December is almost over. My Christmas decorations are all put away and I am ready for the New Year. Every few days, I see a tweet from Gwen Bell about her Best of 2009 Blog Challenge #best09 and promptly email myself the link, as a to-do. Since I like to procrastinate and do things Right Before They Are Due, I am jumping in....now. Better late than never, right? Here are Days 1-5:
Read all of my #best09 here.
December 1: Trip
Sandwich, Cape Cod, July & August 2009
There were a few great trips in 2009: Jeff and I's 10 year anniversary trip to Oregon, our annual Disneyland trip with friends. But my best trip in 2009 was to Cape Cod. Though it was a husband-less 3 weeks (Jeff had to work, annoyingly), Ben, Lily, Ava and I had the best time with my best friend Jen and with my twin sister Robin. It was a very relaxing three weeks, really the first true vacation I have had in a really, really long time. I did no work, very little stuff online and didn't pressure myself to DO much of anything. I mean, except for take care of the kids (that goes without saying, right?) Robin and I would wake up and say "what should we do today?" We had rules for the kids like: say please and thank you, clean up after yourself and have ice cream every day. I wrote this while I was there...
At the beach cottage I have my own room. It is all mine. Not that I spend a lot of time in it, except for sleeping. But I appreciate just having the space. No one sleeps in there with me. Sometimes one of the kids will tiptoe in during the day, somehow knowing it is sort of of-limits, to help me pick out what to wear for the day, but it never lasts long. They vacate quickly.
At the beach cottage, there are seashell lamps, a mermaid stone, mismatched chairs in shades of ocean and beach, American flags, a "no smoking" sign in a simple wood-carved plaque in beachy colors that blends into the cottage walls.
At the beach cottage, there is noise of the five kids, playing and fighting...and fighting and playing. There is noise of our iPod playlists - Sting, Bebel Gilberto, Jack Johnson - and, sometimes the Grease and Mama Mia soundtracks. There is noise of conversation about life, how to enjoy it, when not to work and what kind of work is the "best fit" for us, about the kids and the funny things they do, the challenges they and we have, their upcoming school year.
At the beach cottage there is a new nighttime routine of wine and chocolate and early bedtime. But before that, at time, there is trashy TV, which we suck down with our wine and chocolate - Big Brother 11 (or whatever number) when we can catch it, otherwise Punk'd, That 70's Show and, once, Dr. Horrible's Sing Alng Blog when nothing was on and we thankfully had the internet to turn to.
At the beach cottage there is less yoga than I though there would be, but also less guilt. At the beach house, there is solace.
December 2 - Restaurant Moment
Sharky's Cantina, Martha's Vineyard, August 2009
This one is also from Cape Cod. It was a horrible day. We had gone to Martha's Vineyard - Robin and I with all 5 kids, no husbands. Sam had a bad burn on his ankle from the previous day during a jogging stroller incident (be careful when putting too many children in a jogging stroller!) and Robin was having a tough time with him (whining and crying All Day). We went on a pedicab ride out to the beach and back. We had ice cream. We tried....but we were honestly ready to throw in the towel and leave. We decided to quickly get something to eat and take the early boat back to the Cape. We went to Sharky's Cantina on a recommendation from the lovely people at Vineyard Pedicab. It is truly amazing what a couple of margaritas, a plate of nachos and some toy sharks will do for a family's mood. It turned into a late night - we got a second wind, bought Black Dog sweatshirts since it has turned cold, rode the carousel (trying to get the brass ring!) and took the night boat back, a beautiful sight. Sharky's truly saved our day and we thank you and your margaritas.
December 3 - Article
How to create your personal manifesto, how to want very little, and the Shriver Report
The article blew me away this year? This is hard. There are so many good ones and I am not that good about using Delicious (I am restarting right now...getting my password reset...right. now.). I am torn between a couple:
- Gwen Bell's How To create your personal manifesto
- David Turnbull's guest post on Zen Habits How to want very little
This year has been for me about getting to the core of what I want to do and a lot of that has to do with letting go of a lot of things, both material and ideal. And not fighting what I naturally gravitate towards. I am finding myself a lot happier at the end of this year that I was at the beginning. Both of these articles have really helped me gain a lot of perspective on life and what I truly want and need. So many more good ones! Delicious is restarted...now!
Also, a series of articles that I read over Thanksgiving after I went to the 2009 California Women's Conference as press for Silicon Valley Moms Group blew me away in so many ways: The Shriver Report. I was amazed by the statistics, the stories, and the impacts that having half of the U.S.'s breadwinners being women is having. Things I learned: Women after not necessarily opting-out, but being forced out of the work place. Companies with women in the board room are more profitable. And work-life balance is a HUGE issue for all of us - not just women, but men. After all, women and men are sharing home duties more than ever. The notion that jobs are designed for people who have no home life (or do have a home life, but have a full-time stay-at-home wife to take care of said home life) makes me appreciate my flexible work, but know that companies (and government and society) has a lot of work to do to deal with this new reality.
December 4 - Book
The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
My mom, my sister Robin and I have all been reading and re-reading The Power of Less by Leo Babauta all year long. The main tenant is focusing on the "essential." I really like Leo's writing style (very simple and easy) and have had many conversations with friends (hi, Jane!) about these ideas. Sometimes my mom and I will take the kids on a day trip to the San Francisco Zoo or the Monterey Bay Aquarium and she'll read me a chapter during the hour or so drive. I think I will be reading this book for years to come.
December 5 - Night Out
There were two nights out that were memorable for me in 2009. The first was the night before BlogHer '09 in Chicago. I was out with my roommates, Carla and Ana. We were at different spots for the beginning of the night. I started out at the Social Luxe Lounge party (a client of mine), then headed over to the Silicon Valley Moms Group party, where I co-hosted with my partner Beth Blecherman. Carla had been at a BlogHer event, she being the official photographer for BlogHer '09. Ana was getting pampered and had a modeling session for a cute LBD. I met Ana at the SV Moms party, then we hooked up with Carla and Chris, a colleague of hers, at the (somewhat crazy) Room 704 party. Funny things were said by Ana ("Are you here for a conference?"), I was honored to pose for a photo with the Clever Girls Collective founders (a client of mine), we drank some apple martinis, we decided to head out on a tour of Chicago led by Chris. First up was the Chicago theWit beautiful rooftop bar - $32 for 4 kamikazes?....Ok! Then we went...somewhere else and...somewhere else. We danced and danced and danced and....I fell into a champagne ice bucket. Don't worry, my iPhone in my back pocked was perfectly fine. Whew! Carla did tease me about it for the rest of the trip (well, really, to this day she brings it up...), but no matter. It was so fun and I will always remember that night as one of the best nights out ever. Great ladies, a fun tour guide, beautiful views of a city that I had only been to once before, losing ourselves in dancing...embarrassing moments...ahh....
The second night out from 2009 that was so much fun was a girls night out with my best friend Jen right before she moved away to Cape Cod. Jen and I have danced the night away many a night (we have known each other for almost 20 years, since we met as sophomores in college), but this night all the cards aligned to make it a perfect going away/not going away party (we were not allowed to be sad or say the words "going away" the entire night, otherwise she threatened to leave). Present were other friends Laura and Marya and Jen's sister Christy. The V Bar in Santana Row kicked us off (no, we did not order 5 chocolate cakes like birthday cakes, we ordered 5 chocolate cakes like the shot!), then we crashed a 70's/80's party next door (Marya has a way of acting like she belongs places and making fast friends) where we danced to Journey and made fun of older ladies in go-go boots (we really should have been embarrassed to be there, but we hung in there). When that party ended, it was time for Rosie McCann's, where there was a long line, but Jen batted her eyelashes and got us a jump pass. There, we danced and danced and danced. It was 3am by the time we got home. Truly, a night to remember.