Wednesday, August 26, 2009

au revoir les enfants in tutus

I took this picture of Lena yesterday during her toddler dance class, and I simply cannot stop looking at it. It makes me wonder how we got so lucky to have the cutest baby girl, with the funniest little personality? Because I know she looks like a lost puppy here, but in reality she was just goofing around and making faces at me. And I try to remember this when she's refusing to nap, go to sleep before 10pm, or relinquish the broccoli florette that she is just as vehemently refusing to eat.

Unfortunately, as stupid-cute as she is in her little sparkly leotard and pigtails, I am impatiently counting down the dance lessons we have left. After seven weeks of suffering through the indignity of mommy & me toddler sessions, most of the time of which I spend chasing Lena from door to door to door in the studio because she thinks it is oh so hi-larious to try to beat me to the exits instead of learning to tendu! or passé! or any of the other ridiculous things they're pretending to teach children who aren't even aware that they have knees, yet, let me tell you how ready I am for it all to be over.

To be fair - the studio and everyone who works there have been so lovely, but I realize now that toddler dance classes are specifically meant for sucker moms and grandmas who want to see their babies in tutus, because man-oh-man is it adorable to see a classful of baby tutus. But in actuality most of the toddlers spend the class wandering around, looking lost and slightly terrified at the frantic mothers who are desperately trying to coach them to fly like a butterfly! gallop like a horse! PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST DO SOMETHING VAGUELY PARTICIPATORY SO MOMMY CAN STOP TRYING TO REMEMBER HOW TO SKIP WHILE FACING A 30-FOOT-LONG FLOOR-TO-CEILING MIRROR IN FLUORESCENT LIGHTING.

Just three more weeks and we're going back to music class, where I can sit in peace on the floor against the wall while Lena learns to bang a real drum kit or abuse an actual accordion. And maybe, if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll track down one of those tumbling classes where I can sit outside with the other mommies and drink coffee while she learns to somersault and burn off all that adorable toddler energy. Oh, that adorable, bottomless reservoir of toddler energy...

Dance class, perhaps we'll meet again. Like, say, in two or three years when Lena is capable of taking turns, jumping, and managing the complexities of navigating a bathroom trip while wearing a leotard. Until then.

Friday, August 14, 2009


This week has not been as productive as I'd initially hoped, but I keep telling myself to give it time. I remind myself that the prospect of fifteen hours of free time a week is just too overwhelming, and I remember that every time we take Lena to some place completely amazing by toddler standards, her reaction is to suddenly become silent, tuck her chin down, and stay close while she scopes the place out. In the past I'd blamed this trait on her father, who is incapable of accepting a gift without initially giving the (highly annoying) air of, "Oh, yeah, that's, uh...nice..." before warming up to the idea. But maybe I bear a tiny bit of responsibility, too. Maybe. A tiny bit.

Not once did I put pencil to paper this week, and I only made it out for a run one morning, yesterday, when I was nearly shoved out the door by my loving husband, and really it was more of a half-mile walk, after which I returned home sweating and winded and today I am sooo soore, but dammit I WENT, and that should totally make up for the six cookies yesterday afternoon that I only ate because I had company and company cookies are completely allowable anyway. (dammit.)


What I have succeeded at doing this week is tackling the issue of photo albums. Ta da! After the last album I put together in 2003 (which, by the way, isn't finished, but I'm ignoring that fact right now) I decided I'd had it with photo prints. The ordering, the sorting, the fingerprints, the falling-out-of-the-albums. Don't even get me started on scrapbooking. Then, when we took our trip to Vancouver while I was pregnant with Lena, and I saw our friend Judi's stunning album that was printed straight from Apple via iPhoto (whizz-bang!), I knew right then and there that I'd seen the light, and I would never, ever, EVER even DREAM of buying another traditional photo album.

Until I had to fill out a baby book. But let's skip that.


So, I started on our first iPhoto album this week, and 2004 was first in line. And I found that it's just slightly off-putting, as an adult, to relive five-years-ago. Five years isn't all that long, right? Especially, now that I live in Southern California and every season is almost identical to the last, with slight variations of about ten or twenty degrees, so that if you catch me off-guard I'd very likely NOT be able to tell you what month it is. (See, even right now, I had to think about it. My first reaction was April, then I thought, no, it's almost fall. It must be October. Wait. Think. ummm....August! I'm not even kidding.) As you can see, asking me to identify time in increments of years is just an act of futility.

Sorting through 2004 feels a little like jet-lag, and that accompanying vague sense of displacement.

After the first shock of seeing myself with bangs and a waist, I got around to enjoying piecing together that year of our lives. It was the year before Jimmy and I were married, so we were still in that goofy madly-in-love fight-at-the-drop-of-a-hat what's-coming-next?? place in life. There we are, in pictures, having the best time at the LA Brewery art festival, swearing we'll come back every year, and not making it back since. There are just a handful of photos from our visits to Toronto and New York, because we had so much fun I forgot to take any until we were leaving. But I'd also about forgotten about the time we surprised my mom on a bridge in downtown St. Louis for her birthday, and how much fun it was to rent a limo and tour wine country with Jimmy's mom and her friends for her birthday. Oh, geez, and has it been that long since tasting that incredible port and chocolate? (I say it was incredible. Jimmy says I'd been drinking all day on winery tours and probably would have thought Zima was amazing by that point. I certainly hope you're duly offended on my part.)

I guess I just didn't expect to become nostalgic about 2004. Certainly not yet. Maybe not ever. But I'm having a good time piecing it all together. And I cannot WAIT to see the finished product. No tape, no glue, no prints falling out of the album. Just me, my cute boyfriend, and my bangs.

All good things.

Friday, August 7, 2009

for me, for my family

This photo of Jimmy and Lena might be my favorite from our summer this year. It was taken on the Cayucos pier on the Fourth of July, right after the annual small-town parade and just before a damn-near perfect afternoon on the beach. And in addition to reminding me of one of the best weekends we've ever had together, both as a couple and as a family, it's also a great depiction of the joy that the two of them are both capable of exuding at any given moment, multiplied exponentially when they're together. Here's Jimmy giving Lena the "one, two, three!" pretend toss over the side of the pier, and I can still hear her giggling and squealing in one long, uncontrollable, ridiculously adorable peal.

This is why I wanted to have children with Jimmy. Just look at the two of them. How is that not bliss?

Today is the third morning of preschool for Lena, and the end of the first full week back at work for Jimmy. After such a luxurious summer with the two of them at home, I'm still adjusting to the quiet house, and the time alone. Although I know I'm crazy lucky to have this time to myself right now, it's taking a little getting used to. It's been so easy for me, the past two years, to spend my free time caught up in making sure the house is in order and that we have enough paper towels and milk to get through the week, and I'm not entirely sure I remember how to do the things I like to do. In the time since I left work to be a mom, I've lost track of my girlfriends, my social skills, and my hobbies. Oh, and my waist. Where the hell did that thing go? But maybe you can imagine, without these things, how a sudden shift to fifteen hours a week of uninterrupted, unscheduled TIME might be overwhelming.

Or not. I've been called crazy before.

So. I'm counting this week as my transition period, and next week I plan to begin some projects of my own, just for me, in an effort to try to locate some pieces of me that appear to have gone missing.

My to-do list:
  • write
  • listen to music
  • read
  • draw
  • check in with old friends
  • run
Maybe you'll think I'm making too big a deal of this, but it's important to me in more ways than one. I want my daughter to have a mother who's comfortable in her own skin, who is accomplished and interesting and most of all, happy. I don't want her to look back when she's older and say, "We always had milk in the house, and never ran out of toilet paper." And Jimmy certainly deserves the same in a wife.

Wish me luck.

Monday, August 3, 2009

first day

Maybe this won't be any sort of earth-shattering news to you, but for me it's a different story: I am typing this post from home. Alone.

Lena started preschool today. We signed her up for the least amount of time possible - just three mornings a week. And honest-to-goodness the reason we did it was because she seemed to really need it. I know, I know, she's not even two, yet. But last week she learned to count to TWELVE, and is currently practicing that pesky ol' "13." She's also very into letters, telling us the other day that the letters on the stop sign were "P, S, O, T!"

My head, I catch it exploding every twenty minutes or so around this kid. (We'll worry about dyslexia later.)

As you can imagine, we're so excited to see her so eager to learn, and sopping up every bit of information she can get her hands on, but we're already having a hard time keeping up. Because man, oh man, she is excited about these things ALL DAY LONG. And it's clear to us that she's ready for a level of socialization that we just can't provide at home. I mean, Elmo, Abby, Dora, & Boots have all be excellent best friends, but every once in a while mommy would like to catch up with her friends, Ellen, Jon, and Don Draper.

Ha. That was a joke. Mostly.

So, after a week of anxiety dreams on my part, the first day of preschool finally arrived this morning. I left as Lena stuck her little hands into a giant lump of playdough for the first time, happy as can be, and came home to a very quiet, very empty house.

Oh, hello, time to myself.

We believe, all around, that this will be a good transition. And I believe that I will be the only one who has some uneasiness with the change. But here I am, sitting at a desk that has been cleared off and made ready for any number of possibilities, a little music playing for some inspiration, or maybe rather for courage...

I'm excited for all of us.