Sunday, December 5, 2010

May your wishes all come true

Today, Liam inches closer to manhood and a little farther away from boyhood.  I've been racking my brain, trying to think of sage words to offer him on this big 8th birthday.  I can't seem to come up with anything solid, something with meat on its bone that he can relish, understand and most all, not roll his eyes at (yes, he is starting to do this) because his sentimental mom still insists on gushing over him and smothering him with hugs and kisses on his birthday.  Recently, this same boy has told his dad that he doesn't think I should kiss him good-bye when I drop him off at school in the mornings because "what if one of his friends sees?"  Sigh.  Thankfully, hugs are still acceptable.

Flipping through XM radio in Dave's car the other day (we had just dropped him off at SFO airport), I came across the song "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan.  Listening to it, I found myself singing along and at the end of the song, I knew these lyrics were exactly what I had been wanting to say to Liam.  He may not understand them today, but one day, when he hears this song, he'll understand what I was feeling the day he turned eight.
Happy 8th Birthday, Liam!  I will always smother you with hugs and kisses, no matter how it embarrasses you or makes your eyes roll. 

"Forever Young"
by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always 
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others 
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars 
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young.
May you grow up to be righteous 
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth 
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous 
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young.
May your hands always be busy 
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation 
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful 
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Too silly for school

Yep, back to school is here!  Which kid is silliest?
The kindergartner or the second grader?
Fully composed and ready to face the new school year ahead.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This bird can sing

It was quite an evening.  Sure, historically speaking, it had been 44 years since Paul McCartney last performed in San Francisco, and that was way back in 1966 when he played with his little band, the Beatles.  But tonight was magical because while Paul and his band played on, the other 39,999 fans and I forgot about the cold misty drizzly night to embark on a journey of tunes that spanned five decades of rock history.  Three hours of musical enchantment ensued.  And I loved every minute...well, except for the filler stuff from his Wings period, but I will forgive him all the same because I can honestly say I even enjoyed those songs.

Here tonight with Dave and his parents (Dan is the epitome of a true Beatle/Paul fan), sitting center stage and only seven rows back, we experienced together an once-in-a-lifetime moment where parent and child rocked together at a concert by a Beatle!  Let me say it again...Beatle!  Oh my, I was giddy as a school girl because I used to have a crush on Paul and John way back in the late 1970s when I first learned to love and listen to music.  My first favorite songs (which happen to be by the Beatles) were "She Loves You" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."  And now, my life has come full circle sitting in these amazing seats a few yards away from the rock demigod himself.  Don't get me wrong.  I love John Lennon too.  And George Harrison.  And even Ringo (maybe a little less).  But without each one of them, they wouldn't have been the best rock band in the universe. 

Paul is the consummate performer.  This guy has a true gift of making a sea of thousands feel like he is singing to YOU and your few close friends.  He knew when to rock the crowd into a frenzied pace like the pyrotechnics display that ignited "Live and Let Die" or  just the moment to bring us back down like the acoustic "Blackbird" that took my breath away.  I even cried when he sang his tribute song "Here Today" in honor of John Lennon and "Something" for George Harrision.  The next moment, I was jumping out of my seat gleefully singing along to some of my all time favorites "I'm Looking Through You," "Hey Jude," and so many more.  I cannot fully express how overjoyed and fortunate I am to see this amazing performance in my lifetime. This concert may just have ruined me for future concert adventures.

Paul sang these songs tonight:
1. Venus and Mars/Rock Show
2. Jet
3. All My Loving
4. Letting Go
5. Got To Get You Into My Life
6. Highway
7. Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady Jam
8. The Long and Winding Road
9. Nineteen-Hundred and Eighty Five
10. Let 'Em In
11. My Love
12. I'm Looking Through You
13. Two Of Us
14. Blackbird
15. Here Today
16. Dance Tonight
17. Mrs. Vanderbilt
18. San Francisco Bay Blues
19. Eleanor Rigby
20. Something
21. Sing the Changes
22. Band on the Run
23. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
24. Back in the U.S.S.R.
25. I've Got a Feeling
26. Paperback Writer
27. A Day in the Life
28. Give Peace a Chance
29. Let It Be
30. Live and Let Die
31. Hey Jude
Encore 1:
32. Day Tripper
33. Lady Madonna
34. Get Back
Encore 2:
35. Yesterday
36. Helter Skelter
37. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
38. The End

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our house was a very fine house

Dearest One,

We will miss you.  We will miss driving down the artfully tree-lined street of Danada Drive whereupon you live.  We gasped every time at your loveliness.  Your graceful lines and pitched roof will forever be embedded in our memories.  You welcomed us home.  You heard us laugh our loud hiccuping guffaws.  You heard us cry our hyperventilating uncontrollable sobs.  You felt our thunderous sometimes sandy feet running across your floors.  You patiently waited for us to return from short sojourns to the city or week long vacations.  You were there when we brought home our second child.  You rocked her to sleep with your gentle nighttime creaks.  You kept us warm, cool and dry.  You loved us.

Although the miles will keep us apart, please know that we will think of you from time to time.  And as you get to know another family, all we ask is that you remember us occasionally, too.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th in The City

Despite the heavy thick fog that made itself at home over the bay tonight, we were still able to see three firework shows across the bay.  Countless sailboats and yachts filled the bay waiting for pyrotechnics to begin. This year is quite different from the little hometown shows we used to watch from the grassy knoll adjacent to Jefferson Preschool in Wheaton.  This is how The City rolls!  Happy Birthday USA!

Fisherman's Wharf is all lit up (on left) 
while another show from a boat lights up the bay.

My little goblins

Whoa!  That was so cool!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Nobody likes a whiner

I haven't felt much like writing lately.  Sure, I've started some posts but never had the heart to finish them.  When I do, I will love them.  Right now, these half-finished thoughts will remain floating and suspended in  draft space.

Why haven't I written?  Probably because I feel like I can't squeeze anything out.  I can't seem to put together  cohesive and coherent thoughts for all of you (or none of you) to read.  My brain is just tired.  As some may know, we are in the middle of escrow, selling our dear dear home in Chicagoland.  So most of my waking hours are filled with the annoying buzz buzz of thoughts about flying back to Wheaton to pack up the rest of the house...and hiring movers for the second move...and submitting a claim for three golf club sets and bags that were lost (or stolen) in the first move...and hoping that we sufficient funds in the bank so we can bring an awful big sum of money to the table at closing...and hating how we gave away the kid's playset...and taking the kids to piano lessons on time...and trying to smile and have fun with the kids at the pool...and driving Dave to the airport...and picking up Dave from the airport...and bringing in the drycleaning...and getting Dave's dress shoes shined...and making a healthy dinner...and planning my sister's baby shower at the end of July...and planning a portion of the family reunion at the beginning of August...and finding a school for Kimmie...and doing laundry...and feeding the fish...and...and...and...

My brain is mush.

And my eyes hurt a lot lately.  Is it time to change the prescription for my glasses already, even though I got new ones seven months ago?  Or is it just that throbbing headache that likes to creep in at the end of the day, every day?

So, I really have nothing interesting (is it ever) to write about lately, except to whine about my life.  And whine I just did.

I guess I feel a little better.

Yep, that moment is up.  Gotta go feed the kids.  Give them baths.  Put them to bed.  Spend time with my husband.

Hit repeat on the alarm clock, starting bright and early.  Oh, I feel that headache coming on.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day at Fisherman's Wharf

Today, we braved the crowds and ventured out to Fishermans' Wharf.  It was a perfectly bright and beautiful day.  We were all in a grand good mood.
Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday Kimmie

Kimmie woke up this morning, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "Mommy, I don't think my body changed last night even though I'm five now."  Oh, sweet girl, if only you could stay five forever.  We love you so much!

H a P P y   B i R t h D a y   *   H a P P y   B i R t h D a y   *   H a P P y   B i R t h D a y  *

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ecole Notre Dame des Victoires

Mon petit garçon de marin (my little sailor boy)!

Today was Liam's first day at Ecole Notre Dame des Victoires (NDV).  After much deliberation, dissatisfaction and anger towards the SF public school system, we have decided to go private.  In fact, roughly 30 percent of students in San Francisco attend a private institution--the highest percentage of any California county (private school enrollment statewide is 8.5 percent). This high percentage of private school attendance seems to glaringly indicate that the SF public school system is in need of a drastic makeover (I'm not talking just a quick haircut and color, but the whole shebang, like head to toe and inside and out)!

It seems that almost every parent I've come across lately has mostly negative things to say about the city's public schools.  From moms in various SF neighborhoods to even a taxicab driver, they all think that unless you are lucky enough to have a golden lottery ticket to the best public schools, which are virtually impossible to get into, then it is better off to go private, even if you have to pay an arm and a leg (and upwards of $30,000 per year).  The taxicab driver, who has three kids ranging from ages four to ten, opted to pay $14,000 per child annually for private. That took me aback and made me think that the poor guy must be working 2-3 jobs just to pay for schooling. And more power to him! At least he knows what is most important for his kids--education!

At the end of the day, after all the gray-hair and hair-pulling moments trying to figure out what to do about schooling for the kids, we are happy with our decision. Notre Dame des Victoires  seems to be a great little school with a close-knit community of students and parents. I also like that Liam has daily french class (the teacher speaks french the whole time) and other separate (outside homeroom) classes like art, music, sports, and science. Most importantly, Liam seems to like his school.  After school, the first thing he said to me when he came bounding down the steps of NDV was "Mom, I like this school! I do want to go here next year!" How can you beat that? 

Plus, the uniforms are so darn cute! 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Say good-bye to the play set, kids!

Three low-ball offers later, we have finally accepted an offer for our house in Chicagoland. After going back and forth in negotiations, we had to begrudgingly throw in the washer/dryer and brand-new Rainbow Play Systems swing set to sweeten the deal. In today's market, you almost have to give your firstborn child (and the kitchen sink) to entice and satisfy buyers.

I still have mixed emotions about selling the house. I'm mostly angry and depressed because not only are we practically giving the house away but we also gave away the kids' beloved play set to boot! What else in my life is for sale--cheap? It's like someone is hosting a garage sale on my life and everything must go! I sold my car before moving west. I gave away boxes and boxes of toys, clothes, shoes, books, and who knows what else. Now, we're selling the house. A houseful of memories clear as day, with laughter that still rings through its hallways and tears that have stained the carpets. If we hold dear the memories of this house, will this dwelling dwell upon us?

I have become sentimental in my approaching old age.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Miss Kowal's 1st grade class at Madison Elementary

Miss Amy's class at Jefferson Preschool

The public school system in SF makes me want to pull out all my hair.  Little did I know when we moved downtown to the big city that finding a good school for our young children would prove to be impossibly challenging and nerve-racking. My suburbia bubble has definitely popped. In suburbia, if you choose to go the public school route, then the school your child goes to is determined by your neighborhood. Because of this, folks aspire to buy into the best neighborhoods they can afford and thus receive the benefits of such--namely good public schools. Simply put, higher tax dollars in said neighborhoods mean more funds (aka higher expectations) are allotted per child. Expectations of top test scores and a well-rounded education inclusive of sports, art and music. We had all this in the suburbs.

In SF, you might as well throw all the above fantastical/suburbanite notions out the window. SFUSD (San Francisco Unified School District) is based on a lottery system. Meaning it doesn't matter where you live or how much taxes you're pumping into your surrounding neighborhood because chance/luck will play a major role in the school your child will attend. In fact, with one child going into second grade and the other who will enter kindergarten in the upcoming school year, the great lottery system of SFUSD could possibly (and most likely) split up our children and place them in separate schools, across town from each other to boot. The children will be "assigned" to whatever school has an "opening." This information was given to me by a blasé and disinterested counselor at the offices of said school district. 

Staring back at the counselor in disbelief, I gave her a wish list of my seven choices of preferred schools. Turns out the schools on my most wanted list are also the most sought after schools in the district. Indeed my extensive research on helped me to discover the best schools that the city had to offer, except for the fact that every other parent under the sun wanted the same schools! Something like over 1,000 requests for a school with only 66 spots available. Perhaps I can understand why the counselor practically laughed in my face when I gave her my list. She told me bluntly that I was not going to get any of the choices I desired. The few precious "golden ticket" spots had been given out long ago, during the first round of admissions (in early January 2010--before we even knew we were relocating) and that there was a wait list a mile long. Would I want to add my children's name to the wait list, anyway? Um, I guess so. Behind her tight smirk, I know the counselor was roaring with laughter at my naiveté. 

What are parents to do? Parents work hard and harder, continually striving to give the best to their children. All for nought it seems since despite all our premeditated efforts (college education, good jobs, good salary), our very own children may end up in a run-down, low-scoring, concrete-jungle of a school in a bad part of town where education is not the top priority but merely tolerated or considered a daily nuisance? A scary scary place where "No Child Left Behind" is the main mantra because the only children who attend school here are the ones who were left behind, long long ago. Our worst fear. Our worst nightmare.

For the time being, all we can do is wait until the end of this month when we receive a letter announcing the school(s) to which our children will be condemned. Better pull out the checkbook and start considering private schools. Which is another arduous undertaking in itself. Stay tuned...

P.S. In appreciation to the great teachers back in Wheaton (our suburbia), I would like to shout a big THANK YOU to Miss kim kowal at Madison Elementary and Miss amy norton at Jefferson Preschool!  Thank you for showing us what truly good public education SHOULD be and setting prime examples of caring and committed educators.  You are both amazing teachers and will be truly missed!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Zoo by the ocean

Our latest adventure took us to the SF Zoo, right next to the ocean! We ventured out on a sunny and slightly windy Friday afternoon.  The zoo was pretty empty except for school kids on their year-end field trips.  The paths and grounds were beautifully landscaped, allowing us to meander at our own pace enjoying both fauna and flora.