Archive for the ‘My life’ category

My Klutz book, String Art, is coming out in two days!

November 21st, 2014

I’m so excited. My first Klutz book is coming out in two days. And I didn’t just edit it—I wrote it! And it’s not just a book, it’s a kit with all the kicky materials, like graphic backing paper and bright colored string, included. I had so much fun working on it with the talented team at Klutz, and the projects are totally hip. Perfect for crafty kids and adults. Please consider ordering a copy or two, and if you like it, saying so on Amazon. Thanks!

good news: “cancer” and community

March 13th, 2012

My niece Elyse does have thyroid cancer. But if  you’re going to have cancer, papillary thyroid cancer is not a bad one to have. Its cure rate is extremely high, and hers was caught early, ironically because she was in a car accident last fall. The head/neck scan fall revealed the tumor, which gave the doctors a baseline from which to monitor its growth.

I’ve been wondering if I am guilty of TMI talking about a family member’s cancer so openly online. But my sister and Elyse are not only comfortable with it but also greatly appreciate the resulting support, coming even from people who have never met them, like my friends. I, too, am very grateful. These connections really are the best part of (virtual) community.

why I cleaned my sister’s bathroom when her kid might have cancer

March 12th, 2012

Me: “Pick me up at baggage claim.”

Kathy, my oldest sister: “Where are you?”

Me: “On a plane. You asked me to come.”

Kathy called me that morning two weeks ago tomorrow in tears, and I arrived from SFO into Omaha just before midnight. (In my family, if someone needs help, five other siblings can potentially be dispatched. I’m freelancing now, so I have the most flexible schedule.)

Kathy is a single working mom with two sets of boy-girl twins, 17 and 20 years old, three of whom have special needs. Her life is like a bad Lifetime Network movie. If I told you all of the things that have happened to her and about her kids’ health issues, you wouldn’t believe it. And she’s toughed it out.

The log that broke her back was the possibility that Elyse, her older daughter might have cancer. We should find out tomorrow.

The poor kid can’t catch a break. Recently, she broke her nose in a car accident and needs to have sinus surgery. She had to quit her job because of too many absences, even though they were all health related. Did I mention a drunk driver ran over her hand in a parking lot? If the ER had a loyalty program, she’d be in the 100K tier.

Elyse has a thyroid tumor, which is very common, especially with women, but hers has grown rapidly and is interfering with eating and breathing. It was some worrisome blood-work results, which could be caused by lymphoma (rare, but it’s Elyse, the statistical anomaly), though, that broke her mom. Hearing the “C” word and your child’s name in the same sentence is enough to send any parent into a tailspin.

When I arrived at her house, I knew Kathy had reached the point that every working mom reaches at some point, where you have to decide not to see the gigantic mess in front of you, which you’re too tired and busy to clean up. Because if you even acknowledged it existed, it would send you over the edge. So you buy new socks when the rest are dirty, add to the piles of papers (each representing an overdue to-do), and overlook what hasn’t made it to the garbage can.

That’s why—in addition to going with Elyse to the ultrasound and the surgeon, and taking my sister out to talk over drinks—I spent the next week cleaning Kathy’s bathroom and bedroom. To give her a sliver of control over her rollercoaster life. Tomorrow morning, when she wakes up, before taking Elyse to the hospital, she won’t trip on the way to the shower, can pull a hair-tie out of the designated drawer, and will choose from clothes on matching hangers, tops sorted first by sleeve length and then by color.

In lieu of having the rhinoplasty originally slated for her spring break, Elyse will have the right side of her thyroid removed and a frozen section biopsied while she’s under. The next steps depend on the pathologist’s ruling: malignant or benign? I can’t control the answer, and neither can my sister. But I can make sure that when Kathy gets home, she can focus on Elyse because there’s a little less chaos in her peripheral vision.

must-visit gift and paper store in Reno carries “my book” for moms-to-be

May 29th, 2011

Thanks to Ali Z at Designalicious I discovered the Reno, Nevada, city guide at Design Sponge. Thanks to the Design Sponge guide I discovered The Paper Moon, a well-curated paper and gift store with lots of fun girly stuff—all with a distinct design point of view that I loved.

Thanks to the the Paper Moon Facebook page, I got 25 percent off my whole purchase—tie-dyed scarf, patchwork headband, letterpress thank-you notes, glass rings, sticky notes with illustrated stilettos, etc. If you’re in Reno, go visit The Paper Moon. The store is in the shopping center at 550 West Plumb Lane, not far from downtown.

Lesson learned: From now on when I travel, I will check to see if Design Sponge has a city guide for my destination.

A huge thrill for me was seeing that Paper Moon carries my book Parenting magazine’s Pregnancy Planner: Essential Advice for Moms-to-Be, a journal-format book I spent two years editing. (Sorry, the photo I took was too blurry to post.)

Whenever I say a book is “my book,” the inevitable next question, which the lovely store clerk asked: “Did you write it?” The answer is, I’m not the author, but…With the beautifully illustrated books I work on, it’s hard to explain how much creativity and hard work the editorial, design, and production teams invest in a book, how much we collaborate, and how proud we are of the final product. It’s ours. Buy a Pregnancy Planner for an expecting mom, and you’ll see what I mean. And if you’re Reno, you where to find it.

online window shopping detrimental to sleep—and happiness?

January 7th, 2011

This month’s resolution—go to bed at night—seemed straightforward enough. And until last night, lights were out before midnight. Except for the night I fell asleep in Carter’s bed at 7:30 pm (and he moved to the couch because “Mommy was snoring!”), making it to bed by 11 pm has proved elusive.

Too often, I find myself trolling for deals online. And it is about the hunt for the best deal. The adrenaline. The dopamine. I love finding the obscure coupon code that I can combine with free shipping and get something that’s on sale—today only. The problem is I lose track of time. The other problem is, of course, actually spending money on more stuff.

In “But Will It Make You Happy?”—one of those “most-emailed” New York Times articles that I usually read on the train instead of the more important news stories—Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote: Research finds “spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.” But I still like stuff. But I love traveling with the boys, too.

So I’m trying a new strategy (which I’m hoping will take faster than my resolution to go to bed at a decent hour): If I really, really want to buy something, like the Mend Cinch Bag on sale in Target’s Red Hot Shop (thanks, Daily Candy for the tip!) and I talk myself out of it, then I transfer that money into our “travel” savings account. So far this week I’ve resisted the bag and a necklace. Woo hoo.

But, again, last night, I found myself with clearance items sitting in my Canvas shopping cart with the “free shipping” code already entered.

Then I noticed it was half past midnight. I closed my laptop and went to bed.

first New Year’s resolution: go to bed

January 2nd, 2011

A year ago, I resolved to “show up more” (incidentally, one of my favorite blogs). In 2009,, my mantra was, “I’m doing the best I can.” I thought about making this year’s resolution, “Just show up and do the best I can.” Which would work.

Last year was not a great year, so it shouldn’t be hard to improve upon it. However, the last thing I want to do is set myself up for failure by committing to lose weight, do more yoga, eat better, bake more, cook more, play with Carter more, spend more time with Jeff when we’re not planning Carter’s next move, watch less TV, read more books, knit, etc. I already know I should and want do all these things. I just don’t. (“Cognitive dissonance” is a topic for another day.)

Instead of taking it to either extreme—a day at time or a year at a time—I’m going draw my line at a month at a time. It supposedly takes 21 days to make something a habit, so I’m going to commit to one thing each month that’s doable and good for me, and see where it takes me. Probably not to a new me, but maybe I’ll be a little happier, a little healthier, a little more pleasant to be around.

First up: sleep. My January resolution: Go to bed. At night. Not in the early morning hours.

No more late-night blogging, online shopping, housework, paperwork, busywork. Considering how little sleep I usually get (1 am is not an unusual shut-eye time), I’m going to aim for lights out at 11 pm. I’ll report back on how it goes. Please let me know how your 2011 goals go, too.

Sweet dreams, and to all many good nights. Happy New Year.

serendipity, or discovering the Palo Alto Duck Pond at sunset

December 29th, 2010

sunsetPicked up Carter from Kids’ Club yesterday. Missed the recycling center by minutes. Started the ritual driving-by of Palo Alto Airport. Went too far. Entered Baylands Park. Found the Duck Pond. At sunset. Lost track of time. Wish you were here. We will be back.

Carter’s top three reasons for returning: Water. Room to run. Unobstructed views of airplanes and helicopters landing and taking off from Palo Alto Airport.

safety announcement: wear a helmet when ice skating

December 12th, 2010

IMG_1387After being a little angel in the Nutcracker, Carter switched back to ice skating classes on Saturday mornings. (There will be no more double-booking classes on Saturday after the meltdowns that having ballet and soccer on the same day caused.) Today, I skated with him after class.

One girl. Two girl. Carter. Mommy. The dominoes fell, and backwards I went, banging my head on the ice. Carter was fine—he was wearing a helmet—but worried about me. The ice skating equivalent of a lifeguard skated me off the ice and set me up with a bag of frozen peas. I’ll be buying myself a helmet before getting back in the rink.

I have a bit of a lump on my head.

When we got home, Carter sent me straight to bed. Then he brought me a jelly-pan tray of candle-decorated sweets to make me feel better. Embarrassingly not homemade, the mini blueberry muffins and mini angel food cake come from letting Carter loose in Mollie Stone’s the other day. (To his credit, he also filled his child-size shopping cart with broccoli, organic raspberries, and Concord grape, apple, and Odwalla icky-green juices.)

showing up a year after the break-in

October 1st, 2010

Unplanned, unintended hiatus. Months go by without blogging, and here I am showing up finally.

Much has happened. Carter has started kindergarten, rides his bike without training wheels, and lost his first tooth. As the “snack coordinator” for Team Dynamite, I officially become a soccer mom on Saturday.

Saturday is also the one-year anniversary of the break-in. I am not the same, and I am not over it. How sad and annoying is that? I still don’t have a new wedding ring, but a titanium (both nonallergenic and airplane grade, how appropriate) one is on its way.

You know you can get anything on Amazon, except, perhaps, peace of mind.