Friday, September 24, 2010

The Suite Life

You guys. Our new friends, the Babkes family, invited us to watch the Dodgers vs. Padres last night.

From a suite.

Do you know about this? I decidedly did not or I would have refused to ever attend sporting events any other way. Seriously. I am ruined for stadium seating. It's like a fucking hotel room. Except instead of a balcony there's a viewing deck. And instead of a mini-bar stocked with $12 Snickers there was a giant tray of free Dodger Dogs. And instead of those sad little bottles of cheap zinfandel there was a fridge stocked with Kendall Jackson. It was heaven.

Why yes, I did pause to take a picture of the wine. Why do you ask?

Also, the company wasn't bad.

Dash & Ben being photo-bombed by Josh.

Dear Adam & Sharon, Sorry I got your kid all hopped up on gummy bears & M&Ms at 10pm. My bad.

But you have to admit, they're pretty entertaining when they're wasted on sugar.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rock City

We did a Halloween dry run this morning:

Simmons Polaroid

I made the costume. Because I can't resist metallic pleather.

Just Keep Swimmin'


Last year we signed Dash up for three separate 4-lesson swim sessions (so, twelve lessons total) at a cost of about $400. We showed up like chumps every Saturday morning and watched this swim "instructor" drag him around the pool for five minutes. We did this for three months. Three months.

At the end of those three months Dash could swim exactly as well as he could at the start of those three months. So, not at all. Seriously. Not. At. All. The kid sunk like a stone the minute he hit the water. He could not grasp the concept of kicking or moving his arms in order to propel himself forward. Every swim-centered party involved Josh & me sitting in the kiddie pool with him on our laps. It was sad & a little embarrassing.

And then we heard about Karen. Karen is like a myth in our community. People have heard tell of her, but almost no one knows how to find her. She doesn't have a website. There are no reviews of her on Yelp. When we finally did learn her name and tried Googling her, all we found was that she had won a few awards for best Christmas decorations in her neighborhood.

Anyway (I do carry on, don't I?). We found her! And we booked her! And by the end of his first lesson, Dash was swimming. By the end of the ten-lesson session (part of her deal is that you go every day for five days, take the weekend off and then again for another five days in a row), he was really, really swimming. Like a kid who can swim.

That's him up top with his buddies from preschool (we booked them as a group) on graduation day. Swimmers, all three.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

How'd We Do?

OK, Labor Day has passed & I'm calling time on Summer (Josh hates it so hard when I do this).

So! Shall we see how we did on our...

Mainly Summer 2010 (But Not Exclusively) Engel Family Goal List as Conceived by its Matriarch

1. Learn to crochet--Fuckin' a.
2. Go to the snow--Dunzo.
3. Go camping--Fail
4. Get a cabin at Russian River--Yup.
5. Make gazpacho entirely from veggies I grew--I'm calling it a win.
6. Grow those veggies--Hell yeah.
7. Learn to ride a bike with Dash--Next stop: Tour de France .
8. Movie night--Si.
9. Malibu beach day--Oui.
10. Watch Josh run his first ever full triathlon in Palm Springs--Or even two.
11. Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo--Nopesky.
12. Make a quilt for Josh & me--Like a hurricane.
13. Go strawberry picking--Picked some winners.
14. Make jam from #13--Um, duh.
15. Visit Legoland or Universal Studios--Legoland FTW!
16. Invite friends over for mussels--Not yet, but I'm not giving up on this one yet.
17. Go to the Hollywood Bowl--Booooo.
18. Take Dash to see a play--Hells yeah.
19. Go to the LA Times Festival of Books-Ugh.
20. Picnic at LACMA--I win at winning.
21. Go to the Ventura County Fair--Sads.
22. Find a great bra--Hm. Turns out when you lose 35 lbs., all your old bras start to fit fine. Who'da thunkit?
23. Go apple picking--Not yet but for suresies this Fall.
24. Rent a boat--Nuts.
25. Lose the baby weight--Done & done.
26. Bake a fancy cake--Maybe for Halloween?
27. Take care of my feet (gross)--My feet are awesome.
28. Read 12 books--Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaa. On track to read maybe five. MAYBE.
29. Eat at one seriously fancy restaurant--We still have time.

OK. So 18 out of 29 nine months in. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


There is so much that I just don't know where to start.

The days are getting shorter, huh? We have to turn on the living room light when we get up in the morning now. Isn't it funny, how you start to forget there can ever be any season other than the one you're in and then--blam-- the scent of fall wafts by or the color of the light changes and you're instantly transported to the Next.

We put the house up for sale.

Five years ago, about this time, I was pregnant & we had just made the difficult decision to move out of our tiny house in the valley. We needed more space, better schools, safer streets, and we found them all (and more) in our new community. The very first time we saw our house it was bathed in the same color light as it is now.

It's so, so hard to say goodbye to our little house. We became a family of three here. It's the only house Dash has ever known. It's where he learned to swing a bat and where we've celebrated his every birthday.

But say goodbye we must. The mortgage has become a burden and we are coming to the realization that it likely won't ever be worth near what we paid. If we sell, Josh has the option of becoming a stay-at-home dad. We'll have a lot more breathing room, financially. We'll be able to start traveling again. Life will be better. Easier. But it's still sad to leave a house you love. That you thought you'd live in forever.

Remember when I went crazy last year? When I started to feel like I was drowning in my boys? In my role as wife and mother? I never really talked about what came next.

What came next was this: my beautiful friend Jen took me for a mani-pedi and in her gentle, kind way told me about an anti-anxiety medication that might help me. I had never, ever, in a million years considered medication before. It was for other people. Definitely not for people like me. I'm Russian, for chrissakes. If we get depressed we write Crime & Punishment. If we get anxious we drink vodka. But something about the way she spoke to me made it feel ok. Made it feel like something I should think about.

So I did. And then I made a doctor's appointment. And then he gave me a sample bottle with ten pills in it. And then my life changed.

I don't want to be dramatic here, but seriously: my life changed. I fell back in love with my husband in a way I didn't realize was possible for old, married couples with kids. I fell in love with my son in a way that made me a better person. A better mother and friend and citizen of the Earth. I fell in love with making beautiful, silly things for the sheer pleasure of making them. I fell in love with eating good, whole foods and stopping when I knew I ought to. I fell in love with my garden and my neighbors. I fell in love with life. My small, uneventful, funny little life.

And I'm still in love with all of those things. And that love has shored me up to contend with the sale of our house, and the not knowing where we'll live, and the terrifying thought of having to pack up so, so much shit. Oh my God, the packing. I had forgotten about the packing.

Happy Fall, doves. It will be, for sure.