Archive for August, 2010

Not Just the Clothes Make the (Wo)Man

Posted by laura on Aug 30 2010 | Awesome, Bicycle, Uncategorized

I’m going to fess up front here – this one’s about clothes. You’ve been warned.

Around this time every year I tend to look in the old closet and cringe a bit. Shopping is not on my top ten list of favorite activities – at least not for myself. I get itchy and self conscious and flustered and desperate to be outside. But sometimes I have to face facts and realize that when the sweaters have vents in the elbows and the shirts are faded and the dresses are drooping, it’s time to grow up already and get myself out and buy a few new things.

This is the moment when my natural disinclination for shopping runs headlong into my miserable memory and creates a disaster because when will I ever learn that shopping is a team sport? I grumble my way around the mall all by myself, tsking like an old lady at the prices and recoiling at my reflection under the fluorescent dressing room lighting. The last time I tried it, I confirmed that all dressing rooms should come equipped with business card dispensers for local therapists. On-call.

Last week, I was feeling both brave and desperate, so I headed up to the shops with one major plan – Anthropologie. I might still groan about the prices, but at least I’d get to revel in the store design, and the fabrics, and the way their dressing room lighting actually murmurs soft compliments the whole time you’re in there. (Which can be a bit misleading, but I’ll take it.) I really did try that day, but I walked out with just one black turtleneck top that was on sale and somewhat predictable. It’s actually quite nice. I have it on right now.

Right after that, though, I had the unbelievable good fortune to bump into my friends Nuran and Jill, and everything changed. They wanted to see what I bought. I showed them. “It’s black!” Nuran said.


“Come with me.”

And with that, Nuran grabbed me by the arm and dragged me back into the store. She started throwing clothes at me. “You’re going to try this on, and we have to see that. THIS is a great color for you.”


“Don’t argue with me. Just try it on.”

Talk about pushy. But Nuran is always right. Jill was also giving me ideas and trying to protect me a bit. They grabbed clothes that I’d just walked by and never even considered. I thought they were a bit crazy but it seemed safer to just ride the current and see what happened. Can I also say they still only took things from the sale racks? That’s important.

They hauled me into the dressing room, checked everything out and told me what they thought. They said charming things like, “I hate you – look at those legs.” God love them.

In the end, I had too many choices. I couldn’t decide, so they suggested that I put it all on hold and stroll around to mull it over, which I did. We said good bye and I thanked them for the rescue. Shortly afterwards, I got a text from Nuran – ‘Where are u? I have somthng to show u.’ They turned up a few minutes later with a box – they’d bought me one of the skirts I was looking at, for my birthday. I am not making this up. Like a total attitude overhaul wasn’t enough.

The next day, I wore one of my new outfits around town. It has a great 50s feeling to it – one of the other mums at school said I was “channeling my inner Betty Draper.”

You don’t have to tell me – I know the bike helmet really completes the look. Mmm.

(I had a great string of vintage beads from my friend Lori that had the exact same green as the skirt. Sweet!)

Ok listen up, fellow shopping detesters – I’ve seen the light. You need teammates. The kind who will, through gentle guidance or outright bullying, get you to expand your image of yourself. They’ll tell you what looks good and give confidence to wear what you truly like. Yes, it is frivolous. Yes, your confidence should come from within and your clothes shouldn’t make a difference, except for the fact that they do because we make visual decisions and judgements incessantly, subconsciously, and we can’t stop it.

On Friday, I rode my bike around town with a grin on my face because I felt terrific, and it wasn’t just the cut of my new skirt, or the lovely compliments I received that gave me such a boost. It was camaraderie.

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Day One

Posted by laura on Aug 25 2010 | School

Back to school – I dread it, and then when it arrives it’s actually quite fun to see everyone again. There’s a beautiful sense of hope that will hum for a week or two while everyone compares summers and gets to know new teachers.

It didn’t hurt that it was a goldilocks day all around. Not too hot, not too foggy – just right. The kids like their teachers so far, and they each have good friends in class, which doesn’t hurt.

Here’s a back to school story in which poor parenting (finally) pays off.

Last week, a number of smart parents we know were easing their kids back into earlier bed and rising times, to make the transition to school time a little less painful. Oh yes, we thought, of course you’d do that. But then we just kept filling our evenings and staying up late, and we’d think, we’d really better get on that transition action. Then on Monday night we got all indignant and said “It’s the last real summer night!” and let them stay up a bit later – nothing crazy, mind you, but late enough that we were sure we’d officially blown any shot at a normal sleep schedule for the night before school. The kids would be groggy and listless, and it would be squarely our fault.

Then Tuesday night rolled in, and wouldn’t you know it was just like Tuesday day, which was HOT. HOT HOT HOT. Hot enough to prove our kids really should not ever live in the south (heck I’m not sure they could make it in Novato) since the heat made them completely pathetic, and that night they could not sleep a wink. Honey wandered into our room at midnight groaning; she’d never sleep again in her life. Then, understandably, she crawled in next to me and conked out, because it’s so much cooler squashed in between your parents.

Can you even imagine how grumpy we’d be today if we’d invested all that effort into a proper sleep transition? That was a close one.

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What Just Happened?

Posted by laura on Aug 24 2010 | Fun, Holiday

Would the little squirt who pressed fast forward on the season remote please report immediately to my office? Speed up the end of winter any time you like, but summer?! You stinker. I swear the last day of school was yesterday, but somehow the kids are supposed to go back tomorrow. Plus, we had weeks, I tell you WEEKS of freezing fog and today it was 100 degrees. Now that just burns me up. (oof)

A week ago we had a great visit with Mum & Dad and Claire & Andy and the kids. What a party! Highlights? Too many – but here goes.


Unfortunately for all, Honey had to have another oral surgery the day after everyone arrived. She was down for the count the next day, so Tourguide Tom took the rest of the gang into the city to hunk around.

Nothing beats the ferry into San Francisco, even on a windy day that leaves your hair in knots.

Even waiting for the ferry is fun.

They looked for one of the old trams to take them up Market street, and this one was headed in the right direction.

It was absurdly busy downtown that day, but they had a good look around the whole Yerba Buena Gardens area.


For the opposite experience, the next day we wandered around Muir Woods.

This is a place that always catches my breath. After the woods, we visited the shore – Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands.

Doesn’t everybody look happy? We were FREEZING.

If you look at the photo above, you’ll see a chunk of land just above Honey’s head, on the right. Dad kept calling it his brick – it just sits there, very like a brick, with the water crashing all around it. Well Dad, it turns out your brick has an official name. Bird Island. I know it – totally boring, but there you have it.

The Headlands are dotted with old military batteries, and after we left the beach, we drove up to Battery Mendell, right on the point of land you see next to the brick. Here’s the view from up there:

Look at that coast! I love taking visitors up here because it really feels like California to me. No graceful slide into the green Pacific, but it’s rugged without being harsh somehow.

Here’s a view back towards the city from the Battery Wallace area, on the other side of Point Bonita:


Our second San Francisco day focused on the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Boy do we love this place. We got there early enough to just walk right into the rainforest exhibit, which used to be impossible to get to when the museum first opened after its renovation. It was still so chilly outside that it felt incredible to step into this lush warm environment.

And the aquarium! Always magnificent and mysterious.

After the museum we stopped by Chrissy Fields for some nice views of the city, some hot chocolate, and some more wind.

It was good for the boats, though! Here’s a view of the bridge from Fort Point:

It was a fantastic visit, and boy were they all troupers as we packed a greatest hits tour into just a few precious days. Whew! I hope they’re all still napping.

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More Beach

Posted by laura on Aug 09 2010 | Fun, Holiday

I’m not quite done with our holiday recap, despite the fact that things have been hopping around here! We just had an incredible weekend, but I’ll just give some highlights:
- We had a garage sale on Saturday morning. We got rid of a whole bunch of things but managed to keep our marriage. Olé!

- Saturday afternoon, Amy and Peter invited us into the city for dinner with a bunch of friends. In particular, we got to see Pauline, Dave and their boys, who are visiting from Seattle, so that was spectacular. The food was magnificent and the visit even better. What a great night.

- Sunday afternoon we participated in a badminton invitational at Courtney and Russell’s house. The hosts were charming. The competition was fierce. I won’t lie – I have some suspicions that certain participants were using their ridiculously cute children to disarm their opponents. Those dirty tactics aside, it was awesome. We also discovered that Honey has clearly inherited some skills from her badminton-champion grandmother, so she’ll be someone to watch at the San Rafael Open.

Today we got back to business – swim class, laundry, reading, summer. We’re still just going on faith that it’s actually summer here, of course, as we bundle up in our fleece. I’m a little nervous for our east coast visitors this week. They certainly know cold, but boy are they out of practice! I’d better prep the hot water bottles.

But let’s get back to real summer. Here’s what it looks like:


These are the shirts we made last year for the 2009 Hampton Beach Skee Ball Team.

We don’t know any of those guys.


First, address the ball.

That’s it for me. Time to put on my flannel pajamas and head to bed!

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Posted by laura on Aug 04 2010 | Fun, Holiday

Yes, we’ve been back from our east coast trip for a week and a half and I’m just getting around to this post. You are probably figuring it’s the staggering number of photos, or perhaps the intimidating stack of stories that’s holding me back, right? Or maybe you know me better and assume I’m just sitting around drinking scotch and watching Mad Men.

As it turns out, you’re… you’re… well you’re partially right on that one. BUT I have a bone to pick with you nonetheless. Last week it seemed like a really grand idea to give Honey’s room an overhaul. I had terrific images of snapping my fingers and getting that room shipshape in no time, but as it turns out, Mary Poppins was magic and I’m not quite so when I snapped I triggered an avalanche. I’ve been buried in that room for days, under piles of drawings and stuffed animals and clothes and Japanese erasers and dress ups and stuffed animals and cleats and playmobil and stuffed animals and bags and books and figurines and mysterious clay objects and did I mention stuffed animals? Days, guys. Did you hear the muffled cries for help? That was me.

I’m totally asking for a Saint Bernard for Christmas.

The good news is that I finally clawed my way back up to the surface. There might even be some photos once the room is completely back in place. In the meantime, here are some beach shots.

Ahhhhh. Really is there anything like the beach? (Thanks to Tom for those middle two images.) We had a spectacular time, and it’s good to be home. I think.

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