Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday is over-rated.

I did not host Thanksgiving this year and that meant I did not stay up until midnight with Mr. Clean the Magic Eraser.

This enabled me, Paris and Liberty to leave the house at 5:40a Friday to participate in a holiday tradition that somehow we'd thus far avoided: Black Friday Shopping.

Eh. Not worth doing again. Something is broken with retail shopping.

We headed to Hacienda Crossing, the location of our closest Old Navy, Ulta, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. The parking lot was about 10% full. This translated to very few shoppers even though there is a Best Buy there, too. It took us less than an hour to ransack those three shops and hit Starbucks.

It was too early to go home so we made one last stop: Toys R Us. It wasn't empty but it wasn't crowded, either. I offered The Pinks a trip to the big mall and they declined, citing sleepiness. By 8:45a we were home and I crawled back into bed.

Total damage: less than $300 and that included all new towels for Tahoe.

There is a beautiful, recently remodeled shopping center near our house: Blackhawk Plaza. Yet the retail turnover there is constant and has been for the 18 years I have lived in this town. I shop there only occasionally and that's because I like Anthropologie. A chain accessories shop just went in and I hope the management company sees that even the CEOs and cougars who live inside the gates like good value. Put in a Sephora or a Cheesecake Factory to draw in the masses. It's a great place for the under 7s to go with the playground and ducks. But that's it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mountain High - Thanksgiving Week Edition

We've just come back from a quick trip to Tahoe. We've not been up since summer and my body was begging for the scent of pine trees in the most unrelenting of ways. This trip was really just to get the house ready for winter. Provisioning. Cleaning. Organizing.

Squaw merged with Alpine Meadows this year and KSL, the owner of both properties, is halfway through a $30M renovation of Squaw. There have been lots of changes.

Here are some highlights:
  1. There is signage everywhere.
  2. The ticket kiosks and ski school office were demolished and a new skier service center was added to the Olympic House. The site of the former kiosks is wide open now and it's not an icy hike up to the Funitel.
  3. The filthy, dingy lower level of the Olympic House was gutted. All the restaurants and shops are gone, and all that remains of the original space is the fireplace and stairs. There is a gorgeous new locker room and a lot of dust as the construction continues. Fire pits are being installed on the KT deck along with private cabanas.
  4. The Blue Coyote is gone and the space is in the process of being converted to a new restaurant. That's number three in the spot.
  5. The North Face has moved into The Village.
  6. The Rainbow Bridge (that weird spiritual shop) has closed, as has All Fired Up and the ice cream shop, which was much better during its first iteration as Ben & Jerry's.
  7. Chamois, the pizza place, appears to have lost its liquor license for two weeks. At least that's what the notice hanging in its window says.
  8. Starbucks has remodeled. The service is still mediocre.
Very little was open during our stay, just Starbucks, Mamasake and Mountain Nectar. Winter operations begin tomorrow. Liberty broke into tears when she saw Exhibition running Sunday morning, knowing we'd left all our ski gear down in the Bay. Fortunately or unfortunately it was for Squaw ski team members only to get a leg up on the other local race teams.

The drive up was tougher than usual. It was raining in the Bay and we saw four car accidents in the first 15 miles of our drive. It was snowing over the pass and Caltrans was hauling a few cars out of ditches in the Sierras, too. We were rewarded with three days of falling snow and the area mostly to ourselves.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bravo Belles!

Tori plays goalie. I hate it. It's dang stressful. But she loves it and Dave and I support her in things she's passionate about, especially when they're good for her.

Today all that stress paid off. Her team won its age and division championship. I'm hoarse from all that screaming on the sidelines. My hands are raw from clapping.

One week until the indoor soccer season begins.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back away, people.

Let me preface this post by saying that I'm having a great day. I've done some good work. I went to a professional group meeting over lunch. The speaker was engaging and relevant. Caryl Lyons is going to join my gym, which means we can spend more time together. Vanity Fair came in the mail. It's a perfect fall day in Northern California. I have lots to be happy about.

However, sometimes we need to put our big girl panties on and deal.

One of our neighbors drives very fast, much faster than one should drive in a neighborhood where children ride their bikes and walk to the bus stop. This morning she nearly ran over one of our kids and didn't even slow down; I think she didn't notice. Tonight I must confront her.

The youngest Pinks had an assembly yesterday. And something happened during the first five minutes of it which led the principal to cancel it. My children came home and told me that the principal yelled at them so that leads me to believe it was a behavior issue. Where is the communication to parents on this, showing the administration's side of the story? If there is no such message then I will just have to take my children's version of the story as the gospel. I sent off a note to her today, too. Surprise!

No, I do not have PMS.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

SOS - Save our Schools!

Yesterday was Mike Cannon's last day as vice principal at our middle school. Monday he starts his new job as principal at a much larger middle school two towns north of here. I am happy for him professionally and personally, and I am also saddened at our school district's loss of this talented administrator.

From the outside, it does not seem like being a middle school vice principal would be fun. All those hormones. Discipline. Logistics.

I met Mike about a year ago when he helped me with logistics for the Rachel Simmons Curse of the Good Girl lecture. As it turns out, he lives in the same neighborhood as my brother and they're friendly. I've gotten to know his family and they're good stock, the kind of people you want around.

We have a new principal at our elementary school this year and she appears to be doing as little as possible to get by. I've spoken with our PTA president, other parents and the school district about this and am hopeful the district will address those in time for her to make an impact. She's got a tough job -- her two predecessors were both strong, opinionated women who didn't back away from a challenge. Fortunately the youngest Pinks have good teachers this year and that will affect them far more than the principal.

We intentionally live in a community with stellar schools. Yet I'm disappointed in these two recent events. We could private school our children but we don't want to. Dave and I are products of public schooling, all the way through college, and are advocates of it. This is what keeps me awake at night.