Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fashion: Insert Clever Title About Cowls Here

Seriously, go ahead. I tried all manner of puns on the word "cowl," and they all made me groan.

I used to hate cowls.  I thought they were silly; why not just wear a scarf, for crying out loud?  Then at least you wouldn't have to yank it over your head to get it off.

This was before the first time I accidentally dipped the end of one of my long, skinny scarves into a public toilet.  Oh, yes, I say the first time.  I am a slow learner.

What with all the snow and unreasonably-cold-for-the-south temperatures around here this winter, I have become an even bigger scarf addict.  This has created a few logistical problems (see sentence above re: public toilets and then picture that going on while screaming at your 2.5-year-old to stop poking her hands in the 'sanitary napkin disposal' box).  I have decided that perhaps cowls aren't so silly after all.  

If you knit (or can bribe a knitter into making you one), here's a lovely cashmere one by Isabelle at The Purl Bee.

Or you can just buy someone else's handmade stuff - Vicki has a nice variety.

If you want more of an all-seasons thing, try a Necklush.  Or make your own*.  I would like to do this, as I have about 576 sad, stretched-out and holey t-shirts which I should stop wearing and which would find newer, prettier lives hanging around my neck rather than keeping vanilla latte out of my cleavage. Although I suppose they could still do that, just in a more stylish way.  You know, a way that allows me to appear in public without looking like I just rolled out of bed.

*I will tell you that the Cut Out + Keep website made Firefox crash on me three times, so be warned.  The very best Necklush tutorial used to be found at This Old Dress, but Connie had to remove it for legal reasons.  You should go check out her blog anyway, because it's awesome.  She does things with t-shirts that leave me in awe.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boys and Girls

Rae and Dana are having a "Celebrate the Boy" month, to spotlight crafty endeavors that focus on making things for boys.  I think it's a good idea, because they are right, boys often get overlooked when it comes time for a craft-o-rama.  Mostly, I think, because it's easier to sew up a tube of fabric and slap in some elastic for a skirt than it is to make a well-fitting nicely finished pair of pants or a button-up shirt (I get queasy just thinking about collars).

They've showcased some really cute and creative ideas, and I have to say I am mostly relieved.  While I have some misgivings about designating certain colors, fabrics, or motifs as "BOY" or "GIRL," the projects they've shown off (their own work and that of others) go far beyond the "It's blue! It has sports on it! It must be for boys!" mentality that seems to permeate children's clothing (and toys).

I have seen a couple of "oh, I'm so tired of pink and ruffles, thanks for doing a BOY feature!"-type comments in articles and around the web, at which I sigh and roll my eyes. I want to shake those people and say "You know girls aren't limited to pink and ruffles, right?  And you do realize that 'boy' doesn't just mean the opposite of those things either?" It's such a simple concept, but so many people just don't seem to get it.  And worse, they (sometimes very consciously) push their kids into these pre-determined roles of 'girl' and 'boy.'  It makes me sad to watch a parent snatch a doll from their sons arm's and say "No, dolls are for GIRLS. You can't play with that." As though learning to be empathetic and care for others is a bad thing.  Conversely, these same sort of people will automatically hand truckloads of dolls to their girls, bury them in pink play kitchens and call them 'little Mommy.'  As though taking care of others is all they should learn.

A friend came over with his four-year-old son recently, and the boy asked where Piper was.  I told him she was taking her nap at the moment, but I'd be happy to play with him until she woke up.  My husband and the friend immediately started talking (and then playing) video-game stuff, so I took the son into the playroom and we played.  He made a beeline for the box of crocheted play food Piper's grandma made for her, and got out the toy dishes.  We cooked up some apple-hot dog-sushi pancake sandwiches and some egg & sardine soup.  We baked some pizza-taco-corn on the cob casserole. Then he spied Piper's little toy shopping cart and said "We need to go to the store! You be the mommy and I'll be the daddy. We gotta go to the grocery store." So he pushed the cart, with one of Piper's dolls in the front seat, and we did a lap around the house together.  As soon as we got into the living room, our friend said "I bring my son over here, and you make him do girl stuff." He was only half-joking.  Maybe not even half.  It clearly made him uncomfortable that his son was pretending to grocery-shop. The boy wanted to join the video game they were playing, but his dad told him he could have a turn when they were done, so we continued to play.  We cooked some more and he served lunch to the doll ("The baby is hungry, she wants some apples," he explained to me). The dad poked his head in every few minutes, still looking uncomfortable. Eventually the play food gave way to things like the wooden ball run and, finally a game of "these two stuffed dinosaurs will chase each other and try to bite each other's heads off."  As we ran around the house, stuffed dinosaurs in hand, growling and roaring (quietly, since Piper was still asleep), the dad looked relieved.

"Don't worry," I said to him as we dashed through. "We're not doing 'girly' things anymore, we're playing fighting dinosaurs. His is winning right now because it bit the head off the other dinosaur and then ate a dog."
"Now THAT sounds like my son," he answered. 

They continued to play video games, Piper continued to sleep, and we continued to play.  I got the definite impression that this kid did not get a lot of one-on-one play time without a TV screen involved.  He'd go and check on the game the dads were playing every once in a while (Wii bowling), and sometimes take a turn, but he always came back and picked up our game again.  If the TV had been off, I don't think he would've given it a second thought.

Eventually he cycled back around to the doll in the shopping cart, and wheeled it out to Piper's small table, next to our dining-room table.  "Let's have lunch," he announced, and had me put the doll at the table.  He brought out a stack of play dishes and pretended to make lunch.  "The baby wants some food," he proclaimed. "She wants to sit right there and have something to eat."

His dad glanced over and made another crack about "doing girl stuff." He then started to hang around the little table, hovering closely over his son and saying over and over that it was time to go, or didn't he want to play the video game again?  The boy said no, he was busy. The dad insisted it was time to go. 

I could not keep my mouth shut. "Oh, are you making her a good healthy lunch, just like your dad makes for you?" I said pointedly.  The dad backed off and went to play his game again.

They left a little while later, shortly after Piper woke up from her nap.  I felt saddened and annoyed by the whole experience.  Ryan tried to defend his friend, saying it's just the culture down here and he doesn't know any better, but I think that justification only made me more annoyed.

"He's a single dad," I answered.  "Yeah, his wife has the kid much of the time, but that's not by his choice.  And he did a lot of heavy lifting even before they were divorced.  He loves his son, and he tries to be a good dad.  Why get upset when his son tries to be a good dad too?  Why do people find that so disturbing?"

Truth be told, this was best interaction I've ever had with this kid. Normally we groan when we have to spend any amount of time with him, because he's always snatching toys out of Piper's hands or stuffing his face full of something he doesn't want to share or shoving over store displays or pitching a fit because he wants to play video games or taking food off other kids' plates or demanding to leave somewhere after five minutes because he's bored or whining enough to make your head explode. This time it was really fun to play with him, and think I got a glimpse of how things could be if he got a little more interaction and a lot less screen time.

And I was really, really annoyed that his dad saw what we did as "girly stuff."  You need to eat.  Your kid needs to eat.  Sometimes you are going to have to obtain and cook food for your child.  That's not "girly," that's basic survival, for Pete's sake! And you'd think more people would encourage their sons to take up an interest in food and cooking, since it can make you a lot of money if you do it well.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days, the kind that pop up and make you wish you'd followed your muse in college and now spent time chain-smoking on SoHo balconies, participating in performance art and living in charming Bohemian poverty while writing The Great American Novel, instead of cleaning up cat barf and finding creative ways to re-use leftover mashed potatoes.

It was just one of those miserable days where nothing goes right.  It all started the night before, with another charming round of cough-and-sinus-yuckiness, a continuation of the Parade of Sickness that has run through our house for months. This one came on almost overnight, knocking out both Ryan and I. It's one of those awful things where you feel generally horrible and want to sleep for days, but the body aches and restlessness won't allow it. So I was tired and feeling like crap but unable to sleep it off, and Piper woke up at 3:00 in the morning and didn't settle back down until 6:00.  She got back up at 8:00, and Ryan got up with her so I could catch at least a little sleep. This meant that I did not get the ball rolling to take Piper to storytime at 10:00 like I wanted to, so I tried for the 10:45 storytime and she was being a real pill about getting ready. I must've told her at least five times to get dressed, and eventually Ryan had to go hover over her while she did it to make sure she saw the task through. Then it took ten minutes to get her to put her shoes and coat on, so we finally left the house with five minutes to make the fifteen-minute drive to the library.

We got 1/4 of the way there and discovered the railroad crossing was closed, so I had to turn around and go back.  The next crossing was closed, too, so I had to drive 15 minutes out of my way and it didn't occur to me until a phone call from Ryan that I should've taken the freeway.  When we finally arrived at the library, storytime was half-over and the door to the room was shut so we just played in the kids' section for a while.  Piper ignored my requests to stop jumping and climbing all over the chairs, until she finally fell off and bonked her head.  We'd already gotten a few looks from the librarians because my daughter seems to think that "Piper, please, please be quiet, please please please stop yelling and use your inside voice" means "scream as loud as you can and generally make as much noise as possible." Now that she was howling about her head-bonk, I figured we should make a hasty path for the door.

At the grocery store, the bad day continued, with Piper refusing to sit in the cart and instead attempting to push it around, which meant crashing into things and finally running over my foot.  It was the kid-cart, with the giant plastic car attached to the front, so it was not a light load. I scooped her up and deposited her in the basket among the groceries, then barreled up to the checkouts.  The self-checkout was uncooperative and hated TWO of the cards I tried to use, and after almost ten minutes of the robot-voice repeating "please put the item back in the bag" and "would you like to try another form of payment?" while Piper giggled and climbed in and out of the cart (twice climbing up on TOP of the plastic car and trying to stand up, thus giving me a heart attack), I was ready to either start crying or start smashing things.

We somehow managed to make it home, where Piper refused to sit still long enough to eat more than two bites of her lunch.  I finally sent her in for a nap, which she did not take.  She instead chose to spend those two hours completely and totally trashing her bedroom.  She took all the blankets off her bed.  She took the clothes out of her drawers.  She took all the books out of her bookshelf and piled them on the floor. When the hours usually designated for afternoon rest had elapsed without so much as a drooping eyelid on her part, I made her clean up the mess(es) and took her outside to play.

She wandered out of my sight constantly and refused to come when I called her back. I tried to clean the knee-deep pile of junk out of the back of the car while she played in the driveway, but she climbed into the car and treated its interior like a jungle gym.  We went into the field behind the house so she could splash in some mud puddles, and she picked up a discarded basketball and dropped it on my camera case.  I tried to take some pictures of her and she ran away from me. I looked up from changing lenses to find her running towards me, waving one of her boots in the air, yelling "My boot! My boot!" Her formerly-white sock was now red from the muddy field. She stripped it off the muddy, soggy bit of fabric and handed it to me. "Here, could you hold this, Mom?"

I had to talk her into putting her boot back on and then escorted her inside, fixed her a dinner she refused to eat, and spent the rest of the evening following her around trying to get her to clean up the rather spectacular messes she made. Every time I turned away for even five minutes, she had dragged out something else and made it as disarranged as possible.  I finally sent her to bed early, without a bath or so much as a bedtime story, because I'd had enough.

She gave me a good-night kiss and hugged me.  "See you tomorrow, Mom!" she called out as I shut her bedroom door.

Yeah, kiddo see you tomorrow.  Whew

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Snapshots: Mid-February 2010

Last week I had an astonishing day of kitchen clumsiness that started with a case of the dropsies and ended with me accidentally dumping macaroni and cheese into a potted plant. No kidding.

It wasn't an entire pan of macaroni and cheese or anything, but still. A potted plant.

***
I am into the Olympics right now.  I sat raptly watching the opening ceremonies while my husband brought me snacks and told me the intensity of my joy made me "incredibly cute."  Piper woke up to go potty (oh, yeah, she wakes up and takes herself to the potty bathroom at night now, with little to no supervision) so we let her sit on the couch and watch for a while, until she got tired and asked to go back to bed. She was out cold before a lot of the really cool stuff (like the giant bear made of lights), but she was dancing right along with the First Nations dancers and making comments on all the flags during the Parade of the Nations. She was so delighted with the dancing and music, in fact, that I'm now hunting for video footage on YouTube and wishing this area had an annual pow-wow to take her to.  The town Ryan and I went to college in had a big one every year and I'd love to take Piper if one of our Michigan visits ever falls at the right time.

But back to the Olympics.  I've been watching a little of everything.  Ryan has been schlepping off to bed early, so I have the TV to myself for a couple hours each night, and I'll plop down with some knitting or the computer and a stack of paperwork and multi-task.  I find some of the interview bits hokey (Montage! We need a mon-tage!) and they seem to play "The Funeral" by Band of Horses under every piece, but I guess that's to be expected.

***
Text conversation with a friend on Sunday:
A: Ahh Valentine's Day.  The 15-year-old inside me gets her little hopes up every year.  And unfortunately gets disappointed almost every year.
Me: I am almost-ironically into the kitsch of it all now, mostly as an excuse to do silly craft projects with my kid. But I wouldn't say no to a hotel room, a hot tub, and champagne.
A: Exactly. It's hard to feel romantic in my dog-hair-covered bed, toys strewn all over the floor bedroom. Hmph.

I didn't "get my hopes up" this year.  I don't, about Valentine's Day, ever, really, because I don't like heart-shaped things and detest pink so it wasn't my holiday for a long time. Then I spent a number of years with someone whose birthday was February 14th and who hated chocolate in all its forms, so it wasn't like he was going to be going all-out on the day o' love. Ryan is a romantic but our budget is small and we are pretty easy to please - an awesome night for us is getting pizza delivered and watching as many DVD episodes of Mad Men as we can stay awake for. But this year I found myself making decorations, buying valentines to give to the kids in Piper's preschool class, creating a centerpiece for our table, and generally getting into the spirit of things.  A lot of holidays that sort of dropped off the radar are more fun with a kid, and I've started to remember all the silly things my mom used to do for Valentine's Day that we loved so much - heart-shaped pancakes, a small gift, class valentines, sewing us new outfits or putting out a dish of candies.  That kind of stuff is fun again, now that Piper is old enough to join in.

***
My Valentine's Day was vastly better than my mother's this year, from what I gathered.  She apparently worked on Sunday, and came home at 9:30 pm exhausted (she's a nurse) to find the first words out of my dad's mouth were not "How was your day?" or "Happy Valentine's Day!" but "You didn't bring home any food?" She replied that since he had been "sick" and lounging around the house all day, she should be asking that question of him. My dad, in true my-dad fashion, stopped at Costco the next day and bought a huge pork loin, an even bigger pork roast, and a ham.  "I brought you some food," he cheerfully as he set them in front of my mom. It's true; he basically bought her a giant pork roast for Valentine's Day.

***

Reading: Shocking True Story: The Rise and Fall of Confidential, "America's Most Scandalous Scandal Magazine"
Knitting: Another Milo for P, handwarmers for R, brown linen/cotton wrap for my mom, hat for a friend's little boy, hat for R (to match handwarmers).
Cooking: Well, I wish I was cooking these Cinnamon Bun Pancakes...maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Halfway There


During our walk in the Vine Street neighborhood in Kalamazoo, Nov. 2009.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

All You Need Is Love




Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

P.S. The hearts she is holding are these Martha Stewart crayon hearts. We made them together, and it was kinda fun, but for future reference, it is not a good project to do with a 2.5-year-old. She didn't have the dexterity to twist the crayons in the pencil sharpener, and I must've said "HOT IRON DON'T TOUCH NO NO HOT HOT DON'T TOUCH BE PATIENT NOT YET BACK UP NO NO NOOOOO!" about fifty times.

But she loved them when they were done ("It's a heart! We make a heart shape!"), enough that I put them up in the windows and she asked to have them back about an hour later. She carried them around for days, and also for future reference: melted crayon shavings are not meant to be loved on. Unless the edges of the hearts are sealed with tape, you will have wisps of crayon-crumble all over your house, in your car, in your bed, and melded to the interior of your vacuum canister.

P.P.S. "All You Need Is Love" is pretty much Piper's favorite song in the world right now. We watch Yellow Submarine every day (yeah, I do actually mean EVERY SINGLE DAY, I have the entire movie memorized now) and that's her favorite part. This song came on when were in the car, and she was clutching those hearts, and she started giggling, and...well, my heart just about burst.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Fashion: Your Mama Dresses You Funny

Am I the only one out there who thinks it's fun to dress your kids in old clothes? Part of the fun of having a kid has been to dress her like a baby of 50 or even 100 years ago. Example number one:
Piper, quite pleased with herself at about nine months old.

The dress was mine when I was a baby; the bonnet I made (I love bonnets, for both boys and girls); the shoes I found on clearance somewhere; the legwarmers are of course Babylegs.

A friend of mine said "she looks like a 1950's baby" when I showed up for lunch with Piper dressed like this.

To that end, meet Belle Heir. Authentic vintage childrens' clothing. It's marvelous. The outerwear section alone makes me squee. And their prices don't seem out of this world, unlike a lot of "vintage" or "retro" children's clothing places. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's centerpiece


I got this dish from Ikea some time ago, and so far all it has done is collect dust and random household items. We already have an overflowing junk drawer, I did not want a junk stand to add to the mess. I cleaned it off, filled it with pink & red apples, and tried to make a very tiny one of these tissue poofs. Everything went fine until the part where you separate the layers to make it look all poofy, and then it all started to rip apart. I did the best I could, and tied it to the top of the stand to hid the less-than-poofy bald spot.


Apples seem to be a hit with the wee one lately, so I like having healthy snacks that she can grab any time AND a cute display that I don't have to worry about packing away in a couple of weeks.

P.S. - The white & red candle is also from Ikea; they were on sale for $1.49 and I can't say enough good things about it. I went back and got three more in different patterns. They burn clean, are cute without being too froofy, and smell like apple-cinnamon muffins. YUM.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Knitting Pattern Giveaway

Trish is giving away one of Karen's lovely patterns, so go check out Trish's blog for details on how to enter. You have until Thursday the 11th.

P.S. If you are a commenter on this blog, you will notice I have enabled word verification. This is because I was tired of comments from Russian robots who want to get me Viagra for cheap, porn promoters, and weird nonsensical gobbledygook that had something to do with buying acai berry juice. Happy commenting!

Xmas 2008: The Thought Didn't Count For Much

I have been digging around in my own archives a bit lately and was surprised to discover a number of half-finished posts. I thought I'd work on finishing them up and share them with you, just for fun. This particular one tells the story of our Christmas last year, involving a well-meaning gift that totally missed the mark. Piper was about 18 months old, and this was our first Christmas with her that didn't involve hordes of family trying to get a piece of the baby action.



It looks like an idyllic Christmas scene, right? Stockings, presents, everything waiting for our eager little cherub come Christmas morn. Little did we know the terror that was about to ensue.

We told the grandparents not to get Piper anything for Christmas, because she already has enough crap to outfit a daycare. They asked if they could send small things, stuff she actually needs. I requested plain white socks, solid-color yoga pants, and board books. I got some of those, but of course it didn't stop there. My in-laws sent a multi-piece music ensemble that includes a drum, rattles of various sorts, a recorder and a kazoo; my mom sent some really awesome play food she crocheted herself. It's totally amazing - an entire hamburger assemblage: Bun, meat patty, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and onions; a hot dog with ketchup and mustard on it and its own accompanying bun; an apple, a pear, and corn in a husk. She even made sushi! I think we were more excited over the play food than Piper was.

We saved our gift for last, since we have been looking forward to giving it to her for months. She was so into Halloween this year, when we saw this Fisher-Price playset online, it seemed like the perfect gift. It has a doorbell sound and when you move the bat, a ghost pops up with an "Oooooo!" Since she runs around the house with a blanket on her head going "Scary ghost? Oooo!" we figured she would love it. I ordered it in November and it had been sitting in the closet for weeks, while we congratulated ourselves on being awesome parents.

Once she had opened evvvverything else (not least of all this monster shirt, which she insisted on wearing immediately, over her pajamas - which also had monsters on them), we brought the carefully-wrapped box out from its position behind our tiny tree. She opened it and was excited to play with the "ghoss" and "punkin" and "weetch." Everything seemed to be going well, so we decided to put the batteries in.
We showed her how to push the buttons and make all the noises - spooky music, kids saying "trick or treat!", a doorbell, and the ghost that said "oooooh!" She played with it and asked us to make the noises "More? More? Ghoss more?"
Then this happened.

She would cry, play with it, cry, play with it, and cry again. Finally, after another round of the pop-up ghost, she started to scream in earnest. We tried to get her to play with it sans batteries again, but it freaked her out so much we had to put it back in its box and stuff it under our bed, because she could not even look at the plain brown shipping box without sobbing. Our totally awesome present, the thing we were most excited to give her, was a total FAIL.

*Ed. Note: We left it in its box under the bed for many months. I tried a few times to get her interested in it again, but each time the mere appearance of the its plain square box was cause for shrieking. Eventually she realized that there were little figurines and a trike to play with, and then she warmed to it. I think it took a good solid six months before she would even let me take it out of the box. Now it lives - without batteries - on a shelf in the playroom. She plays with it, but it is by no means a cherished object. C'est la vie, I guess.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

NOT on Vacation.

Mmm, yes, about my recent slowdown in posting...my in-laws were here.

It was not a horrible visit, but sort of stressful, as always. My MIL is just so intense about things, particularly pertaining to Piper, it's sort of exhausting to be the referee between her and my daughter. MIL did much better this time at just hanging out and playing with her, and since Piper is old enough to say flat-out "Hey, let's go play puzzles" or "No, Granny, I don't want to paint right now," it goes much better than it has in the past. Usually MIL would show up with an agenda of stuff to do, and when Piper did not want to read this book at this time and then sit quietly on the couch listening to Granny's stories and then go fingerpaint before having a snack...well, MIL would be upset, and mad, and in a roundabout way, accuse us of influencing Piper to not like her. This time they pretty much hung around the house (and especially the playroom), with Piper choosing activities. MIL was sort of crazy about some things, like picking up every toy as soon as it hit the floor (look, I did just get the whole house neatened up and organized, but insisting on 100% organization/clean 100% of the time is just going to wear you out) or totally freaking out when Piper drank some of her bathwater.

Of course, the entire week before they came, I was involved in a grueling endurance test of cleaning and organization. We still hadn't recovered from the room-swap Ryan did while I was gone in November; nothing had quite gotten to its final resting place, resulting in a lot of chaos. So I put it all to rights. My husband, despite his assurances that he would "take care of it" and "pull his weight," either took extra shifts at work, played video games, or stood around waiting for me to hand him a list of things to do. But I persevered, and now there is only a single closet left un-organized. One closet in my entire house in need of attention. That's all that's left.

I also left him in charge of planning meals and activities this time, since I was tired of doing it. Every time they come, he takes a "Stop stressing out, it's fine!" attitude before they get here, and I'm the one frantic with cleaning and shopping and cooking and planning. Over and over he told me not to worry, he'd take care of it, I didn't have to do anything. So I didn't. His planning went something like this:

"What are you doing?"
"I'm making a list of stuff to do, days they'll be here and what restaurant to go to and things we can do that day."
"Ummm...you know Zack's isn't open on the weekends, right?"
"Oh, really? Huh." He scratched something out.
"Sunday is still the weekend."
"Oh. Right" Another cross-out.
"And they close at 6:30, so we can't go the day they get here, either."
"Oh." Scratch scratch scratch.

That is as far as his list ever got. Consequently, I found myself defrosting chicken in the microwave, reminding him that it was 12:30 and he should probably make a plan for lunch soon, suggesting restaurants when we were out, and, because his mom found a recipe in one of my books she wanted to have, buying $60 worth of groceries on Monday evening. My husband just basically asked me "So, what's for dinner?" and suggested frozen pizza every single time I told him that dinner was his problem. I then had to explain why he would serve frozen pizza to houseguests over my dead body.

He also failed to plan for the entertainment, and boy howdy do they like to be entertained. When not playing with Piper, they were constantly looking through our DVD collection, with FIL pooh-pooing pretty much everything because he refuses to watch any movie more than once. Not kidding. Then of course they insisted they couldn't learn to work our DVD player, even though all you do is press "open" and put the disc in, so someone had to be there to switch movies for them because they could not allow even twenty minutes of everyone hanging out and quietly doing their own thing.

I had suggested a couple activities to Ryan before they came, which he ignored or forgot about or which got pushed aside because they don't like to walk very much and, on Tuesday at least, FIL's main priority seemed to be getting someone to take him to the BMW dealership 35 minutes away so he could buy a t-shirt.

It wasn't even like we had lots of free babysitting time, because we don't let them babysit. They are not comfortable enough around Piper, neither one of them can get around as well as she can, and they drink too much for me to feel good about leaving them alone with her. We relented and went to hang out with some friends for a few hours on the last day of their visit, but we had to hurry home to finish the afore-mentioned recipe that MIL insisted on having. I tried to get her to pick something that didn't take six-plus hours to make, but she was quite insistent. She was also quite insistent that we have Merlot with the dinner, because Heaven forbid they eat a meal without alcohol.

A tiny, not very nice part of me is grudging about paying for dinner when we go out with them, because they cannot eat without a minimum of two beers apiece, and while they drink crap (Natural Light, Bud Light, Milwaukee's Best, and this horrible concoction) at home, in a restaurant they tend toward the $3-$6 a glass stuff, and their liquor tab often ends up costing as much as Ryan and I usually spend on an entire meal. Also, we ride in their car a lot, and although I know FIL's tolerance is pretty high, it makes me extremely uncomfortable to put my family in a car driven by a man in his 60's who has just had three glasses of microbrew.

They are nice enough, and polite enough, but they were here for five days and stayed with us the entire time, and it was just a bit much. MIL made me nuts either trying to pick up everything as soon as it hit the floor, or piling her stuff on my dining table (and in my fruit bowl). She kept circling the house picking things up and piling them on the table, the counters, wherever. She helpfully put away the stuff in the dishwasher one day, but a lot of it went in the wrong cupboards and the rest she left piled on the counter, so it was not that big a help.

Piper had fun playing with her grandparents, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a small relief to wave good-bye. Unlike when my parents, visit, however, it only took me a couple hours to put the house back to normal, which was nice. For some reason, when my parents visit, they completely destroy our house and it takes weeks to clean afterward. Something to look forward to, I guess, since my family is coming for a visit next month.

Grosgrain: Etsy Sample Packages Guest Giveaway

Kathleen is hosting a giveaway of packages chock full o' Etsy goodies. Click the link below to view and enter.


Only the Best of Etsy Sample Packages GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Fashion: Yummy Shoes.

Looking for perfection? Here it is:


I want a pair of these. I want them so much I feel like I shall explode. I want them in every color, to go with every skirt I own. Okay, I am drooling now, so I'll stop.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Don't Take My Sunshine Away

Right now, Piper listens to what we listen to; we almost never get the "for kids" kind of stuff (no, not even the Radiohead lullabies). The grandparents have sent some of those albums like The Children's Choir of Nowhere, Montana Sings Beloved Children's Classics or Favorite Childhood Songs, Personalized! but our brief experiments with these items always end with Piper covering her ears and howling "noooo!" So, because we are too lazy to do much other than Google the occasional band making an appearance on Yo! Gabba Gabba this week, mostly she listens to our music. She discerns among artists and has favorites and dislikes. She can sing entire songs from memory (Death Cab for Cutie's "The Sound of Settling" is a particular favorite for this).

As we drove to the library today, listening to Sparklehorse in the car, I suddenly realized that it won't always be this way. Of course I knew this, but this was the first time I really, really thought about it.

One day, she will flip through my cd collection and roll her eyes in disgust at my PJ Harvey and Portishead Japanese import singles. She will stop shouting "Oh, this is my favorite Beatles song!" every time she hears "All You Need is Love" and she will stop singing along with Ryan Adams and Wilco in the car. She will eye my taste for flannel-clad '90's bands and shake her head, the way I do at my mother's continued adoration of country-pop cheeseballs.

Sometimes she runs to me and hugs so tightly, our chests press together, and I can feel her heart beating, secure in its cradle of ribs and flesh. My heart answers hers and for a second or two they seem to match beats. The call of one heart to another, the feel of her tiny arms wrapped around my neck, the smell of her shampoo, and it's so easy to forget that she will not always be my tiny treasure. She will not always fit in my lap and my life in the ways she does now. One day she will big big, away, gone, tending her own life, her own record collection.

But for now, I have this: the spin of a disc in the player, the sound of her voice from the back seat, and "Could you play that song again please Mom?"

Anytime, kiddo. Any time at all.