Random Thoughts

Oscar Band

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Welcome to September’s installment of my random thoughts. I can’t believe we’re in the last week of September already! This month has been a life changer for sure. Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments.

– So we only have four kids at home now. But you may remember, we’ve actually had a four-kids experience during the fall of 2014, when Ralph and Olive went to France for a semester. But this definitely feels different. Because of the ages and stages of our two oldest, this feels so much more permanent. Like Ralph and Maude may not ever really move back. Just a summer break here or there. Or coming home between projects. Still hard for me to wrap my head around.

– Now that Olive is the oldest one at home, one of the first changes I noticed is that the music has changed. With Ralph and Maude no longer adding their playlists to the mix, pretty much all we hear lately is Hamilton. Hah! Olive happens to be obsessed with Hamilton at the moment. Are you familiar with it? It’s the latest, greatest, impossible-to-get-tickets-to Broadway show.

This has been a reminder of how much my kids influence what I listen to. Is that true at your house? Do you like the music your kids like?

– Another change: the kids are already talking about switching up rooms. Oscar Betty & June are thinking about rooming together, which means Olive would have a chance to have her own room. It’s fun to think about how we can revamp the bedrooms — especially because we wouldn’t need to move walls or update electricity this time around — it would just be decor, which is much more enjoyable for me. But I told them we need to wait until we know for sure if Maude is heading back in January.

– This weekend, I took advantage of the Elfa sale going on at the Container Store and ordered shelves and drawers and hanging rods for the new Master Bedroom closet. I did a bunch of research on closet organizers and the consensus was that Elfa was the way to go. Have you ever used it or tried it? This is my first time. Our supplies get delivered this week and I’m crossing my fingers that the install will happen this weekend. So excited to have a closet again! (Which reminds me, I need to give more updates on the construction! We’re nearing the end.)

– Related to my current lack of closet, I’ve ended up accidentally having a capsule wardrobe for the last 3 months. When I packed up for our summer in France, I stored everything else because of the construction. But I’ve been home for a month and I’m still using only what I packed for the summer — because everything else is still inconveniently stored.

It’s been interesting to have limited choices and makes me curious about keeping a minimal wardrobe. But one thing I’ve noticed is that my clothes are experiencing much more wear and tear than they normally would. After 3 months, many pieces need to be replaced. Have any of you tried a capsule collection? Is it normal to have to replace items quarterly?

– I didn’t mention it at the time because I was totally pre-occupied with other things, but a few days before Ralph left on his mission, we took the family to Disneyland for a couple of days. Many years ago, when there were only 5 kids and we lived in New York, we took them to Disneyworld once. (The younger ones don’t remember that trip at all, and the older ones only have a few memories.) And once, a couple of years ago, Maude and Olive got to go to Disneyland for their cousin’s birthday.

But we’ve never taken the whole family to Disneyland before. This is surprising to me because a) we live in California, and b) Disneyland played an influential role in my childhood. I love it there and went many, many times as a kid. And I assumed I would take my family many times as well. But somehow we haven’t.

It was a short trip during a busy time, but I really wanted to fit it in. I think I was trying to give my older kids one last “childhood experience”. And I also wanted to make sure the younger kids had Disneyland memories that included the older kids.

I’m so glad we went! It was as wonderful as I remembered. Actually better even, because I had never been to the California Adventure park. As a bonus, we were there on a really good week. We went the Tuesday and Wednesday after after Labor Day and the park was (relatively) empty.

– A little hair update: I’ve decided to try going gray. I’ve had 2 haircuts since we arrived home and didn’t color my hair at either one. My stylist think the gray will be completely trimmed off in maybe 2 more haircuts (that’s about 2 months). I’m curious to see how it will look. I know I might hate it, and bring back the dye. But who knows?

I’m also very curious to try a high-quality wig. I think I would like the option of switching my hairstyle in an instant. I’ve been doing some research and it turns out wigs are a whole world I know nothing about. Have you ever worn one? Not as a costume, but as everyday hair?

– Last Tuesday, Oscar played the trumpet with this school band at the Oakland A’s game. They played the National Anthem to open the game. Many of the kids have been following the NFL protests and felt conflicted about this performance, so during the last line of the song about 75 or 80% of the band members — including Oscar — took a knee in protest while they continued to play. The crowd gave a big cheer and it was covered in our local news. (I saw on Facebook today that it’s now going viral.)

– In other Oscar news, he was just cast as Tiny Tim in the musical Scrooge! He’s very excited. It’s happening on a big stage in a huge auditorium and he has a solo song. He is so into it! He’s had a realization that his small size is an advantage in this instance. He has the confidence and experience of an older kid, but looks like a younger kid. (As we get closer, I’ll announce dates of the play for any locals you might want to attend. Tickets are free!)

I think that’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to anything here, or bring up your own topic. I always love hearing what’s on your minds!

P.S. — I post my random thoughts each month. You can find them all here.

57 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. Two things-
    I have worn a capsule wardrobe for the past year or so and yes, I find that my clothes wear out much more quickly- usually around the 6 month mark, depending on the item. I’m also buying fairly inexpensive clothing though, so that plays into it too. But I love the fact that I never really have time to get tired of anything because I usually end up wearing it out first! For my current phase of life, it works really well- “someone accidentally wrote on my pants with red marker again? Oh well, they would have had holes in the knees in a month anyway!” :)
    Also, I just saw an article in the October issue of Real Simple magazine that featured varying ages of women with gray hair and their hair was all so beautiful that it made me want to try letting all my gray show. I’m hesitant because of my age, but they just made it look so sophisticated!

  2. Gabby,

    I think a couple of people have already asked, but are you going to do a What to Wear series this year? It’s so interesting to see how the styles change from year to year!

    1. Hi Vikki. I’m actually not sure. We got home from France and then went back to school so quickly that we didn’t do our usual back-to-school shopping. Instead, we’ve just been buying things here and there as needed. I’ll talk to the kids and see what they think.

  3. I love these updates! It’s so fun to read about the latest happenings :)

    I felt compelled to post because I have an Elfa closet set up. I’ve used it in 3 different homes so far (I’m a renter at this point) and it’s always useful. It’s amazing how it works in vastly different spaces too. I hope you find it to your liking!

  4. I LOVE wigs! My mother has been wearing them for years. As I’ve grown older, and become busier with kids and life, I’ve found wigs to be great fun. I started wearing one daily in May and loved the look. Just last week, I set it aside and am wearing my natural, African American hair and having great fun with a short, sassy new look. I still keep 3 wigs in my arsenal for special occasions. I thinking I may try wearing another one daily around the holidays because, WHY NOT???

    1. My sis in law has short blond hair and loves her long wigs (brunette and red) for date nights and trips–but recently had a funny moment where someone at church came up to her to confide that they’d seen her husband at a restaurant with a brunette and they were worried about her marriage :-)

    2. We are totally channeling the same brain waves, L. I think being able to change my hair up daily would be fun. Why not is right!

      And Anita, your sis-in-law’s story is hilarious. Related, ever since I’ve had my first iPhone (way back in New York), I’ve had Ben Blair’s number listed as Lover in my contacts. This causes funny looks every once in awhile, like when someone at a conference borrowed my phone and saw a call for Lover come through. : )

  5. I went grey a year ago and find it freeing. No more hours in the beauty shop no more buying hair dye and all the stuff that goes with it no more looking in the mirror to see if the roots will go another few days. The down side? Not all of the colors I liked before look good now so some wardrobe update was required. I just pretty much had my head shaved and let it all grow in. My hair grows fast so it was not a big thing to me. I am maybe 30 years older than you are, not so sure I would have done it that young but if i had as much grey then as I do now I might have. Wigs, not so much I think they are hot and if there is one thing that makes me nuts above all other things it is sweaty hair. Oh and then I had some platimum streaks put in at the top, they can be flopped around for different effects Go for it you can always buy another box of haircolor.

  6. Gabrielle, would love to read more about your capsule wardrobe. Love the idea and have been experimenting with it myself, so would love to see what your capsule wardrobe looked/looks like!

  7. I’m so impressed Oscar took the knee at the National Anthem! I can’t believe how many people (according to my fb feed) are up in arms about this. America definitely has work to do, and that’s not being disrespectful, that’s just constructive criticism. That being said, there’s no way to get away without hand to heart in Texas right now (I’ve always been a stand at attention person myself, but ooooh noooo, not now).

  8. Fun random thoughts + updates :) Can’t wait to see your closet/bathroom when it’s done! As for a minimal wardrobe, I wouldn’t consider my wardrobe to be of capsule-sized but I have been in the process of Konmari-ing my closet for the last year and tend to wear a small selection of items 90% of the time (probably potential for a capsule in there!). I don’t have body odor (might sound impossible to some but it’s true!) so I don’t wash my clothes unless there is a stain or smell to it (from cooking or sitting by a campfire) or is getting shapeless from multiple wears. I also hang-dry my clothes since dryer heat can speed up wear on a piece of clothing and is especially destructive to anything with elastic/stretch material. I do try to buy garments made with good/resilient materials as well. Between those two things, I actually have only retired one piece of clothing due to wear in my adult years and it was a pair of jeans that I wore until it was naturally ripping apart and I tried patching it but then I wore through that :)

    1. For sure I’m not taking special care of the clothes I’ve been wearing — mostly because I didn’t know they would need to be worn this intensely. But I agree that I could make them last longer with better care.

  9. for Olive-Hamilton documentary on PBS…
    “Premieres Friday, October 21 at 9 – 10:30 p.m. on PBS

    Hamilton’s America, the documentary film that brings history to vivid life through the lens of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pop culture Broadway phenomenon Hamilton – winner of 11 Tony Awards® and the Pulitzer Prize — explodes onto THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, Friday, October 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS as the season premiere of the PBS Arts Fall Festival. (Check local listings.)”

  10. I am interested in hearing others’ thoughts on the capsule wardrobe too. Because of my current small living space I have a limited wardrobe and I have noticed more wear and tear. I thought maybe it was because I didn’t buy super high end or because I have kids? Meaning I’m up and down on the floor frequently, including crawling.

  11. When I read on fb about the marching band taking a knee, I was so proud to learn they were from Oakland (I’m a local)! I think it’s important to remember that kids are also affected by our political and cultural climate. It’s also important for kids to learn how to have the courage to express themselves, have conversations and understand what’s going on in the world. Whether they knelt or remained standing, there was something going on in the heart and mind of each one of those kids.

  12. I wore wigs for nearly a year during cancer treatment…and I have to say, I did not hate it! (the wigs that is….the cancer stuff was no good!). They make really realistic wigs these days. However, the more realistic they are, the pricier they get (real human hair wigs can be in the thousands of dollars…yikes!). Obviously human hair wigs are great because you can style them just as you would normal hair (this can be a blessing or a curse depending on whether or not you like styling your hair!). Synthetic wigs are great because they are less expensive and generally “wash and wear”….you buy them in a style you like and they bounce back into shape after you wash them….it’s pretty amazing (can’t use heat styling tools on these ones though). I had a real hair wig and a synthetic wig and enjoyed wearing both! It’s nice to feel instantly ready in the morning ;)

    If you are considering getting one at all, I really recommend finding a ocal lwig shop and trying some on to get an idea about what styles/colors you like, and to see how they feel on your head (I adjusted pretty quickly to wearing one but it can be odd at first!). Even if you decide not to get one, it’s fun to try them on! :)

  13. I’m 53 and just decided to go gray a few weeks ago! I began to seriously gray in my early 20’s and have been coloring my hair for 30 years. I realized that I ‘m just really tired of it. Also, I just feel a shift in my attitude, as I embrace graceful aging. About an inch has grown out so far (I have a short chin length bob) and I think my hair will end up being really white. I’m hoping to feel strengthened by this life transition. We will have to update each other on our progress.
    I’ve started to pin lovely roll models on a Pinterest board called Gracedu Aging.

  14. I am so impressed by Oscar and his classmates! What a way to respectfully take a stand and use your platform. Bravo. #thekidsarealright

    Also, Hamilton is the best.

  15. Hooray for Oscar and his band-mates for showing the courage to openly take a stand (ahem…knee)!

    Also, going grey really is freeing! Personally, it took me some time to get used to my grey, but I was only about 33 when the front streak started. I now have a full on grey streak that cannot hide. It is what it is. It’s me.

  16. I love the updates about your hair choices (short, platinum, gray) but wonder if you could do a post about hair loss. I’ve noticed thinning hair in the past year and have been unsuccessful in figuring out what to do about it (tried the standard product for 8 months and never saw new growth and think I actually lost hair). Your readers have such great thoughts that I’d love to hear what they, and you, have to say if anything.

  17. I have been growing out my (prematurely) gray hair for about 4 months now (since giving birth to my 2nd child). I’m only 38, so I definitely have some conflicting feelings about it, but so far it feels pretty liberating overall. I wish I was brave enough to chop off my hair… it’s going to be a rough few months (years?!) hair-wise. Yikes! Can’t wait to know how you eventually feel about your hair after it’s all gray. I’m sure you’ll rock it!

  18. For Olive: Hamilton’s America, the documentary film that brings history to vivid life through the lens of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pop culture Broadway phenomenon Hamilton – winner of 11 Tony Awards® and the Pulitzer Prize — explodes onto THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, Friday, October 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS as the season premiere of the PBS Arts Fall Festival. (Check local listings.)

  19. I am a huge elfa fan. We just moved from the East Bay to the Midwest and our elfa came with us. As another poster said, it’s incredibly versatile and we are also using it in our third (and for some components, fourth(!)) house. It also holds a lot of weight which I love and it’s super easy to change around as your needs (or moods) change. I definitely prefer the solid shelves over the wire though. I had a professional organizing business for years (and may soon have one again) and elfa was often something I recommended to my clients as well. Let us know how it works for you.

  20. I’m also interested in a post about your capsule wardrobe.
    Do you put your clothes in the dryer? That makes them age much quicker. We line dry everything, and my clothes last much longer than when I used a dryer in the past.

    1. I’ll think about writing more about it. I’m hesitant because it was so unintentional. I feel like if I would want to put more thought into the items if I was really trying to stick to a capsule collection.

  21. Yes to the wigs!!! Revolutionary for date nights and weddings. Even the mid priced ones kanelon fibre or good synthetics are passable for real hair as long as there is some fringe.

    1. In my head, wigs seem so convenient, with less time spent on hair care and maintenance (though these days my hair care couldn’t be more minimal — no more blowouts needed).

  22. I was SO excited to read about your hair!! I have been scouring sites lately for inspiration because I am 45 and, after years of mulling, finally made the decision about 3 months ago to stop dyeing my hair. I am still in the early stages, but from the moment I made the definitive decision I have felt great about it and really excited. Plus it genuinely looks nice! There seems to be a bit of an “embrace the grey” movement at the moment and I cannot wait to see how it goes for you! Keep us posted.

  23. Hi I was really interested to read about Oscar! As it reminded me of my oldest regarding “confidence and experience of an older kid, but looks like a younger kid”. When my son was 14 we even had him tested if his growth hormones were ok and his hand xrayed. Turned out, everything was fine, only he was 3 years behind with his growth process — meaning as a 14yr old he looked like a 11 year old. But he got really good parts on stage at school/amateur productions using his small size as an advantage (Michael in Peter Pan etc.). Now at 20 he has caught up with growing but still has to fill out .-)) like a 17year old) But still getting parts as an extra at the opera here in Hamburg now – due to younger looking…..All the best to Oscar and the production!

  24. Hurrah for going gray! Really, anything that simplifies my routines is a plus. Ditching hair dyes sounds healthier too.

    I’ve used a capsule wardrobe for a couple years and the key is to buy high quality clothes (my fall/winter wardrobe is higher quality than spring/summer, but my S/S wardrobe is catching up slowly as I replace cheaper items with quality). Additionally, even high quality clothing has to be cared for properly – which means I hang dry a lot of my clothes after washing in cold water. I’ve had a couple tops eventually wear out, but by then I really know I’ve got all the value and wear out of them that I can and it feels “right” to retire and replace them.

  25. I just love these updates!

    Bravo to all those embracing the grey! I am 25 and have a lot of greys. Until about 2 years ago I was plucking them out, but since then have come to embrace them. I stated that there are much worse things than grey hair (first: no hair, which is the path I’m on anyways!) I recently got to know somebody going through an eye disease that is leading him towards blindness. He is 26 and already lost his peripheral vision and nighttime vision. Wow, if he can keep on keeping on, and be positive about it, the LEAST I can do is embrace my early greying.

  26. It can be fun to reorganize (except I seem to be doing it often…maybe it’s really de-clutteirng that I’m doing!) and I have used the Elfa drawers from Container Store. I have not had great luck with them tho. The pieces (screws and fasteners) tend to fall off (into my daughter’s closet.) What other stores did you research? I’m curious. I hope the Elfa works for you!

  27. About 1.5 years ago, at the age of 42, I embraced my greys and haven’t looked back. It’s been very liberating and the bevy of compliments have been very flattering! I have to say, overall it has given me more confidence and the grey just feels right. Good luck!

  28. I’m late in responding, but I just wanted to share my opinion that the act of kneeling during our national anthem is disrespectful. We stand during the anthem as an act of reverence and remembrance of the great events and people that shaped our blessed nation. The anthem gives Americans a short moment to think about and acknowledge the sacrifices of those before us. Yes…police violence and injustice is real. But, how does the act of kneeling eradicate injustice? Colin Kaepernick finds it so easy to talk about black injustice while he himself greatly benefits from the opportunities America offers. America is not perfect, opportunities are not perfectly spread among all people, and people are not perfect. However, I think the further America gets from it’s roots, from it’s history, the worse things will get. Refusing to stand for the anthem is one way we’re pulling away from our sacred history.

    1. I have to agree and add that if my child had been in the band, I would have been proud of him to be in the 20% that remained standing in respect to our nation and our national anthem. His father is in the US Army. The flag and the national anthem represent the country his father is pledged to defend.

  29. We have Elfa in all of our bedroom closets and I don’t think we’ll ever do something different. The install is super-easy and we love that they can be rearranged as needed. Tip: put the main bracket (the one that runs horizontal and that the vertical stays hang off of) all the way at the top of the wall, next to the ceiling. There’s a stud that runs horizontally up there, so you won’t need to use anchors.

    As for wigs, I haven’t worn them personally, but my mom wears them daily, as she has Alopecia Universalis and lost all of her hair 10.5 years ago. Her best wigs are Raquel Welch brand. Whenever she gets a new wig, my mom sews up the cap so that it fits properly (her head is so tiny that even the XS is a bit too large) and then goes to her old stylist to have it cut. I agree with others that going to a wig store to try them on is a great way to figure out what will work best for you. Once you know that, you can order replacements online.

  30. Whem we lived in a small apt in CA I got an Elfa work station for my bedroom to create some office space in the few feet at the end of the bed. I loved it and it’s amazing how much storage space I got out of it with a customized are for my printer, etc. All designed to fit around my IKEA desk. It was heavenly. Unfortunately for my Elfa unit we moved into a house with 16-20 ft ceilings and mostly windows on all the walls which is beautiful but doesn’t leave anywhere practical for Elfa. But I have it all nearly stored for the next place I find to install it. Lastly yes right now I am living on a capsule add robe and it definitely wears out faster. I have hammered a lot of clothing this summer!

  31. We are going to take our boys to Disneyland for the first time this fall. We’re planning to spend the night and go for 2 days. I was wondering if you found any sites with tips, hints or deals to recommend. Thanks!

  32. Okay, I just got teary when I read about Oscar taking a knee–kids are really incredible and have this gift of breaking through the rhetoric and understanding the heart of an issue. Good for them!

    And, I have been (more or less) living with a capsule wardrobe for a year now and I. love. it. It is so easy to get dressed in the morning, to pack, to not feel the temptation to buy more and more (and still have “nothing to wear”). I do not wash my clothes every time I wear them–only if I have a spill or something “smells”, so wearing out has not been a problem. Except for white shirts. Which, as much as I love them, I refuse to spend much money on because they always look terrible after three months. And, air drying helps a lot, too.

  33. I have been wearing a really tight capsule wardrobe for several years now and have to agree that things wear out much faster. It took me quite a while to adjust my mind to the realization that things wouldn’t have a life of a couple of years or so, but they literally only last months. That is really the downside for me as I hate shopping. However, it is really liberating when I shop because I really only focus on what I need to replace and don’t get distracted by all the other things. It makes dressing much easier, and traveling and packing is very simple. In time I will expand the capsule but for now it works really well for me and saves me so much time. I do think that the most important part of creating this kind of wardrobe is to make sure what you are wearing really speaks to who you are – so the pieces / colors / accessories have to be thought through or you might end up being a bland version of yourself.

  34. I wear wigs for medical reasons and it put a huge smile on my face to read that someone as fashionable as you is considering one. :) Since Instarted wearing wigs, I’m surprised more people don’t. My “hair” looks better now than it ever did, better than most people’s hair, with extremely minimal effort!

  35. I applaud the Oakland honor band, including your son, for taking a knee and respect, as well, those who chose to stand. Having lived through and supported the protests of the ’60’s, I am happy to see this generation embrace the right to protest and call attention to the continuing racial disparity in our time. What better time to “speak” than during our national anthem that declares us “the land of the free”. The band is another reason to be proud of Oakland.

  36. I saw you at California Adventure! My son convinced me to go on the Grizzly Rapids and we buzzed past each other, causing me to do a double take as I was being pulled toward a ride I normally avoid – I always end up soaked, as I did that evening. The days after Labor Day are always great for lower crowds.

  37. I’m a few days late and a bit redundant but I’m going to chime in anyway because I really enjoy your random thoughts posts. I don’t do a capsule wardrobe, but I do a very minimalist wardrobe and need to get new clothes at least once a year. I too was shocked at how much faster my clothes wear out when I wear the same things over and over every few days. Also I’m happy for you that you got to take your family for a last California adventure at Disneyland. I can’t wait to read updates about your older two now that they’ve really gone out into the world! My random thought- I’m so glad we’re finally looking at some cooler weather after these heat waves!

  38. Late to the party, but figured it couldn’t hurt…why not let the kids switch rooms up, and have the older girls share the former boys room? Olive could have it as her own or share if Maude comes home in December to stay!

  39. When I was a teenager I went down to Chicago to participate in the anti-war protests. I had absolutely no real knowledge of the causes or effects. I just knew I hated killing. As a passionate teenager with very little life experience and certainly no experience with actually seeing war with my own two eyes I thought I was highly virtuous. This is the ilk of the young and passionate. I am now 61 years old and very grateful I matured to understand the true sacrifices of freedom. Yet never having experienced living through an actual war because other people made that sacrifice for me. We are a nation of free speech. But I choose to use that privilege to build up not tear down.

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