Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Sleeping Beauty

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I shot this image with my camera phone on the airplane home from Boston. Daisy was so thoroughly exhausted from the whirlwind long weekend trip to Maine, complete with a not-quite-redeye flight after a long day wandering the streets of Salem, MA. She finally succumbed to a fitful slumber sprawled out across our laps. The weekend was full of sleep like this: a nap while being carried in the Moby, cuddling between her father and me at three in the morning, a catnap in the car seat her little fingers tucked around mine.

Daisy slept in her crib from the first night we brought her home. I suppose it was partly because we paid a pretty penny for the crib, partly because of I was deathly afraid that I’d somehow smash her while I was sleeping, but mostly because I didn’t know how wonderful those moments of tangled limbs and contented baby sighs could be. Now, while she’s so little, I realize that these moments are fleeting. Right now she’s my baby, but soon she will be begging for sleepovers, breaking curfew, or just too cool for a long cuddle with mom.

So, as she lay sprawled across my lap, I watched her. I admired my sleeping beauty, and I thought of how much I love having her sleep on me, with me, near me. I love watching the slow rise and fall of her chest. I love feeling the warmth of her skin. I love watching the expressions on her face. I wonder at the fact that I love her so deeply, so unconditionally, and I find that I love her more in this moment than I did just moments before.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Two days in San Luis Obispo

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When an opportunity presented itself to allow J and I to go on a overnight to San Luis Obispo while Daisy stay with her paternal grandparents, we jumped at the chance. As well as being a sort of anniversary do-over, this trip was going to be our great escape from the never-ending diaper changing. A night to eat dinner out, sans high chair, to eat something spicy, drink copious amounts of wine, read uninterrupted, and most importantly, to sleep in. And, like all other first-time parents, I only called home a dozen or so times, and our conversation floated back to Daisy more than once.

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So, a couple weekends ago, the grandparents drove down, we gave them a run-down of Daisy’s very complicated schedule: eat, play, sleep, cycle repeat. We set off, the weather was glorious, mid-to upper 80s, sun shine all day. It was one of those clich├ę California weather days. 

One of our wine-tasting stops was Gainey Vineyard, just outside of Santa Barbara, a place that has delicious mustard, and decent wine. I had picked this specific winey BECAUSE of the mustard I had discovered at a friends house in which I restrained myself from licking the bowl clean. I politely partook in the wine tasting, and walked through the beautiful vineyard, and then I became nearly frantic when I realized that the mustard will not be ready until late June.

We also stopped at the Mission in Solvang. Some people love California beaches, or California’s selection on micro-breweries, and internet, I am obsessed with the missions. We wandered the grounds, took photos, sat on the benches watching a gaggle of teenage boys & girls pose for Quincea├▒era photos before making our way to our final destination.

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We stayed at the Madonna Inn, a place we’ve seen many times off Hwy 101, heard rumors about their bathrooms, and crazy rock-floor rooms, and this put us only a mile from the middle of town. As we walked up and down the streets we decided that we’d stop for some drinks, have an appetizer, walk around, and find another stop for the main meal, before moving on for dessert. I mean, we were only in town for one night, so we had to make the most of our stay.

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Our first stop was Mo Tav, a sports bar where J could watch the game (we were in Giants territory he explained) with plenty of locally produced wine and the best smelling sweet potato fries.

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And then we walked, and walked, and walked, up and down streets, hunting down gum alley, sampling chocolate and peeping in restaurants. “What looks good?,” we’d asked. And we eventually found ourselves back at Mo Tav, to sample their Kobe burgers and micro-brews. I tell, you, nothing like ordering drinks and food at 5pm, and then waltzing right back to the same place only a few hours later.

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On Sunday morning, the sun shining, I somehow convinced J to accompany me on my morning run, which ended up being a 7-mile, 2-hour walk instead. We walked through town, winding through the streets, and up to Cal Poly SLO and back. After quickly showering (we arrived back 10 minutes before check-out), our culinary tour not yet quite complete – some people go to the central coast for wine-tasting; we, however, seem to go for food-tasting- hit up Copper Cafe at Madonna Inn for an omelet, homemade biscuits, and steaming cups of coffee. I would have taken a picture, if I hadn't devoured my food. I salivated over freshly baked pies, and I nearly asked for a bite of my neighbor’s leftover strawberry waffles.

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And now, we are back: happy, a little more in love, and perhaps, a half dress size larger than before we left. Tomorrow we leave for Boston, where it promises to have steady rain the whole weekend. I will be bringing my raincoat and sweat-shirts, leaving my sunglasses and tank-tops at home, a simple reminder as to why I live in California.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The books I like to read

If you’re a dreamer, come in. If you’re a dreamer, a wisher, a liar. A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer… If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some fla-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!

Not to get all English major on you, but do you know that poem “Invitation” by Shel Silverstein? Don’t worry, there isn’t a particularly reason you should; it is the first poem in Silverstein’s collection of poems in Where the Sidewalk Ends, and the short verse is not a particularly spectacular poem or anything, but I’ve always loved how it is just so welcoming. “Come in! Come in!” to this new exciting world that I have written just for you. Often, when I’m beginning a new book, it pops into my head just like that. Lately, Daisy and I have been stretching out in our backyard every afternoon. We bring out our blanket, a stack of books, and measuring cups to play with (her very favorite toy). She crawls on the grass, splashes on her water table, plucks dandelions, and we read. Sometimes she sits next to me while I read a picture book, or most often I’ll read my latest novel out loud to her while she plays alongside of me. 

So, the reason for my long blog absence: I’ve been reading a ton. And, because I thrive on list making, I present to you a list of what I’ve been reading:

Rashi’s Daughters: Joheved by Maggie Anton. I know, I know, this is a really random read. I think part of the appeal of this novel is that I knew nothing about medieval France, and even less about Orthodox Judaism. The story is the first in a three-part series following the life of the three daughters of Salomon ben Issac, a.k.a. Rashi in 11th century Troyes, France. Joheved is the eldest, and the story follows her betrothal, first years of married life, pregnancy, along with her work as a vintner and Talmud & Biblical scholar: especially interesting as this historical fiction took place when most women were illiterate. It took me a bit to get into the story, mostly because I had no idea who Rashi was, and had never heard of the Talmud, but once I got through the first two or so chapters, I was absorbed.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD. I read the counterpart version of this book and watched the DVD for babies, and while we never seemed to have a problem with Daisy’s sleep schedule and she was constantly a very happy baby, the book gave me confidence more than anything. So, when a child at playgroup threw a temper tantrum I went out to get this book - pronto. I am very nervous about the so-called “terrible twos,” and wanted to be prepared. Overall, I liked the way Karp explains a toddler’s emotional state, and have already begun to implement several of his child-rearing philosophies, most specifically mirroring Daisy’s emotions. However, I cannot engage in “caveman speak” as recommended. I am an English teacher, after all.

Our Town by Thorton Wilder. My summer school classes will read and analyze and write essays on this play, so I thought I should get a head start.

The Mother of All Toddler Books by Ann Douglas. This is a library checkout, and is just alright. I really enjoyed the chapter on play & games. It has great suggestions for toys and games for toddlers, our favorite so far, using an empty strawberry basket for blowing bubbles.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Another library snag, I actually can’t believe we, a book collecting family, actually do not own one single copy of any of Hemingway’s novels. Actually I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never read any Hemingway before.  Truth be told, I’m just starting this short read, but am already impressed with the elegance of his writing style.

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. This is a read-aloud for Daisy (but, I am thoroughly enjoying it!) at first during either breakfast or lunch, but has moved on to other times of day as well. These are classic tales, and still old Pooh is as loveable as ever. Daisy usually laughs out loud at parts when I read (I’m pretty sure in response to the voices I use), and often times when I start to put it away, she signs for “more” which, at first I assumed she meant more food, but then I realized she means “more” reading. As this particular copy has limited pictures, she likes to have something to hold or quietly play with as I read (hence the eating).

And just so you don’t think my reading is all high-brow, I just returned from the library with Behind the Palace Walls: William & Harry by Katie Nicholl. What I really want to read is The Making of a Royal Romance as I am currently obsessed with all things Royal, and I’m convinced that Kate & I will soon be BFF’s, but our library system doesn’t own a copy of it.

What are you reading these days, anything I should add to my list?