Archive for October, 2009

Something Fishy

Posted by laura on Oct 27 2009 | Holiday, Making, Sewing

This is the post in which we attempt to return to our usual programming. Honey was back at school today, although she called to have us bring her medicine at lunchtime. Hot Wheels stayed home but is feeling much better. Tom is starting to look sideways at me, which for once is actually a good thing. With everyone attempting normalcy, it was time for me to start panicking about Halloween.

Halloween is technically four days away, but in reality it’s only three, since the school costume parade is on Friday. Honey wants to be a wood sprite, which I’m not particularly worried about since I have bags of green and brown fabrics and sprites are not known for their tailoring. We could throw that one together the day before. In fact, I’m sure we will. Now Hot Wheels is a different story. He wants to be “a fissy.” Not just any fissy, mind you. THIS fissy:

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Say hello to Bubbles. I’m actually very fond of this guy.

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Yeah, I’m talkin about you.

Anyway… I’ve never made a fish costume before and I have to say I didn’t exactly excel at that portion of the SAT where you had to picture what 3 dimensional shape would be made from what 2 dimensional drawing, which regrettably goes for the reverse as well. I’ve been in deep denial on this costume – look how much I’d done up till this morning:

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Pretty smart looking, eh?? So today I faced the music and started cutting and sewing. Please think positive thoughts towards this fish, and if you have detailed diagrams that’d be great too.

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Ice Packs

Posted by laura on Oct 26 2009 | Making, Reusable

When Honey had her surgery, the doctor and nurses advised us to keep her head elevated and ice on her jaw for two days. “Frozen peas work great!” they recommended merrily. As I was driving home it hit me – two days of frozen (and subsequently thawed) peas equals a lot of peas. Surely there had to be a better way.

At home we had a beautiful big soft ice pack that the kids call the “Amy Icepack” because – big surprise here – our friend Amy gave it to me years ago when I was pregnant in the summertime. (Just stow that idea away, people, and if you have any good friends who get pregnant in summertime you have a home run gift to make them love you forever.) Back to the subject, it turns out that one was a bit big for the occasion, while some of our other packs were too hard or just awkward. What we did have were these awesome little mini packs that look a little bit like ice cubes. I found them a while back at the Container Store and they’re fantastic! They settle in nicely around food in a cooler but don’t leave a big puddle at the bottom when they defrost.

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They were great in this situation because Honey could mold them around her jaw, but we had a little trouble wrapping them. All our wash cloths were too thick, so the cold wasn’t getting through. In the end I cut up a soft old tshirt and made a little bag. I had a scrap of super soft tulle to tie it together, and that little bit of extra softness felt good against her cheek.

I’ve heard about people making heat/ice packs with beans and rice, but I’ve also read that these can get smelly over time. It’s made me think that there must be other good materials out there that would make good packs of different sizes. Maybe pie weights? If anyone has ideas, let me know!

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Posted by laura on Oct 26 2009 | Not So Fun, Uncategorized

sunflower

Well things have been creeping along out here. Honey’s not exactly on the express recovery train, but I guess it’s to be expected given all she’s been through. Last week she started back to school, thanks to my new best friend, Motrin. Friday was her first full day back and it went pretty well, and over the weekend it seemed we were out of the woods; she still had pain but it was manageable with medication. This morning, though, it flattened her again. Was it the classic equation, Pain + Monday = Misery? Quite possible. But the last time I brushed off her jaw pain she had raging infections and emergency surgery, so I’m a little hesitant to step down that path again.

Then there’s Hot Wheels, who woke up this morning looking mostly grey with a slight flush to the sides of his cheeks and complaining of a ‘liquidy mouth.’ I took a look, and there was the swollen red throat with the red spots all across the top, looking all too familiar. That was a drag because we’ve already done our tour of duty in Strepland this year and are meant to be on leave. Who’s handling these assignments, I ask you?

Finally, for the full set, we have poor Tom who cricked his neck something fierce on Saturday afternoon and has been doing the Frankenstein walk since then. Poor guy – it’s one of those injuries that deliver amazing levels of pain and inconvenience. (I’m sitting here at the computer, looking from side to side, just because I can. In fact I think I’ll just sit here for a while, turning my head and eating incredibly crunchy food, in sheer appreciation of being well.)

It was quite the scene in our house at 8 this morning. Honey was bawling at the table, Hot Wheels was picking dejectedly at his breakfast and making thick throat noises, and Tom was lumbering around and wincing. I thought about the lineup of calls to school (they really should have given me a dedicated line by now), the doctor, the orthodontist and the parents of the girls who ride with us to soccer practice in the afternoon. I considered the white paper drifts of homework piling up in the corners of Honey’s room. I added up all the days I’ve been out of the office this month. I walked down the hall to the linen closet to find the thermometer.

As I passed the bathroom, Tom was standing in front of the sink. He asked, “So what do you think?” I said, “I think I’m going to find a dark corner and cry quietly for a while.” Tom replied, “Before you do that, could you help me stick this heatwrap on?”

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Get Well Gerbers

Posted by laura on Oct 17 2009 | Awesome, Not So Fun

gerbers

If you weren’t feeling so great, wouldn’t these beauties brighten your day? I think yes.

Honey had her second oral surgery of the year on Wednesday morning, and I’ll make this brief, since I’m not spending too much time away from her just yet. She’s recuperating in our art/guest room, which is actually an awesome sick room. It has a nice big bed, great light, a stack of movies, a private bathroom and plenty of coloring books. (So the next time you have a procedure scheduled, pick a Bay Area doctor and book your stay with us. You’ll be so looked after you’ll wish you were sick more often.)

The surgery went pretty well, I think, although that morning I heard some pretty classic “lines you don’t want to hear from your surgeon.” For example, when your surgeon (your ridiculously kind, hugely respected surgeon) enters the room and says quietly, “I’ve been dreaming about this one,” that’s what you call both a good and bad sign. Or when the surgery finally ends after 2 and quarter hours and the doctor says, “In all my years as a surgeon, that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” that’s a moment when you think, “darn.” Or how about when the surgeon recalls looking over the x-rays with the orthodontist and saying, “It can’t be done?” Really, not what you want to hear.

On the other hand, I heard some great lines from the surgeon and the staff that day as well. They had lovely things to say about our girl, and they couldn’t have been more caring. It was a bear of a day, and the week has been challenging. Yet again, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the friends and family who have called, brought flowers and even balloons (thanks, Ducky!!), sent coloring books, loaned us movies and helped with Hot Wheels. We have been showered with kindness, and are profoundly grateful. Honey even got a get-well card from the school secretary, which for an elementary school student is like receiving a get-well card from God. Thank you so much, everybody.

getwellbunnygetwellballoon

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A Walk in the Woods

Posted by laura on Oct 12 2009 | Awesome, Fun

On Sunday, Amy and Andy had our kids over for the afternoon, and Tom and I took a hike. A spectacular hike. The day was foggy and cool, and although the parking lots on Mount Tam were all packed, the trails weren’t crowded. We had long stretches where we didn’t see anyone, and the weather made the terrain all the more lush and mysterious, like this:

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And this:

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It was a bit like hiking through a novel.

We started up on Mt Tam and took the Matt Davis trail down to Stinson Beach. There were trees feathered with moss and tiny ferns, tunnels of arched trunks leading to open meadows, sweet woodsy smells and the sound of running creeks and lots and lots of steps.

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On a clear day there would have been breathtaking views in surprising moments. On Sunday, the fog was thick enough that there were stretches where the path would appear out of the grey just a few feet in front of us. Instead of looking out, we found ourselves focusing on the textures, patterns and intricacies close at hand.

When we made it to Stinson, just look at what was waiting for us at the Parkside!

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mmmm.

After that, we headed back up the mountain, following the Dipsea and Steep Ravine trails. Remember the steps? There were more. Steps cut from stone, steps built out of old logs, and – I kid you not – there was even a ladder at one point. Granted, it was wide and well constructed, but it was a ladder nonetheless. The trip back up felt like Tolkien land.

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See what I mean? At least we’d had second breakfast. And elevenses. And lunch…

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Honey is Nine

Posted by laura on Oct 11 2009 | Fun, Tasty

nine

Wow I can’t really believe this girl is nine. Here she is riding down the driveway where she first met her Boston grandparents when she was just a few days old. I’d been sitting in the living room watching for them, and the moment I saw them pull in I was up from the rocking chair, through the door and in the driveway before they could get out of the car. I can still see Dad’s expression when he saw her; he froze and put his hands to his face like he was seeing something so amazing, so wondrous. It was one of those moments I can never forget. And now here she is, cruising off to school down that very driveway.

daffodils

This year at school they’ve instituted a new no-food birthday policy, and yet they told us at back-to-school night that most families bring in something to give out for birthdays. Seriously. I think this is a little nutty. However, it’s a bit stinky to be the only family to skip out on the birthday treat thing so we put our heads together to think of a little something to give that wouldn’t break the bank or add just another plastic tchotchke to the collection. There are 28 kids in the class, so it’s worth thinking about! Then one day I was coming out of the grocery store and I saw daffodil bulbs, two bags for $7 and 15 in a bag. Perfect! For each student we put two bulbs in a paper bag with a little ribbon and a label (a few extras for the teacher’s bag with the flower on the front). It’s an ideal time of year for putting in the bulbs, and daffodils always remind me of Nana, who loved seeing them in the spring. I’ve had some nice comments from the other parents, and it was easy peasy. Slam dunk.

For her birthday, Honey had a sleepover with just a couple of friends she’s known for a long time. She originally wanted to go camping, but all the sites around here are completely booked out. Then she wanted to set up the tent on the back deck, but it got so cold at night this week we knew they’d all need to come in at 3am. So, after all that, we just put the tent in the art room. I highly recommend this, for any occasion whatsoever. It’s crazy fun.

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For some reason, Honey’s not so big on cake, but this year she was remarkably specific. She asked for a round vanilla cake with just a bit of lemon, mint green frosting with a blue circle in the middle. Right.

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I love how that second shot has the salt shaker in the background. I probably should have photoshopped that out, but I kind of like the random quality we’ve got going on there. Anyway, they had some pizza, ate some cake, watched a movie from the tent and then conked out at 9:30. Did you get that? 9:30. I think that might be some kind of record for a 9 year old sleepover. I think we should get parent scouts merit badges for that.

Right before I went to bed I tiptoed in to make sure everything was ok. In the dark room, the tent emanated the most incredibly soft, rhythmic breathing, making me want to sit and listen for ages. It felt like an art installation piece. Everyone slept till seven (seven! I just heard another record breaking), had pancakes and played till it was time to go home. What a terrific night!

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iWalk 2009

Posted by laura on Oct 07 2009 | Bicycle, School

We participated in International Walk to School Day here in our town today. Over the past few weeks, the Safe Routes to School committee at our elementary school has prepped for this event; we worked with students to make posters, promoted the event all over the school and arranged for healthy snacks and Safe Routes patches to hand out as walkers, bikers and carpoolers rocked up to school.

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Here’s a shot from the path to school. That lady on my xtracycle? Not me. It’s one of our fantastic PE teachers. I rode to school early this morning with my bike completely loaded up with a box of granola samples kindly donated by our local Whole Foods, a huge tupperware of orange slices, serving trays, you name it. The minute I arrived, I saw our PE teacher, who commandeered my bike to chase down the principal, who was heading up the bike path to meet the crowd of walkers heading in from the community center. I didn’t get to see the path when things were going full tilt, but I heard it was mayhem. Woohoo!

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Look who’s got new wheels! He finally has hand brakes and gears, thanks to a lucky garage sale find. He’s beyond happy.

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Here are some riders filling in one section of our bike racks. It’s tricky to take shots without any faces in them – thanks for this one, Tom!

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The bike racks filled up pretty quickly…

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Check out that sweet minty green bike! The black one behind it doesn’t look that fancy in this shot, but it’s got a very cool industrial rear rack. Having good equipment sure makes the decision to ride an easier one.

In the end, we handed out 270 badges to students who walked, rolled and carpooled to school this morning. Not a bad turnout!

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TGIF. And I’m Not Kidding About That

Posted by laura on Oct 05 2009 | Bicycle, Fun

[HA! I know it's Monday now. Honest. But it's just too funny that after the whole crazy week last week, I sat down Friday night to write a more upbeat post, and guess what? It didn't upload for some reason, and I didn't know it. A fitting end to a crazy week. So I've decided to post this anyway, just as I wrote it late Friday night. Here ya go.]

After a week of strep throat, the death of our neighbor and a suite of home, school and office issues too annoying to even go into, I’m glad it’s Friday. Really, really glad. I’ve decided I can’t let this week end on a sad note – so here are some good things that have happened lately:

Dogs

I called the animal shelter on Wednesday and found out that the dogs we took in briefly last week were claimed by their owners that afternoon. That’s one point for good news!

Quiche

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There’s really nothing wrong with quiche. Hot Wheels did a little dance when he saw this one.

Help in the Kitchen

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The very best kind.

Soccer Practice

soccer

Some of you might recall that Honey has a Friday afternoon soccer practice that runs till 5pm – last year we parents decided that it was a perfect setting to kick off the weekend, so we started bringing drinks and snacks to practice. Nothing too fancy. This year I bought a sweet new soft cooler for my xtracycle, ready for Friday afternoons. It’s been wonderful – each week we have more and more parents joining us, and it’s a terrific group of families. Look at this afternoon! Not too shabby.

Candy Corn

candycorn

It’s October, everybody, and that means I get to buy candy corn. I know that to some people, candy corn isn’t even an A list candy. To those people I say, it’s ok! Just send me your candy corn and I will dispose of it responsibly.

Cloche Hats

I recently bought the most spectacular hat. It was so spectacular that I actually paid full price for it. Inconceivable. I thought I’d just take a shot of myself wearing this new hat of mine so you could see it.

Easier said than done, it turns out. I stood on the back deck, held out the camera and took a shot. Holy smokes that didn’t look so good. I took another. Yikes! I tried again. And again. And again. It got painful. I think my mirror must have vaseline on it because I’m sure I don’t remember all those lines and droopy bits and freckles. It was a horror show. So after about 654 shots, I quit. Here’s the damn hat.

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When I bought it, the woman ringing me up asked me, “And did anyone help you with your purchase today?”

Why, yes – my grandmother and my great aunt Alice, as a matter of fact.

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