couch surfing road trip

WHEN KIDS TAKE PICTURES   I go to a restaurant and I want to eat in peace and not be thrown out so I give my kid my phone.  Later I find many, many photos on my phone that I delete.  But sometimes there is a gem.  Perhaps I should an curate art show.  “Shots my kid took that were actually good.” I bet, you have found some good ones as well?  By the way… Who puts Venetian plaster on a ceiling? When you travel as we just did, you do go to restaurants more than at home.  So it’s good to have your batteries charged. The ones in your phone, for your human battieries, you get out of town.  But, when you are watching the dollars, HOW?  We did a couch surfing through California trip.  It helps if your friends live in cool places.  Our first stop is with the Abascals at their Vines of the Marycrest winery.  Victor family knew my family so when our kids play we are gazing upon  a third generation friendship.  They live in Paso Robles and we speed up the road so we could get to the town square in time for Paso’s first concert in the park of the summer. vines of the marycrestI love this picture, except I’m not sure why I have my hand like that.  Perhaps my hand wanted more wine since it’s pointing in the direction of Vic’s winery.  We are Culver City kids and he planted his first vines on our hill at the top which is called Marycrest Manor. Objectively, the wine is great and I’m a wine snob.  You can’t find it in stores unless you live in Paso, so order some!   We use to serve one of his reds, “Heart of Glass” at Campanile when it was, well, you know… open. The most recent vintage of Heart that I tasted has a great smokey taste to it. Now, in general I’m not a fan of California wines.  I tend to like the taste of old world wines more.  More restrained.  Victor has found the balance of restraint with the fruit flavor we get from our California reds.  Plus, his rose’ “Summertime” is so good I bought a case and passed them out like Johnny Appleseed as host presents to all those who put us up for the night.  Another reason my first stop is his place.  I’m a white wine nut, usually French whites, which, I use to be surprised by, are often cheaper than California whites.  I like the dry, crisp, mineral nature of them.  However, once again Culver City boy has made a white I love.  Appropriately titled, “At Last”.  You can see he likes music.  None of the overly fruit, buttery Cal syrup I can’t stand.  Goes great with fish, cheese, the leftovers I’m eating right now standing in front of my fridge.  Oh, we’ll skip that. I love the dry air up in Paso there and we walked the vineyards before hitting the road to San Fran which has cold damp air that I don’t love.  vines of the marycrest All 26 acres was covered in almond trees and Victor took them out himself.  So, you could buy some crap wine that has the muscle to get into  a supermarket, but why?  Often for the same price you can buy quality stuff from people who don’t have the marketing budget.  Please, don’t tell me there is good wine at Trader Joe’s.  There isn’t. vines of the marycrest moms who love wine   Back in the car the next day.. if I’m not driving I watch a movie with the kids.  “Nanny McPhee” is good.  Guess Rex had seen enough.colin firthroad trip with kids There is never enough time to see all the friends I want to in Nor. Cal.  I lived there for 12 years.   We had expensive dinner in SF.  It was good, largely seafood, but I was surprised at the cost.  No wonder I cook at home more often than not these days.  The problem is where to source good ingredients.  My local markets fish, eh at best.  I just got ground beef that was neither smart, but certainly final, the final time I buy meat from them.  I digress. We save on a hotel though.. a friend left the keys to her SF pad for us ( she was in Tahoe).  My kids were so charmed by the small balcony and little back yard. san fran with kids I think Rex started to go nihilistic urbannihilistic child I tried to explain that this was a good amount of space for the City, but they didn’t care.  They perched themselves on the tiny metal balcony and watched people go by. Time to head back to the country…. ( Next post)

early summer road trip

I usually save my big family road trips for the end of summer, but a few factors forced it to June, which was fine.  I’m just back with, a yet again, dirty car and a great appreciation for the Golden state and the power of junk food to quiet children at a nameless truck stop.

mendocino

It’s always nice to come home and realize you might have a pair of clean underwear in your future, but even in a quiet moment in my back yard there is the hum.  The constant running of something, many things in a city.  I got to taste the clarity of quiet and I’m still thirsty for it.

That’s why we endure the dirty cars and the truck stops.

good moms don’t have clean cars

This vintage coolmom was the tip of the ice berg.  (Look at little Vivien!  Where is that cute day dress I’m wearing?  Oh, yeah it got stained and I had to throw it away and the makers of the dress went under during the recession, now I remember).

Now, with two kids and permissive snack schedule my car cannot even be detailed.  What gets me is when the kids complain about it being messy!  Um, I let you eat food in here, of course it’s dirty!. Plus, muddy shoes, lost wrappers, etc.  There is so much spilled milk in that car that a friend of Vivien has strong food allergies had to pull out her inhaler after I picked her up for a playdate.  That’s bad.  I’m making a child sick with my messy car.

It use to be glorious.  in ’06 it was a brand new Lexus.  I still love the way it drives and it’s PAID for so I’m driving it till it can’t drive no more.  Recently, Lexus wrote me saying it would give a great deal on a new Lexus if I traded this one in.  Huh, they don’t know what they are asking for back!  Do they have an ice scraper to get the baked on crud off the back seat? Do spilled drinks in the cup holders mixed with sun screen ever come back out?  Why would I take on a car payment for a car that will remain a cheerio wagon for years to come.

Now, I get why as soon as I left for college my mom had a new set of living room furniture delivered.  Oy, don’t get me going on my couch…..one day I’ll torch it.

is Summer over yet?

Day 4 of my son home from school.  Yesterday was fine.  I took him on my quarterly golf outing.  He was pretty good and it’s not a morning I expected to be productive.  My golfing buddy was charmed by him and he loved washing the balls.washing golf balls

We went out to lunch and he was good and tuckered after 9 holes.  As we neared home I thought, “boy he sure is quiet.”  When I turned around I saw this is how he had gone to sleep.funny kid pictures

But, today the mischievous, wild man is working me. While I try to work, he climbs on me, screams in my ear, I got smacked around a little.  I took away his TV time ( mistake, made it worse), tried a time out.  He got out.  I finally put him in the backyard and shut the door. Lordy, I’m just trying to work a bit, trying to make a couple of nickels in a world that charges way too much for health insurance. Wait, not world.  Country.

Little scamp is now ringing the back door bell which makes the dog bark loudly.  It’s like he wants me to be poor.

Keep it up kid, enjoy community college.

The Graduate

preschool graduationMy last baby has graduated from pre school. It was a lovely affair held in our back yard.  He had been at the school for nearly 3 years.  The hat wasn’t part of the ceremony, but dang it, I wanted to see one on his head so I ordered it up.graduation party for kids

I was part of the planning, which was a piece of cake compared to what I was doing the next day, spearheading our neighborhood block party.  We had a great taco vendor I knew provide the food.  I didn’t want anyone to worry about bringing a dish.  We set up a little amphitheater in the deeper part of my yard.

home party for pre schoolersWe asked parents to bring blankets to sit on and collected pictures of the kids through the years they had been together and hung them on string with cloths pins.  I cannot take credit for this idea, but it is one to steal.

preschool graduation

school guinea pig is in the cage

The kids marched in from behind the little chairs singing with their teachers Dewi and Douglas the chorus to Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate”.  We sang with them. Dewi has been with Rex since he was 2 and half. That’s a heartfelt hug. When it was Rex’s turn to get his diploma I delighted in not only his accomplishment, but at how happy his friends were to see him go up and get hugs from the teachers and get his honor. He also got the book they had been keeping on him while he was there.  When his teacher spoke about working with the kids she teared up and I cried enough to make a bit of sound.pre school record

The kids played, adults drank wine, we had an ice cream truck.  Couldn’t have been better.

Though it’s a sweet little school it’s an unattractive semi industrial area of Hollywood.  It always a challenge to park as big swaths of the street are designated commerical loading for the production companies.  It has been an ongoing battle and I thought we had made head way with hour Councilman that we need Green zone, that gives you 10 to 15 minutes to drop off.  We also had a parking officer who let up on us this last year.  One can’t drop off little kids casually.  There is also an abandoned yard next to it ( Thanks to the DWP who own it and have left it to rot)  Though in the the course of their schooling the kids and teachers took little walking field trips and found the cool bits in the neighborhood.  Then the kids photographed their favorite thing.  Quite rightly my son took a picture of a fireman. That’s my boy. So, it wasn’t in rolling hills, it was ok.

after one year of preschool

after one year of preschool

On Monday they had a last half day.  When I picked him up I gave out hugs and presents to his teachers.  This was it.  I wouldn’t ever be a pre school mom again.  Door shut.  It’s a sweet time of life and I’m glad I got to experience it again through my kids.  I appreciated more with them then I did in my own time.  Which is why I think Rex is so wise to see it’s value now.  As we drove to a play space that a smart mom had set up for us to meet and have a pizza party Rex shared this:

“Momma,  I’m sad.  I want to stay in preschool for the rest of my life and play with my friends.”

I understand, I said.  I didn’t say.  It doesn’t get better.  This is the most carefree you’ll ever be in your life.  You are right to be sad about this passing moment. In a few years, more of life’s detris will come crashing on you, play while you can my son!

Then I dabbed away my tears with the parking ticket I had just gotten for parking in a commercial loading zone near his school.  Maybe, after all, I was ready to move on.

pediatric dentistry

Rex just had general anesthesia for some cavities.  I had no idea they were doing this now.  My dentist just shamed me till I let her work on me.

if this was my dentist I would be like Marcia Brady in that episode when she dreams of being "Mrs. Marcia Dentist"

if this was my dentist I would be like Marcia Brady in that episode when she dreams of being “Mrs. Marcia Dentist”

“you crying?  You crying?  Why you crying?  Your sister isn’t crying.”  I look over and see my sister serenely in the other chair bravely handling the Novocaine shot.  Did I mention I grew up in LA and my mom took us to a black woman dentist so we had positive role models?  Might have been more positive if she hadn’t been so rough.Tough love ’70′s has given way to medicate 21st c.

It’s in favor to not traumatize kids with dentistry.  We tried it a few weeks ago with laughing gas, but he just got more fun.  One of the doctors said he is “spicy”. Full of beans I always say.  So this morning he got a shot.  Cried, then fell asleep in my arms.  They carried him in and his 3 cavities had morphed to 6.  Little ones against each other.  The dentist said to avoid gummy vitamins… they get in and hard to get out with brushing.  Hard enough to get him to brush his teeth, unlikely big flossing would happen shortly.  Here I thought it was good I was giving them vitamins.  Bad mom. Oh and by the way, insurance doesn’t pay for the anesthesia.

I peaked in.  He was passed out, mouth open wide, oxygen over his nose, IV in his hand, a blanket over his body and his little feet peeking out.  Oh, the vulnerability!  ( he hates wearing shoes)

When he came out of it, slowly emerging from the sleep, he was very dizzy.  We carried him to the car and I sat next to him.  They said, “don’t let him drive”  I did let him take the wheel this weekend at the Peterson museum.kid area in peterson auto museum  Carried him in, laid down on the coach and watched Brave.  By the last half hour of the film he was better.
“I want a grilled cheese sandwich.”

A good choice.

 

 

Spouse underfoot?

When I did this video Mark was recuperating from surgery.  Now that he is consulting and catering he is home a lot more.  I guess I must adjusted to having my husband around more.  But, as the saying goes, I married you for life not for lunch.  Sometimes you need your space. If only so I can catch up on “The Good Wife”.

Right?

Summer Dioramas

Planning summer is proving far too complicated.  I know have created a diaorama in my basement just to make sense of it.  The calendar thing wasn’t enough.  I need minature 3 D replicas.  diorama for summer plans

“Okay, this is the camp I signed Rex up for 3 weeks is this area.  Vivien’s camp for two weeks is here, and over here is the other camp for Viv for two other weeks.  Here is my car shuttling them… ( Yes I look crazy, but it’s helping me visualize) This is the friend’s house in the country we want to visit many hours away… Then there is a swim lessons, Spanish tutoring, oh and what else, oh,yeah RELAXING.  Plus, Hollywood Bowl, Universal Studios….” You see why I needed to model this?  Like architects do before a big build.

As I pore over this like a Civil War reenacter planning on retaking Gettysburg I still can’t get down all the moving parts.  How did summer become so complicated?

Well, for one thing they are starting the school year in AUGUST this year, which I do believe should be unconstitutional, so it’s chopped by a couple of weeks.  Then of course other people have their own schedules we have to sink up with for travel plans.  Why can’t they all stay put till I’ve figured my schedule out?dioramas

In the end I just needed fresh eyes.  My step daughter was in town.  I splayed out my dates, calendar pleading for common sense intervention.  She pointed to one block of days that could be altered and some of the model pieces fell into place. I cancelled one thing, moved another… I am almost there.

But, how do I get this cannon over the hill?

 

what family travel really looks like

A recent three day trip for a cousin’s wedding and a sojourn to Legoland gave us red cheeks and smiles.  Well, my husband’s whole body became red.  I think I’m faking it as a white person as I never burn.  Perhaps my cousin’s genealogy digging that says we are part Cherokee has something to do with it.

I honestly enjoyed our trip.  But, it never quite looks like the brochure.  For instance, here is us eating out.eating out with kids

I’m happy he ate almost half of his grilled cheese.

waiting at lego water parkThere is my family cold in the wind waiting for the big slide at Legoland water park.  While I enjoy the water park I had changed into my clothes at this point.  The have a pretty laconic system for getting people on rides there.  Isn’t there a former Disneyland staffer they can hire to consult?

lego land hotel restaurantThe happening scene at the Legoland hotel bar.  The staff was kind as we coached them how to make a good Manhattan. But, they are handicapped as there is no rye or proper Maraschino cherries Kept thinking a good sketch would be someone accidentally coming to this lounge thinking it was a good place to pick up a woman.

jousting ridelook over here Vivien!, Over here.

jousting rideRex, over here, look at mommy.  Look at mommy.  Oh, forget it.knight tourney ride

Um, are we sure that’s safe?

legoland hotel

The second day was well capped with face painting and photo op with Captain Beard heart… or something like that.

In the brochure version of amusement parks they look like this

fake familyUm, they look mighty unencumbered.  Does that mom have a sherpa?  Because I had a back pack, purse, hat, sunglasses.  Mark carried towels and a clothes line.

Here is our real action shot:awkward family photo

I think Mark fares best here.  He looks like a politician.

Always nice to come home and shower after marinating in pee warm water with the masses.  Besides, even pirates need a rest.sleeping pirate