Thursday, May 22, 2014

Life, Thoughts, & Good Things

It's that busy time of the year. I've barely had time for blogging.

So much I have been wanting to share too. I've got a few post coming, but not enough time to work on them.

 The school year is rapidly coming to a close. I think I've said it before, but each year seems to fly faster than the last.

This top outfit is what I wore to a symphony I got to attend thanks to my son... Finally mom perks!

I had the dress for ages. It's a simple sheath and I was excited to give these new sandals a go. I bought them at our local She She shoes, one of my favorite places to shop  in town. I like to go to small businesses whenever I can. They are Ivanka Trump and are on sale now everywhere. If you can't get to a small town shop you can find them at Nordstrom.  They are more flattering than I would have thought for a flat shoe and are mixing them in is making my clothes feel a bit more hip.

The first year of junior high went by fast for Griffin. He is into all sorts of things and cello is one thing he loves and I hope will continue. The other is Scouts.

His bald head from the St Baldrick's Day is finally growing in.

With flowers for his teacher who we was playing violin in the symphony.

 Don't you love the Jacaranda trees in Downtown San Jose here?

The beautifully restored California Theatre where Symphony Silicon Valley plays.

 The concert included Jon Nakamatsu, a winner of the Van Cliburn competition. He played Rachmaninoff. It was amazing and one of those experiences I'll never forget. He was so dramatic and had so much energy and speed, my arms were vibrating after. Weird. 

I had to sneak this IPhone photo...
I cannot believe how long it took me to see them. Once you experience a show like this, you want to do it again. Symphony SV (Silicon Valley) is world class.

Speaking of music, Jackson is my guitar playing high schooler.

Somehow he's going to be a junior next Fall. I don't quite believe it..

In the keeping it real realm, it's been a bit dodgey for both my boys this year. It's almost like some roller-coaster. We are on honor roll, we're not, we have Ds and Fs, we are on honor roll again and so on. I find papers under bean bags, in underwear drawers (along with uneaten lunch items), under the bed and mainly crushed under clothes! 

I really have been meaning to write about this.. Sophomore year began innocently enough and quickly the buzz was all about securing private college tutors and private SAT prep. You know how that works, moms all start talking about it. I began to get extreme stress and panic by Christmas about this. The feeling around the high-achieving area where we live is do everything you can to get your kids in the best school. 

Something about it just didn't feel like the right fit for us though. It just felt a bit forced and too much too soon at least for my son. He takes AP classes, but yet still can't manage to even use a 3 ring binder! "Next year mom," he tells me with a smile.  He has many talents like tennis, guitar, building motorized bikes for a friend's business, writing and learning software coding, and also drawing. He's bright and funny and brilliant at so much. 

I started to breathe a bit more about this when so many kids in our area who got 4.0 and above grades still did not get into the University of California school system that is so coveted here.. A ridiculous situation due to our state barely funding higher education anymore. 

Junior college is looking like a possible better way into U.C.? I think he may be taking longer to figure this out and all that..

I don't think that's the prevailing view where we are though. I feel like I am alone in this view except for a few..

Any thoughts from those who have done this already? 

Big height differential now with my guys!

On a more fun note, Max and I got invited to a cool cooking class at our pals Rob and Christina's home a week or so ago..

You Say Tomato is the brainchild of one British transplant and talented cooking teacher, Gemma Ward. She does classes in your home if you are in the South Bay Area, or you can even drop-in at her own kitchen.

  We began with watermelon-basil martinis! Great start right?

Our class that night was Thai cooking and it just happened to be gluten- free as well.
We made spring rolls, lettuce wraps with chicken and green curry. All delicious and easy.

It was fun, but I also learned some great new techniques like the proper way to brown ground chicken, (or turkey),  how to make the perfect jasmine rice without a cooker, and even making delicious sauces.

Gemma adds in these little tidbits of wisdom as you watch her prepare your meal in front of you. Some of the steps you can help with. Mainly you watch, learn and enjoy!

The delightful Gemma.

 I love her You Say Tomato Blog. It's chock full of for great recipes and her classes page for schedules and current courses available.

You are sent home with a step-by-step guide and a little treat.

How do you like our treat? The hot peppers and fish sauce needed for great Thai dishes!
 The bottle was enough to send my kids screaming!

I hope to drop in or host my own. My cooking is in a serious rut. Spring fever? I tend to check out of cooking about this time of year. Do you get like that?

I'm dreaming of summer already.

One summer treat that I indulged in last weekend was a frosted mocha from Cafe Barone, in Menlo Park.

Going there for lunch on the patio is quite a scene. Lots of techies, students from Stanford plus lots of dogs. It's good people watching and attracts a cosmopolitan group. It's not fancy at all, but the food is really fantastic. Breakfast there is especially a treat. Very fresh egg dishes, toasted baguettes, fresh juices and more. For lunch I love their chicken salad sandwich on raisin bread. If I get all the way up here I'll usually go for the mocha too.

It's as good as it looks. Beware those are coffee beans..I got heart palpitations last time, but it was worth it. ;D

What makes this a treat is the Kepler's bookstore which is attached. It's one of the few independent bookstores left in the Bay Area and I could spend all day there.

So much to love!

Home Made Summer. Gorgeous photos and recipes. I really want this book. I have the Winter version and they are both beautiful. If you cannot get to Kepler's then you can get it at Target too.

Love the possibilities here for outdoor parties and making alfresco meals.

Check out this fabulous book. Heirloom Modern is a wonderful tome about using those things handed down to you in a fresh way that's chic not frumpy. I love it's ideas since I have so many pieces that I  from my grandmother and I try to incorporate them into my more California vibe house. Very cool book.

I am always drawn to the paper items of bookstores. I love a good notecard or notebook.

Kepler's has a nice selection of California themed stationery. There are some wonderful vintage postcards of Stanford, the Golden Gate and more iconic landmarks.

 California books as well.

I bought this Paris Street Style book. I may do a post about this later. So many cool interviews with French women on how their style evolved and the hacks they do everyday to keep their style new.

It's not another about how fab French women are..(Though they are!!) It's more about their inspirations and refusal to be mainstream.  I need this.. Ideas about raiding your kid's closet, chopping your clothes with your own sheers and more wacky, but innovative thoughts. Green too. They aren't all about buying the latest item, but making something out of what you own.

I'll let you know what I come up with!

This week I came across photos from our first trip to France with the family.

Hard to believe this was almost 9 years ago!

We were pretty brave to bring these little monkeys with us, but it was one of the best trips.
 (Maybe that is just hind-sight?) They were 3 and 6...And I just 40.
Le sigh... Time is going too fast!!

The highlight of last week ...

 Last weekend my mom met with a best friend and roommate with whom she had lost touch for 50 years!!  Thanks to her friend Karen's daughter, Suzanne (named after my mom incidentally), who found my mom on Facebook, we had the nicest lunch with the two of them.

It is really hard to believe that much time had passed, they were both giggling right off.
Mom and I are just hoping now we get to spend more time with both of them soon. Karen and mom don't know how they lost touch. This was the 60s and they were busy raising kids and Karen moved out of state. 

Don't lose touch with those special friends who just get the real you.

As moms and wives, we sometimes get caught up in life and work and friends take a backseat. Making time for friends though, is like making time for you. Good friends just make you feel young and like a kid again. It's very important to your health if you want to live a long and happy life to make your friends a priority!

Now call a friend and make plans!

x Kim


  1. That's right, dear friend! Text me for a coffee date! OXOX ... Fun post! Love your sandals from She She. And hey, I did community college first and I turned out okay. LOL. But yeah, even on the east side, my AP classes are full of very focused and ambitious kids. I can only imagine the sense of competition in LG!

    1. Dawn, we will fit that in as soon as school is out for you too! I did a year before transferring at a JC as well and so did many of my successful friends...Those kids taking AP amaze me. So much college level work and they are so driven! xo

  2. Hi Kim! I love your Symphony outfit and the Ivanka Trump shoes! Your sons are so adorable and my brother just graduated high-school last year and went to a JC (so I can relate to all the stress with the UC/State/JC talk) because I tried to help him too. He chose to go to a Jr. College and I think for your son if he isn't totally sure, a JC is a really good idea and then to start planning and visiting where he'd love to transfer. Especially because there are such good JC's in the Bay Area. On a side note, your Paris book looks so fun and yes, please do a post because I think French women and Italian women have such amazing style. Love your Throwback pic from France too. Timing to start planning another trip :)


    1. Dale,
      Thanks for your sweet note. It's very hard to write about this school stuff! I agree I don't believe there is anything bad about JC's especially if you are focused on where you want to go..Just a lot of dismissal around here for that and our excellent San Jose State.. I just read an article about the top earners in this valley and more CEOs went to San Jose State than Stanford, UCs or any other Bay Area schools!

      Yes, going to do a post on the French women! Hope you are well and looking forward to more of your European travel!! xx

  3. What a lovely newsy post!
    There are lots of wonderful and exciting tidbits of your busy days.
    Funding for schools in our province are declining and the teachers here are involved in bargaining with the government who seems to be doing their best to erode and ignore all that is good in our system. I feel very saddened by the recent news but have to try to keep optimistic that it will work out in the end....our children are the future so cutting programs and underfunding education is very short sighted and one that we cannot sweep under the fiscal carpet.

    1. Hostess, Crazy that Canada is having similar issues.. I just think education is the one thing we should spend the most money on. Somehow, our government treats it like an afterthought...We live in a state that makes so much money in high-tech, Hollywood and so many other industries. We should have excellent school and used to!!

  4. Amazing about your Mom and her friend, I agree our good friends keep us young. I've been so busy but I've been calling up my two best friends for walks and it's so fun, we walk for an hour, chatter away and have a hundred laughs. It really lifts the spirit!
    Your sons are so handsome, and so cute in that old photo! What a busy age they both are. Your older son will work it out, our son is now 21 but when he was that age I couldn't imagine how he would get into University, so competitive and he was into other things like camp, guitar, video games... in the end he did get into the Physics program at University of Toronto, best in the country. He has to work really hard but he loves it, and his 4 year degree will take him 5 years but who cares, he's young!
    That book Heirloom Modern looks right up my alley, thanks for telling us about it, I'm going to look it up now!
    Take care,xox.

    1. I think walk with friends are so great. You get to catch up, enjoy nature and stay fit! I try to do this at least once a week.
      Nice your son got into University of Toronto. I can only imagine how hard it must be to get into the physics program! That is super. And you are so right who cares if it takes 5 years..The main thing is he is happy and knows he wants to be there!

      I love that book. Seeing it at the bookstore I could browse throughout it. I hate buying books online now! I need to see them, especially design books.
      Thanks Dani! x

  5. My dearest Kim,

    What a wise and loving mother you are to recognize the external pressures involved in college preparation. Being further down the road than you … and having experienced it times three … with three completely different results, I wish we could sit over coffee to talk about such an important issue.

    My daughter graduates Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with honors this June. She did it in four years, with studying in Europe as well … and now with acceptance into grad school beginning this July at UCI. I mention this only to show … I am very familiar with the achieving path.

    But I am also familiar with other paths as well. You know the situation with my middle son. Looking back I do believe I may have concentrated too hard on his achievements (or lack there of) … and not enough on his heart … as I know no one can walk away from one's family with a heart fully in tact.

    My youngest, who turns 18 tomorrow will be attending our local Junior College this fall in their honors program. He has no real idea what he wants to do for a career … so this will be a good fit form him at this time in his life.

    I graduated from UCLA … by way of the Junior College route. What I am trying to say … there are many roads to the top of the mountain … not just a one size fits all. Relax … love and enjoy yours boys. Continue to love them and provide family structure … while focusing on their strengths. You are wise and intuitive … to recognize some of the struggles of living in the area you do. It will be OK … no matter the path they find that is right for them. Life is a journey … not a race.

    They are so very blessed to have such a passionate and loving mother.

    Much love to you dear friend,

    1. Tamera, I love your note. Made my day! Especially," there are many roads to the top of the mountain!" Also, "Life is a journey, noir a path." I have to remember that and keep faith that they will both make the right choices and find their own path!! It's wonderful to hear from you since I know you have experiences all these ages... Love you tons for this. xxoo

  6. Kim, I live in the East Bay (Danville area) and I know what you mean about the competitiveness.
    Our son graduates from high school next month and will be going to junior college. He doesn't have any idea what he wants to do. His high school also supports the kids who do not want to go the college path but would rather learn a trade.

    A neighbor's son spent FIVE years at junior college, then to Cal Poly engineering undergraduate, and then a masters from UC Berkeley.

    I think that the previous comment by Tamera has summed it all up very well. "Relax … love and enjoy yours boys. Continue to love them and provide family structure … while focusing on their strengths."

    1. Janice, I am sure you know how it is in this area!! Thank you for sharing your story about your son and your neighbor's son. So encouraging. Who cares if it takes longer as long as they find what they really want to do and go where they want..Seems sometimes that can almost be better as I know a few kids who have even come home from what was a great college..I have to remember boys take longer to mature too.

  7. I highly recommend the JR college route. The high achieving pressure was intense on my kids. Even starting with JR college, both of mine finally graduated, but it was the six year program:). Your fellas are adorable and lucky to have such a loving intelligent Mom.
    See you next week! xoxo

    1. Jen, 6 years doesn't even sound long to me anymore. It all flies by so fast! I'm glad to hear your kids went that route and were happy. Miss you and can't wait to catch up!! x

  8. So much to comment on!!

    Fabulous that there was a reunion after so much time - I had two recently - seen friends after twenty years and it was heartwarming.

    Read that french book in the bookstore! I felt bad I didnt' buy it - was great fun

    I love jacaranda season in California. The first time I saw it I was blown away.

    I think your son looks so handsome and he looks great shaven, full head of hair and in between.

    I can't get over how competitive it is to get into college these days. I hear some stories about internships at the UN and tutoring and SAT's and etc etc etc. But I am sure he will do well and fingers crossed he gets into the school of his choice! xx

    1. Thanks Naomi. Yes crazy. Kids can't be kids anymore. It's all sadly about achievement so early. x

  9. What a lovely outfit choice and one I would wear too - the necklace, bag, shoes all go so well with the dress. The style book is one of my all time favourites. In fact I reviewed it on my blog a while ago. Great tips and it has some useful Paris addresses in there too, some of which we visited on our last trip. What a musical family and the photo of you and your boys in France is so cute. It's scary how quickly our children grow up but each stage is exciting even if at the moment it seems so challenging making decisions about the future. Lovely story about your Mum meeting her friend after all those years.
    Enjoy the weekend!

    1. Miss b. I am sorry I missed your book review of this.. I'm going to go check it out. Yes, so happy about my mom and her dear friend. x

  10. I only read TAMERA"S input but that is VERY good advise there!I know what your going through with the tutors and prep classes is OVER WHELMING!JUST STAY FOCUSED!LOve the Boys......listen to the BOYS.Be a family!THis is JUST SCHOOL............NOT LIFE!

    1. Thanks Contessa. I know you've just gone through all this and with two boys too. Yes, I love the thought this is school, not life! xxoo

  11. Action filled post and good advice about calling a friend to make plans. Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Kim -- I understand your dilemma regarding children and schooling. I lived in another over-achieving area of California (Davis) during most of my daughter's school years. I worried that I wasn't doing right by her because I didn't send her to the tutors, etc. In my heart I knew that wasn't going to fix her academic "issues" but I bought into the guilt. When I realized that fact, I knew that letting her learn her way and giving her that freedom was right for us, regardless of what others thought. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that you know your child better than anyone else -- listen to your heart because you know what is best. Don't let anyone tell you anything different!

    1. Dana, Thank you for sharing this!! Isn't this so true about buying into this whole need for tutors and extra help? You feel less a parent if you do not, but sometimes it is a matter of the child getting their own act together.. Boys seem to just take longer in general. The problem is around here is that if they can't do everything everyone else is, they feel less worthy and not good enough.
      I am trying to listen to my instincts and not buy into all the shoulds regarding this. Thanks so much for this!

  13. That is a lovely story about your mum meeting up with her old friend Kim! I hope it all works out well for your sons and their future education:) Have a great weekend!
    ~Anne xx

  14. Love that hot little outfit on you for symphony Kim! There is so much goodness in this post I just lapped it up. I'm totally with you on the JC thing prior to getting into a UC Kim. Our girls went that route and I think there were some real benefits to it. Loved that photo of you and the boys in Paris. Le Chic! The story of your mom is and her friend is priceless.
    I'm feeling your stress with end of the school year too. So happy for a long weekend!
    Enjoy my sweet friend!

    1. Heather, We are almost there!! A few more weeks! I hope you have a great 3 day weekend and thanks for your lovely note. I know you know about this being a high school counselor and raising all the girls!! Thanks and I agree there are more benefits possibly! xo

  15. Kim your boys are zo lucky to have such a wonderful mom. I remember well those dsys of sats and college acceptances and how competitive it all was. You are so right to take a step back and decide what is best for hour child.

  16. Just popped back to say thank you for taking the time to leave me three lovely comments! I always value your opinion and yes you are right, I think we do like the same things. I'm sure you would enjoy visiting the Lake District too some time . As I said in the post, it really is beautiful at any time of the year.
    PS I have only just spotted that you are following along on GFC - I appreciate that too!

  17. Kim, I know what you mean about being busy. I feel the same way. It's crazy busy the end of the school year.

    That was great about your Mom and her friend.

  18. Love those old photos with the kiddies and the new ones with your friends - lettuce wraps are my fave, so fresh and filling at the same time, something that does not always go together. That outfit at the top is fabulous - yum to the sandals. I know, re blogging, I always say I'll do it at the end of the day then so tired. Hope you're having a wonderful Memorial weekend in the lovely sun!

  19. Your boys are so cute! Enjoy your summer holidays with them and best of luck with your school decisions! xxSP

  20. I'm SO glad I found your blog! My younger son and your oldest are the same age - juniors next year. My older son graduated in 2013 and took a very different path, which I plan to write about soon. He has found his way, but it took awhile, and regular 4 year university was not for him. The pressures on both kids and parents these days are tremendous! You sound like a great mom to be aware and open to different possibilities. Looking forward to getting to know you better through your blog!