Category Archives: San Francisco


When Matt came to bed last night I woke up just enough to ask, “Where’s Mom?”

“What?” he asked, laughing.

“Where’s Mom?” I repeated, getting annoyed. “It’s 11 o’clock and she’s not home yet!”

Thankfully, he oriented me pretty quickly. “She lives in California and you’re in Chicago…”

He could’ve really messed with my head. I’m not sure I’d have been so kind.


I don’t know if the major dream I remember began with that confusing, sleepy conversation, but it seems likely.

I had a long, involved dream in which some kind of new opportunity came up for Matt in San Francisco, where we lived for almost 10 years before moving here in 2006.

In the dream we ultimately realized that there were more opportunities for us there (something we do joke about once in a while, as many interesting things for each of us have surfaced in the Bay Area since we left) and that we needed to move back.

I remember being in tears in my dream, overwhelmed with the idea of leaving my beloved Chicago, but making all sorts of practical decisions (such as deciding we’d go back to renting rather than trying to buy a home) at the same time. It seemed at the time that it was something we had to do and I was resigned to it.

When I woke up, I was shocked to find it was a dream and that I was more than a little sad about that.


Quotes from the Past

On an organizing spree recently, I came across a brown notebook that looked vaguely familiar. I opened it and there was writing on a few of its small pages. It turns out it was where we wrote funny quotes from Baxter when he was 26-27 months old – “Our first blog,” Matt observed.

In an effort to relieve myself of the responsibility of keeping track of these few pages, I am going to set the quotes down here for our family’s future enjoyment:

Baxter: “What’s that?”

Mommy: “That’s the new necklace I got for Christmas.”

Baxter: “I want to need it!”

Mommy: “Well, this one is my special necklace.”

Baxter: “Mommy share it with Baxter, please!!”

(26 mos.)


“Look at that Daddy! He’s big enough!” – Baxter, looking at Matt’s hand. (27 mos.)


“Oh, Mommy is so fancy!” Whispered before falling asleep, holding Mommy’s hand to his cheek. (27 mos.)


“What is that gee peeking out?” Asked about a singular goose looking around the corner of the page in a book. (27 mos.)


“Where does the sky come from? Where does the sun come from?” (27 mos.)


“What means I’m sorry?” (27 mos.)


“Baxter played with those cars last night with Uncle Dana!” (27 mos.)

One Lucky Mama

It was almost time for Lyle to change into his pajamas this evening when I offered to take him on a short dog walk with me.  We decided to walk just down to the beach and back to get a little fresh air.  As Lyle ran ahead, screeching to a halt as if his shoes had some sort of braking system at each driveway and alleyway, I took in how still the night was.  It had been a chilly and windy day here, necessitating my winter down coat for our earlier walks; I didn’t need it anymore tonight.

The beach lured us in, sunlight glowing on the rising waves.  The air was still and we watched a dozen seagulls coasting over the water, waiting to see one diving for a fish. We talked about different types of shells we found and I showed him that there were huge shadows over the lake because the sun was setting behind us, behind the buildings at the end of our street. But where the sun was bright, the light on the water, the sand, and my boy was beautiful.

The scene reminded me of one of my favorite Mother’s Days, when we lived in San Francisco, a few months before Lyle was born.  I woke up in our apartment that day to breakfast in bed brought in by Matt and Baxter (probably from Arizmendi Bakery), and we looked out our bedroom window at a clear, sunny spring day.  On a fogless day like that we could see the ocean about 30 blocks away from our bed, and suddenly being there was all I wanted.  And so the three of us headed out to play at Ocean Beach after breakfast and it was a glorious morning. My sense memory of the clear California sunlight and that blue, blue water is very strong. I felt lucky to be in it.

3-year old Baxter patting unborn Lyle on Mother’s Day 2004

As I thought about that long ago morning, I was overwhelmed with the realization that I was standing on a beach in Chicago this time, talking to that once unborn child, six years later on the eve of Mother’s Day, when suddenly it started to rain. Hard, and from out of nowhere.  “Lyle!” I said, delighted, “the sun is shining and it’s raining! We should look for a –” I turned as I said it and there in front of us was suddenly forming the most incredible rainbow I’ve seen in my life.  It extended over Lake Michigan in a perfect arc, both ends resting atop the water right in front of us and appearing to be close enough that we could reach out, grab it and take it home in our pockets to admire later.  As the colors became brighter and stronger, there emerged a slightly lighter second rainbow – a double rainbow! – above it.  I looked around but we were the only ones on the beach to witness this wonder so close up. If I’d had my camera with me you would have thought I’d photoshopped it in, it was that unbelievable.  I searched for an image similar to it and it was somewhat like this one without the landforms behind it and a little brighter and closer.

We stood there in amazement. I told my boy that seeing a rainbow like this will bring us great luck and we talked about how special it was to have seen it together. We stood back on the sidewalk before it faded and carefully made our own visual memories of it so we’d never forget it.  I know we never will.

I now have another amazing Mother’s Day memory from another beach in a different city with my second child to add to my cache. I felt like the luckiest person in the whole world.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Lyle’s rendering: to help him remember

California in Pictures – Bay Area Visit

After Christmas, the four of us dashed up to the Bay Area to visit family and friends.  It was a whirlwind 2 1/2 days filled with lots of great fun, friends, and delicious food.  We spent one night in our old neighborhood, The Sunset, and another on the peninsula with my aunt and uncle.  We visited friends in San Francisco, Piedmont, San Carlos, and Redwood City, before heading back down to my parents’ house in Pacific Grove!

photo credit: Chris and Christa

California in Pictures – Christmas Eve

We spent most of Christmas Eve day with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. We started out at Carmel Beach where Matt, Dana, and the boys staged a very dramatic battle.  Later we went out for a great lunch at Quail Run Golf Course in Carmel Valley, where my uncle took the boys for their first spin in a golf cart.

Here’s What Came Next…

When I asked the question, “What’s next?” in my last post, it was a legitimate question about my professional life.  Looking at it this evening, however, I have to laugh, because what came next was a complete and utter whirlwind.  A happy, social, whirlwind filled to the brim with people I love, to be sure, but not exactly a couple weeks of introspection.  Where are those blog posts I promised?  The ones about how I’m heading in new directions?  Perhaps those will come in the next few weeks.  Or maybe when the boys go to school in September and I (theoretically) have time to think.

Truth is, each day of these past two weeks has deserved its own blog post, Wonderfriends.  I had all of one normal day at home with the boys after I finished work in July before I flew out to San Francisco for 4 days.  While there, I had not only the joy of spending time with some wonderful members of my family and old friends from our years in California, but I timed my trip to attend Vicki Forman‘s reading from “This Lovely Life” in Corte Madera last Thursday night and Shannon Rosa‘s party celebrating the book the following night.  I therefore had the privilege of hanging out with Vicki and her fabulous daughter (yay, Josie!) and delightful husband Cliff, Shannon‘s incredible posse (so happy to meet Leelo and his rockin’ sisters), Susan and her awesome guys (one of whom impressed me with his mad Wii skills), Christa, Chris, and Ben (I met Ben! Adorable Ben! And he kissed me on the lips!), the fabulous Drama Mama and her beauteous daughters, Gwendomama (with that tow-headed sweetheart of a son), and Jennifer and her hilarious husband.  Imagine my good fortune!  Imagine the laughs and food and conversation!  And seeing those wonderful kids I’ve followed on their mothers’ blogs for years, all swimming and playing — together.  It was fantastic.

So there was that trip.  The boys were at a previously scheduled 4-day session of Camp OmaPops in Libertyville, where they partied with their cousins and chose to sleep in sleeping bags on the floors while their parents took advantage of Daddy’s stint at the Clift Hotel (hello, fancy!) for work.  The children didn’t even notice we were gone.  In fact, they were too busy to talk to me each time I called and so I didn’t actually speak to them from Tuesday morning until Sunday.  Go figure, they’re getting older. (Cue the happy dance.)

I flew back from San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, mere hours after my parents had arrived here in Chicago to visit us from California.  And so what followed were 4 fun-filled days with my parents and the boys here at home.  (My jet setting husband left on a business trip again as soon as I had been home 24 hours.)  Although we had one big outing to the Field Museum, we spent lots of time just relaxing here at our house, playing “Pokemon battle” (my parents tried very hard to get into this – they get a lot of credit), hanging out at the beach down the street, and chatting.  There were walks to the park and Chipotle with Papa, stories and sand castles with Nana, and the best “pre-birthday” party two boys could ask for.  The long faces on the last day were very impressive.  Lyle asked them to stay for a year, but Baxter glumly noted that if they stayed a year, we’d be so used to them being around by that point that it would be even harder to say good-bye.  So we had to let them go, despite our sadness.

That was yesterday.  Last night the four of us had dinner together for the first time in 10 days, which we celebrated by not cooking; Matt brought home burgers and we had a picnic at the beach.

And so what did I do to relax and unwind today?  Good question!  I’ll tell you: I hosted Beach Day ’09, our 3rd annual summer beach party with Matt’s whole family!  (Sad to say, Matt had to be at work.)  Yes, there were 16 of us here at the beach today – all 8 cousins together, having the time of their lives.  I had pizzas delivered to the beach and an ugly-ass Ice Age cake back at the house to celebrate a bunch of the kids’ birthdays.  It was a perfectly perfect day – 85 degrees and sunny, no humidity.  A blast all around.

If you’re exhausted just reading this, don’t be.  It might be appropriate for you to have concerns about my sanity, but I’ve loved every minute of it.  I’m heading in to work tomorrow to see a few clients and then I get a well-deserved quiet weekend.  Matt is road-tripping with the boys to St. Paul, MN tomorrow to spend a long weekend with some great friends of ours (members of the Libertyville Four).  I personally would not choose to drive our darlings  7 hours by myself twice in one weekend, but if it’s all about a positive attitude, he’ll be fine. I know they’ll have a fantastic time there and I’m hopeful the boys will get to see the college where their parents met.

As for me, you’ll find me here unearthing my home office, throwing out crappy toys when the kids aren’t here to see, reading on the couch, reading at the beach, reading in bed, seeing some friends, and maybe even blogging some more.  All in all, a damn fine weekend ahead.

And when the kids return, things will be a lot quieter.  No more overnight guests, no road trips, no jet-setting.  Just a few weeks of normal summer life at home with the kids before school starts.  Tonight, that sounds just about right.

Why I Blog

Thanks to my years of boring you all with the ridiculous minutiae of our lives blogging, I have at my fingertips a vast treasure trove of “when you were little” stories for the boys.

Tonight, for the first time, I crawled into each of their beds for our good-night cuddle and told them this story, the one about the day when little kindergartner Baxter asked the big boys on the playground if he could borrow their basketball for his baby brother. (Go read it – it’s amazing.)

The telling left Lyle a big bundle of gratitude for his brother; he hugged himself under the covers and asked, “Will you tell me that story again and again and again all night?” Later he ran to his brother’s bed, crawled in, and asked sweetly, “Do you love me, Baxter?”

As for Baxter, hearing this story for the first time left his eyes shining in the dark at the very thought of his own bravery and kindness. His church class had been discussing the concept of “compassion” with a Buddhist guest today, and I suggested that this was one of his early acts of compassion. He was incredibly proud to hear about it.

I’d have never in a million years remembered that story in such detail if I hadn’t written it down that day.  I’m so happy to have all of these memories preserved.

On the Road Again

I am frantically trying to prepare for our trip to California, even as I attempt to decompress from an emotionally gut-wrenching afternoon at work.  However, I was measurably cheered by this video tonight (sorry, couldn’t embed it for some reason), sent to us this morning from our friend Michael, who is in Germany at the moment.  I might just need to watch it every night before bed to stave off bad dreams.

Okay, yes, I did buy that song, too.  What?

And so I will be flying with the kids to San Francisco on Friday, at which point I’ll bring the small urchins down to my parents’ house and then make the trek back up to the city on Saturday, just in time for the BlogHer conference Special Needs panel.  Following the afternoon sessions and the cocktail party (woot!), I will have the great privilege of dining with many blogger friends (including all of the aforementioned panelists!) in Chinatown.  I’ll stay at the conference hotel with a friend and then have lunch the next day at one of my favorite restaurants in my old neighborhood with some loud and funny old friends.  (Is there anything better than loud and funny old friends? No, there is not.  Except, perhaps, loud and funny new blog friends who feel like old friends.  Did you follow that?)

The following 10 days are so packed, what with my 4-day SCERTS training, staying with my parents, Matt arriving for a fun-filled Week Two, spending a few nights at my cousin’s sweet-ass apartment in the Mission, and seeing tons of friends (including a serendipitous overlap for one day with this great family whom we have missed so much!) that it doesn’t bear describing.  Suffice it to say I will learn a great deal, have a ton of fun, and probably be more than a little nostalgic.  (You know. For a change.)

See you soon – some of you here, and the rest of you there!

Talk to me about BlogHer ‘08

Okay, let’s chat about BlogHer!  First, I was going for sure, then I became fairly sure I couldn’t swing it at all.  And I was kind of okay with that.

UNTIL, that is, I heard about the “MommyBlogging: Blogging About Our Children with Special Needs” panel that includes some of my absolute favorite bloggers on that podium together – those among my daily reads, for sure – that will be taking place in San Francisco on Saturday, July 18.   We’re talking about Susan Etlinger, Vicki Forman (of Love You to Pieces fame), Jennifer Graf Groneberg (of Road Map to Holland fame), and Kristina Chew!  Holy amazing bloggers, Batman!!  Read on:


MommyBlogging: Blogging About Our Children with Special Needs If parenting in general can be isolating, it can be more so when raising a child with special needs. Susan Etlinger, Shannon Des Roches Rosa aka Squid Rosenberg, Kristina Chew, Jennifer Graf Groneberg and Vicki Forman are among those MommyBloggers who are blogging their experiences…and finding both a community…and a cause. Join them. Share your story. Find out how, to quote Vicki, “…to embrace and treasure what makes us all different. And the same.”

The question suddenly changed from, “How could I ever go?” to “How do I make this happen??”  Thankfully, Matt was on board with this and simply said, “You have to go.  You’re going,” and we figured it out.

I’m working down in Carmel the week following BlogHer, so we’ve worked out a scenario in which I fly out there with the boys on Friday, get them settled down at my parents’, which is very near to Carmel, and then hightail it back up to San Francisco early Saturday.  I’ll catch as much of Saturday’s offerings as possible, but if I only make it to that one panel I’ll be perfectly happy.  Well, okay, and I need to have dinner and hang out with everyone that night, let’s not forget that.  I have a room at the Westin, which I’m sharing with a delightful blogging friend, and I’ll head back down to my parents’ on Sunday.  Done and done.  Hooray!!

So.  Tell me.  Are you in?  Because I want to meet every single one of you there, you hear?

Materialistic Monday: TomTom

Okay, I know. If you’ve been following Cindy (as you should be), you’ve heard about this recently. In fact, I had a few ideas for this week’s post that you might not have read about in the past two point five minutes.


My Tom Tom GPS saved my ass so many times in California this past week that now I cannot NOT write about it.

You see, in the weeks before Christmas, I was asked by Baxter to explain what a GPS system is because we were giving one to Matt’s Dad for Christmas. I had never thought of one for myself, had never even been in a vehicle with one, at the time. But partway through my description of what it does, I flashed to all the Google Maps I constantly print out for myself and carry around with me, and I recall saying vaguely, “Actually, I could probably use one of those myself!” And the rest was history.

According to Matt, there was no getting him off the topic. No attempts of “How about some earrings?” or “Mommy would love a massage…” would move the child. “No. Mommy wants a GPS,” he told Matt with determination. He wouldn’t even budge for the old tangerines and beer fall back gift, which he insisted on giving to each of his parents the year he was 3.

No, it was to be a GPS. So my guys bought one for me.

And, let me tell you, it rocks! As Cindy mentioned, I keep mine set to a British man’s voice, “Tim”, who instructs me to “stay on the left lane” and “keep on the motorway”, which is about the only thing that could make Hwy 101 interesting.

But beyond Tim’s fantastic voice, I do enjoy that he tells me how to actually get places. Quickly! He remembers all of my destinations, which is handy, and has all sorts of options such as showing all parking garages in the vicinity, which was extremely helpful a couple times last week.

I also love the “Do you need to be there by a certain time?” feature. For example, last week when I had to be at the SCERTS training by 8:30 am in the suburbs of San Francisco, I plugged in the address the night before and it told me what time I had to leave in order to arrive by 8:30, thereby making sure I allowed enough time. Furthermore, it continually re-calculates my time as I’m driving, so when I hit bad traffic I could see the “new and not-so-improved” time of arrival getting updated and was able to send a text message to say I was going to arrive late and by how long (it’s handy when the presenter is a personal friend!).

On another occasion in the past week, I left the conference one night and drove off towards my aunt’s house for dinner. I knew the way so I didn’t use my Tom Tom, of course (because it’s not the first week anymore, sillies!). However, I accidentally went north instead of south on the highway (proving once again that it’s been a while since I’ve actually lived out there) and when I got off the exit realized I had chosen poorly and couldn’t just get right back on. Oops. Did I mention that this was in the middle of a major rainstorm? I didn’t have her address with me but remembered the cross streets and that was enough. I stopped, programmed the intersection into my Tom Tom, and my courteous friend Tim got me there.

I am All. Over. It.

Thanks, Bax.