In the state of California,  you are supposed to apply for a new driver’s license within ten days of your arrival.

I arrived 151 days ago.

Every time I would drive past a police officer, I would flinch.  Every time I’d see a California Highway Patrol officer on a motorcycle, I would yell, “ERIK ESTRADA!”  And then I’d flinch.

I was so afraid I’d be stopped and they’d ask for identification and I’d have to hand over my Washington driver’s license and then I’d be arrested and land in the jail just to make an example of me for all over recent California residents.

My husband told me I should make an appointment at the DMV to take the driving test.  I agreed.  And then I failed to make an appointment time and time again.

Last week, though, I went online and scheduled an appointment for Monday morning.  Yesterday morning.

I arrived at the DMV at the appointed hour to find a line of people outside of the building.  What?  It was like Target the night before Black Friday.

Once inside the building I was able to go to the front of the line marked, “LINE FOR APPOINTMENTS.”  I had my Washington license with me along with a folder of documents:  birth certificate, HOA bill (proving residency), proof of insurance, car registration.

I filled out a form.  Waited a bit.  Then I went to another window when my number was called.  The woman asked for my documents.  She glanced at them, flipped my birth certificate over and said, “Do you have your marriage certificate showing your name?”



I waved my HOA statement showing my name at her.  I showed my driver’s license.  I immediately became fed up when she told me I would have to come back again.  I wanted to fall to the floor in a tantrum like a two year old.  I wanted to spit.

After working until 1 a.m., I had studied the driver’s handbook until 2 a.m.  I woke up early, took a shower, carefully styled my hair, applied my make-up with more care than usual–all because I knew I’d be getting a new driver’s license photo.  And now she was telling me I’d have to do it all over again. (Yes, I’m so vain.)


But to my surprise, I was shuffled through the lines.  I had my picture taken, I took the test (I only missed one!) and then I was issued a temporary license with my maiden name on it.  I was told to return the next morning at 9:20 a.m. with my driver’s license.

So I did.  I went to the DMV two days in a row.  This morning I hurried to get dressed.  I barely dried my hair and I certainly did not wear lip-liner.  I had to stand in a line behind nine people.  But finally, finally, finally, I was at the final window where I presented my marriage certificate.

Then the man behind the desk told me that although I’d been photographed the day before, the computer wasn’t cooperative and I needed to get my photo taken again.


“I was a lot cuter yesterday,” I told him.  And I was.  I really, really was. Yesterday I had lips and no crazy hair.

I’ll try again to look more presentable in five years when I do it over again, hopefully in one visit.

Product Review: Apothederm Hydrating Eye Cream

I recently got a mirror that has extreme magnification.  Do you have one like that?

So I am aware of what is happening to my face.  Mainly, wrinkles, sagging and occasionally ( just to remind me what it was like to be a teenager) a blemish.

When the nice people at Mamasource asked if I’d like to try an Apothederm product, I agreed.  I’m always trying to find something that makes me look like I think I look. (Ha ha ha.  Ha.)

Apothoderm has a line of anti-aging products.  Check them out, if you’re so inclined.

I tried the Hydrating Eye Cream, which is said to moisturize the “delicate area around the eyes, providing nourishing hydration.”

To create a scientific-sort of experiment, I used it only under my left eye.  And . . . I only used it once a day.  You’re supposed to apply it twice a day but I am just not that organized.

I really did like the cream.  It easily absorbed into the skin and my eye area did seem to appear more hydrated.

But here’s the thing.  I didn’t really think it minimized eye-area puffiness (I don’t have much) or dark circles (I’ve always had dark circles under my eyes).  So I can’t recommend it for any miraculous results. Perhaps my expectations are too high!  But I do plan to use it until it’s gone because I liked it that much.  And I’m using it on both eyes now!

If you are looking for a nice eye cream that feels smooth and does not have any noticeable scent, this would be a good one.  And you can even get a discount using the code TENOFF.  You will receive $10 any product at (expires 12/31/11).

I really wish I’d tried the Firming Serum because doesn’t that seem like it would be awesome?

World Prematurity Day, RSV and you

My twins were born nine weeks before their due date . . . a scary thing when you understand the risks prematurity brings with it.  One of the scariest is the seasonal virus called RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) which is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the United States.  The RSV “season” has already started and will run until about March, depending on your region.

My twins were lucky–they were born in April and managed to avoid catching RSV.

My next son, however, was born in February–just as the twins were coughing and sneezing and generally sharing all kinds of germs with my newborn baby and me.

I was terrified when my three-week old baby began to show symptoms of a respiratory illness.  I rushed to the doctor who examined him and told me he might have RSV.  It’s hard to tell for sure if an illness is RSV at first since the symptoms are similar to the common cold.  In older children and adults, it runs its course much as a common cold does.

However, in babies younger than age two, RSV can lead to a very serious illness, leading to hospitalization.  In my case, my baby turned out to have bronchiolitis, and recovered fairly easily.  Still, it was really scary.  Find out all about RSV Protection and your baby’s risk here.

Here are some things you should know about premature babies and RSV:

RSV Quick Facts:

  • RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • Certain regions have longer RSV seasons than others, with the season beginning as early as July (e.g., Florida) or ending in April.
  • Despite its prevalence, one-third of mothers have never heard of RSV.

Prevention is Key:

There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take the following preventive steps to help protect their child:

  • Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
  • Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid large crowds and people who may be sick
  • Never let anyone smoke near your baby
  • Speak with your child’s doctor if you believe he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available

Be Aware of Symptoms:

Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  • High fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty feeding

* * *

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

What I meant to say

Over a week ago, I came home from my daughter’s soccer game to find my husband just waking up from a nap. He’d been with my son at his football game while I was at the soccer game (and subsequent after-soccer activities).

My husband and I were lounging around, catching up on the day’s events when our daughter came into the room and said, “Why is Zach making that funny noise?” Then she demonstrated the sound of someone sobbing.

I went into our 13-year old son’s room to find him weeping, face red and covered by a damp blanket. His ankle hurt. One of his teammates collided with Zach’s ankle during a tackle. After limping to the van and then into the house, he took a shower and went on the computer when his ankle started to hurt more and more–so he went to his room and sobbed for two hours without notifying anyone at all about his pain level.

Immediately, our evening turned from leisurely television watching and chatting into an urgent situation, requiring us to locate an Urgent Care and find out what our insurance would cover. Only a minimum amount of parental bickering occurred which caused me to be so frazzled that I forgot my iPhone at home. Alas.

I ended up being the one to drive Zach to an Urgent Cafe in San Diego–the local Urgent Care offices that our insurance covers seemed to all have closed at 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon.

We drove 40 minutes to San Diego and followed the GPS-voice to the correct location. But the doors to the building were locked. I was so puzzled. Zach said, “You can call . . .” and I said, “Well, I could if I hadn’t forgotten my phone.”

It’s amazing how weird it seems to be without a cell phone. How did previous generations survive without cell phones?

After driving around the parking lot and punching futile word-combinations into the GPS, Zach said, “By the door there was this thing so you could call.” Oh. One of those things.

So I went back up to the door and punched in the numbers and a voice said he’d come and let us into the building.

It was odd.

Even though the waiting room was deserted and the hallways were empty except for a cleaning guy, our evening in the Urgent Care dragged on and on. The doctor had to call in the x-ray technician . . . by the time it was all said and done–at 10:30 p.m.–Zach was wearing a temporary cast because the doctor wasn’t sure if the ankle was fractured or not. (We found out on Monday that it was not fractured and then I hacked off the cast with old dull garden clippers.)

While in the waiting room and while waiting in the exam room, I read old magazines–a National Geographic from 2004, for instance, and lamented the fact that I’d forgotten my phone. It was so boring that by the end of the evening I was pilfering items from the exam room much to my son’s shock and horror. Latex gloves, for example, and a tongue depressor which is still in my purse. (I should not admit that.)

I did ask the doctor if I could keep the ice pack and he said yes, so the next time someone injured something in our house, I am all prepared even though I am still not sure if there is a closer Urgent Care facility located near my house that is open on weekends.

And that is what I did on the last Saturday night of October.

Book Review: I Am Hutterite The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to reclaim Her Heritage By Mary-Ann Kirkby

I Am Hutterite The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to reclaim Her Heritage

By Mary-Ann Kirkby


Long ago, I received a copy of this book to review.  And the email accompanying the book has been sitting in my email box ever since as a reminder that I need to write the review.

It is the oldest email in my box.

I really loved this book.  In fact, I gave it to someone else long ago, which is the ultimate recommendation I give.  (If I don’t like a book, I will not pass it along.)

I Am Hutterite is a memoir (my favorite kind of non-fiction).  It’s the true story of the author’s seemingly idyllic life growing up in a Hutterite colony  in Canada.  (The Hutterites are similar to the Amish in that they are a religious group that live together in community, shunning the outside world.)

When the author was ten, her parents made the decision to leave the colony.  As you can imagine, this was a major adjustment to the whole family.  The family’s adjustment to life outside the colony is as interesting as the description of life inside the colony.

I admit that I don’t remember all the details now, but I do remember admiring the writing and reading the book with rapt attention.  I learned so much–I had never even heard of the Hutterites before–and found the real-life story fascinating.

I’ve long had an interest in the Amish–ever since I had an Amish midwife care for me during my first pregnancy and attend my birth.  (I even went to the Amish midwife’s home for prenatal care and ate a meal there.)  The Hutterites seem similar to the Amish, so the glimpse into their closed community was amazing.

Anyway, so I liked the book and recommend it.  You can purchase it from Amazon for only $8.00 at the moment!  I’d loan you my copy but it’s long gone!

* * *

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I’m not the mom I thought I’d be

The only time I’ve been really 100% sure I was an excellent mother was before I had any children.  Back then, I had absolutely no doubt, only supreme confidence in my innate ability to win the whole Motherhood Contest.  (Because it’s a contest, right?  Like a pageant only without the swimwear competition?)

On Sunday, I took my daughter to a birthday party.  We are acquainted with a pretty wide circle of people in our new area and this particular woman brought her 9-year old to my daughter’s impromptu birthday dinner back in September.  She returned the favor and invited us to her daughter’s party.

I dropped off my daughter, then returned an hour later.  When I returned, I walked past the bouncy house and slide crowding the driveway and walked through the open front door.  I found my daughter holding someone’s baby–she loves babies–and so I sat down and began chatting with another mom who was a complete stranger to me.

I began to look around and found that I was sitting in a room that was probably once a dining room but had been turned into a homeschooling room. The cursive alphabet bordered the top of the wall.  Scientific terms and maps and all sorts of school-related items were tacked to the walls which appeared to be covered in some kind of fancy bulletin board material (floor to ceiling).

My daughter does school at home, you know, through a charter school.  My twins are doing homeschool for their last year of high school.  And I don’t have anything school-related tacked to any wall in my house.  I don’t even have a bulletin board.

(I have a fancy pencil sharpener, though.  And ten packs of Crayola markers.)

I sat there feeling like such a failure as a homeschooling mom.  I’m just winging it as I go along.  We fit school into the nooks and crannies of our days.  I feel like an utter failure.

Even worse?  Today, my daughter had a Costco frozen yogurt for lunch.  I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t fed her an actual lunch until my husband called me from soccer practice to ask me what she had for lunch. That’s all she had.  Frozen yogurt.  (Please, fire me.  I deserve it.)

I recently read a blog post by the most delightful adoptive mother of many who homeschools and my heart just sank when I read about her systems and her order and her attitude and her children.  Why can’t I be like that?  Why can’t I try to be like that?  Why can’t I line my ducks up and make them swim in an orderly fashion? Am I just that lazy?  That ill-equipped?

I read on Facebook about other people’s kids volunteering and applying to colleges and and I do this horrible thing that I hate . . . I compare my kids.  That’s the worst thing ever.

I kind of wish I could go back to those days of dreaming about a velvety baby cheek, confident in my ability to raise SuperKids.  Being a mom was a whole lot easier in my imagination.  Then again, imaginary kids don’t ask for hugs or . . . money.  (Wait.  What?)


Saturday night live

Tonight, a brave older couple invited our whole family to their house for dinner.  She prepared meatloaf and twice-baked potatoes and corn–what a perfect meal for a family that includes three teenage boys–and then we all made our own ice cream sundaes.

Grace was delighted to feed their beagle Cheerios when the cute dog did tricks.

At the invitation of the gracious hostess–a former piano teacher–our guitar-playing son pulled out his guitar and wowed us with his fast finger picking.  Our piano-playing son played a rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” and sang along.  The former piano teacher taught Grace a quick duet on the piano and they played together.

Not to be outdone, our non-musical son proclaimed his complete mastery of the recorder.  Not to be outsmarted, the host and hostess pulled out a plastic box containing a recorder.  The non-musical boy made a great production of preparing to play his instrument, including posing for pictures and proclaiming his own greatness.

Then he played a heartwrenchingly awful tune–I think it may have been Hot Cross Buns–and fell to his knees in a great show of emotion.

And we laughed, which only encourages him.  There is a reason this kid was nominated Class Clown in the school he’s only been attending for two months.

Funny boy.

Free time. Ha ha. Ha.

My desk reflects the busy week.  It’s a haphazard jumble of paper stacks the used to make sense and random items that don’t belong to me including a broken cell phone and a Hello Kitty bracelet.

At least I unearthed the checkbook.

Last weekend (Thursday to Monday) a few relatives were here for a visit, so prior to Thursday was devoted to getting ready for company (even though they stayed in a hotel) while still keeping my regular plates spinning. Just one of my many party tricks!

And since they left, it’s just been busy.

If we aren’t driving kids to music lessons, we’re sitting on a field somewhere watching practice or a game.  We’re in meetings, coordinating schedules and working far too many hours.

My biggest achievement this week was ordering two cell phones to replace two broken phones (one due to overuse and one due to an encounter with the washing machine).  I spent an afternoon on the phone getting that arranged and I only wish I were exaggerating.  I spoke to four different people in three different departments.

But hey!  It’s Friday night!  Work’s done for the week and I get to sleep in tomorrow.  The weather is supposed to be lovely, as usual, and someone else is cooking dinner tomorrow night.  Grace has a soccer game tomorrow afternoon and a birthday party on Sunday.

Now, to sleep to dream about free time.

Uncreative title on a Saturday night

We have out-of-town, in-from-Texas relatives visiting this weekend.

We dragged them all to watch Grace’s soccer game today.  We insisted that they stand on the beach and watch the sunset the other night.

Watching the Show

The womenfolk went shopping at the local outlet mall this afternoon while the menfolk cooked.

My husband (aka Tom Sawyer) managed to get the menfolk to cook dinner last night and tonight . . . which has involved a lot of meat, a lot of butter and some mustard greens.  And cornbread and sweet tea.

Even though they arrived on Thursday night, Grace and I still went to the San Diego Zoo Friday morning on a school field trip.  We did invite the relatives to join us, but they declined.  Nevertheless, Grace and I had a great time at the zoo and look forward to visiting it again.

We want to see this little guy again:

So, that’s how it’s been going.

Hope your weekend is going well!

Want some banana pudding that Grandpa made?  He used almost a cup of butter in the pudding alone . . .







(You don’t even want to know what we caught the tortoises doing . . . but if Grace asks, just tell her that tortoises OFTEN give each other piggy-back rides.)

This one is for you

So, one of my Facebook friends asked me, “Are you ever going to blog again?”

Has it really been that long? Well, here you go. I’m blogging.

I’m recovering from the World’s Worst Cold. I’ve been sick for a whole week now, gradually getting better. Everyone in our household has been sick except for my husband. He seems somewhat smug about avoiding the World’s Worst Cold. I hope he doesn’t get it because I will have to raise my left eyebrow at his smugness if he does start sneezing and coughing. And that just wouldn’t be very nice.

My daughter brought me a plastic sandwich bag tonight. It contains her tooth and the label, “Grace’s tooth.” She got tired of waiting for me to remember to do the Tooth Fairy duties and just asked me for the cash outright. That child makes me laugh.

I gave her a total of $1.10 in coins. Basically, all the coins in my purse except for the pennies.

Last week I took eight hours off from work. I’d originally intended to organize my garage, but instead I was sick. So I napped as much as I could. Waste of time!

And why am I concerned about my unpacked garage at this late date? Well, my in-laws are coming to town! And they must not be allowed to see the haphazard garage. So, I think I will block the doorway with laundry baskets. Except they probably should also not be allowed to see dirty laundry. Or the baskets that contain it.

On Sunday, we went to the beach where I managed to get my shins sunburned. My daughter found an unbroken sand dollar and I had a nice time visiting with a couple other moms. While we sat watching the sparkling blue ocean, dolphins danced through the waves. All in all, a pretty fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon in October especially since the kids were not swept away in a rip tide or snacked on by a shark.

Last Saturday was our neighborhood garage sale. And there I experienced my greatest frustration of the week when I spotted a patio table and chairs . . . literally seconds after some other guy spotted them. The set did not have a price tag, so I followed that other guy to the garage where I overhead him ask the price. How much? Thirty-five dollars! I was prepared to pay up to $100! The other guy said, “Would you take thirty?” and the garage sale guy said, “Okay.” I resisted the urge to walk up to the seller and say, “I would have given you fifty!”

But awhile later, I came across a new-looking white IKEA desk for $25. (Originally purchased for $200, the owner told me.) So I felt a little better about coming home without a patio table. I’d wanted to find a desk for my son.

In other news, my son pulled on his window blinds so hard the bracket broke and the blinds came tumbling down. Why? WHY? WHY?!!

Okay, so there you go. This one was for you, Kris. :)

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