Kurt and his brother went to Rome for three days. Harper and I stayed behind to chill in/around Lucca. We went to a zoo yesterday (another unexpected treat) and today we went to the Pinocchio Park in Collodi. I've never read the book, only seen the Disney movie, which, honestly, is quite creepy and disturbing. Puppets turning into boys? Boys turning into Donkeys? Talking crickets? W E I R D. But hey, let's go to a park in honor of Pinocchio. The author was born in Collodi, hence the connection.
I'd read that it's a funky old fashioned little park but good for an outing. Little did I know what modern updates awaited! we got there around 11 and it had been raining a little so it was pretty empty. There was a school group as well, maybe 3rd graders, and they made a lot of noise, so it didn't feel totally empty. We walked in to the area with little rides and met Pinocchio himself. Kind of. I mean, he was dressed as Pinocchio and waved at the school kids as Pinocchio, but he also had the key for the three little rides and helped you on and pushed the start button. So.
Harper tried all three rides. They are hilarious in their antiquity and (lack of) speed.
First she tried the cars - not bad! I love the design of all these vehicles.
Then the carousel. Uh... yeah. Not really her speed.
Then the boats. Harper seemed really unclear on why these rides were so (let's be honest) lame.
Then we moved on to a play place with stuff to climb and a fun little mini-zipline thing. Little did we know it was a foreshadow of bigger things to come!
Then we had a snack and then watched a puppet show - all in Italian of course - but we were surrounded by 30 school kids who laughed and howled and shouted at the puppets. I didn't take a picture, but it was a plywood box with a window and some red "curtains" and one guy doing two hand puppets at a time. It was the story of Pinocchio with Geppetto and Pinocchio at the start, up to the point of where Pinocchio has run away and the Fox and Cat show up. Then it ends...Uh, okay! Now, that part took about 20 minutes, so thank goodness it ended, because OMG.
Anyway....then we grabbed a sandwich and a popsicle. Harper fit right in with the kids eating their ice cream. I loved that.
After frozen treats we walked through the mini forest filled with sculptures of characters from the book - but not happy Disneyesque type sculpture with color or joy. No, these were like 1970's retro Post WW 2 Neorealism commentary on life. This is the statue of the Blue Fairy, which Harper clearly dug, so what the hell do I know?
But there were fun little secret paths and then you end up at/in the whale! Check that fab 70's Italian Design!
After the whale, in which you go into the mouth, then climb up a spiral staircase out the blow hole, then down some back stairs, there was a small hedge maze. We cranked through that pretty well.
Then. Then we got to the brand new adventure portion of the creaky old park. There are two parts - a smaller Ship thing for the kids to walk around, balance beams, swinging mini bridges, etc. All while on a harness and clipped onto cable. It's for ages 5 - 14 and Harper wanted ON! So I signed our lives away and she got buckled in and had instructions on how to clip in and out - made simple for kids.
And she was off!
Just freaking going for it.
Please note, I am far away - there is nobody else out there, no safety person, no monitor, nothing! Just my five year old daughter who clearly has been waiting for this opportunity for ages...(click for bigger)
But that was part 1. Part 2 is across the river. Over a swinging bridge. Harper, do you want to go? Yes. But the wire to hold onto is pretty high, do you think you can reach it? Yes. You have to swing across the river to come back, is that okay? Yes. I can't go with you, just the safety woman, still want to go? Yes.
I wasn't afraid she would get hurt, I was only afraid she might get all the way over and halfway through that course and something would scare her. I mean, there are times on a regular playground in LA where she asks for my help. But this??? She was on her own. And damn if she didn't freaking do it all.
Then the big finish! No hesitation, she just went! ZIP!
When she landed, she did look a bit pale, and I said are you okay? She nodded then smiled and I burst into tears and hugged her and told her how proud I was of her! She is my BADASS DAREDEVIL GIRL!
Then she want back to the ship 2 more times. She didn't want to do the zip again...fair enough. For the rest of the hour I hugged her and said how amazed and proud I was of her. DAMN!
At the end, there was a coloring place and the Blue Fairy (a young woman in a cheesy costume - Cheesy withe a capital Cheese) made her a little fairy wand to color. She asked her name and I had to say Harpe. P. Har--p -- er. And we got this:
Harper has settled into some phrases in her 4 3/4 years (and she'll say "I'm 4 and 3/4" because she cannot wait to be 5!). My favorite is when she is telling a story and she starts with "One time ago" as in "One time ago, we went to the big trees and I climbed a rock!" or "One time ago, Ethan made me laugh at school."
She says "alligator" for elevator, which is charming, but I know won't last long.
She says "Surprise" for dessert. Which is my unintentional doing. When she was late 1ish and 2ish and eating in a more grown up style, I would say after dinner "Do you want a surprise?" because dessert was a whole new concept. She took that to mean surprise = dessert. Even cuter back then, she would pronounce it "soapy prize". I was hoping that would stick, but alas, no. Now she also days dessert, but still will say while standing in front of the freezer "Papa, do you want a surprise?"
The other day, out of the blue (well, out of the blue to me) she was getting her shoes and said, "This is ridiculous!" I had never heard her use that word before! Cracked me up.
My parenting win moment:
The Scene: Dinner
Harper: Mama, I want more mac and cheese.
Me: There is no more mac and cheese.
Harper: But I want more!
Me: I know, but there isn't any. You can have more rice or green beans.
Harper: Okay. I'll have green beans.
This has been another installment of "Things Harper Says."
We let Harper watch YouTube videos of kids playing with toys, unboxing videos, etc. But lately we've turned her on to funny cat videos (ha!) and OK Go videos. Now I am OBSESSED with OK Go. Yes yes, I'm a little late to the party. But man, the work they put into their videos is fantastic. And I will be buying their albums.
Treadmill video √
Weightless video √
This video in particular made me shake my head with wonder at the design and set up. I also love it because it's the ULTIMATE singing while driving video.
We went to the Aquarium of the Pacific and I told her she could have a new toy from the gift shop. I also told her that meant when we got home, she had to pick one of her old toys to give away. (We say "to give to babies" for all things that she's outgrown.) It was a long drive home after the Aquarium and lunch but the minute she got in the house, she went straight to the toy box and picked out a toy for me to give to babies.
I had forgotten about in the hustle of getting home and emptying back-packs, etc. So when she went right to her room, it took me a minute to figure out what she was doing, digging through her toy box. Then she pulled a toy and said that one could go, but I had to convince her otherwise as it was the Totoro given to her by her cousin Jamie! Then she pulled out an old baby doll. Perfect. She then found the accompanying diaper and shirt and it was done.
Ready! Better socks and slightly more relaxed, now that I know what it's like.
Once I warm up, I don't hold onto Jeff as much and I feel smoother, less tentative. But let's be real - still shaky. The two girls who are practicing with their coaches sail by, lovely, artistic. They stop on a dime, effortless on skates. I try to keep to a clear line so they know where I'm going and don't annoy them. I imagine them wondering who the fat old lady with pink hair is. But then I think: they aren't thinking about you at all, they are thinking ahead to nationals.
Did you know there are roller skating nationals? Like Ice Skating, but on wheels? I had no idea. Lincoln, Nebraska is home to the Roller Sports National Championships. Lincoln is also home to the National Museum of Roller Skating. Road trip! I have half a fantasy of making a documentary about Roller Skating Nationals. But that will have to wait.
I felt great in this lesson. I didn't fall and could see a future of just skating with ease and grace. No tricks, no fancy footwork, just confident fun skating. Jeff did try to start me on backward skating, but I was not ready. I couldn't get the opposite-balance thing going in my mind/body and that's okay, only second lesson, let's not rush. But I desperately need to work on my cross training.
The reason I started this to begin with is that I suddenly got plantar fasciitis in my right foot and can't walk or run for exercise - incredibly frustrating. I needed an alternative form of exercise to get into shape. Swimming I can do (I started to, then got a sinus infection, then my work schedule changed) and biking also (though I need to get a new bike as I only have a beach cruiser) - both are non impacting and good for me. But oh swimming. I did it for years through elementary and high school and it's not my favorite thing. Nothing to see except the bottom of the pool, lap after lap. I'll get back to it once this job is done, swim once or twice a week for variety, but it will never be my main source of exercise.
Somehow roller skating popped up in my brain and taking lessons made the most sense. Build some confidence, learn some skills, then apply that to skating on my own time, up and down the bike path near our house. Improve my fitness, increase my lung capacity, keep up with Harper, all that good stuff.
After this excellent lesson, I was feeling confident and got home and took Harper out on scooters. I used her Bigger Girl one, she used her old one. We scooted along well, having some fun, then on our way home, I hit a bump in the sidewalk and DOWN I WENT! Skinned up my left knee REAL good. Oh man. But thankfully, I only skinned my knee. Nothing else got hurt at all - miracle. Harper and I walked home. I felt like the fat old lady with pink hair. Confidence gone.
Who would have thought that I would acquire two new pen pals in this day and age? One of them is even of the "write an actual letter, put a stamp on it and send via US Mail" type. And I love it.
The first new pen pal is of the modern variety - email. She is the wife of a dear old friend and classmate from Seabury. They had their first baby this year and reached out to me to ask questions and get ideas. I had a blast answering a list of "what is really important for new babies?" email. Way better than a Buzzfeed quiz, let me tell you. (BTW the answer is really: "not much!") Since their baby was born we have email pictures and notes back and forth almost weekly. And not just "hey here's a cute baby pic" but actual paragraphs of news and updates and getting-to-know-you type stuff. It took me a while to recognize what I had: A New Pen Pal. Well, a virtual pen pal, an email pal? An EPal? (Sounds like a dotcom that went bust in 2000.) Anyway, a new friend. (They live in NYC.)
The more recent pen pal is a friend I've known from blog life for about eight years. He is the most modern of communications people that I know, an early adopter of e things, but mainly social media. I learn a lot from him and consult often about how to approach things online. Smart guy. Recently he decided to try writing actual letters to people instead of just emailing or tweeting back. My understanding is he wanted to have the focused experience of communicating with one person at a time in a manner that requires time and effort. He bought a manual typewriter to accomplish just that and posted his PO Box address for anyone who wanted to write. Well, you know me. This just started in November and will take a bit longer to get rolling. I sent the first note, he responded with one typed letter and I've written back. I imagine his PO box will be full for a while and he'll be busy strengthening his typing muscles, responding to those. The funniest part? He lives in LA. I think I've seen him IRL about five times.
The arrival of the mail carrier is now more exciting than before. Will I get an actual letter today? (The holidays are good for this kind of thing, but with the advent of "Holiday cards untouched by human hands" it's lost its magic. Just email me a picture if you aren't going to write anything on the damn card! Bah humbug.) Even my email inbox has gotten dull -- mostly newsletters and blog post updates. Hardly any personal stuff any more. Facebook has slowed that down a lot, people just post a thought and hope you see it. I hardly see it.
New Pen Pals in 2014. Who'd have thought? I'm pleased as punch and must rush out and buy more stationery...
PS The image of the stamped letter from 1898 is to a person whose name is alarmingly similar to my family name from a few generations ago and I grew up in Spreckelsville on Maui. Must research into Mr. Lowrie a bit today.
I have become a Whovian. Well... most true Whovians might say I'm a Julia-come-lately and that I'm not a true Who Fan because I only started with the 9th Doctor, not the entire show from the 60's. That's fair. But I had to start somewhere!
Honestly, I couldn't stand not knowing what all the wacky references were on the internets. I kept seeing things about Daleks (costumes, birthday cakes, silly hats, people saying "exterminate!" in funny voices) but didn't know what they meant. Same for the Tardis. And Sonic Screwdrivers and Weeping Angels and Cassandra. And on and on. I thought I knew a thing or two about some pop culture sci-fi stuff, but I had missed this whole side of the world and felt it was time to get on board. Thanks to Netflix, it was easy to drink the kool-aid and step into the Tardis.
And now I'm hooked!
Bingeing Vs. Real Time
In the precious few moments between Harper going to bed and me going to bed (it's a very small window as I'm such an early to be/early to rise kind of person) I like to watch a bit of mindless tv. And Doctor Who has filled that bill for me over the last few months. I understood going in that there is a giant machine of fandom behind this show and that I couldn't hope to grasp it all in just a few weeks or months. I also understood that Doctor Who is mainly a show for a younger audience. It's on during family time on Saturday nights. It's a bit goofy. It can be scary but not bloody or violent. I think it's wonderful.
The hard part about bingeing a show like this (or any show that really strikes your fancy I guess) is twofold:
1) Once you catch up to where the actual show is in real time, you have to WAIT for more episodes! (or sadly if it is a show with no more episodes, it ENDS!!!) I just finished the last episode of Matt Smith's era. I have all the new episodes waiting on my DVR, but I can't bring myself to start them yet. I need a bit of mourning for the loss of that bow-tied goof. And I don't want this binge ride to end. Of course it's not like the show is over, I will just have to wait like everyone else for the next season. (Christmas Special notwithstanding.)
2) With bingeing you don't get that deep investment of time that comes with "from the start" fandom. I love Star Wars and I had to wait YEARS! before I got to see what happened to our intrepid rebels after they (spoilers) blew up the Death Star and Darth Vader got away. Then I had to wait MORE YEARS to see what happened to Han when he got frozen in carbonite! (I love you. I know.)
(And when you are such a deep fan of something, words like carbonite are so much a part of you that when I typed it just now, I wasn't sure if it was the right word because it is a real word to me. "Kurt, can you pick more carbonite at Trader Joe's?"))
Oh and the kids today! They can just watch all the movies at once if they like. (I'm not really talking about the prequels, mmmmkay?) Don't even get me started on Harry Potter and again, waiting YEARS before the next book came out. The anticipation was fantastic! (And yes, I was in my 30s, waiting with bated breath for the next book to come, always rereading the previous book just before the new one was published so that I was PRIMED! I think I read the last two almost straight through...)
Yes, there are new books and movies and series coming out now that people are huge fans of and they do get the experience of the waiting, the anticipation. These are good things. The waiting is what creates the deep fan experience. But with bingeing, there is the loss of that experience. Or it is squeezed into days (or hours in some cases) and can't, therefore, be as rich.
When you watch something from the start, there is time to talk/argue/reflect/defend while waiting for the next. The next episode, The next season, the next Doctor. But maybe that is a plus for bingeing -- not so much argument. I have Whovian friends who go RABID when discussing Matt Smith and Steven Moffat. I loved David Tennant but was frankly ready for something new when he was done. (Though I would have happily had another year of him and Donna together and I will argue that while she got married and got rich, she should have gotten to remember all she had done and experienced so that she knew what an incredible person she really was.)
The beauty of today, 2014, is that a) we can binge on shows and b) there is so much to read out there online. While I don't have the years of investment in Who that others have, I can certainly read and watch and enjoy all kinds of Who related things and feel a part of this community right away. There will be those in the community who might think me a Doctor Who Dilettante (A Wholettante?) but that's okay, there are always those kinds... I have enough respect for the show, the world of Doctore Who to at least not be this.
In Part Two, I will explore the curiosity factor and how it should never stop being a part of your life. Oh and Nerds. And also letting your freak flag fly!
I live in Los Angeles. In the summer of 2006 I worked in Mexico City. Instead of sending out giant emails full of photos to friends and families, I started this blog. The summer turned out to be a crazy one and this blog and my camera kept me sane. I didn't want to stop observing and writing when I got home to LA, so I kept the blog going.