Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm Not Horsing Around

Every Thursday, I take our middle monkey girl to her writing class out in the country.  The two youngest monkeys join us on the journey.  Little Monkey loves to explore outside while his monkey sister and I do math facts, diagram sentences, read about the social habits of bees, and all kinds of other second grade stuff.

I love watching that little person build imaginary camp fires and talk to imaginary friends.  He calls our van the "camper bus" and invites us to "roast marshmallows" with him.

Last Thursday, Little Monkey had a horsey friend visit his campsite.  Little Monkey offered Horsey Boy some marshmallows and they had quite a long conversation.

 I am not quite sure what they said to each other, but it looked serious.

Then, Little Monkey told me that we needed to make room in the camper bus for Horsey Boy.  He said that horse was coming home with us.  They had it all worked out.  We would keep Horsey Boy in the backyard during the day and in his room at night.  He would build a fence so that horse would not eat his toys.  He would feed him carrots.

It took some convincing and consoling before Little Monkey realized that horses live at farms, not houses and that they do not ride in vans.

Then being the clever monkey that he is, Little Monkey decided that if he could not bring Horsey Boy home, he would bring Brown Dog home instead.  And thus ensued another session of convincing and consoling.  Ahh, life with monkeys...



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Love is in the Air...

Ahh...February has been a very productive month in the love department.  Cupid was on his game for sure. The air was filled with the aroma of amore.  Kissy, kissy, smoochy, smoochy!!!

Not just one, but TWO of my siblings got engaged this month!  TWO!!!

We couldn't be happier for my sweet sister Wendy and her hunky fiancé Anthony...

He proposed to her in a love poem
and my dear brother Dennis and his gorgeous fiancé Vanessa.

He proposed to her under a starry sky at sea.
Photo credit:  Lisbet Photography

They are all such wonderful people who love their families so much.  We are blessed to have a new brother and sister join our big brood.  It's fun when your family grows.

So now, let the festivities and planning begin!  The first order of business is an engagement party! I can't wait to honor and celebrate them!

Congratulations you sweethearts!



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crash Test Monkeys

Pete is a sound designer and composer.  He has worked on some amazing projects over the years.  If you have watched Braveheart you have heard his work.  He would never tell you this, but he won an Academy Award for the sound design in that movie.  Next time you watch it, listen to the battle scenes, those hacks, wacks and other battle goodies were his design.

The magic wind that you hear in Pocahontas?  That's Pete too.  The Monday Night Football game music in Jerry Maguire?  Pete.

Oh, and if you ride Spiderman, Transformers, The Simpsons, The Mummy, or Despicable Me at Universal Studios in Hollywood, Orlando, Singapore, or Japan, you have heard Pete's audio and/or music design.

He has also created tons of music and sound effects for many of EA Sports video games in the past decade.

I think he is pretty much the bomb, but I have a huge crush on him so I am a wee bit biased.

One of the most recent projects that Pete is working on is really unique.  I love it because it involves monkeys.  And as you have probably gathered by reading this blog, I love me some monkeys!

Pete is collaborating with Ken Keys and Ryan McBride of Ludricrous Games on the very soon to be released iPhone game, Crash Test Monkeys.  He has been creating lots of zany, crazy sounds and super groovy music for this game.  The visuals are so clever and really captivating.  I am not a gamer, but I found Crash Test Monkeys to be really addictive in a good way.  It is challenging and it makes you want to work to see that next level. Watch out!  The music is catchy!

Here is a sneak peek at the game:

Pete did not have to look or rather, listen too far for inspiration.  We have our own crashing monkeys around here on a daily basis.

Like these here...

Vintage photo of our older monkeys in Japan
And this one...

Sad little monkey

Little Monkey boy's recent wipe out = no fun!

Crash Test Monkeys for iPhone = so much fun!!!!



Sunday, February 24, 2013

Layered Like an Onion

Something about turning a certain decade this year has me very reflective.  Actually, truth be told, I am naturally very reflective, retrospective.  I like to think on the past.  Take it back to the old school.  Learn the lessons from whence I came. And all that jazz.

I believe that we are much like onions (I wish there was another food to use here because onions are awful, detestable creatures in my opinion).  The point is, we have layers of life that shape us and make us who we are.  Who I was yesterday shapes who I am today, and who am today shapes who I will be tomorrow.  Layers of life experiences, moments, seasons, and people all building and overlapping.  And here I am.  Here you are.  Who are you?  What have those layers done to you, for you?

I am still very much in process.  New layers are are forming daily.  I know that I will be continually changing and influencing change until the day I breath that last blast of oxygen.  The old, vintage layers will always be there.  They are the foundation for the newest additions and all the future ones.  God willing.

Honestly speaking, I do not care for some of those vintage layers of childhood.  They are ill-fitting to me.  As my mind wanders to some of those memories, it wants to run away, pull the covers over and hide.  Taunting voices are there in those archives.  The heckles of adolescent tongues.  Punches to the pride.  Harpoons to the heart.

"did your mom dress you today?"

"lice head"


"don't pick her"

"just wait until after school"

"oops, did you trip?"

I find myself desperate to peel those layers away.  Then I stop, reflect and realize that those are the moments, words, and people that played a part in shaping my life to present.  The bullying that broke me also made me humble, compassionate, and sensitive.  Would I have become who I am today and will I be who I am tomorrow if I had not lived those moments of life?  Maybe, maybe not.  I will just leave those layers.  They may come in handy.

What was the catalyst for this post?

Two things.

First, my daughter was bullied yesterday on a playground. At first it made my blood boil, then I found a sudden peace settle over me.  Those "mean girls" who bullied her are someone's babies.  They have layers already at tender ages and stages.  What do those layers look like?  Is there a problem or a world of hurt that is causing a backlash of words and actions?  I could only speculate.  My job was to look my girl in the eye and tell her heart that she did nothing to deserve that kind of treatment and that she is safe and loved.  I hope that added a special layer to her life and helped with that sting.

Second, this amazing video...

The To This Day Project by Shane Koyczan got me thinking.  I hope it gets you thinking too.



P.S.  Children's book author,  Kathryn Otoshi,  has written a wonderful book about bullying titled, One.  It is a favorite of our younger monkeys.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Little Monkey Has a Crush...

We had a family movie night tonight.  The Sound of Music was a big hit with the monkeys.  Littlest monkey professed his love for Julie Andrews.  He thinks that she is beautiful. The girls smiled from ear to ear with each song.  And I may or may not have sang along with every song (which may have been why they were smiling and laughing).

We had some yummy snacks too.  

Homemade fig, prosciutto, and arugula flatbread.  Fresh tomato and basil flatbread.

 Caprese Salad with fresh basil (thank you Rikki).

There was also a request for potato chips and pickle relish.  Hmm...

Great food, good times, precious people.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bistro La Promenade

Food so good it will make you cry.  Yes, that is exactly how I would sum up the culinary fare at Bistro La Promenade.  Want to learn more?  Please read on...

Last weekend, Pete and I had a little date in New York City.  We had been given a recommendation to try Bistro La Promenade.

The chef, Alain Allegretti and his staff are nothing shy of miracle workers in the kitchen.  Here is what we enjoyed:

Delicate mushroom-stuffed ravioli that would make a mushroom lover out of any naysayer.

Scallops so succulent that they should be illegal.  Not to mention the basil mashed potatoes and heirloom tomatoes that were accomplices to those scandalous scallops.

The Saturday Chef's Special Short Ribs were the show stoppers of the evening.  Pete ordered this and I kept trying to distract him so that I could "borrow" a few bites.  That beef was like butter!

Photo credit:

There are no words to describe the Zucchini Pound Cake with Olive Oil Gelato and Pine Nut Brittle.  Words are useless.

Photo credit:

But even with all of that amazing food to warm us on such a chilly (and super windy) New York night, we were most impressed with the lovely people (thank you, Bruno and Sarolta) who work so hard to make Bistro La Promenade a warm and inviting place to dine.  From the moment we walked in the door, we felt welcome.  Hospitality is in high order at this bistro.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Little Monkey Has a Banana Split

One day (last Friday to be exact), a little monkey boy that I know was running through the jungles and train yards (a.k.a. the playroom) when he suddenly slipped on an imaginary banana peel, tumbled, and rumbled face first with his sister's doll house.  I am sorry to say that the doll house won and Little Monkey ended up in the ER with a banana slip, split lip.  Boo!!!

***Warning, the following pictures are kind of gross and really sad.  But, the story has a happy ending, I promise.

Little Monkey's lip split was considered complex, meaning that it went above the wet lip into the white skin above, and to minimize scarring he needed a plastic surgeon to fix it.

Little monkey lip before cleaning.

Sad little monkey with a bandaid mustache.

The nurses at the ER fixed him right up and made him an appointment for lip surgery the next day. Oh, they also gave him a really super cool monster truck for being such a brave little monkey.

The next day, Little Monkey had to be at the hospital early in the morning. He was very sleepy, but curious about all the gizmos and gadgets in the surgery room.

We were prepared for much crying and such, but he never made a sound or a squeak or a even so much as a peep.  Even when the doctor injected the numbing medicine into his cut lip.  WHAT?!?

The doctor said that he was a model monkey patient.

He is now the proud owner of 5 lip sutures (such a monkey boy!).

He has also decided to take a break from monkeying around for the next few days (or hours) and has taken up animal husbandry.

As evidenced in the last picture, I am happy to report that The Little Monkey's lips are still working well.  Yep, he is still able to eat, drink, smile, and kiss random woodland animals. 



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hairy Love

Expressions of love come in many forms.

There's sparkly love - diamonds!

There's tasty love - chocolate!

There's smelly love...uh, no...that doesn't sound quite right.  There's aromatic love - flowers!

And there's hairy love - okay, before you stop reading and think that I am crazy, please let me explain. 

Locks of Love is a very special organization that provides hair pieces to children in need.  

Our middle monkey girl has been growing her hair out for the past few years.  This past week she decided to donate ten inches of her lovely tresses to Locks of Love.  We are really proud of her!  She is so excited to think that her hair will go to help a child somewhere out there. 

Here are some before, during and after pictures:

Yep, there you have it!  Some good old fashioned hairy love!