Monday, March 31, 2008

03.31.2008 -- A Call for Help

I am looking for some help. All I want to do is allow comments here. All of my settings say that comments are allowed.

When I go to bloggerhelp, I find that there seem to be a lot of issues with comments and original templates. I have yet to find a solution.

Anyone?

Here's a peek into the relevant code for this template (I think)


a.comment-link {
/* IE5.0/Win doesn't apply padding to inline elements,
so we hide these two declarations from it */
background/* */:/**/url("http://www.blogblog.com/dots_dark/icon_comment_$startSide.gif") no-repeat $startSide .25em;
padding-$startSide:15px;
}
html>body a.comment-link {
/* Respecified, for IE5/Mac's benefit */
background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/dots_dark/icon_comment_$startSide.gif") no-repeat $startSide .25em;
padding-$startSide:15px;
}

Saturday, March 29, 2008

03.29.2008 - What Keeps Me Up at Night

Sometimes, Lucy asks to take pictures together. Here is one of a couple hundred.


I can't sleep. You might be wondering why I am trying to sleep so early on a Saturday night. (Not nearly as early as the time stamp says, though.) Just tired, I guess. I had a moderately late night last night and got up sort of early to go to yoga.

Now I've decided to write down the things that have been occupying my thoughts as I lay here in bed.

1- Our bed linens need to be changed. They no longer smell good. Let me just say here that I don't think that it should have to come down to the smell test. I just noticed.

2-I feel lucky to have the example and influence of dedicated friends and family. Brian and I are approaching our tenth wedding anniversary. Our marriage isn't perfect; but it's darn good for us. We have gone through some hard spots and have emerged not only intact, but much, much stronger, and with a deeper appreciation for each other and for our relationship. This is something that my parents modeled (and Brian's too)--a dedication to marriage that doesn't end just because hard times come about.

I feel lucky to have such good friends. By that I mean that, not only am grateful that I have friends who are good people, but also that there is a consistency there, even if we don't talk to each other every day, or even every month.

3-I have gotten unexpectedly emotional watching movies lately. Two examples: "August Rush," and "Horton Hears a Who." On the plane home (er, to LA, technically) from Costa Rica, they played "August Rush," a sappy, predictable movie which I had wanted to see for a while. I found it disappointing because, from the start, the dialogue was cheesy and the storyline asked the audience for an enormous "suspension of disbelief"--the kind you notice again and again. I had been hoping for a better movie. Well, this didn't stop me from getting seriously emotional while watching (in the middle seat between my husband and a random man from the Eastern Block). Seriously--about two minutes into the movie, I was exercising my anti-weep and sob containment systems to the point of near failure. My tear restrictors were defective throughout the movie. In "August Rush," I think it was the desperation and hope in the characters that touched me. An orphaned boy who, against all odds, takes on the cruel world in search of his anguished, pure-hearted parents who have been longing for each other for years and years? It turns out that I have a very low crying threshold for movies about orphaned kids and their anguished, pure-hearted parents.

This afternoon, Lucy and I went to see "Horton Hears a Who," and I was caught completely off guard when, about three quarters of the way through the movie, I had to put considerable energy into hiding the fact that I was finding it deeply moving. If I had seen that movie at home, I would have had a box of Kleenex with me on the couch, letting. it. out. Somehow, I was ashamed at the thought that my mother-in-law would see my low threshold for cinematic (cartoon!) drama. In "Horton Hears a Who," I started getting weepy when the Who's in Whoville were trying to make themselves heard. I guess I have a weak spot for community spirit and the undertaking of the proverbial lost cause. All those Who's, singing together, finally believing in the giant elephant in the sky that held their world, a speck of dust, on a clover bloom, then the second rally where each Who finds an individual way to contribute to the effort, some playing gigantic tom-toms, some squeezing tubular accordians, and the silent, misunderstood, lonely son of the mayor disclosing his passion and hidden gifts for the good of his world? Stick a fork in me.

There you have it. Now you know some of what keeps me up at night.

Friday, March 28, 2008

03.28.2008 -- Had a Bad Day?

A picture of Lucy making sticker pictures (100% unassisted from getting the craft box out of the pantry to applying pink sparkly glue to the paper).


At one point yesterday, I said, "At least it might make an interesting blog entry."

I said this to my friend, Crystal, after trying to explain some of the events (madness) that led up to me greeting her at my home wearing a shirt smeared with multiple kid messes and urine-stained pants.

Crystal's latest blog entry was her 100th, and she decided to write on a theme of disclosing "what she's really like." (Modest, creative, talented, curious, genuine, generous, fun, interesting...these are a few words that come to mind when I think about what Crystal's really like.)

In the same spirit of transparency, I'm going to write about yesterday. It started off normally... Did yoga (a little late in the day, but who's counting), did some laundry, spent some time on-line. In retrospect, I probably should have spent less time on-line and more time cleaning house or something else productive. Ah, hindsight. You're a fickle friend.

At about 10 am, Shawn arrived with his dad. He took less time acclimatizing yesterday than he has in the past (this is mostly time spent getting comfortable with the idea of a big dog in the house). While he was playing with some of Lucy's toys, Lucy heard him and called out from her bedroom, "Hello! Hello! Shawn, hello!" I have said before that Lucy is not easy to wake up. This is true. But it is equally true that once she has had enough sleep, she is at 100% upon waking. Apparently, the first thing Lucy heard yesterday morning was Shawn and she was stoked that he was there.

She toddled in with bedhead, in her pajamas, and didn't even pause to say hello to me. Don't worry, my feelings weren't hurt.

A bit later, Nicole was dropped off from school (let the wild rumpus start). Actually, they did have a lot of fun, but they weren't all that destructive--to a normal degree, I would say--they had fun (made a mess) in most parts of the house. This, with the initial degree of disorder--again, not terrible, but enough--made for a house that was not company ready.

After lunch, I took the troupe to Costco. This kind of trip is never bad, but I do get a lot of practice with my negations.

"No."
"No, sweetheart."
"Not now, okay?"
"Not today."
"Maybe another day."
"Nope."
"Nah."
"Sure, where's your money? It costs ____ dollars."

After Costco and a couple of other errands, we got home. In my morning internet browsing, I came across this recipe on the web. Something about the author's challenging tone and amazement convinced me to try making these cornflake cookies asap. These are basically a bunch of sugar and fat, but what other kind of cookies are there? I try to mitigate the badness by putting as much organic stuff into them as I can.

Post-Costco and other errands: Armed with a new jar of peanut butter and a box of cornflakes, I boiled the cup of o. sugar and (evil) corn syrup together, mixed in the o. peanut butter, then poured the whole mess over the cornflakes.

I can't remember who I was talking to at the time, no wait--I was chatting with my brother, having a conversation I was dying to have, making cookies with both ears tuned to the noises of the kids playing downstairs. To make it more complicated, I got the wrong peanut butter at Costco--the stir-up kind that is virtually useless without first putting in the mixing time.

This wouldn't be worth mentioning if my schedule hadn't been getting tighter and tighter. I had to drop off the kids at 3:30 pm, clean-up the house, change clothes, monitor Lucy's bladder output, read up on my visiting teaching message and get to Michelle's house by 4:00 pm. I had also scheduled a meeting at home at 4:30 pm with Rebekah and Crystal to discuss Rebekah's upcoming wedding and the photography that Crystal and I would do for her at said event. I thought I could do it. Maybe I could have.

Word of advice, if you happen to find yourself trying to mix up a jar of peanut paste and peanut oil (to get peanut butter, of course), it's best to give it your full attention. I was chatting with my brother at the time, typing with clean fingers only, of course.

I got peanut oil on a lot of surfaces that I didn't intend to (nothing was compromised), but I had to hurry--no time to clean up, as I promised the kids a treat.

By the time I had the cornflake/peanut syrup mixture in balls, the kids were upstairs to observe. With their supervision, I melted some chocolate chips and dumped (instead of drizzled) it over the cornflake balls. I would have liked to have been able to take my time with this to make the presentation better. I love to let kids help cook too; It's fun for them and me... Unfortunately, if we were going to get to Shawn and Nicole's house on time, it wasn't going to happen.

Against all odds, we were in the car and at Nicole and Shawn's house on time. (Of course, I had forgotten to bring Nicole's backpack, Shawn's change of clothes, and Shawn's special blanket--but we were there!)

We transferred the poorly-wrapped dozen of cornflake balls along with Nicole's birthday present (a flat of violets that she liked at the store) to the front porch, and waited. ..Waited... and waited. The idea was that a girl from the neighborhood was supposed to meet us and take over, leaving me free to go home and clean up, change, and take care of Lucy before 4:00.

She was late. (To be clear, I was in no way upset with her--these things just happen.) I got the kids back in the car and we set off in the direction of her house. I figured that something had happened and that if we didn't find her on the way, I would take the kids home with me and we'd make it work. No sooner were we in the car than we saw her walking toward us at the end of the street. I saved maybe 2 minutes by driving down the block to give her a ride.

After dropping the kids off, Lucy and I got back to our house about 20 minutes later than I wanted to be. She was hungry, asking for a cookie (cornflake ball) and so I set her up at the bar with a (very messy) cookie and started cleaning up the mess I had made earlier. I was very nearly frantic, with nearly all of my attention and energy going toward cleaning up quickly...until I heard Lucy.

(Phrases like "I'm going pee" somehow penetrate any amount of preoccupation when you're the parent of a toddler.)

"I'm going pee. I'm going pee, Mom!" Lucy was doing her best to get herself to the bathroom and her best involved engaging her mother to quickly transport her to the potty. Despite my lightning quick reflexes (yeah, yeah--I'm poking fun at myself), we left a trail.

This, I had no time for. For good or ill, my pants and shoes soaked up a little of what would have ended up on the floor. I left Lucy on the potty while I crawled around the floor with my Method All-Purpose Cucumber-Melon cleaner, wiping up pee. I was very aware of the fact that I was already about 3 minutes late for my 4 o'clock appointment. This meant that I had to skip house cleaning, skip changing, skip reading and just go.

Once Lucy was finished, we got her dressed and into the car. On the way, I called Rebekah to try to reschedule for 5 or later. Again, not something I would recommend to anyone--using a 2 minute window to reschedule. This leaves little time for misunderstandings and no time for social niceties.

To make it worse, the cell-phone connection between me and Rebekah varied between poor to bad. I couldn't hear her. I didn't have time to hear her. It was the worst kind of conversation possible. There I was, arrived 10 minutes late for a 4:00 pm appointment. I felt like an all-purpose dolt--embarrassingly late for one appointment, smelling like pee and with a noticeably dirty shirt, trying to have a 10 minute conversation in thirty seconds (short shrift to everyone).

Rebekah mentioned Crystal, and asked if I had called her. I told her that I hadn't and when Rebekah said she would call Crystal, I was relieved. I hung up the phone and went inside, unprepared.

While I should have been listening and talking with Evelyn and Michelle, I was flipping quite noticeable through my magazine, trying to find something worth mentioning. Honestly, that magazine was FILLED with great material. I should have realized this earlier and just settled on the first thing I saw. Instead, I wasted about 5 minutes flipping and being rude (again). During the visit, my cell phone rang (embarassing), and I didn't answer it, even though it was Rebekah. I was trying to minimize the distraction that I contributed to the conversation.

Despite my general disorder (adjective, not noun), I enjoyed the time I spent with Michelle and Evelyn. It helped knowing that I would have at least a half and hour to collect myself before Crystal and Rebekah showed up at my house.

On the way home, I called Rebekah. This conversation was difficult, too. I couldn't hear her and was concentrating poorly--thinking more about cleaning up myself and my house. What I failed to grasp was that Rebekah needed me to concentrate and hear her. I realize now that I probably understood about a third of what Rebekah was trying to tell me. I knew it then, too--I know because I felt like a jerk again. This much, I understood: that she wasn't able to get a hold of Crystal, that she wanted to celebrate her mom's birthday that night, that she was busy and that she and her fiance, Jono, had discussed letting him take over more of the wedding planning to give her a break. Again, I probably missed a lot. The way I was thinking, though, was that if we could just get together, it didn't matter when, then we could make sure we understood each other.

I was relieved to be off the phone with Rebekah because I was having such a hard time hearing her and paying attention.

When I did get off the phone, I tried to call Crystal and she didn't answer. As I tried to figure out how to contact Crystal, I saw her pull up with her boys. Right on time.

At that point, I let go. I realized that in a certain light, my afternoon was actually pretty funny. I decided that I didn't have to clean my house, and that I was relieved to have suddenly been relieved of my half-hour of frantic cleaning. Talking with Crystal and enjoying her and her boys' company sounded much better.

I explained a little about the situation, invited her in, and had a great night. Rebekah had to work late, so Crystal and I got to meet Jono. It was a productive meeting, and the fact that my house was messy proved to be a non-issue (thank heaven for the study)!

I never really got around to cleaning up yesterday. After Jono left, Crystal, Jack and I hung out for a while. Lucy and Ben play well together and always have fun. While Crystal and I were downstairs, Judy (my fabulous mother-in-law) and Suzanne (fabulous sister-in-law) dropped in to bring over some luggage (we loaned these to nieces Mariah and Nicole for out of town volleyball tournaments), say hello, and to get started on Lucy's flower girl dress for Rob and Sarah's wedding.

I admit, when I heard Judy calling from upstairs, I momentarily panicked about the state of the house. That was before I remembered that I had decided to let it go.

While Lucy and I looked at the material for Lucy's dress (white dupioni silk) and considered the pattern, Crystal cleaned up some. I tried to tell her not to worry about it, but she did it anyway.

Judy and Suzanne stuck around to taste some Haagendaas Carmelized Pear Pecan ice cream that Brian bought for Judy (pear being a favorite fruit of hers), and Crystal left with the boys.

Brian got home. We fed Lucy cookies and ice cream (please don't report us) for appetizers. Brian wanted to go out to dinner (this may have been related to the fact that I had yet to consider dinner), and this is how I successfully avoided cleaning my house.



Fortunately for my mental health, I got it cleaned up this morning.

03.28.2008 -- Look at me, being a good mom!

Another picture from the Easter egg hunt. Here Aunt Elizabeth saves the day, buying adult egg-hiders more time, by singing "Little Bunny Foo-Foo" with the cousins.

***


The first thing Brian said to me this morning was, "Look at you, being a good mom." He might have an inkling about how this kind of comment tends to effect me, but in case he doesn't, let me be explicit: I LOVE IT.

This kind of off-hand comment can give me fuel for an entire day--if not more.

I am often tempted to post other things he says to me that I love (as inspiration for other husbands), but somehow they're not all quite appropriate to be cast upon the internet wind. (Heh.) ...Especially considering that my husband is naturally a much more private person than I am.

I woke up this morning when Brian did, to let the dog out. I'm not sure how much time passed between then and the alarm, but it seemed like mere minutes. I have been trying to keep up my early-rising habit even when I know Rachel can't make it. She has been experiencing insane-work-crisis-schedule lately, so it's testing me... Anyway, I thought I could get up and at least take myself and Zoe for a walk which could turn into a run. Then I realized that, as much as Lucy and Zoe love to be outside, my time would be better spend in just getting the house together. Then, later in the day, we could all go out together.

This was easier to figure out with a recent walk/run under our belts. Wednesday, Brian was going for a run with Zoe and Lucy and I just went along (at our own pace--because jogging with a stroller is much different than with no stroller for me). It was great. I wish I had kept better track of how far Lucy walked. Well over a mile, I think. She's the one who wanted to. I just kept pace with her.

While we were walking, Lucy noticed a step leading to someone's house. She climbed up and said, "Mom, watch me!" As I watched, she executed a perfect hop down to the sidewalk with both feet. Her cousin, David, who is about a month older than she is, has been leaping from tall buildings for a long time, but this is the first time that I ever saw Lucy hop down by herself. I was so proud of her!

Lucy came home from the walk with exactly two sticks (twigs), one black and white rock, two "pink" lava rocks, and one intact acorn. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I think Lucy did, too.


***


Time for me to go back to being a good mom!
My house is almost in order
and Lucy's still asleep.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Glorious Papaya


I was leafing through a little reference book I have called "The Healthy Food Directory," and came across the entry on Papayas. Because I may have cast this magnificent fruit in a poor light, I am revisiting the subject armed with more information.

FYI

Facts about papayas:
Originally from Southern Mexico and Costa Rica, introduced to Manila in the sixteenth century--now grown throughout the tropics. Most of this papaya fruit is grown in Hawaii.
The humble papaya tree, also caled the melon tree or PawPaw, produces vitamin rich fruit throughout the year. Papaya seeds add spice to pickles, vinegars and oils. Papaya seeds are also a traditional remedy for worms!

Some reasons to eat papaya
, even if it's not your favorite (and I am betting that it's not):
Good for your skin
Good immune system support
Great aid to digestion due to papain.
Average papaya provides twice the minimum daily requirement of vitamin C and more than 25% of the requirement for vitamin A.

03.26.2008 -- Because I Can

Lucy requested a picture of us together for today.


I am posting today because I can. Besides, if I wait until I really, really want to, I probably won't have time.

We had a good Easter weekend. It started early at the end of last week, as far as Lucy was concerned--she had lots going on Thursday and Friday with friends over to play. Saturday was close to ideal for me, starting out with a good yoga session in Corena's class, followed by a walk with Lucy, Rachel and Zoey. The only thing that didn't go well was my timing between 11 and 1 pm. I was supposed to be in Kaysville at noon and made it only before 1 pm. Boo.

In Kaysville, we had lunch, participated in an Easter egg hunt (see photos in previous post), and colored eggs. Lots of fun. Lucy was in heaven.



With this sequence of stimulating days, I feel like I should have predicted that Lucy would have a meltdown Sunday right before church. (The only upside to weekend meltdowns is that it gives Brian some perspective. Otherwise, he would have to imagine what it's like to manage a throughly inconsolable two-year-old.)

I think the event started off with a lack of rest (indicated by a midmorning nap in my arms), was added to by waking the dragon (Lucy is hard to wake up), and topped off with conflicting ideas about what to wear. Lucy decided that she didn't want to wear either of the dresses that I picked out for her, but we had to hurry. I picked one and helped her into it against her will. This is not fun.

Lucy finally calmed down about 4 hours later. Wait...it just seemed like 4 hours. In reality, it took her about 40 minutes to accept her plight.

She got to remove the offending dress after she got home from church, but wanted it back once she saw that her cousins were wearing their dresses at Grandma's.

Oh, the drama.



Something yummy and pretty: Mix raspberry and pineapple sherbet with various berries, freeze and serve. I hadn't ever tasted this dessert before Sunday. I liked it a lot.


Monday night, we had Lucy's other cousins over for dinner. Wow. Can I just say that I passed something on to Lucy in the form of unabated enthusiasm when in the presence of people she loves? She was overflowing with energy Monday night, and I blame it on Monica, Eric, and their boys. I'll download pictures from that night tomorrow, maybe.

Right now I've got to close out by recounting Lucy's most recent prayer:

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for noodles.
Bless the noodles.
Thank you for Nanny.
Thank you for my fish.
Thank you for food.
Thank you for strollers.
Thaaaank you for food.
Amen

Thursday, March 20, 2008

03.20.2008 -- Climbing up the ABC




Yesterday, Lucy climbed up the ABC at the park without any help. I was standing 10 yards away. Before today, I have always been right beside her at the park.

I admit, I made some advance decisions that may have precipitated this event. I brought Zoe to the park an a leash. This, of course, meant that I had to keep track of Zoey--that I couldn't be on the big toy with Lucy. I also let Lucy bring a doll in a stroller. Who, you may ask will tend the baby? I explained to Lucy that I had to take care of her baby and Zoe and that I would be watching her the whole time. She accepted this pretty quickly and went into the fray alone.

A thought about parks: A friend and I arranged a lunch date recently at a park where our kids could play. I suggested one park and my friend explained that because it was such a busy park, we could go to a different one. I'm not sure why, but I much prefer busy parks over parks where there may be just a few kids around. I like the energy, I guess.

It took Lucy a while yesterday to move from watching people to actually playing herself. ...Made me think about how I sometimes hang back to observe. And then, of course, there's her daddy. I remember the first time I saw him at a house party in college. He was doing his best to either pass as a hat rack or blend into the wall.

So there I was, watching my two-and-a-half-year-old climbing up the ABC slide, and I was a little sad that she is growing up so fast. I was also very proud of her.

Once she started moving and not just watching, Lucy was running and sliding, shouting silly sounds and making friends. (Shouting silly sounds and making friends closely linked.) She would come back every once in a while to check on the baby that she brought with her in her little pink princess stroller (thanks, Aunt Rebecca!).

I forget how drawn kids are to dogs, even though Zoe and I are approached by dozens of kids any time I take her with us to the park. Yesterday was no exception. Zoe is such a good sport, very calm, wagging her tail, only putting her nose to a few faces. She was restless after a couple of hours on leash, though, so I let her off to do a few tricks for the kids. They think she is amazing when she jumps for sticks. They love to see her "steamroller". The steamroller is a trick where Zoe rolls over 3-4 times in succession. We had a little crowd gathered.

I was just trying to keep Zoe busy and engaged so she didn't get into trouble.

Lucy was sitting with the rest of the kids, having a good time. She and another little girl were holding hands and she was holding a cute little stuffed animal, a white puppy. Another little girl, somewhat older, caught my attention and asked me if she could give Lucy her stuffed puppy. She explained that Lucy "really liked it and wanted it and that she got rid of most of her stuffed animals and got the puppy at her friend's house just barely and that since she was getting rid of all of her stuffed animals anyway, she might as well let her have it."

I told her that that was very nice of her and that she didn't have to...but that if she wanted Lucy to have it, she could give it to her.

The little girl then got a slightly pained look on her face and explained that she wanted to give it to Lucy. I'm betting that that little girl has been very attached to stuffed animals and is trying to let them go.

This is how Lucy gained another stuffed animal. It's cute. Very soft and fuzzy.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, I want to encourage any child to share, especially if they want to. On the other hand, I worry that Lucy will feel entitled to other people's things.

How much longer will she listen to me? How much more time do I have to teach her? Thinking about it, I guess that's the wrong idea. She might listen to me a lot or a little, but she will pay much more attention to the way I act. Sometimes I have to remind myself.

Last night at the table, Lucy and Brian were having cookies and milk. I may or may not be a little over-concerned about her junkfood intake. Anyhow, I expressed this to Brian briefly. He asked me if it was a problem that Lucy was having cookies. I asked him if HE thought it was a problem.

Lucy then asked me )with her head tilted to the side the way she does when she is inquiring), very seriously and with a high degree of expression, "Is that a problem, Mom? Is it?"

I didn't laugh, but I wanted to.
Brian couldn't help himself.

She's fantastic, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

03.18.2008 -- Go Fish


I brought home some goldfish last night... See Lucy's reaction below.





I figured that if I got just plain goldfish, we could enjoy them for a while then add them to Grandma Judy's pond later. We owe her fish anyway, although she would never in a million years say that or feel that way, probably. You may wonder why I would say we owe her fish.

Zoe eats them.

She is fish hunter extraordinaire. This ends up being convenient because it occupies her 90% of the time when we go to visit (it it's warm enough). The downside is that she really does catch the goldfish once in a while. (Sorry, Grandma!)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

03.16.2008 -- Home, home! Safe at Last!

The deck of the rental house looking down on Playa Negra. Some people call it the best surf break in Costa Rica.


We got home last night from a week away. It was unbelievably good to see Lucy and Zoe. Brian has been doing most of the putting away so far (Lucy wants to play with shells, wants to read books, etc.). We'll got things back to normal soon.

In the meantime, if I don't put something down now about the trip, it may never get done.


***


So... We were in Costa Rica last week. Our last day there, I spent time on the beach alone because I wanted to buy some jewelry for some people and needed to get some altered. I also wanted to avoid going into Tamarindo. (Tamarindo, to me, was a small town under construction--on it's way to high rises. You get traffic with muddy roads and sweltering heat.)

Anyway, while I was there, at Playa Avellanas, I met a local...and well, let's just say that we got a picture taken together on the beach.

When my husband saw it, he said, "Nice picture. Who is this Costa Rican pig, Val?"

I explained that it was me who approached this "pig" and that I just wanted a picture to remember the afternoon.


Below is the photo.


Me and Lola the pig



We were in the Guanacaste province...on a peninsula--the driest area in all of Costa Rica. Despite this, and despite it being the dry season, it rained twice while we were there. From what we were told, this NEVER happens. We liked it. I think that all in all, the weather was the best we could have hoped for, it was relatively cool a lot of the time we were there.



The whole point of this trip was to surf. All of us like to surf and all of us love the idea of really being able to surf (ie. dropping in, carving, etc.), but most of us are from Utah. That makes learning how to surf a little more difficult. There was no lack of enthusiasm, though. We decided that it would be a good idea to take a break and go inland to the Monteverde Cloud Forest to take "The Original" zip-line tour of the canopy. The best part of that outing for me was the drive. We got to see a lot more of Costa Rica. It's beautiful.




Here we are with our zip-line gear, posing on a ficus tree. Our guide told us that another name for the tree is the "strangulating" Fig tree. He explained that when seeds from the ficus fig fruit are deposited by relieved monkeys in the boughs of a tree, the seeds sprout and send down viney-looking runners to the forest floor. Eventually, the other tree dies and the hollow ficus is left. They are very cool trees. One nice thing about this zip line company is that all of the platforms and lines are attached to the trees by ropes. The trees are protected by padding and they don't drill any holes into the supporting trees. This only makes sense, as you would certainly want to preserve the integrity of any tree that is routinely holding 10 or more people...but it was still nice to see.

Speaking of fruit: yum. Fresh pineapple and mangoes! We also got some bananas and papayas, but the consensus was that no one really loved the taste of papaya alone. This led us to pose the question, "Is there anyone in the world whose favorite fruit is papaya?" Reason would point to yes, as an answer, but our group still had trouble really believing this. If anyone reading this knows anyone whose FAVORITE fruit is papaya, please contact me (valerie.tayler@gmail.com) in the name of science and curiosity.

Another thing we learned when we took this tour was the sound that a howler monkey (monocongo) makes. It's a very odd sound that you could compare to a deranged angry dog.


Monocongo at Playa Avellanas

Speaking of dogs: There were wild dogs all over in the area where we were. These were some chilled out dogs--and extremely well socialized. It made me a little frustrated with the situation with dogs here where we live. I think that most people expect all dogs to be on leash or contained in some way. This makes it so when a dog IS loose, people with this expectation may get afraid or even angry. What I wonder is why we don't have higher expectations for dog owners in not just containing dogs, but in socializing them as well. Of course, there will always be the risk of one losing it and harming someone.

Like so many lone gunmen who have gone on shooting sprees of late.

Back to Costa Rican dogs, though. They really are all over the place. On the beach hunting crabs, hanging out by soccer fields. I never met one of these dogs that I didn't like.

We had some good meals in Costa Rica. Some of the best food, we found at a little three-table place in a nearby village which was about a ten minute walk away. The place was owned and run by a young American/South American couple, Miguel and Kimberly. Miguel had gone to culinary school and knew his stuff. Kimberly was very good at chatting with locals and tourists... She had some good stories to tell. There was a wild horse milling about by the restaurant and this reminded Kimberly how she and Miguel had been kept awake all night by three wild horses that ran around and around their house all night long. Apparently, they woke up to the leavings of these horses distributed liberally around the house.

One night (Thursday past, I think), our friends Rob, Sarah and Phil were walking back to the rental house after a really delicious meal by Miguel and Kimberly involving Tuna tartar, Marlin, Mahi Mahi and Passionfruit pie. While we were at the restaurant, under a pitched roof of corrugated metal, watching skateboarding movies from the seventies on a plasma t.v. attached to the wall, it rained. This is when we learned that it NEVER rains in March. It was raining hard, but by the time we had finished our really *choose-your-own- superlative* food, it had stopped. This is why Phil and Sarah and Rob could walk back.

Now picture this:

You are walking late at night on dirt roads in unfamiliar territory. Not only is this not your home town, it is not even your home country. You have seen all kinds of wild animals on the loose in the several days you have been here, and know that you are also walking past people's homes, although is is not light enough to see well whose homes they may be.

All of a sudden, you hear a mad dog. It is close. It is very, very angry.

You and your friends decide to arm yourselves. You pick up rocks and sticks. You have only the light of the moon to illuminate the uneven, rocky road and the crazy dog that is terrifyingly close. You can't see jack squat. .

..Well, actually you can see, a little.

A light far behind you is making it possible to see your shadow and the shadows of your friends. Crouched. Trembling. Two of you clutching rocks and one weilding a long, twiggy branch.

You evaluate the shadows and notice of a sudden that this is utterly,
overwhelmingly....

...funny.

You have just had your fear tolerance tested by a howler monkey.

If you didn't follow this monocongo link before, follow it now. It will put Phil, Sarah and Rob's story into perspective.

We heard this story from Phil after he came back to the house. (Rob and Sarah stayed in the room that the eight of us got at the Playa Negra Hotel. The house sleeps only six and we had a group of eight. The hotel is on the way to the house we rented. This left poor Phil to navigate the dark, monocongo infested night alone.)

We heard Phil before we saw him. When he got to the bottom of the long flight of stairs that leads into the house, he called out, "Home, home! Safe at last."

I just want to point out that "Home, home! Safe at last!" as a title comes from Phil and that, unlike Sarah, Phil or Rob, who got yelled at by the monocongo, I never felt like I was in any danger in Costa Rica.



It's interesting how drastically your perspective can change in only a week. When we first arrived at the Liberia airport, the terminals seemed (in a friend's words) almost "pathetic", they lacked proper walls, let in the dust and hot, muggy air and were so insubstantial as to lack proper gates to get passengers to the planes. By the time we left, they seemed logical, if not ingenious, to me--being open-air and cooled by gigantic fans...

The picture below was taken as we were waiting to board the flight home to L.A.

Brian loves to make silly faces when I point the camera at him. I took this picture and it instantly reminded me of Zoolander.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

03.01.2008 -- Thanks a Block!


A few days ago, this shelving unit arrived with a whole bunch of blocks. A present from Grandma and Grandpa Putnam! Lucy climbed right inside. And eventually sat still for a picture, although I needed the flash so it wasn't blurry (like the other photo I have posted).




We think they're great! Thanks, Mom and Dad!



03.01.2008 -- Alright, Mr. De Mille. I'm ready...

3.1.a.2008 New Wave for Numerically Challenged

Notice anything new about this post? I broke up my chain of titles. Previous to this, I thought it would look very nice to have each post in the same format. The problem with this is that I frequently come up with good titles for my posts that have no glory when they're just in the body of the post.

I also realized that I actually will go back and re-read some posts on other blogs, but only when I can identify them by their title. My mind just does not associate naturally with numbers, and it's hard to force friendship, you know--I have never remembered a post just by the date. Wait. Retraction! Dates like 2.14.2008 or 12.24.2007 would retain some significance in my numerically challenged, digitally deficient thought process.

Note: I thought I was being kind of original when I came up with "numerically challenged." To satisfy my curiosity, I did a Google search for that phrase. There were only about 329,000 hits.

3.1.2008

Insanely hard, but not insane.


I feel like I'm way behind in blogging.
I AM way behind in blogging.

I missed the post I intended to do about the blocks that Lucy's grandparents sent (thanks, Mom and Dad-they're great!)...

I missed a lot of other posts that I had half planned-out in my head, but after trying to enumerate them, I decided to let them become water under the bridge.

"Onward and upward." I think I got that one from my dad.
***



So, yes. In case you were wondering, there is now a great collection of blocks at our house--complete with a lovely shelf. Lucy really likes them. Her daddy made her a staircase and it is now a frequent request on her build list. I have decided, however, that I would let the stairs be daddy thing, not a mommy thing.

This morning started out great. I woke up with no alarm clock assistance to a fantastic view of pink clouds and sunshine. For some reason, waking up to pink clouds and sunshine makes me happy and predisposes me to feel energetic. I threw caution to the wind last night and didn't set the alarm at all, so there was the possibility that I could have slept through Corena's yoga class. I was happy to see that I had plenty of time to get to the class, and even happier to find that Brian was planning to go paddling instead of skiing. This was significant to me for only one reason -- departure time. Brian was home with Lucy while I went to yoga with Rachel. He even made it to the park with her!

Any fathers who may happen across this page, take note. Mommies love it when you take the kid(s) out. Ummn. That sounded like I was talking about taking the dog for a walk. Maybe it can be said better like this: It "warms my heart" when my husband takes the initiative to go do something special with Lucy. It's that whole good daddy thing...it's evolutionarily sound to have a strong response to that kind of good behavior. ;)

So, after a good yoga class in which I literally poured out 2+ pounds of sweat, I came home to an empty house, knowing that Brian and Lucy were out swinging in the day's daily allotment of sun. As I type this now, I look out the window and we are in the midst of a full blown snowstorm.

I love storms.


On the way home from yoga, Rachel and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Rachel: I want to get some new yoga clothes.

Me: Have you tried TJ Maxx or Ross?

Rachel: Yeah, that's where I got these. *Rachel gestures to her pants.* You can see how well they've held up.

Me: Hmm. *thoughtful pause* I would like to get pants that don't show my sweat so much.

Rachel: Why? I'm sure no one notices that you look like you wet your pants.

When I got home, I did a little looking online for new pants. I found these at Prana that are supposed to have "great moisture management." I have never bought any yoga pants that were this expensive before, so I'm a little hesitant to predict that it will ever happen... We'll see. I really like my long black cotton pants because they DO absorb sweat well. They're just faded. When I'm doing uttanasana (standing up and bending over), I find it convenient to wipe my face off on my pants. That doesn't work as well with some fabrics.

While I looked for a link for uttanasana, I just found a new link that may prove to be very fruitful: Lucy is having a sale on activewear!

The description of these pants say that they "wick moisture and dry quickly."

So many yoga pants, so little time.