Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Underappreciated animals: I

The ʻIʻiwi or Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper (Vestiaria coccinea) is a Hawaiian "hummingbird-niched" species, of the Hawaiian honeycreepers, subfamily, Drepanidinae, and the only member of the genus Vestiaria. It is one of the most plentiful species of this family, many of which are endangered or extinct. The ʻiʻiwi is a highly recognizable symbol of Hawaiʻi.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Birchbox March 2012

I'm a new Birchbox member and I just got my first delivery! I think this beauty sample service is the BEST idea ever!  For $10 a month, I will receive a selection of beauty samples from a variety of brands.  So far -- LOVE it! 

 The items come in a sturdy cardboard box. It's nice enough to use again for crafts or storage, I say.
 A handy guide explains the items inside.
 Wrapped with a ribbon and pink tissue paper -- a nice touch.
 Wish the Stila eyeshadow sample was in a container, instead of a card, but I'll still enjoy trying it out :)
 I've tried this perfume and I like it! It has a spray dispenser, not just a cap.
 Cute pink polish!
 The whole package.
 Bottom line: I can't wait to get my next Birchbox!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The agony and the ecstasy...

For all you parents of high school seniors out there — I feel your pain.
We are all going through our own version of March Madness: the agony of waiting for college admission letters.
This is the month that most of our students will get the coveted big envelope or the dreaded little envelope in the mail. I don’t have to tell you which one is better.
Our seniors spent hours writing those essays, gathering letters of recommendation, transcripts, writing “resumes,” adding up SAT and ACT scores, and making lists of any achievements, big or small.
We parents spent God-knows-how-much on application fees. We spent yet more money to send those SAT or ACT scores on to those colleges. We Fed-Ex’d or sent their applications through registered mail. And then we sat back. And waited. And then waited some more.
It’s pure torture. We parents have been planning their lives for 18 years. We are attempting to plan their next four years. We cannot do that if we don’t get the “Yea” or “Nay” that we’re waiting for.
At our house, my husband haunts the mailbox. I’m sure the mailman is starting to wonder exactly what kind of “special delivery” he is anxiously looking for.
He also monitors email for the moment any college replies with any kind of news. Note to “Large University”: We don’t care about your graduation speaker, new symposium or your dining commons menu. Just tell us if she’s in or not.
Meanwhile, we try to keep our 12th-graders from coming down with Senioritis. Many of our seniors have mentally already moved on to visions of graduation parties, senior trips or getting the heck out of Dodge/Napa. They are so over anything to do with parents, sisters and making their beds. Unfortunately, the vaccine for this illness is only available after graduation day.
I thought once the applications were done, we’d have a break from college. What I didn’t know was that once you’re done with college applications, you pretty much move right on to scholarship applications. Unless you have a rich uncle or a trust fund, scholarships are a must.
They require more transcripts, more letters of recommendation and more essays. Some scholarships seem like an obvious fit. Others may not be. Our daughter reluctantly applied for one scholarship from an Italian social group.
We’re not Italian, she said.
I was one step ahead of her. I’d already asked Grandpa Bob to dig into his genealogy files. I had the facts.
Yes, you are, I said. Your great-great-grandfather Dominic Roulleri, who came to the U.S. in the mid-1800s, was born in Genoa, Italy. That counts.
But I don’t know what to write about being Italian, she said. I don’t speak Italian. I took French.
Use your imagination, I said. Think of what it must have been like for him coming to the U.S. with no family and no job.
He was a printer, I said. Maybe he wanted to be an animator like you.
She looked skeptical.
They didn’t have animators back then, Mom, she said.
Just apply, I said.
Who knows, maybe Walt Disney was 1/16 Italian too.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Luck o the Irish

Aren't these the cutest cookie ever???
They come from ABC Bakery and Cafe in downtown Napa. Delicious, wonderful shortbread. Sometimes they even dip them in chocolate! Die.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Under appreciated animals: H


A hyrax is any species of fairly small, thickset, herbivorous mammals in the order Hyracoidea. The rock hyrax Procavia capensis, the yellow-spotted rock hyrax Heterohyrax brucei, the western tree hyrax Dendrohyrax dorsalis, and the southern tree hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus live in Africa and the Middle East.
Hyraxes are well-furred, rotund creatures with short tails. Most measure between 30 and 70 cm long and weigh between 2 and 5 kg.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Under appreciated animals: G

Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae. Gibbons occur in tropical and subtropical rainforests from northeast India to Indonesia and north to southern China, including the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Under appreciated animals: F

The Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes), also known as the American polecat or Prairie Dog Hunter, is a species of Mustelid native to central North America. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN, because of its very small and restricted populations.

A good long read.

This is what being a parent of a tween and two teens can reduce a person to: Picture a mom with arms flailing about, hair standing on end, eyes bouncing wildly and teeth clenched. She could very well be sputtering, or perhaps growling a little bit like a cornered animal.
Handling our first teen wasn’t so bad. But when teen No. 2 came on the scene, and No. 3 turned into a tween, that’s when things went haywire. I realized I needed some advice. I needed to know I was not alone. I needed some backup, and fast, so I got myself down to the library.
Searching “teen parenting” in the library catalog, I came up with a nice long list of books to choose from. This is perfect, I said. Within this list, surely I will find The Way — the way to survive life with three teenagers.
Here’s a selection:
“Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress.”
Go inside the teenage brain? Does the author think I have a death wish? I can only imagine what kind of synapse shootout or drunken-hormone, mood-altering dance party is going on inside our teens’ brains. If I go in, I might never get out.
“Grow the Tree You Got & 99 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Adolescents and Teenagers.”
Oh, these teenagers are amazing, all right — amazingly ridiculous. And that part about “growing” a “tree” — would the book include tips on how to prune those pesky teenage “branches” that are out of control, snaring everyone within their reach?
This one sounded really good: “Have a New Teenager by Friday: From Mouthy and Moody to Respectful and Responsible in 5 Days.”
This reminds me of a parenting trend from the 1990s. You could supposedly potty-train your child using this intensive three-day method of following your diaper-free kid around the house with a portable potty. It was messy but effective. I assume this five-day method for a “new” teenager would be equally messy. But would it be effective?
“I’d Listen to My Parents if They’d Just Shut Up: What to Say and Not Say When Parenting Teens.”
Hmmmm. Is there a companion piece called “I’d Love It if My Teen Would Just Zip It”?
Here’s another: “You Can’t Scare Me — I Have a Teenager: A Parent’s Basic Survival Guide.”
Oh, I’m already scared — scared I won’t survive the three versions of teenagers currently roosting in our house. Does this “survival guide” include emergency protection for mood swings, hysterics and manic meltdowns?
Other titles included “What Do You Expect? She’s A Teenager!: A Hope and Happiness Guide for Moms With Daughters,” “Yes, Your Teen is Crazy,” and “The Agony and the Agony: Raising a Teenager Without Losing Your Mind.”
And then there was this one:
“Protecting Your Teen From Today’s Witchcraft: A Parent’s Guide to Confronting Wicca and the Occult.”
Finally! A teen problem I haven’t experienced yet.
I think I’ll start with that one.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Under appreciated animals: E

Eurycea is a genus of salamanders, native to North America. These salamanders are commonly referred to as brook salamanders.