Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How NOT to Have a Happy Holiday.

It's not a good idea to go to the grocery store at 8:00 pm 2 days before Xmas with a 2.5-year-old.

It's an even worse idea to do this WITHOUT A LIST.

It's always a bad idea to go to the grocery store without a list, but it's so much worse to go into a store stuffed full! of holiday! cheer! and shoppers who have glazed eyes and flecks of foam coming out of their mouths, while dragging a 2-year-old (who, to her credit, was pretty patient with me) and oh did I mention we hadn't eaten dinner yet? ALL THIS WITHOUT A LIST. I spent $25, I have no idea what I bought, and I know I'm going to have to go back tomorrow. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ed Emberly day

What we checked out from the library:

What we made:

Plus a couple other assorted attempts at some of the birds, which did not get finished because Piper kept ripping the little shapes off the paper as fast as I could glue them down.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Middle

Has anyone out there been watching this show? It's funny. It's so funny, I end each 30-minute episode out of breath.

I laughed particularly hard at the Christmas episode, when the dad (Mike) offers to help with the Christmas stuff, because "It's no big deal, Christmas is easy! I don't know what you get so worked up about every year." By the end of the episode he is wailing to the mom (Frankie) "Okay, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Christmas is HARD! This SUCKS!"

In fact, I may have laughed so hard that I fell off the couch, because it sounds just like the conversations that my husband I have around December 1st and December 21st of every year.

(photo stolen from Wikipedia)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grosgrain: Neige $100 Gift Card

Those clothes are freaking fabulous. I checked, and $100 will get you some nice stuff in their clearance section...

Neige $100 Gift Card GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Fashion: Shoes From Delia's

I love Delia's, although I feel a bit old shopping there these days. It's a website/catalog/store aimed at teens and 'tweens, which I am definitely not. But I've bought and worn their stuff since I actually was part of their target market, so I guess that just makes me a loyal customer, not ridiculous.

I think I have aged out of much of their offerings - I am not really in the market for Paul Frank bikinis, novelty t-shirts, or prom dresses - I'm never to old to shop for shoes.

Take, for example, these lovely things, the "Keds Dallas Wedge."
I have found myself loving yellow in the past year or so, and these hit all the right spots. They look like just the right mix of comfy and flirty and durable. Oh, and affordable, since they're on clearance for $29.99

There's a wide variety of Converse, including these beauties:
I love these "Converse Tweed Oxfords" very much (although I think that's a herringbone not a tweed but whatever), but I do not love the $55.50 asking price.

Side note: When did Converse get to be so expensive?! My favorite shoes are a pair of suede One-Stars that I have nearly loved to death and searching for a replacement has given me serious sticker shock. Right now, it appears I will have to replace my $15 super-comfy and awesomely-fitting originals with $70 shoddily-constructed ones that don't fit the same. I loved these shoes for the way the cradled my super-narrow feet, and all the ones I can find now have me feeling like I've just put on flippers. Anyway, back to the eye-candy:

These "Regal Boots" may be the answer to my quest for the perfect brown boot. Of course, there's also these, which may satisfy my totally inexplicable craving for a pair of cowboy-ish boots:

"Dingo Harness Leather Boot," $109.50. Similar, and also lovely:

"Blowfish Tough Stuff Suede Boot," on clearance for $79.50. Really, I think these have it all: a little bit Western with the saddle-yoke on the front, a little bit rock n' roll with the buckles, and a lot practical with the height, so that you don't freeze your legs off or get snow in your shoes.

I'm going to shut up now, because this post is long enough and I could talk about shoes all day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Overheard in Our House

"Umm...hey, did you turn on those twinkling snowflake lights for her?"
"What? Oh, yeah, I did. Why?"
"Oh, good, the living room isn't on fire, then."

Although I suppose if it was, our house would at least be warm, because we are too miserly to turn up the heat. We walk around in thick socks and layers of sweaters and find excuses to bake things, but we will not turn up the heat. Our Northern pride will not allow it, even if our icy toes are begging us to.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Isolationist Tendencies

I hadn't realized, until we were traveling in Michigan, out of our little bubble of home/park/mall play area/Ikea how much we've shielded Piper from most popular culture. It wasn't (entirely) deliberate; we only have network TV (and used to have HBO, but my $@$(@*%^*^ feelings about Time-Warner are irrelevant to the topic). We rarely actively expose her to the things that are considered "kid stuff" in American culture - no jangly just-for-kids music, no 23-minute commercials for toys cartoons on broadcast-TV. I, for the most part, can't stand that stuff, and she doesn't seem to miss it. I actively dislike almost everything Disney has put out in the last 15 years and I really disagree with the values their animated features present, so we avoid those too. I'm too dweeby to keep up with whatever the hipsters' kids are listening to this week, so we just skip it all.

She knows a few of them, of course; short of cutting ourselves off from the outside world altogether it's hard to keep them out. She knows who Strawberry Shortcake is, thanks to a box of my old toys. She loves the dancing monsters of Yo Gabba Gabba, the British dog Kipper, and her best friend is an 18-inch fully-jointed Spider-man action figure from a thrift store. All of this is stuff she figured out on her own, from watching or listening. We try to keep the rest of it away from her attention, because we feel that there's no reason for her to know the name of every single cartoon character out there (and because she can't ask for what she doesn't know about).

When we are out somewhere and she sees one of the many, many licensed-cartoon characters on some piece of plastic crap from China, sometimes she'll take particular notice, but it's only in a general way. She doesn't know the word "princess" (she calls them "costumes"), let alone the name of each and every specific Disney one. My MIL tried for a long time -and still occasionally does- to refer to Piper as "our little princess, what a princess, she's such a pretty pretty princess" and I nipped that shit in the bud. Every time my MIL said it, I got queasy with visions of frilly pinkness and incessant demands for toys.

Piper has her own names for the things she sees, and we are happy to let her keep using her imagination on them. She calls Elmo "that red monster," Barney is "big purple dinosaur" and she thinks Dora is Strawberry Shortcake (except she says "Straaabery Portcake and it's so cute I want to punch myself).

Which is why I felt uncomfortable A LOT when we were hanging out with people who would correct her words for things, would say "No, that's Dora" or "that's not just a monster, that's Elmo" in a store. If she asked "who's that?" or "what's that?" about something instead of asking her back "Who do you think it is?" or "I don't know, what IS that?" like we do, they'd say, "Oh, that's Dora and here's Diego and here's 17 other characters from some cartoon..." or "That's a princess costume, princesses wear pink sparkly dresses and tiaras and look really pretty..." I cringed a little and wondered if she'd soon be asking for every toy Nickelodeon currently licenses. My dad let her watch an hour of Wonder Pets and the very next time we walked into a store, she started pointing at the toys and asking for the toys by name.

More than that, it saddended me. When she pointed at Sponge Bob and said "Hey, look at that weird yellow monster guy!" and she got "No, that's Sponge Bob Square pants, and he lives in a pineapple, and here let me sing his theme song for you..." back from the adult she was talking to, I almost cried. I wanted to hear her thoughts on "the weird yellow monster guy." I wanted to hear what she had to say. And now it was gone, lost because someone felt the need to correct her imagination.

I know I can't keep this up forever. I am certain, when she gets to pre-school or kindergarten or playgroup or whatever, that some other little girl will give her a strict crash-course in The Ways Of All Things Princess, but for now I am pleased that she prefers the toys others have made for her and wooden blocks to tv-based toys with flashing lights and noises. She likes monsters and coloring and loves the giant bin of our old Duplo Lego pieces my mom brought down from Michigan. She likes dolls, but I don't call her "little Mommy" or assume that it's something coded into her cells because she's female. She likes to carry dolls and stuffed animals around, take all their clothes off, and give them drinks from her cups. She gives her babies a bath by holding them down in a bucket of water. I'm not ready to assume she's a nurturing soul just yet.

I am also certain that whatever little child gives her The Princess Lecture will also educate Piper about activities are "for girls" and "for boys." No matter how much we fight it at home, I'm sure what other kids think she should be doing will seem more important to her. So just as my heart fills with joy to see her playing equally with trucks, dinosaurs, dolls, and blocks, I've started to feel a sort of pre-sadness for the day when this innocence slips away. I know that one day soon I will bring out her dinosaurs and trains, and she will look at me and say scornfully, "Mom, those are for boys. I can't play with those. Now, where's my princess dress?"

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Just Another Day at Tragically Ordinary

Yesterday it was nice enough to go outside in shirtsleeves, so I battled the fierce wind, a curious toddler, and an unruly tarp to get the leaves raked up and and carted away from the front of the house. I was sweeping the front walk when I realized that Piper was awfully quiet. I dashed around the front of the house and found her standing in front of a bush we've never quite identified but which has recently sprouted clusters of tiny red berries. Piper looked at me and it was that look that every mother knows, no matter what form it takes: the I Have Done Something look.

"Did you eat one of these berries? Did you eat these?!" I asked, gripping her arms. She didn't appear to be chewing, but she was holding her mouth oddly, like she might have just swallowed really fast.
"I did," she said quietly.
"Oh, God. Did you really eat one?! Let me see inside your mouth!" she refused, and what followed was me trying to pry her jaw open and her shrieking and squirming away from me. I asked her twice more if she ate one, and every time she responded with the quiet and remorse-filled "I did" that usually means she did, in fact, commit the deed in question and knows she's in trouble.

I raced inside and booted up the computer.

While I was Googling "poisonous plants of North Carolina" and "NC Poison Control" to figure out what kind of berries Piper may or may not have eaten while we were outside (can you really trust the word of a 2.5-year-old?), Piper peed in her pants, took off all her clothes, ran around naked, then peed on the carpet.

While I was on the phone with Poison Control, she opened the fridge and climbed up the shelves, got some stuff out, and left the fridge door open.

30 minutes after THAT, she ate half the (cooked) bacon I was going to use for dinner sandwiches, and ran around touching everything with bacon-greasy hands.

And my husband wonders why I'm so irritable.

My Little Sister Evelyn Smock GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

These dresses are pretty darn cute:

I'm a big fan of simple clothes for kids. The stuff with tons of buttons and ruffles gives me hives. I really dig these, they would even work for winter layered over a long-sleeve tee and some leggings/yoga pants.

My Little Sister Evelyn Smock GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

First Step Photo Vinyl Wall Art $50 Gift Card GUEST GIVEAWAY

I need some of these:

First Step Photo Vinyl Wall Art $50 Gift Card GUEST GIVEAWAY.

Vinyl decals to go on the walls. Brilliant! Of course, I've seen this sort of thing before, but these are by far the cutest I've come across. They look awesome yet require minimal effort. Exactly what I like.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Grosgrain: Charm Design Guest Giveaway

Oh, man, look at those bags!

It's really too much for a bag addict like me to handle.

Click the link below for details on how to enter.

Grosgrain: Charm Design gift card guest giveaway.

Home, home on the range - er, subdivision

I am home again, grateful for some nice time spent with my family but really, really glad to be back in our quiet little house. We actually got back really early last Tuesday morning (like 2:00 am early), but then my mom was here all week so computer time was almost impossible to come by.

Because of the trip, I did NOT meet my goal of 30 posts in 30 days for November. I did pretty well until that last week and then it all went out the window. Oh, well, I tried, right?

I am still playing catch-up, a week later. While we were gone, my very nice husband took three of our more troublesome felines and got them shots, then took them to a no-kill shelter. He then had our carpets professionally cleaned, and moved our daughter's stuff from the den (which had been her bedroom because it was the biggest room with a closet) to the two back bedrooms. So now, instead of a giant room full of her stuff, a computer/guest room, and a room full of cat boxes and assorted junk, we have a playroom, a toddler bedroom, and a office/guest room.

He did not, however, balance the checkbook, pay bills, sort the mail, or attend to any of the other regular household-upkeep stuff that I do. My mom was here, and she played with Piper a lot, but somehow this did not translate into free time for me. I find that this happens a lot with my family. I spent three weeks at my parents' house, where there were plenty of people to play with my daughter and keep her occupied. Somehow, despite a roster of adult playmates, I did not complete a single one of the three knitting projects I brought with me (or the four that I added while I was there). I barely got to sit in front of a computer or check my e-mail on my phone. I didn't cook half as much stuff as I had planned.

Not only did I not get to the cooking and crafting that should've come with some kid-free time, I barely took any pictures, didn't get to visit everyone on my list, and didn't even make my requisite Michigan-visit trip to Belle Isle. There just wasn't time to do it all.

I do not know why this happens. It just doesn't add up, and I can't figure it out. I suspect that it has something to do with my mom, for the same reasons that it takes three hours to leave the house when she is with us and we never manage to get anywhere on time, or the mysterious force-field surrounding her which somehow means I never get one usable photo of Piper when she is in the room. There is some sort of warp in the time-space continuum surrounding her, and it throws a big monkey wrench into all my plans.

Piper, however, had a blast playing with her grandparents, aunt, and uncle. So far she seems to be re-adjusting fairly well. I thought she might freak out when we came back and all her stuff was moved around, but really she's quite pleased with the bedroom + playroom arrangement. It doesn't seem to have helped her sleep any better, but hey, I can hope, right?