a girl, a guy, a tomato, a bean, and a bear

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Virtually connecting

One of the blogs I frequent is Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and I just had to share the latest post, an interview with Kristin van Ogtrop, the editor of Martha Stewart's Real Simple.

I totally identify with so much of what van Ogtrop says, it's kind of uncanny. From "obsessing over stupid, control-freak things" to Starbucks coffee and not being a night person--that's all me. I could go on and on about the Happiness Project and the specifics of how I've really enjoyed perusing all of what Rubin has to share--I've been meaning to for a while now--but instead, I just wanted to focus on how amazed I am at the internet and the opportunities it's created for me to "connect" with like minded people.

I'm slightly hesitant of all of this, because of the "it's not real" factor, except for the fact that I feel in many ways, it's more real than what I experience in my day to day interactions with "real live" people. The people I have encountered on the internet, via my online class, through blogs, through commentors from Illustration Friday or flickr--they have opened themselves and shared part of who they are in a very real and generous and beautiful way. This, I think, has been especially meaningful to me, isolated in a foreign country, surrounded by people--many of whom I'm not so fond of--that, for the most part, do not share in my interests, and living for the past year with an infant and dog (although very intelligent ones, on both counts). The chance to reach out and connect with people online has been really, really great.

So thank you, to all of you who come here to share in this with me. Thank you for reaching out, for commenting, for inspiring me and encouraging me. It really means a lot. :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Domestically challenged


My poor, poor sweater. What a fool I am. Of course, the tag does say 'hang dry', but what do tags know? The zipper caught the shoulder seam and mangled my poor sweater to death. I really loved this sweater too...I went back to check if American Eagle was still selling them, but alas, no.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Granny Progress Report

It's been a long time since I first posted about my granny square afghan ambition. I have made a good bit of progress as you can see:

Making progress...

Making progress...

I have to say, though, I'm slightly bummed...I came across a posting today on a blog called Smosch and as you can see, her afghan much more closely resembles the one that first started me down this path...

This was the one I first saw:

The good news is, I never feel as though a project is wasted. It's not that I don't like mine so far, it's just not as close to the pattern as I'd hoped. I struggled trying to figure out how the scallops around the edges were made, experimenting with shells and other stitches until I settled on what I have now. Still, I've gotten a lot of practice with this one, and I can make another attempt when I'm finished. I saw some progress photos from Smosch that I think will give me a better chance at achieving a closer pattern:

I can see now that hers are really three rows of color in a circle and then the cream edging is what completes the square. I think the slight rippled effect comes naturally from the shells...we'll see if I'm able to get it closer next time.

I keep you posted on how my first attempt turns out and maybe post the pattern that I made up if any one is interested.

Oh, and Evie is fascinated by the little squares for sure. This video is pretty much the same thing for 2 minutes, so if you get the jist you can call it quits early. Personally, I could just watch her grunt at them all day. It's like she has some sort of secret sorting process going on there, or that she's looking for a particular one or testing for defects or something...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Puli Conversations

Chokydar: Hey. Evie's asleep. Did you know that?
Me: Yep.
C: Are you sure she's asleep though?
Me: What do you mean?
C: I don't know...she's awfully quiet and still...
Me: Chokday, that's what you look like when you're asleep. She's fine.

[she shakes her collar loudly *JINGLEJINGLEJINGLE*...Evie stirs]

Me: What did you do that for??
C: Just checking!

[she lies down]


C: YAWN!!!!!!!!!!
Me: You're being loud again.
C: Sorry. [SNEEZE!!!!...Evie stirs again, grunting a little]
Me: *sigh*


C: No, but really...are you sure she's okay? She's been 'sleeping' for a while now.
Me: YES, Chokydar, she's FINE!
C: Okay.... [she stretches, moving first to the hard wood floor where she reaches out and clicks her nails loudly as she stretches]
C: What?? [with mock innocence]


[Choky starts walking toward the swing, slowly, looking over her shoulder at me as she goes]
C: That wasn't what I was going to do...[she turns around]


C: [looking desperate, feverish]..............WOOF!
Me: [turning clowly to stare at her angrily with a cocked head]
Evie: [eyes wide] *gasp*
Chokydar: Ah! Okay, you're right. She was just asleep.
[she turns and promptly throws herself sideways on the floor, closing her eyes as I go to pick up Evelyn]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Next time I'll just use perfume...

So, funny story; true story--

Whew, I thought to myself, as a plopped down in my chair.

We'd just gotten back from the day's errands--checking the mail and going to the Arts and Crafts Center. It was a beautiful day out today; the sun is (mostly) shining and the temperature slightly on the cool side of perfect. As we were driving to the crafts center I couldn't help but be overcome with joy. The first of many 'welcome home' signs have begun to pop up outside the post gates and the reality of it all filled me with glee. The breeze carried blossoms from nearby trees across our path, swirling in the wind in their own sort of celebratory dance.

Evie did really well at the store, even though it took me a few minutes to get everything necessary for my newest project. We headed back by way of the mailroom where I found a new pair of shoes waiting for me. Huzzah!

Evelyn had been yawning in the car and rubbing her eyes--we all know what that means, and as we came inside I found myself holding my breath to see if she would be agreeable to taking a nap in the swing. Lately she's been hurling anything I give her (intended to distract and calm her) off the edge in disgust. As I lowered her into the swing, her hand shot out and she grabbed onto the upper part of the swing arm. Both of my hands were full holding her and we both laughed hysterically as I tried to shake her loose so she could be lowered the rest of the way. The girl's got a grip.

She settled reasonably well, and so I headed for the kitchen to grab a snack. I pulled out one of those bottled frappuccinos you can buy from the grocery store and shook it up vigorously, then popped the lid and set it on my desk. Oops! I'd forgotten to shut the living room door. If it stays open, Chokydar will bark at noises from the street and destroy any chance of a nap.

Whew, I thought to myself, as a plopped down in my chair. I reached out for my drink and gave it another hardy shake for good measure...

Yeah, did you catch that part where I'd already opened the bottle??? I had just set the open cap back on top of the bottle, booby trapping myself who couldn't remember a mere 15 seconds later that I'd already opened it. I stood for maybe 10 seconds, covered from head to foot in vanilla frappuccino, dripping on the carpet in total shock.

I cleaned everything up as best I could--nothing got really damaged and I got a good laugh.

I know later I'm going to wonder why Chokydar is obsessively licking that section of the carpet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why am I still awake?

Usually when Evie has a rough week (which happens every month and a half or so) somewhere along the way, bleary-eyed and exhausted I am struck with a panic-tinged thought: What if this doesn't go away?!? What if she decides to keep this up??? So far, this fear has been unwarranted. Mercifully, if I'm patient and listen to her cues she settles back into her regular routine. I am supremely grateful for this, because handling handling her on my own if "bad week" mode was the norm would be not a lot of fun.

This past week she hasn't been napping much during the day and has woken during the night (I thought we were past that, Evie!!). Of course the timing coincided with my super-hooah motivated plan to wake BEFORE she wakes to work out and exercise. I had only managed this maybe once or twice before Bad Week hit, and thus haven't managed again--until this morning.

I can't tell you what a huge difference it makes for my outlook on the day when I start it off right. Even if the rest of the day is kinda bumpy (as was today), I'm able to take it in stride because AT LEAST I got in my workout. I feel more energized and productive first thing, and it spills over into everything else for the day. On the other hand, if I start off poorly--groggy, waking to a cranky Evie who won't go back to bed, we spend half of the morning in pjs, dragging ourselves around doing the routines: eating, playing, and pleading for sleep so that I can go take a nap as well. On those days, the first opportunity I have for myself isn't spent doing homework or working out or cleaning or taking care of online business--it's going back to sleep, which means I'll wake again when she does, usually still feeling exhausted, only then feeling guilty and unproductive on top of that.

It's a paradox that when I'm tired, usually the answer isn't going back to sleep, but pushing a little harder. Very often my lethargy comes from being lethargic. (This isn't always the case--sometimes I REALLY do just need a nap.) I've been enjoying a photography book, A Year of Mornings: 3191 Miles Apart and came across this passage in the introduction by one of the author/photographers, Stephanie Congdon Barnes:

What I love about mornings is the sense of possibility. I often lay in bed
at night, the weight of what's been left undone on top of me like a lead
blanket, but I awaken to find that I've thrown that blanket aside. The night has
erased my failures, my inadequacies, my mistakes. Today will be the day. My
mornings are not idyllic. As a mother (my daughter and son were seven and five
at the time of this project), my actions are dictated by the needs of others as
soon as I awake. There are breakfasts to be made, lunches to be packed, lost
shoes to be found, tangles to be tamed, schedules to be coordinated with my
husband. But still, in all these actions, these endless repetetive preparations
(of which I am quite ofen resentful), there is that sense of possibility. We all
have morning rituals that give us the comfort of familiarity even if our days
are unknowns. My son spilling his milk in the same spot every day is both
aggravation and inspiration. That spot says here we are again; we're going to
try to have a good day.

That passage just really spoke to me when I first read it and has been a friendly little encouraging voice, urging me to try and start each day right. I feel the exact same way about mornings and night and the contrasting sense of a morning's endless possibility vs. the evening's burden of things left undone. Lately I've been staying up way too late (like now) because it is so often the only time I have for myself for uninterrupted pursuits. It's so hard to cut that short and go to bed, but I know that I'm just making it more difficult on myself tomorrow.

Okay, really...off to bed with me.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

At least we know Chokydar is getting her daily dose of Iron




I've had these shots in my cue to get posted for some time now. I am really pleased with how they turned out, although the calm serenity that they project isn't exactly representative of mealtimes. I should be clear, Evelyn really is a surprisingly polite baby, but she's just been the source of projectiles during meals lately. Whether it's from her mouth or a instead a barrage of flying Cheerios launched from the counter, she is having fun experimenting with her food. Chokydar is thrilled. I'm going to need to develop a new strategy for laying out the Cheerios because Evelyn has caught on that Choky likes them, and when I make a little pile on the counter, Evie now sweeps them cleanly onto the floor and proceeds to watch with glee as Chokydar consumes them.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Go baby, Go!

Friday, April 17, 2009


It's been a bit of a tiring week. Evelyn has been sketchy on her naps this week, and even when she will finally drift off (out of sheer exhaustion) it's not without much vocalization letting me know she's not pleased with the arrangement. In addition to fighting her to take some naps, I haven't been getting that much sleep myself either, which just leaves us both short tempered.

Did anyone notice how I didn't follow up with you on how great my plan to workout in the morning before Evie wakes is going? Yeah, well, that's because it's not going so great. I have managed to do it two or three times, but lately Evelyn has been waking randomly during the night again. She hasn't done that in weeks and weeks, but suddenly, it's 2 AM and she's awake. The next night, 4 AM. This morning 4:45. I thought briefly about trying to just work out after I'd gotten her back to sleep, but I ended up going back to sleep too. I can't help but think I'd be feeling better if I were able to get in my workouts, but there's a physical exhaustion limit and I think I'm tottering close to it.

She's "working on" a nap right now, and it seems promising (THANK GOODNESS). But then my dilemma is this: what to do?? I want to go back to sleep too. I should workout. I have homework to do and about a zillion little projects on my to-do list. I have a funny feeling of what I might end up doing...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In which I nearly cry in public

The New Parent Support group on post organizes an annual car safety check event. I remember last year I wanted to go, but we didn't yet have our car seat, so I just obsessively researched how to install it myself. For some reason it was one of those things I was REALLY stressing about. It was probably all of the statistics floating out there..."7 out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly! Is YOUR child safe?" I had this mental block that the installation was going to be close to brain surgery and was dreading it. I read the manual. I looked online at videos. I fretted. And finally, I installed the seat. It was so quick and easy, I sat there staring at it thinking 'I must be missing something.' After double checking all latches, hooks, buckles, levers, and reclining angles multiple times, I finally came to the conclusion that I felt comfortable and satisfied with the job I'd done. Score one for me. I think I'd been stressing more about the car seat installation that labor.

Fast forward until December...or was it January...whenever we got Evie's new convertable car seat. I was so excited to get it and have it installed, because in my mind it was going to make certain aspects of our errand running much more smooth, but that's another story...

Anyway, I wasn't too stressed this time around about the installation because the infant seat installation had gone so smoothly and I considered myself something of an expert. I was unpleasantly surprised that it was NOT as intuitive for me as the first seat, and after a couple of failed attempts where I really had just guessed how things were supposed to go (the manual and pictures being of VERY little use) I came inside and did further research online. Now, as an art history major in college, I know something about references and the difference between a good and bad source of information. I didn't just YouTube videos on how to install a random car seat from the 80s; I went to the manufacturer's website, looked up my specific make and model of the seat, including the seat's manufacture date and found a very useful resource documenting clearly how to ensure proper installation.

I KNOW I did this, but me being me, I always doubt and question myself, and with today being the Car Seat Installation Check Day I thought I should go and have an "expert" take a look at it too. So here's where it gets fun...

I pull into the parking lot and am waved over into a spot. It's more crowded than I thought it would be, but I didn't have to wait in line, and a woman came over quickly with a clip board. I needed to fill out the form and sign a waiver (always comforting) and the woman offered to hold Evie while I did so. The first thing she said upon taking her was, "Brrrr! I bet you're cold!" Criticizing the weather appropriateness of my child's attire: Strike One. Evie wasn't too pleased being held by a stranger and I scrambled to get the form filled as quickly as I could. I got Evie back, self-consciously bundling her a little tighter in her blanket, and the woman began the inspection.

"Good, this is really snug..."
"Nice, this isn't twisted..."
"Looks really good..."
"Now, where do these straps fall on her--above her shoulders?"

"No, no, they're just below," I replied, the studious car seat installer I am.

"Good. And the buckle on her front?"

"Right at arm pit level," I shoot back. Do I get a sticker?

And then it happens. She looks behind the rear facing seat, between the seat and the passenger's chair where I have the car seat tethered to the floor board via the metal anchor of the front chair. She starts laughing. At first, I'm thinking to myself, Oh, I'm so good, she can hardly believe it, but then she says

"Oh wow. Hahahahaahaha. I've never seen this before. Well, maybe in photos. Of what NOT to do. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Mary, come here, you've got to see this! We should get a picture of this!"


I'm sitting there, holding our child, whose safety means more than anything to me--I'm there trying to be a responsible parent, making sure I'm doing the right thing, looking for support and encouragement, and SHE'S LAUGHING HYSTERICALLY AT MY "MISTAKE." Me being me, my eyes began to fill with tears.

This is the point when I acutally am sort of proud of myself, because where usually I might completely dissolve into sobs and kind of be incomprehensible for a few minutes, I held back my tears and said in a choked voice, "Just so you know, I take great offense at your reaction. I take my child's safety very seriously and you've made me feel really bad. I think that was a horrible thing to do."

She stopped laughing. Of course she hadn't meant to be mean, but it was a very insensitive thing to do to someone--well, at least someone like me. I am so much more sensitive to things like this, and somehow the universe knows this and throws people at me who push my buttons. I need to get a shirt that says, "WATCH OUT! You may be the straw that breaks the camel's back!" She apologized profusely and I could tell she felt genuinely sorry for her reaction, which had been innapropriate. She went on to explain that this isn't typically done in cars like ours--that usually there is a center fastener meant specifically for this type of tether. "Okay," I replied numbly, still trying to get my eyes to reabsorb the liquid that was brimming there. It's not as if I'd tried to secure the thing with bubble gum, rubber bands, staples, and hot glue. I was being thorough. I remembered specifically thinking that that extra tether seemed to be a bit over the top to me, but I remembered seeing it in a video and thought I should do it. In the meantime, another car seat checker came over and quietly said to my woman, "That woman over there got her car seat out of the dumpster...What do I tell her?" Funny, they weren't laughing hysterically at that woman.

Anyway, I pulled it together and she finished the check and was super extra polite to me the rest of the time. She installed the seat again, then I installed it again, and then the check was complete and we were free to go.

I came home and went online to try and find the video I'd seen. As I thought, it's on the manufacturer's website--check it out for yourself if you'd like! If you want to see just what I'm talking about, go to the third tab, "Installation Instructions" then click on the 13th slide, "Versa-Tether Installation." Hmmm, I don't know about you, but it sure seems to me that THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I'D DONE. Suddenly I don't look so crazy afterall...

I'm totally sending the link to the woman.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nine months old today!!!!

Dearest Evie,

I forgot again to take notes this month along the way of all your developments, and as I sit down to write this I know I’m going to forget to include so much of what’s happened this month. I’m so glad I’ve been writing these letters for you because, well, my memory sucks and without your father here to remember actual events, if we didn’t have these letters your childhood would be an absolute mystery.

I think the biggest thing by far this month has been the real emergence of your will. You’ve never had a problem making yourself heard, but it wasn’t always clear what you were after. Now, however, it’s pretty clear. You let me know clearly that you do NOT want to be strapped into the car seat. Actually, that goes for being strapped in anywhere—the “high-chair” (counter chair?) where you eat, the swing. Being strapped in is not one of your favorite things and you certainly do your best to wriggle out of your tethers.

You’re more mobile all around, and although you’re technically not yet crawling, it’s pretty darn close. I call it the “moonwalk crawl” because your hands and knees never seem to leave the ground and yet you glide along with surprising agility. You’re just starting to lift yourself into an “official” crawling pose, all the way back on your knees, so you may be looking to evolve your locomotion method once more in the coming days. You’re able to pull yourself up on my hands and are trying desperately to figure out how to pull up on furniture. You’re not there yet, but I can CLEARLY see it in your eyes when you stare intently at the ottoman or sofa and your hands twirl in this characteristic circular motion that means your wheels are REALLY turning.

That’s something else that’s pretty new—the thinking hand twist. It’s a concentrating thing, like people who stick out there tongue or chew on a pencil when thinking. Whenever you see something particularly interesting, you hands and fingers start this slow rotation at the wrist, sort of like you’re practicing Obi Wan’s jedi mind trick. Anyway, standing is VERY exciting for you (and me, of course!), and although you’re wobbly as a newborn colt when you use me as a stand, you’re surprisingly steady on your feet when supporting yourself on the sofa. I think you take offense a little bit at the idea of getting too much help from me, and thus fight it a little when I support you, causing yourself to be thrown off balance a bit. When it’s just you and the sofa, you’re not as worried with proving that you’re able to do it yourself and thus fare a little better. You giggle and giggle uncontrollably when standing (even when struggling against my hands) and your joy is infectious. You’re a super wiggle worm when I hold you now, and as you giggle and twist, you have complete faith that no matter how you squirm, I will keep hold of you. We dance and clap now, and you can’t get enough of it.

You’ve continued to eat new foods, although here again you’re asserting your will more clearly. You’ve begun—I think it’s just playing—doing “blubber lips” when I’ve given you a full mouth of food, and thus cover me in baby spit plus whatever it is you’re eating. Not cool, Evelyn. I mean, it is pretty funny, but all in all, it just can’t fly and this month marks the first time I’ve made you cry by telling you NO. You got me really good with a mouth full of prunes (remind me to show you how this feels one day) and I reduced you to tears with one stern word of reprimand. I felt really bad, but held my ground. This is harder for me than I thought it would be, Evelyn, and ALWAYS remember that I do the things I do because I LOVE YOU. You weigh 17.6 lbs which puts you in the 25th percentile for your age. You're at the 50th percentile for your length and I don't think I should worry, but people have called you "small." This is something I'm still working on, Evie, but try not to let other people affect your self-worth. You are fine just as you are and people will always try to classify you on their own terms. God made you perfectly YOU, and He knows what He's doing.

As the weather is much nicer these days, we’ve been enjoying walks lately. You are so excited by everything around us; I watch your legs kicking non-stop with glee from my birds’ eye view of you in the stroller. I talk to you about the things we see along the way and every so often you throw your head back and gaze up at me upside-down with a wide, toothless grin than dims the sun. Laughter and more kicky feet ensue.

You are becoming keenly observant of finer details too. You hear the distant chirping or cawing of birds and go still (hands twirling). You hear the “you’ve got mail” noise while in your exersaucer and crane your head over to try and see around the sofa and catch a glimpse of what’s happening on the television (that’s where the sound comes out; the computer’s hooked up through the tv). I show you pictures or a new book or you talk to Paparazzi (Granddaddy) and Nana on Skype and you are soooo enrapt. Chokydar got a haircut last week, and to see you watch me cut her hair—you would have thought I was splitting an atom, it was THAT AMAZING.

We’re counting the hours now until Daddy is home with us again, Evelyn, and although you are super excited every time the phone rings, I don’t think you can possibly grasp how fantastic things are about to be. Daddy is way better than me at tickling. He plays most games better, and he gives really good hugs. You’re going to LOVE him, and believe me, he already loves you, more than you will ever know.

Goodnight my sweet, talented, clever, beautiful child. I love you. I can’t wait until tomorrow.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I may be getting carried away...

Okay, I have a new way to distract--ahem, express myself. I haven't gotten on board with twitter, but I think this is basically the same thing. I came across this blog platform, Tumblr via a blog called 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son and thought the layout was so cool I wanted one! It's just that cool!!!! Like I need another blog? Sure I do! Anyway, I thought I'd link to it on the sidebar over there--that's what "Fuzzy Lollipop" is. I still don't really understand twitter, but I think the principal is about the same as I plan to use my tumblr account: short little bursts of randomness. Pictures I find and like, quotes, just random bursts of inspiration...

My plan is to have this help me organize my thoughts, not waste more of my time...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh Reginald...I DISAGREE!

I have another article to share with you! This one I came across in Elle Magazine, and is titled "Die, Mommy, Die!" I'm not sure who thought that was a good name, but I guess it does capture the tone of the article well. I found it interesting that this article was in a fashion magazine rather than a parenting one. I mean, it seems obvious why the article might not be so well received in a parenting magazine, but reading it, I got the feeling I'd overhead someone talking trash about me in a public bathroom while I was unseen in a stall.

In a way, Hass is speaking to the same "over-parenting" phenomenon as Granju, but I felt her tone and attitude were incredibly off-putting. She makes several good points about how she feels blathering on and on about your children at work to your co-workers is inappropriate, but in my experience, people can be horrible conversationalists in general, so why single out mothers?

She likens the question “Isn’t [having children] just the best thing you’ve ever done?” to the old Catch 22, "When did you stop beating your wife?" I can see how you'd feel painted in a poor light for answering 'no,' but I can't say I can indentify with that answer.

I'm a feminist. I went to a liberal womens' college. I count myself as one of Hass's described "smart, evolved, successful women." I believe that women are just as, if not sometimes more, capable as men in most endeavors. (This is a bigger side topic I won't go into now...) But I also HIGHLY value my role as a mother. I see it as a role that strengthens who I am, not dimishes me. I choose to devote myself "full time" to raising our children, rather than working outside of our home, and I do not think that makes me less successful than working mothers/women in ANY WAY. I'm not trying to give working mothers a hard time; I understand that some people need to or choose to work, and that's their call--but to imply that I am achieving less by "simply" being a stay at home mom is insulting.

Hass says

It’s not as though I don’t love my daughter. Or that I take her for
granted...But I have never once thought of her as the best thing I’ve ever done.
Perhaps that’s a function of having had a better-than average work life, but
it’s also because I’m loath to take credit for my daughter as an accomplishment.
Reproducing, even for me, who had to go to such lengths to become a mother,
doesn’t feel like a personal achievement; it’s just a natural part of the human
cycle. That’s one of the reasons I love being a parent; it’s comfortingly
prosaic, delightfully unremarkable. Can you imagine women in small Indian
villages standing around the local well asking for reassurance from the others
that having their brood of kids is “the best thing they’ve ever done”? It’s a
ready-made caption for a New Yorker cartoon.

Like I said, I see her point here, but I think her attitude sucks. I can't (and wouldn't) take credit for Evelyn as "an accomplishment," but the fact remains, nothing I will EVER do or create will rival the miracle that is HER. I say this not only because of who she is, but because of all that potentially can come from her as well. She is a human being! She can reason and has a soul! My contribution to the betterment and continuation of humanity through raising a good child would far outstrip the achievement of landing the top spot at a Fortune 500 company.

I think that by continuing to nurture myself and my interests and goals makes me a better mother. My life isn't entirely sacrificed on the altar of child-rearing, but there IS sacrifice involved and that too strengthens me.

When it comes down to it, I think I'm splitting hairs here. As a mentioned before, I see similarities between this article and the one I posted yesterday, but the tone is so different, I see one as successful and the other insulting.

What do you think?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Babble: The Over-Parenting Crisis

I came across this article last week and have been meaning to post it ever since. I've been thinking waaaaaay too much lately, but I guess that's something I've always done...

I recently bought a bunch of parenting books on amazon because I had this moment of crisis (ha ha, just a moment, Michele?) where I wondered "What if I'm doing this ALL WRONG?" I mean, without Justin here to even me out, what if I'm making huge errors, being over protective, holding her back, completely stunting her growth and development??? Now, if I'm being rational, I KNOW I'm doing a good job. I know it. She's doing great. But I still worry. And I have to wonder, is this just normal--mothers have always felt this way--or do I feel this way as a result of the hyper-parenting trend in our society? With all of the attention on celebrities' babies, all the "necessary" gear, all of the scary warnings out there about everything from vaccines to BPA-free plastics, it's hard to navigate through as a parent without getting swept up in the hype just a tiny bit.

I always breathe a sigh of relief when I come across an article like Granju's, because it bolsters my confidence and eases my worries (at least for a while). I sometimes feel that the message out there is, "if it isn't hard, you're not doing it right!" or "the more effort the better!" Instead of letting things unfold as they please, I have like it's my personal responsibility to make things happen. I should be rubbing Evelyn's gums and chanting over her while she's asleep in order to assure her teeth will eventually come out. She's not crawling/walking/composing sonnets yet? Exactly what have I been doing all day long?

Granju, while she is a leading advocate for "attachment parenting" describes her parenting philosophy as one of "benign neglect." She says
Until recently, the essential tasks of parenting were seen as nurturing and
socializing children. Today, however, this simple mandate seems criminally
neglectful. Now, parenting requires constant vigilance, unflagging attention to
every detail of our children's lives, and ever present monitoring of their every
While I agree wholeheartedly with her sentiment in the article, if I look at myself, I can see areas where I've succumbed to the hazards of obsessive worry and over-parenting. The fact that I waited to introduce Cheerios to the girl until she was almost 8 months old for fear she'd choke is, I know, silly. (I'm still nervous to continue introducing other "real" solid foods.) I still worry about her breathing at night, even though she is more than capable of getting herself out of a pickle--what she would suffocate on in her barren crib, I'm not sure, but I worry about it just the same. I worry that my lame-o housekeeping skills will make her ill, crawling around inhaling who knows what, and yet, the child has yet to have so much as a cold (knock on wood).

I think when it comes down to it, I have a lot more work to do on ME than HER.

Saturday, April 11, 2009




Often when Evelyn is getting sleepy I'll set her in her swing and offer her something to look at/chew on to distract her while she drifts off. Some objects are more successful than others, obviously. Some get dropped off the side immediately; purposefully... Others get her worked up rather than soothed. It's quite often trial and error because the thing that worked perfectly yesterday is wrong today, but she seems to enjoy having something to do until she realizes that she actually is sleepy and drifts off.

I really enjoy watching her "read" her books. I was impressed when she first began turning pages a few months ago. It was one of the first major refinements in her motor skills and I was super proud. "My child can TURN PAGES!!!!!" I still find it awesome. :)

I'm going to get myself to bed tonight...I'm already stalling...Friday morning I got myself up at 5:30 purposefully to workout and shower BEFORE Evie rises. She's been getting up pretty predictably about 7 am, so I figured that would give me enough time. Once I was on the treadmill I felt AWESOME. I was so proud of myself for getting up and amazed to be exercised, showered, and dressed all by 6:45, around which time E woke. I felt great until about 3pm when I really started to crash, but I chose not to nap, and by the time Justin called that night my brain was mushier than Evelyn's baby squash. I chose to skip this morning, but plan to drag myself out of bed again tomorrow. Wish me luck... I really think that this would be a great thing for me if I can adjust to it. I figure if I can suffer through about a week of dragging myself out of bed, I'll start to adjust to the schedule shift and it will become easier. I'll keep you posted. Hopefully you'll keep me honest...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Puli love

Today is Day 3.

Of what, you ask? Puli grooming, of course! Yes, that's right, without aid from another adult, it takes about 3 days to adequately groom Chokydar. Let me just say from the beginning that Chokydar LOVES being groomed. Without her cooperation (more like ecstasy), the process would be WAY less enjoyable.

I knew it was time for a bath because Chokydar had begun to get on my nerves. When she is dirty and unkept, it is hard for me to be as cuddly with her--I know, that's awful of me, but it's true. So when her craziness starts overbalancing her cuteness, into the tub she goes. Not a bad philosophy I guess, really--to shower more love when you feel less inclined to do so.

Day 1 is the Initial Cut. Chokydar comes and sits (then lies when she gets tired) in front of me and I snip away. I think I've secretly harbored a desire to be a hairdresser since childhood; few of my dolls or stuffed animals escaped the occasional trim (much to my mother's dismay). It's cathartic for me to cut Choky's hair, and feels almost like a creative outlet--like I'm designing her new do. Once I start, it's hard to stop. It's quite addicting. Even though she loves it, she usually tires of sitting still before I do, although once I stop I realize that I'm usually exhausted and a bit sore. Thus, I wait until Day 2 for the next phase because my time and engergy is now gone.

Day 2 is The Bath. I must conduct The Bath in the first half of the day, or early afternoon, because even though I will blow dry Chokydar, she doesn't dry completely and needs time to finish air drying, unless you want to sleep with a damp sweater in the bed. Choky bathes in the bathtub. Her collar comes off (we call this look the Wild Puli) and she seems to sense the freedom of it all. I lift her in the tub (UGH, she's heavy) and off we go. Her fur is really quite unique--the best way I can the process is like washing a REALLY thick sweater by hand. Her fur is sooooo dense and resists absorbing the water at first, it takes a while just to get it all saturated. Then you soap her up and rinse really good. Then rinse again. Then rinse again. Then again. I've read some puli authorities recommend against using soap because it can irritate the skin if not rinsed properly, but to me she smells like an old shoe if she doesn't get shampooed, so I just make SURE I get all the soap out. Once I've rinsed her about a dozen times I start wringing her out, again, just like a sweater (only she's not as twisty). I go top to bottom, squeezing out all the excess moisture. Then she "helps" by shaking herself. Any part of me that was dry until now is no longer so.

Choky gets out of the tub at this point and I first towel dry her. No matter how much wringing I've done, she still is sopping wet. I usually go through 2 or 3 towels absorbing the excess water. Now comes the real fun--the hair dryer. Choky was a bit nervous about the hair dryer as a puppy, but has become accustomed to it, and now REALLY enjoys this aspect of The Grooming. I sit on the bathroom rug and she rolls around on the floor in front of me, digging her nose into the ground and grunting happily. She rolls back and forth with glee and occasionally hops up to trot around and shake herself off again (yes, usually water STILL flies). More blow drying. This goes on for at least 10-15 minutes. Even when you THINK you've dried her enough, you haven't.

Now comes the tricky part. Pre-Evelyn, this was Choky's favorite part of being clean: Revelling in her clean-ness. She would streak around the house (as the Wild Puli), running, barking, frolicking with glee, bouncing off the furniture like Donald O'Connor from "Make 'Em Laugh" in Singin' in the Rain. Now, however, the whole reason we've been able to do the bath is because Evie has been ASLEEP, so ideally Chokydar needs to be QUIET. She's such a good dog. She tries so hard to cooperate. It's pretty adorable watching her do the "silent" version of her glee dance.

And that brings us to today: Day 3. Really, it's mostly over, but to do the job right I must do a follow up cut. After her bath there are stray tufts to be trimmed that I missed the first time around and also, I'm much more willing to trim the fur around her butt now that she's clean (I know, Puli TMI). Again, Choky is happy to cooperate, until I actually start trimming near her tail. I think she's afraid I will mistakenly cut it off, and she's constantly looking over her shoulder, her gaze bouncing between it and me imploringly. In my mind, I imagine that pulik must be like C.S. Lewis's Reepacheep, "A tail is the honor and glory of a [puli]!"

For your further reading pleasure, check out this awesome article, The Incredible Puli. I fell in love with the breed before we ever got one, and although it took some convincing for Justin to be excited about getting a puli, he tells me all the time now how glad he is that we have one. The article is so great--I especially like the parts about a puli's preference for NPR, and the description of a puli as a "black tornado."

I'm going to go hug my puli now. :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A chip off the old block

We got a surprise package in the mail yesterday. Justin's Grandma Watson sent us some pictures from when Justin was a baby. I love how she twirls her hands when she's concentrating.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In which I am in SO much trouble.

Okay, I think I've officially enterted inspiration overload mode. In the last couple of days I've come across SO MUCH visually inspiring stuff, I think it may have actually fried my brain. It's so much, I can't process it all. I need to let it settle just so I can make sense of it.

I keep my pictures on flickr and have enjoyed the "Explore" function for a few years now--long before I started uploading my own photos there. Only recently, however, have I started using the "favorites" feature to start a little bookmarking portfolio of other people's images I find enchanting. So here's the rabbit hole...I find an image, bookmark it and then of course keep looking through the person's images for more inspiration. More bookmarks. Then, I think, AH HA! If I like this person's stuff, what are the odds I will like the pictures THEY have marked as favorites? So then I go and check out THEIR favorite images and suddenly I have about 20 new favorites, and 20 new people to look at all of THEIR favorites! IT NEVER ENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, as if I needed more, now I've discovered two additional sites, ffffound.com and behance.net. They both are full to the brim of visual inspiration, and like I said, I think it's all become too much. My head is going to explode.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The same thing we do every night, Pinky

Okay, not try to take over the world...take Evelyn's multivitamins.

Every night Evie gets her liquid multivitamins, and as you can see, she LOVES them. When she first began taking them she was only a few weeks old, and she did NOT like them. We'd wait until she was inconsolably screaming anyway, and then we'd sneak them in, figuring we might as well combine fits. Somewhere along the way, however, (I can't really recall when--I think it was fairly early on) she really began liking them, so every night she gets SUPER excited when I bring out the little bottle and the dropper.

One can only hope she maintains such an attitude about her health as she grows older.

"The dentist? YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Well-Woman visit? SCORE!!!!!!!!!!"

This pretty much sums it up

Kiss and make it feel better

This image pretty much sums up Evie for the past few days; tears and laughter {almost} in equal measure. I'm stuggling with the balance of letting her explore vs. protecting her from injury. By that I just mean, falling basically; there's not a bunch of marbles strewn across the floor or anything. She is really starting to, well, I call it her moonwalk crawl, because she's not up on her knees, but she sort of magically floats across the floor. She loves going from sitting into the moonwalk crawl, but unfortunately she hasn't yet mastered the smooth transition, and she often ends up face first in the carpet. Tears ensue. As you can see above, once comforted, she's just fine, often with the tears still making their way down her chubby little cheeks.

I'm finding this process really hard. How do I know if I'm doing okay? Allowing her enough freedom? Enough safety? Am I comforting her too much after a spill? I just don't quite know. I follow my gut and hope it's not as big of a deal as it seems right now.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Just another dinner...

For those of you who enjoy watching Evie eat:

She's started doing this thing where she "blubber lips" the food right back at me as soon as it's in her mouth. It's hilarious, but it gets old REALLY quick. I know it's not food specific because she's done it with foods she really likes, and I KNOW that she's hungry, so it's not because she's full. Sigh. We actually took a 5 minute break from dinner because there just wasn't any point to keep trying--every spoonful kept flying back at me. I got the camera out, partially hoping that it would distract her enough to STOP DOING IT and eat some!

A Conversation

Girl: Wow! She's so cute!

Me: Thanks! [smiles]

Girl: How old is she?

Me: [thinking] ...a bit over 8.5 months now. She'll be 9 months on the 15th.

Girl: ....Wow. She's small.

Me: [stares...forced smile] Oh yeah?

Girl: Yeah! My friend has a baby and he was, like, bigger than her when he was FIVE months old.

Me: [Well, he's a MONSTER baby, isn't he, then? FATTY FAT FATTY] She's actually about average weight for her age. [still smiling]

Girl: Oh yeah? Weird. Yeah, cause she just looks SMALL.

Me: [Oh no! You've caught me! I actually am trying to stunt her growth because I'm hoping to put her in overalls, a red hat and glue a beard on her and stand her in the garden to save money on buying a garden gnome. Darn! I thought no one would notice!] I guess every kid is different. Well, it's nice to see you again! Have a good weekend! [SMILES!!!!]


In other news...I forgot to mention one of Evie's new tricks. We've both adjusted to her new car seat and like it just fine...most of the time. Evie had stopped screaming in agony when I put her in, but now she has a new game. As soon as I set her down, before I can grab the straps and bring her arms through, she arches her back and starts writhing like a little inch worm down trying to scoot out of the end of the chair. She's surprisingly quick at this, so usually what happens is this: I set her down. She writhes and wiggles toward the end. I scoot her back up to the proper position. She writhes down again, super inch worm that she is. I scoot her up once again and get one arm through, thus distracting her from the wiggle and am able to buckle the base in before she gets her bearings and attempts another escape.

I have to say, I have this funny mental image of me trying to close the zipper on a REALLY overstuffed suitcase--one of those with two zippers on either end, you know? The minute you make progess with one zipper, the other one slides back because all of the stuff has begun oozing out of that side instead. So what do you do? You dig your knee in hard or SIT on it to keep all the stuff jammed in really good so you can close the thing. Only...I think that sort of thing is frowned upon with babies...

Friday, April 3, 2009

In which Evelyn decides it's time to step things up a notch

It's a good thing Justin's coming home soon. This is true for many many reasons, but today's reason is because some of my single-handed tactics are beginning to become obselete.

Issue No. 1: Evelyn is getting BIG and WIGGLY.

This is the least bothersome of the three issues I'm highlighting today. There are pros to this issue as well, i.e. ready made upper body workout, but all in all, it sure would be handy to be able to save some tasks for when I have back up. Carrying Evelyn tummy to tummy is pretty much out of the question now. She will contort herself backwards and upside down to try and see where we are going, and it TOTALLY negates the convenience of this carry position. Sideways resting on my hip is pretty good, but still, she will twist and turn unexpectedly if something intriguing catches her eye. I often will carry her facing out, but this requires both hands to hold her securely, and the obvious draw back here is...no hands left for anything else.

Issue No. 2: Evelyn is starting to REALLY mess with stuff.

Evie: "That's a great necklace, mom! What happens if I pull on it LIKE THIS!!!???"
Me: [choke]

Evie: "What are these on your face again, mom? What? You need them to see? Weird."
Me: [bumping into things]

Evie: "What's that your reading, mom? A magazine? Cool. Hey look, if I rip it like THIS we can both read it!"
Me: [sigh]

Evie: "This is a neat sweater, mom. What are these things again? Buttons? Do you think if I pulled hard enough they might come off?"
Me: [trying not to be undressed in public]

Granted, I thwart her tiny hands most of the time because I know her tricks...but she is QUICK!

Issue No. 3: Evelyn is a big Bear McCreary fan, and is practicing her drumming skills...on my latte.

We sometimes go to the Java Cafe...everyday and up until now, carrying Evie in one hand and the chai in the other haven't been an issue. The doors to the mail room are motion sensitive and when I get to the car I set the cup on the roof while I get her buckled in. When we get to the door to our building, however, it gets a little complicated. There are two doors, the outside one, and then the inner door to our apartment. They are both VERY VERY heavy and weighted, so that they close automatically. Up until now, I've been momentarily shifting Evie on one hip so that I can support her in the crook of my arm and hold the cup in that hand while I pull the door open. Once we step inside I transfer the cup back over to the hand on the Evie-free side. Again, at our door: transfer cup, unlock door, open door and get inside without being hit by said heavy swinging door, transfer cup back. Now for the fun part. The past couple of days have seen a new development. Whereas before, Evie would only look at the cup, now she excitedly wants to PLAY the cup. It makes lovely music if you BEAT on it apparently (you know, the sound of the latte sloshing wildly against the lid, then spewing out and spilling down my pants.) Now, before you get worried, they don't actually make the drink that hot--it's not going to burn her, but this method is obviously no longer a viable one...

Back to the drawing board...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Header

As you can see, I've got the new header up for April and I'm playing more and more with photoshop. I had a lot of fun making this today after I came up with the idea. I pieced four separate images of Justin, Evie, me, and Chokydar together and added a unified background and some effects. Now here's the super clever part...watch for Justin to become less and less transparent as he gets closer to being home! I know. It's almost TOO clever.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Not Funny

It's April Fool's Day today and I have to admit that while I think I have a really good sense of humor, I don't really take jokes well, or perhaps better put--I don't take well to being the butt of a joke.

I don't actually know how true the following story is, but it's the way I recall the ordeal and for the purposes of my therapy sessions, that's what matters, right?

One year, when my sister and I were elementary school age (I don't think that my brother had started school yet), my parents decided to play an April Fool's Day joke on us. It must have been the end of a grading period or coincided with the beginning of spring break, or something, but for whatever reason, April Fool's Day fell on a school holiday that year. Denise and I were sitting on the floor in our pajamas playing on dad's (waaaaay old school) computer. The way I remember it, it might have been PacMan. Anyway, there we were, enjoying our day off, when the phone rang. I don't remember which of our parents answered the phone, only that the one sided conversation on our end sounded something like this:
"Ah yes! How are you?"
"Really?? Oh no..."
"Of course! They're right here..."
And then the phone was passed to one of us, maybe both of us in turn. The voice on the other end said something like this:
"Hello. This is Mr. Davis, principle at Moore Elementary. I'm wondering why you aren't at school today. This is a school day, and everyone else is here..."
From this point things get a bit fuzzy, as I may have blacked out from panic and fear. You have to understand that my sister and I were model students, and I guess, pretty gullible too. I seem to remember bursting into tears and streaking frantically into the other room to try and dress for school. Life was over.

Like I said, I'm not really sure how much of that story is actually true. I'm pretty sure that one April Fool's Day, a friend of the family called pretending to be the school principal--as for the accuracy of the rest, we're going to have to check with my sister and parents. I'm not sure if it was something my parents thought up or not. I have to wonder, if it was, at what point they realized that they may have gone too far and had to try and talk us down from the tearful and terrified frenzy in which found ourselves. If that part was even as bad as I remember.

So, I've never much liked April Fool's Day. It always seems to me to be a very mean spirited day. That being said, looking back, after all the tears were dried, I can't help but wonder if my parents got a good laugh out of the whole thing. I mean, come on, it must have been pretty funny. We were so serious and studious. Who would have thought we'd take it so dramatically? It's something I sometimes ponder now as a parent myself--how can I avoid (as much as possible) being insensitive to my child's sensitivities? To some extent, it will be unavoidable, and I suppose that's just part of life.

Thinking about this today, I remembered this video I saw a long time ago on You Tube. You may have seen it already, but I thought it tied in perfectly today, what with laughing at a child's obvious heartfelt concern. Terrible, right? I know. Just try not to laugh though...

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