Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A trip down memory lane

I was reading though some of my old files this afternoon and found this, written in December as Liza was starting to try to self-feed. Boy, she's come a long way since then, as have the Cheerios, which she can now fling as far as her room upstairs, which involves going around several 180-degree turns that bend the laws of physics. Anyway, here's where we were a few months ago:
Babies of America!

Are you ready for the fun and adventure of self-feeding, but find all that chewing and swallowing a little tedious? I did, too, until I developed my innovative method for making meals fun again. And I share these secrets with you in my new DVD, 457 Ways to Not Eat Cheerios.

This DVD will revolutionize your eating habits. Never before have so many techniques for not eating been collected in one location. This DVD contains tips for all levels of expertise from beginning babies to expert eaters, including:

# 1 Stare at the Cheerio without making any move toward it.
#14 Flail blindly at the Cheerio while looking in the opposite direction.
#56 Rake Cheerio into hand, then release it as your hand comes to your mouth.
#211 Carefully pick up Cheerio in a pincer grip and bring it slowly toward your mouth. Just when you’re about to put it in, get distracted by something else in the room and flail wildly with your arms, flinging the Cheerio into space.
#389 Use sticky glop on fingers to adhere Cheerio to your hand, then bring it to your mouth. Insert hand and Cheerio into mouth. Allow Cheerio to remain stuck to your hand as you remove it from your mouth. Allow Cheerio to fall off your hand several minutes later (preferably onto a clean surface). Variation: After removing your hand from your mouth, pretend you think the Cheerio has already fallen off and bang your hand loudly on a flat surface, pulverizing the Cheerio into inedible dust.

Using these techniques I have managed to sit through meals every day for more than a month while actually feeding myself only two Cheerios! And the tips aren’t just for Cheerios – they can be adapted to work on virtually any finger food your parents put in front of you.

This DVD is thoughtfully designed for babies of all ages and skill levels. Burned onto high-grade DVD material, this is one reference disk that’s designed to last even longer than that cup of Cheerios your parents have been trying to feed you for the past three weeks!

Act now and I’ll include two special bonuses: my groundbreaking pamphlet “25 Easy Tricks To Gross Out Your Parents,” and a signed copy of my bestselling how-to book, Marathon Crying: How To Outdo Yourself and Outwit Your Parents. Learn how to poop straight up the back of your diaper, covering your mother’s lap without touching your own pants … and find out how to keep your motivation when you’re in your third hour of late-night crying and you’re tempted to give in to sleep. It’s all included – but only if you act now!

Send $29.95 plus shipping and handling to:
Liza Woods
PO Box 000, Department D
Richmond, KY 40476

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chipotle - not quite as good as you think

Let's see, my regular order is a:
barbacoa 285 calories
fajita 100 calories
burrito 330 calories
half the rice 120 calories
w/ cheese 110 calories
sour cream 120 calories
guacamole 170 calories
corn salsa 100 calories
tomatillo salsa 28 calories

Which means that if I eat the whole thing, which I almost always do, I'm ingesting more than 1300 calories. Mother of god, that explains a lot. Note to self: order the salad next time. Better yet, order a double whopper with cheese ... it's got fewer calories. If you'll excuse me, I've got an appointment with an exercise bike ...

gaaah ... more cute shoes

My god, they just keep coming. Anybody heard of Soft Star shoes? I'm hesitant to spend $65 on a pair of shoes if I'm not sure they'll stay on Her Royal Tootsies, but MY GAWD, WOULD YOU LOOK AT THESE:

Yes, those are indeed soft leather cowboy boots. Must ... not ... give ... in ... to ... temptation ... (yet) ...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Give me a child until he is seven ...

Jason and I have been watching a series of British documetaries that follow a series of children over the course of more than 20 years to see how their initial class and education differences play out in their lives. The first film, 7 Up, was absolutely fascinating, with its upper class twit 7-year-olds saying they read the Times for the stock numbers, and its East End kid with the barely understandable accent and a clear vision of wanting to be a jockey when he grew up. The directors of the initial film visited the children every seven years, making 14 Up, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, and 43 Up. We've made it through 21, and have 28 sitting on top of the tv waiting for us to have time to view it.

The series is really interesting, as you can see how the kids change (or don't), and how their "station" in life changes (or doesn't) over the years. I can't say it's the best-filmed documentary, and the fact that each of them was designed to be somewhat stand-alone means that there's a lot of repeats of early footage in the later films. Most annoyingly, the voiceover repeatedly intones the wisdom, "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man," I guess to indicate that the kids' basic personalities and futures are pretty much set by the time of the first film. While I sort of agree with that, the all-American, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and rise to riches from rags part of me wants to say that none of the kids are stuck where they start ... their future shouldn't be absolutely determined by what they do at age 7.

Over the last couple of days, however, I've started to think that maybe there's something to that idea of traits that are set in stone at a very early age. At Liza's last OT appointment, her therapist was discussing some of the stuff we'll need to continue to work on even once Liza has been discharged from the therapy program. According to Denise, a lot of the quirks and problems that Liza has are ones that will probably follow her for the rest of her life ... she may always lag a little behind physically and then burst ahead to catch up with her peers. She may always prefer harder physical treatment to softer movements (she prefers to be bounced or jostled - hard - to being rocked or soothed, and her recent favorite game is for me to roll a big playground ball so that it whacks her in the head, which sets off a round of giggling and "more more more"), so she will probably prefer contact sports like soccer over less-contact-sports like softball. Denise described some of the challenges her other patients have faced as older children, and how their parents have used the techniques they learned when the children were babies to help them deal with the older problems. It made a lot of sense to think that we haven't "fixed" Liza, we've just helped her adjust to her current developmental level, and that we'll need to keep working with her as she grows up. And the idea that the types of movements and soothers that she likes now will still appeal as she grows older makes sense, as disturbing as it is to hear that my daughter is likely to always "like it rough."

I was also thinking about this idea of "give me a child until he is seven" today as I read through the folder of my old report cards and standardized test scores that my parents dug out of a drawer. The comments from the teachers especially drove home how much of my personality was intact at a really early age. "Uses sense of humor to deal with conflicts." "Finds open-ended problems difficult and frustrating." "Prefers concrete problems with a concrete answer." "Needs to improve working with others in a team." "Needs to spend more time on classwork and less time goofing off." "Does exactly what is required of her, but no more."

Thankfully I've stopped crying when confronted by those stupid logic problems my gifted and talented teacher used to torment me with, but other than that, a lot of what the teachers commented on is still with me, for good or for ill. Looks like I'm going to need to bust my butt over the next few years to make sure I get Liza shaped into what I want her to be 20 years from now.

The other thing that struck me as I read through the teachers' comments was that all of my early teachers - up through about third grade - talk about my great sense of humor and charming personality. But neither is mentioned after that, although a couple mention my stellar work ethic in 6th grade. I don't know if the teachers had more important things to write about, the hormones were kicking in and I was becoming more sullen, or if I was starting to show very early signs of the depression that wouldn't be diagnosed for another 20 years, but it was something that really jumped out at me.

I have fond memories of my early school years, but I don't remember a lot of good stuff from 4th, 5th or 6th grade. Those were the years I was too tall, too fat, too smart, and too dorky to fit in anywhere ... even the kids who played Dungeons and Dragons at recess wouldn't let me join in, if that gives you any clue to my social status. I'm easy to find in the class photos, always in the back row with the bad perm, chipmunk cheeks and huge glasses. I wore cowboy boots and clothes my mother made for me, and remember that the only "cool" shoes I could find that fit the summer before 7th grade were pink leather docksiders. I did not have the personality to pull off pink docksiders ... I'm not sure anyone does, actually.

Anyway, it was interesting to read back through all that stuff in light of the documentaries, and to think about what the documentary folks might have predicted for me. What about you? What did your teachers write about you? Is it still true?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Practicing my editing skills

My broadcast journalism professor would be horrified at the quality of the video I'm sharing ... a prepared journalist is always supposed to be checking out angles and lighting and such. But a prepared Mama is lucky to have her camera nearby when the kid does something cool, so you're stuck with this. At least I found the video editing software that came with my computer, so I could cut out the most boring sections!

If the embedded video doesn't work for you, try the link below:

She's all grown up ...

What happens when I let Liza run around without a diaper to air out her rashy bottom?

Awwww ... baby's first wedgie!

And here she is, trying to flirt despite the fact that her pants are so far up her butt that I think you can see them in her throat ...

Monday, August 21, 2006


I am a huge fan of the Robeez baby shoes, which have soft soles and such good design that even Little Miss Manual Dexterity can't get them off, but I can whip them off with one hand because I know the Secret. They've been great while Liza has been learning to walk, because they protect the tops and bottoms of her feet without impairing her ability to balance and stride natually. Plus, they're ridiculously cute.

Liza has two pairs right now, a pair of white sandals, and a pair of blue-and-white ones that look like hip athletic shoes. As the weather cools off we'll have to retire the sandals, which have born the brunt of Liza's crawling across filthy carpets and have been washed half a dozen times with no apparent ill effects. The sneakers will probably fit into the fall, but I need to start thinking about which style to get when it's time to move her up a size, because her current pairs are getting less baggy every day.

Here are the contenders, at least for right now:
The Mary Janes:

The pink saddle shoes:

The white saddle shoes:

The same trainers she already has:

The wicked cool (but masculine) dragon shoes:

The girlie trainers:

The red flowers:

The red monkeys:

The moderately masculine geckos:

Gaaah, too many cute choices! I think I need to look through Liza's wardrobe for fall and winter and see which colors would go best with her outfits. Because there's no point having cute pink trainers if all of your clothes are red. At least now that Liza is walking more I won't have to worry quite so much about how badly the tops show dirt ... her white sandals got pretty grungy after five minutes of crawling in the convention center. Nothing that a diaper wipe couldn't handle, but still, who wants to be worried about wiping off shoes if they don't have to?

So come on, loyal readers - which styles do you prefer? Cast your vote by buying them and sending them to us (in the 18-24 month size, please) [yeah, right], or by leaving a comment.

And yes, K, I know you're probably going to vote for the monkeys ... I don't suppose one of your street artist buddies could work on a canvas as small as a plain leather Robeez shoe, could they? Because that would be SO cool ...

Side trip

Aquarium junkie that I am, I viewed the car trip home on Sunday that took us right through Cincinnati when Liza was awake and happy as a sign, one that read "Drag your husband to the Newport Aquarium before he realizes how much it's going to cost."

The Newport Aquarium is a nice enough destination, as aquariums go, large enough to have nice exhibits but small enough that you can do a once-over in around an hour, if you keep moving. I'm a sucker for even crappy aquariums, so we would have gotten there eventually, but the real draw on Sunday was a new exhibit they have open this year ... a touch tank full of sharks. Yes, real sharks, with real teeth, where you can stick your hand in the water and pet them. True, the largest shark is maybe four feet long and probably would choke if it bit off more than a couple of your fingers, but it's still a pretty cool idea. In case you were wondering, they feel like fine grit sandpaper ... not smooth like a dolphin, or slimy like a fish. And yes, I touched one of the large ones, not just the little 12-inchers hiding near the water jets.

Liza was better behaved this time than she was during our trip to the aquarium in Baltimore, where I had to sing the same lullaby continuously while constantly moving or she started to shriek so piercingly that I feared the tanks would start cracking. Like the Baltimore aquarium, the Newport Aquarium doesn't allow strollers, so we were stuck with the hip carrier that I've decided Liza hates, because she once again started complaining as soon as she went in. That lasted for about 10 minutes, and for the rest of the hour or so we spent there we either carried her without the hip hammock or let her walk between us, holding our hands.

Liza wasn't so upset this time that she ignored the fish ... she wasn't so interested in any where we had to hold her to look at them, but she liked the tanks where she could stand on her own and bang away at the glass. Yes, I've become the type of parent I used to sneer at, the one who prefers to let her kid bang on the glass rather than listen to the screaming that is sure to happen when they're told to stop.

Liza's looking at a tank full of all the types of fish featured in Finding Nemo, which the aquarium staff thoughtfully flanked on both sides with park benches so the kids could get up close and personal with their cartoon buddies. Liza's never seen the movie, but apparently that wasn't a prerequisite for finding the exhibit entertaining.

Nemo was cool, and she liked walking through all of the underwater tunnels, and she liked the exhibit with the big turtles that swam right next to the glass where she was standing. But her favorite thing in the whole aquarium?

The red velvet bordello-esque round couch in the center of the room full of jellyfish exhibits. The kid could have cared less about the jellyfish, and she didn't even want to look at the uber-cheesy jellyfish chandelier over the couch. All she wanted to do was circle that couch over and over, petting it. And by that point our arms were so tired, Jason and I were ALL about letting her do that.

In deference to the fact that the admission to the aquarium set us back almost $40, I didn't even think about getting souvenirs (although the toddler shirt with the smiling toothy shark saying "Teething bites" was tempting). Since Liza doesn't seem to be that interested in the fish right now, I doubt we'll be heading back to that aquarium again soon, but it's definitely on my list of things to do when she's a couple years older. After all, how many places can you go to pet a shark?

Back from the Northern Trek

As I mentioned in a previous post, my cousin's daughter got married this weekend. Not only did this make me feel ancient (but ... I remember when you weren't even born yet!), it also gave me a perfect excuse to show Liza off to all of my far-flung relations, most of whom we only see every four or five years. My cousin and her daughters flew in from California, my parents drove in from Delaware, and we made the trek north on I-75 for about an hour longer than Liza really wanted to be in the car.

The ceremony was lovely, the bride was beautiful, and the rain let up long enough for the guests to enjoy the bridal party's exit without getting soaked. Here's Liza and I, being threatened with execution at the hands (teeth?) of a giant carriage horse:

We had a couple of hours to kill between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the reception, so we tried to run Liza around a little so she'd take a nap before dinner.

Liza was determined to set foot in every square foot of Michigan, I think, judging by her willingness to walk ... and walk ... and walk. Between the walking and her trying to throttle me with my own necklace, Liza had a full day:

From Sunday's job ads

It's better to buy used, because, you know, the value of those NEW salespeople depreciates so quickly. snort

Monday, August 14, 2006

Seller's remorse

Do I really want to sell my quilts on a site that also sells these:

Yes, that's an oak toilet seat, covered in dogbone print fabric and braided trim attached with nailheads. For $70. Don't believe me? Check for yourself:


Saturday, August 12, 2006

making up for lost time

Yes, I realize that I said I was going to post more frequently, and then dropped off the face of the earth for a week. Here are some of the things I should have mentioned in the past week:

  • A low-power FM station in Massachusetts has a kid's show every Saturday morning. The show's guiding principle: "Based on the radical notion that music for kids shouldn’t want to make parents gouge out their ears." It's a mix of actually listenable kids' music, plus rockin' music that no kid should grow up without. Magic Carpet Ride, anyone? You can sign up for a podcast of the show, or you can download MP3s of the shows and either listen on your computer or burn them to CDs. I just downloaded the most recent three or four shows to take with us for our car trip next weekend.
  • Congratulations to my cousin David and his wife Cynthia, who have adopted a baby boy! I'm not sure who is more excited, the parents or the grandparents, who stopped by our place earlier this week on their way down to see the baby. Baby Miles is still having some breathing issues and hasn't come home from the hospital yet, so send some good thoughts in the direction of North Carolina, everybody.
  • As I mentioned in a previous post, we sold three of our Hard Rock Cafe glasses (Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe) on eBay for $120. Considering the fact that Jason wasn't too thrilled with the initial idea of selling them, and he was surprised that we even got a starting bid of $10, I think he TOTALLY owes me dinner someplace nice. Or at least fewer nasty looks when I mention bidding on more kids' clothes ...
  • Football preseason has started. Whoop-de-freakin-do. Well, at least I have an excuse to get lots of quilting done in the evenings a couple of nights a week.
  • I spent a lot of time last week rooting out more ivy (bwahahahah! The Duchess of Destruction returns!) and trying to turn what was once an ivy- and bamboo-infested disaster area into something that wouldn't turn off potential homebuyers if we ever put the house up for sale. Here's what the area that didn't get done looks like:

Two completely packed trashcans full of weeding and pruning later, here's the "after" in the section I worked on:

  • I have a shop on, an online marketplace for handmade goods. Right now it's small, since I just started it yesterday, but at least it's a start. If you'd like to check it out, you can find it at: . I'm open to feedback, so feel free to trash (or praise) the site all you want. And check out the other stuff that's for sale, too - there are lots of cool items from lots of cool people. Support crafters! Buy stuff! Get ideas you can rip off to make your own versions for a fraction of the price!
  • And, oh yeah, LIZA STARTED WALKING! Last week at Liza's OT appointment the therapist predicted she would start walking before our next appointment, to which I replied, "She'd better, because we've got a wedding to go to the following weekend, and I don't want people pitying my still-crawling daughter if I can help it." Wouldn't you know, by Thursday the kid managed two steps (after about five minutes of encouragement from both parents), on Friday she managed four steps without any encouragement, and today we ran her back and forth between us a dozen times or more, increasing the distance up to about 6 feet. She even managed a 90-degree turn during one lap, which I thought for sure was going to end up with her piling face-first into the carpet, but she did just fine. My little baby, she's all grown up ...

eBay purchases

I've been spending WAY too much time on eBay, and not just because I've been selling off my grandmother's stuff. No, I've been selling off some of our stuff, too, and buying a few things for Liza's wardrobe for this fall. The $120 we got for three Hard Rock Cafe beer glasses just about pays for all the Hanna Andersson stuff I've bought for her, so I don't feel like I'm doing too badly. And the Hanna stuff is just too cute to NOT buy, even if it does sell for a lot more than my usual consignment purchases. Not familiar with the wonders of Hanna Andersson? Check out their web site:

Here's Liza, modeling some of our recent purchases, which include one of their signature "Hanna" play dresses with matching leggings:

We also got a playdress with matching tights:

Oh, and did I mention that the tights have a secret?

Yes, Susie, these are the "monkey butt" tights I was obsessing over when you were out here. They're part of the "Jungle Journey" line that Hanna had last year ... each year they come out with the same general pieces in a different theme. This year it's barnyard stuff, I think, while last year was Jungle Journey and the year before was By the Sea. The things are so cute, and if you miss out on them while they're in the catalogs, your only recourse is to get them on eBay. I'm still trying to track down the Jungle Journey hoodie jacket to go with her dress, and there are some other lines I might see if I can get a decent price on.

I have a confession to make - I've wanted a pair of the By the Sea pants for my kid since before I was pregnant. Half of the reason I had a kid was to have something to dress in the By the Sea pants with crab embroidery ... and then they stopped selling them. As if having to live down the monkey butt tights wasn't enough, check out what I got Liza in the next size up, so it should fit later this winter and going into spring and summer:

The By the Sea pants with the crab on the ass, just like I wanted!! I had to roll up the pants twice to keep them off of her feet for the photo, but the waist fits now, so she could even wear them this winter if I really wanted to push it.

The bad news about this stuff is that the used pieces of discontinued lines sell for as much (sometimes more) than new pieces of their current lines. So while I can buy, say, a new jacket for $35 at the Hanna web site, I might have to pay $38 for the Jungle Journey one, if I get sucked into a bidding war. I've decided to put my foot down and say that I don't need any of this stuff badly enough to pay more for used than I would for new ... after all, she's only going to get to wear each outfit a handful of times, thanks to my penchant for buying way too many clothes for the kid.

The good news is that the used pieces of the discontinued lines sell for as much (sometimes more) than the new pieces of their current lines. That means that as long as I am buying in-demand items, keeping them stain-free and in relatively good shape, I'll probably be able to sell them for almost as much as I paid for them when Liza finally outgrows them. Even if I lose $10 or $15 on the transaction, that's still less than I would pay for a new, less cute outfit from Target. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Plus, I get to put a crab and a monkey face on my daughter's heinie. Woohoo!


Even if you have a pokey old dialup connection, you should take the time to download this extremely short video, because MY DAUGHTER FINALLY WALKED!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

YouTube recommendation

If you've got a few minutes to be astounded by how much free time some people have, check out:

It's pretty cool. Not as cool as Mentos and Diet Coke, but close.
(in case the embedded thingee below doesn't work, it's at )

Friday, August 04, 2006

Consignment haul, part 1

For a grand total of about $130, I got:

A whole lot of clothes, including a snowsuit for $10 (back left), and a really cute Halloween outfit:

for $5. Speaking of Halloween, check out the black pants in the bottom left of this photo (and the bottom right of the first photo):

Yes, I bought my daughter PLEATHER PANTS!!!! They're totally going with the rasta hat as her Biker Baby Halloween costume ... plus, they look like they're waterproof, so I'm thinking of using them as emergency snowpants, too. The other outfit in the photo above is my best score - two shirts and a pair of corduroy pants, all from Land's End, all for $6. Heck, yeah! Almost as good a deal as getting this:

fleece top and matching leggings for $1. Yes, you read right - one dollar. And people wonder why my kid has such cute clothes ... it's because I can't resist a ridiculously good bargain, and the ladies who sell at the consignment sales generally have pretty good taste.

Oh, and here's the rest of the haul, also included in the original $130 figure:

You'll notice that Liza is horrified by the idea of new toys and wants nothing to do with them. NOT. I still need to throw them all in the tub to clean them off, but she's going to love some of this stuff. And if she doesn't, dude, I think the most I paid was $5 for the baseball toy. We can afford for her to not like some of this stuff, unlike when we go and shell out $14 for a spinny top thing that she still can't figure out how to work.

Now, I'm off to get some shut-eye so I can be up bright and early to hit the half-price day at the consignment sales tomorrow morning ... there were a few things I bypassed because they were too expensive at full price, but I'll jump on them at half price. Because you know, my kid needs more clothes, and more Little People playsets, and more Sesame Street videos, and ...

Home lessons - part 1

Over the course of our marriage, Jason and I have lived in two apartments, three houses, and a couple of temporary hotels and/or furnished apartments during moves. Each of these has taught me something about being a homeowner, something I didn't know 11 years ago when I first went out on my own. Here are some of the lessons my homes have taught me:

  1. When you strip off ugly wallpaper, at least 50% of the time you are going to find a wall that's so nasty you'll wish you'd left the ugly stuff up.
  2. That's where sponge painting comes in handy.
  3. Even if the house was built in the 1950s, that doesn't mean all the wiring is up to date ... there's always the chance that somebody's uncle Guido came in and "helped" add some new lights, using technology that was state of the art at the beginning of (last) century.
  4. When you are trying to buy a house, almost every house in your price range can be described as having one or two unfortunate traits in common. For example, when we bought our first house, we were in the "shag carpet and/or waterbed" price range, because almost every house we looked at contained one or the other (sometimes both).
  5. That thing living under your deck may not be a bunny ... it may, in fact, be two adult raccoons and six kits, all of which have to be dragged out screaming and crying before being euthanized.
  6. Just because your yard looks level when you buy the house doesn't mean that it is. We hauled 19 bags of leaves out of our first backyard, and found out one corner was almost a foot lower than level, and we hadn't noticed before because that's where all the leaves had collected.
  7. Need to sell a house? Call on St. Joseph for help. It worked for the lady who sold us our first house.
  8. And if that doesn't work, call my mother and get her to give you a transplant of one of her friend Grace's ostrich ferns. Twice we've planted them, and neither time have we stayed in the house long enough to see them the following spring.
  9. When you use the wet/dry vacuum on the "wet" setting, it's important to a) empty out the dry stuff first, and b) remember to empty out the water afterward. Otherwise, a few months later you'll realize, So THAT'S where the smell is coming from ...
  10. Paint the trim first, then paint the walls. If you make a mistake it's easier to wipe latex paint off of the trim than it is to wipe oil based paint off of the walls.
  11. Textured ceilings are evil. Practical for the builder, I'm sure, but evil for the homeowner, who gets stuck trying to shave off the bumpy bits so they can install crown molding, and has to be extra careful when painting near the ceiling because there is NO way to get paint off of the textured stuff.
  12. Install a chandelier by myself? Rewire a chandelier? Patch huge holes in the wall? Relight the pilot light in a gas water heater? Singlehandedly rip out 400 square feet of carpeting and install most of a laminate floor in the same day? Yes, I can do that.
  13. My dad can reglaze old windows while standing on a ladder in the steaming sunshine. Not that he wants to do it again, but it's good to know that he CAN.
  14. Yes, it is possible to shoehorn a powder room into a space that is less than 3 feet wide, but it's a bitch to paint it.
  15. Ivy is evil, and Virginia creeper doubly so. The best way to rid the world of evil is to douse it with Roundup, wait a few weeks until you have tricked it into thinking you've forgotten about it, then go in and rip its weakened little tentacles out, one by one. Curse the day that ivy was invented. Then take a spade and turn over all the earth where the evil used to live, ripping out any roots you uncover while doing so. Then hoe all the turned over earth, ripping out any roots that rear their ugly heads. Curse whoever planted the ivy in your yard. Plant your replacement plants, ripping out any existing roots you find (trust me, they're there, so keep ripping). Put down mulch, then use at least double the recommended amount of Preen. Be vigilant for the next, oh, forever, about ripping out the returnees. Curse the day you decided to rip out the ivy in the first place.
  16. Or, forget all of the steps in #15 and just move. Works for me and cleaning the oven, which I have never, ever, done, not once in 11 years of adulthood. There are benefits to moving every couple of years, you know.
  17. If the disclosure sheet on the house you're planning to buy mentions that the basement gets "a little damp in heavy rain," what that actually means is that when you get the first heavy rain of the spring, you're going to spend all of the storm in the basement with the wet/dry vac, trying to suck up the water that's flowing from one corner of your basement toward the pile of cardboard boxes you haven't unpacked yet. I've about come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a dry basement. The International Space Station probably has an area the astronauts consider their basement, and I bet it's got water issues, too.
  18. Floors will squeak loudest in all of the locations where you need to walk to put a sleeping baby to bed.
  19. If you paint two walls of your bathroom and look at the drying paint and say, "huh, I really don't like that much," for god's sake quit painting and go find a better color. You are not going to like your minty fresh bathroom any better two years later, and it will be even harder to convince yourself to repaint it at that point.
  20. If your house is 95% hardwood floors and 5% hard-to-clean wool area rugs, guess where the cats will puke 90% of the time? We're on our second can of carpet cleaner, and that's all been used one 2-foot square at a time.
  21. Nobody ever paints the tops of the trim around doors.
  22. The expensive streak-free paper towels combined with the expensive streak-free window cleaner really does mean you don't end up with streaky windows.
  23. Just because you can get the mattress through the door and up the stairs doesn't mean you can get the box spring up the same way.
  24. Sometimes one person or one family is the catalyst needed to pull a whole neighborhood together, and when they move away the neighborhood drifts back apart. I am not that person, but I know her, and I was privileged to live across the street from her for more than a year. We miss you, Joy.
  25. All it takes is one person painting their living room red, and the rest of the neighborhood follows suit. There are five or six of us on our street now ... I'm such a trend setter!

Oh, there are so many more, but I think this is getting too long for one post. If I remember, I'll post on this again later. In the meantime, what have you learned from your homes? Talk amongst yourselves ...

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Many thanks to my former coworker, Mary Ellyn, for the link to learn how to make oobleck, as illustrated in this video:

And yes, that noise at the end is my daughter wiping out and hitting her eyebrows on a shelf on the way down ... the bruise should fade in a day or two (or 14).


Liza isn't much for displays of affection ... she tolerates the kissing and the cuddling and seems to enjoy it, but she rarely wants more than we force on her, and she never initiates the contact with us. So while she'll hug us when we ask her to, she never comes up and hugs us spontaneously (unless you count her recent trick of crawling over to wherever I'm standing and forcing her head in between my calves ... she reminds me of one of those dogs that has to lean on you whenever you're around). This is okay, because I think having a constantly nuzzling child would annoy me after a while, but an occasional hug or kiss would be nice, thank you very much.

Recently, however, I've found a way to weasel some "sugar" out of her. She's been resisting going down at bedtime for the past few weeks, and when she does, a lot of nights Jason will go up and get her calmed down. Usually this involves getting her to lie down again (because she's hopping up and down in her crib while she whines) and then sitting by her crib, singing songs until she's ridiculously drowsy. I've started a variation of this routine at naptime - when I initially put her down to sleep I now sit by the crib and sing a few rounds of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" until she looks drowsy.

While I sing, I stick my hand through the bars of the crib and lightly stroke her arm or hand, whatever is closer. It's sweet enough that as soon as I start stroking her arm, she quits fussing and looks at me with her eyes at half mast, and you can virtually see them cranking shut, one micrometer at a time. But what's even sweeter is that when I stop stroking her arm, she reaches out and grabs my finger and holds on ... sort of like those dogs who will convince you to pet them by coming up under wherever your arm happens to be in hopes that you'll scratch them out of reflex. It's the first time that she's shown any indication that she wants me to continue any sort of display of affection, and by god, I'll keep stroking until my arm falls off, if that's what she wants.

consignment craziness

The churches in our town hold two days of children's clothing consignment sales, one in the fall and one in the spring. While I've been an avid shopper of these since before Liza was born, this is the first time I've participated as a seller. And boy, is it an eye-opening experience.

First of all, the ladies who run the Little Ones' consignment sale for the Methodist church are so organized it makes my head hurt. When the day came to register for seller numbers, they managed to handle 150 people in slightly over an hour, including the women who had been in line since 6 am or before so they could make sure they got a good spot in the check-in process. I got to the line at 9:15 (it opened at 9) and I was seller number 128 out of a possible 150 ... 10 minutes later and I would have been out of luck. Once I got to the head of the line, it was even more organized ... they even had color-coded lines on the floor to direct people to the right booths, for god's sake.

In order to keep the sale itself organized, each seller has to do things EXACTLY the same way ... the organizers dictate what type of hangers to use, how to hang the clothes on them, where to put the safety pins, even what font to use on the computerized inventory list. Anal? Yes. Maddening if you screw something up and have to fix it? Yes. Necessary if you're going to bring any sort of order to the sale of more than 20,000 pieces of merchandise? Yes.

Today's check-in of the merchandise was no different. The ladies have thought of everything, including someone to help you pile all the stuff onto hanging racks and wagons and carts and whatever else you need to get your goods out of the parking lot and into the church basement. I only had to wait in line for about 15 minutes before they were ready for me ... one lady to inspect each of my items for stains/tears/excess wear, and one to check the tag against the inventory. They only rejected two of my items, and those I went ahead and donated to the charity pile they have for after the sale. I had some seller spaces left over after my merchandise was finished, so one of my friends sent some of her baby and maternity stuff to sell, too. If every item sells for the price we have listed (which it won't, especially since the second day of the sale everything is 50% off) we'll make $296 between us. Not a bad take, considering all I had to do was spend a few hours sorting and hanging and tagging.

The real eye opener wasn't how organized the sale is, but how jam-packed with stuff the sales floor is today. For past sales I have gotten there around 10 or 12 on the first day, when things weren't so crowded you couldn't move, and I was pretty impressed at the amount of stuff available then. But people who work the sale get first crack at stuff the day before the public gets in, and people who sell at the sale get second crack a day early, so I was really only seeing the dregs of what all the ladies in the know had left behind.

Turns out, the ladies who work and/or sell buy a LOT of the stuff. For example, during past sales I've seen one or two Boppys for sale. Today there was a pile of like 10 of them. Usually I see one or two high chairs and things like Exersaucers ... today there was a pile of Exersaucers that was waist-high, and more were coming in as I was leaving. The clothes racks were so full that it took two people to hang up the new stuff coming in - one person to hold back the clothes already in place, and another to quickly jam the new stuff into the opening. I totally have to bring my camera tonight, as the place is impressive ... it looks like a Babies R Us exploded all over the church basement.

As I was checking in my stuff, I was eyeing up the other sellers' merchandise, trying to spot the good stuff. One lady in front of me had priced all of her daughter's 24-mo and 2T outfits at $1 each. That's like 1/15th or 1/20th of what they probably cost new ... even if they're not in great shape, a kid has to have some grubby clothes to fingerpaint in, so I'm definitely going to be looking for her stuff. And another lady had a foot-tall stack of wooden knob puzzles that are totally going home with me, if they're still there when the seller's hour opens at 7 tonight.

Plus, one of our neighbors sells at the other church's sale, and she ended up with an extra pass to that seller's hour ... so I get to hit both sales before the rest of the public! Heaven! Wish me luck ... I'll let you know the haul (and the damage) after I return.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Oh .... my .... god ....

Well, it finally happened. For the past three months Liza has indicated she was finished with a meal by throwing all of her leftover food onto the floor, one piece at a time, while humming the inane "clean up" song I sing when I wipe off her hands and face. It was cute the first, oh, 100 times she did it, but I was getting tired of scraping peaches off the floor.

Today, however, when she looked like she was finished eating and about to start flinging, I asked her, "Are you all done?" And my daughter, perfect precious pearl that she is, emphatically made the sign for "All done" with such vigor that she damn near levitated out of her seat, all the while grinning maniacally and humming the clean up song. Holy cow, the kid is finally communicating!

And today when we've looked through her board books that show babies doing the signs for various meal- and bed-related activities, she's made pretty close approximations of about half of the signs, which is 10 or 12 more than she knew a week ago.

And after last week's experience telling me that every animal in her book said "Meeee-oooow," today she looked at each animal and said "baaaaaaa."

And today when I cut one of my dahlias to bring inside and show her, she touched it gently, just like I told her, and looked really surprised when I showed her that yes, this is a flower, and so are those things embroidered on her dress. When I asked her a few minutes later to point to the flower, she crawled over and stroked the dahlia ... despite the fact that she's probably never heard the word "flower" before today.

Not only is the kid tall, but she's a genius, too. Why do I have the feeling that she's going to be one of those kids who, once they start talking, don't ever stop talking except to sleep? I am so very much looking forward to 18 years of "mommy did you know that ants have 6 legs and spiders have 8 but cows only have 4 and people only have two and why don't we have six legs like the ants? I think that would be cool, even if it would be hard to find that many shoes that fit. Why don't we buy six shoes just in case I grow more legs tonight, mommy? Mommy? Why is that pillow over your head like that? Do you want me to go get your bourbon again, mommy?" Heck, anything is better than the screaming from this time last year.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Princess puddinghead

Today at dinner, Liza declined to eat any of the quiche we were having (going so far as to scrape it off of her tongue when some of it accidentally got into her mouth), and she was only moderately interested in her sweet corn. But the chocolate pudding? Oh, yeah!

Looks like we don't have to worry about her missing out on any of those important pudding-y nutrients, like, um, calcium! Or anti-oxidants! Or sugar!

Not that I'm worried about her eating habits or anything. This is the kid whose idea of snack is about half of a Fig Newton and as many grapes as she can weasel out of us. Juice? eh. Milk? Just hand her the gallon jug and she'll be happy.

Liza had her 15-month checkup yesterday (as well as her next-to-last round of shots for a couple of years ... hooray!). She's right at the 50th percentile for weight, and she's off the chart for height (that's 33 1/2", in case you're wondering). The nurse looked surprised when she measured Liza, and she mentioned that usually you can tell how tall an adult will be by doubling their height on their 2nd birthday. "If she stops growing for the next nine months, she'll still be 5' 7" tall," the nurse said. "If she doesn't make 6', she's not trying hard enough," was my response.

Actually, I'd be happier if she ended up slightly smaller than I am (in oh-so-many dimensions). It would be nice if she could shop for pants without having to worry about how short they look on her, and I REALLY hope her feet stop growing when she gets to be a 10, because being a 10 1/2 or 11 pretty much sucks. So think small(er) thoughts for my baby, okay? We don't need anymore Amazon women in the family.