Category Archives: parenting

We pass the time

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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.

My house is a mess and the newspaper pissed me off

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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?

A busy week

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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!

A before and after

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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

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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!

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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

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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!