Our $1.2 Million Dollar Ski House

Birk had such a fantastic time skiing in Tahoe with her daddy, that she wants to quit regular school, and go to ski school full time. She realizes that this requires a house in Tahoe.

She first asked daddy to buy her a ski house. He said, “Get good grades in school, get a really good job and you can buy a ski house.”

Later, our savvy seven year old called us to the computer, very excited. Unbeknownst to us, she had googled Squaw Ski House. She chose a very excellent and beautiful ski chalet for the nifty price of $1,200,000.00.

Birk was quiet for a long time after dinner. She asked me how to scan a picture that she had drawn. A few minutes later, she handed me a stack of papers advertising dogwalking…for $18.00. She put on her shoes and was ready to go post her flyers around the neighborhood.

Then she asked me, almost jumping up and down with merriment, how many dogs she would have to walk at $18.00 to afford her dream home.

You’ve got to love kids.  John informed her that it would take approximately 66, 667 dogs.  You’ve really got to love kids.


Piercing and the Modern Tween

Our family debate of late: piercings. Ruth, 10 going on 11, is ready to get her ears pierced. The dinner table discussions have sparked Birk’s interest, as well.

Daddy, who never wants his little girls to grow up, holds fast to his rule: you must be 40 years old to get your ear’s pierced (Come on, even I know that is just plain crazy).

The girls are smart. They argued the tattoo angle: Daddy, you have a tattoo, why can’t we just get our ears pierced?

They argued the DIY angle. Birk said: Daddy, I heard you can do it yourself at home with an ice cube, a safety pin and beer. The beer you pour on so there’s no infestation.

They argued their friends already have pierced ears angle. Daddy said: If your friends jump off a bridge, would you do it, too?

My girls finally settled and went to Claire’s to buy clip-on earrings. They had a new angle: freak daddy out. Brother John decided to join in on the fun.

The three children arrived home, making a grand and noisy entrance. There they were, full of smiles, pretending to be pierced with multiple sets of clip ons.

Daddy couldn’t take them all out of the will, could he?

(photo from ear-piercing.com)

A Nice, Cool Frosty One At Pippi’s

My youngest, Birk, kept asking me to go out to dinner at Pippi’s. Dumbfounded, I asked around about a new restaurant named, “Pippi’s.”

No one seemed to have heard of this fabulous, new restaurant, but they all wanted me to let them know where it was when I found it.

Months later, driving down the highway on vacation in Michigan, Birk shrieked, “Mom, there it is. There’s Pippi’s.”

I looked out the car window and there was Pippi, braids and all above the word “Wendy’s.”

Good News, Bad News

Here’s the bad news: I was in my garage this weekend, finally trying to put order in my abyss of chaos. The bins were willy nilly, and I needed to get the Christmas gear with the Christmas gear, the Halloween stuff with the Halloween stuff….well, you get the idea.

I decided that all of the luggage needed to be in one spot. Duffel bags that could be stuffed inside another duffel were stuffed. Suitcases that could be stored within one another were zipped and ordered like nesting dolls. I hefted our biggest family suitcase and could barely lift it.

What? I put in on the ground and unzipped it. My jaw dropped to the concrete. There, still neatly organized in my suitcase were clothes, bathing suits, belts, shoes, sunscreen, hat, etc.–I NEVER UNPACKED FROM MY FEBRUARY TRIP TO MEXICO! What? What?

So, the bad news is that my mental I.Q. is rapidly declining.

What’s the good news, you ask? There in the middle of all of that unpacked vacation stuff was FUJI!!!!!!

Yes, tattered, lonely Fuji was among the cargo. My daughter’s blanket is now back in her arms as she sleeps tonight.

Old Dog, New Tricks? In French?

So much in my life happens just because of where I’m standing at a particular moment. This particular moment was on a Friday night and, yes, I did have a glass of wine in my hand. I guess that could also be a factor.

It was a dinner party of very sophisticated and international friends. I was the least sophisticated and the least international. The others were laughing and discussing politics at a lively clip. Then, talk turned to the fabulous overseas travel they were planning over the summer.

I sighed. There were no overseas plans on my horizon. Then they all broke into the language of love. Yes, the majority of the group, I’d say 9 out of 12, all speak french. They were parlaying and vooing all over the place. Who knows what they were discussing, but it sounded romantic and adventurous.

My friend, the other anglophone across the table, looked me in the eye and asked me if I’d like to take French lessons with her. I said yes, in English. The night went on. We had an exotic dessert, kissed everyone 3 times on the cheek, and headed home.

The next morning, I was answering overdue e-mail, when I saw a message in my box titled, “French Lessons.” Uh oh.

I Doggone Did It












No longer is the question “To Dog or Not to Dog”. She is here, it’s a done deal, we are officially “with puppy”. The question I now ask myself as I lay my head to pillow is “What On Earth Was I Thinking Oh Dear God Am I Insane What Have I Done?!?!”

How did this happen? One day I was chatting up personable dogs tied outside of my various coffee haunts, admiring their charms and then off again with a wave to go about my day in whichever way I pleased. Now I’ve bound myself to this tiny creature whose peeing and pooping schedule must be considered before all else.

Can’t say I wasn’t warned. I mentioned I was seriously considering this move and people said “Don’t do it!” Now that it is done if I mention to someone that I have recently become the proud parent of a puppy the response is generally an “Oh no” with a sad shake of the head. Not the encouragement I’m going for. I do in fact need encouragement here. Although they are lessening, I have been experiencing what I believe to be panic attacks late at night while the family (and puppy) quietly sleep.

“What on earth possessed me?” I wonder. There was an Email with a video clip of this puppy who was already crate and potty trained. She looked like a tiny Bernese Mountain dog (which is a breed I adore) yet promising to remain the puppy size of said breed. Then there was the voice way back in my head reminding me that I did not want my kids confiding to their future therapists about how they were cruelly deprived of true canine friendship. There was my overly energetic, dog loving, youngest child who needs a positive focus. Finally, for the first time EVER my husband was, if not exactly enthusiastic, somehow unapposed to the idea. There were no more excuses.

It was almost as if I were under some kind of  spell. And I said yes. Yes! Yes, I will gladly take that tiny pup into my home with my two cats, two children and one husband and willingly rearrange my days and nights in order to accommodate her needs. There is no going back now so it’s time to suck it up and deal. Fortunately, like babies and small children, she is pretty darn cute for a time sucking, life altering nuisance. Hopefully, one day, the cats will agree and peace (or what passes for it in my house) will reign again. And I will be able to breathe evenly through the night.

Blankies, Lovies & Loss

Birk’s blanket, which for some reason she calls Fuji, is missing. There is not much left of this lovey, it is tattered, threadbare and torn–held together with clumsily stitched embroidery thread of every color.

Fuji was gifted to us with our first baby, John. My husband’s Godmother gave us this silky soft, 100 percent cotton, dry clean only (I kid you not) white baby blanket imported from Scotland. It covered John when he was a teeny babe in the bassinet and then went on to do the same for Ruth.

We snuggled baby Birk in it, too. Then something magical happened: for some strange reason that only young babies know, she chose that blankie as her special something. It had to go everywhere she went and has had it’s fair share of adventures already.

It’s best adventure was being left on a plane from Detroit to San Francisco. Our camera, also left on the plane, disappeared, but some kind soul recognized a good lovey when s/he saw it and put it aside. George beamed the hour drive back to the airport and returned with Fuji in his arms.

Now that Birk is 7, she doesn’t require Fuji to be present for every waking or sleeping moment. That is why, Fuji has wandered for long periods from time to time. Well, this time, Fuji may have wandered for good. We’ve turned the house inside out and upside down and searched everywhere we can think that’s possible. Fuji has disappeared.

Both mother and daughter are consumed by unexplained crying fits that come and go. It’s such a huge icon of her babyhood for both of us. There’s a sense of childhood passing and I’m afraid it’s really the beginning of her life and my life as big girls together.

The Seat of Death

There are weird terms and phrases I use with my children. We have our inside jokes that even Daddy can’t quite figure out. One of these is the phrase: seat of death.

I knew this phrase had joined our hall of fame when I asked Ruth to sit in the middle seat of the mini van and she howled, “Why do I always have to sit in the seat of death?”

When Birk brought home the kindergarten class teddy bear, named Humphrey, we had to take him everywhere we went. Photographs were required to document his weekend. On the way home from school, Birk said, “Mom, could you take a picture of Humphrey in the seat of death?”

John was running to the car and yelled, “Last one in gets the seat of death!”

The seat of death was named because we have an old Jeep Cherokee and the middle seat has no shoulder belt. I asked at the CHPD’s car seat inspection clinic, whether it was safer to have my son in the front seat or the middle back seat with just a lap belt. The officer advised me to put him in the front seat.

From there on, we called it the ‘seat of death.’

Unfortunately, with a family of 5, sometimes somebody must sit in the seat of death. The term has even carried over to the middle of the third row seat in our mini van. Even if you’re a guest, you may have to sit in the seat of death. Sorry, Humphrey, that’s how we roll.

Driving in the Dark

I remember a long time ago, when I was driving somewhere with my kids. 2 year old John said, “Mommy, we are driving in the dark.”

It never dawned on me, how much we didn’t drive around with the kids after sunset. Bedtime was as early as we could set it and there was rarely a reason to be out after dinner. We were a little bit like a reverse vampire family.

Last night we had our school auction in the city. The ladies got their nails done and tweaked their outfits. The men wore suits and we hit the town in a big way.

This year, a group of us begged our friends or parents to take our kids overnight, so that we can book a hotel room and enjoy a get-away.

Free of our normal parental constraints, we let loose and bid, chatted, cut rugs to the booming music and pretty much had to be kicked out at the bitter end.

Not ready to end our one night of freedom, the rumor spread that anyone still awake was heading to a speakeasy. A speak easy? What? Password?

Why not? It isn’t too often that we get to drive around in the dark. Sometimes the answer to deciding to stay up late is: because we can. So we speakeasied and then kept going to a local diner.

We ate onion rings and scrambled eggs and club sandwiches and slurped chocolate shakes. We chatted and laughed and taxi cabbed it back to our hotel at 4:30 in the morning. We were parents set free from our normal routine–we were finally out, driving around in the dark.

A Happy Spin on Life

Going to the gym is truly a luxury of time. It eats a hole in your day bigger than a donut and I’ve resisted the pressure to commit to exercise in my lifestyle.

I’m a curvier girl. I am not built for speed. Even my hair is very Roseanne Roseannadanna–it probably adds a good 5-8 pounds to the total on my scale. Thus said, I am now 40 and it was like the Forty Fairies descended upon me with their magic wands on my birthday and said you ate your birthday cake, now you will weigh, I mean pay.

My friend convinced me that spin class was the way to fight my need for Yummy Tummies and Spanx undergarments. I’m always up for something new, but I feared that this something just might kill me–or make me look like a big, out of shape fool.

I took beginner baby steps. I learned you could mostly cheat your way through spin class by adjusting the tension dial. I actually did sweat and ache and drink lots of water through a whole 6 months of classes. I smile and laugh a lot in class and probably don’t take it as seriously as some instructors might like.

Most spinners have their game faces on. They are sweaty and dead serious and you most definitely don’t want to get in their way. The favorite spin classes at the gym are crowded and you must get there early and angle your way in.

Today, at one of the most popular spin classes we had a substitute teacher. He was goofy, loud and ready to have fun–as well as work our behinds off. He was like the cheerleader of the spin instructors:

“Who wants to go faster? Say, I DO! Who wants to sprint? Say YeeeeeHaaaa! Now punch your fists in the air and whoop whoop!”

The serious spinners (SS) looked around, dubious. I was whooping, hollering and pumping my fists and laughing like I was at a comedy club. I had so much fun that I wished he taught every day. The SS looked around and finally at the end of the class all but the die harders were smiling and singing to the Police.

All I could think was that this man was an unconventional ray of sunshine in the torture land of exercise. He must be lots of fun to have as a friend–you know the kind of friend that says, “Let’s just take off for Disneyland this weekend!” Then you all go and have a great time.

I hope I can be a goofy ray of light to my friends. I love the happy spin on life.