6.30.2008

:(

photo by Mike


Being the last born in a birth order of two, I have a much different experience than my older sibling. Reflecting back, I can see what wasn't known to me then. I was handed much and gave back little. I was given countless rides to school, extra lunch or music money, clothing to borrow, advice, new shoes, opportunities to get out of the house (Tower Records, college town, etc), pretty much anything I wanted. I didn't have anyone next in birth order coveting my things, so I could argue there wasn't anyone to really learn to share my space, belongings, time, attention. I probably didn't even realize how much my sister (and parents) gave and gave and gave. I probably didn't thank them or realize how generous they were giving because I had just grown to expect this. I didn't know anything different, but should have seen the giving. I could have (and can be) a better sister.

Today I went to visit an elderly friend, Margie. She has a brain tumor that has been operated on in the past, but keeps growing back. It can no longer be operated on at this stage in her life. She has recently had two heart attacks. This was the first year in my life I have had the desire to be a surgeon. I hated that there was nothing I could really do for Margie's heart. All I could do was stand at her feet in the hospital and look into her eyes and tell her I wished I could keep her from having any more heart attacks. I don't think that was so helpful, we both started to cry. I just wanted to kick myself in the face that night, I didn't have any great words to say or even a flower for her.

Each month I visit her and I normally bring a healthy snack. Once she let me borrow a book she had about eathquakes because she knew how much they freaked me out. Today she gave me a gift- a paper organizer/ planner. She couldn't have given me a more timely gift. She must have had a vision of the notebooks and paper lists littering my kitchen I never know how to use properly. Today I only brought her popcorn. I left feeling like I have been so cheating her of things I can offer over the several months I have been visiting her. I have talents and things she could probably use and surely I haven't thought about it long enough or hard enough. Her caregiver was bringing in bags of used clothing someone else dropped off at the curb. Someone else brought her to the hospital last week because her nose kept bleeding. I didn't even know about it until today. How the hell is popcorn really going to make Margie's life better? I am a crappy friend.

Tara burned the new Death Cab CD for me before the concert so I could learn it. I was so excited to return the favor and share an old album so she, too, could learn the words. But I didn't make it a priority and it kept slipping my mind, she still doesn't have it and the concert is long over.

I took pictures of a birthday party for a friend, she made a fabulous cake that looked like a train, I should have not only burned those pictures onto a dic for her, but freaking sent a photo of it into Martha because it was that awesome. It's been several months (9) and she still doesn't have the pictures. Friend of the year strikes again.

I saw Jim outside, the neighbor across the street who has valley fever, cancer, and recently had shoulder surgery. He asked me about my move and packing as I was stuffing the kids into the car. I responded quickly with a smile. As I drove away I realized I forgot to ask him how he was recovering from his recent surgery. I could be a better neighbor.

I often start phone conversations with friends blabbering on and on about whatever my anxiety of the hour or week is without first asking about their current events. Why do they even pick up the phone when I call? I suck as a friend. It needs to stop.

I think of the rumor I heard once how investment bankers keep notes in a paper rolodex of everything they possibly can about their clients so when they speak they can get personal quickly without having to remember a lot. Things like their vacation destinations, name of their pets and kids, details about their hobbies. While that approach might be fake, I think my memory could use some better note taking on the important and routine people in my life.

I think it's good to bum out on myself sometimes because it's the only way I will be fired up enough to change and make goals to be better about a specific thing. My effort can be better.

sky

We have our sky back again. You know, the one I didn't notice was that bad? It was.

I took this above photo 6/19

And this above photo 6/27 (same trees, different angle)

That same day the sun burned a strange red glow all day long.
Zane asked why the sun was a red balloon.

6.29.2008

the fam


Today's fam photo is brought to you by the fabulous Juanita! These are some of my favorites. Although by absolute most favs are turned sideways on the disc, so I don't know how to post them properly upright.

She did a super job mixing up the angles and trying different locations all over the temple grounds. Being creative and keeping track of little moments as the busy one would wander off, stealing bits of his personality as he roamed freely. And oops I should have worn a hat, my hair was all wacky on some of my favs.


This one below cracks me up cos both kids were just done at that moment. I am glad she gave me this one and didn't delete it. It's like we were jugglers at a circus. And now for the kid toss......one....two....three SWITCH!

Below are silly faces + Evan doing his backbend move, trying to bust free.


6.27.2008

twin forces unite!

I love reading about twins, so I hope their moms don't mind me sharing their links and their photos. Although a hard I could not imagine, I think one of the cool things about twins (especially if it's your first go at parenthood) is that you would immediately learn how each child comes to you the way they are. That they are each different even if you parent exactly the same, so you might be able to skip that whole 'what am I doing wrong, why is X behavior an issue' part of parenting some new moms face. You would get to see them for their sameness and their unique traits. That's been fun about my second child, being able to tell more what is baby generic and what is Evan specific. Anyway- it's fun to watch twins grow.

1) My friend, Jen, that I met in NY has the most fresh batch. She gave Zane his first official hair cut so she will always hold a special spot in my heart. These are her boys Phoenix and Ashton . Cute as buttons.

2) Then another friend, Jen, I met in here in CA. They will forever win best twin costumes in my book. Meet Merrick and Berkleigh. DARLINGS.

3) And Sharon is a mom with twins in the Bay Area I have never met. I found her on my friend's sister's blogroll. This is Owen and Oscar. Super adorable!

6.26.2008

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac


Today went as a normal day does. Breakfast for the kids before my eyes are fully adjusted to the morning light. He still calls them Cocoa Pedals instead of Pebbles. One day he will say it correctly and I hope I notice. His hands are getting bigger, he is getting smarter, my promises have to stick. I vow to take him to the park later to ride his bike. He has been asking all week long.

I make lists of things to do. Sweep up crumbs more often than I blink. Make sure to capture some baby smiles and work at making him laugh. No one wants to get dressed for the day, but eventually we do.

It looks overcast and foggy outside, but not too cold for a park day. Rather humid, but there is a breeze. It's later in the afternoon and the parking lot is full, it's the swimmers. The park is desolate. For a summer day this seems strange to me.

I push Evan on the swing as Zane climbs up on his bike. Just as he rings the bike bell a few times Evan begins to giggle over and over with each gentle push. We are all smiling and enjoying the afternoon. I notice an official tv camera man approaching behind me, he smiles at Evan giggling and then begins to record. I am glowing at my cute baby and so glad to share this happy moment with someone else. A pretty newscaster follows behind with a long, triangular microphone. She asks if I mind answering a few questions. I have no idea what this is about, but I choose to not be bothered that my joyful moment with my baby has been interrupted. Even though I would much rather tickle his belly, I still comply.

"How do you feel about having your children outside with this kind of air quality?" the mic jabs towards my mouth. I continue pushing the swing and glance over to see Zane still riding his bike near me. Icicles replace the hair standing on my arms. Um. What is she talking about? Is my little town on fire and I am the only one unaware?

"Does the smoke in the air bother you? Is he riding his bike slower because of the poor air quality?"
The more she asks the more I piece together I was the only one at the park today for a reason. I didn't get the air quality memo. Or rather, my kids pay a price today for mommy not checking the news.

It only lasted a few moments, but felt like eternity before I could gather the kids, head for the car, then call my mom to check the news for me and fill in the gaps. She reads Dangerous air quality in the bay area due to fires, stay inside. Especially high risk people with lung disease, children, and elderly. Yes, Liz, it's time to pack it up for the day.
So at 5pm Evan was briefly seen on News Channel 5 happily swinging during the segment about the East Bay's poor air quality and how some residents of the town did not feel the need to stay inside. They had also covered people playing tennis in addition to kids at a school where PE was moved inside.

Nice. Who wants to call CPS on me first?

6.25.2008

35 Years: Installment Three


Final birthday post for Mike.

Dear Mike,

Sometimes it feels like I am steering a ship and we finally have a long-term destination! I imagine this might be like a little sliver of what seeing that Statue of Liberty finally appear in the water felt like for those travelers seeking Ellis Island as their joyful destination.

So this ship, there are a lot of things to do on it. If I want it to run smoothly, I have various activities to lead like cleaning the deck, feeding the crew, that engine room business to oversee, and then sometimes there are holes to plug and icebergs to watch out for. We pick you up at the end of the week looking just as haggard, if not more so, than I do from the responsibilities you have been charged with. You are out cutting wood for this deck I clean each day and hunting and preparing that meat we pack into the freezer, and then some. We both go different directions physically each week, but we both know and trust the other to be giving it their all. For the sake of the family, with the same goal in mind at the end of the day. I know we are both doing all we can to provide the way we know best for these boys. And each other. We are burning our candles at both ends right now.

I think of it this way because when we board you onto this ship, often I am hollering like a sailor making sure all the jobs are getting done all around me. I don't always stop to thank you and tell you how awesome this cherry wood is you brought home is and how flavorful the food you worked hard for tastes. I want to relax and enjoy the sound of the waves a little more with you, instead.

I want to be better at avoiding the icebergs I sometimes hit steering this ship, but man some days it is somehow a lot bigger and harder to steer than other days. I love that you always appreciate my wacky course, even if I forgot the dry cleaning, I mean scrubbing the plank, or we have sardines for dinner, I mean hot dogs. I love that you trust I am doing my best and even though you will never know the demands of running the ship all day for several days in a row, you believe me that there are some really hard days. Sometimes harder than yours, sometimes not. I love that I don't have to work at convincing you that I need breaks and what that looks like for my needs. Even if 2,351,346,153 other moms in the world don't need any breaks and perhaps I am a mommy lightweight in comparison, you love me and trust me enough to be supportive.

I love that we are learning together how to steer this ship as copilots on the days you are home and that you can map out a different way of getting to a place safely with far less anxiety. I love that you are unshakable, stalwart, and brave. I love that you are rock solid strong on the inside and outside. I love that when we were first married you were so mad that I bought you sweat pants so you could be warm going to bed at night, that you insisted I never buy you anything. I love it because you could live off the land naked if you had to and never complain because you just need food to be happy. And your family. Nothing more, really. And I love that 3 weeks later you were still wearing those sweat pants to bed at night, so happy to be warm and finally thanking me for getting them for you and taking care of you in ways you wouldn't do for yourself.

I love that you kill every spider without question, even the small ones for me. That you admire your father and love your mother (you love and admire them both, actually, but it just sounded good to write it that way). I love that your siblings are as important to you as we are. That you helped dozens of people you didn't even know move in and out of homes in Brooklyn that were several story walk-ups; even pianos. In the summer. Never complaining once.

I love that when you are curious about something, you turn to a book or expert to learn everything you can and then store it away for no good reason at all. I love it when you work from home, watching you lead a conference call is one of the sexiest things e.v.e.r. for some reason. I love that anything goes with you in the bedroom. That pretty much rocks.....only what's with that no goats stipulation?

6.24.2008

35 Years: Installment Two

oops...wait...they are backwards.....let's try that again:

35 Years: Installment One

Happy Birthday Mike!

If I could give you anything for your birthday, it would be the following.

1) The day off work.

2) The day at home with your family in the same state, even, while you eat an English breakfast from the Chip Shop (or would it be corn beef and hash from US Egg?)


3) Then I would beam us quickly to Magic Mountain for a couple of hours (with a babysitter to take care of the kids while we went on all the rides together). We would get to go to the front of every line and eat all the churros you want. Because on your birthday I would cure you of celiac disease, if I could.

4) Then we would get into a helicopter and go to Sonoma where you would taste test every cheese and the wine would magically not have alcohol in it, so you could taste test all of those, too. Having magic powers for you on your birthday is so fun!



5) Then I would transport your brothers, friends, you (and any other family members interested) into Muir Woods where time would freeze for about 4+ hours and you guys would go nuts playing paintball with unlimited paints. And your paint colors would have sparkles, but no one else's would. And I would give you a protective shield so none of the paintballs would actually hit you. And we wouldn't even miss you cos time would have been standing still that whole time as if you were never gone!
(image from visit SF.com)


6) Then we would open your presents. I would get you a wii along with every game they make. And then an xbox 360 along with all the games they make. I would have a lot of krispy kreme donuts waiting for you, since the wheat thing wouldn't be an issue anymore. And you would eat a chicken parm hero from Smiling Pizza in Brooklyn (beamed in, of course) just because it would be a yummy treat you have missed. By this time it might only be noon, so your birthday would just be starting. 7) Then we would take the kids racing on quads, where you would actually be getting 4 of them as another round of gifts. Evan and Zane would magically be able to ride their own in a specialized, contained course with personal assistants. We would all race and I would let you win. Even though we both now I would land the best jumps. Is that even what you do on a quads?


8) Next we would all get into that trusty helicopter of mine that would actually transform into a jet blaster 3000 (Zane would name it this) and we would spend time as a family laying on the grass in the country in France. Those amazing green fields we rode past in the train all those years ago when you woke me up and told me to look out the window at how beautiful it was. We would spend time there until the sun went down playing chase, laughing, being silly.


(photo via flickr)

9) Dinner would appear out of the ground from a magic tunnel and would bring all of us anything we wanted right that moment (like how we all totally benefit from the birthday magic, too?). You would get a huge German Chocolate Cake next! Then the kids would get transported safely home to their beds to sleep with Natalie taking good are of them. Interpol would perform for you before we left.

10) We would then proceed to the Louvre where we would have the entire place rented to ourselves to play hide and go seek naked. I would take your picture posing by David and he would blush. At some point I would wear that little white fluffy number you got me from Frederick's of Hollywood. (photo via daily venture)

11) You change your dream car sort of often, so I would just get a few Lexus sporty cars lined up for you and perhaps some of the quicker BMWs. Then you could take it to race on a real race track. And I wouldn't have to let you win with my magic because we all know those years of playing video games with racing cars would be enough experience for you to own the track.




6.23.2008

From Bangkok to Calgary

My friend Alysha introduced me to DCFC in the early New York days. I stumbled and tripped into love with the sound of them. I couldn't wait to get my hands on more. I was so thrilled to realize they already had several albums out by that time. Jackpot. I love finding a new-to-me band with a history of albums to explore just waiting to be loved. It's like musical Christmas. So much better than falling for a band to find them waiting 4 more years (or never) to put another album out (Postal Service). Or the guy commits suicide like a total punk (Elliot)- I can't possibly like your music now, that's so lame to do to yourself!

I proceeded to gather all I could get burned for me and then purchased anything remaining to try and memorize every word and beat and breath produced. I think it was a solid year before I listened to anything else new. It was pleasing to have so many of their discs fresh in rotation that I didn't yearn for anything else for some time.

Right before I left New York for good, I got to see them live with one of my favorite buddies ever, Lindsey. It was so fun to leave our kiddies at home, meet at the platform train, and hit The City for a fun night. I always forget how much live music edifies me and always wonder why I don't make the effort to go more often.

Strangely, few people stood, barely a foot was tapping to the beat and only a handful were dancing on the floor. I felt like I was hanging out at a lounge, people just sitting about. I was the fool, only one standing and belting out the lyrics from the seats. Poor Lindsey, she was probably so glad I was moving so she wouldn't have to be seen with me at a concert again. I liked the intimate room we were situated in and how it was set up like a large, rounded movie theater.

**

Over the weekend I got to see them again. Interestingly, with another all-time favorite friend (Tara) I am saying goodbye to in a couple short weeks. I offered her the courtesy 'I sing along' warning Lindsey should have been offered. She still agreed to go.

I had no idea what the Berkeley venue would be, just that it was near campus. We squeaked into dorm parking just as the band took the stage. As we located Will Call and then the entrance, the crowd went wild during my favorite drumming part of the song Crooked Teeth. I think my body elevated about 2 feet.

As we got through the entrance into the outdoor stadium, I swear I felt like we were entering the coliseum in Rome. It was a huge bowl curved up to the sky and filled with people. Possibly the most people in one space I have seen at a concert in my experience. And EVERY. SEAT. WAS. FILLED. Wow. I had no idea how incredibly massive of a following these guys have pulled together over the years. I was so happy to see what a success they are. I was so proud for these boys for putting their sounds together and really making it. They could have played zero songs and that moment still would have been enough for me.
But then the whole enormous audience had to go and chant along with some of my favorite songs and it was like the world having a group hug. There's something so magical and happy about being in a large space with a bunch of other people enjoying the same thing you didn't know so many other people also liked.

We ended up standing in front of loyal 12 year old male fans, which turns out to be wonderful on many levels.

1) no beer spillage on our shoes

2) minimal contact buzz (Tara pointed this one out)

3) my singing doesn't sound nearly as bad as the puberty exploding voices behind us

4) you can arrive late to the show, stand directly in front of them and they aren't going to do anything about it

Another crowd perk in our area was the hip hop guy. I only write about him so I won't forget. He was busting out serious moves and singing every word. My personal favorite was his boxing arms along with the mellow beat to Follow You Into The Dark. It's always nice to see a band that brings all sorts to a show. He was so feeling it way more than even the lead singer.

I also like how we respectively left our homes asking 'does this make me look like a mom?' and then 30 minutes later the security guy in the parking lot asked us if we remembered our college years. Was it that long ago? Should I have gone with the green shirt instead?

6.19.2008

sweeping the stage

I am trying out some links. I have resisted for so long because I don't want to participate in what feels like a pissing contest of who has more friends or friends of friends, etc. I fear linking is the new pokemon trading card. I don't want to play that game, however, I think there are a lot of strangers and friends with good stuff going on that might be interesting to you.

I am going with it for now as I do get boring from time to time (gasp!) and posting will be light during my summer move. And although the look of junky side lists makes me itch, I will try to ignore it for now. I plan to organize them better to easily identify the writers, designers, cooks, mags, etc. The only order I tried was the fam- they are by somewhat frequency in posting. I still have some friends' sites to link, so don't be hurt if you aren't there yet. I am just so tired and not very organized about my method of linking this evening.

99 cans of refriedbeansonthewall.....

Don't tell the people that might assist us with our move, but we started to take this whole food storage a little more seriously this year. It's funny how Mike's approach and mine are entirely different.

Me: I pour over as many samples of food storage ideas as possible, chart out gluten-free substitutes needed to create a seperate stock pile for him, brainstorm a rotation strategy on excel, draw up a replenishment plan with its own grocery shopping system and routine. I make it incredibly complicated because I think the whole idea needs to be efficient and proper and blend naturally into our regular food supply of items I typically cook with. Not that we would turn our noses to refried beans if it was all we had, but it just makes sense to me that we store foods we could regularly eat and rotate in.

Mike: Thinks about it for 3 minutes. While shopping at Costco. Brings home several cases of canned food we almost never eat.

It's like that interview questions we would both answer differently. What is better: a good solution now or a better solution later. His good solution now answer makes sense, so I will rework my detailed plans around what we have and determine what needs to be added. And grin a little when I stare at 4500 cans of GARBANZO BEANS greeting me each morning when I open the pantry.

+++

Feeding a baby is all different now, according to my doctor. Babies starting solid finger foods can have anything but honey before age 1. No more allergy concerns according to recent studies. Peanut butter, cow's milk, cheese, yogurt, it's all a green light! The great news is he is basically open to anything and I am taking complete nutritional advantage of that.

He smiles gleefully at his highchair, suspecting nothing while my master plan cooks in my head and my hands rub with scheming pleasure.

Enter Ammendment One to my food storage strategy: Evan.

It's like that game spoons when the winner of that round of cards gets to put any kind of food on a spoon for the loser to eat blindfolded. Only Evan isn't a loser. He is a winner. A winner who is going to learn to like all sorts of different beans this year.

space

When I think about finally getting settled into our first home this summer, I get really excited thinking about ideas for decorating. 9+ years of renting space has left my creative interior mind dormant and it's dusting off and wheels are spinning. I enjoy thinking about how to design the inside of our family's space, a space that can finally reflect us and not a temporary set of walls to wait inside.

Don't get me wrong, our paths have been rather intenional. Owning a home has just not been the priority. Instead, we decided to fill up Mike's toolbelt and followed career and education so he could be as marketable as possible in his chosen career field now and in the future. This has meant living in places we could not reasonably afford to own in a safe neighborhood. So in the meantime, I have dulled my sense of creatively filling our space and I am bringing out those visions and dreams like floods these days. Saving websites, marking pages, and taking notes.

****

The rooms I think about most often are the boys' rooms. I want to create a space for each of them to call their own. A space that reflects them, provides color, and makes them feel unique and loved. I have different ideas of how to do this, but might need help from a trained deseigner (eventually) to pull everything together so it's not a tacky result. Afterall, I know I am not trained in this field and if you saw my wardrobe you would immediately agree I have no concept of color scheming.

Zane's Room:

My favorite memories of Zane are seeing him outside running in the grass with a bright blue sky. He has so much energy and life and zest for the outdoors that I couldn't imagine his room without somehow including blue like the sky and some part white like soft clouds. Orange reminds me a lot of him for some reason, he looks good in orange shirts and it's such a happy, bright color that it suits his personality. I envision some sort of blend of blue walls and maybe an orange stripe around it, and then blue and white and maybe brown thrown into the mix of the room. White curtains with fat, orange rick rack along a large bottom hem?

He is really interested in super heroes lately and it might be fun to pull some of those pages from the comic book calendar of last year to frame? Or maybe I could decorate a wall with the belly of a few skateboards, but that might get too costly. I have also seen skateboards used for shelving. I would also like to incorporate space for my photographs of fun times with his family, friends, and cousins. Or maybe just pictures of him having fun outside?

The colors are imporant to me for some reason and the rest will just come together once I get into the space and figure things out.

Evan's Room:

For sure soft blue and white. I can't imagine any other calming colors that would be better for this baby. He has the sweetest disposition of any baby I have ever encountered. He will be a peacemaker, he just seems to have a tender hearted soul. When you look into his eyes you want to cry, it's like peeking into heaven. This kid moves my soul just by breathing.

He currently has brown, white, and green bedding. I hate the green, I am sick of it and it's not a color that makes me feel or enjoy or resemble anything, much less my baby Evan. He loves the blanky, so I might have to go all white and just keep the icky green blank. Or replace it with a blue one at some point.

When I think of his room I would want to make it like a baby spa with soothing photographs in black and white of his baby hands, close-ups with his family, and his baby feet. His aunt Lisa got him a soft, floppy bunny before he was born and it's exactly the kind of feeling I want for his room. I think that fuzzy white bunny will be the focal point to work from (color, not animal theme), along with that amazing blue color of his eyes. I wish I could make his room feel like a beachy hamptons place with wooden slats halfway up the wall painted white and sand dollars all over the place.

Our Room:

I have a major project in mind of collecting photos from every trip we have been on as a couple, even back to dating years, and somehow displaying them on a wall (or across walls) in chronological order. I think for this to look good I might need to put them all into black and white with black frames, making each a different size. Too much uniform looks corporate to me, but I also don't want it to look messy and disorganized.

Living Room:

I don't want to hide the fact that we have kids, toys and kid things will be part of it somehow. I just want there to be an organized and clean way of putting things away that doesn't make it look like a preschool. It would be great to just make it all like the movie BIG, but probably not in the budget. This is where we spend most of our time as a family, so I want a large family photo up, a picture of a temple (which one?! CA, DC, AZ?), The Family Proclamation (another project to print it on cool paper/ font in mind, can I even do that?), picture of Christ. I don't think this room has many walls, so I will need to figure out which of these ends up in the hallway.

6.18.2008

too observant sometimes

I don't frequent Whole Food often. Although the quality is always there, it's too pricey. But, the Mister needs special food for his wheat allergy so I brave it once a month or so and stock up on a few unique needs I can't find anywhere else. I wish I knew enough about gourmet foods like one of my best buddies, Lindsey, to appreciate all it offers the way a true foodie does. But I don't.

Regardless, it always strikes me as an interesting crowd, no matter the geography (AZ, CT, NY, CA) it seems pretty similar. The workers are mostly young men that seem to be in their mid-twenties. They always have carefully crafted and exposed tattoos (at least 13 on each arm), well groomed nails that are cleaner than mine and the latest indie hairdo. They each look like they are members of a band on the verge of getting signed. Probably play gigs on the weekends and hold at least 4 jobs throughout the week to make ends meet. They are experts at their work post, telling you exactly where this cheese came from and how it is different than the 832 others beside it.

The shoppers are generally women in their late 40s and beyond with well-pressed khaki pants; pleats in the front. They normally have a perfectly rounded bob hairdo and the kind of purse you saw in Vogue last week. That group doesn't budge to allow you through the aisle while they spend 45 minutes reading the back of a jar and checking out the cheese boy. They glare often, are rarely friendly. They make the experience almost painful as I try to navigate around them.

I have started to see a fresh generation of young mothers. The organic thing is huge here, so maybe the young mom factor is just a west coast anomaly. I always want to take them by the hand and tell them about the more affordable choice, Trader Joe's down the block. Those moms always have the wacky cloth fabric with geometric patterns on it inside the baby seat portion of the cart. I guess shopping carts aren't organic? I love how friendly they are and our babies usually babble together for a few moments. Sometimes she is a hippie, although mostly these days she is a hipster.

Sprinkled lightly into the mix is a small assortment of men. It's like they read somewhere Whole Foods was a great place to meet women. So on they wander looking confused with one item in the cart scoping the scene, waiting for a hottie to show up. Super try-to-be preppy but still cool and tough and edgy sort of looking. It's like that whole generation of guys that wore Big Johnson shirts in the 90s with braided belts grew up and went shopping. It's always interesting to me what a contrast they are compared to those working behind the counters. I would like to see the boy shoppers and boy workers fight. Maybe have a cheese fight snowball style in the wine aisle. And in the final round: soup cans. I always walk away thinking what total pussies some of the men look like shopping there for some reason.

It's alright, though, because me? I don't fit in either. My hair is a wreck, puke stains on my shirt from the non-organic baby, I am certain one of the milk jugs sprung a leak, and the kids are messy from lunch. I am sure they wonder who let the disheveled housekeeper into Whole Foods.

What?! Didn't I say I was working on that whole judging thing?

6.17.2008

tender

I love that Evan got his father's perfect lips.

tee time




These are my most favorite shirts I have had in a long time. They are from Banana Republic. Soft, comfy, slightly form fitting, but not skin tight. The best part, it's not a V neck so when I hold my giant baby on my hip, half of my shirt doesn't melt off my body leaving me partially exposed up top.

The kid is heavy.

Shirt coverage is important.

It took me 8 months to realize this. In that time half of California has seen my favorite nursing bra, Anita brand if you must. That took me waaaaay too long to discover! Just another favorite find this year, just much less appealing and less necessary for this readership.

6.16.2008

Petra

I had a goldmine of a music referral friend once upon a time. He was an HR colleague of mine from England and had plenty of stories about how he hung out with these huge British bands I adored. He traveled to the US to compete for rugby in the 90s and him and his friends got some girls to believe they were the EMF boys (true? not true? who knows).

I enjoyed swapping cds with him and trying to get him interested in ska at the time (never happened) and he tried to talk me into loving Carter USM (couldn't do it). Although we had some rejected suggestions, my favorite find from the trades was that of The Beautiful South. It was gut-twistingly amazing vocals and musically curious to my ears. I couldn't stop listening until I knew the words to every song. Even though I was in a sappy romance high with Mike, even the sad heartbreak songs sounded magical to me. It was a former favorite band of his; he said they provided fond memories of his past. Knowing he had a wife and daughter, I still braved to ask him, "Who was she?"

All he replied with was this:

"Petra. She was the one that got away."

A brick fell in my stomach when I read that line. What perfect words to explain it. I wanted to know the story, to find out all about her and her ways and the butchering of the love. I wanted the romance novel of it, but professionally it would have been going too far. I left it at that and just kept listening to his broken hearted memories by piecing together the story; listening to the sounds bellowing into my ears from the English pop group.

*

California is going to be my Petra. It's slipping away from me too quickly. I am not done with it yet. Every sweet smelling blossom and fresh cut blade of grass, walking paths and grassy hills, tree-filled parks and summer breezes. These aromas and eye pleasing treats are a pleasure I will miss deeply. I have so many things I want to see and places to visit and not enough time. I fully plan on sending love letters to California with no return address. I wonder if the postman receiving them will read them and enjoy this splendid place a little more?

6.12.2008

where's the kid with the chemicals



All I have to say is this bar, this new Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate and PB, basically makes Reese's Peanut Butter Cups taste like a white trash neighbor with the broken car in the lawn. It's a definite yes. You must find it this and eat it immediately.
*****
So I have this great new diet. It's a guaranteed 50 extra pounds every week. I call it the Traveling Husband Junk Food Diet. You will look as hot as ever by the end of the month. And extra squeezable.

Week One: Consume as many cheeseburgers for each consecutive meal as possible without throwing up. By Thursday you might want to exclude onions, go for extra pickles. Whatever: go crazy. Be sure to do a healthy mix of change, try maybe Wendy's for lunch and perhaps Burger King for dinner. Then repeat the following day.

Week Two: The last thing you want to eat for at least three days is a burger. This is when it's crucial you spend $350 at Costco on anything you would normally not indulge in. I highly recommend their chocolate chip cookies sold in their bakery section. You might want to get two containers, the cookies are really soft and go quickly. Skip raisinets, yes to the artichoke dip varieties and for sure stock up on sugary drinks.

Week Three: Now it's time to back off a little and play it safe at a regular grocery store. Go for cookies n' cream ice cream, push-up pops, some new candy bars, etc. Movie theater size boxes of candy will be handy in case you spend some time alone watching the Lifetime channel or TLC. Hot Tamales, Goobers, Gummy Bears, and some kind of chocolate/ almond combo.

Week Four: Nothing sounds appealing except vegetables and water. Arrange for a sitter to come two to three times a week so you can go run. Make sure the oldest child is well-versed in the emergency plan. In the event you have a heart attack, they should know how to call 911 for help. Review the drill a couple of times and quiz him often.

6.11.2008

Once upon a time in Orinda



He did it, he learned to ride a skateboard today.


Was there redirecting? You bet. Was there frustration and trying again? Brilliantly YES. I was rather nervous this morning, worried he would get hurt and not completely certain this was the right year for him to go for it. I am glad I didn't cancel.


A few times he got distracted while Glenn Danzig was trying to show or tell him something. It cracked us both up. Okay probably me a whole lot more, maybe him a couple of times.


"Is that bug nice to kids?"


"Wow I like your back yard!"


"Look at THAT bug!"


"My dad's name is Mike"


"Yeah, this is my dad's skateboard"


"Wow look, a bug!"


"Why are your wheels all dirty?"


"I am getting my OWN skateboard for my birthday. It's on July 10th"


"Where are the kids at? Do you have any kids, Peter?"

My favorite distractions were the times he would blatantly walk away from Glenn Danzig and run up the ramp and slide down on his knee pads. That turned out to be his reward for trying his new *trick* a couple more times.

It was cool to see him try over and over and watch him want it. He wanted to do what he was trying and even though he would fume "I can't do it!" he would get back on the board and try again. He would lose interest after about 10-15 minutes and then take a break (potty or popsicle) before going back out to try it again. It was expected and Glenn Danzig worked well with him that way.
It was nice for me to ask Glenn Danzig questions so I could carry the teaching torch on my own. I feel fully confident in helping Zane learn his balance and just working with him on it whenever he wants. I love that I got to share something with my son that I have interest in and I can offer assistance in. I like that I can use words I know he will understand to help him learn.


He actually skated by himself before we left (see top photo), so he did what we went to do. And we ended the session when he was all done and tired, which happened to be at the 1 hour mark. He worked hard and enjoyed himself and felt super proud.

My only regret is not getting a picture of the guy who had on the Misfits T-shirt at Burger King on the way home. No joke, was it meant to be or what? I came [--this--] close to going into the restaurant to find him just for you people.

Now, who wants to help me build a ramp like this in my back yard?



video

6.10.2008

errands


So if you ever need to run to Rite Aid or Walgreens for anything, Zane is pretty much the best pal to take with you. I am pretty certain it's his favorite place to visit.

It's always so much more fun with him because he is SUPER thrilled about every single thing in every single aisle. And secretly, I am too. I love spending time there wondering why the hell they would choose to carry bicycle tires, who in their right mind would think to go there for such a need. Or happen upon this tire and remember they need one, oh say, while picking up condoms. Let's see....extra large............ribbed..................oh a tire! Might as well pick one of those up as well. Now......where are the car headlights and garden hoses?

The most random stuff e v e r. But we love it, it's fun to roam around and play with things. We usually spend about 15 minutes trying on sunglasses and sometimes bifocals if we are daring. We take turns picking out the biggest ones and then Zane sings "shake your booty woot woot shake your booty raise the roof" while he looks in the little mirror with his arms in the running position, body bent over and booty wagging side to side. I snicker and enjoy that he is still unaware that people don't really dance in stores. It makes everyone passing by smile widely.

"What's this?" always gets a thorough explanation and sometimes demonstration at Walgreens.

WELL....(as I scan to see 4 people are standing in line for a prescription- as if 15 or 45 would have changed my fun). Go ahead and put it on the ground just like so and sit on it like a chair.

O.K.

Pppppp__pp_ppp_PPPPthhh_th_thhhhhh!
{that would be a fart sound, machine-gun style}

We burst into fits of giggles until we turn pink in the face- he is laying on the floor and I am crossing my legs. Evan peeks around in his stroller totally confused, if he could talk he would say "You two need to pull yourselves together!" Then I think how funny it would be to hear that sound 4 aisles over while looking at hair spray and I start my round of giggling all over again. Zane is amazed such a thing exits and can't learn its name fast enough. Whoopee Cushion is such a hard word for a little one, we call it a toot machine while heading over to the check-out. He is so proud to carry it and can't wait to show his dad.

Oh it was the most family fun once his father got home that night! I think it for sure tops the gnomes, glasses, toy cars, walking canes, heart rate machine and for sure the old school bike horn. Which actually scared him and made him cry once, he didn't know it would be so loud when he innocently squeezed the bulb. I had a hard time not cracking up because he doesn't frighten easily and COME ON it was a bike horn.

If the other two in the family weren't so damn serious in public we would have Family Home Evening at Walgreens every Monday.

6.09.2008

F Train

Parenting is like a subway line. Maybe the F train, I liked that one the best. There is a really long tunnel the connected subway cars pass through. There are platforms (openings in the tunnel) that provide an opportunity for people to get on and off. Some people get on at the start and stay on until the end. Some people only get on for 1 stop and stay a short time on the train. Others let the train pass and wait for another. Some new passengers get on at almost every stop, in addition to some long-time riders getting off at almost every stop.

We learn to parent (and essentially be the type of person we are even if we don't have children yet or ever) by the background experiences we have had in addition to new things we learn. That includes a long line of family members we have learned some things from whether we like it or not. I have generations of women long before who probably yelled at the children for putting their fingers on the walls long before my grandmother scolded me for it in her home. Or perhaps not, perhaps that was a new one she decided to add to her toolbelt of things that were imporant to her- a clean home.

I have become the mother (and person) I am by the unbringing I had with input my parents felt was important and they gathered that from their parents providing what they thought was most important. Just like the train, each generation gets to add and ditch pieces of that based on what they think is best for their family.

It would be an intersting study to follow generations of parenting to record the common threads among each generation. I love to hear about different traditions and parenting styles carried on or changed; it is all very fascinating to me.

With this thought comes a progression of understanding I hope to remember when my children head off to start their own families. I hope I can remember they will marry women brought up differently than I was rasied, even differently than my boys will be raised. There will be some overlap, similar passengers on the train car if you will, however there will be newness I might not think is best. I might expect, as natural to us all, that my way is the best and most correct. After all, that is why we make the choices we make to raise our children- we want the absolute best for them and provide that in the priorities we determine based on our revised, new definition of that. I have to remember to trust that my boys and their wives will not be on the F train. For once they go their own ways with their own families a new train line is formed, the tracks merging from our F train and the tunnel each respective wife came from.

That is going to be hard. I will love my grandchildren and want the best for them and expect that to look like the choices I made when I was teaching my little men. But it will not be and I will have to remember that the experiences I gave my kids are theirs to take or leave along with the things their wives take or leave from their own tunnels in life. Picking up gems of advice and knowledge gained along the way blended with upbringing.

The punchline is there is no perfect collection of decisions, there is no perfect way for all families to do this. There is no one parenting template perfect for all children or all generations. So even if we somehow get it right for our boys, what's right and makes sense for them isn't entirely how it should be done for their friends or ultimately their children.

My mom never cared about fingerprints on the walls, I think she had specific things that drove her nuts as a kid and that was one of them. She probably knew from age 5 that would never be a rule in her home as a mommy. I was just thinking recently how I might bring that rule into my new home and carry on my grandma's torch of clean, fingerprintless walls. I should give her a call and find out if that was her own or a gem of generations past.

Evanezer


I am getting my obsession time in with Evan when I put him to sleep. I always love to study how he is changing, how his feet are getting some sun, the lines on his lips forming in more detail, his hands getting bigger.
He is generally super sweet, although this weekend sick + teething = Evanezer Scrooge.

Although this is detail I normally reserve for their little loveletters on their private blog, I had to be proud of myself for taking a chance and getting some sleep photos of this kiddo. The toes poking out of the blanket TOTALLY made this attempt worth the chance of him waking up. I have countless sleep photos of Zane as a baby and they are some of my favorite, but too few of Evan.
And though the quality of these shots is usually on the weak side, they are samples of the more precious moments I have as a mother. Watching them sleep is normally prime time to reflect on who they are and where they came from and what rich blessings they are in my life.
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