All Things Down and Derby.

On Saturday, it was once again time for that annual Cub Scout tradition - the Pinewood Derby. For you non-Scouting folks or for those of you who were scarred in your youth by this process and have chosen to forget the entire ordeal, here's the refresher.

Approximately a month in advance of the Derby, each scout is handed literally a block of wood out of which they are supposed to create their very own racing car. This involves sawing, sanding, painting, careful application of additional weights and wheels.

If you are like most parents, it also involves extensive internet research, at least three trips to the craft store and one trip to Home Depot. Some parents, get carried away. We try to straddle that fine line between overdoing it and being a total embarrassment.

This year, Alex wanted an Indiana Jones jeep. For a second I contemplated getting the actual design plans from the movie. In a moment of clarity, we decided to just let him do it. And you know what? It seems that whenever we let go, things turn out alright. He designed it, sawed it, sanded it and painted it. I printed out the stickers. He stuck them on. He even added authentic looking mud around the wheels and did it better than Ken and I ever could. See the little fist pump in the picture below?

He wasn't sure if he'd get a trophy or just the Hey-You-Participated medal, so he tried to peek while the trophies were being handed out. Little Dude, you need to know, patience is a virtue. It seems that sometimes just as we've learned one life lesson, another one miraculously queues up for us.

But sure enough, he got second place. And we were all amazed. He did it on his own. See what I mean - another life lesson understood.

Sometimes, it's best to let things unfold naturally and not try to manipulate them into what seems like the right thing to do at the time.

Sometimes it's best to just let things be. That is a very hard lesson to learn. I'm still in the process of grasping it. Wishing you a moment where you can apply that lesson - let things be, dang it. They may just turn out better than you expected.


All Things For the Love of Harry.

Alex and I have been busy reading through the Harry Potter series. It's my second time through the books and his first. And I have to admit that sharing it with him has made them even better. Hard to believe, I know, but oh so true.

We just finished my personal favorite - Goblet of Fire. I mean, what's not to love? There's a competition...pause to remember how obsessed we became with the Olympics? See here and here for verification (as if you would need it). See there's The Triwizard Tournament. Then the Yule Ball and what girly girl doesn't love a ball? And there's a wonderful, slightly dark, climactic ending. Plot perfection.

Conveniently, Alex had a book report due this week so on Sunday, he decided to use Goblet of Fire for the report. Book reports are no longer the one page summaries I seem to recall from my late elementary school years. All of his teachers have been beyond creative in their approach to report writing and presenting. How times have changed, folks, and for the better.

For this one, he had to place five things that described the book into a paper bag and decorate the bag to resemble the book's cover. And yes, there was a write up of the five items. I mean it is after all a Fourth Grade Book Report. Next year, I am certain he'll be tackling a thesis.

Here's his version of the Triwizard Crest -

And from Left to Right, clockwise, please - gillyweed, one side of the paper bag book cover depicting a dragon and Harry, Tom Riddle's tombstone and the back cover. Don't you love how he depicted Harry's leg underwater?

I know, I know, I'm just a proud Mama but I just love these Creative Outbursts. And yes, there were two more items for those of you counting - a plastic dragon and the handy Minature-Stanley-Cup-Posing-As-A-Triwizard-Cup. He gets to do his presentation on Tuesday. We all wish him luck and we know he'll do just fine.

In the mean time, Ms. Future Engineer to the Stars was busy on the spare PC. Yes, this is the same kid who at three years of age, blew my internet settings to the point that no one on this planet could fix them and I had to do a complete re-install. Mhmmm, not to mention that I used her deviant behavior as an excuse to purchase a second, larger hard drive. So I really should thank her in the end. It's amazing that she's lived to see six years of age after that crash.

And then Ken and Bella. They were down in the Family Room playing...any guesses? Go Fish, of course.

Note the joy on Ken's face? It was a No Sports On TV moment except for the U.S. Men's Figure Skating Championship. The NHL All Star game didn't start until later. Such a good Daddy, eh?

Wishing you a moment where you do that thing you do well. You know the one. But do it creatively and with a lot of panache while you wait for something better and more interesting to come along. You just may find, as we often do, that the very thing you're doing is better than that thing you were waiting on.


All Things Peace and Quiet.

Ken knows when I've reached my limit of sanity and need an hour or two away from the kids. The other night, I decided to use my much needed Quiet Time and escape to a bookstore.

I was hoping that all three kids would stay with Ken. The girls, of course, wanted nothing more than to stay at home with Daddy and watch hockey and eat tortilla chips. But Alex, asked me where I was going and when he heard bookstore he asked in his most proper, Cub Scout, altar boy voice, "May I please go with you?"

Moment of Peace and Quiet meet the verb Shattered.

But when we got to the store, we both settled in with our respective stacks of books (we both like things semi-orderly) and began to read. Every once in a while, Alex would come over to me or I to him and we'd share a particularly interesting or funny paragraph.

When I looked at my watch, I realized an hour and a half had gone by. As we descended down the escalator, I noted how much he'd grown in these almost ten years. How mature he'd become. And how much alike we were in spite of our obvious chromosomal differences.

I was glad that he and I had this shared moment of peace and quiet and yes, I am wishing you one just like that. Look for it.


All Things Hope.

Alex and I started a journey almost exactly a year ago at the Nevada Caucus. Alex got a rare opportunity to be part of the process thanks to our wonderful precinct leader, Billy. Alex got to ring the bell to gather everyone to vote.

As a poli. sci. student, I loved the opportunity to participate in this authentic way of casting a vote. It was messy and raw and precise and yes, I loved every moment.

Alex wondered who was going to get my vote, after all the Hillary supporters were passing out Krispie Kreme donuts and t-shirts and he so wanted one of those. But I told him, go up to the student with the Obama sticker sheet and get one. That's who Mama's voting for, we need change, little dude, we need change desperately.

And look, our entire precinct voted for change that day - Obama's 56 votes to Clinton's 36. It was still very early in the campaign only January.

Then in the Fall as the election was nearing, Obama and McCain kept criss-crossing our state. One night I woke up and told Ken that I was taking Alex to the Obama rally at UNR the following morning. A few of you received our phone calls at 6:15 a.m.. It was so early and we were so excited.

When Mr. Obama took the stage, all I remember is how the crowd took a collective breath and didn't let it out until he was done.

I know you've seen this picture on the blog before, but it bears repeating at least for me. He came around first to us, the people who were in the sun on an unseasonably warm morning to shake our hands.

And because Alex was the first of three kids he came to in that long line, he paused his Secret Service guys and looked right at them and said in the most paternal, caring tone, "Well, hey there."

And he shook Alex's hand. See?? He's letting go right there. I was just snapping away, desperately wanting to catch the moment. And I did.

So six stolen lawn signs later, one early vote, one nail biting Election Night, I kept Alex home from school to finish our journey and watch all the Inaugural Ceremonies live.

It's been quite a historical moment for this mama and her almost ten year old son. One that I am glad we took together.

Wishing you a completion of a journey and that feel good feeling you are sure to experience afterwards. Here's to hope and the start of something new and fresh and good.


All Things Just Because.

A package arrived in the mail a few days ago. A package that had some special items for our Just Turned Six Year Old. Uncle Dave and Auntie Angie sent her a birthday gift that only an auntie could pick out (sorry Dave, I know the Male Riggsby Gene well by now and I know you just shrugged when shown the gift...LOL).

First, it was fabulously purple and pink. Second, it contained all sorts of delights. Everything from a guitar shaped make up container to a cell phone shaped lip gloss container (the little brush was the antenna). And it was all Hannah Montana themed.

Kata, Bella and I fizzled into a fit of girly giggles and squeals as we unwrapped the contents. Our favorite item was the lovely package of press on nails which we immediately had to try.

Just wanted to give a great big thanks to Auntie Angie and Uncle Dave for enabling this first milestone - press on nails. Yeah, we hadn't gone there before but now we're truly delighted at the possibilities of not dealing with the screeching pleas of "Mama, please polish my nails!" We can just press them on. Brilliant.

Wishing you a milestone, press on moment where you literally - press on, mentally or physically. And I hope the moment contains glitter because we find that a little sparkle is always a good thing.


All Things Shooting Two.

Alex is fourth from the Right.

Ken had arranged for Alex's Cub Scout Den to go and be the Color Guard for the Big Horns, Reno's NBA-D league team. Watching nine Fourth Grade boys get excited to be on the same floor as actual basketball players is certainly a sight to behold.

One of the players came up to the boys during warm ups and started messing around, getting them to take shots.

And he convinced the boys to try to guard him.

And then joked around with all of them. How wonderful for him to take the time out, right before an actual game, to pay attention to a group of gangly little boys...his Mama should be proud.

Before we knew it, the time had come for the players to be announced. The boys formed a line and got high-fived by not just the Big Horns but the visiting team as well.

Afterwards, it was their turn to stand perfectly still and salute the flag during the National Anthem. Alex is second from the right and yes, he actually sang along to the words. He's known all the words for a while. I mean, the kid attended San Jose Sharks games in utero. And yes, for the record, he can also sing "O, Canada."

What an impressive sight to behold.

The Big Horns management team treated all the boys to thunder sticks. Those little inflatable tubes truly make a thunderous noise when smacked together. And mhmmm, it can irritate an already existing mommy-headache, thank you very much. Some of you may note the logo says Kings. The Big Horns are the development team for the Sacramento Kings.

Let's not leave out the little sisters. Ah, but we must take away an even half a dozen thunder sticks so we can torture the dog along with our Mama.

The final bit? Well, as most of you know from attending sporting events, there are giveaways. Always giveaways - t-shirts, balls, gift certificates. And in the spirit of Ken Must Win Something When It's Thrown Within A Ten Foot Arm's Reach Vicinity of Him, he won a Bottomless Nacho Party at Chevys. Of course, it came complete with an accessory - the ever popular Chevys sombrero which Kata snagged as her own.

Wishing you an arm's reach victory of sorts. And I truly wish you were all here for the Bottomless Nachos Party. Just the name alone begs definition.


All Things Kind.

I want to take a minute and share a New Year's Wish from one of my favorite authors, Mr. Neil Gaiman -

I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

I picked up his latest book at the library yesterday, The Graveyard Book. I am sure it will be incredible. His work is always wonderful and surprising and inspiring.

But the more miraculous happening was how three and a half year old Bella and I spent an hour together bonding over literature. And how she sweetly ran up to me with an armload of storybooks and said, "Mama, will you teach me to read?" Of course, I will.

Before you collapse into a puddle of gush all around me, don't worry, we were also playing Bella's favorite Library Game. It's called One for Me, One for You. And involves sorting books into piles. Thus, totally messing up the Dewey Decimal system.

Being a Good Mom, I ran around tucking the books in a semi-haphazard manner so I wouldn't get any more of "those looks" from other patrons not to mention the exhausted librarians. Hey, at least I managed to file them by the first and second letter...or the main number...sorry about that decimal part, Dewey. My sincere apologies.

And as we left with our arms weighed down with literature, a rainbow appeared. I swear. A full blown rainbow. I snapped it with the iPhone. And here it is - just for you.

Wishing you a moment of kindness today. Give some kindness and I promise you will get some back. Thank you, Neil.


All Things Spotlight.

On the last day of Christmas Vacation, we were lucky to be invited to one of those inflatable bounce house places. Bella had a blast. And I got dizzy just watching her bouncing, up and down, burning off all that excess Cabin Fever energy.

The best part? The Karaoke Dress Up Room. Yes, our little darling went right for the pink sequined, fringed number. And trust me on this, her fashion sense will kick in later in life. I promise. She does have half of my genetic pool.

But she loved the spotlight, can't you tell?? It's all in the way she daintly holds her costume and looks afar...may that spotlight always find her.

Wishing you a moment in your very own spotlight. Go find it. It's out there.


All Things The Second.

We celebrated Ken's birthday with his favorite homemade blueberry pie, vanilla ice cream and a circle of family all around him. It's so good that Maka was here to join in the fun celebrating her second son's birthday on the second day of the year.

In his line of work, accounting, the days after January 1st are filled with year-end, quarter-end and month-end tasks all of which need to be finished by a deadline made tighter because of the holiday. Bottom line - he works very very late on these days.

But somehow, he made it home in time for a quick celebration. Happy Birthday to a wonderful husband, daddy and son!

I had to include this picture (see below). While she was waiting for Daddy to come home, she fell asleep reading Cinderella. That's our literary little girl. Gotta love a nap on your colorful flannel sheets, dreaming of princes and shoes. Mhmm. I think I still have those dreams!

Wishing you all a winter nap filled with wonderful images and a plot that leaves you breathless when you wake up. Snuggle away, folks, winter will be over before we know it.


All Things Blank.

It's a Brand New Year, and before we fill it up with our usual level of high jinx and adventure, I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate the concept of blankness.

A blank page.

A new chapter.

An untread path.

The year is waiting to be explored and we can hardly wait for the hilarity that is sure to follow.

Enjoy this Intentionally Blank moment. Happy New Year!