Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

World Cup!!!!!!

Posted by laura on Jun 12 2010 | Fun, Uncategorized

Nothing beats the World Cup for improving a bad week.

We rounded this one out with Hot Wheels coming down with conjunctivitis on Thursday afternoon. Just because. In hindsight, we really should have welcomed Tom’s parents from Australia with a different greeting…

“Welcome back to America! We have some terrific, highly contagious specials for you this week: we’ve whooped up a house-blend cough that can leave you gasping, and we have a terrific side order of pink eye. Greeeaat. Would you like a fever with that? And shall we go ahead and bring azithromycin for the table?”

Overall, I guess we’re lucky in that the kids decided not to share the fun with the rest of us. Now we’re all done with the antibiotics and are cleared to hang out with our friends once more. Whether they’ll have us is another question.

Everything is all right now – we just watched England vs. USA. Completely turned me around. Lucky squeak by the US, eh? All I can say is, thank you soccer gods, because we know some marriages that were threatening to dissolve over the outcome of that game.

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Things Are Looking Up for Hot Wheels

Posted by laura on May 18 2010 | Fun, Uncategorized

I bet you could hear his heart pounding from there. Our friend Sherri came by with her new (unfortunately temporary) wheels this afternoon and very kindly let Hot Wheels live the dream for a few minutes. We had to hold onto his ankle when he got out, lest he float away.

That’s not all, folks – the good news continues for this boy, what with all the news reports circulating about kids who lie. Apparently a study quoted in The Telegraph this week reports that early lying indicates a “fast-developing brain.” So when one of the well-meaning parents at a recent birthday party asked Hot Wheels about his bazillion allergy-related scratches and he blithely explained that they were from skateboarding… that was just his brain growing! He doesn’t even skateboard! The career opportunities are making my head spin.

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More Random Notes

Posted by laura on May 03 2010 | Uncategorized

It’s been a tilt-a-whirl spring – crazy rain and wind one day, followed by glorious sunshine the next. We’ve skidded into some gorgeous summery days, though, and are making the most of it. Like early weekend-morning dashes to the beach before it gets crowded:

And appreciating the stunning new growth in all the yards:

The other week I had a plan for a crazy hike with my friends to pack in some serious exercise, but when we met up it turned out that one of our hikers had tweaked her knee and couldn’t go. This is what happens when my friend Nuran is faced with such a tragedy: she says, “Alright. You come back to my house for lunch.” And that’s it – the voice of authority. Never ever question it, because here’s what you get:

I dream of being able to just toss something like this together without any advance notice. (Frankly, I dream of having my house be clean enough to just bring everybody home without advance notice. One step at a time, kids.) This soup was the most incredible red lentil concoction with a mint something or other drizzled on the top. It was so good I didn’t even know what it was. Nuran’s like that, though – she can dive into an empty refrigerator and come out with a gourmet meal. I’m sticking to her like white on rice, hoping to absorb a bit of her magic. Check it out – she even has fairies in her backyard tree:

For those of you who happened to follow along a bit with the story of Nuran’s daughter’s fight with leukemia, the great update is that she’s really doing well. Transplant successful, back at school, stunningly beautiful as always and lovely. Keep the good thoughts going, because she’s really amazing.

Now I’m jamming to get myself packed up and organized for a quick trip to Boston. Just me this time, so I’d better go make sure I have all the arrangements lined up for the next few days!

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This Week in March

Posted by laura on Mar 25 2010 | Fun, School, Uncategorized

Here’s a little of what’s going on around here:

I have this one scrappy lilac bush in back that pops out about seven clumps of blossoms every spring and then spends the rest of the year feeling just a bit sorry for itself. It ain’t pretty, most of the time, but it sure is worth it for these two weeks in March, when I can bury my nose in those tiny purple blossoms and transport myself back in time. I’m usually about six, tangled in the stalky base of that lilac at the front corner of our house, surrounded by lush, leafy sweetness and the drone of bees and distant lawn mowers. Sometimes I’m older and in the kitchen, and Mum has just brought in an armful of lilac branches to put in a big vase, and the room is filled with that incomparable relief of spring.

We’re marching inevitably closer to our Sutter’s Fort day, now just a week away. I’ve been stitching up the bags for the students and writing this letter to Honey. They have a surprise mail call up at the fort, and all the parents are meant to submit letters to their children, written in a style appropriate to the time and their children’s characters. Honey’s character is Ellen Murphy (appropriately enough) and I managed to dig up a little bit about the party she traveled with across the frontier, so I was able to send her a letter from a pretend friend back in Missouri.

She probably won’t be able to read a third of the letter, due to my erratic calligraphy and some vocabulary that’s a touch past its expiration date. Although I should not, I’m just going to say now that it’s a pretty fine letter. My first go at fourth grade may have been a bit shaky, but this time I’m nailing it.

Honey, on the other hand… seriously. She’s a week away from portraying a young woman from the 1840s, and she goes and gets braces put on her teeth. Where’s the commitment to authenticity, people?! Sheesh. I told her she’s simply not allowed to smile that day. Or eat. Or talk, for that matter.

No, but really. She has braces now. In fact, she has so much paraphernalia in her mouth, I shudder to think of her next trip through the metal detectors. (Ok, so I just spent 10 minutes trying to spell paraphernalia. Somebody tell me what that ‘r’ is doing in there.) She’s in good spirits, though.

Of course there’s always a lot of this going on around the house. We were particularly fond of this arrangement. Hot Wheels is being his usual goofy self. Yesterday he played himself in a game of Go Fish – open hand. It was so funny to listen to that a couple of times I had to write down what he said. Here’s a little glimpse (now I realize it can be annoying to write the way kids pronounce words instead of the proper word, so I’m just throwing it out there that the whole game, Hot Wheels said “fiss” instead of “fish”):

“Do you have a 4?

Nope – go fish.

Do you have a queen?

Aauugh – you are the master of this game!!

No I’m not – you’re still winning!

Do you have a 6?

Go fish.

Do you have an 8?

Haw, man! ¬†You’re beating me up!”

That’s the way it went. Not sure yet whether this warrants creative writing class or therapy.

So there you have it – March Madness.

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All In A Day

Posted by laura on Mar 02 2010 | Bicycle, Uncategorized

This morning

This afternoon

This morning was more than grey and rainy. This morning was downright surly. The rain sheeted down and gusts slapped at our legs. It wasn’t pretty. This afternoon, the day was all, “I’m so, so sorry! I just – I don’t know what got into me. Honest, I didn’t mean it – here, I made this bright sparkly for you.” And just like that, we forgave it, like it won’t do the same thing again tomorrow. We’re such suckers sometimes.

My bike had a new first today – check it out!

As I rolled away from school, a dad called out, “Hey, is it legal to have a volcano on your bike?”

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Random Holiday Notes

Posted by laura on Jan 07 2010 | Holiday, Making, Uncategorized


Christmas Eve gingerbread house construction at Sherri and Rik’s house

There’s something about all those small bowls filled with twisted red vines, ruby red hots, sparkling sugar gumdrops… it’s a story, a fairy tale. We had such a beautiful Christmas Eve, warm and bright, with amazing friends.


Holiday boats

Every December, we make sure we take a night drive to look at the holiday lights. It’s particularly fun when you live near water.



Don’t believe me?


Yup, homemade! Right until about a month ago, I never even imagined that you could just up and make marshmallows. Here’s a confession – I don’t even like marshmallows all that much. The taste, that is. I’m nuts about their shape and powdery softness – they’re gorgeous. But the only way I can eat them is perfectly toasted and squashed between graham crackers and chocolate. (You could probably make just about anything taste good with that method.) These were really fun to make, though, and the kids ate them for me so that was a win-win.


Santa Bags

It wouldn’t be a proper Christmas without one crazy 11th hour project on my part. This year, it was making bags to leave out for Santa (we’re all about saving Santa some time on a busy night). So there I was, two nights before Christmas, whipping up random bags out of old shirts, pajamas, dresses, you name it. The good news? They’re super fast to make, they work, and Christmas morning cleanup is a snap!


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Happy New Year!

Posted by laura on Jan 06 2010 | Holiday, Tasty, Uncategorized

Resolution #1: Stop ignoring blog.

Holidays are the best and worst times to have a blog. They’re overflowing with all the kinds of activities I like most, which means I have plenty to talk about but no time in which to say it. We were a whirlwind of seasonal festivities. My lists had lists.

Now that the wrapping paper has settled a bit, I’ll put up a few posts with highlights and nonsense from the past couple of weeks.


Say no more, right?


Double chocolates (some with sea salt for an extra bit of happiness).




Ginger trees (Hot Wheels helped me ice these with white icing and sparkling sugar to look like they had snow on them, and then we stood them all over a chocolate cake with white frosting sprinkled with coconut to make a woodsy scene. Lesson learned: ginger and chocolate? YUM.)


Christmas cookies in process.


Christmas cookies in action. And upside down. And on a plate. And in a house. This is fast becoming the Dr Seuss cookie edition.

Absent on photo day:

- massive chocolate chips

- meringues

Let me tell you a quick story about those meringues, actually. They were my Christmas Miracle Cookies. (You’d think if they were that significant, I’d have gotten a photo of them, but no.) I’ve been having bad meringue karma around here. For years, I made them without a thought. Just whipped them up when necessary and never had a problem. Lately, I haven’t been able to make them work; I’ve been cursed by the sticky meringue gods and every attempt has been a flop. Or a glop, if you were to try them.

So when I found myself the night before Christmas Eve with three egg whites and no plan for them, I thought, “Don’t do it, Laura. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.” But it was Christmas, by gum, and I was armed with my new Baker’s Illustrated cookbook. I followed the instructions to a T. The meringues actually held their form while I attempted to shape them into little trees (for the aforementioned cake tableau). I baked them super slow, and didn’t open the oven until it had been off for about 5 hours. I tasted them… sticky. Rrrgh. I went to bed Scroogily.

The next morning I complained to Tom that yet again, I messed up the meringue and didn’t know how. “Where are they?” he asked. “In the oven. I’m not talking to them.” Tom pulled them out. “They look good!” he said hopefully. “That’s what they want you to think.” I grumbled. He snapped one in half.

He snapped one in half. It snapped!! It was dry, and light, and just right – cue the choir, people, we have liftoff! What’s Christmas without a (albeit very very small) miracle?

Here’s a shot of the table from our Christmas Day open house:


Holy potato chips, Batman! That’s a big bowl. I didn’t realize how huge it looked. Of course, they were gone in a heartbeat, leaving that poor glass jar of celery and carrots to wonder if they’d every be asked to dance. Seriously, though, I don’t know why I ever bother with celery. Does anyone eat it? We put it out just to feel noble, I think.

What you can’t see, on the very edge of the table, is the ricotta pie. Oh yes, I did it, and it isn’t even Easter! (For those of you who’ve never heard about Lena’s Ricotta Pie, you can check it out here.) We never used to get this treat on a non-Easter day, but I broke that tradition wide open, I tell ya. A couple of our guests asked me what was in “the giant pop tart,” which momentarily offended my childhood sensibilities, but then I was forced to admit the resemblance. Poor pie.

I hope you also had a wonderful holiday filled with sweets and relaxation. Hmmm, that said, it looks like celery might just have its day, after all!

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I’ll Say

Posted by laura on Nov 17 2009 | Uncategorized


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Posted by laura on Nov 10 2009 | Uncategorized

Today’s post is just a small collection of random notes and observations from around our house the past few weeks. Bits and bobs. Let’s start with this guy:


Fall in Northern California means it’s humungo spider time. Spiders all over the place in sizes perhaps not rainforest-worthy, but nonetheless substantial. Spiders that turn the garden into one massive, intricate obstacle course. Spiders whose webs take the unsuspecting by surprise, sending them into fits and seizures, swiping at the air all around them. Walking into one of these webs is sticky, but the real issue is that you know the web maker is around somewhere and you do NOT want it in your hair.

One afternoon I was sitting on a toy box at the end of Honey’s bed and I turned to see this one right outside the window. I love the line quality of the web (and of the screen separating us).

While the kids were sick a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on Hot Wheels’ bed and I snapped this picture of his wall.


He loves putting his drawings all over the wall. Almost the moment a vehicle is down on paper, he’s dashing for the sticky tape. We finally bought some magnetic boards for his room, so he can have a rotating collection. We’ll probably get them hung sometime before he’s in high school.

Then one afternoon I opened the cupboard door in the kitchen to find this message:


Obviously this would be a little more successful if she’d rearranged the words a bit, or at least put a comma after ‘eat,’ but we get the point. Hands off my cookie crisp, Daddy. I can’t remember why he bought it for her (repression is a wonderful thing), but clearly he was violating the terms of their agreement.

The next two photos I’ll call “The Take.”



We’re looking at the morning after Halloween, here. This is the meticulous classification of candy species. The top image is Hot Wheels’ collection, the bottom is Honey’s, after they’ve finished trading all the candy he can’t eat (dang allergies) for the kinds he can have. Honey is generous and unhesitant to swap him for anything he can’t have, but you’ll see here that it’s clearly all in her favor. Who gets all the A-list candy? She does. Fortunately for him, he’s never had them, so he really doesn’t know what he’s missing! If he ever gets to try a Reese’s peanut butter cup, he’ll have to follow it up with some kind of therapy for sure.

Well that wraps up random-hour I think. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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


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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