Friday, January 30, 2015


Back in my junior college days I took a basic course in sociology one year in which the only thing I really remember is the age old "Nature vs. Nurture" debate discussed over the course of one long semester. Back then I wasn't sure exactly what I believed, in regards to which proved more prominent in the overall evolution of one's character and core being. But now so many years later and a mother to four, I can say that my faith in nature has knocked everything else off the table. Proving far more defining than I could have ever possibly imagined in the nine years I've been a mother. Like I mentioned a hundred times before, the mystery of how four boys born of the same blood raised under the same roof could be so impossibly different, with the foundation of the their character so extreme from one another, from the very start never ceases to behoove me. Sometimes in the center of the storm of our house brews on the daily, the fact of it really hits me. Seeing just how the major dynamics of this home power on full of so many shakes and shifts with each contributing member tilting it from varying angles at any given minute. The relationships that vary and exist separate from sibling to sibling, the bonds that are build, and the personality peaks and hallows they each bring to the mix. It's been quite a wild thing to witness. And with each passing year, I find myself only more and more enthralled with the fact of it. How the basic rules of nature seem to cancel out just about everything else and that really, despite of our unwavering hand and guidance, each of my boys is who they have always been from the first day I held them in my arms. In other words, Rex now, is no different than Rex at 8 months.

Yesterday he turned five. With not the slightest promise of slowing (or calming) down. Still by far, my most reckless and rambunctious son. A boy we find ourselves in tears of frustration over regularly, armed with a fierce sense of autonomy and old school grit, unapologetic in his toughness and downright fearless above the rest. But also someone I've come to admire most in my life. Knowing full and well those same traits that tear me up at times as his mother, will also be the ones that will serve him best down life as a man. Creative and funny, the life of the party, confident beyond his years. He is a handful and at times a bully, but intensely loyal and the absolute sweetest thing his baby bother has known so far in his short life. He is and always will be a force to be reckoned with. With a face you can't help but fall in love with. And now just like that, he's five.

Happiest birthday, Rex Michael Kraus.

Photos taken on a summer day at my mom's house by Ashley last year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Scenes From a Weekend

And all I know is that it whipped by us in a flash. The kind of spur of the moment, loose fun we haven't had in quite some time. A whole holiday weekend with a fully unmarked calendar is a rarity these days and boy did we try and make the most of it.

Highlights I can recall, in no specific order and no specific preference:
A yard sale at my mom's house early Friday morning, tacos paired with Micheladas with the neighbors in the evening, Arlo pushing their vintage green mini cooper like a toy back down the block after it ran out of gas fresh on it's first joy ride in months. Sweet Paddington on the big screen with buckets full of popcorn at the theater, sporadic clay endeavors in the dining room that started with big plans but ended in a variety of all kinds of odd, quirky creations still drying on our mantle. A first attempt at a Long Beach flea market morning as a full count family of six, followed by an hour long (fruitless) attempt at hunting down dollar kites in liquor stores that didn't seem to have the slightest clue about what it was that I was searching for. Settling instead on Mexican food laid out on a blanket at our favorite beach, short naps on the sand in the afternoon followed by a tray full of McDonald's Sundays in the drive through at dusk. Regular late night airstream talks and renovations back at home. Breaking up one laughable fist fight in the halls over hot wheels. A baby with a face full of sand, grinning fiercely up at me from shore with hands clenching dirty orange peels, or soggy sand scores, on knees that seemed to only grow quicker every waking day, taking him where he wants when he wants, no matter the new stress it lends to Mommy.

And then Tuesday. Tossed at us like a hunk of concrete on the curb. Brining with it a serious case of the mid week blues. The kind of dragging feeling that comes to cling in the shadows of these perfectly played family weekends once they've slipped by. Dragging our feet back to the school halls. Limping listless around the laundry room. With nothing but the countdown towards another long and vacant Saturday, on the forfront of our minds.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Clearing Out

I started out this new year the same as everybody else. Amped and fully charged to forge some serious life style changes that would in turn hopefully better my state of mind from here on out. Things I mentioned previously in the brief resolution post below. To eat better, to excise more regularly, to write and read more, and basically - most importantly - to direct my focus and energy more intentionally in regards to every thing I do. Something I've been thinking about a lot leading up to this new year. The ever pressing issue of time management and how much we really are in charge of what we can accomplish based on where and how we devout our attention throughout the day. Though a few days in I started to feel the familiar sense of defeat already creeping in. And then it occurred to me. The weight of disorder plaguing just about every corner of my house, always in the forefront of mind, were in fact poisoning most hope of any successful new resolutions because how can you concentrate on writing when laundry is spilling out of your closet? And your desk is buried and your dishes piled? And how can you expect to exercise guilt free when your room is crammed with stacks of clean clothes but no place to put them? And the awful extent of your pantry is taunting you every time you pass it, and the sad state of your kitchen cupboards make you want to sit down and cry every time you attempt a new meal? And how in world can your children help clean it all up if in fact they aren't sure where so many things go either?

Basically, I hit a breaking point and felt the urge to toss out any damn thing in my way. I was SO incredibly tired of coming home to the piles and stacks and boxes and whatnot. So much that I stopped thinking about any other resolutions I made and dedicated myself to working through the clutter instead. With the help of my always dutiful sister we decided to tackle this house, one corner at a time starting with the laundry room and moving yesterday into the kitchen. As of now I am mid way through. Feeling so much lighter and freer already that I probably run the risk of sounding like a preach all by going into to much further detail about how enlightened my state of mind has become in just the few days of new organization I've been waking to. The peace of mind that comes with suddenly having so much less "STUFF" to think and deal with, feels something like a small awakening.

All the reason I won't be back here until I am close to feeling more finished. Slicing computer / internet time was the first thing I realized I needed to do to actually make a dent here. But when I return, I hope to hatch out a series of posts dedicated to this kind of desperate decluttering. Not because I am feeling anything close to an expert - believe me this will always be the furthest thing from the truth, but because I know so many others reading might be feeling the exact same way, weighed and defeated by things, and I want to encourage anybody out there who needs it, to just clear it all out.

As of now, I am working a second round of the closets, stripping more shoes and toys, and whatever else the boys have accumulated over the past few months that need to go. The working formula being: a little more coffee, a lot more patience, forced / faltering determination, and whole lot less phone time. Results, so far so good.

See you all soon,

Friday, January 9, 2015

Brunch at The Commissary

Where: The Line Hotel, Korea Town Los Angels

I am always hesitant to do any kind of restaurant reviews here only because I am plain terrible at both photographing and describing food. By all means I am not what anyone would ever refer to as a "foodie" but figure a restaurant this appealing pretty much speaks for itself. I mean, who doesn't want to dine in a greenhouse crammed with exotic plants and fresh juiced cocktails?

We met last week on a Monday for my best friend's birthday brunch where I suggested The Commissary because the few photos I had seen online looked like an ideal place to spend a morning with the girls and, a testing out a new restaurant is always fun. Luckily baby Hayes, with his first few teeth and fierce new appetite is quite happy to be anywhere near any kind of food these days and the same seems to go for the company of a table full of pretty girls too.

As for review. I'll keep it simple. The overall setting is gorgeous. Open, fresh with natural light that feels just as refreshing as the menu which consists of simple picture drawings and a whole lot of fancy vegetables. At the entrance there are baskets stuffed with woven Mexican blankets for your comfort in the evening to bundle up with when the chill kicks in. The servers are well equipped with a robust knowledge of just about every ingredient involved in all of the entrees and more than eager to share their own personal favorites as well as other suggested food / side parings. There a great selection of signature cocktails to choose from too, but if you know me you know I always pick a boring old beer.

I came hungry so I opted for the burger (delicious!) and my friends tried everything from the Bass, to the cheese platter to the cooked carrots they are most notorious for. I won't go into detail, because, as stated above, I lack real skill when in comes to quality food descriptions, but will say they lived up to all the hype I read on yelp while nursing the baby in the parking lot beforehand.

Point being, if you are anywhere near or heading down to L.A for a visit, you'll want to check this place out. And be sure you eat your carrots.

On a Thursday

Sometimes big brothers make you cry. Sometimes they make you laugh.
Everything in between keeps Ma on her toes.

Yesterday's trip to the San Juan Mission. With zero photos of the actual Mission due to an exceptional amount of fits and fists. A lot refereeing, fake falling, overall complaining and sneak attack tackles guised as hugs. The boys have been going non stop for the past three weeks. To parties and relatives house's to sleepovers and skateparks.Yesterday my plans for a family day at The Griffith Observatory were scrapped by the rest of the house, for something closer, more "convenient" that didn't involve Los Angeles traffic. The kind of veto I remained slightly bitter about all day long. But they fed koi fish, panned for gold, learned lessons on off roading a baby in a new stroller, and we even managed Mexican food for a late lunch before dropping them off at Grandma's on our way home for the night.

They currently have three days remaining on winter break. I think we're all fine with that.