Dreaming big

18 Sep

Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them. – John Updike

Lately I’ve spent time dreaming about my life and what I want from it. Perhaps it’s because I’m 33 and rapidly approaching middle-age. Or maybe it’s because my baby daughter is almost a year old, as sure a reminder of the passage of time as anything else I’ve experienced.

What do I want for my family? What do I want professionally? Most importantly, what do I want for myself?

In the short-term, I’m working on:

  • Running a 5k. I’ve lost 12 lbs in the last three months and I’m enrolled in another boot camp class. I feel energized and ready to take on new challenges. Running is my final frontier.
  • Writing a manuscript. It’s a closely guarded secret that I’ve always wanted to be a writer. At any given time I’m cultivating several ideas, none of which are probably any good. I have no expectations of success with this, I just really want to put something down on paper that I can be proud of. In the last few days I’ve fleshed out 11 chapters. It’s time.
  • My 10-year wedding anniversary. In August 2015 we’ll celebrate 10 years together. The years have been simultaneously effortless and back-breaking, and we work hard at moving forward in the same direction. I’d like to celebrate that with a trip and a vow renewal for just the three of us. Something heartfelt and honest. Our wedding wasn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d always envisioned myself getting married in front of a fireplace somewhere, just closest family and friends present. We’ve decided to celebrate 10 years over Christmas so that I can have the fireplace this time around.

But what’s bigger than a list of New Year’s resolutions, things like running, writing, and anniversaries? What’s bigger than a desire to visit Disneyland soon, or to restore the chest I’ve inherited? Bigger than even a new house or a car?

Where does my mind go when I think about myself at 63?

In the long-term my thoughts are jumbled together. Do I want to retire to France and live in a tiny flat in a quiet arrondissement? Or is it Rome, where Mike wants to settle? Or do we build roots somewhere in the space between, maybe in the countryside so that Margot and her children can run around barefoot, making messes and being noisier than we’re used to? We’ll set aside time for things like canoeing and gardening. Maybe Mike will learn to sketch a passable portrait and maybe I’ll finally get around to making my own cheese.

Or maybe it’s the other dream. The one where Mike and I open a little cafe in a small town. We’ll sell freshly made pasta, jars of red sauce, bread, cheese (always cheese!), olive oil, chocolate, tea, coffee, and wine, and maybe have a few tables and chairs so that people can order sandwiches and visit with one another. In his spare time Mike will run for a minor political office and I’ll take time off and do a Big Year, boarding planes to parts unknown in search of an elusive warbler of some kind. We’ll both walk Margot down the aisle and only Mike will know that I spent the entire morning weeping about letting her go.

Where to?

Where to?

Thoughts on a Wednesday

10 Sep

It’s almost fall! We’ve even had a smattering of “rain” on my side of the city. This “rain” was more like how it feels to walk through the Rain Forest room at a zoo (with all that gentle mist they spray on the plants), but that’s what sometimes passes for changing seasons around here and I take what I can get.

Mike will be home soon, and I’m so glad. These seven weeks have been hectic and tiring, but also wonderful. My mettle has been tested and I’m proud of what’s been revealed. I’m so thankful that Margot is my daughter. I tell her that every single day and I mean it.

Yes, we made a little mommy-daughter world for ourselves, figured out what worked, and bonded in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Now I have to share that with Mike again, which is a good thing but also a little bittersweet for me if I’m being honest. She crawls around the apartment after me, bellowing “mom-mom-mom” now. Lately she’s been teething and sometimes she wakes up at 1 am or 2 am or 4 am and just wants a quick, tight hug and to be rocked for five minutes. It’s like maybe a piece of her missed me, even in sleeping. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when the going gets rough.

Mike needs to have those moments, too, and he shall have them.

In addition to the crawling, cruising, clapping, pointing out toes and noses, peek-a-boo, friend-making, and playing, we also:

Learned to stand on our own two feet in more ways than one.

Learned to stand on our own two feet in more ways than one.

We hung out with family.

Hung out with family.

We said goodbye to "baby" things.

Outgrew our “baby” things.

We missed Daddy.

Missed Daddy.

Had fun.

Had fun.

Palmiers: Two Ways

3 Sep Lay your puff pastry out and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Flatten a bit with a rolling pin, and then roll both sides in toward the middle. Pop back in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set and then slice.

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” – Julia Child

Have you guys seen this auto-tuned PBS ode to Julia Child? I was watching the Create channel (my favorite) one evening while folding laundry and I had to stop and do a double-take. What in the world was I watching!?

Brilliance, that’s what:

 

Which brings me back to food. French food, in particular.

The easiest dessert in the world to make, the palmier, is also one of the fanciest looking. All you need is puff pastry, some cinnamon and sugar, and whatever else floats your boat, topping-wise. The trick is in the folding.

Prep your station: roll out your thawed (but still firm) puff pastry on a work surface dusted in cinnamon and sugar.

Prep your station: roll out your thawed (but still firm) puff pastry on a work surface dusted in cinnamon and sugar. Playing with your food first is optional but recommended.

Lay your puff pastry out and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Flatten a bit with a rolling pin, and then roll both sides in toward the middle. Pop back in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set and then slice.

Lay your puff pastry out and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Flatten a bit with a rolling pin, and then roll both sides in toward the middle. Pop back in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set and then slice. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.

See how darling they are? Not too sweet and perfect served warm with coffee or tea.

See how darling they are? Not too sweet and perfect served warm with coffee or tea. On Christmas morning these would kill.

There’s all kinds of variations to this. Add nutella, pumpkin puree, chocolate chips, or orange zest. You can even, you know, make the puff pastry yourself.  But that’s kind of hard to do.  Julia Child could do it.

But there’s more!

How about a savory version?

Here we have puff pastry topped with pesto, pine nuts, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. Again, just roll the sides in toward the middle, chill for 15 minutes or so, slice, and bake.

Here we have puff pastry topped with pesto, pine nuts, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. Again, just roll the sides in toward the middle, chill for 15 minutes or so, slice, and bake.

Voila!

Voila! People will think you are classy and accomplished.

 

 

Margot Mondays – they just come out

1 Sep

As I imagine Margot growing up – her first day of Kindergarten, the first time she goes to a friend’s house for a sleepover, her first part-time job – I find it hard not to think about my own experiences and project them onto her.

I was painfully shy as a kid. Bookish. Quiet. Obedient. I can remember each and every time I ever got in trouble, all for minor infractions, and I can count them on one hand. It’s easy to picture my daughter, who looks remarkably like me (strangers stop me in the supermarket to tell me this), navigating a childhood that is also remarkably similar to my own. It’s easy to invent a world in which I coach her through these things in the way that I would have wanted my mother to coach me.

But I know that to do this would be a mistake. Margot’s path is not my path. She will have hopes and dreams, fears and worries, and loves and losses that are entirely Margot and not Loni. She will need me to be the kind of mother she needs and not the kind of mother I needed. There’s an important distinction there.

When I was about eight months pregnant we were talking to our therapist about how we’d parent our child. She said something that stuck: “They just come out.” You can provide them with opportunities and experiences, expose them to nature, sports, and healthy eating, teach them to share and be productive, contributing members of society. But they are who they are. They just come out.

Though she’s just nine months old, I can tell you that my daughter is bold, willful, and so, so clever. She’s a little tornado. A wonderful, destructive tornado. It is the God’s honest truth that I would have her no other way.

She is not shy. She is not quiet.

She is my wonderful Margot.

Margot doesn't seem to have a shy bone in her body. Unlike her mother.

Margot doesn’t seem to have a shy bone in her body. Unlike her mother.

 

Margot Mondays – nine months

18 Aug 10570401_10100983183506408_7180227527097225609_n

Margot will be nine months old on Friday.

Nine. Months. Old.

It’s hard to recall what life was like before she came into our lives. On the one hand nine months is a blip, yet on the other it feels like she’s simply always been.

What we’ve been doing lately:

Our elephant/water baby.

Our elephant/water baby.

Making friends goes two ways. Margot meets other babies, we meet other parents. Hopefully someone hits it off.

Making friends goes two ways. Margot meets other babies, we meet other parents.

What we were doing nine months ago:

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A Halloween House.

10570401_10100983183506408_7180227527097225609_n

Mike the Swaddle King.

And what we were doing nine months before that:

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Mike studied more.

We cheered on our Hoosiers.

We cheered on our Hoosiers.

And what we were doing nine months before that, even:

I was in Peru!

I was in Peru!

Cusco.

Cusco.

Whale-watching in Redondo.

Whale-watching in Redondo.

 

Margot Mondays – girls just want to have fun

11 Aug Margot enjoyed the park.

Margot and I had a wonderful week together last week. Though Wednesday was a slog to get through (having just learned how to pull up and crawl, all she wanted to do was stand up, topple over, and bang her head on the 1% of the coffee table we’re unable to baby-proof), we eventually hit our stride. In fact, leaving for work this morning was really tough. I felt like maternity leave was ending all over again, watching her sad little face as I waved goodbye and walked out the front door.

I’m so thankful that I got to be there to see several milestones. Crawling was a huge one. There’s also clapping, waving goodbye, and dancing now. I was able to take videos and send them to Mike, too, and we even had a couple of nice Skype sessions with him.

We had two swim lessons and a pool party visit with Kate.

We had two swim lessons and a pool party visit with Kate.

We made homemade chocolate chip cookies.

We made homemade chocolate chip cookies and Mommy ate them all.

We created a Toy Tableau.

We created a Toy Tableau.

We went on a tea date to our favorite local coffee shop and split a spinach quiche.

We went on a tea date to our favorite local coffee shop and split a slice of spinach and feta quiche.

We cuddled.

We cuddled.

Margot enjoyed the park.

We played at the park.

I made Margot parsnips, apricots, and pears from the farmer's market.

I made Margot parsnips, apricots, and pears from the farmer’s market.

I told her about Jake Ryan.

I told her about Jake Ryan.

We went on a date to the Hammer Museum.

We went on a date to the Hammer Museum.

 

 

We’ve got it ‘Made in L.A.’

10 Aug Kim Fisher

Long time no write, huh?

Mike buggered off to Greece two weeks ago today and will be gone for another five weeks.  Yep. Two weeks down, only five more weeks to go. Somehow that particular landmark doesn’t seem very reassuring.

I decided to take a week off work last week, the first full week I’ve ever had off of any job in my entire life where I wasn’t traveling somewhere. Really I just wanted to spend that extra time with Beaner Schnitzel, just in time to see her avail herself of several new skills: crawling, pulling up, cruising, waving, clapping, and being super cute (and super tiring) in general. She can also go down slides (with assistance) and ride mini merry-go-rounds. It’s been quite a week!

But more on that later.

For now I thought I’d share some snaps from our mother/daughter date to the ‘Made in L.A. 2014‘ exhibit at the Hammer Museum. Recall that the last time I visited the Hammer was to see a design exhibit with my friend Denise. It’s a great space with a solid, albeit inconsistent, cafe (sometimes your salad comes with real shaved Parmesan and sometimes with, like, powdery stuff). Admission is free and parking is a measly $3/hour. In L.A. that’s saying something. Plus, you know, Art. I particularly wanted to see ‘Made in L.A’ when I saw this in the Los Angeles Times:

Speaking of gender, the show stands out in another way: This may be the first major biennial exhibition anywhere in recorded history that features more art by women than by men. Given the oft-repeated statistic that more women than men go to art school and become artists, that makes simple sense.  – Christopher Knight

That’s fantastic.

Here’s the thing: I want Margot to grow up being perfectly at home in museums. I want her to have a memory of these experiences situated so deeply in her being that she can’t ever remember it not being there. She doesn’t have to love the arts like I do. Of course not. My hope is that she can at least understand and appreciate what others have made and maybe even find the thing, whether it’s art, performance, music, etc…, that speaks to her, too. I also want her to have fun spending time with Mom and enjoying her city.

So what about the show? Well, I was there with aforementioned 8-month-old, so I didn’t get to absorb the galleries in the way I wanted to. Some things struck a chord with me, some things didn’t. And that’s fine. It’s all a matter of personal taste and I’m not above admitting that my palate isn’t as finely tuned to contemporary art as it is to other things. I’m far more at home in an anthropology or history museum. I just am. I leave criticism to the critics, in other words, and simply enjoy.

We begin.

We begin.

The Hammer asks patrons to use post-its to express what L.A. means to them...

The Hammer asks patrons to use post-its to express what L.A. means to them… I did not make this, but liked it.

The courtyard and cafe.

The courtyard and cafe.

Vote for Art.

Vote for Art.

 

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