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March 2013

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Would you ever go to Iceland?

My friend Annie recently took a trip to Reykjavik, a destination far-removed from what I’d usually yearn for (i.e. beaches and tropics and Greece) so I wasn’t sure it would be for me. I mean, it’s cold, right? And scarcely populated. I think there are fewer people in the entire country than there are in my hometown of Wichita, Kan.

But she mentioned the hot springs. And the northern lights. And Skogafoss.

And a text with this picture and the words “MAGICAL HORSES!”

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OK, she got me. I have a huge case of wanderlust for Iceland now. Every photo she sent me looked like an album cover. For Of Monsters and Men, maybe.

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When she returned, she brought the most amazing candy. It tasted like chocolate-covered Fruit Loops. I’d go to Iceland right now just to try all the candy.

The seafood and coffee are spectacular, as well. And there is free wifi everywhere, which is important when you need to text your friends gorgeous photos to make them jealous. It worked, Annie. Boy, did it work.

I should warn you that she got snowed in one day. But live music at the cozy hotel bar doesn’t sound too shabby to me.

Have I sold you on it, too? Would you go to Iceland? Why or why not?

A Week in the Life: 12/52

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» Unfortunately the bag of chips did not get any love from paleo-eating us.

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» Demonstrating a dance from “Yo Gabba Gabba.”

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» Have I always had this many freckles?

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» It’s springtime!

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» Dark vs. light.

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» Paleo shepherd’s pie for St. Patrick’s Day. H and I joined cooking efforts to create this hearty, delicious dish.

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» Speaking of St. Paddy’s Day, I spy a shamrock.

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» One little monkey jumping on the bed (under close supervision).

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» New shades after my other pair dismantled itself. No, I’m not joking. I can’t figure out how it came apart.

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» Emergency! Hungry toddler, baby food aisle.

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» H’s haircut instructions: “Take it all off.”

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» Mid-haircut check. I left him some hair. And it turned out to be a pretty nifty cut, if I do say so myself!

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» This might be one of the grainiest photos I’ve ever posted on this blog, but I adore it so much. My sweetheart is posing for her “pit-chure!”

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» The condo complex just reeks of spring. I love it. Nighttime is particularly stinky. Mmmm.

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» “Bye-bye, Mama!” she said when I waved goodbye at the babysitter’s.

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» Spotted at a stoplight: Posters for The Strokes’ new album! It’s coming on Tuesday!

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» I’m surprised I managed to take all the other photos this week considering this was my view 90 percent of my waking hours. (The keyboard and desk, not necessarily the salad, even though the salad was wonderful.)

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on iPhone this week. See past weeks here.

What I Learned My First Week on the Paleo Diet

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I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve started a new food challenge — Whole30 (I did not sign up for anything; I’ve just read about the principles and I’m applying them to the best of my knowledge). In a nutshell: no grains, no dairy, no legumes.

In my research I found a lot of conflicting ideas about what is/is not included in the paleo diet. I’m keeping it easygoing for these 30 days. I’m not freaking out about any trace amount of soy that is in the tiny bit of vinaigrette I put on my salad, for example. If that makes my challenge moot, I guess I’m not hardcore enough. (So sue me!) The point for me is to reset my body from craving things such as pizza and Snickers bars and pasta and cookies.

Mmmm, cookies.

Anyway, I had read that the first week eating paleo would be torture in so many different ways. So I thought it would be interesting to take a few notes during my day to let you know how it was going for me.

Day 1
Can’t have this. Can’t have that. Can’t have coffee because I only like it with creamer. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t. Hmm, I can have this. Without rice. Without croutons. Without a slice of bread. Interesting, I can actually taste what I’m eating now that I’m not diluting it with bread/croutons/rice. Go to bed hungry.

Day 2
Out with family and feeling tired/hungry/cranky. Need to eat, but where to go? Quick search on my phone leads us to Chipotle, where we order salads with meat, veggies, pico de gallo and avocado. Cannot even eat half of it. Full. Still, I feel hungry. Does that make sense? And oh so cranky.

Day 3
Potluck at work (pictured above). Torture to the nth degree. All I see are cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts, cheese, bread, scones. I don’t even like scones and I want one. At least I brought some fruit platter and someone else brought a veggie platter. Also, thanks to an understanding colleague who brought asparagus sticks wrapped in roast beef and smoked salmon. Still. All. Day. Long. Around these temptations. I whimpered and moaned quite a bit. Almost went off the program, but friends urged me to stay strong. Also, I’m hot. Sweaty, crazy hot all day long. Willpower makes me break into a sweat.

Day 4
Why! All the leftovers from the potluck are still taking over the joint. PLUS there is a carb city of breakfast lined up against the wall. Bagels, doughnuts, cereal, juices, yogurt. Work is crazy right now and there are pick-me-ups all around the office. “You picked the wrong time to start a diet,” a friend says. It’s true. But, I tell myself, maybe not. It is bringing to light all of my eating flaws. I am not really hungry. I am stressed. I do not eat well under stress. I turn to comfort foods. Now there is nowhere to hide my stress. I have to deal with it on the surface.

Day 5
Headache. Or is it a migraine? It does not go away all day, no matter how much water I drink, how many headache pills I take. Is this coffee withdrawal? I am so tired. It is 2 p.m. I am numb. I am not craving anything, but I want to eat something that’s not on the program. Anything. Maybe bread. I do not eat anything. I go to bed hungry, but I’m too tired to care.

Day 6
Utter exhaustion. I have a random day off work in the middle of the week, and I guess I needed it because I actually took a nap with Alexa for two whole hours. What! We venture out midday, and I know I won’t be able to make it unless I get a small fix of coffee. I do not drink much, and it takes my headache away temporarily. I weigh myself in a fit of curiosity (I promised myself not to for 30 days). I’m down 4 lbs.

Day 7
I’m used to feeling hungry all the time. I have a short circuit, though. Everyone step back a few feet. I snap at a few people who ask me about my paleo diet. “I do not want to talk about it!” I bark. WHO ORDERED THIS PIZZA? Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Day 8
I am craving bagels with cream cheese. Hungry, but cannot finish my paleo dinner. I might be tired of meat. I’m not a big meat eater. Again with the pizza at work. Grrrrrrrrr.

Day 9
I finally feel somewhat normal. A little rundown. A little rough around the edges. I still feel hot all the time! Food choices do not bother me; I am thinking in terms of what I can have instead of what I can’t. We ate a hamburger without the bun for lunch. I didn’t miss the bun, but I missed the act of sinking my teeth into a bun. Kind of like how ex-smokers say it’s not the cigarette they miss but the physical act of putting an object up to their mouths? That’s what this is like. Killing an addiction.

What I’ve learned:
1. I do not care about dairy nearly as much as grains.
2. I miss eating a piece of toast with my eggs in the morning.
3. I miss my coffee.
4. I love frozen grapes, really love them.
5. Fruit tastes sweeter now than it did before.
6. Breakfast is a difficult meal to make without grains.
7. Cereal substitute (yummy, too): cut-up apple, walnuts, cinnamon, almond milk.
8. Coconut “shake”: ice, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut, banana.
9. This mantra actually works to put things in perspective: “Going without coffee for 30 days isn’t hard. Fighting cancer is hard.”
10. I want a piece of chocolate no matter my stress level.

Twenty-one more days to go.

This Song Reminds Me of You, or Were You in High School in 1993?

A few months ago Liv linked to a list of 29 albums that are now 20 years old. I instantly scrolled through and had mega flashbacks. I also had a slight panic attack because these memories feel like yesterday, not 20 years ago. Of course, the beginning of the post had this disclaimer: “Sorry if this makes you feel totally ancient.”

Liv retorted: “It makes me feel f*cking awesome and blessed beyond belief to have been
a teenager during this epic time in music.”

And I concur with Liv.

The mid-’90s were a good time for the teen with an identity crisis. Besides the epic and diverse music, there was a lot of fashion risk (what is T-Boz wearing in the first scene of this video, for example?) Among the mid-’90s trends I am guilty of: Adult-sized onesies aka bodysuits, crop tops, flannel, flame red hair, Dr. Martens boots, oversized starter jackets. I was Angela Chase meets Snoop Dogg.

Let’s go through a select few from the list so I can jump in my time machine back to the moment. Some of these memories are more involved than others; be patient with me!

Nirvana, “In Utero”
This album reminds me of newspaper class. We were allowed to leave campus on the premise of selling ads, but most of what I remember is listening to “All Apologies” on an upperclassman’s tape deck.

The Smashing Pumpkins, “Siamese Dream”
Sitting in my room in the middle of the night writing flow-of-consciousness poetry about a boy who was not my boyfriend. My boyfriend at the time was a clingy guy I only saw during lunch period, and my sole goal was to make it through that time without kissing him. I’m not even sure how we were dating since I avoided him at all costs; needless to say, it was short-lived.

Bjork, “Debut”
The first time I ever heard Bjork I was in a friend of a friend’s house, hanging out with two cats in a black-lit room. Every time I think of Bjork I think of the little cat hairs on my sweater that glowed bright white in that room.

Radiohead, “Pablo Honey”
Staring at the video for “Creep” playing in the living room at a friend’s house, impatiently waiting for them to get ready so we could go out.

Janet Jackson, “Janet”
Summertime, all the time. On repeat in my Walkman all the way to our family vacation in the mountains.

Counting Crows, “August and Everything After”
Every party ever in high school. One of my best friends, in particular, who would lie on the ground with her head to the speaker of the stereo, belting out every lyric to every song.

The Breeders, “Last Splash”
Car full of girls, all older than me. Screaming at the top of our lungs even though we don’t know the words.

Salt N Pepa, “Very Necessary”
Pretty sure this was the soundtrack to pre-prom festivities. I was too young to go, but I helped my friends get ready.

Mariah Carey, “Musicbox”
Holed up in my room, getting ready for school in the morning, singing along with a hairbrush. Yes, I was that girl.

Pearl Jam, “Vs.”
The fall festival in my hometown. Pretty sure I was roaming around in my flannel and docs.

Snoop Dogg, “Doggystyle”
One memory of this album involved doing donuts in an empty parking lot with one of my friends. But the memory that will forever be stuck in my mind was me walking into the mall record store, buying this CD and trying to hide it from my dad’s eyes because, as he always said, “rap is crap!”

Candlebox, “Candlebox”
Sitting on my porch after school with a few friends. It was cold outside, but that’s what flannels are for.

Flaming Lips, “Transmissions From the Satellite Heart”
A sleepover at my best friend’s house. We called some older boys we knew and asked them to bring us burritos at 1 a.m. And they did.

The Cranberries, “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?”
A kiss from a crush, while sitting on a short fence post, actually. (Side note: This album is still amazing, front to end.)

Sheryl Crow, “Tuesday Night Music Club”
This album reminds me of my mom. During a period in my life when all she listened to was country music, our paths crossed with Sheryl Crow. I can still hear her singing “I like a good beer buzz early in the morning.”

Tag Team, “Whoomp! There It Is”
Practicing for high-school dance team tryouts. I didn’t make the squad. Sadness!

What about you? Do any of these albums hold special memories?

Things I thought when I realized my driver’s license was missing.

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I would climb to the top of these trees if it meant getting my license back.

1. Noooooo!

Pause as a I open and dump and sift through the content of my bag three times.

2. Noooooo!

3. Maybe it is in my pants pocket from the other day, even though I don’t remember putting it in my pants pocket, but sure, that’s where it must be.

4. Or Alexa took it and hid it with her dolls.

5. Or it fell out of my bag in my car.

Hours later, after tearing the house apart and double checking the car and finding it nowhere.

6. OMG. It must’ve ejected itself out of my bag at the grocery store the other day.

Call grocery store. It’s not there.

7. Shit. I have to go to the DMV.

Unless …

8. Tomorrow I will call the parking attendants at work and the condo management and maybe even Target and anywhere I’ve been in the past week.

9. Ooh, I know. I’ll sleep on it. The answer will come in a dream.

10. But most likely I’ll have to go to the DMV. Sigh.

Listen & Look: The Virgins

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The new Virgins album is out today. Between you and me, I’m heading over to iTunes after I finish this post so I can listen to it on my commute tomorrow. When I was sampling the music earlier, I was inspired to throw together an outfit. I’m at a loss to say anything of substance about it; it’s hard to describe a mood in words, right? Hence, the mood board.
Anyway, I’ve been waiting a while for this record to come out. It’s been a long time since 2007. Remember this?

A normal childhood.

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Alexa is 2 years old.

She can swipe an iPhone on and navigate to her games folder. She can start up games, calling them “Apple” (for her coloring book of alphabet flashcards) and “Ogre” (for an animated interactive alphabet game). She knows how to change the colors in “Apple” (she always goes for black) and she knows how to feed olives to the ogre in “Ogre.” She knows how to turn on the camera app and take photos.

She can turn on the Kindle and ask for “Horse” or “Piano.” When she plays on the doodle app, she knows how to hit the reel to repeat her drawing as a movie.

She knows how to turn on the PlayStation. She can navigate to her favorite shows on Netflix (Yo Gabba Gabba and Super Why), start them up or stop them with a touch of her finger.

Lately I’ve been thinking about all this technology and what it is doing to my baby. Half of me wants to chuck it all out the window and get a land line installed, force her to learn via tactile flashcards, never let her see Muno or Foofa ever again. The other half of me is saying, “But it’s not 1983.”

The childhood I want for Alexa is my childhood. It’s riding bikes without helmets; it’s Flintstones before dinner on network TV; it’s pretending to gab on a play phone like this one instead of this one.

Danielle of Sometimes Sweet wrote a post last week that hit a nerve. It was exactly what I had been feeling. She compared the lost art of writing notes with today’s texting and social media:

“I think every generation likes to pretend their own generation grew up in a time when things were the way they should be, lived their lives properly (whatever that means), and that anything prior must be archaic, and anything after is just crazy. But of course time keeps on moving, things change.”

I admit it. I’m sad that Alexa will not know the simple pleasure of walking home or bicycling from school by herself (at least not here in Los Angeles). I worry that she won’t know what it’s like to not have a constant source of entertainment at her fingertips. I fret that she needs to have a “normal” childhood, free of the lure of technology, where instead she spends more time imagining than staring at screens.

That was my normal. But it won’t be her normal.

This is a different generation, one raised on technology, and I just have to do my best to make these tools useful instead of a crutch. It’s a tough time to be a parent. On one hand it is nice to have the luxury of technological ease. On the other it is scary how easy and addicting it all is. Therein lies the challenge: Finding a way to balance the culture of instant gratification and plugged-in-ness (I just made that up) with the art of learning things the old-fashioned way and stopping to smell the roses.

I certainly hope we can find that balance. Right now I try to limit her exposure to these devices, and there is always supervision. We play games together on the phone and Kindle. We watch Yo Gabba Gabba together and do the dancy-dances. But I am aware that I am not the only person involved in my daughter’s education, and it will be a continuous thing over the years to monitor and nurture a balance.

In my mind’s eye, I envision Alexa as a young woman, articulate and well-versed in current technology, totally savvy and knowledgeable. She also is the kind of woman who puts away her device (cellphone, brainwave chip, whatever it may be) to make eye contact with friends over dinner. Here’s hoping.

A Week in the Life: 10/52

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» Fruit puree didn’t stand a chance. The cottage cheese, well, it wasn’t loved.

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» Alexa has a morning powwow with Monkey and Bunny.

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» Always in a hurry to get outside.

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» Draggin’ the line.

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» On tippy toes to brush her teeth. Muno and Foofa have to wait on the floor.

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» Rainbow daze.

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» Hard-boiled eggs for dinner.

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» We were a little bit behind on our 25-month photoshoot, but we got it done finally.

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» Shortest train ever, and boy were we grateful.

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» Hermosa Beach on a blustery, chilly day after the rain passed through.

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» Headed to the “o-sin.” She had been asking for it all week.

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» But the cold wind proved too much for her little eyes, and she took refuge in Daddy’s arms.

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» Unpleasant weather conditions actually make for the prettiest pictures!

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on iPhone this week. See past weeks here.

Without a leg to stand on.

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A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook last week that I couldn’t help clicking on. It was to a full-length stream of 1973’s “Buckingham Nicks,” the album that led to Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joining Fleetwood Mac. I had heard songs off it here and there, but never the entire album.*

Why? Because it has never been officially released on CD/digitally, and records are known to fetch upwards of $50. There have been rumors for years of a CD release, but the buzz is that this might finally be the year (it is the 40th anniversary).

I have my fingers crossed for this because I listened to that stream and I was hooked. I listened to it over and over again. At least five times. When I went back today to get my fix, it had been taken down due to copyright claims. So like the addict I am, I went sniffing around and put in some bids on eBay for the original album. It must be mine!

The music is spectacular. Just think: They were so young and hungry and creative. There’s something magical about hearing early recordings by incredibly talented people. Not that the talent fades with subsequent efforts, but that initial magic is something that cannot be re-created. The rawness of it.

“Crystal” might be one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Stevie re-recorded it for the film “Practical Magic” in the ’90s. I mean, those lyrics. I can’t even.

Have you listened to this record? More importantly, if you have it, do you want to gift it to me? Haha.

*Dad, did you have this one once upon a time?

This post is dedicated to my mom, the biggest Stevie Nicks fan ever.