Hakuna Matata

I worry sometimes -- okay, a lot -- whether I am doing this whole parenting thing correctly. Am I raising my daughter right? Life in the Age of the Internet, I suppose: there are so many places and ways to compare my experiences and my opinions with other people's, and get instant feedback and reasons for self-flagellation.

No Worries

Really, though, I already know don't need to do so much research and introspection. What does Dr. Spock say? "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do"? This is not a science project, after all. It's so easy to forget that there is really only one person whose opinion matters in all this: Shae's.

Water Baby

She's the one I need to be asking, "Are you happy?" And I already know what her answer will be, when I ask that question: "Yes, Mommy! I am HAPPY!" And I know this much is true, of course, because there are some things that children take a long time to learn how to lie about. This should be all the validation I need.


There is a reason why "Hakuna Matata" is her favorite song, why she identifies so strongly with Winnie-ther-Pooh. Bother-free is, indeed, the way to be. Life is too short to not enjoy every second. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, and all that. Right?

Water Bug

Until I figure out how to actually have no worries, though, I will just have to look at her smile, know that she means it, and let that be my visual Prozac. (It works better when applied directly to the heart, anyway.)


At The Copacabana

I don't know how this kid does it. I really don't. I spend weeks, sometimes months, researching and investigating and Googling and negotiating to put together a fantastic tropical vacation, and Shae manages to pull one together on a Saturday morning, out of an inflatable pool in my mother-in-law's backyard.

Private Cabana

It's like a resort just for one back there. She can relax in the shade in her own private cabana. The personal waitstaff is not pictured, but everyone was at full attention: cook/waiter, sunscreen applier/hoser-offer, and toll bridge/entertainment committee. And believe me, none of us were tipped. (Stupid all-inclusive grumblecakes.)

Spa Pedicure

A quick trip to the personal spa, to get a pedicure (which, in this case, meant "getting the grass and mud off her feet").

Feet Up

Take a load off, put your feet up, relax after an exhausting week of, like, playing and learning stuff. Would the young lady like some fresh-cut watermelon, or perhaps some ice cold grapes? A juice box? Maybe some whole-grain crackers?


Just lay back and let the cool, clear water wash your cares and worries away. Don't worry about anything, we'll pause your shows for you.

Brochure Photo

Man, does this kid have the life, or what?


Magic Hour

After you've spent seven straight hours in the pool, it's time to throw on your Dora the Explorer "Let's Go Skiing!" pool cover-up (I don't get it either) and do some yard work, so your eyes have a chance to get back to normal and nobody calls CPS on your parents.


Well, okay, yard "work." This is a union shop, and someone has to be the supervisor, right?

Wild Strawberry

It's been a while since my grandfather grew strawberries up there, maybe twenty years, but every summer a couple of strawberries show up in the beds anyway. Could be because of birds or rabbits leaving droppings, or could be because strawberries are like kudzu -- nothing short of nuclear weapons can completely eradicate them. My yard is a prime example.

Shiny Happy Jawa

Better living through denial. Here, she's practically dead on her feet, but you'll never get her to admit it. Sometimes I can't believe that this is the same kid who gets practically catatonic on the sofa watching "The Lion King." It's a cliche to compare her to the Energizer Bunny, but it's not incorrect.

Magic Wand

Someday I hope to understand the fascination with sticks. She'll go on walks with her Nana or her Gigi and she'll come home with pockets full of rocks and pine cones, and giant handfuls of sticks and leaves. It's better than bugs or bits of broken glass, I suppose. She also comes home from school more often than not with mulch in her shoes.


Who needs a gym full of free weights when you have a preschooler and an action hoe at your disposal?


The Bubble Is Back

I've mentioned before how I love it that my kid is a swimmer, just like the rest of my family, but I didn't mention the best part: since we're sitting by the pool at least one day every weekend, I'm getting a nice tan, which I like a lot, because it makes my arms look thinner.

Resting Bubble

Of all the swim aids we've been using so far, I think my favorite -- and I say this as a parent, a swimmer, and a former little-kids' swimming instructor -- is the "Bubble." There are many different kinds and colors; this one happened to be another one of My Anonymous Mother's yard sale finds, I think. (She really is a shopping ninja, so big ups to her.)

Stroke Work

I think that inner tubes and water wings are fun, and great for getting kids comfortable in the water -- obviously this has worked for Shae -- but when you want to teach them to actually swim, to kick and reach and learn the strokes and have to actually work for it a little bit, then the Bubble can't be beat. Keeps her from sinking like a stone (which she would do, because she is like 0% body fat), but she won't get anywhere unless she's actively doing something about it.


I also think that Shae feels, or at least acts, more free with her Bubble on. She can move her arms better, put her face in the water, explore the depths she is able to reach with a float the size of her whole torso strapped to her back. I mean, these things are ridiculous-looking, but they work. And I feel much better knowing that she feels comfortable, that she doesn't panic when her head goes under.


She feels so comfortable, in fact, that she tries to do whatever the "big kids" are doing, even if the big kids are doing backdives off the swimout. BACKDIVES. Of course they're not precisely backdives, because she can't really get her feet all the way out of the water, and when the Bubble hits the water she kind of flollops over like a drunken turtle, but she is trying. And she loves trying.

Mini Female Jason

And apropos of almost nothing, I sometimes can't believe how much she reminds me of my cousin Jason -- a skinny, leggy, female version of ol' Dangermouse himself. I think Jaybird might even have once had a bathing suit with a similar pattern to this one. A Speedo, of course, because we are HARD CORE.

(Oh: new feature! Mouse over the pictures for additional commentary, because I don't talk enough already, do I?)


Gator Wrasslin'

We busted out a new pool toy this weekend.

Al E. Gator

I can't speak for anyone else, but my greatest fear in life isn't zombies or robots, but that all the polyvinyl inflatable stuff in the world will become sentient and rise up to slay us.


If you zoom into that picture, you can see Shae's red, red eyes from elebenty straight hours in the pool. We tried googles, but they weren't particularly useful, except for giving her goggle-shaped hickeymarks around her eye sockets. I don't want to have to explain that to the teachers at school on a Monday morning.

Belly Rubs

But she doesn't want to miss a thing, so her eyes are wide open all the time. We finally had to tell her, at like 6:00 at night, that she wasn't allowed to put her head under water any more, or she had to get out of the pool. My eyes have been red like that before. I remember more than one occasion when they still burned the next day.

Super Fun!

Eh, these are all out of sequence, but this is one of my favorite pictures from the weekend. I promised my sister I would edit her out, but why would she want me to edit her out of this one? Look at all the fun they're having!

She's no dummy, that kid. It's kind of awesome to climb on the gator raft and deliberately capsize it. I did it myself. 'Sfun.


Let's Go To The Movies!

It was so hot this weekend that we only spent part of it in the pool -- that's how you know it was hot. It was too stinkin' hot yesterday to get in the car and drive an hour to get to the pool, so we decided to do something different: go to the movies.

We've never taken Shae to the movies before, so we weren't sure what to expect. She's seen movies, of course, but only at home, where she can lay out on the couch and order us around and "plause" the DVD so she can run to the potty. This was her first trip to the theater.

I tried to sneak a couple of pictures with my cell phone inside the theater -- I mean, seriously, the three of us shared a bag of popcorn that was bigger than my head, and she thought the fold-down seats were a hoot -- but. Um. Yeah, cell phones don't take great pictures in the dark. And it wasn't like I was going to bring the good camera to a first-run cinematic experience.

Claw Machine

She did really well. She was mostly quiet, she watched the movie, didn't ask a lot of questions, and didn't once have to get up to pee. Of course, we did have her liquids strictly rationed, but still.


She liked running around in the lobby pushing all the buttons on all the machines. We didn't give her any money, just let her press everything. She thought the claw machines were "broken" but she didn't make a big deal out of it, just moved on the the next video game or love tester or gumball dispenser.

She's A Natural

Looks like she's a natural FPSer. Like father like daughter.


(This is from Saturday, and totally gratuitous, but I like it, so I included it. My blog, my rules. Pfbbt.)

All in all, it was a great afternoon out. It helps that the movie was fantastic. I mean, it was G's Father's Day, not mine, but I'm pretty sure her falling asleep in his lap when we got home made it all worthwhile.


Father's Day 2010

We celebrated Father's Day yesterday, because today it's supposed to be too stinking hot to move. We went to my grandparents' early and spent eleventeen hours in the pool -- yes, even us old people -- and it was lovely. You'll be hearing about it all week.


We had dinner on the grill -- steak and chicken and clams and corn and green beans -- and it was lovely. The corn was fantastic, nice and crisp and fresh, and it was so sweet that it didn't need butter or salt.

Daddy Kiss
Pop-pop Kiss

There was lots of fun and kissing and it was a really great day -- exactly what I think Father's Day is supposed to be. Of course, I am not a father, so mileage may vary.

Happy Father's Day, to my Daddy and Shae's Daddy. Hope you both got what you wanted.


WTF?! Friday PLUS Trivia: Mix Tape

Here is a true fact that probably tells you more about me than it should: I have a mix tape in my car. I made it for G when we were first dating, so it is more than 15 years old. I'm not sure whether it stands the test of time vis-á-vis other famous mix tapes in the course of history, but I think it's pretty epic.

It's a random smattering of music that I really loved at the time, and still do, mostly vaguely-to-moderately gushy and romantic, but some not. A couple of show tunes. There are, of course, two songs by the Cure on there, because I was still in my proto-emo phase in 1993-94 (I had not yet fully embraced the awesome power of grunge, except in terms of fashion, because I really could rock some ripped-up jeans and flannel). "Closer to Fine" remains one of those songs that gets more meaningful every year.

The insert was hand-written on white construction paper, and when I open the case I can still vaguely smell the Sunflowers perfume that inspired the matching colored-pencil drawing I made. Subtle, I definitely was not.

Now, I can't play it, because my tape deck has been wrecked by a bad Discman adaptor that I was using with my iPod (don't ask), but I keep it in my car anyway because it reminds me of so much. Probably I should convert that playlist to a CD, but even when I do, I will most likely still hold on to that cassette tape, because even the tape itself holds many memories.

Anyone who has seen "Say Anything" at least 147 times can tell you that all the best moments of your life have a soundtrack. So while I'm getting ready for vacation, one of the things I've been doing is working on a playlist. Probably by the time I get my books together, I will have my songs selected and sequenced. In the meantime, maybe you can make suggestions from this week's trivia: Summertime Songs, all about beach blanket bingos and cruising with the top down and stuff you find at the shore.

Can you answer the following?
  1. Three songs with "Summer" in the title
  2. Three songs with "Ocean(s)" or "Sea(s)" in the title
  3. Three songs that mention bikinis
  4. Three songs with "Hot" in the title
  5. Three songs about boats
  6. Three songs about surfing
  7. Three songs about cars
  8. Three songs by people from New Jersey
  9. Three Beach Boys songs that are NOT about surfing
  10. Three songs that were summertime hits in the 1980s
Standard trivia rules apply. My answers will go up in the comments on Monday after 5pm. Good luck! (And thanks in advance for the suggestions.)


Ta-Tas Schma-Tas

Yesterday I almost drove my car into the back of someone else's because I followed them most of the way home from work on Rt. 422 and by the time I got off the road I was completely enraged by their stupid-ass bumper stickers.

And let me just tell you this -- we are not talking "McCain/Palin '08" stickers or even those lame "Coexist" things that are pretty much everywhere because hipsters think it's totally cool to be all about "tolerance, dude!" while they're drinking their imported light beers and cracking jokes about uglies and fat people.

Nope, what got me all het up was that the entire back of this person's car was covered with different variations and permutations of those suddenly-ubiquitous-but-no-less-ridiculous "Save the Ta-Tas" bumper stickers. "Save the Ta-Tas." "I ♥ My Ta-Tas." "Honk if You ♥ Ta-Tas."

Oh, give me just a small break, would you?

Listen, I know people who have these bumper stickers, and the keychains, and the T-shirts and the sun visors and the little tanks with the glittery words all over them. My sister has one on her car. They're all over the parking lot at work. Babies are wearing onesies that say "Be Vewy Vewy Quiet, I'm Hunting Ta-Tas." Seriously.

And I am sick of it. This is a more-than-potentially controversial position, no doubt, but I'm going to come right out and say it: I think this entire "Save the Ta-Tas" movement is really, really dumb. I know what the point of the campaign is supposed to be, and that it's supposed to be humorous and all, but I find the language and the "wink-wink-nudge"-iness to be really, really insulting.



Gladys debuted one of her new swimsuits this weekend. She's kind of secretly hot, for an old woman. I never suspected.

Gladys in Boca

That Herb, he's a lucky man ... most of the time.

Not A Hot Tub

Shae is getting to be a better and better swimmer every weekend. She's starting to reach the point where she feels more confident on her own, more willing to test her endurance.


We can leave her "alone" in the water now -- not unsupervised, of course, but once we wrap her in floation devices, we let her swim as far as she is able by herself.

Ready ... Set ...

She loves jumping right in at the deep end and making her way to the swim-out on her own. And we love letting her do it -- we are very proud of how determined she is to do things by herself. By the end of the summer, she wants to be off her floaties, and she might actually do it.


I can't believe how unafraid she is, but it's super-awesome. Watching her in the pool, I know that I am doing something right, as a parent.

Passing the torch is very, very cool.


Ladies Who Lunch

I was six or seven years old the first time I went to New York City. I think it was a birthday present or something -- I went with my mother and my grandmother to see my very first Broadway show. It was my very first bus trip, my very first "grown-up" adventure. We went to Beefsteak Charlie's somewhere in Manhattan for lunch, and on the way home we stopped at a restaurant called Three Sisters where I had eggplant parmagiana for the first time that I remember, and we saw a matinee of "Annie."

Rockefeller Center, ca. 1980

While we were wandering around the city, whether it was on the bus or by foot I cannot say, but at one point we passed the Russian Tea Room, and that was the first time I was introduced to the concept of actual tea time. And I thought to myself: "This is awesome. When I grow up, I am going to do this all the time. I am going to be fancy. I am going to be a fancy Broadway star."


I was in love with New York City for a while, but as I got older and more anxious around large groups of people, my ardor softened. I don't really like big cities now -- I am very much a suburban girl at heart -- and NYC is different than it was when I was a kid. I always thought I would visit all these famous places, but Windows on the World is gone now, since 9/11 happened, and Tavern on the Green has closed. We had a bad experience on a bus trip once, and my husband hates being on the train, surrounded by Yankee fans.

Sweet Memories Mantel

I still love tea, though, and when I have a chance to go to tearooms for brunch or whatever, I jump on the opportunity. Like I did this weekend, when I went to a tearoom in Emmaus with a girlfriend. This is our favorite place to go when we meet up for lunch.

Sweet Memories Dollhouse

It's funny that I would feel so comfortable in a place that is all pink and white and gingham and Victorian when I claim to hate all the trappings of girlishness, but I guess that even to a tomboy such as myself, there are situations in which these things are acceptable -- desirable, even. I don't think it's just because this place has great food and the absolute best Coconut Cream Cake in the world, either.

Girl Cookie

Maybe it's because I remember when I was still a little girl, and I still thought I was going to grow up to be a fancy Broadway star, and anything was still possible. Maybe it's because when you're drinking Earl Grey over Sunday brunch, nobody cares that you're only an average singer at best, and that you're too short and fat and uncoordinated to be a Rockette. Maybe it's because everything else changes, but teatime stays the same. Maybe it's because it's a special girly thing that someday, someday soon, I will share with my own fancy little girl, and thus the circle will be unbroken.

But it could be the cake. I love cake.


Accidental Tourists

I was doing some follow-up on this post, which was inspired by this one, and I found some rather mysterious and long-lost pictures on the way. They were developed in December 2008, and they had some shots from Shae's first summer with us, but the really odd thing was that there were pictures on that roll from our trip to Los Cabos. In February. Of 2002. Dun-dun-DUUUUUUN!

Cabo Boat

These were from long before we were even thinking about having a family. We were practically newlyweds then, not even married three years yet. G was still working at his former company, the one he got laid off from last year, and I was was still working at the Phone Company of Doom and Stupid. (True fact: I started working there on September 11th, although not THE September 11th. It probably goes without saying that particular date gives me the creepy-crawlies now.)

Cabo Dork

The trip was a prize for winning some kind of ridiculous contest. Ways to generate new revenue or something. My ideas were pretty dumb, but it this was before every dot-com on Earth lost everything they had, and apparently someone was feeling generous, because we got to go anyway. All expenses paid except for optional excursions, like this snorkeling-slash-whale-watching trip, which I am surprised my husband survived, because the water was like 62°F or something. The Pacific Ocean is cold.

Cabo Fish

We took these pictures with one of those underwater cameras, those all-plastic jobs that were quite the rage, back in the day. It's amazing that the film survived in the camera, partially exposed, for more than six years. Also, that waterproofing technology for camera equipment hasn't much advanced in all that time -- the fancy underwater case for our new video camera is basically one of these same all-plastic jobs, only more expensive.

Cabo Snorkel

I don't remember much about this trip, but what I do recall is so vivid that sometimes I still have dreams about it. Riding ATV's on the beach. G almost causing a sand avalanche and falling down a cliff. The beautiful desert colors of the resort. How the ocean smelled, the pool, the $18 turkey sandwich, being able to sleep with the doors open because there was no humidity.

Cabo El Arco

Oh, and this. El Arco. Which apparently cannot be photographed badly, not even with rinky-dink plastic jobbies that sit around for years, undeveloped.