Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If you're wondering about my avatar...

That cute little girl is Haruhi Fujioka and she's close to my heart because I have recently become an obsessive fan of Ouran High School Host Club, created by Bisco Hatori. The premise goes something like this:

Haruhi is a scholarship student at the Ouran High School, a private school attended by children of the most obscenely rich and powerful families in Japan. She can't afford a school uniform and, not being terribly concerned about appearances, she is mistaken for a boy at school. The Host Club is a campus group consisting of six super-rich, incredibly attractive boys, who host events to entertain their female "clients." One day, while searching for a quiet place to study, Haruhi happens upon Music Room 3, the home of the Host Club and on this first meeting she breaks a vase worth $80,000 (¥8,000,000 in the original Japanese). The boys discover that Haruhi is actually a girl, but in order to pay off her debt she agrees to work for the club, pretending to be a male host.

The story follows the adventures of the Host Club's escapades, but especially their relationships as they all get to know each other better. The dynamic caused by having one girl working closely with six boys is the source of much comedy, but also a bit of drama. Another interesting dynamic is the vast cultural difference between the wealthy and the poorer commoners. All the characters seem to be based on common stereotypes, which makes them all the more entertaining and engaging. I've honestly grown to love all the characters, with all their little quirks, as if they were real people!

The Ouran High School Host Club manga (think anime in print form) is ongoing in monthly chapters (76, so far). You can read them translated into English online here. There was an anime series made that consisted of 26 episodes. It follows the same basic storyline of the manga with some changes, presumably to allow for it to come to a conclusion without ruining the story. All episodes can be viewed online here.

I'm addicted and I can't wait until the next episode comes out at the end of the month. Even if you aren't into cartoons or anime, I urge you to watch an episode or two. It's insanely funny, cute and sometimes bizarre and you just may like it!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

An enjoyable vacation with a twist

The Thansgiving holiday was a little different for the Beck family this year. We actually drove up to Jersey the Saturday before Thanksgiving. My cousin, George, and his lovely bride, Kiki, got married on the 22nd. This was a family event that I wouldn't have missed for anything in the world! Since, the kids only had two days of school that week and they would have missed school on Monday traveling home anyway, we decided to give them both days off and stay in Jersey until Wednesday. Chris still had to drive back on Monday, but the kids and I could have extra time with family in Jersey and still have our traditional Thankgiving dinner in Virginia.

The wedding was beautiful, our stay was fun, but the drive home was where things got interesting. Everyone was out of sorts and crabby, which made packing up take longer than expected. Then, when we were finally ready to leave (1.5 hours behind schedule) the car wouldn't start. Apparently, I had a weak battery and leaving the doors open while packing was too much for it. "Well," I thought, "unless the starter was bad, it was no big deal. That's what jumper cables are for." Sure enough, we got the car started in no time and we were on our way. I had a full tank of gas, so there was no worry about having to turn off the engine before we were safely back home. As you'll see, a weak battery turned out to be the least of my worries. Maybe it was an omen?

Having left later than planned we hit some traffic here and there. Mercifully, it wasn't too bad and we made pretty good time. After driving some 200 miles, with around 20 more to go, something completely unexpected happened. The transmission in my car failed. It failed BIG. You would have though I put the car reverse doing 65 mph the way the gears dropped. It felt like we hit a railroad tie in the road, but as the car quickly decelerated, it was obvious that something was terribly wrong with it. I immediately pulled over to the shoulder and cut the engine. Chris had called me just before it happened, so he had gotten a play by play account of my mishap. I told him I was going to investigate further and call him back.

Hoping that the gears had just gotten stuck temporarily, I turned the car back on, put it in drive and gingerly gave it some gas. Nothing. More gas. Nothing. Floored it. It didn't move so much as an inch. I tried reverse with the same result. Figuring that my Chrysler 24-hour roadside assistance was useless we decided to call Mom & Dad's AAA service. Thank goodness we were close enough to home that Chris could come get the kids out of the car before we loaded the car up on the flatbed tow truck. The tow truck driver marveled at how the front wheels refused to turn as the car was dragged up onto the bed of the truck. He agreed that the transmission was the most likely culprit. This was NOT good news.

So, Chris took the kids home in his car and Mom and I rode home in the tow truck. With all our stuff still packed in the car, the only place it made sense to tow it was back to our house. The wheels still wouldn't turn, so the driver had to, quite literally, shake the car off the bed of the truck. It was almost comical. Yesterday, we had it towed to Aamco. There it sits, waiting diagnosis on Monday. Depending on the cost, it may be worth fixing, if only to make a few bucks on a trade. After that little ordeal, I'm not so sure I'll want to keep it.

Despite our little adventure coming home, Thanksgiving was wonderful. Every year I find more and more things to be thankful for. This year, I'm especially thankful for the health and safety of my family. After all, there are far worse things than a broken down car.

Stay tuned... the fate of my car is still to be decided!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy birthday to me!

Okay, okay, it's a little silly to wish myself a happy birthday but I did it anyway. So there!My family and I actually celebrated my birthday on Saturday because it's too hard to relax or go out to eat on a weekday. So, I got to ignore my chores and be treated like a princess for the whole day. They took me out to dinner and Chris got me some cool Juventus fangirl stuff, like this awesome flag.

I love my family and I couldn't think of a better way to spend my birthday than to spend it with them. Thanks for another special year!

Friday, November 13, 2009

This looks promising

For the 10th anniversary of Blogger/Blogspot a free version of the BlogPress iPhone app has been released. Maybe I'll be able to post from my iPhone properly again!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I could have sworn that I made a couple more posts since the last one posted on here. Stupid iFail apps are making me crazy. I guess I'm back to using the iMac for blogging duties.

Anyway, Chris and I did A LOT of gardening last week. I'll post pictures of the fruits of our labor after I tackle some sorely neglected chores. Funny how the stuff inside the house doesn't get done when you're outside. I think I need a time turner!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Too much for Twitter.

I'm really getting tired of Twitter. Those of you who follow me on there already know that I've been absent A LOT lately. A big part of the reason is that I'm a talker. Online, that translates into lengthy chatting sessions better suited to IM. Even when I just want to "tweet" my random thoughts, I'm too verbose to cram it all into 140 characters. They call it micro blogging. I call it restrictive.

What does that mean for you, dear follower? It means that my random thoughts will be posted here (yeah, yeah, I've said that before but i mean it this time!) Every now and then I'll update Facebook, but here is where it's at from now on. You can still catch me on AIM, Facebook or Google, if you want to chat. You can leave a comment here if you need that info. If you're on my Facebook you already have it.

Thank you for your understanding. I hope you will keep in touch.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I jinxed myself!

Never mind what I said about life being good. Get migraines, sick kids and homework no one wants to do. Add a zillion appointments, mix well and you've made a lovely ball of stress. Enjoy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Life is good

Right now I'm in a good place. I guess I haven't had much I've wanted to share, which is ridiculous since life is never boring for me. Perhaps it's time to bring things up to date now that school is back in session!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Something old and somethings new

My iPhone 2G has officially become "something old" because it was replaced by a spiffy and quite zippy, brand new iPhone 3Gs. I kept my same number so you won't notice anything different on your end of things, except that I might actually answer more often. This one seems to be louder. ;)

The 2G now has no phone service but it functions perfectly fine on wi-fi and still runs apps and plays music. We now call it an iPhone Touch (something in between an iPhone and an iPod Touch), and will be kept around for the enjoyment of my boys (Cameron, mostly).

Why just the boys, you might wonder. Well, Samantha has gotten her very first cell phone. For reasons that still escape me, she opted to NOT get an iPhone, even though we offered her one. She insisted on having a "real" keyboard, the better to text you with, I suppose. Thank goodness for unlimited texting plans!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Awesome trip to Jersey

I took the kids up to my parents' house in Jersey for two weeks earlier this month. We had an amazing time, mostly just spending time with family and close friends. For the kids, it was fun to see some new sights and meet more extended family. For me, it was great to reconnect with the people dearest to my heart and get pampered a bit.

I had planned to make a huge post about all the stuff we did but I've been a bit under the weather. In fact, I was already starting to feel bad before the trip to Jersey. I'm actually typing this post on my iPhone because I'm too tired to sit in front of my computer tonight. Hopefully, this mobile blog app works okay. If it does, you may hear from me more often.

Anyway, I did put some pictures up on Facebook. I'll try to put some up here as well. Be patient. I'm hoping to be back to my perky, energetic self soon!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Taking Cameron to the dentist

We see a wonderful pediatric dentist. Today, Cameron gets to go in to get his braces adjusted. I have to admit, I do forget to turn the little crank in his mouth as often as I should, but he has been very patient with the whole "phase one" process. He has the top brackets off (now held in place by a retainer behind them) and we're just waiting on the the bottom ones to align better. He's really come a long way from the top teeth having no room to come in and the bottom teeth coming in in rows like shark teeth! This boy is going to have the best smile ever. Now if I can only get him to brush and floss better...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Playing games and wasting time

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to play The Sims games. Lately, I've been playing a lot of The Sims 3. I'm really enjoying the seamless neighborhood setup. It makes their little lives feel so much more "normal." I've started a "Legacy" game, where you make a Sim, buy a huge empty lot and try to build wealth (and a house!) over 10 generations. You start with the clothes on your back, the empty lot and $1300. So far, my little dude has a little shack and a vegetable garden to show for his time. He does have a love interest so he may manage to produce generation #2, even if they aren't exactly wealthy yet.

I also have a game running that started out as my actual family (mom, dad, brother and me) and, so far, I've grown up from a toddler to young adulthood, established myself in a good job, gotten married and had two kids. It will be fun to see this family go through a few generations after I'm gone, but I think I'll be slowing down time a lot. It's creepy to think of letting a representation of yourself die!

This silly little game takes up far less time than The Sims 2 did because you don't have to babysit the little guys quite so much. Still, I spend a good deal of time micromanaging them because it's just plain fun. For example, one of the families has produced an evil genius son. He's just a baby, but I can't to see what kind of interesting life I can create for him. ;)

Social Networking Overload!

There are so many ways to keep in touch these days. In addition to the standard home phone, we now have cell phones that we use for talking and texting with friends and family. Home computers have given us countless additional ways to stay in touch. We now have email, instant messaging, social networking sites, blogs and micro blogs, photo and video sharing sites and probably much more that I'm forgetting to mention. As if that weren't enough, much of these methods of staying connected are available on cell phones. It has made the world a very small place, which is wonderful, but being connected to EVERYONE, ALL THE TIME can become overwhelming.

I found that keeping up with so many things at once took up too much time, so I'm undergoing a bit of intarwebs detox. Twitter and Facebook are the main offenders, so they are the first ones to go. If you are friends with me through Facebook, you already have access to all my contact information. If you want to know what's going on in my life, this is going to be the place to look. It will be updated often. I mean, who says you can't use your actual blog for micro blogging? LOL

Monday, May 25, 2009

Trent Reznor wants us to help Eric!

I'll repost it in his own words because I can't say it better.

A Letter from Trent: 

This is for something important. Eric De La Cruz is dying and needs a heart transplant. He keeps getting turned down for a transplant list because he's on Nevada Medicaid, and there are no transplant centers in Nevada. We want to get involved and hopefully so do you, so we're extending a hand. His sister Veronica (former Anchor and Internet Correspondent for CNN) has started a campaign to save his life. 

Eric's situation shines a bright light on a broken health care system, and his particular set of problems are being addressed on the political front, aiming for reform in addition to the need for immediate financial help to keep him alive TODAY. I think we can help with the latter. 

Here's what we're offering - three options: 

If you have a ticket to a NIN/JA show: if you donate $1,000 to this cause, we'll invite you to come hang out with us before the NIN/JA show of your choice. You and a guest can watch NIN and Street Sweeper Social Club's soundchecks, eat dinner backstage with us, take pics / get autographs and watch the show from the side of the stage if you'd like. 

If you donate 
$300, you and a friend can join us for NIN and SSSC's soundchecks and a handshaking / hug session before doors open at the NIN/JA show of your choice. 

If you do NOT have a ticket to a NIN/JA show: if you donate $1,200 to this cause, we'll invite you to come hang out with us before the NIN/ JA show of your choice and provide 2 tickets (best available). You and a guest can watch soundcheck, eat dinner backstage with us, take pics / get autographs and watch the show from the side of the stage if you'd like. 

100% of the money collected from this will go directly to Eric's fund. 

I hope you'll consider helping out with this. 

Sincerely, Trent Reznor 

If you are a NIN fan or just would like to help someone in need, please go here and make a donation. There you will find all the NIN options, an option to simply donate $10, and links to more information about Eric. I hope you find it in your heart to help out.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


The trip to Vegas was nothing short of EPIC! We ended up staying at the Palazzo and now I don't think I could imagine staying anywhere else. We were so spoiled! We saw Cirque du Soleil O and loved it. Next time I want to go see . They were actually our first choice but were on vacatio while we were there. One of the things Chris wanted to do while we were there was to collect as many different $1 chips as we could from the casinos. After A LOT of walking, we managed to collect quite a few!

That Sunday was Trent Reznor's 44th birthday so a bunch of NIN fans got together to have a birthday party at Hofbräuhaus in his honor. For me, the best part of the night was finally meeting so many NINies that I had gotten to know through Twitter. Mad love to my Twitter Bitches! In case you're wondering, Trent wasn't there, but we still had a great time. I'll put some video of the festivities up when I get it cleaned up (meaning: making sure I don't look too stupid).

The NIN/JA concert was amazing! I bought presale tickets through Jane's, so we got into the venue before the general public. If we'd had general admission, we could certainly have gotten a place on the security rail, but I was perfectly happy to have my 2nd row seats. The tickets were souvenir quality and they didn't even tear them at the venue. Seriously, they were pretty fancy!

For some reason Street Sweeper Social Club didn't open the show, so Nine Inch Nails went on first. Of course, it wouldn't be a NIN concert unless something went wrong, so this time it was the smoke machines setting the fire alarms off in the venue. Luckily, it didn't cause too much of a delay and Trent, Robin, Justin and Ilan put on quite a show! The set list was probably one only a devoted fan would fully appreciate but NIN is so amazing live that even casual fans loved it...

01. Somewhat Damaged
02. Terrible Lie
03. Heresy
04. March Of The Pigs
05. The Frail
06. Piggy
07. Metal
08. The Big Come Down
09. Gave Up
10. The Fragile
11. I Do Not Want This
12. The Downward Spiral
13. Wish
14. Survivalism
15. The Day The World Went Away
16. Physical (You're So)
17. The Hand That Feeds
18. Head Like A Hole
19. Hurt

Closing the show was Jane's Addiction and they did not disappoint! Perry Farrell is an amazing showman. His commentary was entertaining and he was energetic and animated, despite his recent leg injury. I never thought of him as particularly attractive but he looked damn good that night! Of course, the highlight of any Jane's show is Dave Navarro (shirtless Dave, as we so affectionately call him). Not only is he incredibly good looking, but he is also an amazingly talented guitar player.

The Jane's set list was as follows:

Three Days
Ain't No Right
Pigs in Zen
Then She Did...
Mountain Song
Had a Dad
Been Caught Stealing
Ted, Just Admit it...
Ocean Size
Summertime Rolls
Jane Says

You didn't have to be a Jane's Addiction fan to appreciate what an amazing performance it was. People who had attended shows earlier in the tour said that it was their best yet. I believe it! The only negative about this concert was that it made me really want to go to another concert locally!

Chris took a ton of pictures at the concert which can be found here. He got some really amazing shots like the one below. We also have a ton of video footage that I'm working on making into something viewable. I couldn't believe that Trent fought with the venues to relax the camera/video policy. He really loves his fans and wanted us to take home memories of what could be the last NIN tour EVER. Thanks, Trent, we love you!

There really are no words for how happy I am with my whole Vegas experience. You can be sure that we will be planning another trip out there. In the meantime, I'll be looking for decent tickets to see NIN/JA in Maryland. If I an come up with $1200, I might donate to Trent's Help Out and Hang Out campaign to help Eric De La Cruz get a heart transplant. It's a lot of money, but it would be worth it. I'll probably make another post about this specifically later.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Getting ready for Vegas!

I'm still pinching myself, because I'm having a hard time believing that I'm getting on a plane to Las Vegas on Friday. Two months ago, I didn't think this trip was anything more than a a great idea. We weren't even planning a vacation, let alone an amazing one like this. Here's how it happened...

I was determined to see Nine Inch Nails one more time, since this is their last tour. When I found out that they were touring with a newly reunited Jane's Addiction (NIN/JA Tour 2009!), I was even more determined to attend at least one show. After looking at the list of tour dates and venues, it was obvious that the Las Vegas show was the "dream" show. I was pretty settled on going to see them in Maryland, since I knew at least one other person already planning to go to that one and it was probably the closest to us anyway.

Chris was the one who threw the idea of going to see NIN in Vegas. I thought he was kidding, but after talking about it a bit, it sounded more and more of a real possibility, BUT the logistics had to be worked out. There was no way we were going to bring the whole family, so we had to convince our moms to come down from Jersey to watch the kids. Somehow, they agreed. The next step was actually getting tickets to the show. This was the part that stressed me the most. Even though the venue is small, I obviously wanted to get the best seats possible. I was able to get 2nd row seats (blue dots, below) through the Jane's Addiction presale

We've also planned to do a few other things while we're there. So far, we're planning to go see to see Cirque du Soleil O, and to attend a NIN fan get together in honor of Trent Reznor's birthday. Of course, I'm sure we'll do some gambling and laying out by the pool. The most important part of this vacation is relaxing! So, from Friday, May 15th until Tuesday, May 19th, I plan to enjoy myself A LOT. Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas... except for maybe some pictures and videos from our adventures. ;)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lazy, busy, or just at a loss for words?

Oh, I don't even know. I want to say more but life is SO overwhelming lately. I hardly know where to start!

Right now, the kids have me going crazy with mommy guilt. I second guess myself at every turn. They have so many "issues"that I get tired of explaining it all, so don't expect me to even try to here. Just know that life here is very, VERY complicated and I'm thinking I need a vacation. Any suggestions? The idea of going away somewhere (Vegas, anyone?) has come up, but with no one willing or able to watch my 4 kids for a few days, a long trip seems unlikely. Heck, I'd settle for meeting a friend for coffee!


Hopefully, I'll something better than a vent about life for my next post. I'll be back after a can of Rock Star. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Things I hope to do before I die

In no particular order:

  • Go to graduate school (a PhD being the ultimate goal)
  • See at least one of my kids get married 
  • Hold a grandchild
  • See a Peter Gabriel concert (he's not getting any younger and neither am I)
I'll add more as I think of them. I'm open to suggestions, so leave a comment if you have something I should consider adding!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Welcome Facebook friends!

I just realized that I linked to this page from my Facebook profile, and I haven't been updating it. When I first registered for Facebook, there was hardly anyone I knew on there. I guess I didn't think that many people would visit here. Now that I'm reconnecting with so many old friends, I've decided that I could use this place to let people get to know present-day Marta. In many ways I've changed, as I'm sure we all have, but once you get to know me again, you'll see that I'm the same girl I was in high school (plus a few wrinkles).

I will also start using this blog for the originally intended purpose of posting family updates. It seems like a good central location for everyone to keep up with goings on here. We don't get many chances to visit with family and friends anymore and I know that many of you don't want to miss seeing my kids grow up. Hard as I try, I can't seem to stop the years from flying by!

So, welcome friends and family to this window to my life. We'll make you laugh, we'll make you cry, but we hope we won't ever be boring. After all, this is Cooperative Mayhem, and we usually live up to that name!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Updating the update

You may have noticed that the New Year's update that was posted previously has been deleted. This was done for a few reasons. For one, I never meant to post it because it wasn't completed and I also decided that some information in there was best kept as private family matters. If you had already read it, please keep the more personal information (especially about Cameron) to yourself.

I new and improved update will follow. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone.

The more things change the more they stay the same

You may have noticed that now brings you here, instead of to the "pretty" iWeb site. Not to worry, I promise that the other site is still there! You can get to it by clicking on the link I've added on the left of this blog. If you'd like to bypass this page, remember to save the new url for the other site to your favorites. In all honesty, I recommend you leave the link that now brings you here the way it. This site will be kept more current and will always alert you to changes on the other site. That was actually the main reason for the change. Also, I've fixed things so that the other site loads MUCH faster, because I eliminated the forwarding issue.

Thank you for your patience with my constantly moving things around (and lack of updates lately) but I think this will turn out to be the best setup in the long run.