Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Making Cookies

Kate: Wren, please don't do that again!
Wren: What, Mama?
Kate: Please don't lick the balls of cookie dough before you put them on the cookie sheet
Wren: But I'm cleaning them! They need to be cleaned off!

Just FYI, in case someone offers you cookies at our house. Be warned.

Monday, November 24, 2008


In between homework (which I really should be doing) and packing for the trip, and all sorts of other things significantly more important, I have been trying to squeeze in some Christmas and birthday crafting. If you expect to be on my Christmas list, you should probably either look away, or practice a surprised face for Christmas morning.

The project I am most proud of I actually forgot to take a picture of, because I finished it about 30 seconds before we were out the door to the birthday party of the recipient. Finally, a zipper pouch. I know- not very exciting. But I have lived for years in zipper terror, and the awesome zipper foot on my sewing machine, along with this wonderful tutorial, finally convinced me to give it a try, and it was GREAT. I want to put zippers on everything now. If we had ANY money I would be buying zippers. Chase, when I was saying things like this yesterday, looked at me completely bewildered, "Um, hon...when you were sewing it sounded like you HATED it and you were miserable and it was the worst thing that had ever happened to you...?" Yeah well then I figured it out. So let's just embrace the zipper love.

Next up on the list is this embroidery:

It's going to be the outside of a little rice bag, sort of like this one for my grandmother's birthday. She's in town this week, so I'm hurrying to finish before we go to MS.

These are great because (minus embroidery) they are really fast, and actually useful. You can put it in the microwave (if you use natural fabrics) for a minute, and have a hot pad, or in the freezer, obviously, for a cold pillow. I love them, and someday, I will make one to KEEP.

Next up, leggings for Wren.

She has been so patient waiting for these. She picked the yarn out weeks ago, and has to watch Jane in her stripey leggings all the time. Oh the misery. So I am trying to get these done but ARGH, the finicky little color changes, the tiny needles, I do not love them. Maybe a stocking stuffer? I think these needles are the only ones tiny enough for carry-on, so maybe I can take them on the trip next month. Poor Wren, so neglected. No stripey leggings anytime soon.

And then the truly fast:

These are little felt CD cases for the annual family mix CD, otherwise known as 'we're too poor to buy you a present Merry Christmas!!!'

And last (and also sort of least) this quilt:

which I need to finish binding and quilting. The baby recipient isn't due until Spring, so this one is on the bottom of the list. Obviously any lingering shred of perfectionism has been beaten completely into submission with that one. If I do actually finish it. I may not be able to handle that puckering and have to start over. Ugh.

I have other things that don't qualify as Works in Progress because I am actually, insanely, finished with them. Thank goodness for This American Life, which really powers me through garter stitch knitting, the most boring of all hand crafts. Not to give too much away, folks, but this is going to be a very arm-warmey Christmas. So if you were hesitating over whether or not to buy all those 3/4 length shirts because your wrists might get cold- GO AHEAD. BUY THEM ALL. I'm just here to help.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


What we're talking about:

- Whether we feel sick because dinner was too greasy, or because we've finally gotten the stomach flu from Chase's parents...

- Why Totoro lives in a big "camper" tree

- How to not twist stitches on double pointed needles. I'm going to go with "I meant for it to all kind of go sideways like that. It's hypnotic."

- Who picked up Ramona's poop the last time

- How cute Wren is when she sings the songs (with dance moves) from her little Thanksgiving play at school. "Here is my Arrow/Here is my bow, When I go hunting, here me shout/ Hey! You Turkeys! You better watch out!) And then she goes "nom nom nom," to indicate that she is eating a delicious turkey. I think this is her unique contribution, and not something the other kids will be doing. (Please, parent-brain, remember to put batteries in the flip before the school play.)

- If we should try to re-do the kitchen countertops this weekend, or wait until after Christmas

- If I've done my homework yet (NO GET OFF MY BACK GEEEEEEEEEEEZ!!!!!!!!!!)

- If the kids need a bath tonight (YES. Yes they do.)

- How all the arrangements in the Methodist hymnal are geared for singing, not playing on a Rhodes. Also how I might not make it through winter if I hear "In the Bleak Midwinter" a few more times.

- If the washing machine is breaking (possibly), and what we will do if it breaks (become nudists).

- How cute L is! AH! I want to smoosh her! and chew on her feet! (not in a threatening way. Babies like that, right?).

- What we're making for dinner for Chase's parents. (probably carrot/sweet potato soup)

- How awesome this weather is! SO AWESOME! What should we do outside today!?! hike? bike? Oh fine let's fold laundry on the couch while we watch My Neighbor Totoro. AGAIN.

MNT turns out not to be the best "babysitting TV" because Wren loves it so much, and is soooooo excited by everything that happens that she HAS TO SHARE it with you. She runs into the kitchen with updates every 4 or 5 seconds- "There's a little one, and a bigger one, and a HUGE one!" And of course someone has to be on hand for skipping the penultimate chapter in the movie, the only moments of real tension, which Wren DOES NOT WANT. She also needs someone to skip the part where Totoro sneezes. I completely understand that feeling, of wanting your friend to watch and enjoy your favorite movie. I told her she would get to show it to her cousins over Thanksgiving and that is all she is talking about now. How they will all watch it together and then they will sleep in a big bed! together! with her cousins! AHHH!!!!

The pigtails, of course, are also a result of MNT mania. Mei wears pigtails in the movie and so Wren asks for them everyday now. Her teachers are probably used to the 3-4 year old despotic personal grooming/outfitting extremes. Wren has been pretty true to her overall laid back disposition in this way, but sometimes she puts her foot down, and it's not really important enough to me to fight about. So sure you can wear rainbow tights and pigtails every day this month, what do I care?

I hope everyone elses' lives are consumed with such non-essential, boring, and relatively non-stressful questions. Hurray for a drama-less month!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fall Table

We are approaching the end of the semester and I am increasingly overwhelmed by homework. Attempting to study at home with the girls leads to frustration, disappointment, and a very sharp tone of voice when answering questions.

I know it's a cliche about three year olds, but YES, THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. I hear eleventy bajillion stupid questions a day. Not so much stupid even, as just completely unanswerable. No "why is the sky blue?" types. These are just random jumbles of words- grammatically, physically, existentially unanswerable. In fact, I think these might be the kind of questions godparents were invented for. I was thinking Jamie would come in useful during Wren's "hair band rebellion and/or ethics theology rebellion" phase(s), and Kelly obviously will be the pinch-hitter for all calligraphy/90s pop culture/U.S. Presidential history type emergencies. But I realize I have been neglecting a valuable delegating opportunity in my parenting, and the next time Wren asks something like:

"Why is the chair high enough?" or
"Why are cars high up when they're sick?" or
"Are we on a roller coaster?"

just for instance.

We will be popping that little nugget into an envelope bound for the UK or Houston. THANKS GUYS!

Don't worry David and Meredith. Your day will come. I am sure Jane is thinking up some doozies right now, as she is at this moment cramming a stuffed dog, wrapped in Chase's shirt, into a tiny metal case, to drag behind her, while doing what sounds like Lamaze breathing. She is a strange and delightful little person, whose favorite things right now are:

eating, preferably bananas, but also pretty much anything else
playing with whatever her sister is playing with
wrapping up her "babies" in "blankets" and rocking and humming to them
petting the dog
being OUTSIDE and running around
drinking water constantly
and snuggling. She is really the snuggliest baby girl. Her snuggling is not any easier on the recipient now than it was when I wrote about it a few months ago. Still face-crushingly intense.

We will be leaving in a week or so for our Thanksgiving trip to Mississippi, and after that Christmas comes SO FAST. I am behind on Christmas present crafting, but I can't even think about it until I finish my homework. This blog is a procrastination sinkhole, but sometimes you just have to think about something other than Turabian bibliographies, you know? But I should get back to it. Or at least make some more coffee, which is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pumpkin Hat (better late than never)

I actually did finish this pumpkin hat before Halloween, in enough time for Wren to wear it to school for orange day (alternately titled 'the day vengeful spirits rise from their unrestful graves and flow through the world, seeking souls to devour' TM). Anyway, ORANGE DAY went really well, and Wren was -okay- with wearing her pumpkin hat although not thrilled.

Since then it's been pretty impossible to talk her into it. I don't know why she doesn't like it, the yarn is not itchy, it's cute, and she seems really into pumpkins in most other circumstances. I've even tried reverse psychology, and the dreaded sibling strategy ("well if you don't like it maybe JANE will want to wear it how do you like that huh? HUH?") It's pretty transparent though, since Jane is guaranteed to immediately rip anything from her head, including hair if it gets in the way of dislodging foreign objects like clips, headbands or pumpkin hats. And I was actually really careful about sizing this for Wren- I ripped back many previous attempts that were slightly too big or small, so really it fits no one else. BUMMER.

She was paid for this (admittedly crappy) photo shoot in rationed Halloween candy. In spite of careful rationing (HA), we're down to the 'Mounds' folks. Luckily Wren is too deprived to know that 'Mounds' are the crappy candy, and is thrilled with pretty much anything that will melt enough for her to lick chocolate off her fingers. Unfortunately, I'm not willing to bribe her in candy for hat-wearing in general, so this was a one time deal. If you know a three/four year old in need of a pumpkin hat, I'd be interested in talking about a trade. I will trade you for:

- the next season of BSG
- pay my library fines (the amount will not be disclosed until agreement)
- babysitting
- Titos vodka (we're out)
- someone to 'break' into my house and steal all the musical instruments and toys that make noise. Make it look good and I will keep you in vegetable/fruit themed hats for a lifetime.

Laguna Gloria

The fountain by the front entrance. Ever exuberant Jane tried to jump in but I grabbed her in time.

HUG! This in one of their favorite games- full force hug, which usually ends up with everyone on the ground and occasionally ends in bruises and tears. STOP HUGGING YOUR SISTER SO HARD! Ah, passive aggressive sibling love. I remember it well.

Happy Jane on the trail. When she wasn't trying to fall into the lake or the fountain, she was going full speed in whatever direction you turned her in. She is a delight completely, but also just a tiny tiny bit exhausting sometimes.

My favorite people, and Ramona of course. She is in the metaphorical dog house this week (we left the real dog house in LA) for something that wasn't entirely her fault. The open bag of birdseed spilled into the pet food bin, and SURPRISE, birdseed is apparently a powerful dog laxative. If this had been the first pre-6:00 AM dog shit cleanup in the last month or so, I might not be holding such a grudge. Sadly however, this was not the first time we opened the bedroom door to a wall of retch inducing stench. WTF Ramona? WHINE! WE WILL LET YOU OUT!

Anyway, good pictures, huh?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall is the Best

As I type this I'm listening to a squirrel in the tree next to me take a nut apart. I love fall so much- the sky is perfect blue, the weather is incredible, there's a breeze and crunchy leaves and knowing it's so brief makes it more enjoyable for my melancholy-loving temperament. I spend at least 10 minutes a day trying to convince Chase to play hooky- no luck so far, although we have been going on walks every evening through our dark neighborhood. Smelling fires in people's fireplaces and telling Wren to slow down and stay close for the zillionth time, and also for the zillionth time having my arm nearly pulled from my body when Ramona stops abruptly to sniff JUST THIS precise blade of grass I WILL NOT MOVE until I am finished you worthless human. Such a sweet, biddable dog, who does not hate us at all.

I am indulging myself in my annual fall reading (and biannual homework ignoring) with all my favorite old books. So far I've mostly just been dipping toes in- a few chapters of Sense and Sensibility, -one- of the Narnia books, but also all of the The Blue Sword (one of my very favorite YA books, and the first fantasy book I ever read, if you don't count The Once and Future King (which I don't)). And I Capture the Castle is perfect for the fall. I will probably allow myself one each from my favorite mystery writers, and I'm halfway through the new-ish William Gibson which I like but not nearly as much as Pattern Recognition. I read Ender's Game when I was in labor with Jane so that is probably off the list for the foreseeable future, and not really fall reading anyway, and I'm only reading S&S because of the self-imposed decade long break before I can read the rest of the Austen cannon, except probably Emma which I never liked that much anyway. Everyone is so smug. Does anyone have good fall reading recommendations?

I've also been reading some knitting patterns- knitting is an entirely seasonal craft in Texas. And today Soulemama put this one up and AH! Must Make That! Have you seen Jane's chunky little legs lately? They must be covered in stripey leg warmers immediately!

Wren is saying the craziest wackiest things lately- I find little scraps of paper around the house where I've scribbled some insane and hilarious thing she said, but I never put them together, or do anything with them. I should be blogging them here so we won't forget but now of course I can only remember one, from yesterday:

"Jane thinks Rock Obama is a kind of music to dance to."

Okay, hon. And also, of course, everything continues to be Dave's fault.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What a Night

Courtesy of Dave

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Weekend in (bad) Pictures

It's blurry, but princesses around here tend to dance -really- fast. Up to the last minute she was going to be Belle, not Snow White, but the Belle dress disappeared and so she was very grown up and decided to have a good time anyway. Excellent avoidance of the "hurting your own feelings" syndrome. I'm also proud of myself for only being a tiny bit bummed that I didn't have time to make Snow White a cape. The Disney princess with the best accessory! No cape! But Wren didn't even know what she was missing.

Why husbands leaving on weekend trips should put their (newly oiled) bikes OUTSIDE. I left Chase a few choice handprints throughout the house. Nothing really demonstrates the superiority of high gloss over eggshell like Jane fingerpainting with bike grease.

Pumpkin Jane was slightly cuter than bike grease Jane. Sadly she only got candy corn, and Wren got the good stuff. She loved trick-or-treating with her cousins- and roving hoards of kids. People rented smoke machines and stuff for their yards. This seems insane to me. Little kids are largely unimpressed by atmospheric moodiness.

If Chase had to go out of town, the weekend after Halloween was not a bad choice. I got first pick of the candy. However, so far our house has been like whatever county that is in Indiana as far as NOT RECOGNIZING THE TIME CHANGE. I don't know if Chase would agree that he's better than me at parenting early in the morning, but he would probably agree that I am a much much nicer person when I get 8 hours of sleep. Preferably 10 and I've been known to take 12 when I can get it.

And lastly, my first attempt at making a pre-fold cloth diaper into a fitted diaper, with velcro tabs. It turned out okay, and fits Jane just fine, but overall the verdict for work/time vs. payoff is kind of meh. I know it would go faster a second time, so I may try it again, if we end up using this diaper a lot. It's easier to have more fitteds, in case, God willing, we ever have a babysitter again, because people tend to have some trouble understanding the snappi. And the Kissaluvs we have are fine but waaaay too expensive for us to buy any more of. I guess you could use this same pattern with some PUL and make an all-in-one, but I've never been convinced those were that awesome. Anyone use them? Are they worth it?

I wanted to use this project to try out the serging stitch on my new machine but I was not crazy about it. Other than taking FOREVER and using up tons of thread, it also looked super crappy and messy. I'm sure I'm just doing it wrong, but since naptime was about to be over at that point, I switched to blanket stitch to finish it. I hope it holds up in the wash.