Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

Sometimes life can be too safe. Yes, I am extremely happy that I live in a neighborhood, town, country, where things aren't blowing up on a regular basis and I don't feel like I or my family is going to be gunned down in the street. I am fortunate to have been born into the middle class in the United States. But having said that, maybe it is o.k. to let our kids superglue their fingers together on occasion or try that hard trick on the monkeybars or play in the drainage ditch. Those two thoughts may seem completely unconnected. What I am trying to say is that I am very happy that I live a life that has no random violence and very little real danger and since that is the case, maybe it is o.k. to let our kids experiment a little bit with life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I have a pretty pedestrian life. I work for the government. I have two little girls. I spend lots of time reading Dora books and pushing people on the swings. The other day after writing a post on my blog I looked at a couple of the blogs that are located near my blog on blogger. It was a dark thirty minutes of reading. After a blog focusing on dealing on a daily basis with a personal disease where your brain grows too big and squeezes out the bottom of your skull there was a family blog for a family whose two year old daughter is dying of a genetic nerve disease. Holy crap. Pedestrian ain't half bad.

This Is What My New Years Resolution Looks Like

This is what I see for thirty minutes (I also hear yelling, singing, and lots of talking).

This is what you would see. Sometimes they look happier. Especially when they are covered in chocolate donut.

Becoming a Cosmopolitan

Even before recent events in Haiti, I have been thinking about how to be a better global citizen. As we were driving to San Diego for New Years, Mitch and I heard an interesting interview on On Point where Tom Ashbrook interviewed this woman who recently made a documentary on philosophy and its relevance to modern life. The movie is called Examined Life and features interviews with a bunch of modern philosophers. It sounds like a very interesting movie and in one of the clips Kwame Anthony Apia was talking about what it means to be a good person, a good citizen, in the global age. He talks about how it is relatively easy to do right by your friends, your family, and even your local community, but what does it mean to be a good citizen when we are all connected now globally? Kwame terms this new form of community and citizenship cosmopolitanism.

Other things I have run into recently have reinforced the idea that trying to do right by ones fellow global citizens is a worthy, if complex, goal. Believe it or not there is a small diatribe on this concept in the Elliot Pattison mystery that I am currently reading. And last night while watching a documentary on Joe Strummer, Joe philosophizes on the idea that we are all running around in our own little worlds and not doing enough to support our fellow humans everywhere.

It is a bit overwhelming to contemplate when it is all I can do to get my teeth brushed every day and keep up with the flossing. But I also feel like I'm not being a very good parent if I'm not modeling for my kids how to be a humanitarian and how to make the rubber hit the road in terms of supporting people in need and not living on the backs of poorly paid laborers worldwide. Somehow buying fair trade goods seems like a good start but not enough. So while I can't say that I have actually accomplished a single act of Cosmopolitanism recently other than buying fair trade tea, hats, and jewelry for Christmas, I am starting my research - looking into gleaning locally, habitat for humanity building vacations, donations to Haiti, and more.

If I actually get anything done other than staring into my navel, I'll let you know. And if you have good ideas for things to do as a global citizen, you let me know.

It May Be Arbitrary, But A New Year Nonetheless

I like the turning over of a new year. If the previous year was crappy, it's a good chance to say "the hell with all that, this next year will be different." If the previous year was good, it's a great time to remember all of the grand adventures of the past year. I like burning things or having things be washed away in the sand or rain or snow on New Year's Eve. I like making collages of my hopes and dreams for the coming year. I like drinking champaign with friends, meditating on the past and picturing the future. And, of course, I like making lists.

Top Five of 2009:


1. Camping in Joshua Tree with Lucy, Mitch, Josie, Allie, Tom, Brian and Alba.
2. Cama Beach. Peter and Nathalie’s wedding, berry picking, swimming, shell collecting.
3. Mississippi. Tiffany and Jason, free range bacon, meeting their friends, seeing Clarksburg and other sites.
4. Disneyland! I don’t know how many times we went, maybe as many as seven or eight. 2009 was definitely the year of Disneyland and I loved every moment of it. Even waiting in line for the Princesses every time. Ray, Sandy, Becca, Rob, Rick, Sarah….
5. So many fantastic holidays – Christmas in Colorado, Turkey Day in the mountains, New Years Eve in San Diego. Good friends, good family, good times.


1. Working Together Against Weeds seminars at Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Olympic National Parks.
2. Finally getting the diversity ecosystem function paper resubmitted.
3. Giving so many academic seminars to promote research in the national parks all over California.
4. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium, two posters and two talks, and tons of fun.
5. Finally getting the Guide to the Invasive Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains written and published thanks to the major efforts of Irina Irvine.
6. The science strategy working group!

Aspirations for 2010:

1. Adopt a dog that will be happy and fit into our crazy family.
2. Re-do the back yard so it is pleasant to look at and functional.
3. Keep up the pilates and run more.
4. Get a group of friends and family to go on a short Mexico cruise out of Long Beach.
5. More camping!! Mount Pinos, the east side of the Sierra, the beach, and more.


1. Keep working on paper submissions – submitting and resubmitting until at least the three current papers are published.
2. G.A.D.J. I’ll explain that in 2011 (c.s.p.)
3. Get the weed management plan to the public comment phase.
4. Keep learning new things.
5. Get the carbon offset project done.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Remembering the Holiday Season 2009

The girls with Santa at the YMCA.

Lucy on her first time out on cross-country skis at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Look at that smile!

She tried to ski off into the sunset but I had to go get her when she got to the bottom of the hill. Look at how deep the snow is...

She did have a few falls but was still smiling. The next day she skied a 1/4 mile loop up on the mesa.

Bye Luce, see you back at the house...

Here we are at Santa and Mrs. Claus tiki hut at the Harbor. Note Lucy's cool fluffy pink boots - thrift store score!

The polar bears and their palm fronds helped us welcome in the new year in San Diego style!

We had a great Christmas season this year and I was too busy enjoying it to do any blogging. So here is what I can remember of this year's Christmas. This was the first year that Lucy understood Christmas well enough to be excited about Christmas long before it came. I have fond memories of all the buildup to Christmas from my childhood including advent calendars, cutting our tree, decorating the tree, and playing lots of I spy to find
Christmas ornaments on the tree.

This year Lucy and Josie shared an advent calendar from Trader Joe's. It includes a piece of chocolate for each day which they shared and were delighted with. We didn't go out and purchase or cut down a tree but instead re-used the small artificial tree that Grandma Jo brought out for last year's California Christmas. It fits in our tiny house perfectly and the girls loved decorating it.

Early in December Mitch went to San Diego with his brother Stu for a weekend. The girls and I baked Christmas cookies while he was gone including a Brigham classic, cookie press cookies. The cookie press cookies were their favorite because they involved SPRINKLES!! The first ones I let the girls decorate were solid sprinkles. They weren't a ton of help with the molasses or the rosemary lemon shortbreads because, you guessed it, they didn't involve sprinkles.

While Mitch was gone we also went the YMCA for breakfast with Santa. (pictured above) We brought unwrapped gifts for needy families and were treated to pancakes, bacon and orange juice with Santa. The girls loved it.

A couple weeks after Mitch came back, my brother arrived and we all went to the harbor for the parade of lights. We rode bikes down and Seth and Elise came too. The parade was hit or miss as usual but it was fun to be out at night and they had fake snow which Lucy and Josie loved.

Soon after it was off to Colorado for a blissful ten days of snow, snow, snow. We did lots of sledding, helped decorate the big, beautiful, real tree and ate way too many Christmas cookies. My brother was a perfect guest and did lots of cooking and niece-watching. It was great fun to have him with us for Christmas. The girls had a blast opening their presents and even got a second visit from Santa on Christmas Eve night. Lucy went cross-country skiing for the first time and she did great! I got to go for a half hour ski by myself in the quiet of the snow and had a great time.

After a lovely Christmas then we went to San Diego for New Years and had a great time visiting Caitlin, Tim, Tom, Allie and the bunny. The bunny that Caitlin and Tim were house sitting was a big hit with the girls. It is always great to visit the SD crowd - they are all so hospitable, fun to be around, and in general most excellent people. We went to the zoo twice this visit.

That about brings us up to date. Sorry that I am leaving out all the details like how we got the van stuck in the snow approx. 4 times (depending on how you count), seeing all of our cousins and Aunt Judy and Uncle Jerry, and on and on. Maybe I'll remember to write during Christmas next year, but I doubt it.