September 14th, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m feeling too out of touch with you guys, and I can’t seem to find a good time to call or message anyone. I’m sorry about that. It seems our window of East-coast-evening-meets-that-beginning-of-Violet’s-nap-time is out of whack, especially with Violet’s refusing to nap a lot of days now, and making calls with her awake? Yeah, that’s just not working. So please know you’re on my mind, and I am eager to know what’s new in your lives. E-mail me if you get time, and I will keep trying to call you. Things may improve as we settle back into a schedule here with our fall activities and with staying HOME.

Summer was a bit of a blur. I haven’t even printed any photos from our trips, and I usually have those in albums and frames by now. Life is challenging with this phase in Vibble’s toddler career. She stages a protest about anything and everything. These protests range from sit-ins, to scream-ins, to running away and going missing in a department store for long enough to take several years off of the end of my life. I feel like I have eight kids, and their name is Violet. She is suddenly into princesses (or, as she calls them, “pinches”) in a scary huge way. The demands for us to set up looping “pinches” bits on Youtube have reached a frightening level of violence here. Enough that I got on yesterday and overnighted Snow White on DVD. It was THAT BAD. Here’s hoping it works. I certainly can’t watch anymore Mary Poppins (also a “pinches” around here), or you will be visiting me in a padded cell where I am rocking back and forth in the corner singing Chim-Chimeny to myself.

Violet continues to amaze us with her personality. She is incredibly secure and confident. She has the typical toddler magic-energy but is exceptionally physical and agile. She is an adventurer, a fearless explorer, a TOUGH little TOUGHIE. She’s been spending a lot of time with her friend Greta lately, and since she and Greta were born the same week, comparisons are fascinating. Greta is advanced in her speech and logic. Violet … not so much. Violet talks when Violet wants to talk. And when she doesn’t? It’s “Ef you, I’m busy climbing this bookshelf to perform some stunt whereby I dive to this chair and then to the TV to turn it back on.” Greta is sensitive, in a way that will be both her greatest asset and, I think, her biggest challenge in life. Violet, like I said, is a tough little toughie. A bubbling burn the size of a quarter on her elbow from the fireplace in the rental condo? Wah-wah for two minutes and it is never mentioned again. A fall out of a chair onto her head? Whatevs. My friend has goldfish crackers and I want some? Suck it, “Friend,” I’m taking these, and here’s a shove, too. (You can imagine the Violet-and-Greta relationship requires a lot of supervision. If you play Mario, we liken Greta to Luigi, and Violet to Wario.) If sensitivity will be Greta’s asset and challenge, this toughness will be Violet’s. Because who wants to be friends with Wario? Only someone as sweet as Greta. But, too, such a tough girl is unstoppable.

Incidentally, Greta’s initials are GBL, so, in line with our VBL=Vibble formula, we call her Gibble. Or, when they are together, the Two Ibbles. Violet’s other friends include Jude (a darling boy who keeps track of his pals like a shepherd), Emme (who has a lot of fire herself), Avery (Run, run, RUN!), Brienna (who gives Violet a run for her money in the ring), Chelan (a sweetheart), and Christopher, who hides keys and knows more sign-language than I know English. All of these kids have a lot of soul. No lie. We know some extremely special kids right now.

In addition to “pinches,” here are a few quick translations from the Vibble lexicon at present:
- “I want Beep-Beep” — This means she wants to watch Road Runner.
- “I want Hey Hey” — This means she wants to watch Fat Albert. (She loves Fat Albert.)
- “I want Momide” — This means she wants to watch Madeline.
- “I want Bib-Boo” — This means she wants to watch Cinderella.

Yeah, that’s what most of her requests are like. We have to keep a serious eye on how much screen-time she gets in each day. If she had her way, she would watch TV without eating or sleeping or playing or ever putting on pants. (Well, pants in general are unpopular.) But what she really needs is high-impact physical activity every day, or else she gets punchy. Too much brain-centric occupation stresses her out, and even art projects don’t absorb her focus for long—unless they too become physically focused (textures are awesome, and painting on paper is SO LAST SEASON, the paints really do look better on her face). She is a very tangibility-centered person; always wants to touch people (sorry, guy-in-front-of-us-on-the-bus!) and stop in the middle of the intersection to feel the texture of the road. This is either a quirk or serious OCD, but it makes for very sweet cuddle times, because she loves to caress an arm while she snuggles.

She just started gymnastics at a place that has a preschool associated with it, and the plan is, once she gets comfortable there after enough mommy-and-me gymnastics (many months down the road, mind you), we try some school. Since it’s a program with a very physical outlet attached to it, I think it might be just the right fit for our little wackadoo.

Sorry if I’m all over the map with this post. I’m jacked-up on migraine medicine and trying to type out as much as I can before the Pinches wakes up and starts making demands. What else do I need to fill you in on …

We had a really nice week in lovely Tahoe with Steve’s mother and Auggie. I took my leave for a few days to go to Burning Man, which was an escape into a world of fun and creativity for me. It was way too hard to be off the grid, though, without my little munchkin, so I cut it half a day short. Somehow it gets harder and harder to be apart from her, as it seems to get easier and easier for HER to be apart from ME. I am only more attached, as she is more and more independent. Who invented this ratio? How bad is it going to get? (Mom, I know you’ll have an answer for that—one that makes the Internet cry!) But Burning Man was wonderful, and I look forward to going back, perhaps for a longer stay sometime. And for those of you who know Burning Man, no, I didn’t do anything wildly out of character for me. It was fun enough to have a mug of wine and wear a cowgirl hat and prom dress while climbing a statue or riding my bike toward the lasers.

I haven’t been doing much writing, but I do feel creative. It turns out parenting is a pretty creative endeavor, and I am lucky to have made some VERY creative mom-friends here. Together with my friends from grad school, friends through Steve, and others, I feel surrounded by creative people these days, and it’s inspiring. You should see what I made out of Play-Do the other day!

Speaking of Stevel, he is doing really well on a lot of fronts. A bit overworked, but I’m so proud of his progress on his iPhone apps and with the software he works on at Sony, which is about to be used at a number of effects houses. This is a huge deal, and he, with his team, has bent over backwards and turned his brain inside-out to make it a reality. He’s truly a marvel of a man! And all of this while being the sweetest, most patient, most adoring dad—it’s clear Violet feels very safe with him, very loved … and completely in charge. “Dad, come on …” she says as she drags him to the fridge for a half-hour session of I-can’t-decide-what-I-want-from-this-fridge or insists he play “My-oh” (Mario) to entertain her (as long as he doesn’t start to die [bleep bleep bleep], in which case she—”Oh no! Oh no!”—gets a little freaked out).

I can’t think of anything else to report just now. It was a wonderful summer, and I loved connecting with friends and family and enjoyed the many adventures. And now I’m looking forward to a few months of ho-hum routine. Ahhh.

Oh, and P.S. If you haven’t seen “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” I finally got around to watching it, and it’s my new favorite movie. Hot box.

P.S.S. Some photos of all of this

For You, the Special Person

June 29th, 2008

Violet went to her first movie today, WALL-E, on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank. She slept through all but the last five minutes, which she watched with mild interest. It’s a great movie. Go see it soon, and then you’ll know what I mean when I say to you, “Directive.”

It’s been a week of firsts. Violet had her first taste of baby rice cereal, a mixture of ricey powder and milk. Her doctor had warned us she might find it “unfamiliar.” Indeed, with no expression on her face, she rejected it as a foreign substance. Day 2, same thing. We’ll see about day 3.

She continues to roll over onto her stomach and prop herself up on her elbows. She is usually quite pleased with this for about five minutes. Then she starts to fuss with increasing volume until she is flipped back over by a tall person. She also loves to be held up “standing,” although she’s quite a dreamer; her feet will have to be a lot less like little dinner rolls if she is ever going to use them for standing on. She also continues sucking on the same two fingers that Steve was known for sucking on when he was little. Every day she seems more and more like him in subtle and overt ways. (Her eyebrows and ears are really filling in.) The little Steveling.

Most characteristic of this stage with the kid are the sounds she makes. She takes great pleasure in the sensation of making noise with her mouth. There are many variations, but my favorite is, “Ooooooooh!” Overall, personality-wise, she is a baby who seems to enjoy just being alive most of the time. A smiley one.

My nose is still bleeding and crusting and bleeding again. Thank you all for your advice, I’ve tried a lot of it, and it’s helping. And yes, Cheri, I will stay away from the scary ER.

I’ll leave you with this lovely found poem from our restaurant menu today; may you learn from it and feel happy: The important thing …

Why I Love Tom Petty … and You Should, Too

February 1st, 2008

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year, from Stevel, was the DVD “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” the documentary of the career of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’m not exaggerating when I say watching this DVD brought me GREAT ROCK JOY. Not only is it extremely well put-together so as to be entertaining in that way that makes it hard for me not to tell you everything that happens in the story of this most talented and focused group, and not only is it a nice history of rock n’ roll itself, it’s also about TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS!

Now, I do love John Mellencamp, and I adore the great bands of my earlier youth—the Cars, the Bangles, Pretenders, Seger, come to mind, snob me if you must, Indie Lovers, but the radio-rock moved me, OK—as well as some of the great bands of now; it’s a good time for rock yet, with the White Stripes, Spoon, the Shins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and so many others. But no one—NO ONE—has had my fandom in the palm of his scrawny, Southern paw since SECOND GRADE like Tom Petty has.

It all started with Mrs. Bleyer, my second-grade teacher (she was old, so I’m going to assume a “God rest her soul” is due here, for the great woman she was). Mrs. Bleyer was a kind, wonderful woman. She had a cardboard refrigerator box in the back of the classroom with a door and windows cut into it. There was a desk inside. On your birthday, you got to sit in there all day.

On your birthday, you also got to pick something from the Treasure Chest. This was a large cardboard box in the shape of, well, a treasure chest. The aging Mrs. Bleyer had to lift it down carefully from above the coat rack to give you a view of the delights inside. In retrospect, these were likely things she got for free at McDonald’s or curbside on summer evenings after her neighbors’ garage sales had ended. But to a second-grader on her birthday (or, for a summer baby, his or her pseudo-birthday), it was the raddest collection ever. EVER.

September 27, 1982. From the treasures I selected: A folder. The kind you put your papers in. But this folder was cut in the shape of an LP coming out of its record-case. And on the record cover was a picture of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I don’t think it was one of the actual albums. Just a publicity thing? Don’t know, don’t care. LOVED IT. I doubt I had ever heard of these guys. I have no idea if I even heard them soon thereafter, or if years passed or what. All I know is, an entire chamber of my heart was forever thereafter devoted to these pale and lanky men holding guitars and looking so very, very rebellious.

I know the sexiness of Tom Petty is debated. Some call him snaggly, some call him dopey. To me, he is the epitome of sex appeal. And it all goes back to the Treasure Chest. Something was determined in a developmental part of my impressionable, little brain. It was fandom. I was digging my My Little Ponies. I was digging 3-2-1 Contact. And I was now destined to dig—DIG!—The Heartbreakers and their soulful leader.

Do yourself a favor and get ahold of this DVD. Borrow it from us if you are local, list it on your Netflix. I guarantee your enjoyment. And listen to some Petty today. Appreciate the awesomeness of that art form so often forgotten in our admiration-at-large of the finest arts of humanity: ROCK.

Tea and Brothers, How Can You Go Wrong?

October 2nd, 2007

I just watched a trailer for the upcoming movie “The Darjeeling Limited,” thanks to a link from Karen’s blog. Man, I can’t wait to see this movie. If you haven’t downloaded from iTunes the free short film “Hotel Chevalier,” I recommend it!

“But it is a peasant dish.”

June 17th, 2007

We saw a sneak preview last night of of “Ratatouille.” It was better than good. If you told me you could only see one movie, I’d be torn as to whether to send you to this or to “Knocked Up.” Both are excellent. “Ratatouille” is sweet and moving and clever and fun. Everything about it is cute beyond cute, and it’s dense with charming details. It looks great on the big-screen, and I think it’s worth seeing that way. The story is moving and smart. The entire audience clapped a number of times at various points; you couldn’t help it. I don’t know what else to say. Don’t miss it.

Another Favor

June 4th, 2007

Go see “Surf’s Up.” Lots of smiles, a sweet story with a unique twist on it (“mockumentary” style), and cool-looking waves and penguins! What could be better?!

Do Yourself this Favor

June 3rd, 2007

See the movie “Knocked Up.” It is really funny, and smart-funny, not stupid-funny. No one should miss out on it. The entire (sold-out) theater full of people was obviously loving it the entire time. Ignore what you know about the plot, because it will surprise you with its charm.