Wednesday, September 24, 2008


We have been up to all sorts of shenanigans, really we have.

I've just been terminally annoyed with my camera as of late, and when I don't have pictures to download I get distracted by, um, life (and laundry, and the first head-cold of the school year). But I have done some backposting, back there in early August, so you know, there's that.

Things that were witnessed, but not photographed, this week:
  • Zaza taking a pram full of baby dolls to the doctor because she was worried they all had "ear confections" (yummmm! tiny maple sugar ears! or little pink gummi ears!

  • Ander pulling on a plain green t-shirt, grimacing at his reflection in the mirror, and then asking me if it would "hurt his reputation" to wear such a plain shirt, because he is apparently "sooo NOT a plain person"

  • Ander and Miss Kitty running all over each other's words as they fought to tell me about the apparent highlight of their day, i.e. "the applesauce incident" in which -- get this -- true I swear -- omigosh -- heeeheeee -- Miss Kitty dropped her applesauce -- really! -- on Ander's shoe. Whoa.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Movie Night

Ander and Zaza zipped through dinner-bath-jammies so they could watch this movie before bedtime.

But before we hit the PLAY button, there was Jiffy Pop to be popped and Tutu's Magical (Drive-In) Movie Mix to mix up.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Autumn is the New Spring: Room Re-Shuffle

This is actually less-cluttered than it was. Seriously.

My seemingly uncontrollable need to make everything *NEW* for the new school year built to a frenzy in Ander's room this week. After all, he needs an organized-yet-inspirational space in which to work and create and read and hide from his sister, right?

Nature stuff found a new home in an old CD rack, and early/easy paperback 'readers' moved to Zaza's room. Potato Heads and Bonz moved into the dining room to encourage brother-sister creature building sessions. The ongoing art projects which usually live in glue-y piles on his desk are now neatly filed: Flip Books, Origami, Toy Designs, Altered Book, Character Design (X-Haven & Food Court).

Ander chose Ikea picture frames and Target skateboard shelves for his revamped Art Wall, as well as a new duvet cover, and a chrome bedside reading lamp ("very Pixar" he said). The mobile was switched from robots to mini Ugly Dolls, and a string of Mon-Star lights which has sat spiralled in its dusty plastic case for over a year finally went up.

If his room had a theme -- and we're both not so keen on theme-y rooms -- it would be "Monster Lab" (insert evil scientist / mad genius laugh of your choosing here).

Crocs and Cons are stored in felt-bottomed trays under the bed. There are new wacky socks and snazzy new 'covered waistband' boxer-briefs in the nundy basket. There are cool new t-shirts with skulls and robots and aliens and such. There are last year's trousers cut down to skater-length shorts.

We're good to go.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Trying to Buy Myself Ten More Minutes of Sleep...

...I requested that my way-too-wide-awake-at-seven-a.m. children each draw me a robot dancing with a ballerina:

Oh the awesomeness!

It's almost enough to turn me into a morning person.


Or at least into somebody who smiles and snort-giggles as she stumbles into the kitchen in search of coffee.

So Mr. A Brings Back this Coool Wrestling Mask for Ander from His Vacation in Mexico...

...and later I ask Ander for a family portrait (including the cat)...

Besides the obvious, I adore the Crocs, the flip-flops and cargo pockets and arm hair, and the cleavage and rolled jeans.

Friday, September 05, 2008

BACK (Back Home, Back to School, Back-Posting, Oh My Aching...)

Over the course of this lovely, long, hothothot summer -- the chunks we spent in San Diego and the bits that we spent at home -- there has been no computer time for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

In San Diego, the fact that the house computer was my father's personal laptop kept me barely and rarely on-line. Back home, if I so much as checked e-mails, I found Ander at my elbow (towering over my elbow these days), and then his clammy hands were patting my clammy arms, and then he was wheedling for time on the computer (even -- GASP! -- agreeing to help Zaza mouse around the Sesame Street website).

So there's that excuse.

And then I have spent the entire summer joyfully struggling through a very good but verrrry long book, a book about magic which has seemingly bewitched me, and even now tempts me with its Georgian charms away from this infernal technology.

So, again, excuse.

While I took many many pictures and started playing with my new flip, I mostly lolled about in the moment and just didn't bother blogging.

No excuse really.

But as of today Ander and Zaza are both back in school, and I have all sorts of intentions to back-post and reinforce my already fading memories of July-August 2008.

Ander's First Day of Second Grade (on a Friday -- wha-huh?)

New shoes. He's between sizes in Converse sneakers, so he went with his marbleized 'Mocks' (faux Crocs from Target).

New Gary Baseman lunchbox. Yes, it's pink. I suppose the artwork is a bit bloody, but the boy does have artists for heroes, so I'm not complaining. (It's only outside of the backpack for the sake of these pictures.)

The new backpack was finally settled upon last week, and then there was the whole process of switching various pins and buttons and patches and charms and mascots from the old red pack to this new one. Inside there is also a tin of colored pencils and a small sketchbook (for the inevitable wait during after school pickup), a folder for bringing home important papers, sour 'mints' in a Corpse Bride tin, vanilla-scented foaming hand-sanitizer, a water bottle, and a green apple for snack.

A distinct lack of back-to-school haircut. His hair seems to have rediscovered the curls of his toddlerhood, and neither he nor I can bear to snip them off just yet. And no, we don't brush it. A good finger-combing to check for snarls, and a spritz of louse-repelling tea tree oil, and he's good to go. Again, he's got people like this for fashion icons.

The boy does love his zany socks, and, as in years past, he opted for a collared shirt to be just a smidge fancy.

(Oh yes: Zaza did finally settle on a new lunchbox.)

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Ander was pretty anxious. Though he didn't get that way until last night.

He found out two days ago that he wasn't in the same class as his three closest buddies. But he actually seemed okay with that, because there were plenty of other kids he knew and liked on the class list, and he would be sure to see Mr. A at recess. He wasn't even that fazed by the as-yet-unseen 'new' temporary site for the school (in portables, on the grounds of another elementary school). He seemed relatively blase about meeting his new teacher -- he had heard from his friend and carpooling buddy Miss Kitty that the new teacher was kind and young and excited.

It was more of a general anxiety about leaving me, I think. That and a vague, sub-subconscious struggle with the transition from our lackadaisical summer 'schedule' to the rhythms of the school day.

By last night he was smooshing his head into his pillows and tremulously whisper-wailing, "I just don't think I can do this."

So hooray for our new carpool.

I was able to drop him off at Miss Kitty's house a bit early for what amounted to a morning mini-playdate. With a blown kiss and a backpack-charm-jingling turn, he was off to explore Miss Kitty's apartment and play with her cats and pet her dad's guitars. He only had to wave goodbye to Miss Kitty's mom at drop-off (no tearful, clutching farewell to me and Zaza) -- and Mr. A was waiting for him on the playground.

The pickup line was outrageously long, snaking along three blocks of a crowded Hollywood avenue. But once Miss Kitty and Ander were buckled in, they pronounced it a good first day. Things were familiar enough (same furniture and rugs, same wonderful lady in the office, same beloved P.E. teacher and drama teacher), and those that weren't familiar were only mildly annoying (backpacks have to be left outside the portables; bathroom visits are on a specific schedule) or just plain interesting (tetherball courts! lunch outside, at picnic tables!). They liked that their teacher (the Lovely and Talented Miss G) read them this book, and that she let them know a bit about herself when she told them that her copy had been a gift from her brother when she graduated from college.

We met Mr. A and his family at Yogurtland for a celebratory frozen yogurt (is there a theme here?), and the little kids were out of control, but the bigger kids were so happy to be together, and all the excitement and newness and excited-expectation was sooo contagious.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

They Have Been Forced to Be Friends All Summer Long

...and that having to get along has been the best, most important thing they accomplished this summer -- better than ice cream, more important than swimming.

Oh, and the above Crayola Window Marker experiment was fraught with arguments over placement of drawings and usage of footstools, and accusations of copying, but was also laced with fits of cooperation and ingenious compromises.

Which is pretty cool considering I just wanted them busy and outside and away from the television while I made dinner.

Plus, I ended up with a nicely Windexed patio door.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Zaza's First Day of School (Her Second -- and Final -- Year of Preschool)

She hadn't settled upon a new lunchbox yet, so she's working one she received for her birthday -- a bit scuffed, but new-ish.

And this was a last-minute wardrobe choice, as temperatures approached 90 degrees (we'll save the navy blue dress dotted with red apples with matching knee socks and chunky red Mary Janes for the Autumn).

She said she had BIG butterflies in her stomach, but I told her that meant she was full of fluttering, excited BEAUTY, and reminded her she would see all of her friends from the princess party, and so she ran up those stairs to school.

After pickup, we met Lady J and family at Zanzabelle for a celebratory ice cream.

Mmmmmm. The sweet, sweet start of a new year.

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I can't believe she's so big. (Zaza, not Lady J.)

She's always been long and lean, and uber-coordinated, and far more graceful than Ander or I. And she has always walked like a lady, in some old-fashioned, courtly sense of the word. There are only fleeting glimpses of the baby in her now: a soft cheek pressed into my neck, a peek of dimpled tush, that funny bifurcated belly button, a bit of that once-oh-so-familiar-baldy-scalp winking at me along her part.

(Still, the very smell of her, her curls tickling my chin, makes me languid and ghost-of-nursing drowsy. My body longs for her to be a sleepy infant, curving into my curves. I close my eyes and breathe her in, and I can feel the world slowing down and shrinking to a sideways view of dappled sunlight and eyelashes and white bedsheets.)

Her speech has smoothed out so much over the summer, and she's just so much fun to talk with.
I lovelovelove untangling her word-puzzles when she can't remember a word. "Those pacifiers? That grown-ups suck on? But they're not pacifiers? And they make stinky gas?" (Those would be cigarettes.) She does not like "pegleg bathrooms" (those would be public bathrooms, though I quite like the idea of a restroom just for pirates). Some of her words for things fit better than their 'proper' names: personally, I think "bounce-a-leen" is much more descriptive than trampoline.

I'm so happy to be carpooling in the morning mostly because it allows Zaza and I to drive alone to her school, singing along with Elizabeth Mitchell, or rolling the windows down and listening to the city's morning sounds. We discuss the concept of 'overcast,' and sigh with longing at sycamore-lined streets that cross our cement-y-er route. She makes up songs and talks with her hands.

On the way home she actually tells me about her various 'jobs,' and her favorite teacher, and all about the dramas of the play-yard.

Such a big girl. My big girl. My baby.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Days Remembered

Just as the end of the school year leaves me a little melancholy, the beginning of a new school year transforms me into a giddy dervish, whirling through the back-to-school supply aisles, and running full-out towards September and all its delicious dangling possibilities, tingly-toed-happy-nervous, gaping shiny-eyed at all the impending brand-spanking newness.

For me as a child, every two years or so, the start of a new school year was the start of a new life in a new town (sometimes a whole new state, or even a whole other coast).

There was always a special new first day of school outfit, an outfit which had been oh-so-care-full-y chosen from the pages of the Sears or Penny's or L.L. Bean catalogue, an outfit whose arrival was torturously anticipated (would it arrive on time? would it fit? would I magically transform into the perky and confidant model from the catalogue when I tried it on?).

Later I would worry angst-ily if my clothes and lunch broadcasted the 'right' sort of Cliff's Notes version of my personality to my peers, but in grade school it was still just about the thrill of the beginningness and all that newness: all the new kids in their new clothes and new shoes meeting the new teacher in the new room where we would each have our very own desk; the smell of new paint and new carpet and Windex and pencil shavings and new crayons. Sometimes I'd have a new binder and a 'school box' with new pencils (ooh! mechanical!) and a new yummy-smelling Sanrio eraser and maybe even mucilage or a protractor!
Each new year was a clean slate, a new beginning, a chance for reinvention and discovery.

Or maybe it was more like visiting a foreign city that you've read up on: you have your itinerary, you have a trusted guide and comfy new shoes, you're familiar with the landmarks and have some grasp of the language...and all the rest is deliciously unexplored and terrifyingly uncharted.

Which was all pretty good practice for this longer trek with Ander and Zaza.

And now, underlying all those old-new feelings of anticipation and excitement at the start of the school year, is a deepdeepdeep feeling of awe and gratitude.

I'm their Sherpa for sure.

I'm not certain if I'm leading the way or if they are, but I'm carrying their lunchboxes and backpacks and ballet bags and pointing out the landmarks and the quicksand, and we're off -- finding our way through the shining new year.

Zaza Attends a Princess Party the Day Before Her First Day of School