My (unedited) personal karaoke list

Those who know me well know I love me some karaoke. In fact, I think about karaoke all the time. When I am in an elevator, I hear a piece of muzak that reminds me that Air Supply, in the right context, is a very good thing. Or I reflect on how SuperTramp is deeply underrated. Or bemoan that the youth of today are woefully under-educated about the brilliance of Pat Benatar.

Of course, Glee has brought Journey back into the mainstream collective consciousness, and for that I am grateful. Still, if you peruse the list below which I carry around with my on my iPhone and add to fairly regularly, there are so many other songs that are calling to me, calling to me, calling to me.....

I created this list because when I find myself in a karaoke context (ideally a private room with friends and lots of liquor), I get so overwhelmed with joy, excitement and anticipation that I sometimes am stumped by what to sing. This list instantly jogs my memory and ensures that the hits will keep on rolling. I'd love to hear any suggested additions in comments....

Edge of 17
Part of your world
Don't pull your love out on me (BJ Thomas)
Touch me in the morning
Tempting by the fruit of another
Lady marmalade
Paradise by the dashboard light
Baby, come to me
View to a kill
Magic (cars)
White wedding
I am woman hear me roar
I've been to paradise
Top of the world
Here I am (air supply)
Crazy little thing called love
How deep is your love
Killing me softly
Hello (lionel ritchie)
Making love out of nothing at all
Against all odds
Bohemian rhapsody
I feel the earth move under my feet
Midnight at the oasis
Its too late
Then came you
Hard to handle
Heaven is a place on earth
Love is a battlefield
Your smiling face
What it takes (aerosmith)
Haircut 100
Book of love
Come on and groove me
I can't hold back
Simply red
Bennie and the jets
Born to run
Train in vain
Mambo itIano
Sail on
Give a little bit
Logical song
You're so vain
Islands in the stream
Total eclipse of the heart
Reo speedwagon
Keep forgettin' (Michael mcdonald)
Harden my heart
Journey: faithfully
You've got the best of my love
You give love a bad name
Every rose has it's torn
Leather and lace
Don't let the sun go down on me
You better be good to me
Rich girl
You can count me (Jefferson airplane)
Last night (5th dimension)
Last dance (Donna summer)

A Letter to Working Moms Everywhere, by Beatrice Stewart

Last night, I had a very poignant conversation with my preternaturally wise 9 year old daughter, Beatrice. She told me I was a great mom, and I said, "Don't you think I'd be a better mom if I were around more?" It's a question I ask my working self all the time, and for some reason, I just decided to ask her directly. She matter-of-factly stated, "No."

What followed was so wise and heartfelt that it still makes me well up with gratitude and relief to think about it. Tonight, I told her again how much her words meant to me, and asked her if she would agree to type some of those thoughts up to share on my blog so all of my mom friends could read it. She said yes, so here it is....

A Letter to Working Moms Everywhere, by Beatrice Stewart

What qualifies someone as a good mom? I thought about it, and I think it's someone who cares about her family. Mom felt guilty that she wasn't spending enough time with us, and I tried to console her. My view is that a mom doesn't have to spend 24/7 with her kids, as long as she cares. The way my Mom shows it is that she works such long hours at work without stopping, just so she can earn money for us. Staying home is not a problem of course, but neither is working. My point is that if you do something for your family, like even create one, you care-- therefore, you are a good mom.

Mighty Junior Life Lists: Isabel, age 7

If you thought Beatrice's list was brilliant, get a load of her youngest sister Isabel's life dreams. There's something so lovely about hearing my child express what she wishes most for, especially since I can help her do something these before her 8th birthday! The Giant Squid might be a challenge, but I think we can arrange the "bun with a chopstick" thing, no problem!


Ride a unicorn.

Bathe in Jell-O.

Enter YouTube world and visit the pink and purple ponies from Charlie the Unicorn.

Meet Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez.

Become a fairy.

Swim with dolphins.

Travel to Paris with my mom and try snails, go shopping for berets, and see Monet's paintings.

Be Sunny (our Golden Retriever puppy) for the day.

Email JK Rowling.

Write a Betty and Veronica comic book.

Learn how to scuba dive.

See a giant squid without getting hurt.

Get wet from the splash of a whale's tail.

Play the flute.

Be a cheerleader.

Meet the real Wonder Woman.

Build a miniature boat.

Be a singer and actress.

Dye my hair pink (or blond).

Have two hamsters, three cats, a dog, and four chickens.

Work as a veterinarian.

Learn how to skateboard.

Be good at horseback riding.

Be able to do the splits.

Learn to put my hair in a bun using a chopstick.

Learn to cast a magic spell.

Outlaw the "cheese touch" (from Diary of a Wimpy Kid).

Paint my room pink with rainbows.

Mighty Junior Life Lists: Beatrice, age 9

Inspired by my weekend at The Mighty Summit and my own experience creating a Life List (see right column of my blog), I sat down with my own kids and asked them what they'd put on their list. Here's the first one, shared with permission by it's author, 9-year-old Beatrice. I love the way reality and fantasy co-mingle....

Be a number one New York Times best selling author - at age 10.
Be an awesome knitter.
Really learn how to sew.
Find a sport that I'm good at.
Have people mention my name on TV.
Finish all of my school work by Monday (her homework is given in weekly batches, so if she's organized, Bea thinks she can get all her work done for the week on Monday).
Invent a time machine so I can:
  • Travel back in time and visit my own birth, however inappropriate that may be.
  • Meet Charles Dickens and Einstein.
  • Try to make myself a better person by looking at some of the fights I've gotten into and see how I've acted.
Get into Stanford.
Travel to Ireland.
See the pyramids and obelisk and the Sphinx in Egypt.
See the Eiffel tower and add to my beret collection in Paris.
Make a dress out of silly bands, a dress out of pom pons and a dress out of markers.
Attend Hogwarts Academy.
Visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
Learn 5 different languages (Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, Hindi, Gaelic).
Solve an ancient mystery, like the Loch ness monster or Peter Coutts' Tower.
Get the first of many lead roles in a musical play.
Be cast as Elphaba AND Galinda in Wicked (at the same time!).
Get a lead part in a movie.
Get married to (name removed to protect the innocent).
Have 10 babies, all girls, all beautiful.
Live in a modern mansion.
Play the role of Kate in the film adaptation of "The Mysterious Benedict Society".
Have a room made of fluffy pillows and a bed that has a trampoline built in to I can bounce into bed (for the record, Beatrice says she wanted this before i-Carly had it).
Live in a palace made of Jell-O.
Spend a weekend in San Francisco eating things from Miette.
Spend a whole week at the San Jose Tech Museum.
Build a successful babysitting business in my neighborhood.
Work for an afternoon as Hank's Mother's Little Helper.
Make a life size gingerbread house decorated with all my favorite candies.
Meet all the big pop stars to see which ones are jerks and which ones are nice.
Have my imaginary friends come to life.
Be able to talk to animals.
Live on a farm for a week.
Visit with my Grandma Isabel, who died.
Become friends with JK Rowling and Elizabeth Gilbert.
Bring Trixie (our deceased cat) back to life so she can meet Sunny (our new puppy).
Be a super hero.
Meet Trenton Lee Stewart, author of "The Mysterious Benedict Society".
Run a business that helps saves the earth.
Learn karate.
Go to spy school.
Read the works of the Bronte sisters.
Read "War & Peace" and "Anna Karenina" without getting bored.
Meet Yoda.

Staying in touch with the fam' while on the road

This morning, after returning from the second of two trips away from my family in the last 3 weeks, my daughter Isabel said, "Mom, it's odd to have you around. It's great, but it feels odd." Eh, can you grab that knife by the handle and twist it a little more?

Traveling when you have kids is a double edged sword. I'm not one of those moms who pines away the whole time I am gone. I enjoy my time by myself, and I love me some boutique hotel action. However, I feel intense, recovering-Catholic-scale guilt about burdening my husband with the 3 kids and the dog while I am gone. And I feel badly that I miss the crucial every day mundane details that, let's face it, make up a child's life. What they had for lunch. Whether they had PE today. How their outfit worked out for them on the playground.

I've found that video conferencing from the road has really helped, although it's kind of a tight squeeze to get everyone into the conversation. Best to take turns....

Staying in touch with the family while traveling, via Google video chat

There are no easy solutions to simultaneously doing right by your family, your job, and yourself. The best you can do is just enjoy your kids as much as you can, tell them you love them as often as you can, and tell your job to kindly take a back seat once and a while.

Did I mention I will be traveling again in 2 weeks? Better get a bigger monitor for the home computer....

What do women really want? Dispatch from The Mighty Summit

This past Friday afternoon, instead of heading south on my normal 40 minute commute home to Palo Alto, I headed North. North of San Francisco, through the traffic and away-for-the-weekend crowds and the wet, cold gray that typifies the late San Fran summer. North on the 101, and across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was so fogged over that it was only through previous experience of there being a bridge that one would dare drive across it. It was like driving into a cloudy abyss. I was on my way to The Mighty Summit.

It seemed suitable to pass through a cloudy, foggy portal to cross over to this gathering of accomplished, diverse women. The weekend, organized by veteran bloggers Maggie Mason, Laura Maye and Helen Jane Hearon, brought together 25 women from many walks of life: there were writers, foodies, mothers, television producers, marathon runners, artists, cheese lovers, designers, photographers, and more. What happened over the course of the weekend was the creation of a real community; not the cliché of that term which has sadly been co-opted and overused by the internet, but in the real sense of people coming together and realizing that no only do they like each other, but that they are able to help each other. It can be hard, day-to-day, for women to ask for help; we want to be strong, and self-reliant, and sadly, we are not always supportive of each other in the pursuit of our own ambitions.

But when women are brought together in a place where they feel they can let their guard down and be authentic, something interesting happens. We see the extreme contrasts that we carry around with us on full display. The confidence and the insecurity. The joy and the sorrow. The satisfaction and the yearning. Do men possess these as well? Most likely. But I find women tend to carry the contrasts in equal measure, like a yoke on their back. And it all gets pretty heavy over the years.

What seemed to bring this all into focus were the life lists we all shared with each other in preparation for the weekend. What do you want to do in your life? Such a concise question, but one that can be answered in so many ways. Some simple goals: learn to make donuts was the first on my list (fyi, I already crossed off that one this past Easter morning with a batch of visually unattractive but delicious balls of fried dough). Some are more ambitious, like Maggie's goal of tasting 1000 fruits (she's well on her way!). In analyzing the lists of my fellow Summit-ers, we see some interesting patterns that might start to address the age old question, "What do women want?"

I don't presume to say that this composite represents the sum total of female longing; after all, this was not your average group of ladies. But I do find that the yearning to learn, to make, to see, to visit, to GO, is both inspiring and also poignant. Technology, while it has freed us in so many ways, has also shackled us with increasingly impersonal and isolating ways of communicating and living. So much of what we create today is digital; you can't touch it or feel it or smell it or see it.

Women have always been sources of creative energy in families and society, and we have always been the makers of things. We knitted, we sewed, we cooked, we quilted. We were able to express our care and affection by feeding, clothing, and wrapping people up in our creations. And while we were and are capable of so many other things, both artist and intellectual, we've lost something in abandoning these basic creative pursuits. And in fact, we've vilified them at some level over the years, making it seem unambitious or wasting your potential to focus energies on the seemingly humble craft of living.

For myself, I feel I've lost touch with my creative self. Having spent the last 10 years of my career fostering creativity in others as a design manager, I've neglected to cultivate and nurture my own need to create beauty in the world. And I feel certain that if not properly attended to, my soul will wither a bit every day as a result. So my big goal this year is to outfit a studio for myself in our garage, a place, to quote my own life list, "to paint, sew, draw, dream...."

As I headed back home early Monday morning after this emotionally charged yet satisfying weekend, the bridge was once again fogged over. That view of the Golden Gate never fails to take my breath away as I come around the bend. And as I drove into the clouds once again, I was reassured in the knowledge that I know this route (even without my GPS!), and that getting back is just a matter of will and the desire to be my whole self. And maybe, just maybe, that journey will be as easy as walking out to my own garage.

A few days in Dublin: some recommendations

I visited Ireland for the first time in Late August and instantly formed a crush on the city of Dublin. Here are some of the places I discovered that you might want to check out if you ever find yourself in the capitol of the Emerald Isle.
  • I stayed at Grafton Guest House in Central Dublin. It's a nice little bed and breakfast. Reasonable rates. No services to speak of, so if you must have champagne on ice through room service, look elsewhere. Breakkie is included at a nearby bistro, and the location cannot be beat.
  • Had a dinner all by myself (I love places you can eat alone and not feel like a tool) at Cornucopia, heralded as one of Dublin's best vegetarian eateries. Delish veggie dishes with local and seasonal ingredients. Texas-sized portions, for better or for worse.
  • Ice cream afterwards right across the street from Cornucopia at Murphy's. A small combo cup of Honey Caramel and Chocolate hit the spot.
  • Amazing vintage clothing at Wild Child Originals, which incidentally has one of the best graphic identities I've seen for a boutique. So much so that I photographed their paper shopping bag, which is a first for me.
  • Avoca, my new favorite store. As cute and inventive as Oilily, but not as precious or expensive. Wonderful children's and babies' clothes and toys; discovered a new fave label, No Added Sugar. Can't share details of what I bought, lest I ruin surprises for certain nosey Stewart children. Apparently they have stores all over Ireland and also one store in the US in Annapolis. Random. Sorry Marylanders....
  • Another lovely story for children and babies: Pearl. Great selection of clothes, bags, and again, the No Added Sugar line.
  • Guinness Storehouse tour at the factory; surprisingly interesting and well designed, if a bit too self-congratulatory. Samples included!
  • Book of Kells at Trinity College: I really enjoyed the audio guided tour, although they actually sell you a throw away plastic player which I found a bit ridiculous in this age of green living. I ended up making someone's day by handing it to them as they waited in line to buy one for 5 euros. Also, this tour is not for small kids; it would bore them to tears.
  • Dublin Office of Tourism Podcast Walking Tours: these were a revelation to me, since I was traveling alone in a new city and have no sense of direction. Much easier to have someone whispering in my ear to "turn at the large stone cathedral" than pulling out my map for the 50th time.
  • Day trip to Howth: this small, lovely port village is only a 20 minute train ride outside the city. It's the home of some amazing seafood and one of the loveliest playgrounds I've seen in a while. Would be a great place to take little ones.
Also, some things I noticed when I was in Ireland:
  • People are into wearing really big headphones on the streets. Perhaps they, too, have realized that as far as comfort is concerned, ear buds are a scourge on humanity.
  • No decaf in the whole damned city. Since I was managing jetlag, I had to skip coffee altogether.
  • Taxi drivers are honest, friendly, and a great source of info about the city.
  • I hear there is great food, but I didn't have great luck in restaurants. I imagine getting better recommendations from locals is the key.
  • Not surprisingly, you can hear great music everywhere. The street musicians are generally speaking really talented. Grafton Street shopping district is a sure bet for finding talented buskers.
That's all for this chapter in my travels, but I'll close by saying, "Slan agus beannact leat." That's Gaelic for, "Goodbye and blessings with you!"

Teeny Tiny Birthday Party Theme

For Isabel's 7th birthday, we embraced her love of the miniature and had a teeny tiny birthday party! To give credit where credit is due, it all started with a nifty party set by Martha Stewart that we bought at Michael's, which included tiny invitations, mini part hats, cups, and plates, and even teeny little goody bags. We bought a few bunches of mini carnations and gathered them in little teacups for a centerpiece. And we planned a menu of tiny foods, including:
  • Mini bagel pizzas
  • Teeny pigs in the blanket
  • Lilliputian Oreos and Ritz Bits
  • Itty-bitty cups of Ben and Jerry's ice cream
  • Tiny cupcakes and a mini birthday cake
Finally, we compiled as many miniature items as we could for our teeny loot bags:
  • Mini magic markers
  • Tiny post-it notes
  • Baby sized Goldfish crackers
  • Teeny Tootsie pops
It was truly hard to tell whether the kids or grown ups had more fun in planning and throwing this party. A highly recommended theme!

Silkscreening Class at Mission Grafica in San Francisco

The YouTube UX team recently attended a silk screening workshop at Mission Grafica in San Francisco. You bring the materials, and pay a small amount for instruction and the use of their rad studio and equiptment. Some of us used YouTube user comments as the inspiration (sorry for the profanity!). Looking for a fun group activity for a team or bunch of friends? I highly recommend...