The Shining

I have no idea why I do this (yes, I do) but sometimes when I am alone I start imagining my life as the setting for a horror film (cue the time my babysitter took us to a showing of The Shining when I was six years old. Would love to say she never babysat for us again but sugar babies and coke with crushed ice was involved and let's just say the bribery worked - until guilt and nightmares had me spilling the beans to mom.)

So give me an empty house like tonight and I suddenly hear weird noises from the basement.

Somehow when my son is around, my thoughts never go to a dark place. Some kind of momma bear instinct keeps me from ever letting the boogie man take up even a millimeter of space in my musings. The keeper of safe dreams cannot be a wimp!

On business trips, however, I find my thoughts often take a more fanciful turn. I usually go to the same cities and with three main time zones to work from, every hour is taken up with work. I keep thinking about returning with the family for a proper exploration - but who wants to vacation where you work from?

So I tend to fit my sightseeing in on walks around my hotel. Sometimes for an early morning espresso but usually for a late night decaf cappuccino when I can't sleep (time change) and I figure I'll walk a few blocks to mingle with the homeless, the students and weird sleepless strangers like me. Maybe its these tiny cracks of exploration into a new place that gets my imagination going. Maybe its being on my own away from the familiar (and my husband).

My latest trip had me in a new wing (new to me but ancient-old for the hotel). They were booked up with conventions and I was tucked away on a floor where I saw absolutely NO ONE else on that floor for three days. Apparently it is the last area to be remodeled.

Sometimes I would hear voices but never actually saw a single person.

To make the situation creepier, the entire floor reminded me of...(you guessed it) The Overlook Hotel, aka the hotel in the movie The Shining! If you don't believe me, have a gander...

My room was at the end of a hall right next to a creepy metal stairway. One night before turning in I peeped through the keyhole and just freaked myself out by imagining something white move very quickly past my door. Cue palpating heart and moving desk chair in front of the door.

Like that would help! I've seen enough films to know for fact that if a crazy, psychotic fiend wants to chop you up with lawn tools, they have a way of making that happen.

So I ignored it. But not before taking a picture in hopes of preserving my silly bout of imagination for morning chuckles. It did the opposite. The next night I stepped out of the elevator in total silence and walked calmly about six feet before shedding my heels to hightail it with barely suppressed squeals all the way to my room with shoes, briefcase and card key in hand. Darn that babysitter and Jack Nicholson's crazy eyebrows!

For some reason my hotels are frequently surrounded by addicts who get more aggressive at night and often follow me down the block chanting "...gimmemoneygirlgimmemoney
girlcantyouhearmeIsaidgivememoneygirl" while I am clinging to my Starbucks cup (fake, polite smile, check! No eye contact with the strange limping man on my left, check!) and trying hard to pretend to be Mary Moore on a sunny stroll while considering where to toss the coffee if anyone actually tries to grab me. This happens in well lit streets with police officers on every corner so its not like I am walking down alleyways.

Before you think me totally heartless, living in New York for so many years has taught me never to give money to strangers at night - it is a bit like the children's book Give a Moose a Muffin? It is creepy to be followed by someone who also text their friends down the block to note you are a sure thing and otherwise make you regret the impulse - especially when they look at the three dollars you have given them and begin a discourse on inflation and the cost of failing the homeless in distopian societies. So I stick to daytime assistance.

Enough getting off track! Not sure why I work myself up yet reading this post I think I will avoid late night wanderings for coffee and see if that doesn't stop the over active imaginings from taking a hike. I am also going to tuck a chair beneath the basement doorknob and check the alarm - just to feel better.


The big transition is well underway. Just when we all got the hang of laid back summer routine, we are thrown back into a new school year with lots of activities. I am both glad (I love a busy routine and organising lots of action!) and also mournful for our late night Dr. Who fests and weekends in water.

Monkey is on the travel soccer team, which means three two hour practices per week plus Sunday games. He also has weekly guitar lessons and Boy Scouts and has already requested basketball and winter snowboarding. I am also waiting for the homework crunch to begin as third grade is a big step up in studies. Why oh why wasn't I more militant about multiplication skills over the summer? We did quite a bit of work but it was not the hard core study fest I'd planned for us. I really, really tried. Truly I did.

But when your eight year old begins negotiations by pointing out your lack of a bona fide teaching degree and the futility of focusing on how much is 12 x 6 when there are lightening bugs just waiting to visit that glass bell jar with the air holes cut through the top - well, you remember what it felt like to be eight years old and pity the dirty boy who needs to be in a shower but only wants to be outside.

So we are enjoying our early morning Saturdays on the practice field. The sun is lovely at 8:30am on the soon to be fading summer greenery. My husband is an assistant coach and I love seeing them bond so firmly over a shared love of soccer. It has also been fun to reconnect with faces we haven't seen much of over the past three months. Bonus confession that I adore school supplies. Sharpened pencils and composition notebooks make me so darn happy!

Every year since Kindergarten we take his photo with backpack on while holding a sign like the one above (the color ink was low in our printer so I tried to dress it up at the last second with a bit of marker - lame?). It is amazing how much they change over the summer!

I couldn't resist taking pictures of the last wave of Sunflowers. It seems fitting to recognise their beauty just before the cooler weather begins to arrive. All things change and we are transitioning nicely. Did I mention Fall is my favorite season?

Sheryl and Martha

So I've been doing some deep cleaning and gathered a ton of old magazines for the recycling center. Struck by the contrast in a Time cover on a leading business woman and a famous guide for serious homemaking, I snapped a photo of the two together as they seem to reflect the contrast (or duality?) of my interests in some strange way. That sounds pompous and far too self indulgent - do over - let's just say that it seemed ironic. I have a switch that allows me to be both work focused and Mommy minded very easily - although rarely at the same time. I am getting better at switching between the two much faster.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is old news but certainly earned its PR stripes. Valuable thoughts yet not very innovative. My own takeaways are that we have to stop looking askance at older men mentoring young women, that we women tend to build our own stumbling blocks and when you are invited to the table, take a seat. Many more.

It is admirable when the Sheryls and the Marissa Mayer's of the world succeed. Succeed big. I unfurl my girl flag and woop it up (figuratively.)Yet I also know like I know my name that they did not succeed BECAUSE they are women. It is great that they may, and the world may, identify their success with their gender. But the truth is that these are exceptionally intelligent and talented people who work very hard.

Perhaps I am naive yet beneath all the layers of influence defined by generational and cultural messages I think a greater truth exists - a natural understanding that we are equal contributors valued by our individual talents and drive. And isn't that what is truly amazing?


I have been neglected my blog lately in favor of squeezing every moment from this amazing summer.

Late nights have been spent in John Hughes marathons and extra sleep. My delightful niece has also been visiting us from afar and darn if 6 weeks of her company is just not enough. We've kept politics and negative noise, including the internet, to a minimum.

We've made gallons of lemonade and caught hundreds of lightening bugs. We've had lots of company with favorite friends and overall been very relaxed. Beach and pool, our happy toes are raw and limbs covered in bandaids from countless dare devil stunts. Here is what we've been up to:

Late Night Ice Cream Attacks!


                                                           Surfing Summer Rain

                                                                Guitar Hero Olympics



                                     Impromptu In-House Garage Sales for Parental Customers

September will be here too soon! Hoping the rest of summer is just as wonderful - for everyone, everywhere.


We waited. We crossed off days to the grand opening. We bought annual passes. We were not first in line...but tried to be.  We hit Legoland on opening day. Let me explain why this was a terrible idea.

Massive crowds of like-minded lego junkies aficionados.

Poor organisation by the Lego peeps who failed to realise how seriously Legos are taken in my neck of the woods (or how cray cray their fan base is in one of the largest metro areas in the US...)

Small area of actual Lego play with long lines of adventure hungry children standing about staring intently in a manner not creepily unlike Children of the Corn. Gollum had nothing on these kids.

Standing in line for 45 minutes to buy one of those initial family snapshots they take, only to find that your child closed his eyes and grimaced so well that no one seeing this photo would ever believe he is remotely normal.

Not enough lego parts for the Lego Racer area. Not cool trying to build a car with only two and half wheels. Maybe it could have been a motorcycle race.

What we may return for:

The 4-D movie was pretty good.
If not so crowded it would be much more fun (better planning on my part).
Legoland itself is a a great deal of fun - just not opening day!
Returning to buy Lego sets we rarely ever see in stores.
Why not? It's LEGOLAND!! Even the bathroom stall doors were nifty.



I am grateful that most days feel very different and always interesting. Every day is a choice. A choice to be giving. A choice to be kind. A choice to avoid the merry-go-round of negative thinking and to rejoice in all the positive that surrounds us all if we only look for it.

It is not always easy. Last week for example, I found myself in Brooklyn for a deposition (not personal) and one of those giant, union blow-up rats was parked outside the office I had to visit. Traffic had been terrible and I was not looking forward to the next several hours. Yet I noticed the Brooklyn Bridge and thought how marvelous it looked in the morning light.

Even normal routines are full of grace. The strangers who wish me a good day. My child's first warm hug good morning. My husband's terrible jokes and excellent timing. An uplifting chat with an old friend.  Finding a solution that simplifies the complicated and saves time and resources. Partnering with a smart colleague over a challenging project. Intellectually stretching in all the areas that hold my interest, even those that lay dormant for this moment in time. A new song that captures some elusive tie to a million happy moments.
The chance to improve and grow into the best self I can be. My normal routine is never actually "normal" as much as it is embracing the amazing in the ordinary. Sometimes I enjoy the rush and juggling so much that I forget to breathe. And in those seconds when I do stop and notice all the small things, I see how the small things make for an excellent life that I am grateful for.

March Holidays

St. Patrick's Day and Easter are very close together this year and Monkey has been asking to decorate. So today we whipped out a few craft projects around shamrocks and pots of gold (anyone ever spray paint small rocks the color gold in snow before?) Desperate times call for desperate measures...

After getting a big box from storage, we now have a few spaces, including the family room, decorated to his satisfaction. Yet I want to keep it simple this year, especially in the living room. Here is a pic of what my mantle has on it right now. Only extra is a candle gifted by a friend over Christmas because I love the scent. Green for St. Paddie's Day and bunnies for Easter. Done and done!

Manners for Children

Most recently, we've had a refocus on good manners in our home (any mother of young boys understands why the focus!)  So I was very happy to discover a series of books written by the great Wilbur Munro Leaf (The Story of Ferdinand) and boy how I love these! I first found a couple of these from the library before locating the entire collection on Amazon and eBay.

Written in the 1940s, they predate the embrace of individualism and entitlement
our culture has experienced over the last few decades. They strip it down to the valid truth that it is important to get along well with other people. None of us can thrive to our full potential alone in a bubble.

In a time where it is so easy to be plugged in and tuned out from living people,
the critical skills of socialisation and self -discipline seem lost. We want to teach him the value of a good strong handshake and the importance of honesty, fairness, strength of character and wisdom. How to Behave and Why covers these topics charmingly. We have other books on manners but these are so simple and clear, with fun illustrations.

There is so much magic that happens when people connect, support and
share their knowledge and friendship. He is already learning the lessons of teamwork but in time he will need to work on many teams with many different personalities.

Manner and good behaviour go beyond 'rules', incentives and "because I said so" - it is a personal choice that we all make and I hope he learns that manners go beyond chewing with his mouth closed or elbows off the table. It is understanding that manners are also about other people (gasp!) and the the value of actually caring what others think about us (double gasp!) and setting examples. And let's be honest, it is also a little bit about putting the cap back on the toothpaste and using a napkin. :)

Books with Boys

How I love the scent of new books! As far as I can remember I've loved to read. Biographies, novels, subjects that pique my interest (most recently my bedside table is covered with books on handwriting analysis and juicing although anyone looking for a good read should try Angelfall by Susan Ee) - there is little discrimination. Anyone visiting my home would agree that books figure prominently in my decorating scheme - and not in a deliberate manner.

The Ralph Mouse Collection (The Mouse and the Motorcycle / Runaway Ralph /  Ralph S. Mouse)
Books on shelves are in order of subject and author but those stacked on floors, tables and chairs are fair game and only in order of when they were last picked up. It is the only area that I allow a bit of latitude before conducting bi-weekly book sweeps of our home, placing everything in temporary order. And now that our son has discovered a love of reading we are finding his books all interspersed with ours. It is a lovely discovery and so nice to experience the wonder of books all over again through his eyes.

After reading many, many books to, with and by our son, he finally got the reading bug with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. It is the first book collection that he had avidly read over and over again, on his own and just because it's fun.

After many happy hours spent with Harry Potter, Encyclopedia Brown, Ralph Mouse, the Ingalls and Percy Jackson this is the series that grabbed him the most. They are pretty funny so I appreciate his taste - although what matters to us is that he organically develops a LOVE OF READING. It will serve him his entire life and can never be forced or he will always avoid it - perceiving it as a chore, which would be such a sad shame.
Stories open us to worlds we might never explore, people we might never have known and adventures beyond our own lives. They teach us to be humble, to appreciate the vantage points of other people and teach lessons usually only learned through personal experience. Yea, reading!


Inspired by my favorite ramen spot in San Fransisco, I did some research. Poured through tons of recipes, watched a few video tutorials and finally decided one weekend to try to make authentic ramen for my family.

I have no idea what I was thinking. After spending considerable time on actually making the noodles, I ended up pitching them and substituting for store bought. What can I say? I accept that those who have studied the art of noodle making for years (collective centuries) are far better equipped than I to make edible udon.
The results were delicious, although not lovely to look at in the least. Although it seems like the simplest thing, the broth is actually a study in patience - of which I have little. Still pleased that I tried - Honey and Monkey had seconds and we enjoyed the practice with chop sticks.
 We had green tea and fortune cookies for dessert and this CD was the highlight of our playlist
during dinner.

There are so few ways to be adventurous during "indoor" season that we take our opportunities to try new things wherever they come.

Best Coffee Ever

I've said it before and I will say it again.

Stumptown = Best.Coffee.Ever.

Mikky Ekko - latest music obsession

Beginning Spellers

So I was at the market wrapping up a short shop when I spied the last item on my list.
I laughed so hard strangers began giving me a wide berth.

Apparently our second grader didn't want us to forget brown sugar for his oatmeal.
I imagined him climbing up with a step stool to reach where we tend to keep this.
And yes - our on the go handwriting really is this messy!