Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I love dresses!

I took advantage of the after Christmas sales and bought myself two early birthday gifts from urban outfitters:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas booty

Our top six Christmas Gifts

Amelia: American girl style doll with two outfits and tea party supplies

Aaron: Brown canvas Converse shoes like Amelia's adorable red ones

Andrew: Herberts wormhole (he already finished it) and a magic card gift set

Jacob: Tony Hawk Ride which he has been begging for since he first saw it.

Me:  Biggest loser family for Wii, nothing cracks me up more then seeing Aaron do aerobics

Bowling with the Brauns

Adam the super bowler

Aaron's gutterball (he bowled amazing up until this priceless point)


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas

This Christmas I was completely surrounded by boys with the exception of Amelia who is tiny and soft spoken. Aaron's youngest Brother Adam flew down from Kansas to sleep on our couch, drink our beer, and thoroughly entertain our kids. I love Adam. Aside from Aaron he is by far my favorite Braun. He's the kind of person who could make a DMV worker behave like a civilized human being. He's that great. I wish I had a pocket sized Adam that I could take out ever so often to make me smile.

On Christmas day the kids woke up super early to open presents, Conrad, my father in law, drove down from Mexico (did I forget to mention that he now lives In Tijuana with his  31 year old fiance and three small children? Did I also mention that despite the fact that neither one of them can understand the other, she speaks solely spanish and him English, they are deeply and madly in love).   Conrad spent much of the morning making me feel like a shallow consumeristic shell of a person by continually telling me how his Fiance's kids get oranges for Christmas and are so very, very happy about it! 

I cooked a big Christmas feast for the crew who consited of Aaron's brothers, Aaron's good buddy Frank along with his wife and son, my boys, Amelia, Conrad, and Jesse's Girlfriend who only hung out for about an hour and instead opted to attend a yoga class (why don't I get that option?).  She mostly just drank alot and discussed the b-list celebrites her and Jesse party with in San Diego.  She later insisted on brushing and styling all three of my kids hair (I think it was an unsubtle hint).

Spending the holidays's with the Brauns is like a five hour Saturday night live skit that is both painful and hilarious at the very same time.  I have learned to love them all despite their quirks. I couldn't ask for better in-laws. 
                                                                       The girls

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Because of Dad

The blog I wrote about my dad was published in last weeks San Diego Reader.  I am really happy that I won for this particular piece.  It was hard for me to write about my dad without coming across as whiney or too sentimental.  Anyway, Here's the link:In memory of Seamus Feely. 

I had three goals in terms of writing this year

1. To make my Journalism Professor's student success page on his website (silly I know!)
2. To win 1st place in the San Diego Reader's  Neighborhood blog Contest.
3. To have a Reader cover story.

I am really pleased to have accomplished all three.  I don't really know where to go from here.  I need some new goals for 2010.  I think I would like to secure an internship and a local paper or magazine and this is a really, really huge long shot but.... I want to have an article in the New Yorker by the end of the 2010.   It'a a far cry from our little local paper but I think it's good to make insane goals.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jacob Birthday letter #9

Dear Jacob,

You are officially nine years old. This year has been full of new things for you. For your Birthday you attended your first ever Chargers game with your Big brother, Dad, and Grandpa. It's was a guys day complete with tailgating and in the intake of entirely too much fried food. You deserved a man party; after all you are the only boy in the third grade. With the exception of Mr. Ash you are surrounded by girls 7 hours a day. I am certain that by the end of this year you will know more about women then your 32 year old father does!

I was worried about how this school year would affect you what with the absences of other little guys to hang out with. You seem to be doing really well. Your teacher adores you and you adore him. You get all sorts of special privileges. You always get to be a team captain during P.E and received the most coveted 3rd grade role in the school's Christmas pageant (you get say "will your Camels spit at us." I don’t get the hype but apparently all the kids wanted to have that line). The other day while I was in your classroom, the girls were discussing Hannah Montana; I saw you and Mr. Ash exchange anguished looks. It was priceless.

Your teacher set it up so that the 2nd and 1st graders have the same recess time as you. For a half an hour twice a day you get o play with the younger boys. They follow you around the playground and obey your every command. It's kind of cool, mostly because you are such a laid back little guy. You've never been one to take on a leadership role but this year you've been thrown into one. The younger kids adore you. Your confidence has really grown. I'm glad because sometimes I worry that you don't realize just how great you are! It's nice to see you so sure you of yourself.

I am so proud of you and happy to have you in my life. Every single day you make me smile. I hope that your ninth year will be the best one yet!


Monday, November 30, 2009

In memory of

When I woke up this morning I had an idea of what I would do to remember my dad on the anniversary of his death. I imagined it to be the kind of day straight out of a movie as if I should have a voice over that narrated the events. I imagined Don LaFontaine’s voice booming “In memory of her father she set of for the beach house where he passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones.” Only things didn’t go quite the way I imagined.

Today was one of those beautiful San Diego days where I could get away with wearing a light sun dress and thin sweater. I got to the beach house at around 9:45. When I neared the house I saw a shirtless guy on the porch. I paused in front of him straining to see inside the tiny rental unit. I don’t know what I thought I would see, maybe a small memento from our time there, the small pink sand shovel Amelia used or a shell that one of the boys had picked off the beach. Nothing seemed familiar. Standing there trying to recall the day that seems like a lifetime ago brought it back swiftly.

All at once I remembered what it felt like during my dad’s final days. I remembered when he stopped eating all together and the quiet panic we all felt. I remembered his freshly shaven face the day my brother spent an hour gently applying shaving cream and working a razor across his unusually stubbly face, my kids cheerfully sitting by his bed while singing songs and laughing, my sister’s warm hearted humor and the artful way she made my dad fell so at ease, my mom’s strength and beauty and the way she loving washed his body after he passed. It all came back heavy and hard like a fresh sadness not one that I have carried with me for the last 365 days.

Before he died I had an idea of what it would feel like when he passed. I thought about it. I even imagined it. When it happened it was nothing like I expected. I felt guilty for being so sad. It must have something to do with my catholic upbringing. I felt ashamed of my grief. I didn’t allow myself to mourn. It felt wrong, selfish to be upset.

I was almost robotic in my actions. The day after his death I got the kids ready for school as usual, I icily told their teachers that their grandfather had died and we would be leaving for his funeral within a few days. I attended my 9:15 anthropology class and behaved as if it were just another day until my teacher took out the skull of a monkey and pointed out the different areas of its scalp. I thought about my dad’s brain and the tumors that spread everywhere. I imagined the tumors bumping around in his brain and I started feeling woozy. I stumbled out of class and threw up in the bathroom. I sat like a stone on the bench outside of my anthropology room for the next hour waiting for the students to filter out so I could get my stuff. On the car ride home I allowed myself to cry. I cried big gulping sobs until my face was red and swollen. I didn’t send my kids to school the following day. I gave myself permission to let the sadness in.

For awhile I dreamed about him nightly. In my sleep we would spend the day together. We would go to the zoo, or he would push Amelia on the swing at the park, or play with my boys. In my dreams he was healthy. It’s been awhile since he has made an appearance. Now when I dream of him it’s always vague or only the idea of him. Recently I dreamt that I was playing softball and he was in the bleachers way in the back covered up by a blanket. I could only see the dim outline of his profile.

It’s been a year since I have last touched his hand or spoke with him; it’s been a year since I  told him how much I loved him. Today I realized that I don’t remember the sound of his voice. I can picture his face and even remember the way his chin felt after a shave, I know that the lines running across his palms are almost identical to mine with wide sweeping indents that create an upside triangle on the underside of his hands, that he had a scar running half way up his leg from a glass window that fell on him. I recall the softness of the gray sweater he often wore, and what it felt like to hug him. But I can’t remember the staccato of his voice. For a long time I had a recorded birthday message from him on my phone but I carelessly erased it one afternoon. The machine was full and in an effort to get rid of the many voices of telemarketers and dental appointment reminders I erased the only memento of his voice.


I am uncertain how long I stood before the beach house but I think the dude on the porch thought I was flirting with him. He smiled a big toothy smile. I blushed embarrassed for losing myself in the moment and walked on.

I decided not to sit on the beach in front of the house figuring shirtless man may think it was some sort of invitation. Instead I found a bench nearby and watched the waves. On the balcony behind me was a pale faced red head in a dingy tank top with another shirtless man.

“Dude, I am so hung over.” He told the red head

She laughed while I tried to block them out. I cursed them for ruining my moment! I expected a little more decency today. The world should know that someone important passed away today and they should behave accordingly, I thought to myself. I wasn’t asking for porch dwellers with violins but I had been hoping for a little peace and quiet.

“I miss that Bitch!” I heard the man behind me say

“Who? Your ex-wife?” the red head asked

He grunted yes

“It’s okay to miss her.” She said

“You know I still have our wedding pictures.” He replied

“It’s important to hold on to memories as long as you don’t hold on too tightly.” She told him

It was as if she was speaking directly to me. I wanted to shout out thank you and maybe even sorry for judging you so quickly. It may not have been Don Lafontaine, or a lady with a violin but the red head and her alcoholic friend made sense and spoke exactly what I needed to hear. My day remembering my dad may not have turned out exactly as I would have expected but it nonetheless it was perfect. I sat quietly on the beach taking in the sound of the water and the murmur of a hung over dude and his rebound girlfriend while thinking of my dad. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

gobble, gobble

We spent Thanksgiving in San Francisco with my bro, his wife Desiree, and their son Anthony.  I love visiting the bay area.  I adore the pretty shops, the colorful houses, the eccentric people, and most of all rog, desi, and Anthony.  Here are some pictures from our visit:

Roger is a great tour guide.  He always goes out of his way to take us to local gems.  On Friday we walked from his apartment in Bernal heights through the mission district to Dave Eggar's Pirate Shop, (one of my favorite authors who has a children's tutoring center and amazing little store on Valencia street).  We hit up local spots like balmy alley, Anthony's cookies, Paxton gate, Paxton Gate Kids (a really cool curiosty shop, and it's cousin paxton gate kids, which is an amazing toy shop with wooden toys and all sorts of graeat books and games for little people)

Mission street Wrestling masks


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The end of an era

I have been friends with Jessica since the 5th grade. Her family moved in down the block from me when I was ten. The first encounter I had with the Rocco's was when I saw her dad leisurely walking their ferret on a leash down Fair Elms Avenue. I was mesmerized. I had a feeling he would somehow be part of my life.

The first day of fifth grade Jessica wore a glittery batman sweatshirt and faded denim jeans with store bought holes in the knees. At nearly 11 she was a fashionista. I loved her almost immediately. Katie ad Amy, the rulers of the mean girl crowd at my elementary school warned her against me "She only plays with the boys." they told her. Two weeks later Jessica and I had bonded over our mutual love for the New Kids on The Block and our off beat sense of style. We walked home together everyday after school and laughed so hard that we fought back tears. Twenty years later I still love her.

When I moved to Lawrence, Kansas she moved there a year later. After I got married and my son was born she coincidentally ended up in San Diego as well. We have been neighbors for most of our lives.

In two days she is moving back to our old stomping ground. She has decided to brave the Chicago winters once again. It is the end of an era. No longer will I be able to leisurely stop by Rocco's apartment. Despite being Miles and miles apart I know that Jessica and I will remain friends till we are old graying ladies in diapers. That's how we roll. I will miss her.....I'm going to really, really, miss her!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Little Miss Amelia

For the last ten and half years I have been surrounded by all things boy. Legos, wrestling, dirty socks, anything and everything used as pretend weapons, fart and poo jokes, Paper airplanes, skateboards, and bleeding injuries.

Then Amelia entered our lives and for the last 2 years she has been really into the stereotypical girl stuff. Fairies, princesses, my little pony, dress up, glitter, pink, pink, and more pink. Yesterday was her first ballet class and she loved it. Being in a roomful of 4-5 year olds in tutus may have been one of the most adorable sites of all time. It's fun having a little person in my life that is so very feminine.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Last night I was able to see the Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Old Globe Theatre. I love theatre. When I was a kid I had big dreams of becoming an actress. I took drama lessons at our local playhouse. I adored acting.

My dream of becoming an actress sizzled out when I went through my 14-15 year-old awkward stage. I took drama freshmen year at my stifling Catholic high school. Thanks to bad skin and braces I suffered from cripplingly low self esteem. That year I decided to work stage crew instead of auditioning for a part in my school's play. The following year I didn't even bother taking drama.  When I transferred to public school all the thespians were tight knit and spoke in false english accents. They intimidated me so I didn't even bother joining the drama club. That's when I gave up acting all together.

Last night Andrew was my date to the play. I thought for sure he would hate it, thinking he was far too young for Shakespeare. I was wrong. He loved it and watched wide eyed the whole time. At intermission I told him we could go home if he was bored. he looked at me like I was crazy

"Mom, this is awesome!" he told me.

It was one of those proud parenting moments where i realized that my kid is really, really cool. I'm glad that Andrew's first experience with the theater was a happy one.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A day at the Park

On Saturday Amelia, Jake, Bela, and I took a nice leisurely walk to the park across town. Andrew and Aaron were at Lego League. Aaron is in charge of a lego robotic league at the kid's school. It's pretty amazing what a group of 10-13 year-old kids have been able to accomplish but that's a whole other blog entry. This one is about my habit of being a judgmental jerk. I wanted to treat the dog to a nice outing since she had to endure getting her stitches removed the previous day. My plan was to allow her to roam leash free at the park.

Upon our arrival there were three other kids playing in the sand. I didn't want to spook them or their parents so I kept Bela leashed. There was a group of four adults sitting together in tennis skirts and shorts loudly discussing a mutual friends recent tummy tuck. On the other side of the park was a mom on a cell phone. I inwardly judged all of them. The group for their topic of conversation and the mom for her cell phone use. Parents on cell phones at the park infuriate me. It's a major pet peeve right up there with people who talk with food in their mouths.

My dad was really big on if you don't have something nice to say don't say it at all. In an effort to be nicer to humanity, more like my dad, I am trying to be less of a jerk not only on the outside but also the inside. My first instinct is almost always to judge and that's just a huge negative waste of time. Seriously, who am I to judge? I am the lady who has stuff routinely fall out of my car when the kids open the doors because we ride around in filth.

I tired to convince myself that cell phone mom had an urgent issue she was dealing with. As for the tummy tuck crew, they were just different. I played with the kids, I played with Bela, I stopped judging the people at the park.

I laid down in the grass at which point two round faced boys stood near me and looked at Bela. One of the tummy tuck crew moms shouted across the park "DON"T TOUCH IT!" The boys whipped their heads around to look at their mom. "We can't touch it." they said to me nodding at Bela.

Excuse me! It?! Really, did that grown woman just call my dog it? I looked at my cute dog and then glared at the back of the rude ladies head. Than I snapped out of it. I thought okay that lady has dog issues, maybe her kids are allergic, deathly so. Maybe she was the victim of a dog gone wrong. Do not judge, do not judge. I thought to myself .

While I was chanting that in my head I saw the round face boys fill up a plastic cup with sand and throw at cell phone mom's kid.

"Don't play with us." one of them said while the other yelled "You aren't our friend!"

Cell phone kid was shocked then outraged.

"I AM TELLING ON YOU!" he shouted

He hightailed it over to the tummy tuck parent crew and announced "THEY" he motioned toward the boys who were pretending not to hear him "Threw sand at ME and said I am not their friend!"

The crowd of chatty parents barely acknowledged him and then the mom that called Bela It said "oh, they're little, honey." and then she continued talking to the rest of the group. When the boy went back to playing I heard on of the dads say "What an annoying little kid."

I looked at the "little kids" and realized they were both older than Amelia. Cleary old enough to know better. I wanted to stomp over to the group of parents and tell them how annoying I thought they were and what a poor example they were setting. Then I thought do I really want to get into a verbal argument with a group of parents at the park? Aren't I supposed to be playing with my kids? Why am i so concerned over the antics of the people around me? Do I want this day to be ugly or pretty? I choose pretty. However I did get a big chuckle when cell phone kid yelled " I'm glad your leaving." to the tummy tuck crew when they were getting ready to leave.


White Chucks found at Amvets for $1.95.  Red, nearly new, Converse scored for $2.95.  Not to mention those awesome leggings were scored in San Francisco china town this summer for 99 cents.  Life is good!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Super Bela

On Thursday I thought my dog was going to die. I took her outside for a walk and as soon as we stepped out of the front door she sat down and refused to get up. That's when things started to go downhill. she stopped eating, stopped getting up all together, and was extremely lethargic.

I was able to get her into the vet for a surgery, some IV, and lots of medication. Finally 4 days later, after an insanely large vet bill she is just now starting to behave like the Bela I know and love. Last night she went for a walk, this morning she actually jumped up onto the boys bed, and just an hour ago she resumed eating.

I think, I hope, she will be okay.

Bela was the first gift (if I don't include the flowers Aaron picked for me on the K.U campus) that Aaron ever gave me. She was his Christmas present to me when I was 19. He hide her inside his winter jacket.

Owning a chocolate lab had been my dream since I was a kid so to say that Bela was the greatest christmas gift ever is an understatement. Bela has been around for all the tough times in my life. My pregnancy with Andrew, becoming a mom while my friends were attending keggers and studying for their college courses, my move to San Diego where I had zero friends, the death of loved ones, Martial spats, the birth of all three of my children, and the short stint my father in law spent living with us in our 700 square foot apartment. Bela was a silent witness to all of it.

After my dad died and I spent weeks lying on the coach sobbing, Bela was there. She would cuddle up close to me as if she knew how heavy my sadness was. I am so glad that she is still here. I am not ready to lose her.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I love polyvore

Polyvore is my new obession. It's a site where you can do some serious window shopping while creating a bunch of awesome virtual outfits. I put together these looks the other day:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where do bad folks go when they die?

My kids crack me up!

Amelia's intensity is a litle scary though.

Chrissy Seaver

On Monday I shared a leather couch with Ashley Johnson. Who is Ashley Johnson you may ask? I was unsure at first as well. I kept staring at her the way an old classmate might stare at your familiar face half drunk at a seedy bar.

I looked into her perfect complexion and tried to put her face into context. I knew right away that she was an actress. I may not know how to properly reduce fractions or how many ounces make a pound but I sure as heck know my celebrities.

"Are you in a movie?" I asked her

Asking that question is a faux pas. Who knew. Not me.

We were at Milk studios in L.A. Jacob had received a call back for a gap casting he had attended a few weeks back. He was wearing plaid shorts, two layers of t-shirts, and a bright blue wind breaker two sizes two small that the casting director had chosen for him to wear. We were surrounded by pretty children and I was starting to feel insecure. Ashley was there with a blonde woman and a really cute bald baby.

On the car ride home I remembered where I had seen her face. She was in a recent Cold Case episode I had watched.  She was in something else as well. I couldn't remember what.

At home, I googled cold case and came to find out that I shared a coach with Chirssy Seaver, the youngest daughter from growing pains. Had I known that at the time, I probably would've done something ridiculous like sang the Growing Pains theme song or told her about the numerous Kirk Cameron fantasies I had as a girl.

Anyway, long story short she was very lovely and reserved. We made, or actually I made, small talk about the difference in weather from LA to San Diego and how I had ripped my kid out of school to take him on a Gap go see.

That was that. My first celebrity conversation and I have been living in Southern California for over ten years. it's about damn time.

For your listening pleasure