We’ve been on the move again. My awesome parents flew the whole family with them to Florida for some fun times at the beach. The last time we’d all been to the beach together was to celebrate my Mom’s retirement in 2010. I made Dorothy and her cousins matching dresses to wear on that trip, pictured below. They were so cute running around in their little coordinating beach gear that I knew I had to do the same thing for this trip, plus some shorts for Worth. I bought this fabric and used McCalls MP339 as a basis for the dresses and just improvised Worth’s little shorts. The pattern was simple and adorable and the sizing was right on except for the straps, which had to be shortened considerably from what the pattern called for. I added the ruffles to the top and bottom. The kids collected smiles and coos everywhere we went, and they liked their matching outfits so much they wore them for two days straight.
This was the 2010 picture, with sweet little Maggie just 3 months old and Worth only a dear hope!
I’ve been going through some photographs from the last couple months and I found these two that I’d taken this spring but not yet blogged about. This one above is a picture of our “toothpick lunch.” Dorothy and Worth are not the pickiest eaters I’ve encountered, but they aren’t exactly omnivorous when it comes to food either. One of the strategies I find very useful for feeding them at lunchtime when I know we may not have their favorite foods on hand is to declare that we will have a “surprise lunch,” and that they must play away from the kitchen while I fix it. For some reason the pleasure of having the table set with food laid out on their plates (like a restaurant!) is so compelling to them that they may eat food they would otherwise not have selected. One day I really couldn’t come up with much that looked like lunch in a just-bef0re-grocery-time refrigerator and pantry. I had some cheese sticks the kids rejected because they weren’t the right color (the horror of yellow cheese when one prefers white!), some crackers they didn’t like, some fruit. For some reason the line from the original Fancy Nancy book, about sandwiches tasting better with frilly toothpicks popped into my head. I sliced some fruit, cut up the despised crackers and smeared them with a little hummus, cubed the rejected cheese sticks, located a few other bite-sized goodies and arranged them on a breakable platter I wouldn’t ordinarily use for the kids, then I got down our cocktail toothpicks and set out an assortment of colors. The kids totally bought the “toothpick lunch” idea. They loved the colored toothpick frills, they giggled, and they ate every single thing on the platter. The color of the cheese or the substance of the cracker was never even mentioned. I’m absolutely going to use this idea again.
Finally, Dorothy has been into puppet shows lately. We have a small store-bought puppet theater but the game would be just as fun with a cut-out cardboard box. I’ve printed some scripts for her from a website I use as a resource to our homeschooling. She’s had a blast coloring simple paper doll forms into the characters for each script, gluing them to popsicle sticks, and then putting on performances. She can spend a long time doing this on her own, and I’ve also divvied up characters with her and participated in her performances. I love that she always dresses her narrator characters in black–how did she know? In this photo she’s holding Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
Before the puppy madness began I was spending some time working on our outside spaces. This is our side porch, and since we park in the back it the entrance we use primarily. I’d post a before picture but it would be too embarrassing to show you the messy jumble of miscellaneous junk I’d allowed to accumulate there as we were moving in. Sometimes it was easier to dump stuff on the porch than to find a better home for it. Anyway, I cleared off the junk and set up the grill. There isn’t room for chairs on this little porch but it needed something else on it so I potted some herbs in pots I painted, then let Dorothy and her friend next door paint our old, recently-replaced front porch mailbox a bright yellow color and set it out to use as an exchange spot for messages to each other. The girls loved this project. Then something was still missing–I thought the window looked like it needed curtains, but curtains on an exterior window seemed a bit odd so I thought of pennants instead. I made the little string of flags out of scraps from Aunt Stephanie’s room and I think they look very fresh and cheerful there. They tie in the colors of the pots, the little girls’ mailbox, and the mustardy-gold I painted on the exterior door. Why not?
We traveled over the weekend. We had campground reservations at Rough River State Park but they were cancelled by the park several days before our trip due to flooding. With a weekend already blocked off for travel but the weather unappealingly hot for camping we decided to move forward some travel plans we’d intended for later in the summer. Saturday we visited Kentucky Down Under where Dorothy got to pet an emu, a kangaroo, and encounter this beautiful bird. The park had the feeling of a place that is still up and coming but we enjoyed the several hours we spent there. If I had it to do over I’d have packed a picnic as the cafe food was not very good–let that be my tip if you go. After the park we drove on into Bowling Green where we dined at the surprisingly good 440 Main on the charming town square and stayed the night at a hotel. The next day we visited the National Corvette Museum which I think has my husband vowing to work harder and earn more money…for a Corvette. Oy. It was a fun weekend getaway just a car nap’s drive from home. On the way home we shared our favorite memories: Rob liked the Corvettes (go figure), Dorothy enjoyed the hotel pool more than either paid attraction, and I most enjoyed our dinner at the nice restaurant. What can I say?
Our puppy may now have a name. I really think she’s a Pippa, but Dorothy seemed wedded to her suggestion of Isabelle. I pulled some Mommy magic today and had her convinced that naming the dog Pippa was her idea. She’d totally embraced it, started calling her that, and even proudly introduced the dog as Pippa to the next-door friend, but then Rob came home surprised by her change of heart and totally foiled my plan. “Is that really what you want to name her? I thought you were naming her Isabelle?” not realizing I’d already carefully achieved buy-in and was not pressuring her to pick a name I preferred. Then I think Dorothy got the impression that her father actually preferred Isabelle and has firmly switched back to that. Sigh…
Bella, which would be my top choice for a nickname if the dog must be named Isabelle, is the most common dog name, according to this web site. No fewer than three people have told me that they know other dogs named Bella. This will drive my crazy. I don’t like to do things like other people. No amount of channeling good memories of the trip I once took to Italy will stop me from writhing at the idea that people will think I chose to name my dog the single most popular dog name currently in existence. Rob and I carefully chose names for our children that didn’t even make the top 1000 baby names the years they were born. That was not an accident. I think we’ll call her Belle for short as opposed to Bella, with the one letter’s difference (and nod toward France instead of Italy) at least making the name slightly more “beautiful” (pun intended) to me. And if I show up at the dog park and can’t get my dog’s attention since all the other doggie owners are calling their pups by the same basic name, well, I guess I’ll just have to remember that allowing my 5-year-old to choose the name and venting my frustrations on the blog instead of in her earshot was the right thing to do. Belle it is.
First a finished project. I made a super-comfy skirt out of a thrifted jersey sheet. It’s soft like pajamas! It’s casual but cute–a skirt to wear with flip-flops. I love wearing skirts in the summer because they are cooler than capris and don’t have all the thigh-rubbing (sorry, I’m just shaped like that) and burning-legs-on-leather-car-upholstery issues of shorts. I think this one will become a summer favorite.
Next a funny story. Dorothy has been a little high-strung lately, perhaps due to all the talk at school about final days and transitions. She was passive-aggressively “waving” a doll apron at her brother, in a way that just happened to involve whipping him with apron strings. I asked her not to, she told me she was just fanning him and continued to do it. I asked her to go to her room and settle down. She stomped off to her second-floor bedroom angrily. Then I noted that the baby seemed to be happy tormenting the cat (whipping him with apron strings, perhaps?) so this seemed like a good moment for me to run some Costco purchases downstairs to our chest freezer. When I came up the basement stairs I found that the baby had tired of tormenting the cat and had moved on to fiddling with the basement door–in a way that involved locking me in the basement. As I stood there on the steps he opened the tiny cat door and waved at me pleasantly, thinking it was some kind of game that I was staying on the other side of it. It had been on my mind that I should get a screwdriver and remove those old locks before something just like this happened, but of course I hadn’t had the sense to do it yet. So I had to stand there on the basement stairs, frozen turkey bacon in hand, and yell for my exiled daughter over the sound of Pandora on the Old Crow Medicine Show station. She finally heard me and came down, sort of puzzled by the very short amount of time she was required to spend in her room. I explained the situation as calmly as possible and gave thanks that she’s still young enough that she just laughed at what her brother had done and let me out without further torment. Shew! Now I really will take off those old locks before she gets old enough to be vengeful, or is waiting to be picked up at preschool next time I get locked in the basement.
Finally, I just joined Twitter but I don’t know anything about it. What do I do next? I’m RenataHomemade.
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!
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?
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.
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?
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!
photo courtesy of Fine Design Camper Sales
I’m making progress! The weather is finally nice and I’m hoping to make big strides on the camper exterior today, but right now I’m killing time in the house waiting for the baby to wake up. The fabric for the cushions arrived in the mail on Thursday, so yesterday I spent the day wrestling with those. The polka-dotted fabric is a nice thick indoor/outdoor upholstry fabric that I hope will easily wipe clean, and I found it at a great price online. We cut the table down to make more standing room in the camper, and to make nice places to sit without being crammed up against the table (for when you’re say, nursing a baby and need a bit of room in front). The piece we cut off I stashed up above, so we can still use it when the table comes down to form a big bed. I haven’t photographed the kitchenette yet, but finishing that up is also on my weekend to-do list, so stay tuned!
We’re desperate to actually get this thing on the road and go camping, but I’m afraid if I move it from its present spot in my back yard that I will not prioritize it, and then it might never get done. It will certainly (barring unforseen circumstances) be completely done in time for next weekend, but Dorothy gets to bring the class guinea pig home next weekend, and I’m just not sure about a) camping with the class guinea pig, or b) dragging a screaming preschooler away from the class guinea pig to go camping. I’m open to suggestions on how to handle that one.
And as an update to our costume dilemma, the problem solved itself! Dorothy was just a tad jealous of her brother’s cute rat costume and decided that she would also like to be a rat. So one more eBay auction won (and for a good price–hooray!), and we’re waiting on one more package in the mail. I can’t wait to get some pictures of my wee rat pack next month.
Orientation at Dorothy’s preschool went fabulously. We’re so excited for her to attend this great program. I feel like the teachers share my values and that she’s really going to benefit from this year or two, and that the harmony between the school’s values and mine should make an easy transition on to homeschool if that is indeed the route we take. Hooray for the start of something wonderful and new!
At orientation they told us each child needs a satchel-style bag and a resting rug. I’d already taken care of the bag, but she didn’t have a rug yet. I wasn’t sure what the other kids would have–if everyone else had a plain bath towel, I didn’t want my little princess to tramp in with some fussy handmade setup that would make us seem show-offish or materialistic. But the example our teacher showed us of a resting rug was actually a simple little floor quilt with a hook for hanging on their little hooks, so I decided to fix Dorothy up with one on that model. We tucked the baby in for a nap and then headed downstairs to the fabric stash where Dorothy selected purple as a primary color, and I dug out several fabric scraps, some hand-me-down fabric, a thrifted shower curtain, an old stained tablecloth, and two thrifted sheets that all came together in a pleasantly purple way. I just cut 3 inch strips of various lengths to make an intentionally haphazard stripe pattern, and I like the way it turned out. It’s solid purple on the back and I sandwiched an old stained bath towel inside to make it comfy for lying on the preschool floor during their wind-down time. She loves it and has slept on top of it in bed the last two nights. I told her when she lays on it she’ll feel like Mommy is giving her a great big hug.
And here’s a little pirate booty! I crocheted dark grey longies with a skull and crossbones motif on the bum when I found out I was pregnant with a boy, last fall. I was concerned he’d grow out of them before cool enough weather came, but fortunately I could still stuff him into them (and enjoy seeing how cute they looked) yesterday.