Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A room of his own

It's not finished--but it's unpacked.  Hooray!  Worth's cozy attic room is so fun to work in after all the time I spent daydreaming during my pregnancy and beyond about creating a space for this child.  His room is actually on the same level as the master and Dorothy's room, but our new place is a camel back, meaning that the back of the house has a full second floor but the front does not, making his bedroom seem like a little attic perch while ours are just plain (full-height) bedrooms.  Dorothy could have chosen any room she wished, but she did not choose this one because of the paneled walls.  I see her point, but the space is twice the size of hers--she'll regret it some day.  I have big plans for this room (map-printed curtains are a priority, as is painting that dingy ceiling), but for now it is set up and functional and, for the first time, a real space constructed with my son in mind.  His father's Marine Corps foot locker is his toy box; his "piggy bank" is a combination safe of the same origin.  His big-boy bed is on the floor so we won't have head-bumps, and I repurposed a shoe organizer to hold toy cars and finger puppets.  It seems fitting that Worth's room should be the first room that is fully unpacked and put together--he's waited long enough!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas sharks

If I thought it was going to be difficult to unpack and get tidy in the new house before, I clearly didn't realize how much worse the situation was going to get with the addition of all the Christmas paraphernalia!  Between the fancy pink Polly Pocket camper (it's called a glamper, no joke) accessories and the noisy baby instruments it may be spring before I find a clear spot on this new floor to set my foot without stomping on something precious or loud.  But we had a good Christmas!  Here's me and my girl in our matching pajamas on Christmas morning.  They aren't homemade; they are from Target.  :)
And baby Worth sporting his White Socks bib (I did sew that, but it was before I knew we were moving) and shark hat.  The hat has a story.  I finished most of my shopping as soon as I found out we were moving, wrapped up the gifts, then sent them off to Nana's.  I blogged about that at the time.  But of course my early shopping did not account for closer-to-Christmas requests from Dorothy.  I could not have predicted that the item she would get her heart most set on receiving from Santa Claus was a shark hat and mitten set that matches those owned by her little preschool crush.  I had to e-mail the boy's mother to ask where she'd gotten them, then get myself to the Gap in the midst of all our move craziness to secure the hat.  Fortunately, the store did have exactly two hats left when I got there--one in Dorothy's size and one in Worth's, so of course I bought them both.  If I'm buying my daughter a shark hat from the boys' department, why not also purchase one for my son?  Dorothy was extremely happy with her her new shark gear and has mentioned several times how she and her little friend will now have matching hats on the playground.  I'm totally charmed that 4-year-old love is taking the form of identical fleece hats in the form of marine predators.  I'm also totally into the hats myself--they are so unexpected on both my pink-clad daughter and my rosy-cheeked baby.  The kids kept getting pawed at and cooed over by strangers at Costco today.  Who knew that shark hats could be such a thing?
This picture is being included just because I love it.  It's Dorothy expressing her love for her newly-unwrapped skunk toy.  I bought a bag of seemingly new (with tag) Beanie Babies at the thrift store for about a dollar, then parceled them out to the kids and wrapped them individually from Santa.  Dorothy loves stuffed animals that are about that size and heft, and I like toys that don't fall apart in the washing machine.  (Beanies wash pretty well, in my experience.)  She told my mother that her skunk and owl toys were her favorite Christmas gifts.  Not a bad second life for those erstwhile "collectors' items."

I'll post more house photos soon!  I'm probably going to spend the rest of the winter on befores and afters, kind of like the camper, but first I just need to get more boxes unpacked. A planned trip to IKEA later this week should help me with some needed storage; right now I'm a bit stymied by not having the right places to put the things I'm unpacking.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home! No place like home!

We're a mess of boxes and dirty laundry over here, but the move is over.  We had a rick of wood delivered today, and friends came to help us drag boxes to one side of the room (under that window, see?) so that at least the cozy space around the family room fire looks habitable, and we are enjoying it!  We bought one of the last live Christmas trees available at our local lot, and though it's a bit sad looking and uneven Dorothy loves it.  She was so eager to put on ornaments that she started decorating the tree at once--before we put on lights.  Skipping lights at least means there is one less thing to put away after Christmas!  The empty table on the other side of the fireplace is my sewing table.  I am so excited about the happy hours I will spend under that beautiful picture window (which will be replaced with one I can slide open when our new window order is installed in 4-6 weeks), and Dorothy's wee desk next to mine will (she hopes) get a little starter sewing machine on it after Santa arrives on Saturday.

Hope everyone else is feeling like they are occupying the right space this Christmas.  :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The stockings were hung

by our new chimney, with care!  And cheering!  And lots of exclamation points!  We got access to the new house today and rushed over to take care of first things first, like hanging our stockings.  I think we all feel better now.  In addition to our stockings we took over some fragile items (lamps) and some that would be overly difficult to pack, like my stand mixer.  It sure gives me a mental boost to know that my stockings and my stand mixer are waiting for me over at the new house!

Our stockings each have a bit of a story.  Mine (first) was a gift from Rob during the Christmas of our engagement.  Rob's is from his childhood.  Dorothy's (ivory with the silver tree) has eighteen silver hooks sewn on it.  Each Christmas Santa brings her a sterling silver charm representing something special about her year, and he hangs it on a hook on the stocking.  By her eighteenth Christmas she will have a nice collection of meaningful charms that she can choose to leave on her stocking, or put on a bracelet if she wishes.  I like this tradition because it takes up less space than ornaments, and can double as something functional (wearable jewelry) instead of just (pardon me) a box load of crap that she feels like she has to keep until one of us dies.  Not to be all anti-sentimental, but I just am not in favor of traditions that burden people with lots of stuff they must store.  The cat's stocking is next, and then Worth's.  I had a hard time thinking of how to adapt the charm tradition for him, but I did come up with something.  His stocking has big circles on it, and eighteen of them are well-centered on the stocking.  Santa has purchased a good supply of silver letter beads and will string one word in the center of a circle each year.  It's not wearable, but at least it will never take up more room than a stocking.  Santa still hasn't decided what word will sum up Worth's first year, though--for some reason "victuals" keeps coming to mind, as that boy is such a big fan of his dinner!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

There's no place like...

Worth met Santa this week!  I don't like screaming pictures with Santa so I opted to be included after it was clear Worth would not willingly participate in a hand off.  I have a similar picture of Dorothy, Santa, and my arms from her first Christmas.  I have no pictures of Santa with Dorothy since then, what with the unwillingness on my part to hand a screaming child over to a scary stranger in a red suit, and her unwillingness to get anywhere near him.  (The picture looks like an old Polaroid because I downloaded this software and am now slightly addicted to using it on my photographs.  You should try it--it's fun to watch the picture develop over the course of two minutes!)
And the packing continues.  Poor Rody Pony, getting squashed into a box!  We were sure we'd have the keys to the new place by now but we don't.  There was a problem on the seller's end with one of the repairs we requested taking longer than expected.  I'm trying not to feel excessively frustrated about it, but it is frustrating to have thought we'd have access to the house by now but not.  My plans to move everyday items (like most of the kitchen and closets) by tote and unpack them directly into their new spots have fallen through, so now we need many more boxes, much more packing paper and a lot more takeout than we'd thought.  Still, I'm trying to focus on the merry Christmas we're going to have around our new hearth, and being glad our conscientious seller is taking care of everything at the new house.  I'm thankful for the Vietnam Kitchen down the street and for disposable diapers for one week only!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Instead of 1000 words

A handmade hat that turned up during packing.
The mess inside our house.
The mess outside our house.
An angelic-looking baby who has unwisely chosen this moment of upheaval to cut new teeth, all night long.
Two nice-list hopefuls.
The mobile imp who has discovered that un-baby-proofed interiors can be a landscape of pure fun.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sweet feet

Most of the sweet baby booties I made when I was pregnant are no longer in use at my house.  Now that Worth can pull himself up he needs grippy-footed soft-soled shoes to keep him from skidding all over our hardwood floors.  This one pair does still work, though.  Since I'd made this pair to fit a bigger baby, I'd had the foresight to also do something about the slipping issue.  It doesn't work perfectly well, but really neither do leather soles, and it's too cold for bare feet.  I sewed a felt sole onto the bottom of these booties, then used rubbery puffy fabric paint to paint little paw prints on the bottoms.  The paint provides some traction on the floors and keeps Mr. Baby from whacking his head for any reason not related to his own nascent motor skills.  These booties stay on with the help of red leather cord laces and are very cutely U of L-y, but unfortunately I did not think to put them on him when he made his first trip to the new stadium last week to see his first basketball game!
The real estate project is progressing nicely.  We've taken care of our buyer's inspection repair quests and our seller has responded positively to ours.  We're hoping for a Merry Early Christmas closing in about two weeks.  In the meantime, *I think* (and I almost hate to jinx this by even blogging about it!) that our buyers are going to allow us to have a key very soon to start moving in some of our things.  I'm so excited!  I couldn't resist popping in on Early Bird Thursday today at my favorite thrift shop to see if I could score some goodies for our new digs, and I totally did!  A yellow bed skirt for Dorothy's new room, a little knick-knack shelf for our crafty studio, a vintage Christmas tablecloth, a rug for our studio, a mirror to hang over our dress-up box, and this little bell for my vintage Kentucky kitchen.  $18 well spent, in my opinion.

Looking ahead, I think Dorothy must have an owl pillow similar to these in her new vintage-floral bedroom.  I'm pretty sure there is a sheet in that pile just crying out to be an owl pillow.  How cute are they?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday skirt

I am not a big fan of shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  When I was a kid we always spent the day out in the country at a farm belonging to family friends.  When my husband and I were first dating, we enjoyed the "cheap date" quality of milling with the shopping throngs and having lunch out, but now most years I'm happy to leave that scene alone.  All my Christmas gifts are Internet-order or handmade (sorry Toys R Us, but your cheap, bad-quality, made-in-China, creativity-sucking, ugly plastic crap just doesn't do it for me, at any price or any time of day), and I have enjoyed spending this peaceful chilly Friday cozily alternating snuggling my ailing baby with working at my sewing machine. 

I bought some nice black jersey to make a skirt several weeks ago, but with all the real estate hoo-ha I hadn't had time to put it together.  It was a bit hard to cut this project out with much of our square footage being sucked up in towers of packed boxes, but I'm glad I got it done so I can wear it over the holidays.  I based the skirt on Simplicity 2758, which is a pattern I've made (and blogged about) a number of times.  I like the cut of this skirt, and when I make it in stretchy knit I get to skip the zipper, making it that much easier to sew and leaving time for embellishment.  I serged the bottom of the ruffle to look a bit raw, and the overhanging lip of the main skirt panel is serged in the same way, which is inspired by the look of store-bought clothes I've admired lately.  In ten years we'll wonder why we wore clothes that looked like they weren't finished.
We woke to a dusting of snow here in Kentucky this morning.  I called Dorothy over to the window and she was utterly thrilled.  She had her snowsuit in her hand and was ready to go out and play in less than an inch of snow before I'd even poured my coffee.  Rob had to meet with a client so he couldn't take her, and there was no way I was dragging my sick baby out into the cold, but I also hated to deflate Dorothy's enthusiasm.  She was willing to wait until her father got back, but we knew the snow wouldn't last that long, so I came up with an alternative solution.  I took a plastic container out onto the deck and scraped the snow off the railings and into the dish.  Then I gave my little housebound snowbird an assortment of measuring cups and kitchen utensils and she had a blast scooping, measuring and dishing the snow.  She crammed the snow tightly into an empty salt shaker and felt clever, like I'd never get it out, and my salt shaker would be inconveniently jammed with snow forever, right here in the warm house.  "How will you get the snow out, Mommy?  Will you have to use pliers or some scissors?"  Only time will tell, Dorothy...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Don't feed the wildlife

We have a house!  Hooray!  To our great surprise and delight, the owner of the Good Memories house (see below) accepted our offer outright.  Now we're feeling a little foolish that we didn't just give that a try a week ago and save ourselves the anxiety.  We have the housing inspection and tests yet to get through, but we're hoping for the best.  I'm so excited about this new house and I think it's going to be a great fit for our family.  There is such a terrific crafty space with a cozy wood-burning stove in the basement!  There is also all the crazy wallpaper, outdated fixtures, and appliances that might be as old as me, but we'll deal with those in time.  It'll be like the camper project but on a large scale.  This house it the one I had in mind months ago when I bought all the yellow florals to make Dorothy a quilt.  The wallpaper will stay up in her new room at her insistence, and I'll finally give those sheets a second life once my sewing space is unpacked at our new address.

The kitchen in this house is so bad right now, with a wallpaper wharf scene, outdated cabinetry, and brown appliances, but I can already picture the makeover in my mind.  The whole house has a real World War II vibe (it was built in '41) and I'm going to accessorize the kitchen with a vintage Kentucky tourism theme in mind.  I have already picked up a few charmingly hokey vintage plates that were sold at Kentucky tourist destinations decades ago (eBay and local thrift shops) and these sweet salt and pepper shakers.  And out of respect for the home's time period Rob and I have vowed to drink more martinis and listen to more Frank Sinatra.
This scene was from my kitchen this morning.  Worth scooted over to Dorothy's chair and was gruntingly begging her for food.  Dorothy asked if she could feed him, and my first reaction was, "if you feed him, he'll never leave you alone."  But then it occurred to me that he's a baby not a dog, so I said she could.  So she fed him bits of cereal from her cup, and well, now he'll probably never leave her alone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The caterpillar

A few weeks ago I was trying to figure out something nice to do with a particularly cute caterpillar drawing of Dorothy's and this is what I ended up with.  It's a custom t-shirt from Cafe Press that we will give to Dorothy's cousin for Christmas.  I hope it isn't too redundant with the joint venture Dorothy and I made for the same cousin last winter, but since that gift was appreciated, this gift in the same vein probably will be too.  Dorothy really enjoys feeling like she contributed to the making of any gift, and the benefit of a professionally done t-shirt is that it should wash nicely, unlike (unfortunately) the print-at-home transfers, which require fussy care to stay nice.  I removed the white space from the caterpillar image using Photoshop, then saved the file as a PNG with a transparent background to make the design.

I took advantage of the warm weather this morning and did some more camper painting.  I still have not had the chance to finish what I started with the handkerchief paisleys, but this morning I made solid progress on the opposite side.  I purchased new, good quality brushes and they make all the difference in the world.  Maybe I should have thought of that before, but the difference was really amazing.  It was like I was trying to chop vegetables with a kiddie knife before!  This time the paint went on much better and the lines look more smooth.  It was faster going, too, so if I get another golden moment while both children are asleep or occupied and the weather is right I will get back out there.  Otherwise, the camper may have to stay incompletely decorated until the spring.

As for our housing situation, who knows.  We're working on a response to a set of nit-picky repair requests from our buyer.  We made a fair offer on the Good Memories house, but have no particular confidence that the owner is ready for the kind of reality check that would mean taking our reasonable offer.  I'm sure something will work out (Renata clutches at optimism), but at this point we're certainly curious about just how that will look.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The boxes, oh the boxes!  We had to clear out much of the basement for yesterday's home inspection.  The buyer's agent at least sent us a warm message of appreciation after the fact, which helped us feel better about all the work.  (Full disclosure:  by "we" I mean my husband and my mother.  I think I mostly ran around like a crazy chicken picking up and dropping off children, nursing a baby, and looking at houses while they cleaned out the basement.)  The main level of our home now looks like the basement threw up all over it.  The inspection reportedly went fine; if they decide to request minor repairs we expect to hear about it Monday.

Meanwhile, we have not yet found a home to move into, and time is ticking towards a closing date.  Ouch!  The house that was not for sale did not work out.  We're developing a plan (subject to change after I see a few more houses) that I think will involve a fair offer on the Good Memories house with the caveat that we are not willing to waste time negotiating on our fair offer, and that it will continue to sit lonely and empty while we pursue other options if they do not take it.  Our other options are to choose one of the good and decent houses that we would not want to live in for more than, say, five years.  Another five year house is fine in some ways--it leaves us open to pick a house we feel will make us more comfortable than our current cramped quarters without having to make a longer-term commitment, but it also raises issues of resale value and move-in readiness.  We don't mind putting effort into a house we'd stay in indefinitely but don't want to sink much investment (time or money) into another five year house.  We'll see...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The waiting is the hardest part

Housing inspection tomorrow; the buyer needs everything moved away from the walls in the basement.  That's rough, because our basement is crammed full of stuff.  Crafty supplies can unfortunately take up a lot of room, and we've been hanging on to miscellaneous stuff that we intend to put in our next (bigger) house, and it's all been stashed in the basement.  In the midst of all the basement chaos I am intent on acquiring and wrapping Christmas gifts.  While it seems like one of the less pressing things we've got going right now, it is near the top of my mind.  Santa must be able to find us, wherever we are!  I typically do my shopping gradually, and I'd ordered a number of things just in the last week or so since it started looking like we'd be moving, so now most of our Christmas things are simply and hastily wrapped and sent off to Nana's to hide in a closet until we need them.  Having at least one thing under control makes me feel a little better.
Dorothy and I also made spice cake (we skipped the pecans) from this month's Cooking Light to celebrate selling the house.  I guess I overcooked the maple part of the icing a bit because it hardened too quickly and is more like fudge, but it still tastes good. It was nice to take the time for a mother/daughter project in the midst of all this housing hustle.

And speaking of the housing hustle, we still don't know where we're going.  I'm starting to, ahem, sort of lose my s#!$ about it, and I'm tired of waiting to know where my family is going to be sleeping next month.  The short version of the story is that we made a verbal offer on a house that is not for sale.  It is none of the ones I described in my last post.  As you might imagine, there is slightly more to the story than that, but I don't feel like detailing in the blog.  I don't want to live in the knives and lizards house (besides, did I mention the kitchen there?  Bleah!), the good memories house is overpriced, and the dilapidated charmer is really just too dilapidated.  We've been waiting since Monday afternoon to hear back, and at this point I'm jumping every time the phone rings.  I need to go back and read my own post about not wishing my life away!  But housing is a basic need, and even though I realize and am thankful that we are not actually faced with homelessness, with every box I pack in the basement I get more anxious about not knowing where these will be unpacked.  Please send me good housing vibes!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The choices

So we saw one more house today and will see two tomorrow.  For your amusement (and as an exercise in working out my own feelings about them) I'll describe our strongest options.

The Bad Karma House
The bad karma house is practically right around the corner from our current home.  It's a very attractive home on a pretty street.  I like the way there is a good play space for the kids right next to a good sewing space for me.  It's a totally respectable and nicely maintained home that is probably the "smartest" purchase on our list.  Your mother would approve.  But why the bad karma?  I don't know if you'd call it karma or "vibes" or what, but even though I'm not a superstitious person I still feel like I need to have a positive feeling about the home I buy.  If I am going to lay my head down in it every night, I want to feel some positive association with the space itself.  When we walked up to this home and Rob was inspecting the exterior he found (this is no joke) a butcher knife in the immaculately well-kept front bushes.  A butcher knife in the landscaping.  Was it left over from Halloween?  Was it being used as a hedge-trimming tool?  I have no idea.  Strange, but we went inside anyway, toured the upstairs and the main floor, noted the acceptable floorplan, etc., then headed down to the basement where there was a small neighborhood lizard writhing miserably in the middle of the floor.  In our very path through the basement, there was a lizard dying.  I think it actually died while we were down there.  So on a tour of this otherwise totally respectable home we a) found a butcher knife in the hedges and b) witnessed the death of a small reptile.  I don't need to be a voodoo practitioner to feel like maybe that is just not the house for us, right?  Plus, in such a respectable home, could I ever feel comfortable rocking out to classic outlaw country with my family while we cooked and I drank gin?  It just didn't have any grit to it at all.

The "Good Memories" House
This is a house we've had our eye on since we put our own on the market.  A young couple built it in 1940, raised their family in it, and lived in it until their own deaths, the most recent of which was five years ago.  It was well-maintained and has a sunny, cheerful feeling.  It's also got the worst 1970s wallpaper you've ever seen.  In every single room.  Crazy floral patterns in every room, all in shades of yellow and gold except the kitchen where there is (drum roll please) a wallpaper mural of a wharf scene.  Still, you know me, I like vintage things and I really love the floorplan of this house.  I can totally picture the happy hum of home life my family would have under this roof.  I also love the idea of taking up the banner of life in a house that grew old with one loving family.  So the problem (besides the damage to my fingernails that a full year of peeling off wallpaper would cause) is that the daughter who grew up in this home and now owns it is completely delusional about what the home is "worth."  She loved it, she grew up in it, she watched her parents take good care of it, and now she's asking a completely nutty amount of money for it.  So it has sat empty, lonely, cold and unkempt for three years while no one buys it.  Someone has cut the grass but not much else.  A shutter has come loose, and who knows what has happened to the pipes.  I guess we could make a low offer on the house, one that is more in keeping with what the actual real estate market says the home is worth, but we don't have much confidence she'd take it.  Then we'd have wasted precious time making an offer that has almost no hope of being accepted.  That would leave us in an even bigger hurry to find a house and kind of sad, too, because when you actually make an offer you can't help but to get a little emotionally involved.

Dilapidated Charm
Last but never least, there is a very beautiful home on a very lovely street.  We toured it at an open house last winter.  We were amazed at how pretty it could be, and our jaws dropped at the amount of work it needed.  The kitchen is horrifying, the basement leaks, the roof looks shoddy, the home needs new windows.  "What a labor of love," we thought, "for someone who doesn't mind living though all that work."  "What a beautiful and charming home for someone who can give it the love it needs."  And we walked back out.  But the house is on the route of our daily family walk, so each day for approximately eight months we've walked by it.  "That house needs someone to love it," we'd say.  Then, gradually, a funny thing happened.  We hardly wanted to say it out loud, but it became increasingly clear that maybe we were falling in love with it, just a little bit.  "We could rent the upstairs apartment," one of us would suggest, "to help with the cost of the renovations."  Or "I guess buying a house that needs a lot of work would mean that the people doing the work would get to choose how it turns out, which is much nicer than buying a nice house that is imprinted with someone else's taste."  And slowly we realized we were trying to talk ourselves into it, that we did love the house, and that it was at the top of our list of places to move.  Then, a few months ago, the real estate sign disappeared from the yard.  We were shocked and sad, like the house cheated on us somehow.  We asked around; it appeared the house had found a buyer.  "At least someone will give it the love it needs," we said, and told ourselves it was for the best.  Every day we took our walk, and every day we watched for there to be lights on in the house, or some sign that work had begun, but nothing happened.  Then, two weeks ago, right about the time we were deciding to take our home off the market the for sale sign went back up.  I swear I'm not superstitious, but just as much as knives and lizards make me feel uncomfortable with the respectable little stone house around the corner, there was a funny flow to the set of events that brought us from "should we take ours off?" to "oh look!  The sign is back up in the yard of that beautiful fixer-upper," to "OMG!  We've finally got an offer!"

So the knives and lizards house would be a smart buy, the dilapidated charmer would be stupid.  Who buys a house they know will be a money pit?  Shouldn't transactions like real estate be made with the head more than the heart?  So we'll take our final looks at our options tomorrow and then figure something out.  A home inspection might shed light on our charmer, and maybe a serious offer would sway our Happy Memories owner more than we think.  It might be a nice middle ground?  In the meantime, I'm off to pour myself another margarita.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

House house house house house house

The house that is soon to be someone else's!  She offered.  We counter-offered.  She accepted.  OMG!  There will be an inspection late this week, but I feel pretty confident it should go well since we know of no problems with our little home.  (Other than the size of it, if you are a family of four, which she's not.)  She's on board with a pre-Christmas move, but there is now the not-so-small detail of finding a home for us to move into.  We looked at a half dozen places today and I'm afraid they were underwhelming.  The boring cape cod, the house with the terrific sewing space but closet-like kitchen, the home that is lovely but in a bad location.  Hmm.  We have a few more to see yet, so we're hopeful.  This isn't really the best time to be looking for a new place, calendar-wise, but I'm sure something will turn up.  In the meantime I'm having a bit of trouble sleeping.  I can't even mentally plot out furniture layouts or curtain plans since I have no idea where we're moving!

Friday, November 12, 2010

We pass the time

I really don't like it when people say "this too shall pass."  By which I guess I mean people who aren't really going through horrifying circumstances--I guess if someone living in squalid conditions in a refugee camp said it, or someone suffering from cholera in Haiti, then I'd be on board.  But in general, the people I hear say this are American parents with relatively comfortable lives who are simply wishing their lives away.  I prefer to not wish my life away.  Life is already short (and we never know exactly how short it is, so it's probably best to assume it's shorter rather than longer), and I want to live it fully, not to pass the time wishing it were tomorrow.  So I'm trying to remember this while we wait for our housing situation to be resolved.  Today is just as much one of the precious days of my childrens' lives in my care as yesterday was, and it counts against my total just as much as any day next year, no matter what my address is.

In light of that, here is my beautiful daughter, a person I treasure, being beautiful.  She is reciting a book from memory ("reading" it) to her doll, who is (over)dressed just like Dorothy.  And while my daughter is being her beautiful self, and my son is learning to crawl, talk and wave bye-bye, we are also having housing "adventures."  The potential buyer made an offer.  We are countering, but our counter is not far off of her offer, so it seems likely that a sale will work out.  We have some non-monetary terms to agree on such as a closing date, etc, and there will be an inspection, but things seem to be moving in the right direction.  Wow!  So my husband and I will spend the weekend interviewing new homes for us, which is very exciting.  Where is the kitchen in which Dorothy and I will be baking bread in just a couple short months?  I'm curious, but I'm going to take a deep breath and remember to fully enjoy our last loaves here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carbs and a calendar

For various reasons that I cannot blog about yet, we have decided to take our house off the market next week. I don't mean to be secretive (can one be secretive and have a blog?), but there is a Major Life Change coming to my family that simply cannot yet be discussed in public, but it effects our plans to move.  (It is, for the record, absolutely NOT a new baby.  So please don't start rumors!)  After much pondering, heart-searching, bookkeeping, and discussion, we concluded that the house should either be sold or off the market by November 15, almost 11 months after the for-sale sign first went into our frozen yard last winter.  So I've been making plans for how to live in our current home better.  I've poured over the IKEA catalog, Craig's List, fabric swatches and organization web sites.  I've plotted out which furniture we will keep, which will go, what needs to be moved around in order to make this little house work more efficiently for our family.  We also agreed to have a last-ditch open house, so we at least felt like we fought the real estate fight to the bitter end.  And I'm afraid it was bitter--I had already buried the idea of moving, and I did not want to clean and vacate the house on Sunday.  I left our spotlessly clean house with a very grumpy attitude.  Then a very surprising thing happened.  Our Realtor called and said she expected an offer from someone who came to the open house.  What? 

We're trying not to get our hopes up, since the last time we thought an offer was pending things didn't work out so well.  Still, it's been three days and things seem to be progressing.  The potential buyer has been back, asked questions, reportedly gotten a mortgage pre-approval.  We'll see.  A written offer is still pending.  I'm trying very hard not to dissolve into an emotional mess, but it's tough.  Should I carry on with my plans to change our house?  Should I be scouring the real estate websites trying to find a house for us?  Should I quickly finish and wrap all my Christmas shopping in case a sudden move disrupts Santa's progress?  Eek!  So everything feels up in the air, my stomach is quavering, I jump when the phone rings, and I'm craving (and eating) carbs.  The picture above is the first of two "cream" sodas I drank yesterday (in a glass Dorothy decorated).  Fill a glass with ice, then 3/4 full of plain seltzer, then a dash of vanilla syrup (like the kind coffee shops sell), then top it off with whole milk or cream.  Yum.  Sugar.
And while the real estate mess has been stressful, this totally made my day!  Mama Shell, of Shell Shares Recipes, sent me an amazingly fabulous calendar.  It's twelve super-cool pages of illustrations of vintage campers and I love it!  My first thought was to put it in the camper, but then I wouldn't get to see it as often, so it's going in my own kitchen (wherever that may be?) so I can drool over how cute they all are every day.  Thank you Shell!
Crochet is perfect for fidgety, nervous fingers.  I've also found that I have three or four minutes each morning and afternoon to crochet while I'm waiting (parked) in the carpool line for Dorothy.  It doesn't seem like a lot of time, but it adds up.  I just keep a project ready to pick up in the passenger seat.  I'd purchased this fun shiny coat this fall but wasn't sure what kind of accessories to wear with something so...shiny.  I decided to go for contrast, so I ordered some really fuzzy alpaca blend yarn.  I like the fuzzy with the shiny, and the scarf and hat are warm and soft.  I didn't use a pattern, they are both just very simple.  I made the hat big enough that it will (hopefully) just sort of sit down on top of my hair without squashing my curls.  It's hard for curly girls to wear hats, but this really warm yet lightweight yarn should help.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My house is a mess and the newspaper pissed me off

The stomach virus is gone, but we're not fully operational around here.  Everyone is still tired and we've all just lost a little momentum.  The house is a mess and we have a real estate open house tomorrow--yikes.  The table I photographed happens to be covered with 4-year-old girl ephemera, but my own desk is just as overflowing, with mail, stamps and a stamp pad from an old paper project, a shirt that needs mending, and three different yarn projects in various stages of completion.  Somehow we will get all this cleaned up and the Halloween decorations put away by tomorrow midday.  (So this morning blogging takes the form of procrastination.)

I also just have to comment on this ugly article that met me at the breakfast table this morning.  I don't understand the so-called "mommy wars" at all.  It seems to me that some people take others' strong commitments to a parenting philosophy personally, and feel indicted if they don't share one, whereas the focus of most parenting philosophies is actually on children, not other mommies.  If a mother doesn't like a particular philosophy, perhaps she should just avoid using it, instead of suggesting that its existence is undermining decades of progress in women's liberation.  Jong seems to miss the point that if a woman disagrees with a philosophy (in this case, attachment parenting), then she is free to ignore it and move on.  It is only if she actually finds it compelling and thinks in her heart that she should be following it (or doing something differently) that it has any sway over her at all.  If she does not find a philosophy compelling, then the fact that other mothers practice it should not even be on her radar--parenting is a very personal quest, not a contest, and mothers do not have to register their commitment to any particular set of values anywhere.

I am grateful for a community that allows me to parent the way I feel is right.  Sometimes that is an accord with one particular parenting book or another, and sometimes it is not.  I know women who largely share my parenting views and work full-time at demanding jobs. I know others who stay home and share none of my philosophies.  I am glad that in this garbled world of feminism, post-feminism, and feminism-yet-to-come that I can stay home and tend my family's metaphorical fires without feeling like I have something to prove.  I stay home because that is what feels right to me.  I enjoy contributing to my family's economy in the kitchen, at my sewing machine, and out of my crochet bag.  I hold a masters degree from a prestigious university and if I felt like that piece of paper forced me out of the spot that makes me happy, then that would be enslavement.  To each her own.  I can't imagine any child would be better off staying home with a mother who felt stranded in the role.  Nor do I think women should work outside the home just because that's what they thought they would do when they were 22 and made expensive educational choices.  It's a big world--can't we make room for all the choices that are as varied and ever-changing as the individuals who make up our current generation of mothers?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More tricks than treats

Our Halloween was not exactly as pictured.  First Dorothy, then Worth, then me, then Rob fell to a nasty stomach virus over the course of two days.  Today we're all recuperating and working on the awful pile of laundry, but the last couple days weren't pretty.  Dorothy still got to trick-or-treat a little bit in our own neighborhood (that was before the adults got sick), but we missed our ritual of pizza and trick-or-treat with the cousins, who went as the Princess and the Pea.

I'm glad I took my kids' picture when the costumes arrived instead of waiting for Halloween.  They made adorable rats, even when sick.  I didn't make these costumes--they are Old Navy costumes that I bought off eBay.  I could never make costumes for the price I got these for, and the Old Navy costumes are nicely made, washable, easy to put on and take off, and reused.  What more could you want?
Dorothy got a new pair of ruby slippers last week and I couldn't resist a snapshot of the old with the new. She's worn these little ballet-style shoes from Target ever since she was old enough to wear hard-soled shoes, and they have become a signature fashion item for her.  To the yellow brick road, anyone?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall fun

Yesterday I finished crocheting a sweater I started last fall.  I was pregnant, and I was pretty sure the style of this cardigan would work hanging open over a baby bump.  The further I got on the sweater, though, the bigger my belly got, and I finally decided it was going to look stupid and I quit.  It was fun to pull it out this fall, though, a nearly-finished sweater, and just complete it and wear it.  I haven't blocked it yet, and I definitely think blocking will help the shape a bit, but I'm still really pleased with it. The wool is nice and warm, too, so even though today was chilly I felt comfortably warm out in the air but not overly bundled inside the car and house.  The pattern is available here, though I didn't follow it exactly.
Today I wore my new sweater on a lovely walk down Hillcrest Avenue in Louisville, a pretty street in any season, but particularly nice before Halloween.  The street has become known locally as a Halloween destination, with many of the homes decorating exuberantly.  We've taken walks down Hillcrest on sunny mornings before Halloween each year since Dorothy has been old enough to care, and it's become a fun tradition.  Some of the decorations could be gruesome (especially for my small ones) by night but are funny and interesting by day.
This caterpillar drawing came home from school with Dorothy recently.  Her class focused on caterpillars and butterflies for a while, which included artistic representations of both.  This cheery caterpillar drawing of hers has totally stolen my heart.  I want to do something special with it but can't decide what.  Maybe have it put on a Sigg bottle?  Or a t-shirt for her cousin for Christmas?  Or a mouse pad for myself?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Weekend pictures

Another fun, busy weekend!  I finished this hat before we left for an overnight camping trip, to take to a 5-year-old birthday party when we returned.  The new owner seems to like it.  Dorothy approved of the "gem" beads in the center of the flowers.
We took the camper to Lake Monroe in Bloomington.  I went to college at IU, so it was fun to be back in that area.  We drove to campus in the late afternoon just to see how things had changed and vowed to go back next summer to visit some of my favorite old haunts.  Our campsite was, once again, not very woodsy.  Next fall we will know that we have to make reservations early (or commit to 2-night stays) if we want to camp in a natural setting during October.  The place we went was more of an RV park for Indianapolis fishermen or weekenders who are interested in an RV intentional neighborhood scene, not so much a woodsy campground one.  We had no idea going in, but it was also the weekend of this site's annual Halloween festivities, including a campsite decorating contest and trick-or-treating.  We hadn't planned on this, so during our excursion to campus we stopped by a grocery store to purchase candy and a makeshift costume for Dorothy--a $2.99 tiara and wand set.  It ended up being a fun surprise.  The other families were very nice, and the whole evening ended up being very enjoyable even though it wasn't what we pictured.  Since groups were walking around from site to site, many people also made a point to go over and peek in our cute camper, which was once again very unique among much larger and newer (and neutral-colored) campers.  My favorite comment was from one person who asked if it was really retro, or had we purchased it new to look like that.  :)

Now for my pictures.  Above, Dorothy is broom-sweeping our camper as we get things set up.  She fancies she is like Laura Ingalls doing her chores.
Even though our site itself was not woodsy, the campground was right next to the woods surrounding Lake Monroe.  We took a gorgeous hike through the pretty foliage and down to the lake.  (Can you spot the baby?)
Dorothy pretended to be a lake mermaid.  I got this photo of her pretending to jump back to her watery home, but unfortunately did not capture the hysterically cute affected mermaidesque hair-tossing of a moment before.
We cooked chicken sausages on the fire, and enjoyed our favorite fall acorn squash soup, which I'd prepared at home and warmed in the camper microwave.
The almost-full moon was a perfect backdrop to the campsite trick-or-treating. 

Friday, October 22, 2010


Some people are afflicted with a lack of self-confidence.  Others of us are afflicted with a little too much confidence.  Like people who say, "even though I have never been a 2-dimensional artist, was not chosen to help paint the school's windows in the third grade, and would never even consider painting anything on paper or a canvas to be displayed in public or private, I'll borrow my 4-year-old's paintbrushes and use oil-based permanent paint to decorate my camper with handkerchief paisleys."  And so I did.  One man almost ran his pickup into the fence while driving through the alley, and neighbors I have never met walked dogs (were they even their dogs?) over my way to see what the [heck] I was doing to the little red camper in my back driveway.  It looks...(long pause)...better from a distance than close up.  But no one, ever, nowhere, will have a camper that looks just like mine.  One side down, three to go!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Another busy week around here.  Lots of fall fun, including a trip to the pumpkin patch.  We've had several house-showings, which is driving us a little crazy at this point.  I think we've given up hope of actually selling, and just wish people would leave us alone.  Why do we keep giving free tours of our home to people who will just say things like "oh, it's so cute!  We just love it!  But we needed an extra bathroom."  Or first-floor bedroom, or extra square footage, or garage...it's always something that we clearly didn't have based on the information in our listing, but for some reason people want to come see it (and not buy it) anyway.
This photo was an accident--he looked away as I was taking it, but isn't his hat adorable next to the real pumpkins?  I made that for him last year.  I'd just made a similar one for Dorothy and she insisted the new baby would need one too.  Obviously she was right.  Speaking of her being right, today she was putting on her ruby slippers and talking to my mother-in-law.  She said, "when I wear these shoes, people always say, 'are you Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz?' But I'm like, 'ummmm, no, I'm Dorothy from the city.'" 

When did she become such a teenager?  She also seems to have a particular interest in a boy from school, in a way that seems to indicate to me that she's got a budding awareness of "special" boy/girl relationships.  She always tells me what he's up to, talks about him often, and last night after church choir (which they also both participate in) she said, "C. sat next to me at choir, then I patted his back, and he went [ insert giggle silly face with tongue sticking out and full body wiggle].  Then after choir I gave him three different hugs."  Oh my!
Today we made cookies, without boys.  (Except Worth, I guess, who was kept happy with pea crisps while we baked.)  The last few years I have tried several different recipes for pumpkin cookies, but to be frank they all sort of suck.  I mean, the are edible, they made from butter and sugar after all.  But they aren't good like pumpkin-bread-in-cookie-form or anything.  Today I thought I'd try a different route and make a recipe for applesauce cookies, but sub in pumpkin.  I also added pumpkin pie spice, and substituted chocolate chips for the recommended raisins.  They taste good but are too chewy, and the bottoms basically scraped right off when I severed them from the cookie sheet they were stuck to.  Parchment might have helped with the release, but not the texture.  I think it must be hard to develop a pumpkin cookie recipe because of all the moisture in cooked pumpkin.  If anyone has one, please let me know!

In between house-showings and pumpkin patches this week I did something that makes me feel really smug and obnoxious--I ordered my Christmas cards!  I know it's early, but it was this gorgeous afternoon, the kids were playing out front, and from the basement I'd just unearthed the holiday dress I'd purchased on clearance last year for Dorothy.  It has a matching dress for her doll, which is always extra special.  Dorothy saw it and had herself and her dolly dressed in no time, so I popped the baby into this little fleece Santa suit left from Dorothy's babyhood, and clicked away.  I got adorable photos of both kids in their holiday get-ups, so I figured I might as well finish the task while I was on it and selected a pretty photo card online.  Now bring it on, season-accelerating commercial world, I'm ready for you!  Before you even change your displays from spooky to Santa, my holiday cards are done.  Pow!

I am a dork, but you are reading my blog--please love me anyway.  :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A busy week

When we arrived home after our camping adventures last weekend we noticed the refrigerator was making an odd noise, sort of like a zombie.  Being the (apparently) stupid and ineffectual people we are, we just noted the noise and moved on, not stopping to check on details like are all the frozen foods thawing?  And unfortunately they were, but we didn't realize it until it was too late and much of the frozen stuff had to be thrown out or cooked.  So we bought a new refrigerator (with some odd combination of an Energy Star rebate, appliance disposal fees and a Columbus Day sale making it more cost-effective than buying used), and we've also once again lowered the priced on our house.  Perhaps someday so the new buyers, wherever they are now, will use the new 'frige for something beautiful like leftover wedding cake or champagne to toast something wonderful and we will stop banging our heads against the wall over our housing situation.  A girl can dream, right?  In the meantime we're eating meals of baked chicken with a side of fried fish, since both fish and fowl were saved from the freezer, and being glad it's not worse.
Then on Wednesday, the very busiest and most hectic day of the week, as I was recovering from the new refrigerator blues but beginning to suffer a sore throat, Dorothy informed me at approximately the halfway point on our drive home from preschool that IT WAS THE DAY, the very special and most important day, that she got to take the traveling classroom gingerbread person home, and that she had accidentally left [him? her?] at school.  I considered making the gingerbread person wait until we were already back at the very same building for choir practice later that night, but instead I rallied my inner good mother and turned the car back around.  "Gingy" was fetched, along with [his? her?] tote bag, and brought on home with us.  Gingy listened to our daily chapter from the Little House on the Prairie book, then settled down with Dorothy for a nap.  A couple hours later it was time almost time to leave for ballet lessons and I realized I should look in Gingy's journal to see just what was expected of us with regard to this plush traveling pastry.  About a half dozen of Dorothy's peers had already brought Gingy home (Gingy visitation being determined by drawing names), and those students' caring and creative mothers had written long and lovely essays about Gingy's stays with their families.  Things like "in honor of Gingy, we made gingerbread cake!" and long tales of Gingy-inspired adventures.  Those bitches, I thought.  Never mind that enthusiastic parent involvement is actually one of the things I treasure about our preschool.  All the mommies who get Gingy after us will love me, though, because I took things in the journal down a notch or two out of necessity.  We sent Gingy back today with just a few brief sentences about our busy day and one potentially embarrassing (given Gingy's uncertain gender) home-printed photograph of Gingy wearing a pink tutu.
Returning to my regular blogging business, these Lego cufflinks were a Christmas gift to Rob last year.  They are Legos from his own childhood, and I glued them to cufflink platforms I purchased from a jewelry supply store online. He loves wearing unusual cufflinks, and there aren't very many opportunities to make gifts for him. I snapped a picture of them when he was on his way out the door this morning.
And who can stay mad about houses and refrigerators with this juicy baby around to squeeze on?   He's wearing a t-shirt I did before he was born, an inkjet-printed lobster applique on a plain white tee.  He's turning into some adorable little butt-scooting backwards-crawling cherub-demon, and I'm afraid I'm having to babyproof this house already, even though I'd hoped to just do that in the next house!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We went camping!

After several weeks of work we finally took our 1978 Fleetwing on the road.  We didn't go far--just over 30 miles down the road to the closest state park we could get reservations at on a few days notice.  It turned out not to even be in the woods, but on a golf course behind a state attraction less than a mile from the little downtown area.  Not exactly the hiking venue we'd had in mind, but this was, after all, just meant as a trial for our camping set up.  We had a little trouble backing in to our spot, being towing neophytes, but our camp neighbors helped guide us in and we quickly set up. Dorothy "decorated" the hitch with acorns upon arrival.
Then she decorated our table bench with fall leaves.
I got things together in the little camper kitchen.
This picture shows scale.  Our camper was by far the smallest one there, no contest, and the only one that wasn't white or offwhite.  (If you click on the photo it will enlarge and you can see it better.)  It was a real conversation starter.  "Oh, you all are the ones in the little red camper!"  That's us, all right.
We walked around the campground in lieu of hiking.  Dorothy collected nature finds in the treasure box we brought along for that purpose.
There was an old school playground with a steep metal slide (wheee!) and these creepy clown swings.
Dorothy and I broke out the camper craft supplies and made some acorn people after our dinner.
Everyone got tucked in; Dorothy up, the rest of us down.  I was surprised that Dorothy actually slept the night through up there in the bunk.  We had a great time.  We've tent camped with Dorothy on several occasions, but she doesn't remember any of them.  She was curious about the fire ("how will we unlit it when we're done?"), was confused that all the wood had disappeared this morning ("did the fire melt it?"), roasted her own chicken sausage and marshmallow, and insisted that we take showers in the campground facilities this morning.  Traveling with a four-year-old is such a great reminder to savor every experience!  We had a great time.  We brought some things we didn't need, and failed to bring a few things that would have been nice to have.  Now that we're a little wiser we're excited to try it again soon.