Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are We Broke Yet?

August is always an expensive month, but this year is especially bad. I feel like I'm just flinging money in all directions!

In order for our children to attend the excellent public schools here, we have to pay for all sorts of things that state funding no longer covers. The parents' club at each school and the local educational foundation each request a large donation per child to cover what they provide (music, art, languages, textbooks, other optional things like that). Then there's all the other stuff. For M, I was surprised by the cost of the yearbook ($105), resigned to paying for new PE clothes ($30) and an optional school sweatshirt ($40), and utterly appalled by the $75 charge for his required ID card. Oh, and we had to prepay for his school photo, sight unseen. (He came home from registration today, and informed me that, of course, his photo was hideous.)

B's yearbook was cheaper, and her ID is free, but the requested donation at the middle school is nearly twice what the high school requests. We prepaid her lunches for a semester, and we also prepaid her ballet school tuition for the next year (we get a discount if we do that).

On top of the expected school expenses, we had a couple surprises this month. First, our oven door refused to open when DH tried to bake cookies. After calling several highly recommended appliance repairman, we were informed that we had to go through the manufacturer's designated service people. We got an appointment last Friday, and found that we need a new door latch kit, which has to be special-ordered from the manufacturer. Next, our minivan's oil change turned into oil change + two new tires + new front axle. Finally, the tree in our backyard (which has been in need of a trim for a while) suddenly started dropping large branches not only in our yard, but also in our neighbors', so we made an emergency appointment with a tree trimmer.

For any appliances/cars/kids who may be listening, we're out of money, so please stop asking for more!

Monday, August 8, 2011

High School Registration

Can you believe M is entering high school? I'm still not entirely convinced yet, but today I had to go down to the high school and prove that we're residents of the district. I brought with me my driver's license, homeowner's insurance policy, and paycheck stub, to cover the three groups of documentation required. (Utility bills are no longer acceptable forms of ID). I also brought along his immunization records, just in case, even though I'd already submitted them in the spring. Good thing I did--the mom in line ahead of me was turned away because she hadn't brought her child's immunization records, and they did ask me to resubmit them in order to proceed. (Which then leads me to question why I had to submit them in the spring, if they want them again now?)

Overall, I can't complain. First of all, we arrived just in time--a rather long line formed behind us. Second, I have a friend who is having a much harder time with this (in a neighboring school district). Her nephew has arrived from overseas in order to attend school in the US for a year. My friend is very organized, and had all the required pieces of paper in hand last spring, but her school district wouldn't allow her to register the kid until he arrived. He arrived last week, so they went down to the school to register him. They accepted the paperwork, but informed her they couldn't register him until they made a home visit to ensure that he was really living with her. And they're booked the rest of this week. And they're closed next week. And school starts the week after, but he can't start if he's not registered...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright

Did you know that we live just around the corner from a Frank Lloyd Wright house? We didn't either, until a couple of years ago. The original owners passed away recently, and the house is going on the market soon. This weekend they offered tours, so we made our donation and signed up:

The house was surprisingly small inside, with only two bedrooms. The details were beautiful:

Wright must not have been a very tall man:

Another feature of the property is the extensive gardens, designed by Henry Matsutani. Unfortunately, they were not included in the regular tour, and we didn't really want to pay $125 each for the "special" tour plus reception. Here's a glimpse of the grounds:

It'll be interesting to see how much the place sells for (listing price will be 4.995 million). Too bad it won't raise the value of the neighboring homes :-)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth!

B and I watched the parade downtown this morning: the usual array of politicians waving from cars, and floats by everyone imaginable, including the high school Latin Club's chariot:

We celebrated my sister's birthday a few days early with a steak dinner (not too badly charred by me) and vanilla cake with whipped cream, blueberries, and strawberries. I just got home from watching the fireworks with M & B. (Someone please remind me next year to park further away--it's faster than trying to drive when trying to get home!)

Busy week coming up: the kids are leaving for a cruise with their grandparents next weekend, and DH and I taking advantage of their absence and going to London for a week. Before all that, we're hosting a piano recital (M's last lesson is tomorrow) and a going-away party for one of DH's postdocs on Friday, which is when DH's family arrives for the cruise.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sit Back and Relax (For Now)

It's 6:00 pm. In the last two hours, I:
Walked about half a mile to a BART station in the city.
Had a relaxing half-hour train ride.
Found my car, drove to the swim club to pick up B (the back way, because traffic was jammed on the main road). She wasn't ready to leave.
Drove back to the BART station to pick up DH, who was about twenty minutes behind me (he came from the airport).
Dropped DH off at home, going the back way again. Grabbed B's dance bag and a snack for myself.
Picked up B at the swim club and drove her to ballet class. Discovered she didn't have any pants, so called DH to meet us after class with pants and a sweater.
M is at Six Flags with his class. When he gets home, he and DH will meet us at the ballet school so we can all go out to a late dinner.
I am catching up on email, Facebook, and paying a few bills before going in to observe B's class. (1.5 hours is too long to sit on that hard bench!)

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Three Shows and a Late Night

Was woken up yesterday morning at 8:30 by B, calling to let me know she'd left her costume at home (yes, the one I told her to put in her bag last night). So, DH got home from dropping her off and had to turn around and go right back to the ballet school.

She danced in (and we watched) the pre-ballet show at 11:00 (she's one of the teaching assistants), then we had burgers for lunch and took her back to the ballet school for the 2:00 show.

Voci concert tonight from 8:00-10:00, then a bunch of us went out for some well-deserved food and drink. I finally arrived at home at 12:40 am--it's been a long time since I've stayed out that late!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not Quite Prepared

M assured me over dinner that he didn't need help packing for his Boy Scout trip tomorrow, and that he would be the one to suffer if he forgot anything. I had to butt in, though: after he "packed," I looked at the pile on the living floor and saw:
  • frisbee
  • boomerang
  • sleeping pad
  • tent
That was it! I suggested to him that he might want to consider a sleeping bag and a change of clothing...

Monday, May 9, 2011


The only job that doesn't come with sick days...

Which explains why, on a day when I felt badly enough in the morning to stay home from my paid job (stupid sinus infection!), I'm doing dishes and laundry, driving carpool, organizing the backstage crew for B's ballet school, and filling out a million forms for M's Boy Scout trip this weekend.

Thank goodness for DH, the best hubby in the world, who made french toast and drove the morning carpool while I slept in. (This despite the fact I'm sure I kept him up late last night with my coughing.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

For the first time in a couple of years, DH was home on Mother's Day. This meant that in addition to the lovely kid-cooked breakfast (this year was a scramble with eggs, sausage, ham, mushrooms, and onions), someone else did the dishes! And I got some lovely flowers :-)

This was the last day on the calendar for a while with nothing scheduled, so I spent several hours playing Lego Indiana Jones with B, then we had Chinese takeout for dinner.

Onward to performance week! Two dress rehearsals this week (actually four, but they all overlap, so I can only attend two), then three concerts this weekend.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


What ever happened to Saturdays being a day off? (I guess that changes when you have kids.) Today I spent three hours driving three girls to and from the CMEA choir festival (and listening to the performance), then spent 2.5 hours observing ballet rehearsal (making a chart so that the stage managers know which kids are supposed to be where).

Fortunately, the evening was much more relaxing. DH had a delicious dinner waiting when I got home, and I spent over an hour playing Lego Indiana Jones with B.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

It's been a long time since I last stayed up all night :-) I couldn't convince anyone else in my family to join me in watching the royal wedding tonight, so here I am watching TV, with both and Facebook open on my computer. I have a cup of hot tea and a space heater (we turn the heat down at night to save energy), and I had my son show me how to operate the TV before he went to bed.

I remember being at camp when Charles and Diana were married, and I was very disappointed to miss the wedding. (Of course, even if I had been at home, I'm not so sure my mom would have approved of me staying up all night to watch it!)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ease On Down the Road

Current mental soundtrack: "Brand New Day" from The Wiz

Two dress rehearsals and six shows this week: M was at every single one of them, while B and I only worked half of them (plus attending one show each). I was on backstage duty: opening and closing the back and wing curtains, helping move set pieces, and being part of the balloon-wrestling team. (One show there were six people trying to get that balloon to glide off the stage--it kept getting stuck on everything possible! By the last show, we managed it with only three people.)

M at the light board (poor kid saw the show EIGHT times this week!)
B was cast as part of the Yellow Brick Road, and also as a Winkie. Lots of dancing, a little bit of singing, and a lot of fun! We were not permitted to take photos during the shows, but here are some before and after show photos:

L (crow) and B (Yellow Brick Road)

L (Addaperle), B (brick), and M

L (Addaperle), L (crow), and B (brick)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Venetian Birthday

B's birthday-party theme this year was "Birthday in Venice." She had seven friends at her party (two more were out of town and couldn't make it). 

The cake

Vanilla with lemon filling and buttercream underneath rolled fondant

The Carnival masks:

We spray-painted paper-mache masks gold and glossy white, then set the girls loose with feathers, sequins, glitter, paint, and glue guns

The gondola races:
The birthday girl
The two teams (each girl had to put on a gondolier hat, striped shirt, black pants, red sash, and enormous black shoes, then race to the other end of the room and back while carrying a cardboard "gondola."

Another successful party, although I'm sure we're going to be finding feathers and glitter in random places for weeks.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Birthday + Birthday Weekend for B

B and a couple of her friends are having a busy weekend: L's birthday party was this evening, and B's party will be tomorrow afternoon. The guest lists are not identical, but four of the girls are attending both parties (two others were invited to both but out of town for the weekend). So far today, I've baked three loaves of banana bread, made lemon filling, baked a cake (from a mix), made buttercream frosting, filled and iced the cake, and decorated it with fondant. (Photos tomorrow). I also cut two gondolas out of cardboard, and I'm now trying to get up enough energy to do what I think is my fourth load of hand-wash dishes (the dishwasher has also been run twice, and needs emptying again).

Oh, and in between stages of cake decorating, I rescued our dog (DH took Coda on a hike which turned out to be much longer than anticipated, and our poor couch-potato dog needed a ride back to the starting point), cleaned the bathrooms, did some laundry, and went out for dinner with DH.