Category Archives: parenting

A before and after

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.

A resting rug


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.

A tooth!


I don’t think they’d be good in a mixed drink, but these icy cubes of mushy squash are making a small member of my family very happy. He’s been gumming at crunchy breadsticks, sucking down water through a straw, shoving handfuls of banana in his face, and enjoying these nasty-looking cubes of squash (straight out of the freezer) in his mesh baby feeder.

We made our bi-monthly pilgrimage to Costco today and had kind of miserable time. Usually it’s fun to go to Costco; we buy $1.99 pizza slices for lunch, taste the samples, browse through the seasonal items and feel all mid-size-city-middle-class-suburbany, in a good way. Today was a different story. The baby started fussing before Dorothy and I were even done with our pizza, was grumping and lunging for his mama from the front of the cart before we left the paper products, and was full-on crying by the time we reached the massive vats of baking flour. The section with the granola bars–the last area we shop–saw me trying to bounce an unhappy 20 pound baby on my shoulder, maneuver a very full cart through the aisles, and herd a sample-stuffed 4-year-old to the checkout line. Both kids went home and slept all afternoon, and I figured our unusual Costco meltdown must of been related to the baby’s lack of a good morning nap, even though he’s usually pretty easy going about his sleep schedule. Then this evening I had the baby on my knee and was wiping remnants of (my) sweet potato fries off his chin and “recycling” them by poking them in his mouth when I felt–OMG!–a sharp protrusion on his bottom gum. The baby has his first tooth! I held him down and pried his mouth open like any good mother and took a nice look, and there it was. A tooth. Dorothy was 11 months before she popped out her first little chomper, so I would never have connected the poor babe’s miserable scene at Costco (or the subsequent extra-long nap) with teething pain, but obviously it was related. Poor kid. But wow! We have a tooth. It feels momentous.

And this is my pretty thrift-store find of the week. I have a goal of replacing my standard-issue, available-at-Target serving ware with slightly more unique finds over time. I’d been looking for a milk glass lidded bowl/casserole dish that was big enough to carry a pasta salad to a pitch-in, and Monday I found it at Unique. It’s hard to find such a large vessel that has both dish and lid intact, so I was pleased. The price as right too! And now, to keep things balanced, a later-model casserole is going into my own “donate” pile. Out with the new and in with the old! Or something. 🙂

Sweet potato mess


Solid food has arrived in Worth’s life! I was planning to wait until his six month birthday, next week, but after two days of listening to him emit annoyed pterodactyl noises and pound his chubby fists against the metal table as a soundtrack to every bite we ate I decided to introduce a few days early. He can sit unassisted, has more than doubled his birth weight, and whoa–he was eager. I’ve been letting him gnaw on a spoon while sitting in his high chair for a few weeks, and he’s pretty much got the spoon-to-mouth thing down. (We do baby self-feeding.) So now the experiments truly begin! He actually seemed to hate last night’s experience with mushy sweet potato–I don’t know if he didn’t like the feeling of it on his hands or what. But we gave him another chance today at lunch and it was much better. He may have just been tired last night. So the bibs I made months ago came out, and we’re on to a whole new phase of baby life.Speaking of messes, the advent of baby meals in my house again has made me remember just how glad I am that we don’t use paper towels. We made a switch away from them about three years ago, and it makes me wonder how they ever caught on in the first place–they are horrifyingly expensive and they simply don’t wipe up messes as well. I keep a little stack of clean rags in the same spot we used to keep paper towels and we just reach for a clean one any time we need one. I keep a little re-purposed trash can next to our real trash can to hold the dirty laundry. If I get a rag totally wet (like rinsing off chunks of sweet potato and then wiping up the floor) I hang it over the edge of the laundry can to dry so we don’t get mildew in between washings. Since we’re already washing cloth diapers every couple days I just throw our rags in with them, but when we weren’t washing dipes I put rags in with towels or just ran a separate load as needed–it never seems burdensome. We have several dozen rags, which are actually inexpensive white washcloths, so we can grab a fresh one as often as wish, and I have only white so I can use bleach on them occasionally. It seemed a little wasteful in the beginning to buy so many washcloths, since I could have found things to cut up into rags, but for me to actually sit them out in the open in the kitchen (key to actually using them), they needed to look nice too. Seems like a fair trade-off given how many paper towels we would have used in the last three years!

Sandwiches, pants, babies…


A sort of rambly blog post tonight. The rest of the family is asleep but I’m up, kind of on edge, watching over this huge pile of boxes ready to be put in storage tomorrow. I’m glad our realtor is having us put all this stuff away, actually, because it is a good reminder that we probably don’t need to own much of anyway. I’m not an anti-stuff purist (if vintage glass dishes put a smile on my face, is their existence in my home really something to be ashamed of, even though I already own other dishes?), but I don’t want needless clutter in my space, or to be caught up in its acquisition or preservation just for the sake of it. It’s a small leap from “can I store this for 3-6 months” to “can I live without this altogether?” So maybe after this move I’ll shed some of these things for good and feel lighter for it.
In the meantime, it’s prime time to enjoy my favorite sandwich. I didn’t grow a garden this year because of our housing situation, but we’ve still been able to get our hands on enough fresh, local tomatoes to make my very favorite grilled cheese sandwich. It’s mutli-grain bread brushed in olive oil, the inside smeared with pesto, then melty cheese and slices of juicy ripe tomato. Yum, yum, yum. So tasty that eating it just wasn’t enough–I had to be a dork and photograph it for my blog. 🙂

And pants. I said this post was random, right? I made these pants for Worth last week during the sewing frenzy, but never got around to photographing them.

Same funky print as the hat. I don’t have a pattern that has this contrasting back panel so I just cut up the pattern and left a seam allowance around the area I cut. Next time I do something similar I think I’ll start the panel down a bit lower. But I like the way they turned out.

And here’s my boy. He’s not really waving, though it looks like he is. He’ll be six months in 12 more days and is on the eve of getting his first taste of solid food. I took a bunch of pictures of him today to record all his gorgeous fat rolls and chubby deliciousness so I can look back and be proud of this boy I fed. Not that he’s going to stop nursing now, but soon I won’t know which little dimples I can fully take credit for. He’s sitting unassisted now and is getting all this fuzzy new hair. It’s trite but true–they change so fast! I’m totally silly over him, my beautiful boy.

Some projects and a nap strategy


This tank was an embellishment from earlier in the summer. I thought I’d photograph it on me to show how the sun design wraps around, but I never remember to. I love how it turned out and I’ve worn it over and over. It was another $5 tank top from Target, and I used a compass to make pencil circles on fabric for the sun design, cut them out and attached them to the shirt with double-sided fusible web (Wonder Under), then zig-zagged around them on the machine. It was inspired by a beautiful shirt I saw on someone at an art fair last year.

And after all my fussing over kids’ sunhats earlier in the summer, Baby Worth went and outgrew his and I had to go at it again. At least by now I think I’ve been able to establish a good work flow for hats and this one came together quickly. I used Simplicity 5695. It looks very New Orleansish to me, in a good way. Definitely not a sweet teddy bears and bunnies kind of hat, but I think he likes it.

And speaking of that baby, he’s taken a high-maintenance turn the last few days. He’s waking up screaming at night, is spending less time contentedly playing with measuring cups on the floor, and is refusing to nap for more than fifteen minutes at a time. I’m not sure if the source of his discontent is teething or a new develpmental milestone (he’s creeping backwards–watch out world!), but I’m trying to strategize how to keep us all sane and happy and I seem to have worked out a good nap plan, at least. He seems to be sleeping lightly and will wake up fully after just a few minutes if he doesn’t see me there with pats and reassurance, so today I put him down for his nap on the sofa next to me and I sat there with my crochet and coffee for an hour while he slept. It ended up being a sweet hour where I got to admire his perfect little sleeping body, take a quiet and restful hour myself, and make some progress on a crochet project too. Now I might be disappointed after this stage passes and I can tuck him in upstairs by himself again!

A caffeine fix and an earring


We had a fun weekend with a happy baptism celebration and out-of-town guests. We’re having a summer that is fun but never lazy. So lately I’ve been finding my afternoon energy in this yummy blended drink that seems much more appealing to me in this nearly 100 degree weather than a hot cup o’ joe. I blend 10 ice cubes with 2/3 cup of cold coffee, 1 tablespoon of powdered milk and 1 tablespoon organic chocolate syrup. Yum. Ordinarily powdered milk is not something I’d consider putting in a drink (I keep it on hand to thicken homemade yogurt), but this drink is too watered down if I use regular milk and too fatty if I use cream. This version gives me just the right caffeine kick, tastes just the right amount chocolately, and is only 75 calories. Happy mama.

Yesterday I had one of those tough-call parenting moments that makes me need more coffee. Dorothy had been lobbying for quite some time to get her ears pierced. I don’t have any particular thought-out philosophy about child ear-piercing. I’m not really comfortable piercing an infant’s ears (although I don’t really have any problem with the theory), and I was 13 years old myself before I even wanted earrings, so I don’t have any helpful memory of how my own mother handled the issue. So I’d basically told Dorothy she could get them pierced whenever she really wanted to, and I’d taken her to the mall to show her where you sit and describe how they do it. That had cooled her off on the idea for a while, but yesterday she was back on it, big time.

We watched a Youtube video of ear piercing, I was frank about the fact that it does hurt, but she was motivated. I wonder if a child at Bible School last week had earrings, but Dorothy didn’t mention it. To make a long story short, Dorothy ended up getting one ear pierced and then changed her mind about it. Although I’d stayed quite neutral to that point (I was neither discouraging or encouraging the piercing–this was her thing), once we had one earring in I thought it would be a bit odd to walk away without both done. I hugged, consoled, bribed her with new earrings and ice cream. She sat back up in the chair to get the second one in, but just couldn’t go through with it. She’s four, after all, and it does hurt. The young woman doing the piercing felt like if I could hold her still long enough, she could just get it in there (I’m sure she’d done this before), but there was no way I was forcing my kid to get an ear pierced. What a breach of trust! So we left, with one earring.

Today Dorothy is very proud of her earring and has even yelled out to the elderly man across the street (who is hard-of-hearing and certainly neither heard nor cared) that she got her ear pierced. She says she’s going to get the other done “tomorrow.” I’m thinking maybe in a couple weeks. Or maybe she’ll just look charmingly and quirkily lopsided for years. Isn’t that the way life is anyway?

Back at home last night as she was processing the whole ordeal we had to pierce her teddy bear’s ears. (Both of them.) The bear did not find it particularly painful.

Day tripper

So today’s post is a bit, er, off my usual beaten path. Rob had a work-related commitment in Mercer County this morning, and since the rest of the day was supposed to be a holiday for him we all tagged along to have a little outing.
Much of Kentucky’s population lives in the Louisville/Lexington/Frankfort corridor, and the rest of the state is where Kentucky jokes come from. I don’t mean to ditch on my Commonwealth brethren, but just to draw attention to the fact that life looks a lot different in the more rural parts of the state than it does in the comparatively urban ones. Ahem.
So Rob and I, being the diligent planners that we are, visited the Mercer County website to figure out how best to spend our day trip. What does it mean when the Mercer County website says they are “within a two hour drive of 2.5 million people”? Is that like being almost urban? Or cosmopolitan by association? What if I said I live within a two-hour drive of lovers and haters and beautiful people and bigots and fools and poets? Does that actually say anything at all about me? So we tried Google instead and decided to spend our day in downtown Harrodsburg and at Old Fort Harrod State Park.
We set off smartly this morning, kids in tow. The house was left clean for a real-estate showing, the kids were dressed very sweetly in matching outfits (store-bought this time); we made an auspicious start with four people in good moods and ready for adventure. The drive went well, Rob dealt quickly and successfully with his business, and we decided to try to find local color in the little town square area. We found a diner and decided to give it a try.
So far, so good. Breakfast served all day, yeah! The mostly senior citizen crowd seemed to think our kids were cute, so they’d likely be forgiven if they made a bit of noise. We placed our order and made friendly faces at the people next to us who were cooing over the flirting baby. Dorothy’s chocolate milk arrived and it was that really viscous, dark brown chocolate milk that I haven’t seen in a long time and I’m sure my organic-chocolate-syrup-stirred-into-lowfat-milk kid had never experienced. She started sucking it down, fast. I saw my food coming and decided to switch the baby to my other knee, to free up my fork hand. That’s when I realized we’d had a poosplosion. My apologies to readers who don’t have kids, but it happens. I’d put him in a hand-me-down diaper we hadn’t tried out yet–big mistake on a trip. There was baby poop all over my skirt and all over the bottom of the fully clothed baby. I make pitiful noises at Rob, who saw the problem, jumped up and handed me a roll of paper towels from the bar (glad it was the down-home kind of place that has paper towel rolls just sitting around). But this was really not a job for paper towels, and the only restroom there was a tiny facility you accessed by walking right through the establishment’s busy kitchen. No thanks. I clutch the dirty baby over the skirt poo and headed for the car.

Unfortunately we’d parked right in front of the restaurant and it also had outdoor seating. I never turned around to see how many people were watching us, but we were only a few feet away so I’m sure we had at least some corner-of-the-eye audience, which is just what you want when you’re trying to clean poo off yourself and your son on a public sidewalk. I grabbed the bag I’d packed for the day and located wipes, a bag and a clean diaper, but to my chagrin I realized Worth’s change of clothes had been left with some other items in the bag I’d packed for church yesterday and accidentally abandoned under our pew. Never fear, I thought, because I keep an emergency change of clothes for both children in a bag in the back of the car.

I fetched the emergency stash and pulled out…a teeny tiny newborn jammie that I could not even have tugged over the feet of my enormous 4-month-old chubster (please notice his tummy rolls in the photo above, jammie laid out on the car seat to show scale). Too bad I hadn’t updated that emergency stash lately! So I scrubbed him down with baby wipes–poo-soaked shortalls pulled down, poo all over lower half of baby; poo-soaked onesie pulled up, poo all over upper half of baby. But I had a Costco pack of wipes and I did get him all cleaned off, in the front seat of the car, with an audience of sidewalk diners, and put him in a fresh diaper. He looked radiantly happy and grinned and cooed at my the whole time I tried to clean my own skirt off with baby wipes, napkins and a bottle of water, all still on the sidewalk and with an audience. At this point I was both totally grossed out and starving. There wasn’t much else I could do, so I walked back into the diner with my soaked but still visibly dirty skirt and my nearly-naked baby. This time our neighbors pointedly avoided looking at me, which might have been for the best. I choked down what turned out to be very disappointing french toast (fried Wonderbread, anyone?) and tried to laugh.

We decided the next course of action should be a stop at a store that sold clean clothes, so we consulted the car’s navigation system for nearby shopping options. Of course there was a Wal-Mart handily right down the road, and I swear I never was so eager to go shopping there. Target would have been green with envy to see my eagerness to rush into that blue bastion of rural capitalism. I abandoned my naked baby in the parking lot with his father and rushed first (sorry, I have priorities) to the adult clothing section, envisioning the purchase of a clean skirt or maybe, in a pinch, a pair of capris. I found the women’s section quite easily (“women’s” being a euphemism for “clothing for bigger gals”), then the tiny skimpy junior shorts, but didn’t see the clothing for people my size. I circled back around. I wandered over to the pots and pans. Was I missing it? It turned out the Wal-Mart only carried a few pitiful little rounders of clothing for average-sized people, and none of them contained skirts or capris.
Now I get that Kentucky holds strong at the seventh-fattest state, but seriously? One cannot even purchase average-sized clothing downstate? I do not hold anything against heavier people, nor do I fit into the scrawny salad-munching soccer mom mold myself, but WTF?? I went in with very low standards–I needed something to wear that was better than a shit-smeared skirt, and I found nothing. Wow.
On to the children’s department. I did a little better there. A Carter’s romper for $4 that said something innocuous about surfing. At least I was able to find clothing in his size that wasn’t emblazoned with a sports team or a cartoon character. I made my purchase, dressed the baby, told myself no one would notice the now-dry discoloration on my skirt anyway, and we drove to the fort.
It was a really hot day to visit an outdoor exhibit, but we figured the place would be bustling anyway on a holiday. Dorothy professed hope she’d be able to pet a lamb as we’d seen on the website, the baby was ready for a nap under any circumstance, and Rob and I were still gamely ready to learn more about our state. Unfortunately, the reality was a bit different. The oppressive heat seemed to have kept most visitors away, the (full-grown) sheep sulked deep out of reach in the shade, and the costumed staffers seemed about to melt. But the trip still felt salvageable until we rounded the corner of the fort to the “primitive” or Native American exhibit. There sat a state park employee, in the dirt, in a manner that I have to say threw me off even more than poop down my skirt in a diner.
Are you familiar with Jay and Silent Bob? Well, the man in the dirt reminded me of Jay as much as anybody, definitely with a stoned sort of look but also with multiple facial piercings, and (I’m sorry, dear reader, I warned you this was off the beaten path) was wearing a loincloth. And a shirt. But on his lower parts, which were seated in dirt, as part of (I think?) an exhibit, he was wearing only a leather loincloth. Jay, from Jay and Silent Bob. With facial piercings. In a loincloth. In the heat. It’s not that I’m a prude, my friend, just that I’m confused about the historical accuracy/necessity/advisability/legality of any Kevin Smith character wearing a loincloth anywhere near me or my children. And yet there he was, talking about curing animal hides (seriously? I couldn’t make this up!) to another visitor standing on our side of the fence. Rob and I exchanged one of those married-people glances that mean 1000 things in one tiny look, and we, well, got the hell out of there.
I was trying to decide if I was going to recover from all that poop and Jay-in-the-loincloth all on the same day, trying hard to focus on a soap-making exhibit that normally would have really interested me, when the phone rang. Our realtor called, and today’s showing went swimmingly! We probably sold the house. The potential buyer will sleep on it first, but intends to write an offer tomorrow. We’re so glad, and so anxious all in one. We need to find a house/pack/mortgage and all of those things. We finally just gave up on our day in Mercer County and drove home to a liquor cabinet that I must remember to pack last at this address and unpack first at the new one, because honestly, on days like this, isn’t that cheaper than therapy?

Pesto from scratch: the sequel


A couple months ago Dorothy and I repotted some basil I’d grown from seed into bigger pots. It was really ready to cut and eat a week or two ago, but we finally got around to it today. Dorothy decided we should eat it on pizza, so tonight I baked vegetable pizzas with pesto, yellow squash and sundried tomatoes. Rob and I thought it was delicious; Dorothy picked off the visible vegetables, dug in, then declared that our basil was “nasty.” Luckily I’d thought to bake a separate pizza with more traditional toppings. If you’ve never made pesto at home, it’s fun and easy. Fill a food processor bowl most of the way with clean basil leaves, then drizzle with olive oil, throw in a handful of pine nuts, a handful of shredded parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not its bastard cousin that comes in a plastic can), sprinkle with salt and whirl. Yum.

So yesterday I went shopping with my mother. Being the generous Nana she is, she bought Dorothy some new clothes from Children’s Place–clothes Dorothy picked out herself. The girl selected one of her new outfits this morning and put it on first thing, instead of the usual time spent lolling in jammies. She put on this shirt with this matching (skimpy) shrug. My first thought was, sheesh, my mother bought my daughter hootchie-girl clothes! Why must little girl clothes be so much like skanky teenager clothes? Can’t they be little and non-sexy for just a few years? Then I got totally knocked off my high horse. My kid said, “Mommy, in this outfit I look just like you! See this shirt? It has a nursing bra!”

A hat for me


All the sunhat-making I did a couple months ago for the kids inspired me to alter the pattern a bit for myself. So I did, and this is the result. It’s made from one of the sheets from my thrift store buying spree of a few weeks ago. I have, it turns out, a particularly small head (spare me the jokes–it’s too easy) and thus have a very difficult time finding hats that fit. I adjusted the toddler pattern up just a wee bit, and now I have a hat to fit my own just-bigger-than-a-toddler (oy) head.

And what did the little guy do all this time? This isn’t a flattering picture of him, but it captures the current era. He’s, like, so over being horizontal. (Insert some little baby eye-rolling at Mom if she suggests he lie on his back.) Now it’s all the rage to be sitting up like a big boy, with a smorgasbord of delicious toys to grab and chew on. He’s at that funny stage where he can get toys to his mouth but can’t let go, so in certain circumstances he really causes himself grief by retracting his hand and taking whatever delicious rattle or pacifier was in his mouth with it. Poor kid.