The mermaid

mermaid RiCerulean shimmers amidst shocked white spray
Undulating, stirring the constant changing tides
The crash of salt and sea
Rocks jutting just above scream “halt!”
She baths atop this surfaced throne
Watching the waves churn about her
Head turning heaven-ward, she is still
Sunkissed skin merges with iridescent drops
Whilst pearls and shells modestly adorn

*inspired by the word ‘wave’ from Six Word Fridays

Land! Treasure! And a message in the bottle

I’ve been planning this session in my head for quite some time: a pirate ship, a few swarthy crew members, a beach.  I pictured my kid-version of Captain Jack Sparrow coming to life in front of my camera lens.

I ordered a boat. When it arrived in the little box, I told hubs he’d have to blow it up. I think his heart stopped at the thought. “You bought a boat?” He asked, as though the very idea were absurd.

“Yes, a boat.”

Truthfully, it is a boat, though the little wooden transportation would hardly float and is certainly not water-ready. But it is absolutely perfect for my photo projects.

Ri had another tutu coming. I know, I know, you’re thinking “Another tutu?” Our collection is taking over my “studio space.” And yet, I couldn’t pass on a chance at getting a little pirate set. Nor could I skip getting the super-reduced $5 costume Babies ‘R’ Us version.

We ventured to our favorite park early in the morning, but the sun was already too high in the sky. Harsh shadows threatened us, but my little pirate model was ready. Ready to run from the camera, ready to jump out of her docked boat, ready to attack anyone near with a driftwood sword she’d picked up on the shore. Typical, truly.
pirate 3

pirate 2

pirate

This is childhood

Explore.
ri web
Discover.
IMG0549web
Play.

RiAnne, 18 months.

Accepting opportunities: Viscaya editorial shoot

We finally had an uneventful travel to a destination, if you consider uneventful arriving at the right airport on time for agent ticketing, getting seated next to my 11-year-old instead of across the plane, and being given Group One boarding (which for stowing carry on luggage is absolutely essential). I noted as Chi struggled with an open bag of extra items that I might need to be more conscientious of her packing methods. This was made more clear as I observed her slightly stained jeans and her spare pair of too short jeans dangling out of her bag. And it was confirmed when the bag exploded inside the TSA scanner and blocked the conveyer belt’s rollers from spinning. I might have been a bit snappy about the whole thing, hurrying the poor girl along with orders she hardly had time to process before I spat the next. In true Chi fashion, though, she took it all in stride and didn’t bother to contain her bubbling excitement about the trip.

I learned quickly that sitting behind the bulk head is not ideal. There’s no space to stow the things too personal and important to put in an overhead compartment – one I can hardly reach without precariously leaning forward, stretching out my arms, and standing on a seat on tip toes. It is also not ideal to pack all of the diapers and wipes needed for a non-stop trip with a toddler in a bag not kept in close proximity. [oh my goodness, the smells that child can create!] Despite this inconvenient lack of storage, the good thing about this particular row of seats is that it offers ample leg room. Certainly, I don’t have need to stretch far, but I could let Ri toddle between Chi and I as she pulled out magazines to mumble-”read” before releasing them to the floor and then opened barf bags to moan and hum into. She also made frien-emies of the first class flight attendant as she insisted on playing peek-a-boo with the drawn curtain separating us coach flyers from the more important passengers.
 

Ri updown hotel

Chi sat at the window, watching endless clouds appear and disappear, and searching for land as the plane climbed into the air and descended back to land. A smile cemented itself to her face. It grew bigger when the attendant gifted us headphones for watching the in-flight television. It didn’t waiver when she fought with Ri who tenaciously attacked the cords and yanked them out of the socket repeatedly so as to make enjoying the program impossible.

We arrived with little incident to Miami International, one of the largest airports I’ve ever had the displeasure of walking through to reach the exit. It took us nearly half an hour to reach the rental car shuttle to our off-site service (awesomely located two minutes from our hotel). Outside, the temperatures overpowered our winter-weary bodies. Heat – glorious heat – at last! And… humidity, I noted with dismay as my flat ironed hair drew in tight to my scalp.

Once in our rental – a lovely Volkswagen with ultra powerful breaks that rocked us to stillness with the lightest of taps – we ventured to the hotel, checked in early, and perused the brochures from the lobby for adventure.

After reading several awful reviews of disgruntled travelers, we decided against two local marine and land animal attractions.  I just couldn’t justify paying out money for places where past visitors reported ill-treated living creatures haphazardly placed about the parks for us to gawk at.  I’m no PETA fanatic, but I don’t want to contribute to abuse by pretending I accept mediocre owners mishandling their charges for a quick payload.  Remember that circus with the dog relentlessly biting the pony it was placed on?

I gave Chi ultimate choice, and she picked for us to go to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
 

Where’s the love, Ri?

Every once in a while I find myself perusing the BabyCenter.com e-mails delivered to my inbox. While Ri has long since advanced beyond the weekly milestone reports, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that we’re on the right track in this race to create superior offspring. I don’t know who I’m competing against, and I really don’t care. I learned a long time ago that comparisons with friends is a huge no-no of the shake your head emphatically and cluck your tongue in reply magnitude. Yep, I still catch myself thinking “My child did that eons ago, what took ya’ll so long.” Then I admonish my silent brag and remember that each one of my “feathers” has sped through or lagged behind on some growth (and maturity) marker along the way.

The most recent article was one that teased my maternal heartstrings: “7 signs that your toddler loves you.” I mean, it’s the week of Valentine’s Day when love is all anyone is talking about. My youngest isn’t talking much yet – except of course to chant “Da-da-da” or “aye-t” (eat). She’s long forgotten “Ma,” which she used to say with ease. And she’s pretty expressive non-verbally, so she’s not really trying to use her words, whatever ones she might possess.

So I couldn’t resist peeking at this little information gem. Does Ri love me, her mama? Can a toddler really love? Does she even have a choice? [Feel free to gasp or insert “dundundun!!!!” sounds for emphasis on that last one.]

Given opportunity, Ri makes her preferred person of the moment known. One minute it is big brother, the next, it’s youngest brother (or his snack). Playtime means seeking the one with the best energy – maybe Chi, maybe one of the littles. If she’s hungry, no one satisfies quite like mom, with the built in milk jugs. And if she’s sleepy? Well, it depends on her mood – Dad, Rico, Mom, anyone who’ll cuddle and lay still.

Ri blue-babySo where is the love? The article reports the proof is in the display.

7 signs that your toddler loves you:
1. She mirrors your face.
2. She takes her opinions (and reactionary cues) from you.
3. She copies your behavior.
4. She engages with you, gives you attention.
5. She uses you as home base.
6. She turns to you for rescue.
7. She seeks comfort from you.

The verdict? Yep, she loves me. No need to pluck petals from a flower on that one. Heck, seems like she sort of loves all of us… even strangers. Miss Social Sass is forever engaging audiences and drawing in the responses.

Not here, there

Mama goofed big time. I watched as the silver Caddie sped away from the curb. It was barely 4:30 in the morning and the sun had yet to break out above the horizon. I juggled my purse, our combined suitcase, and my loaded turquoise camera bag – careful not to tip the latter, thus spilling the contents dangerously to the concrete floor. (How foolish to buy this “fashionable” case with the open flap that had no consideration for secure closure!) Ri sat wriggling in her stroller, fighting against the seat belt that confined her to it.

The check-in was nearly empty, with the only two attendants assisting in bag checks. A row of waiting kiosks beckoned, their screens showing “push start to begin.” I navigated the winding path leading to the vacant machines and tapped the blinking button. With so few people in the building, there was plenty of time, still, to get through security and board my 5:45 am flight. It asked for my name, which I gave it. It returned with something like “ticket not found. Choose another entry option?” Huffing, I fumbled for my ticket confirmation paperwork and entered in the number recorded there. This time the machine replied, “Error. See attendant.”

The two attendants were still busy, processing seemingly endless papers as they scanned bar codes and printed off receipts and other documents. I happened to notice another woman lingering near the ropes dividing priority check-in from the general lines. “Excuse me,” I began, not clear whether she was a waiting passenger or an airline agent. She turned toward me, aggravation obvious in her twisted, tight lipped grimace. I saw, then, her name tag and airline affiliation. “Umm… the machine says I should see attendant. I’m supposed to have a 5:45 flight to Houston.”

She reached out and snatched my paperwork, scanned the flight information and shoved it back at me. “You’re supposed to be at DCA. That’s Reagan National. There’s your problem,” she said, as she turned on her heels and walked quickly away.

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