Sunday, July 31, 2011

She's alive!

After a handful of text messages and one 4-minute phone call over the past 3 weeks, we have photographic evidence that Annabelle really is attending classes at her summer art program at Cal Arts.
Yes, proof!

Here's the one pic we found of Annabelle on the CSSSA website.
Her two roommates are on either side.
We pick her up on Aug 5.
I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prepare for launch.

When our oldest daughter got the good news that she’d been accepted to a pre-college summer art program in Southern California, I was both thrilled and also a little panicked about our girl going away for a month.

The length of time alone was hard to swallow. We’re talking about our first baby. For the past 17 years she’d never been out of my sight for more than a week, let alone 30 days. She’d be 300 miles away — what if Something Happened? What if she needed me? Even worse, what if she didn’t need me?

What could I do to overcome my separation anxiety? Get busy.

I started pre-packing and pre-sorting, then actual packing and sorting, along with a hefty dose of list-making. I consulted the school’s packing list. I looked at packing lists from the year before. I created my own custom packing list. This kid was going to be prepared with a capital P.

The week before she left I spent about three days doing nothing but her laundry. Now, I knew her dorm building had a room full of washers and dryers, but the mother in me could not rest unless I deposited her in LA with at least two duffel bags full of clean clothes.

On registration day, we checked our daughter into her dorm room, complete with the familiar mint- green plastic-covered mattresses, laminated faux wood dresser, battle-scarred desks and painted cinderblock walls.

We had packed enough snacks and art supplies to send her on an Arctic art expedition, but once we were in the room, making futile attempts to help her unpack, I was seized with the compulsion to head straight to the nearest Walmart for more provisions.

Grabbing a cart at Walmart, we started tossing in all kinds of stuff that until that moment Make Do Mom would have said was completely unnecessary.

Twenty-four bottles of blue Gatorade! A pink plastic spray bottle with attached fan! Scotch tape! A container of 330 Red Vines licorice!

A mother’s instinct is to provide for her offspring, so if my kid said she absolutely must have a new white board to stick on the outside of her dorm door for her friends to leave goofy late-night messages, then by God she shall have it!

I wasn’t alone in this feeling. The next aisle over, my husband was eyeing a box of 24 microwave macaroni and cheese meals. I tried to reason with him.

The school is feeding them three times a day, I said.

He moved to another aisle where he tried to share his wisdom about shower caddies, but she wasn’t listening to him. We were already becoming obsolete.

Heading back to the dorm, we met our daughter’s two other roommates, also moving in. Three sets of parents and the three girls all crowded into the dorm room.

I could see I wasn’t the only parent who had been struck by the idea to stock up on “essentials.” On the dorm room counter were two new bottles of hand sanitizer, a second tub of 330 Red Vines, a box of Wet Wipes and another 48 bottles of water. There were bags and bags of chips, pretzels and cookies. There were three fans, three study lamps and a stack of at least two dozen towels.

Not only were these girls set for the next four weeks, they could also serve as a relief station in case of a major earthquake or Armageddon.

As if we could tell that we had already outgrown our usefulness, we moms started inventing urgent tasks to do like hanging up towels, sorting bathroom supplies, suggesting where suitcases could be stored and where fans should be positioned for maximum cooling effect. Nobody wanted to be the first to leave.

After a quick goodbye where I managed not to cry in front of her new roommates, my husband and I got back in our car, just the two of us, and headed out of the school parking lot.

I shook my head like I almost couldn’t believe we had just left her there, alone, with 514 other kids.

Yes, we had left her with everything she could possibly need, and more. But we left behind something that I would need — in exactly 29 days.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Allie cheers!

These are pics from Allie's first cheer camp. The girls were shipped off for 4 days to UC Davis for this cheer training and competition.

One highlight of the event was the team winning The Big Banana!
Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like... a giant banana.
I think it's an award for the most spirit....

Go girls!

Dad gives his girl a hug after her routine...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Senior Triple Self-Portrait, 2011

Annabelle's senior portrait...

and the inspiration.... (note white rag in her pocket as well!)

Norman Rockwell Triple Self-Portrait, 1960

Our winner...

Allie at the mic

Allie gives a short speech at a YLI scholarship ceremony. We were THRILLED that she won a scholarshiop towards her high school expenses!

Turns out those YLI ladies are a fun bunch. They hosted an ice cream social for the three young winners and a woman played Beatles and patriotic tunes on an organ during the reception.
I had never heard "We all live in a yellow submarine" on an organ before!
Not bad!

Friday, July 15, 2011

C'est Chic!

Cheap chic: $1.25 straw tote from Target accessorized with vintage Hermes scarf (handmedown from a friend.)
Nothing like a cute summer bag to put a smile on your face...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summertime, and the living isn't easy...

Napa Valley Register
Monday, July 11

It was barely two weeks into summer vacation, and the girls were already at each other’s throats and driving work-at-home Dad crazy.

I had it easy. I was at my nice neat desk at the newspaper every day, with my phone and my coffee. I only had one thing to do — my job. The only person bugging me was my editor and he’s easily placated with the promise of a story or two.

Meanwhile, Dad was at home trying to drag two teenagers out of bed before 11 a.m., break up the fights, get someone — anyone — to clean up the kitchen, all while running a business at the same time.

So the fact that he was getting a little overwhelmed was no big surprise.

I had to get those kids out of the house, and fast. The library and parks are fine for a bit. A movie eats up some time, but eventually they needed a place to send them for at least half the day.

That’s when Grandma and Grandpa came to the rescue. Well, their house did.

The Napa grandparents had headed out of town for a two-week road trip, leaving middle daughter in charge of watering the houseplants.

One afternoon, we were over at Grandma’s house watering the ferns and checking the mail.

It’s so nice and quiet here, I thought. There’s no one fighting, no one stomping up and down the stairs, no one knocking at Dad’s office door.

And that’s when it hit me. Camp Huffman was about to get a whole new home.

Tomorrow morning, you’re all going to Grandma’s, I told the girls later that night.

But Grandma is on vacation, they said.

Exactly, I said. You can have the whole house to yourselves. Just don’t hurt anyone or light anything on fire.

They thought about it for a minute.

OK, they said.

I’ll bring my craft stuff, one said.

I’ll bring some movies, another said.

I’ll bring my pillow, someone said.

The next morning, we piled in the car for a short ride over the hills to Grandma’s house. At least one still had her jammies on.

I let the girls in. They promptly went to the pull-out couch, opened the bed, and piled on top with their blankets. The oldest went back to sleep.

I went to work. About an hour later, my husband called me.

It’s so quiet here, he said. This is great. How much longer are your parents going to be away?

Around lunchtime, I called the girls.

How’s it going, I said.

Good, said the youngest. We’re eating waffles and watching movies, she said.

Camping out at Grandma’s when Grandma isn’t home is great. There’s no one bossing them around, they have the run of the house to themselves, and better yet, no one was pestering them to clean up at the end of the day.

When I picked them up after work, I asked them what else they did that day.

We ate all the ice cream, and then we went outside and found some deer poop on the deck, said one daughter.

We watched your wedding video, said another. You were funny, Mom, she said.

Thanks, I said. I think that was a compliment.

What’s the plan for tomorrow?, I asked.

Cupcakes, they said. We’re going to dye the frosting pink and the batter blue.

At that point, I would have said yes to almost anything, just to maintain the newly kid-free zone at home. I didn’t think about sugary sprinkles sticking on the floor. I didn’t think about scrubbing cupcake trays. I didn’t care how many of those cupcakes they would eat in one day.

Great, I said. Save one for Grandma.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Annabelle at CSSSA!

Annabelle just started a four week pre college animation art program at Cal Arts in Valencia. Known as CSSSA (California Summer School for the Arts), she has moved into the Cal Arts dorms with 500 other talented high school arts students.

Here are some pictures from her first day.
(I would have taken more but I was told to STOP taking so many pictures.)
In this pic Annabelle is pointing to room 113, which is supposedly where Pixar Studios was "born." She insisted we see the room and take her pic!

This is her dorm room.
There are three girls to each room with a shared bath between two rooms.
The entry to each room is a small tiled area with a kitchen counter but no appliances.
It was hot the day we moved her in BUT the rooms do have A/C!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Her life is a doodle...

Each CSSSA student is asked to bring a piece of art for a student show.
I told Annabelle she should bring this but she said no, "It's just a doodle."