Levi and his pals got together yesterday to decorate gingerbread houses at his friend Ethan's house after rugby practice. When I went to pick him up Jennifer (Ethan's mom) told me about the festivities.

"All the boys but Levi chose zombie themed decoration for their gingerbread houses."

On the way home, sweetly decorated gingerbread house in hand I asked Levi, "How come you didn't want to decorate yours with zombies like the other boys?"

"I didn't think it was very Christmasy." he said.

Not Christmasy? No zombies?

And in that very moment it occurred to me that I had never pointed out to Levi that Jesus Christ was, in fact, the ORIGINAL ZOMBIE. (Three days later. He is risen. Keep up.)

I am officially failing parenting.



Life has meaning only if one barters it day by day for something other than itself.

A quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1900 - 1944



I am out of town for work. One overnight. Got an email from Madigan:


Hi Mommy!
How are you?
When are you getting home?

I miss you.
I am well! how are you? I am looking froward to smooching your face in a little while!
I think I'll be home after your bedtime. I'm missing you like crazy.

xoxo -

I love you.

I'll be home in a little while. And I will be loved.



Ruben is having a root canal tomorrow. We have excellent dental coverage.

My dryer is broken and I need a new one. Ruben hung a line on the back deck and the sun and wind have dried my clothes for the past few weeks.

I need to buy a new car. Said car is running fairly well right now and I may be able to wait until after the root canal and dryer purchase.

The economy is in a slump. From this comes a collective appreciation for less expensive and more meaningful exchanges.

I can't lose for trying around here.



If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

A quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1900 - 1944



I never saw a wild thing

sorry for itself.

A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough

without ever having felt sorry for itself.

A poem by D.H. Lawrence



Levi has a cyst on his iris. The iris located in his eye.

It is very small. Tiny. Minuscule. So small that the first doctor didn’t even think it was a cyst. Maybe just some inflammation creating some swelling. Or a cyst. Maybe.

(And BTW - I brought him along to the eye doctor because his sister needed to be checked. His eyes didn't need to be checked. Perfect vision. Whatevs.)

So she sent us to Dr. No2. Who said, “Yup, it’s a cyst. Probably nothing. It is likely nothing will happen. But we want to monitor it. Oh, and by the way, I want the team of experts at UCSF to have a look. They probably won’t call or anything, but you know. I just want to check with them.”

So, yeah.

They want to see him. The UCSF folks. For an ultrasound biomicroscopy. It's basically a high resolution ultrasound to evaluate the iris cyst. Even though the cyst appears totally benign.

So there’s that.

And I don’t deal well with worry for my loved ones and their well being. And my crazy pills may not keep this panic rising in my chest at bay.

Cause I don’t have that thing. That, “Nothing bad will happen! Everything will work out. My people will be perfect and everything will be ducky!” thing.

I happen to know that sometimes shit goes left and your world crumbles down to the ground and you are left with dirt and sticks and now you have to make something like a life out of this pile of shit.

And I can hardly keep the tears from squirting out of my eyes right now except the guy in the cube next to me clearly has a hairball he’s trying to cough up. Or a sinus infection from hell. And no snot/throat etiquette. Geez, where was this guy raised? Step into the restroom, my friend. None of us need to hear this! And now I’m shaking and I’m not sure if it’s laughing or crying but I know if anyone sees it, it will not be good. One sec.

Okey dokes. I’m back.

Anyhoo, I was IMing with my hubs after I emailed Dr. No2’s response to him. And he knows just what to say to make me feel better.

hubby: just got Dr. No2's response. Thanks

me: np

hubby: cool

me: it makes me nervous

hubby: me too
but worst case scenario....
he's the cool guy with a patch
and an eyeball in a jar

me: in fact, we'll call him patch

hubby: so there's that

me: or jar

hubby: oh, you mean call him jar?

me: yes

hubby: or leftie
or Cyclopes

me: eagle eye

hubby: ooooohhhh
that's the one
hawkeye too

me: yes

hubby: madeye moody

me: now that's what I'm talking about
Which is why I will love him forever.



First thing, when the redwood (the one the size of a city block) gets hit with the glow from the sun I cannot yet see or feel, the moment when the branches seem to shine from within all 296 shades of green and brown and yellow...

it is wondrous.



Dinner on the patio on a perfect Portland evening. With a roaring fire. And mashed potatoes.

Today we hit Seattle.

Smelling my coffee. Godda run!



Get ready...
...4 suitcases, 4 mp3 players, 3 computers, 3 phones, 2 cameras and one argument about how many cords can be hanging out of the truck console at any given time before my husband looses his everloving mind. (One, BTW.)
Get set..
...the alarm for 3:45. (Who decided this crazy crap? Jeese! Oh, wait. That was me. Aw hell...)
Pacific northwest - here we come!!

This one was hard earned. This one I'm reveling in.



Do yourself a favor and check out this blog. You will feel good all the way down to your toes.

Unless you are a heartless monster.

In which case, carry on.



At the rest stop....

Maddy: Didja go?

Levi: Yes.

Maddy: Didja flush?

Levi: There was no flush.

Maddy: Didja wash?

Levi: There was no wash.


Levi: Do you hafta go?

Maddy: No.

Levi: Good. 'Cause its horrendous in there.



My son caught his first fish last week. And his second (which was actually the first). Long story. Suffice to say, two experienced (old) fishermen stuck a BIG fish on Levi's line while Rube was looking down the way. And Levi played along.

A few minutes later he caught an itty-bity little guy and reeled him in on his own.

What a day! Boy was Rube proud!

It wasn't long before my boy was telling his dad, "I didn't really catch the big one. I only caught the little one."

And then his dad was REALLY proud. This moment in parenting could only be more sublime if it didn't come as a result of stabbing living creatures in the face. But, I digress.

Here he is before the hullabaloo.



Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

A poem by David Wagoner.



Roast chicken.

Stuffed with onions and garlic.

Crispy skin.

Juicy oysters underneath.

That was the smell yesterday that made my kiddos squeal with delight.

Today brought dog walking, cheezy waffles, laundry folding, near napping and Elvis and Annabelle.

A surprising delight. Even if it is a bit of a cliche.



"Something smells terrific!" says Madigan.

"What smells so good?" asks Levi. "I can't wait to eat it, whatever it is."

Today I am in my kitchen.

Today is glorious.

Tomorrow I will tell you all about it.



So I saw this in twitter tonight.

My first response: What?! What the hell? Do I even know you? Who are you to "request" that I blog? Whateves!

And then I realized - I haven't blogged in a month.


So, a couple of things.

Blogher is coming up. And I'm not going. And I'm butt hurt. Apparently.

Also, work has been very, very, very challenging, but is getting better.

And Summer is in full swing and when I'm not working I am attending beautiful weddings at botanical gardens and perfect beaches, picking tons of berries, making jam and cobbler with said berries, eating 50 or so oysters at a beach party, teaching my kiddos the magic of fresh oysters, attending pool parties and BBQs, porch sitting on sultry nights and traipsing all over my mountain with my big dog.

And all of this has made me forget to write.

So, Lisa B. of hammondrye, thank you for the nudge.

And your photos are beautiful

And I'm coming to your city in 3 weeks. And will think of you when I write about or adventures.



When I was home with the kiddos and we were living on one income I would post lists on the fridge of free things to do. Walk the mall and get a See's candy sample, Deer Hollow Farm, Rancho San Antonio, Happy Hollow Free Days, Museum free days, puddle jumping after a rainstorm, etc... This was in an effort to not feel so trapped on the top of the mountain with the little people who needed me for EVERYTHING.

Now days I don't have the list on the fridge, but am still inclined to seek out free entertainment. Makes me feel innovative and financially responsible and smart.

In my neighborhood there are dozens of parks, hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, beaches a stone's throw away and stacks of books to read, but some times I want to get out and feel a little "culture" without breaking the bank.

Below is a short list of free fun for the Silicon Valley set (some for kids, some not!):

Outdoor movies Wednesday Nights
Movies start at dusk and you will need to get there early!
San Pedro Square
July 8 – Caddy Shack (1980/ Rated R / 107 min)
August 12 – Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975/ Rated PG/ 91 min)

Historic District on Post Street between Market and First streets.
July 15 – Casablanca (1942/ NR/ 102 minutes)
August 19 – A Streetcar Named Desire (1951/ NR /122 minutes)

SoFA District at South First and William streets
June 24 – Mad Hot Ballroom (2005/ Rated PG/ 105 minutes)
July 22 – Romeo + Juliet (1996/ Rated PG/ 120 minutes)
August 26 – Shaun of the Dead (2004/ Rated R/ 99 minutes)

Symphony Silicon Valley music festival on the mall at the 4th and San Carlos at San Jose State University
August 25 (5:00 PM) Cleo Lane and ensemble sings jazz standards
August 27 (5:00 PM) To Be Announced
August 29 (7:00 PM) Classical Mystery Tour with Symphony Silicon Valley presenting The Beatles
August 30 (3:00 PM) Brass Band Concert in the Park with Tony Clements and Symphony Silicon Valley

San Jose Downtown Music in the Park 2009
June 18: Third Eye Blind
June 25: Pete Escovedo
July 2: The Tubes
July 9: Eek-A-Mouse
July 16 Pato Banton
July 23: Matt Nathanson
July 30: Colin Hay of Men at Work
August 6: Anthony David
August 13: Better Than Ezra
August 20: Sonny Landreth
August 27: White Album Ensemble

Stern Grove isn't exactly in my hood, but is very cool, 100% free and is kid oriented culture in San Francisco.
June 21: ROBERTA FLACK / Davell Crawford
June 28: LES NUBIANS / Rupa and the April Fishes
July 12: JOAN BAEZ / Blame Sally
July 19: SERGENT GARCIA / Curumin
August 2: KAILASH KHER’S KAILASA / Delhi 2 Dublin
August 9: TOTÓ LA MOMPOSINA / Nation Beat
August 16: SAN FRANCISCO BALLET / Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director

AMC Theater's free children's summer movie series has some funny rules about picking up the tickets beforehand, but is worth the effort for staying cool and having fun.
June 24 Kung Fu Panda
July 1 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
July 8 Tale of Despereaux
July 15 Horton Hears a Who
July 22 The Spiderwick Chronicles
July 29 Nim's Island
August 5 Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Have fun! Don't let the dreary economy stop you!



What happy looks like in my neck of the woods.



So, the girl child and I are going to a special seminar this week. And tonight the husband and I went to a facilitated group discussion at her middle school to learn about talking to your child about sex and drugs. We didn't get to the drugs.

The doctor leading the group (PHD, not MD) works with pregnant teens. She talked about how a success in her workday is getting a mom to choose to put water in a baby bottle before soda, spending a couple of nights a week at home, rather than going out every single night. And how she engages the pregnant and new mom teens and elevates their esteem by having them travel around to schools and speak about their circumstances to share what they could have done differently.

She also shared that, as good as it is for the school teens to hear these girls stories, it is so much more important for these young moms themselves, as it can help to keep them from having second and third children while still in their teens.

Tonight I learned some staggering facts:

Over 80 percent of teen mothers drop out of school, never to return again.

Over 80 percent of teen fathers are out of the picture. Of the remaining 20 percent, most do not see their children even once a week.

Teen pregnancy costs the US 8 billion dollars a year.

There were so many more things. Like parents who address their fears by putting their daughters on the pill to "regulate their periods." Like parents who NEVER talk with their kids about sex. And parents who struggle, awkwardly, through the embarrassing and uncomfortable conversations because they love their kids so much. Like me.

So I'm gonna drag her to the "Heart to Heart" seminar. And we're gonna feel awkward and uncomfortable. And my baby is gonna grow up before I know it. And she will or will not have sex as a teen. And she will or will not end up in therapy blaming me for everything that ever happened to her.

But she will not get to say, "No one ever talked about sex in my house."