25 March 2010

This was a good one...

I just finished reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, and I really, really enjoyed it. The story follows two sisters, Pearl, 20, and May, 18, who live a pampered life as "beautiful girls" in 1940s Shanghai until the Japanese attack during WW2 and the sisters are forced to endure a number of hardships, including arranged marriages and eventually the indignities of immigrating the United States at a time of extreme prejudice. I learned a lot about Chinese history and customs, the Red Scare of the 1950s, and what many newcomers to our country went through. Above all, though, this book is about the bonds of sisterhood, a relationship like no other:

"We hug but there are no tears. For every awful thing that's been said and done, she is my sister. Parents die, daughters grow up and marry out, but sisters are for life. She is the only person left in the world who shares my memories of our childhood, our parents, our Shanghai, our struggles, our sorrows, and, yes, even our moments of happiness and triumph. My sister is the one person who truly knows me, as I know her. The last thing May says to me is, 'When our hair is white, we'll still have our sister love.'"

I highly recommend both: the book, and having sisters...

Today we had lunch at TGIFriday's, and after being snippy at each other for a number of reasons the whole car ride over, I suggested that Ryan, Macauley and I name some things we know and love about each other to put us in a sweeter mood. Ryan said one thing he knows and loves about me is that I read more than anyone he knows and always have. I named Macauley's reading ability and hilarious vocabulary as some of my favorite characteristics. Reading has always been such a big part of my life, and I hope that Macauley's ability to read turns into the love of reading that I've always felt.

My next read will be Through the Heart, by Kate Morgenroth, a book I found in the Book Club section at Borders. I have work to do for the online class I teach, but I think I will settle into my bed with Booker instead (he keeps coming to the computer and giving me the "don't-you-want-to-lie-down-somewhere-and-cuddle? nose nudge), watch the new Project Runway and then start the new book. I love Spring Break.

Back in Vegas

Ryan and I made a quick getaway to Las Vegas in the early days of Spring Break. Macauley stayed behind with Ryan's parents and with Ryan's brother and his wife. This was my fifth trip and Ryan's third, so we did some of the tried and true (shopping, walking and eating) and also saw some new things. Our hotel wass in the new (not entirely finished) City Center, which is between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo and across the street from Planet Hollywood. Vdara is a very mod hotel, accessed primarily via a walkway off the back of Bellagio.

Our suite was nice and we had a great view at night. The hotel also had a great pool, where we spent the first part of our first full day, and a luxuious spa, where I got a pedicure and spent a little time being lazy while Ryan rested at the pool.

We had to walk through the Bellagio most any time we went anywhere, so we passed the Conservatory several times each day. It was all planted out for spring and smelled wonderful.

We arrived mid-afternoon on Sunday and immediately headed out for dinner and a little shopping. Our first stop was the Anthroplogie in the Forum Shops. We decided to try the colorful Serendipity 3 outside Caesar's Palace for dinner to enjoy the nice weather and the views of the Strip. I'm not sure what possessed me to order this enormously meaty hot dog...it came back to haunt me later and I have sworn off hot dogs indefinitely.

We, of course, walked a lot, and saw lots of the same things. I had never seen the volcano erupt at the Mirage, though, so we made an effort to do that. I taped it on my camera to show Macauley.

Poor Ryan was pretty sick our entire trip with flu-like symptoms, but he was a trooper and totally rallied on our last day. We started both days with breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi under the Eiffel Tower at the Paris. On Tuesday, we took off in a different direction than we normally do and explored the area between the Monte Carlo and MGM.

We walked through the still underway Crystals shopping area at City Center, which has upscale stores and some cool architectural features.

We hadn't been to the M & M store before, and I spent the whole time wishing Macauley was with us because it was his type of thing. We went through all four floors and got him a few gifts, including a red M & M old-fashioned alarm clock that he was thrilled to get.

We also went next door to the Coca-Cola store, another first, and did the tasting menu of favorite Coke flavors from around the world. Ryan enjoyed several of them, but we were both completely gagged out by Italy's fave, a licorice-type drink called Beverly. Beware the Beverly if you ever do this yourself.

I mostly stuck with my plain old Coca-Cola with a shot of vanilla.

But in case there is any doubt where my true allegiance lies...

I'm a Pepsi girl through and through.

We went through MGM, and although I had been there once with Molly on my first visit to Vegas to see KA, I don't remember seeing the Lion Habitat before. I would definitely like to take Macauley to see the lions (rotated out a few hours a day from their ranch outside of town) and to the Rainforest Cafe nearby.

All the walking we do in Vegas makes us feel better about all the eating we also do while there, but we wanted to try the Monorail to see how it works in case we take Macauley in the future and he putzes out on hoofing it. It was pretty convenient. We only went from MGM back up to Harrah's, but I think it would be worth buying the three-day pass next time.

Our last night in town, we dressed up and took a cab to Firefly for tapas, which was good but defintely better when you're with a big group and everyone can share the variety of food. We were up at 5 am the next morning to head home and Ryan and I were both glad to see our bubby and our Booker Bear, and to still have a few days off at home left on our break.

17 March 2010

Write on

Every evening, I root through Macauley's backpack to see what he's brought home from another exciting day of first grade. Three nights a week there's a blue folder with homework inside (spelling words, vocab words, sight words, math and 15 minutes of reading). Yesterday he brought home his packet of spring school pictures, which I like better than the ones from the fall. Most every time I reach inside the bag I pull out all miscellany of photocopied coloring pages and worksheets he's worked on that day. I think I kept absolutely everything from kindergarten, but I'm being more selective in what I file away this year. Some keepers lately:

The squiggly lines are to be read as static. I just laughed and laughed when Macauley read this out loud to me.

Several members of our family (Nana and Papa in particular) find Macauley's lifelong fascination with laundry (one that has recently shot over the top after our purchase of a new front-load washer and dryer) adorable, but I can't tell you how exhausting it is for me. Almost every day when we get home from a long day at school, the first thing Macauley asks is if we can do some laundry. I don't always feel like doing laundry when I walk in the door. Sometimes, when I'm dozing on the couch during Oprah, I hear the washer filling with water and know he's taken it upon himself to start a load. Sometimes a full load and other times just one piece, like the eensy weensy Teeny Beanie Baby he'd won from the treasure chest at school that he ran through a full cycle entirely by itself. I'm sure our utility bill will reflect this zealousness.

Another gem--the when I grow up I want to work at Wal-mart drawing and reflection piece. Ryan and I both worked at a grocery store through college and really enjoyed being checkers, so perhaps he will follow in our footsteps (in his red and silver Nikes, as shown) and be a "cashear."

Dream big, my little love. And keep writing...

15 March 2010

So spontaneous

Next week is Spring Break, and we'd talked about going somewhere forever but hadn't settled on anything. Macauley has been invited on a trip with Uncle Rob and Aunt Lauren and various nieces and nephews to St. Louis and Branson. Today Ryan and I decided, mostly on a whim, to book our own getaway for the time he's gone...to Vegas! We'll only be gone a couple of days, but when you've been there several times before and know what you want to do (and eat and buy and not do), that's plenty. We'll be staying at the Vdara, part of the newly opened City Center, an architectural masterpiece by most accounts. So modern. So chic. So just the two of us.

07 March 2010


We're still a couple of weeks out from the official start date so I don't want to jinx it and say spring has sprung, but today at least was warm and sunny and the outdoors beckoned us all. Booker ran circles around the yard and lounged happily on the porch. House cat Alice Cooper edged her grey self out into the big world for a moment. We tossed around the football and took a walk in the woods.

I found a couple of plastic shopping bags near the trail on our walk that set an impromptu trash pickup into motion. We filled both bags with chunks of foam, plastic bottles, strips of other plastic bags, enough to fill both in a matter of minutes without even really trying. A bit sad. There were lots of little liquor bottles and beer cans, Swisher Sweets packages--evidence of sneaky teenagers cutting loose out back while we sleep unaware.

Once I started really looking, and while the woods are still brown and crunchy and bare from winter's slumber, I found lots of trash, disposable and otherwise, tucked here and there, in sight and out. And I found some rusty crustys that had been hiding right behind my house all along.

I don't know that I will keep these things, but I was drawn of course to the weathered metal of the chair springs and foggy glass of the bottle. I'm not sure what the longer metal piece is. It's heavy and has a hook on one end and almost looks like one handle to an old manual tiller or something. I left it out on the porch, but I brought the springs in and tucked a few postcards in the wires.

I rinsed the bottle off only to find, as I suspected, that it isn't particularly a gem, just another castoff from clandestine teenage revelry. It could probably still be altered with some sheet music and an old key or something. Stumbling on these items with a bit of potential steps out my back door has compelled me to look more closely on my next wander through the woods. I'm sure to find more trash, but I just might find a treasure, too. Springs themselves and signs of spring--we found both today.

Baby, baby {baby}

I drove to Rolla yesterday for the baby shower honoring one of my all-time BFFs Keely and her husband Josh, who wil be leaving in just under two weeks to pick up their new little boy from Ethiopia. I also got a chance to reunite with Keely's childhood friend Kristie, who Keely and Alicia and I traveled through London and Paris with in 2001.

Keely and Josh and Gabriel Thomas Scott were showered with many fabulous gifts and a whole lot of love. I went for a giraffe-themed basket of the essentials: comfy loungewear, good books, yummy soap, a furry friend, a soft blanket and a caboodle of diapers.

I also got a chance to stop by the home of another of my BFFs from Drury, Julie Jones, to meet her twin boys, born at the end of January. Adorable. I held little John because he was awake and let Max sleep until next time.

The boys needed a gift, too, so I played off the "Mama" book and went with teddy bears. That's a really sweet book about a mama and child going everywhere together and never letting go.

The twins aren't identical, but just in case they need some distinguishable factor with their matching outfits, I thought they could each wear a different pair of socks. I could have sat in Julie's living room for two days and talked with her; same with Keely. I know they're both going to be the best moms ever, and I hope I get to see them--and their little ones--again soon.


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