Wednesday, December 22, 2010

El Esqueleto (The Skeleton)

Geneva and Piper attend a Spanish Immersion school. They started last year at 3 days per week for 4 hours a day. This year, as a Kindergartener, Geneva attends Monday through Friday. Actually, they both go Monday through Friday (I'm a lucky mom {wink}.)
Since beginning school this year, Geneva's language acquisition has been huge. We could not be more delighted with her school, her beloved teacher, Maestra Laura, or her expressed pleasure each morning when she wakes up and realizes that she gets to go to school.
This month, she's been studying the bones of the human body.
I hope you enjoy the video.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Two Holiday Surprises

My first holiday surprise came on Wednesday. In the form of a Karma Jackpot.

To say I've been a bit frazzled this season, would be an understatement. I could rattle off at least 5 significant events that are keeping my mind occupied and my anxiety high--but let's not get into that just now... We are on the topic of "good" news.

Wednesday morning Greg and I happened to be able to catch a quick coffee with one another at Starbucks, located inside a large Target store. It was brief. He was checking work emails, I was checking last-minute stationery "emergencies." We did get to chat to one another for a brief time as well. It was nice.

I left our rendezvous and headed to the girls' school for a little volunteering. We rounded out the afternoon with a lunch/playdate at our house and then it was off to Dance class around 4pm. When I got into the car I reached over for my purse and realized it wasn't in the passenger seat (where it lives). I thought, "that's odd." So I ran back in the house to grab it. Only, I couldn't find it anywhere. We headed to Dance and once the girls were situated, I began really panicking. I called the school--no one had seen it. I called the bank and thankfully, there wasn't any strange activity on the bank cards. I called Greg and asked him to look into our credit accounts. I dreaded thinking about having to cancel all of our accounts right before the holidays. 

With bitter realization, I called Target, the last place I truly remembered having it. I was 90% sure I had left it there and 100% sure that if I had, I would never see my gorgeous purse or favorite wallet again--not to MENTION the cash or credit/bank cards! 

I'm sure you've guessed by now, (or maybe you've read about it on my facebook page) but they HAD my purse at Customer Service. Not only that, but everything was inside and untouched. I was flabbergasted! Truly, utterly, flabbergasted. Overjoyed. 

Cheers to Karma!

My second surprise this week came in the form of paper, one of my favorite things--in any form. But just look how darling these are:

They are angel Christmas tree ornaments that one of my new and most favorite Etsy customer/friends made entirely out of paper and sent to the girls! 
Totally unexpected. Completely lovely. And so incredibly thoughtful.
They're gorgeous.

So cheers to the holidays! I'm IN!
May you enjoy this magical time of year and find joy in all the big and little surprises that are coming your way!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Love Coffee

Piper and I were just playing in her kitchen. She made me a cup of "Love Coffee."
Here's the recipe:
"It haves hugs, kisses and family in it."
Let me tell you, it tastes amazing!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Words of Wisdom--Clearly, Not Mine.

The following is an essay by writer, Anna Quindlen regarding her thoughts on motherhood. I was first introduced to these words by my girlfriend, Gretchen, about six months ago (Thank you, Gretchen!). They resonated with me and I've been making an effort to embrace the message and live it more consciously each day. I was reminded of this essay again tonight while enjoying the company of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, reminiscing about when the girls were "just babies." Thankfully, in still moments like this one, I am able to recognize that they are still "just babies" and I am embracing the challenges, just as I am embracing the bliss--because all of it is a gift.

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past. 

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, have all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. 

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2. 

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there some thing wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, 'Remember-When- Mom-Did Hall of Fame.' The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pick up. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, 'What did you get wrong?'. (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking? 

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get onto the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. 

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Cheers to the ride!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Amiguitos at the Pumpkin Patch

We enjoyed what may be our last nice day of sunshine yesterday with the girls' school on their field-trip to the The Flower Farmer pumpkin patch.
It's such a delight to see the girls interact with all of their school friends.
Piper and Mali 
Emerson and Geneva
There was an incredible game of hide and seek, tons of running and buckets of laughter.

 I loved seeing the girls interact with their teachers. To listen to them rattle back and forth in Spanish is amazing. Geneva has FAR surpassed my own ability to speak the language (and I did have 6 years of instruction--though it was "public school-style" with what amounted to maybe one real hour per week of conversation). To witness the mutual affection is just as satisfying. They are really benefiting from the immersion into the Spanish culture as well.
Riding the train.
Piper with Maestra Claudia and Geneva on Maestra Laura's lap.
 Each child got to choose a pumpkin to take home but they had to be able to carry it without help. Geneva is strong. 

Piper and her BBF Poppy
The Three Amigas
Emerson, Geneva, Piper
It was a great day!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Things I Love Thursday

  • Our "new" neighborhood restaurant, Allium. The menu is lovely; the staff is great; the location could not be better (walking distance!); and "Neighborhood Dinner" is something to look forward to each month. D'lish!
  • Movie Night in our 'hood. Step 1: Get the kids to bed. Step 2: Inflate the huge movie screen and wheel out the electronics. Steps 3-5: Get cozy, enjoy your cocktail(s), be entertained with your BFNs (best-friend-neighbors).
  • Angry Birds. It's a game on my iPhone. Warning: it's super addictive!
  • Getting more business through Etsy. The stationary-making keeps my creative juices flowing and I love it!
  • The children's book, The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. You can even make Mrs. Peter's birthday cake by following the recipe here. If you have kids between the ages of 3 and 6, I think you NEED to own this book. It's delightful.

  • Rusty's recipe for Fattoush (it's a Mediterranean salad) that I fell in LOVE with on our trip to SunRiver. Enjoy:
1 Cucumber
3 Vine Ripe tomatoes or 4/5 Romas
3 or 4 scallions chopped
It. parsley bunch
Mint bunch
1/2 cup olive oil
1 grande lemon
1 garlic glove (minced)
two grilled pita breads (thin) chopped and mixed in.
(optional addition) feta and/or kalamata olives
  • The school year beginning again. Geneva's in kindergarten (at Amiguitos) and Piper is in her second year of Spanish preschool at Amiguitos also. They both attend M-F from 8am-12pm. We have afternoons for gymnastics, ballet, playdates, the library, and bike-riding (while the weather holds out). The girls love their school, they love their teachers, they have great friends to spend the mornings with and I get them for lunch and the rest of the day. It's great.
Geneva and Piper on the first day of school
  • Golfing. Such an addictive activity.
  • My husband. I know, duh. But really, I'm totally into him.
  • So many things about this picture: a) the delight of being on this flying ride, b) my friends who went on it with me, c) the memories of the day at the fair it brings back, and d) looking forward to doing it (and other silly things) for as long as possible. 
  • Crock Pot Chicken. Frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts + 1/2 cup salsa verde + one yellow onion = low fat, high protein shredded meat to top tacos, salads, or enjoy in a bowl with cheese. (6-8 hours)
  • The sound of tires on wet pavement.
  • Geneva's joy at learning to tie her own shoes.
  • My garment steamer. What did I ever do before I owned this little slice of heaven?!? I got mine at Costco--shipping is included in that price and it's worth every penny!
  • Boot weather.
  • This picture of Gretchen and myself. I think it's hysterical.
  • Little kids with English accents. Especially the phrase, "I can't imagine why she's so cross with me."
  • Carpooling. It's so nice to not have to make the roundtrip to the girls' school twice-a-day--especially now that they're going five days-a-week! It adds 10 minutes to my morning and saves 40 minutes every afternoon.
  • This picture of Sean and Michele, who are not a couple but do a great job of demonstrating what a fantastic time we're always having around the 'hood.
  • The dry-erase board/weekly calendar I bought from Michael's for $2. It sits in the kitchen window sill and keeps me sane.
  • These leggings from Target. I almost spent WAY TOO MUCH money for a nice, thick pair of slimming leggings from a store that has nothing to do with the study of humanity, when I came across these (nearly the exact same thing) for $25. Note: I do not condone the practice of tucking one's shirt into skin-tight leggings (as shown in the picture) no matter what size you are!
  • Monograms--of all kinds. I picked this one up not too long ago from a Ellephanie on Etsy. 
  • Little Lion Man from Mumford & Sons. Give it a listen here. There are explicit lyrics--so be sure there are no little ears around!
  • Cheeseburgers.
  • My mom's new projects. She calls them "Living Art." It's a picture frame with succulents growing out of it. Very cool.
  • The smell of a burnt match.
  • My new pillow (thanks McGoughs).
  • Having recently had the chance to visit with some old friends, meet their new people, and enjoy a "Tammy Weekend" away from home. More to come...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

SunRiver 2010

If you're a regular to the blog here, you might already know that we love to vacation in Sunriver, Oregon.
This year, we threw an invitation out to some California families who have been a part of our lives for such a long time: the Bills Family (obviously), the Stewart Family, and the Rathjen Family. Much to our absolute delight--EVERYONE said yes!
Staci and Rusty had just been in Oregon for the TCC Member-Guest Tournament. They headed home to Sacramento on Sunday of the previous weekend and headed back with a carful of kids (Natalie and Norah) and gear on Wednesday.
Heather and Ben drove up from San Rafael with their little monkeys, Cameryn and Molly.
Jill and Dave came up from Pleasanton with Emma and Luke.
All said, we were a team of eight adults and eight kids.
Here they are in order of age.
Emma, Cameryn, Natalie, Geneva, Luke, Piper, Molly and Norah
We enjoyed a concert (and beverages) the first night. There was a lot of dancing, 
and jumping to the beat.
We busied ourselves the rest of the week catching up, golfing, horseback riding, laughing, swimming, playing, laughing, eating great food, spa-ing, laughing... You get the idea.
Ben busy exaggerating about something.
Geneva at the playground.
Molly enjoying an ice cream treat.
Staci and I enjoying the great weather on the back deck.
Natalie and Geneva - BFFs
Tammy and Greg's self-portrait.
Geneva and Me
"Kid Soup"
I loved this. Heather called bath time with her girls, "making Kid Soup." So, whenever we had them in a  smallish body of water (like the hot tub) we all started referring to it as Kid Soup.
Of course, someone had to hurt themselves (wouldn't be a family vacation without some injury, right?). It happened to be Geneva who took off nearly half her toenail when she stubbed her toe wearing rubber flip flops. She was a really big girl about it and refused to let it slow her down one bit. In fact, when the big "flap" fell off after she got out of the pool, just before I took this picture, she said, "Mom, the chunk came off--here" and tried handing it to me. (SO GROSS)
Cheers to my husband who made such great friends in college, who then went on to marry such fabulous women, who then went on to have such spectacular families!
Already looking forward to SunRiver 2011!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Sister's Wisdom

It's quite endearing and also very entertaining when these two try to figure things out on their own.
At lunch today, Piper was picking the sesame seeds off her cheeseburger bun and making a neat pile on her plate. "Geneva, we could plant these in the dirt and grow lunch," she announced.
"What would we grow?" Geneva asked.
"Cheeseburgers. These are cheeseburger seeds," she replied simply.
"Piper, cheeseburgers do not grow from seeds," informed Geneva.
"Where do they come from then?" Piper wanted to know.
"Mom, where do cheeseburgers come from?" Geneva inquired.
(Hmm... What to do...?)
"Cows," I said busying myself with some unimportant task.
... {thoughtful silence} ... 
"Cheeseburgers come from cows?" asked Piper.
"Yes," answered Geneva matter-of-factly. "Cows are chefs."

(Good enough for now? I hope so.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

TCC Member-Guest 2010

We were so happy that Rusty and Staci made the trip up to Oregon to do the Tualatin Country Club Member Guest Tournament again this year!
Rusty and Greg played a practice round Thursday and Staci flew in on Friday for a pedicure, lunch, the "Horse Race," and the cocktail party.
Our flight for the Horse Race was much more subdued (read "old") this year, but we managed to have a great time and take a few tipsy self-portraits.
The guys had played their first round in the morning and did "ok."
They were out after the first two holes of the Horse Race... but it we were happy to head back to the party and enjoy the bar and buffet--and the BAR.
Last year, we had a fantastic time getting to know Andy and Kelly Bither. This year, their friends Ben and Chris had come out from Minneapolis for the event. We had an equally great time visiting and laughing with them!
It was a great weekend!
Oh yeah! Our husbands played so well (mostly Rusty) on Saturday that they took first place in their flight and second place overall for the tournament!
{Proud sigh.}