Northern California Articles

Unintended Benefits of a Shared Bedroom


This is the seventh night in a hotel, which means that this is the seventh night of Jane and Alexander having no playmates but each other other and sharing a room most nights.

One of the things I’m quite certain I got wrong was not having the kids share a room. I know that at this age they’d have to be split up already. If I could go back in time there isn’t a ton of parenting I’d like to change but this is a big one. I’d have taken my boy and my girl and I’d have put them in the same room until they asked for their own. I wouldn’t care if I had three bedrooms of thirteen.

On this vacation (like so many others we’ve taken) we all take turns running around with Alexander. Jane and Mr. G play football with him in the park, then Jane sits and reads a book while Mr. G and Alexander throw a baseball for eightybazillion hours. I rest under a tree or check out San Francisco’s Dahlia Garden, and then we buy some street food and head over to Union Square.

Jane Reading Pretty Little Liars under a tree in San Francisco

Jane and Mr. G are exhausted so I drag Alexander around for three more hours and wait for him to fade. It doesn’t happen quickly, but he does get a little tired of motion.

As Jane approaches thirteen she has left Alexander a bit. It used to be two kids and two adults trying to find activities, and now it’s sometimes three of us wanting to do something and then Jane is sent like a scout to convince Alexander to go along with it. She’s neither fish nor foul, certainly not an adult, certainly not a child (in her own eyes at least).

Jane and Alexander don’t seem to fight and bicker on vacation. In fact they enjoy each other more than ever, for this and this alone I’d pack up everything and become a nomad. The two people I love most in the world loving each other makes my heart swell and my eyes water.

He asks a lot of questions and he remembers the answers. Alexander is a smart little boy, sponge-like in his need to gather information. Unlike a sponge he is never full, and everything seems to be retained. At night when we put the kids to bed and over the whispers and giggles the constant that we hear is Alexander querying Jane. Her name is always part of a question, Jane? Can you… Do you… Would you…? And she dispenses information that may or may not be correct, but delights her brother. From the foyer that connects the rooms Mr. G and I eavesdrop and delight in our children. Both of them, for very different reasons.

I wish I could go back in time and give him many more years of rickety data and a shared bedroom.

10 Tips for Visiting Mammoth in the Summertime


I’m here on top of Mammoth Mountain. We’ve kayaked, we’ve ran through fields singing at dusk (keeps the bears away?), we’ve had wonderful food, played tennis, wandered aimlessly and now we’re off to try stand up paddle-boarding.

The hotel is good, their motto seems to be “it’s clean enough”. Everyone has their own space.

Here are ten things you should know about visiting Mammoth in the Summertime.

  1. If you stay in the Village Lodge there is no central air conditioning. They have a plug in unit that is mostly useless. Bring your own.
  2. If you are at the Village Lodge and you didn’t bring your own AC ask for a room that does not face the pool. Inward facing rooms have no breeze and the fountain is loud at night.
  3. Caldera Kayaks was the easiest way to get on the lake at a fair price.
  4. Bring your footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, everything really because the Park at Shady Rest will fill your day.
  5. Drink water like crazy I know it’s not a fourteener but it’s high and dry here.
  6. The Booky Joint in Mammoth is a bookstore you’re guaranteed to love.
  7. Use the public transportation, it’s a really great way to meet folks and find out what’s fun
  8. Do not let people give you directions, insist on an address and use your smartphone. Directions here are vague and for locals.
  9. Try a pizza at Giovanni’s but understand that pizza for one will feed two. The portions are massive and you aren’t skiing so you’re not that hungry.
  10. Take a shuttle into Yosemite and make it an all day trip. See the sights that inspired Ansel Adams.
  11. (this is your bonus tip) Do not roll your son’s fudge into a poop shape and leave it in the swimming pool overnight. Your son might accuse you of “ruining everything”
This is actually very delicious fudge


My Sister In Law Took My Baby


When Alexander was five months old and Jane was three, I took my kids to Seattle to visit my brother and his family. I booked the travel in August of 2001 and took the trip in October of 2001. I think everyone in America knows that that trip I’d planned was very different than the trip we took.

I’d planned that my husband would walk the kids and I to the gate, and that my brother would be waiting at the other end for us. I’d planned that the double stroller and the two car seats wouldn’t be much of an issue, and that security would be perfunctory since I was a young mother with two small children.

I hadn’t planned on slinging a carseat over each shoulder and having to taste my son’s formula.

So, on the second day of the trip when Alexander was fussing endlessly, and I was rocking him while gritting my teeth, my sister in law calmly stretched her arms out and rocked my son. She rocked him for an hour. He cried for an hour. My nerves were rattled, she was impossibly calm.

So when I hear about a flight attendant taking custody of a one year old child who is being smacked, I get it. I get it on every level. I know what it’s like to reach the end of your rope, but I don’t know what it’s like to reach it without support. I’ve had family within a five minute radius since I became a mother.

The next time I see a mom at wit’s end, instead of raising my brows, perhaps I’ll be like my sister in law and raise my hand to volunteer. Because sometimes holding someone else’s crying baby is like moving mountains.