My Photo
Name:
Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

 

Halloween greetings from a boo-tiful butterfly

My child agreed to wear a costume to the preschool parade and party!

Even though last night when she went to bed, she swore she wanted to wear the Dora costume I put together for her (made is too strong a word when there was no sewing involved), this morning she changed her mind like only a fickle preschooler can. Lucky for me, I had another costume at the ready. Gold star for this mommy.

Here she is...

Butterfly
Butterfly princess!


Butterfly - back
Boo-tiful wings


Butterfly and mom
A boo-tiful butterfly and a happy mom


***
Technorati tags: , , ,

Monday, October 30, 2006

 

Happy Hall of Shame

Wow! Thank you for all of the replies to my question about how to stay organized. You people are amazing; there's no doubt about that. I have to admit, some of your methods postively scare me. They seem so complicated! But they also confirm what I suspected: Having an organizational system is key, especially when you have two or more kids in school and involved in extracurricular activities.

I've been busy at home lately, puttering around and doing home beautification projects. Nothing major, although I did expand my "hall of shame." You know what I'm talking about, right? The hall of shame is the hallway filled with embarrassing photos of your kids that they'll hate when they're old enough to date the opposite sex. Ideally, these photos in the hallway of shame should be no smaller than 8 X 10, be encased in ornate frames, and be poorly done studio portraits or--ideally--school pictures. Extra points for noticeable zits and braces.

This is a busy week for us. Today I hosted a Halloween party with playgroup friends. Emily refused to wear a costume, but Thomas was a cute robot. Err, I mean a sturdy, well-constructed, and intelligent robot. We had about 20 kids and 12 adults here at the house. Except for the "brownie ground into the playroom carpet" mishap, the party was a success and a good time was had by all. Needless to say, I'm tired right now. *Yawn!*

Playgroup Halloween Party


Tomorrow I have to figure out some way to get Emily into her costume for the parade at school. Or not. I'm pretty sure it matters more to me than to her. After school we're meeting Mike at work for Google's annual Halloween party. I can honestly say that I'm tired already.

And we can't forget that Wednesday is November 1 -- the first day of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo! Can you believe we're almost into November and the whole crazy holiday shopping season?? Stores are already bursting with Christmas stuff; I confess I've already bought wrapping paper and gift tags. And this Friday we're getting a family photo taken for our holiday card. Oh, and for another addition to the hall of shame. Perfect.

I've got to go. I've got the stash of brownies I hid from the kids calling my name. Nighty night.

Friday, October 27, 2006

 

How do moms stay organized?

Moms, I need your help. As evidenced by the pumpkin patch field trip fiasco when I not only forgot to bring the directions to the pumpkin patch but I also forgot to have the check ready to pay for Emily's school pictures, I clearly need help.

My question to you is: How do you stay organized when you've got school papers and kids's schedules to juggle?

I have been using a month-at-a-glance desk calendar for appointments/classes and I just put up a bulletin board for school papers. The calendar works okay (as long as I remember to put the event in the calendar), but the bulletin board failed me yesterday. Maybe I just need to make it a habit to LOOK on the bulletin board every day to see what's up?

Bulletin boards
Bulletin boards: A mom's best friend or a waste of wall space?


I also was thinking that I should make it a point to figure out all school-related paperwork the day I get it and not to put it off. I've noticed that stuff from school tends to have extremely short deadlines and doing it NOW is better than waiting until tomorrow.

What is your advice? Do you use an online system? A wall calendar? Different colored markers? Stickers? What wine goes best with school paperwork?

Thank you in advance.

***
Technorati tags: ,

Thursday, October 26, 2006

 

A Lunch of Love After a Field Trip From Hell

Today was one of those days that I didn't anticipate being difficult, that quickly turned difficult, and which made me realize that I should have known it would be difficult.

Get it?

Today I helped chaperone my first field trip. Emily's preschool class went to a pumpkin patch crowded with hundreds of kids and parents. Oh, the joy.

I thought it would be fun, I really did. But it just wasn't. It started out fine; Emily, Thomas, and I got to school in plenty of time. That was basically the last good thing that happened. After that I realized that I needed to write the check for Emily's school pictures today. Am I the only person who thinks that important need-to-know dates should be large and bolded and splattered on the top of a form rather than buried somewhere after paragraph three?

So I hurried back to the car to get Emily's picture folder and my checkbook and brought them back to the classroom, where I realized why I hadn't filled out the paperwork sooner. The photographer's instructions about how much the pictures cost where annoyingly difficult. As I struggled with the instructions, it became time to carpool to the pumpkin patch. I would figure out the photo thing there.

"Poo, mama!" was what Thomas said the minute I picked him up to scoot over to the car. Crap. Literally and figuratively. "I have to change my son's diaper... Can you wait for us?" I asked Emily's teacher, who nodded. I rushed the kids to the car, threw Emily in the back, and lifted the hatch to change Thomas's diaper. I felt bad that 10 carloads of families would have to wait for me to change a poopy diaper, but I needn't have worried because as I was changing him the cars began leaving the parking lot.

"Wait! wait!" I shouted, waving a wet wipe in the air like a distress flag. "Wait!" Nobody saw me. I fastened his diaper and ran over to the last minivan. "Will you wait for me? I don't know where we're going." The pretty young mom looked at me and said, "I don't know where I'm going either!"

I told her to go on and that I would catch up with her. I didn't want to be responsible for both of us wandering around Half Moon Bay in search of our preschool class. I buckled the kids as fast as I could and headed off in the direction of the land of pumpkin patches.

And if you think I was cursing, you're right.

I couldn't believe I didn't have directions to this pumpkin patch. I normally don't depend on other people for directions or help and today was a good reminder of why. After a frantic phone call to Mike, I got the teacher's phone number. I didn't call her because just then I caught up to the minivan of the pretty young mom, who seemed to know where she was going.

Except when I turned into the pumpkin patch and parked beside her, I realized that it wasn't her minivan! The minivan I had been following belonged to an older mom with two kids who looked like they were seven. Curses!

That's when I called the teacher and asked her where I was supposed to be going. She told me, although her directions seemed odd. Okay, I head up to Highway 1 and take a left and the pumpkin patch is on my left. "I'll meet you there," I told her. When I hit Highway 1, I realized why her directions were odd. Signs for the pumpkin patch started appearing, but there was no road. And then more signs appeared, but they were advertising a pumpkin patch with a different name. I was confused and so I kept driving. And driving. And driving.

Until I realized that I obviously had missed the &&*^%(## pumpkin patch and I would have to turn around. It was located where the mass of confusing signs were. The whole holiday of Halloweeen seemed to be conspiring against me at that moment. I had a headache and I felt like a failure. I couldn't even get my kids to a lousy preschool field trip.

We finally made it to what should be called The Hidden Pumpkin Patch, and I parked the car. Now to figure out the damn picture instructions so I could write my check and give it to the teacher. As I was sealing the envelope, the teacher walked up. Apparently, everybody was waiting for us so that the class could go on a hay ride. Crap. I didn't mention to her that I had asked the other teacher to wait for us back at the school; it didn't matter at that point.

The pumpkin patch itself would have been fun except for the hordes of kids and parents, the fact my head was throbbing, and my realization that I had miscalculated the picture money and would need to write a different check, this time while walking through a corn field and holding a toddler in one arm. Oh, and clutching YET ANOTHER HANDOUT FROM SCHOOL in my other hand. Will the madness never end?

And the pain didn't stop there. Oh no. After we finally got to leave the horrible patch of orange globes from hell, the kids and I went into Half Moon Bay for sandwiches and to relax. Except that the sandwich shop only took cash and when we got to the counter I realized I was five dollars short, which necessitated a power walk with two toddlers to the cash machine three blocks away from the sandwich shop. Just when I thought the day couldn't get any harder, Emily announces that she needs to pee. Great. Fortunately, I had a port-a-potty with us so we went back to the car and even though we were on Main St. in Half Moon Bay, I had her pull down her pants and do her thing in the open hatchback of the car.

When she said she also had to go poo, I almost cried. Thankfully, she was wrong.

Oh. so the point of this post is that it's Love Thursday and what I loved about today is how it ended on a high note, with Emily, Thomas, and I enjoying sandwiches and chips in beautiful Half Moon Bay. We finally got to relax and spend some quality time together without rushing around like pumpkins with our stalks cut off.

Lunch Date-o-Love


***
Technorati tags: , , ,

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

 

Mommybloggers in conversation with Elizabeth Edwards

[Updated on 10/25/06: Please be sure and read Stefania of City Mama's post about the meeting as well as Charlene of Crazed Parent's and Glennia of the Silent I's. Bonggamom and BethB of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog have posts up, too. All of the posts are wonderfully written and fill in lots of the blanks I've left here.]

I had a real treat this afternoon. I got to spend some time with Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential hopeful John Edwards and author of the book Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers.

Elizabeth (I guess since we've met we can be on a first name basis) was in town for various parties and to promote Saving Graces. Her people coordinated with the Silicon Valley Moms Blog to put together a meeting with local mommybloggers, and I was honored to be asked to participate in the conversation by my friends Jill and Beth over at SV Moms.

There were about fifteen mommybloggers there, including Charlene of Crazed Parent and Stefania of City Mama. (As an aside, I strongly encourage all of you mommybloggers out there to do meet-ups with your fellow local bloggers. I know many of you do and can attest to the fact that it's extremely rewarding on many levels.)

We spoke with Elizabeth about her book and also about how she found solace in various online communities after the death of her son. Silicon Valley physician and friend-to-mommybloggers Enoch Choi liveblogged the event and took pictures. Thanks, Enoch!

I was so excited to have the opportunity to meet this woman and I wasn't disappointed. It was obvious from the minute she walked in the room that she is kind, warm, yet professional, too. She truly wanted to have a conversation with some local mothers, and that's what we had. If I had to describe Elizabeth in one word, the word would be: genuine.

Elizabeth Edwards and me. Photo credit: Enoch Choi


And who knows, maybe she'll be First Lady in a couple of years. She'd make a good one.

***
Technorati tags: ,

Monday, October 23, 2006

 

Care of the elbows for the middle-aged

Are you starting to notice new lines, wrinkles, bumps, and skin issues on yourself that you previously only noticed on people who were "old," like, say, your grandma?

Ya, me, too.

I remember a woman I knew once telling me about her mother. She started off the conversation by telling me what she respected about her mother: the fact that she was still slender in her mid-50s and that she was very disciplined with her eating habits. For example, for lunch she typically had only one small Weight Watcher's pepperoni pizza. My friend was impressed by this.

However--and this is when my friend's face projected a look of dismay and disgust--her mother had totally let her elbows go. "They're so dried out! Yuck. She never puts lotion on them."

At the time, the conversation puzzled me because I knew her mother and I had always attributed her thinness to the fact she drank her dinner in vodka every night. I had never noticed her elbows. Now, this conversation haunts me every time I realize that I haven't put lotion on my elbows in months. Yet I drink wine every night and I doubt I'll ever get under a size 10.

Huh. Maybe it was the pepperoni pizza after all.

***
Technorati tags: , ,

Friday, October 20, 2006

 

When a parking space seals your fate

Rosa couldn't make it today so instead of spending the day researching and writing like a good work-at-home-mom, I piled the kids in the car and we headed to San Francisco to eat lunch and see what we could see. I felt a small twinge of guilt at ditching my responsibilities, but I don't have a deadline looming right at this moment. Plus, on our way out of town we dropped off my Mothers Club's newsletter at the printer and hey, I deserve a day off after getting that project done, right?

Our first stop was the Long Life Noodle Company in the Sony Metreon. I dream about this restaurant; I could eat there every day. Because I'm on a quasi low carb diet (Quasi because I don't count wine or champagne in my carb count. Nor do I actually count carbs. Nor am I on a diet.), I got the minced chicken "tacos." It's minced chicken seasoned with chilis and mushrooms and I dunno... exotic spices... served with whole leaves of iceberg lettuce that you use as a tortilla with the chicken as the filling. Really good. Oh, and the kids had chow fun, their standard fare.

After lunch we meandered over to my new favorite upscale mall, the Westfield San Francisco Centre to check out their bathroom facilities and exchange some pants I bought for Emily at H&M.

My friend Jennie had told me that the Westfield had a Family Lounge and--lo and behold--she was right! All of you locals and those who are visiting with small kids: this is the place to go. It's a huge room with a play area for toddlers, three nursing rooms with curtains, and a whole row of changing tables with mobiles hung to distract the babies. I also saw baskets of complimentary rattles that read "Westfield." Get those babies thinking about shopping, people! The family lounge contains a family bathroom with both a toddler-sized toilet AND an adult-sized toilet. (So many family bathrooms neglect to provide for the larger members of the family. Ahem. But not the Westfield!) The Family Lounge is located next to the bathrooms on the concourse level. It's swell.

BTW, Bloomingdales, also located in the Westfield, has a semi-private children's lounge in their children's department. They run cartoons and have games available, too. I guess you're supposed to leave your children there while you spend $200 on designer onesies, but it also would be a nice place to breastfeed or just to chill.

Look at me, Mrs. Mall-with-Kids Factoid Lady!

Anyway, after checking out the pee pee place, we went up to H&M. I'm not sure if Emily is a wee little thing or if the European-based H&M thinks American children are gigantic, but their sizing for kids runs really big. I got her some pants in size 2-3 years and I had to exchange them for ones in size 1-1.5 years. And Emily is over three! I don't really care what the size on the tag reads except the fact that they didn't fit her meant I had to take them back.

At the store Thomas was content in the stroller since they play super loud techno music (he was in a trance), but Emily was running around like a kid in a candy store. And I am totally going to blame her for the fact I left my purse lying on a table by the pants and then totally spacing on it until I was at the counter and realized I didn't have it. The woman behind me (bless her soul) asked me calmly, "Where have you been?" in an effort to get me to re-trace my steps. And you know what? I honestly couldn't remember the last place I had been and I had just been to that fabulouso pee pee palace. This is your brain on kids, people.

When the clerk handed me back the bag with my returns in it so that I could go frantically try and hunt down my purse, I remembered that I had taken the bag OUT OF MY PURSE, which meant that my purse was in the store and ... BY THE PANTS! Where I had left it. And there it was, sitting open. Luckily, my wallet and money were obscured by a sticky, greasy juice cup so I guess that's why nobody bothered to take them.

As nice as the Westfield's Family Lounge is, I'd still rather go to that mall when I'm by myself and I'm free to meander the hallowed halls without constantly yelling, "Emily, follow mommy!"

On our way out of town there was an accident on 101 so I decided to detour to the Great Highway and take the scenic route home. What the hay, it's Friday. On our way through Golden Gate Park, Emily and I practiced the days of the week and I tried to teach her what TGIF meant. It was hard because she's still so excited about school she doesn't understand why anybody would look forward to a day when they didn't have to go to school. My sweet girl.

When we got to Ocean Beach, I realized that it was too beautiful of a day to waste it being in the car. Plus, Emily kept saying, "Mommy, I want to go there!" and pointing to the beach. So I made a deal with myself;I pulled into the parking lot at Ocean Beach and thought: if there's a parking space, we'll stay. And there was! This was our lucky day as the place was packed with others wanting to take advantage of the beautiful October weather, October being the only time of the year in San Francisco that it's nice enough to enjoy the beach without being bundled up in fleece and down.

A spontaneous couple of hours at the beach was a perfect ending to a pretty good day with the kids. Work stuff seems ridiculously inconsequential when you're watching your kids play in the ocean for the first time, doesn't it?

Beautiful Day at Ocean Beach
Click on the photo to see the whole set.


***
Technorati tags:, , ,

Thursday, October 19, 2006

 

NaNoWriMo y NaBloPoMo: Are You In or Are You Sane?

My friends, November fast approaches and with it comes the insanity known as NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month.

So, are you insane like me?

I did it last year and I'm going to do it again this year. Last year, I completed my 50,000 word novel in 25 days. I wrote 2,000 words a day without editing and without looking back. In fact, I still haven't looked back to see if what I wrote was good, bad, ugly, or all three, but who cares? The point is that I did it, and let me tell you, having done it feels really good. Yes, I paid the price, but look how much I've gained.

Rawr.

I can say I wrote a novel. And if you do NaNoWriMo this year, you can say it, too. So, c'mon, let's do it! I'll bring the straight jacket and you bring the bottle of Jack, m'kay?

If the thought of NaNoWriMo makes you want to hurl, what about NaBloPoMo? The creation of one M. Kennedy of Fussy fame, it stands for National Blog Posting Month. Yes, every day in November you post something. Something big, something little, something old, new, sordid, blue... You get the idea. The point is that you post to your blog every day; you will not be graded on quality of content. Look, she's even made our sorry asses buttons. What more do we need? MeL of Stay At Aum Mom is going to do it. I might. Not sure yet if I'm that insane, but I just might be.

Yep, I just might be. Are you?

***
Technorati tags: ,

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

 

WAHM bam, thank you, ma'm

Taking a break from doing the monthly newsletter for my Mothers Club. Since I'm sipping a glass of champagne and a newly-rented DVD is enticing me from the table, I have a feeling this break might last all night. Ah, well. There's always tomorrow, right?

Besides, I was a very good girl today and was very productive. Except that I didn't finish the newsletter. But I did get a whole lot of it done. It's now at the stage where I think I have only two hours more work on it although that probably means I have closer to three. I'm going to try and get it done tomorrow morning while Emily is at preschool. Unfortunately that means I'll miss both my bad mom's coffee date and playgroup, but I suppose one of the drawbacks of being a work-at-home mom is that you don't fall in either the SAHM camp or the work-outside-the-home camp. I don't have a strict off-site job that dictates my schedule, but if I want to retain the luxury of being able to pick and choose which activities I do, I sometimes have to choose work instead of play. What a rip!

I've decided to officially start referring to myself as a work-at-home mom, a WAHM. It's certainly true and it's getting even truer (a word?) now that I'm in negotiations to do some freelance writing work. With the work I do for my Mothers Club, the writing I do for BlogHer, and this new gig, my days are pleasantly full. Which--of course--is how I like them to be since I seem to be stricken with a strain of Protestant work ethic.

Things feel good; busy feels good. I like that I have the time and resources to do a variety of projects, including some that are on a volunteer basis and some that are paid. And have time for kid-related activities. My munchkins need me! And I need them, too.

Except that it does suck if I have to miss both bad mom's coffee and playgroup... Hmmm... Tune in tomorrow to see if I repeat the mantra There's always tomorrow!

***
Technorati tags: ,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 

Reentry's a Mutha

We're back! The trip was just wonderful; the weather was beautiful, Emily was a better travelling companion than most adults I know, and we got to see lots of family members.

I'm still recovering from four days of overeating, over drinking, and under exercising, but here are some pictures from my niece Jessica's birthday party on Friday night, my cousin Jodi's baby shower on Saturday, and the Silent Auction and Benefit for my uncle Jim on Sunday.

Some of you may remember that my uncle was hit by a car back in January. He still is recovering and is permanently blind. The benefit was an amazing tribute to a man who has touched many lives. My sister did a lot of the hard work organizing the auction itself. She's a professional; the event was a smashing success and went smoothly. If you're in the Chicago area and need a fundraising expert, let me know!

I'm tired and need to turn in, but let me just tell you about my awesome daughter. Emily was so cheerful and easy going the entire trip, and I know that she was put to the test many times. We stayed up late, ate on a different schedule, hung out at all kinds of places, chatted with seemingly infinite numbers of people... Not to mention all of the smiling for the cameras! Emily never threw a tantrum or acted unreasonable. Also? No potty accidents. She and I definitely are going on more mother-daughter trips together. I can't wait until the next one.

Tremont Hotel - Chicago

Thursday, October 12, 2006

 

This blog post S.W.A.K.

This is my 395th post. Holy happiness! That's a lot of words and stuff.

I'm packed. Emily's packed. Wake up call is 3:00 AM and our flight leaves at 6:05. I hope that there's snuggling under an airline blanket in my future tomorrow. I'm looking forward to this trip with just me and my daughter. It should be fun. It certainly will be busy. We've got a birthday party, a baby shower, and a benefit luncheon and silent auction to attend in the next three days. Wow. Good thing I'm a party animal. Emily is a party animal in training.

I doubt I'll be posting until we return since I'm not bringing my laptop. (I know... how old fashioned of me!) I am bringing books and I think I'll do just fine during my little break from the Internets.

Here's my boy. This video shows pure ball hitting talent. Remember, he's only 22 months old! Also, he seems to be left-handed when it comes to sports. Interesting.



And here's my girl, my travel companion, practicing this morning for picture day.

IMG_1662


Have a great weekend! Miss you already!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

 

Morning lovin' and it's not what you think

It's only Wednesday night here, but I need to get a jump start on tomorrow if I'm ever going to be able to accomplish all of the things I need to before Emily and I leave for Chi-town.

Therefore, here is my post for Love Thursday, and it's all about what I love first thing in the morning.

Breakfast.

I love breakfast. I do think that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that a cup of coffee doesn't count. I don't eat a lot for breakfast during the week -- usually two turkey sausage links microwaved for 130 seconds -- oh, and a cup of coffee. But on the weekends, there's nothing I like better than a big 'ol breakfast. Preferably accompanied by a mimosa or a spicy bloody mary. I love me some eggs, bacon, waffles, pancakes, bagels and lox, oatmeal, grits, toast with lots of butter, sausages... Not all at once unless it's brunch in Vegas, but I basically have never met a breakfast food that I didn't love.

And now that I'm a mom, I make breakfast for my kids every morning. I fix them something to eat as soon as we get up.

Breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese
Many times it's scrambled eggs with cheese.


Breakfast of banana
Sometimes it's fruit.


Breakfast of cereal
Or cereal.


Morning in an Eichler
It's never fancy or elaborate, but I make it with love and they eat it sitting at the kitchen table.


Breakfast of tomatoes
It sets the tone for our day and gets things off to a good start.

***

Technorati tags:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

 

Kids Menu: No

Tonight I met my friend Mary for dinner. Yes, she's one of those committed-yet-childless people who lives twenty minutes from me and whom I manage to see about once a year. We ate at 2223 Restaurant on Market Street in San Francisco. In a word: yum. The food was freakin' excellent. I had a Caesar salad with capers and creamy garlic dressing and an entree of mussels, clams, and shrimp in some kind of amazing broth. You know that if I was alone, I would have tipped that shallow rimmed bowl back and just drained it, people. Drained it!

Thankfully, I wasn't alone. Nor was I at Red Robin. There were no crayons, no chicken nuggets on the menu, and we did not get a free toy or ballon when we left. Which is probably why we managed to very easily spend two hours drinking, eating, laughing, and catching up on what's new in our lives.

I wish Mike enjoyed nice meals out -- he just isn't a big fan of them. Oh well... Hi, Mary! Wanna be my new dinner partner?

I'm a total social butterfly this week. I went out last night, tonight, and I'm going out again tomorrow night. This is turning out to be quite the busy week for me with something planned every night except Thursday, when I'll be busy packing for my four day weekend in Chicago. Just me and Emily: the Tsao girls on the loose. This is our first trip just the two of us since she was four months old. And this time... DRUM ROLL, PLEASE... no diaper bag! That's right. The girl seems to be completely potty trained (knock on my hollow head) and I'm not even sure if I'm going to bring a spare outfit with us on the plane. Very daring, I know.

We'll be staying downtown and we've got a big weekend planned. Cross your fingers that the weather doesn't ruin my niece's birthday party and haunted river cruise on Friday night. It's supposed to be in the 40s and raining. The 40s! I'm gonna be freezing off my little big California tush.

Oh, and in case I forget to mention it later, Emily has a big milestone coming up this Thursday: her first official school portrait! I can hardly believe it. And two weeks from now is a big milestone for me: my first official chaperoning of a field trip. Gulp. I hardly feel old enough to be chaperoning myself. My how my life has changed.

That's it for tonight. I'm happy and full and in the mood to watch some boob tube. Take care of yourself, okay?

Monday, October 09, 2006

 

Because you like pictures, right?

It's funny how I have the start of amazing blog posts in my mind sometime around 10:00 AM, but when it gets to be 11:15 PM and I finally have a minute to blog, I don't have much to write except, "duhhhh."

It was a long and happily-productive day. The kids and I went to the gym bright and early and a good time was had by all. I got in a 60-minute workout. Nice. I wish I could do that every day. I love the gym with its incline treadmills and weight machines. After the gym, we cruised over to Office Depot for some envelopes and push pins and then over to Trader Joe's for groceries. The kids behaved amazingly well as we ran our errands and Emily even walked alongside the cart without running away (too) much. Being with my kids on a day like today makes me glad that I have the opportunity to spend this kind of time with them. Our day was full but not structured. We hung out, did some errands, colored, played, watched a movie, visited a bit with family, ate dinner... a regular day filled with lots of small moments that felt really good and that together added up to my idea of perfection.

Somebody named "Anonymous" wanted to see the before and after pictures of Mike's home office makeover. Well, I've got some before pictures and some during pictures. Will that suffice? We spent some time working on the room yesterday. I put up the shelves, hemmed and hung the curtains; Mike screwed legs on a table and put up a curtain rod. We're really working together as a team on this project and when it doesn't feel like I'm at the dentist getting my teeth pulled without novacaine, it feels good.

I was telling my mother-in-law Jewel today how nice it is to be able to work on Mike's room with him. I tried to explain how much care and thought I put into decorating and organizing the rooms for my kids and for Mike. They are my gifts to them. For Mike's room, I want to provide work surfaces that will accomodate the various things he likes to do. We gave him one counter-height table for non-computer related projects and one computer table/desk. His room will have plenty of vertical shelving to keep stuff off of the desks (and floor), organized, and within arm's reach. He will have bookshelves and all of the books he had in boxes can be out in the open, read, appreciated, and referred to as necessary. Task lighting and general lighting, a comfy recliner for snoozing or when the kids hang out with him, curtains for privacy... It's challenging yet rewarding to think about all of the things somebody else needs in their personal space. Communication is key. At one point I realized that Mike actually needs a desk that is lower than standard height. Luckily, I was able to find desk legs at IKEA that could be adjusted to the height he needed. And because I asked questions, I found out about this before I had invested money (and time) into a desk that was completely unsuitable.

All of the photos from Mike's home office makeover are in a Flickr set. Start at the first photo to experience the DRAMA and IMPACT of the work we've done.



Nighty-night.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

 

Things you might want to know. Or not.

Last week I took the kids to IKEA, which actually is a good place to take kids. For those of you who don't know everything there is to know about IKEA, they have various kid-friendly stations scattered throughout their stores. I'm not sure if it's the same everywhere (although something tells me it probably is), but our IKEA has a giant basket of balls at one point and several play houses at other points. Oh, and a wood slide by the kids's furniture section. It's neat.

Basket-o-balls


Anyhoo, last week we went to IKEA and because the kids were with me, I didn't put much extra stuff into the basket. We got what we came for: one extra Billy shelf, 4 Jag table legs, and one coat rack. And some cookies. It was a good thing we didn't get a lot of extra stuff because when we got to the register I realized that I didn't have my wallet in my purse. Argh! I had switched to a new purse that morning and had forgotten my wallet at home. I had cash, but not enough for everything in the cart. This is when I had to decide between the coat rack and the two packages of hazelnut creme-filled cookies with enough money leftover for three frozen yogurt cones.

Frozen yogurt cone


Ya, I can always go back for that coat rack.

Actually, I've already gone back for the coat rack and because the kids weren't with me but my wallet was, I ended up with the coat rack and an amazing assortment of other MUST HAVE items. Including 8 salad plates for that dinner party we're going to have. Some day. And then a bunch of other table decoration items (vase, cloth napkins, table runner, candles) to match the plates for that dinner party that we're going to have. Some day.

Sometimes when I'm shopping I feel a little bit like the old lady who swallowed the fly. You know...


There was an old lady who swallowed a cat;
Fancy that to swallow a cat!
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!



But minus the dying part. And with a beautifully decorated table to show for my efforts.

***

I confess to buying the latest issue of O Magazine. Yes, it's true. In it, I read a short article about S. Epatha Merkerson, whom I love from Law & Order. She spoke about how she was raised by a single mom who told her repeatedly: "You can do anything you want to do as long as you get an education." Good stuff.

In my endless quest to emulate those I admire, I said something along those lines to Emily tonight during dinner.

Emily: (After reciting the days of the week song...) Ya, I learned that in school, daddy.
Me: (Not exactly getting the quote right although hoping it's close enough...) Emily, if you keep going to school, you can be anything you want to be.
Emily: (without missing a beat...) I want to be a pirate!

Wannabe pirate


***

Tomorrow is the first of several Halloween related events. Because Emily's official costume isn't ready yet, I'm going to try and persuade her in the morning that last year's fairy costume is something special. That's plan A. Plan B is having everybody in the family wear all black and we will go as the-family-all-dressed-in-black. Because that's Halloween-y, right?

Oh, and have you gone to your local shopping district lately? Because guess what, Christmas decorations are out. Today I caught myself making a list of things to get people. It's October 7! Hold me, I'm scared.

Friday, October 06, 2006

 

What I love about my kitchen

Today I met Mike for lunch at Google and when I went to the bathroom to relieve myself, I saw that some nice Googler had taped a photocopied article to the wall for the ladies to enjoy while they peed. Wasn't that thoughtful?

The article was about kitchens, and it featured little stories from various people about what they loved about their kitchens. I couldn't figure out what magazine it was from, but I liked it so much I thought I would swipe the idea and answer the question here.

*clears throat*

What I Love About My Kitchen
by Mary Tsao

Every morning when Thomas wakes up (and he usually is the first one awake), I go in his room to get him. I pick him up and rest him against my chest, where his head fits perfectly in the the part of my body between my neck and my left shoulder.

After a brief moment of tenderness, he picks up his head and points his little index finger in the direction of the kitchen and says, "Juice!" The tenderness is momentarily over; the day has begun.

We walk into the kitchen with its floor-to-ceiling windows and know immediately if the day is sunny, foggy, or rainy. When Emily and Thomas were little, we sometimes started our day in a kitchen that still was dark. Those were not good days.

kitchen-couch


Once we enter the kitchen, breakfast soon follows juice and is usually enjoyed with a Tivo'd episode of Sesame Street. We might leave the kitchen to go the bathroom or get dressed or put in a load of laundry, but we always return. The kitchen is the checking in point for all of our home-based wanderings.

kitchen-island


When we go out, I grab the diaper bag, keys, and my purse from the hooks in the kitchen before we leave. When we return home, the kitchen is the first place we go. No matter what we bought, the bags end up on either the island counter or the kitchen table until they're unpacked and put away. Everything that enters our house goes first into the kitchen. It is the shipping and receiving department of our home.

Our kitchen is big and bright and has lots of cabinets. It also serves as our family room so it has a couch and a TV, too.

kitchen-time-out-corner


The kitchen is home to the time-out corner.

Our kitchen also contains our kitchen table, which is where we share all of our meals and where art projects are designed and created. Its surface is stained from markers and worn in some places from the fact I sponge it off at least three times a day. We don't have a formal dining room so our kitchen table also is where all of our holiday meals are eaten.

kitchen-table


We do most of our entertaining in our kitchen. We have many other rooms, but the kitchen has everything we need so why go elsewhere? I love my kitchen because it is the heart of our home.

The End.

***
Technorati tags: , , ,

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

 

Paperwork and Ashton Kutcher: mmm mmm sexy

Today was one of those un-sexy nanny days. The minute Rosa got here I scurried down the hall to my home office and tried to catch up on paperwork. Yep, the Boxster didn't leave the driveway today, but that's okay. I did get a lot of stuff done. You know... stuff. Sexy, exciting stuff like paying bills and returning emails and making photocopies of fence estimates for the neighbors and arranging for a photographer to take our holiday photo and ordering materials for Halloween costumes (I've decided to go the Mother of the Year route and make them this year. I hope I don't live to regret this decision.)

It actually is kind of exciting to me to get this kind of stuff done. Those "little things" I have to do end up snowballing into overwhelming to do lists that swirl around in my head when I'm trying to sleep. Tonight I will be sleeping well, and that definitely is a sexy thought.

Today we had the first rain of the season. It was a gentle, pleasant rain that made the yard look good and that fell quietly upon our foam roof. We have a good roof for enjoying the rain. It's noisy and makes you glad to be inside, with a roof over your head. The rain started right as I was going out for my run, but it was very light and just made for a nice change of scenery. I like running in the rain as long as it's not bitterly cold. Today was warm and the rain was nice.

Things have been calm around here lately. Calm doesn't exactly make for exciting blog posts, but it certainly feels good. I like calm. I'm really digging the new routine with Emily in school part-time and Rosa here two days a week. I'm starting to get things done that I've been wanting to do for oh, let's see... three years? Well, at least two years. I just got a call from the landscape architect we've hired about the plans he's drawn up for our backyard. If we can get that work done over the next couple of months, our yard will be looking quite fabulous come next summer.

Sometimes projects seem to take forever, but if I just keep pecking away at them, they eventually do end. I try and keep this thought in mind. I also remind myself that a project like completely re-doing a backyard is a BIG project and big projects take time.

(If those two pep talks don't work, I return to the idea that I have two small kids and they're the reason why I can't get anything done. Right?)

After a rather sexy meal of black beans, rice, and hot dogs, I ditched Mike and the kids for a moms night out and met some friends for a movie. We saw "The Guardian." It was good. Action, adventure, ASHTON. Yes, that boy is hot. Going on his looks alone, I'd say that Demi is one lucky woman. You go, girl. I've got a younger man, too, and they ROCK!

They also suck at doing the dishes, which I remembered when I returned home from the movies to find all of the dirties from dinner sitting where I left them earlier. Oh well, the kids were bathed and in bed, and returning to a quiet house is pretty damn cool. Now the dishes are done and I've got this blessed minute of peace and quiet to contemplate my day, write this blog post, and drink my glass of wine.

And watch just a teeny tiny bit of this video that features a nineteen-year old Ashton walking the runway with his shirt open at a Male Model of the Year competition. Really, what would we do without teh Internets?

***
Technorati tags: , , ,

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

 

Happy Birthday to Mike

Today is Mike's birthday. He turns thirty-(*grumble* *grumble* *cough*), but he doesn't look a day over twenty-five. And he acts fifteen. Kidding!

Mike is a fabulous guy and every day that I spend with him, I get to know him a little bit better. He is formally trained as a lawyer and he knows the rules of logic: two reasons that make arguing with him extremely annoying and mostly unsatisfying.

But he's level-headed, trustworthy, a hard worker, a good role model, fun, sexy, and he always puts his dirty clothes in the hamper. I know!!! Hey, it didn't take me long to realize that this one was a keeper. Mike version 37.0 is pretty damn near perfect with only a very few, minor bugs. No show stoppers here.

Happy birthday to you, my husband and father of my children. You are a patient, kind, generous, and loving dad, husband, and person, and I'm happy that you are in my life. Here's to a year filled with endless possibilities and growth.

Mike
The Birthday Boy


***
Technorati tags: , ,

Monday, October 02, 2006

 

September Perfect Post Awards

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHear ye! Hear ye! It's time for the September perfect post awards and I am awarding everybody's favorite goosemouse (That would be Mothergoosemouse to you) for her post You were the white kid?

Julie's post is about how she spent four years as a child going to Chinese school every Saturday morning. She was the only white child in the school and even though it was her choice to go, she sometimes found it challenging. The experience was definitely outside her comfort zone. She writes:


"Not only did I learn a foreign language, but I learned - at a much younger age than most people - how it feels to be different from those around you."


I enjoyed Julie's post because it was a unique bit of insight into how she became the person that we know and respect today. I am amazed at the fact that as a kid she chose to challenge herself in such a way. And I'm equally impressed by the fact her mother honored and nurtured her request to study Chinese.

I'm sure it wasn't easy for Julie's mother to watch her daughter take on the challenge that she did. To know our child isn't fitting in or is struggling with something... that can be difficult. Too often our first impulse is to jump in and fix things, to save our child from hurt.

But going outside of your comfort zone is how character is built. The discomfort is short term; the benefits are long term. So whether it's encouraging my children to remain on a team even if they're not the best player, or encouraging them to stick with piano lessons even if they feel all thumbs, I want them to experience what it's like to not always be the best or the most perfect or even the same as everybody else.

Because as Julie explains, "I wasn’t special; I was alone. It’s not an easy place to be, especially as a child, but it’s a place you never forget."

For more September perfect post awards, check out the list over at Suburban Turmoil or Petroville. And keep up the good blogging!

***
Technorati tags: , ,