Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy, New Year

IMG_4943I miss our Christmas tree. We went up to the mountains and the kids picked a perfect one. There was no resisting the opportunity to recreate the photo I took few years back at the same tree farm, so I posed them. The original, though? Not posed. I said, Hey! Lemme take your picture! and then got so much undeserved shade from each one of them.


IMG_5410We had a really great Christmas this year – hosted at our house both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was an awesome blur of cooking and eating and cousins.


I’m mad at myself for not taking enough photos.

A few days after Christmas, my sister’s first baby was born. He is ridiculously cute.


Even (especially?) when he sneezes.

The day he was born I sat next to my sister’s hospital bed and held him for hours while he slept and we talked. It’s been such a long time since my kids were babies; I was a little nervous at first to hold him. It’s different holding a newborn now that my first baby is eighteen and getting ready to start college. I couldn’t help but say that it paradoxically all goes by too fast — eighteen years in an instant made up of so many days where it felt like bedtime would never arrive and the clock dragged through impossibly long afternoons.

Tile crush


Paris Metro 1 terracotta tile from Tabarka Studio 

I can’t remember how I got to the website of the place that makes these tiles, but it’s now open in at least one tab on my different devices that connect to the internet because I cannot stop scrolling through the choices they have and picturing all the different ways I can use them in the house so that I can look at them every day. Like, we need to build some stairs to somewhere so I can put all the different Paris Metro ones on the steps, like this:


And, of course the kitchen:

I’ve decided not to look at how much they cost, because I don’t think this tile fixation is about that kind of reality — it’s just a healthy, terracotta painted in deliciousness, soothing, mental escape, that I want to put on the wall around the fireplace in the living room and on our bathroom floor. And walls. Also, the kitchen backsplash and embedded into the countertops around the kitchen sink. And the entryway floor. OMG.

There’s a showroom near us, in a dog-walking friendly town, so maybe I’ll get Scuba and Ace to go down there with me tomorrow, and maybe they will sell me just one single tile and I can put it on my desk and set my coffee cup on it every morning. It just might change my life.

Day of the FacePaint

Happy Halloween!

A photo posted by Jenifer Monroe (@jenmonroe) on

Willow was having a hard time figuring out what to dress up as this year, so we hopped on Pinterest to find something we could DIY at the last-minute. I’d ordered some very inexpensive basic t-shirts in a few colors for myself a few days before, and the white was like tissue paper and totally see-thru so I happily donated it to her costume. About five bux worth of face paint from Affordable Treasures and that was that.  And, since we had the face paint here, I went ahead and did my own face.  

Face painting #harderthanitlooks

A photo posted by Jenifer Monroe (@jenmonroe) on

After I’d done that, thinking we’d be staying home and handing out candy that night, Scuba was all, Let’s go get tacos! So, I went with him out for tacos with that face on. It was a little weird, and sort of fun, but next time I’m making him dress up, too.

After I voted today

I looked up late this afternoon and saw the moon, almost full and very bright and low and big. A few geese flew across the pink sky far away, above the treeline and just beneath the moon. Probably they were different geese than the ones who live in the parks here all year long. I think those geese just chase little kids and leave the soccer fields covered in poop and get in my way when I try to run on the creek trail through the park. They’re pretty much jerks. With wings.

When I see geese flying like I did tonight, on their way someplace warmer like normal geese, I always think of Houston. Probably that’s not what pops into *your* head when you see geese flying, but maybe that’s just because you weren’t there with me that one time when I stepped out the back door of my dad’s house in Houston just as a very intense formation of geese flew over the roof of the house behind me. I think they were flying north; I don’t imagine that geese would need to fly south from Houston. I bet it was getting warmer back home and they could finally go back. I didn’t know they were there, but we did this seamless, choreographed (though not) thing where I opened and stepped out the door just as the first one flew over and the sound made me look up. I saw them and stopped and they flew over so low, just barely skimming over the top of the house while I was totally still except for my chin tilting up toward them as the last ones in line flew over. It was just a second. I could feel their focus, though. Those geese were serious and determined and headed to a specific place. When we were working with a trainer with Ace, she said when I walked him I needed to be in charge of the walk, and that it would help if I had a picture in my mind of where we were headed. If I thought about that, Ace would sense it and know that we were headed somewhere and that I was in charge. He’d follow me. That’s what that migrating goose vibe was – the dogwalker vibe.

So maybe it was their collective focus down so low close to my head, or maybe it was just that I’d never seen geese so up close before, but something carved those couple of seconds into my memory. It was humid and the sun was going down. It was just a really cool thing to see and to feel.

We spent a lot of time in Houston looking up at the sky. At storm clouds and lightning, at that sun. At the stars. My brother and I used to sometimes lay on the top of our dad’s silver Buick to watch thunderstorms roll in or the sun set. Or we’d lay the lawn chairs in the back yard all the way back to look up at cloud shapes or an electrical storm or fireworks on the Fourth of July. The sky is more of a presence there. More active than it is here in California, at least weather-wise. Like, you wanna keep one eye on it for trouble. But it’s also just thicker and heavier. The humidity sometimes demands your full attention and you can’t help but squint at it convinced that you’ll see the wet fog and clouds that you can feel in your lungs when you breathe.

This year

 The Camera Shop in Santa Fe. They were nice and didn’t rip me off when I needed a new lens cap.

This year I was all, I’m *totally* going to NaBloPoMo it up! So of course November the first comes and goes and blogging doesn’t cross my mind one single time. Whatever. It’s okay. It’s November! Let’s blog (pretty much) every day! Yay!

I’ve been blogging for twelve years, and this is the first time I’ve been tempted to put a photo of my butt on The Internets.

Scuba has been skateboarding since elementary school, and he surfs and used to spend a lot of winter weekends snowboarding, so when he says that the bruise I got on my butt this weekend is the worst bruise he has ever seen on a person, ever, then let’s agree to all agree that it’s an impressive one. He said it looks like I have a big purple kale leaf stuck to my ass.

We took Ace on a five or six mile walk up to Lexington Reservoir Saturday morning before it got too hot. He likes to swim around in the lake, so we walked down the (no longer used as a) boat ramp to the water. The boat ramp is COVERED in gravel that goes from grit-sized up to golfball-sized, and we were both slipping around some, when I fell, hard, onto my backside. Onto a big rock sitting on the cement. I did not cry. Instead I got up and watched our LochNess Retriever swim around.

By the time we got home, I had a pretty good bruise going, but it was nothing compared to how it looked that night. I hiked up my dress to show the girls and Willow was all, ACK! I don’t want to see that! and Sophie was like, SHOW ME AGAIN! THAT IS AMAZING!

Anyway, no photos of my butt today, though I did tell Scuba he should take one close-up enough to not be able to tell what specific body part it was of. He just rolled his eyes at me.

That same night we had Sophie’s 13th birthday party, and I will admit that it was fun. (PROTIP from Scuba: Set up some charging stations if you’re throwing a party for teenagers. They will adore you.)

I love that photo of her with her pile of donuts. Here she is on her first birthday:

And her fourth:

Her sixth:

And her seventh:

We got her a little powder blue Fuji Instax that takes 2″x3″ instant photos. She got it out at the party and took a few shots. She got a really great one of Ace, and it was so fun to watch how happy it made her. I know that feeling very, very well.

The next day, Scuba and I were on our own, so we took Ace to the beach. On the way home Scuba surprised me by stopping in at the Pearson Arrow shop and buying me a fantastically gorgeous new board. I am wholly unworthy of it. Time for me to get more serious about having fun and get my arms in paddling shape.

new board

What makes me happiest about this isn’t the beautiful surfboard – it’s that he wants me to be able to surf with him. That’s the best I love you, ever.

I’m such a sap

My sister got a ridiculously cute puppy.

Tonight at dinner I was so tired. I sat there after everyone got up, just kind of looking at the dishes and trying to do the math of how I could get up and wash them. Scuba did a chunk of them and then I kicked him out of the kitchen since he still had other things to do and he’d already done a ton of stuff in the yard when he came home from work.

Anyway, the kids were in the dining room, all crowded around an iPad, watching a totally inappropriate video and figuring out the dialogue so they could come up with a script and act it out. I didn’t ask them to help me wash up, because they were getting along really well. Before we know, it Lex will be out of the house probably and they will all do so, so many dishes in their lives. So, I kept at it, listening to them, appreciating their togetherness in that moment. When I ran out of room on the counter to put anymore washed dishes, they were winding down, so I made Lex come and dry. He didn’t complain, he never does. He dried all the bowls and put them away, talked to me for a little bit. This is all I need to be happy.

Don’t forget to validate your parking ticket and your parenting style.

This opinion piece that ran in the NY Times a couple of weeks back is so up my alley.

I am not, by nature, much of a punisher or rewarder, which is mostly exhausting, but maybe I am on the right track? At any rate, I’ve read this through two or three times, especially the parts about guilt and shame, modeling generosity, and expressing disappointment rather than using punishments. I don’t have anything to add other than my agreement and the acknowledgement that, YES, it sure does feel great to find examples of some of my (sometimes very unpopular) parenting choices being backed up.

On Saturday, Scuba and his mom and Willow and I went to see the San Jose Giants play.

She made it onto the Jumbotron a couple of times and absolutely went berserk. I had to get out my phone and text her best friend’s mom so she could let her know. Twice.

After the game, which we sadly lost after 11 innings, the littles got to run the bases.

Watching that kiddo have a great time is the best. I get all verclempt and stuff.

Sunday Scuba took his mom and my mom and me out to lunch and the opera for an early Mother’s Day celebration. (On the real Mother’s Day, we have to be at soccer at 8 a.m., and then we are driving 143 miles to take the girls to see five or six bands at the fair in Roseville because it’s close to Sophie’s birthday and her favorite human, Ed Sheeran, is performing. Taking one for the team (the kid portion of our team) this year means that next year I can probably line up breakfast in bed AND some kind of indulgent spa time, right?) Lunch was really good, the opera was even better and not just because I was the youngest woman there. I’m not qualified to bust out an opera review, but I can say that the performers were all really good actors with amazing voices and the sets and costumes were lovely, and the guy who played Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant, was especially funny. I loved it.

Near the theatre parking was $30 for the day, but we went to a garage around the corner charging $5, which is great, because have you ever bought a giant foam finger? Shit sets you back, I’m telling you.

Sweet peas, drought-resistant wildflowers, poppies

These sprouts are growing in an old egg carton in our kitchen windowbox. For the past few mornings I’ve looked at them as I made coffee and cleaned up the breakfast dishes and thought, Okay. Today I’m going to get outside and plant these little guys. And every day for the past few days I haven’t made the time. It’s important, I think, to frame this correctly: I haven’t made the time vs. I don’t have the time. I do have the time to plant these seedlings, to put away the clean laundry stacked up on my dresser, to run to the pharmacy and pick up my medicine. I could be doing any of those things right this very now instead of staying in bed too late this morning with my laptop and coffee, but I have not made the time to do those things – yet.

The difference between the two doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve been really considering how I talk to myself since I’m stuck listening to myself all day, all night. I am, unequivocally, a Very Busy Person, most of the time, but I’m more of a helpless, life is happening to me person if I say I don’t have the time for something. Saying that I’m not making the time gets me out from under the wheel. I’m not really too busy to plant the sprouts – the sprouts just haven’t reached a high enough spot on my priority list.

From last January

You can’t tell from this shot, but there were SO many people at the beach with fancy cameras when I took this photo. Scuba and Ace and I got there in the mid afternoon and before the sun started going down all these people appeared with tripods and Serious Camera Lenses and started setting up, carefully, at the edge of the water in front of the opening in this rock. So, I left our blanket and brought my fancy camera over to see what all the fuss was about. Then the setting sun poured all this liquid gold through the rock and onto the water and the smaller rocks on the beach and the sand and everyone’s skin. And I understood.

Everyone was pretty quiet as the sun set. The ocean is loud at that beach, but other than that it was just the shutters clicking away, some whispering. A few birds. The light was so dense and so there, like it could be gathered up in a jar and saved for later.