This is how Karis dressed herself to go to the park. Soccer shirt, high heels, short skirt, purse, glasses, microphone, backpack. She contains multitudes. India and I had a chance to see Mama Mia at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. I was raised on Abba so this is one of my favorite shows, and it was so fun to take India for the first time. She loved it. We’ve been listening to it ever since. And watching the mom sing “Slipping Through my Fingers” with her tucked under my arm might have put me into the ugly cry. We also went to Bubblefest at the Discovery Science Center. I posted about that here but forgot to include the picture of all four of them in a bubble. I cannot keep this kid in books! He plowed through all of the Diary of the Wimpy Kid alternatives, and then through every Rick Riordian series, and finally a teacher friend recommended the Alex Rider series, which he is loving. Our friends Matthew and Jessica were in town this week, so we had our mutual friends Chad and Sarah over for dinner. Making pizza is our new thing. Just like the Oscars except really not at all. We tried to get a picture of all of our kids together and our boys decided that was a good time to give an armpit fart concert. This is what life is like around here, 95% of the time. On Thursday I flew out to New York to see my nephew in a play. I flew in around 5pm and out the next morning, so we hit the town after the show and ate All Of The Things. I’m still recovering. Austin is a musical theater major at NYU. This was also my undergrad major, so I am living vicariously through him. So fun watching he and his friends put on a show, and it made me miss those days. It also made me marvel that not everyone’s college experience involves singing and dancing onstage with your classmates. I’m glad mine did, even if I now have a completely useless degree. From New York, I flew to San Antonio, where I visited the test track for Continental Tires. I’ve never really been a car person so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as it turns out I HAD A BLAST. More on that later, but here’s a preview: While I was gone, Mark decided to take the kids on a little adventure over the weekend. They visited Lake Havasu. They saw a drive-in movie. They stopped at Calico, a ghost town, and got to be part of an old-timey magic show. They also got thrown in jail. And visited a school. To everyone’s disappointment, the ghost town did NOT actually contain any ghosts. I got back from San Antonio bearing the requisite souvenirs. I got the girls some Alamo crackers but Jafta and Kembe got BBQ larvae and a cricket lollipop. They were thrilled. Yesterday, we took the kids to the Imaginology event at the Orange County Fairgrounds, which was an exposition of science, math, and technology. In keeping with their love of gross things: Jafta learned some wood-working skills. India made some crafts. She also played some golf. And they all enjoyed the bounce-houses and food trucks. That was our week!
The kids have been continuing to take music lessons. This week, the boys started learning bass guitar as well as electric. They were pretty excited. And Mark and I were pretty excited to repeatedly quote Paul Rudd’s “slapping the bass” line from I Love You Man. No one in the house appreciated this but we amused ourselves. It’s possible that I made a YouTube playlist of inspiration for Jafta. It’s possible that it’s called Slappin’ Da Bass. It’s possible that it includes Rage Against the Machine and Primus. In addition to guitar, the kids are also doing soccer class with Lil Kickers and loving it. I’ve been continuing to try to get our family eating more plant-based foods. I enlisted India to help me cook a spaghetti squash. She was very enthusiastic until it came time to actually eat it. Still working on that. I have my boys sleep in du-rags at night because it’s a good way to keep the frizz down. The girls are always jealous that they have to sleep capless, and have been begging me for du-rags of their own. In pink. As it turns out, you really can buy ANYTHING on Amazon. On Thursday night, we went up to LA with some friends to attend Sarah Bessey’s book launch for Jesus Feminist. I got to read a segment from the book, which was a huge honor, and then Sarah read a passage herself. It was so amazing to hear her inspiring words in person as she commissioned everyone in the room. If you haven’t yet, you need to get this book. Even Mark is a fan! We took our kids to see The Lion King this weekend. I saw this play before having kids and remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to take my own kids some day. It was a fun dream to fulfill. We went with my friend Jillian and her son, who had seen the show and did the most enthusiastic seat-dancing I have ever seen. So awesome. Pre-show shenanigans. This weekend we also had a potluck for our neighborhood. We’ve done this potluck every year for the last 11 years . . . except we had to skip last year because we were in the midst of moving. The kids look forward to it every year and they were devastated. So it was fun to be able to do it again. Yes, we put the tree up early. I wanted it to feel festive and I’m too lazy to decorate for Thanksgiving. So it’s Christmas. We were talking about how, the first time we had this shin-dig, most of us didn’t even have kids. And now they are almost the size of the adults, and taking over the house. Why yes, I did throw a party and have the children eat in the garage. What of it? It was a fun night of reconnecting and a reminder that we want to be hosting friends in our home more often. It’s one of those things we totally value and rarely do. It was a full week, and we’re looking forward to several more days of celebrating Thanksgiving.
Last weekend I took a little writing/blogging retreat with a couple other bloggers. My friend Tony is an architect, and a few years ago he build a modern retreat in the mountains of Idyllwild. I’ve been wanting to visit but haven’t had the chance, so when we were looking for a spot to stay I suggested it. The place was everything I thought it would be and more . . . Tony did a great job of blending modern lines with a rustic feel. The house is an ideal retreat center – it’s set up to sleep about 20, and has a huge great-room that is perfect for gatherings of any size. This is the view from the living room: These city girls enjoyed watching the sunset over the mountains. If you are ever looking for a retreat center for a large group (or several families) I would definitely recommend this spot! While I was gone, Mark took the kids surfing. Which is the opposite of what I would do if alone with four children. Karis really likes to accessorize. (They are clip-ons. Please don’t yell at me.) It was my friend Sarah’s birthday this week and my friend Heather was in town so we had a fun girl’s night out. Heather spent the night and we spent the next day in our pajamas until 3pm just because we could. It was awesome. The kids have been taking guitar with Dexter Music Academy, and this week they started with drums. Who knew that little sister would be the most enthusiastic on percussion? Related: my neighbors hate me. Kembe had to get stitches a few weeks ago after walking in front of a friend throwing rocks. We’ve been keeping it covered to keep the sun off the scar, and I got sick of the clashing “flesh tone” band-aids on his dark skin. So I went in search of some band-aids for brown skin and lo and behold, they exist! I’m loving these Urban Armour Skin Tone band-aids. As you can see, Karis likes them, too. DIY grillz. You can pin that if you want.
Last week, Karis decided to cut her own bangs. Fortunately it wasn’t so short that it stuck straight up, and with a little creative cutting I managed to even it out into a cute Betty Page ‘do. But it was hard not to smile as I scolded her because she was just so proud of herself.
Tuesdays (and Thursdays) with Karis . . . it’s a lot of tea parties and me being her playmate. Two years in, and she still hasn’t gotten the hang of playing by herself when her siblings are gone. I think it’s a lost cause. Anyone have a 4-year-old they want to drop off with me on those days so I can get back to doing things not involving voicing princesses or ponies?
The kids got a new guitar teacher this week (we’re taking lessons through Dexter Music Academy.) They were very excited . . . so India made this sign to tell the teacher where to go. In case he got lost in our massive house.
The kids are slowly but surely finding their footing with guitar lessons.
India is proud of those hard-earned callouses. I love seeing them get excited about it.
The kids spent the night at grandma’s last weekend – always a treat – and grandma sent me this photo. Ah, the ipod. The great unifier.
I had to take a short trip last weekend, to Camp Mighty, and Mark and the kids decided to join me for the first night. As I was packing, Karis was wheeling a suitcase around the house, pretending to be me going on a work trip. I asked her what one does on a “work trip”, and she said, “You go in the hot tub and then you sleep a lot.” I am so glad she understands.
This is the face Karis makes when Mark and I sign Jesus Christ Superstar at the top of our lungs on the way to Palm Springs.
Camp Mighty was at the Ace Hotel, and while I’ve been there before it was the first time with the kids. They loved the campy vibe.
We had a little slumber party with my friend Maggie’s adorable son, and upon his arrival it was discovered that he and India brought matching teddy bears. This was THE MOST EXCITING THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO THEM and the point of conversation for a good 30 minutes
Piper Kerman and Larry Smith were two of the keynotes at this year’s Camp Mighty. Piper penned the memoir Orange is the New Black, which the popular Netflix series was based on. I got the chance to have dinner with them on Friday night and they were really smart, fun, relatable, and passionate people. Piper and I have a lot in common (introversion, theater undergrad majors, a fear of the PTA), but I was really struck by her commitment to social justice issues, especially around prison reform. I’m not sure why the criminal justice system has not been more on my radar in terms of social justice, but I learned a lot from her. You can learn more here. (Oh, and unlike the series, the “real life” Larry is not a struggling writer but a quite accomplished writer, editor, and entrepreneur.)
I stole this photo from Laura Mayes. People went all out for the Space Party. I was a scrooge in a black dress because my costume didn’t arrive in time.
There was a photo booth at the space party. These random snapshots may be my favorite family photos ever. The second day, the kids hung by the pool while I was in session. This is Karis, by a pool, holding a brownie in one hand and a cookie in the other. A.K.A. her Happy Place. Mark and the kids went home and then Sarah joined me for the rest of the weekend. We ordered dessert from room service that arrived just as that “What’s Your Excuse?” mom was being highlighted on the news. I don’t think she approves of us. And I don’t care because cheesecake.
Obligatory “leaving Palm Springs windmill shot.” You have to do it.
It was “crazy hair day” at the kids school this week, and I have to say, I’m quite proud of this creation. Kembe begs for a mohawk constantly and he was absolutely thrilled with the height. He asked to keep it like that forever, but not all dreams can come true.Oh, did I mention Kembe got hit in the head with a rock at school and had to get stitches? After all the daredevil, trying-to-skateboard-off-the-roof type stunts this kid pulls on the regular, I can’t believe it was a rock that actually landed him in the ER.
The kids are taking weekly soccer lessons at Lil Kickers (I highly recommend this program, and not just because there are no Saturday games involved, although that is a BIG BONUS.) Gotta love a coach who dresses as a Dodger Dog in a full blue unitard.
The kids had picture day this week. I asked the boys to show me how they smiled when the got home from school. So natural! Can’t wait to see these.
Look, some nights I am lazy and we can feed a family of 6 at Del Taco for $11. Don’t judge me.
Karis is moving Kembe’s mouth to make him talk. Little sisters . . . they can get away with anything.
Karis took a little break from ballet over the summer and she is loving being back.
New family goal: learning guitar. It’s cute because you can’t hear it.
The kids are also taking soccer this year. I found a place that holds classes at the same time for all four kids called Lil Kickers. Great soccer instruction, no Saturday games, and all four lessons at the same time at one indoor location. Score!
The girls were ambivalent until they learned that new shirts were involved, and now they are excited.
We’ve been having a heat wave this month, so naturally Jafta decided to wear his fleece footie pajamas.
The twins had their birthday this week. India took it upon herself to fill out and address all her birthday invites. Glory.
We went from heat wave to rain in a matter of days. Rain is pretty rare in our neck of the woods. Adults forget how to drive, and children dress up to go play in it.
This is what happens when you send money to the school book fair with no restrictions.
And last but not least, I cannot not share this caricature we got at Disneyland. This is supposed to be of Kembe and Jafta. I think it looks like two vaguely familiar adult men that I can’t quite place. Neil Patrick Harris? Brian Stokes Mitchell? Who??