Sunday, October 29, 2006

More lessons I've learned from my houses

  1. When buying a house, it's all about location, location, location. Try to avoid buying the house that's in the lowest spot on the street, because in the fall you'll end up with everyone else's leaves, in the spring you'll end up with everyone else's rainstorm runoff, and you'll end up with everyone else's litter year-round.
  2. Pessimist's corollary: Don't buy the highest house on the street, either, lest it be struck by lightning and you find out that your homeowners' insurance doesn't cover acts of god.
  3. Just because the previous owners installed replacement windows doesn't mean they bothered to caulk around them. After two years of feeling a persistent draft on my neck when sitting on the couch, I finally bought a couple tubes of sealer yesterday and took care of all of the uncaulked windows. Took maybe 45 minutes, and I swear the house is warmer already.
  4. When caulking windows, doors, or anything in the bathroom, about 75% of the caulk ends up getting scraped off when you smooth down the bead. This is unfortunate, but normal.
  5. Most of the quick and easy repairs recommended to improve the insulation in your house are neither quick nor cheap. The caulk wasn't terribly expensive, but I went through six packs of those little foam things that are supposed to keep drafts from coming through the light switches and electrical outlets, and I haven't even finished the first floor yet. And the estimated cost savings per year if I do the entire house is about $15 ... we'd better be here for another few years if we want to get our money back on the foam.
  6. If you insulate your home up to the current suggested R-values for your area of the country, you can deduct part of the expense from your federal taxes. But only if you install the stuff in 2006 or 2007, so check for more information. There's also a tax rebate for installing more efficient heating and cooling systems, and links to some of the state tax incentives for energy conservation.
  7. Am I the only one who finds it funny that the electric company sponsors a program that is designed to help consumers use less of its product? That's like tobacco companies running smoking cessation programs, or Weight Watchers selling food. Oh, never mind.
  8. Good teething toy for toddlers? Phillips head screwdriver.
  9. Jason needs to be careful what he says, even in offhand remarks. Yesterday there was an article in the newspaper about "reseasoning" your house - that is, reorganizing furniture and using different accessories when the seasons change. "So, when are you going to reseaon our house?" "Well, there aren't many ways we can reorganize the furniture in most of the rooms, so probably 'never.'" Then he goes and takes a 3-hour nap, during which time I manage to move my entire office out of the (unheated) porch room where it normal resides, and put it in the (heated) dining room. And I think I've worked out a way to reorganize the family room so that the couch is away from the drafty windows and over the heating vent instead. Dude, next weekend will be one horror show of moving dusty furniture, unplugging and replugging electronic equipment, and then me deciding I liked it better the original way. Sounds like fun to me!
  10. Preferred order of doing the fall clean-up tasks: a)trim the bushes, b) blow the leaves and bush trimmings out of the flowerbeds, c) mow the grass, d) weed the flowerbeds, e) put all the terracotta pots and weather-sensitive yard stuff away, f) put the hose away. It hardly ever gets done in the right order, so usually I end up blowing out all the leaves from the flower beds, then deciding to trim the bushes, so I have to rake out all the clippings again. Add to that the fact that all of the various trees surrounding our property drop their leaves at different times over the course of two months or more, and you've got a homeowner who has a leafblower in her hands most of the fall.
  11. Leafblowers are not quite as easy to use as they look. First you have to remember to try to blow everything with the direction of the wind, because otherwise it comes flying back almost as fast as it left. Then you have to take into account that it's easiest to blow leaves downhill, but most of the time the leaf collection point is somewhere uphill from where most of the leaves are. In the end, I don't think leafblowers are much faster than raking, but they sure are easier on your back.
  12. If you let it dry out for a few days first, dog poop will go airborne when confronted with a leafblower on "high." That's one of the many reasons it pays to stay upwind of the leaves you're trying to blow.

Unsolicited product plug

When Jason and I first moved to Cleveland, we had the good fortune to move into an apartment complex across the street from a homemade frozen custard store. Only open during baseball season (and a few weekends up through Halloween), Weber's had some of the best soft-serve ice cream ... er, custard on the planet. The chocolate and other normal flavors were great, but the standout was the pumpkin custard. Available only in the fall, and only in limited batches, it was like sucking down a heaping helping of frozen pumpkin pie filling. And I mean that in the best way. If you're anywhere near Fairview Park, I highly recommend a side trip to Weber's to check it out. It did, after all, win the best frozen custard award from Cleveland Scene magazine this year.§ion=19125&year=2006

If you have the misfortune of being nowhere near Fairview Park, you do have another option. Dreyer's, the makers of Edy's ice cream, has a pumpkin flavor that's pretty good. Not the same ultra-rich mouth feel as Weber's frozen custard, but the flavor is crisp and clean and pumpkiny, and it's a heck of a lot easier than driving to Cleveland. You can check on their web site to see if it's available in your area:

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The debut of Biker Baby

Complete with rasta skullcap and dreadlocks, mean jeans jacket (just ignore the cute flowers embroidered on it), authentic Daytona Biketoberfest Harley t-shirt (thanks, Sybil!), pleather pants, and jingly boots. Given the amount of kicking and screaming that accompanied getting her dressed to go out to our town's Halloween Hoedown, this may be the only time you're ever going to see her in the complete outfit. Oh, the screaming when the pleather pants were put on. She wouldn't even stand up once they were on ... just sort of writhed around on the floor like a fish out of water. If only we'd had the video camera close by ...

I think on Tuesday I'm going to try putting her in tights or a pair of pajama bottoms underneath the pleather, so it doesn't feel quite so weird to her. I've got two and a half days to teach her how to say something that sounds vaguely like "Trick or Treat," or at least "please." Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

October orchard jaunt

This is the second year we've dragged our daughter to the far side of Lexington to take her picture with pumpkins. Why do we do this, when there's a pumpkin patch 4 miles from our house? Because the orchard we go to has a whole little amusement area for the kids, including two slides you ride down on burlap bags, a very nice petting zoo, swings, hay rides, a snack bar that features cider slushies, etc. Since Liza is so young, the only thing we had to pay for was our lunch, the pumpkin we bought, and entrance for one adult to go to the petting zoo with her. And the petting zoo was totally worth the $3 or whatever it cost, because the animals were really vocal. Liza got to hear the noise a camel makes (don't ask me to write it out ... go rent The Story of the Weeping Camel and hear it for yourself ... excellent movie, by the way) and got to hear the donkey braying. The goats were maaaahhhh-ing, and I'm sure the kangaroo would have been making its own noise if they made noise, which I don't think they do. Anyway, she was suitably impressed.

Anyhoo, we took lots of pictures, way too many to post here. They're available online at Snapfish, but you have to access them through this link because the album is private:

I've been trying to post a picture from last year's trip to Boyd's, but blogger is being recalcitrant again. I'll try one more time, and then you'll just have to imagine the cuteness that was my 6-month-old daughter propped up against a pumpkin. Ha! Success at last!

(I really wasn't kidding about my hair loss)

What it's like

A New Orleans newspaper columnist describes his battle with depression, a disease he was reluctant to even admit existed. I wasn't quite as bad as he let himself get, but it was close.

Here she is with Bob the Blanket, so named because Liza pronounces "blanket" as "bahhhhh". Come to think of it, she pronounces most things as "bahhhhh." It's like living on a sheep farm around here some days.

Today at the library she kept saying "bahhhhh" and pointing to the door to the room where babytime was being held. "You already have your blanket," I said, since she was clutching Bob in the hand that wasn't pointing. Sometimes she forgets, you know, and when you point out that she already has what she's asking for, she acts like it just magically appeared there or something. Anyway, she kept saying the same thing, and so I looked around for other things that she says the same way. "Do you want the ball, sweetie?" Swat ... "Bahhhhhh!" "I'm sorry, but I don't know what you want."

Finally, after half a dozen rounds of "guess which thing she's trying to ask for," it dawns on me that when we were walking in, I told her we would go see our friends at babytime, then we would go see the parakeets over by the copy machine. "Do you want to see the birds?" "Bahh! Bahh! Bah!!" No change in pronunciation, but she's jumping up and down, trying to reach the door handle. I grabbed our stuff and opened the door for her, and she took off at full speed, stomping everything in her path with her jingly biker boots, making a beeline directly for the parakeets. Mom's Translation Service - we may not be fast, but we get it right eventually.

And, lest you think that my daughter has a speech impediment as well as a host of physical delays, let me just tell you that the other day my daughter said "river" after only hearing it twice. And she said it with the "ver," not some toddler-ized version of it. So the kid can talk when she wants to ... I think she's just too lazy to get out more than Bahhhhh except in special circumstances.

If you could take a biological culture from Bob, you'd find he has a germ population at least has high as the human population in the US, possibly higher, thanks to the cold Liza's currently sniffling and hacking her way through. Her nose has been running like a faucet, and since kleenex are apparently evil, it's easier to just let her wipe her nose on Bob. We do, after all, have four of them, and so far she doesn't seem to notice when I swap the stanky one for a clean one, even when I do it in plain sight. There's also enough yogurt and chocolate on today's Bob to sustain Liza for at least a day or two if there's some sort of food shortage, and I'm fairly sure I could knit a nice hat out of the cat hair it's picked up since I last swapped blankies after preschool on Monday. At least it hasn't made a trip through the maple syrup (yet).

On a side note, every time I see Liza toting around her little half-sized blanket, which is about the size of a hand towel, I get all misty-eyed thinking about Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and towels in general. Jason and I were supposed to be going to see the opening night of the (relatively crappy) new movie version of Hitchhiker's on the day when I was induced and had Liza, so we didn't get to see it until it came out on dvd like 6 months later. If you aren't familiar with Hitchhiker's lore and the exalted place held by the towel, here's an excerpt from the book, as related on, which explains some of it:

To quote from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

One of the characters in the book actually has one corner of his towel soaked in a nutrient solution as emergency rations, which is why I always think of it when Liza is smearing barbecue sauce all over it. For, you see, the character also had a spot of barbecue sauce on his towel, to get rid of the taste of the nutrient solution. Ah, Douglas Adams, how I miss you. I'm adding Towel Day to my calendar as we speak.

Ahem. Getting back to real life. The cold doesn't seem to slow Liza down much during the day, but it's been a pain in the butt to get her to bed the last two nights. I've had to rock her to sleep both nights, restraining her to keep her from emptying the bookshelf next to the chair for the fifth time each night; and to keep her hands out of my mouth, nose, ears, eyes, hair; and to keep her from hitting me; and tonight I got to threaten to just leave her there if she bit me one more time. I know she's sick, and I know she's teething, but this just isn't cool. I mean, I've got the same cold she does, and nobody rocks me to sleep when I've got postnasal drip so bad I have to sleep propped up at a 45 degree angle in bed.

And whatever happened to postnasal drip as a symptom? When I was a kid, I distinctly remember one of the types of Triaminic that I used to take listed postnasal drip as one of the symptoms it treated. Now all I see is "cough due to minor throat and bronchial irritation." Yeah, that's one way to describe it. Another way is "there's crap dripping down the back of my throat and making me wake up gagging and gasping for air." See, I'd know which medicine to take if that was listed as one of the symptoms. Annnddd ... thanks to the wonders of google, here's more than you ever really wanted to know about postnasal drip.

On a more pleasant subject, how cute is my daughter?

Oh, so very cute. When she's not trying to eat holly berries (yeah, I know they're poisonous), or bite me, or shove her entire hand up one of my nostrils. Some days, cute is the only thing that saves her. That, and the fact that if she's gone, who will I dress up in the biker boots and monkey butt pants?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

These boots are made for ...


Remember how I had to return part of Liza's Halloween costume because she refused to let the boots anywhere near her body? Sometimes things work out for the best, because yesterday I found the most perfect pair of biker boots, in her size, and she loves them. They were in a store I almost never visit, in a part of the store I wouldn't have even passed if there hadn't been major obstructions in the aisles between the baby section and the cash registers. We were walking past and, as a joke, I picked up the display of these boots and handed it to Liza, asking her if she wanted to try them on. Knowing her previous reactions to boots (aka "instruments of the devil"), I expected them to come flying back at me. Instead, she tried to pull off her Robeez, and when that didn't work, she tried to shove the boots on over top of her shoes. And when I found a pair for her and tried them on, she took off across the store at breakneck speed, stomping and jingling as she went. Here she is this afternoon, checking to see if they still jingle:

(yes, that is the Hannah Andersson Jungle Journey fleece jacket and monkey-butt pants I've been trying to win on eBay for the last two months ... I finally managed to find an auction that didn't go for an outrageous amount)

Other, less butch boots were rejected (aka heaved back in my face at full velocity), including a really cute pair of hot pink cowboy boots from Carters. I think she likes the original pair because a) they've got a soft shaft, so they're more like shoes with long socks attached, and b) these boots have bling!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the best part. The shoes she hated? $45. The shoes she loves and wore all day today? $17. Cha-ching!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Apocalypse Now

One of the benefits of a membership with Netflix is that I am finally catching up on some of the movies that I'm "supposed" to see ... you know, the ones that everybody seems to think are the best on the planet. Since a lot of movies in that category came out before I really cared about movies that didn't involve Mel Gibson, I've got a lot of catching up to do. And since these classics are always available, we can slot them in whenever we feel like taking a break from Lost or The Sopranos (or Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which I have to say was much funnier when I used to watch it in college).

Tonight I finally watched Apocalypse Now, and I've got to say, it's a good thing the Wellbutrin is at full strength and I had a craft project to do. Good god, is there a more depressing and slow-moving movie on the planet? Sure, the fact that Martin Sheen in the movie looks scarily like Charlie Sheen does now kept me amused for a while, and my mind boggled for at least 10 minutes over how absolutely green the future Han Solo looked in his role. I killed a few minutes trying to estimate how many gallons of fake sweat the actors went through during filming, and trying to figure out what was shot in Asia vs. faked in the US. Good thing I sat through the credits at the end, too, because otherwise I never would have recognized Larry - now Laurence - Fishburne as Clean. And who knew that Dennis Hopper wrote one of the songs in the soundtrack?

Yes, some of the scenes were very cinematic and beautifully shot, and the overall effect of the movie was probably what the director was going for - amazement at the pointlessness and brutality of the war and the things people did as part of it. But dude, I wasted 2 1/2 hours of baby sleep time on that? Crap. Not as bad as Mulholland Drive, but it's right up there.

Oh, and speaking of Dennis Hopper, does he ever have roles where he isn't some spaced out nutjob? No, I didn't think so.

Not that anyone at Netflix probably pays attention, but if anyone bothered to look, they'd get a chuckle over our queue. Returning Apocalypse Now, shipping Mary Poppins. Hee.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What really goes on when I sleep in on Sunday mornings

On weekends Jason is usually the one to get up when Liza wakes up, since I'm able to sleep in and he never can get back to sleep. In reality, I don't usually go back to sleep, but just lay in bed, revelling in my uselessness. It's heaven. Meanwhile, Jason fixes breakfast for himself and Liza, checks on his fantasy football stuff, etc.

And, apparently he boogies down and films it. I've cut out the worst of my husband's singing along and dancing, so you can focus on the absurd cuteness of my daughter. Without further ado, I present: Superfan!

Mental health update

Warning: this is a serious post. If you just come to this site for cute baby pictures, scroll down to the posts I put up a few minutes ago.

Are the new readers gone yet? Good.

As many of you know, after Liza was born I suffered from a relatively bad case of post-partum depression. I didn't have to check myself into a mental hospital, but it probably would have ended up that way if I hadn't gotten help when I did. Remember all those jokes I used to make about me scouting out locations to abandon Liza, like near the dumpsters at Kroger? Not so much jokes as rationalizations that if I told people about it, I couldn't actually do it, because then everyone would know that I had done it and my mother-in-law would hunt me down and kill me, she loved the kid that much.

I used to imagine I heard Liza crying, even when the baby monitor clearly showed that her room was completely quiet. I would be so convinced that she was crying, I would get out of bed, turn the monitor off and turn it back on again, just to be sure it was working. And I would hear her screaming when I was in the shower, and I'd turn off the water and grab a towel, only to realize that I was imagining the screaming and she was sleeping peacefully. Eventually it got to the point where I would just ignore the screaming when I was showering, whether the screaming was real or imaginary.

But I DID get help, and I started taking Zoloft, one of the few anti-depressants you can take while nursing. I wouldn't say that Zoloft was a cure-all, but it helped, and Liza got to be less colicky and I got to be better able to predict her schedule, and I never did have to put the dumpster plan into use. It was still rough, particularly around the 6-month mark when I was having thyroid issues and was absolutely exhausted all the time and all my hair was falling out. Did I ever tell you how for like 4 months every time I took a shower, I would lose so much hair that I would end up pulling a wad of hair the size of a small mouse out of my butt crack, where it had gotten wedged on its way from my head toward the drain? That was in addition to the mouse of hair that made it to the drain on the first try ... every time I took a shower. I had to keep a Swiffer in the bathroom and sweep every day or two, just to prevent the tumbleweeds of my own hair from overwhelming us, and I think we went through like three bottles of Professional Strenth Drano. Not fun.

The standard length of treatment for post-partum depression is to continue the medication for at least a year after the patient has stabilized, which for me ended earlier this summer. I talked with my doctor about what we'd do then, since I wasn't that thrilled with some of the side effects of the Zoloft, especially compared to the Wellbutrin I had taken for depression before we decided to have a baby. For example, the Zoloft didn't really help me get to sleep, but it did leave me yawning uncontrollably for most of the day anytime I didn't get the exact right amount of sleep (i.e. - perpetually). The Wellbutrin, on the other hand, was perfect for sleep - it shut up the little voice inside my head that kept making lists and plans and critiques of my behavior (see the masthead of this blog). I would lay down, and five minutes later I would be asleep. For those of us who have had sleep issues for years, it was bliss.

So about a month ago I started taking the Wellbutrin again, at the same dose I took prior to getting pregnant. Wellbutrin isn't an SSRI like Zoloft, so the two drugs can be taken together, and it doesn't require any ramping up or down of dosages when you start or stop taking it. It does, however, take a few weeks to accumulate in your body to a level that makes it most effective, so the plan was to start the Wellbutrin, get it up to full effectiveness, then taper off the Zoloft (which you can't quit cold turkey or your head explodes, or some such thing).

I'm up to full strength on the Wellbutrin, and I've spent the past two weeks at half dosage on my Zoloft. As soon as I started the Wellbutrin, my sleeping got better - not spectacular, but at least I am now less familiar with the topography of my bedroom ceiling than I was when I was spending hours staring at it trying to get to sleep. And almost as soon as I cut back my Zoloft dosage, I began dreaming again.

Just to back up a minute - I don't dream. Even as a kid, I would have nightmares occasionally, but only had dreams I could remember once or twice a year. Yes, I know I was actually dreaming, just not remembering them, but the effect is the same. As an adult, the only time I consistently remembered my dreams was when I tried St. John's Wort for depression, and when I was pregnant. But in the last two weeks I've had probably 10 mornings where I woke up and could remember at least fragments of dreams. I had almost forgotten what that was like. And I had forgotten how much I missed it ... it's like how you don't notice how bad the reception on your tv is until you get cable, and then you wonder how you ever watched tv without it.

And last week I actually felt good. Not just "not bad," not just "I promise not to kill the kid today," but actually, factually good. I got the house clean, I got most of the yard sale stuff priced, I got yard work done, I played with Liza, I came up with several new designs I want to make for my etsy shop, I cooked, I even made sugar cookies, for god's sake. Again, it was like my eyes were open for the first time - you mean normal people feel like this most of the time? Jesus Christ, what have I been doing?

I don't know if it was the Wellbutrin kicking in, the Zoloft dropping out, the particular time of month it was, or some sort of random abberation in the fabric of the universe, but by god, I hope it happens again. It's been a little tough this week because Liza's been teething - hard - and when her mood is shot, so's mine. And we're all a little short on sleep, which doesn't make any of us easier to deal with. But even so, I have noticed that during the sleep troubles over the past few weeks, I've been a lot less despondent and a lot more patient, trusting that Liza will eventually get back to a normal schedule and we'll all survive. Sure, letting her climb on me like a monkey for two hours in the middle of the night is annoying, but it's not the end of the world. It helps that Jason has been willing to take over on weekends and give me some time to myself some evenings - he's been great through this whole ordeal, especially early on when we were both sleep deprived and I'm sure he wanted to run away from home just to get some sleep.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of feeling good is that I write best when I'm miserable and have something to complain about in a wry and witty fashion. I just can't make it funny when I'm talking about how great things are, if you know what I mean. And because I've been so productive and been feeling so creative, I haven't even been feeling the urge to write much beyond the standard "isn't my kid so cute" posts. I've been making a lot of progress on my patterns for etsy, and I think that's sucking up all of my writing energy right now.

So I guess this is a warning that I may not be posting quite as often, or my posts may be different than they have been in the past. Sorry if you miss the old, sarcastic me - but as much as I'll miss the funny writing, I'd rather skip the sarcasm and have the me that's able smile when I look at my daughter, even at 1 am when she's jumping up and down on my kidneys while I lay on the couch.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some laundry to iron and a quilt to make. Hooray!

Cooking class

Liza has progressed from casseroles to the more complicated art of yeast breads, more specifically pizza dough.

No, I don't usually make my pizza dough on the floor, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies to let Liza use the stepladder in the kitchen near the knives and toaster oven and other dangerous things. Oh, and I need to make a mental note: letting Liza stir the pizza dough probably isn't the best idea when she's been having one of her "let's fling things everywhere" days.

Did you know that if you try to use a Dustbuster to pick up bread dough, you just end up smearing most of it all over the floor? Now you do.

Next up: get Grandma to teach Liza to make pie dough so I can avoid that onerous task for the next 18 years. Oh, and brownies. Drag that stepladder over here and bake me some brownies, baby!

playing catch-up

Remember I mentioned in a recent post that the first hat I made for Liza was finally going to fit her? I was right:

Okay, it sort of makes her look like a dockworker wearing an eggplant on her head, but at least it kept her noggin warm ... for the 30 seconds she kept it on.

See that? That's my daughter riding a Big Girl Swing. And not falling off (yet)!

And this one is for all those people who say Liza looks exactly like me. Check out the eyes on these two (and the bags underneath ... it's been a long couple of weeks for everyone around here):

I'd post a photo of their startlingly similar scary toenails, but I don't want to lose any readers due to gross content. Let's just say, you look at those feet and there's no doubt that Jason was somehow involved in her conception. Let's just hope she got his knees, too.

Oh, and see this? This is the most precious pumpkin on the planet, at least on the days when she's not screaming, biting me, hitting me in the face, plopping her ass down on my face when I'm resting on the couch, or whining incessantly because - horror of horrors - I dared to breathe her air.

We just won't dwell on the fact that not only did I have to take 25 shots to get one where she was actually smiling, but we had to take these shots during a walk to the park which was occasioned by an extreme case of "If we don't get this child out in public soon, one of us is going to strangle her." Did I mention it's been a long couple of weeks? To paraphrase a friend of mine, "Hi, I'm Liza, and I'd like you to think I'm two."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Fall in a small town

You can tell it's fall here in town because Big World, the crazy guy who drives around town every day on his lawn mower, is renting out advertising space on his trailer to candidates in the local elections:

And he's traded his summer "sombrero and banana-seat bicycle" look for the puffy coat and lawn mower ... that's the real giveaway. And yes, Big World is his name - says so right on the lawn mower and everything.

Oh, and last time the people where Jason works checked, it costs about $40 to advertise on Big World's trailer for a day. At least it does if you want him to drive around the work parking lot at lunch time with a snide birthday announcement for a coworker. Not a bad rate of return, even with today's gas prices. Do you think I could charge higher prices if I had a cute baby strapped into my trailer with the signs? Then again, buying the sombrero and bicycle would really cut into my profits ...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ze Frank, being funny so I can go to sleep

Ze Frank has been posting a video blog every weekday for more than half a year now, as part of the League of Awesomeness's plan to take over the Internet. Some of the shows are funny, some are (somewhat) serious, and some make me snort Diet Coke out of my nose. Today's show starts off slow, but the last 45 seconds or so are the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

the show with zefrank

Then again, could just be the lack of sleep talking. Sleep? What's that? I think I had some of that a few weeks ago, before my daughter returned to Satan's fold and forsook the Land of Nod for The Land of Screeching and Writhing Until 1:30 am. More on that fascinating subject later. For now, just watch Ze, okay?

Sunday, October 08, 2006


When we were in Cape May I splurged and bought some funky yarn and a new pattern to make a sweater for Liza, because I don't have enough craft projects right now (hah!). I've been diligently working on it, and after an entire season of Lost episodes on DVD, I have ... the back finished.

This slow production is because the sweater is knit, and I am probably the slowest knitter on the planet. Okay, there's probably some one-armed blind lady in Mongolia who spins her own yarn from yak fleece who takes longer than me to make a sweater, but even with several projects' worth of experience, my speed could still be described as "glacial."

I'm probably not actually that slow, especially since I'm persistent and motivated to finish projects once I start them. I may have to chip away at it, 1/2" per night, but by god, I will finish that sweater ... or Christmas stocking ... or baby hat. So if you count the span of a project in days from beginning to end, I'm much faster than those people who knit fast but set the project aside a lot so it takes them two years to finish a scarf. That would drive me insane, to have a project sitting there half finished for that long.

I think I'm also spoiled because my garment-making method of choice is crochet. Compared to knitting, crochet is finished in a flash. It eats up a LOT more yarn, and it usually ends up with heavier finished products (remember that 8-pound baptism dress I made?), but damn, it's fast. I mean, some of the projects I've done recently have used large hooks, so each ROW is 1/2", not each night of work.

There are some really cute knit hat patterns in my new booklet, but I keep looking at them thinking, "Yeah, but if I crochet a hat, it won't be quite as cute, but I can finish it in two hours and move on to another project." And since Liza's going to outgrow whatever I make in at most two years, I don't have much motivation to make projects that will annoy me during the construction, even if they will be really cute. I mean, in order for me to make the effort, it would have to be amazingly cute. So cute that I'd want to take her picture every time I saw it. So cute I would pack it away in the box I have labeled "Mementos I feel I have to save so Liza can throw them out when she's 30." It would be in there right next to the eensy weensy hat I knit her when I was expecting, and that damn baptism dress.

What? You've never seen the hat? Well, I can fix that:

Yes, that's the precious pumpkin in the hospital, so new she's still got vernix in the creases in her skin, ready to come home and start raisin' hell. This hat fit better than the first one I made, which is big enough that it will probably fit her this year, but it's not quite as cute as the third one I made, which (purposely) looks like a lavender eggplant:

My god, was the kid cute in January, or what???? Oh, and the stocking? Here's Liza's, one of four (gah!) I made during a fit of insanity last year when I was busy trying to ignore my screaming child and I thought extra experience might make me knit faster. Nope - but I now have enough stockings for me, Jason, Liza, and at least two extra people, if you include ones we already had on hand.

Okay, time to get back to my knitting ... groan.

Oh, while I'm talking about crafts ... if you haven't checked my etsy shop recently, there are some new hats and scarves up, as well as the second official Lazy Mama pattern, this one for quick quilted placemats. Take a gander at: . Tell all your friends! Buy lots of stuff!

Could somebody try this link?

If things work right, it should take you to an online album at, wherein you can see way too many photos from our beach vacation. If it doesn't work, please leave a comment, and I'll see if I can find another way to link to it.

I'm sorry, but this is NOT what I want to be minty fresh

I know that I'm not in this product's target market, which I'm assuming includes single folks who have multiple partners and want to be sure to prevent the spread of nasty diseases. But I still can't see the need for scented, flavored protection. And if I did want anything down there to have a scent, "mint" isn't the one that's going to get my motor running. Something sandalwood-y or musk-y or otherwise sensual? Maybe. Chocolate? Maybe, but still disturbing. Toothpaste flavor? Not so much. Then again, there would be less need to brush afterward ... okay, I'm going to go stand in the naughty corner now. Somebody call me when it's time to come out.

btw, if you ARE in the product's target market, the link above will take you to a page where you can get a free sample. Courtesy of , the absurdly cool freebie finder, which normally has more mundane things like detergent and razor samples.

Friday, October 06, 2006

jumping back on the planet

Yeah, yeah - I know ... I never call, I never write. YOU try to come up with non-whiny-sounding blog topics when your child insists on waking up at 2 in the morning, as wired as if she had just chugged a couple espressos and done a few lines of coke. You can't, trust me.

So yes, the travel stress/preschool stress/separation anxiety stress/blankie2.0 stress-induced sleep issues continued past the first night, including the ever popular blankie throwing and refusing to go back to sleep for at least two hours in the middle of the night. Teeth were gnashed, Baby Einstein videos were watched, and I even resorted to co-sleeping one night ... um, two nights, if you count the first one when she fell asleep on my arm on the couch and I was afraid to move her for more than an hour. I got helpful advice from friends and family members, such as, "What did you think was going to happen when you cut her blanket in half?" (unspoken subtext: dumbass) and "She's got a raging ear infection, get her to the doctor as soon as you can" (despite the total lack of symptoms other than sleep issues) and perhaps my favorite, "Buy some earplugs and just let her cry ... she'll get over it."

That last was from Ellen, who went through this whole separation anxiety thing with her 17-month-old daughter earlier this summer. Since her daughter is a handful of months older than mine, and seems to be of a similar intensity, I think I need to go back and read more about how she handled some of this stuff ... because she was right, the night waking did go away as quickly as it started (although we never did the full-on cry-it-out, what with the blankie-throwing and all), and I've had a full night's sleep for three days in a row. Bliss!

Today Liza and I ran errands up in town, things like dropping off a package at the post office, returning some extra yarn at Michael's, and, oh yeah, returning the ABSOLUTELY DROP DEAD CUTE BOOTS THAT WERE AN INTEGRAL PART OF HER HALLOWEEN COSTUME THAT SHE REFUSED TO LET WITHIN TWO FEET OF HER BODY. I mean, how can she be a biker baby if she doesn't have biker boots? And these were perfect, cute enough that she could wear them all fall, and studly enough that when she had the leather pants covering the top part, she'd look VERY butch. I'd post a photo of them, but blogger is being recalcitrant this evening. Anyway, if anyone heard a high-pitched keening yesterday morning, that was my daughter shrieking as if the insides of the boots were lined with glass shards and hypodermic needles ... and she wasn't even standing up yet. Ever see a kid try to walk without letting either of her feet touch the floor? Not a pretty sight. She started screeching anytime she saw the boots, it was that bad. Yes, I checked the boots to make sure there wasn't anything funky going on inside, and yes, I checked her feet for blisters. I think she just has a thing against boots.

In other shoe news, I managed to find the gecko Robeez for a slightly lower price on eBay, so that's what my daughter will be stylin' in this fall. Those, and a couple pairs of Stride Rite shoes we invested in today. One pair was an older style that looks sort of like this, and it's in the mail and should be here next week. The others are a pair of hot pink velcro sneakers that look like these, only hot pink. Can I just say that trying to wrangle a toddler by myself in a shoe store is like herding cats? Good lord, the child wanted to be anywhere but sitting down, putting on shoes. She did a little better after the first pair, when she realized that these were more like her comfy sandals and less like the Instruments of Torture we returned, but there was still a lot of tackling involved in the process. Trust me, it's not a coincidence that the two pairs of shoes we bought can be fastened with one piece of velcro.

Well, I've got to go so we can watch Disc 7 of the second season of Lost, so that we can watch the first episode of the third season that we taped this week. I can't believe we finally got caught up - it took us two weeks of watching nothing but Lost every single night, but we're finally there. Sopranos, season two - here we come!

Monday, October 02, 2006

What I did this weekend

When we bought our house, one of the home improvements that was immediately obviously needed was an improvement in the Closet Situation. The master bedroom closet, while barely adequate, was cramped, forcing Jason to put his clothes in a wardrobe in the bathroom. And the coat closet on the first floor was apparently sacrificed to the Gods of the Powder Room by the house's previous owners, because there wasn't anyplace to hang coats or put shoes. We've been living with coat hooks on the wall and lopsided formica wardrobes in the bathroom for two years, and this weekend I finally decided to do something about it.

Step 1: Convert unused space in bathroom to giant (but shallow) closet for me, complete with the spiffy closet organizer I've always wanted:

The space! The shelves! The off-season shoe storage! Every time I walk in there, I get a huge grin on my face.

Step 2: Move lopsided formica wardrobes downstairs to act as temporary coat closets until I can convince Jason to shell out money for nicer looking ones.

The hanging storage space! The drawer! Oh, it's almost too much for my heart to take.

Step 3: Make a curtain to enclose the newly organized bathroom closet extravaganza, using really cool fabric:

As you can see, I'm lagging a bit behind on Step 3, but at least I have the fabric in hand. 8-foot-long-seams, here I come!

Then and now

May 2005: Liza helps peel peaches for the Memorial Day picnic

September 30, 2006: Liza helps make meals for the two VERY pregnant ladies in our playgroup

That's my little tiny baby, doing something useful in the kitchen (sniff, sniff) Now if I could just teach her to make brownies for me, I might forgive her for the night wakings last week ...