The Stash

13 Nov Letter I wrote to Seventeen Magazine and never sent (haha!), letters from friends, senior picture where I look like Aunt Becky from Full House, and two prom pics. Yep, I was the prom queen.

Take care of your memories, for you cannot relive them. – Bob Dylan

We all have one of these, right? A shoe box-full of memories (if you’ll allow me the cliché) tucked into a closet somewhere. To make way for Margot’s stuff in our closet, I recently pulled mine down and moved it to a shelf on my nightstand. I couldn’t resist sifting through it last night.

I’ve kept so many things. Newspaper clippings. Ticket stubs. Ridiculous photos from high school. Lots of it seemed important then and very much still is. Other things make me laugh because, really, why did I feel the need to keep a letter from a friend in sixth grade about how cute Scott Wolf is? If nothing else, it reminds me that at one time I sat and thought about how cute Scott Wolf was.

My husband doesn’t love my shoe box because it contains the dreaded letters from ex-boyfriends. I pull out dozens of letters from HIM in there, of course, but he doesn’t get it. Why keep that stuff? It certainly isn’t because I miss those days or want that boyfriend back in my life in any way, shape, or form. I just like the reminder of my former self. These letters are also good for an occasional dramatic reading (which Mike does love).

Souvenirs  from England: Mary Poppins in the West End, Harry Potter 4 in Newcastle, Belle & Sebastian, etc...

Souvenirs from England: Mary Poppins in the West End, Harry Potter 4 in Newcastle, Belle & Sebastian, etc…

Crufts in Nottingham. I'll never forget walking into a warehouse space full of pugs.

Crufts in Nottingham. I’ll never forget walking into a warehouse space full of pugs.

Souvenirs from France: Louvre guide, Metro passes, train ticekts

Souvenirs from France: Louvre guide, Metro passes, train tickets

Love letters to/from Mike.

Love letters to/from Mike.

In 8th grade our English teacher asked us to write down one nice thing about each person in our class and then compiled everything and gave it to us for Christmas.  It was nice.

In 8th grade our English teacher asked us to write one nice thing about each person in our class and then compiled everything and gave it to us for Christmas. It still makes me feel good, though I love the person who stretched themselves to come up with “..has nice hair?”

A letter from my grandma and grandpa, letting me know how happy they were that I got to visit Paris. Also: wedding table sign and bachelorette party photo.

Letter from my grandma and grandpa letting me know how happy they were that I got to visit Paris. Also: wedding table sign, bachelorette party photo, and sign we made to put on the “in remembrance” altar at our wedding.

Letter I wrote to Seventeen Magazine and never sent (haha!), letters from friends, senior picture where I look like Aunt Becky from Full House, and two prom pics. Yep, I was the prom queen.

Letter I wrote to Seventeen Magazine and never sent (haha!), letters from friends, senior picture where I look like Aunt Becky from Full House, and two prom pics. Yep, I was the prom queen.

Work stuff: old schedule from when I worked at the library in college, brochure I made for my MA degree, the speech I wrote for our exhibit opening, and a brochure I wrote in a previous job.

Work stuff: old schedule from when I worked at the library in college, brochure I made for my MA degree, the speech I wrote for our exhibit opening, and a brochure I wrote in a previous job.

What kinds of things to you keep?  Why keep them?

And here’s a clip of my favorite use of “stash:”

Margot Mondays – Story Time and Craft class

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Mike and I live in university housing and, you know, it has its definite minuses. It’s sterile. The carpeting is a kind of wonky Berber Blue. It’s on the third floor and there’s no elevator (which has made carrying a 20+ lb child and groceries/laundry a near impossibility). I could go on.

And yet there are some really, really good things, too. For one, we live in a lovely (read: expensive) neighborhood in Los Angeles, one where 2-3 bedroom homes go for $1.6 million and 1,000 sq.ft apartments rent for upwards of $3,000/month. Our rent is roughly half of that for the same size. RESOUNDING PLUS.

We also have our own garden plot, a yoga center with free fitness classes for residents, Easter and Halloween festivals with free food trucks, bouncy castles, and magicians, the city’s best donut shop within two blocks, a pool, multiple playgrounds, and a private garage. Tomorrow there’s a free basketball clinic for children of all ages. What self-respecting Hoosier would miss out on that?

One of the best things is that our nanny can take Margot to Story Time and Craft class, especially for babies, every Wednesday afternoon. I LOVE Wednesdays because I know that, at some point in the afternoon, Nanny will text me all kinds of photos of Margot getting into mischief with paint and crayons or (and this is rare) simply sitting quietly and listening to the Lady Who Tells Stories.

Margot has been to maybe six sessions so far and class has already made a mark on her. The other day Nanny told me she mentioned to Margot that after her nap she’ll get to go to Story Time. Margot then toddled off to her bedroom, pulled “A Snowy Day” off her bookshelf, and brought it to Nanny to read to her. Lately all she wants to do (aside from opening the kitchen cabinets and dragging out the Tupperware) is read books. This morning as I was getting ready for work she brought me two and, so far today, Mike tells me they’ve read three.

All of this has been a huge relief for us. When we decided that we were going to go the nanny route and not the daycare route, we had all these fears that Margot wouldn’t have opportunities to make friends or interact with other children, and we worried that maybe she’d miss out on scheduled classroom instruction, which apparently is a real thing that parents insist on for their babies.  Would she be ready for preschool?

We think the answer is yes.

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October has come and gone.

4 Nov

Here’s how we spent our days:

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Moroccan-themed dinner party at our dear friend Kate’s house. We made carrot and quinoa salad and date truffles.

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Pumpkin patch visit.

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Daddy/daughter time.

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She tried to eat all the pumpkins. All of them.

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Family date night, topped off with some tiramisu.

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Corn maze with my girl.

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Slimy pumpkin seeds.

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A pit stop to water our garden before the Halloween festivities.

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Our two-pumpkin family is now a three-pumpkin family.

Margot Mondays – Working on our night cheese.

20 Oct

The last few Margot Mondays posts were a little heavy, so here’s an antidote for seriousness.

Each day I come home from work, set my purse down, take off my shoes, wash my hands, and scoop up my daughter. We hug for a few moments. I ask her if she had a fun day: Can you tell mama all about your fun day? She claps and chatters away. After a minute or two she starts wiggling in my arms to get down and I know that’s my cue.

My cue for cheese.

I put her down and she follows me to the fridge. I pull out a little piece of extra sharp cheddar and sit on the living room floor.  I ask her if she’s ready for our “night cheese.”  We split our night cheese. One small bite for her, one bigger bite for mommy. I always give her the last little bite, show her my empty hands, and say “all done!”

And then it’s time to go for our walk, play on the swings, and water the garden.

My night. Each and every time.

Margot Mondays: Dear Margot

6 Oct

Now that Margot’s personality is emerging in full-force and we’re past the panic! stage of having a newborn,  it’s becoming easier to imagine navigating the rest of what being a parent entails: rules, discipline, guidance, decisions about schooling and cell phones and dating. All are coming down the pipeline. All will be here before we know it.

Beyond those issues, though, are other, more complicated thoughts.

Dear Margot,

Your dad and I are not perfect, despite how badly we wish we were. We are feeling this out as we go. We’ll try very hard to get it right. We’ll show up each and every day. There are a bunch of things we don’t know, though, and we’ll have to work together (the three of us) to figure it all out:

  • How to teach you to be open to new experiences and trusting of others without being naive, unprepared, or victimized.
  • How to show kindness and generosity without being taken advantage of.
  • How to work hard, use elbow grease, and “practice makes perfect” without devoting precious time to things that don’t make you happy. Life’s too short.
  • How to tell the truth at all times, except for the times when to do so would be to needlessly, brutally hurt feelings.
  • How to be resourceful and independent, but to always know that Mom and Dad are here to offer you a safe place to land.
  • How to love fully and openly, get your heart broken, and do it all again, all the while knowing (and never questioning) your value.
  • How to make friends and fit in without ever compromising your values or resorting to cruelty.
  • How to change the world but be at total peace with your role in it, no matter what you choose to be or how much you make.
  • How to be humble and down-to-earth despite being raised by your parents, who think that you’re, like, only the best thing to ever walk the face of the planet.

Love,

Mom and Dad

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Processing the writing process.

1 Oct

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. – Octavia Butler

I’ve had a lot of new blog followers over the recent weeks, and that’s fantastic! Welcome! I hope I can simultaneously manage to be real without oversharing, energetic without straight up lying to you (I’m tired!), friendly without the saccharine, “truthy” without sanctimony, and inspiring without making you all roll your eyes and eventually hate me.

I’ve been writing here since…2011…I think? My stats tell me that people think my posts about travel and photography are swell, are mildly interested in recipes (although that baked buffalo wing post is killing it on Pinterest), and love reading about my family. Most people stumble upon my blog whilst searching for famous quotes, as above, or, and this amuses me, because they’re looking for a photo of SpongeBob crying or Homer Simpson drooling. Occasionally people find me because they’ve lost a parent and are looking for support. That’s something I’m proud of (and if you’re here for that reason I’m giving you virtual hugs).

I enjoy looking at these kinds of things, but I admit that I don’t let them persuade me in what I write. Very few people read my post about tutoring a little boy in Indianapolis, but it remains one of my favorite pieces of writing. My post on art and design in Lima, Peru was Freshly Pressed, but as I look back on it I wish I’d done it a bit differently.

Abel Bentin exhibit in Lima, Peru. If you came here looking for vaguely threatening ice cream cones, I've got you covered.

Abel Bentin exhibit in Lima, Peru. If you came here looking for vaguely threatening ice cream cones, I’ve got you covered. This piece is called “I don’t believe in Guilt.”

All this has had me thinking, though, about how I write. Like, how do I decide what to talk about? And then how do I put idea to keyboard?

Honestly it varies. In the olden days of Loni Found Herself I’d plan weekend trips with the very idea of taking photographs and writing about my experiences. I had a lot of fun doing that, too, but then it felt like I wasn’t really absorbing the experience so much as documenting it. Around the time I had Margot I read an article imploring women, especially, to put down the cameras and phones, stop recording every moment of their child’s life, and actively participate in those moments. What’s more important? Having photos of your child so that they can have memories or actually being a part of those memories? Will Margot remember me as the mom who stood off to the side taking pictures of her swimming, or will she remember me as the mom who jumped into the pool with her?

So now I write less about outings (though I still do from time to time) and more about, well, other stuff. Really, whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes the idea comes to my head and I mull it over for a few days. Sometimes I sit down intending to write one thing and, through the course of typing, it turns into something else entirely. Like this post. I thought it would be a list of my favorite pieces of writing from my blog. You can see where it maybe could have gone in that direction, just after the paragraph about tutoring and Peru.

Is this blog any good? I hope so.

And, more than that, I hope it’s getting better.

 

A Basic Girl who loves fall.

29 Sep Image via Glitter Guide.

This is, what, the third or fourth year I’ve put together an “I LOVE FALL” blog post, writ large. And, heaven help me, here I go again.

In photos, this fall I will be:

Cooking: wild rice and mushroom soup

Wild rice and mushroom soup photo and recipe via America's Test Kitchen.

Wild rice and mushroom soup photo and recipe via America’s Test Kitchen.

Baking: French apple cake

French apple cake recipe and photo via For the Feast.

French apple cake recipe and photo via For the Feast.

Eating: Is this a trick question? In addition to the above, I’ll be eating:

Apple cider donut photo and recipe via Everyday Occasions by Jenny Steffens Hobick

Apple cider donut photo and recipe via Everyday Occasions by Jenny Steffens Hobick

Drinking: It’s never too early for Egg Nog.

Egg nog photo and recipe via Dashing Dish.

Egg nog photo and recipe via Dashing Dish.

Playing: Scopa!

Photo by me!

Photo by me!

Watching: My bouncing baby transition from infant to toddler.

She loves her ball.

She loves her ball.

Wearing: I don’t know. I have this marigold-yellow scarf I love and get lots of compliments on. So probably that.

Yellow!

Yellow!

Making: Loads and loads of tissue flowers for Margot’s first birthday party!

Writing: Did you know that I’m writing a book? I’ll keep at it this fall.

When I write I do not look this glamorous. Image via Lovely Indeed.

When I write I do not look this glamorous. Image via Lovely Indeed.

Daydreaming about: Christmas and seeing family and friends in the Midwest for the first time in two years.

Kitty snuggles at my in-laws' house in 2012.

Kitty snuggles at my in-laws’ house in 2012.

Celebrating: Margot’s first birthday! Can you tell I’m excited? I’ve never had the chance to plan a party for someone, let alone someone so dear to me.

Image via Glitter Guide.

Image via Glitter Guide.

Loving: Our brand new car.

Zoom zoom. Image via Yahoo Autos.

Zoom zoom. Image via Yahoo Autos.

Carving: How weird would it be if I wrote something other than “pumpkins” here? Like, maybe I’ll take up whittling.

Taken Halloween 2013, before we knew Margot was a she but after we knew baby would probably cry all the time.

Taken Halloween 2013, before we knew Margot was a she but after we knew baby would probably cry all the time.

Doing: Lots of Thanksgiving dishes, putting together our new garden, and our family Christmas photos at a tree farm in Apple Hill, California:

Image via me!

Image via me!

Lighting: the Christmas tree. We put ours up just after Thanksgiving.

One of Mike's favorite ornaments. The Tin Man.

One of Mike’s favorite ornaments. The Tin Man.

Going: To the Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum this very weekend. What could be better as we lead up to Halloween?

Painting: …vicariously through Bob Ross. I love watching the Create channel and they show The Joy of Painting often.

I found this handy chart on FiveThirtyEight.

I found this handy chart on FiveThirtyEight.

Reading: I’m currently wrapping up a reread of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I’m now on Return of the King.

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