Friday, July 21, 2017

In the Heat of Summer

We're melting right into summer over here, just as I intended to, minus canned margaritas in the beach cooler and surfing Trestles until dark. We've walked on hot asphalt to the beach and peered through gates at neighborhood Memorial Day parties. We've grown and picked tomatoes. We've killed strawberry and cilantro plants and sat in traffic on Highway 1. The plumerias are blooming. We're doing the summer reading program at the library (The Clifford series and a non-fiction book about going to the doctor's office being highlights for some). We're carrying on with everything we usually do along with the wild anticipation of a baby growing all around us like vines (or in my case, growing inside of me like an alien dramatically threatening to displace my skeletal structure forever). 

I think sometimes the tortures of a certain season are what make it seem more magical in retrospect, though. Wondering if you've given a sibling frostbite while forcing her to become a snow-woman? What a great way to look back on The Winter of '96 once it's gone! 

I always picture this one scene in Father of the Bride where Mr. Banks narrates something about it being the hottest summer on record all while a shot of the neighborhood kids frying an egg on the concrete pans past. I've longed to experience that quintessential summer day with the sun so hot it was actually cooking raw dairy products in front of my eyes, but in actuality I think the only thing desirable about that occurrence is the story that comes from it.

One summer I remember walking barefoot, in an attempt to "summerize" my feet, from my friend's house with 5, 280 feet of steaming black asphalt between it and the beach. Truly a phenomenal location if the right footwear is chosen. I had blisters so bad I had to crawl to the front door to answer it when the same friend came to visit me. 

Avalon and I have been heating our oven to 350º or 400º everyday even when making popsicles. The struggle of being eight months pregnant while whisking away at chili cornbread has its perks. For one, it gives you almost a whole hour of quality time with a soon-to-be oldest child and, for another, the regaling of how we turned the house into a sauna and made our energy efficiency rating plummet all for the sake of satisfying a craving make it more than worth it. 

Summer can be spun into many stories once it's all said and done, and maybe that's why I like it best. This summer will be punctuated with the birth of our second daughter. As it approaches, like a very stressful college exam that is also indescribably painful, I try to focus on the incredible story it will be  and all the stories we will make once she's here. I do not intend to stencil any quotes on the walls of my soon-to-be daughters' bedroom, but if I did I would write passionately "Long live the magic we made!" in really illegible cursive.

I hope all of your summers are churning up stories too. 

{p.s. I've included the recipe for the tomato sauce after the cut in case you too would like to turn your kitchen into a steam room} 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ghost Ride the Whip

My mom's told me a half dozen times that if you're doing your job as a parent, you will work yourself right out of one. This has been as heartbreaking as it sounds. Of course, I always come here to write when I'm about to cry about something. I could blame the hormones, but even my OB knows better. I was the almost seven year old crying on the eve of her Mini-Golf-Birthday-Extravaganza about how she'd never be six again. Motherhood certainly hasn't made me any less of a sap. 

Avalon's second birthday was tear-free though. Scott and I made a banana chocolate cake the night before in a quiet and sticky kitchen. Credit mostly goes to box-mix from Ralph's with an additional three smashed bananas and some mini chocolate chips. Then we iced the top with chocolate frosting. The new two year old was thrilled and so was everyone else. My dad admitted later that when I described my plan for the cake he thought it was totally going to suck. A good old dose of parental honesty is something I won't edit out of my relationship with my daughters either. 

My parents splurged and got her the Micro Mini Deluxe Scooter (we also have this helmet). Scott jokes about how she likes to "ghost ride the whip" since lately when we take it to the park she gives it big pushes and then runs next to it cheering in a mild hysteria. She has bombed a few hills though. I can't help but be proud of that. 

We got her a tiny armoire from the antique store that we imagined into a play kitchen. Scott installed iron hooks on the sides to hang her shopping bag and pots and pans from; sometimes a dish towel. I painted a small table we had used as a Christmas tree stand once and placed a stool and the chair her Papa built her last year around it. Along with the play coffee maker and toaster, this has been her most loved gift. I'm happy with how inconspicuous it looks in this thousand square foot squirrel den. I gladly break my back eating wood toast and felt watermelon with her every morning in that sunny corner. 

Yesterday I took Avalon to visit her soon-to-be school. She grabbed a toy frying pan from a quiet little girl who wore sunglasses inside and told a curly haired boy that the water fountain was hers. Maybe it will be better when I'm not there. 

When the teachers began serving snack, they had all the kids sit on a small railroad tie wall adjacent to some tiny picnic tables in the shade and then dismissed each class to wash their hands and find a seat. I was sitting alone at a table off to the side trying to be a fly on the wall, very much like I did until my junior year of high school. When Avalon got to her spot, she gathered her snack up and then walked over to sit and share it with me. I don't think I'll ever forget that.

Today, her gymnastics teacher told me she has a spot for Avalon in her non-mommy and me class starting next week. This weekend we are going away for the first time without her. I was the one wearing sunglasses inside today after sobbing on the phone to my mom the whole car ride to Trader Joe's. 

Letting go for me is always like being forced to ride a roller coaster you wish you weren't tall enough for. Fragile nerves, a leap of faith. A new beginning. 

I guess it's easy to be a sentimental sap in these conditions. Life will always be so beautifully short and surprising.

I suppose one of the best things to do could be to turn up the music and enjoy where this ghost ride takes you.