Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Hat That Wouldn't Die

This was supposed to be an easy project.

A simple pattern, a ball of mill ends, a way to indulge my slouchy beret obsession, something to keep the chill off my head. Start at one end of the ball, work until I ran out of yarn, two ends to weave in. It was supposed to be finished while there was still a chill in the air.

Of course, it didn't work out that way.

It went pretty quickly...the first time around. 65% of the way done, I decided I didn't like how the ball of mill ends was arranging itself into super-thick stripes. I also noticed that because I started at the end with dark brown/black, and the increase lines were pretty visible, and the whole area was surrounded by a lighter brown, the hat looked like...well, frankly, it looked like a butt. I'm not talking about a two round, peachy cheeks butt. It looked like the other part of a butt.

Congratulations, I said to myself. You have knitted a butthole hat. This is sure to be the pinnacle of your crafting career: a knitted butthole.

I can't wait to see what sort of Google hits I get off that.

Anyway, I sighed and ripped it out. All the way out. Then I started from the other end of my ball, got 70% done, decided I hated the first color in the line-up, and frogged it again. Then I got 75% done with the next incarnation and ripped it back to 40%, because I had to break up the large blocks of color that were forming.

What you see here is the fourth version; I finally gave up and hacked into the ball in several spots to get the striping/color block effect I wanted. So much for only having two ends to weave in.

I made the ribbing part extra-long because I the ball of yarn just kept going and and going and it made me think it might be both cute and structurally helpful to make the ribbing long enough to fold backwards. It works pretty well. It's a little too big, and I might have to shore up the front with some elastic cord or else use 36 hairpins to keep it from sliding off. Or I could just un-flip the ribbing part and pull it over my forehead, which makes me look like a dork but means I don't have to fiddle with it every 30 seconds. Side note: do you have any idea how hard it is to take a picture of the side/back of one's own head? These were taken with my phone camera while my daughter wrapped herself around my legs and howled because we were out of strawberries. I'm lucky I managed to get any photos of the thing at all.

Ravelry details here.

Overall, this is a nice pattern (I used to to make a little hat for one of Piper's dolls* quite successfully) but I think this project was just cursed. It was my first experience working with mill ends, and I will do it again. The lure of so much nice yarn for such a cheap price is irresistible. I really dug this marled yarn, whatever the heck it is (I think it was in with the Lorna's Laces stuff in the shop, but I can't remember for sure). There's a scarf pattern in the Winter/Spring 2010 KnitScene written for marled/ragg yarns that would look cool in this sort of many-colored mixture; it might also make a smashing Milo (I know, I have a problem). I am keen to try other brands and types, because it was such an adventure and it's an inexpensive way to test a yarn. Next time, however, I will have to actually remember what I'm buying, instead of just going "Oooh, pretty!" and stuffing it into my shopping basket.

*Hey, did you know that a hat sized to fit a medium-ish doll will also fit nicely on the head of your average-size housecat?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pirate Girl

We dressed her up in Pirate gear to earn a free kids' meal from Chick-Fil-A. Shameless? Yeah. But they had activities, coloring, and a giant inflatable bounce-house/slide shaped like a pirate ship. That AND free chicken is hard to beat. Have I mentioned the waffle fries? I think they put heroin in the fry-grease, because that is the only explanation I have for my sudden and serious addiction. Besides, she had a good time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beatle Birthday Brainstorm

Otherwise known as a shameless plea for ideas and advice because I am clueless.

My child is not the only one with Beatles on the brain right now. I have spent every waking minute lately thinking about the Fab Four, because Piper's birthday is in just two weeks, and although I have been musing over a Beatles-themed birthday since, oh, January or so, somehow this just snuck up on me. Like so many things.

I had grand plans to start early, but it is only now that I find myself spending three hours Googling "Yellow Submarine quilt" and "Beatles Fabric." She's still in her "toddler bed" (aka Ikea crib with one side taken off and a rail put on), so whatever I come up with only has to fit a crib mattress, thankfully. I have a couple pieces of the Cranston fabrics that were put out in 2008, but it's not quite enough to do a quilt. At least not a very interesting one. The stuff is still available at some places online, I suppose I could order more. I only have one set of the four panels, a yard (I think) of this print and a yard (I think) of this print.  I've looked around at a lot of the quilts made with these fabrics, but none of it is exactly what I'm looking for. She already has a set of pillows made from the pillow fabric, and I feel like doing a whole quilt in the same stuff would be too much. I want something sort of modern-looking, kind of understated, not too cartoony, something that won't look like just a bunch of fat quarters held together by sashing. Then I saw this woman's quilts. You see it there, in the top row? Go ahead, click the picture and take a look. I'll wait.

I know, right? It's FABULOUS.

It's totally Yellow Submarine without being too cartoony, which I think was the trouble with trying to put together a quilt from all those bright print fabrics. I'm not even sure if "not too cartoony" even makes sense since we are talking about a 90-minute cartoon movie here, but I think you get the idea. Anyway, I am so in love with that quilt, and I want to make my own. It's just some strips and some applique, right? Even though I can't hem napkins properly, I could do that, right? And in less than two weeks? Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt.

I have also had fantasies of knitting her some Beatles dolls, which, since I am a super-slow knitter, not good at making up my own patterns, and don't know how to do colorwork, are clearly not going to pan out.

Although I am usually opposed to cartoon characters on clothing, I think I could make an exception and churn out a skirt or a dress from Beatles fabric, either what I have or one of the other fabrics in the collection. I'm thinking a skirt or sundress in this rainbow words print might be kind of cool, and this blue or this yellow would also make a nice but not too loud dress. If I want to go all-out, there's this crazy print (they have it in orange, too). I'm running out of time to order anything, but I have no idea what to do here.

What I do have is a plain white hoodie I picked up on clearance for $1.50 several months ago, and I've been trying to figure out how to Yellow-Submarine-ize it. I'm ordering some iron-on patches, but I think I could do something cool with inkjet iron-on transfer paper, too. I was trying to figure out how to stencil a big yellow sub on the back, but it would be a 7-color stencil and I don't think I'm up to that challenge. Which reminds me, have you ever used the inkjet-printable transfer paper? Do you have any recommendations? We've done it twice and both brands we bought sucked. If I can get it to work, it will be a 30-minute project, which is great, because between my quilting delusions and the dress I am knitting for her, I don't have much time.

Don't even get me started on what I want to do for the party. The party that we are not having. Memorial Day is the weekend before her birthday so we can't do it then; my in-laws will be here the weekend after, so that's a no-go (there are many, many reasons why not, starting with "If one Grandma gets to come to her b-day party and the other doesn't, all Hell will break loose"); the weekend after that my family might be coming for a visit (see above), and we don't know that many people here, so if we did it at all, it would be a three-weeks-after-the-day celebration for two other kids and eight other adults. Yet I am scheming about cakes frosted in many shades of yellow, playing pin-the-ring-on-Ringo, and making rainbow beanbags to toss through a Sea of Holes cardboard cutout. Hmm, maybe I could combine them into one game and have a toss-the-rings onto Ringo...

Thursday, May 20, 2010


My kid is so into the Beatles right now.

It started small. As much as I love Hayao Miazaki, I was sick of watching Kiki's Delivery Service* four times a week (she would use up the entirety of her daily TV allotment to watch it first thing every morning), and I needed a break from that wisecracking cat. She had liked Yellow Submarine when she was little, so I dug the VHS tape** out of the cabinet and popped it in. She sat on the couch, giving it her full attention. She cackled and giggled at Ringo's jokes. She got up and danced like crazy. And she asked to watch it the next morning. And the next. And the next.

Then I played some Beatles music for her and she rocked out. We started checking out books from the library and reading about the Beatles. We burned right through Mike Venezia's slim volume and plunged into this much larger book. She adored it. We read a chapter every night at bedtime, and she spent hours looking through "the Beatles book." That's what she called it, and I had a lot of explaining to do when "the Beatles book" went back to the library.

Now she is in full-on Beatles-crazy mode. "Should we watch Yellow Submarine? Can we watch Yellow Submarine?" is the first thing I hear in the morning, as her fingers pry my eyelids open.  When it's over and I turn the TV off for the day, she immedately asks "Can we listen to the Beatles? We can listen to the Beatles now, right?"  Thank God for the library, because most of my Beatles CD's have disappeared through the years (between roommates, cross-country moves, or friends "borrowing" things and never returning them) and all I have left is Anthology 2. I've been checking out every other one our library has, so that we can listen to the Beatles all day without tons of repetition. She carries the little drum set we got her for Christmas into the living room and drums along with her favorite songs. Ryan got Beatles Rockband to play with her, and she happily punches the controller buttons or uses her drum set to back him up while he plays. She wanders around the house singing many of the songs, and it's not unusual to hear "We all live inna yellow subbberr-ine! We all live inna yellow sub-ar-eeen!" coming from her playroom in random bursts.

She has a set of four pillows made from this fabric panel, and she can not only identify John, Paul, George, and Ringo as their cartoon selves, she can pick them out of photographs in the books we read. She can point to the Abbey Road cover and tell you who is who. 

I, of course, am thrilled. I am still working on her bedroom, which has a Yellow Submarine theme, and which I'd really like to finish some time this decade. She's almost 3, and I've been working and planning the thing since I was pregnant. Of course, maybe it's better this way, since, although it's taken me nearly four years, she is only now Beatles-crazy enough to love and appreciate it when I am done.

*Can someone please tell me why there is a 2011 "in development" listing for this on IMDB? They are already doing a Disney-Robert Zemeckis remake of Yellow Submarine that is sure to blow donkey chunks, why must they ruin everything?! 

** Yes, we still have these. A whole cabinet of them.  You see how technologically advanced we are here at Tragically Ordinary? And also, we're cheap bastards who won't replace a VHS movie with a DVD unless the tape no longer works or the DVD is on sale for five bucks. Considering how often our daughter watches Yellow Submarine, I'd better start saving for the Deluxe DVD edition right now.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I finally completed a sewing project! Too bad I didn't get a good picture of it.

We use cloth napkins in our house, but the adult-size ones can be a bit big for a two-year-old to handle. Not that it doesn't take an acre of cloth to mop her up after a meal, it just requires an adult-size hand to do it. She picked out this fabric a few months back, when we ventured into the Hellmouth Wal-Mart near our house to check out their "We're No Longer Going to Carry Fabric, So Get It Now" sale. I don't do cartoon characters and tried to talk her out of it, but she was quite insistent. There was less than a yard, so I took it home and tried to figure out what to do with it. No way in hell was I going to turn it into apparel. Just...no.

One day at dinner watching her fumble with a cloth napkin bigger than her head, I realized this would be the perfect use, not to mention an easy project to ease me back into sewing. How hard could it be to hem some squares?

Um...a little harder than I thought, actually. This machine has no needle up/needle down feature, so turning was tricky. It took me at least one napkin to get used to the rhythm of the machine. I burned my fingers twice pressing the hems before sewing. I couldn't quite figure out the corners. This machine really HATES sewing through more than a couple layers of fabric. I had a copy of Weekend Sewing that I borrowed from the library, but I couldn't quite figure out the instructions for mitered corners, and I thought maybe I needed a heavier needle to go through the layers, but wouldn't that make the rest of the stitching come out funny, since it was only a couple layers? By this point I had 2.5 of 5 napkins done, it was 1:00 a.m., I couldn't find my multi-pack of spare needles, and I decided to just do my best and try harder with the next batch. They came out okay, but I could've done better.

Piper likes them, although she spends a lot of time stuffing them into her backpack and carrying them around or using them as blankets to make beds for her dinosaurs, stuffed animals, and dolls. They have actually gotten a some use as napkins - there are only four in this picture because the other one was used during a breakfast of strawberry pancakes, which meant it was very much in need of a trip through the washer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spinach & Cheese Popovers

Please excuse the blurry phone-camera picture, but these were SO GOOD.

R had to work on Sunday, so I spent all day playing with Piper, cooking (chicken Korma, chicken soup with homemade noodles) and baking (mini blueberry scones, red velvet cupcakes, popovers) while watching The X-Files on Netflix (all 9 seasons available for streaming, whoo-hoo!). These tasty little morsels were among the truly staggering amount of food I cranked out that day.

My basic popover recipe (from my big giant Good Housekeeping cookbook) calls for baking the popovers for 50 minutes, taking them out and cutting slits in the top for steam, and then baking for 10 more minues. Piper had been asking for spanakopita (she loves spinach), but since we were out (and I was not about to make my own), I made these. I chopped up some fresh spinach, tossed it in a bowl with a little garlic salt, dehydrated onion, and shredded cheddar. Then I baked the popovers for the required 50 minutes, and when I took them out to cut the steam slits, I just stuffed some of the spinach mixture inside and put them back in the oven. I was glad I'd gone with the dehydrated onion, as it sucked up all the moisture from the cooking spinach and melting cheese, otherwise they might've gotten soggy in the middle. The popovers came out with slightly crumbly outer crusts, and inside it was a delicious combo of eggy popover innards, mellow spinach, buttery cheddar, and tangy garlic salt.

One thing I'll do differently next time (and there will be one) is maybe cook them for 40 minutes before stuffing, so the flavors meld just a wee bit more. I might also try the garlic salt instead of regular salt in the batter recipe, or use garlic powder in the spinach. They were a tiny, tiny bit too salty for me. Other than that, they're great. I froze a bunch of them, in a pathetic attempt to keep us from eating them all in one day, and they are still great when defrosted. They are delicious for breakfast with a cup of strong coffee, they are GREAT for lunch when dunked in a bowl of soup, they are a terrific after-nap snack for the kid. The freezing trick only managed to make them last a few extra days; as soon as I go get more spinach, a double batch will be in the works.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Conversations With Piper: Food and Fun

"We don't play with ketchup in the shower, do we Mom? No we don't, that's not polite!"

"Please eat your peas, Piper."
"I don't want to."
"Please eat them anyway. Vegetables are good for you."
"I don't want to eat begetables that are good for me, I just want ice cream."

We were out digging in the yard, and I turned up a worm, which startled me.
"Eww! A worm!"
"Let me see, Mom." She inspected the wriggling thing. "I don't like it. He's kinda gross."
"Yeah, I guess worms are kind a gross."
"But what about candy worms? They're not gross, are they?"
"I suppose not."

On the phone with my mom:
"Hi Grandma, I'm eating hamburgers."
"That's great. Do you like hamburgers?"
"Yeah. I like hamburgers. With ketchup and cheese and cheese. Do you like hamburgers?"
"I love hamburgers."
"What about candy hamburgers? Do you like candy hamburgers?"
"Uhh, I don't think so..."

Outside, in the yard:
"Mom, a spider! I'm going to pet him."
"Don't pet the spider. Spiders are dangerous. You should just leave them alone."
"I'm gonna just pet him for pretend."
"No, I think you probably should not even pretend-pet a spider. Some of the spiders here are very poisonous, so you shouldn't mess with any of them, just to be on the safe side, okay?"
"Okay. But what about candy spiders?"
"Candy spiders?"
"Yeah. Candy spiders are not dangerous, right?"
"Only to your teeth. If it's a candy spider, pet away, my friend."

"Hey Mom, can we go do some fun stuff?"
"What kind of fun stuff?"
"Um...fun things."
"What did you have in mind? What fun things would you like to do today?"
"You know. Fun stuff and things. Fun things."
"Okay.  I'll get right on that, kiddo."

Fortunately, her top spot in the category of "fun things" is a trip to the grocery store. She asks to go the grocery store every single day. As excited as she gets, you'd think the place was Disneyland. I don't quite get it, because most of the time we are there she has to listen to me say put it down and stay in your seat or come back here or no, we are not getting the Spider-Man popsicles or stop touching things or please please please BE QUIET so I can figure out if the name-brand tuna is worth an extra thirty cents. But she does get a free cookie and usually a balloon, and they do have hot dogs there (even if they are still in the package and don't cost $8 apiece), so I guess it could be confused with Disneyland.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh, Hell No

Sorry Anthropologie, but even you cannot convince me that pleated khaki shorts are cool.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Some Stuff About and For Mother's Day

We don't celebrate Mothers' Day around here much, for a variety of reasons. It was never a huge deal to me in the first place, and this year it will be the anniversary of Chick's death, which isn't the happiest of associations. I have some ideological problems with its evolution from Julia Ward Howe's pleas for peace to the hyper-commercialized backhanded compliment of its current incarnation, with plenty of stops for misogyny and trivialization along the way. Aside: Did y'all see this episode of The Middle? I laughed so hard I thought I was going to require an oxygen tank.


Our finances are usually tight enough that my pathological aversion to spending money on myself kicks in and outlaws whatever gesture my husband proposes despite my ideological objections. If he presses, I always tell him that I don't need trinkets or slippers or candy; I'd much rather have a home project completed (like, uhh, the pile of framed pictures that have been sitting around NOT on the wall, for three months and counting) or an afternoon to work ALONE in the house.  Getting a pile of crap off the floor and up onto the shelves and walls where it belongs or having time to finish a whole paragraph is way more valuable to me than stuff.  Although if he wanted to bring me back a jumbo-size caramel latte, I wouldn't say no.


If someone did ask me, "What do you want for Mother's Day?" and I were inclined to answer something other than "someone to do the mountain of laundry currently creating a fire hazard in the hallway," this would be my list.

1. Eames House Blocks from House Industries (found via Handmade Charlotte):  Look at these, would you?

So gorgeous. No, I would not let my daughter play with them. They are $150 per set (of 36; 20 for the house, 16 for the studio) and besides, they are MINE.

2. A screenprinting machine. After seeing Kathleen's awesome "What the FRAK" shirt in this post (that's a Battlestar Galactica reference, for those of you who are not as nerdy as me), I decided immediately that I must have one. Must. Have. One. So that I may fill our house with screen-printed items which pay tribute to all our favorite things (no, not Beets-Bears-Battlestar Galactica, but close). My first project would be making Piper a "Nugget" shirt (that's another BSG reference, my nerdiness knows no bounds).

3. This "Consomme Cap" from Anthropologie:
It's so cute. But $48 for something which I will wear a lot but will also get stuffed in my bag, sweated on profusely, and occasionally wind up on the floor of my closet...maybe I'll try making one someday.

4. Landscapers. Seriously. Our side-yard is entirely (no, REALLY) covered in dandelions so big I suspect our house may have been built on a nuclear waste dump. Our entire front yard is clover. I have spent many hot, cranky hours out there already, ripping and digging and pushing my weed-pulling tools to the limits of their strength, and it doesn't look any better. I just want someone to come fix it, because I am at a loss. Oh, and can they put up a privacy fence while they're out there? I am tired of kids stealing Piper's toys out of our yard and playing on our swings.

5. This "Necktie Tote," also from Anthropologie:
Mmmmmm. It comes in blue, too, and I can't quite decide which I like best:
Probably the green, I suppose. I already have a wicked awesome blue-and-yellow bag a friend bought me for Christmas one year (it was, um, also from Anthro. I think I have a leeetle problem).

6. A gift certificate to Sew, Mama, Sew! or Repro Depot or Crafty Planet so I can stock up on nice fabrics and those Oliver + S patterns I am itching to make for all the kids in my orbit.

7. Some Mama jewelry. Sure, it's a little hokey, but so what? If motherhood doesn't give me the right to indulge my shamelessly-sentimental side, what does? I like the Odette Alfaro stuff (giveaway here), Hipmom, Cinnamon Sticks, and Turtle Love Co.

8.Sheer Jersey Scarf by Zen Threads, gray/white stripe with bike print.  I make a little EEEEEEEEEE noise every time I see it:

9. One of the Gossamer Scarves from Uniform Natural - everyone raves about them, and I've made myself a couple of gauze scarves, but these seem so much nicer. I'd like to see what all the fuss is about.

10. Some TOMS shoes. I am curious, the shoes are cute, and they are, by all accounts, a terrific company.  I really like the Boaobab Sunset Linen Classics:

 But the Silver Glitters are also pretty sweet (gold, too). And I find the Vegan Wrap Boots fascinating.

So that's my imaginary list. Hope everyone's weekends - and Mother's Day - goes off without a hitch!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Firefly Wedding

Some ladies on Ravelry asked to see photos of our wedding, when it got 'round that we had themed and styled it (inasmuch as we had a "theme" besides Steph's family acts like a bunch of jerks) after the brilliant-but-canceled TV show Firefly. I know a couple of you out there are fellow Browncoats, so I thought you might like a look, too.

Here's a pretty good picture of everyone's costumes attire. Oh and this is one of the few pictures where you can see the banners we hung in the gazebo.

 This is what it looked like during the ceremony. We kept it as short as possible, which was good because it was REALLY hot.

Here's a shot of my boobs bouquet. Those flowers are fake, and my husband did all the work himself. Isn't it pretty? Not really relevant to the Firefly theme, but this is one of the (few) pictures from that day I really like.

The bridesmaids with their parasols. I could not find a swirly-stripe parasol like Kaylee's, but this at least had the swirl (how awesome is the Kaylee costume at that link?!). Anyway, after hand-making more than 30 beaded flowers (I had some help) for corsages/boutonnieres, refurbishing five necklaces, and keeping my mom from punching me out and putting on my dress, I was out of get-up-and-go to buy white parasols and hand-paint the stripes. 

And here we all are again. This is a much better view of the Cap'n Tightpants tuxes.

This was all nearly five years ago, and I have heard of a few Firefly weddings since, but at the time not many people had thought to style their wedding on a canceled sci-fi TV show about space cowboys. If we'd had our way, we would've built a replica of Serenity's cargo hold and asked Joss Whedon or Nathan Fillion to come officiate. Since we don't live in Imaginary Fantasy We Are Made of Money World and my mom turned the whole thing into her own debutante ball, we did the best we could. Mad props go to my friend Morgan and her husband, because they saved the show more times than I can count. All our friends pitched in, but those two led the charge. We owe them a huge debt, which they are free to call in someday when they need an enemy to fall down an elevator shaft onto some bullets.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Pioneer Women

Piper spiked an inexplicable fever on Saturday. Nothing else, no complaints about hurting ears or throat, just a restless night followed by a temp that started at 100.6 and climbed to 102.5 by lunchtime. I let her drink about 5 of the tiny, watered-down apple juice boxes she loves so much, in quick succession.  We bought a box of popsicles and let her go to town. I pressed water on her, and, once the fever climbed, gave her medicine and packed her off for a nap.

We made calls, of course, to the pediatrician's office that wasn't open at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. To the Urgent Care centers in our area, asking for hours and procedures for getting seen. To the insurance company, trying to get authorization to take her to an Urgent Care center or, failing that, the ER. We were advised that we could do that, but since our ped "doesn't do" the sort of referrals we needed, we'd be paying out of pocket. That is, if any place would see us without the referral in the first place. The very nice nurse on the help-line at the pediatrician's office told us that we were doing all the right things and that, unless the fever didn't respond to the medicine or got to 104, it probably wouldn't help to take her in anyway.

As I sat there pouring out cups of water and apple juice, unwrapping popsicles, and making our temporal-artery thermometer work overtime, I stewed in my feelings of fear and rage and helplessness. Once we'd determined that there was nothing to do but wait it out, and Piper was snoozing away in her room, I snuck in to feel her forehead again. This symbolic gesture, not capable of easing her illness or of providing any accurate information about it, served only to comfort myself. I looked at her sweet little face, curls spilling over her forehead and her cheeks flushed. I sat down on the floor beside her bed and watched her for a moment, taking in the steady rise and fall of her breathing.

I thought of all the other mothers who have sat beside the bed of a sick child. Women who held small hands and willed that tiny form to keep breathing, keep breathing, please just be okay. Thirty minutes before I had been cursing the few options available to get my child to a doctor, raging at this ridiculous healthcare system that would make us choose between health and poverty, drowning in bitter resentment of all the circumstances in my life that had brought me to a point where I could not just truck off to the ER with my insurance card. Now I thought all we have to do is get to Monday. The pediatrician's phones would turn on at 8:00 Monday morning; all we had to do was keep the fever at bay until then. Then there would be an office visit, antibiotics, an explanation. This will end, and she will be okay.

I thought of so many other women before me, my ancestors. Women who journeyed with their families from the interior of Germany, to the Volga plains of Russia, and then on across an ocean to America. Women who came from England and Ireland and Wales, who left everything they knew and bore children in a strange and wild country. Women who watched those children sicken and die, who lost them to accidents or coal mines or farm equipment or the filth of cities, and could not do a damned thing about it. These women held the hands of their children in tenement apartments, in sod houses, on crowded passenger ships. They prayed and sobbed under cover of temporary shelters, the canvas of wagon-hoods or in farm houses surrounded by rolling acres of wheat. They prayed and sobbed and hoped, because that was all they could do.

As much as I joke about moving into a mud hut and leaving civilization behind, as much chatter as there always is about "the good old days" and going "back to basics," I don't envy those women. I wouldn't want to live in a time where an ear infection or a broken arm could kill my child. I live here, now, in this turbulent and fearful world, where there is so much to be angry about and so much to inspire despair. But it's also a time where I can soothe a fever with popsicles and apple juice, where a $4.99 bottle of bubblegum-flavored ibuprofen can knock out symptoms, and where the promise of a waiting room and white coats means that everything will be okay, and for that I am grateful.