Tag Archives: california

a doctor, a preschool, a friend and a whole lot of patience

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When we moved to the Antelope Valley in January, I expected to find all of my resources fairly quickly. A pediatrician I love. A preschool for the boys brimming with laughing children, art projects and books. Neighbors with kids who come over and we sit and drink wine or coffee while they run around the yard.

None of it happened. Turns out, dreamy expectations can disappoint.

In fact, at the first doctor appointment I made for little C. for his 3 year appointment in February, I waited in a tiny, stuffy room filled with coughing kids for TWO HOURS. By the time I saw the doctor, my 7 month old was in hysterics, I was furious, and the doctor was condescending to my boy, asking me, “Can he understand simple instructions?” when little C. didn’t respond to him immediately. I left the office with hungry, weepy kids and I was close to weeping myself.

Then, the first preschool I visited was dirty and dingy and a 4 year old boy was screaming while the teacher looked disheveled and OVER IT. And the school charges $200 per week and I was thinking, “Are you kidding me?”

And all of our neighbors, while mostly kind, are older, their kids are grown and they’re ready to move to escape California taxes in their retirement.

I was depressed over it. I had all three boys in a house that was gutted for renovations, so I had little time for myself and I was struggling to find friends and inspiration. In May, I traveled to the East Coast and said, “I’ll deal with it later.” We were back for a month, and then I traveled to Michigan and said, “I’ll deal with it later.” But I couldn’t put it off, I needed answers — I spent hours on Facebook looking for doctors and preschools and activities and something to make me feel happy about where we live. HOURS.

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Also, the elementary school around the corner doesn’t have the greatest of reputations, so I was back and forth on whether to send big C. there. It’s going through a multi-million renovation, school officials rebranded it, and as of this year, it’s a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) school of choice (lottery).

My mind was in knots and I felt like I really had to work to be patient to figure it all out. I had to find my niche, especially in a largely conservative bedroom community where people aren’t the friendliest.

Everyone says it takes a year to find your groove in a new city. It was true in Albuquerque, and then I was wistful about leaving.

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And now, after 9 months here, I can happily report that everything is starting to fall into place. I’ve found our pediatrician (it’s a 45-minute drive to Valencia, but the office is immaculate, there are separate sick and well waiting rooms, the doctors are kind and smart and the wait is negligible.) After touring six places, I’ve found a preschool (though we’re on the waitlist, I’m hoping to start little C. in January.) Big C. loves school — he’s making friends of all different ethnic and economical backgrounds. It may not be the best school in the world, but at least he’s learning and happy and for now that’s all I care about.

And, most importantly, I may have found a friend who lives — crazy to say — 5 houses away. She has an almost 3 year old and a six year old — perfect ages for my boys. And she’s a former professional dancer who lived in D.C. and NY and whose mom is a professor at the University of Maryland. She showed me a dance that she and her mom choreographed based on German sheet music from the 1920s that’s housed at the university. I left our play date this morning feeling full — finally, FINALLY a friend who’s around the corner.

And A. is almost done with my pottery shop so after a year hiatus, I’m close to reviving that creative energy.

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I may not be in the town I want to live in forever, but I do want to make the most of being here and enjoy the access to the ocean, the California sunshine, a cost of living that allows me to soak in my little guys while they’re little and do pottery and work on my writing. Everything has a positive and a negative side — and right now, I’m practicing gratitude and reminding myself of all of the positives of California living.

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Filed under desert, DIY, family, happy, inspiration, parenting, Uncategorized

back in the california desert in a fixer-upper

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It happened so fast. And then I was in denial. And then I was excited. But by late fall, we found out that we were moving back to the California desert. In January. After only a year and 1/2 in Albuquerque. Just as I had found a community of cool moms.

Then, we decided to buy a house. First-time homebuyers. You know, to make things easy. We were moving to a market that doesn’t have a lot of rentals. We were moving to a market that plans to add a lot of jobs in the next few years. Interest rates were still low. And I wanted a kiln.

So the week after Thanksgiving, we flew to Palmdale with baby L. and left big C. and little C. with my parents. We found a real estate agent and we decided we’d buy a house that week. The first day, we walked into a house the right size for us with vaulted ceilings and lots of light on a corner lot in the right neighborhood. We knew it would need work, but we said what the hell. Let’s do it. We put in an offer, and we closed within 30 days.

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The house, built in 1990, turned out to be more of a fixer-upper than we expected. That first week in town, we stayed in a hotel. We pulled out the carpets; we scrubbed the floors and walls. We demolished the kitchen. We pulled out the bathtub. We laid carpet in the bedrooms. And then we called in A.’s father for emergency help. “We need you,” we said. (And by “we,” I really mean A.)

The second weekend, I drove the boys to my aunt’s and uncle’s house in Atascadero. I teared up when I saw the ocean. It had been a year and a half since I’d seen it — the glorious, vast ocean that makes me feel alive and connected to the earth. And what a year it was — the closest brush I’d ever had with death.

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Now, we’re living in a construction zone. I didn’t enroll the boys in preschool since big C. starts kinder in the fall and it’s our last chance for freedom — to not be bound by a schedule. So they’re adjusting to no schedule and a new space. And I’m adjusting to very little “me” time. But we’re exploring our new town. We met my parents in San Diego last week. We can go anywhere and do anything and it feels good.

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A. rigged up a sink and we bought all new appliances. It’s livable, but a bit cluttered. All I really want to find is my blender so I can make L. varied baby food. He’s living on banana, sweet potato and baby oatmeal lately. But he just turned 7 months so he’ll be OK.

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Dad O. has painted the bedrooms — the boys’ room, the baby’s room, the guest room — and he’s working on the master now. (I had no idea colors were so hard to pick out.)

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We’re slowly unpacking. It sounds hectic. It feels like it should be hard, but since I’m not working, I don’t have much stress. A. is doing the bulk of the work (he’s my hero). I put my Etsy shop on hold till I have the space to throw again. I bought a kiln — it arrived today and it will be a while till I try my first firing. But for now, I’m living in the moment with these boys in our new house that we have yet to call “home.” But we will call it that — soon.

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Filed under desert, moving, parenting, Uncategorized

the california desert in full bloom

Since January, it’s rained a handful of times in the desert. I don’t know how many inches, but enough to make the mountains turn green and to feed the wildflowers so they blossom. It’s radiant here. The birds are singing, the owls are hooting, the lizards are basking in the sun, the flowers are open and full. The air is fresh and crisp. And I’m thankful that we’re experiencing this just as we’re getting ready to make some big life transitions.

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we picked a peck of plump peaches

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Over the weekend, I checked the peaches on our tiny peach tree in our backyard — a tree we didn’t know we had until March when the pits appeared. I felt the fuzzy skin of one that turned a deep red, and it gave a bit under my fingers.

“The peaches are ready!” I yelled to A., who was lounging on the patio.

Except it wasn’t just one or two that were ready — it was 18 succulent California peaches. (The birds pecked five more to their rotting, crumbling deaths.)

A. and I pulled off the peaches dripping with juice, and I excitedly hauled them into the kitchen and boiled half of them so I could slip off the fuzzy skin and freeze the chunks. Then I made a batch of peach butter to enjoy with my homemade bread.

We also ate a few on our road trip to Sequoia National Park, our laps full of paper towels, our fingers sticky, the warm air blowing on our arms and legs, the speakers blasting “The Lone Bellow,” the sun stretching in the cloudless sky.

Now I have my eye on our apricot tree: Hundreds of apricots are starting to turn yellow. I bought canning jars yesterday and I’m searching for recipes for anything apricot. Please share if you have any!

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abandoned mine: a film set?

“If I were a college film student,” A. said. “This is where I’d shoot a horror film.”

We were at an abandoned mine deep in the Indian Wells Valley, and A. was downstairs in a cabin in the woods looking at debris and rusted springs from a bed from nearly a century ago.

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On a tip from two dirt-bikers at the brewery the day prior, we went in search of the Nadeau-Magnolia gold mine, driving narrow dirt roads past hundreds of Joshua trees — some charred from a recent fire. When we arrived, there was a sign lying on the ground, so faded it’s hard to read: “Caution: Mining Area” and “1937.”

On one of the walls in the cabin hangs photos of Siebert family — but A. and I didn’t get a close look because we didn’t trust the wooden boards to hold our weight.

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Wandering around, seeing mining equipment from the early 1900s, I felt like a kid who had walked straight into a storybook. I imagined miners calling to each other, faces covered in dirt, and the Siebert family sitting around the stove in the cabin, looking out the same window I peered out.

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A. and I had stepped into history, and it was all ours to explore. We decided it’s our best discovery yet since moving to Ridgecrest, Calif. The next weekend, we tried to take A.’s parents, but there were about six people huddled near the camping area — including a tall, lanky guy holding a shotgun — and a pitbull that came charging toward our car. We turned around so fast, it’s a wonder we didn’t skid off the dirt road.

We didn’t make it up to the actual mine, about a 1/2 mile hike, but we plan to go back. (And I’d like to find out more about its history — but a quick Google search doesn’t bring anything up.) Maybe we’ll take video cameras and shoot our own horror film like the Blair Witch Project. I’m certain that with little effort — especially after dark — we can scare the bejeesus out of each other.

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