Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Only Been a Week?

I feel like the last seven days have been a lifetime (oh, wait; it's been 9 days---well, that negates some of hyperbole). Operation: Keep Ethan Happy & Busy While Husband is in London on Business was in full swing. There were house guests, four-and-a-half hour play dates, hikes in the woods, a trip to the ballet. It was epic. And while Ethan woke up every morning with one question: "Is Daddy coming home today?" he was happy, busy and all around wonderful to be around the whole week.

First, our friend Elisabeth came up from Los Angeles. I've not talked about it a lot, but I have gone through some serious LA withdrawals. Strange, given how I so clearly recall all the sobbing and gnashing of teeth I went through when we ended up moving there. And while I am very happy to be living in Northern California now, I still miss the friends we made in LA and the neighborhood we lived in. So it was great to have Elisabeth come up for a few days to help me distract Ethan from Husband's absence. There were hours (literally) of Guitar Hero and a trip up to the city. We watched the sea lions, gorged on chocolate at Ghirardelli's, hopped on the street car in the rain, had lunch at a sketchy restaurant in Chinatown (thankfully it was vegetarian so I was not too worried by any mystery meat that might have ended up on my plate otherwise).

The sea lions!!! They're back!!

check that ice cream. Bigger than his head.

"I will conquer the ice cream!" (he did not, but that's okay)

After Elisabeth left on Wednesday, we headed up to the Santa Cruz mountains with friends from preschool. Now, if you know me, you know I'm not so much with the outdoors. I wasn't raised to really be one with nature. My dad used to say, "I spent a year camping. In Vietnam." So you know, that really ended that discussion. And that's okay. We rented a beach house for two weeks every summer and took walks on the beach every night--that was our outdoorsy time. And it was great. But it wasn't really throw on a backpack and hike up the side of a mountain type of experience, you know? So I've always kind of wanted to explore that part of the outdoors that I wasn't really privy to growing up. Thankfully, friends of ours are uber-outdoorsy, so I plan on riding their wake, so to speak, into the great outdoors, as much as I can this summer. As long as I can stop imaging mountain lions and bears stalking me through the forest. Because you know. That sucks. But the hiking is awesome.

look at how excited he is to hike?! And how much do you freaking love the poncho he had to borrow from our friends because mama forgot that when you go 1000s of feet up in elevation, it gets a bit chilly. He is like David freaking Cassidy, for the love.

oooooh, moss.

I loved these mossy rocks.

blazing the trail...

snack time. Seriously, so much fun. Ethan loved it so much and it made me feel so happy to be surrounded by nature--except for the mountain lions that I'm sure were there stalking us.

Don't they look like they're having a serious discussion about something? Like maybe those banana chips. Or the mountain lions that I know were stalking us.

The next day, after school, we embarked on the marathon play date. We arrived at our friend's house at 1:30 and didn't head for home until after 5:30. I wish I had some pictures to post, but my mommy friend and I may have sat on our butts for those 4 hours while our children headed off for parts unknown in the house, happily playing independently for most of the time. They emerged long enough to scarf down half a watermelon. And I will neither confirm nor deny that the children were later found trying to diaper themselves and/or each other with newborn diapers. So clearly, they had a good time.

Friday, we mellowed out. I don't sleep well when the house is sans Husband. Not only is it because of the parenting 100% of the time, but because every little sound at night has me lurching out of the bed, rechecking the locks, wondering where the phone is in case I need to gather up Ethan, hide in a closet and dial 911 (um. can I borrow some xanax? Anyone?). So by Friday I am a little woozy from the lack of sleep. Ethan, however, has endless reserves of what can only be described as jet fuel spurring him on to go! go! go! all week long, even when Husband is out of town. So I'm glad for that, I guess; at least it means he's at ease, and able to sleep even when Daddy's not home.

At least when I can't sleep, I get to look at this sweet face.

Before picking Husband up at the airport on Saturday, Ethan and I joined friends at the ballet. We went to a local production of Alice in Wonderland and it was really great and Ethan loved it---until they did a frighteningly accurate retelling of the "off with her head" part of the story. Guards pushing Alice to the ground, holding her arms out and pushing her head down. A Marilyn-Manson'd-out executioner jumping all over the stage with a massive, axe. Oh yeah, it was good. My friend and I gave each other the hair eyeball over the kids' heads and I could tell we were both trying to calculate the amount of therapy the kids were going to need.

Fortunately whoever did the blocking on the production didn't pay much attention to what the outer edges of the rows could or couldn't see, because at the moment the executioner raised her axe, half of the deck of cards lined up right in our line of sight, so scariest Alice moment averted, thank you very much.

Ohdeargod, right??!! I swear my friend and I did NOT color coordinate them intentionally. Ethan picked his shirt out himself. I want to write up a marriage contract right now and be done with it, people. Is that wrong?

Waiting for the ballet to start. Clearly they had some reading to do about the production and cast...

Intermission hill races. Preschooler cannot live on ballet alone, you know.

After the ballet, it was a quick stop to the frozen yogurt place and then off to the airport to pick up Husband. Poor Husband was home for an hour before I made him put Ethan to bed and then stay up another 4 hours to watch the series finale of LOST with me. I'm a giver, what can I say?

Ethan doesn't quite grasp how exciting it is that mama nabbed one of those Smarte Cartes, for free! Squee! It was just sitting there in the parking lot when we arrived and I was so excited not to have to pay $1. Then Husband told me that they're always free in the international terminal. Damn it!

But he had to watch LOST the night he returned because the next day we were going to a Memorial Day barbeque with friends who had all watched the finale and we NEEDED to wax philosophical about the existential angst/fulfillment/angst/fulfillment that was the finale. (seriously, did you watch it?! Awwwwwwesome!)

In addition to the LOST conversation, there was some serious face-painting, an epic water balloon fight, an obscene amount of lamb and wine, and a paper airplane competition off the edge of the world. So, you know. A great night.

Not a bad view, huh?

I cannot even bring myself to think of all the little lambs that had to die so I could eat this. But it was insanely good.

I made "dirt" for dessert for the kids. Pudding, cool whip, a stick of butter, a slab of cream cheese, vanilla, and a bag of crushed oreos. Insane. Shove a few gummy worms in there and you are good. to. go. (Also, I made a blueberry pie for the adults that I burned to a crispy crisp, but they are good friends so they ate it and oooh'd and ahhh'd it even though it tasted slightly of the inside of my oven).

the dessert was a hit.

so was the wine.

The dads got their inner geek on and engineered their own paper airplanes and flew them (read: nose-dived them) off the edge of the mountain in the back yard.

My little Paul Stanley (taking a break from being a Paul of the McCartney persuasion last night) serenading us.

"As soon as my friend's dad fills this balloon up with water, it is going to rock your world! Or I will just throw it off the side of the back porch and watch it pop on the ground. Over and over again."

Aaaaaand, this morning. Yes, he fell asleep in the car, in one of his girl friend's pajamas and still in face paint. Yes, I know.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My first "You Capture"--Sky


For a long time, I've admired Beth's blog, I Should Be Folding Laundry, especially her Thursday photography staple, You Capture, where she inspires with a different subject each week and allows people to link to her blog with their results. This week, I have finally decided to join in.
The subject for the week was "sky."

I love to see the sky from the perspective of other living things--so I will scoot down to the level of whatever it is (in this case, my neighbor's gorgeous white roses--they look like clouds themselves) and then look up at the sky to see what they "see."

I am totally cheating with these two pictures because they are taken with the "hipstomatic" application from my iPhone. But I love them.

I know, ideally, the pictures for You Capture are supposed to come just the week of the assignment, but I couldn't resist a picture of the sky from our Maui trip to the top of Mt. Haleakala. I mean, please we are IN the sky. Those are clouds, BELOW the road.

This picture is 100% unedited (I have less than zero idea how to edit a picture except to take the red eye out in Snapfish--because I'm a wicked good photographer, y'all), but the darkening blue of the sky as the eye travels up the picture is gorgeous to me and makes me wish we could see just that much higher to wear it fades to black and stars. Being that high up (10k feet) is, quite literally breath-taking, and has views of the sky to match.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

First, let me start by saying I loathe that old nursery rhyme about what little boys and girls are made of. You know, the one that says that girls are "sugar and spice and everything nice," and boys are "frogs and snails and puppy dog tails." Uchhhhh.

Because I'll tell you, my boy's veins practically run with sugar. And his friend Evie, Kita's daughter, is responsible for introducing us to snails when we all lived in Los Angeles, and she had one living as her pet in a little terrarium she carted around with her; so clearly little girls have a bit of the snail in them, too. The adage essentially runs to the core of what's wrong with gender roles and how they are foisted on our children, in cute little rhyme-form, from day one. It makes me all kinds of angry, but that's another blog entry that I've been tossing around in my head for awhile. Today I'm just using that line as a title because I'm going to write about snails. Lots of snails.

We have, in our front yard, what you might call as snail farm. A community of squatting snails who are taking over our front walk, our driveway, and pretty much any other place they can get to between dark and light, or during a rainy day. Ethan is fascinated by them. Fascinated. And strangely, inexplicably? I love them. Quite simply, I think they are freaking awesome.

I know. They are absolutely disgusting. Seriously, I know. And I don't know exactly what they do to plants and grass that make companies produce snail killing pesticides, but clearly it can't be good. But there is something about their tenacity--they stick to everything and their nightly journey--out from under the shrubs, across the walkway, party in the grass all night and then, in the wee hours of the day, while it's still dewy out, shlep back across the lawn, across the walkway and back up under the shrubs--is impressive to me; so slow and determined. Like the turtle in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, stoically facing, and steadfastly overcoming, whatever impediments present themselves in its journey across the highway.

Um. Have I been drinking? No. Sadly friends, this is me, undrunk.

I just like them. Their weird little antennae-sort of eye-things that wiggle in every which direction as they mind their own business, just trying to get where they're going. The strange little spotted stuff (yeah, I know it's slime and that it should make me want to puke. I KNOW! I'm really as horrified as you that it doesn't make me want to puke!) they leave behind all over the sidewalk as sort of a "I've been here! It took me an hour to get back to where I came from, but I was here!" For some reason, I love it when I go out at night, especially if it's raining, and I have to tip-toe in a zig-zag down my walkway to avoid the small army of snails oozing their way from the shrubs to the grass (remember, party in the grass all night!) (also, interesting to note: the last time I ran anywhere in a zig-zag fashion was when I lived outside of Washington, DC during the sniper scare and people ran through parking lots in a zig-zag, erratic fashion to better their chances of avoiding being hit by a bullet if they were the next ones caught in the sniper's cross-hairs. I'm not kidding. We all looked absurd and it would have been hysterically funny if we hadn't all so scared for our lives that autumn).

Anyhoo, back to the snails. I'm slightly horrified that the neighborhood kids take some serious delight in killing the snails. Like, giddy, giggly, crazy-eyed glee. One of the little girls likes the huck them into the street and watch them get smooshed by a passing car. The little boy stomps on them and laughs at the crunchy sound they make and the giant snot-like smear (which should gross me out and remind me that these things are GROSS! but it just makes me sad) left on the sidewalk when he lifts his feet.

Ethan is equally fascinated by and protective of the little slimy beasts. He practically hyperventilates when the kids next door get to snail-massacring. To the point that I've had to tell them that they are absolutely, no questions about it, NOT allowed to mess with the snails in our yard. If they HAVE to fulfill their bloodlust and kill the poor saps who slime their way over to their yard? Fine. So be it. They leave my property, it's out of my hands. But in our yard? Hands off! No snailocide on my watch, people!

We have a new gardener (comes with the rent; I'd rather do it myself, but we're already paying for it) and he's a bit heavy-handed with the trimmers. Some gardeners lovingly tend the greenery, coaxing it grow and flourish. Not this guy; he gardens like his mother was eaten by a Venus Flytrap and he's out for revenge. For example, he did this to a tree in our front yard, a formerly gorgeous purple-flower flowering tree:

About 28 hours ago, it was full and lush with cute little purple flowers that almost looked like they were made of silk. And now...seriously???!!! Ugh. The man hates ALL flowering trees--he did this to three flowering trees in our backyard about a month ago and I assumed he was just a little over-eager with the sheers that day. But no. Come to find out, if it's got a flower on it, his goal seems to be to pare it back to the point that will ensure it doesn't flower again for the rest of the season. Mission accomplished, Edward Scissorhands. Mission accomplished.

And while I'm horrified by what he did to the tree, I have to admit, it makes our snail watching a just a leeeetle bit easier. See, they live in the shrubs to the lower right of the picture and around the vines and rock wall of the front porch (where my "jogging" stroller sits...idly). When the tree was in full bloom, it took up a lot more space, and the tree is just ONE example of the destruction he wrought on the front yard, so without the excess "over"growth (read: just regular old growth that normal gardeners would have left the hell alone), its easier to see where the snails are sleeping or heading to on their epic treks.

Upon discovering a little cluster of snails, some napping, some sauntering around the tree, we had to stop and investigate. Oh, and a point of clarification, I do not require my child to wear a helmet every time we go outside; he was riding his bike moments before we switched gears to snail-watching. Just so you know.

This picture cracks me up every time I look at it. I have never seen him make that face before and it is so hilarious. He got so close to the tree that he bonked his helmet on it, but he would not be deterred from his quest to inspect the sleeping snails (as seen in the first picture of this post; which, by the way, I love even though I know I should find it revolting. I KNOW!)

"Wakey wakey, snails!"

Posing with the snails--you can't see them, but believe me, they are there.


Mama & baby snail. SO GROSS! But we lurve them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Whiny Me


I've just written the longest, whiniest blog entry in the history of blog entries about how I have nothing to write about, no ideas, am feeling in a rut, blah blah blah. And for someone complaining about how I've nothing to say, I certainly did ramble on for HOURs. And I like you too much to put you through that, reader. So.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Twisted Sister

That'd be me. My spine, to be exact.

Today I popped my chiropractic cherry. I may have mentioned (a hundred million times) in the past week that my back has gone all wonky. Searing lower back pain and spasm-y spasms of agony were pretty much my constant companions for the past several days. Over the weekend I had hoped that whatever was chewing on the nerves in my back (spine gremlins) would ease up, but in fact they only got worse and I found this morning that they were also chewing on the nerves going up my back AND down into my upper leg. Um. Halp!

So I spent my morning on the phone with chiropractor's offices, in search of a spine magician who could see me yesterday AND who would take my insurance. See, I spent 15 months in Los Angeles seeing every out-of-network practitioner I could find in a 10-mile radius for everything from reproductive endocrinology to psychiatry to acupuncture (holy hell, am I a case or what?!) I like recommendations from people I trust. Unfortunately, those recommendations don't always coincide with my insurance coverage.

And after all those months of trying to sort out receipts, and submitting for reimbursements that were never really worth the time and effort it took to get them, honestly, I just want to walk in to a doctor's office, slap down my insurance card and my $10 co-pay, and then check my email while I wait for my reliable insurance-covered health care provider to work some insurance-covered magic.

So I found someone who could see me within the hour (and was located less than a mile from my house---score one for laziness convenience) and then sat gingerly (read: with a spasming back) on my couch fretting what the appointment would hold. Would the guy accidently snap my neck right off of my head? Would he crack something that should never be cracked? Would I walk around forever more with my head on backwards, the result of some horrible chiropractic procedure gone wrong?

In the end I realized that all of those risks were worth taking if there was the slightest chance he could make this pain go away.

The doctor made lots of jokes from the second I walked in the door. I like a joke, so I was at ease immediately. After a few minutes of talking (and my admission of being completely terrified that he was going to inadvertently kill), he asked, "Is this where it hurts?" and put his hand on the EXACT SPOT on my lower back that's been absolutely killing me for a week.

Seems that my left pelvic bone had gone wonky and was tipped backwards, pinching whatever nerve it could find on its way. I was so relieved that my brief explanation of the pain made sense and brought him almost immediately to the problem. I was NOT, on the other hand, so relieved that he was going to have to "adjust" (most dismissive, understatement-y description of this event possible, by the way) a GIANT bone at the base of my spine instead of one of those teeny tiny ones higher up (which he's also going to have to do, but I'll get to that in a bit).

After about 7 minutes of lying on what really wanted to be a massage table, with some sort of shock therapy nodes strapped to my back, emanating warm pulsing waves of "back stop hurting" vibes, it was time for the "adjustment". The chiro had me lay on my side and bring my left knee up towards my chest. Weirdest position in a doctor's office, ever. Just saying. Then he said, "you're going to hear a pop," and GAH!!!!! my entire body snapped. But in a good way.

After the "adjustment," I waited to feel the pain that HAD to accompany such a wrenching sound and popping sensation. But it never came. Instead, I felt giddy with painlessness. He told me to get up and walk around, to see if I felt any better. Um.

NO PAIN! Well, a smidgen of discomfort, but nothing like what it had been 30 seconds earlier.

My complete lack of pain left room in my brain for me to obsess over my realization that when he made the adjustment, I'm pretty sure I yelled. Out loud. In a most undignified way. And there were people in the waiting room. Who wouldn't look at me when I came out of the room. I don't know if they were concerned that the chiropractor had hurt me, or if they were worried that I was actually having sex with the chiropractor. But either way, I had clearly been inappropriate and they didn't look at me. So, you know, that's awesome.

The chiropractor also noticed that there are two vertebrae up between my shoulder blades that have gone all tweaky, too. Which, he said, could explain why every once in awhile three fingers on my left hand get all tingly. At this point, I was thinking of asking him for a paper bag to breathe into, because OMG, if he found those tweaky parts OF MY SPINE, that means he's going to have to "adjust" those tweaky parts OF MY SPINE.


oh, sorry, I just passed out for a second there. The whole "cracking my SPINE---you know, those bones that protect my spinal column which is connected to my BRAIN" thing still really freaks me out, clearly.

I have a follow-up appointment for this Friday. Which I guess is when he's going to snap my head clear off my body adjust my cervical 7 vertebrae and make the tinglies in my fingers go away.

I'm comforting myself with the knowledge that almost 12 hours after my first adjustment, my lower back, while still a little bit sore, hasn't spasmed once and my range of pain-free motion has left the realm of "zero" and gone back into "you're just a little bit out of shape." I was even able to have a little bit of an apres-dinner dance party with Ethan this evening. So, while I live in deathly dire fear of the split second after the chiropractor says, "you're going to hear a pop," (okay, just almost passed out again), I know that the relief that comes after it will be blissful.