Author Archives: Gretchen

Welcome to the Middle Ages

Happy Birthday to Michael, who hits the big 3-5 today.

I for one am so happy to have such a creative, intellectual, musical, caring and funny partner through life.

Give Mike a shout out today. It may help him resist the slippery slope into the middle age depression.

I love you babe.

Save the Date

So you’ve seen Mike’s posts about The Lord’s Prayer, and his piece, Our Father Vindicate,  now come hear it live.

From the APU School of Music Calendar:

Jan.22, 2010 Friday: “The Lord’s Prayer” Festival Concert; Stamps Rotunda (Darling Library), 7:30 pm

Men’s Chorale, Chamber Singers, and Alumni Orchestra

Alex Russell, violin    Duane Funderburk, piano

“Enjoy an evening of music dedicated to the most famous prayer in Christendom, featuring new music composed by Professors Phil Shackleton and Michael Lee, as well as new music by contemporary composer Alf Bishai (NYU). ”

I say we make it an event and go out for dinner, celebration afterwards. Whose in?

Minnie Me?

Overheard in the car this morning:

Sophia (on her “cell” phone): “Ugh! I can’t believe it!”
Us: “What’s the matter Soph?”
S: “They want me to come down and go to that doctor’s appointment. But that’s not my job! I’m not a Doctor, I’m an ARTIST, people!”

Priceless. Thought it’d give you a chuckle.
What are some of your favorite overheards? Need not be kid related.

He said what?

Overheard this morning: “We have too many ‘i’ things (iphone, ipod, imac…)” *gasp* Did he really just say that? Is it even possible?


So, I have to say that today I am thankful. I often sit in our little rental feeling pretty down about it. Wishing for a home of my own. But today, God sent So Cal rain. Torrential rain. (Yes, even for WA standards). And when this happened:


I have to say I was thankful to get to phone up our landlord and make it his problem. Ah the benefits (for now) of not being the home owner. ;)

Victory Song?

President Elect

President Elect

“Baaaaa-rack! Ohhhh-bama! Barackobamarackamaba, Baaaa-rack! O-bama, ooooh-bama!” was sung over and over again by Sophia, age 3 as we shopped in Target today. “Honey, do you know who you’re singing about?” I asked her. “No, not really, but I like to say it, it sounds fun.” Nice. You listen to a little NPR while on errands, you change a little history for the country, you get a little fun song. Again I say, nice.

Whether you voted for him or not, I think I can say this is a “well done” step for our country’s history as a whole. I’m excited for the world (to a degree) that my kids are heading into. One where this sort of thing isn’t out of the norm.

A Year Ago Today…

A year ago today I was in a lot of pain. I looked and felt as though I had been run over by a truck. I was hooked up to I-Vs and drugs, my husband by my bedside to wake me out of my anesthesia and hold my hand. And I was completely joyful. Because there was also this little clear glass basket by my bed that held our son, Josiah Michael Lee, just hours old and sleeping peacefully. We were now the parents of two.

Now, a year later, my little guy is literally trying to run around the house after his sister, climb anything that is going to get him a little bit higher, and eat anything available, even when that means having to find it himself somewhere off the kitchen floor.

It is amazing to think back on this last year and how much our family has grown and changed. The joy we have felt to be parents two times over, the frustrations we have faced while trying to  parent those two, the laughter shared as Sophia entertains us and Josiah reacts to his favorite big sister and the wonder of “what’s next?”. And we’re just getting started.

I know it’s cliche, but I imagine a lot of the parent readers out there can attest to the fact that time flies fast. I am trying to hang on to these fleeting moments now, knowing they will be gone too fast. And at the same time, remind myself during the wakeful nights, tantrums and “neediness” that this is just a stage. I am excited to watch both Sophia and Josiah daily learn new things, show us their personalities and become amazing little people.

It is a year later, and I am blessed by something I never thought would happen for Mike and I. I am blessed and thankful. Happy Birthday my sweet one year old!

House Hunting

So Mike and I are hopefully on the brink of being able to purchase our first home. We’re pretty excited about the current market (as we don’t have to sell our current home before buying the next) and have enjoyed watching our money become worth more and more house. However, the one we’re looking at now, is a little out of our price range. Anyone interested in going in with us? And by anyone, I think I probably need to include the entire reading audience of Addison Road.

Ooh-ooh, Me Too!

1. I get intimidated by other people’s lists, because I don’t feel interesting enough.
2. I obviously care what other people think about me.
3. I tend to be a people pleaser.
4. I have 10 nieces and nephews and they’re still coming.
5. I don’t really care about politics until they start affecting me personally.
6. I like being able to do a lot of things well, but feel inadequate when I think I should be a “master” of at least one of them.
7. I love hospitality and entertaining, but sometimes I like the idea more than the reality.
8. I began to love teatime when my mom would have it set out for me when I got home from school. It was a special treat when she’d bring out my grandmother’s china patterns.
9. I’ve always been girly.
10. I loved dressing up when I was little and pretending. I still do.
11. I didn’t like red wine or fish until I met Mike.
12. I love reading for pleasure. I find non-fiction interesting, but would much rather lose myself in a great fictional work.
13. I was scared that I’d been caught as a fraud when a parent asked me my “professional opinion” on my first day of teaching.
14. I thought my ideal man would be a lot like my dad and work a nine to five job. I’m so glad I married someone who is creative and able to have a flexible schedule to fit our family and its’ needs.
15. My brother taught me how to do laundry, cook spaghetti and change the tires on my truck. That’s all he thought I’d really need in life.
16. I have always been in awe of my brother’s call to the mission field. I can honestly say that I do not have this calling. The only time I came close was when I was visiting him in Tanzania and I walked by a run down school where 200 village children were playing and hanging out, not in school because the 3 teachers had decided not to show up that day. I had a strong urger to “save” each one of them.
17. A pastor in Nzega, Tanzania prayed the blessing of 10 children over me. Oh dear.
18. My most memorable singing experience was when I was the “guest choir” at the Majahida church in Bariadi, Tanzania and got to sing Amazing Grace while the packed church of men and women sang along with me in Swahili. After, they gave me a shrill and wonderful trilling, a sound better than any applause.
19. Going to Africa reminded me of how big and awesome God is.
20. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and for about 3 years thought that God had played a cruel joke on me by giving me a desire that I would never experience.
21. I truly smile every day because of my daughter Sophia and my husband Michael.
22. My mother in law called me different names every time she saw me for the first few months while Mike and I dated. I was offended at first, but then I learned she introduced my father-in-law to her parents by the wrong name too.
23. I used to wear my sister’s clothes to school and put them back in her drawer before she got home, thinking she’d never know. I was in elementary school and probably had B.O.
24. I started helping my mom do flowers for weddings when I was 8 years old. I got to clean flowers and wire roses for boutonnieres and corsages. I loved it.
25. Starting my own business has been one of the scariest and fulfilling things I’ve done in a while. I now believe Mike when he says “you are what you call yourself”
26. I tend to exaggerate my stories to make myself sound better than I am.
27. When I took the career test in High School my number one job suggestion was a funeral home director. Number 2 was Physical Therapist and number 3 was teacher. I tried number 2 until I flunked out of college chemistry and am pretty pleased with how number 3 is working out.
28. I broke my arm in the third grade doing the dead man’s drop on the bars at recess. The next day my mom broke her ankle and leg while on our tide pool field trip. My dad came home from a business trip the following day and wondered what had happened to his family.
29. Ferrets give me hives.
30. I swam the IM and 100 backstroke in High School. I was in really good shape back then.
31. I used to pretend to be Mary Lou Retton on my bars in my backyard.
32. I took ballet for two years and had 4 different teachers while in the same company. The first two actually died, and I can’t remember what happened to the third one, but I quit because I was scared that all ballerinas died.
33. I took 2 years of gymnastics and a year of jazz.
34. I can’t dance.
35. My dad took my sister Heather and I to the Nutcracker every year when we were little in matching Christmas dresses that my mom had made for us. I would dance all the way down the theatre stairs and dream of becoming one of the Sugar Plum fairies.
36. I am the youngest of four. I was definitely more privileged than my siblings, but I don’t think I was spoiled. They would probably disagree.
37. I was five when my oldest sister left for college.
38. I’m envious of my sisters’ homes, but I’m not envious of the fact that they are in League City, Texas and Ferndale, Washington.
39. My favorite place in the world is reading on the deck of my parent’s cabin in Santa Cruz, CA.
40. I almost drowned when I was a Sophomore in High School. We were in Snelling, CA gigging for frogs in a small boat at midnight and it capsized.
41. I give great backrubs.
42. The first professional massage I every received was by a really creepy hairy guy who breathed way too loudly. I thought I was supposed to match my breathing with his, and almost passed out.
43. The most fun I’ve had in acting was playing one of 8 personalities in “The Outer Chair” by our own Carrie Reisser. She wrote a play about one of her mom’s clients with multiple personality disorder that we later tried to make into a film.
44. I loved playing “M’Lynn Eatenton” in Steel Magnolias, but could never get Sally Fields incredible funeral scene out of my head to make it my own.
45. I doubt myself often.
46. I am better at things then I usually give myself credit for. And that was kind of hard to say.
47. My favorite car was my cream 1989 Volvo sedan.
48. My first car was nicknamed “the Little Blue Poop”. Yeah, I wasn’t much into swearing in High School either. It was a royal blue Toyota Tercel hatchback, handed down to me by my brother after it had gone through 5 other college students.
49. I love singing full voice in the car, but can’t do it in front of people.
50. I’m a fan of Sudoku.
51. My beloved Volvo stalled while I was on the Bay Bridge, scaring the crap out of me. I started and stalled it, started and stalled it all the way to the first exit and coasted down the off ramp.
52. Aly broke the key in the lock of the same Volvo at 2 am at a rest stop on the 5 freeway while on a ladies’ weekend road trip to the cabin. Luckily we were able to stay warm in the car while the locksmith came, and read and analyzed the first Valentine’s poem Michael had written me that very day. I remember he used the word “diurnal”.
53. The electricity went out during the pictures before our wedding because of a fire two blocks away. They came back on when Mike strolled into the sanctuary an hour later for the guys’ shots. He bowed when everyone started cheering.
54. We had a sit down tea reception for 350. Each place had a china teacup, silver pattern, and complete tea foods- chocolate dipped strawberries, tea sandwiches, and the 3,000 cookies my mother in law had handmade.
55. I like details.
56. I lived in the same house my entire childhood.
57. I was in my first fight in the 7th grade, with a boy, in the hallway after school. I actually made contact with his jaw before a bunch of 9th grade boys stood up for me, telling him he shouldn’t hit girls. I “won” because I showed up to school the next day and he didn’t.
58. I had a piano recital that same night. My mom told everyone my scratch on my cheek and black eye was from the cat.
59. I chose to take German in Jr. High because I heard the teacher didn’t assign homework for the first semester. 5 years of German and I probably couldn’t ask for the bathroom in Germany. German has done me no good as a teacher in Los Angeles.
60. I grew up with family game night. When I helped my parents move last week, I filled 5 large boxes with board games and cards from the past 30 years. We had a lot of games. I still love playing games. Settlers of Catan anyone?
61. I can quote the entire Anne of Green Gables movie.
62. I usually like the books better than the movies made from them.
63. My dad read the entire Narnia series with me in the 4th grade. It was my bedtime ritual and I loved it.
64. My middle name is Leigh. That’s right. Gretchen Leigh Lee.
65. Almost every Christmas my dad would write a scavenger hunt in poem form for my sister Heather and I. The gift at the end was always identical (all needing to be fair between us) and usually rocked big time; new dorm size stereos, tickets to Phantom, furniture. Yeah, my parent’s gave us furniture.
66. I got an antique hutch for my 16th birthday. It now holds our television in our living room.
67. I love the theatre, musical or drama. I love to lose myself in the story, see the incredible sets and costumes and be placed in a new setting for a couple of hours.
68. I’ve always wanted to be a better actress than I am.
69. When I was little, I would act out the entire Annie movie while listening to the sound track on the record we had. I had all the parts memorized. My favorite scene was hanging off of the bookcase or fireplace mantel as my drawbridge calling out to Punjab to save me from certain death.
70. I’m six years younger than my next sibling. I spent a lot of time playing by myself.
71. My music repertoire and listening enjoyment have increased ten fold since meeting my husband and APU friends. For this I am grateful.
72. We were not allowed to date until we were 16, (group dates aside). My first date was with my dad for my 16th birthday. He took me to dinner and a play, and talked to me about what I should expect from guys, and the right way they should treat me. I love that man. I didn’t listen to his advice though, until I met my husband.
73. Mike was an incredibly creative dater when we were going out in college. One of my favorite dates was when we talked about our ideal home and drew out the plans. He then “gave” me $50,000 in which to fill it. We “shopped” Colorado Blvd. in Old Town Pasadena, going to Z Gallery, Restoration Hardware etc. and wrote down everything we would buy for our house. Then over dessert, he drew a small box shaped apartment and wrote $50 at the top. “Okay, this is more of the reality for a while” he told me. I was okay with that.
74. A cop almost ruined our engagement night. Aly almost assaulted said cop.
75. My mom would buy pomegranates and coconuts as a just for fun food. I still get them every once in a while, just for fun.
76. My dad makes the best popcorn. On top of the stove style.
77. I get frightened when someone is right behind me on the staircase while going up. My brother used to grab my ankles and trip me as I would run up the stairs. It probably has something to do with that.
78. My paternal great grandmother lived to be 106. Her son, my grandpa was 98 when he died, even though he had brandy in his coffee every morning and took his liver pills with a beer. We have longevity in our genes.
79. My parents have been married for 45 years. My in-laws for 30+ years. Mike and I have a lot of great examples of married people in our life. This is a truly a gift.
80. I’m becoming more like my mom as I get older, and I’m realizing that it isn’t as scary as I thought it would be.
81. I loved watching the Smurfs when I was little. My friend and I drew the entire Smurf village (mushroom houses and all) on her driveway with sidewalk chalk one long Saturday afternoon. I always thought it must be great to be Smurfette. 99 to 1, not bad odds.
82. I was a big flirt in High School and College.
83. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 16.
84. Australian Rules football is an incredibly rigorous and athletic game. The players make our football pros look like wimps. I got to see a game live in Melbourne on Anzac Day. It was sweet.
85. I met my best friend when I was 2 years old. She is always a sunny spot in my life.
86. I quit taking swimming lessons because I was scared to go under water. My brother Scott spent the rest of the summer teaching me. We pretended to be fish and frogs. Yeah, he’s a cool brother.
87. My mom got shingles and Bels Palsy in 2001. It paralyzed the left side of her face and basically wiped her out. It was a jolting wake up call to me, that my parents are getting older, and that one day I’ll need to care for them, and they won’t always be there. I don’t like that thought.
88. When I turned 21 my dad had me go out and buy him a 6 pack of beer. I thought that was so cool.
89. I drank one of my dad’s ales when I was six years old. I poured the rest out and went and told him that his ginger ale had gone bad.
90. I’m a sucker for a White Russian.
91. Mike and I started our marriage with absolutely no college debt. This is a huge testimony as to how hard our parents work. What a tremendous gift they gave us.
92. I express my guilt and anxiety through my dreams. I usually wake up feeling guilty about what I dreamt. Viscous cycle.
93. I talk in my sleep.
94. My husband and I are going on our first real vacation together this summer since our honeymoon. Yet we’ll still be with 45 other people. Still, I’m stoked.
95. I have a first grade vocabulary. After teaching 1st and 2nd grade for 7 years and having to simplify my language to be understood, I find that I no longer have the “big words” to speak with adults. I have a hard time proving that I actually have a Masters Degree.
96. My friends and I would play a game called “Madame” where we each had a role, the Madame, the cook (the best job), the nanny and the maid. The best part of our role-play, was that “Richard the Rapist” would always call to say he was coming over. Yeah, at 7 and 8 we had no idea what a rapist was. And why on earth would he call first?
97. My maternal great grandfather spoke 56 different languages and dialects. He escaped the great San Francisco earth quake and fire with my great grandmother and grandfather on a horse and cart with all of their possessions in one trunk (which we still have). He received a medal of honor from the Mayor of San Francisco for his help in interpreting at the evacuation centers for the next 4 days. He was also a phrenologist. He read the bumps on many famous heads, including the Duke of Amsterdam. We still have 3 human skulls from his collection. Eew.
98. I can remember the words of a song after hearing it once.
99. I love to be outside.
100. After writing this whole list, I have to revert back to number 1 and worry that no body really wanted to read this whole thing. I was fun doing it though.

The End of Childhood

I may be 30 something. I may be a wife and mother. I may have graduated from college, graduate school and have my own business, but just this last week I had to face the end of childhood.

After almost 40 years, my parents are selling their house. My childhood home. The only home I ever knew until leaving for college and starting out on my own. It’s the home where all my memories are from. The place where I brought friends home from school, so we could play dress up in the playhouse in the backyard. It was the place I first learned how to ride a bike, roller skate and put on makeup. It was where I learned that matches hurt if you let them burn down too low, that crayons melt in the heater vents on the floor, that you can slide all the way down the steps on your stomach to save time if you don’t feel like walking. This is where I helped my dad almost build a doll house. This is where I cried over my first crush, where I got ready for my first dance, carved pumpkins, learned to cook and had slumber parties. This is where I learned to drive, had a curfew and late night talks with boys. This is where I proudly brought friends home from choir tours so they could have a restful night at “home” and hot fudge sundaes. This is where Mike nervously asked my dad for my hand in marriage and where I spent my last night before becoming his wife. It is home.

Weiss House

But this period of my life and that of my parent’s life has come to an end. And it’s okay. Actually I was in the party that encouraged them to do so. It’s not as if my parents are settling for anything less than what they’ve known. They have an incredibly gorgeous home in Northern Washington on 10 beautiful acres, complete with 3 ponds, a horse pasture, wine in the making and a forest to get lost in. A grandkids’ paradise. Oh yeah, and a new playhouse that kicks the old playhouse’s butt.

But this past week I’ve been nostalgic. I came up to the Bay Area for the week with Sophia, to help my parents pack. Now, many of you readers have actually been to my parent’s home in Oakland and know that this is no small task. As I have said, my parents have lived there for almost 40 years. My parents, especially my mom, are what you call “collectors”. They have incredible antiques, and more collections than one can count, or would even want to. My mom is an entertainer, and has all the dishes, service wear, linens, and centerpieces to go along with it. This past week has been exhausting, but gratifying. I accomplished a lot. I got to go through memories. I got to throw things away! (Something I’ve always secretly wanted to do ☺) It’s been an emotional time for my parents, who are not only moving their lives, but having to make difficult financial decisions along the way as well. It’s hard to have painters, realtors, stagers and more come in and tell you all the ways that your house is imperfect or not quite right for the cliental who will want to buy it. It slowly starts becoming a building and less and less your home. It slowly starts becoming some one else’s home, even though you don’t know who that might be yet. And that feels weird.

Then there are all those projects that are finally being done, that you just never had the time or money for. Now you get to see them through, for someone else. Oh well.

Having Sophia with me was great. True, she could unpack a box just as quickly as I could pack it. But man, my parent’s house was a paradise for a curious 20 month old. She had a great time exploring. It helped rejuvenate my mom and dad to have her around. Nothing like taking a break from hauling boxes to zerbert a little tummy or help color the boxes in the living room with crayons. I loved watching her explore my old toys, my old haunts. I loved bathing her in the same great bath tub that I used to sit in with my sister Heather as our dad would sit at the doorway singing old 20s songs on his ukelele. I laughed as she discovered the joy of dropping coins through the slots in the railing up stairs just to watch them land on the steps below. I loved watching her climb up on the big couches and chairs and just sit and look at her books while the hustle and bustle went on around her.

I needed this time. I needed to let go, to say goodbye. I needed a chance to sort through life, memories and unnecessary necessities. In saying goodbye I could be excited for what is ahead for my mom and dad, and for my own kids. I’m glad I could have this week with Sophia here in my childhood home, even if I’ll be the only one with the memory of it. I’m excited that she and peanut 2 will have new memories in Washington, of adventure and family. I know that home is where my family is, not just this structure. I love that my family has become more than my mom, dad and siblings. I love that Mike and I have a chance to one day have our own home to help build memories in. That my own children will have to go through all my junk and ask me why I kept it all. I’m excited for all the life there is ahead of us. I can let go of the past 30 years without losing any of the memories. I don’t need the building to help me hang on to those. I don’t need all of my childhood toys or old letters to help me recall the love and compassion that was shared under this roof.

Happy Birthday Mike!

Happy Birthday Baby!

It’s Mike’s big day, and in honor of said occurance I thought we could all get together and come up with 31 (yes, it’s the big 3-1) “titles” for Mike. Be creative, sentimental, corny, cheesy…whatever.

Here, I’ll start:

1. Husband

2. Father

3. Brother

4. Son

Okay, basic and easy to see coming, so get a little more creative and help me celebrate my man’s big day.

Flickr Scroll

So the flickr pictures that are scrolling by on the right hand side of the screen have been just beautiful lately. I think Mike has them tagged for “prayer” and “church”. The pictures of those praying around the world have brought me joy.

Pulitzer Prize 1995 “The Stone Diaries”

So I’ve been on a quest to read the Pulitzer Prize winning books. I had an ambition similar to this when, while teaching, I decided to read all of the Newbery Award Books. Each summer, I made my way down the list of 90+ award winning books. Now that my quest of children’s literature has been sated (save the new winners each year), I am moving into the great wealth of “adult” fiction (no, not the naughty kind, sicko).

The great thing about choosing award winning books is that they never suck. You don’t have to get through a third of a book, just to discover you’re not really that interested, but need to finish what you’ve begun (or is that just my dilemma?). The Pulitzer Prize is given to gifted writers, of great books. Win, win. And when finishing a book, I now have a new favorite author with which to discover their other writings.

So all that to say, I just finished 1995′s winner “The Stone Diaries” by Carol Shields. This is an incredible book. It is written as a narrative biography/autobiography by the main character Daisy Goodwill. She has an almost bird’s eye view of her life, and every once in a while breaks in on her own thoughts and writings to contemplate even further, or even question herself. The book is divided into chapters of life; birth, childhood, marriage, love, motherhood, work, sorrow, ease, illness and decline, death. Journeying through a person’s life is amazing. Especially when you consider what is told and what is kept secret or left out. I appreciate Carol Shield’s storytelling, but even more so, her creativity in telling said stories. She uses correspondance, newspaper clippings, journals, different character’s personal dialogues or point of view to tell the story, and by doing so, gives the reader the big picture, a few insights, but doesn’t get bogged down by introducing new characters or having to tell all of the details of an event.

I am truly enjoying this new quest of mine, although with a 10 month old, sitting down for some quiet reading time, doesn’t happen often enough. I know that we have avid readers of all kinds of literature among our authors and commentators, and I enjoy hearing about what literary adventures we all go on.

The God of the Old Testament

So I’ve been reading through the Bible this year. Something that has always sounded good, and something I’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t. The main reason I’ve postponed it is, well, in order to truly read through the bible, one has to read Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Whoa. Not the greatest read. I’ve read them in bits and pieces. But day after day? Chapter after chapter?

I am a New Testament Christian. I really enjoy reading through the Gospels, Paul’s letters and even Revelation gets pretty exciting (though a bit confusing in parts). Yeah, I can “meditate on God’s word day and night” no problem. Except half-way through Deuteronomy, that’s right, the second telling of the law (as if the first time isn’t fun enough), I have a minor epiphany. When David says in Psalm 19 “The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold, they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb” he’s talking about those first five books of the bible. The Law. The scripture that most present day Christians would consider not applicable to our walk. David loved this stuff. He thought the law was worth far more than gold. A sweet read, if you will. That’s a bit harder to apply and understand. Not that I shouldn’t meditate on the New testament, or that I can’t find it’s words sweet, but I think I need to meditate on the harder stuff as well. I want to understand what David, and the prophets for that matter, found so remarkable. They fell in love with Yahweh, based on the Law.

God doesn’t seem very aproachable to me when I read Leviticus. He doesn’t seem to be the same loving, personal God that I know. Yet, if God is the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8) then I need to learn about the Old Testament God as well.

What have I learned so far? I don’t have an awe for God the way I should. I’ve become very blase and comfortable with the creator of heaven and earth. Reading through the Old Testament has become a fun challenge for me. I am trying to learn more about God, take the Sunday School stories a bit further, understand them in my adult faith. Once I have finished the Old Testament, I think I’ll return to the New Testament for a second read through, and see if it helps me understand Jesus a little better. Maybe my love of the New Testament scripture will continue to grow, but I truly hope that my love of all scripture will as well.