Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thanksgiving in June

Why must we wait until November to be thankful for the blessings in our lives?

1. My life: My birthday is this weekend and I'm very happy to be healthy and blessed. I have two years until my 40th birthday (and my tattoo!).

We lost two friends this year who just crossed their 40th birthdays. It's important not to take our health - physical and mental - for granted. I'm motivated and determined to stay in better shape and am receiving positive support. I also promise to take better care of myself by scheduling my visits to the doctors and dentist as well.

2. My family: I'm grateful for the love and support of my husband and daughter. Our house is noisy and crazy, and as often as I yell "Quiet!" I know it would not be the same without them. My parents are wonderful and loving (and they're available to babysit as long as it doesn't interfere with the SaReGaMa broadcast this Sat!) I'm also proud of my younger sister and brother and their accomplishments. They've come along way and are definitely on the road to success. I know the road ahead is not easy, but they'll do really well.

3. My girlfriends: My wonderful girlfriends are always there. There are some who are an email away; we support and advise each other through our daily grind.

Then, I have a band of great local girlfriends. I'm known to be the Organizer - always coordinating our girls' outings and showers, setting up e-vite and excel sheets. I think it's so important for us to step away from our roles as mothers and wives to have some time time to be "girls" again.

This evening, they organized themselves to give me a surprise birthday dinner! I know it's hard for everyone to take a break from their family obligations (a cell phone still rings through dinner about a crying child).

So, it's even more special to be appreciated by friends. I've gone through different phases of my life with friendships and am happy to have such close and open relationships now. And, I can still hit my friend M who thinks I'm years younger than her even though we are born 23 days apart.

4. My career: I'm so grateful for the direction my job has taken this year. Last year at this time, I was overwhelmed and crying at my desk because I felt abandoned by so many people and my company. This year, there's been changes and positive momentum building. I'm amazed at the visibility and recognition I've received and how many doors are opening for me. It's amazing what a difference a year makes.

5. My Writing: Ok, this is the most incredible news for the evening! My poem "Tanzania" has been published in Thema literary book! I received this acceptance in the past, but I considered it like others I've received. I am hestitant to believe it until I see it.

Now, I see it and I still can't believe! I actually started jumping up and down in the kitchen when I saw my name on the book. My daughter laughed, "Mommy's jumping up and down!"

While "Tanzania" is not the best poem, it's a simple poem, written to describe a moment. I remember I had stopped at a coffee shop somewhere after a job interview on a rainy day.

I saw the book when I came home from work. I was actually reading while driving somewhere and it just filled me up with emotion. It seemed so different, and I could appreciate this from a distance. Seeing it in print, in a book made me feel removed from it. I'm used to seeing it in Tahoma 10pt font, all on one page. Not holding it in a book.

By the way, not everything is perfect. There are some major issues happening now, but I think it's important to accentuate the positive. Life will never be smooth. It's like the story of the man who stood in front of the ocean. Someone asked him, "Why aren't you going in?" He said, "I'm waiting for the waves to stop."

The waves won't stop, but you can still enjoy the warm sunshine, the fresh salty air and the grains of sand between your toes.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bubbles (My Poems): Pottery Barn Days

Pottery Barn Days

These precious people live in homes with soft creamy linen slipped sofas
and clear glass cylinders brimming with white seashells
on the Espresso end tables.

The Ivory and Havana Dark Weave furniture enjoy the
clean ocean breezes, immune to the rage of elements.

They eat heartily at clambakes. Tables set
with colanders in a nautical blues and reds,
plump lemons for the lobsters and white pails to collect the shells,
and bottles of Pinot Grigio knotted with sand-dollars.

The catalog says it brings family back together.

On The Job Training- Motherhood: Tooth Update

The tooth fell out this week!

If you wiggle it enough and keep showing it off to your friends, it will come out. The teacher said there was a bit of excitement since some other kids have not lost a tooth yet and everyone wanted to see. They put the tooth in a ziploc bag, wrote "Annika's tooth" and put it in her cubby.

However, when I came to pick her up, it was not there. (My sister's theory is an enterprising classmate must have pocketed it hoping to get some money from the tooth fairy).

Annika was disappointed about that and I said we'll draw a picture of the tooth and place it in her toothfairy box.

In the meantime, she's happy to show off the "window in her mouth" to anyone and everyone!

By the way, I was planning to tuck quarters in the box. Now, I've heard the going rate is in dollars!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Michael Buble Lyrics

I love Michael Buble's version of "Feeling Good" from his "Caught in the Act" CD and DVD. The horns and percussion in the back plus his style make this song absolutely sultry and steamy.
(watch the video)

Feeling Good

Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by
You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

Fish in the sea
You know how I feel
River running free
You know how I feel
Blossom on a tree
You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don't you know
Butterflies all havin' fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That's what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me

Stars when you shine
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me

And I'm feeling good

This is another beautiful song and I'm always moved by the lyrics because I think of people who are away from loved ones - whether it is due to immigration, employment or military deployment. I love the lines: And I've been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you...Well I would send them but I know that it's just not enough. My words were cold and flat, And you deserve more than that.

(watch the video)


Another summer day
Is come and gone away
In Paris and Rome
But I wanna go home

Maybe surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel all alone
I just wanna go home
Oh I miss you, you know

And I've been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you
Each one a line or two
I'm fine baby, how are you?
Well I would send them but I know that it's just not enough
My words were cold and flat
And you deserve more than that

Another aerorplane
Another sunny place
I'm lucky I know
But I wanna go home
Mmmm, I've got to go home

Let me go home
I'm just too far from where you are
I wanna come home

And I feel just like I'm living someone else's life
It's like I just stepped outside
When everything was going right
And I know just why you could not
Come along with me
But this was not your dream
But you always believe in me

Another winter day has come
And gone away
And even Paris and Rome
And I wanna go home
Let me go home

And I'm surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel alone
Oh, let go home
Oh, I miss you, you know

Let me go home
I've had my run
Baby, I'm done
I gotta go home
Let me go home
It will all right
I'll be home tonight
I'm coming back home


We know the chicken crossed the road, but is there a reason for geese to cross the road when they can fly across the street?
PA is covered by wild geese this time of year. We watch their goslings waddle behind them in May and by summer's end, they're stronger birds. It is charming to see the parent geese lead the family across the street: first, an adult goose sticks his neck out, scopes the scene. It looks clear. Another adult will follow behind cautiously, but a little more casually than the first adult. The flock of youngesters will come behind them.

However, when this occurs on two-way road leading into a major shopping center, it can be a problem. Traffic is halted, cars are sweering, motorists are confused because geese don't understand horns. Then, other drivers believe they know what the geese are thinking and try to go around them. It is sad to see a hapless and lifeless victim along side the road. I haven't seen any this year, so may be they are learning the local traffic laws.

My neighbor piles high her garbage. She has boxes, broken furniture and 2-3 large containers overflowing with junk, as if they're cleaning out the basement or garage. But, every week?!!
We're just amazed at how much garbage she has every week. She has an older house and her children are all young adults. Are the children bringing home junk from elsewhere? Our bigger issue is not her contributions to the landfills, but the placement of the overflowing cans. They place them at the corner of our shared road to comply with the garbage company's request. However, to make a left turn, one has to edge forward to see the road because the garbage blocks the view. If you can't see properly, you can either knock over the garbage or get knocked over by another vehicle you didn't see.

We just don't get it why they have excessive trash.

My daughter doesn't look like me, I look like her!
Since she was born, my daughter looks like my husband. Even with your eyes closed, you can tell she looks like him. But, every now and then, when I make certain facial expressions in the mirror, I am reminded of her. I think it's in the eyes. She does have my eyes, though hers are more almond shaped. I don't see myself in her, but I see her in me. Maybe this is one of those unusual side effects of parenthood - you absorb your child's traits.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

On the Job Training: Motherhood -- Kindergarten Graduation

Yes, she is a Kindergarten Graduate! Her school had a small ceremony the other night. I was surprised to see the children had blue and gold caps and gowns! It was absolutely adorable. They sang a few songs, and then names were announced to receive their "diploma." Grandparents and parents all gathered around, armed with video cameras, digital cameras, and cell phones to record the moments. Lemonade and cookies were served and Annika took pictures with all her best friends and teacher. Her teachers gave a small box with a note: "Do Not Open Until High School Graduation - 2019 - No Peeking" I put it away in the basement. Someone remind me 12 years from now.

It's been a tough year for us with KG. She goes to public school KG in the morning and other school for afternoon KG. In December, the teacher at the other school left after many years. (They bought a house, and I knew no one would commute an hour to teach KG.)

The new teacher was older and experienced in teaching in private schools from preschool to 2nd grade. She had high expectations for educational skills and interpersonal skills. She kept a routine of reading/writing in the morning and math in the afternoon.

However, because of the part time status of majority children, this was unbalanced. As an afternoon KG student, she missed reading/writing activities, but had math every day. Annika was crying because she hated math. Seriously, doing math every day after lunch would make ME cry. So, she would be bored, not do her work and the teacher would complain to me.

I wasn't sure what to do. I'm working with Annika at home and trying to build a bit of enthusiasm about math. Seriously, if she's this against KG math, how will we survive until high school? However, I told her she had to deal with the teacher. She's going to have lots of teachers that she doesn't like, but has to get used to it.

Fortunately, this teacher left in May. The new teacher is a recent college graduate, so she's very eager and open. And, now KG is over.

I still have some issues with Annika's development - extreme lack of attention and focus. I'm torn because I do like these traits -- she's creative, logical, curious, can draw conclusions and is very smart. However, she's on another planet when classwork is being done. I've seen this in her violin class where the other children are sitting quietly, and she's squirming, picking at her bow, fussing with her hair. She misses the instructions and doesn't know what to do.

It's frustrating as a parent because I know she can do it. I know she knows her math, her reading, her violin. I've seen her ace these things, so I'm not pressuring her to do something outside of her skillset. All we want her to do is pay attention. Oh, meals take 30+ minutes to consume because she's talking or just dreaming.

My friends with older kids are telling me to chill out and see what happens in first grade. Apparently there's a leap kids take between KG and 1st. If she takes a hop in the right direction, I'll be happy.

Pan's Labyrinth - Addendum

I had browsed the Message Board at the website for this movie last week, but am just now able to follow up with some thoughts.

As an English literature major, a film student and art enthusiast, I love to look for symbols and meanings in art. What I love most is that the artist gives forth his/her work intending one meaning, but many more can be gleaned from it.

Also, artists are not solitary creatures - they are inspired by critical elements in our world, such as history, politics, literature, mythology.

On the message board, people pointed out different symbols in this movie. I don't know how many were purposefully composed by the filmmaker and how many were brought forth by the viewers.

Alice in Wonderland:
Ofelia's new dress was reminiscent of Alice's dress in the stories. As she climbed into the tree, one expected a drop down the rabbit hole. Someone also pointed out the Faun is like the Cheshire Cat - leading in a quizzical manner and sudden (dis)appearances. I'm not too keen to agree on this one. I don't the Cheshire Cat had as much power or knowledge as the Faun does.

Greek Mythology: The Pale Man is much like the Gray Witches (the Graeae), who had one tooth and one eye between them. If you remember your "Clash of the Titans," Perseus had held the eye hostage until they told him what he needed to know.

Also, Persephone was snatched by Hades and taken to the Underworld. Part of the 'contract for her release' was that she should not have eaten anything. Unfortunately, she had eaten pomegranete seeds. So, she was able to return home for few months and then return. (It is during her duration in Hades the world falls into Winter because Demeter is in mourning for her daughter).

So, Ofelia was told not to eat anything from the Pale Man's table, but she ate some grapes, which unleashed danger.

Grimm's Tales: The Pale Man's table, laden with scrumptious food, is enticing to children as the witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel."

Spirited Away: I have only seen Miyazaki's "Spirited Away", and the opening scene where Ofelia finds an ancient mossy statue in the forest reminded me of that movie. Now, on the message board, someone explains Guillermo Del Toro is a fan of Miyazaki and this was a nod to him.

If you've seen this movie and have more insights to offer, please do!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Review: Pan's Labyrinth

A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a Princess who dreamed of the human world. She dreamed of blue skies, soft breeze, and sunshine. One day, eluding her keepers, the Princess escaped. Once outside, the brightness blinded her and erased every trace of the past from her memory. She forgot who she was and where she came from. Her body suffered cold, sickness, and pain. Eventually, she died. However, her father, the King, always knew that the Princess' soul would return, perhaps in another body, in another place, at another time.

And he would wait for her, until he drew his last breath, until the world stopped turning...

I watched Pan's Labyrinth knowing only that it won multiple Oscars (Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Make Up). And, that it was not a kid's movie and would be scary.

This movie was absolutely beautiful and its elements churned in our minds all night. I wish it were a book I had read first, since I find it easier to digest dark topics of fantasy and violence on page than on screen.

The story is elegantly made as it juxtaposes Facist Spain in 1944 with an escapist world of fairies and fauns. It is definitely violent and I shall admit to the blogosphere that I had the blanket over my head during some torture scenes and begged my husband to fast forward. Yet, it was the violence of the human world that was more horrifying than the mystical creatures. The true monsters were not imagined.

Ofelia, played by Ivana Baquero, was captivating. Her character was to be simple, but wise beyond her years. And, the young actress really brought this forth.

I loved Maribel Verdu who had played Luisa in "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (my review) and she was so powerful in this film.

I had heard comedians asking what's up with the imagery of genitalia in the poster. After seeing the movie, there is a strong current of birth, death, and rebirth. All of these symbols tie together and they come in different ways. So, yes, it is quite obvious motif as she walks through channels, holes and other symbols of birthing.

There's another theme of trust in a time of war and fantasies. Who do you trust? Do you trust a mother to always be there for you? A husband? A doctor? A faun?
Can you trust a Princess to follow directions and not her natural impulses?

This movie takes magical elements "Harry Potter", the dark danger of "LOTR" and douses them with "The Diary of Anne Frank."