Our Plum Tree is Exploding with Blossoms

Well, that didn’t take long.

Last week there were four little buds, hinting that spring would soon arrive.  I assumed that it would be at least a couple of weeks before the blossoms peaked, but I think we hit that point yesterday.  The tree absolutely exploded with little white flowers.  Between the bees buzzing in the branches, and the birds chirping nearby, it not only looks like spring, it sounds like spring.

As Manley Guy put it, “I love this tree.  (It is) one of the things for which I am thankful.”

We inherited the tree– it came with the house– which is amazing, as the garden was utterly neglected and unkempt when we bought it through a short sale in 2009.  We planted other fruit trees less than a year ago, but we don’t expect them to bear fruit for several years, so the plum tree is the star of our otherwise fairly plain garden.

Here is what it looked like yesterday:


Finally Finished the Kids’ Bathroom Decor

Last year I decided that the kids’ bathroom was way too bland.  I’m a big believer in bright and fun spaces, and I think that should include utilitarian areas such as bathrooms.  This month I finally put the finishing touches on the bathroom that the kids share, and I’m pretty happy with it.

I went with a theme of “Summer”.  I had some photo enlargements printed of the kids at the pool and on a rafting trip, put up some papier mache creatures that we bought years ago in Spain, bought a couple of baskets for hand towels and bath towels, and Manly Guy hung a shelf to display pretty sea shells.

Here is the end result:


First Signs of Spring


Our plum tree is quietly announcing that spring will soon be here.

The tree is still mostly bare– I only counted four blossoms yesterday.  But I suspect that by the end of February our backyard plum tree will be covered in blossoms.  Two years ago that happened, and a hail storm a week later wiped them all out, leaving us plum-less for the year.  (I think there were two tiny plums on the tree in June that year.)  Last year the tree blossomed in late February/early March and we were blessed with a wonderful harvest.  I made many jars of plum jelly, which is perfect for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

But no use counting my plums before they are fruit!  The weather has been ridiculously lovely today– I think we hit the low 70’s this afternoon.  Which is pretty crazy for February.  When I posted on Facebook about our weather, friends on the East Coast (and other colder climes) teased me for our perennial lovely climate.  Manly Guy and I have decided that California *does* have four seasons, just not the traditional ones.  Ours are Nice, Perfect, Warm and Cool.

Bye Bye Beloved Jogger

Today may be the last time that I use our jogging stroller.

It seems strange to say it– that jogger has been a part of my life for a decade.  We bought it when our oldest was an infant, and he will be eleven in a month.  I’m still on the trail at least three times per week, but our youngest is in preschool all day and will be in Kindergarten in the fall.  And she isn’t that interested in sitting in it.  Today she ran alongside the stroller for about two miles.  She is over forty pounds, getting too big for it anyway.

We’ve certainly gotten our money’s worth out of that jogger.  When we lived in San Francisco I walked as much as I drove, and it was often pushing one of the strollers.  I’ve had several travel strollers, and a double jogger for the twins, but the BOB single jogger has been my favorite since we got it.

It was lovely weather this morning– sunny, mid-fifties, birds chirping, creek gurgling– I was so happy to get on the trail and it was fun to have V along for the ride.  Ridiculous weather for early February, especially considering that the Northeast was blanketed with two feet of snow last night.  In California we have a high cost of living, high taxes, and plenty of other issues, but we have perfect weather.  I’m always amused by Californians who have the audacity to complain about the weather here.  (Really?!  Have you ever lived anywhere else?)

When I realized that it might be my last time taking the jogger out, I had to take a few photos.  I cherish my time on the trail, and I have loved all the time that I have pushed my children in that jogger.  I will miss it.


La Chandeleur Crêpe Day


February 8, 2013

Today the kids’ school celebrated La Chandeleur Crêpe Day, also known as Crêpe Day in France (normally observed on 2/2, but the school scheduled it on a Friday).  This is a new holiday for me, and I must admit that I find it amusing that a nation would celebrate a day by eating crêpes.  Apparently there is a bit of superstition in the celebration; when making the first crêpe, you are supposed to hold a coin in your left hand.  If you flip the crêpe properly in the pan, it is supposed to be good luck (and doom on you if you flub it up). And somehow the day also determines if winter is winding down, or headed for another six weeks of cold (in a Groundhog Day sort of way).

One of our twins corrected my pronunciation of “crêpe” at least four times in the past twenty-four hours, which started off amusing and ended up annoying.  (“Mommy, it is crêpe with a soft “e”, not an “a” sound.  And you need to add the tiger sound before it.”)  Yes, I know my French accent is crap, and I can’t roll my r’s if my life depended on it, but I wish she didn’t need to remind me so many times.

There was some batter left-over from my earlier crêpe-making for the kids’ classes, so this evening I made a few more.  The kids had not been overly impressed with crêpes at school (served with jam, honey, powdered sugar), so they were complaining when I wouldn’t let them have plain ice cream.  Of course, once they tried the crêpes with chocolate/almond spread, sprinkled with powdered sugar, then served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, they decided it was the “best dessert ever!”

Trying to Make My Mom Feel Special


February 4, 2013

On Saturday the girls and I took my mom to dinner.

It sounds so simple, yet it was a difficult task for me.  My relationship with my mother is complicated, imperfect.  We don’t have a lot in common, and our conversations can get strained and awkward.   We didn’t get to see her over the holidays, despite my efforts to get us there (she lives about an hour away), and I have felt badly that she had to spend all of December on her own.  When the girls and I arrived to her house we brought Mom a new outfit: dress, sweater, leggings, shoes, even underwear.  My mother doesn’t get fussed over a lot, and I figured that this is something that I could do for her that no one else really does.  We had her try everything on (thankfully, it all fit and worked well together), and then she was ready for an evening out.

We went to a restaurant about a half an hour from her house, in a town she doesn’t frequently visit.  My daughters sat on both sides of her and fussed over Grandma.  Dinner was lovely, and I’d like to think that Mom enjoyed herself.  I don’t know for sure, but I hope she liked it.

I don’t look back fondly on my childhood.  My parents were too young when they got married and had kids.  And their generation liked to divorce, so we had quite a few of those while I was growing up.  I think that my parents did the best that they could, but I am definitely trying to make up for my own lost childhood when I throw all my energy into various holiday celebrations/decorations/matching outfits, etc.  (Yes, I’m working on Valentine’s Day stuff.  Of course.)  The thing is that I have a knack (and I enjoy) making an occasion special, so I have a tendency to take it a bit over the top.  I figure that you might as well make it memorable . . .

Do I love her?  Yes, of course I do– she’s my mother.  But do I like her?  Often I don’t, but I am trying harder to find common ground.  I can’t talk politics with her.  I have different ideas on most topics from my mother, so in our conversation we end up dancing around subjects that become too argumentative.   However, instead of focusing on what my mother and I can’t share, I’m trying to focus on what we *can* share, and what I can do to make her feel special.