Monday, April 29, 2013

I hate shopping.

Buying? Now that I'm great at.

Cars. Shoes. Gifts. I am a pretty savvy online shopper. Catalogs and Daily Candy are my friends. I've had my credit card number memorized for years. I can shop anywhere, anytime.

The only time and place I happily shop is while on vacation. I bought 17 pair of shoes on a trip to Italy. In my own defense, only 13 were for me. And six of those I still wear, almost a decade later.

I have so much respect for those of you who can spend all day shopping. I do a few hours here and there with Neeracha and my eyeballs are bruised. In fact, I'd rather she or Carolyn Rovner just pick out my clothes for me.

A few years ago I took Eldest Daughter and Thing 1 to THE MALL in search of spring and summer clothing for them. They love to shop: to browse the aisles, to try on pretty things, to accessorize, to debate the right shoes for the outfit, to try on more pretty things. I would rather have a Brazilian on sunburned skin.

But I went, because this is what Good Mothers do. I lasted three hours. They had a blast. We went to Abercrombie, where I said several times, "Even though you have beautiful legs, your father would kill me if I bought you shorts that short." We went to Pumpkin Patch, where each outfit was cuter than the next and where Eldest Daughter didn't even look at her size. We went to Claire's, where they both bought accessories with their own money. We went to Wet Seal, which has really cheap, trashy clothes that fortunately Eldest Daughter did not fit in. We went to Justice, which had some suitable things mixed in amongst the Britney-Spears-style-junk. And we went to Hollister.

I was exhausted when we came home. Fortunately our next door neighbors had invited us to dinner so I got a Baby Andrew fix and felt much better after that and a good burger.

Summer will soon turn to fall. And shopping season is here again. I'm bracing myself.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cousin Love - LA Style

Although it was improbable given the physical miles between us, I grew up very close to my first cousins on my father's side of the family. There are three of them. Youngest Cousin is four years my senior and has a wicked sense of humor likely gained from years of being pushed around by her opinionated, strong-willed siblings. Oldest Cousin and I share a love of sewing. Middle Cousin was in law school in Chicago while I was doing my undergrad in Madison, thus he become my safety net when drama arose.

I looked up to my cousins, much the way The Pinks look up to their Calabasas cousins.

The summer of my 16th year was when my cousins dressed me up for my first New York City bar hopping experience. During Thanksgiving of my 20th year two friends and I stayed in Youngest Cousin's apartment (she left town and also left behind the car and keys) and shot the 1986 equivalent of Selfies all around Chicago. There may have been some wine coolers involved in that; why else would we pose on the outside viewing deck of the then-Sears Tower on a day too foggy to see anything?!

Middle Cousin and I visited the bears at Denali together, took a dunk at Chena Hot Springs and cruised around Prince William Sound in a Zodiak . He also cooked for me -- I had dreams about his linguine with clam sauce for years. He also took me to some Italian restaurant in Chicago and did a standing back flip right there in the dining room, for a reason that must have been a dare.

Eldest Cousin took me to the beach at Narragansett and also made me the Great Expectations quilt when I was pregnant with the Youngest Pinks.

Fast forward 20 years. Eldest Cousin practices law in Providence. Middle Cousin practices law in Chicago. And  Youngest Cousin is enjoying some time at home with her two sweet sons in LA after many grueling years in the the entertainment industry.

We met up with the whole entourage last weekend to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of Youngest Cousin's Eldest Son. The years disappeared and the next generation of cousins picked up where our generation left off. Next Generation is pictured at right, ages 11 to 17.

The last time this same group was together was Youngest Cousin's wedding, 15 years ago. At that time Oldest Cousin's Youngest Child was two and very attached to his lovey, a cartoon character doll named Ben. Ben was intentionally excluded from the formal family picture and in that picture, Youngest Child is wailing hysterically in response. Today Youngest Child is a high school senior. Dave brilliantly found and procured a Ben doll so we could recreate this photo, to the merriment of all involved.

Thing 1 and Youngest Cousin's Youngest Son, also age 11, bonded over their shared diminutive stature. Look closely at the picture below; they could easily be mistaken as twins. For Eldest Daughter, the highlight of the weekend was realizing that her towering height of 5'2" made her (much!) taller than all the other women in our clan. In heels she was positively Amazonian. Sadly, it also meant her feet were larger than Youngest Cousin's. Youngest Cousin's shoe collection rivals my own.

The Pinks and I drove halfway down Thursday night. We spent the night at the Harris Ranch Inn, which Thing 1 aptly summed up by saying, "If cows had sensitive noses they'd be barfing right now." The property has gorgeous, manicured, flowering grounds, which are complete waste because the stench coming off of the surrounding cattle grazing land, is vile. (Sidebar: How come no one mentions the cow smell on The Pioneer Woman's Oklahoma Cattle Ranch?!)

Friday morning, after a call to the schools declaring that The Pinks were sick with Spring  fever, we met the cousins for an attack on Magic Mountain. There we broke into two groups: thrill seekers and non-thrill-seekers. Once again I held my own on the roller coasters.

After a quick dip in the hotel pool we joined up with the rest of the extended family for Friday night dinner. The Bar Mitzvah boy did a beautiful job Saturday morning and his interpretation of his portion brought us all to tears. After the service we ate and danced and ate more, as is traditional. My aunt and uncle, who I have been close to since we all lived in San Francisco during my post-college years, were in their element surrounded by their mischpucha. And then we went back to Youngest Cousin's house and ate more. The kids, led by the 26-year-old bassoonist who just married Oldest Cousin's Oldest Child, launched an aggressive Nerf gun war. And of course we ate more Sunday morning before hitting the road.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We're doing it.

I just pulled the trigger. There's no turning back now. We've decided to do the youngest Pinks B'nai Mitzvah in Israel.

There are so many reasons we wanted to do this. It will be an incredibly meaningful way to celebrate the Pinks arrival into Jewish adulthood. It will be a memorable extended family and friends trip, similar to the ones we've done to Italy, France and Spain. Our parents are still young and healthy enough to do it. Eldest Daughter will be a high school junior and it may be our last chance for a long, exotic vacation with her.

A sample custom itinerary was in my email this morning. It included a desert camel ride, a chocolate making class, a float in the Dead Sea and the tram ride up Masada. The countdown is on.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Three is the new two.

On the subject of children, it seems like we know an awful lot of people who have three or more children.

It could be because we have three, and people with more than two children gravitate toward other people with larger-than-the-national-average-number-of-children. We're less intimidated by the chaos.

Dave and I were anomalies in the neighborhood where we bought our first house. Most of our neighbors had children and one family seemed to have a lot of them. Now that we have kids of our own we realize that this particular family only had three. But it sure seemed like more when they were little!

Greg and Alice have triplets. Greg, who is one of the funniest people I know, calls grocery shopping "provisioning" and couples who have less than three children "slackers".

The Littlest Pinks went through a stage in preschool where their best friends were only children. What was that about?! Of course we never see those families now because they are too busy micromanaging one child and they mostly go to private school. That seems a little harsh to type but it's true.

Our Tahoe neighbor pointed out that her husband has four children by four different women. This is not as promiscuous as it sounds; one was from his first marriage, one is a biological product of their marriage and they adopted two children.

One of our Bay neighbors has two biological children and two step-children. A friend has two children with her husband and three step-children, happy bonuses of her husband's first marriage. Paige has four. Kathy has four. They seem sane. I skied this year with a friend with four children. Her adorable, teeny tiny six-year-old beat me down the hill more than once. I love that stage, the one where the kids are fearless.

While Dave and I never expected to have three children I'm glad we did, especially as Eldest Daughter pulls away from us. I find there are days where she and I speak very little outside of limited necessities we cover during the drive to school. And that makes me sad.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Manskirt

I love a well-made manskirt. Although I haven't seen it on Project Runway, it's very fashion forward. And I think I'd like the man ballsy enough to wear it. Do you think he's a handyman? Or a soccer dad? Or hippy dippy? Or just plain metrosexual?

You can get your own at the Treasure Island Flea Market or by contacting Stumptown Kilts directly.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This is Shannon.

We work together. She's helping her parents out in the Village Goose booth at the Treasure Island Flea Market. And here she's helping Thing 1 create a piece of custom art for her room.

If I wasn't in the office when Shannon told me about her parents' business I would have been jumping up and down screaming. It's so me. I already collect letterpress tiles. And her parents make it easy for people to turn them into personalized art.

I'd always wanted to go to the Treasure Island Flea Market and a free Saturday plus the discovery of this business meant for me was the impetus. I dragged Thing 1, Eldest Daughter and Eldest Daughter's friend.

The Market itself was well worth the trip. There were about a dozen food trucks so we had grass-fed beef and pulled-pork sliders for lunch. The vendors were about half traditional flea market and half interesting art and jewelry. This being the Bay Area, home of the Giants loyal, there was no shortage of Giants-wear, especially as it's baseball season. The coolest thing I saw was Giants t-shirts with a Day of the Dead, sugar skull style face. I will buy one next time. Or maybe I'll just order online. They were that cool.

The market is the last weekend of every month. People today told me that in the summer it's twice as big as it is in the winter. I'm already planning a trip back.

We spent a long time at Exit Plan B, a booth selling letter art photography signs, and with Emily Ireland, whose hand-painted Toms we really wanted.

The view of the city from Treasure Island is the best view I've ever seen. If waterfront homes ever come on the market Dave and I will need our very own Plan B.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bye Bye Bookend

I just bid farewell to another bookend. Her time on our work project was finished and on she goes to other things.

Still, I am sad. She was my proverbial partner in crime, the peer I stretched my leg with mid-day to bounce ideas off of, the voice of reason in a company we both joined at the same time.

Sometimes I remain personal friends with my bookends. This happens when we have things in common such as children or broad interests. Heather and Neeracha are examples. This particular bookend and I don't have many points of intersection; we're of different generations, she doesn't yet have children, we live many miles apart, and so I think we will end up professional friends. I didn't have a bookend at SOASTA -- the door revolved too quickly although there were many people there I genuinely liked.

My best clients turn into friends, real-life friends like Kymi and Rebel.

I'm in no rush to bookend the newest member of our team. Every work situation does not warrant a bookend and frankly, I must grieve first.