A Few Things

September 13, 2013

Giant Burgers - Oakland

Image and Text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you doing? Are you ready for the weekend? I am full on gearing up, because this weekend feels like baptism by fire back into our American schedule. Americans like to keep busy!! In France, our weekends were almost entirely centered around the house and family outings, but our new life here means this weekend includes a sleepover, a party, a Cross-Country meet, ice skating with friends, a Jazz Band concert, haircuts for the boys, and the usual weekend tasklist (groceries, errands, etc). Hah! I remember those kinds of weekends from Colorado and New York, but it’s been awhile. And I’m sure many of you have similar weekends ahead! Happily, I woke up feeling really good and ready to embrace the next few days. Hooray for that.

While I make a weekend list so nothing slips through the cracks, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

Waking up from surgery, a man realizes he has a pretty wife.

Collaborating with a 4-year-oldThanks, Meggan.

- My sister’s happy studio window.

- Ben Blair sent me this video about camouflage in the ocean. Watch the first 20 secs.

- A beautifully sweet pink nursery.

- Are you reading NYC Taught Me? She’s always funny, but her last few posts are especially killing it.

- 11 obsolete words that might still be useful.

- Apple cider donuts!

- I spent too much time last night searching out riding boots. I want to splurge on this pair at Nordstrom. (I wonder how much boot wearing happens in Oakland. Is it too warm?)

- Will.i.am on logos.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — We don’t think we’ll be able to fit in a date this weekend, so last night, Ben Blair and I made a late night visit to Giant Burgers for shakes. Yay Oakland!

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jen September 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm

i wear boots pretty much 8 months out of the year living in oakland :) my husband wears them year round. i’d say go for it!


2 Terri Mead September 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Boots are great in the Bay Area from fall through spring…splurge!

So great you got to Giant Burger. Loved those growing up in the East Bay. And we rarely get out on dates…getting out for a shake is a great idea.

I was wondering how quickly your family would be back into the American schedule. I envied your French life (and loved the month we just spent in Paris doing a house swap).

Enjoy your time in Oakland. We are just across the Bay in Redwood City (although we grew up in Castro Valley after being born in SF). There could be worse places to be!


3 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Oh man. I don’t know if there’s a way to be in America and part of American schools without falling back into American weekends. It’s a hot topic at the Blair house right now because we are missing all that family time we had!


4 Terri Mead September 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm

We still try to do dinner together every night and limit things on Sundays. This way we have more family time and can decide to do things last minute. It isn’t easy with two kids. Good luck with your brood.


5 Christie R. September 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Those boots! I swear, every winter I eye them off at Nordstrom. I’m not usually a fan of knee-high boots, but I love these. :)


6 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Me too! They are so handsome.


7 erika September 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

i am so impressed with how well you’ve handled everything – six kids and a move from a different country – it’s a lot to do…for anyone! hope you have a restful weekend. (((Hugs)))


8 susannah September 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm

i live in my frye boots from fall-spring in oakland. even if the daytime is warm it cools down so much at night that you can almost always rock them! (ps the cheese fries at giant burger are pretty good. and if you haven’t discovered sparky’s yet up by 13, our kids love it for the burgers, blts, shakes & onion ring/fries, and my husband and i love it for the chicken teriyaki)


9 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Sparky’s? I don’t think we’ve happened upon Sparky’s yet, but I love the name!


10 Sophia September 25, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Sparky’s is also great, because of its proximity to Redwood Regional park- perfect for weekend hikes!


11 Betsey September 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I love the boots! I lie in the South Bay and I honestly rarely wear boots. A transplant from the Midwest…and I miss my boots. I see lots of people wearing them, all year (which I find odd…it’s 70 degrees and I see women wearing boots)… I feel warm just thinking about it! Ha! To each their own!


12 Elizabeth N. September 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm

You probably wont get as much use out of them as you would if you lived somewhere with a cold climate, but it still gets cold especially at night and in the mornings during the winter time, so why not get a pair?


13 Jen @ Conversion Diary September 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Hi Gabrielle!

What a great roundup of links! Thanks for sharing.

Also, I would love to hear more details about the differences between the typical French and America schedules. As a fellow mom of six, I am currently working hard to simplify our overbooked schedule, yet all of the items on our calendar seem so necessary. I know that I need to readjust my thinking, but I’m not sure where to start.

For example, it sounds from your post like there was maybe less socializing for the children on weekends in France? If so, was that because there was less emphasis placed on peer activities, or the activities were done at different times, etc.?

I realize that you’re super busy and may not be able to answer. But if you ever felt up to writing a post that detailed the kinds of attitudes and beliefs that allow Europeans to have weekends that don’t drive everyone to the brink of sanity, I for one would love to read it!


14 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Hi Jen! I should write up a full post on it, but the main differences in schedule that I see are 1) In France, Sundays are really dedicated to family time. No visiting your neighbors. No errands or shopping (in fact, almost every store is closed). No parties or non-family gatherings. And 2) Extra-curricular activities like sports and lessons are typically held mostly on Wednesdays, because there’s no school that day (and only half day schools for the teenagers). This means Saturdays are quite open for most families. We usually used ours to work around the house or take a road trip.


15 lisa thomson September 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm

All of those links will keep me busy…I love the boots. You should get them. I just bought a new pair, I don’t know the brand but they’re short with some studs in a dark, grey brown. They were a splurge for me so I hope they last many years. I have the tall hunters for our rainy winter and I love those, too. Your date night pic is making me hungry! Have a nice weekend!


16 LP September 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm

The cephalopod video was outstanding. Love it when you teach us new things!
That’ s a stellar video!!!!!!!!!!! Just golden!!!!!!!!!!!!!


17 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I’ve watched it a dozen times now. It’s amazing!


18 Sharon September 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Oh wow. Thanks Gaby for the mention and the kind words. I was trying something new this week on my blog. I’m glad you noticed and enjoyed it! :)


19 Katie September 13, 2013 at 9:39 pm

I spent the last five years of my life living in Oakland. Yes, it gets more than cold enough to wear riding boots. I wore mine all the time (Fall, Winter, and Spring)


20 Alison September 13, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Yes, it gets cold enough here for boots. Fall weather doesn’t arrive until November some years. Enjoy the summer while it lasts. Also the winters are wet and rainy so leather boots beware.


21 Renee September 14, 2013 at 12:37 am

I have a similar pair of boots and the black and brown combo is especially nice for the versability aspect, they go with almost everything. Hopefully you can find some quiet time on Sunday after your busy weekend.


22 Gina September 14, 2013 at 1:39 am

Bon Courage, as you bring on the challenge of the weekend! Again, I love relating to the windows of cultural differences in your posts. It will be really interesting to see what you integrate; what you’ll keep and what you’ll embrace.

Since I’m originally from the US, our community includes 2/3′s of the cultures you’re speaking of, I can really relate. Just speaking of the French angle, I agree, too, that most of the French families we know have such a nice sanctity to their weekends revolving around family, friends and doing things that include both — they go out their way for hikes to discover the area, arrange dinners, and are easily ready to casually meet for long museum tours & coffee, etc. When we makes plans together, I can feel painfully aware of our “American weekend pace” that is heavy on early-to-rise all-day weekend sports events & performances making us very aware of our over planned life and the lack of time for these very important moments. To compensate for this and to take advantage of the fact that we’re living in Europe, although our daily lives are quite American paced , we do embrace the European idea of summer holidays and the numerous school vacations!


23 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

You are so good about creating a balance among all the cultures your family juggles! I’m such an admirer of yours.


24 Connie Z. September 14, 2013 at 4:54 am

Wow, great and fitting image. Nice work on ‘quintessential American’.


25 Tere September 14, 2013 at 6:11 am

Is it bad that I wanna send my husband to surgery now and ask him some questions when he wakes up? I laughed so hard with the video!


26 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Wasn’t that funny/sweet? And hearing the wife giggle, too!


27 Jennifer September 14, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I have a pair of those riding boots from a few seasons ago, purchased in a winter emergency while visiting my parents on the east coast at Christmas, and I will just say that I have worn them loads on both coasts. Happy weekend!


28 hayley September 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Why do you think this weekend is such a big deal? Millions of families are doing these kinds of things – and way more – and not commenting on what a palaver it all is. Just do it! Ad I am sure you had to schedule in haircuts in France – or did hair miraculously not grow there!!
Also, these olive us movies are terribly creepy. Do the children like/mind being involved in them? Is there a purpose to them? If there is, I cannot fathom what it is!


29 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Woah. Having a bad day, Hayley? I hear you. I’m working my way through a really difficult depression at the moment, so I definitely understand bad days.

Hey. If you have some criticism you’d like to share, I’m all ears. But check the rudeness at the door, please. It’s unnecessary and out of place here.


30 Heidi September 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Gabrielle, why don’t you moderate your comments? This comment is not fair. This isn’t criticism; it’s mean spirited. Plus, I am in total agreement with you about weekends ;) We put in place a no-playdate rule for Sundays, and it has been great, although many other families don’t respect it, so I feel like I am paddling upstream much of the time.


31 Megan M. September 15, 2013 at 7:37 pm

If I had to guess why Gabrielle doesn’t moderate, it’s because there’s so much new content posted every day, and she has so much going on, that people would have to wait a long time for their comments to be approved.

Whatever the reason, I think it’s admirable that Gabrielle is able to respond with grace to someone who went out of their way to be rude. WWDMD? (What Would Design Mom Do?) It’s a question we should all ask ourselves. ;)


32 Design Mom September 16, 2013 at 12:05 am

Good point, Megan! Moderating on Giveaway days would be kind of a nightmare. Hah!

And WWDMD made me laugh.

33 Design Mom September 16, 2013 at 12:04 am

Hi Heidi! Good question. I’ll be honest, this site so rarely receives rude comments that I haven’t ever had much need to moderate. Happily, 99% of the time, Design Mom Readers are able to voice their thoughts, concerns and differing opinions with respect and civility.

If that ever changes, 1) I’ll be super sad about it. And 2) I’ll probably have to moderate comments. But till then, I’ll handle the out-of-sorts comments on a case by case basis.


34 nicole i September 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm

You will want riding boots in Oakland…Sept is the warmest month and then you will boots until April…enjoy the new bay area weather…ever changing…especially if you are in the fog belt.


35 teresa September 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Busy life! sweet. Try nations burgers….they are awesome!
Happy Day


36 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Excited about all the burger recommendations! We couldn’t be happier about all the great eating in the East Bay.


37 Sally from Little Hiccups September 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I say go for the boots!
I live in Berkeley and I wear boots (either knee high riding boots or ankle boots) for at least half of the year. I like to wear dresses as much as possible so riding boots are a great way to keep me a little warmer in the cooler weather.


38 Sally from Little Hiccups September 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I haven’t tried Giant Burger yet. My two favourite burger places in the Bay Area are Super Duper Burger which has several locations in San Francisco and Phil’s Sliders in Berkeley. Phil’s Sliders is soooo good. You’ve got to go there :)


39 Design Mom September 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I’m loving all the pro-boot comments! Glad to hear so many Oakland-ites keep boots in their wardrobe rotations.


40 Béa September 15, 2013 at 8:06 am

ohohoh! Very à propos!
We just came back from vacation yesterday where we saw an octopus changing its appearance several times while snorkerling ! Thanks (and thanks to your husband) for the link!


41 emily chandler September 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

November through January is great boot wearing time in Oakland. I enjoy the cool for a change. But even more (as a Portland, OR native) I enjoy the long, dry, and warm summer/early fall.


42 Erin S. September 15, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Just saw your family when I was browsing holiday cards! So cute . . . and So funny to see the Blairs called the Cavanaghs! http://www.tinyprints.com/product/48449/flat_holiday_photo_cards_merry_in_marker.html


43 Design Mom September 16, 2013 at 12:06 am

Oh! How fun. The designer reached out and asked permission to use the photo weeks (or maybe months!) ago, but I had forgotten. Thanks for the link, Erin!


44 sarah September 16, 2013 at 9:35 am

I totally thought the last one said will.i.am in LEGOS! Ha!

Bet you are not surprised to find out our dining room is deemed the LEGO room in our house!


45 kalanicut September 16, 2013 at 10:44 am

Gabby, if it helps any I was in SF last winter for a week and it seemed like every girl was wearing riding boots. Living in LA where boots turn out for the most part to be pretty ridiculous, I was jealously aware that the weather there was much more conducive to boot wearing. :) Splurge on, girl. Will look forward to seeing all your styling of them.


46 Martha September 20, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Wait. This is weird. I followed the link from Conversion Diary… and I remember you from a search I did a year ago for ‘painting a piano.’ I remember you calling your hubby by his full name, and wondering if you took the piano to France. Are you not the ‘Variations on a Green Piano’ woman?! How cray cray would that be? Small, small internet world.


47 Lena October 12, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Gabrielle, I hope you will read this comment, because trust me – it will get better. When we moved from Europe, I was kind of excited to do “more” things, since we were living pretty mellow over there (which I loved). So I put myself into busy craziness and overwhelmed myself with work. It took me the whole year before I told myself to stop. And now, my whole family lives the nice slow life in the US. We do 2 hour walk every day. It’s our must. We can’t live without it. On the weekend, we go to the ZOO, museums, parks. Or visit our dear friends. Everything else must be done from Mo-Thu. (Friday is also part of the weekend when we just hang out together). It’s so important to be with your family, just the 8 of you. At least one day/per week. It will eventually slow down. But you will have to work on it. Fingers crossed!


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