Eric Jr. lost his reading notebook. In it are pages and pages of summaries he's written for the novel his class is reading right now. I watched him all last week as he read the chapters and carefully wrote his notes, and now it's gone. His teacher is mad at him. We talked before bed about personal organization, and also about dealing with difficult people. And I reminded him that there are only three weeks left in the school year!
We're planning on making up to our kids all the craziness of our lives this past year- the moving, the screaming-toddler-sister, the late nights working...all of it- with a month in Hawaii. It dawned on us a few weeks ago, as we noticed all our neighbors making plans to leave town, that one of the perks of being a professor is that you can go anywhere your hearts desire for the summer*. And our hearts desire to go to Hawaii, not wear shoes, and hang out with sea turtles for a month, so that's what we're doing.
Also- I hear that church starts twenty minutes late in Hawaii...
I may never come home :).
*Just to clarify- Eric has to work in the summer (and work hard, believe me), it's just he doesn't have to teach, and he was brilliant enough to pick a field in which his research is portable, so he can do it just as easily in a Starbuck's in Hawaii as he can in his office.
I miss the blossoms. Last spring I looked around and noticed that I lived in one of the most beautiful places in the universe. Every tree and bush in our neighborhood had exploded in blooms and the air was filled with their sweet smell. I started waking up early to run before the kids were awake. I would silently put on my running clothes and slip out the back door into the darkness, with the purple shadows of blossoms and warm air all around me.
I think maybe that's why the spring has been such a hard time for me here. I was one with those blossoms and that place and that time. And though it's getting better every day, it still feels like I don't fit here. One night Eric and I went to dinner downtown and we were seated next to a table of southerners. I miss hearing that accent. I almost cried when I looked up and realized that they had left before I'd gotten the chance to ask them where they were from.
Nevertheless, I trudged on, through Easter and spring break.
My mom and grandmother came to town for a very quick visit, and we walked, talked, ate and shopped. That cheered me up a little bit.
For Easter my cousin Laura and her sweet boyfriend Tom made the trip from L.A., and my brother came down from Oakland. He's going to make us side tables for our living room. That cheered me up some more. My brother is freakishly talented in a wide array of things, including making gorgeous furniture.
The sister missionaries came to Easter dinner. One of them is from Brazil, and Eric knew her as a little girl on his mission. The other one is from Newnan, GA, which, of course, made me want to cry. Then Marley tried on her name tag, and I felt a little better. That girl is going to make an incredible missionary some day.
The kids and I lived at the Boardwalk over spring break. Eleanor rode her first roller coaster and took it like a pro (of course). I rode the scariest ride- the Fireball, and was just so happy to make it off alive that I temporarily didn't care where I lived.
We ate a lot of fried things.
I look at these pictures now and realized that we really had fun. There aren't a lot of things in life that are fun for a 2-, 4-, 9-, 11- and 32-year-old all at the same time.
I bought some beach chairs at Costco since, you know, we live at the beach. We should probably have our own beach chairs.
And then a strange thing happened last weekend. I fell in love with a house, and we made an offer on it. We were driving along, and saw a sign and decided to stop in just for fun. It was the first time I've ever walked into a house and been able to easily envision spending the rest of my life it. Poor Eric went after that house like water in the dessert, knowing how happy it would make me, and wanting so badly for me to be happy here. Unfortunately, half the town fell in love with it too and we didn't get it in the end. But something about that house snapped me out of my fog.
For a brief moment, I could see my future here. Not my past, never my past....but my future. That's something.
I am prone to falling in love with my children's preschools. Marley's new preschool is different from the other two we've done, in that it's a co-op, which means that a few times a month I go with her to work in the classroom.
School is held in a tiny cottage at a local park. There's only one class and the kids range in age from 3-5. It's a very relaxed, positive environment, where the kids can pretty much choose what they want to do, and the parents and teachers are there to guide and support them. Not at all the way we do things in our house, so it's a refreshing change of pace for me, and I'm sure for Marley too. Amazing how patient you can be when you're not the one mopping the floors;).
My favorite part is that most of the families at the school have lived here for generations, and they know the city like the back of their hands. We're not supposed to talk to each other while we're working so that we can focus on the kids (I've been shooshed a time or two), but every chance I get, I grill the other parents about where they live, what they do, favorite restaurants, etc.
The teachers are patient, kind and truly love their work. They don't spout their philosophies, but quietly lead by example, and it's easy to see the sense in the way they interact with the kids.
My favorite part of the day is sharing time, when one child gets to show the class a few things they brought from home. The teachers ask the most respectful, genuine questions. Is there anything better than someone asking you a respectful, genuine question and then listening to your answer?
P.S.- Remember how I said I was going to 'do something'? Well I did- I attended a city council meeting and made a comment during the open forum. I was not alone- there were dozens of mothers, fathers and concerned citizens there, some with kids in tow. Eric was at home with our kids watching on TV. Here's link to an NYT article that gives an overview of what all the fuss is about. But the real issues are very complex, and it will be interesting to see how things work out. We're participating in a march to city hall tomorrow night, so wish us luck!
On Tuesday, two police officers were shot and killed in Santa Cruz. One of them was the father of an officer who came to talk to Marley's preschool class last week for community helpers day. He was quiet and sweet with the kids. It feels awful to think about what he's going through right now.
After the Newtown shootings, I anxiously hovered around my kids, asking them if they were worried or scared, if kids at school were talking about what happened, if they had any questions? They mostly shrugged, unsure why something that had happened so far away was supposed to be scary to them.
This time, though, they asked lots of questions. Were there any regular people around when the officers were shot? Did anyone see their bodies lying in the street afterward? Was the person who shot them still in our town? I could tell that the curiosity was masking real nervousness. If the people who protect us are not safe, then how are we safe?
They explained to me about the lockdown drills they have at school. They told me the secret code sentence taught to the children so that they'll know if it's really safe to come out of hiding or not. They told me about the time at their old school when they had an unannounced drill, and real police officers came around and banged on the doors to test whether or not the teachers would open them.
I am so sad for my children. Sad that they have to grow up like this, and sad that it feels normal to them. There's no time at all in my life for me to "do something", but I am going to find it anyway. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.
'Ga' means I have a dirty diaper or, alternately, this carrot I'm eating tastes like [you get the picture].
'Dit down' means I want to get down, or put me down, or pick me up.
'Na' means yeah.
'Boy' means do my hair. Inexplicably.
...loves to say hello and goodbye to every person we encounter while grocery shopping. And then continues to say goodbye to them, increasing in volume and aggressiveness, until the person is no longer in our vicinity. Gets majorly awkward in long checkout lines.
...eats dog food. A lot.
...gives the world's sloppiest open-mouthed kisses. Sometimes they taste like dog food.
...does a perfect summersault.
...sleeps through the night, every night, without exception.
You really came through for me last weekend. Somehow you knew that a visit from two of my favorite people in the world was your time to shine. You dispensed with that ridiculous cold weather (don't think I don't compare you to the temps in Atlanta every week!), and you brought out the sunny 70's.
You rocked it at the boardwalk, with cotton candy and carousel rides. Though really, those two were just so happy to be together, they probably would have settled for playing at the park.
You busted out a major surfing contest, but you thoughtfully dispersed the crowds in time for our drive to San Francisco the next day. You even gave us a glimpse of Mavericks- at least I think? If a random spot in the ocean where the waves looked kinda big was it? Still, fun times...
I think you knew, deep down that if Tracy and Graham moved here, you would would have me for life. You did your part- the rest is up to me. I owe you one.
I was thinking today about how one thing on my list of things to do before I die was to have Thanksgiving at the beach...
...think I can check that one off now!
We had my cousin, my brother and my Aunt and Uncle with us- which made for lots of silliness, lots of fun, and lots of help with the kids and cooking, which was lovely.
On Thanksgiving morning, the boys paddled out for a quick surf while the rest of us watched and cheered from the cliffs (you might be able to see them if you look real close). Right after I took this picture, some guy alerted me to the fact that Eleanor's stroller was rolling toward the cliff edge. Mom of the year, I tell ya.
Laura got some good footage of Briggie catching a wave (he's the last one left standing at the end):
We took a morning to visit the Mystery Spot, site of a weird gravitational vortex....or group hallucination...or alien invasion...we're still not sure which.
We also did some hiking around the upper campus at UCSC, which has become one of our favorite spots to take visitors to see the beautiful redwoods.
Marley enjoyed forcing everyone to take turns giving shoulder rides to her creepy one-eyed baby doll named "Baby".