Last full day at elementary school. Woohoooo!

You know, she rides down this hill many a morning with her hands up over her head, and I trail behind her with my heart in my throat. She’s been trying to teach me to ride hands free – she has a mantra that she repeats that has to do with sitting up straight and looking ahead, and I’d like to believe that I’m getting better at applying that to my life, although I still can not ride a bike without holding on.

She’s also trying to teach me how to hula hoop, and I’ll be honest – it’s not going any better.


It’s the last week of school! How exactly did that happen? I have catching up to do here, but first, let’s just have a word or two about this week. This is Honey’s last week in her elementary school, and somehow I ended up on the ‘graduation committee.’ Ok, that’s a bit disingenuous as I actually know exactly how it happened. It went like this:

My Friend Barb: “Hey, Laura, you should be on the graduation committee with me!”

Me: “OKAY!!!”

See how easy that was? Barb is a dangerous woman. It’s a good thing she doesn’t smoke. Suddenly there I was, on a committee with these ridiculously talented parents who were coming up with loads of great ideas and I was just hanging on for dear life. I have a suspicion that there’s a manual called “How to Succeed in Committees Without Really Trying” and that each these women has a dog-eared copy resting on her bedside table. It’s right next to the “How to Apply Makeup” manual, which I also seem to have missed.

In the end, the committee decided to call the event “Passport to Middle School” and go with a whole airplane/travel kind of thing, which I really liked because heck, who doesn’t love a theme, right? Plus I get a little itchy talking about ‘graduations’ before high school. (Curmudgeon.) Besides, who do you think came up with the idea? You guessed it – Barb.

I’ll get some photos of all the decorations as the week progresses, but one of my favorite things is that the diplomas are going to be handed out in what looks like oversized passports. Hard to describe, but they’re totally fantastic. The folder is blue with an embossed passport stamp on the cover, and inside is the diploma and a replica of the first page of a passport – the form was printed and the students wrote in their own names and place of birth, etc. Each one even has a photo – they look terrific.

The job I got was making the programs. Compared to what the other committee members have managed to pull together, I’m a little embarrassed that this is all I’ve really been doing besides just generally helping out. I was looking around the auditorium after one of the music performances a few weeks ago, though, and there remaining on every single chair was the program for the performance. It makes sense – during the event, it’s nice to know the names and numbers of all the players, but after the event, well, it’s not exactly a keepsake. This got me thinking; what program would be tempting to keep?

Playing off the theme, I came up with a boarding pass and itinerary sheet as the event program. Not a novel idea, but maybe just that bit closer to sliding into the diploma folder rather than into the recycle bin. Here’s the program cover:

And here’s the ‘itinerary.’

Of course, none of the students will have the slightest idea what this is – there’s nothing quite like dating yourself in front of 84 fifth graders.

I was feeling pleased that the design used just a third of a sheet of paper for the cover and one single sheet for the content, but a graphic designer I am not, and there were a couple of elements I forgot. First and foremost – to get the full bleed on the cover (that’s having the color run all the way off the paper without a white border), I’d need to print these on a printer, not at the copy shop. Second, just to photocopy the second sheet in color turned out to be over $100, which was my budget for the whole thing.

My trusty old garage sale paper cutter and I spent some quality time together today.

It kept snickering at our printer, which would print three sheets and then completely spin out. “OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod there’s NO PAPER in the tray!!” I’d open the paper tray, poke the stack of paper a couple of times and slide it back in. Then the printer would print a few more sheets and moan, “Oh man. That’s it. I think – yep, I’m SURE, now I’m totally out of Cyan.” I’d replace the ink cartridge, it would hum along for a few more pages and then, “Oh NO!!” What is it now? “There’s NO PAPER in the tray!!!! AUGH!!!! I can’t work like this!!!!!” No, printer, there’s plenty of paper in the tray. Meanwhile the paper cutter just kept on cutting. I swear, it was like working between the prima donna and the stage hand of the print production world.

Eventually though, we made it to the end. 200 cover sheets.

I brought the second sheets to Kinkos for copying (in black and white) and folding, so tomorrow I can staple them all together. All in all, I was psyched that it came together more easily than I anticipated. Everything takes doing, though. There’s this whole team of people coming up with ideas and decorations and plans to make this event fun and thoughtful for the students, but unless you did any of these jobs, you probably wouldn’t know what’s entailed.

Today I was in the classroom helping the students complete a small project that will be part of the design on the walls of the school auditorium. Having pored over all their names on the diplomas and passports and programs over the past couple of weeks, I feel as though I know each one of them intimately at this point. I walked past one of the students and asked, “Sarah, are you finished with your writing?” She looked up at me and said yes. Then she paused, narrowed her eyes at me and asked warily, “Wait… how do you know my name?”

For a split second I was sorely tempted to say, “Sarah, I’m from the future and I’m here to save your life but there’s no time to talk – a cyborg assassin is blowing up the front office as we speak! RUN!!” But I didn’t, because she’s a child and she has no business watching that movie yet. I figured I should stick with honest and reassuring, so I said, “I’m a mother. We know everything.”

The Dog Ate My Blog Post. And my Plants, and my Pillows, and my Porch…

I’ve never had a puppy before. Here’s the thing – it turns out when people say it’s like having another baby, only worse, they’re not actually joking around with you. We brought home this adorable fluff of fur, and the next thing you know she’s totally running our lives. There we were, making neurotic charts

just to keep her from having accidents in our little house, we were up at all hours of the night… scratch that. Tom was up at all hours of the night. I did that two times¬†already, for many, many months, so I got a pass on that job this time around because Tom is awesome. But there were so many things I didn’t (still don’t) understand! Why did she go totally and unbelievably bazonkers at the same time every day? Why does she have to dig a hole to China every chance she gets?

And why, oh why, does she have to eat absolutely every single object she comes across? Not lick, sniff, chew, but ingest? She’s like¬†a miniature Godzilla ransacking everything in her path. There’s the usual range of odd and disgusting things, but she also has a deep fondness for the trash in the bathroom, and the plastic pots that you buy plants in, and all forms of dead and discarded things that any sentient being should seriously want to avoid. As a matter of fact, it’s oddly appropriate that even as I type this she’s moaning and gagging in her crate from some unknown indigestion.

By now you’re wondering, what’s the big deal? Puppies are a lot of work. Give us something more exciting, Laura! Give us a saga! Fine. You asked for it. (Literally. This one’s for you, Pam!)

The month was February. Just to keep things interesting, I made an appointment to have all my wisdom teeth pulled. It was a long time coming, and even though many friends asked me why I’d want to go through that at my age (thanks a lot, friends), anyone who has young children and a puppy would appreciate that I actually looked forward to this surgery like a week at the spa. Anesthesia guaranteed at least one hour’s solid sleep, recovery offered the possibility of more sleep and maybe even a movie or two… I was golden.

Then the week before my surgery, poor Honey got super duper sick. She had some insane intestinal bug or bacteria that landed her in the ER one night, getting fluids and lots of tests and lots of bills. It was a serious drag for her, but she started to pull out of it by the end of the week. She was up a lot in the night, so we inflated the Aerobed under the bunk in her room and I slept with her at night to help her out. One early morning, we were both sleeping peacefully when suddenly I woke to the very distinct feeling that something was plucking at the bottom of the bed. Honest to goodness, it felt like an animal was plucking at the mattress from below. As you can imagine, it freaked my freak, and after I released my grip on the ceiling, I determined that there was not actually anything in the room with me, so whatever it was had to be under the house. Then I very reasonably started whaling on the floorboards with my fist, because, well, that oughta learn ’em, right?

I grabbed Honey out of a deep sleep and dragged her into the guest bed, then ran into our room and woke Tom up, saying, “Tom! I need you.”

“Right!” he said, popping out of bed, instantly awake and on full alert. Did I mention he’s awesome? We pulled Honey’s room apart just to be sure, and then called the exterminators, because we had rats under the house. From the feel of it, mutant zombie rats the size of bobcats. Good times.

We spent the weekend dealing with that issue, and the following week I was prepping the house for my surgery. I cleaned everything, cooked ahead, lined up playdates, you know the drill. My surgery was set for Friday morning. On Thursday, Tom took Twix for a walk. When they came home, we noticed that one of her toenails looked like she’d pulled it out a bit, and it was bleeding. After watching her for a while, I called the vet for some advice and they said to just bring her by. Well it turned out she must have snagged the nail (which was trimmed!) on something, and – wait for it – broken her toe. No problem, the vet said, just drop her off in the morning, we’ll put her under and fix the toe, and she’ll be fine in a week or two.

So Twixie and I went in for surgery bright and early on the same day. Fortunately I did not get a cone of shame – I just got six weeks of soft foods and some very intimidating bruises. Luckily, through it all, Tom was (say it with me) awesome.

tl;dr. insane puppy, intestinal sadness, ER, rats under house, puppy surgery, wisdom teeth surgery, still married.

The Dog Ate My Blog Post

Seems to me, if you step away from your blog for a quick snack and don’t come back for months, your return post better have a hook. I spent some time thinking about it, and finally determined that the best way to jump back in would be with a tale of dreams-come-true.

Let’s travel back to December, where we last left off. (I know, it’s so 2010.) Here’s a quick reminder of those halcyon days…

The fridge covered with gorgeous Christmas cards from our family and friends…

An unbelievably stormy Christmas Day – it poured buckets and we wondered if anyone would venture out to our open house in the afternoon.

Thank heavens they did – how would we have eaten that mound of carrots and sugar snap peas by ourselves? Cheese I can handle, but crudite should never be tackled alone.

But I digress.

The kids had a wonderful morning and received some stellar gifts, but there was a whopper in there. Anyone who knows Honey will remember that she’s waged an ongoing campaign for a dog for at least 5 years. The girl is nothing if not persistent. Well, this year she wrote a letter to Santa that basically said – Please could I have a dog. That’s it, nothing else. We told her not to get her hopes up. Christmas arrived, she loved the presents and was super happy – even when we had a gift mixup that resulted in her thinking for a while that a tea cozy Gini had sent for me was a new hat, she was delighted. Then she pulled this out from under the tree –

A letter from the jolly man himself, telling her that somewhere there was a dog that needed our family, and her job was to find it. Honey went ballistic.

And that, my friends, is where the caroling ended and the crazy began.

The great hunt was on – we visited shelters all along the Northern California coast, and we went waaay off the beaten track. We met a LOT of dogs.

I remember when Tom and I were first looking for our house, I kept thinking that one day we’d walk into a house and just know it was the one. A year later, I had my doubts. We found it, but I never had that epiphany I expected. Turns out the dog search went very much the same way. We met so many great dogs. They all seemed to have potential, but I never had that resonating moment. Of course our kids had that resonating moment with every single solitary animal we came across, including a couple of cats and a horse. That made the search just a bit more fraught, as every time we turned away from a shelter empty armed, they were crushed.

However. Eventually it clicked. We went to the Humane Society one more time and met an extremely bouncy, fun puppy. She was wriggly and happy and incredibly friendly, and most importantly she had a sister. The sister was not quite so bouncy. She was a bit shy, and the first thing she did when we approached her was to sit down and look up at us. The volunteers at the Humane Society told us that the bouncy friendly puppy was perfect for a family with kids, and we thought about it, and then we all agreed that we liked the quiet one better.

We named her Captain Twix. Isn’t she adorable?

Look at that face. Doesn’t it just melt your heart? Could a perfect face like that ever cause you any grief?

As it turns out, it can. Oh yes.

So there you have it, I lied up above. My returning blog hook is not actually a dreams-come-true story – it’s a cliffhanger.


Hot Wheels is in a sweet spot. He just turned 7. He’s still completely obsessed with cars and numbers and running super fast. He’s competitive and sometimes a total knucklehead, but at the same time he’s surprisingly tender. There’s a curiosity in him that hasn’t yet been locked into any assumptions about what he should or shouldn’t like. He’ll play Mario Kart or Pretty Pretty Princess, he doesn’t care if he’s hanging out with boys or girls, he still gives me a big hug and a kiss at school. It’s AWESOME.

I’m trying hard not to clutch at this moment. It’s fleeting – at some point his actions and his preferences will be choices as much as they are inclinations. He’ll start listening to the way his classmates talk; he’ll start caring what they say about him. But right now, it’s glorious. I have to work at not being a total sap around him because every day is just funny and pure.

Except for one thing. I’d like to have a word about entrapment. It always starts innocently enough, but in a heartbeat you’re in hot water. This morning, “Mummie, who invented the Frosty the Snowman song?” led to “Who invented Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?” to “Is Rudolph real?”

See what he did there? He didn’t even touch the big man, but we all know where this is going. I think I’d better start clutching at the moment, because it looks like next week it’s going to be insider trading.


We’ve taken to playing Scrabble, or Scramble, as Hot Wheels calls it, over dinner.

I think it just might be the perfect game for Hot Wheels, since he’s what you might affectionately call a ‘reluctant reader,’ but he loves with a bright hot passion any game that involves points and scores. He’s not competitive at all, oh no. Scrabble is the best of all worlds, then, for him – word construction with points!!

This actually reminds me of a funny moment today in ballet class. My buddy Dorothy decided to opt out of one tricky across-the-floor combination, and as she ambled over to the side of the studio where our teacher was queuing up the music, I heard the teacher ask, “Wanna keep score?” The concept made me laugh – Dorothy over on the side of the studio with a clipboard, marking points off for mistakes, holding up big numbers with our final scores. I could almost hear the commentators murmuring as I crossed the floor – “Oooh, that’s going to cost her.”

Anyways, back to Scrabble. Let’s just have a closer look at the board from the other night:

Nothing too spectacular, here, although I was fond of a couple of our words, like ‘clique.’ Let’s see,we earned 34 points for that. Not too shabby. Now, let’s take a look at Hot Wheels’ word up there in the corner. ‘Zips.’ Four letters (the blank tile is an ‘s’). 75 points.

75 points. Doh!

Now he’s obsessed with how many points he can earn. He’s all over the story about the carpenter who earned the highest points for one word (and subsequently one game) in tournament play. Which probably makes him one of the few first graders around to have a fondness for the word ‘quixotry.’ That’s just a hunch I have.

Back Again

Hey – did you know it’s November? What just happened??

It’s time for a little catch up. First things first though – I have to wish my awesome nephew a super happy wonderful birthday! Here he is:

He’s a little elusive. Not quite as elusive as his sister, though.

Lots of birthdays this month – Dad’s was on Sunday, and a number of our cousins and their gorgeous kids had birthdays recently (or very soon!) – many happy returns to all the November greats. Hot Wheels hit seven a week ago Saturday, and I’m not sure there’s been a happier birthday boy in history. I’m not sure what it was, but he truly relished this one. As a matter of fact, he started relishing it at 3am Saturday morning.

“Can we get up?”

“Huh? NO!”

I can still hear myself saying, “It’s twenty-to-five, honey – we can’t get up yet,” and himself saying, “But it’s so hard to wait!!!” Finally, finally, it hit six and we all got up. And so began the happiest birthday I’ve ever witnessed. There wasn’t anything particularly crazy. He didn’t get a puppy or a Ferrari. He just had a terrific, wonderful day. There was birthday toast, of course:

And presents:

And bowling…

which was hysterical. We went with three of his friends, and one of Honey’s friends. Despite lots of coaching and pleading, the boys felt strongly that this was actually training for the shot-put, and they’d launch the ball, from the shoulder, onto the lane. Ka BLAM, it would land and then creep its way towards the pins. The boys were all chill. Sometimes they wouldn’t even watch the ball go all the way down the lane.

Yeah. It’s cool. Whatever.

The girls, on the other hand, were completely into it. They each bowled one ball for every turn, figuring they’d help each other out that way. It worked too – we were calling them the Spare Sisters by the end of the afternoon.

This next shot is blurry, unfortunately, but it’s the only picture I got of them doing their happy dance.

After that, it was back to the house for dinner and cake and a sleepover which remarkably had as much sleep as over. How that happened I’ll never know.

Go Giants!

Today was a big one for San Francisco for sure. So many of our friends ditched work and school to hit the parade in the city. What a party! I’m not so great with the big crowds myself, so I was happy just to check in on the live feed from time to time. It was a thrill nonetheless to see everyone going nuts. As a Red Sox Nation native, the atmosphere here throughout the series had a familiar blend of hope and disbelief, but without a certain bitterness.

The games were great, but my favorites for personal reasons were #4 and #5. Four, because it happened on Halloween night, and I’ll never forget trick or treating through our neighborhood, where every house had the game on and it seemed every other pumpkin glowed with a Giants logo or message. Parents were tracking the game on their phones and peering into windows to check out the action. The runs in the 7th and 8th filled the streets with cheers – it was like watching the game with the whole town. Game 5 was just plain awesome. Lincecum and Lee! Rentaria! A great game, and when it ended, Honey and I ran outside to cheer and listen to the hollers coming from all the houses and the restaurants nearby. People in the streets were honking and yelling long after the game ended, and it was fantastic. I think our kids will remember this one for a long time.

Maybe you saw the piece in the Onion last week about the series – it was titled “Nation Disappointed By Great World Series Matchup,” and it had me laughing. It’s hard to pick a favorite line, since it summed up a certain World Series attitude so nicely, but here’s one I particularly liked:

“The Tim Lincecum versus Cliff Lee thing could be really riveting to watch, and I suppose seeing the managers use gritty, methodical small ball to manufacture runs could be entertaining if you like that sort of thing,” 27-year-old Los Angeles resident Mike Lester said. “But I don’t want well-played World Series baseball that keeps me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I want the teams I expected, and the players I expected playing bitterly to the outcome I expected.”

(Here’s a link to the piece itself in the Onion, October 27 Issue 4643.) Next I’d love to see a sendup of the insane baseball statistics – “Huff is only the second first baseman in NLCS playoff history with three consecutive at-bats in the second game with his shoelaces triple-tied.” Seriously, it’s ridiculous.

I sure am glad there isn’t a real life version of those kinds of statistics. Let’s just consider the Thanksgiving play by play for a moment. “And with that turkey hitting the table at 20.7 minutes past the posted dinner start, Foley maintained an average of just .75 HAR (hosts above replacement), and despite a decent performance in the final course, there’s a good chance she won’t get picked up for the following holiday season.” Not pretty.