Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm totally biased but...

I think my daughter is an amazing artist!
Here's one of her portfolio pieces for art school.
Yeah, Annabelle!

Friday, August 26, 2011

First Day of School – 2011

First day of school 2011!

Can you see the joy joy joy on their faces?

Allie was NOT in a mood for photos.
I had to beg for her to pose.
I wanted to scream.

At least Ava will still smile when I ask.
She is holding up 6 fingers for 6th grade.
Allie and Annabelle flat out refused to hold up 9 fingers for 9th grade or a 1 and a 2 for 12th grade.

I'm going to remember this GIRLS!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Boys will be boys

As mom of three girls, I think I pretty much have the girl thing down pat. I can make a half-decent ponytail. I know who the newest American Girl doll is. I’ve refereed Edward vs. Jacob “Twilight” arguments. I know how to properly evaluate the amount of makeup a new teenager is wearing when attempting to leave the house.

But there’s one kind of kid that is completely alien to me.

Little boys.

I have zero on-the-job experience with little boys. Never had one. Grew up with a brother, but I spent most of my childhood avoiding him. There aren’t many boys around our immediate family either. The majority of the cousins on both sides of the family are all girls.

I was reminded of just how low my boy IQ is when my brother and nephew came to Napa for a visit last week.

They had recently moved back to California from out of state, and I’d only met the little guy one or two times. But here he was at Grandma’s house in Napa, 5 years old and all boy.

One of the first things my nephew did was discover the hill behind Grandma’s house.

The Napa granddaughters might see the shrubs and bushes on the hill as a place where little fairies or other Disneyesque woodland creatures might live. There’s a spot of earth covered with dried leaves. It’s nothing remarkable — unless you’re a boy. To this boy, that patch of dirt was pure gold.

With his Tonka trucks and his enthusiastic engine noises, our nephew/cousin transformed that patch of dirt into his personal playland. He spent hours on the hill. An entire world was created with him as the construction supervisor, site manager and heavy equipment operator.

I had to admire his work. With assistance from dad, my nephew had leveled off a section, built a berm to prevent the fleet of trucks from rolling down the hill, and was using one dozer to claw further into the earth for more excavation.

The girl cousins were enthralled by him. Their only boy cousin, he’s practically the little brother they never had. All three gamely joined him in the dirt. He was the king of the hill and they were his loyal subjects.

I know it’s no big surprise, but little boys are different than little girls.

For one thing, they’re not afraid to get dirty. My little nephew sat in the dirt. He rubbed his hands back and forth in the dirt to make a cloud of “steam.” He patted his head with his hands after shoveling handfuls of dirt into the one Tonka truck. He all but rolled in the dirt.

The mom in me couldn’t help but think about laundry detergent and pre-wash stain treatments as I watched him taking a dirt bath.

After dinner (and a real bath), he started to scoot around the house on his hands and knees. Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, he said.

He’s in puppy mode, one daughter said. He can do that for hours.

It’s easy to play along with a 5-year-old boy. Just use your imagination.

What a cute puppy you are, I said.

I petted his “puppy” head.

I scratched his “puppy” back.

He rolled over and wriggled like a little puppy. He was awfully cute.

I shot some video of the girls with their cousin and as I played it back for him, he came over to sit on my lap. His little legs dangled over mine. I put my arms around him.

I had forgotten how cuddly a 5-year-old can be.

I guess little boys aren’t so bad after all.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Me me me time...

Pam Reid, the Register's most dedicated postcard correspondent,
gave me a piece o' her mind about my latest column.

In case you can't read her writing:

"Jennifer Huffman:
Sorry, but your ungrateful daughter cannot be excused for deliberately prolonging her mom's separation anxiety. A part of her growing-up obligations requires her to set aside her me-me-me time to call and talk with Mom --- & Dad who are the primary "givers" who gave her all this me-time. For your daughter to add insult to injury by placing a prank call deserves a sincere apology from the little darling. Texting is not a substitute for a voice-connecting phone call & this daughter should be made aware that robotical communications(*) with family is unacceptable.

Pam Reid"

* I don't think Pam knows what "butt-dialing" really is.

Friday, August 19, 2011

First day of high school!

I was allowed to take a few pictures of Allie on her first day of high school...

After dropping her off, I went into "stealth mode" to capture a few more images.

Allie's biggest hiccup is working the lock on her locker.

After the first day she sort of gave up, which means she carries all her books from class to class. Not sure how long that will last.

When she realized I was documenting her efforts, I was banned from the school grounds.

That's not a friendly "hello mom."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bday breakfast

My favorite spot for a morning treat is Bouchon Bakery in Yountville... so I knew exactly where I wanted to get a birthday coffee and treat last week....

My colleague Kevin and I people watch at Bouchon. Then it was back to work.

Dan the Man

My brother and my nephew Danny visited this past week.
He is a No. 1 cutie patootie!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Can you hear me now?

It was the third week of our daughter being away at her pre-college summer art program when I first noticed the symptoms.

I feel weird, I told my husband. Am I getting a summer cold? Coming down with a fever?

Nope, none of the above. I think I felt strange because a piece of our family was missing.

A mother can only take separation for so long. There comes a certain point when she needs, physically needs, her children. Call it Mom Withdrawal.

We had been texting with our girl every other day or so, but I had only been able to actually talk to her once. Funny, it seemed like every time I called, she couldn’t answer the phone.

“In the (theater/class/cafeteria). Can’t talk now,” she’d text back.

Talking to her mother was obviously not at the top of her priority list — imagine that.

My husband and I pored over the text messages that we did get like they were hieroglyphics.

Naturally, they lacked all the detail a mother craves.

What’s it like sharing a bathroom with six other girls? What did you eat for dinner last night? Did you eat dinner last night? Have you done any laundry yet? Are you wearing your retainer?

She didn’t ask about us. She didn’t ask about her sisters. She didn’t even ask about her dog.

I tried sending loaded text messages to try and get a reaction.

“Just put $50 into your account.”

“Your sister is riding your bike.”

“I’m cleaning out your room.”


It was like trying to start a relationship with someone who is just not that into you.

I can relate. When I started college, my parents dropped me off at my dorm room and I did not look back. I resisted seeing them again for as long as possible. Go home for a visit? What — and miss all this fun?

In some ways, it’s been easy having her gone. There’s no fighting, no arguing about doing summer homework assignments, Saturday cleaning or sharing anything with her sisters. I got a welcome break from our mother-daughter driving lessons.

I don’t have to worry about her. She’s safe. She’s (theoretically) in her dorm room by curfew, with the lights out at 11 p.m. She’s fed three times a day from an all-you-can-eat buffet and make-your-own-sandwich bar. Someone else is in charge of her day-to-day self, which takes the mom responsibility out of my hands. It’s refreshing, but a little sad at the same time.

I can’t wait to see her again, but that also means I’ll be back on the job. After four weeks of being mom-free, Miss Independent may not take this so well.

I’m not sure how I’ll take it either. I should take bets on how long the parent-daughter reunion honeymoon will last. Three, maybe four hours? Somewhere near Fresno, about halfway home?

After weeks of sporadic texts and that one call, my phone lit up the other night.

It was her! Actually calling me!

I grabbed my phone.

Hello! I said excitedly. How are you?!

There was a buzz of conversation on the other end.

Hello? I said. Hello?

I could hear more voices, but no one replied.

Are you there? I said. Can you hear me?

Then I got it.

My own daughter butt-dialed me.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


We picked up Annabelle at CSSSA this weekend and she gave us a tour of her campus before we left....

One of the coolest things about the Cal Arts campus is that the students are allowed to graffiti anywhere on the walls inside the bottom floor of the main building.

This is actually a brilliant idea -- give students a place where they can graffiti all over the walls and they won't be as tempted to graffiti on all the other walls!