Archives for July 2011

Thursday Ten: Remembrance can be funny Edition

1. Today is the birthday of my college roommate from my freshman year. She died over ten years ago of cystic fibrosis. In her too-short life, she lost her twin sister to the same disease as well as underwent a double lung transplant that prolonged her life by several years. She was both an incredibly loving and giving person, though sometimes difficult to live with (but, I doubt she found me very easy to live with either, for what it’s worth).  She quoted movie lines like no one I had ever met before and had a love for ABBA that… never did ever make sense to me. And when she got upset – boy, paybacks! One morning, after a disagreement the night before, she awoke me and my other roommate to Billy Joel’s “Don’t Ask Me Why” — at a blaring volume. And now when I hear it, I think of her and smile (No, I wasn’t smiling that morning. I think pillows were thrown). Cystic fibrosis can be an ugly disease and though she lived far longer than was ever expected, she died too young. Thoughts of you today, K.

2. PROJECT RUNWAY premieres tonight. Ahem.

3. Pumpkin got a Barnes & Noble gift card for her birthday. This morning, after dropping The Princess off at gymnastics practice, I took Pumpkin to B&N. I was wanting to take her without her sis because I didn’t want to buy books – just wanted to let Pumpkin use her card – and not have hurt feelings because one child was bent out of shape because the other was getting something. Well, Pumpkin would have used her whole GC on her sister if I’d have let her. I didn’t. I let her choose a book for The Princess, but steered her towards spending the rest on herself. I felt conflicted about that – like I shouldn’t be dissuading her from being generous to others – but I’m glad that her heart is in that place.

4. My nails are getting long. That’s how I know it’s REALLY, REALLY time for me to pick up my guitar again.

5. I hate earbuds. I’ve broken more earbuds than I have even tried to count. Anyone able to recommend some decent headphones with good sound quality that will take me longer than five minutes to break.

6. Every time I go to Starbucks the barista asks, “Soy, right?” Um no. But I think she accidentally made my cappuccino with soy the other day. And it was good. Can that be right?

7. Just over a month until school starts. That’s kind of exciting, right? In Michigan, there’s a law that school can’t start until after Labor Day (to keep tourism going for an extra few weeks). It’s a stupid law, but so be it. I’m looking forward to school supply shopping. Wonder if I can sneak some Sharpies in the cart…just for me.

8. An agreement that was supposed to help me and the mom of one of my daughter’s gymnastics teammates – to share carpooling duties has turned into one of those things that reminds me why I never have made friends with someone for the sole fact that we have kids that are friends. Ugh. The past four times I have tried to pick her daughter up – she either hasn’t been there, or has said, “Nope, my kid isn’t going.” Now, why you would spend that much for gymnastics and NEVER send your kid to practice is beyond me – but I finally gave up on being nice. Probably a week or two later than I should have. Didn’t attempt to pick up her daughter today. I feel like a jerk, but odds are, they weren’t home anyway.

9. I finished the novel The Kitchen Daughter last night. I absolutely recommend it. So so good.

10. I asked this on Twitter last night – but in case you didn’t answer: What is your favorite part of a s’more?

Happy 6th Birthday to My Sweet Girl

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Dear Pumpkin,

Today, you are six. In fact, I’ve scheduled this post to publish at 5:53 a.m., the minute you made your way into this world – the minute I first saw your face and held you in my arms.

You’ve been an early bird since day one, waking me with contractions at 2:30 in the morning that day. Less than four hours later, you were here. When you put your mind to something, you’re determined. You’ve been in a rush since the day you were born. Still, to this day, sometimes I can’t keep up with you, and it’s certainly not for lack of trying! I realize I say this every year. Maybe next year, you’ll be less of a morning person and I won’t start your letter the same way!

This past year was a big year for you – you went to kindergarten. I wasn’t entirely sure you were ready. Sure, I thought you were READY, but every time I put a pencil in your hand, asking, pleading you to write something, you resisted. Turns out, you can totally do it – you just have to want to. You took kindergarten by storm, learning to read this year was a HUGE milestone (one that makes me insanely happy). Your teacher adored you, and said to me one day, “Her personality… she’s really funny.” To which I smiled, and said, “Yeah. I know what you mean.”

Because you are. You’re really funny. You love attention. You love to entertain.  You’ve been asking lately for ballet lessons, and my gosh, I can picture you on a stage. But I haven’t decided about lessons yet. You’ve been loving swim lessons, and I like sticking with that for now. We’ll see, okay?

Your first (second, third and fourth) plane ride was this month – what an amazing traveler you are. It’s kind of nice to experience travel through the eyes of someone who is still amazed at the process – how you get in a metal tube, and then you’re in the air! I loved watching you look out the windows at the world below. I’m not a great flyer, you know – but I hope it didn’t show. I don’t want you to be scared of it like I am. I like your fearlessness. I like your courage. I like how you have no qualms about trying new things (from mangoes to roller coasters) . I admire that about you. Seems silly for a mommy to say that – but sometimes I think I could learn a lot from you.

You have the most breathtaking eyes I have ever seen. They are a clear blue with a darker circle around the iris and when I see your eyes, I feel at home. You are loving and affectionate. You like to be held, you like to cuddle. You can sense when a hug is needed and you’ll race to be the one to give it. I never grow tired of your hugs.

Sometimes when I kiss you goodnight, you press your hand to your lips or your cheek, as if to press my kiss in, to save it for later. I love to end my day that way.

You can be a stinker too, missy, and I know you know this. Sometimes the amount of noise, energy and anger that comes out of your little body stuns me. The other day at Starbucks I called you my little Grumpelstilsken. Sometimes you are.

You love people and love to play. I feel badly that there aren’t more (or ANY!) kids your age in our neighborhood for you to play with. You see your sister hanging out with her friends – your common refrain is, “It’s NO FAIR. HOW COME SHE GETS TO PLAY WITH HER FRIENDS AND I CAN’T?!” (And yes, you do it in a big all caps voice). It makes me sad – because I wish you had friends in our neighborhood, that you had the same kind of instant playdate nearby as your sister does. Maybe someday.

You love chocolate milk. You love dogs, especially German Shepherds. You love to dance. You love watching streaming cartoons on Netflix, these days Angelina Ballerina has your eye. You love to go to the library – especially looking for nonfiction books about dogs and animals. You actually know more about animals and dogs than anyone I have ever met. You can list a specie of dog for almost every letter of the alphabet. That blows me away. You like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and you never eat the crust. You can’t go to sleep at night until you’ve been read to and cuddled with. When you wake up in the middle of the night, you turn your CD player on – I’ve walked down the hall at midnight to hear your bedtime music coming from your room, having recently been restarted. You laugh when I crinkle my nose at you like a bunny. You write me notes and leave them on my nightstand. You give me stickers to wear and color pictures and leave them on my desk – or better yet, sometimes you let me choose which piece of art I want. I love it. Your creative and inquisitive mind makes me truly happy.

You make me happy.

I love you, Pumpkin. Today you are six, and I am so grateful for every day I’ve had with you.

I love you with my whole heart and I’m so lucky to be your mommy.



Oh hi. How are you?

Hello there. It’s nearly ten p.m., and things are quieting down for the evening. It’s been a busy week so far – and it’s only... Tuesday? How is it only Tuesday?

I’ve been spreading myself a bit too thin lately and have had a chaotic time. I realized last week that this was the first summer in years when I haven’t had a mother’s helper once a week to come by and take over with kid duties so I could get a huge block of uninterrupted work time. Getting laid off, I was sure I’d be fine without it – if I had no work, what was there to balance?


I got hired back. And long term, it’s less hours than it was – just a few hours here and there to keep some projects afloat – but it was a relief. I need to work. Right now, though? Those projects are pure insanity. And half of me is like, “WHOOOHOO! I’m busy! I LOVE busy!” and half of me is like, “Well, shucks. I kinda miss my mother’s helper now!”

And on top of that?

I got a job. I’ve always made it a point to not really talk about work on my blog – other than, “OH HAI I HAVE A JOB” or “OH HAI GUESS WHO GOT LAID OFF?” – and that’s not changing. This is a new adventure for me – six years ago today was the last time I worked in an office regularly — so, it’s a change. While change has a tendency to get me a little nervous, change can also be awesome. I’m very excited. (Also: Nervous. What if they don’t like me?)

So, July. It’s almost over but not without leaving a whirlwind of change in its wake.

Alright, internet, enough about me: How YOU doin’?


I Walk So My Daughters Won’t Have To

313 | 365The walk was nearly two weeks ago, and yet I haven’t fully blogged the experience – it’s difficult to come home from being away for so long and figure out just where to pick up and how to get entirely caught up. I spent the first week home feeling like I was trying to staple Jell-O to a tree – and now… I think I’ve got it all back together.


Here’s what you probably already know: This was my third year walking in the Avon Walk. We walked 39.3 miles over two days (however, this feels like a gross underestimation – there are “real miles” and there are “Avon miles”. An Avon mile always seems longer than an actual mile). Typically, the set up is walking a marathon on day 1 (26.2 miles) and a half marathon on day 2 (13.1) – given the set up in California, the mileage was slightly different each day – but the overall effect was the same.

This was my first year walking in San Francisco – I dreaded the hills. I didn’t actually like them much during the walk but eventually discovered that walking UP a hill beats the hell out of walking down. Seems contrary, right? However – when you walk down a hill, your toes hit the front of your shoes — that’s potential for pain, blisters and toenails falling off. No bueno.

Each member on our team raised at least $1,800. This is money that will be used to fund programs for research and treatment programs. The walkers in San Francisco raised over four million dollars – that’s a pretty good chunk of change going to a pretty awesome cause.

And it’s important to say that because I know that during and after the walk, sometimes… I complain. My feet hurt. Walking up hills hurt my butt muscles (What?). I tripped over the crack in the middle of a street when I was crossing it (who’s surprised?). My legs ached. I was tired when I was done.

Whine. Whine. Whine.

You know what?

All my complaints? They’re so small. As a sign said “Blisters Don’t Need Chemo”. I’m grateful for my health and my ability to walk and participate to fundraise for a cause so dear to my heart. Spending two days walking with people I love is a huge win – we’ve done the hard part already: We’ve raised the money to help fund some pretty amazing programs. I’ve said since my first walk, the fundraising is more difficult than the actual walking. In these really rough economic times, I understand that it’s hard for people to part with their money – and there are a lot of amazing causes and people needing help too. It’s hard to decide where to give your resources. I’m truly blessed that so many people supported me, my efforts and this cause I believe in. EVERY DOLLAR MATTERS, EVERY DOLLAR HELPS.

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San Francisco is a breath-taking city and getting to see parts of it I might not see otherwise – well, that was phenomenal. Trust me when I say I would have never chosen to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge – nervous nelly, that’s me – but when I look at some of the pictures I took ON the bridge? Wow. I did it. I didn’t throw up while doing it. I didn’t fly off the bridge like a Yugo, either (shush. I was concerned.).

I’ve walked in Chicago twice – and I have to say San Francisco’s lack of rain and blistering heat made the walk so much more enjoyable.

And next year? Boston. I’ve never been there – and what better way to explore a new city than by walking around it? ALL around it.

Can’t wait.

To get a brief glimpse of what 39.3 looks like in SF, watch the video below.

Thursday Ten: I’m Pretty Sure I’m Melting Edition

1. Obligatory weather gripe: It’s currently 92° with a feels like temperature of 104°. If it feels like 104, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s 104. And 104 is too hot. WAY. TOO. HOT.

2. With the temps soaring as they have, the air conditioning has been running almost nonstop – and I really do not want to know how much that’s going to end up costing. Ugh. When it was still 88 at ten p.m. last night though, there was no way to just open the window and hope for “sleeping weather”. The Princess had gymnastics practice today and walked out of that sweltering building in tears – fortunately, she had stayed ultra hydrated — but the temperature in that building was barely cooler than outside, if at all – and that was far too hot for how intensive practices can be. Lesson learned.

3. Sweet! Book club has finally finally chosen a book I haven’t read yet. Today I’ll venture out to pick up The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry. Looks good if you can get past all the wretched cooking puns in the online reviews.

4. I haven’t bought any new music lately and I can’t think of any good reason why – because goodness knows, I need some new music to listen to. As I type this, I have Adele’s “Someone Like You” in my headphones, because I love the piano in this song (it’s the 16th most played song in my music library, by the way). But… no new music. Which is sad.

5. I know, I know, it’s SO YESTERDAY, but this Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake History of Rap revisit was the best thing I saw yesterday. And I still like it today. Yep. I do.

6. I didn’t see the Harry Potter movie and I’m not going to. I am a rarity and an oddball and a non-Harry Potter loving kinda person. Meh. I just never got into the series. I’m seeing a lot of references to the movie and the books online and I don’t get any of them. So… do they all die in the end? Is that what happens?

7. I’ve already signed up to walk in the 2012 Avon Walk… in Boston. Despite San Francisco’s big hills, it was the “easiest” walk for me yet in terms of not feeling negatively for weeks after. I’m doing well. I’m ready to do it again.

8. There is something stuck under my T key on the keyboard which means I have to push that key REALLY HARD to make it go. I could just… clean my keyboard. Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

9. I haven’t picked up my guitar in two months. I see its case just 10 feet from me, and I wonder why I have not given myself five minutes, ten minutes to play. Out of habit, I’ve kept my fingernails short, but I miss playing. Today. I will play my guitar today.

10. As I wrap up this less-than-riveting list, I’ve got some great chair dancing music on which is making me smile. What is your favorite SURE TO MAKE YOU DANCE IN YOUR SEAT song?

I May Need Another Two Hours of Sleep But My Lips Look Great

I am tired. After spending over a week out of state and a week trying to unbury myself from the hole that being gone for eleven days puts you in, I am trying to figure out what’s what, who’s who, and OH MY GOSH WHY IS SUMMER THREE HUNDRED YEARS LONG?

But. Anyway.

I returned from California to a few great packages of Avon stuff on my front porch for me to try out and tell y’all about. In case you didn’t catch it on Twitter, I’m one of the Brand Ambassadors for Avon – which I kind of love because given my involvement with the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer? I’m already kind of in love with the company.

So, here I am, home from California with some great stuff to try out (including a concealer that made my gruesome nose sunburn look a little less Rudolph the RedNose Reindeer and a little more…human). Fact of the matter is that generally in the summer, my already minimal makeup routine gets knocked down a few pegs and is even more grounded on simplicity than ever. Why? Well, I’m spending my days refereeing two kids – and when the temperatures ratchet their way up into the 80s and 90s, I just want to sit in the AC and try to avoid melting!

But… I don’t like to have a completely blank palette. I may skip everything else in a makeup routine (and summer months call for tinted moisturizer, mascara and sometimes a light swoop of brown eyeliner), but I want it to look intentional, not lazy.

So, I’m kinda digging the Avon SuperSHOCK liquid lipshine (They sent me Red Radiance and Melon Madness to try out). Both colors I received look VERY BRIGHT in the tube – almost scarily so – but applied? They are very wearable. In the pic above I have on Red Radiance. I love it – AND I NEVER WEAR RED. This gloss doesn’t feel too sticky (your hair WILL stick in it if the wind blows, though. Sorry), doesn’t have an overly fruity taste or an overly chemical taste (Oh, come on – you know you taste your lip gloss too), and with SPF 15, your beautiful and shiny lips get some protection from the big mean sun (your justification for wearing lip gloss at the beach).


As an Avon ambassador, I was sent product for review and will be compensated for this post, the opinions expressed within are my own, as always.

So, what do you do for fun?

It’s funny how you can have this perception of yourself – you kind of know who you are, you know what you fill your days with – and after awhile, you don’t even really give much thought to how you fill your days, just that when you wake up you do x and then after that you do y, and when your brain needs a break from life’s heavy lifting you take a few minutes for a and when you need a smile you do b, and when life is challenging you and you’re not sure how much more you can take, c always helps.

You know this, right? Because it’s just second nature to you. You know you. Kinda. Sorta.

Until someone asks you, “Tell me about yourself. What do you do for fun?”

And you sputter.

And you stall.

“Uh? Fun? Um. Well, I work a lot. I like to be busy. So, I try to fill time with work type stuff.”

Maybe you stammer out a few more useless words and phrases and then the conversation will haunt you for a week. Why can’t I answer what do I like to do for fun? I do all kinds of fun stuff! Why did I not mention this? Or that?! What was I thinking?

And then, if you are anything like me, you will blog about it – as I’m doing now.

Someone once said to me, “Sarah, you are like a hummingbird. You are always moving.” It’s an apt descriptor – I choose to be busy. When I was a kid, my dad said often, “Bored people are boring people” and at the time I wanted to screech every time he said it (because dammit, I wasn’t boring! I just needed one of the grown up people TO ENTERTAIN ME FOR FIVE MINUTES), but as an adult, I have said it once or twice. I’m sure my kids hate it too.

Idle time makes me twitchy. I’m not good at relaxing. I like to fill my days. This is partly why summer is difficult for me – I have a lot more day to fill, and I have to plan it around two children that don’t necessarily share any interests. It’s tough.

But for fun? What do I like to do?

she is something altogether different, never just an ordinary girl*

I love exercise. I am not one of those people who grudgingly adds fitness to her day – I am one of those annoying people who doesn’t feel whole without it. I enjoy the challenge of pushing my muscles to fatigue. I am elated to shave a few seconds from my mile time. When I awake in the morning and my muscles ache from a tough workout the day before? Heavenly. I enjoy that. I employ the motto “break a sweat daily” – and it’s a good rule of thumb for me – not just for my body but for my mind. I process things better when my feet are moving. On a walk or a run, the staccato of my feet hitting the pavement is a metronome in my brain – and little nagging thoughts that have troubled me often have a way of working themselves out.

oh yeah, I think it’s obvious I also like to write

Writing has been a passion of mine since I was little. My dad once said that when I was quite young, I wrote a song about an old lady giving me a penny. I don’t remember it. I’m sure it would have been better than that Rebecca Black song, though. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write – and it’s always been something that comes easily to me. While my style is just that – MY STYLE – and may not ever net me millions of dollars (or even dozens of dollars), I find it soothing.

I love blank books with blank pages and the promise and possibility of what those pages might eventually hold. These days, I’m more inclined to write at a keyboard than longhand, and I no longer have any ambition of writing some bestselling novel, but sometimes I wonder if I could do it. Do I want to? I don’t know.

This is a fear of mine – turning things I love into obligations. Does that take away from the joy you receive? I don’t know. I don’t want to find out.

I pictured us at the end of time taking pictures of nothing

Nearly three years ago, I signed up to do a photographic 365 project – taking a photo a day – and a new love was born. I found that not only was it something that brought me a tremendous amount of joy – but I find that the more I’m behind the camera, the more I am able to refine my eye.

And while I have been fearful that turning writing into an obligation might dull my love for it – I’m taking a huge breath and making an effort to turn my love of photography into a future of sorts, hoping that I can find a way to finally do as I hoped this year: do work I am passionate about.

and you’ll say girl did you kick some butt and I’ll say I don’t really remember

But it’s not just the work, and the writing, and the hiding behind the camera and the sweating out each day.

It’s the love of music and the decision at thirty(coughcough) years of age to learn something new and when given a guitar, take on the challenge and trying to learn it and becoming okay with, You know, I may never be great at this but learning it is so much fun. Something about learning something new – suddenly, I hear the music differently. I’m picking out the guitar in each song, listening to what is happening, how did they do that, why did they do that, and even if I can never do that, well, at least I know something is happening, and I understand it and I know why.

I dance in my kitchen sometimes when no one is looking – or with my daughters. Sometimes they laugh with me and join me until the dog goes crazy because what the hell is going on in his kitchen, is someone hurt, are they fighting? Silly dog, after a year, doesn’t quite understand dance.

I sing along with the radio. I sing off key a lot – sometimes jokingly, especially if I know I can’t sing it well. But sometimes I am okay. I have music genes. A little bit, anyway.

I bake cookies. Lots of cookies. I have a passion for sugar, and making things that taste good and making people happy with the things that I make. Especially cheesecake. Cheesecake seems to really make people happy.

I send cards and letters. Real ones. Hand written ones. Not as often as I should, and not for every occasion. But when I remember, it makes me feel good to send them. In this lovely technical world, it’s easy to forget the joy of finding a handwritten envelope in the mailbox.

I collect Sharpies.

I do Sudoku puzzles (slowly and badly, and in pencil).

I take bubble baths with too hot water that turns my legs pink.

I go out for coffee a lot. I curl up on the couch with magazines. I wander through bookstores and touch the books, lifting, inspecting, reading.

time expands and then contracts when you are spinning in the grips of someone who is not an ordinary girl

I’m not sure why I couldn’t describe what I like to do or who I am. And surely, it’s a good thing because when given thought, I end up rambling and explaining and clarifying and telling you just who I am. Does it matter? Hm. Maybe. Maybe not. But there’s more to me than work. There’s so much I love to do, that makes me…me. And sometimes it’s worth digging deep into it, if not for you or the next person that asks, than for myself.


* These headings are song lyrics. Bonus points if you know them. I might even send you a handwritten letter if you do.

This Mom Reads. A Lot.

As I mentioned on Twitter the other day, I had a goal to read 250 books as part of my 101 Things to Do in 1,001 days. I’m kind of stoked that I hit that goal ahead of schedule (Like… more than 2 months ahead of schedule. That’s kind of a big deal). I promised I would share my list of all 250, but then I started writing the list out and was like, “OH. SARAH. YOU CANNOT TELL PEOPLE YOU READ THAT.”

Instead, what I will do is tell you of those 250, which books I really REALLY loved. Slightly less humiliating for me, slightly more useful for you.

  1. I Love You Beth Cooper – Larry Doyle
  2. Songs Without Words – Ann Packer
  3. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  4. Columbine – Dave Cullen
  5. South of Broad – Pat Conroy
  6. Juliet, Naked – Nick Hornby
  7. The Middle Place – Kelly Corrigan
  8. Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  9. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  10. The Art of Racing In The Rain – Garth Stein
  11. Every Last One – Anna Quindlen
  12. Cars from a Marriage – Debra Galant
  13. Ask The Pilot – Patrick Smith (Note: I’m still afraid of flying, but this was entertaining)
  14. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larrson
  15. How Evan Broke His Head – Garth Stein (This one is currently under $6 on Amazon. Worth the read – I really enjoy Garth Stein)
  16. One Day – David Nicholls (Apparently they’ve made this into a movie. I hope Anne Hathaway doesn’t ruin it for me)
  17. Motherless Brooklyn – Johnathan Lethem
  18. How to Talk to a Widower – Johnathan Tropper (And then I read everything else he wrote)
  19. Little Bee – Chris Cleave
  20. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  21. The Beauty of Different – Karen Walrond
  22. Devil In the White City – Erik Larson
  23. The Lover’s Dictionary – David Levithan
  24. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  25. Cakewalk – Kate Moses

Some of these books will stay with me forever (It still chills my bones to think of We Need To Talk About Kevin). Undertaking a challenge to read 250 books in just over 1000 days means reading roughly one book for every four days – and I did it in less time. It’s easier when the book is good (I have had “A Thousand Splendid Suns” under my bed for months now – it’s difficult for me to pick it back up and so many people have raved about it).

As always, your book recommendations are welcome. I read kinda fast, so I love finding new authors and new styles that float my boat.


Thursday Ten: Jet Lag Is A Big Stupid Jerkface Edition

1. Given the Avon Walk activities towards the end of my trip to California, I was already somewhat adjusted back to Michigan time by the time we returned. The girls, however, were not. The response I get at bedtime is, “But it’s only (whatever o’clock) in California!” Yeah, well, kiddos: WE’RE NOT IN CALIFORNIA ANYMORE. It’s taking them a long time to fall asleep at night, yet we’re still having to wake up for activities and errands – so… they’re kind of overtired. Hoping we get back to our groove soon.

2. I am typing on a netbook right now, and this little keyboard makes me feel like I AM A GIANT.

3. Google+… are you on it? What do you think? Admittedly, I avoided it at first, but I do like it. I also find it amusing how there are several people out there, non-tech people at that, racing to proclaim themselves experts at Google+. Which is fine, whatever floats your boat… but… why?

4. I don’t drink enough water.

5. This morning in the car, Pumpkin and The Princess were playing the alphabet game. We do this a lot – pick a theme and for each letter of the alphabet, come up with an appropriate choice for that letter. Today was “dog breeds”. Pumpkin is such a dog fanatic that she basically wiped the floor with everyone else. Especially when she spouted off “Japanese Chin” for J. And yes, that’s a real dog.

6. One of the souvenirs I bought for myself in California was a Cal ball cap. I love hats and have decided that on the rare occasion when I’m traveling, I’d like to get a new hat. I had a massive fail in Texas, because I wanted a UT hat and couldn’t find one anywhere (I ordered it when I got home which is distinctly not the same), so in CA, I found my hat on the Berkeley campus (where I was no doubt, overcharged, because hey, new students often pay too much to buy gear with their college’s name on it. I did back in 1994). When I was in high school, I really thought I’d end up going to school at Berkeley – but didn’t – so, I wanted a hat. Got it. It’s cute and I look adorable in it (says me).

7. Yesterday’s weather in Michigan was PERFECT. Of course, it won’t stay that way. Temps in the 80s and 90s in the forecast. YUCK.

8. I have decided I need to start wearing a watch again. I stopped wearing one when Pumpkin was a baby – I didn’t want my watch to scratch her head and neck when I was holding her, but now? I think I need one again. The silly thing is that I use my phone to check the time — I wonder if I’ll ever even LOOK at my watch.

9. I have FREAKISHLY LARGE HANDS. And not just when I’m using my netbook, but whoa – they’re really huge. I bet I can palm a basketball.

10. Our book club was unable to make a decision for this month’s book and we are doing the slow democratic voting process to choose one. The problem is that I read so much that I have read most of the choices people have given this month (“One Day” by David Nicholls, “Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls) – and being the nice ladies they are, they want me to be able to read something new for a change. But currently, I’m reading Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name: A Novel, and it’s beautifully written…so far. Just 10% of the way into the book which I’m reading on my Kindle (the kindle is great for travel, but I just prefer good old fashioned books).

I went to California for 11 days and all you get is this lousy post

Well, sure you knew I was going to California for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, but nope, I didn’t exactly tell you I’d be gone over a week, did I? That always seems like a less than fabulous idea: Hey, I’ll be leaving July 1 for eleven days. Break into my house.

I kinda like my house and my stuff – hence, no advance notice of my vacation.

What I didn’t intend is that I would completely neglect this space all together for the entire time I was gone – crappy, unreliable internet connection made it pretty necessary, though – and pecking out a blog post on my phone really wasn’t that appealing to me (though I imagine the auto-correct disasters could have been amusing).

So, back to California after 17 years away and it was definitely a big time, and busy week and a half (ish). We stayed with my dad and his wife – nothing kicks you back into childhood patterns quite like spending SO. MUCH. TIME. with your parents. I am grateful that they housed us, fed us, and hauled us all around. Those moments of “I’m old and grown, please don’t try to parent me” were a bit tough to swallow, and when it was time to head to the city to stay in a hotel for the Avon Walk, well… I was kind of glad.

But. Enough about that.

It was a big week – with day trips to the Exploratorium (amazing, love), San Francisco Zoo, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (in Vallejo), Golden Gate Park, and of course, all the sites I took in while I was meandering forty miles around San Francisco and across the Bay in Marin, Sausalito and Corte Madera. I may have done it up tourist style (which I don’t entirely mind – I’ve seen a lot of it before, but it’s a gorgeous city), but I saw and did almost everything I wanted (exception: I really wanted to try In n’ Out Burger. I don’t know why. It just seemed like something I should do).

The Walk was amazing (more about that in the next few days). I was excited to be in California, and I was ready to come home yesterday (mostly because Pumpkin developed an allergy of some sorts to the state, that my mom tells me today that I had when our family first moved to California back when I was a wee teeny tiny little fat baby).

The flight to California were… something. Tremendous turbulence on the way there had me so wound up that I would have been fine with renting a car for the return trip home rather than fly again. Fortunately, most of yesterday’s journey was smooth (except flying over the plains states. Stupid stupid turbulent states).
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I got to spend time seeing beautiful things with people I love. I got to visit with friends, old and new. I ate some really delicious food (also, I finally tried almond milk – the verdict is still out on that one. I think I like it? Maybe?). I didn’t get enough sleep. I took a lot of pictures. I didn’t drive for 11 days (but was able to remember what I was doing enough this morning when I dropped The Princess off at gymnastics to not cause any major wreck).

In short, it was good to be gone and it’s good to be home.

Except… I think I like their weather better. Michigan weather sucks.