Jul 27 2015

Coyote Hills Hullabaloo



This weekend our scout group hosted a campout for fifty people, including campers from three different regional BPSA groups: the 23rd Oaklanders, the 31st River Valley out of Sacramento, and the 4th Surf City up from Santa Cruz. It was the first time our kids had gotten to see BPSA scouts from other groups—wearing the same uniform, but with different-colored neckers. The big highlight of the weekend for me was watching how quickly the kids from different groups gelled and made friendships. Sam told me once that his best memories from his Boy Scout days were from the big Jamborees, and I feel pretty good about giving the kids in our group that same experience.

We had a great campfire with marshmallows and songs and skits. We had really fun hikes, amazing views, and delicious food—the Timberwolves made us fresh donuts in the morning and they were the best I’ve ever had.


I’m not blogging any of the big group shots because different families have different levels of sensitivity around photo sharing, but it was really awesome to watch three girls studiously building a big campfire or a bunch of older kids taking over the dinner prep jobs. I was also super proud because the dad of one of our families had never been camping before. And he’s African American, so from one of the demographics that’s really under-represented in national parks and outdoor groups (for reasons that become very obvious once you start looking at the shameful history of discrimination on public lands and in the scouting movement). He said it was “much more fun than I expected” and by the end of the weekend he was talking about shopping for a bigger tent! So, that felt pretty good.

We started the Oaklanders just because we wanted our sons to have a traditional scouting experience in an inclusive environment, but after running this group for a year I have realized that the potential impact is actually much greater than just a nice extracurricular for some middle class kids. There are other outdoor-focused youth groups that do great work, but because we are all-volunteer we are able to keep our costs much lower. BPSA scouting really is uniquely accessible, and because of that I think it has the potential to affect whole communities in a broader way. I have started to think that our little group can really contribute something to Oakland. This is not just for my own kids anymore—it feels like it could truly be something bigger.

Sam took this picture, and captioned it “His and Hers”:

his and hers

So I guess this is, like, our thing now? I married a Boy Scout. Sam married a Girl Scout. Now we are both Rover Scouts in the BPSA and so help me, I truly mean it when I hold up those three fingers and promise (on my honor, to do my best) to render service to my country, to help other people at all times, and to obey the Scout Law.

Jul 21 2015

Fae eBook is 99 Cents This Week


The electronic version of the Fae anthology is on sale this week; it’ll be 99 cents until the 29th. The promo image above links to Amazon but you can also buy it at Kobo or directly from the publishers at World Weaver Press. Just wanted to pass that on!

Jul 8 2015


Davy: “Mom, I want to draw something that starts with the letter H. What’s everything that starts with H?”

Me: “Well, H makes a “huh” sound, so think of things that start with “huh.” Horse, hat, house, happy…”

Davy: “Happy! So, I’ll draw us.”

Jul 6 2015

Happy Birthday to Davy

birthday chair

Davy’s five today! He got to sit in the “birthday chair” at his preschool, and on Saturday we celebrated at Children’s Fairyland. Davy’s also being spoiled rotten because he had two sets of grandparents up to visit—and we are looking forward to seeing the third pair soon!

Sol is doing really well too—the cast is slowing him down less and less, and he’s back to his usual cheerful self. So we’re all kind of finding our feet again.

jolly trolly

Jun 30 2015



Sol was a trouper getting the cast put on this morning. The prescription medication works well for managing his pain, and already he seems to be needing it less and less frequently. Yesterday he spent the full day lying listless on the couch, but today he’s insisted on testing the limits of his new (lack of) mobility. He did his best to roll headfirst off the couch, and when we didn’t allow that, he kicked and writhed until we put him on the floor and let him figure out for himself that he can’t walk or crawl. Now he’s working on a kind of half-scoot, half-roll method of locomotion.

Keeping him entertained for the next few weeks is going to be a real challenge. There’s a limit to how many books I can read or clapping games I can play, and he gets bored with TV after about an hour. Blocks are good, catalogs that he can rip to little shreds are good, going for walks with the stroller is good. I’m not opposed to video games but I suspect Sol would destroy something like an iPad in about half an hour; I’m eyeing the new kids’ edition of the Kindle Fire because it comes with a two-year warranty. Anyone want to take bets on how long such a “kid proof” device would last in Sol’s hands?

Because we didn’t have enough going on today, it was also Key Day, the celebration at our preschool for kids like Davy who are moving on to kindergarten. The idea is that they’re each given a ceremonial key to show that they are always welcome back for a visit. Here’s Davy’s key:


It’s a really sweet day. Everyone talks about the special qualities of the kids, and then they walk across a little bridge to mark their transition to elementary school. And then they eat ice cream. Davy was really mostly interested in the ice cream.

Robin got his final report card for the year: it’s Montessori so it’s all touchy-feely and I have to kind of read between the lines, but it seems like he’s doing good in reading but could use more practice in handwriting and math. His teachers wrote: “Robin is a fun loving student and he takes responsibility for his learning each day. This year he has progressed in his focus and has found a balance with his need to be social. Robin has become a self-directed learner…As he continues to strengthen his fine motor skills we look forward to seeing his imagination play out on paper. Robin has made many social connections this year and really enjoys playing with older students. He is working on appropriate boundaries when playing with friends. Robin welcomes leadership roles in groups. Robin continues to cultivate a positive attitude and resilience when faced with disappointment. We have so enjoyed having Robin in class this year and we look forward to his continued progress in the coming year.”

It’s all very California but also, y’know, nice. I’m genuinely glad that the teachers at his school are just as concerned with Robin’s social and emotional development as they are with his academic progress. Next year we’ll see how they cope with Davy!

Jun 29 2015

The Wreckin’ Ball Takes a Fall

Sol broke his leg yesterday. Sam took him to a park while I went with the older boys to see Inside Out (good movie, by the way), and he ran in front of the swings and got hit. We took him to the emergency room where they x-rayed his leg and confirmed the break. They also set it in a splint for us, and we have an appointment early tomorrow morning to get a cast put on. He’ll probably be in the cast for four to six weeks.

I’m trying to tell myself that it’s not the worst thing that could happen, but it feels pretty dire right now. He doesn’t understand, and he’s upset and frustrated. He was also clearly in pain all last night—he kept waking up and crying “ow ow ow.” We got a prescription for pain medication that Sam went out and filled first thing this morning. I just hope it gets easier on him soon.

Jun 21 2015


Yesterday I planted some vegetables in our garden—it’s the first year since Sol was born that I’ve had the time and energy for gardening. Fortunately we live in California so late June is a perfectly reasonable time to start growing some veggies. I put in cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, cilantro, watermelon, and gypsy peppers—all from seedlings—and I planted a sunflower seed. I also put out some pots of mint, basil, and thyme on the front porch. With the new water restrictions I’m only allowed to water the garden twice a week, so we’ll see how everything does. Sam was nice enough to put up some chicken wire to keep the hens out of my garden.

Today is Father’s Day, which has been nice—we went on a hike with our scout group, and we’re getting Sam’s favorite pizza for dinner. I bought him a mechanical (as opposed to battery-powered) watch that’s pretty cool—in fact, now I want one for myself!

Jun 19 2015

The Time I Went to the Sun


Robin’s last day of first grade was last week, so we got to take home a folder of his classroom work from the year, including the picture above. I love it, and I only wish there was more of a story to go along with it.

My favorite material, though, was the “weekend news”—a few sentences that Robin wrote every so often about his weekends. Taken together they make a kind of journal: Life According to Robin. I asked him if I could share the weekend news reports on my blog, and he said yes, so here they are. I’ve tried to put them into chronological order, and I’ve cleaned up the spelling.

“On Sunday a family visit we went to lunch.” (Accompanied by a drawing of a car, a house, and Godzilla.)

“A Sunday I went to Scouts. I had fun. I was with Karen.” (Drawing of people holding hands.)

Undated (but around Thanksgiving)
“I was in Thanksgiving me Dad cut the turkey The End.”

Undated (but around Christmas)
“I went to my Grandparents. I made a book. The End.”

“Over the long weekend I went to Chuck E Cheese. I went with my family. We played arcade games and listened to music. I had a really good time at Chuck E Cheese.” (Many, many, many pictures of a mouse in a tee shirt.)

“Over the weekend I had fun doing stuff. I played video games. It was fun. The End.”

“On Saturday I went to Fairyland. I went with me dad. At Fairyland I learned about the puppets. I got to play with the puppets. After the puppets, I talked with the puppeteers. Before we left I visited the gift shop. I got a puppet fox. I had a really good time.”

“Over the weekend I made puppets. To make puppets we had to go to the craft store. We made test puppets but it was fun. They looked okay. I can’t wait to make the real ones and share them with everyone.” (Drawings of animal heads helpfully labeled “puppets.”)

“On Sunday I ordered a new toy called Lego Cinema Swamp Jump. In the toy there was a fox. I like foxes. I’m waiting for it to arrive. I can’t wait to play with it.” (Drawing of what looks like a bear head wearing a top hat.)

“On Saturday I had Chinese food. It was good food man. I want to have it again, man!”

“On Sunday Pig Rex is good I made him. There was paper. The Pig Rex is a monster. I had my brother’s mask on.” (Drawing of a pig with claws.)

“On Sunday I went to a birthday. Dominic was there, Evie too. It was fun. I played I had a velociraptor.”

“On Saturday I gave my mom a present. She liked it. It was a picture of a bounty hunter.” (Drawing of Bossk from Star Wars.)

It’s just really interesting to see what strikes Robin as notable: new toys, meals at restaurants, visits with family, birthday parties, and things he makes himself. …Sounds like a pretty good year, I guess?

Jun 14 2015

In the Redwoods


We went camping overnight on Saturday—our first camping trip since Sol was born. It went reasonably well, although Sol (who did not see fit to stand still and have his picture taken) seems to be coming down with something. He didn’t really feel well and was pretty crabby, especially at night. He must have woken up crying five times in the night, and although I was able to cuddle and soothe him back to sleep each time, I imagine we weren’t everybody’s favorite camping neighbor that night. (Fortunately we were camping with a group of families from the Peter Pan preschool, so everyone had small children and were pretty used to midnight cries.)

Davy’s surgery has been rescheduled for this Friday, but I think we may have to cancel again, as he’s starting to show signs of the sniffles as well. There’s always some bug going around the preschool—it’s going to be really hard to catch a window where he’s fully free of respiratory issues. At least the hernia isn’t causing him any pain.

Jun 6 2015


It’s my birthday today, and I’m thirty-nine. I have no fear of forty. I expect that every year from here on out will get a little bit easier: we’re still in the trenches with three young boys, but not quite as swamped and stressed and sleep-deprived as we were when Sol was a little baby. I think “it’s downhill from here” in the best of ways—every step a little bit easier, the terrain a bit gentler. Next year Sol starts preschool. It’s only two mornings a week, and since it’s a co-op one of those will be the day I work at the school, but still…I’ll have three hours, once a week, entirely to myself. I haven’t had that for eight years.

And a year after it’ll be two mornings, and then three, and then Sol will start kindergarten, and eventually we’ll get to the point where Sam and I have nothing to do but sit out on the front porch in our rocking chairs, smoking corncob pipes. Every step of that path looks attractive from here.

So that is why I am not afraid of forty. But today I am thirty-nine, and I’m grateful to be celebrating it in a quiet way with my family, the greatest of life’s gifts.