Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Birthday 'Shroom!

carriage ride
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
Dear 'Shroom,

I can't believe you've turned five today! In some ways I can remember the little peanut who swam in his newborn clothes like it was last month, and in other ways, I wonder "has it only been five years"? Yes, you have definitely changed my life, turned it upside down, inside out, and everything in between.

Even having known you your entire life, I still feel I'm learning about who you are, what makes you tick, what makes you sad, and what brings you joy. And quite honestly, I don't think I'll ever stop learning about who you are.

There are some things that I DO know about you. Things that may change over time and things I may even forget as you get older. So, I'm writing them down so that I can remind myself when I'm older and my memory fails me.

You aren't the quickest in your class, you certainly aren't the most talkative, and you most definitely aren't the tallest. There are different qualities that I believe describe you just fine. You are the most caring, kind-hearted, and generous five year old I know. When you laugh, others can't help smile and laugh with you. When others cry, you can't help but comfort them in your gentle ways.

Your little sister Lolli was so sad that she didn't have a birthday to celebrate today--and even sadder that there were no birthday gifts for her to unwrap. As eager as you were to rip the paper off your presents, you generously offered your gifts to your sister to help you unwrap. You didn't even mind when she tore the paper off before you had lifted a corner.

And the animal crackers. No matter how many I pack for you in your lunch bag, you always come home from school with exactly two saved crackers. One for me and one for Daddy.

I've never told you this but I have two very special moments in my day. One of them is walking home from school with you. You tell me how much you've missed me and how glad you are to see me. But you don't use words. I know it by the way you kiss the back of my hand that you're holding. And the second special moment in my day is when you give me a super wet juicy kiss good-night.

One day you will learn your ABC's and one day you'll be able to write your name all by yourself. But there are many things you've already mastered that many of us adults have yet to learn. Kindness. Sensitivity. Sincerity. Compassion.

You have grown tremendously these past five years. But because of you, I've grown so much--in ways I never would have imagined. You are indeed a very special boy. Happy birthday!

I love you,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Search Continues

Now that we've been here in RB for over two months (has it only been two months?! why does it seem so much longer?), Air Boss has been going through some real Dunkin' Donuts coffee withdrawals. Sure, we have Starbucks on every block (sometimes two on a block if you can't spot the other location from where you're parked) but their coffee isn't cheap. And they don't sell donuts.
Well, we were heading back home and were within a mile of our place when Air Boss declares, "I wish there was a Dunkin' Donuts around here. I really miss their coffee." We hadn't seen any of those orange and pink sherbert-colored signs anywhere here in the South Bay but did that mean that there weren't any DD's in LA? I pulled out our friend Garmin and did a search for Dunkin' Donuts. Whoa! There is one 2.7 miles from where we live. The kids are asleep in the back. It's a gorgeous Sunday. We're two feet from parking the car in front of our house. Let's go!
On the short ride to our first Dunkin' Donuts establishment in MONTHS, Air Boss and I talk excitedly about how this would be such a taste of home. Should we get some donuts with his coffee? How about a dozen? Oh the kids will be so happy to see a box of their favorite donuts on the kitchen table. I even programmed the location in the GPS. Air Boss talked about taking a "morning commute" to DD for his morning cup of coffee (currently his commute is 3 feet long to his desk next to the bed).
What?! What is this "DK Donuts"? When did Dunkin' Donuts do a logo change? And since when did they start calling themselves "DK"? We were perplexed as we parked in the lot where Garmin led us. Air Boss was still hopeful so I placed my order of donuts with him. The kids were still napping and as I waited for Air Boss to return, I could ALMOST taste the soft fresh donuts in my mouth.
Shortly - too soon - Air Boss was back at the car - empty-handed.
"What - did they run out of donuts?" I asked.
DK Donuts was in no way affiliated with Dunkin' Donuts and other DK establishments (I had never heard of DK Donuts so this bit was useless to me). This was an independently owned and operated mom & pop donut shop.
Oh the major disappointment as we slowly pulled out of the parking lot and returned home dejected and depressed. So, the search continues on. We continue to be, not by choice, a donut-free household. And yes, we did ask Garmin where the closest Dunkin' Donuts was and it looks like we'll have to travel over 300 miles to get our caffeine and donut fix in San Jose.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Autumn and . . . Palm Trees?!

I think fall is one of New England's prettiest seasons and I'm just about missing it now. Just this past weekend, I managed to watch (simultaneously thanks to Air Boss hooking up a smaller secondary TV next to the large big screen) both the Red Sox and Patriots game. Some of the fans in Fenway and Gillette Stadium were wearing knit hats and fleece jackets. I started missing home when I saw that.

Okay, so I'm not one to really wear knit hats (unless I'm out shoveling snow in windy blizzard conditions), but I do love my fleece. I could almost smell the brisk cold air in Boston, taste the hot apple cider that comes out in September, see the first few leaves give a teasing foretaste of the autumn colors to come next month. Nothing like that out here. Although I have noticed the mornings have been a bit cooler.

So, feeling cold this morning, I put on my zip up fleece before I walked 'Shroom to school. He and I were wearing our hoodies, long pants (me still in flip flops as I will most likely wear them year round). We walked to the end of the driveway and saw The Others. The Others were wearing shorts and T's - two were even brazen enough to be wearing tank tops! I looked at myself and realized, I have truly become wussified (see February 19th's post for an "official" definition of this word).

The air was nippy and the temps were probably in the mid to upper 60's. The Others didn't seem cold or fazed by the cooler morning temps. I knew that by noontime, I would be wearing shorts, but still - I felt a bit self-conscious.

I looked up the sky and saw the big droopy palm leaves from the tall skinny trees outlining the block in our neighborhood. Nope - not quite the same. No majestic maples, no old and ostentatious oaks, no barky birches. I even miss the prickly pine trees.

Well, I'm in L.A. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to leave the fleece at home. At least I can hide the long-johns under my jeans.


Monday, September 10, 2007

What I've Learned in School

Okay, so I'm not the one technically in school but I am learning things I had never expected to learn by sending 'Shroom to school. Things such as:

- the no backpack thing for kindergarteners

- no open-toe or open heel shoes (this includes Crocs and sandals) and NO BOOTS! (well, what do Southern Californians know about boots?)

- jogging every week by running laps during school (as far as I know, 'Shroom didn't sign up for track but I guess this could be a standard California P.E. requirement); 'Shroom will get a mark on his hand for every lap he runs - I'll have to report back how many marks he gets

- supplying an earthquake kit for each child in school; let's just say I've made my first earthquake kit EVER in my life (in case you're wondering what goes into an earthquake kit, feel free to check out "quakekare[dot]com")

- periodic fire and earthquake drills (apparently standing underneath doorways during a quake is no longer considered safe - see? even this old dog can learn new tricks!)

- homework in kindergarten which will start shortly- somehow I don't recall doing homework when I was 4 or 5

Today 'Shroom came home from school saying that he didn't like kindergarten. Then he started crying. Oh boy - I haven't even told him about the homework and running laps yet . . .

Friday, September 7, 2007

"Bye Bye Lolli"

Have a good day!
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
After three months of uninterrupted and undivided interactive play with sister Lolli, 'Shroom said good-bye and attended his first day of kindergarten.

Since school starts at 8 AM, I knew I was going to have a tough time getting the kids up in the morning. I did not expect tears from 'Shroom or seemingly lifeless body-flopping (on the floor) from Lolli. Okay, maybe Lolli's "I'm-too-tired-to-get-up-so-I'll-throw-myself-on-the-floor-in-a-lifeless-heap" was consistent with her dramatic nature but still, getting the kids ready to leave the house was like pulling teeth. The nightmarish sleep didn't help, I'm sure.

The school isn't new but it is to us! All of us along with Air Boss and his camera walked down our driveway and directly across the street to the parent drop-off parking lot (how's that for a long walk to school?) and were immediately joined by scores of parents and their young students. All summer long, the streets were quiet and now there was nothing but excited chatter from students and parents alike. Although there were tons of wheelie backpacks, 'Shroom went to school without backpack or a lunch bag. Apparently kindergarteners are prohibitted from bringing backpacks of any sort to school (health/back issues?) and are instead provided with a large laminated envelope for homework assignments and notices.

As we approached the kindergarten wing, we saw 'Shroom's peers with their camera-toting parents. It was great to see the excitement in 'Shroom's face as we made our way into the classroom. Miss P barely looked a day beyond grad school but she was full of smiles and warm hello's.

The school bell rang (we discovered that we are so close to the school that we can hear the bell ringing from our house throughout the school day) and we hugged and said good-bye.

Later that day when 'Shroom was home and eating lunch (he gets out at 11:30 AM), I learned that he had made a flying submarine with Legos (because he couldn't cook - only three kids were allowed in the kitchen), he had crackers, grapes, a muffin and milk for snack (I swear, I did feed him breakfast before we left!), the girls and boys got into separate lines to see which gender had more (more girls), and he had told his teacher that she looked like a dog. Yikes! We'll have to see if we're invited back to school!

[Incidentally, Miss P does NOT look like a dog. 'Shroom has just recently been in a dog phase which includes carrying around the house a little stuffed dog under his arm.]

So . . . the little guy survived and loved it. We'll have to see how it goes from here and now I must wake him up. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Disney Is Banned

in our household, that is. Lately the kids have been into watching Disney films - more of Lolli's doing since she is into all the princess stuff. Her latest favorites have been Cinderella and Snow White.

Yesterday at the library, we checked out "Cars" for 'Shroom (he loves the red race car Lightening McQueen) and "Snow White" for Lolli. They couldn't wait for me to read to them "Snow White" as they had just seen the movie on video during our San Jose trip last week.

They knew all about the evil queen who turned herself into an old hag to fool Snow White. They watched the movie and had me read to them the book. We talked about the bad queen and they understood everything. Besides being scared during the movie when the queen turned into the old hag, 'Shroom and Lolli were totally fine when I read them the story (for the nth time!).

Last night, we made it a point for all of us to go to bed early as 'Shroom's first day of kindergarten would be the next day (this morning). Despite the good intentions of getting a good night's sleep, we all slept horribly. Between the two kids, Air Boss and I must have gotten up to calm crying kids at least four to five times last night (seemed like we had a newborn in the house). 'Shroom and Lolli were crying throughout the night because they were "afraid of the bad witch."

Well, now I know better. No more Disney stories that have bad witches or anything remotely scary - at least until the kids get over this latest phase. Thanks to Disney, perhaps 'Shroom will fall asleep in kindergarten on his first day of school!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Visiting the Valley

Stanford University
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
. . . Silicon Valley, that is.

We've just returned from visiting family and friends in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area where we spent the past five days. San Jose was in the mid to upper 90's and I had assumed it was much warmer up there than down in LA. Well, I soon found out that LA was (and still is) in the midst of a heat wave. Even mild RB reached the upper 80's today. I'm so spoiled already.

Our road trip started out painfully slow as we (surprise!) hit traffic in LA. Our six hour trip quickly became seven hours as Garmin (our GPS) predicted 63 minutes of traffic delays. Unfortunately, it was correct.

Well, our trip and stay in the Valley included a visit to Coalinga (where the entire city reeked of fresh manure on a hot summer day), a shopping outing to Gilroy where garlic wafted through the air (home of the Annual Garlic Festival), a walk through picturesque Stanford University (see photo above) where four weddings took place in the course of one afternoon, and a hilly drive to UC Berkeley's (Air Boss' alma mater) cyclotron - the world's first atom splitting machine.

It was weird (for lack of a better word) for me to return to Redondo Beach and have it be "home." My dad would frequently say on the last leg of a vacation, "the best part of a trip is coming home." Well, RB doesn't quite feel like home to me but I guess in the absence of home being anywhere else, I guess it's the closest thing.

Well, welcome (sort of) home. The summer is over and school is starting. Hope you all have a great new (academic) year!