Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The end….

Alright, 9 months after touching back down on US soil, it is time to say good-bye (for now!) to our 'overseas' label.

Clearly we loved being ex-pats & seeing the wide world as one big sociology project to explore….

 But now it's time to shift to our lens….

So - it's time for a new blog!

And specifically, an update on one of my favorite aspects of SF….

Here's to the 'sliding doors' that is life & looking forward to the adventure -near or far - along the way

Thursday, September 18, 2014

More new beginnings

We reluctantly said goodbye to a fab summer - ending on a high note in Minnesota & with a 'grand finale day' at 6 Flags….

The new school year kicked off with mixed enthusiasm & a forced front stoop photo….

One month in, what have we found?…... 

There are some fab schools in this city
All 3 kids consolidated into another new school this fall

The school is FAB & we're super excited to be there:

As a Creative Arts school they often take non-traditional, interesting approaches to typical subjects…shown painting in math class

And no plain, dingy halls in this joint…

They have weekly Community Meetings where X recently read his poem about California

And - even live animals in after care

That said, it did mean they all had to be 'new kids' once again.  

Fur DOES buy happiness
How to offset anxiety?  Soviet style - with fur….
Meet our new Russian dwarf hamster - purchased day 2 of school.    I wanted to name her Putin, but the kids protested - introducing 'Hazel'

Making your own rules is encouraged….
The kids' school subscribes to a "Responsive Classroom" philosophy - where kids are included in creating the rules.  

Some examples from Grade 2….

This 'make your own rules' mentality is contagious
Clearly the message has gotten out beyond the walls of the schools.    My favorite, recent sightings of 'doing it my way'….
A dancer on the corner not far fom us...

A dude casually walking about town on a Sunday afternoon...

(Forgive the photo quality - was so busy processing what we saw, I didn't have time to get the window down)
Uopn closer look…
(Yes - totally naked x-a sock like cover for his willy + sensible shoes & man bag)

New can be exhausting
While the bus comes just 2 blocks away, they are a steep 2 blocks….  
(waiting for the bus)

And by Friday, everyone's pretty limp…

Here's to the 'outside of the box' fostered at school & prevelant in SF - and a special hats off to all the teachers who help lead them there

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hometown nostalgia & Lolla uniforms

They say, never look back.  Returning home is complicated - full of mixed emotions and nostalgia.  While visiting our hometown Chicago we felt an emotional whip lash from many contrasts….

Happy reunions with favorites vs. the brutal “why did we leave in the first place?” interrogation from our 11 year old….

Not enough time with friends vs. too much water in the basement (again!)
(our 5th time replacing a basement floor - we're finally going 'waterproof wood')

Even the fab music festival – Lollapalooza – reflected contrasts with a super broad range of music but narrow range of outfits….

Seriously, the outfit trends were so consistent they appeared almost uniform….

Let's explore the components….

High waisted short shorts

Some with the legs for them...

But not required...

Even mother daughter...

Bare midriffs & skin..
A good 50% of the 14-28 year olds donned the bare midriff look

Some combined it with high waisted

Lots of visible undergarments...

Or none at all…

Thankfully this guy spared us the midriff...
(but I think we can all agree there was still a bit too much skin)

But, Speedo boy left little to the imagination... 
(While Chicago has been known to get opressively hot in the summer, I assure you the weather was not his motivation.   I had on long sleeves around this time)

70s hair
There were flower power headbands abound...

   Lots o long hair...

Even a braid to the butt...
(taken to the 70s next level via braless too)

The abundance of face & body glitter was hard to capture on film, but the jewels were more visible

OK - I'll admit - these ladies took the trends further than most 
(x my 'seriously boring by comparison' outfit)

With 'uniforms' like this, maybe it's not surprising to see which consumer goods company was flying their branded flag...
(Scroll in…….give up?……Trojan!)

We had a great time - making us again miss all that we love about Chicago

Here's to missing our hometown - consistently outfitted, floody - and most of all fab! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

9 Signs we're in San Francisco

Summer has been flying by in a flash - while many of our activities are the same, our surroundings have been decidedly San Francisco.
How so?

1) Expressive 
It's liberating to live in a city where truly any outfit goes - I think I might be the only one who notices what people put on….

Ouch - check out the earring...
Zoe got in the spirit with 'whacky hair day' at camp..

2) Non Swimmy Beaches
One needs to be tough to swim in San Francisco.  While we are surrounded by water, it's C-O-L-D and, in many cases, full of currants.    
Q & I found the warning sign surprisingly blunt

Our beach visits tend to skew to land based play...

3) Pet loving
If there were a 'typical' San Franciscan, it would certainly include a pet.   People bring them everywhere…

Yes, that's a dude with a parrot on his shoulder at our City Target!

And - hard to see - a biker with a dog in his backpack...

We even got to enjoy the love of the pet when this fellow literally fell into our yard
(In true SF style, it turns out 'Calvin' is shared between 2 moms and a dad.  The dad lives next door to us)

4) LGBT embracing
Expressions of support for alternative lifestyles & life partners are common
A pet store display….

A random home window….

And with June being Gay Pride month, the usually prominent rainbow flag got even more omnipresent

LGBT support is evolving to raise awaremess & tolerance for the transgender community
After seeing this newsstand ad, I had an interesting conversation with Zoe about options when people feel they were born the wrong gender ("if a boy thinks he should be a girl, then they could cut off their penis?!….").  

5) Homeless Welcome
Being a liberal city full of public support + a mild climate = an abundant supply of homeless:
Many make a living collecting cans for deposit money...
Others just look for tossed smoke stubs...

6) Seriously minority supportive
ADA ensures there are enough parking spaces for handicapped passengers + 
San Francisco wears its eco badge proudly  =
Electric car handicapped parking at the SF Zoo….
(surprised to hear the spot was vacant?!)

7) Random Neighbors
We're happy to have neighborly businesses flanking us to accept packages when we are not home.   Of course, reciprocate when we can.   Given one neighbor does colonics, the packages can be interesting…..

8) Free-cycling
You often see furniture or bags of clothes / goods set out on the curb for others to take (& they often do).  My favorite spotting of late….
What to do with a giant faux-phone?   
(He planned to take it to Burning Man!)

9) European Visitors
OK, let's be honest - there are 2 cities in the US Europeans tend to visit first (NY & SF).  Being in one of these brought us our first visitors from abroad - Egle & Kestes!
(They made it from Lithuania for just a week - so the rest of you Europeans do not need a full month off to make it to the States.  Come visit!)

Within this wacky, fun city, our summer days look pretty typical

Art / dance camp for Zoe…

Chess camp for Xavier…

'PE camp' for the boys…

Outdoor adventures…

Here's to new normals & a wonderfully wacky San Francisco