantee, you'll be addicted to. It's titled Whisk Kid and is written by a 20-year old student at Michigan State University (where does she find the time??). This blog is pure sugar. Literally. Beautiful photos, yummy recipes, and endearing stories. This is the go-to blog if you need to "wow" your friends & family with a beautiful cake or sweet treat. What were you doing at 20? I certainly wasn't doing anything this professional....

This is a photo of one of Whisk Kid's fun creations.