Spring break staycation was solid, but it has left me feeling scattered and more unfocused than usual. I can't even conjure a metaphor or an alliterative trill to help guide this blog post. Last night, I wondered whether this ambivalence and feeling of "blaaaaahhhhhhhh!" was a sign I should skip writing a blog entry this week. In fact, as I entered the sixth hour of editing my knitting pattern,* I thought, "I don't even know why I'm putting up a post every week. Who cares?"
But I found out today when I dropped Wyatt off at school that word of this blog is spreading, and that bit of news made me happy. A teacher I know but to whom I have never mentioned the blog stopped me to say she was loving reading it and that she thought I was a "powerhouse." I was totally taken aback by her compliment, and I probably made a weirdly unflattering face when I remarked that frankly, I didn't feel that powerful, but thank you so much for reading because it has been great to be writing again.
And it IS great to be writing again. So here I am, showing up this week, with what may be my most scattered blog post to date.
Spring is definitely here, and springtime means birthdays in our house. We're about two weeks away from Wyatt's fifth birthday, and he is already so excited that he brings up "turning five" every day. I asked him yesterday what aspect of turning five he is most excited about, and after, "Presents!" he said, "Just being five. All my friends are five already..." and then he proceeded to name almost all of the children in his class. For all this excitement, though, he remains very clear that he doesn't want to have a birthday party outside of the little celebration they will have in his classroom. Maybe one year he will want one, or maybe not. But as long as he doesn't want one, we look at his "no party" request as a birthday wish that is extraordinarily easy to grant.
I still can't believe this kid will be five. When he was six months old or so, I remember reading the Muni sign that said that children under five ride for free, and thinking, five is SO FAR AWAY. As dumb (or morbid) as it sounds, in that moment, I was pretty sure we'd never have to buy a muni ticket for him. But we're practically there. We have come so far in the last five years. Last week was full of great examples of how Wyatt's brand of "almost five" is pretty fantastic: Strong hiking legs, boundless curiosity, deep appreciation of beauty, new love for spicy food, a willingness to be flexible, and a real need to learn and grow. Here's how our week played out.
On Monday, we went to Rainbow Grocery and then spent the entire afternoon making Gorgonzola cheese (I'm still working on a post about that), kimchi (still very mild but now with a little spice), and testing recipes for Samin Nosrat's new cookbook.
Tuesday, on my friend Rose Hagan's recommendation, we went to the Annie Leibovitz's exhibit. Women: New Portraits is terrific, we enjoyed everything we saw, and I could have easily spent much longer there had I gone by myself. After the exhibit, we took a hike through Crissy Field to visit the Warming Hut and to check out the wildlife that decided to say hello. After a quick stop at home for lunch, Wyatt had his swimming lesson.
On Wednesday, Marc took the day off and we spent the day in the Inner Richmond. We began at the de Young Museum to see the Bouquets to Art and Oscar de la Renta exhibits. Both were stunning, of course. As a "bonus," there was a medical emergency in the Oscar de la Renta exhibit, and we had a terrific view of the paramedics' work. We had planned to eat lunch at the museum, but the line for the cafe was into the lobby by 11:30 am, so we headed down the street to Nopalito. On the way, we discussed at length how much Wyatt wants to ride on the adjustable chair in the ambulance and how lucky we were there was "a medical" while we were at the museum. At Nopalito, Wyatt ate two bowls of spicy chickpeas and drank about two quarts of water, and we all had Totopos con Chile and Tacos de Pescado al Pastor for lunch. After lunch, we stopped by a Buddhist temple because we were feeling curious, visited Green Apple Books on Clement, and got ice cream at Toy Boat Dessert Cafe.
Thursday, I took Wyatt shoe shopping at Nordstrom. He got new shoes and opted for a pink balloon to go with them. We ate a picnic lunch outside the mall, and then on our way to do some errands in the Mission, Wyatt lost his very lovely balloon out of the car window on Valencia Street around 18th. There may have never been a sadder sounding boy in the Mission than Wyatt on Thursday afternoon.
Friday, we stayed home, Wyatt did a lot of building with his Legos and MagnaTiles, and we prepared for shoelace tying lessons. I got out two dark nail polish colors. On Wyatt's left index fingernail, I painted the face of a mole in dark red. On his right thumbnail, I painted a bunny silhouette in bright blue. I did the same on my nails so we could work side by side. We were ready: First, you make the beginning knot; then, there is the tree, right by Mole's hole; Bunny comes out of his hole and runs around the tree, sees mole, and shoves him back into his hole. Then Mole and Bunny run away from each other.** We tried tying shoe laces several times during the day, and Wyatt declared every time, whining and crying in frustration, "This is SO BORING. I never, ever want to be able to tie my shoes!"
I chalked his hyperbole up to shoelace tying being astonishingly difficult and how, after hanging out with me for the whole week, it was probably time for a break from spring break. I figured we would practice again on Saturday. But on Saturday, he didn't want to even try. I started to think about contingency plans for school footwear. Maybe it would rain and he could wear boots. But on Sunday morning, as we were about to head out the door, he grabbed his new sneakers, plopped down on the floor, and eagerly jammed his right foot into his shoe. He took a lace in each hand and said, "First, I make the pretzel head..." and then, as he started to make the first loop, said, "I forget--where does mole go again?" So I told him, and he proceeded to tie the bow all by himself. He almost got his second shoelace tied in a bow as well. Bursting with pride in his accomplishment, we both rode our kick scooters to pick up some items from the grocery store for lunch and some flowers from the florist for Wyatt to take to school on Monday. I carried the flowers in my backpack, and Wyatt carried everything else in his.
For lunch, we made something new to us: Onigirazu. I had stumbled on a link for the recipe I used after reading a piece in Lucky Peach about Onigiri (which I also want to try making, but haven't yet). The recipe for Onigirazu, true to it's word, took only 30 minutes to make, and the results were outstanding. It's basically a sandwich of seaweed, rice, and filling (in this case, egg, ham, cheese, and wasabi mayonnaise). In the time it took the rice to cook, I had set up the area for assembling the "sandwiches," cooked the omelet and prepared the wasabi mayonnaise. I went light on the wasabi, but I needn't have. All three of us could have handled the flavor at full-spice level. We will definitely be revisiting this recipe. I almost made it for lunch again today. Maybe tomorrow when I'm less scattered. Ha!
*There's no better (or humbling) way I can think of to learn something new than by doing the absolute best job you know how, and then handing it off to a professional to correct it and offer constructive criticism. Thanks to my technical editor's guidance, I've revamped the structure of this particular written pattern twice. I am stumbling into more lessons, rules, approaches, and issues than I ever thought possible. It's amazing.
**How great is this Mole-Bunny story for shoelace tying? It's courtesy of my friend Sarah.