Random Thoughts

Tada! I’m back with another installation of my Random Thoughts. I try to post one of these once a month, and  it’s basically a compilation of whatever is on my mind at the moment. Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments.

– Today was the day we sent Maude off to Paris once again. For some reason, I thought it would feel less emotional, but nope, there we were at the airport, bawling once again. As I waved her off with tears streaming down my face, a sobering thought popped into my head: so the next 10 or 15 years is just going to be a series of emotional goodbyes? Oh dear. No real conclusion here. Just thinking about this.

The last time, Maude was gone for 3 months. But this time, she doesn’t have a return flight yet, and the current plan is that she won’t come home until school ends in France, which is the first week of July. So we’re talking six months without seeing her!

That seems super long, so on the way back from the airport, Ben Blair and I talked about the possibility of having her fly home for Spring Break, or perhaps having me fly to Paris to see her there.

– Speaking of flying to Paris, the main reason that even came up as an option is that flights to Europe are super bargain right now. Maude’s flight, bought only 3 weeks ago, was $250 one way. And two days ago, a friend mentioned on Facebook that she grabbed round trip tickets to Paris for $450 — and those aren’t off-season flights. Her tickets are for the summer!

Have you happened to see any bargain prices? We tried WOW air for Maude. It’s a bare bones situation — no tvs, no extras, no snacks, and you get charged for even a carry-on. Their flights from the U.S. stopover in Iceland.

After our epic last summer in France, we were thinking we’d stay put this year, but my oh my, I admit the ticket prices have me wanting to plan a trip.

– A little update on the blue (actually purple) hair. It truly completely washes out. The color was put in two weeks ago, and since then, I’ve done one touch-up with color in my conditioner, but the color is gone. Like really gone. Barely a whisper of lavender remains.

To be clear, I haven’t done any of the things I was supposed to in order to preserve it — I didn’t use cool water on my hair and I didn’t use sulfate-free shampoo, so I’m not really surprised. Mostly I’m just letting you know in case you want to try something new.

Knowing I can try a color and have it disappear so quickly is lovely! It makes it easy to experiment. Very freeing.

– Have you seen the new movie Hidden Figures? Ben Blair and I went on opening night, and then took the whole family on Monday. It’s so good. The story, the music, the sets, the outfits. Just a joy to watch. Although that’s funny to say because while you watch it, it makes you super rage-y about racism and about sexism (at least, that’s how it made me feel).

If you’ve ever heard about intersectional feminism and wondered why it’s important, this movie is a great demonstration. The women in the movie have to deal with all the burdens of sexism, and then have those problems compounded by all the burdens of racism. You’ll want to scream.

But somehow, you’ll also walk out filled with joy. And if you’re like me, you’ll immediately wonder about all the stories we don’t know and haven’t heard. What a loss for humanity that we haven’t uncovered more of these hidden stories!

Oh and FYI: if you want to bring the kids, I can tell you six-year-old June had a hard time paying attention, but everyone else loved it.

– And now that I’ve brought up kids and ages, I have to tell you that cute little Oscar is TWELVE YEARS OLD. What in the world? How can that be? His birthday was earlier this week and we celebrated with our traditional breakfast in bed, and then his favorite dinner that night with a few presents and a big cake.

Oscar always thinks up a specific cake he wants. This year, his request was chocolate cake, with chocolate pudding for frosting, and then Oreos on top. It turned out quite well and he love it. But you would laugh if you saw how much is left. Pretty much only Ben and Oscar enjoy chocolate cake in our family. So they are the only two that had a slice. We ended up making Oreos shake for everyone else. Hah!

Here’s Oscar’s Stacking Wood video, which I find irresistible:

– For our 12 year old birthday celebrations, instead of doing a party, we’ve ended up taking a little trip, with just a parent and the birthday kid. For Ralph’s 12th, we took a little trip to San Francisco (this was before we ever thought of moving to the Bay Area, and he had never been before). For Maude’s 12th, we had just moved to France, so Maude and I took a ferry to England and saw Wicked in London. For Olive’s 12th, we had just moved to Oakland from France, and couldn’t handle a big trip, so she chose a Taylor Swift concert in L.A.. Ben Blair drove her down and she had an amazing time. It was her first big concert.

We’re not sure what to do with Oscar. His biggest dream is to swim with whale sharks, but the season is off, and I feel like that could be too extravagant. So we’re still thinking. One idea is to get him scuba certified and do a scuba trip, which I think his marine-biology-heart would adore.

– I’ve found myself tearing up quite a bit this week as the country says farewell to our current President and the First Family. His farewell address had me in tears, then the Jimmy Fallon piece with the First Lady, and then again today when the Vice President was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I’m aware that not everyone is a fan of President Obama or his policies, but I have so appreciated seeing his loving, amazing family in the White House and I will miss them dearly. Lots of emotions this week!

– I couldn’t do my usual Facebook Live Broadcast today because of the airport drop-off, but I’m planning one for tomorrow. I’m going to do something new: a room tour! I’m going to show you around our new bedroom remodel. I hope you’ll join me! Plan on it at 11:00 AM PST on the Design Mom Facebook page.

And then next week, I’ll do a photo tour blog post too.

– Mentioning the airport drop-off reminded me: we had our first electric car dilemma yesterday and today. We had so many errands yesterday that the car didn’t have time to fully recharge, which meant today, we had enough juice for school drop off and to get to the airport, but that’s it. Which meant we had to hang out at the airport for awhile, even after we’d said goodbye to Maude, while the car charged in the airport parking lot.

Mostly, our no-gas car has been amazing. But this week made me realize we should look into having a 220 volt outlet installed in the carport. Right now, we charge with a regular outlet and it takes about 24 hours for a full charge. But with a higher voltage, we hear it only takes about 4 hours.

Have you ever driven a electric-only car? Clearly, we’re still learning some of the ins and outs.

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. Also, cute party decor at top is from the Oh Happy Day Shop and was recycled from our pattern-on-pattern photo shoot.

47 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. Molly McFarland

    On the topic of swimming with whale sharks, you can do it at the Atlanta Aquarium in Georgia! My husband and I road tripped from Baltimore to Atlanta in 2014 to scuba with the whale sharks! The aquarium is huge and really cool. Maybe you can find cheap flights to Atlanta? While we were there we also went to a not-too-far side trip to Tank Town USA where my husband got to drive a tank and use it to crush a car! We drove down for the whale sharks, but he loved the tank even more. http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/experience/explore/programs-activities/animal-interactions/journey-with-gentle-giants

      1. Yes, you can swim with sharks at our aquarium here in Tampa. For our nephews birthday one year he swam in their coral reef exhibit! They gave them disposable underwater cameras to take pictures too.There are probably various options depending upon the type of marine animals your nearest aquarium specializes in. Since you are in a big city there may be something quite close.

  2. I am with you. How can anyone not adore the kind loving civil Obama family? I am scared by what is coming. And so sad about what is leaving. “Stacking Wood” is just wonderful .. so simple and yet so absolutely satisfying. I certainly look forward to that bedroom tour!

    1. Hard for me to imagine anyone not appreciating the Obama family too, and yet, it is a common occurence. We are so deeply divided. I just read a review of Obama’s Farewell Speech on National Review, written by the editors, and they could not dislike him more. Hate just dripped from the article. I didn’t even recognize what they were referring too — it was like they had watched a different speech than I had. Yet I know they believe what they wrote.

      How to mend the divide? I do not know. The path seems very murky to me. I wish we could start by speaking more honestly with each other — each of us acknowledging our own party’s contributions to the divide, acknowledging when we personally added to the problem by sharing a false rumor. It’s so hard to believe someone sincerely wants to mend things if they won’t acknowledge their own faults or take any responsibility.

      1. Completely understand your statement: “..it was like they had watched a different speech than I had.” The different perspectives are so puzzling at times.

        I’ve been in tears, too, this past week. Love, admire and respect the Obama family.

  3. We just snorkeled with whale sharks in La Paz, Mexico over Christmas Break, and I must say, it was AMAZING! A true bucket list experience. The whale sharks are in the Sea of Cortez from October to March. http://www.espiritubaja.com.mx. Here’s the company we used. Our guide, Raul, was so knowledgeable. Truly amazing!

    1. Well this is so good to here! Our initial research gave us the idea now was the wrong season, but it sounds like we must have misread.

      Thank you so much for the link and the advice.

      1. You can fly into Cabo, rent a car and drive to La Paz. It’s a 2 hour drive. I’m sure it would be more expensive to fly to La Paz. You can email me directly if you want any more thoughts! Good luck!

  4. We have a Tesla and a 220 volt outlet installed in our garage. I don’t think we’d sleep well without it. Chargers (Super Chargers in our case) aren’t always easy to come by. My husband largely charges at the office, but when the car is used in a family situation the go to charge is from our 220 volt at home — where the down time can be productive and worked into our day to day. It cost us about 1k to put in. Good Luck!

    1. We have a chevy volt which is electric and gas. We installed the 220 volt charger for a faster charge. It was about 1k for install and for the charger but our electric company gave us a $250 rebate, so that’s something to check into.

  5. Tammy Henderson

    I am not a fan of Obama’s policies, but I do agree that this couple is a class act. I will miss their passion, humor, style, and real-ness. Michelle has been a first-rate First Lady. Thank you for your service, Obamas!

    1. Yes, thank you, Tammy. I did not vote for President Bush, but I always appreciated First Lady Laura Bush’s work very much, and I respected them as a family. I have come to admire them both even more after President Bush’s moving, sincere, and healing speech at the memorial in Dallas.

  6. Definitely the 220 V is the way to go. It does cost the extra money, but ours was maybe $700 to install? We have a plugin hybrid – so you get 20 miles on electric and then it switches to gas. Doing the normal errands, we use the electric. We may go to the gas station once every 6 weeks.

    1. Ours is electric only, with about a max range of 85 miles. So we can’t go too far, but it’s ideal for school drop-offs, grocery runs, and all those little errands.

  7. I spent my morning (yay for days off of work!) watching and reading and catching up on all politic-related things. I’m abroad, so I don’t get as bombarded with information, and there were some things I was behind on. I cried as I watched the final speeches by both the First Lady and President Obama, as well as the surprise awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I spoke with my host mom last night about how, all politics aside, the way in which Obama and Trump speak about their families is so, so different.

    I also read about the beginning of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I cried as I read about all of the amendments that were rejected, particularly an amendment that would have protected those with pre-existing conditions, and the amendment that would have continued to allow children to be on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26. My brother has a number of pre-existing conditions, and myself and my two siblings are all currently on my mom’s insurance plan. When I end my Peace Corps service, I will not have insurance. I feel like I am being punched in the gut with that realization.

    1. Oh Beth. I’m so sorry to hear about the end of your insurance. We aren’t sure what’s going to happen to ours. Being self-employed, it was always tricky securing insurance until the ACA. Ugh.

  8. You don’t live far from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If Oscar is interested in the aquarium/research side of marine biology he might enjoy one of their behind of scenes tours. My dad used to take me to various aquariums (and on behind the scenes tours if available) when I was around his age… and older too ;) It definitely helped fuel my passion for marine biology!

    1. The Monterey Bay Aquarium also does sleepovers. I did one in High School with my Marine Biology and it was very memorable.


      I was also thinking that I’ve seen your sister Jordan say she’s gotten good deals on tickets to Oahu before. I hear Hanauma Bay is amazing for snorkeling. And speaking of snorkeling have you seen this picture of Obama:


      I love it so much! I’m with you and it’s been emotional watching the Obamas/Bidens this week. Lots of sad and happy tears!!

  9. $250 one way to Paris is an AMAZING deal! My friend and I just found $440 round trip tickets to Paris in May. They’re Denver to San Francisco to Paris on United. We were in shock when we found such cheap tickets; as college freshmen, cheap is essential, and I had resigned myself to not going to Europe until after graduation because tickets are usually so expensive!

  10. I was a child with a marine biology heart as well <3
    I studied every single shark book, watched every single ocean documentary, and still truly fascinated with the ocean life.

  11. I had an Audi diesel which was part of the VW diesel scandal. I had bought it in 2010 with the idea that it was super efficient & would last forever. I returned it to Audi as part of the diesel settlement & used that money (plus more :( ) to buy a Chevy Volt. It gets 50 miles on the battery & has a 9 gallon gas tank for longer trips. It took me a while to get used to driving an electric car, but now I love it. We’ve also noticed that since we (parents plus 2 teens) have a small competition going to see who can be the most efficient driver, we also tend to drive more safely – lower speeds & no sudden acceleration. We are converts.
    My husband installed a 220 volt charger himself (he is not an electrician, but studied EE in college.) It required a lot of reading & video watching, but he enjoyed it. It was permitted & inspected so we have no safety worries. Also, our local electric company had a deal where they reimbursed us for the charger! You should check if yours has a similar offer.

    1. I love that he installed it himself! What a cool project. And thanks for the tip about reimbursement. It would not surprise me at all if California, or our electric company, offered something similar.

  12. SO TIMELY! We are planning our annual sabbatical (we work someplace else for a month in the summer with our kiddo) and I’m having a heckuva time with flights. Was WOW your best option? We’re trying to get from Chicago to Vienna…have our AirBnB set and I’ve got your Venice post bookmarked for our side trip!

    1. Wow is definitely a bargain. But we’ve also had good luck with Norwegian Air. And lots of people have told me United has some super low-fare deals right now too.

  13. Darling video of Oliver it brought a huge smile to our face. Would love to have an update to ralph and if he has a blog would love to read about his adventures. I know a lot of missionaries have blogs. We have to electric cars. the first one is a leaf and only goes about 88 miles before needing to be charged. Our 17 year old uses this to get back and forth to high school. Then my husband has a Tesla which goes 250 miles but needs to be charged nightly. We have two chargers. Each were about $400 and a couple hundred to install but so worth it when you live out in the boonies like we do and chargers are not so easy to find. Only a few places have them like a local shopping plaza and whole foods.

  14. Just a comment about the next 10 or 15 years of emotional goodbyes. I hope you do have them… because this will mean that your children are alive, healthy, living their lives, spreading their wings and flying to different places… maybe starting their own families (and then there will be lots of emotional welcome-s, emotional hello-s). It is a privilege to see them go away (even if our heart aches). It means we have the privilege to see them grow, blossom…it means we are still there for them and that they are still here with us. Let’s not take it for granted… So many parents and kids die way too young… This is not supposed to be a sad comment, on the contrary, it’s supposed to remind of us of the joy of seeing them grow and go… (and come back to visit us…). So may you have millions of good-byes and zillions of welcome back!

  15. Oh, those low airfares are fueling my wanderlust, big time! I don’t think we’ll make it anywhere out of the country this summer, but you never know… And I’m happy to follow along with your experiences with an all-electric car – it’s something we’ve been considering, but maybe just if we ever get a second car (we have a Prius we’re happy with, and have always been a one-car household). Also *loved* seeing your home tour on FB (always enjoy your videos!)

    And! I was feeling inspired by your ‘random thoughts’ posts, so I decided to post my own random thoughts, too. I surprised myself by creating a video – I’m a total introvert, but actually had fun recording it (I suspect it would be quite different if I tried doing a Facebook live video, though!)


  16. Sarah Smith Gumataotao

    Do you have any fear of flying? I travelled a whole lot in my 20s but somewhere along the way I’ve developed a real fear of flying. I’m about to leave my 3 kids and fly to D.C. for the women’s march and I find your willingness to travel very inspiring-comforting even. I’m curious about your thoughts on leaving kids behind while on trips, flying with or without kids, etc. maybe you’ve already written about this?

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