Thursday, November 30, 2006

To Done, Or A New Beginning

Today is the end of November. This is the end of NaBloPoMo. I have posted dutifully. I have, admitedly, engaged in navel-gazing. I have noticed things more deeply about my life. Importantly, for the first time in my life, I have kept (a form of a) journal for a month. Huzzah! NaBloPoMo has compelled me to write.

What happens after today? I keep writing. I want to break out that Moleskine; okay, I want to open the many Moleskines that I own, one by glorious one, and fill them with words, drawings and photographs. I also want to keep this blog going, as often as I can . . .perhaps even daily.

Words are flowing. They may not be profound but at least words are flowing. They can flow onto a screen, a page or wherever. It's not the product, it's the process. That's what we say about the kids' art projects. Why not mine too?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Succumbing . . . to a Cold

I do believe that I am catching my first cold of the season. I woke up sneezing this morning. I began to notice that weird tickle at the back of my throat. Symptoms quickly abated with a rather large cup of coffee this morning. Now that night has fallen, the stuffiness and tickle are increasingly in evidence. It's clearly time for massive vitamin C doses.

On a broader and different note, it's amazing what trying to blog daily leads you to write about. I find myself asking "what happened today," "what am I noticing," "where has my perspective changed." This writing is, by no means profound. However, it is the stuff of life. I've never had the discipline to keep a journal. With this NaBloPoMo experience, I believe I can transfer the discipline to paper. Will I write about different things? Almost certainly. This space, after all, is quite public. It invites exploration, to a degree. What goes into my pristine black Moleskine is all mine.

Admittedly, I rather like the daily blogging too. It feels rather like shouting into a canyon; you get the satisfaction of expressing yourself but never know who might hear.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back to the Routine

On this second day after the Thanksgiving holiday, it strikes me how quickly we return to routine. Shower, pack lunches, drive to work, immerse self in work, return home, dinner, kid snuggling and reading . . . it is the stuff of life. I'm thankful to see the sun rise over San Francisco Bay. I'm less thankful for traffic. Warm hugs and kisses from my babies buoy my days. Curling up next to my husband and enjoying a book at bedtime send me happily into slumber. It is a routine. Importantly, it is a life, taken one day at a time. Do I want to do, see and experience more? Absolutely. It's a good challenge as the year turns, to experience a little bit more, be a bit more present each day. It's about taking the routine to the next level.

Monday, November 27, 2006


After a relaxing holiday weekend, today marked re-entry. I returned to unanswered emails, phone calls, and unpacked lunch boxes. I woke up grimacing but by noon had pretty much embraced the day. The Thanksgiving weekend didn't prove as productive as I had hoped. However, it did offfer a chance to unwind with my wee ones and catch up on a few (fewer than i would have liked) chores around the house.

Four weeks and I get another chance. I'll never trade kid-time for chore-time. I just need to be a little more productive and motivated in those non-kid times. Sometimes being responsible has little to recommend it . . . at the time.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Quiet Day

Today is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We've spent the day picking up, following up on open tasks, generally puttering about. Mark is displaying his characteristic enthusiasm, going so far as to climb up on the roof to clean the skylights. Admittedly, it made a difference; thank you, Dear!

Days like today feel strange. It feels slothful to read, to curl up under the comforter and daydream. Yet, with our crazy lives, days like today are needed and justified.

Ah well, off to find some dinner of the non-turkey variety.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Day After

Yesterday we enjoyed a tasty, happy feast with my cousins. As a result of getting home past our collective bedtimes, the whole family slept in this morning. Much kd snuggling ensued this morning, to my delight. Today proved to be a quiet day, getting my car serviced, accompanying Graham on a playdate, enjoying left over turkey and stuffing. Lauren is a bit under the weather but will survive. We avoided the shopping hordes today. Everywhere parking lots were jam packed. We'll gear up for the coming holidays, no doubt, but at our own choosing. It felt good not to consume madly this day.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! It's really impossible to say that enough, isn't it?

The turkey is on the rotisserie. The oyster stuffing is in the oven. Mark is frolicking (an understatement) with freshly bathed kids. In a couple of hours, we'll be off to my cousins, Brian and Liz, to celebrate the holiday with their two kids and many more holiday treats.

At this very moment, parallel celebrations are taking place. My parents and Liz's parents are gathering in Decatur, Illinois to celebrate the holiday as they've done for decades. We carry on the tradition on the Left Coast but with a strong bias for Northern California cuisine. Mark's family is gathering in New Jersey for the holiday. Many, many Greenbergs and even more opinions make the holiday there.

Thankful? More than I could ever express. My kids, great husband, curiousity and comfort level in life--indeed, I am blessed. There is so very much for which to be thankful.

Best wishes for a fantastic holiday!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Little One on One Time

I am a mom and a full time marketing professional. It's often tough to balance the two. However, today I had hours of delicious one on one time with my five year old son, Graham. At one level, we did functional stuff. We visited Whole Foods to pick up elements of the Thanksgiving feast. Next came a trip to a fabric store to pick up supplies to make our own stuffed animals this weekend. (Wherever that notion came from is beyond my comprehension, but I plowed ahead anyway.) We shared a sushi lunch. While his sister was off to a playdate, we visited the bookstore. The car talk was awesome. Holding hands proved magical. I can still feel the warm hugs.

I love spending time with both my children. Given that they're 18 months apart, I quickly default to the role of referee. It's a pleasure to sit down with each of them, look into their eyes and connect.

Don't feel left out, my dear Lauren. It's a long weekend. Trust me, Mommy has a master plan!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What Do You Mean, You Sold My Turkey?!

I admit I'm a huge fan of Whole Foods. I love that you can pretty much taste anything in the store, which is great for my kids. No question that Whole Foods products are largely organic and healthful. Their sense of community and customer service is outstanding.

Today, the fine folks at Whole Foods called to say they were out of the variety of turkey that I ordered for Thanksgiving. I ordered a Diestel American Heritage Bronze turkey. Apparently, the turkeys (literally) flew and my name was lower on the list of lucky ones this year. Lesson learned; a week's notice is not enough to ensure your bird of choice.

Thomas, the Holiday Table representative, called and talked me calmly through the results of the turkey tastings Whole Foods held for customers and team. He recommended a fresh Diestel Natural bird, noted its juiciness, confirmed its availability in my preferred weight, and confirmed the order. Thanksgiving disaster averted.

Thank you, Whole Foods, for being proactive, well informed, and devoted to making your customers happy. I would have love the American Heritage Bronze. I'll still have a great fresh turkey. Next year, I'll shop earlier.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Random Kind of Day

Today is Monday of a holiday week. I am focused on . . . the holiday, of course. We're off to my cousin's Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving as our parents have done for decades. However, I'll lay odds that we'll have better food. I'll provide the oyster dressing (what my family calls stuffing), kicked up a bit with double the quantity of oysters, ciabatta bread, and fresh herbs. We're also bringing the bird; Mark will put the rotisserie to good use bringing our American Heritage Bronze turkey to its best possible state. What won't be different between the generations is the love and connection we share at this special time of year.

On more mundane notes, there is business work to be done and I'm doing it. The car gets serviced over the holiday. Graham's classmates are requesting a playdate. We have some major closet cleaning ahead of us.

At any given time, it feels there are about a billion choices, options, and pieces of stimulus. I'm hoping a bit of focus, exhaustive lists, and good planning will see us though.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Simple Pleasures: A Math Book

We had our first parent-teacher consultation this past week. Adrienne, Graham's Kindergarten teacher, is a seasoned pro. She asked us to come prepared to come with three examples of where Graham shines and our wish for him for the year. Unbeknownst to us, she asked him to supply answers to the same questions. Much to our surprise we were directionally in sync.

On the wish, we were in different orbits. We wished Graham would develop a love of learning this year. He wished for his own math book. Today, I drove off to Lakeshore Learning and got him his very own math book, in addition to several other items. He settled down at the kitchen table and began to practice his numbers immediately. The little guys said "thank you so much, Mama. I LOVE this math book. I enjoy doing math." When it comes to encouraging that love of learning, his wish is my command.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Punch List

When I took the kids to swimming lessons this morning, Mark drove off for a morning of work at Lauren's pre-school, the Friends Nursery School in Palo Alto. This is a parent participation school. Given that we're two working parents, we're doing our best to meet those work commitments early and proactively. Lauren is thriving at Friends.

He came home with a great idea: the punch list. It seems that good folks at Friends write down everything need by room. They tape those lists up and, when parents come to work, they place their initials by the task and get after it. We walked our home this afternoon making the Delman punch list. We noted the things we wanted to do, regardless of the time horizon. The list will be a living one. Mark is off right now checking out alternatives to our various (and somewhat despised) blinds.

The magic here is that we have all of our visible projects in a common place, not in our heads, and ready for action.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Simple Pleasures: Thai Food

By Friday, we are, as a family, toast. The long week ended, kids and parents alike deflate on Fridays, the end to a (usually) long week. In such a spent state, cooking (normally a family passion) falls by the wayside. We are left staring at take-out menus with longing. We're fortunate to have the excellent Ming's for Chinese a mere five minutes away. We've been known to slum it with pizza. Tonight, Mark had the foresight to grab Thai on his way home.

Deep fried squid, peppery duck, pad thai, spicy spring rolls and vegetable-studded fried rice graced our table and woke up our tastebuds tonight.

Thank heaven for simple pleasures, like Thai carry-out.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

First Parent-Teacher Conference

Talk about an anxiety ridden event. Today was my first parent teacher conference. In true new-California-involved-parent style, I and my husband both attended. Professionals that we are, we arrived with duplicate copies of our son's "shining" moments and wishes for his first year in school.

What a great way to start the day. Graham's Ohlone kindergarten teacher, Adrienne Brimer, is first class. She addressed literacy and math competency, all within the context of a larger vision of learning. We learned the value of play. We understood how core skills were key but not something to obsess over. Mixed classes (e.g., k/1 and teacher continuity) allow for individual growth over a larger span of time.

We spoke about what (we thought) turned our son on (when he "shined"). Unbeknowst to us, he answered the same set of questions. Bottom line: his needs are simpler and more directly met than ours. Okay, got it! We can fully meet the needs of the little guy.

This dialog is so very special. This is the first objective input on our son's learning progress. I am thankful that the input was focused on skill building, on progress, on real learning, rather than on some abstract concept of assessment or what is appropriate.

Here's to a good night's sleep for an anxious Mom.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fading Fast

Stellar post from Minneapolis last night, eh? At least that was my first moblog post; the joys of technology never end.

I wish I could say the same for airplanes. We sat at the gate for an hour last night while the Northwest folks investigated the fluid leaking from the plane. This was not a confidence inspiring issue for me, an avowed nervous flyer. Having gotten up at 4:30 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday morning and read for a solid hour past my bedtime on the tarmac, I managed a relatively decent sleep once we took off. Although not a first, I can count the number of times I've actually slept on a plane on one hand. Despite my best efforts to load up my video iPod, I didn't even turn the little beauty on. I shouldn't complain. I arrived home safe and sound, albeit past 1 a.m.

I ended up at an outdoor photo shoot this morning for an upcoming series of ads. The sky over Berkeley was amazing; the sky was a perfect pitch of blue, streaked with thin white clouds that faded into pointellistic daubs. Despite my lack of sleep (or perhaps because of it), I was struck by the singular beauty of the sky. The good news is that I actually had a camera with me. Photos to come.

The travel is catching up with me fast tonight. I wanted to make sure I got a post up. NaBloPoMo is a demanding taskmaster.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I am posting from Minneapolis' Airport. It's been a long day. I have nothing to say, really. Nevertheless, NaBloPoMo requires a post. Commitment met. Goodnight!

Monday, November 13, 2006

On the Road

I write this from chilly, but sunny, Minneapolis, MN. Okay, it's not sunny now, it's dark; you get the idea.

Before my team convenes to review our plans for tomorrow's meetings, I'm taking a moment to re-group, getting re-organized and re-focused after our flight. There's something about being crammed into that sleek metal tube hurtling through space that begs for recovery.

My good deed for today was sending my son's Kindergarten class a postcard from Minneapolis. His class is receiving mail from all over the world. I realize Minneapolis may not be the most exotic destination but it is where I am. I do love the little guy. Hopefully, the kids will enjoy the moose photo, distance report from Palo Alto to Minneapolis, and a brief weather report.

Back to trying to shake off that time out of mind feeling.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Wrapping Up the Weekend

This is a quick post. The household is tucked under their respective covers, save for me. I'm traveling tomorrow and doing one final check--and post. Today was focused, getting the house cleaned up, packing, getting a meal or two ahead of the family and snuggling with the kids. All in all a good day.

I'm looking forward to a few hours of solitude tomorrow. The window seat becomes my nest, to work, read, and think. As much as I miss my family when I travel, I appreciate a bit of time away.

I recently worked with a fellow who made every trip an adventure. He might choose an eleclectic or historic hotel. He wanders new neighborhoods and photographs everything. He inserts himself into the path of life and lives more richly for it. This is a good lesson for me. Carpe diem!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Routine Saturday

Today has been another routine Saturday . . . and I love it. I woke up this morning with plenty of time to read and enjoy a cup of coffee prior to the little ones waking up. I took a quick shower while Mark walked the dogs and we bundled the kids off to swimming lessons. Another forty minutes or so to read. We returned home for breakfast.

Uncharacteristically, I needed to do a bit of work this morning. Mark did various chores around the house. I joined in the usual clean up and laundry. Graham was feeling particularly snuggly this afternoon. Curling up with him was an absolute pleasure. Graham and Mark are now off in the kitchen. Lauren is splashing about in the bath. I'm enjoying a glass of wine before we settle down to dinner and a quiet evening.

Life is truly sweet.

Friday, November 10, 2006

New iPod Toys

I confess, I'm an iPod addict. Interestingly, it wasn't music that put me over the top; it was podcasts. I love being able to listen to great conversations and points of view at whim. Favorites, you ask? KQED's Forum consistently provides great insights; it seems Michael Krasny can't have an uninspired conversation. Writers on Writing, Barbara deMarco-Barrett's conversations with authors, agents, and all being literary, is a winner. I love The Accidental Creative, great insights on creativity and how to cultivate it. For photographers, the Lenswork podcast with Brooks Jensen is a regular motivation to pick up the camera and get at it.

Although I haven't downloaded audio books (and I don't know why as I am an avid audio book listener), I have downloaded entire courses from The Teaching Company.

I recently got an iPod video and am actively seeking content. I'm not a huge movie fan but who knows what can happen? I look forward to podcast-y stuff in video format: TED talks, MAKE magazine how to segments, and things from public broadcasting. The how-to wiki also explains how to view You Tube content on your iPod. Getting the video aspect of my life up and running is definitely a project for this weekend.

Today, MacWorld arrived. Among the headlines were fifty new gadgets for the iPod user. Undoubtedly, I'll find holiday possibilities among them. Oh, joy!

There is something magical about having that sleek device(s) at hand to learn, explore, or orchestrate life's score. I'm hooked. And happy!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Challenge of Choice

I must confess that posting every day to my blog, in the spirit of NaBloPoMo, can be a bit of a challenge. It's not the actual posting, it's having the topic. Tonight, I'm soldiering on.

I'm thinking about choice. I travel to Minneapolis on Monday for a meeting with the good, smart folks at Target. I respect their approach to business. I'm looking forward to the dialog.

Between the Target boys and me is a four hour plane trip and a quiet evening in the hotel. That means one thing to this business traveler: time to read! Without question, every business trip is a chance to curl up with my laptop and catch up--on email, on presentations and memos, etc. Every business trip is a chance to also spend hours curled up with a great book(s). I typically travel with two or three books . . . just in case, I tell myself.

Here I am, a full four days before I fly, thinking not about my presentation--it's done--but what I'm going to read on the plane. Will I start Ayelet Waldman's mommy as sleuth series? Do I want something more literary, like essays from Rebecca Solnit? I am an avowed foodie, so perhaps I should finish Anthony Bourdain's latest book or Mark Kurlansky's The Big Oyster? I look longingly at Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, but it's so very, very big and heavy. The agony of a nightstand full of possibility! The heart-rending challenge of choosing a few, select friends to accompany me on my trip.

Am I book-crazy? Absolutely! Yes, I'll sync the iPod with music and podcasts. If I can figure out how to separate video from music & podcasts, I'd love to bring my iPod Video as well. However, after all is said and done, I need to travel with my books. That means a few, not one.

Stay tuned. I'll share what I finally choose to accompany me on the hop over to Minneapolis.

P.S. Great steak in that town. If my colleagues are wise, we'll dine well and I'll post about that as well!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Friends Nursery School

I feel very fortunate to have my daughter attend The Friends Nursery School in Palo Alto (clink link for more). Her space in the program was not the result of our good planning but rather a community email announcing (rare) spaces in the class. I may not always be on top of things but I'm no fool . . . I jumped at the opportunity.

Friends is a parent-particpation preschool. This is not necessarily an easy thing to manage with two professional parents. However, we are proactively handling workdays and fundraising commitments. It's all about being on top of the calendar.

Tonight is a parent education night. I am soon off to attend a session led by a Stanford prof on childhood friendships, what they mean, how they change, how a parent can nurture them. This seems like more than a fair trade. We supply tuition dollars and time to support the program. Friends Nursery School helps us become better, more effective parents and provides a wonderful growth experience for our kids. This seems like a bargain to me.

Thanks, Friends!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

All Consuming

I had a moment of self discovery today. Driving to work, I realized I am a consumer of words, in a phase of consumption. I listen to NPR or to podcasts during my hour or so commute to and from the office. My big aha today is that I spend my most satifying time listening to commentary on writing, creativity, books, art, photography, craft and the like. If that's how I spend my "mind" time, surely that's an indication that I should devoting more attention to the subject(s).

Monday, November 06, 2006

Elephants. oh my!

Click the "elephants" link and go to Pete's Pond in Botswana. You can watch an African watering hole 24/7. I know I've posted on this before (a mere two days ago). However, this morning I awakened to a new sight: elephants. This morning (6:30 a.m. SF time) I saw an entire herd of elephants at Pete's Pond. I grabbed my son out of bed. We spent an entranced half hour watching these beasts: drinking, playing, snuggling, fighting, eating. It's one thing to watch something like this on PBS. It's another thing altogether to see wildlife real time and engaged in real experience. Watch Pete's Pond. Amazing creatures are sure to appear.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

White Chocolate

My little guy, age 5, has a thing for cooking shows. He watches them and seems to "get" them. As he's gotten a bit older, we've been able to discuss what's happening. This is fun for both of us. Today, we watched Nigella Feasts together. I'm a longtime fan of Nigella Lawson and Graham is a new one. In any case, today's these was chocolate. Nigella chose to use white as well as dark chocolate, puzzling Graham to no end. I realized he's never tasted white chocolate. I remedied the situation and picked up some delicious white chocolate at Whole Foods. I explained that this is what Nigella was using on the show. Both kids cautiously tasted the white disks. However, it was my daughter that responded first and most enthusiastically: "This is DIVINE!" she said. Indeed, Lauren Olivia!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Webcam in Botswana

This is one of my favorite sites (click on the header to go there). It's a National Geographic webcam positioned at a lake in Botswana. This is the read deal, folks. Listen to the sounds of the African bush. Stare with rapt attention and your children on your knees, looking for that magnificent animal (or aminal, as my daughter says) that typifies the bush experience. I know webcams aren't new. However, this one is fascinating. Take a look, visit often, enjoy and explore.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Week's End

By Friday, I am tired. TIRED. A full week of commuting, pretty intense work, pretty intense kids (2), and a great husband. If I can manage to do laundry, pay bills, contribute to dinner, and the like, it's a lucky strike extra.

I could leave this post at "I'm tired." However, I can't. The reason is simple: I've been blessed with a pretty terrific life. So to wrap up the week, here's what I'm grateful for (not exhaustive, but representative):

A warm, strong hug from my dear husband, my best friend
Snuggles and reading with my two beloved kids
A challenging job to engage my heart and mind
A ready supply of books to offer me both distraction and challenge
A home in what I consider to be paradise: Palo Alto, CA

I could go on . . . and I will. Posting what I'm grateful for will be a significant part of this month's posts.

The very act of writing down what I'm grateful for makes my spirit a bit lighter. More to come.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween Pumpkins

I live with a master pumpkin carver. At least, it seems that I do. Trick or treat time brought families, known and unknown to us, in search of sweets. More often than not, kids and adults would stop to say "Wow! Great/cool/scary pumpkins!" I would explain that Mark created the magic.

Over the past two Halloweens, Mark has become a bit obsessed with pumpkin carving. This year, he purchased two fine Japanese saws to help in the effort. What can I say--they worked!

In some ways, pumpkins are an art form and one given to impermanence. As the fall rains began to fall last night, we gathed the pumpkins together under the eaves. Perhaps we can preserve them a few days longer for all of us to enjoy.

You may be asking, why a Halloween posting on November 2? It seems to be bad karma to light the pumpkins before the magical night.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November, the Writing Month

Okay, I'm trying to balance desire and reality here. I learned of NaNoWriMo in the past several weeks. NaNoWriMo is also known as National Novel Writing Month or "write a 50,000 word novel in a month." Part of me is actually up for the challenge. Another part . . . is seriously not. That second part is paralyzed with fear, actually. I seem to have no "big idea," let alone an outline.

There's another option: posting something every day for a National Blog Posting Month--NaBloPoMo. Daily posting, still an accomplishment for erratic me, seems achievable. As for the novel, well . . . we'll see.

Here's to NaBloPoMo. To day one. To new beginnings. I'm posting. Today, words. Tomorrow, photos. Everything is a journey.

Wishing you all the best on your own journey!