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.

Friday, May 25, 2012


There’s no name for my type of faith.  I believe in some sort of all-powerful creator.  I believe there is a Grand Cosmic Plan.  I believe in free will and hard work.  I believe, mostly, in love and kindness, and the power of believing in things that don’t always make logical sense.  I think something wonderful awaits us, beyond this particular life.  And so it makes perfect sense to me that the spirit of our loved ones can travel from the wonderful beyond to visit, from time to time.

I’m almost certain my boys experience these visits in a way that is more “real” than what I experience.  Something about the way both boys will occasionally stop and focus on empty space, or the way Noah waves at “nothing,” makes me think they are saying hello. One day, Miles asked me, “Mommy, who are your friends?”  I asked him which friends, and he said, “Over there, by the couch.”  I saw nothing, but I don’t doubt that he did.

Perhaps as babies and young children, we all can see things that are beyond the range of grownups.   The same open mind that allows Miles to see dinosaurs walking in our front hall may well allow him to interact with spirits I can no longer literally see.  I don’t think much about the word “ghost” and I would expect that these visits are only expressions of love and curiosity, never malevolence.  It seems to me this may be how we grow to feel connected to our families, how we share the spirit of who we are and where we came from.

Most often, I suspect visits from Mil and Bob.  My mom’s parents, they were always ready for a road trip.  They loved their grandchildren so very much, and I know they would have been head over heels for my boys.  Miles has been singing “La Bamba” to the tune of “Goodnight Ladies” lately, and I was telling him how my grandma and grandpa used to sing “We love Jenny, we love Jenny, we love Jenny, for she’s a good little girl.”  And I sang him a few rounds of “I love Miles” and “I love Noah.”  A few days ago, as we went through our morning, he was singing softly to himself, “I love Mommy, I love Mommy, I love Mommy, la bamba bamba bamba.”  I KNOW Mil and Bob were around for that moment, singing along.  

It’s harder for me to pinpoint specific visits from Gammy, but I suspect her spirit is present when the boys do something a bit mischievous and then turn to see who might be laughing at them.  When Noah stops fussing suddenly on the diaper table and focus on the space above my head, I think she might be there, playing peek-a-boo and making funny faces.  I think she would particularly enjoy Noah’s determination and his fearlessness.  I expect she’ll keep an eye on him when he approaches his tree-climbing years.  

So many other family members, too.  Aunt Noreen, Uncle George (would love Miles’ poop jokes!), Uncle Don (would have pointers on how we’ve taught the boys to throw and catch), Noble, Larry, and all of Nathan’s family, as well, I’m sure.  At some point in the not too distant future, I’m sure Miles, and then Noah after him, will start to understand “real” vs. “imaginary.”  At that point, their connection to the family that have gone on will come in the form of stories and old photos and DNA.  Now though, I think the love our family members shared with us when they were alive fills this house with spirits.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Five years from now, I hope our Saturdays will be filled with reading.  I imagine a Saturday afternoon where we all spend an hour on the couch, enjoying a treasure from the library.  I’ll have something new from the teen section.  Miles, he’ll be 8, he might be reading Magic Treehouse or Encyclopedia Brown.  Noah, he’ll be six, so possibly Nathan would read him Frog and Toad, or maybe he’d be flipping through a Highlights.  Nathan probably won’t be reading a book, strictly speaking, unless he’s reading to Noah, but he’ll be reading something, most likely an article or a website on his computer.  He’ll probably update us frequently on what he’s discovered...  

Today, I will try to work in as many books for the boys as I can.  I frequently think of that saying, “Doctors children get sick and shoemaker’s children go barefoot.”  As a librarian, a youth librarian, I always worry that my own boys don’t get enough time with books.  They both love books, and we have small book-related routines, but I so want them to be life-long story lovers, like their mama and like their Grandpa Kirk.  It’s hard to walk the line between fostering a love of reading and obsessing over it.

This morning, we read “How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon” over breakfast.  Before nap, Noah and I read “Freight Train” and “Go, Dogs, Go.”  If Nathan helps Miles to his nap, they’ll probably read “The Going to Bed Book” or “Hippos Go Berserk.”  At bedtime tonight, if I read to Miles, we’ll probably enjoy “Goodnight Gorilla.”  Miles is getting to the point where he’s noticing more and more details in the pictures in his storybooks.  He asked me recently about who would close the door in the zookeeper’s house in Goodnight Gorilla, because the armadillo was last in line, and he was too small to shut the door.  Noah has started pointing at pictures in his books, and making his inquiring grunt, as if to say “What’s that? What’s that? What’s that?”  He loves the page in “Go Dogs Go” that have the on the first page, and green on the next.  

For the past several months, I’ve been supplying the teachers in Miles’ daycare classroom with pictures books with CDs.  The kids love to hear music and sounds that go along with their stories, and the teachers, I think, appreciate the break from reading...they can keep a close eye on the children and answer their questions more easily if the CD is doing the reading.  I should offer to take some into Noah’s classroom as well.

Usually, I do all my reading on my lunch hour at work.  I also get an hour of “reading” in each work day on my commute when I listen to audiobooks in the car.   I will probably not read my own book today.  I have four checked out at the moment, for myself.  I keep them handy for those surprise moments of reading time.  If the boys decide to play in the hall closet with the door closed, for instance, I might have ten minutes with my book sitting right outside the door.  The age-old parenting I encourage my children to play in a closet, so that I can have ten minutes with Bitterblue?

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I’m never really sure what the mornings will bring.  Getting out the door involves a lot of change in a short amount of time, and that can spell disaster for any one of the four of us.  On the flip side, we’re all more rested than we will be the rest of the day, so it can be one of the friendliest, warmest times of day, too.  Last Friday, we had one of the sweetest mornings I can remember.

I’m usually up first, though occasionally Nathan makes it into the shower while I’m still sleeping.  On this day, Nathan was off to work very early, so it was just me and the boys.  My first instinct when I wake is to check the boys on the iPad, to see who’s awake and who is asleep.  Two sleeping boys means I should dash through my shower quickly.  If Miles is awake, he’ll usually sing or talk to himself for a good long time.  He loves his bed.  Noah has about a ten minute window between wakefulness and wailing.  This Friday, I managed to get my shower and get dressed before getting Noah up and ready.

When Noah and I went to wake Miles up, Noah climbed into his big brother’s bed.  Miles was in the middle of telling me a story about Tracy’s new friend “Razzy,” and I was trying to make sense of the details (Miles’ daycare teacher has a friend with two horns?  Must be a pretend sort of friend...) I was also marveling that Miles was not frustrated by Noah in his bed, in fact, without really seeming to think about it, Miles reached out and rubbed Noah’s back, and then gave him a kiss.  Very nonchalantly.  Noah snuggled up and put his head on Miles’ pillow.  This melted my heart.

As I dressed Miles, I had to check his stomach for paint.  He’d scared me out of my wits the night before, with a big red splotch of paint on his tummy.  Seen in the half light of a sleeping jammie change, I thought he’d broken out in some kind of horrible rash.  I asked him if he remembered having paint on his tummy, and he said, “That’s the point, Mommy.”

I always strive to minimize the amount of time between when the boys wake and when they get breakfast.  The longer the delay, the greater the chance of grumpiness.  On this day, we made it downstairs quickly, and we had time to enjoy a rare sit-down breakfast at the table.  There was no drama about who would drink from which cup.  There was no meltdown over what food we did or did not have available in the kitchen.  Bananas, milk and dry cereal for Noah, and cereal with milk for me and Miles.  All prepared and served to a rousing serenade of “La Bamba,” courtesy of Mr. Miles.  Bliss.

Midway through the meal, Miles announced that he had to poop.  Inwardly, I groaned, as a trip to the bathroom is always a potential minefield.  I was debating whether to leave Noah in his highchair, or to get him out and bring him along, when Miles declared he was going to use the big potty, by himself.  Moreover, he said, “If YOU need help, Mommy, just call!”  Noah and I gave each other high fives.  Miles’ three year old delight spilled over and included even the placement of his step stools.  I had lined two up side by side, so he could get from the potty to the sink easily, and he exclaimed, “Mommy, that’s just perfect!”

Getting into the car was equally dreamy.  Miles did not request any television--no Bob the Builder, no Dinosaur Train, so I didn’t have to remind him that TV is only for after school.  He got his shoes on by himself, and was focused on going to the car “quickly, quickly Mommy.”  I carried a gurgly, happy Noah, and Miles held the door for us.  

We got to school early, in plenty of time to avoid the parking rush.  We stopped first at the infant room, to drop Noah off.  The other one-year-olds waved happily at us, and we were all excited to see our beloved Miss Nicole.  Miles, who was in Nicole’s class last year, is always happy to tell her what’s on his mind.  This particular morning, he treated us to a concert.  Using one of the glycerin filled tubes as his microphone, he danced and sang, while the babies gathered around to watch.  Noah climbed on top of a drum to dance along.  When it was time for Miles and I to go, Nicole offered Noah another banana (the boy loves his bananas!) so he didn’t get too sad about the goodbye.

Miles and I headed to his preschool room, and Miss Tracy, his bestest-favoritest teacher was there.  Miles ran over and gave her a big hug.  She started to tell me about the puppet they were using with the children to help them express their emotions...they were pretending that he was a student in their classroom, and using him to demonstrate particular behaviors to the children.  A goat named Randy!  A-ha!  So that’s what Miles meant earlier, Razzy, two horns.  I put Miles’ sunscreen on, give him several kisses and hugs, and one high five through the window, and I was officially on my way to work.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

31 Things

Sooo, I kinda signed up for a class.  A little one.  One of the blogs I follow, the author was teaching an online class, called 31 Things.  (Maybe the Baskin Robbins parallels drew me in?)  The general idea is to write one personal story a day, inspired by a particular word or theme that gets sent in a daily email, for 31 days.  Pair that with a photo, and you've got yourself a scrapbook.

My journalling lately has turned into a litany of how tired I am, how much there is I want to be doing, how sweet and clever the boys are, and how blessed my life is.  And how tired I am.  I still value it, the daily practice, but I've been sort of looking for a way to push myself a little bit, in the writing arena.  I have no time to speak of, to do this.  But I decided to do it anyway.

AND, if I post it here, I'll be doing double duty.  Pushing myself to write more AND filling out the content on the blog here.

Without further ado, I give you Day One: Jewelry.

(In real life, we're on Day Three...but I'll probably space them out a little bit, and reserve the right to skip a few days if I end up writing something unbloggable.  Huh, spell check doesn't seem to think unbloggable is a word.  Weird.)

I can’t remember when I decided that jewelry wearing had become a statement of self.  In junior high, I can remember planning out accessories with every different outfit, bracelets and earrings and coordinated socks.  Maybe when I started wearing my class ring every day, sometime in high school, I decided jewelry was something of a relationship, and that you should stick by your closest friends, regardless of whether they matched your socks.  

Now I wear two rings regularly.  My engagement ring and wedding band, of course.  I’ve worn those every day for six years, and my finger now has an indentation where they live.  The fact that I chose this simple, lovely ring and pointed Nathan to it says a lot to me about how we arrange our lives and our marriage.  Simply, not too worried about convention, and going with what makes us happy.  Putting them on in the morning after the shower is a daily celebration of married life, and a reminder of our amazing wedding day.

On the other hand, the ring finger, I wear my Celtic knot ring, the third or fourth iteration of this ring.  This time around, it’s solid, and worn nearly smooth.  I wear it to remind myself who I am, when I’m not wife and mama.  I’m the twenty-something single girl living in the woods writing stories in the middle of the night.  I lost one version of this ring the day I got my first “real job,” an obvious sign from the universe that I was selling out.  One night in the last year or two this new version cracked, leaving me to wonder what the universe wanted me to know this time.  I still wear it, crack and all, because that’s just life.  

From time to time I’ll wear a necklace.  One for my boys, with a mama bunny and two baby bunnies--I’m sure they’ll love that as they get to be grown up bunnies.  And my old friend, nearly as old as my knot rings, the ogham script necklace, which reads “kenavo.”  My reminder to myself, “Things will be as they should be.”  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Mr. Noah and I are nearing the end of our breastfeeding journey.  We're at the best part of the whole deal...the last few weeks of nursing, which are just for fun.  Noah gets most of his nutrition from finger foods or from his bottles, which are a mixture of formula and frozen breastmilk (and starting this week whole cow's milk!)  And I have put the pump up on a shelf, just for any last minute weaning weirdness...but my mornings and my just-before-bed-times are now officially pump free.  Which means at least an extra hour of sleep or free time a day, if not two.  So my main grudges with nursing are over, and just the best parts are in play.

Every time Miles passed some major milestone, I was able to comfort myself that we were planning on having another baby, so it was okay.  We'd be here again.  And every time Noah passes a milestone, I have to deal with the mini-heartbreaks of knowing this is the last baby.  Most of them are happy/sad occasions.  Because of course, it's cool that Noah is growing into a neat little person.  But also because we get to move something out of our house.  "Aww, last time I'll wash a little bottom in the baby tub!  Sniff.  ANNNNDDDD, WOW! Look how much space we have now that the honkin' baby bath has been moved to the garage!  How easy is it to wash both boys at the same time!!"

The breastfeeding feels like the same situation on steroids--or probably more accurate to call them hormones.  There are so many reasons I'll be glad to be finished.  I'll do a dance of joy when I toss that pump.  I'll have a whole extra shelf in the cupboards once the bottles, milk bags, nipples, and pump supplies are cleared out.  And the things I've been missing!  Caffeine!  Underwire!  Nyquil!  I'll see you soon friends!

Then there's the things I'll miss.  Getting caught up with my Google Reader in the pre-dawn hours.  Knowing Noah's getting all those juicy antibodies from my immune system.  And oh, I'll miss the metabolism boost.  I'm hoping Noah can hold out through the end of Cadbury Mini-Egg season.  But of course, the thing I'll miss the most is that sweet special connection you have with your baby when you're giving them something no one else can give them.  An almost never-fail comfort system.  The quiet moments just after waking up and just before bed.  I've been feeding him since a few minutes after he entered the world.  I have certainly had a rocky relationship with breastfeeding my boys (though Noah and I were much better at it than Miles and I were) but I will definitely miss it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


There's something I feel I need to own up to here on this blog.  A new habit of mine that I've been reluctant to discuss.  I don't know why, exactly, I feel secretive and vaguely embarrassed to admit to this, but I haven't yet spoken the words aloud to anyone.  But, since I've been thinking a lot about it, and spending a chunk of leisure time engaged in it, I feel I need to come out and tell you about it.

I've taken up......scrapbooking.

There.  I've said it.  (Well, written it, to be more accurate.)

I know, I know.  It's not all that surprising in a way.  Journalling, photos, the cut'n'paste sessions that eventually went digital.  If you squint your eyes and tilt your head, that's ALL scrapbooking.  And yet, I've had a long held, vague scorn for scrapbooking.  Who needs all that stuff mucking up their photos?  Flowers and buttons and pinking shears?  No thank you very much.  My own conversion happened rather slowly, sneakily.

Did it start with the baby books?  Probably that's a good guess.  I wanted to create lovely albums for the boys baby books.  I don't much care for the pre-packaged books you can find in stores.  I thought I'd create individual pages discussing major life events for them in Photoshop and print them using a service like Shutterfly or Mypublisher.  (I know I have links to some glorious examples of these around and about, but I'm not able to find them at the moment. Except this one, which is exceedingly glorious.)  But Nathan chose a baby book for Miles, and I fell in love with this one for Noah, and who's kidding books tend to coincide with a time in your life that is notoriously difficult for crafting endeavors.   Anyway, it was when I was thinking of baby books that I first discovered the idea of digital scrapbooking.

And then I made our honeymoon photo album, which was a nice mix of photos and text from our blog and my journals.  I scanned copies of brochures and doodads I'd saved from our trip and added those into the album as well...getting a little cut'n'paste action in.

And it was after our Yosemite trip that I started thinking I'd make some fun books for the kids, using our photos, to remind them of our trip.  That's when I really started poking around the "digi" world, discovering the beautiful supplies out there.  It's the paper that really got to me.  Beautiful digital papers.

So, I started small.  I made just a page or two, to add zest to my regular, yearly photo albums that I was already making on Mypublisher.  Nothing fancy.  Just a few words, some cheerful papers, and photos of my little guy (in the world where my photo albums are created, Noah hasn't been born yet.)  

I enjoyed making these Photoshop collages, very reminiscent of what we used to do in the Boulder Creek days, and I told myself it wasn't really scrapbooking....just making photo albums with some pretty papers.  I was still making rectangular pages.  Scrapbookers, even digital scrapbookers, tend to work on square pages.   (Though, probably, even knowing this information was probably some kind of sign that I was way too informed about scrapbooking.)

Then Project Life happened.  

I even have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the name..."Project Life."  I mean, life is life.  It's not really a "project."  And it's kind of pretentious, "Project Life."  But.  The more I read about it (because by now my feed reader had several blogs devoted to scrapbooking) the more I pictured myself happily making Project Life pages.  

What the heck is Project Life, you say?  Oh, it's all the rage.  It's all about scrapbooking "simply."  And "capturing the everyday" and so on.  The slogans are things like "Cultivate a good life and document it."  Basically, it's a collection of supplies that allow you to scrapbook, without having any natural talent for scrapbooking.  Cards for journaling and pages for holding your photos and a whole community of folks to cheer you on.  

So, as the new year rolled in, I got started.  Each week, I take notes about the glorious everyday happenings in our family, I take photos of our most "regular" moments, and I put them all together in an album, along with extraneous "ephemera" that represents our lives.  

I really like it.  

Things have escalated to the point that I have acquired a craft caddy for holding my supplies.

Not only that, but I've photographed my craft caddy, and included it as part of Week 8 in my Project Life album.  Sometimes I don't recognize myself.  But I have to say, every time I see my craft caddy in the hall closet, I smile. 

My PL page from Week 7:


Whew.  I'm glad I'm not hiding this secret any longer.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


This week, I wish I played the guitar.  I will probably vaguely wish this next week as well, but currently, it's at the front of my brain.  Twice, recently, I've dropped the boys off at school and had the chance to really appreciate how much a little gentle guitar playing can influence their temperaments.  It makes me crave evenings at home, around the fireplace (or decorative gas appliance, as we call it) strumming and having some family sing along time.

A few weeks ago, I was delivering Miles to his classroom, and his teacher, Mr. Gianfranco, was playing guitar for the children.  This is a regular "Gianfranco Morning."  When he's the early teacher, there's almost always some morning singalongs.  On this particular morning, he was practicing a new-to-him song.  I've hunted all over for it, and here's the closest rendition I can find.

I like the illustrations here, and I LOVE having the words (I've been trying to sing the song for a few weeks now) but this one is much perkier than Gianfranco's version.  His was mellow and quiet and just perfect for an early sunny morning in a preschool classroom.

Yesterday, the babies had their weekly jam session.  Miss Linda, who also plays the guitar, visits Noah's class for a half hour every Tuesday to sing for them.  I was arriving a little late, and Miles was still with me when she started.  Miss Linda is usually a big kid teacher, so Miles knows her from their shared play yard.  I told Miles we could stay for ONE song, before we had to go to his classroom.  I was holding Noah on my lap, and he started to bounce a little, in a happy guy way.  Miles, who had been whiny for the last hour, put his head on my other leg, grabbed his chewie and just relaxed in a major, major way.

Blurry photo of relaxed album.

I love that music is such a big part of their school day.  I wish I could magically learn to play the guitar.

Friday, January 20, 2012

12 in 12

A few nights ago, I was thinking about my list of New Years Resolutions.  For some reason, I got all wrapped up in the number twelve.  I don’t usually strive to have the same number of resolutions as the year (thankfully, otherwise 1999 would have been a BUSY year), but something about 2012 has caused me to sort of fixate on twelves.  It started because I was thinking about my fitness goals for the year.  I started to reign in my eating habits at the beginning of December.  I recommitted to Weight Watchers, and focused on eating like a normal, healthy person, rather than a slightly out of control pregnant/nursing mama.  Which has gone GREAT!  I seriously suffered sugar withdrawal the first few days, but since then, I’ve been feeling so much better.  Generally much less irritable, and of course, rather pleased with myself for doing good things for my body.  Anyway, I was thinking, “I will end up wearing size 12 jeans this year, I just know it.”  Which led me to the idea of “12s in 12.”  

I didn’t want 12 resolutions, because that seems like too many.  I take my resolutions seriously, and 12 is just not achievable.  So I decided to come up with a list of twelve things I am happily anticipating.  Twelve things about this year from which I expect general awesomeness.  I have to say, I sort of drew a blank after about #9, so it was a fun challenge to round out the list.  Bikes and trains came to me in the middle of the night one night.  

Turns out, “Twelve in 12” is totally a *thing* on the interwebs.  I guess people are generally suckers for a dozen of something.

So, here’s my list.

  1. Swimming lessons for Miles
  2. Noah starting to talk
  3. Movies : The Hobbit, Breaking Dawn Part II, The Hunger Games
  4. The New Library Opening
  5. Spending time on my archives project
  6. Trips and visits to meet new little people, possibly to LA and/or Portland, and a trip to Disneyworld
  7. Size 12
  8. Taking more family photos, some with Rhee
  9. Exploring local trains
  10. Noah turning 1, so we can take family bike rides
  11. All the perks of weaning Noah (though this one also makes me sad at the same time)
  12. Pitching a tent in the back yard this summer

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Volume 106

I finished transcribing Volume 106 of my journal collection last Wednesday.  I'm not transcribing them in order.  I don't want you to think this is the 106th journal I've typed up.  I don't know exactly how many I have transcribed, I've started this project so many times and in so many formats, it's hard to say for certain.  This time, however, I'm serious about it, because I have a spreadsheet.  I have a list of every month starting in 1992 (when I really started to record things) up through today, broken down by month, and I've got columns for my journals and my photos.  I note where these things are stored, both physically and digitally, and if and where they are backed up.  I've also got columns describing where the items are "browsable."  For instance, I've been scanning all my paper photos and putting them in albums, so I note where the scans are (which CDrom), whether they've been backed up onto our home server, and which photo album I could go to to browse, say, October of 1997.  That's a black Mypublisher album, if you're curious.  The photos are nearly done.  There's a gap between 2002 and 2006 (which is tricky because that is right when I made the transition from paper photos to digital cameras) and then July 2010 to present day.  My goal is to finish up the gaps this year, and then be in a place where I could build each album in "real time" more or less as the photos are taken.  Spend New Year's Eve ordering up that years Family Album.

Anyway, my spreadsheet is much bleaker in the journals columns.  There are a lot of journals to transcribe.  Last year, around February, I gave up writing on paper every night.  I switched to blog format for my "journaling."  I'm not sure if I told you that.  I started with a lot of trepidation, it almost didn't feel like writing if I wasn't using a pen, and I still have a few reservations, but for the most part I like it.  I like being able to add a photo to a particular day.  I like the pretty blog themes I can choose from.  And I like knowing that I'm not creating new journals that will require transcription.  Only the 115 or so "back issues."  One of my New Year's Resolutions this year is to transcribe six volumes.  

I have set up several private blogs for journal transcriptions, one for every five year period of time.  One ginormous blog felt unwieldy.  So, volume 106 goes into the blog for 2006-2010, and my current journalling goes into the blog for 2011-2016.  I just enjoyed a brief flip through volume 106 on the iPad.  Talk about convenience, when they are all done, I could check back on any instant from 1992 to current day from a mobile device!

I started transcribing last year, with volume 108.  I was in the last month or two of being pregnant with Noah, and so I transcribed the journals that covered the period of time when I had a month or two left of being pregnant with Miles.  It was good to reconnect with the Jenn from the last weeks of pregnancy and the first weeks of parenthood.

Volume 106 covers November 2008 to January 2009.  It starts with a trip we took to Portland and ends right before we all went to Tahoe.  One entry talks about the possibility that H will move back out to the West Coast!!  One entry describes how I will establish a photo-a-day collection for the first year of Miles' life  (that never happened). December 3rd, 2008 is the day we learned we were having a boy, that's in there.   Quite a few entries describe how many days I have left of work before maternity leave and how much school work needs to be done before the end of the quarter, and how much cleaning and organizing needs to be done around the house before the baby is born.  There's definitely a sense of  waiting, of filling time, and an attempt to prepare.  There's also a lot of recognition that life is about to change, hugely.  Pretty much every weekend day that Nathan and I spent watching TV or movies (even when I was watching for Library School Homework) ends with me describing how we won't be able to do this once the baby comes.   It's interesting to note how my fears/predictions/expectations match up with our new realities.  Certainly makes me think about what life will be like two years from now, and how that will compare with the thoughts I jot down (or type up) tonight.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Three moments...

I'm thinking about you, H!  I'm thinking about your five days of silence, I think you are on day three as I write this.  I spent a few minutes contemplating how little stillness there is in our house, and how moments of quiet usually put me to sleep very quickly.  I was thinking about this on Friday morning, right as I got in the car after I dropped the boys off at school.  Which led me to think about how, on any given day, there are as many as three moments that I can reliably count on for a brief pause.  A space of quiet and solitude.  (Others might appear randomly on any given day, but these three are part of a routine in our house, and so, I am able to blog about them.)

Predictable Peaceful Moment One:

Happens right after daycare drop off.  Mornings are a blur of activity from the moment I get up until I walk out of the gate at school.  This is my main "alone" time with both boys, and some of my favorite times, despite the craziness.  Both boys are well rested and happy to see Mama.  But it's very, very quick and busy.  So by the time I get them to school, I am buzzing. 

When I walk out of the gate and get into my car, I'm thinking about how much I love my guys, and how GOOD they are (or how clever, or how sweet, or how funny--this varies from day to day.)  I'm also thinking about how grateful I am for their teachers and their wonderful school, the place that will keep them safe all day, the place and the people that help them become more clever, sweet, funny, and GOOD.

Then, before I start the car, there is one moment (usually accompanied by a sip of coffee from my travel mug) of peace.  My brain is switching from mom-mode to librarian-mode, but there is a moment of quiet. 

Predictable Peaceful Moment Two:

This is the flip side of moment one.  At the end of the word day, I have a short hike back to my car.  I pass by the new library building and walk up a quiet street to the parking lot.  Along the way, I finish thinking about whatever work things I was thinking about in the last hour.  I start to anticipate how much fun it will be to go home to all the guys, and hear about their days.  Usually, it's dark, so I can visit with the moon and a star or too.  Lately, it's been very cold, which is nice, because otherwise I might forget it's winter.  And between when Librarian Brain switches off and Mom Brain switches on, there is another moment of stillness.

Predictable Peaceful Moment Three:

Most days we take our family walk after dark.  We head out between seven and eight, so by the time we get home, the boys are sound asleep.  Nathan gets Miles, and I get Noah.  We put the amazingly awesome double stroller in it's place in the garage and then we take the boys to their beds.  Each night as I follow Nathan up the stairs, I think about how much I enjoy our family walks (even if I wasn't excited about it when we started) and how soon it will be before the little guys will be too big to carry, even if they do fall asleep on the walks.  By necessity, it's a quiet moment, creeping up the stairs as best one can while carrying a 25 pound warm, snuzzly blob.  It's one of the family-est moments of the day, and because it's the moment before I get to start my own winding down for the day, it's delightfully calm. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

My New Desk

We're about to open a new library building, at my library.  We're closing up on January 16th, and we have our Grand Opening Celebrations on February 11th.  It's all very exciting.  And incredibly, freaking, downright, CRAZY.  Every one of my coworkers is freaking out on one level or another.  Some of them are freaking out on all levels.  And not entirely without cause.  We haven't been able to really work in our new building much, and our movers arrive to transport our collections in ten days.  Yesterday, for instance, I discovered that the magazine collection I tend doesn't, you know, FIT, so much, on the new, undeniably beautiful, new shelves that were planned for them.  They don't fit in a variety of ways.  The shelves are too small for the magazines and there are nowhere near enough shelves to house the number of magazines we receive.  This is disturbing certainly, and a bit of a challenge, and something I'm sure we'll figure out in the next few days.  Just a little unforeseen blip.  I found two or three such blips yesterday.

And so did my coworkers.  All over the place.  Everyone, in every little corner of the new building is experiencing some growing pains.  Which is to be expected.  It's like when you move into a new house, and you realize there is no full length hanging space in your master closet.  Who hasn't been there before?  Eventually, you make your peace with hanging your wedding dress in the guest closet.  Still, everyone is FREAKING OUT.

My favorite way to combat the craziness?  I like to plan my new desk.  I have a lovely new desk.  It has several great features, such as being near a window and close to Heidi, allowing us to plan stuff without getting up from our chairs.  But most of all, it's SO PRETTY.

Here's my desk now:

My kingdom, under the air vent that blows freezing air all day.

Very busy.  Lots of happy crap.

Yep, lots to look at.

Here's my NEW desk (a week or two ago...):

Luckily these chairs have been moved...otherwise it would have been 
pretty crowded.  The walls are a nice buttery yellow color, and my
computer screen will go on that arm thingy there.

My second table!  And shelves!!  Also note, I'm not wedged into the middle
of a bunch of shared workspaces, where other people will need to reach
over my head several times a day to accomplish a task!  Such luxury.

My plan is to keep things very simple and clean and tidy.  Not nearly as much happy crap this time around.  Much of that will go in my ephemera collection to be scanned.  But the things that are out and visible, oohhh, those will all be pretty.  Much like this blog, I'm going GIRLY with my desk.  No trucks or dinosaurs.  Flowers and dainty shapes.  I can't WAIT to get in there.