Sunday, November 1, 2009

Whirlwind Romance


It could be the sugar. I hope it's the sugar. Because Zeke did consume an astounding amount of sugar today. Normally of course we don't let him, but it's the day after Halloween, so we decided to roll with it and let him eat all he wanted...for just this one day. You'd think we would have learned our lesson after the Easter debacle, but no—we did not. So he freely gulped Tootsie Pops, 3-Musketeers bars, Smarties, and M&Ms all morning. And for the most part we didn't see any side effects. But then in the early afternoon I was unpacking a box from the bottomless garage, when I ran across a giant stuffed fish that someone gave me in college (I think—I honestly have no idea how I acquired the fish, but feel like college is the most likely scenario based on the other items in the box).

Zeke immediately spied the fish and asked if he could have it.

“Sure,” I told him.

So I went back to unpacking and Zeke spent some quality time with the fish. He took it for a ride on his trike. Ate lunch with it. Bounced on the couch with it (yes, we allow that). And bounced on the bed with it (we allow that too). It was much like the turtle courtship of a couple weeks ago, but somehow more intense. And by the time I went to put him in bed for his nap, he proclaimed that Fishy was his “favorite friend ever—even better than Catty.”

“Better than Catty?!” I asked, astonished (since Catty has been his best bed buddy since he was born).

“Yes, better than Catty.”

He then went on to clarify by explaining that “Catty's heart only goes to here” (arm extended as high as he could reach), “but Fishy's heart goes all the way to outer space.” (If you've ever read “I Love You This Much,” you know the significance of how high someone's heart goes.) This was different from the whole turtle thing because the turtle was a play friend, but there was never any discussion of him unseating Catty as the king of the stuffed animals.

I was stunned. In the space of three or four hours Zeke and the fish went from being total strangers to a committed and seemingly exclusive relationship. Now that is a whirlwind affair if ever there was one. Even pop stars have the decency to let a new romance percolate for five or six weeks before dumping their previous flame and running away to Vegas, but not Zeke.

And the weird thing is that this fish is not appealing in any way whatsoever. It is not cute. It is not soft. There is no fur. It is just a fabric fish. A bass to be specific. It's appeal is entirely inexplicable. Unless it's all just part of the massive Halloween sugar high. Maybe he comes back down to earth tomorrow and re-installs the cat as his one-and-only (assuming that the cat is willing to overlook the dalliance with the fish). I hope so. I'm rooting for the cat. Something about the whole fish thing feels a little rushed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Now We're Just Tacky

Last year we were the lame people who couldn't carve pumpkins properly...or more accurately, didn't carve our pumpkins at all, but instead put them on our porch entirely uncarved, where the squirrels promptly went to town on them and brought holiday shame upon our family (for details see last year's Halloween entry).

This year, in an effort to avoid holiday shame, we just gave in and bought plastic pumpkins. I know they're kinda tacky. I feel like I'm betraying Martha Stewart in some way...even though I never made any kind of specific commitment to upholding her level of tasteful, labor-intensive handmade decor. But you know what? Plastic pumpkins are squirrel-proof and I kinda like 'em. Furthermore, Zeke likes them a lot, and I figure that if I use them for the next 15 years I am going to accrue a lot of savings in deferred real pumpkin purchases. "No Zeke, no need to go to the pumpkin patch! Let's go dig the box of fake pumpkins out of the garage--it'll be fun!" I'm going to have to make a game out of it if he's going to buy in, but I think he will. He was at Grandma's house last weekend, and when she plunged his hand into the pumpkin guts so he could pull them out as part of his very first pumpkin carving attempt, he puked. Didn't just gag or make a face, but actually vomited on the floor. Shanti thinks this is amazing, but I think it makes sense. Pumpkin guts are uniquely slimy and disgusting. I've never puked when touching them, but I've certainly felt like it.

In other Halloween news, we found out that the people on our street don't subscribe to the standard wait-at-your-door-for-the-kids-to-arrive candy distribution system. No, these folks actually set up long tables at the bottom of the street on Halloween, line up all their bowls of candy on the tables, then kick back with pizza and wine behind the tables while the kids come by and retrieve their loot from the candy buffet. The people who live at the house in front of the buffet buy the pizza and wine. The other neighbors just bring side dishes. I'm pretty sure this goes in the "plus" column of any evaluation of life in our new neighborhood.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Truth Hurts: Round 2 (or 3 or 4...I don't remember)

Last night I was racing back and forth between the kitchen and our bathroom, trying to get ready for dinner out with friends and serve Zeke his dinner at the same time.

It seemed to be going well, but just as I was dashing out of the kitchen for the tenth time to finish my hair, Zeke stopped me. “Mommy, that isn’t good,” he said in his most solemn voice.

I had just served him a very recently-frozen tamale, so I assumed that’s what he was referring to.

“Honey, you love tamales. You eat them all the time. Is it too cold? Too spicy?”

“No Mommy, it’s your shirt. It’s not good. You should pick a different one.”

I looked down at what I was wearing. A ten-year-old triathlon shirt and gym shorts. Fair enough, not appropriate for an evening out. Probably not appropriate for an evening in either. However, in my defense, these were not the clothing items I was planning to wear to dinner. They were just prep gear so that the REAL outfit would not be covered with dog fur and wayward tamale sauce before I even managed to get a foot out the door. Odd that he didn’t mention the shorts though…

“The shorts are OK?” I asked, just to clarify.

“No. They’re not nice either. You need to wear better clothes when you go to dinner.”

So there you have it. I now have a live-in fashion advisor. I never dreamed I could afford such an extravagance, but this particular purveyor of the trade works for Cheerios, grapes, and yes—tamales, so I’m going to keep him on the payroll. Plus, he is unflinchingly honest, and so far at least, accurate in his assessments. This is good news for those of you that go places with me. Although it was not my plan to wear a t-shirt and shorts last night, in the past there has always been a pretty solid chance that I would show up for an event wearing something significantly more casual than I should. Now that I have to pass preschooler inspection though, maybe you’re a little safer than you were before (safe from my bad clothing decisions). Maybe.

Or maybe I’ll just start putting Zeke to bed earlier.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Karate Kid!



I don't know if there is anything anywhere that is cuter than little kids in karate uniforms. And Zeke Amagasu in a karate uniform is downright ridiculous. Cuter than the law should allow.

He was in a karate uniform on this particular evening because tonight was his very first karate lesson. Ever. He may do this for ten or twenty years and earn all kinds of fancy and important belt designations over that time period, but he will always be able to look back and know that today was the day his martial arts journey began. I hope that's the case anyway. Of course he might hate it and quit next year, but I don't think he will if tonight's results are any sort of indicator. Zeke is a follower, and karate is all about following. You do what the sensei says and do it as accurately as possible. For some kids this is a very difficult undertaking. Not for Zeke though. He knows he'll be praised if he does something correctly, and he's naturally competitive in this kind of environment. I can't explain why, but so far he seems to prefer individual sports that you learn about in group settings much more than team sports that you participate in together. When we took him to soccer classes in Spring he'd play for a few minutes, then look at us with sad eyes the rest of the time and whine about wanting to leave. But swimming classes in early summer were entirely different. He loved them. He paid attention, was totally engaged, and was doing everything he could to outshine his fellow classmates. Same with karate. At least tonight anyway. He did exactly what the teacher asked and seemed to have a great time doing it. Check out the video. He's definitely smiling as he punches his little fist out and yells “Aayy!” I hope that doing it and learning to do it well will give him a little more confidence in other parts of his life. We'll see. One way or another we're off to a good start.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thank You for the Turtle Grandma Mira!




You never know with kids. That is what I am learning.


Zeke turned four on Tuesday, and we had a party for him yesterday. Shanti and I gave him a scooter. Knew he would love it, and in fact he did love it. Grandma Martha and PopPop Bob gave him a giant fire truck with all kinds of remote control ladder-raising and water squirting capabilities. Knew he'd love it. And of course he loved it. But the rest of his gifts were a toss-up. Very thoughtful offerings from his little school friends and our other family members: Legos, blocks, a Star Wars logic game (which Shanti and I are enjoying), a puzzle, an outfit, some books, a mini computer mouse, some origami, and a small wooden turtle from his Grandma Mira.


And if you had asked me to rank the remaining gifts in order of popularity, I'd probably have put the puzzle and Legos at the top of the list, followed closely by the blocks and the books, the Star Wars game, the origami, the mouse, the outfit (which is adorable, but which Zeke automatically dismissed as a non-gift because it cannot be played with), and then bringing up the tail end would be the wooden turtle. Not because it wasn't beautiful, but because it seemed more like d├ęcor than a toy. Something we'd put on Zeke's shelf and smile at when we looked at it.


Boy was I wrong. The turtle was the sleeper of the gift parade. The come from behind story. The seventh round draft pick that winds up in the Pro Bowl. For reasons that I cannot explain, Zeke loves that turtle. He pets it. He cuddles it. He brings it over to the fire truck so it can enjoy the lights and water squirting magic with him. It accompanied him to breakfast. It watched Dora with him before bed. And I am just amazed. It is a wooden turtle. No fur, no lights, no electronic sounds. But he loves it and seems to want to parent it. And I love him all the more for being such a complex, wonderful, imaginative little human being. Way to go Grandma Mira! Great gift.


Monday, August 3, 2009

The End of the Bowl Cut Initiative



(After shot on top; Before on bottom)

Goodbye almost-bowl cut! It was nice having you around. You were cute most of the time. Oh, sometimes you made Zeke look like some kind of street urchin that may or may not have a home, but that was the exception. As a rule, you were an attractive, throwback kind of haircut, and I liked the statement you were making: (“Zeke's mom can put down the clippers if she wants to. She normally chooses to cut his hair every 4-6 weeks, but she doesn't have to. She isn't compelled to. She simply chooses to. And right now she is choosing not to. And it's not driving her crazy at all. She loves disorder. She's totally cool with her kid looking kind of rumpled from time to time. It's not like she's obsessive about his hair...”)

And really, I thought we were going to make it from almost-bowl to full-fledged bowl. I mean I hadn't cut you since March, and it is now August. I figured by the end of the month we'd be there. September at the latest. And I was looking forward to it. But then last week Zeke told me that his hair was bothering him.

“It's touching the back of my neck Mommy. Can you please cut it?”

“Cut it? We don't need to cut it—it looks fine,” I replied with all the conviction of a dieter turning down a cookie.

Ten minutes later I had the scissors out and gave him a quick trim. Five days after that I dug out my clippers and, well--you can see where that went. The almost-bowl was history. 

Guess I'll have to try again next summer. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More on Cake...and Cousins

Most of you have probably heard that my brother and his wife just had a baby.

Landon Wallace Cunningham rolled into town on July 1st and was warmly welcomed by his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends. Pretty much everyone even remotely connected to our family was thrilled to welcome this new little life to our world.

Everyone but Zeke, that is.

When we told Zeke that Uncle Billy had a baby and that the baby was his cousin, he asked what cousins were, and we made the mistake of explaining that being cousins meant (among other things) that they had the same grandma.

“Same Grandma?!” exclaimed Zeke with disbelief. “Grandma is my grandma. He does not get to have her.”

“Well she'll still be your grandma, but she'll be his grandma too.”

“I don't like Landon.”

And that was that...for the time being anyway. We decided to drop the subject since we had clearly bungled it to that point.

Today however, I am pleased to report that long-term prospects for the Zeke/Landon relationship are looking up. Zeke and I were in the car yesterday riding home from preschool and talking about who he was going to invite to his birthday party (because as far as Zeke is concerned, any time is a good time to talk about his birthday and how we might celebrate it...no matter that it isn't until September).

“Who are you going to invite Zeke?” (Talking about his guest list is his second favorite party planning topic, trumped only by speculation about how delicious the cake is going to be.)

“Owie (his best friend Owen), Ryan, Jacob, Katie, Carter, Duffy, Lucas, Matthew, and Blake.”

“Anybody else? (I was worried, because at least half the kids on that list live in the Bay Area and it's a safe bet that their parents are not going to subject their children to a six-hour drive just to attend a birthday party.)

“No.”

“What about the nice little girls from your class?”

“No.”

“Are you sure there isn't anyone else you'd like to invite?”

“Well, cousin Landon can come...”

“He can?!” (I was thrilled. I didn't think he even remembered Landon's name since we'd spoken about him exactly once.) “That's very nice Zeke.”

“He can come, but Uncle Billy needs to keep him in a basket under the table.”

“Under the table? Why?”

“So he can't get the cake.”

“But he's a baby—he can't walk. He won't be able to get anywhere near the cake.”

“Well, we'd better put him there anyway—just to be safe.”

Sigh. It's not perfect, but I'll take it. A contingency-laden birthday invitation from a jealous little 3-year-old boy to his newborn cousin is better than no invitation at all. That said, I will not at all be surprised if Landon surfaces in Zeke's nightmares as the newest cake-thieving antagonist.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

He's a Keeper!


I don't know what I was thinking asking the greyhound rescue for a dog. What do I want with a new dog? More poo? More fur to vacuum? More lawn damage? I definitely did not think out the consequences of this request. All I knew was that I wanted Zadie to have a companion. Somebody to snuggle with on the dog nest and play with while I worked.

But then the greyhound lady actually agreed to let me have a dog (or at least test-drive one for a week). I never thought she'd let me have a dog. Never. I just asked because it is my nature to ask for things that I have already been told I cannot have (and due to the fact that I have a 3-year-old son, a greyhound was allegedly something I could not have). But it turns out that I caught the greyhound lady at a vulnerable moment. She had a lot of greyhound inventory, and one of them was a greyhound/husky mix that she thought might be more likely to do well in a home with young kids than most greyhounds would. His name was Conner.

So last week we suddenly had a dog. A very sweet, very energetic young dog. Affectionate. Silly. Eager to learn. But also prone to hopping up on the couch (which we don't love), chewing on Zeke's stuffed animals (which he doesn't love), and going completely nuts when he sees another dog on the street. Add to that the fact that he was entirely unfamiliar with regular dog commands, and that he had/has no sense of personal boundaries (if you leave the bathroom door open he'll follow you right in and put his head on your knee while you're going), and we knew we were going to be in for an interesting week.

Seven days later, the dog has prevailed. In what can only be called a triumph of canine charisma over human good sense, Conner has convinced us that his faults are negligible and his upside is huge. He's still stealing Zeke's toys, and he is definitely a pain to walk, with all the craziness that ensues each time he sees another dog, but he's learning general obedience commands quite quickly and Zadie really does seem to like him (which is saying a lot when it comes to Zadie). Plus, he spends most of the day just sleeping at my feet in the office, which is nice, and he has given up on the idea that dogs should occupy the couch.

As for personal boundaries...we're still workin' on it, but have discovered that you can get used to being watched in the bathroom if you try.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Nightmare!

Most kids have nightmares about monsters. Or scary dogs. Or getting lost. I know this because I have a lot of friends with small children and this is what they tell me.

So when Zeke woke up crying hysterically the other night—his very first real nightmare--Shanti and I ran to his room and did our best to comfort him. We couldn't understand a thing he was saying, but we stayed with him and held him until he quieted down.

When we went back to our room we speculated about what could have been stalking our son in his dreams. A mean kid from school? Something scary he had seen on TV? Monsters? We felt horrible that he was so frightened and upset.

So when we got up the next morning I really wanted to ask him about it. I didn't at first, for fear of re-traumatizing him, but by the time we sat down to breakfast, curiosity triumphed over willpower, and I carefully submitted my inquiry.

“Zeke, do you remember waking up last night?”

“Yes.”

“You seemed pretty upset. Can you tell me what made you so unhappy?”

“A very mean girl took my cake.”

“Cake? You had a nightmare about cake?”

“Yes.”

“But you don't even have a cake.”

“I do have a cake. I saw it.”

From there the conversation degenerated into a debate over the nature of dreams, with me trying to explain that your brain tells you stories while you sleep, but they're not real and therefore the cake cannot be real, and Zeke stubbornly clinging to the “But I saw it!” defense, while repeatedly explaining to me that brains cannot make cakes because they don't have hands and you need hands to stir cake mix and spread frosting.

I eventually waved the white flag. Not because Zeke had convinced me that brains don't have hands, but because Shanti had hopped on the Internet during our debate and learned that parents aren't even supposed to question the legitimacy of their childrens' dreams. Apparently you're supposed to arm your child against the next nightmare by providing suggestions as to how they might combat the monster/bully/cake-stealing-girl. Chagrined by this, I shut up, and thought we were finished.

Two days later however, Shanti was putting Zeke to bed, when from out of nowhere Zeke announced, “I am going to wrap my cake in plastic, put it in a box, and hide it in the back of the refrigerator so the bad girl can't get it.”

I just loved that. Not that my son was still upset, but that his nightmares are about cake and that he had spent 48 hours plotting his defense of that cake. That is my boy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another "Living in L.A." Update


First of all, I should clarify: I don't live in L.A. Not even in L.A. county. I live in Thousand Oaks, which is about 45 minutes north of L.A., in Ventura County. The only reason I use “L.A.” when describing where I've moved is that usually I'm talking to someone from the Bay Area, and most of them have no idea where Thousand Oaks is, but can roughly approximate the location of Los Angeles.

I think I've been fair in my descriptions of my new habitat so far. Critical of its insanely fast drivers and its relentless promotion of 80s music, but appreciative of its superior customer service and fashion sense.

Today I add two items to the “Living in L.A.” plus column: Low prices and large parking spaces.

Oh, sure you know about the low real estate prices (at least compared to SF), but did you know that pretty much any service you can think of is cheaper here? Example: My gym membership in the Bay Area (YMCA) ran $70/month. Here my gym membership costs $33/month. I didn't join the Y, but if I had (we've got one right up the street), it still would only have been $42. And it's just as nice as the one I belonged to up north. Same thing for highlights. Partial highlight + tip at Aveda salon in Mountain View: $150. Here (also at Aveda salon): $75. Bay Area pedicure: $20. Here: $12. And on it goes. It's like living in a half-price sale, and it rocks.

As for the parking spaces...

I alluded to this in an earlier post, but never said it outright, so let's call out the elephant in the room: people in southern California love their SUVs. In Thousand Oaks in particular, the giant black Escalade seems to rule the road. Most of our neighbors have at least one, and some have two. Oh they're not all Escalades, but a lot are, and those that aren't are at least close cousins from the GMC family: Tahoes, Yukons, Suburbans, you name it. If it's giant and black and you can put 22-inch chrome wheels on it, someone in our neighborhood is driving it.

The happy side effect of all this large vehicle driving (for those of us driving smaller vehicles anyway) is that the parking spaces at the malls and supermarkets around here are enormous. Not only can I sling my Prius into any space I want as carelessly as I please, I can open the doors all the way without the slightest fear that I will ding the car next to me. I can push my shopping cart right up next to my passenger door and put my groceries in there instead of in the trunk. I can even let Zeke open his own door, which he was never ever allowed to do in the Bay Area. I know that giant parking spaces are a poor use of open space and another step on the path to us paving over the entire world, and I do feel guilty about that, but right now I have to admit that I am enjoying them immensely.

P.S. Shanti and I were thinking maybe the City of Thousand Oaks should consider replacing the oak tree on the city seal (because really, how many of those are left?), with a big ol' shiny Escalade; replacing the silhouette of Ventura county with the VanHalen logo; and replacing the bear (how totally non-creative were the people that cooked this seal up? “I know—we're in California—let's use the bear. You know, because it's on the state flag. No one else will think of that!”) with an elephant—because although I haven't touched on this yet in this blog, the place is loaded to the gills with conservatives. We'll talk about that another day (or not...if I know what's good for me).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Touch a Truck Day!



OK, the Conejo Recreation and Parks District is turning out to be one of the best things about living in Thousand Oaks. Not only are they the ones behind the swim program Zeke's involved with, they're also responsible for "Touch a Truck Day," which just went down today and apparently happens every Father's Day weekend like clockwork. 

The name pretty much says it all. They fill a park up with fire trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, ambulances, tractors, a limo (which I thought was weird, but whatever), and even a helicopter, then let the kids touch all the vehicles, sit in the respective driver's seats, and even work the controls. As you can see, one of the firemen very generously allowed Zeke to help him with the firehose. As far as I can tell, when you're a three-year-old boy, that's pretty much touching the hand of God. The other picture is of him in the helicopter. Photo credits and outstanding activity planning kudos to Mom--she's the one who took him. Smart grandma. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tiny Tot Seal


Oh, that's not what I call Zeke. I would never call him a "tiny" anything, lest I offend the big boy of the house and subject myself to a lengthy and repetitive lecture about just how big and grownup he is. No, "Tiny Tot Seal" is actually what the Conejo Rec and Parks district calls him. He's taking swim lessons from them right now, and they categorize the kids based on their ages and abilities. So, as a 3-year-old with no water fears at all, but zero actual swimming skills, he's a Tiny Tot Seal. If he completes this class satisfactorily he'll be promoted to Polliwog, then full-fledged Seal, Dolphin, Barracuda, and so on until he becomes a Shark. So far, so good. We're three days into a two-week eight-session course, and he loves it. He's learned to kick on a kickboard and put his head all the way under water and hold his breath (a huge improvement over his previous technique, which was to open his mouth and gulp all the water he could), and he's doing it all without Shanti or I in the pool--just him, his instructor, and his two cute little classmates. This picture is of him at the pool in his rashguard and shorts, waiting for his lesson to begin. A big thank you to Grandma and Grandpa for taking him to their pool so often and getting him comfortable in the water.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

One Month To Go!


My mom and I flew up to the Bay Area last weekend for my sister-in-law Carolyn's baby shower. Just a one-day trip. Up at 5 a.m., drive to airport, fly to Bay Area, drive to shower, eat way more than my share of the salami and cheese that was put out as an appetizer (there was a lot of other food--lovely food--but the salami and cheese was just outstanding, so I chose to focus my attention on that end of the table), catch up with long-lost friends, drink mimosas, watch pregnant lady open a zillion gifts, drive to airport, hop on plane, drive home. Whew. It was an exhausting day, but totally worth it. Thanks for having us Carolyn!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Dream Lives On


Not the anteater dream. The bowl cut dream. I'm back to that now that it looks like an exotic pet is off the table for me.

Look how long Zeke's hair is getting! His bangs are almost touching his eyebrows already. Maybe he has a short forehead, or maybe his hair is growing faster than the one half inch per month that is allegedly the norm. He's definitely going through some kind of growth spurt right now. Every time we feed him lately he finishes the meal by saying "But I'm still huuuungry." So we give him more food. The he tells us he's hungry again. So we make him wait, and give him more food an hour or so later, but by then he's ravenous, so even though he has in fact received additional food, he continues to ask for more. We don't want to over-feed him, but it feels wrong to withhold food from a hungry kid. I honestly can't imagine how people with teenage boys put aside enough money to pay the mortgage. Right now I feel like we are shoveling food at Zeke and it's just never enough. Amazing.

Anyway, the upside to this whole thing is that I think the extra protein (and everything else) he's getting is resulting in more hair. Which means that with any luck, he'll have enough for a fancy and fabulous bowl cut by the end of August.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meditation on the Logistics of Anteater Acquisition

I know you didn't think I was serious about the anteater thing, but I was.

I did a little research last week, and here's what I discovered: Anteaters come in three sizes: Small, medium, and large (or “pygmy,” “tamandua,” and “giant” if you want to pass yourself off as an anteater pro when cruising the online anteater discussion boards). I also discovered that some people (probably people who are into giant anteaters) call the medium anteaters “lesser anteaters” and that the lovers of medium anteaters are a little touchy about that. They prefer the “tamandua” label.

Speaking of those who love and hang out with anteaters, it turns out you can actually have a pet anteater in some states, but California is not one of them. If you want to own one here you have to apply for a special permit and build a giant cage in your yard and sign a contract promising that your anteater won't actually be a pet, but an educational/therapy animal. And then you have to take your anteater around to schools and old folks homes and let people pet it. That part actually makes me want one more, because I think that anyone packin' an anteater is going to be the rock star of the therapy-pet circuit. Right? I mean, how many drooly, stinky Beagles and retrievers have those poor kids and old people been subjected to? I think they'd flip out if you brought 'em an anteater. But the other stuff (cage building, permits, contracts) does not make me want one. I didn't envision a cage when I conceived of this whole scheme. I thought the anteater would just come and live with us and eat ants and pop in and out of the dog door at will. I was hoping he or she would make friends with Zadie and that they might even snuggle up together in the same dog nest (which it turns out was not entirely off the mark--the anteater people say they're actually very affectionate animals, bordering on needy, and get along quite well with cats and dogs).

Alas, it is not to be. Not only are the California anteater regulations something of a deal breaker, the cost and the inherent difficulty of caring for one pretty much preclude any anteater relationships that may have been in my future. It turns out that they cost anywhere from $1500 to $4000, and they are high-maintenance companions (physically—not personality-wise). The online community claims that most households do not have enough ants to sustain even one anteater. So you have to supplement their diets with a soup that has fruit and spinach and ants and cheese. Apparently they enjoy avocados as well, but those aren't part of the soup. And if you don't get the nutrition thing perfect they get sick. And wind up costing you thousands more at the vet. The websites couldn't emphasize the fragility of the anteater strongly enough. Oh, and they're cold all the time, so you need to dress them in sweaters (unless you live in a tropical climate).

So there you have it. Ready to pick one up? Yeah, me either. But I really was excited about it for a couple days...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bird watching


OK, this blog is supposed to be about Zeke, and there have been precious few Zeke photos or mentions lately, so I am posting this very cute photo of him from a few days ago over at my mom's house. We stopped by to pick up mail and check in on her birds while she's gone. Not pet birds. She's not a weird bird lady. These are wild birds that are nesting in one of the geranium baskets in front of her house. Every year the female builds a nest in the basket in the corner, and last year the eggs were demolished, but this year they survived, so now there are five very fat little baby birds just hangin' out in the nest, eatin' worms and waiting to grow enough feathers so they can blow that pop stand. Zeke likes me to take the basket down so he can see what they're up to. We don't touch. Just look for a little bit. And talk to the birdies about how one day they'll be big enough to eat goldfish crackers and pasta and potstickers...and go to school. I think they're excited.

No big deal

OK, the party hosting thing wasn't that big of a deal. I shouldn't even have mentioned it. It's just that last weekend was gorgeous and Zeke was playing in the pool, and it seemed like he'd have so much more fun if his cousin Jacob was in the pool with him, so I called his mom Patti and asked her if they wanted to come over for lunch and a swim. Only Patti didn't pick up. And she didn't get my message for another hour. So by the time she and Jacob and her husband John did make it over, it was late. Two o'clock. And that was cool. We were thrilled they could make it. But now lunch was over. And a couple hours later my tummy started growling, which made me think that my guests tummies were probably growling too, which led to a mental inventory of the food situation, and the conclusion that the guests and myself were hosed because I didn't have any guest-appropriate food. Unless you call leftover chinese or peanut butter toast appropriate for an afternoon spread. Bad hostess. Bad, bad, bad. I mean, I'm never really a great hostess—if I get the food right the decorations are missing, or I get the decorations right and the stemware is filthy, or I forget to pick the dog poop off the lawn for my lawn party, or...you name it, it has happened—but this case was especially egregious because Patty is an awesome hostess. Always remembers everything. Good food, clean plates, parting gifts—you get the idea. And now she and her family were visiting, and we had squat. Even Shanti, who is generally unconcerned about things like this, was aware that the total absence of food was something of a problem. So, to his credit, he emptied the last handful of broken pretzels from a month-old bag into a pretty little bowl, then did the same thing with the last handful of chips, and threw some cheddar goldfish in a third, and brought those out to our guests along with a big pitcher of what looked like real lemonade, but was in fact Crystal Light.

So that's all that happened. No big deal. Just us sucking as hosts and squirming in total awareness of our ineptitude.

We're actually going to Patty and Jon's tomorrow for a Memorial Day BBQ, which should be fun, because as Shanti said, “You know it's going to be perfect, right?”

I do know it's going to be perfect, and I am going to take diligent notes. Here's hoping that by the time you come to visit I will have elevated my game (but you still might want to toss a snack into your purse just in case).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Got Anteaters?

What's the deal with all the ants down here?

They are everywhere. Our corporate housing condo was positively riddled with them. No matter how much time and energy we spent trying to stamp them out, they always came back. And while our new pad is practically ant-free, a sentry did make an appearance at our breakfast table today, and I am seriously concerned that he is the first of millions that will be parading on in once they realize the house is occupied again.

Where is the predator that is supposed to be eating all these guys? And what predator is it anyway? Are anteaters all nature has to offer in this department? Does all ant eradication fall upon his humble shoulders? I find that hard to believe--although it would certainly explain the current state of affairs.

I know, I know—we are at least partially responsible for the situation. Obviously ants don't come to sterile, food-free homes. But we like food. We're not ready to give it up yet.

So we need an anteater. Or several anteaters. I looked on Craigslist for one, because you can find anything on Craigslist, but no, they have no anteaters. So now I'm putting out a plea to you, my friends and family. I need an anteater. Find me an anteater. One of you has got to have a friend that works at a zoo. And every zoo has its bad actors. Its troublemakers. Its discipline problems. I'm not saying steal an anteater. I'm just saying that if you were to offer to take a problem anteater off the hands of the zoo that your friend works at, and were then to ship that anteater to your good friends the Amagasus, well, we'd be grateful. And we'd keep him well-fed. I promise. As far as I can tell, Thousand Oaks is the all-you-can-eat buffet of the anteater world.

Monday, May 18, 2009

We're in!

In the house. We've actually been here since the 4th. And we're about 70-80% unpacked. Which is to say that the furniture is generally in its place (although some rooms are conspicuously furniture-light), and the boxes are more or less in the right rooms, (although a good number are still full). We've met the neighbors (awesome people), scoped the local supermarket, and had friends over for a swim visit (an event that needs to be blogged about later). We've gone to the Home Depot (about ten times already). We've walked the dog to the neighborhood dog park. I've joined a new gym—and a new book club. The dog has learned how to use the dog flap. Zeke has made friends with a kid across the street. Shanti has made his inaugural bike ride into work.

So there you are. The Northern California Amagasus are now officially the Southern California Amagasus. Easy as that. I hope we get to stay here for a good long while.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Music Update

OK, I know that some of you think I’m exaggerating about the 80s music thing. And that’s reasonable, because I’m not above stretching a detail or two in the interest of a more engaging story. But I am tellin’ you, swearin’ on everything dear to me that I have not embellished the way the citizens of the greater Los Angeles area love their 80s music. Come down here and turn on your radio. You will hear the truth.

Seriously. When was the last time you heard “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake? “Why Can’t I Get Just One Kiss” by The Violent Femmes? “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners? Or “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard?

I heard them all today. In one day. And I don’t even have a commute.

The peculiar thing to me isn’t so much the appearance of “Come On Eileen” or “Mickey” (Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind…” –that Mickey) on radio playlists, because love of those tunes is almost universal. It’s the shameless playing of hair bands that’s such a stunning thing to witness. Grinding, yelling, chaotic hair bands. Poison, Bon Jovi, KISS, Scorpions, Quiet Riot. They are all disproportionately popular here. Still getting oodles of airtime. I don’t understand what is going on. Did the guys in these bands all retire and buy the local radio stations? Are they foisting their music on an innocent populous? Or are my new friends and neighbors actually submitting requests for this stuff? Don’t get me wrong. I’m actually enjoying the whole thing—ain’t nothin’ like a little Whitesnake on the Stairmaster—I’m just curious about what seems like a very illogical state of affairs.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Great Easter Scandal


Sometimes you are about to do something naughty. And you know it, and your accomplice knows it, and the very universe you inhabit knows it. The only people who do not know it (of course) are your parents. So the universe does its part and tries to send your family a signal in the form of a digital photo. It says "Hey Parents--see how guilty these two little boys look? Like they're in a lineup? Well, keep it in mind, because in about five minutes you are going to sit down to Easter dinner. Dinner will lead to cake and you will say that the boys cannot have cake because they have already eaten more sugar on this one day than anyone needs to eat in an entire year. They will seem to be fine with this. They will leave the room and you and the other adults will pick up your wine and commence with the flour-less yet heavenly chocolate dessert. But then you will notice that no noise is coming from the living room. None at all. And that can only be bad news when the occupants of that room are two four-year-oldish boys. So you will drop your forks and scramble to the living room only to discover that the boys have raided the "grownup candy" basket that grandma so thoughtfully assembled for the adults. With dexterity you could not have imagined and a level of cooperation they have not exhibited all day, they have silently unwrapped and consumed a shocking amount of this candy. Furthermore (and most unfortunately), you will discover that they have chosen to use Grandma's pastel couch as a napkin. That's right. A chocolate covered pastel couch is in your future. Cushion washing. Apologies. Embarrassment. All of it. Unless you act now Parents. Act now! Apprehend Mr. Who Me? and Mr. Nope, I Didn't Do It immediately. Stop admiring their cuteness and digest the clues! Can't you see them? They're practically confessing in advance!

OK, that's it. I've done all I can. It's up to you to save yourselves now.

Sincerely, The Universe"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hidin' From the Pizza Rat


Well, I'm not exactly hiding. I'm just not there. 

At Chuck E. Cheese.

I'm supposed to be there because Transitions (the company that Amgen is paying to help us make friends) is hosting an event there.

Isn't that nice? That they actually hired a company to help successfully integrate us into the community?

I think it's pretty above-and-beyond. It's not just for us though—they do it for all their employees moving to Thousand Oaks from out of town. Mostly they just host little get-togethers so we can meet other families...see if we like each other, see if we have anything in common—pretty much like speed dating. Sometimes it's a movie night, sometimes a hike, and if you're a stay at home mom you totally score because you can bring your kids to a coffee gathering (all food and drinks at these things are paid for by the company) once a week.

We've only gone to one other event so far, and it was kind of embarrassing because most of the people were from other states and other countries. Michigan. Brazil. India. Florida. People who clearly have a legitimate case for needing to be integrated. I think our case is just as legit (in fact, I'd argue that Michigan may very well be more like Thousand Oaks than where we're from), but when I told them that we moved here from Northern California, “which sounds close but really is like another world,” I got a lot of eye rolling.

Whatever. They don't know.

We get to use the service for a whole year, which seems awfully generous. I suppose they figure that if you haven't made any friends after an entire year you're not going to...ever.

Anyway, I bailed tonight because I needed to go running, and so now poor Shanti is in the land of the pizza rat all by himself (well, with Zeke, but on his own socially). And I'm a little freaked because the more I think about it the more I think that C.E.C. is probably a mecca for pedophiles.

Don't you think you'd go there if you were a pedophile? I would. It's like a child supermarket.

I just called Shanti to ask him if he's keeping an eye on Zeke:

“Do you see any of the Megan's List guys?” (We memorized the faces and names of all the ones that live within a mile radius of our new home, which was actually pretty easy because there were only three and one of them used to be married to one of my best friends in high school.)

“Nope.”

“What about low-profile pervs? See any of those?”

“Nope.”

“Well how do you know? They're low profile—they're probably all around you.”

“No. All that's around me is Amgen people and screaming kids. I'm pretty sure it's a pervert-free zone.”

“OK well I'm calling again in five minutes.”

Hours later...

Fortunately they made it home safe and sound. Whew. I think we'll be sticking to the hikes and movie nights in the future. I just can't handle the pizza rat pressure. The pic is of Zeke is a state of post-Chuckie reverie.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Thoughts On Life In Our New Habitat

When Shanti first moved down here he complained to me repeatedly about how fast the people drove.

I told him to stop being such a baby, and reminded him that north of Sand Hill Rd., people on the 280 rarely let their spedometers drift below 80 mph. “The people in L.A. couldn't be driving faster than that,” I argued, “They've got all the traffic!” He sighed, resigned to my disbelief, and we moved on to other topics.

But now I'm here, and I get it.

Holy Mother these people drive fast! And they are not messin' around. They don't slow down even 1 mph when you are trying to merge onto the freeway. Not one. If you do not choose a large enough gap and accelerate rapidly enough to slip into it, that Nicey McNice waitress that just blew your mind with her awesome customer service will drive her giant black Hummer right through your teensy-weensy Prius—without a moment's hesitation.

And the weirdest part of this behavior is the universality of it. It's not one or two loonies zooming past everyone and zipping in and out of lanes. It's a much more coordinated, almost militant affair that seems to involve the entire freeway-driving population. Like they all know about some rule that I am unaware of.

Well, I was unaware of it. I'm pretty sure I've figured it out though: Step on it or get creamed.

I haven't decided how I feel about this yet. One the one hand it does seem a little unfriendly of my new neighbors to willfully attempt to mow me down. But in a way I find the lack of ambiguity kind of comforting. There is no “Should I go? Is that guy slowing down for me to pull in? Yeah, I think he might be. OK, here I go. Oh wait—maybe I don't have enough room. Oops! It looks like he had to slam on his brakes. My bad. Sorry! (Waving out the window.) Thanks! That was nice of you.” Nope. You know that the burden is on you to pick a gap, hit the gas hard and make a decisive move into the lane. Anything less will result in disaster. Draconian, yes, but it makes sense. Who knows...maybe it really is the law and I just didn't know it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Patience Required



Well, it's Day 3 of the Bowl Cut Challenge and so far not much is happening. It turns out that waiting for hair to grow requires even more patience than the fabled paint watching exercise. 

I did a little online research and discovered that hair really only grows 1/2 inch per month. Is that right? That can't be right. That means I won't have enough hair for a bowl cut until November or December. Very disappointing. I didn't envision the bowl as a winter 'do. A winter bowl seems very serious to me. A conscious choice. A statement. It puts the world on notice that you have an entirely different belief system than they do, and you're not afraid to show it. Like a neon sign on your head. I'm not sure Zeke has the self-assurance to bear the weight of the winter bowl.

The summer bowl on the other hand seems to me like more of a carefree thing. An "I've been having such a fabulous time frolicking in the sun that I forgot to get my hair cut," thing. 

So I don't know what I'm going to do now. I do know that I'm not giving up. Not immediately anyway. I had Zeke try bowls on his head tonight. He has a very big head, so as you can see, the first regular soup bowl he tried looked like a yarmulke. No good. That will give him shorter hair than he already has. The second bowl was better, but still not big enough--which is shocking, because you can make a truly massive salad in that bowl. I'm not sure what to try next. Mixing bowl? Casserole dish? Wok? I'll have to dig around. Guess I've got about eight months to figure it out. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's Bowl Season!


I'm pathetic. This is the only newish picture I have of my son right now, and really it's not new at all. It's about one month old—taken at the hotel we lived in for three days after the movers packed our stuff, but before we were ready to head south.

Now that we live here, Shanti and my mom take hundreds of pictures of Zeke in any given week, so I always feel like we're covered in the memory department...and we are (no need for me to pull out a camera--ever). But it means I'm not quite as well covered in the blogging department.

Anyway, I like how short his hair is in this shot. I always like it short. But I think I'm gonna let him grow it out this summer.

Maybe “let” isn't quite the right word since he's not asking to grow it out, but you get the idea. I'm going to stop cutting it. I want it to get long enough that I can give him a bowl cut. Just to see if he can pull it off. And to see if I, as the lead stylist of the NudieCuts Underground Salon (because I require my customers to be naked for easy cleanup), can pull it off. I feel like the window of haircutting freedom is rapidly closing and I have to act now if I want to pursue new styles without complaint. Today he'll let me do whatever I want. Next year he might not think that shooting for a bowl cut is such a hot idea. And I'm pretty sure I'll have to start paying for haircuts (gasp!) as soon as his friends are old enough to know what's cool and what is not.

So today Project Bowl Cut is officially launched. I guess it's actually a pretty passive initiative. Not much to do but wait. I'll let you know how it goes.

Credit to SFGate.com, which just had a Best Bowl Cuts contest. You have inspired me.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Anybody out there?

Hey--Thanks if you're still coming by the blog! Sorry I fell off the map for a while. Moving to Thousand Oaks was a little more disruptive than I imagined it might be. Took a little while to find solid ground and get to a point where I had the energy to blog again. And it's funny, I haven't stopped thinking about blogging--there are at least two dozen things I've wanted to write about--I just haven't been capable of doing it. So anyway, my apologies. Thanks for stopping by to check it out again.

I don't have any pictures to post right now, but I may have some later this week. Zeke is doing great, and so is Shanti. I'll go into detail on their adventures in future posts. For now, a few of my observations about life (back) in the Southland:

-Observation #1: The 80s are alive and well here. At least musically. Where in the Bay Area there might be 80s hour on one channel at lunchtime, or really late at night, here you can find 80s music at any time of day, any day of the week, on at least five different stations. So odd. No 70s, no 90s, just 80s. All the time. Even on radio stations that purport to have some other format. In the car on the way to the gym the other day I was so pleased to find what I thought was a pop station. My good friend Katy Perry was singing to me about how her man was “hot and then cold, yes and then no.” It was good and thumpy and fun. Perfect music for a warm day with the windows down. I turned it up. Then, just as I was patting myself on the back for having found a non-80s station, the DJ throws on a little Devo. That's right—Devo! Whip It. Being played on the radio in 2009. It continued at the gym, where I was treated to Rebel Yell, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?, and a Pet Shop Boys tune, before the DJ put John Mayer on like nothing ever happened. Like that whole sequence made perfect sense. Same thing at the supermarket, the car wash, the salon. They play Like a Virgin around here like it was released yesterday. And Van Halen? If you just landed here from another planet you'd think they were the most popular band on earth right now.

-Observation #2: The customer service here is incredible. At first I just thought we were having a string of lucky encounters with courteous and enthusiastic retailers, but it's been two solid weeks now and it's clear that this is not luck—it's a pattern. We have not had a single bad experience at a restaurant, dry cleaner, grocery store, or anywhere for that matter. And these people are not just running through the script that the corporation assigns them. They're polite, helpful, and seemingly genuine in their friendliness. We can't figure out what's going on or why there is such a huge disparity between here and the Bay Area (and truly, it's no contest), but we like it.

-Observation #3: The parents down here dress way better than we do (and by "we," I mean Bay Area parents because I still think of myself as a Bay Area resident). Think daddies that pretty much all look like some variation of Tommy Lee, but with much fewer tats, very carefully pressed jeans, and unspeakably expensive shoes and jackets. And moms that are almost universally fit and cute, wearing equally stylish clothing (LOTS of fake boobs too--there is clearly no taboo about that down here). I don't know where these people work, but I'm guessing it's not Amgen. Maybe the music industry, because they even look too cool for the movies.

That's it for now. I know--sweeping observations, totally unfair...but I'm just reporting. Tellin' it like I see it. No offense intended to L.A. or the Bay Area.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Secret Lives of Amagasus


To all outward appearances, we are a scientist, writer, and cheese-loving toddler. But lock us in the house on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and we become the City of Mountain View's best hope for a gold medal in Olympic tandem couch jumping. 

Oh sure, the IOC is resisting our petition to add it to the official roster of olympic events, but we're sending them photos like these to prove the popularity of the sport in our our area, and illustrate it's potential as a major TV draw. And in case you're wondering, yes--those are the official team uniforms, and the two contestants in the photo above are executing a perfect Flying Cheeseater. 

How can you tell? 

Well, like almost all Olympic sports the feet are important, and as you can see, in this case, the contestant being lifted has his feet relaxed and legs apart. He's also smiling, which is essential (just ask the ice skaters), his shirt is about to fall over his head, but is not actually covering his eyes (tricky--even for experts), and he is not vomiting on his teammate, which is the true sign of a champion--particularly when doing a Flying Cheeseater right after lunch. 

His teammate on the other hand, contributes in a more subtle fashion. His gray t-shirt and weathered black boxer shorts are part of a calculated strategy to avoid distracting viewers from  his partner's flashy costume and flashier moves. His shaved legs help us to appreciate the toned, athletic musculature that is the telltale sign of the world-class couch jumper. And of course he has executed the lift perfectly and is smiling at his partner fearlessly--even with the knowledge that hot recycled lunch could come raining down on him at any moment.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Zeke, Your Hostess is Alarmed


This is the picture I should have posted last night. I originally left it off because you can't see Zeke's face, but it's too cute not to share. 

Why is Skye so wide-eyed? We can only speculate...

"Daddy, are you going give that kid a rabbit? I don't think you should give him a rabbit. Really Dad. I saw him in the bounce house. He's not that coordinated. He's going to squeeze the rabbit too hard. In fact, the more I look at him, the more he looks like a rabbit squeezer. I mean it Dad. Telling him 'gentle' isn't going to help. Dad? Are you listening? Dad? Dad? Daaad!"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Of Course I Took Him To The Party!


You knew I would. I'm a big talker, but at the end of the day, as much as I love cheese, I love my boy more. 

Zeke had a great time (stoic rabbit-holding pose with the birthday girl notwithstanding). He got to ride a pony, ride a fake train, bounce in a bounce house, pet things (although no, a lamb was not present--it turns out that was a total hallucination on my part), and yes--eat cake. Happy Birthday Skye! 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Decisions, Decisions


"Petting, jumping, cake! Petting, jumping, cake! Petting, jumping, cake!"

That has been Zeke's mantra for the past few days because he knows he is going to Skye & Fiona's birthday party on Saturday, where he will pet (lambs, not the other kids...although come to think of it I have no idea if there will be lambs, but I do know that the invitation implied there would be petting, and I think I saw a cartoon of a lamb on a Valentine's Day card on my counter, which must have melded in my subconscious with the upcoming petting event, and next thing I knew on the way home in the car the other night I blurted out to Zeke that he was going to get to pet lambs), jump (in a bouncy house), and eat (cake). So he's pretty excited. And I was excited too. But then today my good friend Ms. Anna Roberts sent me THIS (http://grilledcheeseinvitational.com/norcal). 

Now I have an ethical dilemma on my hands. Take my son to the birthday party I've been promoting, and that he will probably have a great time at, or re-route the Prius to the GCI (that's what the cool kids call the Grilled Cheese Invitational) so he can watch mommy go on a cheese bender in a building full of like-minded cheese freaks where in all likelihood he will be exposed to the graphic sort of cheese love that is entirely inappropriate for someone his age. Oh, I know it's wrong to think this thought, but I'm thinkin' it. I'll let you know where we end up...  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Shanti and the Jester


Look at these happy, frisky boys. Are they adorable or what? Just back from a walk to the coffee shop on Saturday morning. The weather was hideous, but we didn't feel like we could hold Zeke hostage inside the house anymore, so Shanti suited him up in last year's snow gear and took him for a puddle stomp/caffeine run while I took the dog out for a run run. We all came home soaked but happy. Warmed up with a hot bath then a trip to Pho Nan for giant bowls of hot broth, beef, and noodles. Good livin'.

Monday, February 9, 2009

But I don't want to go to the gym!

That's what Zeke says every time I tell him we're going to the YMCA together. 

I think it's because he doesn't dig the occasionally chaotic environment that is their child care facility. Sometimes there are three kids there, sometimes there are thirty. Sometimes (most of the time) he finds a nice friend to play with and is having so much fun that he has to be dragged away when I'm finished working out, sometimes he meets a big bratty bully who hogs all the toy trains. You just never know what you're gonna get. 

So this past Saturday morning we walked over to the Y, and I dropped him off at the child care center like usual. When I came back to get him an hour later, I could see through the glass that he was by himself on a trike in the outdoor play area. 

I walked in to get him, and expected the big "Mommy!" yell, and the really enthusiastic hug, because that's what I get when he hasn't had a great time (and I took it that since he was by himself he wasn't having such a great time). 

But there was no "Mommy!" There wasn't even a "Hey Mom." There was brief eye contact, and that was it. No indication that he was planning to get off the trike. 

So I walked over and stood in front of him. 

I looked down. 

He did not look up. So I kept looking down. 

"What are you doing Zeke?"

Silence.

"Zeke."

He looked up, giggled briefly, then put his head back down on the trike's handlebar.

I couldn't figure out what he was doing, but then I saw that he was actually glancing sideways--under his arm and across the playground. I followed his line of sight, and bingo...little blonde girl--also on a trike, exchanging long-distance glances with young Mr. Amagasu-Casanova. So cute. She would peek over at Zeke and he would turn away as quick as he could. Then he'd look right back over there and it was her turn to hide her face. And it wasn't once or twice. It was six, then seven, then eight times... Finally I told Zeke I was going to go to the restroom and that I'd come back for him in five minutes. Which apparently was fine with him because he didn't say a thing. 

When I came back things had cooled down. Zeke was with a bunch of other little boys, riding the trike through a row of inflatable bowling pins. And the little blonde girl was licking the plastic slide. What can you say...romance is never perfect. Not even when you're three. I do think the slide-licker made an impression on Zeke though. I was explaining to him tonight that we would be going to the gym again next weekend so Daddy could sleep in, and got absolutely no objection. :o)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dinner at Darbar


This is Zeke showing off his very full tummy after we got home from dinner at Darbar tonight. My tummy was full too, but since I'm the keeper of the blog and he is the subject I made the executive decision to keep photos of my tummy off. 

Man that kid can eat. And he loves "curry rice" as he calls Indian food. Ate a giant plate of chicken tikka masala, along with some naan and a potato appetizer of some sort. 

We went out with the Fujiis to celebrate Shanti's last night in town. Tomorrow morning he leaves for Thousand Oaks, and though he'll be back on weekends, it still feels like a big thing. I'm not sure how Zeke is going to react to Daddy not being here every day. We've talked to him about it more than once, but I don't think he's getting what's gonna happen. He hasn't shown the level of alarm that would indicate he actually understands. We'll see...he might be fine. I'm just anxious to get through the next four weeks so we can get down there and be together as a family again. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thanks Moving Dude


So a Moving Dude came to our house today. Not the kind of moving dude that actually moves your stuff, but the kind that takes inventory of how much stuff you've got so he can tell the company what size truck they'll need and whether or not they need any special equipment to protect your stuff when they move it. (My guess is that his report was "Small truck. Zero valuables. They claim the dining room table is worth something, but I'm not sure I believe them. Maybe put a few pillows around it.")

So he's doin' his thing, prowlin' around the house, filling out some sort of list, and chatting with Shanti (I was in the bathroom listening in as I put on my makeup), when suddenly he comes to our TV cabinet and says, "No flat screen!?"

"Nope," Shanti replies.

"Not even one?" the moving guy inquires incredulously.

"Not even one."

"Man, I've got three, and one of 'em is 60 inches. I can't believe you don't even have one."

I cringed in the bathroom. Thanks for nothin' Moving Dude. Shanti has wanted a flat screen forever, and I've managed to hold him off, but now that you have just bragged in his face about how you have three and he has zero, well, I'm pretty sure I'm going to find myself in an electronics store is in the very near future, hearing my husband argue with renewed vigor about why he cannot be happy until he has a very flat, very large television set, and how all his friends have them, and shoot, even the Moving Dude has THREE. 

I don't have any new pix right now, so the photo above is entirely non-Moving Dude related--just a shot of Zeke and Daddy enjoying a little yogurt last weekend at the zoo. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Resolutions Anyone?

Did you make any resolutions this New Year?

I did.

I make 'em every year. I'm really into New Year's resolutions. I usually make too many, but still, they help me focus on what I need to be doing. This year's highlights:

-Get my hemorrhoids fixed. I know...ick. But I've had these unpleasant butt accessories ever since I was pregnant with Zeke, and it's time to get them removed once and for all. I was hoping they'd just kind of go away on their own, but it's been 3 years now, and they've made it clear that a voluntary departure is not on the agenda.

-Embrace yoga. This one was on the list last year and did not happen, so it's been re-listed. I'm usually so comfortable with physical activities, but I fear yoga like other people fear skydiving. It looks like it takes a lot of patience and flexibility. I know it would be so good for injury avoidance though, so it's time to suck it up and go party with all the stretchy people.

-Go to bed earlier. I'm down to about 6.5 hours of sleep a night these days, and that's not cool. I just read an article about a study that showed that people who got only 7 hours of sleep are 500% more likely to catch a virus than people who have had 8 hours of sleep...and I'm not even getting 7! I want in on all that juicy immunity.

Oh God. Shanti just came in and told me that the dog got skunked. Gotta go. Midnight dogwash in the backyard!! Zadie smells so bad I feel like I'm gonna hurl...

Anyway, share your resolutions if you made any! Did any of yours overlap with mine?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We Love Global Warming!


Just kidding. We don't love it. But we'll admit to liking it a little on days like this past Sunday. That was some sweet sunshine we got our hands on. Pure and penetrating. Serious enough to merit ditching your hat, gloves, coat--and in Zeke's case, everything but underpants--by lunchtime. We knew it was going to be beautiful the moment we woke up, and decided it would be a flat out sin to spend even one minute inside, so we took Zeke to the SF Zoo, and then the beach across the street from the zoo. He counted the tiny jellyfish that had washed ashore, dug a few holes, then embarked on a major construction project that involved moving all the sand from the south end of the beach to the north end--one handful at a time. We were impressed by his ambition, but ultimately had to bring the project to a halt when it was time to go home. What an amazing day. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bike Mechanics


It's never too early to learn how an Allen wrench works--especially if you're a small bike enthusiast. 

This weekend Zeke got a little practice in with this essential tool when he and Daddy raised his bike seat. Just a few quick turns here and there, and he was back out on the road. Man, that bike was a great purchase. He's already ridden that thing to death, and he's still got a couple notches to go until he outgrows it. Of course, he may never learn to ride a real bike, because he refuses to use pedals now--even on his trike--but whatever. I figure peer pressure will take care of that when the time comes. For now he's happy as a lark, burnin' around the neighborhood like a madman.  

Monday, January 12, 2009

Yo Quiero Pan


This is Zeke at the Monterey restaurant we ate at last weekend. He has already polished off the giant roll I allowed him to eat while waiting for his meal to arrive. And now, although he has a perfectly delicious array of chicken and vegetables right in front of him, and has been told by mommy and daddy that he can't have any more bread, he's taking one last shot with our server. No words--just a valiant attempt to communicate through telepathy and facial expressions...

"Come on man. Hook me up with one more of those rolls. Please. My parents don't have to know. Just put it on the window sill behind my seat. I'll grab it when they're not looking. You can have some of my chicken if you want..."

And to Zeke's credit, the server got the message loud and clear. 

"Would the leetle boy like some more bread? I can bring some. Ees no problem."

No sir. Thank you for the excellent service though. Most wait staff are not perceptive enough to pick up on Zeke's extra-sensory bread-acquisition efforts (lucky for us). 

Really nice guy though. We left him a big tip.

Note: Photo credits for this post and the last two go to Shanti. And just in case I forget in the future, it's safe to assume that any time you see a high-quality photo on this site, it came from my husband--not from me. And I swear, this is my last post about the aquarium visit. Really. The very last one.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bitey Bitey Thark


This picture is from last weekend at the Monterey Aquarium. Our amazing neighbors, the Fujiis, hooked us up with tickets for Christmas, so we decided to pounce on the first free day we had and scoot on down the coast for a visit with the sea creatures. 

The last time we went was a year ago, and although Zeke enjoyed parts of it, he was very scared of other parts, and overall probably would rather have avoided the entire experience. This time though, he was into the whole thing. Loved the fish, loved the otters, loved the Splash Zone where they let little kids play with plastic starfish and sea anemones. And we loved being there with him. I've never done the official guided museum tour where they outfit you with headphones and tell you what's going on in the tanks, but I can't imagine that it's half as entertaining as the toddler-guided tour. There are announcements, ("Look Mommy, that otter is licking his own butt!"-- shouted at a volume that ensured pretty much everyone in the aquarium knew about the butt-licking), there are warnings ("Tharks are very, very dangerous. They like to bite."), and there are tuna-alerts ("Tooo-naaaaah!" --every single time we saw a tuna). 

I was thinking we should actually record him and sell it to the aquarium so they could provide a fun, kid-specific option to the regular audio tour. Of course that would assume that the kids listening to the Zeke audio were in front of the right tanks at the right times, and that seems unlikely (maybe even impossible, since there was a lot of darting around). I'm guessing the most realistic outcome would be a bunch of kids shouting "Tooo-naaaaah! the whole way home in the car and a bunch of parents wondering who the heck was responsible for that stupid recording and how they might find those people and wring their necks.

So for now at least, Zeke's voiceover career remains on hold.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year!


To hat or not to hat? That is the question young Zeke was faced with on New Year's Eve at the Wagerman's party.

Ultimately he chose hat, and seemed pleased with it. Much more pleasing however was that he got to: 1) Stay up until midnight, 2) Play with the "big boys" all evening, 3) Have hot dogs and ice cream for dinner. 

We thought he'd be completely wiped out and super cranky the next day (we stayed overnight at the Wagermans to avoid a late-night drive home), but surprisingly he was fine. Got up early and quietly lurked in Lori's kitchen until someone gave him Corn Flakes and a banana.  

I don't think he made any resolutions, but he did decide to get a jump on next year's holidays by announcing Halloween costume assignments for 2009. Apparently he is going to be a white dinosaur, I am going to be a cat-dog (lucky me...not sure where I'll be picking up that costume), and daddy is going to be a zebra. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Truth Hurts

Ugh.

I know that even under the best circumstances my eating habits are less-than-perfect. And I am painfully aware that my pants are a little tighter in the wake of the month-long stuff-your-face bonanza that was the holidays. Still, a new diet was not at the top of my priority list for the new year. (That's not to say it wasn't on the list at all...it's always on the list...it just didn't have a big red star next to it.)  

Then yesterday, as Zeke was heading to bed, he gave me a big hug, then stopped, giggled, and exclaimed "Wow Mommy. Your tummy is sooooo big!"

Brutal. And no, I'm not pregnant for those of you who are wondering.

Consider the list revised. Stars, highlighting, and exclamation points now accompany the weight loss resolution. 

Thanks Zeke! 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jenna and Zadie


While we were having Christmas down in L.A., Zadie was having Christmas back at home with the Fujiis. This is her (on the right) and her not-so-good friend Jenna (the Fujii's dog) pretending to like each other for the sake of the photo. I don't know why these two can't get along better. Neither one has very many dog friends, but unfortunately there's a good reason for that--they both are severely lacking in social skills. They are the canine equivalents of the weird kids at high school...only they don't have the good sense to know they'd be better off forming an alliance. Anyway, this is their Christmas portrait, and they're still cute in spite of whatever their relationship may be lacking.