Monday, December 15, 2008

More Winter Fun!

On Saturday, Radio Disney brought 22 tons of snow to the Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos. As you can see, Ashley had a blast! After playing in the snow for about an hour, we decided to go play in Temecula - again.

Dynamite Dave made this awesome balloon heart wand with a white balloon teddy bear! Isn't it cute? After that, we walked around for a bit and it started to rain and the wind picked up. It got cold! So, we decided to head home.

The next day, Ashley got sick. We were up and down with her all night last night with a fever and throwing up. She didn't go to school today and she won't go tomorrow. We found a thermometer buried in the medicine cabinet tonight and took her temperature with it. It is 102! We gave some ibuprofen and she just fell asleep. Poor baby! I guess the flu shot didn't work this year on her. :( Derek said that she has gotten sick every December on the week before school lets out for winter break. Weird, isn't it? We're taking good care of her, though, so she'll be up around by Wednesday. I'll keep you posted...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Wonderland: A Storybook Christmas in Temecula

Tonight we went to a Winter Wonderland in Old Town, Temecula. It was truly a storybook experience unlike any other. The weather was cold and the air was crisp. We had on our jackets and hats as we walked down Front Street from the van. When we got there, the sun was setting and the Christmas lights and decorated store fronts began to twinkle. There was Christmas music in the background and children with Santa hats all about. It felt like we entered into a real life storybook this evening with all the beauty and fantasy coming to life.

We had about an hour before the fun started on Main Street, so we went into some antique shops and found some real treasures. We made some new friends in some of the shops and reunited with the ones we made last summer. After that, we went across the street to the Olive Oil Shoppe and Derek (who has not visited this wonderfully unique place) was awe-struck by the olive oil tasting bar, the enormous variety of olives, oils, vinegars, salts, etc.

The fire department set up a Toy Drive on Main Street and their mascot, a person in a Dalmation suit with a yellow fire helmet on, posed for pictures with the kids. Ashley, who is literally terrified by these mascots, wanted nothing to do with the Dalmation, stayed as far away from him as possible.

At this point, the crowd is starting to form at the ticket booths in front of Pennypickles. So, we walked over there to get some tickets for the activities. Luckily, we got there early because there must have been well over a thousand people who showed up!

The first activity we did was making our own flavored popcorn. We put together an interesting mix of Kettle Corn and cinnamon. Sounds weird, I know, but it wasn't bad!

The next activity we did was a science experiment. At this tent, we were greeted by friends that we met last summer and we had a chance to catch up and give each other hugs. Awwww.... Anyway, the experiment was working with ice and snow. Ashley got to test different surface areas with an ice cube to see which one melted it faster. There was a paper surface, a wood surface, a plastic surface, and an aluminum surface. Then she had to use her critical thinking skills to explain why the ice cube melted faster on the aluminum surface than on the other surfaces. Then, she learned how to make snow using polymers and water - Hollywood snow. It was interesting!

After that Ashley wanted to do some crafts. She first made a snowflake ornament. The people who were working at this tent remembered us from last summer, too, and were happy to see Ashley again. Then, Ashley went to the next tent to make wrapping paper. It was fun making snowflake stamps on the paper and making a wrapping paper design all by herself! (Unfortunately, she misplaced it somewhere later in the evening and it didn't come home with us. I promised her that we can make a wrapping paper craft this weekend to make up for it.)

Then, we decided to go check out the snow. There were tons of kids over there making snowmen and throwing snowballs. The parents were having a blast taking pictures of their kids experiencing snow for, most of them, the first time. That's California for you!

It was really getting cold, so we decided that maybe we should go inside Pennypickles to warm up for a bit. Along the way, though, I discovered a beautiful Shetland pony and just had to stop for a quick visit. Once I started feeding the pony, though, all these kids swarmed over and wanted to do the same. Lucky pony!

Aaahhhh....inside Pennypickles, getting warm in front of the Christmas Tree...nice.

We were greeted by more people who remembered us with warm memories and big hugs. It felt like back to a place like it was a second home for us. It is such a wonderful, magical place and we are so fortunate to be a part of it. This is Christmas, we said to ourselves. This is warm, wonderful, welcoming, fun, enchanting, and a place where many happy memories came from.

They had a few activities for the families all set up. We got to make a personalized Christmas ornament, Ashley and I went shopping for a Christmas present for daddy, and they had Christmas cookie decorating for the kids, too. Everyone had a good time and the excitement in the air was contagious, just like it always has been in the summertime.

When we realized that we were losing track of time, we ran to get some smores and then walked over to Daniel's Cafe to hear the storyteller read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." He was dressed as the Mayor of Whoville and was a terrific and captivating entertainer. Here is a picture of him reading the story to the kids. (Ashley is the one in the red coat with the Santa hat on.) The parents and the kids all gave him a standing ovation when he finished telling the story. He was awesome!

Then, we went on the trackless Holiday Train. The conductor drove figure 8's around the parking lot and it was a lot of fun because he took the turns really fast! Some of the little ones were actually screaming! Here's a picture of Ashley and I on the train:

We never made it on the horse-drawn carriage rides tonight. The line was way too long and we were cold and tired, so we decided to head back home. It was an unforgettable night, though, something best described as a Christmas storybook experience. We are so grateful that we could be there to enjoy the gift that Old Town gave to the community. This experience was all about the true meaning of Christmas and a memory that we will treasure forever.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Diaries of Adam and Eve at Colorado Stage Company

The opening night of this play was a tremendous success. They had a very enthusiastic audience who seemed to love every minute of the play.

Everyone knows the story of Adam and Eve, but Connie, Bill, and the Cast brought these biblical figures on stage and made them truly humanized and timeless. They characterized the humor and understanding of life's realities that have marked relationships between men and women since the beginning of time to the present day. This is a play about the oldest love story of all time. It is a very funny and entertaining performance that will throw you off guard while leaving you feeling a deep connection with the way the two characters symbolize the traits of a typical male-female relationship.

Here's the story behind the story of ADAM AND EVE
based on Mark Twain's Own Love Story

This is compiled from multiple sources by
Constance Cawlfield

In 1867 after glimpsing at a cameo photograph of Olivia Langdon, in her 22nd year, Samuel Clemens stated: "I loved her from then on." He also had said, "But for marriage, I wouldn't have a girl I was worthy of. She wouldn't be respectable enough." This was typical of Clemens' brilliant, sardonic humor.

Olivia was a delicate beauty and a devout classics-educated daughter of Elmira Langdon, New York's first family.

Ten years her senior, Clemens was a redheaded rascal who came out of small-town poverty in Hannibal, Missouri with a formal education that ended at age 11. Then thirty-two, the newspaper correspondents was becoming famous as Mark Twain. He and Olivia met several months later in New York City. There, Samuel accompanied the Langdon's to a reading by Charles Dickens on New Years Eve. Dickens' career was ending while Clemens' was just beginning.

That evening also marked the beginning of a rather long courtship. Olivia had turned down his proposal of marriage three times but he was persistent and continued to woo her with 184 letters that she called "The loveliest love letters that ever were written." She eventually gave in to his persuasiveness and said yes. He called her "Livy"...she called him "Youth." Three children followed their marriage and they built their home at "Nook Farm" in Hartford, Connecticut. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and many other very famous works were written there and Livy would always be the first to read them.

"Ever since we have been married, I have been dependent on my wife to go and revise my manuscripts.....I don't always know just where to draw the line in matters of taste."

He lost his fortunes as quickly as he made them and in 1891 the family moved to Europe where his wealth went a "little" farther. In 1894, in Italy, he completed The Tragedy of Pudd'Nhead Wilson and started to write Extracts from Adam's Diary. He thought "It was a little gem if I do say so myself." After many revisions, it was finally published in 1897. Twain modeled Adam after himself, endowing the First Man with the laziness that he often and proudly owned up to. In fact, he was a most prolific writer who regarded his work as "play."

He began an "autobiography" of Eve in 1901. This would become a most difficult project. After numerous false starts, he finally put it aside stating, "There are some books that refuse to be written."

By 1902, Livy's health began to decline and because the doctors believed her husband's presence caused "psychological distress," only five minute visits were allowed...occasionally...for two years. They communicated by notes delivered between his writing room and her sickroom. Between bankruptcy, Livy's health, and the death of their eldest daughter, Clemens writings had grown darker and more cynical. Since he always felt reluctant to serve his readers anything but the shenanigans expected of the Great Mark Twain...the humorist, he contemplated publishing The Prince and The Pauper anonymously. He feared it would be too refined for his readers. It turned out to be Livy's favorite.

Livy's health improved and a milder climate was recommended to speed her recovery. They chose Italy and Samuel wrote "Yes, I am glad we are going to Italy. You will get well there." On June 5, 1904 Livy died, only six months after they arrived at the peaceful villa in the Italian countryside. Clemens wrote, "I am a man without a country. Wherever Livy was, that was my country."

He then moved to the seclusion of New Hampshire and found the right form for Eve's story. "Eve's love story, but we will not call it that." This was to become Eve's Diary and Livy's eulogy. Then, and only then, did he write from a woman's point of view. It was published in 1905 at Christmas time.

Extracts from Adam's Diary was published in 1904 and Eve's Diary was published as a book in 1906 with added new pages from Adam's Diary.

Their tales conclude at Eve's grave where Adam's solitary presence reflects the writer's own loneliness wit the last words. A tender expression of love and loss....."Wherever she was there was Eden."

The Denver Post published a review to be proud of. Although it got three out of four stars, this reviewer never gives four stars for some reason. The review itself, though, is glowing and he has only wonderful and positive things to say.

Below is more detailed information about Colorado Stage, the play itself, and the people behind and in the spotlight. If you find yourself in the Denver area in November, go see this play!

The Diaries of Adam and Eve

November 2008

The Diaries of Adam and Eve

Translated by

Mark Twain

Directed by

Constance Cawlfield

Before "Men Are From Mars".....there was "Adam and Eve."

Based on works by the immortal Mark Twain, Adam is puzzled by this new arrival in his garden. He wishes she would talk less and he's very suspicious of her disturbing appetite for fruit. For her part, Eve is curious about Adam, who she concludes must be some kind of reptile, although it probably is architecture.

Eve goes about naming everything, much to Adam's annoyance, but they come to love each other.

Adam comes to know that........

"Wheresoever she was...there was Eden."

While the story is about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; our production is set in the Victorian era of Mark Twain

in costumes and stage pieces.

"Delightfully entertaining for the whole family."

The Crew



Constance has been a professional actress for over 30 years touring in well known national productions, costarring with many celebrated actors in film & theatre. One of her 200 national commercials received a "Cleo" award for best national comedic commercial of that year. In LA, she co-starred & had re-occurring roles in Knotts Landing, Hill Street Blues, Superior Court, & The Young and the Restless. She had featured roles in films such as The Rose and Murder in Peyton Place. She may be best known for her network animated series, Super Friends, as the voice of Wonder Woman. She has taught acting for commercials and on-camera cold reading. As a director, she created a Podium Theatre in LA and directed there as well. She has been the director on most of the productions for CSC and is proud to be one of its founding members.

Producer and Sound/Lighting Design

Bill Cawlfield

Bill is a 35-year veteran of the consumer electronics industry, recipient of CEDIA's Lifetime Achievement Award and named one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in the Home Networking / Home Control Industry. Bill has produced all the performances of our theatre to date. He has also created all of the lighting and sound for the Colorado Stage Company's productions and is a founding member.

The Cast

Part Played By


Michelle Paul

Michelle Paul, (Eve) feels so blessed to be exploring The Bible According to Mark Twain through this play. She has performed all over the Metro Denver area for over 20 years in plays, musicals, murder mysteries, piano bars, and private parties and some random TV shows and commercials. Favorite roles include: Viola in Twelfth Night, Yente, the matchmaker in Fiddler, Nancy in Oliver!, Agnes in I do!, I do!, Sister Mary Amnesia in Nunsense, Peggy in the Taffetas, and Taffeta Christmas, Lucy in Narnia and Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. I am proud to say that I work as a Standardized/Simulated Patient for various Medical/Professional Training institutions and as a Professional Christmas Caroler for the Original Dickens Carolers. My job as Mother-of-3 (young adults) is on flex-time lately as we have one left in the nest and two others visiting during school breaks or when they need me to go with/take them shopping. Much gratitude and love to Patrick, for his friendship, professionalism and wit, thanks to Bill, Connie, and Stuart for giving us a fun place to play, and thank you, Ken and Anna for holding down the fort and for unconditional love, and most importantly, thank you for supporting the arts! I couldn’t be here if you weren’t!

Adam Patrick Hurley

Patrick is excited to be back with Colorado Stage. Patrick originated the role of Delightful in "Dearly Departed" at the Avenue theater. He also had the opportunity to play Max Nuggett in "Murder Most Fowl" also at the Avenue. Other work includes Biff in "Death of a Salesman" at the Upstart Crow in Boulder and most recently as Bobby in "Walking the Dead" in a regional theater outside of Los Angeles. After five years Patrick is somewhat nervous about his return to the stage so feel free to laugh a little bit harder for him...and feel free to applaud a little bit longer... Patrick wants to thank his parents for their ongoing and unending support and to Cory without whom nothing would be possible. "It is great to be back home on the stage, I love acting" because as Oscar Wilde said..."it is so much more real, than life...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Now Leaving...Temecula...

This is Bonnie and I've been putting a lot of thought into writing this post. We're moving out of the wonderful city of Temecula and moving forward back to Corona. It is because of all the amazing experiences that we've had in Temecula that we are moving forward with more energy, more hope, more enthusiasm, and a renewed appreciation for life as we know it.

Living in Temecula has been an enlightening experience. When we first moved here, it was with a heavy heart. We not only moved out of a city that we've lived in for 10 years, but we moved away from our lifestyle. Changes were happening at a fast pace; some of them necessary, some of them welcome, and some of them not. Within the first week of living here, however, a whole new world opened up, kind of like a new flower blooming. There were so many things to do, new experiences waiting for us every time the sun rose in the sky, new people to meet, and entire city welcoming us with open arms.

This was the best summer that we have ever had and our experiences here will be held as treasured memories for the rest of our lives. Thank you so much to the City of Temecula, the Children's Science Center in Old Town, to Dynamite Dave for all the entertainment and the most amazing balloon art we've ever seen, to all the families we've met along the way, to all the merchants we got to know personally in Old Town and around the city, to the Parks and Recreation Dept. for all the amazing summer nights at the movies and concert series and family nights, and to Extended Stay America for all their kindness and hospitality. There are so many more people that I'd like to thank and if I didn't mention you, then just know that you will always have a special place in our hearts.

We will be visiting during the holidays and we're looking forward to saying hello again soon. Our lives have forever changed for the better by being here and we will always love this place. Thank you so much, we love you!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

While We're At It...

Hello if you've linked here from a housing-type blog (Housing-Kaboom, etc.)!

Regular readers and friends, I hope you can stand one more post about the old Cliffrose house. We took a closer look at the photos in the new listing, and we noticed a few more things, so I figured we would write one post to tie everything together.

Those of you who know us probably know the story: we were renting this house in Sycamore Creek, which was a nice neighborhood when we moved in, but had turned into a desolate ghost-town by the time we left in 2008, due to the insane number of foreclosures and abandoned houses. We had been after our landlords since the day we moved in about repairs, but they never did anything. Later, we found out that they had stopped paying their mortgage and were skimming our rent payments. We then stopped paying them, and ended up dragging each other into court. We eventually settled with them for about six months of free rent. We got some great advice on how to handle the situation from a lawyer named Ken Carlson at

Anyway, after we moved out, we found the "for sale" listing for the house and noticed that it said the house needed air conditioning, kitchen appliances, and cosmetic repair. We thought that was weird, since it certainly had all of that when we left. Just to see, I drove by the house a couple of weeks ago, and saw that the two air conditioning compressors in the backyard had been removed! So, obviously, our previous landlords were trying to get anything of value out of the house before the bank took it back.

Well, as of a couple of days ago, the house has gone back to the bank and is listed as an REO. The new photos are incredible! THEY TOOK EVERYTHING!! I have some photos to show you what I mean:

The most obvious example is the den, or whatever you would call the area off the kitchen. Here it is a few days after we moved in:

... and here it is now:

Notice anything (other than the furniture) gone? Drapes? Ceiling fan?? Plantation shutters??? They stripped it good!

A similar theme goes throughout the other rooms. There are actually very few meaningful pictures in the listing -- any prospective buyers are going to get a shock! The 'Great Room' had the same kind of curtains and shutters, but it's gone now. This is what it looked like when we moved in (I don't have a picture from this angle now, but it's obvious looking at the rest that it's all gone):

And, the kitchen actually had appliances in it, unlike now (old pic):

Of course, while we were there, we were fighting with the landlord's over the condition of the place, which they had promised to fix in 2006 -- things like broken wood flooring, floors that don't meet walls, shattered door jambs, and stuff like this, which is undoubtedly still there:

I guess the bottom line here is that these home-debtors really raped this house. Not that I have too much sympathy for banks right now, but if they have loaned money based on holding security, and before they take the security the debtor ruins, or takes, a good portion of the value of it for themselves, how is that not grand theft? It's more than $400 of theft, right? It seems like that would be illegal...

Well, it's their karma. They can deal with their own lives. We have moved on, and made ourselves happy, but it was just incredible to see this pop-up last night on HousingKaboom!

Another Cliffrose Update -- This is Too Good!

Ok, me again. I just saw the new listing for the Cliffrose dump house. Apparently, the house went REO in the last day or two. The bank has it listed for $20k more than our landlords did. And... (drum roll)... THEY TOOK EVERYTHING! Check out the listing and pictures on Redfin! They took the curtains, the plantation shutters, the ceiling fans, and probably more that I can't see, in ADDITION to the air conditioning compressors, etc. I wonder if the house still has plumbing of any kind? I hear pipes go for a lot at the recycling yards.

Scum. Trash. There is no other word for the landlords of that property. Well, maybe one other: Thieves. They must have plundered that place for $30,000 - $50,000 worth of fixtures. Incredible. I'm sure the bank is very pleased with what they got back.

Monday, August 25, 2008

We're Famous!!

Well, not us really, but the hell-house that we were renting for the couple of years is profiled today on! Click here to see it.

It looks like it finally went back to the bank. This explains A LOT about why they tried to run us out of the house so fast. Since we left, the home-debtors (allegedly) dug out and sold the air conditioners, kitchen appliances, and just about everything of value, whether or not it was nailed down! They knew the bank was getting ready to take it, and wanted us out so they could loot the place! Slimeballs. Absolute slimeballs. Well, I certainly hope they are happy -- I know we are happy to be out of there!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday Night at the Museum

Last night we went to the Children's Imagination Workshop in Old Town. Every Friday night they have a different special event and this one was called "Hot Starry Night." This particular event was very popular and they did a spectacular job putting the whole thing together.

The first thing we did when we got there was a scavenger hunt. There was a list of things to find and questions to answer all over the museum about astronomy. We found hidden treasures in the black-lit maze, a solar system on the ceiling, constellations in the dining room, an experimental Black Hole in the kitchen, and "Beaker" (their little mascot) dressed in a space suit and floating in the "Lonnng Hallway."

Then, we went into the dining room to work on crafts. Kids and adults were putting together a circular star chart, colored planets, and played with electricity (some people got a little static shock - but that was on purpose and they wanted to).

After that we went into the music room. An astronomer put on a presentation about what we'll be able to see in the night sky and explained what and where all the different celestial bodies are.

When the museum closed at 7:30, we went up to the antique store on Fourth Street. This time, Ashley got involved in a hula hooping contest! She's getting better and better at it. This time she had the hula hoop going around her neck and then she tried getting two hula hoops going at the same time around her body. She actually had them going for a few seconds! Then, we danced together, she jumped around in a jumper with a bunch of other kids, and then "Dynamite Dave" made butterfly wings for her with balloons.

When it got dark, we went out to the back parking lot behind the museum. The astronomers had set up about a half dozen telescopes pointed at all different objects for us to experience. I took some pictures with my cell phone looking through the telescopes. Above is a picture of Jupiter with one of its bright moons. I actually saw four moons, but I couldn't get a picture of all of them. There's also a decent picture of our moon. If you look at the top of it, you can see its rays. Then, there's a picture of a binary star system where they are orbiting around each other. These looked better through the telescope than the picture above. What that picture shows is two orange dots. In reality, they were quite colorful, the top one is blue and the bottom one is yellow.

That was such an amazing night! We got to experience the wonders of heaven and earth together in one beautiful night in Old Town. We're looking forward to going there next Friday night to add more wonderful memories to our treasured collection.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Workout Journal - Week 6

Six weeks ago, I learned that we have a gym membership as one of the benefits of living at the Extended Stay. I decided then that I have an opportunity to get my body and my sanity back, and that I needed to do it now. I've been intimidated by "perfect" barbie dolls at the gym for way too long, so I finally got off my butt and took on a task that I both dreaded and anticipated at the same time. I did not want to go from an unhealthy person to a skinny person. I wanted, and needed, to go from an unfit person to a fit person instead, and there's a difference. "Skinny" is an image, "fit" is a state of well-being. To achieve the image of "skinny" would be self-defeating, and I don't need any more excuses for that! Becoming "fit" is the opposite, it is self-enhancing. I don't care that I'm not, nor can I ever be, a size 0. Who is? I do know that I can increase my cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength, and decrease my body fat. Heck, everyone can do that! Along with that, I want to achieve a fit body without going on a diet. Weight loss is not a product of deprived fad diets (which only makes your body fatter and weaker by lowering your metabolism), but a result of choosing foods (using plain-old common sense) and increasing movement. Physical fitness isn't about depriving yourself of food and dancing around in neon leotards like a Barbie with her life handed to her on a silver platter. That's just not reality. Being fit means having cardiovascular health, muscular strength and a healthy body fat percentage. That's honesty, not the BS that the media force feeds us everyday. I'm not interested in what the people who earn a commission in this industry have to say. I do want, however, to change the way that I look and feel because I have to live in my own skin everyday and being unfit is not something I want anymore. I know that I have a long way to go, but that's okay. This is a process that is literally one step at a time.

Ashley is Growing Up!

I just had to take a picture of Ashley this morning. She's been going through a growth spurt lately and, for some reason, I noticed this morning that she started to look different. Her face is changing, her personality is evolving more quickly now, and she's taking a bigger leap forward to being something more than a just a little girl. She's been surprising me lately, too, with how well she carries herself, her ever- increasing sense of humor, her viewpoint and perception of the world, her ability to see the value in almost every situation - good, bad, fun, boring, stress, happiness - her motivation to succeed and being a good sport whether she accomplishes her goals or not is inspiring, her understanding of the hard work that it takes to go the distance to make goals and dreams become a reality, her sincere appreciation for life and her gratitude that mommy & daddy decided to have a baby and that she was the one person that was born to us (she actually tells us this more often
than anyone would believe)! She's proud of her accomplishments, she is confident, and she's getting to be pretty outgoing. She loves to help people and encourages them to go for their dreams and to never give up. She wears her heart on her shirtsleeve and she's hypersensitive to other people's feelings, even when they try to hide them. She is like this angel who has come into this world to make everyone's life a little better. On August 19, she will have hit another milestone. She will be six years old. Our "little" girl is growing up and evolving everyday into a truly beautiful person.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Friday Night at the Children's Museum

This Friday we went to an event at the Children's Imagination Museum in Old Town for an event called "Pennypickles Roman Holiday." Here's the description: "The Professor loved his recent visit to Ancient Rome and so will you! Find out about inventions of the Roman Empire, like aqueducts. Swe how a volcano destroyed Pompeii, and make some cool centurion masks and shields." This description made the event sound like fun, but when we got there, we had more fun and did more activities than what we expected. In one of the rooms, there were stations set up for making various crafts and projects. In the music room, they had a station set up so you could try all the different foods that ancient Romans used to eat, a hopscotch with Roman numerals (the Romans invented hopscotch not as a game, but to train soldiers), a station to teach kids how to tell time and do math using Roman numerals, and much, much more. The people who set all this up at the museum must have spent a lot of time s
etting this up!

After that, we went back to the hotel to watch the Opening Ceremonies for the Bejing Olympics. It was amazing! Additionally, Derek found some footage today on the internet where it shows that NBC edited out an hour of the Opening Ceremonies, so we didn't get to see a big chunk of it here in the States. I don't the place he got it exactly, but it's out there.

Next Friday we are going back to the Children's Museum again. They are doing an event called "Hot Starry Nights." Here's the description: "The night sky will be the star during this exploration of constellations - there's a New Moon on this evening to add to the fun." They are also blocking off a couple of parking lots when it gets dark because an astronomer is going to be setting up two telescopes to look at constellations and planets - and he'll stay there as late as we want! Isn't that cool?

These Friday night events only cost $5.00 per person. It's a great deal! We are really fortunate to be living here and to be a part of this. I feel like, finally, we're having some fun in our lives!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Get it Together, People!!

Since I wrote the post below, I've been poking around teh Interweb and it seems that a lot of people think that the woman in BellaDonna is actually Stevie Nicks. She pops up at other cover bands performances and people start freaking out (OMG! It's her! IT'S HER!!1!11) Apparently, she doesn't discourage this, and it took a disabled veteran's request to talk to her to get her to admit that she isn't the real Stevie Nicks.

People: control yourselves. Stevie Nicks is not hanging around the Inland Empire playing at shopping malls. She is a mega-squillionaire, living on another planet, doing enough blow to fill a dumptruck. You can see her on TV, not at a Wal-Mart opening.

(I can't believe it -- someone is WRONG about something on the Internet! How can this be?!?)

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Ok -- this is my first post for a while. In the past, if my name was attached to a post it would probably contain a screed about politics or how anyone who still calls themselves a Republican should be tarred and feathered and run out of polite society. But, I have decided to lighten up! So, tonight's post will be a review of the free concert that we went to tonight: BellaDonna, live at the Ronald Reagan Sports Park in Temecula.

I should start by saying that this concert probably should have been billed differently. It was listed as "Belladonna: A Tribute to Stevie Nicks." Ok, fine. The band's website lists them as a tribute to Stevie Nicks & Fleetwood Mac, and I think there is a big distinction to be made there. (Confession time: I am a 41 year-old ex-punk rocker, but I have a soft spot for Stevie Nicks and (most of) Fleetwood Mac in general. How sick is that?!) We picked up a couple of boozes on the way to the show because, seriously, I need to be loaded to stay in a place named after Ronald Reagan! We also took dinner along and planned to make a picnic out of it, but we ran a little late, so that only partially panned out.

Anyway, the show started and, well, here was an eight-piece band fronted by a woman who is really trying hard to be Stevie Nicks. The thing is, she wasn't trying to be like Stevie Nicks, she was trying to be Stevie Nicks! Big difference. She came out dressed in a black gypsy-style dress, changed various shawls and tablecloths throughout the show, posed, tried to make her voice raspy, etc. At one point, I realized that the illusion was a little better without my glasses on, since I could almost pretend that there was a blurry Stevie up there, singing Rihannon, or Stand Back, or whatever. It was at that point that I felt bad for this band. This was, probably, as good as it gets for them: playing a free concert at a park in Temecula on a Thursday night, while the lead singer tries to play 'What Would Stevie Nicks Do?'. There will be no record contracts, no big sold-out shows, nothing major for them, because Stevie Nicks is still performing!! Maybe I'm just acting jaded, but if I can shell out the cash and see the real thing, that means that I am only willing to accept a note-for-note, move-for-move imitation for free! Elvis impersonators get work because Elvis is dead; Dred Zeppelin used to get work because they added something (reggae) to the Led Zeppelin songs. This was just a copy without the fame attached.

Then, about half-way through the show, something weird happened.

Wanna-be Stevie left the stage, and one of the back-up singers took the lead vocal and said she was going to do a Christine McVie song, and they played Say You Love Me. Hey -- there's a real band here, not just backup music for a Stevie Nicks clone. Then the other backup singer took the mic and sang... oh crap, I don't remember what she sang now, but she was entertaining and, in the middle of the song, switched places (mid-beat) with the drummer to take part in a five-minute drum solo! Now THAT was unexpected! When Wanna-be Stevie came back, she wasn't acting like Wanna-be Stevie anymore, she was now Michelle Tyler, singer, still dressed like Stevie Nicks, but acting like she had her own personality. To me, at least, the rest of the show was like watching a different band -- a better one, and a band that wasn't just trying to be a low-rent version of something else. Suddenly, they had their own presence, the lead guitarist got to take the Lindsay Buckingham role on Go Your Own Way, and it seemed like they were having a lot more fun! (I know I was!) Also, the crowd seemed more willing to get into it on the dance floor. I guess there is a lesson in there somewhere for everyone. I think it is: 'Don't take any wooden nickels.' Or maybe 'No one likes a tattletale.' Something like that.

All in all, it was a cute show. I thought they kind of loused up Gypsy (dammit!), and they didn't play any Lindsay solo stuff (like Trouble or Holiday Road), but they rocked a few songs towards the end (Edge of Seventeen & Don't Stop). Not perfect, and I would have changed a few things, but it was a nice Thursday night in the park.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mobile Blogging

My Birthday

Tonight we celebrated my birthday by going to Family Night at the sports park here in Temecula. The theme was "Groovy '70's." We made disco balls with plastic balls wrapped in tin foil and decorated them with plastic jewels that we glued on. Then, we got to make some Shrinky Dinks. Derek and Ashley made me a birthday card with one of them and Ashley made another one that said "Ashley, Dad, Mom" and decorated it with colorful flowers and a rainbow. Isn't that sweet? Tears welled up in my eyes when they gave those to me. I'll keep them forever. Then we also went up on this stage and danced around to disco music and won some prizes. It was cute when the toddlers were up there. They had fun with their parents and other kids with the music. We also made a friendship bracelet and went outside and made tie-dye t-shirts. We've never made those before, so when we were handed rubber bands and a white t-shirts, we had no clue what to do with them. Fortunately, there was someone there to show us what to do and we made some interesting designs. After that, we came home, and I made myself an ice cream cone with Breyer's triple chocolate ice cream and topped it with miniature M&M's. Yum! So, it was a fun night with the family and I realized that turning 40 is pretty cool!

Having Fun

Friday night we went to the weekly event at the Children's Imagination Workshop in Old Town. They had demonstrations of how bicycles worked, displayed all kinds of bikes from BMX to high-end racing bikes used by Olympians and gave away raffle prizes. Again, we had so much fun! Ashley and I want take advantage of some of the bike trails around here to spend some mommy and me time together when I get my bike fixed. The other kids that were there, too, want to be involved with one of the kids bike clubs that ride around on the trails nearby. Isn't that cool?

After the museum closed, we walked back up Front Street to get Ashley a root beer float. She earned that and a trip to McDonald's Playland for getting six out of seven gold stars in a week for doing her homework.

Then, across the street on the corner of Fourth and Front Streets, there was a jumper for the kids, balloon animals being made, rockabilly music, and a hula hoop contest! Ashley and I nearly dropped the root beer float racing over there. Ashley couldn't wait to show us that she's getting the hang of hula hooping from her kids aerobics classes. I couldn't help it, either. I picked up a couple of hula hoops and pretended that I was a kid for awhile myself. It was so much fun! Derek video taped Ashley and I and said that he would post it on our blog. I said, "No way! OMG!!" I also won a prize for what I was doing. Can you believe that! I haven't picked up a hula hoop since I was 11 years old! Ashley is getting really good at it, too. She can keep it going for about five seconds now and she keeps trying and trying to keep the pace up! Go for it, Ashley! After that, we put our hula hoops down and danced until the DJ had to pack up the music. What fun!

After that, we headed back across the street to do some cheese tasting. They also had a live band over there playing bluegrass music. We hung out for awhile, the three of us waltzing in the best way we could to the slower music and dancing to the rhythm of the faster music, and then left when they packed up their instruments. Then, we went home. What a fun night!

I got a message this weekend from a friend of ours asking about Ashley's birthday. Isn't that sweet? How thoughtful! When I told Ashley that "anonymous" asked me about it, her face just lit up with this big toothless smile. I'll never forget that. For her birthday, either on or around August 19, she wants to go to the Promenade Mall to either make a doll or get a makeover at Libby Lu. Either one sounds like fun, but she hasn't decided yet.

Today is my birthday. We're going to the Monday Night Family Night at the park. They are having a "Groovy '70's" theme with '70's music and we're going to make Tye-die t-shirts. We're also going to bring a picnic dinner and eat outside at the picnic tables.

Right now, it's about 9:00 am. Ashley is still sleeping, so I've got to wake her up to go to the gym. I'll write more soon because, hopefully, because I will have figured out how to post from my mobile phone so can write updates more than once a week.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Moving Forward

Since my last post, things have been back to normal. I had a rough week and I needed to vent, so I wrote about my frustrations. Like what some of the important people in our lives did, a friend of ours, who Derek has known since the fifth grade, called after reading my last post and asked if everything was okay. That really touched me. It is such an amazing feeling when someone reaches out and asks if you're all right. It shows that they care and that you're important. Thank you for that phone call; you're important to us, too.

This week, I've been working out more. On the days the gym has kids aerobics, I take Ashley with me. On the other days I go by myself and spend two to three hours there in the morning. Lifting weights and sweating it out on the cardio machines makes all the difference. I have dance music on my headset, I really get into my workouts, and I escape into a world that I used to call torture, but now I call it Shangri La. This is the fifth week that I've been going to Gold's Gym since I found out that I get a free membership because we live in the Extended Stay. Week number six starts on Monday. I'm noticing some improvements and the trainers and instructors are there as my encouraging cheerleaders. I probably would have given up after day one if it weren't for them. You wouldn't know it by looking at me now, but, looking back, I used to be fit, I was a trainer, I was one of the cheerleaders. I have so much respect for the people who work at this gym; they are real professionals there. They are truly inspirational. I'd love to get back into the saddle again someday myself and help others that are starting back out on their path to having a healthy lifstyle.

What else has been happening this week? Derek took the van in for a smog check on Monday. It thankfully passed and we were able to register it. Mainly this week, though, we've been focusing on academic stuff with Ashley. Home schooling is harder than it looks, but I think we're getting into a rhythm. We've set up a schedule and posted it on the refridgerator, we've got a rewards system going, and we're moving in a forward direction. So, we're getting it together. Ashley is doing a book report on Flat Stanley, we're working more on basic math, money, telling time, fractions, phonics, penmanship, geography, astronomy, weather, and puzzles. Tonight we're taking her to the Children's Imagination Workshop in Old Town. They are doing an event on the Science of Bicycles and we'll also have a couple of hours to play at the museum, too.

Tomorrow, I'm taking Ashley to the gym for kids aerobics. She's making some friends there and she's loving the workouts. She said something I'll never forget. One day last week, she was running down the hallway from the laundry room and she stopped at the door to our room. Acting lik she's out of breath, she said, "Mom, I really need to work out! Are we going to the gym tomorrow?" I have never heard a kid her age say that before! How funny! I hope she keeps it up.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Being a Supermom

There has been so much activity going on that I have to question whether I can keep up with the expectations that people have of me. Everything is going great, and then sometimes all these self-doubts creep up and I feel like I can't do it anymore. Maybe it's because my whole life has changed. Maybe I am not feeling as confident as my family needs me to show. Maybe I'm PMSing. Maybe it's a combination. This week, though was a real roller coaster.

The 21st was our 17th wedding anniversary. We went to the park for the Monday night Family Fun night hosted by the city and it turned out to be someone selling some MLM juice product. Gymstars was there to entertain the kids outside while the parents were watching this live infomercial inside. As Ashley put it, it was a train wreck. So, we left, walked around the park for awhile, discovered some bunnies (like the kind living in the bushes )in grandma and grandpa's backyard) along the way, and went home. Okay, so it wasn't the greatest thing we've ever done on our anniversary, but it wasn't the worst either.

That's when the self-doubts started to surface. Did my family expect more from me that day than I delivered? I mean, we didn't plan anything special. It was a typical day. Ashley and I went to the gym in the morning, home schooled the rest of the day, then we all went to the park. And, oh yeah, it was our anniversary. I think Ashley and Derek were disappointed that we didn't make a special day of it, but I really didn't make any plans.

On the 23rd, we took Ashley to her dental appointment in Corona. This was a biggie. She was going to have her four-part kiddie partial removed from her smile because her adult teeth are budding through. We prepared her by encouraging her about how wonderful it is that she's growing up and getting her new adult teeth in. She got really excited and couldn't wait to get into that chair! When the hygeniest was removing it, she was very gentle and talked to Ashley the whole time, letting her know everything that she was doing. Ashley was a little nervous, but also brave and anxious to make the transition. After it was removed, the hygenist showed her a mirror and Ashley smiled and actually squealed. Then, she asked to see her x-rays so that she can see the pictures of her adult teeth. In a kind of surprising way, she asked pointed questions like, "What am I looking at? Which ones are my six-year-old molars? Which ones are the front ones that are coming in? Will I need braces when I get older?" At this point, I'm feeling that self-doubt again. I should be asking those questions! Where the hell is my head? So, I stood up from my seat, looked at the x-rays and let Ashley show me everything. Ashley is an amazing little girl, and I am so proud of her for being so brave, so inquisitive, and so positive. I just hope that I can deliver all the things that a supermom can. Here's a picture of Ashley holding her bridge:

Friday night we went to Summertime Movies in the Park. We brought a blanket, a Taco Bell picnic dinner and parked ourselves on the grass. There must have been a couple hundred people there! They had crafts for the kids, activities and games for the families, music, prizes, etc. After making a couple of craft projects, Ashley played "red light, green light" with about a hundred other kids, we helped lead a huge conga line around the park, got up in front of this crowd and made fools of ourselves by leading the "Hokey Pokey" before finally settling down when the movie began. Derek bought Ashley a glow necklace that she used as a belt. She's so cute! It was really cool to lay there on the blanket under the stars watching Madagascar. Derek said, "hey, there's stars up there!" I looked up, held his hand, and we kind of slipped into our own world for awhile. Ashley laid back down between us and we went back to watching the movie again. That was really nice to spend some time like that together.

Yesterday was the opposite, unfortunately. Maybe it's my PMS, but it was not a good day. I was not in a good mood and I don't have any good reason. Last night was so wonderful! I wasn't very nice to Ashley and Derek and they didn't deserve it. Needless to say, I feel very guilty about it. Supermom wasn't available, that's for sure! This whole week I questioned my capabilities of living up to high expectations came to a head. After Ashley and I got home from the gym, we were working on a math workbook and we hit a mental block. She got intimidated with adding bigger numbers and couldn't remember how to add 1 + 1 all of a sudden. I said, "What is going on, Ashley? Did you turn the switch to 'off' in your brain?" She got defensive, I got mad, she refused to do anymore work, the whole thing collapsed. Derek intervened and then we started sniping at each other, which made me more defensive. I finally said that maybe I'm doing more harm than good here and maybe Ashley should go to a real school that has real teachers. I obviously can't do this. Then Ashley started crying and said that I'm a good teacher and she wants to be home schooled. I just said that I don't think that I can live up to everyone's expectations of being the one who is confident, fun, a good mom, a good wife, etc. I got my socks and shoes on and wanted to go for a walk. Ashley grabbed me by the legs like she was drowning or something and said "don't go, mommy, don't go!" So, in a huff, I took off my shoes and layed down in the fetal position on the bed and said that I'm done. I said told them to deal with the workbooks and everything else in this place themselves. For the next 15 minutes or so, it was quite. Ashley started humming a song quietly, which annoyed me at first, but then relaxed me. She gave me her doll and a kiss and told me she loved me. Derek asked me what was wrong and what he could do to make things better. I said that I didn't know, but that I felt like a failure. Derek said, "Are you kidding!? You are doing 98% of everything and you're doing great!" Then, Ashley said, "Yeah mom, you're doing great. I love you." Then she gave me a hug. Ok, so the meltdown was over at that point. Now I'm feeling guilty for torturing them. What the hell is going on with me?

That night, we went to the Promenade Mall for a free disco concert. We've never been to that mall before, so we walked around a bit. Since Ashley's birthday is coming up on August 19th, I thought that maybe we could go find some stores that she likes and she could make a birthday wish list. So we found a Disney store, a KB Toys, a Libby Lu, a Build-A-Bear, a lots of other stuff that Ashley got excited about. I took notes on the things that she wanted for her birthday and I figured that she wants about five grand worth of stuff! We promised her that we would do the best we could and that she'll have a fun birthday no matter what. So, then we decided to check out the concert. When we got there, the band was still setting up, so we decided to go back inside the mall for awhile and get Ashley an ice cream cone. Then, we got distracted exploring more of this huge mall and never made it back to the concert. We had a good time, so missing the concert wasn't a very big deal.

At the end of the day, everything ended up all right. We played some games in our room that Ashley set up with Dixie cups, unloaded the groceries that we picked up on the way home from the mall, and went to bed. As Ashley went to sleep, I was looking at her and thinking about what a wonderful person she is and how lucky I am to have her and Derek. I was feeling guilty about how I behaved earlier, but I know that they understood and they amazed me by showing me so much love and kindness through my meltdown. I fell asleep with happy thoughts and feelings knowing that, no matter what, these two are really there for me when I can't be there for them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 18 and July 19

Friday night we went to the Children's Imagination Museum in Old Town. This week, we did experiments on our five senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. There were experiment stations set up all over the museum. There was one that we liked the most, though. That was in the music room where Ashley got a prize for identifying 23 different sounds played on a CD player. Then, we all played with the musical instruments and took some pictures:

After we played with just about everything in that room, we went exploring around the museum some more. Here are some pictures of that:
Cookie decorating,

Does this taste salty, bitter, sweet, or sour?

Having fun with Bernoulli!

Saturday was a busy day. We got up early and went to Old Town to ride the horse-drawn trolley up and down Front Street. I gave Ashley the camera and told her to take pictures of our morning. Here's what she took:

After that, Ashley and I went to Gold's Gym to work out. I dropped Ashley off in the child care center which, by the way is awesome! They taught the kids anatomy and physiology of muscles and about water and then they took them into the aerobics room and applied it in a half-hour workout. How cool is that!

Then, that afternoon, we went to the Temecula Valley Museum. I gave Ashley the camera and let her take pictures of whatever she wanted. Here's what she took:

Mommy and Ashley:

Then we played dress-up!

Then, that evening, we went to Longshadow Ranch in Wine Country. We got a bottle of wine, some BBQ food, listened to this two-person band who tried to play classic rock, walked around in the grapevines, and mommy got drunk!

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off and got some ice cream to eat later. Ashley decided not to use a spoon....