Life Under Water

Stop me if you're heard this one: I have some pictures of Shae in a pool.

If it weren't so darned cute (well, to ME, anyway), it would be very, very tedious.

I mean, just look at her, having all kinds of fun and whatnot, like nothing else in the world matters.

She's kind of giving me a complex, actually. She doesn't need me to have a good time.

Next time I guess I'll have to get in there with her. That'll teach her.


A River Runs Through It

At the Godiska Family Reunion yesterday, we took Shae wading into the creek that runs just past the pavilion. If I were to describe her philosophy of life in one sentence, it would be this: "If there's water, she'll have fun."

Even though I am part mermaid myself in a family made up almost entirely of part-merpeople, I am still frequently astonished by just how much she likes the water. She doesn't care how cold, or how potentially dirty, or how many fish or frogs or turtles are there or not there -- she just wants to be submerged.

And of course I am biased, because she is mine, all mine, but I believe it takes someone really special to take your average everyday run-of-the-mill Pennsylvania creek and make it look like something special and magical.

It's almost enough to make me want to go camping in the 1,000 Islands again. (But only almost.) She really is something else, this mini-me who is not of me, but still is part me.

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it." -- Norman Maclean


Rogue's Gallery

I spent a lot of time around other people's kids this weekend, what with the bridal shower on Saturday and the 25th annual Godiska family reunion on Sunday. And of course, while I was surrounded by all of these beautiful people, I still managed to take about 800 pictures of my own kid. (That is because I am a self-absorbed asshole, of course.) But here are some of the snaps I got of some of the other people I am related to:

My cousin Abby. She just graduated from high school and is going to Pitt in the fall. Not sure what she's studying, but I hope she takes a few photography classes -- not that she needs them, because she's already quite good.

My nephew Joey and my cousin Ashtyn. He's the son of my dad's youngest sister, who is only a few years older than me. My dad's side of the family is huge and weird and we joke that we are inbred, but we do make beautiful children, no?

Another shot of Ashtyn. He's a great kid, almost a year and a half. I love this hat.

This is Joshie. He's my cousin's kid, and he is almost two (his birthday is in August). Joshie's mom was in court with us on the day our adoption was finalized. He looks just like his dad.

Brittany used to be the youngest of my first cousins, before Ashtyn was born. She is almost 9, I think. She spent this weekend hanging out with Shae and pretty much treating my two-year-old like a "big kid." There are not words for how glad I am of that. Shae keeps asking to see Brit. Job well done, kid!

Andrew and Ronnie. We call Andrew "Archie" but I don't know why. Here they are up to no good -- filling up water balloons, I think. Silly boys. Super Soakers work way better.

Autumn and Samantha. Love these girls! They're a lot of fun. Here they're pretending to be caught by the paparazzi because I asked them to. Does everyone do that for family?


Water, Water Everywhere

Today is going to be looooooooooooong-ass day -- bridal shower to pull off, naps that won't be worked into a schedule, temper tantrums bubbling under the surface, nervous breakdowns waiting in the wings -- so I figured we could all use a moment of Zen.

Try and have a nice day.


Take My Breath Away

Well, we have some big news in these parts: we have acquired a brand new pair of water wings.

And much like the zebra-potamus thingy, I find the water wings vaguely horrifying. She thinks they make her invincible, somehow. As if she needs any further encouragement.

At least this time I didn't have to try to wrangle her alone. My sister Jaime is visiting for the weekend, because my sister Shelleybeans!'s bridal shower is tomorrow. We're the Matrons of Honor. Are there any words in the English language that make one feel older than being a "Matron" of any sort?

I miss the days when I would spend all day in the pool, half-frozen and turning blue, splashing away in blissful abandon. But even then, I was never this cute.

Absolutely never this breathtakingly beautiful.

(Sorry that these pictures don't "sync" -- we used both cameras today. Can you guess which shots are which?)


Hitting the Wall

The other day, I tweeted this:

And the thing is, I wasn't kidding. I am bored. Although "writer's blocked" might be a better way to put it.

For at least ten years, maybe longer, I have been kicking around ideas for my very own Great American Novel, but I can't ever get anywhere. Basically, I have two stories in mind: one involves setting a car on fire, and another involves buying a boat and/or an island. One of these is a drama and one of these is a romantic comedy: I'll let you choose your own adventure here. In my head, and sometimes even on paper, there is a general outline, characters, sentences, dialogue partially written.

But when it comes time to actually write everything out, to get it all in page and paragraph form, I end up with a fat load of nothing. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I push, I never really get past the first chapter or so, never get beyond the first 5,000 words. The most I've ever been able to commit to is two and a half chapters -- in one attempt, I managed to write the first and last chapters, and part of the second, all told about 20 pages, but I ended up scrapping everything after about a week.

Last year I even tried to participate in National Novel Writing Month, to maybe give myself a kick-start and some virtual community support, but ... well, let's just say it didn't end well. In fact, it didn't even end at all: I only actually wrote anything for about three days, pretended to give it the ol' college try for about another week, and then gave up completely on day 10. Because I suck, and because I have the attention span of a toddler gnat on amphetamines.

I want to blame MTV, the Internet, ADHD, the New England Patriots, high fructose corn syrup, the Palestinians, NATO, the Communists, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Roger Clemens, red dye #40, the slow and painful death of the newspaper industry, Wal-Mart, and/or drug addiction for my focus problem, but I don't think any of these are what it really is. I don't even think it's an attention span issue -- that's just what I say it is, using my usual "armchair crackpot diagnosis" method. I mean, I've been playing the same character in World of Warcraft almost every single day for the past year and a half; I am pretty sure I am capable of commitment when it suits me.

Truth be told: I really think the problem is that I have totally unrealistic expectations of the novel-writing process, creativity, and my own level of talent.

Personally, I think some of my tweets are absolute genius. Like this one, or this one, or maybe this one. Hmm ... OK, so maybe you had to be there. But some of my blog posts are good: I am really proud of this one and this one. It's just that when I get into something longer, something with multiple pages and chapters and an actual plot, it's then that I hit the wall and crash and burn and start speaking in clich├ęs like all those dudes from SportsCenter and jumping Jesus on a pogo stick do not even get me STARTED on Linda-fucking-Cohn.

So. Anyway. I'm going to think about an attempt to maybe get my shit together and try again. But I've decided -- see the tweet above -- that this time, I want my story to be bad. I want it to be god-awful. I am deliberately attempting to write the worst novel ever written in the history of literature, and I include The Lucifer Gospel* in my points of reference.

And this novel is beginning like this:

I can tell you this much: they day I got fired from my job was not the best day of my life, no matter how much I want to pretend that it was. I mean, yeah, I hated that fucking job, and I hated my dickhead boss, and I hated his stupid wife, and I hated that shithole apartment in that bumblefuck town, but nobody wants to get fired. Not even if I did go down in a flaming tantrum, right in the middle of a staff meeting, immediately after my ex-manager and his cunt of a wife tried to take credit for my work.

Honestly, I can't recall my exact words, but I'm pretty sure they went something like this: "You cannot be serious. Really? Are you serious? What kind of dumb-ass motherfuckers are you two? You didn't even bother to take my name off the PowerPoint slides, you goddamned fools! Honest to Christ, you are the worst fucking thieves in the history of ever. This is bullshit! I can't believe this. You cannot be fucking serious!"

Or something like that. Needless to say, I never made it to the end of the meeting. And I didn't know we even had a security guard in that building, but apparently we did, because he escorted me to my car. They claim that they FedExed my things to me, but they're a bunch of filthy liars. I couldn't possibly care less about most of that stuff, but I still want my "Gryffindor Quidditch" cap and my Magic 8-Ball back. Probably they're lost in the Seventh Circle of Postal Hell with my last paycheck, which I never got either.

(Oh, and there will be a lot of cussing, which will not actually improve the quality of the story, but it will definitely improve my word count, because I know a lot of swears.)

* I will not link to that book, because it is honest to God the worst book that I have ever read in my life, worse even than Hemingway and Faulkner, but it's on Amazon if you care to look for it. I strongly recommend against that course of action, however.


I See London, I See France ...

... I see Shaezie's underpants! (Well, OK, her diaper, but we're working on it.)

I just want to point out the ridiculousness of this situation: only minutes before this picture was taken, she was wrapped in a towel and sitting in the sun so that her lips would turn back to pink instead of purple from being in the freezing-cold water. So of course it is only natural that we would proceed to play in the yard in a Foofa sweatshirt with the hood up, socks and sneakers, and ... no pants.

Does. Not. Care.



Oh, this kid ...

Yesterday turned out to be a nice day, even though they were calling for crappy weather. (FORESHADOWING!) After we ate our Father's Day Brunch at my parents', we went to my grandparents' to hang and cause our usual array of trouble.

My Anonymous Mother waited, lurking, stalking, and the very second that I fell asleep on the living room floor (we were watching golf -- don't you judge me!), she jumped right in there and snatched my kid and forced her practically at gunpoint to get in the pool. Forced, I tell you! Gunpoint!

I mean, look at the terror in her eyes! She is horrified! (Shut up, this is my story, I'll tell it how I want.) And of course the poor kid is absolutely mortified because the weather was supposed to be crappy (see above) so I didn't pack a bathing suit. That's right: my mother forced my kid to go skinny dipping* on a hot summer day.

Luckily I was around to document the scene (I believe I called it "fuckery" right in front of my grandmother); otherwise I would never have gotten this shot of my poor kid, half frozen (the water is still cold), breathless (she just go-go-goes like the Energizer Bunny), soaking wet. Call the U.N.! Violation of the Geneva convention!

Oh, well this makes it better. Never mind. Carry on.

* Not actually skinny dipping. She had on a swimmie-diaper. But she was otherwise butt-nekkid, which she thinks is hilarious. "Lookit, Moomy, I nakey!" I hope someone had sunscreen!


Father's Day

Dear Daddy and Dear G,

Happy Father's Day! I am lucky enough to have two men in my life who are cut from the same cloth, and even though I now know why My Anonymous Mother is batshit butternuts crazypants, I wouldn't have it any other way. Not now, not ever.

I love you both, always and all ways.

xoxo R.


And for those of you who won't be able to see it in person for a while, here is a very approximate mock-up of the Father's Day gift from Shae and Joey (and my sister Jaime and me, who "begat" these little love bugs) -- and let me just say, right now, I love the Anniversary Camera more than there are words for in the English language, because this was the top-secret project I was working on, and I took these pictures, and I actually like them:

Happy Father's Day! Love, all of us at Casa Gonzales (even the cats).

If You Know My Father ...

... and you've heard some of the stories, then this makes perfect sense:

image via someecards.com


Voice Mail

So, apparently I have this new feature on my iPhone since the most recent software update -- a software update that I didn't even know was coming, by the way, because I am a dolt. Like, all these people talking about iPhone 3.0? I thought that was the new phone, not just an upgrade. Seriously: look up neo-Luddite in the dictionary, and there is my picture. Sheesh.

Anyway, this new feature (which my mother-in-law pointed out to me) allows you to make voice memos for yourself. But I sound like David Sedaris after a bender, and I hate the sound of my own voice. So what did I do to test it out? Record Shae, of course. And for some reason, she won't sit still long enough for me to take her picture, but she'll stand still and sing into my phone all day long if I'd let her.

Here are two little clips of her singing some of her favorite songs. Enjoy!


To the Lighthouse

One (almost) final picture from Chicago, before we move on to whatever else the hell we have going on this week:

This was our view of a lighthouse on Lake Michigan, from in front of the Adler Planetarium. I really, really want one of those sailboats.


Kissing Book

Some more random pictures from our Chicago trip, where there was a lot of kissing going on.

I think I need to get Shae one of these hats, or find mine, or something. Not sure if she would rock it quite like Joey does, but then again, maybe she would.

My original plan was to put up more "outtakes" but when I was looking through the pictures I couldn't find a single bad one with Joey in it. Well, there are some that are out of focus, but none where he was making any really good goofy faces. Unlike my kid, who makes goofy faces all the time. Like, for sport or something.

To me, this picture is sad and funny at the same time. It's funny because Joey is so small that you can fit a whole 'nother person in his swing, and Shae is such a giant that she hardly fits into the baby swing any more (and, in fact, she was working a "regular" swing by the end of our trip), and yet there they are, right next to each other, a study in contrasts.

It's also sad because look at all that space between swings -- what is wrong with you, Des Plaines Park District? Do you bozos have any idea how hard it is to get a picture of two kids at once on the swings when there is, like, an entire zip code between them? Honestly, I think the entire world is against me and my art, sometimes.

Oh yeah, my kid is such a badass that she plays soccer barefoot. In pants that appear to be too big. With her pocket linings hanging out. In a shirt my mom got a yard sale. With a mysterious "55" on the back that nobody knows what it means. (Even though Mommy is sort of secretly hoping that she will take up an interest in beach volleyball. In spite of Daddy's fear and adversion to the 'kini.)

Hey, I told you this was going to be a kissing book.


Blooper Reel

I took, like, a thousand pictures when were on vacation -- I told you, I am butternuts crazy with the camera. You've seen some of them, but here are some that didn't make the first cut, but maybe they should have? I don't know.

Not sure when the last time Shae and Joey were together -- New Year's, maybe? Last time Joey was a lot smaller, and we didn't really let Shae play with him, so this time there was a lot of sizing up that needed to be done.

I'm pretty sure she liked what she saw. Joey has my father's eyes, I think: bright blue and clear and always checking everything out. That's my sister's nose and my mother's upper lip (via my great-grandmother, Nana Shively), but when I look at that kid, I see my father's eyes. He could do worse, honestly.

But I will tell you this much: Joey is definitely the absolute spit and image of my sister, so help me God. I really don't know yet which of his parents he's going to take after, but I'll be damned if he doesn't look exactly like my sister at that age. (In a much cooler hat, because let's face it: in the 70's when we were kids, mistakes were made.)

Whereas this kid? Oh yeah, she's mine.

As if there was any doubt.


Vacation Recap: Days 5 & 6

Last day first -- we will be spending all day today on the road, so I am posting this in advance. There won't be anything to recap, because what else is there to say about 12 more hours in the car except "Ohio is fucking flat"? And I'm pretty convinced that my feelings about our trip to the aquarium on Sunday are not going to change overnight into Monday. Or something.

So, we went to the aquarium on Sunday, our last day in Illinois. It ... did not necessarily go well. Here is an actual progression of what pictures of Shae looked like over the course of three hours (earliest --> latest):

Of course Joey is, once again, completely perfect and adorable:

Here's a picture of Shae dressed up like a penguin and pretending to have fun:

Here are two actual good pictures from the aquarium -- unfortunately, they are of fish:

And some final parting shots:

Verdict: we'll definitely come back to the Chicagoland area, but not until my kid is old enough to understand consequences, and not without waaaaaaaaaaay more Valium.