Monthly Archives

June 2013

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A Week in the Life: 26/52

Here we are, halfway through the year.

I am happy to have kept this up. It’s easier to maintain than the 365 Days photo project, but there is some monotony involved in taking photos every day when you do roughly the same thing five days out of the seven. Right now my biggest challenge is composition, and trying to put a new spin on old material. The solution is out there, and hopefully you’ll see it when I find it.

The good news is that I have shaved my photo editing process down from 2.5 hours to 30 minutes. This project has helped me establish a style, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time.

Here’s what our past week looked like:

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» The fortune cookie company did not invest in variation.

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» Thrifting with Sara during the $2 sale.

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» Alexa and I built a Play-Doh beach, complete with our own rainbow (overturning of Prop. 8 a few days later, yay!).

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» Tuckered out.

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» Playing at the park that overlooks the beach.

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» Grumpy McGrumpster turned her mood upside down by channeling her inner Pollock.

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» Unreal clouds in the sky after a late-afternoon grocery run.

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» Rooftop bar for happy hour with colleagues.

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» Margarita time!

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» I’m not in the habit of taking powder room photos, but those mirrors. I mean, c’mon.

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» Wall art.

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» The view from our company retreat. Too pretty to resist a post-lunch walk.

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» Look here, Santa Monica.

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» I took this paparazzi shot of Alexa feeding her baby doll. She was very quiet and intense about it.

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» “Daddy, what are you dooning?” Repeat question x 100. (Answer: Washing the screen door.)

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» Somebody spilled some paint.

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» She has an opinion on her clothes and shoes now.

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» Don’t come here for bread. Come here for furniture.

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» And lunch. Father’s Office burger for the win.

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» Waze took me a different route to the freeway tonight. It was faster, I admit it. Only problem? Once on the freeway, it wanted me to take the express lane (I do not have a pass). Not cool, Waze.

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

Five Tips for Making the Ultimate Summer Road Trip Playlist

The morning after our wedding we loaded up the car. We packed our suitcases, a cooler with sandwiches and sodas, a book I never got around to reading, and a case of CDs to keep us entertained. It’s not a summer road trip — never mind a honeymoon — without music.

We drove all the way to Los Angeles listening to a mixture of the radio, some compilation disco CD and other old favorites. To this day I can’t hear “Ray of Light” without picturing H throwing me into the ocean, fully clothed, when we arrived in Santa Monica. Later we carved our initials in a bench at the end of the pier, and when I think of that moment my brain conjures up “Santa Monica” by Everclear.

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Of all the mixtapes, CDs and playlists I’ve made over the years, my favorites are the ones I compile for the summer. I think the music we listen to on those road trips to the beach sear into our brains with more permanence somehow. Maybe it’s because we create some of our best memories in the summer, all the way back to childhood, and the nostalgia of a song reminding us of a summer memory is just enough for us to smell the salty air, to feel the sun on our faces, even in the wintertime.

Just take a look at Billboard’s list of the top summer songs from the past 28 years and tell me you don’t have instant flashbacks to that summer vacation of yore.

Here are a few of the places I was transported: a lake in Texas, a huge high school party at a college friend’s house, a party in New York, midnight drives with friends

 

I remember all the cars I was driving, all the people I was with. I wonder what my car will look like in the future and how the cast of characters will change when I make a summer playlist next year. For now, I will take my new playlist for a spin and build more memories around these songs. (Spoiler: I listened to it the entire time I’ve been working on this post, and I’m dancing in my chair.)

Ultimate Summer Road Trip Playlist

Five tips for a good summer road trip playlist:
1. Start with one song that reminds you of summer.
2. Add others, being mindful to mix eras and music styles. Variety is the spice of life, and of music playlists.
3. Move the songs around until you find the perfect “flow.”
4. Keep slower songs to a minimum. They are good sparingly, but you are DRIVING. You don’t want to fall asleep, amirite?
5. This isn’t the time to show off your indie music prowess, unless you want your passengers’ eyes to glaze over. Stick with songs everyone can relate to and sing along with, or at least shake their shoulders to.

What songs would make your summer road trip playlist? I’m curious!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

A Week in the Life: 25/52

Here’s what our past week looked like:

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» I finally wiped the dust off my DSLR and took it out for a day.

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» We explored a beach in our own backyard. It even has a great toddler playground.

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» And, seriously, look at this cove! You have to climb down the rocks, but it’s totally worth it, especially if you wear sensible footwear unlike me (ahem, Havaianas).

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» This place is perfect for tidepools, too. I can’t wait to go back and explore them more during low tide.

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» As soon as our toes hit the sand, the clouds parted and the sun fried us. By us I mean me. H and Alexa did a better job with sunscreen.

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» We played Frisbee.

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» Thai tea shaved ice with strawberries and bananas.

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» She curled up and watched “Pin-cess Pea” (of Super Why fame) on the Kindle.

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» On Father’s Day our gift to Daddy was peace and quiet. We met up with Sara and went to the mall, where Alexa spied the fountains. Five minutes later, she was drenched.

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» First time riding the horsies at the supermarket. The first two times around, she had a huge grin on her face. Then, utter disappointment set in. Hey, kid, I warned you it wasn’t a real horsie.

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» Pizza, beer and lots of laughs with a bonne amie. This pizza was pretty freaking fantastic, if you ever find yourself in Long Beach.

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» Self-portrait by a 2-year-old.

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» PARKED on the Harbor Freeway.

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» If I never see this puzzle again it will be too soon. Ah, how she loves it, though.

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» Minion over Los Angeles.

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on iPhone and my Olympus Evolt E-500 this week. See past weeks here.

It’s hard to live so far away

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My family lives in the Midwest.

When we moved away from the Midwest, we were over the moon about it. It was a great adventure, and family could visit all the time because we’d be at the beach! No more terrible weather, hallelujah. This is exactly how it was, for the first few years or so. Of course we would get homesick every now and then, and that’s what Christmas vacation was for.

But then things happened. Life happened.

The first real sadness I felt for being far away from the Midwest was when my mom got sick. The helplessness was the killer. I should be there, I would think to myself, beating myself up for not being able to be in two places at once.

If only arms could stretch that far, across thousands of miles, to hug the ones I love when they need it most.

When Alexa arrived, the pull to the Midwest grew stronger. We wanted our little girl to know her cousins, her uncle and aunt, her Baba. I often have joked (actually, no, I’m serious) about the advent of the teleporter and what it would mean for family dinners. Until then, the distance remains.

It is exacerbated every so often by news of a reunion that we were unable to attend, by newborns I won’t be able to see right away, by illnesses I cannot tend to in person.

Damn that space between us! I want to will my arms to bridge the gap. Go, go, gadget arms!

Listen & Look: Grouplove

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I’ve been listening to Never Trust a Happy Song for several months now. It is my quintessential evening commute album because (a) it keeps me awake and (b) it makes me happy. According to Grouplove’s album name I shouldn’t trust them. Hmmm.

If you want to hear happiness in music form, you must listen to “Naked Kids.” I’m probably on all kinds of government watch lists for Googling the words “grouplove naked kids,” so you should just click on the link I provided to avoid being spied on by the government. Oh, wait. Too late.

Anyway.

Just when I started to get antsy waiting for more Grouplove music, they release a new song (and a new album is coming in September). “Ways to Go” is just as catchy, if not more, than anything on the previous album. This band is just as crazy-looking as I imagine. That is why I picture myself wearing a beachy/hippie/tie-dye outfit. And disheveled hair. Just freaking insanely disheveled. The closer to raging lunatic, the better.

Check out the new song below. Good luck getting the tune out of your head for the next hour.

A Week in the Life: 24/52

Here’s what our past week looked like:

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» A windy detour at the beach after TCB’ing.

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» The marine layer was spectacular this week, keeping things foggy until at least midday, which meant no sun burning into my eyelids at 6:30 a.m.

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» Love the seafoam color of the window facade.

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» Nothing like a fresh haircut.

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» A record two-hour park trip. Alexa climbed up the bumpy slide, went down the huge twisty slide, climbed up the rock wall and branched out to the big kids’ jungle gym. She was on fire!

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» Blue skies.

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» A bloody good treat.

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» The parking attendant left my car underneath this contraption. Safest thing in the world, probably.

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» Alexa’s Father’s Day card to Baba. Her interpretation: “Baba surfing on ocean with flowers.”

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» Little girl was under the weather most of the week, and after a particularly hairy night with lots of coughing and general discontent, she woke up the next morning cheesing. Long live the grainy selfies!

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» More purple on the ground than on the trees. Jacaranda season is almost over.

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» Golden glow.

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

Parental time warp: Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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Summer 2012. A year ago. Or today in my mind.

H and I spent an evening looking through old photos and videos on the external hard drive, laughing and reminiscing the entire time.

We went all the way back to 2003. We were a decade younger, forging a life on the East Coast, far away from both our families. Beach days, sleeping in, working late at the newspaper. We skipped through the years. We saw friends we haven’t seen in person in years, our relationship neatly tucked away in random updates on Facebook now. Hairstyles long forgotten, clothes better off forgotten. Sunburns and winter coats and memories of concerts and parties and late nights gone by. All very fond memories, but memories nonetheless, relegated to the corners of our minds. They are all in the past, and they have the distinctly beautiful haze of yesteryear that tends to make even so-so memories all the more happier.

Then we arrived at Alexa’s birth day. We watched videos. We ahhed at chubby baby thighs. We smiled at the raspberries she used to blow, our Little Raspberry. It’s true what they say about babies: It goes very fast. I used to nod when people told me this, because of course. It all goes very fast, even those beach memories from 2003.

What I didn’t understand is that time is different with children.

These things happened nearly two and a half years ago, but they happened today. It’s simultaneous in my memory. Where those other memories are plagued with an Instagram filter, the memories of Alexa’s life are crystal clear, every one of them. How did we get from a bundled burrito baby to a toddler who relishes jumping off the bottom step of the staircase? It was yesterday, today and tomorrow, all at once.

I get it now. That’s how parents see their adult children and still see the 10-year-old with skinned knees. It’s a parental time warp. We are blessed/cursed to see our children exactly as they are, as they were and as we hope they will be — all at the same time.

A Week in the Life: 23/52

Ever have a week that sucks every ounce of your energy out, leaving you a hollow shell of yourself who needs to curl up on the couch and watch “Django Unchained”? That’s the kind of week I had, although I’m kinda wishing I hadn’t watched that movie. Or maybe I wish I had stopped it after two hours, because that last hour was pretty torturous. Dear longwinded filmmakers, editing is NOT overrated!

Don’t worry, there are no photos of me rolling my eyes at Tarantino. (I love you, man, but I don’t love three hours of you.)

This is the best of my week:

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» Evolution of a living room with a toddler: too many bins to hide toys, too many toys to hide in bins. Crayons, books, puzzles, and Hello Kitty face-down on the floor.

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» H’s words, I believe, were “this is frickin’ fantastic.” Homemade beef/onion/spinach pizza.

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» Mama-daughter trip to the park. Going down the bumpy slide for the first time.

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» Cheesing for a selfie. This might be a weekly installment (sorry in advance for all the weird faces I might make). I just love the poses she comes up with.

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» On Sunday afternoon I was afforded the rarest of all things: a midafternoon nap with the windows open and clouds rolling in. Luxurious.

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» Baklava a colleague brought back from Jordan. The best I’ve ever tasted.

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» Bargain bin wine. (Sara, this one is for you.)

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» Art installation along our lunch-break walk. It makes popping sounds. Like popcorn popping.

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» This acupuncturist treats PMS, among other ailments.

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» Design inspiration for a house I will own someday.

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» I’m 100 percent sure this iPhone photo does this sunset no justice. The sun is peeking out from the June Gloom, shining a million rays of light over Los Angeles. So beautiful.

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» Goodbye presents for a colleague who really, really, really likes Hot Pockets.

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» Here comes the marine layer.

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» Just to prove that beauty is everywhere, these flowers are bursting with pigment about 2 feet from the community garbage bin.

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» She asks for tickles now. And we get the best, giggly laughter in return.

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

Listen & Look: Vampire Weekend

Listen & Look: Vampire Weekend | littlegraypixel.blogspot.com

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Have you been listening to the new Vampire Weekend album? It’s pretty eclectic. One song sounds like Paul Simon, another sounds like alt-country-Wilco territory, another sounds like Belle and Sebastian and “Diane Young” sounds like Buddy Holly on crack.

That’s why I think you should get dolled up in your rockabilly best, sit on the front porch in the late afternoon with some moonshine and kick up your funky Doc Martens to groove to this music. Ya dig, daddy-o?

This video doesn’t exactly jibe with my vision, but hey, it’s Vampire Weekend. They do things their way.

The Mess Monster is Totally Real.

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“Mama. What are you dooning?”

I hear this question at least 30 times a day, and I love it. It seems like overnight Alexa has gone from saying two- to three-word phrases to speaking in full, coherent sentences.

“Go outside?” has become, “I wanna go outside and go to the park! Go down slide. Go on swing.”

I love how literate and colloquial she is becoming. She knows her alphabet. She can count to 20. She is always curious for new information.

Which might explain why I give such detailed answers to her questions. What am I dooning?

“Well, Alexa, I’m paying bills online. It is important to pay on time so our electricity won’t get shut off.”

“Mama. What are you dooning?”

“I’m rinsing off these strawberries so you don’t eat dirt, bugs or bacteria that could make you sick.”

I’m beginning to feel like Shelley Long’s character in “Don’t Tell Her It’s Me,” in which she is constantly telling her daughter the consequences of her actions:

No! Annabelle! Don’t play with the space heater coil. Piglet, if you breath gas it will tie up all your available hemoglobin and there will be none left for oxygen transfer. Your lips and nail beds will turn cherry red and you’ll die of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Well, I would feel like Shelley Long’s character if I were the least bit technical. For now, Alexa will have to deal with answers like:

“I’m cleaning the countertop because it’s icky and we have to clean up our messes or the Mess Monster will put us in time-out.”

What! I have it on good authority that this is totally true.