Back to School Again

Our students return to school tomorrow, and I am SO excited! Back to school time is overflowing with energy, with excitement, with possibility…opportunities are lurking behind every door, and how fantastic that we get to take them!  For our teachers, it’s a time to embrace the idea that you really are the superheroes of the world….all that’s missing is your cape. Not many people get to go to work every day and change lives – how very lucky you are. :-) For. Real.

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Last week, our superintendent shared the following with us, and I couldn’t wait to pass it on to you – it’s beautiful. :-) It’s a letter from a teacher to their students – courtesy of C. Mielke - here goes:

 

First, you need to know right now that I care about you. In fact, I care about you more than you may care about yourself. And I care not just about your grades or your test scores, but about you as a person. And, because I care, I need to be honest with you. Do I have permission to be honest with you — both in what I say and how I say it?

Here’s the thing: I lose sleep because of you. Every week.

Before I tell you why, you should understand the truth about school. You see, the main event of school is not academic learning. It never has been. It never will be. And, if you find someone who is passionate in claiming that it is about academics, that person is lying to himself or herself and may genuinely believe that lie. Yes, algebra, essay writing, Spanish, the judicial process — all are important and worth knowing. But they are not the MAIN event.

The main event is learning how to deal with the harshness of life when it gets difficult — how to overcome problems as simple as a forgotten locker combination, to obnoxious peers, to gossip, to people doubting you, to asking for help in the face of self-doubt, to pushing yourself to concentrate when a million other thoughts and temptations are fingertips away.

It is your resilience in conquering the main event — adversity — that truly prepares you for life after school. Because, mark my words, school is not the most challenging time you will have in life. You will face far greater challenges than these. Sure, you will have times more amazing than you can imagine, but you will also confront incomparable tragedy, frustration, and fear in the years to come.

But, you shouldn’t be worried about the fact that you will face great adversities. You should be worried because you’re setting yourself up to fail at overcoming them. Here’s the real reason I lose hours of sleep worrying about you: You are failing the main event of school. You are quitting. You may not think you are quitting, but you are because quitting wears many masks.

For some, you quit by throwing the day away and not even trying to write a sentence or a fraction because you think it doesn’t matter or you can’t or there’s no point. But it does. What you write is not the main event. The fact that you do take charge of your own fear and doubt in order to write when you are challenged — THAT is the main event.

Some of you quit by skipping class on your free education. Being punctual to fit the mold of the classroom is not the main event of showing up. The main event is delaying your temptation and investing in your own intelligence — understanding that sometimes short-term pain creates long-term gain and that great people make sacrifices for a greater good.

For others, you quit by being rude and disrespectful to adults in the hallway who ask you to come to class. Bowing to authority is not the main event. The main event is learning how to problem solve maturely, not letting your judgement be tainted by the stains of emotion.

I see some of you quit by choosing not to take opportunities to work harder and pass a class, no matter how far down you are. The main event is not getting a number to tell you you are worthy. The main event is pulling your crap together and making hard choices and sacrifices when things seem impossible. It is finding hope in the hopeless, courage in the chasm, guts in the grave.

What you need to see is that every time you take the easy way out, you are building a habit of quitting. And it will destroy your future and it will annihilate your happiness if you let it. Our society cares nothing for quitters. Life will let you die alone, depressed, and poor if you can’t man or woman up enough to deal with hardship. You are either the muscle or the dirt. You either take resistance and grow stronger or blow in the wind and erode.

As long as you are in my life, I am not going to let quitting be easy for you. I am going to challenge you, confront you, push you, and coach you. You can whine. You can throw a tantrum. You can shout and swear and stomp and cry. And the next day, guess what? I will be here waiting — smiling and patient — to give you a fresh start. Because you are worth it.

So, do yourself a favor: Step up. No more excuses. No more justifications. No blaming. No quitting. Just pick your head up. Rip the cords out of your ears. Grab the frickin’ pencil and let’s do this.

 

Bloody brilliant, yes? I know. :-) It’s the perfect thing to think about on the eve of a new school year, but it’s also a pretty good philosophy about life in general – when you’re feeling overwhelmed and incapable and small….just grab the frickin’ pencil and let’s do this. Love. :-)

Now let’s have a great year! :-)

xxx

Let’s Hear It For The Boy

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I saw Richard Linklater’s masterpiece “Boyhood” last weekend, and find my mind forever altered by the artistry of it…I’ve never seen aging and growth portrayed onscreen like that before, and I thought it was gorgeous. Here’s a review of the movie from Roger Ebert’s website (pay attention to this review – beautifully written):

 

The second shot of “Boyhood” doubles as the movie’s poster image: a young child named Mason, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) lying on his back in green grass, staring at the sky. He does not speak and there is no voice-over narration, so we cannot know what’s in his head. But the movie is contemplating, among other things, the fleeting nature of existence—the way that time, to quote “Life Itself,” slips through your fingers like a long silk scarf.

“Boyhood” became the instant subject of media buzz last year when Linklater revealed that he’d been working on the project for 12 years, following the same actors (including Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the hero’s parents, Olivia and Mason, Sr., and the director’s daughter Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha) through the early part of the 21st century. We watch the children grow up and the adults thicken and grey. We see Olivia and Mason, Sr. in various relationships. Olivia is looking to replace her ex-husband and make her “broken” family intact again, and this search leads her into a series of arrangements that are wrong for her, sometimes horribly so. Mason, Sr., goes the other way, acting the role of bohemian free-spirit even as he works a series of rather typical jobs. The kids get taller and become interested in particular subjects, and in sex, and after a while they start to think about college and what they want to do with their lives.

It’s all a blur. The blur is indescribably moving. We’ve seen people age in movies and on TV programs—the kids in the “Harry Potter” and “Up” series, for instance, and little Ronny Howard on “The Andy Griffith Show,” and Kiernan Shipka on “Mad Men”—but we’ve never seen it happen in such a compact span of screen time. That’s what makes “Boyhood” singular. There is no other work to which one can directly compare it without distorting pop culture history. This movie is truly its own thing, as eccentrically unique as Linklater’s breakthrough “Slacker,” another Austin-set feature to which “Boyhood” feels (curiously) like a companion piece, or perhaps a bookend.

Mason is a child of divorce. He and his mother and his sister move around a lot, all over Texas, a U.S. state as big as France. Mason’s dad does not have custody, so has to accommodate his wife’s shifts in geography over the years, sometimes driving hundreds of miles to see his children. Even though Olivia and Mason, Jr. love their kids, there are moments when they resent them, because once they had them they were locked into a particular track and had to put their kids first, always. The trick, though—and this is where Linklater the writer shows how generous and kind he is—lies in realizing that sometimes when parents think they’re putting their kids first they’re really responding to conditioning, or doing what their society or their gender or their parents told them was the correct thing to do.

The movie’s about social conditioning as well as time. It asks basic, deep questions. What makes us “normal”? Is there such a thing as “normal”? What makes us identify as men, as women, as children? Is the traditional domestic arrangement—a wife, a husband and kids living in the same house—really desirable for every person, and genuinely good for society, or does it inflict distress on those whose personalities and desires cannot function within it? Two important men in Olivia’s life have drinking problems; alcoholism is a disease, but it’s also a means of forgetting, of numbing pain, of denial. Do we really change over time? Can we decide to change ourselves? Or is free will an illusion? Do we seize moments or do moments seize us? (“You are responsible for your own actions,” warns a sign hanging in the hero’s elementary school.)

Olivia seems, like many single moms, dispirited by the the responsibilities she bears. Early on we hear her arguing with her boyfriend, a single man who resents that she can’t just come and go as she pleases, as he does. (“I was somebody’s daughter, and then I was somebody’s fucking mother,” she says.) She’s chasing an idea of normalcy that may not be right for her. In an intense scene that occurs in a car outside of a school, not long after a period of domestic strife, Olivia asks for understanding because she’s trying to build “a family” with a new boyfriend, and Mason exclaims, “We already have a family!”—and he’s right. Olivia is a college professor and a liberal feminist, but she’s still bought into the husband-and-wife-and-two-kids-equals-a-real-family thing. She studies “unconditioned response” in one of her grad school courses but it takes a few years for her to figure out, in practical terms, what the phrase means.

There are points near the end of “Boyhood” when Olivia might remind you of George Bailey, the hero of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Of the movie’s two parents, she is nearly always the responsible one—the “boring” one. Even her worst decisions were made for noble reasons, but the constraints that motherhood placed on her freedom always gnawed at her. Over time, though, she grows by leaps and bounds, finishing grad school and becoming a teacher and then a person of considerable influence in her community. We start to see the profound, lasting impact that her moral rectitude has had on the world. She evolves, as surely as her ex-husband and children evolve, but the process is subtler. It’s not right out there, like her ex-husband’s delayed maturation.

The film’s title and choice of protagonist have been criticized (gently but firmly) for unthinkingly confirming that heterosexual men are at the center of the universe. But this reading ignores the movie’s constant (if empathetic) critique of American manhood, or what passes for American manhood: an entitled mental state that is really just boyhood with money and a driver’s license. Mason, Sr., for all the love that he shows his kids, is an example of this. He’s a great natural playmate for his son and daughter, joining them on the floor as they futz with toys and taking them on camping trips and trying to purchase their love with gifts as if every visitation were a miniature Christmas. But he doesn’t express much real wisdom until his kids edge toward adolescence and become tight-lipped and undemonstrative, and he pulls the car over during a family trip to demand that they have real conversations (amusingly, Samantha makes the same request of him).

He has to learn to give in as well as to give—and that giving in doesn’t always have to mean giving up. Even when Mason, Sr. is 30 or 40 he still lives like a 19-year old who just got his first place. He resents his ex-wife as a killjoy, and clings to his GTO the way little boys cling to their loveys. And yet he matures onscreen along with his kids, mellowing over the years and becoming less strident and arrogant and more generous, learning that it’s possible to be a person of integrity even if you aren’t insisting that every single thing go your way at every single moment (a pattern of behavior that only narcissists mistake for freedom). We get the sense that in some ways Mason the elder is un-learning what he learned during the first part of his life—an experience that his kids are now going through, with different details. It’s rough, this process. It’s emotional boot camp, with versions of hazing. And I love how “Boyhood” admits that, in certain ways, growing up stinks. Every character has a least one moment in which they have to heed the advice of Corinthians and put away childish things. None of them like it.

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The adults in Mason, Jr.’s orbit (including his mother and father and various teachers and authority figures) all want to parent or mentor him by turning him into reflections or extensions of themselves. In high school, a photography teacher tells the budding shutterbug hero that he needs to move away from arty compositions and learn to shoot sports so that he can make a living, advice which assumes that Mason, Jr. wants to earn a living with photography rather than treating it as an avocation, or as the visual version of a diary. The manager of a restaurant where Mason, Jr. works as a dishwasher wants to groom him as a fry cook. The man’s eyes light up as he describes this arc, as if he’s moved by his own generosity.

At various points during the boy’s life he’s pushed toward bad decisions by other boys who warn him that failure to act a certain way makes him a “fag” or a “pussy.” You sense the kid pushing back against these pressures. You realize that, for all their faults, and despite the geographical and emotional obstacles that they were up against, his parents did a good job raising him. Or maybe he absorbed their better qualities as if by osmosis. (Did he seize their better qualities, or did their better qualities seize him?) Linklater doesn’t explain any of this—the storytelling and filmmaking are intuitive; things that look like pointers or labels aren’t—and yet it’s all there in the movie. You can feel it. Perhaps without meaning to, the film exemplifies the best piece of advice that anyone gives the hero: “We’re all just winging it.”

“Boyhood” is broken into discrete dramatic chunks—this is really an anthology of short movies with a recurring cast—and there are no timestamps telling us that we’ve passed from 2002 into 2003 or from 2009 into 2010. We realize where we are on the timeline when we hear somebody talking about the Iraq war, or hear a song on the soundtrack that was big during a certain year, or realize that the boy has changed his haircut or gotten a little bit taller. The simultaneously nourishing and corrosive effects of time make the film quietly moving and humble-seeming, despite its three-hour length and conceptual audacity. Time is what makes the film cohere even when particular scenes, images or performances seem clunky or undernourished. Fixating on imperfections while discussing “Boyhood” would be as petty as criticizing the sculpting of individual stones in a cathedral. The totality matters. Even more important is our recognition that the totality is as fleeting as life.

Time, and our interaction with time, and the way in which we are all ultimately overmatched and worn down by time, and the notion of cinema as a means of sculpting with time: these and other aspects of temporality are at the heart of “Boyhood.” Time is the core around which all of this movie’s musings on childhood and parenthood are woven. It’s the river down which the scenes and characters travel without consciously realizing that they are on individual journeys that all have the same ending. If life is “about” anything, it’s about realizing and accepting that fact: that everything is fleeting. Time gives birth and nourishes and then obliterates as it moves ahead, like the family which, in an early scene, prepares to move out of a house by covering murals and hand-lettered height charts with white paint. The film ends and the credits come up and you ask the same question that you ask at the end of an evening spent with old, dear friends: where did the time go?

 

Lovely, eh? The movie gave me so much to think about and marvel at….and I cannot recommend it enough. Go check it out!! See what you think – be sure to let me know! :-) I’ll be waiting to hear from you! :-)

 

xxx

Seven Spanish Angels

I decided to try a recipe for Sugar-Free Granola this morning – how disgustingly healthy of me, eh? I know! It’s not ready yet, but I will share the recipe and details once I know that it’s turned out decently enough to share with you – hopefully it’ll be gooooood! :-) After mixing my chia seeds and assorted other healthy ingredients, I thought I had better do something “ME”-style to counteract all the healthy Martha Stewart-esque juju vibes that were in here – so I made sangria. :-)

I cheated a bit by using a bottle of sangria that I’d bought at the store yesterday, but I doctored it up with a TON of fresh fruit: apples, oranges, peaches, and strawberries. Yummy!! :-) Here’s how it turned out:

I layered the fruit in my favorite Maggiano's decanter (which was a gift - I swear I didn't swipe this one!!!) - apples, strawberries, peaches, and oranges on the top!

I layered the fruit in my favorite Maggiano’s decanter (which was a gift – I swear I didn’t swipe this one!!!) – apples, strawberries, peaches, and oranges on the top!

Ready-to-go sangria! :-)

Ready-to-go sangria! :-)

Yuuuummmmyyyy!!!! :-)

Yuuuummmmyyyy!!!! :-)

Ta-dah!!!!! :-)

Ta-dah!!!!! :-)

 

It’s five o’clock somewhere….time to dig in!!! :-) It’s going to be a great day!!!! :-)

 

xxx

All About That Bass

This. This is everything that’s right:

Click on the picture! :-)

Click on the picture! :-)

 

 

Feel free to sing along:

Because you know
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

I see the magazines workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty, just raise ‘em up
Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says boys like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass
Hey!

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She said boys like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass
‘Bout that bass, ’bout that bass
Hey, hey, ooh
You know you like this bass

 

Great, right? I know. I could not love the message that this incredibly catchy song preaches more…it’s all that’s right about body positivity and self acceptance. I love that…and hope to someday do a better job of embodying these ideas….it’s a daily struggle. I hope that somewhere out there are people who don’t care about the width of your arse, who think that curves and junk in all the right places are desirable, not something to be tolerated. And I hope that these people come around my neighborhood…it’d be nice to see them and have some fun. :-)

 

if you’re looking for me, I will be shaking my arse to this song…because, dear friends, I am all about that bass. :-)

 

xxx

The People In Your Neighborhood

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There are many different people in this world, but everyone falls in to two general categories that say A LOT about what kind of person they are: fart people and non-fart people. Sorry to be crass, but….it’s true. You are either a person who likes farts and finds them hilarious, or you think they are vile and belong nowhere outside of the bathroom. As I’m sure you’ve noticed before, I am definitely in this first category – I’m a fart person. Of course this doesn’t mean that I myself am one who farts, because I most certainly don’t….I am a lady. And, just FYI, if I did fart, it would sound like giggling babies and unicorn sighs, and the room would be instantly full of the smell of peonies. For. Real. :-) While I may not be the kind of girls who busts wind on the regular, you can bet your bottom dollar that I find them absolutely hysterical. When farts happen on TV shows, I have been known to rewind the scene a good twenty times and laugh until I cry…because I find them SO funny. When someone accidentally lets a squeaker go in public, I usually have to get up and leave the room because I can’t stop laughing and there’s nothing quiet about me at all. It’s kind of tough for the farter because if they aren’t already embarrassed about their air biscuit, they soon will be by the time I’m done snorting and carrying on. I am ridiculous.

This is me :-)

This is me :-)

Let me tell you a story about a girl who accidentally let her bum burp in public – she was sitting in a restaurant across from her mom; as the two of them were conversing, the girl noticed the peeps at the next table get up to leave, standing in the aisle right by the table. The girl kept chatting with her mom, and then apparently had a small stroke – she forgot where she was, lifted her leg, cocked her cheek, and unleashed an absolute ripper. Said ripper reverberated around the restaurant, thanks to the vinyl of the booth they were sitting in. It was so classy. The worst part was that the girl had taken leave of her faculties, not realized what she had just done, and kept right on talking….as her poor mother recreated Macaulay Caulkin’s famous Home Alone face across from her. About twenty second later, as the shrapnel was still settling, our girl realized what had transpired and was pretty much ready to move zip code zones and/or die….the shame, the embarrassment. Those poor people standing there putting on their coats probably thought they were being shat upon. Ridiculous. But you know I love this story with all my heart, and I’m sure you know that trying to write this story down for you resulted in so much laughter that I cried. Again. I am little more than a 12 year old boy trapped in the body of a grown woman. Ridiculous. :-)

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There is something really exciting and liberating about finding out that someone is a fart person. Think about it – when you first meet someone, you usually don’t know straight away that they are fans of fluffing. So, you’re left having to choose your jokes carefully, being sure not to cross the line from funny to flatulent. It’s tough!! However, once someone opens up and shares their love of breaking wind with you, then it’s on! You’re free to pull a Marlo Thomas and be who you wanna be!! Woohoo!!!! :-)

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Things like this make me die giggling.  I need to grow up, I know. But in the meantime…if you need me, I’ll be the one in the corner giggling about how I thought my Dad invented Pull My Finger, a game of which he was a vigorous and spirited enthusiast. I thought this until I was 12. Oh well….

I still believe. :-)

 

xxx

 

PS: I apologize if you are not a fart person and my crassness has offended you. It’s all meant in good fun. I promise. :-)

I Can’t Make You Love Me

Do you remember the Bonnie Raitt song I Can’t Make You Love Me? I think that is one of the most heartbreaking songs that’s ever been because it is so bloody true. There is absolutely nothing you can do when someone doesn’t want you or want to be with you….and that is just so hard, don’t you think? I spent my break today listening to three really cool women bemoan the fact that the objects of their desire didn’t return their feelings. Sad trombone!

Have you ever been pursued by someone that you were not interested in? I don’t necessarily mean that the very thought of them fills your mouth with bile and has you running for the nearest pot to pray to the porcelain god (although I’ve certainly experienced that feeling – more than once, sadly…but my all-time favorite comes in the form of a person whose number is stored in my phone to this day as Jackass John, just to make sure that I NEVER pick up the phone should that dumbass call – which still happens from time to time, even though A LOT of time has passed, and I’ve made my lack of interest abundantly clear. Holy for long sidebar – sorry)…you know the people that you’re sure are probably quite nice, but just not for you. It doesn’t matter what they do, how they do things….they are not your cup of tea. And there’s nothing wrong with that!!! There are some who won’t respect your decision and will try to make you feel badly…People who try to make you feel guilty for not being into them are absolute arseholes. Don’t be a bully and try to make someone like you, either. Just say no to being an arsehole. Just. Say. No. Be yourself…unless you can be a unicorn, then be a unicorn. :-)

Words to live by :-)

Words to live by :-)

One of the hardest things you’ll ever learn in life, my little crickets, is that sometimes there will be people who just aren’t that in to you. I know….it shocks me, too. Why wouldn’t every person in the world spend their leisure time building shrines in your honor because you’re faboo? I think they should. :-) However, once in a while you will come across someone that doesn’t return your affection, and your happily ever after disappears like a wisp of smoke. Poof….gone. How do you handle that? If you are me, you sit at home, drinking Pinot by candlelight listening to the aforementioned Bonnie Raitt song and feeling sorry for myself…like a larger, less attractive version of Renee Zellwegger in Bridget Jones. However, not a lot of good comes from that approach, so I don’t recommend it. What I do recommend is that you think about the people that you’ve not been interested in and how you realllly hoped that they would just get over it, move on, and quit texting you pictures of themselves that look like pedophile mugshots. (Fun Fact – I have received a TON of these over the years. If you ever want to be both frightened and tickled at the same time, ask me to show you. Good times!! :-) Important note: men – do not send Richard pics. Even when we like you and think we might be in to you – Richard pics aren’t that awesome. Trust.)

So….back to you. You know what you need to do? Get over it. Does it hurt / suck when someone doesn’t want to be with you? Sure does. Will it kill you, though? Not likely. Just put on your big girl panties and put one foot in front of the other….and you’ll be fine. I promise. :-)

Come over and drink Pinot with me, if you want….I’ll show you those pictures. It’ll be fun! ;-)

Xxx

 

Summer Loving

I’ve finally taken a few days totally away from work this week, and the Wee One and I got away from San Antonio for a change of scenery. We spent last weekend in Humble, a suburb of Houston, with friends from my hometown in Canada (fun fact – the friend that we visited was my childhood babysitter!)…and we had the best time! We spent a lot of time swimming in the pool (I started teaching the Wee One how to dive, which was terrific…I was SO proud of my tiny baby friend!! :-) We went to Discovery Green, a park in downtown Houston (near Minute Maid park, home of the Astros) on Saturday to see a Mad Scientist show for kids (good in theory, but the execution was pretty rough….the scientist wasn’t great), and had a nice walkabout in the beautiful park. We also went to a pool party, ate lots of good food, and had a really lovely, relaxing time. After a productive and wonderful trip to Ikea (I love Ikea with all my heart and will until I take my last breath….love!!! :-) ), we headed back to San Antonio. :-)

After two days at home, we hit the road again and spent a couple of nights at the YO Ranch Resort in Kerrville, Texas. It was nice, despite the fact that it rained a fair bit while we were there (odd for summer in South Texas, but we need it, so….it’s all good). We spent a lot of time swimming in the pool (sad bloody trombone, though….the swim up bar isn’t open during the week – noooooo!! I loooooove swim up bars!), cuddling, playing games in our room….all good stuff. We did a lot of reading, took a trip to Ingram, Texas to see a replica of Stonehenge – pretty random and awesome! We took a bunch of pictures this week, and had a good time just being together. She and I have been discussing our next Fancy Girl Trip – and while I’m certain that it’ll be incredible, these little close-to-home jaunts are pretty great, too. :-) I’m such a lucky mama. :-)

At Discovery Green in Houston! :-)

At Discovery Green in Houston! :-)

 

The flowers at Discovery Green were stunning! :-)

The flowers at Discovery Green were stunning! :-)

I LOVE water lilies! :-)

I LOVE water lilies! :-)

My friends have this sign at their house...it's a philosophy of mine. ;-)

My friends have this sign at their house…it’s a philosophy of mine. ;-)

This is Maggie, and she might be the cutest, sweetest little pup I've ever met! :-)

This is Maggie, and she might be the cutest, sweetest little pup I’ve ever met! :-)

Living the life :-)

Living the life :-)

Even Merry the Mouse had a great time! :-)

Even Merry the Mouse had a great time! :-)

In Ingram, Texas....crazy, eh? :-)

In Ingram, Texas….crazy, eh? :-)

Stonehenge! :-)

Stonehenge! :-)

Isn't this awesome? :-)

Isn’t this awesome? :-)

Pretty :-)

Pretty :-)

Cuddling in the pool! :-)

Cuddling in the pool! :-)

Happiness :-)

Happiness :-)

 

So. Much. Happiness. :-)

xxx

Tattoo

What do you think of tattoos? I generally like them a lot, as you will know if you know even a bit about me…I admire them on others, I have some, and I’ve always been really, really happy with mine. I got my first one when I was 18 – it’s a dolphin (named Alice, thanks to one of my childhood friends and a night in the hometown bar), a Van Gogh sunflower, a smiley face, and a Canadian maple leaf. Each of these tattoos was deliberately chosen to represent some important things to me – the dolphin is representative of my lifelong love and passion for water, for dolphins, and for the fact that I grew up feeling awkward every moment of the day…except when I was in water. When I swam, or dived, I was like the dolphins, and all of my awkwardness and self-loathing disappeared. The Van Gogh sunflower symbolizes beauty and passion to me, a commitment to art and self like no other. The life story of Vincent is one of he most tragic of all times, yet out of great hardship and difficulty rose beauty and passion like a phoenix from the ashes. Vincent sought success in Paris, my favorite city, and lived his life like an outcast….not unlike good ol’ me. The smiley face represented a new beginning, one where I committed myself to my own happiness. I have faltered a bit here and there, but most days since I got that one added in 2000 have been spent pursuing those things which will make me happy and leave me feeling enriched and fulfilled. :-) The maple leaf is obviously an homage to my beloved homeland, the true north strong and free. I don’t live in Canada anymore, but Canada sure lives in me. I got that one at the base of my neck/top of my back…to remind myself of where I’m from, and that my solid Canadian upbringing will always be behind me to guide me onwards. :-)

This week, I added two more to the collection! The first one is a small, cute Eiffel Tower, to commemorate my beautiful trip to Paris with the Wee One, our tremendous love of all things French, and the gorgeous memories that she and I share. This one is on my right shoulder blade, and I love it!! :-) The second new addition is a honeybee on the top of my foot. This little bee is to remind me of the importance of working hard, of buzzing along, of trying your best….so that someday sweet rewards will be yours. I had them done by a local artist that I’d met about four years ago, when I went to him to have Alice and the gang touched up. At the time, we spoke a lot about schools and education, as he had a daughter getting ready to head to high school, and he had a lot of questions for me about secondary education. He has changed shops since I last saw him, but he remembered me at once when I went in this week (partially because he was obsessed with how easy and awesome it is to tattoo my lily-white skin!). Turns out that his daughter is a student at my school now (small world or what, eh?),and he did another brilliant job on me. :-) Here’s the proof:

image image

Cute, eh? My mother will be unimpressed, but…c’est la vie. The ship of trying to impress her set sail a very, very long time ago. They make me happy, which is all that really matters to me…and the Wee One thinks they are fab. :-) The pursuit of happiness is something we should all aspire to, don’t you think? :-)

Xxx

Lucky Star

I visited new San Antonio eatery Starfish last Wednesday night, and I can’t wait to tell you all about  my visit! I ended up there accidentally, as my friends and I had a different dining destination in mind. However, one of the hostesses came out and spoke with us outside when she saw us stop to take a look, and as the door opened, the most gorgeous smells wafted out behind her…and I was sold!! While the service was odd (too much crossover between servers on our table, unusual timing on food delivery, and a never-ending friggin wait for bread), the experience was pretty much incredible…and since this was their fourth night of dinner service since they’d opened, I know that their lovely manager Logan will rectify the front of the house hiccups very quickly. Here are the highlights of our meal:

 

I started with Bread Salad - I've never had Bread Salad before, but this very simple dish is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. The ingredients were simple, but the depth of flavor was incredible. Love!!! :-)

I started with Bread Salad – I’ve never had Bread Salad before, but this very simple dish is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. The ingredients were simple, but the depth of flavor was incredible. Love!!! :-)

Grilled Calamari - my dindin. Mighty tasty, friends....the sauce was divine!! :-)

Grilled Calamari – my dindin. Mighty tasty, friends….the sauce was divine!! :-)

One of my friends ate shrimp and grits - this bowl had a chorizo vinaigrette in it that pushed the dish to a whole other universe. A-ma-zing!!! :-)

One of my friends ate shrimp and grits – this bowl had a chorizo vinaigrette in it that pushed the dish to a whole other universe. A-ma-zing!!! :-)

Their bouillabaisse was extraordinary...just look at it! It was served in a very cool angled bowl (I'm a sucker for good presentation),and the broth....oh,friends, the broth....insane. The very delicious bread they served was unreal dipped in that broth. Yum. :-)

Their bouillabaisse was extraordinary…just look at it! It was served in a very cool angled bowl (I’m a sucker for good presentation),and the broth….oh,friends, the broth….insane. The very delicious bread they served was unreal dipped in that broth. Yum. :-)

This pork chop was one of the most beautifully-presented dishes I've ever seen....and it reportedly tasted incredible!! Juicy and flavorful, bursts of yummy in every bite! :-)

This pork chop was one of the most beautifully-presented dishes I’ve ever seen….and it reportedly tasted incredible!! Juicy and flavorful, bursts of yummy in every bite! :-)

The kitchen action - check out the jellyfish lights!! :-)

The kitchen action – check out the jellyfish lights!! :-)

 

Dessert #1 - fruit, peanut butter, some tasty cream stuff. Good,but not worth the moolah.

Dessert #1 – fruit, peanut butter, some tasty cream stuff. Good,but not worth the moolah.

Dessert #2 - Key Lime Pie. I know,I thought this thing - pretty though it is - was unlike any key lime pie I'd ever eaten,either. But guess what? It's earth-shatteringly delicious!!!!! Woohoo!!! Plus, anything that throws a macaron on top is cool with me. :-)

Dessert #2 – Key Lime Pie. I know, I thought this thing – pretty though it is – was unlike any key lime pie I’d ever eaten, either. But guess what? It’s earth-shatteringly delicious!!!!! Woohoo!!! Plus, anything that throws a macaron on top is cool with me. :-)

Dessert #3 - the menu calls this Banana Story, which I hope they change because that's a dumb name. What's not dumb, though, is this dessert: banana bread, chocolate mousse, brûléed banana....it was freaking amazing!!! :-) Don't let the name out you off! (Perhaps they'll rename it Leanna Banana in my honor??! ;-) )

Dessert #3 – the menu calls this Banana Story, which I hope they change because that’s a dumb name. What’s not dumb, though, is this dessert: banana bread, chocolate mousse, brûléed banana….it was freaking amazing!!! :-) Don’t let the name out you off! (Perhaps they’ll rename it Leanna Banana in my honor??! ;-) )

Dessert #4 - Basil sorbet, with a mint macaron. It comforts me to think that there might be a heaven...and they might serve this there. Otherworldly, my friends....for realz. :-)

Dessert #4 – Basil sorbet, with a mint macaron. It comforts me to think that there might be a heaven…and that they might serve this there. Otherworldly, my friends….for realz. :-)

 

Starfish is located on South Alamo, my favorite neighborhood in San Antonio. Here are a few pictures of the things I saw in their neighborhood:

The Friendly Spot - my favorite watering hole :-)

The Friendly Spot – my favorite watering hole :-)

I want a letter box like this on my house SO much...and I don't even have mail delivery to my house.

I want a letter box like this on my house SO much…and I don’t even have mail delivery to my door.

Few things are more beautiful than a secret garden! :-)

Few things are more beautiful than a secret garden! :-)

 

 

I hope that things go well for Starfish, and that they are super successful. Everyone there seemed to be really great, and there is a heap of talent in that kitchen…I was humbled by the artistry that went into this meal. I hope you’ll check them out…let me know if you need a date!! ;-)

xxx

 

Brooklyn Baby

I spent Saturday evening at home with the Wee One, sprawled on my bed, reading the newest Jennifer Weiner, listening to Lana Del Rey and playing Words With Friends. It had been a day – the dog got scared by fireworks on Friday night and did a runner…and I walked the neighborhood streets from midnight to 4:15am before giving up. Thankfully he reappeared at home at around 5:30am, but by then the night was pretty much toast. I spent the day painting my front door red (see below), and watching the entire first season of the AMAZING series The Fall, from BBC Northern Ireland…if you’ve not seen this one yet, rundon’twalk to Netflix and stream it now. There’s only 5 episodes, an hour each…and it is bloody riveting. SO good. Anyway, I watched that while coats of paint were drying, I started reading the Jennifer Weiner book, and then moved on and listened to Lana’s album. Her music left me wanting to lounge around outside of some impossibly hip pub, drink in hand, contemplating life, the stars, and destiny with a hipster in horn-rimmed glasses, skinny jeans, and a cardigan. The album sounds like summer, yet had me wanting to buy shoes for school in the fall. The more I listened, the more I felt as if I was in on her secrets, that together she and I were on the outside looking in on the popular kids. Listening to that album had me feeling all the feels, which is rather odd, as I haven’t had that happen in bloody ages. Strange! What music moves you, my friends? :-)

The old door :-(

The old door :-(

Midway through the process

Midway through the process

The door!!!

The door!!!

Ta-dah!!!! :-)

Ta-dah!!!! :-)

 

Last Saturday night, the Wee One and I drove up to Austin to a graduation party for my dear friend. It had been a hellaciously long day, and I was afraid of falling asleep, so I started singing with the radio. I found out that I was kind of loud and preventing the kid from sleeping due to my volume, so I was happy when she joined in. For me, the easiest way to ensure there’s no falling asleep at the wheel is by singing – and, because I’m an equal opportunity pain in the arse, I will also sing to someone else who is driving to make sure they stay awake! I have a good friend who I know probably still has nightmares about driving home with me from Austin at 4:00am, singing along with the old country tunes on the AM band on his radio *which he’d purposely picked thinking I wouldn’t know the words to those songs – fooled him!!!* I was jet-powered by a lot of beer that night, so my singing game was really on. The things I do for those I care for!!! ;-)

I’ve heard three great albums recently – the Lana one, Sia’s album is friggin DIVINE (Google her singing Chandelier on Howard Stern…you’ll weep, I guarantee), and Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour is CRAZY good!!! His voice is fabulous – LOVE!!! :-) I’m so excited for great new music – it’s been awhile since I’ve been excited about something like that. Yaa!! :-)

What excites you, my pretties? :-)

Xxx

PS: If Sam Smith’s Stay With Me doesn’t rip your bloody heart out and make you want to touch someone you love as you cry into their shoulder, then you had best make your way to the nearest ER, because you’re dead or about to be. Sorry about that. :-( That song is a heartbreaker…wowza!