Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Thing 1

When You Wish Upon a Star…

Posted on Sep 29, 2009 in Family and Friends, Thing 1 |

… your son comes out on to the back porch to ask you what you’re doing.

And, when you tell your 6-year-older that you’re wishing on a star (which, I actually¬† do every night),

…he’ll tell you that you’re not wishing on a star. And he’ll say,

“Mom, that’s not a star. You’re not wishing on a star, you’re wishing on Neptune, which is easily confused with the Morning Star or the Evening Star. It’s okay, a lot of people do it.”

… and you smile.

And tell your boy to find a “real star” to wish on.

And he does.

And we do.

And my wish has already come true.

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The Best Six Years in History

Posted on Jul 17, 2009 in Family and Friends, Thing 1, Thing 2 |



At 8:36 p.m. and 8:37 p.m. respectively, 6 years ago tonight, my son and daughter were born. I went from being me to being Mommy and forever, my life suddenly had meaning.

This picture was taken moments ago, the second, moments ago six years ago.

Dear God and all my angels, thank you for blessing me with the greatest joy anyone could ever know.

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Thing 1 and the Tickle Monster

Posted on Feb 13, 2009 in Family and Friends, Thing 1 |

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Making a Break for It

Posted on Jan 30, 2009 in Family and Friends, School, Thing 1, Thing 2 |

Cost of two bottles of Children’s Advil : $18

Cost of new thermometer at 4:45 a.m.: $12

Cost of Urgent Care per child; $20 x 2

Cost of Prescriptions per child: $20 x 2

Cost of bottle of S2 wine to survive kids having Strep Throat: $27.95

Cost of escaping with kids to the beach to blow it all off: Priceless

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A Ninja in my Pocket

Posted on Jan 21, 2009 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Thing 1 |

“Mom, you can’t leave the house without a ninja in your pocket,” said my son.

All day I carried a tiny little green ninja in my jean pocket that my son had gotten from a 25-cent vending machine at Tomato Thyme the night before. Every now and again, he’d ask me if I still had my ninja and every time, I’d pull it out of my pants proudly. Yesterday I surprised him, “Got your ninja in your pocket, son?” He grinned when I showed him that I was carrying mine a second day.

Today, he’s back at school and I’m missing my ninja. I’ve got the tiny figurine in my pocket again today. My real ninja reminds me constantly of who I am. I’m a mommy: Purell at-the-ready, recyclable bags and soccer balls rolling around in my trunk, snacks in various stages of consumption in my handbag and a ninja in my pocket. Not a bag gig, if you can get it.

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Project: KidGive

Posted on Jan 6, 2009 in Giving, Holidays, Thing 1, Thing 2 |

“This feels like I won the championship,” Thing 1 told me today as he held the Salvation Army tag he’d pulled from the Christmas tree at the mall. Thing 2 kept showing people in California Pizza Kitchen her tag, telling everyone around her, “There is a 9-year-old girl who isn’t going to have Christmas presents and I’m going to get her a real art set!”

Project KidGive is an idea LaGringa and I have been thinking about for awhile. The plan was, like so many other families, to pick a child’s name off the Christmas tree at the mall and have the kids earn money themselves to make enough to buy the toy for a child this Christmas.

Project KidGive became the focal point of the kids’ days, doing chores, talking/fantasizing/questioning about the child they were so determined to help.

In the end, it took six weeks of cleaning out mommy’s car, taking out the trash, folding laundry, being the “light police” by turning off the lights in the house, offering to help neighbors and grandparents.

When it was time, we went and picked out the toys. It took They looked and sampled and price scanned dozens of toys, looking for the most special, coolest, most fun one they could find. At last, they were satisfied and we took the gifts to the mall.

The holiday crazed mall concierge caught on fast when I started coming toward her with two beaming kids, arms laden with presents, handmade notes and drawings that were to go with the gifts. I took photos and cried with pride. Mission accomplished:: The Things worked from their hearts for a stranger in need and for more than a brief moment, got to live the true spirit of Christmas.

How We Did It:

1. We told the kids about the project with great anticipation before we went to the mall to get the Salvation Army tags. That way, they knew what was going on and we didn’t spring it on them. I didn’t multi-task, I went to the mall for that reason only and I read them every single tag, allowing them to pick them for themselves.

2. We made everything very visual. We posted a progress chart that they could fill in daily. There was an unexpected bonus with this, since we were able to count how much we made for the day and how much was remaining. Good math skills!

3. La Gringa and I praised constantly for their work. We showed visitors their chart. We touted them as givers, we told them they were like Jesus (and they always added: and like Santa!). We didn’t confuse household responsibilities with these special chores.

4. We made the goals attainable. This took some work, as I had made the dollar values too low at first (10 cents per chore, on average was way too low). As time went on, we had to get more creative ($3 for reading a book). We made sure there was always room for a chore (30 seconds to run around the house and shut of lights to 15 minutes of putting away laundry).

5. We let them have control over picking their gifts. Gave them the money they’d earned and took the time to drive them to (three!) stores they wanted to investigate for their gifts.

6. We gave them one present on Christmas Eve: it was the same gifts they had earned for the other children. We praised them and talked about their giving, the feeling of giving and reinforced how they had made someone else’s Christmas a good one.

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