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Location: Northern California

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Fall forward in fifteen minutes

Step 4: Add Thomas
Originally uploaded by marytsao
I'm trying something new with this entry. I'm only giving myself fifteen minutes to get my thoughts down before I push the Publish button. I'm hoping that I'll blog more often if I have a self-imposed deadline and if I know for sure that it won't take an hour out of my busy day.

Okay! Here goes.

We are just days away from leaving for Burning Man. Life is frantic in a positive way. All of our hard work and planning will soon pay off when we get the opportunity to relax and enjoy the art, music, and people that make up the event. Mike has been a great partner in this adventure and we are in agreement about most decisions. When we disagree, it's been civil and hasn't escalated into something horrible. Good, good, good. If we can pull this off, I have no worries about us attempting a month-long vacation in another country (more about that later.)

I am writing regularly in my Burning Family blog and it's been an interesting experience to have a blog with few dedicated readers. I love it. It's refreshing to have a Google page rank of 0 but to see that my blog does come up in searches and that people are finding it. A couple of people have linked to it. I'm hoping the information I'm sharing is helpful to people; I've been getting supportive comments that it is. It's gratifying in a way that's different from the attention that this--my established--blog gets. I might blog more about this later, after I've had a chance to mull it over.

Both Thomas and Emily start preschool the week we get back from Burning Man. My life will change a bit at that time. Due to age requirements, Thomas is going to a different preschool. I'll be busier doing pick ups and drop offs, although I'll also have more time alone on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Aside from preschool, Emily is taking an art class and I'm hoping to get Thomas enrolled in a music class. I think Emily's love of drawing might be a precursor to a love of writing -- we'll see what evolves from the art class. Thomas definitely loves music and the idea of playing musical instruments, especially drums and guitar. I want to get him into a class that has no parental involvement and begins the process of formal training but in a fun, play-based way. There are several music academies around here I can check out.

Uh oh, fifteen minutes is up! I'd better hop in the shower and get to work packing our clothes for Burning Man. Hope you all have a great weekend planned. I hope to blog at least one more time before we leave, but don't expect anything from me next week. I'm not into the guest blogging thing. Hey, how can you miss me if I don't go away?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Loving and hating


  • Feeling better, finally.
  • Our nanny Rosa, who has worked for us for two years and whom we love. She's here today and she took the kids to the park, their first outside outing in five days. Right now she's making chicken soup from scratch because she says I "look weak."
  • Santa Cruz Organic lemonade. It's made with real sugar (not the dreaded high fructose corn syrup) and it's yummy. And they are not paying or otherwise reimbursing me to write this.


  • Graham crackers. What's with all the crumbs?!?! Mom's new rule: Graham crackers are to be eaten outside!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Somebody's always trying to eat her cookies

I am on day five of my illness, and I'm hoping that it's the last day. I was talking to a friend yesterday and as soon as she heard I wasn't feeling well--and after I discreetly indicated it was a gastrointestinal bug--she loudly exclaimed, "I had that! It's nonstop diarrhea for five days straight!"

If she's right, then today was my last day of this shit. No pun intended. Is that even a pun? I'm not sure of anything anymore.

Life's been on standstill while I rock back and forth and curse the day I was born. I'm hoping the pace will pick up tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some stories that Emily told me today.

Story #1 by Emily Tsao
One day I was making some cookies and my mother loved them. Then a pony got here and then he was eating my cookies. I was going home and making my cookies and he ate one cookie and he went with me and he ate some cookies. Then we went round and round and I went back home. The end.

Story #2 by Emily Tsao
One day I was with my mother and then a wolfie guy was eating my cookies. Cookies are chocolate chip cookies and then they were all gone. And then a wolf was eating them and Thomas is a wolf. And then he was eating my cookies and then he was making a cake for my mommy. And then I was going back home. The end.

Friday, August 17, 2007


In sickness and without cake

I have been given the ultimate birthday present from my child: her gastrointestinal bug. "The yucks" started last night after I got home from group therapy and lasted all night. This morning Mike went to work early and I didn't even get out of bed until 11, when my spinning head and queasy tummy confirmed that I immediately needed to return.

The kids have been very supportive, watching PBS all day and feeding themselves crackers out of the cupboard. They're awesome.

Tonight's date night is canceled, and you won't be seeing me in my sexy get-up unless you think wrinkled jammies are sexy. Absinthe regrets they won't be seeing us, and Mike is currently in the process of giving our Avenue Q tickets away to a lucky co-worker. I am feeling slightly sorry for myself; I bought those tickets in April! Oh well, such is life.

On a positive note, the crinoline I ordered for Burning Man finally arrived. It's nice and soft and fluffy and lavender -- perfect for the Playa. And thank you for all of the happy birthday wishes. As soon as I can stomach the thought, I'm gonna get me some cake, dammit!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


They say it's my birthday

Today I turn the big 3-9, only one year away from the big 4-0! How exciting. Happy Birthday to me and happy birthday to my sister Barb, my friend Doris, and my friend Mindy of The Mommy Blog. We are Leos, hear us roar.

I was all set to go to playgroup this morning and have my friends commiserate about my advanced age over a dozen frosted cupcakes. Because if there's one thing I want to do on my birthday, it's eat cake and lots of it. Unfortunately, Emily's two bouts of vomiting yesterday weren't a coincidence or the result of pigging out and today she woke up with a fever. No playgroup for us. The worst thing about missing playgroup is that I was going to buy the cupcakes on the way. So no playgroup, no commiserating, and no cupcakes. Gee, some birthday this is turning out to be!

The gifts, cards, emails, e-cards, and phone calls are making up for it. My uncle Henry called and told me he remembers the day I was born; he was working in the stock room of the Art Institute of Chicago. He also told me it was the only thing he remembers from 1968. What a joker! My aunt Mary had been waiting anxiously at our old flat on Iowa Street. On the day I was born there was a big storm in the Chicago area and the power had gone out. My mom called to remind me that I was born at 5:14 PM, central time. My sister was born 28 minutes earlier. Exciting times.

For my birthday Mike and the kids got me scuba diving lessons and a book about scuba diving. Tomorrow night he and I are going to dinner at San Francisco's Absinthe restaurant before seeing Avenue Q at the Orpheum Theater. I've got a sexy new frock to wear and I'm going to shave my legs. Party with me.

If it's your birthday, too, then happy birthday to you!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


My Mama Haiku

My superhero necklace, by Emily
Originally uploaded by marytsao
I'm a total slow poke sometimes. In other words, a procrastinator, a heel dragger, a human. For example, I had every intention of entering the Haiku Buckaroo Contest at Mommy's Blog, but one day went by, then another, then a whole bunch in a row, and before I knew it, it was too late and the contest was over.

Oh well. Congratulations to the finalists and the winner!

Here's the haiku I was going to enter if only Leslie hadn't ended her contest so darn early.

Sitting on the couch
Children fighting over me
"My Mama!" she cries

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Pitter patter putter

The family has no social obligations today and it's so nice. Not that it's not nice to have friends and social events to attend, but all partying and no puttering makes mommy feel crazy, ya know?

Emily and I had a great time yesterday going to birthday parties. The first was for two sweet little girls whom we know from a playgroup. Their mom hired local children's musician Andy Z and he rocked. His backyard act is pretty mellow so there's not a big noise factor to consider, and the kids love his music. All the kids except Emily, who hung out with the adults until it was time for the pinata and ice cream cake. That child likes her sweets.

The second party was for another playgroup friend, a four-year old who wants to be a mermaid when she grows up. Her parents hosted her party at an indoor pool in Half Moon Bay. The kids and adults had the pool to themselves for an hour, then we congregated in a private room for dinner and cupcakes. That was a lot of fun, and hey, who doesn't like eating cake twice in one day?

Right now the sun is shining but it's not too hot, a nice mellow day to work on various projects for Burning Man. I'm taking a break from the puttering to blog and eat curry chicken over veggie fried rice that Mike made. Since he tackled breakfast (oatmeal) and lunch (the curry I'm eating), I'm in charge of dinner, which will be turkey burgers with a salad of tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

A day of socializing and a day of dilly-dallying -- now that's my idea of a balanced weekend.

Happy Sunday.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Gotta love those Internets

Another good day on the Internets for the Tsao family!

I won Veronique of Little Elephants' drawing for a Wati dress for little girls in size 4. I thought it would be perfect for Miss Emily and it is!

Emily loves the dress. I know this because she put it on immediately upon receiving it, then ran into the living room and asked that her picture be taken. This pose is her own; all I did was take the picture.

If you're looking for ideas for fun and creative things to do with your kids, check out Little Elephants. Veronique might just be your lifesaver on a rainy (or sunny) day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Taking inventory, cutting back

Today I woke up and almost immediately felt overwhelmed by L-I-F-E. What's up? I wondered. Perhaps it was because of the massive amount of emails in my inbox. Perhaps it was because the last day of summer camp was yesterday. Perhaps it was because my sleep was interrupted twice last night by the addition to my bed of first Thomas and then Emily. Mike and I share a full size bed that was not made to sleep four people, one of whom likes to toss and turn and has elbows that feel like ice picks.

Not sure the exact problem, I decided to tackle all three. First, I removed myself from an especially prolific email list. Then I sent an email to my playgroup telling them that I wasn't feeling well and I wouldn't be attending; that took off any pressure I had to get showered or dressed or to get the kids out of the house. Last but not least, I had a serious talk with the kids about how they needed to start sleeping ALL NIGHT in their own beds and how if they came into our bed again, they would promptly be removed.

The dirty work done, I spent the rest of the day halfheartedly doing chores, encouraging the children to play quietly, and laying in the sun while reading magazines. Life is back to being good.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


About that deleted post about tits


If you are reading my blog with a feed reader, you may have seen a post about tits. But then when you clicked on the post, you found that it was deleted.

My bad.

I accidentally posted my latest Burning Family post Critical Tits and the High Cost of Pasties on this, my family-friendly blog. Lions and tigers and tits, oh my!

Hope your boss didn't just walk by.

Bye now!

Monday, August 06, 2007


Hi and greetings from the world's worst blogger

Children's Discovery Museum
Originally uploaded by marytsao
I recently discovered two things about myself:

1. Getting two kids out the door and to summer camp by 8:30 AM is difficult. Even if I'm content looking like a schlumpalina, unshowered, wearing sweats, and with my hair in a scrunchie, it's still hard. Even when I wake up ninety minutes before we're supposed to leave the house, it's still hard. I know I told the Blogosphere that I am a morning person, but I do get used to a certain schedule. For example, the entire past year I was used to a 9:00 AM school start time. 8:30 is not 9:00, and that lost thirty minutes feels like a lot. What the heck am I going to do in the fall when Thomas's preschool starts at the unholy hour of 8:00 AM? I think I might need to resort to that old trick of setting my clock ahead, something I haven't done since I quit my corporate job.

2. I suck at blogging for two different blogs, even--or especially--when both of the blogs are mine. While I've got plenty to write about preparing for our upcoming trip to Burning Man, I've got very little to write about my "everyday adventures as a mom of two." I'm quoting myself when I write that, but it sounds boring even to me.

Bonus third thing I just discovered about myself: This is the kids's last week of summer camp. I will mourn its passing.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


The flight of the social butterflies

August is only four days old and it's already clear that this will be the month of parties. We had two parties to go to today: one we happily attended and one I unceremoniously decided I didn't have the energy for. Tomorrow I'm going to a baby shower and that should be a lot of fun. Next weekend we have three more parties; this month the kids are learning how to be social butterflies and I'm realizing that shopping for birthday presents is just one more of those things that moms are responsible for doing. Mom's never ending to do list... you know what I'm talking about.

My blogging on Mom Writes has been light lately. Besides parties and birthday present shopping, my head is filled with thoughts of Burning Man. I'm planning, organizing, having family meetings, shopping up a storm, and loving every minute of it. This month is going to fly by and soon we'll be on the Playa. I can't wait.

In the meantime, I'm religiously attending thrice-weekly meetings for my outpatient alcohol rehabilitation program. I can't say that it isn't a pain in the ass to go to three meetings a week, but I always leave them laughing and with a smile on my face. I'm learning a lot about reasons why people (including myself) abuse drugs and alcohol. Our addictions might be different, but how we think and react--the reasons why we have addictions--is basically the same. This is where I'd like to insert something profound about the fragility of the human condition, but I'm still working on that one. Anyway, rehab is good for me and is helping me clear my mind. Life, which I sometimes define as living with myself, is getting easier and better every day.

Happy weekend.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


A is for Amygdala

I just read a great post by Anne Truitt Zelenka titled 5 Quick Ways to Be More Mindful. She writes:

What is mindfulness? Living in the present moment, keeping an open awareness, and maintaining a nonjudging stance. The more mindful you are, the less reactive and stressed you will be. The more mindful you are, the more you can experience the little and big joys your everyday life offers you.

Anne tells us that one way to be more mindful is to think of three things we are grateful for. I realized when I started writing that three is a magical number for me. I can easily think of three things that happened today that I am grateful for:

  1. Today my life offered me the joy of spending time with a friend I hadn't seen in quite some time. We caught up over coffee while the kids were at summer camp. It was nice.

  2. After lunch I had the pleasure of taking Emily to her annual physical exam. I watched her step up on the scale to get weighed, stand with her back against the wall and her chin up to get measured, and pass both an eye exam and a hearing exam with flying colors. This particular exam made me realize that she's no longer my baby. Now she's my big girl, a girl who is able to listen to and follow directions and have a conversation with a nurse she's never met before. And when the doctor asked her which fruits and vegetables she liked, she answered, "carrots!" Seriously, I couldn't have been prouder or felt like a better mother at that moment. It was still difficult to hold her for three booster shots without crying myself, but I don't think it ever will get easy to see my child in pain. Over post-doctor's visit smoothies, Emily said that today was "the best day ever," and she was referring to the fact that she and I were spending time alone together. Even though our alone time included her being stuck repeatedly by a needle, she still enjoyed it. Wow. That makes me feel pretty darn special.

  3. The third thing I'm grateful for is the fact that I wrote a post on my Burning Family blog about our decision to camp with the Burning Man community of KidsVille. Not only did I write today's post, but I dedicated myself to writing a blog post every day until we leave for Burning Man on August 28. The countdown to Burning Man is on!

This month will be a crazy blur of planning, shopping, and crafting, and some of it might not be pretty. I have a feeling Anne's tricks for being more mindful are going to come in handy many times.