Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Tonight was Luca's first ever dance class, and in my usual fashion I was running late and we made it into class when it started at 5 p.m. on the dot. I had planned on having 15 extra minutes between getting her at home and dropping her off for class so I could stop at a shoe store to get the required tap shoes I hadn't yet purchased even though I'd signed her up almost 2 months ago. :::deep breath::: Instead, my kid was eating pieces of warmed up steak and chicken and some mashed potatoes her Dad had packed into an Ikea neon pink bowl for her while I desperately waged an internal war of morals vs convenience with myself and then decided to just park in the spot labeled "Senior Center" even though I was actually going to the Community Center next door. And then I was holding her hand and tugging her along while trying to keep my Nice Mommy Voice on and urging her to "Hurry, please!".

Her teacher looked at her pink glitter Minnie Mouse shoes with some level of disdain, asking, "Does she have the required tap shoes?". I chewed my lip nervously. A quick search of the registration page for this class earlier in the day had told me there were 3 little girls on the waiting list. Could I lose Luca's spot for not having the 'required tap shoes'???

"Um, no. I mean...I didn't find them." (Lie. Truth is, I hadn't looked for them.)

"Hm. Well if those stay on, I guess she can wear them. It would have been better if she had tap shoes, though."

Stellar, stellar start if I say so myself.

Parents aren't allowed in the dance room during class, so I waved from outside the window and then snuck away to the nearest Payless for a pair of tap shoes ($27 after tax?!?!) in Size 8. I was back before she noticed I'd left, joining the other moms as we laughed at the adorable tutu'd girls on the other side of the glass. I snapped as many pictures as I could, which was a bit of a challenge since my camera decided just this weekend that it wasn't going to work anymore. Do you have any idea how hard it is for a photo-obsessed mom such as me to send my only daughter to her first ever dance class and not even be able to take 87 photos? I almost cried.

But then I was sucked into watching my girl and all the other girls in class. I was proud of her for jumping right in and not acting scared. I watched her as she watched the teacher, mimicking her moves and always lifting her right or left arm when the teacher called them out rather than mixing them up. I smiled when she was one of the only girls who could somersault on her own, and laughed with Mama pride when she stood stoically by herself, arms clasped behind her back as she watched the other little girls giggle and act silly.

"Mommy," she would tell me later, "some of those girls didn't listen to the teacher. I didn't know all the things she was telling us, but I listened."

She's totally a suck-up goody two-shoes, but she's my suck-up goody two-shoes.

"Spider Walk" 
"Frog Hop"

When she spotted me through the window.

"The Mermaid" ("Mom," she said later, "some of those girls didn't listen and used their legs. Mermaids don't have legs!")

When class was over, she posed for a picture for me, showing off her pink ballerina outfit and almost cracking a real smile. She was proud of herself, for sure, and the butterfly stamp the teacher gave her on her hand for a job well done certainly helped.

She was feeling so brave, in fact, that she agreed to sitting on a ledge 1 floor up so I could try to snap a few pictures of her. Granted, she held my hand the whole time, and as soon as I was done she grabbed around my neck tightly and asked me to carry her to the car.

"Mama," her face leaning into my shoulder, her words kissing my ear, "did you see me? I went right in there and danced, and I didn't even cry for you. I did it all by myself!"

"I saw it, sweetiebird."


"Mommy, a boy in school told me something today."
"What's that, Luca?"
"He said his Daddy told him that boys are strong and girls are fragile."
"Oh? And what do you think about that?"
"I think boys are strong. But girls are strong and fragile. Which means, we're strongest. Right?"
"Sounds sort of right to me, Luca."

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Growth.

We planted this ash tree when it was not much more than a stick with a few tiny green leaves. Within the year, it was reaching up above the top of my head, and by the next summer it had outgrown Darrick.

She continued to flourish, growing longer branches to reach toward the morning sun, and hiding in the late afternoon shade of the nearby mesquite.

And then a storm came in the fall of 2010, with winds so strong that one of the two large limbs of another tree in our yard splintered and fell, crashing into our baby ash. One of her main branches was torn at the trunk. It hung limp, attached by green tendons of branch, eventually drying and falling to the ground.

Winter in Arizona browned the leaves, crisping them with a combination of cold nights and hot daytime sun that dried the tree's open wounds. We circled her in the yard, mourning the loss of one of her fuller branches. Wondering if winter would be her final demise or if she would push forward and thrive again.

Luca and Rohan helped us to water her, holding a hose pulsing with cool water over her trunk and filling the well we'd created with a swell of water to nourish her. They played in the puddle of brown water, watching the soil drink it eagerly and scraping face paint and pretend baby food from the muddy soil.

My house is usually a mess, but my family is happy.

As March began, there was hope on those branches. The first brave leaves unfurled, lime bursts deepening to kelly and emerald. And a winter storm last week dumped a day's worth of cold rain on her leaves and her soil.

And today, standing on a chair so I could get high enough to photograph this tree who used to be shorter than I, this came into view:

I took more photos than is sane, considering I was standing on a chair in my backyard and to the neighbors who could see me I must have looked deranged. But I couldn't help myself; I had to capture the raw and pure beauty of new growth. I took a moment, too, to let my bare feet settled against the soil, feeling how cool the grass that hasn't been cut since sometime in the fall felt against my bare skin.

I am excited for spring and even for summer. I can't wait to unroll the big playpool on the grass and fill it with the hose, watching the kids splash and play. I want to sit for hours in the shade, my feet soaking in the cool water while Luca and Rohan transfer water from plastic cup to dog bowl and back, dipping their faces into the water to eagerly blow bubbles. I want to watch the grass return to green and lie on a freshly mowed lawn letting the scent of grass clippings and new blooms soak into my skin. Luca has requested that we plant purple flowers this year, and I secretly long for a raised garden and sprinklers and long, hot afternoons where we allow ourselves to be pulled off the couch in the cool house and out into a blazing sun. I want to count the freckles as they bloom on the shoulders and arms of my babies, and let them run naked through the backyard, mud webbed between their toes and their laughter like the song of summer's birds.

I know this is going to be a year of much growth and excitement for our family, and I can't think of a single better way to welcome these metamorphases than with the new growth of spring.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plant, Animal, Mineral?

Remember that game? In our family, 20 Questions always started with that one question: Is it plant, animal, or mineral?

The second question: Is it bigger than a breadbox?

My entire childhood, I thought, "Well, how big IS a breadbox? And who owns one of those things anyhow???"

Well, now we do. I hit up Goodwill this afternoon with the kids just because I was in the mood to see if I could spot a few items I've been craving. And a breadbox wasn't one of those items, but when I saw this old-school beauty (ha ha) I had to buy him. It helped that he cost less than $5.

What can I say? I am a sucker for that window. And now that we have 2 kids, which means 4 people each with their own bread preferences, I'm also sick of trying to figure out where to store all those loaves. So now I have my answer.

The makeover literally took me less than an hour tonight. And it needs a touch up, but I'm pretty excited about how it looks. I simply removed the front panel and spray painted this sucker white, then when it was dry I reattached the front panel. These pictures are not the best quality (low light and no flash), but they cover the general idea.

You can see in the picture above where the front got a bit dinged in the process, but it should be an easy touch up. And for $3.99 I can deal with that.
I scored some other goodies as well, notably an adorable blue dress and purple top for Luca, a shirt for me, 4 Ball Jars earmarked for various purposes, and this silver candleholder. I think it would be beautiful with a single bloom in it (I'm thinking sweet peas from my mom's front yard) but for now it's sporting a white taper:


And then there's this beast, which is similar in style and identical in color to another wall piece we already own. I already hung it where our painted tile from Mexico used to be (the adhesive on the back of that came detached, so it's on the counter - amazingly still in 1 piece - while I figure out what to do with it next), but I'm not 100% in love with the way it looks where it is.

I also found one of the specific things I went searching for, but the paint on it's drying so pictures of that will come later. (Hint: it relates to the happy little guys at the bottom of this post.) And it all cost less than $27. Here's to spending less and making someone else's trash into my (almost) treasure!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How the Dinosaurs Died.

No, seriously. According to my (science teacher) husband, an asteroid is now (ok, had been for years and years) the commonly accepted most likely answer for how the dinosaurs went extinct. And here I thought it was an ice age and acid rains?

Either way, I am seriously digging the 1980s vibe of this artistic interpretation of mass extinction of dinos.

Aside for the humorless: There is nothing funny about mass species extinction.

Monday, March 21, 2011


We celebrated Rohan's birthday on a small scale this year, with just a family party. He was spoiled and stuffed with a big meal and cuddled and kissed all day. Just as a birthday should be, no?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Just More Home Updates.

In a post I wrote last night that somehow showed up under March 1st, I mentioned I was still in the process of refinishing our baseboards. This project has been long delayed for 3 reasons:

1. We want to seal where the wall meets the foundation to keep little creepy crawlers out of the house, and that means getting my husband committed to spending a few hours getting it done while also getting the kids out of the house so they don't end up sealed to the floor as well.

2. We originally talked about painting the kitchen cabinets white, but that would mean repainting all the doors and doorframes and baseboards white as well, since the kitchen is teeny and an off-white door next to white-white cabinets would look really horribly bad.

3. It's a lot of work.

An embarrassingly long time ago, I took the kids on a walk to Home Depot, and brought home a gallon of paint to be used for the baseboards and eventually for the doors and all the other walls we're keeping this color (such as the stairway and one wall in the great room). It wasn't as easy as just picking up a paint can, though. I brought a small, clean piece of baseboard with us in hopes of finding a color match, but the machine couldn't read the board so it kept giving me gray or chocolate milk colors which were clearly not correct. Luckily, the Home Depot dude took pity and promised to make me a match, so I walked out with a custom color made to blend with the old paint, and therefore with the doors and doorframes.

And....that paint can sat around for so long, waiting to be used, that I actually forgot where we'd stored it when I got the painting bug a few days ago. But before we could paint, we had to clean and sand the baseboards, which I did board by board whenever I had some spare time to dedicate while the kids napped or played outside. I planned to use a small electric sander, but soon realized that steel wool and an Xacto knife did the trick much more effectively.

It was about as fun as it sounds. For a point of reference, most of the baseboards were coated with silicone caulking, a few too many old layers of paint, and lord knows what else. In a word: gross.

I mean, ew.

Anyhow, post-sanding, they looked like this, which is MUCH better:

And after a coat of paint, they are looking all sparkly and fresh and new. Mostly. I mean, they aren't ever going to look perfect, but they sure look better now than they did a few months back.

Since there were a lot of pieces, we needed a way to keep them straight, so I took a Sharpie to the backs and wrote their room positions:

My hope is that I'll finish all the painting this weekend so we can seal and re-install next weekend. Man it will be NICE to have this done!


On another note, back when I was pregnant with Rohan, I started saving fortunes from our fortune cookies, especially if I thought they were especially poignant at the time.

I've been saving fortunes ever since, and while I have a more permanent solution in mind, they are temporarily taped to the vent above our stove. I see them everyday, and I like it.


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