Sunday, March 30, 2008

Everybody Clap, Everybody Sing

The Lovely Ms. K convinced me that a Wiggles concert is a parental-rite-of-passage, and so she and little Miss G and Zaza and I rocked with Anthony, Jeff, Murray and Sam at the Nokia Theater.

Meanwhile, that arch, sixteen year-old in my head rolled her eyes, snorted, rated my Target-bought outfit, and smirked at my station wagon.
While I find them charmingly square, Zaza and I are not what you would call Wiggles fans. I mean, I appreciate the lo-fi-ness of the TV show (even after Disney got to them), their music and muggery provide a quaint backdrop on a rainy afternoon, and it's very nice to have some guys out there entertaining kids. And yes, we each have a favorite Wiggle (I like ex-Wiggle Greg's voice, she likes waking up Jeff). And yes, yes, yes their accents certainly appeal to my 9th grade self, the one who watched "The Man From Snowy River" and "The Year of Living Dangerously" over and over and over.
But Ander and Zaza never wanted the CDs or videos or toys, not even the admittedly cool red plush guitar. So I was completely out of the loop when it came to Wiggles concert etiquette: I did not know about waving 'Wiggle Sticks' (???) during "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" or that we should have brought roses for Dorothy or a big cardboard bone for Wags.

I suspect that there's a whole Wiggles counter-culture out there: paunchy dads and peppy ex-cheerleader moms following them around the world in big red cars, naming their children Dorothy and Feathersword, sharing big bowls of yummy yummy fruit salad as they sit around the billabong. And I can sooo imagine the naughty fan-fiction involving pretty-eyed Anthony and/or the Cap'n. (I will refrain from researching these hunches.)

As Ms. K whispered in my ear, in terms of audience participation and prop usage, a Wiggles concert is "like 'the Rocky Horror Picture Show' for toddlers."

Also, there were ballerinas. (Zaza was besotted.)

The ballerinas wore longish tutus and high-necked leotards, and Miss G was convinced that the ballerina in yellow was actually Sam, the new Yellow Wiggle ("He's so so silly!"). All of the dancers' costumes had a 1950s/60s movie musical vibe in that they were sweetly pretty, fun, story-bookish, and resoundingly un-sexy. Which I actually appreciated. Because it meant the show was for the kids, and not for their parents. There was nothing ironic or knowing or wink-wink-nudge-nudge-Shrek-raising-an-eyebrow-double-entendre-y about any of it. So Bo Peep was Bo Peep, not a too-tightly-corseted-sequin-spangled Vegas Peep.

Zaza danced and sang and did all the arm moves and squeezed Miss G too tightly with excitement, and then got very sleepy and wanted to know when we could go home.

Thank you, thank you, Ms K and Miss G! We had so much fun -- which I never expected -- so much fun that we had to play it waaaay down when we returned home to I'm-too-old-for-a-Wiggles-concert-but-I'll-be-super-jealous-if-it-rocked Ander...

Sunday in the Front Garden: Open-Air Fairy Houses

Can you see the bed made from a shard of clay pot? With a nasturtium leaf blanket and a lavender blossom pillow?
Ander blogged about it over here.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Oy/Ole: Fiesta Latina

Is it just me, or does it seem really, really WRONG to beat Dora and Diego (pinatas) into smithereens at a Latin-American-themed fundraiser???

That said, the kids took their folkdancing very seriously, and Ander loved the cornhusk craft (ah sí, plumas muy auténticas de Sharpie).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Buds and Toes

I stood in the back garden for ten minutes this morning, between the garage and the back door, purse over my shoulder, keys in my hand.

The scent of orange blossoms had slowed me down, and the rosebuds -- just about to burst open -- stopped me in my tracks.

The climbing roses are positively fecund, with great bunches of green buds stretching up and up. The potted aloe has sent up an alien-looking flower stalk. The rosemary is all but obscuring the fountain. The orange tree by the back step has finally decided to move beyond its extended and stunted puberty, and is in serious need of a transplant. The tree ferns are living up to their name as they graze the garage roof, and the back wall is completely invisible now, covered with creeping vines and hidden behind philodendrons and ferns and red-flowering shade-loving plants whose name I can't remember. The braided ficus trees -- that we schlepped in pots from our condo patio and transplanted along next door's garage wall -- have str-e-t-ch-ed, and unbraided their trunks. There seems to be a fig tree growing near the garage roof gutter -- I never planted a fig tree!

When we moved in nine years ago we had stumps and poisonous plants removed, we fed the soil, put in sprinkler systems, filled in the holes in the hedge. I read up on and began collecting edible and medicinal and fragrant plants: nasturtiums, honeysuckle, 10 different varieties of lavender, many, many mints and sages.

I had a green cloth-covered gardening journal, where I sketched out a knot garden for herbs, and kept track of my various bare-root rose purchases. It grew fat with Polaroids of various beds and pasted-in magazine photos of silvery, drought-tolerant plants. I kept track of what plants bloomed when, which seemed happiest where they had been planted (I moved things around a lot), and noted when I released ladybugs or sprayed with neem oil. I pined for water features. I spent hours pick-pick-picking the crabgrass out from between the bricks in the patio. I planted pumpkin seeds, but never grew a pumpkin. I considered getting a turtle for snail-control purposes. I rhapsodized over a terra cotta birdbath I received as a birthday gift. I fretted over the chemical content of fertilizers and pesticides, over our proximity to bus-lines and auto-repair shops (should we eat what we manage to grow?).

ZaMeAndad tended the hedge-wall, fortifying the perimeter. I daydreamed and weeded and pruned and nested.

And then there were babies.

The garden became a backdrop, a playground, a birthday party site, a place where fairies build houses and hummingbirds whizzzz by and soccer balls roll and swings are swung upon and everybody splashes in the blow-up pool. We toss in some nasturtium seeds, we prune the roses, we release ladybugs to feast on aphids, the sycamore and the oak tree get a professional haircut in the Fall, but mostly the garden has been left to itself -- and it has flourished, grown up, grown stronger.

It's a wilder place -- there's not much 'knot' left to the knot garden these days, and the 'fern grotto' is more of a jungle -- no longer a high-maintenance, neurotically-tracked first offspring. Ander and Zaza have planted carrots and sunflowers in random clay pots, sprinkled seashells and special pebbles under shrubberies, and have dug up worms and old marbles. There are at least four plastic trowels scattered in various flower beds, and holes from 'rock-planting' experiments pock the side-yard.

And somehow this all all reminds me of pillowy, never-before-walked-upon baby feet, with those spherical little pink currant-toes. Which reminds me that I see the baby in Zaza less and less -- maybe only when I wrap her in a towel after her bath, when I tip her backwards and hold her like a little terry cloth bundle and stare down into her face. I realize that I no longer measure their height or record their doctor's visits in a little spiral-bound notebook. Zaza and Ander have flat-bottomed toes now, and bony, flat-bottomed feet that have grown long and strong and a little wild while I was glancing away.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter at Tutu and Grandad's

Slipping through time, like a wet Easter egg through their ever-growing fingers...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Traditional Dying of Proteinated Ovoids

Judging by Zaza's expression, she isn't a big fan of vinegar...

And somehow I forgot to take pictures of the final product!

Egg Games

Zaza refused to play this with Ander after her first (unsuccessful) run.
This seemed complicated at first, but was ultimately very fun, and very silly, and so I've decided to add it to the game shelf instead of squirrelling it away with the Easter things.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Last Day of Spring Break, First Day of Spring

I proposed a photo safari, and Ander said YEAH, and so we ended up at Descanso Gardens.

When he was 2 and 3, we spent every Friday there, and it was wonderful and strange to be there with big-guy him. The colors were so bright and the sun so hot, that everything was shimmery, and I kept getting little glimpses of long-ago Ander. I pined a bit for him, even as I sat across the cafe table from his current-and-oh-so-beloved incarnation.