My Day Brightener.

17 Aug 11164247_10101245521109748_7020648165707884246_o

A daughter is a day brightener and a heart warmer. -unknown author

I made plans to take Margot to an outdoor children’s theater in Culver City this past Saturday, where they were putting on a show billed as “Harry Potter meets Hamlet.” I’d pack a picnic for us (with loads of olives, which mommy hates but Margot loves) and she’d hopefully absorb an appreciation for live performance via osmosis.

It wound up being 96 degrees that day, unfortunately. Sitting outside at midday in oppressive heat, chasing a toddler who couldn’t care less about Harry Potter, Hamlet, or basically anything I’d like her to do, was no longer my idea of a swell time. As it goes.

We regrouped and visited a shady park in Marina del Rey bright and early on Sunday morning. I thought it might be nice to take her on the WaterBus, which makes several stops around the marina. Turns out we’d arrived too early in the morning for that. Oh, well. Another time.

It was pretty perfect, though. Margot loved pointing out all the colors, the boats, the birds, the puppies, and the decorations left in the gazebo following someone’s birthday party. We spent a solid hour walking up and down and back and forth. She made my day.

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Margot Meets Her Grandma

13 Aug

“And they all said ’I’m sorry for your loss,’ as if you were someone who could ever be taken from me.” – Robert Brault

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A Shucker Born Every Minute

11 Aug 11883997_10101240620914778_1320956499693532908_o

On Sunday the Mar Vista Farmer’s Market turned 9. We go there just about every weekend anyway, but it was hard to resist the glorious pull of a pie bake-off and a watermelon seed-spitting contest. I also learned that CicLAvia (an annual “open streets” event in which main roads are blocked to cars and bicyclists, pedestrians, and skateboarders take to the streets to play and raise awareness for alternative transportation options) had a “hub” at the farmer’s market. CicLAvia is billed as the largest event of its kind in the states with some hundreds of thousands of people having participated. I thought it might be fun to spend the morning experiencing both. And it was.

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I decided to enter a shucking contest; you keep what you shuck. Free corn!

I decided to enter a shucking contest; you keep what you shuck. Free corn! Here’s Ann, ready to document my triumph.

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Friendship Isn’t a Big Thing…

10 Aug 11145103_10101239665274888_4747719806411080127_o

…it’s a million little things. -unknown

My dear friend Ann came to visit this past weekend. Ann and I have known one another for, oh, 12+ years. I think we met initially at a toga party in college, though we also maybe had a Political Science class together. In any case, she needed a roommate and I did, too. She was a fantastic roomie, thoughtful and attentive, and game to make lacy pancakes for everyone at 1 am on a Thursday night. It goes without saying that she’s a perfect house-guest, particularly for someone with an unhinged toddler scampering about. She carried groceries, helped with laundry, and even ate the tot’s leftover cut-up strawberries (you know, the ones Margot begged for but then promptly decided she didn’t want. Toddlers, man).

Little-known (?) fact about me? I often find it hard to talk to new people, and certainly to connect with them. I’m not necessarily shy, but I’m also not the brand of outgoing that makes people immediately warm to me and want to be in my circle. I tend to make friends slowly. Ann is a rare example of someone I met and connected with from the get-go. 

We spent Saturday afternoon at Tongva Park in Santa Monica. It’s a great multi-use urban space just a block or so from the beach, all clean lines and sustainable landscaping. Margot sure loved the splash pad.

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Forking Los Angeles, pt. 4: Ramen

4 Aug 11807372_10101235003427268_7079979678938930605_o

Ramen. Gluttony.

If those two words had you at hello, do continue reading.

Despite conventional wisdom, the West Los Angeles area has a lot of wonderful food spots. Nearby Sawtelle Japantown is probably the best of the best, and my personal favorite neighborhood for a bite to eat. Sushi. Korean BBQ. Shaved ice. Burgers. Bread pudding. You name it.

The best bowl of ramen I’ve ever had (and the best bowl to many, many people) can be found at Tsujita ANNEX, which operates across the street from the original Tsujita L.A. (I’ve never been to the latter, but it’s also supposed to be amazing). There’s always a wait, though it’s never so long that we ever think twice about standing around for a bit. The ramen at Tsujita ANNEX is that good.

Tsujita ANNEX specializes in tsukemen, or dipping noodles, served alongside the world’s richest, fullest, most delicious pork bone broth, so thick it coats your tongue. Think you like pork? You’ve not experienced it like this. Your bowl of tsukemen can come with things like a seasoned soft-boiled egg (a must!), fresh garlic, char sui (pork), veggies, nori, and onikasu (red chili powder). It’s simple: dip your noodles into the broth and enjoy. I like to have mine with a glass of iced matcha tea to balance out the porkiness.

We dine at ANNEX probably once a month or so. It’s affordable, the staff are among the friendliest I’ve seen, and it’s a nice spot to bring a small child (they serve the tot her ramen in adorable little plastic bowls with pandas and flowers on them). The place is small and is cash only (there’s an ATM in the restaurant, though).

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Let me win, but if I cannot win…

3 Aug 11794322_10101233985731738_2311899126211042926_o

…let me be brave in the attempt. – Special Olympics motto

Mike left for Greece last Thursday and he’ll be gone for roughly 6 1/2 weeks. I’m not as nervous about it as I was last year, when Margot was just a wee, not-yet-sleeping-through-the-night, thing. It’s a bummer, though, when you can’t turn to your partner and tell them about the lousy day you had. Turns out no one cares about the minutiae of my life but him.

He won’t be back until mid-September, so I find myself wishing the entire month of August away sometimes. That isn’t good. August is a nice month, sitting there smack dab in the middle of summer and full of outdoor movies and food trucks and swimming pools. Some people like this month a lot. Shouldn’t I try to be one of them?

I’ve plotted out six fun mommy/daughter activities, one for each weekend Mike’s away, to take advantage of all that sunshine. Most of them are free (or nearly free) and on our side of town. I included sports, art, books, music, animals, and movies. I tried to tailor it to things I’m sure Margot would enjoy.

First up? Special Olympics!

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The Special Olympics World Games were held in Los Angeles (the closing ceremony is today, actually) over the last couple of weeks, bringing some 6,500 athletes from 165 different countries to compete in 25 sports. It’s called 2015’s largest sports gathering.

I used to (ahem) dabble in volleyball, so as I perused the list of events taking place this past weekend it jumped right out at me. Margot and I waltzed into UCLA’s famed Pauley Pavilion (tickets to watch the games were free) and sat down in Peru’s cheering section to watch the women’s team take on Botswana in the gold medal match. I have a soft spot for Peru so this couldn’t have been more perfect. Margot loved watching the people cheer and chant. We had a blast. Peru won!

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On Not Writing / Midwest is Best (But I’m Not Biased or Anything)

21 Jul The view from my sister's house.

I keep thinking about writing a nice, long update. Every single day I think about it. Sundays happen and I say to myself “Tomorrow I’ll post a Margot Mondays.” Then Mondays go by and I say to myself “I should really have posted a Margot Mondays.” By now I’m used to these fleeting pangs of guilt.

I have to ask myself when writing became a second job (and one that I’m failing at miserably). Though I know it’s how I seem, and possibly even who I already am, I’m weary of becoming the New Mom Who Dropped Her Hobbies When Baby Came Along. It’s a hurtful cliché and not at all what I want for myself.

Instead I want to seize my free time triumphantly and pledge to bird and hike and practice yoga and write and maybe see a concert and drink nightly cups of jasmine green tea with my feet up. Trouble is that none of it rings true for me just now. I’m lucky to cobble together enough time for a quick workout or jog through the neighborhood, a few moments in the garden, and a couple of chapters of a good book each evening as I drift off to sleep.

That’ll have to be good enough for the time being.

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It’s been a hectic summer, even more so than I’d expected. We spent 10 wonderful days in Michigan and Indiana with family in mid-June, visited my dad outside Sacramento for the 4th of July holiday, and are gearing up to send Mike back to Greece for six weeks at the end of this month. This is all by way of saying that I really haven’t found time to reflect and decompress.

I’ll start at the beginning, with home:

The view from my sister's house.

The view from my sister’s house.

One of several lakes in my hometown.

One of several lakes in my hometown.

Us.

Us.

At the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.

At the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.

Also from my sister's house. It was nice to watch the storm roll in.

Also from my sister’s house. It was nice to watch the storm roll in.

My girl.

My girl.

We also held Margot's baptism in Indianapolis.

We also held Margot’s baptism in Indianapolis.

She wasn't a fan of any of this.

She wasn’t a fan of any of this…

But it was lovely all the same.

…But it was lovely all the same.

Our beach house on Lake Michigan.

Our beach house on Lake Michigan.

Steps to the beach.

Steps to the beach.

:)

:)

Happy anniversary!

Happy anniversary! 

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