Explain Your Reasoning

Posted by laura on Oct 14 2010 | School, Uncategorized

Honey is working on her math homework in the next room. One of the problems asks for an explanation of her answer.

“Do you spell because b-e-c-a-u-s-e?”

“Yes.”

“How do you spell decimal? Oh wait. Never mind.”

[long pause]

“How do you spell ta-da?”

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Colorful Birthday

Posted by laura on Oct 12 2010 | Fun, Tasty

Honey’s birthday landed on a Friday this year, so it coincided with soccer practice. Since our Friday practices are a bit of a party every week, we decided to bring some cupcakes. And Tom rode up with a bunch of balloons, which made it super special. We went with a multicolored approach…

I finally bought one of those cupcake carrying thingamabobs after resisting for some time. It always seemed like a lot of plastic, and it’s not like we have cupboards just longing for items to fill them. However, after many a dicey bike ride with cupcakes packed into tins, I decided to take the plunge.

They worked out great! After practice, we rode home with one of Honey’s friends on the back of my bike. I gave her my camera and asked her to take a bunch of photos along the way. Here are a few of her shots:

It was a perfect 10.

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She’s Ten

Posted by laura on Oct 08 2010 | Awesome

How is it possible? Honey is double digits today.

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Lucky 13

Posted by laura on Sep 14 2010 | Awesome, Fun

On September 13th thirteen years ago, Tom and I had a humdinger of a wedding, surrounded by our incredible family and friends from all around the world. It wasn’t the wedding I’d always dreamed of. It was far more layered and beautiful than anything I could have imagined. It rocked.

Yesterday, he gave me a bouquet with lisianthus and delphinium – flowers I chose for my bouquet. Yes, he is that good. Thanks, Tom! Thanks for 13 lucky years. And thank you to all our near and dear who promised that day to guide and support us. I must admit, I’m still a little unclear on what some of you were modeling when you were dunking your heads in the ice buckets towards the end of the reception, but Tom and I have been faithfully following your lead these many years and it seems to be working.

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Shopping

Posted by laura on Sep 10 2010 | Bicycle, Tasty

We swung by the new Whole Foods on the way home from school the other day. I’m particularly fond of this WF because right in front of the store,¬†they installed a whole line of bike racks and a handy tool station for bikers – it’s thoughtful and convenient. When we rolled in that afternoon, I was particularly happy to see that every rack was taken and we had to double up with other bikes. As you know, I’m pretty keen on people using their bikes whenever possible, and not only for bombing down the roads head to toe in spandex.

Now here’s the funny thing we saw when we came out of the grocery store – it’s a little hard to see because of my rushed shot, but Don’t Worry. I’ll explain.

So let me set this up – we’re directly outside the store. Just past those green umbrellas on the left is the cart return place. To our immediate left, literally a foot away, is the parking lot. You can just see the row of bike racks in the back there, which extend off to the right behind the post. Here’s the kicker – in the foreground are the shopping carts that people have deserted, just feet away from both the cars and the cart return, and completely blocking the bike racks. You couldn’t pull the bikes out without having to move the carts.

Honey felt a little blue about it all, as you can see, but it was pretty funny. Occasionally it seems as though we drift around in our lives, not really seeing each other at all.

The huge bonus from that shopping trip, though, was figs. To me, figs are the airline tickets of the produce world – you watch them and wait for the price to drop a bit, and then suddenly they’re all gone. They know I need them, too, so they’re disinclined to drop in price. Well they finally budged a bit, and that was enough for me – here’s what we had for dinner that night.

And last night? Pork chops with roasted balsamic fig glaze… happiness.

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What a Weekend!!

Posted by laura on Sep 06 2010 | Awesome, Bicycle, Fun, Uncategorized

FRIDAY

Every Friday afternoon, Honey’s soccer team has a practice. I’ve mentioned it before, because we’ve had it this way for three years now – Friday soccer practice ends at 5pm and we all know that’s cocktail time. So we usually bring some snacks and drinks to the practice and kick off the weekend in style. Everyone lingers at the field for a little while before we all head off to our evening plans. It has to be one of the most civilized moments of the week, and I always look forward to it.

This past Friday, I was late for the practice for perhaps the first time, as I was looking after some extra kids that afternoon and one of them experienced an unfortunate convergence of hill, wide turn and speeding cyclist. Ouch. It all could have been much, much worse, but thanks to that, and this,

and another mother who happened to come along at the perfect moment to help with all the calls and details, we were able to keep it all together until the injured party’s mum could scoop him up and take him in for some stitches. He was exceptionally brave, and we were all pretty lucky.

[BTW I thought I'd already posted something on my sweet retro first aid kit, but it looks like I forgot. You can buy the reproduction kit right from the American Red Cross site and support the organization. It comes with basic supplies, but there's still space to trick it out with some extra items like large non-stick pads, which I can now tell you are quite nice to have if you need them!]

When the rest of us finally arrived at soccer practice (I thankfully didn’t lose or maim the other extra child along the way), my terrific friends had thrown a surprise birthday celebration for me. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it!

They were ridiculous – champagne, prosecco, delicious snacks… all organized by my extravagant friend Jill. Unbelievable. This is the life, I tell you. I am now spoiled beyond recognition.

This is how I arrived home that night. Lucky ducky.

That evening we had a relaxing, delicious meal at our friends’ house – and were there when our hero arrived with stitches in his hand. He was feeling much better and just beginning to experience the warm recognition that rightfully follows injury, so he was in a good spot. I heard one of the dads ask him how it happened, and he said, “Well, I was riding out of the school and I took the turn pretty wide and … lesson learned!” So darn great.

SATURDAY

A beautiful day here. Honey’s soccer team won their first game and even passed the ball to each other – a marked departure from their traditional strategy, which was give the ball immediately to the best player and watch her score. She still did half the scoring, but it was much more evenly played overall.

In the evening we drove down to Palo Alto for dinner with Needham friends, and that was tasty and quite fun. We loved catching up with our friends, and the area is really quite beautiful.

SUNDAY

Honey and I started out bright and early, with a trip to the Alameda Flea Market with Joan and the girls. It’s been nearly a year since our last trip and I was beginning to doubt the possibility of finding good items there at a reasonable price. We ended up having a terrific time and coming home with some treasures. Our timing was perfect – we waltzed right in the entry (when we left, the line had to be 45 minutes long) and started strolling through the booths sometime around 8am. Joan and the girls actually found some items they were looking for, which is a coup considering how hectic the market is. Honey found this ridiculously lovely jacket that honestly could have been made for her – the color and cut suited her perfectly.

She wore it the rest of the morning, she was so pleased. It had no size or materials tag inside – just one label:

I remember Mum mentioning “Princess Ann” clothes years ago, but I was surprised that I couldn’t find anything out about them online. Not that I spent a huge amount of time, but I was curious to see if I could figure out approximately when the coat was made, and I couldn’t find a thing about the label online. If anyone knows anything more about it, I’d love to hear.

Check out what I found:

Oh yes. We are Dance Masters of America.

And how about this?

Your eyes do not deceive you – a handbag with a watch built in. Wanna see it again?

Mm hm. That’s right. It still works, too.

As if that weren’t enough, Honey and and her friends scored four perfect, gorgeous velvet doll capes for $3 each. What a morning. And then, that night… we went to watch a professional women’s soccer game.

Our local team, SC Gold Pride, was playing the Boston Breakers. Talk about a dilemma! Who to cheer for? Both I guess. Although the Pride sure held their spot at the top of the league last night and played well and won. One of the most popular Bay Area players is named Marta – she’s from Brazil originally and played for the LA Sol last year before they dissolved the team this season. She just danced around the ball like you wouldn’t believe, and them BAM! Right into the corner of the goal. Yipes.

Fortunately/unfortunately the stadium isn’t huge and the game wasn’t too crowded, so we had great seats and a close view of the field. It was fun to walk up higher to see the patterns of play, and then sit close so you could really see the women’s footwork. We were all blown away.

On top of all that, there were contests to win shirts and signed balls and all the people in the stands were having such a great time. After the game, the players came out to give autographs, and Honey and Hot Wheels had never done that before. They lined up with all the other kids and held their programs out hopefully. Hot Wheels was so much shorter than the other kids, the players couldn’t even see his face – just a small hand stuck through a sea of legs and the gate. But these women were ridiculously nice. They took their time and smiled at all the kids, and some of them even chatted a bit.

When they got signatures, our kids turned back towards us, and I swear I will never, ever forget the looks on their faces. I simply wasn’t prepared for it – I thought it was terrific that the players would come out, but I totally underestimated the impact on our kids. They were radiant, all the way home. Hot Wheels fell asleep in the car, and as I carried him into the house, he stirred, then shot awake in a panic. “Do you have my program??!” This morning he wrapped it carefully in a plastic bag and hid it behind the shelves in his room. Maybe he’s afraid it will get stolen.

MONDAY

Thankfully our friend Amy decided that for her birthday this year, we should all get the day off. Wasn’t that nice of her? I thought so. We decided to do very little today. It was deliciously hot, and we took a walk and went over to Soccerfest, which is a soccer fundraiser/party they throw here in town each year. They usually try to have a professional player there to give a brief demonstration and talk to the kids, so Hot Wheels went over with his precious program from last night, just in case one of the Pride players was there. No such luck, but he had a great time on all the bouncy castles instead. We all got a little fried in the sun, just like we do each year, but it was fun nonetheless.

Now I have to go to bed. I hope you all had a great weekend!! Happy birthday Amy!

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Lordy Lordy

Posted by laura on Sep 02 2010 | Awesome, Fun

I just turned 40.

Somebody give my mother a stiff drink. It’s surprising enough to me, so I can only imagine what she’s going through. It’s been an awesome birthday though.

I’ve been showered with drawings and ridiculously cool presents and wonderful shared meals and drinks with friends – it’s been nothing short of spectacular.

Last night, Tom took me to the theater here in town to see and Impro Theatre production called Jane Austen Unscripted. Just as it sounds, the whole evening is an improvised play in the style of Jane Austen. I had to check that out. We laughed through the whole thing and were amazed at how difficult improv must be, although some of our favorite lines actually came at the expense of slip-ups the actors made. It was a great evening.

So far this is looking like it might be my favorite decade!

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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.

“Well…”

“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.”

“Really?!”

“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.

CITY DAY

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.

COUNTRY DAY

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:

CITY DAY PART DEUX

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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