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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tip toe.

In the tulips.

For the last two evenings, I haven't arrived home from work until almost 8 o'clock. I should really be crashing right now instead of updating the blog, but it's good for me to do something that doesn't involve work or Lauren.

Mark planted a boat load of tulips. To describe them as an "explosion of color" would be an understatement.

Cherry Tee.

With the arrival of spring and summer on its heels, I've been doing a lot of clothes shopping. My favorite t-shirt maker, Cherry Tee is having a sale. They are an "indie" t-shirt company, for lack of a better term, for you can only buy their shirts either directly from them or at small boutiques. I love getting packages from them because they take great care in presenting their product, from the green and burgundy tissue paper to the yummy cherry flavored lollipop.

On a sadder note, I found out today that the father of my childhood best friend passed away on Monday. I had lost touch with her over the last several years, but I think of her often. I'm going to try to send my condolences and hopefully reconnect with her. It's funny because her older sister was a huge fan of Neil Diamond, and I always think of her when I see Neil. Of course, this week was no different...

***Begin American Idol mutterings***

It's been a rough two weeks to be a Jason Castro fan. As if the three less than stellar performances weren't enough, we had to suffer through the relentless attempts to discredit him and question his continued presence on the show.

First "Memory," otherwise known as "Trainwreck." I concede that this certainly was not Jason's best, but it certainly wasn't a trainwreck. No, the trainwreck this week was Brooke White having to restart her performance (And this was the second time she did it during the top 12!). Oh, then there was the derailment that occurred on Top 12 week when someone forgot their lyrics (Lookin' at you, Archie!) That's how I see it at least.

Although I think that the song was much too big for Jason to handle on his best night, it bears mentioning that Jason was dreadfully ill that week. Too bad the show didn't seem to think so, even though the sick card was used as an excuse for several contestants at the beginning of the season.

And then there was Andrew Lloyd Webber who took the opportunity to slam Jason on performance night as well as results night, because he just couldn't wrap his mind around a MAN singing his iconic song. Hey Lord Andy, ever heard of Barry Manilow?? Nice chap, you should look him up.

So after all that the press starts questioning why Jason is still around and treating him like he's the second coming of Sanjaya. Given Jason had just come off of three strong performances in a row (One of which was the memorable "Over The Rainbow"), nothing could be more ridiculous. He's allowed to have an off night, especially since the last time I checked none of these people were trying out for Broadway Idol.

This week, we're finally treated to a theme that's Castro friendly. I was so excited for this week because I grew up listening to Neil Diamond. My teddy bear's favorite song was "Forever in Blue Jeans" (Cut me some slack - I was an only child!).

First, of all the things that transpired during Jason's mentoring session with Neil, they show him singing the lyrics to the wrong song, once again making him look like a fool. He could made it harder for the show to present him in a bad light by having at least one strong performance, but it was not meant to be. I was in total agreement with Simon in the respect that this wasn't the Jason that started the competition. I've often thought about how joyful he was singing "Daydream" and how much promise he showed. Sometimes, it's like the show has sucked all that joy out of him.

Oh, and then there was that whole thing with Paula critiquing a performance that he hadn't even given yet. If that doesn't imply that the show is scripted, I don't know what does. How he managed to get himself together enough to make it through his song, is beyond me. I certainly don't know the guy personally, but he must have a very strong character.

Jason may not be the strongest singer in the competition, but he's never forgotten his lyrics, always sings in key and has rarely hit a rank note. And while I do realize that he often doesn't come off as well on stage, his studio recordings are OUTSTANDING. Oh yes, they keep feeding us the line that this is a "singing competition," but if that was what the show was truly about, the contestants would just sing and we wouldn't have the judges, the interviews, the light shows, the Ford Commercials etc. So I don't feel bad at all about supporting someone who I really enjoy and want to have as many songs as I can from him.

P.S. I thought Neil Diamond looked fantastic. He's really held up well.

***End American Idol mutterings***

Friday, April 25, 2008

Scrapbooking: Let's blow bubbles!

Let's blow bubbles!

Thus ends a spectacularly crappy week. Instead of complaining, let's take a look at a happy scrapbook page. Yay!

Lauren is nuts about her bubbles, so I just had to make a page to capture her in her bubble making glory. Once again, I chose to cut out the patterns on the paper and use it to border the page. It's really become my go-to maneuver. What can I say, I'm a one trick pony.

Because I was in a hurry to finish, I used my own handwriting for the journaling instead of running the page through the printer. While I dislike my handwriting (It's just not girly enough) and think that it detracts from the design, it does make the page more personal.

Do you see the photo on the left? That was taken about ten months ago. Look at those chubby baby legs! Those have since been replaced by long little girl legs. I remember the exact moment several months ago while I was changing her diaper when discovered that her chubby legs were gone. So sad.

Journaling reads: "That was Lauren's mantra during the Summer of '07. We must have gone trhough 5 gallons of bubbles!"

Lauren's first scrapbook page.

And as promised, here is Lauren's first scrapbook page. She picked out the photo, the paper, and the stickers with a little help from me, but otherwise, the cutting and pasting were all her.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


On the Primary Election Day, vote for Jason Castro!

Big night for more ways than one. Now that we've performed our civic duty, now it's time to perform our consumer duty...

***Begin American Idol Mutterings***

Last week's performance of "I Don't Want to Cry" put Jason back in contender status once again and have many folks calling for an all male final three. I'm certainly one of them! Once again, this week's performance will be crucial. And once again, the deck is stacked against him:

1.) Rumor has it that he will be singing "Memory" from Cats. Need I say more? Although if you're going to bomb, it's best to bomb on a well known song.

2.) Reports suggests that he was ill this week. Not a good time to be sick when you're singing a song from a Broadway musical!

3.) Jason, bless his heart, announced last week that he has a girlfriend. This has sent his fans into a tizzy of massive proportions leading to some say that they aren't going to vote for him anymore.

Now, I too was once a teeny-bopper (I'm still teeny by some standards), and I can tell you that it didn't matter to me when a celebrity that I was crushing on had a girlfriend. After all, if you have enough of an imagination to fantasize that you will one day meet your crush and cause him to fall madly in love with you at first sight surely you can imagine away said girlfriend? Girls today need to be more creative.

I really want Jason to make it to Neil Diamond week so that he can sing "You'll Be a Woman Soon." Although he'll probably get eliminated that week because we'll all be too swooned over to vote!

Also, I have to add David Cooks "Always Be My Baby" to the list of songs that make me tear up. It sounds like a what would be played on a movie soundtrack when the two star crossed lovers finally hook up. Even Mark admitted that you could hear it on the radio today.

Maybe I am sentimental after all?

***End American Idol Mutterings***

Monday, April 21, 2008



Around this time last year, I had a minor freak-out when I realized that Lauren was about to turn two and I only made six scrapbook layouts to chronicle her second year.

So imagine my dismay when I performed the same evaluation this year and realized that I only made five scrapbook layouts to chronicle her third. Since then, I've been attempting to do one layout per week in hopes of reaching ten before her birthday. But I'm not holding my breath that I'll actually accomplish this.

Journaling reads: "As you grow up, things will come into and go out of style. What's a must have today is a fashion misstep tomorrow. Who knows if Crocs are here to stay, but in case they ever lose their appeal, let it be known that you had a pair. And that you loved wearing them."

Oops...I just realized that I misspelled "misstep" on the page. Since there is no spell check in Photoshop, I end up doing that all the time. Makes it all the more endearing doesn't it? At least that's what I tell myself.

On a related note, I told Lauren that I was going to buy her a green pair of Crocs to wear during the summer. Needless to say, she is beside herself with excitement over the prospect.

Miss Junior Scrapbooking.

And on another related note, having seen Mommy scrapbooking, Lauren has decided that she too wants to join in the fun (Note that despite having a perfectly good workspace, I still prefer to scrapbook on the floor, hence the mess.). Stay tuned as in the near future I will be posting her works as well!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring cleaning.


Okay, so you wouldn't know it by this photo, but we've been busy around here. This weekend, our furniture slipcovers and closets received their bi-annual cleaning. I think I managed to purge about half of my clothes, which means now I have room for new stuff [insert evil laugh]! Lauren's wardrobe is especially hurting right now. I picked up a few new tops for her on sale at Old Navy, but not nearly enough to carry her through a mildly warm week. Her torso is now up to 3T, but her bottom half still fits in 24 months to maybe 2T, if the waistband is adjustable). I dug out some capri pants that she received for her birthday last year, and they are still baggy around the waist! That kid needs to eat more.

Mark is busy working on building a doll house for Lauren's birthday present. To get some supplies, we visited Lynlott Miniatures, a store no more than fifteen minutes from our house that's completely devoted to doll houses. I must have been past it hundreds of times during the span of my life and never noticed it was there. The doll houses are simply amazing and come in every style imaginable. They even have one set up for play, and Lauren quietly took it for a test drive for well over a half hour.

Our life doesn't revolve too much around our child now does it?

Speaking of spring cleaning, you may have noticed that I finally gave the blog layout a much needed update. I added a few new links to reflect recent interests (Ahem.) and of course changed our banner. My lack of updates has caused a terrible back log, so now I have numerous photos, scrapbook pages and videos to share. I was able to incorporate at least some of the photos in the new blog banner. I hope everyone likes it, as I have a feeling that this one will be staying up for awhile.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Beavis approves this post.


Beavis the Cat has reviewed its contents and certifies that there is no mention of American Idol or Jason Castro in this post. You may proceed.

Trying to catch up on some projects this weekend. Lauren will be turning three in less than three weeks, so it's time once again to plan her birthday party. I'm kicking around a few ideas for a theme, but I don't know if I want to commit to one or just have a generic party. I think Lauren is finally at the age where she would appreciate a theme though. I hope to at least make the invitations this weekend.

So far, Mark and I haven't had any luck finding new furniture for our bedroom. I hope we find some soon, because since we moved everything out but our current bed, it feels like we're sleeping in a hotel room!

While Mark is at work tonight working on a project of his own, Lauren and I are going to watch 101 Dalmations and eat popcorn. That's pretty much the biggest plan that we have this weekend.

Country Clay.

One last thing - when we stopped at McDonald's for a Happy Meal today, I was surprised to find that this month they're giving away American Idol toys. This one is named Country Clay. He plays this absolutely hideous song when you move the microphone to his mouth. Other times, he just says "YEEHAW!" Mel C.: We have to go to McDonald's this week for lunch so that I can get another one! However, of the others available, not one had dreadlocks.

You didn't really think my cat could read, did you?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just crackers.

Late July crackers.

MC Hammer has a blog. He updates more than I do.

My new obsession is these crackers. They taste just like Ritz, only better for you. And the packaging is to die for (Just look at that font!). Late July also makes cookies - I've got to get my hands on them!

But first we have to get something out of the way. You know you've been waiting for it...

***Begin American Idol mutterings***

I don't consider myself an overly sentimental person. I don't usually cry at movies or sad stories, but there are few songs that never fail to make me tear up:

"Into the West," by Annie Lennox from The Return of the King soundtrack. I'd like this to be played at my funeral. That and "Rock the Casbah." /joke

"We've Only Just Begun," by The Carpenters. They should have Carpenters night on AI!

"There's Always Tomorrow," sung by Clarisse The Reindeer, in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Yes, I am a freak.


"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

So here I am on Tuesday night, choking back the tears and cursing myself a fool as Jason Castro sits there playing his little ukelele. Gosh darn it, I've become the people I make fun of! Thank goodness Mark wasn't around to see it.

Then he finished performing, and once again Lauren had to tell me that I was being too loud. I don't know what makes me more foolish - the crying or the cheering.

I guess that's the last time I try to prognosticate the results of this crazy show. Michael Johns had the breakout performance during Dolly Parton week, and just like that, he's gone (I will sorely miss Mark referring to him as Jack Tripper. Oh, and the ascots - mustn't forget Michael's ascots!). Randy Jackson slams Jason on Larry King Live one night and calls him "Molten hot!" the next. Now his performance of SOTR is at the top of the iTunes charts, beating both David Cook's "Billy Jean" and David Archleta's "Imagine." Shenanigans or no, you can't deny that there are serious mind games afoot. At least I was right about the fact that singing first is a curse and that Syesha was going to survive the week.

And like him or no, you have to give credit to a guy that busts out a ukelele on the highest rated show in America, risking the inevitable comparison to Tiny Tim, and brings the house down. Jason Casto doesn't care that you think he's dreadlocks are skanky. He doesn't care that you think the faces that he makes while he sings are stupid. He just does his thing and enjoys himself. And that's why he has "it" (That pretty voice doesn't hurt either!).

After the this week, I think I will be at peace when it's Jason's week to go. He's no longer the guy who sang "Hallelujah" and then failed to live up to expectations. His work is done here.

***End American Idol mutterings***

Monday, April 7, 2008


If what transpired on CNN this evening doesn't prove what I put forth in my last post, I don't know what does. Poor Jason.

I'm so far gone.

American Idol ice cream.

First, I need to mention how sad I was to hear that Charleton Heston passed away. He has always been one of my favorite actors.

On a lighter note, now I've resorted to buying American Idol products. I opted to try this flavor because the thought of banana ice cream was intriguing, but it ended up being quite ordinary. I'm going to buy Cheesecake Diva next.

I haven't resorted to buying one of these t-shirts yet, but I am oh-so close.

Which means its time once again for...

***Begin American Idol mutterings***

Once again, I found myself seething with anger on Tuesday night. Not because of any wrong doing on Jason Castro's behalf. No, my TV Boyfriend came through with his best performance since he's been in the Top 12. It was the performance that he should have delivered the week after "Hallelujah." Unfortunately, it is too late, as it has become evident to me that the show is moving on without him. Plans have been put into motion to end his Idol journey potentially as early as this week, but most likely next week.

In order to win American Idol, you not only need to build a devoted fan base that will vote for you week in and week out, but you also need to attract the casual voter who tends to vote according to more variable factors, like who delivered the best performance or who sang a well known song or who was unfairly humiliated by the judges. I do not think that the show is fixed, but I strongly believe that the producers make purposeful choices that influence the casual vote in such a way as is favorable to the outcome that they want. I submit this as evidence:

#1. Jason went 2nd during Top 10 week. It is a well known fact that the earlier that you perform, the more likely you will end up in the bottom three because people are more likely to forget about you, even if you performed well. Performing last, however, virtually guarantees you safety, because it's the last thing people see before they vote. Jason has never performed last, but he should have performed at least in the last half of the Top 9 show. Instead, he performed fourth.

#2. You could barely hear him over the band. Jason is not a belty kind of singer by any means, but even whispers can be heard if a microphone is turned up enough or if the band plays at a volume that enhances your performance, not dominates it.

#3. The most damning were Simon's comments. Usually, Simon is right on, but every once in awhile he will give a negative comment that just doesn't make any sense. One example would be his criticism of Carly the week she sang "Blackbird." He basically criticized her for singing a song about a blackbird. This week, Simon told Jason that he shouldn't be singing that type of song. But that's the exact kind of song that Jason should be singing and has been singing the entire competition! The comment was just negative for the sake of being negative.

Here's how I see his elimination going down:

This week, the Idols will be performing inspirational songs. Jason will perform during the second half the show, but most likely not last. This will set him up to go first or second during Top 7 week. Kristy Lee will perform early in the show and receive mildly positive comments. She will then be eliminated. Since she is widely considered the weakest contestant, her elimination will not draw away from the warm fuzzy feeling of Idol Gives Back.

Top 7 week is Mariah Carey week. Rumor has it that the Idols will be performing Mariah songs. While this theme is likely a disadvantage to Jason, this theme plays to Syesha's strengths. Although she is not as popular as Jason, I believe the producers want to keep her around because she adds to diversity and is the requisite "diva" singer of the season. Look for her to perform late in the show to rave reviews. Couple this with the recent strong performances on the male side by Michael Johns, and it's bye-bye TV Boyfriend.

It's a shame, because in my mind, Jason is what an "idol" should be. He's good looking, non-threatening yet slightly edgy (the dreads), has a radio friendly voice (His studio recording of "Travelin' Through" is absolutely outstanding and quiets any doubters of his vocal abilities), and from what we've seen, is an affable, yet goofy young guy (Reminiscent of the early Beatles or The Monkees). I'm not responsible for the highest rated show on television, so what do I know.

This week, I also downloaded David Cook's "Little Sparrow" and Brooke White's "Jolene" (I thought her performance was pretty good!). I cannot recommend "Little Sparrow" enough as it is by far my favorite recording from him so far. I like it even better than "Billie Jean." However, Mr. Cook will not get his dirty rocker paws on my votes until Jason rides off into the sunset.

***End American Idol mutterings***

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oh, yeah. BIG.

Lauren's Room

When Lauren was a baby, she was very good sleeper (and eater, for that matter). But around the time that she turned one, it all fell apart. She started waking in the middle of the night and would not fall back to sleep. Oh yeah, we'd try letting her cry it out, but you see, our child is brillant. She doesn't fall for such simple tricks. Instead of eventually tiring herself out like any other kid would, she would work herself into such a frenzy that she would eventually throw up in her crib, knowing full well that no one wanted to deal with that. So, after several nights of pure torture, we did what what everyone advises you not to do. We did what we had to do to survive.

We let her sleep with us.

At first, she slept in our bed, but as soon as she was big enough, we moved her into a twin bed. After almost two years of this arrangement, I really don't see what the big deal is. True, we lost some privacy. And three people in one room doesn't often make for ideal sleeping conditions. But I wouldn't trade those nights of crawling into bed and seeing my little daughter sleeping sweetly in her bed next to mine.

Since Lauren will be turning three next month, we felt that the time had finally come for her to sleep in her own room. I wanted to accomplish this before we potty trained her, so as not to throw too much change her way at once. Plus, once she moved out, Mark and I could start remodeling our sorry excuse for a bedroom.

We had been working on and off on redecorating her room for the last couple of months, but finally on Friday night, we took the final step of moving her bed into her room. As soon as she saw the new set up, she was ecstatic. She started jumping up and down on the bed yelling, "I LOVE MY NEW BED!" even though it was the same exact one as before, only with new bedding (We're tricksy like that.). Then she'd say in a matter of fact way, "This room is really nice, Mom." It was adorable.

Lauren's Room

When the time for sleep came, she got into bed without hesitation. Then, something unexpected happened.

She didn't ask for her pacifier.

She was so excited, that she completely forgot that she slept with one. And we were certainly not going to remind her. BONUS!

Now getting up in the morning, was another matter entirely. As soon as she woke up and realized that she was alone, she freaked out. Then, she eased herself into a state of crabbiness that did not waver until we got her some milk. Baby steps, as they say.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The view from here: April 2, 2008.

A view from here, April 2, 2008:  Dinnertime.

It's no secret that Lauren is not a good eater. Every night is a struggle to get her to eat. We coax. We bribe. And since science has yet to develop a way to force feed a child, we've even resorted to cheap gimmicks.

A view from here, April 2, 2008:  Dinner.

Note the Smiley fries.

If that isn't evidence that we really do try hard, I don't know what is. The vast majority of time, we feed her the same thing that we're having. Tonight, we had pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches, mixed vegetables and the Smiley fries. All fairly innocuous cuisine. But the sum total of what she actually ate amounted to 4 bites of a sandwich, 2 Smiley fries and a piece of carrot dipped in ketchup (And potentially a pea - I might have missed it). Yet, at the rate that she's growing, she's going to pass me in height any day now. And I was a good eater as a child, darn it! Life is so unfair sometimes.