Aloha!

I haven’t done an introductory post for a while, so I figure tonight is probably the time to do it.  We’re leaving shortly for a two-week trip backpacking through Japan and I won’t be updating again until mid-November.  By that time Tom and I will be fresh from taking a toddler all over the land of the rising sun and immediately beginning to prepare for the holiday season and our next move, and subsequently I don’t expect my cognitive abilities to keep pace.  This might be my last opportunity in 2010 to show you that I am not (usually) a drooling lobotomy victim.

Ideally I’d like for you guys to learn a little more about me and my family or a bit about the writing that I occasionally manage to eke out in between diaper changes, but that’s sorta boring.  Instead I am going to leave you with my favorite post series, a walk through memory lane accompanied by some of the worst/best music out there. I call it “Virtual Insanity In 5 Parts,” or the most hilarious travel playlist you’ll ever read. (Er, you may also want to know that I am very modest. Right. Carry on.)  Start with the intro and the administrative stuff, and jump on in!

Virtual Insanity: Part 1 ~ Part 2 ~ Part 3 ~ Part 4 ~ Part 5

Eventually I shall return, so I promise if you subscribe to the feed I’ll be much more entertaining in the coming weeks.  Enjoy!!

Tidy

About halfway through my pregnancy, I began nesting. No surface was safe from my dustrag, no bit of clutter that I couldn’t find a home, and no wall left unpainted. This was hell on my back, but even though my house looks a bit like the Technicolor Dream Coat threw up on it, I think it looks pretty good (if rather bright).

We went with gender-neutral Sunkist orange in the nursery, accented with lime green and lemon yellow. It’s a citrusy palate, and the room faces southwest, so around 3pm the room physically begins to glow.  I like it.  It’s a sunny, happy room for a sunny, happy girl.  It’s especially nice now because we figured out how to get her crib out of our room, and we are ALL sleeping better. Cosleeping fail? I don’t care. I’m well-rested…ish.

Because our apartment is maybe 575 square feet, Maggie’s room is her dedicated play space.  And because Maggie is a toddler, her stuff usually breaks free of the room and starts finding its way around the house.  Thus it appears as though the proverbial bomb has gone off, which is no fun during the 99.9% of the day that I spend chasing that child through the debris:

Please don’t ask me why my daughter has two rolling pins in her toy collection, or why I’m using my cell phone to take pictures for this post when I have a DSLR. I’m sure I don’t know.

So most nights–not every night–while Tom and Maggie take their evening pre-bedtime walk, I clean.  The chunky wood puzzle pieces go back on the boards, all the toys go back in the little green bin.  The musical instruments are stacked in their basket and put up high where I can’t bump it and knock it over.  Most importantly, Maggie’s favorite familiars–Ugly (“Ug-YEE! UGGYEEEE!”) and Baby Ginger (“Baby! Gin-guh!”)–are located, checked for grossness and spot-cleaned, and then put into her bed to await the enthusiastic drooling kisses of their giant mistress.

Then there are the books. Maggie has an unquenchable thirst for the written word, and we read–and therefore, remove from the shelves–upwards of thirty books a day. Usually twice.  I know their shapes and stories as intimately as I know the curve of my daughter’s fist and the way it pounds against the page when she identifies an object she knows. My hands move mindlessly over the covers as I re-shelve them by height or subject: Dr. Seuss books together, same with the seasons books; Little Miss books at the end. Once in a while a few books, especially ones with silly flaps and flimsy pages, are put in a stack for later repair.

Usually the final organization is uniform. Sometimes Maggie listens when I ask her to put a book back on the shelf when we’re done, and those books stay as they are, regardless of shape or author or subject. It’s a long process, this business of learning responsibility. Even if she doesn’t notice, I don’t want to undermine her by “fixing” her hard work.  The last thing is to pick a bedtime story.

Eventually, the room comes together.

(What? You didn’t think that orange went all the way to the ceiling, did you? Give me a little credit.)

Maggie’s room is her first laboratory. I start the day with one, maybe two specific activities in mind–coloring with her “CWAY-YONS!” (everything, everything, everything Maggie says transmits in capital letter excitement), perhaps, or practicing some of her Spanish words–but mostly she’s free to roam and explore as she desires, and she does.

I have no illusions about maintaining this pace; likely, another kid or two and I’ll laugh that there was ever a day where I cleaned my toddler’s room most nights. But I enjoy it, this reordering of her little classroom. From the time she pulls out her first book to her last story, she’s taking everything in. We enjoy our daily outings, but this is where we come back to relax and where she can freely indulge her love of books, think about her puzzle toys, or race her wooden cars under the dining room table.

She knows where everything is and how to get it, and I think that’s important. It’s such a little thing to adults, putting a book back on the shelf, but when you’re really small and everything is so impossibly huge and adults are so ridiculous, can you really underestimate how comforting it is to know that your copy of Hop On Pop is exactly where you think it should be?  It may not make a difference…but it may make all the difference.

So that, among other things, is how I love my daughter;  I set up her sunshiny lab for her so it will be ready for her daily explorations and discoveries. It’s a love thing. Surely I wouldn’t clean like that for just anyone. I love her curiosity, her spark, her CAPITAL LETTER VOICE, everything. I love my Maggie-boo-buttons.

And late at night, when I confidently cross her room to check on her before I go to bed, knowing I won’t trip over anything and wake her, I pull her blankie up around her shoulders and I tell her just that.

Surfing Safari

On Saturday, I did something totally awesome.

No, not really.  First of all, that’s a dude. Get your eyes checked. Secondly, if I tried to do that, I would break in half. But I did take my first surfing lesson, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

The moms’ workout group I belong to organized a group rate surfing class with Hawaiian Fire. Ladies and gentlemen who prefer gentlemen, wrap your heads around that: surf instructors who are also firemen. Things were getting a little hot under the rash guard, if you know what I mean AND I THINK YOU DO.

First was an on-land lesson in form. Here I’m demonstrating the dorkiest way to keep your face from getting whitewashed if you’re paddling into a cresting wave–assume partial cobra position and let it flow under you. This is also how to get up–get into this position, and in one fluid move, pop up so that your feet are parallel to each other and at right angles to the midline of the board.  If you look at your feet or lock your knees, you’re going ass over teakettle.  (Not shown: me flipping the instructor the Buddy Christ after he congratulated being able to pop into position.)

Tom captured that shot moments before I went shoulders-first into the water, right above a reef.  I locked my legs, you see.  The instructor later said “Well…that was a nice flip, at least!”  You’ll also note that these waves are, at most, about two feet.  So my dreams of conquering the elements and subjugating the wild ocean under my board? Not so much:

It’s all I’ve got.

What really surprised me, and perhaps this is due to the size of the waves, was the amount of stability.  The board was very long and wide, and thus very forgiving of blunders.  I could correct my feet rather easily and found that weight-shifting didn’t automatically equal a dump into the ocean.  I was able to ride in a few waves this way in a non-dorky, non-embarrassing fashion.

By the hammer of Thor, look at me go!  I have conquered the SMALLEST WAVE EVER.

It surprised me how well the boards worked with the waves; I usually felt pretty stable.  What killed me was the paddling and the cobra-ing.  I now understand EXACTLY why hardcore surfers do not have an ounce of body fat.  It was the best arm workout I’ve done in my entire life, and my abs are still screaming today.  Once up on the board, you can see my thighs are really low in order to absorb shock and stay stable, and that can get tiring too.  It’s a phenomenal workout, to say nothing of the fact that even with the strongest, best sunscreen in my arsenal the backs of my legs are still medium-rare toasty.

Jokes about the size of the waves and the size of the board notwithstanding, I am so proud of myself.  I feel like I did something athletic very well for my first time, and that’s not a feeling I’m familiar with. Gotta start somewhere, right? It was exactly the way I remember skiing first thing in the morning right after a 1″ dusting of snow: refreshing, head-clearing…really, just the purest kind of joy.  And now I can say something that few people can: I have surfed in Hawaii.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Before Sunset* and Errata

My favorite type of post to write, mostly because it does not require any sort of a point: the “Random Thoughts In My Brain!” post!

Maggie loves the beach.  And nudity.

 

(There was a photo here, but based on some of the search terms people have used to find this website I took it down. And seriously, you ought to be arrested. You know who you are.)

Life on the beach right before sunset is fantastic.

I was really upset about the Rutgers suicide, so I wrote a resource list of GLBT-friendly books for young children.  It saddens me when adults say things like “You shouldn’t confuse kids with such adult topics!  They’re too young and innocent to be exposed to issues of sexuality!”  First of all, nothing innocent/not innocent about it if you approach kids with the truth: that sexual orientation is as hardwired as blue or brown eyes.  Second, have you BEEN to an elementary school?  Kids know when another kid is different, or when THEY’RE different, and they know why.  Books like this will help take away the mystery and improve tolerance, not to mention make a young child who is starting to ask questions about him or herself feel more at home.  None of us deserve to feel alone, especially little kids.

In happier news, I have nothing on the to-do list for today except write this post and peruse a few other job sites (but that can wait until after dinner).

In hap-hap-happiest news, Octoberfest beer is upon us.  Joy!!

Japan is coming up soon and I’ve been going nuts reading my friend’s blog for inspiration and ideas: http://bartoksinasia.wordpress.com/.  Alas, I am REALLY sad that we’re going to miss the Kyoto fire festival.

And finally, I have a way, way unhealthy celebrity crush on Tina Fey.  She makes smart and normal look sassy and sexy, and basically I think she can do no wrong.  So I really loved this: the “30 Rock” glossary http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/09/30_rock_glossary.html.

*By the way, have you seen Before Sunset? That movie made a MUCH different impression on me at 26, married w/ child than it did at 21, single and slightly drunk.