Joy, biking and giving thanks

Pure joy. Please don’t forget the feeling you had when you taught yourself to ride your bike. You were bored. I was cleaning the Community Room the day after the big Flea Market. Daddy was loading the car for a run to Goodwill with the unsold items. There were a few bikes and you got on a small one with training wheels. It was too easy for you. So you wandered over to a small Spiderman bike picked it up and sat on it. You peddled. You put your foot down. You peddled again. You put your foot down. Then you peddled and peddled before your foot went down. I pretended not to notice you working so hard to find your balance. I continued to break down the garment racks while inside I swelled with pride and tried not to get too excited about your new interest in riding. For years I had pestered you to learn to ride. I tried to make it exciting. I tried peer pressure. I even deployed a little Jewish guilt. Not even bribing you with trips to your favorite arcade worked (of course, once you learned to ride you reminded me of my promise!).

I knew there would be a day when you would learn to ride and it was going to be on your terms. You gave up your pacifier on your own. You learned to walk on your own. And now, you’ve learned to ride your bike on your own.

I cherish this video of you. The look of pride and relief and pure joy is priceless. It’s so rare to feel and even more rare to capture.

Yesterday, you rode with your Pop Pop at Sea Ranch. You’re more confident and strong and you’ve only ridden three times. It was only a few months ago when you were terrified to get on a bike. “I’m fine on my scooter,” you claimed. You were afraid you’d fall and get hurt on a bike. Pointing out it couldn’t be worse than the epic fall you had at Big Sur on the Pacific Primary Alumni Camping Trip where you went too fast on the scooter and ended up going tush over tea kettle down the hill by the campsite didn’t work. But it’s behind you now and you’ve conquered your fear.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for you – how you’ve grown into a special young man with a mind of his own and the character and wisdom to take on challenges when you’re ready. You’re not afraid of what people think about you. It’s precious you still want to snuggle, at home AND in public, and you still enjoy hanging out with us more than anything else.

I love you.


(And when you look back, you’ll see a long time without a post. That’s because I was totally overwhelmed. Oh, and the site was hacked by a bunch of jerks and it took forever to remove everything to get the site back up and running. When I got it working again – I think I felt a bit of that joy you felt when you rode your bike!)

Be yourself


Mr. Pie.

You are a confident little guy and I believe you will mature into a confident young man. But sometimes there will be periods of confusion and self-doubt. These can be hard times. It will be easy to become overwhelmed by these thoughts as they creep through your brain, finding places to take root.

As someone who likes to be challenged and master new things, I often find myself in situations where I am uncomfortable. I intentionally undertake these opportunities as I know for me, only experience will help to conquer my fears.

  • I am afraid of heights so Daddy and I decided to go skydiving.
  • I was terrified of writing and speaking for an audience because I believed other people had more interesting things to say so I started speaking at conferences and writing monthly columns for a magazine.
  • I wanted to take my career in a different direction so applied for positions outside of my direct experience and somehow convinced people I could do them.
  • I really don’t like conflict — I feel so much better when people are happy and working together. But sometimes, conflict is an important part of the healing process. So, knowing I could help, I decided to jump right in the middle of a high-conflict, high-emotional situation and lead your school’s PTA through a difficult transition.

All these examples have been extremely tough times plagued by self-doubt, uncertainty and fear. My inner voice screamed, “You can’t do this! You’re crazy. Stop this insanity and go back to what you know.” But in my mind, I knew I couldn’t give into that little voice. I COULD do it.

It was hard. Really hard. But I was determined to power through and achieve my goal. I worked and worked. If I failed along the way (and yes, there were failures), it was a learning experience that made me stronger and better equipped to be successful later.

Pop Pop gave me this advice, “Be confident and be yourself. No one else has that asset.” It’s simple and it’s true.

Walker, be confident and be yourself. You are unique and wonderful. You are not meant to get everything you want and you have to work hard for the things you achieve. Don’t define yourself by what you don’t have. Don’t settle for staying in the safe place. Take risks. Challenge yourself. Strive to move forward, to learn, and to enjoy the journey.

I’m grateful to have you as my source of inspiration and perspective. Life is so much more meaningful with you as a part of our little family.

Happy Thanksgiving my little man.

Love, Mommy

Growing Up

Kindergarten. DONE.

First tooth. GONE.

Little Ninjas. GRADUATED.

Reading. YUP.


I can’t ignore it, my little Walker-Pie is growing up and it feels like he’s going to be heading off to college in no time (although I do wish he’d wait or he will be Community College bound…)

This year has flown by. Walker had an amazing year at Lakeshore and I’m so impressed by his teacher, Ms. Lafferty. She made it incredibly fun to learn and I didn’t realize it but Walker was basically ready to read when he finished school. We bought some beginner books at Costco and I was shocked when Walker started reading them to me. Now we just need to get confident with it so Walker must read a bit to me before I read to him each night.

Walker was having gummies for a snack before swimming the last week of school. He bit into it and exactly two weeks later, out came the bottom left tooth to be collected by The Rat who exchanged it for a really nice, one-time deposit. The rest of his teeth will exchanged  in line with market rates.

One reason for the long gap in the blogs has been because life has been, well, insanely crazy since of February. We went sledding in Tahoe, I travelled to Berlin, we went on a cruise with the family for Gigi’s 90th birthday (blog to come), we went camping with Pacific Primary friends, I inadvertently got elected PTA President, I planned all the summer activities (boy, I’m an advocate year-round schooling), I coached soccer (go Black Leopards!), we got a kitten, migrated two domains (sites and emails), vacationed at Joshua Tree (never thought I’d say I had a great time in 109 degree weather!), and started planning a Secret Agent birthday party. So while I’ve been up super late nights and up early in the morning, I haven’t had the energy to collect my thoughts and chronicle Little Pie’s activities.

So, we got this kitten. Her name is Toodles and we got her for two reasons. Raow needed a friend so she would stop attacking my legs when I walked down the hall. We also wanted to get a cat who would cuddle and purr with Walker so he wouldn’t think all cats were so…independent shall we say. Toodles came from the SF SPCA and was the favorite of the entire staff. As we had adopted a cat from there with “behavior issues,” they were fantastic in helping us find a friend who would compliment her. SUCCESS! The first few days were touch an go. Thirteen-pound Raow would follow around the five-pound kitten and look at her imploringly to play. Luckily Toodles warmed up to Raow and the two of them tousle and wrestle from 4:30am through 11pm. I know this because they team up at 4am to get fed. If I don’t do their bidding, Toodles jumps up into Walker’s loft bed and looks for fingers or toes to snack on until I shoo them out of the room and barricade the door. I sleep next to the Little Man, hoping to make it to 6am but alas, by 5am, the two cats have teamed up to push the door open using Raow’s considerable weight. Every morning it’s the same routine so I’m currently researching timed feeders.

Poor Walker was heavily scheduled this Spring. He had swimming, baseball and soccer (we put Little Ninja’s on hiatus). There were days when we had a soccer game, a baseball game, and a birthday party which were all enjoyed to the fullest. Much to my dismay, Walker was full of energy at the end of the day while Larry and I were catatonic. Walker had a good time playing baseball with our neighbor Dylan and phenomenal Coach John. However, we did spend much of the time reminding him to stand up and not make dust piles. Soccer was a bit more engaging, primarily because he was running the entire time but also because he was very proud to have me and Larry coach the team. I organized two teams for Lakeshore kindergarten and we ended up playing each other most of the season (we accidentally registered in the level with the first graders and I swear, that year makes such a difference both from a physical perspective as well as from a sportsmanship perspective — our kids were great and the opposing kids were talking SMACK!). I never fancied myself a coach but I think I pulled it off. The kids learned a bit, the parents were super happy, and I didn’t break anything. It was special helping Catalina gain the confidence to get in there and kick the ball (our first game I ran with her, holding her hand until she overcame her fear) and seeing Finley kick a soccer ball more than half way across the field. I loved watching Walker gain ball handling skills, help his teammates, charge the ball when goal keeping, and deepen relationships with his friends.

While on hiatus, he didn’t forget his Little Ninja skills. A young boy in his class started harassing Walker’s friend. Walker had been taught how to handle a bully so he walked right up to the boy and yelled, “Stop! He doesn’t like that. Or I will tell a teacher!” and the little boy replied, “Fine! Now I will bully YOU!” Unphased, Walker looks at the boy and yells, “NO, you WON’T!” and turned on his heel and walked away. I emailed this story to his instructors who rewarded him the “bully” badge and graduated him to regular Ninja training upon his return.

We did our first two-family vacation with kids. It was AWESOME! Lelio is Walker’s best friend and we’ve gotten very friendly with his parents Ranu and Mike. Lelio is a triplet so when we combine the families, we have a small army. We rented a house in Joshua Tree and were greeted with an unseasonably warm (109 degrees) few days. We attempted a short hike one morning but didn’t make it more than a third of the way before everyone became a bit unraveled and we doubled back before it got really ugly. (It was only 11:15am and it was over 100 degrees by the time we returned to the cars.) Walker has been pleading to have Lelio over for a sleepover. One bedroom had two twins and a queen bed so the kids claimed that room. Walker slept with the triplets but in the middle of the night, I hear a faint call… “Mommy…” I head to the bedroom and as my eyes adjust, I count three children. Mine seems to be missing. Beginning to panic, I turn and find him standing behind me. We get into the big bed and I awake the next morning in a room surrounded by small people who wake up very early because they want to do nothing else but bolt out of bed and play with their friends. We had a fantastic time learning about desert wildlife, watching bats, swimming in the pool and driving long distances. Looking forward to doing it again.

I find it difficult to believe my Little Guy is no longer able to count his age on one hand (although my geeky friends point out if he learns binary code, he will be able to do so for his entire life — I love living in a tech bubble). He wanted a Secret Agent birthday so Larry and I planned an event with an obstacle course, a jumpy house, and a scavenger hunt. The kids had a fantastic time wearing their fake mustaches, finding the “lost” agents, and eating “bomb” cakes. It “frained” during the party (the first non-sunny party since he was BORN) which made the party even more of a success as little boys LOVE to splash, get their socks wet, and whip the extra ice at each other. The kids were dry and clean when they arrived and were wet, filthy, and jagged on sugar when they left. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Walker-Pie. You told Daddy last night you appreciated how hard I worked on the party. Thank you, Mr. Man.  You opened your presents tonight and said, “Exactly what I WANTED!” Thank you, Mr. Man. You fell asleep nestled up close while I scratched your back and you said, “Keep doing that Mommy, it feels nice.” You got it, Mr. Man.

Happy Birthday Walker.

I hope there’s a part of you that NEVER grows up. Keep your joy, your curiosity, your creativity, your love. Don’t let anyone take that away from you — even when I start to vibrate because there are just too many LEGOs, stuffies, boxes with toilet paper tubes taped to the sides, juice cups from how many days ago?, and cheap crap from the Dollar Store strewn across the floor.

Big hugs.


Time Vortex

Is it possible it’s been more than six months since I posted? I’ve had “write blog” on every To Do list I’ve created and it’s finally haunted me enough to sit down and take action. I will purge my guilt here in a lengthy post but if you only have a few moments, here is an executive summary:

  • Walker turned five and had a fantastic superhero party in which I stayed up until four in the morning creating two dozen pink and blue capes for the kids to decorate.
  • Walker has glasses that make him look, oh so dapper and studious. He loves them because it’s like he gets to wear “gear” everyday. We got him a little grass fedora hat at his favorite event, the Marin County Fair which really completes his look.
  • We had a tree in the back fall into the neighbor’s yard and then had to have two others removed. Then, when Larry went to Comic Con I got a bee in my bonnet about removing the retaining wall and the dirt in the back. I posted free paving stones on Craigslist and within two hours, they were all gone. The dirt is still there, mocking me.
  • The Pacific Primary graduation was fantastic and surprising no one, Walker OWNED his time in the spotlight by sauntering through the arc to receive his plant (all the other kids ran).
  • Two days later Walker started kindergarten and received a “Lakeshore Star” the first day of school for helping another student who was sad.
  • I lost 20 pounds. My strategy: 1) have an autoimmune disease 2) ignore it until it’s a problem and then treat yourself using sketchy information from the InterWebs 3) go to the doctor but it’s too late so you contract complications that might as well have been some sort of horrible Harry Potter-esque curse. I don’t recommend this approach to anyone faint of heart but I do look mahvelous.
  • Little Man had decided that although it’s lonely, he’s no longer too scared to sleep all by himself in his big loft bed he’s outfitted to look like the Avengers Helicarrier
  • Walker started Little Ninja classes and has broken multiple boards with his hands and feet as well as participating in his first competition (he took home an enormous second place trophy).
  • I love the creativity but we simply don’t have enough room (and I’m too much of a pushover to bring a bulldozer into the house). Walker has filled the house with partially cut boxes he’s used to create elaborate robot costumes, computers, spaceships or games.
  • Hanukkah lasted the regulation eight days this year and Walker light the candles each night and memorize the prayer BUT we did give him a Santa suit on the last night. I’m sure he will mull over that memory when he gets older.

Now, you may ignore the rest unless you’re really trying to avoid work. There are photos and a video which are worth a peek so I won’t feel wounded if you decide to simply scroll to the good parts.


A long overdue note to Mr. Walker Young…

Mr. Pie. I was right. You turned five and changed from a my little baby to my little boy. But I am not sad as I thought I would be. And I shouldn’t be surprised. You make life an exciting adventure — I’m just along for the ride.

You have become a strong and independent personality equipped with the ability and confidence to let us know EXACTLY what you’re thinking. You went to the doctor and found out you needed glasses. You were so excited to be able to wear “gear” that you wanted them immediately. You could hardly wait the week to have them delivered. And, every single day since then, you have taken responsibility for your glasses, kept them safe, and have worn them with pride. Your first day of kindergarten seemed like a non-event to you while Daddy and I had to hold back tears as we walked you from the play yard to your new classroom with your own little chair. Of course, you had already made a few friends within the first fifteen minutes.

You have no problem telling Daddy and I when we’ve upset or disappointed you in some way. Your clarity, self-awareness, and ability to communicate the indiscretion is impressive. Sometimes you will even put some distance between the situation and the discussion, waiting a day or two before telling us how you felt. How I wish I had your maturity in similar situations.

All of this is on my mind because the last few months have been pretty rough. When you grow up and you read this, you may have a hazy memory of when Mommy was sick. All of a sudden, I couldn’t play with you, take you to Ninja class or crawl up into your bunk bed to read you bedtime stories. I had a hard time walking and there were some days, I simply couldn’t get out of bed. But you were my stoic Little Man. You brought me snacks, gave me lots of hugs and never got upset even though I know there was some part of you that was pretty scared. You became a bit more independent during that time — deciding you could sleep, dress and brush your teeth by yourself. (Thankfully, you still enjoy frequent snuggles and falling asleep with your hands on my cheeks.)

A few months later and twenty pounds lighter, I’m feeling much better and there are few words to express my gratitude.

You’ve been doing incredibly well in school and have made friends with so many wonderful children. You’re starting to read and we really are enjoying experiencing the process. It’s so fun to hear you sound out words (“N…E…T…F…L…I…X” as you start up the app on the iPad to watch PowerRangers) and guess the spelling of words. I’m saving much of your early writing including the “STR WRS” comic book you made Daddy for Christmas (you really don’t like vowels right now).

You’re now old enough to really be competitive (which, I admit, you come by honestly). I don’t believe we’ve ever played a game by the written rules. You combine your desire to win with your creativity and establish elaborate rules that become so convoluted and difficult to follow that I often forget what we’re playing. And our hallway has become your own personal Colosseum. Our photos, the paint and poor Raow are worse for wear given your increased strength but lack of finesse when playing whatever ball game you’ve created. You also started your Little Ninja classes and experienced your first competition. You ran fast, stacked pads and balance kicked your way to second place (out of three participants) but you couldn’t be more proud of your enormous trophy.

You often act older than your years and show a self-awareness I wish I possessed. When Gigi came to visit you astonished us when we were taking her to the airport after a full day of Little Ninjas, gingerbread house building and your first steak dinner, by asking, “Does Gigi have her suitcase? I didn’t see her put it in the car and I don’t want her to forget it.” A few days later, you were demonstrating to our neighbor how if a stranger is near, you run away and yell “STRANGER! STRANGER! STRANGER!” but you ran and whispered it. When Daddy asked you why you weren’t yelling you replied matter-of-factly (and a bit surprised at why he was asking…), “But I don’t want anyone to think I’m in trouble.”

You have a big heart and I love your sensitivity. Your emotions are so pure and genuine. When your friends are sad, you’re the first one there to help. You make cozy homes and warm beds for your stuffies and have so many favorites, there’s very little room left for you in your bed. You’re always making something for me, Daddy or one of your friends. And you are very proud to have given Noah a bunch of your clothes (and you’re even starting to warm up to the idea of giving away some of your old toys!) You’ve also begun to show a interest in what you wear (other than costumes). When shopping for your winter coat, you spied a pinstripe suit with a brown oxford, vest and tie. You begged us to wear it to school but we told you not until after Thanksgiving. You put it on the first day back because you wanted your friend Athena to see you in it. She thought it was a very nice suit.

Christmas started soon after Halloween and we practically had to force Thanksgiving upon you. Gigi came out to celebrate with us and we made a Pumpkin Turkey centerpiece with feathers of gratefulness. You were most grateful for Santa Claus. Family and friends made it to the list after a bit of prodding. I told you we couldn’t make the foam gingerbread house until after Thanksgiving. The minute we returned from the meal, you asked if we could build it. We even got your photo with Santa before Thanksgiving. We went to get you a new backpack and Santa had just gotten set up for the season. Despite being dressed in your pirate gear (sweater, hat, and sword), you sat on Santa’s lap and told him about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nunchucks and the Switch and Go Dino that you couldn’t live without. I am not complaining because your enthusiasm has made the season so much fun. You picked out great toys to donate at the fire station, we made many batches of Christmas goodies and decorations, and you experienced your first Caroling (although you enjoyed ringing the doorbell and running away more than staying to sing). Lucky you, you get two holidays.

You have always loved Hanukkah — this year we kept it to eight days but you lit the candles every night and you memorized the prayer in just a few days. (You seemed to like knowing another language so much that you asked Daddy how to say “Goodbye” in Hanukkah.) One day, when you’re confused about your beliefs, you can tell your friends that you come by it honestly because your parents sent you mixed messages by giving you a Santa costume for the last day of Hanukkah. But you may be OK given your current favorite book is “Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama,” so I guess I have little to worry about.

I am grateful for how close you are with your Daddy. You two have so much fun after he picks you up from school — although I’m not sure where to put all the boxes. You’ve impressed us with your ability to build anything out of paper and cardboard — a robot costume, wrist communicators, Hawkeye’s bow and arrow, and even a foozball table. You can play with this stuff for hours and proudly wear it around the neighborhood (you’d wear it to the store but we convinced you it’s too hard to buckle you into your carseat in a box robot costume). You started the trend by making the most incredible rock and roll costume out of paper to mimic the guy on Dance Dance Revolution and then made Batman and Flash costumes for your Angry Bird stuffy while I made my Halloween capes.

As I write this and think about how big and mature you’re getting, I’m reminded that you’re still my little boy, sleeping next to me in your Woody jammies, snoring, with your head on my shoulder. Your fingers are entwined in the ears of Dirty Bunny and Blue Eared Bunny (poor Clean Bunny is no longer favored because he’s, well, too clean).

Bye Bye Baby. Walker’s Turning Five.

This little guy is going to be five in just a few short days. I really can’t believe it. He’s grown up so much in the last year and I realize this birthday is as big a milestone (aka emotionally crippling) as when he got his first tooth and stopped breastfeeding. Other milestones were easier as they represented a liberation of sorts — turning one meant no more worry about SIDS or counting age by months, potty training alleviated the guilt of filling the landfill with poopie diapers, and talking helped expose what was going on in his little brain to the world. But to me, the other milestones represent loss, the loss of some element of babyness.

On Sunday, my Little Man will be just that. Four is a baby. Five is a boy. I’m sure it’s different for everyone but it’s clear to me. I can actually see us approaching the finish line for the first leg of the race.

There’s a maturity he’s acquired in his mannerisms as well as his appearance. He’s a wisp of a boy with well-defined muscles. Not an ounce of baby fat on him despite his less-than-optimal diet. He’s articulate, loves to tell stories, has an extensive vocabulary, and surprises us by correctly using sophisticated phrases he’s overheard. He runs like the Flash, leaving behind the odd gait he had as a Toddler.

Five is a transition point. In August, he’ll be heading out to kindergarten — starting the journey through set curriculum, letter grades, standardized testing, academic pressure (hopefully not from his parents), and the associated social chaos. He’ll be in a classroom with one teacher who will not be there to police the interactions between the kids. At five he will be responsible for building meaningful relationships and solving conflicts — mostly on his own. Larry and I won’t get detailed reports on his day-to-day activities from his three teachers or other school staff. It will be up to him to tell us about the things that make him happy, sad, excited, and nervous.

The beautiful bubble surrounding my sweet little baby has slowly grown thin and is about to pop. We’ve given him everything we can to prepare him. I see him testing out his wings — taking tentative steps close to the edge. He’s ready. He’s more than ready. I’m not. But I’ve learned to trust him and his instincts. So, we’ll follow each other into this new and exciting time of his life.

After Sunday, I’ll savor the full body snuggle sessions he enjoys for as long as he wants to have them.

And, despite my claim that there will be no more Walker-babyness left after Sunday, I’m sure I’ll retract that sentiment when he looses his first baby tooth (which is hopefully waaaay in the future and will be well-documented here so stay tuned…)

Thank you for bearing with me as I cope with the upcoming birthday. Now please enjoy this video of Ninja Walker breaking a board with his hand at a friend’s birthday party.

Happy Mother’s Day


Friday Walker and I were headed to the bank and we passed your building. “Don’t forget to say hi to your Mommy!” Walker reminded me as we drove by.


The Little Pie has gotten so much bigger and more mature. He’s got a real little boy body (skin and bones with impressively developed muscles) and a little boy personality. He loves the Power Rangers and all the Superheroes but to my dismay, he prefers the Marvel guys over those of DC. He will display his boyness by telling me how he is going to punch someone in the face or cut their head off while only moments later, he demonstrates his mushy center by finding boxes to lovingly make comfy beds for his favorite stuffies.

I’ll admit I had my doubts about being a mom to a boy. I figured it would be like learning a foreign language without any instruction. I thought all boys were the same — crazy-full of energy and testosterone, mud-loving devils destined to destroy your house, your willpower and your peace of mind. I thought about all the quiet times you and I had together, snuggling up in bed and warming feet under the covers and figured it was never to be.

I’m sure you know how silly this all sounds now. Kids are all different and it’s not fair for me to have even considered gender-profiling. Walker is kind and balanced and (relatively) quiet and snuggly and thoughtful. He is the perfect combination of me and Larry and has managed to transform our house into something so much more than I ever thought possible.

Our kitty, Raow, would not be what you call an affectionate cat. In fact, she bites. But despite the fact that Walker spends a great deal of time yelling “No RAOW!” because she’s after his food or wants to play with his toys or is hunting his cute little feet, he loves her with all his heart and is so thrilled when they are both peaceful enough for a short pet or a quick kiss.

My mother’s day was fantastic. Walker has been sleeping in his big boy bed (which he named Fort Hideout) all by himself. He’s so proud that he can sleep in the loft under his tent of stars all night. But last night, he requested to sleep with me for Mother’s Day. It was THE BEST present. The two of us curled up in the twin bed and he put his feet between my legs as I used to do with you. His head rested on my arm and we both drifted off. In the middle of the night, Walker woke up, rolled over and gave me a great big hug. Cheek to cheek he whispered, “Hey Mommy. I love you.” And we drifted off again.

The snuggles didn’t come without some drama. I fell off my bike twice this week. Twice. On the same day. In the same intersection. Yes, I am still coordinated. It wasn’t my fault. Really. I’ll be safe, I promise. Anyway, I have skinned and bruised knees. And for some reason, Walker seems to kick them or sit on them. A LOT. I know you had your down times but I don’t remember it getting to you. So I wince, I may let out a bit of an “OW!” but I power on, sitting criss cross applesauce (or close to it) on the floor or crawl to into Fort Hideout for stories.

This morning I was treated to a wonderful surprise of presents, breakfast in bed, and some additional snuggling accompanied by a few episodes of Walker’s favorite show MAX AND RUBY. We headed out to a birthday party and back for a nap. (We both slept snuggled up Mother’s Day style.) I built him a fort out of oversized Tinker Toys where he had his dinner and played on the computer. I will say, he is still very much a BOY as he decided glue his legs together with a bit of his snot. It was certainly a creative means to an end but we did promptly wipe it off.

Bath time came along and I made my third attempt at removing the “tiger stripes” he made all over his arms and legs with black and orange markers. That was three days ago. They had painted some stipes on him at school which we washed off. Before he was even dry, he grabbed his pens and started making his own stripes. “Don’t do it!” I said as he looked at me daring me to say something more. “Don’t do it or I’ll…” and then I thought, “I got nothin’ I’m willing to punish him with for this.” So I’m that mom who let her kid go to school with self-designed tiger stripes. I figure he should get it out of his system now before he wants to do something more permanent.

Walker was playing with his guys in the bath tonight when he requested I let down my “mommy hair” (he still has a strong preference for my hair in a pony tail) so he could brush it. After knotting it fairly well, he decided to wash it carefully with soap. He was not as careful about getting the soap OUT but I’ll give him a pass.

We are so proud of him. He is everything we could want in a child and I know he will continue to be our bright light. He makes us want to be the best people we possibly can. Larry and I have a parenting style that is different than many of our friends and family. There are people who don’t understand some of the decisions we’ve made or our approach to certain situations. But you taught me each family is different. I trust my intuition and we have the opportunity to tailor our parenting to Walker’s needs. On days like this I reflect on the past and present and I am 100% certain Walker is getting what he needs to grow into a confident, self-reliant, thoughtful and wise young man. You gave me the courage to do what I believe.

Thanks Mommy.

I love you.

Bring it on!

If you’ve been to our house, you may have noticed the pathetic state of our kitchen floors. We’ve been in Chateau Fromage going on 13 years. We didn’t redo the floor before we moved in so they are seriously looking their age and I must admit, we haven’t been as nice to them as we should have. We just walk all over them and they don’t complain. Imagine that!

But Larry and I were seriously depressed at the state of the floors. When we take photos of Walker in the kitchen I always cringe when I see them posted on Facebook as it makes our inattention so PUBLIC. I keep telling myself I’ll have the floors redone when we have our serious remodel – knock the wall out between the kitchen and living room, add living room lighting and get new windows – but it has always seemed so overwhelming (translates to expensive and time-consuming).

But, Larry had a work trip planned and I ALWAYS take on some home improvement project when he’s absent. I began to obsess about the floors and with each Facebook photo, I descended deeper into my personal shame. I considered laying laminate or tile flooring over the existing floor but that can warp if it gets wet (and Lord knows I’m not the most careful washing dishes when I’ve had some wine). I considered painting the floor but when we DO remodel, that would make it much more difficult to refinish. So a DIY bee flew in my bonnet and I started doing research on how to refinish wood floors. It wasn’t that expensive and I’m too ignorant to be intimidated by large power tools so it seemed like the best solution.

Late at night, I secretly read How To articles and hatched my plan.

I didn’t sleep more than four hours the night before Larry left because I was too excited about my secret mission. Larry left at 7am, I dropped Walker off at school and I made a beeline to Action Rentals. When I explained what I planned, they looked at me cockeyed but launched into step-by-step instructions for sanding and finishing the floors. They instructed me on the HUGE drum sander and edger and gave me a few helpful hints on how to avoid putting major divots into the floor. I stated what was to be my mantra – “I don’t care how it turns out. It can’t be any worse than what it looks like now.” With a smile, Ed loaded up my tiny little Scion XA with all the machines and materials, and asked me, “Do you have someone to help you get the sander up the stairs? It’s heavy.” I flippantly replied, “No problem! I’m not concerned.”

I drove home excited to begin. I unloaded the car and brought all the materials and the edger up the stairs. I dragged the drum sander out of the car and brought it through the garage. I got it up two stairs to the landing and motivated myself for the nine steep stairs. I lifted that sucker up one stair and determined I SHOULD be concerned. I’m being stubborn. I have to ask for help (note: this is a minor breakthrough for me). I texted Firefighter Ian, our neighbor who was the only person I confided in about the project. As he pulls people out of burning buildings for a living, I figured he could lift this behemoth up the stairs and he graciously complied. He’s quite handy and has done a considerable amount of work on his home so scoped out my project and offered some additional advice. He helped me move the kitchen table into the living room and then he said, “So, what are you going to do with the stove?” My plan for the floor was to leave the fridge where it was and sand around the stove since, you may recall, I considered this a temporary fix. I couldn’t help thinking about what Larry would say if he found out I disconnected the gas stove myself and then used big sanding equipment that throws off sparks when hitting nails (not that it did that for me..) I quietly admitted I was going to half-ass it and leave it alone. But Ian ignored me and started disconnecting the stove knowing I was being ridiculous. Within minutes, we had the appliance in the living room. I knew I’d be safe knowing a firefighter disconnected the gas.

The sanding was easy. It took longer to replace the belts on the drum. I only made a few gouges in the floor by leaving the high-speed drum sitting in one spot for too long and not once did the machine get away from me. I was terribly impressed with myself for unplugging the sander each time I changed the belt (a lesson I learned from Larry). The result: a beautifully sanded floor with about a foot of un-sanded area around the room. I took out the edger, put on the sandpaper disc and plugged it in. Unlike the drum sander, there were no safeguard measures. The damn thing was on and the power tool went sailing right into the kitchen cabinets. Instinctively I pulled the plug and then spent a few adrenaline-filled moments berating myself for not checking something so simple. I mean, I am a seasoned power tool user, right? (Um, no…) The rest of the process went smoothly although I got quite an upper body workout maneuvering that hand sander which was heavier and more powerful than it looked. There was surprisingly little dust thanks to the vacuums that automatically suck up sawdust as you sand. Firefighter Ian returned by 4:30 to put the sander in the car. Upon receipt of the rented tools, Ed said to me, “I wasn’t sure about you at first but you had such an air of confidence, I knew you’d be fine.” I’m wondering if he would be interested in posting that to my LinkedIn profile…

Walker thought having the raw floor was pretty cool and upon seeing the stove and table in the living room said, “Well, you don’t see that every day.” We made dinner and breakfast using the microwave and toaster then I took him to school. I rushed back home to apply a coat of sealer and then returned to Action Rentals for a new power tool – a 13’ buffer. I WAS NOT PREPARED for this thing. We’ve all seen the janitors calmly buffing floors with these tools – it looked so easy and Zen. I was sure I could manage it. The guys at Action were wiser. They strongly advised I practice on the showroom floor which was the first indication that I was in for more than I bargained for. The next clue was the series of buttons and brakes that must be worked in a specific order to make the thing function. I watched the guys use the tool and listened to them tell me to hold it up to go right and down to go left. Now, imagine a disc rotating at 60 miles an hour counterclockwise. The machine sitting atop this disc wants to go the direction of the spinning disc – QUICKLY. So when they say push up to go right, what they mean is, push up to make sure the machine doesn’t take off and end up embedded in the wall. “Start it in the middle of the room,” were their parting words of advice.

The buffer wasn’t terribly heavy and I got it up the stairs with some effort and only a few bruises.  I placed the buffer pad on the disc, plugged it in and positioned it in the middle of the room. I turned it on and held the handles the way it feels most intuitive – down. My buffer careened into the side of the wall at many miles per hour. “HOLD IT UP TO GO RIGHT!” I scream at myself as I inspected the wall (thankfully undamaged thanks to the rubber bumper thoughtfully installed around the machine). A few minor collisions later, I got the hang of it but I decided I WAS NOT going to overachieve and I would take that beast back. I had made my point. I conquered it but I was not going to master it.

I meticulously cleaned the floor of all debris with a broom, vacuum and then a rag soaked in mineral spirits. I applied the first coat of polyurethane and went to return the buffer and pick up Walker. He loved the floor and thought it was cool all our food was in a cooler in the hall. We made dinner (and breakfast) in the microwave, Panini maker, and toaster oven located at the end of the hall. Also, quite fun for a preschooler.

The clock was ticking. I wanted four coats of polyurethane with eight hours of dry time between them. I needed 48 hours to cure (and off-gas) before I could replace the oven and other items. So I found myself coating the floors around the clock including 11pm and 7am while Walker slumbered. I decided I wouldn’t be Type A about it and I skipped the hand sanding between coats, did a quick cleaning without the mineral spirits soaked rag, and despite the air bubbles, I would still use the lambswool mop contraption to apply the finish. “It can’t be any worse than it was,” continued to be my measure of success.  After the fourth coat, I could see random cat and Mimi hairs stuck in the finish as well as pockets of air bubbles but it looked great and I considered it a job well done. We headed to PopPop’s for the weekend while the floor dried and the floor off-gassed the smelly chemicals.

We got home and put the kitchen back together. Larry got home and was hugely surprised! In fact, he thought I had simply covered the floor with something rather than go through the sanding.

I learned:

  • I can use power tools.
  • I will not be a professional floor finisher.
  • I now need to replace my counter.


Walker’s Purple Crayon

This morning’s installation is visually impressive but hardly as controversial as Young’s earlier work, such as “Wall Dent, 2010” and “Blue and Green Marker Smudge on Bedroom Wall, 2009” while retaining the earlier, more unstudied works’ enthusiasm and unbridled charm. When asked for an artists’ statement, Young initially demurred, then added, “I deny my projects contain any deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact. The purpose of my effort is simply to create works of art or joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes.”

He then tied his shoes by himself.


This morning Walker woke up and immediately embarked on a project. He mumbled a quick “good morning” and made a beeline to his Expressive Arts bin (a repository of scissors, markers, glue, googley eyes, popsicle sticks and odds and ends for all creative endeavors). He picked out some blue masking tape, scissors and red ribbon. He sat on the floor in front of his door and cut a long bit of ribbon which he proceeded to segment into smaller pieces. Using the blue tape he placed a few on the wall.

“Mommy! Can you come here please? I need help. I’m making a beach.”

One of my favorite books is HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON and this seemed to be in the same vein. So, intrigued to see how this would play out, I sat next to him and I took the direction to cut the tape and help him put the ribbons on the wall so the ribbon would curl outward. Once the “wind” was complete, he started on the waves at the bottom using significantly longer pieces of tape.

Once his vision was realized, he sat down and watched an episode of POWER RANGERS. I think he deserved it.

The commentary above is the text Larry wrote and put in a frame on the wall above Walker’s work… I guess it’s fair to say both my boys are a touch creative.

To Do List

I make lists. I make A LOT of lists. Recently a friend of mine gave me a book called “My Listography” which allows me to create an autobiography in one of my most comfortable formats (however, if you read the prior post, you will remember that I’m challenged by anything relating to “favorites” lists).

My lists are everywhere and I categorize them in the standard ways — work, home, personal — but sometimes a special category is created like Christmas or Birthday. The items included on my lists will include the mundane (laundry, clean bathroom), projects (organize office, refinance house, get clients), and goals (figure out excercise plan, make Raow a snuggly kitty). I fluctuate between paper and digital lists depending on the type and length of list, where I’m doing my work, and my motivation for finding the perfect digital solution. While I’ve experimented with maintaining lists in Evernote, specialized iPhone apps, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People documents, and my mother’s favorite — the palm of my hand — my most frequently used format is on a small piece of paper. I will use a medium-sized post-it, allowing me to adhere it to the side of my monitor where it constantly reminds me of what I must do. When I run out of room on the current list, I’ll create a new post-it with the new items and carry over those incomplete tasks from the prior list. It’s truly a cycle with items coming on and off the list. (And I must admit, if I feel particularly oppressed by a list, I’m not above to crumpling it up and throwing it out.) I’ll know it will be time to cash it in when I no longer can think of something to put next to an empty check box.

Walker and Larry are familiar with my lists because they may be found stuck to the bottom of their shoes (one reason I am working on a permanent migration to digital list management) but more often, they are subjected to the tasks. Larry gets the “honey do” list and Walker hopes the list requires a visit to TARGET.

This week Larry and I both created our own lists (I consider Larry a List Apprentice as he understands the necessity of them but he has not yet embraced the power of the checkbox). Larry chose a 4 x 6 index card for his list and he filled up the entire thing. We discussed the list a few times at dinner and he has mentioned his feeling of accomplishment with each completed item.

Yesterday morning, Walker made his very first To Do list — I’m so proud!. He wanted to outline his expectations for this weekend’s activities. You can see it above. He took great care to itemize his list and draw the task in comic format. (Can you get any more proof that he’s a perfect intersection of me and Larry?) If you aren’t conversant in four-and-a-half year old communication, here is the translation:

  1. Go to TARGET (image: the Target logo)
  2. Sneak Nick Fury into school (image: Nick Fury’s face, complete with eye patch)
  3. Conservatory of Flowers (image: the Conservatory with plants in front of it. The black building to the left is the bathroom.)
  4. Painting upstairs (image: the painting he will make)
  5. Web and Money (image: his 2 dollar bills that Grammie Shirley gives him for special occasions… The plan is to use his Spiderman web to steal money which I can only assume will be used for Task 1, going to Target.)
  6. Cake and present (image: the cake and present we will be taking to baby Otto’s birthday)
  7. Play-doh shapes (image: Walker at his table making different shapes)
  8. Parachute into the Lava Mountain (image: Walker  with his big huge parachute)
  9. Mix orange paint on palette (image: it’s hard to tell without time-elapsed video but he drew the palette, put different colors in each circle, and then mixed them all together)
  10. Jumpy house at street fair (image: a castle jumpy house complete with the slide to go in and out littered with shoes and socks)
  11. Cotton candy (image: cotton candy of course)
  12. St. Patrick’s Day (image: Walker wearing his green hat and necklace to celebrate the day)

And, as you can see in the picture below, we can check one item off the list.

My Favorite Color

When Larry and I started dating, he would ask me things like, “What’s your favorite movie?” or “If you were stranded on an island, what CD would you bring?” or “Who would play you in the movie of your life?” These are all stumpers for me as are basic questions like, “What’s your favorite animal?” or “What’s your favorite food?” I’ve never thought much about any of these things and when I do, it always depends on what I’ve seen recently, whether it’s cold outside, or if I’m PMSing.

But a few weeks ago, I was driving Walker to school and we started talking about color and he asked the obvious question. “Mommy, what’s your favorite color?”

Stalling for time, I asked him what color he likes. His response was immediate, “Black because that is the color of Venom and the spider on Spider Man’s costume!”

He looked at me expectantly. I started to answer with my stock response (red) but, I wanted to honor his question and for the first time I put some thought into it. I don’t really own much that’s red. I have a computer bag I got for free and a scarf I bought. But that’s it. My purse is green and I have a matching green iPad cover. My green gloves match my travel cup. My new fancy jacket is green and grey. So, it would appear I’m drawn to the color green. Uncharacteristically, I put even MORE thought into why I have forsaken the color I thought was my favorite for a color I’ve thought was nice for walls but not much else. Yes, it’s the color of trees and gardens and life but that’s not it.

Then it dawned on me.

Walker’s eyes are green.

And driving through the lush greenness of Golden Gate Park on that sunny morning, I started to tear up. Then I remembered my mom’s eyes were also a shade of green. And then tears rolled down my face.

My voice trembling, I answered “Green. Green is my favorite color because it’s the color of your eyes and there’s nothing more beautiful in the world to me.”