Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010


We got a white Christmas...barely. It started snowing at 10 pm December 25 and didn't stop until 1l am the next day.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Improvised Reindeer

Since we introduced her to Rudolph, reindeer have been a big topic of discussion around here. She did this all on her own, and was quite pleased with it.

Happy Holidays, wherever you may be. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

All Aglow

Holiday lights at Stowe Gardens.

A Little Christmas Crafting

Well, I am knee-deep in red worsted-weight wool and elbow-high in bread dough right now, but I thought I'd share what I made last night. It looked like this when I started:

Remind me to sew in the daytime next year so I can take a decent photo.

This was a t-shirt I gave my husband the first or second Christmas we were together. He loved it and wore it and wore it and wore it, until it had paint splatters and holes and frayed seams and the decal was starting to flake off. It had reached the end of its life as a garment, but I wanted to keep it in the family and he needed a good stocking. He's been using some cheapie dollar-bin one for a few years now and last year Piper and I both got cool stockings, so it was his turn. This was a pretty fast project, once I got going. I traced one of our existing stockings for a pattern, and spent some time fussing with placement to try and get the most leftover t-shirt fabric when I was done, but by then it was 11:43 on December 23rd and I decided just to hack it out of the middle because otherwise it would never get done.

 Here is the finished product, which will probably bring a smile to the face of anyone who has played Super Mario Bros

Hello, I am a Goomba Stocking. Nice to meet you.

I had the seam on the inside but didn't like the way it looked, so I just went around the outside, in dark-green thread because I have a huge cone of green thread and no green projects to use it on. The top band/hanging loop is a piece from the jelly roll pack I bought to make the binding for Piper's Beatles quilt (I thought the green was festive and it matched the stitching). I didn't line it, and I probably should've, but it will only have stuff in it for a few hours so I hope it won't get too stretched out of shape. The seam is extremely sturdy and I think it will be okay. Maybe before I put it away with the rest of the Christmas decorations I'll make a lining and tuck it inside and patch a couple tiny holes in the fabric and patch up the paint on the decal. Probably not, but I'll think about it really hard.

My husband is just tickled to death with the thing. He was touched because it's a shirt that has history for us, but he also thinks it's a pretty kick-ass stocking. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Want This So Much

It's a magnet, which is awesome, but I'd take a t-shirt or an iron-on/sew-on patch, too.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rocking Out With Rankin/Bass

It took me two full weeks to clean up the mess that resulted from our recent visit to my parents' house. This is pretty typical - any time we visit them or they visit us, it takes forever for the piles of stuff they dump off in our living room to filter through the house. I am trying to get rid of as much junk as possible, because even though we asked the grandparents to chip in on a family membership to the kids' science museum instead of more doodads and clothes my kid doesn't need, I am anticipating that quite a few pieces of useless plastic crap will find their way to our house anyway. It is always such a job to sort and box and drive and donate and haul and sell and toss.

Between that, the huge amounts of holiday knitting I've been tending to, and all the other holiday-related running around that needs done, I have not had much time for blogging lately. I've also been trying to spend more time with my kid and less time online, which is not always as easy as I'd like it to be.

We have been doing a lot of playing with her new dollhouse, snuggling under blankets on the couch, and watching Christmas movies. Our kid-friendly collection of holiday viewables was pretty lacking (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, while one of my favorite movies ever, and set during the holiday season, is not exactly appropriate viewing for a 3.5-year-old). My husband came to the rescue, sailing through the door one evening with this under his arm, and one or more of the discs have been in constant rotation ever since. We both fondly remember most of these from our childhood, and waiting impatiently every December for them to pop up on the TV schedule. Even though we've both seen them dozens of times, it's pretty fun to watch them again with Piper, who is seeing them all for the first time. And the second. And the fifth. We have watched Rudolph every night for a week. I'm getting a little tired of his oh-so-shiny-nose.

Fortunately, I have plenty of knitting to distract me. Did you notice how this is sitting on that still-unfinished Tomten?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stuff It.

We have so much stuff.

Towering piles of it. Stuff on every surface. Books tumbling from shelves, cd's stacked in towers on the office floor. Junk and crap and things and stuff. And I still can't find anything I want.

I've started to go through another period of missing things that I gave away during previous moves. Right now, I desperately miss the camo military jacket I bought at in Kalamazoo at a kick-ass vintage shop that was going out of business. I got up early on a Sunday and made my friend with a car drive me from our dorm to downtown just so I could go to their closing sale. That jacket fit me like a glove, went with everything, saw me through all manner of college hijinks, kept me just the right amount of warm...and I stupidly got rid of it two or three moves ago, when we were bailing our stuff out of the apartment like water from a sinking ship. I'm really, really tired of reaching for a favorite object and remembering that I gave it away, to I-don't-remember-who or Goodwill or, a homeless man who happened by (true story). We have so much stuff, and yet I can't find anything I want when I want it, and I've had to give away things I should've kept to accommodate all this crap now towering around me. It's very frustrating.

I just spent two weeks visiting my parents, whose house is also crammed with stuff, and they seem to think it's their job to fill up my house as well. Every time they come visit, they cram their car absolutely full of stuff, and pile it all in my living room as soon as they arrive. They laugh about it, they think it's funny. Every time I go visit them, I come back with suitcases and tote bags and boxes of more stuff. My mom will actually pay the airline's $25-each-checked-bag fee for me, so she can send home extra suitcases full of crap.

This time, just to add to the chaos, we brought back a four-foot-tall dollhouse my uncle built for Piper. He is staying at my parents' house while getting cancer treatment at the University of Michigan hospitals, and he is doing well. But he tires easily and can't work a regular job at the moment, and has set up a makeshift woodworking studio on my parents' back porch. He worked as a professional carpenter for more than 30 years, so my mom has had him busy repairing the trim, building porch railings and steps, and building new windowsills for her house. He's also built my sister a huge shoe-rack and my brother a desk large enough to accommodate his computer-gaming habits. The dollhouse is gorgeous, four floors and each with its own staircase and fireplace. His specialty was finish carpentry, so there are amazing details, and Piper loves the thing. It is a wonderful gift, worthy of heirloom status.

I just wish they had consulted me on the design, and not given us a 50-pound, four-foot item to stuff into our already-bursting house, only a few months before we put it up for sale. I wouldn't have said "no, don't build it," but I would have shown my uncle something like this or this one, which we could take apart and pack up easily.

Did I mention the matching barn?


Monday, November 29, 2010


This project was a birthday gift for a dear little friend. His mom and I are pals, and she'd mentioned she was looking for a way to pack lunch/snacks for him on their adventures. I couldn't find a kid-size bento box that was affordable (or would ship in time for his birthday), so I made an approximation.

He's a big fan of sharks, so that was the first thing to find.

Then I tracked down some little containers that would nest inside it, and made sure there was enough room for a sippy cup or kid-size water bottle. I added a small freezer pack to keep everything cool.

The last part of the gift was cloth napkins. I let Piper pick some fabric, then I cut out squares and hemmed them using decorative stitches on my machine (also with a little help - "MOMMY! You hafta use THAT ONE! I want you to use the squares!"). It was pretty fun; I had never tried most of them before, and they looked cute in contrasting thread along the edges.

Piper made the wrapping paper and helped me tie the bow. She was quite pleased to give this special gift to her special little friend. I think his mother appreciated a gift that didn't require assembly or make noise.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Outdoor knitting

A Tomten in progress. I'm experiencing a bit of frustration with the pattern, both with the instructions and the amount of yardage it's taking. Someone gave me a ginormous ball of bulky-weight acrylic yarn, and I thought this would be a good way to use it up. The kid really needs a warm, trashable, washable sweater to wear to preschool, and I thought this soft, fuzzy stuff would not only be comfortable, but I wouldn't have a heart attack if she got paint on it (unlike, say, something made from this gorgeous yarn).

Except that I've still got the hood AND sleeves to do, and I'm more than halfway through my 615-yard ball of yarn. Which means I either need to forget the hood and proceed to the sleeves (and I still might not have enough), or go get another ginormous ball of acrylic (the only size this yarn comes in can best be described as "enough to get you through the Apocalypse"). I would definitely have enough yarn that way, but I'd also end up with a bunch of leftover fuzzy acrylic yarn, and probably find myself in this same position next year when I'm trying to use that up. This is actually my second attempt at a Tomten; the one I started last fall ground to a halt when I ran out of yarn, also some given-to-me stuff I was trying to use up and also right at the sleeve joins. Hmm, I'm sensing a pattern here.

I've probably made it too big. Maybe my measurements were off, or my math, or something. Oh, well, better too big than too small, I guess. I'll just roll up the sleeves and get a couple years' use out of it...provided I ever finish the damned thing, that is.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Impromptu Picnic

On a chilly day, we decided eating lunch in the front yard would be more fun.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Amazing What You Can Do With The Right Tools.

It's no secret that I love Babylegs. They have been one of the most useful items of baby/kid gear we've owned. They continue to be so, especially now that she's in preschool. The kids spend at least an hour on the (really cool wooden/natural) playground at her school every day, and they also spend time inside playing and doing art or other activites. The weather this fall has been pretty dry, with cool mornings and warm afternoons. Sometimes there's a 15 or 20-degree difference in the temperature between getting into the car at 9:00 and picking her up from the school playground at 1:15. I put her in shorts or a skirt + legwarmers in the morning, and when she gets too warm she can take them off, ditch her jacket, and run around without overheating.

However, at $12 a pair, with care instructions that include the words "hand wash," they are not exactly ideal for the rigors of paint, soap, glue, slides, woodchips, sandbox, hiking trails, and everything else she gets into at school. Plus the actual Babylegs styles seem to be getting both more cutesy and more gendered - lots more sections labeled "girl" and "boy" and lots fewer stylish designs - so I decided to just make her some out of knee socks.

I'd seen the tutorials around for a few years (and had a secret stash of knee socks hidden under some fabric in my closet, just waiting for the "someday" when I could get to them), so I looked over a few sets of instructions, threaded my machine, and got to work. It was supposed to be easy-peasy: just cut off the foot part, chop off the heel & toe, use the remaining small tube of fabric from the foot part to make a band, and sew it to the leg part. Ten minutes, tops.

You can guess where this is headed.

Even though I cut and pinned carefully, the knit sock fabric did not cooperate. It slipped. It dragged. I swore. I shrieked. I hunched over my machine with clenched hands and a sweaty brow. I tried different stitches, different machine settings. I sewed and ripped it out over and over. And after four days of failure, I remembered all the praise I had heard about ball-point needles. I bought a pack of eight.

Once I got home and put one in the machine, it only took me ten minutes to sew up all four pairs.

Ball point needles! For sewing knits! Who knew that would be the key to my problems sewing with knits?!

If only all my problems could be solved for $3.95.

(crappy cell phone photo, taken under compact florescent light bulbs, at night)

These are primarily Halloween ones, because I have a big pile of socks waiting to be legwarmer-ized but it was four days to Halloween at this point, so I wanted to do those first. The long blue ones were the experimental pair. I figured if I screwed them up, it was okay, blue socks are easy to come by, but I wasn't about to fool around with my $5-a-pair Halloween socks. Thanks to the needle change, they came out really well, except for the part where I didn't realize the argyle skulls would come out upside-down on the bottom bands. Oh, well. Eventually I'll get some plain gray ribbing and replace the bottom bands on those. Maybe. I sewed all these with a straight normal stitch set on the longest length, and they all stretch fine. I did not finish the seams in any way, because I am lazy and I keep forgetting to buy some pinking shears. I suppose they could come undone, but I don't really care. I made these partly because they're cute but mostly so she could trash them at school, so it's no big deal. Besides, if they start to come undone, that's Future Steph's problem.

The short ruffled blue ones I did with a zig-zag stitch, because they were toe socks and there was nothing to make a bottom band out of. Besides, this way they will fit nicely over her shoes and keep water/snow/dirt out of her socks. They also make some wicked cute arm/hand-warmers - I know this because I keep wearing them that way. Every time I do, Piper looks annoyed and asks me "Mommy, you have Babylegs on your ARMS! They are supposed to go on LEGS!"

Friday, November 05, 2010

Falling Around

Yesterday was one of the rare days when I am actually glad to live here. The weather was perfect and classically Fall - low 50's, light rain, just breezy enough to make a cup of hot chocolate sound good. The neighborhood was quiet and peaceful for a change, and we went outside to take advantage of it.

I took lots of pictures of leaves. 

Her raincoat, boots, and umbrella made happy reappearances.

Her favorite splashing puddle was back, and she greeted it by riding her tricycle right through the middle.

We even went for a walk in the (slightly soggy) woods.

And then it was back inside for hot chocolate, followed by a nap. As we roamed around the quiet and deserted field behind our house, I was extremely grateful to live in a place where we can pull a perfect Fall day out of early November. Sometimes I forget that a lot of people are battening down the hatches against Winter right now, whereas we can still do hours of outdoor exploration wearing jeans and sweatshirts.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Candy Corn

This was her Halloween costume, as per her very specific and repeated request. I was going to make her some sort of dress and knit a pointy white hat, but her grandma came to the rescue with this number she did (without a pattern and with only a guess at Piper's measurements).

She was thrilled with it, as all onlookers seemed to be. We took her out trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, which we usually try to avoid doing, but since this is Super-Bible-Land, a lot of neighborhoods made their kids trick-or-treat on Saturday instead of Sunday and after some confused driving around we decided to just tough it out on the home turf. Luckily I had bought a bag of emergency candy, so I didn't feel like a total heel for partaking and not handing any out. Of course, it took about six minutes (no, really) for the bag of chocolate bars to disappear because our street was chockablock full of teenagers not even bothering with costumes but bowling over littler kids in their race from house to house.

 We took Piper up and down half our block, a trip which lasted about  45 minutes and filled her little plastic pumpkin about a third of the way. It was more than enough candy for a 3-year-old, and she had a good time talking to the neighbors. It was a little surprising to see how many of them know us by sight and her by name. I also realized this is the only time all year we see a lot of these kids' parents.

I think she would've gone home happy after the first or second house, but the house on the end of the block had some wicked awesome decorating going on (it included a fog machine and music), so we sauntered down to check it out. She was pretty tired and ready to quit after that, and she begged me to carry her between the last few houses as we walked home.

The first thing she said when she woke up the next morning was "Can I have some candy?"

Thursday, October 28, 2010


The twilight view out our back door. I'm so sad October is almost over. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bike Ride

I finally took my new bike out for a spin. It was a cool, cloudy day, and although I'd only intended to go around the block a couple of times, instead I found myself pedaling full speed out of our neighborhood. I rode for more than an hour, not going all that far from home, but certainly appreciating how much better everything looks from the seat of a bike. I stopped long enough to snap this photo before I headed home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Roasted butternut squash and potatoes. I've been eating this at least once a week. It's EASY. Just chop up a butternut squash and a couple potatoes, toss with olive oil, garlic/garlic salt and thyme, spread on a cookie sheet and stick it in a 350-degree oven for a while. Stir or flip the pieces every now and then so they get nicely roasted on all sides. Mine usually takes 30-40 minutes, but check it after 20. YUM.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Zombie Dough Skull

During a couple of Piper's recent sick days, we turned to Play-Doh as a way to combat the boredom. I broke out the Halloween cookie cutters and made this (the cutaway skull was accidental, then I filled it with braaaaiiiins). I was quite pleased with myself, Piper was amused, and best of all, my husband was totally grossed out. He likes to watch slasher flicks, yet he could not handle me rearranging the zombie's brains.

"Whaat? His brains are crooked. I'm fixing them."
"Sure you are. That's so gross!"
"Are you saying I'm intentionally trying to gross you out by messing with my little zombie skull?"
"Yes, yes I am."
"Hmm. Well, I wasn't before, but now that you mention it..."

Love means never having to say "braaaaiiiins."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On the Mend

I think, providing whichever deity is responsible for toddler sickness doesn't read this and smite me for my hubris (probably a Greek one, those gods were bastards), that we are getting better over here. It's been a scary, scary week for me. It started with a little cough last week and progressed into violent hacking, 103+ fevers, and all sorts of digestive pyrotechnics. I learned a few things:

1. True love is hugging and cuddling your kid even though she's got salsa-and-ice-cream puke in her hair.
2. Front-load washers really suck at getting bodily fluids out of bed linens. Especially white duvet covers.
3. I really need to find a pediatrician who will take me seriously.

My vivacious and chatty little girl turned, over the course of two days, into a sunken-eyed, hollow-cheeked child who was too weak to even sit up and play puzzles. I pestered the doctor about the fact that Piper was exhibiting signs of extreme dehydration, but got the same "it's a virus, it'll pass" response I get to everything. Even when Piper lost over a pound in two days, I was brushed off. I was freaked, because for a kid who only weighed 29 lbs to begin with, that's a pretty big loss. She wasn't eating, she wasn't drinking. I had to sit with her in bathtubs full of cool water and pump her full of ibuprofen to keep the fever at a reasonable level. All she could do was lay on the couch glassy-eyed and watch cartoons or listen to stories. I was freaking the hell out. I followed all the instructions I was given to the letter, trying to coax her into drinking Pedialyte or eating crackers, bananas and rice. I kept weighing her and so far she's lost about 3 lbs, 10% of her body weight. I ran her into the pediatrician's office both last Friday and again on Monday, making the 40-minutes-each-way drive only to be told that it was no big deal, not to give her too much medicine (I got yelled at Monday for giving the antibiotic the doctor had prescribed during the Friday visit) and not to let her have any juice. I ground my teeth and tried not to panic as my baby got sicker and sicker.

Finally, on Wednesday, I couldn't take it any more and when, on the way back from a grocery run, she asked to have "chicken and fries" for lunch, we hit a drive-through (like I needed an excuse to get Chick-Fil-A). She ate more at that meal than she had in the past five days put together, and I started to feel a little less anxious.

She was well enough yesterday for a quick trip to the big children's library (I was looking for a book they had weeded out, so I could buy it, but no luck) and a treat from the French bakery. I am letting her watch just a little more TV right now, and then I'm shutting the damned thing off. She has watched more TV in the past week than in the past six months, and I suspect there's going to be some withdrawal. I did get to introduce her to a couple new things (I love Kipper, but four hours in a row is enough), like:

- The Last Unicorn, a beloved movie from my childhood. She loved it and now asks to watch "the beaunicorn one" every other day.
- Shaun the Sheep, which was new to me too. I adore Nick Park (creator of Wallace & Gromit) and Aardman Studios*, so I thought we'd give it a shot. It totally cracks me up, and I love that the sheep are always using their brains and cunning to solve problems.
- Hocus Pocus, which is one of my all-time favorite Halloween movies. It's silly and ridiculous and features Bette Midler camping it up like only Bette can. The storyline is still a little bit over my 3-year-old's head, but she enjoys screechy witches on brooms as much as anyone.

I realized this week that once again, my Fall is whizzing away. How is it almost Halloween? We haven't done a single fun Fall thing yet. No hikes, no apple-picking, no cider doughnuts. No pies, no vats of homemade applesauce. I made pumpkin bread, apple-pumpkin muffins, and sweet-potato chilli, but that's been it. We have scheduled a visit to the pumpkin patch Sunday morning. I am trying to work on knitting, but I just can't settle down and get to it. I feel like the summer dragged on forever, and now my favorite months will be over before I can blink. I think it's because October is so warm here (still 80+ most days), I just don't realize what's going on until it's almost over. The leaves have barely started falling from the trees. Yesterday Piper was feeling well enough to play outside for a while, and I attempted to rake up a leaf pile for her and her little neighborhood friend to jump in. The result was pretty pathetic, even though I raked up everything I could find from our front and decent-sized back yards, and a little from the neighbor's yard as well.

*When my siblings and I were kids, my dad used to watch the Angry Kid cartoons with us and he laughed just as hard as we did. Now that I'm older, I understand why he laughed so hard. I totally love the geniuses at Aardman, because the same is true of Shaun the Sheep. Piper and I laugh in the same spots, sometimes for completely different reasons. The original Creature Comforts was much funnier than Creature Comforts America, though.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Sandals Really Make the Outfit

Taken weeks ago, during a "chilly" spell (meaning it was only 67 during the day, not 87).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Sweet New Ride

This bike is awesome. What is more awesome is that it was FREE. I won it. I never win anything, but I am always entering contests and drawings. To have my first win be a totally sweet brand-new Cafe 8 bike...well, I'm over the moon. There's just a few hitches:

1. It's really big. I'm going to have to lower the seat almost all the way in order to ride it with any degree of control. It is not a light bike by any standard, and
2. as I have a 3-year-old who needs to somehow be on there with me, I am concerned about being able to handle a sizable bicycle with a big 'ol extra seat on the back. Particularly since it will contain a squirmy, loud child much of the time.
3. All the child bike seats are really fugly. There seem to be about three models of commercially-available child bike seats in the U.S. and they all look like they're made of Duplo blocks.So I have this sleek, awesome-looking bike, and now I have to make it look like a Tonka Toy by putting a huge plastic seat on the back.  I'm looking on EBay for a vintage one, since they are mostly wire-frame deals that won't add significant weight. Unfortunately, most of the ones I've found so far seem to be rusty, dirty wrecks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Has it really been that long since I've posted? Argh.

I feel like so far this fall was supposed to be a frantic sprint that would soon wind down, but has instead turned into a marathon. Having Piper in preschool 11 hours per week has turned out to suck up a lot of time, not free up a few mornings. Between the 25-minutes-each-way drive and volunteer duties (which are NOT going well, by the way), I am feeling more time-crunched than ever. My husband is working crazy hours, which leaves almost no time for family stuff. I love, LOVE October, but so far we haven't done any fun fall things - no walks collecting leaves, no pumpkin patch, no apple-picking. I feel like the summer dragged on forever and fall is just sliding through my fingers. Our neighborhood has been particularly unpleasant lately, which is making me anxious and jittery. Piper has been really sick for over a week now, with hardcore stomach troubles and a recurrent raging fever (103+) that my irritating pediatrician assures me is "no cause for alarm." I've also been warned that this thing is highly contagious and that we are sure to get it before long. Which is grrreat, because we both totally have the time to spend a week laying around eating crackers.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last Days of Summer

I hope, anyway. It's been in the 70's and rainy this week, lovely Fall weather that I am ridiculously happy to see. I took these on a day when the temps were still in the 90's, but the light had changed to be more...well, Fallish. I don't know how to explain it exactly, but one day you wake up and the outside looks a little different. Even if the temperature has you sweating and drinking gallons of iced tea.

Man, it was hot that day. Hence the wet dress (we were playing in her wading pool). I am not sorry to see this summer go!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Conversations With Piper: Poop and Parts

We've now reached the poop stage, I think.

I thought we could avoid it, because we are not the sort of people who find poop jokes funny most of the time, and we don't usually spend a lot of time talking about poop. I thought there would be a few questions about poop, maybe, but had no idea that this subject would occupy so much space in my daughter's brain. I think it comes out of a growing awareness of bodies (her own and others'), body functions, and discovering how many creatures share characteristics. Whatever the reason, we have been discussing poop and body parts a lot lately:

While petting the cat:

"Mommy, is this Mei-Mei's belly?"
"Yeah, but don't...just...just - pet her gently, okay? GENTLY."
"I'm pettin' Mei-Mei's belly."
"Yes, you are. GENTLY. Don't squeeze."
"Yes, Baby?
"Do you think there's poop in Mei-Mei's belly?"
"Well, yeah, I think there's probably some poop in there."
"Do you think she's going to poop in the litterbox?"
"Yes, that is where kitties are supposed to poop."
"Do you think there's poop in her belly?"
"Yes, I imagine so."
She paused and then looked at me. "Mommy?"
"Yes, Piper?"
"Is this your belly?"
"Do you think there's poop in your belly?"
"But do you think you're not going to poop in the litterbox?"
"No, kiddo, I don't think I am. In fact, I can say that I am definitely not going to poop in the litterbox."
"You're gonna poop on the potty."
"Yes, I am. Because that's where people poop, they poop in the potty. But kitties poop in a litterbox."
"Yes, Baby?"
"Do you think there's poop in Ellie's belly?"
"Yes, I think there poop in Ellie's belly. Don't whack Ellie on the head like that..."

Before we go to the playground:
"I'm going to go potty before we go, okay? You really should too."
"Are you going to poop?"
"No, I'm not going to poop."
"You should poop! Please try to poop!"
"Kiddo...oh, you know what? Never mind. Just find your shoes, okay?"

When I'm giving Ellie Benadryl:
"Is that Ellie's medicine?"
"Yep. It's for her belly."
"Does Ellie have scratches on her belly?"
"Yes, she does. That's why I'm giving her medicine."
"Did Ellie scratch her belly? And that's why she has to get medicine?"
"That's exactly right."
"Mommy? Do you think Ellie has poop in her belly that she was scratching?"
"Yeah, Kiddo, I think there's probably some poop in her belly..."

At least every other day, we have a conversation similar to this. We also talk about how other people do the same things we do; that is, if it's bath time at our house, she speculates that one of her classmates is probably also taking a bath at their house. I can see where her little mind is going with this, and how she's realizing the world is so much bigger than what she sees and touches every day. It's pretty damned cool, actually. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Purple Poncho in Action

I finally got a photo of it where she's not naked or blurry. I realize that the poncho itself is slightly blurry in this photo, but trust me, it's better this way. This is the only one where she wasn't making some really freaky face. Wait, I did find one where she was only making a face that was merely a little weird and not really freaky:

She is exactly like her father; every time I pull out the camera he starts making strange, freaky faces too. Trying to photograph the two of them together usually causes me to pull out my hair, kick things, or give up and buy myself a gigantic sugary latte instead of shooting pictures.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For a Brief Instant, I Almost Got a Warm, Fuzzy Feeling

A couple Saturdays ago, for 90 minutes, I didn't hate our neighborhood.

A helicopter was hovering just past the woods that border our subdivision. Our best guess was that they were filming whatever was going on over at the Whitewater Center. It was interesting, but hardly cause for alarm.

The neighborhood kids, however, were pretty wound up. Particularly the little boys, who whizzed around on their bikes trying to get a better view of the hovering aircraft. The best view could be had from the sidewalk next to and in front of our house, which led to a cluster of kids hanging around my mailbox. It also meant I got to hear all their theories on what the helicopter was doing there.

"Man, it's the cops. They lookin' for somebody. I'm out."

"I heard a horse from the stables back there got loose. It's running around in the woods and they're trying to catch it. They're gonna shoot it, I think."

"Somebody said a prisoner got loose. He was cleanin' up the highway and he escaped. He murdered a bunch of people. He's gonna get us."

"Maybe it's a tiger or something. Maybe a truck with animals in it crashed on the highway and now they have to find all the animals in the woods."

I found all this amusing and somewhat charming, which is a refreshing change from the stress and irritation I usually feel when I think about where we live. For a few minutes, it was a neighborhood I wouldn't mind staying in for a few more years, instead of one I can't wait to move out of.

The kids gradually lost interested and drifted away. The rotten kid from next door went back to throwing rocks at cars and his friends. Even though we were standing in front of our house, at the end of the driveway, I could hear teenagers screaming "Fuck you motherfucker, that was my fuckin' shot, you fuckin' motherfucker! FUUUUUCCCKKKK!!"  as they played basketball on the court in the park behind our house.

Ahhh, I thought. Back to normal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This is as close as it gets to an action costume in the "girls" section (WTF, must EVERYTHING be segregated by gender?!) of Halloween stuff. They also had a "Sailor Sweetie," so you can encourage your daughter to be a tramped-out parody of a demanding and noble profession by land OR by sea. Modern womanhood really is all about choices.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Snapshots: Not-August 2010

I thought I had all this written down already, but either Blogger ate it or I am starting to dream about blogging. Either way it means that I'm re-writing it from memory, so 80% of this post is only 75% true. Guess what I re-read lately?

I am a note-writer and list-maker. Our house often looks like some Notepad Fairy came through and sprinkled every flat surface with oddly-sized and brightly-colored mini books of paper. I love to write things down...and then forget about them. This leads to finding weird notes I've written to myself, one or two tiny pages of an itty-bitty spiral-bound dollar-store notebook filled up with my huge scrawl. I always tell myself to just get basic ideas down, because I'm sure I'll remember the details later. When, weeks or months later, these forgotten works of genius re-emerge, I stare at "beans pumpkin onion ball glitter SAVE!" or "Forget try NPR birTHdy" and have no idea what it means.  The most baffling one I've found lately was in the kitchen, on a page torn from a mini-notebook with Sailor Moon on the cover. It said "wicked witch thought promo snatched away by fresh-faced no idea how works." I am completely clueless as to what I was talking about, but my writing is so frantic it must've seemed really important at the time. I spent 10 minutes yesterday staring at the note as I slurped down my morning coffee and wondered if I could turn it into a haiku.

Always with the questions these days. At bedtime yesterday: "Daddy? Do you think food makes my nose grow?" At lunch: "Mommy, do you think some strawberries could be purple?" Playing outside: "Do you think bugs could eat some dirt?" Any time of day: "Mommy, do you think we have three cats here in this house? Just three and not four?" "Mommy, do you think pumpkins are good to smell?" "Do you think the kitty's belly smells like food? Or does it smell like candy? Do you think cats like gum? Do you think Mei-Mei has gum in her belly?"

I am finally getting around to reading those Stieg Larsson books. If they're as good as everyone says, I expect to spend a lot of nights staying up way too late reading them. I do not understand why they feel the need to re-make the movies, though. I think I'll be skipping those.  I am still working on Consuming Kids, although since I find it too upsetting to read right before bed and that's when I get 99% of my reading done, it's been slow going. Very much enjoying the author's blog, though.

There has been a paper explosion at our house. I was doing a pretty good job of keeping the in/out flow of paper, junk mail, bills, and stuff at a steady pace, not allowing things to accumulate on flat surfaces and in piles around my desk. In the last month, either the rate of intake sped up or I slowed down. There are now piles and piles of paper on every flat surface in the house. I believe part of the blame rests with my mother-in-law, who not only brings a stack of not-that-useful papers, articles, magazines, and books every time she visits, but also sends thick packets of junk every month as well. Expired coupons, magazines totally unrelated to our lives, color-copied magazine articles, puffy foam glitter-shedding stickers, detailed instructions for craft projects we will never get around to doing. She sends it all and more, and we have to at least keep it and look through it all, because she will phone up and ask about each item. I am trying to repay her in kind by sending folder-fulls of Piper's artwork to her house, so that her floor can be covered in crusty flakes of dried tempera paint, stickers that never come off, and crayon-shavings the same way mine is. I take special pleasure in giving her the papers covered in glitter.

I keep subscribing and then un-subscribing to the Wardrobe Refashion RSS feed. Some days I'm all inspired and some days I'm like "aaahhhh too many posts oh the crazy embellishment helllp!"

Piper started preschool last week (which is why it's been so quiet on this blog), and so far she loves it.  This is a 100% improvement over the school we had her in last year, where she cried and begged us not to take her every morning. We are getting to know the other parents. It's awfully cliquey, since most people there have already had kids in for 1-2 years, and the 2-year-old class, where all the other newbies are, doesn't meet on the same days as Piper's class. It's a non-profit, so they rely heavily on parent volunteers. I decided to jump in and immediately signed up for 4 or 5 things. I'm hoping I haven't bitten off more than I can chew.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Another New Header

It's still not quite right, but I do like it much better, and I didn't scream this time. It didn't even take me very long.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Summer Can Suck It.

Okay, so I'm sure I'm not the only one tired of the heat.

Not everybody lives here in the Southeast, which is apparently the sweaty armpit of the U.S., but ye gods this has been a hot summer. I am so ready for it to end. The end of scorching days and nearly passing out every time I mow the lawn and ozone alerts and the hostas I worked so hard to plant in the spring and which looked so nice for 6 weeks getting crispier and deader every day. The end of not being able to drag myself out of bed and go for a run because it's 85 degrees at 8:30 a.m. And I am definitely ready for the end of stratospherically-high electric bills.

Which is why the trees in our back yard presented me with a VERY welcome sight earlier this week:

Now, if the weather would just follow suit, I'd be a really happy camper.

Monday, August 30, 2010


When my best friend's little boy was three, I made him a hat. And he loved it. And loved it. AND LOVED IT. He wore it everywhere. He carried it around and picked at its edges. Some kid at his day care tried to steal it, and my friend snatched it right back from the thief (and the thief's mother, who was all "Oh, yeah, it's our hat, totally") with a "I know this isn't your hat, because my friend Steph made this for MY kid. See the frayed parts right there? That's where MY kid keeps picking at it, because it's HIS hat! So unless the universe is SUPER weird today and you have a friend who also kitted your son a hat in these exact colors and which he picked apart in exactly the same spots, we're taking our hat home now."

She can be pretty fierce when it comes to her kids and her hand-knits.

Anyway, her little boy loved it so much that he literally loved it to pieces, unraveling and picking at it until it was in shreds. It took me a couple of years, but I finally got around to making a replacement. I actually finished this in March or April sometime, I think, but then it got really hot and they were moving so I didn't mail it off. I came across it this week when I was "rearranging my stash" (i.e. taking all the yarns out of their containers and lining them up and touching them and dreaming up 10 projects for every skein).

It's orange, like the original (she called him "my little pumpkinhead" when he was a baby). It really is a nice, pumpkin-y orange, not the traffic-cone color it shows up as in these photos (and wow, does my camera hate to focus on oranges, reds, & yellows). I got the stripe a little too high on this one, but oh well. I hope he likes it. My friend said that not only did the little one love the original hat, but that her older son and her husband had all taken turns wearing it as well, so I'm thinking of making a few more to send to them. It's still pretty hot out, hardly wool-hat weather yet, and this pattern is super-fast, so I think I can manage two more by the time the snow flies.

And yeah, I know this yarn is mostly acrylic, which I usually try to avoid like the plague, but this is machine-washable and inexpensive. I'd rather give an inexpensive gift they will use (and is easily replaceable when some kid steals it or her husband gets it all greasy under the car) than a show-piece they're too afraid to wear. He loved this hat, and I can keep cranking these babies out until he goes to college, something I could not do with a more expensive or delicate yarn. Sometimes I gotta suck it up and make peace with the non-natural fibers, you know?

Pattern: Sparkling Pom-Pom Ski/Toboggan Hat (sorry, you have to log in to see LB's free patterns)
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick
Ravelry details are here

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

15 Answers

...to questions my daughter has asked me in the past 24 hours:

1. "Well, yeah, I do think the Beatles probably ate a big bowl of ice cream when they got home from work. What flavors do you think they like?"

2. "No, I do not think Daddy wants you to stick that up his nose. In fact, I'm pretty sure he doesn't."

3. "No, you cannot hold Mei-Mei. She does not like it. Yeah, that? What you're doing right now? DON'T. Put the cat DOWN."

4. "Yes, there is poop in the cat boxes. Yeah, it's pretty smelly."

5. "Well, if you want to eat a block of dry ramen noodles for a snack, I suppose I don't see the harm in it."

6. "In that picture? Oh, that big pile is George's fan mail. The boxes are candy - jelly babies. Yep, because he likes candy."

7. "What's in his mouth? Uhh...candy. Yeah, it's, um, candy." [It was a cigar.]

8. "Yeah, I think the Beatles probably liked to drink water."

9. "I guess strawberries could smell like cabbage."

10. "No, I do not think Ellie wants to wear that necklace. Please stop whacking her with it."

11. "No, you cannot go outside and get the mail while naked. Just putting on shoes doesn't count."

12. "What's in Ringo's hand? Uhh...a drumstick. I think it's a drumstick." [It was a cigarette.]

13. "Sure, it can be time. I'll get it out for you. 8:30 a.m. can be time for Play-Doh if you want it to be."

14. "No, I will not give you any more whipped cream on your strawberry pancakes. Eat some strawberries, eat some pancake. But no more whipped cream."

15. "Yes, I think the Beatles liked to eat pie. Probably cake too."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Purple Poncho

This took longer than I intended, what with our busy summer and near-constant company. It was supposed to take a couple of days and wound up taking over a month. But she really loves it, and it was easy. I was so afraid of sewing it up that I had the finished pieces done for almost a week before I seamed them together. I'm not sure if I did it exactly right, but it looks pretty good. This was a really inexpensive project. I used stash yarn, but this is discloth cotton, and it's less than $4 for two balls.

Pattern: Spice Girl by Candi Jensen, from Total Baby Knits
Yarn: Lily Sugar n' Cream Solids
Ravelry details are here.

She's worn it around the house a couple of times - she likes to put it on and dance around (to the Beatles, natch). She's worn it out of the house twice, which is pretty good considering it's still over 90 here every day. I'm hoping to put it on her and get her to sit still so I can snap a photo. Silly of me, I know.