Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beating the Heat....

One of the most wonderful things about California is that no matter how sweltering hot it gets inland, the coast is always cooler. When we lived in Studio City, the sun beat down at blistering 100+ degree temperatures. We'd hop in our car, get on the 405 and head to Santa Monica (less than 10 miles away, but an hour away, thanks to LA traffic). In Santa Monica it would be 30 degrees cooler and we could relax on the beach without needing an IV drip of fluids to keep from dehydrating.

Here in the Bay Area, its pretty much the same thing; the drive still takes about an hour, but its closer to 30 miles. Thank you, not-LA traffic. The early part of this week felt more like mid-September instead of mid-June. September is our horrible hot month here; the 30 days that you have to close up the house at the crack of dawn to keep the cool night air in as long as possible and by mid-afternoon its too hot to be outside and you're sweating inside, even though you're stripped down to a tank top & a pair of your husband's boxers and you just don't care if someone comes to the door, you're not putting on more clothes (well, you will, but you will not be happy about it). That's September here. Except it's apparently also the 3rd week of June this year. Ugh.

After suffering through Monday's heat, Ethan and I awoke on Tuesday morning with a plan. A plan that included MUCH cooler temperatures, a bunch of junk, the beach & some strawberries.

We started out at Half Moon Bay, a sleepy little coastal town, complete with a plethora of surfers, marinas, chowder houses & art/junk/antique shops. My junk shop of choice didn't open 'til noon, so we ventured down to the marina for a little picnic, which consisted of peanut butter crackers, rice cakes and gatorade, because I am the most awesome mother ever.

I'm really good at taking pictures of the top of my kid's head, right? He was digging for dinosaur bones here.


The saddest looking fisherman ever, Ethan, and a chihuahua's butt.

At noon we went to Half to Have It, which is, hands down, the coolest found-treasure (ie. junk) shop ever in the history of junk shops.

Seriously, where else can you find a happy, cheering Buddha AND.... old motel sign? Seriously.

Or maybe you live on a Fairchild Street & this would be awesome in your entry way? Or you love mermaids? Some people do love mermaids. Or perhaps you have a penchant for planting succulents in abalone shells? Not bad as penchants go?

As Ethan is neither in the market for abalone shell NOR an old motel sign, he found climbing the giant rock in the middle of the yard more to his liking.

Oh, and did I mention they sell glass? By the pound? That I let my kid play with? MOTHER OF THE YEAR!!!!!!
Before you call CPS on me, these pieces of glass are rounded like marbles. No sharp edges and very unlikely to break. He happily sorted them & dug in them while I ooooh'd & aaaaah'd my way through the yard.

And when he got tired of playing with glass, he played with the terracotta vats of seashells.

How many scoops you want?

After we got our fill of tchotchkes & broken glass, we headed to a farm in Pescadero, just a bit down the coast. There we were greeted by....

plants in antique washing machines...

...and antique farm equipment...

Oh, California, you hide kitsch in every corner. I love you.

We attempted to pick strawberries, but the fields looked kind of like this (cue the Debbie Downer music):

wauuuuuuuw wauuuuuuuuaw waaaaaaauuuuu....

We sang a few choruses of "Strawberry Fields Forever," (even though it was more like "strawberry fields for about 10 rows before the beans start"), picked a couple handfuls of pink/white berries, and shelled out our $7 to pay for the berries I knew would go from unripe to overripe & rotten in the heat of the car on the drive home.

As we left the farm, we noticed the "marine layer" (that's fancy Californian speak for "fog") was rolling in. The temperature was a delicious 65 degrees, so we decided to stop at the beach on our way back home, because we knew we'd be heading into the inferno of the inland temperatures if we didn't linger on the coast until at least 5pm.

So we ran races up & down the dunes.

He is tireless, people. How is it that he is never, ever tired?

Well, maybe a little bit tired...

Then we did some sand construction....

This was a 3-lane highway. He was very disappointed we weren't equipped with our rush-hour-worthy supply of matchbox cars.

And then we had to go foraging around in the driftwood and flowers to see what we could see.

Turns out, what we didn't see was the rock that Ethan stepped on on his way back off the driftwood....

Ethan was adequately impressed with his non-boo boo and concerned about the risk of infection ("did we bring the neosporin, Mom?") that I was able to convince him that perhaps it was time to go home.

On the drive home, munching on strawberries and inspecting the non-boo boo (pretty much at the same time, which is oh-so-super-hygenic, I know), Ethan noted "Mom, we had a really fun day!" Melt. My. Heart.

Yes, little man, we did.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Now Where Did I Put That Packing Tape?

Every time I think I'm getting back into the swing of things with this blog, I skip off into the universe again & poof! It's been weeks since I wrote. At this point, I've had so many "oh, I"m going to have to blog about this" moments that they all meld together into a swirl of blurry semi-memories that just are not going to be riveting to either write about OR read. So.

I'll try again.

I'll start with our "big" news (as in "big pain in my ass"). We have to move. Again. Our landlords contacted us almost 2 weeks ago to let us know what fabulous tenants we are and how much they looooove having us in their home. But we have to go. They are selling the house & we are not buying it. So out we go. Fortunately our lease goes through mid-October, so its not like we have to be out this weekend. Although, given that they want to put the house on the market & show it before the end of summer, moving out this weekend does sound tempting.

There seems to be an expectation that I will be inhabiting this home & keeping it "show ready" for their realtor to do open houses & appointment showings. Um. Really? Because, I'm not really what you'd call a "housekeeper," in that I don't really "clean my house every day," and I don't "scrub the toilets til they shine," and my kitchen isn't always "tidy," and our dirty laundry doesn't always "hit the hamper," and my 5-year old doesn't "always aim correctly when he pees," and my cats aren't "without their smelly faults," and my mail isn't completely "sorted," and the garage is sort of what you might call "our own personal junk shop."

So I don't really think it is going to be beneficial to either their goal of selling a house or my goal of not stressing out over whether or not they can sell their house for us to be living in the home for much longer. Mid-October is looking more like mid-August for us.

Sigh. My little bloggy break has its perks for you in that while I've not been blogging, I've pretty much gotten past the angst of making Ethan move for a 4th time in 5 years, so I'm not going to ramble endlessly about that mommy guilt. I've gotten to the "kids are resilient!" and "he'll be fiiiiiine!" part of that process, so yay for that, at least. I'm trying to dig deep to that "What an adventure!!!! This will be a fun new beginning!!!" attitude that I know is in there somewhere, but has been covered over by layers contentment and routine.

Now the angst is revolving around the fact that there is nothing out there right now to rent. When we moved here 2 years ago, the housing market was in the shitter & that meant lots of good rental deals. People couldn't sell their houses, so they rented them out. Fantastic! Now, while it's not soaring into the stratosphere, the market is supporting more sales, so the rental opportunities are vanishing into thin air (case in point: the house I freaking live in; woot!)

And then there's the packing. Oh, the humanity! I am so over packing. And unpacking. Yes, the unpacking. And I"m not talking about unpacking in the new house, wherever it is, whenever we move into it. I"m talking about those last 3 boxes taunting me from the garage. The 3 boxes that never got unpacked from when we moved into this house. Boxes probably full of things I don't "need" (since I've not once gone digging through them in the past 2 years looking for anything), but that I am loathe to throw away. Certainly I don't "neeeeed" my grandmother's high school diploma, but dammit, it's history and all that! I can't throw it away. So I will cart it from house to house in a box that never gets unpacked for as long as I live, apparently.

Over the next couple of weeks my home is going to be reminiscent of one of those HGTV home organization shows where we go through every room and throw things into "trash" "yard sale" "pack" "donate" piles, minus the brash loud buxom host with a giant flower in her hair (does anyone remember that show?) This should be especially fun when we get to the play room area of the home. Ethan is what you might call a "hoarder" of toys. Everything is "special" and while he talks at great length about donating toys and periodically even goes through his stash and picks out things he thinks "some other little boy or girl might like," to give to Good Will, when push comes to shove, I have to remove things under cover of night or drop-off play date, or there are tears. I am hoping that the idea of making cold hard cash in exchange for hisbajillion trucks and 24-piece puzzles will foster his entrepreneurial spirit & he'll consent to clear out a good portion of the room. Otherwise, he's going to need his own U-Haul.

So I'm off to scour Craigslist. For houses. Again. Awesome.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moving On Up....


Friday was Ethan's preschool graduation. Or, as the powers that be at his school called it, "Moving Up" Day. And as promised, I made a total ass of myself with the weepies. Truly, I wouldn't have, I'm sure of it, if they hadn't played that Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole mix up of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" as my baby came walking down the aisle with his friends. Seriously, people. Dr. Mark Greene of ER did his whole "great doctors don't die; they just fade away on the Hawaiian breeze" death scene to that song, and I danced with my father to the Louis Armstrong version of "What a Wonderful World" at my wedding, and the lyrics about all the potential & the passage of time & the beauty of the world through the eyes of the young, and OHMYGOD!!!! It's just a song RIFE with emotional baggage, so obviously at the first note, I was a big embarrassing mess. Sigh. They may as well have just thrown on a bit of Bridge Over Troubled Water, mixed that up with Puff the Magic Dragon & finished it off with Sunrise, Sunset; then I may have just passed right out due to sap-induced emotional overload. Seriously.

Ethan & his little friends were adorable; they walked in one by one, each carrying a rose they gave to their teachers at the end of the aisle before going up to sit on the stage. They sat through grown-up speeches thanking teachers, directors, administrators, etc., and aside from some twitching, dress-lifting, yawning, squirming and elbow-sparring, they were model little people for the entire ceremony.

After they stood up and sang a sweet little song about peaceful, happy people (not to be confused with shiny, happy people), complete with sign-language accompaniment (or reasonable attempts thereof), it was time for their diploma (or...certificates of move-uppance?) One at a time, each kid stood up by one of their teachers & the teacher read a little bit about the child---what they wanted to be when they grew up, what they'd wish for their family if they had one wish, etc. Most kids wanted to be astronauts or veterinarians or ballerinas when they grew up. Lofty, if standard. My kid? My kid said he wanted to be "The Next Beatle. I'm going to be the youngest Beatle." And his wish for his family? "That I could sing them a new Beatles song." Me, too, little man. Me, too.

After the ceremony we ate hotdogs, fruit and cupcakes, got our faces painted and stood in endless lines for the balloon artist. Or rather, I ate a hotdog, fruit & cupcakes while Ethan got his face painted and stood in an endless line for the balloon artist. My 32-lb 5 year old, preschool graduate seems to run on an endless supply of energy that is not derived from food consumption. I counted a small handful of challah & three strawberries going into his mouth during the entire picnic. I am going to observe his eating habits closely for the next week, write a book, call it "The Ethan Principle: Its Not a Diet, Its a Lifestyle" and make a million freaking dollars. I'm sure it will consist of constant motion & a diet of string cheese, fruity Cheerios, freeze-dried mangoes & buttered noodles w/ sprinkle cheese. Doesn't sound tasty to me, but you should see this kid's abs.

This "moving up" stuff is serious business...

Thank goodness I brought my mad photography skillz to the party, right?!

Three mover-uppers discussing what is, no doubt, a weighty matter, during the ceremony.

Seriously some of the cutest kids. ever.

Are the grown-ups still talking?!!!

And then they sang.

Ethan's teacher read's Ethan's Beatles Manifesto.

And shakes the rabbi's hand while receiving his certificate of move-uppance.

Aaaaaand then he uses said certificate as a telescope.

Then it was time to fuel up with that one-bite of challah....

...and have at it with the koosh balls until the parents were done eating and tired of saying, "Have you seen my kid?! Where's my kid?!"

And then they were kindergarteners....

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Getting All Martha Up in Here...

Summer is approaching. That means all over the country, moms everywhere, of the stay-at-home variety or otherwise, are gearing up for 8-10 weeks of hearing the whining timbres of "I'm booooooored," and "there's nothing to doooooooooo." This will happen regardless of how packed a summer schedule is, no matter how many hours of soccer camp or arts & crafts camps a child is engaged in or if you've taken out a second mortgage on your house or cashed in a chunk of your 401K to cover the cost of said camps to ensure that your child is adequately stimulated creatively, kinesthetically and academically during those long summer weeks (nevermind that when I was a kid, my grandmother said, "go outside and play!" and it was free and we did it because grandma said to, and we all still got into college. End of story.)

So that means that I am starting to pack my bag o' tricks full of crafty, arty, field-trippy kind of plans. I need to be ready when the lamentations of boredom start. I do plan on implementing the "go outside & play!" cure as often as possible (of course with the necessary 21st century revision of "in the back yard. That's fenced in. And invisible from the front yard. So no one tries to steal you. Or touch you inappropriately. While I"m inside folding laundry. wondering if I should have given you a baby monitor to take outside with you so I can hear everything that's happening while you're outside and I'm inside. On second thought, stay inside and play a video game." I kid.).

But I know there are going to be times when Ethan and I are staring at each other, counting the seconds until bedtime (well, he can't tell time yet, so I'm probably projecting a bit there), and I want to be prepared with FUN! FAMILY! BONDING! arts & crafts.

This week Ethan was home most of the week (happy summer vacation preview!!!) with the most unstrep throat strep throat in the history of strep throat. Had a fever for about 10 minutes, complained twice that his throat hurt. Other than that, business as usual, except contagious. So he stayed home with me.

Awhile back I found a cool blog post about making colored sand art & bookmarked the page for future reference. Well, yesterday was that future. So as not to mislead anyone into thinking I came up with this idea, I got it (along w/ eleventy billion other ideas) from this fabulous blog
and I'm a little less afraid of summer now.

A little warning: this craft is not really for the mess-phobic. Fortunately, I don't fall anywhere even in the neighborhood of that category. Sometimes I think our lives would be a lot more serene if I were a bit more concerned with the mess, and I've tried, made countless resolutions to be a neater housekeeper and teach Ethan how to be neater. But, at almost 40, I've concluded that it's just not who I am (it feels much better to announce it as a revelation rather than a resignation), and so I will embrace the mess and worry about cleaning it up later.

You need: salt, colored chalk, paper & glass bottles w/ caps, corks, etc.

You start out pouring some plain salt onto a piece of paper. Ethan needed to play with the salt for a few minutes before we went any further....

"Look, Mommy, a latte!" Perhaps we go to Starbucks a bit too often...

Then you take one piece of chalk and rub it against the salt until all the salt has turned that color.

Then pick up the paper, making it a little funnel, and pour the colored "sand" into the bottle. I got these for $1 at Michaels, but Ethan liked the project so much that I'll likely be frequenting our local Goodwill to find cheap glass jars--our house is going to be full of them soon. And if we ever give you a handmade gift? You're looking at it right now...

And...lather, rinse, repeat....



Ethan was quick to inform me that his was better because my layer of yellow was "just way too big. Next time, remember not to use so much salt for the yellow layer, Mommy, okay?"

Um. Okay.

Like I said, the project is a bit messy. You can see in the pictures that my dining room table definitely got more than its daily recommended allowance of sodium. Take a moment to image what the floor underneath it looked at. Neat freaks (and I say use that term affectionately) are shuddering in horror right now, I know.

FORTUNATELY, I have a kid who has a new-found love of the dust-buster. Dust-bust away, little man!! Dust-bust away!!!

Tomorrow Ethan graduates from preschool. Be prepared for the sap, people, because I will be bringing it.