Who's Zooming Who?

I love this picture because it looks like my kid is photobombing herself.


I can't even remember what I was supposed to be taking a picture of. My sister's family in the background, maybe? I can't really get Shae to pose for me right now, but if she see's that I'm zooming in on someone else, forget it.


Shae taught Makayla the "knock me over" trick. Makayla LOVES to knock people over now. Mostly Shae, though, because Shae is her very favorite. The only name I hear her say more than "Shae-Shae" is "Pop-Pop." Not that I blame her, really -- Shae and Pop-Pop are both pretty awesome.


I wanted her to lay in that patch of sun there. I really did. You can see how well that worked out for me. (Well, pretty well, aesthetically speaking, but as a parent, I was pretty much all "HELL NAW!")


Although, by this point in the day, she had been running around for several hours PLUS swimming, so I guess I should just be happy she isn't actively crying and drooling all over herself.


In Her Element

They opened the pool last weekend (the weekend before Memorial Day) and so you can guess how Shae spent the weekend.


She doesn't care that the water was only 64 degrees. DOES NOT CARE.


She's been waiting for weeks and weeks -- "it's been FOREVER, Mommy!" -- and as soon as she got the green light, she was in the water.


And looking fetching in matching sun hats with my niece.


And eating the first "official" cupcake of the summer season.


In her element.


Point and Shoot and Cross Your Fingers

Because they are wonderful people who know how much I love toys, my husband and daughter got me a new camera for Mother's Day (which, yes, was a hundred years ago, but I have stuff going on, SHUT UP). Just a small little point-and-shoot, something in between Nikon-the-Wonder-Cam and the camera feature in my iPhone which is basically devoted to Instagrams of my garden because HELLO BEAUTIFUL SPRING. It's small, it fits in my pocket, and it will be great for those late afternoons in July when it's too danged hot and I'm too damned tired to carry my gigantic 12-lb. camera bag 500 yards to the playground.


Plus, IT'S PURPLE, y'all. They got me a purple camera. They were hiding under my porch because they love me.


You know you wouldn't be reading my blog if I didn't completely cop to "testing out the new camera" by setting up an impromptu "picnic" photoshoot in the backyard. Although in the interest of full disclosure, I wouldn't even have had the energy to do this if I hadn't gotten out of work yesterday at 11:30 due to an "evironmental hazard situation" (i.e., somebody got plaster on their desk from the work the roofers were doing and freaked right the hell out. Thank you, fellow hypochondriac with internet access!)


BTW, that isn't one of our cats hanging out with Shae. That's one of the semi-feral neighborhood kittens who lives under my back porch. We are not happy about this situation -- well, G and I aren't, but Shae is just thrilled. She calls them her babies and has named them all, even though technically their actual owners have (allegedly) named them. I don't know what Shae says their names are (I can't remember anything any more), but I call them Larry, Darryl, and Darryl because I can't tell them apart. (This one is Larry, the boy. I know he's a boy because he just loves to show us his, ahem, hairballs.)


Have to say, I really do like this camera. You can tell that the image quality is different from the Wonder-Cam, but for a point-and-shoot, it's pretty good. I still have to play around with the settings and stuff to figure out how everything works, to see if I can replicate some of the features of the DSLR, like the "Child" setting which is my very favorite because it's like instant Photoshop. I can't get that nice shallow depth-of-field effect that I get with my favorite telephoto lens because this camera doesn't have one, but like I said, it will be great for those late afternoons in July when it's too danged hot and I'm too damned tired to carry my gigantic 12-lb. camera bag 500 yards to the playground. (Also: easier to carry onto Space Mountain, when the time comes.)


I do need to learn how to work the focus better. I think it has auto-focus, but it also has a touchscreen, which is new and fancy and confusing and I'm such a Luddite that I haven't figured it out yet. Although, let's just admit it: it's going to be hard for me to get truly bad pictures with any camera when I have such a lovely model-muse. And it's not like I'm going to be able to get her to slow down or sit still or FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE LOOK AT ME AND SMILE no matter how sophisticated the equipment, anyway. (But that is why I have a niece who loves to look right at the camera and yell "Cheese!" At least for now.)


This Is Your Brain On Grad School

There is no reason for this picture to be here, but I am including it anyway, as a pre-emptive peace offering / distraction so nobody freaks out when I get all whiny afterwards.


= = = = =

Getting an education is making me dumb, you guys.

I mean, you know what I mean? I'm not always the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm still one of the smartest people I know, even if it's impolite of me to come right out and say so. I've worked really hard for a really long time to learn as much as I can about the things that interest me, and I am proud of the fact that I can walk into any room and jump right into pretty much any conversation and acquit myself well, provided my neuroses and social anxieties don't get in the way of me walking up to strangers and saying, "Hi!"

(SPOILER ALERT: Booze helps.)

But lately, I just don't know. Here are some actual, real-live stupid things that I have done in the past two weeks that are starting to make me reconsider the level of my own intelligence:
  1. Packed a lunch for work that consisted entirely of a bottle of diet green tea and a spoon.
  2. Got all the way dressed for work without putting on underpants. (Fortunately discovered before I left the house.)
  3. Left the house in two different shoes AND unmatched socks.
  4. Spent half an hour trying to remember where I parked before realizing I was looking for a car I hadn't had in seven years.
  5. Drained the battery in my car by leaving the headlights on all day.
  6. TWICE. In the span of FIVE DAYS.
So I am starting to get a little nervous that maybe I am developing early-onset senility, or perhaps I have a brain tumor, or something. I'd like to think there is a medical explanation for the sudden recurrence of the adolescent flakiness that I thought I had outgrown.

But unfortunately, I think it's stress, and for the time being, there isn't much I can do about it. I'm kind of booked solid for a little while. My classes started in January, and by the end of August I will have finished five grad-level and two undergrad courses. Twenty-one credits. All in the course of only eight months.

I'm tired, you guys. So tired. And I lost my keys again.

= = = = =


Yeah, sweetheart, I'm a little worried too. But before you know it, this will all be behind us, and it will be worth it. Pinky swear.


And Max Said, "Be Still"

If I were ever forced to make a list of my five most prized possessions in the world, at least two of them would be books. One of them is my ancient, elderly, bruised and beaten and battered paperback copy of Slaughterhouse-Five that I stole from a yard sale when I was in high school. The page corners are dog-eared and passages are highlighted and underlined and notes are scribbled in the margins from I can’t even tell you how many essays I wrote about it. I don’t know where that book is right now, and I won’t allow myself to die until it is located. (Note to my husband: this is not a challenge.)

The other book is hardback, still in its original dust jacket, was a gift for my husband the first Christmas we were dating and has pretty much saved our relationship hundreds of times since then, and is basically pristine except for the fingerprints. Three sets of fingerprints, to be precise: his, mine, and hers. Because the other book is Where the Wild Things Are, and even when she was very small, our daughter knew not to mess with the Wild Things.

I don’t know a lot of people who don’t know about the Wild Things. The book was published before I was born, but not too long, although it seems like everybody including my own parents was read that book as a child. I’m sure my parents read it to me, because I remember the pictures, and I remember sitting in the dark at night thinking about those creatures who roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws, and I remember never once wondering what “gnashed” meant, because I already knew, from the book.

We went through a phase, a wonderful phase, my favorite so far, where Shae wanted to read Wild Things every night before bed for like a whole month, and my husband and I would take turns reading it to her, and we each had a different way to read the story. My husband, surprisingly, is all energy and light and loud noises, and when he reads it to her there is a lot of laughing and giggling and crazy frenetic dancing. His Max is much more regal than mine, more kingly, and his voice is deeper and manlier, and his Max is strong and assertive. I think she likes his version best, honestly.

Because mine is different. When I read the book, and we get to the bit about “LET THE WILD RUMPUS START” there is jumping on the bed and crazy choreography and hooting and hollering and howling at the moon and sometimes I’ll pick her up and fly her around the room, but when we get to the part about “BE STILL” my voice breaks a little bit, cracks ever so slightly, and once we round the corner of “OH PLEASE DON’T GO, WE’LL EAT YOU UP WE LOVE YOU SO” … there is quiet. My Max is sad. He misses his Mommy and his toys and his string cheese and all the things that he loves best in the world, and when he says, “NO,” it is a whisper.

In that moment she is not Max any more – I am. And I have gone from being master of the house, superhero of the world, king of where the wild things are, to a tiny little thing, just a mom, whose daughter is growing right there in the bed where we are all snuggled together reading, and I can feel the time ticking away, and already she is about to start kindergarten and soon middle school and then high school and then college and then marriage and then children and I just want it all to stop, to calm down, to be silent and small again, my little baby, the best thing that has ever happened to me, the greatest thing that I have ever done in my whole entire life, possibly the greatest thing that I will ever do, and I just want it all to be still.

So I whisper “NO,” and she steps into her private boat and sails back almost over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of her own room, where I have always been waiting for her, with her supper.

And it is still hot.


Sendak on Colbert: Part 1 and Part 2


Ain't No Party Like A Preschool Party

'Cuz a preschool party has a trampoline and an ice cream truck. HOLLA!


In case you were wondering: no, we did not intend to cut her hair that short. I am significantly less than happy about it, honestly, and in fact had quite a nice little nutty hysterical fit, but I'll be damned if the kid isn't enough of a diva to pull it off. It's longer than it was at first, since it's had a week to grow in already. On the plus side, her shower time has been cut in half, and we don't spend 45 minutes alternately screaming and then staring dumbly at each other in the morning trying to detangle / comb out / style her damn fool head.


Synchronized noshing. This picture gets me REALLY EXCITED about the photo possibilities for the summer, because I am that totally dorky aunt who bought matching outfits and swimsuits for these two so that I can do the whole "identical cousins" thing for next year's calendar. Because don't they look so much alike? Except my niece looks like my dad and my daughter looks like my mom and so basically they look exactly nothing alike?


For the longest time I thought I hit the jackpot, because Shae has so much personality and pizzazz in pictures, but it turns out I actually hit the jackpot at least TWICE, because Makayla loves posing for the camera, too. You can't really tell here, but she was pedaling herself backwards on this trike and saying "Vroom vroom!" the entire time and it was the cutest thing EVER.


I asked Makayla to show me her lollipop, and she held it out to me like she was going to let me have a taste, and then yoinked it away at the last minute, all "HA ha!" like Nelson Muntz. Booger. Wiseassery runs in the family, obviously. Must be something in the water.


Hey, look! CAKEFACE! Oh, how I missed it.


Book Review: "You Have No Idea" by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams

YES. THAT Vanessa Williams. THE Vanessa Williams. The one who went to Syracuse and was the first black Miss America and who was on Broadway and who played the resplendent Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty and who sang that song from Pocahontas that listen to in my car every day because my kid just won't shut up about it. VANESSA WILLIAMS.

(You can probably tell that I am VERY EXCITED that BlogHer Book Club gave me a chance to review her memoir, You Have No Idea, which Ms. Williams wrote with her mother. And here's a newsflash [and also the short version of this review]: Vanessa Williams is pretty awesome, and her mother doubly so.)

(Also, full disclosure: I love that "Colours of the Wind" song. Makes my cry every time. Yes, I'm a hippy-dippy tree hugger. Whatever. Don't you judge me.)

The main theme of You Have No Idea is resiliency. How do you bounce back from scandals, bad decisions, broken hearts, deep dark secrets, and somehow manage to come out on the other side better than ever? According to Vanessa and Helen, you do it by never forgetting where you come from and by always remembering what is really important. You stand with and behind the people who have always stood with and behind you. You learn from your mother, and you share your wisdom and experience with your daughter.

One of the things I like best about this memoir is that is told "in parallel" -- for example, when Vanessa talks about the Miss America scandal, it's not just her story; her mother also gets a chance to talk about how those events affected her, as well. You can tell in the language and expressions how much these two have rub off on each other. They're not entirely alike, but they're not entirely different, either (as you would expect from a mother and daughter who are very close).

Mostly, though, it's refreshing to read a book about a celebrity that isn't vapid, vacuous, or vicious. Partly this is because Helen is not "famous" except mostly by association (although her own accomplishments as a teacher are outstanding on their own), but I also think this is because both women are just so darned nice, smart, and funny. The tell their story in a way that is honest but also diplomatic; they recognize that it is possible to tell the truth without hurting others' feelings more than necessary.


Disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed are my own. Come on over and join the discussion!