All my life I've claimed that I am, at heart, a true cold weather girl. I thought I liked the rain and clouds more than I preferred the sun and always found our trips up to northern California so romantic because of their gray damp coastal weather.
Turns out, I was dead wrong.
It's been three weeks and counting we've had these heavy clouds hanging over us and all I can say is by day three I was done. I can't stand how negatively it effects my mood. Almost to the point I stopped wanting to even get dressed (many days last week I didn't bother) or go anywhere, or do anything. My feet are cold, my motivation deflated, and my state of mind bleak and uninspiring. So all those years I was wrong. I do need the sun. And lots of it. Which I realize means that basically I could really never thrive anywhere outside of Southern California. But, I think I'm ok with that.
This past weekend in spite of the unfaltering cloud cover I forced us all out of the house to the beach - we needed to get out and we were shocked (and delighted!) to find clear skies and even a little sun at a beach spot notorious for being a typically cloudy basin. We met our friends for a mid evening BBQ and let the kids test out their new kites, gifted to us by Sailing Ship Kites a couple weeks ago which they've been dying to try. Unfortunately the wind wasn't enough to get them very high, but they were determined so they jetted back and forth along the shore as we watched and rooted them from the fire pits.
The rest of the weekend was slow and largely uneventful. The baby pulled every book from every low shelf in the house, Mike got the double cab running, and then it broke down up the street by the park, Arlo made himself a couple new iron on tee shirts, the boy's spent the night at their cousins house again, and I finally settled in to say a final goodbye to Don Draper. Sunday night Mike and I watched the Mad Men series finale which left me in tears, as expected. That phone call between Don and Betty where he calls her "Birdie" again was just too much. Like any beloved book, or television show it's always hard when it comes to a close to say goodbye to people you've come to love in way of fantastically fleshed out characters and top notch writing. I loved the show from start to finish, every aspect of it and will miss it dearly. I also thought the finale episode was a perfect ending. So cheers to Matthew Wiener for brining it home. Though two days later I'm still swooning over those last visions of Don in that denim jacket wandering aimlessly around the grounds of that lush hippie retreat. But, we'll always have Netflix . . .
Hope you all had a great holiday weekend. The day after is always hard to bounce back from. And the gray skies aren't helping anyone around here either.
Summer, please hurry.
A cumulation of things heard, and overheard, around the house these past few weeks.
"My name's not Rex. It's Bloodshot."
- Rex, revealing a new chosen name that came with being promoted to lead singer in his brother's budding rock band. Along with flannel shirts unbuttoned and cut off jean shorts a la Axel Rose.
"No, Rex, it doesn't go like that!"
- Arlo, frustrated at Rex adding incorrect lyrics (nobody wants yooooouuuuu, nobody needs yoooouuuu, nobody even LIKES yoooooouuuuu") to their ever serious attempt at a Black Sabath version of Iron Man.
"I just want to be good in my life."
Hand over heart, Leon muttering to himself in the backseat on a long drive home from the beach. Reinstating the suspected notion that he is in fact some kind of next age, modern prophet, OR, the new Oprah.
"He's crying because he doesn't like his name either."
- Rex, claiming Hayes's tears are because he would rather be called "bones" or "Little Bloodshot" than what we actually named him.
"You know them TOO!?"
- Arlo, disheartened to learn the Red Hot Chili Peppers (just like the Beasty Boys) are sadly not new or unique to his generation, but from his Mother and Father's, who also happen to know and can sing along to, every, single, word.
"Just let him go where he wants to, ok. Stop trying to ruin his life."
- Rex, directed at me at the park, guarding Hayes from dangerous spots on the jungle gym play ground where he could possibly take a major spill. And apparently, ruining his life while doing so. "Mom, Rex said I can't be in their band because I'm not a rock 'n roll guy. But then I said, I'm gonna tell mom and she's gonna MAKE you let me be in that band, right mom?" - Leon, sadly proving himself that he's not maybe as rock 'n roll as he would like us all to believe . . .
"Oh, well I just saw a butterfly, so I'm just waiting for him to land. "
- Leon, finger outstretched to the sky during a picnic, holding out everlasting hope of having the darn thing land on his fingertip. Because if it can happen to Sponge bob, it can happen to anyone.
"For being funny, and making people laugh" -Rex, when asked why he got kicked out of the neighbors house during a mid day playdate. Truth be told: he kicked over his friend's beloved lego creation in anger when he wasn't given a second life on Mario Brothers.
"Ok. I know, I know, I know I am! Stop making me feel bad about it!"
- Leon, in reference to Rex always ending every insult with the same old line "AND, you're married, Leon."
"Well now he said I can be the waterboy. I can pass out cold water bottles to the audience. And my shirt is going to say "BOSS."
- Leon, finally accepting Arlo's offered role as glorified roadie, so long as he gets to help thirsty people and wear his title on his sleeve, errr . . shirt.
"Yep. God fell off a cross in front of a like one million people. My teacher was there. She saw him, Leon."
- Rex, in an ever dramatic retelling of one of his recent preschool teachings.
"Stop LIAM!! You almost burnt ME, you know that?! But lucky for you, I'm FIRE PROOF."
- Rex, to neighbor kid blowing out a candle HE wanted to blow out. Full of grand allusions, always.
"I can't find it Mom. I looked but I just see like a big box of these weird black things"
- Arlo, stumbling onto a box of VHS tapes stored in the closet.
"No, it's Arlo's. I sneaked it off his finger when he was sleeping."
- Rex, regarding the mood ring that appeared suddenly, suspiciously, upon his finger after being lost for some time. So I asked. Turns out, wasn't his. But yet another trophy of bedtime mugging.
"Jesus comes down from the sky and he finds all the lost skateboards in the world and then, he washes them, and leaves them on your front porch when you are sleeping. He finds the stolen ones too. So I know he's going to find mine soon. "
- Rex, explaining one ,very hopeful, but much less talked about roles of Jesus. Recollector of all stolen skateboards. Leon, not buying any of it.
"Why do you want to be so mean all the time?! WHY? WHYYYYYY?!!?"
- Leon, like Marlon Brandon in Street Car, hysterical in response to Rex snagging the first poured bowl of cereal.
"Oh wow, poor Leon."
- Arlo's pitied response to his brother's kindergarten naiveté, in hearing him talk about the gingerbread man they made in class that actually got up and ran away through the night. But then was quick to remind him later that day to "be sure your put tooth under the pillow, Leon! If the tooth fairy didn't come last night, it'll be tonight for sure!"
"Rex is cool. He sings good you just can't understand most of the things he's saying."
- Arlo, proud of his protege.
"Journey knows now and she got mad so I told her she could still call me her little marshmallow, but only to her mom."
- Leon, forever conflicted by non stop girl problems, love issues and school house heartaches, had to inform "the other girl" that his real love, Journey didn't approve of her pet nickname for him. But that she was free to use it in her mother's presence.
"Mom, Arlo told me that when you have surgery, the doctors cut you open with light sabers. Is that true, mom?"
- Leon, stumped on yet another big brother built myth. The last one being a detailed account about "the evil Easter bunny" who comes sometimes in place of the good one, big as a house, with red glowing eyes that kept poor Rex awake in fright for a week straight leading up to the big holiday.
"I told her you love Bob Dylan more than God, right mom?"
- Rex, relaying what he told his teacher that day.
This morning's brown bagged bundles wrapped with love, filled with favorites, in thanks to our every day heroes. In honor of Teacher's Appreciation week.
And many more thanks to any teachers reading here, who help make this world a better place. Day after day, hour after hour. Putting your time and patience into molding the face, hearts and heads of our future. You guys are something else.
Rex and I spent Monday afternoon, just the two of us, down at Shutters on The Beach Hotel in Santa Monica celebrating the launch of Jennifer Garner's new craft line for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store. I really hadn't a clue as to what to expect as far as these kinds of celebrity based functions go, but like most people I adore Jennifer Garner and figured anything she was invested in that had to do with children (and crafting) was likely well worth our while. Turns out I was right. Walking through the door I was relieved to find the overall vibe was just as I had hoped: warm & friendly. Casual and fun. Made up of an intimate mix of bloggers and grafters, their children, a handful of media and a couple photographers. We snacked on crab cake burgers and chicken wings, mac and cheese, veggie sticks, ahi tuna with fresh lemonade to wash it all down. The food on hand was delicious and we were free to roam the tables at our leisure. Testing out an array of the craft kits that are going to be part of a 100 part series debuting this summer. Rex was easily entertained the whole time and proved especially well behaved. I even caught him mingling with the craft aids and other children while taking special care to finish up each craft he sat down to complete. Thank. God.
Outside we were gathered for a round table talk with Jennifer about the line - where it sprang from and what was most important to her in the initial stages of design. She was lovely. Down to earth, openly engaging. Pretty in a real, and relatable way. In fact within about two minutes I think we all just about forgot any of the imposed Hollywood hype attached to her and her name and became totally focused on the background stories she shared about being raised by a hard working, DIY mom with a serious knack for all things craft based. Her mother made all their clothes and baked all & any treats kept in the house. She joked about her and her sisters being desperate as kids, for store bought Oreos or a box of "Little Debbies"in the pantry, but that her mom never caved. How it's things like that that she appreciates now as an adult. She also described spending many afternoons on the weekends at Jo-Anne's as a young girl with her mother which, for me made this particular partnership a little more appealing than your typical star based, brand product pairing.
Other fun points discussed round the table - because let's be honest, who doesn't enjoy hearing about how the famed spend their downtime - was that she bakes bread for the family every Sunday. A routine in which each of her children come to contribute. Even her three year old son who she says is happy to sit with simple ingredients he is allowed to mix and measure while she ties up the rest. She said that she cooks as much as she can and tries to prep meals throughout the week. But confessed to "never being prepared" on the go, to bumming diapers off other mothers in public and packing her glove box with wipes and necessities instead of lugging around a fully stocked diaper bag (hey, me too!) When asked what advice she might give to new mothers, she gave my favorite answer of the day further securing her reputation as an A list actress with a down home outlook. "Is it OK to say I don't believe in giving advice to other mothers?" She asked laughing, and then concluded that if pressed for a single tag line her standing advice would have to be "go with your gut and lean on your girlfriends." Which tells me right there she's my kind of lady.
We wrapped up the evening back at the craft tables with Jennifer amongst the kids where she chatted with a couple of her real life friends who stopped in to say hello, thanked us all for driving "so far," and obliged all and any requests for photos with her.
Altogether it ended up a really lovely afternoon. Jennifer, a true delight and the line something I am genuinely excited to share here. We came home bearing bags full of a few crafts we hadn't tried, all of which Rex and his brothers are loving. The quality of the wood, the playfulness of design and choice of color and textures are fantastic. But after hearing her talk about how much time she spent ensuring each part of every package lined up with her vision, it doesn't come as any surprise. Her hand and direction are evident in all the well loved details.
So you guys have got to keep an eye out for these fun additions to be stocked on shelves June 21st. With pricing ranging anywhere from 8.99 - 29.99 they make for a fun and practical birthday party gift and with a generous portion of proceeds benefiting "Save The Children" it feels like a win win in every regard.
And, if you do try them out, please let me know which ones you like best? As of now we're partial to the string art kit, the solar light, and hoop hideaway and the sibling blanket. But, with a 100 kits to choose from, the choices feel almost endless.
You can find a little more about the line with Jennifer explaining it here
A few months back, near the start of the school year Arlo's third grade teacher mentioned what a strong reader he was during my parent conference and showed me how he had tested at the top of this class in all of the reading sections, which I was somewhat surprised to hear. Not because I doubted his ability but because it got me wondering why, if he did excel in that area, I really didn't see him reading much outside of if what was linked to his regular homework requirements.
And then it hit me, I had been making the mistake of assuming that an early love of reading would simply root itself if it were ever going to at all. I had enjoyed books around his age and picked them up on my own accord, but see now that that's not always the case. Expecting him to fall in love with it on his own felt like a lazy mistake on my part but at nine years old, I also knew it wasn't too late to fix.
I decided to give him a little push without making it seem like anything of the sort - so I used what I know motivates him best (at this age, anyway) Money. I told him I would give him 20$ if he read the entire first book of Harry Potter and could explain to me, in detail, the story's main characters and overall premise. He happily agreed and blew through the book in a week with ease. Laying awake every single night after his bath, tucked in bed ultimately falling asleep with the book on his chest. When he was finished the first he begged for the next in the series and two months later he is just beginning book four. Now he genuinely looks forward to the end of the night, to climbing in bed to pick up where he left off the night prior. I even caught him curled up in a corner recently reading during a movie he put on with a school friend here sleeping over. Needless to say, so far it's looking like the best 20 bucks I ever spent.
This weekend I made him a couple custom denim stitched bookmarks using fabric scraps, super thin plastic strips / cardboard hot glued with a little felt marker up top and sewn around the bottom edges. A really quick, easy project with all required tools I already had on hand. A cute way to keep his pages marked instead of the old dog eared tricks he's been relying on for weeks.
Thinking I'll whip up a couple extra, maybe slightly more colorful versions this evening in honor of "teacher's appreciation week" which starts to tomorrow. We have five days to fill, which means ten contribtuions and tomorrow's flower themed suggestion just might work pretty perfectly here.