Monday, September 27, 2010

Evie's Wonders

Evie's homework assignment for the night was to write down fifteen things that she wonders about. I love that her teacher gives her such creative assignments and celebrates his students' imagination in that way. Here's what she came up with:

I wonder...

what it would be like to live on Mars.

if I'll have kids.

if people will remember the Beatles in 2020.

how the dinosaurs died.

if I'll remember my friends now when I'm older.

what I'll look like when I'm thirty.

if I'll ever move again.

if scientists will discover new animals.

if there's a way to walk off the earth.

if there will be new transportation invented.

who I'll have for my 5th grade teacher.

if the sun will run out of light.

what it would be like to travel to Australia.

if someone will find a food with all the vitamins in it.

if we're really just on a speck and someone's holding us and saying, "there's life on this speck!"

I don't think adults don't spend enough time wondering. What do you wonder about?


It's been a while now since I worked outside the house. In that time, it's funny how often I've formed friendships with other moms who are home full-time with their kids without ever thinking to ask they did before they had kids. I've had friends who for years had no idea that I was ever a teacher. And I was shocked when, after knowing a friend for months, I found out that she was going back to work as a doctor. I had no clue she was ever a doctor.

Recently, several of my friends have jumped back into work by starting their own businesses. I love seeing moms come up with creative solutions as they re-enter the work world and I love discovering that my friends have talents that I never knew they had. My friend Keri-Ann recently decided to put her love of baking to the test and sold out her pies at the farmer's market. And just today, I learned that my friend Corey designs reusable bags and is starting a crafting blog.

In honor of all of these creative friends, I thought I'd share a couple of their websites:

Corey's reusable bag company (formerly, the new site is in development):

Hilary's name dots:

And I'll celebrate creative family as well:

My mom's palettes:


Letters from Lucy

Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. - Scot Adams

This past week was a rough one. As I've written before, our family is prone to stomach viruses, which is all sorts of awesome. And last week was an especially brutal one. It started on Sunday night, when Noni spent the whole night throwing up. Then Lucy and Toby got it. (Snapshot of our family at midnight: Lucy throws up in the hallway. Toby gets up to throw up in the toilet and wipes out on Lucy's vomit.) Then Evie got it. For some reason they all managed to get sick at night, right after I had drifted off to sleep, so I spent three nights up all night and washing sheets and towels all day the next day. When I finally got sick on Sunday morning, I was actually just relieved because, unless our cat comes down with it, we have finally moved on from this nasty virus.

At any rate, about mid-week last week I sort of forgot that my life consisted of anything but washing vomity towels and comforting sick kids. When you're sleep deprived and stuck in the house all week, you start to lose perspective. (Note: I would be horrible as the mom in Room.) But just when I was feeling overwhelmed with fatigue and laundry burn-out, Lucy started leaving notes around the house for me. She left a note for me to "Loc on the fireplas", where she left me a drawing of a cardinal, my favorite bird. Then I found a note on the kitchen counter wishing me a "good morning!!!" She left goodnight notes in my bed and drawings on my desk.

Lucy began to read and write last year, but this year she's suddenly at the point where both are less of a struggle and starting to be fun. As a result, she's taken up more of an interest in doing both at home. Her timing couldn't be better. Her notes to me got me through the week. They also reminded me that being up for a week with sick kids is a small price to pay for all of the joy that they bring to my life.

Good night my mom, I love you.
(For some reason I can't get my photos to fully display on my blog - the right side always gets cropped off. Working on that!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This weekend, three of Evie's fourth-grade girl friends came over for a sleepover party to celebrate Evie's ninth birthday. As Toby wrote, it was heartwarming after so many moves to see Evie enjoying close friends. As I watched Evie and her friends take over the house with their energy and laughter and excitement, I couldn't help but think how nine and ten are such wonderful ages. They switch back and forth seamlessly from tweeny ("Oh my God, did you Selena Gomez's outfit on Wizard's of Waverly Place?" "I know! It was soooooo cute!" "Totally. She has the best clothes.") to child-like ("Hey, do you guys want to climb the tree in our front yard?" "Yes! And let's pretend we're bears." "Okay, I'm the mom bear! You can be the sister bear...") They care deeply for their friends, but they haven't yet hit the stage of cutting down other girls to attempt to boost their own self-esteem (Can we skip that stage?). I also love that Evie is at an age where we can have more adult conversations. Last night, she and Toby discussed the Revolutionary War at dinner. On the way to school this morning, she and I talked about what we like about our favorite books.

Two weeks ago, the fires brought out all of our photo albums and, now that they're out, we've been looking them over. There's Evie with short curly hair heading off to preschool and Evie, gap-toothed, playing the piano. We couldn't believe how young she looked when Noni was born or when we left Frederick. All of these photos do make me nostalgic, but when I think about what a great stage she's in now, it makes watching her grow up a little easier.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Room Reviewed

I would write an eloquent review about how much I loved the book Room by Emma Donoghue, except I'm too tired from staying up the last two nights reading it. I can't remember the last time I couldn't put a book down like this. (Okay, fine, it was last fall and it was about vampires and werewolves and, yes, I did run to Target at 10 pm to buy Eclipse. Go team Jacob.) The thing about Room is that it's a bumping-into-walls-while-reading, answering-everything-your-kids-ask-with-mmmhmmm-for-two-days type of book, but it's also incredible literature. I rarely buy hardcover books, but I bought Room because Newsweek gave it such a good review that I couldn't resist.

The "room" from the title is an 11 by 11 foot shed where 5-year-old Jack and his mom live. To Jack, it's home, but, when the book starts, his mother has been imprisoned there for eleven years by her kidnapper. Donoghue perfectly captures a 5-year-old's voice with Jack's narration and your heart will go out to his mother, bravely trying to raise a child and calmly answer his never-ending questions, even in their extraordinarily challenging circumstances.

I strongly recommend reading Room. Just don't start it at night if you have to get up early the next day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


My friend Jenny posed the following question on our Frederick listserve the other day: Which of your possessions truly bring you joy? It was a hypothetical question, meant to inspire discussion, but suddenly that question has become very important to me.

The City of Boulder has issued a warning that residents in my neighborhood should "prepare for possible evacuations." This afternoon, I contacted my friend Jen, who lives in Castle Rock, so we would have a place to stay should we need to flee; dug up all of our birth certificates and passports; moved the propane tanks to the east side of the yard; pulled out the cat carrier and placed it by the door; packed an overnight bag for me and the girls; and then filled the trunk of the minivan with photo albums and kicked myself for not taking Mike up on the offer to scan all of my old photos.

I'd like to say I looked around and found that I really don't need anything else and, truthfully, as long as we are all safe, that is true. But a friend told me she feels that it's "scary to pack up all of your memories in a few bags." And that's what it is about stuff. It's not the actual things that I'm attached to, but the memories that go along with most of them. There's the guitar that I bought for Toby and the look on his face when I surprised him at Christmas. He usually doesn't like getting gifts but that one brought him so much joy. There's the painting that mom made of our porch at the house in Vermont. I'll never go to that house again and I love the memories that are attached to that view. There's the piano, my great-grandmother's, and all of my books, the watercolors my grandmother collected on a round-the-world tour, the girls' artwork, the pink skirt that all three of them loved when they were two, and the dining room table that my grandfather made. The list goes on and on.

Ultimately, I think our neighborhood will be safe. We may have to evacuate if the winds continue to blow in our direction, but the fire would have to burn through three city blocks to get to our house. However, even having to contemplate this issue has brought me nearly to tears. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost their home, whether in the Four Mile Canyon Fire or in any other disaster. And a huge THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all of the fire fighters up there right now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sedona Revisited

Two years ago, Toby and I enjoyed five days of R&R in Sedona without the girls. Well, four days of R&R and one amazing and grueling day up and down the Grand Canyon, but anyway, it was a memorable trip. Our lives were chaotic at the time--after our trip, we flew back east to pick up the girls and then turned right around and moved to Los Angeles. We spent much of our time in Sedona that year discussing our future.

Two years later, Toby and I finally headed out for another kid-free vacation. Again, we traveled to Sedona. This time, it was to celebrate Mike and Diane's wedding. (Mike later wrote on Facebook that it was "hands down best weekend of my life." I love happy beginnings!) The incredible red rock Sedona views looked the same, but I couldn't help but note the differences in our lives since our last trip. How funny it is that we thought we had a clue about our future then. We didn't imagine that two years later we would be living in Boulder for the second year in a row and or that Toby would have started a new business. And of course on this trip, we never imagined that we'd come home to find the mountains behind us on fire.

I think it's important to have visions for the future, but this trip was a good reminder that, as much as you can plan in life, the future is always a mystery.

Wanted: A Boring Week in Boulder

The mountains behind us are burning. Over 7,000 acres of forest are gone already. From our yard this morning, the sky was a soot-gray and white ashes kept falling like snow onto our lawn and our hair.

We've experienced mountains burning before. In Studio City two years ago, wildfires ravaged the Angeles National Forest and the Santa Monica Mountains. We breathed in the smoky air and listened to sad news reports of people losing their homes. But we watched the fires from across the valley or on our drives to the ocean and never felt threatened in our home. We didn't personally know anyone who was impacted by the fires, unless you count suffering from slight coughs and watery eyes.

In Boulder, we know several families who have been evacuated from their homes. One family, returning from a camping trip over the weekend, wasn't even able to go back into their home to retrieve family photographs and other important possessions. We have a friend who is fighting the fires. We also know those mountains well--picnics on Bald mountain, BBQs at our friends' homes, hikes and camping trips in the woods. The damage and the danger feels closer this time.

We had a different kind of danger in our neighborhood last week. A mother bear and cub clung to a tree one block from our home while the Department of Wildlife aimed their guns to shoot traquilizers at them. They managed to sedate the mother and, upon realizing that her tongue and bottom jaw had recently been destroyed in an accident or fight, decided to euthanize her. Unfortunately, they killed the mother before they caught the cub, who escaped when they tried to tranquilize him. Noni and I watched from the basement windows as three DOW employees ran across our yard, one of them carrying a huge black gun, searching for the cub. He is still missing. I doubt there's anyone in our neighborhood whose heart didn't break just a little bit last week thinking of the starving and distraught orphaned cub. Now, unfortunately, he is probably in good company as the wildfire takes its toll.

I have this thought that the city of Boulder is due for a really boring week next week. One of those run-of-the-mill weeks where nothing out of the ordinary happens. Where you walk the kids to school and smile at the blue sky and breathe in the clean air without thinking about bears or fires or destruction.

As I write, the wind has shifted and the sky immediately above us is blue again (well, bluish at least). I can hear the sound of tankers overhead and am hopeful that they can stop the fire before more damage is done. My prayers are with my friends and the firefighters in the mountains. Please join me in sending some positive thoughts their way.