Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to Be Alone

This video has been floating around the interwebs for the past couple of weeks, and I finally just got around to watching it.  As the most ironically attention-seeking introvert you'll ever meet, this really speaks to me.  I love being alone, but I fought hard against it for years thinking that it was weird or anti-social or fear-based.  But a lot of my best times are by myself - traveling alone, eating alone, wandering alone, exploring alone.  Sure, I've been lonely, but I enjoy my company and generally enjoy going solo.  So, this is an affirmation of what I once considered freakery, and a lovely affirmation at that. 

Here's to the loners.  I toast you from afar.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quote of the Day

Saith Uncle Damon on this, His birthday:

"Livy's not hater.  She's a baller, she's a player."

Happy birthday, Damon!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Golden Birthday, Golden Showers

Olivia turned 13 months on the 13th, and we celebrated this marvelous Golden Birthday without even realizing it!  I had arbitrarily decided that we were going to have a Fun Day that day and then realized a couple of days later that it had been a milestone day all on its own without my designation.  What luck!  What fun!  What adorableness!

First, we went to Me & Moms to buy Olivia her first pair of practical, wearable shoes.  Of course she had shoes before this, but he had the kind of ridiculous shoes that eager baby shower attendants buy in anticipation of tiny baby girl feet.  So, they're cute (I'm talking to you, Dickensian patent-leather dress boots!), but they're not good for actual play time.  I intended to be efficient, frugal, and pragmatic on this errand, but instead I went nuts.  Livy now owns 3 pairs of shoes from the consignment rack (black Mary Janes, red Keds, and black Vans-type sneakers) and then two pair of brand-spanking-new Robeez.  It makes sense to go wildly over budget if you're getting a deal, right?  Right?  And, hey, can I sell you a bridge when I'm finished buying these here fancy shoes...?

Then, after our shopping spree, we went to play at the botanical gardens near the Ballard Locks.  It's the kind of park folks usually just walk through, so there is usually a lot of space for crawling wildly and chasing each other around trees.  We especially like playing there on the weekdays when it's even more private so that I don't feel so stupid crawling around chasing after Livy and screeching "I'M GONNA GET YOU!" over and over again.

Well, wouldn't you know, but I did get her!  I don't think she minded it.

The stroller didn't mind getting gotten, either.  Livy likes to pay it forward.

Later, after a luxurious afternoon nap, Olivia and I met our friend Breanne for dinner at Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream and Tea Room on Capitol Hill.  No, they don't serve dinner, unless you count a scoop each of peanut butter and jelly ice cream and chocolate pudding ice cream dinner (Theme: "food flavored like other food"), which we do.  Breanne had wanted to meet Livy for a long time, and we tried our hardest to impress her.  First, Olivia welcomed a visit from the poo fairy, which required a trip to the ladies' room for a quick change.  Now, for as charming as this ice cream shop is, it is not built for babies in the least.  Not only did I have to carry Livy in her stroller down some tricky stairs to get to the place (Thanks, gawking hipsters, for not offering to help!), but the bathrooms have no changing tables, no counter space, and filthy, sticky floors.  So, I laid down a couple of sheets of The Stranger, changed her, and returned to the table, where I promptly spilled chocolate ice cream directly onto the sliver of ultimately unsalvagable white tank top peeking out from under my purple shirt.  Then, after our meal and some good slurps off of her sippy cup, I discovered that Livy's shorts were wet.  Now, given her poor cup handling skills I figured that she was just covered in water as I pulled her onto my lap.  Then I felt the familiar warmth of baby pee spreading down my leg.  So, after another trip to the newsprint-covered bathroom floor, Breanne and I hauled the baby and stroller up the stairs, hugged gingerly goodbye, and I rushed Livy home to scrub the transferred ink from her tush and do an emergency load of laundry.  I can't help but think that we impressed Breanne with our wit, charm, and aborbency.

But we put that chaos behind us.  Oh, look, here it is taking a commemorative photo!

So, it was a memorable birthday, even though we didn't remember it at the time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shame vs. Pride

Among our famlilial vernacular here at Me Show Central prominently feature the terms Shit Shame (SS) and Poo Pride (PP).  They're pretty self-explanatory, but I will explain them anyway because I love the sound of my own voice even when it's written.  SS is best personified by the character of Paul "Shit Break" Finch from the American Pie franchise, who would beat a hasty retreat from school to his home when a #2 came a-knockin' at his back door.  PP is best represented in my mind by a boy SLB and I went to high school with (this would be your cousin, Adam, Mrs. Miller) who would announce every day after lunch in chemistry class that he had to "drop the bomb," get up, leave, do his business, and return to class triumphant.  So, you see the delineation between SS and PP is clear.  But not so clear is on which side of this divide this falls:

J.D. Salinger's Toilet for Sale on Ebay

Because J.D. Salinger was a notorious recluse, I wonder if that automatically implies SS.  But perhaps he was only reclusive in how and whether he spoke to the public about his writing and was in his personal life a proud and performative pooper.  I'm certain that somewhere in his private papers is some piece of incontrovertible (I almost wrote "solid," but thought better of it.  No.  Wait.  I didn't think better after all.) evidence to demonstrate whether he was cringing or beaming on the john, and I eagerly await its public announcement and celebration by inhabitants of the crossroads of literary appreciation and feculent connoisseurship.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Little Moments

Lately Olivia has been very interested in climbing, but since we live on one level and don't have room for climbing toys she mostly climbs me.  I spend a lot of the day lying or sitting on the floor while she tries to scale me.  This is what that looks like.

These are the little pieces of her late babyhood/early toddlerhood that I'm going to miss, just like I miss the "interminable" hours of holding her while she slept on my shoulder as a newborn.  I'm trying to remember the good stuff as it happens, even when it's disguised as boring, repetetive, or mundane stuff.  These are good summer days.  These are good times.

Buy Yourself That: Emotion Coaching Funpak!

I think my bookgroup is reading John Gottman's Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.  We haven't talked about it in weeks, but I finished it a while back and really learned a lot from it.  It's one of those parenting books that not only helps you become a better parent, but also has the potential to help make you a better person, too.  Its core message is one of helping your children identify and cope with their emotions by empathizing and strategizing with them.  The idea is simple, but it seems pretty rare in practice.  Empathy certainly isn't emphasized in schools (this book is a great read for teachers, too), and it appears to be a newer revelation in parenting given what I've seen on playgrounds, etc., where getting kids to stop feeling their feelings seems to be job one in teaching good behavior.  I highly recommend this book to teachers, parents, and caregivers.  It's a great one and sure to be useful in improving your relationships with kids and adults alike.

To go with this, I bought Todd Parr's Feelings Flash Cards for Livy to play with. 

I really like them because of the vocabulary they teach.  Rather than being limited to "happy" and "sad," the cards run the gamut of complicated and nuanced emotions in kid-friendly language (annoyed, worried, excited, and even ants-in-my-pants are represented on the cards).  She likes to flip the cards and look at the pictures, and I like that she's picking up on emotional language that we can use together in emotion coaching later on.  Plus, Todd Parr is a fantastically funny illustrator.  Shoot, he created one of my favorite children's books, Underwear Do's and Don'ts, so I'm happy to support his little empire.

If you want to start smaller with your little one, I also recommend Mrs. Mustard's Baby Faces by Jane Wattenberg, a fold-out book that has all happy baby faces on one side and all sad baby faces on the opposite side.  It's a wordless book, so you can tell the story of each baby or give each emotion a name on your own, but little babies love looking at the crisp, clear photos of other babies.  Olivia has loved (and mauled) this book since I bought it when she was about 3 months old, and it's always a favorite of other kids during playdates, too.  She sometimes points to the sad babies and makes sad faces herself and smiles with the happy babies, showing that she's learning empathy or playing with expressions of her own emotions, either of which is useful in fostering emotional intelligence.

So, there you have it!  You can take the teacher out of school, but you can't take the school out of the teacher.  I didn't mean to spend this year developing curriculum, but it sneaks up on me all the time and I only realize that I've done it after it's done.  Enjoy the fruits of my obsessive labors, friends!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Eat This: Roasted Asparagus, Yolky Egg, with Cheese, Bread, and Charcuterie

Just because it's summertime is no excuse to avoid the oven, especially when roasted farmer's market asparagus is on the menu.  I highly urge you to make this for yourselves and experience the ease, joy, and deliciousness of a 15 minute meal that transports you immediately to a small sidewalk cafe on a narrow, cobblestoned Parisian street.  Plus, it'll make your pee smell funny.  Win-win!

What you need:
Good bread
Good charcuterie
Good cheese
Olive oil
A delicious beverage (I like a glass of chilled white or pink wine, and SLB favors a cold beer.  Please yourself on this one, friends.)

What to do with it
1.  Preheat the oven to 400
2.  Wash your asparagus and trim off the woody ends.
3.  Put your asparagus on a sheet pan, then toss it with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a good grinding of pepper.
4.  Pop that tray in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the girth and mass of your asparagus, until it's roasted through.
5.  Now, while the asparagus is roasting, slice yourself some delicious bread, cheeses, and meats.  Arrange artfully on your plate or platter.
6.  Then, as your meat and cheese approach room temperature and become their unrefrigerated, flavorful selves and while the asparagus is still roasting away, make yourself a yolky egg of your choosing.  Some like them poached, but I like them sunny side up.  Ideally, your egg will be finished just as the asparagus comes out of the oven, but asparagus can wait for your egg to cook if it has to.  No worries.
7.  Place your egg on top of a healthy serving of asparagus.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Devour with your bread, cheeses, and meats.
8.  Toast yourself for being so continental, even as you eat dinner on the floor in front of a Daily Show rerun.  Aren't you sophisticated?  YES.  Yes, you are.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Spin, Livy, Spin!

Shameful confession: for as long as I can remember, I have had a huge crush on Stevie Nicks.  I can specifically remember spinning along with Stevie in the "Gypsy" video as she spins with herself in the mirror, which I think officially makes me a metaStevie of sorts.  If you haven't seen the video, I highly urge you to watch it now.  While I use them with a frequency to that which I use "the," I generally hesitate to drop F-bombs on this blog.  But I'm dropping one now, friends, because this video is fucking awesome.

The earnest gazes!  The cinematic pretensions!  The obvious use of dancing body doubles!  The cameos by other Fleedwood Mac members (the best of which is easily the closeup of Mick on the back of a truck, followed closely by the closeup of Mick in a rain-soaked fedora).  In the name of the Sweet Baby Jesus, the lyrics!  What do they mean?  What's happening here, besides spinning wildly and gazing poignantly?  Oh, right.  BEING AWESOME, that's what's happening here.

So, yeah, I love me some Stevie Nicks.  In fact, when my mom and I attended the Tacoma Dome extravaganza that was The Dance reunion tour, I screamed "SPIN STEVIE, SPIN STEVIE, SPIN STEVIE!" so loudly when she got up a particularly good twister that I was hoarse the next day.  And this is to say nothing of the best Halloween costume ever - me as Rumours-era Stevie continuing an ill-advised relationship with an unfortunate young man I convinced to dress up as Lindsey Buckingham for the exact purpose of me needing a Lindsey Buckingham.  Yes, friends, you could say that I have a disease and that the only cure is a combination of gauzy bell sleeves, platform granny boots, and velvet top hats.

And so you'll understand why this was so thrilling today.

She's blonde; she has huge, curly hair; and she likes to spin.  She is the second coming of the Nicks!  Bow to her, and then rise gracefully, gaze intensely, and spin for all that you're worth!*

Future Livy

*As a reader of this blog, I'm just going to assume that this isn't much.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Flow It, Show It, Long as God Can Grow It

I am a short woman with straight, dark hair.  SLB is a short man with straight, dark hair.  Thus, it only makes sense that our tall, blonde daughter's hair is now growing out into a curly mop top. 

We know that the height comes from my mom's side of the family, and we guess that the blonde is either from SLB himself (he used to be a towhead) or again from my mom's side.  The best we can do to guess at the curly-headedness is that it's a fairly recessive gene from my dad's side of the family.  Other than that, we're stumped.  Livy Bean is truly her own lady.

And some days, when we're really lucky, she is her own lady with FANTASTIC bedhead.  The curliness adds amazing height and dimension to her sleep bedraggled locks.  For example, one recent morning she woke up with a perfect cropped bouffant 'do reminiscent of conservative 1960's secretaries.

Miss Larsen, would you please take dictation?  Bring your steno pad...

Feminine, but businesslike.  That's our Livy.

Bring in a cup of coffee, too.  Black.  You can get one for yourself, too, if you'd like.

The profile was remarkable.  No product here, just the magic left over from a nighttime visit from the Bouffant Fairy.

The curls have even started to ruin a beloved post-bath tradition of slicking her hair back into a Gordon Gekko 'do. 

Before curls.

After curls.  No hope for Wall Street here, hippie.

But it's nothing that a barrette can't fix.

Sing it!: She's got Charlie Manson eyes...