Friday, December 21, 2007

Ander's School Holiday Show

I kept Zaza out of school so she could cheer along with Grandma and Poppy, and the mid-morning show was very well attended by both moms and dads thanks to the Writers' Guild strike.

As Ander and classmate Mlle. Pomme were both missing their front teeth when rehearsals began, they were singled out for a solo during their class's rendition of "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth." (Their front teeth had mostly grown in by the time the actual performance rolled around, but then I suppose they got what they asked/sung for...)

There was something so awesome (to use Alexander's new favorite adjective, in its proper sense) about tall, first-grader Ander striding purposefully up to the microphone -- there wasn't even a hint of the near-paralyzed kindergartner who whispered his way through last year's Silly Songs concert, or even a glimmer of the little guy who I coached to imagine his audience in their underpants only last night.

I'm still warm and fuzzy from it all. Such a mixture of nostalgia and home-grown fun and crunchy granola-ness, nothing in the least bit slick to hint at our 2-blocks-away proximity to Hollywood: a stage decorated with wonky teacher-made paper snowflakes and hand-painted signs, little girls in fancy holiday dresses paired with crazy socks and hand knit scarves, musical accompaniment provided by two parents on acoustic guitars and the vice principal playing a frumpy upright piano, children wearing paper 'Unity Crowns,' songs in Spanish, poems written (and shouted out) by five year-olds, and a hearty rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Every parent (and grandparent) sang along and there wasn't a dry eye in the cafe-gym-a-torium as Ms. H's class unrolled a hand-painted rainbow banner and sang "Imagine." No one was hip or jaded or concerned about their own hair-dos or their child's flubbed lines or worrying about getting their kid's performance onto high-def video (we all knew we could rely on fellow parent and gym teacher Mr. W to shoot the whole thing for us from his perch on the gymnastics apparatus).

The kids were supposed to go back to class for an hour or so, but walking out with the crowd and into the chill -- Ander in a Santa hat and Zaza sporting a hot-cocoa moustache -- it seemed like a perfect start to Winter Break. So off we go!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Zaza's Holiday Show: The Selfish Giant

She was a flower in the Giant's garden. And she and two other little flowers sang ("Daisy, and lily, and violet and rooooooose...") and danced and were so incredibly cute that they have forced me to write the word cute here. I am resisting with much difficulty the urge to add several extra U's to the word cute. Seriously: my teeth hurt from the sweetness of the whole thing. It was absolutely GOOEY with cuteness!!!! We're talking Sanrio to the nth degree.

(must. attend.
liz. mcgrath. exhibit. to. counteract. sugary. sweetness.)

Zaza knew all the other kids' songs by heart as well -- her personal favorite being the part of the naughty North Wind who exclaims (in a knightly kneeling pose with kung fu punches and an evil laugh for emphasis): "Soon you will feel my icy pain! Ha-hahahahaha!"

She was also raw-therrrr jealous of the Snow Queen's costume -- she had a long, long white train that another girl had to carry behind her and drape over the garden.

This was a fully-staged production, with teacher-made costumes and makeup that rivaled the Cirque du Soleil, as well as original songs, and live piano accompaniment. Thanks to graphic designer parents, there were professionally printed programs complete with lyrics (which aided in singing along supportively, but drew attention to some of the truly baaaaad forced rhyme).

Interestingly (or, rather, uninterestingly), all of Oscar Wilde's Catholic imagery was PC-ly excised from the story -- they even made the Child a girl-child -- although the kids understood that the Giant dies of old age at the end.

We were forbidden (yoiks!) to film or photograph the rehearsals, backstage prep, and performance, with that job being assigned to a select group of 4 or 5 parents/pros (professionally edited DVDs and photo CDs will be available as a fund-raiser in the new year). The pictures above were all taken in the classroom after the play. Ander's friend Mr. A chose the Trader Joe's pink roses to bring to Zaza. He said they were "just sooooooo Zaza." He was right.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Look it up.

This is pretty much the picture in our old dictionary.

You do remember dictionaries, right?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Horton Plaza Ice Rink

Wet trouser seats, soggy mittens, blisters, overpriced and oversized gloves (sold to forgetful moms).
Oh but it's all worth it.
I do love the outdoor icerinks that pop up smack dab in he middle of cities over the holidays. Something about their very temporary-ness, or the sliding gliding view of skyscrapers, or their obscenely convenient proximity to Starbucks' mochas and cocoas.
This one had the rockin' new-fangled ski-boot-style skates that you don't have to lace, and decent piped-in Christmas tunes, and a pretty teenage girl from whom Ander did not mind taking a mini lesson.
Zaza held my hand for about ten minutes, and then she was off -- fueled by images of gliding ice princesses and bolstered by a low center of gravity -- more graceful and confidant than I have ever been on ice.

Monday, November 12, 2007

An E-Mail to Alissa Regarding the Kitchen, Challah French Toast, Missing Mommies, Crying Jags, and Sushi-and-Sausage-To-Go

"Glowing Monster," by Ander
(Crayola Markers and Color Wonder Markers on Color Wonder Paper)

To: alissa

sorry for the tardy response... zaza and i have been swapping chest colds since halloween (continuing right through this past weekend's harvest faire at school). i really just need a week in bed -- why can't i have that???????

the kitchen is awaiting tile and counters, but the end seems near... i got so desperate for a proper sunday breakfast (non-microwaved), that i trotted off to whole foods for scrambled eggs and challah french toast & zipped home fasssst so they'd be warm...

ander questioned me hard the other day about why you moved away -- why you chose YOUR family over him, basically -- and burst into tears. i had to pull the car over to hug him. sometimes his crying jags are so shocking, pouring out of his big 6.5 year old body (with its weirdly toddler-like toothless mouth).

i asked him to imagine living in a strange town far away from all his grandparents and friends. we talked about how college and grad school come to an end. we talked about rent, and freelance work. we talked and talked and talked. he says jessica is doing a good job of being his 'new alissa' craft-wise, but she's just not his other mommy the way you were, and she doesn't DRAW...

oh and ander and zaza are playing restaurant as i type this, and ander just asked the proprietor ('za) if he can get his sushi and sausage to go "for in the car, like at in-and-out burger."

goddddd we need the kitchen to be finished.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Griffith Park: Ander and I Build Fairy Houses Whilst Zaza Serenades Hikers

I think it was "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (over and over and over), and then applause erupted from the hiking trail and she ran into my arms, mortified but delighted. See the hikers in the background? See the poor, gouged, tagged sycamore trunks? See Zaza actually wearing jeans?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

2007 Autumn Portraits

(shhhhhh: I liked last year's better...)

I was stuck in the Owl Service booth, so poor Zameandad had to wrangle these guys. Apparently Zaza threw a fit (hence the puffy eyes, splotchy coloring and tall hair) and refused to change out of her princess costume. Ander needed a haircut and some time running around in the sun. Some of these were raw images, and I'm not sure the correct light source made the transfer. And nobody shot in black and white this year. But then again, three sittings with three different professional photographers -- all for under $75 -- is a darn good deal, and my favorite school fundraiser.

The Owl Service Swoops in for Ander's School Harvest Faire

Lady J and I thought our city kids needed some woodsy nature crafts sprinkled with fairy lore. So with materials 'borrowed' from the Angeles National Forest (doing our part in the much-needed fire season brush-clearing effort, okay???*), we set the kids to work making wands and fairy habitats.

It was waaaaaaaaaaaaay fun, and rumor has it our booth raised the most money for the school. (If you don't count the bouncey house.) Anyway, we rocked, in an acorn-y, glue-gunny, pebble-and-bark-strewn way.

Next time we'll leave our Ren-Faire-esque/Nature-Mama/Fairy-Queen costumes at home (hot glue guns and swoopy goopy dresses do not mix).

*That was an adventure itself -- and thank goodness the kids weren't with us and there is no photo record. Let's just say one should really, really be ver certain to check one's cell phone batteries, gas gage, and snack and water supply before driving up and up into the freshly-burnt mountains, unless one wants to become the next stupid-citified-white-women-lost-in-mountains statistic.