Sunday, June 29, 2008

25 Days, 11

Dash is currently enrolled at his third school. The last one only lasted about a month. I didn't mention it here because, well, three schools in a year and a half seems a little unreasonable. But after about a week or so at school number two Dash arrived home with finger guns blazing and threats of, "I shoot Mommy, I kill Mommy." Well. Turns out that Dash befriended the kid whose gang-banging dad was serving time in State Prison to be followed immediately by 10 more years in Federal Prison. His mom thought it was all kinda funny. I was less amused.

So we moved him. We moved him to an adorable place with huge, green grounds. The teachers there are all over 40 and have made their careers the care of children. We've been there about a month and are deliriously happy.

On Friday the school had a pre-4th of July potluck bbq. We brought mini-cupcakes with red white & blue sprinkles (yum) and homemade potato salad (yuck, and also a pain in the ass to make. grr.)

At the party we befriended another couple with a beautiful daughter Dash's age. They were lovely and we're so hopeful that they'll become friends. The father is a professional photographer. Now, we really, really like this couple. We're absolutely not in it for the pictures. But seriously. Take a look at these. Just a few snaps he took at the party, no big deal. I'm a little embarrassed to post any more of my own pictures here ever again.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

25 Days, 10

I like houses. I like bird houses and drawings of houses and doll houses. I like the house we live in and I like seeing other people's houses. Sometimes if Josh & I are driving down a quiet street and someone's left their blinds open I make him stop and back up so I can peep inside. Wow, that's kinda scary when you see it written down.

Anyway, here's our birdhouse in the backyard. I love that the "hamburger" is bigger than the chair.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

25 Days, 9

Here is the best thing to eat this summer:

Prepare one cup of couscous (I did 1/2 wheat & 1/2 white).

Mix the juice of 4 limes, 5 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.

Chop up one large red bell pepper, 8 green onions, a big handful of cilantro and two big handfuls of tiny tomatoes (I just cut mine in half). Add a cup of corn kernels (I used frozen), a can of black beans (I used Trader Joe's Cuban black beans) and half a cup of pico de gallo.

Dump everything into the bowl of dressing and stir.

Dude. You will not be sorry.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

25 Days, 8

So there's this artist named Kerri Smith who, among many other things, encourages us to create every day. The other day I happened upon her 100 Ideas and was inspired. I printed out seven copies (one for each woman in my life plus me) and cut them up into little glass jars. I dropped in a few additional treasures and there you have it. Little jars of inspiration anytime you need it.

The jars from Cost Plus had little chalkboard labels so I drew a butt on one 'cause I'm 9.

I made clothespin dolls because we're all girls and we love dolls. Just wrapped some clothespins I had left over from Halloween in fabric scraps

This one got a plastic beetle that I am thrilled to have out of the house.

I ordered these wooden keys from The Porkchop Show's Etsy store. I had no idea what I was going to do with them when I bought them but I was physically unable to resist them. Now their purpose has been revealed.

These are recycled paper journals from Target. They're the exact size of a passport and I tarted them up a touch with images I printed from here onto label paper.

Here's mine.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

25 Days, 7

I have made a concerted effort to ban cynicism from my life. It defined my early adulthood and I got to the point where I couldn't even bear my own company. The thing about cynicism is that (at first) it's funny and can make people think you're smart. So you learn to like it maybe more than you should. It becomes second nature to say the snarky, dark thing just to get a cheap laugh. Once it takes hold, though, it just makes everyone, yourself included, hate you.

So, I try to look on the bright side. I try to give people and organizations and even (though it's hard lately) politicians the benefit of the doubt. But I have to admit, I did not see this coming: California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban.

Yesterday, after 55 years together, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin became the first officially married same sex couple in California after the ban was lifted. Mazel tov, ladies. My joy for your happy union is only slightly dulled by the shame that it was ever otherwise for you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

25 Days, 6

I don't know when we found our rhythm as a family. I remember this time last year we still didn't really know what we were doing or how we should spend our days. We vacillated between hanging out in front of the tv all day and going on big, exhausting outings. We didn't really know about happy mediums. This Father's Day was a really lovely example of something in between. Just the right pace for us on a Sunday.

We spent the morning opening presents and eating fried eggs & bacon. Then we waddled down to the pool for an hour of Dash climbing out and jumping as far as he could into Josh's arms. An hour of this. My husband is a saint.

After naps and fresh clothes we drove to The Stand for hot dogs and chili fries. They had live jazz and Dash danced and tipped the musicians. Many other families had the same Father's Day idea as us, so there were lots of kids and beaming dads gorging on elaborate dogs and the beautiful late afternoon breeze.

Sated, we rolled outta there to Coldstone for even more gluttony and wandered over to the new marketplace they're building down the hill from us. There's a little pond and a bridge and lots of fountains for Dash to threaten to jump into. We rambled around there until bedtime.

It wasn't one of those big days. We didn't make reservations anywhere and Josh wasn't obligated to drink any beer or grill any meat. It was just a quiet day full of laughing and exchanged shrugs: how did we get this lucky?

Happy Father's Day, baby.

(all pix taken w/ my crappy camera phone)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Peanuts, Cracker Jacks: Daddy's Perspective

Hi, my name is Josh. I'm a long-time reader, first-time poster. What Liz wrote about Dash's first baseball game was right on the money, but I wanted to add a little bit of my perspective.

As Liz said, when we found out Dash was going to be Dash and not Emma or Amelia or Violet, I adjusted my internal clock to start counting down to the day we'd take him to Angel Stadium for the first time.

All the men on my side of the family have baseball in their blood. My grandpa on my mom's side had a tryout with the Chicago Cubs in the 1940s and my uncle was a teenage phenom in the early 1960s, until pressure from his dad became too much and he quit. My biological dad was a lifer as well, starting from the time he was a batboy for his dad's traveling semi-pro team. In fact, it was he who took me to my very first baseball game at, you guessed it, Angel Stadium (although it was called Anaheim Stadium, or "the Big A," back then). And even though I was only about 5 years old at the time, I have a vivid memory of walking up the tunnel, coming out on the other side, and seeing a major league baseball field for the first time. I wanted this to be something special for Dash, too.

And it was. Despite the fact that he is taking his Terrible Twos very seriously, I can't remember a day in which he was better behaved. It was almost like he knew that this was a special bonding experience, and he didn't want to spoil it. From the moment we strapped him into his car seat for the one-hour-plus drive to Anaheim until he was fast asleep in his crib six hours later, he was--pardon the pun--an Angel.

I had purchased the cheapest seats available, because Liz and I agreed that we weren't going to this game to be close to the action, we were going because we (ok, I) wanted Dash to have his first baseball experience. And we figured that since it was a night game, he wouldn't last 9 innings and we'd end up missing most of the game, anyway.

I had started trying to teach Dash to say "Vladimir Guerrero" before he was able to talk, so this was a huge day for both of us. I actually felt a little nervous as we approached the Big A, but my nerves quickly settled when Dash started getting excited and saying "We going to Angels game!" in between the call and response of "Vladimir" and "Guerrero." It just so happened that this was Guerrero Bat and Ball Night, commemorating Vladdy's 2000th hit, so naturally Dash was stoked as soon as we passed through the gates.

Then, things got a little dicey. We hopped on the escalator and went up. And up. And up. By the time we reached our seats, we were literally standing at the top of the stadium -- the very last row in Section 522. This was a serious problem, as one of the Engels is afraid of heights, and anyone who's had the misfortune of sitting this high up knows how steep it is; it constantly feels like you're going to tumble over the row in front of you, even when you're sitting down. So while Liz started to have a panic attack, we walked back down to the bottom of the section and asked the usher if there was anything we could do. He suggested going to the Ticket Exchange window and seeing about an upgrade. Being the trooper she is (and most likely to get down closer to solid ground), Liz said, "You and Dash watch the game, I'll go to the Exchange."

I sure as hell wasn't going to lug the D-Man up those 80 steps to get to the top of Mount Angel Stadium again, so I quickly slipped down into the season ticket section and sat down in an open seat (this was the first inning, so naturally most of the season ticket holders' seats were still vacant).

A couple minutes after we sat down, I saw the familiar gait of #27 slowly meandering toward the batter's box so I said to Dash, "Listen!" When the PA announcer said, "Now batting, Vladimir Guerrero" Dash started busting up. That's when I knew this was going to be a great night.

Long story short, my darling wife returned with new tickets, and we made our way down, down, down, all the way to Section 225! Dash ate a hot dog, nachos, Cracker Jack and peanuts. He loved watching the action on the field, but he was just as happy to just soak it all in and watch the people around us. Maybe it's just me romanticizing it, but I really got the sense that he understood the importance of this event. We went to the Stadium Store at some point (honestly, the actual game was secondary on this night) and Dash found a padded bat and ball and started playing baseball, right in the store. We wandered around for about 20 minutes and ended up walking out of there with the aforementioned bat and ball, a hat, a t-shirt, a rally monkey and an Angels Matchbox car. Oh, and Dash got some stuff too.

As we celebrated the win on the drive home (Dash celebrated by passing out as soon as his butt hit the car seat), Liz and I both said that (outside of the obvious ones) this was the best day of our lives. And it truly was; Dash went to his first Angels game, got a Guerrero bat, ate Cracker Jack, saw the Rally Monkey in action and saw the Angels win. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect start to Dash's lifelong obsession with the Angels.

Friday, June 13, 2008

25 Days, 5

I think it's understood among those who know me that my tastes run toward the "five-year-old-girl imagines how she'll decorate her house when she grows up." I always start out fairly restrained, but things usually end up a bit more Alice in Wonderland than is probably normal.

That said, look at these beautiful, amazing valances from Julia Rothman. Not only are they dee-vine, they were also ten bucks each at Urban Outfitters. The new linen sheers were $11 per panel from JCPenney. I am in heaven.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

25 Days, 4

I was seven months pregnant when we bought and furnished this house. Also, we had no money. So our coffee and dining tables are round (for baby's safety!) and cheap. The coffee table is from Martha Stewart's Kmart collection because we're classy and it was $70 INCLUDING THE SIDE TABLE. So, you know, when you get two pieces of furniture for less than a hundred bucks, they're probably not going to wear like nails. Three years later and the coffee table was chipped and tired but still stable and still the perfect size and shape. So I painted it with stripes.



25 Days, 3

My poor husband. He had no idea that 5 years after reciting our vows I would have us living in a household that uses recycled toilet paper and cleans exclusively with vinegar spray. But I have clues that he's come around. Here is one of my Mother's Day gifts:

It's a GIANT EFFING COMPOSTER, YO! We are that guy! The one that composts!

Here's a picture of the filth that is fermenting inside. I know nobody needs to see this, but if I have to look at it every time I go out to dump a load of garbage in, so do you.

This is what I store our compost garbage in until I get outside. Much more civilized, no? It's melamine with a silicone seal to keep the smells out of the kitchen. It's a pretty good system if I may say so myself.

We haven't generated a load of compost yet, but when we do I think we all know there will be much crowing with pictures.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

25 Days, 2

In the summers I take Fridays off rather than take an actual 2-week vacation. Usually I send Dash to school and use the time to clean and grocery shop and fold laundry and do all the stuff that you don't want to waste summer weekends on. This Friday, though, I kept Dash home and we played baseball and chased each other around with hoses (set to mist) and ate watermelon and popsicles.
And we did this.

Our entire side yard is lined in river rocks. I plucked a few pretty ones and Dash & I took it upon ourselves to improve on nature.

I hope he's always this fearless with color.

The prettiest ones are decorating a terrarium I made as a housewarming gift for our lovely friend Jen.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Another 25 Days

Last year around this time I spent 25 days meditating on my life's joys and pleasures. I credit that project with helping to lift me out of the post partum depression I had mostly unknowingly been suffering. (Not that I believe that good thoughts can end an actual clinical depression, but think mine was mainly over and I just needed to deal with figuring out my new place in the world as a working mother.)

Anyway, I loved spending those days looking for little bits of loveliness in my regular old life and am excited to return to my 25 Days.

I have, weirdly, never been stung by a bee. I think that's mainly why I am terrified of them. You've never seen someone spazz out and haul ass faster than me when confronted with a bee. But then I heard about colony collapse disorder. (Isn't it funny how quickly a little information can change your thinking? It used to be impossible for me to wrap my mind around how people could clean their houses without using paper towels. Then I realized that using paper towels had a real and lasting negative consequence for the planet and so I [mostly] stopped using them. Easy.)

But my point is, I read about colony collapse and something just clicked. We needed bees. And I could do my small part to help. So we planted tons of bee-friendly lavender and hung up this mason bee house. They don't actually live in it. They just lay their eggs in the little tubes. Now when I see a fat bee loping around my yard I welcome it and ask it to invite friends, too.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Peanuts, Cracker Jacks

The ideas of Josh and baseball are tightly entwined in my mind. His love of the game is so literary and innocent and optimistic and exactly what baseball should mean to men and boys alike. So there's been a countdown almost from conception to Dash's first game.

We didn't have terribly high hopes. It was a night game, and Dash had a birthday party to attend that afternoon. We knew he'd be really tired and probably cranky. But he wasn't. He was happy and curious and totally thrilled to be there. I know it's silly to say that a two-year-old got that he was at his first baseball game and everything that it meant to his father. But I swear to God he did. From the moment we sat down and he saw men taking the field he just knew that something awesome was about to go down.

There was a family one row ahead of us with a mom and her teenage son and his girlfriend. She coo'd a little over Dash and said she could remember her son's first game. That in the blink of an eye he went from a darling toddler to the tall and awkward kid sitting at her side. All I could think was, Yes, and he is still sitting at your side here. After all those years. I hope we are blessed that way, too.

On the way in

Josh & Dash have a game (sorta like Marco Polo) where Josh says, "Vladimir" and Dash responds, "Gew-weh-wo"

Dash's first Cracker Jacks were a hit, but the prize was seriously the worst I've ever seen. A mini-bio of Ben Franklin. No joke.

It was Guerrero Bat and Ball Day


A really good day