Miss Marley – An update

October 7, 2014

Marley is 6 now. Yes, 6! In her 6 years she has developed a real passion for all things sports, in fact she prefers a visit to the local Dick’s sporting goods to peruse sports shorts and soccer balls, rather than a day at the American Girl Store. Being the girly girl that I am, friends tend to quietly laugh to themselves as they think “Val got a tomboy!”. I couldn’t be more in awe of my little Mar-Mar as she races across the soccer field to score a goal, practices her swim strokes with precision, slams the softball, and goes head to head with a girl 5 inches taller than her in basketball. I’m thrilled that she is active, competitive and fearless!

Aside from her love of sports, she also has a real love for school! Finally something I can say she got from me. She worries about being late in the morning, races home to start her homework and loves to provide me with a full recap of the happenings of the day including who she sat by at lunch and who moved their magnet. Being competitive, she has a acute awareness of her reading skills and is diligently practicing her phonics. This past weekend she begged me to go to Barnes and Noble so she could select a new “Elephant and Piggy” book as Mo Willems is by far her favorite author. Mar and I hadn’t been on a mommy and me excursion for some time, so we embarked on our adventure.

When we arrived at the book store she ran to her section, selected a book and began to read. We sat and read several books as she decided which book she would take home. On our way out, she noticed a book display for BJ Novak’s new children’s book, “The Book with No Pictures”. The display was not particularly appealing but it caught her attention. She read the cover and said “hmmm, a book with no pictures?. Well, that’s like a chapter book or something, right?”  She took a moment to check it out and asked me if we could buy it because, “it seems interesting”. I happen to be a fan of Mr. Novak, so I obliged.

The display that made this a reality.

The display that made this blog post a reality.

At our next stop, she sat on the floor and began reading her new book. Again, because she is just learning to read, it can take several minutes to read one page. While she was reading she implemented a reading strategy her teacher taught her, which is to ask yourself a series of questions while you read to help further your comprehension of the story: “I’m thinking, I’m seeing, I’m wondering, etc…”  She was amused when she she got to the “I’m seeing” question. She said aloud, “I’m seeing, I’m…, well…, I’m not seeing anyfing, you know why? because (as she turned to the cover) this is… this is… The Book with No Pictures!” she proudly moved onto the next page.

Reading is serious, even on the floor at the Gap.

Reading is serious, even on the floor at the Gap.

As a parent these are the moments that make you so proud. You glow with excitement because your child has reached another milestone. . As she continued to read her new book aloud, more “for the baby book” ,moments were happening right before my very eyes, her cadence slow and precise, “My..o-n-l-y..friend in the…whole…wide world…is a hip-po named Boo…Boo….Butt” She slowly repeats “Boo, Boo, Butt” she is wondering, thinking (but not seeing) and BAM she comprehends…. I could read her thoughts , they said (“I just read Butt”) She looks at me, laughing again at what she just read and now she is hooked. Again, reading her thoughts, they said (What will read next!)

Wait a minute. This is silly.

Wait a minute. This is silly.



It's still funny, I read BUTT!
It’s still funny, I read BUTT!

Later that day, I decided to see if there is a book signing happening any time soon. I am a connect the dots type of person and I thought it would be great for Marley to see the book read live by the author himself. Much to my surprise there is a book signing at the end of the week, in our very own town. Sometimes things are just meant to me. I would like to thank Mr. Novak because Marley experienced her “A-Ha” moment for the awesomeness of reading from four simple, yet when combined, hilarious letters. No picture required!

What Shall I Wear?

February 2, 2013

Some may say tomorrow is a big day for the San Francisco 49ers, but if you are a member of my family you know it’s an even bigger day for my Uncle Tom.

Tom is jokester, a guys guy, a master at the bbq, a mi casa es su casa kinda dude. You’ll never leave his home hungry and you’ll likely be shit faced drunk. He should wear a sign that says “free hugs”. He’s got a lot of love to go around but nothing is bigger than his love for his Niners.  It only takes one thing to truly piss him off and that’s talkin’ smack about HIS team. Never, ever, ever, ever breathe a word of Niner hate in his presence. He was once quoted as saying “If anybody ever takes my niner flags off my truck, I will hunt them down (dramatic pause) and kick their ass” 

So that’s why tomorrow, much to the dismay of my husband (a non niner believer) that I along with my children will be sportin’ the niner red and gold. My best childhood memories involve many a Sunday watching the 49ers with my family. My aunt and uncle hosted a lot of football parties in the 80’s. Even, I remember the day we all witnessed “The Catch”, our doberman, Count was even cheering. 

Dave likes to say that “Sports are a Metaphor for Life” and I often roll my eyes while thinking “Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik are the LOVE of my life” Today, while thinking about my childhood and my uncle’s love for his team I finally realize what he means. 

Here’s to a 49er victory!



Yay Uncle Tommy!

Life these days

March 14, 2012

I’m a mom. Life consists of ensuring child #1 and # 2 are driven to points a and b several times a day: school, soccer, dance, football, play dates, appointments, birthday parties, baseball, swim, back and forth, hit repeat.  Oh yeah and throw in meals, snacks & laundry. 100% of the time I am concerned for their safety, health and happiness. My partner to ensure all this happens is my husband who I greet with high fives instead of kisses because we made it through another day.  AND I also have a full time job. Sadly I learn about news and current events on Facebook and “E” because this also serves as entertainment for which my schedule allows only 3.5 minutes. Do not judge me because I am happy for Britney spears and her upcoming nuptials, I “heart” the Kardashians, I have no idea who Mitt Romney is, (except that he is a Mormon and Mormons are cool because of Big Love) We will probably live in our current home for the next 20 years and won’t make a dent in what we owe, college will be paid in loans, I will work until I am 80. Sometimes I wish just one day I could hit pause and say “Live from New York it’s Saturday night” until then I happily welcome a nice hot bath and hugs from my little ones.


The Marley Meltdown

April 28, 2011

Today is a special day. Dave is taking Sam to “Take your kid to work” day and Sam is wearing his finest suit and tie for the occasion. He prepared all night coloring pictures to present to Dave’s clients. Sam is serious about this and is looking forward to a fun day in San Francisco with his Pops. He even decided to forgo his usual nighttime bath so he could shower in the morning – Just. Like. Dad.  After their adventures in the city, they plan to head to the gym for a nice swim – the perfect way to end a busy day.

I thought this would also be a special day for me and little Miss Marley. We could spend a nice morning together, enjoy breakfast, get ready for school, without the rush or frenzy that generally occurs when getting 2 kids prepared for school. Sam was out the door before Mar even awoke, so I was looking forward to the calm. Ha – was I wrong!

When Mar woke up everything seemed to be fine. She asked for her brother and I explained he went with daddy and it was just a special morning for her with mommy. I had her pick out her outfit for school, hooked her up with some reading material, and I got ready for the day. I went into her room to get her dressed and she decided she did not want to wear what she picked out, so we went to the closet and started again. This was meltdown #1 – the “I do NOT want to wear that, or that, or that” meltdown. I finally chose 2 outfits and said you have the choice between Beautiful Dress, #1 or Beautiful Dress, #2. and I left the room. 30 seconds later I returned and she (while sobbing) made her selection. Okay..this is progress. I got her dressed and we headed downstairs for breakfast.

Breakfast was smooooth, which is not too surprising, because as we know from previous posts Marley LOVES FOOD! She even let me comb her hair, put on her sweater (she never does this) and we had a few minutes to spare. Awesome! So I did not anticipate what was about to happen next,  meltdown #2 which was the “WHY ARE WE TAKING DAD’S CAR TO SCHOOL” meltdown. Oh damn – I loaded the car and navigated around her while she had her moment and eventually strapped her in the car. I should also mention the straps on the car seat in Dave’s car are on the dangerously loose side, so I always have to tighten them when I put her in Dave’s car, which in turn pissed her off again. But thanks to quick mommy thinking, I performed a” fake loosing of the straps” manuever and she chilled out.

Unfortunately, my expectations of a glorious morning just mom and daughter, fell short. This is terrible to admit, but at this point I was excited about the thought of dropping her off at school so she could be someone else’s problem. Our drive to la escuela was actually really pleasant. Dave always has his car programmed to Howard Stern and I have a history of breaking things in his car, so rather than change the channel to something more appropriate, I just played it safe and turned off the radio. Marley and I talked the entire way to school, she sang all the songs in her repertoire, including “5 little speckled frogs” which, when she sings it sounds more like “5 little fuckin’ frogs”.  Phew…the morning just got upgraded to mildly pleasant. 

It was all good until we got to the parking lot of the school which initiated Meltdown #3  the “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL” meltdown. I was able to score a front row parking spot which was great because at this point it has become very strategic. I must. have. a plan.   I calmly grabbed her things and went to get her out of the car. She resisted the entire way – funny how only minutes before the straps of the car seat were straps of death, now only to become her very best friend. As we make our way to the front door (note: only a few steps, what could possibly go wrong?) Mar Mar grabs my car key and throws it – the key breaks open- the battery flies out and I am left with three little pieces. A very nice dad with his well-behaved angel finds all the pieces and starts to put it back together only to become totally confused, gives up, hands it all back and apologizes. Great, if he can’t fix it, how will I? I decide to forget about the key and get Marley to her classroom. She is crying, holding onto to my neck and I can barely walk. She has never done this before and she usually loves school. By the time I make it to the classroom, mere steps from my car, I am a disheveled sweaty mess, hair attached to my lip gloss and all. Everybody is staring and I am nodding my head like a homeless man on crack. What. Just. Happened? I don’t know and I don’t want to think about it. The sweet, lovely teacher that returned today from her honeymoon, lovingly grabbed Miss Marley (ha, welcome back) and I darted out of the room, never to look back.

Of course I looked back. Through the safety of the front desk computer via in- classroom cameras. I think this is why I pay so much for preschool. Of course the little lady “played” me. By the time the director brought up the cameras Marley was standing by her teacher with the clipboard checking kids off on the roll sheet. That’s my girl. I have heard so many seasoned parents tell me that all they ever wished for was that their children were well-behaved when other people were watching them. Yeah, I get it. But it does not come without a price,  the wrinkles on my face clearly had a victory today. Next stop – Botox.


April 25, 2011

Prince William is getting married on Friday. Back in the day I remember when he was super cute and I always felt a little pervy wishing I could be his princess. (there is a 7 year age difference) And really who am I kidding? I wouldn’t want to be the wife of a royal – all that “doing the right thing”, shaking people’s hands, holding babies, ribbon cutting ceremonies, hanging with diplomats, UGH… But, I do have to admit though, having people bow and curtsy to you would be kinda sweet especially when you encounter someone that was once mean to you in high school or stole your boyfriend. If I was a princess I would seek those people out and then say “Curtsy bitch or  bow asshole, yeah I’m a royal highness!” 

Every morning on NBC they have been talking about the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  There is quite a bit of hype and if I wasn’t busy doing the million things I have to tend to everyday I would sit and watch. I am interested in her dress and the guest list.  It’s history, and assuming there are no nasty love affairs and she wears knickers in public – she will become Queen. That is neat and she’s pretty too.

This is not the first time I have been interested in what happens to the royals across the pond. When I was a little girl I remember when Prince Charles married Lady Di. Even back then I was wishing for more, I was disappointed that Prince Charles looked nothing like Prince Charming and Diana had short hair. Through the years I would read the People magazine and keep myself abreast of the royal happenings. I don’t remember much of the details but that Fergie princess was pretty naughty.

I was traveling with a group of friends the night Princess Diana was killed in the tragic automobile accident in Paris. Me and my friend Katie wanted to watch the news coverage all night, but we were visiting our friend Casey and she wanted us to stop thinking  and talking about current affairs and drink booze instead. We obliged. Later that week, I hosted a “party” so that we could all watch the funeral together – Live. I have to admit now it was a little tacky and A LOT disrespectful that I wore my tiara to the occasion. We watched all through the night and the wee early hours of the morning. I still remember the young Princes – William and Harry walking in the funeral procession and my friend Kristi crying the entire time – big. huge. tears.  She was inconsolable, and maybe because we were delirious with exhaustion or just really bitchy, we laughed. That was F’d.

So that is why I am dedicating this blog entry to her, Kristi. I am fairly certain she will take the day off and watch it live. I look forward to her play by play facebook postings, it gives me something to look forward to on Friday morning. And I am sure Kristi is happy that she can watch the whole thing in peace and quiet, free from our sarcastic commentary. This is her moment, nothing will come between her and her TV, and NO ONE will know if she cried.

I am sitting at Starbuck’s this morning…trying to work, but I can’t concentrate, it’s FRIDAY!!! I have tons to do and I even coerced my husband to take Sam to swim class because I needed the time to work, but instead I’m procrastinating, listening to Lady Gaga  and remembering the days when Fridays meant something.

I’ll start with high school. I loved school and I was THAT totally involved student government nerd. When I was a senior, I was appointed the Friday Funday chair, which gave me the responsibility of organizing fun activities during lunch on Fridays. I don’t think we had an activity every Friday but probably twice a month. All the events were some type of game or challenge, each class (freshman,sophomore, junior, senior) selected participants and the winner of the activity received points toward the yearly class competition. I had a lot of fun organizing these events and the best part was I had an assistant, a super cute junior named Ward. How cool was that? He and I decided which event we were going to do and then I ran around with a clipboard and he did all the work.

I only remember one event clearly and the was the “Root Beer Chug – A – Lug”. Basically the participant that drank the most Root Beer in 3 minutes, won. The freshman puked. I have an unnatural fear of vomit, so that is probably the only reason I remember. If anybody out there has their favorite Friday Funday moment, please share!

Friday Fundays were the best. In college, Friday Fundays probably meant not going to class and continuing the fun from Thursday night. As a young career girl, Friday Fundays meant getting my mani/pedi at lunch and deciding if I was going to wear black pants or jeans for my night out. Nowadays, Fridays are generally chaotic with a side of exhaustion. There is a 100% chance I will watch several episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and we may even have breakfast for dinner. I guess this IS our Friday Funday – family style.

Disclaimer: If you are not amused by four-letter words, read some else’s post today.

So we have officially entered a new phase in Sammy’s life and although I am not prepared on how best to handle this situation, I knew it was inevitable. You see, in my family,you are born with potty mouth. When I was around 3 years old, I ripped the sales associate a new one just because she asked me not to eat my cookie in the store. My mother acted appalled and blamed my tirade on the neighbor children. My cousin Amanda loved nature as a child and one day as she was preciously examining her surroundings she exclaimed “I’m just looking at this fuckin’ water”.  By the time my aunt had her first son she thought she was going to set an example and introduced a “cuss” jar at family gatherings so as to limit the amount of expletives around her first-born. That was welcomed by several family members saying: “Pass that fuckin’ jar over here, I’ll put in my cash for the day”  Needless to say my cousin’s piggy bank was over flowing and the cuss jar faded away. She never even tried to revisit the idea when her second child was born, too bad, he may have been able to pay for his college education with the proceeds.

Now for me, I have really made an effort to not say the naughty words around the kids.  I generally just abbreviate so I can still get my point across. So I might say “What the F” or “Marley just took a massive S”, etc. Dave has also made an effort as well, but don’t get me wrong now and again we let the real words slip out. I have also asked my family members to try their best at limiting the swears, especially my mom, who by the way, has the kids call her “Pooh Pat”. She told me when I was preggo, that she did not want to be called grandma, she came up with the name and I was just thrilled it wasn’t “Shit Head”, which is a term of endearment in my family.

I would not have been too terribly surprised if Sam’s big debut into the world of four-letter words was shit or bitch. I could have handled that, but, as we know, Sam likes to keep things interesting.

His word of choice is:  Mother Fucker.

There,  I said it. That’s a bad one….shit.

At least he is not saying “Cee U Next Tuesday”, we don’t even use that one.

Just so you know, he does not run around the house saying “Mother fucker, mother fucker” sadly, from a grammatic stand point, he uses the word “appropriately”. For example, while packing up to go home from a lovely visit at my friend’s house, her  boys were playing with Sam and he did not want to play anymore so he said “Stop it you Mother Fuckers”. At the park his friend Jayden threw sand in his face and he said “Don’t be a mother fucker!” Oh good, before we know it he will be able to conjugate the word, a skill that may prove very useful in high school foreign language class. And here I thought he wasn’t ready for Kindergarten.

Dave and I have had many discussions with Sam about his language. Dave recently told Sam that when he says that word he is being disrespectful. Tonight, Sam did not like something Dave had to say and he said “Dad, you are being disrespectable”,  now that was cute. A few minutes later he looks at his dad and says “Hey dad, mother”. I think we know where is was going with that one …..not soo cute.

Moving forward, I have decided I’m not going to analyze where he heard the word  and agonize over why he uses it,  or even worry about when he is going to use it next. I’m just going to play it safe and blame the neighbor children. 🙂

A Good Blog

February 8, 2010

My husband writes a really good blog, full of inspiration.

Please take a moment to read.  http://www.davesweeklythought.blogspot.com/


January 8, 2010

Today is Elvis’ birthday. He would have been 75. Dave is watching a program about The King downstairs and I realize that I quite enjoy his music. Listening to him makes me think of a few Mom/Elvis stories I would like to share. 

My mom has frequently reminisced about the time she saw Elvis perform live in Tahoe. She doesn’t share much, but the story has remained consistent. So here it goes: “I saw Elvis with my friend, we were teenagers, it was before he was fat and still good looking, old ladies threw their panties at him. I thought, Yuuuck!” 

My next Elvis memory is as follows: 

I swear by remembering the day Elvis died, but that was in 1977 and I  would have only been 2 years old. I have always said I have a good memory, but I think that’s pushing it. So, I think, I must have remembered an anniversary of his death, maybe at 3 or 4 years of age. Anyway, what I remember is the report on TV saying that Elvis died of an overdose, and I asked my mom what that meant. My mom’s response to me was “They found him with his head in the toilet.” So for years, and years and years, I have this vision: Elvis is his famous white bell bottom suit, face down in the toilet. I have since reminded my mom of this conversation, she laughed and then told me, “well his head wasn’t IN the toilet he was actually ON the toilet taking a dump”  Thanks for clearing that up, I think I should stick with my first vision, at least he is wearing pants.

You may  be thinking those sound like immature responses coming from a mom. Well, for the “head in the toliet” comment she could not have been older than 24, let’s think about some of the things we were doing when we were 24. She, unlike us, was raising a child and not prepared for the tough, real life questions of a toddler.  If Sam asked me what is an overdose, I would probaby freeze, fumble over my words,  redirect his attention by saying something like “look there’s a bird.” Hey, at least she answered me. As for the “Elvis concert” story, as I mentioned before, that story has never changed, so until my mom tells me otherwise, I will still think of old ladies going commando all in the name of Elvis.

The famous white suit

I did some research on the whole “15 minutes of fame” and I came upon this definition:  15 Minutes. I had no idea that Andy Warhol coined the phrase, hmmm, neat.

So I was thinking, when will it be my turn? Then I remembered something, I ALREADY had mine. I was 11 years old, a student at Montevideo Elementary school and  the only kid at my school taking drama classes at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. The year before, my parents took me to see A Christmas Carol and I remember seeing the kids on stage and telling my mom I wanted to do that. A month later I applied for the program and was admitted. I think I got in because I went to the audition dressed to perfection wearing a red winter coat with my hair in perfect curls, just like Shirley Temple.

The girl that interviewed before me was denied, so I felt the pressure when I went into my interview, but Gayle (I still remember her name) loved me and brought my parents in the room immediately to share the good news. I enrolled in several classes and less than a year later I was invited to audition for a Christmas Carol.

I had never been on an audition before and did not realize what a big deal it was to audition for ACT’s A Christmas Carol. The process was very much like you see in the movies. The first day there were LOTS of kids in the room, many of them already practicing lines. I was just hanging out with my parents, waiting to be called into the room.I won’t go in to all the details of the audition, but it lasted several days, each day being called back and each day less and less kids, until one day there were only about 20 of us.

I came home from school one afternoon and both my parents were home. My mom told me in the kitchen, “Well, you got a part!” I was so excited, this was my first real break, I was going to be a “Carol Kid”. I was cast as the role of Daughter of Christmas Past and Want. I didn’t have any lines which I thought was a real bummer. I really wanted to be Little Fan or the first Mexican Cratchit. I started rehearsals right away and by mid-November I was put on Independent Study and did not go back to school full time until January. This was totally professional. I did 10 shows a week, had a dresser and a make-up artist. My make-up for Daughter of Christmas Past was very whimsical and beautiful, after they applied the make-up, the artist would do the final touches which include a solid 10 second blast of spray paint glitter. I am fairly sure that product was not intended to be put on the skin, but it sure did look pretty. After I went on stage for the role of Daughter of Christmas Past, I had to rush back to make-up take it all off and then reapply make-up for the role of “Want”. I was supposed to look dirty, smelly and raggedy. They would just slather different shades of brown make-up all over my body, frizzed up my hair, and dressed me in rags.

In my role as Want, me and my partner, Ignorance, had to hide under the robe of the actor playing Ghost of Christmas Present and then “TADA”, there we were. We had to hide under there for a good 3 minutes, which would not have been soo bad, except my partner used to pinch the actor (on my side, so he thought I was doing it ) and he would also fart, A LOT. He was so gross. My partner had to wear the same type of make-up as I did and one day after a matinee instead of reporting to the chaperone, he went outside, down the street and begged for money. Why didn’t I think of that? Kidding. My parents always picked me up between every show and took me to lunch. I never had to hang out with chaperone.  It is truly one of my fondest childhood memories.

Every year we go and see a Christmas Carol, it would not feel like Holiday time without it. Up until a few years ago, they were using the same adaptation, same sets, songs and scripts from when I was in the 1986 show  The new version is also terrific and they have added some neat special effects. We are going to see it this weekend. I truly cannot wait until I can bring my own kids.

My life as an actor did not last too long. After a Christmas Carol I got an agent and went on several auditions. I got a few small parts in print ads, nothing huge. I really was not committed enough and thankfully my mother was the antithesis of a stage mom. One day I told her, I really like school, I don’t want to miss anymore school. She said “Fine”. Called my agent and that was it.

My 15 minutes is not exactly what I had in mind but I’ll take it. I even have an awesome supply of the headshots below. Please let me know if you would like one, I will gladly send it your way.