January 23, 2021

Reflection on 2020

I haven't put into words what we lost last year, frankly it has felt too overwhelming. 

In February I was sitting at my desk and talking to my coworker about our colleague in Hong Kong. His children's school was shut down for a month, and he had to work from home.

My first reaction was, "I bet that's hard. What's he going to do for a month?"

Lately, I've been thinking about the simplicity of life in early 2020. We had no idea what was around the corner. We were about to face our hardest days, and for many people the darkest. 

There were so many life events we missed last year, but what it's important to remember is that even in our darkest days we made a little light. 

In the early days of home schooling, tears were shed, notebooks were thrown across the room, and words of "I can't do this anymore" were often cried. But as days turned into months and new routines were created, we realized that the only way out, was to go THROUGH IT. 

We limped over the school finish line in June, and tried to celebrate our new found time. The Summer wasn't filled with baseball or soccer tournaments, or vacation, or even camp. It was filled with NOTHING. Literally nothing. 

We were faced with a new challenge. What do we do with our time? For years, our life was built around our children's schedules. For years we used to say, "I wish I just had a few hours on the weekend to do nothing." Well folks, the jeannie granted our wish. 

To occupy our time we started family bike rides. Before 2020, all five of us never rode a bike together. We rarely even rode in the car together. We also created outdoor movie nights and bought a trampoline. We used to long for time to sit on our sofa, and now we ask ourselves how do we get off of the sofa?

2020 forced us to think differently. I moved to a work from home environment.  I now have a corner office. (In the corner of the living room, shoved between the sofa and the fire place.) We also had to get creative. I had to help teach 3rd, 6th and 8th grade. I was later promoted to 4th, 7th and 9th grade although I didn't request that. The biggest challenge was staying productive, accomplishing my own goals, and making sure our 3 kids didn't fall behind, mentally, academically and physically.

We saw friendships strengthen when our community would do drive by birthday parties for each of our kids. Nobody wanted to miss the opportunity to get out of their house, and honk their horns to see a child smile as we drove by with balloons hanging out of our cars. We would sit in our cars, longing for just a little more time to see our friends, as if this was a normal birthday party. I took for granted how often I would catch up with friends at school, or games, or parties. When all of that went away, I realized how much I missed my people. 

By the end of 2020 I found myself craving a tiny bit of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. I realized I was in charge of making my own light, and after 10 months, it gets harder. 

One thing I learned in sports, this was not the time to give up. This was the time to dig deeper. I never thought those brutal workouts were worth anything, but they were. They taught me that hard work pays off, and the more work you put in, the stronger you'll be. You'll create your own light. 

We are now in 2021, there are vaccines rolling out, and the dim light is getting brighter. We just have to keep putting in the work, digging deep, and making sure to help one another. 

If I've learned one lesson this past year, it's that we don't know what's around the next corner. Find a place of happiness, so when you turn another tough corner you are prepared to turn on your light and the light for others.  

March 6, 2019

Her Time to Shine

I often ask myself, how does one little girl make such a big mess? I think the obvious answer is, well she's messy. While it's true that she plays hard, and almost never cleans up, she is so much more than messy!

Brooke is creative. She will take an old patterned sock and turn it into a new Barbie outfit, and often one that I might even wear, not in Barbie's size of course.  I once gave her a cardboard box, tape, and scissors and left the room for 20 minutes. When I returned, she had created a child size desk and chair set. For a while I called her Edward Scissor-hands.

The truth is I'll take messy any day, because what comes along with it is so much more. She's kind, and happy, funny and sporty. She's determined, and independent, along with artsy and incredibly perceptive. She has better EQ than most people at my office. She recognizes other people's emotions and adjusts hers accordingly. She's always whispering to me about how the boys should change their attitudes.

She's still at the age where she wants to try all new things....with the exception of food. We are working on that. I recently gave her a list of activities to choose from, and she chose ice skating. Never in a million years would I have planned to spend my Saturdays at a 20 degree ice rink. I spent 8 weeks freezing my ass off watching one little determined girl try to glide from one end of the rink to the other. And by the way, it took the full 8 weeks to make that happen. I thought watching swim lessons was slow. But she ends every activity with the saying, "It was AH-Mazing!" So how could I say no.

She's involved in soccer, and baseball, as well as hip hop dance. She did swimming for years, has tried volleyball and joined girl scouts. She has so many interests it's hard to keep up. But it's her time to shine.

She followed her brothers around every baseball and soccer field for years, and "watched" hundreds of games, without many complaints. She was always one of the bleacher buddies. Finding any other little sister to play with. We've been lucky. She just goes with the flow.

This past weekend, we decided it was time to tackle her room. I've been walking past it for a year with the goal of organization, and finding a spot for everything. That's not easy when everything also includes tiny little shopkins, and LOL dolls, next to collector rocks, and snow globes.

This girl has stuff!

It took us 6 hours to throw away, donate, sort and put the room back together. She helped about 70% of time until she found the giant styling head she had lost 7 months ago. Off she went to do make-up and hair for a few hours. She returned just in time to make her bed and put the last items in place. My Mom would say that's about when I used to return too.

It's Brooke's time to shine, her room is ready for it, and so is she!

Brooke and Mom shopping day

The Disaster Before

We survived - 6 hours later

February 23, 2019

Find Your Motivation

I'm 5 runs in to my new running program. Every runner will tell you that it's a mental game. I get that, but my body tells me I'm playing a different game.
The thought of running for 40 straight minutes frankly bores me.
I need to mix it up. The new app has me running for 3 minutes, walking for 2, and sprinting for 1, rotating through that for 40 minutes. I tell myself I can do anything for 3 minutes. I'm starting to see the truth to the mental game.
Now that my mind is on-board, I need my body.....so I went shoe shopping.
I learned that I need to size up in order to have enough room for my feet to swell. I wonder if that's true for my running pants? Or maybe just an overall theme for my jeans.
The new shoes did the trick. I shaved about a minute off my pace. (Although I only had room to go up.)
Here's what I learned today from the running app's tips.
  • Size up for swelling
  • Dress like it will be 15 degrees warmer. (Something that Brooke does every day.)
  • Bring a 1/2 frozen water bottle, fill the other 1/2 with water. (You'll have 1/2 a frozen hand.)
And my own tip - Don't try to schedule a run at the same time every day. If your schedule changes often, like mine does, just jump in when you can. I made the mistake for years trying to schedule exercise. Now I see an open hour, and fill it with a run. 

Most importantly: Find any motivation you can.....mine was in the form of new shoes!
Can't wait for tomorrow!


February 21, 2019

Day Trip

Finding a day trip that excites a 7, 10, and 13 year old is not as easy as you might think. They each have their own unique interests, each of whom think the other's isn't as interesting.

Brooke is the easy one. At 7, everything is still new and exciting! If we are all together, that's the only thing that matters, and of course if it has a souvenir shop.

Jack is in the 10 year old video game stage. He wants to hang out online with his friends with no interruptions, all day, every day. Yesterday he told me that Winter is his off season, and the only time he has to play video games. I'm surprised he hasn't moved to tropical climates during his "off" season.

And Nate, the leader of the pack, the one that sets the tone for the day, is happiest if everyone else falls in line, and nobody does anything "cringy". Translation = embarrassing. He has a great interest in world affairs, and is craving travel. He's made it very clear that he loves big cities, and cold weather. So a Maui vacation doesn't fit his idea of adventure. Now you can see our dilemma, Nate's day of fun doesn't fit with Jack's off season goals.

I had one more day off after President's Day and decided to take all three to SF. We've done a lot of touristy things in the past, so I thought we would try a new museum. I chose the Cartoon Art Museum simply because it's right next door to Ghiradelli and if it was super boring then the ice cream would fix it. Turns out my theory was true for 2 out of 3 of them. (Let's call them the naysayers.)

It's a cute little museum that showed pictures of how animation is created, and famous comic book series from the early 1900's. The best part for the two naysayers was a cartoon creation station. Each of us had the opportunity to draw our own cartoon character. It went South when the naysayers laughed at the happy one's Mickey.

At that point, my patience had run out, but I wanted to salvage what time we had left, so we ordered some sundaes and then called it a day. You can see from the photos that at least the weather was perfect. :) Here's hoping the forecast for the teenage years starts to look a bit sunnier.

February 18, 2019

More than 5LB

I read a tip recently where the woman said her secret to staying at her goal weight was to never let herself get more than 5lbs away. She then scales back everything she eats until she gets back to the weight she wants. While this sounds doable, maybe 13 years ago, I'm not sure it's still that simple anymore. What happens if your 5lbs have turned into 17?

If I take a close look at my daily routine, the main difference now is my lack of exercise, maybe a little more cheese and the addition of girl scout cookies.

When the kids were babies, I used to strap them in the jogger and go out for a run. I can't even pick them up anymore, those days are over.

A few months ago I joined a morning bootcamp, which fit perfectly into my schedule. The class started at 6AM, was 2 minutes from my house, and was done by 6:45AM, just in time to get the kids to school. After about a month, I started to feel like I was 80. My knees were killing me and I couldn't take the stairs at work.

I needed something new, a real reason to motivate. As if the 17lbs weren't enough. I signed up for a 10K.

Training started early last week, but then I caught a cold. I'm a total wimp about running with a stuffy nose, I already feel like I have one lung. I'm back though, and just finished day 3 with my new running app. "Running for Weight Loss". This will either be the best $10 a month or I'll file it with all the other apps I've purchased that need to be canceled 30 days later.

One additional perk is the meal suggestion at the bottom. Guess what my family had for dinner?

No Excuses!

President's day, aka the start of ski week here in Northern CA. An entire week off for the kids, with just one measly day for the parents. 

We had plans to take the kids to the snow, but mother nature stepped in. A series of strong storms closed the roads for days making travel impossible, so we scrapped our plans and figured we would do something better.....which we haven't figured out yet. 

I'm still in my New Year's resolution mode, which means I organize, and exercise until the end of February. And if you haven't noticed, I typically start writing in my blog and tell everybody this is the year I'll do it more.  I think it's only fitting to quote George Washington today, "“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one." And to quote my husband, "The key is to never stop trying." So between George and Doug I now feel exonerated. I've let go of my failed resolution guilt, and I'm back in the game. 

When i started this blog 9 years ago, my focus was on how to manage life with 2 rambunctious boys. Boy, literally, how far we have come. Nate is now 13, Jack is 10, and Brooke, our pink addition will be 8 in just 2 short months. 

I've grown too, a little older and wider, I mean wiser. Even though this is the busiest time in my life between work, the kid's activities, school volunteering and managing our household, somehow I also feel somewhat balanced. So this year, I'll shift the focus of my blog on what I've learned along the way, what keeps me sane, and how I'm managing it all!

Here's to 2019 - No excuses, just changes! 

October 11, 2016


It's been 14 months since my last blog post. I'm often asked, how do you do it all? Well the short answer is, I don't. I simply have to prioritize on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this blog hasn't made it to my top 10 list.

This is my current list. It's in no particular order of importance.

  • Work
  • Grocery Shop
  • Exercise
  • Spend time with Doug
  • Homework/Read with Jack
  • Homework/Read with Brooke
  • Spend time with Nate
  • Attend kid's sports
  • Talk to family
  • Spend time with friends
  • Coach soccer
In the context of a 60 hour week this is the % of time I spend on each. I've never looked at it from this angle, but it's helpful to understand where I spend my time, in order to determine where I "should" spend my time. 

Goals: Increase the size of the orange Exercise slice to look more like the bright green slice. I will also try to add a slice that says, Write in my blog.....more than once a year. 

If you've never put your priorities into a pie chart, I highly suggest it. Where do you spend your time, vs. where do you want to spend your time?

August 13, 2015


Four years ago we got a new tent. Last night we used it......for the first time.
I took two weeks off of work, one as a "staycation" and the other for Tahoe.
I had two goals for the "staycation" - 1. Take kids swimming everyday 2. Relax
So far I have accomplished goal #1.
Wednesday was planned as our backyard camp out night. Here's how it went down.
Nathan made me secure all the stakes and the ropes so the tent wouldn't blow away in a storm.
He also brought a chair, a laptop, 3 flashlights and a down jacket.
Jack showed up after all the work was done, claiming he only wanted to see the finished product.
Brooke brought her Hello Kitty sleeping bag along with her wooden doll bunkbed and a baby. She brought two flashlights. One that Jack demanded was his, and the other that didn't have batteries.
Jack wanted all the windows zipped up, while Nate wanted them open.
Brooke wanted to tell ghost stories. She told the one of Hello Kitty and the Princess who met a monster near the rainbow who threatened to make them sleep forever.  (I'm sure you've heard it.)
At some point the wrestling got out of control. I stepped out of the tent, and the next thing I knew Nate was moving out. Out came the chair, the laptop, his sleeping bag, pillow and the three flashlights. He was limping and blaming his sister for breaking his foot.
After s'mores, everybody was in better spirits. Probably because we used chocolate chip cookies in replace of graham crackers.
Jack begged Nate to move back in. Thankfully he didn't bring the house with him but he was wearing his ski jacket. He claimed it was getting chilly. Outside temp - 73.
Around 3AM I realized the ground was really hard.
Around 5AM the sprinklers came on. I thought they were set for Friday. I was wrong.
Nate woke up worried about the water, Brooke woke up because Nate was shouting, and Jack slept through the entire thing.
We officially broke in the tent and covered every emotion along the way....except for "Relaxation". See Goal #2. I'm hoping that comes next week when we are in Tahoe!


Note the doll bed - the only person relaxing was the baby

Brooke thought it was the greatest adventure

January 11, 2015

Cleaning Out My Closet

There are moments in your life that are fleeting, and then there are the moments when memories are made. Try to recall a moment in your life that changed you, I bet you can remember what you were wearing. When choosing an outfit, sometimes you realize you are dressing for a special occasion, but often you throw on something without realizing it may remain with you forever. Whether it was the funniest night of your life, or a tragic event that changed your future, the clothes you wore on that day are ingrained in your memories.

Today I cleaned out my closet. I used the rule of thumb, "If you haven't worn it in a year, it must go." As I sifted through the hangars, I pulled out hideous mistakes, along with too big, too small and too outdated to ever wear again. I also pulled out memories.

I pulled out the denim dress I wore home from the hospital when Nathan was born. I was under the impression that once you had a baby, you could fit into anything. It did fit, but my boobs did NOT. I remember the homecoming pictures with my beautiful baby, a very happy mommy and two large boobs hanging on for dear life. (Doug took the picture, I think the zoom feature was on.)

I pulled out a dark green blouse that I wore on my first girls weekend with my best friends from college. A tradition we've kept going that means the world to me. To reconnect with people who truly know you, is incredibly rejuvenating.

I pulled out a suit I wore to a job interview on 9/11. I was desperate for work after being laid off in L.A. I hated the job with every ounce in my body, but stuck with it until I found something better. The suit represented a day in history nobody will ever forget. It also reminds me of an important lesson. You are in control of your happiness. If you don't like something about your life, make a change.

I pulled out a dress I wore to a funeral of a very brave woman who lost her battle to Cancer. She had so much more life to live. The dress is much more than a very sad day, but a memory of a woman who showed others how to live a life filled with courage and kindness.

Finally I pulled out a dress I wore to my rehearsal dinner. A night filled with so many happy toasts, friends, and family. It was the start of the next ten years, and yet, I had no idea how good it would become. It was a moment in my life, in a strapless black dress with a fuchsia bow.

It turns out I didn't clean out my closet today, I took a trip down memory lane.

When you look in your closet tomorrow and think you have nothing to wear, take a second look at the clothes hanging in the back. They may remind you of a time in your life that changed you forever!

January 5, 2015

2015 - Move the Rowing Machine

This is the year! The year we start living without clutter! Living in a house where all things have a place, and I'm not constantly worried about being buried alive under Legos.

I want to turn on the fire place this year without having to worry about melting the toys set haphazardly in front of it.

I want to sit in my living room and not stare at my husband's rowing machine situated under the mantle. (The one that he promised he needed because he would use it every day!)

I want to open the upstairs closet to find a gift bag without shoving back a roll of tape, a balancing act of books and a few photo albums from 2004.

I could go on for days with all my wishes for 2015, but I'll keep it simple.

This is the year that I want to live in a house that I don't have to clean before people come over! I know that's a tall task for a family of 5, but we can do it! (It's a new year, I'm overly optimistic!)

I found a book titled, "It's All Too Much", by Peter Walsh. He's a professional organizer from the show Clean Sweep. It says the Master Bedroom is the most important room in the house. (I must start there.) It's where the parents find peace and calm, and set the mood for all relationships in the house.

The first step is to picture the Master Bedroom that you would want to live in. I tried that. It turns out it's the hotel room at the Rosewood. Since we can't move in, I'm going to recreate it!

I love the book so far. It's given a few very helpful tips.

1. If you haven't used it in 12 months. Get rid of it! Trash, donate, or give back to the original owner.
2. Decide the purpose of a specific room. Does each item in that room fit the purpose? If not, get rid of it.
3. Take 10 minutes every day to go through one area in your house. De-clutter! Get everybody onboard. (This might be an issue.)

A few year's back I was racing for an airplane in Boston. I was carrying my suitcase and running through the terminal. I realized I was out of shape, but really needed to make my plane. At that moment I made a change in my life. I set out to run a 1/2 marathon. Not because the 1/2 marathon sounded exciting, but I needed a goal to help me train. I joke that I keep in shape to prepare for an emergency, like running for an airplane.

The same is true for anything in life. Why wait? Start the change you want to happen now. 2015 is the year we dig out of Legos, and move the rowing machine!

December 25, 2014

Toys R Us is closed!

Imagine arriving at Toys R Us on Christmas Eve at 9:10PM, with not a single present purchased, only to find the doors locked!

That is a true desperate moment. What would you do?

December 2014 was the year that Mom caught pneumonia.....and Dad did the shopping!

Luckily I had Hanukkah covered in November, but I was planning on Christmas shopping in mid December. While sick in bed for over 2 weeks, Doug volunteered to take care of Christmas. His exact words, "It will be fun, don't worry about a thing. I love shopping on Christmas Eve."

So when the kids went to bed, Doug set out for his definition of "fun". When he arrived at Toys R Us,  he quickly found the store closed at 9:00PM.

He had two options.
1. Answer some VERY tough questions on Christmas morning.
2. Sneak in the exit door!

While one of the last customers was checking out, he snuck in the exit door and made a mad dash as if he were on a game show shopping spree. I only wish he had his Go Pro hooked up to the shopping cart. This post could be exponentially more entertaining.

He arrived at the checkout to find not a "creature was stirring" not even a cashier. After begging someone to take pity on him, he was able to purchase his cart full of Legos. He claims it's the only aisle he could make it to.

Hey beggars can't be choosers. I'm just happy he snuck in the exit door!

Merry Christmas to all the Santa's that are making it happen!

December 16, 2014

The Label Maker and The Secret Keeper

It's the first night of Hanukkah! The night when we kickoff 8 straight days of pure goodness.  It's amazing how fast three kids turn into perfect little angels when a single present is held before them.

Here's a quick recap on the days leading up to the big event!

Last Thursday: I finally finished shopping for all the presents. Now the task was wrapping and hiding them. My closet was too stuffed so I stashed a few under my bed. Brilliant, nobody goes under there!

Last Friday:  Jack got a juggling kit!  As if he needed another excuse to throw balls in the air. While perfecting his juggling act a ball happened to roll under my bed. What happened next? The juggler now resembles the Cheshire Cat. A little taller and a bit more proud of his secret. He walks around the house saying, "I may or may not be getting the Lego Mine Set."

Of course it's not a brotherhood unless you let your siblings know, that you know, what they are getting. Now all  three are pretending they don't "know" their gifts.

In an unrelated event on Friday - Nathan received a label maker......the gift that keeps on giving! If you are looking for that perfect holiday gift for your Type A, highly organized 9 year old, it's perfect!

As only Nate can do, he took it up a notch. It was too obvious to label items for what they are. He decided to start labeling everything with numbers. If I don't know what something is, I will now need to refer to a master key with their descriptions.

In case you are in need of a big black flashlight, please refer to item #2.

My biggest fear now is not losing my mind, it is losing the master key!

Happy 1st Night of Hanukkah

July 28, 2014


Sugar and Spice vs. Snips and Snails 

As a new parent, I remember hoping that my son would be a little different. He would not only loves sports, but could also appreciate a good musical. He would climb every tree but could play the piano or paint a masterpiece. After two boys and a reality check later we had a girl!  I remember thinking, I hope she's not too girly and she still loves sports. I wanted her to be a little tough to stick up for herself, but still be sweet and sensitive. I learned very quickly that no matter what I had hoped for, they each had their own plan.
Yesterday we played a game at lunch asking the question, What is one unique quality about each of you we could put in a yearbook. Example: "The person is most likely to".... Here were the group nominations said about each other.

  • Nate is "Most likely to clean up a room better than any cleaning guy could."
  • Jack is "Most likely to build the best military fortress inside a house."
  • Brooke is "Most likely to not eat an entire meal." 
Nate not only loves sports, he's good at them. He is a super cleaner and a type A personality. He's organized, would keep his room in perfect shape if it weren't for his Type B brother. He's turning into more of a boy everyday, ie sweaty and makes disgusting noises that only Jack thinks are funny. He is talented in art and math, and has some pretty good hip hop dance moves. He likes to run 5K races, and is better than me. He likes to think he's in control of his siblings, and is the happiest when he's on vacation with our family. 

Jack on the other hand is the exact opposite of organized, although he's extremely creative, and could be considered a master builder....and destroyer. He's terrific at sports, but couldn't care less if we got rid of dressers or hampers. Neither of which he uses. He was born with a silver shovel in his hand, and would dig to China if we let him. He thinks anything Nate does is hilarious, and has the loudest belly laugh. He's ultra sensitive and will tear up when he watches a sad movie. He would never change his clothes or his underwear unless somebody told him to, but he sure does clean up well! He is the happiest when you tell him it's Saturday and he has NOTHING to do! 

Brooke's favorite color is pink. She picked that on her own, along with every other piece of clothing she wears. She's opinionated, but really funny. She starts her day with a smile, and ends it with wet pants. We may need to revise her statement to be, "Most likely to still need potty training in 7th grade." If she sees a princess dress, she'll make a beeline to the clothing rack, and loves anything tacky. She gives the greatest hugs and definitely speaks her mind. She LOVES her brothers and calls them, "My boys". She could live on brown rice with soy sauce, strawberry fruit squeezes and a side of orange juice. Her big brown eyes make us all melt and none of the boys can say NO to her. Mommy has to be the bad "guy". She uses dominoes or anything small and rectangular to pretend it's a cell phone. She calls her "friends" and talks quietly for at least 20 minutes. She is the happiest when she's in a sand box, or when we are reading 10+ books together. 

Even though I had my own expectations of what I wanted my children to be, they have far surpassed anything I could have imagined. They are each so unique that it would have been hard to place them in a generic category. I think the poem should read, "What are children made of? Sugar and spice, everything nice AND snips and snails and puppy dog tails. My guess is that most children have a nice combination all all over the above.