Monday, October 31, 2016


"I'm sitting here in shock, wondering how they're going to pull it off separately. 
You know, Like, they need that balance in their marriage to exist wholly as a ruling force, right?" 
 - Me, passionately attached to the strange marriage inside of the netflix series House of Cards, to a friend on a late night phone call dissecting the turn of events, like we would our neighbors.  

"That's because, babies actually come from eagles, Leon."
 - Rex, the seasoned voice of adult knowledge. Giving Leon a birds and bees talk in the lobby of a newborn ward, prompted by the sculptures of storks (or Eagles) carrying babes in blankets, while waiting to meet their new cousin. 

"Pay attention. Pay attention. Pay attention."
- Internal monologue during the entire conference with Arlo's 5th grade math teacher, in which my mind automatically starts to dissolve as soon as people start tossing around words like "formulas" "variables" and "fractions."

"Ok, give me a need a mintute."
- Me, on hearing Harpo Studios was being literally demolished. With a wrecking ball, showing  stinging proof of the destruction (or, end of an era) on O's Instagram, which I avoided for a good 24 hours, until I felt ready to face fact of it. 

"So Brookie posted 26 pictures on IG and 28 videos on Musically yesterday, 
and then got mad at us for not liking them all."
- Arlo, on his cousin's fresh contempt for their lack of support on her first dive into the temped world of jr. social media. 

My mind just goes dark. Like a protective defense or something, 
because it knows I can’t handle it?"
- Mike,  discussing proposed visions of the boys as teenagers. In which we are both too scared to even hypothesize what life with 16 year old Rex might look like.

"I took a pill and ate pizza."
 - Rex, mangling another top forty hit for an audience consisting of Hayes and his best friend Jestin. Who were naturally impressed seeing that both of them would prefer pizza over Ibiza anyway.

"Mom, Rex keeps writing songs about Penises. He's even making cut outs for a puppet show called "My Penis Pals." Can you please tell him to stop?"
- Arlo, rightfully irritated. Rex perpetually penis obsessed. 

"Bright. And so considerate. With lots of big life questions he likes to save for me until I'm alone. 
In which I usually have to say, hmmm, I've never actually thought about that, Leon..."
 - Leon's teacher, during conference. In regards to Leon's tendency to ask about life, death and the great beyond when you're really just trying to lock up the classroom or figure out what to make for dinner. 

"See those guys, Leon? They are little, but they are the strongest guys in the world. Dad only picks the strongest ones. They're little but STRONG. And they all have kids and they’re little, they're tiny actually, but they grow up strong too. 
- Rex, explaining the grand mystery behind the short statured crew his dad picked up one weekend from Home Depot, to help with mass yard work clean up. 

"Skate or Die"  /  "Surf or Sleep" 
- Rex & Leon’s imagined IG names they revealed to one another should they ever get their own accounts. Pretty sure you can guess which belonged to whom. 

- Hayes, every time we ask if he wants to sleep in his own bed.

"You also NEED to do your homework" 
- Me on Arlo’s IG photo under the comment section on a shot he posted showing a slight emo inflected selfie titled "NEED TO SKATE."

"He doesn't give me any problems. He's smart, he's nice to everyone and gets his work done quickly but a little chatty. He's drawn to people and people (wherever I move them) are drawn to him. So it's not always his fault."
- Arlo's teacher addressing his "downside" which I understood to mean he's "popular."And therefore distracted, in a harmless, Ferris Bullerish kind of way. 

I think I feel worse about giving my dog a bad cut than all of the God awful bowl cuts 
I’ve given the boys through the years. Kind weird, right?
- Me, to Mike. Confessing my lingering guilt over Jack's unfortunate home snipped hair cut. (that is finally growing out thank God)

"And Rex, he's the best dressed!"
- Rex's teacher, during conference, complementing his fashion skills. 
Which only makes me immediately sad there isn't a legitimate letter grade for it. 
Because he could use it.

"Well I wish I would have had some really inspirational advice to give him. Instead of calling an 11 year old four letter words." 
- My best friend, who prides herself on being the overprotective flamboyant Jewish or Italian Aunt (even though she's not actually Jewish or Italian) they never had but desperately need in their life to stay on track. Here, in reference to Arlo reading her texts to me, about the girl giving Arlo a first taste of young heartache. Who told him in person she liked him "better in photos." Further noted in a series of phone conversations I read where he had sent four heart emojis later dismissed as an "accident" when the girl questioned, very plainly, the reason behind them. (Insert crying face mom / dramatic Italian aunt emojji

Ok, I really need you to summon that five star artist in you right now, 
because this right here, this is looking more like a 3." 
Me, in brash pep talk mode (not my best) during the Sunset Magazine shoot where they requested some art from the kids and Rex and his rainbows weren't quite living up to expectations. 

"It would be the first house to burn in a fire and the "seasonal stream" 
is actually a rainy season death trap."
- Mike, stamping the flame out of yet another canyon home dream of mine, upon a rushed home tour of a house I loved for it's original wood flooring and big windows, that he basically claimed would kill us eventually. No matter how pretty it looked from the inside. 

"Haters gonna hate."
- Me, summoning the 15 yr old self I keep locked inside, via text. On hearing criticism over Dylan snagging what some believed was an ill awared Nobel prize. 

- Hayes, when we ask if he loves anyone of us, other than Rex. 

"I can’t do it. 
Mike, second song in, jumping ship after me pleading for him to give the new Kanye album a try. 

"I taught you all the things I can't even do myself!! 
I'm taking them back. 
And I hope you forget the secret handshake too!" 
- Rex to his best friend or worst enemy. Depending on the conflict / hour at play. 

"He told me I had to."
- Rex, after being praised for wanting to buy Arlo a mini skateboard with the 5$ he found at school. Motivated I found by force, not heart. 

"I just want the bell and the helmet right now though. "
 - Leon, bearing greater enthusiasm for the accessories that come with owning a new bike, rather than the actual bike.

He's going to do exactly what he's so worried about doing because he's worrying about doing it the whole time he's doing it. 
- Mike about Leon riding (and crashing) on that bike. 

"Was your piano teacher in a bad mood or something, today?" 
- Me, unknowingly dropping them off on the wrong day for lessons. Two times this month. Realizing too late the reason for that slight head shake I caught from the parking lot.  

"Do you have any other goals. What else is going on at school this month?" 
- Me, to Leon down playing the perks of perfect attendance. With all likelihood being zero.

"I'm really good at handball when I play by myself
 or with my teacher."
- Leon, talking sports & his strong points.

I need a phone. If someone kidnaps me who am I going to facetime?" 
- Rex and his best reason for wanting a phone. 

"No,  Ho Ho."
- Hayes, blaming Jack with a quick finger, for drawing with sharpie on the coffee table. And for everything, basically. That ever goes wrong in the house.

"No, don't do it. Donald Trump doesn't like brown people and Hillary Clinton robbed a bank."
- Rex, during intense late night bedroom politics in which, one: I realized I am very likely overdoing our CNN family screen time, and Two: he felt so fired up he had to get out of bed to fully engage in the conversation about which candidate his brothers might be voting for. Urging them ultimately to skip out on both. Explaining later why Tony Hawk would be a more fitting choice. Because if you can vote in a racist, or a criminal, why not a guy who knows something about killer skate style. *To be fair, I've had the same thoughts on a long fantasized Oprah / Gayle ticket this go round too. . . 

- Photo by Carissa Gallo for Babaa Knitwear 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Todos Santos

It didn't start as romantic as it ended up. A four day getaway that came together rather haphazerdly - on a whim - like most things you've probably read about here, powered by a general desperation to get away, however (wherever) is possible, this time with the grand excuse of a ten year anniversary on our side to help coax grandparents into agreeing to an extended babysitting gig that called for a multiple day wrangling of all four. * Typically, we try to spilt them up, to ease the burden, but are very lucky to have parents on both sides who readily embrace the chaos the whole tribe brings, when necessary.

How it happened came of mistake. Mike had already booked his ticket for a short surf trip on the outer edge of Baja - El Pescadero - with his brother, a few friends and one local who owns a lot of land there, when I realized how close the dates were to our Anniversary weekend (making things, undoubtedly, more difficult seeing how additional time off to during such a hectic part of the year would be tough) So, we improvised. Nixing plans for Hawaii in trade of a low key Mexico anniversary - slash - surf romp. But El Pescadero was a little too sparse and rugged for my liking - once I started to examine the extent of the town via google - so begrudgingly I began to look into other towns on the outskirts of the village where I feel head over heels in love with an Earthship "built by the hands of 70 individuals in the matter of 20 days" that I stumbled upon in a remote area of the Baja desert. On Airb&b in Todos Santos, just 12 miles from Pescadero that sold me immediately on this city as a suitable anniversary destination after I read the brief description naming it most alluring to "yogis, surfers, artists and organic farmers" amongst tourist who bear an affinity for the art of slow living.

Good thing. Because we fell in love. Hard. Entirely. With every inch of that old town. From the lush green back roads and the cactus lined beaches, to the cobble stoned main streets, and the wood planked beach bars, Todos Santos is rooted in an old school notion inherit in the kind of understated charm and simple living we here in the states have never been very good at giving the respect it deserves.

One afternoon, for instance, we spent a good long while with one of the wealthiest men in town. A friend of the friend we flew in with. Relaxing on his ocean front lot (built with loving hands) directly in front of one of the local's most respectable surf breaks (this guy, a Santa Barbara native farmer who, rumor has it made a killing on a weed growing endeavor 32 years ago, noted the prime soil and stellar surf combo in Baja and decided to uproot everything he had going on at the moment and head to Mexico to start a company and a family, way back when) who talked about his children being the only Gringos growing up in the schools at Todos Santos. Using the one phone in town to forge the start of his new business, and busting his ass all these decades later, still battling trade taxes and government restrictions. Whatever he's doing though, he seems to be doing right. Splayed out in a hammock, with a long gray beard and zen like "Dudeish" state of mind, surrounded by an abundance of freshly grown organic fruits, with a garage full of his own harvested essential oils made in a gorgeous home built with a yoga studio at it's center,  he's a hard one to not praise / idolize / admire.

The food, though, above all is what proved most appealing to me about this place. We dined out every night, piling our plates with fresh ceviche and stacking beer bottles on the table all for under 25$ every meal. At one point, when the waiter asked me if I needed my margarita "to go" I wondered if in fact this was the place where I should in fact be retiring. And then theres the truckloads of families who cruise the town in the flat bed of a pickup truck, waving happily as they pass by. A parade of everyday people, generally delighted by the basics.

All in all a most memorable and romantic way to ring in a decade of marriage. With non stop surf sessions for him and books and naps and wine and salted florescent pink Mexican sunsets for me.

Todos Santos, we'll be back. Mostly likely with our own truck load of children and empty suitcases though to fill.

See you then,
M & J

Earthship Booking Here 

Sunday, October 16, 2016


- Recovering from the fate of post vacation blues. A return that unfortunately came paired with a nasty head cold. And a mess of laundry due to a broken dryer. Making it a whole lot tougher than it needed to be. On the bright side though so many photos from Todos Santos to sort through during our stay at that magical little place on the outskirts of the Baja desert we stayed during our 4 days there. Travel post (and an abundance of pictures) landing soon.

- Looking forward to this coming weekend where, while my boys will be setting up camp with the Scouts just outside of Palm Springs, I'll be up the road a ways touring some of the coolest houses the area is most famous during the Modernism Week preview event - Particularly excited about the Kaufman House, the shining beacon of Palm Springs architecture I've always meant to seek out and tour.

- Watching Woody Allen's newest series on Amazon Prime A Crisis in Six Scenes, staring Miley Cyrus (which seemed to spring out of nowhere) that I'm enjoying so far. Especially seeing that it's keeping me good company through this stupid, stifling head cold.

- Reminiscing the 90s. Lately so hard. Mainly the swinging times of the former fashion shows. A conversation I was having recently with my best friend, talking about how little I care anymore about following fashion week and shows and models in general, like I use to (this convo stemming largely because I admitted to her that I was still fairly unfamiliar with who the Hadid sisters were. An explanation that proved a bored introduction once I was informed) which led us down the rabbit hold of fashion's heyday, recounting how much more lively and enticing it all felt during an era that's so clearly come to pass. In those days I lived for seeing what unfolded every season on the runway of Galliano, Peri Ellis, Gaultier, Mizrahi, Sui, and Calvin Klein. Not to mention the added air of royalty the supermodels of the day - Naomi, Kate, Linda, Christy, Helena (all the big whigs) offered up with amped allure to the whole backstage presence. A Femme super force I think we can all be certain will never be matched. I've actually been wanting to write a rambling post about this whole topic all but haven't found the time, so stumbling across this article in the New York Times this weekend came as perfect timing. The article, interestingly enough, partly blames social media for killing some of the old fashioned excitement in the grand unveiling. Stating: “Social media has destroyed the idea of this manic, wonderful moment before a fashion show, when an editor says, ‘Oh, gee, I can’t wait to see what a designer is going to show,’ ” said the designer Isaac Mizrahi. “The reason I love baseball so much is that we literally do not know what is going to happen next. That excitement of not knowing and of watching something live is not that compelling, I guess, to kids now. What’s compelling is to look at their phone." In other words, "Instagram killed the reveal." Which, you know, sounds about right...

- Dedicating, lately, more time for art with the boys. Especially Rex who's interest in it seems to grow bigger by the day. I sat down and showed him last week some of my old sketch books and he was legitimately impressed by them. Praise that felt good, even coming from a 6 year old who's known to be a fairly stark critic. It also reminded me how much drawing use to thrill me the same way. At about his same age. All throughout my childhood really. Lately we've been working with water colors and studying collages - which I promised to show him how to do soon. It's just hard finding the time and space to unearth these art endeavors with so much of our energy directed at keeping the house clean enough for weekly showings. Most of the time it's a matter of shoving things in corners I pray potential buyers don't stumble upon, because it's absolutely impossible for our house to stay clean for longer than 20 minutes at a time. And when I say impossible. I mean, literally, IMPOSSIBLE. 

- Craving The fresh ceviche we devoured daily in Baja. Hometown versions just don't cut it anymore. Same goes for local Tequila. But I'm not really in a position to be shunning either. 

- Dreading Monday. (Tomorrow) Because our dryer situation is still unresolved, my cold kept me from stocking up groceries for school lunches, I don't have the 12 dollars in cash that I owe the sixth grader I bought "donation doughnuts" from, and the clothes I hung on the zip line out back remain just as stiff and damp as they were a few hours ago - putting a quick end to the romanticized notion I had of hanging clothes from a clothes line, before it ever became a matter of necessity. Drying laundry in the open air throughout the day isn't as great as it appears in old photographs. Sheets, maybe. But man, it's the string of stiff Levis out there that suffer most.   

- Laughing. Out loud. Over the brilliance behind this one. Because, at this point, the least we can do is share a laugh together, eh?

* Perfectly Cluttered Home Scene via Tumbler 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On Second Thought / A Political Post

There was a brief point this morning where, like every other day, I was faced with debate over how best to employ a glorious 11:00 hour. Debating exactly what tasks to tackle, in what order, during the two (three if I'm lucky) uninterrupted hours I have while Hayes is napping, the older boys are in school, and the house lays quiet and untouched. Typically my options consist of the same few things: answering emails, filling shop orders, editing photos, laundry, kitchen clean up, overdue phone calls, and the sweet allure of a finished blog post tugging willfully there on the sidelines. Which, when I do oblige, never comes guilt free. Not when there are toilets to clean. Writing feels indulgent. And in this house, there are always toilets to be cleaned and words that go neglected.

Today I figured though I had plenty of reason to skip my morning dish duties in lie of a gushing blog post seeing how Bob Dylan (my number one "always and forever") was awarded the Nobel Prize, allowing easy reason to sit at a computer screen during lunch typing words of praise in honor of a man who means so much. Scouring the headlining news sites, picking photos and feeling proud. And yet I refrained. Folding clothes piled in the corners of the loft, tinkering with Polaroids from our Baja vacation - a handful of which I painted with watercolors on another hour I should have been cleaning something else up - answering emails, and dutifully going through a list of to-dos on an otherwise uneventful Thursday afternoon.

Until I turned on the news (to keep me company like I always do) and found Michelle Obama holding court on center stage, looking radiant, teary eyed, encased in trademark eloquence while blasting Donald Trump for the gross atrocities he's been tossing at women ever since he first decided to come forth and forge this wild course a little over a year ago. Sometimes to the bemusement of the larger media, more times at the expense of the poor and powerless. I sat there feeling partly defeated, as a women it's hard not to - disgusted by the state of this election. But also inspired by Mrs. Obama, wife to a man I helped vote in, part of a couple I respect immensely for upholding a grander vision, clear judgment, solid voice, with humble smarts. A woman I watched set straight a bumbling idiot in the matter of a few minutes, who helped awaken a new fury inside of me I knew I've been avoiding now too long. Counting myself too busy to confront or contend with. A housewife, swimming in daily distractions, too frazzled to be bothered by these kinds of seething political headlines. The kind of women I feared I would become, a decade ago, before children, when I carried with me a different kind of passion.

The lady I nannied for during college told me once that she avoided the news because it was "too depressing" for her, as a mother, to bare. A response that came as polite dismissal to whatever unjust news event I'd brought up in casual conversation, explaining, in defense, that she kept all focus on her own "little bubble." Meaning life inside the quaint quarters of her quiet suburban home. Noting that anything on the outside, on the darker scale of heart, was better left alone.  I remember being silently offended. By the blow of unabashed apathy. Coming from a women her age, educated and otherwise awake, making conscience effort to remain disconnected in light of raising children. As if the world's issues shrank away in the face of a more pressing home life. With the addition of homework, soccer games and park playdates.

And yet, all these later, I have to wonder how much different I really am.

As a child I bore an odd, young fascination with all things political. In kindergarten I use to make collages from magazine torn remnants of Regan's handsome chiseled visage and read articles and watched news channels on elections just for fun. Later, in typical tweenaged rebellion, I declared myself a new Republican. To the clear amusement of a classically Democratic household. A mother who collected Clinton pins and fought the city on the leveling of main street to instill unsightly strip mall replacements in it's wake, and a step dad who's pick up truck bumper was littered with local Union allegiance stickers the same way my partner's utility truck in the drive way these days wears his. When I came back around I came back in time to soak up the whole Clinton / Gore fervor of the late 90s. It was exciting and I felt patriotically charged even as a 13 year old still years away from a ballot of my own to boast. I watched the debates, the back and forth banter on CNN in between, and celebrated with joyous glee on Inauguration day when I was allowed to skip school to watch the events unfold.

The first vote I cast was the first year I was able. And then every four years thereafter, though my intensity for the issues attached continued to wane as life grew louder, more complicated, steeped in the kind of chaos that comes with raising young children who offer us up endless excuses to fall off the social radars. A fact I choose, instead of all the other happy things I planned to sit down here today write, to express in public regret. Because I think, at some point it becomes inexcusable to ignore the politics of our times. When it becomes these lax conveniences we take for granted. We owe it to our children, if no one else, to sort through our own ways of reason and find the will to keep up. Where regardless of what party you come to align yourself, the simple fact of staying informed and connected transpires in the example we draw for them. They see parents who get worked up and are affected by what is going on in the outside world it sets the tone for how they will come to process the same kinds of issues down the line, hopefully using the will of heart and good intent we helped arm them with.

This time the stakes are high. I can't listen anymore to the words that spill from the mouth of Donald Trump and see how it has anything to do anymore with party ties at this point. How the berating and the bullying and the hatred that he spews (towards women and countless other classes) hasn't become a shared embarrassment to us as common Americans. Where the issue on the table is less now about how you regard or view or distrust Hillary Clinton, and more about how a man with so much contempt in his being can make it this, damn, far.

I wanted to write today about Dylan as a hero freshly crowned, but the new fury inside of me took over. So while I'm not here to push a Clinton or praise a party, I came to admit to how long it took me to feel as deeply infuriated by what's gone on as it has. How long I let it go before finally saying it's enough. But I rest assured that we as women, next month, flooding the ballots, raging with resentments, will be the defining difference.

The time to wake up is now. To get out and vote. Or don't. But don't sit back and let these bigger issues that loom on the outer rim of tightly packed schedules just pass by. It's a village in the end we're hoping to hand over. Let's make sure we're all doing our parts in keeping up the goods.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Scenes From A Weekend

As has become our Fall tradition - the start of this new season was greeted yet again at one of our favorite camp spots, with friends and 10 children hunkered by the river for two nights under the dappled light of those great old oak trees in Lake Arrowhead where we try to come at some point every October.

This time, the crisp mountain air - given the extended state of summer we in California are still bearing, proved especially refreshing giving us a break from the hot, humid summer we're still trying to shake off. Aside from the change in weather though I am always most amused by how quickly we tend to forget about the various perils these kinds of trips usually include. Like, for instance, the incessant bickering that naturally happens between kids with a group this size, or the food we seem always to forget, utensils misplaced, socks gone missing. Shoes soaked, and toys lost. Even the fires we look forward to most at night were forbidden this time around due to the regretful state of the vegetation surrounding us suffering hard from lack of rain so late in the season. They say if they have a couple rain falls the ban will be lifted but until then, if you've ever camped without a fire at night, when the sun drops and the temps chill your bones, you know how harsh the hours sitting around a fireless pit in the stark cold of night without that warm heat to hold you while you finish the last of your wine, or beer, or song or joke, can be.

We did our best. And the afternoon hikes and the riverside naps and the cowboy lullabies, the tree hung hammocks and the pumpkin pancakes + roasted potatoes & bacon in the morning more than made up for it considering what a rare treat it is to set aside three full days to spend in the slow company of friends with schedules typically impossible to match up. But we did. And it was just as amazing as it always is. The start of Fall, etched in memories of that shady riverbed running filthy with a flock of friends around the expanse of the seven oaks lot another year for the keeping.