30 May 2008

things i have recently learned (or re-learned)

1. it's official: i'm a control freak.

i mean, i knew this, but somehow i hoodwinked myself into thinking that during this whole aging process i was making great strides toward normalcy. all it takes, however, is facing a major undertaking (ie two week trip to hawaii for family of six) for the ocd in me to come sprinting back.

i had to be the one to pack everyone's everything (minus the hubby's stuff, although i did designate a maximum capacity of half a suitcase to his belongings--and i should add that he only took up about 2/3rds of his allotted space. this is why i married the man.) i also spent an unnatural amount of time packing the carry-ons, because if i'm going to have to read a book to my child 400 times with no legroom, it had best be a book i love. this meant yes to DUCK ON A BIKE and RUBY THE COPYCAT, and a resounding no to BUCK BUCK THE CHICKEN.

2. three flights is a really long time to get anywhere. we left home at 7 am EST wednesday and stumbled in to my parents' place at 4:30 am EST thursday.

3. in spite of number two, my children were impressively calm and non-whiney on the planes. elle was a walking (okay, sitting) advertisement for delta. every time she saw the logo and accompanying name, she'd say "D-E-L-T-A spells delta!" (note to the ununcle: i think she should earn a commission. or, you know, a lot of extra biscoff cookies.)

4. also entertaining? elle would rotate the button that allows your seat to (marginally) recline in order to "make the plane go higher and higher," although she later recanted this view and said instead that she was adjusting the speed. (fyi: clockwise=faster, counter-clockwise=slower. just in case your flight is running behind sometime.)

5. i didn't fully believe in jet lag until hitting the post-thirty years. turns out it's real.

6. i don't think i realize quite how much i've missed my family until i get to see them again. it's good to be back home.

24 May 2008

bookish fun

the eminent jorth did up a meme that is so exactly up my alley that i had to temporarily revoke my general contempt for memes so i could do it.*

but first the rules! we do need rules.
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.**

here we go...

"It ain't the coffee what'll kill me, but the guy who cleans it up." With Wallace's support, he struggled to his feet. "Oh, you're tough, Jack."

(SALEM FALLS, jodi picoult)

and i hereby tag my fellow book-fiends, mostly so i can get a peek at what y'all are devouring these days...
1. jen
2. kim
3. amelia

and yes, i do realize that the rules said five and that that is not five, it is three. but actually, i am going to tag six people, so please adjust your outrage accordingly.

the following three tagees don't have blogs, but i'm dying to know what you're reading, so either deliver your meme in the form of a comment or email me. or, you know, join the twenty-first century of narcissistic egomaniacs and start your own blogs.

4. loren aka the ununcle
5. kristin aka krisgo
6. gina aka anony (but no nursing textbooks, please)

and if some of the rest of y'all are secret book fiends? you are honorary family. consider yourself tagged.

*i reserve the right to be fickle like that. i also reserve the right to really like the word fickle.

**as you can tell, i did not write the rules. whoever did believes in punctuation, but we shall not hold it against him/her.

22 May 2008

on yard work

we have all these gorgeous things growing, bushes and ferns and bulbs that emerge healthy and full every spring purely because someone else planted them and then we came to live in their house.

the only thing i can truly take credit for is not killing them yet. that, and the weeding, i suppose.

we have a ton of landscaping, so i aim to weed about twenty minutes every day. the problem with this is that it rains for three days straight and when the sun finally comes around, i walk out with a butterknife (my weeding tool of choice) to find the dandelions and clover and saplings have reproduced and are currently pulling off a mean impersonation of the amazon.

the other problem is that i'm very much an all-or-nothing person. the best illustration of this that springs to mind is my college freshman chems class with the prof notorious for refusing to award any A's. the tests in that class made me crazy, because mr chems prof would completely ignore major concepts in the chapter, stuff the textbook droned on about for twelve pages, and he'd focus instead on a name pulled from the two-sentence snippet in the side column on page 312.

and not only would he fixate on the obscure and irrelevant, he'd rephrase the same question four different ways in four separate problems to underscore the lesson: thought you didn't have to read the side columns? you were wrong.

now, what most people did when they didn't have the first crumb of a clue is pick a different answer each time to ensure that at least one of them would be correct. which is logical, i suppose, but i couldn't bring myself to do it. i couldn't guarantee that the best i'd get right is 25%.

i picked the same answer all four times. all or nothing.

which brings me back to the weeds. when i step outside to confront the twenty-seven hours of yard work now looming before me, it's really, really hard (by which i mean impossible) to just do twenty minutes. so then i work for about three and a half hours instead, until the oversized trash bin outweighs me and hubby has taken over dinner duties so the kids don't atrophy in my absence.

at some point, though, i run out of daylight and have to say "good enough." which is easier to do when it's dark and i can't see the remaining weeds.

i'm getting better, in general, at declaring something "good enough." it's freeing, really...i'm able to accomplish so much more with the limited time and energy metered out to me each day. i haven't completely conquered my perfectionist tendencies, but eh.

good enough.

20 May 2008

self-portrait challenge: fresh.3

the thing about parenting, marriage, life, is that these immense endeavors are comprised of a series of small attempts, and while perfection is an elusive target, you do get some things right some of the time. and the hope engendered there is enough to peel me from my bed each morning with fresh anticipation of the new chance that is today.

click here to learn more about self portrait tuesday.

i think she gets it from me

as elle is dressing for the day, i turn around to find her sitting on the laminate floor with her head completely stuffed into her jeans.

me: "um, what are you doing?"

elle: "i'm smelling the inside of my pants."

me: "oh. alrighty then. carry on."

18 May 2008


Yesterday was gorgeous. It started off wicked cold with us bundled in sweatshirts and blankets at Em and Zee's final soccer games of the season, this wayward arctic wind tearing through the field.

But then an early afternoon sun emerged, and I spread a blanket beneath the trees, gathered helicopter pods with Em and Elle, convinced my boys to play hopscotch (Bee has a new-found respect for the difficulty of "girl games"), and floated frisbees across the front lawn.

Every few minutes, a rush of wind flooded our street, twisting the trees. Thousands of maple seed pods spiraled down in slow-motion, winking amber in the sunlight.

It's a beautiful life.

15 May 2008

arachnid empathy

Elle tracking a teensy spider skittering along the ceiling.

"I think he's lost," she tells me. "I think he's going to find his mommy."

11 May 2008

relinquishing the throne (momentarily)

so it was the hubby's birthday this weekend. i was telling him last night that while it's nice that it's his happy day and all, i'm always a teensy bit grumpy because i secretly love the five months when i get to be older than he is. it feels like i'm winning.

and he told me that he's winning more for marrying an older woman, which prompted an argument reminiscent of the second grade playground about who's the bigger winner.

but in honor of his birthday, i will suppress my inner-winner and publicly post a list of arenas in which he is, hands down, the champion.

1. he wins at driving
2. he wins at singing
3. he wins at eyelash length
4. he totally wins at mario kart
5. he wins at public speaking/performance and general charming of a crowd
6. he wins at running
7. he wins at most sports, actually
8. he wins at tolerating household moodiness (mostly mine) with good-natured forbearance

and um, probably a bunch of other stuff too, but as it turns out i'm a rather poor loser and that eight-item list has just about sapped my benevolence. happy birthday, babe.

happy mother's day

Me: What do you want to say to your grandmas?

L: That I love you.

M: How are you feeling, Grandma? And what are you feeling like having, like a present?

Z: I love you, how are you doing, and also what do you want for your birthday when it comes up...that's all I really have.

B: Hi. Happy Mother's Day. PS Send candy. Are you actually writing that, Mom? Cool! But I really did mean it.


09 May 2008

we love mud

Two weeks ago, I mentioned a friend who unexpectedly lost her husband. The boutique community on eBay has gathered around Michele (known as Mud) and her children through a benefit launch in their honor. All of the proceeds will be donated to Mud's family in an effort to ease their financial burden a little.

I'm thrilled with how many designers are taking part in the WELOVEMUD benefit launch--thrilled, but honestly not surprised. Mud is one of the most endearing people I know.

Please click here to learn more about the launch, or click here to go directly to the auction listings.

Seriously, folks, there's something for everyone and in all price ranges--casual tees and lounge sets; funky, euro boutique sets; jewelry for mum; hair bows and clippies; boots; doll furniture; even delectable desserts. Please consider bidding to show Mud a little love. :)

And now about my contribution...

I thought I'd give y'all an inside glimpse of our photography sessions. Usually I end up with a dozen shots like these, where Elle looks all poised and serene:

But the truth is that most of the time she is flapping her arms and performing mini jigs and sticking her fingers in her ears. She's a delight, but those photos don't quite embody the mood I'm aiming for.

So for everyone with active children who has emailed or ASQ'd me to ask how on earth I get Elle to stand still, the answer is: mostly I don't. The photos I show y'all in my listings are the five percent that didn't end up like this:

Be encouraged. Your kid is normal.

07 May 2008

swimmy picks 2008

a new bathing suit is not in elle's future, given that we are trying to be frugal with our limited cash flow, so naturally i've been assaulted by a slew of suits i just adore.

clockwise from top left:
1. Polka Dot Halter Bikini and Skirt by Ondade Mar (Garnet Hill)
2. Gingham One-Piece, Toddler by Eberjay (Garnet Hill)
3. Lollipop Halter Swimsuit and Skirt by Ondade Mar (Garnet Hill)
4. Printed Swimsuit in Red by Mini Boden
5. Baby Cropped Baggies (not swimwear, but uber cute and perfect for the beach) by Mini Boden
6. Urban Jungle Tankini and Skort by MODKID
7. Polka Dot Halter One-Piece by Ondade Mar (Garnet Hill)
8. Organic Bamboo Swim Cover-Up by MODKID

06 May 2008

self-portrait challenge: fresh.1

click here to learn more about self portrait tuesday.

03 May 2008

Another edition of Who My Kids Are Today

Bee has got this zany sort of humor that reminds me so much of me at his age (and, um, me right now, actually). His latest method of self-amusement is asking if he can change his name, and I'm all, sure, knock yourself out. He hasn't quite yet settled on the perfect title, but somehow all the candidates bear a close semblance to super-hero identities. Humble and funny.

Zee insists (with his signature scowl) that he is not any good at reading, though he reads quite fluently, and that he is not any good at soccer, though he's improved about twelve hundred percent since this time last year. He's quite feisty in the goal, and particularly good at running alongside the play, coaching members of both teams (his advice is oddly spot-on). If either coach is ever out with the measles, we've totally got it covered.

Em does this thing with his eyes that just makes it hard to be his mother. He bats his eyelashes and smiles like a little imp when he wants something from me, and when he's sad he tilts his chin so he can slide those liquid orbs up and then blink at me**, a la bassett hound style, to ensure I absorb the full extent of his heartbreak. My scolding goes like this: "Don't look at me like that, scold scold scold, etc., and do you not recall me just telling you not to look at me like that?!"

**Exhibit A:

**Exhibit B:

I am in love with the way Elle phrases things. She points to a bald dandelion stem and says, "Mommy, that flower already happened." Today in the van she was doing her typical announcing of whatever she sees on the road, and as a couple on a moped puttered by, she commentated: "And all I see now is a vrooming girl and a vrooming boy." She's also very good at the youngest child syndrome, aka How Might I Make Everyone Else Do My Work For Me; when I tell her to put away her socks she says, "Mmmmn...how 'bout you do it, Mommy?" And when I'm all Not on your life, kiddo, I usually turn around a minute later to find that one of her brothers has done it for her.

She does, however, make really cute worms and ducks from foam shapes (and no, aside from finding her a sticky glue-stick, I did not assist her in any way):

They make me old and keep me young all at the same time. It's confusing, but in a lovely sort of way.

02 May 2008

more on the books

April's booklist:

ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT (Jordan Sonnenblick)
TANGERINE (Edward Bloor)
ELSEWHERE (Gabrielle Zevin)
HOW I LIVE NOW (Meg Rosoff)
LOVE, STARGIRL (Jerry Spinelli)

Faves this time 'round were SKULDUGGERY, HOW I LIVE NOW, and THE ACTUAL REAL REALITY. The first has this fabulous dry-wit banter (please overlook the skeleton on the cover; this is NOT horror by any stretch of the word). The second and third are both set in England, although HOW I LIVE NOW is a much more disturbing tale, while THE ACTUAL REAL REALITY has a much younger voice and a funny, light plot.

Enjoy! And if you've read something fantabulous lately, do drop me a note.