Tuesday, September 29, 2009

fall = soup

We're all feeling under the weather, and I made some soup last night to combat that stuffy head feeling. I used:

6-ish cups of chicken broth (from scratch) that had been patiently waiting in the freezer to be used.
1 bunch of lacinto kale, roughly chopped
1 can of white kidney beans
lots of freshly ground pepper
generous amount of bacon salt

Bring broth to boil. Throw in kale and simmer until the kale is tender, around five to ten minutes, depending on how large the pieces are. Add beans. Season with bacon salt and pepper to taste. Serve in large bowls and enjoy. Don't burn your tongue. Serves 3-4 adults as a main course.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

what I miss about Chicago

1. Summer concerts at Ravinia. laying on the picnic blanket at dusk, full of wine and whatever we threw together for dinner, listening to classical music, watching the fireflies swirl in the sky above.

2. Fox & Obel. my almost perfect grocery store. Almost perfect because it was nowhere near where we lived post-grad school, when we actually had money to splurge on food now and again.

3. the El. best place and time to read a book and listen to the iPod is on the commute to and from work. on creaking wooden tracks, no less.

4. Lincoln Square. we should've just rented here for the duration of our sojourn in Chicago. Lincoln Square had it all - food, movie theater, grog, shops, awesome toy store, Brown Line stations, farmers' market, all kinds of street fairs and music fun. I can't write any more. It's too sad.

5. Lake Shore Drive. it is a pretty drive, even during the evil rush hour.

6. Julius Meinl. for meeting friends and feeling rather Euro.

7. Paper Source. ok, there are outposts in SF, but there is the glorious sort of semi-annual warehouse sale where I've scored way too many cool things.

8. all those parks.

9. our house. never shall we find a comparable abode here.

10. the people I left behind. all the cool moms, kids, friends, and co-workers. At least we'll always have Facebook.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

the kindergarten follow-up, two weeks later

So far, Z's kindergarten experience is a positive, exciting one. She loves it. I'm glad. And relieved. And feeling validated about our school choice. The only thing she's complained about is the lack of a two-hour nap time. This is from the child who refused to nap from day one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

1st day of kindergarten

Z started kindergarten today. She’s been outfitted with a new matching backpack and lunchbox set. With a horse theme. I said she should pick her clothes out, and this is what she chose.

Unfortunately, that outfit wasn’t much protection against the morning chill while we were waiting in the schoolyard. Z was complaining that her legs were cold. She eventually decided to lay down on the asphalt on her backpack, like a turtle that got flipped onto its shell. Fortunately it was soon time for the morning assembly. The entire school formed a large circle, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and listened to some announcements from the new principal.

Everyone walked en masse to the kindergarten pod. Z was on the subdued side of her personality but was responsive. We saw her settle into the circle of kids for circle time and waved goodbye when the parents were asked to leave.

Her verdict when we picked her up? “It was okay.” Which means success!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

of course I Mad Men'ed myself too.

It's just a coincidence that D-Money bears a resemblance to Don Draper.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

inexplicably happy and aimless

The weekend started with our Friday ritual Ferry Building dinner and wine with a chocolate mousse cake from Safeway (do NOT laugh because it was good. and moist, the way a proper cake should be) because it was Big Daddy D's birthday. We sat at the table and talked. More accurately, he and I sat at the table and talked, and the kidlets ran around playing some loud game of their own devising.

We slept in today - 7:30 a.m., people! - and lazed around. Around lunchtime, Zoe and I will be headed to her swimming class. Then back home for a quick lunch before we all head out to see Up at the local three-screen theater. After that, who knows? Maybe a pit stop at the playground, maybe grabbing some frozen yogurt. For once, I'm not worrying over being late, not getting relatively inconsequential tasks done. I don't even have a to-do checklist for the next two days!

We don't often get the eventless weekend anymore, and these open-ended days of rest are greatly valued by me. My lists are good for organization and a reality check, but some days it's great to shred those and see what happens with the day. Like today. And you know what, I'm happy, happier than I've been in a long while. There is something to this work/life balance thing. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

what I'm listening to

Around the Well / Iron and Wine. Love Vigilantes cover can be found therein as well as Waitin' for a Superman. No more needs to be said.

Tinted Windows / Tinted Windows. James Iha. Adam Schlesinger. Bun E. Carlos. and Taylor Hanson! Yes, that Hanson. And you know what, I love this stuff. Power pop at its finest.

KCRW's Winter Mix. It may still be available on KCRW's website. free tunes - you absolutely cannot go wrong with this, and you may find a new artist to love.

Union / The Boxer Rebellion. Good ol' fashioned alt-rock.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

coming home

Now that we have Z into a school, we're thinking of buying a house and setting down some roots. We're not expecting to make this move for some time, though. There's the albatross of our beloved Chicago house. Even with all its sterling qualities, it will not sell at the peak price that we purchased it for. If only I could pick it up and bring it over to the west coast. It's not a huge house, but it was home for a few years and I have fond memories. 

Although we want to live near the school, it's in a fairly posh neighborhood, and housing prices are not compatible with our current situation. So we're tracking prices in adjacent neighborhoods, including the Parkside and Sunset. To tell the truth, I'm experiencing some ambivalence because I spent a good part of my childhood in these areas. I had always thought I'd never live in that area again, and to be looking at housing there is, well, weird. I never wanted to go home, so to speak. But there is some odd comfort in living in the same neighborhood: riding the N Judah, marveling at the stretch of Noriega that's become a micro Chinatown, going to Sunset Super (either location) for my comfort food cravings (fish balls...oh yeah), dim sum and roll cakes to go on Irving Street - and Yum Yum Fish is still there!

My feeling is that we'll rent a humble abode within walking distance (ideally) of school once we rent out the Chicago house and if we find something that works. Like most of the great things that have happened to me, it'll be by chance and very easy. And we can still go to the wonton house on Noriega for cheap, filling eats; the kids dig on the wonton noodle soup.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

earth hour = lovely blip in time

We had the lights off and a single Method lavender lemongrass candle burning while watching "Mulan" on tv. Which, yes, sort of defeats the purpose, but laying in the big bed with the kids snuggled in on either side in the semi-darkness made for a cozy, lazy, winding down moment. We don't get enough of those.

I have been thinking about memory and what we retain from our childhoods. What would my two remember? Would they specifically remember that moment of warmth and love, or perhaps an impression of that coziness? Am I doing enough to create those positive memories? I am astounded by how much Z remembers from being three and heartened that they are primarily good memories - having ice cream, going to the playground, playing in the backyard of the Chicago house, her bedroom there, making snow angels. I can't shield her or O from the necessary components of growing up, though. Eventually, they will encounter grave disappointment, heartbreak, and loss. But from their positive memories, I hope they develop a foundation of trust in me, that they know that I would not turn them away or judge when unhappiness occurs.

Today was filled with loving moments as well as impatience and anger - all in a day's work when you're alone with two highly energetic children. At the end of the day, we came back to love in the form of snuggling on the bed, O kicking me sporadically. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

school, glorious school

The dust has settled. We got our first choice public school and were waitpooled on all four of the privates to which we applied. Happy, of course, that we have a solid school in pocket, but a little sad about losing the chance for a unique educational experience for Z and O, at least in the elementary years. People have tried to be upbeat and reassuring that the waitlists could clear over the summer, but I see this one opportunity dimming. We'll try again for middle school, but it will be no less difficult, if not more so.

I was seduced by the offerings from the privates. Beautiful campuses, warmth and a sense of community, a fully-loaded curriculum, and - if I had to be honest - a chance to give my kids a leg up in the world. It was a glimpse into an entirely different experience that neither D nor I had as children. It was a gift we wanted to give Z and O, and it was frustrating that we couldn't pull it off. 

We're being philosophical; God is pointing us toward the public. To reinforce that notion, there is a preschool next to the school's campus. I'm touring it in a few weeks, and if my gut says go, I'm submitting an application for O. The ability to minimize the impact of the double drop-off/pick-up is infinitely valuable.

I'm trying to not see this as a closed door but a turn in the road. It's hard not to feel a sense of loss, though. I'm wondering if the mere fact that my older baby is starting kindergarten in a few months is the root of my emotional reaction to the process. 

In the meantime, I'm indulging in fantasies of volunteering in the school library and chaperoning field trips.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

work + parenting

I work full-time in a challenging job that by turns exhilarates and exhausts me. I am constantly terrified of screwing up. I have a deathly fear of failure, which I'm trying to get over because paralysis is not an option. 

And yes, I'm talking about both Career Job and parenting the minis.

Being a mother and working outside the home is tough. I have a compulsion to push myself, and it generally backfires on me. There are times when I feel that neither realms are getting the attention they need because I'm being pulled one way or the other. Eventually, everyone's annoyed, and I want to go fetal for a week.

The one lesson I'm learning is that I need to dial back and focus. Instead of doing 20 things, take 10 of those and do them very well. I can't get my act together to bake cookies from scratch with the minis, but I can read books until I'm hoarse. I'm not the most creative brainstormer, but I can ask people about their work and go deep with my understanding of that work. 

Now I need to get off my arse and do it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

her work

I gave Z one of my file folders in an attempt to corral all of the paper she generates. It's a sage green folder that I got during one of the Paper Source warehouse sales (and reason #59 why I miss Chicago). These include half-finished coloring pages and worksheets; she's taken to calling these her work. O accidentally found her notebook, another bargain though from Barnes and Noble, so between the worksheets and filling up the notebook pages, she's got a lot to do. 

Her preferred media is ink. She found some gel pens that I had purchased a couple of years ago so I could write on chocolate brown envelopes for some holiday cards or something, and she has a rather large carousel of Crayola markers at her disposal. 

Watching her work reassures me that she'll be able to do many things when she's older. My job is to remember to leave her alone and let her explore and make her own mistakes. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

a beautiful moment

Both kids are napping, both cats are napping, and I can hear the wind whooshing through the trees in the backyard. It's an all too rare moment of stillness in the house. I'm enjoying it by being quiet and still myself.

And apparently my very loud typing (my computer is in the master bedroom, where Z was crashed out) has now woken up the Z. She's happily eating an apple and two Bonbel circle cheeses for a snack.

Friday, January 23, 2009

this can't be a coincidence

Two bands that I currently dig have distinctly '80s vibes to them. Like this band that sounds like a mashup of The Cure and The Smiths, and a few dudes who put out synth-y, New Wave dance pop.

I likes both a lot. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

no cliches

but it's an awe-inspiring thought that my children will remember Barack Obama as the first of many presidents in their lives. It makes me misty with joy and trepidation. And I'm proud that I did my tiny share by way of tiny, tiny donations and voting. I even dragged the kids with me to the polls, during the primaries and election night. If they need to remember my crazy moments and that being one of them, hell, I'll take it.

trying not to overthink it

Z is in the playdate phase of the private school admissions process. My gut tells me that she's been doing well and that all we need to do now is sit back and wait until March to see what the results are. My brain, however, enjoys tormenting me with thoughts like "this is a waste of time", "we have no chance" and "she will be miserable here and tell you daily as you're bleeding money for the tuition and extras".

My gut tells me that the decision will be obvious and easy; the right school will be made beautifully clear to us. Clarity of the path has been a hallmark of the major decisions that I've made. But try telling my mind that.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

birthday festivities

It's that time of year again. We weren't planning on having a party for Z but did anyway. It was on the 28th (coincidentally her due date), and thankfully we had a great turnout even though having a party during the winter break is a risky endeavor. The last thing you'd want to do is scar a child for life by throwing a party where no one came.

The cake was an ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins. Classic was the way to go - chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. I try to stay away from themed or branded birthdays, but I couldn't resist getting some Curious George paper goods and masks in lieu of hats.

Really, she did like it. Our current favorite nighttime reading material includes "Curious George Learns the Alphabet".

And what's a birthday post without some cake eating?

photos courtesy of Derrick Wong