Archive for May, 2009

Cancel the Cavalry

Posted by laura on May 30 2009 | Awesome, Fun, Holiday

lakeresort

We actually made it to Pillsbury and back with no major events! Wow what a great weekend. The drive was a great adventure – Hot Wheels asked “Are we off-roading yet?” about every 10 minutes the whole way up. When we finally reached the dirt road, it was bliss. Here’s an idea of what it was like:

happycar

I really wanted to set up a Polly Pocket beach scene on that back bumper. 

pillsburypondpillsburyhills

This is the little slice of heaven we enjoyed over the weekend. In addition to the Lake itself, there was a nearby pond fed by fresh stream water, so the water was clear and a beautiful temperature for swimming. You’ll be happy to hear that all the perfect pond requirements were met:

- small enough to swim across

- square dock in the middle for sunning and ownership battles

- large tree with rope for Tarzan pond entry (our friend Dave even has a flip dismount!)

- one leaky rowboat with no paddles

lakesteps

The friends we visited have a daughter who is also in Honey’s class at school, and the girls gave a charming guided boat tour of the pond – that is, until the pirates stole their boat while they rested on the dock. Bummer. The whole weekend consisted of walks, swims, puzzles, games, snacks, and long lazy conversations. It was, as you can imagine, thoroughly exhausting. Ok it was amazing.

 

I even learned my first real card trick, taught to me by our friends’ older daughter, who was too kind to keep the secret. So prepare yourselves, I’m carrying the cards in my pocket for the next year and a half, and I’m bound to ask all of you at least ten times if I’ve shown it to you. Sorry about that.

pillsburydock

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Random Notes

Posted by laura on May 22 2009 | Fun

I basically live in a cabaret. Someone is always bursting into random singing or dancing around here, so let’s kick things off with the refrains from two of the songs my kids have sung to me over the last two days.

“Where is the guy with the crazy lights?”

and

“I have an odd way of putting on my pants.”

Sure to hit the top ten this weekend. 

 

In other news, Hot Wheels is still heavy into comparisons. We’ve moved beyond the endless Ferrari/Porche debate of 2009 and into deeper, more varied territory. Now it’s “What is better for you? An apricot or a mango?” “Which is faster, a Lexus or an Audi?” “Who is the tallest guy in the world?” “Which is faster, a car with two mufflers or a car with four mufflers?”

His muffler fascination is intense. I like it because he calls them muffelers, with that extra ‘e’ in there, and I love the way it sounds. This afternoon on the way to Home Depot, Tom said, “Hey look at that car – it has four mufflers! It must be really fast.” From the back seat, Hot Wheels said incredulously, “No, it don’t depends on the muffelers, it depends on the engine!” It was a real, “Come on, Dad!” moment. 

Not long after that, he popped out with, “Which one would go faster – a clean Mazda 5 that only goes 20 miles an hour, or an Aero that’s on fire?”

Hm. 

 

Tom’s parents are on the plane right this minute, on their way out for a visit. Finally the countdowns can conclude. We’re all very excited! The first thing we’re doing is heading up to Lake Pillsbury to visit with some friends. Where is Lake Pillsbury, you ask? Way the heck up there. Let’s put it this way – our friends told us to call them from Ukiah (a couple of hours north of here) because shortly thereafter we’ll lose cell phone coverage. They’re going to watch the clock for the last hour of our trip, so if we don’t turn up they’ll know we got stuck in a rut along the dirt road. Yeehaw!! I so need a cowboy hat for this, and I don’t have one. Ding dang it!

If you don’t hear from us after the weekend, send something after us, would you? Mounties, cowboys, cavalry… whatever you’ve got handy. We sure would appreciate it. 

Have a great long weekend everybody.

Oh, and a special shout out to our friends in Prague! Hope you guys are doing really well – we miss you! Bet Ducky is walking like crazy now – can’t wait for you to get home so we can see and applaud.

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Connect and Share

Posted by laura on May 20 2009 | Fun

If you get the Atlantic Monthly, you may have seen the Sketchbook in the May issue – it was a play on a Facebook group thread called “Facebook Group: World Leaders.” We were all laughing over it a few weeks ago at soccer – what a funny idea. I liked:

Muammar Qaddafi is excited to nationalize Libyan oil assets.

Hugo Chávez 

Bad idea.

It was such a great concept – world leaders tagging photos, sending each other drinks, commenting on each others’ status. Do they superpoke each other? Or take quizzes? (What character from Grease are you? What were your first 5 cars? Which World Leader are you?) Do they have pieces of flair?? There’s a lot of material there, and we had some fun with it.

At the end of practice, Tom noticed that Hot Wheels actually plays Facebook soccer. Every time he makes a play, he has to stop and talk about it, and every time someone else makes a play, he turns to us and gives us a thumbs-up. He likes this!

soccerpractice

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A Weekend With Bean

Posted by laura on May 17 2009 | Fun

Back in February, our great friends Lino and Claudia had a baby girl. We happened to be down in LA (where they live) at the time this gorgeous baby arrived, and we got to meet her less than 24 hours after she was born. Seriously amazing. We stopped in at the hospital and stayed for about 25.2 seconds because she was awfully small and adorable and we didn’t want to breathe on her, and that’s about how long we can go without exhaling. Honey has a thing for wanting to give babies nicknames, and she thought we should call the baby ‘Bean,’ which made sense when you saw how she was curled up in her father’s arms.

saturdaylunch

 

This weekend, Bean brought her parents up for a visit, which was quite good of her, and we were all able to fawn over her while breathing, albeit off to one side, since she’s still small and adorable and we really wanted her to have a good time. Man, did she have a good time. What a great baby! She’s just stunning – good natured and so easy to have around. (This is where the apple not falling far from the tree comes in, I guess.)

On Saturday we had a little lunch for some local friends to get together and admire the baby. Can you spot her in the picture? She was so happy in Peter’s arms – just like ours were when they were babies. It was lucky he was there at all – coming up from the city turned out to be quite an ordeal. You’re usually looking at about 20-30 minutes between our house and Amy & Peter’s. On Saturday, it was over an hour and a half with the traffic. That’s more time than Claudia & Lino’s flight the night before. I’m impressed they didn’t just toss up their hands and go home. Another friend made a similar commute by bus, so she gets a gold star.

lunch

Here's a little lunch shot, because I love food.

 

 

pool

Oh and did I mention it was HOT? This weekend was up in the nineties here so we blew up the pool and put it on the deck next to the table. 

The kids were blissfully happy and cool, and the sound of them laughing will keep me smiling for days. We all had a great visit, and Bean was unbelievably tolerant of the heat, which can’t have been easy for her. 

We had such a beautiful time, it was very sad to see them head home this afternoon. 

 

 

Here's a Saturday traffic reenactment for you, staged by Hot Wheels on our deck.

Here's a Saturday traffic reenactment for you, staged by Hot Wheels on our deck.

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Bad Bad Parent Day

Posted by laura on May 13 2009 | Not So Fun

I thought I hit a parenting low when I had to take my 5 year old son in to have a cavity filled this morning.

Then I forgot to pick up my daughter from school.

 

Really, I should leave it at that – it would definitely be more entertaining. I’m compelled to give a little justification, since my parents are regular readers here. The cavity situation is humbling for sure since I discovered I have a real attitude about cavities. I don’t really have anything to say for myself there except to cry foul, since Honey has never had one and I personally don’t believe in them. The good news is that they were able to get him in quickly, the dentist is insanely nice and Hot Wheels was a champ. He didn’t really mind it at all, which wasn’t part of my plan. I was secretly hoping it would be just uncomfortable enough for him to never want to go through it again, which would make my new Brush Ten Times A Day program more palatable.

After the dentist, Hot Wheels wasn’t really up for school, seeing as he kept trying to drink water but ended up dribbling it all down his shirt. Messy. So he stayed home with me, which set me up for trouble, since he’s usually home with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays, not Wednesdays. Wednesday is “early release day” at the elementary school, so all the kids get out an hour early. For three years I’ve been anticipating the day that I forgot it was Wednesday, and hooray! It was today. The defense rests. Literally – I’m going to go lie down. I think first I’ll ask the kids to prep the dinner with the sharp knives or maybe light some candles for me or possibly just go play in the street.

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Comedy of Errors

Posted by laura on May 11 2009 | Bicycle, Fun

One day last week, I was riding along on my way to pick the kids up from school on Wednesday, when I saw someone open up their driver side door about a block ahead of me. It’s a pretty busy street so I gave a quick glance over my shoulder and moved my bike out into the road so I’d be out of door range. As I looked back, the door of a pickup parked right in front of me flung open – if it hadn’t been for the car up ahead, I would have become one with the pickup truck. Lucky break!

Riding with the kids later on, we heard the unmistakable chiming song of an ice cream truck idling on one of the streets we cross. Our kids are pretty careful on their bikes, but I swear they were like sailers to sirens and completely lost all sense of direction and purpose. I wasn’t very lyre-like, though, as I hollered them through the intersection – “Cross now! Don’t stop riding! People are waiting for you! Watch out for the stroller!” They didn’t lose the glaze in their eyes till we were about a block from home. It really is a wonder that they didn’t crash or get run over.

Then Thursday morning, Tom had an early meeting so the kids and I rode out to school after he left. I pulled out my bike and loaded it up with the bags. I went back into the garage to take the kids’ bikes out for them and I heard the door close behind me. We have a regular door on the side of our garage – the roll up door had been replaced with windows before we bought the house. Our garage door is like the cellar door at Mum and Dad’s house that just naturally swings shut, and I seem to have a thing about not propping it open. It probably stems from being a kid and daring myself to make it to the bottom of the cellar stairs before the door closed behind me – those kinds of tests can die hard. Now it’s morphed into an awkward garage dance where I try to get a bike wheel into the closing gap in the door each morning. Too lazy or stubborn to prop the dang thing open. Well yesterday, it closed, the nerve of it, and when I grabbed the doorknob, it popped right off. A second later, I heard the knob on the other side hit the cement.

There I was, staring at the closed door with no knob – kids in the house, phone in my bike in the driveway. I had visions of my neighbors discovering me waving pitifully at them with my face pressed against the garage windows. Fortunately I discovered that the doorknob spindle was inside with me, and after working on it for a few minutes, I was able to work the tab back and get the door open. When I relayed the story to Tom later, he laughed so hard he had to pause to catch his breath. I muttered something ungraceful about being happy to have provided his entertainment for the day, and he said, “The day? I’m going to be entertained by this for weeks!”

Or how about this? In the middle of the night on Wednesday, Honey got up, went to the bathroom and washed her hands, then came into our room to tell me something. No problem there – except for one thing. She was operating in stealth mode and I didn’t hear any of this. I was woken up from the black of a deep sleep by a small, cold, wet hand on my knee. Did I have an appropriate reaction to this psycho horror movie situation? Thankfully, no and oddly, yes. Thankfully no in that I didn’t wind anyone up in the emergency room. What I did do was shoot straight up in bed and shout, “Jeepers Creepers!!!” Oddly yes in that it turns out that there’s a series of horror movies called – you guessed it, Jeepers Creepers. But I was unaware of that until about 3 minutes ago, which begs the question – which decade am I from, anyway? Who says Jeepers Creepers anymore? When I told my friend Lori, she laughed,”That’s a real ‘whoopsie daisies’ moment!”

This run of situations (and I’m not even going into the one about very nearly walking into a meeting with a major piece of spinach in my teeth) did flash a scene in my mind of a guardian angel dispatch office, looking like the set from the old show Taxi, with the dispatcher barking, “Murphy! You’re gettin’ ‘er this week and I don’t wanna hear another *%# word outa ya!”

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Happy Mothers’ Day

Posted by laura on May 10 2009 | Awesome, Holiday

icecream

Around here, Mothers’ Day means you get toppings on your ice cream. Here’s hoping you got some too. Hot Wheels went for coconut with jelly beans. Go figure. Honey and I were all about the chocolate soft serve with m&ms. And you know what I’m telling you? It was GOOD.

toppings

 

doublescooter

 

 

 

Later in the day we went out walking and the kids did their tandem scooter routine. Hot Wheels rides up front and Honey does the power and steering. The best moment came when they rolled past a big mailbox on one of the street corners – they each stuck out a foot simultaneously to kick it as they went by. Coordinated impulse.

 

I can’t believe how lucky I am to get to be a mother. Cheers to the mothers who have shown us how it’s done – to Mum and Gini and Nana and Nessie and Grandma and Pats. To all our role models in love and dedication and inspiration. Thank you.

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Old School

Posted by laura on May 05 2009 | Awesome

Last week I was so excited to stumble across some retro school badges in the gift section of a grocery store near us. This is not your average grocery store – it’s more than fancy; it’s fancy-schmancy. Occasionally they have little items in there that are brilliant, and I thought these pins were just that. You can see the whole range on the company website, but my favorites are the ones that could have been real – Monitor, Prefect, Head Boy and Head Girl.

Here’s an interesting side note – the link above takes you to the school badge section of their US customer site, but they have a much larger and cooler range of products in the main Wild and Wolf UK site. How about journals with reproduction Ladybird and Penguin classic book covers? Charlie and Lola plasters? (Seriously – any time you have a shot at buying ‘plasters’ instead of ‘bandaids,’ do you not take it?) So, so good. I’m not sure if this means that they won’t ship this kind of awesomeness to the US – I’ll have to investigate.

headboy

 

 

headgirl

 

Anyway, back to the story – I bought  Head Boy and Head Girl pins because they were just too wonderful to resist, and although I thought I’d give them as gifts, it turns out I can’t because I NEED them. They’re so cool.

 

Here’s Honey rocking the Head Girl badge with her new chorus concert outfit. Just look at that! With the straight skirt and the knee socks? Have a heart attack.

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Weekend Update

Posted by laura on May 03 2009 | Fun

>Our weekend kicked off on Friday afternoon when Tom rode his bike home from work and found Hot Wheels sitting in the driveway waiting for him, counting.

>Found this on the floor in the art room:
racingdrawing

>Saturday morning I got to go to ballet. And make ricotta pie. Not simultaneously.

>Saturday afternoon we went into the city for a sleepover at Amy and Peter’s house. It was awesome. The kids played like maniacs, we made pizza, we got caught up.

<The kids were up before 6am.

>We had donuts with Amy and Peter and the gang. Jelly filled, white frosted /  half sprinkles, old fashioned, maple and chocolate glazed. I had the chocolate glazed.

>Played this afternoon with Amy and Andy’s kids – Tom took an entire crew to the park like the champion he is. Then the girls and I made a fairy house in our neighborhood park. Learned that fairies are “one inch and five centimeters tall.” Found that surprising, but was informed that “if they were shorter they wouldn’t be able to carry an umbrella.” 

>Talked to Mum and Dad.

>We bought our tickets for Boston!! July 8-25.

<Found out they’re closing our high school for at least 3 days because of the swine flu.

>Had pancakes for dinner.

Now that’s a weekend! Here’s what’s coming up this week. Do you see this disaster?

stash

 

Turns out I have three fabric bins that are threatening our home with a hostile takeover, so this week is Face the Stash week here in my house. I have to make at least enough of a dent to get the lid back on. If you don’t hear from me by Tuesday, call the mounties, would you?

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And We’re Back

Posted by laura on May 02 2009 | Awesome, Dance

Thank you for standing by – we were experiencing some time management difficulties out here this past week, and although I don’t really like to point fingers, it’s all Harry Potter’s fault. You see, Honey is 8 and a half, and it seemed like she was in a good spot to try the early books, with the explicit understanding that we would not be reading all of them – I believe that it’s worth the wait to grow with this particular series if you start at her age. I, however, took it upon myself to read ahead so that we’d know when to stop, and that was my downfall. These books should come with some kind of surgeon general’s warning about their addictive properties and guaranteed disruption of workflow. The good news is I just closed book seven last night and I can head into detox now. The bad news is I just closed book seven last night and it’s over. Those books are some serious fun, and the writing is terrific. 

We were sitting around the table one day this week, talking about the books. I mentioned that Claire and I had a quick chat about what a great writer J.K. Rowling is, and Honey suddenly came out with, “It’s amazing that she has that gift!” She paused and added, “I have the gift of making great plans  - and then forgetting them!” Looks like someone isn’t headed for Ravenclaw house, if you know what I mean. I actually asked her that the other day – which house would she like to be in, if she got to go to school with the characters – and she wasn’t sure. I thought certainly she’d say “Gryffindor,” since the heroes of the book were in that house. But she said, “I don’t know. Not Slytherin. Maybe Hufflepuff – they have a great name, and they’re really kind.” And that is one of the things that I really love about that girl. She doesn’t seem to have the need to go with the cool thing. She still trusts her instinct over appearance, and I’m trying to figure out how I can help her keep that as long as possible. Is it something I can even help with? I think maybe my goal might be more like trying not to interfere with that trait for as long as possible.

The dance community took a hit this week - Frankie Manning died on Monday. For those of you who didn’t know him, Frankie was one of the original Lindy Hoppers from Harlem – an extraordinary man and a truly phenomenal dancer. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him over the years when I was doing a lot of swing dancing. He was witty, kind, innovative and fun. His stories about the Savoy were ones you just could never forget. He’d talk about walking up the stairs to the ballroom, the quickening of his pulse as he’d hear the music, the way the whole floor would be bouncing under the movement of all those dancers, and his whole face would shine.

Here’s another thing – Lindy is like any subject, and the people who fancy themselves good at it can bring an equal amount of talent and ego to the conversation. During a dance, they’ll be testing your vocabulary, throwing out complicated phrases to see how you react, and scanning the room the whole time for observers or subsequent partners. I only had a few dances with Frankie myself, but I was amazed to discover that he paid as much attention to me as I did to him. He didn’t dumb down his conversation or stop being funny and smart with his movement, but he really seemed to care about what I had to say about the music or the phrase. He taught me a great deal about listening.

Here’s a scene from Hellzapoppin’ that shows some crazy Lindy Hopping – Frankie is the one in the overalls. If you’re like me, this clip will leave you feeling like you need a sit down and perhaps an oxygen tank…

 

 

Frankie could do all that crazy dancing – he invented some of it for crying out loud – but he’d start his advanced classes with the basic Lindy turn, because it all came back to the basics for him. It was quality of movement, integration with the music, and connection with your partner. Here’s to Frankie, then, for showing us all how it’s done.

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