Tiara Talk

Olivine was wearing a tiara on Tuesday to school, when Henry noticed in the car and asked if her jewels were real?

DSC02817She said yes only to be argued with..

H: No they can’t be real. that is too expensive!

O: Yes they are (pointing)…Look, they are real. They are plastic.

H: Oh, that is what I meant. They are plastic. That is not real. Real jewels are expensive, like your earrings. (Then he is suddenly distracted) Mom when did you have enough money to buy those real jewel earrings? I don’t remember you having a lot of money.

O: (Before I can answer) Henry, how do they make real jewels?

P: Henry doesn’t know (that is how big brothers talk sometimes).

H: Yes I do (pausing and then declaring). They are made from water.

O: Ohhh.. wow! (Big eyes and a perfect ‘o’ of a mouth)

H: (continuing with long pauses, with the dramatic effect he makes it sounds like magic or a very clear explanation for a toddler). The dirt hardens the water and then people find those and make things out of the jewels

O: Well, then how do they get the color?

P: Yeah, how Henry?

H: They paint them on. Like your jewel earrings. They painted them purple.

P: Okay (sounds believable)..but don’t they also add air?

H: Yeah I just didn’t say that because air is everywhere (quick recovery)

O: Is air the sky? Where does the sky end? (always more questions)

H: The sky doesn’t end. Does it mommy? (I am the expert- often called on to take sides, but I am intentionally remaining quiet)

P: The sky is all around, even in this car, right now.

O: What? We are in the sky? The sky is here! (looking around confused)

H: Yeah, Paul is right. That is how we can breathe Ollie, even though the doors are closed and the windows are up. Feel it (Deep breath)

She nods

I smile, listening and occasionally looking at the three of them buckled in a row, side by side, in the backseat of my car.

Siblings..science..asking questions out loud on our way to school.

I love it!




My memories begin with afternoons in high school: in front of cutting boards and large quantities of produce and the weekly creation of batches of soup for Food Not Bombs. The pick ups, the washing and sorting, the chopping and simmering, would lead to this fantastic surprise in the end. Surprise! Like pulling a rabbit out of hat, but better and edible.DSC02814Cooking every night often feels like a chore. A cycling through of pasta, stir fry, tacos, or curry. We rotate through the dishes again and again. But then there are nights like last night. I come across a recipe I have wanted to try and feel a bit gutsy. After looking  around and seeing I am only missing two ingredients I take it as a sign from the heavens. I reread the steps and measure carefully, at each step thinking it might all go wrong in which case, at the last minute, I will order a pizza (my least favorite food). Even as a I pop it into the oven I  want to cover my eyes, unsure about what will transpire.DSC02816The pot pie takes my breath away. People are cooking dinner all the time, and yet it feels like magic. It feeds my entire family, it took less than an hour, and I am thrilled by the way it turns out. I savor each bite and almost regret not doubling the recipe so I could freeze one. My mind begins churning out variations and smaller portions and I am so grateful for time in the kitchen to cook.

Tar Pits

Did you know this is only urban excavation site in the world?DSC02790We saw some women excavating a saber tooth tiger and I felt like a kid again. I love that part of being parent is seeing the world the way they do: full of wonder and excitement.DSC02787Our membership to the Natural History Museum gets us into the Tar Pits as well. Bonus: Tar Pits are next to LACMA which all kids in LA can get into for free. A double win-win! Paul was in love with the dire wolves. They have excavated almost 2,000 and have a few on display.DSC02788After some running around we needed a snack at the local cookie shop. Yum!DSC02805And because it was Sunday, the LACMA had some activities for kids. We walked up right in time for the Slide Whistle Workshop, giving out and teaching kids how to use slide whistles.DSC02800I’m not going to lie-the weather was perfect for spending the afternoon outdoors.DSC02791Looks like spring is quickly becoming summer and I might need to stock up on sunscreen.DSC02799We tried to stay in the shade or hide in the plastic-spaghetti like strings of the LACMA.DSC02796Henry is pretty darn good at expressing his emotions without words. He loved the day!


My mom’s last day at work was last Thursday and yesterday we had a chance to celebrate. She came over and we had brunch at a local spot called the Attic. So good!

It still unreal seeming. We sat under umbrellas, drinking spiked lemonades, at 11 am on a Wednesday. We are both looking at each other wondering how this came to be? My mom has worked ever since I can remember. So if I thought ten years teaching was long…try more than three times that is how long my mom worked in an office for the UC system. And now she has all this crazy free time. My offer still stands…Grammy can take my three anytime she wants.
DSC02807For brunch, I ordered the veggie burrito. They put fries inside and avocado on top. Also we shared an order of the FGT- fried green tomatoes! I was full all day. This one meal pushed me over the limit.DSC02810My treat: manicure and pedicure at Kreme de la Kreme- two doors down. They have fair wages, clean- super clean, cupcakes, and of course my new obsession:DSC02812I chose the second color from the right, very much in the shade of Hello Kitty’s bow. Classic!DSC02813We stayed almost two hours to relax. I figure this is a great way to kick of the celebration of not having to work. My mom thinks next time we should head to Korea town for pedicures that involve live fish. She has no idea how gross that sounds to me. Let’s just come back to this spot!


My cousin Jessica was confirmed in the Catholic church on Sunday, so we used that as a reason to gather together and celebrate. We had food, talked and talked, and let the kids run around. DSC_4045I love that lately we have shared more intimate and spiritual conversations. Sometimes at the most random times because we both have little ones. But squeezed in conversations here and there about parenting, teaching, God, faith, trust, and listening to our hearts.DSC_4044We also have had to cancel plans due to little ones being sick. Mine had a fever, hers were coughing, mine got pink eye, hers started antibiotics, you know how it goes. Back and forth, until somehow the clouds part and the sun shines down and we are all rejoicing under one roof.DSC_4096

The timing of our marriages and children have helped the most, in ways of growing close. But she also is the blood cousin of Joe and they are strikingly similar in interests. I just learned about her equal passionate collection of trolls, something I have teased Joe about for years.

DSC_4086She is a reader and a writer like me. Since we are both raising daughters, we like to daydream about the girls forming a band like Sleater-Kinney when we get older. We will happily be the moms on the sidelines cranking out buttons and silk screening t-shirts. Girls rule!DSC_4065They could play dress up all day. That is exactly what they did and luckily they are the same size. Their imaginations ran wild with all sorts of imaginary games.
DSC_4028And she is someone I can ask..what about Disney princesses? How much is too much? What are the benefits because all I can see are the negatives? She gives honest feedback. I love that.

Soon enough the littlest of this tribe will be dedicated. If everyone’s healthy, we plan on being there next month to celebrate one more blessing in the family.

Packing Up

Joe is growing sunflower seeds for his class. Their sprouts are a perfect reminder of the spring season. A new and fresh beginning is what I see, especially for my aunt who is preparing to move to Kansas City.DSC_3856 Her five bedroom house in Oceanside is being emptied this week and we had a chance to say good-bye. One final lunch of Mexican take-out under the umbrella.DSC_3963Look at that weather: gorgeous! And I spared everyone the tears. I stayed focused on the gifts that are in store: the chance to be closer to those getting old, extended family, and friends. The decreased distance from her son and grandson in Texas. The excuse to one day road trip across the country. The opportunity to carve out a life that makes the most sense for a woman who has given up a lot for her family. She went from raising a son to taking care of her mother, and at every point she gave 100% in a selfless way. DSC_3971She is picking up her roots and setting them down in much richer soil. It is definitely an adventure and the smile I hear in her voice alludes to her excitement.DSC_4003The kids are still a bit confused, which I am okay with. Olivine asked if we would see grandma on the drive down. Death’s permanence is still strange to her. But the best part of that is she remembers my grandma. Henry added details from his memories of grandma’s hugs and her chair she kept surrounded with mail and books. They remember sleeping over, tossing balls to the dog, feeding the turtle or koi fish, running around with their cousin, flying helicopters, and the tradition of taking flowers to my grandma. Those are the memories we will treasure.DSC_4005God has been faithful in this move. The family moving in has four kids and the walls will soon fill with laughter. The yard is drought tolerant and low maintenance. Without asking, the help to drive across country has appeared and now the days are numbered.DSC_4008I wish my aunt the best. This is our last hug in the driveway but hopefully the beginning of some beautiful new places for us.

Little Pitcher

This week the team moved away from coaches pitching and let the kids pitch. Paul was first up, and just like when I watch him bat, I find my hands are suddenly sweating. I want to look away, but I can’t. I get incredibly nervous to see my little guy out there.DSC_3959He looks so big and mature out on the field. Almost like I can’t recognize him his socks pulled high and the concentration on his face. Or maybe it is if I squint, I can visualize him as a high schooler. The coach gave him a couple pointers a few weeks ago and it has made a world of difference. I didn’t come from a world of team sports as a child. It is all new to me, and I love getting to see baseball through the eyes of an eight-year old.


is defined as the persistent difficulty in discarding possessions, despite their value. And I am slowly realizing that it is a function of my anxiety and depression. I have let go of the boxes of cards and journals, the stamp collection, the sticker books, the Boy George book (still a twinge of regret on that one) but still the hoarding lurks in hidden places.DSC02774I am learning that the “clutter” brings me anxiety, but the pushing it off brings the depression. It is a tension that I struggle with. So I spend free time, like today, with windows wide open and an empty house. It takes one drawer at at time…Kind of like jogging (one day at a time).DSC02779It’s like time travel, but the difference is now, I’m not as fond of the trips down memory lane as I am slowly becoming aware that I don’t need all the stuff in drawers, collecting dust (yes, a lesson repeatedly learned). Here is the frame from a 2003 birthday, my friend made me. It pretty much sums me up..I love Jesus, the apple is for teaching, Oprah, the Eiffel Tower (Vive la France!), dogs crossed out (sorry friends), and a tiny heart with Joe on it. Me in a red, sparkly star frame!DSC02776

Oh and the Church of the Sojourners! So much love and “passing the peace” with hugs. The folks who taught me so much about living in the Lord together, what it means to break bread, practice the sabbath, and share a common purse. I had shoved this one page directory into this drawer. Was that when I moved to LA? Have I been back (or away) for eleven years? DSC02778And these pages of checklists from 2007. The literal checks next to all the preparation for a home birth that I never had. And guess what? I had only minor aches of sadness to reread the list. Because in the end I learned to let go of the control that flows against labor and just like my mid-wife promised…I would be so much happier about a healthy baby than any ideal water birth dream. Thanks Candace!DSC02782I threw out most of the drawer and left the essentials: a handheld sticker machine and tiny red suitcase full of stationary and postcards…Ahhh..the progressive change away from keeping and toward empty spaces.

The Bay

The weather was exceptional today.DSC02764We took advantage of the empty shoreline and set up under those swirly clouds that changed shape every time I looked up.DSC02763We found a sea star and saw a pair of dolphins in the six hours of sunshine play.DSC02766Friends brought us sandwiches and baseball fun.DSC02770The low tide and sailboats were a picturesque backdrop.DSC02771A sandy, wipe out way to end spring break.DSC02769Everyone heads back to school tomorrow, and I have a whole week to myself. I am feeling lucky!

Los Angeles

Months ago, I ordered tickets on line for the Broad. I had no idea then that my family might want to head out of town, or a friend might need help with babysitting. I basically chose the one day I didn’t have to go to work during spring break. Oh yeah, my family and I had different spring breaks this year. Terrible. Mostly for me. Every afternoon I would have to separate myself and head to the college to teach while they went to the aquarium, farmer’s market, bike rides, and adventures.

The Broad is the newest museum to Los Angeles and is FREE! Who doesn’t love that?DSC02752

The magic behind this is Eli and Edythe Broad (watch the free-kid friendly-video upon entering). And get there early to sign up for the Infinity Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama.

DSC02747 Download the free app if you would like to be tour guided by LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow!).DSC02760We loved the large pieces and all the color. Plus the folks who work here are super friendly. My kids engaged multiple of these people and learned even more about the art they were looking at. DSC02757Olivine might have had some difficulty not touching the art. Like the piece above “Tulips” because it was so shiny. All I thought…my daughter needs to go to more museums. DSC02761These two “giant” pieces were on different floors. They were able to make the connection that I didn’t, that they belonged to each other by the artist Robert Therrien.DSC02758I could go on and on. If my kids would have let me, I would have stayed longer to listen and watch “The Visitors,” which was a simultaneously filmed song of each instrument and musician in a different room of an old house. Henry loved the guy in the bathtub, Paul loved the drummer, I loved the girl playing the accordion, and Olivine and Joe loved the girl playing the cello. What does that say about each of us?DSC02762We timed our visit to be the first ones in and to be leaving as our tummies rumbled for lunch. A few blocks over we had lunch in Little Tokyo. And yes, the macaroons are from a lovely shop nearby. It was either sweets or a trinket from the Hello Kitty shop. This could be shared and are colorful. Pictured above: pineapple, framboise, rose, and pistachio.

Such a good day. The weather as perfect and we didn’t get home until the evening.