Monday, December 14, 2015

Finn is a Butt

Finn would be getting a lump of coal in his stocking this year but I know he'll just draw on the living room wall with it, flush it down the toilet, and then pee on the bathroom rug.

I haven't blogged about the boys in a long time because every time I sit down and think to myself "what are they up to these days that's worth mentioning?" I get an instant stabbing sensation behind my left eye.

Of course we have our fun, and I love my boys more than ever, but if I had to sum up this chapter of our lives I'd say that Finn is continuing to aggressively "test boundaries" and Liam is making progress, but is still struggling with language. I just felt a hair turn grey.

My Angel
I don't have a single gripe about Liam. He's as sweet and funny as ever, and he's made more progress in the last month or two with his language issues than I've seen him make in the past two years. It brings me to happy tears. Jodee wrote beautifully about it on her blog HERE. The hard part is we're not sure now what path his education should take. Erin and I have been observing classes and meeting with teachers to try and figure out what's the next best move. They think he's in the right program, but Erin and I think he's ready to advance. As anyone who has tried to fight for their child's educational needs can tell you, it's an epic battle.

Finn, on the other hand, is mega-gripeworthy. His potty-training went out the window for about a month. As soon as he discovered how pleased we were to see him use the toilet, he added that skill to the list of things he will absolutely never do again. He now holds it until he's in agony, or until he's in the bath and we're not watching so that he can hop out, take a piss on the bathroom rug, and hop back in the tub. We've tricked him a number of times into using the potty, but he's peed on the rug as many times as not. Pooping he saves for the moment we're forced to put him in a diaper. Typically it'll be his nighttime diaper or any occasion when we have to leave the house for an extended period of time. Once he's in it, he runs off to hide so he can unleash in privacy.

Finn taking a dump

His other major power move is the "limp noodle". It's brilliant. You know the move: it's the one where the slightest disinclination to do something results in instantaneous full-body immobility.

"Finn, can you put your shoes on?"

I used to be able to call his bluff by simply walking away, but Liam has ruined that. Liam gets very upset when I appear to be leaving his only brother and best friend behind. Consequently, on the days Finn doesn't feel like going to school, he gets carried the whole way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Beauty of Big Kids

As my kids get older, I am often reminded of my pre-child days when I
     a) thought I'd never have kids, and
     b) said that if I ever did, I wanted them to pop out and immediately inflate to around 7 years old. I guess I've been so caught up in the whole 'raising babies/toddlers/preschoolers/etc' thing for the last 12 years that I forgot that dream. Now that my lastborn is hovering toward the last quarter of age 8 however, I totally remembered those silly fantasies, and I still absolutely agree with my pre-kid self.

Don't get me wrong - those early years are magical and sweet and glorious and all of that bullshit, but man is it ever nice to have a conversation with a kid.

Laying with Evie at bedtime and discussing the day, her dreams, other kids at school, geography, all sorts of other things... it's my favorite time of the day with her because that time is about she and I only - no brothers for her to nag, no pets for her to dress up. It's where I get the scoop on which girls in her class are casting the friendship net, how something she said was misinterpreted and how she resolved it, who didn't want to play but later did...can I just pause here for a moment and wonder at the amount of D R A M A in girls' lives? I mean, this kid is 8 and already her social life gives me a headache. I'd like to say things have changed from the time I was a kid, but there's a certain sparkly pencil incident I've never quite gotten over, so, I guess it's just an unavoidable childhood negotiation process.

Anyway, Evie is brilliant at articulating her thoughts and bedtime. During the day she gets a bit more, erm, easily frustrated. So it's really lovely to have that time to just lay down, sing songs, snuggle, and dish.

Meanwhile Jonah has begun Middle School and seems to be grasping the most important basics. For example, the other day I quietly observed while he asked a girl out on behalf of his friend who was watching from behind a tree. It was magical. He also joined a Music Club where he can play his ukulele, and is considering joining the Salsa Club. As in, they eat salsa. If you know me at all you know that this is one of my all-time favorite foods, which Jonah is finally starting to get into. So yeah, we've got plenty of salsa-eating and discussing ahead of us, which has been a long time coming. You can't exactly give a baby a jalapeno and a knife and expect the proper results. Trust me on that one. Please.

There's more! For the first time in his whole life Jonah and I have a TV show we're both interested in at the same time! (Sorry Little Einstein. And My Little Pony. And that YouTube Minecraft guy).

We recently started watching Once Upon a Time together and, jeez! Who knew trying to solve fairy-tale related mysteries with your tweenaged son would be so damn fun! I watch very little TV so I generally miss out on the "I'm so obsessed with this show" crazes out there. I kind of get it now. Although if Jonah weren't my watching companion, I don't know if I'd take the time to sit down and watch it on my own, but that's what makes it so sweet. Me, my boy, our show. I'm totally digging it.*

It turns out pre-child Amanda was pretty smart.

Here is a somewhat random video of Jonah trying to sell some stuff. Sorry, that stuff is no longer available, but I think this video perfectly captures the...awkwardness awesomeness of having a Middle Schooler.

In short: big kids are the best!

*We're only on Season One so please, as much as I want to know who the stranger on the motorcycle is, NO SPOILERS!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween 2015

Last year I had the BEST idea. I wanted to re-purpose my old-timey sailor costume into a group costume with Liam and Finn. I was going to be "Jack" from the Cracker Jack box, Liam was going to be his dog "Bingo", Finn was going to be an adorable toy prize, and the three of us were going to win hearts and contests the world over. I took Liam to the costume store to get a doggy outfit but he spotted a "Woody" costume and that was the end of my dream.


So this year we just went to the costume store and I let the boys pick whatever costume they wanted. I guess it is kind of supposed to be about them.

We went down to Railroad Square to check out 'Disguise the Limit' and upon entering Liam immediately covered his eyes and leaped into my arms. Costumes are fucking scary this year. I blame The Walking Dead.

I held him tight and looked for the least gory, kid-friendliest isle. Liam glanced at a few things between his fingers but was ready to get the hell out of there in under three minutes. Meanwhile, I'd lost Finn as soon as we crossed the store's threshold, but figured he'd be fine (second kid syndrome). I found him in a decidedly adult section where he had found a Jessica Rabbit dress-wearing-mannequin and was getting to third base with it. I'm worried about him.

We gave up on costumes and got a cookie instead. While we were headed back to the car Liam said "bee please". Apparently he HAD chosen a costume, so we went back to the store, grabbed one of the three honey-bee costume packs that looked like it had been opened the fewest number of times and was therefore likely to still have all of it's parts (it didn't), let Finn cop a quick feel, and made our purchase.

It needed a few accessories but the end result was pretty damn cute:

As for Finn, he was indifferent so we let him rummage through some hand-me-down costumes we keep on hand. He chose 'Thomas the Tank Engine': cute, timeless, and consisting of only a hat and a poncho thingy so it was easy to put on and take off. I have no pictures of him wearing it because about an hour before our big Halloween party, Finn took a header into a laundry basket. This left him with a bloodied fat lip and NO TOLERANCE for any sort of dress-up shenanigans. He immediately tore off his Thomas poncho which left him in his ill-fitting, but comfy underclothes. I considered telling people he was dressed up as an 'abused orphan' but thought better of it.

(Don't worry. He still had fun)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Repo Man

As you probably know from reading Mike's posts, Harvest is in full swing. Or, it was when I started writing this. I've since lost track of when that was, so just bear with me here and pretend this is still a current event.

For us, harvest doesn't mean too much. By 'us' I of course mean Repo Red, the wine Paulie makes in the driveway so we have 'free' table wine all year long. By 'doesn't mean much' I am of course referring to the constant scrambling to try to find grapes, then traveling all over god's green earth to get them. Then crush them. But first bottle last year's wine because the wine basement only has so much space, which is basically...very little. So yeah, we've been doing a lot of tasting, blending, bottling, harvesting, crushing and barreling lately. Luckily we have lots of enthusiastic friends willing to help.

Eventually those friends get tired or have to move on into the work of dealing with their own projects, so this is when Paulie and I find ourselves hauling ass. I am not much for 'ass-hauling' and so I tend to get a bit grumpy during these times. It doesn't help that I have little to no free time lately, and so on those rare unicorn occasions that I do, Paulie always somehow wrangles me into giving up my precious time off from work in order For him. Doing physical labor. This is most often presented in a last-minute scenario, too, so that by this time in the season I am fearful of even sitting down at the computer to do any curating of Mortified pieces, or writing for myself, or working from the kitchen table of any sort because every time I do Paulie's spidey sense tells him I've just begun to relax and he immediately texts me to ask if I can drive to Dry Creek Valley to help him pick Syrah right now. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, these desperate pleas for help never come when I'm doing the dishes, or the laundry, or sweeping the stairs or cleaning the toilets. Only when I've juuuuust settled down to focus my mind on something other than chores and work.


Anyway. We did the afore-mentioned picking in Dry Creek Valley on a Friday, then after I got out of work on Sunday we hopped in the truck and drove to Amador County, where we got what appeared to be the last half ton of Syrah in the whole county. Seriously. Then we crushed it, pressed it, yadda yadda. I guess what I'm trying to say here is my back is really sore. That's pretty much what this rant is about.

I mean, there's so much leaning involved!

P.S. As I mentioned at the top, this post is a bit outdated. I'm happy to report that our Harvest is over, has been for a while, and now I've got plenty of time to finish the dishes. Balance in the universe has been restored.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

This is How We Rock the Potty

Who loves to potty on the toilet?

This guy!!

Someone call Merriam-Webster. I've got their picture for the word "smug".

I kind of wanted to tell Finn, "Don't think your shit doesn't stink pal! The evidence of that hasn't left the room yet," but instead I did the big-boy happy dance and lavished him with praise. He didn't exactly make this breakthrough on his own. The grown-up meeting all the adults had on his fourth birthday, to nail down our toilet training plan, was like something out of Ocean's Eleven.

Erin and I agreed on the child seat toilet insert with foot stool, box o' distractions, and matching frog potty back-ups at both locations.

We both bookmarked Finn's favorite music video on our iPhones (Fall Out Boy - Immortals).

And after some debate settled on "The Treat".

Haribo® Brand Gummi-Bears

The "Potty-Only Toy Box o' Distractions" was more of a mixed bag, but both Erin's and mine featured objects designed to occupy his attention and, more importantly, his hands. Finn is a bit of a "fiddler".

One real bit of magic that Teacher Emily equipped us all with was state-of-the-art identical laminated Velcro visual schedule strips.

It doesn't look like much but it is the goddamn Jedi-mind-trick! Finn's problem isn't that he doesn't know when he needs to go to the bathroom or doesn't know how to go, it's that he digs his heels in and just flat out refuses. The fact that he, like his brother, is way behind in language skills means negotiating doesn't really work. For some reason this little trick does. All we do is pull the little card with his name off of the Velcro strip and hand it to him. He takes it and places it above the pictogram, takes the pictogram off the strip, and does whatever it describes. In addition to "toilet" there's "dinner", "bed", "brush teeth", "tidy up", and a bunch of others. Every one of them works! He just goes about doing what we've been desperate for him to do, without protest. I may make one for Jodee.

Finally, I can't forget to mention the efforts of a certain somebody who understood best what Finn was going through and gave him the moral support none of us grown-ups could.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"What Will You Do Next?"

I have no idea.

This is why the decision to close my store, Sprout, has been such a hard one. Because I don't exactly have the answer to that question, which, of course, everyone and their mother and grandmother and favorite auntie is asking me. Each time I am reminded that I'm not exactly in a financial position to not have an answer to that question. *Gulp*

Okay, so there are other - many other - reasons the decision was hard. Being a business owner, especially the Owner of Sprout, has been part of my life and identity for the past 8 years. That's mind-boggling to wrap my head around and when I think about the ups and downs and fun and struggles and absolute pride and joy that role has brought me, I get a little verklempt.

Good times were had by all. Like...ALL. 

With that, Sprout has also been a part of my kids' lives for the past 8 years. My daughter is 8 years old, so you do the math. For her the store is like her third arm, which I will soon be chopping off...wish me luck with that one. For my son, the store is like his second little sister- a fun new thing that came into his life shortly after his actual, real-life sister was born. He got to play there and Sprout gave him presents and clothes and playmates. He has spent hours entertaining the small children of my customers with peek-a-boo, Lincoln Log engineering and general affectionate cooing over their adorableness. He has spent many an afternoon cuddling on the couch with our fat old lazy lovable store cat, Macy.

Oh, shit. Macy.

"please keep the little humans away, merrrrr"
Before I'd made the decision to close, I'd noticed Macy becoming less tolerant of being chased by enthusiastic toddlers around the shop, and I mentioned to the kids that maybe it was time to let someone adopt her so she could have a more peaceful retirement. This, to say the least, did NOT go over well. Evie protested strongly that this was a bad idea, whereas Jonah just...burst into tears. So she remained at the shop and now, well, now - dammit now I have a double-whammy of devastation for them: Sorry kids, no more extra arm/sibling AND no more snuggles with Macy.

Okay, so I don't yet know exactly what I'm going to do in terms of 'When There is No More Sprout.' Yet. But I do know what I'm going to do to help ease the disgruntlement of breaking the news to my kids...

Ice Cream, anyone?

It worked before, it can work again!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Shotgun Finn Turns Four

That cupcake (no doubt along with a couple more) will enter Finn's tummy, turn into something horrible, and return to this world in his pants.

We'll have plenty of advanced notice moments prior to its return. 24 hours from now Finn will stop whatever he's doing and stare unfocused at some knee-level spot on the wall, like he's regarding an insect or a curious dust bunny. Then he'll make a bee-line for his bedroom, glancing at me over his shoulder to make certain I'm not noticing him. I'll call his name in my most patient and tolerant voice and he'll respond "NOOOOOOoooooooo!!!!" in his typical dramatic fashion. If I bother to follow him into his room he'll try aggressively fighting me off while simultaneously bearing down with all of his might to ensure maximum dumpage.

My greatest wish was that, on this day, Finley Bairdsmith would become a diaper-free four-year-old. I guess you could say my wish was granted. I should have specified "potty-trained diaper-free four-year-old" because this kid goes through a lot of underpants.

You know, from the "Potty Power" video
We've always been very gingerly with the potty training. We don't force it and we don't make the boys feel bad when accidents happen. This worked well for Liam. This is not working for Finn. So to celebrate this happy day, all of the key adults in Finn's life (Mom, Dad, Jodee, and Grandma Alix) are meeting with Finn's Kindergarten teacher to come up with a game plan. Personally, I think the smartest move is to hire my favorite pixie chanteuse Jessica Cannon to come live with us like Tangina the Clairvoyant in Poltergeist, but we'll probably just decide on some incentive like M&Ms or gold stars.

When I think back to this day four years ago, I realize that this sweet little goofball has been ruining my upholstery since the moment of his birth. I can't say I'll miss it.

Happy Birthday Finley Bairdsmith! I love you with all of my heart.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Guilt-Tripped Re-Cap, Part 2

In a continued attempt to redeem myself after a long, long absence from writing about the things going on in my life, which I know you've been sorely missing, I'm continuing my re-cap for you. You are SO WELCOME!

Here's some more things which have kept me busy and therefore away from the blog:

A few months ago I started guest co-hosting Get Lit! at Corkscrew Wine Bar in Petaluma. This is a really fun literary night featuring authors from all over (I've been honored to be one of these featured readers twice!), and there's an always-great Open Mic afterward. It's the fourth Wednesday of every month; you should come check it out! There's almost always something funny, something sad, something sexy, and something unexpected to hear.

More time-consuming than that, however, has been finally getting started on curating pieces for the next Mortified Sonoma County show! (Yes, it used to be called Mortified North Bay, but people in San Francisco and Oakland thought that meant Marin, so we changed it because, you know, we're not Marin. But I digress....)

The first show sold way the heck out!

Paulie and I have begun meeting with incredibly brave local people willing to share the embarassing artifacts from their angst-ridden youth. We've heard woe-is-me diary entries, super angry song lyrics, sexually-exaggerated notes to friends, and so much more. In short, it has been ah-maaaaa-zing.

And we're looking for more! If you happened to keep a diary, old letters, archaic video footage of your jazzy Star Search audition tapes...basically anything that seems too humiliatingly awkward to share in front of hundreds of strangers, you might want to hook up with us.

This is a real-life diary, you guys.

You can do this a couple of ways - go to our Facebook page and 'like' it, then find a call for submissions and click whatever link you find there...or (and I say this hoping you'll still go like us on Facebook), go to the Mortified website, find Sonoma County in the drop-down menu and fill out the info requested of you there. Soon we'll be knocking on your door and digging through your Shoebox of Shame!!

Okay it doesn't work like that exactly. We're not going to come to your house, man. But the rest is all pretty spot-on. This process has been soooooo much fun and taken soooooo much more time than we thought it would, but we're getting a lot closer to having our next show ready, and we're super excited!

Okay, that's the end of this latest re-cap. Hopefully I'm one step closer to being forgiven for my six-week hiatus. I haven't even told you about the fair or the winemaking or the...other...stuff......but I will.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Guilt-Tripped Re-Cap, Part 1

I thought Mike was exaggerating two posts ago when he said I'd disappeared. Then I did some tireless research (aka scrolling down a little bit) and realized that I haven't posted since late July soooo...yeah, it looks as though I've been slacking after all! Despite Mike's patented sneaky guilt-trip, though, I guess the most important question is: did you even notice I was gone?! I mean come on, there are lots of things happening in the world right now. Hearing about my dissatisfaction with my canned food collection surely can't be on the top of your entertainment options right now, can it? (Pun intended - Get it? Get it?!?!)

Actually it's true, our canned goods supply is seriously lacking. But that's not what has kept me away. How to even re-cap so you'll forgive me? I'll try. When did we leave off again...? Oh right, late July. Okay. So, since then:

- Jonah started freaking Middle School. I know! MIDDLE SCHOOL! Evie began 3rd grade and all that too, but seriously: Middle School. My mind, it is blown.

- A few days after the whole 'Middle School' thing, Jonah turned 12. So far he's handling it with grace and is still as awesome as ever, despite strangers' unsolicited and frankly unwelcome warnings that once the hormones really kick in he's going to become a wretched prick. I'm pretty sure this is a made-up thing because so far, so good. (Side note, I have seen firsthand the effect of hormones changing a sweet boy into a moody little punk, but that wasn't MY kid. I'm sure it won't happen to me....)

 Jonah still does his chores without complaint and often on his own initiative, he still hugs and kisses me goodnight, good morning, hello and goodbye, and he still runs his new joke ideas by me, which are always surprisingly hilarious.

In a nutshell, he continues to be super rad, and surely will forever and ever, and ever. I mean, for his birthday he asked for a Ukulele. For his party he asked for a crepe bar. A CREPE BAR, people! Come on. How cool can you get?!

As I'm typing this I realize that I do actually have a lot to catch you up on after all! Hm. You know what? I'll leave it at that for now. My firstborn started middle school, turned 12, is learning to play the Ukulele, and loves crepes.

Thanks for your patience, friends. You're the best, most understanding, beautiful people in town. I mean it. Stay tuned for more updates - I'll be better from now on, I promise. Until I run out of things to update you on...or until Mike reminds me I've been slacking, whichever comes first!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Liam Finds His Calling

Since the beginning I've fantasized about raising the boys steeped in a rich winemaking tradition.

Like most first-born kids, Liam received the brunt of my overly-idealized parenting dream. It tapered off to a more appropriate level by the time Finn was born. I still involve them in my work, but not for the same reasons I did initially. Before it was more about sharing my passion with my boys and, hopefully, creating a legacy like the Gallos and Mondavis. Now I just show them the cool stuff I do because I like showing off.

One of the things I get to do is operate the hoist that dumps the two ton bins of grapes into the receiving hopper. It's even cooler than it sounds. With me working every day, Jodee has selflessly offered to look after Liam and Finn on my weekends. I convinced her last Saturday to schlep the boys to work for me so I could dazzle them with my incomprehensibly skillful hoist operation. Unfortunately Jodee and the boys showed up at the winery just a few minutes after we had dumped our last load of grapes and the truck had left. I brought them up to the crushpad anyway and let Liam see the remote that operated the crane. I even showed him how to operate it. We have the fancy kind that not only goes up and down, it also goes north, south, east, and west. I let Liam play with it for a bit.

After a minute or two I thought, "even though the thing is twenty feet up and moving at two inches a second, this probably isn't an OSHA sanctioned activity for a 6-year-old," so I took the remote away.



Hell hath no fury like a first-grader denied heavy machinery. It started as just a run of the mill tantrum but quickly plummeted into a death-spiral of white hot fury. By the time I was strapping him into the car he was taking swings at me in between sobs. I just wanted him to think my job was cool but it was like I'd injected him with heroine.

After I got home that evening he asked me about it every 10 minutes. "Daddy, let's go do the grapes." I feel bad for exposing him to a little taste what's to come and then snatching it away, but, of course, I'm also pretty damn thrilled.

"We will go do the grapes buddy, I promise."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Sí, lo sé. Más de tres semanas sin noticias?! No manches! Que rollo con el hoyo?

Una mejor pregunta es "¿Dónde está Amanda?" Es ella trabajando doce horas todos los días como yo? ¡No creo! Amanda vamos! ¿Qué estás haciendo guey? Vales verga!

Uy, lo siento. A veces, durante la cosecha, me olvido de cambiar desde mal Español al Inglés.

Sorry about that. I'm in full-immersion harvest mode and tend to lose myself. Here is the above translated via Google Translate:

Yes, I know. More than three weeks without news?! Do not stain! I roll with the hole?

A better question is "Where is Amanda?" It is she working twelve hours every day like me? I don`t believe! Amanda go! What are you doing castrated bull? Vouchers cock!

Anyway, you get the idea. I get uneasy when nearly a month has passed without any updates. I've been crazy busy. I'm sure Amanda has her reasons for neglecting our poor blog as well. It's likely something along the lines of "I'm really unhappy with my current canned food inventory" or "I'm doing all my holiday shopping early this year on Etsy". I'm sure we'll hear about it soon.

Harvest came early to Ridge Winery and right now we're in the thick of it. Everything is a bit of a caffeine and alcohol saturated blur so I have to actually look at the pictures on my phone to see if there have been any milestones. Let's have a look, shall we?

Ah yes, Liam was sort of okay with getting his hair cut. For those of you that know him, this is HUGE.

Oh right, school started. That's big. This is Finn on his first day of school. He's going through the same "Roots and Shoots" special ed class that Liam attended, and he's loving it. Liam is now a first-grader and is going to school right here in Healdsburg again. In fact, their classrooms are next door to one another, all just two blocks from my front door. Life is good.

And this last one demonstrates the best news of all. No, not that Finn has taken the reenactment of his favorite movies to the next level (much to Liam's dismay), it's that Finn is getting potty-trained, boot camp style. As you can see he is out of diapers and in underpants, come what may.

That's all the news that's fit to blog for now. It's a lot actually. I wish I could delve deeper and polish these moments into bright and shiny new anecdotes, but duty calls. This is the one time of year where my role as "FATHER" is far more traditional than I'm used to. Hopefully it won't last more than a month.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Liam is Six....(and change)

Liam's 6th birthday was in early July and I didn't blog about it. When it comes to parenting blogs, that kind of move is inexcusable.

Fortunately, I've been known to break the unbreakable, drink the undrinkable, and fatigue the indefatigable. Therefore, I've got a butt-load of good excuses (in chronological order):

I helped organize a 4th of July Block Party
I was a groomsman in a wedding
I started hosting a monthly pub trivia
I became a pedicabbie
Liam had surgery to take his pins out and I was his nursemaid
I was Jodee's soccer mom for her first Half-Ironman Triathlon
I became a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators

THAT WAS MY JULY! So, as you can see, something had to go. Now, I know that I should be ashamed of myself. Liam is 6-years-old and a BIG BOY really needs his daddy to be there for him. He needs his daddy to do all the cool boy stuff that mommies don't like doing; like going to baseball games and camping out in the woods.

Luckily Liam has Erin. His birthday landed on her day this year and she did not disappoint. She's the best daddy-mom ever.

I didn't neglect his birthday entirely. I made cookies for his class, got him a few nice presents, and put together a photo montage of my babies over the past year.

I'm a proud mommy-dad

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

San Leandro

"Live for now" they say. Who says that? Hang on, let me Google it.

Hmm, evidently Pepsi says that. Hang on let me dig deeper.

Buddha said something like that. Anyway, the serenity one gets from living in the moment is talked about a lot by those studying "mindfulness" and "meditation". I'm just not a big fan of sitting on the ground, so my key to achieving this state is spending time with my kids. They really draw your focus to the present. I love it.

That being said, last week I traveled with my kids into my past, and it was trippy. Very worlds-colliding, spacetime-folding, out-there, ch'i-swirling kinda crap.

My parents left the town where I grew up when I left for college and I pretty much have never been back. Last week a family friend invited us to a party in the old neighborhood. I had the kids with me so naturally I hauled them down there and made them stand for pictures out in the hot summer sun of San Leandro so I could have an experience.

The house I grew up in!!

Crappy neighbor's house.

Crappy ice cream parlor around the corner.

Crappy service. Crappier ice cream.

Can I plug in that Ms. Pac-Man?
It totally works!!


Mind blown.

Liam wasn't too bad
I was WAY better

Crappy liquor store (they had the original Star Wars video game)

Crappy local grocery store (they had Dragon's Lair)

Crappy Junior High School (getting a crappy paint job)

Crappy High School (my camera refused to focus on it)

Crappy first job!! (more ice cream)

Where I first learned crippling guilt

Church I was forced to endure every Sunday

Okay, it wasn't exactly God's country, but my home was lovely and my memories of San Leandro are fond, despite it's gritty and surprisingly unchanged facade. Still, I won't be moving the boys there anytime soon.

P.S. Speaking of traveling to the past, today is our 4-YEAR-BLOGGIVERSARY. On this date 4 years ago my dear sweet Amanda and I started this blog and haven't quit on each other....yet. Thanks for keeping up with us and our disastrous lives. We love you all in completely inappropriate ways. XOXO