Thursday, August 30, 2007

ZaMeAnDad Still Loves Me

Here's the link he sent me last night...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ander & Zaza Booth with Jessica




Our quest was to procure enough funny booth shots of Ander to fill the 5x7 frame which will hang over his backpack peg in the hall at school. So we packed a bag full of silly spectacles and false noses and stick-on moustaches, picked up Jessica (we just cahhhhhn't booth without her), and headed over to Pull My Daisy.

The booth was printing raw-therrr darkly, and we eventually shoved all the background curtains out of the way (which seems to have caused some odd flash-reflections down the middle of all the faces). But the antiquey unpredictability of booth strips is what it's all about, right? I actually like how the bottom pics have that dark horizontal stripe -- it makes everyone look like they're shoulder-deep in water.

Zaza (she of the Balboa Park booth meltdown) got the booth-bug in the end: running into the deserted booth wearing jek's crazy heart-shaped sunglasses, climbing up onto the stool, and waiting and waiting with hands folded neatly in her lap for the flash, long after all four flashes had popped, and longlong after our crumpled dollar bills had run out.

Later, after we had dropped Jessica back at home, I realized I was wandering the city with a boy wearing a gelato-stained t-shirt emblazoned with the words SUPER HERO, and a girl with a gelato-stained face wearing a thrift store fairy costume and rainbow wings. Augh! The rigid gender roles! Oy! The lax hygiene! (Those kids? The sticky ones making monster noises and hiding in the clothes racks? I have no idea who they belong to. Sniff! Parents these days!)

Oh: and I was wearing two looooong ponytails and red polka-dot barettes. Because I'm almost 39, and that's how all grown-ups wear their hair. (This is not my beautiful wife! This is not my large automobile! How did I get here? And the days go by.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Five Blogs We (okay, I) Love


Tagged by the ever-wonderful jek... (Am I allowed to tag you back? If I tag your "Dilly-Do" self? Can I tag somebody you have already tagged? Well, I'm going to do both, so there, nyah.)

5 Rockin' Blogistas
with Whom I Check in Daily (Mostly)
and with Whom Ander and Zaza
are to Various Extents Familiar:

Our very own wonderful, magical, oh-so-smarty, deep-feeling, over-thinking, kid-boostering, ever-inspiring, photo-boothing, coloriffic, stuff-loving, pretty-making Jessica of scrumdilly-do! I love her so that I don't even feel like a lame, under-crafting mama when I read her amazing kid-craft posts. Yes, jekky-poo, we SHALL rule the world (or at least some book-lined, ric-rac and vintage button strewn corner of it!). In the mean time, I catch up with her blog daily, hangout with her in person whenever possible, and thank her every time i sit down to do this (as she and the lady below were my inspiration for starting this log).

Catherine Neuman aka Dalai Mama, whose original blog over at Parentcenter introduced me to the whole mama-blogger world, and inspired me to build a little home in it. I sit here, reading and nodding (as if she can see) and laughing and crying, and am certain she is speaking directly to me. Because her Ben and Birdy are each one year older than Ander and Zaza, her posts are like a peek into a delicious, silly, and weirdly familiar future. She has taught me to make time to write, to feel better about falling asleep in bed with the kids each night, to live in the moment with them when possible, to be a bit less uptight about toilet humor, to wear tummy-squishing undergarments with gusto (and to surround myself with an 'emotional girdle' of lady friends), and to try to only write nice things about my parents and in-laws.

Alissa of Red Clogs Studio has known Ander since he was still growing inside me, was pretty much his second mommy for his first years, and is still one of his very best (mostly) grown-up friends. Mine too (even if she did go off and have her own baby -- the delicious and brilliant Leo -- and move 3000 miles away from meeeeeeeeeeeeeee). And it's no accident that Aliza's name is so similar, although Alissa quite rightly warned us that nobody would ever spell or pronounce it correctly. Alissa is also an incredible children's book author and illustrator, and Red Clogs is a tantalizing peek into her process.

Andrea of Hula Seventy is leading some weird through-the-looking-glass version of my life in which my parents encouraged me to go to art school and I ended up living in the Pacific Northwest. Her photos and words are inspiring and gorgeous and funny, and remind me to slow down and appreciate the teensy beauty all around me. Her blog has also shown me how connected we can be in this bloggy world -- connected in a talk-until-2am-in-high-school-passionate-friendship-soul-matey sort of way -- and also that one can blog about one's family with great globs of love and without being hurtful or snarky.

And lastly but never leastly, mav and steph of 3191 -- photo-bloggers extraordinaire... (They don't use words, so I won't here.)

Because You Can Never Have Too Many Robots





These blank nesting dolls have been sitting around since Christmas. Ander finally o.d.'d on Yo Gabba-Gabba and Charlie and Lola, and broke into the craft cupboard...and now we have a set of nesting robots.

I love the possibility that his t-shirt choice (One Tough Bot) may have influenced his choice in craft projects...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Glimpse of Zaza's Grown-Up Face


She'll have more teeth, of course. And with any luck that boo-boo won't scar.

Though her nose will morph and solidify and she'll probably attack those brows daily just like her mama, I think, if I squint a bit, there's a wavering version of her future face here.

It makes me feel almost like I can't wait to know that older Zaza. Almost. I mean, I can wait. I lovelovelove the current squishier-nosed and naturally-browed version so much. But I'm excited to meet all the older versions coming along. And it will be lovely someday to sit with the grown-up her, and look at this picture, and see if I was right: that there was indeed a ghost of her eventual bone structure in this bubbly little sprite, and that the light in her eyes is still the same.

Summer is Slipping Away



And Ander hasn't learned to ride his bike, skateboard, tie his shoelaces, or write all his lowercase letters.
But Ander and Zaza have been working diligently to improve their rainbow-chasing and sprinkler-tennis skills.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back Home (You Might Need a Coffee) (Or 2) (Or 3)









I've been recovering from our 'swimming vacation' all week, and just can't seem to get motivated to get out of the house any farther than the yard...

But lovely
jek was working at Tinker this Wednesday, which was double-enticement to get over the hill and into the Valley for some crafting and cupcakes. Jek took the best of the pics above with her super-cool new camera, and that gold guy in yellow shorts is the recycled soccer trophy Ander chose as his project at Tinker (Zaza made a wand).

When not laying around reading Harry Potter and listening to the new
Charlie & Lola CD (yes, you neeeed it, Alissa!), we have been watching dance videos (from Fred Astaire to Prince and Madonna) and this (over and over and over) on Youtube.

Did you know that Terry Hall and Clive Owen are both from Coventry? I think the computer is eating my brain and sucking my strength and making me very snacky. It would seem that I'm an e-pot-head! (Plus, I was up until 1:30 watching Croupier and Mad Men.)

Must. Log. Off.

Monday, August 06, 2007

8 Thangs x 3 = 24 Thingmajigs


(Meme-tagged by jek!!!)

8 Things About Ander
  1. He has a very adventurous pallette: he will try a bite of just about any food, even if it looks gross or smells strange. (He may then spit that bite out with extreme gusto and many napkin-wipes of his tongue, but still...)

  2. He has two tiny freckles on the right side of his neck. We think maybe a teensy chocolate vampire bit him there (Zameandad and I do indeed find that particular bit of his neck to be very kissable and nibble-some). His friend Mr. A has a strikingly similar set of freckles, in nearly the very same spot.

  3. He and I keep a mental list of all the strange ways he manages to hurt himself. (Most recently he bumped into a baby doll which flipped over his head and bonked him HARD in the eye socket.)

  4. When he's thinking very hard or worrying that somebody's going to be cross with him his ears "turn off."

  5. His first descriptive phrases as a newly verbal toddler were "Pink sky" and "Green soap." Any group of more than 2 things was a "party" (as in "banana party" or "car party").

  6. For years he has wanted to be an Artist-Firefighter-Candymaker when he grows up. And then it was an Artist-Paramedic-Candymaker (after he decided fires were too dangerous). Lately he says he wants to be an Architect-Daddy-Artist.

  7. When he was very very little, he was so scared of the shadowy, fern-filled back part of our back yard that he would stop on the lawn, just where the shadow started, and shudder, teeth and fists clenched, eyes wide. (I always wondered what he saw back there that I couldn't see, or if previous owners of our 1920s house had perhaps buried pets back there.) Nowadays he marches right through the darkest part, hiding behind a big tiki, tree ferns, philodendrons, and pretends he's in the jungle.

  8. He can wiggle his eyebrows, and raise them independently of each other. The only way I can get a genuine smile out of him for pictures is to say, "Think of Christmas morning."
8 Things About Zaza
  1. When barely verbal, she would point out the car window at any green awning we passed and shout, "Coffee!"

  2. She used to try to pee while standing up, facing the toilet. Now and then, out of the blue, I will find her sitting, but facing the tank.

  3. She can do the splits.

  4. When she was born she was very pink, but also a bit jaundiced, and one of the nurses said she was a delicious little Fuji apple. Oh yes she was. Sweet and juicy.

  5. She has made me call Poison Control, twice. First: she took a good long suck of (stupidly) gingerbread-scented anti-bacterial gel. Nothing came of it. Now and then after that I'd find her sucking on an anti-bacterial wipe. (She still likes the smell of rubbing alcohol, Purell, and Handi-Wipes.) Second: she took a bite out of a sunscreen stick. No adverse side-effects, and -- bonus! -- her intestines were well-shielded from the sun's damaging rays!

  6. She is very bossy when it comes to singing along to CDs in the car. "NO! YOU sing the man part, and I sing the girl part!" "NO music!" "LOUDER!" "SING, Ander! SING!"

  7. She refused baby cereal and baby foods, presumably because she wanted to eat what her brother was eating. And yet she had an extraordinarily delicate gag-reflex, so even diced up bananas ended in retch-fests. Hence she was an extremely efficient (strong, fast, business-like) power-nurser and didn't eat solid foods -- except an occasional spoonful of yogurt -- until she self-weaned when she was a year old. She is now a mind-bogglingly finicky and frustratingly fickle eater. (Actually, you would think she was a laid-back, enthusiastic, champion eater if you served her a banquet of Fearless Franks, cheese sticks, yogurt, crackers, and cantaloupe.) The inconsistency is a real vein-popper for me: one day she likes baby carrots, the next day she hates them; she used to eat whole apples, and now she refuses them even if sliced and slathered in peanut butter; she pops fistfuls of blueberries into her mouth, but then spits them out into her napkin when they're sprinkled in her oatmeal; she eats every banana in the house, and then refuses the next bunch, waiting until they're black to demand a yellow one.

  8. At about 7pm she begins to tell us that she doesn't "want to be a big girl" -- because big girls go to sleep, alone, in their own beds (after stories, snuggles, and lullabies), and stay in bed all night. Until about two months ago, she still really, really needed to wrap herself around my arm, and bury her face in my neck tightly enough to suction-cup her nostrils to my neck-skin in order to fall asleep. (I admit, I haven't been in a hurry to curtail her neeeeeeeeeeeeeed for me at bedtime. I kind of love lying there in the dark, listening to my children breathing. Oh wait, this is supposed to be Zaza's list)
8 Things About Me
(too tired -- check back later)
(12 hours and 2 cups of coffee later)
  1. Despite what Zameandad thinks, I am (somewhat) merciless about tossing out my childrens' artwork. Heartless? Shocking? Well, maybe a bit. I display tons of it, and date-stamp and save the things that were created with somewhat archival materials that show leaps in style and development. But I also scan favorites and non-archival pieces, and take pictures of the 3-d stuff, which allows me to toss the originals into the recycling bin when everybody's in bed at night. So, yeah, that Calder-inspired circus of Ander's is sleeping with the fishes. Sneaky, I know. But we do live in a small house with what passed for storage space in 1921.

  2. I get bored -- very, very bored -- over the course of a day with my truly beloved kids. So bored I could nap on the spot. Play-parks put me in a coma. There just isn't enough coffee in the world some days, and so I plunk huge blobs of Play Dough on the table with some plastic utensils (or, shamefully, plunk the kids down in front of 'educational t.v.') and go hide here. I contemplate starting a password-protected 'shadow blog' (the Misadventures of A&Z) which re-tells each Ander & Zaza post but leaves in all the half-hour tantrums and hours of Noggin and time-outs. Today there have been stories, clay-play, pretend school (with real workbooks), a Leap Frog video, Anti-Coloring Books, and swinging on the backyard swings. And I just want to sleep. If all those celebrities check into Cedars seeking treatment for 'exhaustion,' why can't I?

  3. I'm a geek. Okay so maybe this isn't something you didn't already know. But let's just say I can talk the talk Star Wars-wise ("This reminds me of when Luke used his tow-cable to trip up that All-Terrain-Armored-Transport Walker during the battle on the ice planet of Hoth!"), I received the Only Female Customer Discount at my favorite comic book store in Monterey as a teenager, and the staff of my current comic store knows me by name. This also makes me a geek-magnet (which is why I avoid riding the bus).

  4. I broke my arm the day before my 6th birthday. Having recently transferred to a new school, I was ahead of my new class curriculum-wise, and the teacher had run out of things for me to do. Sometimes she sent me to other classrooms to read to the younger kids. Sometimes she had me take an art book off the shelf and copy paintings in crayon. But this day she sent me out to the empty and adult-free playground with another child. I decided to try the big-kids' swing-across bars (monkey bars? what are they called? those big horizontal ladders in the sky?), and I climbed up, held onto the first bar, swung for the next, and missed. I fell on top of my left arm on hard-packed sand. I broke both bones in my arm between the elbow and the wrist, and they wanted to keep me in the hospital, but it was my birthday, so I went home. My mom fashioned a sling-strap out of a soft velvet ribbon, and made my cake in the shape of an arm in a big white cast. And I was pushed around the San Diego Zoo in a wheelchair for my party on the weekend.

  5. When my little brother was deployed last time, I didn't prune the rose bush he gave me as a house-warming present until he got back safely. It reached the roof of the garage and threw its knee-high neighbors into shadow, but I just couldn't cut it back. This time around I thought ahead. Just before he left again 2 weeks ago, I pruned the heck out of it.

  6. I am thinner and younger-bodied in my dreams. And for the past year or so most of my dreams have either played out in an unknown and unnamed European city OR a futuristically remodeled and expanded version of the UCLA campus and surrounding neighborhood. In either setting, I have some sense of direction and some feeling of familiarity with my surroundings (I know the street with the toy store on it is just past the clock tower in the old city, and I know where the independent bookstore is in the future-Westwood). Ander and Zaza are almost never there. I like to think that's because (as I promise them each night) some part of me is having adventures with them in their dreams.

  7. I can't do any of the following very well or at all: sew, cook, knit, play an instrument, dance, draw, do a cartwheel, type using the 'home row', carry a tune, say 'February,' or speak another language. I'll get around to those at some point. I have never changed a flat, rented a car myself, used a power tool (other than an electric screwdriver which really ought not to count), cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, or sung karaoke. Not so sure I want to do any of those, except maybe the power tool thing.

  8. I have a Neruda quote stuck to my magnet board that starts "I have a crazy, crazy love of things." I love bowls, smooth stones, hedgehogs, books old and new, root beer floats, scissors, tea cups, sharpening pencils, the smell of the top of an infant's head, ric-rac, buttons, straw purses, polka-dots. But I hate dust and dusting, so I don't really have that many of these things. Except the bowls. And the straw purses. And the books of course (but they don't count do they?).

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wet Every Day for Two Weeks






The last day of their 2-week lessons at the posh Coronado Municipal Pool.
  • Ander seems to have achieved a real sense of freedom and fun in the water.
  • And Zaza finally let go of me, let go of the wall, yanked her goggles off, and only took her face out of the water to grab a breath...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

On the Way Back to the Car





What Zaza Did on the 'Real Beach'






She was TERRIFIED of the waves. They were LOUD. And she was certain they were coming to get her. She clung to me like a lemur (making it very tricky to bend over and pick up sand dollars), and would shriek and squirt tears if I so much as put her feet on wet sand. If I didn't pick her up, she would just take off across the sand, running back towards the rocks and the sidewalk. Eventually she calmed down enough to sit in my lap at the edge of the wet sand. Joggers ran past us as we watched the surf camp kids on their foam boards, and the pelicans flopping into the waves. She discovered that she loveslovesloves to runrunrun in soft sand.

Beachcombing Between the Shores and the Del (the "Real' Beach)











Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wave-Riding, Pigeon-Chasing, and Grandadding






It's a good little beach, the Bay-side beach at the Landing: rarely crowded, only a few short blocks from my folks' house, a blessedly short walk from sidewalk to water's edge, small waves, shallow water, ferries and cargo ships and sail boats and kayaks and jet skis and helicopters and passenger planes and pelicans and the occasional sea lion to watch, and a fresh water foot bath to rinse in afterwards.

Sand