Makayla's Baptism

On Sunday was my niece Makayla's baptism. She was baptized by Fr. Lamb (tee hee!), a priest who has known my family for something like 30-plus years. He used to visit my grandparents and go swimming in their pool and I swear to God (tee hee hee!!) he used to wear a Speedo. No lie. It is jarring to see priests and nuns out of their habits, but what is even weirder is seeing them in bathing suits drinking beer on your grandparents' back deck. (It really happened! There were WITNESSES!)

Makayla Baptism

Anyway. Makayla. She looked like a little angel, one of those cute ones from all those Renaissance paintings, a cherub, with the white robes and the wings and the trumpets and the delicious melon heads. And she did great during the ceremony -- she hardly made a peep and didn't make a sound at all during the holy-water-poured-on-her-head part. The crying you hear in this video is some other kid. And of course you will recognize the voice of My Anonymous Mother.

(Yes, I know there are probably technical terms for whatever that part of the rite is called. Whatever. I can't remember all those fancy words any more. I called the tabernacle "the apse," and then I called it "the reliquary," and to be completely honest with you, I don't even know what either of those words even means any more, but I know I can spell them correctly.)

Makayla with Parents and Nana Haldaman

Good heavens, that kid is adorable, isn't she? I find her equally as beautiful as my own kid, and my nephew, except they're all lovely in different ways. You can tell Makayla and Joey are related, though, because they both look so much like my dad.


And then there was cake. DUH. My kid was invited to the after-party - cake was pretty much a requirement. If Shae had her way, The Right To Always Have Cake would be added to the Constitution or something.

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Fondant Flowers Detail

My cousins Meg and Jessy made the cake, and they did such a great job. Everything was positively delicious (and I know from delicious cake with that kid of mine), and everything was edible except the pearls in the middle of the flowers. (And yes, OF COURSE I got pictures of Shae eating cake. She made sure I did.)


Compare and Contrast

Some more pictures of Shae from the Godiska Family Reunion, which I invite you to compare to similar pictures from the last go-round.


Larger than life, and almost larger than the kiddie pool, too.


Now I'm singing a Backstreet Boys song in my head and picturing Shae dancing along. She'd pretty much KILL IT.


I don't know why I picked this picture, but I did. So there.


Can't say it enough: I love this kid.


Let The River Run

Would you like to suddenly feel very, very old? Take a look at this picture:


Now, compare it to pictures that were taken almost exactly two years ago at the same event, the Godiska Family Reunion. Whaaaaa ... what happened? Where did my baby go? Who is this freakishly tall Amazonian mer-child who lives in my house and eats all my cheese? And whose highlight of the entire weekend was seeing a dead fish on the banks of the creek (pronounced "crick," BTW)?


Same park, same creek, same picnic, except this time, instead of clutching on to my hand for dear life, I was the one making her way over the rocks unsteadily, while Shae was off exploring with the "big kids" -- and I actually mean BIG KIDS, a clutch of my cousins who are all in their 20's and who, as I understand it, think my kid is kind of a Big Deal.


Although, in my defense, my shakiness was due in large part to the fact that I was trying desperately to not drop my camera in the water as I stood there choking back heaving sobs while my little girl, so small just a short time ago -- just yesterday, wasn't it? -- ran off with the big kids and didn't need me any more. A sad and lame excuse, yes, but the truth nonetheless. (Also, my legs are much shorter than Shae's, who is starting to resemble a water strider more than anything else.) But still.


"When I was young, a teacher had forbidden me to say 'more perfect' because she said if a thing is perfect it can't be more so. But by now I had seen enough of life to have regained my confidence in it." -- Norman MacLean


Serenity Sunday #3

Two quick pictures of things that are making me happy right now to do my part to ensure that you have a happy Sunday.

Babies are AWESOME.


And my kid is a ROCK STAR. Rawr!

(H/T to NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour)


Rolling In The Deep

Oh, hey, in case you were wondering how that whole swimming lesson situation from over the winter ended up working out for us:


Things are going just, well, swimmingly.


I mean, the primary thing about getting Shae lessons was to teach her basic water safety, from someone she would actually listen to (i.e., not her parents, because already she knows that we don't know anything about anything).


We haven't been in the water too much yet, but we have been in, and we did it without a bubble or water wings, and we've been fine. She has the sense to stay primarily in the shallow end, where she can reach the bottom with her feet, and she won't go in the pool unless there is an adult present, which is totally fine.


Otherwise, she's been trying to swim on her own as much as she feels comfortable, and letting us help her with everything else. She's still trying to teach herself to swim a little bit better, in tiny fits and spurts, and that's fine too. Mostly we wanted to be able to keep her from freaking out without a PFD and accidentally drowning herself. That would be bad news.


And we don't want this one to bring us any bad news, do we?


Pour Some Sugar On Me

I am sure that somewhere down in the deepest darkest primoridal lizard parts of my brain there is a semi-reasonable explanation for why I appear to be obsessed with taking pictures of my kid eating cake.


But even if you held a gun to my head, I don't think I could really come up with a particularly good reason.


It must be the heat, or some rare disease. (La-la-la.)


Or too much to eat, or maybe it's fleas.


All I know is, I really really like taking pictures of my kid when she is eating cake.


Probably it's because cake makes my kid happy, and my kid makes me happy, and so seeing my kid happy makes me happiest of all. Also, both cake and my kid are delicious, so.


Seasons In The Sun

Shae has FINALLY had a chance to get her butt in the pool (literally, her butt, and not just her toes, which is all that had been technically allowed previously, although let's just all be honest here and recognize that when I say "just put your feet in," she merely views that as a suggestion, much like I view "55 mph" as a suggestion). She cannot be happier about it, I'd say.


Last weekend (before Father's Day) we went to a picnic at my aunt's, and in this great big backyard that is probably more than an acre, where there are trees and hills and tire swings and mud puddles and weeds up to your knees and all manner of fascinating insects, Shae zeroed right in on the inflatable pool.


Because OF COURSE SHE DID. She also did some hard time -- in her swimsuit -- in the sandbox, and we spent about 25 minutes in the shower afterwards, trying to wash approximately eleventy bajillion pounds of sand out of her bathing suit and her hair. OH MY GOD, her hair. You can probably understand why we got her a haircut over the weekend (or, as my brother-in-law put it, we "scalped" her, but IT SHOULD NOT TAKE 45 MINUTES to comb out a 4-year-old's head).


Still and all, I love seeing her in her natural element. Nothing makes her face light up quite like a swimming pool. Or a bathtub. Or a fish tank. Or a Dixie cup full of water from the bathroom sink. Sometimes I am convinced that she was born two weeks too late, and she is actually supposed to be a Pisces, not an Aries, because COME ON. Does this kid seem like a fire sign to you?


No, she's totally a water baby. Maybe there IS something to that "new horoscope" business after all. (Although I will always and forever be a Taurus and nobody can convince me otherwise ... and isn't that the surest sign of a Taurus that ever there was?)


Rapunzel (A Love Letter, Of Sorts)

Dear Shae,

It's been a while since I wrote you a love letter. We're about due. Especially because we've had a rough couple of weeks, you and I. We seem to communicate primarily through show tunes these days -- I suppose you get that from me. I've often found that song lyrics can express the things that I am thinking and feeling better than my own words could. (This also explains why most of my ex-boyfriends are gay theater people, but that's a conversation for another day, okay?) Let's start with "Tangled," because that is one of your favorites right now.


... Mother knows best, listen to your mother
It's a scary world out there
Mother knows best, one way or another
Something will go wrong, I swear
Ruffians, thugs, poison ivy, quicksand
Cannibals and snakes, the plague ...
Also large bugs, men with pointy teeth, and
Stop, no more, you'll just upset me ...


You think you're a Big Girl now, my little Miss Independent. I appreciate that, I really do, but you need to believe me when I say that you can't do everything you think you can. Not yet. I know you think I'm being hard on you, but stuff happens. Accidents happen. Life happens. I don't know exactly what's going on at school these days, but I know you're upset because your favorite teacher retired and your best friend is out until August. Daddy's at work most nights, and you don't get to spend as much time with him as you'd like to. We can't go to the playground every day, or to the water park, because there are a lot of creeps and weirdoes and not-nice kids and terrible parents out there, and I need to keep you away from as much bad stuff as I can for as long as I can.


I know it stinks, and I know it's hard and unfair. Unfortunately, nothing is fair. You'll hear that a lot, especially from me. One thing I hope you remember someday: this is hard for me, too. I worry about you, because I'm your mother and I have to, but also because I love you and I want to. I know how awesome you are, how sweet and smart and kind and loving, and I know what the Big Bad World can do to people like you. I used to be a lot like you, believe it or not, and seeing the Big Bad World has changed me. It will change you, too, and I am trying to keep you as sweet and as smart and as kind and as loving as I can for as long as I can. Please, slow down. Trust me. It might not feel like it, not all the time, but I think I know what I'm doing, and I promise, Cupcake, I'll let you out of the tower. You won't even need Eugene Fitzherbert to rescue you -- when the time comes, I will let him be your partner in adventure. I promise.


... Don't you know what's out there in the world?
Someone has to shield you from the world.
Stay with me.
Princes wait there in the world, it's true.
Princes, yes, but wolves and humans, too.
Stay at home.
I am home.
Who out there could love you more than I?
What out there that I cannot supply?
Stay with me.
Stay with me, the world is dark and wild.
Stay a child while you can be a child.
With me ...
          (warning: linked clip starts with a theatrical scream)


You don't know that song yet. It's from a musical called Into the Woods by a man called Stephen Sondheim, and it's one of my very favorites. In the show, this song is sung by a woman, an old witch, another version of Mother Gothel, one who also locks Rapunzel in a tower. But it's a different side of the same story. This witch is not wicked, or evil, or trying to use Rapunzel for her own nefarious purposes, to stay young or beautiful or powerful -- she is just Rapunzel's mother. Trying to protect her daughter, whom she loves more than life, the Universe, and everything. Her heart breaking, because her daughter is trying to do too much, to grow up too fast. Her daughter, her perfect, beautiful, wonderful, sweet and smart and kind and loving little girl.

I hope one day you will look back on this and see me as that Old Witch, and not Mother Gothel. I love you, Rapunzel.

xoxo Mommy.


Moon Over Parma

So ... apparently my kid likes bowling.


One of her school friends (her "boyfriend," the one who is "already in [her] soul," and believe me, I have NO IDEA where kids pick this stuff up) had a bowling party for his 4th birthday. Can you imagine a dozen or so four-year-olds throwing 6-lb. and 8-lb. bowling balls around? Yeah, I couldn't either, until I saw it for myself.


Bowling balls are bouncier than I remember, but then again, I don't make a habit of dropping them directly on the floor. Also, it's a lot noisier than I might have expected. Don't ask me why I thought there would be any degree of quietude at a 4-year-old's bowling birthday party; birthday parties are loud enough to begin with. Heck, 4-year-olds are loud enough to begin with.


But anyway, Shae really enjoyed flinging the balls around. For kids' parties, at least for kids this age, they set up this cute little ramp-thing so that they don't have to try to actually get the ball to the end of the alley without accidentally dislocating a shoulder or breaking any fingers or toes. Plus, this way, every once in a while someone would accidentally magically roll a strike.


The only thing cuter than a 4-year-old in a gingham dress and bowling shoes -- I love me some bowling shoes, and I always have to stop myself from stealing them when I leave the alley -- is a 4-year-old in a gingham dress and bowling shoes jumping up and down out of her mind with glee because she just made a spare. Even though she has no idea what in the holy hamhock a "spare" is, or how hard is it to make a 7-10 split when the ball is moving at the speed of a live-action slow-motion replay.


And this? Is my contractually-obligated snap of my kid eating a birthday cupcake. Hey, it was a birthday party -- you KNEW there would be cupcakes.


Disneyland: The Everything Else

I know it's hard to tell what with all the yammering I've been doing, but we didn't spend our entire time in California on Disney-owned property. Just most of it. We did some other stuff, too. Unfortunately we did not get to spend as much time as we would have liked to doing the "other stuff" -- damn you, airline! -- but the little tastes we got were enough to convince me that, like Jack and the rest of the Oceanic 6, we HAVE to go BACK!

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The boy in this picture is Adrian. He belongs to one of my husband's cousins and her husband. They live somewhere in SoCal, about half an hour away from Disneyland. Adrian's parents and his aunt (also G's cousin, go figure, since she's Adrian's mom's sister) came to meet us for dinner at the Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney on Saturday night while we were out there, and we had a spectacular time, and it makes me so sad that they're out there and we're out here, because I really think they'd like my family. Shae and Adrian got along famously, of course, and Shae still asks for "her new cousin" and it will never stop being adorable. I wish we had more time to spend with them, because they all made me laugh and made me feel so welcome and made me feel at home. Like Disney wasn't fun enough -- the only thing that could possibly have made it funner would have been spending it with more awesome people.

Irvine Spectrum
Irvine Spectrum Turtle
Irvine Spectrum Fountain

On Sunday, before the wedding, we met a high-school friend of mine and her husband and new baby for lunch. (Yowza, we ate A LOT on vacation. Like, a REALLY lot, and delicious amazing food, too. Not a cruddy meal in the bunch, not even when we ate at El Pollo Loco that first night, and apparently that particular chain can be sort of hit-or-miss. Thank heavens for all that walking we did or I'd never be able to get my pants buttoned.) It was super-great to be able to see her again, and meet him, and sit there and stare at their delicious baby, and just catch the short version of what's been going on for the last 10 years or so. For the first time in a very long time, I missed high school, although to be 100% honest, what I really miss are my high school friends, who I never see any more. Where are you guys? I MISS YOU! Call me!

They drove all the way down from Pasadena (an hour away, I guess? I have no idea about California geography -- I always thought Anaheim was, like, hours away from Los Angeles, and I always figured that calling them the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" was like calling a team the "Philadelphia Phillies of Pittsburgh," but as it turns out, LA and Anaheim are pretty close -- about 30 miles, I think, but it's like LIGHTYEARS when you figure in the traffic -- OK, so I guess technically Anaheim IS hours away from LA). After lunch we wanted to hang out a little longer, so we asked if there were any parks nearby and we got directed to this mall.

A MALL WITH PALM TREES AND A FERRIS WHEEL RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. I am not even kidding; you can't make this kind of shit up. And fountains that are deliberately designed for kids to play in them. Also: salted caramel Pinkberry. Believe the hype. I think California is my home planet, you guys, I really, really do.

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Sunday night was the wedding, which was totally awesome and I cannot possibly overstate how beautiful it was, the setting and the food and those two crazy kids goin' and gettin' hitched, all of it, and how wonderful it was to be there. I am still in awe that we (1) got invited in the first place, and (2) actually got to attend. One of the best weddings ever in the history of weddings, and I swear to God that I am not just saying that because this was the last of our high school friends to get married. It really was just that special.

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Oh and at the wedding Shae got dumped for the first time, by the rakish and charming ring bearer, the groom's nephew, who up and left poor Shaezie in the middle of the dance floor for the flower girl. Shae got revenge by boogie-ing with everyone else's date and pretty much being the first runner-up to the bride in the "Belle of the Ball" competition, though, so it all turned out okay. (And, BTW, this was the best her hair looked for the whole trip. You can't see her cute little bling-y barette, and you can't really tell that I let her wear lip gloss and eye shadow, but she partied like a rock star with nary a hair out of place. TRUST.)


Disneyland: The Parade

While we were at Disneyland, we saw the fireworks show -- Shae spent the entire time "ooh"ing and "aah"ing and yelling "Go Tinkerbell!" because Tink is the one who starts the whole thing, flying to the top of Sleeping Beauty's Castle on a zipline -- and World of Color, which was totally amazing, but I think that the afternoon parade down Main Street U.S.A. was one of my favorites. This being Disneyland, it was of course an awesome parade. Here are some pictures, which are completely out-of-camera and presented without comment because none is necessary, really.

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You guys, we had SUCH a great time.