A Year In Mill Valley

Archive for August, 2007

You Know You’re A Mom When…

Rachel called at 11:45, “I’m going by Cafe Trieste, see you in 3 minutes.” “Ok” I said, “I’ll be outside.”

Rachel stopped in front of work, and dropped off Sebastian for me to take care of while she went to the dentist. I opened the door, helped Sebastian out of the car, took the bag with her computer and a Stuart Little movie, and slid the door shut. I stuck my head in the front window to chat, and she laughed, “You know, I haven’t been away from the two of them, and by myself for over a month!”. “I know” I replied. “Sad really, when I have to go to the dentist to have my teeth drilled to get a little time by myself.”

“Right” I smiled, “enjoy it while you got it! See you in an hour and a half.”

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Oat Meal and Boiled Park

You know those times when you look at each other and say “Oh my God, we have to remember that!”, well, Sebastian is still at that age where we look at each other and laugh several times a week (or sometimes several times a day). The times it happens though are getting fewer and farther between now that his teeth have pretty much corrected themselves (he had a binky until about a year ago, which pushed his teeth out a bit, meaning more space for his tongue, which gave him a bit of a lisp…really cute, but thankfully correctable), and so to remember some of our favorite Sebastianisms, we dedicate this blog entry.

Two of our favorites he still says — “Oat Meal Park” and “Boiled Park” — for two of the parks Rachel takes him to on a regular basis (real names are Old Mill Park and Boyle Park).

Here’s a list that we wrote down a year or so ago…and thank God we did because they’re so easy to forget. I suppose someday I’ll go through the video we have and find other examples…but until then, enjoy:

  • me fwying, Michael fwying, John fwying (with arms out running around the room after watching Peter Pan)
  • lickle (for little)
  • airpane me (for Daddy, fly me around the room)
  • get it Debba (for Granny Deborah)
  • Ganny Debba pees (please)
  • bit scaaarrry (when watching TV or video)
  • hebby copter (helicopter)
  • me have it
  • Bubba do it (Bubba was his nickname because he couldn’t say Sebastian, and Bubba, or more properly Ba-Ba, was the closest he could get)
  • wake Peter Pan
  • pees mummy, pees
  • fweetie (for sweetie)
  • amaazing
  • wake me
  • that better
  • oooper (for ???)
  • o-jinj (orange juice or orange color)
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    Rubber Band Around the Family

    I picked Rachel and the boys up at SFO (San Francisco Airport) on Friday mid-afternoon, after they landed from London via Chicago.

    Sebastian, as he is wont to do, fell asleep in the car, and we carefully carried him into his bedroom — he was out for the night. Nathaniel, amazingly enough, stayed up until 8pm, almost 24 hours after getting up at 4:30am in London to catch a cab to the airport.

    The three of us had a quiet dinner that night, and we talked a lot about how hard it had been on all of us to be apart for so long. Both boys had missed Rosie (the dog), Geronimo (the cat), the house, their stuff, and their friends, but they missed me most of all. Sebastian is at an age where he’s closest to mummy (Rachel), but Nathaniel’s reached a point where he has separated a bit from Rachel, and is transferring a lot of his bonding/growing-up energy to me. We talked almost every day by cell phone, and found that calling before dinner time was easier than calling right before they went to bed (somehow it seemed sadder when I called just before bed time, so I got into a habit of talking with them right after I got up in the morning).

    I asked Nathaniel whether he had found the flight to be very long. “No” he said, “and it seemed to get faster after Chicago.” “Really” I said, “I would have thought that would have been the hardest part.” “Oh no” he replied, “it seemed like there was a big rubber band around the plane that kept us moving faster and faster to home.” Tell me more I said. “Well, it seemed like the whole time we were in England there was this big rubber band around the family, and it was stretched really really far, all the way to here, and when we got on the airplane it felt like it was pulling us home, faster.”

    What a nice thought. A big rubber band around the family, stretching, moving, protecting us, keeping us together no matter how far away we are.


    Coaching Soccer in Mill Valley

    One of the things I’ve come to realize about community is that someone has to do the work. Someone needs to plant the flowers. Someone has to pick up the trash. Someone needs to schedule the concerts. And someone has to keep the kids programs running.

    Like so many of these activities it’s the unsung volunteers who make great things happen, and here in Mill Valley it’s no exception. We have a wealth of talent, both parental and kid talent, and the youth sports activities are second to none. Nathaniel has played baseball the last two years — I was assistant coach the first year, and coach last year. Last year he played soccer for the first time, and for some reason I didn’t coach (though looking back I’m not quite sure why).

    This year I have a 20 minute bike commute instead of my previous 1 hour car commute, and it’s relatively easy to get home for an afternoon practice. And so I volunteered to be an assistant soccer coach.

    You have to understand, growing up in Connecticut and Massachusetts my sports were track, cross-country, ice-hockey and sailing, not baseball or soccer. Ok, I played one year of soccer, in 7th grade, but as neither of my parents played (or were particularly sporty except for tennis and sailing), I was completely clueless about how the game worked, until the last game of the season when I got a goal near the end of the game.

    Therefore I hesitated for a second when Urban called and asked if I would step up and take over the coaching position (at the last minute the previous year’s coach couldn’t do it again). But I figured that at this age it’s mostly about getting the kids to understand about positions, about keeping the ball out of their goal, getting it down the field to the other end, and being aggressive enough to actually kick it into the other team’s goal — I mean how hard can it be? And so I said yes.

    Another Dad, Greg Bernier, who just moved his family from Michigan, agreed to be assistant coach. The two of us went to the coaches meeting at the middle school at 11AM. There were about 200 other fathers and mothers there, and as I listened to the head of the organization talk about this year’s program, I looked around and realized what a gift it is to live here in Mill Valley where there are so many people willing to volunteer to make something amazing happen for their children. (I also realized how much I have to learn about soccer).

    As I was scrolling through iPhoto looking for a photo to add to this entry I came across this photo from Nathaniel’s team last season. He had a great time, and a large part of that was due to his coaches Bong and Tom. So thanks Bong. And thanks Tom. Thanks again for giving Nathaniel one of the greatest gifts of all, your time.

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    Blogging Again

    I find the hardest part of writing a blog to be the process of starting it.  

    First there’s all the technical stuff that has to be done to make it work…create dns entries, install the blog software, choose a theme, modify the theme, decide what to do about photos, etc. Then there’s the larger question of can I actually write something interesting to anyone but myself, like, say, my wife and children.   

    But two things happened recently to make me reconsider my two years of non-blogging. First, Rachel and the boys went off to the UK for 3 1/2 weeks, and second, while they were away I re-read a couple of the pieces I’d written in my A Year In Cornwall blog.

    We started our summer vacation this year in Cape Cod, where my family has a beach house, and I have been going since I was four years old. We stopped there for a week, at the same time as my brother and sister and their families, after which Rachel and the boys continued on to London while I flew back to Mill Valley (I started a new job recently and taking a month off after I’d only been there for two months wasn’t really in the cards).

    Having them away for that long was interesting. I don’t think Rachel and I have been apart for more than a week since we’ve had the boys, and their being away made me realize not only how much I missed them, but how empty the house and several great parts of my life are without them. They’re at that age — Nathaniel’s 8, and Sebastian’s 4 — where I still call them my “scrunchy munchy men”. They really are that, and more. They’re fun to be around. They want to hang out with Mom and Dad. They’re learning new stuff by leaps and bounds. And not seeing them for 3 1/2 weeks seemed like an awfully long time (never mind the fact that they seemed to have each grown an inch while I wasn’t looking).

    While they were away I re-read a couple of pieces from A Year In Cornwall, and what struck me was how quickly the emotions of that time returned. Reading about taking Sebastian to see the doctor for a gunky eye, taking Nathaniel to see the bees at Portreath, or visiting Port Isaac for the first time. All those experiences are there for me to recall, and savor, and remember.

    So with a renewed interest in writing about the boys before they get any older, I have decided to keep a diary of this, our third year back in the States. As with my last blog, I want to match words with photos, and this time maybe even with sound and video. While I was scrolling back through photos from the Cape, I kept coming back to a series of photographs of Sebastian and Elizabeth diving into the lake, over and over and over again. I particularly love this photograph, where he is literally throwing himself into the air with every inch of his being. Like him, I want to throw myself into this blog…here’s to hoping it makes a most pleasing splash.

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