Thursday, April 20, 2017

When is an annual membership worth it?

In 2016 we got a membership to the SF Zoo. Admission is $20 per adult, so a $100 annual membership was a no-brainer since it’s a twenty minute drive, the whole family can go, and it features most of Jack’s favorite animals and a train.

I never considered getting a membership anywhere else until last month when we went to Filoli. In addition to the palatial estate and the beautiful gardens, there are rocks and trees and lizards and a peacock and giant, sprawling meadows. I knew I made the right decision the first time we came back as members. The grandmother docent wrapped a wristband around Jack’s tiny arm and smiled, “Hello sweet boy! You can run and run and run, and there is nothing here that you can break!”

In this phase of life, that is the most desirable description for any location on earth, do not @ me.

Members get a discount for guests, so we have brought a friend almost every time we’ve gone. It’s been delightful. We’re trying to save money right now, and there are so many incredible free options in our area, but the whole experience has made me more open to the possibility of memberships at other places.

Even if you don't have kids, do you have memberships anywhere? Museums? Parks? Botanical Gardens? How do you decide if the cost for membership is worth it? Did you have memberships to cool places growing up? Are you glad you had those experiences? Please inform.

I am interested.

b perry

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dating My Husband

When Chris and I were engaged I told him how much I wanted to have a weekly babysitter for our future children, but I didn’t actually implement that plan until our fourth anniversary. Last February, my favorite girl started coming over after Jack went to sleep, and Chris and I went out almost every week for four months.

I should have kept a list of our nights out, but I didn’t. We took a class at REI. We went to Stanford volleyball games. We signed up to volunteer at the food bank. We rode our bikes to taco trucks. Nothing crazy. But what we did was irrelevant because just going out (even to the movies, even to dinner), just doing something together was exciting and rejuvenating. It brought an indispensable intimacy to our marriage.

As parents of young children our lives are built around structure and control. That predictability brings its own incandescent happiness, but mixed in with that wonderful (inescapable) repetitiveness I need novelty and surprise. I want habit and adventure, routine and excitement. I still want to have moments of reckless abandon.

So for our fifth anniversary SINCE WE’RE NOT HAVING ANY BABIES I’m planning a whole year of weekly dates. But I’m writting them down this time because it’s fun for me, a clinically obsessive list-writer. So far, we’ve gone shopping for silverware, had a romantic dinner in Half Moon Bay, and this week will be our first date night in.

So since I’m planning at least 52 of these dates, please tell me: What’s the best date you ever had? What are your go-to favorite date nights? How do you make a date night IN feel extra special? How do you find babysitting? Who plans your dates? I want to hear how you’ve figured this out because... I have not figured this out.

b perry

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sweet Book Dedications

In law school I developed an interest in book dedications. The first page of my Contracts or Torts textbook would have a few words to the author’s wife (and yes, they’re mostly written by men), and I laughed a little. “Oh this giant treatise is for ME?! Honey. You shouldn’t have.”

Even if it’s a textbook on the Federal Income Tax, it’s not without some romance that this thing - this somewhat monstrous thing - that you’ve created, you want to dedicate to a person you love. It’s something like a tiny Valentine.

That said, last Valentine’s Day I wanted to blog about my favorite book dedications. I don’t read many legal texts these days, but I do read ahecka lot of picture books. So I’ve had one glorious year to sift through hundreds of picture book dedications. I’m prepared to definitively state that my very favorite book dedication in the last year is… a pirate book. Pirates of the Sea! by Brandon Dorman. Admittedly not very Valentiney, but Jack loves it because we sing the whole book to the tune of “A Pirates Life for Me.”

I assume the book is dedicated Dorman's three sons, but the way he writes it is too tender.  “For me three swashbucklin’ mates: Sourpatch Sam, Jolly-Cheeks Jackson, and Mighty Max. Ye be ME treasure.”

Anyway. That’s the best pirate Valentine I ever read.

b perry

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Our Most Delicious Winter Tradition

Or: A bolognese recipe from your non-Italian non-Grandmother

My unmercifully handsome husband eating eggs and toast by candlelight last year

A few years ago I put in a stupid amount of much research into the “perfect” bolognese recipe. I watched how-to videos. I compared classic and lazy bolognese methods. I looked at maps of Bologna, Italy. Finally, this being a pre-Trump America, I thought about traveling to Italy instead of moving there forever.

I tinker with the recipe every time I make it, but I think this weekend's batch was our favorite so far. Anyway, I didn’t realize until now, but I have made bolognese every winter we’ve been married.

I save some of my favorite traditions for winter. All that darkness and (relative) cold can be a bummer, so I try to do things to make things more cozy. I light candles around the house at night and share way more candle-lit dinners. We usually have more movie nights and game nights. We break out the Martinelli’s more often and have special toasts at dessert. And I make bolognese.  I love bolognese.

Do you have any non-holiday, cozy, cold weather traditions? I would sincerely love to hear them.

b perry

Saturday, January 7, 2017


It’s a tired cliché, but 2016 was a difficult year for me too. I’ve whined and joked about it plenty, so I’ll just say now that last year also brought me miracles. This absolutely perfect angel baby is one of them.

As Chris loves to say, Zoe casts a spell on everyone who meets her. It's not just that she's beautiful (which she is), or that she's happy all the time (how? does she not know her surly parents?), it's that she has such a presence about her. From the first day of her life, she has been a tremendous, unstoppable force of peace.

Zoe was the best thing that happened to me last year, and I'd swim through that seemingly bottomless cesspool all over again for her.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Family Pictures

As I mentioned last week, Rachel (of Rachel Takes Pictures) came to our house and captured our life at home like it really is. Okay, I’m wearing makeup, but everything else is accurate. It's a little too accurate: there is a bed frame on our front porch, a vaccuum on our back porch, and I barely fit into any of my clothes.

Here's a glimpse of what it's like at the end of the day when Daddy comes home.

After spending hours looking these perfect pictures of our imperfect life, I decided to make our family photographs more of a priority. Chris and I have been married four years, and we’ve hired a professional photographer four times. It hasn’t been one photographer per year, but we end up with a couple “family pictures” every year even if we didn’t hire someone.

I like the idea of having a system, but I don’t think I could commit to one thing for the next few decades. I know some people have the same photographer every year, and they take the family pictures in the fall. There’s such a warm, loyal feeling about that. But also? I want to get our family picture taken in Hawaii. And one year I want to have everyone wear the loudest plaid patterns I can find. Oh, and I want to have a family picture with a mariachi band (a marching band was my first choice, but Chris vetoed that). How cool would it be to have your family portrait painted one year. And obviously I want to try out an editorial-style studio shoot sometime.

It would be amazing to have your regular family photographer every fall in addition to the madness described above, but $$$$$$$$$.

What is your system for family pictures? Do you have a system? Have I put an abnormal amount of thought into this?

b perry

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


This morning I woke up thinking, “Thanksgiving is in two weeks.”

And I know this is technically a “blog” but this isn’t a post about Thanksgiving traditions or Thanksgiving crafts or Thanksgiving recipes or Thanksgiving etiquette. So I should rephrase. I woke up this morning crying, and thought, “Thanksgiving is in two weeks. This holiday already makes me feel pain about the suffering of my Native brothers and sisters. What will I be thankful for this year?”

I’m sad and disillusioned today. The sky is falling. But I’m a rich white lady with a very easy life, so of all people, I can get a jumpstart on the thanksgiving. Today I am most thankful for my husband and my children. Rachel, of Rachel Takes Pictures, came to our house last weekend to get a few pictures of Zoe in her Halloween costume. There weren't going to be pictures of anyone else... so this is what the rest of us looked like. Imperfect. Well, not Chris, he’s got his life together, but I sure as shooting don’t.

I’m not expressing gratitude as a way to “move on” from all this political discussion because retreating from this nightmare is privilege, a luxury that many marginalized people do not enjoy.

I’m just trying to say that Thanksgiving is in two weeks, so I can find some peace and love and gratitude in my broken heart this morning. And for as long as I can, I’m going to listen, to donate, to reach out, to let that glimmer of peace and hope expand, to fill me, until I can arrive at my dinner table in the spirit of thanksgiving.

b perry