Wednesday, August 1, 2012


What the boys watch:
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Bob the Builder
  • Sesame Street
  • various “how stuff is made” shows
  • various house building/fixing shows
  • YouTube videos, often of themselves

What the grownups watch:
  • Daily Show / Colbert Report
  • 30 Rock
  • Community
  • Up All Night
  • Survivor / Amazing Race
  • Eureka / Warehouse 13
  • lots of home improvement TV
  • random movies we stumble upon

What Jenn watches by herself
  • So You Think You Can Dance!!
  • Parenthood
  • Friday Night Lights (on Netflix)
  • The West Wing (over and over on DVD)
  • new ballet shows! (Breaking Pointe, Bunheads)

When I was pregnant with Miles, I really wanted him to be a TV free baby.  I knew all about negative influence of “screen time.”  But in our home, TV is a way to unwind, and I’ve made my peace with it.  I like to watch TV at the end of the day, Nathan likes to watch TV at the end of the day, and now, the boys usually enjoy an hour and a half or so between dinner and the time we take our family walk.  They play so hard at school, and their days are so full of exploration and discovery, it seems their brains need a little down time, just like the grown ups do.  We always watch together, and I’m very particular about what they see.  Nathan has a fairly strict “one time through per day” rule, to prevent the same episode of the same show from playing over and over.  I’ve learned a lot watching TV with the boys.  A smidge of Spanish from Sesame Street...more facts about dinosaurs and the Mesozoic  Era than I learned getting a Biology to parge a house...and lots of useful parenting phrases.  In fact our most common request of Miles, “Can you think of a nice way to say that?” is a direct quote of Mr. Pteranodon.  

The last hour of the day, when Nathan and I watch something from our grown up list of shows, that’s one of the few remnants of our “before kids” life.  I love to curl up on our giant, family-sized couch, have the lights dimmed, plug in the laptop, and hear Jon Stewart make fun of the world.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I don’t like to cook.  I wish I did.  It seems like something I should enjoy.  It’s all about caring for yourself and other people, and I like that.  It’s something I could do with the boys.  I like that.  Moms that cook often have elaborate systems for getting their weekly meals planned, ingredients purchased, and food on the table, and I LOVE elaborate systems.  And yet, cooking just doesn’t give me that warm fuzzy feeling.  

I like to bake occasionally.  I can follow a recipe.  Sometimes I get excited about a super-simple-yet-delicious crock pot recipe.  This year we hosted Thanksgiving, and I really enjoyed pulling together one showstopper of a holiday meal.  But we had quesadillas for dinner last night.  Tonight we’ll probably have dinosaur nuggets.  Tomorrow might be cereal.  

I grew up eating cereal for dinner.  My mom didn’t cook much, and we would eat out a lot.  Dad, on the other hand, is a great cook, and he does love it.  He likes to hunt down great recipes, store his favorites, experiment with whatever ingredients he has on hand.  He has a favorite fish market, and has picked his own mushrooms.  He’s the parent that made sure I ate a vegetable every so often.  I have plenty of great memories of hanging out with him in the kitchen.  And yet, in the mish mash of genetic hand-me-downs, I did not get the love-to-cook genes.  Left to my own devices I could happily eat a rotating diet of PBJ, pasta with butter, and oatmeal-- for months on end.  

Which is totally fine with me, except that I do want to be sure the boys are getting what they need.  Both nutritionally and as “food experience.”  I want them to grow up enjoying a lot of different kinds of food, and I want them to have a touch of adventurousness about what they eat.  Right now, they get most of their meals at school.  We’re talking beautifully prepared, organic, culturally varied, allergy sensitive non-stop deliciousness.  And of course, they’ll both eat all kinds of things at school they’d never dream of eating at home.  Miles will tell you his favorite food at school are bananas and tofu.  Offer him a banana at home and he’ll regularly say “No Thank You. I don’t like bananas at home.”  When they outgrow their culinary paradise, though, I’m going to have to find it in me to do more regular cooking.  I want them to be healthy and I want them to enjoy trying new things.  I want them to love to cook when they grow up.

Monday, July 2, 2012



Daycare pickup is the start of the evening routine, usually around 5:30.  Nathan picks the boys up on the days that I work, collecting them both from their classrooms and checking in with their teachers.  They walk home and Nathan feeds them as soon as they get in the door.  They are hungry and get cranky easily.  I usually get home about a half hour later.  We snuggle, watch some TV, and eat dinner.  On my work days, we usually start our walk about 7:30 or 8:00 pm.  Noah usually falls asleep in the first ten minutes of the walk, and may wake up again once we get home.  Miles usually falls asleep about half way through the walk, though lately, he’s made it all the way through more and more.  The days I’m off, Nathan and I meet around 4:30 to get our walk in, and then we pick up the boys together.  Baths happen on Wednesdays and on the weekends.  If the boys aren’t asleep when they get out of the stroller, or if we’ve done our walk earlier in the day, the bedtime ritual looks like this:

Miles has almost always been very easy at bed time.  He loves his bed.  Bedtime is the only time he still wears his diaper, so after he brushes his teeth, he puts his undies away and gets into his diaper.  Then he gets two or three chewies and climbs into bed.  His bed is FULL of stuff.  Probably ten animals, six to eight blankets, the books he’s chosen, his glowy guy, and sometimes the toy he couldn’t bear to part with.  It used to be that Nathan would read to him every night, but lately, I get a turn after I put Noah in his crib.  My favorite book to read with him right now is “Goodnight Gorilla.”  We’ve been reading it each night for a few weeks now, and we still keep finding new things in the illustrations.  It’s amazing to see how Miles’ response to the book has changed over the last year.  He used to just like the page with the zookeeper’s wife’s surprised he wants to find the “teeny tiny balloon” on each and every page.  He wants to know “Why did the mouse let the balloon go, Mommy?”   After reading, I remind him that I love him, and tell him something he did that day that made me proud.  I might ask him to tell me what his favorite part of the day was. I’ll check that his Glowy Guy night light is red, that his turtle night light is blue, and that his Roar night light is on.  If he wants his overhead light on, he’ll tell me that too.  Then it’s big hugs and some kisses and out the door.  Often I’ll hear him singing himself a little song before he falls asleep.

Noah is just starting to settle into a bedtime routine.  For so long, I would help him all the way to sleep before I put him in his crib, because I didn’t want him to disrupt Miles’ sleep patterns.  Lately, though, we’ve focused on building a routine for him, hoping he’ll become a great bedtimer like his brother.  Noah uses a sound machine, set to the ocean waves setting.  I’ll turn that on for him as I check his diaper one last time.  Then we’ll look at two or three books.  He loves “Beep Beep Peek a Boo,” just like Miles did at this age.  I like “I Love You Through and Through,” which is a fairly new book in our house.  After books, I’ll dim the lights and snuggle him for about five minutes.  I love these last quiet moments of Noah’s day.  I’ll give him kisses, tell him I love him, and that I’m looking forward to seeing him in the morning.  He has a turtle in his crib, just like his brothers.  Noah likes a pacifier at night...I’m not sure what would happen if he didn’t have one.  I also give him a taggie-blankie-animal friend.  He likes them pretty well, but he could sleep without one.  It’s my attempt to give him a chewie, which has helped Miles sleep beautifully for ages.  I’ll give Noah one last pat, and walk out.  Mostly, he’ll just snuggle right in and sleep.  He might sit up to play with turtle.

Then, it’s grown up time.  This is when Nathan and I watch something from the Tivo.  Usually we’ll both have our laptops out as well.  I might send an email, or work on Project Life stuff.  He’ll surf and do work stuff.  We usually turn the television off about 10:30, and head upstairs.  I will write in my journal for a few minutes and then turn the computer off.  Hopefully.  Brushing and flossing, and then I fall into bed.  I’ll check on the boys one last time, using the video monitor on the iPad, and then I’ll close my eyes.  These days, it never takes me more than about three minutes to fall into a deep sleep.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012


31 Things Update---The real class, the 31 days of it, ended mid-June.  I fell behind.  I decided that was okay.  I've finished something like 20 things.  I have 11 more things to write about.  They started to be things I wanted to write a lot about, so I decided to give myself some extra time.  I just need to finish before the end of September...when the "31 MORE Things" class starts.  Anyway, end side note, here's Thing Nine...

I remember one night when Miles was just starting to drink formula...he’d had some tummy troubles with the first brand we tried.  His doctor recommended we try a different kind and I headed to the store and bought three or four different types...some soy, some for young babies, different brands, etc.  And on the way home, I realized how much of a financial burden this might have been for another family.  Formula isn’t cheap, and I’d just bought a lot of it so I could guess and check which kind was best for Miles.  I realized how fortunate we were, that this was easy for us.

Though I don’t think we’re strictly “frugal,” we don’t have a lot of expensive habits.  Nathan walks to work and mows our lawn.   I make a weekly trip to Costco to stock our fridge with low cost milk.  All four of us prefer to wear our favorite clothes until they fall apart, or we outgrow them (in the case of the boys.)  I have pieces in my wardrobe from high school.  The boys in our family all get their haircuts at home.  Vacations are usually trips to stay with our relatives.  Nathan and the boys enjoy lovely meals prepared by Google at school and work.  Our ideal evening involves TV, library books, and quesadillas. Babysitters are almost always related to us, and therefore very affordable.

Even our splurges are fairly practical.  The boys go to a gloriously lovely daycare center.  We have nice cameras.  A fancy double stroller.  We live in California, which is a splurge of a sort.  Twice a month, two magical ladies come to vacuum, clean the bathrooms, and mop our floors.  

My guilty pleasures?  Manicures, once a month or so.  Coffee from the cart in the library, if I don’t have time to make it at home in the morning.  Digi scrapbooking supplies, and photobooks from Blurb or Shutterfly--though I always do these things during sales.  And I’m on a first name basis with the staff of my local LaBoulanger.  I buy my lunch at work way more than is “necessary.”  I could pack a lunch and eat at work.  But the process of walking downtown, ordering my usual sandwich, talking to the staff, sitting in the booth and reading my book makes me so happy.  The margherita al fresco,  probably my most frequent purchase.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


My first car was a 1980 Honda Accord, that had been painted a bright red-orange using a can of latex wall paint.  I know because the extra paint was included in the price of the car.  Then I inherited a series of cars from my mom.  First a red Nissan Sentra.  Then a silver Toyota Corrolla.  Then I bought my first Prius.  Then Nathan bought the second.  And now we have a van that’s more like a yacht than an automobile.  I’ve loved each of these cars in their time.  They’ve all served me well, and each one holds special memories of places I’ve gone, songs I’ve sung, and friends I’ve traveled with.  

But the Westfalia Camper remains my dream car.  

My dad had several of these campervans when I was a kid, and I loved our camping road trips.  I loved the hours on the highway.  I loved all the places I could hang out during the trip (front seat, back seat, sometimes the middle seats, and if those were missing, I could dance on the center floor space...this was before seat belts were popular.)  I loved that in the evenings, we’d pop the top up, cook ourselves some dinner, curl up in sleeping bags, and sleep outside, but not quite outside.  I decided I would spend a good deal of my post-college life seeing the U.S. in my own Westfalia camper.  My friends and I called it my “Westfalia Camper Plan.”  Heteo suggested we drive to Tierra del Fuego.

I love the space you find on a road trip.  As much as I appreciate the sights and the sounds and songs and the snacks associated with being in the car for hours, it may be the room to think I appreciate most.  Something about the rhythm of the highway makes the mind a little looser, and more relaxed.  I was driving back from mom’s house when I came up with “meteowrite.”  I spent another such drive choosing carpet for the house I hoped Nathan and I would buy one day.  I mapped out the boy’s family history blog on a trip to Fresno.  I’ve “written” countless stories.  It’s easy to imagine when you’re driving.

For our honeymoon, Nathan and I traveled to New Zealand, and we spent three weeks driving a campervan.  It was heavenly. Somewhere towards the end of our trip, I spent several hours imagining what it would be like to travel with our future children.  I bought us an imaginary RV, and pictured our cross-country road trips.  Perhaps the kids would be home schooled?  And they’d have their cameras, certainly.  My only requirement would be that they would update a blog, keeping a journal of their travels.  We’d drive and learn and see and think and document.

In real life, I don’t see the Westfalia Camper Plan as a viable option any time soon.  I don’t drive stick shift.  I don’t want to homeschool.  I like my job, I like my house.  But I do hope the boys develop a little bit of my wanderlust, and I hope they love a good road trip.  And they’d better like to blog.  Before too much longer, I’ll load them up in the yacht-van, pack some traveling tunes and some sleeping bags, and we’ll see where we end up.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


As a kid, I loved to play “Office.”  I wanted to have a job where I would use lots of different colored pens, some stamps, and where I would fill in a lot of forms.  Also, I wanted to be a ballerina.  When I started to college, I wanted to be an astronomer.  Turned out I’m not so wild about physics.  Then I was going to be a freelance writer.  Then a freelance web designer.  Turns out, I need a bit more structure in my life.  As I tried all these different Dream Jobs, I always either worked with kids or in a library.  I babysat. I worked in daycare centers.  I had an eight year run in an academic library, and I loved that because of the people I worked with and the beautiful campus I worked on.  The whole time I was there, though, I never LOVED the work I did.  Then Nathan got a GREAT job.  His move inspired me to try something new.  I got a job in a public library, and within the first month, I knew I wanted to go to library school, get my MLIS, and be a youth librarian.  And so I did.

Now, I’m the Teen Librarian at the Los Gatos Library.  I work in a beautiful, brand new building (after six years in an old, basementy building.) I have coworkers who are my friends, and a fantastic boss.   I work a 30 hour work week, giving me two weekdays each week to do all the Mama Work that needs doing in our house.  I have my own little library kingdom to run, without any concerns about managing other staff people.  Every day my job is different, but there are pockets of routine that I find soothing as well.  There is both plenty of flexibility and a fair bit of structure.  As Goldilocks would say, it’s Just Right.

In the course of my Library work week, I will lead at least two storytime programs, select fiction and nonfiction titles for teens, work on the children’s reference desk, plan library programs, and who knows what else.  Since we opened our new building, the presence of teens in our library has exploded.  We’ve implemented Teen Reference Desk hours every school day afternoon.  This is my chance to work with the teens in our town. I find it a little intimidating, a little exciting, and really rewarding.

We’re just about to launch our Summer Reading program.  Our theme is “Own the Night,” which is fantastic for our new building and for the paranormal craze in teen literature.  I’m inspired to hook new teens who may not have participated in Summer Reading before.  Lure them in with pizza and prizes, keep them as life-long readers.  That’s my thinking.

Probably my favorite part of the job is getting to know the families that visit the library regularly.  I love going for lunch downtown and having kids whisper “It’s the library lady!”  I like helping teens find their new favorite book.  Just this week, I got to take a picture of one of our regular storytime moms and her brand new baby, on that baby’s very first visit to the library.I love that I get to be a part of the reading life of so many people in this town.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I rarely have an uninterrupted conversation.  At work, we’re all busy going in different directions, it’s rare to find five minutes to talk about something specific.  We had instituted a “ten minute standing meeting” in the morning for basic, basic checkins, but we’ve even given those up.
Nathan and I chat on Google Talk during the day for logistical issues.  How did drop off go?  Would this time work for a teacher conference?  Did you see the message from your mom?  Our long, winding conversations from our first years have given way to busy work days.

Most of my communication with friends and family comes in the form of Facebook updates or brief emails.  Though these are short, they help me feel connected to a world beyond my work and my boys.  My teos, my oldest friends, I used to spend hours and hours talking about every last little thing.  I’d talk something over with Jean, then Heather, then Sven, and then I write about it, then I might write a letter to Jean about it, highlighting things Heather and Sven had said.  Now I know if Jean’s had coffee, whether her kids are napping.  I know when Heather reads an article she likes, and I know when Sven is going to juggle, several states away.  It’s not the same, but I’m grateful for it.

If I’m home with Nathan and the boys, we’re usually always talking over one another.  It’s difficult to have a cohesive conversation with a three year old under ideal conditions, but with four of us in the same room, it’s a mish mash of words.  Every substantive topic is interspersed with reminders to sit in a chair, to use nice words, to talk without chewie in your mouth, or requests for repeats.  Noah’s just on the verge of conversation.  He’s fluent in finger pointing, gestures, squeals and grunts.  He knows a few signs, “more” and “all done” and the all-important head shake “no.”  I’m trying to teach him the sign for milk.  He can say “mama” but it sounds a lot like what I think his word for “food” is (mum-mum) so it’s hard sometimes to interpret his meaning.  His attempts to articulate himself are another frequent interruption.  If he tries to tell us something, I’ll try to work out what it is, sometimes regardless of what else may be happening.

For one hour a day, though, there is time and space and generally, inclination, to talk.  Our walk.   We haven’t missed a day since 2007, except the days I was in the hospital giving birth.  Nathan and I get exercise, and the boys share the Double Bob. The stroller is their cue that the day is winding down, and they are usually calm and happy.  This is when Miles will tell us things about his day.  He will sing us some songs.  This is when I’ll find out what Nathan had for lunch.  I might call my mom or my dad to check in.  Noah will point at things, or mumble happily about whatever he’s found on his snack tray.  We’ll notice new things in the neighborhood.  We’ll even have time to talk to the cats, the birds, or any interesting work trucks parked on the street.

Many nights we don’t sit down to the dinner table at the same time, if we eat at the table at all.  Instead, we have our walks as our family time.  I don’t know yet how we’ll negotiate our walks as the boys outgrow the stroller, but we’ll figure it out.  All too soon, I’m sure, our house will be full of space for conversation again, and I know I’ll miss the interruptions.