Friday, March 31, 2006

His Own Ensemble

I found this in my journal from February:

I had one of those sentimental deja vu moments this morning. I was out in the parking lot with the kids, and looked over at Aubrey. She had these tight little blonde braids trailing down her back; she wore Dane's old jeans for painting day at school; Dane's red Superfriends backpack hung loosely off her shoulders. The sun caught her blonde bright youthful shininess just as this delicate wind breezed by with that unmistakeable fresh scent of new Spring after a few weeks of rain. It was the onset of the school career: it was tininess, independence, life expanding beyond the easy reaches of a mother.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Scrabble, Anyone?
Hey to my fellow word nerds. My friend Kelly (Jason and Jordan West's sister) introduced me to online Scrabble at The Pixie Pit. For $10 per year you can play to your heart's content with anyone else signed up, whether it's one-on-one or in groups--and you can have multiple games going at once. You get up to seven days to make a play, so it's not demanding or time-consuming. You can also try it for free the first time. Email me if you're in!

(Don't worry. This isn't a pyramid scheme. It's for the love of the game!)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tennis in Mill Valley

If the courts are dry we're starting to head to Boyle Park on Saturday mornings for $5 tennis lessons. Coach Spenser's got a cart full of balls and rackets for any kid who shows up, usually about ages 5-7. He's a patient, gentle kind of guy who calls every kid by name and gets them to wait happily in line until their turn to meet him at the net. There, he tosses them each a few balls (with speeds and bounce according to their abilities), coaches them in stance and swing, and sends them back in line proud of their accomplishments.

Last Saturday a player in an adjacent court yelled out "Spenser's Dungeon!" and raised his racket. Coach Spenser told the kids that the guy was a former student who now plays college tennis. Later in the session, we learned about Spenser's Dungeon when he had the kids play Simon Says: he had them walk-race to different parts of the court (service line, doubles sideline, singles sideline, alley) as he called them out, and the last kid to the line or area at each turn would have to go stand at his side, "Spenser's Dungeon," and finish the game from there. Dane and Aubrey were the first ones out (it was Dane's second lesson, Aubrey's first) but "Spenser's Dungeon" isn't threatening. In fact, I think the kids like standing by him.

When the lesson's over, after about 45 minutes, all the kids line up at a kiosk outside the tennis court with five bucks in hand to pay Spenser and get a popsicle of their chosen color from him.

Pix above of Dane playing. Spenser's the guy in gray. No pix of Aubs playing yet, but will add some after her next session.

Bound for North Beach: Dana and Anj
After a day of looking for the quaint little Hello Kitty shop we'd envisioned for the girls (we were only working from an address), we found it in downtown San Francisco at a gigantic humongous supersize MALL. We walked to North Beach's Little Italy in search of food after that shopping trip, and got to ride the bus during rush hour, which was perhaps the real SF experience. (December)

*At Alta Vista Park in SF in December

*At Fort Baker, looking at Golden Gate Bridge
Barking Dog

CATCH-UP. That's the theme for this entry. It's what we're trying to do with Mick while he's at home, it's what Mick is trying to do with his days off (with me, kids, sleep,, espresso machine, sleep,, espresso machine, and so on), it's what I'm trying to do for myself with a little spare time, and it's what gets to happen on this blogsite. With a little luck, it'll all pan out as planned...

We've been overwhelmed the last three weeks (and then some) with Mick preparing for finals, taking finals, and then recovering from finals (Spring Break). We can officially tell you now though that Mick has completed his third quarter, which, as I've mentioned before, is supposed to be the hardest. We hope it was the hardest, because it was HARD! Hard, we tell you! Mick kept his same crazy study hours, spent more evenings in the lab, took more (and tougher) tests, and all the while felt like the information, assignments and due dates just kept coming at him. At times, in fact, additional assignments were unexpectedly piled on when he thought he couldn't handle another thing; at others, extra credit assignments were made mandatory. (That one was a real bummer: Mick had completed one extra credit report in the wee hours and on time, only to have the professor change his mind later that week and give the other students a few more days to turn it in as a requirement. Rough break.) He's got his final grades, though, and all lights are green, so we're mostly relieved and happy.

With Mick gone so much, the responsibilities at home rested heavier on my shoulders. For the most part, I stood up to this well, but feel that I've earned myself a few mental health days to cash in on soon. (Like today, for instance. I've got the whole Sunday to myself while Mick and his dad take the kids to SF to ride the trolleys and visit the pier. I'm so glad...) I feel the challenge of mothering solo most when I think about how in seven days the kids typically have only about 6 hours of classes between them when I'm not needed. Thank goodness my two book clubs and my new writing club with Dawn Yun have worked out--I can take the kids to one book club (the Mormons of course!), and then Mick's either been able to accommodate me and watch the kids, or my friends Shari or Natalie have been available here at the apartments (fellow dental student wives). Other than that, I arrange play times with their friends or get some creative projects going; perhaps some of those'll make the blog--they're part of the catch-up plan anyway.

Mick's parents arrived on Tuesday. Mike's going home tonight and Jan's here for another ten days, which means she'll be here to relieve me a bit this next week. I always love it when she visits--not just for the help, but because she's good company and the kids are crazy about her.

This is probably enough catch-up and talk about catch-up for now. More soon!
Adventures with Sue

We met Sue through our friend Jason Hickman when he was visiting last Fall before heading off to Iraq. (Hi Jason) They've been friends since they lived in Boulder, but Sue now lives 5 minutes away in Mill Valley, so it's been great to have a new friend for me to pal around with while Mick's in school.

Here are some more photos from the Half Moon Bay Mavericks Competition we went to back in February (mentioned in a February blog entry)--including shots from our spot on the bluff.

Sue was between jobs that month so she also joined us for lunch at Pacific with Mick on Valentine's Day. The kids and I packed Mick a special lunch, including frosted heart sugar cookies on sticks, and he gave them the book Olive My Love, companion to a Christmas favorite Olive the Other Reindeer. We wouldn't see Mick home at a reasonable hour that night; he was staying late in the lab again to meet another demanding set of deadlines that week.

After lunch and a $40 parking ticket--have to read those SF signs closely; it might look like 2-hour parking weekdays, but not if it also says except for Tuesdays when it's off-limits due to street cleaning--Sue and I took Dane and Aubrey to a windy, cold afternoon at the San Francisco Zoo. There, it was so cold and windy that the zoo was nearly empty of visitors, Sue had to buy a (much-admired) Zoo windbreaker, and the shutters of the antique carousel shelter banged and rattled. Dane and Aubrey got some bang for their buck that day, though. They'd been sent some money by Grammy--or was it Mimi?--so they each had $5. They spent $3 on the zoo train ride and $2 on the carousel, which they got to ride twice as its only patrons. They also got up close with the lions and tigers and penguins, and fell asleep hard on the way home with chocolate hearts melted in their hands.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Note: new "Over-the-Hump" blog entry shows up below in Feb section