Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fab kids' clothing and Flight of the Conchords

Ok, this is such a wordydoodle (you know what I mean by that, right?), but:

A friend sent me a coupon [dailytea20] for the Daily Tea website, which is absolutely gorgeous clothing for children. I am restraining myself from whipping out the credit card, restraining myself from justifying a purchase by telling myself they donate to the Global Fund for Children. Restraining...hands firmly on keyboard... not reaching for wallet...

Thinking of kids reminds me of a hilarious scene from Flight of the Conchords, which we're watching from Netflix, where Jemaine sings:

"Ladies, with your babies, make your babies, shake their booties!"

They were singing a song about shaking your booty and he kept thinking about baby booties, which makes perfect, perfect sense.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


One for you from indexed, one of my favorite little blogs.

Sometimes the work/life balance goal seems totally unworkable, but to keep it in focus, even without achieving it, feels worthwhile to me. Like that old saying goes (approximately), you have to know where you're going to get there.

Keep hope alive!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Office- personality quiz

I never do personality or other quizzes online. But D had a minute to relax and wanted to see if new episodes of The Office were on We're still looking but I detoured because I saw: The Office Personality Quiz!

Maybe because I never take these damn things, I was interested. Anyway- I'm split between Jan and Ryan! The answer choices are pretty hilarious- it's worth a look just for those.

Ballot Bowl- McCain in FL

First, I have to say it's hilarious to me that CNN is dubbing its election coverage "Ballot Bowl 08." CNN and ESPN, they have so much in common now.

They showed part of Obama's speech in Birmingham the other day. One part that struck me was how recounted the NV debate and the question where the Democratic candidates were supposed to say what their biggest weakness was. He gave an answer re: his biggest weakness.

Clinton's answer sounded very much like the oo-oo-pick-me high school student that my friend Kevin has compared her to. She said something like "I'm just so impatient- to help the American people!!!" (yes, three exclamation points) Edwards also answered as if he were thinking "I know what you mean! You mean you really want to hear about my strengths!"

Which reminded me a lot of Flight of the Conchords "Business Time" (not safe for work!), where Jemaine croons "when you say 'is that it?!' I know what you really mean is 'awww, yeah, that's it!'"

SF Chronicle has endorsed Obama. Among their reasons- he answers the damn question.

But this post was about McCain's speech in FL. He was endorsed there, in person, by none other than Independent (or is that actually Decline-To-State) Senator Joe Lieberman! Y-i-k-e-s. While I watched, McCain took two questions from the audience. One woman asked, "Can we have prayer in schools?" I didn't catch his answer, but it was short. Must have been something like "Sure thing!" The next question was, "How far can we trust Saudi Arabia?" Uh huh. I know you're also wowed by the staggering depth and intellectual curiosity of the questions.

On to Feb 5!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

a block of time! without the kid!

I have a huge project to do for one of my consulting jobs. It is an amazing thing and has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people.

So D took sweet P out of the house for a couple of hours. And I don't know what to do! I feel guilty for not using the time efficiently, and guilty for not being with them.

Makes not much sense, right? But at least I can think clearly enough to realize:

1. I need to stop feeling guilty because it's keeping me from doing my work.
2. I need to simply feel grateful for the time and space to do this wonderful work.

Sometimes I need to step back and allow myself to benefit from the help others give me. You too?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hawaii on a dime, according to the NYT

The NYT has an enticing article about Hawai'i-- "enticing" because it makes visiting the Islands sound like a reasonable, possible proposition.

Even frugal.

D bought us tickets to HI for Christmas. No lodging or rental car, just the plane tickets that were on a good sale. We are thrilled- it's the first time for both of us. (Which I feel a little shame for, having lived in CA for most of my life. But still! Better now than later, or never.)

But we've been pondering the best way to stay-- big oceanfront resort, charming B&B? Camping? (We're bringing the toddler with us, so I'm not *really* considering camping for a week. Maybe a night, but would it be worth it to lug all our stuff or rent it there? Nahhh.)

The article mentions a fabulous sounding B&B that's affordable and provides snorkeling gear with the room. And all the fruit you can eat hanging off the trees-- it sounds like you could feel right at home quickly. I'm realizing that this vision of Hawaii is the most appealing one to me-- close to the land. The big box resorts offer a kind of luxury, and sometimes that appeals, but in a place like Hawaii, I think I lean toward a more intimate kind of beauty. (If I were going to Las Vegas, I'd probably lean the other way.)


Just because she's so delicious, here are some new photos:

on the Berkeley campus

eating broccoli and brown rice

Friday, January 25, 2008

Childcare costs- are you affected?

MP Dunleavy on MSN writes about women and money. I was toodling around that website and found this short article on childcare costs and how to offset them.

But what started this whole soul search on childcare costs was this article from MSN all about "the childcare crisis." Take a look- what do you think?

Are you feeling this? They're saying that the cost of childcare is now outpacing the cost of food. The cost of FOOD! This is a choice I don't want to be facing. And I'm not just yet, but it's on the horizon.

Paloma isn't in childcare right now-- we decided that we would live with my parents and sock away every penny that would have been spent on childcare and rent. And that I would earn what I could working from home.

Believe me when I say this arrangement has its ups and downs. Living with your parents is not an easy proposition. But the cost savings is significant. And my work-at-home career has taken some surprisingly interesting and positive turns.

But I can see there will be a time in the near future when we may enroll Paloma in childcare. There's a center at D's workplace that's excellent. It's also around $1000/month for her to be full-time, and there's really no part-time option there. The big plus is, of course, that she's near him. The minus is obvious-- $1000 a month is a lot for us. It'd be a huge dent in our savings toward a house (housing crisis aside). I respect that quality childcare is going to cost me, and I recognize that others pay a lot more, but I'm feeling the pinch at $1000.

Would I be earning enough for it to be "worth it"? Well, right now I don't feel like I am. But I'm looking ahead about two years down the line, when we want to have another kid. Childcare costs are only going up. Maybe I should set up a separate savings account just for that.

Has anyone done this, or tackled the cost of childcare somehow? I'd love to hear how others make this work, or work around the need for childcare.


My friend Hannah posted and it reminded me that I should mention the accessibility of these sites. I'll include that info to the best of my ability in future posts.

For Salt Point, south of Mendocino- this particular tiny beach is not accessible beyond its medium sized parking lot. There's a narrow, sandy, rocky path between the lot and the beach. But of course, the good news is you're on the one and only Pacific Coast Highway, and Salt Point is hardly your only stopping option. There are incredibly beautiful places to park and marvel all along your journey, including just by the side of the road.

Mendocino itself, as a very small town, has accessibility challenges -- broken and some steep sidewalks. But there are plenty of small streets and charming mom and pop stores that seem better designed for wheel traffic, strollers and chairs alike.

being sorry

This article from Slate is a funny, thoughtful take on forcing your child to apologize. I thought I'd disagree with its premise-- that it might not be the best thing to encourage your child to apologize if your kid doesn't mean it. After all, is there not some worth to practicing how to apologize?

There is, I think. But I also loved and appreciated the idea that kids can come to understand how others feel, to empathize, and to truly be sorry for hurting another.

Modeling this empathetic behavior is fundamentally important. I think so because I realize it was not modeled for me by my own parents, but I learned it early in other friendships and relationships. And D and I apologize to each other so easily-- somehow, in our loving relationship, it's so simple and painless to acknowledge the truth when one of us is wrong. What a difference it would have made, though, to see my own mother and father treat each other with empathy.

I am mindful of this as I mother Minkie, of the importance of sincerity and empathy, of lovingly helping her grow into the wonderful person she is. One who will do her best to reach out to others, to empathize.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lake Del Valle

The lovely Lake Del Valle is in Livermore, and it's gorgeous. You drive past wineries and family farms to get there. We stopped at Concannon Winery on our way back, which was the perfect way to cap off a day at the regional park. Even on the day we went, which was rainy and gray, we had a great time.

As you can see, from this entrance the lake isn't particularly accessible to wheels. The edge of the lake is gravelly. And from the EB Parks website: "All bathroom buildings and many water fountains are wheelchair accessible. There is one wheelchair accessible camp site within the park. There are many paved paths such as West shore trail and Portion of the East shore trail throughout the park but very few flat trails."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

some days are sunny, some are not

Today is a gray day. I have a ton of work to do. I have to produce some results before the end of the week. It's so different from the work of parenting, which is constant but where the "results" are -- well, not as concrete and immediate as a memo.

There's a lot of stuff to figure out. Not the least of which is what sweet P should eat for a snack, and whether she's napped enough.

Sigh- the grayness of the day isn't helping. But, quit my bellyaching and get 'er done, right? There is a certain deliciousness to completing a task, especially when I look at P and realize that I will never be done parenting. But in that case, that's a marvelous comfort. There are milestones and markers but no absolute deadline.

It's interesting how I have to hold onto both those truths.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gymboree- the review

Well, we did it. We signed sweet P up for Gymboree here in the burbs. I wasn't sure I'd do it- why pay money for throwing around a few balls and scarves and singing a few songs?

Ah, but we have a very social girl. I mean, she wasn't all up in other kids' faces, she kind of observed. But the kid likes people. And spending some organized time with other kiddos and parents is just great for her. So we went for it.

She loved the music, the fabulous variety of balls, the little clown puppet that kissed her cheek, the parachute, the dancing. And *I* liked it. It was nice to be able to have special time with her like that.

If you're on the fence about this kind of thing, try a class out and see how it fits. And if you find something that's especially good for 15 month olds, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

where'd everyone go? Mendocino?

I've renamed this blog WordyDoodles! Come on over, y'hear?

I'm holding onto PacificMod though, because there are special things about living in the West, near the Pacific, with a love of mod style, that will make their way here.

What kinds of things, you sagely ask. Well, I will tell you.

Let's start with the Pacific part.

Here's a photo from one of the many gorgeous, tiny inlets along the Mendocino coast. We're just a short way south of the town of Mendocino, where you will find the hottest mustard and the freshest berries, and not half bad wines. :)

If you've never taken a drive up the coast of Northern CA, it is well worth it. You enjoy the sweeping ocean vistas reminiscent of SoCal, but the road takes you through the redwoods as well. There's a bit more wildness here. If you need to stop for gas, it will probably be in a small, one gas pump kind of town. This is a trip to take with all your senses.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

minkie update

I realized I haven't posted updates lately about sweet P, so without further ado: she's teething more (sad, molars!), saying more ("what dat? what dat? ooohhhh..."), imagining and playing more. It is rewarding to watch her learn and communicate her unique perspective with us! She is *hilarious*.

A Christmas shot.

Here we are at a "Santa House" in Saginaw or Bay City, MI. There was a long line in the cold to see this mythical elf, and a bunch of animated staff to look at while you waited. You might be able to tell that Minkie wasn't super excited about it (and she was downright terrified at Santa, for which I blame her not one tiny bit). It's nice to have a family photo though. And I am REALLY looking forward to when we will be at our own home for Christmas, with our own traditions.

the great reminder

Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny day here. We made a decision to do no work, but to enjoy the day thoroughly. And we did! We ate the best Chinese food ever (I'm talking delicate sauces, perfect seasonings- not fast food, but fabulous). We had Ici ice cream for dessert, which is the most perfectly beautiful SOLE (sustainable organic local ethical- I didn't make that up) dessert ever.

And we ran into an old dance teacher of mine. His street clothes are dapper, always with a carnation in his lapel. He is the male version of Debbie Allen in "Fame" (carries and uses a big stick in class; yells things like "You will pay in sweat!" and means it; will make you do something 100 times and if your muscles are shaking, 100 times more). I haven't been in his studio in several years now.

He met D and admired P a lot, and asked who was going to be the strict one, because one of us had to, because when she looked up with "those anime eyes" and said please, someone would have to stand firm. And it ain't gonna be Daddy!

I said I had just been thinking about him and class, and how I'd *die* if I took class again. He put an arm around my shoulder firmly and replied, "Don't go looking for things to complain about! You have a beautiful life, a gorgeous daughter. You're a great looking couple."

I feel like I will never forget that. What a perspective! Instead of mourning the things my body won't do again (and what things! He could whip anyone into willowy, strong shape, just perfect for flying), I could celebrate everything right in my life. Instead of being ambitious and wanting to do more, I could savor the beautiful day and the happiness I have with my family. And so I do.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Jimmy Carter is having some feelings. Discuss!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Because every parents needs a minute of pure beauty

This may be the most beautiful pas de deux I have ever seen. The choreography is stunning. Yuan Yuan Tan is an artist of the highest caliber. (Not to mention her amazing partner.) You will be so glad you took two minutes out for this.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hillary vs. Barack (not to mention John!)

Ok, I'm writing this post because I HAVE to hear from others about this (if you're voting in the Democratic primary). D and I are big Obama supporters. He's articulate, he's got credibility on the community, law, and legislative fronts, and his message about "addition not division" seems to be resonating (which means we may actually see helpful legislation get passed in a hopefully Democrat-controlled Congress).

Obama clearly swept Iowa. But in my opinion, Clinton won that debate. It's weird to me how the press focuses on how she responded to Edwards in the debate, making it out to seem like some tirade. I thought she sounded strong but reasonable, just articulating her position and emphasizing her experience. She seemed really in control of her message and tone. Edwards was passionate and clear, so I'd put him second, and Obama third.

So how is Obama polling 10 points ahead of Clinton?

I'm still an Obama fan, but Clinton did a great job of swaying me. I'd love to hear your insights and opinions on this.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

best gift from the holidays

The hectic holiday travel and illnesses are thankfully coming to a close. We're gearing up for a new year, new routines. I'm looking back at the holiday season and reviewing my best gift.

Was it that aqua polyester pants and off the shoulder ensemble? Perhaps the trivia card game? What about the snide, vitriolic right-wing book tearing up my home state?

No, friends, though these each offer something unique, they weren't the Best Gift.

The best gift was the reminder that it is possible- and necessary- to find quiet spaces in the least likely nooks and crannies of time. That when I'm busiest, I find a moment to breathe, rebalance, find calm in:

- the ten seconds walking in from the garage through the laundry room
- a short bathroom break from my laptop
- taking five minutes to prepare a salad or omelet for lunch instead of eating standing up in front of the fridge
- going up or down the stairs

It's not a huge revelation. But maybe, maybe these little moments of peace will provide me just enough cushion to relieve the blows, setbacks, aches and pains of the day.

It's a very good way to begin 08.

Friday, January 04, 2008

rain, rain, go away. Or maybe stay another day.

It's day 2 of a major, major storm in our area. It already feels like it's been a week without sunshine, though. Winter days are always about the weak, anemic sunshine-- at its strongest, it makes you yearn for just a little more warmth and light. But it hints at good things to come. This fierce dark gray sky coupled with nearly horizontal rain and wind doesn't bother with attempts at niceties. It's pure drama- makes for good theater, and then begins to feel suffocating.

It's inspiring to see how P deals with it. We were keeping her inside since she's sick, anyway. She's loved watching the rain fall, the branches blow. Then she invents a new game with newspaper, a cardboard box, a few blocks. I was watching her stay busy with her important work, and suddenly remembered a few projects I could work on.

The rain is a pain, but it's sometimes nice to be forced to do things I might otherwise never get around to, and to invent new ways to play.

Workplace parenting

Can it be done? According to this TIME magazine article, it already has been-- with a high degree of success.

As the face of the American workplace shifts to accommodate telecommuters, part time workers, virtual offices and the like, this shift toward bringing babies to the workplace is not only a welcome option, it's necessary to prevent turnover and boost morale. Not every parent will want to take this option, but for the ones who do, it's a lifesaver. I'm lucky to have found two part time jobs with great online nonprofits, which means I have the flexibility of working at home. But if I were working at a brick and mortar office, I'd definitely want one that respects work-life balance-- which sometimes means that work and life bleed into each other, and sometimes are very separate.

The age of the single-income family with one parent at home is pretty much over, especially in this tough economy. The more workplaces do to embrace the new way we work, the more flexibility they offer employees with time (everyone's number one commodity), the more dynamic and vital a workforce they'll have. That's good for everyone-- babies, employees, employers.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year! *cough, sneeze*

Happy 2008, everyone!!! The new year has kicked off with some exciting stuff around here.

1. I've wrangled TWO work from home opportunities with two incredible nonprofits: and (Pharos Project). I couldn't be more happy about getting to work with the smart, motivated, creative people at these orgs.

2. D's workload will be about 80% of what it was last quarter, and in spring it will be probably 75% of what it was, so we never have to survive that madness again. It was awful.

3. P is dancing, running, babbling, playing, coloring... looks like we've got a toddler!

4. We discovered beautiful Lake Chabot, which if you're in the East Bay, I highly recommend. It is such a hidden jewel. Castro Valley, who would have thought?

And then, the not so exciting...

1. We came back from visiting D's relatives in the Midwest with three raging colds. It was AWFUL. I have to admit- I was annoyed (and, at 3 am as I held a crying, coughing, vomiting baby, I was enraged) that my inlaws did very little to keep their sickness contained. Because the part of the vacation that was supposed to be just the three of us having fun turned into the three of us sleeping, coughing, mouth breathing and generally miserable.

I am generally a very positive person, but I decided to give myself permission to be mad about this. It just isn't right to expose others, especially babies and young kids, to crap. Crappy germs, crappy attitudes. We did what we could to protect her, clean off her hands, and keep her out of the line of fire, but it just happened.

2. So, D is going back to work and we miss him a lot already.

But all in all, I'm very excited about 2008. Because I have ONE resolution (which I'll blog about more in my Parenting Moment of Zen blog)--


I have decided that my true calling isn't to *work* for a good cause- it's to have a good time for a good cause! So, my plan is, after we get a house, I'm going to set up my home office, and also hold fundraising parties, but most importantly-- I want to have monthly salons to invite friends who write, make art, craft, journal, etc., to have tea and snacks and a nice space to work. Almost like a monthly retreat.

I'm really excited for this. Good times ahead!