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April 2014

March 2014

Weather Extremes

A few weeks ago we had rain. A rare and wondrous thing in Los Angeles. We desperately need the rain and so do I. I think I have the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I need MORE cloudy rainy days in winter. All this sun is depressing. Yes yes, I know I know, I have it good out in sunny California. I just like a little more variety in my weather. A little more = just rain once or twice a month at least!

But back to the rain we did have. Harper was prepared! She loved going out in her awesome boots and splashing around. She also loves using an umbrella, inside, outside, anytime actually!


So that was three days of rain this whole winter. And this past week or so we've had days in the 90s again. Blech. But Harper loves that too. She gets to dig in the garden and find her new favorite thing BUGS! She loves the bugs and I'm making sure I help her gently hold them and then put them back. I don't want her to be freaked out by them at all. We'll see if that sticks.



Catching Up With Willoughby

Our new cat, Willoughby, is truly a member of the family now. She clearly was ready for a house to live in because it really took her no time to figure out the cat box and to be comfy all over the house. She's not too pleased now though. We got her spayed last week and she's living with the Cone of Shame for about ten days. Check the stinkeye.


The saddest part is watching her try to just have a bath. She sits in all those regular cat positions, but she can only lick the inside of the cone. It's hilarious, poor thing. Man, when the cone comes off and the stitches are out, it's going to be a huge lick fest.

It had to be done, of course, we are responsible pet owners and she has been and indoor/outdoor cat even when we brought her in, officially. And we knew it was time as she was desperate to get outside at night and making all kinds of crazy meow sounds. Plus there were a few other cats who suddenly showed up in our backyard from time to time.

Did I mention desperate to get outside?


She and Harper get along well, though Willoughby is still a kitten and can sometimes scratch Harper when she gets excited. That's no fun. But Harper is learning to be careful around Willoughby and does give her gentle "pat pats". They can be pretty cute together.



Part Time SAHM Adventures

We are fortunate that we have a nanny part time to care for Harper while we work on other projects that we hope will become well-paying projects. I'm still looking for full time VFX work and Kurt is currently employed on a few writing projects. So on the days there is no nanny, I am on full Harper Patrol. I am a part-time stay-at-home-mom. And in doing so I find myself being quite the throw back old-school mom. Maybe cuz I'm old? Whatever, it amuses me. And trust me when I say, as a mother to a two year old, you need all the self-amusement you can find. (Get your mind out of the gutter! This is a family blog!)

Sammich1Case in point -- sandwiches. On days when it's just me and Harper, I plan a field trip with other friends and their kids or just us. Either way, I pack our snack/lunch bag. Sammich2Lately I've been making sandwiches for us. But funny enough, I find I like to cut the crusts off. I've NEVER done that before unless I was making tea sandwiches for a special occasion. But I find myself doing it now. Then there is wax paper. I always have some around (why?) but now use it all the time to wrap the sandwich! Very handy, and folding that wax paper is somehow satisfying. Maybe I'm just losing my marbles. No matter, the sammiches are delicious. Ask Harper!

Someone gave us a Richard Scarry book called What Do People Do All Day? Harper likes to read it ("read" it) and so we've spent time going through it, though not really reading it word for word. In fact it took a few times before I found this gem:





"She earned it by taking such good care of the house."


Mommy earned the dress, but she doesn't get to leave the house or get to actually, you know, choose the dress she might like. Or choose something better, like a high paying job outside the home. But nevermind.

Can I interrupt my own blog post to say this about being a parent? Thanks, here goes: The one thing I don't remember reading in any parenting book -- and I've read a few -- is how boring it can be. B O R I N G!! You hear about the hard stuff (tantrums, hitting, etc), the joyful stuff (too many to mention) but you never hear about how just downright DULL it can be to hang with a two year old day after day. I will say the dullness can be interrupted by some super awesome cute moments, that is for sure. But hours spent at a park watching Harper push her own stroller can be mind melting snooze fest. You can't read a book or talk on the phone or even text with friends, or if you do it's just to answer with LOL or OMG or nothing at all because you are standing under a climbing structure saying "How about the slide? Come down the slide!" You can't really chat with other parents who are there because you can't quite make eye contact and/or you are running after your own child in the opposite direction. You get three words out and then have to run, then come back for two more then have to run again. Sometimes it is super challenging. A lot of times it is great, most times, totally boring. My least favorite times are when we are playing in Harper's room, building her wooden train set. She'll get distracted with something else so I'll start building away and will actually be enjoying it, then she'll usually come over and Godzilla the crap out of it. Sigh. It's so hard at that point not to say out loud "DUDE! I WAS TOTALLY BUILDING THAT!"

But back to the fun parts. Like Breakfast In Box. Harper was acting like a cat for a few weeks, totally loving this big box we had around. Many a breakfast was had in-box.


Meal times are good for inadvertent face-painting. Sometimes jelly, sometimes cream cheese, sometimes ketchup. OMG Harper loves ketchup! "Spicy!" She'll dip anything in it. Last night she ate a big pile of green beans by dipping them in ketchup. Cool with me!


One of her favorite things is to have a surprise after dinner. Sometimes a cookie, sometimes a mini ice cream cone (one of our fave things from Trader Joe's), sometimes homemade berry smoothie. But she can't quite say "surprise." For some reason it came out "soapy prize" which I think is awesome. So now when we need more mini ice cream cones, I write soapy prize on the list. Kurt knows exactly what that means. Once she started understanding that it was a special treat, she started asking at breakfast with big eyes after one bite of yogurt "Soapy prize?"


I truly can't complain. Yes yes, our personal projects move more slowly because we can't be full time on them, but they are moving forward. And Harper is pretty danged great. We are so lucky. And there are evenings when I'm making dinner and look outside and see this:


Life is good.


Ponies! (Real and Not)

Harper had her first pony rides the other day. We were tipped off by other friends about the pony rides in Griffith Park. (Being a Westsider, I had not really dived into Griffith Park yet for things to do with Harper except for Travel Town once last year.) We were going to go with these friends, but alas, they had to cancel that day, so it was just Harper and me. It was OLD SCHOOL! And I loved it. I think Harper did to, though this first picture on her first lap around might not indicate it.


See? There we go!


I wasn't sure how she would like it and the wild thing is, you buy your ticket, get in line, hand the Pony Guy (Ponyboy?) your ticket AND YOUR CHILD and he just grabs up your kid, plonks them on a pony, straps the belt around and pushes the pony to its chute and off they go! Harper, as ever, was chill and just went with it. Parents are not allowed inside the ring area at all. She smiled big when I called over so I knew it was good. One ticket is good for two circuits. When she finished I asked if she wanted to go again and she said yes, so I bought two more tickets. When she finished her second go-round she said, "Down?" (meaning also "done") so she got down and we stood there and then she looked back at the ponies and said, "Again?" I laughed and pulled out the third ticket and up she went again. When she finished, there was a big high-five for Gus, the Pony Man.

Best $9 I've spent in a long while! ($3 a ride) Can't wait to do that again.

The real ponies were Tuesday. Thursday we went to the Santa Monica Pier Carousel for some fake pony rides. First time Harper's been on a carousel. Big week for firsts! Also, as an aside, did you know The Sting shot at this very carousel?

Again, wasn't sure if she'd like it (you sort of assume yes, but hey, she might not!) so I only bought one ticket to start. Then we bought two more. Cheaper than real ponies! 3 rides = $6.



I love this last expression plus the one handed riding..."I'm cool, Mama, I got this!"


By the way, when you are standing on a carousel (to get better pics/video), the centrifugal force is pretty surprising! It's a lovely place, highly recommend!


It's Pure, Look At The Label

Aji-msg-in-shaker-100gSo I was making green beans for dinner last night and while tossing the hot beans with butter I suddenly flashed on dinner at my GrandmaJane's house when I was a kid. She and Grandpa O lived in Makawao and I always loved going to the big ranch house for dinner. I especially loved her green beans. Her secret?


(For a certain few of you out there, you are now singing the tv jingle and will have it stuck in your head all day. Sorry!)

Look at that label: "Pure Monosodium Glutamate" MMMMmmmmm good!

Seriously, you just used to shake it on food like salt. Awesome.




I have so much to catch up on, blog-wise, but had to get this out first.


I Met Harold Ramis Once

When Jim Henson died in 1990, I almost burst into tears at work. His work had such a huge, wonderful impact on my childhood, in equal measure Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. He was gone too soon.

I felt almost the same way when I heard Harold Ramis died. His impact on my young teen and young adult self is life long. Ghostbusters was released on June 1, 1984. I got to see that movie in Los Angeles in a huge movie theater that was packed full of people, including one guy dressed as a ghostbuster. (Not sure which one, but probably Venkman because we all wanted to be Bill Murray.) I was just blown away by A) the sheer size of the theater and the audience, coming from my small town life and B) where did that guy get all that cool stuff (all the actual logo patches) to make that costume!?!?

Years later I was working at Sony Imageworks and we were bidding on the VFX work for Multiplicity. One of our biggest selling points was that we had the technology to shoot elements for the movie to create the multiple characters needed. We set up a camera test so that Mr. Ramis (the director) and the producers could come and see what we had to offer. The meeting was good, he was low-key and polite. I was so excited to meet him, so grateful to be in the room.

We went down to the stage to show him the camera set-up for the repeatable camera head (a big deal back then, very common now). We had set it up so that he could do a short bit of acting out himself as two different selves on camera. (A la Multiplicity.) He was game and sat down and suddenly the polite and low-key director turned ON! He was now an actor and improv comic creating a scene on the fly with himself. It was like lightning had struck the room. I had never spent time on set like that before and seeing that flash was incredible. I always thought myself a ham back then, maybe I could perform. But seeing Harold Ramis just GO, I realized I knew nothing about it and he was amazing.

All I've read about him since he died has been about his amazing comic genius, but also about his generosity and how he liked to work with a team, that he enjoyed the banter, the back and forth, the give and take. It wasn't just about him. Also, apparently, people thought he was pretty nice. I like to hear that because (back to me) I sometimes think I'm too nice for this business.

I'm going to miss everything that still might have been coming. I'm sorry he had to leave us so soon. I'm going to miss you Egon!


Envelopes and Stationery and Paper, Oh My!

HawaiiLetterThere is a blog I read by my friend and Seabury carpooler, Melissa, called "Julia's Bookbag." (Different Julia!) Every Friday she does a "Cool Stuff I Like" post and this week included a link to a post about amazing envelope inspiration. It is a collection of envelopes created by various artists. It brought me back to the days of intense letter writing I had growing up. Well, I say "intense" only because in this digital age, it seemed intense that I wrote so many letters back then. I still write my fair share now, actually. I love sending notes and thank yous and birthday cards in the mail. I love shopping for paper and cards and stamps and stickers.

Dc9stampMy parents got divorced when I was five and not too long after that my dad got remarried and they all (Dad, stepmom, two oldest sisters and Lucy, the best dog in the world) moved to the Big Island. My mom and my next oldest sister and I still lived on Oahu, then later Maui. I only got to see that side of my family two or three times a year (usually summers and New Year's Eve). So Dad and I wrote letters. Lots and lots of letters. I think my mom indulged me with colored pens and all kinds of stationery*. (Just as she indulged me in books!) I loved getting letters and I loved writing and sending letters.

Upss17jun90In high school I acquired about twenty West (at the time) German pen pals and seemed to constantly be writing letters, which I loved. (I still write to 3 of them!) Going to the post office in Paia to get mail was also so exciting. To see what might be in the box addressed to me was a thrill. That post office is no longer a post office but Box F will always be a strong memory in my mind. It was my grandmother's address, once upon a time, then it became ours.

CoconutIn college, during the summers, I wrote to all my dear friends, missing them all so painfully while I tanned and worked, counting the days before I came back to Los Angeles. The funnest part was sending coconuts to them all. You can mail just about anything as is via the Post Office, as long as it has the right amount of postage. (I sent coconuts similar to this one which I found on this instruction site for sending your own coconuts!)



Now there is a friend in Northern Ireland who has a daughter not much older than Harper. We promised we would have the girls be pen pals. We've written a few letters to each other in the last two years, but man it's challenging! So I am going to write a letter and mail it today. I PROMISE!


*Trying to remember where we might have bought the stationery from on Maui. Libertyhousebag
Liberty House? Hopaco? Shirokiya? God I loved shopping at Shirokiya! Hot Manapua and Hello Kitty pencil boxes and paper and stickers!! 200px-ShirokiyaUSA_logo