Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Winds of Change

"The winds of change will blow into your life this month" - fortune cookie at Kung Pao

I've been thinking about the name of my blog recently. Just over a year ago, I started this blog to document our family's move to Los Angeles. It was challenging and emotional for me to pick up and leave a place that truly felt like home to our family, and I felt like a blog would be a good outlet for my feelings as I dealt with our move. I quickly named the blog "three girls move west", since I was consumed with thoughts about how our move would affect our three daughters, having no idea that sixteen months later, with boxes long since unpacked (and then nested in by a family of mice) I would still be writing and that, well, people would actually be reading the blog. Nor did I have any idea that we'd be moving again. Only east. Well, east-ish. But in that direction anyway. So what to do about the name?

At this point, you may actually be thinking, "Who cares about the name? What are you talking about?!" So here it is: We're moving to Boulder, Colorado! And when I say we're moving, I mean like, now. Like holy-crap-pack-the-bags-we-have-to-find-a-house-this-week. Like tomorrow. I truly, truly wish we had more time to say goodbye to our friends here. And our neighbors will probably think we're in the witness protection program for leaving so quickly, but we're actually just on a tight schedule with a pre-planned trip back east and then school starting right after that and so, if we're going to do it, we just have to go.

Perhaps the next question is, "Why Boulder?" And that's a good one because Boulder isn't a lot of things. It isn't Los Angeles, which means leaving friends (we'll miss you guys!!!) and prying our children once again from their home and moving them somewhere new, just when they (and we) were starting to get settled. And it isn't Frederick, despite our belief when we left that we would return one day in the not-too-distant future. And, most troubling to us, it isn't back east, which is where all of our family lives.

Because of all I listed, it isn't perfect, but it is a lot of things we are looking for - and because of that, I am really excited about our move. For a city with a population of just over 100,000 people, Boulder has a surprisingly strong tech scene. It's not the Silicon valley, but Boulder is home to between 150 and 170 start ups. Since Toby and Mike will be starting up a company when we move, a thriving tech scene was essential in picking a realistic location. We were also looking for a more outdoor-oriented city than Los Angeles. In the San Fernando Valley, home to over 5 million people and surrounded by mountains, there isn't a single REI or outdoor (non-surfing) sports store. It's been nice to have the trails and camping sites to ourselves for a year, but the Vermont girl in me is really looking forward to living in a town again where people have ski racks on their cars and dirty hiking boots in their closets. Boulder is nestled in the mountains, with numerous hiking, biking and skiing trails - and over 300 sunny days a year to enjoy them. Really good public schools were another key ingredient in our decision. And, a huge plus - both Boulder and Denver are home to some of our favorite people in the whole world and I am so excited at the idea of living near them again! Lastly, but most importantly, Mike and Diane were open to moving to Denver, making our move possible.

Of course, I could add a lot more to the lists of what Boulder "is" and "isn't", but when you move somewhere new, the real list is "what we have no idea about". When we moved to Frederick, I was concerned about who was living in a small town so far from D.C., and then the people turned out to be the town's greatest asset. I'm sure that there will be both good and bad things about living in Boulder that are on neither of the lists, but we have no way of predicting what those will be. And that "what we have no idea about" list is part of the adventure and the excitement about living somewhere new.

It is because of the "what we have no idea about" list that I have decided not to change the name of my blog after all. When I think about it, "moving west" is about more than just heading a certain direction. To me, it evokes images of families packing up their wagons and heading into unchartered territory. Of course our journey to Boulder will be in the comfort of our mini-van, with all of our belongings following us in a gas-powered moving truck. And Colorado is hardly "unchartered territory" at this point. But I think some of the spirit is the same - the idea of bringing our family somewhere new and embracing the adventure of the journey.

In my first blog post, I mentioned my dad's toast at our wedding to me and Toby for a "lifetime of adventure together." Once again, as I am packing up bags and saying goodbye to friends, I am reminded of his words. There are so many thoughts swirling around my head: Will we like Boulder? Will Toby and Mike's company be successful? Will we have to move again? Is this the right decision for our family? But when I think back to that moment ten years ago, when a room full of people we love raised their glasses to us setting off on an adventure together, I can't help but smile about the journey ahead of us and think, "Cheers!"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

For the girl on the go....

Last week, Noni potty trained herself. Just like that. I had put a potty in her room, next to her crib, a couple of weeks before, thinking that maybe at some point she'd take an interest in sitting on it and then we could go from there. I wasn't going to push it anytime soon. The memories of potty training with her sisters were still too fresh - we covered the entire bathroom wall with sticker charts for Evie and spent over a year offering pretty much any kind of bribe you can think of to Lucy. I won't even go into all of the cleaning and detergents we went through during that time, but you can understand if I wasn't enthused at the idea of jumping into it again. But in the typical Noni fashion, she just walked over to the potty one day and went. This resulted in Evie and Lucy covering her in hugs and high-fives while I walked around in shock for the day thinking, did that just happen? Just like that? Noni seemed confused as to why we were all making such a fuss. To her, going on the potty was like jumping in the pool and trying to swim "no help! no help!" or walking up onto the stage at Evie's drama camp and giving a heartfelt rendition of Annie's "Tomorrow". She just assumes that if her sisters can do it, she should be able to as well. It's more surprising to her if she can't.

We've had a couple of accidents, but only a few days into it and she's already about 90% of the way there. After breathing a huge sigh of relief, it suddenly occurred to me that this wasn't perhaps the best timing. We're going back east for two weeks in August and attempting public restrooms in the airport or trying to teach her to balance on a real toilet just isn't happening.

What to do? Introducing Fisher Price's "Potty-on-the-Go", which arrived in the mail today from amazon.com. On our trip, Noni will have her very own little tote bag, complete with a potty and wipes. To the mom out there who invented this: Thank you! Now if you could only invent a soundproof cage to put around our airplane seats, we'd be good to go.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July in Los Angeles

Summer is not necessarily Los Angeles' finest season. For most of the year, southern Californians can look at the U.S. weather map and smile. When the rest of the country is being pummeled with ice storms, we have cool, breezy days. When spring rains are drenching the east coast, we have abundant sunshine. (Of course this has its own problems, like droughts, but I'm just talking about weather here...) But in the summer, especially in the valley, we have smog and unbearable heat.

Despite the less-than-desirable weather, the nice thing about Los Angeles in the summer is that there is a ton of stuff to do. Last summer, I discovered Malibu and the Getty. We basically headed to one or the other at least once a week all summer. The Getty is beautiful and high enough up to catch some of the ocean breeze. And Malibu? Sure it has beautiful beaches and tidal pools, but more importantly, it's generally about 20 degrees cooler than the valley.

This summer, we're trying out some of the other activities. Toby's dad is here this week and yesterday we took Lucy and Noni to the Hollywood Bowl Summer Sounds Brazilian concert. The show included both Hip-Hop and many styles of Brazilian music and dancing. The girls were mesmerized. Today, we checked out the free kids' yoga on the lawn at The Americana at Brand. I'd never been to the Americana before, but we'll definitely be back. Not only was the yoga great, but they also have free kids' concerts on Tuesdays. And we have yet to try the Grove's summer concert series, which I hope to check out soon as well. Also on my list? The Getty Villa and the Noah's Ark exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center.

We'll see if we get to all of it. When I asked Lucy a couple of weeks ago about starting kindergarten in the fall, she looked at me like I was crazy and said, "I can't even think about that, it's too long from now." I remember summers feeling like that when I was younger and love that she views it that way. Unfortunately for me, despite the smog and heat, summer seems to be flying by much too fast.