Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Seven minutes

Ten days ago we had a 40th birthday party for my husband. There were no kids and lots of drinks and food. So, here on my counter are the final remnants - twenty or so beers just waiting patiently to be put away in the cabinet. And, I walk past this collection I don't know how many times a day yet they remain untouched. I'm not blaming my husband because men aren't wired to notice these sort of things. If he does see the beer, then I think he might think that I have plans for the beers and doesn't want to mess with my intentions. The beers simply sit there because putting them away means standing on a step stool and cleaning out the high cabinet that contains our overflowing unorganized supply of sodas, juice, beer, etc., and standing on this step stool and doing that sort of work just has no appeal whatsoever. Fortunately, after I took this picture, I got inspired and took the huge step of tackling the cabinet and the beers. And it took a whole seven minutes. This was hardly worth the ten days of being annoyed with myself. Yep, seven minutes.

Tell me why I start packing up the Christmas decorations the morning after Christmas, yet some things, okay many things that desperately need attention collect dust day after day. Maybe it's something about the post-holiday itch to de-clutter, organize, clean, and take care of the current year before we enter into a new one that's got me thinking. I know I'm not alone in this because, without fail, the stores put the well-stocked plastic bins and organizer items on full front display the day after Christmas, much like the new swim suits in January. Clever!

I've noticed for the most part, this is mainly a female urge and we are usually the only ones bothered by the dreaded piles and various out-of-place objects. My friend goes out of her mind over her husband's complete lack of tidiness, especially when he routinely leaves used paper towels randomly scattered around the house. She even tested him once by leaving his used coffee cup on a living room end table and it sat there so long it started to get moldy. Did he think she was doing a science experiment or did he even notice it was there? I'm voting for the latter.

But, if it's our own neurosis, is it fair to get so irritated about it all? Well, ya, I think so. I pity the frustrated wife who cringes at the Christmas lights still up on the house in May. What if the paper towels never went in the trash and six months go by of daily dirty paper towel accumulation and their house would be floor to ceiling unsanitary fire hazard trash! If I never put away the beer, then eventually Jason would drink it all - no harm, right? Well, then we all might as well keep all of our non-perishable food on the counter, laundry unfolded on the couch, dishes in the drainer, toys scattered everywhere, and lights up all year. Simple and convenient? Yes! Unsightly, embarrassing, and sloppy? Yes, too!

So, as I smile at my newly beer-free counter, I relish the moment, and then quickly make a list of all the other things needing my attention: the crayons all over the kitchen table, the pile of left-over holiday chocolate and sweets, and the now full Christmas decoration boxes needing to be moved into the garage. Perhaps I should grab the chocolate and sit down at the table and eat it while drawing some pictures with my kids. Besides, the boxes are way too heavy for me to carry all the way out to the garage. I'll remind my man about it...next year...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best laid plans...ho ho sniffle ho...

I had visions of my sweet sister-in-law, McKenzie, as a house guest for three weeks - tons of time out with the girlfriends, manicures, read a few books, and that doesn't even include the loads of fun the kids will enjoy like crafts, cookies, and the likes. Dun dun dun. Not! There was gift shopping, birthday party preparing and recovering, cold rain, and being sick practically the whole month. Don't get me wrong, I'm getting a taste of the "nanny" good life, having someone here so I can run a quick errand and to read to the kids while I prepare dinner. But, it's not exactly what I envisioned. Life is busy and chaotic in December!

I also know it could be much much worse. My friend has her mother-in-law staying with her and she's literally nuts, following her into the bathroom incessantly talking, being mean and critical, and suffering from what we think is dementia although she thinks she's totally fine (even though she forgets to shower or wash her clothes). Yes, could be worse.

But, it's hard when your expectations fall short, way short. Perhaps plans to visit all of our favorite spots that we greatly miss now that the kids are in school can be scaled back to include one of them instead? And that's okay, I guess. Maybe I was simply being unrealistic. But, it's still hard to ignore the Super Mom guilt - must provide a constant rich and diverse childhood and having the kids watch tv all day is not what I consider worthy of the super cape.

I think it would be a good idea to change my thinking to save my sanity. Instead of regretting all the fabulous things that we are not doing, it would be better served being happy with what we are doing. The kids are getting in some much needed creative imagination time (it's limited with school and all), spending down time with the very cuddly Auntie McKenzie, watching for the first time some classic stop-motion (slightly weird) holiday movies from my childhood, and having an impromptu "snow" party indoors. In fact, I'm not hearing any complaints, except for the conflicts in my head. Or is that the 100.0 fever?

Hopefully next week we will hit the town with all of our pent up energy ready to have some fun. Can you say two little volcanoes ready to explode? Maybe everyone will be done with being sick and the warm sun will shine brightly to melt away our December blahs. Hey, I feel a little less snuffly and a bit warmer just thinking about that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Girl talk

Like I said, I'm missing the comfort of my girlfriends with all the craziness of December, and although I'm thrilled about a scheduled on the calendar set-in-stone breakfast date at 9:25 a.m. sharp tomorrow with two fabulous friends rain or shine, I'm also reminded of the stimulating conversations just waiting to happen with the other main female in the house, my very Leo daughter. Ya, not quite like the soul rejuvenating estrogen filled and honest convos with the ladies, but I also appreciate the five year old girl mind in all it's splendor. Oh, and ever since Quinn announced he has a loose tooth, she has one again, too. Of course, sooo typical of my girl...can't be out done...must always be the leader or else! After a horrible commute in the omg! monsoon rain and a crazy busy frustrating day at work with no lunch break, here is what greeted me at home:

Me: "How was school today?"
Talia: "I quit the club."
Me: "You quite the Hey Girls Club?"
Talia: "Ya."
Me: "Why?"
Talia: "I was sooo not happy with Zoe being the leader and telling me what to do all the time! I hate that! It's sooooo annoyyyying!"
Me: "What did you say when you quit?"
Talia: "I said 'I quit'".
Me: "Well, maybe next time or even tomorrow you can try to work out a better way, like having a democracy or multiple leaders? Compromise is really good. It's a shame to just quit like that."
Talia: "No, it wasn't working for me. I don't like being told what to do."
Me: "Yes, I know that. And, I'm glad you spoke your mind. That's really good."
Talia: "Oh, remember how our whole school voted for Obama except for me and Zoe 'cause we voted for the other guy and Obama won because of our school?"
Me: "Uh huh."
Talia: "Yep, our school is soooo awesome."

Enduring? Yes.

Will I throw in a bunch of curse words and talk of dildos tomorrow over coffee tomorrow? You betcha, with extra whipped cream and a cherry on top. I'm so like totally overdue.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

R2 meets the snow

"Aaah, what a view from my hotel room. I wonder what adventure awaits..."
From his vantage point it was nothing but snow, trees, and quiet...too quiet for his comfort.
"I wanted to experience snow but no one told me it would freeze my circuits!"
After a busy day in the snow, R2 is more than ready for some hot food and lively beverage.

Wait, the room is spinning....should...have...stopped...at...one martini....

aaaand down for the count. Who ordered all those Patron shots??

After a long day...and wild night that R2 mostly remembers, it's time to hit the road and go home.

Friday, December 12, 2008

December aka the Busy Month

It's inevitable. December gets crazy. It feels like I barely keep my head above water trying to keep track of the "to do" list(s), events, parties, traffic, shopping, holiday cards, prepping, writing lists, baking, etc. I am not one of those remarkable people that finish their shopping in September (do those people actually exist or is it legend?), but more like one who picks up a few inspired gifts here and there, but usually shops the most a week or so before. Yes, I'm that stressed out person buying wine in my party attire on the way to the party.

It's also hard when my husband and mom both have birthdays in late December, so I have to figure out two gifts each for two of my favorite people. My husband is mostly a mystery when it comes to what to buy him and I often buy something that I think is especially cool only to have it never used, like an entire set of harmonicas with an amp or an espresso maker. He always manages to know the perfect thoughtful gift to get me and that's thoroughly annoying and I’m, well, okay, jealous. Have I bought anything for him this year? Nope, not yet, mainly because I have absolutely no idea what to buy and I am totally stressing about that and feel like a horrible wife. Oh ya, December is also the month for feeling blue…and way too much sugar, which doesn’t help one bit.

Besides the stress of being nowhere remotely finished with shopping (this year the list suddenly got much bigger by the way), I've barely seen any of my close friends all month and that's yet another thing to feel awful about. I actually had a dream last night that I moved to a new city and had zero friends and was really depressed and getting desperate (or was that déjà vu?). I know we are all dealing with sick kids or we are sick ourselves, busy schedules, houseguests, etc., but I'm still not feeling good about it. I miss the little things like our weekly breakfasts, playdates, and pasta/wine dinners. My routine becomes so un-routine that I lose track of the things that keep me mentally stable and happy, like the gym, eating right, getting enough rest, and especially my friends (aka support system). I get so busy that I start to shut down and just want to hibernate and I know from past experience that’s not a good thing. Oh, and my kids pick up on that fact because they are big on routine, too, and sensitive to my moods, and start acting weird like me, then I act weird in reaction to that, and then we all get on each other’s nerves. Fun stuff.

While I have no one to blame but myself for my lack of effort, I still think I can write off most of current angst to the crazy month of December. After I recover from my usual I’ve-been-too-busy-and-stressed-to-take-care-of-myself usual sickness on Christmas day, I vow to make January the month of getting back to the really good stuff like yoga class and bagels on Tuesday. For now, I must get back to hunting down addresses for sending out those final holiday cards and deciding between either massage slippers or that whatchamacallit tool thingy for my husband. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Solo in the snow

At the last minute, my friend and usual traveling companion for my much anticipated fun weekend getaway to the far away snow tearfully cancelled due to an upper respiratory infection. Damn. I was upset. Not at her because it wasn't her fault, but at the change of plans...and being forced to go alone. Damn. But, you know, turns out it wasn't such a bad thing after all. Kind of, cosmic meant to be actually. Do you know how many times I've fantasized about driving away, all by myself, checking into a cheap hotel, and leaving all my worries and responsibilities (kids) behind for a few days? Countless times. I was determined to find out if I had what it takes - would I be miserable and lonely and leave that crazy dream behind once and for all or would I love it like I always imagined?

Along with the usual items like deodorant and underwear, I packed my best bottle of red, one wine glass, my favorite chocolate lacey cookies, and my iPod with a freshly downloaded audiobook of the perfectly chosen The Nanny Diaries. The five hour drive wasn't too horrible - it was mostly dark which I didn't like, lots of cops, but the book was engaging and funny....and...it was just me. Aaah.

The newly built hotel in Mammoth was perfect, the room was huge, the bed was heavenly, the view from my balcony was of pine trees and mountains, and Lifetime had a whole slate of cheesy holiday girl-has-man-girl-loses-man-girl-gets-new-cuter-man movies continuously playing all...weekend...long. Yes!
Instead of skiing like many of my work friends that were there, I savor a slow breakfast of a latte and a yummy goat cheese spinach egg scramble, quiet drives through the mountains oohing and aaahing over the scenery and snow, and a victorious quest for a Santa to add to my collection, the discovery of a feared lost R2D2 behind my son's car seat (what luck! pictures to follow...), and a luxurious afternoon nap (I was sleepy therefore I slept). That night I do Patron shots and dance. Yes, me, dance. I haven't danced in decades and it was fun and long overdue.

The next and final day, I enjoy another excellent breakfast at the hotel, pack it up, and slowly head home so I can see my kids before bedtime. I think about the peacefulness and solitude I experienced. I relish it and smile. Even if I'm home and the kids are in school, I still hear cars, airplanes, and the voices in my head telling me I should be doing something productive like laundry, conquering the piles of paper, or work. But, all I hear when I'm walking through the snow covered mountain, alone, is the birds and the quiet. It makes me think a lot, but not in a crazy stressed out way. Instead I think about and appreciate the good things in my life - my wonderful husband who encourages me to be me, my healthy kids, and the too numerous to count blessings. Funny how being away makes you feel closer to what you left behind. You get a lot of perspective from detaching. It should be mandatory for us all at least once a month, don't you think?

So, I'm on the freeway off ramp near my home, and my iPod starts making static, so I turn off the audiobook, and push the preset button for my favorite radio station. U2's Bad (live version) blasts through my speakers. This is one of my favorite songs of all time...ever. I get chocked up, then the tears start flowing. I pull over and let the tears pour down my face as I'm smiling. I made it! I was okay! I was brave and drove all that way all by myself and had a great time and experienced many peaceful almost spiritual moments. I feel like I'm in a movie and the soundtrack is blaring the perfect song for the pivotal scene. What an amazing end to my solo adventure.
"This desperation
In temptation
Let it go
And so fade away
To let it go
And so fade away
I'm wide awake
Wide awake and not sleeping..." (Bad, U2)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grilled cheese and Kyle

Today I had a friend lunch date that was a no-show due to total miscommunication (damn email!), a newly very assertive son who is pushing all of my patience buttons (it's a good thing, but damn it wears on my nerves), a husband stuck at a serious hazardous materials spill until who knows when, the reality that my weekend getaway traveling partner is probably too sick to travel tomorrow, and to top it off I've had a frustrating blogger block for over a week. What an off day for sure. Once the kids are soundly asleep in bed, I make a comfort meal for myself and surrender. I put together a dinner of a grilled Colby jack cheese sandwich on yummy french bread, fancy sweet potato chips, and a glass of a $7 bottle Cabernet. I curl up on the couch and start watching a two week old Tivo'd episode of Friday Night Lights, and mentally attempt let it all go while I eat the delicious crunchy gooey goodness of my comfort meal, sip down my wine savoring the aaaaaah moment, smile at the sight of my man Kyle Chandler on the tv, put down my plate to give my coughing kid some Motrin so he will go back to sleep, then back to the couch to finish my much deserved albeit slightly colder meal.

Could it have been any more perfect? Yes, of course. Sourdough makes the best grilled cheese ever, maybe with a variety of three or four tasty gourmet cheeses with some fresh cut beefsteak tomatoes from my summer garden, seasoned thick fries, and a $100 bottle of wine. But, you know, it was perfect for the moment, and here I am writing, finally, and feeling not so blah after all. I don't expect my sick friend to miraculously recover or my husband to suddenly come home and give me a foot rub while cleaning the dirty house. It does feel good to be a woman who knows what it takes for me to make my tired soul feel a little bit better all by myself. And, knowing that I have a stash of excess advent calendar chocolate candy that I'm going to raid really helps, too. I'll deal with tomorrow...tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Packing list

Over a week ago when I was packing up me and the kids to escape to the beach from the intense smoke, I had a conversation with Jason before leaving. Since he was staying home, we talked about "if we had to evacuate our home, what would you pack in the car". We've never really talked about this before and I think I just needed peace of mind knowing that he knew what I valued most.

Here is my list:

- Our computer (pictures and files)
- Wedding album, childhood photo albums (kids albums when I get around to doing them)
- the painting we brought back from Tuscany, Italy (every time I look at it I remember our
fabulous (pre-kids) trip)
- my box of Santas (if possible, I buy one on every vacation and mark the bottom with place
and date - it's a trip down memory lane every Christmas and I love them)
- my favorite pair of jeans, that is, if I'm not wearing them (hey, it's hard to find a great pair)
- my jewelry (trust me, I don't have anything fancy)
- my Canon camera

And, that is it. Talia says she wants her snuggle, and Quinn wants his legos. Jason says the computer, wedding album, and then shrugs when I ask if there is anything else. Ya, he's simple that way.

I attended my kid's school assembly yesterday, and each class took turns going on stage presenting and saying what they were thankful for in their life. The #1 thing was their family and friends ("I'm thankful for my mom and dad 'cause they made me"), then the earth, their home, being alive, and food. Not one student mentioned their Wii or big screen television or iPod. What meant the most to them is the basics - the same things that kids around the world value every day. Yes, yes, being the big sap that I am now, I got a little choked up and felt all warm and fuzzy. What a great start to the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Today Quinn said that we "haaaave to have a special breakfast today since it's a holiday and all" and I said "how about popovers?" and I got a big "YES!" and a reminder that "you made those for us on our first day of school ya know". I'm thankful that my grandma Ruth made those for me every New Year's Day morning while we watched the Rose Parade. I'm grateful to her for starting that tradition and making me feel so special, and now that I'm a mom I choose to make them not just one day a year, but for the important occasions. And, every time I bite into that hot steamy soft crunchy goodness I smile and thank her and am happy to carry on that extra special yummy tradition...and my kids are mighty thankful, too.

Late night conversation

Quinn: "What do you call a heart that kisses a smoke detector?"
Me: "Gee, I don't know?"
Quinn: "Smart!" (get it? smoke + heart...ha ha ha)

Talia: "Zoe calls me 'Hey Girl'."
Me: "She calls you 'Hey Girl'?"
Talia: "That's our secret club called the Hey Girls and we aren't allowed to tell anyone where it meets."
Me: "Who's in the club?"
Talia: "Zoe, me, Sofia, and Elise, but Elise isn't coming back for twenty days."
Me: "What do you talk about?"
Talia: "Mostly, like, girlish stuff. It's so cool and secret."

Aaah, the difference between boys and girls is quite striking, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Real Housewife of Granada Hills

I've been sick. It was inevitable with two sick kids and continuous lack of sleep due to lots of nighttime coughing. Thanks to a helpful and healthy husband, I spent all day Saturday in bed alone watching tv. Waaay too much tv. Like I haven't been feeling that my appearance is blah and boring enough lately (yes, I'm in a rut), but watching these perfectly refined women doesn't help things. I caught up on six past episodes of Ugly Betty and totally related to her, thinking "that's how I'm seeing myself lately - frizzy and out of touch with fashion". Okay, granted I don't wear loud plaids and flowers with socks and pumps, but my hair is looking pretty unruly and my wardrobe feels outdated and frumpy. Of course it's unrealistic to think that I'll ever look remotely as fabulous as Vanessa William's character on Betty or Debra Messing's Molly on the Starter Wife with shiny curls and amazing wardrobe because real people don't like that! But, it didn't help things that I got sucked into a marathon of Real Housewives of Atlanta (shhh! please don't tell anyone). Okay, granted, these women have personal chiefs at their disposal, professional athlete husbands, huge mansions, and no limits on their credit cards, but I've never seen such beautiful perfect hair in my life and they even wear fake eyelashes and perfect makeup to a "casual" lunch date. That's not real, right? Please tell me the "reality" show brings in makeup and wardrobe people. Granted, they are totally superficial and catty and always fighting, but that's not the point. It messes with my stuffy head!

The more fluffy tv I watch, the more I start to get an unrealistic perception of reality and feel less and less okay with myself. The message is that if I have shiny hair, no glasses, hip clothes, a tan, and big boobs then I will feel sexy and fabulous. I know. I know. That all comes from within and your inner beauty and confidence is what matters, because that's why we like beautiful Betty. But, when I'm in a stuffy yucky feeling miserable state of mind watching beautiful people all day, I just can't help it . I have to remind myself that Wilhelmina character on Betty is ruthless, evil, and terribly lonely, Rebecca Romijn is,well, just naturally blessed, and the Atlanta girls never seem satisfied and treat each other like crap.

I went to dinner the other night with some new mom friends from school. There was me - feeling blah and boring, with blemishes on my forehead, dark roots, and barely able to keep up with the lively and personal (and a bit raunchy) conversation with these confident (I'm sure never self conscious - ha ha ha) sexy women. They were held very little back and seemed so happy be out of the house, free to relate and be uninhibited in safe female company. They even talked orgasms and foreplay with the more than happy young male waiter! It was a bit intimidating, but also exhilarating. Honestly, I know we all have our insecurities and times in our lives when we feel less than spectacular. The things that we talked about that night are the same challenges that we all face as women, wives, mothers, friends, etc. And, I have to think, if I lived the lives of those Atlanta housewives, wouldn't I be more self conscious than I am now? When you place so much value on appearances, are you constantly worried about not looking perfect or keeping up with the latest and greatest? That's a lot of work and energy! Those women may have perfect hair and stylish wardrobes, but nothing about them made me want to be their friend. Ya, maybe I should start caring a little more about how I look and shopping less at Target for my wardrobe. I get that sometimes we all need a little shake-up in our appearance and style, but I also have to be okay with me regardless of how I look. Experiencing the magic of a great night out with friends, relating and laughing and being honest, that's better than diamond bangles and perfectly manicured nails. That's real life and I feel rich for it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Personal buckets

I think it's the kindergarten age or something, but tattling is a big issue right now. My kids definitely like structure and knowing what the rules are, which leads to them noticing when fellow classmates aren't following them. Even before Talia and Quinn started school, we attempted to steer them away from tattling on each other, constantly telling them to "use their words" and to work out a compromise before coming to us. But, I still hear things like "Quinn is in my waaaaay!" and "Talia is looking at meeeee!". It's a constant work in progress. Sigh.

As part of the tattletale education and aversion therapy, I ordered a few books. One is Tattlin' Madeline, and the other one, and my favorite is called Have you Filled a Bucket Today - A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. Now, I know it sounds like a cheesy kid self-help book, but it's actually really good. The book is based on a concept called bucketfilling and the idea is that we are all born with an invisible "bucket" and carry it around with us. According to the book, the purpose of the bucket is to "hold your good thoughts and good feelings about yourself" and you are happy when it's full and sad when it's empty. You fill yours and other buckets by making people feel special and by doing nice things. A bucket dipper "says or does mean things that make others feel bad", thus dipping into your bucket and theirs. I love that it teaches you to feel positive about doing good deeds for others and to think twice before doing something mean, ultimately making one more aware of how you affect others, good or bad.

Now that my little learners understand how being a tattletale dips into buckets and can lead to losing friends, they hardly tattle tale at all now, or so they tell me. But, humm, they now notice how often other kids still tattle and how annoying and hurtful it is. Funny how that happens and it is one of the most powerful tools - having the tables turned on you and realizing how lousy it feels.

As usual, my kids always have something to teach me. While I'm reinforcing the personal bucket idea to them, it also makes me think about mine. I don't really like psychobabble, but it's an interesting concept and makes sense. I love the idea that it's not about doing grand gestures and saving the world, but more about doing (or not doing) little things. Telling someone they look pretty can go a long way - showing that we notice them and giving them a smile (fill + fill). It can even be as simple as looking the sales clerk in the eyes (filling) instead of talking on the cell phone the whole transaction (dipping). Or, my husband turning on the outside light for me when I'm out late (filling) or when I forget to kiss him goodnight (dip dip). While my kids were in their gym class yesterday, the most annoying mom ever was bragging loudly to her loyal followers (and the whole room) about her big audition for a new mommy show on the Food Network. She like said like oh my god like more times than I can like count and if I was forced to watch her on tv it would be like going to a Neil Young concert - yes, sheer torture. But, her "fans" seem to love her and she's probably like totally a great cook and like a fun friend, and while I had bucket dipping visions of pushing her off the highest balance beam, I chose to wish her good luck in my head, put in my iPod headphones, and concentrate on my Body and Soul magazine instead. Wait, where was I going with this...oh ya, buckets.

I wonder if as we get older, we add more buckets like we do hats, like our marriage bucket, friend bucket, employee bucket, parent bucket, etc. If we spend too much effort on keeping our work bucket full do we dip into our family one? If our parent bucket gets depleted after a rough day with the kids, do we have anything left in us to help keep our marriage bucket full? If we neglect a friend and the friendship buckets stay empty too long can they ever be filled again? Are there some people that simply lack the gene to understand this concept, like emotional vampires? Uh oh, my head is starting to spin. I'm thinking too much about this. Anyway, start fillin' those buckets and please have a lovely and meaningful day. I like totally mean it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beach escape pictures

There we are, breathing in the delicious fresh air and watching the Montecito fire from a far. Thank goodness Oprah's dogs are safe at the Four Seasons Hotel. Whew!

Mostly blue skies and lots of surfers.

Only a few hours later and the sky is orange/brown from the new fires to the east of us. The strange light looks like I'm wearing brown shaded sunglasses.

My thoughts are with the firefighters, evacuees, and those that lost their homes. So so sad.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Return of the smoke and the beach

We wake up this morning to Quinn saying "It smells like a candle burning in here" and we think, umm, that's not a candle and that can't be the Montecito fire an hour away. So, we turn on the tv and see the BREAKING NEWS!!!! that a new fire is burning a few miles north of our home. We go through our regular morning routine, but quickly realize that the smoke is becoming stronger and stronger and I'm starting to have a tight chest and maybe it's not such a good idea for us to stay here. And, then my mom calls saying she's worried about our health, so that just confirms my thoughts - time to book a hotel by the beach and get out of here. I know, I know, not so horrible to stay in beautiful Manhattan Beach for the day and night - didn't take much convincing. Ya, in fact, I'm looking forward to a change of scenery and a chance to revisit my beloved South Bay area. 

The $109 3-bed-suite at the new beach close hotel is perfect (and a total deal), so we check in, bounce off the walls with excitement, drive mommy crazy, then head for the beach. As we walk downhill toward the pier, I take in a big whiff of fabulous fresh ocean air and I actually get choked up a bit. "Damn, I really needed this" I think to myself. I've gone out of my mind crazy pressured with work and the routine of the day-to-day stuff and have barely had a life. I really miss the beach. I keep inhaling the familiar salty air and smile as we walk to the end of the pier and back. I try to not be too self conscious in my old jeans and t-shirt over my pale body but I can't help it while surrounded by bronzed shirtless young local hunks and cute tan tank top wearing boobs jiggling no cellulite cute 20-something women. Boy, do I feel like such a haggard old fart mom from the Valley.

After a yummy lunch of crepes with the out of control aliens that look a lot like my children but can't possibly be because they are so obnoxious, we take a drive to scout the changes in my old neighborhood. First stop, my old apartment building where I lived with crazy paranoid never washed her sheets for a whole year roommate #1, then crazy breakup with same abusive boyfriend from hell every week then make very loud make-up sex noises the next week roommate #2, then finally my #1 husband (yea! the end of roommates!). On to the great breakfast restaurant where I got engaged, only Unky Roys is now a sushi place (I'm crushed!), then off to one of my favorite stores called Mulberry Cottage that is thankfully still open (yes!!!). I always loved it because they sell neat Christmas stuff all year and I collect Santas and I bought one of my first Santas there oh so many years ago. So, of course I have to indulge and purchase a great Santa to mark the occasion, then drive back to the hotel along PCH and gasp at both the many changes and steadfast institutions that still remain. 

So, as I sit here at the hotel room desk, sipping from my water glass of Smoking Loon Cabernet and nibbling on my Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate Marzipan (they were out of the butter biscuit one damn them!!), oh, and listening to my waaaaay overtired alien children not sleeping, I'm thinking that today is one of the most interesting days I've had in a while. I am so grateful that our home was not in danger from the firestorm and that I have the means to stay at a hotel far away from the smoke for the night. But, it is really odd to come back to the town where I lived during my mostly single years of barely getting by financially and with hardly any friends, but yet feeling so free and happy. I'm here in this familiar place that seems to have changed so much since I've been gone, but yet I come here with a totally new life, too. The worries that I had all those years ago are so different from the worries today. Honestly, I wish that I still lived here by the beach, but my real roots are back in the smokey Valley. My husband is there, my closest friends, my mom, my family, my home, my kid's great charter school, and my favorite restaurants. Sure, I was happy at the beach with the 359 days of perfect weather and laid back lifestyle, but you just can't put a price on being surrounded by loved ones and the feeling of being home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wonder Woman meets the peacocks

Yep, that's Quinn peeking through an amazing "house" built from trees and limbs and sticks all sculpted into this multi-room imaginative wonderland. The picture doesn't do it justice. We found it during our Veteran's day holiday visit to the wonderful LA Arboretum, one of those hidden treasures in the concrete jungle, where you are surrounded by free roaming peacocks and well kept flora and fauna. It's a real gem. They filmed a ton of shows there, including Tarzan movies, On the Road to...movies, Notorious, Lassie, Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman, Love Boat, Buck Rogers, and of course, Fantasy Island! Da Plane! Da Plane! And, to be there with my former co-op partner and close friend and her cute-as-can-be girls made the day even extra special.

For the majority of people, this place is reserved for a weekend or holiday excursion, but for us stay-at-home moms, this was part of our rotation of possible common weekday activities. So, this visit during the week felt normal, but also a reminder of how much our lives have changed since our kids started school. I step more and more out of my comfort zone as the kids get older (and I totally struggle with that), so it's nice to go back to something that feels so comfortable and simple. It was obvious that the kids appreciated it, too, because they were extra exuberant, wild, loud, and smiley. It was like their souls were crying out for freedom to explore and to be young unrestrained spirits, free to climb trees, chase peacocks, and get dirty. They are expected to be so contained during the long school day - following rules, learning social skills and expectations, making/keeping friends, and all this while learning their abc's and numbers.

It's the same for me. Not only do I have the typical responsibilities of work, spouse, family, friends, children, school, etc., but I also place a ton of expectations on myself as well, and if I don't give myself a break once in a while, I also go a bit crazy or blue. While I don't exactly climb trees and roll down hills for a stress release, although I should, I also need my own version of escape or I start to slowly lose my mind and myself. I guess we are all constantly discovering what really makes us happy, and sadly some of us never find that no matter how hard we try. I do know it has to come from within us and we cannot depend on anyone for our happiness. But damn, a good laugh over a glass of wine and pasta with a close friend or a sweet soul-to-soul conversation with my man sure does help. Some days I just have to be content with watching my kids giggle and run and not ask myself "what's in it for me?", and that's okay. Usually happy kids make happy parents and sometimes the best feelings happen when you let go and simply enjoy the moment.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Like your new spaceship R2?

"Actually once the rocket propellers are calibrated you use the injector module to generate the anti-matter which elevates the hyper-frequency to the exact specifications of the electron diamatrix."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Ugh, okay. Some days are smooth, uneventful, and unmemorable, or some days are insightful, social, and productive, and other days like today...they just never get off the ground. I should be all yea! yea! yea! Obama did it! we are moving forward! and floating on a happy cloud. But alas, a series of meltdowns this morning, the cold mean wind, early daylight savings risers, and a @#$%!* seat belt. I stood outside in the freezing wind trying to unlock a locked seat belt for Talia and the f@#$* piece of sh!@ would not budge and I swear it took fifty minutes and a lot of frustration and an embarrassing mommy-losing-it-moment to finally get it unlocked. Then once at school, I noticed an increased amount of parents standing around talking all jovial and energized wanting to share and relate about the historic events of the day before. The only thing I want to do is drop them off, race home, make a loaf of bread, eat the whole loaf of bread and Halloween candy, and shop on Etsy. But, my daydream is interrupted by Quinn saying "My shoes are too big and don't fit my feet!". Of course. These are the new shoes that he wore yesterday without incident, but today he's wearing a thinner sock and now they are like clogs on him. Silly me for thinking that I could get away with jumping from the now tight fitting size 12 to the size 1 shoe I stored away in his closet. Unable to do anything about it I say "There is nothing I can do about it now. I'm sorry. Have a fun day. Bye.". I image him running across the playground at lunch, tripping on his way too big shoes, smashing his face, breaking his nose, and everyone blaming me for the lapse of mommy judgement on over sized shoes and the doctors tisking their finger at me scolding "What were you thinking you horrible mother?!".

My plan for the day is to go home, put the bread ingredients in the breadmaker, go to Ross for a new pair of appropriate size 13 shoes, then to TJ's for badly needed food supplies (I am out of wine!), home to a divine lunch of freshly baked bread, then work for three straight hours. I find the shoes, plus a pretty long cardigan sweater that called to me, and I walk over to get in line...dun dun dun...it's 37 sad looking people deep! AAAGH! I put my carefully picked items back, go to TJ's instead, then go back to Ross 45 minutes later where there was now no line (victory at last!!!), grab the shoes, grab the sweater, go to the front of the store and !@#$%* the line is now as long as before when I left the first time! So, now I've invested way too much time and there is no way I can leave now, so I suck it up and wait in line. Do you know how badly I wanted to curse out the cashier when I finally made it up to her? I swipe my card, force a smile, and leave.

As we are driving home from their gym class this afternoon (where I scored the glorious single plastic seat in the back away from the crammed overcrowded loud seating area), the kids notice some stores displaying holiday lights on the outside. "Oooh! Look at that store! Ooooh! How pretty! I love it mommy look look!" until we sit in traffic and slowly drove past an adult oriented store with window mannequins wearing lace and leather and of course, that store had lights and Talia was all "Oooh, look at the lights on that sto............" and .... total silence. I quickly chime in "Oooh, look at those cement trucks!" recovering from the awkward moment and turn on the radio. This song comes on and Quinn says "Turn it up. What band is that?" and I say "Um, not sure" and Quinn asks "Is 'Not Sure' the name of the band?" and he starts cracking up and I start cracking up and I reach for those long legs of his and tickle him and we all laugh harder. I don't need the bread or the wine to make me feel better (although it is helpful, I won't deny that) - just my kid cracking a joke and making me laugh. So, I crank up "Troublemaker" by Weezer and sing this great song all the way home..."I'm a troublemaker. Never been a faker. Doing things my own way and never giving up...."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Future voters

Yesterday, Talia asked “Mommy, how long until we get to vote?” to which I replied “Only two more days and I’m sooo excited”. Or course my kids don’t actually vote, but I’ve always included them in the process ever since they were three months old when I loaded them in the double-stroller and proudly walked us to our local polling place. Being a new (exhausted) mom, I could easily vote by absentee ballot, but I needed the exercise and excuse to get out of the house, plus I have a much grander purpose. I want them to grow up voting with me so the idea would be ingrained – you vote when it’s time to vote. No excuses. It’s something that makes you proud and you must honor that hard fought right. Oh, and, it’s fun and exciting. They've worn "I voted" stickers from every election since then.

I make a point to never discuss the specific issues or candidates in front of them. Right now, they don’t need to know about why the world is a scary place, why we are all worried, and who we think/hope/pray will best lead us toward positive change. I don’t want them to be concerned about the current screwed up wars, rising unemployment, financial market instability, threat of higher taxes and less services (more cuts to their already lean public school budget), people losing their homes in droves to foreclosure, etc.. They are too young to be scared about that - let them keep building forts and drawing rainbows for now. I do want them to know that I am voting for a new president of the United States, a very important job that’s like the principal of their school, only on a much larger scale – bigger than the mayor and even the governor of California.

As I take them to vote with me through the coming years, the elections will take on new meaning for us. They will express more curiosity and questions. I’ll be able to discuss more details about the issues and encourage them to develop their own opinions about the issues. I don’t necessarily want them to believe my same political/social views (one can only hope), but I just want them to appreciate the democratic process and the importance of voting. I think about the fact that in 1918 when my late grandmother Ruth was born, women were not allowed to vote (that came 2 years later). I cannot imagine my husband being allowed to vote but not me or any fellow moms, my male co-workers voicing their will for our future but not me or my female co-workers, or the naive 18 year-old male high school graduate casting his vote but not me with all my 37 years of wisdom.

Ya, so, my kids don’t remember strolling up to the voting booth with me as newborns. But, that less than five minute act of inking the election ballot is significant and important. It was the first “small” step in a series of ever growing bigger and bigger steps toward their enthusiastic participation in our country’s democracy and future. My grandma Ruth would be so proud of me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Carving pumpkins

As an adult, I've always sort of dreaded Halloween. I'm not completely sure why since there was no major traumatic event, but I think once I grew out of it as a kid, it never came back to me. In my early twenties, it was more about people dressing trampy and getting drunk, and I wasn't interested in that whole idea, well, mostly. In my late twenties early thirties I didn't really do much of anything on Halloween because a. lack of friends = lack of parties, b. I just wasn't into it, and c. I realized that was okay because most people don't go to fabulous parties in big mansions like on the soap operas, but stay home. So, now that I'm a mom, I really can't ignore the "holiday" anymore, which means getting out of my comfort zone and having fun through my kids, because they LOVE IT!

It's been a slow process for me. We get them costumes every year, but only last year at four did we take them trick-or-treating because they were all "what is trick-or-treating and we HAVE TO DO THAT mommy please please pretty please!?". I want to avoid having my kids resent me as adults because they never got to trick-or-treat. So, this year I managed to get much more into the fun, shopping months ahead at thrift stores for costume attire, going to hear Halloween stories at the Will Geer (that was a no-brainer), pre-Halloween party last weekend, carving pumpkins (well, we do that every year because I love the feel of slimy seeds), two parties Halloween night which included the now mandatory trick-or-treating, and candy eating on the late drive home (double duty on my mommy comfort zone).

I like that when we arrived at a new classmates home for the first party, Talia and Quinn immediately started running around and laughing and making it fun for everyone and getting the party started. I like that they didn't cling to my legs in fear, but smiled and dove right in to the spirit of the party. I like that my kids are not the wild destructors kicking down decorations but the gigglers and good friends.

Of course, we are paying the price today from lack of sleep with cranky tired meltdown over anything kids. And, how do you explain what a vampire is to a five year old? On the upside, it's daylight savings tonight and dark and rainy outside - that's all good for sleep. And, they are also extra playful, helping construct a huge living room haunted house fort (it's dark in the living room because they want it "spooky"). We also have lots of yummy sugary treats to bribe them with and some new neat dress up clothes.

As far as me, I'm stepping out of my mommy comfort zone slowly and doing just fine, but it still takes a conscious effort. It's important and I know it. Some things that matter at two don't matter as much now. Sometimes it's about lasting memories and bonds that overrule a 7pm bedtime. Now, you won't see me going all out on front yard decorations (how do people clean up those fake cobwebs?), or throwing a Halloween party anytime soon, but maybe next year I might, oh I don't know, dress up in a costume? Gasp! Did I just type that? Oh wow, I may be going over to the dark aka fun side.

(nope, that's not Talia...that's me)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Not a big fan of pipe cleaners R2?

"Umm, excuse me Lord Popoki, uh, would you be so kind and give me a little help here?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The real me, the real you

My favorite auntie is here visiting from a small town in Georgia and boy, I've missed her. Me and my mom lived with her and my cousin after both of them divorced our dads when we were around five. My mom was the mother hen, keeping order, discipline, a wholesome diet, and restricted tv. My auntie gave us freedom to be wild, Hostess Ding Dongs, and the Newlywed Game. Our household was in a perfect crazy balance. So, while we were watching my kids dance the silly dance around the room, I said to my auntie that Talia is nothing like I was as a kid and she replied "Oh, she's just like you were when your mother wasn't around. When it was just me, you let your guard down and wanted to be the leader, were bossy, and much more outgoing. You censured yourself, while Talia holds nothing back".
Huh? This is news to me. While Talia looks like my very own mini-me, I convinced myself that this strong self-confident born-leader is nothing like the quiet reserved me that I remember. This got me thinking, who really knows the real me? I'm talking the true me that speaks from my soul, full of optimism and fears, loves and struggles.

When I first meet people, I try to figure them out - find out where they are coming from - what makes them tick. I am always weary of people that present themselves way over the top, like Robin Williams or Richard Simmons. I know someone that always presents this larger than life joking flamboyant persona, yet I wonder what he is like at home (what I would give to be a fly on his wall). Does he talk to his dog that way or does he come down to earth and talk "normal"? I'm picturing a Saturday Night Live skit. It's a mystery to me.

Am I a mystery to people? Do I put up too much of a wall? Do people wonder what makes me tick? I would hope that all this work on friendships, having babies, marriage, and feeling more free in my thirties and almost forties has chipped away at that wall, allowing me to be more open, less self conscious, and more confident. Yet, I've known some friends for years and I still only show my outer self to them, mainly because they barely reveal themselves to me. Or, how come I can go years without seeing someone and reunite in person feeling immediately like no time has gone by? Still, some people get me to open up right away. Today, I had a particularly difficult morning with a way-too-early 5:32am wake up, Talia crying eight times over stupid stuff, fighting over the blue Playdoh, a 7:59pm email from my boss last night requesting a huge report this morning (should not open work email before 9am), trying to get that report done while they are fighting and crying, and just general crankiness. When my new red headed writer mom friend asked me if I was okay this morning as I was leaving (hiding) school , do you know how badly I wanted to steal her away to breakfast this morning so I could talk and share and relate about my bad day?! Maybe it's because she puts it all out there in person and in her writing that invites me to safely do the same. I like that. I need that. Luckily, I have people in my life that offer that, and I'm always happy to have more.

I admire the fact that my kids let it all hang out and don't hold anything back, although sometimes it's not always in my best interest, like when I'm trying to get work done or am running late for school. Of course, they are on their best behavior at school, or at least I hope so, and act the same around all of their friends. But, come to think of it, they do act more reserved around new people, more silly around silly friends, and more protective around those with special needs. Maybe it's more ingrained than I realize, and I'm vowing to go easier on myself. It's just a subject that no one really talks about but something that's often on my mind. And, even though only a few people (that I already know) actually read my blog, it sure is a therapeutic way to put it all out there and grow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Those damn piles

I mostly work at home. I see a lot of the inside of my house. Now that my kids are in school, I should theoretically have more time to clean, accomplish projects, and make apple pies. Funny thing, though, my house still gets just as messy and it feels like I have less time to keep up with it all. Everyone said this would be the case and now I get it. Wow, the amount of paper that comes out of those backpacks is mind blowing, the laundry still piles up, and my bathrooms still get scary dirty (little boy + peeing in and around the toilet and wall = stinky). But, what bothers me most of all is the piles. TONS of piles everywhere. And I hate clutter. I don't do clutter. I pride myself in keeping things simple. Sometimes I think I'm helping things by gathering the various small piles and making one BIG pile, but then the big pile just gets shuffled around. And, when people come over to my house, I move the unsightly pile(s) to my bedroom and close the door in shame. Then, new piles accumulate where the old piles where and now it's worse. They are sooo cluttery that sometimes I just want to light a match and have a bonfire because the thought of having to sort through them is nauseating. But, really, they are just a collection of little things that all have a purpose and place somewhere, even if it's the recycling bin, so why does it feel so overwhelming?

This is the combo pile currently on my kitchen table. I did not stage this. It is real. It includes noisy-noses, a Chuck postcard, bills, catalogs, pipe cleaners, and a broken necklace. I am horrified. Where do I begin?

This is at the end of my bed on a pretty wrought iron bench (aka clutter keeper). It's a pile of clean clothes that need folding and putting away. I have since done six loads of laundry, all folded and put away, yet, I walk past this particular pile every day for a week and do nothing like it's toxic material.

Bathroom counter pile. This is stuff that was in my drawer, and that I took out of my drawer because I couldn't close the drawer, and now it is all on my counter and I don't know where to put everything.

Quinn is obsessed with pipe cleaners. The creative fun is unlimited. You saw the hanging window art a few posts ago? That was only the beginning. This pile was created by me gathering up the various creations from all over the house. What do you do with a pile of twisted pipe cleaners?

This pile is on my nightstand. Why do I have three pens there? And, the jewelry. I have a very handy and efficient hanging clear pocket organizer for my jewelry, but these didn't quite make it there. Note to self: take off necklace, put in jewelry pocket, done. No clutter. Grrr.

Again, see that modern cubed shoe rack?! It's for shoes. Did we have an earthquake or was I just too lazy to return the shoes to their rightful organized place?

This is my famous nightstand pile of books that lives below my other jewelry/pen pile on top. These are either books I want to read, books I started but never finished but need to finish, parenting books, borrowed books, a Dr. Seuss book, and various magazines about being organized.

So, bottom line, I need to dedicate some time asap to cleaning up these piles because a cluttered home makes an anti-clutter person like me totally insane and jittery. My husband is totally unaware of my current angst - he's too busy going through his piles and piles of old records that he's recording as mp3's. Not that I'd want him to touch any of my piles because he doesn't have a clue where anything goes. Ugh, it's all too much...I think I'll go play on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mommy Weirdo

When I was pregnant, I bought three books of names for babies. If I couldn't find the right names in the book with 10,000 names, I would certainly find the perfect ones in the 50,000 name edition or the Every Name Ever Used in the History of the World book. We highlighted, wrote lists, researched on the Internet, and slowly narrowed the field of potential names. Since I didn't know if I was having a boy and a girl, two girls, or two boys, it was, um, challenging to say the least. Plus, we had to find a middle name that sounded right and based on the right combinations. And, yes, we counted syllables. Jason's main criteria was "the name cannot be shortened or nicknamed" (Elizabeth = Beth, Liz, or Richard = Rich, Dick, etc.) and rhyming with a bad word had to be avoided, too (Bart = fart). I was going more sentimental, even considering the name Ivy because that was Jason's grandmother's name and Greta because The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies of all time. Long story short, the day we were due to check out of the hospital and felt the pressure to sign the birth certificate, we (along with our close family and friends) decided on the final names due to instinct, gut feelings, baby personalities, and the wild orange cupi-doll head-to-toe hair that just had to be a feisty Irish name like Quinn. In Hebrew the name Talia means "morning dew", but a friend recently told me that Talia means "applaud" in Hindi, which is totally fitting for our dramatic future actress Leo daughter who cried for 20 minutes today because she didn't get to be the head of the line at school (she thrives on being first at everything). The naming the babies saga was worth the effort.

I always loved having an unusual name. I didn't like going with the crowd and having a pretty old Russian name helped me be a bit different. The only time it wasn't so great was in school when a new teacher couldn't pronounce my name, when well meaning friends shortened it to "Dar" (major cringe), or when my cousins called me, and this is both painful and funny to write, "Diarrhea Weirdo". Kids are so cruel.

Today, when I had a few precious minutes alone with Quinn, he told me that his favorite school friend called him a name today and he didn't like it, and he told this friend he didn't like that, then his friend declared they weren't friends anymore. Gearing up for the worst, I asked him what his (former) friend called him that was soooo horrific and friendship ending?? Turns out his friend said "Hey Fire Breathing Dragon! Come over here and play!". It took all my will from laughing out loud. That boy is funny... and my kid is too serious!

What is it about the common human experience that we feel compelled to call people different names other than what they were carefully given as a baby? I get the fact that we wear different hats in our lifetime with new names attached, like mommy, gramma, mother-in-law, Mrs. President, etc., but what's with the other names like meanie, poo poo head, and The Old Lady??? I guess it's like curse words. It's simple to say "ouch, that hurt", but it feels waaaaay better to yell "F.U.C.K. $!@#%&*!!!!!!" or "slut!".

I guess it is what it is, sometimes name calling hurts and other times it's just plain funny. I dread the day my kids start calling me MOTHER (or worse). I really love being "You are the best mommy in the whole wide world to the stars and back". I just have to relish the affectionate names, like being called honey by my sweet husband and BFF by my best friend. Those names are precious and totally make up for the not so great Diarrhea Weirdo Braceface Four-eyes days of my youth.

***Baby A (Talia) and Baby B (Quinn) in the hospital***

Monday, October 20, 2008

Memory lane and bumpy roads

(5h grade yearbook picture of myself I've never seen before Saturday)

Barely two months into school and my twin kindergartners are already bonding with new friends in their class - holding hands, having playdates, and missing them on the weekends. They each have their favorite school friend, but other friends are easily made, too. They will announce "I sat next to Sophia and now we are friends" or "Sam asked if I would be his friend and I said 'yes'". And, as an unexpected bonus, I'm also becoming friends with the fabulous playdate moms. Cha ching!

So, while we are all venturing into new friend territory, I've had a recent surge of reuniting with old classmates and friends (yea for Facebook!). Just in the past few months, I am now in touch with two friends from early elementary school, two sisters that my mom used to watch in her home daycare and later went to school with me, and a former roommate/friend from my early 20’s (who I'm meeting for lunch this week!).

It’s interesting how in my mid-twenties, I barely had any friends and felt a huge sad hole in my life. I made major choices that badly affected my friendships, but at the time I felt it was right, so I can't be too hard on myself. I was immature, bad at coping with hard stuff, and in survival mode. Hey, we all were. Fortunately, I found my amazing husband, but still felt like something was missing without close friends. When my grandmother died, I didn’t have a single friend to call that I thought would care enough to come over and comfort me with hugs and a casserole. I blame no one but myself, because I never really understood what it took to find, make, and keep friends. It didn’t help that I’m horrible with small talk and it takes me a while to warm up to people and let my guard down (one of my biggest faults). So, what I did was consciously study people who seemingly had a lot of friends and that made me want to be their friend, too. What I noticed was that these people made every friend feel very special to them, needed, and appreciated. Of course, it's way more complicated than just that, but still, there was so much to learn and practice.

Well, here I am many years later and luckily I don’t have the friend hole in my heart anymore. Although I will probably never have tons and tons of friends (like everyone else on the planet ha ha ha), the ones I have now, both old and new, I love and cherish. And, every day I am still learning about and practicing being a good friend, sometimes not doing so well and other times pleasantly surprising myself. I think this will take a lifetime to get right.

This past weekend I hugged and visited with some of these “old” friends in person at a sort of reunion weekend. It was surreal and marvelous to hug these women that I last knew as little girls in 5th grade. Now, we are the ones with children (talk about surreal watching our kids play together).

Some say that people from our past can show us who we once were, and that’s true to some extent. I also believe that these friendships make us who we are today, no matter how long or short of a time they were in our lives. Friends are a huge part of our memories, experiences, and lessons in life, both good and not so good. I think I’m at a point in my life where I can look back on my past friendships with love rather than regret.

I hope that I can pass on my friendship wisdom to my kids so they don’t have my same hang-ups as me. Funny, though, that I can probably learn much more from watching their simple and sweet friendships than over-analyzing mine. I do envy them. They can simply be in the playful moment, not thinking about whether the other kid already has too many friends and won't want to be their friend, or that they are boring, or that they won't want to be friends tomorrow because of something they said or did. It doesn't always have to be so damn complicated (like I tend to make things) and can sometimes just be fun in the moment, and hopefully save the heavier stuff for when it's truly needed.

(me and the sisters from daycare)

(former 5th grade classmates...don't we look hot

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Keep on the sunny side

We had a few scary smokey worried days here in the Valley. Although we personally did not face evacuations or any eminent threats, we were concerned about friends with homes in danger, the air quality (I have asthma), animals, and fears over losing beloved parks and hiking spots. Now that the air is much much clearer (thank goodness!), Quinn is still coughing, Jason's throat is sore from the smoke, and I'm needing to use my Advair for my asthma and tight lungs every twelve hours. It could be much much worse.

So, being the optimist and writer of a blog that looks for the small happy stuff in life, I happen to notice a surprising amount of good things today. And, to those that are having a bad day/week/month, please don't hate me for being so chipper, but I can't help it. This good day is waaaay overdue and I'm going to acknowledge it dammit.

- Quinn found his inner creative out-of-the-box self that's was missing for a while, and recreated the wire sculptures he saw on Reading Rainbow this morning. He dug into the craft bin, declared "I found the pipe cleaners yeaaaa!", and went on to create hanging art on the playroom curtain rod. Do you see the hanging mummy?
- I drove to my favorite hiking spot that I feared had burned in the fire, having to see for myself, and...I saw green...lots of green! The fire only got the upper section where we rarely take the kids but where I hike with my cousin (all 1.4 miles of it). Our favorite "fishing" spot was saved. What a relief! Those brave firefighters are incredible.

- I go to my favorite Goodwill to buy bigger sized clothes for the growing kids, and, oh ya baby, all kids clothes are only $.99 each on special today (regularly $3.99). I buy 21 really nice items and pay $21. Normal price would be $84. Cha ching!
- Lunch was a homemade delicious and decadent crispy bacon, ripe avocado, and cheese sandwich with red vines on the side. Yummm..

- Our friendly gardener/handyman extraordinaire finally arrived and is fixing our ailing fence. Now, I can stop obsessing over it.
- One of my favorite bloggers who went from a suffering waiter to best selling author practically overnight is on Oprah today. Oprah!
- My new school mom professional writer friend called me a "writer". Me? Yes, Me.
When I arrive home late afternoon after their Wednesday gym class, Jason greets us at the door looking like total crap. The dedicated defender of our once smoky freeways has a fever and sore throat and feels horrible and crawls back into bed. Then, I scold Quinn for dumping his (expensive) castle on the floor and he starts crying (and getting that face) saying that he's sad about what I said to him and now he thinks that "I don't love him anymore". And, it all goes downhill from there. Aaaaah, whew, this is more like the up and down life I know and love. I just have to smile...and pour myself a tall glass of wine. Cheers!