Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First lost tooth

Ayla lost her first tooth yesterday! She is 7 years old, it's pretty late, so I expect more to follow quickly. She already has several more loose. But there was great rejoicing this morning with a new dollar coin from the Tooth Fairy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


This is a Martin Luther King, Jr memorial, near our apartment, that we explored today, the kids enjoyed walking behind the waterfall.

It was such a mixed-bag of a day.

From the despairing feeling of early morning (Greg leaves early on Sundays, and the day stretches out in front of me, an unscheduled wasteland waiting to happen)...

To actual tears of pride and delight when Baz barreled across the entire courtyard, all by himself, on the unicycle I bought for him...

To frustration at dealings with the other parents - parents who change their plans at the last minute and don't tell me, gatherings poorly organized and haphazardly attended, and the only thing that's ever consistent is inconsistency...

To the quiet calm of an un-busy evening at home with the kids, all of us buried in our books...

In the end, Sunday passed, my least-favorite day of the week, and it was OK. It had its good moments, like this one, the kids decorating the Christmas tree at the Cirque site. They are all practically bursting to celebrate Christmas, but in our household I have a strict Not Before December 1st! rule. That goes for Christmas carols, letters to Santa, etc. Once December arrives I will be as much in the spirit as any of them (and madly doing my online shopping, as well - the good fortune of being back in the States for the holidays this year)!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


In case it isn't obvious from my blogging, I like to talk. I like to communicate all my thoughts and feelings and I'm really not too worried about who hears them. I am often surprised by others' reticence or privacy concerns, and if I cause offense to other people it is most likely because of saying too much, too openly. Every once in a while I receive a little slap on the wrist, from someone telling me I should watch what I say... and I remember for a little while, until it fades and something flares up again.

This week, I've had two instances of these sorts of flare-ups - both from people, not friends of mine, telling me that I need to learn to shut my mouth sometimes. In the first situation I was accused of pushiness - in the second, gossiping. I think I'm guilty of both. A good deal of both scenarios, right now, can be explained by sheer boredom. I simply don't have much to do - so, a personal project, or a juicy story, become an elixir for me, something for me to feast my energies on temporarily. Which I suppose is fine until it crosses someone else's comfort threshold, and that's not always apparent to me.

I worry that boredom doesn't fully explain it, though, because even in my busy working life I was not famous for discretion. I just say what I think, as soon as I think it. And my worry is that this quality is going to limit my success in life; the most successful people, I think, master the skill of when to speak and when to remain silent. Not just successful in work - but also in interpersonal relationships.

All I can do is to try to be better. I can try to listen more and talk less; stay out of other people's business; think before I speak. I would like to ask, to all of the blog readers out there who are friends of mine, for you to help me in this quest by letting me know if I have overstepped a boundary, or if I have spoken when silence would have been wiser. Somewhere in my brain, a particular sensitivity gene is not well-tuned, and I know of no other way to shape it, other than to solicit your constructive criticism.

P.S. I held off on posting this for a while, as I contemplated that saying, "Well-behaved women seldom make history". Seriously considered a whole alternate attitude. Then decided that "Life is a long lesson in humility" is a better quote for today.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving thanks

As expected, things have brightened considerably this week.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with some VIPs who gave me their time, attention, and some of the things I've been requesting. It was a great relief and confidence-booster.

Today, Thanksgiving Day, was un-festive except that Jeff and I did a Turkey Trot in the morning! I left here at 6:30am in pouring rain, but by the time we got to the starting line, the rain had decided to take a break. The course, in Oakland, was seriously hilly, making the whole thing more challenging than expected - but with Jeff keeping me company, I blasted through my old PR of 29:30, finishing at 28:02! I'm very proud of that!

The kids and I went to see Totem in the afternoon (Totem has two shows today - Baz and Ayla had a regular school day, as well), and then we enjoyed a terrific Thanksgiving feast in the kitchen afterwards. Our cooks outdid themselves, and I hadn't realized, until I sat down, how comforting turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes could be. Because, even though I am mostly quite fine with skipping out on Thanksgiving traditions, it still feels strange that all of my family is gathered without me, celebrating the usual way.

Well, there is one way that I can maintain a Thanksgiving tradition - by taking time to think about the things I am grateful for. The list is too long to include here... my life is one precious gift after another. But closing my eyes tonight for sleep, all that's there is gratitude.

Monday, November 21, 2011

We ice skate!

Spent a wonderful afternoon today at the Yerba Buena Gardens, across the street from our apartment complex, teaching the kids to ice skate. (OK, and having a bit of a refresher course ourselves.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Doldrums defines doldrums as "a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits." And that has been me these last few days. For no particular reason - it is just the same sad slump that comes over me once in a while, with those heavy question, what am I doing here? and why am I spending all of my time dealing with laundry and temper tantrums? comes back to the ego, again, my sense that I should be More Important Than This. Which is humbling to realize, all by itself.

I suppose it's been a rough week for many reasons. There is a lot going on right now at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts - changes, big wonderful events, future-strategizing that needs my attention. We have announced to the world that Robin is leaving in the spring, and we've begun the search for the next Managing Director. The uncertainty of all that gives me just a low-level anxiety. ... then this week I had an unpleasant interaction with someone on the site, which reminded me all too clearly that my goals and wants do not matter a damn to the Totem community. It is simply not about me - nothing here is - which I've known forever, but every once in a while it gets rubbed in my face.

Add all that to the general drudgery of stay-at-home mom life; and my increasing concern that Isa is backsliding, reverting more to babyhood and clinginess than she should be, and therefore I have somehow screwed up - and perhaps my doldrums are no surprise.

So, I keep trying the old standby pick-me-ups .... yesterday Isa and I watched Totem from the expensive seats in the front center section; today I took the kids to the Museum of Modern Art; tonight I'll probably try to absorb myself in a new novel. Hopefully the gray mood will lift; it always does.

Friday, November 18, 2011

More images of the Bay Area

We continued to explore for the first part of this week. Here we all are at Point Reyes National Seashore... Greg and I at the Lighthouse, and the kids with their Grandma Terry and Grandpa Ron.

We also made it out to Alcatraz. That was pretty interesting. Although Greg scoffed at the whole idea of making a prison into a National Park, and part of what's interesting on the tour is that Alcatraz wasn't that scary of a place - it was really just a regular prison, and the prisoners weren't treated too badly at all - it was still impressive to step inside an actual giant old jail, with its isolation chambers and stories of riots and famous convicts. Of the kids, Baz was the most fascinated; Ayla liked it "except for the sad parts"; Isa didn't really get much out of it, but she was happy to go along for the ride.

The week with Mom and Dad passed quickly. In our 3-bedroom 3-bathroom apartment, it was the first time they'd ever stayed with us that they had a bathroom to themselves! ....Mom and I enjoyed morning walks along the waterfront; the two of them sampled several of the local restaurants, and watched the kids one evening so Greg and I could get out for dinner; and the weather was absolutely beautiful, with only one rainy day. My Mom, having just retired in July, hasn't had a month yet without some significant traveling, and she is still waiting to see if any feelings of boredom settle in... so far, not.

They left on Wednesday, the 16th - now we are settling back into a "normal" routine, done with sightseeing for awhile.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seeing more of San Francisco

We are in sightseeing mode this week, with my parents visiting. It occurred to me today, as we were passing through the financial district and pointing out to the children every bit of interesting architecture, lobby artwork, etc. - is this getting to be overkill? OK, kids seeing the world and all, but is the constant "look at that!" making them jaded? If we were living a "normal" life in Philadelphia, would I be continually pointing out interesting things for them to observe?

...Maybe I would. And maybe this is just a natural parenting thing... at a certain point they're going to cross over into adolescence and they will be interested in nothing I want to show them, right? So perhaps I should just seize the moment right now - my curious little sponges at age 8, 7, and 4, are ready to gaze in fascination at every funny sign, colorfully-painted house, or beautiful sunset I can point out to them.

We went to Sausalito one day, on an open-topped tour bus that was incredibly windy going across the Golden Gate Bridge! This was just me, my parents, and Isa, and we enjoyed Sausalito's cute streets and beautiful hillside homes, and being able to look at San Francisco from a distance.

Today we took all the kids to Golden Gate Park, for another chance at the Koret Children's Quarter, and then for lunch at the home of a distant cousin, in a stunning apartment next to Ghirardelli Square. (So of course we went to Ghirardelli for the free chocolate!)

These are only a few of the sights we've seen this week. We've been all over the place... Ferry Building, Haight-Ashbury, Chinatown, Creativity Museum. Twice to Fisherman's Wharf, and we've still barely gotten a taste of all of the entertainment there. (street artists, tacky museums, crazy shops, etc...) Mom and I walked to City Hall one day, and today she explored the Botanical Gardens. In between all of it, we're finding time for the little things we appreciate when Grandma and Grandpa are in town... time for walks and talks, time for them with each of their grandchildren one-on-one, help with housework and childcare, and reminiscing about past trips and experiences.

More to come.....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day out with Isa

The sea lions at Pier 39

Aquarium of the Bay

Biking to Golden Gate Bridge

The giant bow and arrow

An amazing school of fish, over our heads in the tunnel at the Aquarium...


Monday, November 7, 2011

Images from the weekend

It was Ilya's 5th birthday. Nastia always outdoes herself with birthday parties - she organizes game after game after game, lays out a full-day's-feast worth of food, and the parties, in Russian fashion, go on for upwards of 4 hours. It's exhausting just to be a spectator. One of her games was "little girls do their Moms' hair" and we took this photo afterwards to show off their designs.

Very back row: (Yahor, Baz)
Back row: Sasha, Natasha, Nastia
Front row: Elise, me, Olga, Oyuna

Today, Monday, we only ventured out for a few hours in the afternoon - trying not to exhaust Greg too much, he's up to 10 shows a week and he is suffering from a pretty bad head cold at the moment. But we did do some exploring around San Francisco today, including driving down Lombard Street with its crazy hairpin turns. We also stopped at Baker Beach and let the kids put their hands in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, and then made our way into Golden Gate Park for a couple of hours of bike-riding and playgrounding.

But the weather is getting colder, and we couldn't bring ourselves to stay out once the sun began to set. ...I should say, Greg and I couldn't. The kids had to be dragged out of the Koret Children's Quarter. Fortunately we have 6 more weeks in this city, hoping for decent weather so we can head back another day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


So, tomorrow morning is the US Half Marathon here in San Francisco. I should be frantically scarfing down pasta and trying to get to sleep early. But I'm not. Because I bailed out on the race.

My decision to quit came only a few days ago, but my feeling about it since I the summer has been unequivocal dread. I signed up for the race on the heels of a successful 10k. I had joined the Totem Running Club, a very loosely organized group, and the sense of camaraderie combined beautifully with the pride of accomplishment. I wanted more of that. I thought, "I really don't want to run another half-marathon. But if we do all the really crappy long training runs as a group - this could be OK! it could be really good!"

The group runs did not happen. Things just seemed to come up, constantly, to get in the way. They were usually things like parties and vacations, because all of the other group members are childless Cirque support-staff members. Plus, a few of the key people involved had steady running partners, so they, at least, were not alone.

I plugged along for awhile, managing to pull off as much as a 10-mile run. Then Annual Leave happened - those two weeks of trekking all over the country, and flying to a funeral in the middle of it, wiped out my running momentum. By the time I got here to SF, with only two weeks left till race day, I was feeling not only dread, but panic. To add injury to insult, my bad hamstring ached increasingly, whenever I ran more than a couple of miles. I pushed through a miserable 7 miles one day, about a week ago, and dealt with lingering pain afterwards, and then thought to myself, why am I doing this?

This was going to be unhealthy for me, physically and mentally; I hadn't trained adequately, and slogging through 13 miles was going to be nothing but agony, especially with San Francisco's hills, and with a 7:00am race time. This supposed "team" of runners wasn't even traveling to and from the race together - I was on my own, on a train - and I was going to have to pay a babysitter, since Greg had to work. When it came down to it, the only reason I could find to do this race was because I wanted to be one of the gang, and I didn't want to have to tell everyone I was a quitter.

I finally decided that this was not a good enough reason to put my mind and body through this hell. I spent about 24 hours obsessively imaging different stories I could tell the group. And in the end I finally just told them the truth:

I didn't train well enough for this. I'm afraid I'm going to injure myself. I am not going to run the race.

...there was some disappointment; a couple of "it's OK" pats on the back; a couple of avoiding-eye-contact silences. I am sure my bailing out isn't great for their morale; but in the end, it matters very little to any of them. I've lost $92 in race fees, donated to some charity or other; but I'm also saving money on the travel and the babysitter and the wheelbarrow full of comfort food I would probably be indulging in to get through this.

It's funny how much anxiety I had about making this decision. But since the decision was made, I've been fine - relaxed, happy, relieved. Making the choice that is right in my heart, affirming my gut-feeling, turns out to be very healing. I thought I would feel like a terrible failure... but it was when I was running that I felt that way, running too slow and not long enough and not well enough for this race. The pressure is gone and my head feels clear.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

San Francisco Apartment

Our apartment... heavily influenced by The King.