Hermosa Beach

IMG_2698Going to the beach feels like a big undertaking. We live a good 30-60 minutes away (depending on which beach), and there’s always the curse of LA traffic to consider. On top of that, there are a million things you need to bring, and a million more if you have a baby. However! We decided to do it, and it was awesome! We had planned to meet our friends, Carmen and Jason and their sweet baby boy, at Manhattan Beach on Saturday morning, but then Eric accidentally discovered that the Manhattan Beach Volleyball Open was going on that weekend. Thank you, Twitter! We were so glad to have learned that in advance because this tournament is a BIG DEAL (like Kerri Walsh big deal), and a bunch of streets and parking garages were closed through the weekend. So, we decided to head a bit south to Hermosa Beach instead. We had never been there, but it was so nice!

Part of the plan was to get there as early as possible to beat the traffic. Micah did his part by waking up at 4:45am, wheee! We arrived and parked at about 9:20 in a lot right next to the pier. So easy! Our friends arrived around the same time, and we headed down to find a place to set up camp. There was so much open beach tent real estate, so we had a front row seat for the waves.

IMG_2693We ordered this beach tent for our adventures, and it was a great thing to have. The door flap (ha, I don’t know the technical term) folds down for extra non-sand seating, and it zips up so you can change clothes. Genius! That back mesh part also allows for a nice breeze. I was actually cold by the time we left. (Please note Micah’s crossed ankles. I will never get over how cute this is.)

IMG_2677How did the little tiger do? Well, he was not too interested in the sand, but he did like watching the waves. Was he interested in getting his tiny baby grape toes wet? No sir! But he was content to be held by mommy at the shoreline.

IMG_2687While Micah was playing with Eric I ran out to swim. The water was glorious, the warmest I’ve ever felt it in California. Jason came out at the same time, and we had a great time talking and ducking waves. I bobbed up and down and side to side with the current, and I laughed with glee like a toddler ever time I got smacked in the head by a huge wave. It’s hard to describe how much swimming in the ocean means to me. It makes me feel so deeply alive, and so grateful for being alive. It always makes me think of this verse from Psalms: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” It feels amazing to be a tiny dot in something that is so much bigger than I can possibly imagine, that works in ways I will never fully understand. I love that feeling of being completely surrounded by something so large and so good.

IMG_6969Aside from swimming, my favorite part of the day was the time I spent talking with Carmen as the waves rolled in. It is just. so. good. to talk to another mom about all the crazy adventures of baby-hood, and about how to find ourselves in them. On top of that, Carmen is a seriously incredible human being. So kind, so unfailingly generous, so brilliant. She is a lawyer for the ACLU, and I am so inspired by the work she does to fight injustice. I have so much to learn from her. And I hope I am not embarrassing her too much by saying all this. Thanks for being my friend, Carmen! (And thanks for taking this shot, Eric!)

IMG_6976After Eric took a dip, we were getting hungry, so we sent the menfolk off to pick up lunch while we rocked our babies. Micah was still asleep when they came back, so I ate a burger while rocking him. Stealth mom level 11! Eric got fruit as a side for his burger, so when Micah woke up, he happily feasted on “balls” (aka grapes; in continued adorableness, he calls everything round “ball.”)

IMG_6975Eric took one more dip, and I had planned to, but was just too cold! I was wearing this vintage suit that my awesome aunt Ellen found at an estate sale (I believe). I love it, right down to the handmade tag that proclaims “Original Rose Marie Reid of California Draped Sheath.” However, it’s made of a very thick fabric (no lycra in the 60s, I suppose), and it doesn’t dry very quickly. But I decided I’d had more than enough fun for one day, and that I’d be back. I have some family shots and a few more of Micah that I will put up on his baby blog this afternoon (fingers crossed). In conclusion: a grand time was had by all!

Gigantic Road Trip, Part the First: Las Vegas and St. George, Utah

So! This summer we set out to sail our trusty Honda east to Aspen. With our baby! This is the kind of thing that would have sounded a four-alarm crazy alert for me before I had Micah. Whyyyyyy would anyone do that?! And now I am happy to be able to answer my own question: because it is awesomely fun! It seriously went so well I am still pinching myself (and expecting the other travel shoe to drop on some future trip). I want to write all about it, and will probably do so in one thousand small installments while said baby is sleeping. Here goes!

Eric was actually out of town at a conference in Baton Rouge just before we left. He got back after midnight on May 21, and we left town early May 23. More fuel for the crazy fire! I did my best with pre-packing and list-making and laundry-doing while he was away, and then Blessed Saint Hillary came over to play with Micah on the 22nd while we packed and pre-loaded the car (thank you!!!!) It took about an hour on Saturday morning to get everything crammed in the car, and then we hit the road. We reached Vegas about lunch time, and it was, true to legend, a bizarre adult fairy land rising up out of nowhere in the desert. It was also kind of stressful trying to find a place to eat on the go, where we wouldn’t have to pay for valet parking or pawn our jewelry to pay for some sort of gold-encrusted filet mignon (only 40% kidding). We finally found a decent sandwich place, which was unfortunately contaminated by the smoke from an old school steakhouse several doors down, one that the Rat Pack had frequented. On the other side of our sandwich shop, which was staffed by an innocent-looking teenager, was a plus-size strip club, complete with black-clad limo drivers idling out front. It was a bit of a weird experience! But the sandwiches were good, and we went on our merry way. Micah left a trail of cracker crumbs behind him.

IMG_1099We wove our way up past the golf course that is Mesquite, Nevada and into beautiful Utah: red rock as far as the eye could see. We had never been to Utah, and we fell in love right away. I provided all the seedy Vegas detail above not to judge, but to highlight our hilarious cultural whiplash at arriving in one of the most family-friendly places we’ve ever been: huge downtown playground, 20 high chairs at every restaurant. We felt out of place for only having one child!

IMG_1096This was the view from our quaint little hotel. The auto shop is not super scenic, but gives some idea of high those rocks are, towering over the city.

IMG_1095Someone was very excited to be out of the car and made a beeline for the forbidden zone of the bathroom.

IMG_1098There was a lot of public art downtown, including this rather fabulous shoe.

IMG_1110But this was my favorite part of St. George. There was a carousel, and we had never taken Micah on one, but we decided to give it a try. We thought it might scare him, but…he laughed uproariously the whole time! It was one of the most joyful moments of my life, for sure. There’s nothing better than seeing your child happy.

IMG_1118This tiny angel gives St. George his stamp of approval!

The Dream List

IMG_1612I’ve been thinking a lot lately about bucket lists. This summer we visited *three* amazing national parks that I learned about in my undergrad geology class. I never imagined I would get to see those incredible places in person, and it’s inspired me to dream big and bigger. It’s so true that if we don’t let ourselves imagine things, we’ll never let ourselves do them. When I was working my way through The Artist’s Way a few years ago (one of the best things I ever did for myself, BTW; ever so highly recommended!), a lot of the exercises were about imagining and visualization. What would I do with a day that suddenly became free? A magical two weeks of paid vacation? Where would I want to live if I could live anywhere? What kind of house would it be? How would I spend my free time if I had an endless supply of it? I had so much fun imagining the window seats and sunny kitchens and wildflowers, the bazaars of Istanbul and the spices of Morocco and the mysteries of all the languages I had yet to learn. There’s a power in it, and a beautiful connection to the world within us and the world around us. When it comes down to it, that’s what creativity really is. (And I have been having so much fun putting together a future talk on this topic, heavily peppered with big ideas from my favorite Russians).

Eric’s mom has a bucket list, and I think that is so awesome. She recently went to France by herself on a pilgrimage, and it was her first time abroad. How amazing is that! What an adventurous lady she is, and an inspiring one too. After reading a bit about bucket lists in a library book and pondering all the fun things I’ve been able to do and all the ones that I hope lie ahead of me, I’ve started putting together my own list. I’m calling it my dream list because I just like the ring of it. It’s so much fun!! It’s sort of like being at this amazing buffet of life, and thinking, “Yes, I’ll try that, and, ohh, that looks good, and, oh definitely, I can find some room on my plate for that too!” It makes me feel like I’m living more fully, and that is a gift, even if it takes me some years to tackle anything on the list. So, here’s what I’ve got so far, in no particular order, broken up by pictures of pretty things:

IMG_16801) Visit all 50 states (I think I’ve been to 27 or so thus far). (Update: it’s actually 31! Only 19 to go!)

2) See all the National Parks. Woohoo! There are 408 locations in the National Park Service (59 of them are National Parks), so this will take me a while. And that’s to say nothing of the National Forest Service and State and Regional Parks as well!

3) Learn Turkish. And maybe even Ottoman Turk. This is a big dream and one I’ve made some progress on, but it’s fallen by the wayside for a while. I’d love to pick it up again in the future.

4) Climb a mountain. I think I did this once on a family vacation when I was in early high school? But it’s been so long!

5) Hike a big trail. I’m definitely not ready for the whole Appalachian Trail or anything. But I’d love to train and do some day hiking and maybe even work my way up to a bit of backpacking.
6) Go camping. I never camped much growing up, and my girl scout troop always stayed in cabins. So I would like to really sleep under the stars!

IMG_18697) Swim with the sea turtles again. Holy wow, this was one of the most beautiful experiences of my entire life. I would love to get back to Hawaii (or anywhere else they live!) and glide along with these majestic creatures again. (Also…I will tack on the Great Barrier Reef here because…gorgeous).

8) Learn how to embroider. I can cross-stitch pretty well, but I would really like the learn the stitches of free-hand embroidery. It’s so pretty!

9) Take a pottery class. I did a bit of pottery with my cousin at Montreat when I was in high school, and I cannot get this fantasy of shaping clay on a porch by a lake on a rainy day out of my head. Oh yeah, this is a very specific fantasy.

10) Go to Natchitoches with my Dad. This is the little river town in Louisiana where my Dad was born. They have pretty lights over the river at Christmas, and they are famous for their meat pies, and I have never had one. My Dad has been writing a lot about his childhood on his blog (which is so, so, so sweet), and it has really made me want to experience this special place with him.

11) Develop good posture. Hoo boy, this one will probably take a lifetime. I slouch. It is not good for me. I have been through a bunch of physical therapy for my back troubles, and it is all so preventable if I just do the stuff I learned there. (As a side note, I wonder why it is so hard to do the little things that will improve our health? I *just* started wearing sunscreen every day, and I’m 32. Better late than never, but still! I would like to put all of our wonderful modern knowledge about health and the body to good use).

12) Read some giant novels. I will probably never stop lamenting that my awesome book club read all of Proust right before I met them all and joined the group. I have made it about halfway through the second volume, but I had trouble getting into it (honestly, after reading an awful lot of Dostoevsky, Proust’s narrator just seemed so…whiny. But I shall persevere!) There is nothing I love more than a big fat novel, so I want to tackle a bunch of them. Anyone have suggestions?

IMG_129213) *Really* learn how to sew. I am a sewing dilettante, but I have some great reference guides and e-courses to walk me through it. This one will probably not be tackled in full until the kids are bigger and I have some free time and detail-space in my brain, but I am looking forward to it. Sewing patterns, you shall no longer be a mystery to me!

14) Learn botanical sketching and painting. We are so lucky to have the Huntington Gardens here in Pasadena, and Hillary gave us a free membership!!! They frequently have events and classes on botanical drawing and painting, and it just looks so awesome to me. The level of detail is stunning, and I really want to be able to capture all the bewildering beauty of the world around us.

15) Learn oil painting. I have the supplies, and I have dabbled a bit, but this one requires a bit more planning and time.

16) Read around the world. I heard about this blog a few years ago and have become really intrigued by the idea (and impressed!) This woman read one book from each country, with great recommendations from locals. She includes a list of all the books she considered, and the one that she read. I want to do this! I know a lot about Russian literature, but there are so many other literary traditions about which I know nothing at all. I am ready to armchair travel to Japan and China and India!

17) Take a hip hop/modern dance class. The older I get, the better it feels to really move my body. I love to dance, and I think this would be so much fun.

18) Go white water rafting! This has all the makings of a fantastic and slightly terrifying adventure!

So, that’s what I’ve got so far. Pretty please, tell me what’s on your dream list! I love comparing notes on this endlessly fun stuff.

 

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