June 25, 2009


We interrupt this month of mayhem to bring you three hours of absolute bliss.

In truth, I'm the one who got three hours of bliss. But I'll share it with you. Granted, it won't be as blissful for you as it was for me. Yesterday, in between working for Sol (my 93-year-old friend), taping notes all over the house for the painters, taking Jerry to Jackson's house, taking my car back to the mechanic (for the third day in a row!), picking my car up at the mechanic, picking up Jerry and Jackson from computer class, and going to the pharmacy to pick up more drugs for Jerry's strep throat and double ear infection(!!), I managed to spend three hours with one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, Zefra, at a spa in Koreatown. We soaked, and steamed. We were scrubbed and massaged. We got masks. Our hair was washed and conditioned. And when it was all over we were lovingly dried off and dressed in a robe. I think the park I love best is when the masseuse ties my robe for me. I feel so taken care of! Ah.... I'm starting to feel relaxed just thinking about it.

Of course, as soon as it was over there were calls from Jackson's dad and the painters to return (I only had five missed calls to Zefra's nineteen!) and the car to pick up and a drive across town to look forward to. Still, I managed to carve out three hours to be with my friend and to be pampered and I was very pleased with myself.

Prior to Zefra's visit, I was beginning to think that I might be a lazy, or maybe a flaky person. I expressed this thought to her and she laughed out loud. Really hard. So that made me feel better. I think it must be the only time being laughed at has actually made me feel better. She said I should make a list of all the things I've been doing over the past six months. Things like settling one grandma's estate, moving another grandma from an apartment to assisted living, getting the interior of the house painted, toilets replaced (have I told you how much I love our new toilets!?), weeds pulled, window replaced, vegetables planted, blah, blah, blah. It's too boring to keep going. It did make me feel like maybe I was being too hard on myself. I've been doing a lot. And I've still managed to take Jerry to the Maker faire, be in the delivery room at the birth of my niece, have drinks with the homeschool moms at Mom's Night Out and write a blog post every now and then.

I even cleaned my office the other day. Would you believe I found a desk and a floor in there? I had to move a bunch of boxes of my grandma's papers and I almost started crying. That's one of the things that was making me think I might be lazy. I avoid working on her estate as much as possible (which isn't much) and I thought it was because I'm a flake but it turns out dealing with my grandma's estate reminds me that she's dead. And that's something I prefer not to think about. I haven't even cleaned out her purse yet. I think I might save it for the anniversary of her death. Silly, I know. But, hey, it justifies putting it off a bit longer.

Let's get back to bliss, shall we? I did make a reservation to stay near Carcassonne for Bastille Day and I booked two nights in Beynac where we will have our very own private tour guide (for four hours!) to take us to the cro-magnon cave drawings at Fonte-de-Gaume and the place where the very first human bones were discovered!! Yippee!! I am so excited about this I can't stand it.

The one week countdown begins tomorrow. That's right. We leave L.A. one week from tomorrow for Sacramento, where we'll drop off the dog, have a 4th of July celebration at my mom's and then catch an early flight to D.C. before crossing the Atlantic to Paris. We arrive in Paris July 6.

June 19, 2009

I'm On A Roll

Posting three days in a row! Can you believe it?! Of course, I don't have all that much to say today. I will, however, show you pictures of our guest room which has just been painted a color that I love, love, love! I couldn't be bothered to change the lense on my camera so I can only show you small bits of it. Here's one corner:
And here's another. Isn't it lovely and peaceful and serene? It's called "pure aqua" by Behr. Did I already mention that I love it?
And this is our new window. I couldn't photograph the entire thing because Jerry didn't want to be in the photo and he was sitting on the edge of the couch.
The living room got a new paint job as well but I'm just luke warm on the color. I suspect it would look better if we had a new couch but that's not going to happen (I'm on the lookout for a slipcover, though!).

I'm starting to plan some excursions in France and am really looking forward to visiting the cave paintings near Sarlat. I'm even thinking of hiring a guide but it's pretty expensive. Still, I think it would be so much more interesting for all of us if we had our very own cro-magnon expert! I'm also trying to figure out if there's a way we can spend Bastille Day at Carcassonne, which is far from Tours but they have a big celebration and we wanted to go there anyway (because we love the game!). So I might tie those two things together. I'm kind of conflicted about it, though. On the one hand, I want to take advantage of the fact that we're there and see all the things I want to see (or some of them anyway). But on the other hand I don't want to go overboard on hotel rooms when we have a house in Tours that we're not paying for! But four nights in a hotel might be reasonable...

Anyway, today is the day I'm taking the Volvo (we call her Roxie) in to get the air conditioning fixed. We've been living without air conditioning in that car for over two years now. But since we'll have to drive through central California on July 3 to take Patsy (the dog) to my mom's before we leave, I'm really hoping it's fixable. We tried to fix it once to no avail. So please keep your fingers crossed! Roxie is an old lady with over 200,000 miles under her belts and she deserves a little cooling off now and then--so do her passengers!

June 18, 2009

Surprise Guests & Travel Prep

This morning we've been visited by that rarest of beasts (in this neck of the woods, anyway) known as the clean kitchen. That's right, folks. The dishes are washed, dried and put away. The counter is free of magazines, bills, batteries, legos, screwdrivers, foam clown noses, DS games and other assorted items. And even the kitchen table is relatively free of debris. All that's left of the unruly pile that hid our table from view for the past two weeks is my laptop, a pile of Ask magazines, a box of scented candles, an iPod, my purse, about a million paint samples (neatly stacked), a Nintendo DS accesory pack box, two books (The Corrections and The Looking Glass Wars), and a medicare summary notice for my grandma. And that's nothing! So I'm feeling free and happy and uncluttered this morning. Therefore, I can blog!

The very first thing I'd like to say, right off the bat, is if you are expecting guests (especially if they are guests you've never met) be sure to write their arrival date on your calendar. And possibly tattoo it to your forehead, or the forehead of your child if, like me, you sometimes manage to pass an entire day without looking in a mirror once. Let me tell you what can happen if you don't heed my advice.

You might be in your kitchen one Monday evening, making a late dinner, and relishing the passing of what you consider to be a stellar unschooling day. Messes were made, books were read, You Tube instructional videos were watched, and electrical toys were taken apart. You might be thinking about your guests from New Zealand, due to arrive on Thursday. Perhaps, if you're like me, you'll wonder if you can clean the entire house and get the guest room ready in one day--Thursday (the day they arrive) because what's the point in cleaning up too soon? The house will just get messy again. Naturally, you'll decide you can.

Then your phone will ring. You won't recognize the name of the person calling but you'll answer anyway. When the woman tells you her name your mind will remain blank (though the New Zealand accent may ring a bell or two way back in the nether regions of your memory) but when she says, "We're at the airport" you'll put your hand over your mouth and shout "OH MY GOD I THOUGHT YOU WERE COMING ON THURSDAY!!" To which the woman will sweetly reply, "No we leave on Thursday."

So, yes, we had our first home exchangers come to stay and I almost left them at the airport with nowhere to go! They forgave me, though. I made it to LAX in record time and luckily Warren arrived at home with just enough time to put clean sheets on the guest bed and clear out the mess--in the guest room anyway--just before we got back. The rest of the house looked--well, lived in. But our visitors didn't seem to mind. We had a busy few days of showing them the sites (La Brea Tar Pits, Farmer's Market, Rodeo Drive, Venice Beach, Griffith Observatory) and enjoying their company before they headed back to New Zealand.

And now we've gone back to getting ready for our own trip. The house swap is only two weeks away now! I haven't had much time to think about what we'll do once we get to France because I've been so busy with the house. I figure we have a nice long plane ride to sort out all that stuff. In the meantime, walls are being painted, fences repaired, flowers planted, curtains sewn, dust bunnies disposed, and huge bags of weeds (54 of them to be exact) are being hefted up to the curb for trash pick up. It'll be like coming home to an entirely new house!

In other news, Jerry has been really into electronics these days. He made a Lego computer mouse by taking the casing off an old mouse and building a new one out of Legos. And he's been enjoying his computer class, and Japanese lessons, and our new DVD player which allows us to stream movies from Netflix onto our TV (at no extra cost!).

Well, the novelty of the clean kitchen is starting to wear off and the rest of the house (mostly the dirty floor) is calling out. I'd better get busy.

June 17, 2009

It's Been Ages

I know! I've been overwhelmed, in the best possible way, with out of town guests, getting ready for our house swap, and trying to help Jerry stay "un-bored." There's so much I want to tell you, but while all this work is looking me in the eye I can't relax enough to have fun writing about it. So this is just a brief note to say "I'm alive!"

I'll write more soon.

June 5, 2009

Home At Last!

We're finally home. And we made it just in time for a quick shower, an even quicker dinner and Video Games Live at the Greek. We must have had a good luck fairy looking over our shoulder because not only were we at the front of a line of cars in the extremely annoying and overpriced stacked parking, but the orchestra played the Megaman theme. Jerry actually wept with joy. He was that happy. It was great to be surrounded by people who have embraced video games as an acceptable form of entertainment. As the parent of a gamer it really bugs me that games get such a bad wrap in our society. More on that later, though. I'm going to go curl up under a blanket and watch a movie with Jerry. It's good to be home!

P.S. If there is a gamer in your life run (don't walk) to the nearest Video Games Live show. It's AWESOME!!!!!

June 4, 2009

Welcome Ezra!

Waiting an extra day (and a couple tablespoons of castor oil) paid off. Ezra Kelley O'Brien was born last night at 10:59 p.m., during a lightening storm, just one hour after his mom arrived at the birth center.

June 2, 2009

Fun While We Wait. And Wait. And Wait.

I know I said I would post more about the conference but I've moved on in life and it's hard to go back. I'll just add that it's difficult to think of a way the conference could have been better and leave it at that. Oh, and I'll also add that it was probably wrong to say that the experienced unschoolers addressed their own doubts in their discussions. It wasn't doubt so much as worries, freak outs or moments of panic. They don't doubt that unschooling is right for them and their kids, they just have normal parenting worries and it was really great to hear them address those worries. I'm glad I got that off my chest because I was afraid I might have given the wrong impression with the whole "doubt" thing.

Anyway, we're still in Sacramento and that darned baby seems to be perfectly happy to stay curled up inside his (or her) mommy's womb with no intention of timing her (or his) birth to suit my schedule. Everyone is eager for the new family member to arrive. Especially Mom.It's very annoying. We need to be in L.A. for Video Games Live on Thursday at 8 so we really need to go home on Wednesday. At this point I'm pretty sure the baby will be born once we're about half way between Sacramento and Los Angeles.

We're having fun while we wait though. My parents had a full house on Sunday. My nephew, Carson, showed off his swimming skills
while his dad and sister, Cora, relaxed on a float.
My brother, David, and his partner, Irene, brought six-week-old Layla for a visit. Here she is with Great Grandma Ruthas the proud parents look on.That afternoon Carson, Jerry and I made silly putty out of starch (one part) and glue (two parts).Jerry and I made a Lego cake for dessert.
Here's a close up. It's supposed to be red.
Sunday was nice, but the highlight of the weekend was the Maker Faire on Saturday. I cannot accurately describe the absolute awesomeness of the Maker Faire. You just have to experience it. For a technology-minded kid like Jerry it's heaven.My friend Lindy met us there with her son, Anthony and Scott, her husband.Another friend that I hadn't seen in over ten years was performing at the Faire. She was there last year, too, and somehow we managed to miss her.
She and her husband had brought along their giant fire-spewing snail, The Golden Mean.

The life-sized Mousetrap game was back and this year we actually saw it in action.

But the best part of the faire for a kid like Jerry (and his mom, too!) is talking to the Makers. Jerry and Anthony spent about twenty minutes talking to a guy that was there with his 3-D printer. They peppered him with questions and he ended up giving them a couple of the objects the printer had copied. It turns out they sell 3-D printer kits that you can build. Jerry really wanted one but at $750 we decided to pass. We did buy a video game kit, though, and Jerry put it together with the help of it's creator and one of his friends, a guy who designs computer chips for a living.Here's Jerry holding the finished product.And this is the creator at his computer, downloading the programming onto Jerry's game.We came away with a beginners electronics kit, a book of electronics projects, other cool stuff, and lots websites and ideas to explore.

Our next electronics project will be the Drawdio.

And now I need to go visualize my sister going into labor this afternoon.