Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Breakfast as Reward

Her three-year checkup went swimmingly; the doctor said she is "absolutely perfect." Piper only cried once, during the part of the exam where the doctor asked her to shrug out of the paper gown so she could look her over. This is a vast improvement over past doctor's visits, which often required a nurse and a parent to hold her down so shots could be given or ears inspected. I rewarded her bravery with breakfast at Ikea, her favorite place in the world. Some people will roll their eyes, but I figure they have lots of things to play with, beds to try out, ketchup, potatoes, chocolate milk, and mac & cheese - all under the same roof. When you're three, that is the height of perfection.

For those of you that subscribe to my RSS feed: some weird half-finished posts may show up today; I was cleaning house and accidentally hit "publish" once or twice instead of "delete." Sorry!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Photography Fail

One day last week when the morning cloudcover provided some really great outdoor lighting, I got her up and dressed and marched her outside to try and take some 3-year pictures, of the sort suitable for giving to the grandparents. The whining about how they never have any pictures and you can never see her face in the ones you send blah blah blah has gotten particularly loud lately. I never get photos taken professionally any more; the few times I've had it done it turned out to be a lot of money for pictures I didn't like all that much and which end up languishing in a box somewhere because a) the grandmothers cannot seem to get me a list of HOW MANY and WHAT SIZES they need and b)I am a lousy correspondent and forget to send them to our friends.

So I thought I'd try my own this year; I have a DSLR and my computer will occasionally cooperate long enough to upload & edit on Picnik. How hard could it be?

I got exactly four pictures before she started jumping around in a mud puddle and fell, covering the cute-yet-not-cutesy outfit I'd picked out in red clay dirt. I think this is the only close-up of her face, which I took with my phone just after her mud-puddle dive. Just be glad it's not a video, or else you'd hear me begging her to stand still for Mommy, just one more second PLEASE as she whines about needing to go inside and change her clothes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Which I Whine A Little More About The Heat

I have been completely exhausted since summer set in, and I'm starting to think it's not my fault. Every one of our houseguests so far this summer has also been exhausted. Some of them required a nap every single day of their stay with us, even though none of them were toddlers. The lone toddler/preschooler in the house (that would be mine, natch) has fought her naps with a vehemence I find admirable, since I have to drink two glasses of ice water and mentally steel myself just to swim walk into the kitchen and get some grapes.

The cats are pretty miserable. Piper is really sweaty. I am drinking so much water I feel like I could float. I have stopped cooking for the most part, and we are subsisting on cut fruit and cottage cheese and yogurt and chopped vegetables and pita chips with the various dips I concoct from whatever happens to be in the fridge. We're making our own popsicles and smoothies quite a bit.

We have the air on, but most of the day it's just enough to take the edge off, and even that is getting pretty expensive. I also have a sneaking suspicion our A/C unit is about to crap out on us. It's five years old, like the house, and was doing an okay job until a week or so ago. I've noticed it seems to be working less well, not cooling quite as effectively. One more thing to add to the to-do list.

I bought her a little plastic wading pool*, but every time we use it, we are immediately chased inside by huge black wasps**. With the dry summer, they quickly flock to any water source, and although we knocked down a few colonies during the spring, I can't figure out where these huge, aggressive ones are coming from. I am allergic to bees and many other stinging insects, so I was pretty freaked out to see no less than EIGHT enormous wasps hovering over the wading pool as my daughter splashed away. It's been the same thing every time we have any water outside. As soon as I find them, they are toast, but until then we have to find something else to do around the house.

*Let me tell you a story about this: several weeks ago, when presented YET AGAIN during the late afternoon with the tease of oppressive cloudcover that made everything hotter but did not result in any rain, I actually shook my fist and howled at the sky, "RAIN, already, would you?!" The clouds apparently heard me, and paid me back by dumping the only 45 seconds of rain and fierce winds we got all day on me at exactly the moment I exited the store pushing a shopping cart containing a flat plastic wind-catching wading pool and a three-year-old doing her best to climb out. We were all soaked, the pool almost blew away, and I ran the shopping cart into my ankle pretty hard, which caused a bruise that, over a month later, is still fading into ugly browns and yellows.

**I am so OVER the Southern bugs. It's always something down here. Ants, crickets, bees, flies, wasps, various kinds of huge and freaky beetles, earwigs, giant flying cockroaches palmetto bugs, ticks - some kind of many-legged critter is perpetually making its way into my house. They are all huge and aggressive and bold. It goes on pretty much year-round, and I am about ready to pack it up and go back to shoveling snow in the North just so I can be assured of a couple months where I don't have to worry about entomological invasions. This year seems to have been a good one for ants, wasps, and spiders, because I have been battling all three constantly and I am so SICK of it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A New Low, or a New High, I'm Not Sure Which

Last week, we dressed up like cows to get free food. 

Oh, yeah. Head to toe. 

A certain chicken-sandwich chain to which we have recently become addicts had a "dress like a cow, get free food" day. We weren't going to go, but all three of us were hot, cranky, and anxious that day, so I took a white trash bag, a black trash bag, two of my husband's old white undershirts, a pair of scissors, some tape, and, with a little assistance, 20 minutes later we had three cow costumes. All three of us got a totally free lunch, and Piper loved her costume so much she wore it continuously for the next three days. We had to pry it off of her at bedtime, because three-year-olds don't understand that wearing a giant plastic bag to bed is not a good idea. By about day 5 of being loved on, it bit the dust, and we gave her the two decorated shirts to run around with, much to her delight. 

As we cut and taped and fitted, my husband said he thought I was pretty awesome for taking a pile of stuff that most people would throw away and making costumes out of it in less than half an hour, although he was unsure if the fact that we were doing it only for the free food canceled out the awesome part. 

"I'm not sure either," I said, "But I am hungry." 

Also, I think this is the biggest tangible reward I have yet obtained from any sort of crafty endeavor or project. I am not sure what that says about me, or my craft skills, but I can tell you that a free lunch tastes DELICIOUS.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Fairly Rockin' Felicity

Due to ozone alerts, hot weather, my child's desire to be naked most of the time, company, and my own exhaustion, we've spent a lot of time indoors lately. I felt like I was in the grip of some heat-generated inertia, and my usual cure for that is to knit something. A small, fast project, something to shake off the funk and get my gears turning again.

Piper dug a ball of pink I-don't-know-where-it-came-from-but-I'm-assuming-it's-acrylic yarn out of my stash and asked for a hat. I was afraid I might not have enough, so I asked her if it was okay for me to add black stripes. She eyed the yarns critically for a moment and signed off on the project.

A few days later, I presented her with this:

She had hovered anxiously over me during the knitting process, inspecting it as my fingers worked as fast as I could go, asking "Is my hat done yet? Are you done knitting it yet?" at least three times a day. She actually wore it for an hour or two:

And miracle of miracles, I actually got her to sit still for a few pictures.

Pattern: Felicity by Wannet Clyde (Ravelink)
My Ravelry details are here.
And here's one more picture, since it will probably be October before it's cool enough to wear it for real and get some shots of it in action:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Les vieux amis sont les meilleurs amis

I have been so TIRED lately. Just absolutely, positively, worn out. Tired to the point of laying on the couch staring at the ceiling while Piper scatters toys in her wake and rummages through the fridge. It has been miserably hot here, close to 100 every day for weeks on end with humidity that makes the air difficult to breathe.

On top of that, our city has been in the top 5 places in the nation for ozone alerts for almost two weeks. I heard the phrase "orange-level ozone alert" multiple times every day on the radio for over a week before I looked up what it meant. The newscasters on tv & radio were quite happy to repeat the phrase every chance they got, but they always neglected to mention that it means air pollution mixed with intense humidity and that when it's at an orange level you're supposed to stay indoors as much as possible (especially young children, the elderly, or anyone with asthma or breathing problems), not exercise outside, not drive if you can help it, and avoid idling in traffic if you do. Which just sort of made me laugh, because school is out for the summer and the last thing any parent wants is to be trapped in the house all day with kids, and it's not like you can walk to much here (and it's too hot/ozone-y to do so even if you could), so "try to stay indoors" means everyone will have to jump in their cars and drive all over from one air-conditioned locale to another all day long.

We just got done with another round of company - my godparents were here for five days. Piper hadn't seen either of them since she was an infant, but took to them right away, happy to have more people to play with her and read her stories. They also took her for a ride in their bright-blue convertible, which, as far as she was concerned, was more fun than anyone could ever ask for. My parents are due in this weekend for a few days, and in a couple weeks, some friends from Chicago are coming through on their way back from the beach.

I have to say that, although I love my family, we have been looking forward to our friends' visit most of all. I never do manage to get down to the Windy City to see them when I visit Michigan; these trips North are always just Piper & me, and I can't seem to manage the 4-hour drive between Detroit and Chicago alone with a car-hating toddler. But they are kind enough to drive up and meet us halfway when we're there, and made the drive all the way down here for a weekend visit last Spring.

With every set of company, there's extra cleaning and cooking, and it's nice to have grandparents around to entertain the kid, but it's different with friends. There is comfort in being able to cook something and knowing the people at the table will eat it, instead of inspecting it for surreptitious vegetables or refusing to touch it because "I don't like the smell of curry." It's nice being able to suggest Ethiopian or sushi for lunch and hear enthusiasm rather than nose-wrinkling and thinly-veiled ethnic xenophobia. We can each browse the Internet on our phones or laptops while watching a movie and share stuff from our Google Readers and nobody thinks twice about the arrangement. They can work our electronics without written instructions and four run-throughs. We all like the same kind of movies and they don't require the volume turned up to ear-spliting levels.

These are friends of my husband's, from college, and as happens with many couples, they've become my friends too. We have a few friends here, but none as close as friends from our old life and locales. All this moving around has made me realize that I keenly miss people who know me. I like making new friends (who doesn't need more friends?!), but sometimes I just want to hang out with people who already know that I like my margaritas on the rocks and have listened to many of my drunken ramblings but don't hold that against me. People who I can trade music with, who will point me to new bands and listen to the mix cds I make for them. People we already have a history with, already share an ease of space and conversation with. Since moving here, I've so often felt like I was swimming upstream against a hard current to make and keep connections, fighting all the time to maintain the few friendships I've managed to cultivate. It will be nice to let go and drift for a while, floating along surrounded by familiarity.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Quilt Top

An in-progress photo from making the quilt. I took it that night, emailed it to myself, and forgot all about it.

What you can't see in this picture is all the cat hair, bits of thread, and random debris stuck to the back of that flannel sheet because our spare room/office/guest room always gets forgotten when the vacuum cleaner comes out.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Lime Green Toenails

When the weather got hot, I started thinking about green nail polish, to be applied to my sad, neglected toenails. I wanted an opaque green, not the shimmery, silvery greens I already had so many variations of. I wanted a bright, eye-popping lime, and I think this does the trick. Most of the time I am quite satisfied with it, but once in awhile I look at my nearly-neon toes and wonder if it's trying too hard to be 80's, or if it makes me look like I have some sort of Hobbity foot-fungus. I decided that deep down I must like it pretty well, since I have painted my fingernails to match.