All Things Hogwarts - Not Really.

So the morning Alex and I left for our Cal excursion, I posted on twitter "9.5. yo son thinks Cal will be like Hogwarts. Yeah-No." And the @Cal Alumni twitter account picked that up and broadcast it on their twitter feed. I was pretty amused. But honestly, Alex knee deep wading through all the Hogwarts lore figured, well, it's a 140 year old university so there would have to be some Hogwarts-like things there. Right?

I wracked my brain to provide him just that. But our first stop was at Top Dog. Man, those hot dogs are the best. I so missed them. It was a toss up between those, Blondie's Pizza and Yogurt Park for our lunch menu. Top dog won out because it was the first place we found.

And there's a gratuitous shot of Telegraph Avenue. With all the vendors still lining the sidewalks. But I must admit, the stores are a lot more corporate than I remember. I missed Cody's Books. It was all shuttered and empty. So many good memories there. How I wish I could have spent an hour or two walking through their book shelves one more time. All those books. Mhmm. And the musty smell associated with really old bindings. Nothing like that on earth.

Okay, so we were back to search for Hogwarts-like places...sort of. The above is the library on campus. It used to be the third largest in the U.S. when I went there. Harvard and the Library of Congress held the top two spots.

Most of the Reading Rooms have been converted to accommodate laptops and resulting network connections. But, the North Reading Room still looked the same. How I remember sunsets lighting up those windows. And the accompanying moonlit nights when the only glow would be that of the lamps above the desks. Alex thought I'd hit the jackpot here with Most Hogwarts-like Ambiance.

Alex asked where would Dumbledore work. My guess was the Administration building. Home of thousands of famous protests on Sproul Plaza. Some even when I was there. None were happening on that day. It was sunny, beautiful and the steps held people enjoying the sunshine and their lunches.

Sather Gate. It leads up to Sproul Plaza. I caught this picture of Alex walking confidently towards it. I so hope that in about eight years, I can catch the same shot again. He'll be taller and an enrolled student there and he'll still be walking away from me.

Then in a moment of Let's Just Do It and mostly because my darling BFF Lorraine, was there encouraging me with goading comments and reminders that we met over two decades ago, we started the long walk up to International House. It was much longer than we expected or remembered. Dear God, the slow incline on a warm day nearly killed me and I wondered how did I do that several times a day?
We paused at the Pacific Film Archive because Alex asked me where the film classes were held. And seeing as I snuck into dozens of them in my time there, I knew the entrance rather well. Here's to my son, the future award winning director. May you go there. Or better yet, UCLA, if that's your chosen profession.

Finally, we made it to I-House. The fireplace still stood although on this unexpectedly warm day, it wasn't lit.

I remember endless moments spent waiting for friends on those couches and dozing off on them while waiting. There was, of course, someone doing that on the other side. Things change. Things stay the same. Like in spite of email, there are still the wonderful little mailboxes in the Mail Room. How I loved getting letters and cards from my friends.

Yes, in case you were wondering, I was scoring Big Time on Alex's Will It Be Like Hogwarts' Scale. Because I took him up to the Dining Commons.

And then to the patio in the middle of the four towers. And yes, the fountain still stands. We used to show movies on the walls above. I decided it would be wise to leave out the part about drinking and in general being a part of I-House's trouble-making contingent. It was all very mild, let me tell you and fun.

On our way back, we stopped by another Ritual Place, Cafe Strada although in my time it was known as Cafe Roma. It, too, looked unchanged.

Amazingly delicious iced mochas and a hug from my son for being a cool mom and showing him around her college.

And yes, that commemorative shot. My BFF, Lorraine and I. We met on the first day our little heels stepped on that campus. Our very first day at Cal. And we're still in touch. Still goofy. Still day-dreaming. Still snarky well beyond our years.

Wishing you a moment where you realize that in spite of some decades gone by, things are still the same. So here's to a well placed iced mocha with a friend who loves, cares and still worries about you. Cheers.


All Things Easter Bunny.

Because unless the calendars collide (and sometimes they do), we seem to have two Easters every year. One is Orthodox Easter or Church Easter, as we now call it. And the other one is well the day the Easter Bunny arrives and we wake up to treats galore.

This year, we were on our Spring Break excursion to the Bay Area and the kids couldn't believe that the Easter Bunny actually figured out we would be staying with the grandparents. Tricky little critter, he knew exactly where we would be.

Everyone was thrilled that he had figured it all out. So early on Easter morning, after a bizarre Easter bonnet ritual of trying baskets on their heads, they headed out for the Egg Hunt.

And lo and behold there were treats for all. Even Ken got into it. The Tinkerbelle Fairies in Flight apron never looked lovelier, don't you think?

And Alex was particularly tickled that the EB remembered how he's been saying that one day, he wants to be a film director. So in his basket, he found an appropriate t-shirt.

Wishing you a moment where you remember some little ritual you used to do and you know what?? I challenge you to do it again. Come on, it'll be fun. Trust me.

All Things Orthodox Easter.

What happens when you are so busy that you don't have time to blog?? Yeah, you get Horribly Backed Up. So here comes a purge of posts. And they will cover the last two-ish weeks. We had so much scheduled over those days that I feel like I can hear a collective sigh of relief from my hard drive as I upload these pictures.

The biggest thing that occurred over Spring Break was, of course, Alex turning ten. WoW. Double Digits, dude. So we celebrated the occurance over and over again.

On his actual Birth Day Date, he woke up to Birthday Pancakes. Yes, folks, those are As. I know, I can hear the claps and whistles now. Pretty amazing what a little pancake batter in a squeeze bottle will do??

And for most Orthodox Christians that was also Holy Saturday. So, we rolled up our sleeves and colored eggs.

That is always quite a process for us. But this year there was no accidental red dye spillage. In fact, we contained the mess quite well.

And I got to wrap myself in a new apron. I do love aprons and my bestest on-line friend sent me this marvelous one. It matches my Mommy Juice cup. And it's black and white and pink. What more could I ask for, seriously?? What a wonderful unexpected surprise. And how did she know I actually collect aprons?? Hmm. It's amazing how well people get to know you in such a short amount of time.

Without further adieu, I present, rather proudly, our 2009 Easter Eggs. They were shiny and bright and ready to crack. For the record, we only cracked one in the process of cooking and two more in the process of dying. Those were ceramoniously dropped by Bella on the tile floor. She wanted to see what would happen. A scientist in the making, no doubt.

Wishing you a moment of shiny brightness. Hurry before it, too, cracks.


All Things Her Diamonds.


Most of you know how much I enjoy matchbox twenty and Rob Thomas' music in general. Here's a link to his new single "Her Diamonds". For me, it doesn't get much better than the lyrical brilliance of Mr. Thomas.

Also, I had my six month check up with my dermatologist today. And I'm still melanoma free. Thank you for all your prayers. They are, indeed, answered.

Blessings all around. Go enjoy your day and wear your sunscreen.


All Things Ten.

Oh, how well do I remember the above picture taken a mere nine years ago. I really wanted to post a retrospective of all ten years of Alex's Milestone pictures but I thought I'd spare him the embarrassment. However, as he walked by my PC screen a few hours ago, he noted with some grave disappointment, "Where are the rest of my pictures?" Yeah, just when you think you know your First Born well...they surprise you.

Well, the little smiling, blonde bald boy in khakis has turned into -

The big, smiling, blonde kid in khakis. How did a decade go by so quickly? Please don't answer that, it was purely a rhetorical question. For the record, the above official school photo was taken only a few weeks ago. And I'm still amazed at how grown up he suddenly looks.

On his actual birthday, though, he looked more like this -

After serving as Altar Boy for Holy Saturday's morning service, he was off to his soccer game. And much later in the afternoon, I let him get his wish to "play in the street" and we chose a well traveled highway. I'm kidding, of course. But, note how happy he was at that mere thought.

No, the picture was taken at the locale of his Birthday Dinner, BJ's Restaurant and Brewery. Uncle Rick was in town working through his Navy Reserve obligations and he managed to get away just in time to join us in the Official Double Digit Celebration. Thanks Uncle Rick, somehow, you always manage to be there to surprise us!

Please note in the picture below, how generous Alex was with the famous BJ's Pizookie dessert. I mean he readily shared it with his sisters. And didn't complain at all. Well, he waited about twenty four hours and then launched into a small tirade about only get two bites because the girls "hogged the rest". Ah, at least he's beginning to understand the delicate balance of equality standards between men and women early in his life.

For those of you who are worried, please stop. He will have an Official Sleepover Blowout this coming Saturday. With his buddies, decorations, pizza, snacks, cake, ice cream all cloaked in the theme of his choice - Harry Potter. No, no, I didn't influence him one tiny, itsy bitsy bit. Not at all. *winks*

Wishing you a Double Digit Moment. Think back to when you turned ten. And do something you wanted to do then, but didn't. Hurry, not much time left.


All Things Road Trip.

We're off on our Road Trip. Wish us luck. And Happy Spring Break to you all!

All Things Vampire Baseball.

It all started with the exciting news that Reno was getting their very own AAA baseball team, the Reno Aces. The above is a picture of the new stadium. You can imagine the excitement in our sports filled household. I'm trying to relate it to something I would be enthused about, let me think, ah, it's almost like a Fantabulous Shoe Sale at Dillards Moment.

So the day after I took the above picture, Ken's mind was clearly residing in Clever Land because my phone recieved a series of texts. My darling hubs, as usual, picked up on everything sports related in my Twilight obsession. While I was on a playdate with Kata, he and Maka, Alex and Bella attempted to play baseball in the park. Here's the transcript of his texts complete with the pictures he sent -

Text: "Cue the Vampire Baseball Music" -

Text: "Bella's going to play baseball?"

Text: "Vampires play baseball? It's the American past time."

Text: "It's time."

Text: "Victoria's not the only one with a wicked little curve ball."

File Under - Reasons Why I Love My Husband. He can make baseball interesting for his Non-Sport-O-Wife by quoting her favorite movie. Nice.

Wishing you a moment where someone surprises you with their thoughts, intellect and ability to please you. Hmm. Amazing indeed.


All Things Twitchy Witchy Girls.

"Oh my twitchy witchy girl, I think you are so nice, I give you bowls of
porridge, and I give you bowls of ice cream, I give you lots of kisses, and I
give you lots of hugs, but I never give you sandwiches with bugs, in. "
- Neil Gaiman, Coraline

I know I've mentioned it once or twice or even thrice...but the girls love "Coraline". Mostly Kata. It was a little too scary for Bella but having a Big Sister who is a reader helps. Kata's read the book twice. And she's seen the movie twice.

And all Kata wants is to have hair "like Coraline". So today, with the help of some Mommy Magic and Sheer Cleverness, we did it. Little Coraline-esque streaks. Aren't they lovely and glamorous?? We sure think so.

Wishing you lots of kisses and lots of hugs, but never ever sandwiches with bugs, in. Follow in our footsteps and make a small wish of yours come true today.


All Things Spring Struggles.

"Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year."
- Robert Frost, "A Prayer In Spring"

Spring struggles to arrive in our lovely Sierras. Sure, we have a glimmer here and there. Tiny little buds poking through showing signs of hope that indeed warmer weather is on its way.

I know many of you have already gone through the phase of your spring bulbs coming up but here in our parts, we're still in the process. In the process of poking our collective heads out of the ground, checking to see if indeed the sun is warm and out and about.

But then before we know it, we're plunged back in to a spring time blizzard. One that reminds us that we're not quite there yet. And we sigh and hunker down once more, knowing that eventually patterns will change and we will have sunshine and warmth.

Wishing you a moment where if you are hunkered down waiting for patterns to change that you do realize there is hope. Just like the weather, patterns in your life will take on new shape and meaning. In the mean time, enjoy Spring as it struggles to arrive in your neck of the woods.