Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Currently



- Photo via GoodWin


On edge waiting for this 


Regretting the overdose of bagels & flagels, and pizzas, and other delicious (carb heavy) things I consumed during my stay in New York with wild abandon. A fact that has me feeling sluggish and sorry about it today with a list of to-dos on my desk taunting me as I write.


Covetingperfect white romper. And this adorable nude stitched tee


Obsessing over I Love Dick. The new netflix series adaptation of the nearly forgotten book from the 90s that has resurfaced in the past two years or so to become a new age feminist manifesto of sorts, AND, one fine piece of television. I could go on and on about my crush on Kathryn Hahn and all of her great features, or my praise for the setting and wardrobe, but just watch it yourself in a day like I did. And then of course rush to read the book. Or vise versa.


Wanting these easy slip on clogs


Looking forward to a couple nights away as a family at a cute boutique hotel near Moonstone Beach next week when school gets out.


Adoring these little ceramic ladies- one of which I received as a gift (and good luck house hunting token) on Mother's Day. Who seems to be in need of another cute friend. But how to choose?


Growing Very Fond of the incorporation of the "Dr. Oz slimdown" concoction.
Which is Basically:
1 cup of grapefruit, orange or pineapple juice
2 tsp of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey

Not sure what it's doing as far as a slim down so far, but it's certainly helping my digestive pains. And after the relapse with yeast and bagels, I can use all the help I can get.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Three




In the midst of everything May brought - the death of a childhood friend, unexpected rain storms, mother's day, various family celebrations, a house locked in escrow (!) the stress of securing a new home loan, end of school events, scout camp outs, and an onslaught of overtime with Mike on call basically all month, we somehow managed to pull together a last minute birthday party for our sweet boy last Sunday at his grand parent's house which basically resembles a low key theme park complete with a pool, slide, diving board, claw machine, vintage pin ball games, over sized skate ramp, working merry-go-round, zip line and swing set. 

We cooked tacos and drank Micheladas in the shade while the 100 degree weather didn't seem to phase a single kid in that pool.

Hayes wasn't without a smile all day (save for the one photo I snapped of him below) His favorite gift was a 5$ teletubie stuffed toy. And he informed me multiple times throughout the day "Me happy, Mamma." And meant it.Which is all my heart might ever need to hear. 

Happy three, Hayes Ray!
We love you eternally. 



Monday, May 22, 2017

Overheard

A collection of conversational comments overheard 




"This is John Lennon. See, he's the tall one."
- Rex, explaining the scene / individuals on the poster for Abby Road, which he bought for me with my money at his school book fair for 1$ because he knew it was a "collectible." Then hung in his room instead of mine.


"But I gave them a discount!?"
- Arlo, in response to the lecture he got for selling fidget spinners I BOUGHT to his brothers.


"Sit down. Be Humble."
- Me, Elevating Lamar's song to the title to that of my current parenting mantra.


"Yay!!! Me went pee pee!"
- Hayes, with clapping hands every time he puts on a new pair of big boy underwear and proceeds to pee IN them. Proving we both have different ideas as to what "go potty" "like a big boy" actually consists of.


"I can't wait to go."
- Arlo, on Cochella. After a stale description of the event by me failed to singe his interest.


"He seriously unfollowed me again over it."
- Me, to Mike in reference to another random scolding that prompted a swift unfollow by Rex that afternoon after he admitted (having been granted recent permission to set up his own private Instagram) that he unfollows me whenever I make him mad. Which is quite often.


"Can we just go somewhere we I can wear a Hawaiian shirt and sit in my own chair and drink juice from a coconut?"
- Leon's summer vacation request, prompted possibly by a Corona commercial?


"But she asked if I was hungry"
- Rex, on his teacher being concerned that he doesn't get enough food in his lunch. Because he told her so. Because he is determined to make me look like the flaky, forgetful and neglectful mother I'm (usually) not.


"She's pretty, but she's a feisty one!"
- Old women at Rite Aid about Hayes, holding a nerf gun aimed at her mid complement.


"Is this your boy?"
- Stranger at the Pine Derby Scout event last night who kindly guided a pantless Hayes (naked from the waist down) to me after he'd peed his pants and took them off near the bathroom all in the 5 minutes it took for me to cheer his brothers (who clearly needed all the support they could get after coming in last on every race) as he made his way across a crowded room all the way to me and Mike (who literally ran from us as both seeing his bare body headed for us) with the help of this kind woman.


"My Mom is prettiest when: She goes out to dinner with my dad."
- Leon's sweet mother's day school card complement.


"My mom is the best because: she is kind and puts up with all of us even though we can be a pain in the butt."
- Arlo's mother's day school card complement.


"My mom is good at: Making bean and cheese burritos."
- Rex's mother's day school card praise.


"I don't want to wear glasses anymore because they don't go with my hat."
- Leon, stoked on a new hat.


"Isn't all of it?"
- Mike, talking about my wardrobe in response to my shock in realizing the denim jumper I was wearing was actually maternity wear.


"I probably broke up with him because he made fun of Dylan, then married Mike because he looked like Dylan."
- My sentiments on finding a box of old photos. With a couple pics of boyfriends who did, and did not make the cut.


"I think - and just bare with me on this one - that it could also be that you have four kids?"
- A friend's two cents. In regards to my obsession with googling diseases linked to "excessive tiredness."


"Siri, what makes me love you?"
- Leon, and the Siri love affair saga continues.


"I need to give them back and tell her you didn't like them."
- Rex, on what he was going to tell his teacher when he returned the school photos I neglected to buy (again)


"I'm dead serious when I say it hurts to look at. Just giving you a heads up."
- Me, via text to my best friend as I was waking up to images of Trump, Palin, Kid Rock and Ted Nyugent locking arms in front of a portrait of Hillary at the white house.


"No, a boom to die people"
- Hayes, correcting my inquiry into what he built with his magna tiles. I guessed a boat. To "Sail" people.


"Look what I bought!"
- Rex, beaming over the new key chain (purchased from Arlo)


"Mom, did you ever use to work?"
Leon, uninformed.


"NO, PEE PEE, NO POO POO, IN, MY, BUTTT!!!"
- Hayes, top of his lungs to me in Trader Joes after asking if he needed to use the potty.


"But I feel like he would arrange the hotel and help me pick out a dress and stuff."
- My friend talking about her husband while entertaining brunch conversation pertaining to the the "Indecent Proposal" scenario to a table full of ladies who agreed.


"How is old is she?"
- Old man in line at Vons, pointing to Hayes in a ponytail holding a toy sword to my gut.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day



I came across these photos the other day taken by my friend Kristin Rogers taken a few days after Hayes was born. I invited her over to snap a few shots of first bath. My Springtime baby - my all time favorite Mother's Day gift. 

A babe who three years later wakes to hand me flowers and a beautifully wrapped ceramic figurine I'd be eyeing for months, and asks: 
"Are you happy?" 
"Yes. I am."
"You're welcome!" He says, with flashing blues eyes. 

And the other three gathered sleepily around my bed with so much love. 
The best morning. 




Happy Mother's Day to you all. 
May your day be filled with love and laughter and gratitude and rest. 

xo
J

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In The Market / Footnotes on a House Hunt




It's the kind of thing people say to you when they know you're immersed in the hunt for a new home. Sentiments usually along the lines of "the right one will come along" or you'll end up where you're "suppose to be," designed to ease the dread attached to looking for the right house. Part of this is derived from past experience - to assure our foe that the stresses of searching and waiting and doubting and loosing will not be suffered in vain (we've all been through it a time or two before and for the most part, all ended up in what we consider to be pleasant places) - But also an easy way to ease the let downs. "Things will work out." "It wasn't meant to be." Assurances we believe because we have to. Because fate is always more alluring than sheer luck.

Same goes for the whole dating game in a sense too. In which we keep trusting that "the right one" is somewhere out there waiting for us. The idealized notion of a soul mate, lingering somewhere out there in limbo waiting for timing and fate collide. Hope reminiscent of our single years (brief as mine proved) where we put ourselves out there again and again, failure after failure, heartache after heartache, bad date after bad date in hopes of finding exactly who (or"what") it is we think we're destined for. Never mind the doubt and discouragement that keeps mounting inside of us along the way.

Which is where we're at now after losing out on a couple houses we fell hard for. Proving how similar house shopping is to spouse shopping in the way we use to be seeking "funny, smart, witty, creative, and handsome 30 somethings with good taste in music" have become a hunt for sleek "modern, pre 70's preferably, single story (ideally Spanish style) exposed beams, with a decent school district, under market fixer uppers." A metaphor I've been entertaining for weeks now as way of keeping myself mildly entertained while having my own housing hopes bent and broken more than a few times already. As is the rocky state of California real estate. With housing prices inflating faster than our poor incomes can keep up (literally) and a routine that use to consist of finding something you like, putting in an offer and waiting on a response to open up negotiations is now what basically feels like straight up war zone, waged by dueling counter offers, tossing around over asking price bids, coming from cash buyers, or ruthless investors all there to undercut people like us. Families looking to make a home out of a house that could use a little love in way of DIY renovations, instead of another soul less flip, or disenchanted rental property to line the pockets of someone who will never come to love or even live in the house.

The things that go through you mind while touring these properties - at a certain point - become almost laughable at how identical they are to the frame of mind while dating:

 "Can I see myself here forever?" 

"I think we can make it work..."

"Am I'm settling?" 

"is this good for a family?" 

"Can I overlook the flaws, or will they just worsen with age?" 

and of course, the ultimate: "Is, this, THE ONE?" 

For the past few months we've been casually, then seriously, now extensively, hoping the right house to come along. Luckily with the support of two extremely patient, exceptionally inviting in laws who have taken us in while we do. It has not only allowed us the convenience of finishing out the school year without having to uproot the kids, but also the luxury of saving money and taking our time to ensure where it is that we truly want to be. Instead of being pressured into something because of circumstance and contingencies.

It's given us the means of bouncing around various cities, trying to determine where to focus our efforts and stalk house listings that began as a fun feat in the start, but has felt tiresome as of late.

And we've been burned a couple times too. Getting our hopes up only to find them stamped out by a handful of annoying circumstances. First, the run down Spanish beauty with mass potential built prettily around an old tiled courtyard with wild cacti sprouting wickedly in surrounding yards that stole our heart (Only to be handed off to another offer in the end) Then the tiny 60's ranch style with an ocean slice view from the corner window in the living room - which was probably way too small - but got our creative straws stirring nonetheless when within the 35 minutes of being there Mike determined a practical way to turn the laundry room into a cute but crammed third bedroom. And the attic, a glorious second story addition which would offer a rooftop view of the San Clemente sea. This house, inherited by the San Diego Zoo by way of donation because the women who owned it was apparently very fond of exotic animals and in turn, left them all her life savings. And her cute house with the pretty beamed ceilings that we wanted it so bad we wrote a loving cover letter professing why it was so special to us attached with a photograph showing just two of our children (suspecting the reality that all four could hinder all chances, because who is crazy enough to cram four kids into a tiny two bedroom beach house?)
US.

But we lost that one to a cash buyer. A fact that caused me quite a few tears as well as a sore begrudging of all humanity in one dramatic low point when I started to see that cash will almost always out speak heart when it comes to prime real estate scenarios. Even when it's the good natured zoo folks in charge of such dire decisions.

There were a couple others in between. The women who went back and forth on her decision to sell the four bedroom home we pined for in Capo Beach based on the manic course of a freshly unfolding divorce. Sometimes they were splitting and selling, other days staying and reuniting. Eventually we gave up and wished them the best in what appeared to be a long term rollercoaster romance dwindling.

 And then of course there's the onslaught of multiple offers we're typically up against. A slew of bids coming in for anything even slightly resembling a "good deal." Which is basically the only properties our budget has allotted. Plus we know we will want to strip nearly any house we buy regardless, so figure we might as well start with one of the ones that need it most. But this aspect works like stacking bricks of defeat as we are wading in tides of a seller's market. Anchored by this exhausting plight to find the "right one." Some place we feel confident we can grow, and thrive, and build this next chapter of life together where it feels "right."

So we continue the tours, waking early and dressing ourselves for the game. Scouring websites and bouncing round agents. Trusting that somewhere along the way we end up in the place we do for good reason. A soul mate built of brick and mortar, as if the story could in some ways be written before it's ours to live. And we continue putting ourselves out there. Trusting that the "one" meant for us is still waiting on us to find it. Good timing, wood beams, handsome bones, mass demo wants, loads of baggage, and all.

But man if fate keeps failing us, I just might just take to reading horoscopes daily and begging for a twist of luck as I sit stone faced at the bar contemplating my losses. So here's to prospects finding promises soon.




Saturday, May 6, 2017

Table for One



The night out was intended as a long, overdue excuse for a date. But with traffic jammed the entire way I arrive late, too late, and miss the opportunity for a quiet dinner together at the Italian place we love in Sunset Beach next to the bar he is playing with his band until closing. It's nearly eight and he's already tuning his guitar on stage when I get there. I'm starving so I figure I might as well eat where we planned, load myself with carbs, and head over full so my wine has something to stick to (This being my most responsible and delicious solution to curbing the likelihood of a hang over seeing how drinking just about anything these days without being perfectly hydrated, and properly fed proves recipe for major regrets in way of hang overs the morning after) Plus I know a couple bowls of peanuts at the country dive bar he's playing is my only option for the remainder of the night and the thought of it pains me.

At the entrance I wait nearly ten minutes before being finally greeted by a slender blonde hostess with a slick bun who asks if I am "waiting on someone," eyes dodging behind me assuming my partner might be shielded by the shuffle of people exiting the lobby. I tell her no and wait as another girl switches her places and inquires - a second time - grabbing two menus as she does, whether there would be "another" joining me this evening. "Just me" I repeat, now feeling a strange sense of shame burning slow inside of the pit of my stomach as I'm standing alone in semi formal attire, explaining myself to two young women who both appear equally baffled as to why I might come in, dressed up, to eat in a place like this alone. As if fresh pasta and good wine wasn't obvious enough motivation. But I decide that fact and reason in your twenties differs largely from the decade that precedes it. So I accept that I very well might have been perplexed by the same sight at the same age when even the idea of running random errands around town always seemed far more appealing with friends.

Once I am finally seated I settle into the familiar, mindless scroll on my phone, checking photos, Facebook, Email and Amazon arrivals before texting my friend to let her know I'll be over at the bar after dinner when I am greeted again by another young (attractive) women in a black bodysuit and red lipstick who inquires - for the third time - if I might be "waiting" for another party. "Nope, just me" I say masking my growing irritation by this repetitive correction for something so simple as a women in a silk blouse eating alone on a Saturday night during peak date night hour.

When I inquire about menu selections I am given a hurried, stripped down description of each so I choose the salmon with a glass of red wine scribbled in her notepad. I sit watching the food cooking behind a glass divider as the smell of baked ziti and white clam sauce stir up new hunger pains. My wine is delivered, followed by a plate of steaming hot salmon smothered in a thick garlic dressing atop a generous mound of pasta so I take a second to remind myself to slow down and enjoy it. To eat with ease and savor the meal. The kind of reminders I need every so often because of how quick I am to loose touch with such basic things after kids. When nearly every meal that lands in front of me I approach like some kind of timer is attached to it, with the intention to finish as fast as possible because a million other things are erupting around me as I do. That and the bitter fact of having to "share" anything in my proximity that is even remotely appealing to a table full of curious mouths where I am typically left with the shredded aftermath of whatever it is their preferences resist. And someone is always in need of more milk, less veggies, cheese scraped, and crust trimmed.

When I finish my food I sit wondering why no one asks if I might want a second glass of wine, or desert. I don't. But know it to be the standard script of any server caring for any table, especially if they need an easy way to hike the bill. When my check is dropped off I slide my card into the slot and hand it off, watching as two men enter. One heads straight to the bar and the other to a corner booth lit by one dim candle. Handsome men in dark suits who are greeted instantly with quick smiles and perked interest by the same girls who disregarded me upon entrance, holding menus touting evening's specials. A wine list is handed off with some enthusiastic suggestions accompanying the options.

A couple minutes later I watch as warm bread baskets are delivered to them individually to enjoy before their meal. Something I hadn't even remembered as being routine to this place even though the fresh chunk of sourdough is always my favorite part. I see this and realize somehow - as hungry as I was - that I led it slide.

For the first time in my life I, after brief debate, I scrawl a zero circled with a dramatic slash through the center of it on the tip line where my gracious thanks in dollars would typically go. I sign my name and walk out. Noting the gross difference with the dining experience of these two men, dressed to the nines, solo, confident, and naturally expecting bread and booze, compared to mine wherein the matter of 45 minutes I am made to feel at all once: pitied, neglected, dismissed in my decision to eat there, and to some degree, maybe even a little guilty for being dressed up for my lone dinner date, for taking up a prime table while a room full of couples start to line the lobby, and inquiring about wine in hopes of receiving some valued insight. And of course, for feeling equally deserving of that damn bread basket.

I try to write it off as a rare and unfortunate experience but then the same thing happens again a few days later. Heading to meet a friend for Mexican food I end up alone when she cancels on my way there.

Out on the patio I am seated in the least desirable spot on site, and asked with slight concern by another young server in a ponytail if I am waiting on another. I tell her no. That it's just me, and sit in the bright sting of a noon day sun with an ice tea in need of refilling and a salad too big to finish on my own. Resenting how something so silly as a table for one gives reason for pause when the fact is, the older I get the more I enjoy time out on my own. Places I use to only visit with company becoming spaces I can be still and silent when I want to be. Unaffected by having to entertain the thread of conversation. Wandering happily around a flea market at sunrise, sitting in a movie theater mid week late night just because, a hotel bar in the city, a museum, coffee shop and, only recently, an airplane. Places I use to save to share with others existing as places I cherish alone. A benefit that arrives I suppose with age and confidence coming as trade for some of the other sacrifices it demands in return.

Which is to say, to the young ladies out there waiting tables and counting hard earned cash at the end of the night - I want you to know that I use to be you. I spent my weekends plenty of years running around catering to the sick oddities that are American dining. Begrudging the stupid fact of trite modifications that forced me to smile through violent emotions cutting circles in my head while being talked down to and insulted by careless people. I scrubbed piles of filthy dishes, scrapped gum from beneath table tops, filled ketchup bottles to the brim and married condiments and restocked bathroom goods long past mid night on weekends when all sorts of exciting things were happening elsewhere. I was there in the trenches, poor and miserable in the clenches of minimum wage, with aching feet dreaming of better place up ahead. Where I guess now I've arrived. But know that it's just as loud, and messy, and demanding, and exhausting as it was before. Just in different ways. So when you see me come in wearing silk, with tired eyes and in need of wine, do me the favor and try not to pity, judge or dismiss me in my request for my table for one. Don't disregard the prospects of my tip or give me the bad table in the sun, or withhold the offer for desert. Because I'm sitting here at your table on a break from other side just like you on the 11:00 hour, when the lights go out, the doors are locked and you get to put the stress of a long hard day behind you for a bit. Until tomorrow, when we both have to wake up and get back to it all over again.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Art of Personal Style. Part 2 / Embracing Simple Pleasures

As a young couple - long before the boys - one of the first things we bought together was a beat up old RV to spend our summers living in. A 1974 Ford Mike scored for $500 bucks, gutted, sprayed turquoise and white in a makeshift spray booth at his parents house, lined with wood and thatching and the floor with green turf complete with a golf putting hole. It was kitschy, cozy, and undeniably fun. The ideal boon for a group of twenty something surfers with meaningless jobs to hole up in, get drunk and hang around in all season long.

Ultimately it became kind of a defining space for that period in our lives, attached to so many cherished memories from carefree days where time seemed to stretch out, unroll, and linger a lot longer than it would ever again. We drove it to friend's weddings, deep into remote surf spots in Mexico, and all the way up the coast, even when the mechanics of it seemed downright shaky to fully depend on. Back then though we had nowhere to be, no one to feed, and very little concern other than where we were headed next, and what was planned for dinner that night.

Somewhere along the way it broke down and ended up rusting atop a friend's home for a few years when we let it go.

After Leon was born however we realized how much we missed having this as a weekend escape. With two little ones an all day beach trip is always verging on "overwhelming" simply due to the fact of having no shade break or place to nap when naps suddenly become detrimental to your lifestyle. So once again Mike found another, slightly bigger RV, for $500. Formally owned by my friend's grandparents and chalk full of decades worth of family memories before us.

The renovation this time around went pretty much the same. Unstressed and under budget. Eight years ago there wasn't much social media to use or compare by way of inspiration, so we basically pulled together things we liked and could afford, and didn't second guess a single one of them. Sometimes I miss that kind of freedom. Because I think had we started it today it might look a whole lot different. More polished, on "trend," carefully curated, and likely sparse by design. It's just the the nature of the beast now days with so many ideals out there to echo. And yet the fact that it is such a unique and unthought space, filled with so many personal touches makes me love it that much more. Surrounded by corners that reflect our love of the sea, shark teeth hung above the stove, rusted hooks in the bathroom crowded with various sized wet suits, sand packed seat cushions, sun flaked stickers on the windows that tell stories all their own. Worn denim textiles covering specific points of wear. Brown shredding curtains bleached from years of brutal sun light. Hand painted art by friends, and a treasured (original) Dylan poster Mike bought me on my 24th birthday way back when, now faded and sun tinged like everything else inside.

The hard wood floors we used out of convenience, left over from a family's home remodel. And of course loads of bamboo, wood planks, outdoor materiel for seating, sea green paint on the exterior, and a thatched roofing that seemed the perfect touch considering Mike's natural tendency towards anything obscenely "Hawaiian." Along with the wood carved Tikis I resisted in the beginning but eventually came to adore too because they seemed to possess the same quirky, humble vibe the rest of interior embraced wholeheartedly.

Through the years it's become a second home to us. Even when so many of the other old cars and buses and trailers were traded or sold, this one remained a permanent fixture in our lives. Where a gleaming portion of their childhood will be forever secured in the memories born in this space.

Where we come to soak up our time together in bare limbs and bare feet, keeping time with the ocean's tide.

A place where I don't feel pressured to over think or over stock anything. Our meals we try to keep as simple as possible, fresh fruit, sandwiches, cheese and meat. And our entertainment is usually just what surrounds us. Bamboo huts and sand banks for jumping. We do pack some basic sand toys, a rubber ball to support their current obsession with flipping, sometimes art tools, and always: music, beer, blankets and friends. Of all the places I've been, in all my years before and after children, there's nothing that seems to fulfill me the same way this old RV parked on our favorite beach does.

Which is to say - as cliche as a now beaten sentiment can sound these days - simple pleasures aren't ever to be overlooked. Even with a big family. Even when it's an afternoon outing as opposed to a week long get away. Money doesn't build memories and exotic vacations don't outweigh the easy good times. Kids don't care if they're wearing designer clothes, or riding around in luxury cars, or resting on name brand furniture, or atop fancy foreign shores. Sometimes it's the plain fact of warm sunshine and ready affection that's all any one of even need. And it's something that's as easy to remember as it is to forget.