Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reading Harry Potter with Ander

When I read the first Harry Potter book, I kept thinking I can't wait to read this with my own child.

(Actually, at first I kept thinking I wish I was a child reading this.)

(And not far behind that I was thinking I wish I could go to Hogwarts.)

Being a children's bookseller during the first years of the Harry Potter Phenomenon was life-altering. Really. Truly. It somehow had the immediate weight of historical importance -- we knew right away that we would be remembering "the un-boxing of Book 3" the way our folks remembered the moon landing.

This is coming out all overly important and geeky and I'll probably be poring over this post as a draft for a few days. But it was just... just cool being one of the few grownups who could talk the talk with the wizard-loving tweens. It was beyond exciting to see all these kids so so so into reading, and being totally unashamed about their passion for the books and their knowledge of the fully-formed world within the covers.

And it wasn't just that either -- it was a reawakening of that voracious reader of magical fiction that I had been -- the one who laid in bed on summer mornings reading and reading, just wanting to be transported to other times and places where kids just like me had adventures and did extraordinary things and walked in beautiful places. Hogwarts was everything I ever wanted in an escape-from-my-own-reality locale, fulfilling so many of my 12 year-old heart's deepest desires: a boarding school, a haunted boarding school, with round-walled dormitories in the turrets and fireplaces in the common rooms, where smart kids are rewarded, where magic is taught, all in a castle, in England, on a lake... This was heaven.

I still feel a little ache, way down deep, a sad, whiny, yearning, want to actually be a first-year, to actually be there.

So at long, long last I'm reading the books with Ander. I used to think I'd wait until he was 10 or 11 like Harry is in the beginning, and that I might actually try to make him wait a year in between books like we had to, so that he could grow with the characters. But we've read the Spiderwick Chronicles and Fergus Crane and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and he's peripherally aware of all the delicious hype around the release of the final book and the 5th film, and as he puts it every day now he's "hungry for Harry!"

He won't let Zameandad read it to him. He won't let me check the CDs out from the library for the car trip home. Even though I can't do the accents, he wants me, "the Harry Potter expert" he says. I am so dang cool to him right now!

We finished Sorcerer's Stone. Paused. Caught our breath. Practiced our "wingardium leviosas." We watched the first film when Zaza fell asleep early last night. He decided he liked the book more because there were "more scenes." He missed the whole Norbert storyline and the other teachers' protective spells for the Stone (Snape's potions riddle, etc.). He was surprised by Quirrell's demise in the film (he's only wounded in the book). He didn't think Harry's hair was messy enough, and his eyes aren't green.

We rested. After thinking hard about the scary bits with Voldemort at the end of Book 1, and knowing that the books get scarier, he decided that perhaps he'd like to read Book 2 when he's older -- maybe even next summer.

But two days later we're already 5 chapters into Book 2... Still hungry for Harry!

(The picture shows the contents of our pool bag.)

Monday, July 30, 2007

At the Coronado Public Library

One of my favorite childhood libraries*, now gorgeously remodeled and expanded.

They had an AWESOME Harry Potter display going on, as well as a great Summer Reading club. Ander and Zaza 'read' 10 library books each, which earned them craft projects, fun Polaroid pics (see top), and tickets to the San Diego Zoo and to Legoland. (We'll hit the Zoo and Legoland when the weather cools off and the tourists head home.)

*The very best was in Portsmouth Rhode Island. It was old, and had a fireplace. The Harrison Memorial Library in Carmel runs a very, very close second -- I had a favorite studying and journaling spot at a desk in a window overlooking lampposts and Ocean Avenue. I'm ashamed to admit that I stole their hardcover copy of Interview With the Vampire -- it was out of print at the time, and I felt strongly that I needed it more than they did. Bad, bad, bad...

Zaza is reading this book.

More Butterflies

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Butterfly Ride

Balboa Park Carousel

Balboa Park Train Ride

Around and About Balboa Park

Boothing at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park

We do this every time we're in San Diego.

They have two beautiful vintage machines in the gift shop (we've never actually entered the museum itself!).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mommy Goes to the Con

Thanks, Curtis for squiring me around!
But sheesh, I wish I'd known that my old friend Clive was there too...

Thursday, July 19, 2007


We ladies -- Zaza has decided we're 'sisters' -- sure do love the Target Mall (as we call the West Hollywood Gateway mini-mall).

The hair accessory selection at Target is truly dazzling this season. Someday Zaza may actually let me put barrettes in her hair. For now, other than her headbands or her 'ballerina hairdo' (anti-frizz gel, center part, 2 pony-tails, lots of bobby-pins), she prefers to go au naturale, and to clip her barrettes to a grosgrain belt hanging on her armoir. The top picture shows some of our latest finds laying atop a picture of me in preschool. I'm wearing those plastic ball-ended hair elastics. Four year-old me would have LOVED Zaza's barrette collection.

This whole accessory and grooming-product thing is tricky and fraught with peril for me, with all sorts of gender bias and stereotypes and body image issues hiding in the dark corners. I struggle to keep the kids from becoming high-maintenance young people who neeeeeed six brand-name 'beauty' products just to face the world each day. I try to drive home the lesson that we're beautiful just as we are, but then I also believe that it's somehow celebratory and respectful of our selves to decorate and adorn our bodies.

Here's where we are so far: makeup is for grown-ups who are trying to look as fresh and lovely as children; someday, when she's a teenager, if she still wants to, Zaza may wear makeup, but she may not wear it now (unless we're playing dress-up); she may have body glitter, and soft makeup brushes, and pretty hairbrushes and combs, and solid perfumes, and lotions, and temporary tattoos, and lip balms, and all sorts of hair accessories (as long as they do not feature Barbie, a Disney Princess, or the Bratz-aka-'those-mean-girls-with-the-giant-heads-who-wear-too-much-makeup-and-only-care-about-the-way-they-look').

The same rules apply to Ander I suppose. He seems content with his selection of hair gels, waxes, pomades, and color-streaking sprays, his pirate-y/punk-y necklaces, a few tubes of Chapstick, the occasional temporary tattoo, and black, green, or dark blue nail polish. He's usually game to sport some body glitter as well. He got blue nails at the salon last week, and when snarkily questioned by a wise-acre kid in this week's LACMA Art Camp, he said (without looking up from his drawing), "My mom says punk rockers wear nail polish, so...?" He declined my offer to take it off before he went to camp the next day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's Dodger Dog Season

I have no idea what the final score was. I'm fairly certain they were playing the Phillies. We lasted four innings. But it was great.
Zaza decided a Priority Mail sticker was a nice way to show her Dodger spirit: Go Blue!